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By Christopher Moore

Charlie Asher is a good looking basic man with a regular existence, married to a vibrant and lovely girl who truly loves him for his normalcy. They're even approximately to have their first baby. sure, Charlie's doing okay—until humans commence shedding useless round him, and all over the place he is going a dismal presence whispers to him from below the streets. Charlie Asher, it sort of feels, has been recruited for a brand new place: as loss of life.

It's a grimy activity. yet, howdy! Somebody's gotta do it.

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He remembered that in London just after the war, when everything was worn out, telephones used some­ times to behave in this erratic w ay; the line would go dead; then crackle; then, when the tangled wire was given a twist and a jerk, normal conversation was rejoined. He supposed that somewhere over his head, in the ventilation shaft prob­ ably, there were a number o f frayed and partly disconnected wires which every now and then with the movement o f the ship came into contact and so established communication now with one, now with another part o f the ship.

He was awake and there was a very curious scene being played near him; under his feet, it seemed. He heard distinctly a clergyman conducting a religious meeting. M r Pinfold had no first-hand acquaintance with evangelical practice. His home and his schools had professed a broad-to-high anglicanism. His ideas o f nonconformity derived from literature, from Mr Chadband and Philip Henry Gosse, from charades and from back numbers o f Punch. The sermon, which was just rising to its peroration, was plainly an expression o f that kind o f faith, scriptural in diction, emotional in appeal.

He sank into his chair and then, when the Bruiser left, got to his feet again with an enormous obvious effort. ‘ Please don’t come out/ said the Bruiser. THE O R D E A L OF G I L B E R T P I N F O L D 29 Mrs Pinfold went with him to release his dog and when she returned found Mr Pinfold enraged. ‘ I know what you two have been talking about/ ‘ Do you? ’ Mrs Pinfold looked at him sadly. * The Caliban was not a ship so large as to require a special train; carriages were reserved on the regular service from London.

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