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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Merlin's Tower
Inasmuch as I was now the second personage in the Kingdom, as far as political power
and authority were concerned, much was made of me. My raiment was of silks and
velvets and cloth of gold, and by consequence was very showy, also uncomfortable. But
habit would soon reconcile me to my clothes; I was aware of that. I was given the
choicest suite of apartments in the castle, after the king's. They were aglow with loud-
colored silken hangings, but the stone floors had nothing but rushes on them for a carpet,
and they were misfit rushes at that, being not all of one breed. As for conveniences,
properly speaking, there weren't any. I mean little conveniences; it is the little
conveniences that make the real comfort of life. The big oaken chairs, graced with rude
carvings, were well enough, but that was the stopping place. There was no soap, no
matches, no looking-glass--except a metal one, about as powerful as a pail of water. And
not a chromo. I had been used to chromos for years, and I saw now that without my
suspecting it a passion for art had got worked into the fabric of my being, and was
become a part of me. It made me homesick to look around over this proud and gaudy but
heartless barrenness and remember that in our house in East Hartford, all unpretending as
it was, you couldn't go into a room but you would find an insurance-chromo, or at least a
three-color God-Bless-Our-Home over the door; and in the parlor we had nine. But here,
even in my grand room of state, there wasn't anything in the nature of a picture except a
thing the size of a bedquilt, which was either woven or knitted (it had darned places in it),
and nothing in it was the right color or the right shape; and as for proportions, even
Raphael himself couldn't have botched them more formidably, after all his practice on
those nightmares they call his "celebrated Hampton Court cartoons." Raphael was a bird.
We had several of his chromos; one was his "Miraculous Draught of Fishes," where he
puts in a miracle of his own--puts three men into a canoe which wouldn't have held a dog
without upsetting. I always admired to study R.'s art, it was so fresh and unconventional.
There wasn't even a bell or a speaking-tube in the castle. I had a great many servants, and
those that were on duty lolled in the anteroom; and when I wanted one of them I had to
go and call for him. There was no gas, there were no candles; a bronze dish half full of
boarding-house butter with a blazing rag floating in it was the thing that produced what
was regarded as light. A lot of these hung along the walls and modified the dark, just
toned it down enough to make it dismal. If you went out at night, your servants carried
torches. There were no books, pens, paper or ink, and no glass in the openings they
believed to be windows. It is a little thing--glass is--until it is absent, then it becomes a
big thing. But perhaps the worst of all was, that there wasn't any sugar, coffee, tea, or
tobacco. I saw that I was just another Robinson Crusoe cast away on an uninhabited
island, with no society but some more or less tame animals, and if I wanted to make life
bearable I must do as he did--invent, contrive, create, reorganize things; set brain and
hand to work, and keep them busy. Well, that was in my line.
One thing troubled me along at first--the immense interest which people took in me.
Apparently the whole nation wanted a look at me. It soon transpired that the eclipse had
scared the British world almost to death; that while it lasted the whole country, from one
 
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