2021-04-14 01:16:38

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ENGLISH But the class to which the Paynes belonged were not really humble. They were urban in origin, and the semi-aristocratic tradition of Great Wymering was opposed to them. They had come down from the London suburbs in response to advertisements of factory sites, and their enterprise had been amazing. Within a few years Great Wymering had ceased to be a pleasing country town, with historic associations dating back to the first Roman occupation; it was merely known to travellers on the South-Eastern and Chatham railway as the place where Payne's Dog Biscuits were manufactured.III

"I have tried," she confessed, "and I have failed. She fascinates and yet repels me. There is some strange mystery about her. Gordon, I feel sure that there is the shadow of some great crime on her house. It sounds weak, hysterical, perhaps, but I can't get it out of my mind."

"Hydrophobia," flashed through the Doctor's mind, but he dismissed the idea immediately. He had lit a cigarette in order to soothe his nerves. He was trying so hard to rationalise the whole proceeding, to fit the Clockwork man into some remotely possible order of things; but it was a difficult process, for no sooner had he grouped certain ideas in his head than some fresh manifestation took place which rendered all previous theories futile. At the present moment, for instance, it was obvious that some new kind of structural alteration was taking place in the Clockwork man's physiognomy. The phenomenon could[Pg 151] hardly be classed in the same category as the sudden growth of beard, although there were points in common. Hair was again visible, this time spread all over the rounded face and on the jaw; the nose was receding and flattening out; the eyes were dwindling in size, and the expression in them changed into a dull stare. The bark was repeated and followed by an angry rumbling.Allingham couldn't say a word. He stood there panting and swallowing quickly. Arthur Withers caught up to them.In an envelope addressed to him in the handwriting I had first seen at Lucius Oliver's I found a scripture-text, a heading torn from a tract which the chaplain may have sent in to Charlotte in the morning. I turned it to the light of my fire. Under this printed line she had pencilled her name.

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But the authorities at the bank regarded them as grave defects in his character."How's the fair patient?" I hurried to ask as the three of us went.

Arthur considered. "I'm afraid it can't be explained," he murmured, "it just is."The Clockwork man lay in the coal cellar, which was situated in the area, just opposite the surgery door. He lay there, stiff and stark, with an immobile expression upon his features, and his eyes and mouth wide open."Yes, they're fighting, now, on the edge of town," we said, "but our boys will keep them there." Our host and hostess moaned their unbelief. "However," added Harry, "I'll go tell the old man to hitch up the little mules and--"

"Yes.... Yes," Ferry kept putting in.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?"[Pg 19]

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"Nineteen hundred and twenty-three," said Arthur, smiling faintly."You're right, Sam," said George Bynes, who had hit up many a century for his town in bygone days, "tain't cricket. Else it's a[Pg 28] fluke; the man didn't ought to be allowed to hold bat in his hand. It's spoiling other folks' sport.""I'm so glad you have come at last," he began, in a strong whisper, "I was beginning to be afraid you were going to disappoint us."

"It's a harmless enough assumption," laughed Allingham.So the argument had waged since the telling of Tom Driver's story. Gregg's chief difficulty was to get Allingham to see that there really might be something in this theory of a world in which merely trivial things had become permanent, whilst the cosmos itself, the hitherto unchanging outer environment of man's existence, might have opened up in many new directions. Man might have tired of waiting for a so long heralded eternity, and made one out of his own material tools. The Clockwork man, now crystallised in Gregg's mind as an unforgetable figure, seemed to him to stand for a sort of rigidity of personal being as opposed to the fickleness of mere[Pg 110] flesh and blood; but the world in which he lived probably had widely different laws, if indeed it had humanly comprehensible laws at all.

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Apr-14 01:16:38