by H. H. Munro
(about 1700 words)
While on a fox hunting trip one day, the Baroness and her friend Constance happen to come upon a hyena that has escaped from a local, private zoo. The hyena is quite tame, and follows the two mounted women as they head off after their disconcerted hounds. Constance is quite perturbed by the presence of the hyena, but the Baroness takes it in stride, and decides to call the animal Esme.
As they are riding, Esme suddenly takes off into some bushes, where he mauls a gypsy child to death. Constance is mortified, but the Baroness shakes it off like it’s no big deal. Esme unfortunately comes to his own grisly end when he is struck and killed by an automobile. Finally the Baroness is stirred into outrage, claiming that the motorist killed her Esme. Deeply distraught over having killed someone’s presumed dog, the motorist apologies and gives the Baroness an expensive broach as compensation. She sells this and gives none of the money to either Constance nor Lord Pabham, the hyena’s supposed owner. She explains it thus:
I pointed out that the Esme part of the affair was my own invention, and the hyena part of it belonged to Lord Pabham, if it really was his hyena, of which, of course, I’ve no proof.
Hector Hugh Munro (AKA Saki) was born on December 18, 1870 in Akyab, Burma. His father was an inspector-general of the police there. His mother unfortunately died in a cow related accident and Munro and his brother and sister were sent to live with their obligatorily cruel aunts. After completing his schooling, Munro returned to Burma where he enlisted in the Colonial Burmese Military Police, returning to England again only due to poor health. For a time he was a journalist, writing satirical pieces for different newspapers and magazines. He worked as a foreign correspondent after that, and began publishing his first novels around the same time. Being like most bad-ass writers of the time, he volunteered for the army at the start of World War 1, even though he was technically too old, and wrote many of his short stories from the trenches. He was fatally shot by a German sniper in France in 1916.