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Kipling-Steam_Tactics

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He improvised on the keys — the snapping levers and quivering accelerators—marvellous variations, so that our progress was sometimes a fugue and sometimes a barndance, varied on open greens by the weaving of fairy rings. When I protested, all that he would say was: " I'll hypnotise the fowl! I'll dazzle the rooster! " or other words equally futile. And she—oh! that I could do her justice!—she turned her broad black bows to the westering sun, and lifted us high upon hills that we might see and rejoice with her. She whooped into still hollows of elm and Sussex weed; she devoured infinite perspectives of grey split-oak park palings; she surged through forgotten hamlets, whose one street gave back, re-duplicated, the clatter of her exhaust, and, tireless, she repeated the motions. Over naked uplands she droned like a homing bee, her shadow lengthening in the sun that she chased to his lair. She nosed up unparochial byways and accommodationroads of the least accommodation, and put old scarred turf or new-raised molehills under her most marvellous springs with never a jar. And since the King's highway is used for every purpose save traffic, in mid-career she stepped aside for, or flung amazing loops about, the brainless driver, the driverless horse, the drunken carrier, the engaged couple, the female student of the bicycle and her staggering instructor, the pig, the perambulator, and the infant school (where that disembogued on cross-roads), with the grace of Lottie Venne and the lithe abandon of all the Vokes family. But at heart she was ever Judic as I remember that Judic long ago- Judic clad in bourgeois black from wrist to ankle, achieving marvellous improprieties. We were all silent— Hinchcliff and Pyecroft through professional appreciation ; I with a layman's delight in the expert; and our guest because of fear. At the edge of the evening she smelt the sea to southward and sheered thither like the strong-winged albatross, to circle enormously amid green flats fringed by martello towers. " Ain't that Eastbourne yonder?" said our guest, reviving. " I've a aunt there could identify me." " Don't worry her for a little thing like that," said Pyecroft; and ere he had ceased to praise family love and domestic service, the Downs rose between us and the sea, and the Long Man of Hillingdon lay out upon the . turf. " Trevington —up left—is a fairly isolated little dorp," I said, for I was beginning to feel hungry. " No," said Kysh. " He'd get a lift to the railway in no time . . . Besides, I'm enjoying myself . . . . Three pounds eighteen and sixpence. Dam' swindle!" I take it one of his more recent fines was rankling in Kysh's brain; but he drove like the Archangel of the Twilight. About the longitude of Cassocks, Hinchcliff yawned. " Aren't we ever goin' to maroon the blighter? I'm hungry, too." " The commodore wants his money back," I answered. " If he drives like this habitual, there must be a tidyish little lump owin' him," said Pyecroft. " Well, I'm agreeable." " I didn't know it could be done. S'welp me, I didn't," our guest murmured. " But you will," said Kysh. And that was the first and last time he addressed the man. We ran through Penfield Green, half stupe fled with open air, drugged with the relentless boom of the Octopod, and extinct with famine. " I used to shoot about here," said Kysh, a few miles further on. " Open that gate, please," and he slowed as the sun touched the sky-line. At this point we left metalled roads and bucked vigorously amid ditches and under trees for twenty minutes. " Only cross-country car on the market," he said, as we wheeled into a straw-yard where a lone bull bellowed defiance to our growlings. " Open that gate, please. I hope the cattle-bridge will stand up." " I've took a few risks in my time," said Pyecroft, as timbers cracked beneath us and


Kipling-Steam_Tactics
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