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- What's Bred In the Bone - 5/56 -
stare, "to lead such a queer sort of duplicate life as Cyril and you do! Just fancy being the counterfoil to some other man's cheque! Just fancy being bound to do, and think, and speak, and wish as he does! Just fancy having to get a toothache, in the very same tooth and on the very same day! Just fancy having to consult the identical dentist that he consults simultaneously! It'd drive ME mad. Why, it's clean rideeklous!"
Guy Waring looked up hastily from the telegraph form he was already filling in, and answered, with some warmth--
"No, no; not quite so. It isn't like that. You mistake the situation. We're both cheques equally, and neither is a counterfoil. Cyril and I depend for our characters, as everybody else does, upon our father and mother and our remoter progenitors. Only being twins, and twins cast in very much the same sort of mould, we're naturally the product of the same two parents, at the same precise point in their joint life history; and therefore we're practically all but identical."
As he rose from his desk, with the telegram in his hand, the porter appeared at the door with letters. Guy seized them at once, with some little impatience. The first was from Cyril. He tore it open in haste, and skimmed it through rapidly. Montague Nevitt meanwhile sat languid in his chair, striking a pensive note now and again on his violin, with his eyes half closed and his lips parted. Guy drew a sigh of relief as he skimmed his note.
"Just what I expected," he said slowly. "Cyril couldn't have been there. He writes last night--the letter's marked 'Delayed in transmission'; no doubt by the accident--'I shall come up to town on Friday or Saturday morning to see the dentist. One of my teeth is troublesome; I suppose you've had the same; the second on the left from the one we've lost; been aching a fortnight. I want it stopped. But to-morrow I really CAN'T leave work. I've got well into the swing of such a lovely bit of fern, with Sardanapalus just gleaming like gold in the foreground.' So that settles matters somewhat. He can't have been there. Though, I think, even so, I'll just telegraph for safety's sake and make things certain."
Nevitt struck a chord twice with a sweep of his hand, listened to it dreamily for a minute with far-away eyes, and then remarked once more, without even looking up, "The same tooth lost, he says? You both had it drawn! And now another one aches in both of you alike! How very remarkable! How very, very curious!"
"Well, that WAS queer," Guy replied, relaxing into a smile, "queer even for us; I won't deny it; for it happened this way. I was over in Brussels at the time, as correspondent for the Sphere at the International Workmen's Congress, and Cyril was away by himself just then on his holiday in the Orkneys. We both got toothache in the self-same tooth on the self-same night; and we both lay awake for hours in misery. Early in the morning we each of us got up--five hundred miles away from one another, remember--and as soon as we were dressed _I_ went into a dentist's in the Montagne de la Cour, and Cyril to a local doctor's at Larwick; and we each of us had it out, instanter. The dentists both declared they could save them if we wished; but we each preferred the loss of a tooth to another such night of abject misery."
Nevitt stroked his moustache with a reflective air. This was almost miraculous. "Well, I should think," he said at last, after close reflection, "where such sympathy as that exists between two brothers, if Cyril had really been hurt in this accident, you must surely in some way have been dimly conscious of it."
Guy Waring, standing there, telegram in hand, looked down at his companion with a somewhat contemptuous smile.
"Oh dear, no," he answered, with common-sense confidence; for he loved not mysteries. "You don't believe any nonsense of that sort, do you? There's nothing in the least mystical in the kind of sympathy that exists between Cyril and myself. It's all purely physical. We're very like one another. But that's all. There's none of the Corsican Brothers sort of hocus-pocus about us in any way. The whole thing is a simple caste of natural causation."
"Then you don't believe in brain-waves?" Nevitt suggested, with a gracefully appropriate undulation of his small white hand.
Guy laughed incredulously. "All rubbish, my dear fellow," he answered, "all utter rubbish. If any man knows, it's myself and Cyril. We're as near one another as any two men on earth could possibly be; but when we want to communicate our ideas, each to each, we have to speak or write, just like the rest of you. Every man is like a clock wound up to strike certain hours. Accidents may happen, events may intervene, the clock may get smashed, and all may be prevented. But, bar accidents, it'll strike all right, under ordinary circumstances, when the hour arrives for it. Well, Cyril and I, as I always say, are like two clocks wound up at the same time to strike together, and we strike with very unusual regularity. But that's the whole mystery. If _I_ get smashed by accident, there's no reason on earth why Cyril shouldn't run on for years yet as usual; and if Cyril got smashed, there's no reason on earth why I should ever know anything about it except from the newspapers."
INSIDE THE TUNNEL.
And, indeed, if brain-waves had been in question at all, they ought, without a doubt, to have informed Guy Waring that at the very moment when he was going out to send off his telegram, his brother Cyril was sitting disconsolate, with dark blue lips and swollen eyelids, on the footboard of the railway carriage in the Lavington tunnel. Cyril was worn out with digging by this time, for he had done his best once more to clear away the sand towards the front of the train in the vague hope that he might succeed in letting in a little more air to their narrow prison through the chinks and interstices of the fallen sandstone. Besides, a man in an emergency must do something, if only to justify his claim to manliness--especially when a lady is looking on at his efforts.
So Cyril Waring had toiled and moiled in that deadly atmosphere for some hours in vain, and now sat, wearied out and faint from foul vapours, by Elma's side on the damp, cold footboard. By this time the air had almost failed them. They gasped for breath, their heads swam vaguely. A terrible weight seemed to oppress their bosoms. Even the lamps in the carriages flickered low and burned blue. The atmosphere of the tunnel, loaded from the very beginning with sulphurous smoke, was now all but exhausted. Death stared them in the face without hope of respite--a ghastly, slow death by gradual stifling.
"You MUST take a little water," Elma murmured, pouring out the last few drops for him into the tin cup--for Cyril had brought a small bottleful that morning for his painting, as well as a packet of sandwiches for lunch. "You're dreadfully tired. I can see your lips are parched and dry with digging."
She was deathly pale herself, and her own eyes were livid, for by this time she had fairly given up all hope of rescue; and, besides, the air in the tunnel was so foul and stupefying, she could hardly speak; indeed, her tongue clung to her palate. But she poured out the last few drops into the cup for Cyril and held them up imploringly, with a gesture of supplication. These two were no strangers to one another now. They had begun to know each other well in those twelve long hours of deadly peril shared in common.
Cyril waved the cup aside with a firm air of dissent.
"No, no," he said, faintly, "you must drink it yourself. Your need is greater far than mine."
Elma tried to put it away in turn, but Cyril would not allow her. So she moistened her mouth with those scanty last drops, and turned towards him gratefully.
"There's no hope left now," she said, in a very resigned voice. "We must make up our minds to die where we stand. But I thank you, oh, I thank you so much, so earnestly."
Cyril, for his part, could hardly find breath to speak.
"Thank you," he gasped out, in one last despairing effort. "Things look very black; but while there's life there's hope. They may even still, perhaps, come up with us."
As he spoke, a sound broke unexpectedly on the silence of their prison. A dull thud seemed to make itself faintly heard from beyond the thick wall of sand that cut them off from the daylight. Cyril stared with surprise. It was a noise like a pick-axe. Stooping hastily down, he laid his ear against the rail beside the shattered carriage.
"They're digging!" he cried earnestly, finding words in his joy. "They're digging to reach us! I can hear them! I can hear them!"
Elma glanced up at him with a certain tinge of half-incredulous surprise.
"Yes, they're digging, of course," she said quickly. "I knew they'd dig for us, naturally, as soon as they missed us. But how far off are they yet? That's the real question. Will they reach us in time? Are they near or distant?"
Cyril knelt down on the ground as before, in an agony of suspense, and struck the rail three times distinctly with his walking-stick. Then he put his ear to it and listened, and waited. In less than half a minute three answering knocks rang, dim but unmistakable, along the buried rail. He could even feel the vibration on the iron with his face.
"They hear us! They hear us!" he cried once more, in a tremor of excitement. "I don't think they're far off. They're coming rapidly towards us."
At the words Elma rose from her seat, still paler than ever, but strangely resolute, and took the stick from his hand with a gesture of despair. She was almost stifled. But. she raised it with method. Knocking the rail twice, she bent down her head and listened in
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