In "The Open Window," what does Vera ask Framton Nuttel to break the silence?  

In "The Open Window," Vera asks Framton whether he knows anybody in the neighborhood. She asks him this not only to break the silence that ensues after she welcomes him into her aunt's house, but also to determine what kind of tales she can concoct to fool him for her own entertainment.

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Vera asks Framton Nuttel whether he knows many people in their locality. She asks him this to break the silence that ensues after she welcomes him into her aunt’s house. Moreover, it would appear that Vera wants to know more about Framton to strategize on how to dupe him using one of her many concocted tales. The story explains that Vera’s specialty was “romance at short notice,” and thus, she probes Framton to ensure that he knows nothing of her aunt and her living circumstances, for she wants to use this as a basis upon which to create a morbid story to scare poor Framton.

When Vera realizes that Framton is a stranger in the locality and that the only link he has with the residents of the locality is letters of introduction given to him by his sister, who lived at the nearby rectory some four years past, she cannot believe her luck. She goes on to fabricate a story about a big tragedy that happened to her aunt, Mrs. Sappleton, some three years past. Vera claims that her aunt lost her husband, two young brothers, and a spaniel in a bog accident and that since then, her aunt has been leaving the big window leading to the lawns open in the evening, in the belief that her loved ones will reappear from their hunting trip in the moor any day.

Therefore, when the two are joined by Mrs. Sappleton, who unknowingly reaffirms the tale spun by the cunning Vera by talking incessantly about her husband and two brothers who have gone hunting, Framton is lost for words. It comes as no surprise to the reader that when the three hunters emerge from the moor and are seen through the open window, Framton bolts out of the house as if he has seen a ghost.

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In "The Open Window" Mrs. Sappleton sends her fifteeen-year-old niece down to talk to their visitor Framton Nuttel for a few minutes before she puts in her own appearance. No doubt, the aunt is training the girl to be a gracious hostess like herself and giving her a little solo experience with this stranger. Vera seems not only mischievous but rebellious and resentful at being molded into the tedious domestic role being prepared for her as a housewife and mother confined to a country estate where there is never anything to do but shoot birds and talk about shooting birds. She is almost like a adolescent Hedda Gabler. She looks sweet and innocent, but inside she is burning up. She despises her aunt, who apparently doesn't even read books, and who she knows will talk about nothing but killing birds while she waits for the all-important males in her life to return through the open window.

"Do you know many of the people round here?" asked the niece, when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion.

Vera isn't only trying to break the silence but also to find out if Framton knows anything about her family.

"Hardly a soul," said Framton. "My sister was staying here, at the rectory, you know, some four years ago, and she gave me letters of introduction to some of the people here."

"Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?" pursued the self-possessed young lady.

"Only her name and address," admitted the caller.

This is all the assurance Vera needs in order to go ahead and make up her fantastic story about how the three men went hunting and were engulfed in a bog exactly three years ago. Saki twice describes her as "self-possessed." She certainly does seem self-possessed -- but this characteristic will make her story seem all the more credible when she pretends to lose that self-possession.

Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece with a look intended to convey sympathetic comprehension. The child was staring out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction.

The reader can imagine the kind of face this precocious girl is making: with wide eyes and open mouth and all the blood draining from her face. She is an actress as well as a story-teller.

Poor Framton came to the country hoping to cure his nerves.

"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 wide-spread delusion that total strangers and chance acquaintances are hungry for the least detail of one's ailments and infirmities, their causes and cure. "On the matter of diet they are not so much in agreement," he continued.

Framton will not only get plenty of mental excitement, but he will  get plenty of violent physical exercise when he goes running out of the house and all the way down a country road. His mention of "the matter of diet" sounds like a hint that he might like to be invited to stay for supper. He seems to be suggesting that he is not particularly fastidious about what he can and cannot eat. Vera must have found him a terrible bore and may have wanted to forestall having him as a guest at dinner. In any case, she was wise to scare him out of the house before he had an opportunity to find out that the three men were not really ghosts and her aunt was not really so crazy.

 

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