2021-04-18 11:49:14

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ENGLISH "But do you all have clocks?" Arthur ventured. "Are you born with them?"A few moments later Mrs. Masters entered the room bearing a tray with the promised meal. True to her instinct, the good soul must have searched the remotest corners of her pantry in order to provide what she evidently regarded as but an apology of a repast. Little did she know for what Brobdingnagian appetite she was catering! At the sight of the six gleaming white eggs in their cups, the guest made a movement expressive of the direction of his desire, if not of very sanguine hope of their fulfilment. Besides eggs, there were several piles of sandwiches, bread and butter, and assorted cakes.

"Nine and ninepence" he heard at last, very thin and distinct. And then there was stillness.They looked solemnly at one another for a[Pg 74] long while without even approaching a "stare out."

Harry huffed absurdly. "You go mind yours," he retorted, and then more generously added, "we'll be with you in a minute." The surgeon went, and the aide-de-camp, as we began to pace the hall, fairly took my breath by remarking without a hint of self-censure, "Damn a frivolous man!" Then irrelatively he added, "Those two out at that gate--this is a matter of life and death with them;" and when I would have qualified the declaration, he broke in upon me--"Right, Dick, you're right, it is worse; it's a choice between true life and death-in-life; whether they'll make life's long march in sunshine together or in darkness apart.""But you must admit," interpolated the Doctor, "that I might be deceiving you. I could easily do it, just to prove you in the wrong. I can assure you that nothing would suit my humour better at the present moment! Instead of which it is I who appear the fool. I never wanted to believe in the Clockwork man. I was angry with you for believing in him. Admit that it would be a just revenge on my part to hoax you."

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He trundled forward again and lurched into the middle of the street.THE ENDI faced him sharply--"Who told you that?" and felt sure he would name the tricky aide-de-camp. But he pointed to the room overhead, which again, as in the other house, was Charlotte's. I blushed consciously with gratitude. "Well," I said, "it makes me happy to see you beginning again to get well."

"Oh, I'm not nearly ready yet!"Shortly after midnight the Doctor's expectant ear caught the sound of someone alighting from a bicycle. A moment later footsteps clattered down the area stairs, and Gregg, still attired in his cricket flannels, appeared at the open door. The smile faded from his lips as he beheld the drawn, agitated features of the Doctor."He is beginning to be understood. And some attempt is being made to popularise his theory. But I don't know that I altogether agree."

"It's very hard," the Curate complained, "that my infirmity should have prevented me from seeing more. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak."

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"Which one?" he gasped, his face livid with fright. "Tell me what to do. In heaven's name, do you expect me to know?"LIX UNDER CHARLOTTE'S WINDOW"Yes," murmured Arthur, and then caught[Pg 83] his breath sharply. For his ear had detected a faint throbbing and palpitation in the distance. It seemed to echo from the far-off hills, a sort of "chew chew," constantly repeated. And presently, another and more familiar sound aroused his attention. It was the "toot-toot" of an automobile and the jerk of a brake. And then the steady whine of the engine as the car ascended a hill. Perhaps they were pursuing the Clockwork man. Arthur hoped not. It seemed to him the troubles of that strange being were bad enough without there being added to them the persecutions suffered by those to whom existence represents an endless puzzle, full of snares and surprises.

At the tavern, where we went to smarten up and to eat, we chanced upon Gregory. He was very shy of Ferry, because Ferry was a captain, but told me the latest news from the Wall place, where he had spent the previous evening. Harry and the surgeon were gone to camp, the Harpers were well, Charlotte was--better, after a bad turn of several days. We felt in duty bound to stay within hail of the telegraph office until it should close for the night; and when the operator was detained in it much beyond the usual time, Ferry, as we hovered near, said at length, "Well, I'm sorry for you, Dick; 'tis now too late for you to go yonder--this evening."

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