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“Groop I implore thee,” continued the merciless Vogon, “my foonting turlingdromes.” His voice was rising to a horrible pitch of impassioned stridency. “And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles, | Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!” “Nnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyuuuuuuurrrrrrrggggggghhhhh!” cried Ford Prefect and threw one final spasm as the electronic enhancement of the last line caught him full blast across the temples. He went limp. Arthur lolled. “Now Earthlings…” whirred the Vogon (he didn't know that Ford Prefect was in fact from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and wouldn't have cared if he had) “I present you with a simple choice! Either die in the vacuum of space, or…” he paused for melodramatic effect, “tell me how good you thought my poem was!” He threw himself backwards into a huge leathery bat-shaped seat and watched them. He did the smile again. Ford was rasping for breath. He rolled his dusty tongue round his parched mouth and moaned. Arthur said brightly: “Actually I quite liked it.” Ford turned and gaped. Here was an approach that had quite simply not occurred to him. The Vogon raised a surprised eyebrow that effectively obscured his nose and was therefore no bad thing. “Oh good…” he whirred, in considerable astonishment. “Oh yes,” said Arthur, “I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was really particularly effective.” Ford continued to stare at him, slowly organizing his thoughts around this totally new concept. Were they really going to be able to bareface their way out of this? “Yes, do continue…” invited the Vogon. “Oh… and er… interesting rhythmic devices too,” continued Arthur, “which seemed to counterpoint the… er… er…” He floundered.

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