Published in Six Common Things, November 1893
Approx. 2,200 words
(First read 23/10/2014)
The totem of the title is a figure from the toy Noah's Ark set belonging to our Unnamed Narrator's son. The story recounts this battered and unprepossessing figurine's 'adventures' at the hands of the little boy and his daddy ~ a certain perhaps-unhealthy amount of interior design is involved in their games but we won't go into that. It's a charming and amusing wee tale, told in EFB's best "This story is for clever and good children and adults" style.
The only thing we're left wondering is: Are the narrator and child ('Jack') of this story the same as the narrator and deceased child ('Jack') of A Winter Morning in this same collection? If so, why can't the author, or at least the narrator, tell us this? If not, was Benson really so careless as not to notice the sameness of the names? The only clue we have that these characters might be the same people is this mind-blowingly cryptic final sentence/paragraph [the place = 'the place where we built a house for the totem']:
I often pass the place, seldom without thinking of Totem, and other things.I've read this sentence 23 times and have no idea what it means ~ does it even make grammatical sense?
Anyway, it's available online here.