There was another pause.
“We might be in the Stone Age,” said the hypnotist. “Violence! Struggle!”
“In the Stone Age no man dared to come between man and woman,” said Denton.
The hypnotist thought again.
“What are you going to do?” he asked.
“While you were insensible I found the girl’s address on your tablets. I did not know it before. I telephoned. She will be here soon. Then—”
“She will bring her chaperone.”
“That is all right.”
“But what—? I don’t see. What do you mean to do?”
“I looked about for a weapon also. It is an astonishing thing how few weapons there are nowadays. If you consider that in the Stone Age men owned scarcely anything but weapons. I hit at last upon this lamp. I have wrenched off the wires and things, and I hold it so.” He extended it over the hypnotist’s shoulders. “With that I can quite easily smash your skull. I will—unless you do as I tell you.”
“Violence is no remedy,” said the hypnotist, quoting from the “Modern Man’s Book of Moral Maxims.”
“It’s an undesirable disease,” said Denton.
“You will tell that chaperone you are going to order the girl to marry that knobby little brute with the red hair and ferrety eyes. I believe that’s how things stand?”
“Yes—that’s how things stand.”
“And, pretending to do that, you will restore her memory of me.”
“Look here! If I cannot have that girl I would rather die than not. I don’t propose to respect your little fancies. If anything goes wrong you shall not live five minutes. This is a rude makeshift of a weapon, and it may quite conceivably be painful to kill you. But I will. It is unusual, I know, nowadays to do things like this—mainly because there is so little in life that is worth being violent about.”
“The chaperone will see you directly she comes—”
“I shall stand in that recess. Behind you.”
The hypnotist thought. “You are a determined young man,” he said, “and only half civilised. I have tried to do my duty to my client, but in this affair you seem likely to get your own way… .”
“You mean to deal straightly.”
“I’m not going to risk having my brains scattered in a petty affair like this.”
“There is nothing a hypnotist or doctor hates so much as a scandal. I at least am no savage. I am annoyed… . But in a day or so I shall bear no malice… .”
“Thank you. And now that we understand each other, there is no necessity to keep you sitting any longer on the floor.”
THE VACANT COUNTRY
The world, they say, changed more between the year 1800 and the year 1900 than it had done in the previous five