"I wonder," said the Curate, grasping the edge of his chair, "I wonder, now, if Moses felt like this when he saw the burning bush."
"I'm afraid I put you to great inconvenience," murmured the visitor, still yawning and rolling about on the couch. "The fact is, I ought to be able to produce things¡ªbut that part of me seems to have gone wrong again. I did make a start¡ªbut it was only a flash in the pan. So sorry if I'm a nuisance."
Besides, there was Arthur Wither's story about the flapping ears and the queer conversation of the Clockwork man, his peculiar[Pg 43] jerky movements, his sudden exhibitions of uncanny efficiency contrasted with appalling lapses. Once you had grasped the idea of his mechanical origin, it was difficult to thrust the Clockwork man out of your head. He became something immensely exciting and suggestive. If Gregg's sense of humour had not been so violently tickled by the ludicrous side of the affair, he would have felt already that some great discovery was about to be revealed to the modern world. It had never occurred to him before that abnormal phenomena might be presented to human beings in the form of a sort of practical joke. Somehow, one expected this sort of thing to happen in solemn earnest and in the dead of night. But the event had taken place in broad daylight, and already there was mixed up with its queer unreality the most ridiculous tangle of purely human circumstance.
On my way back through camp with Gholson I saw old Dismukes. He called me to him, quit his cards, and led me into his tent. There, very beguilingly, he questioned me at much length, evidently seeking to draw from the web of my replies the thread of Ferry's and Charlotte's story; and as I saw that he believed in both of them with all his brutal might, I let him win a certain success. "Head laid wide open!" he said gleefully, and boiled over with happy blasphemings.
"Your description of it is quite good enough for me," rejoined the other, with emphasis, "I can see it in my mind's eye. Moreover, it was obvious to me, from the first, that there must exist some such instrument in order that the Clockwork man might be adjusted when necessary. One deduced that."
"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.
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