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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

"Great Scott!" I said in my distress. She went right back and began over again:
"So they two departed and rode into a great forest. And--"
"Which two?"
"Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine. And so they came to an abbey of monks, and there were
well lodged. So on the morn they heard their masses in the abbey, and so they rode forth
till they came to a great forest; then was Sir Gawaine ware in a valley by a turret, of
twelve fair damsels, and two knights armed on great horses, and the damsels went to and
fro by a tree. And then was Sir Gawaine ware how there hung a white shield on that tree,
and ever as the damsels came by it they spit upon it, and some threw mire upon the
shield--"
"Now, if I hadn't seen the like myself in this country, Sandy, I wouldn't believe it. But
I've seen it, and I can just see those creatures now, parading before that shield and acting
like that. The women here do certainly act like all possessed. Yes, and I mean your best,
too, society's very choicest brands. The humblest hello-girl along ten thousand miles of
wire could teach gentleness, patience, modesty, manners, to the highest duchess in
Arthur's land."
"Hello-girl?"
"Yes, but don't you ask me to explain; it's a new kind of a girl; they don't have them here;
one often speaks sharply to them when they are not the least in fault, and he can't get over
feeling sorry for it and ashamed of himself in thirteen hundred years, it's such shabby
mean conduct and so unprovoked; the fact is, no gentleman ever does it--though I--well, I
myself, if I've got to confess--"
"Peradventure she--"
"Never mind her; never mind her; I tell you I couldn't ever explain her so you would
understand."
"Even so be it, sith ye are so minded. Then Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine went and saluted
them, and asked them why they did that despite to the shield. Sirs, said the damsels, we
shall tell you. There is a knight in this country that owneth this white shield, and he is a
passing good man of his hands, but he hateth all ladies and gentlewomen, and therefore
we do all this despite to the shield. I will say you, said Sir Gawaine, it beseemeth evil a
good knight to despise all ladies and gentlewomen, and peradventure though he hate you
he hath some cause, and peradventure he loveth in some other places ladies and
gentlewomen, and to be loved again, and he such a man of prowess as ye speak of--"
"Man of prowess--yes, that is the man to please them, Sandy. Man of brains--that is a
thing they never think of. Tom Sayers-- John Heenan--John L. Sullivan--pity but you
could be here. You would have your legs under the Round Table and a 'Sir' in front of
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