The Open Window: Short Story by Saki

The Open Window‘ is a short story by Saki or Hector Hugo Munro, published in the collection ‘Beasts and Super Beasts’ in 1914.

Open Window is an incredibly short story. And, within this small ambit of the writing format, Saki spins thrill, horror and comedy, all together so befittingly.

This story is about an evening when Framton Nuttel comes to visit his neighbor for the first time after he moved in for a ‘rural retreat’. With an apprehension that Framtom would be lonely in this disposition, his sister wrote a letter of introduction to facilitate his meeting with the neighbours. Framton’s sister had lived here four-years back.

On this insisted socialization, Framton goes to Mrs.Sappleton’s home with this letter. In the absence of Mr. and Mrs. Sappleton at the residence, Framton is received by ‘a very self possessed young lady of 15’ named Vera, niece of Mrs. Sappleton. As Vera understands Framton has no idea about Mrs.Sappleton or the other residents of the house in their short conversation, she spins an incredible story.

You may wonder why we keep that window wide open on an October afternoon,” as Vera asks Framton this question, she incites the curiosity in our minds regarding Mrs.Sappleton’s tragedy. Vera already spoke about her aunt’s great tragedy which struck the family three years ago. She tells that Mrs.Sappleton’s husband and her two young brothers went through this large French window for shooting. And, they were engulfed in a treacherous piece of bog. The men could not be alarmed as the place was never this dreadful. Their bodies were never recovered. Now, Vera adds that her aunt keeps the window open expecting her husband, brothers and their dog to walk through this window.

At this point, the aunt made an appearance and said how she awaits her husband and brothers to come back from shooting through the window. Framton is quite uncomfortable given the situation. He tells how doctors have advised him to take complete rest without any excitement or physical exertion. Framton can only continue to talk about his illness, soliciting a bored reaction from Mrs.Sappleton who continues to look outside the window.

Now, the three men and their dog are visible in the dusk through the window. And, Framton left the house in haste, as if he saw ghosts.

The twist about Vera’s incredible character is revealed now as she tells her Aunt and others that Framton had told her about his horror of dogs. She says that Framton was once chased by a pack of dogs on the banks of Ganges and he had to spend a night in a freshly dug grave at a cemetery.  

The end is peculiar; Saki ends it by this line for Vera, ‘Romance at short notice was her speciality’. Can making stories of such ghastly scale be deemed romantic?

For ‘Open Window’ the two characters of Framton and Vera are most essential. The two opposites – the girl being intelligent, witty and imaginative while the man is weak, self-obsessed and concerned about his illnesses.

The story depends upon the ironic deception of the ordinary and mundane things of life put to play to create a supernatural effect. It is completely upon the reader to judge if Vera was simply a liar or a proficient storyteller.

To me, the title seems very fascinating. ‘Open Window’ gives overtures to the readers to let their minds race and imagine whatever they wish outside the window.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z challenge under Alphabet N

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