There were alleyways and roads bordered by teetering piles of broken and damaged furniture, stowed away, perhaps, to hide the evidence of mishandled magic, or else hidden by castle-proud house-elves.

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince

I have some difficulty understanding the part in bold. It seems to me that it's saying the broken and damaged furniture was stowed away to hide the evidence of mishandled magic and if it's not done so, the castle-proud house-elves would hide mishandled magic. Is that what it's saying? Does 'castle-proud house-elves' mean the house-elves who are proud of the castle?

1 Answer 1


It is offering two quite different possible reasons for the piles of furniture:

  1. Stowed away to hide the evidence of mishandled magic


  1. Hidden by castle-proud house-elves.

Castle-proud is not a common expression, but it is a deliberate variant on the idiom house-proud. It implies that the house-elves like their castles to look their best, so have hidden away furniture that is broken.

  • castle-proud is not an expression. It is merely literary writing.
    – Lambie
    Aug 4, 2019 at 16:17
  • 1
    The words "stowed away" are also part of the first option. The two past participles "stowed" and "hidden" are the main components of the parallel sentence structure.
    – aschepler
    Aug 4, 2019 at 20:14
  • You're right @aschepler: I missed that. I've edited it.
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 4, 2019 at 21:34

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