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|The Innocence of Father Brown||Gilbert K. Chesterton|
The Wrong Shape
|Page 5 of 14||
"Who is that?" cried Father Brown, stepping back with a hissing intake of his breath.
"Oh, it is only that Hindoo humbug," growled Harris; "but I don't know what the deuce he's doing here."
"It looks like hypnotism," said Flambeau, biting his black moustache.
"Why are you unmedical fellows always talking bosh about hypnotism?" cried the doctor. "It looks a deal more like burglary."
"Well, we will speak to it, at any rate," said Flambeau, who was always for action. One long stride took him to the place where the Indian stood. Bowing from his great height, which overtopped even the Oriental's, he said with placid impudence:
"Good evening, sir. Do you want anything?"
Quite slowly, like a great ship turning into a harbour, the great yellow face turned, and looked at last over its white shoulder. They were startled to see that its yellow eyelids were quite sealed, as in sleep. "Thank you," said the face in excellent English. "I want nothing." Then, half opening the lids, so as to show a slit of opalescent eyeball, he repeated, "I want nothing." Then he opened his eyes wide with a startling stare, said, "I want nothing," and went rustling away into the rapidly darkening garden.
"The Christian is more modest," muttered Father Brown; "he wants something."
"What on earth was he doing?" asked Flambeau, knitting his black brows and lowering his voice.
"I should like to talk to you later," said Father Brown.
The sunlight was still a reality, but it was the red light of evening, and the bulk of the garden trees and bushes grew blacker and blacker against it. They turned round the end of the conservatory, and walked in silence down the other side to get round to the front door. As they went they seemed to wake something, as one startles a bird, in the deeper corner between the study and the main building; and again they saw the white-robed fakir slide out of the shadow, and slip round towards the front door. To their surprise, however, he had not been alone. They found themselves abruptly pulled up and forced to banish their bewilderment by the appearance of Mrs. Quinton, with her heavy golden hair and square pale face, advancing on them out of the twilight. She looked a little stern, but was entirely courteous.
"Good evening, Dr. Harris," was all she said.
"Good evening, Mrs. Quinton," said the little doctor heartily. "I am just going to give your husband his sleeping draught."
"Yes," she said in a clear voice. "I think it is quite time." And she smiled at them, and went sweeping into the house.
"That woman's over-driven," said Father Brown; "that's the kind of woman that does her duty for twenty years, and then does something dreadful."
The little doctor looked at him for the first time with an eye of interest. "Did you ever study medicine?" he asked.
"You have to know something of the mind as well as the body," answered the priest; "we have to know something of the body as well as the mind."
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|The Innocence of Father Brown
Gilbert K. Chesterton
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