What is the summary of "The Mouse" by H. H. Munro?

Quick answer:

"The Mouse" is a short story about an uptight young man called Theodoric Voler who discovers that he has a mouse inside his clothing. Theodoric must get undressed in a train compartment to get the mouse out.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the beginning of the story, the author explains that Theodoric Voler's mother shielded him so much from the "coarser realities of life" that even the most simple things in life have become "crammed with petty annoyances and minor discords." Therefore, as he settles down in his train compartment, the author states that Theodoric feels a "general mental discomposure."

Theodoric has already had a difficult stay at a country vicarage. He'd even had to assist the vicar's daughter in preparing the pony that took him to the train station.

It was during his time in the stables with the vicar's daughter that a mouse must have nestled inside his clothing. He can feel it now, "a warm, creeping movement over his flesh." His face turns the color of beetroot. He knows that the only way he can rid himself of the mouse is to take off his clothes, but there is a woman in the carriage with him. Though she is asleep, he is paranoid that she will wake up and see him in a state of undress. He eventually decides to hang the compartment rug from the luggage racks and get undressed behind it.

In his hurry, however, he accidentally pulls the rug down just as the mouse escapes, waking the woman. Grabbing the fallen rug, he wraps it around his body.

Theodoric tells the woman that he thinks he has caught a fever. Perhaps, he tells her, it's malaria. As their conversation continues, Theodoric starts to think she is making fun of him. In reality, however, as finds out at the end of the story, she is blind.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The humorous short story "The Mouse" by H.H. Munroe, who also published under the name Saki, tells of a fastidious and uptight man named Theodoric Voler. He is taking an hour's train journey in a compartment with just one other passenger: a woman who seems to be asleep. He suddenly realizes that a mouse is crawling around inside his clothes.

Theodoric is mortified and tries to dislodge the rodent but is unsuccessful. He realizes that he'll have to partially undress. He rigs his railway rug to form a makeshift dressing room, takes off his clothes, and manages to get rid of the mouse. At this time, though, the woman seems to wake up, and Theodoric pulls the rug over his partially-naked body. To justify pulling the rug around his neck, he says he has caught a chill. The train is approaching the station, and he has to get dressed, but he doesn't see how he can do it without the woman seeing. He throws the rug aside, dresses quickly, and sits down again in humiliation. At this time, the woman reveals to him that she is blind. His elaborate attempts to hide were pointless, as she couldn't see him anyway.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The protagonist of this story, Theodoric Voler, grew up with a mother whose goal was to shield her son from what she called "the coarser realities of life." Mice were included in this category. After his mother has died, Voler is traveling on a train after having stayed at a country vicarage. He notices that there is a mouse in his train compartment, which is also occupied by a sleeping woman. 

The mouse wiggles its way into his clothing, and Voler realizes that the only way to dislodge the mouse is to remove his clothing. He is loathe to do so because of the woman in his compartment. He hangs a rug up in his compartment, behind which he removes his clothes and dislodges the mouse. However, the escaping mouse causes the rug to fall, waking the woman and revealing Voler in a semi-clothed state. He tells the woman he has a chill, and he ignores her request to open the window and to reach down to get her brandy. He tells her about the mouse, and she remarks in a way that he considers far too humorous that it's strange that a mouse brought about a chill. When they are nearing their destination, Voler throws off the rug and quickly pulls on his clothes, feeling embarrassed. As they arrive at the station, the woman asks him to get her a porter to help her to a cab, as she is blind. Voler has been so self-centered that he hasn't realized that his companion can't see and that he worried over nothing.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is one of Saki's lighter and more purely humorous stories.  It concerns a fussy and socially awkward man named Theodoric Voler and the difficulties he has when he is on a train and finds that there is a mouse climbing up the leg of his pants.

Voler is one of only two people in a train car.  The other is a woman.  Soon after the journey starts, Voler realizes the mouse is in his pants.  He can't get it out without taking his pants at least partly off and he is way too shy to do that.

But the woman seems to be asleep.  So Voler uses a heavy blanket to make a partition and then gets the mouse out of his pants.  As he does so, the partition falls and the woman awakes.  He grabs the blanket around his neck.

Voler then makes awkward attempts to explain why he is covered by the heavy blanket.  He struggles to explain why he can't stand up.  He is completely unsure as to how he can get his clothes back on and the station is rapidly approaching.

The story ends with the woman saying

"Would you be so kind," she asked, "as to get me a porter to put me into a cab? It's a shame to trouble you when you're feeling unwell, but being blind makes one so helpless at a railway station."

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial