The Easter Egg by Saki

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I was looking around for some “Easter-type” short stories to read for this weekend and found one on line, H.H. Munro’s (a.k.a. Saki) “The Easter Egg” that I thought would fit the bill. I was actually looking more for stories in the “spirit” of Easter than this one turned out to be, but I’m glad I read it nonetheless…

Madame Barbara is ashamed of her son, Lester, who has proven time and time again that, unlike the “good fighting stock” of the family which he was born into, he has all the worst qualities of a coward. Saki describes Lester and his shortcomings wonderfully:

“As a child he had suffered from childish timidity, as a boy from unboyish funk, and as a youth he had exchanged unreasoning fears for others which were more formidable from the fact of having a carefully-thought-out basis. He was frankly afraid of animals, nervous with firearms, and never crossed the Channel without mentally comparing the numerical proportion of life belts to passengers. On horseback he seemed to require as many hands as a Hindu god, at least four for clutching the reins, and two more for patting the horse soothingly on the neck.”

If the hapless Lester were not offered some chance to redeem himself for his life of craven timidity, this wouldn’t be a short story worthy of Saki, though, would it? The opportunity presents itself when he and his mother travel to Knobaltheim “…one of those small princedoms that make inconspicuous freckles on the map of Central Europe.” It seems the Prince, a steadfast representative of the old guard of Europe and opposed to “progress” is coming to town for some grand affair. Among the gifts for this dignitary is the Easter Egg in the title of the story. But something seems not quite right about this and Lester is the first to notice…

I’ll leave the details for those industrious enough to read the story. I was particularly fond of the last lines of this story, which are quite good and almost goose-bump inducing. A very short story and worth a read.

The story may be read at http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/EasEgg.shtml

Or listen via YouTube at http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wc6EUa7Mra4

I own a copy of Saki’s collected stories, pictured above, but rather than dig it out, I read this one on line at the link provided above.

(below: Illustration from Oscar Wilde’s “The Selfish Giant”)

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Two other short stories I like to read around Easter are Oscar Wilde’s “The Selfish Giant”  and Leo Tolstoy’s “The Three Hermits” (which I also once blogged about here). Both are quite good and are appropriate for the season, I think.

Have you read any of these stories? What do you think of Saki’s works? Do you do any special reading around this holiday?

(Below: gratuitous picture of my Mom’s Easter Egg tree.  Did anyone else grow up with an easter egg tree in the house each year?)

 

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8 Comments

  1. Dale said,

    April 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Jay, this sounds like an interesting story. I’ve read Recessional and I think I’ve read The Interlopers ( a very long time ago) by Saki. I’m pretty sure The Interlopers will make it to my DMI 2015 list. I like the cover of your collection and the Easter Egg tree is awesome!
    -Dale

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      I remember when I tried to read from this collection years ago it didn’t quite grab me. This story, however, has made me want to revisit it.

      Like

  2. Paula Cappa said,

    April 19, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I’ve read almost nothing of Saki. This looks like a good one to begin with.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      It was good. Kind of in your wheelhouse too, maybe.

      Like

  3. April 20, 2014 at 9:44 am

    I should put Saki in my short story deck for the next Deal Me In challenge round. I only know The Open Window, That’s his right.

    The egg tree is wonderful. I’ve never seen one in real life.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      I’m not sure about The Open Window. I think I will have to dig out my copy of his collected stories now – and while I have it out, pick a couple for next year’s DMI.

      The egg tree has some eggs on it that are more than 50 years old. It was a weird mix since some were done by us kids (and look like they were done by kids) and others were done by my mom, who is very artistic and detail oriented.

      Like

  4. April 25, 2014 at 5:03 am

    We don’t have an egg tree, but it’s a tradition I’d love to start with my kids. Thanks for the link to the Saki story, will definitely check that out.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      April 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Cathy. I hope you do check out the story; its a pretty quick reed and not too long. I was never too good at making the eggs, but as an adult I’ve gotten good at admiring them. 🙂

      Like


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