Programming note: On Easter morn, we will have a special seasonal entry to our anthology of video poetry. I hope you'll join us.
Meanwhile, we continue our latest Tale for Our Time: Anthony Trollope's lone venture into dystopian fiction, The Fixed Period. Thank you for your kind comments on this and other Tales. Philip Paustian, a First Fortnight Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Florida, says:
I simply wish to second the request for a printed version of The Prisoner of Windsor.
If you wish to explore Conan Doyle again for Tales for Our Time, have you considered any of his Exploits of Brigadier Gerard , Conan Doyle's vivid short stories retelling of the exploits of a Etienne Gerard, a Napoleonic officer?
That's a good suggestion - and thank you for remembering The Prisoner of Windsor fondly enough to hector me to get on with the hardback version.
In tonight's episode of The Fixed Period, the caretaker at Necropolis is having difficulty keeping staff:
"The girl we have has given us notice, and she is the ninth within a year. No followers will come after them here, because they say they'll smell the dead bodies."
"Rubbish!" I exclaimed, angrily; "positive rubbish! The actual clay will evaporate into the air, without leaving a trace either for the eye to see or the nose to smell."
"They all say that when you tried the furnaces there was a savour of burnt pork."
Now great trouble was taken in that matter of cremation; and having obtained from Europe and the States all the best machinery for the purpose, I had supplied four immense hogs, in order that the system might be fairly tested, and I had fattened them for the purpose, as old men are not unusually very stout. These we consumed in the furnaces all at the same time, and the four bodies had been dissolved into their original atoms without leaving a trace behind them by which their former condition of life might be recognised. But a trap-door in certain of the chimneys had been left open by accident,—either that or by an enemy on purpose,—and undoubtedly some slight flavour of the pig had been allowed to escape. I had been there on the spot, knowing that I could trust only my own senses, and was able to declare that the scent which had escaped was very slight, and by no means disagreeable...
"They say that men and women would not have quite the same smell," said he.
"How do they know that?" I exclaimed, in my anger. "How do they know what men and women will smell like? They haven't tried. There won't be any smell at all—not the least; and the smoke will all consume itself, so that even you, living just where you are, will not know when cremation is going on. We might consume all Gladstonopolis, as I hope we shall some day, and not a living soul would know anything about it. But the prejudices of the citizens are ever the stumbling-blocks of civilisation."
If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club you can hear my reading of Part Fourteen of our serialization of The Fixed Period simply by clicking here and logging-in. All previous episodes can be found here - so you can choose whether to listen each night twenty minutes before you lower your lamp, or save them up for a weekend binge-listen.
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