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