时间：<2020-06-04 06:38:25 作者：f6胡歌发文感恩粉丝nYT 浏览量：9777
It could be proved beyond a shadow of doubt, and by reference to all known laws of anatomy, that he did not exist."Was there a loud noise?" asked Gregg.
Arthur dimly comprehended this. "No children," he hazarded."I'm afraid your explanation won't hold water," he rejoined. "I can't bring myself not to believe in what I saw. You see, all my life I have been trying to believe in miracles, in manifestations. I have always said that if only we could bring ourselves to accept what is not obvious. My best sermons have been upon[Pg 129] that subject: of the desirability of getting ourselves into the receptive state. Sometimes the Vicar has objected. He seemed to think I was piling it on deliberately. But I assure you, Doctor Allingham, that I have always wanted to believe—and, in this case, it was only my infirmity and my unfortunate nervousness that led me to lose such an opportunity."When the Doctor found him, he appeared to be about six weeks old, and rapidly growing smaller and smaller.
But there was no accounting for the activities of the Clockwork man. At a distance of about a yard from the barrier his whole body took off from the ground, and he literally floated in space over the obstacle. It was not jumping; it was more like flying. He landed lightly upon his feet, without the least difficulty; and, before the onlookers could recover from their amazement, this extraordinary personage had shot like a catapult, straight up the path along which he had travelled so precariously half an hour before. In a few seconds his diminutive figure passed into the horizon, leaving a faint trail of dust and the dying echo of that appalling noise.He rescued his trousers from underneath the mattress. It was only recently that he had discovered this obvious substitute for a trouser press, and so added one more nuisance to existence. It was something else to be remembered. He grinned pleasantly at the thought of the circumstance which had brought about these careful habits. Rose Lomas liked him to look smart, and he had managed it somehow. There were plenty of dapper youths in Great Wymering, and Arthur had been astute enough to notice wherein he had differed from them, in the first stages of his courting. Early rebuffs had led him to perceive that the[Pg 69] eye of love rests primarily upon a promising exterior, and only afterwards discovers the interior qualities that justify a wise choice. Arthur had been spurned at first on account of a slovenliness that, to do him justice, was rather the result of personal conviction, however erring, than mere carelessness. He really had felt that it was a waste of life even to spend half an hour a month inside a barber's shop. Not only that, but the experience was far-reaching in its unpleasant consequences. You went into the shop feeling agreeably familiar with yourself, conscious of intense personality; and you came out a nonentity, smelling of bay-rum. The barber succeeded in transforming you from an individual brimming over with original reflections and impulses into a stranger without a distinctive notion in your head. The barber, in fact, was a Delilah in trousers; he ravished the locks from your head and bewitched you into the bargain.He looked directly at Arthur. "And dreaming," he added. "We dream, you know."
It would require a mathematical diagram to describe the incident with absolute accuracy. The Curate, of course, had heard nothing about the Clockwork man's other performances; he had scarcely heeded the hints thrown out about the possibility of movement in other dimensions. It seemed to him, in the uncertain light of their surroundings, that the Clockwork man's right arm gradually disappeared into space. There was no arm there at all. Afterwards, he remembered a brief moment when the arm had begun to grow vague and transparent; it was moving very rapidly, in some direction, neither up nor down, nor this way or that, but along some shadowy plane. Then it went into nothing, evaporated from view. And just as suddenly, it swung back into the plane of the curate's vision, and the hand at the end of it grasped a silk hat."But are you the conjurer?" asked the Curate, coming back.Arthur heard a slight noise somewhere round the back of the cottage. "Someone coming," he warned.
"Sometimes. Chaps people don't understand. That's because they like beauty more than anything else, and not many people really care about beauty. They only think of it when they see a sunset or look at pictures. If you can forget beauty, then you're alright. Nobody thinks you're strange. You don't have any difficulties.""Oh, I won't admit that," rejoined Gregg, cheerfully, "we must acknowledge that what we saw this afternoon was entirely abnormal. Even when we were talking to him I had a strong feeling come over me that our interrogator was not a normal human being. I don't mean simply his behaviour. His clothes were an odd sort of colour and shape. And did you notice his boots? Curious, dull-looking things. As though they were made out of some kind of metal. And then, the hat and wig?""Of course, I'm only a sort of amateur," Arthur continued, modestly. "But I do like books, and I can generally get at what a chap's driving at—in a way."
"I see—curious, only one lamp-post, though. In my country they grow like trees, you know—whole forests of them—galaxy of lights—necessary—illuminate multiform world."[Pg 67]At that moment Mrs. Masters, the doctor's elderly housekeeper, entered the room in order to clear away the tea things. She was a country woman, given to talking without reserve, except when the doctor's eye fell upon her, as it did upon this occasion. But for once she[Pg 50] evaded this check to her natural proclivities; she was not going to be cheated out of her share in the local gossip. She placed the tray on the table and made the visitor an excuse for her loquacity.
Here, however, the discussion came to an abrupt conclusion, for something was happening to the Clockwork man."Oh, I won't admit that," rejoined Gregg, cheerfully, "we must acknowledge that what we saw this afternoon was entirely abnormal. Even when we were talking to him I had a strong feeling come over me that our interrogator was not a normal human being. I don't mean simply his behaviour. His clothes were an odd sort of colour and shape. And did you notice his boots? Curious, dull-looking things. As though they were made out of some kind of metal. And then, the hat and wig?"
"He—he—goes by machinery, sir. He's a clockwork man."IIIndeed, it was hardly to be expected that he would remain there for very long. As Gregg pointed out, such very delicate mechanism needed constant attention, and the unexpected was always likely to occur. There must have been some deeply-rooted automatism that gradually released the Clockwork man from his sleep; and having awakened, the grimy walls of the cellar no doubt struck him as distasteful. It was not to be expected that the Doctor, in his hurry and panic, should have succeeded in mastering the intricacies of the clock. He had merely brought about a[Pg 192] temporary quiescence which had gradually worked off. It had to be borne in mind, also, that although the Clockwork man was dependent upon adjustment in order that he should be made to work in a right fashion, it was only too plain that he could act independently and quite wrongly.
It was just as Doctor Allingham had congratulated himself upon the fact that the bowling was broken, and that he had only to hit now and save the trouble of running, just as he was scanning the boundaries with one eye and with the other following Tanner's short, crooked arm raised high above the white sheet at the back of the opposite wicket, that he noticed the strange figure. Its abrupt appearance, at first sight like a scare-crow dumped suddenly on the horizon, caused him to lessen his grip upon the bat in his hand. His mind wandered for just that fatal moment, and his vision of the on-coming bowler was swept away and its place taken by that arresting figure of a man coming over the path at the top of the hill, a man whose attitude, on closer examination, seemed extraordinarily like another man in the act of bowling.He offered no further information. For a long while Arthur was puzzled by the movements that followed this last remark. Apparently the Clockwork man desired to change his tactics; he did not wish to prolong the conversation. But, in his effort to move away, he was obviously hampered by the fact that his hand still rested upon Arthur's shoulder. He did not seem to be able to bend his arm in a natural fashion. Instead, he kept on making a half-right movement of his body, with the result that every time he so moved he was[Pg 20] stopped by the impingement of his hand against Arthur's neck. At last he solved the problem. He took a quick step backwards, nearly losing his balance in the process, and cleared his arm, which he then lowered in the usual fashion. Then he turned sharply to the left, considered for a moment, and waddled away. There was no other term, in Arthur's estimation, to describe his peculiar gait. He took no stride; he simply lifted one foot up and then the other, and then placed them down again slightly ahead of their former positions. His body swayed from side to side in tune with his strange walk. After he had progressed a few yards he turned to the right, with a smart movement, and looked approximately in Arthur's direction. His mouth opened and shut very rapidly, and there floated across the intervening space some vague and very unsatisfactory human noise, obviously intended as an expression of leave-taking. Then he turned to the left again, with the same drill-like action, and waddled along."I see," said Allingham, slowly, "it is because you are, so to speak, temporarily incapacitated, that you are able to come down to the level of our world."
"I must be getting back," said the Clockwork man to himself, as he trundled slowly over the hump of the meadow and approached the stile. "I shall only make a muddle of things here.""Stop," cried the Doctor, and there was almost anger in his features as he leapt to his feet. "It is you who are raving now. How can there exist such a world? And what plight has overtaken the human race, that it is now dependent upon mechanical contrivance for its actions! But, no. I refuse to believe that the Clockwork man represents the final destiny of man. He is a myth, a caricature, at the most a sort of experiment. This multiform world of which he talks so glibly is an extravagant boast. Besides, who would care to live in such a world, and with every action conditioned by an exact mechanism? Your optimism about this extraordinary affair amazes me even more than the thing itself. At the best what it means is that man has come to final ruin, not that he has achieved any real mastery of life. If all the creatures in the world eight thousand years[Pg 181] hence are indeed clockwork men, then it is because some monstrous tyranny has come to birth in the race of man; it is because some diabolical plan has been evolved to make all men slaves. The clock may make man independent of time and space, but it obviously condemns him to an eternity of slavery. That is why I am still loath to believe in the evidence of my own eyes. That is why any explanation of this phenomenon is better than the obvious one!""I don't know what I shall do, I'm sure," Arthur heard him say, as though to himself.