A couple of weeks ago I finished reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. My memory, as I've stated on several occasions is not perfect so some of this may not be exactly as it happened in the book.
Some people say the book is a satire on English royalty. Some say it is a satire on Yankee ingenuity. I think it is neither. The thing about Twain's portrayal of 6th century English royalty is it is just handy as a pocket to illustrate how power and greed can obliterate any feeling for humanity. All that ensues about Yankee ingenuity seems to say a lot more about humanity's reluctance to accept new technology than a satire about its failures. But all that could be argued, and by people much better educated and much smarter than I am.
What I am going to do is relate some of the events that happened when the Yankee, from now on referred to as the "Boss" visited Arthur's sister, Morgan Le Fay.
First let me say that either I can't remember or it was never explained why everyone called the Yankee the Boss but he had impressed Arthur tremendously and so was given a wide range of political power. The Boss had two goals. One was to introduce 19th century technology to 6th century England. The second was to eventually eliminate (upon Arthur's death) their system of government including the royals - I think especially the royals - and institute a republic.
I won't try to mimic Mark Twain's prose. Forsooth, it would be impossible for me to do that.
There was royal banquet held at Mrs. Le Fay's castle. During which the band performed "In the Sweet Bye and Bye." The Boss described this as a horror. Mrs. Le Fay agreed that it was and decreed that all the band should be hanged. The Boss thought this punishment was harsh and protested but other events gave him pause.
He wanted to see the dungeon. There a young man was being tortured on the rack while his wife, holding their young child, cried piteously. The man was accused of killing a deer and was being tortured to make him confess. Mrs. Le Fay could have him killed for no other reason than it suited her fancy. But the accusation of killing a deer and the fact he was found near the deer's body was more than sufficient justification. In the Boss's mind, it wasn't so much that the man was going to die for his alleged crime but why was he being tortured? Witnessing the young man's slow and painful demise while listening to the young wife's pitiful cries was more than the Boss could bear. He implored the young man to confess.
Eventually he gained the young man's confidence and learned that he had killed the deer. It had been eating his crops. However, he could not confess publicly. By law his confession would give Mrs. Le Fay the right to take his land leaving his young wife and child penniless.
The Boss was sympathetic to the young man. He struck a deal with Mrs. Le Fay. She agreed after some haggling. The decision was this. The young man would go free. The band would be hanged. The Boss would get together a new band. He made the executioner the new band leader. When the executioner protested saying he didn't know how to play a musical instrument, the Boss replied that was an insufficient reason since no one in the kingdom knew how to play a musical instrument.
For me this book was emotionally disturbing but then I can't watch a horror movie without being horrified. Still, at times it made me laugh. I can't say I loved it but I can't say I regret reading it.