After dinner, Professor Henry Higgins and Colonel Hugh Pickering moved into Higgins's library for conversation and cigars.
"It's fascinating, Higgins," said Pickering, "the number of women who come to you, all wanting to die in various erotic ways. But you must agree it's surely a tiny, tiny portion of the female population who would ever consider making use of your services."
"On the contrary, dear Colonel," replied Higgins. "Admittedly only a small number are conscious of the desire, but the willingness, the yearning, are present in a much larger number --- I should say even a majority."
Pickering laughed. "Rubbish, Higgins! It's quite easy for you to make statements like that. How would I disprove it? If we were to interview women on the street and ask if they would like to be hanged, or burned at the stake, or roasted alive on a spit in a barbecue pit, and they all recoiled in horror, you'd simply say they had suppressed their desire and were not conscious of it. You may as well tell me all men would unconsciously rather be sea urchins!"
Higgins, chuckling at the image, continued. "No, I'm quite serious, Pickering. I believe I can demonstrate my claim to your satisfaction."
Pickering's eyebrows rose. "Go on."
Higgins waved his cigar. "I will make a wager with you. I will contact an employment agency with a request for a live-in maid... better still, you contact them, Pickering, so you will know I had no hand in the selection of the applicants. We shall interview them together, and at that time we will ask no questions related to possible hidden thanato-erotic desires. I will hire a woman on whom we mutually agree. I will wager with you the sum of one thousand pounds that within one month, she will willingly assist me in a snuff, within two months she will perform one, and within three months she will ask to be snuffed herself in some very colorful way."
"All of those things? She must do all of them, in those amounts of time, or I win the bet?"
Higgins nodded. "Yes, exactly!"
Pickering reached across to shake hands. "Done!"
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