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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

The Tournament
They were always having grand tournaments there at Camelot; and very stirring and
picturesque and ridiculous human bull-fights they were, too, but just a little wearisome to
the practical mind. However, I was generally on hand--for two reasons: a man must not
hold himself aloof from the things which his friends and his community have at heart if
he would be liked--especially as a statesman; and both as business man and statesman I
wanted to study the tournament and see if I couldn't invent an improvement on it. That
reminds me to remark, in passing, that the very first official thing I did, in my
administration--and it was on the very first day of it, too--was to start a patent office; for I
knew that a country without a patent office and good patent laws was just a crab, and
couldn't travel any way but sideways or backways.
Things ran along, a tournament nearly every week; and now and then the boys used to
want me to take a hand--I mean Sir Launcelot and the rest--but I said I would by and by;
no hurry yet, and too much government machinery to oil up and set to rights and start a-
going.
We had one tournament which was continued from day to day during more than a week,
and as many as five hundred knights took part in it, from first to last. They were weeks
gathering. They came on horseback from everywhere; from the very ends of the country,
and even from beyond the sea; and many brought ladies, and all brought squires and
troops of servants. It was a most gaudy and gorgeous crowd, as to costumery, and very
characteristic of the country and the time, in the way of high animal spirits, innocent
indecencies of language, and happy-hearted indifference to morals. It was fight or look
on, all day and every day; and sing, gamble, dance, carouse half the night every night.
They had a most noble good time. You never saw such people. Those banks of beautiful
ladies, shining in their barbaric splendors, would see a knight sprawl from his horse in the
lists with a lanceshaft the thickness of your ankle clean through him and the blood
spouting, and instead of fainting they would clap their hands and crowd each other for a
better view; only sometimes one would dive into her handkerchief, and look
ostentatiously broken-hearted, and then you could lay two to one that there was a scandal
there somewhere and she was afraid the public hadn't found it out.
The noise at night would have been annoying to me ordinarily, but I didn't mind it in the
present circumstances, because it kept me from hearing the quacks detaching legs and
arms from the day's cripples. They ruined an uncommon good old cross-cut saw for me,
and broke the saw-buck, too, but I let it pass. And as for my axe--well, I made up my
mind that the next time I lent an axe to a surgeon I would pick my century.
I not only watched this tournament from day to day, but detailed an intelligent priest from
my Department of Public Morals and Agriculture, and ordered him to report it; for it was
my purpose by and by, when I should have gotten the people along far enough, to start a
newspaper. The first thing you want in a new country, is a patent office; then work up
your school system; and after that, out with your paper. A newspaper has its faults, and
 
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