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Sredni Vashtar

Publication Date: July 18, 2010

Chapter: Random Literature

Welcome to the twentieth century, though just barely. Here in the future, people wear fancy clothes and keep psychotic ferrets locked up in their sheds. This is the first of our journeys outside the Norton Anthology, thanks to the fine folks who have generously donated to produce extra comics.

The tale at hand, "Sredni Vashtar" is quite short but rather brilliant. It's the story of a young boy with no friends save a rooster and his pet ferret. He lives under the iron fist his cousin, though her iron fistedness is somewhat debatable since the entire story is told from the point of view of the child. In any event, he's not a huge fan this fine English lass. After deciding that God was a wussy, the kid starts worshiping the ferret in secret, imagining him to be the sort of vengeful and sadistic deity that got more play in the Old Testament than the New.

Shortly thereafter, he starts to pray that his new god, Srendi Vashtar, will do... something. It's implied, though never explicitly stated, that this "something" is to whack his cousin. A few days after the prayers have begun, the cousin ventures forth of her own accord into the shed with the ferret and... well... yeah. There's your comic.

The genius in this story lies in the fact that what I drew in the comic is never actually seen. The boy watches the woman enter the shed and just waits in suspense. As he waits, he begins to doubt the power of his beloved ferret, as does the reader. It seems clear that the woman will shortly walk out and crush the boy's dreams. However, we soon see the ferret saunter out of the shed, with dark wet stains on his fur and around his mouth. Said ferret then casually slips off into the bushes, never to be seen again. But that's not the brilliant part.

The brilliant part is the last line of the story. While the servants are going batshit over the ferret-related homicide, Saki simply writes, "And while they debated the matter among themselves, Coradin made himself another piece of toast." And that's it, end of story. As you've probably gathered, I love it.

This was the first time I've ever read the story and I'm head-over-heels, so a big thank you goes out to the wonderful contributor who gave me ten bucks and made me read it. Tomorrow we'll return to the fourteenth century, but rest assured that there'll be more off-topic fun in the weekends to come.

Author: Saki • Year: 1911 • Info: Project Gutenberg

#TheTwentiethCentury   #SredniVashtar   #English  

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