adies and gentlemen, the situation is grim. Our once-beautiful airship, the Frau Fenstermacher, is doomed, crippled by a combination of albatross collisions and sabotage. Captain Hofstadter is dead, impaled on his own cane-sword, taking with him the secret location of Isla de Pelucas Perdidos. We are losing altitude as I speak, and will soon plunge into the shark-infested waters of the Caribbean. And the cowardly Sir Cadworth has already absconded aboard the emergency escape blimpette. But no matter how desperate our situation may be, I implore you to remember what is truly important. Whatever else, remember the children.
Specifically, remember that they are small and weak, practically defenseless. Hard decisions will presently need to be made, and who better to bear the brunt of those decisions than noisome, sticky-fingered children? Indeed, it is as if God intended that they should be sacrificed first, and who are we to second-guess His divine will?
They, with their angelic faces and innocent hearts, must be the first to go, thrown over the railings or stuffed unceremoniously through the portholes.
Take the babes in arms. They, with their angelic faces and innocent hearts, must be the first to go, thrown over the railings or stuffed unceremoniously through the portholes. By ridding ourselves of this rosy-cheeked ballast, we will lighten the ship and thereby secure for ourselves some precious time before we plunge into the unforgiving sea.
But what shall we do when we at last succumb to gravity’s inescapable embrace? That is where the fatties come in. Too many sweets and too few beatings have left many of the children bloated—which is to say, buoyant—and that buoyancy is the key to our survival. Once lashed together with cravats and cummerbunds, the fatties will make a spare but serviceable raft. By my calculations, there should be room aboard for all of the first-class passengers together with their wives and one mistress apiece, plus the members of the orchestra, most of Lady Throckington’s peacocks, and a small provision of necessaries from the ship’s stores, including spat stiffener and monocle polish.
But what shall we eat as we drift helplessly upon the sea’s cruel bosom for days or even weeks? That is where the children of Father Spooner’s choir come in. They are far too scrawny to go into the raft, but countless hours of kneeling and trembling before God have left them exquisitely tender. Indeed, I wager the tassels on my best Hessian boots that the flesh will slide right off their bones and melt in our mouths. With some lemons and the odd dash of horseradish sauce, we will eat like the noblest Turkman.
Of course, it will be imperative to maintain order. Without children to abuse or neglect, the endemic violence that bubbles just beneath the surface of our repressed society may seek other outlets, perhaps even indelicate language. Colonel Avery, I trust you will bring your dueling pistols so that we may settle our differences like civilized men.
That leaves only the other passengers and the surviving members of the crew. They will, of course, be expected to go down with the ship into the perilous waters of the Caribbean, which, as I have already indicated, are shark-infested. We can only hope that they are good enough to die with dispatch and not bob about making a nuisance of themselves.
Now, I know some of you will question the wisdom, or even the humanity, of my plan. But all we will be doing is sending the children to God, and God loves children. Indeed, He loves them even more than Father Spooner, and Father Spooner loves children very, very, very much. If anything, the children will be the lucky ones, for while we drift at the mercy of the unforgiving sea, they will be basking in the golden glow of God’s throne, at peace. Except for the Cohen children, of course.
Are we all in agreement? Then let us roll up our sleeves and do what must be done with all speed. If we hurry, there may still be time for a quick round of baccarat before the fire reaches the lounge.
Oh, Mrs. Beazle, kindly send the children back in now.