Friday, December 19, 2014


          They lost the King towards dusk on the third day. Talking it over later, they agreed that it wasn’t their fault. They had, to be sure, agreed with him when he had suggested that it might be amusing to walk over the Bridge No Broader than the Width of a Moderately-Sharp Razor backwards and blindfolded, with butter on his feet, but none – they were certain – had sounded enthusiastic about it. Pranyabattishur, with the fine-grained obsequiousness which had won him the title of “Royal Servant Most Likely to be Pushed into the Crocodile Pond” three years running, had, to be sure, volunteered to tie the blindfold, but that was just his being Pranyabattishur. “Besides,” as the King had pointed out, “what’s the worst that could happen? We’re already dead.”

          The Minister of Religion had long been a patronage post, but the recently-deceased holder had been driven, out of sheer boredom, to read some of the vast archives which had accumulated over the centuries. “There’s a lot of dispute about that, Sire. Some say that the abyss beneath the Bridge No Broader than the Width of a Moderately-Sharp Razor is bottomless, and that the soul which falls off should be provided with a mandolin and a large fund of interesting things to think about, since he will fall forever and may find time lying heavy on his hands. Others say that abyss cannot be bottomless, as the Universe is finite, and therefore the soul, having plunged off, can look forward to a refreshing dip in the River of Extraordinarily Hot Fire. Artureshnan, though a heretic a most learned man, suggested that the abyss was a metaphor for the soul of man, which can never be fully comprehended, and that to fall into it was to fall into oneself; he recommended taking a shawl as the nights can be cold.”

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