And most important, few but Professor Ettinger had seen the letters.

I am not sure what the phrase "few but" exactly means. I tried to find the meaning on the internet but without any success. Given the context (Ettinger actually read the letters) I would understand it that Ettinger belonged to a minority of people who head read the letters. But if I apply to this phrase the same logic as to the similar one "all but", the meaning is rather different: few people read it but Ettinger not. So could you tell me which meaning is correct.

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  • 1
    @Rathony: No, it doesn't mean that only Professor Ettinger saw the letters. Others did, but they are few in number. – Ben Voigt Dec 20 '15 at 15:48
  • @BenVoigt Yes, you are right. – user140086 Dec 20 '15 at 16:08
  • What does the dictionary tell you about but? Does it tell you that it can me apart from or except? (Did you consult a dictionary?) – Drew Dec 21 '15 at 1:51

But here means apart from. Few but Ettinger had seen the letters means Ettinger and only a few others had seen the letters.

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