BOOK ONE: THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 7: HOW I REACHED HOME
The atmosphere of the earth, we now know, contains far
more oxygen or far less argon (whichever way one likes to
put it) than does Mars. The invigorating influences of this
excess of oxygen upon the Martians indisputably did much
to counterbalance the increased weight of their bodies. And,
in the second place, we all overlooked the fact that such
mechanical intelligence as the Martian possessed was quite
able to dispense with muscular exertion at a pinch.
But I did not consider these points at the time, and so my
reasoning was dead against the chances of the invaders.
With wine and food, the confidence of my own table, and
the necessity of reassuring my wife, I grew by insensible
degrees courageous and secure.
"They have done a foolish thing," said I, fingering my
wineglass. "They are dangerous because, no doubt, they are
mad with terror. Perhaps they expected to find no living
things--certainly no intelligent living things.
"A shell in the pit" said I, "if the worst comes to the worst
will kill them all."
The intense excitement of the events had no doubt left my
perceptive powers in a state of erethism. I remember that
dinner table with extraordinary vividness even now. My dear
wife's sweet anxious face peering at me from under the pink
lamp shade, the white cloth with its silver and glass table
furniture--for in those days even philosophical writers had
many little luxuries--the crimson-purple wine in my glass,
are photographically distinct. At the end of it I sat, tempering nuts with a cigarette, regretting Ogilvy's rashness, and
denouncing the shortsighted timidity of the Martians.
So some respectable dodo in the Mauritius might have
lorded it in his nest, and discussed the arrival of that shipful
of pitiless sailors in want of animal food. "We will peck them
to death tomorrow, my dear."
I did not know it, but that was the last civilised dinner
I was to eat for very many strange and terrible days.