THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 40: THREE YEARS LATER
When I broke the back of knight-errantry that time, I no longer
felt obliged to work in secret. So, the very next day I exposed
my hidden schools, my mines, and my vast system of clandestine
factories and workshops to an astonished world. That is to say,
I exposed the nineteenth century to the inspection of the sixth.
Well, it is always a good plan to follow up an advantage promptly.
The knights were temporarily down, but if I would keep them so
I must just simply paralyze them--nothing short of that would
answer. You see, I was "bluffing" that last time in the field;
it would be natural for them to work around to that conclusion,
if I gave them a chance. So I must not give them time; and I didn't.
I renewed my challenge, engraved it on brass, posted it up where
any priest could read it to them, and also kept it standing in
the advertising columns of the paper.
I not only renewed it, but added to its proportions. I said,
name the day, and I would take fifty assistants and stand up
against the massed chivalry of the whole earth and destroy it.
I was not bluffing this time. I meant what I said; I could do
what I promised. There wasn't any way to misunderstand the language
of that challenge. Even the dullest of the chivalry perceived
that this was a plain case of "put up, or shut up." They were
wise and did the latter. In all the next three years they gave
me no trouble worth mentioning.
Consider the three years sped. Now look around on England. A happy
and prosperous country, and strangely altered. Schools everywhere,
and several colleges; a number of pretty good newspapers. Even
authorship was taking a start; Sir Dinadan the Humorist was first
in the field, with a volume of gray-headed jokes which I had been
familiar with during thirteen centuries. If he had left out that
old rancid one about the lecturer I wouldn't have said anything;
but I couldn't stand that one. I suppressed the book and hanged