A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court HTML version

A Pitiful Incident
It's a world of surprises. The king brooded; this was natural. What would he brood about,
should you say? Why, about the prodigious nature of his fall, of course--from the loftiest
place in the world to the lowest; from the most illustrious station in the world to the
obscurest; from the grandest vocation among men to the basest. No, I take my oath that
the thing that graveled him most, to start with, was not this, but the price he had fetched!
He couldn't seem to get over that seven dollars. Well, it stunned me so, when I first found
it out, that I couldn't believe it; it didn't seem natural. But as soon as my mental sight
cleared and I got a right focus on it, I saw I was mistaken; it was natural. For this reason:
a king is a mere artificiality, and so a king's feelings, like the impulses of an automatic
doll, are mere artificialities; but as a man, he is a reality, and his feelings, as a man, are
real, not phantoms. It shames the average man to be valued below his own estimate of his
worth, and the king certainly wasn't anything more than an average man, if he was up that
Confound him, he wearied me with arguments to show that in anything like a fair market
he would have fetched twenty-five dollars, sure--a thing which was plainly nonsense, and
full or the baldest conceit; I wasn't worth it myself. But it was tender ground for me to
argue on. In fact, I had to simply shirk argument and do the diplomatic instead. I had to
throw conscience aside, and brazenly concede that he ought to have brought twenty-five
dollars; whereas I was quite well aware that in all the ages, the world had never seen a
king that was worth half the money, and during the next thirteen centuries wouldn't see
one that was worth the fourth of it. Yes, he tired me. If he began to talk about the crops;
or about the recent weather; or about the condition of politics; or about dogs, or cats, or
morals, or theology--no matter what-- I sighed, for I knew what was coming; he was
going to get out of it a palliation of that tiresome seven-dollar sale. Wherever we halted
where there was a crowd, he would give me a look which said plainly: "if that thing could
be tried over again now, with this kind of folk, you would see a different result." Well,
when he was first sold, it secretly tickled me to see him go for seven dollars; but before
he was done with his sweating and worrying I wished he had fetched a hundred. The
thing never got a chance to die, for every day, at one place or another, possible
purchasers looked us over, and, as often as any other way, their comment on the king was
something like this:
"Here's a two-dollar-and-a-half chump with a thirty-dollar style. Pity but style was
At last this sort of remark produced an evil result. Our owner was a practical person and
he perceived that this defect must be mended if he hoped to find a purchaser for the king.
So he went to work to take the style out of his sacred majesty. I could have given the man
some valuable advice, but I didn't; you mustn't volunteer advice to a slave-driver unless
you want to damage the cause you are arguing for. I had found it a sufficiently difficult
job to reduce the king's style to a peasant's style, even when he was a willing and anxious
pupil; now then, to undertake to reduce the king's style to a slave's style--and by force--go