Just as Saki used the toast to underline Conradin’s victory at the end of Sredni Vashtar, he uses the tapestry to suggest Nicholas’s sense of triumph in the Lumber-Room. Like the toast; the tapestry appears twice and is used to convey different moods at different stages of the story. However, its function seems to be even more important than that of the toast. The description of the tapestry appears in the centre of the story and forms its heart. When it is described the texture of the writing changes.
There seems to be more pressure behind the language as Saki uses vivid imagery and catches the rhythm of Nicholas’s mind to convey his fascination with the hunting scene. The presentation of the tapestry foregrounds it to such an extent that it seems to become a story-within-a-story. The hunter and his dogs, the wounded stag and the approaching wolves appear to connect with the main narrative in interesting ways. Nicholas’s first response to the scene is pessimistic: “He was inclined to think that there were more than four wolves and that the man and his dogs were in a tight corner.
” At this point Nicholas is the hunter, the stag is the aunt, the arrow in the stag represents the frog in the bread-and-milk and the wolves may see justice. Nicholas is still thinking about the tapestry at the end of the story, but now his conclusion is more optimistic: “It was just possible, he considered, that the huntsman would escape with his hounds while the wolves feasted on the stricken stag. ” By this stage Nicholas has succeeded in excusing himself from rescuing his aunt from the rain-water tank and has learnt that the other children did not enjoy their day at Jagborough Cove.
These two events undermine the aunt’s attempts to punish Nicholas and his spirits soar. His final opinion of the scene depicted on the tapestry reflects his happiness and growing sense of confidence in his own abilities. He is still the hunter and his aunt the stag, but now the arrow in the stag may correspond to the aunt in the rain-water tank. The dogs stand for Nicholas’s conscious tactics, while the wolves represent his imagination and resourcefulness. The wolves will feast on the stag just as Nicholas’s hungry imagination devoured the contents of the lumber-room.
Saki often seems to underwrite his male characters by connecting them to nature and wild animals and his female characters are denied this bond. Thirza Yealmton is killed by a wild swan after spoiling her husband’s paradise and Mrs De Ropp is killed by Conradin’s polecat-ferret, so it is not too far-fetched to assume that the wolves will be Nicholas’s ‘allies’ in his battle with his aunt. Nicholas has won the battle and proved himself other “wiser and better” than his hypocritical and vindictive aunt, but will he win the war? Her “frozen muteness” at tea that evening suggests that she will seek revenge in the near future.