The Rattrap Summary
Written by : Selma lagerlof
The essential goodness in a human being can be awakened through understanding and love Once there was a man who used to sell small rattraps made of wire. These rat traps were made by him by collecting the material required by begging from stores or big farms. His business was not so profitable. Therefore, he had to beg or steal in order to survive.
The life of the rattrap seller was very sad and boring. But one day he got lost in a series of thoughts which he found very interesting. The man was thinking about, the rattrap and suddenly, a thought came to his mind that the whole world was similar to a rattrap .It was nothing but a temptation, just like cheese and pork which we offer as bait to catch the rat. So according to him, as soon as someone tries to comfort himself with joy, food and shelter he at once gets trapped into this rattrap which is known as “world.
No one in the world had ever been kind to the rattrap seller. So, he started thinking ill of others. It became a favorite pastime for him. One evening the rattrap seller was walking very slowly. He saw a little gray cottage. He went up to the cottage and knocked at the door so as to get shelter for the night. Generally he was not helped by anyone but this time he was welcomed by the old man into his cottage. He was a lonely old man. The old man was happy to get company that night. So, the old man gave him some porridge to eat and then shared his tobacco and both played cards till bedtime.
The old man was not only liberal in sharing his porridge but also his secrets. he had to depend upon his cow for his living. The cow gave enough milk everyday to be sold in the factory The old man said that he was able to earn thirty kronors last month because of the cow’s milk.
The rattrap seller did not believe it. Therefore, the old man took a leather pouch which hung on a window and took out three notes of ten kronor each He showed those currency notes to make him believe his words and then kept them back in the pouch.
Next morning, both the rattrap seller and the crofter woke up early The old man locked the door and went to his work. The rattrap seller also thanked him and went his own way. After about half an « hour the rattrap seller returned to the cottage and he broke down the window pane where the pouch hung. He took away the money, kept it in his pocket, put the pouch back at its place and walked off.
The peddler was quite happy as he had money in his pocket. He then thought of walking through the forest, initially it was not difficult to walk through the forest but later on it got confusing for him as he forgot his way.
At this point of time he started thinking that now he himself was caught in the trap of the world just like other people. Now the whole forest seems to him like an inescapable prison As it was the month of December, it got dark early. he was feeling hopeless. he sat on the ground and was so tired and terrified that he thought this was his last moment and soon he would die.
He heard hard sound that was coming of hammer strokes from an iron mill. he gathered some strength and started walking with great difficulty, towards the direction of the sound.
The Ramsjo Ironworks was a large plant which had shut down few years ago. It had smelter, rolling mill and a forge. In summers, long, flat bottomed boats carrying the material would come down the canal which led to a large inland lake for supplying material to the mill and in winters the roads turned black because of the coal dust that came along due to charcoal crates.
The master Smith and his helper were sitting in the dark forge which was built near the furnace.Both of them were waiting for the pig iron which was put inside the furnace fire to be ready to put onto the anvil. They took turns to stir the liquid which was very hoto One could hear different types of sounds in the forge. There was a big bellow which was blowing air, there was the sound of cracking coal.bang| of the charcoal which was being shoveled by the fire These were of the waterfall, the high speed north wind which hit the raindrops against the brick tiled roof.
It was due to these different types of sounds that the blacksmith didn’t realize that a man had opened the gate of the forge and had entered, till he came and stood near the furnace. Many homeless people used to get attracted to the lights of the forge so they would seek shelter there. The rattrap seller’s appearance was similar to that of other wanderers. He had a long beard, was dirty, wore old worn out clothes and had a bunch of rattraps hanging from his chest.
The peddler tried to seek permission from the blacksmith so that he could stay in the forge for a night. He allowed the peddler with an arrogant consent by just nodding and didn’t say a single word to him. The owner of the Ramsjo iron mill in those days was a very ambitious person The owner was on a night inspection visit when the peddler entered the forge.
the ironmaster at once noticed the peddler who was sitting so close to the furnace that steam was coming out of his torn clothes. He not only went near him but also removed the wanderer’s hat that was bent to one side so that he could see the man’s face clearly. He mistook him as an old acquaintance- Nils Olot, the peddler didn’t let him know that he had mistaken him as Nils Olof.
the peddler started a conversation with the iron master by saying that things didnt went well with him. Later on iron master invited him to his home. The rattrap seller didn’t find it to be a good idea to visit the iron master’s place. He didn’t want to put himself in danger. His intentions were to sleep in the forge and then go away from there without even being noticed.
He tried to make him comfortable by saying that he should feel free to come his home as his home was an ordinary one. Only he and his daughter were left at home. He invited him to celebrate Christmas with his family.
The peddler didn’t accept his invitation. Then the ironmaster went away. But the blacksmith knew that he was hiding something as he had not said his last word the ironmaster mistook him as an old acquaintanceNils Olof. Later on he invited him to his home.the peddler didn’t accept his invitation.
The iron master’s daughter entered the mill. When she entered, everyone was busy the same way as they had been earlier.She went up to the peddler and lifted his hat. The peddler slept with one eye open and as soon as he saw her, he got shocked and jumped up. She introduced herself as Edla Williamson, She explained to him that she had come to take him home with her father’s permission.Edla had sympathy for the peddler.
But then she noticed that the reason behind his fear could be that either he had committed robbery or jailbreak. So, she said that he was free to leave their house at any time but she wanted him to stay with the family just for Christmas Eve. Edla was talking to peddler in a very nice way which made him believe her and he got ready to go with her.
On the way to the house, the peddler felt that as he had committed a crime, he would be punished for it.He started cursing himself that if he had not stolen the money, he would not have got trapped like this. The money was a bait which had led him into a trap. The next day was Christmas Eve, The ironmaster said to his daughter that they had to do something good for the him
The iron master’s daughter thought whether the man had been educated. Hearing this, the ironmaster clarified that it was due to his bad condition. He also added that the man would behave differently after getting clean and dressed up. the peddler entered the room with the valet. He was looking clean as he had bathed and his hair had been cut by the valet. He was wearing the ironmaster’s clothes and shoes
The ironmaster seemed very angry and realized that he was not his comrade. The peddler tried to explain that he should not be blamed. He also said that he had not harmed anyone and was ready to wear his rags again. the ironmaster wanted to call the sheriff.
The rattrap seller gets enraged and said that this world is a rattrap and all the good things are a bait The iron master decided not to call the sheriff. He asked the peddler to leave at once. The iron master’s daughter stopped the peddler. She wanted to help the poor fellow. She tried to explain the difficulties faced by the peddler. The iron master was not able to find an answer to go against his daughter.
But he also warned her that hopefully, her decision would not bring any adverse effect on them. The girl took the peddler to the table and offered him food. She saw that her father had consented to her wish. The peddler didn’t say any word and started eating. Though he was doubtful about her intentions and was wondering why she stopped him.
It was Christmas eve at Ramsjo The peddler went to sleep after having food.He was once woken up in the afternoon but after having his lunch he again went to sleep. It was like as if he had never got the chance to sleep so peacefully as he had got at this place. In the evening, the family woke him as they had to light up the Christmas tree. He stood there blinking as if he was getting hurt by the bright light of the candles. He again went to sleep. Finally they called him again for the dinner of Christmas fish and porridge.
After the dinner was over, the peddler thanked everyone present. The ironmaster’s daughter said that the clothes which were given to him were a Christmas present She even invited the peddler to be with her family for the next Christmas Eve The peddler did not have an answer for this and stared at the girl with wonder. Next day both ironmaster and his daughter went for the Christmas service early in the morning.
Both iron master and his daughter had come to know that a rattrap seller had stolen money from the old crofter. The ironmaster, on reaching home enquired about the peddler from the valet. He also told him that he was a thief.the valet told him that the peddler, instead of taking something had left a small Christmas gift for Miss Willmansson.
The ironmaster’s daughter opened the gift. It was so roughly packed that she could easily guess what was inside the pack. Apart from a rattrap and three kronor notes, there was a letter. “Honoured and noble Miss,
“Since you have been so nice to me all day long, as if I was a captain, I want to be nice to you, in return, as if I was a real captain for I do not want you to be embarrassed at this Christmas season by a thiefs but you can give back the money to the old man on the roadside, who has the money pouch hanging on the window frame as a bait for poor wanderers.
The rattrap is a Christmas present from a rat who would have been caught in this world’s rattrap if he had not been raised to captain, because in that way he got power to clear himself. Written with friendship and high regard, “Captain von Stahle.