"Indeed, no," retorted Mrs. Masters, "it wouldn't be my place to give such messages. Not as though she weren't inquisitive enough[Pg 117]—with asking questions about this and that. As though it were any business of 'ers 'ow you choose to arrange your house'old."The Clockwork man looked vaguely distressed. "Theoretically," he agreed, "what you say is correct. I can conceive it as a mathematical problem. But actually, you know, it isn't at all obvious." 人也 [Pg 19] "If everybody was to start 'itting like that," pronounced Samuel Bynes, a local expert, "there wouldn't be no sense in cricket. It ain't in the game." And he spat decisively as though to emphasise his opinion that such proficiency should be deplored rather than commended. The Clockwork man shook his head. "We have houses, but they are not full of things like yours are, and we don't live in them. They are simply places where we go when we take ourselves to pieces or overhaul ourselves. They are—" his mouth opened very wide, "the nearest approach to fixed objects that we have, and we regard them as jumping-off places for successive excursions into various dimensions. Streets are of course unnecessary, since the only object of a street is to lead from one place to another, and we do that sort of thing in other ways. Again, our houses are[Pg 146] not placed together in the absurd fashion of yours. They are anywhere and everywhere, and nowhere and nowhen. For instance, I live in the day before yesterday and my friend in the day after to-morrow."
"It makes everything go faster," observed the Clockwork man, "and more accurately." 拖进 Rose Lomas came slowly over the top of the hill. She was hatless, and her short, curly hair blew about her face, for a slight breeze had sprung up in the wake of the sunset. She wore a navy blue jacket over a white muslin blouse with a deep V at the breast. There was a fair stretch of plump leg, stockinged in black cashmere, between the edge of her dark skirt and the beginning of the tall boots that had taken so long to button up. She walked with her chin tilted upwards and her eyes half closed, and her hands were thrust into the slanting pockets of her jacket. "Wait," said the Clockwork man, without altering his position, "moment of lucidity—see things as they are—begin to understand—[Pg 89]finite world—only one thing at a time. Now we've got it—a place for everything and everything in its place." "If you will come with me to my surgery," the Doctor suggested, with as much calmness as he could assume, "I'll do my best for you."
"Ah, very likely," rejoined the Doctor, glad of the opportunity to enforce his analogy. "There's not the least doubt that many so-called miracles in the past had their origin in some pathological condition improperly understood at the time. Moses probably suffered from some sort of hysteria—a sort of hypnosis. Even in those days there was the problem of nervous breakdown." 尽的 Gregg placed a hand soothingly upon his friend's shoulder. "Why didn't you send for me before? You're over-strung. This experience has been too much for you." He lifted his arms up and dropped them again sharply. 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.
In vain the Doctor tried to throw off his heavy reflections and assume the air of gaiety usual to him when drinking his coffee and thinking of Lilian. Such an oppression could hardly be ascribed to the malady of love. It was not Romeo's "heavy lightness, serious vanity." It was a deep perplexity, a grave foreboding that something had gone hideously wrong with him, something that he was unable to diagnose. It could not be that he was growing old. As a medical man he knew his age to an artery. And yet, in spite of his physical culture and rather deliberate chastity, he felt suddenly that he was not a fit companion for this young girl with her resilient mind. He had always been fastidious about morals, without being exactly moral, but there was something within him that he did not care to contemplate. It almost seemed as though the sins of the mind were more deadly than those of the flesh, for the latter expressed themselves in action and re-action, while the former remained in the mind, there to poison and corrupt the very source of all activity. 发抖 He jerked his head slowly round and gazed at the surrounding objects. "It's such an[Pg 79] extraordinary world. I can't get used to it at all. One keeps on bumping into things and falling into things—things that ought not to be there, you know." "But how could he have come from the future?" He broke off and struggled with some queer kind of mechanical emotion. "And now they play games with us. They wind us up and make us do all sorts of things, just for fun. They try all sorts of experiments with us, and we can't help ourselves because we're in their power; and if they like they can stop the clock, and then we aren't anything at all."”
There were one or two other details which the Doctor had not failed to observe. 块是 Gregg swung round and sat on the couch. He lit a cigarette. He made no effort to conceal his sense of superior self-possession. The doctor took the cigarette that was proffered to him, and leaning forward tried to take a light from his companion. But his hand shook so violently that he could not manage the simple operation. In the end Gregg lit another match and held it with a steady hand. Allingham got up and stood behind Gregg at the window. The latter raised his head a little as though to catch any words that might float across from the babel of excited voices opposite. But there was nothing clearly distinguishable. "Whoever 'e be," said Mr. Flack, referring to the strange visitor to Great Wymering, "I should judge 'im to be a bit of a masterpiece."”