Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Prijavi me trajno:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:

ConQUIZtador
banner
Trenutno vreme je: 28. Nov 2021, 12:31:04
nazadnapred
Korisnici koji su trenutno na forumu 0 članova i 1 gost pregledaju ovu temu.

Ovo je forum u kome se postavljaju tekstovi i pesme nasih omiljenih pisaca.
Pre nego sto postavite neki sadrzaj obavezno proverite da li postoji tema sa tim piscem.

Idi dole
Stranice:
1 2 4 5 ... 22
Počni novu temu Nova anketa Odgovor Štampaj Dodaj temu u favorite Pogledajte svoje poruke u temi
Tema: William Gibson ~ Vilijam Gibson  (Pročitano 49810 puta)
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
   "I do love Engines," Tobias said. "Not these great lummox monsters, but the cleverer, aesthetic ones. I wanted to learn clacking."
   "Why aren't you in school, then?"
   "Can't afford it, sir. The family doesn't approve."
   "Did you try the National Merit Exams?"
   "No scholarship for me—I failed the calculus." Tobias looked sullen. "I'm no scientist, anyway. It's art that I live for. Kinotropy!"
   "Theatre work, eh? They say it's in the blood."
   "I spend every spare shilling on spinning-time," the boy said. "We have a little club of enthusiasts. The Palladium rents its kinotrope to us, during the wee hours. You see quite amazing things, sometimes, along with a deal of amateur drivel."
   "Fascinating," Mallory said. "I hear that, er…" He had to struggle to recall the man's name. "I hear that John Keats is quite good."
   "He's old," the boy said, with a ruthless shrug. "You should see Sandys. Or Hughes. Or Etty! And there's a clacker from Manchester whose work is quite splendid—Michael Radley. I saw a show of his here in London, last winter. A lecture tour, with an American."
   "Kinotrope lectures can be very improving."
   "Oh, the speaker was a crooked Yankee politician. If I had my way, they'd throw the speaker out entirely, and run silent pictures."
   Mallory let the conversation lapse. Tobias squirmed a bit, wanting to speak again and not quite daring to take that liberty, and then the bell rang. The boy was up like a shot, with a scratchy skid of his worthless shoes, and back with another set of fan-fold paper.
   "Red-heads," he said, and smiled sheepishly.
   Mallory grunted. He studied the women with close attention. They were fallen women, ruined women, with the sodden look of fall and ruin marked indelibly in the little black picture-bits of their printed femininity. Unlike the men, the female faces somehow leapt to life for Mallory. Here a round-faced Cockney creature, with a look more savage than a Cheyenne squaw. There a sweet-eyed Irish girl whose lantern jaw had surely embittered her life. There a street-walker with rat's-nest hair and the blear of gin. There, defiance; here, tight-lipped insolence; there, a frozen cajoling look from an Englishwoman with her nape pinched for too long in the daguerreotype's neck-brace.
   The eyes, with their calculated plea of injured innocence, held him with a shock of recognition. Mallory tapped the paper, looking up. "Here she is!"
   Tobias started. "That's rum, sir! Let me take that number." He punched the citizen-number into a fresh card with a small mahogany switch-press, then fed the card through the wall-tray again. He carefully emptied the bits of punched-out paper into a hinge-topped basket.
   "This will tell me all about her, will it?" Mallory said. He reached inside his jacket for his notebook.
   "Mostly, sir. A printed summary."
   "And may I take these documents away with me for study?"
   "No, sir, strictly speaking, as you're not an officer of the law… " Tobias lowered his voice. "Truth to tell, sir, you could pay a common magistrate, or even his clerk, and have this intelligence for a few shillings, under the rose. Once you've someone's number, the rest is simple enough. It's a common clacker trick, to read the Engine-files on someone of the criminal class—they call it 'pulling his string,' or being 'up on a cake.' "
   Mallory found this news of remarkable interest. "Suppose I asked for my own file?" he said.
   "Well, sir, you're a gentleman, not a criminal. You're not in the common police-files. Your magistrates, and court-clerks and such, would have to fill out forms, and show good cause for the search. Which we don't grant easily."
   "Legal protocols, eh?" Mallory said.
   "No, sir, it's no law that stops us, but the simple trouble of it. Such a search consumes Engine-time and money, and we're always over budget in both. But if an M.R made that request, or a Lordship…"
   "Suppose I had a good friend here in the Bureau," Mallory said. "Someone who admired me for my generous ways."
   Tobias looked reluctant, and a bit coy. "It ain't a simple matter, sir. Every spinning-run is registered, and each request must have a sponsor. What we did today is done in Mr. Wakefield's name, so there'll be no trouble in that. But your friend would have to forge some sponsor's name, and run the risk of that imposture. It is fraud, sir. An Engine-fraud, like credit-theft or stock-fraud, and punished just the same, when it's found out."
   "Very enlightening," Mallory said. "I've found that one always profits by talking to a technical man who truly knows his business. Let me give you my card."
   Mallory extracted one of his Maull & Polyblank cartes-de-visite from his pocket-book. Folding a five-pound note, he pinched it against the back of his card and passed it over. It was a handsome sum. A deliberate investment.
   Tobias dug about beneath his apron, found a greasy leather wallet, stuffed in Mallory's card and money, and extracted a dog-eared bit of shiny pasteboard. J. J. TOBIAS, ESQ. , the card said, in grotesquely elaborate Engine-Gothic. KINOTROPY, AND THEATRE COLLECTIBLES. There was a Whitechapel address. "Never mind that telegraph number at the bottom," Tobias told him. "I had to stop renting it."
   "Have you any interest in French kinotropy, Mr. Tobias?" Mallory said.
   "Oh, yes, sir," nodded Tobias. "Some lovely material is coming out of Montmartre these days."
   "I understand the best French ordinateurs employ a special gauge of card."
   "The Napoleon gauge," Tobias said readily. "Smaller cards of an artificial substance, which move very swiftly in the compilers. That speed is quite handy in kino-work."
   "Do you know where a fellow might rent one of these French compilers, here in London?"
   "To translate data from French cards, sir?"
   "Yes," Mallory said, feigning an only casual interest. "I expect to receive some data from a French colleague, involving a scientific controversy—rather abstruse, but still a matter of some scholarly confidentiality. I prefer to examine it privately, at my own convenience."
   "Yes, sir," Tobias said. "That is to say, I do know a fellow with a French compiler, and he'd let you do whatever you like with it, if the pay were right. Last year, there was quite a mode in London clacking-circles for the French standard. But sentiment has turned quite against it, what with the troubles of the Grand Napoleon."
   "Really," Mallory said.
   Tobias nodded, delighted to show his authority. "I believe it's felt now, sir, that the French were far ahead of themselves with their vast Napoleon project, and made something of a technical misstep!"
   Mallory stroked his beard. "That wouldn't be British professional envy talking, I hope."
   "Not at all, sir! It's common knowledge that the Grand Napoleon suffered some dire mishap early this year," Tobias assured him, "and the great Engine has never spun quite properly since." He lowered his voice. "Some claim sabotage! Do you know that French term, sabotage" Comes from 'sabots,' the wooden shoes worn by French workers. They can kick an Engine half off its blocks!" Tobias grinned at this prospect, with a glee that rather disquieted Mallory. "The French have Luddite troubles of a sort, you see, sir, much as we once did, years ago!"
   Two short notes were sounded on a steam-whistle, reverberating through the white-washed ceiling. The two studious gentlemen, who had been joined by an equally studious third, now closed their albums and left.
   The bell rang once more, summoning Tobias to the wall-tray. The boy rose slowly, straightened a chair, wandered down the length of the table, examined the albums for nonexistent dust, and shelved them. "I think that's our answer waiting," Mallory said.
   Tobias nodded shortly, his back to Mallory. "Very likely, sir, but I'm on overtime, see. Those two blasts on the horn… "
   Mallory rose impatiently and strode to the tray.
   "No, no," Tobias yelped, "not without gloves! Pray let me do it!"
   "Gloves, indeed! Who's to know?"
   "Criminal Anthropometry, that's who! This is their room, and nothing they hate worse than the smudges from bare fingers!" Tobias turned with a sheaf of documents. "Well, sir, our suspect is one Florence Bartlett, nee Russell, late of Liverpool… "
   "Thank you, Tobias," Mallory said, creasing the sheaf of fan-fold so as to slip it more easily into his Ada-Checkered waistcoat. "I do appreciate your help."

   One arctic Wyoming morning, the frost thick on the brown and beaten prairie-grass, Mallory had crouched beside the tepid boiler of the expedition's steam-fortress, prodding at its meager buffalo-dung fire, trying to thaw an iron-hard strip of the jerked beef that the men ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At that moment of utter misery, his beard rimed with frozen breath and his shovel-blistered fingers frost-bitten, Mallory had sworn a solemn oath that he would never again curse the summer heat.
   But never had he expected so vile a swelter in London.
   The night had passed without a breath of wind, and his bed had seemed a fetid stew. He'd slept atop the sheets, a drenched Turkish towel spread across his nakedness, and had risen every hour to dampen the towel again. Now the mattress was soaked and the whole room seemed as hot and close as a greenhouse. It stank of stale tobacco as well, for Mallory had smoked half-a-dozen of his fine Havanas over the criminal record of Florence Russell Bartlett, which dealt primarily with the murder of her husband, a prominent Liverpool cotton-merchant, in the spring of 1853.
   The modus operandi had been poisoning by arsenic, which Mrs. Bartlett had extracted from fly-paper and administered over a period of weeks in a patent medicine. Dr. Gove's Hydropathic Strengthener. Mallory, from his nights down Haymarket, knew that Dr. Cove's was in fact a patent aphrodisiac, but the file made no mention of this fact. The fatal illness in 1852 of Bartlett's mother, and of her husband's brother in 1851, were also recorded, their respective certificates of death citing perforated ulcer and cholera morbus. These purported illnesses featured symptoms very like those of arsenic poisoning. Never formally accused of these other deaths, Mrs. Bartlett had escaped custody, overpowering her jailer with a concealed derringer.
   The Central Statistics Bureau suspected her of having fled to France, Mallory assumed, because someone had appended translations of French police-reports of 1854 dealing with a crime passionel trial in the Paris assizes. One "Florence Murphy," abortionist, purportedly an American refugee, was arrested and tried for the crime of vitriolage, the flinging of sulphuric acid with intent to disfigure or maim. The victim, Marie Lemoine, wife of a prominent Lyons silk-merchant, was an apparent rival.
   But "Mrs. Murphy" had vanished from custody, and from all subsequent French police-records, during the first week of her trial as a vitrioleuse.
   Mallory sponged his face, neck, and armpits in tap-water, thinking bleakly of vitriol.
   He was perspiring freely again as he laced his shoes. Leaving his room, he discovered that the city's queer summer had overwhelmed the Palace. Sullen humidity simmered over the marble floors like an invisible swamp. The very palms at the foot of the stairs seemed Jurassic. He trudged to the Palace's dining-room, where four cold hard-boiled eggs, iced coffee, a kippered herring, some broiled tomato, a bit of ham, and a chilled melon somewhat restored him. The food here was rather good, though the kipper had smelled a bit off—small wonder, in heat like this. Mallory signed the chit, and left to fetch his mail.
   He had been unjust to the kipper. Outside the dining room, the Palace itself stank: bad fish, or something much like it. There was a soapy perfume in the front lobby, left from the morning's mopping, but the air was heavy with the humid distant reek of something dreadful, and apparently long-dead. Mallory knew he had smelled that reek before—it was sharp, like acid, mixed with the greasy stench of a slaughterhouse—but he could not place the memory. In a moment the stink was gone again. He stepped to the desk for his mail. The wilted clerk greeted him with a show of courtesy; Mallory had won the staff's loyalty with generous tips. "Nothing in my box?" said Mallory, surprised.
   "Too small. Dr. Mallory." The clerk bent to lift a large woven-wire basket, crammed to the brim with envelopes, magazines, and packages.
   " 'Struth!" Mallory said. "It gets worse every day!"
   The clerk nodded knowingly. "The price of fame, sir."
   Mallory was overwhelmed. "I suppose I shall have to read through all of this… "
   "If I may be so bold, sir, I think you might do well to engage a private secretary."
   Mallory grunted. He had a loathing of secretaries, valets, butlers, chambermaids, the whole squalid business of service. His own mother had been in service once, with a wealthy family in Sussex, in the old days before the Rads. The fact rankled.
   He carried the heavy basket into a quiet corner of the library and began to sort through it. Magazines first: the gold-spined 'Transactions of the Royal Society', 'Herpetology of All Nations', 'Journal of Dynamickal Systematics', 'Annales Scientifiques de l'Ecole des Ordinateurs', with what seemed to be an interesting article on the mechanical miseries of the Grand Napoleon… This business of the scholarly subscriptions had been a faggot-above-a-load, though he supposed it kept the editors happy, happy editors being half the key to placing one's own articles.
   Then the letters. Swiftly, Mallory divided them into piles. Begging-letters first. He had made the mistake of answering a few, that had seemed especially tearful and sincere, and now the scheming rascals had swarmed upon him like lice.
   A second pile of business-letters. Invitations to speak, requests for interviews, bills from shopmen, Catastrophist bone-men and rock-hounds offering co-authorship of learned papers.
   Then the letters in feminine hand. The broody-hens of natural history—"flower-snippers," Huxley called them. They wrote in their scores and dozens, most merely to request his autograph, and, if he so pleased, a signed carte-de-visite. Others would send him coy sketches of common lizards, requesting his expertise in reptile taxonomy. Others would express a delicate admiration, perhaps accompanied with verses, and invite him to tea if he was ever in Sheffield, or Nottingham, or Brighton. And some few, often marked by spiky handwriting, triple underlining!!!, and ribboned locks of hair, would express a warm womanly admiration, and this in terms so bold as to be quite disconcerting. There had been a remarkable flurry of these after his fancy portrait had appeared in 'The Englishwoman's Domestic Weekly'.
   Mallory stopped suddenly. He had almost flung aside a letter from his sister Ruth. Dear little Ruthie—but of course the baby of the family was a good seventeen years old now. He opened the letter at once.


   DEAR NED,

   I write to you at Mother's dictation as her hands are quite bad today. Father thanks you very much for the splendid lap-rug from London. The French liniment has helped my hands (Mother's) very nicely thow more in the knees than the hands. We all miss you much in Lewes thow we know you are busy on yr great affairs of the Royal Society! We read aloud each of yr American adventures as they are written by Mr. Disraeli in Family Museum. Agatha asks will you please please get her Mr. Disraeli's autograph as her favorite novel is his "Tancred"! But our great news is that our dear Brian is back from Bombay, safely with us this very day June 17! And he has brought with him our dear brother-to-be Lt. Jerry Rawlings, also of the Sussex Artillery, who asked our Madeline to wait for him and of course she did. Now they are to be married, and Mother wants you to know particularly that it will NOT be in a Church but a civil seremony with the J.R Mr. Witherspoon in Lewes City Hall. Will you attend June 29 as Father gives away almost his last bride—I did not want to write that but Mother made me.

   All our Love,


RUTH MALLORY (Miss)
   So—Little Madeline, with her man at last. Poor creature, four years was a long engagement, more worrisome still when betrothed to a soldier in a tropical pest-hole like India. She had taken his ring at eighteen, and was now all of twenty-two. A long engagement was a cruel thing to ask of a young and lively girl, and Mallory had seen, in his last visit, that the ordeal had sharpened Madeline's tongue and temper, and made her almost a trial to the household. Soon there would be no one left at home to look after the old folks but little Ruthie. And when Ruth married—well, he would consider that matter in due time. Mallory rubbed his sweating beard. Madeline had had life harder than Ernestina, or Agatha, or Dorothy. She should have something fine for herself, Mallory resolved. A wedding-gift that would prove that she had put an end to her unhappy time.
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
  Mallory took the letter-basket to his room, piled the mail on the floor beside his overflowing bureau, and left the Palace, dropping the basket at the desk on his way out.
   A group of Quakers, men and women, stood on the pavement outside the Palace. They were droning another of their intolerable sermonizing ditties, something about a "railway to Heaven," by the sound of it. The song did not seem to have much to do with Evolution, or blasphemy, or fossils; but perhaps the sheer monotony of their bootless protests had exhausted even the Quakers. He hurried past them, ignoring their proffered pamphlets. It was hot, uncommon hot, beastly hot. There was not a ray of sun, but the air was mortally still and the high cloudy sky had a leaden, glowering look, as if it wanted to rain but had forgotten the trick of it.
   Mallory walked down Gloucester Road to the corner of Cromwell. There was a fine new equestrian statue of Cromwell at the intersection; Cromwell was a great favorite of the Rads. And there were 'buses too, six an hour, but they were all crammed to the gunwales. No one wanted to walk in weather like this.
   Mallory tried the Gloucester Road underground, by the corner of Ashburn Mews. As he prepared to descend the stairs a thin crowd came up at a half-run, fleeing a reek of such virulence that it stopped him in his tracks.
   Londoners were used to odd smells from their under-grounds, but this stench was clearly of another order entirely. Compared to the sullen heat of the streets, the air was chill, but it had a deathly scent, like something gone rotten in a sealed glass jar. Mallory went to the ticket-office; it was closed, with a sign up saying WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE. No mention of the actual nature of the problem.
   Mallory turned. There were horse-drawn cabs at Bailey's Hotel, across Courtfield Road. He prepared to cross the street, but then noticed a cab waiting quite near him at the curb, apparently idle. Signaling the driver, he went to the door. There was a passenger still inside the cab. Mallory waited politely for the man to debark. Instead, the stranger, seeming to resent Mallory's gaze, pressed a kerchief to his face and half-sunk below the level of the window. He began coughing. Perhaps the man was ill, or had just come up from the underground and not yet caught his breath.
   Annoyed, Mallory crossed the street and engaged a cab at Bailey's. "Piccadilly," he ordered. The driver clicked to his sweating nag and they rolled east up Cromwell Road. Once under-way, with a faint breeze at the window, the heat became less oppressive and Mallory's spirits rose. Cromwell Road, Thurloe Place, Brompton Road—in their vast rebuilding schemes, the Government had reserved these sections of Kensington and Brompton to a vast concourse of Museums and Royal Society Palaces. One by one they passed his window in their sober majesty of cupolas and colonnades: Physics, Economics, Chemistry… One might complain of some Radical innovations, Mallory mused, but there was no denying the sense and justice of fine headquarters for scholars engaged in the noblest work of mankind. Surely, in their aid to Science, the Palaces had repaid the lavish cost of their construction at least a dozen times.
   Up Knightsbridge and past Hyde Park Corner to the Napoleon Arch, a gift from Louis Napoleon to commemorate the Anglo-French Entente. "The great iron arch, with its lavish skeleton of struts and bolting, supported a large population of winged cupids and draperied ladies with torches. A handsome monument, Mallory thought, and in the latest taste. Its elegant solidity seemed to deny that there had ever been a trace of discord between Great Britain and her staunchest ally, Imperial France. Perhaps, thought Mallory wryly, the "misunderstandings" of the Napoleonic Wars could be blamed on the tyrant Wellington.
   Though London possessed no monuments to the Duke of Wellington, it sometimes seemed to Mallory that unspoken memories of the man still haunted the city, an unlaid ghost. Once, the great victor of Waterloo had been exalted here, as the very saviour of the British nation; Wellington had been ennobled, and had held the highest office in the land. But in modern England he was vilified as a swaggering brute, a second King John, the butcher of his own restless people. The Rads had never forgotten their hatred for their early and formidable enemy. A full generation had passed since Wellington's death, but Prime Minister Byron still often spattered the Duke's memory with the acid of his formidable eloquence.
   Mallory, though a loyal Radical Party man, was unconvinced by mere rhetorical abuse. He privately entertained his own opinion of the long-dead tyrant. On his first trip to London at the age of six, Mallory had once seen the Duke of Wellington—passing in his gilded carriage in the street, with a clopping, jingling escort of armed cavalry. And the boy Mallory had been vastly impressed—not simply by that famous hook-nosed face, high-collared and whiskered, groomed and stem and silent—but by his own father's awe-struck mix of fear and pleasure at the Duke's passage.
   Some faint tang of that childhood visit to London—in 1831, the first year of the Time of Troubles, the last of England's old regime—still clung to Mallory whenever he saw the capital. Some few months later, in Lewes, his father had cheered wildly when news came of Wellington's death in a bomb atrocity. But Mallory had secretly wept, stirred to bitter sorrow for a reason he could not now recall.
   His seasoned judgment saw the Duke of Wellington as the outmoded, ignorant victim of an upheaval beyond his comprehension; more Charles the First than King John. Wellington had foolishly championed the interests of declining and decadent Tory blue-bloods, a class destined to be swept from power by the rising middle-class and the savant meritocrats. But Wellington himself had been no blue-blood; he had once been plain Arthur Wellesley, of rather modest Irish origin.
   Further, it seemed to Mallory that as a soldier, Wellington had displayed a very praiseworthy mastery of his craft. It was only as a civil politician, and a reactionary Prime Minister, that Wellington had so thoroughly misjudged the revolutionary tenor of the coming age of industry and science. He had paid for that lack of vision with his honor, his power, and his very life.
   And the England that Wellington had known and misruled, the England of Mallory's childhood, had slid through strikes, manifestos, and demonstrations, to riots, martial law, massacres, open class-warfare, and near-total anarchy. Only the Industrial Radical Party, with their boldly rational vision of a comprehensive new order, had saved England from the abyss.
   But even so, Mallory thought. Even so, there should be a monument somewhere…
   The cabriolet rolled up Piccadilly, passing Down Street, Whitehorse Street, Half-Moon Street. Mallory thumbed through his address-book, and found Laurence Oliphant's carte-de-visite. Oliphant lived on Half-Moon Street. Mallory had half a mind to stop the cab and see if Oliphant were at home. If, unlike most posh courtiers, Oliphant perhaps rose before ten, he might have something like a bucket of ice in his household and perhaps a drop of something to open the pores. The thought of boldly interrupting Oliphant's day, and perhaps surprising him at some covert intrigue, was a pleasant one to Mallory.
   But first things first. Perhaps he would try Oliphant when his errand was done.
   Mallory stopped the cab at the entrance to the Burlington Arcade. The gigantic iron-framed ziggurat of Fortnum & Mason lurked across the street, amid an array of jewelers and exclusive shops. The cabbie severely overcharged him, but Mallory took no notice, being in an expansive mood. It seemed the cabbies were imposing on everyone. Some small distance down Piccadilly, another man had leapt from his cab and was arguing, in a vulgar fashion, with his driver.
   Mallory had found nothing to equal shopping in its gratifying demonstration of the power of his new-found wealth. He had won his money through an act of half-mad bravado, but the secret of its origin was safe with him. London's credit-machines clicked for the vaporous profits of gambling as readily as they did for the widow's mite.
   So what was it to be? This giant iron vase, with octagonal base, with eight open-work screens hanging before its fluted pedestal, giving a singular lightness and elegance to the entire object? This carved box-wood bracket with sculpted canopy, the intended mounting of a Venetian-glass thermometer? This ebony salt-cellar enriched with columns and elaborate sunken panels, accompanied by a silver salt-spoon rich with trefoils, oak-leaves, a spiral-girded stem, and the monogram of one's choice?
   Within J. Walker & Co., a small but marvelously tasteful establishment amid the bay-windowed shops of the famed Arcade, Mallory discovered a gift that seemed to him perfectly apt. It was an eight-day clock which struck the quarters and hours on fine cathedral-tone bells. The timepiece, which also displayed the date, the day of the week, and the phases of the moon, was an outstanding piece of British precision craftsmanship, though naturally the elegant clock-stand would claim more admiration from the mechanically undiscerning. The stand, of the finest lacquered papier-mache inlaid with turquoise-blue glass, was surmounted by a group of large gilt figures. These represented a young and decidedly attractive Britannia, very lightly robed, admiring the progress made by Time and Science in the civilization and happiness of the people of Britain. This laudable theme was additionally illustrated by a series of seven graven scenes, revolving weekly on hidden gear-work within the clock's base.
   The price was nothing less than fourteen guineas. It seemed that an item of this artistic rarity could not be denominated in simple pounds-shillings-and-pence. The crass pragmatic thought struck Mallory that the happy couple might be better served with a jingling handful of fourteen guineas. But the money would soon go, as money always did when one was young. A fine clock like this one might adorn one's home for generations.
   Mallory bought the clock with cash, refusing the offer of credit, with a year to pay. The clerk, a supercilious elderly man, sweating into a starched Regency collar, demonstrated the system of cork chocks that secured the gear-work from the exigencies of travel. The clock was provided with a latched and handled case, lined with form-fitting cork under burgundy velvet.
   Mallory knew he could never wedge his prize into a crowded steam-bus. He would have to hire another cabriolet, and lash the clock-case to its roof. A bothersome proposition, London being haunted by the young thieves known as "dragsmen," monkey-like rascals who leapt with saw-tooth dirks onto the roofs of passing carriages, to cut the leather straps securing luggage. By the time the cab pulled to a stop, the thieves would have scampered scot-free into the depths of some evil rookery, passing their swag from hand to hand until the private contents of the victim's valise ended up in a dozen rag-and-bone shops.
   Mallory lugged his purchase through the far gate of the Burlington Arcade, where the constable on guard gave him a cheery salute. Outside, in Burlington Gardens, a young man in a dented hat and shabby, greasy coat, who had been sitting apparently much at his ease on the rim of a cement planter, rose suddenly to his feet.
   The shabby young man limped toward Mallory, his shoulders slumped in theatrical despair. He touched the brim of his hat, essayed a pathetic smile, and began to speak to Mallory, all in one breath. "I ask your pardon sir but if you would excuse the liberty of being so addressed in the public street by one who is almost reduced to rags though it has not always been so and by no fault of my own but through ill health in my family and many unmerited sufferings it would be a great obligation sir to know the time."
   The time? Could this man somehow know that Mallory had just purchased a large clock? But the shabby man paid no attention to Mallory's sudden confusion, for he continued on eagerly, in the same insinuating monotone.
   "Sir it is not begging that is my intention for I was brought up by the best of mothers and begging is not my trade I should not know how to follow such a trade if such were my shameful wish for I would sooner die of deprivation but sir I implore you in the name of charity to allow me the honor of acting as your porter to carry that case that burdens you for whatever price that your humanity may put upon my services—"
   The shabby man broke off short. He looked, wide-eyed, over Mallory's shoulder, his mouth assuming a sudden tight-clamped, pinchy look, like a seamstress biting off a thread. The shabby man took three careful steps backward, slowly, keeping Mallory between himself and whatever it was that he saw. And then he turned directly on his flapping, newspaper-stuffed heels and walked swiftly away, without any limp, into the crowded sidewalks of Cork Street.
   Mallory turned at once and looked behind him. There was a tall, long-shanked, slender man behind him, with a button-nose and long side-whiskers, in a short Albert coat and plain trousers. Even as Mallory's gaze caught him, the man raised a handkerchief to his face. He coughed, in a gentlemanly way, then he dabbed at his eyes a bit. Then he seemed, with a sudden theatrical start, to have recalled something he had forgotten. He turned away, and began to wander back toward the Burlington Arcade. He had not once looked straight at Mallory.
   Mallory himself took a sudden pretended interest in the clasps of his clock-case. He set his case down, bent, and looked at the bits of shiny brass with his mind racing and a chill in his spine. The rascal's handkerchief trick had given him away. Mallory recognized him now as the man he had seen by the underground station in Kensington; the coughing gent, who would not give up his cab. What's more, thought Mallory, his mind hot with insight, the coughing gent was also the rude man who'd argued with the cabbie about his fare, in Piccadilly. He had followed Mallory the whole distance from Kensington. He was trailing him.
   Mallory seized his clock-case in a fierce grip and began to walk quietly down Burlington Gardens. He turned right on Old Bond Street. His nerves were tingling now, with a stalker's instinct. He had been a fool to turn and stare at first. Perhaps he had given himself away to his pursuer. Mallory did not turn and look again, but ambled along with his best pretense at leisure. He paused before a jeweler's velvet racks of cameos and bracelets and evening tiaras for Her Ladyship, and watched the street behind him, in the iron-barred shining glass.
   He saw the Coughing Gent reappear almost at once. The man hung well back for the moment, careful to keep groups of London shoppers between himself and Mallory. The Coughing Gent was perhaps thirty-five, with a bit of grey in his side-whiskers, and a dark machine-stitched Albert coat that did not look like anything remarkable. His face was that of anyone in London, perhaps a little heavier, a little colder in the eyes, with a grimmer mouth beneath the button-nose.
   Mallory took another turn, left up Bruton Street, his clock-case growing more awkward by the step. The shops here lacked conveniently angled glass. He doffed his hat to a pretty woman, and pretended to glance back at her ankles. The Coughing Gent was still with him.
   Perhaps the Coughing Gent was a confederate of the tout and his woman. A hired ruffian; a murderer, with a derringer in the pocket of that Albert coat. Or a vial of vitriol. The hair rose at the base of Mallory's skull, anticipating the sudden impact of the assassin's bullet, the wet burning splash of corrosion.
   Mallory began to walk more quickly, the case banging painfully against his leg. Into Berkeley Square, where a small steam-crane, chugging gamely between a pair of splintered plane-trees, swung a great cast-iron ball into a crumbling Georgian facade. A crowd of spectators was enjoying the sight. He joined them behind the saw-horse barricade, amid the acrid smell of ancient plaster, and sensed a moment's safety. He spied out the Coughing Gent with a sidelong glance. The fellow looked sinister enough, and anxious, having lost Mallory in the crowd for the time being. But he did not seem mad with hatred, or nerved to kill; he was glancing about among the legs of the spectators, hunting for Mallory's clock-case.
   Here was a chance to lose the rascal. Mallory made a swift break down the length of the Square, taking advantage of the cover of the trees. At the Square's far end he turned down Charles Street, lined right and left with enormous eighteenth-century houses. Lordly homes, their ornate iron-work hung with modern coats-of-arms. Behind him a sumptuous gurney emerged from its carriage-house, giving Mallory the chance to stop, and turn, and study the street.
   His gambit had failed. The Coughing Gent was mere yards behind, a bit winded perhaps and red-faced in the sullen heat, but not deceived. He was waiting for Mallory to move again, careful not to look at him. Instead, he gazed with apparent longing at the entrance of a public-house named I Am the Only Running Footman. It occurred to Mallory to double back and enter the Running Footman, where he might lose the Coughing Gent in the crowd. Or perhaps he could leap, at the last moment, onto a departing omnibus—if he could cram his precious case aboard.
   But Mallory saw little real hope in these expedients. This fellow had the firm advantage of the terrain and all the sneaking tricks of the London criminal. Mallory felt like a lumbering Wyoming bison. He trudged ahead with the heavy clock. His hand ached; he was becoming weary…
   At the foot of Queens Way, a dragline and two excavators were wreaking progressive havoc in the ruins of Shepherd Market. A hoarding surrounded the site, the boards cracked and knotholed by eager spectators. Kerchief-headed women and chaw-spitting costermongers, displaced from their customary sites, had set up a last-ditch rag-shop just outside the fence. Mallory walked down the line of ill-smelling oysters and limp vegetables. At the end of the hoarding, some accident of planning had left a narrow alleyway; dusty planks to one side, crumbled brick to the other. Rank weeds sprouted between piss-damp ancient cobbles. Mallory peered in as a bonneted crone arose from a squat, adjusting her skirts. She walked past him without a word. Mallory touched his hat.
   Heaving the case above his head, he set it gently atop the wall of mossy brick. He shored it up securely with a chunk of decayed mortar, then placed his hat beside it.
   He flattened his back against the wall of planks.
   The Coughing Gent appeared. Mallory lunged for the man, and punched him in the pit of the belly with all his strength. "The man doubled over with a spit and a wheeze, and Mallory clouted him with a short left to the side of the jaw. The man's hat flew off, and he tumbled to his knees.
   Mallory grabbed the back of the villain's Albert coat and flung him hard against the bricks. The man rebounded, sprawled headlong, and lay gasping, his whiskered face smeared with filth. Mallory snatched him up two-handed, by the throat and lapel. "Who are you!"
   "Help," the man croaked feebly, "murder!"
   Mallory dragged the man three yards down the alley. "Don't play the fool with me, you blackguard! Why are you following me? Who paid you? What's your name?"
   The man clawed desperately at Mallory's wrist. "Let me go… " His coat had flown open. Mallory glimpsed the brown leather of a shoulder-holster and reached at once for the weapon in it.
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
   It was not a gun. It came out in his hand like a long oiled snake. A truncheon, with a braided leather handle and a thick black shaft of India-rubber, flattened at the end to a swollen tip like a shoehorn's. It had a spring-steel whippiness, as if it were built around a coil of iron.
   Mallory brandished the ugly device, which felt as if it could easily break bones. The Coughing Gent cowered before him. "Answer my questions!"
   A bolt of wet lightning blasted the back of Mallory's head. His senses almost left him; he felt himself fall, but caught himself against the filthy cobblestones with arms as numb and heavy as legs of mutton. A second blow fell, but glancingly, across his shoulder. He rolled back and snarled—a thick, barking sound, a cry he had never heard from his own throat. He kicked out at his attacker, somehow caught the man's shin. The man hopped back, cursing.
   Mallory had lost the truncheon. He lurched up, scrambling, into a giddy crouch. The second man was portly and small. He wore a round derby hat, mashed down almost to his eyebrows. He stood over the outstretched legs of the Coughing Gent and made a menacing slash at Mallory with a sausage-like leather cosh.
   Blood coursed down Mallory's neck as a wave of nauseated dizziness struck. He felt he might faint at any moment, and animal instinct told him that if he fell now, he would surely be beaten to death.
   He turned and fled the alley on wobbling legs. His head seemed to rattle and squeak, as if the sutures of his skull had ruptured. Red mist swirled like oil before his eyes.
   He tottered a short way down the street, and rounded a corner, gasping. He propped himself against a wall, hands braced on his knees. A respectable man and woman passed him, and stared in vague distaste. With his nose running, his mouth clogged with nausea, he glared back at them, feebly defiant. He sensed somehow that if the bastards smelled his blood they would surely tear him down.
   Time passed. More Londoners strolled past him, with looks of indifference, curiosity, faint disapproval, thinking him drunk or sick. Mallory peered through his tears at the building across the street, at the neatly enameled cast-iron sign on its corner.
   Half-Moon Street. Half-Moon Street, where Oliphant lived.
   Mallory felt in his pocket for his field-book. It was still there, the familiar touch of its sturdy leather binding like a blessing to him. With trembling fingers, he found Oliphant's card.
   Once he had reached the address, at the far end of Half-Moon Street, he was no longer weaving on his feet. The ugly giddiness in his skull had changed to a painful throbbing.
   Oliphant lived in a Georgian mansion, divided for modern renters. The ground floor had an elaborate iron railing and a curtained bay-window commanding the peaceful vista of Green Park. It was altogether a pleasantly civilized place, entirely unsuitable for a man who was aching, stunned, and dripping blood. Mallory pounded fiercely with the elephant-headed knocker.
   A man-servant opened the door. He looked Mallory up and down. "May I help you…? Oh, my word." He turned, raised his voice to a shout. "Mr. Oliphant!"
   Mallory tottered into the entrance hall, all elegant tile and waxed wainscoting. Oliphant appeared almost at once. In spite of the hour, he was formally dressed, with the smallest of bow-ties and a chrysanthemum boutonniere.
   Oliphant seemed to grasp the situation with a single keen-eyed glance. "Bligh! Go at once to the kitchen; fetch brandy from cook. A basin of water. And some clean towels."
   Bligh, the man-servant, vanished. Oliphant stepped to the open door, glanced warily up and down the street, then shut and locked the door securely. Taking Mallory's arm, he guided him into the parlor, where Mallory lowered himself wearily on a piano-bench.
   "So you've been attacked," Oliphant said. "Set upon from behind. A cowardly ambush, by the look of it."
   "How bad is it? I can't see."
   "A blow from a blunt instrument. The skin is broken and you have a considerable bruise. It's bled rather freely, but is clotting now."
   "Is it serious?"
   "I've seen worse." Oliphant's tone was ironically cheerful. "But it's quite spoilt that handsome jacket of yours. I'm afraid."
   "They stalked me all through Piccadilly," Mallory said. "I didn't see the second one, until it was too late." He sat up suddenly. "Damn! My clock! A clock, a wedding gift. I left it in an alleyway by Shepherd Market. Those rascals will have stolen it!"
   Bligh reappeared, with towels and basin. He was shorter and older than his master, clean-shaven and thick-necked, with bulging brown eyes. His hairy wrists were thick as a collier's. He and Oliphant shared an air of easy respect, as though the man were a trusted family retainer. Oliphant dabbed a towel in the basin and stepped behind Mallory. "Be quite still, please."
   "My clock," Mallory repeated.
   Oliphant sighed. "Bligh, do you think you could see to this gentleman's mislaid property? There's a degree of danger, of course."
   "Yes, sir," Bligh said stolidly. "And the guests, sir?"
   Oliphant seemed to think it over, dabbing wetly at the back of Mallory's skull. "Why don't you take the guests with you, Bligh? I'm sure they'd enjoy the outing. Take them out the back way. Try not to create too much of a public spectacle."
   "What shall I tell them, sir?"
   "Tell them the truth, of course! Tell them that a friend of the household has been assaulted by foreign agents. But tell them they mustn't kill anyone. And if they don't find this clock of Dr. Mallory's, they mustn't think it a reflection on their abilities. Make a joke of it if you must, but don't allow them to feel they've lost prestige."
   "I understand, sir," Bligh said, and left.
   "Sorry to impose," Mallory muttered.
   "Nonsense. It's what we're here for." Oliphant offered Mallory two fingers of very good brandy, in a crystal tumbler.
   With the brandy, the dry-throated shock oozed out of Mallory, leaving him in pain, but far less numb and harried. "You were right and I was wrong," he declared. "They were stalking me like an animal! They were no common ruffians; they meant me harm. I'm sure of it."
   "Texians?"
   "Londoners. A tall cove with side-whiskers, and a little fat one in a derby hat."
   "Hirelings." Oliphant dabbled a towel in the basin. "You could do with a stitch or two, I think. Shall I summon a doctor? Or do you trust me to do it? I've done a bit of surgeon's work, in rough country."
   "So have I," Mallory said. "Pray go ahead if you think it necessary."
   He had another gulp of Oliphant's brandy while the man fetched needle and thread. Then Mallory doffed his coat, clenched his jaw, and stared at the blue floral wallpaper while Oliphant deftly pierced the torn skin and sutured it. "Not a bad job," Oliphant said, pleased. "Stay out of unwholesome effluvia and you'll likely escape without a fever."
   "All London's an effluvium today. This beastly weather… I don't trust doctors, do you? They don't know what they're talking about."
   "Unlike diplomats, or Catastrophists?" Oliphant's charming smile made it impossible for Mallory to take offense. Mallory picked his jacket from the piano-bench. Bloodstains matted its collar. "Now what? Shall I go to the police?"
   "That's your privilege, of course," Oliphant said, "though I would trust to your patriotic discretion to leave certain matters unmentioned."
   "Certain matters such as Lady Ada Byron?"
   Oliphant frowned. "To speculate wildly about the Prime Minister's daughter would. I'm afraid, be a very severe indiscretion."
   "I see. And what about my gun-running for the Royal Society's Commission on Free Trade, then? I make the unfounded assumption that the Commission's scandals differ from Lady Ada's."
   "Well," said Oliphant. "Gratifying as it would be to me personally to see your Commission's blunders publicly exposed, I fear that entire business must remain sub-rosa—in the interests of the British nation."
   "I see. What exactly is left to me to say to the police, then?"
   Oliphant smiled thinly. "That you were struck on the head by an unnamed ruffian for unknown reasons."
   "This is ridiculous," Mallory snapped. "Aren't you Government mandarins good for anything? This isn't some game of parlor charades, you know! I identified that female fiend who helped hold Lady Ada captive! Her name is—"
   "Florence Bartlett," Oliphant said. "And pray keep your voice down."
   "How did you—?" Mallory stopped. "Your friend Mr. Wakefield, is it? I suppose he watched all my business at the Statistics Bureau, and dashed off at once to tell you everything."
   "It's Wakefield's business, however tedious, to watch the business of his own blessed Engines," Oliphant said calmly. "I was expecting you to tell me, actually—now that you know that you were enticed by an authentic femme fatale. But you don't seem eager to share your information, sir."
   Mallory grunted.
   "This is no matter for the common police," Oliphant said. "I told you earlier that you should have special protection. Now, I'm afraid I must insist."
   "Bloody hell," Mallory muttered.
   "I've the very man for this assignment. Inspector Ebenezer Fraser, of the Bow Street Special Branch. The very Special Branch, so you mustn't say that too loudly; but you'll find Inspector Fraser—or Mister Fraser, as he prefers to be called in public—to be most capable, most understanding, and very discreet. I know you'll be safe in Fraser's hands—and I cannot tell you what a relief that will be to me."
   A door shut in the back of the house. There were footsteps, scrapings and clinkings, strange voices. Then Bligh reappeared.
   "My clock!" Mallory cried. "Thank heaven!"
   "We found it atop a wall, with a bit of brick propping it up, rather hidden away," Bligh said, setting down the case. "Scarcely a scratch on it. I surmise the ruffians cached it there, for later looting, sir."
   Oliphant nodded, with an arched eyebrow at Mallory. "Fine work, Bligh."
   "And then there was this, sir." Bligh produced a trampled topper.
   "It's that rascal's," Mallory declared. The Coughing Gent's crushed hat had been liberally soaked in a puddle of stale piss, though no one saw fit to mention this unspeakable fact.
   "Sorry to miss your own hat, sir," Bligh said. "Likely stolen by some street-arab."
   Oliphant, with the faintest wince of involuntary distaste, examined the mined topper, turning it over and inverting the lining. "No maker's mark."
   Mallory glanced at it. "Engine-made. From Moses & Son, I should say. About two years old."
   "Well." Oliphant blinked. "I presume that evidence rules out any foreigner. A London veteran, surely. A user of cheap macassar oil, but a man of enough cranial capacity to have a certain cunning. Put it in the rubbish, Bligh."
   "Yes, sir." Bligh left.
   Mallory patted the clock-case with deep satisfaction. "Your man Bligh has done me a great service. Do you think he would object to a gratuity?"
   "Most decidedly," Oliphant said.
   Mallory felt the gaffe. He gritted his teeth. "What about these guests of yours? Might I be permitted to thank them?"
   Oliphant smiled with abandon. "Why not!"
   He led Mallory into the dining room. The mahogany legs had been detached from Oliphant's dining-table, and the great polished surface now sat on its corners of carven gingerbread, mere inches above the floor. Five Asian men sat about it, in cross-legged alien dignity: five sober men in their stocking feet, wearing tailored evening-suits from Savile Row. All the men sported tall silk toppers, tugged low over their clippered heads. Their hair was very short and very dark.
   And a woman was with them as well, kneeling at the table's foot. She had a look of mask-like composure and a silky black wealth of hair. She was wrapped in some voluminous native garb, bright with swallows and maple-leaves.
   "Doctor Edward Mallory san o goshokai shimasu," Oliphant said. The men rose with peculiar grace; rocking back a bit, sliding one foot beneath them, and coming up quite suddenly to a supple-legged stance, as if they were ballet dancers.
   "These gentlemen are in the service of His Imperial Majesty the Mikado of Japan," Oliphant said. "This is Mr. Matsuki Koan, Mr. Mori Arinori, Mr. Fusukawa Yukichi, Mr. Kanaye Nagasawa, Mr. Hisanobu Sameshima." The men bowed from the hips, each in turn.
   Oliphant had made no attempt to introduce the woman; she sat with expressionless rigidity, as if secretly resenting the gaze of an Englishman. Mallory thought it wise not to mention the matter, or pay her much attention. Instead, he turned to Oliphant. "Japanese, are they? You speak the lingo, do you?"
   "A diplomatic smattering."
   "Would you please thank them for so gallantly fetching my clock, then?"
   "We understand you. Dr. Marori," said one of the Japanese. Mallory had immediately forgotten their impossible names, but thought that this one might be called Yukichi. "It is honor to us to assist British friend of Mr. Laurence Oliphant, to whom our sovereign has expressed obligation." Mr. Yukichi bowed again.
   Mallory was utterly at sea. "Thank you for that courteous speech, sir. You're a very well-spoken gentleman, I must say. I'm not a diplomat myself, but I do thank you sincerely. Very kind of all of you… "
   The Japanese conferred among themselves. "We hope you are not badly hurt by barbaric assault on your British person by foreigners," said Mr. Yukichi.
   "No," Mallory said.
   "We did not see your enemy, nor any rude or violent person." Mr. Yukichi's tone was mild, but his glinting eyes left Mallory little doubt as to what Yukichi and his friends would have done had they met such a ruffian. As a group, the five Japanese had a refined, scholarly air; two were wearing rimless spectacles, and one had a ribboned monocle and dandyish yellow gloves. But they were all young and deft and sturdy, and their toppers were perched on their heads like Viking helmets.
   Oliphant's long legs buckled suddenly beneath him, and he sat at the head of the table with a smile. Mallory sat too, his knee-caps popping loudly. The Japanese followed Oliphant's lead, quickly tucking themselves into the same positions of arid dignity. The woman had not moved so much as an inch.
   "Under the circumstances," Oliphant mused, "dreadful hot day, a tiring foray after enemies of the realm—a small libation is in order." He lifted a brass bell from the table and rang it. "So, let's get friendly, eh? Nani o onomi ni narimasa ka?"
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
   The Japanese conferred, their eyes widening, with happy nods and sharp grunts of approval. "Uisuki…"
   "Whiskey, an excellent choice," said Oliphant.
   Bligh arrived momentarily, with a trolley of liquor bottles. "We're low on ice, sir."
   "What's that, Bligh?"
   "Iceman wouldn't sell cook but a bit. Price has trebled since last week!"
   "Well, ice wouldn't fit into the doll's bottle, anyway," said Oliphant lightly, just as if that remark made sense. "Now, Dr. Mallory, pay close heed. Mr. Matsuki Koan, who happens to hail from the very advanced province of Satsuma, was just demonstrating to us one of the marvels of Japanese craft—who was the craftsman again, Mr. Matsuki?"
   "She is made by sons of Hosokawa family," said Mr. Matsuki, bowing in place. "Our lord—Satsuma daimyo—is patron."
   "I believe Mr. Matsuki will do the honors, Bligh," said Oliphant. Bligh handed Mr. Matsuki a whiskey bottle; Mr. Matsuki began to decant it into an elegant ceramic jug, at the right hand of the Japanese woman. She made no response. Mallory began to wonder if she were ill, or paralyzed. Then Mr. Matsuki fitted the little jug into her right hand with a sharp wooden click. He rose, and fetched a gilded crank-handle. He stuck the device into the small of her back and began to twist it, his face expressionless. A high-pitched coiling sound emerged from the woman's innards.
   "She's a dummy!" Mallory blurted.
   "More a marionette, actually," Oliphant said. "The proper term is 'automaton,' I believe."
   Mallory drew a breath. "I see! Like one of those Jacquot-Droz toys, or Vaucanson's famous duck, eh?" He laughed. It was now obvious at a glance that the mask-like face, half-shrouded by the elegant black hair, was in fact carved and painted wood. "That blow must have addled my brains. Heaven, what a marvel."
   "Every hair in her wig put in by hand," Oliphant said. "She's a royal gift, for Her Britannic Majesty. Though I imagine the Prince Consort, and especially young Alfred, might take quite a fancy to her as well."
   The automaton began pouring drinks. There was a hinge within her robed elbow, and a second in her wrist; she poured whiskey with a gentle slither of cables and a muted wooden clicking. "She moves much like an Engine-guided Maudsley lathe," Mallory noted. "Is that where they got the plans?"
   "No, she's entirely native," said Oliphant. Mr. Matsuki was passing little ceramic cups of whiskey down the table. "Not a bit of metal in her—all bamboo, and braided horsehair, and whalebone springs. The Japanese have known how to make such dolls for many years—karakuri, they call them."
   Mallory sipped his whiskey. Scotch single-malt. He was already a bit squiffed from Oliphant's brandy—now the sight of the doll made him feel as if he had blundered into a Christmas pantomine. "Does she walk?" he asked. "Play the flute perhaps? Or any of that business?"
   "No, she simply pours," said Oliphant. "With either hand, though."
   Mallory felt the eyes of the Japanese fixed on him. It was clear that the doll was no particular marvel to them. They wanted to know what he, a Briton, thought of her. They wanted to know if he was impressed.
   "She is very impressive," he blurted. "Especially so, given the primitive nature of Asia!"
   "Japan is the Britain of Asia," Oliphant said.
   "We know she is not much," said Mr. Yukichi, his eyes glinting.
   "No, she's a marvel, truly," Mallory insisted. "Why, you could charge admission."
   "We know she is not much, compared to your great British machines. It is as Mr. Oliphant says—we are your younger brothers in this world."
   "We will learn," said another Japanese, speaking for the first time. He was likely the one called Arinori. "We have great obligation to Britain! Britain opened our ports with the iron fleet. We have awaked, and learnt great lesson you have teached us. We have destroyed our Shogun and his backward bakufu. Mikado will lead us now, in great new progress age."
   "We will be allies with you," said Mr. Yukichi, nobly. "The Britain of Asia will bring civilization and enlightenment to all Asian peoples."
   "That's very laudable of you," said Mallory. "It's a bit of a hard slog, though, civilization, building an empire. Takes several centuries, you know… "
   "We learn everything from you now," said Mr. Arinori. His face was flushed; the whiskey and heat seemed to have kindled a fire in him. "We build great schools and navies, like you. In Choshu, we have an Engine! We will buy more Engines. We will build our own Engines!"
   Mallory chuckled. The queer little foreigners seemed so young, so idealistic—intelligent, and above all sincere. He felt quite sorry for them. "Well! It's a fine dream, young sir, and does you credit! But it's no simple matter. You see, we in Britain have devoted great effort to those Engines—you might well call that the central aim of our nation! Our savants have worked on Enginery for decades now. For you, in a few short years, to achieve what we have done…"
   "We will make whatever sacrifice is necessary," said Mr. Yukichi, calmly.
   "There are other ways to improve the homeland of your race," Mallory said. "But what you propose is simply impossible!"
   "We will make whatever sacrifice is necessary."
   Mallory glanced at Oliphant, who sat with a fixed smile, watching the wind-up girl filling china cups. Perhaps the faint chill in the air was only Mallory's imagination. Yet he felt he had blundered somehow.
   There was silence, broken only by the ticking automaton. Mallory got to his feet, his head pounding. "I appreciate your kindness, Mr. Oliphant. And the help of your guests, of course. But I can't stay, you know. Very pleasant here, but press of business…"
   "You're quite sure?" Oliphant asked cordially.
   "Yes."
   Oliphant lifted his voice. "Bligh! Send cook's boy to fetch Dr. Mallory a cab."

   Mallory's night passed in sodden fatigue. He woke from a confused dream, in which he argued Catastrophism with the Coughing Gent, to hear repeated knocking at his door.
   "A moment!" He flung his bare legs from bed, yawned groggily, and tenderly cradled the back of his skull. His bruise had bled a bit in the night, leaving a pinkish stain on the pillow-slip, but the swelling was down and he did not feel feverish. Likely it was the therapeutic work of Oliphant's excellent liquor.
   Pulling a nightshirt over his perspiring nudity, he wrapped himself in a dressing-gown and opened the door. The Palace concierge, an Irishman named Kelly, stood in the hall with a pair of glum-faced chars. They were equipped with mops, galvanized buckets, black rubber funnels, and a push-cart crowded with stoppered jeroboams.
   "What is the time, Kelly?"
   "Nine of the clock, sir." Kelly entered, sucking his yellow teeth. The women trundled in after him with their cart. Gaudy paper labels declared each ceramic bottle to contain "Condy's Patent Oxygenating Deodorizer, One Imp. Gallon."
   "What's all this?"
   "Manganate of soda, sir, to see to the Palace plumbing. We plan to flush every closet. Clear the Palace pipes out, straight down to the main drains."
   Mallory adjusted his robe. It embarrassed him to appear with his feet and ankles bared before the charwomen. "Kelly, it won't do a dashed bit of good if you flush your pipes straight to Hell. This is metropolitan London, in a wretched hot summer. Even the Thames stinks."
   "Have to do something, sir," Kelly said. "Our guests are complaining, most vigorously. I can't say as I blame them, sir."
   The women funneled a jug of the decoction, which was bright purple, into the bowl of Mallory's water-closet. The deodorizer emitted a piercing ammoniacal reek, far more vile in its own way than the lingering taint in his rooms. They scrubbed wearily at the porcelain, sneezing, until Kelly pulled the cistern-chain with a magisterial gesture.
   Then they left, and Mallory dressed. He checked his notebook. The afternoon's schedule was crowded, but the morning had only a single appointment. Mallory had already learned that Disraeli's tardiness made it best to allot him half the day. With luck, he might find time to take his jacket in for French cleaning, or have a barber trim the clots from his hair.
   When he went down to the dining-room, two other late breakfasters were chatting over tea. One was a cabinet-man named Belshaw, the other a museum underling whose name might be Sydenham. Mallory couldn't quite recall.
   Belshaw looked up as Mallory entered the room. Mallory nodded civilly. Belshaw gazed back at him with barely concealed astonishment. Mallory walked past the two men, taking his customary seat beneath the gilt gas chandelier. Belshaw and Sydenham began to talk in low, urgent tones.
   Mallory was nonplussed. He had never been formally introduced to Belshaw, but could the man possibly resent a simple nod? Now Sydenham, his pudgy face gone pale, was casting sidelong glances at Mallory. Mallory wondered if his fly was open. It was not. But the men's eyes goggled with apparently genuine alarm. Had his wound opened, was his hair dripping blood down his neck? It did not seem so…
   Mallory gave his breakfast order to a waiter; the servant's face, too, was wooden, as if the choice of kippers and eggs were a grave indiscretion.
   Mallory, growing steadily more confused, had a mind to confront Belshaw on the matter, and began to rehearse a little speech. But Belshaw and Sydenham rose suddenly, quitting their tea, and left the dining-room. Mallory ate his breakfast with grim deliberation, determined not to let the incident upset him.
   He went to the front desk to fetch his basket of mail. The usual desk-clerk was not on duty; taken down with a catarrh of the lungs, his replacement said. Mallory retired with his basket to his customary seat in the library. There were five of his Palace colleagues present, gathered in a corner of the room, where they were anxiously conversing. As Mallory glanced up, he thought he caught them staring at him—but this was nonsense.
   Mallory sorted through his correspondence with desultory interest, his head aching slightly and his mind already drifting. There was a tedious burden of necessary professional correspondence, and the usual tiresome freight of admiring missives and begging-letters. Perhaps the engagement of a personal secretary might in fact be unavoidable.
   Struck by an odd inspiration, Mallory wondered if young Mr. Tobias of the Central Statistics Bureau might not be just the man for this post. Perhaps an offer of alternate employment would increase the fellow's daring in the office, for there was much at the Bureau that Mallory longed to peruse. The file on Lady Ada, for instance, should such a fabulous item exist. Or the slippery Mr. Oliphant, with his ready smiles and vague assurances. Or Lord Charles Lyell, the medal-heavy savant chief of the Uniformitarian faction.
   These three worthies were likely well above his reach, Mallory thought. But he might well ferret out a bit of data on Peter Foulke: a sinister rascal whose web of underhanded intrigue was ever more manifest.
   He would have it all out somehow; Mallory felt quite sure of that, as he shuffled through his mail-basket. The whole occulted business would slowly emerge, like bones chipped from their bed of shale. He had glimpsed the closeted skeletons of the Rad elite. Now, given time and a chance to work, he would wrench the mystery whole from its stony matrix.
   His attention was caught by a most unusual packet. It was of non-standard dimensions, rather blocky and square, and it bore a colorful set of French express-stamps. The ivory-yellow envelope, astonishingly slick and stiff, was of a most unusual water-proof substance, something like isinglass. Mallory took out his Sheffield knife, selected the smallest of several blades, and worried the thing open.
   The interior bore a single French Engine-card, of the Napoleon gauge. Mallory, with growing alarm, shook the card free, onto the table-top. He did this with some difficulty, for the slick interior of the envelope was queerly damp. It was dewy with a chemical moisture, giving off an increasingly virulent stench as it was exposed to air.
   The card, a blank without holes, bore a neat block of tiny black print, all in capitals.

   TO DR. EDWARD MALLORY, PALACE OF PALEONTOLOGY, LONDON: YOU ARE IN GUILTY POSSESSION OF A PROPERTY STOLEN AT EPSOM. YOU WILL RETURN THIS PROPERTY TO US, WHOLE AND COMPLETE, FOLLOWING THE ORDERS GIVEN YOU IN THE PERSONAL NOTICES COLUMNS OF THE LONDON DAILY EXPRESS. UNTIL WE RECEIVE THIS PROPERTY, YOU WILL SUFFER A VARIETY OF DELIBERATE PUNISHMENTS, CULMINATING, IF NECESSARY, IN YOUR ENTIRE AND UTTER DESTRUCTION. EDWARD MALLORY: WE KNOW YOUR NUMBER, YOUR IDENTITY, YOUR HISTORY, AND YOUR AMBITIONS; WE ARE FULLY COGNIZANT OF YOUR EVERY WEAKNESS. RESISTANCE IS USELESS; SWIFT AND COMPLETE SUBMISSION IS YOUR ONLY HOPE. CAPTAIN SWING

   Mallory sat in astonishment, memory rushing vividly upon him. Wyoming again, a morning when he'd risen from his camp-bed to find a rattlesnake dozing in his body-heat. He had felt the serpent squirming below his back in the depths of his sleep, but had drowsily ignored it. Here now was the sudden scaly proof.
   He snatched the card up, examining it minutely. Camphorated cellulose, damp with something pungent—and the tiny black letters were beginning to fade. The flexible card had grown hot in his fingers. He dropped it at once, choking back a yelp of surprise. The card lay warping on the table-top, then began flaking into layers thinner than the finest onion-skin, while browning nastily at the edges. A feather of yellowish smoke began to rise, and Mallory realized that the thing was about to burst into flame.
   He snatched hastily within the basket, came up with the latest thick grey issue of the Quart. Jrl. Geol. Soc., and swiftly swatted the card. After two sharp blows, it came apart into a thready curling mess, half-mixed with the blistered finish of the table-top.
   Mallory slit open a begging-letter, tossed the contents out unread, and swept the ash into the envelope, with the sharp-edged spine of the geological journal. The table did not seem too badly damaged…
   "Dr. Mallory?"
   Mallory looked up, with a guilt-stricken start, into the face of a stranger. The man, a tall and clean-shaven Londoner, very plainly dressed, with a gaunt, unsmiling look, stood across the library table from Mallory, papers and a notebook in one hand.
   "A very poor specimen," Mallory said, in a sudden ecstasy of impromptu deception. "Pickled in camphor! A dreadful technique!" He folded the envelope and slid it in his pocket.
   The stranger silently offered a carte-de-visite.
   Ebenezer Fraser's card bore his name, a telegram-number, and a small embossed Seal of State. Nothing else. The other side offered a stippled portrait with the look of stone-faced gravity that seemed the man's natural expression.
   Mallory rose to offer his hand, then realized that his fingers were tainted with acid. He bowed instead, sat at once, and wiped his hand furtively on the back of his trouser-leg. The skin of thumb and forefinger felt dessicated, as if dipped in formaldehyde.
   "I hope I find you well, sir," Fraser murmured, seating himself across the table. "Recovered from yesterday's attack?"
   Mallory glanced down the length of the library. The other patrons were still clumped together at the far side of the room, and seemed very curious indeed about his antics and Fraser's sudden appearance.
   "A trifle," Mallory hedged. "Might happen to anyone, in London."
   Fraser lifted one dark eyebrow, by a fraction.
   "Sorry my mishap should cause you to take trouble, Mr. Fraser."
   "No trouble, sir." Fraser opened a leather-bound notebook and produced a reservoir-pen from within his plain, Quakerish jacket. "Some questions?"
   "Truth to tell. I'm rather pressed for time at the moment—"
   Fraser silenced him with an impassive look. "Been here three hours, sir, awaiting your convenience."
   Mallory began a fumbling apology.
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
   Fraser ignored him. "I witnessed something quite curious outside, at six o'clock this morning, sir. A young news-boy, crying to the world that Leviathan Mallory was arrested for murder."
   "Me? Edward Mallory?"
   Fraser nodded.
   "I don't understand. Why should any news-boy cry any such damnable lie?"
   "Sold a deal of his papers," Fraser said drily. "Bought one meself."
   "What on earth did this paper have to say about me?"
   "Not a word of news about any Mallory," Fraser said. "You may see for yourself." He dropped a folded newspaper on the table-top: a London Daily Express.
   Mallory set the newspaper carefully atop his basket. "Some wicked prank," he suggested, his throat dry. "The street-arabs here are nerved for anything… "
   "When I stepped out again, the little rascal had hooked it," Fraser said. "But a deal of your colleagues heard that news-boy crying his tale. Been the talk of the place all morning."
   "I see," Mallory said. "That accounts for a certain… well!" He cleared his throat.
   Fraser watched him impassively. "You'd best see this now, sir." He took a folded document from his notebook, opened it, and slid it across the polished mahogany.
   An Engine-printed daguerreotype. A dead man, full length on a slab, a bit of linen tucked about his loins. The picture had been taken in a morgue. The corpse had been knifed open from belly to sternum with a single tremendous ripping thrust. The skin of chest and legs and bulging belly was marble pale, in eerie contrast to the deeply sunburnt hands, the florid face.
   It was Francis Rudwick.
   There was a caption at the bottom of the picture. 'A Scientific Autopsy', it read. 'The "batrachian" subject is pithed and opened in a catastrophic dissection. First in a Series.'
   "God in Heaven!" Mallory said.
   "Official police morgue record," Fraser said. "Seems it fell into the hands of a mischief-maker."
   Mallory stared at it in horror-struck amazement. "What can it mean?"
   Fraser readied his pen. "What is 'batrachian,' sir?"
   "From the Greek," Mallory blurted. "Batrachos, amphibian. Frogs and toads, mostly." He struggled for words. "Once—years ago, in a debate—I said that his theories… Rudwick's geological theories, you know…"
   "I heard the story this morning, sir. It seems well-known among your colleagues." Fraser flipped pages in his notebook. "You said to Mr. Rudwick: 'The course of Evolution does not conform to the batrachian sluggishness of your intellect.' " He paused. "Fellow did look a bit froggy, didn't he, sir?"
   "It was in public debate at Cambridge," Mallory said slowly. "Our blood was up… "
   "Rudwick claimed you were 'mad as a hatter,' " Fraser mused. "Seems you took that remark very ill."
   Mallory flushed. "He had no right to say that, with his gentry airs—"
   "You were enemies."
   "Yes, but—" Mallory wiped his forehead. "You can't believe I had anything to do with this!"
   "Not by your own intention, I am sure," Fraser said. "But I believe you're a Sussex man, sir? Town called Lewes?"
   "Yes?"
   "Seems that some scores of these pictures have been mailed from the Lewes postal office."
   Mallory was stunned. "Scores of them?"
   "Mailed far and wide to your Royal Society colleagues, sir. Anonymously."
   "Christ in Heaven," Mallory said, "they mean to destroy me!"
   Fraser said nothing.
   Mallory stared at the morgue picture. Suddenly the simple human pity of the sight struck him, with terrible force. "Poor damned Rudwick! Look what they've done to him!"
   Fraser watched him politely.
   "He was one of us!" Mallory blurted, stung into angry sincerity. "He was no theorist, but a damned fine bone-digger. My God, think of his poor family!"
   Fraser made a note. "Family—must inquire into that. Very likely they've been told you murdered him."
   "But I was in Wyoming when Rudwick was killed. Everyone knows that!"
   "A wealthy man might hire the business done."
   "I'm not a wealthy man."
   Fraser said nothing.
   "I wasn't," Mallory said, "not then…"
   Fraser leafed deliberately through his notebook.
   "I won the money gambling."
   Fraser showed mild interest.
   "My colleagues have noticed how I spend it," Mallory concluded, with a chill sensation. "And wondered whence the money came. And they talk about me behind my back, eh?"
   "Envy does set tongues wagging, sir."
   Mallory felt a sudden giddy dread. Menace filled the air like a cloud of wasps. After a moment, in Fraser's tactful silence, Mallory rallied himself. He shook his head slowly, set his jaw. He would not be mazed or driven. There was work to do. There was evidence at hand. Mallory bent forward with a scowl, and studied the picture fiercely. " 'First of a series,' this says. This is a threat, Mr. Fraser. It implies similar murders to follow. 'A catastrophic dissection.' This refers to our scientific quarrel—as if he'd died because of that!"
   "Savants take their quarrels very seriously," Fraser said.
   "Can you mean to say that my colleagues believe I sent this? That I hire assassins like a Machiavel; that I am a dangerous maniac who boasts of murdering his rivals?"
   Fraser said nothing.
   "My God," Mallory said. "What am I to do?"
   "My superiors have set this case within my purview," Fraser said formally. "I must ask you to trust in my discretion, Dr. Mallory."
   "But what am I to do about the damage to my reputation? Am I to go to every man in this building, and beg his pardon, and tell him… tell him I am not some hellish ghoul?"
   "Government will not allow a prominent savant to be harassed in this manner," Fraser assured him quietly. "Tomorrow, in Bow Street, the Commissioner of Police will issue a statement to the Royal Society, declaring you a victim of malicious slander, and innocent of all suspicion in the Rudwick affair."
   Mallory rubbed his beard. "Will that help, you think?"
   "If necessary, we will issue a public statement to the daily newspapers, as well."
   "But might not such publicity arouse more suspicion against me?"
   Fraser shifted a bit in his library chair. "Dr. Mallory, my Bureau exists to destroy conspiracies. We are not without experience. We are not without our resources. We will not be trumped by some shabby clique of dark-lanternists. We mean to have the lot of these plotters, branch and root, and we will do it sooner, sir, if you are frank with me, and tell me all you know."
   Mallory sat back in his chair. "It is in my nature to be frank, Mr. Fraser. But it is a dark and scandalous story."
   "You need not fear for my sensibilities."
   Mallory looked about at the mahogany shelves, the bound journals, the leather-bound texts and outsized atlases. Suspicion hung in the air like a burning taint. After yesterday's street-assault, the Palace had seemed a welcome fortress to him, but now it felt like a badger's bolthole. "This ain't the place to tell it," Mallory muttered.
   "No, sir," Fraser agreed. "But you should go about your scientific business, same as always. Put a bold face on matters, and likely your enemies will think their stratagems failed."
   The advice seemed sound to Mallory. At the least, it was action. He rose at once to his feet. "Go about my daily business, eh? Yes, I should think so. Quite proper."
   Fraser rose as well. "I will accompany you, sir, with your permission. I trust we will put a sharp end to your troubles."
   "You might not think so, if you knew the whole damned business," Mallory grumbled.
   "Mr. Oliphant has informed me on the matter."
   "I doubt it," Mallory grunted. "He has closed his eyes to the worst of it."
   "I'm no bloody politician," Fraser remarked, in his same mild tone. "Shall we be on our way, sir?"

   Outside the Palace, the London sky was a canopy of yellow haze.
   It hung above the city in gloomy grandeur, like some storm-fleshed jellied man-o'-war. Its tentacles, the uprising filth of the city's smokestacks, twisted and fluted like candle-smoke in utter stillness, to splash against a lidded ceiling of glowering cloud. The invisible sun cast a drowned and watery light.
   Mallory studied the street around him, a London summer morning made strange by the eerie richness of the sooty amber light.
   "Mr. Fraser, you're a London man born and bred, I take it."
   "Yes, sir."
   "Have you ever seen weather like this?"
   Fraser considered, squinting at the sky. "Not since I were a lad, sir, when the coal-fogs were bad. But the Rads built taller stacks. Nowadays it blows off into the counties." He paused. "Mostly."
   Mallory considered the flat clouds, fascinated. He wished he'd spent more time on the doctrines of pneumo-dynamics. This pot-lid of static cloud displayed an unhealthy lack of natural turbulence, as though the dynamical systematics of the atmosphere had stagnated somehow. The stinking underground, the droughty, sewage-thickened Thames, and now this. "Doesn't seem as hot as yesterday," he muttered.
   "The gloom, sir."
   The streets were such a crush as only London could produce. The omnibuses and cabriolets were all taken, every intersection jammed with rattle-traps and dogcarts, with cursing drivers and panting, black-nostriled horses. Steam-gurneys chugged sluggishly by, many lowing rubber-tired freight-cars loaded with provisions. It seemed the gentry's summer exodus from London was becoming a rout. Mallory could see the sense in it.
   It was a long walk to Fleet Street, and his appointment with Disraeli. It seemed best to try the train and endure the Stink.
   But the British Brotherhood of Sappers and Miners stood on strike at the entrance to Gloucester Road Station. They had set up pickets and banners across the walk, and were heaping sandbags, like an army of occupation. A large crowd looked on, keeping good order; they did not seem annoyed by the strikers' boldness, but seemed curious, or cowed. Perhaps they were glad to see the underground shut; more likely they were simply afraid of the sand-hogs. The helmeted strikers had boiled up from their underground workings like so many muscular kobolds.
   "I don't like the look of this, Mr. Fraser."
   "No, sir."
   "Let's have a word with these fellows." Mallory crossed the street. He accosted a squat, veiny-nosed sand-hog, who was bawling at the crowd and forcing leaflets upon them. "What's the trouble here, brother sapper?"
   The sand-hog looked Mallory up and down, and grinned around an ivory toothpick. There was a large gold-plated hoop in his ear—or perhaps real gold, as the Brotherhood was a wealthy union, owning many ingenious patents. "I'll give ye the long and short of it, mister, since ye ask so civil-like. 'Tis the goddamn' bloody hare-brained pneumatic trains! We told Lord Babbage, in petition, that the bleedin' tunnels never would air proper. But some spunking bastard savant give us some fookin' nonsense lecture, and now the bastard things've gone sour as rotten piss."
   "That's a serious matter, sir."
   "Yer fookin' right it is, cove."
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
  "Do you know the name of the consulting savant?"
   The sand-hog talked the question over with a pair of his helmeted friends. "Lordship name of Jefferies."
   "I know Jefferies!" Mallory said, surprised. "He claimed that Rudwick's pterodactyl couldn't fly. Claimed he'd proven it a 'torpid gliding reptile' that couldn't flap its own wings. The rascal's an incompetent! He should be censured for fraud!"
   "Savant yerself, are ye, mister?"
   "Not one of his sort," Mallory said.
   "What about yer pal the fookin' copper here?" The sandhog tugged agitatedly at the ring in his ear. "Wouldn't be taking all this down in yer bleeding notebooks, would ye?"
   "Not at all," Mallory said with dignity. "Simply wanted to know the full truth of the matter."
   "Ye want to know the bloody truth, yer savantship, you'll crawl down there and scrape yerself a bucketful of that moldy shite off the bricks. Sewermen o' twenty years' standing are tossing their guts from the Stink."
   The sand-hog moved to confront a woman in banded crinoline. "Ye can't go down there, darlin', ain't a single train rolling in London—"
   Mallory moved on. "We haven't heard the last of this!" he muttered aloud, vaguely in Fraser's direction. "When a savant takes on industrial consultation, he needs to be sure of his facts!"
   "It's the weather," Fraser said.
   "Not at all! It's a matter of savantry ethics! I got such a call myself—fellow in Yorkshire, wants to build a glass conservatory on the pattern of Brontosaurus spine and ribs. The vault-work is fine and efficient, I told him, but the glass seals will surely leak. So, no job, and no consulting-fee—but my reputation as a scholar is upheld!" Mallory snorted on the oily air, cleared his throat, and spat into the gutter. "I can't believe that damned fool Jefferies would give Lord Babbage such poor advice."
   "Never saw any savant talk straight to a sand-hog… "
   "Then you don't know Ned Mallory! I honor any honest man who truly knows his business."
   Fraser considered this. He seemed a bit dubious, if one could judge by his leaden expression. "Dangerous working-class rioters, your sand-hogs."
   "A fine Radical union. They stood stoutly by the Party in the early days. And still do."
   "Killed a deal of police, in the Time of Troubles."
   "But those were Wellington's police," Mallory said.
   Fraser nodded somberly.
   There seemed little help for it but to walk all the way to Disraeli's. Fraser, whose long-legged, loping stride matched Mallory's with ease, was nothing loath. Retracing their steps, they entered Hyde Park, Mallory hoping for a breath of fresher air. But here the summer foliage seemed half-wilted in the oily stillness, and the greenish light beneath the boughs was extraordinary in its glum malignity.
   The sky had become a bowl of smoke, roiling and thickening. The untoward sight seemed to panic the London starlings, for a great flock of the little birds had risen over the park. Mallory watched in admiration as he walked. Rocking activity was a very elegant lesson in dynamical physics. Quite extraordinary how the systematic interaction of so many little birds could form vast elegant shapes in the air: a trapezoid, then a lopped-off pyramid, becoming a flattened crescent, then bowing up in the center like the movement of a tidal surge. There was likely a good paper in the phenomenon.
   Mallory stumbled on a tree-root. Fraser caught his arm. "Sir."
   "Yes, Mr. Fraser?"
   "Keep an eye peeled, if you would. We might perhaps be followed."
   Mallory glanced about him. It was not much use; the park was crowded and he could see no sign of the Coughing Gent or his derbied henchman.
   On Rotten Row, a small detachment of amazon cavalry—"pretty horse-breakers" they were called in the papers, this being a euphemism for well-to-do courtesans—had gathered about one of their number, thrown from her side-saddle by her chestnut gelding. Mallory and Fraser, as they came closer, saw that the beast had collapsed, and lay frothily panting in the damp grass by the side of the trail. The rider was muddied but unhurt. She was cursing London, and the filthy air, and the women who had urged her to gallop, and the man who had bought her the horse.
   Fraser politely ignored the unseemly spectacle. "Sir, in my line of work we learn to cultivate the open air. There are no doors ajar or keyholes about us at the moment. Will you inform me of your troubles, in your own plain words, as you yourself have witnessed the events?"
   Mallory tramped on silently for some moments, juggling the matter in his mind. He was tempted to trust Fraser; of all those men in authority whose aid he might have sought in his troubles this sturdy policeman alone seemed primed to boldly grapple problems at their root. Yet there was much hazard in that trust, and the risk was not to himself alone.
   "Mr. Fraser, the reputation of a very great lady is involved in this affair. Before I speak, I must have your word as a gentleman that you will not damage the lady's interests."
   Fraser walked on with a meditative air, hands clasped behind his back. "Ada Byron?" he asked at length.
   "Why, yes! Oliphant told you the truth, did he?"
   Fraser slowly shook his head. "Mr. Oliphant is very discreet. But we of Bow Street are often called upon to put the muzzle on the Byrons' family difficulties. One might almost say that we specialize in the effort."
   "But you seemed to know almost at once, Mr. Fraser! How could that be?"
   "Sad experience, sir. I know those words of yours, I know that worshipful tone—'the interests of a very great lady.' " Fraser gazed about the gloomy park, taking in the curved benches of teak and iron, crowded with open-collared men, flush-faced women fanning themselves, wilted hordes of city children gone red-eyed and peevish in the stinking heat. "Your duchesses, your countesses, they all had their fancy mansions burnt down in the Time of Troubles. Your Rad Ladyships may put on airs, but no one calls them 'great ladies' in quite that old-fashioned way, unless referring to the Queen herself, or our so-called Queen of Engines."
   He stepped carefully over the small feathered corpse of a starling, lying quite dead in the graveled path, with its wings spread and its small wrinkled claws in the air. A few yards on, the two slowed to pick their way through a score of them. "Perhaps you'd best begin at the beginning, sir. Start with the late Mr. Rudwick, and that business."
   "Very well." Mallory wiped sweat from his face. His kerchief came away dotted with specks of soot. "I am a Doctor of Paleontology. It follows that I'm a good Party man. My family is somewhat humble, but thanks to the Rads I took a doctorate, with honors. I loyally support my Government."
   "Go on," Fraser said.
   "I had two years in South America, bone-digging with Lord Loudon, but I was not a leading savant on my own account. When I was offered the chance to lead my own expedition, generously financed, I took it. And so, I later learned, did poor Francis Rudwick, for similar reasons."
   "You both took the money of the Royal Society's Commission on Free Trade."
   "Not merely their financing, but their orders, Mr. Fraser. I took fifteen men across the American frontier. We dug bones, of course, and we made a great discovery. But we also smuggled guns to the red-skins, to help them keep the Yankees at bay. We mapped routes down from Canada, taking the lay of the land in detail. If there's war between Britain and America some day…" Mallory paused. "Well, there's an almighty war in America already, is there not? We are with the southern Confederates, in all but name."
   "You had no idea that Rudwick might be in danger from these secret activities?"
   "Danger? Of course there was danger. But not at home in England… I was in Wyoming when Rudwick was killed here; I knew nothing of it, till I read of it in Canada. It was a shock to me… I fought bitterly with Rudwick over theory, and I knew he had gone to dig in Mexico, but I didn't know that he and I had the same secret. I didn't know that Rudwick was a Commission dark-lantern man; I only knew that he excelled at our profession." Mallory sighed on the foul air. His own words surprised him; he had never fully admitted these matters even to himself. "I rather envied Rudwick, I suppose. He was somewhat my elder, and he was a pupil of Buckland's."
   "Buckland?"
   "One of the greatest men of our field. He's gone now as well. But truth to tell, I didn't know Rudwick well. He was an unpleasant man, haughty and cold in his relations. He was at his best exploring overseas, at a good distance from decent society." Mallory wiped the back of his neck. "When I read of his death in a low brawl, I wasn't entirely surprised at the manner of it."
   "Do you know if Rudwick ever knew Ada Byron?"
   "No," Mallory said, surprised. "I don't know. He and I were not that highly placed in savant circles—not at Lady Ada's level, certainly! Perhaps they were introduced, but I think I should have known it had she favored him."
   "He was brilliant, you said."
   "But not galante."
   Fraser changed the subject. "Oliphant seems to believe that Rudwick was killed by the Texians."
   "I don't know about any Texians," Mallory said angrily. "Who knows anything about Texas? A damned wilderness, seas and continents away! If the Texians killed poor Rudwick, I suppose the Royal Navy should shell their ports in reprisal, or something of the sort." He shook his head. The whole foul business, which had once seemed so daring and clever to him, now seemed something inglorious and vile, little more than a low cheat. "We were fools to get involved in that Commission's work, Rudwick and I. A few rich lords, scheming in camera to harass the Yankees. The Yankee republics are already tearing at each other's throats, over slavery or provincial rights or some other damned foolishness! Rudwick died because of that, when he might be alive now, and digging up marvels. It makes me ashamed!"
   "Some might say it was your patriotic duty. That you did it for the interests of England."
   "I suppose so," Mallory said, shaking himself, "but it's a great relief to speak out on the matter, after so long a silence."
   Fraser did not seem much impressed by the story. Mallory surmised it was an old and tiresome tale to Inspector Fraser of the Special Branch, or perhaps a mere fragment of larger and more shadowy misdoings. But Fraser did not pursue the matter of politics; he confined himself to the facts of crime. "Tell me about the first attack on your own person."
   "That came at the Derby. I saw a veiled lady within a hired cab, treated dreadfully by a man and woman, whom I took to be criminals—the woman being one Florence Russell Bartlett, as I presume you know?"
   "Yes. We are searching most vigorously for Mrs. Bartlett."
   "I could not identify her male companion. But I may have overheard his name: 'Swing.' Or 'Captain Swing.' "
   Fraser seemed a touch surprised. "Did you tell that fact to Mr. Oliphant?"
   "No." Mallory, feeling himself on thin ice, said nothing more.
   "Perhaps that's just as well," Fraser said, after a thoughtful pause. "Mr. Oliphant's a bit fanciful at times, and 'Captain Swing' is quite a famous name in conspiracy; a mythical personage, much like 'Ned Ludd,' or 'General Ludd.' The Swing bands were Luddites of the countryside, years ago. Arsonists mostly, rick-burners. But in the Time of Troubles, they grew savage, and killed a deal of the landed gentry, and burned down their fine mansions."
   "Ah," said Mallory. "Do you think this fellow is a Luddite, then?"
   "There are no more Luddites," Fraser said calmly. "They're as dead as your dinosaurs. I rather suspect some mischievous antiquary. We have this fellow's description, we have our methods—when we take him, we'll quiz him on his taste in false identities."
   "Well, this fellow's certainly no rural laborer—he's some sort of Frenchified race-track dandy. When I defended the lady, he went for me with a stiletto! Nicked me in the leg. I suppose I'm lucky that the blade was not venomed."
   "Perhaps it was," Fraser said. "Most poisons are far less potent than the public supposes… "
   "Well, I knocked the rascal down, and drove them off from their victim. The tout swore twice that he would kill me. 'Destroy' me, was the word he used… Then I realized that the lady could be only Lady Ada Byron. She began to talk in a very strange manner—as if drugged, or frightened witless… She begged me to escort her to the Royal Enclosure, but as we approached the Royal Box, she escaped me by a trick—without so much as a word of thanks for my pains."
   Mallory paused, fingering the contents of his pockets. "I suppose that's the gist of the matter, sir. Shortly after, I won a good deal of money, wagered on a steam-gurney built by a friend of mine. He gave me very useful information, and it changed me in a moment from a modest scholar to a man of means." Mallory tugged his beard. "Great as that change has been, it seemed much the lesser wonder at the time."
   "I see." Fraser walked on silently. They approached Hyde Park Corner, where men stood on soap-boxes, haranguing the crowd and coughing. Fraser and Mallory fell silent as they walked among the clumped and skeptical listeners.
   They crossed the frantic crackling bustle of Knightsbridge, Mallory waiting for Fraser to speak, but the policeman said nothing. At the tall iron gates of Green Park, Fraser turned and watched the street behind them for a long moment. "We can cut short through Whitehall," he said at last. "I know a back way."
   Mallory nodded. He followed Fraser's lead.
   At Buckingham Palace, the guard was changing. The Royal Family, as was their habit, were summering in Scotland, but the elite Brigade of Guards carried out the daily ritual in the Queen's absence. The Palace troops proudly marched in the very latest and most efficient British military gear, dun-colored Crimean battle-garb, scientifically spattered to deceive the enemy eye. The clever fabric had utterly confused the Russians, by all accounts. Behind the marchers, a team of artillery horses towed a large military calliope, its merry piping and rousing drones sounding strangely forlorn and eerie in the still, foul air.
   Mallory had been waiting for Fraser to reach a conclusion. At last he could wait no longer. "Do you believe I met Ada Byron, Mr. Fraser?"
   Fraser cleared his throat, and spat discreetly. "Yes, sir, I do. I don't much like the matter, but I don't see much to marvel at in it."
   "You don't?"
   "No, sir. I believe I see the root of it, clear enough. It is gambling-trouble. Lady Ada has a Modus."
   "A Modus—what is that?"
   "It is a legend in sporting circles, Dr. Mallory. A Modus is a gambling-system, a secret trick of mathematical Enginery, to defeat the odds-makers. Every thieving clacker wants a Modus, sir. It is their philosopher's stone, a way to conjure gold from empty air!"
   "Can that be done? Is such an analysis possible?"
   "If it is possible, sir, perhaps Lady Ada Byron could do it."
   "The friend of Babbage," Mallory said. "Yes—I can believe it. Indeed I can!"
   "Well, perhaps she has a Modus, perhaps she only thinks she does," Fraser said. "I'm no mathematician, but I know there's never been any betting-system that worked worth a damn. In any case, she's blundered into something nasty again." Fraser grunted in disgust. "She's pursued that clackers' phantom for years now, and rubbed shoulders with very ugly company—sharpers, low clackers, loan-makers, and worse. She's amassed gambling-debts, to the point of open scandal!"
   Absently, Mallory hooked his thumbs within his money-belt. "Well! If Ada's truly found a Modus, she won't have debts much longer!"
   Fraser offered Mallory a look of pity for such naivete. "A true Modus would destroy the institutions of the Turf! It would wreck the livelihood of all your sporting-gents… Ever seen a track-crowd mill-up about a welsher? That's the sort of stir a Modus would bring. Your Ada may be a great blue-stocking, but she hasn't any more common sense than a housefly!"
   "She is a great savant, Mr. Fraser! A great genius. I have read her papers, and the superb mathematics…"
   " 'Lady Ada Byron, Queen of Engines,' " Fraser said, in an utterly leaden tone that had more weariness than contempt. "A strong-minded woman! Much like her mother, eh? Wears green spectacles and writes learned books… She wants to upset the universe, and play at dice with the hemispheres. Women never know when to stop… "
   Mallory smiled. "Are you a married man, Mr. Fraser?"
   "Not I," Fraser said.
   "Nor I, not yet. And Lady Ada never married. She was a bride of Science."
   "Every woman needs a man to hold her reins," Fraser said. "It's God's plan for the relations of men and women."
   Mallory scowled.
   Fraser saw his look, and thought the matter over again. "It's Evolution's adaptation for the human species," he amended.
   Mallory nodded slowly.
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
   Fraser seemed markedly reluctant to meet Benjamin Disraeli, making some brief excuse about watching the streets for spies, but Mallory thought it far more likely that Fraser knew Disraeli's reputation, and did not trust the journalist's discretion. And small wonder.
   Mallory had met many men-of-affairs in London, but "Dizzy" Disraeli was the Londoner's Londoner. Mallory did not much respect Disraeli, but he did find him amusing company. Disraeli knew, or pretended to know, all the backstage intrigues in the Commons, all the rows of publishers and learned societies, all the soirees and literary Tuesdays at Lady So-and-So's and Lady This-and-That's. He had a sly way of alluding to this knowledge that was almost magical.
   Mallory happened to know that Disraeli had in fact been blackballed at three or four gentlemen's clubs, perhaps because, although a professed and respectable agnostic, Disraeli was of Jewish descent. But the man's modes and manners somehow left the invincible impression that any Londoner who did not know "Dizzy" was an imbecile, or moribund. It was like a mystic aura, a miasma that surrounded the fellow, and there were times when Mallory himself could not help but believe it.
   A female servant in mobcap and apron showed Mallory in. Disraeli was awake and eating his breakfast, strong black coffee and a stinking platter of mackerel fried in gin. He wore slippers, a Turkish robe, and a tasseled velvet fez. "Morning, Mallory. Dreadful morning. Beastly."
   "It is, rather."
   Disraeli crammed the last of his mackerel into his mouth and began to stuff the first pipe of the day. "Actually, you're just the fellow I need to see today, Mallory. Bit of a clacker, technical expert?"
   "Oh?"
   "New damned thing, I bought it just last Wednesday. The shopman swore it would make life easier." Disraeli led the way into his office, a room reminiscent of Mr. Wakefield's office in the Central Statistics Bureau, though far less ambitious in scale, and littered with pipe-dottles, lurid magazines, and half-eaten sandwiches. The floor was crowded with carved blocks of cork and heaps of shredded excelsior.
   Mallory saw that Disraeli had bought himself a Colt & Maxwell Typing Engine, and had managed to haul the thing out of its packing-crate and set it upright on its curved iron legs. It squatted on the stained oak boards before a patent office-chair.
   "Looks all right," Mallory said. "What is the problem?"
   "Well, I can pump the treadle, and I can manage the handles well enough," Disraeli said. "I can get the little needle to move to the letters I want. But nothing comes out."
   Mallory opened the side of the casing, deftly threaded the perforated tape through its gearing-spools, then checked the loading-chute for the fan-fold paper. Disraeli had failed to engage the sprockets properly. Mallory sat in the office-chair, foot-pumped the typer up to speed, and grasped the crank-handles. "What shall I write? Dictate something."
   " 'Knowledge is power,' " Disraeli said readily.
   Mallory cranked the needle back and forth through its glass-dialed alphabet. Perforated tape inched out, winding neatly onto its spring-loaded spool, and the rotating printing-wheel made a reassuring popping racket. Mallory let the flywheel die down and ratcheted the first sheet of paper out of its slot. KNOWLEDGEE IS PPOWER, it said.
   "Takes a dab hand," Mallory said, handing the page to the journalist. "But you'll get used to it."
   "I can scribble faster than this!" Disraeli complained. "And in a better hand, by far!"
   "Yes," Mallory said patiently, "but you can't reload the tape; bit of scissors and glue, you can loop your punch-tape through and the machine spits out page after page, so long as you push the treadle. As many copies as you like."
   "Charming," Disraeli said.
   "And of course you can revise what you've written. Simple matter of clipping and pasting the tape."
   "Professionals never revise," Disraeli said sourly. "And suppose I want to write something elegant and long-winded. Something such as…" Disraeli waved his smoldering pipe. " 'There are tumults of the mind, when, like the great convulsions of Nature, all seems anarchy and returning chaos; yet often, in those moments of vast disturbance, as in the strife of Nature itself, some new principle of order, or some new impulse of conduct, develops itself, and controls, and regulates, and brings to an harmonious consequence, passions and elements which seem only to threaten despair and subversion.' "
   "That's rather good," Mallory said.
   "Like it? From your new chapter. But how am I to concentrate on eloquence while I'm pushing and cranking like a washer-woman?"
   "Well, if you make some mistake, you can always reprint a new page fresh from the tape."
   "They claimed this device would save me paper!"
   "You might hire a skilled secretary, and dictate."
   "They said it would save me money, as well!" Disraeli puffed at the amber tip of his long-stemmed meerschaum. "I suppose it can't be helped. The publishers will force the innovation on us. Already the Evening Telegraph is setting up entirely with Engines. Quite a to-do about it in Government. The typesetting brotherhoods, you know. But enough shoptalk, Mallory. To work, eh? I'm afraid we must hasten. I should like to take notes for at least two chapters today."
   "Why?"
   "I'm leaving London for the Continent, with a group of friends," Disraeli said. "Switzerland, we think. Some little cantonment high in the Alps where a few jolly scribes can draw a breath of fresh air."
   "It is rather bad outside," Mallory said. "Very ominous weather."
   "It's the talk of every salon," Disraeli told him, seating himself at his desk. He began to hunt through cubbyholes for his sheaf of notes. "London always stinks in summer, but they're calling this 'The Great Stink.' All the gentry have their travels planned, or are gone already! There shall scarcely be a fashionable soul left in London. They say Parliament itself will flee upstream to Hampton Court, and the Law Courts to Oxford!"
   "What, truly?"
   "Oh yes. Dire measures are in the works. All planned sub rosa of course, to prevent mob panic." Disraeli turned in his chair and winked. "But measures are coming, you may depend upon that."
   "What sort of measures, Dizzy?"
   "Rationing water, shutting off smokestacks and gaslights, that sort of thing," Disraeli said airily. "One may say what one likes about the institution of merit-lordship. But at least it has guaranteed that the leadership of our country is not stupid."
   Disraeli spread his notes across the desk. "The Government have highly scientific contingency plans, you know. Your invasions, your fires, your droughts and plagues…" He leafed through the notes, licking his thumb. "Some people dote on contemplating disasters."
   Mallory found this gossip difficult to believe. "What exactly is contained in these 'contingency plans'?"
   "All sorts of things. Evacuation plans, I suppose."
   "Surely you're not implying that Government intend to evacuate London."
   Disraeli smiled wickedly. "If you smelled the Thames outside Parliament, you wouldn't wonder that our solons want to bolt."
   "That bad, eh?"
   "The Thames is a putrid, disease-ridden tidal sewer!" Disraeli proclaimed. "Thickened with ingredients from breweries, gas-works, and chemical and mineral factories! Putrid matter hangs like vile seaweed from the pilings of Westminster Bridge, and every passing steamer chums up a feculent eddy that nearly overwhelms her crew with foetor!"
   Mallory smiled. "Wrote an editorial about it, did we?"
   "For the Morning Clarion…" Disraeli shrugged. "I admit my rhetoric is somewhat over-colored. But it has been a damned odd summer, and that's the truth. A few days of good soaking rain, to flush out the Thames and break these odd stifling clouds, and all will be well with us. But much more of this freak weather, and those who are elderly, or weak of lung, may suffer greatly."
   "You think so, truly?"
   Disraeli lowered his voice. "They say the cholera is loose again in Limehouse."
   Mallory felt a dreadful chill. "Who says it?"
   "Dame Rumour. But who will doubt her in these circumstances? In such a vile summer, it's all too likely that effluvia and foetor will spread a deadly contagion." Disraeli emptied his pipe and began re-loading it from a rubber-sealed humidor stuffed with black Turkish shag. "I dearly love this city, Mallory, but there are times when discretion must outweigh devotion. You have family in Sussex, I know. If I were you, I should leave at once, and join them."
   "But I have a speech to deliver. In two days. On the Brontosaurus. With kinotrope accompaniment!"
   "Cancel the speech," Disraeli said, fussing with a repeating-match. "Postpone it."
   "I cannot. It is to be a great occasion, a great professional and popular event!"
   "Mallory, there shan't be anyone to see it. No one who matters, anyway. You'll be wasting your breath."
   "There shall be working-men," Mallory said stubbornly. "The humbler classes can't afford to leave London."
   "Oh," Disraeli nodded, puffing smoke. "That will be splendid. The sort of fellows who read tuppenny dreadfuls. Be sure to commend me to your audience."
   Mallory set his jaw stubbornly.
   Disraeli sighed. "Let's to work. We've a lot to do." He plucked the latest issue of Family Museum from a shelf. "What did you think of last week's episode?"
   "Fine. The best yet."
   "Too much damned scientific theory in it," Disraeli said. "It needs more sentimental interest."
   "What's wrong with theory, if it is good theory?"
   "No one but a specialist wants to read about the hinging pressures of a reptile's jawbone, Mallory. Truth to tell, there's only one thing people really want to know about dinosaurs: why the damned things are all dead."
   "I thought we agreed to save that for the end."
   "Oh, yes. Makes a fine climax, that business with the great smashing comet, and the great black dust-storm wiping out all reptilian life and so forth. Very dramatic, very catastrophic. That's what the public likes about Catastrophism, Mallory. Catastrophe feels better than this Uniformity drivel about the Earth being a thousand million years old. Tedious and boring—boring on the face of it!"
   "An appeal to vulgar emotion is neither here nor there!" Mallory said hotly. "The evidence supports me! Look at the Moon—absolutely covered with comet-craters!"
   "Yes," Disraeli said absently, "rigorous science, so much the better."
   "No one can explain how the Sun could burn for even ten million years. No combustion could last that long—it violates elementary laws of physics! "
   "Give it a rest for a moment. I'm all with your friend Huxley that we should enlighten the public ignorance, but one must throw the dog a bone every once in a while. Our readers want to know about Leviathan Mallory, the man."
   Mallory grunted.
   "That's why we must get back to the business of this Indian girl."
   Mallory shook his head. He had been dreading this. "She wasn't a 'girl.' She was a native woman… "
   "We've already explained that you've never married," Disraeli said patiently. "You won't acknowledge any English sweetheart. The time has come to bring out this Indian maiden. You don't have to be indecent or blunt about matters. Just a few kind words about her, a gallantry or two, a few dropped hints. Women dote on that business, Mallory. And they read far more than men do." Disraeli picked up his reservoir-pen. "You haven't even told me her name."
   Mallory sat in a chair. "The Cheyenne don't have names as we do. Especially not their women."
   "She must have been called something."
   "Well, sometimes she was called Widow-of-Red-Blanket, and sometimes she was called Mother-of-Spotted-Snake, or Mother-of-Lame-Horse. But I couldn't swear to any of those names, actually. We had this drunken half-breed Frenchie with us as interpreter, and he lied like a cur."
   Disraeli was disappointed. "You never spoke directly to her, then?"
   "I don't know. I got to where I could manage pretty well with the hand-signs. Her name was Wak-see-nee-ha-wah, or Wak-nee-see-wah-ha, something much like that."
   "How would it be if I call her 'Prairie Maiden'?"
   "Dizzy, she was a widow. She had two grown children. She was missing some teeth and was lean as a wolf."
   Disraeli sighed. "You're not cooperating. Mallory."
   "All right." Mallory tugged his beard. "She was a good seamstress; you could say that. We won her, ah, friendship, by giving her needles. Steel needles, rather than bison-bone splinters. And glass beads, of course. They all want glass beads."
   " 'Shy at first. Prairie Flower was won over by her innate love for feminine accomplishments,' " Disraeli said, scribbling.
   Disraeli teased at the edges of the matter, bit by bit, as Mallory squirmed in his chair.
   It was nothing like the truth. The truth could not be written on civilized paper. Mallory had put the whole squalid business successfully out of his mind. But he had not forgotten it, not really. As Disraeli sat scribbling his sentimental treacle, the truth surged back at Mallory with savage vividness.
   It was snowing outside the conical tents and the Cheyenne were drunk. Whooping howling drunken pandemonium, because the wretches had no real idea what liquor was; for them it was a poison and an incubus. They pranced and staggered like bedlamites, firing their rifles into the empty American heavens, and they fell on the frozen ground in the grip of visions, showing nothing but the whites of eyes. Once they had started, they would go on for hours.
   Mallory had not wanted to go in to the widow. He had fought the temptation for many days, but the time had finally come when he realized it would do his soul less damage to simply get the business over with. So he had drunk two inches from one of the whiskey bottles, two inches of cheap Birmingham rotgut, shipped over with the rifles. He had gone inside the tent where the widow sat crouched in her blankets and leathers over the dung-fire. The two children left, their round brown faces squinting bleakly against the wind.
   Mallory showed her a new needle, and did the business with his hands, lewd gestures. The widow nodded, with the exaggerated wobble of someone to whom a nod was a foreign language, and slid back into her nest of hides, and lay on her back with her legs spread, and stretched her arms up. Mallory climbed up over her, got under the blankets with her, pulled his taut and aching member out of his trousers, and forced it between her legs. He had thought it would be over with quickly, and perhaps without much shame, but it was too strange and upsetting to him. The rutting went on for a long time, and finally she began to look at him with a kind of querulous shyness, and plucked curiously at the hair of his beard. And at last the warmth, the sweet friction, the rank animal smell of her, thawed something in him, and he spent long and hard, spent inside her, though he had not meant to do that. The three other times he went to her, later, he withdrew, and did not risk getting the poor creature with child. He was very sorry he had done it even once. But if she was with child when they left, the odds were great that it was not his at all, but one of the other men's.
   At length Disraeli moved on to other matters and things became more easy. But Mallory left Disraeli's rooms full of bitter confusion. It was not Disraeli's flowery prose that had stirred up the devil in him, but the savage power of his own memories. The vital animus had returned with a vengeance. He was stiff and restless with lust, and felt out of his own command. He had not had a woman since Canada, and the French girl in Toronto had not seemed wholly clean. He needed a woman, badly. An Englishwoman, some country girl with solid white legs and fat fair freckled arms…
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
   Mallory made his way back to Fleet Street. Out in the open air, his eyes began to smart almost at once. There was no sign of Fraser in the hustling crowds. The gloom of the day was truly extraordinary. It was scarcely noon, but the dome of St. Paul's was shrouded in filthy mist. Great rolling wads of oily fog hid the spires and the giant bannered adverts of Ludgate Hill. Fleet Street was a high-piled clattering chaos, all whip-cracking, steam-snorting, shouting. The women on the pavements crouched under soot-stained parasols and walked half-bent, and men and women alike clutched kerchiefs to their eyes and noses. Men and boys lugged family carpetbags and rubber-handled traveling-cases, their cheery straw boaters already speckled with detritus. A crowded excursion-train chugged past on the spidery elevated track of the London, Chatham & Dover, its cloud of cindered exhaust hanging in the sullen air like a banner of filth.
   Mallory studied the sky. The thready jellyfish mess of rising smoke was gone now, swallowed in a looming opaque fog. Here and there, gray flakes of something like snow were settling delicately over Fleet Street. Mallory examined one that lit on his jacket-sleeve, a strange slaggy flake of crystallized grit. At his touch it burst into the finest ash.
   Fraser was shouting at him from beneath a lamp-post across the street. "Dr. Mallory!" Fraser beckoned in a manner that was, for him, remarkably animated; Mallory realized belatedly that Fraser had likely been shouting at him for some time.
   Mallory fought and dodged his way across the traffic: cabs, carts, a large stumbling herd of bleating, wheezing sheep. The effort of it set him gasping.
   Two strangers stood beneath the lamp-post with Fraser, both their faces tightly swathed with white kerchiefs. The taller fellow had been breathing through his kerchief for some time, for the cloth beneath his nose was stained yellow-brown. "Take 'em off, lads," Fraser commanded. Sullenly, the two strangers tugged their kerchiefs below their chins.
   "The Coughing Gent!" Mallory said, stunned.
   "Permit me," Fraser said wryly. "This is Mr. J. C. Tate, and this is his partner, Mr. George Velasco. They style themselves confidential agents, or something of the sort." Fraser's mouth grew thinner, became something almost like a smile. "I believe you gents have already met Dr. Edward Mallory."
   "We know 'im," Tate said. There was a swollen purple bruise on the side of Tate's jaw. The kerchief had hidden it. "Bloody lunatic, he is! Violent bloody maniac, as ought to be in Bedlam."
   "Mr. Tate was an officer on our metropolitan force," Fraser said, fixing Tate with a leaden stare. "Till he lost the post."
   "I resigned!" Tate declared. "I quit on principle, as there's no way to get justice done in the public police in London, and you know that as well as I do, Ebenezer Fraser."
   "As for Mr. Velasco, he's one of your would-be dark-lantern men," Fraser said mildly. "Father came to London as a Spanish royalist refugee, but our young Mr. George is apt to turn his hand to anything—false passports, keyhole-peering, blackjacking prominent savants in the street… "
   "I am a native-born British citizen," said the swarthy little half-breed, with an ugly glare at Mallory.
   "Don't put on airs, Fraser," Tate said. "You walked a beat same as me, and if you're a big brass-hat now, it's only so you can sit on dirty scandals for the Government. Clap the darbies on us, Fraser! Take us into custody! Do your worst! I've my own friends, you know."
   "I won't let Dr. Mallory hit you, Tate. Stop worrying. But do tell us why you've been dogging him."
   "Professional confidentiality," Tate protested. "Can't nark on a patron."
   "Don't be a fool," Fraser said.
   "Your gentleman here is a bloody murderer! Had his rival gutted like a fish!"
   "I did no such thing," Mallory said. "I'm a Royal Society scholar, not some back-alley conspirator!"
   Tate and Velasco exchanged glances of amazed skepticism. Velasco began to snicker helplessly.
   "What's so amusing?" Mallory said.
   "They were hired by one of your colleagues," Fraser said. "This is a Royal Society intrigue. Is that not so, Mr. Tate?"
   "I told you I ain't tellin'," Tate said.
   "Is it the Commission on Free Trade?" Mallory demanded. No answer. "Is it Charles Lyell?"
   Tate rolled his smoke-reddened eyes and elbowed Velasco in the ribs. "He's as pure as the snow, your Dr. Mallory is, just as you say, Fraser." He wiped his face with his stained kerchief. "Things've come to a pretty pass, damn it all, with London stinking to perdition and the country in the hands of learned lunatics with too much money and hearts of stone!"
   Mallory felt the strong impulse to give the insolent rascal another sharp taste of the fist, but with a swift effort of will he throttled the useless instinct. He stroked his beard with a professorial air, and smiled on Tate, coldly and deliberately.
   "Whoever your employer may be," Mallory said, "he shan't be very happy that Mr. Fraser and I have found you out."
   Tate watched Mallory narrowly, saying nothing. Velasco put his hands in his pockets and looked ready to sidle off at any moment.
   "We may have come to blows earlier," Mallory said, "but I pride myself that I can rise above a natural resentment, and see our situation objectively! Now that you've lost the cover of deceit under which you have been stalking me, you're of no use to your patron anymore. Is that not so?"
   "What if it is?" Tate asked.
   "The two of you might still be of considerable use to a certain Ned Mallory. What is he paying you, this fancy patron fellow?"
   "Have a care, Mallory," Fraser warned.
   "If you've watched me at all closely, you must be aware that I'm a generous man," Mallory insisted.
   "Five shillings a day," Tate muttered.
   "Each," Velasco put in. "Plus expenses."
   "They're lying," Fraser said.
   "I'll have five golden guineas waiting for you, in my rooms at the Palace of Paleontology, at the end of this week," Mallory promised. "In exchange for that sum, I want you to treat your former patron exactly as you've treated me—simple poetic justice, as it were! Stalk him secretly, wherever he goes, and tell me everything he does. That's what you were hired for, is it not?"
   "More or less," Tate admitted. "We might think about that, squire, if you gave us that tin on deposit."
   "I might give you some part of the money," Mallory allowed. "But then you must give me information on deposit."
   Velasco and Tate looked hard at one another. "Give us a moment to confer about it." The two private detectives wandered away through the jostle of sidewalk traffic and sought shelter in the leeway of an iron-fenced obelisk.
   "Those two aren't worth five guineas in a year," Fraser said.
   "I suppose they are vicious rascals," Mallory agreed, "but it scarcely matters what they are, Fraser. I'm after what they know."
   Tate returned at length, the kerchief back over his face. "Cove name of Peter Foulke," he said, his voice muffled. "I wouldn't have said that—wild horses couldn't drag it out of me—only the bugger puts on airs and orders us about like a bloody Lordship. Don't trust our integrity. Don't trust us to act in his interests. Don't seem to think we know how to do our own job."
   "To hell with him," Velasco said. Stuck between kerchief and derby-brim, the spit-curls on his cheeks stuck out like greased wings. "Velasco and Tate don't cross the Specials for any Peter bloody Foulke."
   Mallory offered Tate a crisp pound-note from his book. Tate looked it over, folded it between his fingers with a card-sharper's dexterity, and made it vanish. "Another of those for my friend here, to seal the deal?"
   "I suspected it was Foulke all along," Mallory said.
   "Then here's something you don't know, squire," Tate said. "We ain't the only ones dogging you. While you hoof along like an elephant, talking to yourself, there's this flash cove and his missus on your heels, three days in the last five."
   Fraser spoke up sharply. "But not today, eh?"
   Tate chuckled behind his kerchief. "Reckon they saw you and hooked it, Fraser. That vinegar phiz of yours would make 'em hedge off, sure. Jumpy as cats, those two."
   "Do they know you saw them?" Fraser said.
   "They ain't stupid, Fraser. They're up and flash. He's a racing-cove or I miss my guess, and she's a high-flyer. The dolly tried talking velvet to Velasco here, wanted to know who hired us." Tate paused. "We didn't say."
   "What did they say about themselves?" Fraser said sharply.
   "She said she was Francis Rudwick's sister," Velasco said. "Investigating her brother's murder. Said that straight out, without my asking."
   "Of course we didn't believe that cakey talk," Tate said. "She don't look a bit like Rudwick. Nice-looking bit o' muslin, though. Sweet face, red hair, more likely she was Rudwick's convenient."
   "She's a murderess!" Mallory said.
   "Funny thing, squire, that's just what she says about you."
   "Do you know where to find them?" Fraser asked.
   Tate shook his head.
   "We could look," Velasco offered.
   "Why don't you do that while you follow Foulke," Mallory said, in a burst of inspiration. "I have a notion they might all be in league somehow."
   "Foulke's away in Brighton," Tate said. "Couldn't abide the Stink—delicate sensibilities. And if we're to go to Brighton, Velasco and I could do with the railway fare—expenses, you know."
   "Bill me," Mallory said. He gave Velasco a pound-note.
   "Dr. Mallory wants that bill fully itemized," Fraser said. "With receipts."
   "Right and fly, squire," Tate said. He touched the brim of his hat with a copper's salute. "Delighted to serve the interests of the nation."
   "And keep a civil tongue in your head, Tate."
   Tate ignored him, and leered at Mallory. "You'll be hearing from us, squire."
   Fraser and Mallory watched them go. "I reckon you're out two pounds," Fraser said. "You'll never see those two again."
   "Cheap at the price, perhaps," Mallory said.
   "No it ain't, sir. There's far cheaper ways."
   "At least I shan't be coshed from behind any longer."
   "No, sir, not by them."

   Mallory and Fraser ate gritty sandwiches of turkey and bacon from a glass-sided hot-cart. They were once again unable to hire a cabriolet. None were visible in the street. The underground stations were all closed, with angry sand-hog pickets shouting foul abuse at passers-by.
   The day's second appointment, in Jermyn Street, was a severe disappointment to Mallory. He had come to the Museum to confer about his speech, but Mr. Keats, the Royal Society kinotropist, had sent a telegram declaring himself very ill, and Huxley had been dragooned into some committee of savant Lordships meeting to consider the emergency. Mallory could not even manage to cancel his speech, as Disraeli had suggested, for Mr. Trenham Reeks declared himself unable to make such a decision without Huxley's authority, and Huxley himself had left no forwarding address or telegram-number.
   To add salt to the wound, the Museum of Practical Geology was almost deserted, the cheery crowds of schoolchildren and natural-history enthusiasts depleted to a few poor sullen wretches clearly come in for the sake of cleaner air and some escape from the heat. They slouched and loitered under the towering skeleton of the Leviathan as if they longed to crack its mighty bones and suck the marrow.
   There was nothing for it but to tramp back to the Palace of Paleontology and prepare for the night's dinner with the Young Men's Agnostic Association. The Y.M.A.A. were a savantry student-group. Mallory, as lion of the evening, would be expected to make a few after-dinner remarks. He'd been quite looking forward to the event, as the Y.M.A.A. were a jolly lot, not at all as pompous as their respectable name might suggest, and the all-male company would allow him to make a few unbuttoned jests suitable for young bachelors. Mallory had heard several such, from "Dizzy" Disraeli, that he thought very good indeed. But now he wondered how many of his erstwhile hosts were left in London, or how the young men might manage to gather together, if they were still so inclined, and worst yet, what the dining might be like in the upstairs room of the Black Friar pub, which was near Blackfriars Bridge and just upwind of the Thames.
   The streets were visibly emptying. Shop after shop bore CLOSED signs. Mallory had hoped to find a barber to trim his hair and beard, but he'd had no such luck. London's citizenry had fled, or gone to earth behind tight-closed windows. Smoke had settled to ground-level and mixed with a foetid fog, a yellow pea-soup of it everywhere, and it was difficult to see the length of a half-block. The rare pedestrians emerged from obscurity like well-dressed ghosts. Fraser led the way, uncomplaining and unerring, and Mallory supposed that the veteran copper could have led them through the London streets blindfolded, with near as much ease. They wore their kerchiefs over their faces now. It seemed a sensible precaution, though it rather bothered Mallory that Fraser now seemed gagged as well as reticent.
   "The kinotropes are the sticking-point," Mallory opined, as they tramped up the Brompton Road, the spires of its scientific palaces obscured by foetor. "It wasn't like this before I left England. Two years ago the damned things were nowhere near so common. Now I'm not allowed to give a public speech without one." He coughed. "It gave me a turn to see that long panel back in Fleet Street, mounted in front of the Evening Telegraph, clacking away like sixty, over the heads of the crowd! 'Trains Closed As Sand-Hogs Strike,' the thing said, 'Parliament Decries State of Thames.' "
   "What's wrong with that?" Fraser asked.
   "It doesn't say anything," Mallory said. "Who in Parliament? What state of the Thames, specifically? What did Parliament say about it? Wise things or foolish things?"
   Fraser grunted.
   "There is a wicked pretense that one has been informed. But no such thing has truly occurred! A mere slogan, an empty litany. No arguments are heard, no evidence is weighed. It isn't news at all, only a source of amusement for idlers."
   "Some might say it's better for idlers to know a bit than nothing at all."
   "Some might be damned fools, then, Fraser. This kino-sloganry is like printing bank-notes with no gold to back them, or writing checks on an empty account. If that is to be the level of rational discourse for the common folk, then I must say three cheers for the authority of the House of Lords."
   A fire-gurney chugged slowly past them, with weary firemen on its running-boards, their clothing and faces blackened at their work, or perhaps by the London air itself, or perhaps by the streaming stinking soot of the gurney's own smokestacks. To Mallory, it seemed a strangely ironic thing that a fire-gurney should propel itself through the agency of a heap of blazing coal. But perhaps there was sense in it after all, for in weather like this a team of horses would be hard put to gallop a block.
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
  Mallory was anxious to soothe his raw throat with a huckle-buff, but it seemed smokier inside the Palace of Paleontology than out. There was a harsh stench, like burnt linen.
   Perhaps Kelly's imperial gallons of manganate of soda had eaten through the pipes. In any case, this Stink seemed to have finally defeated the Palace guests, for there was scarcely a soul in the lobby, and not a murmur from the dining-room.
   Mallory was looking for service in the saloon, amid the lacquered screens and red silk upholstery, when Kelly himself appeared, his face taut and resolute. "Dr. Mallory?"
   "Yes, Kelly?"
   "I've bad news for you, sir. An unhappy event here. A fire, sir."
   Mallory glanced at Fraser.
   "Yes, sir," the concierge said. "Sir, when you left today, did you perhaps leave clothing near the gas-jet? Or a cigar still smoldering?"
   "You don't mean to say the fire was in my room!"
   "I fear so, sir."
   "A serious fire?"
   "The guests thought it so, sir. So did the firemen." Kelly said nothing of the feelings of the Palace staff, but his face made his sentiments clear.
   "I always turn out the gas!" Mallory blurted. "I don't recall exactly—but I always turn out the gas."
   "Your door was locked, sir. Firemen had to break it in."
   "We'll want a look," Fraser suggested mildly.
   The door of Mallory's room had been axed in, and the warped floor was awash with sand and water. Mallory's heaps of magazines and paper correspondence had blazed up very fiercely, thoroughly consuming his desk and a great blackened swatch of the carpet. There was a huge charred hole in the wall behind the desk and the ceiling above it, with naked joists and rafters gone to charcoal, and Mallory's wardrobe, replete with all his London finery, burnt to cindered rags and smashed mirror-glass. Mallory was beside himself with anger and a deep foreboding shame.
   "You locked your door, sir?" Fraser asked.
   "I always do. Always!"
   "May I see your key?"
   Mallory handed Fraser his key-chain. Fraser knelt quietly beside the splintered door-frame. He examined the keyhole closely, then rose to his feet.
   "Were there any suspicious characters reported in the hall?" Fraser asked Kelly.
   Kelly was offended. "May I ask who you are to inquire, sir?"
   "Inspector Fraser, Bow Street."
   "No, Inspector," Kelly said, sucking his teeth. "No suspicious characters. Not to my personal knowledge!"
   "You'll keep this matter confidential, Mr. Kelly. I assume that like other Royal Society establishments you take only guests who are accredited savants?"
   "That is our firm policy. Inspector!"
   "But your guests are allowed visitors?"
   "Male visitors, sir. Properly escorted ladies—nothing scandalous, sir!"
   "A well-dressed hotel cracksman," Fraser concluded. "And arsonist. Not so good an arsonist as he is a cracksman, for he was rather clumsy in the way he heaped those papers below the desk and the wardrobe. He'd a skeleton bar-key for this tumbler-lock. Had to scrape about a bit, but I doubt it took him five full minutes."
   "This beggars belief," Mallory said.
   Kelly looked near tears. "A savant guest burned out of his room! I don't know what to say! I have not heard of such a wickedness since the days of Ludd! 'Tis a shame. Dr. Mallory—a foul shame!"
   Mallory shook his head. "I should have warned you of this, Mr. Kelly. I have dire enemies."
   Kelly swallowed. "We know, sir. There's much talk of it among the staff, sir."
   Fraser was examining the remnants of the desk, poking about in the litter with the warped brass hanger-rod from the wardrobe. "Tallow," he said.
   "We carry insurance. Dr. Mallory," Kelly said hopefully. "I don't know if our policy covers exactly this sort of matter, but I do hope we can make good your losses! Please accept my most sincere apologies!"
   "It scotches me," Mallory said, looking about the wreckage. "But not so great a hurt as perhaps they hoped! I keep all my most important papers in the Palace safety-box. And of course I never leave money here." He paused. "I assume the Palace safe remains unrifled, Mr. Kelly."
   "Yes, sir," Kelly said. "Or rather—let me see to that at once, sir." He left hastily, bowing.
   "Your friend the Derby stiletto-man," Fraser said. "He did not dare dog you today, but once we'd left, he crept up here, cracked the door, and lit candles among your heaped-up papers. He was long and safely gone before the alarm was raised."
   "He must know a deal about my schedule," Mallory said. "Knows all about me, I daresay. He's plundered my number. He's taken me for a cake."
   "In a manner of speaking, sir." Fraser tossed the brass pole aside. "He's a trumped-up amateur. Your skilled arsonist uses liquid paraffin, which consumes itself and all it touches."
   "I shan't make that dinner with the Agnostics tonight, Fraser. I've nothing to wear!"
   Fraser stood quite still. "I can see you face misfortune very bravely—like a scholar and a gentleman. Dr. Mallory."
   "Thank you," Mallory said. There was a silence. "Fraser, I need a drink."
   Fraser nodded slowly.
   "For Heaven's sake, Fraser, let us go somewhere where we can do some genuine, blackguard, poverty-stricken drinking, with no false gingerbread glitter thrown over everything! Let us away from the fashionable Palace, to a house where they don't mind letting in a man with nothing left but the coat on his back!" Mallory kicked about in the rubble of his wardrobe.
   "I know what you need, sir," Fraser said soothingly. "A cheery place to let off a bit of steam—where there's drink and dance and lively ladies."
   Mallory discovered the blackened brass toggles of his Wyoming military-coat. The sight of this stung him deeply. "You wouldn't be trying to nanny me, would you, Fraser? I suppose Oliphant told you to nanny me. I think that would be a mistake. I'm in a mood for trouble, Fraser."
   "I don't mistake you at all, sir. The day has been very unkind. But then, you've yet to see Cremorne Gardens."
   "The only thing I want to see is the stiletto-man in the sights of a buffalo-rifle!"
   "I understand that sentiment perfectly, sir."
   Mallory opened his silver cigar-case—at least he still had that possession—and lit his last prime Havana. He puffed it hard, until the calm of good tobacco hit his blood. "On the other hand," he said at last, "I suppose your Cremorne Gardens might well do in a pinch."

   Fraser led the way, far down Cromwell Lane, past the great pile of pale brick that was the Diseased Chest Hospital: a nightmarishly dire place this evening. Mallory could not help but think.
   A vague notion of medical grimness continued to prey on Mallory's mind, so much so that they stopped at the next public-house, where Mallory had four or possibly five shots of a surprisingly decent whiskey. The pub was crowded with New Brompton locals, who seemed quite cheery in a cozy, besieged sort of way, though they kept slipping tuppenny bits into a pianola that tinkled "Come to the Bower," a song Mallory loathed. "There was no rest for him here. In any case, it was not Cremorne Gardens.
   They came across the first sign of real trouble a few blocks down New Brompton Road, by Bennett & Harper's Patent Floor-Covering Manufactory. An unruly crowd of uniformed men milled at the gates of the sprawling factory. Industrial trouble of some sort.
   It took Fraser and Mallory some time to discover that the crowd actually consisted almost entirely of policemen. Bennett & Harper's produced a gaily patterned water-proof stuff made of burlap, ground cork, and coal derivatives, suitable for trimming and gluing-down in the kitchens and baths of the middle-class. They also produced great volumes of effluent from half-a-dozen stacks, which clearly the city would temporarily be better off without. The first officials on the scene—or at least they claimed that distinction—had been a group of inspectors from the Royal Patent Office, pressed into emergency industrial duty by a Government contingency plan. But Messrs. Bennett and Harper, anxious not to lose the day's production, had challenged the patent-men's legal authority to shut down their works. They were soon confronted by two more inspectors from a Royal Society industrial committee, who claimed precedent. The local constable had been attracted by the uproar, followed by a flying-squad of Bow Street metropolitans arriving in a commandeered steam-bus. Most 'buses had now been seized by Government, along with the city's cab-fleet, in accordance with contingency measures intended to deal with rail strikes.
   The police had immediately shut down the stacks, fine work and a credit to the Government's good intentions, but the manufactory's workers were still on the premises, idle and very restive, for no one had mentioned a holiday with pay, though the workers clearly felt they deserved one under the circumstances. It also remained to be seen who was responsible for guarding the property of Messrs. Bennett and Harper, and who would be responsible for giving the official word to start the boilers again.
   Worst of all, there seemed to be dire problems with the police telegraph-service—routed, presumably, through the Westminster pyramid of the Central Statistics Bureau. There must be trouble there from the Stink, Mallory surmised. "You're Special Branch, Mr. Fraser," Mallory said. "Why don't you straighten these dullards out?"
   "Very witty," Fraser said.
   "I wondered why we hadn't seen officers patrolling the streets. They must be snarled up in the premises of factories all over London!"
   "You seem awfully pleased about the matter," Fraser said.
   "Bureaucrats!" Mallory scoffed cheerily. "They might have known this would happen, if they'd properly studied Catastrophist theory. It is a concatenation of synergistic interactions; the whole system is on the period-doubling route to Chaos!"
   "What does that mean, pray?"
   "Essentially," Mallory said, smiling behind his kerchief, "in layman's terms, it means that everything gets twice as bad, twice as fast, until everything falls completely apart!"
   "That's savantry talk. You don't presume that has anything to do with real matters here in London, do you?"
   "Very interesting question!" Mallory nodded. "Deep metaphysical roots! If I model a phenomenon accurately, does that mean I understand it? Or might it be simple coincidence, or an artifact of the technique? Of course, as an ardent simulationist, I myself put much faith in Engine-modeling. But the doctrine can be questioned, no doubt of it. Deep waters, Fraser! The sort of thing that old Hume and Bishop Berkeley used to thrive on!"
   "You're not drunk, are you, sir?"
   "Just a bit elevated," Mallory said. "Squiffy, you might say." They tramped on, wisely leaving the police to their squabbling.
   Mallory suddenly felt the loss of his good old Wyoming toggle-coat. He missed his canteen, his spyglass, the snug stiffness of a rifle over his back. The look of a cold, clean, wild horizon where life was fully lived and death was swift and honest. He wished he were out of London, on expedition again. He could cancel all his engagements. He could apply for funding to the Royal Society, or better yet, the Geographical. He would leave England!
   "You needn't do that, sir," Fraser said. "Might make matters worse, actually."
   "Was I talking aloud?"
   "A bit, sir. Yes."
   "Where could a man get a first-class game-rifle here in town, Fraser?"
   They were behind Chelsea Park now, in a place called Camera Square, where the shops offered fancy optical goods: talbotypes, magic-lanterns, phenakistoscopes, telescopes for the amateur star-gazer. There were toy microscopes for the boy-savant of the house, boys often taking a strong interest in the wriggling animalcules in pond-water. The minute creatures were of no practical interest, but their study might lead young minds to the doctrines of genuine Science. Stung by sentiment, Mallory paused before a window displaying such microscopes. They reminded him of kindly old Lord Mantell, who had given him his first job tidying-up about the Lewes Museum. From there he'd moved to cataloguing bones and birds'-eggs, and at last to a real Cambridge scholarship. The old Lord had been a bit eager with the birch-switch, he now recalled, but likely no more than Mallory had deserved.
   There came an odd whizzing sound from up the pavement. Mallory glanced in that direction and saw a queer half-crouching ghostly figure emerge from the fog, clothing flapping about it with speed, a pair of walking-canes doubled up under its arms.
   Mallory jumped back at the last possible instant as the boy shot past him with a yowling whoop. A London boy, thirteen or so, on rubber-wheeled boots. The boy turned swiftly, skidded to an expert stop, and began to pole himself back up the pavement with the walking-sticks. Presently, an entire pack of boys had surrounded Mallory and Fraser, leaping and yelping in devilish glee. None of the others had wheeled shoes, but nearly all wore the little square cloth masks that Bureau clerks donned to tend their Engines.
   "Say, you lads!" Fraser barked, "where did you get those masks?"
   They ignored him. "That was dead flash!" one of them shouted. "Do it again. Bill!" Another boy cocked his leg three times with an odd ritual motion, then jumped high in the air and crowed "Sugar!" Those around him laughed and cheered.
   "Calm down, you," Fraser ordered.
   "Vinegar phiz!" a wicked boy fleered at him. "Shocking bad hat!" The whole pack of them burst into raucous hilarity.
   "Where are your parents?" Fraser demanded. "You shouldn't be running about in this weather."
   "Nuts and knuckles!" sneered the boy in wheeled shoes. "Forward all, my hearty crew! Panther Bill commands!" He jabbed his walking-sticks down and off. The others followed, yelling and whooping.
   "Far too well-dressed to be street-arabs," Mallory remarked.
   The boys had run off a short distance and were setting up for a game of crack-the-whip. Swiftly, each boy grabbed the next by the arm, forming a chain. The boy on wheels took the tail-end.
   "Don't like the look of that," Mallory muttered.
   The chain of boys swung out across Camera Square, each link gathering impetus, and suddenly the wheel-footed boy shot loose from the end like a stone from a catapult. He skidded off with a scream of devilish glee, hit some small discontinuity in the pavement, and tripped headlong into a sheet of plate-glass.
   Shards of glass burst from the store-front, toppling like guillotine blades.
   Young Panther Bill lay upon the pavement, seemingly stunned or dead. There was an awful moment of shocked silence.
   "Treasure!" shrilled one of the boys. With maddened shrieks, the pack scrambled for the broken store-front and began grabbing every display-item in sight: telescopes, tripods, chemical glassware—
   "Halt!" Fraser shouted. "Police!" He reached inside his coat, yanked his kerchief down, and sounded three sharp blasts on a nickel-plate police-whistle.
   The boys fled instantly. A few dropped their snatched booty, but the rest clutched their prizes fiercely and ran like Barbary apes. Fraser hoofed it after them, Mallory at his heels, reaching the store-front where Panther Bill still lay sprawled. As they approached, the boy levered himself up on his elbow and shook his bleeding head.
   "You're hurt, son," Mallory said.
   "I'm right and fly!" said Panther Bill sluggishly. His scalp was slashed to the bone and blood was pouring over both his ears. "Hands off me, you masked bandits!"
   Belatedly, Mallory pulled his own kerchief down and tried to smile at the boy. "You're injured, son. You need help." Together with Fraser, he bent over the boy.
   "Help!" the boy screeched. "Help me, my crew!"
   Mallory turned to look. Perhaps one of the other boys could be sent for aid.
   A glittering triangular shard of flung glass spun from the fog, catching Fraser square in the back. The policeman jerked upright with a look of wide-eyed animal shock.
   Panther Bill scrambled off on his hands and knees and jumped to his skidding feet. There was a loud smash from another store-front nearby, the musical clatter of glass, and delighted screams.
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Administrator
Capo di tutti capi


Underpromise; overdeliver.

Zodijak Gemini
Pol Muškarac
Poruke Odustao od brojanja
Zastava 44°49′N - 20°29′E
mob
Apple iPhone 6s
  The glass-shard protruded in shocking fashion from Fraser's back. It was imbedded in him. "They're going to kill us!" Mallory cried, hauling Fraser along by the arm. Behind them glass was bursting like bombs, some of it flung blindly to shatter against the walls, some cascading from its shop-front mullions.
   "Bloody hell…," Fraser muttered.
   Panther Bill's cry rang through the fog. "Treasure, my hearties! Treasure!"
   "Clench your teeth," Mallory said. Folding his kerchief to protect his hand, he plucked the shard from Fraser's back. To his great relief, it came out of a piece. Fraser shuddered.
   Mallory helped him gently out of his coat. Gore had streaked Fraser's shirt to the waistline, though it seemed not as bad as it might have been. The glass-shard had stabbed the chamois-leather strap of Fraser's shoulder-holster, which held a stout little pepperbox. "Your holster stopped most of it," Mallory said. "You're cut, but it's not deep, not through the ribs. We need to staunch that bleeding… "
   "Police station," Fraser nodded, "Kings Road West." He had gone very pale.
   A fresh cascade of smashing glass echoed distantly behind them.
   They walked on swiftly, Fraser wincing with each step. "You'd better stay with me," he said. "Spend the night at the police station. This has become very bad."
   "Surely," Mallory said. "Don't trouble yourself."
   "I mean it. Mallory."
   "To be sure."
   Two hours later Mallory was in Cremorne Gardens.

   The document under analysis is a holographic letter. The letterhead has been removed, and the sheet was hastily folded. There is no date, but holographic analysis establishes that it is the genuine script of Edward Mallory, written in haste, and in a condition suggesting some loss of muscular coordination.
   The paper-stock, of modest quality and badly yellowed by age, is of a sort in common governmental use in the mid-1850s. Its probable origin is the Kings Road West police station.
   The text, in a badly faded ink from a pen-nib worn by long use, reads as follows:

   MADAME.

   I have told no one. But someone must be told. I conclude that you must be my confidante, for there is no one else.
   When I took your property into my safe-keeping, I did so freely. Your request is one I honor as I would a royal command, and your enemies are, of course, my own. It is the highest privilege of my life to act as your paladin.
   Pray do not be alarmed for my safety. I beg you, take no steps on my behalf that might endanger yourself. Any risk in this battle I assume gladly, but there is indeed risk. Should the worst befall me, it is likely that your property would never be recovered.
   I have examined the cards. I believe I have some inkling of their use, though they are far beyond my meager skill in Enginery. If this was an impertinence, I beg your pardon.
   I have bound the cards securely in wrappings of clean linen, and personally sealed them away within an airtight container of plaster. That container is the skull of the Brontosaurus specimen in the Museum of Practical Geology in Jermyn Street. Your property now reposes in perfect safety some thirty feet above the ground. No human soul knows this, excepting yourself, and

   Your Ladyship's most humble servant,

EDWARD MALLORY, F.R.S., F.R.G.S.
IP sačuvana
social share
Pobednik, pre svega.

Napomena: Moje privatne poruke, icq, msn, yim, google talk i mail ne sluze za pruzanje tehnicke podrske ili odgovaranje na pitanja korisnika. Za sva pitanja postoji adekvatan deo foruma. Pronadjite ga! Takve privatne poruke cu jednostavno ignorisati!
Preporuke za clanove: Procitajte najcesce postavljana pitanja!
Pogledaj profil WWW GTalk Twitter Facebook
 
Prijava na forum:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Zelim biti prijavljen:
Trajanje:
Registruj nalog:
Ime:
Lozinka:
Ponovi Lozinku:
E-mail:
Idi gore
Stranice:
1 2 4 5 ... 22
Počni novu temu Nova anketa Odgovor Štampaj Dodaj temu u favorite Pogledajte svoje poruke u temi
Trenutno vreme je: 28. Nov 2021, 12:31:04
nazadnapred
Prebaci se na:  

Poslednji odgovor u temi napisan je pre više od 6 meseci.  

Temu ne bi trebalo "iskopavati" osim u slučaju da imate nešto važno da dodate. Ako ipak želite napisati komentar, kliknite na dugme "Odgovori" u meniju iznad ove poruke. Postoje teme kod kojih su odgovori dobrodošli bez obzira na to koliko je vremena od prošlog prošlo. Npr. teme o određenom piscu, knjizi, muzičaru, glumcu i sl. Nemojte da vas ovaj spisak ograničava, ali nemojte ni pisati na teme koje su završena priča.

web design

Forum Info: Banneri Foruma :: Burek Toolbar :: Burek Prodavnica :: Burek Quiz :: Najcesca pitanja :: Tim Foruma :: Prijava zloupotrebe

Izvori vesti: Blic :: Wikipedia :: Mondo :: Press :: 24sata :: Sportska Centrala :: Glas Javnosti :: Kurir :: Mikro :: B92 Sport :: RTS :: Danas

Prijatelji foruma: Triviador :: Domaci :: Morazzia :: TotalCar :: FTW.rs :: MojaPijaca :: Pojacalo :: Muzej srpskog jezika :: MojaFirma

Pravne Informacije: Pravilnik Foruma :: Politika privatnosti :: Uslovi koriscenja :: O nama :: Marketing :: Kontakt :: Sitemap

All content on this website is property of "Burek.com" and, as such, they may not be used on other websites without written permission.

Copyright © 2002- "Burek.com", all rights reserved. Performance: 0.091 sec za 17 q. Powered by: SMF. © 2005, Simple Machines LLC.