A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

by

Mark Twain

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King Arthur Character Analysis

King Arthur sits at the top of the feudal hierarchy in medieval England. With his wife, Queen Guenever at his side, he rules from Camelot, home to Sir Kay, Sir Launcelot, Sir Gawaine, Sir Sagramore, Sir Dinadan, and the other knights of the Round Table. Although he’s followed Merlin’s counsel since his youth, Arthur elevates Hank Morgan to an important position in the kingdom after seeing apparent proof of the time traveler’s superior magical powers. In this way, King Arthur shows that he is no less superstitious than his medieval peers. Yet, although Hank looks down on the uncivilized, occasionally barbaric ways of Arthur’s England, he develops a great deal of respect for Arthur himself. In his personal excellence of character, King Arthur represents an idealized form of chivalry. He is brave in the face of danger, either in personal combat or battling illness; he expects nothing of his knights that he's unwilling to do himself; he has self-respect and pride that cannot be extinguished by enslavement or being viciously whipped; and while he consistently defends feudal principles, he also empathizes with common folks’ suffering and has a willingness to change social paradigms. When Arthur is sold into slavery, for instance, the experience inspires him to abolish slavery, and he is open to Hank’s idea of retiring the monarchy with Arthur’s own death. Nevertheless, Arthur equally represents the medieval mindset’s limitations: he’s unable to develop empathy for the commoners until he gains firsthand experience with their hardships; his respect for Hank is founded on a belief in Hank’s magical powers; he’s unable to see or accept that the wife he thinks is honorable is having an affair with Sir Launcelot, his best and most admirable knight; and he’s unable to abandon his desire for fighting and revenge, even when he knows his life is in danger. Arthur’s unwillingness to back down from a fight with his nephew and potential usurper, Mordred, allows him to kill Mordred, but it also leads to his own death, which occurs before Hank has finished transforming medieval society with 19th-century technology and ideals.

King Arthur Quotes in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

The A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court quotes below are all either spoken by King Arthur or refer to King Arthur . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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).
Chapter 2 Quotes

I was not the only prisoner present […]. Poor devils, many of them were maimed, hacked, carved, in a frightful way; and their hair, their faces, their clothing, were caked with black […] blood. They were suffering sharp physical pain […] and weariness, and hunger and thirst, no doubt; and at least none had given them the comfort of a wash, or even the poor charity of a lotion for their wounds; yet you never heard them utter a moan or a groan, or saw them show any sign of restlessness, or any disposition to complain. The thought was forced upon me: “The rascals—they have served other people so in their day; it being their own turn, now, they were not expecting any better treatment than this; so their philosophical bearing is not an outcome of mental training, intellectual fortitude, reasoning; it is mere animal training; they are white Indians.”

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), Sir Kay, King Arthur
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

He spoke of me all the time, in the blandest way, as “this prodigious giant,” and “this horrible sky-towering monster,” and “this tusked and taloned man-devouring ogre”; and everybody took in all this bosh in the naivest way, and never smiled or seemed to notice that there was any discrepancy between these watered statistics and me. He said that in trying to escape from him I spang to the top of a tree two hundred cubits high at a single bound, but he dislodged me with a stone the size of a cow, which “all-to-brast” the most of my bones, and then swore me to appear at Arthur’s court for sentence. He ended by condemning me to die at noon on the twenty-first; and was so little concerned about it that he stopped to yawn before he named the date.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), Sir Kay, King Arthur
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

I have reflected, Sir King. For a lesson, I will let this darkness proceed, and spread night in the world; but whether I blot out the sun for good or restore it, shall rest with you. These are the terms, to wit: You shall remain king over all your dominions, and receive all the glories and honors that belong to the kingship; but you shall appoint me your perpetual minister and executive, and give me for my services one per cent of such actual increase of revenue over and above its present amount as I may succeed in creating for the state. If I can’t live on that, I shan’t ask anybody to give me a lift. Is it satisfactory?

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), King Arthur
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

There were no books, pens, paper, or ink, and no glass in the openings they believed to be windows. It is a little thing—glass is—until it is absent, then it becomes a big thing. But perhaps the worst of all was, that there wasn’t any sugar, coffee, tea, or tobacco. I saw that I was just another Robinson Crusoe cast away on an uninhabited island, with no society but some more or less tame animals, and if I wanted to make life bearable I must do as he did—invent, contrive, create, reorganize things; set brain and hand to work, and keep them busy. Well, that was in my line.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), King Arthur
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

They were the quaintest and simplest and trustingest race; why, they were nothing but rabbits. It was pitiful for a person born in a wholesome free atmosphere to listen to their humble and hearty outpourings of loyalty toward their king and Church and nobility; as if they had any more occasion to love and honor king and Church and noble than a slave has to love and honor the lash, or a dog has to love and honor the stranger that kicks him! Why, dear me, any kind of royalty, howsoever modified, any kind of aristocracy, howsoever pruned, is rightly an insult; but if you are born and brought up under that sort of arrangement you probably never find it out for yourself, and don’t believe it when someone else tells you.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), King Arthur
Page Number: 53-54
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

Meantime, it was getting hotter and hotter in there. You see, the sun was beating down and warming up the iron more and more all the time. Well, when you are hot, that way, every little thing irritates you. When I trotted, I rattled like a crate of dishes, and that annoyed me; and moreover I couldn’t seem to stand that shield slatting and banging, now about my breast, now around my back; and if I dropped into a walk my joints creaked and screeched in that wearisome way a wheelbarrow does, and as we didn’t create any breeze at that gait, I was like to get fried in that stove; and besides, the quieter you went the heavier the iron settled down on you and the more and more tons you seemed to weigh every minute.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), King Arthur , Sir Sagramore
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 29 Quotes

Here was heroism at its last and loftiest possibility, its utmost summit; this was challenging death in the open field unarmed, with all the odds against the challenger, no reward set upon the contest, and no admiring world in silks and cloth of gold to gaze and applaud; and yet the king’s bearing was as serenely brave as it had always been in those cheaper contests where knight meets knight in equal fight and clothed in protecting steel. He was great, now; sublimely great. The rude statues of his ancestors in his palace should have an addition—I would see to that; and it would not be a mailed king killing a giant or a dragon, like the rest, it would be a king in commoner’s garb bearing death in his arms that a peasant mother might look her last upon her child and be comforted.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), King Arthur
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

A man is a man, at bottom. Whole ages of abuse and oppression cannot crush the manhood clear out of him. Whoever thinks it a mistake, is himself mistaken. Yes, there is plenty good enough material for a republic in the most degraded people that ever existed—even the Russians; plenty of manhood in them—even in the Germans—if one could but force it out of its timid and suspicious privacy, to overthrow and trample in the mud any throne that was ever set up and any nobility that ever supported it. We should see certain things yet, let us hope and believe. First, a modified monarchy, till Arthur’s days were done, then the destruction of the throne, nobility abolished, every member of it bound out to some useful trade, universal suffrage instituted, and the whole government placed in the hands of the men and women of the nation there to remain.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), Marco, King Arthur
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 32 Quotes

Self-made man, you know. They know how to talk. They do deserve more credit than any other breed of men, yes, that is true; and they are among the very first to find it out, too. He told how he had begun life an orphan lad without money and without friends able to help him; how he had lived as the slaves of the meanest master lived; how his day’s work was from sixteen to eighteen hours long, and yielded him only enough black bread to keep him in a half-fed condition; how his faithful endeavors finally attracted the attention of a good blacksmith, who came near knocking him dead with kindness by suddenly offering, when he was totally unprepared, to take him as his bound apprentice for nine years and give him board and clothes and teach him the trade—or “mystery” as Dowley called it.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), King Arthur , Dowley
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 34 Quotes

This same infernal law had existed in our own south in my own time, more than thirteen hundred years later, and under it hundreds of freemen who could not prove that they were freemen had been sold into lifelong slavery without the circumstance making any particular impression upon me; but the minute law and the auction block came into my own personal experience, a think which had been merely improper became suddenly hellish. Well that’s the way we are made.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), King Arthur
Page Number: 267-268
Explanation and Analysis:

We took up our line of march and passed out of Cambenet at noon; and it seemed to me unaccountably strange and odd that the King of England and his chief minister, marching manacled and fettered and yoked, in a slave convoy, could move by all manner of idle men and women, and under windows where sat the sweet and the lovely, and yet never attract a curious eye, never provoke a single remark. Dear, dear, it only shows that there is nothing diviner about a king than there is about a tramp, after all. He is just a cheap and hollow artificiality when you don’t know he is a king. But reveal his quality, and dear me it takes your very breath away to look at him. I reckon we are all fools. Born so, no doubt.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), King Arthur
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 268
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 42 Quotes

“From our various works I selected all the men—boys I mean—whose faithfulness under whatsoever pressure I could swear to, and I called them together secretly and gave them their instructions. There are fifty-two of them; none younger than fourteen, and none above seventeen years old.”

“Why did you select boys?”

“Because all the others were born in an atmosphere of superstition and reared in it. It is in their blood and bones. We imagined we had educated it out of them; they thought so, too; the Interdict woke them up like a thunderclap! It revealed them to themselves, and it revealed them to me, too. With boys it was different. Such as have been under our training from seven to ten years have had no acquaintance with the Church’s terrors, and it was amongst these that I found my fifty-two.”

Related Characters: Clarence (speaker), Hank Morgan , Mordred, King Arthur
Related Symbols: Factories
Page Number: 322
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 43 Quotes

“Stand to your guns, men! Open fire!”

The thirteen gatlings began to vomit death into the fated ten thousand. They halted, they stood their ground a moment against that withering deluge of fire, then they broke, faced about and swept toward the ditch like chaff before a gale. A full forth part of their force never reached the top of the lofty embankment; the three fourths reached it and plunged over—to death by drowning.

Within ten short minutes after we had opened fire, armed resistance was totally annihilated, the campaign was ended, we fifty-four were masters of England! Twenty-five thousand men lay dead around us.

Related Characters: Hank Morgan (speaker), King Arthur
Page Number: 339
Explanation and Analysis:
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King Arthur Character Timeline in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

The timeline below shows where the character King Arthur appears in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Knights of the Table Round
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...of brains, he finds them loveable and attractive for their simple-hearted natures. Many, including King Arthur, and Sir Launcelot are fine examples of manliness. (full context)
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...face falls; Merlin is about to tell the long-winded and sleep-inducing story of how King Arthur got his sword. After losing his weapon on a quest, Merlin directed Arthur to a... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Eclipse
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...the beginning of the solar eclipse. Merlin shouts for Hank to be burned, but King Arthur stays the execution. Taking advantage of the moment, Hank stretches his arms toward the sun... (full context)
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Hank tells King Arthur that he’s going to blot out the sun entirely, and he will restore it only... (full context)
Chapter 7: Merlin’s Tower
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...begins to gather on the horizon, and Hank starts the show. In front of King Arthur, Merlin, and the assembled crowds, he offers Merlin the chance to magically protect his tower.... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Boss
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...to outcompete the less sophisticated and uncivilized medieval people. Hank is powerful—if not more—than King Arthur himself. The only thing that holds more power than Hank is the Church. (full context)
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...the most unintelligent earl whose title comes from an ancestor being the king’s mistress. King Arthur offers Hank a rank, but Hank refuses on principle. As an American, he thinks that... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Tournament
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...by changing the colors of his armor each time he returns to the field. King Arthur then suggests that Launcelot challenge Gareth, but Launcelot declines, arguing that it would be cruel... (full context)
Chapter 11: The Yankee in Search of Adventure
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...distant castle. Although all the knights beg for the honor of the quest, the king (Arthur) assigns it to Hank. Clarence is as excited as Hank is annoyed. (full context)
Chapter 16: Morgan le Fay
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The sales-knight tells Hank that the castle belongs to Morgan le Fay, King Arthur’s sister. Then he admits that his sales trip is going poorly. He hasn’t sold a... (full context)
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When Hank momentarily forgets the bad blood between Morgan and her brother and compliments King Arthur, Morgan orders him into the dungeon. Fortunately, Sandy pipes up, asking if Morgan covets destruction;... (full context)
Chapter 19: Knight-Errantry as a Trade
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...and his six sons. When they yielded, he commanded them to throw themselves on King Arthur’s mercy at Camelot and promise to respect the king’s knights. Hank and Sandy met the... (full context)
Chapter 24: A Rival Magician
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Clarence further reports that King Arthur, delighted with Hank’s idea to raise as standing army, has already begun recruiting officers. Disappointingly,... (full context)
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...his back, the magician clarifies that he sees people “of lofty birth.” Hank asks what Arthur is up to; the magician says he’s napping after a hunt. Hank disagrees and predicts... (full context)
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On the day that Hank thinks King Arthur is supposed to arrive, the monks show no sign of preparation for a royal visit,... (full context)
Chapter 25: A Competitive Examination
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Whenever King Arthur travels, part of the court goes with him so he can continue to do royal... (full context)
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One case that King Arthur hears in the Valley particularly bothers Hank. An orphaned young noblewoman married a poor young... (full context)
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King Arthur sides with the bishop, reasoning that if the girl had informed the bishop of her... (full context)
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King Arthur’s officer selection provides another example of ways in which the monarchy fails to serve the... (full context)
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Eventually, Hank hits on a solution by suggesting that King Arthur select officers for a “King’s Own Regiment,” stocked entirely with men of noble birth. The... (full context)
Chapter 26: The First Newspaper
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When Hank shares his plan to disguise himself as a freeman, King Arthur immediately wants to join him. Hank thinks it’s a great idea, although he insists that... (full context)
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...are boring to him by now. A doctor certifies that a person is ill, King Arthur touches their sores, and they receive a coin. The whole business used to be very... (full context)
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...the adventures of many other knights. The paper even has a printed schedule of King Arthur’s daily visits to the park. (full context)
Chapter 27: The Yankee and the King Travel Incognito
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Around bedtime, Hank takes King Arthur up to his room and gives him an awkward haircut to help him better blend... (full context)
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...get him on his feet and remind him to show deference to the approaching nobles. Arthur does his best, although his posture isn’t very humble at all. One of the passing... (full context)
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Arthur naively wanders in and out of mischief for the next few days, taxing Hank’s patience... (full context)
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Whenever a knight-errant passes by, Arthur’s posture betrays his pride and his martial desire to challenge the man to a fight.... (full context)
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Fragments of horse and knight flesh rain down on Hank and a stunned Arthur. There’s a hole in the road that no one will be able to explain. As... (full context)
Chapter 28: Drilling the King
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By the fourth day of the trip, Hank knows he must rehearse Arthur’s peasant act until it’s finally convincing. The king’s clothing is right, but his bearing is... (full context)
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Hank asks King Arthur to demonstrate how he would approach a hut situated nearby. Arthur’s instinct is to demand... (full context)
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As Arthur resumes practicing his downtrodden peasant attitude, Hank encourages him to imagine a life completely unlike... (full context)
Chapter 29: The Smallpox Hut
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By midafternoon, Hank thinks King Arthur’s disguise might fool people. They approach the nearby hut, which is shrouded in unnatural silence... (full context)
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Hank returns to find King Arthur inside opening the shutters. The new light reveals that the woman is dying of smallpox.... (full context)
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King Arthur returns from the loft carrying the body of a teenaged girl, dying of the same... (full context)
Chapter 30: The Tragedy of the Manor House
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Hank and King Arthur stay with the woman until she dies around midnight. Since the family died outside of... (full context)
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Although Hank recognizes that King Arthur is a product of his upbringing, Arthur’s unjust beliefs still annoy him. The sight of... (full context)
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Hank and King Arthur pass six more bodies in the woods, as a once-distant murmur grows into the roar... (full context)
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When Hank and King Arthur wake, the wife (later identified as Phyllis) details the previous night’s events. After dark, the... (full context)
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...Marco or anyone else to release them, since they might have escaped. In fact, as Arthur points out, three of them did escape and should be caught and punished for murdering... (full context)
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...American south who sacrificed their lives to protect the interests of the slave-holding upper classes. Arthur interrupts Hank’s reverie, impatiently insisting that they pursue the murderers. To placate Arthur, Hank offers... (full context)
Chapter 31: Marco
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...and Phyllis for the hospitality they’ve shown to him and Jones (his alias for King Arthur). (full context)
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...Hank wants to get them each a “new suit.” Hank invents a backstory for Jones (Arthur), claiming that he’s a farmer who sometimes gets a big head. But Arthur is also... (full context)
Chapter 32: Dowley’s Humiliation
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...guests and “show off a little.” Marco and Phyllis especially appreciate their new clothes, but Arthur doesn’t even notice the difference. (full context)
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...to know that he finds all men his equals, even, he insists cordially, Jones (King Arthur). (full context)
Chapter 33: Sixth-Century Political Economy
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...British won’t have shaken their love of their oppressive aristocracy even by the 19th century. Arthur leaves the table to take a post-dinner nap, and the talk turns to the wages... (full context)
Chapter 34: The Yankee and the King Sold as Slaves
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Just then, Arthur returns from his nap with an ominous twinkle in his eye. Hank can’t prevent him... (full context)
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Pursued by the villagers and their dogs, Hank and Arthur momentarily gain an advantage by crossing a stream and climbing into a nearby tree using... (full context)
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As Hank and Arthur descend a gentleman named Earl Grip saves them from the mob. Grip generously invites them... (full context)
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Hank and Arthur protest that they are freemen. But they are strangers in this village, and unless they... (full context)
Chapter 35: A Pitiful Incident
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As Hank, Arthur, and the slaves march toward London, Arthur broods over the insult of being sold for... (full context)
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One good thing comes of the experience: Arthur completely reverses his opinion on the question of abolishing slavery, something he refused to even... (full context)
Chapter 36: An Encounter in the Dark
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In dirty, crowded London, none of the well-dressed noble people recognize Arthur and Hank. Hank is relieved, however, to see that Clarence is still carrying on his... (full context)
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...the slave driver offers to give the gentleman Hank if he will take the unsellable Arthur in the bargain, all for $22. The slave driver gives the gentleman 24 hours to... (full context)
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...a deep sleep, then he picks the locks on his chains. He’s about to free Arthur when the slave driver returns, stands absently in the doorway for a moment, then leaves.... (full context)
Chapter 38: Sir Launcelot and the Knights to the Rescue
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...Londoners gathers to watch the slaves’ execution. As he is lead to the gallows platform, Arthur proclaims himself King of England and threatens to punish everyone responsible for this affair with... (full context)
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Hank waves his (cloth-wrapped) right arm wildly in the air, drawing Launcelot’s attention, extricates Arthur from the noose and blindfold and shouts that anyone who fails to fall on their... (full context)
Chapter 39: The Yankee’s Fight with the Knights
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...guard. This gives Merlin the opportunity to sneak up and snatch away Hank’s rope. King Arthur is anguished to discover that Hank has lost his weapon and doesn’t have a spare... (full context)
Chapter 40: Three Years Later
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...projects remaining: overthrowing the Roman Catholic Church and replacing it with Protestant denominations and getting Arthur to issue a decree dissolving the monarchy upon his death and establishing an immediate democracy.... (full context)
Chapter 42: War!
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...Sir Mordred (both nephews to the king) a lot of money. Agravaine and Mordred told Arthur about the queen’s affair. Arthur set a trap to confirm their story, and Launcelot walked... (full context)
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...Gawaine insisted on making Launcelot pay for the accidental deaths of two of Gawaine’s brothers. Arthur agreed to join Gawaine’s force against Launcelot, and he left the kingdom in the hands... (full context)
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After a mistaken signal set off an epic battle between Arthur’s and Mordred’s forces, only four men survived: Mordred, Arthur, Sir Lucan de Butlere and Sir... (full context)
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Hank wants to know how Arthur is doing now, and Clarence explains that Arthur died and Guenever retired to a convent.... (full context)