What ghastly story did Vera tell in "The Open Window?"

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Vera is a "very self-possessed young lady of fifteen" who is a story teller. Evidently, she is a very good actress, very good at telling stories (and/or lying with a straight face). First, she finds out how much Mr. Nuttel knows about the people and the area. When he tells her he only knows Mrs. Sappleton's name and address, Vera knows that she can get away with making up a tale about Mrs. Sappleton. Being such a good actress and story teller, Vera knows she can tell Mr. Nuttel (whose nerves are shot anyway) any tale and he would be none the wiser. 

She begins by saying that Mrs. Sappleton's "tragedy" occurred three years ago. Vera is careful to place the incident at a time after Mr. Nuttel's sister had left the area. Vera claims that Mrs. Sappleton's husband, two brothers, and a dog went hunting three years ago and never returned, presumably victims of a bog. Vera indicates that Mrs. Sappleton is deluded and keeps the window open in the hope that they will return (even though, according to Vera, they have been gone for three years, presumed dead). 

Poor aunt always thinks that they will come back someday, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in at that window just as they used to do. That is why the window is kept open every evening till it is quite dusk. 

It turns out that Mr. Sappleton and the two brothers had left that very day. Vera made up the story to toy with Mr. Nuttel. When asked why Mr. Nuttel ran away, Vera continues to lie; she claims that Mr. Nuttel was once chased into a newly dug grave by a pack of "pariah dogs" and he fled when he saw Mr. Sappleton's spaniel. (Note the irony that Vera's name bears resemblance to the word "veracity" which means "truthfulness.") 

aszerdi | Student

Frampton is conversing with the niece, Vera, a rather confident and self-possesed young woman of fifteen, who tells him the following story about her aunt:

Her tragedy had occurred three years before in that "restful country" Frampton finds difficult to imagine tragedies in. Her husband and her two younger brother left the home through a window on a hunting expedition. They were crossing the moor when they became trapped in a bog. They never returned, and their bodies were never recovered. She leaves the window open every day until dusk with the hope that they will return.

Frampton, is of course remarkably frightened and unaware that the story is fictitious. His doctors have given him orders to remain at rest and free from any kind of excitement. When the husband and two brothers return from shooting, he runs off looking as though he has seen a ghost.

Vera's stories do not end here. She tells her aunt that Frampton ran away because is is afraid of the cocker spaniel after having been previously chased by a pack of dogs himself into a grave.