Beasts and Super-Beasts
The Open Window
"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 the correct 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 on a succession of total strangers
would do much towards helping the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing.
"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."
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, at the rectory, you know,
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
"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.
"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
"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?"