Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Cat

Fiction ~ short story
First published in Illustrated London News, 27th November 1905
Collected in The Room in the Tower (1912)
5,510 words
(First read 14/06/2012) 

More a psychopathological mystery than a spook story ~ in fact there aren't any spooks at all in it.  Jack Dick Alington Alingham, a portrait-painting toff, is on the rebound from Lady 'Society Hag' Madingley, who jilted him for someone with more dosh, as Bensonian society hags have a habit of doing.  Nevertheless, observes his doctor pal Merwick, he's made a miraculous recovery from the trauma ~ to hear them talk you'd think Dick had witnessed the machete-massacre of his entire family rather than merely being dumped by a worthless cow.  Anyway, Dr Merwick reckons he's in a (kind of) physiopsychiatrical state of shock (or something) and is bound to come a cropper sooner or later.  Confident that he's fully and permanently recovered, our Dick agrees to complete a portrait of the said witch; everything's going fine until ... a cat appears ...
This one has to be read to be believed: apart from 'the shock thing', which probably wasn't new even in 1905, it's entirely devoid of sensible, coherent or even interesting ideas; the 'climax' is laughable; the pace is sluglike, and it is absurdly over-long.
Well, you may think differently: it's available online here.

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