THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 34: THE YANKEE AND THE KING SOLD AS SLAVES
I was right. He began, straight off, in the most innocently
artful, and transparent, and lubberly way, to lead up to the
subject of agriculture. The cold sweat broke out all over me.
I wanted to whisper in his ear, "Man, we are in awful danger!
every moment is worth a principality till we get back these men's
confidence; don't waste any of this golden time." But of course
I couldn't do it. Whisper to him? It would look as if we were
conspiring. So I had to sit there and look calm and pleasant while
the king stood over that dynamite mine and mooned along about his
damned onions and things. At first the tumult of my own thoughts,
summoned by the danger-signal and swarming to the rescue from
every quarter of my skull, kept up such a hurrah and confusion
and fifing and drumming that I couldn't take in a word; but
presently when my mob of gathering plans began to crystallize
and fall into position and form line of battle, a sort of order and
quiet ensued and I caught the boom of the king's batteries, as if
out of remote distance:
"--were not the best way, methinks, albeit it is not to be denied
that authorities differ as concerning this point, some contending
that the onion is but an unwholesome berry when stricken early
from the tree--"
The audience showed signs of life, and sought each other's eyes
in a surprised and troubled way.
"--whileas others do yet maintain, with much show of reason, that
this is not of necessity the case, instancing that plums and other
like cereals do be always dug in the unripe state--"
The audience exhibited distinct distress; yes, and also fear.
"--yet are they clearly wholesome, the more especially when one
doth assuage the asperities of their nature by admixture of the
tranquilizing juice of the wayward cabbage--"
The wild light of terror began to glow in these men's eyes, and
one of them muttered, "These be errors, every one--God hath surely
smitten the mind of this farmer." I was in miserable apprehension;
I sat upon thorns.