A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court HTML version

"Defend Thee, Lord"
I paid three pennies for my breakfast, and a most extravagant price it was, too, seeing that
one could have breakfasted a dozen persons for that money; but I was feeling good by
this time, and I had always been a kind of spendthrift anyway; and then these people had
wanted to give me the food for nothing, scant as their provision was, and so it was a
grateful pleasure to emphasize my appreciation and sincere thankfulness with a good big
financial lift where the money would do so much more good than it would in my helmet,
where, these pennies being made of iron and not stinted in weight, my half-dollar's worth
was a good deal of a burden to me. I spent money rather too freely in those days, it is
true; but one reason for it was that I hadn't got the proportions of things entirely adjusted,
even yet, after so long a sojourn in Britain--hadn't got along to where I was able to
absolutely realize that a penny in Arthur's land and a couple of dollars in Connecticut
were about one and the same thing: just twins, as you may say, in purchasing power. If
my start from Camelot could have been delayed a very few days I could have paid these
people in beautiful new coins from our own mint, and that would have pleased me; and
them, too, not less. I had adopted the American values exclusively. In a week or two now,
cents, nickels, dimes, quarters, and half-dollars, and also a trifle of gold, would be
trickling in thin but steady streams all through the commercial veins of the kingdom, and
I looked to see this new blood freshen up its life.
The farmers were bound to throw in something, to sort of offset my liberality, whether I
would or no; so I let them give me a flint and steel; and as soon as they had comfortably
bestowed Sandy and me on our horse, I lit my pipe. When the first blast of smoke shot
out through the bars of my helmet, all those people broke for the woods, and Sandy went
over backwards and struck the ground with a dull thud. They thought I was one of those
fire-belching dragons they had heard so much about from knights and other professional
liars. I had infinite trouble to persuade those people to venture back within explaining
distance. Then I told them that this was only a bit of enchantment which would work
harm to none but my enemies. And I promised, with my hand on my heart, that if all who
felt no enmity toward me would come forward and pass before me they should see that
only those who remained behind would be struck dead. The procession moved with a
good deal of promptness. There were no casualties to report, for nobody had curiosity
enough to remain behind to see what would happen.
I lost some time, now, for these big children, their fears gone, became so ravished with
wonder over my awe-compelling fireworks that I had to stay there and smoke a couple of
pipes out before they would let me go. Still the delay was not wholly unproductive, for it
took all that time to get Sandy thoroughly wonted to the new thing, she being so close to
it, you know. It plugged up her conversation mill, too, for a considerable while, and that
was a gain. But above all other benefits accruing, I had learned something. I was ready
for any giant or any ogre that might come along, now.
We tarried with a holy hermit, that night, and my opportunity came about the middle of
the next afternoon. We were crossing a vast meadow by way of short-cut, and I was