The Stone Image

Seabury Quinn
The Stone Image
by Seabury Quinn
The Thrill Book, May 1, 1919
Why is it, I wonder, that there must always be a rift in the lute, a fly in
the ointment, a gnat in the ice-cream soda?
Take Betty and me, for example. If I might be allowed to borrow a term
from our Spiritualist friends, I would say that never were husband and
wife more thoroughly en rapport than Betty and I. When I call down
from the bathroom and ask her where in blazes her what-d'ye-call-it is
she knows perfectly well that I'm inquiring of the whereabouts of her
Cr?me Shalimah, with which I desire to anoint my newly shaven face.
When Betty calls up from the living room and asks me to throw my
thing-a-bob down to her I know, as well as if she had told me, that she
wishes my pocketknife for the purpose of retipping the pencil from
which she had just chewed the point. This far all is well with Betty and
But the high gods, who are ever greenly jealous of human happiness,
took an underhand method of revenge when they afflicted Betty and me
with diverse tastes in things artistic. I have a partiality for etchings,
pastels, and aquarelles--clean Western art--and everything savoring of
the East, from teakwood to tea, is detestable to me. Betty dotes upon
Oriental embroideries, bronzes, and carvings--and thereby hangs this
One bright afternoon last autumn, when the florists were beginning to
display chrysanthemums in their windows, and the September haze
hung over the hills in the country, Betty took me for a walk down the
Avenue. Her cooing amiability ought to have warned me that she was
hatching up some dire plot against my peace and happiness, but what
married man can fathom the depths of his wife's depravity? So, before I

had time to rush madly to the nearest police station and demand
protection, I found myself gently but firmly piloted through the
yawning portal of a certain little shop where a softspoken,
coffee-colored descendant of the Forty Thieves exchanges lacquered
metal, embossed chinaware, and kindred junk for real money, and
beheld my life partner standing rapt in mute admiration before the most
horrible concoction of carven stone that ever offended the eyes of
civilized man.
In a very general way the thing resembled a human being. That is to say,
it possessed the number of pectoral and pelvic limbs customarily
enjoyed by man, and there the likeness stopped.
Beneath a brow as shallow as an ape's, and as sloping as a mansard roof,
the creature's agate eyes stared forth from above its bloated cheeks with
a look of unutterable hate and fury. To right and left of its knoblike
nose great tusks of shining ivory protruded from the painted lips, which
writhed and twisted in a snarl of rage, and the talon hands it brandished
above its head were armed with claws like those of some giant vulture.
It was like a vision from a nightmare, a fiend from Dante's Inferno and
a djin from some Eastern horror tale rolled into one, and my wife stood
there and looked at it as she had looked at me in the days of our
"Isn't he per-fect-ly adorable?" breathed Betty ecstatically.
I regarded the hideous thing with a look of deepest loathing. "Now I
know what the hymn means by 'the heathen in his blindness,'" I
commented as I turned my back squarely upon it.
"Ye-es, sair," volunteered the Mocha and Javacolored bandit who
owned the shop, "eet ees a vary rare piece of carving; eet ees the great
god Fo, the ruler of the air. I var-y much doubt that there is another like
it in the world."
"I hope you're right," I assured him. Then to Betty: "If you're through
admiring that monument to delirium tremens, we'll be going." And
heedless of the thousand dollars' worth of bric-a-brac which my

flouncing coattails menaced I marched from the store, followed by a
thoroughly indignant Betty. We walked the next sixty yards in stony
silence; Betty in a white heat of fury which set her quivering from the
backbone out; I in that not altogether unpleasant state of mind
experienced while devising "cutting" remarks.
I had composed the introduction to a beautiful little lecture by the time
we had reached the corner, and was about to settle down to three
hundred yards or so of enjoyable monologue when the opening words
died on my tongue. Betty was crying, right on the Avenue, and at four
o'clock in the afternoon!
"I t-think you're perfectly horrid," she sobbed, as the big, pearly tears
began to chase each other down her trembling cheeks. "You know how
I wwanted that lovely statuette, and you wouldn't let me g-get
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