ENGLISH 三上悠亚2018.09He 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.THE ENDII
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."Oh, someone who had lost his way," said[Pg 82] Arthur, carelessly. He felt curiously disinclined to explain matters just at present. The Clockwork man was disconcerting. He was a rather terrifying side-issue. Arthur had a feeling that Rose would probably be frightened by him, for she was a timid girl. He half hoped now that this strange being would turn out to be some kind of monstrous hoax.
Then the Clockwork man turned himself slowly round.Softly she sprang from the bed, paced the floor, went to the window, seemed to look out upon the landscape; but in truth she was looking in upon herself. There she saw a most unaccountable tendency for her judgment--after some long overstrain--momentarily, but all at once, to swoon, collapse, turn upside down like a boy's kite and dart to earth; an impulse--while fancying she was playing the supremely courageous or generous or clever part--suddenly to surrender the key of the situation, the vital point in whatever she might be striving for. "Ah me, ah me! why did I give my parole?"The Doctor removed his hat as though in honour of the mere mention of his visitor. "Did you give her my love?" was his light rejoinder, hat still poised at an elegant angle.
Miss Charlotte's a-comin' down de la--ane!"
Just for a moment the Doctor tried to realise that he was looking upon the supreme marvel of human ingenuity. He made an effort to stretch his brain once more in order to grasp the significance of this paragon of eight thousand years hence. But he did not succeed. The strain of the past hour reached its first climax. He began to tremble violently. His elbow went back with a sharp jerk and smashed three bottles standing on the shelf behind him. He made little whimpering noises in his throat."Captain Ferry ain't stopping with us now, sir, he's 'way up at Hazlehurst."I sprang for the door, but the fire-log sent me sprawling with my shoulder on the threshold. As I went down I heard in the same breath the wounded officer wailing "Go back! go in! there are only four of them! don't leave one alive!" and Miss Harper all but screaming "Our men! our men! God be praised, our men are coming, they are here! Fly spoilers, for your lives, fly!"
But the Clockwork man suddenly seemed panic-stricken. Just for one moment he surveyed the prostrate figures lying about on the grass like so many sacks. Then he sent the bat flying in the direction of the pavilion and rushed straight for the barrier of hurdles."Just what I'm always telling my missus," reflected the constable."I'm not. I really noticed them. Of course, I didn't attach much importance to them at the time, but afterwards, when Arthur[Pg 56] Withers was telling his story, all that queer feeling about the strange figure came back to me. It took possession of me. After all, suppose he is a clockwork man?"
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"Gholson, you are out of your head.""What do you think,--Camille?"
"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."Our dear friends were too well aware of the untold trouble to say a word about his coming back, but Miss Harper's parting injunction to me was to write them."Oh, no, indeed! I am the one to blame, the only one. If you had not, both of you, been so blameless--so splendidly blameless--I should hardly have let myself sink so deep into blame; but I knew you would never take the last glad step until you had seen the last sad proof that you might take it. Oh, Captain, to-night is the third time that in my dreams I have seen that man alive."
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