"Have you heard anything fresh?" enquired Gregg, pleasantly.
"Well, I admit I was rather mystified by that hat and wig. But when you come to rationalise the thing, what is there in it?" The Doctor was taking long strides and flourishing his leather gloves in the air. "How could such a thing be? How can anybody in his right senses entertain the notion that Dunn Brothers are still in existence two thousand years hence? And the Clarkson business. It's absurd on the face of it.""She says to me, she says, 'Tell him there's nothing doing.'""Nine and ninepence—" he heard at last, very thin and distinct. And then there was stillness."Z 5," came the faint rejoinder, "and reverse Y 4—most important—reverse Y 4."
"Really," said Gregg, and grinned again. "H'm," he remarked, presently, "six wickets down, and all the best men out. We look like going to pieces. Especially as we're a man short."The Clockwork man shifted his head very slightly, and one eye screwed slowly round.The Curate scarcely seemed to catch this remark. "Well, I'm glad you've turned up," he went on, "it's so pitiful when the little ones have to be disappointed, and they have been so looking forward to the conjuring. Your things have arrived.""Tell me," said the Doctor, without moving a muscle in his face, "was she satisfied with her tour of my premises?""She says to me, she says, 'Tell him there's nothing doing.'"IIIThe figure stopped with startling suddenness, but offered no explanation.Allingham couldn't say a word. He stood there panting and swallowing quickly. Arthur Withers caught up to them.The Clockwork man turned slowly and surveyed the prostrate figure. "A rudimentary race," he soliloquised, with his finger nosewards, "half blind, and painfully restricted in their movements. Evidently they have only a few senses—five at the most." He passed out into the street, carefully avoiding the body.[Pg 103] "They have a certain freedom," he continued, still nursing his nose, "within narrow limits. But they soon grow limp. And when they fall down, or lose balance, they have no choice but to embrace the earth."
- "Not on your life," roared the Doctor. "At the worst I shall bore you with my many-times-told jests."
- Arthur watched him, feeling diffident, half inclined to follow him in case he fell over. For there was not much stability about the Clockwork man. It was clear that the slightest[Pg 21] obstacle would have precipitated him upon his nose. He kept his head erect, and looked neither downwards or to right and left. He seemed wholly absorbed in his eccentric mode of locomotion, as though he found it interesting just to be moving along. Arthur kept his eyes glued upon that stiff, upright back, surmounted by the wig and hat, and he wondered what would happen when the Clockwork man reached to the end of the line of hurdles, where another barrier started at right angles across the end of the cricket ground.
- Mr. Flack shook his head thoughtfully. Presently he got up, walked to the end of the mantelpiece, placed his smoked-out pipe on the edge and took an empty one from behind an ornament. Then he returned to his seat and sat for a long time with the empty pipe in his mouth.
- He achieved that second grand sweep of the left side of his face, ending at the corner of his mouth, and followed it up by a swift, upward stroke, annihilating the bristly tuft underneath his lower lip. Looking swiftly at the clock, he noticed that it was getting dreadfully late. That was another curious problem of existence.[Pg 72] You were always up against time. Generally, when you had to do something or get somewhere, there was this sense of breathless hurry and a disconcerting feeling that the world ended abruptly at the conclusion of every hour and then began again quite differently. The clock, in fact, was another tyrant, robbing you of that sensation of being able to go on for ever without changing. That was why people said, when they consulted their watches "How's the enemy?"
- As he drew nearer, Arthur's impression of an unearthly being was sobered a little by the discovery that the strange figure wore a wig. It was a very red wig, and over the top of it was jammed a brown bowler hat. The face underneath was crimson and flabby. Arthur decided that it was not a very interesting face. Its features seemed to melt into each other in an odd sort of way, so that you knew that you were looking at a face and that was about all. He was about to turn his head politely and pass on, when he was suddenly rooted to the ground by the observation of a most singular circumstance.
- "I have a feeling," he continued, placing a finger to his nose, "that if I put on my top gear now I should be off like a shot."
- 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."
- "But did she leave any message?" enquired the Doctor, fixing her with his eye-glass.
- "Finite world," proceeded the Clockwork man, "fixed laws—limited dimensions—essentially limited. Now, when I'm working properly, I can move about in all dimensions. That is to say, in addition to moving backwards and forwards, and this way and that, I can also move X and Y, and X2 and Y2." 更多 CPK 推荐