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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

In The Queen's Dungeons
Well, I arranged all that; and I had the man sent to his home. I had a great desire to rack
the executioner; not because he was a good, painstaking and paingiving official,--for
surely it was not to his discredit that he performed his functions well--but to pay him
back for wantonly cuffing and otherwise distressing that young woman. The priests told
me about this, and were generously hot to have him punished. Something of this
disagreeable sort was turning up every now and then. I mean, episodes that showed that
not all priests were frauds and self-seekers, but that many, even the great majority, of
these that were down on the ground among the common people, were sincere and right-
hearted, and devoted to the alleviation of human troubles and sufferings. Well, it was a
thing which could not be helped, so I seldom fretted about it, and never many minutes at
a time; it has never been my way to bother much about things which you can't cure. But I
did not like it, for it was just the sort of thing to keep people reconciled to an Established
Church. We must have a religion-- it goes without saying--but my idea is, to have it cut
up into forty free sects, so that they will police each other, as had been the case in the
United States in my time. Concentration of power in a political machine is bad; and and
an Established Church is only a political machine; it was invented for that; it is nursed,
cradled, preserved for that; it is an enemy to human liberty, and does no good which it
could not better do in a split-up and scattered condition. That wasn't law; it wasn't gospel:
it was only an opinion--my opinion, and I was only a man, one man: so it wasn't worth
any more than the pope's--or any less, for that matter.
Well, I couldn't rack the executioner, neither would I overlook the just complaint of the
priests. The man must be punished somehow or other, so I degraded him from his office
and made him leader of the band--the new one that was to be started. He begged hard,
and said he couldn't play--a plausible excuse, but too thin; there wasn't a musician in the
country that could.
The queen was a good deal outraged, next morning when she found she was going to
have neither Hugo's life nor his property. But I told her she must bear this cross; that
while by law and custom she certainly was entitled to both the man's life and his
property, there were extenuating circumstances, and so in Arthur the king's name I had
pardoned him. The deer was ravaging the man's fields, and he had killed it in sudden
passion, and not for gain; and he had carried it into the royal forest in the hope that that
might make detection of the misdoer impossible. Confound her, I couldn't make her see
that sudden passion is an extenuating circumstance in the killing of venison--or of a
person--so I gave it up and let her sulk it out. I did think I was going to make her see it by
remarking that her own sudden passion in the case of the page modified that crime.
"Crime!" she exclaimed. "How thou talkest! Crime, forsooth! Man, I am going to pay for
him!"
Oh, it was no use to waste sense on her. Training--training is everything; training is all
there is to a person. We speak of nature; it is folly; there is no such thing as nature; what
 
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