The Maharajah and Other Stories

By T. H. White


(1981) A collection of short stories selected and with an introduction by Kurth Sprague.

Here for the pleasure of young and old alike is a special collection of enchantments from the author of The Once and Future King. T. H. White once again works his incomparable wizardry in these sixteen stories — some never before published — and the result is a hypnotizing concoction of the fantastic, the fabulous and the frightening!

Only the acknowledged master of magic could create a totally rational universe in which werewolves seduce the living into chases to the death, in which clergymen organists in a remote country church serenade the dead in nocturnal concerts, in which cannibal trolls reside in hotel rooms and the god Pan conducts tours for boys of the natural wonders around them, and in which noblemen become spaniels and imaginary brats drive their would-be parents to bestial acts of destruction.

Ranging from the fourteenth century to the present, from the lush and lethal palaces of evil maharajahs to the verdant English countryside where mythical creatures dance circles around stuffy aristocrats, from the sunny sorcery of love to the dark and violent powers of hate — here is enthralling fantasy as only T. H. White can conjure it. The Maharajah and Other Stories will cast its spell over every reader and convince us of the presence of magic in all our lives.

copied from the dust jacket


Contents

"The Maharajah"
The Maharajah summons Dr. Arbuthnot to look after the pregnant Maharani. The physician finds out that the Maharajah is poisoning the Maharani so he can take a younger wife. Dr. Arbuthnot manages to nurse the Maharani through her pregnancy, but later learns that both she and her son have died.

"A Sharp Attack of Something or Other"
A story about a man who goes mad because he thinks his head is shrinking. In reality a business partner is changing his hat to drive him mad, so he can date his wife.

"The Spaniel Earl"
When he witnesses the slaughter of a pig at the age of six an ancestor of the narrator goes mad and believes himself a spaniel henceforth. His father raises him as befits an earl, and in due course he becomes the second Earl under the protection of the king although he is still acting like a spaniel. This is a fine story which might not have the sophistication and detail of Kafka's Die Verwandlung but stands out as a stylistic masterpiece which easily compares with similar works by Saki. The story is first told by the countess in Gone To Ground.

"Success or Failure"

"Nostradamus"

"No Gratuities"

"The Troll"
An amateur fisherman arrives late at a Lapland hotel and falls into an uneasy sleep. He wakes up to find a giant troll in the adjoining room devouring a woman. Next day he learns that a professor and his wife are staying in the room next to him, and that the wife disappeared during the night. The professor is really a troll, but nobody else can see that. This is a very effective story which lets us feel the helpless terror of the fisherman who is threatened by a troll only he can see. This is one of the stories originally told by Mr.Marx in Gone To Ground.

"The Man"
(Click to read the complete story.)

"The Black Rabbit"
A young boy sees a black rabbit that turns into the god Pan. They have a long talk about hunting and the nature of man, before the god takes leave. Told by the professor in Gone To Ground.

"Kin to Love"
Previously unpublished story about a prison governor and the parallels between executions and sex.

"Soft Voices at Passenham"
This classic ghost story in the style of M.R. James is probably the story by White which is most often anthologized. It tells of the vicar of Passenham who on a cold January night stays alone in the church to play some hymns before settling down for the night. But the visitor at the vicarage waits in vain and hears him playing all through the night, a mad medley of songs. The atmosphere in this story is quite subtle. We never meet the ghosts (in this respect White is even more restrained than James). Only the tale of the sexton about how music attracts ghosts conjures up the image of the vicar in the cold and dark church playing a concert for the dead.

"The Point of Thirty Miles"
White at his best vividly describing a long hunt with a twist, when in the end it turns out that the wolf hunted was actually a werewolf. First told in Gone To Ground.

"A Rosy Future, Anonymous"
A young girl daydreams about her future while on a flight to London. The plane crashes.

"Not Until Tomorrow"

"The Philistine Cursed David by His Gods"
A small man is obsessed with proving his greatness to the world. This is a story about the early nineteenth century and in the style of The Age of Scandal, The Scandalmonger and Farewell Victoria it includes much historical detail about hunting, wagers and duels. It first appears in Gone To Ground.

"A Link with Petulengro"
A young girl feeds gypsies who are camping on her estate. In the end we find out that the young girl is Queen Victoria. Note the parallel to the ending of The Sword in the Stone.

England Have My Bones: For the Reader of the Works of T. H. White
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Unless otherwise noted, entire contents 1996, J. Moulder and M. Schaefer. All rights reserved.
Revised Saturday, 28-Sep-2002 22:12:28 CDT.