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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

The Yankee And The King Sold As Slaves
Well, what had I better do? Nothing in a hurry, sure. I must get up a diversion; anything
to employ me while I could think, and while these poor fellows could have a chance to
come to life again. There sat Marco, petrified in the act of trying to get the hang of his
miller-gun--turned to stone, just in the attitude he was in when my pile-driver fell, the toy
still gripped in his unconscious fingers. So I took it from him and proposed to explain its
mystery. Mystery! a simple little thing like that; and yet it was mysterious enough, for
that race and that age.
I never saw such an awkward people, with machinery; you see, they were totally unused
to it. The miller-gun was a little double-barreled tube of toughened glass, with a neat little
trick of a spring to it, which upon pressure would let a shot escape. But the shot wouldn't
hurt anybody, it would only drop into your hand. In the gun were two sizes--wee
mustard-seed shot, and another sort that were several times larger. They were money. The
mustard-seed shot represented milrays, the larger ones mills. So the gun was a purse; and
very handy, too; you could pay out money in the dark with it, with accuracy; and you
could carry it in your mouth; or in your vest pocket, if you had one. I made them of
several sizes-- one size so large that it would carry the equivalent of a dollar. Using shot
for money was a good thing for the government; the metal cost nothing, and the money
couldn't be counterfeited, for I was the only person in the kingdom who knew how to
manage a shot tower. "Paying the shot" soon came to be a common phrase. Yes, and I
knew it would still be passing men's lips, away down in the nineteenth century, yet none
would suspect how and when it originated.
The king joined us, about this time, mightily refreshed by his nap, and feeling good.
Anything could make me nervous now, I was so uneasy--for our lives were in danger;
and so it worried me to detect a complacent something in the king's eye which seemed to
indicate that he had been loading himself up for a performance of some kind or other;
confound it, why must he go and choose such a time as this?
I was right. He began, straight off, in the most innocently artful, and transparent, and
lubberly way, to lead up to the subject of agriculture. The cold sweat broke out all over
me. I wanted to whisper in his ear, "Man, we are in awful danger! every moment is worth
a principality till we get back these men's confidence; don't waste any of this golden
time." But of course I couldn't do it. Whisper to him? It would look as if we were
conspiring. So I had to sit there and look calm and pleasant while the king stood over that
dynamite mine and mooned along about his damned onions and things. At first the tumult
of my own thoughts, summoned by the danger-signal and swarming to the rescue from
every quarter of my skull, kept up such a hurrah and confusion and fifing and drumming
that I couldn't take in a word; but presently when my mob of gathering plans began to
crystallize and fall into position and form line of battle, a sort of order and quiet ensued
and I caught the boom of the king's batteries, as if out of remote distance:
 
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