A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Drilling The King
On the morning of the fourth day, when it was just sunrise, and we had been tramping an
hour in the chill dawn, I came to a resolution: the king must be drilled; things could not
go on so, he must be taken in hand and deliberately and conscientiously drilled, or we
couldn't ever venture to enter a dwelling; the very cats would know this masquerader for
a humbug and no peasant. So I called a halt and said:
"Sire, as between clothes and countenance, you are all right, there is no discrepancy; but
as between your clothes and your bearing, you are all wrong, there is a most noticeable
discrepancy. Your soldierly stride, your lordly port--these will not do. You stand too
straight, your looks are too high, too confident. The cares of a kingdom do not stoop the
shoulders, they do not droop the chin, they do not depress the high level of the eye-
glance, they do not put doubt and fear in the heart and hang out the signs of them in
slouching body and unsure step. It is the sordid cares of the lowly born that do these
things. You must learn the trick; you must imitate the trademarks of poverty, misery,
oppression, insult, and the other several and common inhumanities that sap the manliness
out of a man and make him a loyal and proper and approved subject and a satisfaction to
his masters, or the very infants will know you for better than your disguise, and we shall
go to pieces at the first hut we stop at. Pray try to walk like this."
The king took careful note, and then tried an imitation.
"Pretty fair--pretty fair. Chin a little lower, please--there, very good. Eyes too high; pray
don't look at the horizon, look at the ground, ten steps in front of you. Ah--that is better,
that is very good. Wait, please; you betray too much vigor, too much decision; you want
more of a shamble. Look at me, please--this is what I mean.... Now you are getting it; that
is the idea--at least, it sort of approaches it.... Yes, that is pretty fair. But! There is a great
big something wanting, I don't quite know what it is. Please walk thirty yards, so that I
can get a perspective on the thing.... Now, then--your head's right, speed's right, shoulders
right, eyes right, chin right, gait, carriage, general style right--everything's right! And yet
the fact remains, the aggregate's wrong. The account don't balance. Do it again, please....
Now I think I begin to see what it is. Yes, I've struck it. You see, the genuine
spiritlessness is wanting; that's what's the trouble. It's all amateur--mechanical details all
right, almost to a hair; everything about the delusion perfect, except that it don't delude."
"What, then, must one do, to prevail?"
"Let me think... I can't seem to quite get at it. In fact, there isn't anything that can right the
matter but practice. This is a good place for it: roots and stony ground to break up your
stately gait, a region not liable to interruption, only one field and one hut in sight, and
they so far away that nobody could see us from there. It will be well to move a little off
the road and put in the whole day drilling you, sire."
After the drill had gone on a little while, I said: