The Parts Men Play eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 299 pages of information about The Parts Men Play.

As a weary traveller drinks thirstily at a pool, Selwyn wandered about the streets trembling with emotion in the breathless ecstasy of the night.  All day the conjured picture of the German boy, guilty of no crime save blind devotion to his Fatherland, had haunted him like the eyes of a murdered man.  It had robbed him of the power of constructive thought, and stopped his writing with the decisiveness of a sword descending on his wrist; it had made the food on his table tasteless, and given him a dread of the solitude of his rooms.

With nerves that contracted at every untoward sound, he had gone out at dark, and gradually the peacefulness of the night had soothed and calmed him as the dew of dusk cools the earth after the heat of a summer’s day.  The familiar strains of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ came to his mind, and as he walked he idly traced the different movements of the music in the moods of the evening’s witchery.

His steps, like his thoughts, pursued a tangled course, and led him into the prosaic brick-and-mortar monotony of Bayswater, but the moon was lavish in her generosity, and strewed his path with glinting strands of light.  He paused in a quiet square to get his bearings.  There was the heavy smell of fallen leaves from the gardens on the other side of the railing.

His mind was still playing the slow minor theme of the sonata’s opening movement.

Suddenly the air was shattered with the noise of warning guns.  As if released by a single switch, a dozen searchlights sprang into the sky, crossing and blending in a swerving glare.  There was the piercing warning of bugles and the heavy booming of maroons.

Dazed by the swiftness of it all, Selwyn leaned against the low iron fence.  A Boy Scout whirled past on a bicycle, his bugle hoarse and discordant; an old woman went whimpering by, hatless, with a protesting child in her arms; an ambulance, clanging its gong, rounded the corner with reckless speed; a mightier searchlight than any of the rest swept the sky in great circles.

It seemed only a matter of seconds, though in reality much longer, when the American heard a faint crunching sound in the distance, followed by a deep, sullen thud.  In rapid succession came three more, and the defence guns of London burst into action, changing the night into Bedlam.

Still motionless, he listened, awe-struck, to the din of the weird battle with an unseen foe, when the cough of exploding shells in the air grew appreciably louder.  Raising a whirlwind of dust, a motor-car swerved dangerously into the square, and with a roar sped up the road, carrying to their aerodrome three British airmen.  As if driven by a gale, the battle of the clouds drew nearer and nearer, the whine and barking of the shells like a pack of dogs trying to repel some monster of the jungle.

There was a deafening crash.

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Project Gutenberg
The Parts Men Play from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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