BOOK TWO: THE EARTH UNDER THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 4: THE DEATH OF THE CURATE
On the eighth day he began to talk aloud instead of whispering, and nothing I could do would moderate his speech.
"It is just, O God!" he would say, over and over again.
"It is just. On me and mine be the punishment laid. We
have sinned, we have fallen short. There was poverty,
sorrow; the poor were trodden in the dust, and I held my
peace. I preached acceptable folly--my God, what folly!
--when I should have stood up, though I died for it, and
called upon them to repent-repent! . . . Oppressors of the
poor and needy . . . ! The wine press of God!"
Then he would suddenly revert to the matter of the food
I withheld from him, praying, begging, weeping, at last
threatening. He began to raise his voice--I prayed him not
to. He perceived a hold on me--he threatened he would
shout and bring the Martians upon us. For a time that scared
me; but any concession would have shortened our chance
of escape beyond estimating. I defied him, although I felt
no assurance that he might not do this thing. But that day,
at any rate, he did not. He talked with his voice rising slowly,
through the greater part of the eighth and ninth days--threats,
entreaties, mingled with a torrent of half-sane and
always frothy repentance for his vacant sham of God's
service, such as made me pity him. Then he slept awhile, and
began again with renewed strength, so loudly that I must
needs make him desist.
"Be still!" I implored.
He rose to his knees, for he had been sitting in the darkness near the copper.
"I have been still too long," he said, in a tone that must
have reached the pit, "and now I must bear my witness.
Woe unto this unfaithful city! Woe! Woe! Woe! Woe! Woe!
To the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices
of the trumpet----"
"Shut up!" I said, rising to my feet, and in a terror lest
the Martians should hear us. "For God's sake----"