The Umbrella Man

by Roald Dahl

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How did the mother deal with her suspicions?

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When it comes to strange men, the narrator's mother has a golden rule: the nicer a man seems to be, the more suspicious you must become. As the umbrella man does indeed seem very nice, she is immediately suspicious of him. Polite, well-spoken, and every inch the gentleman, the umbrella man doesn't seem like the sort of person to elicit suspicion, but the narrator's mother has a golden rule and she's determined to stick to it.

The mother shows her suspicions by looking down her nose at the umbrella man. She gives him a cold, icy stare while he spins her a yarn about forgetting his wallet. For good measure, she speaks to the man in curt sentences, which she hopes will leave him in no doubt that she's not a woman to be trifled with, whatever he might think.

The narrator's mother is trying hard to stay in control of the situation, urging the umbrella man to hurry up with his story, but it's obvious that, despite her suspicions, she's starting to weaken a bit as the man's story appears so incredibly convincing. Eventually, she gives in, and hands him a pound for his taxi fare in return for his silk umbrella.

As she explains to her daughter, she was horrid to the man to begin with because she wanted to make sure he wasn't a trickster, but now that she's convinced that he's a gentleman, she has no qualms about giving him some money.

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