BOOK ONE: THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS
CHAPTER 9: THE FIGHTING BEGINS
"Where's your shells?" said the first speaker. "There ain't
no time. Do it in a rush, that's my tip, and do it at once."
So they discussed it. After a while I left them, and went
on to the railway station to get as many morning papers as
But I will not weary the reader with a description of that
long morning and of the longer afternoon. I did not succeed
in getting a glimpse of the common, for even Horsell and
Chobham church towers were in the hands of the military
authorities. The soldiers I addressed didn't know anything;
the officers were mysterious as well as busy. I found people
in the town quite secure again in the presence of the military,
and I heard for the first time from Marshall, the tobacconist,
that his son was among the dead on the common. The soldiers
had made the people on the outskirts of Horsell lock up and
leave their houses.
I got back to lunch about two, very tired for, as I have
said, the day was extremely hot and dull; and in order to
refresh myself I took a cold bath in the afternoon. About half
past four I went up to the railway station to get an evening
paper, for the morning papers had contained only a very
inaccurate description of the killing of Stent, Henderson,
Ogilvy, and the others. But there was little I didn't know.
The Martians did not show an inch of themselves. They
seemed busy in their pit, and there was a sound of hammering
and an almost continuous streamer of smoke. Apparently they
were busy getting ready for a struggle. "Fresh attempts have
been made to signal, but without success," was the stereotyped formula of the papers. A sapper told me it was done by
a man in a ditch with a flag on a long pole. The Martians
took as much notice of such advances as we should of the
lowing of a cow.
I must confess the sight of all this armament, all this
preparation, greatly excited me. My imagination became belligerent, and defeated the invaders in a dozen striking ways;
something of my schoolboy dreams of battle and heroism
came back. It hardly seemed a fair fight to me at that time.
They seemed very helpless in that pit of theirs.