The Wager – Chapter 2 – ‘Two Visits, Two Mistakes’

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Download: Chapter 2

I was almost honoured to be approached by Skellig Historical Society after reading the first chapter of great grandfather’s once notorious, now sadly novel. As you are perhaps aware, great grandfather was one of Skellig’s most generous benefactors, having been fascinated all his life by the history and unique culture of islands.

Leman Bodley, former chair of the society, told me a great anecdote about great granddads’s lewd performance at the bicentennial of the sinking of Hollands Melvaart, which of course I can’t share for legal reasons. Buy me a dozen quarts of the black stuff and perhaps you’ll wet it out of me.

In any case, the surviving members of the society are all interred together in a retirement community near Clara Lara, and seemed to greatly enjoy the last excerpt, as far as their carers could discern. It seemed only right to give them another slice of history, as they have room enough remaining for only one or two before joining it themselves.

Music Concerto in E flat major Op.30; G minor Op.12, by Antonio Vivaldi, recorded from Grandfather’s phonograph.

Image: Photograph of great grandfather having a grand old time, from the family archives. Courtesy Skellig Historical Society, circa 1911

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A Page from History



Download: Chapter 1
My great grandfather’s book ‘An examination of the effect on character of greatly altered circumstances, as epitomised by the divergent conditions into which two young unfortunates are thrust by the wretched cynicism of their betters,’ or ‘The Wager’ caused an enormous stir upon its initial release in 1919. The book so shocked and dismayed its late Edwardian audience, that it was prohibited both in Ireland, and across the Commonwealth. The book’s content invited comparisons in The Times to ‘the depravities of Wilde, absent his wit’. Today long forgotten, I thought I’d wile away a Summer evening with what seemed likely a dry exercise, but became an entertaining one. This reading is from the second edition, released abroad in 1920.

Music Concerto in E flat major Op.30; G minor Op.12, by Antonio Vivaldi, recorded from Grandfather’s phonograph.

Image: Scan of great-grandfather’s portrait, from the dust jacket.