Ever since the Cold Spring Pavilion (Lengquan ting 冷泉亭) was built, it has been extolled by scholar-literati as a place of purity, where the dust of the mundane world could be cleansed by the cold spring water flowing beside it. For centuries, people tried to reinforce the image of the pavilion as an innocent haven through writing poems, stories, and essays about their visits there. But they were unaware, or refused to admit, that their admiration of the place also possessed the power to destroy whatever sacredness and serenity it stood for. This paper examines representations of the Cold Spring Pavilion in Chinese literature through the lens of a paradox that has haunted the pavilion since it was first built. The paper argues that, ever since the pavilion was built, it has, through its literary-historical representation, been slowly but inevitably absorbed or assimilated into what it had originally been built to fend off. Like the Cold Spring, which flowed into West Lake, the Cold Spring Pavilion, which was created to help people resist the temptations of city life, was inevitably absorbed into the very fabric of the city.