(Dec 14th to 20th)

Format: Triple

Just when the silence was getting unendurable, the body turned over and rolled away from the basin to the side of the room, where it lay stomach-up. There was a faint ‘plop’ from the basin – exactly like the noise a fish makes when it takes a fly – and the green light in the centre revived.

I looked in the basin, and saw, bobbing in the water, the dried shrivelled black head of a native baby – open eyes, open mouth, and shaved scalp …


This is from “In the House of Suddhoo” in Plain Tales from the Hills. Suddhoo, in Lahore, a gullible old man who is easily scared, has a sick son in Peshawar. One of his lodgers, a villainous seal-cutter, has found a way of getting swift secret news of the son’s illness by telegraph. Pretending that he is doing this by magic – a jadoo, he has been extracting many rupees from Suddhoo. Here he is putting on an impressive, skilfully faked, jadoo.

We could hear him moving about his own room, but there was no light there. Presently from the room came the long-drawn howl of a wolf.
People write and talk lightly of blood running cold and hair standing up and things of that kind. Both sensations are too horrible to be trifled with. My heart stopped as though a knife had been driven through it, and Strickland turned as white as the table-cloth.
The howl was repeated, and was answered by another howl far across the fields…


This is from “The Mark of the Beast” in Life’s Handicap. Fleete, who knew little of India, had come in from his place in the hills for a New Year’s eve dinner. On his way home, extremely drunk, he had stubbed out his cigar on the face of an image of the Hindu god, Hanuman. Outraged, a leper priest of Hanuman has set the Mark of the Beast on Fleete, who is swiftly becoming more wolf than man. In a horrific scene, the narrator and his friend Strickland torture the priest until he takes off the curse.

I was actually lying on my chest leaning over the mouth of a well so deep I could scarcely see the water in it.
There were things in the water, – black things, – and the water was black as pitch with blue scum atop. The laughing sound came from the noise of a little spring, spouting half-way down one side of the well…One thing turned over on its back, as I watched, and drifted round and round the circle of the mossy brickwork with a hand and half an arm held clear of the water in a stiff and horrible flourish …


This is from “Bubbling Well Road” in Life’s Handicap.

The narrator, out pig-hunting, has entered a patch of high plumed jungle-grass in search of a big boar. It hides a priest’s house, and a horrible secret …