1. "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 things to flatter the niece without discounting the aunt that was to come. Privately he doubted more than ever whether these formal visits to total strangers would do much towards helping him cure his nerves.
2. "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. 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."
3. 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. "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."
4. He made the last statement in a tone of regret. "Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?" pursued the self-possessed young lady. "Only her name and address," he admitted. He was wondering whether Mrs. Sappleton was married or widowed.
5. "Her great tragedy happened just three years ago," said the child; "that would be since your sister's time." "Her tragedy?" asked Framton. "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?" "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. They found themselves all three suddenly in a treacherous piece of bog. Their bodies were never recovered. That was the dreadful part of it."
“三年前她经历了非常悲惨的事情，”女孩说，“应该是在您姐姐刚离开这以后。” “悲惨的事情？”弗拉姆顿问道。“您可能会纳闷十月份的下午我家怎么还敞着窗户，”侄女说道，同时指向一扇通向屋外草地的大落地窗。“今年这个时候天气比较暖和，”弗拉姆顿说，“但，这个窗口与那件悲惨的事情有什么关系？” “三年前的一天，她的丈夫和她的两个弟弟就是从这个窗口出去打猎的。他们再也没有回来。他们三人都陷入了一片危险的沼泽。而且，他们的尸体没有被找到，这也是最可怕的部分。”
6. Here the child's voice lost its self-possessed tone and became 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. 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--"
7. 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 in the marshes today, so they'll make a fine mess over my poor carpets. So like you menfolk, isn't it?"
8. She rattled on cheerfully. 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 staring past him to the open window and the lawn beyond.
9. "The doctors are ordering me complete rest, absence of mental excitement, and avoidance of violent physical exercise," announced Framton, "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. Then she suddenly cheered up: "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!" Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece. The child was staring out through the open window with horror in her eyes. In a shock of fear Framton looked in the same direction.
10. 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 burdened with a white coat hung over his shoulders. A tired brown spaniel walked close at their heels. Framton jumped up, grabbed wildly at his stick and hat and ran out.
11. "Here we are, my dear," said the bearer of the white mackintosh, coming in through the window, "fairly muddy, but most of it's dry. Who was that who bolted out as we came up?"
"A most extraordinary man, a Mr. Nuttel," said Mrs. Sappleton; "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 just above him. Enough to make anyone lose their nerve."
Romance at short notice was her speciality.