THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 42: WAR!
I found Clarence alone in his quarters, drowned in melancholy;
and in place of the electric light, he had reinstituted the ancient
rag-lamp, and sat there in a grisly twilight with all curtains
drawn tight. He sprang up and rushed for me eagerly, saying:
"Oh, it's worth a billion milrays to look upon a live person again!"
He knew me as easily as if I hadn't been disguised at all. Which
frightened me; one may easily believe that.
"Quick, now, tell me the meaning of this fearful disaster," I said.
"How did it come about?"
"Well, if there hadn't been any Queen Guenever, it wouldn't have
come so early; but it would have come, anyway. It would have
come on your own account by and by; by luck, it happened to come
on the queen's."
"And Sir Launcelot's?"
"Give me the details."
"I reckon you will grant that during some years there has been
only one pair of eyes in these kingdoms that has not been looking
steadily askance at the queen and Sir Launcelot--"
"Yes, King Arthur's."
"--and only one heart that was without suspicion--"
"Yes--the king's; a heart that isn't capable of thinking evil
of a friend."
"Well, the king might have gone on, still happy and unsuspecting,
to the end of his days, but for one of your modern improvements--
the stock-board. When you left, three miles of the London,
Canterbury and Dover were ready for the rails, and also ready and
ripe for manipulation in the stock-market. It was wildcat, and
everybody knew it. The stock was for sale at a give-away. What
does Sir Launcelot do, but--"