But the Clockwork man made no reply. He stood in the middle of the stage and slowly[Pg 96] lifted a finger to his nose. The Curate's doubts returned. Something seemed to occur to him as he examined his companion more closely. "You haven't been taking anything, my good man, have you? Anything of an alcholic nature?"
By the end of another five minutes the Doctor had sacrificed all scruple. His fingers played over that human keyboard with a recklessness that was born of sheer horror of his own actions. He almost fancied that he might suddenly arrive at some kind of mastery of the stunning instrument. He alternated[Pg 166] between that delusion and trusting blindly to chance. It was indeed by accident that he discovered and pressed hard home a large stop marked simply O.
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"Perhaps I ought to explain," he continued. "You see, I'm a clockwork man."
"You wouldn't believe some of the things we can do. The clock is a most wonderful invention! And the economy. Some of the hands, you see, can be used for quite different purposes. Twist them so many times and you have a politician; twist a little more and you have a financier. Press one stop slightly and we talk about the divinity of man; press harder and there will issue from us nothing but blasphemy. Tighten a screw and we are altruists; loosen it and we are beasts. You see, generations ago it was known exactly the best and worst that man could be; and the makers like to amuse themselves by going over it again. There isn't any best or worst with them.".
"I saw nothing," she said, between her teeth. "And you saw nothing. It was some trick of the imagination. There is nobody in yonder house. When I took this place a year ago so that I could be near--what am I talking about? I have been working too hard at my pleasures lately; I shall have to take a rest."?
"Does Ned say when he will start?" asked the Colonel, and Charlotte, reading again, said the sergeant, at the time of the writing, was not expected to live an hour. Whereupon the word went through town that Ferry was on his way to us.!
"No," said he, to some further question of the corporal; "I'm to wait here for the command."
"Not if they're spent for you, Captain."
5. The Clockwork man should now sit up and take a little nourishment. This should be supplied at once in the form of two green tabloids (solids) and one blue capsule (liquids). Stop C should now be pressed, and the pressure maintained until a red light appears within the bulb X. 1. This registers that digestion has taken place.