Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review: Shredni Vashtar and The Open Window

The Short Stories of Saki:
by Saki
Modern Library (1977), Hardcover

Sredni Vashtar is a short story written between 1900 and 1914 by Saki (Hector Hugh Munro).

This story is collected in this volume and also in an audiobook: Classic Chiiling Tales.

A 10-year-old boy called Conradin lives with his guardian Mrs. De Ropp. Conradin’s is very hard because of his guardian, so he invents a new religion for himself. The idol of this religion is a palecat-ferret. Conradin named it Sredni Vashtar.

‘Do one thing for me, Sredni Vashtar.’: this is the Conradin’s prayer and the idol obeys to him.

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The Open Window was collected with other short stories in 1914.

A girl of fifteen tells to a visitor about her weird family.

Girl: ‘Out through that window, three years ago to a day, her (= girl’s aunt) husband and her two young brothers went off for their day’s shooting.
They never came back.’ (p.289)

Girl: - Here they are at last (she cried)

- In the deepening twilight three figures were walking across the lawn towards the window. … A tired brown spaniel kept close at their heels.

The ghost: - Who was that who bolted out as we came up?

The aunt: - A most extraordinary man … and dashed off without a word of good-bye …
One would think he had seen a ghost.

The girl: - I expect it was the spaniel.
He was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere … by a pack of pariah dogs. (p.291)

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