I Want Something in a Cage – Summary

I Want Something in a Cage is written by L. E. Greeve.


Mr Purcell owned a pet shop. He sold cats and dogs and monkeys. He also sold fish food and bird seed. The birds and other small creatures were closed up in cages. They moved about madly in circles. They made a lot of noise. But Purcell was used to that.

Each morning Purcell sat on a high stool behind the counter to read the morning paper. As he read, he smiled or frowned. It was a rough day. A fainted wind was blowing. A bell at the door rang whenever a customer entered the shop. That morning it didn’t ring. A stranger entered the shop and stood before the owner.

The man wore a cheap, ill-fitting suit. His hair was cut short. He ran his eyes around at the cages. He said he wanted something in a cage, something small, a bird. He pointed to a cage which contained two white doves. Purcell demanded the price five dollars and fifty cents. The man felt sad. He wanted to have those birds but he had only five dollars. Purcell finalised the deal and handed the cage to his customer. The man asked Purcell if he was not disturbed by the noise. Purcell, however, didn’t hear any noise.

The stranger then told Purcell that he had earned those five dollars after ten years of hard labour in prison, fifty cents a year. He turned around and walked out of the store. Just outside, he held the cage high and drew out one of the doves and then the second one. He set them free into the air. Then he dropped the cage and walked away.

Purcell stood perplexed. He wondered why the man had let the birds loose. Anyway, he felt sort of insulted. While he was robbing the pets of their freedom, the stranger had spent his total earning on buying and then liberating them.

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