What is the rising action in the story "The Open Window" by Saki?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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All of the rising action may be said to take place in Framton Nuttel's mind and emotions. First the very self-possessed young Vera tells him an unsettling story about how the three hunters and their dog were all sucked to their deaths in a bog, a truly horrible way to die. Vera leads Framton to believe that the tragedy caused her aunt to lose her mind and that after three years she is still leaving the French window open and waiting for her men to return. Then when Mrs. Sappleton arrives in the living-room her speech and behavior only seem to verify that the woman is insane.

"I hope you don't mind the open window," said Mrs. Sappleton briskly; "my husband and brothers will be home directly from shooting, and they always come in this way. They've been out for snipe in the marshes today, so they'll make a fine mess over my poor carpets. So like you menfolk, isn't it?"

Framton becomes more nervous because he believes he is dealing with a crazy woman. He is sitting with his back to the open window, so he thinks the woman must be having a delusion when she announces the arrival of the dead men she has been expecting for three years. 

"Here they are at last!" she cried. "Just in time for tea, and don't they look as if they were muddy up to the eyes!"

Instead of looking towards the open window, since he is sure there is no one out there, Framton turns to Vera "with a look intended to convey sympathetic comprehension." But the hitherto self-possessed girl is putting on an act of horror for the visitor. She is staring through the open window with a look of "dazed horror."

In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction.

He sees three men approaching the window with a little dog. They match the descriptions that Vera gave of them when she first told Framton her ghost story. And what makes it all the more frightening is that walking dead men are carrying guns. This is the peak of the rising action, all of which occurs inside Framton's imagination and jittery nerves. 

Framton grabbed wildly at his stick and hat; the hall door, the gravel drive, and the front gate were dimly noted stages in his headlong retreat. 

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