Published in Six Common Things, November 1893
Approx. 1,300 words
(First read 26/10/2014)
In the final doodah of Six Common Things our Unnamed Narrator tells us he's been diagnosed with cancer and has six months to live. He addresses the reader directly:
May I treat you all quite intimately? May I say things to you that I would say only to those that I trusted and loved?"Yeah, why not, whatever, knock yourself out," was my reply; "you don't mind if I carry on worming the cat while you're doing it, do you?" Luckily the up-and-coming 26-year old wunderkind E. F. Benson is on hand to drive away any clouds of gloom that might consider showing themselves to attend on our moribund middle-aged friend:
[...] I do not fear, but I look forward to this change that will soon happen to me, with the intensest longing and wonder. What will it be? I wish I could come back and tell you. [...] it is worth while, I think, to be brave.Appalling. For my final verdict on this irritating little book, go to Six Common Things.
It's available online here.
The final story [of Six Common Things], The Death Warrant, is an extraordinary little account of how the narrator, discovering that he is going to die of cancer, faces death and the thought of what might come after, with resignation and courage. It might have been written by a very old man [rather than] a young one on the threshold of life.
~Geoffrey Palmer and Noel Lloyd in E. F. Benson As He Was, 1988