类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-09-25 09:33:35


"I certainly value my wit more than my prescriptions," laughingly agreed the Doctor, "But, tell me, what was the lady's impression of my menag茅? And that reminds me, you have not told me her name yet. Did she carry a red parasol, or was it a white one?""Well, I admit I was rather mystified by that hat and wig. But when you come to rationalise the thing, what is there in it?" The Doctor was taking long strides and flourishing his leather gloves in the air. "How could such a thing be? How can anybody in his right senses entertain the notion that Dunn Brothers are still in existence two thousand years hence? And the Clarkson business. It's absurd on the face of it."Allingham stamped his feet on the carpet. "I will not listen to such talk, Mrs. Masters! A woman of your age and supposed sense to lend ear to such nonsense. I'm ashamed of you."

"Stop a minute," exclaimed Gregg, arising in sheer astonishment, "you seem to be upset. I don't understand what you are raving about.""Precisely," said Gregg, who was beginning to grow impatient with the other's manner, "and since the facts have revealed themselves, what is the use of trying to evade them? Here we have a Clockwork man, a creature entirely without precedent, for there is no record of his having existed in the past, and so far as we know there has been no successful attempt to create such a being in our own times. Everything favours my original hypothesis; that he has in some way, and probably through some fault in the mechanism that controls him, lapsed into these earlier years of human existence. That seems to me feasible. If man has indeed conquered time and space, then the slightest irregularity in this new functioning principle would result in a catastrophe such as we must suppose has happened to the Clockwork man. It is more than probable that a slight adjustment would result in his speedy return to conditions more proper to his true state."The Doctor drew himself up stiffly, and just perceptibly indicated the door. "I think you need a holiday," he remarked, "and a change from theological pursuits. And don't forget. Rest, for a few days, in a sitting posture."

"A multiform world," murmured the Doctor, recollecting the Clockwork man's description, "a world of many dimensions."IMrs. Masters had scarcely murmured her apologies for the best she could do at such short notice, and retired, than the Clockwork[Pg 141] man set to with an avidity that appalled and disgusted the Doctor. The six eggs were cracked and swallowed in as many seconds. The rest of the food disappeared in a series of jerks, accompanied by intense vibration of the jaws; the whole process of swallowing resembling the pulsations of the cylinders of a petrol engine. So rapid were the vibrations, that the whole of the lower part of the Clockwork man's face was only visible as a multiplicity of blurred outlines.

IIIThe 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!"Whoever was that person you were talking to?" she enquired, as soon as they stood together.

Fitted into the clock, in such a way that they could be removed, were a series of long tubes with valve-like endings. The Doctor had removed one or two of these and examined them very closely, but he could not arrive at any idea of their purpose.Already he was several times stouter than[Pg 164] his original self. He had burst all his buttons鈥攚hich accounted for the sudden explosions鈥攁nd his clothes were split all the way down, back and front. Great pouches and three new chins appeared upon his face, and lower down there was visible an enormous stomach.THE END

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."I see," the Clockwork man nodded sagely. "But they wouldn't be any use to me. What I need is adjustment, regulation." He looked hard at the doctor, with a pathetic expression of enquiry. "My clock鈥" he began, and stopped abruptly.Along the path that led from Bapchurch to Great Wymering there walked two persons, slowly, and with an air of having talked themselves into embarrassed silence. Their steps[Pg 199] were gradually bringing them to the stile upon which Arthur and Rose sat.

"H'm, yes鈥攃hemical action鈥攖onics. People get run down, and I have to give them something to stimulate the system.""It makes everything go faster," observed the Clockwork man, "and more accurately."He sank into a chair and covered his face with his hands. The presence of another person brought a kind of relief to his pent up feelings. He let himself go.

"But it is so," protested Arthur. "You didn't see him as I did. He was like nothing on earth鈥攁nd then he began to work. Just like a motor starting. And then that noise began. I'm sure there's something inside him, something that goes wrong sometimes.""What the devil!"[Pg 157]

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The object that the Doctor picked up from the floor was an oblong-shaped piece of metal, almost as thin as paper, and slightly bluish in colour. Upon its surface, printed in red embossed letters, was the following matter:鈥"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."

"No," said the Clockwork man, with a certain amount of dignity, "I am the man from nowhere."Arthur walked out to the wicket. His usual knee-shaking seemed less pronounced, and he felt more anxious about the Clockwork man than about himself. He paused as he drew near to him, and whispered in an ear鈥攔ather fearfully, for he dreaded a recurrence of the ear-flapping business. "The captain says will you run, please, when you're asked.""But are you the conjurer?" asked the Curate, coming back.




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