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9. The Man in Spectacles
"BURGUNDY is a jolly thing," said the Professor sadly, as he set his glass down.
"You don't look as if it were," said Syme; "you drink it as if it were medicine."
"You must excuse my manner," said the Professor dismally, "my position is rather a curious one. Inside I am really bursting with boyish merriment; but I acted the paralytic Professor so well, that now I can't leave off. So that when I am among friends, and have no need at all to disguise myself, I still can't help speaking slow and wrinkling my forehead--just as if it were my forehead. I can be quite happy, you understand, but only in a paralytic sort of way. The most buoyant exclamations leap up in my heart, but they come out of my mouth quite different. You should hear me say, 'Buck up, old cock!' It would bring tears to your eyes."
"It does," said Syme; "but I cannot help thinking that apart from all that you are really a bit worried."
The Professor started a little and looked at him steadily.
"You are a very clever fellow," he said, "it is a pleasure to work with you. Yes, I have rather a heavy cloud in my head. There is a great problem to face," and he sank his bald brow in his two hands.
Then he said in a low voice--
"Can you play the piano?"
"Yes," said Syme in simple wonder, "I'm supposed to have a good touch."
Then, as the other did not speak, he added--
"I trust the great cloud is lifted."
After a long silence, the Professor said out of the cavernous shadow of his hands--
"It would have done just as well if you could work a typewriter."
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