In "The Song of the Flying Fish" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing a group of neighbours, a collector, a priest, a biologist, a bank manager and a traveller, that usually got together in each other's house saying:

That afternoon, one stranger had indeed broken into the magic circle: a hatchet-faced fellow with fierce tufts of eyebrows and moustache, and so shabbily dressed that he must have been a millionaire or a duke if he had really (as was alleged) come down to do business with the old collector.

How can he be "so shabbily dressed" and "must have been a millionaire"?!

Is there is something wrong in the text?

1 Answer 1


Extremely wealthy (or powerful) people can get away with offending against conventions that other people are bound by, because other people don't want to offend them. Also, an ordinary person wanted to do business with the collector would have had to show that he was taking the matter seriously by dressing properly, but either a duke or a millionaire could show that just by showing up to make the deal personally.

  • Wow! I didn't think about it in this way at all. That really makes sense. Jun 4, 2020 at 9:14

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