Monday, February 16, 2009

Overheard at a Victorian Dinner Party

The Following is an excerpt from Overheard at a Victorian Dinner Party by Ben Shakey. It will be published by Gamfield’s Sweatshop Press in March 2009.

“I hear my chimney sweep lost another little boy”

“Oh it’s so dreadful. The little boys covered in soot. I always give their masters an extra penny and a piece of fruit to pass on to them.”

“I wish the government would do something. The Parliament should step in and demand a better way to clean chimneys. When they come here I just want to cry. They stare at me with those huge eyes and their blacken faces as they climb in. I just think why can’t someone come up with a better way.”
“It’s actually a good opportunity for these children. Without this job they would have nothing. It doesn’t seem like they get paid a lot to us, but for them it’s a lot of money.”

“I bet those chimney boys make more than their parents ever did at the poorhouse.”

“It’s better than the alternative. I’d rather be a chimney than peddling my wares to buggers on the street! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

“Some chimney sweeps treat the children very well but you never know which ones. They could just as easily be the kind that lights a fire while they are in there to get them moving. It’s too hard to tell. I just go with the cheapest now.”
“I heard the Queen had a boy stuck in her flue and left him to die.”

“What else can you do? It’s not like you can knock down the whole chimney and pull him out and you can’t let the chimney fill with soot and set the house on fire.”

“It’s true you have to think of your family and their needs.”

“I know I can’t afford to knock holes in my walls but you would think someone as rich as the Royal Family could do better.”

“I don’t want to think about this. We are here to have a nice evening. Let’s talk about something more pleasant.”

The host hoped the boy would stay quiet.

High up in the smokestack David gave up on struggling. He rested his face against the cold bricks.

He listened to people below, and waited.

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