- First published:
- November 1953 issue of Town and Country
- Related books:
- TV Shows:
- Tales of the Unexpected (1979)
This story has a very autobiographical feeling to it, and one can’t help but wonder whether it actually happened to Dahl or not. His feelings about the English Public School system are well-documented (see Boy – Tales of Childhood or Jeremy Treglown’s Roald Dahl: A Biography), and he loads this short story full of so many intense details that it seems unlikely he would ever make such a thing up. Perkins also attends Repton, where Dahl himself went to school.
Spoiler warning! The story, if indeed it can be called that (since there really isn’t much of a plot at all), is about a “contented commuter” named William Perkins. He is a distinguished businessman and prides himself on the regularity and precision with which he goes about his daily routine. One day his peace is shattered, however, when a newcomer joins the usual group waiting for the commuter train. After several days of grudging conversation with this obnoxious man, Perkins suddenly recognizes him as Bruce “Galloping” Foxley, an older boy who sadistically tormented and tortured him for years in school. The entire story then comes to a grinding halt as fifty-year-old memories begin to flood Perkins: warming the toilet seat for Foxley, cleaning Foxley’s study, receiving a beating from Foxley. As Perkins becomes more and more shaken by these memories, he decides to reveal himself to the man and watch his reaction. He leans over and introduces himself: “My name is Perkins – William Perkins – and I was at Repton in 1907.” Imagine his surprise, then, when his companion answers, “I’m glad to meet you. Mine’s Fortescue – Jocelyn Fortescue, Eton 1916.” He is NOT Galloping Foxley!
- “The Art of Vengeance” by Joyce Carol Oates (The New York Review of Books)
- “Galloping Foxley” – Classroom Activities
- Includes a number of questions and exercises pertaining to the story