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De La Mare, Walter

The Riddle

The plot of tonight’s story involves a gaggle of young children who go to stay with their frail old grandmother, and who, more or less, are swallowed up by a house that I imagine to be uniformly mothballish and denture-gluey in nature. And I’m disclosing this to you now not so that I might spoil it for you (because I’m sure you’re all remarkably brilliant listeners who are after more than rote high-concept plot anyhow), BUT!

The plot of tonight’s story involves a gaggle of young children who go to stay with their frail old grandmother, and who, more or less, are swallowed up by a house that I imagine to be uniformly mothballish and denture-gluey in nature. And I’m disclosing this to you now not so that I might spoil it for you (because I’m sure you’re all remarkably brilliant listeners who are after more than rote high-concept plot anyhow), BUT! If anyone has any advice on how to return the hairs on my neck to their natural supine state, which they haven’t been since reading this, I’d appreciate it. Not that I have many hairs on my neck, because that’s unsightly. But just because today’s is a frightly one. So prepare yourselves.

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By miette

Miette has been podcasting the best of world literature's short fiction since March 2005, when she was just a pup.

2 replies on “The Riddle”

I know what you mean about the hairs on your neck. It’s so beautifully written, the terror doesn’t hit you until the very end.
Why, ‘The Riddle’, I wonder?
Thanks!

So _that’s_ what all the hairs on my neck are for (unsightliness being taken for granted). I’m sure that you’re familiar with all the longer stories too, but, if not, _Seaton’s Aunt_ would seem to be a later variation on this. You quite properly prefer shorter stories, but if you like the frightly kind, and especially those of this variety, I wonder whether you might like to read one by Robert Aickman. I’d particularly recommend _The School Friend_ or _The Inner Room_.

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