CHAPTER 1: Summary (The Strange Man’s Arrival)
The story began with a stranger arriving at the Bramblehurst railway station. It was February. He was wrapped from head to toe with only his shiny pink nose visible. He had blue spectacles on with sidelights. He approached “Coach and Horses” and asked for a room. It was very cold. Mrs Hall, the owner of the inn, was delighted to have a guest at this time of the year.
She made him some supper and took it to the parlour where he was resting. Though the fire was on, the man still persisted in keeping himself covered. Mrs Hall asked him to take the coat and the hat off, but he refused. Later, when she went to serve him lunch, he was still standing at the window, all covered up. The next time Mrs Hall saw the stranger, he had his overcoat and hat removed. She met a horrible sight. The stranger’s forehead above his blue glasses was completely covered by a white bandage, with a few locks of hair which escaped through it.
Mrs Hall assumed that the visitor had a very bad accident that had disfigured his face. The next time when she went to clear his lunch, the stranger finally talked to her. He asked if his luggage could be bought from the station that very day. Mrs Hall informed him that it could only be brought the next day. She initiated further conversation, but then he abruptly told her to bring some matches. She found his behaviour quite rude but relented on realising that he seemed to be well off and liberal in his payments.
Q1. Describe the day when the stranger arrived at the in.
Ans. It was February 29th. The stranger arrived in a snowstorm at the “Coach and Horses” inn in Iping. Not many people visited Iping in winters and hence, the inn business was very poor. To have a guest at that time of the year was something unheard of. Mrs Hall was very happy. Moreover, the stranger did not bargain but gave her two gold coins.
Q2. Describe the stranger who arrived at Iping.
Ans. The man looked very strange. He was totally covered from head to toe, with only his shiny pink nose showing. He was wearing spectacles with sidelights, which looked like goggles. The large hat that he wore hid every inch of his face except the shiny tip of his nose. He had a bushy side-whisker over his coat-collar that completely hid his cheeks and face.
Q3. How did Mrs Hall react to the presence of the guest? What impression do you form of the stranger in the first chapter?
Ans. The stranger not only was strangely dressed but had a rather brusque and curt manner and yet, Mrs Hall gave him a room. When she went in to serve him, she noticed that he had not removed his clothes even though they were dripping wet. A little while later when she realized that the maid had forgotten to keep the mustard on the tray, she re-entered the parlour where the stranger was eating and found that he had taken off his overcoat and hat. He was holding a handkerchief to his mouth that hid the lower portion of his jaw causing his voice to be muffled. His whole face, except his pink nose, was covered in bandages. Some locks of hair escaped through the bandages giving him a rather strange appearance. All this startled Mrs Hall. She assumed that the stranger had been involved in an accident. She tried to talk to him but was rudely snubbed by him. Mrs Hall kept her cool because he had paid her quite generously and she didn’t want to lose a customer when business was bleak.
Q4. Mrs Hall is greedy but efficient in her business. Attempt a character sketch of Mrs Hall. (Word Limit 120-150)
Ans. When the stranger arrived at Coach and Horses inn in Iping it was biting cold. Not many people visited Iping in winters and hence, Mrs Hall’s business was low. Moreover, the stranger did no bargaining. He gave Mrs Hall two gold coins. Out of greed, Mrs Hall did not even bother to identify the stranger. He was completely covered, including his face. He gave no name or identification. He was a very rude and even destroyed some property of the inn. However, Mrs Hall kept her poise because every time she pointed out the damage, he told her to bill them down. The money kept coming in and Mrs Hall didn’t want to lose the customer. She left no stone unturned in giving him an efficient service. She gave him regular meals, kept his room clean and even had the clock in his room repaired. She had his luggage fetched from the railway station. She also complied with his inordinate demand for privacy.