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III The Heart Of Man Anna Katharine Green

XXXVI The Man Within And The Man Without

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A quick affirmative was on Sweetwater's lips but the glimpse which he got of the speaker's face glowering upon him from the shadows into which Brotherson had withdrawn, stopped its utterance, and the silence grew heavy. Though it may not have lasted long by the clock, the instant of breathless contemplation of each other's features across the intervening space was of incalculable moment to Sweetwater, and, possibly, to Brotherson. As drowning men are said to live over their whole history between their first plunge and their final rise to light and air, so through the mind of the detective rushed the memories of his past and the fast fading glories of his future; and rebelling at the subtle peril he saw in that sardonic eye, he vociferated an impulsive:

"No! I'll not -" and paused, caught by a new and irresistible sensation.

A breath of wind - the first he, had felt that night - had swept in through some crevice in the curving wall, flapping the canvas enveloping the great car. It acted like a peal to battle. After all, a man must take some risks in his life, and his heart was in this trial of a redoubtable mechanism in which he had full faith. He could not say no to the prospect of being the first to share a triumph which would send his name to the ends of the earth; and, changing the trend of his sentence, he repeated with a calmness which had the force of a great decision

I will not fail you in anything. If she rises - here his trembling hand fell on the curtain shutting off his view of the ship, "she shall take me with her, so that when she descends I may be the first to congratulate the proud inventor of such a marvel."

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So be it!" shot from the other's lips, his eyes losing their threatening look, and his whole countenance suddenly aglow with the enthusiasm of awakened genius.

Coming from the shadows, he laid his hand on the cord regulating the rise and fall of the concealing curtain.

"Here she is!" he cried and drew the cord.

The canvas shook, gathered itself into great folds and disappeared in the shadows from which he had just stepped.

The air-car stood revealed - a startling, because wholly unique, vision.

Long did Sweetwater survey it, then turning with beaming face upon the watchful inventor, he uttered a loud Hurrah.

Next moment, with everything forgotten between them save the glories of this invention, both dropped simultaneously to the floor and began that minute examination of the mechanism necessary to their mutual work.

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