The electric guns were installed, ready to be run out of the openings of the living-room to repel any attack of the Martians, and then the ports were closed tightly. Finishing touches were being put on the Annihilator, and Mr. Henderson and his German friend were kept very busy.
Their prodigious bounds and the shrill, screeching purr of their uncanny mouths were well calculated to confuse and terrorize their prey, so that as two of them leaped simultaneously from either side, the mighty sweep of those awful tails met with no resistance and two more green Martians went down to an ignoble death.
These are then placed in the almost air-tight incubators to be hatched by the sun's rays after a period of another five years. The hatching which we had witnessed today was a fairly representative event of its kind, all but about one per cent of the eggs hatching in two days. If the remaining eggs ever hatched we knew nothing of the fate of the little Martians.
The Martians seemed expert upon the water, steering nimbly between these floating dangers when they met them, but for the most part hugging the shore where a more placid stream better suited their fancies, and for a time all went well. An, as we went along, was telling me more of her strange country, pointing out birds or flowers and naming them to me.
And, all unsuspected, those missiles the Martians had fired at us drew earthward, rushing now at a pace of many miles a second through the empty gulf of space, hour by hour and day by day, nearer and nearer. It seems to me now almost incredibly wonderful that, with that swift fate hanging over us, men could go about their petty concerns as they did.
But the latter are infrequent. The canals are numerous, especially about Scandor, and the great trunk canals are broad avenues of traffic. "The intense swift motion of the Martians meets their needs in most cases. Where hard labor on a mammoth scale is necessary, the little race of prehistorics serves all their purposes.
The Martians immediately replied to this renewed attack, and again the cloud-covered globe bristled with lightning, which flashed so fiercely out of the blackness below that the stoutest hearts among us quailed, although we were situated well beyond the danger.
By hiding behind Deimos we should escape the prying eyes of the Martians, even when they employed telescopes, and thus be able to remain comparatively close at hand, ready to pounce down upon them again, after we had obtained, as we now had good hope of doing, information that would make us masters of the situation. Deimos proved to be, as we had expected, about six miles in diameter.
"The crisis is almost upon us! The Martians are coming!" Cubes of Chaos Sarka raced into the Observatory, wondering as he ran how the attack of the Martians would manifest itself; but scarcely prepared for the brilliant display which greeted his gaze. Compared to the oncoming flames from Mars, the preceding display of lights had been as nothing.
I think we have arrived at a means of communicating with the Martians, at least until we have learned their language." The Martian with the triangle and squares on his circlet of gold appeared to be a grade higher in authority than the one with the simple triangle. He now addressed the travelers, but they could not understand him.