On a cold and frosty evening, the narrator is equivocal about attending a Christmas party at Kapadias. Outside, the roads are wet with patches of snow, making him more to stick with his lethargy. Somehow he musters up courage and wears double sweaters, rolls up a scarf, and put the overcoat. From his cottage the destination is about a mile. While walking alone he meets a girl midway, who too is going for the party. She introduces herself as Julie. She must be around sixteen or seventeen years of old, the narrator thinks. The narrator is new to the hilly place; thus, he finds it difficult to sketch her background in his mind.
At the party everyone thinks that Julie is a friend of the narrator and he thinks that she knows Kapadias personally. She is scarcely eating or drinking anything but enjoying the music and dance. At midnight, the narrator is over-the-top drunk and starts back for home. Julie comes with him. At midpoint, she takes another route – she says her home address is Wolfsburn. Snow is falling and the night is braving severe coldness, the narrator offers his overcoat to her for protection from the cold and says that he will collect the coat from her tomorrow. They part away.
Next day the narrator reaches the home – Wolfsburn. The home is dilapidated. He thinks that he has come to a wrong house or he is being fooled by that girl. From the neighborhood, he inquires about the girl called Julie and the house. Mrs. Taylor informs that the house was abandoned forty years ago by the Mackinnon family when their only child Julie died of Consumption (tuberculosis). The narrator walks up to the nearby cemetery, under the shade of deodars lay many tombstones of builders, empires, children, soldiers, etc.
He finds her grave, though all other graves have been withered by snow and rain, but her grave seems unaffected – like a new one. Around the headstone he sees his overcoat, he takes it and walks away.
The Overcoat by Ruskin Bond doesn't look like a ghost story but the end climax confirms that the girl whom the narrator met was not human, she came from the cemetery. As the writer himself says that in the mountains ghost rumours or stories are too common. This story is light, yet engrossing. The way Ruskin steers ghost or spirit-oriented stories for an unexpected climax is worth noting. Well, most of the spirits in his supernatural-type stories are girls only. The Overcoat is a fantastic story; it will leave you craving for more of Mr. Bond's stories.