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      She stopped for a moment, smiling at him through her tears.


      "It was not until the fifty-ninth century," continued the Clockwork man, speaking with a just perceptible click, "that man became a conjurer in real life. We have here an instance of the complete turning over of human ideas. Ancient man conjured for amusement; modern man conjures as a matter of course. Since the[Pg 99] invention of the clock and all that its action implies, including the discovery of at least three new dimensions, or fields of action, man's simplest act of an utilitarian nature may be regarded as a sort of conjuring trick. Certainly our forefathers, if they could see us as we are now constituted, would regard them as such"


      And then saying to Alice, I think you and my slippers have met before! That was fun, was it not? I saw you enjoyed that, Thomas, and{309} when you are pleased, Im sure the joke is good enough for anybody. I wish I had asked Lord and Lady Inverbroom to dine to-night. They would have enjoyed it too, though perhaps he would feel a little shy of meeting you after that snub you gave him and his Club in taking their premises away from them.

      "Well, I'll answer it. Do you think Jewett has run back into his own lines?"

      [1] Coil.


      Alice did not pursue the subject, and since there was now no chance of Mr Silverdales coming in again, she put on her spectacles, which enabled her to see the lines of the pomegranate foliage with far greater distinctness. Never before had she had so vivid an interest in life as during these last two months; indeed the greater part of the female section of the congregation at St Thomass had experienced a similar quickening of their emotions, and a livelier iris burnished up the doves of the villas in Alfred Road. The iris in question, of course, was the effect of the personality of Cuthbert Silverdale, and if he was not, as he averred, being spoiled, the blame did not lie with his parishioners. They had discovered, as he no doubt meant them to do, that a soldier-saint had come among them, a missioner, a crusader, and they vied with each other in adoring and decorative obedience, making banners and embroideries for his church (for he allowed neither slippers nor neckties for himself) and in flocking to his discourses, and working under his guidance in the parish. There had been frantic discussions and quarrels over rites and doctrines; households had{107} been divided among themselves, and, as at The Cedars, sections of families had left St Thomass altogether and attached themselves to places of simpler ceremonial. The Bishop had been appealed to on the subject of lights, with the effect that the halo of a martyr had encircled Mr Silverdales head, without any of the inconveniences that generally attach to martyrdom, since the Bishop had not felt himself called upon to take any steps in the matter. Even a protesting round-robin, rather sparsely attested, had been sent him, in counterblast to which Alice Keeling with other enthusiastic young ladies had forwarded within a couple of days a far more voluminously signed document, quoting the prayer-book of Edward VI. in support of their pastor, according to their pastors interpretation of it at his Wednesday lectures on the history of the English Church.The batsman at the other end was a stout, rather plethoric individual. He missed the first two balls, and the third struck him full in the stomach. There was a sympathetic pause whilst Mr. Bumpus, who was well known and respected in the town, rubbed this rather prominent part of his anatomy to the accompaniment of fish-like gaspings and excusable ejaculations. Mr. Bumpus was middle-aged and bald as well as corpulent, and although he did his best to endure the mishap with sportsman-like stoicism, the dismay written upon his perspiring features was certainly an excitant to mirth. Some of the fielders turned their heads for a few moments as though to spare themselves a difficult ordeal; but on the whole there was discreet silence.

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      We listened again. "They've gone the wrong way," I said, still savage.

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      Never mind that."Smith, if you interrupt me again, sir, you'll find the road back to your regiment. Opposite that blacksmith's shop you'll see a white cottage. There's a young lady stopping there to-night, a stranger, a traveller. The old lady who lives there has taken her in at my request. See that the young lady gets this envelope. It's no great matter, merely a pass through our lines; but it's your ostensible business till you get there; understand?"

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      "There they are!" said the corporal and I at the same moment, when we had been but a few minutes on the Plank-road. Two men were ahead of us riding abreast, and a few rods in front of them was a third horseman, apparently alone. Two others had pushed on, one to the house, the other for surgical aid. The two in the rear knew us and let us come up unchallenged; the corporal stayed with them, and I rode on to my leader's side.


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