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Fur

Painting by Ferdinand-Léon Ménétrier (1895-1920) of fur chokers and scarves.

"Fur" is a humorous short story by the British author Hector Hugh Munro who wrote under the pseudonym of Saki. The story first appeared in the Morning Post. It was later collected in the 1914 anthology Beasts and Super-Beasts.

In the story, a young woman named Suzanne wants to encourage a wealthy relative to buy her an expensive present for her birthday. Her friend Eleanor comes up with a clever plan to help her steer him towards a silver-fox stole. When Suzanne refuses Eleanor's request for a favor in return, however, the plan takes an unexpected turn.

A fifteen-minute radio play based on "Fur" was produced as an episode of the five-part mini-series of Saki dramatizations Claw Marks on the Curtain.[1] The play first aired on BBC Radio 4 on May 4, 2005.

Plot

Suzanne has been asked by a very wealthy distant relative, Bertram Kneyght, what she wants for her upcoming birthday. She initially thought of asking for a Dresden figurine, but Bertram is so rich that she has decided she should ask for something more expensive. What she really wants is some fur for her trip to Davos this winter. She is afraid, however, that if she mentions the trip, he might give her something practical like a Baedeker's Switzerland instead.

Suzanne's friend Eleanor thinks Bertram is more likely to give her a fan knowing she will be going to dances. Suzanne dreads the possibility because she already owns too many fans. They agree Suzanne must be very specific. Eleanor suggests they should arrange to "accidentally" meet Bertram on his daily walk to his club. He will pass a department store where Suzanne has been admiring some lovely silver-fox stoles. Once they side-track him into the store, Eleanor can steer the conversation in the proper direction by asking Suzanne what she wants for her birthday.

As they wait for Bertram at a street corner near the store the following day, Eleanor asks Suzanne for a favor in the evening. She says Harry Scarisbrooke is planning to visit "unexpectedly" and she wants to be able to talk to him alone. She needs Suzanne to drop in after dinner and play bridge with her aunts to keep them occupied. Suzanne refuses because Eleanor's aunts are such slow bridge players that it would be a terrible bore for her.

Bertram comes along and happily joins the two women to explore the store. Suzanne is so anxious to get to the fur department that she gets ahead of the others as they stop at a counter. Left alone with Bertram, Eleanor brings up the subject of Suzanne's birthday. She lies and tells him that they are looking for gifts for each other because her own birthday happens to be the day before Suzanne's. As expected, Bertram asks for her advice on a suitable gift for Suzanne.

Eleanor suggests a fan as a useful gift which Suzanne will surely appreciate. She then mentions that Suzanne always gets nice birthday gifts while she only receives small trifles because her family is not wealthy. She says that her uncle came into some legacy two years ago and promised to buy her a silver-fox stole for her birthday – but then his wife died and he moved abroad afterwards, understandably forgetting his promise. Eleanor says she is still saddened when she sees a silver-fox pelt. She then directs Bertram to the fan counter. When Suzanne returns, Eleanor tells her that she got separated from Bertram. They do not find him again in the crowded store.

Some days later, Suzanne calls Eleanor to thank her for her birthday gift and to tell her that Bertram got her a "wretched fan." To Suzanne's chagrin, Eleanor tells her that Bertram gave her a nice gift. Their friendship has suffered, but Eleanor has her fur.

Footnotes

  1. Other episodes of the 2005 BBC radio mini-series Claw Marks on the Curtain, all dramatized by Roger Davenport, are based on "The Lumber Room", "The Schartz-Metterklume Method", ""The Toys of Peace", and "The Open Window".

External links

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