- Software name: appdown
- Software type: Microsoft Framwork
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When the Doctor found him, he appeared to be about six weeks old, and rapidly growing smaller and smaller."Why, eh,--Lieutenant, I don't believe there's a braver man in Grant's army than that one a-straddle of my horse to-day! Why, just the way he got him, night before last,--you've heard that, haven't you?"
Keeling thought for half a minute, drumming with his fingers on the table."Well--like that; and she says if she comes out all right she will leave us; yes, for the hospital service."
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 regard that statement of his as highly significant," resumed Gregg, after a slight pause. "For, of course, if the Clockwork man really is, as suggested, a semi-mechanical being, then he could only have come from the future. So far as I am aware, the present has not yet evolved sufficiently even to consider seriously the possibility of introducing mechanical reinforcements into the human body, although there has been tentative speculation on the subject. We are thousands of years away from such a proposition; on the other[Pg 54] hand, there is no reason why it should not have already happened outside of our limited knowledge of futurity. It has often occurred to me that the drift of scientific progress is slowly but surely leading us in the direction of some such solution of physiological difficulties. The human organism shows signs of breaking down under the strain of an increasingly complex civilisation. There may be a limit to our power of adaptability, and in that case humanity will have to decide whether it will alter its present mode of living or find instead some means of supplementing the normal functions of the body. Perhaps that has, as I suggest, already happened; it depends entirely upon which road humanity has taken. If the mechanical side of civilisation has developed at its present rate, I see no reason why the man of the future should not have found means to ensure his efficiency by mechanical means applied to his natural functions."
They had only a day to wait, as the regular steamer for Tien-tsin was advertised to leave on the afternoon following their return. She was not so large and comfortable as the one that had carried them to Han-kow and back; but she was far better than no steamer at all, and they did not hesitate a moment at taking passage in her. They found that she had a Chinese crew, with foreign officersthe same as they had found the river-boat and the steamers from Japan. The captain was an American, who had spent twenty years in China, and knew all the peculiarities of the navigation of its waters. He had passed through two or three shipwrecks and been chased by pirates. Once he was in the hands of the rebels, who led him out for execution; but their attention was diverted by an attack on the town where they were, and he was left to take care of himself, which you can be sure he did. Another time he saved himself by crawling through a small window and letting himself fall about ten feet into a river. The night was dark, and he did not know where to go; but he thought it better to take the chance of an escape in this way, as he felt sure he would have his head taken off the next morning if he remained. Luckily he floated down to where a foreign ship was lying, and managed to be taken on board. He thought he had had quite enough of that sort of thing, and was willing to lead a quiet life for the rest of his[Pg 353] days.