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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

A Rival Magician
My influence in the Valley of Holiness was something prodigious now. It seemed worth
while to try to turn it to some valuable account. The thought came to me the next
morning, and was suggested by my seeing one of my knights who was in the soap line
come riding in. According to history, the monks of this place two centuries before had
been worldly minded enough to want to wash. It might be that there was a leaven of this
unrighteousness still remaining. So I sounded a Brother:
"Wouldn't you like a bath?"
He shuddered at the thought--the thought of the peril of it to the well--but he said with
feeling:
"One needs not to ask that of a poor body who has not known that blessed refreshment
sith that he was a boy. Would God I might wash me! but it may not be, fair sir, tempt me
not; it is forbidden."
And then he sighed in such a sorrowful way that I was resolved he should have at least
one layer of his real estate removed, if it sized up my whole influence and bankrupted the
pile. So I went to the abbot and asked for a permit for this Brother. He blenched at the
idea--I don't mean that you could see him blench, for of course you couldn't see it without
you scraped him, and I didn't care enough about it to scrape him, but I knew the blench
was there, just the same, and within a book-cover's thickness of the surface, too--
blenched, and trembled. He said:
"Ah, son, ask aught else thou wilt, and it is thine, and freely granted out of a grateful
heart--but this, oh, this! Would you drive away the blessed water again?"
"No, Father, I will not drive it away. I have mysterious knowledge which teaches me that
there was an error that other time when it was thought the institution of the bath banished
the fountain." A large interest began to show up in the old man's face. "My knowledge
informs me that the bath was innocent of that misfortune, which was caused by quite
another sort of sin."
"These are brave words--but--but right welcome, if they be true."
"They are true, indeed. Let me build the bath again, Father. Let me build it again, and the
fountain shall flow forever."
"You promise this?--you promise it? Say the word--say you promise it!"
"I do promise it."
 
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