They used to steal bodies. The resurrectionists. Come in the dead of night with dark lanterns and dig up the grave, sell the dead to the surgeons, six shillings for the first foot and then ninepence per inch. Some of them would get twenty guineas for a corpse – that's more than a weaver like my dad earned in a year.
The grave robbers liked a big, muscular man better, and a freak best of all. My dad was a watcher, and guarded the bodies the nights after a burial. Just until the body was… well, no use to a medical school anymore. One night the watchers caught a gang. Big, dangerous men with cudgels and pickaxes. One of them hit my dad and he fell. He died two nights later, and his last words were 'keep me safe'. My uncle the blacksmith created a cage of rods and plates and padlocks to keep away the resurrectionists. My uncle's mortsafe kept our dead unharmed until the robbing stopped.
Writing short fiction, monologues and plays