In this chapter we encounter Morgan le Fay; it is also where we encounter redundancy.
“If knights errant were to be believed, not all castles were desirable places to seek hospitality in. As a matter of fact, knights errant were not persons to be believed… It was simple: you discounted a statement ninety-seven percent; the rest was fact” (107).
Really, not all castles are places of refuge? What makes you say that, after thinking the last one was a lunatic asylum? *rolls eyes*
But, still, discounting anything, let alone a statement, by ninety-seven percent is a whole whopping slice of the fact. Like, if the doctor said to me, “Curtis, you have cancer in your ass; we have to operate immediately” but I had to discount that statement’s factual content by ninety-seven percent before I made a decision, I would probably just look for a new doctor.
But, any ways, Protag-man and Kick-ass Woman, encounter a man with a plumed helm that wore a tabard, something which is supposed to call to mind street activists who wear planks on both sides of their chest and back, usually advertising some politically message of some kind. What is this bloke’s message? Well, soap, obviously.
“That was a little idea of my own, and had several wholesale purposes in view toward the civilizing and uplifting of this nation. In the first place, it was a furtive, underhanded blow at this nonsense of knight errantry, though nobody suspected but me. […] [I] judged that by and by when they got numerous enough they [Knights] would begin to look ridiculous;
“Secondly, these missionaries would gradually… introduce rudimentary cleanliness among the nobility, and from them it would work down to the people, if the priests could be kept quiet. This would undermine the church. I mean would be a step to that. Next, education—next, freedom—and then she would begin to crumble.”
I find this extremely amusing.
On one hand, it subverts the idea of a missionary, turning a theological concept into something far more practical—cleanliness. This, while, the new missionary is supposed to spread education while at the same time devaluing the knightly class by way of being both practical—what knights are not—and absurd looking, thus, the aesthetic of knights themselves become devalued. Ultimately, from all of this is supposed to form the embryo of an anti-Church plan.
As I said, brilliant!
“It being my conviction that any established church is an established crime” (108).
I may have to start using this quote in more pieces. Awesome.
Protag-man’s soap missionaries are instructed to wash every knight errant that they meet. Then there is this elaborate charade with lords and saintly hermits which are supposed to convince the ruling class that their soap is worth using. It is an amusing take on how to sustain anachronisms. Oh, Protag-man also complains about complaints against his soap factory. Weird.
“This missionary knight’s name was Le Cote Male Taile, and he said that this castle was the abode of Morgan Le Fay, Sister of King Arthur, and wife of King Uriens, monarch of a realm about as big as the District of Columbia—you could stand in the middle of it and throw bricks into the next kingdom. ‘Kings’ and ‘kingdoms’ were as thick in Britain as they had been in little Palestine in Joshua’s time, when people had to sleep with their knees pulled up because they couldn’t stretch out without a passport” (109).
Ah, I was wondering when Morgan Le Fay would show up. Will she be cruel and despotic? Well, let’s see.
But first, I love the ability of Twain to make these parallels. But also his funny descriptions—not being able to stretch because your feet or arms would need a passport. That certainly paints a vivid description at just how thick the kingdoms are! LOL
“All of her ways were wicked, all her instincts devilish. She was loaded to the eyelids with malice. All her history was black with crime; and among her crimes, murder was common. I was most curious to see her; as curious as I could be to see Satan” (110).
I again love the description that Twain paints for us. He really has a way with words. But I am going to try and stop gushing now because it doesn’t add anything to the let’s read.
Protag-man chats with an incredibly youthful Le Fay. She seems very pretty and nice but quickly slaughters a servant for no particular reason, other than Twain needing to demonstrate her evilness. Obviously, it is Morgan who wears the pants in the castle, everyone else—including her husband—being along for the ride.
At any rate, she orders our ciphers into the dungeon. But, Sandy continues to demonstrate her baddassery by pointing out to Morgan that Protag-man is ‘The Boss’. Morgan then gushes with praise trying to clear up her atrocious behavior, singing out loud that she was just trying to goad a trick on Protag-man’s part when she ordered them to be brought to the dungeon. After all, Protag-man, conqueror of Merlin, is one who knows many tricks!