时间：<2020-07-06 08:19:48 作者：nH飞度与昕动哪个好yto 浏览量：9777
The constable gave way to panic. He temporised with his duty. "Stow it," he begged, "I can't take you to the station like this. They'll never believe me." He took off his hat and rubbed his tingling forehead.[Pg 93] "Say it's a dream, mate," he added, in a whining voice. "'Ow can I go 'ome to the missus with a tale like this. She'll say it's the gin again. It's always my luck to strike something like this. When the ghost came to Bapchurch churchyard, it was me wot saw it first, and nobody believed me. You go along quietly, and we'll look over it this time.""He—he made things appear," gasped the Curate, with a great effort, "out of nowhere—positively."
"NO," thundered the Doctor, suddenly leaping to his feet. "By heavens, no. Not that!""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.And then there was the Clockwork man—something else to think about, to be wondered at.
He would be dragged into the affair. In spite of himself, he would be obliged to go into some sort of witness box and declare that from the first he had thought the Clockwork man phenomenal, when, as a matter of fact, he had merely thought him a nuisance. But, as one of those who had first seen the strange figure on the hill, and as a medical man, he would be expected to make an intelligent statement. One had to be consistent about such things.The Clockwork man shook his head. "We have houses, but they are not full of things like yours are, and we don't live in them. They are simply places where we go when we take ourselves to pieces or overhaul ourselves. They are—" his mouth opened very wide, "the nearest approach to fixed objects that we have, and we regard them as jumping-off places for successive excursions into various dimensions. Streets are of course unnecessary, since the only object of a street is to lead from one place to another, and we do that sort of thing in other ways. Again, our houses are[Pg 146] not placed together in the absurd fashion of yours. They are anywhere and everywhere, and nowhere and nowhen. For instance, I live in the day before yesterday and my friend in the day after to-morrow.""Have you heard anything fresh?" enquired Gregg, pleasantly.
And yet, a slight alteration in man's perceptive organs and that wide blue shell might shatter and disclose a thousand new forms, like fantastic cities shaped in the clouds at sunset. Physiologists claimed that the addition of a single lobe to the human brain might mean that man would know the future as well as the past. What if that miracle had been performed? By such means man might have come to know not only the future, but other dimensions as yet unnamed or merely sketched out by the mathematician in brief, arbitrary terms.A faint wrinkle of perplexity appeared on the other's forehead. He shook his head once "Place. There, again, I can't grasp that idea. What is a place? And how does a thing come to be in one place and not in another?" He jerked a hand up as though to emphasise the point. "A thing either is or it isn't. It can't be in a place."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.
"The man's a dangerous lunatic," asserted Allingham, who had not yet overcome his[Pg 25] original annoyance with the strange figure, whose sudden advent had lost him his wicket. "It's uncanny, this sort of thing. You can't call it cricket."All really important questions in life came under the heading of Time and Space, thought of in capital letters. Recently, he had struggled through a difficult book, in which the author used these expressions a great many times, although in a sense difficult to grasp. Nevertheless, it suddenly became obvious, in a small way, exactly what the chap had been driving at.
"Of course," he said, slowly, "you don't understand. It isn't to be expected that you would understand. Why, you haven't even got a clock! That was the first thing I noticed about you.""But it must be somewhere," objected Arthur, "that's obvious."This evening there had been one or two labourers with red, wrinkled faces, too hungry and tired to make much comment. Then[Pg 195] Mrs. Flack had come hurrying along with her black bag (they had to get off for her as she was not so young as she had been), and soon afterwards the Curate, who beamed affably, and enquired when it was to be. He was so looking forward to uniting them.
If necessary, one could brush all that up again. How different life was, when it came to be lived; how unlike the sagacious prognostications of doubting youth! There was a substratum underneath all that surge of enquiry and inquisitiveness, all that worry and distress; and that was life itself, known and valued, something that one clung to with increasing strength. The mind grew out of its speculative stage and settled down to a careful consideration of concrete existence."How do you feel now?" ventured the Doctor, arousing himself with an effort."But you must admit," interpolated the Doctor, "that I might be deceiving you. I could easily do it, just to prove you in the wrong. I can assure you that nothing would suit my humour better at the present moment! Instead of which it is I who appear the fool. I never wanted to believe in the Clockwork man. I was angry with you for believing in him. Admit that it would be a just revenge on my part to hoax you."
The constable returned furtively to his shelter beneath the arch, hitched himself thoughtfully, and found half a cigarette inside his waistcoat pocket.It must remain for ever a question for curious speculation as to what action might have been taken by Doctor Allingham and Gregg in conjunction, had they been able to pursue their investigation of the Clockwork man upon a thorough-going scale; for while their discussions were taking place the subject of them escaped from his confinement in the coal cellar.THE WONDERFUL CRICKETER
"Ah, well, I grant you that. They say you cure more with your tongue than with your physic."He waddled along, with his head stuck jauntily to one side. "I have nothing to fear," he added, "from such a rudimentary race of beings."When the Doctor found him, he appeared to be about six weeks old, and rapidly growing smaller and smaller.
The doctor gasped slightly and released his hold upon a mustard pot. He came up to the rebound with a new suggestion."Whoever was that person you were talking to?" she enquired, as soon as they stood together.The clock, perhaps, was the index of a new and enlarged order of things. Man had altered the very shape of the universe in order to be able to pursue his aims without frustration. That was an old dream of Gregg's. Time and Space were the obstacles to man's aspirations, and therefore he had invented this cunning device, which would adjust his faculties to some mightier rhythm of universal forces. It was a logical step forward in the path of material progress.