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Short Stories

"Parson's Pleasure"

Information   Plot/Description   Teacher Resources


Information


Plot/Description

Interesting note: the protagonist of this story, Mr. Boggis, has the same name as one of the farmers in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Also, three of the characters from this story (Claud, Bert, and Mr. Rummins) appear in several of Dahl's other short stories in Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.

Spoiler Warning! Mr. Cyril Boggis is an antiques dealer in Chelsea, London. He doesn't have a large shop, but he still manages to make a tidy income each year by buying the most remarkable pieces of furniture at very, very cheap prices and selling them for immense profits. His friends in the trade wonder where he finds such rare items so regularly. It turns out that Mr. Boggis's scheme is rather simple: he dresses up as a clergyman and visits English farmhouses under the pretenses of writing articles for the Society for the Preservation of Rare Furniture. When he finds something valuable, he makes the person an offer and then sells the item in his shop for twenty times as much. On this particular trip he's canvassing the county of Buckinghamshire and comes across three locals (Claud, Bert, and Rummins) near a dirty, ramshackle farmhouse. Once he convinces them to let him inside, he is flabbergasted to see a Chippendale Commode standing in the living room. The Commodes were made by the famous 18th-century furniture maker Thomas Chippendale, and only three others were known to be in existence. Boggis nearly faints when he realizes that this piece could fetch up to twenty thousand pounds in an auction. He recovers, though, and mentions that he needs a new set of legs for a table he has at home. The ones on the commode, he says, would just fit. Rummins is doubtful, and so Boggis cons him into thinking that the piece is simply a worthless Victorian reproduction. He finally ends up purchasing the commode for the grand total of twenty pounds. After he leaves to get his car, the three men decide to help him out by cutting the legs off for him. Rummins also speculates that the parson might back out of the deal if he can't fit the entire piece into his car (he doesn't know that Boggis has a station wagon), so Claud takes an axe and breaks the commode to pieces. "I'll tell you one thing," he says. "That was a bloody good carpenter put this job together and I don't care what the parson says." At that moment, Mr. Boggis drives up in his car.


Teacher Resources

  • "Parson's Pleasure"

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