was upon me. Then I heard midnight pealing out from Pyrford Church
behind me, and then came the silhouette of Maybury Hill, with its
tree-tops and roofs black and sharp against the red.
Even as I beheld this a lurid green glare lit the road about me and
showed the distant woods towards Addlestone. I felt a tug at the
reins. I saw that the driving clouds had been pierced as it were by a
thread of green fire, suddenly lighting their confusion and falling
into the field to my left. It was the third falling star!
Close on its apparition, and blindingly violet by contrast, danced
out the first lightning of the gathering storm, and the thunder burst
like a rocket overhead. The horse took the bit between his teeth and
A moderate incline runs towards the foot of Maybury Hill, and down
this we clattered. Once the lightning had begun, it went on in as
rapid a succession of flashes as I have ever seen. The thunderclaps,
treading one on the heels of another and with a strange crackling
accompaniment, sounded more like the working of a gigantic electric
machine than the usual detonating reverberations. The flickering
light was blinding and confusing, and a thin hail smote gustily at my
face as I drove down the slope.
At first I regarded little but the road before me, and then
abruptly my attention was arrested by something that was moving
rapidly down the opposite slope of Maybury Hill. At first I took it
for the wet roof of a house, but one flash following another showed it
to be in swift rolling movement. It was an elusive vision - a moment
of bewildering darkness, and then, in a flash like daylight, the red
masses of the Orphanage near the crest of the hill, the green tops of
the pine trees, and this problematical object came out clear and sharp
And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod,
higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and
smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering
metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel
dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling
with the riot of the thunder. A flash, and it came out vividly,
heeling over one way with two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear
almost instantly as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards
nearer. Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violently
along the ground? That was the impression those instant flashes gave.
But instead of a milking stool imagine it a great body of machinery on
a tripod stand.
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 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 down from the College Arms. I say splashed,
for the storm water was sweeping the sand down the hill in a muddy
torrent. There in the darkness a man blundered into me and sent me
He gave a cry of terror, sprang sideways, and rushed on before I
could gather my wits sufficiently to speak to him. So heavy was the
stress of the storm just at this place that I had the hardest task to
win my way up the hill. I went close up to the fence on the left and
worked my way along its palings.
Near the top I stumbled upon something soft, and, by a flash of
lightning, saw between my feet a heap of black broadcloth and a pair
of boots. Before I could distinguish clearly how the man lay, the
flicker of light had passed. I stood over him waiting for the next
flash. When it came, I saw that he was a sturdy man, cheaply but not
shabbily dressed; his head was bent under his body, and he lay
crumpled up close to the fence, as though he had been flung violently
Overcoming the repugnance natural to one who had never before
touched a dead body, I stooped and turned him over to feel for his
heart. He was quite dead. Apparently his neck had been broken. The
lightning flashed for a third time, and his face leaped upon me. I
sprang to my feet. It was the landlord of the Spotted Dog, whose
conveyance I had taken.
I stepped over him gingerly and pushed on up the hill. I made my
way by the police station and the College Arms towards my own house.
Nothing was burning on the hillside, though from the common there
still came a red glare and a rolling tumult of ruddy smoke beating up
against the drenching hail. So far as I could see by the flashes, the
houses about me were mostly uninjured. By the College Arms a dark
heap lay in the road.
Down the road towards Maybury Bridge there were voices and the
sound of feet, but I had not the courage to shout or to go to them. I
let myself in with my latchkey, closed, locked and bolted the door,
staggered to the foot of the staircase, and sat down. My imagination
was full of those striding metallic monsters, and of the dead body
smashed against the fence.
I crouched at the foot of the staircase with my back to the wall,
AT THE WINDOW
I have already said that my storms of emotion have a trick of
exhausting themselves. After a time I discovered that I was cold and
wet, and with little pools of water about me on the stair carpet. I
got up almost mechanically, went into the dining room and drank some
whiskey, and then I was moved to change my clothes.
After I had done that I went upstairs to my study, but why I did so
I do not know. The window of my study looks over the trees and the
railway towards Horsell Common. In the hurry of our departure this
window had been left open. The passage was dark, and, by contrast with
the picture the window frame enclosed, the side of the room seemed
impenetrably dark. I stopped short in the doorway.
The thunderstorm had passed. The towers of the Oriental College
and the pine trees about it had gone, and very far away, lit by a
vivid red glare, the common about the sand pits was visible. Across
the light huge black shapes, grotesque and strange, moved busily to
It seemed indeed as if the whole country in that direction was on
fire - a broad hillside set with minute tongues of flame, swaying and
writhing with the gusts of the dying storm, and throwing a red
reflection upon the cloud-scud above. Every now and then a haze of
smoke from some nearer conflagration drove across the window and hid
the Martian shapes. I could not see what they were doing, nor the
clear form of them, nor recognise the black objects they were busied
upon. Neither could I see the nearer fire, though the reflections of
it danced on the wall and ceiling of the study. A sharp, resinous
tang of burning was in the air.
I closed the door noiselessly and crept towards the window. As I
did so, the view opened out until, on the one hand, it reached to the
houses about Woking station, and on the other to the charred and
blackened pine woods of Byfleet. There was a light down below the
hill, on the railway, near the arch, and several of the houses along
the Maybury road and the streets near the station were glowing ruins.
The light upon the railway puzzled me at first; there were a black
heap and a vivid glare, and to the right of that a row of yellow
oblongs. Then I perceived this was a wrecked train, the fore part
smashed and on fire, the hinder carriages still upon the rails.
Between these three main centres of light - the houses, the train,
and the burning county towards Chobham - stretched irregular patches of
dark country, broken here and there by intervals of dimly glowing and
smoking ground. It was the strangest spectacle, that black expanse set
with fire. It reminded me, more than anything else, of the Potteries
at night. At first I could distinguish no people at all, though I
peered intently for them. Later I saw against the light of Woking
station a number of black figures hurrying one after the other across
And this was the little world in which I had been living securely
for years, this fiery chaos! What had happened in the last seven
hours I still did not know; nor did I know, though I was beginning to
guess, the relation between these mechanical colossi and the sluggish
lumps I had seen disgorged from the cylinder. With a queer feeling of
impersonal interest I turned my desk chair to the window, sat down,
and stared at the blackened country, and particularly at the three
gigantic black things that were going to and fro in the glare about
the sand pits.
They seemed amazingly busy. I began to ask myself what they could
be. Were they intelligent mechanisms? Such a thing I felt was
impossible. Or did a Martian sit within each, ruling, directing,
using, much as a man's brain sits and rules in his body? I began to
compare the things to human machines, to ask myself for the first time
in my life how an ironclad or a steam engine would seem to an
intelligent lower animal.
The storm had left the sky clear, and over the smoke of the burning
land the little fading pinpoint of Mars was dropping into the west,
when a soldier came into my garden. I heard a slight scraping at the
fence, and rousing myself from the lethargy that had fallen upon me, I
looked down and saw him dimly, clambering over the palings. At the
sight of another human being my torpor passed, and I leaned out of the
"Hist!" said I, in a whisper.
He stopped astride of the fence in doubt. Then he came over and
across the lawn to the corner of the house. He bent down and stepped
"Who's there?" he said, also whispering, standing under the window
and peering up.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"Are you trying to hide?"
"Come into the house," I said.
I went down, unfastened the door, and let him in, and locked the
door again. I could not see his face. He was hatless, and his coat
"My God!" he said, as I drew him in.
"What has happened?" I asked.
"What hasn't?" In the obscurity I could see he made a gesture of
despair. "They wiped us out - simply wiped us out," he repeated again
He followed me, almost mechanically, into the dining room.
"Take some whiskey," I said, pouring out a stiff dose.
He drank it. Then abruptly he sat down before the table, put his
head on his arms, and began to sob and weep like a little boy, in a
perfect passion of emotion, while I, with a curious forgetfulness of
my own recent despair, stood beside him, wondering.
It was a long time before he could steady his nerves to answer my
questions, and then he answered perplexingly and brokenly. He was a
driver in the artillery, and had only come into action about seven. At
that time firing was going on across the common, and it was said the
first party of Martians were crawling slowly towards their second
cylinder under cover of a metal shield.
Later this shield staggered up on tripod legs and became the first
of the fighting-machines I had seen. The gun he drove had been
unlimbered near Horsell, in order to command the sand pits, and its
arrival it was that had precipitated the action. As the limber
gunners went to the rear, his horse trod in a rabbit hole and came
down, throwing him into a depression of the ground. At the same
moment the gun exploded behind him, the ammunition blew up, there was
fire all about him, and he found himself lying under a heap of charred
dead men and dead horses.
"I lay still," he said, "scared out of my wits, with the fore quarter
of a horse atop of me. We'd been wiped out. And the smell - good
God! Like burnt meat! I was hurt across the back by the fall of
the horse, and there I had to lie until I felt better. Just like
parade it had been a minute before - then stumble, bang, swish!"
"Wiped out!" he said.
He had hid under the dead horse for a long time, peeping out
furtively across the common. The Cardigan men had tried a rush, in
skirmishing order, at the pit, simply to be swept out of existence.
Then the monster had risen to its feet and had begun to walk leisurely
to and fro across the common among the few fugitives, with its
headlike hood turning about exactly like the head of a cowled human
being. A kind of arm carried a complicated metallic case, about which
green flashes scintillated, and out of the funnel of this there smoked
In a few minutes there was, so far as the soldier could see, not a
living thing left upon the common, and every bush and tree upon it
that was not already a blackened skeleton was burning. The hussars
had been on the road beyond the curvature of the ground, and he saw
nothing of them. He heard the Martians rattle for a time and then
become still. The giant saved Woking station and its cluster of houses
until the last; then in a moment the Heat-Ray was brought to bear, and
the town became a heap of fiery ruins. Then the Thing shut off the
Heat-Ray, and turning its back upon the artilleryman, began to waddle
away towards the smouldering pine woods that sheltered the second
cylinder. As it did so a second glittering Titan built itself up out
of the pit.
The second monster followed the first, and at that the artilleryman
began to crawl very cautiously across the hot heather ash towards
Horsell. He managed to get alive into the ditch by the side of the
road, and so escaped to Woking. There his story became ejaculatory.
The place was impassable. It seems there were a few people alive
there, frantic for the most part and many burned and scalded. He was
turned aside by the fire, and hid among some almost scorching heaps of
broken wall as one of the Martian giants returned. He saw this one
pursue a man, catch him up in one of its steely tentacles, and knock
his head against the trunk of a pine tree. At last, after nightfall,
the artilleryman made a rush for it and got over the railway
Since then he had been skulking along towards Maybury, in the hope
of getting out of danger Londonward. People were hiding in trenches
and cellars, and many of the survivors had made off towards Woking
village and Send. He had been consumed with thirst until he found one
of the water mains near the railway arch smashed, and the water
bubbling out like a spring upon the road.
That was the story I got from him, bit by bit. He grew calmer
telling me and trying to make me see the things he had seen. He had
eaten no food since midday, he told me early in his narrative, and I
found some mutton and bread in the pantry and brought it into the
room. We lit no lamp for fear of attracting the Martians, and ever
and again our hands would touch upon bread or meat. As he talked,
things about us came darkly out of the darkness, and the trampled
bushes and broken rose trees outside the window grew distinct. It
would seem that a number of men or animals had rushed across the lawn.
I began to see his face, blackened and haggard, as no doubt mine was
When we had finished eating we went softly upstairs to my study,
and I looked again out of the open window. In one night the valley
had become a valley of ashes. The fires had dwindled now. Where
flames had been there were now streamers of smoke; but the countless
ruins of shattered and gutted houses and blasted and blackened trees
that the night had hidden stood out now gaunt and terrible in the
pitiless light of dawn. Yet here and there some object had had the
luck to escape - a white railway signal here, the end of a greenhouse
there, white and fresh amid the wreckage. Never before in the history
of warfare had destruction been so indiscriminate and so universal.
And shining with the growing light of the east, three of the metallic
giants stood about the pit, their cowls rotating as though they were
surveying the desolation they had made.
It seemed to me that the pit had been enlarged, and ever and again
puffs of vivid green vapour streamed up and out of it towards the
brightening dawn - streamed up, whirled, broke, and vanished.
Beyond were the pillars of fire about Chobham. They became pillars
of bloodshot smoke at the first touch of day.
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
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.
Except the lodge at the Orphanage, which was still on fire, none of
the houses had suffered very greatly here. The Heat-Ray had shaved
the chimney tops and passed. Yet, save ourselves, there did not seem
to be a living soul on Maybury Hill. The majority of the inhabitants
had escaped, I suppose, by way of the Old Woking road - the road I had
taken when I drove to Leatherhead - or they had hidden.
We went down the lane, by the body of the man in black, sodden now
from the overnight hail, and broke into the woods at the foot of the
hill. We pushed through these towards the railway without meeting a
soul. The woods across the line were but the scarred and blackened
ruins of woods; for the most part the trees had fallen, but a certain
proportion still stood, dismal grey stems, with dark brown foliage
instead of green.
On our side the fire had done no more than scorch the nearer trees;
it had failed to secure its footing. In one place the woodmen had
been at work on Saturday; trees, felled and freshly trimmed, lay in a
clearing, with heaps of sawdust by the sawing-machine and its engine.
Hard by was a temporary hut, deserted. There was not a breath of wind
this morning, and everything was strangely still. Even the birds were
hushed, and as we hurried along I and the artilleryman talked in
whispers and looked now and again over our shoulders. Once or twice
we stopped to listen.
After a time we drew near the road, and as we did so we heard the
clatter of hoofs and saw through the tree stems three cavalry soldiers
riding slowly towards Woking. We hailed them, and they halted while
we hurried towards them. It was a lieutenant and a couple of privates
of the 8th Hussars, with a stand like a theodolite, which the
artilleryman told me was a heliograph.
"You are the first men I've seen coming this way this morning,"
said the lieutenant. "What's brewing?"
His voice and face were eager. The men behind him stared
curiously. The artilleryman jumped down the bank into the road and
"Gun destroyed last night, sir. Have been hiding. Trying to
rejoin battery, sir. You'll come in sight of the Martians, I expect,
about half a mile along this road."
"What the dickens are they like?" asked the lieutenant.
"Giants in armour, sir. Hundred feet high. Three legs and a body
like 'luminium, with a mighty great head in a hood, sir."
"Get out!" said the lieutenant. "What confounded nonsense!"
"You'll see, sir. They carry a kind of box, sir, that shoots fire
and strikes you dead."