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Framton Nuttel is the perfect victim for young Vera's elaborate practical joke. He has not exactly moved to the country but is staying there temporarily to get peace and quiet. His sister recommended this part of England because it is a place completely devoid of excitement. She has given him letters of introduction to a few of the residents who she met four years earlier, and he is meeting one of them for the first time at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sappleton.
Privately he doubted more than ever whether these formal visits on a succession of total strangers would do much towards helping the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing.
He does not explain his health problems to fifteen-year-old Vera, but he bores her aunt Mrs. Sappleton with more details than the lady cares to hear.
"The doctors agree in ordering me complete rest, an absence of mental excitement, and avoidance of anything in the nature of violent physical exercise," announced Framton, who laboured under the tolerably widespread delusion that total strangers and chance acquaintances are hungry for the least detail of one's ailments and infirmities, their cause and cure. "On the matter of diet they are not so much in agreement," he continued.
That last bit of information about diet suggests that Framton might be hoping to be invited to stay for dinner. He has only been invited for tea, but he might have been invited to dinner if he had not run off.
Saki was not the type of man who would feel much sympathy for a neurotic person like Framton Nuttel. Even the name he gives him suggests a lack of sympathy. Saki would probably have said that all of Framton's symptoms were purely imaginary. It is ironic that Framton specifies that he needs complete rest, absence of mental excitement, and avoidance of physical exercise, because Vera's practical joke is going to disturb his rest for a long time, as well as providing plenty of mental excitement and causing the poor man to go running down the road in fear of being pursued by a trio of ghosts carrying rifles.
Framton grabbed wildly at his stick and hat; the hall-door, the gravel-drive, and the front gate were dimly-noted stages in his headlong retreat. A cyclist coming along the road had to run into the hedge to avoid an imminent collision.
It would seem that Saki is suggesting that people like Framton Nuttel are looking for sympathy and attention they do not merit, and that what they really need is the kind of shaking up that Framton received from the totally unsympathetic and precocious young Vera.
Sympathy for human weakness and human suffering was not one of Saki's strong points. The moral of his short story "Dusk" appears to be that it is foolish to feel sorry for other people, that they should be forced to look out for themselves. Framton Nuttel is not bringing anything to the Sappletons or to Vera. He is not an interesting or an amusing person. He is all wrapped up in himself. He is mainly looking for pity and condolence from other people. He has more than one doctor in London, and they have been unable to find anything physically wrong with him, which is why they have sent him off to the country to rest.
The story is told in such a way that the reader sympathizes with Vera and laughs at poor Framton as he goes running down the country road. Vera is a likable girl in spite of her sadistic streak. She is not like her aunt in feeling duty-bound to put up with boring visitors.
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