类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-09-20 19:29:15


"Seems as though 'e's only 'alf there," commented Mr. Bynes, noticing this incident.Over an unsatisfactory meal he tried to think things out, conscious all the time that he was missing gastronomical opportunities through sheer inattention."The dream states," explained the Clockwork man, "are the highest point in clock evolution. They are very expensive, because it is a costly process to manufacture a dream. It's all rolled up in a spool, you see, and then you fit it into the clock and unroll it. The dreams are like life, only of course they aren't real. And then there are the records, you know, the music records. They fit into the clock as well."

"Wallabaloo鈥擶allabaloo鈥擝ompadi鈥擝ompadi鈥擶um. Wum鈥擶um鈥擭ine and ninepence鈥" he announced.But he did not hurry. He twisted his head gradually round as though to embrace as much as possible in his last survey of a shapely, if limited world.But Arthur Withers, still feeling a certain sense of duty towards that helpless figure battening himself against the sheet, ran up to him. He decided that it would be useless to try and explain matters. The Clockwork man was obviously quite irresponsible. Arthur laid his hands on his shoulders and turned him round, much in the way that a child turns a mechanical toy after it has come to rest. Thus released, the running figure proceeded back towards the wicket, followed close at heels by Arthur, who hoped, by means of a push here and a shove there, to guide him back to the pavilion and so out of harm's way.

"Medicines," said the Doctor, without enthusiasm."But what is it for?" gasped Arthur.He trundled forward again and lurched into the middle of the street.

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.Here, however, the discussion came to an abrupt conclusion, for something was happening to the Clockwork man.

"Quite," murmured the Doctor. He was leaning forward now, with his elbows resting on the table and his head on one side. "I can see that. There are certain things about you that strike one as being obvious. But what beats me at present is how鈥攁nd where鈥" he looked, figuratively speaking, at the inside of the Clockwork man, "I mean, in what part of your anatomy the鈥攅r鈥攎otive force is situated."And so he said nothing. They remained by the stile, courting each other and the silent on-coming of night. They were very ordinary lovers, and behaved just exactly in the same way as other people in the same condition. They kissed at intervals and examined each other's faces with portentous gravity and microscopic care. Leaning against the stile, they were frequently interrupted by pedestrians, some of whom took special care to light their pipes as they passed. But the disturbance scarcely affected them. Being lovers, they belonged to each other; and the world about them also belonged to them, and seemed to fashion its laws in accordance with their desires. They would not have offered you twopence for a reformed House of Commons or an enlightened civilisation.

He broke off and struggled with some queer kind of mechanical emotion. "And now they play games with us. They wind us up and make us do all sorts of things, just for fun. They try all sorts of experiments with us, and we can't help ourselves because we're in their power; and if they like they can stop the clock, and then we aren't anything at all.""Let them talk," cried the Doctor, beating his head with his closed fist. "In heaven's name, let them talk the thing into a nine days wonder. Let them think he's the devil鈥攁nything rather than that they should know the truth. There may be a hundred explanations of this mystery, and yours may be the right one; I only know that I repudiate it. I cannot escape from the evidence of my own eyes; but there is something in me that denies the Clockwork man. He sticks in my gorge. Call me what you will; I am not to be shaken with phrases. The whole of man's past shrieks out against this monstrous incubus of the future. Do not ask me to offer my own explanation of the phenomenon. I have none. In vain I have stretched my brain to its bursting point in order to solve this problem. You, apparently, are ready to accept the Clockwork man as a foregone conclusion. Time alone will reveal which of us is nearer the truth.""Wallabaloo," replied the other, eagerly. "Walla鈥擮h, hang it鈥擧ulloa, now we've got it鈥擶allabaloo鈥擭o, we haven't鈥擝ang Wallop鈥攏ine and ninepence鈥"

But the Clockwork man made no reply. He stood in the middle of the stage and slowly[Pg 96] lifted a finger to his nose. The Curate's doubts returned. Something seemed to occur to him as he examined his companion more closely. "You haven't been taking anything, my good man, have you? Anything of an alcholic nature?"Such reflections flitted hazily through the Doctor's mind as he strove in vain to find a practical solution of the problem. What was the clock? He knew, from hearsay, that it was situated at the back of this strange being's head. Tom Driver had seen it, and described it in his clumsy fashion. Since that episode the Doctor had visualised something in the nature of an instrument affixed to the Clockwork man's head, and perhaps connected with his cerebral processes. Was it a kind of super-brain? Had there been found some means of lengthening the convolutions of the human brain, so that man's thought travelled further and so enabled him to arrive more swiftly at ultimate conclusions? That seemed suggestive. It must be that in some way the cerebral energy of man had been stored up, as electricity in a battery, and then released by mechanical processes.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.

IThe 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."Object to what?"

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"Well, I can't help it," said Allingham, "you don't expect a thing like that to happen. What's the white sheet for? So that you can[Pg 5] see the bowler's arm. But when something gets in the way, just over the sheet鈥攋ust where you've got your eye fixed. It wouldn't happen once in a million times.""I see them lying in the pit," explained Tom, "they must 'ave dropped off 'is 'ead as he lay there. Of course, 'e 'adn't fallen very far, otherwise 'is legs wouldn't ave been sticking up. It 'aint very steep just there, and 'is 'ead must 'ave caught in a bit of furze. But the 'at and wig 'ad rolled down to the bottom. After 'e'd gone I climbed down and picked them up."I

III"Oh," said Gregg, and his face became blank. "Anyhow, just tell him that he must run when he's called.""Gawd," he gasped, "it's a blooming ghost."




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