1837 c/o Benjamin King

The doctors, they say her diarrhea is fulminant. It occurs suddenly, without warning. It is intense and severe. Explosive. And the smell. Oh, that horrible smell. It's rancid. All things considered, this fulminant diarrhea is an ailment with which she would rather not be afflicted. It has no advantages, particularly of the social variety.

So on the evening of July 19, in the year 1837, as she is preparing for the Dance of 1,000 Gentlemen, her dressers wrap her asshole tight with cellophane. "What if it leaks?" they ask. "What if it leaks on HIM?"

"I will die of embarrassment," she tells them. "Simply die."

Then she prays. Not to any god that you or I are likely to pray to; she prays to the Lord of Human Excrement.

"Do not forsake me, my lord, not on this evening. This one evening, my lord, I beg of you. Seal my bottom shut."

Then, as if in response to her prayers, a deep rumble reverberates through her stomach and colon.

"Have I displeased thee, my lord? Must you be vengeful on this very eve?"

And then splat. And rip and splat. The cellophane cannot contain the massive load of liquid shit. It's in her stockings, seeping through the fine silk netting. One of her dressers boldly attempts to stem the tide with her hands. The other vomits and runs.

She's in the bath now. Clean again. A new dress has been fetched. Her second choice, lovely but seen before. Her bathers towel her off. She is cellophaned once more.

She arrives at the Dance of 1,000 Gentlemen, nervous, walking carefully. She dares not taste the shallot madeleines. 1,000 likely gentlemen do indeed fill the ballroom. Twirling and smirking, their steps only outdone by their wit. Handsome, all of them, but especially the one for whom she came. She waits.

Half the night has slipped away and still she waits, vexing over 500 hundred would be suitors. Her companions, the Lady of Redford and the Lady of Somerville, encourage her to dance. "Practice," they say, "with an ordinary man." And well she might had she not the need to clench her buttocks so fully.

At last he approaches, tall and of moustache. A pocket watch and a monocle. His conversation is joyous and clever. His dancing is in rhythm with her heart and not her heart. A part of her that is warm and throbbing. She has managed not to shit all over herself. She is happy.

Then the evening comes to a close. The hall has emptied, partners have been chosen and not chosen and the laughter follows the crowd into the warm night air. He and her, flirting and he offers her a ride home in his carriage. She politely refuses, then with decorum dispensed, accepts.

In the carriage he holds her hand and enquires about the wellbeing of her father.

She loses control of her bowels.

Again the cellophane does not hold. The carriage is filled with her fulminant feces. The stench is unbearable. He tries to outmaneuver the river of shit but he cannot escape his dreaded fate. It's on him. IT'S ON HIM.

She is horrified and she laughs. She laughs and she laughs.

"Can you not stop your laughter?" he asks earnestly. "A terrible thing has happened."

"I cannot stop," she admits and then proceeds to laugh some more.

Back at his house she is escorted to the bath. She is soaked and scrubbed. She is dressed in his sister's clothes.

She returns to find him at the piano. He plays not gently but with passion.

"I must apologize," she says to him. "I have no control. It is a suffering that I shall know until the day I die."

"Nonsense," he says. "There is a cure to be found. Of that I am certain."

Weeks and months pass before she sees him again. He has ridden the three miles to her house and he asks for her by name.

"These days without you I have been on a quest," he says. "And I have finally found a potion that will heal your rapid stooling."

"I have missed you so," she says, "and I do not wish to doubt you. But housemaids and doctors have failed in this quest and I have come to accept it in my heart and in my colon. Do not raise my hopes if there is no truth in your words."

"It is from the town," he says, "where they know about such ailments. It is laudanum and they say it is such that your bowels and your demeanor will be suitable for marriage."

"Are you asking for my hand in marriage?"

"Indeed I am," says the gentleman. "Assuming this potion is good."

"Let us begin immediately," she says.

At first she drinks but two drops with her tea in the morning and again two drops at night. Within days her diarrhea is no more. Her mind is clear and her pantaloons are clean. She is ecstatic.

The wedding is ordered and consummated and there is great affection between the two.

But slowly she increases her dosage. Six drops then 10. He worries that it is too much. Her mind is addled. She is confused and lazy. She does not dress until bedtime and she dances without music. 15 drops now.

"I won't go back," she says. "I haven't shit in weeks."

"It's killing you," he says. "Us."

15 drops becomes 30 and then 40. He threatens to deny her the potion entirely. She begs him. She will reduce her dose at least. He does not believe her. She says she will shit on his face.

And it is worse and worse. Soon she is bedridden and catatonic. Then she is dead.

He is distraught and he blames himself. He throws the empty bottles and the full ones out of the window.

"Ouch," says someone from below. It is her sister. The bottles have hit her on the head.

"Oops," he calls, out of the window. "Do pardon."

Her sister, now with a great lump on her head, is attended to in the house. He apologizes once more. She talks to him and consoles him. She assures him that she is not with the shits. Her stools are regular and firm.

Not two months following the death of his first wife, the gentleman marries the sister. They are happy and they live on until they die.