The Rattrap Summary Class 12 English | English Flamingo

The Rattrap —by Selma Lagerlöf

Chapter Summary

The Rattrap Summary Class 12 English | English Flamingo

The Rattrap Seller and his thoughts about the Work

Once upon a time, there was a man who used to sell rattraps made from the material he got from begging. As his business was not profitable, he also had to beg and even steal to survive. Even then, the rattrap seller wore rags, his checks were sunken and hunger gleamed in his eyes.

One day, while the man was engrossed in his thoughts of his rattrap, a very amusing idea came to his mind. He thought that the world was a big rattrap which existed to set baits for people. It offered comforts, joys, food and shelter, heat and clothing just like a rattrap that offers cheese and pork. As soon as anyone touches the bait, the rattrap traps him and everything comes to an end. Such a thought entertained the vagabond as the world was never kind to him.

The Crofter Treats the Peddler Nicely

One evening, the rattrap peddler was walking along the road when he came across a little gray cottage. He went to the cottage to seek shelter for the night. Much to his surprise, the owner of the cottage invited him in and treated him kindly. The owner was an old man without any family. He lived alone and so was happy to get someone to talk to.

The old man not only offered him porridge as supper but also gave him tobacco roll for his pipe. He also entertained the peddler with a game of cards and his talks. He informed the peddler that he used to be a crofter at Ramsjö Ironworks. But now he couldn’t do much labour and he earned his livelihood by selling cow’s milk.
The old man trusted the peddler so much that he told the guest that he had recently earned thirty kronor. To make the peddler believe him, he also showed him the money, also revealing that he kept it in a leather pouch which hung on a nail near the window frame.

The Peddler Cheats the Crofter

The next day, both the old man and the peddler got up early. The old man had to milk his cow. So, both of them left the cottage at the same time. The peddler thanked the crofter for his kindness and went on his own way. But half an hour later, the peddler returned to the cottage. He went to the window, smashed a pane and stuck in his hand to get hold of the leather pouch. He, then, took out the money and kept it in his pocket. He kept the pouch in its place and went away.

The Vagabond Gets Lost in the Woods

The vagabond was quite pleased with his smartness. As he had just committed a theft, he decided to avoid the public highway and entered the forest. He felt that he would be safe as no one
would be able to catch him there. In the first half of the day, he encountered no problems but later, he got lost in the big and confusing forest.
He tried to walk in a definite direction, but the paths confused him. Suddenly, he realised that he had let himself be fooled by the bait and had been caught in a rattrap himself. The entire forest, seemed to him like a prison that offered no escape.
It was the month of December and darkness was covering the forest which increased the danger, gloom and despair the peddler was facing. He could see no way out. He was so overwhelmedwith exhaustion that he sank down to the ground, thinking that his last moment had come. Just then, he heard the sound of the regular thumping of a hammer. He realised that the sound was coming from an iron mill. He summoned all his strength and walked in the direction of the sound.

The Peddler Declines the Invitation of the Ironmaster

He reached the Ramsjö Ironworks, which used to be a large plant with smelter, rolling mill and forge.
Inside the ironmill, the master smith and his helper were working. So, there was a lot of noise due to which the blacksmith did not notice that the peddler had entered. As it was usual was vagabonds to seek shelter in the warm mill, the peddler got the permission to stay.
As was custom, the ironmaster came into the forge for his inspection and noticed the peddler. In the dim light he mistook the peddler for an old regimental comrade and addressed him as Nils Olof. The peddler didn’t try to clear his doubt, as he thought the ironmaster might give him some money. But, the ironmaster invited him home. The peddler thought that going to the manor house would be like ‘throwing himself voluntarily into the lion’s den’. So, he declined the invitation.

Ironmaster’s Daughter Persuades the Peddler

The ironmaster assumed that the peddler had declined the invitation as he felt embarrassed because of his miserable clothing. He tried to comfort the peddler to convince him but the tramp constantly refused to go with him. The ironmaster went away, but he was not deterred by the peddler’s persistent refusal. He sent his oldest daughter to persuade the peddler. When Edla came to the ironworks, she found the man alarmed and
She sensed that the peddler was either a thief on the run or an escaped prisoner. Still, she was very friendly and kind to him. The peddler felt confidence in her and accepted the invitation.

Edla Expresses her Doubts About the Peddler

The next day was Christmas Eve. The ironmaster was happy that he would be spending his time with an old friend. He told Edla that they needed to feed him well and provide him with a better business than selling rattraps. Edla told her father that she was doubtful about the man, as he didn’t display the slightest sign of being educated. However, the ironmaster told her that once the man is properly groomed, she would see something completely different. Just then the stranger entered the room. He was now well groomed and was wearing clothes
which belonged to the ironmaster.

The Ironmaster Gets Angry; the Peddler Retaliates

Seeing the peddler the ironmaster realised that the tramp was not his friend and that he was mistaken. The peddler made no attempt to delude them any longer. He explained that he never said to the ironmaster that he was Nils Olof. He had even pleaded and begged to stay in the mill. He added that, if asked, he would wear his rags and leave. But the iron master stated that he was not honest and thus needs to go to the sheriff. This agitates the peddler who informs the ironmaster about how the world is a rattrap and that the ironmaster would also be caught in the bait somebody.
The idea amused the ironmaster who decides not to call the sheriff and asks the peddler to leave.

Edla Stops the Peddler

As the peddler was leaving, Edla stopped him. She was happy to think that she was going to make things good for a poor man. Thus, she did not want him to go. She reasoned with her father that they had promised Christmas cheer to the peddler. She also added that the peddler has a very hard time throughout the year. He is always chased away or is in a fear of being arrested and cross examined. But for this day she wanted him to enjoy.
The ironmaster gave in and the peddler was allowed to stay for Christmas, but the only thing he did was to sleep soundly after that. Once or twice he was woken up to have food. It seemed as though he had never slept as quietly and safely.

The ironmaster and Edla gifted him the suit that he was wearing as a Christmas present. Edla also told him that he was welcome to spend even the next Christmas with them.

The Peddler Becomes a Changed Man

The next morning the ironmaster and his daughter went to the church for Christmas service, leaving the peddler at home. They returned home and Edla was very sad. At the church, they had learned that a rattrap peddler robbed an old crofter who once worked at their Ramsjö Ironworks. The ironmaster was furious. He thought that by the time they would reach home, the peddler would have escaped with all their silver and other valuables. However when they got home, the valet informed him that the fellow had left but he had not taken anything with him.
Instead, he had left something for Edla. Edla opened the package and found a rattrap. In the rattrap were three wrinkled ten kronor notes and a letter.
The peddler had written that since Edla had treated him like a real captain, he also wanted to be nice to her. He wanted the money to be returned to the crofter. He further wrote that he would not have been able to escape the rattrap, if he had not been raised to the status of a captain. He even signed the letter as ‘Captain von Stahle’ as he was a changed man.

Read More:Chapters Summary of Class 12 CBSE Summary – click here

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