THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 19: KNIGHT-ERRANTRY AS A TRADE
"Why, Sandy, you can't mean it!"
"An I speak not sooth, let it be the worse for me."
"Well, well, well,--now who would ever have thought it? One
whole duke and six dukelets; why, Sandy, it was an elegant haul.
Knight-errantry is a most chuckle-headed trade, and it is tedious
hard work, too, but I begin to see that there is money in it,
after all, if you have luck. Not that I would ever engage in it
as a business, for I wouldn't. No sound and legitimate business
can be established on a basis of speculation. A successful whirl
in the knight-errantry line--now what is it when you blow away
the nonsense and come down to the cold facts? It's just a corner
in pork, that's all, and you can't make anything else out of it.
You're rich--yes,--suddenly rich--for about a day, maybe a week;
then somebody corners the market on you, and down goes your
bucket-shop; ain't that so, Sandy?"
"Whethersoever it be that my mind miscarrieth, bewraying simple
language in such sort that the words do seem to come endlong
"There's no use in beating about the bush and trying to get around
it that way, Sandy, it's so, just as I say.
I know it's so. And,
moreover, when you come right down to the bedrock, knight-errantry
is worse than pork; for whatever happens, the pork's left, and
so somebody's benefited anyway; but when the market breaks, in a
knight-errantry whirl, and every knight in the pool passes in his
checks, what have you got for assets? Just a rubbish-pile of
battered corpses and a barrel or two of busted hardware. Can you
call those assets? Give me pork, every time. Am I right?"
"Ah, peradventure my head being distraught by the manifold matters
whereunto the confusions of these but late adventured haps and
fortunings whereby not I alone nor you alone, but every each of us,