"It's only me," remarked the Clockwork man, suddenly looming into palpable form again. "Don't be afraid. I must apologise for my eccentric behaviour. I tried an experiment. I thought I could get back. You said I was to go home, you know. But I can't get far." His voice shook a little. It jangled like a badly struck chord. "I'm a poor, maimed creature. You must make allowances for me. My clock won't work properly.""But it must be somewhere," objected Arthur, "that's obvious." 路到 "What! You believe it then? You, who have not seen this mystery—you believe it?" 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." A comfortable world! Of course, there were malcontents. When the shoe pinched, anybody would cry out for fire from heaven. But if a plebiscite were to be taken, it would be found that an overwhelming majority would be in favour of a world without miracles. If, for example, it could be demonstrated that this Clockwork man was a being in many ways superior to the rest of mankind, he would be hounded out of existence by a jealous and conservative humanity.
The game restarted. Tanner, who had by this time taken eight wickets for just under a hundred runs, put down a slow, tricky one. Everybody agreed, in discussing the matter afterwards, that the Clockwork man never shifted his position or moved a muscle until the ball pitched, slightly to the off. Nobody seems to have seen exactly what happened, but there was a sudden ear-piercing crack and a swoop of dust. 这些 "You mean—" began Mrs. Masters, and then eyed him with the meaning expression of a woman scenting danger or happiness for some other woman. "That young lady is not suited to you, at all events," she continued, shaking her head. "Who are you?" he demanded, after a preliminary click or two. "Dreaming like," suggested his companion.
"We are creatures of action," hazarded the Doctor, with the air of a man embarking upon a long mental voyage, "we act from certain motives. There is a principle known as Cause and Effect. Everything is related. Every action has its equal and opposite re-action. Nobody can do anything, or even think anything, without producing some change, however slight, in the general flow of things. Every movement that we make, almost every thought that passes through our minds, starts another ripple upon the surface of time, upon this endless stream of cause and effect." 横在 "Oh, am I? Do you think so? I'm so glad—I'm so sorry." "Pretty middling," said Mrs. Masters, reluctantly, "although at first I was put out by her manners. Such airs these modern young women give themselves. But she got round me in the end with her pretty ways, and I found myself taking 'er all round the 'ouse, which of course I ought not to 'ave done without your permission." "Yes, yes, I can follow all that," said Allingham, biting his moustache, "but let's talk sense."
CHAPTER THREE 理伤 "Hark," said Arthur, clutching her tightly. "Be quiet—I want to listen for something." "You and your thoughts!" ”
He broke off, for at that moment a car drew up in front of the window, and the burly form of Inspector Grey stepped down in company with two constables and a lad of about fifteen, whom both Gregg and the doctor recognised as an inhabitant of the neighbouring village of Bapchurch. 日子 "None," said the Clockwork man, and the word was boomed out on a hollow, brassy note. "We are made, you see. For us creation is finished. We can only improve ourselves very slowly, but we shall never quite escape the body of this death. We've only ourselves to blame. The makers gave us our chance. They are beings of infinite patience and forbearance. But they saw that we were determined to go on as we were, and so they devised this means of giving us our wish.[Pg 210] You see, Life was a Vale of Tears, and men grew tired of the long journey. The makers said that if we persevered we should come to the end and know joys earth has not seen. But we could not wait, and we lost faith. It seemed to us that if we could do away with death and disease, with change and decay, then all our troubles would be over. So they did that for us, and we've stopped the same as we were, except that time and space no longer hinder us." It was fortunate, perhaps, that the Great Wymering people took their cricket rather seriously. Otherwise, they might have felt, as Doctor Allingham already felt, that there was something impossible about the Clockwork man's performance. He had walked out to the wicket amidst comparative indifference. His peculiar gait might easily have been attributed to sheer nervousness, and his appearance, without flannels, provoked only a slight degree of merriment. When he arrived at the wicket he paused and examined the stumps with great attention, as though wondering what they were for; and it was quite a little while before he arranged himself in the correct attitude before them. He remained standing still, holding the bat awkwardly in the air, and no amount of persuasion on the part of the umpire could induce him to take centre or place his bat to the ground in the recognised fashion. He offered no explanation for his eccentric behaviour, and the fact simply had to be accepted. He looked out of the window, and there was that confounded figure still jigging about. It had come nearer to the ground. It hovered, with a curious air of not being related to its surroundings that was more than puzzling. It did not seem to know what it was about, but hopped along aimlessly, as though scenting a track, stopped for a moment, blundered forward again and made a zig-zag course towards the ground. The doctor watched it advancing[Pg 6] through the broad meadow that bounded the pitch, threading its way between the little groups of grazing cows, that raised their heads with more than their ordinary, slow persistency, as though startled by some noise. The figure seemed to be aiming for the barrier of hurdles that surrounded the pitch, but whether its desire was for cricket or merely to reach some kind of goal, whether it sought recreation or a mere pause from its restless convulsions, it was difficult to tell. Finally, it fell against the fence and hung there, two hands crooked over the hurdle and its legs drawn together at the knees. It became suddenly very still—so still that it was hard to believe that it had ever moved.”