Essence & Folly: Twelve Short Stories

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The was surpassingly good; and, Rainsford noted, the table apointments were of the finest--the linen, the crystal, the silver, the china. They were eating borsch , the rich, red soup with whipped cream so dear to Russian palates. Half apologetically General Zaroff said, "We do our best to preserve the amenities of civilization here. Please forgive any lapses. We are well off the beaten track, you know.

Do you think the champagne has suffered from its long ocean trip? He was finding the general a most thoughtful and affable host, a true cosmopolite.

But there was one small trait of. Whenever he looked up from his plate he found the general studying him, appraising him narrowly. You see, I read all books on hunting published in English, French, and Russian.

I have but one passion in my life, Mr. Yes, he was a monster. But I got the brute. Then he said slowly, "No. You are wrong, sir. The Cape buffalo is not the most dangerous big game. I have to stock the island. I exhausted their possibilities, you see. No thrill left in tigers, no real danger. I live for danger, Mr. I think I may say, in all modesty, that I have done a rare thing. I have invented a new sensation. May I pour you another glass of port?

Some He makes kings, some beggars. Me He made a hunter. My hand was made for the trigger, my father said. He was a very rich man with a quarter of a million acres in the Crimea, and he was an ardent sportsman. When I was only five years old he gave me a little gun, specially made in Moscow for me, to shoot sparrows with. When I shot some of his prize turkeys with it, he did not punish me; he complimented me on my marksmanship. I killed my first bear in the Caucasus when I was ten. My whole life has been one prolonged hunt.

I went into the army--it was expected of noblemen's sons--and for a time commanded a division of Cossack cavalry, but my real interest was always the hunt. I have hunted every kind of game in every land. It would be impossible for me to tell you how many animals I have killed. Many noble Russians lost everything. I, luckily, had invested heavily in American securities, so I shall never have to open a tearoom in Monte Carlo or drive a taxi in Paris. Naturally, I continued to hunt--grizzliest in your Rockies, crocodiles in the Ganges, rhinoceroses in East Africa.

It was in Africa that the Cape buffalo hit me and laid me up for six months.

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As soon as I recovered I started for the Amazon to hunt jaguars, for I had heard they were unusually cunning. They weren't. I was bitterly disappointed. I was lying in my tent with a splitting headache one night when a terrible thought pushed its way into my mind. Hunting was beginning to bore me! And hunting, remember, had been my life.

I have heard that in America businessmen often go to pieces when they give up the business that has been their life. The general smiled. Now, mine is an analytical mind, Mr. Doubtless that is why I enjoy the problems of the chase. You are much younger than I am, Mr. Rainsford, and have not hunted as much, but you perhaps can guess the answer.

I always got my quarry. There is no greater bore than perfection. That is no boast; it is a mathematical certainty. The animal had nothing but his legs and his instinct. Instinct is no match for reason. When I thought of this it was a tragic moment for me, I can tell you.

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You're joking. I needed a new animal. I found one. So I bought this island built this house, and here I do my hunting. The island is perfect for my purposes--there are jungles with a maze of traits in them, hills, swamps--" "But the animal, General Zaroff? No other hunting compares with it for an instant. Every day I hunt, and I never grow bored now, for I have a quarry with which I can match my wits.

This is a grisly joke. I am speaking of hunting. Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder. He regarded Rainsford quizzically. Surely your experiences in the war--" "Did not make me condone cold-blooded murder," finished Rainsford stiffly.

Laughter shook the general. It's like finding a snuffbox in a limousine. Ah, well, doubtless you had Puritan ancestors. So many Americans appear to have had. I'll wager you'll forget your notions when you go hunting with me. You've a genuine new thrill in store for you, Mr. But I think I can show you that your scruples are quite ill founded. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships--lassars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them.

It gives me pleasure.


They can reason, after a fashion. So they are dangerous. Sometimes, when Providence is not so kind, I help Providence a bit.

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Come to the window with me. Out there!

Essence & Folly: Twelve Short Stories
Essence & Folly: Twelve Short Stories
Essence & Folly: Twelve Short Stories
Essence & Folly: Twelve Short Stories
Essence & Folly: Twelve Short Stories
Essence & Folly: Twelve Short Stories

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