THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 2: KING ARTHUR'S COURT
The moment I got a chance I slipped aside privately and touched
an ancient common looking man on the shoulder and said, in an
insinuating, confidential way:
"Friend, do me a kindness. Do you belong to the asylum, or are
you just on a visit or something like that?"
He looked me over stupidly, and said:
"Marry, fair sir, me seemeth--"
"That will do," I said; "I reckon you are a patient."
I moved away, cogitating, and at the same time keeping an eye
out for any chance passenger in his right mind that might come
along and give me some light. I judged I had found one, presently;
so I drew him aside and said in his ear:
"If I could see the head keeper a minute--only just a minute--"
"Prithee do not let me."
"Let you what?"
"Hinder me, then, if the word please thee better. Then he went
on to say he was an under-cook and could not stop to gossip,
though he would like it another time; for it would comfort his
very liver to know where I got my clothes. As he started away he
pointed and said yonder was one who was idle enough for my purpose,
and was seeking me besides, no doubt. This was an airy slim boy
in shrimp-colored tights that made him look like a forked carrot,
the rest of his gear was blue silk and dainty laces and ruffles;
and he had long yellow curls, and wore a plumed pink satin cap
tilted complacently over his ear. By his look, he was good-natured;
by his gait, he was satisfied with himself. He was pretty enough
to frame. He arrived, looked me over with a smiling and impudent
curiosity; said he had come for me, and informed me that he was a page.
"Go 'long," I said; "you ain't more than a paragraph."