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III The Heart Of Man Anna Katharine Green

XXXIV The Hut Changes Its Name

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"Perhaps," he assented; "but you will thank me when you realise my weakness. Another man must be found - quick, deft, secret, yet honourably alive to the importance of the occasion and your rights as a great original thinker and mechanician."

"Do you know such a man?"

"I don't; but there must be many such among our workmen."

"There isn't one; and I haven't time to send to Brooklyn. I reckoned on you."

"Can you wait a month?"


"A fortnight, then?"

"No, not ten days."

Oswald looked surprised. He would like to have asked why such precipitation was necessary, but their tone in which this ultimatum was given was of that decisive character which admits of no argument. He, therefore, merely looked his query. But Orlando was not one to answer looks; besides, he had no reply for the same importunate question urged by his own good sense. He knew that he must make the attempt upon which his future rested soon, and without risk of the sapping influence of lengthened suspense and weeks of waiting. He could hold on to those two demons leagued in attack against him, for a definite seven days, but not for an indeterminate time. If he were to be saved from folly, - from himself - events must rush.

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He, therefore, repeated his no, with increased vehemence, adding, as he marked the reproach in his brother's eye, "I cannot wait. The test must be made on Saturday evening next, whatever the conditions; whatever the weather. An air-car to be serviceable must be ready to meet lightning and tempest, and what is worse, perhaps, an insufficient crew." Then rising, he exclaimed, with a determination which rendered him majestic, "If help is not forthcoming, I'll do it all myself. Nothing shall hold me back; nothing shall stop me; and when you see me and my car rise above the treetops, you'll feel that I have done what I could to make you forget - "

He did not need to continue. Oswald understood and flashed a grateful look his way before saying:

"You will make the attempt at night?"


"And on Saturday?"

"I've said it."

"I will run over in my mind the qualifications of such men as I know and acquaint you with the result to-morrow."

"There are adjustments to be made. A man of accuracy is necessary."

"I will remember."

"And he must be likable. I can do nothing with a man with whom I'm not perfectly in accord."

"I understand that."

"Good-night then." A moment of hesitancy, then, "I wish not only yourself but Miss Scott to be present at this test. Prepare her for the spectacle; but not yet, not till within an hour or two of the occasion."

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