The Open Window, Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 7 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words
The Open Window Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 7– Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words and literary devices used in the poem. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with the summary. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson
Class 8 English (It so Happened Book) Lesson 7 – The Open Window
By Saki (H.H. Munro)
The Open Window- Introduction
The open window by H.H. Munro tells us a story where a fifteen year old’s lie was just about to be caught. Mrs Sappleton’s niece, in order to entertain her guest Framton Nuttel, made-up a story about how her aunt’s husband and two brothers once went shooting through a window three years ago and never came back. This is the explanation she gives behind the open window on an unusually hot afternoon. The reality takes a turn when her aunt’s husband and the two brothers can be seen returning through the window, which scares Mr Nuttel away. To explain Mr Nuttel’s response, the fifteen year old once again makes up a story. Because, after all, “Romance at short notice was her specialty”.
The Open Window- Summary
The open window by H. H. Munro begins with Vera, the fifteen year old niece of Mrs Suppleton trying to put up with her aunt’s guest named Framton Nuttel till her aunt shows up. Framton Nuttel had come to the country for his nerve cure. His sister knew that he would isolate himself and not socialise at all during this rural retreat so she gave him a few letters of introduction. She knew some of the people in the countryside as she stayed there four years ago and one of those people was Mrs Sappleton. Further, upon being asked by Vera, Mr Nuttel confessed that he only knew her aunt’s name and address. To entertain the guest till her aunt came, Vera told Mr Nuttel about the tragic event that happened around three years ago. She showed him a French window that was left open on an October afternoon (an usual time to leave the window open as it was hot during that time of the year) and told him it was open because her aunt awaited the return of her husband, two brothers and a sapien who went shooting three years ago and never returned. While crossing the moor to their favourite shooting ground all three of them were engulfed in a treacherous piece of marsh and their bodies could never be recovered. She told him how her husband went out with a white waterproof coat over his arm, and Ronnie, her youngest brother, singing ‘Bertie, why do you bound?’ as he always did to tease her, because she said it got on her nerves. Her aunt thus, kept the window open every day till date until it was quite dusk, expecting for them to return.
After a while, Mrs Suppleton enters the scene apologising for letting her guest wait. In order to ensure that her guest was comfortable, she asked Mr Nuttel if he was bothered with the open window. She further told him that she had kept it open for her husband and two brothers who were supposed to return from shooting and they always came in this way. Moreover, she did not want their muddy toes to mess her carpets up. She continued talking about their shooting while Mr Nuttel made a desperate attempt to change the topic to something less horrifying. He began speaking about his illness and what the doctors had suggested to him but nothing that he said could win Mrs Suppleton’s complete attention. He was aware that he only got a proportion of Mrs Sappleton’s attention as she was more focused on the window behind him and the lawn beyond. As he continued speaking, Mrs Suppleton got all excited and cheerful. It was not his talking about anything that amused her but the sight of her husband, two brothers and the brown sapien returning home that made her all excited. Not knowing what was behind him, Mr Nuttel looked at Vera with a sympathetic look but Vera stared out of the window in a dazed horror. Thus, when Mr Nuttel turned in his chair and saw three figures coming through the deepening twilight, looking exactly as Vera described (when they went out three years ago, according to her tragic story), he grabbed his hat and his stick and ran away. On his way, he almost collided with a cyclist.
When her husband, two brothers and the sapien came back, they asked about the man who left as soon as they entered. Mrs Suppleton told them that he was some strange man who kept on talking about his illness and he left even without saying a word of goodbye. She further mentioned that he ran away as if he had seen a ghost. Vera told everyone that he must have gotten scared on seeing the sapien as he told her that he was scared of dogs. She told them that he was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the banks of the Ganges by a pack of dogs, and had to spend the night in a newly dug grave with the creatures snarling and grinning and foaming just above him. She mentioned that it was enough to make someone frightened.
Thus, romance at short notice was her speciality, indeed.
The Open Window- Lesson and Explanation
“MY aunt will be down presently, Mr Nuttel,” said a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen. “In the meantime you must try and put up with me.” Framton Nuttel endeavoured to say something which should duly flatter the niece of the moment without unduly discounting the aunt that was to come. Privately he doubted more than ever whether these formal visits of a succession of total strangers would do much towards helping the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing.
Self-possessed- calm and confident; sure of herself
Flatter- make (her) happy
Duly- in accordance with what is required or appropriate
Unduly- overly; unnecessarily
Discounting- regard (a possibility or fact) as being unworthy of consideration because it lacks credibility
The story begins with a conversation between Vera, a calm and confident lady of fifteen and Mr Nuttel. Mr Nuttel had come to visit her aunt and the young lady tells him that her aunt will see him shortly. She suggests that they must get to know each other till the time she comes. Framton Nuttel tried thinking of something appropriate to say to the niece, without disregarding her aunt, who was yet to arrive on scene. He had come to the countryside to cure his nerves. But in his opinion, visiting some strangers formally would not be of much help in curing his nerves.
“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.”
Retreat- a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax.
Moping- wander about listlessly and aimlessly because of unhappiness or boredom
When Mr Nuttel was preparing to move to the country for his rural retreat, his sister knew how it would be for him. She knew he would isolate himself in the country and won’t socialise with anyone. He would end up making his nerves worse by wandering about aimlessly because of unhappiness or boredom. Thus, she decided to give him a few letters of introduction for all the people she knew there. She said that as far as she could recall, people there were quite nice.
Framton wondered whether Mrs Sappleton, the lady to whom he was presenting one of the letters of introduction, came into the nice division.
“Do you know many of the people round here?” asked the niece, when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion.
“Hardly a soul,” said Framton. “My sister was staying here, some four years ago, and she gave me letters of introduction to some of the people here.”
He made the last statement in a tone of distinct regret.
“Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?” pursued the self-possessed young lady.
“Only her name and address,” admitted the caller. He was wondering whether Mrs Sappleton was in the married or widowed state. An undefinable something about the room seemed to suggest masculine habitation.
Communion- (here) communication
Distinct- recognizably different
Pursued- (here) continued
Suggest masculine habitation- suggest that the room belonged to a man
Framton Nuttel thought to himself that the lady he was visiting, the one he was supposed to present his sister’s letter of introduction to, belonged to her sister’s division of nice people.
Suddenly, when the niece realised that it has been long since they spoke a word, so to break the silence in the room, she asked Mr Nuttel how many people he knew in the country. He replied that he hardly knew anyone and told her that his sister, who lived here around four years ago, had given him a few letters of introduction. He said all of this in a tone filled with unique regret which made the little self-possessed lady conclude and ask him if he meant he knew nothing about her aunt. Mr Nuttel honestly replied that he only knew her aunt’s name and address. He further thought to himself about the marital status of Mrs Sappleton. He wanted to know if she was married or widowed. Though, there was something in the room that he couldn’t figure out, gave him a sense that it belonged to a man.
“Her great tragedy happened just three years ago,” said the child, “that would be since your sister’s time.”
“Her tragedy?” asked Framton. Somehow in this restful country spot tragedies seemed out of place.
“You may wonder why we keep that window wide open on an October afternoon,” said the niece, indicating a large French window that opened on to a lawn.
“It is quite warm for the time of the year,” said Framton, “but has that window got anything to do with the tragedy?”
Tragedy- an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress
Out of place- unsuitable
The niece spoke about some mishap that took place nearly about three years ago, which she mentioned must be around Mr Nuttel’s sister’s time in the country. Mr Nuttel enquired about the tragedy she was talking about, although to him, it seemed as if it was almost impossible for tragedies to happen in such a peaceful countryside. She showed him a large French window that was opened on to a lawn and asked him if he was wondering why it was kept open on an October afternoon. Framton did agree that it was quite unusual to keep a window open when it was quite hot outside. He further asked her if the open window was somehow related to the tragedy.
“Out through that window, three years ago to a day, her husband and her two young brothers went off for their day’s shooting. They never came back. In crossing the moor to their favourite shooting ground they were all three engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog. It had been that dreadful wet summer, you know, and places that were safe in other years gave way suddenly without warning. Their bodies were never recovered. That was the dreadful part of it.” Here the child’s voice lost its self-possessed note and became falteringly human. “Poor aunt always thinks that they will come back someday, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in at that window just as they used to do. That is why the window is kept open every evening till it is quite dusk. Poor dear aunt, she has often told me how they went out, her husband with his white waterproof coat over his arm, and Ronnie, her youngest brother, singing ‘Bertie, why do you bound?’ as he always did to tease her, because she said it got on her nerves. Do you know, sometimes on still, quiet evenings like this, I almost get a creepy feeling that they will all walk in through that window… ”
Engulfed- sweep over (something) so as to surround or cover it completely; bury
Treacherous- dangerous (though it seems safe)
Dreadful- causing or involving great suffering, fear, or unhappiness; extremely bad or serious
Bog- wet, spongy ground (one may sink into it)
Falteringly- a ‘faltering’ voice is shaky, hesitant; haltingly
Spaniel- a dog of a breed with a long silky coat and drooping ears
The niece begins telling about the tragedy that happened three years ago, on the exact same day when her aunt’s husband and two young brothers went for the day’s shooting, out through that very window. She tells him that they never returned. What happened was, when they were crossing the grasslands to go to their favourite shooting spot, they got trapped in a safe-looking but actually, dangerous bog. They got completely buried in it. She related how that summer was extremely wet and the places that posed no harm earlier, suddenly became unsafe. Unfortunately, their bodies could never be found. She mentions that this part of the story was most terrible. After she recited this part of the story, the tone of her voice changed drastically from self- possessed to a hesitant human. She further told Mr Nuttel that her poor aunt awaits their return till date. She thinks that the three of them and the brown spaniel (dog) that went with them would just come walking in from that window like they used to. This, perhaps, was the reason behind her keeping the window open for every single day till sunset. She tells him how her dear aunt often tells her how they left, her husband with his white waterproof coat over his arm, and Ronnie, her youngest brother, singing ‘Bertie, why do you bound?’ because she didn’t like the song and he liked teasing her. She even shares with Mr Nuttel how on a few silent evenings, she gets a strange feeling that all of them would come walking in through that window.
She broke off with a little shudder. It was a relief to Framton when the aunt bustled into the room with a whirl of apologies for being late in making her appearance.
“I hope Vera has been amusing you?” she said.
“She has been very interesting,” said Framton.
“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?”
She rattled on cheerfully about the shooting and the scarcity of birds, and the prospects for duck in the winter. To Framton it was all purely horrible. He made a desperate but only partially successful effort to turn the talk on to a less ghastly topic; he was conscious that his hostess was giving him only a fragment of her attention, and her eyes were constantly straying past him to the open window and the lawn beyond. It was certainly an unfortunate coincidence that he should have paid his visit on this tragic anniversary.
Shudder- (of a person) tremble convulsively, typically as a result of fear or revulsion; shake; shiver; tremble
Bustled- entered (the room) noisily
Whirl of apologies- many apologies (in quick succession)
Briskly- in an active, quick, or energetic way
Snipe- water bird that lives in marshes
Marshes- an area of low-lying land which is flooded in wet seasons or at high tide, and typically remains waterlogged at all times; bog; swamp
Rattled on- went on
Scarcity of birds- no birds or very few (‘scarcity’ means acute shortage)
Straying- straying: moving (she was not looking at him)
Finally, the aunt made her appearance. She was trembling. She hurriedly entered the room while apologising on the other hand, Mr Framton was relieved to see her. Mrs Sappleton asked Mr Nuttel if her niece, Vera, could manage to keep him entertained. To which he replied that she had been very interesting.
In order to make sure his guest was comfortable, Mrs Sappleton asked Mr Nuttel if he was fine with the open window (on a hot afternoon). She further explained that her husband and her brothers have been out shooting and that they could come back any minute. They always choose this entrance. She told him that they had gone looking for snipe in the swamp that day so their feet would probably be dirty and she did not want them to make a mess of her carpets. She further exclaimed that all this was so typical amongst menfolk.
She excitedly went on speaking about the shooting, the shortage of birds there have been and the chances of ducks in the winter season. It was not at all easy for Mr Nuttel to hear about all of this. He tried desperately to change the topic into something less horrible and terrifying but was only partially successful in doing so. Moreover, he was well aware that he was only receiving a proportion of her hostess’ attention as she was constantly looking at the window behind him and the lawn further beyond. It was definitely an “unfortunate coincidence” for him to have visited them on this horrifying tragic anniversary
“The doctors agree in ordering me complete rest, an absence of mental excitement, and avoidance of anything in the nature of violent physical exercise,” announced Framton, who laboured under the tolerably widespread delusion that total strangers and chance acquaintances are hungry for the least detail of one’s ailments and infirmities, their cause and cure. “On the matter of diet they are not so much in agreement,” he continued.
“No?” said Mrs Sappleton, in a voice which only replaced a yawn at the last moment. Then she suddenly brightened into alert attention — but not to what Framton was saying.
“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!”
Laboured- done with great effort
Delusion-false impression or belief
Ailments and infirmities- (relating to health) complaints of sickness/weakness
Framton told them about the doctor’s recommendation that suggested him to practice complete rest, no mental excitement and absence of anything that involved violent physical exercise. Mr Nuttel announced all of this under the false impression that complete strangers and acquaintances would be interested in knowing about the minutest details of his illness, its cause and cure. Thus, he continued speaking and mentioned that the doctors are not yet in harmony on decisions related to his diet and nutrition. As disinterested as she could be, Mrs Sappleton only relied with a “No?” to his story about the doctors being in disagreement on the diet which was later replaced by a yawn. Suddenly, Mrs Sappleton became alert and cheerful but not because of what Mr Nuttel said. She spoke out of excitement and as if something that she had been long waiting for, had come true. She said there they are, just in time for tea. She was happy on seeing that they were not covered in mud from head to toe
Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece with a look intended to convey sympathetic comprehension. The child was staring out through the open window with a dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction.
Sympathetic comprehension- understanding and showing sympathy
Dazed- unable to think or react properly
As a result of Mrs Suplleton’s remark, Framton Nuttel shook a little and instantly looked towards the niece to offer a look of understanding and sympathy. Vera, on the other hand, was constantly looking out of the window in bewilderment. In shock of the “nameless fear” or not knowing what was about to come his way, Framton Nuttel turned around to look out of the window that was behind him.
In the deepening twilight three figures were walking across the lawn towards the window, they all carried guns under their arms, and one of them was additionally burdened with a white coat hung over his shoulders. A tired brown spaniel kept close at their heels. Noiselessly they neared the house, and then a hoarse young voice chanted out of the dusk: “I say, Bertie, why do you bound?”
As it was getting darker in the evening, they could see three images of human beings walking across the lawn and approaching the window. All of them carried guns under their arms and one of them had a white coat over his shoulders. A tired brown spaniel could also be seen close to their feet. They came silently towards the house except one could hear a rough approaching voice that sang “I say, Bertie, why do you bound?” in the sundown.
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. A cyclist coming along the road had to run into the hedge to avoid imminent collision
Gravel drive- A gravel road is a type on unpaved road surfaced with gravel
Headlong- in a rush; with reckless haste
Hedge- a fence or boundary formed by closely growing bushes or shrubs
Imminent- about to happen
After having seen outside the window, Framton laid his hands on his stick and the hat in a rushed manner. The hall door, the gravel drive and the front gate could only be roughly noted as the different stages in his reckless retreat. Moreover, a cyclist coming his way had to run into the fence in order to avoid an approaching collision.
“Here we are, my dear,” said the bearer of the white mackintosh, coming in through the window. “Who was that who bolted out as we came up?”
“A most extraordinary man, a Mr Nuttel,” said Mrs Sappleton. “He could only talk about his illnesses, and dashed off without a word of goodbye or apology when you arrived. One would think he had seen a ghost.”
“I expect it was the spaniel,” said the niece calmly. “He told me he had a horror of dogs. He was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the banks of the Ganges by a pack of dogs, and had to spend the night in a newly dug grave with the creatures snarling and grinning and foaming just above him. Enough to make anyone lose their nerve.”
Romance at short notice was her speciality
Mackintosh- a full-length waterproof coat
Bolted out- leave suddenly and as if in a hurry
Dashed off- to leave a place suddenly or quickly
Snarling-(of an animal such as a dog) make an aggressive growl with bared teeth
Grinning- smiling broadly so as to reveal teeth
Lose their nerve- to suddenly panic and become too afraid
Romance at short notice- finding occasions for fun and enjoyment, wherever possible
As Mrs Sappleton’s husband approached the window with his white coat, he said to her, “Here we are, my dear”. He further enquired about the man who left as soon as they arrived. Mrs Sappleton told him that he was some Mr Nuttel and called him “a most extraordinary man”. She further told her husband that the strange man could only talk about his sickness and even more strangely, he left without saying goodbye or offering an apology as soon as they arrived. It seemed to her as if he had seen a ghost.
Self-possessed as she was, the niece interrupted and told everyone that it must have been the dog that would have scared him away. She further told them that Mr Nuttel made a confession about his fear of dogs and how once when he was being chased by a pack of dogs, he landed himself into a cemetery somewhere in the banks of Ganges. He ended up spending the night in a freshly dug grave with the dogs growling and grinning above in search of him. She further remarked that it was scary enough to make someone panic.
There is a line at the end of the lesson that says “Romance at short notice was her speciality”. This means that Vera was fond of finding occasions that would give her a chance to induce fun and enjoyments, even if it meant making dramatic stories on the spot.
The Open Window- Question and Answers
1.Why had Framton Nuttel come to the “rural retreat”?
A. Framton Nuttel had come to the countryside for his “rural retreat” because he was going through a nerve cure and the place provided a restful environment.
2. Why had his sister given him letters of introduction to people living there?
A. Framton Nuttel’s sister had stayed in the country somewhat four years ago. She knew quite a few people there. Besides she knew that Framton would bury himself down there and not speak to a living soul, and then his nerves would be worse than ever from moping. Thus, she gave him letters of introduction to all the people she knew there. Some of them, as far as she could remember, were quite nice.
3. What had happened in the Sappleton family as narrated by the niece?
A. The niece told Framton Nuttel about a tragedy that took place on the exact same day about three years ago. She showed him a French window that was left open, on an October afternoon, which was quite unusual because it was quite hot outside at that time of the year. She told him that out through that window, Mrs Sappleton’s husband and her two young brothers went off for their day’s shooting. They never came back. In crossing the moor to their favourite shooting ground they were all three engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog. It had been that dreadful wet summer and places that were safe in other years gave way suddenly without warning. Their bodies were never recovered.
She told him that her poor aunt still awaits their arrival, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and would walk in through that window just as they used to do. That is why the window is kept open every evening till it is quite dusk. Her aunt often told her how they went out, her husband with his white waterproof coat over his arm, and Ronnie, her youngest brother, singing ‘Bertie, why do you bound?’ as he always did to tease her, because she said it got on her nerves.
4. What did Mrs Sappleton say about the open window?
A. In order to make sure her guest was comfortable, Mrs Sappleton asked Framton Nuttel if he was bothered by the open window. She further explained that her husband and brothers will be home directly from shooting, and they always came in that way. They’ve been out for snipe in the marshes that day, so they’d probably make a fine mess over her carpets. Thus, the window is left open for them to come back in.
5. The horror on the girl’s face made Framton swing around in his seat. What did he see?
A. When Framton Nuttel turned towards the niece with a look intended to convey sympathetic comprehension, he saw that the child was staring out through the open window with a dazed horror in her eyes. This made Framton swing round in his seat and look in the same direction. In the deepening twilight, he could see three figures walking across the lawn towards the window, they all carried guns under their arms, and one of them was additionally burdened with a white coat hung over his shoulders. A tired brown spaniel kept close at their heels. Noiselessly they neared the house, and then a hoarse young voice chanted out of the dusk: “I say, Bertie, why do you bound?”
6. Why did Framton rush out wildly?
A. Vera had told Mr Nuttel about the tragic loss of Mrs Sappleton’s husband and her two brothers that happened three years ago. She told him that in crossing the moor to their favourite shooting ground they were all three engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog and that their bodies were never recovered. She even told him how they went out. She told him that her husband had gone with his white waterproof coat over his arm, and Ronnie, her youngest brother, sang ‘Bertie, why do you bound?’ as he always did to tease her, because she said it got on her nerves.
Thus, when Framton saw them returning in the exact way as Vera had described, he thought they were returning after three years and he got scared as if he saw a ghost. Thus, he picked up his stuff and rushed out wildly without even saying a word of goodbye.
7. What was the girl’s explanation for his lightning exit?
A. After Mr Nuttel’s lightning exit, Vera had an interesting explanation to offer. According to her, it was spaniel, the dog that scared him away. She went on and told them how Mr Nuttel told her about his fear of dogs. She further explained how he was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the banks of the Ganges by a pack of dogs, and how he had to spend the night in a newly dug grave with the creatures snarling and grinning and foaming just above him. She even remarked that it was enough to make anyone lose their nerve.