George insists that while they can have bread, biscuits, butter, jam, and cold meat for lunch on their Thames boat trip, they can't have cheese, because its odor is too strong. This leads the narrator, called J., to tell a long story about a friend who bought cheese in Liverpool. The friend, who doesn't think the cheese will keep too long, asks the narrator to take them back with him to London.
J. cheerfully agrees. Thus begins a comic story in which J. hires a cab pulled by a horse to take him to the train station. The horse reacts with "terror" when he gets a whiff of the cheese and, though very old, starts to run. We are told it takes three men to hold the horse in place at the station. There, everyone falls back "respectfully" as J. comes by with his aromatic (stinking) cheese.
Then the smell of the cheese drives everyone out of J.'s train compartment, and when his friend's wife smells the cheese after J. finally delivers it to its London destination, she moves to a hotel. The friend finally decides it is too expensive to pay for his wife to live in the hotel and throws the cheese into a canal. When this doesn't work because the bargemen complain, he buries the cheese in sand at a seaside town. There the strong smell is deemed therapeutic.
All of this leads the narrator to support George in the ban on cheese.