A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Part 8. by Mark Twain


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's
Court, Part 8., by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Part 8.

Author: Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

Release Date: July 7, 2004 [EBook #7249]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CONNECTICUT YANKEE ***




Produced by David Widger





A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT

by

MARK TWAIN
(Samuel L. Clemens)

Part 8.



CHAPTER XXXVI

AN ENCOUNTER IN THE DARK

London--to a slave--was a sufficiently interesting place. It was
merely a great big village; and mainly mud and thatch. The streets
were muddy, crooked, unpaved. The populace was an ever flocking
and drifting swarm of rags, and splendors, of nodding plumes and
shining armor. The king had a palace there; he saw the outside
of it. It made him sigh; yes, and swear a little, in a poor
juvenile sixth century way. We saw knights and grandees whom
we knew, but they didn't know us in our rags and dirt and raw
welts and bruises, and wouldn't have recognized us if we had hailed
them, nor stopped to answer, either, it being unlawful to speak
with slaves on a chain. Sandy passed within ten yards of me on
a mule--hunting for me, I imagined. But the thing which clean
broke my heart was something which happened in front of our old
barrack in a square, while we were enduring the spectacle of a man
being boiled to death in oil for counterfeiting pennies. It was
the sight of a newsboy--and I couldn't get at him! Still, I had
one comfort--here was proof that Clarence was still alive and
banging away. I meant to be with him before long; the thought was
full of cheer.

I had one little glimpse of another thing, one day, which gave me
a great uplift. It was a wire stretching from housetop to housetop.
Telegraph or telephone, sure. I did very much wish I had a little
piece of it. It was just what I needed, in order to carry out my
project of escape. My idea was to get loose some night, along with
the king, then gag and bind our master, change clothes with him,
batter him into the aspect of a stranger, hitch him to the slave-chain,
assume possession of the property, march to Camelot, and--

But you get my idea; you see what a stunning dramatic surprise
I would wind up with at the palace. It was all feasible, if
I could only get hold of a slender piece of iron which I could
shape into a lock-pick. I could then undo the lumbering padlocks
with which our chains were fastened, whenever I might choose.
But I never had any luck; no such thing ever happened to fall
in my way. However, my chance came at last. A gentleman who
had come twice before to dicker for me, without result, or indeed
any approach to a result, came again. I was far from expecting
ever to belong to him, for the price asked for me from the time
I was first enslaved was exorbitant, and always provoked either
anger or derision, yet my master stuck stubbornly to it--twenty-two
dollars. He wouldn't bate a cent. The king was greatly admired,
because of his grand physique, but his kingly style was against
him, and he wasn't salable; nobody wanted that kind of a slave.
I considered myself safe from parting from him because of my
extravagant price. No, I was not expecting to ever belong to
this gentleman whom I have spoken of, but he had something which
I expected would belong to me eventually, if he would but visit
us often enough. It was a steel thing with a long pin to it, with
which his long cloth outside garment was fastened together in
front. There were three of them. He had disappointed me twice,
because he did not come quite close enough to me to make my project
entirely safe; but this time I succeeded; I captured the lower
clasp of the three, and when he missed it he thought he had lost
it on the way.

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