2021-04-17 01:22:38

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ENGLISH "Well?" enquired Mrs. Flack, as she poured him out a cup of tea, "who won?"Gregg laughed and lowered himself into an easy chair. "Superstition, after all, is a perfectly legitimate although rudimentary form of human enquiry. These good people want to believe in the Devil. At the least opportunity they evoke his satanic majesty. They[Pg 52] are quite right. They are simply using the only material in their minds in order to investigate a mystery."

"I do have ideas," he admitted, thoughtfully. "I suppose I'm really what you might call an intellectual sort of chap.""What sort of things," enquired the Doctor, slowly, as he listened to the Curate's heart. "You must make an effort to steady yourself.""Ah," said the Curate, kindly, "very likely that's what it is. The weather has been very trying. One does get these aberrations. But I do hope you will be able to struggle through the performance, for the children's sake. Dear me, how did you manage to do that?"

"But where does all this lead?" pondered the Doctor, half falling in with her mood. "Why not make some things permanent and as good as they can be?"I had the driver tie my horse behind the vehicle and resume the lines. Then the soldier's wife and I moved Charlotte, and when the reader began to handle the book again wishfully our patient said, with the kindest voice, "Read the rest of it to yourself; I know how it will end; it will end to please you, not as it ought; not as it ought."

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"What's that," Rose exclaimed, suddenly awakened. CHAPTER SIX

"I beg your pardon," said Arthur, hastily."Smith," said the Colonel, just not too full to keep up a majestic frown, "want to saddle my horse and yours?" and very soon we were off to meet the tardy bridegroom. The October sunshine was fiery, but the road led us through our old camp-ground for two or three shady miles before it forked to the right to cross the Natchez Trace, and to the left on its way to union Springs, and at the fork we halted. "Smith, I reckon we'd best go back." I mentioned his bruises and the torrid sun-glare before us, but he cursed both with equal contempt; "No, but I must go back; I--I've left a--oh, I must go back to wet my whistle!""All this is obvious," said the Doctor, "I have seen enough to convince me of that."

"But didn't the other people object?" said Arthur."Can I do anything for you?" he enquired, almost in a whisper. Suddenly, the strange figure seemed to achieve a sort of mastery of himself. He began opening and shutting his mouth very rapidly, to the accompaniment of sharp clicking noises.

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When the dogs came at the Squire's call I breathed relief. Ferry appeared behind me and beckoned me deeper into the grove. He sank upon a stump, whispering "That was worse than ten fights."Old Gallatin is no more. I would not mention without reverence the perishing of a town however small, though no charm of antiquity, of art or of nature were lost in its dissolution. Yet it suits my fancy that old Gallatin has perished. Neither war nor famine, flood nor fever were the death of it; the railroad and Hazlehurst sapped its life. Some years ago, on a business trip for our company--not cavalry, insurance,--I went several miles out of my way to see the spot. Not a timber, not a brick, of the old county-seat remained. Where the court-house had stood on its square, the early summer sun drew tonic odor from a field of corn. In place of the tavern a cotton-field was ablush with blossoms. Shops and houses had utterly vanished; a solitary "store," as transient as a toadstool, stood at the cross-roads peddling calico and molasses, shoes and snuff. But that was the only discord, and by turning my back on it I easily called up the long past scene: the wedding, the feast, the fiery punch, the General's toast to the bridal pair, and the heavy-eyed Colonel's bumper to their posterity! It was hardly drunk when a courier brought word that the enemy were across Big Black, and the brigade pressing north to meet them. Charlotte glided away to her room to be "back in a moment"; into their saddles went the General, the Colonel, the Major and the aide-de-camp, and thundered off across the bridge in the woods; Charlotte came back in riding-habit, and here was my horse with her saddle on him, and the Harpers and Mrs. Wall clasping and kissing her; and now her foot was in Ferry's hand and up she sprang to her seat, he vaulted to his, and away they galloped side by side, he for the uttermost front of reconnoissance and assault, she for the slow but successful uplifting of Sergeant Jim back to health and into his place in the train of our hero and hers. In the little leather-curtained wagon, with the old black man and his daughter, and all her mistress's small belongings, and with my saddle and bridle, I followed on to the house where lay the sergeant, and where my horse would be waiting to bear me on to Ferry's scouts.Arthur remained in stupefied silence. He did not know what to make of these antics. The Clockwork man looked at him, and seemed to be trying hard to remould his features into a new expression, faintly benevolent. Apparently, however, it was a tremendous effort for him to move any part of[Pg 18] his face; and any change that took place merely made him look rather like a caricature of himself.

The Clockwork man lifted a hand to his face, and with great difficulty lodged a finger reflectively against his nose. "Nineteen hundred and twenty-three," he repeated, "that's interesting. Very interesting, indeed. Not that I have any use for time, you know."LVII A YES AND A NO

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Apr-17 01:22:38