Short story: “Sredni Vashtar”

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“Sredni Vashtar,” by Saki (H. H. Munro)

From the collection The Chronicles of Clovis (on Project Gutenberg); also found here

1,819 words

Most Saki stories strike me as too cold and cynical to be anything more than amusing. This one is wonderful.

And Conradin fervently breathed his prayer for the last time. But he knew as he prayed that he did not believe. He knew that the Woman would come out presently with that pursed smile he loathed so well on her face, and that in an hour or two the gardener would carry away his wonderful god, a god no longer, but a simple brown ferret in a hutch. And he knew that the Woman would triumph always as she triumphed now, and that he would grow ever more sickly under her pestering and domineering and superior wisdom, till one day nothing would matter much more with him, and the doctor would be proved right. And in the sting and misery of his defeat, he began to chant loudly and defiantly the hymn of his threatened idol […]

Where else has the powerlessness of childhood been evoked so well?