Hector Hugh Munro (December 18, 1870 - November 13, 1916), better known by the pen name Saki, and also frequently as H.H. Munro, was a British writer whose witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories satirized Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story and often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. Influenced by Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, and Kipling, his work influenced A.A. Milne, Noël Coward, and P.G. Wodehouse. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)
Saki was one of the authors presented by my high school English teacher, Ira Handelsman. He had a wonderful method of insuring his students were familiar with the material: he read the stories, aloud, to the class. I vividly recall his presentation of Sredni Vashtar, which, at least in my memory, was as riveting as this performance by Tom Baker:
Ira did not have an English accent, but he had precise diction and a voice perhaps best described in contemporary terms as serious NPR announcer-ish. Even the densest of jocks in the class fell silent as the story continued. At its conclusion, Ira received, if not applause, several grunts of approval.
Thus began my appreciation of H.H. Munro.
And my dislike of ferrets.
A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation.
A woman who takes her husband about with her everywhere is like a cat that goes on playing with a mouse long after she's killed it.
Addresses are given to us to conceal our whereabouts.
All decent people live beyond their incomes; those who aren't respectable live beyond other people's; a few gifted individuals manage to do both.
Children are given to us to discourage our better emotions.
Confront a child, a puppy, and a kitten with a sudden danger; the child will turn instinctively for assistance, the puppy will grovel in abject submission, the kitten will brace its tiny body for a frantic resistance.
Every reformation must have its victims. You can't expect the fatted calf to share the enthusiasm of the angels over the prodigal's return.
He is one of those persons who would be enormously improved by death.
His socks compelled one's attention without losing one's respect.
I always say beauty is only sin deep.
I hate babies. They're so human.
I hate posterity- it's so fond of having the last word.
I love Americans, but not when they try to talk French. What a blessing it is that they never try to talk English.
I think she must have been very strictly brought up, she's so desperately anxious to do the wrong thing correctly.
I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.
In baiting a mouse trap with cheese, always leave room for the mouse.
Never be a pioneer. It's the Early Christian that gets the fattest lion.
People talk vaguely about the innocence of a little child, but they take mighty good care not to let it out of their sight for twenty minutes.
People vote their resentment, not their appreciation. The average man does not vote for anything but against something.
Poverty keeps together more homes than it breaks up.
The fashion just now is a Roman Catholic frame of mind with an Agnostic conscience: you get the mediaeval picturesqueness of the one with the modern conveniences of the other.
The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened.
There is no outlet for demonstrating your feelings towards people whom you simply loathe. That is really the crying need of our modern civilization.
Think how many blameless lives are brightened by the blazing indiscretions of other people.
To be among people who are smothered in furs when one hasn't any oneself makes one want to break most of the Commandments.
To have reached thirty is to have failed in life.
Women and elephants never forget an injury.
You can't expect a boy to be vicious till he's been to a good school.