He could tell you of the vanished estate of Sir Peter Bone, long since cut up for building, and how that magnate ruled the country-side when it was country-side, of shooting and hunting, and of caches along the high road, of how where the gas-works is was a cricket-field, and of the coming of the Crystal Palace.
. . . And then had come the railway, and then villas and villas, and then the gas-works and the water-works, and a great, ugly sea of workmens houses, and then drainage, and the water vanished out of the Otterbourne and left it a dreadful ditch, and then a second railway station, Bun Hill South, and more houses and more, more shops, more competition, plate-glass shops, a school-board, rates, omnibuses, tramcars-going right away into London itself-bicycles, motor-cars and then more motor-cars, a Carnegie library.
. . . It went overhead perhaps a thousand feet up (Bert heard the engine), sailed away southward, vanished over the hills, reappeared a little blue outline far off in the east, going now very fast before a gentle south-west gale, returned above the Crystal Palace towers, circled round them, chose a position for descent, and sank down out of sight.
. . . There were scarcely thirty people on the look-out for him, in spite of all his clamour, when about six oclock one summer morning the doors of the big shed in which he had been putting together his apparatus opened-it was near the big model of a megatherium in the Crystal Palace grounds-and his giant insect came droning out into a negligent and incredulous world.