Arthur excitedly arrives at the train station and finds a seat in an empty compartment. He loves train travel, and feels cheery and cozy as the train departs London. After changing trains twice, heading northeast all the while, Arthur begins to feel uncomfortable—the air is cold and gusty, and the train he transfers to for the tail end of the journey is far less comfortable than the train that shuttled him out of London.
Though Arthur’s journey starts out pleasantly enough, as it goes on, Arthur is forced to endure increasingly uncomfortable conditions—the second sign, counting the fog, that Arthur’s journey is misguided and will be more difficult than imagined.
Arthur settles into his new compartment, and soon another man joins him inside. The two make small talk about the weather, and Arthur confesses he is saddened to find he traded fog for rain. The man warns Arthur that he has not escaped the fog—in this part of the country, “terrible” sea-mists roll up out of nowhere often, though the worst of them don’t reach Crythin Gifford. Arthur mentions that he’s staying at the Gifford Arms this very evening, but then, not wanting to discuss his business any further, begins reading his newspaper.
The fact that fogs and sea-mists roll up suddenly in this part of the country, creating blindness and isolation, is yet another warning sign about the place Arthur is travelling to. He chooses to ignore this, however, just as he has ignored everything else, and regards the man informing him of the place he’s travelling to as something of a nuisance.
Arthur’s companion suddenly says “Mrs. Drablow” aloud. Arthur is startled, and then realizes that his companion has read the name “Drablow” off a large envelope of papers on the seat beside Arthur. The man asks Arthur if he is related to Mrs. Drablow, but Arthur says he’s only her solicitor. Arthur’s companion asks if he is bound for the funeral, and speculates that Arthur will be about the only one there. Arthur, curious to know more about the mysterious Mrs. Drablow, asks his companion whether she was truly a recluse.
Arthur’s companion’s knowledge about Mrs. Drablow shows both just how small a town Arthur is headed to—and how large Mrs. Drablow’s reputation within it truly was.
The man, realizing he and Arthur are heading into a deeper conversation, introduces himself as Samuel Daily. Daily tells Arthur that when someone lives in such a place as Eel Marsh House, growing eccentric becomes “a good deal easier.” Arthur, spooked by the idea of such a house, changes the subject, and asks how far there is to go—Daily answers that there are about twelve miles left to Crythin Gifford, a “far-flung” and marshy town. Despite its obscurity, Daily insists, the town is a hospitable place. He offers to drop Arthur at the inn, Gifford Arms, on his way back into town, and Arthur accepts the offer.
When Daily begins revealing the details of Mrs. Drablow’s curious existence, Arthur finds himself unsettled despite knowing very little, and previously having seen her whole existence as so ridiculous it seemed to come from a novel. Arthur eagerly accepts Daily’s offer of kindness—perhaps realizing that having a friend in this peculiar place would not be a bad idea.