Once upon a time the Lord Abbot of St.
Edmondsbury, in consequence of "devotions too strong for his head,"
fell sick and was unable to leave his bed.
As he lay awake, tossing his
head restlessly from side to side, the attentive monks noticed that
something was disturbing his mind; but nobody dared ask what it might
be, for the abbot was of a stern disposition, and never would brook
Suddenly he called for Father John, and that venerable
monk was soon at the bedside.
"Father John," said the Abbot, "dost thou know
that I came into this wicked world on a Christmas Even?"
The monk nodded assent.
"And have I not often told thee that, having been
born on Christmas Even, I have no love for the things that are odd?
The Abbot pointed to the large dormitory window,
of which I give a sketch.
The monk looked, and was perplexed.
"Dost thou not see that the sixty-four lights add
up an even number vertically and horizontally, but that all the diagonal
lines, except fourteen are of a number that is odd?
Why is this?"
"Of a truth, my Lord Abbot, it is of the very
nature of things, and cannot be changed."
"Nay, but it shall be changed.
I command thee that certain of the lights be closed this day, so that
every line shall have an even number of lights.
See thou that this be
done without delay, lest the cellars be locked up for a month and other
grievous troubles befall thee."
Father John was at his wits' end, but after
consultation with one who was learned in strange mysteries, a way was
found to satisfy the whim of the Lord Abbot.
Which lights were blocked
up, so that those which remained added up an even number in every line
horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, while the least possible
obstruction of light was caused?