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|A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court||Mark Twain|
Sixth Century Political Economy
|Page 6 of 7||
"Do ye believe -- "
"That he actually will help to fix his own wages? Yes, indeed. And he will be strong and able, then."
"Brave times, brave times, of a truth!" sneered the prosperous smith.
"Oh, -- and there's another detail. In that day, a master may hire a man for only just one day, or one week, or one month at a time, if he wants to."
"It's true. Moreover, a magistrate won't be able to force a man to work for a master a whole year on a stretch whether the man wants to or not."
"Will there be NO law or sense in that day?"
"Both of them, Dowley. In that day a man will be his own property, not the property of magistrate and master. And he can leave town whenever he wants to, if the wages don't suit him! -- and they can't put him in the pillory for it."
"Perdition catch such an age!" shouted Dowley, in strong indignation. "An age of dogs, an age barren of reverence for superiors and respect for authority! The pillory --"
"Oh, wait, brother; say no good word for that institution. I think the pillory ought to be abolished."
"A most strange idea. Why?"
"Well, I'll tell you why. Is a man ever put in the pillory for a capital crime?"
"Is it right to condemn a man to a slight punishment for a small offense and then kill him?"
There was no answer. I had scored my first point! For the first time, the smith wasn't up and ready. The company noticed it. Good effect.
"You don't answer, brother. You were about to glorify the pillory a while ago, and shed some pity on a future age that isn't going to use it. I think the pillory ought to be abolished. What usually happens when a poor fellow is put in the pillory for some little offense that didn't amount to anything in the world? The mob try to have some fun with him, don't they?"
"They begin by clodding him; and they laugh themselves to pieces to see him try to dodge one clod and get hit with another?"
"Then they throw dead cats at him, don't they?"
"Well, then, suppose he has a few personal enemies in that mob and here and there a man or a woman with a secret grudge against him -- and suppose especially that he is unpopular in the community, for his pride, or his prosperity, or one thing or another -- stones and bricks take the place of clods and cats presently, don't they?"
"There is no doubt of it."
"As a rule he is crippled for life, isn't he? -- jaws broken, teeth smashed out? -- or legs mutilated, gangrened, presently cut off? -- or an eye knocked out, maybe both eyes?"
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