THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 28: DRILLING THE KING
"It is even true. I will say it. Brother, bring a seat, and
thereto what cheer ye have, withal. Now 'tis right."
"Not quite, not wholly right. You have asked for one, not us--
for one, not both; food for one, a seat for one."
The king looked puzzled--he wasn't a very heavy weight, intellectually.
His head was an hour-glass; it could stow an idea, but it had to do
it a grain at a time, not the whole idea at once.
"Would you have a seat also--and sit?"
"If I did not sit, the man would perceive that we were only pretending
to be equals--and playing the deception pretty poorly, too."
"It is well and truly said! How wonderful is truth, come it in
whatsoever unexpected form it may! Yes, he must bring out seats
and food for both, and in serving us present not ewer and napkin
with more show of respect to the one than to the other."
"And there is even yet a detail that needs correcting. He must
bring nothing outside; we will go in--in among the dirt, and
possibly other repulsive things,--and take the food with the
household, and after the fashion of the house, and all on equal
terms, except the man be of the serf class; and finally, there
will be no ewer and no napkin, whether he be serf or free. Please
walk again, my liege. There--it is better--it is the best yet;
but not perfect. The shoulders have known no ignobler burden
than iron mail, and they will not stoop."
"Give me, then, the bag. I will learn the spirit that goeth
with burdens that have not honor. It is the spirit that stoopeth
the shoulders, I ween, and not the weight; for armor is heavy,
yet it is a proud burden, and a man standeth straight in it....
Nay, but me no buts, offer me no objections. I will have the thing.
Strap it upon my back."