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The War of the Worlds
by H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells

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My first act before I went into the pantry was to fasten

the door between the kitchen and the scullery. But the

pantry was empty; every scrap of food had gone. Appar-

ently, the Martian had taken it all on the previous day. At

that discovery I despaired for the first time. I took no food,

or no drink either, on the eleventh or the twelfth day.

At first my mouth and throat were parched, and my

strength ebbed sensibly. I sat about in the darkness of the

scullery, in a state of despondent wretchedness. My mind

ran on eating. I thought I had become deaf, for the noises

of movement I had been accustomed to hear from the pit

had ceased absolutely. I did not feel strong enough to crawl

noiselessly to the peephole, or I would have gone there.

On the twelfth day my throat was so painful that, taking

the chance of alarming the Martians, I attacked the creaking

rain-water pump that stood by the sink, and got a couple

of glassfuls of blackened and tainted rain water. I was

greatly refreshed by this, and emboldened by the fact that

no enquiring tentacle followed the noise of my pumping.

During these days, in a rambling, inconclusive way, I

thought much of the curate and of the manner of his death.

On the thirteenth day I drank some more water, and

dozed and thought disjointedly of eating and of vague im-

possible plans of escape. Whenever I dozed I dreamt of

horrible phantasms, of the death of the curate, or of sump-

tuous dinners; but, asleep or awake, I felt a keen pain that

urged me to drink again and again. The light that came into

the scullery was no longer grey, but red. To my disordered

imagination it seemed the colour of blood.

On the fourteenth day I went into the kitchen, and I was

surprised to find that the fronds of the red weed had grown

right across the hole in the wall, turning the half-light of the

place into a crimson-coloured obscurity.

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 prac-

ticable slope to the summit of the ruins. My chance of escape

had come. I began to tremble.

I hesitated for some time, and then, in a gust of desperate

resolution, and with a heart that throbbed violently, I

scrambled to the top of the mound in which I had been

buried so long.

I looked about again. To the northward, too, no Martian

was visible.

When I had last seen this part of Sheen in the daylight

it had been a straggling street of comfortable white and

red houses, interspersed with abundant shady trees. Now

I stood on a mound of smashed brickwork, clay, and gravel,

over which spread a multitude of red cactus-shaped plants,

knee-high, without a solitary terrestrial growth to dispute

their footing. The trees near me were dead and brown, but

further a network of red thread scaled the still living stems.

The neighbouring houses had all been wrecked, but none

had been burned; their walls stood, sometimes to the second

story, with smashed windows and shattered doors. The red

weed grew tumultuously in their roofless rooms. Below me

was the great pit, with the crows struggling for its refuse.

A number of other birds hopped about among the ruins. Far

away I saw a gaunt cat slink crouchingly along a wall, but

traces of men there were none.

The day seemed, by contrast with my recent confinement,

dazzlingly bright, the sky a glowing blue. A gentle breeze

kept the red weed that covered every scrap of unoccupied

ground gently swaying. And oh! the sweetness of the air!



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