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The Fixed Period

London, Blackwood and Sons, 1882. 2V. Originally published in Blackwood's Magazine, Oct. 1881-March 1882.

On an imaginary island near Australia over which the English had renounced their sovereignty, a government had been established, one of whose leading principles was the doctrine of the “Fixed Period.” This law sought to solve the problem of old age, by “depositing” all inhabitants at the age of sixty-seven in a “college” where they would he comfortably housed until, at some time before their next birthday, there would be euthanasia.

The protagonist of the plan was President Neverbend whose best friend, Gabriel Crasweller, was the first on the list to be “deposited.” As the fatal day drew near, Mr. Crasweller’s enthusiasm for the doctrine decreased, but because of his respect for law and the fervent arguments of its supporters, he was forced to agree. On the road to the college, the carriage was halted by a mob that informed the President that a British man-of-war, bearing a pressing invitation to the new state to resume its allegiance, was in the harbor with a heavy gun trained on the capital. The citizens, already roused to rebellion against the Fixed Period law, admitted the cogency of the big gun, and without hesitation accepted the new British Governor. President Neverbend returned to England, and the vexatious law was soon repealed.