Ministers of Graceby Saki
"Ministers of Grace" is a short story by Saki. Hector Hugh Munro (18 December 1870 - 13 November 1916), better known by the pen name Saki, and also frequently as H. H. Munro, was a British writer whose witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories satirized Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story and often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. Influenced by Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll, and Kipling, he himself influenced A. A. Milne, Noël Coward, and P. G. Wodehouse.
Beside his short stories (which were first published in newspapers, as was customary at the time, and then collected into several volumes), he wrote a full-length play, The Watched Pot, in collaboration with Charles Maude; two one-act plays; a historical study, The Rise of the Russian Empire, the only book published under his own name; a short novel, The Unbearable Bassington; the episodic The Westminster Alice (a Parliamentary parody of Alice in Wonderland), and When William Came, subtitled A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns, a fantasy about a future German invasion of Britain.
Mary was the daughter of Rear Admiral Samuel Mercer; and her nephew, Cecil William Mercer, became a famous writer as Dornford Yates. Charles Munro was an Inspector-General for the Burmese Police.
In 1872, on a home visit to England, Mary was charged by a cow; and the shock caused her to miscarry. She never recovered and soon died. Charles Munro sent his children, including two-year-old Hector, to England, where they were brought up by their grandmother and aunts in a strict puritanical household.
Munro was educated at Pencarwick School in Exmouth, Devon and at Bedford School. On a few occasions, when he retired, Charles travelled with Hector and his sister to fashionable European spas and tourist resorts. In 1893, Hector followed his father into the Indian Imperial Police, where he was posted to Burma (like George Orwell a generation later). Two years later, having contracted malaria, he resigned and returned to England.
At the start of World War I, although 43 and officially over-age, Munro refused a commission and joined 2nd King Edward's Horse as an ordinary trooper, later transferring to 22nd Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers, where he rose to the rank of lance sergeant. More than once he returned to the battlefield when officially still too sick or injured. In November 1916, when sheltering in a shell crater near Beaumont-Hamel, France, during the Battle of the Ancre he was killed by a German sniper. His last words, according to several sources, were "Put that bloody cigarette out!" After his death, his sister Ethel destroyed most of his papers and wrote her own account of their childhood.
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