BOOK TWO: THE EARTH UNDER THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 5: THE STILLNESS
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
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!