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A Wreath for Rivera
Ngaio Marsh
Excel 2013 Bible (Bible (Wiley))
John Walkenbach

The Alteration

The Alteration - Kingsley Amis A young boy Hubert has got a very brilliant voice. His father, mother and brothers are very proud of him. Certainly they wish cloudless future for him. An Abbot in one of the churches in England heard him singing many times. His voice captivated him. He thought up a nice plan. And here who said that radical religious monks are complete illogical folks? So the Abbot proposed a deal to the Hubert’s family.

Hubert was to be altered to serve for “the will of God” as a singer in the Abbot’s church. What’s the alteration here? You may ask. Simply, it’s just castration or becoming a eunuch. He was to be childless and without family of course. But in spite of it the same-self Abbot promised the boy wealthy future within borders of the church and Vatican’s dominion which included almost all the western Europe. Some political talks among monks appear in the book. You see they do wish, they want badly to settle their Catholic capital in Constantinople, now Istanbul.

Well, Hubert’s father is all for it. He wants his son to be altered for the sake of Christianity and for his future. He’s very pious person. But Mother thinks it’s appalling to cut her son’s testicles for preservation his beautiful voice for the needs of Abbot’s Church. Being a quite beddable woman, she, with her secret lover, Father Lyall wants to protect Hubert. Father Lyall didn’t sign a document allowing a surgeon to perform operation on the boy.

Ubiquitous Pope hears about the boy too. He‘s got his own ideas concerning the boy. Hubert must sing for Vatican choir. He invites Hubert and his family to Rome. He promises the boy such possibilities Huber would never have dreamed of. Still, he would have undergone castration that surely Hubert doesn’t want.

So what can he do? He has no right and power to act against “God’s will” and Church and Pope. There’s only one thing he can do. He wants to run from the Europe altogether. He heads for the New England (the USA) but an incidental sickness struck him in the half way there. You won’t believe it. The sickness has something to do with his testicles. A medical surgeon strongly advised a removal operation for the boy health was in danger. In the end Hubert had no other option but to join Papal choir.

I think the writer deliberately chose this sad finale. Of course he didn’t want to tell that Pope always gets what he wishes. No. Rather he wanted to arouse pity and compassion among readers towards the victims of any religious dogmatism.