Hank is now the second-most important person in the kingdom. This means he has fine, showy (and somewhat uncomfortable) clothes and the nicest rooms in the castle. Still, the rooms are drafty, poorly decorated, and lacking familiar creature comforts like “soap, matches,” mirrors, “chromos” (colored illustrations popular in the late 1800s), lamps, and books. Worse, there’s no sugar, coffee, tea, or tobacco. Hank feels that, like Robinson Crusoe, he’s been marooned on an island populated by tame animals.
Although Hank is well on his way to achieving his political ambitions, he must still contend with medieval life. Half of the things that he’s missing represent middle-class, 19th-century life, while the rest are colonial products. Hank himself has imperialistic ambitions to transform medieval England into his ideal society just as Robinson Crusoe transforms his barren island home. And thinking about superiority, he shows how little he values the humanity of the medieval people by comparing them to animals yet again.
Initially, people come from far and wide to meet Hank the powerful magician. When he fails to perform any more miracles, Merlin insinuates that he is a sham. The next eclipse is more than two years away, forcing Hank to figure out a different show of power. He has Merlin thrown in the dungeon and then tells everyone that in two weeks’ time he will take a break from his busy schedule of advising the king to rain down heavenly fire on the sorcerer’s tower. Hank uses the time to make blasting powder and a lightning rod which he and Clarence place in the crumbling tower, which was built centuries earlier by the Romans.
Merlin’s tower was built by the Romans when they ruled Britain. It stands as a testament to civilizations that flourished before the current medieval one and offers a pointed reminder that other civilizations will replace Camelot in the future, too. Hank believes in the virtues of 19th-century America, but the ruins promise that it, too, will eventually crumble. In much the same way, Hank’s power requires the people’s belief, so he must arrange for another show of force. This is the first direct confrontation between Hank as a representative of the New World and Merlin as a representative of the Old Order.
Although there have been many recent thunderstorms, the day appointed for the miracle is threateningly sunny. Finally, at dusk, a storm begins to gather on the horizon, and Hank starts the show. In front of King Arthur, Merlin, and the assembled crowds, he offers Merlin the chance to magically protect his tower. Merlin mutters and waves his arms vigorously until Hank stops him. As the storm breaks overhead, Hank waves his hands three times. A bolt of lightning hits the rod and blows up the charges in the walls. After this “effective miracle,” the droves of visitors vanish, and Merlin has lost all his power in the kingdom.
Hank destroys Merlin’s tower (and his reputation) by channeling the electrical power of lightning. As with the eclipse, Hank’s magic depends on his ability to scientifically predict natural events while simultaneously putting on a convincing show of power. This second demonstration cements his reputation—and thus his power—in the kingdom.