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The Spike or Victoria College Review 1936



A lonely candle burned with a tremulous flame in the centre of a large bare table. The dim oasis of light seemed all too inadequate in that desert of darkness. A blackness as extensive as space itself pressed in upon this diminutive oponent with an intensity that was well-nigh overwhelming.

At one end of the table, almost beyond the reach of those feeble beams, sat a large figure clad entirely in black. Behind his chair stood three silent forms similarly attired—black, motionless, mysterious, they seemed almost to be a part of that dimensionless darkness surrounding them.

At the other end of the table, more clearly outlined in the glow and singularly detached from his surroundings was a thin figure clad entirely in grey.

The two seated figures were dicing.

Somewhere, there was an eerie, unearthly whining, now near, now far of—it might have been the wind. The only other sound that challenged the heavy silence was the hollow rattling of the dice.

The figure at the head of the table addressed the grey one opposite. His words were uttered in a cold, lifeless monotone.

"What have you to stake me?"


The answer was curt but not unpleasant in sound.


The second figure threw—a five and a six!

He leant forward expectantly.

The first with slow deliberation shook his dice.

Two sixes!

Noiselessly, one of the black satellites slipped swiftly away and became a part of the darkness.

Death had won and Accident went as his messenger. . .

"Good-morning, Mr. Smith!"

"Good morning. I want to pay my premium. I believe it's due."


"I don't know that it's much use, but I suppose I'll get the benefit of it some day."

"Well, we never know what's going to happen to us in this world, and it's a man's duty to make some provision for his wife and family. I think everyone should have a reasonable cover on his life."

"Naturally you'd hold that view, but all the time you're hoping we'll live to a ripe old age, aren't you?"

Mr. Smith smiled good-humouredly as he took his receipt and left the building. . .

At ten minutes past eight next morning, fresh from his cold bath, Mr. Smith sat down to a breakfast of poached eggs and toast which he consumed whilst perusing the morning paper. Thus he had done at the same time, in the same way for years. This whole business of getting up, eating and being at the Office on time, he had reduced to a smoothly working routine. At twenty-five minutes past eight he rose, put on the overcoat and hat which his wife held ready for him, and kissed both the children good-bye. This morning, however, little Molly demanded a second kiss and, of course, this meant giving Margaret another, too. Consequently, after embracing his wife, he found himself a minute or two late and had to break into a run in order to catch his train.

At eight minutes to nine, one of a crowd of hundreds, Mr. Smith hurried out of the station and set out towards his Office. There was a light drizzling rain in the City and he pulled his coat-collar up round his ears. As he stepped off the pavement, he recalled the recent incident at home. He wondered why children had such delightful little whims. They'd be at school by——

There was a screeching of brakes, the squeal of skidding tyres—but the road surface was wet; no brakes could hope to hold a car on that. Somewhere, a woman screamed—a crowd gathered—an ambulance arrived—but it was too late!

Accident had discharged his duty. . .