BOOK TWO: THE EARTH UNDER THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 1: UNDER FOOT
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 anything 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 inclined 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