‘The Lumber Room’ Explanation and Vocabulary

‘The Lumber Room’ by Saki (H. H. Munro) is a humorous story with satires by side highlighting the generation gap of two world – the children’s world and the world of authoritarian adults. It was published in 1914 as part of the story as part of short story collection “Beats and Super Beasts”. Enjoy this story here with easy explanations given here together with ample word meanings. Click here for Q & Ans.

About the Author: Saki (H.H. Munro)

Saki was the pen name of the British writer Hector Hugh Munro (1870-1916). His stories are a delightful blend of humor, social commentary, and the unexpected. Saki’s life was marked by tragedy. His mother, Mary Frances Mercer, died after a cow charged at her during a home visit to England. Following her death, Saki and his siblings were sent to be raised by their grandmother and paternal aunts in a strict and puritanical household in North Devon. These aunts likely served as models for some of his characters, including the aunt in “The Lumber Room” and the guardian in “Sredni Vashtar.”

The Lumber Room Part 1

The Lumber Room Part 2

The Lumber Room: Explanation and Vocabulary


  • Jagborough: A fictional place name, likely a seaside town.
  • Nicholas: The main character (protagonist), a young boy.
  • Disgrace: a state of great shame or humiliation. (Nicholas is in trouble for his actions)
  • Frivolous: seeming like a matter of little importance; silly or unimportant. (The adults see Nicholas’s reason for refusing to eat as silly)
  • Wholesome: good for your health and well-being. (The bread and milk are supposed to be nutritious)
  • Nonsense: silly or meaningless talk. (The adults think Nicholas is making something up)
  • Veriest: the most complete or absolute. (The adults think Nicholas is talking the most nonsense)
  • Alleged: stated or claimed to be the case, but not yet proven. (The adults don’t believe there’s a frog)
  • Coloured: having a particular colour or colours. (Nicholas describes the frog’s markings)
  • Markings: spots, stripes, or other designs on the surface of something. (Nicholas describes the details of the frog)
  • Dramatic: causing strong emotions or having a great effect. (The discovery of the frog changes everything)
  • Entitled: having the right or authority to do something. (Nicholas feels he can talk about the frog because he put it there)
  • Enlarged on: to give a lot of detail or explanation about something. (The adults scold Nicholas for putting the frog in the milk)
  • Profoundly: to a very great degree. (The adults were very wrong about the frog)
  • Utmost: the greatest possible amount or degree of something. (The adults were completely sure there was no frog)

Explanation: Nicholas, a child, was not allowed to go to the beach with his siblings because he was considered naughty (in disgrace). He refused to eat his breakfast because he claimed there was a frog in his milk. No one believed him, calling his talk silly (nonsense). However, it turned out Nicholas was right! He had secretly put the frog there himself, which was wrong (a sin), but it showed that the adults were completely mistaken (in error) even though they acted sure of themselves (with assurance).


  • Tactician: Someone skilled at planning and carrying out actions, especially in military situations. (Here, it’s used metaphorically for Nicholas’s argumentative strategy)
  • Insistence: The act of stating something forcefully and repeatedly.
  • Boy-cousin: Male cousin on his father’s side.
  • Girl-cousin: Female cousin on his father’s side.
  • Unwarranted: Not justified or reasonable.
  • Stretch of imagination: An attempt to believe something unlikely.
  • Styling herself: Presenting herself as something she isn’t.
  • Hastily invented: Quickly made up or planned.
  • Impress on (someone): To make someone understand something clearly.
  • Forfeited: Lost something, especially as a punishment.
  • Delights: Pleasures.
  • Justly: Deservedly.
  • Sinned: Behaved badly.
  • Disgraceful conduct: Bad behaviour.
  • Improvise: To create or do something without planning beforehand.
  • Festival nature: Happy and celebratory.
  • Rigorously debarred: Strictly excluded.
  • Debarred: Excluded.
  • Offender: Someone who has done something wrong.
  • Collectively: Together as a group.
  • Depravity: Extreme wickedness or corruption (used in an exaggerated way here)
  • Unrivalled: The best or most impressive of its kind. Having no equal.
  • Uncounted: Too many to be counted.

Explanation: Nicholas wasn’t giving up! He kept repeating that he was right about the frog, like a skilled fighter (tactician) who won’t give up an advantage. So, his cousins and younger brother were all rewarded with a trip to the beach (Jagborough sands) that afternoon, while Nicholas had to stay home as punishment. His cousin’s aunt, who wasn’t really his aunt (unwarranted stretch of imagination), made up this whole beach trip to show Nicholas what fun he was missing because of his bad behavior at breakfast. This was her usual trick. Whenever a child misbehaved, she’d invent some exciting event, like a fantastic circus (unrivaled merit, uncounted elephants) in a nearby town, that the kids would miss because of their bad choices.


  • Scraped: Roughly rubbed against something, causing damage to the surface.
  • Scrambling: To climb or move awkwardly and quickly, especially using your hands and knees.
  • Elation: A feeling of great happiness and triumph.
  • High spirits: A feeling of happiness and excitement.
  • Characterised: To be a typical feature of something.
  • Soi-disant: (French) Self-styled; pretending to be something one is not; claiming a title or position without justification
  • Glorious: Very beautiful or impressive.
  • Chuckle: A quiet laugh.
  • Grim chuckle: A laugh that suggests amusement at someone else’s misfortune.
  • Asperity: Sharpness of temper or manner.
  • Gooseberry garden: A garden where gooseberries are grown.
  • Demanded: Asked for something forcefully or authoritatively.
  • Loftily: In a proud or arrogant way.
  • Flawlessness: Perfection or freedom from fault.
  • Obstinacy: Stubbornness and unwillingness to change one’s mind.
  • Determined: Having made a firm decision to do something.

Explanation: Everyone expected Nicholas to cry when his siblings left for the beach, but instead, his cousin scraped her knee getting in the carriage and started crying. Nicholas, however, wasn’t sad. He even pointed out that another cousin’s boots were too tight and would make it hard for him to play. The aunt, who pretended to be his aunt (soi-disant), ignored what Nicholas said about the boots, even though he told her twice. Nicholas then questioned why he couldn’t go into the gooseberry garden. The aunt simply said it’s because he’s in trouble (in disgrace). Nicholas didn’t accept this logic. He thought he could be both in trouble and still go in the garden. He looked very stubborn (obstinacy), and his aunt knew he just wanted to go there because she told him not to.


  • Effectually: In a way that produces a desired effect.
  • Disappearance: The act of disappearing.
  • Masking: Hiding or concealing something.
  • Artichokes: A type of thistle with an edible flower head.
  • Shrubberies: A group of shrubs used as decoration.
  • Forbidden paradise: A place that is tempting but forbidden.
  • Sortie: A short military attack or raid. (Here, it’s used metaphorically for Nicholas’s attempts to enter the garden)
  • Wriggling: Moving in a twisting or sideways way.
  • Stealth: Secrecy or the act of trying to be quiet and unseen.
  • Evasion: The act of avoiding something unpleasant.
  • Sentry-duty: The duty of a guard who watches for danger.
  • Suspicions: A feeling that something is wrong or that someone is guilty of something.
  • Fortified: Strengthened.
  • Germinated: Began to develop or form.
  • Execution: The carrying out of a plan or order.
  • Fat, important-looking: Large and impressive in appearance.
  • Reposed: Lay or rested.
  • Unauthorised intrusion: Entering a place without permission.
  • Privileged: Having special rights or advantages.
  • Stiffly: With difficulty or resistance.
  • Stale delight: A pleasure that has become boring or uninteresting because of being experienced too often.
  • Material pleasure: A physical or bodily pleasure.

Explanation: The gooseberry garden had two entrances, perfect for a small child like Nicholas to hide among the plants. His aunt, who wasn’t very bright (a woman of few ideas) but very focused (immense powers of concentration), planned to guard both entrances all afternoon to keep Nicholas out.
However, Nicholas was never really planning to go there! He cleverly pretended to sneak around, making his aunt believe he desperately wanted in. This kept her distracted, exactly as he’d hoped.
Nicholas then snuck into the house and put his real plan into action, one he’d been thinking about for a while. He climbed on a chair in the library and reached a shelf with a special key. This key unlocked the mysterious lumber-room, a place only adults were allowed in. Nicholas wasn’t an expert at unlocking things, but he’d been practicing with another key so he wouldn’t mess up. With a turn of the key, the door creaked open, revealing a whole new world to Nicholas, far more exciting than the gooseberry garden!


  • Pictured: Imagined
  • Lumber-room: A storage room for old furniture and belongings.
  • Sealed from: Kept hidden or inaccessible from.
  • Expectations: Beliefs about what something will be like
  • Dimly lit: Not well lit
  • Illumination: Light
  • Unimagined treasures: Wonderful things never before seen or thought of.
  • Aunt-by-assertion: A woman who claims to be his aunt but may not be a true relative. (established earlier in the story)
  • Consign: Send something somewhere.
  • Dust and damp: A dirty and slightly wet environment.
  • Feast on (with eyes): To enjoy looking at something visually stimulating.
  • Tapestry: A woven wall hanging with pictures or designs.
  • Firescreen: A decorative screen placed in front of a fireplace to protect from heat or sparks.
  • Transfixed: Pierced or killed with a pointed weapon.
  • Remote period: A time long ago.
  • Vegetation: Plants growing in a particular area.
  • Heel: The back part of a dog’s foot.
  • Discharged: Shot from a weapon.
  • Cope with: Deal with or manage a difficult situation.
  • Quiver: A container for carrying arrows.
  • Ridiculously short range: A very close distance.
  • Revolving: Thinking about something from different angles.
  • Golden minutes: A period of valuable time.
  • Tight corner: A difficult or dangerous situation.

Explanation: Nicholas had always been curious about the lumber-room, a forbidden area for children. It lived up to his imagination! The room was big and dusty, with only one window letting in light from the forbidden garden. But most importantly, it was filled with amazing treasures!
Unlike the rest of the house, which seemed boring to Nicholas, the lumber-room had all sorts of cool things. The first thing that caught his eye was a giant tapestry, like a fancy wall decoration. To Nicholas, it wasn’t just a picture, it was a story coming to life! He sat on a dusty, colorful roll of fabric and examined the details closely.
The picture showed a hunter who just shot a deer with an arrow. It seemed like an easy shot, since the deer was so close. In the thick forest, it wouldn’t have been hard to sneak up on a feeding deer. The hunter’s dogs were trained to wait until he shot his arrow before chasing the deer. So far, so good for the hunter.
But here’s where it got interesting! Nicholas noticed something the hunter didn’t – four wolves were racing towards him through the trees! There might even be more hiding behind them. Could the hunter and his two dogs fight off four wolves? The hunter only had two arrows left, and he might miss with both. Nicholas wasn’t sure how good a shot the hunter was, just that he could hit a giant deer way too close.
Nicholas spent a long time thinking about the scene, imagining all the possibilities. He figured there were probably more than four wolves and the hunter was in big trouble!

His aunt, who takes care of the house, believes that using things ruins them. So, she stores many items in the lumber-room where they sit unused, collecting dust and becoming damp, all in the name of preserving them.

This passage highlights the contrast between the aunt’s idea of preserving things by hiding them away and the excitement and wonder Nicholas feels when he finally explores the room.


  • Quaint: Old-fashioned and interesting in a charming way.
  • Twisted candlesticks: Holders for candles that are shaped like twisted objects.
  • Fashioned: Made or shaped in a particular way.
  • Supposed: Intended or expected to happen in a particular way.
  • Dull and shapeless: Boring and lacking in form.
  • Sandal-wood: A type of fragrant wood.
  • Aromatic: Having a pleasant smell.
  • Cotton-wool: Soft, fluffy cotton used for cleaning or padding.
  • Hump-necked: Having a hump on its neck.
  • Goblins: Small, mischievous mythical creatures.
  • Promising: Suggesting something good or useful will happen.
  • Plain: Simple and without decoration.
  • Peeped: Looked quickly or secretly at something.
  • Behold: Look! (used to draw attention to something surprising)
  • Magpie: A black and white bird with a long tail.
  • Wood-pigeon: A large, plump wild pigeon.
  • Bustards: Large, flightless birds with long necks and legs.
  • Kites: Birds of prey with long, narrow wings and a forked tail.
  • Toucans: Large, brightly colored birds with large beaks.
  • Tiger-bitterns: Large wading birds with striped feathers.
  • Brush turkeys: Large, flightless birds of Australia and New Guinea.
  • Ibises: Large, long-legged wading birds with long, curved beaks.
  • Golden pheasants: Brightly colored pheasants with golden plumage.
  • Portrait gallery: A collection of portraits.
  • Undreamed-of: Never imagined before.
  • Mandarin duck: A small, brightly colored duck with a crest.
  • Assigning a life-history: Imagining the life story of the bird based on its appearance..
  • Vociferation: A loud and noisy way of speaking.
  • Shrill: High-pitched and piercing.
  • Suspicious: Feeling that something is wrong or that someone is guilty of something.
  • Leapt: Jumped suddenly.
  • Conclusion: A decision reached after thinking about something.
  • Energetic: Full of energy and enthusiasm.
  • Hopeless: Very unlikely to succeed.

Explanation: There were many other exciting things in the lumber-room that grabbed Nicholas’ attention. He saw cool, twisted candlesticks shaped like snakes and a teapot that looked like a duck with tea coming out of its beak. These were way cooler than the boring teapot he had in his nursery! He also found a beautiful wooden box filled with soft, nice-smelling cotton wool. Hidden inside were tiny metal figures of animals and mythical creatures – things he loved to look at and play with.
Nicholas then came across a big, plain book filled with amazing bird pictures. These were birds he’d never even seen before! Unlike the crows and pigeons he saw outside, these were herons, bustards, and all sorts of other exotic birds with vibrant colors. He was lost in imagining the life of a beautiful mandarin duck when… disaster struck!
His aunt’s loud voice screeched his name from the gooseberry garden. She must have gotten suspicious because he’d been gone for so long. She probably thought he climbed over the wall and was now frantically searching for him among the plants, even though he was nowhere near there!


  • Screamed: Shouted loudly and harshly.
  • Presently: Soon.
  • Repetitions: The act of saying or doing something again and several times.
  • Gave way to: Replaced by.
  • Shriek: A loud, sharp cry.
  • Crept: Moved slowly and silently in a low position.
  • Restored: Put something back in its proper place.
  • Neighbouring: Situated near or next to something.
  • Sauntered: Walked in a slow, relaxed way.
  • Promptly: Immediately or without delay.
  • Slipped: Lost her footing and fallen.
  • Rain-water tank: A container for collecting rainwater.
  • Slippery: Having a wet or smooth surface that causes someone or something to slide easily.
  • Ladder: A frame with rungs for climbing up or down.
  • Objected: Stated a disagreement or disapproval.
  • Evil One: The devil.
  • Yield: Give in to pressure or persuasion.
  • Nonsense: Silly or meaningless talk.
  • Prisoner: Someone who is shut up or confined in a place, especially unwillingly.
  • Innocently: In a way that suggests no wrong is being done.
  • Privately resolving: Secretly deciding.

Explanation: Nicholas ignored his aunt’s angry shouts calling him out of the forbidden lumber-room. He knew she couldn’t see him and thought he was hiding in the gooseberry garden. He quickly explored the room more, finding a beautiful bird book with pictures of amazing creatures he’d never seen before. Just as he was getting lost in imagining the life of a bird, his aunt’s voice came again, much louder this time!
It turned out his aunt, suspecting he was in the garden, fell into the empty rain barrel! She yelled for Nicholas to get a ladder, but Nicholas wasn’t sure if it was really his aunt or an evil trick. He remembered his aunt’s warnings about the Evil One tempting him to disobey, so he decided to be clever and make a deal. He would only get the ladder if there was strawberry jam for tea, knowing his aunt would secretly say no.


  • Gleefully: In a happy and excited way.
  • Store cupboard: A small room or cupboard where food and other household supplies are kept.
  • Discernment: The ability to judge wisely and objectively.
  • Over-indulged in: Done something too much or too often.Enjoyed something too much.
  • Luxuries: Things that are expensive and enjoyable but not necessary.
  • Noisily: In a way that makes a lot of noise.
  • Kitchenmaid: A young female servant who works in a kitchen.
  • Parsley: A green herb used for flavouring.
  • Partaken of: Taken part in an activity, especially eating or drinking.
  • Fearsome silence: A very deep and serious silence.
  • Tide: The regular rise and fall of the sea level.
  • Jagborough Cove: A small bay or inlet near Jagborough.
  • Overlooked: Failed to notice or consider something.
  • Punitive expedition: A military operation intended to punish an enemy.
  • Disastrous: Very bad or unfortunate.
  • Temper: A person’s tendency to become angry or annoyed easily.
  • Muteness: The state of being silent.
  • Frozen muteness: A complete and unbroken silence.
  • Undignified: Lacking in dignity or self-respect.
  • Unmerited: Not deserved or justified.
  • Detention: The act of keeping someone in a particular place, especially as a punishment.
  • Absorption: The complete attention of the mind.
  • Huntsman: A person who hunts animals with hounds.
  • Hounds: Hunting dogs.
  • Striken: Wounded or injured.
  • Stag: A fully grown male deer.

Explanation: Nicholas outsmarted his aunt! He realized her shouts were coming from the rain barrel, not the garden, and knew she was stuck. He pretended to believe she was the Evil One tempting him to disobey by getting the ladder. He tricked her into revealing there was strawberry jam (which she denied having) and then left her there. A maid eventually found the aunt, who was very grumpy after her ordeal.
Meanwhile, the children’s beach trip was a disaster. The tide was high, so there was no beach to play on, and Bobby’s tight boots made him cranky. Everyone had a terrible time.
Nicholas, however, was content in his own world. He pondered the fate of the hunter in the tapestry, wondering if he’d escape the wolves.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Apok

    Would love to have The Lumber Room questions and answers from you. Notes from Windchime Coursebook 7 are quite helpful. Thank you Sirji tutorial for your wonderful explanation and solutions.

    1. Sirji

      Coincidental comment as I am just going to post Q & Ans.

Leave a Reply