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کتاب The Wheels of Chance

کتاب The Wheels of Chance

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درباره کتاب The Wheels of Chance

Although H. G. Wells is best known for his science fiction stories he wrote in many genres including history, and social commentaries. The Wheels of Chance was written when the bicycle was beginning to become very popular (1890 -1905) and saw bicycles becoming a part of social changes in England. People could move quickly and rigid class structure was beginning to crumble. This is the story of a down-on-his-luck draper's assistant who takes a second-hand bicycle on a tour through the English countryside. He meets a young woman on the run from her seducer in addition to a string of other amusing characters..

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Chapter 2 The Pricipal Character in the Story (Continued)

But enough of these revelations. The central figure of our story is now going along behind the counter, a draper indeed, with your purchases in his arms, to the warehouse, where the various articles you have selected will presently be packed by the senior porter and sent to you. Returning thence to his particular place, he lays hands on a folded piece of gingham, and gripping the corners of the folds in his hands, begins to straighten them punctiliously. Near him is an apprentice, apprenticed to the same high calling of draper's assistant, a ruddy, red–haired lad in a very short tailless black coat and a very high collar, who is deliberately unfolding and refolding some patterns of cretonne. By twenty–one he too may hope to be a full–blown assistant, even as Mr. Hoopdriver. Prints depend from the brass rails above them, behind are fixtures full of white packages containing, as inscriptions testify, Lino, Hd Bk, and Mull. You might imagine to see them that the two were both intent upon nothing but smoothness of textile and rectitude of fold. But to tell the truth, neither is thinking of the mechanical duties in hand. The assistant is dreaming of the delicious time–only four hours off now—when he will resume the tale of his bruises and abrasions. The apprentice is nearer the long long thoughts of boyhood, and his imagination rides cap–a–pie through the chambers of his brain, seeking some knightly quest in honour of that Fair Lady, the last but one of the girl apprentices to the dress–making upstairs. He inclines rather to street fighting against revolutionaries–because then she could see him from the window.

Jerking them back to the present comes the puffy little shop–walker, with a paper in his hand. The apprentice becomes extremely active. The shopwalker eyes the goods in hand. “Hoopdriver,” he says, “how's that line of g–sez–x ginghams ? ”

Hoopdriver returns from an imaginary triumph over the uncertainties of dismounting. “They're going fairly well, sir. But the larger checks seem hanging.”

The shop–walker brings up parallel to the counter. “Any particular time when you want your holidays?” he asks.

Hoopdriver pulls at his skimpy moustache. “No–Don't want them too late, sir, of course.”

“How about this day week?”

Hoopdriver becomes rigidly meditative, gripping the corners of the gingham folds in his hands. His face is eloquent of conflicting considerations. Can he learn it in a week? That's the question. Otherwise Briggs will get next week, and he will have to wait until September–when the weather is often uncertain. He is naturally of a sanguine disposition. All drapers have to be, or else they could never have the faith they show in the beauty, washability, and unfading excellence of the goods they sell you. The decision comes at last. “That'll do me very well,” said Mr. Hoopdriver, terminating the pause.

The die is cast.

The shop–walker makes a note of it and goes on to Briggs in the “dresses,” the next in the strict scale of precedence of the Drapery Emporium. Mr. Hoopdriver in alternating spasms anon straightens his gingham and anon becomes meditative, with his tongue in the hollow of his decaying wisdom tooth.

Chapter 3 The Pricipal Character in the Story (Continued)

At supper that night, holiday talk held undisputed sway. Mr. Pritchard spoke of “Scotland,” Miss Isaacs clamoured of Bettws–y–Coed, Mr. Judson displayed a proprietary interest in the Norfolk Broads. “I?” said Hoopdriver when the question came to him. “Why, cycling, of course.”

“You're never going to ride that dreadful machine of yours, day after day?” said Miss Howe of the Costume Department.

“I am,” said Hoopdriver as calmly as possible, pulling at the insufficient moustache. “I'm going for a Cycling Tour. Along the South Coast.”

“Well, all I hope, Mr. Hoopdriver, is that you'll get fine weather,” said Miss Howe. “And not come any nasty croppers.”

“And done forget some tinscher of arnica in yer bag,” said the junior apprentice in the very high collar. (He had witnessed one of the lessons at the top of Putney Hill.)

“You stow it,” said Mr. Hoopdriver, looking hard and threateningly at the junior apprentice, and suddenly adding in a tone of bitter contempt,— “ Jampot.”

“I'm getting fairly safe upon it now,” he told Miss Howe.

At other times Hoopdriver might have further resented the satirical efforts of the apprentice, but his mind was too full of the projected Tour to admit any petty delicacies of dignity. He left the supper table early, so that he might put in a good hour at the desperate gymnastics up the Roehampton Road before it would be time to come back for locking up. When the gas was turned off for the night he was sitting on the edge of his bed, rubbing arnica into his knee—a new and very big place—and studying a Road Map of the South of England. Briggs of the “dresses,” who shared the room with him, was sitting up in bed and trying to smoke in the dark. Briggs had never been on a cycle in his life, but he felt Hoopdriver's inexperience and offered such advice as occurred to him.

“Have the machine thoroughly well oiled,” said Briggs, “carry one or two lemons with you, don't tear yourself to death the first day, and sit upright. Never lose control of the machine, and always sound the bell on every possible opportunity. You mind those things, and nothing very much can't happen to you, Hoopdriver—you take my word.”

He would lapse into silence for a minute, save perhaps for a curse or so at his pipe, and then break out with an entirely different set of tips.

“Avoid running over dogs, Hoopdriver, whatever you do. It's one of the worst things you can do to run over a dog. Never let the machine buckle—there was a man killed only the other day through his wheel buckling—don't scorch, don't ride on the foot–path, keep your own side of the road, and if you see a tram–line, go round the corner at once, and hurry off into the next county—and always light up before dark. You mind just a few little things like that, Hoopdriver, and nothing much can't happen to you—you take my word.”

“Right you are!” said Hoopdriver. “Good–night, old man.”

“Good–night,” said Briggs, and there was silence for a space, save for the succulent respiration of the pipe. Hoopdriver rode off into Dreamland on his machine, and was scarcely there before he was pitched back into the world of sense again.—Something— what was it ?

“Never oil the steering. It's fatal,” a voice that came from round a fitful glow of light, was saying. “And clean the chain daily with black–lead. You mind just a few little things like that—”

“Lord love us!” said Hoopdriver, and pulled the bedclothes over his ears.

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