English CBSE Class 12 NCERT Flamingo Chapter 4 The Rattrap Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words



Notice these expressions in the text. Infer their meaning from the context

Phrase Meaning
Keep body and soul together Survive, Earn just enough for living
Hunger gleamed in his eyes Appeared hungry, Malnutritioned
Plods along the road Lives on side of road, Walks along the road
 Unwonted joy Unusual happiness, Special Happiness
Impenetrable prison Situation of no escape
Nodded a haughty consent Gave approval arrogantly
Eased his way Made himself comfortable
Fallen into a line of thought Imagined a new thought
Things have gone downhill To become worse

Once upon a time there was a man who went around selling small rattraps of wire. He made them himself at odd moments, from the material he got by begging in the stores or at the big farms.

Word Meaning
Rattrap A device to catch rats

Once upon a time a man used to make small rattraps. He made these during strange time of the day. These were made of wire. He used to roam around to sell these. He used to beg for the material in stores or at big farms.



But even so, the business was not especially profitable, so he had to resort to both begging and petty thievery to keep body and soul together. Even so, his clothes were in rags, his cheeks were sunken, and hunger gleamed in his eyes.

Word Meaning
Even so Yet, Still
Resort to Forced to adopt, Has to do
Petty Very small
Thievery Theft
Keep body and soul together Earn for living, To remain alive
Rags Torn cloths
Hunger gleamed in his eyes Appeared hungry, Malnutritioned

Though he got material free, still his business of selling rattrap did not give him enough money. So he had to beg and do minor thefts to make his living. Yet his cloths were torn. His cheeks were sunk, he appeared hungry or malnutritioned.

No one can imagine how sad and monotonous life can appear to such a vagabond, who plods along the road, left to his own meditations.

Word Meaning
Monotonous Boring, Dull
Vagabong One who has no home and wanders, Nomad
Plods along the road Lives on side of road,
Meditation Deep thoughts

Life of the rattrap maker was sad and dull. He did not have a home. He used to walk along the road and live on side of road. Mostly he was busy in his own thoughts. (Meaning that his thoughts were not affected by anyone. He had no one to talk to)

But one day this man had fallen into a line of thought, which really seemed to him entertaining.

Word Meaning
Fallen into a line of thought Imagined a new thought
Entertaining Pleasant, Amusing

One day a new thought came to his mind. This new thought appeared very pleasant to him.

He had naturally been thinking of his rattraps when suddenly he was struck by the idea that the whole world about him — the whole world with its lands and seas, its cities and villages — was nothing but a big rattrap. It had never existed for any other purpose than to set baits for people.

Word Meaning
Struck by an idea A new thought came
Bait Temptation

As usual, he was thinking about his rattraps. Suddenly a new thought came to him. He thought that the whole world was a big rattrap. Meaning that all the people are trapped in this world. The world exists to tempt people into doing something.



It offered riches and joys, shelter and food, heat and clothing, exactly as the rattrap offered cheese and pork, and as soon as anyone let himself be tempted to touch the bait, it closed in on him, and then everything came to an end.

Word Meaning
Riches Money, Wealth
Shelter Home
Pork Meat of pig

The world gives us many pleasures like money, happiness, home, food, clothes etc. This is similar to a rattrap having  cheese and pork to tempt rats. As soon as a person tries to get any of the pleasure of the world, he gets trapped to obtain more such pleasures. Then he is not able to come out of ever increasing desire.

The world had, of course, never been very kind to him, so it gave him unwonted joy to think ill of it in this way.

Word Meaning
Unwonted joy Unusual happiness, Special happiness
Think ill Think bad

Certainly the world was not kind to him. (Meaning that he had lot of difficulties in his life) Therefore this thought gave him special happiness to think bad about the world.



It became a cherished pastime of his, during many dreary ploddings, to think of people he knew who had let themselves be caught in the dangerous snare, and of others who were still circling around the bait.

Word Meaning
Cherished Favourite
Dreary Dull, Boring
Ploddings Walks
Snare Trap

This became his favourite thought to pass his time during his dull and boring walks. He used to think of people known to him, who were caught in the dangerous trap of the world. He also used to think of people who were still moving around the temptations. (Meaning they had not fully decided to get tempted but were about get into the trap)

One dark evening as he was trudging along the road he caught sight of a little gray cottage by the roadside, and he knocked on the door to ask shelter for the night. Nor was he refused.

Word Meaning
Dark evening Late evening when it had become dark
Trudging Walking with difficulty
Caught sight of Saw
To ask shelter To request for a stay

One day it became dark in the evening and he was still walking with difficulty along the road. He saw a small hut of gray colour. He knocked at the door and requested permission to stay there. He was given the permission

Instead of the sour faces which ordinarily met him, the owner, who was an old man without wife or child, was happy to get someone to talk to in his loneliness.

Word Meaning
Sour faces Bad tempered
Loneliness Being alone

Normally rattrap maker used to meet bad tempered persons. But owner of this cottage was happy to receive him. The owner was an old person. He lived there alone. He did not have his wife or children at the cottage. He was happy to receive rattrap maker so that he could talk to him to remove his loneliness.



Immediately he put the porridge pot on the fire and gave him supper; then he carved off such a big slice from his tobacco roll that it was enough both for the stranger’s pipe and his own. Finally he got out an old pack of cards and played ‘mjolis’ with his guest until bedtime.

Word Meaning
Porridge A dish of oatmeal
Supper Dinner
Carved off Cut
Mjolis A game of playing cards

Immediately the cottage owner started cooking porridge. He have dinner to the rattrap maker. Then he cut a big piece of tobacco from a roll. With this rattrap maker and the cottage owner each could smoke their pipes. Then, till bed time, they played a game ‘mjolis’ with playing cards.

The old man was just as generous with his confidences as with his porridge and tobacco. The guest was informed at once that in his days of prosperity his host had been a crofter at Ramsjo Ironworks and had worked on the land.

Word Meaning
Confidences Secrets
Crofter A farmer working on a rented filed
Prosperity Richness

The old man (owner of cottage) voluntarily told him many of his secrets. This was similar to giving shelter and lot of food to his guest. Rattrap maker was informed that in past the cottage owner was a rich person. He had taken a piece of land on rent at Ramsjo Ironworks. He used to live and do farming on that land.

Now that he was no longer able to do day labour, it was his cow which supported him. Yes, that bossy was extraordinary. She could give milk for the creamery every day, and last month he had received all of thirty kronor in payment.

Word Meaning
Labour To do hard work
Bossy Cow
Prosperity Richness
Creamery Factory that makes cheese and butter
Kronor Currency of Sweden

Now the crofter was not able to do hard work. His cow was supporting him. He says that his cow is extraordinary. She gives milk every day. He sells it to creamery. Last month he had received thirty Kronor from the creamery.



The stranger must have seemed incredulous, for the old man got up and went to the window, took down a leather pouch which hung on a nail in the very window frame, and picked out three wrinkled ten-kronor bills.

Word Meaning
Incredulous Unbelieving
Wrinkled Having many folds, Crumpled
Bills Currency notes

The old man thought that guest did not believe him, Because of this reason, the owner of the house went to the window. He took down a leather puoch. This was hanging on a nail on the window frame. He took out three ten Kronor notes from the pouch and showed to the rattrap maker. These were folded at many places.

These he held up before the eyes of his guest, nodding knowingly, and then stuffed them back into the pouch.

Word Meaning
Held up before eyes Showed
Stuffed Put 

The old man showed these currency notes to his guest. Then he put these back into the pouch.

The next day both men got up in good season. The crofter was in a hurry to milk his cow, and the other man probably thought he should not stay in bed when the head of the house had gotten up.

Word Meaning
Good season Early in the morning

Next day both men got up early in the morning. The crofter wanted to milk his cow early. The other man probably did not want to sleep longer than his host. So the rattrap maker also got up early.



They left the cottage at the same time. The crofter locked the door and put the key in his pocket. The man with the rattraps said good bye and thank you, and thereupon each went his own way.

Both the men came out of cottage together. The crofter locked the cottage and kept key with him. The rattrap maker thanked his host and said good bye to him. Each of them went on their way.

But half an hour later the rattrap peddler stood again before the door. He did not try to get in, however.

Word Meaning
Peddler Seller

After about half an hour, the rattrap seller reached the cottage again. He did not try to get into the cottage.

He only went up to the window, smashed a pane, stuck in his hand, and got hold of the pouch with the thirty kronor. He took the money and thrust it into his own pocket. Then he hung the leather pouch very carefully back in its place and went away.

Word Meaning
Smashed Broke
Thrust Put forcibly

He went to the window. He broke the pane of the window. He put his hand into the window. Caught the pouch. He took out the money, put money into his own pocket. Then he carefully put back the pouch at its place and went away. (He has stolen the money of the crofter.)

As he walked along with the money in his pocket he felt quite pleased with his smartness. He realised, of course, that at first he dared not continue on the public highway, but must turn off the road, into the woods.

Word Meaning
Dared not Did not have courage
Woods Jungle

He was very happy with his smartness to walk away with money in his pocket. He did not have the courage to continue his walk along the road. So he turned away from road and started walking through the jungle.



During the first hours this caused him no difficulty. Later in the day it became worse, for it was a big and confusing forest which he had gotten into.

Initially he did not have any difficulty in walking in the jungle. But later during the day he started facing problems. Because the forest was big and he got confused. He had lost his way.

He tried, to be sure, to walk in a definite direction, but the paths twisted back and forth so strangely!

He tried to walk in only one particular direction. But the way was twisting in all directions. He found it very strange. (He could not find the correct path to cross the jungle)

He walked and walked without coming to the end of the wood, and finally he realised that he had only been walking around in the same part of the forest.

He walked to a great distance. But the jungle did not end. Finally he understood that he had been walking around the same portion of the jungle.

All at once he recalled his thoughts about the world and the rattrap. Now his own turn had come. He had let himself be fooled by a bait and had been caught.

Suddenly he remembered his thoughts that the world is a rattrap. He understood that it is now his turn to get caught in the rattrap of the world. He thought that he was a fool to get tempted and get caught in a rattrap.

The whole forest, with its trunks and branches, its thickets and fallen logs, closed in upon him like an impenetrable prison from which he could never escape.

Word Meaning
Thickets Dense group of buses or trees
Logs Big pieces of wood
Closed in upon him Surrounded him
Impenetrable prison Situation of no escape

The forest  was having big trees, group of bushes and big pieces of wood. These surrounded him like a prison. He thought he would never be able to come out of the forest.

It was late in December. Darkness was already descending over the forest. This increased the danger, and increased also his gloom and despair.

Word Meaning
darkness descending Becoming dark
Gloom Sadness
Despair Hopelessness

It was towards end of December month. It had already started becoming dark in the forest. Now it became more dangerous to be in the jungle. The rattrap maker was becoming more sad and hopeless.

Finally he saw no way out, and he sank down on the ground, tired to death, thinking that his last moment had come. But just as he laid his head on the ground, he heard a sound—a hard regular thumping.

Word Meaning
Sank down Sit or lie due to exhaustion or hopelessness
Tired to death Very tired
Sound of thumping Sound of some heavy thing hitting other thing

He could not find any way to come out of the forest. He sat on the ground – exhausted and with no hope. He was very tired. He thought that his last moment had come. (Meaning he will die in the forest). As soon as he put his head on the ground, he could hear some sound. It was sound of some heavy thing hitting another thing.

There was no doubt as to what that was. He raised himself. ‘‘Those are the hammer strokes from an iron mill’’, he thought. ‘‘There must be people near by’’. He summoned all his strength, got up, and staggered in the direction of the sound.

Word Meaning
Summoned Gathered
Staggered Walked unsteadily

He was sure about type of that sound. From laying on the ground he sat up. These were the sounds of a hammer striking iron in an iron mill. He thought that there must be people nearby. He gathered all his strength. He got up. And started walking unsteadily in the direction of sound.

The Ramsjo Ironworks, which are now closed down, were, not so long ago, a large plant, with smelter, rolling mill, and forge. In the summertime long lines of heavily loaded barges and scows slid down the canal, which led to a large inland lake, and in the wintertime the roads near the mill were black from all the coal dust which sifted down from the big charcoal crates.

Word Meaning
Plant Factory
Heavily loaded Filled with large quantity
Barges Type of boat
Scows Type of boat
Slid down Moved
Inland lake A lake not connected to sea
Sifted down Fell down

The Ramsjo Ironworks during those days was a large factory. It is closed now. The plant had various sections like smelter, rolling mill and a forge. During summer season loaded boats moved material in the canal. The canal was connected to a lake. In the winter season lot of coal used to come to the factory. The road used to become black because of coal dust falling on the road from trucks.

During one of the long dark evenings just before Christmas, the master smith and his helper sat in the dark forge near the furnace waiting for the pig iron, which had been put in the fire, to be ready to put on the anvil.

Word Meaning
Master smith Main worker
Pig iron Raw iron
Anvil A heave block on which iron is hammered

It was long and dark evening just before the Christmas. The main worker and his helper were sitting in the forge near the furnace. They were heating the pig iron in the furnace. They were waiting for pig iron to become hot. It was to put on the anvil for hammering.

Every now and then one of them got up to stir the glowing mass with a long iron bar, returning in a few moments, dripping with perspiration, though, as was the custom, he wore nothing but a long shirt and a pair of wooden shoes.

Word Meaning
Every now and then Occasionally
Stir Move or change position
Glowing Shining
Perspiration Sweat
Custom Practice, Routine

Occasionally, one of them went near the furnace to stir the shining mass of pig iron. They used to return in a few seconds. Lot of sweat used to come from their body. As per the practice, they were wearing only a shirt and wooden shoes.

All the time there were many sounds to be heard in the forge. The big bellows groaned and the burning coal cracked. The fire boy shovelled charcoal into the maw of the furnace with a great deal of clatter. Outside roared the waterfall, and a sharp north wind whipped the rain against the brick-tiled roof.

Word Meaning
Bellows Bags of air
Groaned Type of sound
Cracked Sound of something cracking
Fire boy Person who keeps fire burning
Shovelled Threw using a shovel
Maw Mouth
Whipped the rain Threw rain droplets

Many types of sounds were coming from the forge section of plant. The big air bags were making sound as if they were suffering pain. The burning of coal made a sound of cracking. The fire-boy was throwing coal in the furnace using a shovel. It produced the sound of clatter. Outside the furnace a waterfall was making a huge sound. Wind coming from North direction was throwing water in the form of rain drops on the floor. The floor was tiled with bricks.

It was probably on account of all this noise that the blacksmith did not notice that a man had opened the gate and entered the forge, until he stood close up to the furnace.

Word Meaning
On account of Because of

Probably because of so many noises, the blacksmith (master smith) did not know that a person had opened the gate. That person had entered the forge and was standing very near to the furnace. Then the blacksmith saw him. That man was the rattrap maker.

Surely it was nothing unusual for poor vagabonds without any better shelter for the night to be attracted to the forge by the glow of light which escaped through the sooty panes, and to come in to warm themselves in front of the fire.

Word Meaning
Vagabond Tramp, Person without home
Shelter Home
Soot Black fine particles
Sooty Blackish because of soot

It was certainly usual for people without homes to come to the forge. They were attracted to the forge by the shine of the light. The light went through the blackish panes of the factory. They used to come to the forge to keep themselves warm during winter season.

The blacksmiths glanced only casually and indifferently at the intruder. He looked the way people of his type usually did, with a long beard, dirty, ragged, and with a bunch of rattraps dangling on his chest.

Word Meaning
Glanced Looked
Indifferently Without sympathy or interest
Intruder Who comes without permission
Ragged Wearing torn cloths
Bunch Group
Dangling Hanging

The blacksmith looked casually and without any sympathy to the person who had come without permission. The rattrap maker looked like a typical tramp. He had a long beard, he was dirty, wearing torn cloths. A group of rattraps were hanging around his chest.

He asked permission to stay, and the master blacksmith nodded a haughty consent without honouring him with a single word. The tramp did not say anything, either. He had not come there to talk but only to warm himself and sleep.

Word Meaning
Nodded a haughty consent Gave approval arrogantly

The vagabond requested the blacksmith to permit him to stay there. The blacksmith arrogantly gave him permission by signal of his head. He did speak any word. The tramp also did not speak. He had not come there to talk. He had come there to keep himself warm and  to sleep.

In those days the Ramsjo iron mill was owned by a very prominent ironmaster, whose greatest ambition was to ship out good iron to the market.

Word Meaning
Prominent Famous, Well known
Ship out Send

At that time, owner of Ramsjo iron mill was a famous ironmaster. His biggest desire was to make  iron of best quality  and send to the market.

He watched both night and day to see that the work was done as well as possible, and at this very moment he came into the forge on one of his nightly rounds of inspection.

He inspected works of his factory during day and also at night. He wanted the work to be done in best possible manner. After arrival of tramp, the owner came to the forge on his inspection round of night.

Naturally the first thing he saw was the tall ragamuffin who had eased his way so close to the furnace that steam rose from his wet rags. The ironmaster did not follow the example of the blacksmiths, who had hardly deigned to look at the stranger.

Word Meaning
Ragamuffin Person wearing torn cloths
Eased his way Came or reached comfortably
Rags Torn cloths
Hardly deigned Did not consider appropriate

Obviously, the ironmaster saw the person who was wearing torn cloths. The tramp was sleeping comfortably very close to the furnace. He was so close to the furnace that steam was rising from his wet clothes. The blacksmith had not considered it appropriate to talk to the tramp. But the ironmaster did not consider so.

He walked close up to him, looked him over very carefully, then tore off his slouch hat to get a better view of his face. ‘‘But of course it is you, Nils Olof!’’ he said. “How you do look!”

Word Meaning
Tore off Removed
Slouch hat Type of hat

The ironmaster walked near to the tramp. He looked at the tramp carefully. Then he removed the hat of the tramp to look at his face. The ironmaster was surprised. He was sure that the tramp was Nils Olof. The ironmaster told the tramp that he was  looking very bad. The ironmaster mistook the tramp as his old friend.

The man with the rattraps had never before seen the ironmaster at Ramsjo and did not even know what his name was. But it occurred to him that if the fine gentleman thought he was an old acquaintance, he might perhaps throw him a couple of kronor.

Word Meaning
Occurred Thought
Acquaintance Known person
Throw him Give him

The tramp had never seen the ironmaster. The tramp did not know name of ironmaster. But tramp thought that this gentleman understands that he was a person known to him since olden days. The tramp thought that this person might give him some money.

Therefore he did not want to undeceive him all at once. ‘‘Yes, God knows things have gone downhill with me’’, he said.

Word Meaning
Undeceive Tell the truth
Things have gone downhill Conditions have become bad

Therefore the tramp did not want to remove doubt of ironmaster immediately. He said that situation had become difficult for him.

‘‘You should not have resigned from the regiment’’, said the ironmaster. ‘‘That was the mistake. If only I had still been in the service at the time, it never would have happened. Well, now of course you will come home with me.’’

Word Meaning
Regiment A unit of army

The ironmaster said to the tramp that he should not have resigned from army. That was his mistake. If the ironmaster had been in the army at that time, then that would have never happened. (Meaning that ironmaster would not have allowed him to resign.) He further says to the tramp that now he should come to his home.

To go along up to the manor house and be received by the owner like an old regimental comrade — that, however, did not please the tramp. ‘‘No, I couldn’t think of it!’’ he said, looking quite alarmed.

Word Meaning
Manor house Farm house
Comrade Colleague
Alarmed Cautious

The tramp did not like the idea of going to the farmhouse of ironmaster. He did not want the ironmaster to treat him as an old colleague of the regiment. So the tramp refused to go with him. He was taking precautions.

He thought of the thirty kronor. To go up to the manor house would be like throwing himself voluntarily into the lion’s den. He only wanted a chance to sleep here in the forge and then sneak away as inconspicuously as possible.

Word Meaning
Lion’s den Place where lion lives, Something dangerous
Walking into lion’s den Enter into a trouble
Sneak away Go away
Inconspicuously Without getting noticed

The tramp was worried about his thirty kronor. He thought that by going to the farmhouse he could get into some trouble. The tramp wanted to sleep in the forge. Then go away from there without getting noticed.

The ironmaster assumed that he felt embarrassed because of his miserable clothing.

Word Meaning
Embarrassed Ashamed
Miserable Poor

The ironmaster thought that the tramp was ashamed of his poor clothes.

‘‘Please don’t think that I have such a fine home that you cannot show yourself there’’, He said… ‘‘Elizabeth is dead, as you may already have heard. My boys are abroad, and there is no one at home except my oldest daughter and myself.

The ironmaster told tramp that he should not think the house is very good and he cannot come there. He said that Elizabeth had died. The tramp might have heard. (Elizabeth was wife of ironmaster). My sons live in foreign countries. Only I and my eldest daughter live in the house.

We were just saying that it was too bad we didn’t have any company for Christmas. Now come along with me and help us make the Christmas food disappear a little faster.”

The ironmaster explained that they did not have any company for Christmas. They were sad about it. He requested the tramp to come to their home and eat food prepared on the occasion of Christmas.

But the stranger said no, and no, and again no, and the ironmaster saw that he must give in.

But the tramp repeatedly said no. Now ironmaster understood that he will need to stop requesting the tramp.

‘‘It looks as though Captain von Stahle preferred to stay with you tonight, Stjernstrom’’, he said to the master blacksmith, and turned on his heel.

Name of the blacksmith is Stjernstrom. The ironmaster said to blacksmith that Captain von Stahle likes to stay with him tonight. And then he turned back. (Captain von Stahle was the name of his colleague in the regiment)

But he laughed to himself as he went away, and the blacksmith, who knew him, understood very well that he had not said his last word.

The ironmaster laughed while he went away. The blacksmith knew habit of the ironmaster. So he understood that the ironmaster will surely do something more.

It was not more than half an hour before they heard the sound of carriage wheels outside the forge, and a new guest came in, but this time it was not the ironmaster.

Within half an hour there was a sound of a carriage outside the forge. (Meaning that a carriage stopped outside the forge). But in this carriage ironmaster had not come but a new person had come.

He had sent his daughter, apparently hoping that she would have better powers of persuasion than he himself.

The ironmaster had sent his daughter to persuade the tramp to come home. He might have thought that his daughter was more skillful in convincing.

She entered, followed by a valet, carrying on his arm a big fur coat. She was not at all pretty, but seemed modest and quite shy.

Word Meaning
Valet Personal servant
Modest Humble, Simple

She came to the forge. A servant was with her. He was carrying a large coat made of fur. She was not beautiful. But she looked humble and shy.

In the forge everything was just as it had been earlier in the evening. The master blacksmith and his apprentice still sat on their bench, and iron and charcoal still glowed in the furnace.

In the forge nothing had changed since evening. The master blacksmith and his trainee were sitting on their bench. There was glow (shine) of iron and coal in the furnace.

The stranger had stretched himself out on the floor and lay with a piece of pig iron under his head and his hat pulled down over his eyes.

The stranger (tramp) was sleeping on the floor. He had kept a piece of pig iron below his head. He was using it as a pillow. His hat was covering his eyes.

As soon as the young girl caught sight of him, she went up and lifted his hat. The man was evidently used to sleeping with one eye open. He jumped up abruptly and seemed to be quite frightened.

Word Meaning
Caught sight of him Saw him
Evidently Obvioulsy, Clearly
Abruptly With a jerk, Unexpectedly
Frightened Afraid

When the young girl saw the stranger, she went to him and lifted his hat. The tramps had the habit of keeping his one eye open while sleeping. He jumped with a jerk and appeared frightened.

‘‘My name is Edla Willmansson,’’ said the young girl. ‘‘My father came home and said that you wanted to sleep here in the forge tonight, and then I asked permission to come and bring you home to us. I am so sorry, Captain, that you are having such a hard time.’’

The young girl told him that her name was Edla Willmansson. She said that her father had come home and had told her that you wanted to sleep in the forge. My father has given me permission to come here and take you home to stay with us. She addressed him as Captain and said that she felt bad to know that he was having difficult time.

She looked at him compassionately, with her heavy eyes, and then she noticed that the man was afraid.

Word Meaning
Compassionately With sympathy
Heavy eyes Large eyes

She had large eyes. She looked at him with sympathy and she noticed that he was afraid.

‘‘Either he has stolen something or else he has escaped from, jail’’, she thought, and added quickly, “You may be sure, Captain, that you will be allowed to leave us just as freely as you came. Only please stay with us over Christmas Eve.’’

Word Meaning
Christmas Eve The day before Christmas

She thought the paddler has either stolen something or has run away from jail. She said that the captain will not be forcefully kept in the house. He will have the liberty to go whenever he wanted. She requested him to stay with them for the Christmas Eve.

She said this in such a friendly manner that the rattrap peddler must have felt confidence in her.

She said these words in very friendly manner. The paddler felt confidence in her. (Means he believed her)

‘‘It would never have occurred to me that you would bother with me yourself, miss,’’ he said. ‘’I will come at once.’’

The peddler told her that he could not imagine that she will herself take the trouble of coming to forge. He said that he will come immediately.

He accepted the fur coat, which the valet handed him with a deep bow, threw it over his rags, and followed the young lady out to the carriage, without granting the astonished blacksmiths so much as a glance.

Word Meaning
Bow Bend as mark of respect
Astonished Surprised

The servant bowed before him and gave him the fur coat. The peddler took the coat and put it on his torn cloths. He followed the young lady. The blacksmiths were surprised to see all this. The peddler did not look at them while going.

But while he was riding up to the manor house he had evil forebodings.

Word Meaning
Evil Bad
Foreboding Feeling that something bad will happen

While riding in the carriage to the farm house, the paddler started feeling that something bad may happen.

‘‘Why the devil did I take that fellow’s money?’’ he thought. ‘‘Now I am sitting in the trap and will never get out of it.’’

The peddler started thinking why he stole the money of the crofter. And now he found himself in the trap. He thought that he would never come out of the trap.

The next day was Christmas Eve, and when the ironmaster came into the dining room for breakfast he probably thought with satisfaction of his old regimental comrade whom he had run across so unexpectedly.

Word Meaning
Run across Met
Unexpectedly Without planning, Without anticipation

The next day was Christmas Eve. The ironmaster came to dining room for breakfast. He was feeling satisfied for having met his colleague so unexpectedly.

“First of all we must see to it that he gets a little flesh on his bones,” he said to his daughter, who was busy at the table. “And then we must see that he gets something else to do than to run around the country selling rattraps.”

Word Meaning
Get flesh on bones Wear clothes

His daughter was busy at the dining table. He told his daughter that first they should give the tramp some clothes to wear. Then we must ensure that he gets some work. This work should be different from moving across the country for selling rattraps.

“It is queer that things have gone downhill with him as badly as that,” said the daughter. “Last night I did not think there was anything about him to show that he had once been an educated man.”

Word Meaning
Queer Strange
Things have gone downhill To become bad

The daughter said that it was very strange that situation had become so bad for the tramp. Last night she did not see anything in the tramp to conclude that he was an educated person. (She thought he was uneducated person)

“You must have patience, my little girl,” said the father. “As soon as he gets clean and dressed up, you will see something different. Last night he was naturally embarrassed. The tramp manners will fall away from him with the tramp clothes.”

Word Meaning
Fall away Go away, Disappear

Father told her daughter to have some patience. He told that when the tramp washes himself and wears new cloth we would see the difference. Last night he was ashamed. The bad manners will go away when he changes his cloths to new ones.

Just as he said this the door opened and the stranger entered. Yes, now he was truly clean and well dressed. The valet had bathed him, cut his hair, and shaved him.

Word Meaning
Bathe To take bath

Immediately after the ironmaster had completed his sentence, the door opened and the tramp entered the dining room. He was now clean and wearing nice clothes. The servant had cut his hair, shaved him and had given him a bath.

Moreover he was dressed in a good-looking suit of clothes which belonged to the ironmaster. He wore a white shirt and a starched collar and whole shoes. But although his guest was now so well groomed, the ironmaster did not seem pleased.

Word Meaning
Starched collar Collar made stiff by starch
Whole shoes  Shoes reaching above ankles
Well groomed Nicely dressed

In addition to above, the tramp was wearing a nice suit of the ironmaster. He was wearing a white shirt, a stiff collar and shoes. Though the guest was now well dressed, the ironmaster did not look happy.

He looked at him with puckered brow, and it was easy to understand that when he had seen the strange fellow in the uncertain reflection from the furnace he might have made a mistake, but that now, when he stood there in broad daylight, it was impossible to mistake him for an old acquaintance.

Word Meaning
Puckered brow Folded or raised eyebrows

The ironmaster looked at the peddler with raised and twisted eyebrows. He understood that he had made a mistake in recognizing him when he had seen the peddler in the dim light of the furnace. But now the tramp was standing in enough light of day time. So he made no mistake in realizing that the tramp was not his old acquaintance.

“What does this mean?” he thundered. The stranger made no attempt to dissimulate. He saw at once that the splendour had come to an end.

Word Meaning
Thundered Shouted
Dissimulate Conceal, Pretend
Splendour Luxury

The ironmaster shouted at the tramp and asked him why tramp came to his house. The stranger made no excuse. He had understood that his days of luxury were over.

“It is not my fault, sir,” he said. “I never pretended to be anything but a poor trader, and I pleaded and begged to be allowed to stay in the forge. But no harm has been done. At worst I can put on my rags again and go away”.

Word Meaning
Pretend To make excuse
Pleaded Argued
Begged Requested

The stranger replied that it was not his fault. He had said that he was a poor trader. He had not pretended to be any other person. The stranger had requested to allow him to stay at the forge. I have not done any harm to you. The stranger was ready to once again wear his rags and go away from there.

“Well,” said the ironmaster, hesitating a little, “it was not quite honest, either. You must admit that, and I should not be surprised if the sheriff would like to have something to say in the matter.”

Word Meaning
Admit Accept
Sheriff Officer of the town

The ironmaster replied that the tramp was not honest on his part. He further told that tramp must accept that. The ironmaster intends to call the sheriff to handover the tramp to him. So he says that he would like to seek opinion of Sheriff in this matter.

The tramp took a step forward and struck the table with his fist. “Now I am going to tell you, Mr Ironmaster, how things are,” he said.

The tramp came forward and hit the table with his fist. He said to ironmaster that he would explain what the situation was.

“This whole world is nothing but a big rattrap. All the good things that are offered to you are nothing but cheese rinds and bits of pork, set out to drag a poor fellow into trouble. And if the sheriff comes now and locks me up for this, then you, Mr Ironmaster, must remember that a day may come when you yourself may want to get a big piece of pork, and then you will get caught in the trap.”

Word Meaning
Set out Intended, Meant
Cheese rinds Flakes of cheese
Drag To pull
Locks up To imprison

This complete world is a rattrap. All good things in this world are baits meant to pull a person into the trap or trouble. If you call Sheriff he may put me into the prison. But, Mr Ironmaster, please remember someday you may also get attracted to a bait and get caught in the trap. (This was the curse rattrap maker gave to the ironmaster. This was an attempt by him to avoid getting arrested by the Sherrif)

The ironmaster began to laugh. “That was not so badly said, my good fellow. Perhaps we should let the sheriff alone on Christmas Eve. But now get out of here as fast as you can.”

Word Meaning
Let somebody alone Not to disturb him
As fast as Immediately

The ironmaster laughed at the tramp. He said that the tramp had uttered his dialogues very well. We should not disturb the Sheriff on Christmas Eve. He asked the tramp to go out of his house immediately.

But just as the man was opening the door, the daughter said, “I think he ought to stay with us today. I don’t want him to go.” And with that she went and closed the door.

The tramp started opening the door to go out. The daughter said that she did not want him to go out, he should stay with them on that day. After saying this she closed the door.

“What in the world are you doing?” said the father. The daughter stood there quite embarrassed and hardly knew what to answer.

The ironmaster asked her what she was doing. He meant why she was doing it. The daughter was ashamed of her act. She stood there but did not reply anything.

That morning she had felt so happy when she thought how homelike and Christmassy she was going to make things for the poor hungry wretch. She could not get away from the idea all at once, and that was why she had interceded for the vagabond.

Word Meaning
Wretch Unfortunate person
Intercede Intervene

In the morning Edla had thought she would give a homely treatment to the tramp. She had considered him a poor, hungry and an unfortunate person. She will make everything good on the occasion of Christmas. So that the peddler feels it was a festival day. She could not remove her thoughts immediately. Therefore she had intervened to favour the vagabond.

“I am thinking of this stranger here,” said the young girl. “He walks and walks the whole year long, and there is probably not a single place in the whole country where he is welcome and can feel at home.

The girl explained that she was thinking about the stranger. He walks throughout the year. Probably nowhere in the country he is welcomed and can get a homely environment.

Wherever he turns he is chased away. Always he is afraid of being arrested and cross-examined. I should like to have him enjoy a day of peace with us here — just one in the whole year.”

Wherever he goes, people ask him to go away. He has a fear of getting arrested and questioned by police. I want him to have one peaceful day with us – only one day in the full year.

The ironmaster mumbled something in his beard. He could not bring himself to oppose her.

Word Meaning
Mumbled Murmured, Spoke unclearly
Say something in beard Say in very low voice, Not audible

The ironmaster said something unclearly. It could not be heard. He could not oppose her thoughts.

“It was all a mistake, of course,” she continued. “But anyway I don’t think we ought to chase away a human being whom we have asked to come here, and to whom we have promised Christmas cheer.”

Word Meaning
Chase away Order to go away
Cheer Happiness

Edla continued to say that it was certainly their mistake to bring the stranger home. But we have brought him here and promised happiness on Christmas. Therefore we should not order him to go away.

“You do preach worse than a parson,” said the ironmaster. “I only hope you won’t have to regret this.”

Word Meaning
Preach Speak, Teach, Advocate
Parson Priest
Regret Repent, Feel sorry

The ironmaster said that her arguments were worse than teaching by a priest. He hoped that she would not have to repent her decision. [Meaning that nothing bad would happen or occur at their house]

The young girl took the stranger by the hand and led him up to the table. “Now sit down and eat,” she said, for she could see that her father had given in.

Word Meaning
Give in Accept

Edla held the stranger by his hand and brought him to the dining table. She requested him to eat food. She did this because she had understood that her father had accepted her thought.

The man with the rattraps said not a word; he only sat down and helped himself to the food. Time after time he looked at the young girl who had interceded for him.

Why had she done it? What could the crazy idea be?

Word Meaning
Crazy Strange, Enthusiastic

The peddler did not say anything. He sat down and ate food. Again and again he was looking at the girl who had intervened to favour him. He could not understand why she had done that. He did not know how this strange idea came to her. He could not understand her thoughts that forced her to stop him at her house.

After that, Christmas Eve at Ramsjo passed just as it always had. The stranger did not cause any trouble because he did nothing but sleep. The whole forenoon he lay on the sofa in one of the guest rooms and slept at one stretch.

After that incident, everything was usual at Ramsjo on that Christmas Eve. The stranger did not make any trouble. He was sleeping and did nothing. During full afternoon he was sleeping on the sofa of guest room. He did not wake up in between.

At noon they woke him up so that he could have his share of the good Christmas fare, but after that he slept again. It seemed as though for many years he had not been able to sleep as quietly and safely as here at Ramsjo.

In the afternoon they woke up the stranger so that he could have good food prepared for Christmas. After taking food the tramp again slept. It appeared that he had not slept since many years. Probably he  had never experienced  quiet and safe environment  as that of house of ironmaster.

In the evening, when the Christmas tree was lighted, they woke him up again, and he stood for a while in the drawing room, blinking as though the candlelight hurt him, but after that he disappeared again.

In the evening, lights of Christmas tree were switched on. They woke up the stranger. He was standing for some time in the drawing room. His eyes were blinking as if he could not tolerate lights of candles. After that he again went to sleep.

Two hours later he was aroused once more. He then had to go down into the dining room and eat the Christmas fish and porridge.

After two hours they again woke up the peddler. He came to dining room to eat fish and porridge prepared for Christmas.

As soon as they got up from the table he went around to each one present and said thank you and good night, but when he came to the young girl she gave him to understand that it was her father’s intention that the suit which he wore was to be a Christmas present — he did not have to return it; and if he wanted to spend next Christmas Eve in a place where he could rest in peace, and be sure that no evil would befall him, he would be welcomed back again.

Everybody completed dinner and got up from the table. The tramp went to everybody and said thank you and goodnight. Then he came to say thank you to Edla. She told him that her father wants to gift him the suit he was wearing as a Christmas present. He need not return the suit. She further told him that he would be welcomed to their house on next Christmas Eve also. She assured him that he would be able to take rest in peaceful environment and nothing bad would happen to him.

The man with the rattraps did not answer anything to this. He only stared at the young girl in boundless amazement.

Word Meaning
Boundless Unlimited
Amazement Surprise

The rattrap maker did not reply anything. He looked at Edla with unlimited great surprise.

The next morning the ironmaster and his daughter got up in good season to go to the early Christmas service. Their guest was still asleep, and they did not disturb him.

Word Meaning
Christmas service Prayer on Christmas day

Next morning the ironmaster and Edla got up early in the morning to go the Church for Christmas Prayer. The tramp was sleeping and they did not wake him up.

When, at about ten o’clock, they drove back from the church, the young girl sat and hung her head even more dejectedly than usual. At church she had learned that one of the old crofters of the ironworks had been robbed by a man who went around selling rattraps.

Word Meaning
Dejectedly With disappointment, depressed

Around ten o’ clock they were coming back from the church. The young girl was looking down. Her head was bowed. She was very sad – more than usual. At church she understood that one of their old crofters was looted by a person. That person used to move around to sell rattraps. She had understood that the person at their house was a thief.

“Yes, that was a fine fellow you let into the house,” said her father. “I only wonder how many silver spoons are left in the cupboard by this time.”

Her father told Edla that she had allowed a good person to stay in their house. He wondered how many silver tea spoons would be left in their house by the time they reached home. Father was sarcastic of her decision. He also feared about a theft in the house.

The wagon had hardly stopped at the front steps when the ironmaster asked the valet whether the stranger was still there. He added that he had heard at church that the man was a thief.

The carriage had barely stopped at the house. The ironmaster asked valet if the stranger was still in the house. The ironmaster also told him that the stranger was a thief. They had come to know about this at the church.

The valet answered that the fellow had gone and that he had not taken anything with him at all.

The servant answered that the stranger had already left the house. He had not taken anything with him.

On the contrary, he had left behind a little package which Miss Willmansson was to be kind enough to accept as a Christmas present.

Word Meaning
On the contrary Opposite

Opposite to taking anything, he has left a small packet as a Christmas gift for Miss Willmansson. He has requested her to kindly accept the gift.

The young girl opened the package, which was so badly done up that the contents came into view at once. She gave a little cry of joy.

The young girl opened the packet. It was very poorly wrapped. So its contents could be immediately seen. She screamed with joy.

She found a small rattrap, and in it lay three wrinkled ten kronor notes. But that was not all. In the rattrap lay also a letter written in large, jagged characters —

The gift was a small rattrap. In the rattrap, there were three ten kronor notes. (The same notes the tramp had stolen from the crofter.) But that was not the only thing in rattrap. There was a letter. It was written in rough and big letters. (Meaning that handwriting was not good)

“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 thief; 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.

Respected and gentle Miss, you have been very nice to me throughout the day. You gave me respect as if I was a captain. I want to be nice to you as if I were a real captain. I do not want you to feel ashamed on the Christmas festival season by a thief. Please return the money to the old person living on the side of the road. His money pouch was hanging on the window frame. This was a bait for poor persons moving around.

“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.

The rattrap is a Christmas present from the person who was a rat. He was caught in the rattrap of this world. But you have made him a Captain. Because of you he got the strength to become clear in his heart.

“Written with friendship and high regard, “Captain von Stahle.”

Written with friendship and high respect to you. He signed the letter as Captain von Stahle



Important Links
The Rattrap – Textbook Q&A The Rattrap – Extra Q&A
Deep Water – Explanation Indigo – Explanation
Deep Water – Textbook Q&A Indigo – Textbook Q&A
Deep Water – Extra Q&A Indigo – Extra Q&A
Passages Note Making
Letter Writing Notice Writing
Advertisement Writing Article Writing
Report Writing





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