BOOK TWO: THE EARTH UNDER THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 5: THE STILLNESS
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 practicable slope to the summit of the ruins. My chance of escape
had come. I began to tremble.