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Chapter 3: "He is a Perfectly Impossible Person"
My friend's fear or hope was not destined to be realized. When I called on Wednesday there was a letter with the West Kensington postmark upon it, and my name scrawled across the envelope in a handwriting which looked like a barbed-wire railing. The contents were as follows:--
"ENMORE PARK, W.
"SIR,--I have duly received your note, in which you claim to
endorse my views, although I am not aware that they are dependent
upon endorsement either from you or anyone else. You have
ventured to use the word `speculation' with regard to my
statement upon the subject of Darwinism, and I would call your
attention to the fact that such a word in such a connection is
offensive to a degree. The context convinces me, however, that
you have sinned rather through ignorance and tactlessness than
through malice, so I am content to pass the matter by. You quote
an isolated sentence from my lecture, and appear to have some
difficulty in understanding it. I should have thought that only
a sub-human intelligence could have failed to grasp the point,
but if it really needs amplification I shall consent to see you
at the hour named, though visits and visitors of every sort are
exceeding distasteful to me. As to your suggestion that I may
modify my opinion, I would have you know that it is not my habit to
do so after a deliberate expression of my mature views. You will
kindly show the envelope of this letter to my man, Austin, when
you call, as he has to take every precaution to shield me from
the intrusive rascals who call themselves `journalists.'
This was the letter that I read aloud to Tarp Henry, who had come down early to hear the result of my venture. His only remark was, "There's some new stuff, cuticura or something, which is better than arnica." Some people have such extraordinary notions of humor.
It was nearly half-past ten before I had received my message, but a taxicab took me round in good time for my appointment. It was an imposing porticoed house at which we stopped, and the heavily-curtained windows gave every indication of wealth upon the part of this formidable Professor. The door was opened by an odd, swarthy, dried-up person of uncertain age, with a dark pilot jacket and brown leather gaiters. I found afterwards that he was the chauffeur, who filled the gaps left by a succession of fugitive butlers. He looked me up and down with a searching light blue eye.
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