Saki (H. H. Munro) is considered a master of the short story, known for his clever lines and twist endings. His stories contain more witticisms than those of any other short story writer that I’ve read.
If you like Saki, you can get all of his short stories and more in Complete Works of Saki.
Here is a collection of Saki stories, both famous and lesser known, with summaries. I’ve included links and an approximate word count where possible.
Saki Short Stories
Adrian | 1,345 words
Lucas treats his poor friend Adrian to a meal at an expensive restaurant. Mrs. Mebberley, Lucas’s aunt, asks about the young man. He doesn’t reveal Adrian’s true social status. She decides she should look after him for a while.
The Background | 1,200 words
Henry Depli, a commercial traveler, receives a modest inheritance from a distant relative. He commissions a local artist for a tattoo, but when it comes time to make payment he finds his funds are lacking.
The Bag | 1,740 words
Major Pallaby is the master of a hunting club. Foxes are scarce, so enthusiasm in the club is waning. When a young Russian man returns from his hunt his hostess tries to hide the bag’s contents from the Major.
Bertie’s Christmas Eve | 2,010 words
Luke Steffink has some family over for dinner and merry-making on Christmas Eve. Everyone is enjoying themselves except his nephew, Bertie. One of the guests mentions a legend about farm animals being able to speak on Christmas Eve at midnight. Bertie sees an opportunity.
The Blood-Feud of Toad-Water | 1,270 words
The Cricks and the Saunderses are the only two families for miles. One of the Crick hens gets onto the neighbors property, sparking an outburst.
“And one sunny afternoon in late spring-time the feud came—came, as such things mostly do come, with seeming aimlessness and triviality.”
—The Blood-Feud of Toad Water
A Bread and Butter Miss | 1,710 words
Bertie and Odo are discussing which horse they should bet on in an upcoming race. There is no clear favorite. Sir Lulworth adds to the confusion with an insider tip. When Lola says she dreamt of the race, everyone is attentive.
The Bull | 1,700 words
A farmer, Tom Yorkfield, gets a visit from his half-brother, Laurence, a painter of animals. Tom had recently gone to look at some of Laurence’s work. They aren’t close; they feel some rivalry over their chosen professions.
The Byzantine Omelette | 1,550 words
Sophie Chattel-Monkheim is a wealthy Socialist. While she disapproves of social distinctions, she’s still pleased that the Duke of Syria will be a guest at her house this evening. She wants everything to be perfect. The centerpiece of the dinner is to serve the Duke one of his favorite dishes—a byzantine omelette. A problem arises with the staff.
Clovis on Parental Responsibilities | 1,035 words
Marion tells Clovis about her children. She believes he would especially like little Eric. Clovis disagrees and makes the conversation difficult.
The Easter Egg | 1,445 words
Lady Barbara is in Knobaltheim for Eastertide. The Prince of said township will be making a public appearance. As a woman of note, Lady Barbara is consulted about how to make the event worthy of the distinguished guest. An acquaintance suggests dressing up her child as an Easter angel and having him present the Prince with a large decorative egg.
Read “The Easter Egg”
Esme | 1,710 words
In the countryside, a baroness and her friend go on a hunting trip. The dogs run ahead and surround a hyena. It’s very friendly to the two women. It also wants a snack.
This is the first story in the preview of The Chronicles of Clovis.
Filboid Studge, the Story of a Mouse that Helped | 1,040 words
An artist wants to marry the daughter of a very rich man. The man’s fortunes have recently turned as he stands to lose everything from a failed product launch, a new breakfast cereal. The artist tries to redesign the ad campaign to save the man’s business.
Forewarned | 2,460 words
Alethia has limited interaction with others. Her ideas about life and people were acquired through reading novels. She is going to visit her aunt and cousin. She uses her knowledge from novels to make assumptions about the people she will meet.
Gabriel-Ernest | 2,440 words
Van Cheele receives a warning about a wild beast in the woods. During an afternoon walk through his property, he comes across a teenage boy sunning himself on a rock. They have an unsettling conversation. The boy claims to live in the woods and to hunt at night.
Hermann the Irascible | 980 words
Hermann the Irascible rises to the British throne and makes many changes. His Prime Minister complains that the Suffragette movement is interfering with many government meetings. Hermann devises a plan to solve the problem.
The Hounds of Fate | 2,830 words
Martin Stoner is a weary, hungry man wandering aimlessly. He happens upon a farm-house. Thinking he might buy a drink with his last coin, he approaches the door. Before he can knock, he’s greeted by an old man who addresses him in a surprising way.
“. . . hunger, fatigue, and despairing hopelessness had numbed his brain, and he could scarcely summon sufficient energy to wonder what underlying impulse was driving him onward.”
—The Hounds of Fate
The Interlopers | 2,150 words
Ulrich is out patrolling his forest with a rifle. He’s not hunting the usual game; he wants to catch his neighbor, Georg, poaching on his land. Their families have a long standing feud over the territory, going back to their grandfathers. They hate each other intensely. Ulrich leaves his men on a hill and walks deeper into the growth.
The Jesting of Arlington Stringham | 1,260 words
Arlington Stringham makes a joke in the House of Commons. It gets reported in the papers. His wife doesn’t like; they’ve never made jokes before. Arlington continues making attempts at humorous remarks.
Laura | 1,670 words
Laura is on her deathbed. The doctor says she could make it to Tuesday; this is Saturday. Amanda is concerned but Laura isn’t. She expects to be reincarnated, albeit as a lower form of life due to her misbehavior. Her best guess is an otter.
The Lost Sanjak | 2,235 words
A condemned man tells his story to the prison Chaplain. He claims that a lack of specialization led to his case of mistaken identity. It started when he fell in love with the doctor’s wife. They began a neighborly friendship. When he expressed deeper feelings for her, things went bad.
Read “The Lost Sanjak”
The Lumber Room | 2,200 words
The children, other than Nicholas, are being taken to the beach as a treat. He’s in disgrace for refusing to eat his breakfast. He has to stay home with his aunt. She forbids him from entering the gooseberry garden as well. Nicholas uses her preoccupation with enforcing this rule to do something else.
Read “The Lumber Room”
“It was her habit, whenever one of the children fell from grace, to improvise something of a festival nature from which the offender would be rigorously debarred; if all the children sinned collectively they were suddenly informed of a circus in a neighbouring town, a circus of unrivalled merit and uncounted elephants, to which, but for their depravity, they would have been taken that very day.”
—The Lumber Room
The Mouse | 1,500 words
A man is riding in a train carriage with a woman who is a stranger. He feels a mouse crawling in his pants, and he struggles to remove it in a discreet and dignified way.
Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger | 1,330 words
Mrs. Packletide wants to shoot a tiger to outshine a rival. She plots to do it in an easy way, but something goes awry.
The Music on the Hill | 2,150 words
Sylvia has convinced Mortimer Seltoun to marry her. She takes him away from Town to a remote country house. It’s a wild-looking place. Sylvia is surprised when Mortimer expresses a belief in Pan, ancient Greek God of the wild.
“In its wild open savagery there seemed a stealthy linking of the joy of life with the terror of unseen things.”
—The Music on the Hill
The Open Window | 1,240 words
A man is visiting the country for some relaxation. While waiting to be introduced to all the members of the household, a young girl tells him the story of their tragic family history.
The Philanthropist and the Happy Cat | 1,800 words
Jocantha Bessbury is a comfortable and contented wife. She suspects that only her cat, Attab, is more contented than herself. Wanting to spread good cheer, Jocantha decides to buy theatre tickets and give them away to a shop girl who couldn’t afford them on her own. Meanwhile, the cat goes about its usual routine.
The Quest | 1,635
Clovis’s nap is interrupted with the announcement that the Momeby’s baby has been lost. The villa is in an uproar with everyone searching frantically—except for Clovis. He proposes some unpleasant things that could have happened to the baby. Miss Gilpet, a neighbor, arrives, offering her belief that faith is needed.
Read “The Quest”
Reginald on Besetting Sins | 770 words
A woman gets in the habit of telling the truth—first in small things, eventually in everything. It affects her socially.
The Reticence of Lady Anne | 1,050 words
Egbert enters his drawing-room with some uncertainty. He tries to smooth things over with his wife. They had argued, so he tries to get her talking again, but she’s uncooperative.
The Saint and the Goblin | 980 words
A forgotten stone saint occupies a niche in an out-of-the-way spot in a cathedral. Opposite is a stone goblin of some notoriety. They get along. The saint wants to do something for the church mice, who are very poor. While discussing the matter, a bird drops a silver coin right by the saint. He gets an idea.
The Schwartz-Metterklume Method | 1,800 words
Lady Carlotta is waiting at a train station when she’s approached by Mrs. Quabarl. She presumes Lady Carlotta is Miss Hope, the new governess she’s been expecting. Lady Carlotta goes along with the assumption. They set off for the Quabarl mansion.
‘”You must be Miss Hope, the governess I’ve come to meet,” said the apparition, in a tone that admitted of very little argument.
“Very well, if I must I must,” said Lady Carlotta to herself with dangerous meekness.’
—The Schwartz-Metterklume Method
The She-Wolf | 2,260 words
Leonard Bilsiter claims to have supernatural powers. He talks on the subject to anyone who’ll listen. While at Mary Hampton’s dinner party he speaks very seriously about it. Some of the guests decide to play a trick on him.
This is the first story in the preview of Complete Humor Satire of Saki.
Sredni Vashtar | 1,800 words
A sickly, ten-year-old boy, Conradin, seeks refuge from his cousin and guardian by playing in a tool shed. He has two pets there, a hen and a ferret. He imagines the ferret is a god.
“Sredni Vashtar” can be read in the preview of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories.
The Story of St. Vespaluus | 2,950 words
In a kingdom a long time ago, the people’s beliefs were divided among Pagan; Christian; and the religion of King Hkrikros, the worship of the sacred serpents. Hkirkros is without a male heir. He selects his favorite nephew, Vespaluus. Things get complicated when Vespaluus shows an interest in Christianity. The Royal Librarian is tasked with reasoning with the young man.
The Storyteller | 2,000 words
Three young children are riding the train with their aunt. They are active and inquisitive; their aunt has trouble keeping them occupied. She tries telling a story, but the kids don’t care for it. A bachelor riding in the same carriage thinks he can entertain the kids with a story.
Tea | 1,600 words
James, a thirty-four-year-old bachelor, feels pressure from his family to marry. They agree that Joan is the most suitable woman for him. The time has come for him to propose. He’s still hesitant. He takes an opportunity to delay his visit.
This is the third story in the preview of The Toys of Peace and Other Papers.
Tobermory | 2,800 words
At a party at a country house, a guest announces that he can teach animals to speak. As proof he produces the host’s cat, Tobermory, who proceeds to embarrass the guests by revealing details of private conversations.
This is the third story in the preview of The Chronicles of Clovis.
“He was neither a wit nor a croquet champion, a hypnotic force nor a begetter of amateur theatricals. Neither did his exterior suggest the sort of man in whom women are willing to pardon a generous measure of mental deficiency.”
The Toys of Peace | 1,900 words
Eleanor doesn’t want her children playing with toy guns or soldiers. She asks her brother to give her children peaceful toys for Easter. They’re not sure what to make of the gift.
This is the first story in the preview of The Toys of Peace and Other Papers.
The Unrest Cure | 2,220 words
A man and his wife dislike any change in their regular routine. After telling a stranger about this on a train, he recommends an “unrest cure”, where they would do something completely unusual for a while. Their life soon gets thrown into chaos.
Wratislav | 940 words
The Gräfin and the Baroness talk about their children, Wratislav and Elsa. The Gräfin says they should get married. Elsa balks at the match.
As I come across more Saki short stories they will be added to this page.