The Lumber Room

by Saki

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Why did the aunt send the children to Jagborough and exclude Nicholas?

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Nicholas's aunt—strictly-speaking, his cousins' aunt—sends the children to Jagborough as a treat, a reward for their good behavior. By the same token, Nicholas is not allowed to go because he's been badly behaved. Just that morning, Nicholas had refused to eat his bread and milk because he claimed there was a frog in it. His aunt thinks this is all a load of nonsense; it's just a way for Nicholas to avoid eating some good, wholesome food. She is older and wiser and as such knows better; she's on to Nicholas, or so she thinks. There was actually a frog in Nicholas's bread and milk—he put it there—but his aunt's not interested. As far as she's concerned he's talking nonsense and needs to be taught a lesson. In fact, the aunt hastily devised the excursion precisely in order to exclude Nicholas from going to punish him for his behavior. This strikes us as rather petty, to the say the least. It says something about the aunt's character that she comes up with what seems like a perfectly nice treat for the children simply to get back at Nicholas.

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The aunt arbitrarily decides to send all the children but Nicholas "to the sands at Jagborough." This trip to the beach is awarded to his younger brother and two cousins because they have not contradicted the "older, wiser, and better people." Nicholas, on the other hand, is "in disgrace" and must remain home because he complained of a frog being in his bowl of "wholesome bread and butter."

"The older, wiser, and better people" refute what he says, and even though Nicholas is proven to be correct—there really is a frog in his bowl because Nicholas put it there—he is punished. His cousins' aunt, who has appointed herself his aunt, as well, has decided that Nicholas's prank deserves punishment. Ironically, however, the aunt again defeats herself because she becomes trapped in a water tank in the gooseberry garden that Nicholas has been forbidden to enter. In addition, the other children did not have fun. When the children arrived at the beach, the tide was so high that the beach at Jagborough Cove was covered with water. Bobby did not have fun because his boots were tight and irritated him. Only Nicholas had an enjoyable afternoon; he secretly delighted in the books and tapestries of the lumber room. 

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