2021-04-17 02:06:45

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ENGLISH He glanced up at her photograph on the mantelpiece. If there was a flaw in the composition of her fair, Saxon beauty, it was that the mouth was a little too large and opened rather too easily, disclosing teeth that were not as regular as they should be. But nature's blunder often sets the seal on man's choice, and to the Doctor this trifling fault gave warmth and vivacity to a face that might easily have been cold and impassive, especially as her eyes were steel blue and she had no great art in the use of them. Her voice, too, often startled the listener by its occasional note that[Pg 125] suggested an excitability of temperament barely under control."Captain," called Ferry, "I give you one quarter-minute to get away from that door." He whispered to Charlotte, pointing to a panel of it higher than any one's head.But it was not to be yet. That was the burden of their subdued murmurings. It couldn't be done on Arthur's present income, and he was still less certain than ever that it could be regarded as cumulative or even permanent. Rose understood. To her country-bred mind it was marvellous that Arthur should succeed in adding up so many figures during the course of a day, even though the result did not always meet with the approval of the bank authorities. They would have to wait.

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.The Doctor dropped his cigarette on the plate before him and grasped the edges of the table. His eyes were riveted upon that ghastly spectacle of transmutation.

He held his breath and turned his head slowly to the right. For a long time the sound increased only very slightly. And then, there broke upon the general stillness a series of abrupt explosions.And yet this wildly incredible being, this unspeakable travesty of all living organisms, this thing most opposite to humanity, actually breathed and conversed. He was a sentient being. He was more than man, for he could[Pg 169] be turned into something else by simply pressing a stop. Properly understood, there was no doubt that the mechanism permitted the owner of it to run up and down the evolutionary scale of species according to adjustment.But about two in the morning Harry awakened me, murmuring "Reach-hard! Reach-hard! come! our sick-train's moving. Ssh! General Austin's asleep in the next room!" I asked where Ferry was. "Already started," he whispered, "--in the General's own ambulance, with Charlotte Oliver in hers, on a mattress, like Ned, and the four Harpers in theirs." While we stole downstairs he murmured on "Our brigade's come up and General Austin will attack at daylight with this house as his headquarters."

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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.

As the car sped swiftly along, Gregg sat back with folded arms and gazed upwards at the now crystalline skies, wondering, as he had never wondered before, about that incomprehensible immensity which for centuries of successive generations man had silently respected. No authoritative voice had ever claimed to penetrate that supreme mystery. Priests had evoked the gods from that starry depth, poets had sung of the swinging hemispheres, scientists had traced comets and knew the quality of each solar earth; but still that vast arch spanned all the movements of crawling mankind, and closed him in like a basin placed over a colony of ants."Well, he's making runs, anyhow," rejoined Gregg, his eye falling upon the score-board. "At this rate we shall stand a chance after all."

"Excuse me, but you are the conjurer, aren't you?" he enquired, a trifle anxiously.

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The 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.

[Pg 127]She read on aloud how two private Federal soldiers, hospital convalescents, had come to my mother telling her of his death, and how he had named my mother over and over in his delirium, desiring that she should be given charge of the small effects on his person and that she would return them to his father in the Confederacy. My mother wrote how she had been obliged secretly to buy back from the hospital steward a carte-de-visite photograph of Charlotte, and this ring; how, Oliver not being a Federal soldier, she had been allowed to assume the expense and task of his burial; how she had found the body already wrapped and bound, in the military way, when she first saw it, but heard the two convalescents praising to each other the strong, hard-used beauty of the hidden face, and was shown the suit of brown plantation jeans we all knew so well; and how, lastly, when her overbearing conscience compelled her to tell them she might find it easier to send the relics to the wife rather than the father, they had furtively advised her to do as she pleased.

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Apr-17 02:06:45