Dear Messrs Pyle and Kneebone,
The gravity of my situation forces me to write with candour and brevity. My fair child, Cedric, has become possessed by the Devil.
Earlier this week at dinner, Cedric speared a potato before the commencement of Grace. Naturally I flogged the child. This only served to egg on the Demon inhabiting his body. The child has danced and I have flogged; the child has been found cavorting with the lower orders and I have flogged, it has whistled a profane tune and I have flogged. For the love of my child and for the sake of his immortal soul I will be steadfast in the administration of the beatings, but Sirs, I must know if this is a futile ritual? Pray tell, can you confirm that you can flog Satan out of a wayward child?
Jonah and Ida Pfeiffer
Your most worthy missive arrived with a touch of divine providence. Indeed, I took receipt of your message while Jebediah was at the courthouse giving evidence in the case of a rascally little jackanape who had recently pilfered a loaf of bread from our pantry. I burst through the courthouse doors moments before the judge was about to send the child to the gallows and bid the court that he become my ward.
My good man, I profoundly doubt if there has ever been an urchin on this ‘Fair Isle’ more possessed by Satan’s wickedness. Filth and soot have rendered him the blackest of Satan’s imps and he has a mouth and manners to match. In fact it was an act of extreme probity that prevented us from flogging him senseless on sight.
But we are men of science and so, with a restraining hand, we devised a system of punishments whose severity increased in increments. I will spare the most gruesome of details, suffice to say that the first week followed a tempestuous pattern – A flogging in the morning; remorse by noon; hijinx and devilry by nightfall. We were on the point of surrender, when we introduced a bullwhip dipped in brine. When this instrument is met with the bare skin of a wayward child the results are extremely positive. Calling out to the glory of the Lord, the child expelled Satan from his soul by vomiting demonic plasma clear across the room. But the Lord of Darkness has infinite cunning. For, expelled though he was from the little wretch, he slithered his nefarious way into Jebediah’s body. This was revealed to me in the morn, when I arose to find the child returned to his errant ways. At my wits end, I set upon the child and thrashed him until he was unconscious. And then a most curious thing happened. Jebediah spumed. From his throat flowed the Devil’s toxins. And herein lies your answer. With a briny bullwhip, flog your child until he expels Satan, then flog him again until your wife expels Satan. That is the ticket. As I write, the child is rocking gently in a chair in our drawing room, not uttering a peep, with the bible upon his lap. Myth confirmed.
We remain, your humble servants
Thadeus Pyle & Jebediah Kneebone Esq.