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|The Wheels of Chance||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 2 of 3||
Her brow puckered, as she watched him make, with infinite emotion, this remarkable speech. "YOU!" she said. She was tumultuously weighing possibilities in her mind, and he had scarcely ceased when she had made her resolve.
She stepped a pace forward. "You are a gentleman," she said.
"Yes," said Mr. Hoopdriver.
"Can I trust you?"
She did not wait for his assurance. "I must leave this hotel at once. Come here."
She took his arm and led him to the window.
"You can just see the gate. It is still open. Through that are our bicycles. Go down, get them out, and I will come down to you. Dare you?
"Get your bicycle out in the road?"
"Both. Mine alone is no good. At once. Dare you?"
"Go out by the front door and round. I will follow in one minute."
"Right!" said Mr. Hoopdriver, and went.
He had to get those bicycles. Had he been told to go out and kill Bechamel he would have done it. His head was a MaeIstrom now. He walked out of the hotel, along the front, and into the big, blackshadowed coach yard. He looked round. There were no bicycles visible. Then a man emerged from the dark, a short man in a short, black, shiny jacket. Hoopdriver was caught. He made no attempt to turn and run for it. "I've been giving your machines a wipe over, sir," said the man, recognising the suit, and touching his cap. Hoopdriver's intelligence now was a soaring eagle; he swooped on the situation at once. "That's right," he said, and added, before the pause became marked, "Where is mine? I want to look at the chain."
The man led him into an open shed, and went fumbling for a lantern. Hoopdriver moved the lady's machine out of his way to the door, and then laid hands on the man's machine and wheeled it out of the shed into the yard. The gate stood open and beyond was the pale road and a clump of trees black in the twilight. He stooped and examined the chain with trembling fingers. How was it to be done? Something behind the gate seemed to flutter. The man must be got rid of anyhow.
"I say," said Hoopdriver, with an inspiration, "can you get me a screwdriver?"
The man simply walked across the shed, opened and shut a box, and came up to the kneeling Hoopdriver with a screwdriver in his hand. Hoopdriver felt himself a lost man. He took the screwdriver with a tepid "Thanks," and incontinently had another inspiration.
"I say," he said again.
"This is miles too big."
The man lit the lantern, brought it up to Hoopdriver and put it down on the ground. "Want a smaller screwdriver?" he said.
Hoopdriver had his handkerchief out and sneezed a prompt ATICHEW. It is the orthodox thing when you wish to avoid recognition. "As small as you have," he said, out of his pocket handkerchief.
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|The Wheels of Chance
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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