’31 Tales of Terror’ #2: Sredni Vashtar

*Title: Sredni Vashtar by Saki
Date Read: 14 October 2008
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: Ten-year old Conradin befriends a pole-cat ferret that’s hidden in the tool shed. He quickly elevates the ferret to the status of a god. Conradin then repeatedly requests that this ‘god’ exacts revenge on his evil guardian Mrs. De Ropp. The question is – does Sredni Vashtar (the ferret’s godly name) respond to Conradin’s bidding?
Afterthoughts: I love this story! Not so much for any depth of plot (in a story as short as this there can’t be much depth), but for its beautiful language. Lines such as “one of these days Conradin supposed he would succumb to the mastering pressure of wearisome necessary things—such as illnesses and coddling restrictions and drawn-out dulness” and “and from the realm of his imagination she was locked out—an unclean thing”, are just so eloquent. I don’t consider this story to be terrifying by any stretch of the imagination but it’s still a nice inclusion in the 31 Tales of Terror.
Notable Quote: “The Woman indulged in religion once a week at a church near by, and took Conradin with her, but to him the church service was an alien rite in the House of Rimmon. Every Thursday, in the dim and musty silence of the tool-shed, he worshipped with mystic and elaborate ceremonial before the wooden hutch where dwelt Sredni Vashtar, the great ferret.”

Rating: ★★★★½

*Story read as part of the 31 Tales of Terror reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).