Sir Charles Barlow Is Interested Only In Your Dowry

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Vol 41 Issue 16

Losing-Powerball-Numbers Announcement Enters 17th Hour

URBANDALE, IA—The announcement of losing Powerball numbers for Saturday's $83,000,000 jackpot entered its 17th hour Sunday. "3, 15, 17, 35, 47, and Powerball 23," said Powerball host Bill Somerford, reading from his 237-page list of losing combinations. "7, 23, 40, 46, 52, and Powerball 24. 9, 13, 27, 40, 53, and Powerball 14. 12, 15, 18, 27, 52, and Powerball 26. 1, 11, 35, 46, 53, and Powerball 36." The losing numbers will be continue to be broadcast until 10:59 EST Wednesday, after which the losing-numbers announcement for the next drawing will begin.

Study: 80 Percent Of All Hermits Recovering From Broken Hearts

AMHERST, MA—According to conclusions reached by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, four-fifths of the world's dedicated recluse population were once luckless in love. "We have conclusively linked heartsickness to the behavior of dwelling in remote mountaintop caves, in bramble-covered forest huts, and on nameless unmapped islands," professor of solitary psychology Ludwig Meyer said Monday. "The loss of a lifetime's one true love seems to be enough to drive some people into splendid isolation in arctic regions and trackless jungle wilds." The study noted that the remaining 20 percent of hermits were driven from human contact by the desire to run naked around the woods, urinating though their knee-length beards.

Another Comedian Ruined By Parenthood

AUSTIN, TX—Ed Corgi, once hailed as one of the area's funniest and most ribald stand-up comedians, has lapsed into mediocrity due to the 2003 birth of his daughter Grace, a friend reported. "Ed used to get up there and just spit venom against the entire world until the crowd was dying," fellow comic Rick Haste said. "Last week, I saw him do a bit about grape juice and another about how hard it is to get a stroller in a car trunk. He did swear a lot as he pantomimed folding the stroller, but still." Corgi's new sitcom Grape Juice is currently in development at ABC.

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Aw, Who'm I Kidding... I'll Never Top 21 Jump Street

It's only natural for artists to compare the creative purity of their early work to the compromised work of their later careers. I'm no exception. As I sit here in my chateau in France, absent-mindedly flipping through the script for The Diving Bell And The Butterfly by Oscar-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood, I think of the man I used to be, and my heart sinks. I know I shouldn't let thoughts of the past get me down. Rather, I should overcome my insecurities and remind myself that there could be an even bigger success around the corner. Why, you never know what you can achieve if you just believe in yourself and... Aw, hell. Who'm I kidding here? I'll never top 21 Jump Street and I know it.

New Tech-Support Caste Arises In India

NEW DELHI—Thanks to widespread outsourcing of telephone-service jobs, a sixth caste has blossomed in India: the Khidakayas, a mid-level jati made up of technical-support workers. "I am happy to be a Khidakaya," said technical-support agent Ranji Prasat, who speaks English with a flawless American accent and goes by the name "Ron" at work. "While we rank below members of the reigning order, those of us responsible for helping Americans track their online purchases and change their account PINs share many privileges not enjoyed by the merchant class below us." Prasat said he expects to marry another tech-support worker.

Are Tasers Safe?

Most security personnel defend the use of Tasers, but Amnesty International said that there have been more than 100 Taser-related deaths since 2001. What do you think?
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Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

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Sir Charles Barlow Is Interested Only In Your Dowry

Lydia! Lydia! Pray forgive this unannounced visit to Twelveswood, but I felt you must know straight away. I cut short my stay in London to deliver some unfortunate news. Our hostess Mrs. Heggarty was kind enough to lend me use of her coach and... Oh, no, no, Edgar is well, thank Heaven, as is little Ivor. It's about Sir Charles, the man to whom you are affianced. No, he lives still, although if there were ever a body upon which I wished every earthly evil to be visited, it is his.

No, Lydia, if only it were callow envy that motivated these harsh sentiments; would that it were mere pangs of jealousy that caused my brow to knit so! Alas, the source of my vexation is far more woeful, my dear girl, for Sir Charles Barlow is interested only in your dowry.

I do not begrudge you your flushed cheeks and heated words, Lydia. You may think that I, your more fortune-favored older sister, am betraying a desire to thwart your happiness, and I am the first to admit that, should you wish to form such a conclusion, you would have a lifetime of experience on which to found it. But I testify to what I have witnessed firsthand, and although the revulsion that resulted was deep enough to prompt my initial hesitation to disclose the truth, I swiftly concluded that I would not be a good sister and friend if I were to spare you from it. Dear Lydia, if I may be permitted, your Sir Charles—and I wield the possessive with Roman irony—is nothing more than a base cad and a scoundrel!

No, Lydia, Sir Charles is not wintering at Barlow Manor as he would have you believe; he has been in London, leading a life of rank dissipation. He too was a guest at Mrs. Heggarty's ball, and the scandalous conduct he exhibited there would appall all but the most hardened. He injudiciously exposed numerous young ladies to his depraved temperament—I say injudiciously because he remains unaware that I am your sister, knowing me only as Mrs. Edgar Walpole.

Sweet Lydia, I strongly advise that you sit down. Molly, some sherry, please, and ensure that the smelling-salts are within easy reach. Don't just stand there gaping, girl, make haste!

When Sir Charles arrived, Lydia, he was accompanied by a shocking entourage of assorted reprobates, including a fire-eater, a mulatto fortune-teller, a chimney-sweep, a village idiot, a cardinal, several snuff-addicts, and a mischievous Barbary ape who broke into the larder and tossed fistfuls of flour hither and thither. Worse still, Sir Charles had the temerity to wear a most immodest silken waistcoat of stripes of alternating chartreuse and scarlet. Lady Coldridge's poor eyes could not cope with the clash of hues, and she was forced to retire to her chambers with a sick headache, from which she is not expected to recover. In addition, Sir Charles tracked in a great deal of mud.

Yes, my poor girl, that Sir Charles, the timid, bookish beloved of whom you have written to me so fondly. The sherry has arrived, Lydia; take a good draught, now. Molly, a hot compress, please.

Leagues from the pastoral Eden that is Barlow Manor, Sir Charles passed the evening in a louche humor, his head wreathed in a pipe-smoke whose odor was most queer in its sickly-sweetness, and his carriage upon a settee in a most lascivious state—nearly supine. He did not seem to know or care that many of the ladies present had never before witnessed a gentleman with his feet lifted from the floor. Their chaperones did what they could to shield them from the outrage, but for most it was too late. I fear that their exposure to this singular display of ill manners may arrest their social ascendancy.

You are well-justified, Lydia, in asking what all this, defamatory though it may be, has to do with my original contention. Your defense of his actions as "harmless high spirits" is to be expected from a young lady blinded by love. Yet, I regret to say that my report of Sir Charles' contempt and infidelity comes directly from the rogue himself.

Before assembled company, Sir Charles freely and blithely admitted that his inheritance is near depletion, after several foolhardy wagers on bear-baitings, whist games, darts, and the like proved farcically disastrous. To enact further levies against his tenants would most assuredly result in mass riot, so to forestall total ruin, he decided to seek not his own fortune, but the fortunes of unbetrothed rural maidens. Noting that Sir Charles' remark left me aghast, Mrs. Heggarty, a quick wit, inquired of Sir Charles one of his marital prospects, a Miss Lydia Covington, who, of course, is yourself.

"Miss Lydia Covington? That provincial mouse—that unopened crocus?" Sir Charles chortled. "Her prospects for marriage are abundant, yes, the ardor of each of her suitors proportional to her worth in pounds sterling. For if she, and all five Covington sisters for that matter, were deprived of the generous bequeathal from their late uncle, Twelveswood would be forced to take in washing and serve as an asylum for a clan of pinch-faced, concave-bosomed spinsters receiving alms at the parish's pleasure!"

Well, upon hearing Sir Charles' intolerable words, Edgar arose to thrash the scoundrel, but I urged him not to betray our identity. I secured the coach from Mrs. Heggarty, bless her, and returned to Twelveswood as quickly as I could...

Lydia! She's swooning! Catch her, Molly, and help me get her to the four-poster. Change her into her nightgown, and have Timothy fetch Doctor Curtis. And where is that hot compress? Perhaps I have told my poor sister too much. Should she succumb, I shall blame myself, but better she perish from shock than disgrace!

Lydia, dear, please try to rally, for all is not lost. Sir Charles is a despicable fiend, but there are others far more deserving of your hand. There is Alfred, the shy divinity student lodging with Reverend and Mrs. Baxter, and our cousin Joseph, and of course, Mr. Pratt, the widowed pig farmer who is 30 years your senior but quite prosperous. I have it on good faith that none of these men ever smokes, wagers, wears gaudy waistcoats, muddies the carpet, or assumes a horizontal position. Yes, Lydia, it is a rueful way to spend one's life, fretting about marriage and money. One day, perhaps, we women will enjoy a more independent status and will no longer be so preoccupied with marrying well, or marrying at all. But that will not occur for another two centuries or so. Oh! What am I saying? It will take far more time than that.

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