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|A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court||Mark Twain|
An Awful Predicament
|Page 2 of 5||
"This is dreadful. It will go hard with the slaves, no doubt, upon the trial."
"Marry, the trial is over."
"Would they be a week, think you -- and the matter so simple? They were not the half of a quarter of an hour at it."
"Why, I don't see how they could determine which were the guilty ones in so short a time."
"WHICH ones? Indeed, they considered not particulars like to that. They condemned them in a body. Wit ye not the law? -- which men say the Romans left behind them here when they went -- that if one slave killeth his master all the slaves of that man must die for it."
"True. I had forgotten. And when will these die?"
"Belike within a four and twenty hours; albeit some say they will wait a pair of days more, if peradventure they may find the missing one meantime."
The missing one! It made me feel uncomfortable.
"Is it likely they will find him?"
"Before the day is spent -- yes. They seek him everywhere. They stand at the gates of the town, with certain of the slaves who will discover him to them if he cometh, and none can pass out but he will be first examined."
"Might one see the place where the rest are confined?" "The outside of it -- yes. The inside of it -- but ye will not want to see that."
I took the address of that prison for future reference and then sauntered off. At the first second-hand clothing shop I came to, up a back street, I got a rough rig suitable for a common seaman who might be going on a cold voyage, and bound up my face with a liberal bandage, saying I had a toothache. This concealed my worst bruises. It was a transformation. I no longer resembled my former self. Then I struck out for that wire, found it and followed it to its den. It was a little room over a butcher's shop -- which meant that business wasn't very brisk in the telegraphic line. The young chap in charge was drowsing at his table. I locked the door and put the vast key in my bosom. This alarmed the young fellow, and he was going to make a noise; but I said:
"Save your wind; if you open your mouth you are dead, sure. Tackle your instrument. Lively, now! Call Camelot."
"This doth amaze me! How should such as you know aught of such matters as --"
"Call Camelot! I am a desperate man. Call Camelot, or get away from the instrument and I will do it myself."
"What -- you?"
"Yes -- certainly. Stop gabbling. Call the palace."
He made the call.
"Now, then, call Clarence."
"Never mind Clarence who. Say you want Clarence; you'll get an answer."
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