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|A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court||Mark Twain|
Sixth Century Political Economy
|Page 2 of 7||
And his face shone upon the company like a sun-burst. But I didn't scare at all. I rigged up my pile-driver, and allowed myself fifteen minutes to drive him into the earth -- drive him ALL in -- drive him in till not even the curve of his skull should show above ground. Here is the way I started in on him. I asked:
"What do you pay a pound for salt?"
"A hundred milrays."
"We pay forty. What do you pay for beef and mutton -- when you buy it?" That was a neat hit; it made the color come.
"It varieth somewhat, but not much; one may say 75 milrays the pound."
"WE pay 33. What do you pay for eggs?"
"Fifty milrays the dozen."
"We pay 20. What do you pay for beer?"
"It costeth us 8 1/2 milrays the pint."
"We get it for 4; 25 bottles for a cent. What do you pay for wheat?"
"At the rate of 900 milrays the bushel."
"We pay 400. What do you pay for a man's tow-linen suit?"
"We pay 6. What do you pay for a stuff gown for the wife of the laborer or the mechanic?"
"We pay 8.4.0."
"Well, observe the difference: you pay eight cents and four mills, we pay only four cents." I prepared now to sock it to him. l said: "Look here, dear friend, WHAT'S BECOME OF YOUR HIGH WAGES YOU WERE BRAGGING SO ABOUT A FEW MINUTES AGO?" -- and I looked around on the company with placid satisfaction, for I had slipped up on him gradually and tied him hand and foot, you see, without his ever noticing that he was being tied at all. "What's become of those noble high wages of yours? -- I seem to have knocked the stuffing all out of them, it appears to me."
But if you will believe me, he merely looked surprised, that is all! he didn't grasp the situation at all, didn't know he had walked into a trap, didn't discover that he was IN a trap. I could have shot him, from sheer vexation. With cloudy eye and a struggling intellect he fetched this out:
"Marry, I seem not to understand. It is PROVED that our wages be double thine; how then may it be that thou'st knocked therefrom the stuffing? -- an miscall not the wonderly word, this being the first time under grace and providence of God it hath been granted me to hear it."
Well, I was stunned; partly with this unlooked-for stupidity on his part, and partly because his fellows so manifestly sided with him and were of his mind -- if you might call it mind. My position was simple enough, plain enough; how could it ever be simplified more? However, I must try:
"Why, look here, brother Dowley, don't you see? Your wages are merely higher than ours in NAME, not in FACT."
"Hear him! They are the DOUBLE -- ye have confessed it yourself."
"Yes-yes, I don't deny that at all. But that's got nothing to do with it; the AMOUNT of the wages in mere coins, with meaningless names attached to them to know them by, has got nothing to do with it. The thing is, how much can you BUY with your wages? -- that's the idea. While it is true that with you a good mechanic is allowed about three dollars and a half a year, and with us only about a dollar and seventy-five --"
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