This is one of Saki’s more light-hearted and amusing tales, cantered around a finicky and socially awkward man named Theodoric Voler and his struggles during a train journey. While on board, he discovers a mouse climbing up his pant leg, a result of his earlier delay in arriving at the station and having to harness his own pony in the absence of the handyman. Voler grew up with a mother who shielded him from what she deemed “coarser realities of life,” including mice.
Voler’s compartment is shared by a sleeping woman, and he soon realizes that the only way to remove the mouse is to disrobe. However, he is hesitant to do so in front of his fellow traveller. He improvises a curtain using a rug, behind which he sheds his clothes and frees himself of the mouse. Unfortunately, the mouse’s escape causes the curtain to fall, and the woman awakens to find Voler half-naked. He attempts to explain that he caught a chill and disregards her requests for brandy and fresh air. The woman’s reaction to the mouse in his pants is not to Voler’s liking.
As they near their destination, Voler discards the rug and hastily dons his clothes, feeling ashamed. It is only then that he learns that his companion is blind and requires assistance in finding a cab. Voler’s self-absorption prevented him from realizing that his worries were unfounded.
come across – to meet or find someone by chance, अचानक मिलना
drive – to push, force or make do something extreme,
awkward – causing embarrassment, difficult, बेढंगा, बेतरतीब ओर भद्दा
bring up – to rear or educate, raise, पालन-पोषण करना, पढ़ना-लिखाना इत्यादि
infancy – childhood, बचपना
fond – loving and caring, प्यार-दुलार करने वाला
sheltered – protected, सुरक्षित शरण या आश्रय में
coarser – rough and unpleasant, not fine and easy,
settled – to get into a comfortable position by sitting or lying, आराम की स्थिति में होना
conscious – knowing and aware, जानना, पता होना
harness – to make use of, here it means attaching straps to fasten the carriage with the pony so that pony could drag and carry it, काम में लाना
handyman – a person good at jobs doing or making repairing things in or outside the home, सर्वकर्मकार
grope – try to find by feeling with your hands, टटोलना
providence – nature, the creator of the world, विधाता
circulation – existing and in use, प्रसार-प्रचलन में होना
glide – moving smoothly and quietly, सरकना
fortunately – luckily,
occupant – a person who is in a vehicle seat, सीट पर आसीन बैठा या लेटा हुआ
terminus – end of the railway or bus route, रास्ते का अंतिम पड़ाव
communication – to tell, talk or get in touch, संपर्क
companion – friend or colleague, साथी
intrude on -to come, move or get into when not expected or wanted, an unwelcome entry, घुस आना
semi – almost half, आधा
semi-privacy – shared privacy with a person, अपनी निजता किसी के बांटना
scarcely – hardly, only just, सिर्फ या मुश्किल से ही
evidently – clearly, साफ-साफ
dashed – rushed, throw to fall and beat against a surface, कूद कर आ गिरना
furtive – stealthily, चुपके से छुप कर
dislodge – to knock or move out of place, किसी को उसके स्थान से हटाना
drastic – extreme, कोई बड़ा कदम
disrobe – remove the clothing, वस्त्र उतारना
ease – to reduce discomfort or difficulties and troubles, आसानी, चैन, राहत
tormentor – causing sifferinf and pain, सतानेवाला
worthy – deserving, well acceptable, suitable, उपयुक्त, काबिल ओर योग्य
tingle – feel a prickly sensation, सनसनाहट
blush – reddening of face out of shame or embarrassment, गालों का लाल होना
fright – fear, डर
temper – mood, anger, मिजाज,गुस्सा, खीज
goad into – incite to do something, provoke by annoying, इतना उकसाना की मजबूर हो कर कोई कदम उठा ले
audacious – bold and daring, taking risky and shocking action, हिम्मती, साहसी
undertaking -taking some work in hand to do, किसी काम को करने का जिम्मा लेना
hue – colour, रंग
rug – carpet, कालीन, गलीचा,
to rid of – to get free from, छुटकारा पाना
fastening – tying something, बांधना
retreat – to move back, पीछे हटना
stare – to look fixedly, घूरना
venture – dare, साहस करना
desperately – without hope of any or much success, हताशा में
chattering of teeth – to knock teeth together out of cold or fear, किटकिटाना
holdall – a big bag, बड़ा बैग, बिस्तरबंद
earnestly – in a serious and serious manner, गंभीर ओर ईमानदारी से
amused – feeling entertained, मजाक-मस्ती में
abominable – extremely unpleasant, very bad, nasty and hateful, घिनौना, घटिया
detect – learn or find out, पता लगाना, जान जाना
predicament – an unpleasant situation, दुर्दशा
confusion – puzzled, not clear in mind or decisions, उलझन, घबराया या चकराया हुआ
mobilised – gathered or collected, इकट्ठा करना
concentrate – get collected at one place, एक जगह इकट्ठा हो जाना
reflection -careful thinking, सही स्थिति का आभास होना, स्थिति पर विचार करना
assert – dominate, हावी होना
sheer – only, absolute, सिर्फ
humiliate – insult, बेइज्जती
relapse – to return back to former state or position, वापस पहले वाली स्थिति में चले जाना
blessed – very happy, खुश
presently – at that time, उस समय
stacks – piles, ढ़ेर सारा
dwellings – settlements, बस्तियां
herald – signal or indication of something to come, किसी के आने की सूचना देना
signal – indication or hint, इशारा
haven – a secure place of rest or safety, सुरक्षित आश्रय
frantically – in excitement out of emotion or frustration, जैसी की पागलपन से आनन-फानन में कदम उठाना
dishevelled – very untidy, unkempt, अस्त-व्यस्त
delirious – extremely anxious and worried, बहुत चिंतित
Textbook Exercise Questions
- Theodoric was sheltered from life’s harsh realities by his fond mother.
- A mouse darted into Theodoric’s clothing during his train journey, causing him discomfort.
- While harnessing the pony in the stable, a mouse found its way into Theodoric’s clothes.
- Theodoric was faced with a dilemma when the mouse began to move around in his clothes. He couldn’t continue with the mouse in his clothes for an hour, but partially disrobing only caused more discomfort.
- As Theodoric attempted to partially remove his clothing, his female companion slept through it. When she awoke, she noticed his predicament and found it amusing.
- Theodoric improvised a curtain by tying his railway rug to the carriage racks on both sides of the compartment. He managed to remove the mouse by partially removing his clothing.
- a. Theodoric Voler.
b. A mouse was moving over his flesh.
c. A woman was travelling with him.
- a. Theodoric was ‘crimsoning’ because was nervous as he had got partially rid of his clothes.
b. He was keeping a worried watch over his fellow traveller because he wanted to get rid
of the mouse by partially getting rid of the mouse. He did not want her and himself to be
uncomfortable and face an awkward situation.
c. He tied the ends of the railway rug to the racks and made a partial dressing room for himself in the
railway compartment. He did this to create a partial screen to get rid of the mouse.
- a. ‘She’ here is the woman in the compartment.
b. She stared silently at Theodoric because she had just got up and could not comprehend what
was happening. Besides, she was also blind.
c. The ‘present posture’ of Theodoric Voler was when he was still dressing himself up and as soon
as his co-traveller got up, he pounced on the rug, held it under his chin and retreated into the
farther corner of the carriage.
- Theodoric was raised in a sheltered environment by his mother, who was very fond of him and protected him from the harsh realities of life.
- Theodoric’s clothes carried the scent of mice and stable due to his need to search for his way in the poorly lit stable before settling in a second-class railway compartment.
- Theodoric shared his compartment with a female traveler.
- Theodoric found the compartment suitable for his needs as his fellow occupant, a woman of similar age, was asleep, and the train was not due to stop until reaching the terminus. The compartment lacked a corridor, and therefore, he was unlikely to be disturbed by any other traveling companion, providing him with semi-privacy.
- Theodoric hung a curtain across the compartment by tying his railway rug’s ends to the carriage’s racks. He removed his clothes and successfully eliminated the mouse’s presence.
- The woman who shared the compartment with Theodoric asked him to find a porter to assist her in getting into the cab. She then revealed that she was blind, which came as a shock to him.
7. The author employs abundant humour throughout the story, particularly in the scene where the Theodoric sets up a makeshift screen and proceeds to undress himself. Several examples from the text illustrate this:
Some instances from the text are:
‘He hoped his fellow traveller might relapse into blessed slumber, but that was not to be.’
‘With a movement almost quicker than the mouse’s, Theodoric pounced on the rug…’;
‘Are you afraid of mice?’ he asked, growing, if possible, redder in the face.
- Theodoric valued his privacy above all else and took great care to create a partial screen using whatever materials he could find, while also displaying respect towards women. However, he was easily frightened, as demonstrated by his unsuccessful attempts to remove a small mouse, which caused him great distress.
- Theodoric was occasionally bitten by the mouse and it was responsible for bringing down a curtain, leading to an embarrassing situation for him.
- The most surprising and humorous element of the story is its ending. The readers’ perception and mood suddenly shift when they discover that the woman Theodoric was attempting to undress was actually blind, rendering his efforts pointless and foolish. This unexpected twist successfully wraps up the story, tying together all the humorous incidents that occurred throughout.
1. b, 2. c, 3. e, 4. f, 5. g, 6. a, 7. d
1. dear, 2. tutor, 3. report, 4. ink, 5. sister, 6. pool, 7. cheap, 8. west, 9. leaf, 10. note
1, c, 2. j, 3. f, 4. b, 5. i, 6. g, 7. e, 8. d, 9. a, 10. h
- wore 2. wandered 3. had performed 4. had forgotten 5. had been making 6. was always complaining 7. were sitting 8. had been thinking 9. had been preparing 10. had been living
1. will carry
2. will open
3. will be playing
4. will be leaving
5. will have left
6. will have received
7. will have been working
8. will have been practising
9. will have been painting 10.
10. will have been waiting