Open main menu

Page:Tono-Bungay.djvu/375

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
367
SOARING

them and then very slowly crumpled up. I saw you'd been jerked out as I thought and I didn't stay for more. I rushed for my bicycle."

As a matter of fact it was purely accidental that I came down in the woods. I am reasonably certain that I had no more control then than a thing in a parcel. I remember I felt a sort of wincing, "Now it comes!" as the trees rushed up to me. If I remember that I should remember steering. Then the propeller smashed, everything stopped with a jerk and I was falling into a mass of yellowing leaves, and Lord Roberts α, so it seemed to me, was going back into the sky.

I felt twigs and things hit me in the face, but I didn't feel injured at the time; I clutched at things that broke, tumbled through a froth of green and yellow into a shadowy world of great bark-covered arms, and there snatching wildly, got a grip on a fair round branch and hung.

I became intensely alert and clearheaded. I held by that branch for a moment and looked about me and caught at another and then found myself holding to a practicable fork. I swung forward to that and got a leg round it below its junction and so was able presently to clamber down, climbing very coolly and deliberately. I dropped ten feet or so from the lowest branch and fell on my feet. "That's all right," I said and stared up through the tree to see what I could of the deflated and crumpled remains that had once been Lord Roberts α festooned on the branches it had broken. "Gods!" I said, "What a tumble!"

I wiped something that trickled from my face and was shocked to see my hand covered with blood. I looked at myself and saw what seemed to me an