THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 6: THE ECLIPSE
Hang him, he said it was the twenty-first! It made me turn cold
to hear him. I begged him not to make any mistake about it; but
he was sure; he knew it was the 21st. So, that feather-headed
boy had botched things again! The time of the day was right
for the eclipse; I had seen that for myself, in the beginning,
by the dial that was near by. Yes, I was in King Arthur's court,
and I might as well make the most out of it I could.
The darkness was steadily growing, the people becoming more and
more distressed. I now said:
"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 sha'n't ask
anybody to give me a lift. Is it satisfactory?"
There was a prodigious roar of applause, and out of the midst
of it the king's voice rose, saying:
"Away with his bonds, and set him free! and do him homage, high
and low, rich and poor, for he is become the king's right hand,
is clothed with power and authority, and his seat is upon the highest
step of the throne! Now sweep away this creeping night, and bring
the light and cheer again, that all the world may bless thee."
But I said:
"That a common man should be shamed before the world, is nothing;
but it were dishonor to the king if any that saw his minister naked
should not also see him delivered from his shame. If I might ask
that my clothes be brought again--"