In "The Oracle of the Dog" by G. K. Chesterton, the daughter of a murdered rich colonel was talking about her husband, a nobleman and skilled surgeon, who wanted to challenge the secretary to a duel, for he was angry with him, because the secretary accused him of murdering the old colonel. She said:

“Does [the secretary] think my husband, who has given up a crest and a coronet as old as the Crusades for his principles, would kill an old man in a summer-house for a legacy like that?” Then she laughed again and said, “My husband isn’t killing anybody except in the way of business. Why, he didn’t even ask his friends to call on the secretary.”

What's the meaning of business here?

Knowing that he wanted to kill the secretary in the duel, but his wife dissuaded him?!

  • In the way of even has a dictionary definition. I'm not sure that what appears to be a quote here is actually a quote from Chesterton, but in the way of means "as a form of" or, probably, "in the course of". Apr 30, 2020 at 19:55
  • I'm asking about the meaning of the whole phrase, what's meant by business here?
    – Ahmed Samir
    Apr 30, 2020 at 19:57
  • Why should business not simply mean business? That is, what he does for a living? Apr 30, 2020 at 19:59
  • Because he could have killed him in the duel that he wanted to challenge him for?!
    – Ahmed Samir
    Apr 30, 2020 at 20:01
  • Should I forget about the duel, and consider business = his work in surgery?
    – Ahmed Samir
    Apr 30, 2020 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


Dr. Valentine is a surgeon, so his "business"—what he does for a living—is or includes performing surgery. Surgical procedures are not without risk; if the procedure goes wrong, the patient can even die of the consequences.

This is how a surgeon may unintentionally cause somebody's death. Cynically put, one may say that the surgeon's "business" or job has killed the patient. This is what Dr. Valentine's wife meant when she said that "[her] husband isn't killing anybody except in the way of business": his work may unintentionally cause a patient's death.

  • 1
    Thank you so much, actually I was confused because the mentioning of duel, I thought that she was talking about it, but now it's clearer. May 3, 2020 at 9:35

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