时间：<2020-06-04 16:20:47 作者：vl胡歌表白霍建华8cu 浏览量：9777
THE CLOCKWORK MAN EXPLAINS HIMSELFBut at that moment, as the constable afterwards described it to himself, it seemed to him that there came before his eyes a sort of mist. The figure leaning against the lamp-post looked less obvious. He did not appear now to be a palpable individual at all, but a sort of shadowy outline of himself, blurred and in[Pg 91]distinct. The constable rubbed his eyes and stretched out a hand.
"Here I am," the thin voice echoed faintly. The constable wheeled round sharply and became aware of a vague, palpitating mass, hovering in the dark mouth of the archway. It was like some solid body subjected to intense vibration. There was a high-pitched spinning noise."Stop a minute," exclaimed Gregg, arising in sheer astonishment, "you seem to be upset. I don't understand what you are raving about."THE MYSTERY OF THE CLOCKWORK MAN
"Dreadfully," said Rose, without a trace of disrespect. "The books you read!"Einstein could say that we were probably wrong in our basic conceptions. But could he say how we were to get right? The Clockwork man might be the beginning.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.
He moved his arm slowly round in a circle, as though to reassure himself. The arm worked in a lop-sided fashion, like a badly shaped wheel, stiffly upwards and then quickly dropping down the curve. Then the Clockwork man lifted a leg and swung it swiftly backwards and forwards. At first the leg shot out sharply, and there seemed to be some difficulty about its withdrawal; but after a little practice it moved quite smoothly. He continued these experiments for a few moments, in complete silence and with a slightly anxious expression upon his face, as though he were really afraid things were not quite as they should be.True, it was an illusion, and man had always known that. For generations he had known that the universe contained more than his limited faculties could perceive. And beauty. There had always been the consoling fact of beauty, lulling the race of man to content, while every now and again a great mind arose and made one more effort to sweep aside the bejewelled splendour that hung between man and his final destiny—to know.He threw the hat into infinity and produced a parrot cage with parrot.
He came a little nearer to Arthur, walking with a hop, skip and jump, rather like a man with his feet tied together."Oh," said Arthur, his mouth opening wide. And then he stammered quickly, "that noise, you know."He was fading rapidly.
He was so interested that presently he got up and wandered along the line of hurdles towards the spot where the strange figure had come to rest. It had not moved at all, and this fact added astonishment to curiosity. It clung desperately to the barrier, as though glad to have got there. Its attitude was awkward in the extreme, hunched up, ill-[Pg 9]adjusted, but it made no attempt to achieve comfort. Further along, little groups of spectators were leaning against the barrier in nearly similar positions, smoking pipes, fidgeting and watching the game intently. But the strange figure was not doing anything at all, and if he looked at the players it was with an unnatural degree of intense observation. Arthur walked slowly along, wondering how close he could get to his objective without appearing rude. But, somehow, he did not think this difficulty would arise. There was something singularly forlorn and wretched about this curious individual, a suggestion of inconsequence. Arthur could have sworn that he was homeless and had no purpose or occupation. He was not in the picture of life, but something blobbed on by accident. Other people gave some sharp hint by their manner or deportment that they belonged to some roughly defined class. You could guess something about them. But this extraordinary personage, who had emerged so suddenly from the line of the sky and streaked aimlessly across the landscape, bore not even the vaguest marks of homely origin. He had staggered along the path, not with the recognisable gait of a drunken man, but with a sort of desperate decision, as though convinced in his mind that the path he was treading was really only a[Pg 10] thin plank stretched from heaven to earth upon which he had been obliged to balance himself. And now he was hanging upon the hurdle, and it was just as though someone had thrown a great piece of clay there, and with a few deft strokes shaped it into the vague likeness of a man.The expression on Gregg's face, as he read these amazing instructions, changed slowly from avid curiosity to puzzled alarm. He was frankly embarrassed by this sudden turn of events, and for a few moments he could make nothing at all of the matter. Yet the wording was intelligible enough, and its application to the Clockwork man only too obvious. The little piece of thin metal must have slipped from his pocket during the Doctor's examination, and its discovery was undoubtedly of supreme importance."I said next week," explained the other, "in order to make my meaning clear. Actually, of course, I don't describe time in such arbitrary terms. But when one is in Rome, you know. What I mean to convey is that I am capable of going not only somewhere, but also somewhen."
And yet this wildly incredible being, this unspeakable travesty of all living organisms, this thing most opposite to humanity, actually breathed and conversed. He was a sentient being. He was more than man, for he could[Pg 169] be turned into something else by simply pressing a stop. Properly understood, there was no doubt that the mechanism permitted the owner of it to run up and down the evolutionary scale of species according to adjustment.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.""I think," said Gregg, with curious calmness, "I think we had better warn the police. He's likely to be dangerous."
"Perhaps you agree with Mrs. Masters?" said Allingham, as soon as the door was closed.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.III
"Even if he's a myth," interrupted Gregg, "he is still worth investigating. What annoys me is your positive antagonism to the idea that he might be possible. You seem to want to go out of your way to prove me in the wrong. I may add, that once a man has ceased to believe in the impossible he is damned.""Do they help people to work?"4. Press stops A and B well home, and wind up by turning red hand.
"Care for watercress?" enquired the Doctor, trying hard to glance casually at his guest."See what you can do in the matter of eggs,'' urged the Doctor, and Mrs. Masters departed, with the light of expedition in her eye, for to feed a hungry man, even one whom she regarded with suspicion, was part of her religion."Well," the reply was shot out at last, "how do you work?" The repartee of the Clockwork man was none the less effective for being suspended, as it were, for a second or two before delivery.