时间：<2020-07-11 16:09:50 作者：quydB 浏览量：9777
But 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.He was fading rapidly.
IThe Clockwork man was standing by his side, a comic expression of pity and misgiving animating his crude features. With one hand he was softly stroking the damaged bonnet of the car."It isn't in the game," Allingham began. But the other had gone out.
"Heroes," suggested Rose, whose knowledge of literature was not very wide."I think," said Gregg, with curious calmness, "I think we had better warn the police. He's likely to be dangerous.""He is beginning to be understood. And some attempt is being made to popularise his theory. But I don't know that I altogether agree."
"Very likely," the Doctor suggested, "someone has played a trick upon you. Perhaps your own nerves are partly to blame. Men with highly strung nerves like you are very liable to—er—hallucinations.""Whoever was that person you were talking to?" she enquired, as soon as they stood together."It mustn't happen," said the Doctor, recovering slightly, "that's the flat fact. If it's food you require, then food you shall have."
"Go on, Tom," commanded Inspector Grey. "Spit it out, lad. It's got to be said."The commotion subsided as abruptly as it had begun, and the Doctor enquired, with as much grace as his outraged instincts would allow, whether he could offer him any more."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.
But he did not hurry. He twisted his head gradually round as though to embrace as much as possible in his last survey of a shapely, if limited world.IBut 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?"
"But how can you explain him?" protested the Doctor, with some trace of his old irritation. "You have not even seen the clock.""Precisely," said Gregg, who was beginning to grow impatient with the other's manner, "and since the facts have revealed themselves, what is the use of trying to evade them? Here we have a Clockwork man, a creature entirely without precedent, for there is no record of his having existed in the past, and so far as we know there has been no successful attempt to create such a being in our own times. Everything favours my original hypothesis; that he has in some way, and probably through some fault in the mechanism that controls him, lapsed into these earlier years of human existence. That seems to me feasible. If man has indeed conquered time and space, then the slightest irregularity in this new functioning principle would result in a catastrophe such as we must suppose has happened to the Clockwork man. It is more than probable that a slight adjustment would result in his speedy return to conditions more proper to his true state."The constable gave way to panic. He temporised with his duty. "Stow it," he begged, "I can't take you to the station like this. They'll never believe me." He took off his hat and rubbed his tingling forehead.[Pg 93] "Say it's a dream, mate," he added, in a whining voice. "'Ow can I go 'ome to the missus with a tale like this. She'll say it's the gin again. It's always my luck to strike something like this. When the ghost came to Bapchurch churchyard, it was me wot saw it first, and nobody believed me. You go along quietly, and we'll look over it this time."
"So I was," said Allingham, aiming a pad at the opposite wall. "So I was. Never felt more like it in my life. And then some idiot goes and sticks himself right over the top of the sheet. An escaped lunatic. A chap with a lot of extra arms and legs. You never saw anything like it in your life!"[Pg 116]"That's my conviction," he gasped out, too excited and breathless for further speech.
Whatever the argument was about, the Clockwork man seemed to gain his point, for presently the three figures turned together and proceeded in a bee-line towards the pavilion, Doctor Allingham and Gregg dodging about absurdly in their effort to accommodate themselves to the gyrations of their companion."Eggs," announced the figure on the couch. "Large quantities of eggs—infinite eggs."And yet, a slight alteration in man's perceptive organs and that wide blue shell might shatter and disclose a thousand new forms, like fantastic cities shaped in the clouds at sunset. Physiologists claimed that the addition of a single lobe to the human brain might mean that man would know the future as well as the past. What if that miracle had been performed? By such means man might have come to know not only the future, but other dimensions as yet unnamed or merely sketched out by the mathematician in brief, arbitrary terms.
"What are these?" he enquired.IAfter that final collapse, the Doctor had succeeded somehow in restoring him to his normal shape; and then, by miraculous chance, he discovered a hand that, when turned, had[Pg 168] the effect of producing in the Clockwork man an appearance of complete quiescence. He looked now more like a tailor's dummy than anything else; and the apparent absence of blood circulation and even respiration rendered the illusion almost perfect. He looked life-like without seeming to be alive.