When it was all over and the vicar had returned to his study, Coventry drew a long breath. The day for him had been one of unaccustomed emotional strain, and he felt a wholesome craving for refreshment.
"I just murdered him," Arthur said quietly.
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Somewhere, just at the threshold of his senses, there was something like a voice. He could not quite hear it, but it was there. He sat as still as he could, listening; it remained elusive.
"I'm going with him—out in the open! I'm going to show him what we need!"
He tapped half-heartedly at one of the closed cupboards, and was not surprised when it proved as refractory as the door. Undoubtedly he could batter it open, but it was not likely that much would be left of its contents when he was through; and there was the question of time.
Hatcher, who was not human, did not possess truly human emotions; but he did feel amazement when he was amazed, and fear when there was cause to be afraid. These specimens, obtained with so much difficulty, needed so badly, were his responsibility. He knew the issues involved much better than any of his helpers. They could only be surprised at the queer antics of the aliens with attached limbs and strange powers. Hatcher knew that this was not a freak show, but a matter of life and death. He said, musing:
The legends of yon gloomy vale;
“Her daddy, ole man Galloway, had a thoroughbred filly that he named Kathleena for his daughter, an’ she c’u’d do anything that the gal left out. An’ one day when she took the bit in her teeth an’ run a quarter in twenty-five seconds, she sot ’em all wild an’ lots of fellers tried to buy the filly an’ get the old man to throw in the gal for her keep an’ board.
??Just ten??? asked the young man as if alert for humour.
He would sit listening, stroking my sister’s long skye-terrier (who, defying all rules, had jumped up to his knees at dessert), with a grave half-absent look on his heavy face; and just as my mother (I knew) was thinking how bored he was, that big smile of his would reach out and light up his dimple, and he would say, with enough diffidence to mark his respect for his elders, yet a complete independence of their views: “After all, what
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