What are some comedic elements in ''The Mouse'' by Saki?

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While Saki writes social satire that is often biting, frequently it is amusing as it is in his short story "The Mouse." Demonstrating both sparkling wit and good humor, this story deals with a rather unconventional subject and practical jokes on the main character. As such, Saki's light-hearted ridicule of the foibles of human nature is an experience many enjoy.

It is the fastidious nature of Theodoric Voler, who is part of an Edwardian society which has screened him from "the coarser realities of life," that Saki satirizes so humorously in his story. When he is forced to help the vicar's daughter with harnessing the pony to the carriage which will carry him to the railroad station, Voler is repulsed by the "ill-lighted building called a stable" that smells of hay and mice. A narrative voice that is imitative of the supercilious Voler describes his thoughts, exemplifying how sanitized his life has been, and especially, how superior he has felt himself:

Without being actually afraid of mice, Theodoric classed them among the coarser incidents of life, and considered that Providence, with a little exercise of moral courage, might long ago have recognised that they were not indispensable, and have withdrawn them from circulation.

After having boarded the train, Theodoric worries that he may have inhaled mold from the hay. Then, too, he is concerned about his privacy as he notices a woman occupying the compartment with him. Even worse, he realizes that he is not alone with the sleeping lady; "he was not even alone in his clothes," Saki adds, with humor.

Theodoric worries about how he will get the mouse out of his clothes in front of another passenger because he has "never shown so much as his work socks in the presence of the fair sex." He tries to remove the rodent from his clothing by hanging his railway rug between him and the sleeping woman. Then, as the mouse scampers up and down his body, Theodoric struggles to extricate the pest "in violent haste." Finally, it falls from his clothes, but the mouse knocks down the rug between the woman and him. The modest Theodoric is mortified, of course, but the woman seems undaunted. He quickly pulls the rug over him. Then he notices that the train is about to arrive at the station. Theodoric must dress somehow. With satiric humor, Saki writes,

Like a hunted beast breaking cover and dashing madly toward some other haven of momentary safety he threw aside his rug, and struggled frantically into his disheveled garments.

Afterwards, Theodoric feels a choking and pounding feeling in his throat; there seems to be an icy stare pointed toward him, but he is afraid to look. Then, as the train slows, the woman asks if he would be so kind as to find her a porter who can get her into a cab, as she is blind. Certainly, this ironic twist adds much humor to the tale as all Theodoric's fastidious efforts at concealment of his person have been superfluous.

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