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III The Heart Of Man Anna Katharine Green

XXXIV The Hut Changes Its Name

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As Oswald thus gave expression to his surprise, their two faces were a study: the fire of genius in the one; the light of sympathetic understanding in the other.

"If this car, now within three days of its completion," Orlando proceeded, " does not rise from the oval of my hangar like a bird from its nest, and after a wide and circling flight descend again into the self same spot without any swerving from its direct course, then have I failed in my endeavour and must take a back seat with the rest. But it will not fail. I'm certain of success, Oswald. All I want just now is a sympathetic helper - you, for instance; someone who will aid me with the final fittings and hold his peace to all eternity if the impossible occurs and the thing proves a failure."

"Have you such pride as that?"


"So much that you cannot face failure?"

"Not when attached to my name. You can see how I feel about that by the secrecy I have worked under. No other person living knows what I have just communicated to you. Every part shipped here came from different manufacturing firms; sometimes a part of a part was all I allowed to be made in any one place. My fame, like my ship, must rise with one bound into the air, or it must never rise at all. It was not made for petty accomplishment, or the slow plodding of commonplace minds. I must startle, or remain obscure. That is why I chose this place for my venture, and you for my helper and associate.

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"You want me to ascend with you.?"


"At the end of three days?"


"Orlando, I cannot."

"You cannot? Not strong enough yet? I'll wait then, - three days more."

"The time's too short. A month is scarcely sufficient. It would be folly, such as you never show, to trust a nerve so undermined as mine till time has restored its power. For an enterprise like this you need a man of ready strength and resources; not one whose condition you might be obliged to consider at a very critical moment."

Orlando, balked thus at the outset, showed his displeasure.

"You do not do justice to your will. It is strong enough to carry you through anything."

"It was."

"You can force it to act for you."

"I fear not, Orlando."

"I counted on you and you thwart me at the most critical moment of my life."

Oswald smiled; his whole candid and generous nature bursting into view, in one quick flash.

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