Mr Purcell and his Noisy Shop

Mr Purcell was a small and fussy man. He had red cheeks and a tight little stomach. He owned a pet  shop, which sold cats, dogs, monkeys and birds. He also sold fish food and bird seeds along with showy and gilded cages. He considered himself to be a professional man.

With so many pets and caged birds, there was an all pervading noise in Mr Purcell’s shop: whispered twitters, sly rustling; squeals, cheeps and sudden squeaks. The customers who came to the shop would not mind the noise for they found several cute birds behind the cages. Mr Purcell could not but be proud of his collection.

The Day the Stranger Customer Came to his Shop

On the day when the strange customer came to the shop, Mr Purcell had followed the same old routine. It was a cold morning and the air was thick with a grey frost. Mr Purcell was sitting on his high stool, reading his newspaper, when the strange customer entered the shop. Unlike the usual days, he did not hear the bell over the door jingle. Despite various noises in his shop, it had never happened that Mr Purcell did not hear the bell ring; the bell always jingled when a customer entered.

Every morning, after having opened the shop, Mr Purcell would place himself on a high stool and read the daily newspaper, In accordance with the different news items, Mr Purcell’s face would reflect myriad emotions and expressions.

The Strange Customer

The moment the strange customer entered the shop, Mr Purcell knew that the customer disliked him. The man wore shiny shoes, but his suit though new was ill-fitted and cheap. He ignored the owner of the shop and cast a quick glance over the contents placed on the shelves. On being asked by Mr Purcell, the man said that he wanted “Something in a cage. Something that was small.” Not being very clear about what he wanted, Mr Purcell offered him a white rat. However, he turned it down saying that he wanted something that had wings.

The Price of the Bird and the Strange Questions

Mr Purcell, then, indicated birds and he selected two doves. On being asked about the price of the doves, Mr Purcell informed him that they were on sale for “fifty-five.” The customer, however, brought out a five dollar notes and told Mr Purcell that was all he had. Mr Purcell realising that it was still a profitable deal, agreed to it. Mr Purcell handed over the cage with a pair of doves to his customer.

The strange customer, then, asked a very strange question to Mr Purcell. He asked Mr Purcell if he would know how much time he spent to earn five dollars. Mr Purcell, unable to answer, asked the customer to provide the details. The strange man told Mr Purcell that it took him ten years of hard labour to earn those five dollars. The man went on to say that in the place where he spent that time, one only manages to earn five dollars and a cheap suit along with a warning to never be caught again.

The Strange Act

Finally, Mr Purcell breathed a sigh of relief as his customer left. At the same time, staring out of the window, he saw his customer holding the cage above his shoulders and unlocking it. Mr Purcell saw his customer release both the doves, one after the other. Mr Purcell was shocked. A little while ago the customer had desperately wanted the doves and was negotiating so as to attain them. In the next moment, he released them, without a reflection. Mr Purcell could not understand this strange act, but felt vaguely insulted.