2021-04-18 10:46:45

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ENGLISH [Pg 170]The truth is that Doctor Allingham had not been able to summon the courage to make a further examination of the Clockwork man; and he had permitted himself to assume that there would be no immediate developments. So far as was possible he had allowed himself that very necessary relaxation, and he had insisted upon Gregg sharing it with him. The Clockwork man was not quite what either of them had, alternatively, hoped or feared. From Allingham's point of view, in particular, he was not that bogey of the inhuman fear which his original conduct had suggested. True, he was still an unthinkable monstrosity, an awful revelation; but since the discovery of the printed instructions it had been possible to regard him with a little more equanimity. The Clockwork man was a figment of the future, but he was not the whole future.II

"Well, he's making runs, anyhow," rejoined Gregg, his eye falling upon the score-board. "At this rate we shall stand a chance after all.""Thank you," the Curate beamed, "I'm afraid the Vicar will be very annoyed, but it can't be helped."

That the Clockwork man was likely to prove a source of embarrassment to him in more ways than one was demonstrated to the Doctor almost as soon as they entered the house. Mrs. Masters, who was laying the supper, regarded the visitor with a slight huffiness. He obtruded upon her vision as an extra meal for which she was not prepared. And the Doctor's manner was not reassuring. He seemed, for the time being, to lack that urbanity which usually enabled him to smooth over the awkward situations in life. It was unfortunate, perhaps, that he should have allowed Mrs. Masters to develop an attitude of distrust, but he was[Pg 136] nervous, and that was sufficient to put the good lady on her guard.[Pg 128]Strange that this dark, forbidding house should stand cheek by jowl with all that was modern and frivolous and fashionable. Even in the garden behind Lytton Avenue the corner house frowned with sightless eyes out of its side windows, eerie and creeping in the daytime.

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Ferry prompted in a whisper, the three of us cried "Yes!" and he added "Pass one side from the door, Miss Harper, we are going to shoot through it.""Because they are only part of ourselves, only so many additions to the human organism, extra bits of brain. We're slowly discovering that. Humanity daren't be permanent, except in its fundamentals, and all the fundamentals have to do with living and being. Just think what would happen if the blood in your veins became permanent?"

Joyous was the dawn. With their places in the hospital filled for the brief time by Brookhaven friends, here were all our fairs, not to speak of the General, the Colonel, the Major, idlers of the town and region, and hospital bummers who had followed up unbidden and glaringly without wedding-garments. Ccile, Harry, Camille "and others" prepared the church. The General kept his tent, the Major rode to Hazlehurst, and the Colonel, bruised and stiffened by a late fall from his horse, lounged amiably just beyond talking range of the ladies and grumbled jokes to Chaplain Roly-poly, whose giggling enjoyment of them made us hope they were tempered to that clean-shaven lamb.

"Did she give no reason?"He sat down rather hurriedly, on the couch, and the Doctor scanned him anxiously for symptoms. But there were none of an alarming character. He had not removed his borrowed hat and wig.

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The Doctor paused in his walk. How strange that Lilian should say that! It almost seemed as though she must have heard about the Clockwork man!"That's 'ow I come to see 'im," said Tom, shifting his cap about uneasily. "I was in a bit of a 'urry 'cos mother said I wasn't to be late for tea, and I'd been into the town to buy butter as we was a bit short. As I come by Rock's Bottomand you know 'ow the path bends a bit sharp to the left where the chalk pit liesit's a bit awkward for anyone 'as don't know the path"

"You see," exclaimed the Doctor, making a violent effort to ignore his own perceptions, "it's all so unexpected. I'm afraid I shan't be able to render you much assistance until I know the actual facts, and even then"But the heedless throng of fashionables recked nothing of this. The Countess Lalage was their latest craze. Who she was or where she came from nobody knew nor cared. She was young and wonderfully beautiful in a dashing Southern way, her equipages were an amazement to the park; she must have been immensely rich, or she would never have entertained as she did. There must have been a Count Lalage at one time, for generally a pretty little girl rode with the Countess, and this child was her daughter. The Countess spoke casually of large South American concessions and silver mines, so that Oxford Street and Regent Street bowed down and worshipped her.The Doctor suddenly took her in his arms.[Pg 203] "But you care?" he whispered. "You consent to make me young again?"

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Apr-18 10:46:45