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Doctor Alfred Prunesquallor
Alfred Prunesquallor sketch

Doctor Alfred Prunesquallor

Young Steerpike glued his eye to the hole, keeping the heavy gold frame from swinging back with his shoulder. All at once he found himself contemplating a narrrow-chested man with a shock of grey hair and glasses which magnified his eyes so that they filled the lenses up to their gold rims, when the central door opened, and a dark figure stole forth, closing the door behind him quietly, and with an air of the deepest dejection. Steerpike watched him turn his eyes to the shock-headed man, who inclined his body forward clasping his hands behind him. No notice was taken of this by the other, who began to pace up and down the landing, his dark cloak clasped around him and trailing on the floor at his heels. Each time he passed the doctor, for such it was, that gentleman inclined his body, but as before there was no response, until suddenly, stoppping immediately before the physician in attendance, he drew from his cape a slender rod of silver mounted at the end with a rough globe of black jade that burned around the edges with emerald fire. With this unusual weapon the mournful figure beat sadly at the doctor's chest as though to inquire whether there was anyone at home.

Irma and Alfred Prunesquallor
The doctor coughed. The silver and jade implement was pointed at the floor, and Steerpike was amazed to see the doctor, after hitching his exquisitely creased trousers to a few inches above his ankle, squat down. His great vague eyes swam about beneath the magnifying lenses like a pair of jellyfish seen through a fathom of water. His dark grey hair was brushed out over his eyes like thatch. For all the indignity of his position it was with a great sense of style that he became seated following with his eyes the gentleman who had begun to walk around him slowly.

Doctor Prunesquallor, with his hyena laugh, his bizarre and elegant body, his celluloid face. His main defects? The insufferable pitch of his voice; his maddening laughter and his affected gestures. His cardinal virtue? An undamaged brain.

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