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Plot Description

Spoiler warning! The setting for this story is a dinner party at the home of stock broker Mike Schofield. The guests include Schofield and his wife and daughter, the narrator and his wife, and a man called Richard Pratt. Pratt is a famous gourmet and enjoys showing off his knowledge of fine wine and food. He is also a thoroughly unpleasant man. Both times prior that Pratt dined with Schofield, the two men made a curious bet: Schofield bet that Pratt could not identify some special wine that he had procured for the night. Pratt had always won. On the night this story takes place, Schofield thinks that he will finally win one over on the gourmet. He has a very rare bottle of claret from a tiny chateau in France, and he boasts that Pratt will never be able to guess it. Pratt, who had been spending the night engrossed in conversation with Schofield’s daughter Louise, takes the bet and asks to up the stakes. He offers to bet two of his houses against the hand of Louise in marriage. Both Louise and her mother are against it, but Schofield manages to convince them to accept. He believes that Pratt has no chance of winning. Pratt then proceeds to smell and taste the wine, and he slowly begins to narrow down its possible origin. Eventually he gets the correct answer and Schofield sits there horrified. Just as Pratt is starting to get nasty about the bet, the house maid appears at his arm and offers him his spectacles, which he had misplaced earlier. He takes no notice of her, but she stands her ground and reminds him (rather loudly) that he left them in Mr. Schofield’s study on top of the filing cabinet when he went in there that evening… which is just where Pratt, on a previous visit, had advised Schofield to leave his wines to “breathe”. In other words, he cheated!


Criticism and Analysis

Fun Stuff

Teacher Ideas


Redpath Press, 1986

Spanish Covers

Nórdica Libros, 2016
Nórdica Libros, 2016