Milking Time

Transcriber’s note: This is one of my favourites of my grandfather’s surviving works 🙂

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This text is © the estate of the late David Godfrey Stephenson and is reproduced here with permission. Do not reproduce this text in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the copyright holder.

Milking Time

Did I ever tell you about my job as a time-machine pilot?

It was something I did while I was a student in Paris, to earn a little extra.

The actual piloting wasn’t difficult, just punching in the spatio-temporal co-ordinates, and pushing the button at the right moment. All the figures came out of the giant super-computers of l’Institut des Chrono-peregrinateurs. The real job began at the end of our journey through time. The Directors were determined that no time-traveller from their Institute would be going to have returned from frolicking with the Eloi to discover that the Morlocks would have stolen the time-machine. The pilot was to stay with the machine throughout, and defend it with all the means the Institute put at his disposal.

I was pilot to M. le Professeur Bernard Fraudel, the celebrated historical agronomist, while he did the field work for his seminal monograph on the place of cattle in the development of French agriculture.

Having to stay with the time-machine, I rarely saw the cattle, but the sound of the lowing herd came o’er the lea every time. I was surprised how the noise varied from age to age. At some times it was the traditional “Moo”, at other times a higher-pitched “Me-eu”, and at yet others a deep, resonant “Moeur”.

I mentioned this to the Professor. He replied:

Ah! Oui, mon ami. Autre temps, autre moeurs!”

[Editor-transcriber’s note: *groan* Ehehehe… A classic little feghoot! Though it’s the first one I’ve encountered where the climactic pun isn’t in English…]


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