THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 22: THE HOLY FOUNTAIN
"When I work, Father, be sure there will be no devil's work
connected with it. I shall use no arts that come of the devil,
and no elements not created by the hand of God. But is Merlin
working strictly on pious lines?"
"Ah, he said he would, my son, he said he would, and took oath
to make his promise good."
"Well, in that case, let him proceed."
"But surely you will not sit idle by, but help?"
"It will not answer to mix methods, Father; neither would it be
professional courtesy. Two of a trade must not underbid each
other. We might as well cut rates and be done with it; it would
arrive at that in the end. Merlin has the contract; no other
magician can touch it till he throws it up."
"But I will take it from him; it is a terrible emergency and the
act is thereby justified. And if it were not so, who will give
law to the Church? The Church giveth law to all; and what she
wills to do, that she may do, hurt whom it may. I will take it
from him; you shall begin upon the moment."
"It may not be, Father. No doubt, as you say, where power is
supreme, one can do as one likes and suffer no injury; but we poor
magicians are not so situated. Merlin is a very good magician
in a small way, and has quite a neat provincial reputation. He
is struggling along, doing the best he can, and it would not be
etiquette for me to take his job until he himself abandons it."
The abbot's face lighted.
"Ah, that is simple. There are ways to persuade him to abandon it."