So you understand the roaring wave of fear that swept through the greatest city in the world just as Monday was dawning
-- the stream of flight rising swiftly to a torrent, lashing in a foaming tumult round the railway stations, banked up into
a horrible struggle about the shipping in the Thames, and hurrying by every available channel northward and eastward. By ten
o'clock the police organisation, and by midday even the railway organisations, were losing coherency, losing shape and efficiency,
guttering, softening, running at last in that swift liquefaction of the social body.
All the railway lines north of the Thames and the South-Eastern people at Cannon Street had been warned
by midnight on Sunday, and trains were being filled. People were fighting savagely for standing-room in the carriages even
at two o'clock. By three, people were being trampled and crushed even in Bishopsgate Street, a couple of hundred yards or
more from Liverpool Street station; revolvers were fired, people stabbed, and the policemen who had been sent to direct the
traffic, exhausted and infuriated, were breaking the heads of the people they were called out to protect.
And as the day advanced and the engine drivers and stokers refused to return to London, the pressure
of the flight drove the people in an ever-thickening multitude away from the stations and along the northward-running roads.
By midday a Martian had been seen at Barnes, and a cloud of slowly sinking black vapour drove along the Thames and across
the flats of Lambeth, cutting off all escape over the bridges in its sluggish advance. Another bank drove over Ealing, and
surrounded a little island of survivors on Castle Hill, alive, but unable to escape.
After a fruitless struggle to get aboard a North-Western train at Chalk Farm -- the engines of the trains
that had loaded in the goods yard there ploughed through shrieking people, and a dozen stalwart men fought to keep the crowd
from crushing the driver against his furnace -- my brother emerged upon the Chalk Farm road, dodged across through a hurrying
swarm of vehicles, and had the luck to be foremost in the sack of a cycle shop. The front tire of the machine he got was punctured
in dragging it through the window, but he got up and off, notwithstanding, with no further injury than a cut wrist. The steep
foot of Haverstock Hill was impassable owing to several overturned horses, and my brother struck into Belsize Road.
So he got out of the fury of the panic, and, skirting the Edgware Road, reached Edgware about seven,
fasting and wearied, but well ahead of the crowd. Along the road people were standing in the roadway, curious, wondering.
He was passed by a number of cyclists, some horsemen, and two motor cars. A mile from Edgware the rim of the wheel broke,
and the machine became unridable. He left it by the roadside and trudged through the village. There were shops half opened
in the main street of the place, and people crowded on the pavement and in the doorways and windows, staring astonished at
this extraordinary procession of fugitives that was beginning. He succeeded in getting some food at an inn.
For a time he remained in Edgware not knowing what next to do. The flying people increased in number.
Many of them, like my brother, seemed inclined to loiter in the place. There was no fresh news of the invaders from Mars.
At that time the road was crowded, but as yet far from congested. Most of the fugitives at that hour
were mounted on cycles, but there were soon motor cars, hansom cabs, and carriages hurrying along, and the dust hung in heavy
clouds along the road to St. Albans.
It was perhaps a vague idea of making his way to Chelmsford, where some friends of his lived, that at
last induced my brother to strike into a quiet lane running eastward. Presently he came upon a stile, and, crossing it, followed
a footpath northeastward. He passed near several farmhouses and some little places whose names he did not learn. He saw few
fugitives until, in a grass lane towards High Barnet, he happened upon two ladies who became his fellow travellers. He came
upon them just in time to save them.
He heard their screams, and, hurrying round the corner, saw a couple of men struggling to drag them out
of the little pony-chaise in which they had been driving, while a third with difficulty held the frightened pony's head. One
of the ladies, a short woman dressed in white, was simply screaming; the other, a dark, slender figure, slashed at the man
who gripped her arm with a whip she held in her disengaged hand.
My brother immediately grasped the situation, shouted, and hurried towards the struggle. One of the men
desisted and turned towards him, and my brother, realising from his antagonist's face that a fight was unavoidable, and being
an expert boxer, went into him forthwith and sent him down against the wheel of the chaise.
It was no time for pugilistic chivalry and my brother laid him quiet with a kick, and gripped the collar
of the man who pulled at the slender lady's arm. He heard the clatter of hoofs, the whip stung across his face, a third antagonist
struck him between the eyes, and the man he held wrenched himself free and made off down the lane in the direction from which
he had come.
Partly stunned, he found himself facing the man who had held the horse's head, and became aware of the
chaise receding from him down the lane, swaying from side to side, and with the women in it looking back. The man before him,
a burly rough, tried to close, and he stopped him with a blow in the face. Then, realising that he was deserted, he dodged
round and made off down the lane after the chaise, with the sturdy man close behind him, and the fugitive, who had turned
now, following remotely.
Suddenly he stumbled and fell; his immediate pursuer went headlong, and he rose to his feet to find himself
with a couple of antagonists again. He would have had little chance against them had not the slender lady very pluckily pulled
up and returned to his help. It seems she had had a revolver all this time, but it had been under the seat when she and her
companion were attacked. She fired at six yards' distance, narrowly missing my brother. The less courageous of the robbers
made off, and his companion followed him, cursing his cowardice. They both stopped in sight down the lane, where the third
man lay insensible.
"Take this!" said the slender lady, and she gave my brother her revolver.
"Go back to the chaise," said my brother, wiping the blood from his split lip.
She turned without a word -- they were both panting -- and they went back to where the lady in white
struggled to hold back the frightened pony.
The robbers had evidently had enough of it. When my brother looked again they were retreating.
"I'll sit here," said my brother, "if I may"; and he got upon the empty front seat. The lady looked over
"Give me the reins," she said, and laid the whip along the pony's side. In another moment a bend in the
road hid the three men from my brother's eyes.
So, quite unexpectedly, my brother found himself, panting, with a cut mouth, a bruised jaw, and blood-stained
knuckles, driving along an unknown lane with these two women.
He learned they were the wife and the younger sister of a surgeon living at Stanmore, who had come in
the small hours from a dangerous case at Pinner, and heard at some railway station on his way of the Martian advance. He had
hurried home, roused the women -- their servant had left them two days before -- packed some provisions, put his revolver
under the seat -- luckily for my brother -- and told them to drive on to Edgware, with the idea of getting a train there.
He stopped behind to tell the neighbours. He would overtake them, he said, at about half past four in the morning, and now
it was nearly nine and they had seen nothing of him. They could not stop in Edgware because of the growing traffic through
the place, and so they had come into this side lane.
That was the story they told my brother in fragments when presently they stopped again, nearer to New
Barnet. He promised to stay with them, at least until they could determine what to do, or until the missing man arrived, and
professed to be an expert shot with the revolver -- a weapon strange to him -- in order to give them confidence.
They made a sort of encampment by the wayside, and the pony became happy in the hedge. He told them of
his own escape out of London, and all that he knew of these Martians and their ways. The sun crept higher in the sky, and
after a time their talk died out and gave place to an uneasy state of anticipation. Several wayfarers came along the lane,
and of these my brother gathered such news as he could. Every broken answer he had deepened his impression of the great disaster
that had come on humanity, deepened his persuasion of the immediate necessity for prosecuting this flight. He urged the matter
"We have money," said the slender woman, and hesitated.
Her eyes met my brother's, and her hesitation ended.
"So have I," said my brother.
She explained that they had as much as thirty pounds in gold, besides a five-pound note, and suggested
that with that they might get upon a train at St. Albans or New Barnet. My brother thought that was hopeless, seeing the fury
of the Londoners to crowd upon the trains, and broached his own idea of striking across Essex towards Harwich and thence escaping
from the country altogether.
Mrs. Elphinstone -- that was the name of the woman in white -- would listen to no reasoning, and kept
calling upon "George"; but her sister-in-law was astonishingly quiet and deliberate, and at last agreed to my brother's suggestion.
So, designing to cross the Great North Road, they went on towards Barnet, my brother leading the pony to save it as much as
As the sun crept up the sky the day became excessively hot, and under foot a thick, whitish sand grew
burning and blinding, so that they travelled only very slowly. The hedges were grey with dust. And as they advanced towards
Barnet a tumultuous murmuring grew stronger.
They began to meet more people. For the most part these were staring before them, murmuring indistinct
questions, jaded, haggard, unclean. One man in evening dress passed them on foot, his eyes on the ground. They heard his voice,
and, looking back at him, saw one hand clutched in his hair and the other beating invisible things. His paroxysm of rage over,
be went on his way without once looking back.
As my brother's party went on towards the crossroads to the south of Barnet they saw a woman approaching
the road across some fields on their left, carrying a child and with two other children; and then passed a man in dirty black,
with a thick stick in one hand and a small portmanteau in the other. Then round the corner of the lane, from between the villas
that guarded it at its confluence with the highroad, came a little, cart drawn by a sweating black pony and driven by a sallow
youth in a bowler hat, grey with dust. There were three girls, East End factory girls, and a couple of little children crowded
in the cart.
"This'll tike us rahnd Edgware?" asked the driver, wild-eyed, white-faced; and when my brother told him
it would if he turned to the left, he whipped up at once without the formality of thanks.
My brother noticed a pale grey smoke or haze rising among the houses in front of them, and veiling the
white facade of a terrace beyond the road that appeared between the backs of the villas. Mrs. Elphinstone suddenly cried out
at a number of tongues of smoky red flame leaping up above the houses in front of them against the hot, blue sky. The tumultuous
noise resolved itself now into the disorderly mangling of many voices, the gride of many wheels, the creaking of waggons,
and the staccato of hoofs. The lane came round sharply not fifty yards from the crossroads.
"Good heavens!" cried Mrs. Elphinstone. "What is this you are driving us into?"
My brother stopped.
For the main road was a boiling stream of people, a torrent of human beings rushing northward, one pressing
on another. A great bank of dust, white and luminous in the blaze of the sun, made everything within twenty feet of the ground
grey and indistinct and was perpetually renewed by the hurrying feet of a dense crowd of horses and of men and women on foot,
and by the wheels of vehicles of every description.
"Way!" my brother heard voices crying. "Make way!"
It was like riding into the smoke of a fire to approach the meeting point of the lane and road; the crowd
roared like a fire, and the dust was hot and pungent. And, indeed, a little way up the road a villa was burning and sending
rolling masses of black smoke across the road to add to the confusion.
Two men came past them. Then a dirty woman, carrying a heavy bundle and weeping. A lost retriever dog,
with hanging tongue, circled dubiously round them, scared and wretched, and fled at my brother's threat.
So much as they could see of the road Londonward between the houses to the right was a tumultuous stream
of dirty, hurrying people, pent in between the villas on either side; the black heads, the crowded forms, grew into distinctness
as they rushed towards the corner, hurried past, and merged their individuality again in a receding multitude that was swallowed
up at last in a cloud of dust.
"Go on! Go on!" cried the voices. "Way! Way!"
One man's hands pressed on the back of another. My brother stood at the pony's head. Irresistibly attracted,
he advanced slowly, pace by pace, down the lane.
Edgware had been a scene of confusion, Chalk Farm a riotous tumult, but this was a whole population in
movement. It is hard to imagine that host. It had no character of its own. The figures poured out past the corner, and receded
with their backs to the group in the lane. Along the margin came those who were on foot threatened by the wheels, stumbling
in the ditches, blundering into one another.
The carts and carriages crowded close upon one another, making little way for those swifter and more
impatient vehicles that darted forward every now and then when an opportunity showed itself of doing so, sending the people
scattering against the fences and gates of the villas.
"Push on!" was the cry. "Push on! They are coming!"
In one cart stood a blind man in the uniform of the Salvation Army, gesticulating with his crooked fingers
"Eternity! Eternity!" His voice was hoarse and very loud so that my brother could hear him long after he
was lost to sight in the dust. Some of the people who crowded in the carts whipped stupidly at their horse; and quarrelled
with other drivers; some sat motionless, staring at nothing with miserable eyes; some gnawed their hands with thirst, or lay
prostrate in the bottoms of their conveyances. The horses' bits were covered with foam, their eyes bloodshot.
There were cabs, carriages, shop cars, waggons, beyond counting; a mail cart, a road-cleaner's cart marked
"Vestry of St. Pancras," a huge timber waggon crowded with roughs. A brewer's dray rumbled by with its two near wheels splashed
with fresh blood.
"Clear the way!" cried the voice "Clear the way!"
"Eter-nity! Eter-nity!" came echoing down the road.
There were sad, haggard women tramping by, well dressed, with children that cried and stumbled, their
dainty clothes smothered in dust, their weary faces smeared with tears. With many of these came men, sometimes helpful, sometimes
lowering and savage. Fighting side by side with them pushed some weary street outcast in faded black rags, wide-eyed, loud-voiced,
and foul-mouthed. There were sturdy workmen thrusting their way along, wretched, unkempt men, clothed like clerks or shopmen,
struggling spasmodically; a wounded soldier my brother noticed, men dressed in the clothes of railway potters, one wretched
creature in a nightshirt with a coat thrown over it.
But varied as its composition was, certain things all that host had in common. There were fear and pain
on their faces, and fear behind them. A tumult up the road, a quarrel for a place in a waggon, sent the whole host of them
quickening their pace; even a man so scared and broken that his knees bent under him was galvanised for a moment into renewed
activity. The heat and dust had already been at work upon this multitude. Their skins were dry, their lips black and cracked.
They were all thirsty, weary, and footsore. And amid the various cries one heard disputes, reproaches, groans of weariness
and fatigue; the voices of most of them were hoarse and weak. Through it all ran a refrain:
"Way! Way! The Martians are coming!"
Few stopped and came aside from that flood. The lane opened slantingly into the main road with a narrow
opening, and had a delusive appearance of coming from the direction of London. Yet a kind of eddy of people drove into its
mouth; weaklings elbowed out of the stream, who for the most part rested but a moment before plunging into it again. A little
way down the lane, with two friends bending over him, lay a man with a bare leg, wrapped about with bloody rags. He was a
lucky man to have friends.
A little old man, with a grey military moustache and a filthy black frock coat, limped out and sat down
beside the trap, removed his boot -- his sock was blood-stained -- shook out a pebble, and hobbled on again; and then a little
girl of eight or nine, all alone, threw herself under the hedge close by my brother, weeping.
"I can't go on! I can't go on!"
My brother woke front his torpor of astonishment and lifted her up, speaking gently to her, and carried
her to Miss Elphinstone. So soon as my brother touched her she became quite still, as if frightened.
"Ellen!" shrieked a woman in the crowd, with tears in her voice -- "Ellen!" And the child suddenly darted
away from my brother, crying "Mother!"
"They are coming," said a man on horseback, riding past along the lane.
Out of the way, there!" bawled a coachman, towering high; and my brother saw a closed carriage turning
into the lane.
The people crushed back on one another to avoid the horse. My brother pushed the pony and chaise hack
into the hedge, and the man drove by and stopped at the turn of the way. It was a carriage, with a pole for a pair of horses,
but only one was in the traces. My brother saw dimly through the dust that two men lifted out something on a white stretcher
and put it gently on the grass beneath the privet hedge. One of the men came running to my brother.
there any water?" he said. "He is dying fast, and very thirsty. It is Lord Garrick."
"Lord Garrick!" said my brother; "the Chief Justice?"
"The water?" he said.
"There may be a tap," said my brother, "in some of the houses. We have no water. I dare not leave my
The man pushed against the crowd towards the gate of the corner house.
"Go on!" said the people, thrusting at him. "They are coming! Go on."
Then my brother's attention was distracted by a bearded, eagle-faced man lugging a small handbag, which
split even as my brother's eyes rested on it and disgorged a mass of sovereigns that seemed to break up into separate coins
as it struck the ground. They rolled hither and thither among the struggling feet of men and horses. The man stopped and looked
stupidly at the heap, and the shaft of a cab struck his shoulder and sent him reeling. He gave a shriek and dodged back, and
a wheel shaved him narrowly.
"Way!" cried the men all about him. "Make way!"
So soon as the cab had passed, he flung himself, with both hands open, upon the heap of coins, and began
thrusting handfuls in his pocket. A horse rose close upon him, and in another moment, half rising, he had been borne down
under the horse's hoofs.
"Stop!" screamed my brother, and pushing a woman out of his way, tried to clutch the bit of the horse.
Before he could get to it, he heard a scream under the wheels, and saw through the dust the rim passing
over the poor wretch's back. The driver of the cart slashed his whip at my brother, who ran round behind the cart. The multitudinous
shouting confused his ears. The man was writhing in the dust among his scattered money, unable to rise, for the wheel had
broken his back, and his lower limbs lay limp and dead. My brother stood up and yelled at the next driver, and a man on a
black horse came to his assistance.
"Get him out of the road," said he; and, clutching the man's collar with his free hand, my brother lugged
him sideways. But he still clutched after his money, and regarded my brother fiercely, hammering at his arm with a handful
of gold. "Go on! Go on!" shouted angry voices behind. "Way! Way!"
There was a smash as the pole of a carriage crashed into the cart that the man on horseback stopped.
My brother looked up, and the man with the gold twisted his head round and bit the wrist that held his collar. There was a
concussion, and the black horse came staggering sideways, and the carthorse pushed beside it. A hoof missed my brother's foot
by a hair's breadth. He released his grip on the fallen man and jumped back. He saw anger change to terror on the face of
the poor wretch on the ground, and in a moment he was hidden and my brother was borne backward and carried past the entrance
of the lane, and had to fight hard in the torrent to recover it.
He saw Miss Elphinstone covering her eyes, and a little child, with all a child's want of sympathetic
imagination, staring with dilated eyes at a dusty something that lay black and still, ground and crushed under the rolling
wheels. "Let us go back!" he shouted, and began turning the pony round. "We cannot cross this -- hell," he said and they went
back a hundred yards the way they had come, until the fighting crowd was hidden. As they passed the bend in the lane my brother
saw the face of the dying man in the ditch under the privet, deadly white and drawn, and shining with perspiration. The two
women sat silent, crouching in their seat and shivering.
Then beyond the bend my brother stopped again. Miss Elphinstone was white and pale, and her sister-in-law
sat weeping, too wretched even to call upon "George." My brother was horrified and perplexed. So soon as they had retreated
he realized how urgent and unavoidable it was to attempt this crossing. He turned to Miss Elphinstone, suddenly resolute.
"We must go that way," he said, and led the pony round again.
For the second time that day this girl proved her quality. To force their way into the torrent of people,
my brother plunged into the traffic and held back a cab horse, while she drove the pony across its head. A waggon locked wheels
for a moment and ripped a long splinter from the chaise. In another moment they were caught and swept forward by the stream.
My brother, with the cabman's whip marks red across his face and hands, scrambled into the chaise and took the reins from
"Point the revolver at the man behind," he said, giving it to her, "if he presses us too hard. No! --
point it at his horse."
Then he began to look out for a chance of edging to the right across the road. But once in the stream
he seemed to lose volition, to become a part of that dusty rout. They swept through Chipping Barnet with the torrent; the
were nearly a mile beyond the centre of the town before they had fought across to the opposite side of the way. It was din
and confusion indescribable; but in and beyond the town the road forks repeatedly, and this to some extent relieved the stress.
They struck eastward through Hadley, and there on either side of the road, and at another place farther
on they came upon a great multitude of people drinking at the stream, some fighting to come at the water. And farther on,
from a hill near East Barnet, they saw two trains running slowly one after the other without signal or order -- trains swarming
with people, with men even among the coals behind the engine -- going northward along the Great Northern Railway. My brother
supposes they must have filled outside London, for at that time the furious terror of the people had rendered the central
Near this place they halted for the rest of the afternoon, for the violence of the day had already utterly
exhausted all three of them. They began to suffer the beginnings of hunger; the night was cold, and none of them dared to
sleep. And in the evening many people came hurrying along the road near by their stopping place, fleeing from unknown dangers
before them, and going in the direction from which my brother had come.