Roald Dahl Fans.com

“The Butler Did It”

Sections: Information | Plot Description 


Information

  • First published:
    • May 1974 issue of Travel and Leisure
  • Also known as:

Plot Description

Spoiler warning! This is a very short little story in which a British butler and a French chef outwit an obnoxious nouveau riche millionaire (probably meant to be American, judging by his name and accent). This millionaire, Mr. Cleaver, wants desperately to become the toast of society. He throws dinner many dinner parties, but none of them ever really seems to “come off.” The butler, Tibbs, explains that this is because the host serves the guests a “cheap and very odious Spanish red [wine].” At his employer’s request, then, Tibbs begins stocking the wine cellar with some of the most rare and exquisite and expensive wines in the world. Mr. Cleaver even studies to become a wine connoiseur. The parties, however, do not improve. Tibbs then explains that this is because Mr. Cleaver has instructed the chef to prepare the salad dressing with vinegar. Vinegar, he explains, is the enemy of wine and leaves you unable to taste it. “Hogwash,” says his employer. That very same night Mr. Cleaver begins to expound upon the virtues of the French wine he believes he is drinking… until Tibbs points out that it is the same cheap and odious Spanish red that he has always served. He claims that great wines should be revered and that he and Monsieur Estragon, the chef, have finished all of the bottles themselves. Then he walks out the door to the waiting car Monsieur Estragon has already packed with their belongings.