The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch

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"The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch"
Author Arthur C. Clarke
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Tales from the White Hart
Genre(s) Science fiction
Preceded by "Sleeping Beauty"

The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch is a science fiction short story by Arthur C. Clarke anthologized in Tales from the White Hart. It rounds out the collection describing the events leading to the departure of Harry Purvis, who tells all the other tales in the collection, from the White Hart, never to return. The pub itself gets a new manager and the narrator and his friends follow the old manager to a new establishment called "The Sphere".


The narrator tells how Harry Purvis had been telling the tale of Osbert Inch and his talkative wife Ermintrude. Being a sound engineer, Osbert devised a device to count how many words his wife spoke in their London flat, versus how many he spoke. This was intended to prove to Ermintrude that, despite her vehement protests to the contrary, she spoke far more than he did.

To avoid the presence of the counter affecting their behaviour, they agreed to seal it for a week and then look at the two counts. Osbert was shocked to find that his count far exceeded that of his wife. It did not take long for him to realize that she had taken a tape he had made using his own voice, made it into a loop and left it running in the flat while he was at work.

Ermintrude subsequently suffered the "defenestration" of the title, though nobody was able to prove that Osbert assisted her. At that point in the tale, according to the narrator, a formidable woman stormed into the White Hart pub and extracted Harry, who addressed her as "Ermintrude". Harry had not been seen since.


Galaxy reviewer Floyd C. Gale praised the collection as "as light and frothy a conglomeration of sidesplitters as it has been my good fortune to read."[1]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1957, p.108