Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Recollection of Saki

In the Spring edition of Slightly Foxed, Rohan Candappa has an article Not Getting on with Aunts, recollecting the works of Saki. I have a collection of Saki's short stories that has been sitting on the shelf for years unread. This passage in the article prompts me to reach it down.

In 'Reginald on House Parties' our man about town reluctantly finds himself on a weekend shooting party in Dorsetshire: 'There's such a deadly sameness about partridges; when you've missed one you've missed the lot.' His hosts, unwisely, rib him about his inability to hit a bird at five yards - 'a sort of bovine ragging that suggested cows buzzing round a gadfly and thinking they were teasing it'.

By way of response, the next morning Reginald gets up early and hunts down the most conspicuous thing in the bird line that he can find. He measures five yards. He starts shooting. Then he gets the gardener's boy to drag the corpse into the hall where everyone will see it on their way in to breakfast.

His hosts are not impressed. The peacock was a pet. 'They said afterwards that it was a tame bird; that's simply silly, because it was awfully wild at the first few shots.'

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