BOOK ONE: THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 12: WHAT I SAW OF THE DESTRUCTION OF WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON
As the dawn grew brighter we withdrew from the window from which we had watched the Martians, and went
very quietly downstairs.
The artilleryman agreed with me that the house was no
place to stay in. He proposed, he said, to make his way
Londonward, and thence rejoin his battery--No. 12, of the
Horse Artillery. My plan was to return at once to Leatherhead; and so greatly had the strength of the Martians impressed me that I had determined to take my wife to Newhaven, and go with her out of the country forthwith. For I
already perceived clearly that the country about London
must inevitably be the scene of a disastrous struggle before
such creatures as these could be destroyed.
Between us and Leatherhead, however, lay the third cylinder, with its guarding giants. Had I been alone, I think I
should have taken my chance and struck across country. But
the artilleryman dissuaded me: "It's no kindness to the right
sort of wife," he said, "to make her a widow"; and in the end
I agreed to go with him, under cover of the woods, northward
as far as Street Cobham before I parted with him. Thence I
would make a big detour by Epsom to reach Leatherhead.
I should have started at once, but my companion had been
in active service and he knew better than that. He made me
ransack the house for a flask, which he filled with whiskey;
and we lined every available pocket with packets of biscuits
and slices of meat. Then we crept out of the house, and ran
as quickly as we could down the ill-made road by which I
had come overnight. The houses seemed deserted. In the
road lay a group of three charred bodies close together,
struck dead by the Heat-Ray; and here and there were things
that people had dropped--a clock, a slipper, a silver spoon,
and the like poor valuables. At the corner turning up towards
the post office a little cart, filled with boxes and furniture,
and horseless, heeled over on a broken wheel. A cash box had
been hastily smashed open and thrown under the debris.