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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Mark Twain

Chapters 34-38

Chapters 30-33

Chapters 34-38, page 2

page 1 of 2


The Yankee realizes he has blundered by making the guests think he plans to turn them in. Arthur returns from his nap and tries to play the farmer by discussing agriculture, but his babblings are so absurd that the guests take him for a madman. They decide to kill both the strangers, but the Yankee and the king beat them down. Marco and his wife disappear and return with a mob of villagers who chase Arthur and the Yankee into the woods.

They cover their trail in a stream and take refuge up a tree while the mob runs past. The mob comes back after a while and guesses where their quarry has taken refuge. They try to climb the tree, but the king and the Yankee kick them back down every time they approach. They take to throwing stones and then start a fire to smoke them out. The Yankee and the king descend and place themselves on opposite sides of the tree trunk to fight it out. They hold their own for a moment, until a nobleman and a group of his followers ride up and save them. They are given horses and ride to an inn with the Earl Grip and his men. The next day, they ride to a town where they are told they will be safe. In the town square, they see the last remnants of the procession of slaves.

Nearby, an orator delivers a speech about the glories of British liberty, and the Yankee determines to mount the platform and give an opposing speech. Before he can do this, however, he and the king are manacled and ordered to be sold as slaves. The two protest that they are freemen, and they attract the attention of the orator and his crowd. They are asked to provide proof of their status as freemen, but they cannot and are sold at auction. The slave dealer buys them both and chains them in line with the others. Arthur surprises the Yankee by brooding over the low price he fetched instead of on his fall from greatness to such utter lowliness. Potential purchasers look him over and remark that he is worth only a small price but acts like he is worth much more. The slave dealer undertakes to beat the king's pride out of him, but gives up eventually when he realizes the king's spirit will not break, even after his body has.

The Yankee is happy to hear one day that the king has changed his mind on slavery and has determined to abolish it. Now, he is willing to take desperate measures to get them both free, and he hatches a time-consuming but picturesque plan of escape. Months pass, and they have several adventures. One day, they are caught in a snowstorm, and the master lashes the survivors around a woman who is being burned as a witch for warmth. Later, they come across a young mother being hanged for stealing to feed her child after her husband was impressed into service at sea; the priest who tells her story promises to raise her baby as his own. They come to London and see several people they know, including Sandy, who do not recognize them. The Yankee is disappointed when he sees a newsboy but can't get to him to read the paper, but he takes heart that it is a sign that Clarence is still alive and well.

The Yankee steals a clasp off a gentleman's garment to use as a lockpick. The dealer offers to sell the Yankee to the gentleman for the exorbitant price of $22 with Arthur thrown in free of charge and gives him a day to consider the offer. The king is terribly upset at the offer, but the Yankee comforts him with his plan of getting loose that night, battering the slave dealer and stealing his clothes and taking his place as the masters while he takes their place on the line. When night falls, the Yankee frees himself and starts on the king, but the master enters and the slaves are forced to run again before he is finished. He runs to overtake him, but engages the wrong man in the dark. A crowd gathers, and the Yankee and his opponent are marched off to prison by the watch.

The Yankee explains to the court that he is the property of Earl Grip, who fell ill in the town across the River and sent him to fetch a physician with all possible dispatch, and that his adversary had grabbed him and began beating him without cause. The other man tries to tell what actually happened, but the judge orders him taken away and flogged for mistreating the servant of a nobleman and releases the Yankee to carry out his errand. He goes back to the slave quarters and finds the master beaten to death. He finds out from a man in the crowd that the slaves rose up and killed him and have been condemned to die for it and that the watch is searching for the missing slave.

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