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6. The Encounter At Stonehenge H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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Next day in the early afternoon after a farewell walk over the downs round Avebury they went by way of Devizes and Netheravon and Amesbury to Stonehenge.

Dr. Martineau had seen this ancient monument before, but now, with Avebury fresh in his mind, he found it a poorer thing than he had remembered it to be. Sir Richmond was frankly disappointed. After the real greatness and mystery of the older place, it seemed a poor little heap of stones; it did not even dominate the landscape; it was some way from the crest of the swelling down on which it stood and it was further dwarfed by the colossal air-ship hangars and clustering offices of the air station that the great war had called into existence upon the slopes to the south-west. "It looks," Sir Richmond said, "as though some old giantess had left a discarded set of teeth on the hillside." Far more impressive than Stonehenge itself were the barrows that capped the neighbouring crests.

The sacred stones were fenced about, and our visitors had to pay for admission at a little kiosk by the gate. At the side of the road stood a travelstained middle-class automobile, with a miscellany of dusty luggage, rugs and luncheon things therein--a family automobile with father no doubt at the wheel. Sir Richmond left his own trim coupe at its tail.

They were impeded at the entrance by a difference of opinion between the keeper of the turnstile and a small but resolute boy of perhaps five or six who proposed to leave the enclosure. The custodian thought that it would be better if his nurse or his mother came out with him.

"She keeps on looking at it, " said the small boy. "It isunt anything. I want to go and clean the car."

"You won't SEE Stonehenge every day, young man," said the custodian, a little piqued.

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"It's only an old beach," said the small boy, with extreme conviction. "It's rocks like the seaside. And there isunt no sea."

The man at the turnstile mutely consulted the doctor.

"I don't see that he can get into any harm here," the doctor advised, and the small boy was released from archaeology.

He strolled to the family automobile, produced an EN-TOUT-CAS pocket-handkerchief and set himself to polish the lamps with great assiduity. The two gentlemen lingered at the turnstile for a moment or so to watch his proceedings. "Modern child," said Sir Richmond. "Old stones are just old stones to him. But motor cars are gods."

"You can hardly expect him to understand--at his age," said the custodian, jealous for the honor of Stonehenge. . . .

"Reminds me of Martin's little girl," said Sir Richmond, as he and Dr. Martineau went on towards the circle. "When she encountered her first dragon-fly she was greatly delighted. '0h, dee' lill' a'eplane,' she said."

As they approached the grey old stones they became aware of a certain agitation among them. A voice, an authoritative bass voice, was audible, crying, "Anthony!" A nurse appeared remotely going in the direction of the aeroplane sheds, and her cry of "Master Anthony" came faintly on the breeze. An extremely pretty young woman of five or six and twenty became visible standing on one of the great prostrate stones in the centre of the place. She was a black-haired, sun-burnt individual and she stood with her arms akimbo, quite frankly amused at the disappearance of Master Anthony, and offering no sort of help for his recovery. On the greensward before her stood the paterfamilias of the family automobile, and he was making a trumpet with his hands in order to repeat the name of Anthony with greater effect. A short lady in grey emerged from among the encircling megaliths, and one or two other feminine personalities produced effects of movement rather than of individuality as they flitted among the stones. "Well," said the lady in grey, with that rising intonation of humorous conclusion which is so distinctively American, "those Druids have GOT him."

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The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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