THE MAN AT UXBRIDGE ROAD.
At the corner a happy thought struck me: the landlord of the “Dog and Measles” kept a motor car. I found him in his bar and killed him. Then I broke open the stable and let loose the motor car. It was very restive, and I had to pat it. “Goo’ Tea Rose,” I said soothingly, “goo’ Rockefeller, then.” It became quiet, and I struck a match and started the paraffinalia, and in a moment we were under weigh.
I am not an expert motist, although at school I was a fairly good hoop-driver, and the pedestrians I met and overtook had a bad time. One man said, as he bound up a punctured thigh, that the Heat Ray of the Martians was nothing compared with me. I was moting towards Leatherhead, where my cousin lived, when the streak of light caused by the Third Crinoline curdled the paraffin tank. Vain was it to throw water on the troubled oil; the mischief was done. Meanwhile a storm broke. The lightning flashed, the rain beat against my face, the night was exceptionally dark, and to add to my difficulties the motor took the wick between its teeth and fairly bolted.
No one who has never seen an automobile during a spasm of motor ataxy can have any idea of what I suffered. I held the middle of the way for a few yards, but just opposite Uxbridge Road Station I turned the wheel hard a-port, and the motor car overturned. Two men sprang from nowhere, as men will, and sat on its occiput, while I crawled into Uxbridge Road Station and painfully descended the stairs.
I found the platform empty save for a colony of sturdy little newsboys, whose stalwart determination to live filled me with admiration, which I was enjoying until a curious sibillation beneath the bookstall stirred me with panic.
Suddenly, from under a bundle of British Weeklies, there emerged a head, and gradually a man crawled out. It was the Artilleryman.
“I’m burning hot,” he said; “it’s a touch of—what is it?—erethism.”
His voice was hoarse, and his Remarks, like the Man of Kent’s, were Rambling.
“Where do you come from?” he said.
“I come from Woking,” I replied, “and my nature is Wobbly. I love my love with a W because she is Woluptuous. I took her to the sign of the Wombat and read her The War of the Worlds, and treated her to Winkles, Winolia and Wimbos. Her name is Wenus, and she comes from the Milky Way.”
He looked at me doubtfully, then shot out a pointed tongue.
“It is you,” he said, “the man from Woking. The Johnny what writes for Nature. By the way,” he interjected, “don’t you think some of your stuff is too—what is it?—esoteric? The man,” he continued, “as killed the curate in the last book. By the way, it was you as killed the curate?”
“Artilleryman,” I replied, “I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my little meat-chopper. And you, I presume, are the Artilleryman who attended my lectures on the Eroticism of the Elasmobranch?”