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|The Man Who Was Thursday||Gilbert K. Chesterton|
|Page 2 of 10||
"Are you going to address the meeting?" asked the Professor peevishly, seeing that Syme still stood up without moving.
Syme drained his last glass of sparkling wine.
"I am," he said, pointing across to the Marquis and his companions, "that meeting. That meeting displeases me. I am going to pull that meeting's great ugly, mahogany-coloured nose."
He stepped across swiftly, if not quite steadily. The Marquis, seeing him, arched his black Assyrian eyebrows in surprise, but smiled politely.
"You are Mr. Syme, I think," he said.
"And you are the Marquis de Saint Eustache," he said gracefully. "Permit me to pull your nose."
He leant over to do so, but the Marquis started backwards, upsetting his chair, and the two men in top hats held Syme back by the shoulders.
"This man has insulted me!" said Syme, with gestures of explanation.
"Insulted you?" cried the gentleman with the red rosette, "when?"
"Oh, just now," said Syme recklessly. "He insulted my mother."
"Insulted your mother!" exclaimed the gentleman incredulously.
"Well, anyhow," said Syme, conceding a point, "my aunt."
"But how can the Marquis have insulted your aunt just now?" said the second gentleman with some legitimate wonder. "He has been sitting here all the time."
"Ah, it was what he said!" said Syme darkly.
"I said nothing at all," said the Marquis, "except something about the band. I only said that I liked Wagner played well."
"It was an allusion to my family," said Syme firmly. "My aunt played Wagner badly. It was a painful subject. We are always being insulted about it."
"This seems most extraordinary," said the gentleman who was decore, looking doubtfully at the Marquis.
"Oh, I assure you," said Syme earnestly, "the whole of your conversation was simply packed with sinister allusions to my aunt's weaknesses."
"This is nonsense!" said the second gentleman. "I for one have said nothing for half an hour except that I liked the singing of that girl with black hair."
"Well, there you are again!" said Syme indignantly. "My aunt's was red."
"It seems to me," said the other, "that you are simply seeking a pretext to insult the Marquis."
"By George!" said Syme, facing round and looking at him, "what a clever chap you are!"
The Marquis started up with eyes flaming like a tiger's.
"Seeking a quarrel with me!" he cried. "Seeking a fight with me! By God! there was never a man who had to seek long. These gentlemen will perhaps act for me. There are still four hours of daylight. Let us fight this evening."
Syme bowed with a quite beautiful graciousness.
"Marquis," he said, "your action is worthy of your fame and blood. Permit me to consult for a moment with the gentlemen in whose hands I shall place myself."
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|The Man Who Was Thursday
Gilbert K. Chesterton
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