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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Knights Of The Table Round
Mainly the Round Table talk was monologues--narrative accounts of the adventures in
which these prisoners were captured and their friends and backers killed and stripped of
their steeds and armor. As a general thing--as far as I could make out--these murderous
adventures were not forays undertaken to avenge injuries, nor to settle old disputes or
sudden fallings out; no, as a rule they were simply duels between strangers--duels
between people who had never even been introduced to each other, and between whom
existed no cause of offense whatever. Many a time I had seen a couple of boys, strangers,
meet by chance, and say simultaneously, "I can lick you," and go at it on the spot; but I
had always imagined until now that that sort of thing belonged to children only, and was
a sign and mark of childhood; but here were these big boobies sticking to it and taking
pride in it clear up into full age and beyond. Yet there was something very engaging
about these great simple-hearted creatures, something attractive and lovable. There did
not seem to be brains enough in the entire nursery, so to speak, to bait a fish-hook with;
but you didn't seem to mind that, after a little, because you soon saw that brains were not
needed in a society like that, and indeed would have marred it, hindered it, spoiled its
symmetry--perhaps rendered its existence impossible.
There was a fine manliness observable in almost every face; and in some a certain
loftiness and sweetness that rebuked your belittling criticisms and stilled them. A most
noble benignity and purity reposed in the countenance of him they called Sir Galahad,
and likewise in the king's also; and there was majesty and greatness in the giant frame
and high bearing of Sir Launcelot of the Lake.
There was presently an incident which centered the general interest upon this Sir
Launcelot. At a sign from a sort of master of ceremonies, six or eight of the prisoners
rose and came forward in a body and knelt on the floor and lifted up their hands toward
the ladies' gallery and begged the grace of a word with the queen. The most
conspicuously situated lady in that massed flower-bed of feminine show and finery
inclined her head by way of assent, and then the spokesman of the prisoners delivered
himself and his fellows into her hands for free pardon, ransom, captivity, or death, as she
in her good pleasure might elect; and this, as he said, he was doing by command of Sir
Kay the Seneschal, whose prisoners they were, he having vanquished them by his single
might and prowess in sturdy conflict in the field.
Surprise and astonishment flashed from face to face all over the house; the queen's
gratified smile faded out at the name of Sir Kay, and she looked disappointed; and the
page whispered in my ear with an accent and manner expressive of extravagant derision--
"Sir Kay, forsooth! Oh, call me pet names, dearest, call me a marine! In twice a thousand
years shall the unholy invention of man labor at odds to beget the fellow to this majestic
lie!"
 
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