Thursday, April 8, 2010

"The Open window." Saki (HH Munro).

Review: Frampton Nuttel,  recovering from a nervous breakdown, is in the country. He calls on his neighbor, a Mrs. Sappleton. Her 15-year-old niece “entertains” him while Mrs. Sappleton, is upstairs .

She tells him the tale of how three years ago, to this day, Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and the niece’s two young brothers and their brown dog had left through the open window on the porch to go snipe hunting. They never came back, she says. The bog had been flooded and they slipped into the water and were never heard of again. This was the third anniversary of Mrs. Sappleton’s tragedy.

Mrs. Sappleton comes down stairs cheerily, greets Frampton, and says that she is sorry her husband isn’t there, but that he and her nephews had gone snipe hunting and would return soon. She obviously still imagines they are alive and she is waiting for them to come home. Frampton nods sympathetically to the niece. And then, suddenly, there appear on the lawn  the husband, nephew and dog crossing the lawn toward the open window.

Frampton lights out as fast as he can. The niece explains that he had once been hounded by wild packs of dogs and his fear of the brown dog is the reason for his hasty retreat. “Romance at short notice was her specialty.”

Famous Ghost Stories. Ed. Bennett Cerf. New York: The Modern Library. Random House, inc. 1944.

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