I turned to Aunt Agatha, whose demeanor was rather like that of one who, picking daisies on the railway, has just caught the Down express in the small of the back.

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Pongo shuddered, accordingly, and in addition to shuddering uttered a sharp quack of anguish such as might have proceeded from some duck which, sauntering in a reverie beside a duck-pond, had inadvertently stubbed its toe on a broken soda-water bottle.

The only thing that prevented a father’s love from faltering was the fact that there was in his possession a photograph of himself at the same early age, in which he, too, looked like a homicidal fried egg.