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…And a lie it has become; for Truth is a naked lady, and if by accident she is drawn up from the bottom of the sea, it behoves a gentleman either to give her a print petticoat or to turn his face to the wall and vow that he did not see….


This is from ‘A Matter of Fact’ in ‘Many Inventions’. Three journalists, an American, a ‘half-Dutchman’ and an Englishman, travelling on a steamer to Europe from South Africa, have witnessed an extraordinary event, a great sea monster forced to the surface after an undersea earthquake. They debate how they will write up the scoop when they reach harbour, since it is such an extraordinary story that few editors would believe it. The Englishman decides to tell it as fiction.