Running away from a failed love affair, the lead character of the story, a very shy, bashful man, finds himself snowed up in a remote coaching inn called The Holly Tree. He spends much of the next seven days recalling strange tales of inns around Great Britain, Europe and America and remembering those which he has himself visited.
After several days he overcomes his shyness sufficiently to ask the boot-boy for a drink and a chat. The boots has his own extraordinary yarn to tell about two small children who elope to Gretna Green to marry in secret. When at last the road to the village is dug out sufficiently for the traveller to leave, the tale takes a strange turn...
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