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Framton Nuttel is apparently a hypochondriac. He has consulted several doctors in London and they have found nothing physically wrong with him. They have suggested that he go to the country for a rest cure or nerve cure. This was about all doctors could prescribe in older times. Nowadays he would undoubtedly be consulting a psychiatrist in the city.
Framton's sister once stayed in the same pastoral region to which Framton is going. She gives him letters of introduction to various people she met while she was staying at the local vicarage about four years earlier.
"I know how it will be," his sister had said when he was preparing to migrate to this rural retreat; "you will bury yourself down there and not speak to a living soul, and your nerves will be worse than ever from moping. I shall just give you letters of introduction to all the people I know there. Some of them, as far as I can remember, were quite nice."
The Sappletons are one of the country families to whom a letter of introduction is addressed. Framton is obviously not keen about intruding on this family with a letter of introduction from a woman they probably only vaguely remember after four years; and Mrs. Sappleton is obviously not keen about having to meet a perfect stranger from the city. Framton's sister must have assumed that a family living in such a dull place as the English countryside would be pleased to meet someone from the big city. But this is not the case. Mrs. Sappleton finds Framton boring, and Vera considers him such a creep that she takes malicious pleasure in playing a diabolical practical joke on him.
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