2021-04-18 09:59:50

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ENGLISH In the house she gave the younger Harpers a second kiss all round. "You po' dears, yo're hero-ines, now, and hencefo'th fo'evehmo'!" Harry and I agreed they were; it was one of the few points on which we thought alike. We even agreed that Estelle's grasp of earthly realities was not so feeble as we had thought it.And then, as Gregg took a leisurely stride towards the door, as though to investigate matters on his own, the Doctor caught hold of his sleeve. "Don't do that. Listen, first, to what I have to tell you. I rather fancy it will take the edge off your curiosity."

"No, no! I know all and you know only half; I have seen the absolute--"The Clockwork man is now ready for adjustment. The chart should be studied with care, and a choice made from one of the types indicated. Having made a selection, proceed to arrange indicators in accordance with detailed instructions, taking the utmost care to follow the directions with absolute accuracy, as the slightest error may lead to serious confusion. A good plan is to hold the chart in the left hand, and manipulate the regulators with the right, checking each adjustment as it is made.The Clockwork man lifted a hand to his face, and with great difficulty lodged a finger reflectively against his nose. "Nineteen hundred and twenty-three," he repeated, "that's interesting. Very interesting, indeed. Not that I have any use for time, you know."

And still every moment men fell, and what could we do but smite while the foe's bugles still rang out from beside his unfurled standard. Thitherward sprang a swarm of us and found a brave group massed on foot around the colors, men and officers shoulder to shoulder in sudden equality. I saw Ned Ferry make straight for their commander, who alone had out his sabre; the rest stood with cocked revolvers, and at twenty yards fired low. Ferry's horse was hit; he reared, but the spur carried him on; his rider's sword flashed up and then down, the Federal's sabre turned it, the pistols cracked in our very faces, and down went my leader and his horse into the bottom of the whirlwind, right under the standard. I saw the standard-bearer bring down one of our men on top of Ferry, and as Ferry half regained his feet the Federal aimed point-blank against his breast. But it was I who fired and the Federal who fell. As he reeled I stretched out for the standard, and exactly together Ned Ferry and I seized it--the same standard we had seen the night before. But instantly, graciously, he thrust it from him. "Tis yours!" he cried in the midst of a general huzza, smiling up at it and me as I swung the trophy over my head. Then he turned ghastly pale, his smile faded to an unmeaning stare, two or three men leaped to his side, and he sank lifelessly into their arms beside his dying horse."I know it; I know I should! But it was only a dream, and--"[Pg 29]

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The General turned an arch smile of perplexity upon his chief-of-staff. "I don't think we're quite up to that line of perpetual snow, Walter, are we?"

"I'm not. I really noticed them. Of course, I didn't attach much importance to them at the time, but afterwards, when Arthur[Pg 56] Withers was telling his story, all that queer feeling about the strange figure came back to me. It took possession of me. After all, suppose he is a clockwork man?"L THE BOTTOM OF THE WHIRLWINDThe surgery was a low-pitched apartment, and it was approached by patients from the outside by way of the area steps. One door communicated with the dark passage that led to the kitchen quarters, and the other opened directly upon the area. A double row of shelves, well stocked with bottles, occupied the centre of the room and divided it into two halves. Beneath the window stood the Doctor's neat bureau, and to the left of this was a low couch beside the wall. A shaded lamp on the desk was sufficient to light the room for ordinary purposes; but there was a gas burner near the further door, which had to be lit when the Doctor was engaged upon[Pg 155] some very close examination or had to perform a slight operation. Directly underneath this burner there stood an arm-chair of ample proportions, and it was here that the Clockwork man had seated himself at the beginning of his orgy.

"I seecurious, only one lamp-post, though. In my country they grow like trees, you knowwhole forests of themgalaxy of lightsnecessaryilluminate multiform world.""Yes, they're fighting, now, on the edge of town," we said, "but our boys will keep them there." Our host and hostess moaned their unbelief. "However," added Harry, "I'll go tell the old man to hitch up the little mules and--"

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I

The driver of the ambulance did not know why he had been ordered to report here, but when the Widow Roy came to the door she brought explanation enough. A courier had come to her and gone again, and the chaplain and the surgeon and every one else of any "army sort" except us two had "put out," and she was in a sad flurry. "The Lieutenant," she said, "writes in this-yeh note that this-yeh place won't be safe f'om the Yankees much longer'n to-day, and fo' us to send the wounded lady in the avalanch. Which she says, her own self, it'd go rough with her to fall into they hands again. My married daughter she's a-goin' with her, and the'd ought to be a Mr. Sm'--oh, my Lawdy! you ain't reg-lahly in the ahmy, air you?""Not for a few thousand years," replied the Clockwork man, with a slight twisting of his lip. "Perhaps never."

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Apr-18 09:59:50