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    时间:<2020-06-07 18:15:02 作者:HS爱情公寓4 11集y8q 浏览量:9777

    CHAPTER ONEIII

    [Pg 212]"Oh, Mr. Gregg, they say the Devil's come to Great Wymering at last. I'm not surprised to 'ear it, for the goings on in this town 'ave been something terrible since the war. What with the drinking and the young people doing just as they like."Time," said Gregg, quickly, "is a relative thing. The future has happened just as much as the past. It is happening at this moment."

    "Besides," he added, in a formal whisper, "there's the children.""Aren't you going any further?" he enquired, anxiously.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.

    "I cannot," groaned the Doctor, his face hidden between his hands. And then he looked up quickly, and his eyes cleared. "Perhaps, after all, that is the consoling feature of the affair. If the Clockwork man were really capable of explanation, then indeed there would be an end to all sanity. But since he is inexplicable, there still remains the chance that we may be able to put all thought of him out of our minds. I tell you, Gregg, I can live this down, I can forget this night of horror; but not if there is an explanation to fit the case. Not if I can satisfy my reason!""Incorrigible man," said Mrs. Masters. But the Doctor had turned his back upon her, unwilling to reveal the sudden change in his features. Even as he spoke those light words, there came to him the reflection that he did not really mean them, and his pose seemed to crumble to dust. He had lived up to these nothings for years, but now he knew that they were nothings. As though to crown the irritations of a trying day, there came to him the conviction that his whole life had been an affair of studied gestures, of meticulous gesticulations.He was a tissue of physiological lies.

    "I doubt if we shall see him before midnight," said the latter. "Even supposing he catches his man before dusk, which is unlikely, it will take him another hour or so to drive to the Asylum.""If you open the lid," explained the Clockwork man (and at the sound of that human[Pg 162] voice the doctor jumped violently), "you will see certain stops, marked with numbers."[Pg 196]

    "I'm sorry," he murmured, "our recruit[Pg 32] seems to be a little awkward. I don't think he quite understands.""Oh, why are we troubled like this? Why can't we be like them? We shan't ever get any nearer happiness this way. We shan't ever be better than those two. We've simply got a few more thoughts, a little more knowledge—and it may be quite the wrong kind of knowledge."He glanced up at her photograph on the mantelpiece. If there was a flaw in the composition of her fair, Saxon beauty, it was that the mouth was a little too large and opened rather too easily, disclosing teeth that were not as regular as they should be. But nature's blunder often sets the seal on man's choice, and to the Doctor this trifling fault gave warmth and vivacity to a face that might easily have been cold and impassive, especially as her eyes were steel blue and she had no great art in the use of them. Her voice, too, often startled the listener by its occasional note that[Pg 125] suggested an excitability of temperament barely under control.

    "I regard that statement of his as highly significant," resumed Gregg, after a slight pause. "For, of course, if the Clockwork man really is, as suggested, a semi-mechanical being, then he could only have come from the future. So far as I am aware, the present has not yet evolved sufficiently even to consider seriously the possibility of introducing mechanical reinforcements into the human body, although there has been tentative speculation on the subject. We are thousands of years away from such a proposition; on the other[Pg 54] hand, there is no reason why it should not have already happened outside of our limited knowledge of futurity. It has often occurred to me that the drift of scientific progress is slowly but surely leading us in the direction of some such solution of physiological difficulties. The human organism shows signs of breaking down under the strain of an increasingly complex civilisation. There may be a limit to our power of adaptability, and in that case humanity will have to decide whether it will alter its present mode of living or find instead some means of supplementing the normal functions of the body. Perhaps that has, as I suggest, already happened; it depends entirely upon which road humanity has taken. If the mechanical side of civilisation has developed at its present rate, I see no reason why the man of the future should not have found means to ensure his efficiency by mechanical means applied to his natural functions.""You must understand," resumed the Clockwork man, making a rather painful effort to fold his arms and look natural, "you must understand—click—click—that it is difficult for me to carry on conversation in this manner. Not only are my speech centres rather disordered—G-r-r-r-r-r-r—but I am not really accustomed to expressing my thoughts[Pg 143] in this way (here there was a loud spinning noise, like a sewing machine, and rising to a rapid crescendo). My brain is—so—constituted that action—except in a multiform world—is bound to be somewhat spasmodic—Pfft—Pfft—Pfft. In fact—Pfft—it is only—Pfft—because I am in such a hope—hope—hopeless condition that I am able to converse with you at all."He took his place at the wicket. The first ball was an easy one, and he managed to hit it fair and square to mid-on. Scarcely hoping for response, he called to the Clockwork man, and began to run. To his immense astonishment, the latter passed him half-way down the pitch, his legs jumping from side to side, his arms swinging round irresponsibly. It might be said that his run was merely an exaggeration of his walk. Arthur dumped his bat down quickly, and turned. As he looked up, on the return journey, he was puzzled by the fact that there was no sign of his partner. He paused and looked around him.

    Over an unsatisfactory meal he tried to think things out, conscious all the time that he was missing gastronomical opportunities through sheer inattention."I don't quite follow you," interjected Allingham."Tell me," said the Doctor, without moving a muscle in his face, "was she satisfied with her tour of my premises?"

    Arthur could hardly control an eager curiosity to know what the thing was, round and shiny, that looked like a sort of halo at the back of the Clockwork man's head. He kept on dodging from one side to the other in an effort to see it clearly.There was further delay. The bowler at the other end objected to the position of the Clockwork man. He argued, reasonably enough, that the non-participating batsman ought to stand quite clear of the wicket. The umpire had to be consulted, and, as a result of his decision, the Clockwork man was gently but firmly induced to move further away. He then remained, in the same attitude, at the extreme edge of the crease. His obtuseness was certainly remarkable, and comment among the spectators now became general and a trifle heated."Seems as though 'e's only 'alf there," commented Mr. Bynes, noticing this incident.

    4. Press stops A and B well home, and wind up by turning red hand."You and your thoughts!"W. CLARKSON. Wig-maker to the Seventh International.

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