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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

The First Newspaper
When I told the king I was going out disguised as a petty freeman to scour the country
and familiarize myself with the humbler life of the people, he was all afire with the
novelty of the thing in a minute, and was bound to take a chance in the adventure
himself--nothing should stop him--he would drop everything and go along--it was the
prettiest idea he had run across for many a day. He wanted to glide out the back way and
start at once; but I showed him that that wouldn't answer. You see, he was billed for the
king's-evil--to touch for it, I mean--and it wouldn't be right to disappoint the house and it
wouldn't make a delay worth considering, anyway, it was only a one-night stand. And I
thought he ought to tell the queen he was going away. He clouded up at that and looked
sad. I was sorry I had spoken, especially when he said mournfully:
"Thou forgettest that Launcelot is here; and where Launcelot is, she noteth not the going
forth of the king, nor what day he returneth."
Of course, I changed the Subject. Yes, Guenever was beautiful, it is true, but take her all
around she was pretty slack. I never meddled in these matters, they weren't my affair, but
I did hate to see the way things were going on, and I don't mind saying that much. Many's
the time she had asked me, "Sir Boss, hast seen Sir Launcelot about?" but if ever she
went fretting around for the king I didn't happen to be around at the time.
There was a very good lay-out for the king's-evil business--very tidy and creditable. The
king sat under a canopy of state; about him were clustered a large body of the clergy in
full canonicals. Conspicuous, both for location and personal outfit, stood Marinel, a
hermit of the quack-doctor species, to introduce the sick. All abroad over the spacious
floor, and clear down to the doors, in a thick jumble, lay or sat the scrofulous, under a
strong light. It was as good as a tableau; in fact, it had all the look of being gotten up for
that, though it wasn't. There were eight hundred sick people present. The work was slow;
it lacked the interest of novelty for me, because I had seen the ceremonies before; the
thing soon became tedious, but the proprieties required me to stick it out. The doctor was
there for the reason that in all such crowds there were many people who only imagined
something was the matter with them, and many who were consciously sound but wanted
the immortal honor of fleshly contact with a king, and yet others who pretended to illness
in order to get the piece of coin that went with the touch. Up to this time this coin had
been a wee little gold piece worth about a third of a dollar. When you consider how much
that amount of money would buy, in that age and country, and how usual it was to be
scrofulous, when not dead, you would understand that the annual king's-evil
appropriation was just the River and Harbor bill of that government for the grip it took on
the treasury and the chance it afforded for skinning the surplus. So I had privately
concluded to touch the treasury itself for the king's-evil. I covered six-sevenths of the
appropriation into the treasury a week before starting from Camelot on my adventures,
and ordered that the other seventh be inflated into five-cent nickels and delivered into the
hands of the head clerk of the King's Evil Department; a nickel to take the place of each
gold coin, you see, and do its work for it. It might strain the nickel some, but I judged it
 
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