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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 the

nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly

and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as

mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their

various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps

almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scru-

tinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a

drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and

fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their

assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the

infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave

a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human

danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life

upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall

some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most

terrestrial 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 that

are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish,

intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this

earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their

plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came

the 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 half

of that received by this world. It must be, if the nebular

hypothesis has any truth, older than our world; and long

before this earth ceased to be molten, life upon its surface

must have begun its course. The fact that it is scarcely

one seventh of the volume of the earth must have accelerated

its cooling to the temperature at which life could begin. It

has air and water and all that is necessary for the support of

animated existence.

Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no

writer, up to the very end of the nineteenth century, ex-

pressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed

there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level. Nor was

it generally understood that since Mars is older than our earth,

with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area and remoter

from the sun, it necessarily follows that it is not only more

distant from time's beginning but nearer its end.

The secular cooling that must someday overtake our planet

has already gone far indeed with our neighbour. Its physical

condition is still largely a mystery, but we know now that

even in its equatorial region the midday temperature barely

approaches that of our coldest winter. Its air is much more

attenuated than ours, its oceans have shrunk until they cover

but a third of its surface, and as its slow seasons change huge

snowcaps gather and melt about either pole and periodically

inundate 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 immediate

pressure of necessity has brightened their intellects, enlarged

their powers, and hardened their hearts. And looking across

space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have

scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only

35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope,

our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with

water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with

glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches

of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.

And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must

be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys

and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits

that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would

seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars.

Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is still

crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard

as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their

only 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 has

wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison

and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians,

in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of

existence in a war of extermination waged by European immi-

grants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of

mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same


The Martians seem to have calculated their descent with

amazing subtlety--their mathematical learning is evidently

far 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 trouble

far back in the nineteenth century. Men like Schiaparelli

watched the red planet--it is odd, by-the-bye, that for count-

less centuries Mars has been the star of war--but failed to

interpret the fluctuating appearances of the markings they

mapped so well. All that time the Martians must have been

getting ready.

During the opposition of 1894 a great light was seen on

the illuminated part of the disk, first at the Lick Observatory,

then by Perrotin of Nice, and then by other observers. English

readers heard of it first in the issue of NATURE dated August 2.

I am inclined to think that this blaze may have been the

casting of the huge gun, in the vast pit sunk into their planet,

from which their shots were fired at us. Peculiar markings, as

yet unexplained, were seen near the site of that outbreak

during the next two oppositions.

The storm burst upon us six years ago now. As Mars

approached opposition, Lavelle of Java set the wires of the

astronomical 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 the

spectroscope, to which he had at once resorted, indicated a

mass of flaming gas, chiefly hydrogen, moving with an

enormous velocity towards this earth. This jet of fire had

become invisible about a quarter past twelve. He compared

it to a colossal puff of flame suddenly and violently squirted

out of the planet, "as flaming gases rushed out of a gun."

A singularly appropriate phrase it proved. Yet the next day

there was nothing of this in the papers except a little note in

the DAILY TELEGRAPH, and the world went in ignorance of one

of the gravest dangers that ever threatened the human race.

I might not have heard of the eruption at all had I not met

Ogilvy, the well-known astronomer, at Ottershaw. He was

immensely excited at the news, and in the excess of his feel-

ings invited me up to take a turn with him that night in a

scrutiny of the red planet.

In spite of all that has happened since, I still remember

that vigil very distinctly: the black and silent observatory,

the shadowed lantern throwing a feeble glow upon the floor

in the corner, the steady ticking of the clockwork of the tele-

scope, the little slit in the roof--an oblong profundity with

the stardust streaked across it. Ogilvy moved about, invisible

but audible. Looking through the telescope, one saw a circle

of deep blue and the little round planet swimming in the

field. It seemed such a little thing, so bright and small and

still, faintly marked with transverse stripes, and slightly

flattened from the perfect round. But so little it was, so

silvery warm--a pin's-head of light! It was as if it quivered,

but really this was the telescope vibrating with the activity

of the clockwork that kept the planet in view.

As I watched, the planet seemed to grow larger and smaller

and to advance and recede, but that was simply that my eye

was tired. Forty millions of miles it was from us--more than

forty millions of miles of void. Few people realise the im-

mensity of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe


Near it in the field, I remember, were three faint points of

light, three telescopic stars infinitely remote, and all around

it was the unfathomable darkness of empty space. You know

how that blackness looks on a frosty starlight night. In a tele-

scope it seems far profounder. And invisible to me because

it was so remote and small, flying swiftly and steadily towards

me across that incredible distance, drawing nearer every min-

ute by so many thousands of miles, came the Thing they were

sending us, the Thing that was to bring so much struggle and

calamity and death to the earth. I never dreamed of it then

as I watched; no one on earth dreamed of that unerring


That night, too, there was another jetting out of gas from

the distant planet. I saw it. A reddish flash at the edge, the

slightest projection of the outline just as the chronometer

struck midnight; and at that I told Ogilvy and he took my

place. The night was warm and I was thirsty, and I went

stretching my legs clumsily and feeling my way in the dark-

ness, to the little table where the siphon stood, while Ogilvy

exclaimed at the streamer of gas that came out towards us.

That night another invisible missile started on its way to

the earth from Mars, just a second or so under twenty-four

hours after the first one. I remember how I sat on the table

there in the blackness, with patches of green and crimson

swimming before my eyes. I wished I had a light to smoke

by, little suspecting the meaning of the minute gleam I had

seen and all that it would presently bring me. Ogilvy watched

till one, and then gave it up; and we lit the lantern and

walked over to his house. Down below in the darkness were

Ottershaw and Chertsey and all their hundreds of people,

sleeping in peace.

He was full of speculation that night about the condition

of Mars, and scoffed at the vulgar idea of its having in-

habitants who were signalling us. His idea was that meteorites

might be falling in a heavy shower upon the planet, or that

a huge volcanic explosion was in progress. He pointed out

to me how unlikely it was that organic evolution had taken

the same direction in the two adjacent planets.

"The chances against anything manlike on Mars are a

million to one," he said.

Hundreds of observers saw the flame that night and the

night after about midnight, and again the night after; and

so for ten nights, a flame each night. Why the shots ceased

after 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 through

a powerful telescope on earth as little grey, fluctuating

patches, 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 at

last, and popular notes appeared here, there, and everywhere

concerning the volcanoes upon Mars. The seriocomic periodi-

cal PUNCH, I remember, made a happy use of it in the

political cartoon. And, all unsuspected, those missiles the

Martians had fired at us drew earthward, rushing now at a

pace of many miles a second through the empty gulf of

space, hour by hour and day by day, nearer and nearer. It

seems to me now almost incredibly wonderful that, with

that swift fate hanging over us, men could go about their

petty concerns as they did. I remember how jubilant Markham

was at securing a new photograph of the planet for the

illustrated paper he edited in those days. People in these

latter times scarcely realise the abundance and enterprise

of our nineteenth-century papers. For my own part, I was

much occupied in learning to ride the bicycle, and busy

upon a series of papers discussing the probable developments

of moral ideas as civilisation progressed.

One night (the first missile then could scarcely have been

10,000,000 miles away) I went for a walk with my wife. It

was starlight and I explained the Signs of the Zodiac to

her, and pointed out Mars, a bright dot of light creeping

zenithward, towards which so many telescopes were pointed.

It was a warm night. Coming home, a party of excursionists

from Chertsey or Isleworth passed us singing and playing

music. There were lights in the upper windows of the houses

as the people went to bed. From the railway station in the

distance came the sound of shunting trains, ringing and

rumbling, softened almost into melody by the distance. My

wife pointed out to me the brightness of the red, green, and

yellow 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 seen

early in the morning, rushing over Winchester eastward, a

line of flame high in the atmosphere. Hundreds must have

seen it, and taken it for an ordinary falling star. Albin de-

scribed it as leaving a greenish streak behind it that glowed

for some seconds. Denning, our greatest authority on meteor-

ites, stated that the height of its first appearance was about

ninety or one hundred miles. It seemed to him that it fell

to earth about one hundred miles east of him.

I was at home at that hour and writing in my study; and

although my French windows face towards Ottershaw and

the blind was up (for I loved in those days to look up at

the night sky), I saw nothing of it. Yet this strangest of all

things that ever came to earth from outer space must have

fallen while I was sitting there, visible to me had I only

looked up as it passed. Some of those who saw its flight say

it travelled with a hissing sound. I myself heard nothing

of that. Many people in Berkshire, Surrey, and Middlesex

must have seen the fall of it, and, at most, have thought

that another meteorite had descended. No one seems to have

troubled to look for the fallen mass that night.

But very early in the morning poor Ogilvy, who had seen

the shooting star and who was persuaded that a meteorite lay

somewhere on the common between Horsell, Ottershaw, and

Woking, rose early with the idea of finding it. Find it he did,

soon after dawn, and not far from the sand pits. An enormous

hole had been made by the impact of the projectile, and the

sand and gravel had been flung violently in every direction

over the heath, forming heaps visible a mile and a half away.

The heather was on fire eastward, and a thin blue smoke

rose against the dawn.

The Thing itself lay almost entirely buried in sand, amidst

the scattered splinters of a fir tree it had shivered to frag-

ments in its descent. The uncovered part had the appearance

of a huge cylinder, caked over and its outline softened by a

thick scaly dun-coloured incrustation. It had a diameter of

about thirty yards. He approached the mass, surprised at

the size and more so at the shape, since most meteorites

are rounded more or less completely. It was, however, still

so hot from its flight through the air as to forbid his near

approach. A stirring noise within its cylinder he ascribed to

the unequal cooling of its surface; for at that time it had

not occurred to him that it might be hollow.

He remained standing at the edge of the pit that the

Thing had made for itself, staring at its strange appearance,

astonished chiefly at its unusual shape and colour, and

dimly perceiving even then some evidence of design in its

arrival. The early morning was wonderfully still, and the sun,

just clearing the pine trees towards Weybridge, was already

warm. He did not remember hearing any birds that morning,

there was certainly no breeze stirring, and the only sounds

were 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 the

grey clinker, the ashy incrustation that covered the meteorite,

was falling off the circular edge of the end. It was dropping

off in flakes and raining down upon the sand. A large piece

suddenly came off and fell with a sharp noise that brought

his heart into his mouth.

For a minute he scarcely realised what this meant, and,

although the heat was excessive, he clambered down into

the pit close to the bulk to see the Thing more clearly. He

fancied even then that the cooling of the body might account

for this, but what disturbed that idea was the fact that the

ash was falling only from the end of the cylinder.

And then he perceived that, very slowly, the circular top

of the cylinder was rotating on its body. It was such a

gradual movement that he discovered it only through noticing

that a black mark that had been near him five minutes ago

was now at the other side of the circumference. Even then

he scarcely understood what this indicated, until he heard a

muffled grating sound and saw the black mark jerk forward

an inch or so. Then the thing came upon him in a flash. The

cylinder was artificial--hollow--with an end that screwed

out! Something within the cylinder was unscrewing the top!

"Good heavens!" said Ogilvy. "There's a man in it--men

in it! Half roasted to death! Trying to escape!"

At once, with a quick mental leap, he linked the Thing

with the flash upon Mars.

The thought of the confined creature was so dreadful to

him that he forgot the heat and went forward to the cylinder

to help turn. But luckily the dull radiation arrested him before

he could burn his hands on the still-glowing metal. At that

he stood irresolute for a moment, then turned, scrambled out

of the pit, and set off running wildly into Woking. The time

then must have been somewhere about six o'clock. He met a

waggoner and tried to make him understand, but the tale

he told and his appearance were so wild--his hat had fallen

off in the pit--that the man simply drove on. He was equally

unsuccessful with the potman who was just unlocking the

doors of the public-house by Horsell Bridge. The fellow

thought he was a lunatic at large and made an unsuccessful

attempt to shut him into the taproom. That sobered him a

little; and when he saw Henderson, the London journalist,

in his garden, he called over the palings and made himself


"Henderson," he called, "you saw that shooting star last


"Well?" said Henderson.

"It's out on Horsell Common now."

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


"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 a

minute or so taking it in. Then he dropped his spade, snatched

up his jacket, and came out into the road. The two men

hurried back at once to the common, and found the cylinder

still lying in the same position. But now the sounds inside

had ceased, and a thin circle of bright metal showed between

the top and the body of the cylinder. Air was either entering

or escaping at the rim with a thin, sizzling sound.

They listened, rapped on the scaly burnt metal with a

stick, and, meeting with no response, they both concluded

the man or men inside must be insensible or dead.

Of course the two were quite unable to do anything. They

shouted consolation and promises, and went off back to the

town again to get help. One can imagine them, covered

with sand, excited and disordered, running up the little

street in the bright sunlight just as the shop folks were

taking down their shutters and people were opening their

bedroom windows. Henderson went into the railway station

at once, in order to telegraph the news to London. The

newspaper articles had prepared men's minds for the re-

ception of the idea.

By eight o'clock a number of boys and unemployed men

had already started for the common to see the "dead men from

Mars." That was the form the story took. I heard of it first

from my newspaper boy about a quarter to nine when I went out

to get my DAILY CHRONICLE. I was naturally startled, and

lost no time in going out and across the Ottershaw bridge

to the sand pits.










I found a little crowd of perhaps twenty people sur-

rounding the huge hole in which the cylinder lay. I have

already described the appearance of that colossal bulk, em-

bedded in the ground. The turf and gravel about it seemed

charred as if by a sudden explosion. No doubt its impact

had caused a flash of fire. Henderson and Ogilvy were not

there. I think they perceived that nothing was to be done for

the present, and had gone away to breakfast at Henderson's


There were four or five boys sitting on the edge of the

Pit, with their feet dangling, and amusing themselves--until

I 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 gardener

I employed sometimes, a girl carrying a baby, Gregg the

butcher and his little boy, and two or three loafers and golf

caddies who were accustomed to hang about the railway

station. There was very little talking. Few of the common

people in England had anything but the vaguest astronomical

ideas in those days. Most of them were staring quietly at

the big tablelike end of the cylinder, which was still as

Ogilvy and Henderson had left it. I fancy the popular ex-

pectation of a heap of charred corpses was disappointed at

this inanimate bulk. Some went away while I was there, and

other people came. I clambered into the pit and fancied I

heard a faint movement under my feet. The top had certainly

ceased to rotate.

It was only when I got thus close to it that the strangeness

of this object was at all evident to me. At the first glance

it was really no more exciting than an overturned carriage

or a tree blown across the road. Not so much so, indeed. It

looked like a rusty gas float. It required a certain amount of

scientific education to perceive that the grey scale of the

Thing was no common oxide, that the yellowish-white metal

that gleamed in the crack between the lid and the cylinder

had an unfamiliar hue. "Extra-terrestrial" had no meaning for

most of the onlookers.

At that time it was quite clear in my own mind that the

Thing had come from the planet Mars, but I judged it

improbable that it contained any living creature. I thought

the unscrewing might be automatic. In spite of Ogilvy, I

still believed that there were men in Mars. My mind ran

fancifully on the possibilities of its containing manuscript,

on the difficulties in translation that might arise, whether

we should find coins and models in it, and so forth. Yet it

was a little too large for assurance on this idea. I felt an

impatience to see it opened. About eleven, as nothing

seemed happening, I walked back, full of such thought, to

my home in Maybury. But I found it difficult to get to work

upon my abstract investigations.

In the afternoon the appearance of the common had altered

very much. The early editions of the evening papers had

startled London with enormous headlines:




and so forth. In addition, Ogilvy's wire to the Astronomical

Exchange had roused every observatory in the three kingdoms.

There were half a dozen flies or more from the Woking

station standing in the road by the sand pits, a basket-

chaise from Chobham, and a rather lordly carriage. Besides

that, there was quite a heap of bicycles. In addition, a

large number of people must have walked, in spite of the

heat of the day, from Woking and Chertsey, so that there was

altogether quite a considerable crowd--one or two gaily

dressed ladies among the others.

It was glaringly hot, not a cloud in the sky nor a breath

of wind, and the only shadow was that of the few scattered

pine trees. The burning heather had been extinguished, but

the level ground towards Ottershaw was blackened as far as

one could see, and still giving off vertical streamers of

smoke. An enterprising sweet-stuff dealer in the Chobham

Road had sent up his son with a barrow-load of green

apples and ginger beer.

Going to the edge of the pit, I found it occupied by a

group of about half a dozen men--Henderson, Ogilvy, and

a tall, fair-haired man that I afterwards learned was Stent,

the Astronomer Royal, with several workmen wielding spades

and pickaxes. Stent was giving directions in a clear, high-

pitched voice. He was standing on the cylinder, which was

now evidently much cooler; his face was crimson and stream-

ing with perspiration, and something seemed to have irritated


A large portion of the cylinder had been uncovered,

though its lower end was still embedded. As soon as Ogilvy

saw me among the staring crowd on the edge of the pit

he called to me to come down, and asked me if I would

mind going over to see Lord Hilton, the lord of the manor.

The growing crowd, he said, was becoming a serious

impediment to their excavations, especially the boys. They

wanted a light railing put up, and help to keep the people

back. He told me that a faint stirring was occasionally still

audible within the case, but that the workmen had failed

to unscrew the top, as it afforded no grip to them. The

case appeared to be enormously thick, and it was possible

that the faint sounds we heard represented a noisy tumult

in the interior.

I was very glad to do as he asked, and so become one of

the privileged spectators within the contemplated enclosure.

I failed to find Lord Hilton at his house, but I was told

he was expected from London by the six o'clock train from

Waterloo; and as it was then about a quarter past five, I

went home, had some tea, and walked up to the station

to 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 about

the pit had increased, and stood out black against the lemon

yellow of the sky--a couple of hundred people, perhaps.

There were raised voices, and some sort of struggle appeared

to be going on about the pit. Strange imaginings passed

through 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' and

a-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 the

least 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. We

don't know what's in the confounded thing, you know!"

I saw a young man, a shop assistant in Woking I believe

he was, standing on the cylinder and trying to scramble out

of 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 onto

the top of the screw. I turned, and as I did so the screw must

have come out, for the lid of the cylinder fell upon the gravel

with a ringing concussion. I stuck my elbow into the person

behind 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--possibly

something 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 the

thickness of a walking stick, coiled up out of the writhing

middle, and wriggled in the air towards me--and then


A sudden chill came over me. There was a loud shriek

from a woman behind. I half turned, keeping my eyes fixed

upon the cylinder still, from which other tentacles were now

projecting, and began pushing my way back from the edge

of the pit. I saw astonishment giving place to horror on the

faces 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. I

found myself alone, and saw the people on the other side of

the pit running off, Stent among them. I looked again at the

cylinder, 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. As

it bulged up and caught the light, it glistened like wet


Two large dark-coloured eyes were regarding me stead-

fastly. The mass that framed them, the head of the thing, was

rounded, and had, one might say, a face. There was a mouth

under the eyes, the lipless brim of which quivered and

panted, and dropped saliva. The whole creature heaved and

pulsated convulsively. A lank tentacular appendage gripped

the edge of the cylinder, another swayed in the air.

Those who have never seen a living Martian can scarcely

imagine the strange horror of its appearance. The peculiar

V-shaped mouth with its pointed upper lip, the absence of

brow ridges, the absence of a chin beneath the wedgelike

lower lip, the incessant quivering of this mouth, the Gorgon

groups of tentacles, the tumultuous breathing of the lungs in

a strange atmosphere, the evident heaviness and painfulness

of movement due to the greater gravitational energy of the

earth--above all, the extraordinary intensity of the immense

eyes--were at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and

monstrous. There was something fungoid in the oily brown

skin, 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 and


Suddenly the monster vanished. It had toppled over the

brim of the cylinder and fallen into the pit, with a thud like

the fall of a great mass of leather. I heard it give a peculiar

thick cry, and forthwith another of these creatures appeared

darkly in the deep shadow of the aperture.

I turned and, running madly, made for the first group of

trees, perhaps a hundred yards away; but I ran slantingly

and stumbling, for I could not avert my face from these


There, among some young pine trees and furze bushes, I

stopped, panting, and waited further developments. The

common round the sand pits was dotted with people, stand-

ing like myself in a half-fascinated terror, staring at these

creatures, or rather at the heaped gravel at the edge of the pit

in which they lay. And then, with a renewed horror, I saw a

round, black object bobbing up and down on the edge of the

pit. It was the head of the shopman who had fallen in, but

showing as a little black object against the hot western sun.

Now he got his shoulder and knee up, and again he seemed

to slip back until only his head was visible. Suddenly he van-

ished, and I could have fancied a faint shriek had reached

me. I had a momentary impulse to go back and help him

that my fears overruled.

Everything was then quite invisible, hidden by the deep

pit and the heap of sand that the fall of the cylinder had

made. 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 a

great irregular circle, in ditches, behind bushes, behind gates

and hedges, saying little to one another and that in short,

excited shouts, and staring, staring hard at a few heaps of

sand. The barrow of ginger beer stood, a queer derelict, black

against the burning sky, and in the sand pits was a row of

deserted vehicles with their horses feeding out of nosebags

or pawing the ground.







After the glimpse I had had of the Martians emerging

from the cylinder in which they had come to the earth from

their planet, a kind of fascination paralysed my actions. I

remained standing knee-deep in the heather, staring at the

mound that hid them. I was a battleground of fear and


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, in

a big curve, seeking some point of vantage and continually

looking at the sand heaps that hid these new-comers to our

earth. Once a leash of thin black whips, like the arms of an

octopus, 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 wobbling

motion. 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 of

people in the direction of Chobham. Evidently they shared

my mental conflict. There were few near me. One man I

approached--he was, I perceived, a neighbour of mine,

though I did not know his name--and accosted. But it was

scarcely a time for articulate conversation.

"What ugly brutes!" he said. "Good God! What ugly

brutes!" He repeated this over and over again.

"Did you see a man in the pit?" I said; but he made no

answer to that. We became silent, and stood watching for a

time side by side, deriving, I fancy, a certain comfort in one

another's company. Then I shifted my position to a little

knoll that gave me the advantage of a yard or more of eleva-

tion and when I looked for him presently he was walking

towards 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. There

was 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 to

restore 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 black

figures in twos and threes would advance, stop, watch,

and advance again, spreading out as they did so in a thin

irregular crescent that promised to enclose the pit in its

attenuated horns. I, too, on my side began to move towards

the pit.

Then I saw some cabmen and others had walked boldly

into the sand pits, and heard the clatter of hoofs and the

gride of wheels. I saw a lad trundling off the barrow of

apples. And then, within thirty yards of the pit, advancing

from the direction of Horsell, I noted a little black knot of

men, 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 their

repulsive forms, intelligent creatures, it had been resolved to

show them, by approaching them with signals, that we too

were intelligent.

Flutter, flutter, went the flag, first to the right, then to

the left. It was too far for me to recognise anyone there, but

afterwards I learned that Ogilvy, Stent, and Henderson were

with others in this attempt at communication. This little

group had in its advance dragged inward, so to speak, the

circumference of the now almost complete circle of people,

and a number of dim black figures followed it at discreet


Suddenly there was a flash of light, and a quantity of

luminous greenish smoke came out of the pit in three distinct

puffs, which drove up, one after the other, straight into the

still air.

This smoke (or flame, perhaps, would be the better word

for it) was so bright that the deep blue sky overhead and the

hazy stretches of brown common towards Chertsey, set with

black pine trees, seemed to darken abruptly as these puffs

arose, and to remain the darker after their dispersal. At the

same time a faint hissing sound became audible.

Beyond the pit stood the little wedge of people with the

white flag at its apex, arrested by these phenomena, a little

knot 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 passed

into a humming, into a long, loud, droning noise. Slowly a

humped shape rose out of the pit, and the ghost of a beam

of light seemed to flicker out from it.

Forthwith flashes of actual flame, a bright glare leaping

from one to another, sprang from the scattered group of men.

It was as if some invisible jet impinged upon them and

flashed into white flame. It was as if each man were suddenly

and momentarily turned to fire.

Then, by the light of their own destruction, I saw them

staggering and falling, and their supporters turning to


I stood staring, not as yet realising that this was death

leaping from man to man in that little distant crowd. All I

felt was that it was something very strange. An almost noise-

less and blinding flash of light, and a man fell headlong and

lay still; and as the unseen shaft of heat passed over them,

pine trees burst into fire, and every dry furze bush became

with one dull thud a mass of flames. And far away towards

Knaphill I saw the flashes of trees and hedges and wooden

buildings suddenly set alight.

It was sweeping round swiftly and steadily, this flaming

death, this invisible, inevitable sword of heat. I perceived it

coming towards me by the flashing bushes it touched, and

was too astounded and stupefied to stir. I heard the crackle

of fire in the sand pits and the sudden squeal of a horse that

was as suddenly stilled. Then it was as if an invisible yet

intensely heated finger were drawn through the heather

between me and the Martians, and all along a curving line

beyond the sand pits the dark ground smoked and crackled.

Something fell with a crash far away to the left where the

road 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 stood

motionless, dumbfounded and dazzled by the flashes of light.

Had that death swept through a full circle, it must inevitably

have slain me in my surprise. But it passed and spared me,

and left the night about me suddenly dark and un-


The undulating common seemed now dark almost to

blackness, except where its roadways lay grey and pale under

the deep blue sky of the early night. It was dark, and sud-

denly void of men. Overhead the stars were mustering, and

in the west the sky was still a pale, bright, almost greenish

blue. The tops of the pine trees and the roofs of Horsell came

out sharp and black against the western afterglow. The Mar-

tians and their appliances were altogether invisible, save for

that thin mast upon which their restless mirror wobbled.

Patches of bush and isolated trees here and there smoked and

glowed still, and the houses towards Woking station were

sending up spires of flame into the stillness of the evening


Nothing was changed save for that and a terrible astonish-

ment. The little group of black specks with the flag of white

had been swept out of existence, and the stillness of the

evening, 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 upon

me from without, came--fear.

With an effort I turned and began a stumbling run through

the heather.

The fear I felt was no rational fear, but a panic terror not

only of the Martians, but of the dusk and stillness all about

me. Such an extraordinary effect in unmanning me it had

that I ran weeping silently as a child might do. Once I had

turned, I did not dare to look back.

I remember I felt an extraordinary persuasion that I was

being played with, that presently, when I was upon the very

verge of safety, this mysterious death--as swift as the passage

of light--would leap after me from the pit about the cylinder

and strike me down.










It is still a matter of wonder how the Martians are able

to slay men so swiftly and so silently. Many think that in

some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a

chamber of practically absolute non-conductivity. This intense

heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they

choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown

composition, much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouse

projects a beam of light. But no one has absolutely proved

these details. However it is done, it is certain that a beam of

heat is the essence of the matter. Heat, and invisible, instead

of visible, light. Whatever is combustible flashes into flame

at its touch, lead runs like water, it softens iron, cracks and

melts glass, and when it falls upon water, incontinently that

explodes into steam.

That night nearly forty people lay under the starlight about

the pit, charred and distorted beyond recognition, and all

night long the common from Horsell to Maybury was deserted

and brightly ablaze.

The news of the massacre probably reached Chobham,

Woking, and Ottershaw about the same time. In Woking the

shops had closed when the tragedy happened, and a number

of people, shop people and so forth, attracted by the stories

they had heard, were walking over the Horsell Bridge and

along the road between the hedges that runs out at last upon

the common. You may imagine the young people brushed up

after the labours of the day, and making this novelty, as they

would make any novelty, the excuse for walking together and

enjoying a trivial flirtation. You may figure to yourself the

hum of voices along the road in the gloaming. . . .

As yet, of course, few people in Woking even knew that

the cylinder had opened, though poor Henderson had sent a

messenger on a bicycle to the post office with a special wire

to an evening paper.

As these folks came out by twos and threes upon the open,

they found little knots of people talking excitedly and peering

at the spinning mirror over the sand pits, and the new-comers

were, no doubt, soon infected by the excitement of the oc-


By half past eight, when the Deputation was destroyed,

there may have been a crowd of three hundred people or

more at this place, besides those who had left the road to

approach the Martians nearer. There were three policemen

too, one of whom was mounted, doing their best, under

instructions from Stent, to keep the people back and deter

them from approaching the cylinder. There was some booing

from those more thoughtless and excitable souls to whom a

crowd is always an occasion for noise and horse-play.

Stent and Ogilvy, anticipating some possibilities of a

collision, had telegraphed from Horsell to the barracks as

soon as the Martians emerged, for the help of a company of

soldiers to protect these strange creatures from violence.

After that they returned to lead that ill-fated advance. The

description of their death, as it was seen by the crowd, tallies

very closely with my own impressions: the three puffs of

green smoke, the deep humming note, and the flashes of


But that crowd of people had a far narrower escape than

mine. Only the fact that a hummock of heathery sand inter-

cepted the lower part of the Heat-Ray saved them. Had the

elevation of the parabolic mirror been a few yards higher,

none could have lived to tell the tale. They saw the flashes

and the men falling and an invisible hand, as it were, lit the

bushes 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 of

the 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 the

house nearest the corner.

In the sudden thud, hiss, and glare of the igniting trees,

the panic-stricken crowd seems to have swayed hesitatingly

for some moments. Sparks and burning twigs began to fall

into the road, and single leaves like puffs of flame. Hats and

dresses caught fire. Then came a crying from the common.

There were shrieks and shouts, and suddenly a mounted

policeman came galloping through the confusion with his

hands clasped over his head, screaming.

"They're coming!" a woman shrieked, and incontinently

everyone was turning and pushing at those behind, in order

to clear their way to Woking again. They must have bolted

as blindly as a flock of sheep. Where the road grows narrow

and black between the high banks the crowd jammed, and a

desperate struggle occurred. All that crowd did not escape;

three persons at least, two women and a little boy, were

crushed and trampled there, and left to die amid the terror

and the darkness.








For my own part, I remember nothing of my flight

except the stress of blundering against trees and stumbling

through the heather. All about me gathered the invisible

terrors of the Martians; that pitiless sword of heat seemed

whirling to and fro, flourishing overhead before it descended

and smote me out of life. I came into the road between the

crossroads and Horsell, and ran along this to the crossroads.

At last I could go no further; I was exhausted with the

violence of my emotion and of my flight, and I staggered and

fell by the wayside. That was near the bridge that crosses

the 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, I

could not clearly understand how I came there. My terror

had fallen from me like a garment. My hat had gone, and

my collar had burst away from its fastener. A few minutes

before, there had only been three real things before me--the

immensity of the night and space and nature, my own feeble-

ness and anguish, and the near approach of death. Now it

was as if something turned over, and the point of view altered

abruptly. There was no sensible transition from one state of

mind to the other. I was immediately the self of every day

again--a decent, ordinary citizen. The silent common, the

impulse of my flight, the starting flames, were as if they had

been in a dream. I asked myself had these latter things indeed

happened? I could not credit it.

I rose and walked unsteadily up the steep incline of the

bridge. My mind was blank wonder. My muscles and nerves

seemed drained of their strength. I dare say I staggered

drunkenly. A head rose over the arch, and the figure of a

workman carrying a basket appeared. Beside him ran a little

boy. He passed me, wishing me good night. I was minded to

speak to him, but did not. I answered his greeting with a

meaningless mumble and went on over the bridge.

Over the Maybury arch a train, a billowing tumult of

white, 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 houses

in the pretty little row of gables that was called Oriental

Terrace. It was all so real and so familiar. And that behind

me! It was frantic, fantastic! Such things, I told myself,

could not be.

Perhaps I am a man of exceptional moods. I do not know

how far my experience is common. At times I suffer from the

strangest sense of detachment from myself and the world

about me; I seem to watch it all from the outside, from some-

where inconceivably remote, out of time, out of space, out

of the stress and tragedy of it all. This feeling was very

strong upon me that night. Here was another side to my


But the trouble was the blank incongruity of this serenity

and the swift death flying yonder, not two miles away. There

was a noise of business from the gasworks, and the electric

lamps 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 woman

over the gate. "What's it all abart?"

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

creatures 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 tell

them what I had seen. They laughed again at my broken


"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 went

into the dining room, sat down, drank some wine, and so

soon as I could collect myself sufficiently I told her the things

I had seen. The dinner, which was a cold one, had already

been served, and remained neglected on the table while I

told my story.

"There is one thing," I said, to allay the fears I had

aroused; "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 putting

her hand on mine.

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


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 that

Ogilvy had told me of the impossibility of the Martians estab-

lishing themselves on the earth. In particular I laid stress on

the gravitational difficulty. On the surface of the earth the

force of gravity is three times what it is on the surface of

Mars. A Martian, therefore, would weigh three times more

than 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 DAILY

TELEGRAPH, for instance, insisted on it the next morning, and

both overlooked, just as I did, two obvious modifying influ-


The atmosphere of the earth, we now know, contains far

more oxygen or far less argon (whichever way one likes to

put it) than does Mars. The invigorating influences of this

excess of oxygen upon the Martians indisputably did much

to counterbalance the increased weight of their bodies. And,

in the second place, we all overlooked the fact that such

mechanical intelligence as the Martian possessed was quite

able to dispense with muscular exertion at a pinch.

But I did not consider these points at the time, and so my

reasoning was dead against the chances of the invaders.

With wine and food, the confidence of my own table, and

the necessity of reassuring my wife, I grew by insensible

degrees courageous and secure.

"They have done a foolish thing," said I, fingering my

wineglass. "They are dangerous because, no doubt, they are

mad with terror. Perhaps they expected to find no living

things--certainly no intelligent living things.

"A shell in the pit" said I, "if the worst comes to the worst

will kill them all."

The intense excitement of the events had no doubt left my

perceptive powers in a state of erethism. I remember that

dinner table with extraordinary vividness even now. My dear

wife's sweet anxious face peering at me from under the pink

lamp shade, the white cloth with its silver and glass table

furniture--for in those days even philosophical writers had

many 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, and

denouncing the shortsighted timidity of the Martians.

So some respectable dodo in the Mauritius might have

lorded it in his nest, and discussed the arrival of that shipful

of pitiless sailors in want of animal food. "We will peck them

to death tomorrow, my dear."

I did not know it, but that was the last civilised dinner

I was to eat for very many strange and terrible days.








The most extraordinary thing to my mind, of all the

strange and wonderful things that happened upon that

Friday, was the dovetailing of the commonplace habits of

our social order with the first beginnings of the series of

events that was to topple that social order headlong. If on

Friday night you had taken a pair of compasses and drawn a

circle 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 four

cyclists or London people lying dead on the common, whose

emotions or habits were at all affected by the new-comers.

Many people had heard of the cylinder, of course, and talked

about it in their leisure, but it certainly did not make the

sensation that an ultimatum to Germany would have done.

In London that night poor Henderson's telegram describing

the gradual unscrewing of the shot was judged to be a canard,

and his evening paper, after wiring for authentication from

him and receiving no reply--the man was killed--decided

not to print a special edition.

Even within the five-mile circle the great majority of people

were inert. I have already described the behaviour of the men

and women to whom I spoke. All over the district people

were dining and supping; working men were gardening after

the labours of the day, children were being put to bed, young

people were wandering through the lanes love-making, stu-

dents sat over their books.

Maybe there was a murmur in the village streets, a novel

and dominant topic in the public-houses, and here and there

a messenger, or even an eye-witness of the later occurrences,

caused a whirl of excitement, a shouting, and a running to

and 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 was

the case.

In Woking junction, until a late hour, trains were stopping

and going on, others were shunting on the sidings, passengers

were alighting and waiting, and everything was proceeding

in the most ordinary way. A boy from the town, trenching

on Smith's monopoly, was selling papers with the afternoon's

news. The ringing impact of trucks, the sharp whistle of the

engines from the junction, mingled with their shouts of

"Men from Mars!" Excited men came into the station about

nine o'clock with incredible tidings, and caused no more

disturbance than drunkards might have done. People rattling

Londonwards peered into the darkness outside the carriage

windows, and saw only a rare, flickering, vanishing spark

dance up from the direction of Horsell, a red glow and a

thin veil of smoke driving across the stars, and thought that

nothing more serious than a heath fire was happening. It was

only round the edge of the common that any disturbance

was perceptible. There were half a dozen villas burning on

the Woking border. There were lights in all the houses on the

common side of the three villages, and the people there kept

awake till dawn.

A curious crowd lingered restlessly, people coming and

going but the crowd remaining, both on the Chobham and

Horsell bridges. One or two adventurous souls, it was after-

wards found, went into the darkness and crawled quite near

the Martians; but they never returned, for now and again a

light-ray, like the beam of a warship's searchlight swept the

common, and the Heat-Ray was ready to follow. Save for

such, that big area of common was silent and desolate, and

the charred bodies lay about on it all night under the stars,

and all the next day. A noise of hammering from the pit was

heard by many people.

So you have the state of things on Friday night. In the

centre, sticking into the skin of our old planet Earth like a

poisoned dart, was this cylinder. But the poison was scarcely

working yet. Around it was a patch of silent common,

smouldering in places, and with a few dark, dimly seen

objects lying in contorted attitudes here and there. Here and

there was a burning bush or tree. Beyond was a fringe of

excitement, and farther than that fringe the inflammation

had not crept as yet. In the rest of the world the stream of

life still flowed as it had flowed for immemorial years. The

fever of war that would presently clog vein and artery, deaden

nerve and destroy brain, had still to develop.

All night long the Martians were hammering and stirring,

sleepless, indefatigable, at work upon the machines they

were 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 a

cordon. Later a second company marched through Chobham

to deploy on the north side of the common. Several officers

from the Inkerman barracks had been on the common earlier

in the day, and one, Major Eden, was reported to be missing.

The colonel of the regiment came to the Chobham bridge

and was busy questioning the crowd at midnight. The military

authorities were certainly alive to the seriousness of the busi-

ness. About eleven, the next morning's papers were able to

say, a squadron of hussars, two Maxims, and about four

hundred men of the Cardigan regiment started from Aldershot.

A few seconds after midnight the crowd in the Chertsey

road, Woking, saw a star fall from heaven into the pine

woods to the northwest. It had a greenish colour, and caused

a silent brightness like summer lightning. This was the second









Saturday lives in my memory as a day of suspense. It

was a day of lassitude too, hot and close, with, I am told, a

rapidly fluctuating barometer. I had slept but little, though

my wife had succeeded in sleeping, and I rose early. I went

into my garden before breakfast and stood listening, but

towards the common there was nothing stirring but a lark.

The milkman came as usual. I heard the rattle of his

chariot and I went round to the side gate to ask the latest

news. He told me that during the night the Martians had

been surrounded by troops, and that guns were expected.

Then--a familiar, reassuring note--I heard a train running

towards Woking.

"They aren't to be killed," said the milkman, "if that can

possibly be avoided."

I saw my neighbour gardening, chatted with him for a

time, and then strolled in to breakfast. It was a most un-

exceptional morning. My neighbour was of opinion that the

troops would be able to capture or to destroy the Martians

during the day.

"It's a pity they make themselves so unapproachable," he

said. "It would be curious to know how they live on another

planet; 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 pine

woods about the Byfleet Golf Links.

"They say," said he, "that there's another of those blessed

things fallen there--number two. But one's enough, surely.

This lot'll cost the insurance people a pretty penny before

everything's settled." He laughed with an air of the greatest

good humour as he said this. The woods, he said, were still

burning, and pointed out a haze of smoke to me. "They will

be hot under foot for days, on account of the thick soil of

pine needles and turf," he said, and then grew serious over

"poor Ogilvy."

After breakfast, instead of working, I decided to walk

down towards the common. Under the railway bridge I found

a group of soldiers--sappers, I think, men in small round

caps, dirty red jackets unbuttoned, and showing their blue

shirts, dark trousers, and boots coming to the calf. They told

me no one was allowed over the canal, and, looking along the

road towards the bridge, I saw one of the Cardigan men

standing sentinel there. I talked with these soldiers for a

time; I told them of my sight of the Martians on the previous

evening. None of them had seen the Martians, and they had

but the vaguest ideas of them, so that they plied me with

questions. They said that they did not know who had

authorised the movements of the troops; their idea was that

a dispute had arisen at the Horse Guards. The ordinary

sapper is a great deal better educated than the common

soldier, and they discussed the peculiar conditions of the

possible fight with some acuteness. I described the Heat-Ray

to 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 near

as the ground'll let us, and then drive a trench."

"Blow yer trenches! You always want trenches; you ought

to 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 about

fishers of men--fighters of fish it is this time!"

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


"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't

no 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 went

on to the railway station to get as many morning papers as

I could.

But I will not weary the reader with a description of that

long morning and of the longer afternoon. I did not succeed

in getting a glimpse of the common, for even Horsell and

Chobham church towers were in the hands of the military

authorities. The soldiers I addressed didn't know anything;

the officers were mysterious as well as busy. I found people

in 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 soldiers

had made the people on the outskirts of Horsell lock up and

leave their houses.

I got back to lunch about two, very tired for, as I have

said, the day was extremely hot and dull; and in order to

refresh myself I took a cold bath in the afternoon. About half

past four I went up to the railway station to get an evening

paper, for the morning papers had contained only a very

inaccurate 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. They

seemed busy in their pit, and there was a sound of hammering

and an almost continuous streamer of smoke. Apparently they

were busy getting ready for a struggle. "Fresh attempts have

been made to signal, but without success," was the stereo-

typed formula of the papers. A sapper told me it was done by

a man in a ditch with a flag on a long pole. The Martians

took as much notice of such advances as we should of the

lowing of a cow.

I must confess the sight of all this armament, all this

preparation, 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 heroism

came 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 at

measured intervals from Chertsey or Addlestone. I learned

that the smouldering pine wood into which the second cylin-

der had fallen was being shelled, in the hope of destroying

that object before it opened. It was only about five, however,

that a field gun reached Chobham for use against the first

body of Martians.

About six in the evening, as I sat at tea with my wife in

the summerhouse talking vigorously about the battle that was

lowering upon us, I heard a muffled detonation from the

common, and immediately after a gust of firing. Close on

the heels of that came a violent rattling crash, quite close

to us, that shook the ground; and, starting out upon the lawn,

I saw the tops of the trees about the Oriental College burst

into smoky red flame, and the tower of the little church beside

it slide down into ruin. The pinnacle of the mosque had

vanished, and the roof line of the college itself looked as if

a hundred-ton gun had been at work upon it. One of our

chimneys cracked as if a shot had hit it, flew, and a piece

of it came clattering down the tiles and made a heap of

broken red fragments upon the flower bed by my study


I and my wife stood amazed. Then I realised that the crest

of 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 ceremony

ran her out into the road. Then I fetched out the servant,

telling her I would go upstairs myself for the box she was

clamouring for.

"We can't possibly stay here," I said; and as I spoke the

firing 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 at


"Leatherhead!" I shouted above the sudden noise.

She looked away from me downhill. The people were

coming 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 the

railway bridge; three galloped through the open gates of

the Oriental College; two others dismounted, and began

running from house to house. The sun, shining through the

smoke that drove up from the tops of the trees, seemed blood

red, and threw an unfamiliar lurid light upon everything.

"Stop here," said I; "you are safe here"; and I started off

at once for the Spotted Dog, for I knew the landlord had a

horse and dog cart. I ran, for I perceived that in a moment

everyone upon this side of the hill would be moving. I found

him in his bar, quite unaware of what was going on behind

his house. A man stood with his back to me, talking to him.

"I must have a pound," said the landlord, "and I've no

one 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 selling

my bit of a pig. Two pounds, and you bring it back? What's

going on now?"

I explained hastily that I had to leave my home, and so

secured the dog cart. At the time it did not seem to me nearly

so urgent that the landlord should leave his. I took care to

have the cart there and then, drove it off down the road, and,

leaving it in charge of my wife and servant, rushed into my

house and packed a few valuables, such plate as we had, and

so forth. The beech trees below the house were burning while

I did this, and the palings up the road glowed red. While I

was occupied in this way, one of the dismounted hussars came

running up. He was going from house to house, warning peo-

ple to leave. He was going on as I came out of my front

door, lugging my treasures, done up in a tablecloth. I shouted

after him:

"What news?"

He turned, stared, bawled something about "crawling out

in a thing like a dish cover," and ran on to the gate of the

house at the crest. A sudden whirl of black smoke driving

across the road hid him for a moment. I ran to my neighbour's

door and rapped to satisfy myself of what I already knew, that

his wife had gone to London with him and had locked up

their house. I went in again, according to my promise, to get

my servant's box, lugged it out, clapped it beside her on the

tail of the dog cart, and then caught the reins and jumped

up into the driver's seat beside my wife. In another moment

we were clear of the smoke and noise, and spanking down the

opposite slope of Maybury Hill towards Old Woking.

In front was a quiet sunny landscape, a wheat field ahead

on either side of the road, and the Maybury Inn with its

swinging sign. I saw the doctor's cart ahead of me. At the

bottom of the hill I turned my head to look at the hillside I

was leaving. Thick streamers of black smoke shot with threads

of red fire were driving up into the still air, and throwing

dark shadows upon the green treetops eastward. The smoke

already extended far away to the east and west--to the By-

fleet pine woods eastward, and to Woking on the west. The

road was dotted with people running towards us. And very

faint now, but very distinct through the hot, quiet air, one

heard 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 their


I am not an expert driver, and I had immediately to turn

my attention to the horse. When I looked back again the

second hill had hidden the black smoke. I slashed the horse

with the whip, and gave him a loose rein until Woking and

Send lay between us and that quivering tumult. I overtook

and 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 meadows

beyond Pyrford, and the hedges on either side were sweet

and gay with multitudes of dog-roses. The heavy firing that

had broken out while we were driving down Maybury Hill

ceased as abruptly as it began, leaving the evening very peace-

ful and still. We got to Leatherhead without misadventure

about nine o'clock, and the horse had an hour's rest while

I took supper with my cousins and commended my wife to

their care.

My wife was curiously silent throughout the drive, and

seemed oppressed with forebodings of evil. I talked to her

reassuringly, pointing out that the Martians were tied to the

Pit by sheer heaviness, and at the utmost could but crawl

a little out of it; but she answered only in monosyllables. Had

it not been for my promise to the innkeeper, she would, I

think, have urged me to stay in Leatherhead that night. Would

that I had! Her face, I remember, was very white as we


For my own part, I had been feverishly excited all day.

Something very like the war fever that occasionally runs

through a civilised community had got into my blood, and

in my heart I was not so very sorry that I had to return to

Maybury that night. I was even afraid that that last fusillade

I had heard might mean the extermination of our invaders

from Mars. I can best express my state of mind by saying

that I wanted to be in at the death.

It was nearly eleven when I started to return. The night

was unexpectedly dark; to me, walking out of the lighted

passage of my cousins' house, it seemed indeed black, and

it was as hot and close as the day. Overhead the clouds were

driving fast, albeit not a breath stirred the shrubs about us.

My cousins' man lit both lamps. Happily, I knew the road

intimately. My wife stood in the light of the doorway, and

watched me until I jumped up into the dog cart. Then

abruptly she turned and went in, leaving my cousins side by

side wishing me good hap.

I was a little depressed at first with the contagion of my

wife's fears, but very soon my thoughts reverted to the

Martians. At that time I was absolutely in the dark as to

the course of the evening's fighting. I did not know even the

circumstances that had precipitated the conflict. As I came

through Ockham (for that was the way I returned, and not

through Send and Old Woking) I saw along the western

horizon a blood-red glow, which as I drew nearer, crept

slowly 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 window

or so the village showed not a sign of life; but I narrowly

escaped an accident at the corner of the road to Pyrford,

where a knot of people stood with their backs to me. They

said nothing to me as I passed. I do not know what they

knew of the things happening beyond the hill, nor do I know

if the silent houses I passed on my way were sleeping securely,

or deserted and empty, or harassed and watching against the

terror of the night.

From Ripley until I came through Pyrford I was in the

valley of the Wey, and the red glare was hidden from me.

As I ascended the little hill beyond Pyrford Church the glare

came into view again, and the trees about me shivered with

the first intimation of the storm that was upon me. Then I

heard 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 about

me and showed the distant woods towards Addlestone. I felt

a tug at the reins. I saw that the driving clouds had been

pierced as it were by a thread of green fire, suddenly lighting

their confusion and falling into the field to my left. It was

the third falling star!

Close on its apparition, and blindingly violet by contrast,

danced out the first lightning of the gathering storm, and the

thunder burst like a rocket overhead. The horse took the bit

between 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 ever

seen. The thunderclaps, treading one on the heels of another

and with a strange crackling accompaniment, sounded more

like the working of a gigantic electric machine than the usual

detonating reverberations. The flickering light was blinding

and confusing, and a thin hail smote gustily at my face as

I drove down the slope.

At first I regarded little but the road before me, and then

abruptly my attention was arrested by something that was

moving rapidly down the opposite slope of Maybury Hill. At

first I took it for the wet roof of a house, but one flash

following another showed it to be in swift rolling movement.

It was an elusive vision--a moment of bewildering darkness, and

then, in a flash like daylight, the red masses of the Orphanage

near the crest of the hill, the green tops of the pine trees,

and this problematical object came out clear and sharp and


And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous

tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young

pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking

engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather;

articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering

tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder.

A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way with

two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantly

as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer.

Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violently

along the ground? That was the impression those instant

flashes gave. But instead of a milking stool imagine it a

great body of machinery on a tripod stand.

Then suddenly the trees in the pine wood ahead of me

were parted, as brittle reeds are parted by a man thrusting

through 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 hard

round to the right and in another moment the dog cart had

heeled over upon the horse; the shafts smashed noisily, and

I was flung sideways and fell heavily into a shallow pool of


I crawled out almost immediately, and crouched, my feet

still in the water, under a clump of furze. The horse lay

motionless (his neck was broken, poor brute!) and by the

lightning flashes I saw the black bulk of the overturned dog

cart and the silhouette of the wheel still spinning slowly. In

another moment the colossal mechanism went striding by

me, and passed uphill towards Pyrford.

Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it was

no mere insensate machine driving on its way. Machine it was,

with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering

tentacles (one of which gripped a young pine tree) swinging

and rattling about its strange body. It picked its road as it

went striding along, and the brazen hood that surmounted

it moved to and fro with the inevitable suggestion of a head

looking about. Behind the main body was a huge mass of

white metal like a gigantic fisherman's basket, and puffs of

green smoke squirted out from the joints of the limbs as the

monster swept by me. And in an instant it was gone.

So much I saw then, all vaguely for the flickering of the

lightning, in blinding highlights and dense black shadows.

As it passed it set up an exultant deafening howl that

drowned the thunder--"Aloo! Aloo!"--and in another minute

it was with its companion, half a mile away, stooping over

something in the field. I have no doubt this Thing in the field

was the third of the ten cylinders they had fired at us from


For some minutes I lay there in the rain and darkness

watching, by the intermittent light, these monstrous beings

of metal moving about in the distance over the hedge tops.

A thin hail was now beginning, and as it came and went their

figures grew misty and then flashed into clearness again. Now

and then came a gap in the lightning, and the night swallowed

them up.

I was soaked with hail above and puddle water below.

It was some time before my blank astonishment would let

me struggle up the bank to a drier position, or think at all of

my imminent peril.

Not far from me was a little one-roomed squatter's hut of

wood, surrounded by a patch of potato garden. I struggled

to my feet at last, and, crouching and making use of every

chance of cover, I made a run for this. I hammered at the

door, but I could not make the people hear (if there were

any people inside), and after a time I desisted, and, availing

myself of a ditch for the greater part of the way, succeeded

in crawling, unobserved by these monstrous machines, into

the 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 to

find the footpath. It was very dark indeed in the wood, for

the lightning was now becoming infrequent, and the hail,

which was pouring down in a torrent, fell in columns through

the gaps in the heavy foliage.

If I had fully realised the meaning of all the things I had

seen I should have immediately worked my way round through

Byfleet to Street Cobham, and so gone back to rejoin my wife

at Leatherhead. But that night the strangeness of things about

me, and my physical wretchedness, prevented me, for I was

bruised, weary, wet to the skin, deafened and blinded by

the storm.

I had a vague idea of going on to my own house, and

that was as much motive as I had. I staggered through the

trees, fell into a ditch and bruised my knees against a plank,

and finally splashed out into the lane that ran down from

the College Arms. I say splashed, for the storm water was

sweeping the sand down the hill in a muddy torrent. There

in the darkness a man blundered into me and sent me reeling


He gave a cry of terror, sprang sideways, and rushed on

before I could gather my wits sufficiently to speak to him.

So heavy was the stress of the storm just at this place that

I had the hardest task to win my way up the hill. I went close

up to the fence on the left and worked my way along its


Near the top I stumbled upon something soft, and, by a

flash of lightning, saw between my feet a heap of black broad-

cloth and a pair of boots. Before I could distinguish clearly

how the man lay, the flicker of light had passed. I stood over

him waiting for the next flash. When it came, I saw that he

was a sturdy man, cheaply but not shabbily dressed; his head

was bent under his body, and he lay crumpled up close to

the fence, as though he had been flung violently against it.

Overcoming the repugnance natural to one who had never

before touched a dead body, I stooped and turned him over

to feel for his heart. He was quite dead. Apparently his neck

had been broken. The lightning flashed for a third time, and

his face leaped upon me. I sprang to my feet. It was the

landlord of the Spotted Dog, whose conveyance I had taken.

I stepped over him gingerly and pushed on up the hill. I

made my way by the police station and the College Arms

towards my own house. Nothing was burning on the hillside,

though from the common there still came a red glare and a

rolling tumult of ruddy smoke beating up against the drench-

ing hail. So far as I could see by the flashes, the houses

about me were mostly uninjured. By the College Arms a dark

heap lay in the road.

Down the road towards Maybury Bridge there were voices

and the sound of feet, but I had not the courage to shout or

to go to them. I let myself in with my latchkey, closed, locked

and bolted the door, staggered to the foot of the staircase, and

sat down. My imagination was full of those striding metallic

monsters, and of the dead body smashed against the fence.

I crouched at the foot of the staircase with my back to the

wall, shivering violently.









I have already said that my storms of emotion have a

trick of exhausting themselves. After a time I discovered that

I was cold and wet, and with little pools of water about me

on the stair carpet. I got up almost mechanically, went into

the dining room and drank some whiskey, and then I was

moved to change my clothes.

After I had done that I went upstairs to my study, but why

I did so I do not know. The window of my study looks over

the trees and the railway towards Horsell Common. In the

hurry of our departure this window had been left open.

The passage was dark, and, by contrast with the picture the

window 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 Oriental

College and the pine trees about it had gone, and very far

away, lit by a vivid red glare, the common about the sand

pits 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 direction

was on fire--a broad hillside set with minute tongues of flame,

swaying and writhing with the gusts of the dying storm, and

throwing a red reflection upon the cloud scud above. Every

now 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 of

them, nor recognise the black objects they were busied upon.

Neither could I see the nearer fire, though the reflections of

it 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, it

reached to the houses about Woking station, and on the other

to the charred and blackened pine woods of Byfleet. There

was a light down below the hill, on the railway, near the

arch, and several of the houses along the Maybury road

and the streets near the station were glowing ruins. The light

upon the railway puzzled me at first; there were a black heap

and a vivid glare, and to the right of that a row of yellow

oblongs. Then I perceived this was a wrecked train, the fore

part smashed and on fire, the hinder carriages still upon

the 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 and

there by intervals of dimly glowing and smoking ground.

It was the strangest spectacle, that black expanse set with

fire. It reminded me, more than anything else, of the Potteries

at night. At first I could distinguish no people at all, though

I peered intently for them. Later I saw against the light of

Woking station a number of black figures hurrying one after

the other across the line.

And this was the little world in which I had been living

securely for years, this fiery chaos! What had happened in

the last seven hours I still did not know; nor did I know,

though I was beginning to guess, the relation between these

mechanical colossi and the sluggish lumps I had seen dis-

gorged from the cylinder. With a queer feeling of impersonal

interest I turned my desk chair to the window, sat down,

and stared at the blackened country, and particularly at the

three gigantic black things that were going to and fro in

the glare about the sand pits.

They seemed amazingly busy. I began to ask myself what

they could be. Were they intelligent mechanisms? Such a

thing I felt was impossible. Or did a Martian sit within each,

ruling, directing, using, much as a man's brain sits and rules

in his body? I began to compare the things to human ma-

chines, to ask myself for the first time in my life how an

ironclad or a steam engine would seem to an intelligent

lower animal.

The storm had left the sky clear, and over the smoke of the

burning land the little fading pinpoint of Mars was dropping

into the west, when a soldier came into my garden. I heard

a slight scraping at the fence, and rousing myself from the

lethargy that had fallen upon me, I looked down and saw

him dimly, clambering over the palings. At the sight of

another human being my torpor passed, and I leaned out

of the window eagerly.

"Hist!" said I, in a whisper.

He stopped astride of the fence in doubt. Then he came

over and across the lawn to the corner of the house. He bent

down and stepped softly.

"Who's there?" he said, also whispering, standing under

the 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, and

locked the door again. I could not see his face. He was

hatless, 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 a

gesture of despair. "They wiped us out--simply wiped us

out," he repeated again and again.

He followed me, almost mechanically, into the dining


"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 a

little boy, in a perfect passion of emotion, while I, with a

curious forgetfulness of my own recent despair, stood beside

him, wondering.

It was a long time before he could steady his nerves to

answer my questions, and then he answered perplexingly and

brokenly. He was a driver in the artillery, and had only come

into action about seven. At that time firing was going on

across the common, and it was said the first party of Martians

were crawling slowly towards their second cylinder under

cover of a metal shield.

Later this shield staggered up on tripod legs and became

the first of the fighting-machines I had seen. The gun he

drove 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, his

horse trod in a rabbit hole and came down, throwing him

into a depression of the ground. At the same moment the

gun exploded behind him, the ammunition blew up, there

was fire all about him, and he found himself lying under a

heap of charred dead men and dead horses.

"I lay still," he said, "scared out of my wits, with the fore

quarter of a horse atop of me. We'd been wiped out. And

the smell--good God! Like burnt meat! I was hurt across the

back by the fall of the horse, and there I had to lie until I

felt 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, peeping

out furtively across the common. The Cardigan men had

tried a rush, in skirmishing order, at the pit, simply to be

swept out of existence. Then the monster had risen to its

feet and had begun to walk leisurely to and fro across the

common among the few fugitives, with its headlike hood

turning about exactly like the head of a cowled human being.

A kind of arm carried a complicated metallic case, about

which green flashes scintillated, and out of the funnel of

this 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 and

tree upon it that was not already a blackened skeleton was

burning. The hussars had been on the road beyond the

curvature of the ground, and he saw nothing of them. He

heard the Martians rattle for a time and then become still.

The giant saved Woking station and its cluster of houses until

the last; then in a moment the Heat-Ray was brought to bear,

and the town became a heap of fiery ruins. Then the Thing

shut off the Heat-Ray, and turning its back upon the artillery-

man, began to waddle away towards the smouldering pine

woods that sheltered the second cylinder. As it did so a

second glittering Titan built itself up out of the pit.

The second monster followed the first, and at that the

artilleryman began to crawl very cautiously across the hot

heather ash towards Horsell. He managed to get alive into

the 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 the

most part and many burned and scalded. He was turned

aside by the fire, and hid among some almost scorching heaps

of broken wall as one of the Martian giants returned. He

saw this one pursue a man, catch him up in one of its steely

tentacles, and knock his head against the trunk of a pine

tree. At last, after nightfall, the artilleryman made a rush

for 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. People

were hiding in trenches and cellars, and many of the survivors

had made off towards Woking village and Send. He had been

consumed with thirst until he found one of the water mains

near the railway arch smashed, and the water bubbling out

like a spring upon the road.

That was the story I got from him, bit by bit. He grew

calmer telling me and trying to make me see the things he

had seen. He had eaten no food since midday, he told me

early in his narrative, and I found some mutton and bread

in the pantry and brought it into the room. We lit no lamp

for fear of attracting the Martians, and ever and again our

hands would touch upon bread or meat. As he talked, things

about us came darkly out of the darkness, and the trampled

bushes and broken rose trees outside the window grew dis-

tinct. It would seem that a number of men or animals had

rushed across the lawn. I began to see his face, blackened

and haggard, as no doubt mine was also.

When we had finished eating we went softly upstairs to

my study, and I looked again out of the open window. In

one night the valley had become a valley of ashes. The fires

had dwindled now. Where flames had been there were now

streamers of smoke; but the countless ruins of shattered and

gutted houses and blasted and blackened trees that the night

had hidden stood out now gaunt and terrible in the pitiless

light of dawn. Yet here and there some object had had the

luck to escape--a white railway signal here, the end of a

greenhouse there, white and fresh amid the wreckage. Never

before in the history of warfare had destruction been so

indiscriminate and so universal. And shining with the growing

light of the east, three of the metallic giants stood about

the pit, their cowls rotating as though they were surveying

the desolation they had made.

It seemed to me that the pit had been enlarged, and ever

and again puffs of vivid green vapour streamed up and out of

it towards the brightening dawn--streamed up, whirled,

broke, and vanished.

Beyond were the pillars of fire about Chobham. They

became 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 went

very quietly downstairs.

The artilleryman agreed with me that the house was no

place to stay in. He proposed, he said, to make his way

Londonward, and thence rejoin his battery--No. 12, of the

Horse 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 I

already perceived clearly that the country about London

must inevitably be the scene of a disastrous struggle before

such 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 I

should have taken my chance and struck across country. But

the artilleryman dissuaded me: "It's no kindness to the right

sort of wife," he said, "to make her a widow"; and in the end

I agreed to go with him, under cover of the woods, northward

as far as Street Cobham before I parted with him. Thence I

would make a big detour by Epsom to reach Leatherhead.

I should have started at once, but my companion had been

in active service and he knew better than that. He made me

ransack the house for a flask, which he filled with whiskey;

and we lined every available pocket with packets of biscuits

and slices of meat. Then we crept out of the house, and ran

as quickly as we could down the ill-made road by which I

had come overnight. The houses seemed deserted. In the

road lay a group of three charred bodies close together,

struck dead by the Heat-Ray; and here and there were things

that people had dropped--a clock, a slipper, a silver spoon,

and the like poor valuables. At the corner turning up towards

the post office a little cart, filled with boxes and furniture,

and horseless, heeled over on a broken wheel. A cash box had

been 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 Maybury

Hill. The majority of the inhabitants had escaped, I suppose,

by way of the Old Woking road--the road I had taken when

I 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 the

woods at the foot of the hill. We pushed through these

towards the railway without meeting a soul. The woods

across the line were but the scarred and blackened ruins of

woods; for the most part the trees had fallen, but a certain

proportion still stood, dismal grey stems, with dark brown

foliage instead of green.

On our side the fire had done no more than scorch the

nearer trees; it had failed to secure its footing. In one place

the woodmen had been at work on Saturday; trees, felled

and freshly trimmed, lay in a clearing, with heaps of sawdust

by the sawing-machine and its engine. Hard by was a tem-

porary hut, deserted. There was not a breath of wind this

morning, and everything was strangely still. Even the birds

were hushed, and as we hurried along I and the artilleryman

talked in whispers and looked now and again over our

shoulders. Once or twice we stopped to listen.

After a time we drew near the road, and as we did so we

heard the clatter of hoofs and saw through the tree stems

three cavalry soldiers riding slowly towards Woking. We

hailed 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 artilleryman

told 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 stared

curiously. The artilleryman jumped down the bank into the

road and saluted.

"Gun destroyed last night, sir. Have been hiding. Trying

to rejoin battery, sir. You'll come in sight of the Martians, I

expect, 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 and

a body like 'luminium, with a mighty great head in a hood,


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


"You'll see, sir. They carry a kind of box, sir, that shoots

fire and strikes you dead."

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

"No, sir," and the artilleryman began a vivid account of

the Heat-Ray. Halfway through, the lieutenant interrupted

him and looked up at me. I was still standing on the bank by

the side of the road.

"It's perfectly true," I said.

"Well," said the lieutenant, "I suppose it's my business to

see it too. Look here"--to the artilleryman--"we're detailed

here clearing people out of their houses. You'd better go

along and report yourself to Brigadier-General Marvin, and

tell 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 no


Farther along we came upon a group of three women and

two children in the road, busy clearing out a labourer's cot-

tage. They had got hold of a little hand truck, and were piling

it up with unclean-looking bundles and shabby furniture.

They were all too assiduously engaged to talk to us as we


By Byfleet station we emerged from the pine trees, and

found 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 the

houses, the stirring movement of packing in others, and the

knot of soldiers standing on the bridge over the railway and

staring down the line towards Woking, the day would have

seemed very like any other Sunday.

Several farm waggons and carts were moving creakily

along the road to Addlestone, and suddenly through the gate

of a field we saw, across a stretch of flat meadow, six twelve-

pounders standing neatly at equal distances pointing towards

Woking. The gunners stood by the guns waiting, and the

ammunition waggons were at a business-like distance. The

men stood almost as if under inspection.

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


The artilleryman hesitated at the gate.

"I shall go on," he said.

Farther on towards Weybridge, just over the bridge, there

were a number of men in white fatigue jackets throwing up

a long rampart, and more guns behind.

"It's bows and arrows against the lightning, anyhow," said

the artilleryman. "They 'aven't seen that fire-beam yet."

The officers who were not actively engaged stood and

stared over the treetops southwestward, and the men digging

would stop every now and again to stare in the same direc-


Byfleet was in a tumult; people packing, and a score of

hussars, some of them dismounted, some on horseback, were

hunting them about. Three or four black government wag-

gons, with crosses in white circles, and an old omnibus, among

other vehicles, were being loaded in the village street. There

were scores of people, most of them sufficiently sabbatical to

have assumed their best clothes. The soldiers were having

the greatest difficulty in making them realise the gravity of

their position. We saw one shrivelled old fellow with a huge

box and a score or more of flower pots containing orchids,

angrily expostulating with the corporal who would leave them

behind. I stopped and gripped his arm.

"Do you know what's over there?" I said, pointing at the

pine tops that hid the Martians.

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

"Death!" I shouted. "Death is coming! Death!" and leaving

him 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 orchids

on the lid of it, and staring vaguely over the trees.

No one in Weybridge could tell us where the headquarters

were established; the whole place was in such confusion as I

had never seen in any town before. Carts, carriages every-

where, the most astonishing miscellany of conveyances and

horseflesh. The respectable inhabitants of the place, men in

golf 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 astonishing

variation of their Sunday experiences. In the midst of it all

the 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 drinking

fountain, made a very passable meal upon what we had

brought with us. Patrols of soldiers--here no longer hussars,

but grenadiers in white--were warning people to move now

or to take refuge in their cellars as soon as the firing began.

We saw as we crossed the railway bridge that a growing

crowd of people had assembled in and about the railway

station, and the swarming platform was piled with boxes and

packages. The ordinary traffic had been stopped, I believe, in

order to allow of the passage of troops and guns to Chertsey,

and I have heard since that a savage struggle occurred for

places in the special trains that were put on at a later hour.

We remained at Weybridge until midday, and at that hour

we found ourselves at the place near Shepperton Lock where

the Wey and Thames join. Part of the time we spent helping

two old women to pack a little cart. The Wey has a treble

mouth, and at this point boats are to be hired, and there was

a ferry across the river. On the Shepperton side was an inn

with 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. As

yet the flight had not grown to a panic, but there were already

far more people than all the boats going to and fro could

enable 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 goods

piled thereon. One man told us he meant to try to get away

from Shepperton station.

There was a lot of shouting, and one man was even jesting.

The idea people seemed to have here was that the Martians

were simply formidable human beings, who might attack and

sack the town, to be certainly destroyed in the end. Every

now and then people would glance nervously across the Wey,

at the meadows towards Chertsey, but everything over there

was 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 tramping

off down the lane. The big ferryboat had just made a

journey. 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 came

again, this time from the direction of Chertsey, a muffled

thud--the sound of a gun.

The fighting was beginning. Almost immediately unseen

batteries across the river to our right, unseen because of the

trees, took up the chorus, firing heavily one after the other.

A woman screamed. Everyone stood arrested by the sudden

stir of battle, near us and yet invisible to us. Nothing was to

be seen save flat meadows, cows feeding unconcernedly for

the most part, and silvery pollard willows motionless in the

warm 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 the

river, a puff of smoke that jerked up into the air and hung;

and forthwith the ground heaved under foot and a heavy

explosion shook the air, smashing two or three windows in

the 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 the

armoured Martians appeared, far away over the little trees,

across the flat meadows that stretched towards Chertsey, and

striding hurriedly towards the river. Little cowled figures they

seemed at first, going with a rolling motion and as fast as

flying birds.

Then, advancing obliquely towards us, came a fifth. Their

armoured bodies glittered in the sun as they swept swiftly

forward upon the guns, growing rapidly larger as they drew

nearer. One on the extreme left, the remotest that is, flour-

ished a huge case high in the air, and the ghostly, terrible

Heat-Ray I had already seen on Friday night smote towards

Chertsey, and struck the town.

At sight of these strange, swift, and terrible creatures the

crowd near the water's edge seemed to me to be for a moment

horror-struck. There was no screaming or shouting, but a

silence. Then a hoarse murmur and a movement of feet--a

splashing from the water. A man, too frightened to drop the

portmanteau he carried on his shoulder, swung round and

sent me staggering with a blow from the corner of his burden.

A woman thrust at me with her hand and rushed past me. I

turned with the rush of the people, but I was not too terrified

for thought. The terrible Heat-Ray was in my mind. To get

under water! That was it!

"Get under water!" I shouted, unheeded.

I faced about again, and rushed towards the approaching

Martian, rushed right down the gravelly beach and headlong

into the water. Others did the same. A boatload of people

putting back came leaping out as I rushed past. The stones

under my feet were muddy and slippery, and the river was

so low that I ran perhaps twenty feet scarcely waist-deep.

Then, as the Martian towered overhead scarcely a couple of

hundred yards away, I flung myself forward under the sur-

face. The splashes of the people in the boats leaping into the

river sounded like thunderclaps in my ears. People were

landing hastily on both sides of the river.

But the Martian machine took no more notice for the

moment of the people running this way and that than a man

would of the confusion of ants in a nest against which his

foot has kicked. When, half suffocated, I raised my head

above water, the Martian's hood pointed at the batteries that

were still firing across the river, and as it advanced it swung

loose 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 at

the farther bank, and in another moment it had raised itself

to its full height again, close to the village of Shepperton.

Forthwith the six guns which, unknown to anyone on the

right bank, had been hidden behind the outskirts of that

village, fired simultaneously. The sudden near concussion,

the last close upon the first, made my heart jump. The

monster was already raising the case generating the Heat-Ray

as the first shell burst six yards above the hood.

I gave a cry of astonishment. I saw and thought nothing of

the other four Martian monsters; my attention was riveted

upon the nearer incident. Simultaneously two other shells

burst in the air near the body as the hood twisted round in

time to receive, but not in time to dodge, the fourth shell.

The shell burst clean in the face of the Thing. The hood

bulged, 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 a


I heard answering shouts from the people in the water

about me. I could have leaped out of the water with that

momentary exultation.

The decapitated colossus reeled like a drunken giant; but

it did not fall over. It recovered its balance by a miracle,

and, no longer heeding its steps and with the camera that fired

the 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 the

Thing was now but a mere intricate device of metal whirling

to destruction. It drove along in a straight line, incapable of

guidance. It struck the tower of Shepperton Church, smash-

ing it down as the impact of a battering ram might have

done, 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 had

immediately flashed into steam. In another moment a huge

wave, like a muddy tidal bore but almost scaldingly hot, came

sweeping round the bend upstream. I saw people struggling

shorewards, and heard their screaming and shouting faintly

above the seething and roar of the Martian's collapse.

For a moment I heeded nothing of the heat, forgot the

patent need of self-preservation. I splashed through the tu-

multuous water, pushing aside a man in black to do so, until

I could see round the bend. Half a dozen deserted boats

pitched aimlessly upon the confusion of the waves. The fallen

Martian came into sight downstream, lying across the river,

and for the most part submerged.

Thick clouds of steam were pouring off the wreckage, and

through the tumultuously whirling wisps I could see, inter-

mittently and vaguely, the gigantic limbs churning the water

and flinging a splash and spray of mud and froth into the air.

The tentacles swayed and struck like living arms, and, save

for the helpless purposelessness of these movements, it was

as if some wounded thing were struggling for its life amid

the waves. Enormous quantities of a ruddy-brown fluid were

spurting up in noisy jets out of the machine.

My attention was diverted from this death flurry by a

furious yelling, like that of the thing called a siren in our

manufacturing towns. A man, knee-deep near the towing

path, shouted inaudibly to me and pointed. Looking back,

I saw the other Martians advancing with gigantic strides down

the riverbank from the direction of Chertsey. The Shepperton

guns spoke this time unavailingly.

At that I ducked at once under water, and, holding my

breath until movement was an agony, blundered painfully

ahead under the surface as long as I could. The water was in

a tumult about me, and rapidly growing hotter.

When for a moment I raised my head to take breath and

throw the hair and water from my eyes, the steam was rising

in 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 had

passed 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, one

perhaps two hundred yards from me, the other towards Lale-

ham. The generators of the Heat-Rays waved high, and the

hissing 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 crash

of falling houses, the thud of trees, fences, sheds flashing into

flame, and the crackling and roaring of fire. Dense black

smoke was leaping up to mingle with the steam from the

river, and as the Heat-Ray went to and fro over Weybridge

its impact was marked by flashes of incandescent white, that

gave place at once to a smoky dance of lurid flames. The

nearer houses still stood intact, awaiting their fate, shadowy,

faint and pallid in the steam, with the fire behind them

going to and fro.

For a moment perhaps I stood there, breast-high in the

almost boiling water, dumbfounded at my position, hopeless

of escape. Through the reek I could see the people who had

been with me in the river scrambling out of the water

through the reeds, like little frogs hurrying through grass

from the advance of a man, or running to and fro in utter

dismay on the towing path.

Then suddenly the white flashes of the Heat-Ray came

leaping towards me. The houses caved in as they dissolved at

its touch, and darted out flames; the trees changed to fire with

a roar. The Ray flickered up and down the towing path,

licking off the people who ran this way and that, and came

down to the water's edge not fifty yards from where I stood.

It swept across the river to Shepperton, and the water in its

track rose in a boiling weal crested with steam. I turned


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 would

have been the end. I fell helplessly, in full sight of the Mar-

tians, upon the broad, bare gravelly spit that runs down to

mark the angle of the Wey and Thames. I expected nothing

but death.

I have a dim memory of the foot of a Martian coming

down within a score of yards of my head, driving straight

into the loose gravel, whirling it this way and that and

lifting again; of a long suspense, and then of the four carry-

ing the debris of their comrade between them, now clear

and then presently faint through a veil of smoke, receding

interminably, as it seemed to me, across a vast space of river

and meadow. And then, very slowly, I realised that by a

miracle I had escaped.










After getting this sudden lesson in the power of terres-

trial weapons, the Martians retreated to their original position

upon Horsell Common; and in their haste, and encumbered

with the de'bris of their smashed companion, they no doubt

overlooked many such a stray and negligible victim as myself.

Had they left their comrade and pushed on forthwith, there

was nothing at that time between them and London but

batteries of twelve-pounder guns, and they would certainly

have reached the capital in advance of the tidings of their

approach; as sudden, dreadful, and destructive their advent

would have been as the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon a

century ago.

But they were in no hurry. Cylinder followed cylinder on

its interplanetary flight; every twenty-four hours brought

them reinforcement. And meanwhile the military and naval

authorities, now fully alive to the tremendous power of their

antagonists, worked with furious energy. Every minute a

fresh gun came into position until, before twilight, every

copse, every row of suburban villas on the hilly slopes about

Kingston and Richmond, masked an expectant black muzzle.

And through the charred and desolated area--perhaps twenty

square miles altogether--that encircled the Martian encamp-

ment on Horsell Common, through charred and ruined villages

among the green trees, through the blackened and smoking

arcades that had been but a day ago pine spinneys, crawled

the devoted scouts with the heliographs that were presently

to warn the gunners of the Martian approach. But the Mar-

tians now understood our command of artillery and the

danger of human proximity, and not a man ventured within

a mile of either cylinder, save at the price of his life.

It would seem that these giants spent the earlier part of

the afternoon in going to and fro, transferring everything

from the second and third cylinders--the second in Addle-

stone Golf Links and the third at Pyrford--to their original

pit on Horsell Common. Over that, above the blackened

heather and ruined buildings that stretched far and wide,

stood one as sentinel, while the rest abandoned their vast

fighting-machines and descended into the pit. They were

hard at work there far into the night, and the towering pillar

of dense green smoke that rose therefrom could be seen from

the hills about Merrow, and even, it is said, from Banstead

and Epsom Downs.

And while the Martians behind me were thus preparing

for their next sally, and in front of me Humanity gathered

for the battle, I made my way with infinite pains and labour

from the fire and smoke of burning Weybridge towards


I saw an abandoned boat, very small and remote, drifting

down-stream; and throwing off the most of my sodden

clothes, I went after it, gained it, and so escaped out of that

destruction. There were no oars in the boat, but I contrived

to paddle, as well as my parboiled hands would allow, down

the river towards Halliford and Walton, going very tediously

and continually looking behind me, as you may well under-

stand. I followed the river, because I considered that the

water gave me my best chance of escape should these giants


The hot water from the Martian's overthrow drifted down-

stream with me, so that for the best part of a mile I could see

little of either bank. Once, however, I made out a string of

black figures hurrying across the meadows from the direction

of Weybridge. Halliford, it seemed, was deserted, and sev-

eral of the houses facing the river were on fire. It was strange

to see the place quite tranquil, quite desolate under the hot

blue sky, with the smoke and little threads of flame going

straight up into the heat of the afternoon. Never before had

I seen houses burning without the accompaniment of an

obstructive crowd. A little farther on the dry reeds up the

bank were smoking and glowing, and a line of fire inland was

marching steadily across a late field of hay.

For a long time I drifted, so painful and weary was I after

the violence I had been through, and so intense the heat upon

the water. Then my fears got the better of me again, and I

resumed my paddling. The sun scorched my bare back. At

last, as the bridge at Walton was coming into sight round the

bend, my fever and faintness overcame my fears, and I landed

on the Middlesex bank and lay down, deadly sick, amid the

long grass. I suppose the time was then about four or five

o'clock. I got up presently, walked perhaps half a mile with-

out meeting a soul, and then lay down again in the shadow of

a hedge. I seem to remember talking, wanderingly, to myself

during that last spurt. I was also very thirsty, and bitterly

regretful I had drunk no more water. It is a curious thing

that I felt angry with my wife; I cannot account for it,

but my impotent desire to reach Leatherhead worried me


I do not clearly remember the arrival of the curate, so that

probably I dozed. I became aware of him as a seated figure

in soot-smudged shirt sleeves, and with his upturned, clean-

shaven face staring at a faint flickering that danced over the

sky. The sky was what is called a mackerel sky--rows and

rows of faint down-plumes of cloud, just tinted with the

midsummer sunset.

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


"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. I

dare say he found me a strange enough figure, naked, save

for my water-soaked trousers and socks, scalded, and my face

and shoulders blackened by the smoke. His face was a fair

weakness, his chin retreated, and his hair lay in crisp, almost

flaxen curls on his low forehead; his eyes were rather large,

pale blue, and blankly staring. He spoke abruptly, looking

vacantly away from me.

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


I stared at him and made no answer.

He extended a thin white hand and spoke in almost a

complaining tone.

"Why are these things permitted? What sins have we

done? The morning service was over, I was walking through

the roads to clear my brain for the afternoon, and then--fire,

earthquake, death! As if it were Sodom and Gomorrah! All

our work undone, all the work---- What are these Mar-


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

He gripped his knees and turned to look at me again. For

half a minute, perhaps, he stared silently.

"I was walking through the roads to clear my brain," he

said. "And suddenly--fire, earthquake, death!"

He relapsed into silence, with his chin now sunken almost

to his knees.

Presently he began waving his hand.

"All the work--all the Sunday schools---- What have we

done--what has Weybridge done? Everything gone--every-

thing destroyed. The church! We rebuilt it only three years

ago. Gone! Swept out of existence! Why?"

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


"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. The

tremendous tragedy in which he had been involved--it was

evident he was a fugitive from Weybridge--had driven him

to 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 keep

your head. There is still hope."


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

I began to explain my view of our position. He listened at

first, but as I went on the interest dawning in his eyes gave

place to their former stare, and his regard wandered from


"This must be the beginning of the end," he said, inter-

rupting me. "The end! The great and terrible day of the

Lord! When men shall call upon the mountains and the rocks

to fall upon them and hide them--hide them from the face

of Him that sitteth upon the throne!"

I began to understand the position. I ceased my laboured

reasoning, struggled to my feet, and, standing over him, laid

my hand on his shoulder.

"Be a man!" said I. "You are scared out of your wits! What

good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what

earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before

to men! Did you think God had exempted Weybridge? He is

not an insurance agent."

For a time he sat in blank silence.

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

invulnerable, they are pitiless."

"Neither the one nor, perhaps, the other," I answered.

"And the mightier they are the more sane and wary should

we 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 have

chanced to come in for the thick of it," said I, "and that is


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

I told him it was the heliograph signalling--that it was the

sign of human help and effort in the sky.

"We are in the midst of it," I said, "quiet as it is. That

flicker in the sky tells of the gathering storm. Yonder, I take

it are the Martians, and Londonward, where those hills rise

about 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 me

by a gesture.

"Listen!" he said.

From beyond the low hills across the water came the dull

resonance of distant guns and a remote weird crying. Then

everything was still. A cockchafer came droning over the

hedge and past us. High in the west the crescent moon hung

faint 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 Martians

fell at Woking. He was a medical student working for an

imminent examination, and he heard nothing of the arrival

until Saturday morning. The morning papers on Saturday

contained, in addition to lengthy special articles on the planet

Mars, on life in the planets, and so forth, a brief and vaguely

worded telegram, all the more striking for its brevity.

The Martians, alarmed by the approach of a crowd, had

killed a number of people with a quick-firing gun, so the

story ran. The telegram concluded with the words: "Formi-

dable as they seem to be, the Martians have not moved from

the pit into which they have fallen, and, indeed, seem incapa-

ble of doing so. Probably this is due to the relative strength

of the earth's gravitational energy." On that last text their

leader-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 the

streets. The afternoon papers puffed scraps of news under big

headlines. They had nothing to tell beyond the movements

of troops about the common, and the burning of the pine

woods between Woking and Weybridge, until eight. Then

the ST. JAMES'S GAZETTE, in an extra-special edition, announced

the bare fact of the interruption of telegraphic communica-

tion. This was thought to be due to the falling of burning pine

trees across the line. Nothing more of the fighting was known

that night, the night of my drive to Leatherhead and


My brother felt no anxiety about us, as he knew from the

description in the papers that the cylinder was a good two

miles from my house. He made up his mind to run down that

night to me, in order, as he says, to see the Things before

they were killed. He despatched a telegram, which never

reached me, about four o'clock, and spent the evening at a

music hall.

In London, also, on Saturday night there was a thunder-

storm, and my brother reached Waterloo in a cab. On the

platform from which the midnight train usually starts he

learned, after some waiting, that an accident prevented trains

from reaching Woking that night. The nature of the accident

he could not ascertain; indeed, the railway authorities did not

clearly know at that time. There was very little excitement

in the station, as the officials, failing to realise that

anything further than a breakdown between Byfleet and Woking

junction had occurred, were running the theatre trains which

usually passed through Woking round by Virginia Water or

Guildford. They were busy making the necessary arrange-

ments to alter the route of the Southampton and Portsmouth

Sunday League excursions. A nocturnal newspaper reporter,

mistaking my brother for the traffic manager, to whom he

bears a slight resemblance, waylaid and tried to interview

him. Few people, excepting the railway officials, connected

the breakdown with the Martians.

I have read, in another account of these events, that on

Sunday morning "all London was electrified by the news

from Woking." As a matter of fact, there was nothing to

justify that very extravagant phrase. Plenty of Londoners

did not hear of the Martians until the panic of Monday morn-

ing. Those who did took some time to realise all that the

hastily worded telegrams in the Sunday papers conveyed.

The majority of people in London do not read Sunday


The habit of personal security, moreover, is so deeply fixed

in the Londoner's mind, and startling intelligence so much a

matter of course in the papers, that they could read without

any personal tremors: "About seven o'clock last night the

Martians came out of the cylinder, and, moving about under

an armour of metallic shields, have completely wrecked

Woking station with the adjacent houses, and massacred an

entire battalion of the Cardigan Regiment. No details are

known. Maxims have been absolutely useless against their

armour; the field guns have been disabled by them. Flying

hussars have been galloping into Chertsey. The Martians

appear to be moving slowly towards Chertsey or Windsor.

Great anxiety prevails in West Surrey, and earthworks are

being thrown up to check the advance Londonward." That

was how the Sunday SUN put it, and a clever and remarkably

prompt "handbook" article in the REFEREE compared the affair

to a menagerie suddenly let loose in a village.

No one in London knew positively of the nature of the

armoured Martians, and there was still a fixed idea that these

monsters 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 separate

editions as further news came to hand, some even in default

of it. But there was practically nothing more to tell people

until late in the afternoon, when the authorities gave the

press agencies the news in their possession. It was stated that

the people of Walton and Weybridge, and all the district

were pouring along the roads Londonward, and that was all.

My brother went to church at the Foundling Hospital in

the morning, still in ignorance of what had happened on the

previous night. There he heard allusions made to the invasion,

and a special prayer for peace. Coming out, he bought a

REFEREE. He became alarmed at the news in this, and went

again to Waterloo station to find out if communication were

restored. The omnibuses, carriages, cyclists, and innumerable

people walking in their best clothes seemed scarcely affected

by the strange intelligence that the news venders were dis-

seminating. People were interested, or, if alarmed, alarmed

only on account of the local residents. At the station he heard

for the first time that the Windsor and Chertsey lines were

now interrupted. The porters told him that several remark-

able telegrams had been received in the morning from Byfleet

and Chertsey stations, but that these had abruptly ceased. My

brother could get very little precise detail out of them.

"There's fighting going on about Weybridge" was the

extent of their information.

The train service was now very much disorganised. Quite

a number of people who had been expecting friends from

places on the South-Western network were standing about

the station. One grey-headed old gentleman came and abused

the South-Western Company bitterly to my brother. "It wants

showing up," he said.

One or two trains came in from Richmond, Putney, and

Kingston, containing people who had gone out for a day's

boating and found the locks closed and a feeling of panic in

the air. A man in a blue and white blazer addressed my

brother, full of strange tidings.

"There's hosts of people driving into Kingston in traps and

carts and things, with boxes of valuables and all that," he

said. "They come from Molesey and Weybridge and Walton,

and they say there's been guns heard at Chertsey, heavy

firing, and that mounted soldiers have told them to get off at

once because the Martians are coming. We heard guns firing

at Hampton Court station, but we thought it was thunder.

What the dickens does it all mean? The Martians can't get

out of their pit, can they?"

My brother could not tell him.

Afterwards he found that the vague feeling of alarm had

spread to the clients of the underground railway, and that

the Sunday excursionists began to return from all over the

South-Western "lung"--Barnes, Wimbledon, Richmond Park,

Kew, and so forth--at unnaturally early hours; but not a

soul 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 was

immensely 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 of

carriage trucks bearing huge guns and carriages crammed

with soldiers. These were the guns that were brought up

from Woolwich and Chatham to cover Kingston. There was

an exchange of pleasantries: "You'll get eaten!" "We're the

beast-tamers!" and so forth. A little while after that a squad

of police came into the station and began to clear the public off

the platforms, and my brother went out into the street again.

The church bells were ringing for evensong, and a squad of

Salvation Army lassies came singing down Waterloo Road.

On the bridge a number of loafers were watching a curious

brown scum that came drifting down the stream in patches.

The sun was just setting, and the Clock Tower and the Houses

of Parliament rose against one of the most peaceful skies it

is possible to imagine, a sky of gold, barred with long trans-

verse stripes of reddish-purple cloud. There was talk of a

floating body. One of the men there, a reservist he said he

was, told my brother he had seen the heliograph flickering

in the west.

In Wellington Street my brother met a couple of sturdy

roughs 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. "Fight

ing at Weybridge! Full description! Repulse of the Martians!

London in Danger!" He had to give threepence for a copy of

that paper.

Then it was, and then only, that he realised something of

the full power and terror of these monsters. He learned that

they 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 power

that even the mightiest guns could not stand against them.

They were described as "vast spiderlike machines, nearly

a 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 country

about Horsell Common, and especially between the Woking

district and London. Five of the machines had been seen

moving 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 tone

of the despatch was optimistic.

The Martians had been repulsed; they were not invulnera-

ble. They had retreated to their triangle of cylinders again, in

the circle about Woking. Signallers with heliographs were

pushing forward upon them from all sides. Guns were in rapid

transit from Windsor, Portsmouth, Aldershot, Woolwich--

even from the north; among others, long wire-guns of ninety-

five tons from Woolwich. Altogether one hundred and sixteen

were in position or being hastily placed, chiefly covering Lon-

don. Never before in England had there been such a vast or

rapid concentration of military material.

Any further cylinders that fell, it was hoped, could be

destroyed 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, but

the public was exhorted to avoid and discourage panic. No

doubt the Martians were strange and terrible in the extreme,

but at the outside there could not be more than twenty of

them against our millions.

The authorities had reason to suppose, from the size of the

cylinders, that at the outside there could not be more than

five in each cylinder--fifteen altogether. And one at least was

disposed of--perhaps more. The public would be fairly

warned of the approach of danger, and elaborate measures

were being taken for the protection of the people in the

threatened southwestern suburbs. And so, with reiterated

assurances of the safety of London and the ability of the

authorities to cope with the difficulty, this quasi-proclamation


This was printed in enormous type on paper so fresh that it

was still wet, and there had been no time to add a word of

comment. It was curious, my brother said, to see how ruth-

lessly the usual contents of the paper had been hacked and

taken out to give this place.

All down Wellington Street people could be seen fluttering

out the pink sheets and reading, and the Strand was suddenly

noisy with the voices of an army of hawkers following these

pioneers. Men came scrambling off buses to secure copies.

Certainly this news excited people intensely, whatever

their previous apathy. The shutters of a map shop in the

Strand were being taken down, my brother said, and a man

in his Sunday raiment, lemon-yellow gloves even, was visi-

ble inside the window hastily fastening maps of Surrey to

the glass.

Going on along the Strand to Trafalgar Square, the paper

in his hand, my brother saw some of the fugitives from West

Surrey. There was a man with his wife and two boys and

some 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 six

respectable-looking people in it, and some boxes and bundles.

The faces of these people were haggard, and their entire

appearance contrasted conspicuously with the Sabbath-best

appearance of the people on the omnibuses. People in fash-

ionable clothing peeped at them out of cabs. They stopped at

the Square as if undecided which way to take, and finally

turned eastward along the Strand. Some way behind these

came a man in workday clothes, riding one of those old-

fashioned tricycles with a small front wheel. He was dirty and

white 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 see

something of me. He noticed an unusual number of police

regulating the traffic. Some of the refugees were exchanging

news with the people on the omnibuses. One was professing

to have seen the Martians. "Boilers on stilts, I tell you,

striding along like men." Most of them were excited and

animated by their strange experience.

Beyond Victoria the public-houses were doing a lively trade

with these arrivals. At all the street corners groups of people

were reading papers, talking excitedly, or staring at these

unusual Sunday visitors. They seemed to increase as night

drew on, until at last the roads, my brother said, were like

Epsom High Street on a Derby Day. My brother addressed

several of these fugitives and got unsatisfactory answers from


None of them could tell him any news of Woking except

one man, who assured him that Woking had been entirely

destroyed on the previous night.

"I come from Byfleet," he said; "man on a bicycle came

through the place in the early morning, and ran from door to

door warning us to come away. Then came soldiers. We went

out to look, and there were clouds of smoke to the south--

nothing but smoke, and not a soul coming that way. Then

we 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 the

authorities were to blame for their incapacity to dispose of

the invaders without all this inconvenience.

About eight o'clock a noise of heavy firing was distinctly

audible all over the south of London. My brother could not

hear it for the traffic in the main thoroughfares, but by strik-

ing through the quiet back streets to the river he was able to

distinguish it quite plainly.

He walked from Westminster to his apartments near Re-

gent's Park, about two. He was now very anxious on my

account, and disturbed at the evident magnitude of the

trouble. His mind was inclined to run, even as mine had run

on Saturday, on military details. He thought of all those

silent, 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 along

Oxford Street, and several in the Marylebone Road, but so

slowly 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's

Park there were as many silent couples "walking out" together

under the scattered gas lamps as ever there had been. The

night was warm and still, and a little oppressive; the sound

of guns continued intermittently, and after midnight there

seemed 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 out

again aimlessly. He returned and tried in vain to divert his

attention to his examination notes. He went to bed a little

after midnight, and was awakened from lurid dreams in the

small hours of Monday by the sound of door knockers, feet

running in the street, distant drumming, and a clamour

of bells. Red reflections danced on the ceiling. For a moment

he lay astonished, wondering whether day had come or the

world gone mad. Then he jumped out of bed and ran to the


His room was an attic and as he thrust his head out, up

and down the street there were a dozen echoes to the noise

of his window sash, and heads in every kind of night disarray

appeared. Enquiries were being shouted. "They are coming!"

bawled a policeman, hammering at the door; "the Martians

are coming!" and hurried to the next door.

The sound of drumming and trumpeting came from the

Albany Street Barracks, and every church within earshot was

hard 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 yellow


Up the street came galloping a closed carriage, bursting

abruptly into noise at the corner, rising to a clattering climax

under 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 most

part to Chalk Farm station, where the North-Western special

trains were loading up, instead of coming down the gradient

into Euston.

For a long time my brother stared out of the window in

blank astonishment, watching the policemen hammering at

door after door, and delivering their incomprehensible mes-

sage. Then the door behind him opened, and the man who

lodged across the landing came in, dressed only in shirt,

trousers, and slippers, his braces loose about his waist, his

hair disordered from his pillow.

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


They both craned their heads out of the window, straining

to hear what the policemen were shouting. People were com-

ing out of the side streets, and standing in groups at the

corners talking.

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


My brother answered him vaguely and began to dress,

running with each garment to the window in order to miss

nothing of the growing excitement. And presently men selling

unnaturally early newspapers came bawling into the street:

"London in danger of suffocation! The Kingston and Rich-

mond defences forced! Fearful massacres in the Thames


And all about him--in the rooms below, in the houses on

each 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, and

westward and northward in Kilburn and St. John's Wood and

Hampstead, and eastward in Shoreditch and Highbury and

Haggerston and Hoxton, and, indeed, through all the vastness

of London from Ealing to East Ham--people were rubbing

their eyes, and opening windows to stare out and ask aimless

questions, dressing hastily as the first breath of the coming

storm of Fear blew through the streets. It was the dawn of

the great panic. London, which had gone to bed on Sunday

night oblivious and inert, was awakened, in the small hours

of Monday morning, to a vivid sense of danger.

Unable from his window to learn what was happening, my

brother went down and out into the street, just as the sky

between the parapets of the houses grew pink with the early

dawn. The flying people on foot and in vehicles grew more

numerous every moment. "Black Smoke!" he heard people

crying, and again "Black Smoke!" The contagion of such a

unanimous fear was inevitable. As my brother hesitated on

the door-step, he saw another news vender approaching, and

got a paper forthwith. The man was running away with the

rest, and selling his papers for a shilling each as he ran--a

grotesque mingling of profit and panic.

And from this paper my brother read that catastrophic

despatch of the Commander-in-Chief:

"The Martians are able to discharge enormous clouds of a

black and poisonous vapour by means of rockets. They have

smothered our batteries, destroyed Richmond, Kingston, and

Wimbledon, 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 of

the 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 jangling

tumult, a cart carelessly driven smashed, amid shrieks and

curses, against the water trough up the street. Sickly yellow

lights went to and fro in the houses, and some of the passing

cabs flaunted unextinguished lamps. And overhead the dawn

was growing brighter, clear and steady and calm.

He heard footsteps running to and fro in the rooms, and

up and down stairs behind him. His landlady came to the

door, loosely wrapped in dressing gown and shawl; her hus-

band followed ejaculating.

As my brother began to realise the import of all these

things, he turned hastily to his own room, put all his available

money--some ten pounds altogether--into his pockets, and

went out again into the streets.










It was while the curate had sat and talked so wildly to

me under the hedge in the flat meadows near Halliford, and

while my brother was watching the fugitives stream over

Westminster Bridge, that the Martians had resumed the of-

fensive. So far as one can ascertain from the conflicting

accounts that have been put forth, the majority of them

remained busied with preparations in the Horsell pit until

nine that night, hurrying on some operation that disengaged

huge volumes of green smoke.

But three certainly came out about eight o'clock and,

advancing slowly and cautiously, made their way through

Byfleet and Pyrford towards Ripley and Weybridge, and so

came in sight of the expectant batteries against the setting

sun. These Martians did not advance in a body, but in a line,

each perhaps a mile and a half from his nearest fellow. They

communicated 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 and

St. George's Hill that we had heard at Upper Halliford. The

Ripley gunners, unseasoned artillery volunteers who ought

never to have been placed in such a position, fired one wild,

premature, ineffectual volley, and bolted on horse and foot

through the deserted village, while the Martian, without using

his Heat-Ray, walked serenely over their guns, stepped gin-

gerly among them, passed in front of them, and so came

unexpectedly upon the guns in Painshill Park, which he


The St. George's Hill men, however, were better led or of

a better mettle. Hidden by a pine wood as they were, they

seem to have been quite unsuspected by the Martian nearest

to them. They laid their guns as deliberately as if they had

been on parade, and fired at about a thousand yards' range.

The shells flashed all round him, and he was seen to

advance a few paces, stagger, and go down. Everybody yelled

together, and the guns were reloaded in frantic haste. The

overthrown Martian set up a prolonged ululation, and imme-

diately a second glittering giant, answering him, appeared

over the trees to the south. It would seem that a leg of the

tripod had been smashed by one of the shells. The whole of

the 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, the

pine trees all about the guns flashed into fire, and only one or

two of the men who were already running over the crest of

the hill escaped.

After this it would seem that the three took counsel to-

gether and halted, and the scouts who were watching them

report that they remained absolutely stationary for the next

half hour. The Martian who had been overthrown crawled

tediously out of his hood, a small brown figure, oddly sugges-

tive from that distance of a speck of blight, and apparently

engaged in the repair of his support. About nine he had

finished, for his cowl was then seen above the trees again.

It was a few minutes past nine that night when these three

sentinels were joined by four other Martians, each carrying

a thick black tube. A similar tube was handed to each of the

three, and the seven proceeded to distribute themselves at

equal 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 soon

as they began to move, and warned the waiting batteries

about Ditton and Esher. At the same time four of their

fighting machines, similarly armed with tubes, crossed the

river, and two of them, black against the western sky, came

into sight of myself and the curate as we hurried wearily and

painfully along the road that runs northward out of Halliford.

They moved, as it seemed to us, upon a cloud, for a milky

mist covered the fields and rose to a third of their height.

At this sight the curate cried faintly in his throat, and

began running; but I knew it was no good running from a

Martian, and I turned aside and crawled through dewy nettles

and brambles into the broad ditch by the side of the road.

He looked back, saw what I was doing, and turned to join


The two halted, the nearer to us standing and facing Sun-

bury, the remoter being a grey indistinctness towards the

evening star, away towards Staines.

The occasional howling of the Martians had ceased; they

took up their positions in the huge crescent about their

cylinders in absolute silence. It was a crescent with twelve

miles between its horns. Never since the devising of gun-

powder was the beginning of a battle so still. To us and to

an observer about Ripley it would have had precisely the

same effect--the Martians seemed in solitary possession of

the darkling night, lit only as it was by the slender moon, the

stars, the afterglow of the daylight, and the ruddy glare from

St. 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 the

river, and across the flat grass meadows to the north of it,

wherever a cluster of trees or village houses gave sufficient

cover--the guns were waiting. The signal rockets burst and

rained their sparks through the night and vanished, and the

spirit 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, those

guns glittering so darkly in the early night, would explode

into a thunderous fury of battle.

No doubt the thought that was uppermost in a thousand

of those vigilant minds, even as it was uppermost in mine,

was the riddle--how much they understood of us. Did they

grasp 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 of

their encampment, as we should the furious unanimity of

onslaught in a disturbed hive of bees? Did they dream they

might exterminate us? (At that time no one knew what food

they needed.) A hundred such questions struggled together

in my mind as I watched that vast sentinel shape. And in

the back of my mind was the sense of all the huge unknown

and hidden forces Londonward. Had they prepared pitfalls?

Were the powder mills at Hounslow ready as a snare? Would

the Londoners have the heart and courage to make a greater

Moscow of their mighty province of houses?

Then, after an interminable time, as it seemed to us,

crouching and peering through the hedge, came a sound

like the distant concussion of a gun. Another nearer, and

then another. And then the Martian beside us raised his tube

on high and discharged it, gunwise, with a heavy report that

made the ground heave. The one towards Staines answered

him. There was no flash, no smoke, simply that loaded


I was so excited by these heavy minute-guns following one

another that I so far forgot my personal safety and my

scalded hands as to clamber up into the hedge and stare

towards Sunbury. As I did so a second report followed, and

a big projectile hurtled overhead towards Hounslow. I ex-

pected at least to see smoke or fire, or some such evidence

of its work. But all I saw was the deep blue sky above, with

one solitary star, and the white mist spreading wide and low

beneath. And there had been no crash, no answering ex-

plosion. The silence was restored; the minute lengthened to


"What has happened?" said the curate, standing up beside


"Heaven knows!" said I.

A bat flickered by and vanished. A distant tumult of

shouting 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 battery

to spring upon him; but the evening calm was unbroken.

The figure of the Martian grew smaller as he receded, and

presently the mist and the gathering night had swallowed

him up. By a common impulse we clambered higher. Towards

Sunbury was a dark appearance, as though a conical hill

had suddenly come into being there, hiding our view of the

farther country; and then, remoter across the river, over

Walton, we saw another such summit. These hill-like forms

grew lower and broader even as we stared.

Moved by a sudden thought, I looked northward, and

there I perceived a third of these cloudy black kopjes had


Everything had suddenly become very still. Far away to

the southeast, marking the quiet, we heard the Martians

hooting to one another, and then the air quivered again with

the distant thud of their guns. But the earthly artillery made

no reply.

Now at the time we could not understand these things, but

later I was to learn the meaning of these ominous kopjes that

gathered in the twilight. Each of the Martians, standing in

the great crescent I have described, had discharged, by

means of the gunlike tube he carried, a huge canister over

whatever hill, copse, cluster of houses, or other possible cover

for guns, chanced to be in front of him. Some fired only one

of these, some two--as in the case of the one we had seen;

the one at Ripley is said to have discharged no fewer than

five at that time. These canisters smashed on striking the

ground--they did not explode--and incontinently disengaged

an enormous volume of heavy, inky vapour, coiling and pour-

ing upward in a huge and ebony cumulus cloud, a gaseous

hill that sank and spread itself slowly over the surrounding

country. And the touch of that vapour, the inhaling of its

pungent 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 its

impact, it sank down through the air and poured over the

ground in a manner rather liquid than gaseous, abandoning

the hills, and streaming into the valleys and ditches and

watercourses even as I have heard the carbonic-acid gas that

pours from volcanic clefts is wont to do. And where it came

upon water some chemical action occurred, and the surface

would be instantly covered with a powdery scum that sank

slowly and made way for more. The scum was absolutely

insoluble, and it is a strange thing, seeing the instant effect

of the gas, that one could drink without hurt the water from

which it had been strained. The vapour did not diffuse as a

true gas would do. It hung together in banks, flowing slug-

gishly down the slope of the land and driving reluctantly

before the wind, and very slowly it combined with the mist

and moisture of the air, and sank to the earth in the form

of dust. Save that an unknown element giving a group of

four lines in the blue of the spectrum is concerned, we are

still 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 before

its precipitation, that fifty feet up in the air, on the roofs

and upper stories of high houses and on great trees, there was

a chance of escaping its poison altogether, as was proved even

that night at Street Cobham and Ditton.

The man who escaped at the former place tells a wonderful

story of the strangeness of its coiling flow, and how he looked

down from the church spire and saw the houses of the village

rising like ghosts out of its inky nothingness. For a day and

a half he remained there, weary, starving and sun-scorched,

the earth under the blue sky and against the prospect of the

distant hills a velvet-black expanse, with red roofs, green

trees, 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 vapour

was allowed to remain until it sank of its own accord into

the ground. As a rule the Martians, when it had served its

purpose, cleared the air of it again by wading into it and

directing a jet of steam upon it.

This they did with the vapour banks near us, as we saw

in the starlight from the window of a deserted house at Upper

Halliford, whither we had returned. From there we could

see the searchlights on Richmond Hill and Kingston Hill

going to and fro, and about eleven the windows rattled, and

we heard the sound of the huge siege guns that had been put

in position there. These continued intermittently for the space

of a quarter of an hour, sending chance shots at the invisible

Martians at Hampton and Ditton, and then the pale beams

of the electric light vanished, and were replaced by a bright

red glow.

Then the fourth cylinder fell--a brilliant green meteor--as

I learned afterwards, in Bushey Park. Before the guns on the

Richmond and Kingston line of hills began, there was a fitful

cannonade far away in the southwest, due, I believe, to guns

being fired haphazard before the black vapour could over-

whelm the gunners.

So, setting about it as methodically as men might smoke

out a wasps' nest, the Martians spread this strange stifling

vapour over the Londonward country. The horns of the

crescent slowly moved apart, until at last they formed a line

from Hanwell to Coombe and Malden. All night through their

destructive tubes advanced. Never once, after the Martian

at St. George's Hill was brought down, did they give the

artillery the ghost of a chance against them. Wherever there

was a possibility of guns being laid for them unseen, a fresh

canister of the black vapour was discharged, and where the

guns were openly displayed the Heat-Ray was brought to


By midnight the blazing trees along the slopes of Rich-

mond Park and the glare of Kingston Hill threw their light

upon a network of black smoke, blotting out the whole valley

of the Thames and extending as far as the eye could reach.

And through this two Martians slowly waded, and turned

their 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 its

production or because they did not wish to destroy the

country but only to crush and overawe the opposition they

had aroused. In the latter aim they certainly succeeded. Sun-

day night was the end of the organised opposition to their

movements. After that no body of men would stand against

them, so hopeless was the enterprise. Even the crews of the

torpedo-boats and destroyers that had brought their quick-

firers up the Thames refused to stop, mutinied, and went

down again. The only offensive operation men ventured upon

after 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 those

batteries towards Esher, waiting so tensely in the twilight.

Survivors there were none. One may picture the orderly

expectation, the officers alert and watchful, the gunners ready,

the ammunition piled to hand, the limber gunners with their

horses and waggons, the groups of civilian spectators standing

as near as they were permitted, the evening stillness, the

ambulances and hospital tents with the burned and wounded

from Weybridge; then the dull resonance of the shots the

Martians fired, and the clumsy projectile whirling over the

trees 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 blackness

advancing headlong, towering heavenward, turning the twi-

light to a palpable darkness, a strange and horrible antagonist

of vapour striding upon its victims, men and horses near it

seen dimly, running, shrieking, falling headlong, shouts of

dismay, the guns suddenly abandoned, men choking and

writhing on the ground, and the swift broadening-out of the

opaque cone of smoke. And then night and extinction--

nothing but a silent mass of impenetrable vapour hiding its


Before dawn the black vapour was pouring through the

streets of Richmond, and the disintegrating organism of

government was, with a last expiring effort, rousing the

population of London to the necessity of flight.








So you understand the roaring wave of fear that swept

through the greatest city in the world just as Monday was

dawning--the stream of flight rising swiftly to a torrent, lash-

ing in a foaming tumult round the railway stations, banked

up 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 midday

even the railway organisations, were losing coherency, losing

shape and efficiency, guttering, softening, running at last in

that 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 were

fighting savagely for standing-room in the carriages even at

two o'clock. By three, people were being trampled and

crushed even in Bishopsgate Street, a couple of hundred

yards or more from Liverpool Street station; revolvers were

fired, people stabbed, and the policemen who had been sent

to direct the traffic, exhausted and infuriated, were breaking

the heads of the people they were called out to protect.

And as the day advanced and the engine drivers and

stokers refused to return to London, the pressure of the flight

drove the people in an ever-thickening multitude away from

the stations and along the northward-running roads. By mid-

day a Martian had been seen at Barnes, and a cloud of slowly

sinking black vapour drove along the Thames and across the

flats of Lambeth, cutting off all escape over the bridges in its

sluggish advance. Another bank drove over Ealing, and sur-

rounded a little island of survivors on Castle Hill, alive, but

unable to escape.

After a fruitless struggle to get aboard a North-Western

train at Chalk Farm--the engines of the trains that had loaded

in the goods yard there PLOUGHED through shrieking people,

and a dozen stalwart men fought to keep the crowd from

crushing the driver against his furnace--my brother emerged

upon the Chalk Farm road, dodged across through a hurrying

swarm of vehicles, and had the luck to be foremost in the

sack of a cycle shop. The front tire of the machine he got

was punctured in dragging it through the window, but he got

up and off, notwithstanding, with no further injury than a

cut wrist. The steep foot of Haverstock Hill was impassable

owing to several overturned horses, and my brother struck

into Belsize Road.

So he got out of the fury of the panic, and, skirting the

Edgware Road, reached Edgware about seven, fasting and

wearied, but well ahead of the crowd. Along the road people

were standing in the roadway, curious, wondering. He was

passed by a number of cyclists, some horsemen, and two

motor cars. A mile from Edgware the rim of the wheel broke,

and the machine became unridable. He left it by the roadside

and trudged through the village. There were shops half

opened in the main street of the place, and people crowded

on the pavement and in the doorways and windows, staring

astonished at this extraordinary procession of fugitives that

was beginning. He succeeded in getting some food at an


For a time he remained in Edgware not knowing what next

to do. The flying people increased in number. Many of them,

like my brother, seemed inclined to loiter in the place. There

was no fresh news of the invaders from Mars.

At that time the road was crowded, but as yet far from

congested. Most of the fugitives at that hour were mounted

on cycles, but there were soon motor cars, hansom cabs, and

carriages hurrying along, and the dust hung in heavy clouds

along 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 my

brother to strike into a quiet lane running eastward. Presently

he came upon a stile, and, crossing it, followed a footpath

northeastward. He passed near several farmhouses and some

little places whose names he did not learn. He saw few

fugitives until, in a grass lane towards High Barnet, he hap-

pened upon two ladies who became his fellow travellers. He

came 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 little

pony-chaise in which they had been driving, while a third

with difficulty held the frightened pony's head. One of the

ladies, a short woman dressed in white, was simply screaming;

the other, a dark, slender figure, slashed at the man who

gripped her arm with a whip she held in her disengaged


My brother immediately grasped the situation, shouted, and

hurried towards the struggle. One of the men desisted and

turned towards him, and my brother, realising from his an-

tagonist's face that a fight was unavoidable, and being an

expert boxer, went into him forthwith and sent him down

against the wheel of the chaise.

It was no time for pugilistic chivalry and my brother laid

him quiet with a kick, and gripped the collar of the man

who pulled at the slender lady's arm. He heard the clatter

of hoofs, the whip stung across his face, a third antagonist

struck him between the eyes, and the man he held wrenched

himself free and made off down the lane in the direction from

which he had come.

Partly stunned, he found himself facing the man who had

held the horse's head, and became aware of the chaise

receding 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 a

blow in the face. Then, realising that he was deserted, he

dodged round and made off down the lane after the chaise,

with the sturdy man close behind him, and the fugitive, who

had turned now, following remotely.

Suddenly he stumbled and fell; his immediate pursuer

went headlong, and he rose to his feet to find himself with

a couple of antagonists again. He would have had little

chance against them had not the slender lady very pluckily

pulled up and returned to his help. It seems she had had a

revolver all this time, but it had been under the seat when

she and her companion were attacked. She fired at six yards'

distance, narrowly missing my brother. The less courageous

of the robbers made off, and his companion followed him,

cursing his cowardice. They both stopped in sight down the

lane, where the third man lay insensible.

"Take this!" said the slender lady, and she gave my brother

her revolver.

"Go back to the chaise," said my brother, wiping the blood

from his split lip.

She turned without a word--they were both panting--and

they went back to where the lady in white struggled to hold

back the frightened pony.

The robbers had evidently had enough of it. When my

brother looked again they were retreating.

"I'll sit here," said my brother, "if I may"; and he got upon

the empty front seat. The lady looked over her shoulder.

"Give me the reins," she said, and laid the whip along the

pony's side. In another moment a bend in the road hid

the 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 of

a surgeon living at Stanmore, who had come in the small

hours from a dangerous case at Pinner, and heard at some

railway station on his way of the Martian advance. He had

hurried home, roused the women--their servant had left them

two days before--packed some provisions, put his revolver

under the seat--luckily for my brother--and told them to

drive on to Edgware, with the idea of getting a train there.

He stopped behind to tell the neighbours. He would overtake

them, he said, at about half past four in the morning, and

now it was nearly nine and they had seen nothing of him.

They could not stop in Edgware because of the growing

traffic through the place, and so they had come into this

side lane.

That was the story they told my brother in fragments when

presently they stopped again, nearer to New Barnet. He

promised 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 weapon

strange to him--in order to give them confidence.

They made a sort of encampment by the wayside, and the

pony became happy in the hedge. He told them of his own

escape out of London, and all that he knew of these Martians

and their ways. The sun crept higher in the sky, and after a

time their talk died out and gave place to an uneasy state of

anticipation. Several wayfarers came along the lane, and of

these my brother gathered such news as he could. Every

broken answer he had deepened his impression of the great

disaster that had come on humanity, deepened his persuasion

of the immediate necessity for prosecuting this flight. He

urged 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 in

gold, besides a five-pound note, and suggested that with that

they might get upon a train at St. Albans or New Barnet. My

brother thought that was hopeless, seeing the fury of the

Londoners to crowd upon the trains, and broached his own

idea of striking across Essex towards Harwich and thence

escaping from the country altogether.

Mrs. Elphinstone--that was the name of the woman in

white--would listen to no reasoning, and kept calling upon

"George"; but her sister-in-law was astonishingly quiet and

deliberate, and at last agreed to my brother's suggestion. So,

designing to cross the Great North Road, they went on

towards Barnet, my brother leading the pony to save it as

much as possible.

As the sun crept up the sky the day became excessively

hot, and under foot a thick, whitish sand grew burning and

blinding, so that they travelled only very slowly. The hedges

were grey with dust. And as they advanced towards Barnet

a tumultuous murmuring grew stronger.

They began to meet more people. For the most part these

were staring before them, murmuring indistinct questions,

jaded, haggard, unclean. One man in evening dress passed

them on foot, his eyes on the ground. They heard his voice,

and, looking back at him, saw one hand clutched in his hair

and the other beating invisible things. His paroxysm of rage

over, he went on his way without once looking back.

As my brother's party went on towards the crossroads to

the south of Barnet they saw a woman approaching the road

across some fields on their left, carrying a child and with two

other children; and then passed a man in dirty black, with a

thick stick in one hand and a small portmanteau in the other.

Then round the corner of the lane, from between the villas

that guarded it at its confluence with the high road, came a

little cart drawn by a sweating black pony and driven by a

sallow youth in a bowler hat, grey with dust. There were

three 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 would

if he turned to the left, he whipped up at once without the

formality of thanks.

My brother noticed a pale grey smoke or haze rising among

the houses in front of them, and veiling the white

facade of a terrace beyond the road that appeared

between the backs of the villas. Mrs. Elphinstone suddenly cried

out at a number of tongues of smoky red flame leaping up above

the houses in front of them against the hot, blue sky. The

tumultuous noise resolved itself now into the disorderly mingling

of many voices, the gride of many wheels, the creaking of

waggons, and the staccato of hoofs. The lane came round sharply

not fifty yards from the crossroads.

"Good heavens!" cried Mrs. Elphinstone. "What is this

you 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 on

another. A great bank of dust, white and luminous in the

blaze of the sun, made everything within twenty feet of the

ground grey and indistinct and was perpetually renewed by

the hurrying feet of a dense crowd of horses and of men and

women on foot, and by the wheels of vehicles of every de-


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

It was like riding into the smoke of a fire to approach the

meeting point of the lane and road; the crowd roared like

a fire, and the dust was hot and pungent. And, indeed, a

little way up the road a villa was burning and sending rolling

masses of black smoke across the road to add to the con-


Two men came past them. Then a dirty woman, carrying a

heavy bundle and weeping. A lost retriever dog, with hanging

tongue, circled dubiously round them, scared and wretched,

and fled at my brother's threat.

So much as they could see of the road Londonward

between the houses to the right was a tumultuous stream of

dirty, hurrying people, pent in between the villas on either

side; the black heads, the crowded forms, grew into distinct-

ness as they rushed towards the corner, hurried past, and

merged their individuality again in a receding multitude that

was 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. My

brother stood at the pony's head. Irresistibly attracted, he

advanced slowly, pace by pace, down the lane.

Edgware had been a scene of confusion, Chalk Farm a

riotous 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 their

backs to the group in the lane. Along the margin came those

who were on foot threatened by the wheels, stumbling in the

ditches, 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 an

opportunity showed itself of doing so, sending the people

scattering 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 so

that my brother could hear him long after he was lost to

sight in the dust. Some of the people who crowded in the

carts whipped stupidly at their horses and quarrelled with

other drivers; some sat motionless, staring at nothing with

miserable eyes; some gnawed their hands with thirst, or lay

prostrate in the bottoms of their conveyances. The horses" bits

were covered with foam, their eyes bloodshot.

There were cabs, carriages, shop cars, waggons, beyond

counting; a mail cart, a road-cleaner's cart marked "Vestry of

St. Pancras," a huge timber waggon crowded with roughs.

A brewer's dray rumbled by with its two near wheels splashed

with 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 clothes

smothered in dust, their weary faces smeared with tears. With

many of these came men, sometimes helpful, sometimes low-

ering and savage. Fighting side by side with them pushed

some weary street outcast in faded black rags, wide-eyed,

loud-voiced, and foul-mouthed. There were sturdy workmen

thrusting their way along, wretched, unkempt men, clothed

like clerks or shopmen, struggling spasmodically; a wounded

soldier my brother noticed, men dressed in the clothes of

railway porters, one wretched creature in a nightshirt with

a coat thrown over it.

But varied as its composition was, certain things all that

host had in common. There were fear and pain on their faces,

and fear behind them. A tumult up the road, a quarrel for a

place in a waggon, sent the whole host of them quickening

their pace; even a man so scared and broken that his knees

bent under him was galvanised for a moment into renewed

activity. The heat and dust had already been at work upon

this multitude. Their skins were dry, their lips black and

cracked. They were all thirsty, weary, and footsore. And amid

the various cries one heard disputes, reproaches, groans of

weariness and fatigue; the voices of most of them were

hoarse and weak. Through it all ran a refrain:

"Way! Way! The Martians are coming!"

Few stopped and came aside from that flood. The lane

opened slantingly into the main road with a narrow opening,

and had a delusive appearance of coming from the direction

of London. Yet a kind of eddy of people drove into its mouth;

weaklings elbowed out of the stream, who for the most part

rested but a moment before plunging into it again. A little

way down the lane, with two friends bending over him, lay

a man with a bare leg, wrapped about with bloody rags. He

was a lucky man to have friends.

A little old man, with a grey military moustache and a

filthy black frock coat, limped out and sat down beside the

trap, removed his boot--his sock was blood-stained--shook

out a pebble, and hobbled on again; and then a little girl of

eight or nine, all alone, threw herself under the hedge close

by my brother, weeping.

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

My brother woke from his torpor of astonishment and lifted

her up, speaking gently to her, and carried her to Miss Elphin-

stone. So soon as my brother touched her she became quite

still, as if frightened.

"Ellen!" shrieked a woman in the crowd, with tears in her

voice--"Ellen!" And the child suddenly darted away from

my brother, crying "Mother!"

"They are coming," said a man on horseback, riding past

along the lane.

"Out of the way, there!" bawled a coachman, towering

high; and my brother saw a closed carriage turning into the


The people crushed back on one another to avoid the

horse. My brother pushed the pony and chaise back into

the hedge, and the man drove by and stopped at the turn

of 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 through

the dust that two men lifted out something on a white

stretcher and put it gently on the grass beneath the privet


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 the

houses. We have no water. I dare not leave my people."

The man pushed against the crowd towards the gate of the

corner house.

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

coming! Go on!"

Then my brother's attention was distracted by a bearded,

eagle-faced man lugging a small handbag, which split even

as my brother's eyes rested on it and disgorged a mass of

sovereigns that seemed to break up into separate coins as it

struck the ground. They rolled hither and thither among the

struggling feet of men and horses. The man stopped and

looked stupidly at the heap, and the shaft of a cab struck

his shoulder and sent him reeling. He gave a shriek and

dodged 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 both

hands open, upon the heap of coins, and began thrusting

handfuls in his pocket. A horse rose close upon him, and in

another moment, half rising, he had been borne down under

the horse's hoofs.

"Stop!" screamed my brother, and pushing a woman out

of his way, tried to clutch the bit of the horse.

Before he could get to it, he heard a scream under the

wheels, and saw through the dust the rim passing over the

poor wretch's back. The driver of the cart slashed his whip

at my brother, who ran round behind the cart. The multi-

tudinous shouting confused his ears. The man was writhing

in the dust among his scattered money, unable to rise, for

the wheel had broken his back, and his lower limbs lay limp

and 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 the

man's collar with his free hand, my brother lugged him

sideways. But he still clutched after his money, and regarded

my brother fiercely, hammering at his arm with a handful

of gold. "Go on! Go on!" shouted angry voices behind.

"Way! Way!"

There was a smash as the pole of a carriage crashed into

the cart that the man on horseback stopped. My brother

looked up, and the man with the gold twisted his head round

and bit the wrist that held his collar. There was a concussion,

and the black horse came staggering sideways, and the

carthorse pushed beside it. A hoof missed my brother's foot

by a hair's breadth. He released his grip on the fallen man

and jumped back. He saw anger change to terror on the face

of the poor wretch on the ground, and in a moment he was

hidden and my brother was borne backward and carried past

the entrance of the lane, and had to fight hard in the torrent

to recover it.

He saw Miss Elphinstone covering her eyes, and a little

child, with all a child's want of sympathetic imagination,

staring with dilated eyes at a dusty something that lay black

and still, ground and crushed under the rolling wheels. "Let

us go back!" he shouted, and began turning the pony round.

"We cannot cross this--hell," he said and they went back a

hundred yards the way they had come, until the fighting

crowd was hidden. As they passed the bend in the lane my

brother saw the face of the dying man in the ditch under

the privet, deadly white and drawn, and shining with perspi-

ration. The two women sat silent, crouching in their seat

and shivering.

Then beyond the bend my brother stopped again. Miss

Elphinstone was white and pale, and her sister-in-law sat

weeping, too wretched even to call upon "George." My

brother was horrified and perplexed. So soon as they had

retreated he realised how urgent and unavoidable it was to

attempt this crossing. He turned to Miss Elphinstone, sud-

denly resolute.

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


For the second time that day this girl proved her quality.

To force their way into the torrent of people, my brother

plunged into the traffic and held back a cab horse, while

she drove the pony across its head. A waggon locked wheels

for a moment and ripped a long splinter from the chaise.

In another moment they were caught and swept forward by

the stream. My brother, with the cabman's whip marks red

across his face and hands, scrambled into the chaise and

took the reins from her.

"Point the revolver at the man behind," he said, giving it

to 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 the

right across the road. But once in the stream he seemed to

lose volition, to become a part of that dusty rout. They swept

through Chipping Barnet with the torrent; they were nearly

a mile beyond the centre of the town before they had fought

across to the opposite side of the way. It was din and con-

fusion indescribable; but in and beyond the town the road

forks repeatedly, and this to some extent relieved the stress.

They struck eastward through Hadley, and there on either

side of the road, and at another place farther on they came

upon a great multitude of people drinking at the stream,

some fighting to come at the water. And farther on, from a

lull near East Barnet, they saw two trains running slowly

one after the other without signal or order--trains swarming

with people, with men even among the coals behind the

engines--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 rendered

the central termini impossible.

Near this place they halted for the rest of the afternoon,

for the violence of the day had already utterly exhausted all

three of them. They began to suffer the beginnings of hunger;

the night was cold, and none of them dared to sleep. And in

the evening many people came hurrying along the road near-

by their stopping place, fleeing from unknown dangers before

them, and going in the direction from which my brother

had come.







Had the Martians aimed only at destruction, they might

on Monday have annihilated the entire population of London,

as it spread itself slowly through the home counties. Not

only along the road through Barnet, but also through Edgware

and Waltham Abbey, and along the roads eastward to South-

end and Shoeburyness, and south of the Thames to Deal and

Broadstairs, poured the same frantic rout. If one could have

hung that June morning in a balloon in the blazing blue

above London every northward and eastward road running out

of the tangled maze of streets would have seemed stippled

black with the streaming fugitives, each dot a human agony

of terror and physical distress. I have set forth at length in

the last chapter my brother's account of the road through

Chipping Barnet, in order that my readers may realise how

that swarming of black dots appeared to one of those con-

cerned. Never before in the history of the world had such a

mass of human beings moved and suffered together. The

legendary hosts of Goths and Huns, the hugest armies Asia

has ever seen, would have been but a drop in that current.

And this was no disciplined march; it was a stampede--a

stampede gigantic and terrible--without order and without

a goal, six million people unarmed and unprovisioned, driving

headlong. It was the beginning of the rout of civilisation, of

the massacre of mankind.

Directly below him the balloonist would have seen the

network of streets far and wide, houses, churches, squares,

crescents, gardens--already derelict--spread out like a huge

map, and in the southward BLOTTED. Over Ealing, Richmond,

Wimbledon, it would have seemed as if some monstrous pen

had flung ink upon the chart. Steadily, incessantly, each black

splash grew and spread, shooting out ramifications this way

and that, now banking itself against rising ground, now

pouring swiftly over a crest into a new-found valley, exactly

as a gout of ink would spread itself upon blotting paper.

And beyond, over the blue hills that rise southward of

the river, the glittering Martians went to and fro, calmly

and methodically spreading their poison cloud over this

patch of country and then over that, laying it again with

their steam jets when it had served its purpose, and taking

possession of the conquered country. They do not seem to

have aimed at extermination so much as at complete demoral-

isation and the destruction of any opposition. They exploded

any 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 the

field of their operations, and did not come beyond the central

part of London all that day. It is possible that a very con-

siderable number of people in London stuck to their houses

through Monday morning. Certain it is that many died at

home suffocated by the Black Smoke.

Until about midday the Pool of London was an astonishing

scene. Steamboats and shipping of all sorts lay there, tempted

by the enormous sums of money offered by fugitives, and it

is said that many who swam out to these vessels were thrust

off with boathooks and drowned. About one o'clock in the

afternoon the thinning remnant of a cloud of the black vapour

appeared between the arches of Blackfriars Bridge. At that

the Pool became a scene of mad confusion, fighting, and

collision, and for some time a multitude of boats and barges

jammed in the northern arch of the Tower Bridge, and the

sailors and lightermen had to fight savagely against the

people who swarmed upon them from the riverfront. People

were actually clambering down the piers of the bridge from


When, an hour later, a Martian appeared beyond the

Clock 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 watch

beside the women in the chaise in a meadow, saw the green

flash of it far beyond the hills. On Tuesday the little party,

still set upon getting across the sea, made its way through

the swarming country towards Colchester. The news that the

Martians were now in possession of the whole of London was

confirmed. They had been seen at Highgate, and even, it

was said, at Neasden. But they did not come into my brother's

view until the morrow.

That day the scattered multitudes began to realise the

urgent need of provisions. As they grew hungry the rights

of property ceased to be regarded. Farmers were out to

defend their cattle-sheds, granaries, and ripening root crops

with arms in their hands. A number of people now, like my

brother, 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, whose

knowledge of the Black Smoke came by hearsay. He heard

that about half the members of the government had gathered

at Birmingham, and that enormous quantities of high explo-

sives were being prepared to be used in automatic mines

across the Midland counties.

He was also told that the Midland Railway Company had

replaced the desertions of the first day's panic, had resumed

traffic, and was running northward trains from St. Albans

to relieve the congestion of the home counties. There was

also a placard in Chipping Ongar announcing that large

stores of flour were available in the northern towns and that

within twenty-four hours bread would be distributed among

the starving people in the neighbourhood. But this intelli-

gence did not deter him from the plan of escape he had

formed, and the three pressed eastward all day, and heard

no more of the bread distribution than this promise. Nor, as

a matter of fact, did anyone else hear more of it. That night

fell the seventh star, falling upon Primrose Hill. It fell while

Miss Elphinstone was watching, for she took that duty alter-

nately with my brother. She saw it.

On Wednesday the three fugitives--they had passed the

night in a field of unripe wheat--reached Chelmsford, and

there a body of the inhabitants, calling itself the Committee

of Public Supply, seized the pony as provisions, and would

give nothing in exchange for it but the promise of a share

in it the next day. Here there were rumours of Martians at

Epping, and news of the destruction of Waltham Abbey

Powder Mills in a vain attempt to blow up one of the invaders.

People were watching for Martians here from the church

towers. My brother, very luckily for him as it chanced, pre-

ferred to push on at once to the coast rather than wait for

food, 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 furtive

plunderers hunting for food. Near Tillingham they suddenly

came in sight of the sea, and the most amazing crowd of

shipping 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 Walton

and Clacton, and afterwards to Foulness and Shoebury, to

bring off the people. They lay in a huge sickle-shaped curve

that vanished into mist at last towards the Naze. Close inshore

was 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, a

multitude of filthy colliers, trim merchantmen, cattle ships,

passenger boats, petroleum tanks, ocean tramps, an old white

transport even, neat white and grey liners from Southampton

and Hamburg; and along the blue coast across the Blackwater

my brother could make out dimly a dense swarm of boats

chaffering with the people on the beach, a swarm which also

extended up the Blackwater almost to Maldon.

About a couple of miles out lay an ironclad, very low in

the water, almost, to my brother's perception, like a water-

logged ship. This was the ram THUNDER CHILD. It was the

only warship in sight, but far away to the right over the

smooth surface of the sea--for that day there was a dead

calm--lay a serpent of black smoke to mark the next iron-

clads of the Channel Fleet, which hovered in an extended

line, steam up and ready for action, across the Thames estuary

during the course of the Martian conquest, vigilant and yet

powerless to prevent it.

At the sight of the sea, Mrs. Elphinstone, in spite of the

assurances of her sister-in-law, gave way to panic. She had

never been out of England before, she would rather die than

trust herself friendless in a foreign country, and so forth.

She seemed, poor woman, to imagine that the French and the

Martians might prove very similar. She had been growing

increasingly hysterical, fearful, and depressed during the two

days' journeyings. Her great idea was to return to Stanmore.

Things had been always well and safe at Stanmore. They

would find George at Stanmore.

It was with the greatest difficulty they could get her down

to the beach, where presently my brother succeeded in

attracting the attention of some men on a paddle steamer

from the Thames. They sent a boat and drove a bargain for

thirty-six pounds for the three. The steamer was going, these

men said, to Ostend.

It was about two o'clock when my brother, having paid

their fares at the gangway, found himself safely aboard the

steamboat with his charges. There was food aboard, albeit

at exorbitant prices, and the three of them contrived to eat

a 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 securing

a passage, but the captain lay off the Blackwater until five

in the afternoon, picking up passengers until the seated decks

were even dangerously crowded. He would probably have

remained longer had it not been for the sound of guns that

began about that hour in the south. As if in answer, the

ironclad seaward fired a small gun and hoisted a string of

flags. A jet of smoke sprang out of her funnels.

Some of the passengers were of opinion that this firing

came from Shoeburyness, until it was noticed that it was

growing louder. At the same time, far away in the southeast

the masts and upperworks of three ironclads rose one after

the other out of the sea, beneath clouds of black smoke. But

my brother's attention speedily reverted to the distant firing

in the south. He fancied he saw a column of smoke rising

out of the distant grey haze.

The little steamer was already flapping her way eastward

of the big crescent of shipping, and the low Essex coast was

growing blue and hazy, when a Martian appeared, small and

faint in the remote distance, advancing along the muddy

coast from the direction of Foulness. At that the captain on

the bridge swore at the top of his voice with fear and anger

at his own delay, and the paddles seemed infected with his

terror. Every soul aboard stood at the bulwarks or on the seats

of the steamer and stared at that distant shape, higher than

the trees or church towers inland, and advancing with a

leisurely parody of a human stride.

It was the first Martian my brother had seen, and he

stood, more amazed than terrified, watching this Titan

advancing deliberately towards the shipping, wading farther

and farther into the water as the coast fell away. Then, far

away beyond the Crouch, came another, striding over some

stunted trees, and then yet another, still farther off, wading

deeply through a shiny mudflat that seemed to hang halfway

up between sea and sky. They were all stalking seaward, as

if to intercept the escape of the multitudinous vessels that

were crowded between Foulness and the Naze. In spite of

the throbbing exertions of the engines of the little paddle-

boat, and the pouring foam that her wheels flung behind

her, she receded with terrifying slowness from this ominous


Glancing northwestward, my brother saw the large crescent

of shipping already writhing with the approaching terror;

one ship passing behind another, another coming round from

broadside to end on, steamships whistling and giving off

volumes of steam, sails being let out, launches rushing hither

and thither. He was so fascinated by this and by the creeping

danger away to the left that he had no eyes for anything

seaward. And then a swift movement of the steamboat (she

had suddenly come round to avoid being run down) flung

him headlong from the seat upon which he was standing.

There was a shouting all about him, a trampling of feet, and

a cheer that seemed to be answered faintly. The steamboat

lurched and rolled him over upon his hands.

He sprang to his feet and saw to starboard, and not a

hundred yards from their heeling, pitching boat, a vast iron

bulk like the blade of a plough tearing through the water,

tossing it on either side in huge waves of foam that leaped

towards the steamer, flinging her paddles helplessly in the

air, 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 had

passed and was rushing landward. Big iron upperworks rose

out of this headlong structure, and from that twin funnels

projected and spat a smoking blast shot with fire. It was the

torpedo ram, THUNDER CHILD, steaming headlong, coming to

the rescue of the threatened shipping.

Keeping his footing on the heaving deck by clutching the

bulwarks, my brother looked past this charging leviathan at

the Martians again, and he saw the three of them now close

together, and standing so far out to sea that their tripod

supports were almost entirely submerged. Thus sunken, and

seen in remote perspective, they appeared far less formidable

than the huge iron bulk in whose wake the steamer was

pitching so helplessly. It would seem they were regarding

this 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 speed

towards them. It was probably her not firing that enabled

her to get so near the enemy as she did. They did not know

what to make of her. One shell, and they would have sent

her to the bottom forthwith with the Heat-Ray.

She was steaming at such a pace that in a minute she

seemed halfway between the steamboat and the Martians--

a diminishing black bulk against the receding horizontal

expanse 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 her

larboard side and glanced off in an inky jet that rolled away

to seaward, an unfolding torrent of Black Smoke, from which

the ironclad drove clear. To the watchers from the steamer,

low in the water and with the sun in their eyes, it seemed

as though she were already among the Martians.

They saw the gaunt figures separating and rising out of

the water as they retreated shoreward, and one of them

raised the camera-like generator of the Heat-Ray. He held it

pointing obliquely downward, and a bank of steam sprang

from the water at its touch. It must have driven through the

iron of the ship's side like a white-hot iron rod through paper.

A flicker of flame went up through the rising steam, and

then the Martian reeled and staggered. In another moment

he was cut down, and a great body of water and steam shot

high in the air. The guns of the THUNDER CHILD sounded

through the reek, going off one after the other, and one shot

splashed the water high close by the steamer, ricocheted

towards the other flying ships to the north, and smashed a

smack to matchwood.

But no one heeded that very much. At the sight of the

Martian's collapse the captain on the bridge yelled inarticu-

lately, and all the crowding passengers on the steamer's stern

shouted together. And then they yelled again. For, surging

out beyond the white tumult, drove something long and

black, the flames streaming from its middle parts, its ventila-

tors and funnels spouting fire.

She was alive still; the steering gear, it seems, was intact

and her engines working. She headed straight for a second

Martian, and was within a hundred yards of him when the

Heat-Ray came to bear. Then with a violent thud, a blinding

flash, her decks, her funnels, leaped upward. The Martian

staggered with the violence of her explosion, and in another

moment the flaming wreckage, still driving forward with the

impetus of its pace, had struck him and crumpled him up

like 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 to

end rang with frantic cheering that was taken up first by one

and then by all in the crowding multitude of ships and boats

that was driving out to sea.

The steam hung upon the water for many minutes, hiding

the third Martian and the coast altogether. And all this time

the boat was paddling steadily out to sea and away from the

fight; and when at last the confusion cleared, the drifting

bank of black vapour intervened, and nothing of the

THUNDER CHILD could be made out, nor could the third

Martian be seen. But the ironclads to seaward were now

quite close and standing in towards shore past the steamboat.

The little vessel continued to beat its way seaward, and

the ironclads receded slowly towards the coast, which was

hidden still by a marbled bank of vapour, part steam, part

black gas, eddying and combining in the strangest way. The

fleet of refugees was scattering to the northeast; several

smacks 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 went

about and passed into the thickening haze of evening south-

ward. The coast grew faint, and at last indistinguishable amid

the low banks of clouds that were gathering about the

sinking sun.

Then suddenly out of the golden haze of the sunset came

the vibration of guns, and a form of black shadows moving.

Everyone struggled to the rail of the steamer and peered into

the blinding furnace of the west, but nothing was to be dis-

tinguished clearly. A mass of smoke rose slanting and barred

the face of the sun. The steamboat throbbed on its way

through an interminable suspense.

The sun sank into grey clouds, the sky flushed and dark-

ened, the evening star trembled into sight. It was deep

twilight when the captain cried out and pointed. My brother

strained his eyes. Something rushed up into the sky out of

the greyness--rushed slantingly upward and very swiftly

into the luminous clearness above the clouds in the western

sky; something flat and broad, and very large, that swept

round in a vast curve, grew smaller, sank slowly, and van-

ished again into the grey mystery of the night. And as it

flew it rained down darkness upon the land.















In the first book I have wandered so much from my own

adventures to tell of the experiences of my brother that all

through the last two chapters I and the curate have been

lurking in the empty house at Halliford whither we fled to

escape the Black Smoke. There I will resume. We stopped

there all Sunday night and all the next day--the day of the

panic--in a little island of daylight, cut off by the Black

Smoke from the rest of the world. We could do nothing but

wait in aching inactivity during those two weary days.

My mind was occupied by anxiety for my wife. I figured

her at Leatherhead, terrified, in danger, mourning me already

as a dead man. I paced the rooms and cried aloud when I

thought of how I was cut off from her, of all that might hap-

pen to her in my absence. My cousin I knew was brave

enough for any emergency, but he was not the sort of man to

realise danger quickly, to rise promptly. What was needed

now 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 mind

sensitive and painful. I grew very weary and irritable with

the curate's perpetual ejaculations; I tired of the sight of his

selfish despair. After some ineffectual remonstrance I kept

away from him, staying in a room--evidently a children's

schoolroom--containing globes, forms, and copybooks. When

he followed me thither, I went to a box room at the top of the

house and, in order to be alone with my aching miseries,

locked myself in.

We were hopelessly hemmed in by the Black Smoke all

that day and the morning of the next. There were signs of

people in the next house on Sunday evening--a face at a

window and moving lights, and later the slamming of a door.

But I do not know who these people were, nor what became

of them. We saw nothing of them next day. The Black Smoke

drifted slowly riverward all through Monday morning, creep-

ing nearer and nearer to us, driving at last along the roadway

outside the house that hid us.

A Martian came across the fields about midday, laying

the stuff with a jet of superheated steam that hissed against

the walls, smashed all the windows it touched, and scalded

the curate's hand as he fled out of the front room. When at

last we crept across the sodden rooms and looked out again,

the country northward was as though a black snowstorm had

passed over it. Looking towards the river, we were astonished

to see an unaccountable redness mingling with the black of

the scorched meadows.

For a time we did not see how this change affected our

position, save that we were relieved of our fear of the Black

Smoke. But later I perceived that we were no longer hemmed

in, that now we might get away. So soon as I realised that

the way of escape was open, my dream of action returned. But

the curate was lethargic, unreasonable.

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

I resolved to leave him--would that I had! Wiser now for

the artilleryman's teaching, I sought out food and drink. I

had found oil and rags for my burns, and I also took a hat

and a flannel shirt that I found in one of the bedrooms. When

it was clear to him that I meant to go alone--had reconciled

myself to going alone--he suddenly roused himself to come.

And all being quiet throughout the afternoon, we started

about five o'clock, as I should judge, along the blackened

road to Sunbury.

In Sunbury, and at intervals along the road, were dead

bodies lying in contorted attitudes, horses as well as men,

overturned carts and luggage, all covered thickly with black

dust. That pall of cindery powder made me think of what I

had read of the destruction of Pompeii. We got to Hampton

Court without misadventure, our minds full of strange and

unfamiliar appearances, and at Hampton Court our eyes were

relieved to find a patch of green that had escaped the suf-

focating drift. We went through Bushey Park, with its deer

going to and fro under the chestnuts, and some men and

women hurrying in the distance towards Hampton, and so we

came 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 either

Heat-Ray or Black Smoke, and there were more people about

here, though none could give us news. For the most part

they were like ourselves, taking advantage of a lull to shift

their quarters. I have an impression that many of the houses

here were still occupied by scared inhabitants, too frightened

even for flight. Here too the evidence of a hasty rout was

abundant along the road. I remember most vividly three

smashed bicycles in a heap, pounded into the road by the

wheels of subsequent carts. We crossed Richmond Bridge

about half past eight. We hurried across the exposed bridge,

of course, but I noticed floating down the stream a number of

red masses, some many feet across. I did not know what these

were--there was no time for scrutiny--and I put a more

horrible interpretation on them than they deserved. Here again

on 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 some

way towards Barnes.

We saw in the blackened distance a group of three people

running down a side street towards the river, but otherwise it

seemed deserted. Up the hill Richmond town was burning

briskly; outside the town of Richmond there was no trace of

the Black Smoke.

Then suddenly, as we approached Kew, came a number

of people running, and the upperworks of a Martian fighting-

machine loomed in sight over the housetops, not a hundred

yards away from us. We stood aghast at our danger, and had

the Martian looked down we must immediately have perished.

We were so terrified that we dared not go on, but turned

aside and hid in a shed in a garden. There the curate

crouched, weeping silently, and refusing to stir again.

But my fixed idea of reaching Leatherhead would not let

me rest, and in the twilight I ventured out again. I went

through a shrubbery, and along a passage beside a big house

standing in its own grounds, and so emerged upon the road

towards Kew. The curate I left in the shed, but he came

hurrying after me.

That second start was the most foolhardy thing I ever did.

For it was manifest the Martians were about us. No sooner

had the curate overtaken me than we saw either the fighting-

machine we had seen before or another, far away across the

meadows in the direction of Kew Lodge. Four or five little

black figures hurried before it across the green-grey of the

field, and in a moment it was evident this Martian pursued

them. In three strides he was among them, and they ran

radiating from his feet in all directions. He used no Heat-Ray

to destroy them, but picked them up one by one. Apparently

he tossed them into the great metallic carrier which projected

behind him, much as a workman's basket hangs over his


It was the first time I realised that the Martians might have

any other purpose than destruction with defeated humanity.

We stood for a moment petrified, then turned and fled through

a gate behind us into a walled garden, fell into, rather than

found, a fortunate ditch, and lay there, scarce daring to

whisper to each other until the stars were out.

I suppose it was nearly eleven o'clock before we gathered

courage to start again, no longer venturing into the road, but

sneaking along hedgerows and through plantations, and

watching keenly through the darkness, he on the right and I

on the left, for the Martians, who seemed to be all about us.

In one place we blundered upon a scorched and blackened

area, now cooling and ashen, and a number of scattered dead

bodies of men, burned horribly about the heads and trunks

but with their legs and boots mostly intact; and of dead

horses, fifty feet, perhaps, behind a line of four ripped guns

and smashed gun carriages.

Sheen, it seemed, had escaped destruction, but the place

was silent and deserted. Here we happened on no dead,

though the night was too dark for us to see into the side

roads of the place. In Sheen my companion suddenly com-

plained of faintness and thirst, and we decided to try one of

the houses.

The first house we entered, after a little difficulty with

the window, was a small semi-detached villa, and I found

nothing eatable left in the place but some mouldy

cheese. There was, however, water to drink; and I took a

hatchet, which promised to be useful in our next house-


We then crossed to a place where the road turns towards

Mortlake. Here there stood a white house within a walled

garden, and in the pantry of this domicile we found a store

of food--two loaves of bread in a pan, an uncooked steak, and

the half of a ham. I give this catalogue so precisely because,

as it happened, we were destined to subsist upon this store

for the next fortnight. Bottled beer stood under a shelf, and

there were two bags of haricot beans and some limp lettuces.

This pantry opened into a kind of wash-up kitchen, and in

this was firewood; there was also a cupboard, in which we

found 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 dared

not strike a light--and ate bread and ham, and drank beer

out of the same bottle. The curate, who was still timorous

and restless, was now, oddly enough, for pushing on, and I

was urging him to keep up his strength by eating when the

thing happened that was to imprison us.

"It can't be midnight yet," I said, and then came a blinding

glare of vivid green light. Everything in the kitchen leaped

out, clearly visible in green and black, and vanished again.

And then followed such a concussion as I have never heard

before or since. So close on the heels of this as to seem in-

stantaneous came a thud behind me, a clash of glass, a crash

and rattle of falling masonry all about us, and the plaster of

the ceiling came down upon us, smashing into a multitude

of fragments upon our heads. I was knocked headlong across

the floor against the oven handle and stunned. I was insensible

for a long time, the curate told me, and when I came to we

were in darkness again, and he, with a face wet, as I found

afterwards, with blood from a cut forehead, was dabbing

water 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 smashed

crockery from the dresser. You can't possibly move without

making a noise, and I fancy THEY are outside."

We both sat quite silent, so that we could scarcely hear

each other breathing. Everything seemed deadly still, but

once something near us, some plaster or broken brickwork,

slid down with a rumbling sound. Outside and very near was

an intermittent, metallic rattle.

"That!" said the curate, when presently it happened


"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 was

inclined to think one of the great fighting-machines had

stumbled against the house, as I had seen one stumble against

the tower of Shepperton Church.

Our situation was so strange and incomprehensible that for

three or four hours, until the dawn came, we scarcely moved.

And then the light filtered in, not through the window, which

remained black, but through a triangular aperture between

a beam and a heap of broken bricks in the wall behind us.

The interior of the kitchen we now saw greyly for the first


The window had been burst in by a mass of garden mould,

which flowed over the table upon which we had been sitting

and lay about our feet. Outside, the soil was banked high

against the house. At the top of the window frame we could

see an uprooted drainpipe. The floor was littered with

smashed hardware; the end of the kitchen towards the house

was broken into, and since the daylight shone in there, it was

evident the greater part of the house had collapsed. Con-

trasting vividly with this ruin was the neat dresser, stained

in the fashion, pale green, and with a number of copper and

tin vessels below it, the wallpaper imitating blue and white

tiles, and a couple of coloured supplements fluttering from the

walls above the kitchen range.

As the dawn grew clearer, we saw through the gap in the

wall the body of a Martian, standing sentinel, I suppose, over

the still glowing cylinder. At the sight of that we crawled as

circumspectly as possible out of the twilight of the kitchen

into the darkness of the scullery.

Abruptly the right interpretation dawned upon my mind.

"The fifth cylinder," I whispered, "the fifth shot from

Mars, 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; I

for my part scarce dared breathe, and sat with my eyes

fixed on the faint light of the kitchen door. I could just see

the curate's face, a dim, oval shape, and his collar and cuffs.

Outside there began a metallic hammering, then a violent

hooting, and then again, after a quiet interval, a hissing like

the hissing of an engine. These noises, for the most part

problematical, continued intermittently, and seemed if any-

thing to increase in number as time wore on. Presently a

measured thudding and a vibration that made everything

about us quiver and the vessels in the pantry ring and shift,

began and continued. Once the light was eclipsed, and the

ghostly kitchen doorway became absolutely dark. For many

hours 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 of

a day before that awakening. My hunger was at a stride

so insistent that it moved me to action. I told the curate I

was going to seek food, and felt my way towards the pantry.

He made me no answer, but so soon as I began eating the

faint noise I made stirred him up and I heard him crawling

after me.








After eating we crept back to the scullery, and there I

must have dozed again, for when presently I looked round I

was alone. The thudding vibration continued with wearisome

persistence. I whispered for the curate several times, and at

last felt my way to the door of the kitchen. It was still day-

light, and I perceived him across the room, lying against

the triangular hole that looked out upon the Martians. His

shoulders were hunched, so that his head was hidden from me.

I could hear a number of noises almost like those in an

engine shed; and the place rocked with that beating thud.

Through the aperture in the wall I could see the top of a

tree touched with gold and the warm blue of a tranquil

evening sky. For a minute or so I remained watching the

curate, and then I advanced, crouching and stepping with

extreme care amid the broken crockery that littered the floor.

I touched the curate's leg, and he started so violently that

a mass of plaster went sliding down outside and fell with a

loud impact. I gripped his arm, fearing he might cry out,

and for a long time we crouched motionless. Then I turned

to see how much of our rampart remained. The detachment

of the plaster had left a vertical slit open in the debris, and

by raising myself cautiously across a beam I was able to see

out of this gap into what had been overnight a quiet suburban

roadway. Vast, indeed, was the change that we beheld.

The fifth cylinder must have fallen right into the midst

of 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 had

looked into at Woking. The earth all round it had splashed

under that tremendous impact--"splashed" is the only word

--and lay in heaped piles that hid the masses of the adjacent

houses. It had behaved exactly like mud under the violent

blow of a hammer. Our house had collapsed backward; the

front portion, even on the ground floor, had been destroyed

completely; by a chance the kitchen and scullery had escaped,

and stood buried now under soil and ruins, closed in by

tons of earth on every side save towards the cylinder. Over

that aspect we hung now on the very edge of the great

circular pit the Martians were engaged in making. The heavy

beating sound was evidently just behind us, and ever and

again a bright green vapour drove up like a veil across our


The cylinder was already opened in the centre of the pit,

and on the farther edge of the pit, amid the smashed and

gravel-heaped shrubbery, one of the great fighting-machines,

deserted by its occupant, stood stiff and tall against the

evening sky. At first I scarcely noticed the pit and the

cylinder, although it has been convenient to describe them

first, on account of the extraordinary glittering mechanism I

saw busy in the excavation, and on account of the strange

creatures that were crawling slowly and painfully across the

heaped mould near it.

The mechanism it certainly was that held my attention first.

It was one of those complicated fabrics that have since been

called handling-machines, and the study of which has already

given such an enormous impetus to terrestrial invention. As

it dawned upon me first, it presented a sort of metallic spider

with five jointed, agile legs, and with an extraordinary number

of jointed levers, bars, and reaching and clutching tentacles

about its body. Most of its arms were retracted, but with

three long tentacles it was fishing out a number of rods,

plates, and bars which lined the covering and apparently

strengthened the walls of the cylinder. These, as it ex-

tracted them, were lifted out and deposited upon a level

surface of earth behind it.

Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first

I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.

The fighting-machines were co-ordinated and animated to

an extraordinary pitch, but nothing to compare with this.

People who have never seen these structures, and have only

the ill-imagined efforts of artists or the imperfect descriptions

of such eye-witnesses as myself to go upon, scarcely realise

that living quality.

I recall particularly the illustration of one of the first

pamphlets to give a consecutive account of the war. The

artist had evidently made a hasty study of one of the

fighting-machines, and there his knowledge ended. He pre-

sented them as tilted, stiff tripods, without either flexibility

or subtlety, and with an altogether misleading monotony of

effect. The pamphlet containing these renderings had a con-

siderable vogue, and I mention them here simply to warn

the reader against the impression they may have created.

They were no more like the Martians I saw in action than

a Dutch doll is like a human being. To my mind, the pamphlet

would have been much better without them.

At first, I say, the handling-machine did not impress me

as a machine, but as a crablike creature with a glittering

integument, the controlling Martian whose delicate tentacles

actuated its movements seeming to be simply the equivalent

of the crab's cerebral portion. But then I perceived the re-

semblance of its grey-brown, shiny, leathery integument to

that of the other sprawling bodies beyond, and the true

nature of this dexterous workman dawned upon me. With

that realisation my interest shifted to those other creatures,

the real Martians. Already I had had a transient impression of

these, and the first nausea no longer obscured my observa-

tion. Moreover, I was concealed and motionless, and under

no urgency of action.

They were, I now saw, the most unearthly creatures it

is possible to conceive. They were huge round bodies--or,

rather, heads--about four feet in diameter, each body having

in front of it a face. This face had no nostrils--indeed, the

Martians do not seem to have had any sense of smell, but

it had a pair of very large dark-coloured eyes, and just

beneath this a kind of fleshy beak. In the back of this head or

body--I scarcely know how to speak of it--was the single

tight 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, almost

whiplike tentacles, arranged in two bunches of eight each.

These bunches have since been named rather aptly, by that

distinguished anatomist, Professor Howes, the HANDS. Even

as I saw these Martians for the first time they seemed to

be endeavouring to raise themselves on these hands, but of

course, with the increased weight of terrestrial conditions,

this was impossible. There is reason to suppose that on Mars

they may have progressed upon them with some facility.

The internal anatomy, I may remark here, as dissection

has since shown, was almost equally simple. The greater

part of the structure was the brain, sending enormous nerves

to the eyes, ear, and tactile tentacles. Besides this were the

bulky lungs, into which the mouth opened, and the heart

and its vessels. The pulmonary distress caused by the denser

atmosphere and greater gravitational attraction was only too

evident in the convulsive movements of the outer skin.

And this was the sum of the Martian organs. Strange as it

may seem to a human being, all the complex apparatus of

digestion, which makes up the bulk of our bodies, did not

exist 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 this

being done, as I shall mention in its place. But, squeamish

as I may seem, I cannot bring myself to describe what I

could not endure even to continue watching. Let it suffice

to say, blood obtained from a still living animal, in most

cases from a human being, was run directly by means of a

little 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 how

repulsive our carnivorous habits would seem to an intelligent


The physiological advantages of the practice of injection

are undeniable, if one thinks of the tremendous waste of

human time and energy occasioned by eating and the

digestive process. Our bodies are half made up of glands

and tubes and organs, occupied in turning heterogeneous

food into blood. The digestive processes and their reaction

upon the nervous system sap our strength and colour our

minds. Men go happy or miserable as they have healthy or

unhealthy livers, or sound gastric glands. But the Martians

were lifted above all these organic fluctuations of mood and


Their undeniable preference for men as their source of

nourishment is partly explained by the nature of the remains

of the victims they had brought with them as provisions

from Mars. These creatures, to judge from the shrivelled

remains that have fallen into human hands, were bipeds

with flimsy, silicious skeletons (almost like those of the

silicious sponges) and feeble musculature, standing about

six feet high and having round, erect heads, and large eyes

in flinty sockets. Two or three of these seem to have been

brought in each cylinder, and all were killed before earth

was reached. It was just as well for them, for the mere

attempt to stand upright upon our planet would have broken

every bone in their bodies.

And while I am engaged in this description, I may add

in this place certain further details which, although they

were not all evident to us at the time, will enable the

reader who is unacquainted with them to form a clearer

picture of these offensive creatures.

In three other points their physiology differed strangely

from ours. Their organisms did not sleep, any more than the

heart of man sleeps. Since they had no extensive muscular

mechanism to recuperate, that periodical extinction was

unknown to them. They had little or no sense of fatigue, it

would seem. On earth they could never have moved without

effort, yet even to the last they kept in action. In twenty-four

hours they did twenty-four hours of work, as even on earth

is 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 therefore

without any of the tumultuous emotions that arise from that

difference among men. A young Martian, there can now be

no dispute, was really born upon earth during the war, and

it was found attached to its parent, partially BUDDED off, just

as young lilybulbs bud off, or like the young animals in the

fresh-water polyp.

In man, in all the higher terrestrial animals, such a method

of increase has disappeared; but even on this earth it was

certainly the primitive method. Among the lower animals,

up even to those first cousins of the vertebrated animals, the

Tunicates, the two processes occur side by side, but finally

the sexual method superseded its competitor altogether. On

Mars, however, just the reverse has apparently been the case.

It is worthy of remark that a certain speculative writer of

quasi-scientific repute, writing long before the Martian inva-

sion, did forecast for man a final structure not unlike the

actual Martian condition. His prophecy, I remember, appeared

in November or December, 1893, in a long-defunct publica-

tion, the PALL MALL BUDGET, and I recall a caricature of it in

a pre-Martian periodical called PUNCH. He pointed out--

writing in a foolish, facetious tone--that the perfection of

mechanical appliances must ultimately supersede limbs; the

perfection of chemical devices, digestion; that such organs

as hair, external nose, teeth, ears, and chin were no longer

essential parts of the human being, and that the tendency

of natural selection would lie in the direction of their steady

diminution through the coming ages. The brain alone re-

mained a cardinal necessity. Only one other part of the

body had a strong case for survival, and that was the hand,

"teacher and agent of the brain." While the rest of the body

dwindled, the hands would grow larger.

There is many a true word written in jest, and here in

the Martians we have beyond dispute the actual accomplish-

ment of such a suppression of the animal side of the organism

by the intelligence. To me it is quite credible that the

Martians may be descended from beings not unlike ourselves,

by a gradual development of brain and hands (the latter

giving rise to the two bunches of delicate tentacles at last)

at the expense of the rest of the body. Without the body the

brain 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 these

creatures differed from ours was in what one might have

thought a very trivial particular. Micro-organisms, which

cause so much disease and pain on earth, have either never

appeared upon Mars or Martian sanitary science eliminated

them ages ago. A hundred diseases, all the fevers and con-

tagions of human life, consumption, cancers, tumours and

such morbidities, never enter the scheme of their life. And

speaking of the differences between the life on Mars and

terrestrial life, I may allude here to the curious suggestions

of the red weed.

Apparently the vegetable kingdom in Mars, instead of

having green for a dominant colour, is of a vivid blood-red

tint. At any rate, the seeds which the Martians (intentionally

or accidentally) brought with them gave rise in all cases to

red-coloured growths. Only that known popularly as the red

weed, however, gained any footing in competition with

terrestrial forms. The red creeper was quite a transitory

growth, and few people have seen it growing. For a time,

however, the red weed grew with astonishing vigour and

luxuriance. It spread up the sides of the pit by the third or

fourth day of our imprisonment, and its cactus-like branches

formed a carmine fringe to the edges of our triangular

window. And afterwards I found it broadcast throughout the

country, and especially wherever there was a stream of water.

The Martians had what appears to have been an auditory

organ, a single round drum at the back of the head-body,

and eyes with a visual range not very different from ours

except that, according to Philips, blue and violet were as

black to them. It is commonly supposed that they com-

municated by sounds and tentacular gesticulations; this is

asserted, for instance, in the able but hastily compiled

pamphlet (written evidently by someone not an eye-witness

of Martian actions) to which I have already alluded, and

which, so far, has been the chief source of information con-

cerning them. Now no surviving human being saw so much

of the Martians in action as I did. I take no credit to myself

for an accident, but the fact is so. And I assert that I watched

them 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 sound

or gesture. Their peculiar hooting invariably preceded feed-

ing; it had no modulation, and was, I believe, in no sense

a signal, but merely the expiration of air preparatory to the

suctional operation. I have a certain claim to at least an

elementary knowledge of psychology, and in this matter I

am convinced--as firmly as I am convinced of anything--that

the Martians interchanged thoughts without any physical

intermediation. And I have been convinced of this in spite

of strong preconceptions. Before the Martian invasion, as an

occasional reader here or there may remember, I had written

with some little vehemence against the telepathic theory.

The Martians wore no clothing. Their conceptions of orna-

ment and decorum were necessarily different from ours; and

not only were they evidently much less sensible of changes of

temperature than we are, but changes of pressure do not

seem to have affected their health at all seriously. Yet though

they wore no clothing, it was in the other artificial additions

to their bodily resources that their great superiority over man

lay. We men, with our bicycles and road-skates, our Lilienthal

soaring-machines, our guns and sticks and so forth, are just

in the beginning of the evolution that the Martians have

worked out. They have become practically mere brains,

wearing different bodies according to their needs just as

men wear suits of clothes and take a bicycle in a hurry or an

umbrella in the wet. And of their appliances, perhaps nothing

is more wonderful to a man than the curious fact that what

is the dominant feature of almost all human devices in

mechanism is absent--the WHEEL is absent; among all the

things they brought to earth there is no trace or suggestion

of their use of wheels. One would have at least expected it

in locomotion. And in this connection it is curious to remark

that even on this earth Nature has never hit upon the wheel,

or has preferred other expedients to its development. And

not only did the Martians either not know of (which is

incredible), or abstain from, the wheel, but in their apparatus

singularly little use is made of the fixed pivot or relatively

fixed pivot, with circular motions thereabout confined to one

plane. 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 matter

of detail, it is remarkable that the long leverages of their

machines are in most cases actuated by a sort of sham

musculature of the disks in an elastic sheath; these disks

become polarised and drawn closely and powerfully together

when traversed by a current of electricity. In this way the

curious parallelism to animal motions, which was so striking

and disturbing to the human beholder, was attained. Such

quasi-muscles abounded in the crablike handling-machine

which, on my first peeping out of the slit, I watched un-

packing the cylinder. It seemed infinitely more alive than the

actual Martians lying beyond it in the sunset light, panting,

stirring ineffectual tentacles, and moving feebly after their

vast journey across space.

While I was still watching their sluggish motions in the

sunlight, and noting each strange detail of their form, the

curate reminded me of his presence by pulling violently at

my arm. I turned to a scowling face, and silent, eloquent

lips. He wanted the slit, which permitted only one of us

to peep through; and so I had to forego watching them for a

time while he enjoyed that privilege.

When I looked again, the busy handling-machine had

already put together several of the pieces of apparatus it

had taken out of the cylinder into a shape having an un-

mistakable likeness to its own; and down on the left a busy

little digging mechanism had come into view, emitting jets

of green vapour and working its way round the pit, excavating

and embanking in a methodical and discriminating manner.

This it was which had caused the regular beating noise, and

the rhythmic shocks that had kept our ruinous refuge quiver-

ing. It piped and whistled as it worked. So far as I could

see, the thing was without a directing Martian at all.








The arrival of a second fighting-machine drove us from

our peephole into the scullery, for we feared that from his

elevation the Martian might see down upon us behind our

barrier. At a later date we began to feel less in danger of

their eyes, for to an eye in the dazzle of the sunlight outside

our refuge must have been blank blackness, but at first the

slightest suggestion of approach drove us into the scullery

in heart-throbbing retreat. Yet terrible as was the danger we

incurred, the attraction of peeping was for both of us irresist-

ible. And I recall now with a sort of wonder that, in spite

of the infinite danger in which we were between starvation

and a still more terrible death, we could yet struggle bitterly

for that horrible privilege of sight. We would race across the

kitchen in a grotesque way between eagerness and the dread

of 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 dispositions

and habits of thought and action, and our danger and isolation

only 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 monologue

vitiated every effort I made to think out a line of action, and

drove me at times, thus pent up and intensified, almost to the

verge of craziness. He was as lacking in restraint as a silly

woman. He would weep for hours together, and I verily

believe that to the very end this spoiled child of life thought

his weak tears in some way efficacious. And I would sit in

the darkness unable to keep my mind off him by reason of

his importunities. He ate more than I did, and it was in vain

I pointed out that our only chance of life was to stop in the

house until the Martians had done with their pit, that in that

long patience a time might presently come when we should

need food. He ate and drank impulsively in heavy meals at

long 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 as

I loathed doing it, to resort to threats, and at last to blows.

That brought him to reason for a time. But he was one of

those weak creatures, void of pride, timorous, anaemic, hateful

souls, 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. Those

who have escaped the dark and terrible aspects of life will

find my brutality, my flash of rage in our final tragedy, easy

enough to blame; for they know what is wrong as well as

any, but not what is possible to tortured men. But those who

have been under the shadow, who have gone down at last to

elemental things, will have a wider charity.

And while within we fought out our dark, dim contest of

whispers, snatched food and drink, and gripping hands and

blows, without, in the pitiless sunlight of that terrible June,

was the strange wonder, the unfamiliar routine of the

Martians in the pit. Let me return to those first new experi-

ences of mine. After a long time I ventured back to the

peephole, to find that the new-comers had been reinforced

by the occupants of no fewer than three of the fighting-

machines. These last had brought with them certain fresh

appliances that stood in an orderly manner about the cylinder.

The second handling-machine was now completed, and was

busied in serving one of the novel contrivances the big

machine had brought. This was a body resembling a milk can

in its general form, above which oscillated a pear-shaped

receptacle, and from which a stream of white powder flowed

into a circular basin below.

The oscillatory motion was imparted to this by one tentacle

of the handling-machine. With two spatulate hands the

handling-machine was digging out and flinging masses of clay

into the pear-shaped receptacle above, while with another arm

it periodically opened a door and removed rusty and black-

ened clinkers from the middle part of the machine. Another

steely tentacle directed the powder from the basin along a

ribbed channel towards some receiver that was hidden from

me by the mound of bluish dust. From this unseen receiver a

little thread of green smoke rose vertically into the quiet air.

As I looked, the handling-machine, with a faint and musical

clinking, extended, telescopic fashion, a tentacle that had

been a moment before a mere blunt projection, until its end

was hidden behind the mound of clay. In another second it

had lifted a bar of white aluminium into sight, untarnished as

yet, and shining dazzlingly, and deposited it in a growing stack

of bars that stood at the side of the pit. Between sunset and

starlight this dexterous machine must have made more than

a hundred such bars out of the crude clay, and the mound

of bluish dust rose steadily until it topped the side of the


The contrast between the swift and complex movements

of these contrivances and the inert panting clumsiness of

their masters was acute, and for days I had to tell myself

repeatedly that these latter were indeed the living of the two


The curate had possession of the slit when the first men

were brought to the pit. I was sitting below, huddled up,

listening with all my ears. He made a sudden movement

backward, and I, fearful that we were observed, crouched

in a spasm of terror. He came sliding down the rubbish and

crept beside me in the darkness, inarticulate, gesticulating,

and for a moment I shared his panic. His gesture suggested

a resignation of the slit, and after a little while my curiosity

gave me courage, and I rose up, stepped across him, and

clambered up to it. At first I could see no reason for his

frantic behaviour. The twilight had now come, the stars were

little and faint, but the pit was illuminated by the flickering

green fire that came from the aluminium-making. The whole

picture was a flickering scheme of green gleams and shifting

rusty black shadows, strangely trying to the eyes. Over and

through it all went the bats, heeding it not at all. The

sprawling Martians were no longer to be seen, the mound

of 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. And

then, amid the clangour of the machinery, came a drifting

suspicion of human voices, that I entertained at first only

to dismiss.

I crouched, watching this fighting-machine closely, satisfy-

ing myself now for the first time that the hood did indeed

contain a Martian. As the green flames lifted I could see the

oily 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 that

hunched 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 object

came down again, I saw by the green brightness that it was

a 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 considerable

consequence. I could see his staring eyes and gleams of light

on his studs and watch chain. He vanished behind the

mound, and for a moment there was silence. And then began

a shrieking and a sustained and cheerful hooting from the


I slid down the rubbish, struggled to my feet, clapped

my hands over my ears, and bolted into the scullery. The

curate, who had been crouching silently with his arms

over his head, looked up as I passed, cried out quite loudly

at my desertion of him, and came running after me.

That night, as we lurked in the scullery, balanced between

our horror and the terrible fascination this peeping had, al-

though I felt an urgent need of action I tried in vain to

conceive some plan of escape; but afterwards, during the

second day, I was able to consider our position with great

clearness. The curate, I found, was quite incapable of dis-

cussion; this new and culminating atrocity had robbed him

of all vestiges of reason or forethought. Practically he had

already sunk to the level of an animal. But as the saying

goes, I gripped myself with both hands. It grew upon my

mind, 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 making

the pit nothing more than a temporary encampment. Or

even if they kept it permanently, they might not consider

it necessary to guard it, and a chance of escape might be

afforded us. I also weighed very carefully the possibility of

our digging a way out in a direction away from the pit,

but the chances of our emerging within sight of some

sentinel fighting-machine seemed at first too great. And I

should have had to do all the digging myself. The curate

would 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 which

I actually saw the Martians feed. After that experience I

avoided the hole in the wall for the better part of a day.

I went into the scullery, removed the door, and spent some

hours digging with my hatchet as silently as possible; but

when I had made a hole about a couple of feet deep the

loose earth collapsed noisily, and I did not dare continue. I

lost heart, and lay down on the scullery floor for a long time,

having no spirit even to move. And after that I abandoned

altogether the idea of escaping by excavation.

It says much for the impression the Martians had made

upon me that at first I entertained little or no hope of our

escape being brought about by their overthrow through any

human effort. But on the fourth or fifth night I heard a

sound like heavy guns.

It was very late in the night, and the moon was shining

brightly. The Martians had taken away the excavating-

machine, and, save for a fighting-machine that stood in

the remoter bank of the pit and a handling-machine that

was 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 the

bars 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 one

planet, the moon seemed to have the sky to herself. I heard

a dog howling, and that familiar sound it was that made

me listen. Then I heard quite distinctly a booming ex-

actly like the sound of great guns. Six distinct reports I

counted, and after a long interval six again. And that was









It was on the sixth day of our imprisonment that I

peeped for the last time, and presently found myself alone.

Instead of keeping close to me and trying to oust me from

the slit, the curate had gone back into the scullery. I was

struck by a sudden thought. I went back quickly and quietly

into the scullery. In the darkness I heard the curate drink-

ing. I snatched in the darkness, and my fingers caught a

bottle of burgundy.

For a few minutes there was a tussle. The bottle struck

the floor and broke, and I desisted and rose. We stood

panting and threatening each other. In the end I planted

myself between him and the food, and told him of my

determination to begin a discipline. I divided the food in

the pantry, into rations to last us ten days. I would not

let him eat any more that day. In the afternoon he made

a feeble effort to get at the food. I had been dozing, but

in an instant I was awake. All day and all night we sat

face to face, I weary but resolute, and he weeping and com-

plaining of his immediate hunger. It was, I know, a night

and 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 open

conflict. For two vast days we struggled in undertones and

wrestling contests. There were times when I beat and kicked

him madly, times when I cajoled and persuaded him, and

once I tried to bribe him with the last bottle of burgundy,

for there was a rain-water pump from which I could get

water. But neither force nor kindness availed; he was indeed

beyond reason. He would neither desist from his attacks on

the food nor from his noisy babbling to himself. The rudi-

mentary precautions to keep our imprisonment endurable

he would not observe. Slowly I began to realise the complete

overthrow 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 my

own mind wandered at times. I had strange and hideous

dreams whenever I slept. It sounds paradoxical, but I am

inclined to think that the weakness and insanity of the

curate 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. We

have sinned, we have fallen short. There was poverty,

sorrow; the poor were trodden in the dust, and I held my

peace. I preached acceptable folly--my God, what folly!

--when I should have stood up, though I died for it, and

called upon them to repent-repent! . . . Oppressors of the

poor and needy . . . ! The wine press of God!"

Then he would suddenly revert to the matter of the food

I withheld from him, praying, begging, weeping, at last

threatening. He began to raise his voice--I prayed him not

to. He perceived a hold on me--he threatened he would

shout and bring the Martians upon us. For a time that scared

me; but any concession would have shortened our chance

of escape beyond estimating. I defied him, although I felt

no 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 and

always frothy repentance for his vacant sham of God's

service, such as made me pity him. Then he slept awhile, and

began again with renewed strength, so loudly that I must

needs 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 must

have 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 voices

of the trumpet----"

"Shut up!" I said, rising to my feet, and in a terror lest

the 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 the

Lord 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 long


I put out my hand and felt the meat chopper hanging to

the wall. In a flash I was after him. I was fierce with fear.

Before he was halfway across the kitchen I had overtaken

him. With one last touch of humanity I turned the blade

back and struck him with the butt. He went headlong for-

ward and lay stretched on the ground. I stumbled over him

and stood panting. He lay still.

Suddenly I heard a noise without, the run and smash of

slipping plaster, and the triangular aperture in the wall was

darkened. I looked up and saw the lower surface of a

handling-machine coming slowly across the hole. One of its

gripping limbs curled amid the debris; another limb ap-

peared, feeling its way over the fallen beams. I stood

petrified, staring. Then I saw through a sort of glass plate

near the edge of the body the face, as we may call it, and

the large dark eyes of a Martian, peering, and then a long

metallic snake of tentacle came feeling slowly through the


I turned by an effort, stumbled over the curate, and

stopped at the scullery door. The tentacle was now some

way, two yards or more, in the room, and twisting and turn-

ing, with queer sudden movements, this way and that. For

a 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 opened

the door of the coal cellar, and stood there in the darkness

staring 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 started

on its movements with a faint metallic ringing, like the

movements of keys on a split-ring. Then a heavy body--I

knew too well what--was dragged across the floor of the

kitchen towards the opening. Irresistibly attracted, I crept

to the door and peeped into the kitchen. In the triangle of

bright outer sunlight I saw the Martian, in its Briareus of a

handling-machine, scrutinizing the curate's head. I thought

at once that it would infer my presence from the mark of

the blow I had given him.

I crept back to the coal cellar, shut the door, and began

to cover myself up as much as I could, and as noiselessly as

possible in the darkness, among the firewood and coal

therein. Every now and then I paused, rigid, to hear if the

Martian had thrust its tentacles through the opening again.

Then the faint metallic jingle returned. I traced it slowly

feeling over the kitchen. Presently I heard it nearer--in the

scullery, 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 intolerable

suspense 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 then

the door opened.

In the darkness I could just see the thing--like an ele-

phant's trunk more than anything else--waving towards me

and touching and examining the wall, coals, wood and ceil-

ing. It was like a black worm swaying its blind head to

and fro.

Once, even, it touched the heel of my boot. I was on the

verge of screaming; I bit my hand. For a time the tentacle

was silent. I could have fancied it had been withdrawn.

Presently, with an abrupt click, it gripped something--I

thought it had me!--and seemed to go out of the cellar again.

For a minute I was not sure. Apparently it had taken a lump

of coal to examine.

I seized the opportunity of slightly shifting my position,

which had become cramped, and then listened. I whispered

passionate prayers for safety.

Then I heard the slow, deliberate sound creeping towards

me again. Slowly, slowly it drew near, scratching against the

walls and tapping the furniture.

While I was still doubtful, it rapped smartly against the

cellar door and closed it. I heard it go into the pantry, and

the biscuit-tins rattled and a bottle smashed, and then came

a heavy bump against the cellar door. Then silence that

passed 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 tenth

day 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 my









My first act before I went into the pantry was to fasten

the door between the kitchen and the scullery. But the

pantry was empty; every scrap of food had gone. Appar-

ently, the Martian had taken it all on the previous day. At

that 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 my

strength ebbed sensibly. I sat about in the darkness of the

scullery, in a state of despondent wretchedness. My mind

ran on eating. I thought I had become deaf, for the noises

of movement I had been accustomed to hear from the pit

had ceased absolutely. I did not feel strong enough to crawl

noiselessly to the peephole, or I would have gone there.

On the twelfth day my throat was so painful that, taking

the chance of alarming the Martians, I attacked the creaking

rain-water pump that stood by the sink, and got a couple

of glassfuls of blackened and tainted rain water. I was

greatly refreshed by this, and emboldened by the fact that

no enquiring tentacle followed the noise of my pumping.

During these days, in a rambling, inconclusive way, I

thought much of the curate and of the manner of his death.

On the thirteenth day I drank some more water, and

dozed and thought disjointedly of eating and of vague im-

possible plans of escape. Whenever I dozed I dreamt of

horrible phantasms, of the death of the curate, or of sump-

tuous dinners; but, asleep or awake, I felt a keen pain that

urged me to drink again and again. The light that came into

the scullery was no longer grey, but red. To my disordered

imagination it seemed the colour of blood.

On the fourteenth day I went into the kitchen, and I was

surprised to find that the fronds of the red weed had grown

right across the hole in the wall, turning the half-light of the

place 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. Going

into the kitchen, I saw a dog's nose peering in through a

break 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 place

quietly I should be able, perhaps, to kill and eat him; and

in any case, it would be advisable to kill him, lest his actions

attracted the attention of the Martians.

I crept forward, saying "Good dog!" very softly; but he

suddenly 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 hoarse

croaking, but that was all.

For a long while I lay close to the peephole, but not daring

to move aside the red plants that obscured it. Once or twice

I heard a faint pitter-patter like the feet of the dog going

hither and thither on the sand far below me, and there were

more birdlike sounds, but that was all. At length, encouraged

by the silence, I looked out.

Except in the corner, where a multitude of crows hopped

and fought over the skeletons of the dead the Martians had

consumed, there was not a living thing in the pit.

I stared about me, scarcely believing my eyes. All the

machinery had gone. Save for the big mound of greyish-blue

powder in one corner, certain bars of aluminium in another,

the black birds, and the skeletons of the killed, the place

was merely an empty circular pit in the sand.

Slowly I thrust myself out through the red weed, and

stood upon the mound of rubble. I could see in any direction

save behind me, to the north, and neither Martians nor sign

of Martians were to be seen. The pit dropped sheerly from

my feet, but a little way along the rubbish afforded a prac-

ticable slope to the summit of the ruins. My chance of escape

had come. I began to tremble.

I hesitated for some time, and then, in a gust of desperate

resolution, and with a heart that throbbed violently, I

scrambled to the top of the mound in which I had been

buried so long.

I looked about again. To the northward, too, no Martian

was visible.

When I had last seen this part of Sheen in the daylight

it had been a straggling street of comfortable white and

red houses, interspersed with abundant shady trees. Now

I 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 dispute

their footing. The trees near me were dead and brown, but

further a network of red thread scaled the still living stems.

The neighbouring houses had all been wrecked, but none

had been burned; their walls stood, sometimes to the second

story, with smashed windows and shattered doors. The red

weed grew tumultuously in their roofless rooms. Below me

was the great pit, with the crows struggling for its refuse.

A number of other birds hopped about among the ruins. Far

away I saw a gaunt cat slink crouchingly along a wall, but

traces of men there were none.

The day seemed, by contrast with my recent confinement,

dazzlingly bright, the sky a glowing blue. A gentle breeze

kept the red weed that covered every scrap of unoccupied

ground gently swaying. And oh! the sweetness of the air!








For some time I stood tottering on the mound regardless

of my safety. Within that noisome den from which I had

emerged I had thought with a narrow intensity only of our

immediate security. I had not realised what had been hap-

pening to the world, had not anticipated this startling vision

of unfamiliar things. I had expected to see Sheen in ruins--

I found about me the landscape, weird and lurid, of another


For that moment I touched an emotion beyond the common

range of men, yet one that the poor brutes we dominate

know only too well. I felt as a rabbit might feel returning

to his burrow and suddenly confronted by the work of a

dozen busy navvies digging the foundations of a house. I

felt the first inkling of a thing that presently grew quite

clear in my mind, that oppressed me for many days, a sense

of 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 run

and 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 long

and 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, and

sometimes neck-deep, in the red weed. The density of the

weed gave me a reassuring sense of hiding. The wall was

some six feet high, and when I attempted to clamber it I

found I could not lift my feet to the crest. So I went along

by the side of it, and came to a corner and a rockwork that

enabled me to get to the top, and tumble into the garden

I coveted. Here I found some young onions, a couple of

gladiolus bulbs, and a quantity of immature carrots, all of

which I secured, and, scrambling over a ruined wall, went

on my way through scarlet and crimson trees towards Kew--

it was like walking through an avenue of gigantic blood

drops--possessed with two ideas: to get more food, and to

limp, as soon and as far as my strength permitted, out of

this 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 brown

sheet of flowing shallow water, where meadows used to be.

These fragments of nourishment served only to whet my

hunger. At first I was surprised at this flood in a hot, dry

summer, but afterwards I discovered that it was caused by

the tropical exuberance of the red weed. Directly this extraor-

dinary growth encountered water it straightway became

gigantic and of unparalleled fecundity. Its seeds were simply

poured down into the water of the Wey and Thames, and

its swiftly growing and Titanic water fronds speedily choked

both those rivers.

At Putney, as I afterwards saw, the bridge was almost

lost in a tangle of this weed, and at Richmond, too, the

Thames water poured in a broad and shallow stream across

the meadows of Hampton and Twickenham. As the water

spread the weed followed them, until the ruined villas of

the Thames valley were for a time lost in this red swamp,

whose margin I explored, and much of the desolation the

Martians had caused was concealed.

In the end the red weed succumbed almost as quickly as

it had spread. A cankering disease, due, it is believed, to the

action of certain bacteria, presently seized upon it. Now by

the action of natural selection, all terrestrial plants have

acquired a resisting power against bacterial diseases--they

never succumb without a severe struggle, but the red weed

rotted like a thing already dead. The fronds became bleached,

and then shrivelled and brittle. They broke off at the least

touch, and the waters that had stimulated their early growth

carried their last vestiges out to sea.

My first act on coming to this water was, of course, to

slake my thirst. I drank a great deal of it and, moved by an

impulse, gnawed some fronds of red weed; but they were

watery, and had a sickly, metallic taste. I found the water

was sufficiently shallow for me to wade securely, although

the red weed impeded my feet a little; but the flood evidently

got deeper towards the river, and I turned back to Mortlake.

I managed to make out the road by means of occasional

ruins of its villas and fences and lamps, and so presently I

got out of this spate and made my way to the hill going up

towards Roehampton and came out on Putney Common.

Here the scenery changed from the strange and unfamiliar

to the wreckage of the familiar: patches of ground exhibited

the devastation of a cyclone, and in a few score yards I

would come upon perfectly undisturbed spaces, houses with

their blinds trimly drawn and doors closed, as if they had

been left for a day by the owners, or as if their inhabitants

slept within. The red weed was less abundant; the tall trees

along the lane were free from the red creeper. I hunted for

food among the trees, finding nothing, and I also raided a

couple of silent houses, but they had already been broken

into and ransacked. I rested for the remainder of the day-

light in a shrubbery, being, in my enfeebled condition, too

fatigued to push on.

All this time I saw no human beings, and no signs of the

Martians. I encountered a couple of hungry-looking dogs,

but both hurried circuitously away from the advances I made

them. Near Roehampton I had seen two human skeletons--

not bodies, but skeletons, picked clean--and in the wood

by me I found the crushed and scattered bones of several

cats and rabbits and the skull of a sheep. But though I

gnawed parts of these in my mouth, there was nothing to

be got from them.

After sunset I struggled on along the road towards Putney,

where I think the Heat-Ray must have been used for some

reason. And in the garden beyond Roehampton I got a quan-

tity of immature potatoes, sufficient to stay my hunger. From

this garden one looked down upon Putney and the river. The

aspect of the place in the dusk was singularly desolate:

blackened trees, blackened, desolate ruins, and down the

hill the sheets of the flooded river, red-tinged with the weed.

And over all--silence. It filled me with indescribable terror

to think how swiftly that desolating change had come.

For a time I believed that mankind had been swept out

of existence, and that I stood there alone, the last man left

alive. Hard by the top of Putney Hill I came upon another

skeleton, with the arms dislocated and removed several

yards from the rest of the body. As I proceeded I became

more and more convinced that the extermination of mankind

was, save for such stragglers as myself, already accomplished

in this part of the world. The Martians, I thought, had gone

on and left the country desolated, seeking food elsewhere.

Perhaps even now they were destroying Berlin or Paris, or

it might be they had gone northward.







I spent that night in the inn that stands at the top of

Putney Hill, sleeping in a made bed for the first time since

my flight to Leatherhead. I will not tell the needless trouble

I had breaking into that house--afterwards I found the

front door was on the latch--nor how I ransacked every

room for food, until just on the verge of despair, in what

seemed to me to be a servant's bedroom, I found a rat-

gnawed crust and two tins of pineapple. The place had

been already searched and emptied. In the bar I afterwards

found some biscuits and sandwiches that had been over-

looked. The latter I could not eat, they were too rotten, but

the former not only stayed my hunger, but filled my pockets.

I lit no lamps, fearing some Martian might come beating

that part of London for food in the night. Before I went to

bed I had an interval of restlessness, and prowled from

window to window, peering out for some sign of these

monsters. I slept little. As I lay in bed I found myself think-

ing consecutively--a thing I do not remember to have done

since 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, by

the food I had eaten, grew clear again, and I thought.

Three things struggled for possession of my mind: the

killing of the curate, the whereabouts of the Martians, and

the possible fate of my wife. The former gave me no sensa-

tion of horror or remorse to recall; I saw it simply as a thing

done, a memory infinitely disagreeable but quite without the

quality of remorse. I saw myself then as I see myself now,

driven step by step towards that hasty blow, the creature of

a sequence of accidents leading inevitably to that. I felt no

condemnation; yet the memory, static, unprogressive, haunted

me. In the silence of the night, with that sense of the near-

ness of God that sometimes comes into the stillness and the

darkness, I stood my trial, my only trial, for that moment of

wrath and fear. I retraced every step of our conversation from

the moment when I had found him crouching beside me,

heedless of my thirst, and pointing to the fire and smoke

that streamed up from the ruins of Weybridge. We had been

incapable of co-operation--grim chance had taken no heed

of that. Had I foreseen, I should have left him at Halliford.

But I did not foresee; and crime is to foresee and do. And

I 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 his

judgment as he will.

And when, by an effort, I had set aside that picture of a

prostrate body, I faced the problem of the Martians and the

fate of my wife. For the former I had no data; I could

imagine a hundred things, and so, unhappily, I could for the

latter. And suddenly that night became terrible. I found

myself sitting up in bed, staring at the dark. I found my-

self praying that the Heat-Ray might have suddenly and

painlessly struck her out of being. Since the night of my

return from Leatherhead I had not prayed. I had uttered

prayers, fetish prayers, had prayed as heathens mutter charms

when I was in extremity; but now I prayed indeed, plead-

ing steadfastly and sanely, face to face with the darkness

of God. Strange night! Strangest in this, that so soon as dawn

had come, I, who had talked with God, crept out of the house

like a rat leaving its hiding place--a creature scarcely larger,

an inferior animal, a thing that for any passing whim of our

masters might be hunted and killed. Perhaps they also

prayed confidently to God. Surely, if we have learned noth-

ing else, this war has taught us pity--pity for those witless

souls that suffer our dominion.

The morning was bright and fine, and the eastern sky

glowed pink, and was fretted with little golden clouds. In

the road that runs from the top of Putney Hill to Wimbledon

was a number of poor vestiges of the panic torrent that must

have poured Londonward on the Sunday night after the

fighting began. There was a little two-wheeled cart inscribed

with the name of Thomas Lobb, Greengrocer, New Malden,

with a smashed wheel and an abandoned tin trunk; there

was a straw hat trampled into the now hardened mud, and

at the top of West Hill a lot of blood-stained glass about the

overturned water trough. My movements were languid, my

plans of the vaguest. I had an idea of going to Leatherhead,

though I knew that there I had the poorest chance of finding

my wife. Certainly, unless death had overtaken them sud-

denly, my cousins and she would have fled thence; but it

seemed to me I might find or learn there whither the Surrey

people had fled. I knew I wanted to find my wife, that my

heart ached for her and the world of men, but I had no

clear idea how the finding might be done. I was also sharply

aware now of my intense loneliness. From the corner I went,

under cover of a thicket of trees and bushes, to the edge of

Wimbledon Common, stretching wide and far.

That dark expanse was lit in patches by yellow gorse and

broom; there was no red weed to be seen, and as I prowled,

hesitating, on the verge of the open, the sun rose, flooding

it all with light and vitality. I came upon a busy swarm of

little frogs in a swampy place among the trees. I stopped

to look at them, drawing a lesson from their stout resolve

to live. And presently, turning suddenly, with an odd

feeling of being watched, I beheld something crouching

amid a clump of bushes. I stood regarding this. I made a

step towards it, and it rose up and became a man armed

with a cutlass. I approached him slowly. He stood silent and

motionless, regarding me.

As I drew nearer I perceived he was dressed in clothes

as dusty and filthy as my own; he looked, indeed, as though

he had been dragged through a culvert. Nearer, I distin-

guished the green slime of ditches mixing with the pale drab

of dried clay and shiny, coaly patches. His black hair fell over

his eyes, and his face was dark and dirty and sunken, so

that at first I did not recognise him. There was a red cut

across the lower part of his face.

"Stop!" he cried, when I was within ten yards of him, and

I 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 the

pit the Martians made about their cylinder. I have worked

my 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 ruins

of a house thirteen or fourteen days. I don't know what has


He looked at me doubtfully, then started, and looked with

a changed expression.

"I've no wish to stop about here," said I. "I think I shall

go to Leatherhead, for my wife was there."

He shot out a pointing finger.

"It is you," said he; "the man from Woking. And you

weren'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!" He

put 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 I

got off towards Walton across the fields. But---- It's not

sixteen days altogether--and your hair is grey." He looked

over his shoulder suddenly. "Only a rook," he said. "One

gets to know that birds have shadows these days. This is a

bit open. Let us crawl under those bushes and talk."

"Have you seen any Martians?" I said. "Since I crawled


"They've gone away across London," he said. "I guess

they've got a bigger camp there. Of a night, all over there,

Hampstead way, the sky is alive with their lights. It's like

a 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 couple

across Hammersmith way carrying something big. And the

night before last"--he stopped and spoke impressively--"it

was just a matter of lights, but it was something up in the

air. 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 the



"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 that

they 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 IS

up with humanity? I am. We're down; we're beat."

I stared. Strange as it may seem, I had not arrived at this

fact--a fact perfectly obvious so soon as he spoke. I had

still held a vague hope; rather, I had kept a lifelong habit

of mind. He repeated his words, "We're beat." They carried

absolute conviction.

"It's all over," he said. "They've lost ONE--just ONE.

And they've made their footing good and crippled the greatest

power in the world. They've walked over us. The death of

that one at Weybridge was an accident. And these are only

pioneers. They kept on coming. These green stars--I've seen

none these five or six days, but I've no doubt they're falling

somewhere every night. Nothing's to be done. We're under!

We're beat!"

I made him no answer. I sat staring before me, trying in

vain to devise some countervailing thought.

"This isn't a war," said the artilleryman. "It never was a

war, 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, until

the first cylinder came."

"How do you know?" said the artilleryman. I explained.

He thought. "Something wrong with the gun," he said. "But

what if there is? They'll get it right again. And even if

there's a delay, how can it alter the end? It's just men and

ants. 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--just

ants. 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've

been thinking. After Weybridge I went south--thinking. I

saw what was up. Most of the people were hard at it

squealing and exciting themselves. But I'm not so fond of

squealing. I've been in sight of death once or twice; I'm

not an ornamental soldier, and at the best and worst, death--

it's just death. And it's the man that keeps on thinking comes

through. I saw everyone tracking away south. Says I, "Food

won't last this way," and I turned right back. I went for

the Martians like a sparrow goes for man. All round"--he

waved 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 to

France," 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; and

the water mains and drains are empty. Well, I was telling

you what I was thinking. "Here's intelligent things," I said,

"and it seems they want us for food. First, they'll smash us

up--ships, machines, guns, cities, all the order and organisa-

tion. All that will go. If we were the size of ants we might

pull 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; at

present we're caught as we're wanted. A Martian has only to go

a few miles to get a crowd on the run. And I saw one, one day,

out by Wandsworth, picking houses to pieces and routing

among the wreckage. But they won't keep on doing that.

So soon as they've settled all our guns and ships, and

smashed our railways, and done all the things they are

doing over there, they will begin catching us systematic, pick-

ing the best and storing us in cages and things. That's what

they will start doing in a bit. Lord! They haven't begun on

us yet. Don't you see that?"

"Not begun!" I exclaimed.

"Not begun. All that's happened so far is through our not

having the sense to keep quiet--worrying them with guns

and such foolery. And losing our heads, and rushing off in

crowds to where there wasn't any more safety than where

we were. They don't want to bother us yet. They're making

their things--making all the things they couldn't bring with

them, getting things ready for the rest of their people. Very

likely that's why the cylinders have stopped for a bit, for

fear of hitting those who are here. And instead of our rush-

ing about blind, on the howl, or getting dynamite on the

chance of busting them up, we've got to fix ourselves up

according to the new state of affairs. That's how I figure it

out. It isn't quite according to what a man wants for his

species, but it's about what the facts point to. And that's the

principle 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 million

years or so; there won't be any Royal Academy of Arts, and

no nice little feeds at restaurants. If it's amusement you're

after, I reckon the game is up. If you've got any drawing-

room manners or a dislike to eating peas with a knife or

dropping aitches, you'd better chuck 'em away. They ain't

no further use."

"You mean----"

"I mean that men like me are going on living--for the

sake of the breed. I tell you, I'm grim set on living. And if

I'm not mistaken, you'll show what insides YOU'VE got, too,

before long. We aren't going to be exterminated. And I don't

mean to be caught either, and tamed and fattened and bred

like 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 know

enough. We've got to learn before we've got a chance. And

we'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's


"Great God!," cried I. "But you are a man indeed!" And

suddenly I gripped his hand.

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


"Go on," I said.

"Well, those who mean to escape their catching must get

ready. I'm getting ready. Mind you, it isn't all of us that

are 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'd

been buried. All these--the sort of people that lived in

these houses, and all those damn little clerks that used to

live down that way--they'd be no good. They haven't any

spirit in them--no proud dreams and no proud lusts; and a

man who hasn't one or the other--Lord! What is he but

funk and precautions? They just used to skedaddle off to

work--I've seen hundreds of 'em, bit of breakfast in hand,

running wild and shining to catch their little season-ticket

train, for fear they'd get dismissed if they didn't; working

at businesses they were afraid to take the trouble to under-

stand; skedaddling back for fear they wouldn't be in time

for dinner; keeping indoors after dinner for fear of the back

streets, and sleeping with the wives they married, not be-

cause they wanted them, but because they had a bit of

money that would make for safety in their one little mis-

erable skedaddle through the world. Lives insured and a

bit invested for fear of accidents. And on Sundays--fear of

the 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 so

chasing about the fields and lands on empty stomachs, they'll

come and be caught cheerful. They'll be quite glad after a

bit. They'll wonder what people did before there were

Martians to take care of them. And the bar loafers, and

mashers, and singers--I can imagine them. I can imagine

them," he said, with a sort of sombre gratification. "There'll

be any amount of sentiment and religion loose among them.

There's hundreds of things I saw with my eyes that I've

only begun to see clearly these last few days. There's lots

will take things as they are--fat and stupid; and lots will

be worried by a sort of feeling that it's all wrong, and that

they ought to be doing something. Now whenever things are

so 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-nothing

religion, very pious and superior, and submit to persecution

and the will of the Lord. Very likely you've seen the same

thing. It's energy in a gale of funk, and turned clean inside

out. These cages will be full of psalms and hymns and piety.

And those of a less simple sort will work in a bit of--what

is it?--eroticism."

He paused.

"Very likely these Martians will make pets of some of them;

train them to do tricks--who knows?--get sentimental over

the 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 the

artilleryman. "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 come

after me!" and subsided into a grim meditation.

I sat contemplating these things. I could find nothing

to bring against this man's reasoning. In the days before

the invasion no one would have questioned my intellectual

superiority to his--I, a professed and recognised writer on

philosophical themes, and he, a common soldier; and yet

he had already formulated a situation that I had scarcely


"What are you doing?" I said presently. "What plans

have you made?"

He hesitated.

"Well, it's like this," he said. "What have we to do? We

have to invent a sort of life where men can live and breed,

and be sufficiently secure to bring the children up. Yes--wait

a 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 I

mean to live is underground. I've been thinking about the

drains. Of course those who don't know drains think horrible

things; but under this London are miles and miles--hundreds

of miles--and a few days" rain and London empty will leave

them sweet and clean. The main drains are big enough and

airy 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're

not going to pick up any rubbish that drifts in. Weaklings

go 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-minded

women we want also--mothers and teachers. No lackadaisical

ladies--no blasted rolling eyes. We can't have any weak or

silly. Life is real again, and the useless and cumbersome and

mischievous have to die. They ought to die. They ought to

be willing to die. It's a sort of disloyalty, after all, to live

and taint the race. And they can't be happy. Moreover, dying's

none so dreadful; it's the funking makes it bad. And in all

those places we shall gather. Our district will be London.

And we may even be able to keep a watch, and run about

in the open when the Martians keep away. Play cricket, per-

haps. That's how we shall save the race. Eh? It's a possible

thing? But saving the race is nothing in itself. As I say,

that's only being rats. It's saving our knowledge and adding

to 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 come

in. We must go to the British Museum and pick all those

books through. Especially we must keep up our science--

learn more. We must watch these Martians. Some of us

must go as spies. When it's all working, perhaps I will. Get

caught, I mean. And the great thing is, we must leave the

Martians alone. We mustn't even steal. If we get in their

way, we clear out. We must show them we mean no harm.

Yes, I know. But they're intelligent things, and they won't

hunt us down if they have all they want, and think we're

just harmless vermin."

The artilleryman paused and laid a brown hand upon

my arm.

"After all, it may not be so much we may have to learn

before-- Just imagine this: four or five of their fighting

machines suddenly starting off--Heat-Rays right and left, and

not a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian in 'em, but men--men

who have learned the way how. It may be in my time, even--

those men. Fancy having one of them lovely things, with its

Heat-Ray wide and free! Fancy having it in control! What

would it matter if you smashed to smithereens at the end of

the run, after a bust like that? I reckon the Martians'll open

their beautiful eyes! Can't you see them, man? Can't you see

them hurrying, hurrying--puffing and blowing and hooting to

their other mechanical affairs? Something out of gear in every

case. And swish, bang, rattle, swish! Just as they are fum-

bling over it, SWISH comes the Heat-Ray, and, behold! man

has 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 both

in his forecast of human destiny and in the practicability of

his astonishing scheme, and the reader who thinks me sus-

ceptible and foolish must contrast his position, reading

steadily with all his thoughts about his subject, and mine,

crouching fearfully in the bushes and listening, distracted

by apprehension. We talked in this manner through the early

morning time, and later crept out of the bushes, and, after

scanning the sky for Martians, hurried precipitately to the

house on Putney Hill where he had made his lair. It was the

coal cellar of the place, and when I saw the work he had

spent a week upon--it was a burrow scarcely ten yards

long, which he designed to reach to the main drain on

Putney Hill--I had my first inkling of the gulf between his

dreams and his powers. Such a hole I could have dug in a

day. But I believed in him sufficiently to work with him all

that morning until past midday at his digging. We had a

garden barrow and shot the earth we removed against the

kitchen range. We refreshed ourselves with a tin of mock-

turtle soup and wine from the neighbouring pantry. I

found a curious relief from the aching strangeness of the

world in this steady labour. As we worked, I turned his

project over in my mind, and presently objections and

doubts began to arise; but I worked there all the morning,

so glad was I to find myself with a purpose again. After

working an hour I began to speculate on the distance one

had to go before the cloaca was reached, the chances we had

of missing it altogether. My immediate trouble was why

we should dig this long tunnel, when it was possible to get

into the drain at once down one of the manholes, and work

back to the house. It seemed to me, too, that the house was

inconveniently chosen, and required a needless length of

tunnel. And just as I was beginning to face these things, the

artilleryman 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 resumed

his 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 safer

by night."

"But the work?"

"Oh, one can't always work," he said, and in a flash I saw

the man plain. He hesitated, holding his spade. "We ought

to reconnoitre now," he said, "because if any come near they

may hear the spades and drop upon us unawares."

I was no longer disposed to object. We went together to

the roof and stood on a ladder peeping out of the roof door.

No Martians were to be seen, and we ventured out on the

tiles, and slipped down under shelter of the parapet.

From this position a shrubbery hid the greater portion of

Putney, but we could see the river below, a bubbly mass

of 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 with

shrivelled leaves, from amid its clusters. It was strange how

entirely dependent both these things were upon flowing

water for their propagation. About us neither had gained a

footing; laburnums, pink mays, snowballs, and trees of arbor-

vitae, rose out of laurels and hydrangeas, green and brilliant

into 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 people

who still remained in London.

"One night last week," he said, "some fools got the electric

light in order, and there was all Regent Street and the Circus

ablaze, crowded with painted and ragged drunkards, men

and women, dancing and shouting till dawn. A man who was

there told me. And as the day came they became aware of

a fighting-machine standing near by the Langham and look-

ing down at them. Heaven knows how long he had been

there. It must have given some of them a nasty turn. He

came down the road towards them, and picked up nearly a

hundred too drunk or frightened to run away."

Grotesque gleam of a time no history will ever fully


From that, in answer to my questions, he came round to

his grandiose plans again. He grew enthusiastic. He talked

so eloquently of the possibility of capturing a fighting-

machine that I more than half believed in him again. But

now that I was beginning to understand something of his

quality, I could divine the stress he laid on doing nothing

precipitately. And I noted that now there was no question

that he personally was to capture and fight the great machine.

After a time we went down to the cellar. Neither of us

seemed disposed to resume digging, and when he suggested

a meal, I was nothing loath. He became suddenly very

generous, and when we had eaten he went away and returned

with some excellent cigars. We lit these, and his optimism

glowed. He was inclined to regard my coming as a great


"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 rest

and gather strength while we may. Look at these blistered


And pursuant to this idea of a holiday, he insisted upon

playing cards after we had eaten. He taught me euchre, and

after dividing London between us, I taking the northern side

and he the southern, we played for parish points. Grotesque

and foolish as this will seem to the sober reader, it is abso-

lutely true, and what is more remarkable, I found the card

game and several others we played extremely interesting.

Strange mind of man! that, with our species upon the

edge of extermination or appalling degradation, with no clear

prospect before us but the chance of a horrible death, we

could sit following the chance of this painted pasteboard,

and playing the "joker" with vivid delight. Afterwards

he taught me poker, and I beat him at three tough chess

games. When dark came we decided to take the risk, and lit

a lamp.

After an interminable string of games, we supped, and the

artilleryman finished the champagne. We went on smoking

the cigars. He was no longer the energetic regenerator of

his species I had encountered in the morning. He was still

optimistic, but it was a less kinetic, a more thoughtful

optimism. I remember he wound up with my health, proposed

in a speech of small variety and considerable intermittence.

I took a cigar, and went upstairs to look at the lights of

which he had spoken that blazed so greenly along the

Highgate hills.

At first I stared unintelligently across the London valley.

The northern hills were shrouded in darkness; the fires near

Kensington glowed redly, and now and then an orange-red

tongue of flame flashed up and vanished in the deep blue

night. All the rest of London was black. Then, nearer, I

perceived a strange light, a pale, violet-purple fluorescent

glow, quivering under the night breeze. For a space I could

not understand it, and then I knew that it must be the red

weed from which this faint irradiation proceeded. With that

realisation my dormant sense of wonder, my sense of the

proportion of things, awoke again. I glanced from that to

Mars, red and clear, glowing high in the west, and then

gazed long and earnestly at the darkness of Hampstead and


I remained a very long time upon the roof, wondering at

the grotesque changes of the day. I recalled my mental states

from the midnight prayer to the foolish card-playing. I had a

violent revulsion of feeling. I remember I flung away the

cigar with a certain wasteful symbolism. My folly came to

me with glaring exaggeration. I seemed a traitor to my wife

and to my kind; I was filled with remorse. I resolved to leave

this strange undisciplined dreamer of great things to his drink

and gluttony, and to go on into London. There, it seemed

to me, I had the best chance of learning what the Martians

and my fellowmen were doing. I was still upon the roof when

the late moon rose.








After I had parted from the artilleryman, I went down

the hill, and by the High Street across the bridge to Fulham.

The red weed was tumultuous at that time, and nearly

choked the bridge roadway; but its fronds were already

whitened in patches by the spreading disease that presently

removed it so swiftly.

At the corner of the lane that runs to Putney Bridge

station I found a man lying. He was as black as a sweep

with the black dust, alive, but helplessly and speechlessly

drunk. I could get nothing from him but curses and furious

lunges at my head. I think I should have stayed by him but

for the brutal expression of his face.

There was black dust along the roadway from the bridge

onwards, and it grew thicker in Fulham. The streets were

horribly quiet. I got food--sour, hard, and mouldy, but quite

eatable--in a baker's shop here. Some way towards Walham

Green the streets became clear of powder, and I passed a

white terrace of houses on fire; the noise of the burning was

an absolute relief. Going on towards Brompton, the streets

were quiet again.

Here I came once more upon the black powder in the

streets and upon dead bodies. I saw altogether about a dozen

in the length of the Fulham Road. They had been dead many

days, so that I hurried quickly past them. The black powder

covered them over, and softened their outlines. One or two

had been disturbed by dogs.

Where there was no black powder, it was curiously like

a Sunday in the City, with the closed shops, the houses

locked up and the blinds drawn, the desertion, and the

stillness. In some places plunderers had been at work, but

rarely at other than the provision and wine shops. A jeweller's

window had been broken open in one place, but apparently

the thief had been disturbed, and a number of gold chains

and a watch lay scattered on the pavement. I did not trouble

to touch them. Farther on was a tattered woman in a heap

on a doorstep; the hand that hung over her knee was gashed

and bled down her rusty brown dress, and a smashed magnum

of champagne formed a pool across the pavement. She seemed

asleep, but she was dead.

The farther I penetrated into London, the profounder grew

the stillness. But it was not so much the stillness of death--

it was the stillness of suspense, of expectation. At any time

the destruction that had already singed the northwestern

borders of the metropolis, and had annihilated Ealing and

Kilburn, might strike among these houses and leave them

smoking ruins. It was a city condemned and derelict. . . .

In South Kensington the streets were clear of dead and of

black powder. It was near South Kensington that I first heard

the 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 ran

northward it grew in volume, and houses and buildings

seemed to deaden and cut it off again. It came in a full tide

down Exhibition Road. I stopped, staring towards Kensington

Gardens, wondering at this strange, remote wailing. It was as

if that mighty desert of houses had found a voice for its fear

and 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 had

half a mind to break into the Natural History Museum and

find my way up to the summits of the towers, in order to see

across the park. But I decided to keep to the ground, where

quick hiding was possible, and so went on up the Exhibition

Road. All the large mansions on each side of the road were

empty and still, and my footsteps echoed against the sides

of the houses. At the top, near the park gate, I came upon

a strange sight--a bus overturned, and the skeleton of a

horse picked clean. I puzzled over this for a time, and then

went on to the bridge over the Serpentine. The voice grew

stronger and stronger, though I could see nothing above the

housetops on the north side of the park, save a haze of smoke

to the northwest.

"Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," cried the voice, coming, as it

seemed to me, from the district about Regent's Park. The

desolating cry worked upon my mind. The mood that had

sustained me passed. The wailing took possession of me. I

found I was intensely weary, footsore, and now again hungry

and thirsty.

It was already past noon. Why was I wandering alone in

this city of the dead? Why was I alone when all London was

lying in state, and in its black shroud? I felt intolerably

lonely. My mind ran on old friends that I had forgotten for

years. I thought of the poisons in the chemists" shops, of the

liquors the wine merchants stored; I recalled the two sodden

creatures of despair, who so far as I knew, shared the city

with myself. . . .

I came into Oxford Street by the Marble Arch, and here

again were black powder and several bodies, and an evil,

ominous smell from the gratings of the cellars of some of the

houses. I grew very thirsty after the heat of my long walk.

With infinite trouble I managed to break into a public-house

and get food and drink. I was weary after eating, and went

into 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 had

routed out some biscuits and a cheese in the bar--there was

a 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 came

out at last upon Regent's Park. And as I emerged from the

top of Baker Street, I saw far away over the trees in the

clearness of the sunset the hood of the Martian giant from

which this howling proceeded. I was not terrified. I came

upon him as if it were a matter of course. I watched him for

some time, but he did not move. He appeared to be standing

and yelling, for no reason that I could discover.

I tried to formulate a plan of action. That perpetual sound

of "Ulla, ulla, ulla, ulla," confused my mind. Perhaps I was

too tired to be very fearful. Certainly I was more curious to

know the reason of this monotonous crying than afraid. I

turned back away from the park and struck into Park Road,

intending to skirt the park, went along under the shelter of

the terraces, and got a view of this stationary, howling

Martian from the direction of St. John's Wood. A couple of

hundred yards out of Baker Street I heard a yelping chorus,

and saw, first a dog with a piece of putrescent red meat in

his jaws coming headlong towards me, and then a pack of

starving mongrels in pursuit of him. He made a wide curve

to avoid me, as though he feared I might prove a fresh

competitor. 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 to

St. John's Wood station. At first I thought a house had fallen

across the road. It was only as I clambered among the ruins

that I saw, with a start, this mechanical Samson lying, with

its tentacles bent and smashed and twisted, among the ruins

it had made. The forepart was shattered. It seemed as if it

had driven blindly straight at the house, and had been over-

whelmed in its overthrow. It seemed to me then that this

might have happened by a handling-machine escaping from

the guidance of its Martian. I could not clamber among the

ruins to see it, and the twilight was now so far advanced

that the blood with which its seat was smeared, and the

gnawed gristle of the Martian that the dogs had left, were

invisible to me.

Wondering still more at all that I had seen, I pushed on

towards Primrose Hill. Far away, through a gap in the trees,

I saw a second Martian, as motionless as the first, standing

in the park towards the Zoological Gardens, and silent. A

little beyond the ruins about the smashed handling-machine

I came upon the red weed again, and found the Regent's

Canal, 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 came

like a thunderclap.

The dusky houses about me stood faint and tall and dim;

the trees towards the park were growing black. All about

me the red weed clambered among the ruins, writhing to

get above me in the dimness. Night, the mother of fear and

mystery, was coming upon me. But while that voice sounded

the solitude, the desolation, had been endurable; by virtue

of it London had still seemed alive, and the sense of life

about me had upheld me. Then suddenly a change, the

passing of something--I knew not what--and then a stillness

that could be felt. Nothing but this gaunt quiet.

London about me gazed at me spectrally. The windows

in the white houses were like the eye sockets of skulls. About

me my imagination found a thousand noiseless enemies

moving. Terror seized me, a horror of my temerity. In front

of me the road became pitchy black as though it was tarred,

and I saw a contorted shape lying across the pathway. I

could not bring myself to go on. I turned down St. John's

Wood Road, and ran headlong from this unendurable stillness

towards Kilburn. I hid from the night and the silence, until

long after midnight, in a cabmen's shelter in Harrow Road.

But before the dawn my courage returned, and while the

stars were still in the sky I turned once more towards

Regent's Park. I missed my way among the streets, and

presently saw down a long avenue, in the half-light of the

early dawn, the curve of Primrose Hill. On the summit,

towering up to the fading stars, was a third Martian, erect

and 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 I

drew nearer and the light grew, I saw that a multitude of

black birds was circling and clustering about the hood. At

that my heart gave a bound, and I began running along

the road.

I hurried through the red weed that choked St. Edmund's

Terrace (I waded breast-high across a torrent of water that

was rushing down from the waterworks towards the Albert

Road), and emerged upon the grass before the rising of the

sun. Great mounds had been heaped about the crest of the

hill, making a huge redoubt of it--it was the final and

largest place the Martians had made--and from behind

these heaps there rose a thin smoke against the sky. Against

the sky line an eager dog ran and disappeared. The thought

that had flashed into my mind grew real, grew credible. I felt

no fear, only a wild, trembling exultation, as I ran up the hill

towards the motionless monster. Out of the hood hung

lank shreds of brown, at which the hungry birds pecked and


In another moment I had scrambled up the earthen ram-

part and stood upon its crest, and the interior of the redoubt

was below me. A mighty space it was, with gigantic machines

here and there within it, huge mounds of material and strange

shelter 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 in

a row, were the Martians--DEAD!--slain by the putrefactive

and disease bacteria against which their systems were unpre-

pared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all

man'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 men

might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our

minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity

since the beginning of things--taken toll of our prehuman

ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural

selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to

no 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 no

bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly

they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work

their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were

irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to

and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths

man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against

all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten

times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in


Here and there they were scattered, nearly fifty altogether,

in that great gulf they had made, overtaken by a death that

must have seemed to them as incomprehensible as any death

could be. To me also at that time this death was incompre-

hensible. All I knew was that these things that had been alive

and so terrible to men were dead. For a moment I believed

that the destruction of Sennacherib had been repeated, that

God had repented, that the Angel of Death had slain them

in the night.

I stood staring into the pit, and my heart lightened glori-

ously, even as the rising sun struck the world to fire about

me with his rays. The pit was still in darkness; the mighty

engines, so great and wonderful in their power and com-

plexity, so unearthly in their tortuous forms, rose weird and

vague and strange out of the shadows towards the light. A

multitude of dogs, I could hear, fought over the bodies that

lay darkly in the depth of the pit, far below me. Across the

pit on its farther lip, flat and vast and strange, lay the great

flying-machine with which they had been experimenting

upon our denser atmosphere when decay and death arrested

them. Death had come not a day too soon. At the sound of

a cawing overhead I looked up at the huge fighting-machine

that would fight no more for ever, at the tattered red shreds

of flesh that dripped down upon the overturned seats on the

summit of Primrose Hill.

I turned and looked down the slope of the hill to where,

enhaloed now in birds, stood those other two Martians that

I had seen overnight, just as death had overtaken them. The

one had died, even as it had been crying to its companions;

perhaps it was the last to die, and its voice had gone on

perpetually 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 robes

of smoke can scarcely imagine the naked clearness and beauty

of the silent wilderness of houses.

Eastward, over the blackened ruins of the Albert Terrace

and the splintered spire of the church, the sun blazed daz-

zling in a clear sky, and here and there some facet in the

great wilderness of roofs caught the light and glared with

a white intensity.

Northward were Kilburn and Hampsted, blue and crowded

with houses; westward the great city was dimmed; and

southward, beyond the Martians, the green waves of Regent's

Park, the Langham Hotel, the dome of the Albert Hall, the

Imperial Institute, and the giant mansions of the Brompton

Road came out clear and little in the sunrise, the jagged

ruins of Westminster rising hazily beyond. Far away

and blue were the Surrey hills, and the towers of the

Crystal Palace glittered like two silver rods. The dome of

St. Paul's was dark against the sunrise, and injured, I saw for

the first time, by a huge gaping cavity on its western


And as I looked at this wide expanse of houses and fac-

tories and churches, silent and abandoned; as I thought of

the multitudinous hopes and efforts, the innumerable hosts

of lives that had gone to build this human reef, and of the

swift and ruthless destruction that had hung over it all; when

I realised that the shadow had been rolled back, and that

men might still live in the streets, and this dear vast dead

city of mine be once more alive and powerful, I felt a wave

of emotion that was near akin to tears.

The torment was over. Even that day the healing would

begin. 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 to

return; the pulse of life, growing stronger and stronger,

would beat again in the empty streets and pour across the

vacant squares. Whatever destruction was done, the hand

of the destroyer was stayed. All the gaunt wrecks, the black-

ened skeletons of houses that stared so dismally at the sunlit

grass of the hill, would presently be echoing with the ham-

mers of the restorers and ringing with the tapping of their

trowels. At the thought I extended my hands towards the

sky and began thanking God. In a year, thought I--in a

year. . .

With overwhelming force came the thought of myself,

of my wife, and the old life of hope and tender helpfulness

that had ceased for ever.








And now comes the strangest thing in my story. Yet,

perhaps, it is not altogether strange. I remember, clearly and

coldly and vividly, all that I did that day until the time that

I 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 learned

since that, so far from my being the first discoverer of the

Martian overthrow, several such wanderers as myself had

already discovered this on the previous night. One man--

the first--had gone to St. Martin's-le-Grand, and, while I

sheltered in the cabmen's hut, had contrived to telegraph to

Paris. 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 in

Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, at the time

when I stood upon the verge of the pit. Already men, weep-

ing with joy, as I have heard, shouting and staying their

work to shake hands and shout, were making up trains, even

as near as Crewe, to descend upon London. The church bells

that 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 of

unhoped deliverance, shouting to gaunt, staring figures of

despair. And for the food! Across the Channel, across the

Irish Sea, across the Atlantic, corn, bread, and meat were

tearing to our relief. All the shipping in the world seemed

going Londonward in those days. But of all this I have no

memory. I drifted--a demented man. I found myself in a

house of kindly people, who had found me on the third day

wandering, weeping, and raving through the streets of St.

John's Wood. They have told me since that I was singing

some insane doggerel about "The Last Man Left Alive!

Hurrah! The Last Man Left Alive!" Troubled as they were

with their own affairs, these people, whose name, much as

I would like to express my gratitude to them, I may not

even give here, nevertheless cumbered themselves with me,

sheltered me, and protected me from myself. Apparently they

had learned something of my story from me during the days

of my lapse.

Very gently, when my mind was assured again, did they

break 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 out

of existence, as it seemed, without any provocation, as a boy

might crush an ant hill, in the mere wantonness of power.

I was a lonely man, and they were very kind to me. I

was a lonely man and a sad one, and they bore with me. I

remained with them four days after my recovery. All that

time I felt a vague, a growing craving to look once more

on whatever remained of the little life that seemed so happy

and bright in my past. It was a mere hopeless desire to feast

upon my misery. They dissuaded me. They did all they

could to divert me from this morbidity. But at last I could

resist the impulse no longer, and, promising faithfully to

return to them, and parting, as I will confess, from these

four-day friends with tears, I went out again into the streets

that had lately been so dark and strange and empty.

Already they were busy with returning people; in places

even there were shops open, and I saw a drinking fountain

running water.

I remember how mockingly bright the day seemed as I

went back on my melancholy pilgrimage to the little house

at Woking, how busy the streets and vivid the moving life

about me. So many people were abroad everywhere, busied

in a thousand activities, that it seemed incredible that any

great proportion of the population could have been slain.

But then I noticed how yellow were the skins of the people

I met, how shaggy the hair of the men, how large and bright

their eyes, and that every other man still wore his dirty

rags. Their faces seemed all with one of two expressions--a

leaping exultation and energy or a grim resolution. Save

for the expression of the faces, London seemed a city of

tramps. The vestries were indiscriminately distributing bread

sent us by the French government. The ribs of the few horses

showed dismally. Haggard special constables with white

badges stood at the corners of every street. I saw little of

the mischief wrought by the Martians until I reached Welling-

ton Street, and there I saw the red weed clambering over

the buttresses of Waterloo Bridge.

At the corner of the bridge, too, I saw one of the common

contrasts of that grotesque time--a sheet of paper flaunting

against a thicket of the red weed, transfixed by a stick that

kept it in place. It was the placard of the first newspaper

to resume publication--the DAILY MAIL. I bought a copy

for a blackened shilling I found in my pocket. Most of it

was in blank, but the solitary compositor who did the thing

had amused himself by making a grotesque scheme of ad-

vertisement stereo on the back page. The matter he printed

was emotional; the news organisation had not as yet found

its way back. I learned nothing fresh except that already

in one week the examination of the Martian mechanisms had

yielded astonishing results. Among other things, the article

assured me what I did not believe at the time, that the

"Secret of Flying," was discovered. At Waterloo I found the

free trains that were taking people to their homes. The first

rush 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 greyly

at the sunlit devastation that flowed past the windows. And

just outside the terminus the train jolted over temporary

rails, and on either side of the railway the houses were

blackened ruins. To Clapham Junction the face of London

was grimy with powder of the Black Smoke, in spite of

two days of thunderstorms and rain, and at Clapham Junc-

tion the line had been wrecked again; there were hundreds

of out-of-work clerks and shopmen working side by side

with the customary navvies, and we were jolted over a hasty


All down the line from there the aspect of the country

was gaunt and unfamiliar; Wimbledon particularly had suf-

fered. Walton, by virtue of its unburned pine woods, seemed

the least hurt of any place along the line. The Wandle, the

Mole, 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 festoons

of the red climber. Beyond Wimbledon, within sight of the

line, in certain nursery grounds, were the heaped masses

of earth about the sixth cylinder. A number of people were

standing about it, and some sappers were busy in the midst

of it. Over it flaunted a Union Jack, flapping cheerfully in

the morning breeze. The nursery grounds were everywhere

crimson with the weed, a wide expanse of livid colour cut

with purple shadows, and very painful to the eye. One's

gaze went with infinite relief from the scorched greys and

sullen reds of the foreground to the blue-green softness of

the eastward hills.

The line on the London side of Woking station was still

undergoing repair, so I descended at Byfleet station and

took the road to Maybury, past the place where I and the

artilleryman had talked to the hussars, and on by the spot

where the Martian had appeared to me in the thunderstorm.

Here, moved by curiosity, I turned aside to find, among a

tangle of red fronds, the warped and broken dog cart with

the whitened bones of the horse scattered and gnawed. For

a time I stood regarding these vestiges. . . .

Then I returned through the pine wood, neck-high with

red weed here and there, to find the landlord of the Spotted

Dog had already found burial, and so came home past the

College Arms. A man standing at an open cottage door

greeted me by name as I passed.

I looked at my house with a quick flash of hope that

faded immediately. The door had been forced; it was unfast

and was opening slowly as I approached.

It slammed again. The curtains of my study fluttered

out of the open window from which I and the artilleryman

had watched the dawn. No one had closed it since. The

smashed bushes were just as I had left them nearly four

weeks ago. I stumbled into the hall, and the house felt

empty. The stair carpet was ruffled and discoloured where

I had crouched, soaked to the skin from the thunderstorm

the night of the catastrophe. Our muddy footsteps I saw still

went up the stairs.

I followed them to my study, and found lying on my

writing-table still, with the selenite paper weight upon it,

the sheet of work I had left on the afternoon of the opening

of 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 civilising

process; and the last sentence was the opening of a prophecy:

"In about two hundred years," I had written, "we may

expect----" The sentence ended abruptly. I remembered

my inability to fix my mind that morning, scarcely a month

gone by, and how I had broken off to get my DAILY CHRONICLE

from the newsboy. I remembered how I went down to the

garden gate as he came along, and how I had listened to his

odd story of "Men from Mars."

I came down and went into the dining room. There

were the mutton and the bread, both far gone now in decay,

and a beer bottle overturned, just as I and the artilleryman

had left them. My home was desolate. I perceived the folly

of the faint hope I had cherished so long. And then a strange

thing occurred. "It is no use," said a voice. "The house is

deserted. No one has been here these ten days. Do not stay

here 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 a

step to it, and stood looking out.

And there, amazed and afraid, even as I stood amazed

and afraid, were my cousin and my wife--my wife white

and tearless. She gave a faint cry.

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

She put her hand to her throat--swayed. I made a step

forward, 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 the

many debatable questions which are still unsettled. In one

respect I shall certainly provoke criticism. My particular

province is speculative philosophy. My knowledge of com-

parative physiology is confined to a book or two, but it

seems to me that Carver's suggestions as to the reason of

the rapid death of the Martians is so probable as to be

regarded almost as a proven conclusion. I have assumed

that in the body of my narrative.

At any rate, in all the bodies of the Martians that were

examined after the war, no bacteria except those already

known as terrestrial species were found. That they did not

bury any of their dead, and the reckless slaughter they per-

petrated, point also to an entire ignorance of the putrefactive

process. But probable as this seems, it is by no means a

proven conclusion.

Neither is the composition of the Black Smoke known,

which the Martians used with such deadly effect, and the

generator of the Heat-Rays remains a puzzle. The terrible

disasters at the Ealing and South Kensington laboratories

have disinclined analysts for further investigations upon

the latter. Spectrum analysis of the black powder points

unmistakably to the presence of an unknown element with

a brilliant group of three lines in the green, and it is pos-

sible that it combines with argon to form a compound

which acts at once with deadly effect upon some constituent

in the blood. But such unproven speculations will scarcely

be of interest to the general reader, to whom this story is

addressed. None of the brown scum that drifted down the

Thames after the destruction of Shepperton was examined

at 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 examination

possible, I have already given. But everyone is familiar with

the magnificent and almost complete specimen in spirits at

the Natural History Museum, and the countless drawings

that have been made from it; and beyond that the interest

of 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 think

that nearly enough attention is being given to this aspect

of the matter. At present the planet Mars is in conjunction,

but with every return to opposition I, for one, anticipate

a renewal of their adventure. In any case, we should be

prepared. It seems to me that it should be possible to define

the position of the gun from which the shots are discharged,

to keep a sustained watch upon this part of the planet, and

to 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 of

guns so soon as the screw opened. It seems to me that they

have lost a vast advantage in the failure of their first

surprise. Possibly they see it in the same light.

Lessing has advanced excellent reasons for supposing that

the Martians have actually succeeded in effecting a landing

on the planet Venus. Seven months ago now, Venus and

Mars were in alignment with the sun; that is to say, Mars

was in opposition from the point of view of an observer on

Venus. 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 similar

sinuous character was detected upon a photograph of the

Martian disk. One needs to see the drawings of these ap-

pearances in order to appreciate fully their remarkable

resemblance in character.

At any rate, whether we expect another invasion or not,

our views of the human future must be greatly modified

by these events. We have learned now that we cannot regard

this planet as being fenced in and a secure abiding place for

Man; we can never anticipate the unseen good or evil that

may come upon us suddenly out of space. It may be that in

the larger design of the universe this invasion from Mars

is not without its ultimate benefit for men; it has robbed

us of that serene confidence in the future which is the most

fruitful source of decadence, the gifts to human science it

has brought are enormous, and it has done much to promote

the conception of the commonweal of mankind. It may be

that across the immensity of space the Martians have watched

the fate of these pioneers of theirs and learned their lesson,

and that on the planet Venus they have found a securer

settlement. Be that as it may, for many years yet there will

certainly be no relaxation of the eager scrutiny of the Martian

disk, and those fiery darts of the sky, the shooting stars, will

bring with them as they fall an unavoidable apprehension to

all the sons of men.

The broadening of men's views that has resulted can

scarcely be exaggerated. Before the cylinder fell there was

a general persuasion that through all the deep of space no

life existed beyond the petty surface of our minute sphere.

Now we see further. If the Martians can reach Venus, there

is no reason to suppose that the thing is impossible for men,

and when the slow cooling of the sun makes this earth

uninhabitable, as at last it must do, it may be that the thread

of life that has begun here will have streamed out and caught

our sister planet within its toils.

Dim and wonderful is the vision I have conjured up in

my mind of life spreading slowly from this little seed bed

of the solar system throughout the inanimate vastness of

sidereal space. But that is a remote dream. It may be, on

the other hand, that the destruction of the Martians is only

a reprieve. To them, and not to us, perhaps, is the future


I must confess the stress and danger of the time have left

an abiding sense of doubt and insecurity in my mind. I sit

in my study writing by lamplight, and suddenly I see again

the healing valley below set with writhing flames, and feel

the house behind and about me empty and desolate. I go

out into the Byfleet Road, and vehicles pass me, a butcher

boy in a cart, a cabful of visitors, a workman on a bicycle,

children going to school, and suddenly they become vague

and unreal, and I hurry again with the artilleryman through

the hot, brooding silence. Of a night I see the black powder

darkening the silent streets, and the contorted bodies

shrouded in that layer; they rise upon me tattered and

dog-bitten. They gibber and grow fiercer, paler, uglier, mad

distortions 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 Fleet

Street and the Strand, and it comes across my mind that

they are but the ghosts of the past, haunting the streets that

I have seen silent and wretched, going to and fro, phan-

tasms in a dead city, the mockery of life in a galvanised

body. And strange, too, it is to stand on Primrose Hill, as

I did but a day before writing this last chapter, to see the

great province of houses, dim and blue through the haze

of the smoke and mist, vanishing at last into the vague

lower sky, to see the people walking to and fro among the

flower beds on the hill, to see the sight-seers about the Mar-

tian machine that stands there still, to hear the tumult of

playing children, and to recall the time when I saw it all

bright and clear-cut, hard and silent, under the dawn of

that 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 has

counted me, among the dead.