BOOK ONE: THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 15: WHAT HAD HAPPENED IN SURREY
After this it would seem that the three took counsel together and halted, and the scouts who were watching them
report that they remained absolutely stationary for the next
half hour. The Martian who had been overthrown crawled
tediously out of his hood, a small brown figure, oddly suggestive from that distance of a speck of blight, and apparently
engaged in the repair of his support. About nine he had
finished, for his cowl was then seen above the trees again.
It was a few minutes past nine that night when these three
sentinels were joined by four other Martians, each carrying
a thick black tube. A similar tube was handed to each of the
three, and the seven proceeded to distribute themselves at
equal distances along a curved line between St. George's Hill,
Weybridge, and the village of Send, southwest of Ripley.
A dozen rockets sprang out of the hills before them so soon
as they began to move, and warned the waiting batteries
about Ditton and Esher. At the same time four of their
fighting machines, similarly armed with tubes, crossed the
river, and two of them, black against the western sky, came
into sight of myself and the curate as we hurried wearily and
painfully along the road that runs northward out of Halliford.
They moved, as it seemed to us, upon a cloud, for a milky
mist covered the fields and rose to a third of their height.
At this sight the curate cried faintly in his throat, and
began running; but I knew it was no good running from a
Martian, and I turned aside and crawled through dewy nettles
and brambles into the broad ditch by the side of the road.
He looked back, saw what I was doing, and turned to join
The two halted, the nearer to us standing and facing Sunbury, the remoter being a grey indistinctness towards the
evening star, away towards Staines.
The occasional howling of the Martians had ceased; they
took up their positions in the huge crescent about their
cylinders in absolute silence. It was a crescent with twelve
miles between its horns. Never since the devising of gunpowder was the beginning of a battle so still. To us and to
an observer about Ripley it would have had precisely the
same effect--the Martians seemed in solitary possession of
the darkling night, lit only as it was by the slender moon, the
stars, the afterglow of the daylight, and the ruddy glare from
St. George's Hill and the woods of Painshill.