In King Arthur’s Court
“Name any terms, reverend sir, even to the halving of my kingdom; but banish this calamity, spare the sun!”
My fortune was made. I would have taken him up in a minute, but I couldn’t stop an eclipse; the thing was out of the question. So I asked time to consider. The king said:
“How long—ah, how long, good sir? Be merciful; look, it groweth darker, moment by moment. Prithee how long?”
“Not long. Half an hour—maybe an hour.”
There were a thousand pathetic protests, but I couldn’t shorten up any, for I couldn’t remember how long a total eclipse lasts.
It grew darker and darker and blacker and blacker, while I struggled with those awkward sixth-century clothes. It got to be pitch dark, at last, and the multitude groaned with horror to feel the cold uncanny night breezes fan through the place and see the stars come out and twinkle in the sky. At last the eclipse was total, and I was very glad of it, but everybody else was in misery; which was quite natural. I said:
“The king, by his silence, still stands to the terms.” Then I lifted up my hands—stood just so a moment—then I said, with the most awful solemnity: “Let the enchantment dissolve and pass harmless away!”
There was no response, for a moment, in that deep darkness and that graveyard hush. But when the silver rim of the sun pushed itself out, a moment or two later, the assemblage broke loose with a vast shout and came pouring down like a deluge to smother me with blessings and gratitude; and Clarence was not the last of the wash, to be sure.
– Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Author’s Court
A Real Life Total Eclipse Comes to North America
The eclipse sequence is one of my favorites in one of my favorite books. (Some day I’m going to write an essay on it and what it shows about changing American culture.) This time though, being smart Yankees ourselves, we know the eclipse is coming so we have time to prepare ourselves.
The path of the total eclipse will barely touch Iowa, although we’re close enough to its path that we should still get a pretty decent one.
Be sure to watch safely.
For more resources check out these recommendations from our friendly neighbors in Nebraska that will have the eclipse cross the entire state.
More resources from the libraries of Nebraska
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.