2021-04-17 01:21:16

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ENGLISH Allingham passed a hand across his forehead. "It all seems so feasible," he remarked, "once you grasp the mechanism. But what I don't understand""I'm afraid you'll 'ave to make do," was the sharp rejoinder, for there was not much on the table, and the Doctor favoured a light supper. "There's watercress," she added, defensively.Slowly, with his customary stiffness of movement, the Clockwork man raised his arms upwards and removed the soft clerical hat. He held it aloft, as though uncertain what to do with it, and the Doctor took it from him with a shaking hand.

III"I'm working alright, if that's what you[Pg 205] mean," said the other, averting his eyes. Then he looked very hard at Rose, and the expression on his features altered to mild astonishment.LVI H?TEL DES INVALIDES

"I abandoned him."It was a mistaken kindness, from our point of view, but it had the merit that it kept us busy. In two days the post-quartermaster's affairs and supplies were reduced to perfect order for the first time in their history. For two days more we ran a construction train and with a swarm of conscripts repaired two or three miles of road-bed and some trestle-work in a swamp; and at every respite in our strenuous activities we discoursed of the girls we'd left behind us; their minds, their manners, their features, figures, tastes and talents, and their walk and talk. So came the end of the week, and while the sun was still above the trees we went on down, inspecting the road beyond our repairs, on our own hand-car to Brookhaven. With heads bare, jackets in our laps, and muddy boots dangling over the car's front edge, and with six big negroes at the levers behind us, we watched the miles glide under our wheels and grow fewer and fewer between us and the shrine of our hearts. "Sing, Dick," said Ferry, and we chanted together, as we had done at every sunset these three days, "O my love is like a red, red rose." We could not have done it had we known that yonder glorious sun was setting forever upon the fortunes of our Southern Confederacy. It was the fourth of July; Lee was in full retreat from Gettysburg, Vicksburg was gone, Port Hudson was doomed, and all that was left for us now was to die hard.

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Suddenly, with a violent effort involving two sharp flappings of his ears, the Clockwork man mastered his difficulty. He appeared to set in action some swift depilatory process. The beard vanished as if by magic. The doctor collapsed into a chair.Arthur's recent reflections returned to him, and produced a little glow in his mind. "Is there a world," he questioned, "where the problems of Time and Space are different?"At every point in his examination the Doctor had found himself confronted by an elaboration, in some cases a flat contradiction, of ordinary human functions. He could not grasp even the elementary premises of a state of affairs that had made the Clockwork man possible.

The spectators gave themselves up wholly to the fun. It must have seemed to them that this extraordinary cricketer was also gifted with a sense of humour, however eccentric; and that his nonsensical action was intended by way of retaliation for the ironic cheers that had greeted his running at all. Nobody, except Arthur Withers, realised that the Clockwork man run thus far because for some reason he had been unable to stop himself. It may be remarked here that many of the Clockwork man's subsequent performances had this same accidental air of humour; and that even his most grotesque attitudes gave the observer an impression of some wild practical joke. He was so far human, in appearance and[Pg 35] manner, in spite of those peculiar internal arrangements, which will be dealt with later, that his actions produced an instantaneous appeal to the comic instinct; and in laughing at him people forgot to take him seriously."I'm afraid you'll 'ave to make do," was the sharp rejoinder, for there was not much on the table, and the Doctor favoured a light supper. "There's watercress," she added, defensively.At the fence I ceased to lead, and we crept near the gin-house from three sides, warily, though all the chances were that wherever Oliver lay he was heavy with drink. The Colonel stole in alone. He was lost to us for, I should say, five minutes; they seemed thirty; then there pealed upon the stillness an uproarious laugh mingled with oaths and curses, sounds of a plunge, a struggle, a groan, and old Dismukes calling "Come, boys, I've got him! Take it easy, take it easy, I've got him on the floor by the hair of his head; call Gholson!"

"You're simply imagining all these things," said Allingham, hotly, as he rammed tobacco into his pipe."I wish you hadn't told me this," he murmured, uneasily. "It would have been far----"

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Gregg rested his head upon the back of the chair and puffed smoke out. "We will pass over the circumstance of his abrupt appearance at the top of the hill, for it is obvious that he might have come from one of the neighbouring villages, although I don't think he did. You yourself admit that his manner of approach was startling, and that it almost seemed as though he had come from nowhere. But let that be. There are, I admit, as yet few facts in support of my theory, but it is at least significant that one of the first questions he[Pg 53] asked should have been, not where he was but when he was.""Was he going very fast?" said Gregg.

It was quite silent upstairs; there was no sign of a maid anywhere. As Hetty reached the landing the frightened bleating cry broke out again. There was only a night-light in the nursery; a little white figure sat moaning in bed."Then throwing away your life won't save hers! Do you surren'--?"

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Apr-17 01:21:16