3. THE STRANGER'S HISTORY
I am an American. I was born and reared in Hartford, in the State
of Connecticut--anyway, just over the river, in the country. So
I am a Yankee of the Yankees--and practical; yes, and nearly
barren of sentiment, I suppose--or poetry, in other words. My
father was a blacksmith, my uncle was a horse doctor, and I was
both, along at first. Then I went over to the great arms factory
and learned my real trade; learned all there was to it; learned
to make everything: guns, revolvers, cannon, boilers, engines, all
sorts of labor-saving machinery. Why, I could make anything
a body wanted--anything in the world, it didn't make any difference
what; and if there wasn't any quick new-fangled way to make a thing,
I could invent one--and do it as easy as rolling off a log. I became
head superintendent; had a couple of thousand men under me.
Well, a man like that is a man that is full of fight--that goes
without saying. With a couple of thousand rough men under one,
one has plenty of that sort of amusement. I had, anyway. At last
I met my match, and I got my dose. It was during a misunderstanding
conducted with crowbars with a fellow we used to call Hercules.
He laid me out with a crusher alongside the head that made everything
crack, and seemed to spring every joint in my skull and made it
overlap its neighbor. Then the world went out in darkness, and
I didn't feel anything more, and didn't know anything at all--
at least for a while.
When I came to again, I was sitting under an oak tree, on the
grass, with a whole beautiful and broad country landscape all
to myself--nearly. Not entirely; for there was a fellow on a horse,
looking down at me--a fellow fresh out of a picture-book. He was
in old-time iron armor from head to heel, with a helmet on his
head the shape of a nail-keg with slits in it; and he had a shield,
and a sword, and a prodigious spear; and his horse had armor on,
too, and a steel horn projecting from his forehead, and gorgeous
red and green silk trappings that hung down all around him like
a bedquilt, nearly to the ground.
"Fair sir, will ye just?" said this fellow.