The Open Window Summary

"The Open Window" by Saki is a 1914 short story about Framton Nuttel, who is frightened by the fanciful lies of his new neighbors' niece, Vera.

  • While visiting his neighbors, Framton meets Vera, who explains that her uncle and his brothers-in-law drowned in a moor three years ago on a hunting trip. Her aunt leaves the window open because she believes they will eventually return.

  • When the hunters, who actually only left that morning, return, Framton believes they are ghosts and flees. Vera explains his departure as a result of his fear of dogs, triggered by the appearance of the hunters' spaniel.


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Framton Nuttel arrives at the home of the Sappletons, with whom he is not acquainted. He is greeted by Vera, a “self-possessed” fifteen-year-old girl who says that her aunt, Mrs. Sappleton, will arrive soon to greet him.

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Framton silently reflects on his recent move to the area, which he refers to as a “rural retreat.” His sister, who once lived here, had worried that he would seclude himself. Thus she drafted up some letters of introduction so that Framton could meet some of her local acquaintances. Framton, for his part, worries that these social visits will worsen his nerves, and he notes that he is currently undergoing a “nerve cure.”

When Vera inquires, Framton reveals his lack of social contacts in the area as well as his sister’s efforts to make introductions for him. Vera then notes that Framton and his sister would not know about Mrs. Sappleton’s “great tragedy,” which occurred three years ago. Framton confirms his ignorance on the matter and feels surprised that tragedy could strike such a placid place.

Vera gestures towards a large French window, which has been opened, despite the October weather. Framton asks whether the open window is related to Mrs. Sappleton’s tragedy.

Vera tells the story of the tragedy. On this day three years ago, Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and her two younger brothers departed through the French window to go hunting for snipe across a nearby moor. Given the wetness of the prior summer, the softened earth swallowed up the three men, who have never been seen since. In her grief, Mrs. Sappleton keeps the window open every day until sundown, for she still expects the three men to return from their hunt with their brown spaniel. Mrs. Sappleton has told Vera of the manner of their departure, with her husband carrying his white coat over his arm and her brother Ronnie jestingly remarking, “Bertie, why do you bound?” 

Vera trembles as she finishes the story, at which point her aunt bursts into the room, apologizing for her lateness and expressing her hope that Vera has been “amusing.” 

Mrs. Sappleton then remarks on the open window, noting that she has kept it open because she is expecting the return of her husband and brothers, who have gone hunting for snipe. As she goes on discussing the topic of bird-hunting, Framton is horrified to witness her grief-stricken fixations. He tries to bring up other subjects, but Mrs. Sappleton is inattentive and continues to look at, and beyond, the open window.

(The entire section contains 711 words.)

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