Dr. Crobe hit the LSD especially hard before getting dragged onto stage, his electrified collar ready to correct any mistakes. And... okay, I thought parts of this were funny. As bad as Hubbard's writing is, he hasn't gotten character actions mixed in with the dialogue yet, so I think this is intentionally bad acting, complete with Crobe repeating the stage instructions.
"Ladies," he said, repeating what the ear speaker told him to, "you are aware that as the chosen inner circle of the enlightened few, your... your social... social position has responsibilities. The society we live in is... is unfortunately a cesspool of unrestrained insanity and monstrous abuses. Lurking, hidden, out of sight... out of sight from common and unenlightened view, the brains of men... seethe with lusts and ferocity unimagined. It frightens me to see the dangers to which this society is exposed and how ill it... it... it handles them. It requires stern measures louder it requires STERN MEASURES!" He took a deep breath and steadied himself with his fingers against the desk top.
"Lean forward. There is a case so monstrous, would you know it, that I do not even describe it to you lean back and stop. You are, after all, gently nurtured ladies and I must not speak of it lest I offend your ears don't go on."
...I mean, it's not hilarious or anything. Could even be a bit overdone.
"No, no," cried Lady Arthrite Stuffy in the front row, well aware of her position as the leader of this select group. "Go on, go on! Do not be afraid to offend our ears."
"Oh, yes, go on!" came others' calls.
"Look as though you need coaxing," said Crobe.
"We don't need coaxing!" cried a woman. "Tell us!"
And I'm tired of it now. But compared to the alternatively tedious and horrifying parts that make up the rest of the story, I'll cherish what little amusement the book gave me.
That is to say, amusement derived from parts the author intended to be amusing. Not the regular Mission Earth brand of amusement.
So Crobe weaves a dark and disturbing tale of something so twisted that even Freud couldn't find words for it, so vile that psychology can only stare in appalled silence rather than diagnose all that's wrong with the patient. A perversion that is "not anal. It is not oral. It is not genital! It is not even latent! Shout a monster."
A demon? A monster? A beast?!
And in come the character witnesses. Meeley walks on stage and tells her horrifying tale of having Gris as a tenant, a man who never had women over, shut the door when he used the bathroom, and ever since he left she hasn't been able to find someone willing to take his room! Shudder in horror. Ske comes up and claims that the terrible deprivations he suffered as Gris' driver seared his soul, while Old Bawtch states that "The murders and crimes of this man, strung end to end, would reach half across the universe." Feign nausea.
The ladies in the audience demand to know who this mysterious mental case is, and an actor dressed like a prison guard comes in, wearing a mask for anonymity, of course. He promises that if this patient "ever was put before a judge, the things he would divulge would shake the government to its very foundations," which is why he hasn't stood trial yet. But at further prompting, he reveals the name of this monster in hu- in Voltarian form: Soltan Gris!
Which means that after a book-long absence, Gris will be dragged back into the story. And there goes any happiness created by this chapter.
Back to Chapter Four