THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 35: A PITIFUL INCIDENT
"Here's a two-dollar-and-a-half chump with a thirty-dollar style.
Pity but style was marketable."
At last this sort of remark produced an evil result. Our owner
was a practical person and he perceived that this defect must be
mended if he hoped to find a purchaser for the king. So he went
to work to take the style out of his sacred majesty. I could have
given the man some valuable advice, but I didn't; you mustn't
volunteer advice to a slave-driver unless you want to damage
the cause you are arguing for. I had found it a sufficiently
difficult job to reduce the king's style to a peasant's style,
even when he was a willing and anxious pupil; now then, to undertake
to reduce the king's style to a slave's style--and by force--go to!
it was a stately contract. Never mind the details--it will save me
trouble to let you imagine them. I will only remark that at the
end of a week there was plenty of evidence that lash and club
and fist had done their work well; the king's body was a sight
to see--and to weep over; but his spirit?--why, it wasn't even
phased. Even that dull clod of a slave-driver was able to see
that there can be such a thing as a slave who will remain a man
till he dies; whose bones you can break, but whose manhood you
can't. This man found that from his first effort down to his
latest, he couldn't ever come within reach of the king, but the
king was ready to plunge for him, and did it. So he gave up
at last, and left the king in possession of his style unimpaired.
The fact is, the king was a good deal more than a king, he was
a man; and when a man is a man, you can't knock it out of him.
We had a rough time for a month, tramping to and fro in the earth,
and suffering. And what Englishman was the most interested in
the slavery question by that time? His grace the king! Yes; from
being the most indifferent, he was become the most interested.
He was become the bitterest hater of the institution I had ever
heard talk. And so I ventured to ask once more a question which
I had asked years before and had gotten such a sharp answer that
I had not thought it prudent to meddle in the matter further.
Would he abolish slavery?