Rameau's Niece

by Cathleen Schine

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When does the reader realize that the niece has been lying to Framton in Rameau's Niece?

Quick answer:

We realize that Vera has been lying to Framton when her uncle and brothers-in-law approach the open window after a day's hunting. As part of an elaborate ghost story, Vera had told Framton that the men had died in a hunting accident and that ever since then her aunt has left the window open in case they return. Now we know that they're alive and well. Unfortunately for Framton, he doesn't.

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Vera has been expertly spinning poor old Framton Nuttel an almighty yarn. Sensing that Framton's the shy, nervous type, she immediately sees him as the perfect butt of the cruel prank she wants to play. So Vera proceeds to tell him a shaggy dog story about her uncle and brothers-in-law dying as the result of a tragic accident while they were out hunting one day. Apparently, they drowned in a muddy bog and no one has seen hide nor hair of them ever since.

Vera then tells Framton that her aunt, who's clearly in denial over the tragic events of three years ago, has left the large sitting-room window open in the hope that the three men will one day return. Just as Vera had hoped, Framton appears to have fallen for the story hook, line, and sinker. He's in a highly nervous, agitated state, which is just what Vera hoped he'd be. Now, all that's required is one more component of her dastardly plan to fall into place and then she'll have played the perfect prank on her unsuspecting guest.

After exchanging a few banal pleasantries with Vera's aunt, Framton is horrified to see three men approaching the open window. It's Vera's uncle and brothers-in-law, the very people she assured him were dead. At this point, we realize that Vera has been lying and that she's been playing a joke on poor old Framton. Unfortunately, Framton doesn't realize it's a joke, and so immediately takes off, scared stiff by what he thinks are ghosts.

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