A Basketful of Sea-Trout
Note: This study guide is submitted by an anonymous person. Kindly contact us if you have any question or objection.
A Basketful of Sea Trout” is a short play written by Neil Grant. The play is about the murder mystery of Nellie Salter, a beautiful young woman. There were two people who were suspected of the murder, Hector Lomond, her lover and Mrs Lomond, Hector’s mother. Hector was released from the custody as no evidence was found against him and Mrs Lomond denied any knowledge about Nellie’s movement as she was basking on the beach the whole day. After the judge gave his verdict, Mrs Lomond visited his lodge one night, with the gratitude gift of ‘basketful of sea touts’ for the judge. Then she gave minute details of Nellie’s movement on the day of the murder, which made the judge and his guest Brodie susceptible of Mrs Lomond being the murderer.
The play, ‘A Basketful of Sea Trout’ is a mystery play. It has four visible characters. Lord Findhorn, Brodie, Colonel Allardyce and Jean Lomond. We have characters like Nellie Salter, Hector Lomond, Inspector Souter who we only know through other characters they are not visible on the stage.
Brodie and the Judge Findhorn have conversation and discussion about the mysterious murder of Nellie Salter. There was no clear evidence as to who was involved in the murder. Mrs Lomond’s son, a lover of Nellie Salter was arrested for interrogation. But he was later acquitted on not being found guilty by the court. Mrs Lomond was also suspected but she evaded the issue by telling the court that she was on the beach all through the day and had no information about the moments of Nellie Salter on that day.
During this discussion of Brodie and Findhorn, Mrs Lomond had suddenly entered the room and thanked the judge for acquitting her son Hector. She had come to the judge’s lodge a pitch-dark night with a basketful of sea Trout as a gift for the favour from the judge. She had thought that the judge had favoured her by releasing her son. During her conversation with the two people she gave a detailed description of Nellie’s movements before her murder which was absolutely unexpected of her as in the court, she had outrightly denied having any information about Nellie’s movements on the day of her murder. She unveiled such facts about Nellie’s movements which were quite unknown to anyone else.
Nellie is getting to ready to meet an airman, her dressing for the occasion, her going up on the hillside, applying paint and powder, looking around on the hills and the lake was heard for the first time by the judge and Brodie. She gave an accurate description of even the slightest movements of Nellie. She could recall the words that Nellie uttered. The judge and his guest were stupefied and surprised how she knew all that. Thus, they concluded that she must have followed Nellie Salter and then killed her.
Meanwhile, the two asked Lomond to sit in a side room to rest for a while and started examining the case again. After sometime they heard another knock on the door and Col Allardyce who was the chief constable and in charge of this case in police station came in. The Judge shared everything about the new development in the case with Allardyce who rejected the story immediately. The Col Allardyce informed the judge that the body of Lomond was already fished from the lake by one of his officers Mr Souter. This information stupefied the two again and they refused to accept it.
They called Jean Lomond to join them but heard no voice. The opened the door of the room where Lomond had gone but she was not there now. Col Allardyce thought that the two had drunk too much and had lost their conscience. The Judge told him that she had come with a basketful of Sea Trout. All the three stepped out of the room and found the basket near the gate.
THINKING ABOUT THE TEXT
Q.1) The atmosphere is eerie and makes even the judge jumpy. Let us see how the eerie atmosphere is built up.
i. The wind: Does it moan or does it blow gently?
ii. The lodge: Is it in the heart of a village or is it isolated?
iii. Servants: Do servants live in the lodge or not?
iv. Glen: Is it silent or is it full of strange sounds?
v. Time of the day: Does the action take place at twilight or when there is pitch darkness outside?
i. The wind: The wind moans.
ii. The lodge: It is isolated place.
iii. Servants: Servants do not live in the house/lodge.
iv. Glen (valley): It is full of strange sounds.
v. Time of the day: The action takes place when there is pitch darkness outside.
Q.2 Nellie Salter ‘rejoiced in evil”. Was Mrs Lomond justified in summing up Nancy’s character in these words? If so, why?
Ans. The character by Mrs Lomond of Nellie Salter was painted as an evil character. As for as Mrs Lomond was concerned she says that Nellie Salter ruins the life of young men and feels happy to give up their lives and killing each other for her sake.
Q.3 “I have lost my son”. Why did Mrs Lomond make this statement?
Ans. Mrs Lomond had already committed suicide. And it was for the sake of her son that she first killed Nellie and then killed herself. Thus she was in the right way that she had lost her son. Actually, death had separated her from her son.
Q.4 The judge did not believe that Hector was tracking Nellie. Why?
Ans. The judge did not believe that Hector was tracking Nellie because when the case was taken into the court, no one could tell which way Nellie has taken while coming back down the hill or the way in which she had been murdered.
Q.5 Why do you think Mrs Lomond committed suicide?
Ans. Mrs Jean Lomond committed suicide for the sake of her son because she did not want that her son should be rearrested if the case of Nellie Salter’s murder was reopened. So, she wrote down a statement, confessing Nellie’s murder and then committed suicide.
Q.6 While leaving the judge’s lodge, the chief constable “it has been a most interesting experience”. Why does he say so?
Ans. He says so because it has been proved that Mrs Lomond had committed suicide in the afternoon. But it also seems certain that she visited the judge’s lodge that very night and had left a basketful of sea-trout there. So, it was truly an interesting experience for the chief constable, Mr Allardyce.
Q.7 Why was the play given the title “A basketful of sea trout”?
Ans. The title, “A Basketful of Sea-trout” is the most appropriate title for this play because the whole suspense and mystery of the play centres around the basket of trout. Without it, there could be any explanation
of Jean’s visit to the judge’s lodge. It could be said that the judge and his friend were telling lies or they were not in their right senses. The title is both the centre and the climax of the play.
B. Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.
1. How did the judge and Brodie deduce that Mrs Lomond had killed Nellie Salter?
Ans. Mrs Lamond’s own description about Nellie Salter leads the judge and Brodie to deduce that it was she who had murdered Nellie Salter. Mrs Lomond knows every detail of the way. Nellie had taken while going up the hill and also while coming back down the hill. She also knows that Nellie, while going up the hill, had taken out her make-up material and beautified herself. And then there is the dark paint in which she paints her character. She says that Nellie was a wicked woman. She attracted young men towards herself and then ruins their lives. Mrs Lomond’s son, Hector Lomond had also fallen in love with Nellie Salter and Mrs Lomond feared if her son too would be ruined by Nellie Salter. When the case was tried in the court, no one could tell anything about Nellie’s movement of the day when she was murdered. It was only Mrs Jean Lomond who came in judge’s lodge and told him and Brodie about Nellie’s those movements which no one knew.
All these details given by Mrs Jean Lomond helped the judge and Brodie to deduce that Mrs Lomond had undoubtedly killed Nellie Salter.
Q.2 Why did Mrs Lomond come to the judge’s lodge? Give two reasons?
Ans) Mrs Lomond being a mother had a great concern for the safety and happiness of her son Hector Lomond. She had killed Nellie Salter to save her son from Nellie’s false love-trap. She had committed suicide after killing Nellie. However, this painful story had been haunting Mrs Lomond even after her death. It was her perturbed and anxious ghost that visited the judge during the night. She came to the judge to confess before him that she had murdered Nellie. She, during her conversation with the judge and Brodie, made so clear statements that helped them deduce/conclude unambiguously that she had been after Nellie and murdered her in cold blood. She did it only to save her own son as well as other credulous lads from the butcherous snares of Nellie.
Secondly, Mrs Lomond had also come to get an assurance from the judge that her son’s case will not be reopened. She was afraid that her son could be rearrested and punished as he was a suspect. However, the judge assured her that her son’s case once finished would not be reopened.
What do the following phases in the lesson mean?
i. Wind is dying down = wind is subsiding.
ii. My cup of tea = of my interest
iii. Solitary sort of fellow = one who likes solitude.
iv. Untidy end = tragic end
v. Take one’s word = believe a person’s statement
vi. Go wrong = to commit a mistake
vii. Clean sheet = declare innocent.
viii. Wide awake = completely awake
ix. Get in = come in
x. Break one’s heart = to hurt someone
2. Find other words which can be used instead of the word/words in italics without changing the meaning of the sentences. Your word must begin with p.
1. Strange – Peculiar
2. Farmers – Peasants
3. Feeling for or against a criminal – Prejudice
4. Specially – Particularly
5. Organized – Programmed
6. Way – Path
7. Strong – Powerful
8. Nice – Pleasant
Verbs/ Tenses used:
(i) The wind is dying down. (Present continuous)
(ii) It seldom does in these parts. (Present simple)
(iii) How did you get in here? (Past simple)
(iv) He left for Canada yesterday. (Past simple)
(v) I will get my car to take you home. (Future simple)
An Adverb is a word which describes, (modifies) a verb, an adjective, another adverb a determiner, a noun phrase, clause, or sentence. Adverb shows ‘How, when, where, like things in a sentence.
Sweetly, Hastefully, Scornfully, Beggedly, very, Most, etc.
Examples from text are:
The door is silently opened.
She turns fiercely to Brodie.
Trying to speak lightly but failing.