"The Schartz-Metterklume Method" is a humorous short story by the British author Hector Hugh Munro who wrote under the pseudonym of Saki. It first appeared in print in the October 14, 1911 edition of the newspaper The Westminster Gazette. It was republished in 1914 as part of the anthology Beasts and Super-Beasts.
The story's protagonist is an imaginative and mischievous woman named Lady Carlotta. A woman named Mrs. Quabarl sees Lady Carlotta at a small train station and assumes that she is Miss Hope, a woman whom Mrs. Quabarl has hired as a governess for her four children. For her own amusement, Lady Carlotta pretends to be Miss Hope and accompanies Mrs. Quabarl to her home. Both Mr. and Mrs. Quabarl are keen for their children to be well educated in history. Lady Carlotta claims to teach history by using the Schartz-Metterklume method. It is later revealed that this method, which is most likely of Lady Carlotta's own invention, consists of getting children to act out historical events.
The story has been adapted for film, television, and radio.
Lady Carlotta is traveling by train to visit a friend. The train stops at a small station and Lady Carlotta gets out to take a walk along the platform. She sees a horse on a road nearby which appears to be being mistreated by its owner. When she goes to try to stop the animal's mistreatment, her train suddenly leaves and takes her luggage with it. It is not the first time that something like this has happened to Lady Carlotta and her friend will not be surprised when Lady Carlotta's luggage arrives before she does. She sends a telegram to her friend which says that she will arrive later.
A woman approaches Lady Carlotta and says, "You must be Miss Hope." It is revealed that the woman's name is Mrs. Quabarl and that she has hired Miss Hope as a governess for her children. Lady Carlotta says that she is Miss Hope and that she has lost her luggage. She is driven to the Quabarl mansion in the Quabarls' expensive new car. Mrs. Quabarl is not happy that Lady Carlotta is obviously unimpressed by the car. She is even more upset when Lady Carlotta refers to other cars which she thinks are better.
It is explained to Lady Carlotta that she will be teaching Mrs. Quabarl's two sons, Claude and Wilfrid, and her two daughters, Irene and Viola. Mrs. Quabarl has high expectations for her children's education and appears to consider good quality teaching of history to be especially important. She says that her children must be made to understand that they are learning the life stories of men and women who really lived.
At dinner, Lady Carlotta shocks Mr. and Mrs. Quabarl by making up stories about how horrible her previous employers were and embarrasses them by demonstrating that she knows more about wine than they do. Mr. Quabarl repeats his wife's words about how important it is that the children realize that they are learning the life stories of real men and women in their history lessons. Lady Carlotta says that she employs the Schartz-Metterklume method of teaching history. Mr. and Mrs. Quabarl pretend that they have heard of it.
The following morning, Mrs. Quabarl is surprised to find her daughter Irene sitting at the top of the stairs and her daughter Viola sitting on a windowsill covered in a wolf-skin rug. Irene explains that they are having a history lesson. She is pretending to be Rome and Viola is pretending to be the Roman symbol of the she-wolf. She adds that her brothers Claude and Wilfrid have been forced by their governess to go off and get the "shabby women". Mrs. Quabarl hears a scream from outside. The scream is coming from the two daughters of her lodge-keeper who are being forced towards the house by Claude and Wilfrid. The girls' younger brother is trying to stop Claude and Wilfrid by attacking them.
Mrs. Quabarl orders her sons to let the two girls go. She demands to know what Lady Carlotta is doing. Lady Carlotta explains that she is teaching early Roman history by using the Schartz-Metterklume method, which makes children understand history by acting it out. She adds that Mrs. Quabarl may have ruined the lesson by making the boys think that the Sabine women escaped.
Mrs. Quabarl orders Lady Carlotta to leave at once and says that her luggage will be sent on to her. Lady Carlotta says that she does not know which address her possessions should be forwarded to at present. She adds that one of the items in her luggage is a young leopard which will need to be fed. She walks to the train station and continues the journey to her friend's house. Mr. and Mrs. Quabarl are relieved when the real Miss Hope arrives shortly afterwards.
"The Schartz-Metterklume Method" was adapted as an episode of the American TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The episode was first shown on CBS on June 12, 1960. It stars Hermione Gringold as the false Miss Hope, Elspeth March as Mrs. Wellington (equivalent to Mrs. Quabarl in the original short story), Angela Cartwright as Irene and Veronica Cartwright as Viola. Pat Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock's daughter, makes a brief appearance as a maid.
An American short film adaptation of "The Schartz-Metterklume Method" was released in 2010. It was directed by Jessica Kardos and stars Allison Leonard as Claretta (equivalent to Lady Carlotta in the original short story).
A fifteen-minute radio play based on "The Schartz-Metterklume Method" was produced as an episode of the five-part mini-series of Saki dramatizations Claw Marks on the Curtain. The play first aired on BBC Radio 4 on May 3, 2005.
- ↑ Irene mistakes the word "Sabine" for "shabby". Lady Carlotta is making the children act out a legend known as the Rape of the Sabine Women. According to the legend, shortly after Rome was founded, Roman men abducted women from the neighboring Sabine tribe to be their wives. A war ensued between the Sabine people and the Romans. The abducted Sabine women put an end to the war by standing between the opposing armies of their fathers and their husbands.
- ↑ Other episodes of the 2005 BBC radio mini-series Claw Marks on the Curtain, all dramatized by Roger Davenport, are based on "The Lumber Room", "Fur", "The Toys of Peace", and "The Open Window".