The Ball and the Cross eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 295 pages of information about The Ball and the Cross.

“Mr. Turnbull,” he said, “I have nothing to add to what I have said before.  It is strongly borne in upon me that you and I, the sole occupants of this runaway cab, are at this moment the two most important people in London, possibly in Europe.  I have been looking at all the streets as we went past, I have been looking at all the shops as we went past, I have been looking at all the churches as we went past.  At first, I felt a little dazed with the vastness of it all.  I could not understand what it all meant.  But now I know exactly what it all means.  It means us.  This whole civilization is only a dream.  You and I are the realities.”

“Religious symbolism,” said Mr. Turnbull, through the trap, “does not, as you are probably aware, appeal ordinarily to thinkers of the school to which I belong.  But in symbolism as you use it in this instance, I must, I think, concede a certain truth.  We must fight this thing out somewhere; because, as you truly say, we have found each other’s reality.  We must kill each other—­or convert each other.  I used to think all Christians were hypocrites, and I felt quite mildly towards them really.  But I know you are sincere—­and my soul is mad against you.  In the same way you used, I suppose, to think that all atheists thought atheism would leave them free for immorality—­and yet in your heart you tolerated them entirely.  Now you know that I am an honest man, and you are mad against me, as I am against you.  Yes, that’s it.  You can’t be angry with bad men.  But a good man in the wrong—­why one thirsts for his blood.  Yes, you open for me a vista of thought.”

“Don’t run into anything,” said Evan, immovably.

“There’s something in that view of yours, too,” said Turnbull, and shut down the trap.

They sped on through shining streets that shot by them like arrows.  Mr. Turnbull had evidently a great deal of unused practical talent which was unrolling itself in this ridiculous adventure.  They had got away with such stunning promptitude that the police chase had in all probability not even properly begun.  But in case it had, the amateur cabman chose his dizzy course through London with a strange dexterity.  He did not do what would have first occurred to any ordinary outsider desiring to destroy his tracks.  He did not cut into by-ways or twist his way through mean streets.  His amateur common sense told him that it was precisely the poor street, the side street, that would be likely to remember and report the passing of a hansom cab, like the passing of a royal procession.  He kept chiefly to the great roads, so full of hansoms that a wilder pair than they might easily have passed in the press.  In one of the quieter streets Evan put on his boots.

Towards the top of Albany Street the singular cabman again opened the trap.

“Mr. MacIan,” he said, “I understand that we have now definitely settled that in the conventional language honour is not satisfied.  Our action must at least go further than it has gone under recent interrupted conditions.  That, I believe, is understood.”

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The Ball and the Cross from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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