Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Henry Kuttner's "The Misguided Halo" (short story, fantasy): Being a saint can be very troublesome!

Quote from short story titled The Misguided Halo by Henry KuttnerIf you've little children at home, this hilarious but somewhat juvenile story has good material to adapt for home story telling sessions. I liked it, but had a feeling I've seen this before...

If you are from India or neighboring countries, you will probably find the beginning a bit odd. But the fun begins after the odd bit.

Story summary.

A young & inexperienced angel has been assigned the task of granting sainthood to one Kai Yung, an ascetic Tibetan living in some Himalayan cave. He has great expectations from fakirs, but finds Kai drunk on offerings of the gullible & concludes he probably reached a wrong place. So he grants the sainthood to a man named K Young, living in a little town called Tibbett in US, instead!

Now this sainthood grant comprises of a very visible signature: "The halo hung unsuspended about five inches from the scalp. It measured perhaps seven inches in diameter, and seemed like a glowing, luminous ring of white light."

Kenneth (of K Young) will discover the halo in the morning, & is befuddled. Nothing can get rid of the thing.

For a while, we have a funny adventure of his attempts to cover it up in a ridiculously large headgear. There will be much embarrassment on the way to office in public transport & in office. He will see a doctor too - no luck.

Later, in office, he will be visited by the angel who tells him of mistake, but says he considers Kenneth a worthy bearer. So Kenneth figures he must now sin to get rid of the unwelcome sainthood!

To complicate matters, boss wants him to entertain an important customer - show him around the city, etc! So we have more adventures - the two getting drunk, picking up fight, etc. Kenneth decides a theft ought to be a sin, & the two drunken men steal a wooden statue outside a shop. "The proprietor of the cigar shop came out... His eyes followed the departing statue with unmitigated joy. 'For ten years I've tried to get rid of that thing... And now. . . aha!"

But Kenneth doesn't yet know of owner's reaction. After more adventures, he will be visited again by angel at home: "You have lightened the heart of a fellow man... and at a cost of much labor on your part... Go forth, K Young, rewarded and protected from all sin alike by your halo."

Good - so now he cannot even sin! Halo won't let him.

Collected in.

  1. "The Best of Henry Kuttner"

Fact sheet.

"The Misguided Halo", short story, review
First published: "Unknown" magazine, August 1939.
Rating: B
Related: All stories by Henry Kuttner.