The War of the Worlds, by H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells [1898]

But who shall dwell in these worlds if they be

inhabited? . . . Are we or they Lords of the

World? . . . And how are all things made for man?--

KEPLER (quoted in The Anatomy of Melancholy)





No one would have believed in the last years of thenineteenth century that this world was being watched keenlyand closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet asmortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about theirvarious concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhapsalmost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scru-tinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in adrop of water. With infinite complacency men went to andfro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in theirassurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that theinfusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gavea thought to the older worlds of space as sources of humandanger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of lifeupon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recallsome of the mental habits of those departed days. At mostterrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars,perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a mis-sionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds thatare to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish,intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded thisearth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew theirplans against us. And early in the twentieth century camethe great disillusionment.

The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the reader, re-volves about the sun at a mean distance of 140,000,000 miles,and the light and heat it receives from the sun is barely halfof that received by this world. It must be, if the nebularhypothesis has any truth, older than our world; and longbefore this earth ceased to be molten, life upon its surfacemust have begun its course. The fact that it is scarcelyone seventh of the volume of the earth must have acceleratedits cooling to the temperature at which life could begin. Ithas air and water and all that is necessary for the support ofanimated existence.

Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that nowriter, up to the very end of the nineteenth century, ex-pressed any idea that intelligent life might have developedthere far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level. Nor wasit generally understood that since Mars is older than our earth,with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area and remoterfrom the sun, it necessarily follows that it is not only moredistant from time's beginning but nearer its end.

The secular cooling that must someday overtake our planethas already gone far indeed with our neighbour. Its physicalcondition is still largely a mystery, but we know now thateven in its equatorial region the midday temperature barelyapproaches that of our coldest winter. Its air is much moreattenuated than ours, its oceans have shrunk until they coverbut a third of its surface, and as its slow seasons change hugesnowcaps gather and melt about either pole and periodicallyinundate its temperate zones. That last stage of exhaustion,which to us is still incredibly remote, has become a present-day problem for the inhabitants of Mars. The immediatepressure of necessity has brightened their intellects, enlargedtheir powers, and hardened their hearts. And looking acrossspace with instruments, and intelligences such as we havescarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope,our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey withwater, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, withglimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretchesof populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.

And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, mustbe to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeysand lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admitsthat life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it wouldseem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars.Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is stillcrowded with life, but crowded only with what they regardas inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, theironly escape from the destruction that, generation after gener-ation, creeps upon them.

And before we judge of them too harshly we must remem-ber what ruthless and utter destruction our own species haswrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bisonand the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians,in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out ofexistence in a war of extermination waged by European immi-grants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles ofmercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the samespirit?

The Martians seem to have calculated their descent withamazing subtlety--their mathematical learning is evidentlyfar in excess of ours--and to have carried out their prepara-tions with a well-nigh perfect unanimity. Had our instru-ments permitted it, we might have seen the gathering troublefar back in the nineteenth century. Men like Schiaparelliwatched the red planet--it is odd, by-the-bye, that for count-less centuries Mars has been the star of war--but failed tointerpret the fluctuating appearances of the markings theymapped so well. All that time the Martians must have beengetting ready.

During the opposition of 1894 a great light was seen onthe illuminated part of the disk, first at the Lick Observatory,then by Perrotin of Nice, and then by other observers. Englishreaders heard of it first in the issue of NATURE dated August 2.I am inclined to think that this blaze may have been thecasting of the huge gun, in the vast pit sunk into their planet,from which their shots were fired at us. Peculiar markings, asyet unexplained, were seen near the site of that outbreakduring the next two oppositions.

The storm burst upon us six years ago now. As Marsapproached opposition, Lavelle of Java set the wires of theastronomical exchange palpitating with the amazing intelli-gence of a huge outbreak of incandescent gas upon the planet.It had occurred towards midnight of the twelfth; and thespectroscope, to which he had at once resorted, indicated amass of flaming gas, chiefly hydrogen, moving with anenormous velocity towards this earth. This jet of fire hadbecome invisible about a quarter past twelve. He comparedit to a colossal puff of flame suddenly and violently squirtedout of the planet, "as flaming gases rushed out of a gun."

A singularly appropriate phrase it proved. Yet the next daythere was nothing of this in the papers except a little note inthe DAILY TELEGRAPH, and the world went in ignorance of oneof the gravest dangers that ever threatened the human race.I might not have heard of the eruption at all had I not metOgilvy, the well-known astronomer, at Ottershaw. He wasimmensely excited at the news, and in the excess of his feel-ings invited me up to take a turn with him that night in ascrutiny of the red planet.

In spite of all that has happened since, I still rememberthat vigil very distinctly: the black and silent observatory,the shadowed lantern throwing a feeble glow upon the floorin the corner, the steady ticking of the clockwork of the tele-scope, the little slit in the roof--an oblong profundity withthe stardust streaked across it. Ogilvy moved about, invisiblebut audible. Looking through the telescope, one saw a circleof deep blue and the little round planet swimming in thefield. It seemed such a little thing, so bright and small andstill, faintly marked with transverse stripes, and slightlyflattened from the perfect round. But so little it was, sosilvery warm--a pin's-head of light! It was as if it quivered,but really this was the telescope vibrating with the activityof the clockwork that kept the planet in view.

As I watched, the planet seemed to grow larger and smallerand to advance and recede, but that was simply that my eyewas tired. Forty millions of miles it was from us--more thanforty millions of miles of void. Few people realise the im-mensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universeswims.

Near it in the field, I remember, were three faint points oflight, three telescopic stars infinitely remote, and all aroundit was the unfathomable darkness of empty space. You knowhow that blackness looks on a frosty starlight night. In a tele-scope it seems far profounder. And invisible to me becauseit was so remote and small, flying swiftly and steadily towardsme across that incredible distance, drawing nearer every min-ute by so many thousands of miles, came the Thing they weresending us, the Thing that was to bring so much struggle andcalamity and death to the earth. I never dreamed of it thenas I watched; no one on earth dreamed of that unerringmissile.

That night, too, there was another jetting out of gas fromthe distant planet. I saw it. A reddish flash at the edge, theslightest projection of the outline just as the chronometerstruck midnight; and at that I told Ogilvy and he took myplace. The night was warm and I was thirsty, and I wentstretching my legs clumsily and feeling my way in the dark-ness, to the little table where the siphon stood, while Ogilvyexclaimed at the streamer of gas that came out towards us.

That night another invisible missile started on its way tothe earth from Mars, just a second or so under twenty-fourhours after the first one. I remember how I sat on the tablethere in the blackness, with patches of green and crimsonswimming before my eyes. I wished I had a light to smokeby, little suspecting the meaning of the minute gleam I hadseen and all that it would presently bring me. Ogilvy watchedtill one, and then gave it up; and we lit the lantern andwalked over to his house. Down below in the darkness wereOttershaw and Chertsey and all their hundreds of people,sleeping in peace.

He was full of speculation that night about the conditionof Mars, and scoffed at the vulgar idea of its having in-habitants who were signalling us. His idea was that meteoritesmight be falling in a heavy shower upon the planet, or thata huge volcanic explosion was in progress. He pointed outto me how unlikely it was that organic evolution had takenthe same direction in the two adjacent planets.

"The chances against anything manlike on Mars are amillion to one," he said.

Hundreds of observers saw the flame that night and thenight after about midnight, and again the night after; andso for ten nights, a flame each night. Why the shots ceasedafter the tenth no one on earth has attempted to explain.It may be the gases of the firing caused the Martians in-convenience. Dense clouds of smoke or dust, visible througha powerful telescope on earth as little grey, fluctuatingpatches, spread through the clearness of the planet's atmos-phere and obscured its more familiar features.

Even the daily papers woke up to the disturbances atlast, and popular notes appeared here, there, and everywhereconcerning the volcanoes upon Mars. The seriocomic periodi-cal PUNCH, I remember, made a happy use of it in thepolitical cartoon. And, all unsuspected, those missiles theMartians had fired at us drew earthward, rushing now at apace of many miles a second through the empty gulf ofspace, hour by hour and day by day, nearer and nearer. Itseems to me now almost incredibly wonderful that, withthat swift fate hanging over us, men could go about theirpetty concerns as they did. I remember how jubilant Markhamwas at securing a new photograph of the planet for theillustrated paper he edited in those days. People in theselatter times scarcely realise the abundance and enterpriseof our nineteenth-century papers. For my own part, I wasmuch occupied in learning to ride the bicycle, and busyupon a series of papers discussing the probable developmentsof moral ideas as civilisation progressed.

One night (the first missile then could scarcely have been10,000,000 miles away) I went for a walk with my wife. Itwas starlight and I explained the Signs of the Zodiac toher, and pointed out Mars, a bright dot of light creepingzenithward, towards which so many telescopes were pointed.It was a warm night. Coming home, a party of excursionistsfrom Chertsey or Isleworth passed us singing and playingmusic. There were lights in the upper windows of the housesas the people went to bed. From the railway station in thedistance came the sound of shunting trains, ringing andrumbling, softened almost into melody by the distance. Mywife pointed out to me the brightness of the red, green, andyellow signal lights hanging in a framework against the sky.It seemed so safe and tranquil.



Then came the night of the first falling star. It was seenearly in the morning, rushing over Winchester eastward, aline of flame high in the atmosphere. Hundreds must haveseen it, and taken it for an ordinary falling star. Albin de-scribed it as leaving a greenish streak behind it that glowedfor some seconds. Denning, our greatest authority on meteor-ites, stated that the height of its first appearance was aboutninety or one hundred miles. It seemed to him that it fellto earth about one hundred miles east of him.

I was at home at that hour and writing in my study; andalthough my French windows face towards Ottershaw andthe blind was up (for I loved in those days to look up atthe night sky), I saw nothing of it. Yet this strangest of allthings that ever came to earth from outer space must havefallen while I was sitting there, visible to me had I onlylooked up as it passed. Some of those who saw its flight sayit travelled with a hissing sound. I myself heard nothingof that. Many people in Berkshire, Surrey, and Middlesexmust have seen the fall of it, and, at most, have thoughtthat another meteorite had descended. No one seems to havetroubled to look for the fallen mass that night.

But very early in the morning poor Ogilvy, who had seenthe shooting star and who was persuaded that a meteorite laysomewhere on the common between Horsell, Ottershaw, andWoking, rose early with the idea of finding it. Find it he did,soon after dawn, and not far from the sand pits. An enormoushole had been made by the impact of the projectile, and thesand and gravel had been flung violently in every directionover the heath, forming heaps visible a mile and a half away.The heather was on fire eastward, and a thin blue smokerose against the dawn.

The Thing itself lay almost entirely buried in sand, amidstthe scattered splinters of a fir tree it had shivered to frag-ments in its descent. The uncovered part had the appearanceof a huge cylinder, caked over and its outline softened by athick scaly dun-coloured incrustation. It had a diameter ofabout thirty yards. He approached the mass, surprised atthe size and more so at the shape, since most meteoritesare rounded more or less completely. It was, however, stillso hot from its flight through the air as to forbid his nearapproach. A stirring noise within its cylinder he ascribed tothe unequal cooling of its surface; for at that time it hadnot occurred to him that it might be hollow.

He remained standing at the edge of the pit that theThing had made for itself, staring at its strange appearance,astonished chiefly at its unusual shape and colour, anddimly perceiving even then some evidence of design in itsarrival. The early morning was wonderfully still, and the sun,just clearing the pine trees towards Weybridge, was alreadywarm. He did not remember hearing any birds that morning,there was certainly no breeze stirring, and the only soundswere the faint movements from within the cindery cylinder.He was all alone on the common.

Then suddenly he noticed with a start that some of thegrey clinker, the ashy incrustation that covered the meteorite,was falling off the circular edge of the end. It was droppingoff in flakes and raining down upon the sand. A large piecesuddenly came off and fell with a sharp noise that broughthis heart into his mouth.

For a minute he scarcely realised what this meant, and,although the heat was excessive, he clambered down intothe pit close to the bulk to see the Thing more clearly. Hefancied even then that the cooling of the body might accountfor this, but what disturbed that idea was the fact that theash was falling only from the end of the cylinder.

And then he perceived that, very slowly, the circular topof the cylinder was rotating on its body. It was such agradual movement that he discovered it only through noticingthat a black mark that had been near him five minutes agowas now at the other side of the circumference. Even thenhe scarcely understood what this indicated, until he heard amuffled grating sound and saw the black mark jerk forwardan inch or so. Then the thing came upon him in a flash. Thecylinder was artificial--hollow--with an end that screwedout! Something within the cylinder was unscrewing the top!

"Good heavens!" said Ogilvy. "There's a man in it--menin it! Half roasted to death! Trying to escape!"

At once, with a quick mental leap, he linked the Thingwith the flash upon Mars.

The thought of the confined creature was so dreadful tohim that he forgot the heat and went forward to the cylinderto help turn. But luckily the dull radiation arrested him beforehe could burn his hands on the still-glowing metal. At thathe stood irresolute for a moment, then turned, scrambled outof the pit, and set off running wildly into Woking. The timethen must have been somewhere about six o'clock. He met awaggoner and tried to make him understand, but the talehe told and his appearance were so wild--his hat had fallenoff in the pit--that the man simply drove on. He was equallyunsuccessful with the potman who was just unlocking thedoors of the public-house by Horsell Bridge. The fellowthought he was a lunatic at large and made an unsuccessfulattempt to shut him into the taproom. That sobered him alittle; and when he saw Henderson, the London journalist,in his garden, he called over the palings and made himselfunderstood.

"Henderson," he called, "you saw that shooting star lastnight?"

"Well?" said Henderson.

"It's out on Horsell Common now."

"Good Lord!" said Henderson. "Fallen meteorite! That'sgood."

"But it's something more than a meteorite. It's a cylinder--an artificial cylinder, man! And there's something inside."

Henderson stood up with his spade in his hand.

"What's that?" he said. He was deaf in one ear.

Ogilvy told him all that he had seen. Henderson was aminute or so taking it in. Then he dropped his spade, snatchedup his jacket, and came out into the road. The two menhurried back at once to the common, and found the cylinderstill lying in the same position. But now the sounds insidehad ceased, and a thin circle of bright metal showed betweenthe top and the body of the cylinder. Air was either enteringor escaping at the rim with a thin, sizzling sound.

They listened, rapped on the scaly burnt metal with astick, and, meeting with no response, they both concludedthe man or men inside must be insensible or dead.

Of course the two were quite unable to do anything. Theyshouted consolation and promises, and went off back to thetown again to get help. One can imagine them, coveredwith sand, excited and disordered, running up the littlestreet in the bright sunlight just as the shop folks weretaking down their shutters and people were opening theirbedroom windows. Henderson went into the railway stationat once, in order to telegraph the news to London. Thenewspaper articles had prepared men's minds for the re-ception of the idea.

By eight o'clock a number of boys and unemployed menhad already started for the common to see the "dead men fromMars." That was the form the story took. I heard of it firstfrom my newspaper boy about a quarter to nine when I went outto get my DAILY CHRONICLE. I was naturally startled, andlost no time in going out and across the Ottershaw bridgeto the sand pits.



I found a little crowd of perhaps twenty people sur-rounding the huge hole in which the cylinder lay. I havealready described the appearance of that colossal bulk, em-bedded in the ground. The turf and gravel about it seemedcharred as if by a sudden explosion. No doubt its impacthad caused a flash of fire. Henderson and Ogilvy were notthere. I think they perceived that nothing was to be done forthe present, and had gone away to breakfast at Henderson'shouse.

There were four or five boys sitting on the edge of thePit, with their feet dangling, and amusing themselves--untilI stopped them--by throwing stones at the giant mass.After I had spoken to them about it, they began playing at"touch" in and out of the group of bystanders.

Among these were a couple of cyclists, a jobbing gardenerI employed sometimes, a girl carrying a baby, Gregg thebutcher and his little boy, and two or three loafers and golfcaddies who were accustomed to hang about the railwaystation. There was very little talking. Few of the commonpeople in England had anything but the vaguest astronomicalideas in those days. Most of them were staring quietly atthe big tablelike end of the cylinder, which was still asOgilvy and Henderson had left it. I fancy the popular ex-pectation of a heap of charred corpses was disappointed atthis inanimate bulk. Some went away while I was there, andother people came. I clambered into the pit and fancied Iheard a faint movement under my feet. The top had certainlyceased to rotate.

It was only when I got thus close to it that the strangenessof this object was at all evident to me. At the first glanceit was really no more exciting than an overturned carriageor a tree blown across the road. Not so much so, indeed. Itlooked like a rusty gas float. It required a certain amount ofscientific education to perceive that the grey scale of theThing was no common oxide, that the yellowish-white metalthat gleamed in the crack between the lid and the cylinderhad an unfamiliar hue. "Extra-terrestrial" had no meaning formost of the onlookers.

At that time it was quite clear in my own mind that theThing had come from the planet Mars, but I judged itimprobable that it contained any living creature. I thoughtthe unscrewing might be automatic. In spite of Ogilvy, Istill believed that there were men in Mars. My mind ranfancifully on the possibilities of its containing manuscript,on the difficulties in translation that might arise, whetherwe should find coins and models in it, and so forth. Yet itwas a little too large for assurance on this idea. I felt animpatience to see it opened. About eleven, as nothingseemed happening, I walked back, full of such thought, tomy home in Maybury. But I found it difficult to get to workupon my abstract investigations.

In the afternoon the appearance of the common had alteredvery much. The early editions of the evening papers hadstartled London with enormous headlines:



and so forth. In addition, Ogilvy's wire to the AstronomicalExchange had roused every observatory in the three kingdoms.

There were half a dozen flies or more from the Wokingstation standing in the road by the sand pits, a basket-chaise from Chobham, and a rather lordly carriage. Besidesthat, there was quite a heap of bicycles. In addition, alarge number of people must have walked, in spite of theheat of the day, from Woking and Chertsey, so that there wasaltogether quite a considerable crowd--one or two gailydressed ladies among the others. It was glaringly hot, not a cloud in the sky nor a breathof wind, and the only shadow was that of the few scatteredpine trees. The burning heather had been extinguished, butthe level ground towards Ottershaw was blackened as far asone could see, and still giving off vertical streamers ofsmoke. An enterprising sweet-stuff dealer in the ChobhamRoad had sent up his son with a barrow-load of greenapples and ginger beer.

Going to the edge of the pit, I found it occupied by agroup of about half a dozen men--Henderson, Ogilvy, anda tall, fair-haired man that I afterwards learned was Stent,the Astronomer Royal, with several workmen wielding spadesand pickaxes. Stent was giving directions in a clear, high-pitched voice. He was standing on the cylinder, which wasnow evidently much cooler; his face was crimson and stream-ing with perspiration, and something seemed to have irritatedhim.

A large portion of the cylinder had been uncovered,though its lower end was still embedded. As soon as Ogilvysaw me among the staring crowd on the edge of the pithe called to me to come down, and asked me if I wouldmind going over to see Lord Hilton, the lord of the manor.

The growing crowd, he said, was becoming a seriousimpediment to their excavations, especially the boys. Theywanted a light railing put up, and help to keep the peopleback. He told me that a faint stirring was occasionally stillaudible within the case, but that the workmen had failedto unscrew the top, as it afforded no grip to them. Thecase appeared to be enormously thick, and it was possiblethat the faint sounds we heard represented a noisy tumultin the interior.

I was very glad to do as he asked, and so become one ofthe privileged spectators within the contemplated enclosure.I failed to find Lord Hilton at his house, but I was toldhe was expected from London by the six o'clock train fromWaterloo; and as it was then about a quarter past five, Iwent home, had some tea, and walked up to the stationto waylay him.



When I returned to the common the sun was setting.Scattered groups were hurrying from the direction of Woking,and one or two persons were returning. The crowd aboutthe pit had increased, and stood out black against the lemonyellow of the sky--a couple of hundred people, perhaps.There were raised voices, and some sort of struggle appearedto be going on about the pit. Strange imaginings passedthrough my mind. As I drew nearer I heard Stent's voice:

"Keep back! Keep back!"

A boy came running towards me.

"It's a-movin'," he said to me as he passed; "a-screwin' anda-screwin' out. I don't like it. I'm a-goin' 'ome, I am."

I went on to the crowd. There were really, I should think,two or three hundred people elbowing and jostling one an-other, the one or two ladies there being by no means theleast active.

"He's fallen in the pit!" cried some one.

"Keep back!" said several.

The crowd swayed a little, and I elbowed my way through.Every one seemed greatly excited. I heard a peculiar hum-ming sound from the pit.

"I say!" said Ogilvy; "help keep these idiots back. Wedon't know what's in the confounded thing, you know!"

I saw a young man, a shop assistant in Woking I believehe was, standing on the cylinder and trying to scramble outof the hole again. The crowd had pushed him in.

The end of the cylinder was being screwed out from within.Nearly two feet of shining screw projected. Somebody blun-dered against me, and I narrowly missed being pitched ontothe top of the screw. I turned, and as I did so the screw musthave come out, for the lid of the cylinder fell upon the gravelwith a ringing concussion. I stuck my elbow into the personbehind me, and turned my head towards the Thing again.For a moment that circular cavity seemed perfectly black.I had the sunset in my eyes.

I think everyone expected to see a man emerge--possiblysomething a little unlike us terrestrial men, but in all essen-tials a man. I know I did. But, looking, I presently saw some-thing stirring within the shadow: greyish billowy movements,one above another, and then two luminous disks--like eyes.Then something resembling a little grey snake, about thethickness of a walking stick, coiled up out of the writhingmiddle, and wriggled in the air towards me--and thenanother.

A sudden chill came over me. There was a loud shriekfrom a woman behind. I half turned, keeping my eyes fixedupon the cylinder still, from which other tentacles were nowprojecting, and began pushing my way back from the edgeof the pit. I saw astonishment giving place to horror on thefaces of the people about me. I heard inarticulate exclama-tions on all sides. There was a general movement backwards.I saw the shopman struggling still on the edge of the pit. Ifound myself alone, and saw the people on the other side ofthe pit running off, Stent among them. I looked again at thecylinder, and ungovernable terror gripped me. I stood petri-fied and staring.

A big greyish rounded bulk, the size, perhaps, of a bear,was rising slowly and painfully out of the cylinder. Asit bulged up and caught the light, it glistened like wetleather.

Two large dark-coloured eyes were regarding me stead-fastly. The mass that framed them, the head of the thing, wasrounded, and had, one might say, a face. There was a mouthunder the eyes, the lipless brim of which quivered andpanted, and dropped saliva. The whole creature heaved andpulsated convulsively. A lank tentacular appendage grippedthe edge of the cylinder, another swayed in the air.

Those who have never seen a living Martian can scarcelyimagine the strange horror of its appearance. The peculiarV-shaped mouth with its pointed upper lip, the absence ofbrow ridges, the absence of a chin beneath the wedgelikelower lip, the incessant quivering of this mouth, the Gorgongroups of tentacles, the tumultuous breathing of the lungs ina strange atmosphere, the evident heaviness and painfulnessof movement due to the greater gravitational energy of theearth--above all, the extraordinary intensity of the immenseeyes--were at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled andmonstrous. There was something fungoid in the oily brownskin, something in the clumsy deliberation of the tedi-ous movements unspeakably nasty. Even at this first en-counter, this first glimpse, I was overcome with disgust anddread.

Suddenly the monster vanished. It had toppled over thebrim of the cylinder and fallen into the pit, with a thud likethe fall of a great mass of leather. I heard it give a peculiarthick cry, and forthwith another of these creatures appeareddarkly in the deep shadow of the aperture.

I turned and, running madly, made for the first group oftrees, perhaps a hundred yards away; but I ran slantinglyand stumbling, for I could not avert my face from thesethings.

There, among some young pine trees and furze bushes, Istopped, panting, and waited further developments. Thecommon round the sand pits was dotted with people, stand-ing like myself in a half-fascinated terror, staring at thesecreatures, or rather at the heaped gravel at the edge of the pitin which they lay. And then, with a renewed horror, I saw around, black object bobbing up and down on the edge of thepit. It was the head of the shopman who had fallen in, butshowing as a little black object against the hot western sun.Now he got his shoulder and knee up, and again he seemedto slip back until only his head was visible. Suddenly he van-ished, and I could have fancied a faint shriek had reachedme. I had a momentary impulse to go back and help himthat my fears overruled.

Everything was then quite invisible, hidden by the deeppit and the heap of sand that the fall of the cylinder hadmade. Anyone coming along the road from Chobham or Wo-king would have been amazed at the sight--a dwindling mul-titude of perhaps a hundred people or more standing in agreat irregular circle, in ditches, behind bushes, behind gatesand hedges, saying little to one another and that in short,excited shouts, and staring, staring hard at a few heaps ofsand. The barrow of ginger beer stood, a queer derelict, blackagainst the burning sky, and in the sand pits was a row ofdeserted vehicles with their horses feeding out of nosebagsor pawing the ground.



After the glimpse I had had of the Martians emergingfrom the cylinder in which they had come to the earth fromtheir planet, a kind of fascination paralysed my actions. Iremained standing knee-deep in the heather, staring at themound that hid them. I was a battleground of fear andcuriosity.

I did not dare to go back towards the pit, but I felt a pas-sionate longing to peer into it. I began walking, therefore, ina big curve, seeking some point of vantage and continuallylooking at the sand heaps that hid these new-comers to ourearth. Once a leash of thin black whips, like the arms of anoctopus, flashed across the sunset and was immediately with-drawn, and afterwards a thin rod rose up, joint by joint,bearing at its apex a circular disk that spun with a wobblingmotion. What could be going on there?

Most of the spectators had gathered in one or two groups--one a little crowd towards Woking, the other a knot ofpeople in the direction of Chobham. Evidently they sharedmy mental conflict. There were few near me. One man Iapproached--he was, I perceived, a neighbour of mine,though I did not know his name--and accosted. But it wasscarcely a time for articulate conversation.

"What ugly brutes!" he said. "Good God! What uglybrutes!" He repeated this over and over again.

"Did you see a man in the pit?" I said; but he made noanswer to that. We became silent, and stood watching for atime side by side, deriving, I fancy, a certain comfort in oneanother's company. Then I shifted my position to a littleknoll that gave me the advantage of a yard or more of eleva-tion and when I looked for him presently he was walkingtowards Woking.

The sunset faded to twilight before anything further hap-pened. The crowd far away on the left, towards Woking,seemed to grow, and I heard now a faint murmur from it.The little knot of people towards Chobham dispersed. Therewas scarcely an intimation of movement from the pit.

It was this, as much as anything, that gave people courage,and I suppose the new arrivals from Woking also helped torestore confidence. At any rate, as the dusk came on a slow,intermittent movement upon the sand pits began, a move-ment that seemed to gather force as the stillness of the eve-ning about the cylinder remained unbroken. Vertical blackfigures in twos and threes would advance, stop, watch,and advance again, spreading out as they did so in a thinirregular crescent that promised to enclose the pit in itsattenuated horns. I, too, on my side began to move towardsthe pit.

Then I saw some cabmen and others had walked boldlyinto the sand pits, and heard the clatter of hoofs and thegride of wheels. I saw a lad trundling off the barrow ofapples. And then, within thirty yards of the pit, advancingfrom the direction of Horsell, I noted a little black knot ofmen, the foremost of whom was waving a white flag.

This was the Deputation. There had been a hasty consulta-tion, and since the Martians were evidently, in spite of theirrepulsive forms, intelligent creatures, it had been resolved toshow them, by approaching them with signals, that we toowere intelligent.

Flutter, flutter, went the flag, first to the right, then tothe left. It was too far for me to recognise anyone there, butafterwards I learned that Ogilvy, Stent, and Henderson werewith others in this attempt at communication. This littlegroup had in its advance dragged inward, so to speak, thecircumference of the now almost complete circle of people,and a number of dim black figures followed it at discreetdistances.

Suddenly there was a flash of light, and a quantity ofluminous greenish smoke came out of the pit in three distinctpuffs, which drove up, one after the other, straight into thestill air.

This smoke (or flame, perhaps, would be the better wordfor it) was so bright that the deep blue sky overhead and thehazy stretches of brown common towards Chertsey, set withblack pine trees, seemed to darken abruptly as these puffsarose, and to remain the darker after their dispersal. At thesame time a faint hissing sound became audible.

Beyond the pit stood the little wedge of people with thewhite flag at its apex, arrested by these phenomena, a littleknot of small vertical black shapes upon the black ground.As the green smoke arose, their faces flashed out pallid green,and faded again as it vanished. Then slowly the hissing passedinto a humming, into a long, loud, droning noise. Slowly ahumped shape rose out of the pit, and the ghost of a beamof light seemed to flicker out from it.

Forthwith flashes of actual flame, a bright glare leapingfrom one to another, sprang from the scattered group of men.It was as if some invisible jet impinged upon them andflashed into white flame. It was as if each man were suddenlyand momentarily turned to fire.

Then, by the light of their own destruction, I saw themstaggering and falling, and their supporters turning torun.

I stood staring, not as yet realising that this was deathleaping from man to man in that little distant crowd. All Ifelt was that it was something very strange. An almost noise-less and blinding flash of light, and a man fell headlong andlay still; and as the unseen shaft of heat passed over them,pine trees burst into fire, and every dry furze bush becamewith one dull thud a mass of flames. And far away towardsKnaphill I saw the flashes of trees and hedges and woodenbuildings suddenly set alight.

It was sweeping round swiftly and steadily, this flamingdeath, this invisible, inevitable sword of heat. I perceived itcoming towards me by the flashing bushes it touched, andwas too astounded and stupefied to stir. I heard the crackleof fire in the sand pits and the sudden squeal of a horse thatwas as suddenly stilled. Then it was as if an invisible yetintensely heated finger were drawn through the heatherbetween me and the Martians, and all along a curving linebeyond the sand pits the dark ground smoked and crackled.Something fell with a crash far away to the left where theroad from Woking station opens out on the common. Forth-with the hissing and humming ceased, and the black, dome-like object sank slowly out of sight into the pit.

All this had happened with such swiftness that I had stoodmotionless, dumbfounded and dazzled by the flashes of light.Had that death swept through a full circle, it must inevitablyhave slain me in my surprise. But it passed and spared me,and left the night about me suddenly dark and un-familiar.

The undulating common seemed now dark almost toblackness, except where its roadways lay grey and pale underthe deep blue sky of the early night. It was dark, and sud-denly void of men. Overhead the stars were mustering, andin the west the sky was still a pale, bright, almost greenishblue. The tops of the pine trees and the roofs of Horsell cameout sharp and black against the western afterglow. The Mar-tians and their appliances were altogether invisible, save forthat thin mast upon which their restless mirror wobbled.Patches of bush and isolated trees here and there smoked andglowed still, and the houses towards Woking station weresending up spires of flame into the stillness of the eveningair.

Nothing was changed save for that and a terrible astonish-ment. The little group of black specks with the flag of whitehad been swept out of existence, and the stillness of theevening, so it seemed to me, had scarcely been broken.

It came to me that I was upon this dark common, helpless,unprotected, and alone. Suddenly, like a thing falling uponme from without, came--fear.

With an effort I turned and began a stumbling run throughthe heather.

The fear I felt was no rational fear, but a panic terror notonly of the Martians, but of the dusk and stillness all aboutme. Such an extraordinary effect in unmanning me it hadthat I ran weeping silently as a child might do. Once I hadturned, I did not dare to look back.

I remember I felt an extraordinary persuasion that I wasbeing played with, that presently, when I was upon the veryverge of safety, this mysterious death--as swift as the passageof light--would leap after me from the pit about the cylinderand strike me down.



It is still a matter of wonder how the Martians are ableto slay men so swiftly and so silently. Many think that insome way they are able to generate an intense heat in achamber of practically absolute non-conductivity. This intenseheat they project in a parallel beam against any object theychoose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknowncomposition, much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouseprojects a beam of light. But no one has absolutely provedthese details. However it is done, it is certain that a beam ofheat is the essence of the matter. Heat, and invisible, insteadof visible, light. Whatever is combustible flashes into flameat its touch, lead runs like water, it softens iron, cracks andmelts glass, and when it falls upon water, incontinently thatexplodes into steam.

That night nearly forty people lay under the starlight aboutthe pit, charred and distorted beyond recognition, and allnight long the common from Horsell to Maybury was desertedand brightly ablaze.

The news of the massacre probably reached Chobham,Woking, and Ottershaw about the same time. In Woking theshops had closed when the tragedy happened, and a numberof people, shop people and so forth, attracted by the storiesthey had heard, were walking over the Horsell Bridge andalong the road between the hedges that runs out at last uponthe common. You may imagine the young people brushed upafter the labours of the day, and making this novelty, as theywould make any novelty, the excuse for walking together andenjoying a trivial flirtation. You may figure to yourself thehum of voices along the road in the gloaming. . . .

As yet, of course, few people in Woking even knew thatthe cylinder had opened, though poor Henderson had sent amessenger on a bicycle to the post office with a special wireto an evening paper.

As these folks came out by twos and threes upon the open,they found little knots of people talking excitedly and peeringat the spinning mirror over the sand pits, and the new-comerswere, no doubt, soon infected by the excitement of the oc-casion.

By half past eight, when the Deputation was destroyed,there may have been a crowd of three hundred people ormore at this place, besides those who had left the road toapproach the Martians nearer. There were three policementoo, one of whom was mounted, doing their best, underinstructions from Stent, to keep the people back and deterthem from approaching the cylinder. There was some booingfrom those more thoughtless and excitable souls to whom acrowd is always an occasion for noise and horse-play.

Stent and Ogilvy, anticipating some possibilities of acollision, had telegraphed from Horsell to the barracks assoon as the Martians emerged, for the help of a company ofsoldiers to protect these strange creatures from violence.After that they returned to lead that ill-fated advance. Thedescription of their death, as it was seen by the crowd, talliesvery closely with my own impressions: the three puffs ofgreen smoke, the deep humming note, and the flashes offlame.

But that crowd of people had a far narrower escape thanmine. Only the fact that a hummock of heathery sand inter-cepted the lower part of the Heat-Ray saved them. Had theelevation of the parabolic mirror been a few yards higher,none could have lived to tell the tale. They saw the flashesand the men falling and an invisible hand, as it were, lit thebushes as it hurried towards them through the twilight. Then,with a whistling note that rose above the droning of the pit,the beam swung close over their heads, lighting the tops ofthe beech trees that line the road, and splitting the bricks,smashing the windows, firing the window frames, and bring-ing down in crumbling ruin a portion of the gable of thehouse nearest the corner.

In the sudden thud, hiss, and glare of the igniting trees,the panic-stricken crowd seems to have swayed hesitatinglyfor some moments. Sparks and burning twigs began to fallinto the road, and single leaves like puffs of flame. Hats anddresses caught fire. Then came a crying from the common.There were shrieks and shouts, and suddenly a mountedpoliceman came galloping through the confusion with hishands clasped over his head, screaming.

"They're coming!" a woman shrieked, and incontinentlyeveryone was turning and pushing at those behind, in orderto clear their way to Woking again. They must have boltedas blindly as a flock of sheep. Where the road grows narrowand black between the high banks the crowd jammed, and adesperate struggle occurred. All that crowd did not escape;three persons at least, two women and a little boy, werecrushed and trampled there, and left to die amid the terrorand the darkness.



For my own part, I remember nothing of my flightexcept the stress of blundering against trees and stumblingthrough the heather. All about me gathered the invisibleterrors of the Martians; that pitiless sword of heat seemedwhirling to and fro, flourishing overhead before it descendedand smote me out of life. I came into the road between thecrossroads and Horsell, and ran along this to the crossroads.

At last I could go no further; I was exhausted with theviolence of my emotion and of my flight, and I staggered andfell by the wayside. That was near the bridge that crossesthe canal by the gasworks. I fell and lay still.

I must have remained there some time.

I sat up, strangely perplexed. For a moment, perhaps, Icould not clearly understand how I came there. My terrorhad fallen from me like a garment. My hat had gone, andmy collar had burst away from its fastener. A few minutesbefore, there had only been three real things before me--theimmensity of the night and space and nature, my own feeble-ness and anguish, and the near approach of death. Now itwas as if something turned over, and the point of view alteredabruptly. There was no sensible transition from one state ofmind to the other. I was immediately the self of every dayagain--a decent, ordinary citizen. The silent common, theimpulse of my flight, the starting flames, were as if they hadbeen in a dream. I asked myself had these latter things indeedhappened? I could not credit it.

I rose and walked unsteadily up the steep incline of thebridge. My mind was blank wonder. My muscles and nervesseemed drained of their strength. I dare say I staggereddrunkenly. A head rose over the arch, and the figure of aworkman carrying a basket appeared. Beside him ran a littleboy. He passed me, wishing me good night. I was minded tospeak to him, but did not. I answered his greeting with ameaningless mumble and went on over the bridge.

Over the Maybury arch a train, a billowing tumult ofwhite, firelit smoke, and a long caterpillar of lighted windows,went flying south--clatter, clatter, clap, rap, and it had gone.A dim group of people talked in the gate of one of the housesin the pretty little row of gables that was called OrientalTerrace. It was all so real and so familiar. And that behindme! It was frantic, fantastic! Such things, I told myself,could not be.

Perhaps I am a man of exceptional moods. I do not knowhow far my experience is common. At times I suffer from thestrangest sense of detachment from myself and the worldabout me; I seem to watch it all from the outside, from some-where inconceivably remote, out of time, out of space, outof the stress and tragedy of it all. This feeling was verystrong upon me that night. Here was another side to mydream.

But the trouble was the blank incongruity of this serenityand the swift death flying yonder, not two miles away. Therewas a noise of business from the gasworks, and the electriclamps were all alight. I stopped at the group of people.

"What news from the common?" said I.

There were two men and a woman at the gate.

"Eh?" said one of the men, turning.

"What news from the common?" I said.

"'Ain't yer just BEEN there?" asked the men.

"People seem fair silly about the common," said the womanover the gate. "What's it all abart?"

"Haven't you heard of the men from Mars?" said I; "thecreatures from Mars?"

"Quite enough," said the woman over the gate. "Thenks";and all three of them laughed.

I felt foolish and angry. I tried and found I could not tellthem what I had seen. They laughed again at my brokensentences.

"You'll hear more yet," I said, and went on to my home.

I startled my wife at the doorway, so haggard was I. I wentinto the dining room, sat down, drank some wine, and sosoon as I could collect myself sufficiently I told her the thingsI had seen. The dinner, which was a cold one, had alreadybeen served, and remained neglected on the table while Itold my story.

"There is one thing," I said, to allay the fears I hadaroused; "they are the most sluggish things I ever saw crawl.They may keep the pit and kill people who come near them,but they cannot get out of it. . . . But the horror of them!"

"Don't, dear!" said my wife, knitting her brows and puttingher hand on mine.

"Poor Ogilvy!" I said. "To think he may be lying deadthere!"

My wife at least did not find my experience incredible.When I saw how deadly white her face was, I ceased abruptly.

"They may come here," she said again and again.

I pressed her to take wine, and tried to reassure her.

"They can scarcely move," I said.

I began to comfort her and myself by repeating all thatOgilvy had told me of the impossibility of the Martians estab-lishing themselves on the earth. In particular I laid stress onthe gravitational difficulty. On the surface of the earth theforce of gravity is three times what it is on the surface ofMars. A Martian, therefore, would weigh three times morethan on Mars, albeit his muscular strength would be the same.His own body would be a cope of lead to him. That, indeed,was the general opinion. Both THE TIMES and the DAILYTELEGRAPH, for instance, insisted on it the next morning, andboth overlooked, just as I did, two obvious modifying influ-ences.

The atmosphere of the earth, we now know, contains farmore oxygen or far less argon (whichever way one likes toput it) than does Mars. The invigorating influences of thisexcess of oxygen upon the Martians indisputably did muchto counterbalance the increased weight of their bodies. And,in the second place, we all overlooked the fact that suchmechanical intelligence as the Martian possessed was quiteable to dispense with muscular exertion at a pinch.

But I did not consider these points at the time, and so myreasoning was dead against the chances of the invaders.With wine and food, the confidence of my own table, andthe necessity of reassuring my wife, I grew by insensibledegrees courageous and secure.

"They have done a foolish thing," said I, fingering mywineglass. "They are dangerous because, no doubt, they aremad with terror. Perhaps they expected to find no livingthings--certainly no intelligent living things.

"A shell in the pit" said I, "if the worst comes to the worstwill kill them all."

The intense excitement of the events had no doubt left myperceptive powers in a state of erethism. I remember thatdinner table with extraordinary vividness even now. My dearwife's sweet anxious face peering at me from under the pinklamp shade, the white cloth with its silver and glass tablefurniture--for in those days even philosophical writers hadmany little luxuries--the crimson-purple wine in my glass,are photographically distinct. At the end of it I sat, temper-ing nuts with a cigarette, regretting Ogilvy's rashness, anddenouncing the shortsighted timidity of the Martians.

So some respectable dodo in the Mauritius might havelorded it in his nest, and discussed the arrival of that shipfulof pitiless sailors in want of animal food. "We will peck themto death tomorrow, my dear."

I did not know it, but that was the last civilised dinnerI was to eat for very many strange and terrible days.



The most extraordinary thing to my mind, of all thestrange and wonderful things that happened upon thatFriday, was the dovetailing of the commonplace habits ofour social order with the first beginnings of the series ofevents that was to topple that social order headlong. If onFriday night you had taken a pair of compasses and drawn acircle with a radius of five miles round the Woking sand pits,I doubt if you would have had one human being outside it,unless it were some relation of Stent or of the three or fourcyclists or London people lying dead on the common, whoseemotions or habits were at all affected by the new-comers.Many people had heard of the cylinder, of course, and talkedabout it in their leisure, but it certainly did not make thesensation that an ultimatum to Germany would have done.

In London that night poor Henderson's telegram describingthe gradual unscrewing of the shot was judged to be a canard,and his evening paper, after wiring for authentication fromhim and receiving no reply--the man was killed--decidednot to print a special edition.

Even within the five-mile circle the great majority of peoplewere inert. I have already described the behaviour of the menand women to whom I spoke. All over the district peoplewere dining and supping; working men were gardening afterthe labours of the day, children were being put to bed, youngpeople were wandering through the lanes love-making, stu-dents sat over their books.

Maybe there was a murmur in the village streets, a noveland dominant topic in the public-houses, and here and therea messenger, or even an eye-witness of the later occurrences,caused a whirl of excitement, a shouting, and a running toand fro; but for the most part the daily routine of working,eating, drinking, sleeping, went on as it had done for count-less years--as though no planet Mars existed in the sky.Even at Woking station and Horsell and Chobham that wasthe case.

In Woking junction, until a late hour, trains were stoppingand going on, others were shunting on the sidings, passengerswere alighting and waiting, and everything was proceedingin the most ordinary way. A boy from the town, trenchingon Smith's monopoly, was selling papers with the afternoon'snews. The ringing impact of trucks, the sharp whistle of theengines from the junction, mingled with their shouts of"Men from Mars!" Excited men came into the station aboutnine o'clock with incredible tidings, and caused no moredisturbance than drunkards might have done. People rattlingLondonwards peered into the darkness outside the carriagewindows, and saw only a rare, flickering, vanishing sparkdance up from the direction of Horsell, a red glow and athin veil of smoke driving across the stars, and thought thatnothing more serious than a heath fire was happening. It wasonly round the edge of the common that any disturbancewas perceptible. There were half a dozen villas burning onthe Woking border. There were lights in all the houses on thecommon side of the three villages, and the people there keptawake till dawn.

A curious crowd lingered restlessly, people coming andgoing but the crowd remaining, both on the Chobham andHorsell bridges. One or two adventurous souls, it was after-wards found, went into the darkness and crawled quite nearthe Martians; but they never returned, for now and again alight-ray, like the beam of a warship's searchlight swept thecommon, and the Heat-Ray was ready to follow. Save forsuch, that big area of common was silent and desolate, andthe charred bodies lay about on it all night under the stars,and all the next day. A noise of hammering from the pit washeard by many people.

So you have the state of things on Friday night. In thecentre, sticking into the skin of our old planet Earth like apoisoned dart, was this cylinder. But the poison was scarcelyworking yet. Around it was a patch of silent common,smouldering in places, and with a few dark, dimly seenobjects lying in contorted attitudes here and there. Here andthere was a burning bush or tree. Beyond was a fringe ofexcitement, and farther than that fringe the inflammationhad not crept as yet. In the rest of the world the stream oflife still flowed as it had flowed for immemorial years. Thefever of war that would presently clog vein and artery, deadennerve and destroy brain, had still to develop.

All night long the Martians were hammering and stirring,sleepless, indefatigable, at work upon the machines theywere making ready, and ever and again a puff of greenish-white smoke whirled up to the starlit sky.

About eleven a company of soldiers came through Horsell,and deployed along the edge of the common to form acordon. Later a second company marched through Chobhamto deploy on the north side of the common. Several officersfrom the Inkerman barracks had been on the common earlierin the day, and one, Major Eden, was reported to be missing.The colonel of the regiment came to the Chobham bridgeand was busy questioning the crowd at midnight. The militaryauthorities were certainly alive to the seriousness of the busi-ness. About eleven, the next morning's papers were able tosay, a squadron of hussars, two Maxims, and about fourhundred men of the Cardigan regiment started from Aldershot.

A few seconds after midnight the crowd in the Chertseyroad, Woking, saw a star fall from heaven into the pinewoods to the northwest. It had a greenish colour, and causeda silent brightness like summer lightning. This was the secondcylinder.



Saturday lives in my memory as a day of suspense. Itwas a day of lassitude too, hot and close, with, I am told, arapidly fluctuating barometer. I had slept but little, thoughmy wife had succeeded in sleeping, and I rose early. I wentinto my garden before breakfast and stood listening, buttowards the common there was nothing stirring but a lark.

The milkman came as usual. I heard the rattle of hischariot and I went round to the side gate to ask the latestnews. He told me that during the night the Martians hadbeen surrounded by troops, and that guns were expected.Then--a familiar, reassuring note--I heard a train runningtowards Woking.

"They aren't to be killed," said the milkman, "if that canpossibly be avoided."

I saw my neighbour gardening, chatted with him for atime, and then strolled in to breakfast. It was a most un-exceptional morning. My neighbour was of opinion that thetroops would be able to capture or to destroy the Martiansduring the day.

"It's a pity they make themselves so unapproachable," hesaid. "It would be curious to know how they live on anotherplanet; we might learn a thing or two."

He came up to the fence and extended a handful of straw-berries, for his gardening was as generous as it was enthusi-astic. At the same time he told me of the burning of the pinewoods about the Byfleet Golf Links.

"They say," said he, "that there's another of those blessedthings fallen there--number two. But one's enough, surely.This lot'll cost the insurance people a pretty penny beforeeverything's settled." He laughed with an air of the greatestgood humour as he said this. The woods, he said, were stillburning, and pointed out a haze of smoke to me. "They willbe hot under foot for days, on account of the thick soil ofpine needles and turf," he said, and then grew serious over"poor Ogilvy."

After breakfast, instead of working, I decided to walkdown towards the common. Under the railway bridge I founda group of soldiers--sappers, I think, men in small roundcaps, dirty red jackets unbuttoned, and showing their blueshirts, dark trousers, and boots coming to the calf. They toldme no one was allowed over the canal, and, looking along theroad towards the bridge, I saw one of the Cardigan menstanding sentinel there. I talked with these soldiers for atime; I told them of my sight of the Martians on the previousevening. None of them had seen the Martians, and they hadbut the vaguest ideas of them, so that they plied me withquestions. They said that they did not know who hadauthorised the movements of the troops; their idea was thata dispute had arisen at the Horse Guards. The ordinarysapper is a great deal better educated than the commonsoldier, and they discussed the peculiar conditions of thepossible fight with some acuteness. I described the Heat-Rayto them, and they began to argue among themselves.

"Crawl up under cover and rush 'em, say I," said one.

"Get aht!," said another. "What's cover against this 'ere'eat? Sticks to cook yer! What we got to do is to go as nearas the ground'll let us, and then drive a trench."

"Blow yer trenches! You always want trenches; you oughtto ha" been born a rabbit Snippy."

"'Ain't they got any necks, then?" said a third, abruptly--a little, contemplative, dark man, smoking a pipe.

I repeated my description.

"Octopuses," said he, "that's what I calls 'em. Talk aboutfishers of men--fighters of fish it is this time!"

"It ain't no murder killing beasts like that," said the firstspeaker.

"Why not shell the darned things strite off and finish 'em?"said the little dark man. "You carn tell what they might do."

"Where's your shells?" said the first speaker. "There ain'tno time. Do it in a rush, that's my tip, and do it at once."

So they discussed it. After a while I left them, and wenton to the railway station to get as many morning papers asI could.

But I will not weary the reader with a description of thatlong morning and of the longer afternoon. I did not succeedin getting a glimpse of the common, for even Horsell andChobham church towers were in the hands of the militaryauthorities. The soldiers I addressed didn't know anything;the officers were mysterious as well as busy. I found peoplein the town quite secure again in the presence of the military,and I heard for the first time from Marshall, the tobacconist,that his son was among the dead on the common. The soldiershad made the people on the outskirts of Horsell lock up andleave their houses.

I got back to lunch about two, very tired for, as I havesaid, the day was extremely hot and dull; and in order torefresh myself I took a cold bath in the afternoon. About halfpast four I went up to the railway station to get an eveningpaper, for the morning papers had contained only a veryinaccurate description of the killing of Stent, Henderson,Ogilvy, and the others. But there was little I didn't know.The Martians did not show an inch of themselves. Theyseemed busy in their pit, and there was a sound of hammeringand an almost continuous streamer of smoke. Apparently theywere busy getting ready for a struggle. "Fresh attempts havebeen made to signal, but without success," was the stereo-typed formula of the papers. A sapper told me it was done bya man in a ditch with a flag on a long pole. The Martianstook as much notice of such advances as we should of thelowing of a cow.

I must confess the sight of all this armament, all thispreparation, greatly excited me. My imagination became bel-ligerent, and defeated the invaders in a dozen striking ways;something of my schoolboy dreams of battle and heroismcame back. It hardly seemed a fair fight to me at that time.They seemed very helpless in that pit of theirs.

About three o'clock there began the thud of a gun atmeasured intervals from Chertsey or Addlestone. I learnedthat the smouldering pine wood into which the second cylin-der had fallen was being shelled, in the hope of destroyingthat object before it opened. It was only about five, however,that a field gun reached Chobham for use against the firstbody of Martians.

About six in the evening, as I sat at tea with my wife inthe summerhouse talking vigorously about the battle that waslowering upon us, I heard a muffled detonation from thecommon, and immediately after a gust of firing. Close onthe heels of that came a violent rattling crash, quite closeto us, that shook the ground; and, starting out upon the lawn,I saw the tops of the trees about the Oriental College burstinto smoky red flame, and the tower of the little church besideit slide down into ruin. The pinnacle of the mosque hadvanished, and the roof line of the college itself looked as ifa hundred-ton gun had been at work upon it. One of ourchimneys cracked as if a shot had hit it, flew, and a pieceof it came clattering down the tiles and made a heap ofbroken red fragments upon the flower bed by my studywindow.

I and my wife stood amazed. Then I realised that the crestof Maybury Hill must be within range of the Martians" Heat-Ray now that the college was cleared out of the way.

At that I gripped my wife's arm, and without ceremonyran her out into the road. Then I fetched out the servant,telling her I would go upstairs myself for the box she wasclamouring for.

"We can't possibly stay here," I said; and as I spoke thefiring reopened for a moment upon the common.

"But where are we to go?" said my wife in terror.

I thought perplexed. Then I remembered her cousins atLeatherhead.

"Leatherhead!" I shouted above the sudden noise.

She looked away from me downhill. The people werecoming out of their houses, astonished.

"How are we to get to Leatherhead?" she said.

Down the hill I saw a bevy of hussars ride under therailway bridge; three galloped through the open gates ofthe Oriental College; two others dismounted, and beganrunning from house to house. The sun, shining through thesmoke that drove up from the tops of the trees, seemed bloodred, and threw an unfamiliar lurid light upon everything.

"Stop here," said I; "you are safe here"; and I started offat once for the Spotted Dog, for I knew the landlord had ahorse and dog cart. I ran, for I perceived that in a momenteveryone upon this side of the hill would be moving. I foundhim in his bar, quite unaware of what was going on behindhis house. A man stood with his back to me, talking to him.

"I must have a pound," said the landlord, "and I've noone to drive it."

"I'll give you two," said I, over the stranger's shoulder.

"What for?"

"And I'll bring it back by midnight," I said.

"Lord!" said the landlord; "what's the hurry? I'm sellingmy bit of a pig. Two pounds, and you bring it back? What'sgoing on now?"

I explained hastily that I had to leave my home, and sosecured the dog cart. At the time it did not seem to me nearlyso urgent that the landlord should leave his. I took care tohave the cart there and then, drove it off down the road, and,leaving it in charge of my wife and servant, rushed into myhouse and packed a few valuables, such plate as we had, andso forth. The beech trees below the house were burning whileI did this, and the palings up the road glowed red. While Iwas occupied in this way, one of the dismounted hussars camerunning up. He was going from house to house, warning peo-ple to leave. He was going on as I came out of my frontdoor, lugging my treasures, done up in a tablecloth. I shoutedafter him:

"What news?"

He turned, stared, bawled something about "crawling outin a thing like a dish cover," and ran on to the gate of thehouse at the crest. A sudden whirl of black smoke drivingacross the road hid him for a moment. I ran to my neighbour'sdoor and rapped to satisfy myself of what I already knew, thathis wife had gone to London with him and had locked uptheir house. I went in again, according to my promise, to getmy servant's box, lugged it out, clapped it beside her on thetail of the dog cart, and then caught the reins and jumpedup into the driver's seat beside my wife. In another momentwe were clear of the smoke and noise, and spanking down theopposite slope of Maybury Hill towards Old Woking.

In front was a quiet sunny landscape, a wheat field aheadon either side of the road, and the Maybury Inn with itsswinging sign. I saw the doctor's cart ahead of me. At thebottom of the hill I turned my head to look at the hillside Iwas leaving. Thick streamers of black smoke shot with threadsof red fire were driving up into the still air, and throwingdark shadows upon the green treetops eastward. The smokealready extended far away to the east and west--to the By-fleet pine woods eastward, and to Woking on the west. Theroad was dotted with people running towards us. And veryfaint now, but very distinct through the hot, quiet air, oneheard the whirr of a machine-gun that was presently stilled,and an intermittent cracking of rifles. Apparently the Mar-tians were setting fire to everything within range of theirHeat-Ray.

I am not an expert driver, and I had immediately to turnmy attention to the horse. When I looked back again thesecond hill had hidden the black smoke. I slashed the horsewith the whip, and gave him a loose rein until Woking andSend lay between us and that quivering tumult. I overtookand passed the doctor between Woking and Send.



Leatherhead is about twelve miles from Maybury Hill.The scent of hay was in the air through the lush meadowsbeyond Pyrford, and the hedges on either side were sweetand gay with multitudes of dog-roses. The heavy firing thathad broken out while we were driving down Maybury Hillceased as abruptly as it began, leaving the evening very peace-ful and still. We got to Leatherhead without misadventureabout nine o'clock, and the horse had an hour's rest whileI took supper with my cousins and commended my wife totheir care.

My wife was curiously silent throughout the drive, andseemed oppressed with forebodings of evil. I talked to herreassuringly, pointing out that the Martians were tied to thePit by sheer heaviness, and at the utmost could but crawla little out of it; but she answered only in monosyllables. Hadit not been for my promise to the innkeeper, she would, Ithink, have urged me to stay in Leatherhead that night. Wouldthat I had! Her face, I remember, was very white as weparted.

For my own part, I had been feverishly excited all day.Something very like the war fever that occasionally runsthrough a civilised community had got into my blood, andin my heart I was not so very sorry that I had to return toMaybury that night. I was even afraid that that last fusilladeI had heard might mean the extermination of our invadersfrom Mars. I can best express my state of mind by sayingthat I wanted to be in at the death.

It was nearly eleven when I started to return. The nightwas unexpectedly dark; to me, walking out of the lightedpassage of my cousins' house, it seemed indeed black, andit was as hot and close as the day. Overhead the clouds weredriving fast, albeit not a breath stirred the shrubs about us.My cousins' man lit both lamps. Happily, I knew the roadintimately. My wife stood in the light of the doorway, andwatched me until I jumped up into the dog cart. Thenabruptly she turned and went in, leaving my cousins side byside wishing me good hap.

I was a little depressed at first with the contagion of mywife's fears, but very soon my thoughts reverted to theMartians. At that time I was absolutely in the dark as tothe course of the evening's fighting. I did not know even thecircumstances that had precipitated the conflict. As I camethrough Ockham (for that was the way I returned, and notthrough Send and Old Woking) I saw along the westernhorizon a blood-red glow, which as I drew nearer, creptslowly up the sky. The driving clouds of the gathering thunder-storm mingled there with masses of black and red smoke.

Ripley Street was deserted, and except for a lighted windowor so the village showed not a sign of life; but I narrowlyescaped an accident at the corner of the road to Pyrford,where a knot of people stood with their backs to me. Theysaid nothing to me as I passed. I do not know what theyknew of the things happening beyond the hill, nor do I knowif the silent houses I passed on my way were sleeping securely,or deserted and empty, or harassed and watching against theterror of the night.

From Ripley until I came through Pyrford I was in thevalley of the Wey, and the red glare was hidden from me.As I ascended the little hill beyond Pyrford Church the glarecame into view again, and the trees about me shivered withthe first intimation of the storm that was upon me. Then Iheard midnight pealing out from Pyrford Church behind me,and then came the silhouette of Maybury Hill, with its tree-tops and roofs black and sharp against the red.

Even as I beheld this a lurid green glare lit the road aboutme and showed the distant woods towards Addlestone. I felta tug at the reins. I saw that the driving clouds had beenpierced as it were by a thread of green fire, suddenly lightingtheir confusion and falling into the field to my left. It wasthe third falling star!

Close on its apparition, and blindingly violet by contrast,danced out the first lightning of the gathering storm, and thethunder burst like a rocket overhead. The horse took the bitbetween his teeth and bolted.

A moderate incline runs towards the foot of Maybury Hill,and down this we clattered. Once the lightning had begun,it went on in as rapid a succession of flashes as I have everseen. The thunderclaps, treading one on the heels of anotherand with a strange crackling accompaniment, sounded morelike the working of a gigantic electric machine than the usualdetonating reverberations. The flickering light was blindingand confusing, and a thin hail smote gustily at my face asI drove down the slope.

At first I regarded little but the road before me, and thenabruptly my attention was arrested by something that wasmoving rapidly down the opposite slope of Maybury Hill. Atfirst I took it for the wet roof of a house, but one flashfollowing another showed it to be in swift rolling movement.It was an elusive vision--a moment of bewildering darkness, andthen, in a flash like daylight, the red masses of the Orphanagenear the crest of the hill, the green tops of the pine trees,and this problematical object came out clear and sharp andbright.

And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstroustripod, higher than many houses, striding over the youngpine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walkingengine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather;articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clatteringtumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder.A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way withtwo feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantlyas it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer.Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violentlyalong the ground? That was the impression those instantflashes gave. But instead of a milking stool imagine it agreat body of machinery on a tripod stand.

Then suddenly the trees in the pine wood ahead of mewere parted, as brittle reeds are parted by a man thrustingthrough them; they were snapped off and driven headlong,and a second huge tripod appeared, rushing, as it seemed,headlong towards me. And I was galloping hard to meet it!At the sight of the second monster my nerve went altogether.Not stopping to look again, I wrenched the horse's head hardround to the right and in another moment the dog cart hadheeled over upon the horse; the shafts smashed noisily, andI was flung sideways and fell heavily into a shallow pool ofwater.

I crawled out almost immediately, and crouched, my feetstill in the water, under a clump of furze. The horse laymotionless (his neck was broken, poor brute!) and by thelightning flashes I saw the black bulk of the overturned dogcart and the silhouette of the wheel still spinning slowly. Inanother moment the colossal mechanism went striding byme, and passed uphill towards Pyrford.

Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it wasno mere insensate machine driving on its way. Machine it was,with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glitteringtentacles (one of which gripped a young pine tree) swingingand rattling about its strange body. It picked its road as itwent striding along, and the brazen hood that surmountedit moved to and fro with the inevitable suggestion of a headlooking about. Behind the main body was a huge mass ofwhite metal like a gigantic fisherman's basket, and puffs ofgreen smoke squirted out from the joints of the limbs as themonster swept by me. And in an instant it was gone.

So much I saw then, all vaguely for the flickering of thelightning, in blinding highlights and dense black shadows.

As it passed it set up an exultant deafening howl thatdrowned the thunder--"Aloo! Aloo!"--and in another minuteit was with its companion, half a mile away, stooping oversomething in the field. I have no doubt this Thing in the fieldwas the third of the ten cylinders they had fired at us fromMars.

For some minutes I lay there in the rain and darknesswatching, by the intermittent light, these monstrous beingsof metal moving about in the distance over the hedge tops.A thin hail was now beginning, and as it came and went theirfigures grew misty and then flashed into clearness again. Nowand then came a gap in the lightning, and the night swallowedthem up.

I was soaked with hail above and puddle water below.It was some time before my blank astonishment would letme struggle up the bank to a drier position, or think at all ofmy imminent peril.

Not far from me was a little one-roomed squatter's hut ofwood, surrounded by a patch of potato garden. I struggledto my feet at last, and, crouching and making use of everychance of cover, I made a run for this. I hammered at thedoor, but I could not make the people hear (if there wereany people inside), and after a time I desisted, and, availingmyself of a ditch for the greater part of the way, succeededin crawling, unobserved by these monstrous machines, intothe pine woods towards Maybury.

Under cover of this I pushed on, wet and shivering now,towards my own house. I walked among the trees trying tofind the footpath. It was very dark indeed in the wood, forthe lightning was now becoming infrequent, and the hail,which was pouring down in a torrent, fell in columns throughthe gaps in the heavy foliage.

If I had fully realised the meaning of all the things I hadseen I should have immediately worked my way round throughByfleet to Street Cobham, and so gone back to rejoin my wifeat Leatherhead. But that night the strangeness of things aboutme, and my physical wretchedness, prevented me, for I wasbruised, weary, wet to the skin, deafened and blinded bythe storm.

I had a vague idea of going on to my own house, andthat was as much motive as I had. I staggered through thetrees, fell into a ditch and bruised my knees against a plank,and finally splashed out into the lane that ran down fromthe College Arms. I say splashed, for the storm water wassweeping the sand down the hill in a muddy torrent. Therein the darkness a man blundered into me and sent me reelingback.

He gave a cry of terror, sprang sideways, and rushed onbefore I could gather my wits sufficiently to speak to him.So heavy was the stress of the storm just at this place thatI had the hardest task to win my way up the hill. I went closeup to the fence on the left and worked my way along itspalings.

Near the top I stumbled upon something soft, and, by aflash of lightning, saw between my feet a heap of black broad-cloth and a pair of boots. Before I could distinguish clearlyhow the man lay, the flicker of light had passed. I stood overhim waiting for the next flash. When it came, I saw that hewas a sturdy man, cheaply but not shabbily dressed; his headwas bent under his body, and he lay crumpled up close tothe fence, as though he had been flung violently against it.

Overcoming the repugnance natural to one who had neverbefore touched a dead body, I stooped and turned him overto feel for his heart. He was quite dead. Apparently his neckhad been broken. The lightning flashed for a third time, andhis face leaped upon me. I sprang to my feet. It was thelandlord of the Spotted Dog, whose conveyance I had taken.

I stepped over him gingerly and pushed on up the hill. Imade my way by the police station and the College Armstowards my own house. Nothing was burning on the hillside,though from the common there still came a red glare and arolling tumult of ruddy smoke beating up against the drench-ing hail. So far as I could see by the flashes, the housesabout me were mostly uninjured. By the College Arms a darkheap lay in the road.

Down the road towards Maybury Bridge there were voicesand the sound of feet, but I had not the courage to shout orto go to them. I let myself in with my latchkey, closed, lockedand bolted the door, staggered to the foot of the staircase, andsat down. My imagination was full of those striding metallicmonsters, and of the dead body smashed against the fence.

I crouched at the foot of the staircase with my back to thewall, shivering violently.



I have already said that my storms of emotion have atrick of exhausting themselves. After a time I discovered thatI was cold and wet, and with little pools of water about meon the stair carpet. I got up almost mechanically, went intothe dining room and drank some whiskey, and then I wasmoved to change my clothes.

After I had done that I went upstairs to my study, but whyI did so I do not know. The window of my study looks overthe trees and the railway towards Horsell Common. In thehurry of our departure this window had been left open.The passage was dark, and, by contrast with the picture thewindow frame enclosed, the side of the room seemed im-penetrably dark. I stopped short in the doorway.

The thunderstorm had passed. The towers of the OrientalCollege and the pine trees about it had gone, and very faraway, lit by a vivid red glare, the common about the sandpits was visible. Across the light huge black shapes, gro-tesque and strange, moved busily to and fro.

It seemed indeed as if the whole country in that directionwas on fire--a broad hillside set with minute tongues of flame,swaying and writhing with the gusts of the dying storm, andthrowing a red reflection upon the cloud scud above. Everynow and then a haze of smoke from some nearer conflagra-tion drove across the window and hid the Martian shapes.I could not see what they were doing, nor the clear form ofthem, nor recognise the black objects they were busied upon.Neither could I see the nearer fire, though the reflections ofit danced on the wall and ceiling of the study. A sharp,resinous tang of burning was in the air.

I closed the door noiselessly and crept towards the window.As I did so, the view opened out until, on the one hand, itreached to the houses about Woking station, and on the otherto the charred and blackened pine woods of Byfleet. Therewas a light down below the hill, on the railway, near thearch, and several of the houses along the Maybury roadand the streets near the station were glowing ruins. The lightupon the railway puzzled me at first; there were a black heapand a vivid glare, and to the right of that a row of yellowoblongs. Then I perceived this was a wrecked train, the forepart smashed and on fire, the hinder carriages still uponthe rails.

Between these three main centres of light--the houses,the train, and the burning county towards Chobham--stretched irregular patches of dark country, broken here andthere by intervals of dimly glowing and smoking ground.It was the strangest spectacle, that black expanse set withfire. It reminded me, more than anything else, of the Potteriesat night. At first I could distinguish no people at all, thoughI peered intently for them. Later I saw against the light ofWoking station a number of black figures hurrying one afterthe other across the line.

And this was the little world in which I had been livingsecurely for years, this fiery chaos! What had happened inthe last seven hours I still did not know; nor did I know,though I was beginning to guess, the relation between thesemechanical colossi and the sluggish lumps I had seen dis-gorged from the cylinder. With a queer feeling of impersonalinterest I turned my desk chair to the window, sat down,and stared at the blackened country, and particularly at thethree gigantic black things that were going to and fro inthe glare about the sand pits.

They seemed amazingly busy. I began to ask myself whatthey could be. Were they intelligent mechanisms? Such athing I felt was impossible. Or did a Martian sit within each,ruling, directing, using, much as a man's brain sits and rulesin his body? I began to compare the things to human ma-chines, to ask myself for the first time in my life how anironclad or a steam engine would seem to an intelligentlower animal.

The storm had left the sky clear, and over the smoke of theburning land the little fading pinpoint of Mars was droppinginto the west, when a soldier came into my garden. I hearda slight scraping at the fence, and rousing myself from thelethargy that had fallen upon me, I looked down and sawhim dimly, clambering over the palings. At the sight ofanother human being my torpor passed, and I leaned outof the window eagerly.

"Hist!" said I, in a whisper.

He stopped astride of the fence in doubt. Then he cameover and across the lawn to the corner of the house. He bentdown and stepped softly.

"Who's there?" he said, also whispering, standing underthe window and peering up.

"Where are you going?" I asked.

"God knows."

"Are you trying to hide?"

"That's it."

"Come into the house," I said.

I went down, unfastened the door, and let him in, andlocked the door again. I could not see his face. He washatless, and his coat was unbuttoned.

"My God!" he said, as I drew him in.

"What has happened?" I asked.

"What hasn't?" In the obscurity I could see he made agesture of despair. "They wiped us out--simply wiped usout," he repeated again and again.

He followed me, almost mechanically, into the diningroom.

"Take some whiskey," I said, pouring out a stiff dose.

He drank it. Then abruptly he sat down before the table,put his head on his arms, and began to sob and weep like alittle boy, in a perfect passion of emotion, while I, with acurious forgetfulness of my own recent despair, stood besidehim, wondering.

It was a long time before he could steady his nerves toanswer my questions, and then he answered perplexingly andbrokenly. He was a driver in the artillery, and had only comeinto action about seven. At that time firing was going onacross the common, and it was said the first party of Martianswere crawling slowly towards their second cylinder undercover of a metal shield.

Later this shield staggered up on tripod legs and becamethe first of the fighting-machines I had seen. The gun hedrove had been unlimbered near Horsell, in order to com-mand the sand pits, and its arrival it was that had precipi-tated the action. As the limber gunners went to the rear, hishorse trod in a rabbit hole and came down, throwing himinto a depression of the ground. At the same moment thegun exploded behind him, the ammunition blew up, therewas fire all about him, and he found himself lying under aheap of charred dead men and dead horses.

"I lay still," he said, "scared out of my wits, with the forequarter of a horse atop of me. We'd been wiped out. Andthe smell--good God! Like burnt meat! I was hurt across theback by the fall of the horse, and there I had to lie until Ifelt better. Just like parade it had been a minute before--then stumble, bang, swish!"

"Wiped out!" he said.

He had hid under the dead horse for a long time, peepingout furtively across the common. The Cardigan men hadtried a rush, in skirmishing order, at the pit, simply to beswept out of existence. Then the monster had risen to itsfeet and had begun to walk leisurely to and fro across thecommon among the few fugitives, with its headlike hoodturning about exactly like the head of a cowled human being.A kind of arm carried a complicated metallic case, aboutwhich green flashes scintillated, and out of the funnel ofthis there smoked the Heat-Ray.

In a few minutes there was, so far as the soldier could see,not a living thing left upon the common, and every bush andtree upon it that was not already a blackened skeleton wasburning. The hussars had been on the road beyond thecurvature of the ground, and he saw nothing of them. Heheard the Martians rattle for a time and then become still.The giant saved Woking station and its cluster of houses untilthe last; then in a moment the Heat-Ray was brought to bear,and the town became a heap of fiery ruins. Then the Thingshut off the Heat-Ray, and turning its back upon the artillery-man, began to waddle away towards the smouldering pinewoods that sheltered the second cylinder. As it did so asecond glittering Titan built itself up out of the pit.

The second monster followed the first, and at that theartilleryman began to crawl very cautiously across the hotheather ash towards Horsell. He managed to get alive intothe ditch by the side of the road, and so escaped to Woking.There his story became ejaculatory. The place was impassable.It seems there were a few people alive there, frantic for themost part and many burned and scalded. He was turnedaside by the fire, and hid among some almost scorching heapsof broken wall as one of the Martian giants returned. Hesaw this one pursue a man, catch him up in one of its steelytentacles, and knock his head against the trunk of a pinetree. At last, after nightfall, the artilleryman made a rushfor it and got over the railway embankment.

Since then he had been skulking along towards Maybury,in the hope of getting out of danger Londonward. Peoplewere hiding in trenches and cellars, and many of the survivorshad made off towards Woking village and Send. He had beenconsumed with thirst until he found one of the water mainsnear the railway arch smashed, and the water bubbling outlike a spring upon the road.

That was the story I got from him, bit by bit. He grewcalmer telling me and trying to make me see the things hehad seen. He had eaten no food since midday, he told meearly in his narrative, and I found some mutton and breadin the pantry and brought it into the room. We lit no lampfor fear of attracting the Martians, and ever and again ourhands would touch upon bread or meat. As he talked, thingsabout us came darkly out of the darkness, and the trampledbushes and broken rose trees outside the window grew dis-tinct. It would seem that a number of men or animals hadrushed across the lawn. I began to see his face, blackenedand haggard, as no doubt mine was also.

When we had finished eating we went softly upstairs tomy study, and I looked again out of the open window. Inone night the valley had become a valley of ashes. The fireshad dwindled now. Where flames had been there were nowstreamers of smoke; but the countless ruins of shattered andgutted houses and blasted and blackened trees that the nighthad hidden stood out now gaunt and terrible in the pitilesslight of dawn. Yet here and there some object had had theluck to escape--a white railway signal here, the end of agreenhouse there, white and fresh amid the wreckage. Neverbefore in the history of warfare had destruction been soindiscriminate and so universal. And shining with the growinglight of the east, three of the metallic giants stood aboutthe pit, their cowls rotating as though they were surveyingthe desolation they had made.

It seemed to me that the pit had been enlarged, and everand again puffs of vivid green vapour streamed up and out ofit towards the brightening dawn--streamed up, whirled,broke, and vanished.

Beyond were the pillars of fire about Chobham. Theybecame pillars of bloodshot smoke at the first touch of day.




As the dawn grew brighter we withdrew from the win-dow from which we had watched the Martians, and wentvery quietly downstairs.

The artilleryman agreed with me that the house was noplace to stay in. He proposed, he said, to make his wayLondonward, and thence rejoin his battery--No. 12, of theHorse Artillery. My plan was to return at once to Leather-head; and so greatly had the strength of the Martians im-pressed me that I had determined to take my wife to New-haven, and go with her out of the country forthwith. For Ialready perceived clearly that the country about Londonmust inevitably be the scene of a disastrous struggle beforesuch creatures as these could be destroyed.

Between us and Leatherhead, however, lay the third cylin-der, with its guarding giants. Had I been alone, I think Ishould have taken my chance and struck across country. Butthe artilleryman dissuaded me: "It's no kindness to the rightsort of wife," he said, "to make her a widow"; and in the endI agreed to go with him, under cover of the woods, northwardas far as Street Cobham before I parted with him. Thence Iwould make a big detour by Epsom to reach Leatherhead.

I should have started at once, but my companion had beenin active service and he knew better than that. He made meransack the house for a flask, which he filled with whiskey;and we lined every available pocket with packets of biscuitsand slices of meat. Then we crept out of the house, and ranas quickly as we could down the ill-made road by which Ihad come overnight. The houses seemed deserted. In theroad lay a group of three charred bodies close together,struck dead by the Heat-Ray; and here and there were thingsthat people had dropped--a clock, a slipper, a silver spoon,and the like poor valuables. At the corner turning up towardsthe post office a little cart, filled with boxes and furniture,and horseless, heeled over on a broken wheel. A cash box hadbeen hastily smashed open and thrown under the debris.

Except the lodge at the Orphanage, which was still on fire,none of the houses had suffered very greatly here. The Heat-Ray had shaved the chimney tops and passed. Yet, save our-selves, there did not seem to be a living soul on MayburyHill. The majority of the inhabitants had escaped, I suppose,by way of the Old Woking road--the road I had taken whenI drove to Leatherhead--or they had hidden.

We went down the lane, by the body of the man in black,sodden now from the overnight hail, and broke into thewoods at the foot of the hill. We pushed through thesetowards the railway without meeting a soul. The woodsacross the line were but the scarred and blackened ruins ofwoods; for the most part the trees had fallen, but a certainproportion still stood, dismal grey stems, with dark brownfoliage instead of green.

On our side the fire had done no more than scorch thenearer trees; it had failed to secure its footing. In one placethe woodmen had been at work on Saturday; trees, felledand freshly trimmed, lay in a clearing, with heaps of sawdustby the sawing-machine and its engine. Hard by was a tem-porary hut, deserted. There was not a breath of wind thismorning, and everything was strangely still. Even the birdswere hushed, and as we hurried along I and the artillerymantalked in whispers and looked now and again over ourshoulders. Once or twice we stopped to listen.

After a time we drew near the road, and as we did so weheard the clatter of hoofs and saw through the tree stemsthree cavalry soldiers riding slowly towards Woking. Wehailed them, and they halted while we hurried towards them.It was a lieutenant and a couple of privates of the 8th Hus-sars, with a stand like a theodolite, which the artillerymantold me was a heliograph.

"You are the first men I've seen coming this way this morn-ing," said the lieutenant. "What's brewing?"

His voice and face were eager. The men behind him staredcuriously. The artilleryman jumped down the bank into theroad and saluted.

"Gun destroyed last night, sir. Have been hiding. Tryingto rejoin battery, sir. You'll come in sight of the Martians, Iexpect, about half a mile along this road."

"What the dickens are they like?" asked the lieutenant.

"Giants in armour, sir. Hundred feet high. Three legs anda body like 'luminium, with a mighty great head in a hood,sir."

"Get out!" said the lieutenant. "What confounded non-sense!"

"You'll see, sir. They carry a kind of box, sir, that shootsfire and strikes you dead."

"What d'ye mean--a gun?"

"No, sir," and the artilleryman began a vivid account ofthe Heat-Ray. Halfway through, the lieutenant interruptedhim and looked up at me. I was still standing on the bank bythe side of the road.

"It's perfectly true," I said.

"Well," said the lieutenant, "I suppose it's my business tosee it too. Look here"--to the artilleryman--"we're detailedhere clearing people out of their houses. You'd better goalong and report yourself to Brigadier-General Marvin, andtell him all you know. He's at Weybridge. Know the way?"

"I do," I said; and he turned his horse southward again.

"Half a mile, you say?" said he.

"At most," I answered, and pointed over the treetops south-ward. He thanked me and rode on, and we saw them nomore.

Farther along we came upon a group of three women andtwo children in the road, busy clearing out a labourer's cot-tage. They had got hold of a little hand truck, and were pilingit up with unclean-looking bundles and shabby furniture.They were all too assiduously engaged to talk to us as wepassed.

By Byfleet station we emerged from the pine trees, andfound the country calm and peaceful under the morning sun-light. We were far beyond the range of the Heat-Ray there,and had it not been for the silent desertion of some of thehouses, the stirring movement of packing in others, and theknot of soldiers standing on the bridge over the railway andstaring down the line towards Woking, the day would haveseemed very like any other Sunday.

Several farm waggons and carts were moving creakilyalong the road to Addlestone, and suddenly through the gateof a field we saw, across a stretch of flat meadow, six twelve-pounders standing neatly at equal distances pointing towardsWoking. The gunners stood by the guns waiting, and theammunition waggons were at a business-like distance. Themen stood almost as if under inspection.

"That's good!" said I. "They will get one fair shot, at anyrate."

The artilleryman hesitated at the gate.

"I shall go on," he said.

Farther on towards Weybridge, just over the bridge, therewere a number of men in white fatigue jackets throwing upa long rampart, and more guns behind.

"It's bows and arrows against the lightning, anyhow," saidthe artilleryman. "They 'aven't seen that fire-beam yet."

The officers who were not actively engaged stood andstared over the treetops southwestward, and the men diggingwould stop every now and again to stare in the same direc-tion.

Byfleet was in a tumult; people packing, and a score ofhussars, some of them dismounted, some on horseback, werehunting them about. Three or four black government wag-gons, with crosses in white circles, and an old omnibus, amongother vehicles, were being loaded in the village street. Therewere scores of people, most of them sufficiently sabbatical tohave assumed their best clothes. The soldiers were havingthe greatest difficulty in making them realise the gravity oftheir position. We saw one shrivelled old fellow with a hugebox and a score or more of flower pots containing orchids,angrily expostulating with the corporal who would leave thembehind. I stopped and gripped his arm.

"Do you know what's over there?" I said, pointing at thepine tops that hid the Martians.

"Eh?" said he, turning. "I was explainin" these is vallyble."

"Death!" I shouted. "Death is coming! Death!" and leavinghim to digest that if he could, I hurried on after the artillery-man. At the corner I looked back. The soldier had left him,and he was still standing by his box, with the pots of orchidson the lid of it, and staring vaguely over the trees.

No one in Weybridge could tell us where the headquarterswere established; the whole place was in such confusion as Ihad never seen in any town before. Carts, carriages every-where, the most astonishing miscellany of conveyances andhorseflesh. The respectable inhabitants of the place, men ingolf and boating costumes, wives prettily dressed, were pack-ing, river-side loafers energetically helping, children excited,and, for the most part, highly delighted at this astonishingvariation of their Sunday experiences. In the midst of it allthe worthy vicar was very pluckily holding an early celebra-tion, and his bell was jangling out above the excitement.

I and the artilleryman, seated on the step of the drinkingfountain, made a very passable meal upon what we hadbrought with us. Patrols of soldiers--here no longer hussars,but grenadiers in white--were warning people to move nowor to take refuge in their cellars as soon as the firing began.We saw as we crossed the railway bridge that a growingcrowd of people had assembled in and about the railwaystation, and the swarming platform was piled with boxes andpackages. The ordinary traffic had been stopped, I believe, inorder to allow of the passage of troops and guns to Chertsey,and I have heard since that a savage struggle occurred forplaces in the special trains that were put on at a later hour.

We remained at Weybridge until midday, and at that hourwe found ourselves at the place near Shepperton Lock wherethe Wey and Thames join. Part of the time we spent helpingtwo old women to pack a little cart. The Wey has a treblemouth, and at this point boats are to be hired, and there wasa ferry across the river. On the Shepperton side was an innwith a lawn, and beyond that the tower of Shepperton Church--it has been replaced by a spire--rose above the trees.

Here we found an excited and noisy crowd of fugitives. Asyet the flight had not grown to a panic, but there were alreadyfar more people than all the boats going to and fro couldenable to cross. People came panting along under heavy bur-dens; one husband and wife were even carrying a small out-house door between them, with some of their household goodspiled thereon. One man told us he meant to try to get awayfrom Shepperton station.

There was a lot of shouting, and one man was even jesting.The idea people seemed to have here was that the Martianswere simply formidable human beings, who might attack andsack the town, to be certainly destroyed in the end. Everynow and then people would glance nervously across the Wey,at the meadows towards Chertsey, but everything over therewas still.

Across the Thames, except just where the boats landed,everything was quiet, in vivid contrast with the Surrey side.The people who landed there from the boats went trampingoff down the lane. The big ferryboat had just made ajourney. Three or four soldiers stood on the lawn of the inn,staring and jesting at the fugitives, without offering to help.The inn was closed, as it was now within prohibited hours.

"What's that?" cried a boatman, and "Shut up, you fool!"said a man near me to a yelping dog. Then the sound cameagain, this time from the direction of Chertsey, a muffledthud--the sound of a gun.

The fighting was beginning. Almost immediately unseenbatteries across the river to our right, unseen because of thetrees, took up the chorus, firing heavily one after the other.A woman screamed. Everyone stood arrested by the suddenstir of battle, near us and yet invisible to us. Nothing was tobe seen save flat meadows, cows feeding unconcernedly forthe most part, and silvery pollard willows motionless in thewarm sunlight.

"The sojers'll stop 'em," said a woman beside me, doubt-fully. A haziness rose over the treetops.

Then suddenly we saw a rush of smoke far away up theriver, a puff of smoke that jerked up into the air and hung;and forthwith the ground heaved under foot and a heavyexplosion shook the air, smashing two or three windows inthe houses near, and leaving us astonished.

"Here they are!" shouted a man in a blue jersey. "Yonder!D'yer see them? Yonder!"

Quickly, one after the other, one, two, three, four of thearmoured Martians appeared, far away over the little trees,across the flat meadows that stretched towards Chertsey, andstriding hurriedly towards the river. Little cowled figures theyseemed at first, going with a rolling motion and as fast asflying birds.

Then, advancing obliquely towards us, came a fifth. Theirarmoured bodies glittered in the sun as they swept swiftlyforward upon the guns, growing rapidly larger as they drewnearer. One on the extreme left, the remotest that is, flour-ished a huge case high in the air, and the ghostly, terribleHeat-Ray I had already seen on Friday night smote towardsChertsey, and struck the town.

At sight of these strange, swift, and terrible creatures thecrowd near the water's edge seemed to me to be for a momenthorror-struck. There was no screaming or shouting, but asilence. Then a hoarse murmur and a movement of feet--asplashing from the water. A man, too frightened to drop theportmanteau he carried on his shoulder, swung round andsent me staggering with a blow from the corner of his burden.A woman thrust at me with her hand and rushed past me. Iturned with the rush of the people, but I was not too terrifiedfor thought. The terrible Heat-Ray was in my mind. To getunder water! That was it!

"Get under water!" I shouted, unheeded.

I faced about again, and rushed towards the approachingMartian, rushed right down the gravelly beach and headlonginto the water. Others did the same. A boatload of peopleputting back came leaping out as I rushed past. The stonesunder my feet were muddy and slippery, and the river wasso low that I ran perhaps twenty feet scarcely waist-deep.Then, as the Martian towered overhead scarcely a couple ofhundred yards away, I flung myself forward under the sur-face. The splashes of the people in the boats leaping into theriver sounded like thunderclaps in my ears. People werelanding hastily on both sides of the river. But the Martian machine took no more notice for themoment of the people running this way and that than a manwould of the confusion of ants in a nest against which hisfoot has kicked. When, half suffocated, I raised my headabove water, the Martian's hood pointed at the batteries thatwere still firing across the river, and as it advanced it swungloose what must have been the generator of the Heat-Ray.

In another moment it was on the bank, and in a stride wad-ing halfway across. The knees of its foremost legs bent atthe farther bank, and in another moment it had raised itselfto its full height again, close to the village of Shepperton.Forthwith the six guns which, unknown to anyone on theright bank, had been hidden behind the outskirts of thatvillage, fired simultaneously. The sudden near concussion,the last close upon the first, made my heart jump. Themonster was already raising the case generating the Heat-Rayas the first shell burst six yards above the hood.

I gave a cry of astonishment. I saw and thought nothing ofthe other four Martian monsters; my attention was rivetedupon the nearer incident. Simultaneously two other shellsburst in the air near the body as the hood twisted round intime to receive, but not in time to dodge, the fourth shell.

The shell burst clean in the face of the Thing. The hoodbulged, flashed, was whirled off in a dozen tattered frag-ments of red flesh and glittering metal.

"Hit!" shouted I, with something between a scream and acheer.

I heard answering shouts from the people in the waterabout me. I could have leaped out of the water with thatmomentary exultation.

The decapitated colossus reeled like a drunken giant; butit did not fall over. It recovered its balance by a miracle,and, no longer heeding its steps and with the camera that firedthe Heat-Ray now rigidly upheld, it reeled swiftly upon Shep-perton. The living intelligence, the Martian within the hood,was slain and splashed to the four winds of heaven, and theThing was now but a mere intricate device of metal whirlingto destruction. It drove along in a straight line, incapable ofguidance. It struck the tower of Shepperton Church, smash-ing it down as the impact of a battering ram might havedone, swerved aside, blundered on and collapsed with tre-mendous force into the river out of my sight.

A violent explosion shook the air, and a spout of water,steam, mud, and shattered metal shot far up into the sky.As the camera of the Heat-Ray hit the water, the latter hadimmediately flashed into steam. In another moment a hugewave, like a muddy tidal bore but almost scaldingly hot, camesweeping round the bend upstream. I saw people strugglingshorewards, and heard their screaming and shouting faintlyabove the seething and roar of the Martian's collapse.

For a moment I heeded nothing of the heat, forgot thepatent need of self-preservation. I splashed through the tu-multuous water, pushing aside a man in black to do so, untilI could see round the bend. Half a dozen deserted boatspitched aimlessly upon the confusion of the waves. The fallenMartian came into sight downstream, lying across the river,and for the most part submerged.

Thick clouds of steam were pouring off the wreckage, andthrough the tumultuously whirling wisps I could see, inter-mittently and vaguely, the gigantic limbs churning the waterand flinging a splash and spray of mud and froth into the air.The tentacles swayed and struck like living arms, and, savefor the helpless purposelessness of these movements, it wasas if some wounded thing were struggling for its life amidthe waves. Enormous quantities of a ruddy-brown fluid werespurting up in noisy jets out of the machine.

My attention was diverted from this death flurry by afurious yelling, like that of the thing called a siren in ourmanufacturing towns. A man, knee-deep near the towingpath, shouted inaudibly to me and pointed. Looking back,I saw the other Martians advancing with gigantic strides downthe riverbank from the direction of Chertsey. The Sheppertonguns spoke this time unavailingly.

At that I ducked at once under water, and, holding mybreath until movement was an agony, blundered painfullyahead under the surface as long as I could. The water was ina tumult about me, and rapidly growing hotter.

When for a moment I raised my head to take breath andthrow the hair and water from my eyes, the steam was risingin a whirling white fog that at first hid the Martians alto-gether. The noise was deafening. Then I saw them dimly,colossal figures of grey, magnified by the mist. They hadpassed by me, and two were stooping over the frothing, tu-multuous ruins of their comrade.

The third and fourth stood beside him in the water, oneperhaps two hundred yards from me, the other towards Lale-ham. The generators of the Heat-Rays waved high, and thehissing beams smote down this way and that.

The air was full of sound, a deafening and confusing con-flict of noises--the clangorous din of the Martians, the crashof falling houses, the thud of trees, fences, sheds flashing intoflame, and the crackling and roaring of fire. Dense blacksmoke was leaping up to mingle with the steam from theriver, and as the Heat-Ray went to and fro over Weybridgeits impact was marked by flashes of incandescent white, thatgave place at once to a smoky dance of lurid flames. Thenearer houses still stood intact, awaiting their fate, shadowy,faint and pallid in the steam, with the fire behind themgoing to and fro.

For a moment perhaps I stood there, breast-high in thealmost boiling water, dumbfounded at my position, hopelessof escape. Through the reek I could see the people who hadbeen with me in the river scrambling out of the waterthrough the reeds, like little frogs hurrying through grassfrom the advance of a man, or running to and fro in utterdismay on the towing path.

Then suddenly the white flashes of the Heat-Ray cameleaping towards me. The houses caved in as they dissolved atits touch, and darted out flames; the trees changed to fire witha roar. The Ray flickered up and down the towing path,licking off the people who ran this way and that, and camedown to the water's edge not fifty yards from where I stood.It swept across the river to Shepperton, and the water in itstrack rose in a boiling weal crested with steam. I turnedshoreward.

In another moment the huge wave, well-nigh at the boiling-point had rushed upon me. I screamed aloud, and scalded,half blinded, agonised, I staggered through the leaping, hiss-ing water towards the shore. Had my foot stumbled, it wouldhave been the end. I fell helplessly, in full sight of the Mar-tians, upon the broad, bare gravelly spit that runs down tomark the angle of the Wey and Thames. I expected nothingbut death.

I have a dim memory of the foot of a Martian comingdown within a score of yards of my head, driving straightinto the loose gravel, whirling it this way and that andlifting again; of a long suspense, and then of the four carry-ing the debris of their comrade between them, now clearand then presently faint through a veil of smoke, recedinginterminably, as it seemed to me, across a vast space of riverand meadow. And then, very slowly, I realised that by amiracle I had escaped.



After getting this sudden lesson in the power of terres-trial weapons, the Martians retreated to their original positionupon Horsell Common; and in their haste, and encumberedwith the de'bris of their smashed companion, they no doubtoverlooked many such a stray and negligible victim as myself.Had they left their comrade and pushed on forthwith, therewas nothing at that time between them and London butbatteries of twelve-pounder guns, and they would certainlyhave reached the capital in advance of the tidings of theirapproach; as sudden, dreadful, and destructive their adventwould have been as the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon acentury ago.

But they were in no hurry. Cylinder followed cylinder onits interplanetary flight; every twenty-four hours broughtthem reinforcement. And meanwhile the military and navalauthorities, now fully alive to the tremendous power of theirantagonists, worked with furious energy. Every minute afresh gun came into position until, before twilight, everycopse, every row of suburban villas on the hilly slopes aboutKingston and Richmond, masked an expectant black muzzle.And through the charred and desolated area--perhaps twentysquare miles altogether--that encircled the Martian encamp-ment on Horsell Common, through charred and ruined villagesamong the green trees, through the blackened and smokingarcades that had been but a day ago pine spinneys, crawledthe devoted scouts with the heliographs that were presentlyto warn the gunners of the Martian approach. But the Mar-tians now understood our command of artillery and thedanger of human proximity, and not a man ventured withina mile of either cylinder, save at the price of his life.

It would seem that these giants spent the earlier part ofthe afternoon in going to and fro, transferring everythingfrom the second and third cylinders--the second in Addle-stone Golf Links and the third at Pyrford--to their originalpit on Horsell Common. Over that, above the blackenedheather and ruined buildings that stretched far and wide,stood one as sentinel, while the rest abandoned their vastfighting-machines and descended into the pit. They werehard at work there far into the night, and the towering pillarof dense green smoke that rose therefrom could be seen fromthe hills about Merrow, and even, it is said, from Bansteadand Epsom Downs.

And while the Martians behind me were thus preparingfor their next sally, and in front of me Humanity gatheredfor the battle, I made my way with infinite pains and labourfrom the fire and smoke of burning Weybridge towardsLondon.

I saw an abandoned boat, very small and remote, driftingdown-stream; and throwing off the most of my soddenclothes, I went after it, gained it, and so escaped out of thatdestruction. There were no oars in the boat, but I contrivedto paddle, as well as my parboiled hands would allow, downthe river towards Halliford and Walton, going very tediouslyand continually looking behind me, as you may well under-stand. I followed the river, because I considered that thewater gave me my best chance of escape should these giantsreturn.

The hot water from the Martian's overthrow drifted down-stream with me, so that for the best part of a mile I could seelittle of either bank. Once, however, I made out a string ofblack figures hurrying across the meadows from the directionof Weybridge. Halliford, it seemed, was deserted, and sev-eral of the houses facing the river were on fire. It was strangeto see the place quite tranquil, quite desolate under the hotblue sky, with the smoke and little threads of flame goingstraight up into the heat of the afternoon. Never before hadI seen houses burning without the accompaniment of anobstructive crowd. A little farther on the dry reeds up thebank were smoking and glowing, and a line of fire inland wasmarching steadily across a late field of hay.

For a long time I drifted, so painful and weary was I afterthe violence I had been through, and so intense the heat uponthe water. Then my fears got the better of me again, and Iresumed my paddling. The sun scorched my bare back. Atlast, as the bridge at Walton was coming into sight round thebend, my fever and faintness overcame my fears, and I landedon the Middlesex bank and lay down, deadly sick, amid thelong grass. I suppose the time was then about four or fiveo'clock. I got up presently, walked perhaps half a mile with-out meeting a soul, and then lay down again in the shadow ofa hedge. I seem to remember talking, wanderingly, to myselfduring that last spurt. I was also very thirsty, and bitterlyregretful I had drunk no more water. It is a curious thingthat I felt angry with my wife; I cannot account for it,but my impotent desire to reach Leatherhead worried meexcessively.

I do not clearly remember the arrival of the curate, so thatprobably I dozed. I became aware of him as a seated figurein soot-smudged shirt sleeves, and with his upturned, clean-shaven face staring at a faint flickering that danced over thesky. The sky was what is called a mackerel sky--rows androws of faint down-plumes of cloud, just tinted with themidsummer sunset.

I sat up, and at the rustle of my motion he looked at mequickly.

"Have you any water?" I asked abruptly.

He shook his head.

"You have been asking for water for the last hour," he said.

For a moment we were silent, taking stock of each other. Idare say he found me a strange enough figure, naked, savefor my water-soaked trousers and socks, scalded, and my faceand shoulders blackened by the smoke. His face was a fairweakness, his chin retreated, and his hair lay in crisp, almostflaxen curls on his low forehead; his eyes were rather large,pale blue, and blankly staring. He spoke abruptly, lookingvacantly away from me.

"What does it mean?" he said. "What do these thingsmean?"

I stared at him and made no answer.

He extended a thin white hand and spoke in almost acomplaining tone.

"Why are these things permitted? What sins have wedone? The morning service was over, I was walking throughthe roads to clear my brain for the afternoon, and then--fire,earthquake, death! As if it were Sodom and Gomorrah! Allour work undone, all the work---- What are these Mar-tians?"

"What are we?" I answered, clearing my throat.

He gripped his knees and turned to look at me again. Forhalf a minute, perhaps, he stared silently.

"I was walking through the roads to clear my brain," hesaid. "And suddenly--fire, earthquake, death!"

He relapsed into silence, with his chin now sunken almostto his knees.

Presently he began waving his hand.

"All the work--all the Sunday schools---- What have wedone--what has Weybridge done? Everything gone--every-thing destroyed. The church! We rebuilt it only three yearsago. Gone! Swept out of existence! Why?"

Another pause, and he broke out again like one de-mented.

"The smoke of her burning goeth up for ever and ever!"he shouted.

His eyes flamed, and he pointed a lean finger in the direc-tion of Weybridge.

By this time I was beginning to take his measure. Thetremendous tragedy in which he had been involved--it wasevident he was a fugitive from Weybridge--had driven himto the very verge of his reason.

"Are we far from Sunbury?" I said, in a matter-of-fact tone.

"What are we to do?" he asked. "Are these creatures every-where? Has the earth been given over to them?"

"Are we far from Sunbury?"

"Only this morning I officiated at early celebration----"

"Things have changed," I said, quietly. "You must keepyour head. There is still hope."


"Yes. Plentiful hope--for all this destruction!"

I began to explain my view of our position. He listened atfirst, but as I went on the interest dawning in his eyes gaveplace to their former stare, and his regard wandered fromme.

"This must be the beginning of the end," he said, inter-rupting me. "The end! The great and terrible day of theLord! When men shall call upon the mountains and the rocksto fall upon them and hide them--hide them from the faceof Him that sitteth upon the throne!"

I began to understand the position. I ceased my labouredreasoning, struggled to my feet, and, standing over him, laidmy hand on his shoulder.

"Be a man!" said I. "You are scared out of your wits! Whatgood is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of whatearthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done beforeto men! Did you think God had exempted Weybridge? He isnot an insurance agent."

For a time he sat in blank silence.

"But how can we escape?" he asked, suddenly. "They areinvulnerable, they are pitiless."

"Neither the one nor, perhaps, the other," I answered."And the mightier they are the more sane and wary shouldwe be. One of them was killed yonder not three hours ago."

"Killed!" he said, staring about him. "How can God's min-isters be killed?"

"I saw it happen." I proceeded to tell him. "We havechanced to come in for the thick of it," said I, "and that isall."

"What is that flicker in the sky?" he asked abruptly.

I told him it was the heliograph signalling--that it was thesign of human help and effort in the sky.

"We are in the midst of it," I said, "quiet as it is. Thatflicker in the sky tells of the gathering storm. Yonder, I takeit are the Martians, and Londonward, where those hills riseabout Richmond and Kingston and the trees give cover, earth-works are being thrown up and guns are being placed. Pres-ently the Martians will be coming this way again."

And even as I spoke he sprang to his feet and stopped meby a gesture.

"Listen!" he said.

From beyond the low hills across the water came the dullresonance of distant guns and a remote weird crying. Theneverything was still. A cockchafer came droning over thehedge and past us. High in the west the crescent moon hungfaint and pale above the smoke of Weybridge and Shepper-ton and the hot, still splendour of the sunset.

"We had better follow this path," I said, "northward."



My younger brother was in London when the Martiansfell at Woking. He was a medical student working for animminent examination, and he heard nothing of the arrivaluntil Saturday morning. The morning papers on Saturdaycontained, in addition to lengthy special articles on the planetMars, on life in the planets, and so forth, a brief and vaguelyworded telegram, all the more striking for its brevity.

The Martians, alarmed by the approach of a crowd, hadkilled a number of people with a quick-firing gun, so thestory ran. The telegram concluded with the words: "Formi-dable as they seem to be, the Martians have not moved fromthe pit into which they have fallen, and, indeed, seem incapa-ble of doing so. Probably this is due to the relative strengthof the earth's gravitational energy." On that last text theirleader-writer expanded very comfortingly.

Of course all the students in the crammer's biology class,to which my brother went that day, were intensely interested,but there were no signs of any unusual excitement in thestreets. The afternoon papers puffed scraps of news under bigheadlines. They had nothing to tell beyond the movementsof troops about the common, and the burning of the pinewoods between Woking and Weybridge, until eight. Thenthe ST. JAMES'S GAZETTE, in an extra-special edition, announcedthe bare fact of the interruption of telegraphic communica-tion. This was thought to be due to the falling of burning pinetrees across the line. Nothing more of the fighting was knownthat night, the night of my drive to Leatherhead andback.

My brother felt no anxiety about us, as he knew from thedescription in the papers that the cylinder was a good twomiles from my house. He made up his mind to run down thatnight to me, in order, as he says, to see the Things beforethey were killed. He despatched a telegram, which neverreached me, about four o'clock, and spent the evening at amusic hall.

In London, also, on Saturday night there was a thunder-storm, and my brother reached Waterloo in a cab. On theplatform from which the midnight train usually starts helearned, after some waiting, that an accident prevented trainsfrom reaching Woking that night. The nature of the accidenthe could not ascertain; indeed, the railway authorities did notclearly know at that time. There was very little excitementin the station, as the officials, failing to realise thatanything further than a breakdown between Byfleet and Wokingjunction had occurred, were running the theatre trains whichusually passed through Woking round by Virginia Water orGuildford. They were busy making the necessary arrange-ments to alter the route of the Southampton and PortsmouthSunday League excursions. A nocturnal newspaper reporter,mistaking my brother for the traffic manager, to whom hebears a slight resemblance, waylaid and tried to interviewhim. Few people, excepting the railway officials, connectedthe breakdown with the Martians.

I have read, in another account of these events, that onSunday morning "all London was electrified by the newsfrom Woking." As a matter of fact, there was nothing tojustify that very extravagant phrase. Plenty of Londonersdid not hear of the Martians until the panic of Monday morn-ing. Those who did took some time to realise all that thehastily worded telegrams in the Sunday papers conveyed.The majority of people in London do not read Sundaypapers.

The habit of personal security, moreover, is so deeply fixedin the Londoner's mind, and startling intelligence so much amatter of course in the papers, that they could read withoutany personal tremors: "About seven o'clock last night theMartians came out of the cylinder, and, moving about underan armour of metallic shields, have completely wreckedWoking station with the adjacent houses, and massacred anentire battalion of the Cardigan Regiment. No details areknown. Maxims have been absolutely useless against theirarmour; the field guns have been disabled by them. Flyinghussars have been galloping into Chertsey. The Martiansappear to be moving slowly towards Chertsey or Windsor.Great anxiety prevails in West Surrey, and earthworks arebeing thrown up to check the advance Londonward." Thatwas how the Sunday SUN put it, and a clever and remarkablyprompt "handbook" article in the REFEREE compared the affairto a menagerie suddenly let loose in a village.

No one in London knew positively of the nature of thearmoured Martians, and there was still a fixed idea that thesemonsters must be sluggish: "crawling," "creeping painfully"--such expressions occurred in almost all the earlier reports.None of the telegrams could have been written by an eye-witness of their advance. The Sunday papers printed separateeditions as further news came to hand, some even in defaultof it. But there was practically nothing more to tell peopleuntil late in the afternoon, when the authorities gave thepress agencies the news in their possession. It was stated thatthe people of Walton and Weybridge, and all the districtwere pouring along the roads Londonward, and that was all.

My brother went to church at the Foundling Hospital inthe morning, still in ignorance of what had happened on theprevious night. There he heard allusions made to the invasion,and a special prayer for peace. Coming out, he bought aREFEREE. He became alarmed at the news in this, and wentagain to Waterloo station to find out if communication wererestored. The omnibuses, carriages, cyclists, and innumerablepeople walking in their best clothes seemed scarcely affectedby the strange intelligence that the news venders were dis-seminating. People were interested, or, if alarmed, alarmedonly on account of the local residents. At the station he heardfor the first time that the Windsor and Chertsey lines werenow interrupted. The porters told him that several remark-able telegrams had been received in the morning from Byfleetand Chertsey stations, but that these had abruptly ceased. Mybrother could get very little precise detail out of them.

"There's fighting going on about Weybridge" was theextent of their information.

The train service was now very much disorganised. Quitea number of people who had been expecting friends fromplaces on the South-Western network were standing aboutthe station. One grey-headed old gentleman came and abusedthe South-Western Company bitterly to my brother. "It wantsshowing up," he said.

One or two trains came in from Richmond, Putney, andKingston, containing people who had gone out for a day'sboating and found the locks closed and a feeling of panic inthe air. A man in a blue and white blazer addressed mybrother, full of strange tidings.

"There's hosts of people driving into Kingston in traps andcarts and things, with boxes of valuables and all that," hesaid. "They come from Molesey and Weybridge and Walton,and they say there's been guns heard at Chertsey, heavyfiring, and that mounted soldiers have told them to get off atonce because the Martians are coming. We heard guns firingat Hampton Court station, but we thought it was thunder.What the dickens does it all mean? The Martians can't getout of their pit, can they?"

My brother could not tell him.

Afterwards he found that the vague feeling of alarm hadspread to the clients of the underground railway, and thatthe Sunday excursionists began to return from all over theSouth-Western "lung"--Barnes, Wimbledon, Richmond Park,Kew, and so forth--at unnaturally early hours; but not asoul had anything more than vague hearsay to tell of. Every-one connected with the terminus seemed ill-tempered.

About five o'clock the gathering crowd in the station wasimmensely excited by the opening of the line of communica-tion, which is almost invariably closed, between the South-Eastern and the South-Western stations, and the passage ofcarriage trucks bearing huge guns and carriages crammedwith soldiers. These were the guns that were brought upfrom Woolwich and Chatham to cover Kingston. There wasan exchange of pleasantries: "You'll get eaten!" "We're thebeast-tamers!" and so forth. A little while after that a squadof police came into the station and began to clear the public offthe platforms, and my brother went out into the street again.

The church bells were ringing for evensong, and a squad ofSalvation Army lassies came singing down Waterloo Road.On the bridge a number of loafers were watching a curiousbrown scum that came drifting down the stream in patches.The sun was just setting, and the Clock Tower and the Housesof Parliament rose against one of the most peaceful skies itis possible to imagine, a sky of gold, barred with long trans-verse stripes of reddish-purple cloud. There was talk of afloating body. One of the men there, a reservist he said hewas, told my brother he had seen the heliograph flickeringin the west.

In Wellington Street my brother met a couple of sturdyroughs who had just been rushed out of Fleet Street with still-wet newspapers and staring placards. "Dreadful catastrophe!"they bawled one to the other down Wellington Street. "Fighting at Weybridge! Full description! Repulse of the Martians!London in Danger!" He had to give threepence for a copy ofthat paper.

Then it was, and then only, that he realised something ofthe full power and terror of these monsters. He learned thatthey were not merely a handful of small sluggish creatures,but that they were minds swaying vast mechanical bodies;and that they could move swiftly and smite with such powerthat even the mightiest guns could not stand against them.

They were described as "vast spiderlike machines, nearlya hundred feet high, capable of the speed of an express train,and able to shoot out a beam of intense heat." Masked batter-ies, chiefly of field guns, had been planted in the countryabout Horsell Common, and especially between the Wokingdistrict and London. Five of the machines had been seenmoving towards the Thames, and one, by a happy chance,had been destroyed. In the other cases the shells had missed,and the batteries had been at once annihilated by the Heat-Rays. Heavy losses of soldiers were mentioned, but the toneof the despatch was optimistic.

The Martians had been repulsed; they were not invulnera-ble. They had retreated to their triangle of cylinders again, inthe circle about Woking. Signallers with heliographs werepushing forward upon them from all sides. Guns were in rapidtransit from Windsor, Portsmouth, Aldershot, Woolwich--even from the north; among others, long wire-guns of ninety-five tons from Woolwich. Altogether one hundred and sixteenwere in position or being hastily placed, chiefly covering Lon-don. Never before in England had there been such a vast orrapid concentration of military material.

Any further cylinders that fell, it was hoped, could bedestroyed at once by high explosives, which were being rap-idly manufactured and distributed. No doubt, ran the report,the situation was of the strangest and gravest description, butthe public was exhorted to avoid and discourage panic. Nodoubt the Martians were strange and terrible in the extreme,but at the outside there could not be more than twenty ofthem against our millions.

The authorities had reason to suppose, from the size of thecylinders, that at the outside there could not be more thanfive in each cylinder--fifteen altogether. And one at least wasdisposed of--perhaps more. The public would be fairlywarned of the approach of danger, and elaborate measureswere being taken for the protection of the people in thethreatened southwestern suburbs. And so, with reiteratedassurances of the safety of London and the ability of theauthorities to cope with the difficulty, this quasi-proclamationclosed.

This was printed in enormous type on paper so fresh that itwas still wet, and there had been no time to add a word ofcomment. It was curious, my brother said, to see how ruth-lessly the usual contents of the paper had been hacked andtaken out to give this place.

All down Wellington Street people could be seen flutteringout the pink sheets and reading, and the Strand was suddenlynoisy with the voices of an army of hawkers following thesepioneers. Men came scrambling off buses to secure copies.Certainly this news excited people intensely, whatevertheir previous apathy. The shutters of a map shop in theStrand were being taken down, my brother said, and a manin his Sunday raiment, lemon-yellow gloves even, was visi-ble inside the window hastily fastening maps of Surrey tothe glass.

Going on along the Strand to Trafalgar Square, the paperin his hand, my brother saw some of the fugitives from WestSurrey. There was a man with his wife and two boys andsome articles of furniture in a cart such as greengrocers use.He was driving from the direction of Westminster Bridge;and close behind him came a hay waggon with five or sixrespectable-looking people in it, and some boxes and bundles.The faces of these people were haggard, and their entireappearance contrasted conspicuously with the Sabbath-bestappearance of the people on the omnibuses. People in fash-ionable clothing peeped at them out of cabs. They stopped atthe Square as if undecided which way to take, and finallyturned eastward along the Strand. Some way behind thesecame a man in workday clothes, riding one of those old-fashioned tricycles with a small front wheel. He was dirty andwhite in the face.

My brother turned down towards Victoria, and met a num-ber of such people. He had a vague idea that he might seesomething of me. He noticed an unusual number of policeregulating the traffic. Some of the refugees were exchangingnews with the people on the omnibuses. One was professingto have seen the Martians. "Boilers on stilts, I tell you,striding along like men." Most of them were excited andanimated by their strange experience.

Beyond Victoria the public-houses were doing a lively tradewith these arrivals. At all the street corners groups of peoplewere reading papers, talking excitedly, or staring at theseunusual Sunday visitors. They seemed to increase as nightdrew on, until at last the roads, my brother said, were likeEpsom High Street on a Derby Day. My brother addressedseveral of these fugitives and got unsatisfactory answers frommost.

None of them could tell him any news of Woking exceptone man, who assured him that Woking had been entirelydestroyed on the previous night.

"I come from Byfleet," he said; "man on a bicycle camethrough the place in the early morning, and ran from door todoor warning us to come away. Then came soldiers. We wentout to look, and there were clouds of smoke to the south--nothing but smoke, and not a soul coming that way. Thenwe heard the guns at Chertsey, and folks coming from Wey-bridge. So I've locked up my house and come on."

At the time there was a strong feeling in the streets that theauthorities were to blame for their incapacity to dispose ofthe invaders without all this inconvenience.

About eight o'clock a noise of heavy firing was distinctlyaudible all over the south of London. My brother could nothear it for the traffic in the main thoroughfares, but by strik-ing through the quiet back streets to the river he was able todistinguish it quite plainly.

He walked from Westminster to his apartments near Re-gent's Park, about two. He was now very anxious on myaccount, and disturbed at the evident magnitude of thetrouble. His mind was inclined to run, even as mine had runon Saturday, on military details. He thought of all thosesilent, expectant guns, of the suddenly nomadic countryside;he tried to imagine "boilers on stilts" a hundred feet high.

There were one or two cartloads of refugees passing alongOxford Street, and several in the Marylebone Road, but soslowly was the news spreading that Regent Street and Port-land Place were full of their usual Sunday-night promenaders,albeit they talked in groups, and along the edge of Regent'sPark there were as many silent couples "walking out" togetherunder the scattered gas lamps as ever there had been. Thenight was warm and still, and a little oppressive; the soundof guns continued intermittently, and after midnight thereseemed to be sheet lightning in the south.

He read and re-read the paper, fearing the worst had hap-pened to me. He was restless, and after supper prowled outagain aimlessly. He returned and tried in vain to divert hisattention to his examination notes. He went to bed a littleafter midnight, and was awakened from lurid dreams in thesmall hours of Monday by the sound of door knockers, feetrunning in the street, distant drumming, and a clamourof bells. Red reflections danced on the ceiling. For a momenthe lay astonished, wondering whether day had come or theworld gone mad. Then he jumped out of bed and ran to thewindow.

His room was an attic and as he thrust his head out, upand down the street there were a dozen echoes to the noiseof his window sash, and heads in every kind of night disarrayappeared. Enquiries were being shouted. "They are coming!"bawled a policeman, hammering at the door; "the Martiansare coming!" and hurried to the next door.

The sound of drumming and trumpeting came from theAlbany Street Barracks, and every church within earshot washard at work killing sleep with a vehement disorderly tocsin.There was a noise of doors opening, and window after win-dow in the houses opposite flashed from darkness into yellowillumination.

Up the street came galloping a closed carriage, burstingabruptly into noise at the corner, rising to a clattering climaxunder the window, and dying away slowly in the distance.Close on the rear of this came a couple of cabs, the forerun-ners of a long procession of flying vehicles, going for the mostpart to Chalk Farm station, where the North-Western specialtrains were loading up, instead of coming down the gradientinto Euston.

For a long time my brother stared out of the window inblank astonishment, watching the policemen hammering atdoor after door, and delivering their incomprehensible mes-sage. Then the door behind him opened, and the man wholodged across the landing came in, dressed only in shirt,trousers, and slippers, his braces loose about his waist, hishair disordered from his pillow.

"What the devil is it?" he asked. "A fire? What a devil of arow!"

They both craned their heads out of the window, strainingto hear what the policemen were shouting. People were com-ing out of the side streets, and standing in groups at thecorners talking.

"What the devil is it all about?" said my brother's fellowlodger.

My brother answered him vaguely and began to dress,running with each garment to the window in order to missnothing of the growing excitement. And presently men sellingunnaturally early newspapers came bawling into the street:

"London in danger of suffocation! The Kingston and Rich-mond defences forced! Fearful massacres in the ThamesValley!"

And all about him--in the rooms below, in the houses oneach side and across the road, and behind in the Park Ter-races and in the hundred other streets of that part of Maryle-bone, and the Westbourne Park district and St. Pancras, andwestward and northward in Kilburn and St. John's Wood andHampstead, and eastward in Shoreditch and Highbury andHaggerston and Hoxton, and, indeed, through all the vastnessof London from Ealing to East Ham--people were rubbingtheir eyes, and opening windows to stare out and ask aimlessquestions, dressing hastily as the first breath of the comingstorm of Fear blew through the streets. It was the dawn ofthe great panic. London, which had gone to bed on Sundaynight oblivious and inert, was awakened, in the small hoursof Monday morning, to a vivid sense of danger.

Unable from his window to learn what was happening, mybrother went down and out into the street, just as the skybetween the parapets of the houses grew pink with the earlydawn. The flying people on foot and in vehicles grew morenumerous every moment. "Black Smoke!" he heard peoplecrying, and again "Black Smoke!" The contagion of such aunanimous fear was inevitable. As my brother hesitated onthe door-step, he saw another news vender approaching, andgot a paper forthwith. The man was running away with therest, and selling his papers for a shilling each as he ran--agrotesque mingling of profit and panic.

And from this paper my brother read that catastrophicdespatch of the Commander-in-Chief:

"The Martians are able to discharge enormous clouds of ablack and poisonous vapour by means of rockets. They havesmothered our batteries, destroyed Richmond, Kingston, andWimbledon, and are advancing slowly towards London, de-stroying everything on the way. It is impossible to stop them.There is no safety from the Black Smoke but in instant flight."

That was all, but it was enough. The whole population ofthe great six-million city was stirring, slipping, running; pres-ently it would be pouring EN MASSE northward.

"Black Smoke!" the voices cried. "Fire!"

The bells of the neighbouring church made a janglingtumult, a cart carelessly driven smashed, amid shrieks andcurses, against the water trough up the street. Sickly yellowlights went to and fro in the houses, and some of the passingcabs flaunted unextinguished lamps. And overhead the dawnwas growing brighter, clear and steady and calm.

He heard footsteps running to and fro in the rooms, andup and down stairs behind him. His landlady came to thedoor, loosely wrapped in dressing gown and shawl; her hus-band followed ejaculating.

As my brother began to realise the import of all thesethings, he turned hastily to his own room, put all his availablemoney--some ten pounds altogether--into his pockets, andwent out again into the streets.



It was while the curate had sat and talked so wildly tome under the hedge in the flat meadows near Halliford, andwhile my brother was watching the fugitives stream overWestminster Bridge, that the Martians had resumed the of-fensive. So far as one can ascertain from the conflictingaccounts that have been put forth, the majority of themremained busied with preparations in the Horsell pit untilnine that night, hurrying on some operation that disengagedhuge volumes of green smoke.

But three certainly came out about eight o'clock and,advancing slowly and cautiously, made their way throughByfleet and Pyrford towards Ripley and Weybridge, and socame in sight of the expectant batteries against the settingsun. These Martians did not advance in a body, but in a line,each perhaps a mile and a half from his nearest fellow. Theycommunicated with one another by means of sirenlike howls,running up and down the scale from one note to another.

It was this howling and firing of the guns at Ripley andSt. George's Hill that we had heard at Upper Halliford. TheRipley gunners, unseasoned artillery volunteers who oughtnever to have been placed in such a position, fired one wild,premature, ineffectual volley, and bolted on horse and footthrough the deserted village, while the Martian, without usinghis Heat-Ray, walked serenely over their guns, stepped gin-gerly among them, passed in front of them, and so cameunexpectedly upon the guns in Painshill Park, which hedestroyed.

The St. George's Hill men, however, were better led or ofa better mettle. Hidden by a pine wood as they were, theyseem to have been quite unsuspected by the Martian nearestto them. They laid their guns as deliberately as if they hadbeen on parade, and fired at about a thousand yards' range.

The shells flashed all round him, and he was seen toadvance a few paces, stagger, and go down. Everybody yelledtogether, and the guns were reloaded in frantic haste. Theoverthrown Martian set up a prolonged ululation, and imme-diately a second glittering giant, answering him, appearedover the trees to the south. It would seem that a leg of thetripod had been smashed by one of the shells. The whole ofthe second volley flew wide of the Martian on the ground,and, simultaneously, both his companions brought their Heat-Rays to bear on the battery. The ammunition blew up, thepine trees all about the guns flashed into fire, and only one ortwo of the men who were already running over the crest ofthe hill escaped.

After this it would seem that the three took counsel to-gether and halted, and the scouts who were watching themreport that they remained absolutely stationary for the nexthalf hour. The Martian who had been overthrown crawledtediously out of his hood, a small brown figure, oddly sugges-tive from that distance of a speck of blight, and apparentlyengaged in the repair of his support. About nine he hadfinished, for his cowl was then seen above the trees again.

It was a few minutes past nine that night when these threesentinels were joined by four other Martians, each carryinga thick black tube. A similar tube was handed to each of thethree, and the seven proceeded to distribute themselves atequal distances along a curved line between St. George's Hill,Weybridge, and the village of Send, southwest of Ripley.

A dozen rockets sprang out of the hills before them so soonas they began to move, and warned the waiting batteriesabout Ditton and Esher. At the same time four of theirfighting machines, similarly armed with tubes, crossed theriver, and two of them, black against the western sky, cameinto sight of myself and the curate as we hurried wearily andpainfully along the road that runs northward out of Halliford.They moved, as it seemed to us, upon a cloud, for a milkymist covered the fields and rose to a third of their height.

At this sight the curate cried faintly in his throat, andbegan running; but I knew it was no good running from aMartian, and I turned aside and crawled through dewy nettlesand brambles into the broad ditch by the side of the road.He looked back, saw what I was doing, and turned to joinme.

The two halted, the nearer to us standing and facing Sun-bury, the remoter being a grey indistinctness towards theevening star, away towards Staines.

The occasional howling of the Martians had ceased; theytook up their positions in the huge crescent about theircylinders in absolute silence. It was a crescent with twelvemiles between its horns. Never since the devising of gun-powder was the beginning of a battle so still. To us and toan observer about Ripley it would have had precisely thesame effect--the Martians seemed in solitary possession ofthe darkling night, lit only as it was by the slender moon, thestars, the afterglow of the daylight, and the ruddy glare fromSt. George's Hill and the woods of Painshill.

But facing that crescent everywhere--at Staines, Hounslow,Ditton, Esher, Ockham, behind hills and woods south of theriver, and across the flat grass meadows to the north of it,wherever a cluster of trees or village houses gave sufficientcover--the guns were waiting. The signal rockets burst andrained their sparks through the night and vanished, and thespirit of all those watching batteries rose to a tense expecta-tion. The Martians had but to advance into the line of fire,and instantly those motionless black forms of men, thoseguns glittering so darkly in the early night, would explodeinto a thunderous fury of battle.

No doubt the thought that was uppermost in a thousandof those vigilant minds, even as it was uppermost in mine,was the riddle--how much they understood of us. Did theygrasp that we in our millions were organized, disciplined,working together? Or did they interpret our spurts of fire,the sudden stinging of our shells, our steady investment oftheir encampment, as we should the furious unanimity ofonslaught in a disturbed hive of bees? Did they dream theymight exterminate us? (At that time no one knew what foodthey needed.) A hundred such questions struggled togetherin my mind as I watched that vast sentinel shape. And inthe back of my mind was the sense of all the huge unknownand hidden forces Londonward. Had they prepared pitfalls?Were the powder mills at Hounslow ready as a snare? Wouldthe Londoners have the heart and courage to make a greaterMoscow of their mighty province of houses?

Then, after an interminable time, as it seemed to us,crouching and peering through the hedge, came a soundlike the distant concussion of a gun. Another nearer, andthen another. And then the Martian beside us raised his tubeon high and discharged it, gunwise, with a heavy report thatmade the ground heave. The one towards Staines answeredhim. There was no flash, no smoke, simply that loadeddetonation.

I was so excited by these heavy minute-guns following oneanother that I so far forgot my personal safety and myscalded hands as to clamber up into the hedge and staretowards Sunbury. As I did so a second report followed, anda big projectile hurtled overhead towards Hounslow. I ex-pected at least to see smoke or fire, or some such evidenceof its work. But all I saw was the deep blue sky above, withone solitary star, and the white mist spreading wide and lowbeneath. And there had been no crash, no answering ex-plosion. The silence was restored; the minute lengthened tothree.

"What has happened?" said the curate, standing up besideme.

"Heaven knows!" said I.

A bat flickered by and vanished. A distant tumult ofshouting began and ceased. I looked again at the Martian,and saw he was now moving eastward along the riverbank,with a swift, rolling motion,

Every moment I expected the fire of some hidden batteryto spring upon him; but the evening calm was unbroken.The figure of the Martian grew smaller as he receded, andpresently the mist and the gathering night had swallowedhim up. By a common impulse we clambered higher. TowardsSunbury was a dark appearance, as though a conical hillhad suddenly come into being there, hiding our view of thefarther country; and then, remoter across the river, overWalton, we saw another such summit. These hill-like formsgrew lower and broader even as we stared.

Moved by a sudden thought, I looked northward, andthere I perceived a third of these cloudy black kopjes hadrisen.

Everything had suddenly become very still. Far away tothe southeast, marking the quiet, we heard the Martianshooting to one another, and then the air quivered again withthe distant thud of their guns. But the earthly artillery madeno reply.

Now at the time we could not understand these things, butlater I was to learn the meaning of these ominous kopjes thatgathered in the twilight. Each of the Martians, standing inthe great crescent I have described, had discharged, bymeans of the gunlike tube he carried, a huge canister overwhatever hill, copse, cluster of houses, or other possible coverfor guns, chanced to be in front of him. Some fired only oneof these, some two--as in the case of the one we had seen;the one at Ripley is said to have discharged no fewer thanfive at that time. These canisters smashed on striking theground--they did not explode--and incontinently disengagedan enormous volume of heavy, inky vapour, coiling and pour-ing upward in a huge and ebony cumulus cloud, a gaseoushill that sank and spread itself slowly over the surroundingcountry. And the touch of that vapour, the inhaling of itspungent wisps, was death to all that breathes.

It was heavy, this vapour, heavier than the densest smoke,so that, after the first tumultuous uprush and outflow of itsimpact, it sank down through the air and poured over theground in a manner rather liquid than gaseous, abandoningthe hills, and streaming into the valleys and ditches andwatercourses even as I have heard the carbonic-acid gas thatpours from volcanic clefts is wont to do. And where it cameupon water some chemical action occurred, and the surfacewould be instantly covered with a powdery scum that sankslowly and made way for more. The scum was absolutelyinsoluble, and it is a strange thing, seeing the instant effectof the gas, that one could drink without hurt the water fromwhich it had been strained. The vapour did not diffuse as atrue gas would do. It hung together in banks, flowing slug-gishly down the slope of the land and driving reluctantlybefore the wind, and very slowly it combined with the mistand moisture of the air, and sank to the earth in the formof dust. Save that an unknown element giving a group offour lines in the blue of the spectrum is concerned, we arestill entirely ignorant of the nature of this substance.

Once the tumultuous upheaval of its dispersion was over,the black smoke clung so closely to the ground, even beforeits precipitation, that fifty feet up in the air, on the roofsand upper stories of high houses and on great trees, there wasa chance of escaping its poison altogether, as was proved eventhat night at Street Cobham and Ditton.

The man who escaped at the former place tells a wonderfulstory of the strangeness of its coiling flow, and how he lookeddown from the church spire and saw the houses of the villagerising like ghosts out of its inky nothingness. For a day anda half he remained there, weary, starving and sun-scorched,the earth under the blue sky and against the prospect of thedistant hills a velvet-black expanse, with red roofs, greentrees, and, later, black-veiled shrubs and gates, barns, out-houses, and walls, rising here and there into the sunlight.

But that was at Street Cobham, where the black vapourwas allowed to remain until it sank of its own accord intothe ground. As a rule the Martians, when it had served itspurpose, cleared the air of it again by wading into it anddirecting a jet of steam upon it.

This they did with the vapour banks near us, as we sawin the starlight from the window of a deserted house at UpperHalliford, whither we had returned. From there we couldsee the searchlights on Richmond Hill and Kingston Hillgoing to and fro, and about eleven the windows rattled, andwe heard the sound of the huge siege guns that had been putin position there. These continued intermittently for the spaceof a quarter of an hour, sending chance shots at the invisibleMartians at Hampton and Ditton, and then the pale beamsof the electric light vanished, and were replaced by a brightred glow.

Then the fourth cylinder fell--a brilliant green meteor--asI learned afterwards, in Bushey Park. Before the guns on theRichmond and Kingston line of hills began, there was a fitfulcannonade far away in the southwest, due, I believe, to gunsbeing fired haphazard before the black vapour could over-whelm the gunners.

So, setting about it as methodically as men might smokeout a wasps' nest, the Martians spread this strange stiflingvapour over the Londonward country. The horns of thecrescent slowly moved apart, until at last they formed a linefrom Hanwell to Coombe and Malden. All night through theirdestructive tubes advanced. Never once, after the Martianat St. George's Hill was brought down, did they give theartillery the ghost of a chance against them. Wherever therewas a possibility of guns being laid for them unseen, a freshcanister of the black vapour was discharged, and where theguns were openly displayed the Heat-Ray was brought tobear.

By midnight the blazing trees along the slopes of Rich-mond Park and the glare of Kingston Hill threw their lightupon a network of black smoke, blotting out the whole valleyof the Thames and extending as far as the eye could reach.And through this two Martians slowly waded, and turnedtheir hissing steam jets this way and that.

They were sparing of the Heat-Ray that night, either be-cause they had but a limited supply of material for itsproduction or because they did not wish to destroy thecountry but only to crush and overawe the opposition theyhad aroused. In the latter aim they certainly succeeded. Sun-day night was the end of the organised opposition to theirmovements. After that no body of men would stand againstthem, so hopeless was the enterprise. Even the crews of thetorpedo-boats and destroyers that had brought their quick-firers up the Thames refused to stop, mutinied, and wentdown again. The only offensive operation men ventured uponafter that night was the preparation of mines and pitfalls,and even in that their energies were frantic and spasmodic.

One has to imagine, as well as one may, the fate of thosebatteries towards Esher, waiting so tensely in the twilight.Survivors there were none. One may picture the orderlyexpectation, the officers alert and watchful, the gunners ready,the ammunition piled to hand, the limber gunners with theirhorses and waggons, the groups of civilian spectators standingas near as they were permitted, the evening stillness, theambulances and hospital tents with the burned and woundedfrom Weybridge; then the dull resonance of the shots theMartians fired, and the clumsy projectile whirling over thetrees and houses and smashing amid the neighbouring fields.

One may picture, too, the sudden shifting of the attention,the swiftly spreading coils and bellyings of that blacknessadvancing headlong, towering heavenward, turning the twi-light to a palpable darkness, a strange and horrible antagonistof vapour striding upon its victims, men and horses near itseen dimly, running, shrieking, falling headlong, shouts ofdismay, the guns suddenly abandoned, men choking andwrithing on the ground, and the swift broadening-out of theopaque cone of smoke. And then night and extinction--nothing but a silent mass of impenetrable vapour hiding itsdead.

Before dawn the black vapour was pouring through thestreets of Richmond, and the disintegrating organism ofgovernment was, with a last expiring effort, rousing thepopulation of London to the necessity of flight.



So you understand the roaring wave of fear that sweptthrough the greatest city in the world just as Monday wasdawning--the stream of flight rising swiftly to a torrent, lash-ing in a foaming tumult round the railway stations, bankedup into a horrible struggle about the shipping in the Thames,and hurrying by every available channel northward and east-ward. By ten o'clock the police organisation, and by middayeven the railway organisations, were losing coherency, losingshape and efficiency, guttering, softening, running at last inthat swift liquefaction of the social body.

All the railway lines north of the Thames and the South-Eastern people at Cannon Street had been warned by mid-night on Sunday, and trains were being filled. People werefighting savagely for standing-room in the carriages even attwo o'clock. By three, people were being trampled andcrushed even in Bishopsgate Street, a couple of hundredyards or more from Liverpool Street station; revolvers werefired, people stabbed, and the policemen who had been sentto direct the traffic, exhausted and infuriated, were breakingthe heads of the people they were called out to protect.

And as the day advanced and the engine drivers andstokers refused to return to London, the pressure of the flightdrove the people in an ever-thickening multitude away fromthe stations and along the northward-running roads. By mid-day a Martian had been seen at Barnes, and a cloud of slowlysinking black vapour drove along the Thames and across theflats of Lambeth, cutting off all escape over the bridges in itssluggish advance. Another bank drove over Ealing, and sur-rounded a little island of survivors on Castle Hill, alive, butunable to escape.

After a fruitless struggle to get aboard a North-Westerntrain at Chalk Farm--the engines of the trains that had loadedin the goods yard there PLOUGHED through shrieking people,and a dozen stalwart men fought to keep the crowd fromcrushing the driver against his furnace--my brother emergedupon the Chalk Farm road, dodged across through a hurryingswarm of vehicles, and had the luck to be foremost in thesack of a cycle shop. The front tire of the machine he gotwas punctured in dragging it through the window, but he gotup and off, notwithstanding, with no further injury than acut wrist. The steep foot of Haverstock Hill was impassableowing to several overturned horses, and my brother struckinto Belsize Road.

So he got out of the fury of the panic, and, skirting theEdgware Road, reached Edgware about seven, fasting andwearied, but well ahead of the crowd. Along the road peoplewere standing in the roadway, curious, wondering. He waspassed by a number of cyclists, some horsemen, and twomotor cars. A mile from Edgware the rim of the wheel broke,and the machine became unridable. He left it by the roadsideand trudged through the village. There were shops halfopened in the main street of the place, and people crowdedon the pavement and in the doorways and windows, staringastonished at this extraordinary procession of fugitives thatwas beginning. He succeeded in getting some food at aninn.

For a time he remained in Edgware not knowing what nextto do. The flying people increased in number. Many of them,like my brother, seemed inclined to loiter in the place. Therewas no fresh news of the invaders from Mars.

At that time the road was crowded, but as yet far fromcongested. Most of the fugitives at that hour were mountedon cycles, but there were soon motor cars, hansom cabs, andcarriages hurrying along, and the dust hung in heavy cloudsalong the road to St. Albans.

It was perhaps a vague idea of making his way to Chelms-ford, where some friends of his lived, that at last induced mybrother to strike into a quiet lane running eastward. Presentlyhe came upon a stile, and, crossing it, followed a footpathnortheastward. He passed near several farmhouses and somelittle places whose names he did not learn. He saw fewfugitives until, in a grass lane towards High Barnet, he hap-pened upon two ladies who became his fellow travellers. Hecame upon them just in time to save them.

He heard their screams, and, hurrying round the corner,saw a couple of men struggling to drag them out of the littlepony-chaise in which they had been driving, while a thirdwith difficulty held the frightened pony's head. One of theladies, a short woman dressed in white, was simply screaming;the other, a dark, slender figure, slashed at the man whogripped her arm with a whip she held in her disengagedhand.

My brother immediately grasped the situation, shouted, andhurried towards the struggle. One of the men desisted andturned towards him, and my brother, realising from his an-tagonist's face that a fight was unavoidable, and being anexpert boxer, went into him forthwith and sent him downagainst the wheel of the chaise.

It was no time for pugilistic chivalry and my brother laidhim quiet with a kick, and gripped the collar of the manwho pulled at the slender lady's arm. He heard the clatterof hoofs, the whip stung across his face, a third antagoniststruck him between the eyes, and the man he held wrenchedhimself free and made off down the lane in the direction fromwhich he had come.

Partly stunned, he found himself facing the man who hadheld the horse's head, and became aware of the chaisereceding from him down the lane, swaying from side to side,and with the women in it looking back. The man before him,a burly rough, tried to close, and he stopped him with ablow in the face. Then, realising that he was deserted, hedodged round and made off down the lane after the chaise,with the sturdy man close behind him, and the fugitive, whohad turned now, following remotely.

Suddenly he stumbled and fell; his immediate pursuerwent headlong, and he rose to his feet to find himself witha couple of antagonists again. He would have had littlechance against them had not the slender lady very pluckilypulled up and returned to his help. It seems she had had arevolver all this time, but it had been under the seat whenshe and her companion were attacked. She fired at six yards'distance, narrowly missing my brother. The less courageousof the robbers made off, and his companion followed him,cursing his cowardice. They both stopped in sight down thelane, where the third man lay insensible.

"Take this!" said the slender lady, and she gave my brotherher revolver.

"Go back to the chaise," said my brother, wiping the bloodfrom his split lip.

She turned without a word--they were both panting--andthey went back to where the lady in white struggled to holdback the frightened pony.

The robbers had evidently had enough of it. When mybrother looked again they were retreating.

"I'll sit here," said my brother, "if I may"; and he got uponthe empty front seat. The lady looked over her shoulder.

"Give me the reins," she said, and laid the whip along thepony's side. In another moment a bend in the road hidthe three men from my brother's eyes.

So, quite unexpectedly, my brother found himself, panting,with a cut mouth, a bruised jaw, and bloodstained knuckles,driving along an unknown lane with these two women.

He learned they were the wife and the younger sister ofa surgeon living at Stanmore, who had come in the smallhours from a dangerous case at Pinner, and heard at somerailway station on his way of the Martian advance. He hadhurried home, roused the women--their servant had left themtwo days before--packed some provisions, put his revolverunder the seat--luckily for my brother--and told them todrive on to Edgware, with the idea of getting a train there.He stopped behind to tell the neighbours. He would overtakethem, he said, at about half past four in the morning, andnow it was nearly nine and they had seen nothing of him.They could not stop in Edgware because of the growingtraffic through the place, and so they had come into thisside lane.

That was the story they told my brother in fragments whenpresently they stopped again, nearer to New Barnet. Hepromised to stay with them, at least until they could deter-mine what to do, or until the missing man arrived, and pro-fessed to be an expert shot with the revolver--a weaponstrange to him--in order to give them confidence.

They made a sort of encampment by the wayside, and thepony became happy in the hedge. He told them of his ownescape out of London, and all that he knew of these Martiansand their ways. The sun crept higher in the sky, and after atime their talk died out and gave place to an uneasy state ofanticipation. Several wayfarers came along the lane, and ofthese my brother gathered such news as he could. Everybroken answer he had deepened his impression of the greatdisaster that had come on humanity, deepened his persuasionof the immediate necessity for prosecuting this flight. Heurged the matter upon them.

"We have money," said the slender woman, and hesitated.

Her eyes met my brother's, and her hesitation ended.

"So have I," said my brother.

She explained that they had as much as thirty pounds ingold, besides a five-pound note, and suggested that with thatthey might get upon a train at St. Albans or New Barnet. Mybrother thought that was hopeless, seeing the fury of theLondoners to crowd upon the trains, and broached his ownidea of striking across Essex towards Harwich and thenceescaping from the country altogether.

Mrs. Elphinstone--that was the name of the woman inwhite--would listen to no reasoning, and kept calling upon"George"; but her sister-in-law was astonishingly quiet anddeliberate, and at last agreed to my brother's suggestion. So,designing to cross the Great North Road, they went ontowards Barnet, my brother leading the pony to save it asmuch as possible. As the sun crept up the sky the day became excessivelyhot, and under foot a thick, whitish sand grew burning andblinding, so that they travelled only very slowly. The hedgeswere grey with dust. And as they advanced towards Barneta tumultuous murmuring grew stronger.

They began to meet more people. For the most part thesewere staring before them, murmuring indistinct questions,jaded, haggard, unclean. One man in evening dress passedthem on foot, his eyes on the ground. They heard his voice,and, looking back at him, saw one hand clutched in his hairand the other beating invisible things. His paroxysm of rageover, he went on his way without once looking back.

As my brother's party went on towards the crossroads tothe south of Barnet they saw a woman approaching the roadacross some fields on their left, carrying a child and with twoother children; and then passed a man in dirty black, with athick stick in one hand and a small portmanteau in the other.Then round the corner of the lane, from between the villasthat guarded it at its confluence with the high road, came alittle cart drawn by a sweating black pony and driven by asallow youth in a bowler hat, grey with dust. There werethree girls, East End factory girls, and a couple of little chil-dren crowded in the cart.

"This'll tike us rahnd Edgware?" asked the driver, wild-eyed, white-faced; and when my brother told him it wouldif he turned to the left, he whipped up at once without theformality of thanks.

My brother noticed a pale grey smoke or haze rising amongthe houses in front of them, and veiling the whitefacade of a terrace beyond the road that appearedbetween the backs of the villas. Mrs. Elphinstone suddenly criedout at a number of tongues of smoky red flame leaping up abovethe houses in front of them against the hot, blue sky. Thetumultuous noise resolved itself now into the disorderly minglingof many voices, the gride of many wheels, the creaking ofwaggons, and the staccato of hoofs. The lane came round sharplynot fifty yards from the crossroads.

"Good heavens!" cried Mrs. Elphinstone. "What is thisyou are driving us into?"

My brother stopped.

For the main road was a boiling stream of people, a tor-rent of human beings rushing northward, one pressing onanother. A great bank of dust, white and luminous in theblaze of the sun, made everything within twenty feet of theground grey and indistinct and was perpetually renewed bythe hurrying feet of a dense crowd of horses and of men andwomen on foot, and by the wheels of vehicles of every de-scription.

"Way!" my brother heard voices crying. "Make way!"

It was like riding into the smoke of a fire to approach themeeting point of the lane and road; the crowd roared likea fire, and the dust was hot and pungent. And, indeed, alittle way up the road a villa was burning and sending rollingmasses of black smoke across the road to add to the con-fusion.

Two men came past them. Then a dirty woman, carrying aheavy bundle and weeping. A lost retriever dog, with hangingtongue, circled dubiously round them, scared and wretched,and fled at my brother's threat.

So much as they could see of the road Londonwardbetween the houses to the right was a tumultuous stream ofdirty, hurrying people, pent in between the villas on eitherside; the black heads, the crowded forms, grew into distinct-ness as they rushed towards the corner, hurried past, andmerged their individuality again in a receding multitude thatwas swallowed up at last in a cloud of dust.

"Go on! Go on!" cried the voices. "Way! Way!"

One man's hands pressed on the back of another. Mybrother stood at the pony's head. Irresistibly attracted, headvanced slowly, pace by pace, down the lane.

Edgware had been a scene of confusion, Chalk Farm ariotous tumult, but this was a whole population in movement.It is hard to imagine that host. It had no character of its own.The figures poured out past the corner, and receded with theirbacks to the group in the lane. Along the margin came thosewho were on foot threatened by the wheels, stumbling in theditches, blundering into one another.

The carts and carriages crowded close upon one another,making little way for those swifter and more impatient vehi-cles that darted forward every now and then when anopportunity showed itself of doing so, sending the peoplescattering against the fences and gates of the villas.

"Push on!" was the cry. "Push on! They are coming!"

In one cart stood a blind man in the uniform of the Salva-tion Army, gesticulating with his crooked fingers and bawling,"Eternity! Eternity!" His voice was hoarse and very loud sothat my brother could hear him long after he was lost tosight in the dust. Some of the people who crowded in thecarts whipped stupidly at their horses and quarrelled withother drivers; some sat motionless, staring at nothing withmiserable eyes; some gnawed their hands with thirst, or layprostrate in the bottoms of their conveyances. The horses" bitswere covered with foam, their eyes bloodshot.

There were cabs, carriages, shop cars, waggons, beyondcounting; a mail cart, a road-cleaner's cart marked "Vestry ofSt. Pancras," a huge timber waggon crowded with roughs.A brewer's dray rumbled by with its two near wheels splashedwith fresh blood.

"Clear the way!" cried the voices. "Clear the way!"

"Eter-nity! Eter-nity!" came echoing down the road.

There were sad, haggard women tramping by, well dressed,with children that cried and stumbled, their dainty clothessmothered in dust, their weary faces smeared with tears. Withmany of these came men, sometimes helpful, sometimes low-ering and savage. Fighting side by side with them pushedsome weary street outcast in faded black rags, wide-eyed,loud-voiced, and foul-mouthed. There were sturdy workmenthrusting their way along, wretched, unkempt men, clothedlike clerks or shopmen, struggling spasmodically; a woundedsoldier my brother noticed, men dressed in the clothes ofrailway porters, one wretched creature in a nightshirt witha coat thrown over it.

But varied as its composition was, certain things all thathost had in common. There were fear and pain on their faces,and fear behind them. A tumult up the road, a quarrel for aplace in a waggon, sent the whole host of them quickeningtheir pace; even a man so scared and broken that his kneesbent under him was galvanised for a moment into renewedactivity. The heat and dust had already been at work uponthis multitude. Their skins were dry, their lips black andcracked. They were all thirsty, weary, and footsore. And amidthe various cries one heard disputes, reproaches, groans ofweariness and fatigue; the voices of most of them werehoarse and weak. Through it all ran a refrain:

"Way! Way! The Martians are coming!"

Few stopped and came aside from that flood. The laneopened slantingly into the main road with a narrow opening,and had a delusive appearance of coming from the directionof London. Yet a kind of eddy of people drove into its mouth;weaklings elbowed out of the stream, who for the most partrested but a moment before plunging into it again. A littleway down the lane, with two friends bending over him, laya man with a bare leg, wrapped about with bloody rags. Hewas a lucky man to have friends.

A little old man, with a grey military moustache and afilthy black frock coat, limped out and sat down beside thetrap, removed his boot--his sock was blood-stained--shookout a pebble, and hobbled on again; and then a little girl ofeight or nine, all alone, threw herself under the hedge closeby my brother, weeping.

"I can't go on! I can't go on!"

My brother woke from his torpor of astonishment and liftedher up, speaking gently to her, and carried her to Miss Elphin-stone. So soon as my brother touched her she became quitestill, as if frightened.

"Ellen!" shrieked a woman in the crowd, with tears in hervoice--"Ellen!" And the child suddenly darted away frommy brother, crying "Mother!"

"They are coming," said a man on horseback, riding pastalong the lane.

"Out of the way, there!" bawled a coachman, toweringhigh; and my brother saw a closed carriage turning into thelane.

The people crushed back on one another to avoid thehorse. My brother pushed the pony and chaise back intothe hedge, and the man drove by and stopped at the turnof the way. It was a carriage, with a pole for a pair of horses,but only one was in the traces. My brother saw dimly throughthe dust that two men lifted out something on a whitestretcher and put it gently on the grass beneath the privethedge.

One of the men came running to my brother.

"Where is there any water?" he said. "He is dying fast,and very thirsty. It is Lord Garrick."

"Lord Garrick!" said my brother; "the Chief Justice?"

"The water?" he said.

"There may be a tap," said my brother, "in some of thehouses. We have no water. I dare not leave my people."

The man pushed against the crowd towards the gate of thecorner house.

"Go on!" said the people, thrusting at him. "They arecoming! Go on!"

Then my brother's attention was distracted by a bearded,eagle-faced man lugging a small handbag, which split evenas my brother's eyes rested on it and disgorged a mass ofsovereigns that seemed to break up into separate coins as itstruck the ground. They rolled hither and thither among thestruggling feet of men and horses. The man stopped andlooked stupidly at the heap, and the shaft of a cab struckhis shoulder and sent him reeling. He gave a shriek anddodged back, and a cartwheel shaved him narrowly.

"Way!" cried the men all about him. "Make way!"

So soon as the cab had passed, he flung himself, with bothhands open, upon the heap of coins, and began thrustinghandfuls in his pocket. A horse rose close upon him, and inanother moment, half rising, he had been borne down underthe horse's hoofs.

"Stop!" screamed my brother, and pushing a woman outof his way, tried to clutch the bit of the horse.

Before he could get to it, he heard a scream under thewheels, and saw through the dust the rim passing over thepoor wretch's back. The driver of the cart slashed his whipat my brother, who ran round behind the cart. The multi-tudinous shouting confused his ears. The man was writhingin the dust among his scattered money, unable to rise, forthe wheel had broken his back, and his lower limbs lay limpand dead. My brother stood up and yelled at the next driver,and a man on a black horse came to his assistance.

"Get him out of the road," said he; and, clutching theman's collar with his free hand, my brother lugged himsideways. But he still clutched after his money, and regardedmy brother fiercely, hammering at his arm with a handfulof gold. "Go on! Go on!" shouted angry voices behind.

"Way! Way!"

There was a smash as the pole of a carriage crashed intothe cart that the man on horseback stopped. My brotherlooked up, and the man with the gold twisted his head roundand bit the wrist that held his collar. There was a concussion,and the black horse came staggering sideways, and thecarthorse pushed beside it. A hoof missed my brother's footby a hair's breadth. He released his grip on the fallen manand jumped back. He saw anger change to terror on the faceof the poor wretch on the ground, and in a moment he washidden and my brother was borne backward and carried pastthe entrance of the lane, and had to fight hard in the torrentto recover it.

He saw Miss Elphinstone covering her eyes, and a littlechild, with all a child's want of sympathetic imagination,staring with dilated eyes at a dusty something that lay blackand still, ground and crushed under the rolling wheels. "Letus go back!" he shouted, and began turning the pony round."We cannot cross this--hell," he said and they went back ahundred yards the way they had come, until the fightingcrowd was hidden. As they passed the bend in the lane mybrother saw the face of the dying man in the ditch underthe privet, deadly white and drawn, and shining with perspi-ration. The two women sat silent, crouching in their seatand shivering.

Then beyond the bend my brother stopped again. MissElphinstone was white and pale, and her sister-in-law satweeping, too wretched even to call upon "George." Mybrother was horrified and perplexed. So soon as they hadretreated he realised how urgent and unavoidable it was toattempt this crossing. He turned to Miss Elphinstone, sud-denly resolute.

"We must go that way," he said, and led the pony roundagain.

For the second time that day this girl proved her quality.To force their way into the torrent of people, my brotherplunged into the traffic and held back a cab horse, whileshe drove the pony across its head. A waggon locked wheelsfor a moment and ripped a long splinter from the chaise.In another moment they were caught and swept forward bythe stream. My brother, with the cabman's whip marks redacross his face and hands, scrambled into the chaise andtook the reins from her.

"Point the revolver at the man behind," he said, giving itto her, "if he presses us too hard. No!--point it at his horse."

Then he began to look out for a chance of edging to theright across the road. But once in the stream he seemed tolose volition, to become a part of that dusty rout. They sweptthrough Chipping Barnet with the torrent; they were nearlya mile beyond the centre of the town before they had foughtacross to the opposite side of the way. It was din and con-fusion indescribable; but in and beyond the town the roadforks repeatedly, and this to some extent relieved the stress.

They struck eastward through Hadley, and there on eitherside of the road, and at another place farther on they cameupon a great multitude of people drinking at the stream,some fighting to come at the water. And farther on, from alull near East Barnet, they saw two trains running slowlyone after the other without signal or order--trains swarmingwith people, with men even among the coals behind theengines--going northward along the Great Northern Railway.My brother supposes they must have filled outside London,for at that time the furious terror of the people had renderedthe central termini impossible.

Near this place they halted for the rest of the afternoon,for the violence of the day had already utterly exhausted allthree of them. They began to suffer the beginnings of hunger;the night was cold, and none of them dared to sleep. And inthe evening many people came hurrying along the road near-by their stopping place, fleeing from unknown dangers beforethem, and going in the direction from which my brotherhad come.



Had the Martians aimed only at destruction, they mighton Monday have annihilated the entire population of London,as it spread itself slowly through the home counties. Notonly along the road through Barnet, but also through Edgwareand Waltham Abbey, and along the roads eastward to South-end and Shoeburyness, and south of the Thames to Deal andBroadstairs, poured the same frantic rout. If one could havehung that June morning in a balloon in the blazing blueabove London every northward and eastward road running outof the tangled maze of streets would have seemed stippledblack with the streaming fugitives, each dot a human agonyof terror and physical distress. I have set forth at length inthe last chapter my brother's account of the road throughChipping Barnet, in order that my readers may realise howthat swarming of black dots appeared to one of those con-cerned. Never before in the history of the world had such amass of human beings moved and suffered together. Thelegendary hosts of Goths and Huns, the hugest armies Asiahas ever seen, would have been but a drop in that current.And this was no disciplined march; it was a stampede--astampede gigantic and terrible--without order and withouta goal, six million people unarmed and unprovisioned, drivingheadlong. It was the beginning of the rout of civilisation, ofthe massacre of mankind.

Directly below him the balloonist would have seen thenetwork of streets far and wide, houses, churches, squares,crescents, gardens--already derelict--spread out like a hugemap, and in the southward BLOTTED. Over Ealing, Richmond,Wimbledon, it would have seemed as if some monstrous penhad flung ink upon the chart. Steadily, incessantly, each blacksplash grew and spread, shooting out ramifications this wayand that, now banking itself against rising ground, nowpouring swiftly over a crest into a new-found valley, exactlyas a gout of ink would spread itself upon blotting paper.

And beyond, over the blue hills that rise southward ofthe river, the glittering Martians went to and fro, calmlyand methodically spreading their poison cloud over thispatch of country and then over that, laying it again withtheir steam jets when it had served its purpose, and takingpossession of the conquered country. They do not seem tohave aimed at extermination so much as at complete demoral-isation and the destruction of any opposition. They explodedany stores of powder they came upon, cut every telegraph,and wrecked the railways here and there. They were ham-stringing mankind. They seemed in no hurry to extend thefield of their operations, and did not come beyond the centralpart of London all that day. It is possible that a very con-siderable number of people in London stuck to their housesthrough Monday morning. Certain it is that many died athome suffocated by the Black Smoke.

Until about midday the Pool of London was an astonishingscene. Steamboats and shipping of all sorts lay there, temptedby the enormous sums of money offered by fugitives, and itis said that many who swam out to these vessels were thrustoff with boathooks and drowned. About one o'clock in theafternoon the thinning remnant of a cloud of the black vapourappeared between the arches of Blackfriars Bridge. At thatthe Pool became a scene of mad confusion, fighting, andcollision, and for some time a multitude of boats and bargesjammed in the northern arch of the Tower Bridge, and thesailors and lightermen had to fight savagely against thepeople who swarmed upon them from the riverfront. Peoplewere actually clambering down the piers of the bridge fromabove.

When, an hour later, a Martian appeared beyond theClock Tower and waded down the river, nothing but wreck-age floated above Limehouse.

Of the falling of the fifth cylinder I have presently to tell.The sixth star fell at Wimbledon. My brother, keeping watchbeside the women in the chaise in a meadow, saw the greenflash of it far beyond the hills. On Tuesday the little party,still set upon getting across the sea, made its way throughthe swarming country towards Colchester. The news that theMartians were now in possession of the whole of London wasconfirmed. They had been seen at Highgate, and even, itwas said, at Neasden. But they did not come into my brother'sview until the morrow.

That day the scattered multitudes began to realise theurgent need of provisions. As they grew hungry the rightsof property ceased to be regarded. Farmers were out todefend their cattle-sheds, granaries, and ripening root cropswith arms in their hands. A number of people now, like mybrother, had their faces eastward, and there were some des-perate souls even going back towards London to get food.These were chiefly people from the northern suburbs, whoseknowledge of the Black Smoke came by hearsay. He heardthat about half the members of the government had gatheredat Birmingham, and that enormous quantities of high explo-sives were being prepared to be used in automatic minesacross the Midland counties.

He was also told that the Midland Railway Company hadreplaced the desertions of the first day's panic, had resumedtraffic, and was running northward trains from St. Albansto relieve the congestion of the home counties. There wasalso a placard in Chipping Ongar announcing that largestores of flour were available in the northern towns and thatwithin twenty-four hours bread would be distributed amongthe starving people in the neighbourhood. But this intelli-gence did not deter him from the plan of escape he hadformed, and the three pressed eastward all day, and heardno more of the bread distribution than this promise. Nor, asa matter of fact, did anyone else hear more of it. That nightfell the seventh star, falling upon Primrose Hill. It fell whileMiss Elphinstone was watching, for she took that duty alter-nately with my brother. She saw it.

On Wednesday the three fugitives--they had passed thenight in a field of unripe wheat--reached Chelmsford, andthere a body of the inhabitants, calling itself the Committeeof Public Supply, seized the pony as provisions, and wouldgive nothing in exchange for it but the promise of a sharein it the next day. Here there were rumours of Martians atEpping, and news of the destruction of Waltham AbbeyPowder Mills in a vain attempt to blow up one of the invaders.

People were watching for Martians here from the churchtowers. My brother, very luckily for him as it chanced, pre-ferred to push on at once to the coast rather than wait forfood, although all three of them were very hungry. By mid-day they passed through Tillingham, which, strangely enough,seemed to be quite silent and deserted, save for a few furtiveplunderers hunting for food. Near Tillingham they suddenlycame in sight of the sea, and the most amazing crowd ofshipping of all sorts that it is possible to imagine.

For after the sailors could no longer come up the Thames,they came on to the Essex coast, to Harwich and Waltonand Clacton, and afterwards to Foulness and Shoebury, tobring off the people. They lay in a huge sickle-shaped curvethat vanished into mist at last towards the Naze. Close inshorewas a multitude of fishing smacks--English, Scotch, French,Dutch, and Swedish; steam launches from the Thames, yachts,electric boats; and beyond were ships of large burden, amultitude of filthy colliers, trim merchantmen, cattle ships,passenger boats, petroleum tanks, ocean tramps, an old whitetransport even, neat white and grey liners from Southamptonand Hamburg; and along the blue coast across the Blackwatermy brother could make out dimly a dense swarm of boatschaffering with the people on the beach, a swarm which alsoextended up the Blackwater almost to Maldon.

About a couple of miles out lay an ironclad, very low inthe water, almost, to my brother's perception, like a water-logged ship. This was the ram THUNDER CHILD. It was theonly warship in sight, but far away to the right over thesmooth surface of the sea--for that day there was a deadcalm--lay a serpent of black smoke to mark the next iron-clads of the Channel Fleet, which hovered in an extendedline, steam up and ready for action, across the Thames estuaryduring the course of the Martian conquest, vigilant and yetpowerless to prevent it.

At the sight of the sea, Mrs. Elphinstone, in spite of theassurances of her sister-in-law, gave way to panic. She hadnever been out of England before, she would rather die thantrust herself friendless in a foreign country, and so forth.She seemed, poor woman, to imagine that the French and theMartians might prove very similar. She had been growingincreasingly hysterical, fearful, and depressed during the twodays' journeyings. Her great idea was to return to Stanmore.Things had been always well and safe at Stanmore. Theywould find George at Stanmore.

It was with the greatest difficulty they could get her downto the beach, where presently my brother succeeded inattracting the attention of some men on a paddle steamerfrom the Thames. They sent a boat and drove a bargain forthirty-six pounds for the three. The steamer was going, thesemen said, to Ostend.

It was about two o'clock when my brother, having paidtheir fares at the gangway, found himself safely aboard thesteamboat with his charges. There was food aboard, albeitat exorbitant prices, and the three of them contrived to eata meal on one of the seats forward.

There were already a couple of score of passengers aboard,some of whom had expended their last money in securinga passage, but the captain lay off the Blackwater until fivein the afternoon, picking up passengers until the seated deckswere even dangerously crowded. He would probably haveremained longer had it not been for the sound of guns thatbegan about that hour in the south. As if in answer, theironclad seaward fired a small gun and hoisted a string offlags. A jet of smoke sprang out of her funnels.

Some of the passengers were of opinion that this firingcame from Shoeburyness, until it was noticed that it wasgrowing louder. At the same time, far away in the southeastthe masts and upperworks of three ironclads rose one afterthe other out of the sea, beneath clouds of black smoke. Butmy brother's attention speedily reverted to the distant firingin the south. He fancied he saw a column of smoke risingout of the distant grey haze.

The little steamer was already flapping her way eastwardof the big crescent of shipping, and the low Essex coast wasgrowing blue and hazy, when a Martian appeared, small andfaint in the remote distance, advancing along the muddycoast from the direction of Foulness. At that the captain onthe bridge swore at the top of his voice with fear and angerat his own delay, and the paddles seemed infected with histerror. Every soul aboard stood at the bulwarks or on the seatsof the steamer and stared at that distant shape, higher thanthe trees or church towers inland, and advancing with aleisurely parody of a human stride.

It was the first Martian my brother had seen, and hestood, more amazed than terrified, watching this Titanadvancing deliberately towards the shipping, wading fartherand farther into the water as the coast fell away. Then, faraway beyond the Crouch, came another, striding over somestunted trees, and then yet another, still farther off, wadingdeeply through a shiny mudflat that seemed to hang halfwayup between sea and sky. They were all stalking seaward, asif to intercept the escape of the multitudinous vessels thatwere crowded between Foulness and the Naze. In spite ofthe throbbing exertions of the engines of the little paddle-boat, and the pouring foam that her wheels flung behindher, she receded with terrifying slowness from this ominousadvance.

Glancing northwestward, my brother saw the large crescentof shipping already writhing with the approaching terror;one ship passing behind another, another coming round frombroadside to end on, steamships whistling and giving offvolumes of steam, sails being let out, launches rushing hitherand thither. He was so fascinated by this and by the creepingdanger away to the left that he had no eyes for anythingseaward. And then a swift movement of the steamboat (shehad suddenly come round to avoid being run down) flunghim headlong from the seat upon which he was standing.There was a shouting all about him, a trampling of feet, anda cheer that seemed to be answered faintly. The steamboatlurched and rolled him over upon his hands.

He sprang to his feet and saw to starboard, and not ahundred yards from their heeling, pitching boat, a vast ironbulk like the blade of a plough tearing through the water,tossing it on either side in huge waves of foam that leapedtowards the steamer, flinging her paddles helplessly in theair, and then sucking her deck down almost to the waterline.

A douche of spray blinded my brother for a moment.When his eyes were clear again he saw the monster hadpassed and was rushing landward. Big iron upperworks roseout of this headlong structure, and from that twin funnelsprojected and spat a smoking blast shot with fire. It was thetorpedo ram, THUNDER CHILD, steaming headlong, coming tothe rescue of the threatened shipping.

Keeping his footing on the heaving deck by clutching thebulwarks, my brother looked past this charging leviathan atthe Martians again, and he saw the three of them now closetogether, and standing so far out to sea that their tripodsupports were almost entirely submerged. Thus sunken, andseen in remote perspective, they appeared far less formidablethan the huge iron bulk in whose wake the steamer waspitching so helplessly. It would seem they were regardingthis new antagonist with astonishment. To their intelligence,it may be, the giant was even such another as themselves.The THUNDER CHILD fired no gun, but simply drove full speedtowards them. It was probably her not firing that enabledher to get so near the enemy as she did. They did not knowwhat to make of her. One shell, and they would have senther to the bottom forthwith with the Heat-Ray.

She was steaming at such a pace that in a minute sheseemed halfway between the steamboat and the Martians--a diminishing black bulk against the receding horizontalexpanse of the Essex coast.

Suddenly the foremost Martian lowered his tube and dis-charged a canister of the black gas at the ironclad. It hit herlarboard side and glanced off in an inky jet that rolled awayto seaward, an unfolding torrent of Black Smoke, from whichthe ironclad drove clear. To the watchers from the steamer,low in the water and with the sun in their eyes, it seemedas though she were already among the Martians.

They saw the gaunt figures separating and rising out ofthe water as they retreated shoreward, and one of themraised the camera-like generator of the Heat-Ray. He held itpointing obliquely downward, and a bank of steam sprangfrom the water at its touch. It must have driven through theiron of the ship's side like a white-hot iron rod through paper.

A flicker of flame went up through the rising steam, andthen the Martian reeled and staggered. In another momenthe was cut down, and a great body of water and steam shothigh in the air. The guns of the THUNDER CHILD soundedthrough the reek, going off one after the other, and one shotsplashed the water high close by the steamer, ricochetedtowards the other flying ships to the north, and smashed asmack to matchwood.

But no one heeded that very much. At the sight of theMartian's collapse the captain on the bridge yelled inarticu-lately, and all the crowding passengers on the steamer's sternshouted together. And then they yelled again. For, surgingout beyond the white tumult, drove something long andblack, the flames streaming from its middle parts, its ventila-tors and funnels spouting fire.

She was alive still; the steering gear, it seems, was intactand her engines working. She headed straight for a secondMartian, and was within a hundred yards of him when theHeat-Ray came to bear. Then with a violent thud, a blindingflash, her decks, her funnels, leaped upward. The Martianstaggered with the violence of her explosion, and in anothermoment the flaming wreckage, still driving forward with theimpetus of its pace, had struck him and crumpled him uplike a thing of cardboard. My brother shouted involuntarily.A boiling tumult of steam hid everything again.

"Two!," yelled the captain.

Everyone was shouting. The whole steamer from end toend rang with frantic cheering that was taken up first by oneand then by all in the crowding multitude of ships and boatsthat was driving out to sea.

The steam hung upon the water for many minutes, hidingthe third Martian and the coast altogether. And all this timethe boat was paddling steadily out to sea and away from thefight; and when at last the confusion cleared, the driftingbank of black vapour intervened, and nothing of theTHUNDER CHILD could be made out, nor could the thirdMartian be seen. But the ironclads to seaward were nowquite close and standing in towards shore past the steamboat.

The little vessel continued to beat its way seaward, andthe ironclads receded slowly towards the coast, which washidden still by a marbled bank of vapour, part steam, partblack gas, eddying and combining in the strangest way. Thefleet of refugees was scattering to the northeast; severalsmacks were sailing between the ironclads and the steamboat.After a time, and before they reached the sinking cloud bank,the warships turned northward, and then abruptly wentabout and passed into the thickening haze of evening south-ward. The coast grew faint, and at last indistinguishable amidthe low banks of clouds that were gathering about thesinking sun.

Then suddenly out of the golden haze of the sunset camethe vibration of guns, and a form of black shadows moving.Everyone struggled to the rail of the steamer and peered intothe blinding furnace of the west, but nothing was to be dis-tinguished clearly. A mass of smoke rose slanting and barredthe face of the sun. The steamboat throbbed on its waythrough an interminable suspense.

The sun sank into grey clouds, the sky flushed and dark-ened, the evening star trembled into sight. It was deeptwilight when the captain cried out and pointed. My brotherstrained his eyes. Something rushed up into the sky out ofthe greyness--rushed slantingly upward and very swiftlyinto the luminous clearness above the clouds in the westernsky; something flat and broad, and very large, that sweptround in a vast curve, grew smaller, sank slowly, and van-ished again into the grey mystery of the night. And as itflew it rained down darkness upon the land.





In the first book I have wandered so much from my ownadventures to tell of the experiences of my brother that allthrough the last two chapters I and the curate have beenlurking in the empty house at Halliford whither we fled toescape the Black Smoke. There I will resume. We stoppedthere all Sunday night and all the next day--the day of thepanic--in a little island of daylight, cut off by the BlackSmoke from the rest of the world. We could do nothing butwait in aching inactivity during those two weary days.

My mind was occupied by anxiety for my wife. I figuredher at Leatherhead, terrified, in danger, mourning me alreadyas a dead man. I paced the rooms and cried aloud when Ithought of how I was cut off from her, of all that might hap-pen to her in my absence. My cousin I knew was braveenough for any emergency, but he was not the sort of man torealise danger quickly, to rise promptly. What was needednow was not bravery, but circumspection. My only consola-tion was to believe that the Martians were moving London-ward and away from her. Such vague anxieties keep the mindsensitive and painful. I grew very weary and irritable withthe curate's perpetual ejaculations; I tired of the sight of hisselfish despair. After some ineffectual remonstrance I keptaway from him, staying in a room--evidently a children'sschoolroom--containing globes, forms, and copybooks. Whenhe followed me thither, I went to a box room at the top of thehouse and, in order to be alone with my aching miseries,locked myself in.

We were hopelessly hemmed in by the Black Smoke allthat day and the morning of the next. There were signs ofpeople in the next house on Sunday evening--a face at awindow and moving lights, and later the slamming of a door.But I do not know who these people were, nor what becameof them. We saw nothing of them next day. The Black Smokedrifted slowly riverward all through Monday morning, creep-ing nearer and nearer to us, driving at last along the roadwayoutside the house that hid us.

A Martian came across the fields about midday, layingthe stuff with a jet of superheated steam that hissed againstthe walls, smashed all the windows it touched, and scaldedthe curate's hand as he fled out of the front room. When atlast we crept across the sodden rooms and looked out again,the country northward was as though a black snowstorm hadpassed over it. Looking towards the river, we were astonishedto see an unaccountable redness mingling with the black ofthe scorched meadows.

For a time we did not see how this change affected ourposition, save that we were relieved of our fear of the BlackSmoke. But later I perceived that we were no longer hemmedin, that now we might get away. So soon as I realised thatthe way of escape was open, my dream of action returned. Butthe curate was lethargic, unreasonable.

"We are safe here," he repeated; "safe here."

I resolved to leave him--would that I had! Wiser now forthe artilleryman's teaching, I sought out food and drink. Ihad found oil and rags for my burns, and I also took a hatand a flannel shirt that I found in one of the bedrooms. Whenit was clear to him that I meant to go alone--had reconciledmyself to going alone--he suddenly roused himself to come.And all being quiet throughout the afternoon, we startedabout five o'clock, as I should judge, along the blackenedroad to Sunbury.

In Sunbury, and at intervals along the road, were deadbodies lying in contorted attitudes, horses as well as men,overturned carts and luggage, all covered thickly with blackdust. That pall of cindery powder made me think of what Ihad read of the destruction of Pompeii. We got to HamptonCourt without misadventure, our minds full of strange andunfamiliar appearances, and at Hampton Court our eyes wererelieved to find a patch of green that had escaped the suf-focating drift. We went through Bushey Park, with its deergoing to and fro under the chestnuts, and some men andwomen hurrying in the distance towards Hampton, and so wecame to Twickenham. These were the first people we saw.

Away across the road the woods beyond Ham and Peter-sham were still afire. Twickenham was uninjured by eitherHeat-Ray or Black Smoke, and there were more people abouthere, though none could give us news. For the most partthey were like ourselves, taking advantage of a lull to shifttheir quarters. I have an impression that many of the houseshere were still occupied by scared inhabitants, too frightenedeven for flight. Here too the evidence of a hasty rout wasabundant along the road. I remember most vividly threesmashed bicycles in a heap, pounded into the road by thewheels of subsequent carts. We crossed Richmond Bridgeabout half past eight. We hurried across the exposed bridge,of course, but I noticed floating down the stream a number ofred masses, some many feet across. I did not know what thesewere--there was no time for scrutiny--and I put a morehorrible interpretation on them than they deserved. Here againon the Surrey side were black dust that had once been smoke,and dead bodies--a heap near the approach to the station;but we had no glimpse of the Martians until we were someway towards Barnes.

We saw in the blackened distance a group of three peoplerunning down a side street towards the river, but otherwise itseemed deserted. Up the hill Richmond town was burningbriskly; outside the town of Richmond there was no trace ofthe Black Smoke.

Then suddenly, as we approached Kew, came a numberof people running, and the upperworks of a Martian fighting-machine loomed in sight over the housetops, not a hundredyards away from us. We stood aghast at our danger, and hadthe Martian looked down we must immediately have perished.We were so terrified that we dared not go on, but turnedaside and hid in a shed in a garden. There the curatecrouched, weeping silently, and refusing to stir again.

But my fixed idea of reaching Leatherhead would not letme rest, and in the twilight I ventured out again. I wentthrough a shrubbery, and along a passage beside a big housestanding in its own grounds, and so emerged upon the roadtowards Kew. The curate I left in the shed, but he camehurrying after me.

That second start was the most foolhardy thing I ever did.For it was manifest the Martians were about us. No soonerhad the curate overtaken me than we saw either the fighting-machine we had seen before or another, far away across themeadows in the direction of Kew Lodge. Four or five littleblack figures hurried before it across the green-grey of thefield, and in a moment it was evident this Martian pursuedthem. In three strides he was among them, and they ranradiating from his feet in all directions. He used no Heat-Rayto destroy them, but picked them up one by one. Apparentlyhe tossed them into the great metallic carrier which projectedbehind him, much as a workman's basket hangs over hisshoulder.

It was the first time I realised that the Martians might haveany other purpose than destruction with defeated humanity.We stood for a moment petrified, then turned and fled througha gate behind us into a walled garden, fell into, rather thanfound, a fortunate ditch, and lay there, scarce daring towhisper to each other until the stars were out.

I suppose it was nearly eleven o'clock before we gatheredcourage to start again, no longer venturing into the road, butsneaking along hedgerows and through plantations, andwatching keenly through the darkness, he on the right and Ion the left, for the Martians, who seemed to be all about us.In one place we blundered upon a scorched and blackenedarea, now cooling and ashen, and a number of scattered deadbodies of men, burned horribly about the heads and trunksbut with their legs and boots mostly intact; and of deadhorses, fifty feet, perhaps, behind a line of four ripped gunsand smashed gun carriages.

Sheen, it seemed, had escaped destruction, but the placewas silent and deserted. Here we happened on no dead,though the night was too dark for us to see into the sideroads of the place. In Sheen my companion suddenly com-plained of faintness and thirst, and we decided to try one ofthe houses.

The first house we entered, after a little difficulty withthe window, was a small semi-detached villa, and I foundnothing eatable left in the place but some mouldycheese. There was, however, water to drink; and I took ahatchet, which promised to be useful in our next house-breaking.

We then crossed to a place where the road turns towardsMortlake. Here there stood a white house within a walledgarden, and in the pantry of this domicile we found a storeof food--two loaves of bread in a pan, an uncooked steak, andthe half of a ham. I give this catalogue so precisely because,as it happened, we were destined to subsist upon this storefor the next fortnight. Bottled beer stood under a shelf, andthere were two bags of haricot beans and some limp lettuces.This pantry opened into a kind of wash-up kitchen, and inthis was firewood; there was also a cupboard, in which wefound nearly a dozen of burgundy, tinned soups and salmon,and two tins of biscuits.

We sat in the adjacent kitchen in the dark--for we darednot strike a light--and ate bread and ham, and drank beerout of the same bottle. The curate, who was still timorousand restless, was now, oddly enough, for pushing on, and Iwas urging him to keep up his strength by eating when thething happened that was to imprison us.

"It can't be midnight yet," I said, and then came a blindingglare of vivid green light. Everything in the kitchen leapedout, clearly visible in green and black, and vanished again.And then followed such a concussion as I have never heardbefore or since. So close on the heels of this as to seem in-stantaneous came a thud behind me, a clash of glass, a crashand rattle of falling masonry all about us, and the plaster ofthe ceiling came down upon us, smashing into a multitudeof fragments upon our heads. I was knocked headlong acrossthe floor against the oven handle and stunned. I was insensiblefor a long time, the curate told me, and when I came to wewere in darkness again, and he, with a face wet, as I foundafterwards, with blood from a cut forehead, was dabbingwater over me.

For some time I could not recollect what had happened.Then things came to me slowly. A bruise on my temple as-serted itself.

"Are you better?" asked the curate in a whisper.

At last I answered him. I sat up.

"Don't move," he said. "The floor is covered with smashedcrockery from the dresser. You can't possibly move withoutmaking a noise, and I fancy THEY are outside."

We both sat quite silent, so that we could scarcely heareach other breathing. Everything seemed deadly still, butonce something near us, some plaster or broken brickwork,slid down with a rumbling sound. Outside and very near wasan intermittent, metallic rattle.

"That!" said the curate, when presently it happenedagain.

"Yes," I said. "But what is it?"

"A Martian!" said the curate.

I listened again.

"It was not like the Heat-Ray," I said, and for a time I wasinclined to think one of the great fighting-machines hadstumbled against the house, as I had seen one stumble againstthe tower of Shepperton Church.

Our situation was so strange and incomprehensible that forthree or four hours, until the dawn came, we scarcely moved.And then the light filtered in, not through the window, whichremained black, but through a triangular aperture betweena beam and a heap of broken bricks in the wall behind us.The interior of the kitchen we now saw greyly for the firsttime.

The window had been burst in by a mass of garden mould,which flowed over the table upon which we had been sittingand lay about our feet. Outside, the soil was banked highagainst the house. At the top of the window frame we couldsee an uprooted drainpipe. The floor was littered withsmashed hardware; the end of the kitchen towards the housewas broken into, and since the daylight shone in there, it wasevident the greater part of the house had collapsed. Con-trasting vividly with this ruin was the neat dresser, stainedin the fashion, pale green, and with a number of copper andtin vessels below it, the wallpaper imitating blue and whitetiles, and a couple of coloured supplements fluttering from thewalls above the kitchen range.

As the dawn grew clearer, we saw through the gap in thewall the body of a Martian, standing sentinel, I suppose, overthe still glowing cylinder. At the sight of that we crawled ascircumspectly as possible out of the twilight of the kitcheninto the darkness of the scullery.

Abruptly the right interpretation dawned upon my mind.

"The fifth cylinder," I whispered, "the fifth shot fromMars, has struck this house and buried us under the ruins!"

For a time the curate was silent, and then he whispered:

"God have mercy upon us!"

I heard him presently whimpering to himself.

Save for that sound we lay quite still in the scullery; Ifor my part scarce dared breathe, and sat with my eyesfixed on the faint light of the kitchen door. I could just seethe curate's face, a dim, oval shape, and his collar and cuffs.Outside there began a metallic hammering, then a violenthooting, and then again, after a quiet interval, a hissing likethe hissing of an engine. These noises, for the most partproblematical, continued intermittently, and seemed if any-thing to increase in number as time wore on. Presently ameasured thudding and a vibration that made everythingabout us quiver and the vessels in the pantry ring and shift,began and continued. Once the light was eclipsed, and theghostly kitchen doorway became absolutely dark. For manyhours we must have crouched there, silent and shivering,until our tired attention failed. . . .

At last I found myself awake and very hungry. I am in-clined to believe we must have spent the greater portion ofa day before that awakening. My hunger was at a strideso insistent that it moved me to action. I told the curate Iwas going to seek food, and felt my way towards the pantry.He made me no answer, but so soon as I began eating thefaint noise I made stirred him up and I heard him crawlingafter me.



After eating we crept back to the scullery, and there Imust have dozed again, for when presently I looked round Iwas alone. The thudding vibration continued with wearisomepersistence. I whispered for the curate several times, and atlast felt my way to the door of the kitchen. It was still day-light, and I perceived him across the room, lying againstthe triangular hole that looked out upon the Martians. Hisshoulders were hunched, so that his head was hidden from me.

I could hear a number of noises almost like those in anengine shed; and the place rocked with that beating thud.Through the aperture in the wall I could see the top of atree touched with gold and the warm blue of a tranquilevening sky. For a minute or so I remained watching thecurate, and then I advanced, crouching and stepping withextreme care amid the broken crockery that littered the floor.

I touched the curate's leg, and he started so violently thata mass of plaster went sliding down outside and fell with aloud impact. I gripped his arm, fearing he might cry out,and for a long time we crouched motionless. Then I turnedto see how much of our rampart remained. The detachmentof the plaster had left a vertical slit open in the debris, andby raising myself cautiously across a beam I was able to seeout of this gap into what had been overnight a quiet suburbanroadway. Vast, indeed, was the change that we beheld.

The fifth cylinder must have fallen right into the midstof the house we had first visited. The building had vanished,completely smashed, pulverised, and dispersed by the blow.The cylinder lay now far beneath the original foundations--deep in a hole, already vastly larger than the pit I hadlooked into at Woking. The earth all round it had splashedunder that tremendous impact--"splashed" is the only word--and lay in heaped piles that hid the masses of the adjacenthouses. It had behaved exactly like mud under the violentblow of a hammer. Our house had collapsed backward; thefront portion, even on the ground floor, had been destroyedcompletely; by a chance the kitchen and scullery had escaped,and stood buried now under soil and ruins, closed in bytons of earth on every side save towards the cylinder. Overthat aspect we hung now on the very edge of the greatcircular pit the Martians were engaged in making. The heavybeating sound was evidently just behind us, and ever andagain a bright green vapour drove up like a veil across ourpeephole.

The cylinder was already opened in the centre of the pit,and on the farther edge of the pit, amid the smashed andgravel-heaped shrubbery, one of the great fighting-machines,deserted by its occupant, stood stiff and tall against theevening sky. At first I scarcely noticed the pit and thecylinder, although it has been convenient to describe themfirst, on account of the extraordinary glittering mechanism Isaw busy in the excavation, and on account of the strangecreatures that were crawling slowly and painfully across theheaped mould near it.

The mechanism it certainly was that held my attention first.It was one of those complicated fabrics that have since beencalled handling-machines, and the study of which has alreadygiven such an enormous impetus to terrestrial invention. Asit dawned upon me first, it presented a sort of metallic spiderwith five jointed, agile legs, and with an extraordinary numberof jointed levers, bars, and reaching and clutching tentaclesabout its body. Most of its arms were retracted, but withthree long tentacles it was fishing out a number of rods,plates, and bars which lined the covering and apparentlystrengthened the walls of the cylinder. These, as it ex-tracted them, were lifted out and deposited upon a levelsurface of earth behind it.

Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at firstI did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.The fighting-machines were co-ordinated and animated toan extraordinary pitch, but nothing to compare with this.People who have never seen these structures, and have onlythe ill-imagined efforts of artists or the imperfect descriptionsof such eye-witnesses as myself to go upon, scarcely realisethat living quality.

I recall particularly the illustration of one of the firstpamphlets to give a consecutive account of the war. Theartist had evidently made a hasty study of one of thefighting-machines, and there his knowledge ended. He pre-sented them as tilted, stiff tripods, without either flexibilityor subtlety, and with an altogether misleading monotony ofeffect. The pamphlet containing these renderings had a con-siderable vogue, and I mention them here simply to warnthe reader against the impression they may have created.They were no more like the Martians I saw in action thana Dutch doll is like a human being. To my mind, the pamphletwould have been much better without them.

At first, I say, the handling-machine did not impress meas a machine, but as a crablike creature with a glitteringintegument, the controlling Martian whose delicate tentaclesactuated its movements seeming to be simply the equivalentof the crab's cerebral portion. But then I perceived the re-semblance of its grey-brown, shiny, leathery integument tothat of the other sprawling bodies beyond, and the truenature of this dexterous workman dawned upon me. Withthat realisation my interest shifted to those other creatures,the real Martians. Already I had had a transient impression ofthese, and the first nausea no longer obscured my observa-tion. Moreover, I was concealed and motionless, and underno urgency of action.

They were, I now saw, the most unearthly creatures itis possible to conceive. They were huge round bodies--or,rather, heads--about four feet in diameter, each body havingin front of it a face. This face had no nostrils--indeed, theMartians do not seem to have had any sense of smell, butit had a pair of very large dark-coloured eyes, and justbeneath this a kind of fleshy beak. In the back of this head orbody--I scarcely know how to speak of it--was the singletight tympanic surface, since known to be anatomically an ear,though it must have been almost useless in our dense air.In a group round the mouth were sixteen slender, almostwhiplike tentacles, arranged in two bunches of eight each.These bunches have since been named rather aptly, by thatdistinguished anatomist, Professor Howes, the HANDS. Evenas I saw these Martians for the first time they seemed tobe endeavouring to raise themselves on these hands, but ofcourse, with the increased weight of terrestrial conditions,this was impossible. There is reason to suppose that on Marsthey may have progressed upon them with some facility.

The internal anatomy, I may remark here, as dissectionhas since shown, was almost equally simple. The greaterpart of the structure was the brain, sending enormous nervesto the eyes, ear, and tactile tentacles. Besides this were thebulky lungs, into which the mouth opened, and the heartand its vessels. The pulmonary distress caused by the denseratmosphere and greater gravitational attraction was only tooevident in the convulsive movements of the outer skin.

And this was the sum of the Martian organs. Strange as itmay seem to a human being, all the complex apparatus ofdigestion, which makes up the bulk of our bodies, did notexist in the Martians. They were heads--merely heads.Entrails they had none. They did not eat, much less digest.Instead, they took the fresh, living blood of other creatures,and INJECTED it into their own veins. I have myself seen thisbeing done, as I shall mention in its place. But, squeamishas I may seem, I cannot bring myself to describe what Icould not endure even to continue watching. Let it sufficeto say, blood obtained from a still living animal, in mostcases from a human being, was run directly by means of alittle pipette into the recipient canal. . . .

The bare idea of this is no doubt horribly repulsive to us,but at the same time I think that we should remember howrepulsive our carnivorous habits would seem to an intelligentrabbit.

The physiological advantages of the practice of injectionare undeniable, if one thinks of the tremendous waste ofhuman time and energy occasioned by eating and thedigestive process. Our bodies are half made up of glandsand tubes and organs, occupied in turning heterogeneousfood into blood. The digestive processes and their reactionupon the nervous system sap our strength and colour ourminds. Men go happy or miserable as they have healthy orunhealthy livers, or sound gastric glands. But the Martianswere lifted above all these organic fluctuations of mood andemotion.

Their undeniable preference for men as their source ofnourishment is partly explained by the nature of the remainsof the victims they had brought with them as provisionsfrom Mars. These creatures, to judge from the shrivelledremains that have fallen into human hands, were bipedswith flimsy, silicious skeletons (almost like those of thesilicious sponges) and feeble musculature, standing aboutsix feet high and having round, erect heads, and large eyesin flinty sockets. Two or three of these seem to have beenbrought in each cylinder, and all were killed before earthwas reached. It was just as well for them, for the mereattempt to stand upright upon our planet would have brokenevery bone in their bodies.

And while I am engaged in this description, I may addin this place certain further details which, although theywere not all evident to us at the time, will enable thereader who is unacquainted with them to form a clearerpicture of these offensive creatures.

In three other points their physiology differed strangelyfrom ours. Their organisms did not sleep, any more than theheart of man sleeps. Since they had no extensive muscularmechanism to recuperate, that periodical extinction wasunknown to them. They had little or no sense of fatigue, itwould seem. On earth they could never have moved withouteffort, yet even to the last they kept in action. In twenty-fourhours they did twenty-four hours of work, as even on earthis perhaps the case with the ants.

In the next place, wonderful as it seems in a sexual world,the Martians were absolutely without sex, and thereforewithout any of the tumultuous emotions that arise from thatdifference among men. A young Martian, there can now beno dispute, was really born upon earth during the war, andit was found attached to its parent, partially BUDDED off, justas young lilybulbs bud off, or like the young animals in thefresh-water polyp.

In man, in all the higher terrestrial animals, such a methodof increase has disappeared; but even on this earth it wascertainly the primitive method. Among the lower animals,up even to those first cousins of the vertebrated animals, theTunicates, the two processes occur side by side, but finallythe sexual method superseded its competitor altogether. OnMars, however, just the reverse has apparently been the case.

It is worthy of remark that a certain speculative writer ofquasi-scientific repute, writing long before the Martian inva-sion, did forecast for man a final structure not unlike theactual Martian condition. His prophecy, I remember, appearedin November or December, 1893, in a long-defunct publica-tion, the PALL MALL BUDGET, and I recall a caricature of it ina pre-Martian periodical called PUNCH. He pointed out--writing in a foolish, facetious tone--that the perfection ofmechanical appliances must ultimately supersede limbs; theperfection of chemical devices, digestion; that such organsas hair, external nose, teeth, ears, and chin were no longeressential parts of the human being, and that the tendencyof natural selection would lie in the direction of their steadydiminution through the coming ages. The brain alone re-mained a cardinal necessity. Only one other part of thebody had a strong case for survival, and that was the hand,"teacher and agent of the brain." While the rest of the bodydwindled, the hands would grow larger.

There is many a true word written in jest, and here inthe Martians we have beyond dispute the actual accomplish-ment of such a suppression of the animal side of the organismby the intelligence. To me it is quite credible that theMartians may be descended from beings not unlike ourselves,by a gradual development of brain and hands (the lattergiving rise to the two bunches of delicate tentacles at last)at the expense of the rest of the body. Without the body thebrain would, of course, become a mere selfish intelligence,without any of the emotional substratum of the human being.

The last salient point in which the systems of thesecreatures differed from ours was in what one might havethought a very trivial particular. Micro-organisms, whichcause so much disease and pain on earth, have either neverappeared upon Mars or Martian sanitary science eliminatedthem ages ago. A hundred diseases, all the fevers and con-tagions of human life, consumption, cancers, tumours andsuch morbidities, never enter the scheme of their life. Andspeaking of the differences between the life on Mars andterrestrial life, I may allude here to the curious suggestionsof the red weed.

Apparently the vegetable kingdom in Mars, instead ofhaving green for a dominant colour, is of a vivid blood-redtint. At any rate, the seeds which the Martians (intentionallyor accidentally) brought with them gave rise in all cases tored-coloured growths. Only that known popularly as the redweed, however, gained any footing in competition withterrestrial forms. The red creeper was quite a transitorygrowth, and few people have seen it growing. For a time,however, the red weed grew with astonishing vigour andluxuriance. It spread up the sides of the pit by the third orfourth day of our imprisonment, and its cactus-like branchesformed a carmine fringe to the edges of our triangularwindow. And afterwards I found it broadcast throughout thecountry, and especially wherever there was a stream of water.

The Martians had what appears to have been an auditoryorgan, a single round drum at the back of the head-body,and eyes with a visual range not very different from oursexcept that, according to Philips, blue and violet were asblack to them. It is commonly supposed that they com-municated by sounds and tentacular gesticulations; this isasserted, for instance, in the able but hastily compiledpamphlet (written evidently by someone not an eye-witnessof Martian actions) to which I have already alluded, andwhich, so far, has been the chief source of information con-cerning them. Now no surviving human being saw so muchof the Martians in action as I did. I take no credit to myselffor an accident, but the fact is so. And I assert that I watchedthem closely time after time, and that I have seen four, five,and (once) six of them sluggishly performing the most elabo-rately complicated operations together without either soundor gesture. Their peculiar hooting invariably preceded feed-ing; it had no modulation, and was, I believe, in no sensea signal, but merely the expiration of air preparatory to thesuctional operation. I have a certain claim to at least anelementary knowledge of psychology, and in this matter Iam convinced--as firmly as I am convinced of anything--thatthe Martians interchanged thoughts without any physicalintermediation. And I have been convinced of this in spiteof strong preconceptions. Before the Martian invasion, as anoccasional reader here or there may remember, I had writtenwith some little vehemence against the telepathic theory.

The Martians wore no clothing. Their conceptions of orna-ment and decorum were necessarily different from ours; andnot only were they evidently much less sensible of changes oftemperature than we are, but changes of pressure do notseem to have affected their health at all seriously. Yet thoughthey wore no clothing, it was in the other artificial additionsto their bodily resources that their great superiority over manlay. We men, with our bicycles and road-skates, our Lilienthalsoaring-machines, our guns and sticks and so forth, are justin the beginning of the evolution that the Martians haveworked out. They have become practically mere brains,wearing different bodies according to their needs just asmen wear suits of clothes and take a bicycle in a hurry or anumbrella in the wet. And of their appliances, perhaps nothingis more wonderful to a man than the curious fact that whatis the dominant feature of almost all human devices inmechanism is absent--the WHEEL is absent; among all thethings they brought to earth there is no trace or suggestionof their use of wheels. One would have at least expected itin locomotion. And in this connection it is curious to remarkthat even on this earth Nature has never hit upon the wheel,or has preferred other expedients to its development. Andnot only did the Martians either not know of (which isincredible), or abstain from, the wheel, but in their apparatussingularly little use is made of the fixed pivot or relativelyfixed pivot, with circular motions thereabout confined to oneplane. Almost all the joints of the machinery present a com-plicated system of sliding parts moving over small but beauti-fully curved friction bearings. And while upon this matterof detail, it is remarkable that the long leverages of theirmachines are in most cases actuated by a sort of shammusculature of the disks in an elastic sheath; these disksbecome polarised and drawn closely and powerfully togetherwhen traversed by a current of electricity. In this way thecurious parallelism to animal motions, which was so strikingand disturbing to the human beholder, was attained. Suchquasi-muscles abounded in the crablike handling-machinewhich, on my first peeping out of the slit, I watched un-packing the cylinder. It seemed infinitely more alive than theactual Martians lying beyond it in the sunset light, panting,stirring ineffectual tentacles, and moving feebly after theirvast journey across space.

While I was still watching their sluggish motions in thesunlight, and noting each strange detail of their form, thecurate reminded me of his presence by pulling violently atmy arm. I turned to a scowling face, and silent, eloquentlips. He wanted the slit, which permitted only one of usto peep through; and so I had to forego watching them for atime while he enjoyed that privilege.

When I looked again, the busy handling-machine hadalready put together several of the pieces of apparatus ithad taken out of the cylinder into a shape having an un-mistakable likeness to its own; and down on the left a busylittle digging mechanism had come into view, emitting jetsof green vapour and working its way round the pit, excavatingand embanking in a methodical and discriminating manner.This it was which had caused the regular beating noise, andthe rhythmic shocks that had kept our ruinous refuge quiver-ing. It piped and whistled as it worked. So far as I couldsee, the thing was without a directing Martian at all.



The arrival of a second fighting-machine drove us fromour peephole into the scullery, for we feared that from hiselevation the Martian might see down upon us behind ourbarrier. At a later date we began to feel less in danger oftheir eyes, for to an eye in the dazzle of the sunlight outsideour refuge must have been blank blackness, but at first theslightest suggestion of approach drove us into the sculleryin heart-throbbing retreat. Yet terrible as was the danger weincurred, the attraction of peeping was for both of us irresist-ible. And I recall now with a sort of wonder that, in spiteof the infinite danger in which we were between starvationand a still more terrible death, we could yet struggle bitterlyfor that horrible privilege of sight. We would race across thekitchen in a grotesque way between eagerness and the dreadof making a noise, and strike each other, and thrust add kick,within a few inches of exposure.

The fact is that we had absolutely incompatible dispositionsand habits of thought and action, and our danger and isolationonly accentuated the incompatibility. At Halliford I had al-ready come to hate the curate's trick of helpless exclamation,his stupid rigidity of mind. His endless muttering monologuevitiated every effort I made to think out a line of action, anddrove me at times, thus pent up and intensified, almost to theverge of craziness. He was as lacking in restraint as a sillywoman. He would weep for hours together, and I verilybelieve that to the very end this spoiled child of life thoughthis weak tears in some way efficacious. And I would sit inthe darkness unable to keep my mind off him by reason ofhis importunities. He ate more than I did, and it was in vainI pointed out that our only chance of life was to stop in thehouse until the Martians had done with their pit, that in thatlong patience a time might presently come when we shouldneed food. He ate and drank impulsively in heavy meals atlong intervals. He slept little.

As the days wore on, his utter carelessness of any considera-tion so intensified our distress and danger that I had, much asI loathed doing it, to resort to threats, and at last to blows.That brought him to reason for a time. But he was one ofthose weak creatures, void of pride, timorous, anaemic, hatefulsouls, full of shifty cunning, who face neither God nor man,who face not even themselves.

It is disagreeable for me to recall and write these things,but I set them down that my story may lack nothing. Thosewho have escaped the dark and terrible aspects of life willfind my brutality, my flash of rage in our final tragedy, easyenough to blame; for they know what is wrong as well asany, but not what is possible to tortured men. But those whohave been under the shadow, who have gone down at last toelemental things, will have a wider charity.

And while within we fought out our dark, dim contest ofwhispers, snatched food and drink, and gripping hands andblows, without, in the pitiless sunlight of that terrible June,was the strange wonder, the unfamiliar routine of theMartians in the pit. Let me return to those first new experi-ences of mine. After a long time I ventured back to thepeephole, to find that the new-comers had been reinforcedby the occupants of no fewer than three of the fighting-machines. These last had brought with them certain freshappliances that stood in an orderly manner about the cylinder.The second handling-machine was now completed, and wasbusied in serving one of the novel contrivances the bigmachine had brought. This was a body resembling a milk canin its general form, above which oscillated a pear-shapedreceptacle, and from which a stream of white powder flowedinto a circular basin below.

The oscillatory motion was imparted to this by one tentacleof the handling-machine. With two spatulate hands thehandling-machine was digging out and flinging masses of clayinto the pear-shaped receptacle above, while with another armit periodically opened a door and removed rusty and black-ened clinkers from the middle part of the machine. Anothersteely tentacle directed the powder from the basin along aribbed channel towards some receiver that was hidden fromme by the mound of bluish dust. From this unseen receiver alittle thread of green smoke rose vertically into the quiet air.As I looked, the handling-machine, with a faint and musicalclinking, extended, telescopic fashion, a tentacle that hadbeen a moment before a mere blunt projection, until its endwas hidden behind the mound of clay. In another second ithad lifted a bar of white aluminium into sight, untarnished asyet, and shining dazzlingly, and deposited it in a growing stackof bars that stood at the side of the pit. Between sunset andstarlight this dexterous machine must have made more thana hundred such bars out of the crude clay, and the moundof bluish dust rose steadily until it topped the side of thepit.

The contrast between the swift and complex movementsof these contrivances and the inert panting clumsiness oftheir masters was acute, and for days I had to tell myselfrepeatedly that these latter were indeed the living of the twothings.

The curate had possession of the slit when the first menwere brought to the pit. I was sitting below, huddled up,listening with all my ears. He made a sudden movementbackward, and I, fearful that we were observed, crouchedin a spasm of terror. He came sliding down the rubbish andcrept beside me in the darkness, inarticulate, gesticulating,and for a moment I shared his panic. His gesture suggesteda resignation of the slit, and after a little while my curiositygave me courage, and I rose up, stepped across him, andclambered up to it. At first I could see no reason for hisfrantic behaviour. The twilight had now come, the stars werelittle and faint, but the pit was illuminated by the flickeringgreen fire that came from the aluminium-making. The wholepicture was a flickering scheme of green gleams and shiftingrusty black shadows, strangely trying to the eyes. Over andthrough it all went the bats, heeding it not at all. Thesprawling Martians were no longer to be seen, the moundof blue-green powder had risen to cover them from sight,and a fighting-machine, with its legs contracted, crumpled,and abbreviated, stood across the corner of the pit. Andthen, amid the clangour of the machinery, came a driftingsuspicion of human voices, that I entertained at first onlyto dismiss.

I crouched, watching this fighting-machine closely, satisfy-ing myself now for the first time that the hood did indeedcontain a Martian. As the green flames lifted I could see theoily gleam of his integument and the brightness of his eyes.And suddenly I heard a yell, and saw a long tentacle reach-ing over the shoulder of the machine to the little cage thathunched upon its back. Then something--something strug-gling violently--was lifted high against the sky, a black,vague enigma against the starlight; and as this black objectcame down again, I saw by the green brightness that it wasa man. For an instant he was clearly visible. He was a stout,ruddy, middle-aged man, well dressed; three days before,he must have been walking the world, a man of considerableconsequence. I could see his staring eyes and gleams of lighton his studs and watch chain. He vanished behind themound, and for a moment there was silence. And then begana shrieking and a sustained and cheerful hooting from theMartians.

I slid down the rubbish, struggled to my feet, clappedmy hands over my ears, and bolted into the scullery. Thecurate, who had been crouching silently with his armsover his head, looked up as I passed, cried out quite loudlyat my desertion of him, and came running after me.

That night, as we lurked in the scullery, balanced betweenour horror and the terrible fascination this peeping had, al-though I felt an urgent need of action I tried in vain toconceive some plan of escape; but afterwards, during thesecond day, I was able to consider our position with greatclearness. The curate, I found, was quite incapable of dis-cussion; this new and culminating atrocity had robbed himof all vestiges of reason or forethought. Practically he hadalready sunk to the level of an animal. But as the sayinggoes, I gripped myself with both hands. It grew upon mymind, once I could face the facts, that terrible as our posi-tion was, there was as yet no justification for absolute despair.Our chief chance lay in the possibility of the Martians makingthe pit nothing more than a temporary encampment. Oreven if they kept it permanently, they might not considerit necessary to guard it, and a chance of escape might beafforded us. I also weighed very carefully the possibility ofour digging a way out in a direction away from the pit,but the chances of our emerging within sight of somesentinel fighting-machine seemed at first too great. And Ishould have had to do all the digging myself. The curatewould certainly have failed me.

It was on the third day, if my memory serves me right,that I saw the lad killed. It was the only occasion on whichI actually saw the Martians feed. After that experience Iavoided the hole in the wall for the better part of a day.I went into the scullery, removed the door, and spent somehours digging with my hatchet as silently as possible; butwhen I had made a hole about a couple of feet deep theloose earth collapsed noisily, and I did not dare continue. Ilost heart, and lay down on the scullery floor for a long time,having no spirit even to move. And after that I abandonedaltogether the idea of escaping by excavation.

It says much for the impression the Martians had madeupon me that at first I entertained little or no hope of ourescape being brought about by their overthrow through anyhuman effort. But on the fourth or fifth night I heard asound like heavy guns.

It was very late in the night, and the moon was shiningbrightly. The Martians had taken away the excavating-machine, and, save for a fighting-machine that stood inthe remoter bank of the pit and a handling-machine thatwas buried out of my sight in a corner of the pit immedi-ately beneath my peephole, the place was deserted by them.Except for the pale glow from the handling-machine and thebars and patches of white moonlight the pit was in dark-ness, and, except for the clinking of the handling-machine,quite still. That night was a beautiful serenity; save for oneplanet, the moon seemed to have the sky to herself. I hearda dog howling, and that familiar sound it was that mademe listen. Then I heard quite distinctly a booming ex-actly like the sound of great guns. Six distinct reports Icounted, and after a long interval six again. And that wasall.



It was on the sixth day of our imprisonment that Ipeeped for the last time, and presently found myself alone.Instead of keeping close to me and trying to oust me fromthe slit, the curate had gone back into the scullery. I wasstruck by a sudden thought. I went back quickly and quietlyinto the scullery. In the darkness I heard the curate drink-ing. I snatched in the darkness, and my fingers caught abottle of burgundy.

For a few minutes there was a tussle. The bottle struckthe floor and broke, and I desisted and rose. We stoodpanting and threatening each other. In the end I plantedmyself between him and the food, and told him of mydetermination to begin a discipline. I divided the food inthe pantry, into rations to last us ten days. I would notlet him eat any more that day. In the afternoon he madea feeble effort to get at the food. I had been dozing, butin an instant I was awake. All day and all night we satface to face, I weary but resolute, and he weeping and com-plaining of his immediate hunger. It was, I know, a nightand a day, but to me it seemed--it seems now--an inter-minable length of time.

And so our widened incompatibility ended at last in openconflict. For two vast days we struggled in undertones andwrestling contests. There were times when I beat and kickedhim madly, times when I cajoled and persuaded him, andonce I tried to bribe him with the last bottle of burgundy,for there was a rain-water pump from which I could getwater. But neither force nor kindness availed; he was indeedbeyond reason. He would neither desist from his attacks onthe food nor from his noisy babbling to himself. The rudi-mentary precautions to keep our imprisonment endurablehe would not observe. Slowly I began to realise the completeoverthrow of his intelligence, to perceive that my sole com-panion in this close and sickly darkness was a man insane.

From certain vague memories I am inclined to think myown mind wandered at times. I had strange and hideousdreams whenever I slept. It sounds paradoxical, but I aminclined to think that the weakness and insanity of thecurate warned me, braced me, and kept me a sane man.

On the eighth day he began to talk aloud instead of whis-pering, and nothing I could do would moderate his speech.

"It is just, O God!" he would say, over and over again."It is just. On me and mine be the punishment laid. Wehave sinned, we have fallen short. There was poverty,sorrow; the poor were trodden in the dust, and I held mypeace. I preached acceptable folly--my God, what folly!--when I should have stood up, though I died for it, andcalled upon them to repent-repent! . . . Oppressors of thepoor and needy . . . ! The wine press of God!"

Then he would suddenly revert to the matter of the foodI withheld from him, praying, begging, weeping, at lastthreatening. He began to raise his voice--I prayed him notto. He perceived a hold on me--he threatened he wouldshout and bring the Martians upon us. For a time that scaredme; but any concession would have shortened our chanceof escape beyond estimating. I defied him, although I feltno assurance that he might not do this thing. But that day,at any rate, he did not. He talked with his voice rising slowly,through the greater part of the eighth and ninth days--threats, entreaties, mingled with a torrent of half-sane andalways frothy repentance for his vacant sham of God'sservice, such as made me pity him. Then he slept awhile, andbegan again with renewed strength, so loudly that I mustneeds make him desist.

"Be still!" I implored.

He rose to his knees, for he had been sitting in the dark-ness near the copper.

"I have been still too long," he said, in a tone that musthave reached the pit, "and now I must bear my witness.Woe unto this unfaithful city! Woe! Woe! Woe! Woe! Woe!To the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voicesof the trumpet----"

"Shut up!" I said, rising to my feet, and in a terror lestthe Martians should hear us. "For God's sake----"

"Nay," shouted the curate, at the top of his voice, stand-ing likewise and extending his arms. "Speak! The word of theLord is upon me!"

In three strides he was at the door leading into the kitchen.

"I must bear my witness! I go! It has already been too longdelayed."

I put out my hand and felt the meat chopper hanging tothe wall. In a flash I was after him. I was fierce with fear.Before he was halfway across the kitchen I had overtakenhim. With one last touch of humanity I turned the bladeback and struck him with the butt. He went headlong for-ward and lay stretched on the ground. I stumbled over himand stood panting. He lay still.

Suddenly I heard a noise without, the run and smash ofslipping plaster, and the triangular aperture in the wall wasdarkened. I looked up and saw the lower surface of ahandling-machine coming slowly across the hole. One of itsgripping limbs curled amid the debris; another limb ap-peared, feeling its way over the fallen beams. I stoodpetrified, staring. Then I saw through a sort of glass platenear the edge of the body the face, as we may call it, andthe large dark eyes of a Martian, peering, and then a longmetallic snake of tentacle came feeling slowly through thehole.

I turned by an effort, stumbled over the curate, andstopped at the scullery door. The tentacle was now someway, two yards or more, in the room, and twisting and turn-ing, with queer sudden movements, this way and that. Fora while I stood fascinated by that slow, fitful advance. Then,with a faint, hoarse cry, I forced myself across the scullery.I trembled violently; I could scarcely stand upright. I openedthe door of the coal cellar, and stood there in the darknessstaring at the faintly lit doorway into the kitchen, and listen-ing. Had the Martian seen me? What was it doing now?

Something was moving to and fro there, very quietly;every now and then it tapped against the wall, or startedon its movements with a faint metallic ringing, like themovements of keys on a split-ring. Then a heavy body--Iknew too well what--was dragged across the floor of thekitchen towards the opening. Irresistibly attracted, I creptto the door and peeped into the kitchen. In the triangle ofbright outer sunlight I saw the Martian, in its Briareus of ahandling-machine, scrutinizing the curate's head. I thoughtat once that it would infer my presence from the mark ofthe blow I had given him.

I crept back to the coal cellar, shut the door, and beganto cover myself up as much as I could, and as noiselessly aspossible in the darkness, among the firewood and coaltherein. Every now and then I paused, rigid, to hear if theMartian had thrust its tentacles through the opening again.

Then the faint metallic jingle returned. I traced it slowlyfeeling over the kitchen. Presently I heard it nearer--in thescullery, as I judged. I thought that its length might be in-sufficient to reach me. I prayed copiously. It passed, scrap-ing faintly across the cellar door. An age of almost intolerablesuspense intervened; then I heard it fumbling at the latch!It had found the door! The Martians understood doors!

It worried at the catch for a minute, perhaps, and thenthe door opened.

In the darkness I could just see the thing--like an ele-phant's trunk more than anything else--waving towards meand touching and examining the wall, coals, wood and ceil-ing. It was like a black worm swaying its blind head toand fro.

Once, even, it touched the heel of my boot. I was on theverge of screaming; I bit my hand. For a time the tentaclewas silent. I could have fancied it had been withdrawn.Presently, with an abrupt click, it gripped something--Ithought it had me!--and seemed to go out of the cellar again.For a minute I was not sure. Apparently it had taken a lumpof coal to examine.

I seized the opportunity of slightly shifting my position,which had become cramped, and then listened. I whisperedpassionate prayers for safety.

Then I heard the slow, deliberate sound creeping towardsme again. Slowly, slowly it drew near, scratching against thewalls and tapping the furniture.

While I was still doubtful, it rapped smartly against thecellar door and closed it. I heard it go into the pantry, andthe biscuit-tins rattled and a bottle smashed, and then camea heavy bump against the cellar door. Then silence thatpassed into an infinity of suspense.

Had it gone?

At last I decided that it had.

It came into the scullery no more; but I lay all the tenthday in the close darkness, buried among coals and firewood,not daring even to crawl out for the drink for which I craved.It was the eleventh day before I ventured so far from mysecurity.



My first act before I went into the pantry was to fastenthe door between the kitchen and the scullery. But thepantry was empty; every scrap of food had gone. Appar-ently, the Martian had taken it all on the previous day. Atthat discovery I despaired for the first time. I took no food,or no drink either, on the eleventh or the twelfth day.

At first my mouth and throat were parched, and mystrength ebbed sensibly. I sat about in the darkness of thescullery, in a state of despondent wretchedness. My mindran on eating. I thought I had become deaf, for the noisesof movement I had been accustomed to hear from the pithad ceased absolutely. I did not feel strong enough to crawlnoiselessly to the peephole, or I would have gone there.

On the twelfth day my throat was so painful that, takingthe chance of alarming the Martians, I attacked the creakingrain-water pump that stood by the sink, and got a coupleof glassfuls of blackened and tainted rain water. I wasgreatly refreshed by this, and emboldened by the fact thatno enquiring tentacle followed the noise of my pumping.

During these days, in a rambling, inconclusive way, Ithought much of the curate and of the manner of his death.

On the thirteenth day I drank some more water, anddozed and thought disjointedly of eating and of vague im-possible plans of escape. Whenever I dozed I dreamt ofhorrible phantasms, of the death of the curate, or of sump-tuous dinners; but, asleep or awake, I felt a keen pain thaturged me to drink again and again. The light that came intothe scullery was no longer grey, but red. To my disorderedimagination it seemed the colour of blood.

On the fourteenth day I went into the kitchen, and I wassurprised to find that the fronds of the red weed had grownright across the hole in the wall, turning the half-light of theplace into a crimson-coloured obscurity.

It was early on the fifteenth day that I heard a curious,familiar sequence of sounds in the kitchen, and, listening,identified it as the snuffing and scratching of a dog. Goinginto the kitchen, I saw a dog's nose peering in through abreak among the ruddy fronds. This greatly surprised me.At the scent of me he barked shortly.

I thought if I could induce him to come into the placequietly I should be able, perhaps, to kill and eat him; andin any case, it would be advisable to kill him, lest his actionsattracted the attention of the Martians.

I crept forward, saying "Good dog!" very softly; but hesuddenly withdrew his head and disappeared.

I listened--I was not deaf--but certainly the pit was still.I heard a sound like the flutter of a bird's wings, and a hoarsecroaking, but that was all.

For a long while I lay close to the peephole, but not daringto move aside the red plants that obscured it. Once or twiceI heard a faint pitter-patter like the feet of the dog goinghither and thither on the sand far below me, and there weremore birdlike sounds, but that was all. At length, encouragedby the silence, I looked out.

Except in the corner, where a multitude of crows hoppedand fought over the skeletons of the dead the Martians hadconsumed, there was not a living thing in the pit.

I stared about me, scarcely believing my eyes. All themachinery had gone. Save for the big mound of greyish-bluepowder in one corner, certain bars of aluminium in another,the black birds, and the skeletons of the killed, the placewas merely an empty circular pit in the sand.

Slowly I thrust myself out through the red weed, andstood upon the mound of rubble. I could see in any directionsave behind me, to the north, and neither Martians nor signof Martians were to be seen. The pit dropped sheerly frommy feet, but a little way along the rubbish afforded a prac-ticable slope to the summit of the ruins. My chance of escapehad come. I began to tremble.

I hesitated for some time, and then, in a gust of desperateresolution, and with a heart that throbbed violently, Iscrambled to the top of the mound in which I had beenburied so long.

I looked about again. To the northward, too, no Martianwas visible.

When I had last seen this part of Sheen in the daylightit had been a straggling street of comfortable white andred houses, interspersed with abundant shady trees. NowI stood on a mound of smashed brickwork, clay, and gravel,over which spread a multitude of red cactus-shaped plants,knee-high, without a solitary terrestrial growth to disputetheir footing. The trees near me were dead and brown, butfurther a network of red thread scaled the still living stems.

The neighbouring houses had all been wrecked, but nonehad been burned; their walls stood, sometimes to the secondstory, with smashed windows and shattered doors. The redweed grew tumultuously in their roofless rooms. Below mewas the great pit, with the crows struggling for its refuse.A number of other birds hopped about among the ruins. Faraway I saw a gaunt cat slink crouchingly along a wall, buttraces of men there were none.

The day seemed, by contrast with my recent confinement,dazzlingly bright, the sky a glowing blue. A gentle breezekept the red weed that covered every scrap of unoccupiedground gently swaying. And oh! the sweetness of the air!



For some time I stood tottering on the mound regardlessof my safety. Within that noisome den from which I hademerged I had thought with a narrow intensity only of ourimmediate security. I had not realised what had been hap-pening to the world, had not anticipated this startling visionof unfamiliar things. I had expected to see Sheen in ruins--I found about me the landscape, weird and lurid, of anotherplanet.

For that moment I touched an emotion beyond the commonrange of men, yet one that the poor brutes we dominateknow only too well. I felt as a rabbit might feel returningto his burrow and suddenly confronted by the work of adozen busy navvies digging the foundations of a house. Ifelt the first inkling of a thing that presently grew quiteclear in my mind, that oppressed me for many days, a senseof dethronement, a persuasion that I was no longer a master,but an animal among the animals, under the Martian heel.With us it would be as with them, to lurk and watch, to runand hide; the fear and empire of man had passed away.

But so soon as this strangeness had been realised it passed,and my dominant motive became the hunger of my longand dismal fast. In the direction away from the pit I saw,beyond a red-covered wall, a patch of garden ground un-buried. This gave me a hint, and I went knee-deep, andsometimes neck-deep, in the red weed. The density of theweed gave me a reassuring sense of hiding. The wall wassome six feet high, and when I attempted to clamber it Ifound I could not lift my feet to the crest. So I went alongby the side of it, and came to a corner and a rockwork thatenabled me to get to the top, and tumble into the gardenI coveted. Here I found some young onions, a couple ofgladiolus bulbs, and a quantity of immature carrots, all ofwhich I secured, and, scrambling over a ruined wall, wenton my way through scarlet and crimson trees towards Kew--it was like walking through an avenue of gigantic blooddrops--possessed with two ideas: to get more food, and tolimp, as soon and as far as my strength permitted, out ofthis accursed unearthly region of the pit.

Some way farther, in a grassy place, was a group of mush-rooms which also I devoured, and then I came upon a brownsheet of flowing shallow water, where meadows used to be.These fragments of nourishment served only to whet myhunger. At first I was surprised at this flood in a hot, drysummer, but afterwards I discovered that it was caused bythe tropical exuberance of the red weed. Directly this extraor-dinary growth encountered water it straightway becamegigantic and of unparalleled fecundity. Its seeds were simplypoured down into the water of the Wey and Thames, andits swiftly growing and Titanic water fronds speedily chokedboth those rivers.

At Putney, as I afterwards saw, the bridge was almostlost in a tangle of this weed, and at Richmond, too, theThames water poured in a broad and shallow stream acrossthe meadows of Hampton and Twickenham. As the waterspread the weed followed them, until the ruined villas ofthe Thames valley were for a time lost in this red swamp,whose margin I explored, and much of the desolation theMartians had caused was concealed.

In the end the red weed succumbed almost as quickly asit had spread. A cankering disease, due, it is believed, to theaction of certain bacteria, presently seized upon it. Now bythe action of natural selection, all terrestrial plants haveacquired a resisting power against bacterial diseases--theynever succumb without a severe struggle, but the red weedrotted like a thing already dead. The fronds became bleached,and then shrivelled and brittle. They broke off at the leasttouch, and the waters that had stimulated their early growthcarried their last vestiges out to sea.

My first act on coming to this water was, of course, toslake my thirst. I drank a great deal of it and, moved by animpulse, gnawed some fronds of red weed; but they werewatery, and had a sickly, metallic taste. I found the waterwas sufficiently shallow for me to wade securely, althoughthe red weed impeded my feet a little; but the flood evidentlygot deeper towards the river, and I turned back to Mortlake.I managed to make out the road by means of occasionalruins of its villas and fences and lamps, and so presently Igot out of this spate and made my way to the hill going uptowards Roehampton and came out on Putney Common.

Here the scenery changed from the strange and unfamiliarto the wreckage of the familiar: patches of ground exhibitedthe devastation of a cyclone, and in a few score yards Iwould come upon perfectly undisturbed spaces, houses withtheir blinds trimly drawn and doors closed, as if they hadbeen left for a day by the owners, or as if their inhabitantsslept within. The red weed was less abundant; the tall treesalong the lane were free from the red creeper. I hunted forfood among the trees, finding nothing, and I also raided acouple of silent houses, but they had already been brokeninto and ransacked. I rested for the remainder of the day-light in a shrubbery, being, in my enfeebled condition, toofatigued to push on.

All this time I saw no human beings, and no signs of theMartians. I encountered a couple of hungry-looking dogs,but both hurried circuitously away from the advances I madethem. Near Roehampton I had seen two human skeletons--not bodies, but skeletons, picked clean--and in the woodby me I found the crushed and scattered bones of severalcats and rabbits and the skull of a sheep. But though Ignawed parts of these in my mouth, there was nothing tobe got from them.

After sunset I struggled on along the road towards Putney,where I think the Heat-Ray must have been used for somereason. And in the garden beyond Roehampton I got a quan-tity of immature potatoes, sufficient to stay my hunger. Fromthis garden one looked down upon Putney and the river. Theaspect of the place in the dusk was singularly desolate:blackened trees, blackened, desolate ruins, and down thehill the sheets of the flooded river, red-tinged with the weed.And over all--silence. It filled me with indescribable terrorto think how swiftly that desolating change had come.

For a time I believed that mankind had been swept outof existence, and that I stood there alone, the last man leftalive. Hard by the top of Putney Hill I came upon anotherskeleton, with the arms dislocated and removed severalyards from the rest of the body. As I proceeded I becamemore and more convinced that the extermination of mankindwas, save for such stragglers as myself, already accomplishedin this part of the world. The Martians, I thought, had goneon and left the country desolated, seeking food elsewhere.Perhaps even now they were destroying Berlin or Paris, orit might be they had gone northward.



I spent that night in the inn that stands at the top ofPutney Hill, sleeping in a made bed for the first time sincemy flight to Leatherhead. I will not tell the needless troubleI had breaking into that house--afterwards I found thefront door was on the latch--nor how I ransacked everyroom for food, until just on the verge of despair, in whatseemed to me to be a servant's bedroom, I found a rat-gnawed crust and two tins of pineapple. The place hadbeen already searched and emptied. In the bar I afterwardsfound some biscuits and sandwiches that had been over-looked. The latter I could not eat, they were too rotten, butthe former not only stayed my hunger, but filled my pockets.I lit no lamps, fearing some Martian might come beatingthat part of London for food in the night. Before I went tobed I had an interval of restlessness, and prowled fromwindow to window, peering out for some sign of thesemonsters. I slept little. As I lay in bed I found myself think-ing consecutively--a thing I do not remember to have donesince my last argument with the curate. During all the inter-vening time my mental condition had been a hurrying suc-cession of vague emotional states or a sort of stupid recep-tivity. But in the night my brain, reinforced, I suppose, bythe food I had eaten, grew clear again, and I thought.

Three things struggled for possession of my mind: thekilling of the curate, the whereabouts of the Martians, andthe possible fate of my wife. The former gave me no sensa-tion of horror or remorse to recall; I saw it simply as a thingdone, a memory infinitely disagreeable but quite without thequality of remorse. I saw myself then as I see myself now,driven step by step towards that hasty blow, the creature ofa sequence of accidents leading inevitably to that. I felt nocondemnation; yet the memory, static, unprogressive, hauntedme. In the silence of the night, with that sense of the near-ness of God that sometimes comes into the stillness and thedarkness, I stood my trial, my only trial, for that moment ofwrath and fear. I retraced every step of our conversation fromthe moment when I had found him crouching beside me,heedless of my thirst, and pointing to the fire and smokethat streamed up from the ruins of Weybridge. We had beenincapable of co-operation--grim chance had taken no heedof that. Had I foreseen, I should have left him at Halliford.But I did not foresee; and crime is to foresee and do. AndI set this down as I have set all this story down, as it was.There were no witnesses--all these things I might have con-cealed. But I set it down, and the reader must form hisjudgment as he will.

And when, by an effort, I had set aside that picture of aprostrate body, I faced the problem of the Martians and thefate of my wife. For the former I had no data; I couldimagine a hundred things, and so, unhappily, I could for thelatter. And suddenly that night became terrible. I foundmyself sitting up in bed, staring at the dark. I found my-self praying that the Heat-Ray might have suddenly andpainlessly struck her out of being. Since the night of myreturn from Leatherhead I had not prayed. I had utteredprayers, fetish prayers, had prayed as heathens mutter charmswhen I was in extremity; but now I prayed indeed, plead-ing steadfastly and sanely, face to face with the darknessof God. Strange night! Strangest in this, that so soon as dawnhad come, I, who had talked with God, crept out of the houselike a rat leaving its hiding place--a creature scarcely larger,an inferior animal, a thing that for any passing whim of ourmasters might be hunted and killed. Perhaps they alsoprayed confidently to God. Surely, if we have learned noth-ing else, this war has taught us pity--pity for those witlesssouls that suffer our dominion.

The morning was bright and fine, and the eastern skyglowed pink, and was fretted with little golden clouds. Inthe road that runs from the top of Putney Hill to Wimbledonwas a number of poor vestiges of the panic torrent that musthave poured Londonward on the Sunday night after thefighting began. There was a little two-wheeled cart inscribedwith the name of Thomas Lobb, Greengrocer, New Malden,with a smashed wheel and an abandoned tin trunk; therewas a straw hat trampled into the now hardened mud, andat the top of West Hill a lot of blood-stained glass about theoverturned water trough. My movements were languid, myplans of the vaguest. I had an idea of going to Leatherhead,though I knew that there I had the poorest chance of findingmy wife. Certainly, unless death had overtaken them sud-denly, my cousins and she would have fled thence; but itseemed to me I might find or learn there whither the Surreypeople had fled. I knew I wanted to find my wife, that myheart ached for her and the world of men, but I had noclear idea how the finding might be done. I was also sharplyaware now of my intense loneliness. From the corner I went,under cover of a thicket of trees and bushes, to the edge ofWimbledon Common, stretching wide and far.

That dark expanse was lit in patches by yellow gorse andbroom; there was no red weed to be seen, and as I prowled,hesitating, on the verge of the open, the sun rose, floodingit all with light and vitality. I came upon a busy swarm oflittle frogs in a swampy place among the trees. I stoppedto look at them, drawing a lesson from their stout resolveto live. And presently, turning suddenly, with an oddfeeling of being watched, I beheld something crouchingamid a clump of bushes. I stood regarding this. I made astep towards it, and it rose up and became a man armedwith a cutlass. I approached him slowly. He stood silent andmotionless, regarding me.

As I drew nearer I perceived he was dressed in clothesas dusty and filthy as my own; he looked, indeed, as thoughhe had been dragged through a culvert. Nearer, I distin-guished the green slime of ditches mixing with the pale drabof dried clay and shiny, coaly patches. His black hair fell overhis eyes, and his face was dark and dirty and sunken, sothat at first I did not recognise him. There was a red cutacross the lower part of his face.

"Stop!" he cried, when I was within ten yards of him, andI stopped. His voice was hoarse. "Where do you come from?"he said.

I thought, surveying him.

"I come from Mortlake," I said. "I was buried near thepit the Martians made about their cylinder. I have workedmy way out and escaped."

"There is no food about here," he said. "This is my coun-try. All this hill down to the river, and back to Clapham,and up to the edge of the common. There is only food for one.Which way are you going?"

I answered slowly.

"I don't know," I said. "I have been buried in the ruinsof a house thirteen or fourteen days. I don't know what hashappened."

He looked at me doubtfully, then started, and looked witha changed expression.

"I've no wish to stop about here," said I. "I think I shallgo to Leatherhead, for my wife was there."

He shot out a pointing finger.

"It is you," said he; "the man from Woking. And youweren't killed at Weybridge?"

I recognised him at the same moment.

"You are the artilleryman who came into my garden."

"Good luck!" he said. "We are lucky ones! Fancy YOU!" Heput out a hand, and I took it. "I crawled up a drain," he said."But they didn't kill everyone. And after they went away Igot off towards Walton across the fields. But---- It's notsixteen days altogether--and your hair is grey." He lookedover his shoulder suddenly. "Only a rook," he said. "Onegets to know that birds have shadows these days. This is abit open. Let us crawl under those bushes and talk."

"Have you seen any Martians?" I said. "Since I crawledout----"

"They've gone away across London," he said. "I guessthey've got a bigger camp there. Of a night, all over there,Hampstead way, the sky is alive with their lights. It's likea great city, and in the glare you can just see them moving.By daylight you can't. But nearer--I haven't seen them--"(he counted on his fingers) "five days. Then I saw a coupleacross Hammersmith way carrying something big. And thenight before last"--he stopped and spoke impressively--"itwas just a matter of lights, but it was something up in theair. I believe they've built a flying-machine, and are learn-ing to fly."

I stopped, on hands and knees, for we had come to thebushes.


"Yes," he said, "fly."

I went on into a little bower, and sat down.

"It is all over with humanity," I said. "If they can do thatthey will simply go round the world."

He nodded.

"They will. But---- It will relieve things over here a bit.And besides----" He looked at me. "Aren't you satisfied it ISup with humanity? I am. We're down; we're beat."

I stared. Strange as it may seem, I had not arrived at thisfact--a fact perfectly obvious so soon as he spoke. I hadstill held a vague hope; rather, I had kept a lifelong habitof mind. He repeated his words, "We're beat." They carriedabsolute conviction.

"It's all over," he said. "They've lost ONE--just ONE.And they've made their footing good and crippled the greatestpower in the world. They've walked over us. The death ofthat one at Weybridge was an accident. And these are onlypioneers. They kept on coming. These green stars--I've seennone these five or six days, but I've no doubt they're fallingsomewhere every night. Nothing's to be done. We're under!We're beat!"

I made him no answer. I sat staring before me, trying invain to devise some countervailing thought.

"This isn't a war," said the artilleryman. "It never was awar, any more than there's war between man and ants."

Suddenly I recalled the night in the observatory.

"After the tenth shot they fired no more--at least, untilthe first cylinder came."

"How do you know?" said the artilleryman. I explained.He thought. "Something wrong with the gun," he said. "Butwhat if there is? They'll get it right again. And even ifthere's a delay, how can it alter the end? It's just men andants. There's the ants builds their cities, live their lives,have wars, revolutions, until the men want them out of the way,and then they go out of the way. That's what we are now--justants. Only----"

"Yes," I said.

"We're eatable ants."

We sat looking at each other.

"And what will they do with us?" I said.

"That's what I've been thinking," he said; "that's what I'vebeen thinking. After Weybridge I went south--thinking. Isaw what was up. Most of the people were hard at itsquealing and exciting themselves. But I'm not so fond ofsquealing. I've been in sight of death once or twice; I'mnot an ornamental soldier, and at the best and worst, death--it's just death. And it's the man that keeps on thinking comesthrough. I saw everyone tracking away south. Says I, "Foodwon't last this way," and I turned right back. I went forthe Martians like a sparrow goes for man. All round"--hewaved a hand to the horizon--"they're starving in heaps,bolting, treading on each other. . . ."

He saw my face, and halted awkwardly.

"No doubt lots who had money have gone away toFrance," he said. He seemed to hesitate whether to apolo-gise, met my eyes, and went on: "There's food all about here.Canned things in shops; wines, spirits, mineral waters; andthe water mains and drains are empty. Well, I was tellingyou what I was thinking. "Here's intelligent things," I said,"and it seems they want us for food. First, they'll smash usup--ships, machines, guns, cities, all the order and organisa-tion. All that will go. If we were the size of ants we mightpull through. But we're not. It's all too bulky to stop.That's the first certainty." Eh?"

I assented.

"It is; I've thought it out. Very well, then--next; atpresent we're caught as we're wanted. A Martian has only to goa few miles to get a crowd on the run. And I saw one, one day,out by Wandsworth, picking houses to pieces and routingamong the wreckage. But they won't keep on doing that.So soon as they've settled all our guns and ships, andsmashed our railways, and done all the things they aredoing over there, they will begin catching us systematic, pick-ing the best and storing us in cages and things. That's whatthey will start doing in a bit. Lord! They haven't begun onus yet. Don't you see that?"

"Not begun!" I exclaimed.

"Not begun. All that's happened so far is through our nothaving the sense to keep quiet--worrying them with gunsand such foolery. And losing our heads, and rushing off incrowds to where there wasn't any more safety than wherewe were. They don't want to bother us yet. They're makingtheir things--making all the things they couldn't bring withthem, getting things ready for the rest of their people. Verylikely that's why the cylinders have stopped for a bit, forfear of hitting those who are here. And instead of our rush-ing about blind, on the howl, or getting dynamite on thechance of busting them up, we've got to fix ourselves upaccording to the new state of affairs. That's how I figure itout. It isn't quite according to what a man wants for hisspecies, but it's about what the facts point to. And that's theprinciple I acted upon. Cities, nations, civilisation,progress--it's all over. That game's up. We're beat."

"But if that is so, what is there to live for?"

The artilleryman looked at me for a moment.

"There won't be any more blessed concerts for a millionyears or so; there won't be any Royal Academy of Arts, andno nice little feeds at restaurants. If it's amusement you'reafter, I reckon the game is up. If you've got any drawing-room manners or a dislike to eating peas with a knife ordropping aitches, you'd better chuck 'em away. They ain'tno further use."

"You mean----"

"I mean that men like me are going on living--for thesake of the breed. I tell you, I'm grim set on living. And ifI'm not mistaken, you'll show what insides YOU'VE got, too,before long. We aren't going to be exterminated. And I don'tmean to be caught either, and tamed and fattened and bredlike a thundering ox. Ugh! Fancy those brown creepers!"

"You don't mean to say----"

"I do. I'm going on, under their feet. I've got it planned;I've thought it out. We men are beat. We don't knowenough. We've got to learn before we've got a chance. Andwe've got to live and keep independent while we learn. See!That's what has to be done."

I stared, astonished, and stirred profoundly by the man'sresolution.

"Great God!," cried I. "But you are a man indeed!" Andsuddenly I gripped his hand.

"Eh!" he said, with his eyes shining. "I've thought it out,eh?"

"Go on," I said.

"Well, those who mean to escape their catching must getready. I'm getting ready. Mind you, it isn't all of us thatare made for wild beasts; and that's what it's got to be.That's why I watched you. I had my doubts. You're slender.I didn't know that it was you, you see, or just how you'dbeen buried. All these--the sort of people that lived inthese houses, and all those damn little clerks that used tolive down that way--they'd be no good. They haven't anyspirit in them--no proud dreams and no proud lusts; and aman who hasn't one or the other--Lord! What is he butfunk and precautions? They just used to skedaddle off towork--I've seen hundreds of 'em, bit of breakfast in hand,running wild and shining to catch their little season-tickettrain, for fear they'd get dismissed if they didn't; workingat businesses they were afraid to take the trouble to under-stand; skedaddling back for fear they wouldn't be in timefor dinner; keeping indoors after dinner for fear of the backstreets, and sleeping with the wives they married, not be-cause they wanted them, but because they had a bit ofmoney that would make for safety in their one little mis-erable skedaddle through the world. Lives insured and abit invested for fear of accidents. And on Sundays--fear ofthe hereafter. As if hell was built for rabbits! Well, the Mar-tians will just be a godsend to these. Nice roomy cages, fat-tening food, careful breeding, no worry. After a week or sochasing about the fields and lands on empty stomachs, they'llcome and be caught cheerful. They'll be quite glad after abit. They'll wonder what people did before there wereMartians to take care of them. And the bar loafers, andmashers, and singers--I can imagine them. I can imaginethem," he said, with a sort of sombre gratification. "There'llbe any amount of sentiment and religion loose among them.There's hundreds of things I saw with my eyes that I'veonly begun to see clearly these last few days. There's lotswill take things as they are--fat and stupid; and lots willbe worried by a sort of feeling that it's all wrong, and thatthey ought to be doing something. Now whenever things areso that a lot of people feel they ought to be doing some-thing, the weak, and those who go weak with a lot of com-plicated thinking, always make for a sort of do-nothingreligion, very pious and superior, and submit to persecutionand the will of the Lord. Very likely you've seen the samething. It's energy in a gale of funk, and turned clean insideout. These cages will be full of psalms and hymns and piety.And those of a less simple sort will work in a bit of--whatis it?--eroticism."

He paused.

"Very likely these Martians will make pets of some of them;train them to do tricks--who knows?--get sentimental overthe pet boy who grew up and had to be killed. And some,maybe, they will train to hunt us."

"No," I cried, "that's impossible! No human being----"

"What's the good of going on with such lies?" said theartilleryman. "There's men who'd do it cheerful. What non-sense to pretend there isn't!"

And I succumbed to his conviction.

"If they come after me," he said; "Lord, if they comeafter me!" and subsided into a grim meditation.

I sat contemplating these things. I could find nothingto bring against this man's reasoning. In the days beforethe invasion no one would have questioned my intellectualsuperiority to his--I, a professed and recognised writer onphilosophical themes, and he, a common soldier; and yethe had already formulated a situation that I had scarcelyrealised.

"What are you doing?" I said presently. "What planshave you made?"

He hesitated.

"Well, it's like this," he said. "What have we to do? Wehave to invent a sort of life where men can live and breed,and be sufficiently secure to bring the children up. Yes--waita bit, and I'll make it clearer what I think ought to be done.The tame ones will go like all tame beasts; in a few genera-tions they'll be big, beautiful, rich-blooded, stupid--rubbish!The risk is that we who keep wild will go savage--de-generate into a sort of big, savage rat. . . . You see, how Imean to live is underground. I've been thinking about thedrains. Of course those who don't know drains think horriblethings; but under this London are miles and miles--hundredsof miles--and a few days" rain and London empty will leavethem sweet and clean. The main drains are big enough andairy enough for anyone. Then there's cellars, vaults, stores,from which bolting passages may be made to the drains.And the railway tunnels and subways. Eh? You begin to see?And we form a band--able-bodied, clean-minded men. We'renot going to pick up any rubbish that drifts in. Weaklingsgo out again."

"As you meant me to go?"

"Well--l parleyed, didn't I?"

"We won't quarrel about that. Go on."

"Those who stop obey orders. Able-bodied, clean-mindedwomen we want also--mothers and teachers. No lackadaisicalladies--no blasted rolling eyes. We can't have any weak orsilly. Life is real again, and the useless and cumbersome andmischievous have to die. They ought to die. They ought tobe willing to die. It's a sort of disloyalty, after all, to liveand taint the race. And they can't be happy. Moreover, dying'snone so dreadful; it's the funking makes it bad. And in allthose places we shall gather. Our district will be London.And we may even be able to keep a watch, and run aboutin the open when the Martians keep away. Play cricket, per-haps. That's how we shall save the race. Eh? It's a possiblething? But saving the race is nothing in itself. As I say,that's only being rats. It's saving our knowledge and addingto it is the thing. There men like you come in. There's books,there's models. We must make great safe places down deep,and get all the books we can; not novels and poetry swipes,but ideas, science books. That's where men like you comein. We must go to the British Museum and pick all thosebooks through. Especially we must keep up our science--learn more. We must watch these Martians. Some of usmust go as spies. When it's all working, perhaps I will. Getcaught, I mean. And the great thing is, we must leave theMartians alone. We mustn't even steal. If we get in theirway, we clear out. We must show them we mean no harm.Yes, I know. But they're intelligent things, and they won'thunt us down if they have all they want, and think we'rejust harmless vermin."

The artilleryman paused and laid a brown hand uponmy arm.

"After all, it may not be so much we may have to learnbefore-- Just imagine this: four or five of their fightingmachines suddenly starting off--Heat-Rays right and left, andnot a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian in 'em, but men--menwho have learned the way how. It may be in my time, even--those men. Fancy having one of them lovely things, with itsHeat-Ray wide and free! Fancy having it in control! Whatwould it matter if you smashed to smithereens at the end ofthe run, after a bust like that? I reckon the Martians'll opentheir beautiful eyes! Can't you see them, man? Can't you seethem hurrying, hurrying--puffing and blowing and hooting totheir other mechanical affairs? Something out of gear in everycase. And swish, bang, rattle, swish! Just as they are fum-bling over it, SWISH comes the Heat-Ray, and, behold! manhas come back to his own."

For a while the imaginative daring of the artilleryman,and the tone of assurance and courage he assumed, com-pletely dominated my mind. I believed unhesitatingly bothin his forecast of human destiny and in the practicability ofhis astonishing scheme, and the reader who thinks me sus-ceptible and foolish must contrast his position, readingsteadily with all his thoughts about his subject, and mine,crouching fearfully in the bushes and listening, distractedby apprehension. We talked in this manner through the earlymorning time, and later crept out of the bushes, and, afterscanning the sky for Martians, hurried precipitately to thehouse on Putney Hill where he had made his lair. It was thecoal cellar of the place, and when I saw the work he hadspent a week upon--it was a burrow scarcely ten yardslong, which he designed to reach to the main drain onPutney Hill--I had my first inkling of the gulf between hisdreams and his powers. Such a hole I could have dug in aday. But I believed in him sufficiently to work with him allthat morning until past midday at his digging. We had agarden barrow and shot the earth we removed against thekitchen range. We refreshed ourselves with a tin of mock-turtle soup and wine from the neighbouring pantry. Ifound a curious relief from the aching strangeness of theworld in this steady labour. As we worked, I turned hisproject over in my mind, and presently objections anddoubts began to arise; but I worked there all the morning,so glad was I to find myself with a purpose again. Afterworking an hour I began to speculate on the distance onehad to go before the cloaca was reached, the chances we hadof missing it altogether. My immediate trouble was whywe should dig this long tunnel, when it was possible to getinto the drain at once down one of the manholes, and workback to the house. It seemed to me, too, that the house wasinconveniently chosen, and required a needless length oftunnel. And just as I was beginning to face these things, theartilleryman stopped digging, and looked at me.

"We're working well," he said. He put down his spade."Let us knock off a bit" he said. "I think it's time we recon-noitred from the roof of the house."

I was for going on, and after a little hesitation he resumedhis spade; and then suddenly I was struck by a thought.I stopped, and so did he at once.

"Why were you walking about the common," I said,"instead of being here?"

"Taking the air," he said. "I was coming back. It's saferby night."

"But the work?"

"Oh, one can't always work," he said, and in a flash I sawthe man plain. He hesitated, holding his spade. "We oughtto reconnoitre now," he said, "because if any come near theymay hear the spades and drop upon us unawares."

I was no longer disposed to object. We went together tothe roof and stood on a ladder peeping out of the roof door.No Martians were to be seen, and we ventured out on thetiles, and slipped down under shelter of the parapet.

From this position a shrubbery hid the greater portion ofPutney, but we could see the river below, a bubbly massof red weed, and the low parts of Lambeth flooded and red.The red creeper swarmed up the trees about the old palace,and their branches stretched gaunt and dead, and set withshrivelled leaves, from amid its clusters. It was strange howentirely dependent both these things were upon flowingwater for their propagation. About us neither had gained afooting; laburnums, pink mays, snowballs, and trees of arbor-vitae, rose out of laurels and hydrangeas, green and brilliantinto the sunlight. Beyond Kensington dense smoke was rising,and that and a blue haze hid the northward hills.

The artilleryman began to tell me of the sort of peoplewho still remained in London.

"One night last week," he said, "some fools got the electriclight in order, and there was all Regent Street and the Circusablaze, crowded with painted and ragged drunkards, menand women, dancing and shouting till dawn. A man who wasthere told me. And as the day came they became aware ofa fighting-machine standing near by the Langham and look-ing down at them. Heaven knows how long he had beenthere. It must have given some of them a nasty turn. Hecame down the road towards them, and picked up nearly ahundred too drunk or frightened to run away."

Grotesque gleam of a time no history will ever fullydescribe!

From that, in answer to my questions, he came round tohis grandiose plans again. He grew enthusiastic. He talkedso eloquently of the possibility of capturing a fighting-machine that I more than half believed in him again. Butnow that I was beginning to understand something of hisquality, I could divine the stress he laid on doing nothingprecipitately. And I noted that now there was no questionthat he personally was to capture and fight the great machine.

After a time we went down to the cellar. Neither of usseemed disposed to resume digging, and when he suggesteda meal, I was nothing loath. He became suddenly verygenerous, and when we had eaten he went away and returnedwith some excellent cigars. We lit these, and his optimismglowed. He was inclined to regard my coming as a greatoccasion.

"There's some champagne in the cellar," he said.

"We can dig better on this Thames-side burgundy," said I.

"No," said he; "I am host today. Champagne! Great God!We've a heavy enough task before us! Let us take a restand gather strength while we may. Look at these blisteredhands!"

And pursuant to this idea of a holiday, he insisted uponplaying cards after we had eaten. He taught me euchre, andafter dividing London between us, I taking the northern sideand he the southern, we played for parish points. Grotesqueand foolish as this will seem to the sober reader, it is abso-lutely true, and what is more remarkable, I found the cardgame and several others we played extremely interesting.

Strange mind of man! that, with our species upon theedge of extermination or appalling degradation, with no clearprospect before us but the chance of a horrible death, wecould sit following the chance of this painted pasteboard,and playing the "joker" with vivid delight. Afterwardshe taught me poker, and I beat him at three tough chessgames. When dark came we decided to take the risk, and lita lamp.

After an interminable string of games, we supped, and theartilleryman finished the champagne. We went on smokingthe cigars. He was no longer the energetic regenerator ofhis species I had encountered in the morning. He was stilloptimistic, but it was a less kinetic, a more thoughtfuloptimism. I remember he wound up with my health, proposedin a speech of small variety and considerable intermittence.I took a cigar, and went upstairs to look at the lights ofwhich he had spoken that blazed so greenly along theHighgate hills.

At first I stared unintelligently across the London valley.The northern hills were shrouded in darkness; the fires nearKensington glowed redly, and now and then an orange-redtongue of flame flashed up and vanished in the deep bluenight. All the rest of London was black. Then, nearer, Iperceived a strange light, a pale, violet-purple fluorescentglow, quivering under the night breeze. For a space I couldnot understand it, and then I knew that it must be the redweed from which this faint irradiation proceeded. With thatrealisation my dormant sense of wonder, my sense of theproportion of things, awoke again. I glanced from that toMars, red and clear, glowing high in the west, and thengazed long and earnestly at the darkness of Hampstead andHighgate.

I remained a very long time upon the roof, wondering atthe grotesque changes of the day. I recalled my mental statesfrom the midnight prayer to the foolish card-playing. I had aviolent revulsion of feeling. I remember I flung away thecigar with a certain wasteful symbolism. My folly came tome with glaring exaggeration. I seemed a traitor to my wifeand to my kind; I was filled with remorse. I resolved to leavethis strange undisciplined dreamer of great things to his drinkand gluttony, and to go on into London. There, it seemedto me, I had the best chance of learning what the Martiansand my fellowmen were doing. I was still upon the roof whenthe late moon rose.



After I had parted from the artilleryman, I went downthe hill, and by the High Street across the bridge to Fulham.The red weed was tumultuous at that time, and nearlychoked the bridge roadway; but its fronds were alreadywhitened in patches by the spreading disease that presentlyremoved it so swiftly.

At the corner of the lane that runs to Putney Bridgestation I found a man lying. He was as black as a sweepwith the black dust, alive, but helplessly and speechlesslydrunk. I could get nothing from him but curses and furiouslunges at my head. I think I should have stayed by him butfor the brutal expression of his face.

There was black dust along the roadway from the bridgeonwards, and it grew thicker in Fulham. The streets werehorribly quiet. I got food--sour, hard, and mouldy, but quiteeatable--in a baker's shop here. Some way towards WalhamGreen the streets became clear of powder, and I passed awhite terrace of houses on fire; the noise of the burning wasan absolute relief. Going on towards Brompton, the streetswere quiet again.

Here I came once more upon the black powder in thestreets and upon dead bodies. I saw altogether about a dozenin the length of the Fulham Road. They had been dead manydays, so that I hurried quickly past them. The black powdercovered them over, and softened their outlines. One or twohad been disturbed by dogs.

Where there was no black powder, it was curiously likea Sunday in the City, with the closed shops, the houseslocked up and the blinds drawn, the desertion, and thestillness. In some places plunderers had been at work, butrarely at other than the provision and wine shops. A jeweller'swindow had been broken open in one place, but apparentlythe thief had been disturbed, and a number of gold chainsand a watch lay scattered on the pavement. I did not troubleto touch them. Farther on was a tattered woman in a heapon a doorstep; the hand that hung over her knee was gashedand bled down her rusty brown dress, and a smashed magnumof champagne formed a pool across the pavement. She seemedasleep, but she was dead.

The farther I penetrated into London, the profounder grewthe stillness. But it was not so much the stillness of death--it was the stillness of suspense, of expectation. At any timethe destruction that had already singed the northwesternborders of the metropolis, and had annihilated Ealing andKilburn, might strike among these houses and leave themsmoking ruins. It was a city condemned and derelict. . . .

In South Kensington the streets were clear of dead and ofblack powder. It was near South Kensington that I first heardthe howling. It crept almost imperceptibly upon my senses.It was a sobbing alternation of two notes, "Ulla, ulla, ulla,ulla," keeping on perpetually. When I passed streets that rannorthward it grew in volume, and houses and buildingsseemed to deaden and cut it off again. It came in a full tidedown Exhibition Road. I stopped, staring towards KensingtonGardens, wondering at this strange, remote wailing. It was asif that mighty desert of houses had found a voice for its fearand solitude.

"Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," wailed that superhuman note--great waves of sound sweeping down the broad, sunlit road-way, between the tall buildings on each side. I turned north-wards, marvelling, towards the iron gates of Hyde Park. I hadhalf a mind to break into the Natural History Museum andfind my way up to the summits of the towers, in order to seeacross the park. But I decided to keep to the ground, wherequick hiding was possible, and so went on up the ExhibitionRoad. All the large mansions on each side of the road wereempty and still, and my footsteps echoed against the sidesof the houses. At the top, near the park gate, I came upona strange sight--a bus overturned, and the skeleton of ahorse picked clean. I puzzled over this for a time, and thenwent on to the bridge over the Serpentine. The voice grewstronger and stronger, though I could see nothing above thehousetops on the north side of the park, save a haze of smoketo the northwest.

"Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," cried the voice, coming, as itseemed to me, from the district about Regent's Park. Thedesolating cry worked upon my mind. The mood that hadsustained me passed. The wailing took possession of me. Ifound I was intensely weary, footsore, and now again hungryand thirsty.

It was already past noon. Why was I wandering alone inthis city of the dead? Why was I alone when all London waslying in state, and in its black shroud? I felt intolerablylonely. My mind ran on old friends that I had forgotten foryears. I thought of the poisons in the chemists" shops, of theliquors the wine merchants stored; I recalled the two soddencreatures of despair, who so far as I knew, shared the citywith myself. . . .

I came into Oxford Street by the Marble Arch, and hereagain were black powder and several bodies, and an evil,ominous smell from the gratings of the cellars of some of thehouses. I grew very thirsty after the heat of my long walk.With infinite trouble I managed to break into a public-houseand get food and drink. I was weary after eating, and wentinto the parlour behind the bar, and slept on a black horse-hair sofa I found there.

I awoke to find that dismal howling still in my ears,"Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla." It was now dusk, and after I hadrouted out some biscuits and a cheese in the bar--there wasa meat safe, but it contained nothing but maggots--I wan-dered on through the silent residential squares to Baker Street--Portman Square is the only one I can name--and so cameout at last upon Regent's Park. And as I emerged from thetop of Baker Street, I saw far away over the trees in theclearness of the sunset the hood of the Martian giant fromwhich this howling proceeded. I was not terrified. I cameupon him as if it were a matter of course. I watched him forsome time, but he did not move. He appeared to be standingand yelling, for no reason that I could discover.

I tried to formulate a plan of action. That perpetual soundof "Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," confused my mind. Perhaps I wastoo tired to be very fearful. Certainly I was more curious toknow the reason of this monotonous crying than afraid. Iturned back away from the park and struck into Park Road,intending to skirt the park, went along under the shelter ofthe terraces, and got a view of this stationary, howlingMartian from the direction of St. John's Wood. A couple ofhundred yards out of Baker Street I heard a yelping chorus,and saw, first a dog with a piece of putrescent red meat inhis jaws coming headlong towards me, and then a pack ofstarving mongrels in pursuit of him. He made a wide curveto avoid me, as though he feared I might prove a freshcompetitor. As the yelping died away down the silent road,the wailing sound of "Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," reasserted itself.

I came upon the wrecked handling-machine halfway toSt. John's Wood station. At first I thought a house had fallenacross the road. It was only as I clambered among the ruinsthat I saw, with a start, this mechanical Samson lying, withits tentacles bent and smashed and twisted, among the ruinsit had made. The forepart was shattered. It seemed as if ithad driven blindly straight at the house, and had been over-whelmed in its overthrow. It seemed to me then that thismight have happened by a handling-machine escaping fromthe guidance of its Martian. I could not clamber among theruins to see it, and the twilight was now so far advancedthat the blood with which its seat was smeared, and thegnawed gristle of the Martian that the dogs had left, wereinvisible to me.

Wondering still more at all that I had seen, I pushed ontowards Primrose Hill. Far away, through a gap in the trees,I saw a second Martian, as motionless as the first, standingin the park towards the Zoological Gardens, and silent. Alittle beyond the ruins about the smashed handling-machineI came upon the red weed again, and found the Regent'sCanal, a spongy mass of dark-red vegetation.

As I crossed the bridge, the sound of "Ulla, ulla, ulla,ulla," ceased. It was, as it were, cut off. The silence camelike a thunderclap.

The dusky houses about me stood faint and tall and dim;the trees towards the park were growing black. All aboutme the red weed clambered among the ruins, writhing toget above me in the dimness. Night, the mother of fear andmystery, was coming upon me. But while that voice soundedthe solitude, the desolation, had been endurable; by virtueof it London had still seemed alive, and the sense of lifeabout me had upheld me. Then suddenly a change, thepassing of something--I knew not what--and then a stillnessthat could be felt. Nothing but this gaunt quiet.

London about me gazed at me spectrally. The windowsin the white houses were like the eye sockets of skulls. Aboutme my imagination found a thousand noiseless enemiesmoving. Terror seized me, a horror of my temerity. In frontof me the road became pitchy black as though it was tarred,and I saw a contorted shape lying across the pathway. Icould not bring myself to go on. I turned down St. John'sWood Road, and ran headlong from this unendurable stillnesstowards Kilburn. I hid from the night and the silence, untillong after midnight, in a cabmen's shelter in Harrow Road.But before the dawn my courage returned, and while thestars were still in the sky I turned once more towardsRegent's Park. I missed my way among the streets, andpresently saw down a long avenue, in the half-light of theearly dawn, the curve of Primrose Hill. On the summit,towering up to the fading stars, was a third Martian, erectand motionless like the others.

An insane resolve possessed me. I would die and end it.And I would save myself even the trouble of killing myself.I marched on recklessly towards this Titan, and then, as Idrew nearer and the light grew, I saw that a multitude ofblack birds was circling and clustering about the hood. Atthat my heart gave a bound, and I began running alongthe road.

I hurried through the red weed that choked St. Edmund'sTerrace (I waded breast-high across a torrent of water thatwas rushing down from the waterworks towards the AlbertRoad), and emerged upon the grass before the rising of thesun. Great mounds had been heaped about the crest of thehill, making a huge redoubt of it--it was the final andlargest place the Martians had made--and from behindthese heaps there rose a thin smoke against the sky. Againstthe sky line an eager dog ran and disappeared. The thoughtthat had flashed into my mind grew real, grew credible. I feltno fear, only a wild, trembling exultation, as I ran up the hilltowards the motionless monster. Out of the hood hunglank shreds of brown, at which the hungry birds pecked andtore.

In another moment I had scrambled up the earthen ram-part and stood upon its crest, and the interior of the redoubtwas below me. A mighty space it was, with gigantic machineshere and there within it, huge mounds of material and strangeshelter places. And scattered about it, some in their over-turned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid ina row, were the Martians--DEAD!--slain by the putrefactiveand disease bacteria against which their systems were unpre-pared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after allman's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God,in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.

For so it had come about, as indeed I and many menmight have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded ourminds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanitysince the beginning of things--taken toll of our prehumanancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this naturalselection of our kind we have developed resisting power; tono germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many--those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance--our living frames are altogether immune. But there are nobacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directlythey drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to worktheir overthrow. Already when I watched them they wereirrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went toand fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deathsman has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his againstall comers; it would still be his were the Martians tentimes as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die invain.

Here and there they were scattered, nearly fifty altogether,in that great gulf they had made, overtaken by a death thatmust have seemed to them as incomprehensible as any deathcould be. To me also at that time this death was incompre-hensible. All I knew was that these things that had been aliveand so terrible to men were dead. For a moment I believedthat the destruction of Sennacherib had been repeated, thatGod had repented, that the Angel of Death had slain themin the night.

I stood staring into the pit, and my heart lightened glori-ously, even as the rising sun struck the world to fire aboutme with his rays. The pit was still in darkness; the mightyengines, so great and wonderful in their power and com-plexity, so unearthly in their tortuous forms, rose weird andvague and strange out of the shadows towards the light. Amultitude of dogs, I could hear, fought over the bodies thatlay darkly in the depth of the pit, far below me. Across thepit on its farther lip, flat and vast and strange, lay the greatflying-machine with which they had been experimentingupon our denser atmosphere when decay and death arrestedthem. Death had come not a day too soon. At the sound ofa cawing overhead I looked up at the huge fighting-machinethat would fight no more for ever, at the tattered red shredsof flesh that dripped down upon the overturned seats on thesummit of Primrose Hill.

I turned and looked down the slope of the hill to where,enhaloed now in birds, stood those other two Martians thatI had seen overnight, just as death had overtaken them. Theone had died, even as it had been crying to its companions;perhaps it was the last to die, and its voice had gone onperpetually until the force of its machinery was exhausted.They glittered now, harmless tripod towers of shining metal,in the brightness of the rising sun.

All about the pit, and saved as by a miracle from ever-lasting destruction, stretched the great Mother of Cities.Those who have only seen London veiled in her sombre robesof smoke can scarcely imagine the naked clearness and beautyof the silent wilderness of houses.

Eastward, over the blackened ruins of the Albert Terraceand the splintered spire of the church, the sun blazed daz-zling in a clear sky, and here and there some facet in thegreat wilderness of roofs caught the light and glared witha white intensity.

Northward were Kilburn and Hampsted, blue and crowdedwith houses; westward the great city was dimmed; andsouthward, beyond the Martians, the green waves of Regent'sPark, the Langham Hotel, the dome of the Albert Hall, theImperial Institute, and the giant mansions of the BromptonRoad came out clear and little in the sunrise, the jaggedruins of Westminster rising hazily beyond. Far awayand blue were the Surrey hills, and the towers of theCrystal Palace glittered like two silver rods. The dome ofSt. Paul's was dark against the sunrise, and injured, I saw forthe first time, by a huge gaping cavity on its westernside.

And as I looked at this wide expanse of houses and fac-tories and churches, silent and abandoned; as I thought ofthe multitudinous hopes and efforts, the innumerable hostsof lives that had gone to build this human reef, and of theswift and ruthless destruction that had hung over it all; whenI realised that the shadow had been rolled back, and thatmen might still live in the streets, and this dear vast deadcity of mine be once more alive and powerful, I felt a waveof emotion that was near akin to tears.

The torment was over. Even that day the healing wouldbegin. The survivors of the people scattered over the coun-try--leaderless, lawless, foodless, like sheep without a shep-herd--the thousands who had fled by sea, would begin toreturn; the pulse of life, growing stronger and stronger,would beat again in the empty streets and pour across thevacant squares. Whatever destruction was done, the handof the destroyer was stayed. All the gaunt wrecks, the black-ened skeletons of houses that stared so dismally at the sunlitgrass of the hill, would presently be echoing with the ham-mers of the restorers and ringing with the tapping of theirtrowels. At the thought I extended my hands towards thesky and began thanking God. In a year, thought I--in ayear. . .

With overwhelming force came the thought of myself,of my wife, and the old life of hope and tender helpfulnessthat had ceased for ever.



And now comes the strangest thing in my story. Yet,perhaps, it is not altogether strange. I remember, clearly andcoldly and vividly, all that I did that day until the time thatI stood weeping and praising God upon the summit of Prim-rose Hill. And then I forget.

Of the next three days I know nothing. I have learnedsince that, so far from my being the first discoverer of theMartian overthrow, several such wanderers as myself hadalready discovered this on the previous night. One man--the first--had gone to St. Martin's-le-Grand, and, while Isheltered in the cabmen's hut, had contrived to telegraph toParis. Thence the joyful news had flashed all over the world;a thousand cities, chilled by ghastly apprehensions, sud-denly flashed into frantic illuminations; they knew of it inDublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, at the timewhen I stood upon the verge of the pit. Already men, weep-ing with joy, as I have heard, shouting and staying theirwork to shake hands and shout, were making up trains, evenas near as Crewe, to descend upon London. The church bellsthat had ceased a fortnight since suddenly caught the news,until all England was bell-ringing. Men on cycles, lean-faced,unkempt, scorched along every country lane shouting ofunhoped deliverance, shouting to gaunt, staring figures ofdespair. And for the food! Across the Channel, across theIrish Sea, across the Atlantic, corn, bread, and meat weretearing to our relief. All the shipping in the world seemedgoing Londonward in those days. But of all this I have nomemory. I drifted--a demented man. I found myself in ahouse of kindly people, who had found me on the third daywandering, weeping, and raving through the streets of St.John's Wood. They have told me since that I was singingsome insane doggerel about "The Last Man Left Alive!Hurrah! The Last Man Left Alive!" Troubled as they werewith their own affairs, these people, whose name, much asI would like to express my gratitude to them, I may noteven give here, nevertheless cumbered themselves with me,sheltered me, and protected me from myself. Apparently theyhad learned something of my story from me during the daysof my lapse.

Very gently, when my mind was assured again, did theybreak to me what they had learned of the fate of Leather-head. Two days after I was imprisoned it had been destroyed,with every soul in it, by a Martian. He had swept it outof existence, as it seemed, without any provocation, as a boymight crush an ant hill, in the mere wantonness of power.

I was a lonely man, and they were very kind to me. Iwas a lonely man and a sad one, and they bore with me. Iremained with them four days after my recovery. All thattime I felt a vague, a growing craving to look once moreon whatever remained of the little life that seemed so happyand bright in my past. It was a mere hopeless desire to feastupon my misery. They dissuaded me. They did all theycould to divert me from this morbidity. But at last I couldresist the impulse no longer, and, promising faithfully toreturn to them, and parting, as I will confess, from thesefour-day friends with tears, I went out again into the streetsthat had lately been so dark and strange and empty.

Already they were busy with returning people; in placeseven there were shops open, and I saw a drinking fountainrunning water.

I remember how mockingly bright the day seemed as Iwent back on my melancholy pilgrimage to the little houseat Woking, how busy the streets and vivid the moving lifeabout me. So many people were abroad everywhere, busiedin a thousand activities, that it seemed incredible that anygreat proportion of the population could have been slain.But then I noticed how yellow were the skins of the peopleI met, how shaggy the hair of the men, how large and brighttheir eyes, and that every other man still wore his dirtyrags. Their faces seemed all with one of two expressions--aleaping exultation and energy or a grim resolution. Savefor the expression of the faces, London seemed a city oftramps. The vestries were indiscriminately distributing breadsent us by the French government. The ribs of the few horsesshowed dismally. Haggard special constables with whitebadges stood at the corners of every street. I saw little ofthe mischief wrought by the Martians until I reached Welling-ton Street, and there I saw the red weed clambering overthe buttresses of Waterloo Bridge.

At the corner of the bridge, too, I saw one of the commoncontrasts of that grotesque time--a sheet of paper flauntingagainst a thicket of the red weed, transfixed by a stick thatkept it in place. It was the placard of the first newspaperto resume publication--the DAILY MAIL. I bought a copyfor a blackened shilling I found in my pocket. Most of itwas in blank, but the solitary compositor who did the thinghad amused himself by making a grotesque scheme of ad-vertisement stereo on the back page. The matter he printedwas emotional; the news organisation had not as yet foundits way back. I learned nothing fresh except that alreadyin one week the examination of the Martian mechanisms hadyielded astonishing results. Among other things, the articleassured me what I did not believe at the time, that the"Secret of Flying," was discovered. At Waterloo I found thefree trains that were taking people to their homes. The firstrush was already over. There were few people in the train,and I was in no mood for casual conversation. I got a com-partment to myself, and sat with folded arms, looking greylyat the sunlit devastation that flowed past the windows. Andjust outside the terminus the train jolted over temporaryrails, and on either side of the railway the houses wereblackened ruins. To Clapham Junction the face of Londonwas grimy with powder of the Black Smoke, in spite oftwo days of thunderstorms and rain, and at Clapham Junc-tion the line had been wrecked again; there were hundredsof out-of-work clerks and shopmen working side by sidewith the customary navvies, and we were jolted over a hastyrelaying.

All down the line from there the aspect of the countrywas gaunt and unfamiliar; Wimbledon particularly had suf-fered. Walton, by virtue of its unburned pine woods, seemedthe least hurt of any place along the line. The Wandle, theMole, every little stream, was a heaped mass of red weed,in appearance between butcher's meat and pickled cabbage.The Surrey pine woods were too dry, however, for the festoonsof the red climber. Beyond Wimbledon, within sight of theline, in certain nursery grounds, were the heaped massesof earth about the sixth cylinder. A number of people werestanding about it, and some sappers were busy in the midstof it. Over it flaunted a Union Jack, flapping cheerfully inthe morning breeze. The nursery grounds were everywherecrimson with the weed, a wide expanse of livid colour cutwith purple shadows, and very painful to the eye. One'sgaze went with infinite relief from the scorched greys andsullen reds of the foreground to the blue-green softness ofthe eastward hills.

The line on the London side of Woking station was stillundergoing repair, so I descended at Byfleet station andtook the road to Maybury, past the place where I and theartilleryman had talked to the hussars, and on by the spotwhere the Martian had appeared to me in the thunderstorm.Here, moved by curiosity, I turned aside to find, among atangle of red fronds, the warped and broken dog cart withthe whitened bones of the horse scattered and gnawed. Fora time I stood regarding these vestiges. . . .

Then I returned through the pine wood, neck-high withred weed here and there, to find the landlord of the SpottedDog had already found burial, and so came home past theCollege Arms. A man standing at an open cottage doorgreeted me by name as I passed.

I looked at my house with a quick flash of hope thatfaded immediately. The door had been forced; it was unfastand was opening slowly as I approached.

It slammed again. The curtains of my study flutteredout of the open window from which I and the artillerymanhad watched the dawn. No one had closed it since. Thesmashed bushes were just as I had left them nearly fourweeks ago. I stumbled into the hall, and the house feltempty. The stair carpet was ruffled and discoloured whereI had crouched, soaked to the skin from the thunderstormthe night of the catastrophe. Our muddy footsteps I saw stillwent up the stairs.

I followed them to my study, and found lying on mywriting-table still, with the selenite paper weight upon it,the sheet of work I had left on the afternoon of the openingof the cylinder. For a space I stood reading over my aban-doned arguments. It was a paper on the probable develop-ment of Moral Ideas with the development of the civilisingprocess; and the last sentence was the opening of a prophecy:"In about two hundred years," I had written, "we mayexpect----" The sentence ended abruptly. I rememberedmy inability to fix my mind that morning, scarcely a monthgone by, and how I had broken off to get my DAILY CHRONICLEfrom the newsboy. I remembered how I went down to thegarden gate as he came along, and how I had listened to hisodd story of "Men from Mars."

I came down and went into the dining room. Therewere the mutton and the bread, both far gone now in decay,and a beer bottle overturned, just as I and the artillerymanhad left them. My home was desolate. I perceived the follyof the faint hope I had cherished so long. And then a strangething occurred. "It is no use," said a voice. "The house isdeserted. No one has been here these ten days. Do not stayhere to torment yourself. No one escaped but you."

I was startled. Had I spoken my thought aloud? I turned,and the French window was open behind me. I made astep to it, and stood looking out.

And there, amazed and afraid, even as I stood amazedand afraid, were my cousin and my wife--my wife whiteand tearless. She gave a faint cry.

"I came," she said. "I knew--knew----"

She put her hand to her throat--swayed. I made a stepforward, and caught her in my arms.



I cannot but regret, now that I am concluding my story,how little I am able to contribute to the discussion of themany debatable questions which are still unsettled. In onerespect I shall certainly provoke criticism. My particularprovince is speculative philosophy. My knowledge of com-parative physiology is confined to a book or two, but itseems to me that Carver's suggestions as to the reason ofthe rapid death of the Martians is so probable as to beregarded almost as a proven conclusion. I have assumedthat in the body of my narrative.

At any rate, in all the bodies of the Martians that wereexamined after the war, no bacteria except those alreadyknown as terrestrial species were found. That they did notbury any of their dead, and the reckless slaughter they per-petrated, point also to an entire ignorance of the putrefactiveprocess. But probable as this seems, it is by no means aproven conclusion.

Neither is the composition of the Black Smoke known,which the Martians used with such deadly effect, and thegenerator of the Heat-Rays remains a puzzle. The terribledisasters at the Ealing and South Kensington laboratorieshave disinclined analysts for further investigations uponthe latter. Spectrum analysis of the black powder pointsunmistakably to the presence of an unknown element witha brilliant group of three lines in the green, and it is pos-sible that it combines with argon to form a compoundwhich acts at once with deadly effect upon some constituentin the blood. But such unproven speculations will scarcelybe of interest to the general reader, to whom this story isaddressed. None of the brown scum that drifted down theThames after the destruction of Shepperton was examinedat the time, and now none is forthcoming.

The results of an anatomical examination of the Martians,so far as the prowling dogs had left such an examinationpossible, I have already given. But everyone is familiar withthe magnificent and almost complete specimen in spirits atthe Natural History Museum, and the countless drawingsthat have been made from it; and beyond that the interestof their physiology and structure is purely scientific.

A question of graver and universal interest is the possi-bility of another attack from the Martians. I do not thinkthat nearly enough attention is being given to this aspectof the matter. At present the planet Mars is in conjunction,but with every return to opposition I, for one, anticipatea renewal of their adventure. In any case, we should beprepared. It seems to me that it should be possible to definethe position of the gun from which the shots are discharged,to keep a sustained watch upon this part of the planet, andto anticipate the arrival of the next attack.

In that case the cylinder might be destroyed with dyna-mite or artillery before it was sufficiently cool for the Mar-tians to emerge, or they might be butchered by means ofguns so soon as the screw opened. It seems to me that theyhave lost a vast advantage in the failure of their firstsurprise. Possibly they see it in the same light.

Lessing has advanced excellent reasons for supposing thatthe Martians have actually succeeded in effecting a landingon the planet Venus. Seven months ago now, Venus andMars were in alignment with the sun; that is to say, Marswas in opposition from the point of view of an observer onVenus. Subsequently a peculiar luminous and sinuous mark-ing appeared on the unillumined half of the inner planet,and almost simultaneously a faint dark mark of a similarsinuous character was detected upon a photograph of theMartian disk. One needs to see the drawings of these ap-pearances in order to appreciate fully their remarkableresemblance in character.

At any rate, whether we expect another invasion or not,our views of the human future must be greatly modifiedby these events. We have learned now that we cannot regardthis planet as being fenced in and a secure abiding place forMan; we can never anticipate the unseen good or evil thatmay come upon us suddenly out of space. It may be that inthe larger design of the universe this invasion from Marsis not without its ultimate benefit for men; it has robbedus of that serene confidence in the future which is the mostfruitful source of decadence, the gifts to human science ithas brought are enormous, and it has done much to promotethe conception of the commonweal of mankind. It may bethat across the immensity of space the Martians have watchedthe fate of these pioneers of theirs and learned their lesson,and that on the planet Venus they have found a securersettlement. Be that as it may, for many years yet there willcertainly be no relaxation of the eager scrutiny of the Martiandisk, and those fiery darts of the sky, the shooting stars, willbring with them as they fall an unavoidable apprehension toall the sons of men.

The broadening of men's views that has resulted canscarcely be exaggerated. Before the cylinder fell there wasa general persuasion that through all the deep of space nolife existed beyond the petty surface of our minute sphere.Now we see further. If the Martians can reach Venus, thereis no reason to suppose that the thing is impossible for men,and when the slow cooling of the sun makes this earthuninhabitable, as at last it must do, it may be that the threadof life that has begun here will have streamed out and caughtour sister planet within its toils.

Dim and wonderful is the vision I have conjured up inmy mind of life spreading slowly from this little seed bedof the solar system throughout the inanimate vastness ofsidereal space. But that is a remote dream. It may be, onthe other hand, that the destruction of the Martians is onlya reprieve. To them, and not to us, perhaps, is the futureordained.

I must confess the stress and danger of the time have leftan abiding sense of doubt and insecurity in my mind. I sitin my study writing by lamplight, and suddenly I see againthe healing valley below set with writhing flames, and feelthe house behind and about me empty and desolate. I goout into the Byfleet Road, and vehicles pass me, a butcherboy in a cart, a cabful of visitors, a workman on a bicycle,children going to school, and suddenly they become vagueand unreal, and I hurry again with the artilleryman throughthe hot, brooding silence. Of a night I see the black powderdarkening the silent streets, and the contorted bodiesshrouded in that layer; they rise upon me tattered anddog-bitten. They gibber and grow fiercer, paler, uglier, maddistortions of humanity at last, and I wake, cold and wretched,in the darkness of the night.

I go to London and see the busy multitudes in FleetStreet and the Strand, and it comes across my mind thatthey are but the ghosts of the past, haunting the streets thatI have seen silent and wretched, going to and fro, phan-tasms in a dead city, the mockery of life in a galvanisedbody. And strange, too, it is to stand on Primrose Hill, asI did but a day before writing this last chapter, to see thegreat province of houses, dim and blue through the hazeof the smoke and mist, vanishing at last into the vaguelower sky, to see the people walking to and fro among theflower beds on the hill, to see the sight-seers about the Mar-tian machine that stands there still, to hear the tumult ofplaying children, and to recall the time when I saw it allbright and clear-cut, hard and silent, under the dawn ofthat last great day. . . .

And strangest of all is it to hold my wife's hand again,and to think that I have counted her, and that she hascounted me, among the dead.



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