[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

Then suddenly the trees in the pine wood ahead of me were parted, as brittle reeds are parted by a man
thrusting through them; they were snapped off and driven headlong, and a second huge tripod appeared,
rushing, as it seemed, headlong towards me. And I was galloping hard to meet it! At the sight of the second
monster my nerve went altogether. Not stopping to look again, I wrenched the horse's head hard round to the
right and in another moment the dog cart had heeled over upon the horse; the shafts smashed noisily, and I
was flung sideways and fell heavily into a shallow pool of water.
I crawled out almost immediately, and crouched, my feet still in the water, under a clump of furze. The horse
lay motionless (his neck was broken, poor brute!) and by the lightning flashes I saw the black bulk of the
overturned dog cart and the silhouette of the wheel still spinning slowly. In another moment the colossal
mechanism went striding by me, and passed uphill towards Pyrford.
Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it was no mere insensate machine driving on its way.
Machine it was, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles (one of which gripped a
young pine tree) swinging and rattling about its strange body. It picked its road as it went striding along, and
the brazen hood that surmounted it moved to and fro with the inevitable suggestion of a head looking about.
Behind the main body was a huge mass of white metal like a gigantic fisherman's basket, and puffs of green
smoke squirted out from the joints of the limbs as the monster swept by me. And in an instant it was gone.
So much I saw then, all vaguely for the flickering of the lightning, in blinding highlights and dense black
shadows.
As it passed it set up an exultant deafening howl that drowned the thunder--"Aloo! Aloo!"--and in another
minute it was with its companion, half a mile away, stooping over something in the field. I have no doubt this
Thing in the field was the third of the ten cylinders they had fired at us from Mars.
For some minutes I lay there in the rain and darkness watching, by the intermittent light, these monstrous
beings of metal moving about in the distance over the hedge tops. A thin hail was now beginning, and as it
came and went their figures grew misty and then flashed into clearness again. Now and then came a gap in the
CHAPTER TEN 33
lightning, and the night swallowed them up.
I was soaked with hail above and puddle water below. It was some time before my blank astonishment would
let me struggle up the bank to a drier position, or think at all of my imminent peril.
Not far from me was a little one-roomed squatter's hut of wood, surrounded by a patch of potato garden. I
struggled to my feet at last, and, crouching and making use of every chance of cover, I made a run for this. I
hammered at the door, but I could not make the people hear (if there were any people inside), and after a time
I desisted, and, availing myself of a ditch for the greater part of the way, succeeded in crawling, unobserved
by these monstrous machines, into the pine woods towards Maybury.
Under cover of this I pushed on, wet and shivering now, towards my own house. I walked among the trees
trying to find the footpath. It was very dark indeed in the wood, for the lightning was now becoming
infrequent, and the hail, which was pouring down in a torrent, fell in columns through the gaps in the heavy
foliage.
If I had fully realised the meaning of all the things I had seen I should have immediately worked my way
round through Byfleet to Street Cobham, and so gone back to rejoin my wife at Leatherhead. But that night
the strangeness of things about me, and my physical wretchedness, prevented me, for I was bruised, weary,
wet to the skin, deafened and blinded by the storm.
I had a vague idea of going on to my own house, and that was as much motive as I had. I staggered through
the trees, fell into a ditch and bruised my knees against a plank, and finally splashed out into the lane that ran [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]