About the Author
It was Ronald Knox, who, as a pioneer of Golden Age detective fiction, codified the rules of the genre in his 'Ten Commandments of Detection', which stipulated, among other rules, that 'No Chinaman must figure in the story', and 'Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable'. He was a Sherlock Holmes aficionado, writing a satirical essay that was read by Arthur Conan Doyle himself, and is credited with creating the notion of 'Sherlockian studies', which treats Sherlock Holmes as a real-life character. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Knox was ordained as priest in the Church of England but later entered the Roman Catholic Church. He completed the first Roman Catholic translation of the Bible into English for more than 350 years, and wrote detective stories in order to supplement the modest stipend of his Oxford Chaplaincy.
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Chapter 1. The Euthanasia Policy
In a sense, though, insurance was but an empirical science until the Indescribable Company made its appearance. The man who is insured with the Indescribable walks the world in armour of proof; those contrary accidents and mortifications which are a source of spiritual profit to the saint, are a source of material advantage to him. No East wind but flatters him with the prospect of a lucrative cold; no dropped banana-skin but may suddenly hurl him into affluence. The chicken-farmer whose henhouses are fitted with the Company's patent automatic egg-register can never make a failure of his business. The egg is no sooner laid than it falls gently through a slot, which marks...