BOOK ONE: THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 10: IN THE STORM
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 peaceful 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
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.