A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
man's coat looks as if it had been done with a biscuit-punch. There was a fireplace big
enough to camp in; and its projecting sides and hood, of carved and pillared stonework,
had the look of a cathedral door. Along the walls stood men-at-arms, in breastplate and
morion, with halberds for their only weapon-- rigid as statues; and that is what they
In the middle of this groined and vaulted public square was an oaken table which they
called the Table Round. It was as large as a circus ring; and around it sat a great company
of men dressed in such various and splendid colors that it hurt one's eyes to look at them.
They wore their plumed hats, right along, except that whenever one addressed himself
directly to the king, he lifted his hat a trifle just as he was beginning his remark.
Mainly they were drinking--from entire ox horns; but a few were still munching bread or
gnawing beef bones. There was about an average of two dogs to one man; and these sat in
expectant attitudes till a spent bone was flung to them, and then they went for it by
brigades and divisions, with a rush, and there ensued a fight which filled the prospect
with a tumultuous chaos of plunging heads and bodies and flashing tails, and the storm of
howlings and barkings deafened all speech for the time; but that was no matter, for the
dog-fight was always a bigger interest anyway; the men rose, sometimes, to observe it the
better and bet on it, and the ladies and the musicians stretched themselves out over their
balusters with the same object; and all broke into delighted ejaculations from time to
time. In the end, the winning dog stretched himself out comfortably with his bone
between his paws, and proceeded to growl over it, and gnaw it, and grease the floor with
it, just as fifty others were already doing; and the rest of the court resumed their previous
industries and entertainments.
As a rule, the speech and behavior of these people were gracious and courtly; and I
noticed that they were good and serious listeners when anybody was telling anything--I
mean in a dog-fightless interval. And plainly, too, they were a childlike and innocent lot;
telling lies of the stateliest pattern with a most gentle and winning naivety, and ready and
willing to listen to anybody else's lie, and believe it, too. It was hard to associate them
with anything cruel or dreadful; and yet they dealt in tales of blood and suffering with a
guileless relish that made me almost forget to shudder.
I was not the only prisoner present. There were twenty or more. Poor devils, many of
them were maimed, hacked, carved, in a frightful way; and their hair, their faces, their
clothing, were caked with black and stiffened drenchings of blood. They were suffering
sharp physical pain, of course; and weariness, and hunger and thirst, no doubt; and at
least none had given them the comfort of a wash, or even the poor charity of a lotion for
their wounds; yet you never heard them utter a moan or a groan, or saw them show any
sign of restlessness, or any disposition to complain. The thought was forced upon me:
"The rascals--they have served other people so in their day; it being their own turn, now,
they were not expecting any better treatment than this; so their philosophical bearing is
not an outcome of mental training, intellectual fortitude, reasoning; it is mere animal
training; they are white Indians."