innumerable circles he was describing per second, he thought; for thought is wonderful—sometimes as sluggish as flowing pitch, sometimes as instantaneous as light. He thought in a second, and willed. “Let me come down safe and sound. Whatever else happens, let me down safe and sound.”
He willed it only just in time, for his clothes, heated by his rapid flight through the air, were already beginning to singe. He came down with a forcible, but by no means injurious bump in what appeared to be a mound of fresh-turned earth. A large mass of metal and masonry, extraordinarily like the clock-tower in the middle of the market-square, hit the earth near him, ricochetted over him, and flew into stonework, bricks, and masonry, like a bursting bomb. A hurtling cow hit one of the larger blocks and smashed like an egg. There was a crash that made all the most violent crashes of his past life seem like the sound of falling dust, and this was followed by a descending series of lesser crashes. A vast wind roared throughout earth and heaven, so that he could scarcely lift his head to look. For a while he was too breathless and astonished even to see where he was or what had happened. And his first movement was to feel his head and reassure himself that his streaming hair was still his own.
“Lord!” gasped Mr. Fotheringay, scarce able to speak for the gale, “I’ve had a squeak! What’s gone wrong? Storms and thunder. And only a minute ago a fine night. It’s Maydig set me on to this sort of thing. What a wind! If I go on fooling in this way I’m bound to have a thundering accident!…
“What a confounded mess everything’s in!”
He looked about him so far as his flapping jacket would permit. The appearance of things was really extremely strange. “The sky’s all right anyhow,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “And that’s about all that is all right. And even there it looks like a terrific gale coming up. But there’s the moon overhead. Just as it was just now. Bright as midday. But as for the rest—Where’s the village? Where’s—where’s anything? And what on earth set this wind a-blowing? I didn’t order no wind.”
Mr. Fotheringay struggled to get to his feet in vain, and after one failure, remained on all fours, holding on. He surveyed the moonlit world to leeward, with the tails of his jacket streaming over his head. “There’s something seriously wrong,” said Mr. Fotheringay. “And what it is—goodness knows.”