illustration of a young girl looking out a window at ghostly figures

The Open Window

by Saki

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According to Vera, what was the great tragedy that had happened to her aunt and family?

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At the beginning of the story, Vera introduces herself to Framton Nuttel, who intends to meet Vera's aunt, Mrs. Sappleton. After asking Framton several questions, Vera discovers that he is a neurotic, timid man who is not familiar with her aunt or the region. Vera realizes that Framton will be easily frightened and recognizes an opportunity to tell him an elaborate tale about her aunt in hopes of scaring him when her uncle returns to the house.

Vera proceeds to fabricate an unsettling story about why Mrs. Sappleton keeps her rather large French window open. Vera tells Framton that three years ago, Mrs. Sappleton's husband and two brothers went on a shooting expedition and drowned in a treacherous piece of bog. Vera explains to Framton that the men never returned, and their bodies were never recovered. According to Vera, Mrs. Sappleton keeps the French window open in anticipation of their return.

Vera knows that Mrs. Sappleton's husband and brothers will return shortly from their shooting excursion. When the men return, Vera purposely looks frightened, and Framton is horrified at the sight of the men approaching. He is fooled by Vera's story and believes that the men are actually ghosts. Framton responds by sprinting out of the house, and Vera proceeds to make up another story explaining Framton's irrational behavior.

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