Đ WOR OV Đ WRLDZ │ H. J. WLZ

ĆAPTRZ

BC WN: 1 – Ɖ īv ov ɖ wor2 – Ɖ fōlñstar3 – On Horsl Comn4 – Đ silindr opnz5 – Ɖ hītre6 – Ɖ hītre in ɖ Ćobm Rod7 – Hǎ I rīćt hom8 – Frîde Nît9 – Ɖ fîtñ bginz10 – In ɖ storm; 11 – At ɖ windo; 12 – Ẃt I sw ov ɖ dstrux́n ov Wêbrij n Śeṗtn; 13 – Hǎ I fél in wɖ ɖ kṛt; 14 – In Lundn; 15 – Ẃt hd hapnd in Suri; 16 – Ɖ x̣ds fṛm Lundn; 17 – Ɖ “Ʈundr Ćîld”

BC TŪ: 1 – Undr ft2 – Ẃt wi sw fṛm ɖ ruind hǎs3 – Đ dez v impriznmnt4 – Đ deʈ ov ɖ kṛt5 – Đ stilnis6 – Đ wrc ov fiftīn dez7 – Đ man on Putni Hil8 – Ded Lundn9 – Recij10 – Đ eṗlog

 

IḶSTREŚNZ

BC WN

Ɖ CMÑ V Ɖ MARŚNZ

 

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ĆAPTR WN

 

Ɖ ĪV V Ɖ WOR

 

N

wn wd hv b’livd in ɖ last yirz v ɖ nîntīnʈ snćri ɖt ɖs wrld wz biyñ woćt cīnli n closli bî intelijnsz gretr ɖn man’z n yt az mortl az hiz ǒn; ɖt az men bizid ɖmslvz abt ɖer verịs cnsrnz ɖe wr scrūṭnîzd n studid, phps olmst az naroli az a man wɖ a mîcṛscop mt scrūṭnîz ɖ tranzịnt crīćrz ɖt sworm n mulṭplî in a drop v wōtr. Wɖ infiṇt cmplesnsi men wnt t n fro ovr ɖs glob abt ɖer litl aferz, srīn in ɖer aśuṛns v ɖer empîr ovr matr. It z poṣbl ɖt ɖ infyzoria undr ɖ mîcṛscop d ɖ sem. Nwn gev a ʈt t ɖ oldr wrldz v spes az sorsz v hymn denjr, or ʈt v ɖm onli t dsmis ɖ îdīa v lîf upn ɖm az imposbl or improbbl. It z krịs t rcōl sm v ɖ mntl habits v ɖoz dpartd dez. At most t’restrịl men fansid ɖr mt b uɖr men upn Marz, phps infirịr t ɖmslvz n redi t welcm a miśnri enṭprîz. Yt acrs ɖ gulf v spes, mîndz ɖt r t ǎr mîndz az ǎrz r t ɖoz v ɖ bīsts ɖt periś, inṭlects vast n cūl n unsimṗʈetic, rgardd ɖs rʈ wɖ envịs îz, n slǒli n śrli drù ɖer planz agnst s. N rli in ɖ twentịʈ snćri cem ɖ gret disiluźnmnt.

Ɖ planit Marz, I scersli nīd rmînd ɖ rīdr, rvolvz abt ɖ sún at a mīn distns v 140,000,000 mîlz, n ɖ lît n hīt it rsivz fṛm ɖ sún z bérli haf v ɖt rsivd bî ɖs wrld. It mst b, f ɖ nebylr hîpoʈ̇sis hz eni truʈ, oldr ɖn ǎr wrld; n loñ bfr ɖs rʈ sīst t b moltn, lîf upn its srfis mst hv bgun its cors. Ɖ fact ɖt it z scersli wn sevnʈ v ɖ volym v ɖ rʈ mst hv axeḷretd its cūlñ t ɖ tmpṛćr at ẃć lîf cd bgin. It hz er n wōtr n ol ɖt z nesṣri fr ɖ s’port v aṇmetd xistns.

Yt so ven z man, n so blîndd bî hiz vaṇti, ɖt no raitr, p t ɖ vri end v ɖ nîntīnʈ snćri, xprest eni îdīa ɖt intelijnt lîf mt hv dveḷpt ɖr far, or indd at ol, bynd its rʈli levl. Nr wz it jenṛli unḍstd ɖt sins Marz z oldr ɖn ǎr rʈ, wɖ scersli a qortr v ɖ sūṗfiśl eria n rmotr fṛm ɖ sún, it nesseṛli foloz ɖt it z nt onli mor distnt fṛm tîm’z bginñ bt nirr its end.

Ɖ seklr cūlñ ɖt mst smde oṿtec ǎr planit hz olrdi gn far indd wɖ ǎr nebr. Its fizicl cndiśn z stl larjli a misṭri, bt w nǒ nǎ ɖt īvn in its eqtorịl rījn ɖ miḑe tmpṛćr bérli aproćz ɖt v ǎr coldist wintr. Its er z mć mor ateńuetd ɖn ǎrz, its ośnz hv śrunc untl ɖe cuvr bt a ʈrd v its srfis, n az its slo sīznz ćenj hyj snǒcaps gaɖr n mlt abt îɖr pol n piriodicli inndet its tmpṛt zonz. Ɖt last stej v xōsćn, ẃć t s z stl increḍbli rmot, hz bcm a preznt-de probḷm fr ɖ inhabitnts v Marz. Ɖ imījt preśr v nseṣti hz brîtnd ɖer inṭlects, inlarjd ɖer pǎrz, n hardnd ɖer hārts. N lcñ acrs spes wɖ instṛmnts, n intelijnsz sć az w hv scersli dremt v, ɖe si, at its nirist distns onli 35,000,000 v mîlz súnẉd v ɖm, a mornñstar v hop, ǎr ǒn wormr planit, grīn wɖ vejteśn n gre wɖ wōtr, wɖ a clǎdi atṃsfir eḷqnt v ftiḷti, wɖ glimsz ʈru its driftñ clǎdwisps v brōd strećz v popyḷs cuntri n naro, nevi-crǎdd sìz.

N w men, ɖ crīćrz hu inhabit ɖs rʈ, mst b t ɖm at līst az ełn n loli az r ɖ munciz n līmrz t s. Ɖ inṭlecćl sîd v man olrdi admits ɖt lîf z an insesnt strugl fr xistns, n it wd sīm ɖt ɖs tù z ɖ b’lif v ɖ mîndz upn Marz. Ɖer wrld z far gn in its cūlñ n ɖs wrld z stl crǎdd wɖ lîf, bt crǎdd onli wɖ ẃt ɖe rgard az infirịr animlz. T cari worfér súnẉd z, indd, ɖer onli iscep fṛm ɖ dstrux́n ɖt, jeṇreśn aftr jeṇreśn, crīps upn ɖm.

N bfr w juj v ɖm tù harśli w mst rmembr ẃt ruʈlis n utr dstrux́n ǎr ǒn spīśīz hz ròt, nt onli upn animlz, sć az ɖ vaniśt bîsn n ɖ dǒdo, bt upn its infirịr resz. Ɖ Tazmeńnz, in spît v ɖer hymn lîcnis, wr intîrli swept ǎt v xistns in a wor v xtrṃneśn wejd bî Yṛpiyn imigṛnts, in ɖ spes v fifti yirz. R w sć aposlz v mrsi az t cmplen f ɖ Marśnz wòrd in ɖ sem spirit?

Ɖ Marśnz sīm t hv calkletd ɖer dsent wɖ amezñ sutlti – ɖer maʈ̇maticl lrnñ z evidntli far in xes v ǎrz – n t hv carid ǎt ɖer preṗreśnz wɖ a wel-nî prfict ynniṃti. Hd ǎr instṛmnts pmitd it, w mt hv sìn ɖ gaɖ̇rñ trubl far bac in ɖ nîntīnʈ snćri. Men lîc Śaṗreli woćt ɖ red planit – it z od, bî-ɖ-bî, ɖt fr cǎntlis snć̣riz Marz hz bn ɖ star v wor – bt feld t intrprit ɖ flucćuetñ apiṛnsz v ɖ marcñz ɖe mapt so wel. Ol ɖt tîm ɖ Marśnz mst hv bn gtñ redi.

Jrñ ɖ opziśn v 1894 a gret lît wz sìn on ɖ iluṃnetd part v ɖ disc, frst at ɖ Lic Obzrṿtri, ɖen bî Perotĩ v Nīs, n ɖen bî uɖr obzrvrz. Ñgliś rīdrz hŕd v it frst in ɖ iśu v Nećr detd Ōġst 2. I am inclînd t ʈnc ɖt ɖs blêz me hv bn ɖ castñ v ɖ hyj gun, in ɖ vast pit sunc intu ɖer planit, fṛm ẃć ɖer śots wr fîrd at s. Pkłr marcñz, az yt unxplend, wr sìn nir ɖ sait v ɖt ǎtbrec jrñ ɖ nxt tū oṗziśnz.

Ɖ storm brst upn s six yirz ago nǎ. Az Marz aproćt opziśn, Lvél v Jāva set ɖ wîrz v ɖ astṛnomicl xćenj palṗtetñ wɖ ɖ amezñ intelijns v a hyj ǎtbrec v incandesnt gas upn ɖ planit. It hd ocŕd twdz midnît v ɖ twelfʈ; n ɖ spectṛscop, t ẃć h hd at wns rzortd, indicetd a mas v flemñ gas, ćīfli hîdṛjn, muvñ wɖ an inorṃs vloṣti twdz ɖs rʈ. Ɖs jet v fîr hd bcm inviẓbl abt a qortr past twelv. H cmperd it t a c’losl puf v flem sudnli n vayḷntli sqrtd ǎt v ɖ planit, “az flemñ gasz ruśt ǎt v a gun.”

A snğlrli aproprịt frêz it pruvd. Yt ɖ nxt de ɖr wz nʈñ v ɖs in ɖ peprz xpt a litl not in ɖ Dêli Teḷgraf, n ɖ wrld wnt in ignṛns v wn v ɖ grevist denjrz ɖt evr ʈretnd ɖ hymn res. I mt nt hv hŕd v ɖ irupśn at ol hd I nt met Oglvi, ɖ wel-noun astroṇmr, at Oṭśw. H wz imnsli xîtd at ɖ nyz, n in ɖ xes v hiz fīlñz invîtd m p t tec a trn wɖ him ɖt nît in a scrūṭni v ɖ red planit.

In spît v ol ɖt hz hapnd sins, I stl rmembr ɖt vijil vri dstñtli: ɖ blac n sîḷnt obzrṿtri, ɖ śadoud lantn ʈrowñ a fībl glo upn ɖ flor in ɖ cornr, ɖ stedi ticñ v ɖ clocwrc v ɖ teḷscop, ɖ litl slit in ɖ rūf – an obloñ pṛfundti wɖ ɖ stardust strīct acrs it. Oglvi muvd abt, inviẓbl bt ōḍbl. Lcñ ʈru ɖ teḷscop, wn sw a srcl v dīp blu n ɖ litl rǎnd planit swimñ in ɖ fīld. It sīmd sć a litl ʈñ, so brît n smōl n stil, fentli marct wɖ tranzvrs strîps, n slîtli flatnd fṛm ɖ prfict rǎnd. Bt so litl it wz, so silṿri worm – a pin’z-hed v lît! It wz az f it qivrd, bt riyli ɖs wz ɖ teḷscop vîbretñ wɖ ɖ activti v ɖ clocwrc ɖt cept ɖ planit in vy.

Az I woćt, ɖ planit sīmd t gro larjr n smōlr n t advans n rsid, bt ɖt wz simpli ɖt mî î wz tîrd. Forti miłnz v mîlz it wz fṛm s – mor ɖn forti miłnz v mîlz v vôd. Fy ppl riylîz ɖ imnṣti v vecnsi in ẃć ɖ dust v ɖ mtirịl ynivrs swimz.

Nir it in ɖ fīld, I rmembr, wr ʈri fent pônts v lît, ʈri teḷscopic starz infiṇtli rmot, n ol arnd it wz ɖ unfaɖṃbl darcnis v emti spes. Y nǒ hǎ ɖt blacnis lcs on a frosti starlît nît. In a teḷscop it sīmz far pṛfǎndr. N inviẓbl t m bcz it wz so rmot n smōl, flayñ swiftli n steḍli twdz m acrs ɖt increḍbl distns, drw̃ nirr evri minit bî so mni ʈǎzndz v mîlz, cem ɖ Ʈñ ɖe wr sndñ s, ɖ Ʈñ ɖt wz t brñ so mć strugl n c’laṃti n deʈ t ɖ rʈ. I nvr dremt v it ɖen az I woćt; nwn on rʈ dremt v ɖt unŕñ misîl.

Ɖt nît, tù, ɖr wz anɖr jetñ ǎt v gas fṛm ɖ distnt planit. I sw it. A rediś flaś at ɖ éj, ɖ slîtist pṛjx́n v ɖ ǎtlîn jst az ɖ cṛnomitr struc midnît; n at ɖt I tld Oglvi n h tc mî ples. Ɖ nît wz worm n I wz ʈrsti, n I wnt strećñ mî legz clumẓli n fīlñ mî we in ɖ darcnis, t ɖ litl tebl ẃr ɖ sîfn std, ẃl Oglvi xclemd at ɖ strīmr v gas ɖt cem ǎt twdz s.

Ɖt nît anɖr inviẓbl misîl startd on its we t ɖ rʈ fṛm Marz, jst a secnd or so undr twenti-for aurz aftr ɖ frst wn. I rmembr hǎ I sat on ɖ tebl ɖr in ɖ blacnis, wɖ paćz v grīn n crimzn swimñ bfr mî îz. I wśt I hd a lît t smoc bî, litl sspctñ ɖ mīnñ v ɖ mînyt glīm I hd sìn n ol ɖt it wd prezntli brñ m. Oglvi woćt tl wn, n ɖen gev it p; n w lit ɖ lantn n wōct ovr t hiz hǎs. Dǎn b’lo in ɖ darcnis wr Oṭśw n Ćrtsi n ol ɖer hundṛdz v ppl, slīpñ in pīs.

H wz fl v spekleśn ɖt nît abt ɖ cndiśn v Marz, n scoft at ɖ vulgr îdīa v its hvñ inhabitnts hu wr sigṇlñ s. Hiz îdīa wz ɖt mītịrîts mt b fōlñ in a hevi śǎr upn ɖ planit, or ɖt a hyj vlcanic xploźn wz in progres. H pôntd ǎt t m hǎ unlîcli it wz ɖt organic īṿluśn hd tecn ɖ sem d’rex́n in ɖ tū ajesnt planits.

“Ɖ ćansz agnst enʈñ manlîc on Marz r a miłn t wn,” h sd.

Hundṛdz v obzrvrz sw ɖ flem ɖt nît n ɖ nît aftr abt midnît, n agn ɖ nît aftr; n so fr ten nîts, a flem ć nît. Ẃ ɖ śots sīst aftr ɖ tnʈ nwn on rʈ hz atmtd t xplen. It me b ɖ gasz v ɖ fîrñ cōzd ɖ Marśnz incnvińns. Dns clǎdz v smoc or dust, viẓbl ʈru a pǎrfl teḷscop on rʈ az litl gre, flucćuetñ paćz, spred ʈru ɖ clirnis v ɖ planit’s atṃsfir n obskrd its mor fmiłr fīćrz.

Īvn ɖ dêli peprz wouc p t ɖ dstrbnsz at last, n popylr nots apird hir, ɖr, n evrẃr cnsrnñ ɖ vlcenoz upn Marz. Ɖ siriocomic piriodicl Punć, I rmembr, md a hapi ys v it in ɖ p’liticl cartūn. N, ol unsspctd, ɖoz misîlz ɖ Marśnz hd fîrd at s drù rʈẉd, ruśñ nǎ at a pes v mni mîlz a secnd ʈru ɖ emti gulf v spes, aur bî aur n de bî de, nirr n nirr. It sīmz t m nǎ olmst increḍbli wundrfl ɖt, wɖ ɖt swift fet haññ ovr s, men cd g abt ɖer peti cnsrnz az ɖe dd. I rmembr hǎ jūbilnt Marcm wz at s’krñ a ny foṭgraf v ɖ planit fr ɖ iḷstretd pepr h eḍtd in ɖoz dez. Ppl in ɖz latr tîmz scersli riylîz ɖ abundns n enṭprîz v ǎr nîntīnʈ-snćri peprz. Fr mî ǒn part, I wz mć okpaid in lrnñ t rîd ɖ bîsicl, n bizi upn a siriz v peprz dscusñ ɖ probbl dveḷpmnts v moṛl îdīaz az siṿlîześn pṛgrest.

Wn nît (ɖ frst misîl ɖen cd scersli hv bn 10,000,000 mîlz awe) I wnt fr a wōc wɖ mî wîf. It wz starlît n I xplend ɖ Sînz v ɖ Zodiac t hr, n pôntd ǎt Marz, a brît dot v lît crīpñ zeniʈẉd, twdz ẃć so mni teḷscops wr pôntd. It wz a worm nît. Cmñ hom, a parti v xcrṣ́nists fṛm Ćrtsi or Îzlẉʈ pást s sññ n pleyñ ḿzic. Ɖr wr lîts in ɖ upr windoz v ɖ hǎzz az ɖ ppl wnt t bed. Fṛm ɖ relwe-steśn in ɖ distns cem ɖ sǎnd v śuntñ trenz, rññ n rumḅlñ, sofnd olmst intu meḷdi bî ɖ distns. Mî wîf pôntd ǎt t m ɖ brîtnis v ɖ red, grīn, n yelo signļîts haññ in a fremwrc agnst ɖ scî. It sīmd so sef n tranqil.

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ĆAPTR TŪ

Ɖ FŌLÑSTAR

Ɖ

en cem ɖ nît v ɖ frst fōlñstar. It wz sìn rli in ɖ mornñ, ruśñ ovr Winćestr īstẉd, a lîn v flem hî in ɖ atṃsfir. Hundṛdz mst hv sìn it, n tecn it fr an ordnri fōlñstar. Albin dscrîbd it az līvñ a grīniś strīc bhnd it ɖt gloud fr sm secndz. Denñ, ǎr gretist oʈoṛti on mītịrîts, stetd ɖt ɖ hît v its frst apiṛns wz abt nînti or wn hundṛd mîlz. It sīmd t him ɖt it fél t rʈ abt wn hundṛd mîlz īst v him.

I wz at hom at ɖt aur n raitñ in mî studi; n olɖo mî Frenć windoz fes twdz Oṭśw n ɖ blînd wz p (fr I luvd in ɖoz dez t lc p at ɖ nîtscî), I sw nʈñ v it. Yt ɖs strenjist v ol ʈñz ɖt evr cem t rʈ fṛm ǎtr spes mst hv fōḷn ẃl I wz sitñ ɖr, viẓbl t m hd I onli lct p az it pást. Sm v ɖoz hu sw its flît se it travld wɖ a hisñ sǎnd. I mslf hŕd nʈñ v ɖt. Mni ppl in Barx́r, Suri, n Midlsx mst hv sìn ɖ fōl v it, n, at most, hv ʈt ɖt anɖr mītịrît hd dsndd. Nwn sīmz t hv trubld t lc fr ɖ fōḷn mas ɖt nît.

Bt vri rli in ɖ mornñ pur Oglvi, hu hd sìn ɖ śūtñstar n hu wz pswedd ɖt a mītịrît le smẃr on ɖ comn btwn Horsl, Oṭśw, n Wǒcñ, rouz rli wɖ ɖ îdīa v fîndñ it. Fînd it h dd, sn aftr dōn, n nt far fṛm ɖ sandpits. An inorṃs houl hd bn md bî ɖ impact v ɖ pṛjctîl, n ɖ sand n gravl hd bn fluñ vayḷntli in evri d’rex́n ovr ɖ hīʈ, formñ hīps viẓbl a mîl n a haf awe. Ɖ heɖr wz on fîr īstẉd, n a ʈin blu smoc rouz agnst ɖ dōn.

Ɖ Ʈñ itslf le olmst intîrli berid in sand, amdst ɖ scatrd splintrz v a fr̋trī it hd śivrd t fragmnts in its dsent. Ɖ uncuvrd part hd ɖ apiṛns v a hyj silindr, cect ovr n its ǎtlîn sofnd bî a ʈic sceli dun-culrd incrusteśn. It hd a dîamitr v abt ʈrti yardz. H aproćt ɖ mas, s’prîzd at ɖ sîz n mor so at ɖ śep, sins most mītịrîts r rǎndd mor or les cmplitli. It wz, hvr, stl so hot fṛm its flît ʈru ɖ er az t fbid hiz nir aproć. A stŕñ nôz wɖn its silindr h ascrîbd t ɖ unīql cūlñ v its srfis; fr at ɖt tîm it hd nt ocŕd t him ɖt it mt b holo.

H rmend standñ at ɖ éj v ɖ pit ɖt ɖ Ʈñ hd md fr itslf, stẹrñ at its strenj apiṛns, astoniśt ćīfli at its unyźl śep n culr, n dimli psivñ īvn ɖen sm evidns v dzîn in its arîvl. Ɖ rli mornñ wz wundrf̣li stil, n ɖ sún, jst clirñ ɖ pîntrīz twdz Wêbrij, wz olrdi worm. H dd nt rmembr hírñ eni brdz ɖt mornñ, ɖr wz srtnli no brīz stŕñ, n ɖ onli sǎndz wr ɖ fent muvmnts fṛm wɖn ɖ sinḍri silindr. H wz ol alon on ɖ comn.

Ɖen sudnli h notist wɖ a start ɖt sm v ɖ gre clincr, ɖ aśi incrusteśn ɖt cuvrd ɖ mītịrît, wz fōlñ of ɖ srklr éj v ɖ end. It wz dropñ of in flecs n renñ dǎn upn ɖ sand. A larj pìs sudnli cem of n fél wɖ a śarp nôz ɖt bròt hiz hart intu hiz mǎʈ.

Fr a minit h scersli riylîzd ẃt ɖs mnt, n, olɖo ɖ hīt wz xesiv, h clambrd dǎn intu ɖ pit clos t ɖ bulc t si ɖ Ʈñ mor clirli. H fansid īvn ɖen ɖt ɖ cūlñ v ɖ bodi mt acǎnt fr ɖs, bt ẃt dstrbd ɖt îdīa wz ɖ fact ɖt ɖ aś wz fōlñ onli fṛm ɖ end v ɖ silindr.

N ɖen h psivd ɖt, vri slǒli, ɖ srklr top v ɖ silindr wz r’tetñ on its bodi. It wz sć a grajl muvmnt ɖt h dscuvrd it onli ʈru noṭsñ ɖt a blac marc ɖt hd bn nir him fîv minits ago wz nǎ at ɖ uɖr sîd v ɖ s’cumfṛns. Īvn ɖen h scersli unḍstd ẃt ɖs indicetd, untl h hŕd a mufld greitñ sǎnd n sw ɖ blac marc jrc fwd an inć or so. Ɖen ɖ ʈñ cem upn him in a flaś. Ɖ silindr wz arṭfiśl – holo – wɖ an end ɖt scrùd ǎt! Smʈñ wɖn ɖ silindr wz unscruwñ ɖ top!

“Gd hevnz!” sd Oglvi. “Ɖr’z a man in it – men in it! Haf rostd t deʈ! Trayñ t iscep!”

At wns, wɖ a qc mntl līp, h linct ɖ Ʈñ wɖ ɖ flaś upn Marz.

Ɖ ʈt v ɖ cnfînd crīćr wz so dredfl t him ɖt h fgot ɖ hīt n wnt fwd t ɖ silindr t hlp trn. Bt luc̣li ɖ dul redieśn arestd him bfr h cd brn hiz handz on ɖ stl-glowñ metl. At ɖt h std ireẓlut fr a momnt, ɖen trnd, scrambld ǎt v ɖ pit, n set of runñ wîldli intu Wǒcñ. Ɖ tîm ɖen mst hv bn smẃr abt six o’cloc. H met a waġnr n traid t mc him unḍstand, bt ɖ têl h tld n hiz apiṛns wr so wîld – hiz hat hd fōḷn of in ɖ pit – ɖt ɖ man simpli drouv on. H wz īqli unṣxesfl wɖ ɖ potmn hu wz jst unlocñ ɖ dorz v ɖ publichǎs bî Horsl Brij. Ɖ felo ʈt h wz a lūṇtic at larj n md an unṣxesfl atmt t śut him intu ɖ taprūm. Ɖt sobrd him a litl; n ẃn h sw Hnḍsn, ɖ Lundn jrṇlist, in hiz gardn, h cōld ovr ɖ pêlñz n md himslf unḍstd.

“Hnḍsn,” h cōld, “y sw ɖt śūtñstar last nît?”

“Wel?” sd Hnḍsn.

“It’s ǎt on Horsl Comn nǎ.”

“Gd Lord!” sd Hnḍsn. “Fōḷn mītịrît! Ɖt’s gd.”

“Bt it’s smʈñ mor ɖn a mītịrît. It’s a silindr – an arṭfiśl silindr, man! N ɖr’z smʈñ insd.”

Hnḍsn std p wɖ hiz sped in hiz hand.

“Ẃt’s ɖt?” h sd. H wz def in wn ir.

Oglvi tld him ol ɖt h hd sìn. Hnḍsn wz a minit or so tecñ it in. Ɖen h dropt hiz sped, snaćt p hiz jacit, n cem ǎt intu ɖ rod. Ɖ tū men hurid bac at wns t ɖ comn, n faund ɖ silindr stl layñ in ɖ sem pziśn. Bt nǎ ɖ sǎndz insd hd sīst, n a ʈin srcl v brît metl śoud btwn ɖ top n ɖ bodi v ɖ silindr. Er wz îɖr enṭrñ or iscepñ at ɖ rim wɖ a ʈin, siẓlñ sǎnd.

Ɖe lisnd, rapt on ɖ sceli brnt metl wɖ a stic, n, mītñ wɖ no rspons, ɖe bʈ cncludd ɖ man or men insd mst b insnsbl or ded.

V cors ɖ tū wr qt unebl t d enʈñ. Ɖe śǎtd conṣleśn n proṃsz, n wnt of bac t ɖ tǎn agn t gt hlp. Wn cn imajn ɖm, cuvrd wɖ sand, xîtd n dsordrd, runñ p ɖ litl strīt in ɖ brît súnlît jst az ɖ śopfocs wr tecñ dǎn ɖer śutrz n ppl wr oṗnñ ɖer bedrūm windoz. Hnḍsn wnt intu ɖ relwe-steśn at wns, in ordr t teḷgraf ɖ nyz t Lundn. Ɖ nyzpepr articlz hd priperd men’z mîndz fr ɖ rspśn v ɖ îdīa.

Bî et o’cloc a numbr v bôz n unimploid men hd olrdi startd fr ɖ comn t si ɖ “ded men fṛm Marz.” Ɖt wz ɖ form ɖ stori tc. I hŕd v it frst fṛm mî nyzpepr bô abt a qortr t nîn ẃn I wnt ǎt t gt mî Dêli Cronicl. I wz naćṛli startld, n lost no tîm in gwñ ǎt n acrs ɖ Oṭśw brij t ɖ sandpits.

___

ĆAPTR ƮRI

ON HORSL COMN

I

 faund a litl crǎd v phps twenti ppl srǎndñ ɖ hyj houl in ẃć ɖ silindr le. I hv olrdi dscrîbd ɖ apiṛns v ɖt c’losl bulc, imbedd in ɖ grǎnd. Ɖ trf n gravl abt it sīmd ćard az f bî a sudn xploźn. No dǎt its impact hd cōzd a flaś v fîr. Hnḍsn n Oglvi wr nt ɖr. I ʈnc ɖe psivd ɖt nʈñ wz t b dn fr ɖ preznt, n hd gn awe t brecfst at Hnḍsn’z hǎs.

Ɖr wr for or fîv bôz sitñ on ɖ éj v ɖ Pit, wɖ ɖer fīt danġlñ, n aḿzñ ɖmslvz – untl I stopt ɖm – bî ʈrowñ stonz at ɖ jaynt mas. Aftr I hd spocn t ɖm abt it, ɖe bgan pleyñ at “tuć” in n ǎt v ɖ grūp v bîstandrz.

Amñ ɖz wr a cupl v sîclists, a jobñ gardnr I imploid smtmz, a grl cariyñ a bebi, Grég ɖ bćr n hiz litl bô, n tū or ʈri loufrz n golf cadiz hu wr acustmd t hañ abt ɖ relwe-steśn. Ɖr wz vri litl tōcñ. Fy v ɖ comn ppl in Ñgḷnd hd enʈñ bt ɖ vegist astṛnomicl îdīaz in ɖoz dez. Most v ɖm wr stẹrñ qaytli at ɖ big tebļîc end v ɖ silindr, ẃć wz stl az Oglvi n Hnḍsn hd left it. I fansi ɖ popylr xpcteśn v a hīp v ćard corpsz wz dis’pôntd at ɖs inaniṃt bulc. Sm wnt awe ẃl I wz ɖr, n uɖr ppl cem. I clambrd intu ɖ pit n fansid I hŕd a fent muvmnt undr mî fīt. Ɖ top hd srtnli sīst t r’tet.

It wz onli ẃn I got ɖus clos t it ɖt ɖ strenjnis v ɖs objict wz at ol evidnt t m. At ɖ frst glans it wz riyli no mor xîtñ ɖn an oṿtrnd carij or a tri bloun acrs ɖ rod. Nt so mć so, indd. It lct lîc a rusti gasflot. It rqîrd a srtn amǎnt v sạntific edyceśn t psiv ɖt ɖ gre scel v ɖ Ʈñ wz no comn oxîd, ɖt ɖ yelǒiś-ẃît metl ɖt glīmd in ɖ crac btwn ɖ lid n ɖ silindr hd an unfmiłr hy. “Xtṛṭrestrịl” hd no mīnñ fr most v ɖ onlŭcrz.

At ɖt tîm it wz qt clir in mî ǒn mînd ɖt ɖ Ʈñ hd cm fṛm ɖ planit Marz, bt I jujd it improbbl ɖt it cntend eni livñ crīćr. I ʈt ɖ unscruwñ mt b ōṭmatic. In spît v Oglvi, I stl b’livd ɖt ɖr wr men in Marz. Mî mînd ran fansifli on ɖ posbiḷtiz v its cntenñ mańscript, on ɖ dificltiz in trnzleśn ɖt mt arîz, ẃɖr w śd fînd cônz n modlz in it, n so fʈ. Yt it wz a litl tù larj fr aśuṛns on ɖs îdīa. I flt an impeśns t si it opnd. Abt ilevn, az nʈñ sīmd haṗnñ, I wōct bac, fl v sć ʈt, t mî hom in Mêḅri. Bt I faund it dificlt t gt t wrc upn mî abstract invstgeśnz.

In ɖ afṭnun ɖ apiṛns v ɖ comn hd oltrd vri mć. Ɖ rli idiśnz v ɖ īvnñpeprz hd startld Lundn wɖ inorṃs hedlînz:

“A MESIJ RSIVD FṚM MARZ.”

“RMARCBL STORI FṚM WǑCÑ,”

n so fʈ. In adiśn, Oglvi’z wîr t ɖ Astṛnomicl Xćenj hd rǎzd evri obzrṿtri in ɖ ʈri cñdmz.

Ɖr wr haf a duzn flîz or mor fṛm ɖ Wǒcñ steśn standñ in ɖ rod bî ɖ sandpits, a bascitśêz fṛm Ćobm, n a rɖr lordli carij. Bsdz ɖt, ɖr wz qt a hīp v bîsiclz. In adiśn, a larj numbr v ppl mst hv wōct, in spît v ɖ hīt v ɖ de, fṛm Wǒcñ n Ćrtsi, so ɖt ɖr wz oltgɖr qt a cnsidṛbl crǎd – wn or tū gêli drest lediz amñ ɖ uɖrz.

It wz glẹrñli hot, nt a clǎd in ɖ scî nr a breʈ v wind, n ɖ onli śado wz ɖt v ɖ fy scatrd pîntrīz. Ɖ brnñ heɖr hd bn xtnḡśt, bt ɖ levl grǎnd twdz Oṭśw wz blacnd az far az wn cd si, n stl gvñ of vrticl strīmrz v smoc. An enṭprîzñ swītstuf dīlr in ɖ Ćobm Rod hd snt p hiz sun wɖ a barolod v grīn aplz n jinjrbir.

Gwñ t ɖ éj v ɖ pit, I faund it okpaid bî a grūp v abt haf a duzn men – Hnḍsn, Oglvi, n a tōl, fer-herd man ɖt I aftwdz lrnt wz Stent, ɖ Astroṇmr Royl, wɖ sevṛl wrcṃn wīldñ spedz n picaxz. Stent wz gvñ drex́nz in a clir, hî-pićt vôs. H wz standñ on ɖ silindr, ẃć wz nǎ evidntli mć cūlr; hiz fes wz crimzn n strīmñ wɖ prsṗreśn, n smʈñ sīmd t hv iṛtetd him.

A larj porśn v ɖ silindr hd bn uncuvrd, ɖo its lowr end wz stl imbedd. Az sn az Oglvi sw m amñ ɖ stẹrñ crǎd on ɖ éj v ɖ pit h cōld t m t cm dǎn, n asct m f I wd mînd gwñ ovr t si Lord Hiltn, ɖ lord v ɖ mánr.

Ɖ growñ crǎd, h sd, wz bcmñ a sirịs impedimnt t ɖer xc̣veśnz, ispeśli ɖ bôz. Ɖe wontd a lît relñ pt p, n hlp t cīp ɖ ppl bac. H tld m ɖt a fent stŕñ wz oceźṇli stl ōḍbl wɖn ɖ ces, bt ɖt ɖ wrcṃn hd feld t unscru ɖ top, az it afordd no grip t ɖm. Ɖ ces apird t b inorṃsli ʈic, n it wz poṣbl ɖt ɖ fent sǎndz w hŕd reprizntd a nôzi tymult in ɖ intirịr.

I wz vri glad t d az h asct, n so bcm wn v ɖ priṿlijd spectetrz wɖn ɖ contmpletd incloźr. I feld t fînd Lord Hiltn at hiz hǎs, bt I wz tld h wz xpctd fṛm Lundn bî ɖ six o’cloc tren fṛm Wōṭlu; n az it wz ɖen abt a qortr past fîv, I wnt hom, hd sm ti, n wōct p t ɖ steśn t wêlê him.

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ĆAPTR FOR

Ɖ SILINDR OPNZ

n I rtrnd t ɖ comn ɖ sún wz setñ. Scatrd grūps wr huriyñ fṛm ɖ d’rex́n v Wǒcñ, n wn or tū prsnz wr rtrnñ. Ɖ crǎd abt ɖ pit hd incrist, n std ǎt blac agnst ɖ lemn yelo v ɖ scî – a cupl v hundṛd ppl, phps. Ɖr wr rezd vôsz, n sm sort v strugl apird t b gwñ on abt ɖ pit. Strenj imaɉnñz pást ʈru mî mînd. Az I drù nirr I hŕd Stent’s vôs:

“Cīp bac! Cīp bac!”

A bô cem runñ twdz m.

“It’s a-muvin,” h sd t m az h pást; “a-scruin n a-scruin ǎt. I d’nt lîc it. I’m a-gǒin ’om, I am.”

I wnt on t ɖ crǎd. Ɖr wr riyli, I śd ʈnc, tū or ʈri hundṛd ppl elbowñ n joṣlñ wn anɖr, ɖ wn or tū lediz ɖr biyñ bî no mīnz ɖ līst activ.

“H’z fōḷn in ɖ pit!” craid sm wn.

“Cīp bac!” sd sevṛl.

Ɖ crǎd sweid a litl, n I elboud mî we ʈru. Evrwn sīmd gretli xîtd. I hŕd a pkłr humñ sǎnd fṛm ɖ pit.

“I se!” sd Oglvi; “hlp cīp ɖz idịts bac. W d’nt nǒ ẃt’s in ɖ cnfǎndd ʈñ, y nǒ!”

I sw a yuñ man, a śop’sistnt in Wǒcñ I b’liv h wz, standñ on ɖ silindr n trayñ t scrambl ǎt v ɖ houl agn. Ɖ crǎd hd pśt him in.

Ɖ end v ɖ silindr wz biyñ scrùd ǎt fṛm wɖn. Nirli tū fīt v śînñ scru pṛjctd. Smbdi blundrd agnst m, n I naroli míst biyñ pićt ontu ɖ top v ɖ scru. I trnd, n az I dd so ɖ scru mst hv cm ǎt, fr ɖ lid v ɖ silindr fél upn ɖ gravl wɖ a rññ cncuśn. I stuc mî elbo intu ɖ prsn bhnd m, n trnd mî hed twdz ɖ Ʈñ agn. Fr a momnt ɖt srklr caṿti sīmd prf̣cli blac. I hd ɖ súnset in mî îz.

I ʈnc evrwn xpctd t si a man imrj – poṣbli smʈñ a litl unlîc s t’restrịl men, bt in ol isnślz a man. I nǒ I dd. Bt, lcñ, I prezntli sw smʈñ stŕñ wɖn ɖ śado: grêiś bilǒi muvmnts, wn abv anɖr, n ɖen tū lūmiṇs discs – lîc îz. Ɖen smʈñ rzmḅlñ a litl gre snec, abt ɖ ʈicnis v a wōcñstic, côld p ǎt v ɖ rîɖñ midl, n rigld in ɖ er twdz m – n ɖen anɖr.

A sudn ćil cem ovr m. Ɖr wz a lǎd śrīc fṛm a wmn bhnd. I haf trnd, cīpñ mî îz fixt upn ɖ silindr stl, fṛm ẃć uɖr tnṭclz wr nǎ pṛjctñ, n bgan pśñ mî we bac fṛm ɖ éj v ɖ pit. I sw astoniśmnt gvñ ples t horr on ɖ fesz v ɖ ppl abt m. I hŕd inartikḷt xcḷmeśnz on ol sîdz. Ɖr wz a jenṛl muvmnt bcwdz. I sw ɖ śopmn struġlñ stl on ɖ éj v ɖ pit. I faund mslf alon, n sw ɖ ppl on ɖ uɖr sîd v ɖ pit runñ of, Stent amñ ɖm. I lct agn at ɖ silindr, n unguvṇbl terr gript m. I std petṛfaid n stẹrñ.

A big grêiś rǎndd bulc, ɖ sîz, phps, v a ber, wz rîzñ slǒli n penf̣li ǎt v ɖ silindr. Az it buljd p n còt ɖ lît, it glisnd lîc wet leɖr.

Tū larj darc-culrd îz wr rgardñ m stedfstli. Ɖ mas ɖt fremd ɖm, ɖ hed v ɖ ʈñ, wz rǎndd, n hd, wn mt se, a fes. Ɖr wz a mǎʈ undr ɖ îz, ɖ liplis brim v ẃć qivrd n pantd, n dropt s’lîva. Ɖ hol crīćr hīvd n pulsetd cnvulsivli. A lanc tntaklr apndij gript ɖ éj v ɖ silindr, anɖr sweid in ɖ er.

Ɖoz hu hv nvr sìn a livñ Marśn cn scersli imajn ɖ strenj horr v its apiṛns. Ɖ pkłr V-śept mǎʈ wɖ its pôntd upr lip, ɖ absns v brǎ rijz, ɖ absns v a ćin bnʈ ɖ wéjlîc lowr lip, ɖ insesnt qiṿrñ v ɖs mǎʈ, ɖ Gorgn grūps v tnṭclz, ɖ tymulćs briɖñ v ɖ luñz in a strenj atṃsfir, ɖ evidnt hevinis n penflnis v muvmnt dy t ɖ gretr gravteśnl eṇji v ɖ rʈ – abv ol, ɖ xtrordnri intnṣti v ɖ imns îz – wr at wns vîtl, intns, inhymn, cripld n monstṛs. Ɖr wz smʈñ fungôd in ɖ ôli brǎn scin, smʈñ in ɖ clumzi dliḅreśn v ɖ tīdịs muvmnts unspīcbli nasti. Īvn at ɖs frst incǎntr, ɖs frst glims, I wz oṿcm wɖ dsgust n dred.

Sudnli ɖ monstr vaniśt. It hd topld ovr ɖ brim v ɖ silindr n fōḷn intu ɖ pit, wɖ a ʈud lîc ɖ fōl v a gret mas v leɖr. I hŕd it gv a pkłr ʈic crî, n fʈwʈ anɖr v ɖz crīćrz apird darcli in ɖ dīp śado v ɖ aṗćr.

I trnd n, runñ madli, md fr ɖ frst grūp v triz, phps a hundṛd yardz awe; bt I ran slantñli n stumḅlñ, fr I cd nt avrt mî fes fṛm ɖz ʈñz.

Ɖr, amñ sm yuñ pîntrīz n frz-bśz, I stopt, pantñ, n wêtd frɖr dveḷpmnts. Ɖ comn rnd ɖ sandpits wz dotd wɖ ppl, standñ lîc mslf in a haf-faṣnetd terr, stẹrñ at ɖz crīćrz, or rɖr at ɖ hīpt gravl at ɖ éj v ɖ pit in ẃć ɖe le. N ɖen, wɖ a rnyd horr, I sw a rǎnd, blac objict bobñ p n dǎn on ɖ éj v ɖ pit. It wz ɖ hed v ɖ śopmn hu hd fōḷn in, bt śowñ az a litl blac objict agnst ɖ hot wstn sún. Nǎ h got hiz śoldr n ni p, n agn h sīmd t slip bac untl onli hiz hed wz viẓbl. Sudnli h vaniśt, n I cd hv fansid a fent śrīc hd rīćt m. I hd a momntri impuls t g bac n hlp him ɖt mî firz oṿrūld.

Evrʈñ wz ɖen qt inviẓbl, hidn bî ɖ dīp pit n ɖ hīp v sand ɖt ɖ fōl v ɖ silindr hd md. Enwn cmñ alñ ɖ rod fṛm Ćobm or Wǒcñ wd hv bn amezd at ɖ sît – a dwinḍlñ multtyd v phps a hundṛd ppl or mor standñ in a gret ireğlr srcl, in dićz, bhnd bśz, bhnd gets n hejz, seyñ litl t wn anɖr n ɖt in śort, xîtd śǎts, n stẹrñ, stẹrñ hard at a fy hīps v sand. Ɖ baro v jinjrbir std, a qir deṛlict, blac agnst ɖ brnñ scî, n in ɖ sandpits wz a ro v dzrtd viyclz wɖ ɖer horsz fīdñ ǎt v nǒzbagz or pw̃ ɖ grǎnd.

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ĆAPTR FÎV

Ɖ HĪTRE

A

ftr ɖ glims I hd hd v ɖ Marśnz imrjñ fṛm ɖ silindr in ẃć ɖe hd cm t ɖ rʈ fṛm ɖer planit, a cnd v faṣneśn paṛlîzd mî ax́nz. I rmend standñ ni-dīp in ɖ heɖr, stẹrñ at ɖ mǎnd ɖt hid ɖm. I wz a batlgrǎnd v fir n krioṣti.

I dd nt der t g bac twdz ɖ pit, bt I flt a paśṇt loññ t pir intu it. I bgan wōcñ, ɖrfr, in a big crv, sīcñ sm pônt v vantij n cntińli lcñ at ɖ sandhīps ɖt hid ɖz ny-cmrz t ǎr rʈ. Wns a līś v ʈin blac ẃips, lîc ɖ armz v an ocṭṗs, flaśt acrs ɖ súnset n wz imījtli wɖdrwn, n aftwdz a ʈin ród rouz p, jônt bî jônt, bẹrñ at its epx a srklr disc ɖt spun wɖ a woḅlñ mośn. Ẃt cd b gwñ on ɖr?

Most v ɖ spectetrz hd gaɖrd in wn or tū grūps – wn a litl crǎd twdz Wǒcñ, ɖ uɖr a nót v ppl in ɖ d’rex́n v Ćobm. Evidntli ɖe śerd mî mntl conflict. Ɖr wr fy nir m. Wn man I aproćt – h wz, I psivd, a nebr v mîn, ɖo I dd nt nǒ hiz nem – n acostd. Bt it wz scersli a tîm fr artikḷt convseśn.

“Ẃt ugli brūts!” h sd. “Gd God! Ẃt ugli brūts!” H rpitd ɖs ovr n ovr agn.

“Dd y si a man in ɖ pit?” I sd; bt h md no ansr t ɖt. W bcem sîḷnt, n std woćñ fr a tîm sîd bî sîd, d’rîvñ, I fansi, a srtn cumf̣t in wn anɖr’z cumṗni. Ɖen I śiftd mî pziśn t a litl nól ɖt gev m ɖ advantij v a yard or mor v eḷveśn n ẃn I lct fr him prezntli h wz wōcñ twdz Wǒcñ.

Ɖ súnset fedd t twîlît bfr enʈñ frɖr hapnd. Ɖ crǎd far awe on ɖ left, twdz Wǒcñ, sīmd t gro, n I hŕd nǎ a fent mrmr fṛm it. Ɖ litl nót v ppl twdz Ćobm dsprst. Ɖr wz scersli an inṭmeśn v muvmnt fṛm ɖ pit.

It wz ɖs, az mć az enʈñ, ɖt gev ppl curij, n I s’poz ɖ ny arîvlz fṛm Wǒcñ olso hlpt t rstor confidns. At eni ret, az ɖ dusc cem on a slo, inṭmitnt muvmnt upn ɖ sandpits bgan, a muvmnt ɖt sīmd t gaɖr fors az ɖ stilnis v ɖ īvnñ abt ɖ silindr rmend unbrocn. Vrticl blac figrz in tuz n ʈriz wd advans, stop, woć, n advans agn, spredñ ǎt az ɖe dd so in a ʈin ireğlr cresnt ɖt promist t incloz ɖ pit in its ateńuetd hornz. I, tù, on mî sîd bgan t muv twdz ɖ pit.

Ɖen I sw sm cabmen n uɖrz hd wōct boldli intu ɖ sandpits, n hŕd ɖ clatr v hūfs n ɖ grìd v ẃīlz. I sw a lad trunḍlñ of ɖ baro v aplz. N ɖen, wɖn ʈrti yardz v ɖ pit, advansñ fṛm ɖ d’rex́n v Horsl, I notd a litl blac nót v men, ɖ fōrmost v hūm wz wevñ a ẃît flag.

Ɖs wz ɖ Depyteśn. Ɖr hd bn a hesti conslteśn, n sins ɖ Marśnz wr evidntli, in spît v ɖer rpulsiv formz, intelijnt crīćrz, it hd bn rzolvd t śo ɖm, bî aproćñ ɖm wɖ signlz, ɖt w tù wr intelijnt.

Flutr, flutr, wnt ɖ flag, frst t ɖ rît, ɖen t ɖ left. It wz tù far fr m t recgnîz enwn ɖr, bt aftwdz I lrnt ɖt Oglvi, Stent, n Hnḍsn wr wɖ uɖrz in ɖs atmt at cḿṇceśn. Ɖs litl grūp hd in its advans dragd inwd, so t spīc, ɖ s’cumfṛns v ɖ nǎ olmst cmplit srcl v ppl, n a numbr v dim blac figrz foloud it at dscrit distnsz.

Sudnli ɖr wz a flaś v lît, n a qontti v lūmiṇs grīniś smoc cem ǎt v ɖ pit in ʈri dstñt pufs, ẃć drouv p, wn aftr ɖ uɖr, stret intu ɖ stil er.

Ɖs smoc (or flem, phps, wd b ɖ betr wrd fr it) wz so brît ɖt ɖ dīp blu scî oṿhed n ɖ hezi strećz v brǎn comn twdz Ćrtsi, set wɖ blac pîntrīz, sīmd t darcn abrupli az ɖz pufs arouz, n t rmen ɖ darcr aftr ɖer dsprsl. At ɖ sem tîm a fent hisñ sǎnd bcem ōḍbl.

Bynd ɖ pit std ɖ litl wéj v ppl wɖ ɖ ẃît flag at its epx, arestd bî ɖz fnoṃna, a litl nót v smōl vrticl blac śeps upn ɖ blac grǎnd. Az ɖ grīn smoc arouz, ɖer fesz flaśt ǎt palid grīn, n fedd agn az it vaniśt. Ɖen slǒli ɖ hisñ pást intu a humñ, intu a loñ, lǎd, drǒnñ nôz. Slǒli a humt śep rouz ǎt v ɖ pit, n ɖ gost v a bīm v lît sīmd t flicr ǎt fṛm it.

Fʈwʈ flaśz v acćl flem, a brît gler līpñ fṛm wn t anɖr, sprañ fṛm ɖ scatrd grūp v men. It wz az f sm inviẓbl jet impinjd upn ɖm n flaśt intu ẃît flem. It wz az f ć man wr sudnli n momntṛli trnd t fîr.

Ɖen, bî ɖ lît v ɖer ǒn dstrux́n, I sw ɖm staġrñ n fōlñ, n ɖer s’portrz trnñ t run.

I std stẹrñ, nt az yt riylîzñ ɖt ɖs wz deʈ līpñ fṛm man t man in ɖt litl distnt crǎd. Ol I flt wz ɖt it wz smʈñ vri strenj. An olmst nôzlis n blîndñ flaś v lît, n a man fél hedloñ n le stil; n az ɖ unsìn śaft v hīt pást ovr ɖm, pîntrīz brst intu fîr, n evri drî frz-bś bcem wɖ wn dul ʈud a mas v flemz. N far awe twdz Naphil I sw ɖ flaśz v triz n hejz n wŭdn bildñz sudnli set alît.

It wz swīpñ rnd swiftli n steḍli, ɖs flemñ deʈ, ɖs inviẓbl, inevitbl sord v hīt. I psivd it cmñ twdz m bî ɖ flaśñ bśz it tućt, n wz tù astǎndd n styṗfaid t str. I hŕd ɖ cracl v fîr in ɖ sandpits n ɖ sudn sqīl v a hors ɖt wz az sudnli stild. Ɖen it wz az f an inviẓbl yt intnsli hītd fngr wr drwn ʈru ɖ heɖr btwn m n ɖ Marśnz, n ol alñ a crvñ lîn bynd ɖ sandpits ɖ darc grǎnd smoct n cracld. Smʈñ fél wɖ a craś far awe t ɖ left ẃr ɖ rod fṛm Wǒcñ steśn opnz ǎt on ɖ comn. Fʈwʈ ɖ hisñ n humñ sīst, n ɖ blac, domlîc objict sanc slǒli ǎt v sît intu ɖ pit.

Ol ɖs hd hapnd wɖ sć swiftnis ɖt I hd std mośnlis, dumfǎndd n dazld bî ɖ flaśz v lît. Hd ɖt deʈ swept ʈru a fl srcl, it mst inevitbli hv slein m in mî s’prîz. Bt it pást n sperd m, n left ɖ nît abt m sudnli darc n unfmiłr.

Ɖ undyletñ comn sīmd nǎ darc olmst t blacnis, xpt ẃr its rodwez le gre n pel undr ɖ dīp blu scî v ɖ rli nît. It wz darc, n sudnli vôd v men. Oṿhed ɖ starz wr musṭrñ, n in ɖ wst ɖ scî wz stl a pel, brît, olmst grīniś blu. Ɖ tops v ɖ pîntrīz n ɖ rūfs v Horsl cem ǎt śarp n blac agnst ɖ wstn afṭglo. Ɖ Marśnz n ɖer aplaynsz wr oltgɖr inviẓbl, sev fr ɖt ʈin māst upn ẃć ɖer restlis mirr wobld. Paćz v bś n îṣletd triz hir n ɖr smoct n gloud stl, n ɖ hǎzz twdz Wǒcñ steśn wr sndñ p spîrz v flem intu ɖ stilnis v ɖ īvnñ er.

Nʈñ wz ćenjd sev fr ɖt n a teṛbl astoniśmnt. Ɖ litl grūp v blac specs wɖ ɖ flag v ẃît hd bn swept ǎt v xistns, n ɖ stilnis v ɖ īvnñ, so it sīmd t m, hd scersli bn brocn.

It cem t m ɖt I wz upn ɖs darc comn, hlplis, unpṛtctd, n alon. Sudnli, lîc a ʈñ fōlñ upn m fṛm wɖt, cem – fir.

Wɖ an ef̣t I trnd n bgan a stumḅlñ run ʈru ɖ heɖr.

Ɖ fir I flt wz no raṣ́nl fir, bt a panic terr nt onli v ɖ Marśnz, bt v ɖ dusc n stilnis ol abt m. Sć an xtrordnri ifct in unmanñ m it hd ɖt I ran wīpñ sîḷntli az a ćîld mt d. Wns I hd trnd, I dd nt der t lc bac.

I rmembr I flt an xtrordnri psweźn ɖt I wz biyñ pleid wɖ, ɖt prezntli, ẃn I wz upn ɖ vri vrj v sefti, ɖs mistirịs deʈ – az swift az ɖ pasij v lît – wd līp aftr m fṛm ɖ pit abt ɖ silindr n strîc m dǎn.

___

ĆAPTR SIX

Ɖ HĪTRE IN Ɖ ĆOBM ROD

I

t z stl a matr v wundr hǎ ɖ Marśnz r ebl t sle men so swiftli n so sîḷntli. Mni ʈnc ɖt in sm we ɖe r ebl t jeṇret an intns hīt in a ćembr v practicli abṣlut nonconductivti. Ɖs intns hīt ɖe pṛjct in a paṛlel bīm agnst eni objict ɖe ćūz, bî mīnz v a poliśt paṛbolic mirr v uņoun compziśn, mć az ɖ paṛbolic mirr v a lîthǎs pṛjcts a bīm v lît. Bt nwn hz abṣlutli pruvd ɖz dītelz. Hvr it z dn, it z srtn ɖt a bīm v hīt z ɖ esns v ɖ matr. Hīt, n inviẓbl, instd v viẓbl, lît. Ẃtvr z cmbustbl flaśz intu flem at its tuć, led runz lîc wōtr, it sofnz ayn, cracs n mlts glas, n ẃn it fōlz upn wōtr, incontinntli ɖt xplodz intu stīm.

Ɖt nît nirli forti ppl le undr ɖ starlît abt ɖ pit, ćard n dstortd bynd recgniśn, n ol nît loñ ɖ comn fṛm Horsl t Mêḅri wz dzrtd n brîtli ablez.

Ɖ nyz v ɖ maṣcr probbli rīćt Ćobm, Wǒcñ, n Oṭśw abt ɖ sem tîm. In Wǒcñ ɖ śops hd clozd ẃn ɖ traɉdi hapnd, n a numbr v ppl, śop̓īpl n so fʈ, atractd bî ɖ storiz ɖe hd hŕd, wr wōcñ ovr ɖ Horsl Brij n alñ ɖ rod btwn ɖ hejz ɖt runz ǎt at last upn ɖ comn. Y me imajn ɖ yuñ ppl bruśt p aftr ɖ lebrz v ɖ de, n mcñ ɖs novlti, az ɖe wd mc eni novlti, ɖ xks fr wōcñ tgɖr n injoyñ a trivịl flrteśn. Y me figr t yrslf ɖ hum v vôsz alñ ɖ rod in ɖ glomñ…

Az yt, v cors, fy ppl in Wǒcñ īvn ń ɖt ɖ silindr hd opnd, ɖo pur Hnḍsn hd snt a mesinjr on a bîsicl t ɖ post-ofis wɖ a speśl wîr t an īvnñpepr.

Az ɖz focs cem ǎt bî tuz n ʈriz upn ɖ opn, ɖe faund litl nóts v ppl tōcñ xîtdli n pirñ at ɖ spinñ mirr ovr ɖ sandpits, n ɖ ny-cmrz wr, no dǎt, sn infctd bî ɖ xîtmnt v ɖ oceźn.

Bî haf past et, ẃn ɖ Depyteśn wz dstroid, ɖr me hv bn a crǎd v ʈri hundṛd ppl or mor at ɖs ples, bsdz ɖoz hu hd left ɖ rod t aproć ɖ Marśnz nirr. Ɖr wr ʈri p’līsṃn tù, wn v hūm wz mǎntd, dwñ ɖer bst, undr instrux́nz fṛm Stent, t cīp ɖ ppl bac n dtŕ ɖm fṛm aproćñ ɖ silindr. Ɖr wz sm buwñ fṛm ɖoz mor ʈtlis n xîṭbl soulz t hūm a crǎd z olwz an oceźn fr nôz n horsple.

Stent n Oglvi, antiṣpetñ sm posbiḷtiz v a c’liźn, hd teḷgraft fṛm Horsl t ɖ baṛcs az sn az ɖ Marśnz imrjd, fr ɖ hlp v a cumṗni v soljrz t pṛtct ɖz strenj crīćrz fṛm vayḷns. Aftr ɖt ɖe rtrnd t līd ɖt il-fetd advans. Ɖ dscripśn v ɖer deʈ, az it wz sìn bî ɖ crǎd, taliz vri closli wɖ mî ǒn impreśnz: ɖ ʈri pufs v grīn smoc, ɖ dīp humñ not, n ɖ flaśz v flem.

Bt ɖt crǎd v ppl hd a far narowr iscep ɖn mîn. Onli ɖ fact ɖt a huṃc v heɖri sand inṭsptd ɖ lowr part v ɖ Hītre sevd ɖm. Hd ɖ eḷveśn v ɖ paṛbolic mirr bn a fy yardz hayr, nn cd hv livd t tel ɖ têl. Ɖe sw ɖ flaśz n ɖ men fōlñ n an inviẓbl hand, az it wr, lit ɖ bśz az it hurid twdz ɖm ʈru ɖ twîlît. Ɖen, wɖ a ẃiṣlñ not ɖt rouz abv ɖ drǒnñ v ɖ pit, ɖ bīm swuñ clos ovr ɖer hedz, lîtñ ɖ tops v ɖ bìćtrīz ɖt lîn ɖ rod, n splitñ ɖ brics, smaśñ ɖ windoz, fîrñ ɖ windofremz, n brññ dǎn in crumḅlñ ruin a porśn v ɖ gebl v ɖ hǎs nirist ɖ cornr.

In ɖ sudn ʈud, his, n gler v ɖ ignîtñ triz, ɖ panic-stricn crǎd sīmz t hv sweid heztetñli fr sm momnts. Sparcs n brnñ twigz bgan t fōl intu ɖ rod, n sngl līvz lîc pufs v flem. Hats n dresz còt fîr. Ɖen cem a crayñ fṛm ɖ comn. Ɖr wr śrīcz n śǎts, n sudnli a mǎntd p’līsmn cem gaḷpñ ʈru ɖ cnfyźn wɖ hiz handz claspt ovr hiz hed, scrīmñ.

“Ɖ’r cmñ!” a wmn śrīct, n incontinntli evrwn wz trnñ n pśñ at ɖoz bhnd, in ordr t clir ɖer we t Wǒcñ agn. Ɖe mst hv boltd az blîndli az a floc v śīp. Ẃr ɖ rod groz naro n blac btwn ɖ hî bancs ɖ crǎd jamd, n a despṛt strugl ocŕd. Ol ɖt crǎd dd nt iscep; ʈri prsnz at līst, tū wimin n a litl bô, wr cruśt n trampld ɖr, n left t dî amd ɖ terr n ɖ darcnis.

___

ĆAPTR SEVN

HǍ I RĪĆT HOM

F

r mî ǒn part, I rmembr nʈñ v mî flît xpt ɖ stres v blunḍrñ agnst triz n stumḅlñ ʈru ɖ heɖr. Ol abt m gaɖrd ɖ inviẓbl terrz v ɖ Marśnz; ɖt pitilis sord v hīt sīmd ẃrlñ t n fro, fluṛśñ oṿhed bfr it dsndd n smout m ǎt v lîf. I cem intu ɖ rod btwn ɖ crosrodz n Horsl, n ran alñ ɖs t ɖ crosrodz.

At last I cd g no frɖr; I wz xōstd wɖ ɖ vayḷns v mî imośn n v mî flît, n I stagrd n fél bî ɖ wêsîd. Ɖt wz nir ɖ brij ɖt crosz ɖ cnal bî ɖ gaswrcs. I fél n le stil.

I mst hv rmend ɖr sm tîm.

I sat p, strenjli pplext. Fr a momnt, phps, I cd nt clirli unḍstand hǎ I cem ɖr. Mî terr hd fōḷn fṛm m lîc a garmnt. Mî hat hd gn, n mî colr hd brst awe fṛm its fasnr. A fy minits bfr, ɖr hd onli bn ʈri riyl ʈñz bfr m –  ɖ imnṣti v ɖ nît n spes n nećr, mî ǒn fīblnis n anḡś, n ɖ nir aproć v deʈ. Nǎ it wz az f smʈñ trnd ovr, n ɖ pônt v vy oltrd abrupli. Ɖr wz no snṣbl trnziśn fṛm wn stet v mînd t ɖ uɖr. I wz imījtli ɖ slf v evri de agn – a dīsnt, ordnri sitzn. Ɖ sîḷnt comn, ɖ impuls v mî flît, ɖ startñ flemz, wr az f ɖe hd bn in a drīm. I asct mslf hd ɖz latr ʈñz indd hapnd? I cd nt credit it.

I rouz n wōct unsteḍli p ɖ stīp inclîn v ɖ brij. Mî mînd wz blanc wundr. Mî muslz n nrvz sīmd drend v ɖer streñʈ. I der se I stagrd druncnli. A hed rouz ovr ɖ arć, n ɖ figr v a wrcmn cariyñ a bascit apird. Bsd him ran a litl bô. H pást m, wśñ m gdnît. I wz mîndd t spīc t him, bt dd nt. I ansrd hiz grītñ wɖ a mīnñlis mumbl n wnt on ovr ɖ brij.

Ovr ɖ Mêḅri arć a tren, a bilowñ tymult v ẃît, fîrlit smoc, n a loñ caṭpilr v lîtd windoz, wnt flayñ sǎʈ – clatr, clatr, clap, rap, n it hd gn. A dim grūp v ppl tōct in ɖ get v wn v ɖ hǎzz in ɖ priti litl ro v geblz ɖt wz cōld Orientl Teris. It wz ol so riyl n so fmiłr. N ɖt bhnd m! It wz frantic, fntastic! Sć ʈñz, I tld mslf, cd nt b.

Phps I am a man v xpśnl mūdz. I d nt nǒ hǎ far mî xpirịns z comn. At tîmz I sufr fṛm ɖ strenjist sns v dtaćmnt fṛm mslf n ɖ wrld abt m; I sīm t woć it ol fṛm ɖ ǎtsd, fṛm smẃr incnsivbli rmot, ǎt v tîm, ǎt v spes, ǎt v ɖ stres n traɉdi v it ol. Ɖs fīlñ wz vri stroñ upn m ɖt nît. Hir wz anɖr sîd t mî drīm.

Bt ɖ trubl wz ɖ blanc incngruwti v ɖs sreṇti n ɖ swift deʈ flayñ yondr, nt tū mîlz awe. Ɖr wz a nôz v biznis fṛm ɖ gaswrcs, n ɖ ilectric lamps wr ol alît. I stopt at ɖ grūp v ppl.

“Ẃt nyz fṛm ɖ comn?” sd I.

Ɖr wr tū men n a wmn at ɖ get.

“Ê?” sd wn v ɖ men, trnñ.

“Ẃt nyz fṛm ɖ comn?” I sd.

“‘E’nt y’ jst bn ɖr?” asct ɖ men.

“Ppl sīm fer sili abt ɖ comn,” sd ɖ wmn ovr ɖ get. “Ẃt’s it ol abart?”

“Hv’nt y hŕd v ɖ men fṛm Marz?” sd I; “ɖ crīćrz fṛm Marz?”

“Qt inuf,” sd ɖ wmn ovr ɖ get. “Ʈencs”; n ol ʈri v ɖm laft.

I flt fūliś n angri. I traid n faund I cd nt tel ɖm ẃt I hd sìn. Ɖe laft agn at mî brocn sntnsz.

“Y’l hír mor yt,” I sd, n wnt on t mî hom.

I startld mî wîf at ɖ dorwê, so haġd wz I. I wnt intu ɖ dînñrūm, sat dǎn, dranc sm wîn, n so sn az I cd c’lect mslf sfiśntli I tld hr ɖ ʈñz I hd sìn. Ɖ dinr, ẃć wz a cold wn, hd olrdi bn srvd, n rmend nglectd on ɖ tebl ẃl I tld mî stori.

“Ɖr z wn ʈñ,” I sd, t ale ɖ firz I hd arǎzd; “ɖe r ɖ most slugiś ʈñz I evr sw crōl. Ɖe me cīp ɖ pit n cil ppl hu cm nir ɖm, bt ɖe canot gt ǎt v it… Bt ɖ horr v ɖm!”

“D’nt, dir!” sd mî wîf, nitñ hr brǎz n ptñ hr hand on mîn.

“Pur Oglvi!” I sd. “T ʈnc h me b layñ ded ɖr!”

Mî wîf at līst dd nt fînd mî xpirịns increḍbl. Ẃn I sw hǎ dedli ẃît hr fes wz, I sīst abrupli.

“Ɖe me cm hir,” ś sd agn n agn.

I prest hr t tec wîn, n traid t ri’śur hr.

“Ɖe cn scersli muv,” I sd.

I bgan t cumf̣t hr n mslf bî rpitñ ol ɖt Oglvi hd tld m v ɖ imposbiḷti v ɖ Marśnz istabliśñ ɖmslvz on ɖ rʈ. In ptiklr I leid stres on ɖ gravteśnl dificlti. On ɖ srfis v ɖ rʈ ɖ fors v graṿti z ʈri tîmz ẃt it z on ɖ srfis v Marz. A Marśn, ɖrfr, wd wei ʈri tîmz mor ɖn on Marz, olbiit hiz musklr streñʈ wd b ɖ sem. Hiz ǒn bodi wd b a cǒp v led t him. Ɖt, indd, wz ɖ jenṛl opińn. Bʈ Ɖ Tîmz n ɖ Dêli Teḷgraf, fr instns, insistd on it ɖ nxt mornñ, n bʈ oṿlct, jst az I dd, tū obvịs modfayñ inflụnsz.

Ɖ atṃsfir v ɖ rʈ, w nǎ nǒ, cntenz far mor oxijn or far les argn (ẃćvr we wn lîcs t pt it) ɖn dz Marz. Ɖ inviġretñ inflụnsz v ɖs xes v oxijn upn ɖ Marśnz indispytbli dd mć t cǎnṭbaḷns ɖ incrist weit v ɖer bodiz. N, in ɖ secnd ples, w ol oṿlct ɖ fact ɖt sć mcanicl intelijns az ɖ Marśn pzest wz qt ebl t dspns wɖ musklr xrśn at a pinć.

Bt I dd nt cnsidr ɖz pônts at ɖ tîm, n so mî rīẓnñ wz ded agnst ɖ ćansz v ɖ invedrz. Wɖ wîn n fūd, ɖ confidns v mî ǒn tebl, n ɖ nseṣti v ri’śurñ mî wîf, I grù bî insnsbl dgriz c’rejs n s’kr.

“Ɖe hv dn a fūliś ʈñ,” sd I, fnġrñ mî wînglas. “Ɖe r denjṛs bcz, no dǎt, ɖe r mad wɖ terr. Phps ɖe xpctd t fînd no livñ ʈñz  – srtnli no intelijnt livñ ʈñz.”

“A śel in ɖ pit” sd I, “f ɖ wrst cmz t ɖ wrst wl cil ɖm ol.”

Ɖ intns xîtmnt v ɖ ivnts hd no dǎt left mî psptiv pǎrz in a stet v eṛʈizm. I rmembr ɖt dinrtebl wɖ xtrordnri vividnis īvn nǎ. Mî dir wîf’s swīt añśs fes pirñ at m fṛm undr ɖ pnc lampśêd, ɖ ẃît cloʈ wɖ its silvr n glas tebl frnićr – fr in ɖoz dez īvn fiḷsoficl raitrz hd mni litl lux̣́riz – ɖ crimzn-prpl wîn in mî glas, r fotgraficli dstñt. At ɖ end v it I sat, tmṗrñ nuts wɖ a siġrét, rgretñ Oglvi’z raśnis, n dnǎnsñ ɖ śortsîtd tmidti v ɖ Marśnz.

So sm rspctbl dǒdo in ɖ Mriśs mt hv lordd it in hiz nst, n dscust ɖ arîvl v ɖt śipfl v pitilis sêlrz in wont v animl fūd. “W wl pec ɖm t deʈ tmro, mî dir.”

I dd nt nǒ it, bt ɖt wz ɖ last siṿlîzd dinr I wz t īt fr vri mni strenj n teṛbl dez.

___

ĆAPTR ET

FRÎDE NÎT

Ɖ

 most xtrordnri ʈñ t mî mînd, v ol ɖ strenj n wundrfl ʈñz ɖt hapnd upn ɖt Frîde, wz ɖ duvteilñ v ɖ comnples habits v ǎr sośl ordr wɖ ɖ frst bginñz v ɖ siriz v ivnts ɖt wz t topl ɖt sośl ordr hedloñ. F on Frîde nît y hd tecn a per v cumṗsz n drwn a srcl wɖ a redịs v fîv mîlz rnd ɖ Wǒcñ sandpits, I dǎt f y wd hv hd wn hymn biyñ ǎtsd it, unls it wr sm rleśn v Stent or v ɖ ʈri or for sîclists or Lundn ppl layñ ded on ɖ comn, huz imośnz or habits wr at ol afctd bî ɖ ny-cmrz. Mni ppl hd hŕd v ɖ silindr, v cors, n tōct abt it in ɖer leźr, bt it srtnli dd nt mc ɖ snseśn ɖt an ulṭmetm t Jrṃni wd hv dn.

In Lundn ɖt nît pur Hnḍsn’z teḷgram dscrîbñ ɖ grajl unscruwñ v ɖ śot wz jujd t b a canard, n hiz īvnñpepr, aftr wîrñ fr oʈnṭceśn fṛm him n rsivñ no rplî –  ɖ man wz cild – dsîdd nt t print a speśl idiśn.

Īvn wɖn ɖ fîv-mîl srcl ɖ gret mjoṛti v ppl wr inrt. I hv olrdi dscrîbd ɖ bhevyr v ɖ men n wimin t hūm I spouc. Ol ovr ɖ district ppl wr dînñ n supñ; wrcñmen wr garḍnñ aftr ɖ lebrz v ɖ de, ćildṛn wr biyñ pt t bed, yuñ ppl wr wonḍrñ ʈru ɖ lenz luv-mcñ, stydnts sat ovr ɖer bcs.

Mbi ɖr wz a mrmr in ɖ vilijstrīts, a novl n dominnt topic in ɖ publichǎzz, n hir n ɖr a mesinjr, or īvn an îwitnis v ɖ lêtr ocuṛnsiz, cōzd a ẃrl v xîtmnt, a śǎtñ, n a runñ t n fro; bt fr ɖ most part ɖ dêli rūtīn v wrcñ, ītñ, drincñ, slīpñ, wnt on az it hd dn fr cǎntlis yirz – az ɖo no planit Marz xistd in ɖ scî. Īvn at Wǒcñ steśn n Horsl n Ćobm ɖt wz ɖ ces.

In Wǒcñ juñśn, untl a lêt aur, trenz wr stopñ n gwñ on, uɖrz wr śuntñ on ɖ sîdñz, pasnjrz wr alîtñ n wêtñ, n evrʈñ wz pṛsidñ in ɖ most ordnri we. A bô fṛm ɖ tǎn, trenćñ on Smiʈ’s mnoṗli, wz selñ peprz wɖ ɖ afṭnun’z nyz. Ɖ rññ impact v trucs, ɖ śarp ẃisl v ɖ enjinz fṛm ɖ juñśn, mngld wɖ ɖer śǎts v “Men fṛm Marz!” Xîtd men cem intu ɖ steśn abt nîn o’cloc wɖ increḍbl tîdñz, n cōzd no mor dstrbns ɖn druncdz mt hv dn. Ppl raṭlñ Lundnẉdz pīrd intu ɖ darcnis ǎtsd ɖ carijwindoz, n sw onli a rer, flic̣rñ, vaṇśñ sparc dans p fṛm ɖ d’rex́n v Horsl, a red glo n a ʈin veil v smoc drîvñ acrs ɖ starz, n ʈt ɖt nʈñ mor sirịs ɖn a hīʈfîr wz haṗnñ. It wz onli rnd ɖ éj v ɖ comn ɖt eni dstrbns wz psptbl. Ɖr wr haf a duzn vilaz brnñ on ɖ Wǒcñ bordr. Ɖr wr lîts in ol ɖ hǎzz on ɖ comn sîd v ɖ ʈri viḷjz, n ɖ ppl ɖr cept awec tl dōn.

A krịs crǎd lingrd restlisli, ppl cmñ n gwñ bt ɖ crǎd rmenñ, bʈ on ɖ Ćobm n Horsl brijz. Wn or tū advnćṛs soulz, it wz aftwdz faund, wnt intu ɖ darcnis n crōld qt nir ɖ Marśnz; bt ɖe nvr rtrnd, fr nǎ n agn a lîtrê, lîc ɖ bīm v a worśip’s srćlît swept ɖ comn, n ɖ Hītre wz redi t folo. Sev fr sć, ɖt big eria v comn wz sîḷnt n dezḷt, n ɖ ćard bodiz le abt on it ol nît undr ɖ starz, n ol ɖ nxt de. A nôz v haṃrñ fṛm ɖ pit wz hŕd bî mni ppl.

So y hv ɖ stet v ʈñz on Frîde nît. In ɖ sntr, sticñ intu ɖ scin v ǎr old planit Rʈ lîc a pôznd dart, wz ɖs silindr. Bt ɖ pôzn wz scersli wrcñ yt. Arnd it wz a pać v sîḷnt comn, smolḍrñ in plesz, n wɖ a fy darc, dimli sìn objicts layñ in cntortd attydz hir n ɖr. Hir n ɖr wz a brnñ bś or tri. Bynd wz a frinj v xîtmnt, n farɖr ɖn ɖt frinj ɖ infḷmeśn hd nt crept az yt. In ɖ rest v ɖ wrld ɖ strīm v lîf stl floud az it hd floud fr immorịl yirz. Ɖ fīvr v wor ɖt wd prezntli clog vein n arṭri, dedn nrv n dstrô bren, hd stl t dveḷp.

Ol nît loñ ɖ Marśnz wr haṃrñ n stŕñ, slīplis, indifatiġbl, at wrc upn ɖ mśīnz ɖe wr mcñ redi, n evr n agn a puf v grīniś-ẃît smoc ẃrld p t ɖ star-lit scî.

Abt ilevn a cumṗni v soljrz cem ʈru Horsl, n dploid alñ ɖ éj v ɖ comn t form a cordn. Lêtr a secnd cumṗni marćt ʈru Ćobm t dplô on ɖ norʈ sîd v ɖ comn. Sevṛl ofisrz fṛm ɖ Ñc̣mn baṛcs hd bn on ɖ comn rlịr in ɖ de, n wn, Mejr Īdn, wz rportd t b misñ. Ɖ crnl v ɖ rejimnt cem t ɖ Ćobm brij n wz bizi qsć̣nñ ɖ crǎd at midnît. Ɖ militri oʈoṛtiz wr srtnli alîv t ɖ sirịsnis v ɖ biznis. Abt ilevn, ɖ nxt mornñ’z peprz wr ebl t se, a sqodṛn v hsarz, tū Maximz, n abt for hundṛd men v ɖ Cardign rejimnt startd fṛm Ōlḍśót.

A fy secndz aftr midnît ɖ crǎd in ɖ Ćrtsi rod, Wǒcñ, sw a star fōl fṛm hevn intu ɖ pînwŭdz t ɖ norʈ-wst. It hd a grīniś culr, n cōzd a sîḷnt brîtnis lîc sumrlîtnñ. Ɖs wz ɖ secnd silindr.

___

ĆAPTR NÎN

Ɖ FÎTÑ BGINZ

S

aṭde livz in mî meṃri az a de v sspns. It wz a de v laṣtyd tù, hot n clos, wɖ, I am tld, a rapidli flucćuetñ b’romitr. I hd slept bt litl, ɖo mî wîf hd s’xidd in slīpñ, n I rouz rli. I wnt intu mî gardn bfr brecfst n std liṣnñ, bt twdz ɖ comn ɖr wz nʈñ stŕñ bt a larc.

Ɖ milcmn cem az yźl. I hŕd ɖ ratl v hiz ćarịt n I wnt rnd t ɖ sîdget t asc ɖ lêtist nyz. H tld m ɖt jrñ ɖ nît ɖ Marśnz hd bn srǎndd bî trūps, n ɖt gunz wr xpctd. Ɖen – a fmiłr, ri’śurñ not – I hŕd a tren runñ twdz Wǒcñ.

“Ɖe r’nt t b cild,” sd ɖ milcmn, “f ɖt cn poṣbli b avôdd.”

I sw mî nebr garḍnñ, ćatd wɖ him fr a tîm, n ɖen strold in t brecfst. It wz a most unxpśnl mornñ. Mî nebr wz v opińn ɖt ɖ trūps wd b ebl t capćr or t dstrô ɖ Marśnz jrñ ɖ de.

“It’s a piti ɖe mc ɖmslvz so un’proćbl,” h sd. “It wd b krịs t nǒ hǎ ɖe liv on anɖr planit; w mt lrn a ʈñ or tū.”

H cem p t ɖ fns n xtndd a hanfl v strwḅriz, fr hiz garḍnñ wz az jenṛs az it wz inʈyziastic. At ɖ sem tîm h tld m v ɖ brnñ v ɖ pînwŭdz abt ɖ Bîflīt Golflincs.

“Ɖe se,” sd h, “ɖt ɖr’z anɖr v ɖoz blest ʈñz fōḷn ɖr – numbr tū. Bt wn’z inuf, śrli. Ɖs lot’l cost ɖ inśuṛns-ppl a priti peni bfr evrʈñ’z setld.” H laft wɖ an er v ɖ gretist gd hymr az h sd ɖs. Ɖ wŭdz, h sd, wr stl brnñ, n pôntd ǎt a hêz v smoc t m. “Ɖe wl b hot undr ft fr dez, on acǎnt v ɖ ʈic sôl v pîņīdlz n trf,” h sd, n ɖen grù sirịs ovr “pur Oglvi.”

Aftr brecfst, instd v wrcñ, I dsîdd t wōc dǎn twdz ɖ comn. Undr ɖ relwe-brij I faund a grūp v soljrz – saprz, I ʈnc, men in smōl rǎnd caps, drti red jacits unbutnd, n śowñ ɖer blu śrts, darc trǎzrz, n būts cmñ t ɖ cāf. Ɖe tld m nwn wz alaud ovr ɖ cnal, n, lcñ alñ ɖ rod twdz ɖ brij, I sw wn v ɖ Cardign men standñ sntinl ɖr. I tōct wɖ ɖz soljrz fr a tîm; I tld ɖm v mî sît v ɖ Marśnz on ɖ prīvịs īvnñ. Nn v ɖm hd sìn ɖ Marśnz, n ɖe hd bt ɖ vegist îdīaz v ɖm, so ɖt ɖe plaid m wɖ qsćnz. Ɖe sd ɖt ɖe dd nt nǒ hu hd oʈ̇rîzd ɖ muvmnts v ɖ trūps; ɖer îdīa wz ɖt a dspyt hd arizn at ɖ Horsgardz. Ɖ ordnri sapr z a gret dīl betr edycetd ɖn ɖ comn soljr, n ɖe dscust ɖ pkłr cndiśnz v ɖ poṣbl fît wɖ sm aktnis. I dscrîbd ɖ Hītre t ɖm, n ɖe bgan t argy amñ ɖmslvz.

“Crōl p undr cuvr n ruś ’m, se I,” sd wn.

“Gt āt!” sd anɖr. “Ẃt’s cuvr agnst ɖs i’r ’īt? Stics t cc y’! Ẃt w got t d z t g az nir az ɖ grǎnd’l let s, n ɖen drîv a trenć.”

“Blo y’ trenćz! Y olwz wont trenćz; y òt t h’ bn born a rabit Snipi.”

“E’nt ɖe got eni necs, ɖen?” sd a ʈrd, abrupli – a litl, cntmpḷtiv, darc man, smocñ a pîp.

I rpitd mî dscripśn.

“Ocṭpŭsz,” sd h, “ɖt’s ẃt I cōlz ’m. Tōc abt fiśrz v men – fîtrz v fiś it z ɖs tîm!”

“It e’nt no mrdr cilñ bīsts lîc ɖt,” sd ɖ frst spīcr.

“Ẃ nt śel ɖ darnd ʈñz strît of n finiś ’m?” sd ɖ litl darc man. “Y carn tel ẃt ɖe mt d.”

“Ẃr’z yr ślz?” sd ɖ frst spīcr. “Ɖr e’nt no tîm. D it in a ruś, ɖt’s mî tip, n d it at wns.”

So ɖe dscust it. Aftr a ẃl I left ɖm, n wnt on t ɖ relwe-steśn t gt az mni mornñpeprz az I cd.

Bt I wl nt wiri ɖ rīdr wɖ a dscripśn v ɖt loñ mornñ n v ɖ longr afṭnun. I dd nt s’xid in gtñ a glims v ɖ comn, fr īvn Horsl n Ćobm ćrćtǎrz wr in ɖ handz v ɖ militri oʈoṛtiz. Ɖ soljrz I adrest dd’nt nǒ enʈñ; ɖ ofisrz wr mistirịs az wel az bizi. I faund ppl in ɖ tǎn qt s’kr agn in ɖ prezns v ɖ militri, n I hŕd fr ɖ frst tîm fṛm Marśl, ɖ tbac̣nist, ɖt hiz sun wz amñ ɖ ded on ɖ comn. Ɖ soljrz hd md ɖ ppl on ɖ ǎtscrts v Horsl loc p n līv ɖer hǎzz.

I got bac t lunć abt tū, vri tîrd fr, az I hv sd, ɖ de wz xtrimli hot n dul; n in ordr t rfreś mslf I tc a cold baʈ in ɖ afṭnun. Abt haf past for I wnt p t ɖ relwe-steśn t gt an īvnñpepr, fr ɖ mornñpeprz hd cntend onli a vri inakṛt dscripśn v ɖ cilñ v Stent, Hnḍsn, Oglvi, n ɖ uɖrz. Bt ɖr wz litl I dd’nt nǒ. Ɖ Marśnz dd nt śo an inć v ɖmslvz. Ɖe sīmd bizi in ɖer pit, n ɖr wz a sǎnd v haṃrñ n an olmst cntińs strīmr v smoc. Apaṛntli ɖe wr bizi gtñ redi fr a strugl. “Freś atmts hv bn md t signl, bt wɖt s’xes,” wz ɖ sterịtîpt forḿla v ɖ peprz. A sapr tld m it wz dn bî a man in a dić wɖ a flag on a loñ pol. Ɖ Marśnz tc az mć notis v sć advansz az w śd v ɖ lowñ v a cǎ.

I mst cnfes ɖ sît v ol ɖs armmnt, ol ɖs preṗreśn, gretli xîtd m. Mî imaɉneśn bcem b’lijṛnt, n dfitd ɖ invedrz in a duzn strîcñ wez; smʈñ v mî scūlbô drīmz v batl n herǒizm cem bac. It hardli sīmd a fer fît t m at ɖt tîm. Ɖe sīmd vri hlplis in ɖt pit v ɖerz.

Abt ʈri o’cloc ɖr bgan ɖ ʈud v a gun at meźrd inṭvlz fṛm Ćrtsi or Adlstn. I lrnt ɖt ɖ smolḍrñ pînwŭd intu ẃć ɖ secnd silindr hd fōḷn wz biyñ śld, in ɖ hop v dstroyñ ɖt objict bfr it opnd. It wz onli abt fîv, hvr, ɖt a fīldgun rīćt Ćobm fr ys agnst ɖ frst bodi v Marśnz.

Abt six in ɖ īvnñ, az I sat at ti wɖ mî wîf in ɖ sumrhǎs tōcñ vigṛsli abt ɖ batl ɖt wz lowrñ upn s, I hŕd a mufld deṭneśn fṛm ɖ comn, n imījtli aftr a gust v fîrñ. Clos on ɖ hìlz v ɖt cem a vayḷnt raṭlñ craś, qt clos t s, ɖt śc ɖ grǎnd; n, startñ ǎt upn ɖ lōn, I sw ɖ tops v ɖ triz abt ɖ Orientl Colij brst intu smoci red flem, n ɖ tǎr v ɖ litl ćrć bsd it slîd dǎn intu ruin. Ɖ piṇcl v ɖ mosc hd vaniśt, n ɖ rūflîn v ɖ colij itslf lct az f a hundṛd-tun gun hd bn at wrc upn it. Wn v ǎr ćimniz cract az f a śot hd hit it, flù, n a pìs v it cem claṭrñ dǎn ɖ tîlz n md a hīp v brocn red fragmnts upn ɖ flǎrbed bî mî studiwindo.

I n mî wîf std amezd. Ɖen I riylîzd ɖt ɖ crest v Mêḅri Hil mst b wɖn renj v ɖ Marśnz’ Hītre nǎ ɖt ɖ colij wz clird ǎt v ɖ we.

At ɖt I gript mî wîf’s arm, n wɖt seriṃni ran hr ǎt intu ɖ rod. Ɖen I fećt ǎt ɖ srvnt, telñ hr I wd g upsterz mslf fr ɖ box ś wz claṃrñ fr.

“W c’nt poṣbli ste hir,” I sd; n az I spouc ɖ fîrñ riopnd fr a momnt upn ɖ comn.

“Bt ẃr r w t g?” sd mî wîf in terr.

I ʈt pplext. Ɖen I rmembrd hr cuznz at Leɖ̇hed.

“Leɖ̇hed!” I śǎtd abv ɖ sudn nôz.

Ś lct awe fṛm m dǎnhil. Ɖ ppl wr cmñ ǎt v ɖer hǎzz, astoniśt.

“Hǎ r w t gt t Leɖ̇hed?” ś sd.

Dǎn ɖ hil I sw a bevi v hsarz rîd undr ɖ relwe-brij; ʈri gaḷpt ʈru ɖ opn gets v ɖ Orientl Colij; tū uɖrz dsmǎntd, n bgan runñ fṛm hǎs t hǎs. Ɖ sún, śînñ ʈru ɖ smoc ɖt drouv p fṛm ɖ tops v ɖ triz, sīmd blud red, n ʈrù an unfmiłr lŭrid lît upn evrʈñ.

“Stop hir,” sd I; “y r sef hir”; n I startd of at wns fr ɖ Spotd Dog, fr I ń ɖ landlord hd a hors n dogcart. I ran, fr I psivd ɖt in a momnt evrwn upn ɖs sîd v ɖ hil wd b muvñ. I faund him in hiz bar, qt un’wer v ẃt wz gwñ on bhnd hiz hǎs. A man std wɖ hiz bac t m, tōcñ t him.

“I mst hv a pǎnd,” sd ɖ landlord, “n I’v nwn t drîv it.”

“I’l gv y tū,” sd I, ovr ɖ strenjr’z śoldr.

“Ẃt fr?”

“N I’l brñ it bac bî midnît,” I sd.

“Lord!” sd ɖ landlord; “ẃt’s ɖ huri? I’m selñ mî bit v a pig. Tū pǎndz, n y brñ it bac? Ẃt’s gwñ on nǎ?”

I xplend hesṭli ɖt I hd t līv mî hom, n so s’krd ɖ dogcart. At ɖ tîm it dd nt sīm t m nirli so rjnt ɖt ɖ landlord śd līv hiz. I tc cer t hv ɖ cart ɖr n ɖen, drouv it of dǎn ɖ rod, n, līvñ it in ćarj v mî wîf n srvnt, ruśt intu mî hǎs n páct a fy vałblz, sć plet az w hd, n so fʈ. Ɖ bìćtrīz b’lo ɖ hǎs wr brnñ ẃl I dd ɖs, n ɖ pêlñz p ɖ rod gloud red. Ẃl I wz okpaid in ɖs we, wn v ɖ dsmǎntd hsarz cem runñ p. H wz gwñ fṛm hǎs t hǎs, wornñ ppl t līv. H wz gwñ on az I cem ǎt v mî frunt dor, lugñ mî treźrz, dn p in a teblcloʈ. I śǎtd aftr him:

“Ẃt nyz?”

H trnd, stérd, bȍld smʈñ abt “crōlñ ǎt in a ʈñ lîc a diścuvr,” n ran on t ɖ get v ɖ hǎs at ɖ crest. A sudn ẃrl v blac smoc drîvñ acrs ɖ rod hid him fr a momnt. I ran t mî nebr’z dor n rapt t saṭsfî mslf v ẃt I olrdi ń, ɖt hiz wîf hd gn t Lundn wɖ him n hd loct p ɖer hǎs. I wnt in agn, acordñ t mî promis, t gt mî srvnt’s box, lugd it ǎt, clapt it bsd hr on ɖ teil v ɖ dogcart, n ɖen còt ɖ reinz n jumt p intu ɖ drîvr’z sīt bsd mî wîf. In anɖr momnt w wr clir v ɖ smoc n nôz, n spancñ dǎn ɖ oṗzit slǒp v Mêḅri Hil twdz Old Wǒcñ.

In frunt wz a qayt súni lanscep, a ẃīt fīld ahd on îɖr sîd v ɖ rod, n ɖ Mêḅri Ín wɖ its swññ sîn. I sw ɖ doctr’z cart ahd v m. At ɖ botm v ɖ hil I trnd mî hed t lc at ɖ hilsîd I wz līvñ. Ʈic strīmrz v blac smoc śot wɖ ʈredz v red fîr wr drîvñ p intu ɖ stil er, n ʈrowñ darc śadoz upn ɖ grīn trītóps īstẉd. Ɖ smoc olrdi xtndd far awe t ɖ īst n wst – t ɖ Bîflīt pînwŭdz īstẉd, n t Wǒcñ on ɖ wst. Ɖ rod wz dotd wɖ ppl runñ twdz s. N vri fent nǎ, bt vri dstñt ʈru ɖ hot, qayt er, wn hŕd ɖ ẃŕ v a mśīngún ɖt wz prezntli stild, n an inṭmitnt cracñ v rîflz. Apaṛntli ɖ Marśnz wr setñ fîr t evrʈñ wɖn renj v ɖer Hītre.

I am nt an xprt drîvr, n I hd imījtli t trn mî atnśn t ɖ hors. Ẃn I lct bac agn ɖ secnd hil hd hidn ɖ blac smoc. I slaśt ɖ hors wɖ ɖ ẃip, n gev him a lūs rein untl Wǒcñ n Snd le btwn s n ɖt qiṿrñ tymult. I oṿtic n pást ɖ doctr btwn Wǒcñ n Snd.

___

ĆAPTR TEN

IN Ɖ STORM

L

eɖ̇hed z abt twelv mîlz fṛm Mêḅri Hil. Ɖ sént v hei wz in ɖ er ʈru ɖ luś medoz bynd Pirf̣d, n ɖ hejz on îɖr sîd wr swīt n ge wɖ multtydz v dogrozz. Ɖ hevi fîrñ ɖt hd brocn ǎt ẃl w wr drîvñ dǎn Mêḅri Hil sīst az abrupli az it bgan, līvñ ɖ īvnñ vri pīsfl n stil. W got t Leɖ̇hed wɖt mis’dvnćr abt nîn o’cloc, n ɖ hors hd an aur’z rest ẃl I tc supr wɖ mî cuznz n cmndd mî wîf t ɖer cer.

Mî wîf wz krịsli sîḷnt ʈrt ɖ drîv, n sīmd oprest wɖ fōrbodñz v īvl. I tōct t hr ri’śurñli, pôntñ ǎt ɖt ɖ Marśnz wr taid t ɖ Pit bî śir hevinis, n at ɖ utmost cd bt crōl a litl ǎt v it; bt ś ansrd onli in moṇsiḷblz. Hd it nt bn fr mî promis t ɖ íncīpr, ś wd, I ʈnc, hv rjd m t ste in Leɖ̇hed ɖt nît. Wd ɖt I hd! Hr fes, I rmembr, wz vri ẃît az w partd.

Fr mî ǒn part, I hd bn fīṿriśli xîtd ol de. Smʈñ vri lîc ɖ worfīvr ɖt oceźṇli runz ʈru a siṿlîzd cḿṇti hd got intu mî blud, n in mî hart I wz nt so vri sori ɖt I hd t rtrn t Mêḅri ɖt nît. I wz īvn afred ɖt ɖt last fyẓled I hd hŕd mt mīn ɖ xtrṃneśn v ǎr invedrz fṛm Marz. I cn bst xpres mî stet v mînd bî seyñ ɖt I wontd t b in at ɖ deʈ.

It wz nirli ilevn ẃn I startd t rtrn. Ɖ nît wz unxpctdli darc; t m, wōcñ ǎt v ɖ lîtd pasij v mî cuznz’ hǎs, it sīmd indd blac, n it wz az hot n clos az ɖ de. Oṿhed ɖ clǎdz wr drîvñ fast, olbiit nt a breʈ strd ɖ śrubz abt s. Mî cuznz’ man lit bʈ lamps. Haṗli, I ń ɖ rod intiṃtli. Mî wîf std in ɖ lît v ɖ dorwê, n woćt m untl I jumt p intu ɖ dogcart. Ɖen abrupli ś trnd n wnt in, līvñ mî cuznz sîd bî sîd wśñ m gd hap.

I wz a litl dprest at frst wɖ ɖ cntejn v mî wîf’s firz, bt vri sn mî ʈts rvrtd t ɖ Marśnz. At ɖt tîm I wz abṣlutli in ɖ darc az t ɖ cors v ɖ īvnñ’z fîtñ. I dd nt nǒ īvn ɖ srcmstansz ɖt hd prisiṗtetd ɖ conflict. Az I cem ʈru Ócm (fr ɖt wz ɖ we I rtrnd, n nt ʈru Snd n Old Wǒcñ) I sw alñ ɖ wstn hrîzn a blud-red glo, ẃć az I drù nirr, crept slǒli p ɖ scî. Ɖ drîvñ clǎdz v ɖ gaɖ̇rñ ʈundrstorm mngld ɖr wɖ masz v blac n red smoc.

Ripli Strīt wz dzrtd, n xpt fr a lîtd windo or so ɖ vilij śoud nt a sîn v lîf; bt I naroli iscept an axidnt at ɖ cornr v ɖ rod t Pirf̣d, ẃr a nót v ppl std wɖ ɖer bacs t m. Ɖe sd nʈñ t m az I pást. I d nt nǒ ẃt ɖe ń v ɖ ʈñz haṗnñ bynd ɖ hil, nr d I nǒ f ɖ sîḷnt hǎzz I pást on mî we wr slīpñ s’krli, or dzrtd n emti, or haṛst n woćñ agnst ɖ terr v ɖ nît.

Fṛm Ripli untl I cem ʈru Pirf̣d I wz in ɖ vali v ɖ Wê, n ɖ red gler wz hidn fṛm m. Az I asndd ɖ litl hil bynd Pirf̣d Ćrć ɖ gler cem intu vy agn, n ɖ triz abt m śivrd wɖ ɖ frst inṭmeśn v ɖ storm ɖt wz upn m. Ɖen I hŕd midnît pìlñ ǎt fṛm Pirf̣d Ćrć bhnd m, n ɖen cem ɖ siluét v Mêḅri Hil, wɖ its trītóps n rūfs blac n śarp agnst ɖ red.

Īvn az I bheld ɖs a lŭrid grīn gler lit ɖ rod abt m n śoud ɖ distnt wŭdz twdz Adlstn. I flt a tug at ɖ reinz. I sw ɖt ɖ drîvñ clǎdz hd bn pirst az it wr bî a ʈred v grīn fîr, sudnli lîtñ ɖer cnfyźn n fōlñ intu ɖ fīld t mî left. It wz ɖ ʈrd fōlñstar!

Clos on its aṗriśn, n blîndñli vayḷt bî contrast, danst ǎt ɖ frst lîtnñ v ɖ gaɖ̇rñ storm, n ɖ ʈundr brst lîc a rocit oṿhed. Ɖ hors tc ɖ bít btwn hiz tīʈ n boltd.

A modṛt inclîn runz twdz ɖ ft v Mêḅri Hil, n dǎn ɖs w clatrd. Wns ɖ lîtnñ hd bgun, it wnt on in az rapid a s’xeśn v flaśz az I hv evr sìn. Ɖ ʈundrclaps, trédñ wn on ɖ hìlz v anɖr n wɖ a strenj crac̣lñ acumṗnimnt, sǎndd mor lîc ɖ wrcñ v a jîgantic ilectric mśīn ɖn ɖ yźl deṭnetñ rvrḅreśnz. Ɖ flic̣rñ lît wz blîndñ n cnfyzñ, n a ʈin hêl smout gusṭli at mî fes az I drouv dǎn ɖ slǒp.

At frst I rgardd litl bt ɖ rod bfr m, n ɖen abrupli mî atnśn wz arestd bî smʈñ ɖt wz muvñ rapidli dǎn ɖ oṗzit slǒp v Mêḅri Hil. At frst I tc it fr ɖ wet rūf v a hǎs, bt wn flaś folowñ anɖr śoud it t b in swift rolñ muvmnt. It wz an ilūsiv viźn – a momnt v bwildrñ darcnis, n ɖen, in a flaś lîc dêlît, ɖ red masz v ɖ Orf̣nij nir ɖ crest v ɖ hil, ɖ grīn tops v ɖ pîntrīz, n ɖs probḷmaticl objict cem ǎt clir n śarp n brît.

N ɖs Ʈñ I sw! Hǎ cn I dscrîb it? A monstṛs trîpod, hayr ɖn mni hǎzz, strîdñ ovr ɖ yuñ pîntrīz, n smaśñ ɖm asd in its c’rir; a wōcñ enjin v gliṭrñ metl, strîdñ nǎ acrs ɖ heɖr; artikḷt rops v stīl danġlñ fṛm it, n ɖ claṭrñ tymult v its pasij mnġlñ wɖ ɖ rayt v ɖ ʈundr. A flaś, n it cem ǎt vividli, hìlñ ovr wn we wɖ tū fīt in ɖ er, t vaniś n ri’pir olmst instntli az it sīmd, wɖ ɖ nxt flaś, a hundṛd yardz nirr. Cn y imajn a milcñstūl tiltd n bǒld vayḷntli alñ ɖ grǎnd? Ɖt wz ɖ impreśn ɖoz instnt flaśz gev. Bt instd v a milcñstūl imajn it a gret bodi v mśīṇri on a trîpodstand.

Ɖen sudnli ɖ triz in ɖ pînwŭd ahd v m wr partd, az britl rìdz r partd bî a man ʈrustñ ʈru ɖm; ɖe wr snapt of n drivn hedloñ, n a secnd hyj trîpod apird, ruśñ, az it sīmd, hedloñ twdz m. N I wz gaḷpñ hard t mīt it! At ɖ sît v ɖ secnd monstr mî nrv wnt oltgɖr. Nt stopñ t lc agn, I renćt ɖ hors’z hed hard rnd t ɖ rît n in anɖr momnt ɖ dogcart hd hìld ovr upn ɖ hors; ɖ śafts smaśt nôẓli, n I wz fluñ sîdwez n fél heṿli intu a śalo pūl v wōtr.

I crōld ǎt olmst imījtli, n crǎćt, mî fīt stl in ɖ wōtr, undr a clump v frz. Ɖ hors le mośnlis (hiz nec wz brocn, pur brūt!) n bî ɖ lîtnñflaśz I sw ɖ blac bulc v ɖ oṿtrnd dogcart n ɖ siluét v ɖ ẃīl stl spinñ slǒli. In anɖr momnt ɖ c’losl mec̣nizm wnt strîdñ bî m, n pást uphil twdz Pirf̣d.

Sìn nirr, ɖ Ʈñ wz increḍbli strenj, fr it wz no mir insnset mśīn drîvñ on its we. Mśīn it wz, wɖ a rññ mtalic pes, n loñ, flex̣bl, gliṭrñ tnṭclz (wn v ẃć gript a yuñ pîntrī) swññ n raṭlñ abt its strenj bodi. It pict its rod az it wnt strîdñ alñ, n ɖ brezn hŭd ɖt smǎntd it muvd t n fro wɖ ɖ inevitbl sjsćn v a hed lcñ abt. Bhnd ɖ mn bodi wz a hyj mas v ẃît metl lîc a jîgantic fiśrmn’z bascit, n pufs v grīn smoc sqrtd ǎt fṛm ɖ jônts v ɖ limz az ɖ monstr swept bî m. N in an instnt it wz gn.

So mć I sw ɖen, ol vegli fr ɖ flic̣rñ v ɖ lîtnñ, in blîndñ hîlîts n dns blac śadoz.

Az it pást it set p an xultnt def̣nñ hǎl ɖt drǎnd ɖ ʈundr – “Alu! Alu!” – n in anɖr minit it wz wɖ its cmpańn, haf a mîl awe, stūpñ ovr smʈñ in ɖ fīld. I hv no dǎt ɖs Ʈñ in ɖ fīld wz ɖ ʈrd v ɖ ten silindrz ɖe hd fîrd at s fṛm Marz.

Fr sm minits I le ɖr in ɖ ren n darcnis woćñ, bî ɖ inṭmitnt lît, ɖz monstṛs biyñz v metl muvñ abt in ɖ distns ovr ɖ hejtops. A ʈin hêl wz nǎ bginñ, n az it cem n wnt ɖer figrz grù misti n ɖen flaśt intu clirnis agn. Nǎ n ɖen cem a gap in ɖ lîtnñ, n ɖ nît swoloud ɖm p.

I wz sǒct wɖ hêl abv n pudlwōtr b’lo. It wz sm tîm bfr mî blanc astoniśmnt wd let m strugl p ɖ banc t a drîr pziśn, or ʈnc at ol v mî iminnt peṛl.

Nt far fṛm m wz a litl wn-rūmd sqotr’z hut v wŭd, srǎndd bî a pać v ptetogardn. I strugld t mî fīt at last, n, crǎćñ n mcñ ys v evri ćans v cuvr, I md a run fr ɖs. I hamrd at ɖ dor, bt I cd nt mc ɖ ppl hír (f ɖr wr eni ppl insd), n aftr a tîm I dzistd, n, avelñ mslf v a dić fr ɖ gretr part v ɖ we, s’xidd in crōlñ, un’bzrvd bî ɖz monstṛs mśīnz, intu ɖ pînwŭdz twdz Mêḅri.

Undr cuvr v ɖs I pśt on, wet n śiṿrñ nǎ, twdz mî ǒn hǎs. I wōct amñ ɖ triz trayñ t fînd ɖ ftpaʈ. It wz vri darc indd in ɖ wŭd, fr ɖ lîtnñ wz nǎ bcmñ infrīqnt, n ɖ hêl, ẃć wz porñ dǎn in a toṛnt, fél in coḷmz ʈru ɖ gaps in ɖ hevi foliij.

F I hd fŭli riylîzd ɖ mīnñ v ol ɖ ʈñz I hd sìn I śd hv imījtli wrct mî we rnd ʈru Bîflīt t Strīt Cobm, n so gn bac t rījôn mî wîf at Leɖ̇hed. Bt ɖt nît ɖ strenjnis v ʈñz abt m, n mî fizicl rećidnis, privntd m, fr I wz bruzd, wiri, wet t ɖ scin, defnd n blîndd bî ɖ storm.

I hd a veg îdīa v gwñ on t mî ǒn hǎs, n ɖt wz az mć motiv az I hd. I stagrd ʈru ɖ triz, fél intu a dić n bruzd mî niz agnst a planc, n fîṇli splaśt ǎt intu ɖ len ɖt ran dǎn fṛm ɖ Colij Armz. I se splaśt, fr ɖ stormwōtr wz swīpñ ɖ sand dǎn ɖ hil in a mudi toṛnt. Ɖr in ɖ darcnis a man blundrd intu m n snt m rīlñ bac.

H gev a crî v terr, sprañ sîdwez, n ruśt on bfr I cd gaɖr mî wits sfiśntli t spīc t him. So hevi wz ɖ stres v ɖ storm jst at ɖs ples ɖt I hd ɖ hardist tasc t win mî we p ɖ hil. I wnt clos p t ɖ fns on ɖ left n wrct mî we alñ its pêlñz.

Nir ɖ top I stumbld upn smʈñ soft, n, bî a flaś v lîtnñ, sw btwn mî fīt a hīp v blac brōdcloʈ n a per v būts. Bfr I cd dstnḡś clirli hǎ ɖ man le, ɖ flicr v lît hd pást. I std ovr him wêtñ fr ɖ nxt flaś. Ẃn it cem, I sw ɖt h wz a strdi man, ćīpli bt nt śaḅli drest; hiz hed wz bnt undr hiz bodi, n h le crumpld p clos t ɖ fns, az ɖo h hd bn fluñ vayḷntli agnst it.

Oṿcmñ ɖ rpugnns naćṛl t wn hu hd nvr bfr tućt a ded bodi, I stūpt n trnd him ovr t fīl fr hiz hart. H wz qt ded. Apaṛntli hiz nec hd bn brocn. Ɖ lîtnñ flaśt fr a ʈrd tîm, n hiz fes lept upn m. I sprañ t mî fīt. It wz ɖ landlord v ɖ Spotd Dog, huz cnveyns I hd tecn.

I stept ovr him jinjrli n pśt on p ɖ hil. I md mî we bî ɖ ṗlīșteśn n ɖ Colij Armz twdz mî ǒn hǎs. Nʈñ wz brnñ on ɖ hilsîd, ɖo fṛm ɖ comn ɖr stl cem a red gler n a rolñ tymult v rudi smoc bìtñ p agnst ɖ drenćñ hêl. So far az I cd si bî ɖ flaśz, ɖ hǎzz abt m wr mostli uninjrd. Bî ɖ Colij Armz a darc hīp le in ɖ rod.

Dǎn ɖ rod twdz Mêḅri Brij ɖr wr vôsz n ɖ sǎnd v fīt, bt I hd nt ɖ curij t śǎt or t g t ɖm. I let mslf in wɖ mî laćcī, clozd, loct n boltd ɖ dor, stagrd t ɖ ft v ɖ sterces, n sat dǎn. Mî imaɉneśn wz fl v ɖoz strîdñ mtalic monstrz, n v ɖ ded bodi smaśt agnst ɖ fns.

I crǎćt at ɖ ft v ɖ sterces wɖ mî bac t ɖ wōl, śiṿrñ vayḷntli.

___

ĆAPTR ILEVN

AT Ɖ WINDO

I

 hv olrdi sd ɖt mî stormz v imośn hv a tric v xōstñ ɖmslvz. Aftr a tîm I dscuvrd ɖt I wz cold n wet, n wɖ litl pūlz v wōtr abt m on ɖ stercarpit. I got p olmst mcanicli, wnt intu ɖ dînñrūm n dranc sm ẃisci, n ɖen I wz muvd t ćenj mî cloɖz.

Aftr I hd dn ɖt I wnt upsterz t mî studi, bt ẃ I dd so I d nt nǒ. Ɖ windo v mî studi lcs ovr ɖ triz n ɖ relwe twdz Horsl Comn. In ɖ huri v ǎr dparćr ɖs windo hd bn left opn. Ɖ pasij wz darc, n, bî contrast wɖ ɖ picćr ɖ windofrem inclozd, ɖ sîd v ɖ rūm sīmd impenitṛbli darc. I stopt śort in ɖ dorwê.

Ɖ ʈundrstorm hd pást. Ɖ tǎrz v ɖ Orientl Colij n ɖ pîntrīz abt it hd gn, n vri far awe, lit bî a vivid red gler, ɖ comn abt ɖ sandpits wz viẓbl. Acrs ɖ lît hyj blac śeps, gṛtesc n strenj, muvd biẓli t n fro.

It sīmd indd az f ɖ hol cuntri in ɖt d’rex́n wz on fîr – a brōd hilsîd set wɖ mînyt tuñz v flem, sweyñ n rîɖñ wɖ ɖ gusts v ɖ dayñ storm, n ʈrowñ a red rflex́n upn ɖ clǎdscud abv. Evri nǎ n ɖen a hêz v smoc fṛm sm nirr confḷgreśn drouv acrs ɖ windo n hid ɖ Marśn śeps. I cd nt si ẃt ɖe wr dwñ, nr ɖ clir form v ɖm, nr recgnîz ɖ blac objicts ɖe wr bizid upn. Nɖr cd I si ɖ nirr fîr, ɖo ɖ rflex́nz v it danst on ɖ wōl n sīlñ v ɖ studi. A śarp, reziṇs tañ v brnñ wz in ɖ er.

I clozd ɖ dor nôzlisli n crept twdz ɖ windo. Az I dd so, ɖ vy opnd ǎt untl, on ɖ wn hand, it rīćt t ɖ hǎzz abt Wǒcñ steśn, n on ɖ uɖr t ɖ ćard n blacnd pînwŭdz v Bîflīt. Ɖr wz a lît dǎn b’lo ɖ hil, on ɖ relwe, nir ɖ arć, n sevṛl v ɖ hǎzz alñ ɖ Mêḅri rod n ɖ strīts nir ɖ steśn wr glowñ ruinz. Ɖ lît upn ɖ relwe puzld m at frst; ɖr wr a blac hīp n a vivid gler, n t ɖ rît v ɖt a ro v yelo obloñz. Ɖen I psivd ɖs wz a rect tren, ɖ fōr part smaśt n on fîr, ɖ hîndr caṛjz stl upn ɖ relz.

Btwn ɖz ʈri mn sntrz v lît – ɖ hǎzz, ɖ tren, n ɖ brnñ cǎnti twdz Ćobm – strećt ireğlr paćz v darc cuntri, brocn hir n ɖr bî inṭvlz v dimli glowñ n smocñ grǎnd. It wz ɖ strenjist specticl, ɖt blac xpans set wɖ fîr. It rmîndd m, mor ɖn enʈñ els, v ɖ Poṭriz at nît. At frst I cd dstnḡś no ppl at ol, ɖo I pīrd intntli fr ɖm. Lêtr I sw agnst ɖ lît v Wǒcñ steśn a numbr v blac figrz huriyñ wn aftr ɖ uɖr acrs ɖ lîn.

N ɖs wz ɖ litl wrld in ẃć I hd bn livñ s’krli fr yirz, ɖs fîri ceos! Ẃt hd hapnd in ɖ last sevn aurz I stl dd nt nǒ; nr dd I nǒ, ɖo I wz bginñ t ges, ɖ rleśn btwn ɖz mcanicl c’losî n ɖ slugiś lumps I hd sìn dsgorjd fṛm ɖ silindr. Wɖ a qir fīlñ v imprsnl inṭrest I trnd mî descćer t ɖ windo, sat dǎn, n stérd at ɖ blacnd cuntri, n ptiklrli at ɖ ʈri jîgantic blac ʈñz ɖt wr gwñ t n fro in ɖ gler abt ɖ sandpits.

Ɖe sīmd amezñli bizi. I bgan t asc mslf ẃt ɖe cd b. Wr ɖe intelijnt mec̣nizmz? Sć a ʈñ I flt wz imposbl. Or dd a Marśn sit wɖn ć, rūlñ, d’rectñ, yzñ, mć az a man’z bren sits n rūlz in hiz bodi? I bgan t cmper ɖ ʈñz t hymn mśīnz, t asc mslf fr ɖ frst tîm in mî lîf hǎ an aynclad or a stīm-enjin wd sīm t an intelijnt lowr animl.

Ɖ storm hd left ɖ scî clir, n ovr ɖ smoc v ɖ brnñ land ɖ litl fedñ pinpônt v Marz wz dropñ intu ɖ wst, ẃn a soljr cem intu mî gardn. I hŕd a slît screpñ at ɖ fns, n rǎzñ mslf fṛm ɖ leʈ̇ji ɖt hd fōḷn upn m, I lct dǎn n sw him dimli, clamḅrñ ovr ɖ pêlñz. At ɖ sît v anɖr hymn biyñ mî torpr pást, n I līnd ǎt v ɖ windo īgrli.

“Hist!” sd I, in a ẃispr.

H stopt astrîd v ɖ fns in dǎt. Ɖen h cem ovr n acrs ɖ lōn t ɖ cornr v ɖ hǎs. H bnt dǎn n stept softli.

“Hu’z ɖr?” h sd, olso ẃisṗrñ, standñ undr ɖ windo n pirñ p.

“Ẃr r y gwñ?” I asct.

“God nz.”

“R y trayñ t hîd?”

“Ɖt’s it.”

“Cm intu ɖ hǎs,” I sd.

I wnt dǎn, unfasnd ɖ dor, n let him in, n loct ɖ dor agn. I cd nt si hiz fes. H wz hatlis, n hiz cot wz unbutnd.

“Mî God!” h sd, az I drù him in.

“Ẃt hz hapnd?” I asct.

“Ẃt hz’nt?” In ɖ obskṛti I cd si h md a jsćr v dsper. “Ɖe wîpt s ǎt – simpli wîpt s ǎt,” h rpitd agn n agn.

H foloud m, olmst mcanicli, intu ɖ dînñrūm.

“Tec sm ẃisci,” I sd, porñ ǎt a stif dos.

H dranc it. Ɖen abrupli h sat dǎn bfr ɖ tebl, pt hiz hed on hiz armz, n bgan t sob n wīp lîc a litl bô, in a prfict paśn v imośn, ẃl I, wɖ a krịs fgetflnis v mî ǒn rīsnt dsper, std bsd him, wunḍrñ.

It wz a loñ tîm bfr h cd stedi hiz nrvz t ansr mî qsćnz, n ɖen h ansrd pplexñli n brocnli. H wz a drîvr in ɖ artiḷri, n hd onli cm intu ax́n abt sevn. At ɖt tîm fîrñ wz gwñ on acrs ɖ comn, n it wz sd ɖ frst parti v Marśnz wr crōlñ slǒli twdz ɖer secnd silindr undr cuvr v a metl śīld.

Lêtr ɖs śīld stagrd p on trîpod legz n bcem ɖ frst v ɖ fîtñṃśīnz I hd sìn. Ɖ gun h drouv hd bn unlimbrd nir Horsl, in ordr t cmand ɖ sandpits, n its arîvl it wz ɖt hd prisiṗtetd ɖ ax́n. Az ɖ limbr gunrz wnt t ɖ rir, hiz hors trod in a rabit houl n cem dǎn, ʈrowñ him intu a dpreśn v ɖ grǎnd. At ɖ sem momnt ɖ gun xplodd bhnd him, ɖ aḿniśn blù p, ɖr wz fîr ol abt him, n h faund himslf layñ undr a hīp v ćard ded men n ded horsz.

“I le stil,” h sd, “scerd ǎt v mî wits, wɖ ɖ fōrqortr v a hors atop v m. W’d bn wîpt ǎt. N ɖ smel – gd God! Lîc brnt mìt! I wz hrt acrs ɖ bac bî ɖ fōl v ɖ hors, n ɖr I hd t lî untl I flt betr. Jst lîc p’red it hd bn a minit bfr – ɖen stumbl, bañ, swiś!”

“Wîpt ǎt!” h sd.

H hd hid undr ɖ ded hors fr a loñ tîm, pīpñ ǎt frtivli acrs ɖ comn. Ɖ Cardign men hd traid a ruś, in scrṃśñ ordr, at ɖ pit, simpli t b swept ǎt v xistns. Ɖen ɖ monstr hd rizn t its fīt n hd bgun t wōc leźrli t n fro acrs ɖ comn amñ ɖ fy fyɉtvz, wɖ its hedlîc hŭd trnñ abt xacli lîc ɖ hed v a cǎld hymn biyñ. A cnd v arm carid a compḷcetd mtalic ces, abt ẃć grīn flaśz sinṭletd, n ǎt v ɖ funl v ɖs ɖr smoct ɖ Hītre.

In a fy minits ɖr wz, so far az ɖ soljr cd si, nt a livñ ʈñ left upn ɖ comn, n evri bś n tri upn it ɖt wz nt olrdi a blacnd scelitn wz brnñ. Ɖ hsarz hd bn on ɖ rod bynd ɖ crṿćr v ɖ grǎnd, n h sw nʈñ v ɖm. H hŕd ɖ Marśnz ratl fr a tîm n ɖen bcm stil. Ɖ jaynt sevd Wǒcñ steśn n its clustr v hǎzz untl ɖ last; ɖen in a momnt ɖ Hītre wz bròt t ber, n ɖ tǎn bcem a hīp v fîri ruinz. Ɖen ɖ Ʈñ śut of ɖ Hītre, n trnñ its bac upn ɖ artiḷrimn, bgan t wodl awe twdz ɖ smolḍrñ pînwŭdz ɖt śltrd ɖ secnd silindr. Az it dd so a secnd gliṭrñ Tîtn bilt itslf p ǎt v ɖ pit.

Ɖ secnd monstr foloud ɖ frst, n at ɖt ɖ artiḷrimn bgan t crōl vri cōśsli acrs ɖ hot heɖr-aś twdz Horsl. H manijd t gt alîv intu ɖ dić bî ɖ sîd v ɖ rod, n so iscept t Wǒcñ. Ɖr hiz stori bcem ijakletri. Ɖ ples wz impaṣbl. It sīmz ɖr wr a fy ppl alîv ɖr, frantic fr ɖ most part n mni brnd n scōldd. H wz trnd asd bî ɖ fîr, n hid amñ sm olmst scorćñ hīps v brocn wōl az wn v ɖ Marśn jaynts rtrnd. H sw ɖs wn psy a man, cać him p in wn v its stīli tnṭclz, n noc hiz hed agnst ɖ trunc v a pîntrī. At last, aftr nîtfōl, ɖ artiḷrimn md a ruś fr it n got ovr ɖ relwe-imbancmnt.

Sins ɖen h hd bn sculcñ alñ twdz Mêḅri, in ɖ hop v gtñ ǎt v denjr Lundnẉd. Ppl wr hîdñ in trenćz n sélrz, n mni v ɖ svîvrz hd md of twdz Wǒcñ vilij n Snd. H hd bn cnsymd wɖ ʈrst untl h faund wn v ɖ wōtrmênz nir ɖ relwe-arć smaśt, n ɖ wōtr buḅlñ ǎt lîc a sprñ upn ɖ rod.

Ɖt wz ɖ stori I got fṛm him, bit bî bit. H grù cāmr telñ m n trayñ t mc m si ɖ ʈñz h hd sìn. H hd ītn no fūd sins miḑe, h tld m rli in hiz naṛtiv, n I faund sm mutn n bred in ɖ pantri n bròt it intu ɖ rūm. W lit no lamp fr fir v atractñ ɖ Marśnz, n evr n agn ǎr handz wd tuć upn bred or mìt. Az h tōct, ʈñz abt s cem darcli ǎt v ɖ darcnis, n ɖ trampld bśz n brocn rǒztrīz ǎtsd ɖ windo grù dstñt. It wd sīm ɖt a numbr v men or animlz hd ruśt acrs ɖ lōn. I bgan t si hiz fes, blacnd n haġd, az no dǎt mîn wz olso.

Ẃn w hd finiśt ītñ w wnt softli upsterz t mî studi, n I lct agn ǎt v ɖ opn windo. In wn nît ɖ vali hd bcm a vali v aśz. Ɖ fîrz hd dwindld nǎ. Ẃr flemz hd bn ɖr wr nǎ strīmrz v smoc; bt ɖ cǎntlis ruinz v śatrd n gutd hǎzz n blastd n blacnd triz ɖt ɖ nît hd hidn std ǎt nǎ gōnt n teṛbl in ɖ pitilis lît v dōn. Yt hir n ɖr sm objict hd hd ɖ luc t iscep – a ẃît relwe-signl hir, ɖ end v a grīnhǎs ɖr, ẃît n freś amd ɖ recij. Nvr bfr in ɖ hisṭri v worfér hd dstrux́n bn so indiscrimiṇt n so ynivrsl. N śînñ wɖ ɖ growñ lît v ɖ īst, ʈri v ɖ mtalic jaynts std abt ɖ pit, ɖer cǎlz r’tetñ az ɖo ɖe wr sveyñ ɖ deẓleśn ɖe hd md.

It sīmd t m ɖt ɖ pit hd bn inlarjd, n evr n agn pufs v vivid grīn vepr strīmd p n ǎt v it twdz ɖ brîṭnñ dōn – strīmd p, ẃrld, brouc, n vaniśt.

Bynd wr ɖ pilrz v fîr abt Ćobm. Ɖe bcem pilrz v blud-śot smoc at ɖ frst tuć v de.

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ĆAPTR TWELV

ẂT I SW V Ɖ DSTRUX́N V WÊBRIJ N ŚEṖTN

A

z ɖ dōn grù brîtr w wɖdru fṛm ɖ windo fṛm ẃć w hd woćt ɖ Marśnz, n wnt vri qaytli dǎnsterz.

Ɖ artiḷrimn agrìd wɖ m ɖt ɖ hǎs wz no ples t ste in. H pṛpozd, h sd, t mc hiz we Lundnẉd, n ɖns rījôn hiz baṭri – No. 12, v ɖ Horsartiḷri. Mî plan wz t rtrn at wns t Leɖ̇hed; n so gretli hd ɖ streñʈ v ɖ Marśnz imprest m ɖt I hd dtrmind t tec mî wîf t Ńhevn, n g wɖ hr ǎt v ɖ cuntri fʈwʈ. Fr I olrdi psivd clirli ɖt ɖ cuntri abt Lundn mst inevitbli b ɖ sīn v a dzastṛs strugl bfr sć crīćrz az ɖz cd b dstroid.

Btwn s n Leɖ̇hed, hvr, le ɖ ʈrd silindr, wɖ its gardñ jaynts. Hd I bn alon, I ʈnc I śd hv tecn mî ćans n struc acrs cuntri. Bt ɖ artiḷrimn dswedd m: “It’s no cîndnis t ɖ rît sort v wîf,” h sd, “t mc hr a wido”; n in ɖ end I agrìd t g wɖ him, undr cuvr v ɖ wŭdz, norʈẉd az far az Strīt Cobm bfr I partd wɖ him. Ɖns I wd mc a big dītur bî Epsm t rīć Leɖ̇hed.

I śd hv startd at wns, bt mî cmpańn hd bn in activ srvis n h ń betr ɖn ɖt. H md m ransac ɖ hǎs fr a flasc, ẃć h fild wɖ ẃisci; n w lînd evri aveḷbl pocit wɖ pacits v biscits n slîsz v mìt. Ɖen w crept ǎt v ɖ hǎs, n ran az qcli az w cd dǎn ɖ il-md rod bî ẃć I hd cm oṿnît. Ɖ hǎzz sīmd dzrtd. In ɖ rod le a grūp v ʈri ćard bodiz clos tgɖr, struc ded bî ɖ Hītre; n hir n ɖr wr ʈñz ɖt ppl hd dropt – a cloc, a slipr, a silvr spūn, n ɖ lîc pur vałblz. At ɖ cornr trnñ p twdz ɖ post-ofis a litl cart, fild wɖ boxz n frnićr, n horslis, hìld ovr on a brocn ẃīl. A caśbox hd bn hesṭli smaśt opn n ʈroun undr ɖ debri.

Xpt ɖ loj at ɖ Orf̣nij, ẃć wz stl on fîr, nn v ɖ hǎzz hd sufrd vri gretli hir. Ɖ Hītre hd śevd ɖ ćimnitops n pást. Yt, sev ǎrslvz, ɖr dd nt sīm t b a livñ soul on Mêḅri Hil. Ɖ mjoṛti v ɖ inhabitnts hd iscept, I s’poz, bî we v ɖ Old Wǒcñ rod – ɖ rod I hd tecn ẃn I drouv t Leɖ̇hed – or ɖe hd hidn.

W wnt dǎn ɖ len, bî ɖ bodi v ɖ man in blac, sodn nǎ fṛm ɖ oṿnît hêl, n brouc intu ɖ wŭdz at ɖ ft v ɖ hil. W pśt ʈru ɖz twdz ɖ relwe wɖt mītñ a soul. Ɖ wŭdz acrs ɖ lîn wr bt ɖ scard n blacnd ruinz v wŭdz; fr ɖ most part ɖ triz hd fōḷn, bt a srtn pṛporśn stl std, dizṃl gre stemz, wɖ darc brǎn foliij instd v grīn.

On ǎr sîd ɖ fîr hd dn no mor ɖn scorć ɖ nirr triz; it hd feld t s’kr its ftñ. In wn ples ɖ wŭdṃn hd bn at wrc on Saṭde; triz, fld n freśli trimd, le in a clirñ, wɖ hīps v swdust bî ɖ sw̃ṃśīn n its enjin. Hard bî wz a temprri hut, dzrtd. Ɖr wz nt a breʈ v wind ɖs mornñ, n evrʈñ wz strenjli stil. Īvn ɖ brdz wr huśt, n az w hurid alñ I n ɖ artiḷrimn tōct in ẃisprz n lct nǎ n agn ovr ǎr śoldrz. Wns or twîs w stopt t lisn.

Aftr a tîm w drù nir ɖ rod, n az w dd so w hŕd ɖ clatr v hūfs n sw ʈru ɖ trīstemz ʈri cavlrisoljrz rîdñ slǒli twdz Wǒcñ. W hêld ɖm, n ɖe hōltd ẃl w hurid twdz ɖm. It wz a l’ftennt n a cupl v prîṿts v ɖ 8ʈ Hsarz, wɖ a stand lîc a ʈioḍlît, ẃć ɖ artiḷrimn tld m wz a hīlịgraf.

“Y r ɖ frst men I’v sìn cmñ ɖs we ɖs mornñ,” sd ɖ l’ftennt. “Ẃt’s bruwñ?”

Hiz vôs n fes wr īgr. Ɖ men bhnd him stérd krịsli. Ɖ artiḷrimn jumt dǎn ɖ banc intu ɖ rod n s’lūtd.

“Gun dstroid last nît, sr. Hv bn hîdñ. Trayñ t rījôn baṭri, sr. Y’l cm in sît v ɖ Marśnz, I xpct, abt haf a mîl alñ ɖs rod.”

“Ẃt ɖ Dicinz r ɖe lîc?” asct ɖ l’ftennt.

“Jaynts in armr, sr. Hundṛd fīt hî. Ʈri legz n a bodi lîc ’ḷmińm, wɖ a mîti gret hed in a hŭd, sr.”

“Gt ǎt!” sd ɖ l’ftennt. “Ẃt cnfǎndd nonsns!”

“Y’l si, sr. Ɖe cari a cnd v box, sr, ɖt śūts fîr n strîcs y ded.”

“Ẃt d’yi mīn – a gun?”

“No, sr,” n ɖ artiḷrimn bgan a vivid acǎnt v ɖ Hītre. Hafwe ʈru, ɖ l’ftennt inṭruptd him n lct p at m. I wz stl standñ on ɖ banc bî ɖ sîd v ɖ rod.

“It’s prf̣cli tru,” I sd.

“Wel,” sd ɖ l’ftennt, “I s’poz it’s mî biznis t si it tù. Lc hir” – t ɖ artiḷrimn – “w’r dīteld hir clirñ ppl ǎt v ɖer hǎzz. Y’d betr g alñ n rport yrslf t Briġdir-Jenṛl Marvin, n tel him ol y nǒ. H’z at Wêbrij. Nǒ ɖ we?”

“I d,” I sd; n h trnd hiz hors sǎʈẉd agn.

“Haf a mîl, y se?” sd h.

“At most,” I ansrd, n pôntd ovr ɖ trītóps sǎʈẉd. H ʈanct m n roud on, n w sw ɖm no mor.

Farɖr alñ w cem upn a grūp v ʈri wimin n tū ćildṛn in ɖ rod, bizi clirñ ǎt a lebrr’z cotij. Ɖe hd got hold v a litl handtruc, n wr pîlñ it p wɖ unclīn-lcñ bundlz n śabi frnićr. Ɖe wr ol tù asijsli ingejd t tōc t s az w pást.

Bî Bîflīt steśn w imrjd fṛm ɖ pîntrīz, n faund ɖ cuntri cām n pīsfl undr ɖ mornñ súnlît. W wr far bynd ɖ renj v ɖ Hītre ɖr, n hd it nt bn fr ɖ sîḷnt dzrśn v sm v ɖ hǎzz, ɖ stŕñ muvmnt v pacñ in uɖrz, n ɖ nót v soljrz standñ on ɖ brij ovr ɖ relwe n stẹrñ dǎn ɖ lîn twdz Wǒcñ, ɖ de wd hv sīmd vri lîc eni uɖr Súnde.

Sevṛl farmwagnz n carts wr muvñ crīc̣li alñ ɖ rod t Adlstn, n sudnli ʈru ɖ get v a fīld w sw, acrs a streć v flat medo, six twelv-pǎndrz standñ nītli at īql distnsz pôntñ twdz Wǒcñ. Ɖ gunrz std bî ɖ gunz wêtñ, n ɖ aḿniśnwagnz wr at a biznislîc distns. Ɖ men std olmst az f undr inspx́n.

“Ɖt’s gd!” sd I. “Ɖe wl gt wn fer śot, at eni ret.”

Ɖ artiḷrimn heztetd at ɖ get.

“I śl g on,” h sd.

Farɖr on twdz Wêbrij, jst ovr ɖ brij, ɖr wr a numbr v men in ẃît ftīgjacits ʈrowñ p a loñ rampart, n mor gunz bhnd.

“It’s boz n aroz agnst ɖ lîtnñ, enhǎ,” sd ɖ artiḷrimn. “Ɖe ’av’nt sìn ɖt fîrbīm yt.”

Ɖ ofisrz hu wr nt activli ingejd std n stérd ovr ɖ trītóps sǎʈwstẉd, n ɖ men digñ wd stop evri nǎ n agn t stér in ɖ sem d’rex́n.

Bîflīt wz in a tymult; ppl pacñ, n a scor v hsarz, sm v ɖm dsmǎntd, sm on horsbac, wr huntñ ɖm abt. Ʈri or for blac guvnmntwagnz, wɖ crosz in ẃît srclz, n an old omnibus, amñ uɖr viyclz, wr biyñ lodd in ɖ vilijstrīt. Ɖr wr scorz v ppl, most v ɖm sfiśntli s’baticl t hv asymd ɖer bst cloɖz. Ɖ soljrz wr hvñ ɖ gretist dificlti in mcñ ɖm riylîz ɖ graṿti v ɖer pziśn. W sw wn śrivld old felo wɖ a hyj box n a scor or mor v flǎrpots cntenñ orcidz, angṛli xposć̣letñ wɖ ɖ corpṛl hu wd līv ɖm bhnd. I stopt n gript hiz arm.

“D y nǒ ẃt’s ovr ɖr?” I sd, pôntñ at ɖ pîntops ɖt hid ɖ Marśnz.

“Ê?” sd h, trnñ. “I wz xplenin ɖz z valibl.”

“Deʈ!” I śǎtd. “Deʈ z cmñ! Deʈ!” n līvñ him t djst ɖt f h cd, I hurid on aftr ɖ artiḷriman. At ɖ cornr I lct bac. Ɖ soljr hd left him, n h wz stl standñ bî hiz box, wɖ ɖ pots v orcidz on ɖ lid v it, n stẹrñ vegli ovr ɖ triz.

Nwn in Wêbrij cd tel s ẃr ɖ hedqortrz wr istabliśt; ɖ hol ples wz in sć cnfyźn az I hd nvr sìn in eni tǎn bfr. Carts, caṛjz evrẃr, ɖ most astoṇśñ mseḷni v cnveynsz n horsfleś. Ɖ rspctbl inhabitnts v ɖ ples, men in golf n botñ costymz, wîvz priṭli drest, wr pacñ, rivrsîd loufrz eṇjeticli hlpñ, ćildṛn xîtd, n, fr ɖ most part, hîli dlîtd at ɖs astoṇśñ verieśn v ɖer Súnde xpirịnsz. In ɖ mdst v it ol ɖ wrɖi vicr wz vri pluc̣li holdñ an rli seḷbreśn, n hiz bel wz janġlñ ǎt abv ɖ xîtmnt.

I n ɖ artiḷrimn, sītd on ɖ step v ɖ drincñfǎntn, md a vri paṣbl mīl upn ẃt w hd bròt wɖ s. Ptrolz v soljrz – hir no longr hsarz, bt greṇdirz in ẃît – wr wornñ ppl t muv nǎ or t tec refyj in ɖer sélrz az sn az ɖ fîrñ bgan. W sw az w crost ɖ relwe-brij ɖt a growñ crǎd v ppl hd asmbld in n abt ɖ relwe-steśn, n ɖ swormñ platform wz pîld wɖ boxz n pac̣jz. Ɖ ordnri trafic hd bn stopt, I b’liv, in ordr t alǎ v ɖ pasij v trūps n gunz t Ćrtsi, n I hv hŕd sins ɖt a savij strugl ocŕd fr plesz in ɖ speśl trenz ɖt wr pt on at a lêtr aur.

W rmend at Wêbrij untl miḑe, n at ɖt aur w faund ǎrslvz at ɖ ples nir Śeṗtn Loc ẃr ɖ Wê n Tmz jôn. Part v ɖ tîm w spent hlpñ tū old wimin t pac a litl cart. Ɖ Wê hz a trebl mǎʈ, n at ɖs pônt bots r t b hîrd, n ɖr wz a feri acrs ɖ rivr. On ɖ Śeṗtn sîd wz an ín wɖ a lōn, n bynd ɖt ɖ tǎr v Śeṗtn Ćrć – it hz bn rplest bî a spîr – rouz abv ɖ triz.

Hir w faund an xîtd n nôzi crǎd v fyɉtvz. Az yt ɖ flît hd nt groun t a panic, bt ɖr wr olrdi far mor ppl ɖn ol ɖ bots gwñ t n fro cd inebl t cros. Ppl cem pantñ alñ undr hevi brdnz; wn huzbnd n wîf wr īvn cariyñ a smōl ǎthǎsdor btwn ɖm, wɖ sm v ɖer hǎshold gdz pîld ɖr-on. Wn man tld s h mnt t trî t gt awe fṛm Śeṗtn steśn.

Ɖr wz a lot v śǎtñ, n wn man wz īvn jstñ. Ɖ îdīa ppl sīmd t hv hir wz ɖt ɖ Marśnz wr simpli formiḍbl hymn biyñz, hu mt atac n sác ɖ tǎn, t b srtnli dstroid in ɖ end. Evri nǎ n ɖen ppl wd glans nrṿsli acrs ɖ Wê, at ɖ medoz twdz Ćrtsi, bt evrʈñ ovr ɖr wz stil.

Acrs ɖ Tmz, xpt jst ẃr ɖ bots landd, evrʈñ wz qayt, in vivid contrast wɖ ɖ Suri sîd. Ɖ ppl hu landd ɖr fṛm ɖ bots wnt trampñ of dǎn ɖ len. Ɖ big feribot hd jst md a jrni. Ʈri or for soljrz std on ɖ lōn v ɖ ín, stẹrñ n jstñ at ɖ fyɉtvz, wɖt of̣rñ t hlp. Ɖ ín wz clozd, az it wz nǎ wɖn pṛhibtd aurz.

“Ẃt’s ɖt?” craid a botmn, n “Śut p, y fūl!” sd a man nir m t a ylpñ dog. Ɖen ɖ sǎnd cem agn, ɖs tîm fṛm ɖ d’rex́n v Ćrtsi, a mufld ʈud – ɖ sǎnd v a gun.

Ɖ fîtñ wz bginñ. Olmst imījtli unsìn baṭriz acrs ɖ rivr t ǎr rît, unsìn bcz v ɖ triz, tc p ɖ cōṛs, fîrñ heṿli wn aftr ɖ uɖr. A wmn scrīmd. Evrwn std arestd bî ɖ sudn str v batl, nir s n yt inviẓbl t s. Nʈñ wz t b sìn sev flat medoz, cǎz fīdñ uncnsrṇdli fr ɖ most part, n silṿri polardwiloz mośnlis in ɖ worm súnlît.

“Ɖ sojrz’l stop ’m,” sd a wmn bsd m, dǎtf̣li. A hezinis rouz ovr ɖ trītóps.

Ɖen sudnli w sw a ruś v smoc far awe p ɖ rivr, a puf v smoc ɖt jrct p intu ɖ er n huñ; n fʈwʈ ɖ grǎnd hīvd undr ft n a hevi xploźn śc ɖ er, smaśñ tū or ʈri windoz in ɖ hǎzz nir, n līvñ s astoniśt.

“Hir ɖe r!” śǎtd a man in a blu jrzi. “Yondr! D’y’ si ɖm? Yondr!”

Qcli, wn aftr ɖ uɖr, wn, tū, ʈri, for v ɖ armrd Marśnz apird, far awe ovr ɖ litl triz, acrs ɖ flat medoz ɖt strećt twdz Ćrtsi, n strîdñ huṛdli twdz ɖ rivr. Litl cǎld figrz ɖe sīmd at frst, gwñ wɖ a rolñ mośn n az fast az flayñ brdz.

Ɖen, advansñ oblicli twdz s, cem a fifʈ. Ɖer armrd bodiz glitrd in ɖ sún az ɖe swept swiftli fwd upn ɖ gunz, growñ rapidli larjr az ɖe drù nirr. Wn on ɖ xtrim left, ɖ rmotist ɖt z, fluriśt a hyj ces hî in ɖ er, n ɖ gostli, teṛbl Hītre I hd olrdi sìn on Frîde nît smout twdz Ćrtsi, n struc ɖ tǎn.

At sît v ɖz strenj, swift, n teṛbl crīćrz ɖ crǎd nir ɖ wōtr’z éj sīmd t m t b fr a momnt horr-struc. Ɖr wz no scrīmñ or śǎtñ, bt a sîḷns. Ɖen a hōrs mrmr n a muvmnt v fīt – a splaśñ fṛm ɖ wōtr. A man, tù frîtnd t drop ɖ portmanto h carid on hiz śoldr, swuñ rnd n snt m staġrñ wɖ a blo fṛm ɖ cornr v hiz brdn. A wmn ʈrust at m wɖ hr hand n ruśt past m. I trnd wɖ ɖ ruś v ɖ ppl, bt I wz nt tù teṛfaid fr ʈt. Ɖ teṛbl Hītre wz in mî mînd. T gt undr wōtr! Ɖt wz it!

“Gt undr wōtr!” I śǎtd, unhīdd.

I fest abt agn, n ruśt twdz ɖ aproćñ Marśn, ruśt rît dǎn ɖ graṿli bīć n hedloñ intu ɖ wōtr. Uɖrz dd ɖ sem. A botlod v ppl ptñ bac cem līpñ ǎt az I ruśt past. Ɖ stonz undr mî fīt wr mudi n sliṗri, n ɖ rivr wz so lo ɖt I ran phps twenti fīt scersli west-dīp. Ɖen, az ɖ Marśn tǎrd oṿhed scersli a cupl v hundṛd yardz awe, I fluñ mslf fwd undr ɖ srfis. Ɖ splaśz v ɖ ppl in ɖ bots līpñ intu ɖ rivr sǎndd lîc ʈundrclaps in mî irz. Ppl wr landñ hesṭli on bʈ sîdz v ɖ rivr. Bt ɖ Marśn mśīn tc no mor notis fr ɖ momnt v ɖ ppl runñ ɖs we n ɖt ɖn a man wd v ɖ cnfyźn v ants in a nst agnst ẃć hiz ft hz cict. Ẃn, haf suf̣cetd, I rezd mî hed abv wōtr, ɖ Marśn’z hŭd pôntd at ɖ baṭriz ɖt wr stl fîrñ acrs ɖ rivr, n az it advanst it swuñ lūs ẃt mst hv bn ɖ jeṇretr v ɖ Hītre.

In anɖr momnt it wz on ɖ banc, n in a strîd wêdñ hafwe acrs. Ɖ niz v its fōrmost legz bnt at ɖ farɖr banc, n in anɖr momnt it hd rezd itslf t its fl hît agn, clos t ɖ vilij v Śeṗtn. Fʈwʈ ɖ six gunz ẃć, uņoun t enwn on ɖ rît banc, hd bn hidn bhnd ɖ ǎtscrts v ɖt vilij, fîrd simlteńsli. Ɖ sudn nir cncuśn, ɖ last clos upn ɖ frst, md mî hart jump. Ɖ monstr wz olrdi rezñ ɖ ces jeṇretñ ɖ Hītre az ɖ frst śel brst six yardz abv ɖ hŭd.

I gev a crî v astoniśmnt. I sw n ʈt nʈñ v ɖ uɖr for Marśn monstrz; mî atnśn wz rivtd upn ɖ nirr insidnt. Simlteńsli tū uɖr ślz brst in ɖ er nir ɖ bodi az ɖ hŭd twistd rnd in tîm t rsiv, bt nt in tîm t doj, ɖ forʈ śel.

Ɖ śel brst clīn in ɖ fes v ɖ Ʈñ. Ɖ hŭd buljd, flaśt, wz ẃrld of in a duzn tatrd fragmnts v red fleś n gliṭrñ metl.

“Hit!” śǎtd I, wɖ smʈñ btwn a scrīm n a ćir.

I hŕd anṣrñ śǎts fṛm ɖ ppl in ɖ wōtr abt m. I cd hv lept ǎt v ɖ wōtr wɖ ɖt momntri xlteśn.

Ɖ dcaṗtetd c’loss rīld lîc a druncn jaynt; bt it dd nt fōl ovr. It rcuvrd its baḷns bî a miṛcl, n, no longr hīdñ its steps n wɖ ɖ camra ɖt fîrd ɖ Hītre nǎ riɉdli upheld, it rīld swiftli upn Śeṗtn. Ɖ livñ intelijns, ɖ Marśn wɖn ɖ hŭd, wz slein n splaśt t ɖ for windz v hevn, n ɖ Ʈñ wz nǎ bt a mir intric̣t dvîs v metl ẃrlñ t dstrux́n. It drouv alñ in a stret lîn, inceṗbl v gîdns. It struc ɖ tǎr v Śeṗtn Ćrć, smaśñ it dǎn az ɖ impact v a baṭrñram mt hv dn, swrvd asd, blundrd on n c’lapst wɖ tṛmnḍs fors intu ɖ rivr ǎt v mî sît.

A vayḷnt xploźn śc ɖ er, n a spǎt v wōtr, stīm, mud, n śatrd metl śot far p intu ɖ scî. Az ɖ camra v ɖ Hītre hit ɖ wōtr, ɖ latr hd imījtli flaśt intu stīm. In anɖr momnt a hyj wev, lîc a mudi tîdl bor bt olmst scōldñli hot, cem swīpñ rnd ɖ bnd upstrīm. I sw ppl struġlñ śorẉdz, n hŕd ɖer scrīmñ n śǎtñ fentli abv ɖ siɖñ n ror v ɖ Marśn’z c’laps.

Fr a momnt I hīdd nʈñ v ɖ hīt, fgot ɖ petnt nīd v slf-preẓveśn. I splaśt ʈru ɖ tymulćs wōtr, pśñ asd a man in blac t d so, untl I cd si rnd ɖ bnd. Haf a duzn dzrtd bots pićt emlisli upn ɖ cnfyźn v ɖ wevz. Ɖ fōḷn Marśn cem intu sît dǎnstrīm, layñ acrs ɖ rivr, n fr ɖ most part sbmrjd.

Ʈic clǎdz v stīm wr porñ of ɖ recij, n ʈru ɖ tymulć̣sli ẃrlñ wisps I cd si, inṭmitntli n vegli, ɖ jîgantic limz ćrnñ ɖ wōtr n flññ a splaś n spre v mud n froʈ intu ɖ er. Ɖ tnṭclz sweid n struc lîc livñ armz, n, sev fr ɖ hlplis prṗslisnis v ɖz muvmnts, it wz az f sm wūndd ʈñ wr struġlñ fr its lîf amd ɖ wevz. Inorṃs qonttiz v a rudi-brǎn fluid wr sprtñ p in nôzi jets ǎt v ɖ mśīn.

Mî atnśn wz dvrtd fṛm ɖs deʈfluri bî a fyrịs yelñ, lîc ɖt v ɖ ʈñ cōld a sîṛn in ǎr mańfacćrñtǎnz. A man, ni-dīp nir ɖ tǒwñpaʈ, śǎtd inōḍbli t m n pôntd. Lcñ bac, I sw ɖ uɖr Marśnz advansñ wɖ jîgantic strîdz dǎn ɖ rivrbanc fṛm ɖ d’rex́n v Ćrtsi. Ɖ Śeṗtn gunz spouc ɖs tîm un’velñli.

At ɖt I dúct at wns undr wōtr, n, holdñ mî breʈ untl muvmnt wz an aġni, blundrd penf̣li ahd undr ɖ srfis az loñ az I cd. Ɖ wōtr wz in a tymult abt m, n rapidli growñ hotr.

Ẃn fr a momnt I rezd mî hed t tec breʈ n ʈro ɖ her n wōtr fṛm mî îz, ɖ stīm wz rîzñ in a ẃrlñ ẃît fog ɖt at frst hid ɖ Marśnz oltgɖr. Ɖ nôz wz def̣nñ. Ɖen I sw ɖm dimli, c’losl figrz v gre, magṇfaid bî ɖ mist. Ɖe hd pást bî m, n tū wr stūpñ ovr ɖ froʈñ, tymulćs ruinz v ɖer comred.

Ɖ ʈrd n forʈ std bsd him in ɖ wōtr, wn phps tū hundṛd yardz fṛm m, ɖ uɖr twdz Lêlhm. Ɖ jeṇretrz v ɖ Hītrez wevd hî, n ɖ hisñ bīmz smout dǎn ɖs we n ɖt.

Ɖ er wz fl v sǎnd, a def̣nñ n cnfyzñ conflict v nôzz – ɖ clangṛs din v ɖ Marśnz, ɖ craś v fōlñ hǎzz, ɖ ʈud v triz, fnsz, śedz flaśñ intu flem, n ɖ crac̣lñ n rorñ v fîr. Dns blac smoc wz līpñ p t mngl wɖ ɖ stīm fṛm ɖ rivr, n az ɖ Hītre wnt t n fro ovr Wêbrij its impact wz marct bî flaśz v incandesnt ẃît, ɖt gev ples at wns t a smoci dans v lŭrid flemz. Ɖ nirr hǎzz stl std intact, awetñ ɖer fet, śadǒi, fent n palid in ɖ stīm, wɖ ɖ fîr bhnd ɖm gwñ t n fro.

Fr a momnt phps I std ɖr, brest-hî in ɖ olmst bôlñ wōtr, dumfǎndd at mî pziśn, hoplis v iscep. Ʈru ɖ rìc I cd si ɖ ppl hu hd bn wɖ m in ɖ rivr scramḅlñ ǎt v ɖ wōtr ʈru ɖ rìdz, lîc litl frogz huriyñ ʈru gras fṛm ɖ advans v a man, or runñ t n fro in utr dsme on ɖ tǒwñpaʈ.

Ɖen sudnli ɖ ẃît flaśz v ɖ Hītre cem līpñ twdz m. Ɖ hǎzz cevd in az ɖe dzolvd at its tuć, n dartd ǎt flemz; ɖ triz ćenjd t fîr wɖ a ror. Ɖ Re flicrd p n dǎn ɖ tǒwñpaʈ, licñ of ɖ ppl hu ran ɖs we n ɖt, n cem dǎn t ɖ wōtr’z éj nt fifti yardz fṛm ẃr I std. It swept acrs ɖ rivr t Śeṗtn, n ɖ wōtr in its trac rouz in a bôlñ wīl crestd wɖ stīm. I trnd śorẉd.

In anɖr momnt ɖ hyj wev, wel-nî at ɖ bôlñpônt hd ruśt upn m. I scrīmd alǎd, n scōldd, haf blîndd, aġnîzd, I stagrd ʈru ɖ līpñ, hisñ wōtr twdz ɖ śor. Hd mî ft stumbld, it wd hv bn ɖ end. I fél hlplisli, in fl sît v ɖ Marśnz, upn ɖ brōd, bér graṿli spit ɖt runz dǎn t marc ɖ angl v ɖ Wê n Tmz. I xpctd nʈñ bt deʈ.

I hv a dim meṃri v ɖ ft v a Marśn cmñ dǎn wɖn a scor v yardz v mî hed, drîvñ stret intu ɖ lūs gravl, ẃrlñ it ɖs we n ɖt n liftñ agn; v a loñ sspns, n ɖen v ɖ for cariyñ ɖ debri v ɖer comred btwn ɖm, nǎ clir n ɖen prezntli fent ʈru a veil v smoc, rsidñ intrmiṇbli, az it sīmd t m, acrs a vast spes v rivr n medo. N ɖen, vri slǒli, I riylîzd ɖt bî a miṛcl I hd iscept.

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ĆAPTR ƮRTĪN

HǍ I FÉL IN WƉ Ɖ KṚT

A

ftr gtñ ɖs sudn lesn in ɖ pǎr v t’restrịl wepnz, ɖ Marśnz rtritd t ɖer orijinl pziśn upn Horsl Comn; n in ɖer hest, n incumbrd wɖ ɖ debri v ɖer smaśt cmpańn, ɖe no dǎt oṿlct mni sć a stre n negliɉbl victim az mslf. Hd ɖe left ɖer comred n pśt on fʈwʈ, ɖr wz nʈñ at ɖt tîm btwn ɖm n Lundn bt baṭriz v twelv-pǎndr gunz, n ɖe wd srtnli hv rīćt ɖ capitl in advans v ɖ tîdñz v ɖer aproć; az sudn, dredfl, n dstructiv ɖer advent wd hv bn az ɖ rʈqec ɖt dstroid Lizbn a snćri ago.

Bt ɖe wr in no huri. Silindr foloud silindr on its inṭplanitri flît; evri twenti-for aurz bròt ɖm riinforsmnt. N mnẃl ɖ militri n nevl oʈoṛtiz, nǎ fŭli alîv t ɖ tṛmnḍs pǎr v ɖer antaġnists, wrct wɖ fyrịs eṇji. Evri minit a freś gun cem intu pziśn untl, bfr twîlît, evri cops, evri ro v sbrbn vilaz on ɖ hili slǒps abt Cñstn n Rićmnd, masct an xpctnt blac muzl. N ʈru ɖ ćard n deṣletd eria – phps twenti sqer mîlz oltgɖr – ɖt insrcld ɖ Marśn incampmnt on Horsl Comn, ʈru ćard n ruind viḷjz amñ ɖ grīn triz, ʈru ɖ blacnd n smocñ arcedz ɖt hd bn bt a de ago pînspiniz, crōld ɖ dvotd scǎts wɖ ɖ hīlịgrafs ɖt wr prezntli t worn ɖ gunrz v ɖ Marśn aproć. Bt ɖ Marśnz nǎ unḍstd ǎr cmand v artiḷri n ɖ denjr v hymn proxiṃti, n nt a man vnćrd wɖn a mîl v îɖr silindr, sev at ɖ prîs v hiz lîf.

It wd sīm ɖt ɖz jaynts spent ɖ rlịr part v ɖ afṭnun in gwñ t n fro, trnsfŕñ evrʈñ fṛm ɖ secnd n ʈrd silindrz – ɖ secnd in Adlstn Golflincs n ɖ ʈrd at Pirf̣d – t ɖer orijinl pit on Horsl Comn. Ovr ɖt, abv ɖ blacnd heɖr n ruind bildñz ɖt strećt far n wîd, std wn az sntinl, ẃl ɖ rest abandnd ɖer vast fîtñṃśīnz n dsndd intu ɖ pit. Ɖe wr hard at wrc ɖr far intu ɖ nît, n ɖ tǎrñ pilr v dns grīn smoc ɖt rouz ɖr-fṛm cd b sìn fṛm ɖ hilz abt Mero, n īvn, it z sd, fṛm Banstid n Epsm Dǎnz.

N ẃl ɖ Marśnz bhnd m wr ɖus pripẹrñ fr ɖer nxt sali, n in frunt v m Hymaṇti gaɖrd fr ɖ batl, I md mî we wɖ infiṇt penz n lebr fṛm ɖ fîr n smoc v brnñ Wêbrij twdz Lundn.

I sw an abandnd bot, vri smōl n rmot, driftñ dǎnstrīm; n ʈrowñ of ɖ most v mî sodn cloɖz, I wnt aftr it, gend it, n so iscept ǎt v ɖt dstrux́n. Ɖr wr no òrz in ɖ bot, bt I cntrîvd t padl, az wel az mî parbôld handz wd alǎ, dǎn ɖ rivr twdz Halif̣d n Wōltn, gwñ vri tīdịsli n cntińli lcñ bhnd m, az y me wel unḍstand. I foloud ɖ rivr, bcz I cnsidrd ɖt ɖ wōtr gev m mî bst ćans v iscep śd ɖz jaynts rtrn.

Ɖ hot wōtr fṛm ɖ Marśn’z oṿʈro driftd dǎnstrīm wɖ m, so ɖt fr ɖ bst part v a mîl I cd si litl v îɖr banc. Wns, hvr, I md ǎt a strñ v blac figrz huriyñ acrs ɖ medoz fṛm ɖ d’rex́n v Wêbrij. Halif̣d, it sīmd, wz dzrtd, n sevṛl v ɖ hǎzz fesñ ɖ rivr wr on fîr. It wz strenj t si ɖ ples qt tranqil, qt dezḷt undr ɖ hot blu scî, wɖ ɖ smoc n litl ʈredz v flem gwñ stret p intu ɖ hīt v ɖ afṭnun. Nvr bfr hd I sìn hǎzz brnñ wɖt ɖ acumṗnimnt v an obstructiv crǎd. A litl farɖr on ɖ drî rìdz p ɖ banc wr smocñ n glowñ, n a lîn v fîr inḷnd wz marćñ steḍli acrs a lêt fīld v he.

Fr a loñ tîm I driftd, so penfl n wiri wz I aftr ɖ vayḷns I hd bn ʈru, n so intns ɖ hīt upn ɖ wōtr. Ɖen mî firz got ɖ betr v m agn, n I rzymd mî paḍlñ. Ɖ sún scorćt mî bér bac. At last, az ɖ brij at Wōltn wz cmñ intu sît rnd ɖ bnd, mî fīvr n fentnis oṿcem mî firz, n I landd on ɖ Midlsx banc n le dǎn, dedli sic, amd ɖ loñ gras. I s’poz ɖ tîm wz ɖen abt for or fîv o’cloc. I got p prezntli, wōct phps haf a mîl wɖt mītñ a soul, n ɖen le dǎn agn in ɖ śado v a hej. I sīm t rmembr tōcñ, wondrñli, t mslf jrñ ɖt last sprt. I wz olso vri ʈrsti, n bitrli rgretfl I hd drunc no mor wōtr. It z a krịs ʈñ ɖt I flt angri wɖ mî wîf; I canot acǎnt fr it, bt mî imṗtnt dzîr t rīć Leɖ̇hed wurid m xesivli.

I d nt clirli rmembr ɖ arîvl v ɖ kṛt, so ɖt probbli I dozd. I bcem awer v him az a sītd figr in st-smujd śrtslīvz, n wɖ hiz uptrnd, clīn-śevn fes stẹrñ at a fent flic̣rñ ɖt danst ovr ɖ scî. Ɖ scî wz ẃt z cōld a macṛl scî – roz n roz v fent daunplūmz v clǎd, jst tintd wɖ ɖ midsumr súnset.

I sat p, n at ɖ rusl v mî mośn h lct at m qcli.

“Hv y eni wōtr?” I asct abrupli.

H śc hiz hed.

“Y hv bn ascñ fr wōtr fr ɖ last aur,” h sd.

Fr a momnt w wr sîḷnt, tecñ stoc v ć uɖr. I der se h faund m a strenj inuf figr, necid, sev fr mî wōtr-sǒct trǎzrz n socs, scōldd, n mî fes n śoldrz blacnd bî ɖ smoc. Hiz fes wz a fer wìcnis, hiz ćin rtritd, n hiz her le in crisp, olmst flaxn crlz on hiz lo fōrhed; hiz îz wr rɖr larj, pel blu, n blancli stẹrñ. H spouc abrupli, lcñ vecntli awe fṛm m.

“Ẃt dz it mīn?” h sd. “Ẃt d ɖz ʈñz mīn?”

I stérd at him n md no ansr.

H xtndd a ʈin ẃît hand n spouc in olmst a cmplenñ ton.

“Ẃ r ɖz ʈñz pmitd? Ẃt sinz hv w dn? Ɖ mornñ srvis wz ovr, I wz wōcñ ʈru ɖ rodz t clir mî bren fr ɖ afṭnun, n ɖen – fîr, rʈqec, deʈ! Az f it wr Sodm n Gmora! Ol ǎr wrc undun, ol ɖ wrc – Ẃt r ɖz Marśnz?”

“Ẃt r w?” I ansrd, clirñ mî ʈrot.

H gript hiz niz n trnd t lc at m agn. Fr haf a minit, phps, h stérd sîḷntli.

“I wz wōcñ ʈru ɖ rodz t clir mî bren,” h sd. “N sudnli – fîr, rʈqec, deʈ!”

H rlapst intu sîḷns, wɖ hiz ćin nǎ suncn olmst t hiz niz.

Prezntli h bgan wevñ hiz hand.

“Ol ɖ wrc – ol ɖ Súnde scūlz – Ẃt hv w dn – ẃt hz Wêbrij dn? Evrʈñ gn – evrʈñ dstroid. Ɖ ćrć! W rbilt it onli ʈri yirz ago. Gn! Swept ǎt v xistns! Ẃ?”

Anɖr pōz, n h brouc ǎt agn lîc wn dmntd.

“Ɖ smoc v hr brnñ gǒiʈ p fr evr n evr!” h śǎtd.

Hiz îz flemd, n h pôntd a līn fngr in ɖ d’rex́n v Wêbrij.

Bî ɖs tîm I wz bginñ t tec hiz meźr. Ɖ tṛmnḍs traɉdi in ẃć h hd bn involvd – it wz evidnt h wz a fyɉtiv fṛm Wêbrij – hd drivn him t ɖ vri vrj v hiz rīzn.

“R w far fṛm Súnḅri?” I sd, in a matr-v-fact ton.

“Ẃt r w t d?” h asct. “R ɖz crīćrz evrẃr? Hz ɖ rʈ bn gvn ovr t ɖm?”

“R w far fṛm Súnḅri?”

“Onli ɖs mornñ I ofiśietd at rli seḷbreśn – ”

“Ʈñz hv ćenjd,” I sd, qaytli. “Y mst cīp yr hed. Ɖr z stl hop.”

“Hop!”

“Yes. Plentifl hop – fr ol ɖs dstrux́n!”

I bgan t xplen mî vy v ǎr pziśn. H lisnd at frst, bt az I wnt on ɖ inṭrest dōnñ in hiz îz gev ples t ɖer formr stér, n hiz rgard wondrd fṛm m.

“Ɖs mst b ɖ bginñ v ɖ end,” h sd, inṭruptñ m. “Ɖ end! Ɖ gret n teṛbl de v ɖ Lord! Ẃn men śl cōl upn ɖ mǎntnz n ɖ rocs t fōl upn ɖm n hîd ɖm – hîd ɖm fṛm ɖ fes v Him ɖt sitiʈ upn ɖ ʈron!”

I bgan t unḍstand ɖ pziśn. I sīst mî lebrd rīẓnñ, strugld t mî fīt, n, standñ ovr him, leid mî hand on hiz śoldr.

“B a man!” sd I. “Y r scerd ǎt v yr wits! Ẃt gd z rlijn f it c’lapsz undr c’laṃti? Ʈnc v ẃt rʈqecs n fludz, worz n vlcenoz, hv dn bfr t men! Dd y ʈnc God hd xmtd Wêbrij? H z nt an inśuṛns-ejnt.”

Fr a tîm h sat in blanc sîḷns.

“Bt hǎ cn w iscep?” h asct, sudnli. “Ɖe r invulnṛbl, ɖe r pitilis.”

“Nɖr ɖ wn nr, phps, ɖ uɖr,” I ansrd. “N ɖ mîtịr ɖe r ɖ mor sen n wẹri śd w b. Wn v ɖm wz cild yondr nt ʈri aurz ago.”

“Cild!” h sd, stẹrñ abt him. “Hǎ cn God’z ministrz b cild?”

“I sw it hapn.” I pṛsidd t tel him. “W hv ćanst t cm in fr ɖ ʈic v it,” sd I, “n ɖt z ol.”

“Ẃt z ɖt flicr in ɖ scî?” h asct abrupli.

I tld him it wz ɖ hīlịgraf sigṇlñ – ɖt it wz ɖ sîn v hymn hlp n ef̣t in ɖ scî.

“W r in ɖ mdst v it,” I sd, “qayt az it z. Ɖt flicr in ɖ scî tlz v ɖ gaɖ̇rñ storm. Yondr, I tec it r ɖ Marśnz, n Lundnẉd, ẃr ɖoz hilz rîz abt Rićmnd n Cñstn n ɖ triz gv cuvr, rʈwrcs r biyñ ʈroun p n gunz r biyñ plest. Prezntli ɖ Marśnz wl b cmñ ɖs we agn.”

N īvn az I spouc h sprañ t hiz fīt n stopt m bî a jsćr.

“Lisn!” h sd.

Fṛm bynd ɖ lo hilz acrs ɖ wōtr cem ɖ dul reẓnns v distnt gunz n a rmot wird crayñ. Ɖen evrʈñ wz stil. A cocćefr cem drǒnñ ovr ɖ hej n past s. Hî in ɖ wst ɖ cresnt mūn huñ fent n pel abv ɖ smoc v Wêbrij n Śeṗtn n ɖ hot, stil splendr v ɖ súnset.

“W hd betr folo ɖs paʈ,” I sd, “norʈẉd.”

___

ĆAPTR FORTĪN

IN LUNDN

M

î yungr bruɖr wz in Lundn ẃn ɖ Marśnz fél at Wǒcñ. H wz a medicl stydnt wrcñ fr an iminnt xaṃneśn, n h hŕd nʈñ v ɖ arîvl untl Saṭde mornñ. Ɖ mornñpeprz on Saṭde cntend, in adiśn t leñʈi speśl articlz on ɖ planit Marz, on lîf in ɖ planits, n so fʈ, a brīf n vegli wrdd teḷgram, ol ɖ mor strîcñ fr its breṿti.

Ɖ Marśnz, alarmd bî ɖ aproć v a crǎd, hd cild a numbr v ppl wɖ a qcfîrñ gun, so ɖ stori ran. Ɖ teḷgram cncludd wɖ ɖ wrdz: “Formiḍbl az ɖe sīm t b, ɖ Marśnz hv nt muvd fṛm ɖ pit intu ẃć ɖe hv fōḷn, n, indd, sīm inceṗbl v dwñ so. Probbli ɖs z dy t ɖ reḷtiv streñʈ v ɖ rʈ’s gravteśnl eṇji.” On ɖt last txt ɖer līdŗaitr xpandd vri cumf̣tñli.

V cors ol ɖ stydnts in ɖ cramr’z bîoḷjiclas, t ẃć mî bruɖr wnt ɖt de, wr intnsli inṭrestd, bt ɖr wr no sînz v eni unyźl xîtmnt in ɖ strīts. Ɖ afṭnunpeprz puft scraps v nyz undr big hedlînz. Ɖe hd nʈñ t tel bynd ɖ muvmnts v trūps abt ɖ comn, n ɖ brnñ v ɖ pînwŭdz btwn Wǒcñ n Wêbrij, untl et. Ɖen ɖ St. Jemz’z Gzét, in an xtṛspeśl idiśn, anǎnst ɖ bér fact v ɖ inṭrupśn v teḷgrafic cḿṇceśn. Ɖs wz ʈt t b dy t ɖ fōlñ v brnñ pîntrīz acrs ɖ lîn. Nʈñ mor v ɖ fîtñ wz noun ɖt nît, ɖ nît v mî drîv t Leɖ̇hed n bac.

Mî bruɖr flt no añzayti abt s, az h ń fṛm ɖ dscripśn in ɖ peprz ɖt ɖ silindr wz a gd tū mîlz fṛm mî hǎs. H md p hiz mînd t run dǎn ɖt nît t m, in ordr, az h sz, t si ɖ Ʈñz bfr ɖe wr cild. H dspaćt a teḷgram, ẃć nvr rīćt m, abt for o’cloc, n spent ɖ īvnñ at a ḿzichōl.

In Lundn, olso, on Saṭde nît ɖr wz a ʈundrstorm, n mî bruɖr rīćt Wōṭlu in a cab. On ɖ platform fṛm ẃć ɖ midnîțren yźli starts h lrnt, aftr sm wêtñ, ɖt an axidnt privntd trenz fṛm rīćñ Wǒcñ ɖt nît. Ɖ nećr v ɖ axidnt h cd nt aṣten; indd, ɖ relwe-oʈoṛtiz dd nt clirli nǒ at ɖt tîm. Ɖr wz vri litl xîtmnt in ɖ steśn, az ɖ ofiślz, felñ t riylîz ɖt enʈñ frɖr ɖn a brecdǎn btwn Bîflīt n Wǒcñ juñśn hd ocŕd, wr runñ ɖ ʈiytrtrenz ẃć yźli pást ʈru Wǒcñ rnd bî Vjińa Wōtr or Gilf̣d. Ɖe wr bizi mcñ ɖ nesṣri arenjmnts t oltr ɖ rùt v ɖ Sǎʈamtn n Portsṃʈ Súnde Līg xcrśnz. A noctrnl nyzpepr rportr, mstecñ mî bruɖr fr ɖ traficmanijr, t hūm h berz a slît rzmbḷns, wêleid n traid t inṭvy him. Fy ppl, xptñ ɖ relwe-ofiślz, cnctd ɖ brecdǎn wɖ ɖ Marśnz.

I hv réd, in anɖr acǎnt v ɖz ivnts, ɖt on Súnde mornñ “ol Lundn wz ilectṛfaid bî ɖ nyz fṛm Wǒcñ.” Az a matr v fact, ɖr wz nʈñ t jusṭfî ɖt vri xtraṿgnt frêz. Plenti v Lundnrz dd nt hír v ɖ Marśnz untl ɖ panic v Munde mornñ. Ɖoz hu dd tc sm tîm t riylîz ol ɖt ɖ hesṭli wrdd teḷgramz in ɖ Súnde peprz cnveid. Ɖ mjoṛti v ppl in Lundn d nt rīd Súnde peprz.

Ɖ habit v prsnl s’kṛti, morovr, z so dīpli fixt in ɖ Lundnr’z mînd, n starṭlñ intelijns so mć a matr v cors in ɖ peprz, ɖt ɖe cd rīd wɖt eni prsnl tremrz: “Abt sevn o’cloc last nît ɖ Marśnz cem ǎt v ɖ silindr, n, muvñ abt undr an armr v mtalic śīldz, hv cmplitli rect Wǒcñ steśn wɖ ɖ ajesnt hǎzz, n maṣcrd an intîr btałn v ɖ Cardign Rejimnt. No dītelz r noun. Maximz hv bn abṣlutli yslis agnst ɖer armr; ɖ fīldgunz hv bn dsebld bî ɖm. Flayñ hsarz hv bn gaḷpñ intu Ćrtsi. Ɖ Marśnz apir t b muvñ slǒli twdz Ćrtsi or Winzr. Gret añzayti privelz in Wst Suri, n rʈwrcs r biyñ ʈroun p t ćec ɖ advans Lundnẉd.” Ɖt wz hǎ ɖ Súnde Sún pt it, n a clevr n rmarcbli promt “hand-bc” articl in ɖ Ref̣rī cmperd ɖ afer t a mnajri sudnli let lūs in a vilij.

Nwn in Lundn ń poztivli v ɖ nećr v ɖ armrd Marśnz, n ɖr wz stl a fixt îdīa ɖt ɖz monstrz mst b slugiś: “crōlñ,” “crīpñ penf̣li” – sć xpreśnz ocŕd in olmst ol ɖ rlịr rports. Nn v ɖ teḷgramz cd hv bn ritn bî an îwitnis v ɖer advans. Ɖ Súnde peprz printd sepṛt idiśnz az frɖr nyz cem t hand, sm īvn in dfōlt v it. Bt ɖr wz practicli nʈñ mor t tel ppl untl lêt in ɖ afṭnun, ẃn ɖ oʈoṛtiz gev ɖ pres-ejnsiz ɖ nyz in ɖer pześn. It wz stetd ɖt ɖ ppl v Wōltn n Wêbrij, n ol ɖ district wr porñ alñ ɖ rodz Lundnẉd, n ɖt wz ol.

Mî bruɖr wnt t ćrć at ɖ Fǎndlñ Hospitl in ɖ mornñ, stl in ignṛns v ẃt hd hapnd on ɖ prīvịs nît. Ɖr h hŕd aluźnz md t ɖ inveźn, n a speśl prer fr pīs. Cmñ ǎt, h bòt a Re. H bcem alarmd at ɖ nyz in ɖs, n wnt agn t Wōṭlu steśn t fînd ǎt f cḿṇceśn wr rstord. Ɖ omnibusz, caṛjz, sîclists, n ińmṛbl ppl wōcñ in ɖer bst cloɖz sīmd scersli afctd bî ɖ strenj intelijns ɖt ɖ nyz-vndrz wr dseṃnetñ. Ppl wr inṭrestd, or, f alarmd, alarmd onli on acǎnt v ɖ locl rezidnts. At ɖ steśn h hŕd fr ɖ frst tîm ɖt ɖ Winzr n Ćrtsi lînz wr nǎ inṭruptd. Ɖ portrz tld him ɖt sevṛl rmarcbl teḷgramz hd bn rsivd in ɖ mornñ fṛm Bîflīt n Ćrtsi steśnz, bt ɖt ɖz hd abrupli sīst. Mî bruɖr cd gt vri litl prisîs dītel ǎt v ɖm.

“Ɖr’z fîtñ gwñ on abt Wêbrij” wz ɖ xtnt v ɖer inf̣meśn.

Ɖ trensrvis wz nǎ vri mć dsorġnîzd. Qt a numbr v ppl hu hd bn xpctñ frendz fṛm plesz on ɖ Sǎʈ-wstn netwrc wr standñ abt ɖ steśn. Wn gre-hedd old jntlmn cem n abyzd ɖ Sǎʈ-wstn Cumṗni bitrli t mî bruɖr. “It wonts śowñ p,” h sd.

Wn or tū trenz cem in fṛm Rićmnd, Putni, n Cñstn, cntenñ ppl hu hd gn ǎt fr a de’z botñ n faund ɖ locs clozd n a fīlñ v panic in ɖ er. A man in a blu n ẃît blezr adrest mî bruɖr, fl v strenj tîdñz.

“Ɖr’z hosts v ppl drîvñ intu Cñstn in traps n carts n ʈñz, wɖ boxz v vałblz n ol ɖt,” h sd. “Ɖe cm fṛm Molzli n Wêbrij n Wōltn, n ɖe se ɖr’z bn gunz hŕd at Ćrtsi, hevi fîrñ, n ɖt mǎntd soljrz hv tld ɖm t gt of at wns bcz ɖ Marśnz r cmñ. W hŕd gunz fîrñ at Hamtn Cort steśn, bt w ʈt it wz ʈundr. Ẃt ɖ Dicinz dz it ol mīn? Ɖ Marśnz c’nt gt ǎt v ɖer pit, cn ɖe?”

Mî bruɖr cd nt tel him.

Aftwdz h faund ɖt ɖ veg fīlñ v alarm hd spred t ɖ claynts v ɖ unḍgrǎnd relwe, n ɖt ɖ Súnde xcrṣ́nists bgan t rtrn fṛm ol ovr ɖ Sǎʈ-wstn “luñ” – Bārnz, Wimbldn, Rićmnd Parc, Cỳ, n so fʈ – at uņaćṛli rli aurz; bt nt a soul hd enʈñ mor ɖn veg hírse t tel v. Evrwn cnctd wɖ ɖ trmiṇs sīmd il-tmprd.

Abt fîv o’cloc ɖ gaɖ̇rñ crǎd in ɖ steśn wz imnsli xîtd bî ɖ oṗnñ v ɖ lîn v cḿṇceśn, ẃć z olmst inverịbli clozd, btwn ɖ Sǎʈ-īstn n ɖ Sǎʈ-wstn steśnz, n ɖ pasij v carij trucs bẹrñ hyj gunz n caṛjz cramd wɖ soljrz. Ɖz wr ɖ gunz ɖt wr bròt p fṛm Wŭlij n Ćatm t cuvr Cñstn. Ɖr wz an xćenj v pleẓntriz: “Y’l gt ītn!” “W’r ɖ bīsțemrz!” n so fʈ. A litl ẃl aftr ɖt a sqod v p’līs cem intu ɖ steśn n bgan t clir ɖ public of ɖ platformz, n mî bruɖr wnt ǎt intu ɖ strīt agn.

Ɖ ćrćbelz wr rññ fr īvnsoñ, n a sqod v Salveśn Armi lasiz cem sññ dǎn Wōṭlu Rod. On ɖ brij a numbr v loufrz wr woćñ a krịs brǎn scum ɖt cem driftñ dǎn ɖ strīm in paćz. Ɖ sún wz jst setñ, n ɖ Cloctǎr n ɖ Hǎzz v Parḷmnt rouz agnst wn v ɖ most pīsfl scîz it z poṣbl t imajn, a scî v gold, bàrd wɖ loñ tranzvrs strîps v rediś-prpl clǎd. Ɖr wz tōc v a flotñ bodi. Wn v ɖ men ɖr, a rzrvist h sd h wz, tld mî bruɖr h hd sìn ɖ hīlịgraf flic̣rñ in ɖ wst.

In Welñtn Strīt mî bruɖr met a cupl v strdi rufs hu hd jst bn ruśt ǎt v Flīt Strīt wɖ stl-wet nyzpeprz n stẹrñ placardz. “Dredfl ctastṛfi!” ɖe bȍld wn t ɖ uɖr dǎn Welñtn Strīt. “Fîtñ at Wêbrij! Fl dscripśn! Rpuls v ɖ Marśnz! Lundn in Denjr!” H hd t gv ʈrŭpns fr a copi v ɖt pepr.

Ɖen it wz, n ɖen onli, ɖt h riylîzd smʈñ v ɖ fl pǎr n terr v ɖz monstrz. H lrnt ɖt ɖe wr nt mirli a hanfl v smōl slugiś crīćrz, bt ɖt ɖe wr mîndz sweyñ vast mcanicl bodiz; n ɖt ɖe cd muv swiftli n smît wɖ sć pǎr ɖt īvn ɖ mîtiist gunz cd nt stand agnst ɖm.

Ɖe wr dscrîbd az “vast spiderlike mśīnz, nirli a hundṛd fīt hî, ceṗbl v ɖ spīd v an xpres tren, n ebl t śūt ǎt a bīm v intns hīt.” Masct baṭriz, ćīfli v fīldgunz, hd bn plantd in ɖ cuntri abt Horsl Comn, n ispeśli btwn ɖ Wǒcñ district n Lundn. Fîv v ɖ mśīnz hd bn sìn muvñ twdz ɖ Tmz, n wn, bî a hapi ćans, hd bn dstroid. In ɖ uɖr cesz ɖ ślz hd míst, n ɖ baṭriz hd bn at wns anayletd bî ɖ Hītrez. Hevi losz v soljrz wr mnśnd, bt ɖ ton v ɖ dspać wz opṭmistic.

Ɖ Marśnz hd bn rpulst; ɖe wr nt invulnṛbl. Ɖe hd rtritd t ɖer trîangl v silindrz agn, in ɖ srcl abt Wǒcñ. Sigṇlrz wɖ hīlịgrafs wr pśñ fwd upn ɖm fṛm ol sîdz. Gunz wr in rapid tranzit fṛm Winzr, Portsṃʈ, Ōlḍśót, Wŭlij – īvn fṛm ɖ norʈ; amñ uɖrz, loñ wîrgunz v nînti-fîv tunz fṛm Wŭlij. Oltgɖr wn hundṛd n sixtīn wr in pziśn or biyñ hesṭli plest, ćīfli cuṿrñ Lundn. Nvr bfr in Ñgḷnd hd ɖr bn sć a vast or rapid consntreśn v militri mtirịl.

Eni frɖr silindrz ɖt fél, it wz hopt, cd b dstroid at wns bî hî xplosivz, ẃć wr biyñ rapidli mańfacćrd n dstribytd. No dǎt, ran ɖ rport, ɖ sićueśn wz v ɖ strenjist n grevist dscripśn, bt ɖ public wz xortd t avôd n dscurij panic. No dǎt ɖ Marśnz wr strenj n teṛbl in ɖ xtrim, bt at ɖ ǎtsd ɖr cd nt b mor ɖn twenti v ɖm agnst ǎr miłnz.

Ɖ oʈoṛtiz hd rīzn t s’poz, fṛm ɖ sîz v ɖ silindrz, ɖt at ɖ ǎtsd ɖr cd nt b mor ɖn fîv in ć silindr – fiftīn oltgɖr. N wn at līst wz dspozd v – phps mor. Ɖ public wd b ferli wornd v ɖ aproć v denjr, n ilabṛt meźrz wr biyñ tecn fr ɖ pṛtx́n v ɖ ppl in ɖ ʈretnd sǎʈ-wstn subrbz. N so, wɖ riiṭretd aśuṛnsz v ɖ sefti v Lundn n ɖ abiḷti v ɖ oʈoṛtiz t cǒp wɖ ɖ dificlti, ɖs qāzi-procḷmeśn clozd.

Ɖs wz printd in inorṃs tîp on pepr so freś ɖt it wz stl wet, n ɖr hd bn no tîm t ad a wrd v coment. It wz krịs, mî bruɖr sd, t si hǎ ruʈlisli ɖ yźl contents v ɖ pepr hd bn hact n tecn ǎt t gv ɖs ples.

Ol dǎn Welñtn Strīt ppl cd b sìn fluṭrñ ǎt ɖ pnc śīts n rīdñ, n ɖ Strand wz sudnli nôzi wɖ ɖ vôsz v an armi v hōcrz folowñ ɖz paynirz. Men cem scramḅlñ of busz t s’kr copiz. Srtnli ɖs nyz xîtd ppl intnsli, ẃtvr ɖer prīvịs aṗʈi. Ɖ śutrz v a mapśop in ɖ Strand wr biyñ tecn dǎn, mî bruɖr sd, n a man in hiz Súnde remnt, lemn-yelo gluvz īvn, wz viẓbl insd ɖ windo hesṭli faṣnñ maps v Suri t ɖ glas.

Gwñ on alñ ɖ Strand t Tṛfalgr Sqer, ɖ pepr in hiz hand, mî bruɖr sw sm v ɖ fyɉtvz fṛm Wst Suri. Ɖr wz a man wɖ hiz wîf n tū bôz n sm articlz v frnićr in a cart sć az grīngrosrz yz. H wz drîvñ fṛm ɖ d’rex́n v Wsminstr Brij; n clos bhnd him cem a heiwagn wɖ fîv or six rspctbl-lcñ ppl in it, n sm boxz n bundlz. Ɖ fesz v ɖz ppl wr haġd, n ɖer intîr apiṛns cntrastd cnspiksli wɖ ɖ Saḅʈ-bst apiṛns v ɖ ppl on ɖ omnibusz. Ppl in faśṇbl cloɖñ pīpt at ɖm ǎt v cabz. Ɖe stopt at ɖ Sqer az f undsîdd ẃć we t tec, n fîṇli trnd īstẉd alñ ɖ Strand. Sm we bhnd ɖz cem a man in wrc̣dê cloɖz, rîdñ wn v ɖoz old-faśnd trîsiclz wɖ a smōl frunt ẃīl. H wz drti n ẃît in ɖ fes.

Mî bruɖr trnd dǎn twdz Victoria, n met a numbr v sć ppl. H hd a veg îdīa ɖt h mt si smʈñ v m. H notist an unyźl numbr v p’līs reğletñ ɖ trafic. Sm v ɖ refyjīz wr xćenjñ nyz wɖ ɖ ppl on ɖ omnibusz. Wn wz pṛfesñ t hv sìn ɖ Marśnz. “Bôlrz on stilts, I tel y, strîdñ alñ lîc men.” Most v ɖm wr xîtd n aṇmetd bî ɖer strenj xpirịns.

Bynd Victoria ɖ publichǎzz wr dwñ a lîvli tred wɖ ɖz arîvlz. At ol ɖ strītcornrz grūps v ppl wr rīdñ peprz, tōcñ xîtdli, or stẹrñ at ɖz unyźl Súnde vizitrz. Ɖe sīmd t incris az nît drù on, untl at last ɖ rodz, mî bruɖr sd, wr lîc Epsm Hî Strīt on a Darbi De. Mî bruɖr adrest sevṛl v ɖz fyɉtvz n got unsaṭsfacṭri ansrz fṛm most.

Nn v ɖm cd tel him eni nyz v Wǒcñ xpt wn man, hu aśurd him ɖt Wǒcñ hd bn intîrli dstroid on ɖ prīvịs nît.

“I cm fṛm Bîflīt,” h sd; “man on a bîsicl cem ʈru ɖ ples in ɖ rli mornñ, n ran fṛm dor t dor wornñ s t cm awe. Ɖen cem soljrz. W wnt ǎt t lc, n ɖr wr clǎdz v smoc t ɖ sǎʈ – nʈñ bt smoc, n nt a soul cmñ ɖt we. Ɖen w hŕd ɖ gunz at Ćrtsi, n focs cmñ fṛm Wêbrij. So I’v loct p mî hǎs n cm on.”

At ɖ tîm ɖr wz a stroñ fīlñ in ɖ strīts ɖt ɖ oʈoṛtiz wr t blem fr ɖer inc̣paṣti t dspoz v ɖ invedrz wɖt ol ɖs incnvińns.

Abt et o’cloc a nôz v hevi fîrñ wz dstñtli ōḍbl ol ovr ɖ sǎʈ v Lundn. Mî bruɖr cd nt hír it fr ɖ trafic in ɖ mn ʈuṛférz, bt bî strîcñ ʈru ɖ qayt bac strīts t ɖ rivr h wz ebl t dstnḡś it qt plenli.

H wōct fṛm Wsminstr t hiz apartmnts nir Rījnt’s Parc, abt tū. H wz nǎ vri añśs on mî acǎnt, n dstrbd at ɖ evidnt magṇtyd v ɖ trubl. Hiz mînd wz inclînd t run, īvn az mîn hd run on Saṭde, on militri dītelz. H ʈt v ol ɖoz sîḷnt, xpctnt gunz, v ɖ sudnli nmadic cuntrisîd; h traid t imajn “bôlrz on stilts” a hundṛd fīt hî.

Ɖr wr wn or tū cartlodz v refyjīz pasñ alñ Oxfd Strīt, n sevṛl in ɖ Mariḷbon Rod, bt so slǒli wz ɖ nyz spredñ ɖt Rījnt Strīt n Portḷnd Ples wr fl v ɖer yźl Súnde-nît proṃnedrz, olbiit ɖe tōct in grūps, n alñ ɖ éj v Rījnt’s Parc ɖr wr az mni sîḷnt cuplz “wōcñ ǎt” tgɖr undr ɖ scatrd gaslamps az evr ɖr hd bn. Ɖ nît wz worm n stil, n a litl opresiv; ɖ sǎnd v gunz cntinyd inṭmitntli, n aftr midnît ɖr sīmd t b śītlîtnñ in ɖ sǎʈ.

H réd n rīréd ɖ pepr, firñ ɖ wrst hd hapnd t m. H wz restlis, n aftr supr prǎld ǎt agn emlisli. H rtrnd n traid in ven t dvrt hiz atnśn t hiz xaṃneśņots. H wnt t bed a litl aftr midnît, n wz awecnd fṛm lŭrid drīmz in ɖ smōl aurz v Munde bî ɖ sǎnd v dornocrz, fīt runñ in ɖ strīt, distnt drumñ, n a clamr v belz. Red rflex́nz danst on ɖ sīlñ. Fr a momnt h le astoniśt, wunḍrñ ẃɖr de hd cm or ɖ wrld gn mad. Ɖen h jumt ǎt v bed n ran t ɖ windo.

Hiz rūm wz an atic n az h ʈrust hiz hed ǎt, p n dǎn ɖ strīt ɖr wr a duzn ecoz t ɖ nôz v hiz windosaś, n hedz in evri cnd v nît dis’re apird. Inqîriz wr biyñ śǎtd. “Ɖe r cmñ!” bȍld a p’līsmn, haṃrñ at ɖ dor; “ɖ Marśnz r cmñ!” n hurid t ɖ nxt dor.

Ɖ sǎnd v drumñ n trumṗtñ cem fṛm ɖ Olḅni Strīt Baṛcs, n evri ćrć wɖn irśot wz hard at wrc cilñ slīp wɖ a viymnt dsordrli tóxin. Ɖr wz a nôz v dorz oṗnñ, n windo aftr windo in ɖ hǎzz oṗzit flaśt fṛm darcnis intu yelo iluṃneśn.

P ɖ strīt cem gaḷpñ a clozd carij, brstñ abrupli intu nôz at ɖ cornr, rîzñ t a claṭrñ clîmax undr ɖ windo, n dayñ awe slǒli in ɖ distns. Clos on ɖ rir v ɖs cem a cupl v cabz, ɖ fōŗunrz v a loñ pṛseśn v flayñ viyclz, gwñ fr ɖ most part t Ćōc Farm steśn, ẃr ɖ Norʈ-wstn speśl trenz wr lodñ p, instd v cmñ dǎn ɖ gredịnt intu Ystn.

Fr a loñ tîm mî bruɖr stérd ǎt v ɖ windo in blanc astoniśmnt, woćñ ɖ p’līsṃn haṃrñ at dor aftr dor, n dliṿrñ ɖer incomprihnsbl mesij. Ɖen ɖ dor bhnd him opnd, n ɖ man hu lojd acrs ɖ landñ cem in, drest onli in śrt, trǎzrz, n sliprz, hiz bresz lūs abt hiz weist, hiz her dsordrd fṛm hiz pilo.

“Ẃt ɖ devl z it?” h asct. “A fîr? Ẃt a devl v a rǎ!”

Ɖe bʈ crend ɖer hedz ǎt v ɖ windo, strenñ t hír ẃt ɖ p’līsṃn wr śǎtñ. Ppl wr cmñ ǎt v ɖ sîdstrīts, n standñ in grūps at ɖ cornrz tōcñ.

“Ẃt ɖ devl z it ol abt?” sd mî bruɖr’z felo lojr.

Mî bruɖr ansrd him vegli n bgan t dres, runñ wɖ ć garmnt t ɖ windo in ordr t mis nʈñ v ɖ growñ xîtmnt. N prezntli men selñ uņaćṛli rli nyzpeprz cem bȍlñ intu ɖ strīt:

“Lundn in denjr v suf̣ceśn! Ɖ Cñstn n Rićmnd dfnsz forst! Firfl maṣcrz in ɖ Tmz Vali!”

N ol abt him – in ɖ rūmz b’lo, in ɖ hǎzz on ć sîd n acrs ɖ rod, n bhnd in ɖ Parc Teṛsz n in ɖ hundṛd uɖr strīts v ɖt part v Mariḷbon, n ɖ Wesbōrn Parc district n St. Pancṛs, n wstẉd n norʈẉd in Cilbn n St. Jon’z Wŭd n Hamstid, n īstẉd in Śordić n Hîḅri n Haġstn n Hoxtn, n, indd, ʈru ol ɖ vastnis v Lundn fṛm Īlñ t Īst Ham – ppl wr rubñ ɖer îz, n oṗnñ windoz t stér ǎt n asc emlis qsćnz, dresñ hesṭli az ɖ frst breʈ v ɖ cmñ storm v Fir blù ʈru ɖ strīts. It wz ɖ dōn v ɖ gret panic. Lundn, ẃć hd gn t bed on Súnde nît oblivịs n inrt, wz awecnd, in ɖ smōl aurz v Munde mornñ, t a vivid sns v denjr.

Unebl fṛm hiz windo t lrn ẃt wz haṗnñ, mî bruɖr wnt dǎn n ǎt intu ɖ strīt, jst az ɖ scî btwn ɖ paṛpits v ɖ hǎzz grù pnc wɖ ɖ rli dōn. Ɖ flayñ ppl on ft n in viyclz grù mor ńmṛs evri momnt. “Blac Smoc!” h hŕd ppl crayñ, n agn “Blac Smoc!” Ɖ cntejn v sć a ynaniṃs fir wz inevitbl. Az mî bruɖr heztetd on ɖ dorstep, h sw anɖr nyz-vndr aproćñ, n got a pepr fʈwʈ. Ɖ man wz runñ awe wɖ ɖ rest, n selñ hiz peprz fr a śilñ ć az h ran – a gṛtesc mnġlñ v profit n panic.

N fṛm ɖs pepr mî bruɖr réd ɖt caṭstrofic dspać v ɖ Cmandr-in-Ćīf:

“Ɖ Marśnz r ebl t disćarj inorṃs clǎdz v a blac n pôzṇs vepr bî mīnz v rocits. Ɖe hv smuɖrd ǎr baṭriz, dstroid Rićmnd, Cñstn, n Wimbldn, n r advansñ slǒli twdz Lundn, dstroyñ evrʈñ on ɖ we. It z imposbl t stop ɖm. Ɖr z no sefti fṛm ɖ Blac Smoc bt in instnt flît.”

Ɖt wz ol, bt it wz inuf. Ɖ hol popyleśn v ɖ gret six-miłn siti wz stŕñ, slipñ, runñ; prezntli it wd b porñ en masse norʈẉd.

“Blac Smoc!” ɖ vôsz craid. “Fîr!”

Ɖ belz v ɖ neḅrñ ćrć md a janġlñ tymult, a cart cerlisli drivn smaśt, amd śrīcz n crsz, agnst ɖ wōtrtrof p ɖ strīt. Sicli yelo lîts wnt t n fro in ɖ hǎzz, n sm v ɖ pasñ cabz flōntd unxtnḡśt lamps. N oṿhed ɖ dōn wz growñ brîtr, clir n stedi n cām.

H hŕd ftsteps runñ t n fro in ɖ rūmz, n p n dǎn sterz bhnd him. Hiz landledi cem t ɖ dor, lūsli rápt in dresñgǎn n śōl; hr huzbnd foloud ijakletñ.

Az mî bruɖr bgan t riylîz ɖ import v ol ɖz ʈñz, h trnd hesṭli t hiz ǒn rūm, pt ol hiz aveḷbl muni – sm ten pǎndz oltgɖr – intu hiz pocits, n wnt ǎt agn intu ɖ strīts.

___

ĆAPTR FIFTĪN

ẂT HD HAPND IN SURI

I

t wz ẃl ɖ kṛt hd sat n tōct so wîldli t m undr ɖ hej in ɖ flat medoz nir Halif̣d, n ẃl mî bruɖr wz woćñ ɖ fyɉtvz strīm ovr Wsminstr Brij, ɖt ɖ Marśnz hd rzymd ɖ ofnsiv. So far az wn cn aṣten fṛm ɖ cnflictñ acǎnts ɖt hv bn pt fʈ, ɖ mjoṛti v ɖm rmend bizid wɖ preṗreśnz in ɖ Horsl pit untl nîn ɖt nît, huriyñ on sm oṗreśn ɖt disingejd hyj volymz v grīn smoc.

Bt ʈri srtnli cem ǎt abt et o’cloc n, advansñ slǒli n cōśsli, md ɖer we ʈru Bîflīt n Pirf̣d twdz Ripli n Wêbrij, n so cem in sît v ɖ xpctnt baṭriz agnst ɖ setñ sún. Ɖz Marśnz dd nt advans in a bodi, bt in a lîn, ć phps a mîl n a haf fṛm hiz nirist felo. Ɖe cḿṇcetd wɖ wn anɖr bî mīnz v sîṛnlîc hǎlz, runñ p n dǎn ɖ scel fṛm wn not t anɖr.

It wz ɖs hǎlñ n fîrñ v ɖ gunz at Ripli n St. Jorj’z Hil ɖt w hd hŕd at Upr Halif̣d. Ɖ Ripli gunrz, unsīznd artiḷrivoḷntirz hu òt nvr t hv bn plest in sć a pziśn, fîrd wn wîld, preṃćr, inifcćl voli, n boltd on hors n ft ʈru ɖ dzrtd vilij, ẃl ɖ Marśn, wɖt yzñ hiz Hītre, wōct s’rīnli ovr ɖer gunz, stept jinjrli amñ ɖm, pást in frunt v ɖm, n so cem unxpctdli upn ɖ gunz in Peinzhil Parc, ẃć h dstroid.

Ɖ St. Jorj’z Hil men, hvr, wr betr léd or v a betr métl. Hidn bî a pînwŭd az ɖe wr, ɖe sīm t hv bn qt unsspctd bî ɖ Marśn nirist t ɖm. Ɖe leid ɖer gunz az dlibṛtli az f ɖe hd bn on p’red, n fîrd at abt a ʈǎznd yardz’ renj.

Ɖ ślz flaśt ol rnd him, n h wz sìn t advans a fy pesz, stagr, n g dǎn. Evrbdi yeld tgɖr, n ɖ gunz wr rīlǒdd in frantic hest. Ɖ oṿʈroun Marśn set p a pṛloñd yłleśn, n imījtli a secnd gliṭrñ jaynt, anṣrñ him, apird ovr ɖ triz t ɖ sǎʈ. It wd sīm ɖt a leg v ɖ trîpod hd bn smaśt bî wn v ɖ ślz. Ɖ hol v ɖ secnd voli flù wîd v ɖ Marśn on ɖ grǎnd, n, simlteńsli, bʈ hiz cmpańnz bròt ɖer Hītrez t ber on ɖ baṭri. Ɖ aḿniśn blù p, ɖ pîntrīz ol abt ɖ gunz flaśt intu fîr, n onli wn or tū v ɖ men hu wr olrdi runñ ovr ɖ crest v ɖ hil iscept.

Aftr ɖs it wd sīm ɖt ɖ ʈri tc cǎnsl tgɖr n hōltd, n ɖ scǎts hu wr woćñ ɖm rport ɖt ɖe rmend abṣlutli steśnri fr ɖ nxt haf aur. Ɖ Marśn hu hd bn oṿʈroun crōld tīdịsli ǎt v hiz hŭd, a smōl brǎn figr, odli sjstiv fṛm ɖt distns v a spec v blît, n apaṛntli ingejd in ɖ rper v hiz s’port. Abt nîn h hd finiśt, fr hiz cǎl wz ɖen sìn abv ɖ triz agn.

It wz a fy minits past nîn ɖt nît ẃn ɖz ʈri sntiṇlz wr jônd bî for uɖr Marśnz, ć cariyñ a ʈic blac tyb. A similr tyb wz handd t ć v ɖ ʈri, n ɖ sevn pṛsidd t dstribyt ɖmslvz at īql distnsz alñ a crvd lîn btwn St. Jorj’z Hil, Wêbrij, n ɖ vilij v Snd, sǎʈ-wst v Ripli.

A duzn rocits sprañ ǎt v ɖ hilz bfr ɖm so sn az ɖe bgan t muv, n wornd ɖ wêtñ baṭriz abt Ditn n Īśr. At ɖ sem tîm for v ɖer fîtñmśīnz, similrli armd wɖ tybz, crost ɖ rivr, n tū v ɖm, blac agnst ɖ wstn scî, cem intu sît v mslf n ɖ kṛt az w hurid wiṛli n penf̣li alñ ɖ rod ɖt runz norʈẉd ǎt v Halif̣d. Ɖe muvd, az it sīmd t s, upn a clǎd, fr a milci mist cuvrd ɖ fīldz n rouz t a ʈrd v ɖer hît.

At ɖs sît ɖ kṛt craid fentli in hiz ʈrot, n bgan runñ; bt I ń it wz no gd runñ fṛm a Marśn, n I trnd asd n crōld ʈru dȳi netlz n bramblz intu ɖ brōd dić bî ɖ sîd v ɖ rod. H lct bac, sw ẃt I wz dwñ, n trnd t jôn m.

Ɖ tū hōltd, ɖ nirr t s standñ n fesñ Súnḅri, ɖ rmotr biyñ a gre indistñtnis twdz ɖ īvnñstar, awe twdz Steinz.

Ɖ oceźnl hǎlñ v ɖ Marśnz hd sīst; ɖe tc p ɖer pziśnz in ɖ hyj cresnt abt ɖer silindrz in abṣlut sîḷns. It wz a cresnt wɖ twelv mîlz btwn its hornz. Nvr sins ɖ dvîzñ v gunpǎdr wz ɖ bginñ v a batl so stil. T s n t an obzrvr abt Ripli it wd hv hd prisîsli ɖ sem ifct – ɖ Marśnz sīmd in solitri pześn v ɖ darclñ nît, lit onli az it wz bî ɖ slendr mūn, ɖ starz, ɖ afṭglo v ɖ dêlît, n ɖ rudi gler fṛm St. Jorj’z Hil n ɖ wŭdz v Peinzhil.

Bt fesñ ɖt cresnt evrẃr – at Steinz, Hǎnzlo, Ditn, Īśr, Ócm, bhnd hilz n wŭdz sǎʈ v ɖ rivr, n acrs ɖ flat grasmedoz t ɖ norʈ v it, ẃrvr a clustr v triz or vilijhǎzz gev sfiśnt cuvr – ɖ gunz wr wêtñ. Ɖ signl rocits brst n rênd ɖer sparcs ʈru ɖ nît n vaniśt, n ɖ spirit v ol ɖoz woćñ baṭriz rouz t a tns xpcteśn. Ɖ Marśnz hd bt t advans intu ɖ lîn v fîr, n instntli ɖoz mośnlis blac formz v men, ɖoz gunz gliṭrñ so darcli in ɖ rli nît, wd xplod intu a ʈundṛs fyri v batl.

No dǎt ɖ ʈt ɖt wz uṗmost in a ʈǎznd v ɖoz vijiḷnt mîndz, īvn az it wz uṗmost in mîn, wz ɖ ridl – hǎ mć ɖe unḍstd v s. Dd ɖe grasp ɖt w in ǎr miłnz wr orġnîzd, diṣplind, wrcñ tgɖr? Or dd ɖe intrprit ǎr sprts v fîr, ɖ sudn stññ v ǎr ślz, ǎr stedi invstmnt v ɖer incampmnt, az w śd ɖ fyrịs ynniṃti v onslōt in a dstrbd hîv v bìz? Dd ɖe drīm ɖe mt xtrṃnet s? (At ɖt tîm nwn ń ẃt fūd ɖe nīdd.) A hundṛd sć qsćnz strugld tgɖr in mî mînd az I woćt ɖt vast sntinl śep. N in ɖ bac v mî mînd wz ɖ sns v ol ɖ hyj uņoun n hidn forsz Lundnẉd. Hd ɖe priperd pitfōlz? Wr ɖ pǎdrmilz at Hǎnzlo redi az a sner? Wd ɖ Lundnrz hv ɖ hart n curij t mc a gretr Mosco v ɖer mîti provins v hǎzz?

Ɖen, aftr an intrmiṇbl tîm, az it sīmd t s, crǎćñ n pirñ ʈru ɖ hej, cem a sǎnd lîc ɖ distnt cncuśn v a gun. Anɖr nirr, n ɖen anɖr. N ɖen ɖ Marśn bsd s rezd hiz tyb on hî n dsćarjd it, gunwîz, wɖ a hevi rport ɖt md ɖ grǎnd hīv. Ɖ wn twdz Steinz ansrd him. Ɖr wz no flaś, no smoc, simpli ɖt lodd deṭneśn.

I wz so xîtd bî ɖz hevi minitgunz folowñ wn anɖr ɖt I so far fgot mî prsnl sefti n mî scōldd handz az t clambr p intu ɖ hej n stér twdz Súnḅri. Az I dd so a secnd rport foloud, n a big pṛjctîl hrtld oṿhed twdz Hǎnzlo. I xpctd at līst t si smoc or fîr, or sm sć evidns v its wrc. Bt ol I sw wz ɖ dīp blu scî abv, wɖ wn solitri star, n ɖ ẃît mist spredñ wîd n lo bnʈ. N ɖr hd bn no craś, no anṣrñ xploźn. Ɖ sîḷns wz rstord; ɖ minit leñʈnd t ʈri.

“Ẃt hz hapnd?” sd ɖ kṛt, standñ p bsd m.

“Hevn nz!” sd I.

A bat flicrd bî n vaniśt. A distnt tymult v śǎtñ bgan n sīst. I lct agn at ɖ Marśn, n sw h wz nǎ muvñ īstẉd alñ ɖ rivrbanc, wɖ a swift, rolñ mośn.

Evri momnt I xpctd ɖ fîr v sm hidn baṭri t sprñ upn him; bt ɖ īvnñ cām wz unbrocn. Ɖ figr v ɖ Marśn grù smōlr az h rsidd, n prezntli ɖ mist n ɖ gaɖ̇rñ nît hd swoloud him p. Bî a comn impuls w clambrd hayr. Twdz Súnḅri wz a darc apiṛns, az ɖo a conicl hil hd sudnli cm intu biyñ ɖr, hîdñ ǎr vy v ɖ farɖr cuntri; n ɖen, rmotr acrs ɖ rivr, ovr Wōltn, w sw anɖr sć sumit. Ɖz hiļîc formz grù lowr n brōdr īvn az w stérd.

Muvd bî a sudn ʈt, I lct norʈẉd, n ɖr I psivd a ʈrd v ɖz clǎdi blac cópiz hd rizn.

Evrʈñ hd sudnli bcm vri stil. Far awe t ɖ sǎʈīst, marcñ ɖ qayt, w hŕd ɖ Marśnz hūtñ t wn anɖr, n ɖen ɖ er qivrd agn wɖ ɖ distnt ʈud v ɖer gunz. Bt ɖ rʈli artiḷri md no rplî.

Nǎ at ɖ tîm w cd nt unḍstand ɖz ʈñz, bt lêtr I wz t lrn ɖ mīnñ v ɖz omiṇs cópiz ɖt gaɖrd in ɖ twîlît. Ć v ɖ Marśnz, standñ in ɖ gret cresnt I hv dscrîbd, hd dsćarjd, bî mīnz v ɖ gunlîc tyb h carid, a hyj canistr ovr ẃtvr hil, cops, clustr v hǎzz, or uɖr poṣbl cuvr fr gunz, ćanst t b in frunt v him. Sm fîrd onli wn v ɖz, sm tū – az in ɖ ces v ɖ wn w hd sìn; ɖ wn at Ripli z sd t hv dsćarjd no fywr ɖn fîv at ɖt tîm. Ɖz canistrz smaśt on strîcñ ɖ grǎnd – ɖe dd nt xplod – n incontinntli disingejd an inorṃs volym v hevi, ñci vepr, côlñ n porñ upwd in a hyj n eḅni kḿḷsclǎd, a gasịs hil ɖt sanc n spred itslf slǒli ovr ɖ srǎndñ cuntri. N ɖ tuć v ɖt vepr, ɖ inhelñ v its punjnt wisps, wz deʈ t ol ɖt briɖz.

It wz hevi, ɖs vepr, hevịr ɖn ɖ densist smoc, so ɖt, aftr ɖ frst tymulćs upruś n ǎtflo v its impact, it sanc dǎn ʈru ɖ er n pord ovr ɖ grǎnd in a manr rɖr liqid ɖn gasịs, abandnñ ɖ hilz, n strīmñ intu ɖ valiz n dićz n wōtrcorsz īvn az I hv hŕd ɖ carbonic-asid gas ɖt porz fṛm vlcanic clefts z wónt t d. N ẃr it cem upn wōtr sm cemicl ax́n ocŕd, n ɖ srfis wd b instntli cuvrd wɖ a pǎḍri scum ɖt sanc slǒli n md we fr mor. Ɖ scum wz abṣlutli insołbl, n it z a strenj ʈñ, siyñ ɖ instnt ifct v ɖ gas, ɖt wn cd drinc wɖt hrt ɖ wōtr fṛm ẃć it hd bn strend. Ɖ vepr dd nt dfys az a tru gas wd d. It huñ tgɖr in bancs, flowñ sluġśli dǎn ɖ slǒp v ɖ land n drîvñ rluctntli bfr ɖ wind, n vri slǒli it cmbînd wɖ ɖ mist n môsćr v ɖ er, n sanc t ɖ rʈ in ɖ form v dust. Sev ɖt an uņoun elimnt gvñ a grūp v for lînz in ɖ blu v ɖ spectṛm z cnsrnd, w r stl intîrli ignṛnt v ɖ nećr v ɖs substns.

Wns ɖ tymulćs uphivl v its dsprśn wz ovr, ɖ blac smoc cluñ so closli t ɖ grǎnd, īvn bfr its prisiṗteśn, ɖt fifti fīt p in ɖ er, on ɖ rūfs n upr storiz v hî hǎzz n on gret triz, ɖr wz a ćans v iscepñ its pôzn oltgɖr, az wz pruvd īvn ɖt nît at Strīt Cobm n Ditn.

Ɖ man hu iscept at ɖ formr ples tlz a wundrfl stori v ɖ strenjnis v its côlñ flo, n hǎ h lct dǎn fṛm ɖ ćrćspîr n sw ɖ hǎzz v ɖ vilij rîzñ lîc gosts ǎt v its ñci nʈñnis. Fr a de n a haf h rmend ɖr, wiri, starvñ n sún-scorćt, ɖ rʈ undr ɖ blu scî n agnst ɖ prospect v ɖ distnt hilz a velvit-blac xpans, wɖ red rūfs, grīn triz, n, lêtr, blac-veild śrubz n gets, barnz, ǎthǎzz, n wōlz, rîzñ hir n ɖr intu ɖ súnlît.

Bt ɖt wz at Strīt Cobm, ẃr ɖ blac vepr wz alaud t rmen untl it sanc v its ǒn acord intu ɖ grǎnd. Az a rūl ɖ Marśnz, ẃn it hd srvd its prṗs, clird ɖ er v it agn bî wêdñ intu it n d’rectñ a jet v stīm upn it.

Ɖs ɖe dd wɖ ɖ vepr bancs nir s, az w sw in ɖ starlît fṛm ɖ windo v a dzrtd hǎs at Upr Halif̣d, ẃiɖr w hd rtrnd. Fṛm ɖr w cd si ɖ srćlîts on Rićmnd Hil n Cñstn Hil gwñ t n fro, n abt ilevn ɖ windoz ratld, n w hŕd ɖ sǎnd v ɖ hyj sījgunz ɖt hd bn pt in pziśn ɖr. Ɖz cntinyd inṭmitntli fr ɖ spes v a qortr v an aur, sndñ ćans śots at ɖ inviẓbl Marśnz at Hamtn n Ditn, n ɖen ɖ pel bīmz v ɖ ilectric lît vaniśt, n wr rplest bî a brît red glo.

Ɖen ɖ forʈ silindr fél – a briłnt grīn mītior – az I lrnt aftwdz, in Bŭśi Parc. Bfr ɖ gunz on ɖ Rićmnd n Cñstn lîn v hilz bgan, ɖr wz a fitfl canned far awe in ɖ sǎʈ-wst, dy, I b’liv, t gunz biyñ fîrd haphaẓd bfr ɖ blac vepr cd oṿẃlm ɖ gunrz.

So, setñ abt it az mʈodicli az men mt smoc ǎt a wosps’ nst, ɖ Marśnz spred ɖs strenj stîf̣lñ vepr ovr ɖ Lundnẉd cuntri. Ɖ hornz v ɖ cresnt slǒli muvd apart, untl at last ɖe formd a lîn fṛm Hanwél t Cūm n Mōldn. Ol nît ʈru ɖer dstructiv tybz advanst. Nvr wns, aftr ɖ Marśn at St. Jorj’z Hil wz bròt dǎn, dd ɖe gv ɖ artiḷri ɖ gost v a ćans agnst ɖm. Ẃrvr ɖr wz a posbiḷti v gunz biyñ leid fr ɖm unsìn, a freś canistr v ɖ blac vepr wz dsćarjd, n ẃr ɖ gunz wr opnli dspleid ɖ Hītre wz bròt t ber.

Bî midnît ɖ blezñ triz alñ ɖ slǒps v Rićmnd Parc n ɖ gler v Cñstn Hil ʈrù ɖer lît upn a netwrc v blac smoc, blotñ ǎt ɖ hol vali v ɖ Tmz n xtndñ az far az ɖ î cd rīć. N ʈru ɖs tū Marśnz slǒli wêdd, n trnd ɖer hisñ stīmjets ɖs we n ɖt.

Ɖe wr spẹrñ v ɖ Hītre ɖt nît, îɖr bcz ɖe hd bt a liṃtd s’plî v mtirịl fr its pṛdux́n or bcz ɖe dd nt wś t dstrô ɖ cuntri bt onli t cruś n oṿō ɖ opziśn ɖe hd arǎzd. In ɖ latr em ɖe srtnli s’xidd. Súnde nît wz ɖ end v ɖ orġnîzd opziśn t ɖer muvmnts. Aftr ɖt no bodi v men wd stand agnst ɖm, so hoplis wz ɖ enṭprîz. Īvn ɖ cruz v ɖ torpīdobots n dstroyrz ɖt hd bròt ɖer qcfîrrz p ɖ Tmz rfyzd t stop, ḿṭnid, n wnt dǎn agn. Ɖ onli ofnsiv oṗreśn men vnćrd upn aftr ɖt nît wz ɖ preṗreśn v mînz n pitfōlz, n īvn in ɖt ɖer eṇjiz wr frantic n spazmodic.

Wn hz t imajn, az wel az wn me, ɖ fet v ɖoz baṭriz twdz Īśr, wêtñ so tensli in ɖ twîlît. Svîvrz ɖr wr nn. Wn me picćr ɖ ordrli xpcteśn, ɖ ofisrz alrt n woćfl, ɖ gunrz redi, ɖ aḿniśn pîld t hand, ɖ limbrgunrz wɖ ɖer horsz n wagnz, ɖ grūps v sviłn spectetrz standñ az nir az ɖe wr pmitd, ɖ īvnñ stilnis, ɖ ambyḷnsz n hospitl-tnts wɖ ɖ brnd n wūndd fṛm Wêbrij; ɖen ɖ dul reẓnns v ɖ śots ɖ Marśnz fîrd, n ɖ clumzi pṛjctîl ẃrlñ ovr ɖ triz n hǎzz n smaśñ amd ɖ neḅrñ fīldz.

Wn me picćr, tù, ɖ sudn śiftñ v ɖ atnśn, ɖ swiftli spredñ côlz n beliyñz v ɖt blacnis advansñ hedloñ, tǎrñ hevnẉd, trnñ ɖ twîlît t a palṗbl darcnis, a strenj n hoṛbl antaġnist v vepr strîdñ upn its victimz, men n horsz nir it sìn dimli, runñ, śrīcñ, fōlñ hedloñ, śǎts v dsme, ɖ gunz sudnli abandnd, men ćocñ n rîɖñ on ɖ grǎnd, n ɖ swift brōḍnñ-ǎt v ɖ opec con v smoc. N ɖen nît n xtñśn – nʈñ bt a sîḷnt mas v impeṇtṛbl vepr hîdñ its ded.

Bfr dōn ɖ blac vepr wz porñ ʈru ɖ strīts v Rićmnd, n ɖ disintgretñ orġnizm v guvnmnt wz, wɖ a last xpîrñ ef̣t, rǎzñ ɖ popyleśn v Lundn t ɖ nseṣti v flît.

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ĆAPTR SIXTĪN

Ɖ XDS FṚM LUNDN

S

o y unḍstand ɖ rorñ wev v fir ɖt swept ʈru ɖ gretist siti in ɖ wrld jst az Munde wz dōnñ – ɖ strīm v flît rîzñ swiftli t a toṛnt, laśñ in a fomñ tymult rnd ɖ relwe-steśnz, banct p intu a hoṛbl strugl abt ɖ śipñ in ɖ Tmz, n huriyñ bî evri aveḷbl ćanl norʈẉd n īstẉd. Bî ten o’cloc ɖ p’līs-orġnîześn, n bî miḑe īvn ɖ relwe-orġnîześnz, wr luzñ chiṛnsi, luzñ śep n ifiśnsi, guṭrñ, sof̣nñ, runñ at last in ɖt swift liqfax́n v ɖ sośl bodi.

Ol ɖ relwe-lînz norʈ v ɖ Tmz n ɖ Sǎʈ-īstn ppl at Cánn Strīt hd bn wornd bî midnît on Súnde, n trenz wr biyñ fild. Ppl wr fîtñ saṿjli fr standñrūm in ɖ caṛjz īvn at tū o’cloc. Bî ʈri, ppl wr biyñ trampld n cruśt īvn in Biṣ́psget Strīt, a cupl v hundṛd yardz or mor fṛm Liṿpul Strīt steśn; rvolvrz wr fîrd, ppl stabd, n ɖ p’līsṃn hu hd bn snt t d’rect ɖ trafic, xōstd n infyrietd, wr brecñ ɖ hedz v ɖ ppl ɖe wr cōld ǎt t pṛtct.

N az ɖ de advanst n ɖ enjindrîvrz n stǒcrz rfyzd t rtrn t Lundn, ɖ preśr v ɖ flît drouv ɖ ppl in an evr-ʈic̣nñ multtyd awe fṛm ɖ steśnz n alñ ɖ norʈẉd-runñ rodz. Bî miḑe a Marśn hd bn sìn at Bārnz, n a clǎd v slǒli sncñ blac vepr drouv alñ ɖ Tmz n acrs ɖ flats v Lamḅʈ, cutñ of ol iscep ovr ɖ brijz in its slugiś advans. Anɖr banc drouv ovr Īlñ, n srǎndd a litl îḷnd v svîvrz on Casl Hil, alîv, bt unebl t iscep.

Aftr a frūtlis strugl t gt abord a Norʈ-wstn tren at Ćōc Farm – ɖ enjinz v ɖ trenz ɖt hd lodd in ɖ gdzyard ɖr plaud ʈru śrīcñ ppl, n a duzn stōlẉt men fòt t cīp ɖ crǎd fṛm cruśñ ɖ drîvr agnst hiz frnis – mî bruɖr imrjd upn ɖ Ćōc Farm rod, dojd acrs ʈru a huriyñ sworm v viyclz, n hd ɖ luc t b fōrmost in ɖ sác v a sîclśop. Ɖ frunt tîr v ɖ mśīn h got wz puñćrd in dragñ it ʈru ɖ windo, bt h got p n of, ntwɖstandñ, wɖ no frɖr inɉri ɖn a cut rist. Ɖ stīp ft v Haṿstóc Hil wz impaṣbl owñ t sevṛl oṿtrnd horsz, n mî bruɖr struc intu Belsîz Rod.

So h got ǎt v ɖ fyri v ɖ panic, n, scrtñ ɖ Éjwér Rod, rīćt Éjwér abt sevn, fastñ n wirid, bt wel ahd v ɖ crǎd. Alñ ɖ rod ppl wr standñ in ɖ rodwe, krịs, wunḍrñ. H wz pást bî a numbr v sîclists, sm horsṃn, n tū motrcarz. A mîl fṛm Éjwér ɖ rim v ɖ ẃīl brouc, n ɖ mśīn bcem unrîḍbl. H left it bî ɖ rǒdsîd n trujd ʈru ɖ vilij. Ɖr wr śops haf opnd in ɖ mn strīt v ɖ ples, n ppl crǎdd on ɖ pevmnt n in ɖ dorwez n windoz, stẹrñ astoniśt at ɖs xtrordnri pṛseśn v fyɉtvz ɖt wz bginñ. H s’xidd in gtñ sm fūd at an ín.

Fr a tîm h rmend in Éjwér nt nwñ ẃt nxt t d. Ɖ flayñ ppl incrist in numbr. Mni v ɖm, lîc mî bruɖr, sīmd inclînd t lôtr in ɖ ples. Ɖr wz no freś nyz v ɖ invedrz fṛm Marz.

At ɖt tîm ɖ rod wz crǎdd, bt az yt far fṛm cnjstd. Most v ɖ fyɉtvz at ɖt aur wr mǎntd on sîclz, bt ɖr wr sn motrcarz, hansmcabz, n caṛjz huriyñ alñ, n ɖ dust huñ in hevi clǎdz alñ ɖ rod t St. Olbnz.

It wz phps a veg îdīa v mcñ hiz we t Ćlmzf̣d, ẃr sm frendz v hiz livd, ɖt at last indyst mî bruɖr t strîc intu a qayt len runñ īstẉd. Prezntli h cem upn a stail, n, crosñ it, foloud a ftpaʈ norʈīstẉd. H pást nir sevṛl farmhǎzz n sm litl plesz huz nemz h dd nt lrn. H sw fy fyɉtvz untl, in a gras len twdz Hî Barnit, h hapnd upn tū lediz hu bcem hiz felo travlrz. H cem upn ɖm jst in tîm t sev ɖm.

H hŕd ɖer scrīmz, n, huriyñ rnd ɖ cornr, sw a cupl v men struġlñ t drag ɖm ǎt v ɖ litl poniśêz in ẃć ɖe hd bn drîvñ, ẃl a ʈrd wɖ dificlti hld ɖ frîtnd poni’z hed. Wn v ɖ lediz, a śort wmn drest in ẃît, wz simpli scrīmñ; ɖ uɖr, a darc, slendr figr, slaśt at ɖ man hu gript hr arm wɖ a ẃip ś hld in hr disingejd hand.

Mî bruɖr imījtli graspt ɖ sićueśn, śǎtd, n hurid twdz ɖ strugl. Wn v ɖ men dzistd n trnd twdz him, n mî bruɖr, riylîzñ fṛm hiz antaġnist’s fes ɖt a fît wz un’vôḍbl, n biyñ an xprt boxr, wnt intu him fʈwʈ n snt him dǎn agnst ɖ ẃīl v ɖ śêz.

It wz no tîm fr pyɉlistic śivlri n mî bruɖr leid him qayt wɖ a cic, n gript ɖ colr v ɖ man hu pld at ɖ slendr ledi’z arm. H hŕd ɖ clatr v hūfs, ɖ ẃip stuñ acrs hiz fes, a ʈrd antaġnist struc him btwn ɖ îz, n ɖ man h hld renćt himslf fri n md of dǎn ɖ len in ɖ d’rex́n fṛm ẃć h hd cm.

Partli stund, h faund himslf fesñ ɖ man hu hd hld ɖ hors’z hed, n bcem awer v ɖ śêz rsidñ fṛm him dǎn ɖ len, sweyñ fṛm sîd t sîd, n wɖ ɖ wimin in it lcñ bac. Ɖ man bfr him, a brli ruf, traid t cloz, n h stopt him wɖ a blo in ɖ fes. Ɖen, riylîzñ ɖt h wz dzrtd, h dojd rnd n md of dǎn ɖ len aftr ɖ śêz, wɖ ɖ strdi man clos bhnd him, n ɖ fyɉtiv, hu hd trnd nǎ, folowñ rmotli.

Sudnli h stumbld n fél; hiz imījt psywr wnt hedloñ, n h rouz t hiz fīt t fînd himslf wɖ a cupl v antaġnists agn. H wd hv hd litl ćans agnst ɖm hd nt ɖ slendr ledi vri pluc̣li pld p n rtrnd t hiz hlp. It sīmz ś hd hd a rvolvr ol ɖs tîm, bt it hd bn undr ɖ sīt ẃn ś n hr cmpańn wr atact. Ś fîrd at six yardz’ distns, naroli misñ mî bruɖr. Ɖ les c’rejs v ɖ robrz md of, n hiz cmpańn foloud him, crsñ hiz cawdis. Ɖe bʈ stopt in sît dǎn ɖ len, ẃr ɖ ʈrd man le insnsbl.

“Tec ɖs!” sd ɖ slendr ledi, n ś gev mî bruɖr hr rvolvr.

“G bac t ɖ śêz,” sd mî bruɖr, wîpñ ɖ blud fṛm hiz split lip.

Ś trnd wɖt a wrd – ɖe wr bʈ pantñ – n ɖe wnt bac t ẃr ɖ ledi in ẃît strugld t hold bac ɖ frîtnd poni.

Ɖ robrz hd evidntli hd inuf v it. Ẃn mî bruɖr lct agn ɖe wr rtritñ.

“I’l sit hir,” sd mî bruɖr, “f I me”; n h got upn ɖ emti frunt sīt. Ɖ ledi lct ovr hr śoldr.

“Gv m ɖ reinz,” ś sd, n leid ɖ ẃip alñ ɖ poni’z sîd. In anɖr momnt a bnd in ɖ rod hid ɖ ʈri men fṛm mî bruɖr’z îz.

So, qt unxpctdli, mî bruɖr faund himslf, pantñ, wɖ a cut mǎʈ, a bruzd jw, n bludstend nuclz, drîvñ alñ an uņoun len wɖ ɖz tū wimin.

H lrnt ɖe wr ɖ wîf n ɖ yungr sistr v a srjn livñ at Stanmor, hu hd cm in ɖ smōl aurz fṛm a denjṛs ces at Pinr, n hŕd at sm relwe-steśn on hiz we v ɖ Marśn advans. H hd hurid hom, rǎzd ɖ wimin – ɖer srvnt hd left ɖm tū dez bfr – páct sm pṛviźnz, pt hiz rvolvr undr ɖ sīt – luc̣li fr mî bruɖr – n tld ɖm t drîv on t Éjwér, wɖ ɖ îdīa v gtñ a tren ɖr. H stopt bhnd t tel ɖ nebrz. H wd oṿtec ɖm, h sd, at abt haf past for in ɖ mornñ, n nǎ it wz nirli nîn n ɖe hd sìn nʈñ v him. Ɖe cd nt stop in Éjwér bcz v ɖ growñ trafic ʈru ɖ ples, n so ɖe hd cm intu ɖs sîd len.

Ɖt wz ɖ stori ɖe tld mî bruɖr in fragmnts ẃn prezntli ɖe stopt agn, nirr t Ny Barnit. H promist t ste wɖ ɖm, at līst untl ɖe cd dtrmin ẃt t d, or untl ɖ misñ man arîvd, n pṛfest t b an xprt śot wɖ ɖ rvolvr – a wepn strenj t him – in ordr t gv ɖm confidns.

Ɖe md a sort v incampmnt bî ɖ wêsîd, n ɖ poni bcem hapi in ɖ hej. H tld ɖm v hiz ǒn iscep ǎt v Lundn, n ol ɖt h ń v ɖz Marśnz n ɖer wez. Ɖ sún crept hayr in ɖ scî, n aftr a tîm ɖer tōc daid ǎt n gev ples t an unīzi stet v antiṣpeśn. Sevṛl wêférrz cem alñ ɖ len, n v ɖz mî bruɖr gaɖrd sć nyz az h cd. Evri brocn ansr h hd dīpnd hiz impreśn v ɖ gret dzastr ɖt hd cm on hymaṇti, dīpnd hiz psweźn v ɖ imījt nseṣti fr proṣktñ ɖs flît. H rjd ɖ matr upn ɖm.

“W hv muni,” sd ɖ slendr wmn, n heztetd.

Hr îz met mî bruɖr’z, n hr hezteśn endd.

“So hv I,” sd mî bruɖr.

Ś xplend ɖt ɖe hd az mć az ʈrti pǎndz in gold, bsdz a fîv-pǎnd not, n sjstd ɖt wɖ ɖt ɖe mt gt upn a tren at St. Olbnz or Ny Barnit. Mî bruɖr ʈt ɖt wz hoplis, siyñ ɖ fyri v ɖ Lundnrz t crǎd upn ɖ trenz, n broćt hiz ǒn îdīa v strîcñ acrs Esix twdz Harić n ɖns iscepñ fṛm ɖ cuntri oltgɖr.

Msz Elfnston – ɖt wz ɖ nem v ɖ wmn in ẃît – wd lisn t no rīẓnñ, n cept cōlñ upn “Jorj”; bt hr sistr-in-lw wz astoṇśñli qayt n dlibṛt, n at last agrìd t mî bruɖr’z sjsćn. So, dzînñ t cros ɖ Gret Norʈ Rod, ɖe wnt on twdz Barnit, mî bruɖr līdñ ɖ poni t sev it az mć az poṣbl. Az ɖ sún crept p ɖ scî ɖ de bcem xesivli hot, n undr ft a ʈic, ẃîtiś sand grù brnñ n blîndñ, so ɖt ɖe travld onli vri slǒli. Ɖ hejz wr gre wɖ dust. N az ɖe advanst twdz Barnit a tymulćs mrṃrñ grù strongr.

Ɖe bgan t mīt mor ppl. Fr ɖ most part ɖz wr stẹrñ bfr ɖm, mrṃrñ indistñt qsćnz, jedd, haġd, unclīn. Wn man in īvnñdres pást ɖm on ft, hiz îz on ɖ grǎnd. Ɖe hŕd hiz vôs, n, lcñ bac at him, sw wn hand clućt in hiz her n ɖ uɖr bìtñ inviẓbl ʈñz. Hiz paṛxizm v rej ovr, h wnt on hiz we wɖt wns lcñ bac.

Az mî bruɖr’z parti wnt on twdz ɖ crosrodz t ɖ sǎʈ v Barnit ɖe sw a wmn aproćñ ɖ rod acrs sm fīldz on ɖer left, cariyñ a ćîld n wɖ tū uɖr ćildṛn; n ɖen pást a man in drti blac, wɖ a ʈic stic in wn hand n a smōl portmanto in ɖ uɖr. Ɖen rnd ɖ cornr v ɖ len, fṛm btwn ɖ vilaz ɖt gardd it at its conflụns wɖ ɖ hîrod, cem a litl cart drwn bî a swetñ blac poni n drivn bî a salo yʈ in a bolrhat, gre wɖ dust. Ɖr wr ʈri grlz, Īst End facṭrigrlz, n a cupl v litl ćildṛn crǎdd in ɖ cart.

“Ɖs’l tîc s rānd Éjwér?” asct ɖ drîvr, wîld-aid, ẃît-fest; n ẃn mî bruɖr tld him it wd f h trnd t ɖ left, h ẃipt p at wns wɖt ɖ formaḷti v ʈancs.

Mî bruɖr notist a pel gre smoc or hêz rîzñ amñ ɖ hǎzz in frunt v ɖm, n veilñ ɖ ẃît fsād v a teris bynd ɖ rod ɖt apird btwn ɖ bacs v ɖ vilaz. Msz Elfinstn sudnli craid ǎt at a numbr v tuñz v smoci red flem līpñ p abv ɖ hǎzz in frunt v ɖm agnst ɖ hot, blu scî. Ɖ tymulćs nôz rzolvd itslf nǎ intu ɖ dsordrli mnġlñ v mni vôsz, ɖ grìd v mni ẃīlz, ɖ crīcñ v wagnz, n ɖ sṭcāto v hūfs. Ɖ len cem rnd śarpli nt fifti yardz fṛm ɖ crosrodz.

“Gd hevnz!” craid Msz Elfinstn. “Ẃt z ɖs y r drîvñ s intu?”

Mî bruɖr stopt.

Fr ɖ mn rod wz a bôlñ strīm v ppl, a toṛnt v hymn biyñz ruśñ norʈẉd, wn presñ on anɖr. A gret banc v dust, ẃît n lūmiṇs in ɖ blêz v ɖ sún, md evrʈñ wɖn twenti fīt v ɖ grǎnd gre n indistñt n wz ppćli rnyd bî ɖ huriyñ fīt v a dns crǎd v horsz n v men n wimin on ft, n bî ɖ ẃīlz v viyclz v evri dscripśn.

“We!” mî bruɖr hŕd vôsz crayñ. “Mc we!”

It wz lîc rîdñ intu ɖ smoc v a fîr t aproć ɖ mītñpônt v ɖ len n rod; ɖ crǎd rord lîc a fîr, n ɖ dust wz hot n punjnt. N, indd, a litl we p ɖ rod a vila wz brnñ n sndñ rolñ masz v blac smoc acrs ɖ rod t ad t ɖ cnfyźn.

Tū men cem past ɖm. Ɖen a drti wmn, cariyñ a hevi bundl n wīpñ. A lost rtrivrdog, wɖ haññ tuñ, srcld dybịsli rnd ɖm, scerd n rećid, n fled at mî bruɖr’z ʈret.

So mć az ɖe cd si v ɖ rod Lundnẉd btwn ɖ hǎzz t ɖ rît wz a tymulćs strīm v drti, huriyñ ppl, pnt in btwn ɖ vilaz on îɖr sîd; ɖ blac hedz, ɖ crǎdd formz, grù intu dstñtnis az ɖe ruśt twdz ɖ cornr, hurid past, n mrjd ɖer indivijuaḷti agn in a rsidñ multtyd ɖt wz swoloud p at last in a clǎd v dust.

“G on! G on!” craid ɖ vôsz. “We! We!”

Wn man’z handz prest on ɖ bac v anɖr. Mî bruɖr std at ɖ poni’z hed. Irizistbli atractd, h advanst slǒli, pes bî pes, dǎn ɖ len.

Éjwér hd bn a sīn v cnfyźn, Ćōc Farm a rayṭs tymult, bt ɖs wz a hol popyleśn in muvmnt. It z hard t imajn ɖt host. It hd no caṛctr v its ǒn. Ɖ figrz pord ǎt past ɖ cornr, n rsidd wɖ ɖer bacs t ɖ grūp in ɖ len. Alñ ɖ marjin cem ɖoz hu wr on ft ʈretnd bî ɖ ẃīlz, stumḅlñ in ɖ dićz, blunḍrñ intu wn anɖr.

Ɖ carts n caṛjz crǎdd clos upn wn anɖr, mcñ litl we fr ɖoz swiftr n mor impeśnt viyclz ɖt dartd fwd evri nǎ n ɖen ẃn an oṗtyṇti śoud itslf v dwñ so, sndñ ɖ ppl scaṭrñ agnst ɖ fnsz n gets v ɖ vilaz.

“Pś on!” wz ɖ crî. “Pś on! Ɖe r cmñ!”

In wn cart std a blînd man in ɖ yṇform v ɖ Salveśn Armi, jstikletñ wɖ hiz crŭcid fngrz n bȍlñ, “Itrṇti! Itrṇti!” Hiz vôs wz hōrs n vri lǎd so ɖt mî bruɖr cd hír him loñ aftr h wz lost t sît in ɖ dust. Sm v ɖ ppl hu crǎdd in ɖ carts ẃipt styṗdli at ɖer horsz n qoṛld wɖ uɖr drîvrz; sm sat mośnlis, stẹrñ at nʈñ wɖ mizṛbl îz; sm nwd ɖer handz wɖ ʈrst, or le prostret in ɖ botmz v ɖer cnveynsz. Ɖ horsz’ bits wr cuvrd wɖ fom, ɖer îz blud-śot.

Ɖr wr cabz, caṛjz, śopcarz, wagnz, bynd cǎntñ; a meilcart, a rodclīnr’z cart marct “Vstri v St. Pancṛs,” a hyj timbrwagn crǎdd wɖ rufs. A bruwr’z dre rumbld bî wɖ its tū nir ẃīlz splaśt wɖ freś blud.

“Clir ɖ we!” craid ɖ vôsz. “Clir ɖ we!”

“Itŕ-ṇti! Itŕ-ṇti!” cem ecowñ dǎn ɖ rod.

Ɖr wr sad, haġd wimin trampñ bî, wel drest, wɖ ćildṛn ɖt craid n stumbld, ɖer denti cloɖz smuɖrd in dust, ɖer wiri fesz smird wɖ tirz. Wɖ mni v ɖz cem men, smtmz hlpfl, smtmz lowrñ n savij. Fîtñ sîd bî sîd wɖ ɖm pśt sm wiri strīt-ǎtcast in fedd blac ragz, wîd-aid, lǎd-vôst, n fǎl-mǎɖd. Ɖr wr strdi wrcṃn ʈrustñ ɖer we alñ, rećid, uncmt men, cloɖd lîc clarcs or śopṃn, struġlñ spazmodicli; a wūndd soljr mî bruɖr notist, men drest in ɖ cloɖz v relwe-portrz, wn rećid crīćr in a nîtśrt wɖ a cot ʈroun ovr it.

Bt vẹrid az its compziśn wz, srtn ʈñz ol ɖt host hd in comn. Ɖr wr fir n pen on ɖer fesz, n fir bhnd ɖm. A tymult p ɖ rod, a qoṛl fr a ples in a wagn, snt ɖ hol host v ɖm qc̣nñ ɖer pes; īvn a man so scerd n brocn ɖt hiz niz bnt undr him wz galvnîzd fr a momnt intu rnyd activti. Ɖ hīt n dust hd olrdi bn at wrc upn ɖs multtyd. Ɖer scinz wr drî, ɖer lips blac n cract. Ɖe wr ol ʈrsti, wiri, n ftsor. N amd ɖ verịs crîz wn hŕd dspyts, rproćz, gronz v wirinis n ftīg; ɖ vôsz v most v ɖm wr hōrs n wìc. Ʈru it ol ran a rfren:

“We! We! Ɖ Marśnz r cmñ!”

Fy stopt n cem asd fṛm ɖt flud. Ɖ len opnd slantñli intu ɖ mn rod wɖ a naro oṗnñ, n hd a dlūsiv apiṛns v cmñ fṛm ɖ d’rex́n v Lundn. Yt a cnd v edi v ppl drouv intu its mǎʈ; wìclñz elboud ǎt v ɖ strīm, hu fr ɖ most part restd bt a momnt bfr plunjñ intu it agn. A litl we dǎn ɖ len, wɖ tū frendz bndñ ovr him, le a man wɖ a bér leg, rápt abt wɖ bludi ragz. H wz a luci man t hv frendz.

A litl old man, wɖ a gre militri mstaś n a filʈi blac froc̦ot, limt ǎt n sat dǎn bsd ɖ tráp, rmuvd hiz būt – hiz soc wz blud-stend – śc ǎt a pebl, n hobld on agn; n ɖen a litl grl v et or nîn, ol alon, ʈrù hrslf undr ɖ hej clos bî mî bruɖr, wīpñ.

“I c’nt g on! I c’nt g on!”

Mî bruɖr wouc fṛm hiz torpr v astoniśmnt n liftd hr p, spīcñ jntli t hr, n carid hr t Mis Elfinstn. So sn az mî bruɖr tućt hr ś bcem qt stil, az f frîtnd.

“Eḷn!” śrīct a wmn in ɖ crǎd, wɖ tirz in hr vôs – “Eḷn!” N ɖ ćîld sudnli dartd awe fṛm mî bruɖr, crayñ “Muɖr!”

“Ɖe r cmñ,” sd a man on horsbac, rîdñ past alñ ɖ len.

“Ǎt v ɖ we, ɖr!” bȍld a coćmn, tǎrñ hî; n mî bruɖr sw a clozd carij trnñ intu ɖ len.

Ɖ ppl cruśt bac on wn anɖr t avôd ɖ hors. Mî bruɖr pśt ɖ poni n śêz bac intu ɖ hej, n ɖ man drouv bî n stopt at ɖ trn v ɖ we. It wz a carij, wɖ a pol fr a per v horsz, bt onli wn wz in ɖ tresz. Mî bruɖr sw dimli ʈru ɖ dust ɖt tū men liftd ǎt smʈñ on a ẃît strećr n pt it jntli on ɖ gras bnʈ ɖ privithej.

Wn v ɖ men cem runñ t mî bruɖr.

“Ẃr z ɖr eni wōtr?” h sd. “H z dayñ fast, n vri ʈrsti. It z Lord Garic.”

“Lord Garic!” sd mî bruɖr; “ɖ Ćīf Justis?”

“Ɖ wōtr?” h sd.

“Ɖr me b a tap,” sd mî bruɖr, “in sm v ɖ hǎzz. W hv no wōtr. I der nt līv mî ppl.”

Ɖ man pśt agnst ɖ crǎd twdz ɖ get v ɖ cornr hǎs.

“G on!” sd ɖ ppl, ʈrustñ at him. “Ɖe r cmñ! G on!”

Ɖen mî bruɖr’z atnśn wz dstractd bî a birdd, īgl-fest man lugñ a smōl hanbag, ẃć split īvn az mî bruɖr’z îz restd on it n dsgorjd a mas v sovṛnz ɖt sīmd t brec p intu sepṛt cônz az it struc ɖ grǎnd. Ɖe rold hiɖr n ɖiɖr amñ ɖ struġlñ fīt v men n horsz. Ɖ man stopt n lct styṗdli at ɖ hīp, n ɖ śaft v a cab struc hiz śoldr n snt him rīlñ. H gev a śrīc n dojd bac, n a cartẃīl śevd him naroli.

“We!” craid ɖ men ol abt him. “Mc we!”

So sn az ɖ cab hd pást, h fluñ himslf, wɖ bʈ handz opn, upn ɖ hīp v cônz, n bgan ʈrustñ hanflz in hiz pocit. A hors rouz clos upn him, n in anɖr momnt, haf rîzñ, h hd bn bòrn dǎn undr ɖ hors’z hūfs.

“Stop!” scrīmd mî bruɖr, n pśñ a wmn ǎt v hiz we, traid t cluć ɖ bít v ɖ hors.

Bfr h cd gt t it, h hŕd a scrīm undr ɖ ẃīlz, n sw ʈru ɖ dust ɖ rim pasñ ovr ɖ pur reć’z bac. Ɖ drîvr v ɖ cart slaśt hiz ẃip at mî bruɖr, hu ran rnd bhnd ɖ cart. Ɖ multtydṇs śǎtñ cnfyzd hiz irz. Ɖ man wz rîɖñ in ɖ dust amñ hiz scatrd muni, unebl t rîz, fr ɖ ẃīl hd brocn hiz bac, n hiz lowr limz le limp n ded. Mî bruɖr std p n yeld at ɖ nxt drîvr, n a man on a blac hors cem t hiz asistns.

“Gt him ǎt v ɖ rod,” sd h; n, clućñ ɖ man’z colr wɖ hiz fri hand, mî bruɖr lugd him sîdwez. Bt h stl clućt aftr hiz muni, n rgardd mî bruɖr firsli, haṃrñ at hiz arm wɖ a hanfl v gold. “G on! G on!” śǎtd angri vôsz bhnd.

“We! We!”

Ɖr wz a smaś az ɖ pol v a carij craśt intu ɖ cart ɖt ɖ man on horsbac stopt. Mî bruɖr lct p, n ɖ man wɖ ɖ gold twistd hiz hed rnd n bit ɖ rist ɖt hld hiz colr. Ɖr wz a cncuśn, n ɖ blac hors cem staġrñ sîdwez, n ɖ carthors pśt bsd it. A hūf míst mî bruɖr’z ft bî a her’z bredʈ. H rlist hiz grip on ɖ fōḷn man n jumt bac. H sw angr ćenj t terr on ɖ fes v ɖ pur reć on ɖ grǎnd, n in a momnt h wz hidn n mî bruɖr wz bòrn bcwd n carid past ɖ entṛns v ɖ len, n hd t fît hard in ɖ toṛnt t rcuvr it.

H sw Mis Elfinstn cuṿrñ hr îz, n a litl ćîld, wɖ ol a ćîld’z wont v simṗʈetic imaɉneśn, stẹrñ wɖ dletd îz at a dusti smʈñ ɖt le blac n stil, grǎnd n cruśt undr ɖ rolñ ẃīlz. “Let s g bac!” h śǎtd, n bgan trnñ ɖ poni rnd. “W canot cros ɖs – hel,” h sd n ɖe wnt bac a hundṛd yardz ɖ we ɖe hd cm, untl ɖ fîtñ crǎd wz hidn. Az ɖe pást ɖ bnd in ɖ len mî bruɖr sw ɖ fes v ɖ dayñ man in ɖ dić undr ɖ privit, dedli ẃît n drwn, n śînñ wɖ prsṗreśn. Ɖ tū wimin sat sîḷnt, crǎćñ in ɖer sīt n śiṿrñ.

Ɖen bynd ɖ bnd mî bruɖr stopt agn. Mis Elfinstn wz ẃît n pel, n hr sistr-in-lw sat wīpñ, tù rećid īvn t cōl upn “Jorj.” Mî bruɖr wz hoṛfaid n pplext. So sn az ɖe hd rtritd h riylîzd hǎ rjnt n un’vôḍbl it wz t atmt ɖs crosñ. H trnd t Mis Elfinstn, sudnli reẓlut.

“W mst g ɖt we,” h sd, n léd ɖ poni rnd agn.

Fr ɖ secnd tîm ɖt de ɖs grl pruvd hr qoḷti. T fors ɖer we intu ɖ toṛnt v ppl, mî bruɖr plunjd intu ɖ trafic n hld bac a cabhors, ẃl ś drouv ɖ poni acrs its hed. A wagn loct ẃīlz fr a momnt n ript a loñ splintr fṛm ɖ śêz. In anɖr momnt ɖe wr còt n swept fwd bî ɖ strīm. Mî bruɖr, wɖ ɖ cabmn’z ẃip marcs red acrs hiz fes n handz, scrambld intu ɖ śêz n tc ɖ reinz fṛm hr.

“Pônt ɖ rvolvr at ɖ man bhnd,” h sd, gvñ it t hr, “f h presz s tù hard. No! – pônt it at hiz hors.”

Ɖen h bgan t lc ǎt fr a ćans v éjñ t ɖ rît acrs ɖ rod. Bt wns in ɖ strīm h sīmd t lūz vliśn, t bcm a part v ɖt dusti rǎt. Ɖe swept ʈru Ćipñ Barnit wɖ ɖ toṛnt; ɖe wr nirli a mîl bynd ɖ sntr v ɖ tǎn bfr ɖe hd fòt acrs t ɖ oṗzit sîd v ɖ we. It wz din n cnfyźn indiscrîbbl; bt in n bynd ɖ tǎn ɖ rod forcs rpitdli, n ɖs t sm xtnt rlivd ɖ stres.

Ɖe struc īstẉd ʈru Hadli, n ɖr on îɖr sîd v ɖ rod, n at anɖr ples farɖr on ɖe cem upn a gret multtyd v ppl drincñ at ɖ strīm, sm fîtñ t cm at ɖ wōtr. N farɖr on, fṛm a lul nir Īst Barnit, ɖe sw tū trenz runñ slǒli wn aftr ɖ uɖr wɖt signl or ordr – trenz swormñ wɖ ppl, wɖ men īvn amñ ɖ colz bhnd ɖ enjinz – gwñ norʈẉd alñ ɖ Gret Norɖn Relwe. Mî bruɖr s’pozz ɖe mst hv fild ǎtsd Lundn, fr at ɖt tîm ɖ fyrịs terr v ɖ ppl hd rendrd ɖ sntṛl trṃnî imposbl.

Nir ɖs ples ɖe hōltd fr ɖ rest v ɖ afṭnun, fr ɖ vayḷns v ɖ de hd olrdi utrli xōstd ol ʈri v ɖm. Ɖe bgan t sufr ɖ bginñz v hungr; ɖ nît wz cold, n nn v ɖm derd t slīp. N in ɖ īvnñ mni ppl cem huriyñ alñ ɖ rod nirbî ɖer stopñples, fliyñ fṛm uņoun denjrz bfr ɖm, n gwñ in ɖ d’rex́n fṛm ẃć mî bruɖr hd cm.

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ĆAPTR SEVNTĪN

Ɖ “ƮUNDR ĆÎLD”

H

d ɖ Marśnz emd onli at dstrux́n, ɖe mt on Munde hv anayletd ɖ intîr popyleśn v Lundn, az it spred itslf slǒli ʈru ɖ homcǎntiz. Nt onli alñ ɖ rod ʈru Barnit, bt olso ʈru Éjwér n Wōlʈm Abi, n alñ ɖ rodz īstẉd t Sǎʈend n Śūḅrines, n sǎʈ v ɖ Tmz t Dīl n Brōdsterz, pord ɖ sem frantic rǎt. F wn cd hv huñ ɖt Jūn mornñ in a b’lūn in ɖ blezñ blu abv Lundn evri norʈẉd n īstẉd rod runñ ǎt v ɖ tangld mêz v strīts wd hv sīmd stipld blac wɖ ɖ strīmñ fyɉtvz, ć dot a hymn aġni v terr n fizicl dstres. I hv set fʈ at leñʈ in ɖ last ćaptr mî bruɖr’z acǎnt v ɖ rod ʈru Ćipñ Barnit, in ordr ɖt mî rīdrz me riylîz hǎ ɖt swormñ v blac dots apird t wn v ɖoz cnsrnd. Nvr bfr in ɖ hisṭri v ɖ wrld hd sć a mas v hymn biyñz muvd n sufrd tgɖr. Ɖ lejnḍri hosts v Goʈs n Hunz, ɖ hyjist armiz Eźa hz evr sìn, wd hv bn bt a drop in ɖt cuṛnt. N ɖs wz no diṣplind marć; it wz a stampīd – a stampīd jîgantic n teṛbl – wɖt ordr n wɖt a gol, six miłn ppl unarmd n unpṛviźnd, drîvñ hedloñ. It wz ɖ bginñ v ɖ rǎt v siṿlîześn, v ɖ maṣcr v man-cnd.

D’recli b’lo him ɖ b’lūnist wd hv sìn ɖ netwrc v strīts far n wîd, hǎzz, ćrćz, sqerz, cresnts, gardnz – olrdi deṛlict – spred ǎt lîc a hyj map, n in ɖ sǎʈẉd blotd. Ovr Īlñ, Rićmnd, Wimbldn, it wd hv sīmd az f sm monstṛs pén hd fluñ ñc upn ɖ ćart. Steḍli, insesntli, ć blac splaś grù n spred, śūtñ ǎt ramif̣ceśnz ɖs we n ɖt, nǎ bancñ itslf agnst rîzñ grǎnd, nǎ porñ swiftli ovr a crest intu a ny-faund vali, xacli az a gǎt v ñc wd spred itslf upn blotñpepr.

N bynd, ovr ɖ blu hilz ɖt rîz sǎʈẉd v ɖ rivr, ɖ gliṭrñ Marśnz wnt t n fro, cāmli n mʈodicli spredñ ɖer pôznclǎd ovr ɖs pać v cuntri n ɖen ovr ɖt, leyñ it agn wɖ ɖer stīmjets ẃn it hd srvd its prṗs, n tecñ pześn v ɖ concrd cuntri. Ɖe d nt sīm t hv emd at xtrṃneśn so mć az at cmplit dmoṛlîześn n ɖ dstrux́n v eni opziśn. Ɖe xplodd eni storz v pǎdr ɖe cem upn, cut evri teḷgraf, n rect ɖ relwez hir n ɖr. Ɖe wr hamstrññ man-cnd. Ɖe sīmd in no huri t xtnd ɖ fīld v ɖer oṗreśnz, n dd nt cm bynd ɖ sntṛl part v Lundn ol ɖt de. It z poṣbl ɖt a vri cnsidṛbl numbr v ppl in Lundn stuc t ɖer hǎzz ʈru Munde mornñ. Srtn it z ɖt mni daid at hom suf̣cetd bî ɖ Blac Smoc.

Untl abt miḑe ɖ Pūl v Lundn wz an astoṇśñ sīn. Stīmbots n śipñ v ol sorts le ɖr, tmtd bî ɖ inorṃs sumz v muni ofrd bî fyɉtvz, n it z sd ɖt mni hu swam ǎt t ɖz veslz wr ʈrust of wɖ bot-hcs n drǎnd. Abt wn o’cloc in ɖ afṭnun ɖ ʈinñ remnnt v a clǎd v ɖ blac vepr apird btwn ɖ arćz v Blacfrîrz Brij. At ɖt ɖ Pūl bcem a sīn v mad cnfyźn, fîtñ, n c’liźn, n fr sm tîm a multtyd v bots n barjz jamd in ɖ norɖn arć v ɖ Tǎr Brij, n ɖ sêlrz n lîtrṃn hd t fît saṿjli agnst ɖ ppl hu swormd upn ɖm fṛm ɖ rivrfrunt. Ppl wr acćli clamḅrñ dǎn ɖ pírz v ɖ brij fṛm abv.

Ẃn, an aur lêtr, a Marśn apird bynd ɖ Cloctǎr n wêdd dǎn ɖ rivr, nʈñ bt recij flotd abv Lîmhǎs.

V ɖ fōlñ v ɖ fifʈ silindr I hv prezntli t tel. Ɖ sixʈ star fél at Wimbldn. Mî bruɖr, cīpñ woć bsd ɖ wimin in ɖ śêz in a medo, sw ɖ grīn flaś v it far bynd ɖ hilz. On Tyzde ɖ litl parti, stl set upn gtñ acrs ɖ sì, md its we ʈru ɖ swormñ cuntri twdz Colćestr. Ɖ nyz ɖt ɖ Marśnz wr nǎ in pześn v ɖ hol v Lundn wz cnfrmd. Ɖe hd bn sìn at Hîget, n īvn, it wz sd, at Nīzdn. Bt ɖe dd nt cm intu mî bruɖr’z vy untl ɖ moro.

Ɖt de ɖ scatrd multtydz bgan t riylîz ɖ rjnt nīd v pṛviźnz. Az ɖe grù hungri ɖ rîts v proṗti sīst t b rgardd. Farmrz wr ǎt t dfnd ɖer catlśedz, graṇriz, n rîṗnñ rūtcrops wɖ armz in ɖer handz. A numbr v ppl nǎ, lîc mî bruɖr, hd ɖer fesz īstẉd, n ɖr wr sm despṛt soulz īvn gwñ bac twdz Lundn t gt fūd. Ɖz wr ćīfli ppl fṛm ɖ norɖn subrbz, huz nolij v ɖ Blac Smoc cem bî hírse. H hŕd ɖt abt haf ɖ membrz v ɖ guvnmnt hd gaɖrd at Brmñm, n ɖt inorṃs qonttiz v hî xplosivz wr biyñ priperd t b yzd in ōṭmatic mînz acrs ɖ Midḷnd cǎntiz.

H wz olso tld ɖt ɖ Midḷnd Relwe Cumṗni hd rplest ɖ dzrśnz v ɖ frst de’z panic, hd rzymd trafic, n wz runñ norʈẉd trenz fṛm St. Olbnz t rliv ɖ cnjsćn v ɖ homcǎntiz. Ɖr wz olso a placard in Ćipñ Ongr anǎnsñ ɖt larj storz v flaur wr aveḷbl in ɖ norɖn tǎnz n ɖt wɖn twenti-for aurz bred wd b dstribytd amñ ɖ starvñ ppl in ɖ nebrhd. Bt ɖs intelijns dd nt dtŕ him fṛm ɖ plan v iscep h hd formd, n ɖ ʈri prest īstẉd ol de, n hŕd no mor v ɖ bred distṛbyśn ɖn ɖs promis. Nr, az a matr v fact, dd enwn els hír mor v it. Ɖt nît fél ɖ sevnʈ star, fōlñ upn Primroz Hil. It fél ẃl Mis Elfinstn wz woćñ, fr ś tc ɖt dyti oltrṇtli wɖ mî bruɖr. Ś sw it.

On Wenzde ɖ ʈri fyɉtivz – ɖe hd pást ɖ nît in a fīld v unrîp ẃīt – rīćt Ćlmzf̣d, n ɖr a bodi v ɖ inhabitnts, cōlñ itslf ɖ Cmiti v Public S’plî, sizd ɖ poni az pṛviźnz, n wd gv nʈñ in xćenj fr it bt ɖ promis v a śer in it ɖ nxt de. Hir ɖr wr rūmrz v Marśnz at Epñ, n nyz v ɖ dstrux́n v Wōlʈm Abi Pǎdr Milz in a ven atmt t blo p wn v ɖ invedrz.

Ppl wr woćñ fr Marśnz hir fṛm ɖ ćrćtǎrz. Mî bruɖr, vri luc̣li fr him az it ćanst, prifŕd t pś on at wns t ɖ cǒst rɖr ɖn wêt fr fūd, olɖo ol ʈri v ɖm wr vri hungri. Bî miḑe ɖe pást ʈru Tilñm, ẃć, strenjli inuf, sīmd t b qt sîḷnt n dzrtd, sev fr a fy frtiv plundrrz huntñ fr fūd. Nir Tilñm ɖe sudnli cem in sît v ɖ sì, n ɖ most amezñ crǎd v śipñ v ol sorts ɖt it z poṣbl t imajn.

Fr aftr ɖ sêlrz cd no longr cm p ɖ Tmz, ɖe cem on t ɖ Esix cǒst, t Harić n Wōltn n Clactn, n aftwdz t Fǎlnes n Śūḅri, t brñ of ɖ ppl. Ɖe le in a hyj sicl-śept crv ɖt vaniśt intu mist at last twdz ɖ Nêz. Clos inśor wz a multtyd v fiśñsmacs – Ñgliś, Scoć, Frenć, Duć, n Swīdiś; stīmlōnćz fṛm ɖ Tmz, yots, ilectric bots; n bynd wr śips v larj brdn, a multtyd v filʈi cołrz, trim mrćntṃn, catlśips, pasnjrbots, ptrołmtancs, ośntramps, an old ẃît transport īvn, nīt ẃît n gre lînrz fṛm Sǎʈamtn n Hambrg; n alñ ɖ blu cǒst acrs ɖ Blacwōtr mî bruɖr cd mc ǎt dimli a dns sworm v bots ćef̣rñ wɖ ɖ ppl on ɖ bīć, a sworm ẃć olso xtndd p ɖ Blacwōtr olmst t Mōldn.

Abt a cupl v mîlz ǎt le an aynclad, vri lo in ɖ wōtr, olmst, t mî bruɖr’z pspśn, lîc a wōtr-logd śip. Ɖs wz ɖ ram Ʈundr Ćîld. It wz ɖ onli worśip in sît, bt far awe t ɖ rît ovr ɖ smuɖ srfis v ɖ sì – fr ɖt de ɖr wz a ded cām – le a srpnt v blac smoc t marc ɖ nxt ayncladz v ɖ Ćanl Flīt, ẃć hovrd in an xtndd lîn, stīm p n redi fr ax́n, acrs ɖ Tmz esć̣ri jrñ ɖ cors v ɖ Marśn conqest, vijiḷnt n yt pǎrlis t privnt it.

At ɖ sît v ɖ sì, Msz Elfinstn, in spît v ɖ aśuṛnsz v hr sistr-in-lw, gev we t panic. Ś hd nvr bn ǎt v Ñgḷnd bfr, ś wd rɖr dî ɖn trust hrslf frendlis in a foṛn cuntri, n so fʈ. Ś sīmd, pur wmn, t imajn ɖt ɖ Frenć n ɖ Marśnz mt pruv vri similr. Ś hd bn growñ incrisñli histericl, firfl, n dprest jrñ ɖ tū dez’ jrniyñz. Hr gret îdīa wz t rtrn t Stanmor. Ʈñz hd bn olwz wel n sef at Stanmor. Ɖe wd fînd Jorj at Stanmor.

It wz wɖ ɖ gretist dificlti ɖe cd gt hr dǎn t ɖ bīć, ẃr prezntli mî bruɖr s’xidd in atractñ ɖ atnśn v sm men on a padlstīmr fṛm ɖ Tmz. Ɖe snt a bot n drouv a bargin fr ʈrti-six pǎndz fr ɖ ʈri. Ɖ stīmr wz gwñ, ɖz men sd, t Ostend.

It wz abt tū o’cloc ẃn mî bruɖr, hvñ peid ɖer férz at ɖ gañwe, faund himslf sefli abord ɖ stīmbot wɖ hiz ćarjz. Ɖr wz fūd abord, olbiit at xorbtnt prîsz, n ɖ ʈri v ɖm cntrîvd t īt a mīl on wn v ɖ sīts fwd.

Ɖr wr olrdi a cupl v scor v pasnjrz abord, sm v hūm hd xpndd ɖer last muni in s’krñ a pasij, bt ɖ captin le of ɖ Blacwōtr untl fîv in ɖ afṭnun, picñ p pasnjrz untl ɖ sītd decs wr īvn denjṛsli crǎdd. H wd probbli hv rmend longr hd it nt bn fr ɖ sǎnd v gunz ɖt bgan abt ɖt aur in ɖ sǎʈ. Az f in ansr, ɖ aynclad sìẉd fîrd a smōl gun n hôstd a strñ v flagz. A jet v smoc sprañ ǎt v hr funlz.

Sm v ɖ pasnjrz wr v opińn ɖt ɖs fîrñ cem fṛm Śūḅrines, untl it wz notist ɖt it wz growñ lǎdr. At ɖ sem tîm, far awe in ɖ sǎʈīst ɖ māsts n uṗwrcs v ʈri ayncladz rouz wn aftr ɖ uɖr ǎt v ɖ sì, bnʈ clǎdz v blac smoc. Bt mî bruɖr’z atnśn spīḍli rvrtd t ɖ distnt fîrñ in ɖ sǎʈ. H fansid h sw a coḷm v smoc rîzñ ǎt v ɖ distnt gre hêz.

Ɖ litl stīmr wz olrdi flapñ hr we īstẉd v ɖ big cresnt v śipñ, n ɖ lo Esix cǒst wz growñ blu n hezi, ẃn a Marśn apird, smōl n fent in ɖ rmot distns, advansñ alñ ɖ mudi cǒst fṛm ɖ d’rex́n v Fǎlnes. At ɖt ɖ captin on ɖ brij swòr at ɖ top v hiz vôs wɖ fir n angr at hiz ǒn dle, n ɖ padlz sīmd infctd wɖ hiz terr. Evri soul abord std at ɖ bŭlẉcs or on ɖ sīts v ɖ stīmr n stérd at ɖt distnt śep, hayr ɖn ɖ triz or ćrćtǎrz inḷnd, n advansñ wɖ a leźrli paṛdi v a hymn strîd.

It wz ɖ frst Marśn mî bruɖr hd sìn, n h std, mor amezd ɖn teṛfaid, woćñ ɖs Tîtn advansñ dlibṛtli twdz ɖ śipñ, wêdñ farɖr n farɖr intu ɖ wōtr az ɖ cǒst fél awe. Ɖen, far awe bynd ɖ Crǎć, cem anɖr, strîdñ ovr sm stuntd triz, n ɖen yt anɖr, stl farɖr of, wêdñ dīpli ʈru a śîni mudflat ɖt sīmd t hañ hafwe p btwn sì n scî. Ɖe wr ol stōcñ sìẉd, az f t inṭspt ɖ iscep v ɖ multtydṇs veslz ɖt wr crǎdd btwn Fǎlnes n ɖ Nêz. In spît v ɖ ʈrobñ xrśnz v ɖ enjinz v ɖ litl padlbot, n ɖ porñ fom ɖt hr ẃīlz fluñ bhnd hr, ś rsidd wɖ teṛfayñ slǒnis fṛm ɖs omiṇs advans.

Glansñ norʈ-wstẉd, mî bruɖr sw ɖ larj cresnt v śipñ olrdi rîɖñ wɖ ɖ aproćñ terr; wn śip pasñ bhnd anɖr, anɖr cmñ rnd fṛm brōdsîd t end on, stīmśips ẃiṣlñ n gvñ of volymz v stīm, sêlz biyñ let ǎt, lōnćz ruśñ hiɖr n ɖiɖr. H wz so faṣnetd bî ɖs n bî ɖ crīpñ denjr awe t ɖ left ɖt h hd no îz fr enʈñ sìẉd. N ɖen a swift muvmnt v ɖ stīmbot (ś hd sudnli cm rnd t avôd biyñ run dǎn) fluñ him hedloñ fṛm ɖ sīt upn ẃć h wz standñ. Ɖr wz a śǎtñ ol abt him, a tramṗlñ v fīt, n a ćir ɖt sīmd t b ansrd fentli. Ɖ stīmbot lrćt n rold him ovr upn hiz handz.

H sprañ t hiz fīt n sw t starḅd, n nt a hundṛd yardz fṛm ɖer hìlñ, pićñ bot, a vast ayn bulc lîc ɖ bled v a plǎ tẹrñ ʈru ɖ wōtr, tosñ it on îɖr sîd in hyj wevz v fom ɖt lept twdz ɖ stīmr, flññ hr padlz hlplisli in ɖ er, n ɖen sucñ hr dec dǎn olmst t ɖ wōtrlîn.

A dūś v spre blîndd mî bruɖr fr a momnt. Ẃn hiz îz wr clir agn h sw ɖ monstr hd pást n wz ruśñ landẉd. Big ayn uṗwrcs rouz ǎt v ɖs hedloñ strucćr, n fṛm ɖt twin funlz pṛjctd n spat a smocñ blast śot wɖ fîr. It wz ɖ torpīdoram, Ʈundr Ćîld, stīmñ hedloñ, cmñ t ɖ rescy v ɖ ʈretnd śipñ.

Cīpñ hiz ftñ on ɖ hīvñ dec bî clućñ ɖ bŭlẉcs, mî bruɖr lct past ɖs ćarjñ l’vayʈn at ɖ Marśnz agn, n h sw ɖ ʈri v ɖm nǎ clos tgɖr, n standñ so far ǎt t sì ɖt ɖer trîpod s’ports wr olmst intîrli sbmrjd. Ɖus suncn, n sìn in rmot pspctiv, ɖe apird far les formiḍbl ɖn ɖ hyj ayn bulc in huz wec ɖ stīmr wz pićñ so hlplisli. It wd sīm ɖe wr rgardñ ɖs ny antaġnist wɖ astoniśmnt. T ɖer intelijns, it me b, ɖ jaynt wz īvn sć anɖr az ɖmslvz. Ɖ Ʈundr Ćîld fîrd no gun, bt simpli drouv fl spīd twdz ɖm. It wz probbli hr nt fîrñ ɖt inebld hr t gt so nir ɖ eṇmi az ś dd. Ɖe dd nt nǒ ẃt t mc v hr. Wn śel, n ɖe wd hv snt hr t ɖ botm fʈwʈ wɖ ɖ Hītre.

Ś wz stīmñ at sć a pes ɖt in a minit ś sīmd hafwe btwn ɖ stīmbot n ɖ Marśnz – a dmiṇśñ blac bulc agnst ɖ rsidñ hoṛzontl xpans v ɖ Esix cǒst.

Sudnli ɖ fōrmost Marśn lowrd hiz tyb n dsćarjd a canistr v ɖ blac gas at ɖ aynclad. It hit hr larḅd sîd n glanst of in an ñci jet ɖt rold awe t sìẉd, an unfoldñ toṛnt v Blac Smoc, fṛm ẃć ɖ aynclad drouv clir. T ɖ woćrz fṛm ɖ stīmr, lo in ɖ wōtr n wɖ ɖ sún in ɖer îz, it sīmd az ɖo ś wr olrdi amñ ɖ Marśnz.

Ɖe sw ɖ gōnt figrz seṗretñ n rîzñ ǎt v ɖ wōtr az ɖe rtritd śorẉd, n wn v ɖm rezd ɖ camṛlîc jeṇretr v ɖ Hītre. H hld it pôntñ oblicli dǎnẉd, n a banc v stīm sprañ fṛm ɖ wōtr at its tuć. It mst hv drivn ʈru ɖ ayn v ɖ śip’s sîd lîc a ẃît-hot ayn ród ʈru pepr.

A flicr v flem wnt p ʈru ɖ rîzñ stīm, n ɖen ɖ Marśn rīld n stagrd. In anɖr momnt h wz cut dǎn, n a gret bodi v wōtr n stīm śot hî in ɖ er. Ɖ gunz v ɖ Thunder Ćîld sǎndd ʈru ɖ rìc, gwñ of wn aftr ɖ uɖr, n wn śot splaśt ɖ wōtr hî clos bî ɖ stīmr, ric̣śeid twdz ɖ uɖr flayñ śips t ɖ norʈ, n smaśt a smac t maćwŭd.

Bt nwn hīdd ɖt vri mć. At ɖ sît v ɖ Marśn’z c’laps ɖ captin on ɖ brij yeld inartikḷtli, n ol ɖ crǎdñ pasnjrz on ɖ stīmr’z strn śǎtd tgɖr. N ɖen ɖe yeld agn. Fr, srjñ ǎt bynd ɖ ẃît tymult, drouv smʈñ loñ n blac, ɖ flemz strīmñ fṛm its midl parts, its vnṭletrz n funlz spǎtñ fîr.

Ś wz alîv stl; ɖ stirñgir, it sīmz, wz intact n hr enjinz wrcñ. Ś hedd stret fr a secnd Marśn, n wz wɖn a hundṛd yardz v him ẃn ɖ Hītre cem t ber. Ɖen wɖ a vayḷnt ʈud, a blîndñ flaś, hr decs, hr funlz, lept upwd. Ɖ Marśn stagrd wɖ ɖ vayḷns v hr xploźn, n in anɖr momnt ɖ flemñ recij, stl drîvñ fwd wɖ ɖ impṭs v its pes, hd struc him n crumpld him p lîc a ʈñ v cardbord. Mî bruɖr śǎtd invoḷntṛli. A bôlñ tymult v stīm hid evrʈñ agn.

“Tū!” yeld ɖ captin.

Evrwn wz śǎtñ. Ɖ hol stīmr fṛm end t end rañ wɖ frantic ćirñ ɖt wz tecn p frst bî wn n ɖen bî ol in ɖ crǎdñ multtyd v śips n bots ɖt wz drîvñ ǎt t sì.

Ɖ stīm huñ upn ɖ wōtr fr mni minits, hîdñ ɖ ʈrd Marśn n ɖ cǒst oltgɖr. N ol ɖs tîm ɖ bot wz paḍlñ steḍli ǎt t sì n awe fṛm ɖ fît; n ẃn at last ɖ cnfyźn clird, ɖ driftñ banc v blac vepr inṭvind, n nʈñ v ɖ Ʈundr Ćîld cd b md ǎt, nr cd ɖ ʈrd Marśn b sìn. Bt ɖ ayncladz t sìẉd wr nǎ qt clos n standñ in twdz śor past ɖ stīmbot.

Ɖ litl vesl cntinyd t bìt its we sìẉd, n ɖ ayncladz rsidd slǒli twdz ɖ cǒst, ẃć wz hidn stl bî a marbld banc v vepr, part stīm, part blac gas, ediyñ n cmbînñ in ɖ strenjist we. Ɖ flīt v refyjīz wz scaṭrñ t ɖ norʈīst; sevṛl smacs wr sêlñ btwn ɖ ayncladz n ɖ stīmbot. Aftr a tîm, n bfr ɖe rīćt ɖ sncñ clǎd banc, ɖ worśips trnd norʈẉd, n ɖen abrupli wnt abt n pást intu ɖ ʈic̣nñ hêz v īvnñ sǎʈẉd. Ɖ cǒst grù fent, n at last indistnḡśbl amd ɖ lo bancs v clǎdz ɖt wr gaɖ̇rñ abt ɖ sncñ sún.

Ɖen sudnli ǎt v ɖ goldn hêz v ɖ súnset cem ɖ vîbreśn v gunz, n a form v blac śadoz muvñ. Evrwn strugld t ɖ rel v ɖ stīmr n pīrd intu ɖ blîndñ frnis v ɖ wst, bt nʈñ wz t b dstnḡśt clirli. A mas v smoc rouz slantñ n bàrd ɖ fes v ɖ sún. Ɖ stīmbot ʈrobd on its we ʈru an intrmiṇbl sspns.

Ɖ sún sanc intu gre clǎdz, ɖ scî fluśt n darcnd, ɖ īvnñstar trembld intu sît. It wz dīp twîlît ẃn ɖ captin craid ǎt n pôntd. Mî bruɖr strend hiz îz. Smʈñ ruśt p intu ɖ scî ǎt v ɖ grênis – ruśt slantñli upwd n vri swiftli intu ɖ lūmiṇs clirnis abv ɖ clǎdz in ɖ wstn scî; smʈñ flat n brōd, n vri larj, ɖt swept rnd in a vast crv, grù smōlr, sanc slǒli, n vaniśt agn intu ɖ gre misṭri v ɖ nît. N az it flù it rênd dǎn darcnis upn ɖ land.

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