2021-04-18 11:24:52

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ENGLISH The Clockwork man suddenly turned round. Immediately afterwards the Doctor became aware of a series of loud popping noises, accompanied by the sound of tearing and rending. Simultaneously, some hard object hit him just over the eye, and the walls and ceiling of the little room were struck sharply by something violently expelled. And then he felt himself being pushed gently away by some pressure that was steadily insisting upon more space.He looked directly at Arthur. "And dreaming," he added. "We dream, you know."

The corners of the constable's eyes wrinkled a little. "Of course," he ruminated, "if you're going to drag algebra into the discussion I shall 'ave to cry off. I never got beyond decimals."As the Doctor told the story of what had taken place so recently in the little room, Gregg sat nursing an uplifted knee between his hands and with the cigarette drooping idly from his lips. Once or twice he interrupted with a gesture, but if he experienced astonishment he never betrayed the fact. Even the description of the sudden growth of beard did not disturb the look of calm enquiry upon his hard-set features. He seemed to be following something in his mind that elucidated the facts as they came out; and as the narrative drew to a close he nodded his head very slightly, as though having found corroboration[Pg 173] for these strange events in some theory of his own, and vice versa. When at last the Doctor reached the climax of his tale there was no horror written upon Gregg's countenance. He remained impassive, a sort of buffer against which the Doctor's hysterical phrases recoiled in vain.

That was the problem in the mind of every looker on, and the lookers-on were legion; the whole wide neighborhood came to see us. Gregory and others outstayed their furloughs; the surgeon lingered shamelessly. Of course, there were three girls besides Charlotte, and it was pure lying--as I told Helm--for some of those fellows to pretend that Captain Ferry's problem was all they stayed for; and yet it was the one heart-problem which was everybody's, and we were all in one fever to see forthwith a conclusion which "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" required should not come for months.I"Well, well, it's what I said," the doctor went on, swallowing quickly, "someone hassomeone has"

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Arthur could hardly control an eager curiosity to know what the thing was, round and shiny, that looked like a sort of halo at the back of the Clockwork man's head. He kept on dodging from one side to the other in an effort to see it clearly.

"'Tain't possible," objected her husband, "'e's pulling your leg, ma."So the argument had waged since the telling of Tom Driver's story. Gregg's chief difficulty was to get Allingham to see that there really might be something in this theory of a world in which merely trivial things had become permanent, whilst the cosmos itself, the hitherto unchanging outer environment of man's existence, might have opened up in many new directions. Man might have tired of waiting for a so long heralded eternity, and made one out of his own material tools. The Clockwork man, now crystallised in Gregg's mind as an unforgetable figure, seemed to him to stand for a sort of rigidity of personal being as opposed to the fickleness of mere[Pg 110] flesh and blood; but the world in which he lived probably had widely different laws, if indeed it had humanly comprehensible laws at all.

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"Motor car," the stolid dragoon replied. "I've got a fifteen horsepower Daimler that I can knock seventy miles an hour out of at a pinch. And no danger of being picked up for scorching on a dark night like this.""So I have to sit down and submit to that tamely," she murmured. "You little white-faced cat, you pink doll, so you are going to get the best of me. We shall see; oh, yes, we shall see. If I could be somewhere where I could tear myself to pieces, where I could scream aloud and nobody could hear! If I could only face him now and smile and say honeyed words! Tomorrow, perhaps, but not tonight. Even I have my limits. . . . He's coming back!"

That was why its effect was so distracting. It seemed to the doctor that the figure had popped up there on purpose to imitate the[Pg 2] action of a bowler and so baulk him. During the fraction of a second in which the ball reached him, this secondary image had blotted out everything else. But the behaviour of the figure was certainly abnormal. Its movements were violently ataxic. Its arms revolved like the sails of a windmill. Its legs shot out in all directions, enveloped in dust."Look at the wig, look at the wig," interrupted Gregg, feverishly.I could answer pleadingly that it were far better not to talk now. But she would go on, until in my helplessness I remarked how beautiful the day had been. Her eyes changed; she looked into mine with her calm inward-outward ken, and once more with smiling lips and suffering brow murmured, "Yes." I marvelled she should betray such wealth of meaning to such as I; yet it was like her splendid bravery to do it.

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Apr-18 11:24:52