The Mouse Summary
“The Mouse” is a 1910 short story by Saki about Theodoric Voler, an oversensitive man who is mortified when he discovers a mouse in his clothes.
- Theodoric is on a train when he realizes there is a mouse crawling under his clothes. There is a woman in his train compartment, but she is sleeping.
- Theodoric partially undresses and removes the mouse, but in the process, he wakes up the woman. He feels intensely embarrassed to be seen in such a state.
- He tries to explain his situation, but as the story ends, the woman reveals that she is blind.
Last Updated on December 9, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 709
Theodoric Voler is a middle-aged man who has led a very sheltered life. His mother, who is now deceased, always tried to shield him from any aspect of human existence which he might find ugly or upsetting, with the result that he now finds everyday experiences to be full of minor irritations of the sort that few else would notice.
As the story begins, Theodoric is embarking on a railway journey home from a vicarage in the country where he has been staying. Even this genteel environment has failed to live up to his exacting standards; when he was ready to leave, the pony carriage had not been prepared to take him to the station. He was obliged to go into the stable and harness the pony to the carriage himself, with the help of the vicar’s daughter. On the train, Theodoric is afraid that his clothes are in disarray and still smell of the stable, and he is embarrassed at the idea of appearing in public in such a state. He is thankful that the only other person in his compartment, a lady of about his own age, seems to be asleep and that his journey will be over in about an hour.
As the train pulls out of the station, Theodoric feels a movement inside his clothes. He soon realizes that a mouse must have attached itself to him while he was harnessing the pony in the stable. He tries to get rid of the mouse by stamping his feet and shaking himself, but the mouse refuses to be dislodged. It becomes clear to Theodoric that he will have to take off at least some of his clothes to rid himself of the mouse. He is horrified by the thought of undressing in front of a lady, even one who appears to be asleep, but he is equally appalled at the idea of spending the next hour on the train with a mouse climbing around inside his clothes. Eventually, he decides to create a makeshift screen by hanging a traveling rug from the luggage rack and then to undress behind it.
As soon as Theodoric has undressed and gotten rid of the mouse, the rug falls to the floor. At the same moment, the lady wakes up. Theodoric snatches up the rug and pulls it over him so that it covers his body. The lady does not give any sign of thinking it strange that he is covered by a rug, but Theodoric feels that an explanation is required and says that he thinks he has caught a cold. When the lady says that she was about to ask him to open the window, Theodoric amends his explanation, saying he might have malaria. The lady says that she has some brandy in her holdall and asks him to reach it down from the luggage rack. Any movement will reveal Theodoric’s nakedness, so he refuses the brandy and wonders whether he might be able to explain his predicament. He begins by asking the lady if she is afraid of mice. Having established that she is not, he confesses that he had a mouse crawling about in his clothes and that his attempts to get rid of it led to his current embarrassing situation.
The lady replies that she cannot understand how getting rid of a mouse would lead anyone to catch cold. Theodoric thinks that she must be enjoying his embarrassment, as she pretends not to notice that he is cowering under a rug. His discomfort grows as he reflects that they will soon arrive at their destination, where many more people will witness his humiliation. He hopes that the lady will go back to sleep, giving him an opportunity to put his clothes back on, but she shows no sign of doing so.
As they approach the station, Theodoric desperately flings aside the rug and struggles back into his clothes, ignoring the lady, who remains silent throughout the procedure. Finally, as the train stops, the lady speaks, asking Theodoric to summon a porter to take her to a taxi. She is sorry to bother him when he is feeling unwell, she says, but her blindness always makes it difficult for her to navigate railway stations.
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.
- 30,000+ book summaries
- 20% study tools discount
- Ad-free content
- PDF downloads
- 300,000+ answers
- 5-star customer support