A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
musing absently, hearing nothing, seeing nothing, when Sandy suddenly interrupted a
remark which she had begun that morning, with the cry:
"Defend thee, lord!--peril of life is toward!"
And she slipped down from the horse and ran a little way and stood. I looked up and saw,
far off in the shade of a tree, half a dozen armed knights and their squires; and
straightway there was bustle among them and tightening of saddle-girths for the mount.
My pipe was ready and would have been lit, if I had not been lost in thinking about how
to banish oppression from this land and restore to all its people their stolen rights and
manhood without disobliging anybody. I lit up at once, and by the time I had got a good
head of reserved steam on, here they came. All together, too; none of those chivalrous
magnanimities which one reads so much about-- one courtly rascal at a time, and the rest
standing by to see fair play. No, they came in a body, they came with a whirr and a rush,
they came like a volley from a battery; came with heads low down, plumes streaming out
behind, lances advanced at a level. It was a handsome sight, a beautiful sight--for a man
up a tree. I laid my lance in rest and waited, with my heart beating, till the iron wave was
just ready to break over me, then spouted a column of white smoke through the bars of
my helmet. You should have seen the wave go to pieces and scatter! This was a finer
sight than the other one.
But these people stopped, two or three hundred yards away, and this troubled me. My
satisfaction collapsed, and fear came; I judged I was a lost man. But Sandy was radiant;
and was going to be eloquent--but I stopped her, and told her my magic had miscarried,
somehow or other, and she must mount, with all despatch, and we must ride for life. No,
she wouldn't. She said that my enchantment had disabled those knights; they were not
riding on, because they couldn't; wait, they would drop out of their saddles presently, and
we would get their horses and harness. I could not deceive such trusting simplicity, so I
said it was a mistake; that when my fireworks killed at all, they killed instantly; no, the
men would not die, there was something wrong about my apparatus, I couldn't tell what;
but we must hurry and get away, for those people would attack us again, in a minute.
Sandy laughed, and said:
"Lack-a-day, sir, they be not of that breed! Sir Launcelot will give battle to dragons, and
will abide by them, and will assail them again, and yet again, and still again, until he do
conquer and destroy them; and so likewise will Sir Pellinore and Sir Aglovale and Sir
Carados, and mayhap others, but there be none else that will venture it, let the idle say
what the idle will. And, la, as to yonder base rufflers, think ye they have not their fill, but
yet desire more?"
"Well, then, what are they waiting for? Why don't they leave? Nobody's hindering. Good
land, I'm willing to let bygones be bygones, I'm sure."
"Leave, is it? Oh, give thyself easement as to that. They dream not of it, no, not they.
They wait to yield them."