published in 1968, “more tales to tremble by,” illustrated by gordan laite, is full of surprising creeps. although a children’s book, the selection of stories are anything but childike.
boasting stories such as, “the red lodge,” by h. russell wakefield and “the extra passenger,” by weird luminary august derluth, the stories are sure to frighten children and most likely frighten adults even more.
“sredni vashtar,” by saki is my favorite in the collection. 10 year old conradin lives with his oppressive cousine and guardian, “mrs. de ropp.” a sickly boy, his every possible joy and excitement is suppressed by his guardian, whom he feels is hastening him to his death. secretly he obtains a large polecat-ferret. as the embodiment of life, he imagines it a vengeful god and he its faithful supplicant. eventually mrs. de ropp discovers the animal and enters the shed where it’s hidden to dispose of it. conradin, from the window above, watches helplessly.
“and in the sting and misery of his defeat he began to chant loudly and defiantly the hymn of his threatened idol: ‘srendi vashtar went forth; his thoughts were red and his teeth were white. his enemies called for peace, but he brought them death. sredni vashtar the beautiful.’
“… and presently his eyes were rewarded: out through that doorway came a long, low yellow and brown beast, with eyes a-blink at the waning daylight and dark wet stains around the fur of his jaws and throat.”
contentedly, conradin proceeds to eat toast and drink his afternoon tea with enjoyment.
gordon laite’s art is beautiful. all of his art i’ve seen prior to this has been full color so it was a delight to see his linework. sadly, due to the wonderful painted cover, this book is often “reused” to make journals so pick one up while you can.