"Chelsea Justice" (1925, 21 pages)
Vita Sackville-West (1892 to 1962-UK) is best known to most people as the role model for the central character in Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando. Born into great wealth in an aristocratic family, Sackville-West is a bisexual icon. Among her most famous romantic partners was Virginia Woolf but there were numerous other famous women and men in her life. In her day she was also a very successful fiction writer, selling more books than Woolf. My knowledge of Sackville-West comes largely from the very interesting biography of her by Victoria Glendinning. (The basic facts of her life and a list of her publications can be found here.)
I have wanted to read her work for some time so I was very happy to find two of her short stories online. (In 2012 all of her work will be out of copyright under the rules of Australia and Indian so I expect much of her work to be online soon.)
"The Tale of Mr. Peter Brown" is a work of pure delight. It starts in a cafe and is told in the first person through a male narrator. The narrator goes to the same cafe a lot. One day he sees for the first time a man who seems very lonely and very stressed. He wants to speak with him but at first he hesitates as striking up a conversation with a stranger is a violation of social convention. The two men eventually become acquaintances and the man in the cafe tells his story. He needed a place to live so a friend invited him to move in with him and his wife. He had his own room and was very happy there. Things happen and his friend comes home to find him in bed with his wife. The friend says "No problem, carry on" and he makes no mention of the incident. But he is plotting one of the most terrible revenges imaginable short of killing someone. The revenge is just so horrific (and I have to admit, clever!) that I will not spoil it for you. The standard of writing is very high. I am really surprised this is not a famous story.
"Chelsea Justice" is a good story but not nearly so as "The Tale of Mr. Peter Brown". It is a well written and kind of exciting crime story but I do not really liked the way it was ended. It seems kind of like an artistic short changing.
You can down both of these stories HERE.