Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Fire

"Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the Age of Rags!"

The assembled crowd tittered. They were the upper crust, dressed in fresh rags imported from the city on the backs of the homeless.

The band swelled and the crowd became dancers, whirling across the parquet of the grand ballroom. Homeless men and women trudged past the windows and saw their old rags swirling by on men and women of leisure, lit in the eerie glare of electric lights. The crowd outside wore the finest fashions, the latest frock coats, the shiniest satin dresses reflecting the flames of the burning oil pots lining the path.

One man stopped outside of the windows and peered inside.

"Move along, then!" shouted the burly footman who'd arranged the sartorial trade.

"My name is Jean Jolliet, and I belong in there, not out here with the ruffians," he announced.

"We'll see about that!" the footman said, who began to scuffle with Jean. They both tumbled to the ground.

"Unhand me, scoundrel!" Jean shouted. He yelped, for his new coat tails had caught fire from one of the oilpots.

"Ow!" he shouted.

"Serves you right," the footman said.

Jean slapped at the flames but they grew brighter and spread across his jacket like he had been drenched in oil.

"Help! Help!"

Several of the other people ran towards Jean with jackets and skirts in hand and tried to smother the fire, but it blazed brighter and brighter until Jean had been completely consumed in the flames.

But he didn't fall over.

"We are the demons of fire," Jean said, in a crackly voice. "And we hate electric lights."

"What?" the footman asked, unsure as to what was happening.

"The electric lights. We hate them. The wires are cages and we get cramped within." Jean blazed brighter. "Flame is the best form. We like the night sky, we always try to jump to meet it but always fall short. It is our way. But these electric lights are bad."

The only concept that the footman could latch onto was that this...entity was disrespecting the master of the house, who was enormously proud of the electric lights.

"Tough. Now bugger off with your philosophy," the footman said.

"Yes, the wires are indeed tough, but not invincible. Observe," Jean said.

The footman didn't notice anything at first because of the fog of sweat and cigar smoke already present in the ballroom, then a dark smoke began to pour out of the light fixtures.

"We will always break our prisons," Jean said.

One of the homeless men stepped forward. They were all filthy, not having access to a decent bath in ages, but this man had an inscrutable aura of grime about him, like the ashes of a thousand fires had been baked into his skin.

He produced a silver fireplace poker from somewhere on his person, took a few practice swings, and then cracked Jean on the back of his head. The blow extinguished the flames on Jean and he fell over with a grunt.

"You find some interesting bits as a chimney sweep," the man said.

"That was amazing," someone in the crowd said.

The chimney sweep waved his hand away. "That's not even the neatest thing that I've knicked. Here it is," he said, passing around a tintype of the footman in an extremely explicit position on a trapeze.

The footman was too busy chasing the chimney sweep across the lawn to notice that the manor house was on fire.

The Moral: Always have your electrical wiring installed according to building codes.

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