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Danny the champion of the world

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Danny the Champion of the World

by Roald Dahl

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    Danny's mother died suddenly when he was only four months old and from then on he lived with his father in an old caravan at the back of a filling station, where his father also fixed cars. By the time Danny was five years old, he was able to maintain motor vehicles with his father and had been playing with car parts when he was less than a year old.

    Danny's father owned the filling station, and it was the only piece of land for miles around that was not owned by a greedy local man called Mr Victor Hazell who was determined to buy it. He also used every one of his contacts to run Danny's father off of his land (some included sending a health inspector round to inspect the caravan, and also someone to inspect the gas they were selling). This caused Danny's father to bear a grudge against Mr Hazell, and when Danny was nine years old his father went to poach pheasants from Hazell's Wood. One night Danny woke up to find his father missing, but he later returned home and explained what he had done and why. Danny's father then let him into a secret of poaching: pheasants love raisins, and placing a raisin inside a 'sticky hat' (a piece of paper rolled into a cone shape with glue on the inside) is the perfect trap to catch a pheasant in.

    One evening, Danny's father went poaching and promised to be back no later than 10.30pm. Danny woke up at 2.10am and discovered that his father hadn't come home. Danny felt certain that something had happened to his father, and was determined to get him home. He then decided to go out in an Austin Seven which his father had been repairing, and on the way to Hazell's Wood passed a police car in the opposite direction. The police car turned around and pursued Danny along a windy country lane but he managed to escape through a gap in a hedge. Danny then found his father, trapped down a hole with a broken ankle. He helps his father out of the hole with a tow-rope from the Austin, and two keepers who had seen Danny's father down the hole come back with Mr Hazell -- to find the hole empty.

    While Danny's father is recovering from his injury, they hear that Mr Hazell's pheasant shooting party is approaching. They decide to humiliate him by luring all the pheasants away from the forest, so there will be no pheasants to shoot. Danny suggests that they should put sleeping tablets inside raisins which the pheasants will then eat, and when this is done they hide the sleeping pheasants in the loft above the workshop. Mr Hazell is then humiliated as his party guests arrive and find that there are no pheasants to shoot.

    Mr Hazell is finally humiliated in front of Danny, his father and many other local people as it is revealed that he was planning to build a new town in the area surrounding his home. But Danny has prevented this from happening and is hailed as 'champion of the world' by the people living in his village, many of whom also take part in poaching from Mr Hazell's wood and stream.

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