BOOK TWO: THE EARTH UNDER THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 9: WRECKAGE
The line on the London side of Woking station was still
undergoing repair, so I descended at Byfleet station and
took the road to Maybury, past the place where I and the
artilleryman had talked to the hussars, and on by the spot
where the Martian had appeared to me in the thunderstorm.
Here, moved by curiosity, I turned aside to find, among a
tangle of red fronds, the warped and broken dog cart with
the whitened bones of the horse scattered and gnawed. For
a time I stood regarding these vestiges. . . .
Then I returned through the pine wood, neck-high with
red weed here and there, to find the landlord of the Spotted
Dog had already found burial, and so came home past the
College Arms. A man standing at an open cottage door
greeted me by name as I passed.
I looked at my house with a quick flash of hope that
faded immediately. The door had been forced; it was unfast
and was opening slowly as I approached.
It slammed again. The curtains of my study fluttered
out of the open window from which I and the artilleryman
had watched the dawn. No one had closed it since. The
smashed bushes were just as I had left them nearly four
weeks ago. I stumbled into the hall, and the house felt
empty. The stair carpet was ruffled and discoloured where
I had crouched, soaked to the skin from the thunderstorm
the night of the catastrophe. Our muddy footsteps I saw still
went up the stairs.
I followed them to my study, and found lying on my
writing-table still, with the selenite paper weight upon it,
the sheet of work I had left on the afternoon of the opening
of the cylinder. For a space I stood reading over my abandoned arguments. It was a paper on the probable development of Moral Ideas with the development of the civilising
process; and the last sentence was the opening of a prophecy:
"In about two hundred years," I had written, "we may
expect----" The sentence ended abruptly. I remembered
my inability to fix my mind that morning, scarcely a month
gone by, and how I had broken off to get my DAILY CHRONICLE
from the newsboy. I remembered how I went down to the
garden gate as he came along, and how I had listened to his
odd story of "Men from Mars."