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There are some students of human character who support the theory that a man's true personality is revealed only under the influence of liquor. Be the student gifted with superior powers of deduction, however, he may draw interesting conclusions from the actions of men under great stress, as, for instance, in oral examinations.
Recently a candidate for a doctorate was squirming under a barrage of mystifying questions. The senior member of the examining committee looked on sympathetically as the sharp, efficient young questioner astutely revealed alarming gaps in the victim's knowledge. The poor candidate simply could not remember whether or not such and such a sixteenth-century writer had a full beard, what he ate for breakfast on a certain morning, whether or not his wife washed his underwear, or, for that matter, whether or not he were underwear.
The questions went from bad to worse. The brilliant young questioner rubbed his bony knuckles in ghoulish glee as a cold sweat broke out on the brow of the harried candidate. Finally came the climax, a question to which no-one in the world knows the answer, except, perhaps, one member of the examining committee.
The candidate cleared his throat, opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again as a blank expression appeared on his face. The senior member of the committee stirred in his chair. He too cleared his throat, and the now silent group of scholars turned to listen.
"I hope that the candidate will answer that question fully. Not that it has any importance, but it's a subject about which I've been trying in vain to uncover a little information for the last thirty years."
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