ENGLISH 苍井优无圣光御女郎An hour and a half later Doctor Allingham and Gregg had their tea together in the sitting room of the former's residence. Bay windows looked out upon the broad High Street, already thronged with Saturday evening excursionists. An unusually large crowd was gathered around the entrance to the "Blue Lion," just over the way, for the news had soon spread about the town. Wild rumours passed from ear to ear as to the identity of the strange individual whose behaviour had resulted in so disturbing a conclusion of the cricket match. Those among the townspeople who had actually witnessed not only this event but also the rapid flight of the Clockwork man, related their version of the affair, adding a little each time and altering their theories, so that in the end those who listened were more frightened and impressed than those who had seen.The two officers glanced sharply at each other. When the General turned again he flushed resentfully. "Have you never resumed your maiden name?"
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.""Don't hurry home," warned the Doctor. "Take things quietly."
The little man with the keen restless eyes and the pince-nez did not suggest the popular idea of the novelist. He chattered on with frank egotism. The world made much of him, and he took it for granted that all the world was interested in his work. And he was talking eagerly to Leona Lalage about the Corner House.We were moving to the house; at the steps we halted; the place was all alight and the ladies were arriving in the parlor. A beam of light touching Ferry's face made his smile haggard. I asked if this Jewett was another leader of scouts.XLV STAY TILL TO-MORROW
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It was only then that I observed that Charlotte was armed. But the fact made her seem only the more a true woman, since I knew that only for her honor or his life would she ever take deadly aim. Her weapon was the slender revolver she had carried ever since the day which had made her Charlotte Oliver, the thing without which she never could have reached this hour of blissful extremity. CHAPTER EIGHT
Again the tears flowed down the Clockwork man's cheeks, this time in a sequence of regular streams.Quinn hustled the captives "down a lane," as the fiddler might have said, of Ferry's scouts, mounted them on their own horses at the door, and hurried them away. Charlotte had vanished but was back again in hat and riding-skirt. Ferry caught her hand and they ran to the front veranda steps just as the prisoners and guard rode swiftly from them. Kendall and I had the stirrup ready for her; the saddle was a man's, but she made a horn of its pommel, and in a flash the four of us were mounted. Nevertheless before we could move the grove resounded with shots, and Ferry, bidding us ride on after the fleeing guard, wheeled and galloped to where half our troop were holding back their assailants in the dark. But then, to our distraction, Charlotte would not fly. "Richard, I'm paroled!"--"Charlotte Oliver, you're my prisoner!" I reached for her bridle, but she avoided me and with a cry of recollection wheeled and was on her way back. "I forgot something! I can get it, I left the room lighted!"The spectators gave themselves up wholly to the fun. It must have seemed to them that this extraordinary cricketer was also gifted with a sense of humour, however eccentric; and that his nonsensical action was intended by way of retaliation for the ironic cheers that had greeted his running at all. Nobody, except Arthur Withers, realised that the Clockwork man run thus far because for some reason he had been unable to stop himself. It may be remarked here that many of the Clockwork man's subsequent performances had this same accidental air of humour; and that even his most grotesque attitudes gave the observer an impression of some wild practical joke. He was so far human, in appearance and[Pg 35] manner, in spite of those peculiar internal arrangements, which will be dealt with later, that his actions produced an instantaneous appeal to the comic instinct; and in laughing at him people forgot to take him seriously.
The grasshopper hopped and landed with a quite distinct thud, almost at their feet. They both looked at it without thinking about it at all. But its advent produced a pause."Poor thing," he was saying, "It must be suffering dreadfully. I am so sorry."
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"Yes, our side does the same. If I wanted such a fate to overtake him I should only have to let him alone. At risks too hideous to name I have saved him from it twice. I am here to-day chiefly to circumvent his purposes; but if I may do so in the way I wish to propose to you, I shall also save him once more. I am willing to save him--in that way--although by so doing I shall lose--fearfully." She dropped her glance and turned aside.XLVIII IN THE HOLLOW OF HIS RIGHT ARM
"Very good," said the General, "you are now on parole. See the lady conducted to Squire Gilmer's, Major. And now, Miss--eh,--day after to-morrow morning I shall either pass you beyond my lines or else send you to Baton Rouge. Good-day." When Charlotte found herself alone in a room of the Gilmer house she lay down upon the bed staring and sighing with dismay; she was bound by a parole! If within its limit of time Oliver should appear, "It will mean Baton Rouge for me!" she cried under her breath, starting up and falling back again; "Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Ship Island!" She was in as feminine a fright as though she had never braved a danger. Suddenly a new distress overwhelmed her: if--if--someone to deliver her should come--"Oh Heaven! I am paroled!--bound hand and foot by my insane parole!"
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