Short Story # 78: He Went Out to Buy a Rhine by Robert Graves

Title: He Went Out to Buy a Rhine 

Author: Robert Graves


Robert Graves - The Shout and Other Stories
Mrs. Tisser is explaining the last time she saw her tenant who later ended up dead.  The Coroner has concluded suicide and is confirming it with Mrs. Tisser.  She admits to being surprised by this as he was overall a decent person but on the morning of his suicide, he did act weirdly.  He spoke some strange lines to her and later, went out to buy a "rhine."  Mrs. Tisser is also asked about his emotional life and she explains that he admitted to being in love with someone he had never met and never saw named Yma.  After her statements, the jury are in discussion about the events and one juror, Mr. Pink presents the case is very clear terms.  Yma is the name of a singer who has the most beautiful voice in the world, the juror explains.  He also explains that he saw the nostril of the victim and it was slightly discolored that he identifies as the use of errhine.  Mr. Pink believes that the man went out for "errhine" not "a rhine."  He identifies the bodily act of sternutation (or sneezing).  The last words of the man come to make sense as the jurors discover the man was sneezing as way to reinvigorate himself and literally, sneezed himself through a set of windows to his death.  


A quirky little story that I have not doubt left some people trying to make themselves sneeze to see if they can mimic the man's experience (without the accidental death part, mind you).  The story has all the markings of a mystery but in a much more condense and simple format.  That the narrator's mysterious death is explained by sneezing to death adds that little bit of dark humor that seems present in a good deal of the stories in this anthology. 

Short Story #78 out of 365
Rating:  2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  3/17/2014
Source:  The Shout and Other Stories by Robert Graves. Penguin Books, 1978.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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