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     They began about a quarter past one o’clock in the morning, a rhythmic, quickcadenced walking around the diningroom table. My mother was asleep in one room upstairs, my brother-Herman in another, grandfather was in the attic, in the old walnut bed which, as you will remember, once fell on my father. I had just stepped out of the bathtub and was busily rubbing myself with a towel when I heard the steps. They were the steps of a man walking rapidly around the dining-table downstairs. The light from the bathroom shone down the back-steps, which dropped directly into the dining-room; I could see the faint shine of plates on the plate-rail; I couldn’t see the table. The steps kept going round and round the table; at regular intervals a board creaked, when it was trod upon. I supposed at first that it was my father or my brother Roy, who had gone to Indianapolis but were expected home at any time. I suspected next that it was a burglar. It did not enter my mind until later that it was a ghost.


As the 2nd paragraph of the story begins, the narrator gets into narrating the incident. To recall, the narrator had stated in the previous paragraph that he had heard footsteps that had led to certain unfortunate events. So, in the \(2\)nd and the rest of the paragraphs, we see how those events unfold.
Talking about the footsteps, the narrator said he heard them about \(1.15\)am, the quietest, darkest time of the night. He felt someone (or something) strolling around the dining room table "in a rhythmic, quickcadenced" manner. Here, one could observe that the narrator was trying to describe the footsteps that he had heard. He doesn't have a face to associate it with as he never saw who walked around. Nevertheless, his description of the sound is acute. He says that the footsteps were quick and had a rhythm to them. Note that the word cadence refers to the modulation of a sound, which describes its regular rise and fall. The description of the footsteps could suggest either of the following two possibilities (or even both). Firstly, the owner of the footsteps was walking around the dining room multiple times. It wouldn't have created so much of a "cadence" if he had walked around only once. Secondly, there is a possibility that the owner was probably old, limp, or weak. For instance, when a person limps, the footsteps are likelier to rise and fall.
The following video demonstrates a man limping.
Later, the narrator explains what the rest of the members were doing:
  • his mother was asleep in a room upstairs,
  • his brother-Herman was settled down for the night in another room,
  • and his grandfather was sleeping in the attic, in the ancient walnut bed that had once fallen on his father.
Basically, everyone (except the narrator) was in their respective rooms. His father and the older brother, Roy, (as we would soon learn) are out of town.
The line "in the old walnut bed which, as you will remember, once fell on my father" is a reference to "The Night The Bed Fell", one of the stories in the book My Life and Hard Times. In "The Night The Bed Fell", the narrator's mother is paranoid and fears that an old wooden cot his father occasionally sleeps would cause his death. When she hears the narrator's cot collapse in the middle of the night, she assumes that her fear has come alive. Chaos follows, with the narrator unaware that he was at the centre of the misunderstanding.
So, coming back to the story, we see the narrator stepping out of his bath while his family is seeping. He was busy drying himself with a towel when he heard the footsteps. The narrator could hear the person walking quickly around the dining room downstairs. The dining room downstairs was reasonably visible from where he stood because the light from the bathroom shone down the back-steps. He could see the faint shine of plates on the plate-rail, but the table was hidden from the sight. He realised the footsteps were going around the table (multiple times) because he heard a particular floorboard creak at regular intervals.
The narrator had just stepped out of the bathtub

Initially, the narrator didn't make much of the footsteps. He merely assumed that his father and brother Roy had returned from their trip to Indianapolis. (Note: Indianapolis is the capital city of Indiana. The narrator and his family live in Columbus, the capital city of the neighbouring state Ohio.) But later, something must have told him that it was neither of them. So he suspected that there was a break-in and that the footsteps belonged to a burglar. But his assumptions never ended there, for he ends the paragraph by claiming that he eventually realised it wasn’t a burglar but a ghost.
It is noteworthy that the narrator had ended the first two paragraphs in suspense, pulling the readers with ease to the paragraph that follows.
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Map of the United States of America
Meanings of difficult words:
Sl. No
Quickcadenced(Quick+Cadenced) Cadence refers to the modulation of a sound, the regular rise and fall of it
RapidlyVery quickly
CreakTo make a harsh, high-pitched sound when pressure or weight is applied on a wooden object
TrodTo walk
BurglarA person who illegally enters buildings and steals things
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2019). English Standard-10. The Night the Ghost Got In - James Grover Thurber (pg. 30 - 33). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.