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The Wonderful Visit
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By the Same Author
The Time Machine
DAILY CHRONICLE.--"Grips the imagination as it is only gripped by genuinely imaginative work.... A strikingly original performance."
SATURDAY REVIEW.--"A book of remarkable power and imagination, and a work of distinct and individual merit."
SPECTATOR.--"Mr Wells' fanciful and lively dream is well worth reading."
NATIONAL OBSERVER.--"A _tour de force_.... A fine piece of literature, strongly imagined, almost perfectly expressed."
GLASGOW HERALD.--"One of the best pieces of work I have read for many a day."
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Macmillan's Colonial Library
The Wonderful Visit
by H. G. Wells
Author of the "Time Machine"
LondonMacmillan and Co.and New York1895
_All rights reserved_
This Edition is intended for circulation only in India and the BritishColonies
TO THE MEMORY OF MY DEAR FRIEND, WALTER LOW.
THE NIGHT OF THE STRANGE BIRD 1
THE COMING OF THE STRANGE BIRD 4
THE HUNTING OF THE STRANGE BIRD 8
THE VICAR AND THE ANGEL 17
PARENTHESIS ON ANGELS 35
AT THE VICARAGE 38
THE MAN OF SCIENCE 50
THE CURATE 61
AFTER DINNER 76
THE VIOLIN 101
THE ANGEL EXPLORES THE VILLAGE 106
LADY HAMMERGALLOW'S VIEW 127
FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE ANGEL IN THE VILLAGE 135
MRS JEHORAM'S BREADTH OF VIEW 148
A TRIVIAL INCIDENT 154
THE WARP AND THE WOOF OF THINGS 156
THE ANGEL'S DEBUT 160
THE TROUBLE OF THE BARBED WIRE 186
DOCTOR CRUMP ACTS 199
SIR JOHN GOTCH ACTS 208
THE SEA CLIFF 213
MRS HINIJER ACTS 217
THE ANGEL IN TROUBLE 221
THE LAST DAY OF THE VISIT 229
THE EPILOGUE 248
THE WONDERFUL VISIT.
THE NIGHT OF THE STRANGE BIRD.
On the Night of the Strange Bird, many people at Sidderton (and somenearer) saw a Glare on the Sidderford moor. But no one in Sidderford sawit, for most of Sidderford was abed.
All day the wind had been rising, so that the larks on the moorchirruped fitfully near the ground, or rose only to be driven likeleaves before the wind. The sun set in a bloody welter of clouds, andthe moon was hidden. The glare, they say, was golden like a beam shiningout of the sky, not a uniform blaze, but broken all over by curvingflashes like the waving of swords. It lasted but a moment and left thenight dark and obscure. There were letters about it in _Nature_, and arough drawing that no one thought very like. (You may see it foryourself--the drawing that was unlike the glare--on page 42 of Vol.cclx. of that publication.)
None in Sidderford saw the light, but Annie, Hooker Durgan's wife, waslying awake, and she saw the reflection of it--a flickering tongue ofgold--dancing on the wall.
She, too, was one of those who heard the sound. The others who heard thesound were Lumpy Durgan, the half-wit, and Amory's mother. They said itwas a sound like children singing and a throbbing of harp strings,carried on a rush of notes like that which sometimes comes from anorgan. It began and ended like the opening and shutting of a door, andbefore and after they heard nothing but the night wind howling over themoor and the noise of the caves under Sidderford cliff. Amory's mothersaid she wanted to cry when she heard it, but Lumpy was only sorry hecould hear no more.
That is as much as anyone can tell you of the glare upon SidderfordMoor and the alleged music therewith. And whether these had any realconnexion with the Strange Bird whose history follows, is more than Ican say. But I set it down here for reasons that will be more apparentas the story proceeds.
THE COMING OF THE STRANGE BIRD.
Sandy Bright was coming down the road from Spinner's carrying a side ofbacon he had taken in exchange for a clock. He saw nothing of the lightbut he heard and saw the Strange Bird. He suddenly heard a flapping anda voice like a woman wailing, and being a nervous man and all alone, hewas alarmed forthwith, and turning (all a-tremble) saw something largeand black against the dim darkness of the cedars up the hill. It seemedto be coming right down upon him, and incontinently he dropped his baconand set off running, only to fall headlong.
He tried in vain--such was his state of mind--to remember the beginningof the Lord's Prayer. The strange bird flapped over him, somethinglarger than himself, with a vast spread of wings, and, as he thought,black. He screamed and gave himself up for lost. Then it went past him,sailing down the hill, and, soaring over the vicarage, vanished into thehazy valley towards Sidderford.
And Sandy Bright lay upon his stomach there, for ever so long, staringinto the darkness after the strange bird. At last he got upon his kneesand began to thank Heaven for his merciful deliverance, with his eyesdownhill. He went on down into the village, talking aloud and confessinghis sins as he went, lest the strange bird should come back. All whoheard him thought him drunk. But from that night he was a changed man,and had done with drunkenness and defrauding the revenue by sellingsilver ornaments without a licence. And the side of bacon lay upon thehillside until the tallyman from Portburdock found it in the morning.
The next who saw the Strange Bird was a solicitor's clerk at IpingHanger, who was climbing the hill before breakfast, to see the sunrise.Save for a few dissolving wisps of cloud the sky had been blown clearin the night. At first he thought it was an eagle he saw. It was nearthe zenith, and incredibly remote, a mere bright speck above the pinkcirri, and it seemed as if it fluttered and beat itself against the sky,as an imprisoned swallow might do against a window pane. Then down itcame into the shadow of the earth, sweeping in a great curve towardsPortburdock and round over the Hanger, and so vanishing behind the woodsof Siddermorton Park. It seemed larger than a man. Just before it washidden, the light of the rising sun smote over the edge of the downs andtouched its wings, and they flashed with the brightness of flames andthe colour of precious stones, and so passed, leaving the witness agape.
A ploughman going to his work, along under the stone wall ofSiddermorton Park, saw the Strange Bird flash over him for a moment andvanish among the hazy interstices of the beech trees. But he saw littleof the colour of the wings, witnessing only that its legs, which werelong, seemed pink and bare like naked flesh, and its body mottled white.It smote like an arrow through th