Why does the young lady ask Framton the initial set of questions?
Vera asks Framton Nuttel the initial set of questions in order to determine the likelihood of having a bit of fun with a seemingly nervous hypochondriac. As Vera entertains the new guest, she is secretly thrilled when she discovers that Framton knows nothing about her aunt, Mrs. Sappleton, nor does he know anyone in the neighborhood.
She proceeds to indulge her mischievous nature and spins a yarn about Mrs. Sappleton's husband and two brothers. Weaving a fantastically gothic tale of loss and grief, she confides in Framton that the three men mysteriously disappeared, three years ago to the day of Framton's visit. Mysteriously, she hints that the men likely perished in a 'treacherous piece of bog' while crossing the moor to their favorite hunting grounds. She asserts that Mrs. Sappleton always leaves the large French window which overlooks the lawn, open, just in case the three men ever find their way home again.
When Mrs. Sappleton joins Framton, she casually mentions that her husband and two brothers will be home from hunting soon and that the window has been left open for them. At this, Framton finds himself on the verge of nervous hysteria. He thinks that Mrs. Sappleton is a madwoman who is looking for ghosts. When Mrs. Sappleton eventually announces that the three men have returned in time for tea, Framton almost jumps out of his skin when he sees the horrified look on Vera's face and the direction of her gaze. When he turns to look out over the lawn, he can just make out the figures of three men approaching, with a spaniel at their heels. Without another word, Framton grabs wildly at his hat and walking stick and beats a hasty retreat from the Sappleton residence.