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