Although best known for the dystopian novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley also wrote some interesting short stories.
“Happily Ever After”
Jacobsen travels from Chicago to Wiltshire, in England, in the fourth year of the war to see his old tutor, Alfred Petherton. The old man is delighted to see Jacobsen and flattered that he’s come. Rather than having genuine affection for people, Jacobsen seems more amused by their mediocrity. Eventually, they get news that the fiancé of Petherton’s daughter will be visiting on his leave, as well as another young friend of his.
This story can be read in the preview of Collected Short Stories. (Paperback preview first, then select Kindle sample)
“The Gioconda Smile”
Mr. Hutton visits Janet Spence, an unmarried woman. He’s flirty and invites her to come to his home the next day for lunch. His wife, Emily, is ill and the visit would be good for both of them. When he returns to his car, he’s warmly welcomed back by Doris, his mistress. Mr. Hutton spends some time with her and then returns home to his wife.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of Mortal Coils.
“Eupompus Gave Splendour to Art by Numbers”
Emberlin is an academic, an encyclopedia of irrelevant information. While researching an obscure quotation, he becomes fixated on numbers and counting to the exclusion of everything else.
A young English couple rent a house in Italy because it has a great view, and a local peasant boy, Guido, makes an excellent playmate for their own son. Guido is a gifted child, with an affinity for music, and a natural understanding of mathematics. The landlady wants to adopt Guido to mold him and make money from his talents.
The narrator comes across a bookshop where he doesn’t think there’d be much demand for books. He talks to the owner about the public’s taste and looks around. The owner shows him a book of music and starts playing a selection from it on an old piano.
Hercules is born very small and his growth is slow. His parents seek a cure but nothing helps. His adult height is 3 feet 2 inches. His parents die early, and at twenty-one, Hercules inherits a considerable fortune and estate. Feeling uncomfortable in the presence of full-grown people, Hercules decides to retire from public life and remodel his estate to suit his size. He replaces the large dogs his father had with small ones and finds servants of small stature to tend the household.