Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Mr. Cathcart was born on an island. It does not suit him, however, because there are too many other people on it. His life purpose becomes to own an island that he can make into a world of his own. The would-be islander acquires an island, four miles around, with three cottages on it. It has a smaller island lying off it, which also belongs to him. He loves his island, but there is a sinister side to it. It is a timeless world in which the souls of the dead live again, pulsating actively around the living. At night, places and things that seem uncanny in the day become threatening.
To escape such awareness, Cathcart concentrates on the material aspect of the island. He tries to fill it with his own gracious spirit and render it a minute world of pure perfection, made by man himself. He begins by spending money. He brings a housekeeper and butler from the mainland, and installs a bailiff in the farmhouse. He acquires a herd of cows and a yacht. He fills the cottages with tenants, all of whom display a smooth and deferential manner to “the Master.” The Master visits his tenants and is treated almost with adulation, but after he leaves, they have subtle, mocking smiles on their faces. It is doubtful that any of them really likes him, or whether he likes any of them.
At the end of the first year on the island, the bills flood in. Cathcart is shocked at how much money the island has swallowed. He thinks up projects to make the farm more...
(The entire section is 926 words.)
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