A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
In the stillness and the darkness, realization soon began to supplement knowledge. The
mere knowledge of a fact is pale; but when you come to realize your fact, it takes on
color. It is all the difference between hearing of a man being stabbed to the heart, and
seeing it done. In the stillness and the darkness, the knowledge that I was in deadly
danger took to itself deeper and deeper meaning all the time; a something which was
realization crept inch by inch through my veins and turned me cold.
But it is a blessed provision of nature that at times like these, as soon as a man's mercury
has got down to a certain point there comes a revulsion, and he rallies. Hope springs up,
and cheerfulness along with it, and then he is in good shape to do something for himself,
if anything can be done. When my rally came, it came with a bound. I said to myself that
my eclipse would be sure to save me, and make me the greatest man in the kingdom
besides; and straightway my mercury went up to the top of the tube, and my solicitudes
all vanished. I was as happy a man as there was in the world. I was even impatient for to-
morrow to come, I so wanted to gather in that great triumph and be the center of all the
nation's wonder and reverence. Besides, in a business way it would be the making of me;
I knew that.
Meantime there was one thing which had got pushed into the background of my mind.
That was the half-conviction that when the nature of my proposed calamity should be
reported to those superstitious people, it would have such an effect that they would want
to compromise. So, by and by when I heard footsteps coming, that thought was recalled
to me, and I said to myself, "As sure as anything, it's the compromise. Well, if it is good,
all right, I will accept; but if it isn't, I mean to stand my ground and play my hand for all
it is worth."
The door opened, and some men-at-arms appeared. The leader said:
"The stake is ready. Come!"
The stake! The strength went out of me, and I almost fell down. It is hard to get one's
breath at such a time, such lumps come into one's throat, and such gaspings; but as soon
as I could speak, I said:
"But this is a mistake--the execution is to-morrow."
"Order changed; been set forward a day. Haste thee!"
I was lost. There was no help for me. I was dazed, stupefied; I had no command over
myself, I only wandered purposely about, like one out of his mind; so the soldiers took
hold of me, and pulled me along with them, out of the cell and along the maze of
underground corridors, and finally into the fierce glare of daylight and the upper world.
As we stepped into the vast enclosed court of the castle I got a shock; for the first thing I