A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court HTML version
The Yankee In Search Of Adventures
There never was such a country for wandering liars; and they were of both sexes. Hardly
a month went by without one of these tramps arriving; and generally loaded with a tale
about some princess or other wanting help to get her out of some far-away castle where
she was held in captivity by a lawless scoundrel, usually a giant. Now you would think
that the first thing the king would do after listening to such a novelette from an entire
stranger, would be to ask for credentials--yes, and a pointer or two as to locality of castle,
best route to it, and so on. But nobody ever thought of so simple and common-sense a
thing at that. No, everybody swallowed these people's lies whole, and never asked a
question of any sort or about anything. Well, one day when I was not around, one of these
people came along--it was a she one, this time--and told a tale of the usual pattern. Her
mistress was a captive in a vast and gloomy castle, along with forty-four other young and
beautiful girls, pretty much all of them princesses; they had been languishing in that cruel
captivity for twenty-six years; the masters of the castle were three stupendous brothers,
each with four arms and one eye--the eye in the center of the forehead, and as big as a
fruit. Sort of fruit not mentioned; their usual slovenliness in statistics.
Would you believe it? The king and the whole Round Table were in raptures over this
preposterous opportunity for adventure. Every knight of the Table jumped for the chance,
and begged for it; but to their vexation and chagrin the king conferred it upon me, who
had not asked for it at all.
By an effort, I contained my joy when Clarence brought me the news. But he--he could
not contain his. His mouth gushed delight and gratitude in a steady discharge--delight in
my good fortune, gratitude to the king for this splendid mark of his favor for me. He
could keep neither his legs nor his body still, but pirouetted about the place in an airy
ecstasy of happiness.
On my side, I could have cursed the kindness that conferred upon me this benefaction,
but I kept my vexation under the surface for policy's sake, and did what I could to let on
to be glad. Indeed, I said I was glad. And in a way it was true; I was as glad as a person is
when he is scalped.
Well, one must make the best of things, and not waste time with useless fretting, but get
down to business and see what can be done. In all lies there is wheat among the chaff; I
must get at the wheat in this case: so I sent for the girl and she came. She was a comely
enough creature, and soft and modest, but, if signs went for anything, she didn't know as
much as a lady's watch. I said:
"My dear, have you been questioned as to particulars?"
She said she hadn't.