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In practice 3

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« on: November 01, 2022, 10:27:29 am »

Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

CHAPTER 1: The Accident

Bobby Jones teed up his ball, gave a short preliminary waggle, took the club back slowly, then brought it down and through with the rapidity of lightning.

Did the ball fly down the fairway straight and true, rising as it went and soaring over the bunker to land within an easy mashie shot of the fourteenth green?

No, it did not. Badly topped, it scudded along the ground and embedded itself firmly in the bunker!

There were no eager crowds to groan with dismay. The solitary witness of the shot manifested no surprise. And that is easily explained - for it was not the American-born master of the game who had played the shot, but merely the fourth son of the Vicar of Marchbolt - a small seaside town on the coast of Wales.

Bobby uttered a decidedly profane ejaculation.

He was an amiable-looking young man of about eight and twenty. His best friend could not have said that he was handsome, but his face was an eminently likeable one, and his eyes had the honest brown friendliness of a dog's.

"I get worse every day," he muttered dejectedly.

"You press," said his companion.

Dr. Thomas was a middle-aged man with grey hair and a red cheerful face. He himself never took a full swing. He played short straight shots down the middle, and usually beat more brilliant but more erratic players.

Bobby attacked his ball fiercely with a niblick. The third time was successful. The ball lay a short distance from the green which Dr. Thomas had reached with two creditable iron shots.

"Your hole," said Bobby.

They proceeded to the next tee.

The doctor drove first - a nice straight shot, but with no great distance about it.

Bobby sighed, teed his ball, reteed it, waggled his club a long time, took back stiffly, shut his eyes, raised his head, depressed his right shoulder, did everything he ought not to have done and hit a screamer down the middle of the course.

He drew a deep breath of satisfaction. The well-known golfer's gloom passed from his eloquent face to be succeeded by the equally well-known golfer's exultation.

"I know now what I've been doing," said Bobby - quite untruthfully.

A perfect iron shot, a little chip with a mashie and Bobby lay dead. He achieved a birdie four and Dr Thomas was reduced to one up.

Full of confidence, Bobby stepped on to the sixteenth tee.

He again did everything he should not have done, and this time no miracle occurred. A terrific, a magnificent, an almost superhuman slice happened! The ball went round at right angles.

"If that had been straight - whew!" said Dr. Thomas.

"Hell," said Bobby bitterly. "Hullo, I thought I heard a shout! Hope the ball didn't hit anyone." He peered out to the right. It was a difficult light. The sun was on the point of setting, and, looking straight into it, it was hard to see anything distinctly. Also there was a slight mist rising from the sea. The edge of the cliff was a few hundred yards away.

"The footpath runs along there," said Bobby. "But the ball can't possibly have travelled as far as that. All the same, I did think I heard a cry. Did you?" But the doctor had heard nothing.

Bobby went after his ball. He had some difficulty in finding it, but ran it to earth at last. It was practically unplayable, embedded in a furze bush. He had a couple of hacks at it, then picked it up and called out to his companion that he gave up the hole.

The doctor came over towards him since the next tee was right on the edge of the cliff. The seventeenth was Bobby's particular bugbear. At it you had to drive over a chasm. The distance was not actually so great, but the attraction of the depths below was overpowering.

They had crossed the footpath which now ran inland to their left, skirting the very edge of the cliff.

The doctor took an iron and just landed on the other side.

Bobby took a deep breath and drove. The ball scudded forward and disappeared over the lip of the abyss.

"Every single dashed time," said Bobby bitterly. "I do the same dashed idiotic thing." He skirted the chasm, peering over. Far below the sea sparkled, but not every ball was lost in its depths. The drop was sheer at the top, but below it shelved gradually.

Bobby walked slowly along. There was, he knew, one place where one could scramble down fairly easily. Caddies did so, hurling themselves over the edge and reappearing triumphant and panting with the missing ball.

Suddenly Bobby stiffened and called to his companion. "I say, doctor, come here. What do you make of that?" Some forty feet below was a dark heap of something that looked like old clothes.

The doctor caught his breath.

"By Jove," he said. "Somebody's fallen over the cliff. We must get down to him." Side by side the two men scrambled down the rock, the more athletic Bobby helping the other. At last they reached the ominous dark bundle. It was a man of about forty, and he was still breathing, though unconscious.

The doctor examined him, touching his limbs, feeling his pulse, drawing down the lids of his eyes. He knelt down beside him and completed his examination. Then he looked up at Bobby, who was standing there feeling rather sick, and slowly shook his head.

"Nothing to be done," he said. "His number's up, poor fellow. His back's broken. Well, well. I suppose he wasn't familiar with the path, and when the mist came up he walked over the edge. I've told the council more than once there ought to be a railing just here." He stood up again.

"I'll go off and get help," he said. "Make arrangements to have the body got up. It'll be dark before we know where we are. Will you stay here?"

Bobby nodded. "There's nothing to be done for him, I suppose?" he asked.

The doctor shook his head. "Nothing. It won't be long - the pulse is weakening fast. He'll last another twenty minutes at most. Just possible he may recover consciousness before the end; but very likely he won't. Still--"

"Rather," said Bobby quickly. "I'll stay. You get along. If he does come to, there's no drug or anything--" he hesitated.

The doctor shook his head.

"There'll be no pain," he said. "No pain at all." Turning away, he began rapidly to climb up the cliff again. Bobby watched him till he disappeared over the top with a wave of his hand.

Bobby moved a step or two along the narrow ledge, sat down on a projection in the rock and lit a cigarette. The business had shaken him. Up to now he had never come in contact with illness or death.

What rotten luck there was in the world! A swirl of mist on a fine evening, a false step - and life came to an end. Fine healthy-looking fellow too - probably never known a day's illness in his life. The pallor of approaching death couldn't disguise the deep tan of the skin. A man who had lived an out-of-door life - abroad, perhaps. Bobby studied him more closely - the crisp curling chestnut hair just touched with grey at the temples, the big nose, the strong jaw, the white teeth just showing through the parted lips. Then the broad shoulders and the fine sinewy hands. The legs were twisted at a curious angle.

Bobby shuddered and brought his eyes up again to the face. An attractive face, humorous, determined, resourceful. The eyes, he thought, were probably blue. And just as he reached that point in his thoughts, the eyes suddenly opened.

They <i>were</i> blue - a clear deep blue. They looked straight at Bobby. There was nothing uncertain or hazy about them. They seemed completely conscious. They were watchful and at the same time they seemed to be asking a question.

Bobby got up quickly and came towards the man. Before he got there, the other spoke. His voice was not weak - it came out clear and resonant.

"Why didn't they ask Evans?" he said.

And then a queer little shudder passed over him, the eyelids dropped, the jaw fell.

The man was dead.

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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2022, 09:22:29 pm »

Great stuff! I'd really appreciate an analysis of Joyce's Ulysses next to clarify the bafflement that has afflicted me for fifty years.

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"A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it." (Sydney Grew, 1922)
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2022, 11:43:51 am »

This chapter is used as the next stage after "in practice 2". It is not a good idea to request a summary of the text, because the programme is not yet capable of selecting the important parts. It will be better to have the programme go through the whole chapter and "understand" it all. Then we can ask questions in a similar, or in fact the same, way that we did in "in practice 2".

Progress can again be guided by the questions we ask, but never (eventually) by knowledge we do not get from the computer's answers.

There should be a setting to specify the amount of detail the computer supplies in its answers - simple answer in a few words, or further detail ("along the path"), or reasons ("because"), or "what happened then", etc.

So, our approach:

1. a human being (later the computer) should read through the entire chapter.

2. the human being (later the computer) asks a number of simple questions.

3. the human being (later the computer) will answer the questions by referring to the text that has been read, that is, we will select and computerise those portions of the work that provide answers to those questions

4. and this may or may not raise further questions or prompt comments (as an option "short answers or long answers")

Q: the principal characters - what are their names and ages?

A: BOBBY JONES teed up his ball

He was an amiable-looking young man of ABOUT EIGHT AND TWENTY.

A: DR. THOMAS was A MIDDLE-AGED MAN with grey hair and a red cheerful face.

Q: Where are they?

A: The answer is not yet definite, but possibly they are on a golf-course in


It will not become definite (change from possible to definite) until chapter three.

Q: What are they doing?

A: the ball fly down the fairway straight and true, rising as it went and soaring over the bunker to land within an easy mashie shot of the fourteenth green - they are PLAYING GOLF

Q: which of them is the better player?

A: Dr. Thomas played short straight shots down the middle, and usually beat more brilliant but more erratic players.

Q: what interrupts their game?

A: Some forty feet below was a dark heap of something that looked like old clothes.


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