Then Dorothy and the Lion got up, and the girl helped the Tin Woodman put the straw back into the Scarecrow again, until he was as good as ever.
Henderson stood up with his spade in his hand. “What’s that?” he said. He was deaf in one ear. Ogilvy told him all that he had seen. Henderson was a minute or so taking it in. Then he dropped his spade, snatched up his jacket, and came out into the road.
But now the sounds inside had ceased, and a thin circle of bright metal showed between the top and the body of the cylinder. Air was either entering or escaping at the rim with a thin, sizzling sound. They listened, rapped on the scaly burnt metal with a stick, and,
meeting with no response, they both concluded the man or men inside must be insensible or dead. Of course the two were quite unable to do anything.
Henderson went into the railway station at once, in order to telegraph the news to London. The newspaper articles had prepared men’s minds for the reception of the idea. I found a little crowd of perhaps twenty people surrounding the huge hole in which the cylinder lay.
Gregg the butcher and his little boy
I think they perceived that nothing was to be done for the present, and had gone away to breakfast at Henderson’s house. There were four or five boys sitting on the edge of the Pit, with their feet dangling, and amusing themselves–until I stopped them–by throwing stones at the giant mass. After I had spoken to them about it, they began playing at “touch” in and out of the group of bystanders. Among these were a couple of cyclists, a jobbing gardener I employed sometimes, a girl carrying a baby, Gregg the butcher and his little boy, and two or three loafers and golf caddies who were accustomed to hang about the railway station. There was very little talking. Few of the common people in England had anything but the vaguest astronomical ideas in those days. Most of them were staring quietly at the big table like end of the cylinder, which was still as Ogilvy and Henderson had left it.
I fancy the
popular expectation of a heap of charred corpses was disappointed at this inanimate bulk. Some went away while I was there, and other people came. I clambered into the pit and fancied I heard a faint movement under my feet.
Our prime purpose in this life is to
help others. And if you can’t help them,
at least don’t hurt them.
It was only when I got thus close to it that the strangeness of this object was at all evident to me. At the first glance it was really no more exciting than an overturned carriage or a tree blown across the road. Not so much so, indeed. It looked like a rusty gas float. It required a certain amount of scientific education to perceive that the grey scale of the Thing was no common oxide, that the yellowish-white metal that gleamed in the crack between the lid and the cylinder had an unfamiliar hue.