Tobermory Imagery

"A Babel-like chorus of startled exclamation arose, amid which the scientist sat mutely enjoying the first fruit of his stupendous discovery" (93)

Before the guests discover the dangers of teaching Tobermory to speak, they are enthralled by his ability. Saki uses a biblical allusion, describing the guests singing out like the people of Babylon. He blends this religious imagery with the image of a scientist who reservedly marvels at his successful innovation.

"Bertie van Tahn, who was so depraved at seventeen that he had long ago given up trying to be any worse, turned a dull shade of gardenia white" (95)

The guests have varied reactions to the suggestion that Tobermory will reveal their secrets. Bertie van Tahn apparently has much to hide and turns "gardenia white" when realizing the power Tobermory possesses over him. The gardenia is a white flower and represents not only innocence and purity but also self-reflection and clarity. In summoning the image of a gardenia, Saki may be pointing out that self-reflection and innocence sometimes contradict one another, particularly when one is reflecting on moral missteps.

"It was a chill, rain-washed afternoon of a late August day, that indefinite season when partridges are still in security or cold storage and there is nothing to hunt - unless one is bounded on the north by the Bristol Channel, in which case one may lawfully gallop after fat red stags" (91)

This is the opening line of the story. Saki's use of words like 'chill', 'rain-washed', 'security', and 'cold' foreshadow the way in which the party will quickly turn from merriment to gloom, as well as the way in which the Blemley estate becomes like a prison to the humans inside. Additionally, Saki uses geographic imagery to make clear that the story is set in Great Britain, which relates to his consistent musings on English society.