It was that, he now discovered, which occupied him, rather than the past. A new need had become apparent, a restless desire analogous to the urge of seeking youth. Jasper Penny was aware of a great dissatisfaction, a vast emptiness, in his existence; he had a feeling of waste growing out of the sense of hurrying years. Somehow, obscurely, he had been cheated.
Instantly a crowd gathered about it, and Barbara became an embarrassed but amused centre of criticism and admiration. It became dark. The streets were less crowded. There were fewer lights. There was an unpleasant smell of old fish and garbage. The people Barbara now observed seemed each and all intent upon something or other. They were not merely loafing in the pure evening air, but hurrying.
A few laborers had already finished their lunch and were strolling aimlessly about, their open hands slapping their thighs, heavy from eating, slow and peaceful amid the hurrying crowd. A group formed in front of the door of l'Assommoir. "Say, Bibi-the-Smoker," demanded a hoarse voice, "aren't you going to buy us a round of vitriol?" Five laborers came in and stood by the bar. "Ah!
Number Three, a veteran of the war days, let drive with his fifty calibre Springfield, the gun of the day, and sent up a yell for "The Guard!" "Join your companies, men," said the general, in his placid way, whereat most of them went with a rush. "The north side first, Bonner," he added, as the captain came hurrying to his chief. "They've sneaked up on the herd guard, I fancy.
The song of the bobolinks dropped from above, and the microphonic tune of the sparrows came up from the grass, sky and earth keeping holiday together. Almost I could have believed myself in Eden. But, alas, even the birds themselves were long since shut out of that garden of innocence, and as I started back toward the village a crow went hurrying past me, with a kingbird in hot pursuit.
It brought clouds, too; pale, swift, hurrying clouds, that blotted heaven and shed gloom upon the earth. He scrambled up among the hazelled rubbish heaps that surround the caldron of the quarry, and lay flat upon the stones.
He was in motion now, forcing people to the right and left and running down the field. It seemed miles to the other end, and he was gratefully conscious that others nearer were hurrying to the rescue, if rescue it might be called. The aeroplane had dropped like a stone from a height that forbade hope of escape.
The laughter of all three children increased when the cows and sheep, in mid-afternoon, came hurrying to the barns, as if they, too, were afraid of a sprinkle. Mrs. Jackson gave a troubled glance skyward at the on-coming storm and then at the trembling cattle, which had doubtless been frightened by something worse.
Hurrying as fast as he dared with the risk of falling upon him, he found the marquis lying amongst the stones in the ground entrance, apparently unable to move, and white with pain. Presently, however, he got up, swore a good deal and limped swearing into the house. The doctor, who was sent for instantly, pronounced the knee-cap injured, and applied leeches.
Beholding him in the trim described at the conclusion of the last chapter, he stood aghast in wonder and consternation. 'Don't be alarmed, said Nicholas, hurrying him back into the room. 'There is no harm done, beyond what a basin of water can repair. 'No harm! cried Newman, passing his hands hastily over the back and arms of Nicholas, as if to assure himself that he had broken no bones.