good heavens, henry, not another tarantula!
i could not resist. you know how prone i am to sudden passionate impulses.
sudden passionate impulse! but you already have the greatest collection of tarantulas in the western hemisphere!
the largest, perhaps, but by no means recognized as the greatest. and there is still the eastern hemisphere to consider, and antarctica.
antarctica! do you mean to tell me you are going to take up collecting penguins?
i do not care for penguins.
well, that is a relief of sorts. how much did you spend on this newest specimen of theraphosidae?
that is no concern of yours.
have a care, i may make it my concern.
at this juncture, just as the discussion promised to become heated, the potential combatants were interrupted by the maid, who was whimsically known to them as the virgin huntress, but whose name was really roberta evans, and who had been born in a shack down by the river and raised by an old mama alligator.
please, good people, roberta addressed henry and hacienda, the child is sleeping.
which child are you referring to? hacienda retorted icily.
the one who is going to grow up and rid the earth of foul creatures such as yourself, the virgin huntress responded passionately.
henry heaved a sigh. how he wished he were back in the old world, where good manners ruled, and servants knew their places.
this new world, with no distinction between human or insect, between blueprint and impulse, or between mind or machine - was there anyplace in it for him at all?
he fell asleep in his armchair, and dreamed he was a piranha, floating in the river alone, outcast from the piranha community…
when he awoke the room was dark, and there were no signs of hacienda, or the virgin huntress, or the child, or any tarantulas or piranhas - what did tarantulas and piranhas look like, anyway? he wondered.
the door opened and a person stepped inside and switched on the lamp and henry recognized his old schoolmate roger st raymond dellciliff, the word famous detective.
good evening, old chap, henry intoned, come for a game? i believe you were white last time.
no, henry, roger replied, i have come with inspector ingleby of the yard, with whose invaluable cooperation i have solved the decades old mystery of the murder of lord handover, and he is waiting outside to arrest you for said murder.
of course, henry sighed, what could i have been thinking?
so you will come quietly?
i always do, don’t i?