LEARNATHON
III

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Theory:

“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.
Explanation:

Soon after the customary greeting, Mrs Sappleton spoke about the French window. She hoped that Framton Nuttel was comfortable with the window left open. To Mr Nuttel's dismay, she explained how her husband and brothers were expected to come back straight from shooting and that they always came through the window. She also added that her carpets were bound to get spoiled and dirty as the men were hunting snipes that day. As snipes are birds that live near rivers and marshes, the men were likelier to get dirtier than usual. As a result, Mrs Sappleton was worried that 'they’ll make a fine mess over her poor carpets'. Later, Mrs Sappleton observes how menfolk are never bothered about matters such as getting dirty or getting things dirty.
 
While speaking of the above paragraph, it could be seen how Mrs Sappleton believes that her husband and brothers would come back from the dead. Moreover, according to Vera's story, the men had drowned in a bog near the marshes, and likewise, Mrs Sappleton also believes they were returning from the marshes. Hence, keeping Vera's story in mind, it is intriguing to note how Mrs Sappleton was probably living the same day (the day the men died) over and over.

Coming back to the story, the narrator describes how Mrs Sappleton went on and on about the shooting, the scarcity of birds, and the possibilities for hunting ducks in the winter. The narrator observes how she was cheerful through the conversation. On the other hand, it was all a nightmare for Mr Nuttel. He made a desperate, but only partially successful, attempt to shift the conversation's focus to something less heinous.
 
Mr Nuttel was well aware that his hostess gave him only a fraction of her attention. It was because she kept looking at the open window and the lawn beyond, as all that she could think of was her husband and brothers. Mrs Sappleton’s behaviour terrified Mr Nuttel. He was filled with regret for having visited Mrs Sappleton. Moreover, he found it to be an uncanny coincidence that he somehow chose this dreadful occasion to pay his visit.
 
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Mrs Sappleton and Mr Nuttel was having a conversation
  
Meanings of difficult words:
 
S.No
Words
Meanings
1
BrisklyIn an active, quick, or energetic way
2
SnipeA bird with a long, straight beak that lives near rivers and marshes
3
Marsh
An area of low, wet land, usually covered with tall grasses, and is sometimes situated new a water body such as river or sea
4
MessTo make things dirty or untidy
5
MenfolkA group of men considered collectively, especially the men of a particular family or community
6
RattleTo speak quickly, and often, noisily
7
CheerfullyIn a way that inspires feelings of happiness
8
ScarcityTo be in short supply
9
Prospect
Chances or opportunities for success
10
GhastlyCausing great horror or fear; something that is unpleasant and/or scary
11
HostessA woman (lady of the house) who receives or entertains the guests
12
Fragment
A small part of something
Reference:
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2008). The Open Window – Saki (pp. 55 - 61). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.