时间：<2020-06-01 20:45:02 作者：zi雷克萨斯gs系列sFz 浏览量：9777
[Pg 128]The Clockwork man was standing by his side, a comic expression of pity and misgiving animating his crude features. With one hand he was softly stroking the damaged bonnet of the car.
"Such a jolly little place," he mused. "You could have such fun—and be yourself. I wonder why it reminds me so of something—before the days of the clock, before we knew.""Gamages," interrupted the Clockwork man, "wait—I seem to understand—it comes back to me—universal providers—cash account—nine and ninepence—nine and nine[Pg 97]pence—nine and ninepence—I beg your pardon.""Oh," said Gregg, and his face became blank. "Anyhow, just tell him that he must run when he's called."
"Go hon!" exclaimed Mrs. Flack, leaning her red folded arms upon the table, "well I never!""Oh, am I? Do you think so? I'm so glad—I'm so sorry."
"Why drag in the future," said the other, opening his eyes quickly."But it is so," protested Arthur. "You didn't see him as I did. He was like nothing on earth—and 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."The strange figure was flapping his ears—flapping them violently backwards and forwards, with an almost inconceivable rapidity!
He held his breath and turned his head slowly to the right. For a long time the sound increased only very slightly. And then, there broke upon the general stillness a series of abrupt explosions.He lifted his arms up and dropped them again sharply."I wonder," said the Curate, grasping the edge of his chair, "I wonder, now, if Moses felt like this when he saw the burning bush."
Lilian glanced up at them. "If only we could keep there! By their habitations are men known. A house ought to be a sort of resting place. No more. Once you elaborate it, it becomes a prison, with hard labour attached.""Stop it!" the Curate gasped. "My heart, you know—I have been warned—sudden shocks." He staggered to the wall and groped blindly for an emergency exit, which he knew to be there somewhere. He found it, forced the door open and fell limply upon the pavement outside.So far as the Clockwork man's features were capable of change, there passed across them a faint expression of triumph and satisfaction. "I perceive," he remarked, "that I have indeed lapsed into a world of curiously insufficient and inefficent beings. I have fallen amongst the Unclocked. They cannot perceive Nowhere. They do not understand Nowhen. They lack senses and move about on a single plane. Henceforth, I shall act with greater confidence."
In his growing excitement Gregg rose and paced the floor of the room, walking away[Pg 184] from the Doctor. He did not hear the slight snigger that broke from the latter; nor had he observed any signs of deeper incredulity in the features of his friend that might have led him to moderate his enthusiasm. He continued, in an exultant voice. "Think of what this means! We know the future! The accidental appearance of the Clockwork man may save the human race generations of striving and effort in a wrong direction. Or rather, it will save us from passing through the intermediate stages consciously, for everything has already happened, and the utmost we can hope is to escape the knowledge of its happening. We shall be able to take a great leap forward into the future. Once we have grasped the principle of the Clockwork man, the course of humanity is clear. It may still be several thousands of years before the final achievement, but we can at least begin.""It's rather difficult to explain," the Clockwork man continued, "but so far as I remember, doctors were people who used to mend human beings before the days of the clock. Now they are called mechanics. But it amounts to the same thing."It occurred to the Doctor that here was an opportunity to investigate certain matters.
[Pg 212]"Are you looking at my clock?" enquired the Clockwork man, without altering his tone of speech. "I must apologise. I feel quite indecent."He trundled forward again and lurched into the middle of the street.
"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."On no account must any adjustment be made before the red light has appeared. Any attempt to cause function on an empty stomach will result in failure."Well, then," resumed Lilian, triumphantly, "isn't all this possession of things, all this wanting to have and keep, a sort of death, beginning from the extremities? Wouldn't it be awful if the human body didn't change, if we got fixed in some way, didn't grow old or lose our hair, or have influenza?"
"Let me explain," urged the Clockwork man, who was gaining in verbal ease and intellectual elasticity every moment. "Supposing[Pg 90] I was to hit you hard. You would fall down. You would become supine. You would assume a horizontal position at right angles to your present perpendicularity." He gazed upwards at the tall figure of the constable. "But if you were to hit me, I should have an alternative. I could, for example, fall into the middle of next week.""Hot air," interrupted Allingham, reaching for his tobacco pouch, "that's all this is.""Yes," echoed Gregg enthusiastically, "a multiform world. A world in which man moves as he will, grows as he will, behaves in every way exactly as he wills. A world set free! Think of what it means!"