Summary and Analysis
Chapter 39-Final P.S. By M. T.
Just a few days after his return to Camelot, The Boss must fight Sir Sagramor le Desirous to give satisfaction for the supposed malediction several years earlier. In this tournament, a new rule takes effect: Each combatant can use any weapon which he chooses.
Merlin, of course, is on the side of Sir Sagramor, working to make him invisible to his opponent although visible to everyone else. Indeed, all of the knights are siding with Sir Sagramor, since The Boss has made known his anti-knighthood feelings. He is alone with his servants at his end of the field.
The two combatants meet in front of the kings stand. Sir Sagramor is in full battle regalia and is seated upon a huge, magnificent horse. The Boss is in tights and riding a medium-sized, quick horse.
The tournament begins, and the two opponents charge at each other. The Boss uses the agility of his horse to evade Sir Sagramor's lance; he does this several times, until Sir Sagramor loses his temper, and the fight turns into a game of tag. Finally, The Boss takes out a lasso; he ropes Sir Sagramor and yanks him from his saddle.
Several other knights challenge The Boss, as is their right, and each of them, including Sir Launcelot, meets the same fate. After this bout, however, Merlin manages to steal the lasso. When the bugle is blown again for yet another joust, Sir Sagramor rides out, and The Boss pretends to find him by the sound of his horse's hooves. Sir Sagramor tells The Boss that he is a dead man and that The Boss will die on Sir Sagramor's sword. When the king suggests that The Boss borrow a weapon to replace the missing rope, Sir Sagramor denies him this right.
Sir Sagramor charges, but The Boss remains unmoving. When Sir Sagramor is some fifteen paces away, The Boss pulls out a pistol, which he has made, and he shoots Sir Sagramor, killing him. The crowd is amazed, for there is no apparent reason for the man to be dead. No one else steps forward to challenge The Boss, so he challenges them all. Five hundred knights mount and charge, and when they get close enough, The Boss pulls out both of his guns and begins to shoot; nine knights fall — and then, suddenly the others stop, they stare, and they turn in flight.
In the ensuing three years, The Boss reveals the mines and factories and workshops that he had started but had kept hidden. He also continues to challenge any and all knights who wish to face him — alone or en masse. He has no takers.
Many changes have taken place in these three years. Books begin to be printed, railroads begin running, and steam and electricity become available throughout the country; machines that run on these modes of power have been introduced, telephones and telegraph lines are everywhere, steamboats are plying the Thames, and a navy has been formed. The Boss is ready to try to overthrow the Catholic Church and to introduce universal suffrage.
The Boss has also married Sandy, and they have a child — a daughter — named Hello-Central. Just as things are going entirely his way, however, The Boss's daughter, Hello-Central, becomes very ill. The Boss decides to halt all of his plans of progress in order to take care of her, and when the doctors suggest that sea air is necessary to bring her back to health, he takes a man-of-war and a party of two-hundred and sixty men and goes cruising. After two weeks of sailing, they land on the French coast, decide to stay for awhile, and send the ship back for supplies.
Shortly after the ship has sailed, Hello-Central takes a turn for the worse, and The Boss's attention is taken up with caring for her. One should note here that The Boss married Sandy for the sake of appearance. She, however, turned out to be a fine wife and an excellent mother. She chose the name
"Hello-Central" because The Boss cried it out in his dreams (his girlfriend back in Hartford had been a telephone operator); Sandy, of course, thought it was the name of a lost girlfriend.
After two and a half weeks, Hello-Central recovers, but the ship, which was supposed to be gone only three or four days, has not returned. After another two weeks without a ship, The Boss returns to England to find out what has happened. When he arrives, everything is shut down. The Church has struck back; an Interdict is in effect.
In disguise, The Boss sets out for Camelot alone. When he reaches it, the gate is wide open, and everything is silent. The Boss finds Clarence alone in his quarters, and the electric lights have been replaced by rag lamps. The whole business, Clarence tells The Boss, was caused by Launcelot and Guenever. Launcelot manipulated the stock market to undo a number of knights, including Sir Agravane and Sir Mordred, nephews of the king. As a result, twelve knights laid an ambush for Launcelot, but he killed all but Mordred. As a result of this, the country became divided; some supported the king in his grievance, while others supported Sir Launcelot.
Then the king proposed to purify the queen by fire, but Launcelot and his men came to the rescue. This, of course, intensified the lines of battle. A truce between the parties was arranged, except for Sir Gawaine, whose brothers had been slain in the fighting. He told Launcelot to expect an attack. Launcelot left for another stronghold, and Gawaine followed, luring the king with him. Unfortunately, Arthur left Mordred in charge, and Mordred used the opportunity to try to make his position permanent.
Again, a truce was arranged, but that was broken when a knight slashed at a live snake (an adder) at the treaty conference, causing a riot to break out. The king is now dead, Guenever is a nun, and the terms of the Interdict include The Boss. Indeed, he learns that the doctors who ministered to Hello-Central and who told him that sea air was needed were servants of the Church. Thus, The Boss and Clarence make plans for a last-ditch effort to hold off the forces arrayed against them. They have fifty-two boys who are faithful; all of the others whom they had trained reverted to their former superstitious ways when the Interdict was announced. Clarence has prepared a cave, fitting it with a dynamo, wires, and other similar supplies. In addition, if the end seems to be approaching, Clarence and the faithful will blow up all the factories and other institutions which The Boss has had built, so that these cannot be used against them; in addition, they have planted explosives in strategic places.
In front of the cave, they have rigged electric wire fences, and they have Gatling guns arranged to cover the entrance of the cave and the area beyond it. They also have torpedoes. Everything is ready, and so The Boss decides that they should take the offensive. He and Clarence declare the country to be a Republic, abolishing the monarchy, the nobility, and the Church. Then they head for the cave.
The first thing which they do when they reach the cave is to vacate the factories. Then they wait.
It takes a week, but a large part of England, nobility and common men alike, begins to gather near the cave. As more and more people reach the area, the boys become uneasy about the fact that they might have to kill their own people, along with the gentry. The Boss points out to them, however, that the nobility will lead the charge; they will be the only ones who are on the receiving end of what they plan to do. This reassures the boys.
Finally, the knights charge. They hit the spot where the torpedoes have been set, and they are blown to bits. At the same time, an order is given and the factories are blown up.