Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Ape

Fiction ~ short story
First published in The Storyteller, May 1917
Collected  in The Countess of Lowndes Square and Other Stories, 1920
Approx 6,400 words
(First read 13/04/2014)

We're firmly on Image in the Sand territory with this tale of the supernatural.  The action takes place in Luxor/Karnak in Egypt; it's the everyday tale of a rich young gent (Hugh: no relation) who acquires a whatchacallit ... a talisman, in the shape of a monkey, which, so we're told, the owner merely has to say the name of three times, while carefully clicking together the heels of his ruby slippers*, in order to become 'lord of all apes'.  This poor sap has the misfortune to be in love with Benson Bitch Type No. 1, a posh young lady "whose mission in life appeared to be to make as miserable as possible the largest possible number of young men."  Having arranged to go and gawp at Karnak by moonlight with Hugh, she throws him over at the last minute for the newly-arrived man she really intends to marry.  She even has the brass neck to ask our Hughie if she and her marital victim can borrow his horses to make the same excursion!  At this our hapless hero feels himself to be 'one shaking black jelly of wounded anger'.  (I rather like that.)  In despair (presumably) he asks the heartless hag to marry him; she fobs him off; he lends the pair his geegees but decides to follow them to Karnak in secret.  Coming across them snogging in one of the temples there he does the incantation thing, summoning a zillion apes which are entirely in his power, it's all (for once) fairly exciting, and then ... Benson bottles it.
A crushingly disappointing tale.  It's available online here.

*Okay, I invented this bit.

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