BOOK ONE: THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 3: ON HORSELL COMMON
Going to the edge of the pit, I found it occupied by a
group of about half a dozen men--Henderson, Ogilvy, and
a tall, fair-haired man that I afterwards learned was Stent,
the Astronomer Royal, with several workmen wielding spades
and pickaxes. Stent was giving directions in a clear, high-pitched
voice. He was standing on the cylinder, which was
now evidently much cooler; his face was crimson and streaming with perspiration, and something seemed to have irritated
A large portion of the cylinder had been uncovered,
though its lower end was still embedded. As soon as Ogilvy
saw me among the staring crowd on the edge of the pit
he called to me to come down, and asked me if I would
mind going over to see Lord Hilton, the lord of the manor.
The growing crowd, he said, was becoming a serious
impediment to their excavations, especially the boys. They
wanted a light railing put up, and help to keep the people
back. He told me that a faint stirring was occasionally still
audible within the case, but that the workmen had failed
to unscrew the top, as it afforded no grip to them. The
case appeared to be enormously thick, and it was possible
that the faint sounds we heard represented a noisy tumult
in the interior.
I was very glad to do as he asked, and so become one of
the privileged spectators within the contemplated enclosure.
I failed to find Lord Hilton at his house, but I was told
he was expected from London by the six o'clock train from
Waterloo; and as it was then about a quarter past five, I
went home, had some tea, and walked up to the station
to waylay him.