The plot of "The Stout Gentleman" by Washington Irving is a slender one. The narrator of the story has been confined indoors due to a fever. He is staying at an inn in Derby, in England, and it is a very wet day. Bored and lonely, the narrator can no longer stay in his room and goes out in search of the travelers' room, hoping to find someone to talk to.
There are some people in the room, but they don't speak to him, so the narrator goes to the window and starts watching the people passing on their way to church. Tired of this, he then begins to read a magazine, which doesn't hold his interest either.
In the middle of the morning, a stagecoach appears, and a lot of dogs and boys all come running out to help. This excitement swiftly disappears, however. Eventually the narrator overhears a waiter say that "the stout gentleman in No 13" wants his breakfast. This idea catches the narrator's fancy, and he begins to wonder who the stout gentleman is.
He begins to consider whether the gentleman is well to do, especially after the breakfast is sent back for being imperfect. The narrator asks the waiter who the stout gentleman is, but the waiter does not know his name.
Various further incidents occur; the stout gentleman upsets a servant girl, but then when the landlady goes up to see him, she returns smiling. This makes the narrator reconsider what sort of man he might be. He wonders about the man's occupation and hopes he will come to dinner.
However, the narrator does not see him that night; the next morning, when the stout gentleman is leaving, the narrator just catches a glimpse of his backside as he gets into the coach.