Wednesday, February 3, 2010


George Eliot: Middlemarch

"'I suppose it would be unprofessional,' said Rosamond, dimpling."


“So, What do you do next?”

Rosamond was in a pickle. She had neglected her homework, and now she had no idea of the correct answer.

“I cut out his hart?” She ventured uncertainly.

“No, no, no! Can you tell me why not?” Professor Gorehart’s voice boomed over the class.

“I suppose it would be unprofessional,” said Rosamond, dimpling.

Dimpling was Rosamond’s secret weapon, but unfortunately for her, it didn’t work on Professor Gorehart, who looked down at her disappointedly.

“Because you don’t cut out the hearts of tax evaders!”

Professor Gorehart had been teaching at the Swinegart’s School of Deadly Deeds for thirty-five years, and had never had a student as hopeless as Rosamond. The only reason she was at the school at all was her illustrious family; she came from a long line of assassins, every one of whom graduated from Swinegart’s. Her great-great-great grandmother, Rosalin was the one who dispatched the emperor of Volg. Of course, the official ruling of the inquest was accidental death, and nobody had contested that His Highness fortuitously fell on his own dagger seven times. Rosalin was known as ‘Rosalin Of The Seven Daggers’ thereafter.

Of course, Professor Gorehart didn’t say any of that out loud, but it was written in her eyes for Rosamond to see. What she did say was:

“Who can tell me what subjects are suitable to have their hearts removed?”

At the back of the class Winston was raising his hand with such enthusiasm that he almost fell out of his desk. Winston was one of the first boys admitted into Sweingart’s, and he was very eager to prove himself. Professor Gorehart ignored him.

“By next week’s class I want you all to write a five page essay about the proper occasions for removal of heart, kidney, part of liver, testicles, and little finger, illustrated with appropriate historical examples. Class dismissed!”

Rosamond felt disheartened. Now, on top of failing Daggers, Rapiers and Other Sharp Objects, her classmates were cross at her too. Dimples (and batting of eyelashes) got her through Poisons, Blunt Objects, and even Ropes and Other Implements of Strangulation, but Professor Gorehart was an old crow, impervious to her charms.

With a sigh she picked up her books and headed off to her next class: Miscellanea. It was her favorite class, taught by the dreamy Professor Fairwright. Other students made fun of Professor Fairwright, took her class only for an easy credit. Most of the pupils in Miscellanea were boys, taking it as an elective instead of Explosives. The general consensus among the students – and the staff as well – was that Professor Fairwright was a bit light in the head, and her class was a complete waste of time.

Rosamond, on the other hand, found Professor Fairwright’s somewhat disjointed lectures of spontaneous combustion, accidental dismemberment, freak accidents with toasters, and so on, most inspiring.

These were the early days of the most unconventional assassin of her time, and all recorded history: ‘Rosamond of the Dimples’.