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The war of the Wenuses (1898)

by H.G. Pozzuoli

author of The treadmill, The isthmus of Mr. Day,
The vanishing lady, etc., etc.

translated from the Artesian by C.L. Graves (1856-1944)
and E.V. Lucas (1868-1938)

     To H.G. Wells, this outrage on a fascinating and
     convincing romance...


Book I. — The Coming of the Wenuses.

  I.  "Just before the battle, Mother"
 II.  The falling star
III.  The Crinoline expands
 IV.  How I reached home

Book II. — London under the Wenuses.

  I.  The death of the examiner
 II.  The man at Uxbridge Road
III.  The tea-tray in Westbourne Grove
 IV.  Wreckage
  V.  Bubbles

      Appendix A
      Appendix B

                   BOOK I.

          The Coming of the Wenuses



NO one would have believed in the first years of the
twentieth century that men and modistes on this planet were
being watched by intelligences greater than woman's and yet
as ambitious as her own.  With infinite complacency maids and
matrons went to and fro over London, serene in the assurance
of their empire over man.  It is possible that the mysticetus
does the same.  Not one of them gave a thought to Wenus as a
source of danger, or thought of it only to dismiss the idea
of active rivalry upon it as impossible or improbable.  Yet
across the gulf of space astral women, with eyes that are to
the eyes of English women as diamonds are to boot-buttons,
astral women, with hearts vast and warm and sympathetic,
were regarding Butterick's with envy, Peter Robinson's with
jealousy, and Whiteley's with insatiable yearning, and
slowly and surely maturing their plans for a grand
interstellar campaign.

  The pale pink planet Wenus, as I need hardly inform the
sober reader, revolves round the sun at a mean distance of 
"X" vermillion miles.  More than that, as has been proved by
recent observations of Puits of Paris, its orbit is steadily
but surely advancing sunward.  That is to say, it is rapidly
becoming too hot for clothes to be worn at all; and this, to
the Wenuses, was so alarming a prospect that the immediate
problem of life became the discovery of new quarters notable
for a gentler climate and more copious fashions.  The last
stage of struggle-for-dress, which is to us still remote,
had embellished their charms, heightened their heels and
enlarged their hearts.  Moreover, the population of Wenus
consisted exclusively of Invisible Men — and the Wenuses were
about tired of it.  Let us, however, not judge them too
harshly.  Remember what ruthless havoc our own species has
wrought, not only on animals such as the Moa and the Maori,
but upon its own inferior races such as the Wanishing Lady
and the Dodo Bensonii.  

  The Wenuses seem to have calculated their descent with
quite un-feminine accuracy.  Had our instruments permitted
it, we might have witnessed their preparations.  Similarly
pigs, had they wings, might fly.  Men like Quellen of Dresden
watched the pale pink planet — it is odd, by the way, that
for countless centuries Wenus has been the star of Eve — 
evening by evening growing alternately paler and pinker than
a literary agent, but failed to interpret the extraordinary
phenomena, resembling a series of powder puffs, which he
observed issuing from the cardiac penumbra on the night of
April 1st, 1902.  At the same time a great light was remarked
by Idos of Yokohama and Pegadiadis of Athens.  

  The storm burst upon us six weeks later, about the time of
the summer sales.  As Wenus approached opposition, Dr.  Jelli
of Guava set the wires of the astronomical exchange
palpitating with the intelligence of a huge explosion of
laughing-gas moving risibly towards the earth.  He compared it
to a colossal cosmic cachinnation.  And, in the light of
subsequent events, the justice of the comparison will
commend itself to all but the most sober readers.

  Had it not been for my chance meeting with Swears, the
eminent astronomer and objurgationist, this book would never
have been written.  He asked me down to our basement, which
he rents from me as an observatory, and in spite of all that
has happened since I still remember our wigil very
distinctly.  (I spell it with a "w" from an inordinate
affection for that letter.) Swears moved about, invisible
but painfully audible to my naked ear.  The night was very
warm, and I was very thirsty.  As I gazed through the syphon,
the little star seemed alternately to expand and contract,
and finally to assume a sort of dual skirt, but that was
simply because my eye was tired.  I remember how I sat under
the table with patches of green and crimson swimming before
my eyes.  Grotesque and foolish as this may seem to the sober
reader, it is absolutely true.  

  Swears watched till one, and then he gave it up.  He was
full of speculations about the condition of Wenus.  Swears'
language was extremely sultry.    

  "The chances against anything ladylike on Wenus," he said,
"are a million to one." 

  Even Pearson's Weekly woke up to the disturbance at
last, and Mrs.  Lynn Linton contributed an article entitled
"What Women Might Do" to the Queen.  A paper called
Punch, if I remember the name aright, made a pun on the
subject, which was partially intelligible with the aid of
italics and the laryngoscope.  For my own part, I was too
much occupied in teaching my wife to ride a Bantam, and too
busy upon a series of papers in Nature on the turpitude of
the classical professoriate of the University of London, to
give my undivided attention to the impending disaster.  I
cannot divide things easily; I am an indivisible man.  But
one night I went for a bicycle ride with my wife.  She was a
Bantam of delight, I can tell you, but she rode very badly.
It was starlight, and I was attempting to explain the joke
in the paper called, if I recollect aright, Punch.  It was
an extraordinarily sultry night, and I told her the names of
all the stars she saw as she fell off her machine.  She had a
good bulk of falls.  There were lights in the upper windows
of the houses as the people went to bed.  Grotesque and
foolish as this will seem to the sober reader, it is
absolutely true.  Coming home, a party of bean-feasters from
Wimbledon, Wormwood Scrubs, or Woking passed us, singing and
playing concertinas.  It all seemed so safe and tranquil.  But
the Wenuses were even then on their milky way.  


              THE FALLING STAR

THEN came the night of the first star.  

  It was seen early in the morning rushing over Winchester;
leaving a gentle frou-frou behind it.  Trelawney, of the
Wells' Observatory, the greatest authority on Meteoric
Crinolines, watched it anxiously.  Winymann, the publisher,
who sprang to fame by the publication of The War of the
Worlds, saw it from his office window, and at once
telegraphed to me: "Materials for new book in the air." 
That was the first hint I received of the wonderful wisit.  
  I lived in those days at 181a Campden Hill Gardens.  It is
the house opposite the third lamp-post on the right as you
walk east.  It was of brick and slate, with a party-wall, and
two spikes were wanting to the iron railings.  When the
telegram came I was sitting in my study writing a discussion
on the atomic theory of Krelli of Balmoral.  I at once
changed the Woking jacket in which I was writing for evening
dress — which wanted, I remember, a button — and hastened to
the Park.  I did not tell my wife anything about it.  I did
not care to have her with me.  In all such adventures I find
her more useful as a sentimental figure in the background — 
I, of course, allow no sentiment in the foreground — than an
active participant.
  On the way I met Swears, returning from breakfast with our
mutual friend Professor Heat Ray Lankester — they had had
Lee-Metford sardines and Cairns marmalade, he told me, — and
we sought the meteor together.   

  Find it we did in Kensington Gardens.  An enormous dimple
had been made by the impact of the projectile, which lay
almost buried in the earth.  Two or three trees, broken by
its fall, sprawled on the turf.  Among this debris was the
missile; resembling nothing so much as a huge crinoline.  At
the moment we reached the spot P.C.  A58I was ordering it
off; and Henry Pearson, aged 28 (no fixed abode), and Martha
Griffin, aged 54, of Maybury Tenements, were circulating
among the crowd offering matches for sale.  They have nothing
to do with this story but their names and addresses make for
verisimilitude; or at least, I hope so.  In case they do not,
let me add that Mary Griffin wore a blue peignoir which had
seen better days, and Herbert Pearson's matches struck
everywhere except on the box.

  With a mental flash we linked the Crinoline with the
powder puffs on Wenus.  Approaching it more nearly, we heard
a hissing noise within, such as is made by an ostler, or Mr.
Daimler grooming his motor car.  

  "Good heavens!" said Swears, "there's a horse in it.  Can't
you hear?  He must be half roasted."

  So saying he rushed off, fraught with pity, to inform the
Secretary of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals; while I hurried away to tell Pendriver the
journalist, proposing in my own mind, I recollect, that he
should give me half the profits on the article.    

  Pendriver the journalist, so called to distinguish him
from Hoopdriver the cyclist, was working in his garden.  He
does the horticultural column for one of the large dailies.  

  "You've read about the disturbances in Venus?" I cried.

  "What!" said Pendriver.  He is as deaf as the Post, the
paper he writes for.

  "You've read about Venus?" I asked again.

  "No," he said, "I've never been to Venice."

  "Venus!" I bawled, "Venus!"

  "Yes," said Pendriver, "Venus.  What about it?"

  "Why," I said, " there are people from Venus in Kensington

   "Venus in Kensington Gardens!" he replied.  "no it's not
Venus; it's the Queen."

  I began to get angry.  

  "Not the statue," I shouted.  "Wisitors from Wenus.  Make
copy.  Come and see!  Copy!  Copy!"

  The word "copy" galvanised him, and he came, spade and
all.  We quickly crossed the park once more.  Pendriver lives
to the west of it, in Strathmore Gardens, and has a special
permit from his landlord to dig.  We did not, for sufficient
reasons, converse much.  Many persons were now hastening
towards the strange object.  Among them I noticed Jubal Gregg
the butcher (who fortunately did not observe me — we owed him
a trifle of eighteen shillings, and had since taken to
Canterbury lamb from the Colonial Meat Stores), and a
jobbing gardener, whom I had not recently paid.  I forget his
name, but he was lame in the left leg: a ruddy man.  

  Quite a crowd surrounded the Crinoline when we arrived,
and in addition to the match-vendors already mentioned,
there was now Giuseppe Mandolini, from Leather Lane, with an
accordion and a monkey.  Monkeys are of course forbidden in
Kensington Gardens, and how he eluded the police I cannot
imagine.  Most of the people were staring quietly at the
Crinoline, totally unaware of its significance.  Scientific
knowledge has not progressed at Kensington by the same leaps
and bounds as at Woking.  Extra-terrestrial had less meaning
for them than extra-special.  

  We found Swears hard at work keeping the crowd from
touching the Crinoline.  With him was a tail, red-haired man,
who I afterwards learnt was Lee-Bigge, the Secretary of the
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  He had a
summons and several officials with him, and was standing on
the Crinoline, bellowing directions in a clear, rich voice,
occasionally impeded by emotion, like an ox with a hiccough.

  As soon as Swears saw me, he asked me to bring a policeman
to assist him to keep back the crowd; and I went away, proud
to be so honoured, to find one.  I was unsuccessful.  P.C.
A58I had gone off duty; but another constable, I was told,
had been seen, an hour or so earlier, asleep against the
railings, — it was a baker's boy who told me, just back from
delivering muffins in St.  Mary Abbot's Terrace, — and had
since wandered in the direction of the Albert Hall.  I
followed, but could not see him in any of the areas and
therefore returned slowly by way of Queen's Gate, Cromwell
Road, Earl's Court Road, and Kensington High Street, hoping
to meet another; and as it was then about noon, I entered an
A.B.C.  and had half a pork-pie and a bucket of Dr.  Jaeger's
Vi-cocolate.  I remember the circumstance distinctly, because
feeling rather hungry and wishing to vary the menu, I asked
the girl for half a veal-and-ham pie and she brought me the
balance of the original pasty; and when I remonstrated, she
said that her directors recognised no essential difference
between veal-and-ham and pork.  



WHEN I returned to the Gardens the sun was at his zenith.
The crowd around the Crinoline had increased and some sort
of a struggle seemed to be going on.  As I drew near I heard
Lee-Bigge's voice:
  "Keep back!  keep back!"

  A boy came running towards me.

  "It's a-movin'," he said to me as he passed; "a-blowin'
and a-blowin' out.  Now we shan't be long!"

  Passing on, I saw that it was indeed expanding.  The ribs
were more distended and the covering more tightly stretched.
The hissing had ceased and a creaking noise had taken its
place.  There was evidently great pressure within.  Once
something resembling an "en tout cas" was thrust from the
top, making what was presumably an attempt to dislodge
Lee-Bigge, and then suddenly the Crinoline burst, revealing
a wision of ultra-mundane loveliness.

  I shall not attempt exhaustively to describe the
indescribable.  It is enough to assure the sober reader that,
grotesque and foolish as it may seem this is absolutely
true, and to record that after the glimpse I had of the
Wenuses emerging from  the Crinoline in which they had come
to the earth from their planet, a kind of fascination
paralysed my actions.  All other men in the crowd seemed to
be similarly affected we were battle-grounds of love and
curiosity.  For the Wenuses were gorgeous: that is the sum of
the matter.  

  Those who have never seen a living Wenus (there is a
specimen in fairly good spirits in the Natural History
Museum) can scarcely imagine the strange beauty of their

  The peculiar W-shaped mouth, the incessant nictitation of
the sinister eyelid, the naughty little twinkle in the eye
itself, the glistening glory of the arms, each terminating
in a fleshy digitated Handling Machine resembling more than
anything else a Number 6 glove inflated with air (these
members, by the way, have since been named rather aptly by
that distinguished anatomist and original dog, Professor
Howes, the hands) — all combined to produce an effect akin to
stupefaction.  I stood there ecstatic, unprogressive,
immoderate; while swiftly and surely ungovernable affection
for all Wenuses gripped me.  

  Meanwhile I heard inarticulate exclamations on all sides.  

  "Shameless hussies!" cried a woman near me.

  "By Jove, that's something like!" said a young man who had
been reading Captain Coe's finals, swinging round towards
the Crinoline, with one foot arrested in mid-air.

  My inclination when I recovered partial self-possession
was to make instantly for the Crinoline and avow my devotion
and allegiance, but at that moment I caught the eye of my
wife, who had followed me to the park, and I hastily turned
my back on the centre of attraction.  I saw, however, that
Pendriver was using his spade to cleave his way to the
Wenuses; and Swears was standing on the brink of the pit
transfixed with adoration; while a young shopman from
Woking, in town for the day, completely lost his head.  It
came bobbing over the grass to my very feet; but I
remembered the experiences of Pollock and the Porrah man and
let it go.
  The news of our visitors seemed to have spread by some
subtle magic, for in every direction I could see nothing but
running men, some with women pulling at their sleeves and
coat-tails to detain them, advancing by great strides
towards us.  Even a policeman was among them, rubbing his
eyes.  My wife broke through the crowd and grasped me firmly
by the arm.  

  "Pozzy," she said, "this is my opportunity and I mean to
use it.  I was kept doing nothing between pages 68 and 296 of
the other book, and this time I mean to work.  Look at
these fools rushing to their doom.  In another moment they
will be mashed, mashed to jelly; and you too, unless I
prevent it.  I know what these Wenuses are.  Haven't I had a
scientific training ?

  So saying she banged on the ground with her umbrella,
which, I remember now with sorrow, we had bought the week
before at Derry and Toms' for five-and-eleven-three.
  Meanwhile a few of the men had to some extent recovered,
and headed by the R.S.P.C.A.  Secretary had formed a
deputation, and were busy talking on their fingers to the
Wenuses.  But the Wenuses were too much occupied in dropping
into each other's eyes something from a bright flask, which
I took to be Beggarstaffs' Elect Belladonna, to heed them.  

  I turned in response to a tug at my swallow tails from my
wife, and when I looked again a row of Wenuses with closed
lids stood before the Crinoline.  Suddenly they opened their
eyes and flashed them on the men before them.  The effect was
instantaneous.  The effect was instantaneous.   The
deputation, as the glance touched them, fell like skittles — 
vicious, protoplasmic masses, victims of the terrible Mash-
Glance of the Wenuses.

  I attributed my own escape to the prompt action of my
wife, who stood before and shielded me, for upon women 
the Mash-Glance had no effect.  The ray must have missed me
only by a second, for my elbow which was not wholly covered
by my wife's bulk was scorched, and my hat has never since
recovered its pristine gloss.  Turning, I saw a bus-driver ln
Knightsbridge leap up and explode, while his conductor
clutched at the rail, missed it and fell overboard; farther
still, on the distant horizon, the bricklayers on a
gigantic scaffolding went off bang against the lemon-yellow
of the sky as the glance reached them, and the Bachelors'
Club at Albert Gate fell with a crash.

  All this had happened with such swiftness that I was
dumbfounded.  Then, after a few moments, my wife slowly and
reluctantly stepped aside and a allowed me to survey the
scene.  The Wenuses, having scored their first victory, once
more had retired into the recesses of the Crinoline.  The
ground for some distance was littered with the bodies of the
mashed; I alone among men stood erect, my conscious
companions being a sprinkling of women, pictures of
ungovernable fury.

  Yet my feeling was not one of joy at my escape.  Strange
mind of man! — instead, even with the Wenuses' victims lying
all around me, my heart went out to the Crinoline an its
astral occupants.  I, too, wished to be mashed.  And suddenly
I was aware that my wife knew that I was thinking thus.  With
an effort I turned and began a stumbling run through the


                   HOW I REACHED HOME

I REMEMBER nothing of my flight, except the stress of
blundering against trees and stumbling over the railings.  To
blunder against some trees is very stressful.  At last I
could go no further: I had run full tilt into a gasworks.  I
fell and lay still.  

  I must have remained there some time.  Suddenly, like a
thing falling upon me from without, came — Beer.  It was being
poured down my throat by my cousin's man, and I recollect
thinking that he must have used the same can with which he
filled the lamps.  How he got there I cannot pretend to tell.

  "What news from the park?" said I.

  "Eh!" said my cousin's man.  

  "What news from the Park?" I said.  

  "Garn!  'oo yer getting at?" said my cousin's man.  "Aint
yer just *been* there?" (The italics are his own.)  "People
seem fair silly abart the Pawk.  Wot's it all abart?" 

  "Haven't you heard of the Wenuses?" said I.  "The women
from Wenus?" 

  "Quite enough," said my cousin's man, and laughed.  

  I felt foolish and angry.  

  "You'll hear more yet," I said, and went on my way.

  Judging by the names of the streets, I seemed to be at
Kennington, and it was an hour after dawn, and my collar had
burst away from its stud.  But I had ceased to feel fear.  My
terror had fallen from me like a bath towel.  Three things
struggled for the possession of my mind: the beauty of
Kennington, the whereabouts of the Wenuses, and the
wengeance of my wife.  In spite of my Cousin's man's beer,
which I could still taste, I was ravenously hungry; so,
seeing no one about, I broke into a chemist's shop and
stayed the pangs on a cake of petroleum soap, some Parrish's
food, and a box of menthol pastilles, which I washed down
with a split ammoniated quinine and Condy.  I then stole
across the road, and dragging the cushions from a deserted
cab (No. 8648) into the cab shelter, I snatched a few more
hours of restless sleep.  

  When I woke I found myself thinking consecutively, a thing
I do not remember to have done since I killed the curate in
the other book.  In the interim my mental condition had been
chaotic, asymptotic.  But during slumber my brain, incredible
as it may seem, stimulated and clarified by the condiments
of which I had partaken, had resumed its normal activity.  I
determined to go home.    

  Resolving at any cost to reach Campden Hill Gardens by a
sufficiently circuitous route, I traversed Kennington Park
Road, Newington Butts, Newington Causeway, Blackman Street,
and the Borough High Street, to London Bridge.  Crossing the
bridge, I met a newspaper boy with a bundle of papers, still
wet from the press.  They were halfpenny copies of the
Star, but he charged me a penny for mine.  The imposition
still rankles.    

  From it I learned that a huge cordon of police, which had
been drawn round the Crinoline, had been mashed beyond
recognition, and two regiments of Life Guards razed to the
ground, by the devastating Glance of the Wenuses.  I passed
along King William Street and Prince's Street to Moorgate
Street.  Here I met another newspaper boy, carrying the Pall
Mall Gazette.  I handed him a threepenny bit; but though I
waited for twenty minutes, he offered me no change.  This
will give some idea of the excitement then beginning to
prevail.  The Pall Mall had an article on the situation,
which I read as I climbed the City Road to Islington.  It
stated that Mrs. Pozzuoli, my wife, had constituted herself
Commander-in-Chief, and was busy marshalling her forces.  I
was relieved by the news, for it suggested that my wife was
fully occupied.  Already a good bulk of nursemaids and
cooks, enraged at the destruction of the Scotland Yard and
Knightsbridge heroes by the Wenuses' Mash-Glance, had joined
her flag.  It was, said the Pall Mall, high time that such
an attack was undertaken, and since women had been proved to
be immune to the Mash Glance, it was clearly their business
to undertake it.  

  Meanwhile, said the Pall Mall, nothing could check the
folly of the men.  Like moths to a candle, so were they
hastening to Kensington Gardens, only to be added to the
heap of mashed that already had accumulated there.  

  So far, the P.M.G.  But my mother, who was in the thick
of events at the time, has since given me fuller
particulars.  Notwithstanding, my mother tells me, the fate
of their companions, the remainder of the constabulary and
military forces stationed in London hastened to the Park,
impelled by the fearful fascination, and were added to the
piles of mashed.

  Afterwards came the Volunteers, to a man, and then the
Cloth.  The haste of most of the curates, and a few bishops
whose names have escaped me, was, said my mother,
cataclysmic.  Old dandies with creaking joints tottered along
Piccadilly to their certain doom; young clerks in the city,
explaining that they wished to attend their aunt's funeral,
crowded the omnibuses for Kensington and were seen no more;
while my mother tells me that excursion trains from the
country were arriving at the principal stations throughout
the day, bearing huge loads of provincial inamorati.  

  A constant stream of infatuated men, flowing from east to
west, set in, and though bands of devoted women formed
barriers across the principal thoroughfares for the purpose
of barring their progress, no perceptible check was
effected.  Once, a Judge of notable austerity was observed to
take to a lamp-post to avoid detention by his wife: once, a
well-known tenor turned down by a by-street, says my mother,
pursued by no fewer than fifty-seven admirers burning to
avert his elimination.  Members of Parliament surged across
St.  James' Park and up Constitution Hill.

  Yet in every walk of life, says my mother, there were a
few survivors in the shape of stolid, adamantine

  Continuing my journey homewards, I traversed Upper Street,
Islington, and the Holloway Road to Highgate Hill, which I
ascended at a sharp run.  At the summit I met another
newspaper boy carrying a bundle of Globes, one of which I
purchased, after a hard-driven bargain, for two shillings
and a stud from the shirt-front of my evening dress, which
was beginning to show signs of ennui.  I leaned against the
wall of the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institute, to
read it.  The news was catastrophic.  Commander Wells of the
Fire Brigade had, it stated, visited Kensington Gardens with
two manuals, one steam engine, and a mile of hose, in order
to play upon the Crinoline and its occupants.  Presuming on
the immunity of persons bearing his name during the Martian
invasion, the gallant Commander had approached too near and
was in a moment reduced to salvage.  

  Pondering on this news, I made for Parliament Hill, by way
of West Hill and Milfield Lane.  On the top I paused to
survey London at my feet, and, to get the fullest benefit of
the invigorating breeze, removed my hat.  But the instant I
did so, I was aware of a sharp pain on my scalp and the
aroma of singed hair.  Lifting my hand to the wounded place,
I discovered that I had been shaved perfectly clean, as with
a Heat Razor.  The truth rushed upon me: I had come within
the range of the Mash-Glance, and had been saved from total
dissolution only by intervening masonry protecting my face
and body.

  To leave the Hill was the work of an instant.  I passed
through John Street to Hampstead Road, along Belsize Avenue
and Buckland Crescent to Belsize Road, and so to Canterbury
Road and Kilburn Lane.  Here I met a fourth newspaper boy
loaded with copies of the St. James' Gazette.  He offered
me one for seven-and-sixpence, or two for half a sovereign,
but it seemed to me I had read enough.  Turning into Ladbroke
Grove Road I quickly reached Notting Hill, and stealthily
entered my house in Campden Hill Gardens ten minutes later.

(End of Book I.) 

                          BOOK II.

                  London under the Wenuses

                 THE DEATH OF THE EXAMINER.

MY first act on entering my house, in order to guard against
any sudden interruption on the part of my wife, was to bolt
the door and put on the chain.  My next was to visit the
pantry, the cellar, and the larder, but they were all void
of food and drink.  My wife must have been there first.  As
I had drunk nothing since I burgled the Kennington
chemist's, I was very thirsty, though my mind was still
hydrostatic.  I cannot account for it on scientific
principles, but I felt very angry with my wife.  Suddenly I
was struck by a happy thought, and hurrying upstairs I found
a bottle of methylated spirits on my wife's toilet-table. 
Strange as it may seem to the sober reader, I drank greedily
of the unfamiliar beverage, and feeling refreshed and
thoroughly kinetic, settled down once more to an exhaustive
exposure of the dishonest off-handedness of the external
Examiners at University College.  I may add that I had taken
the breadknife (by Mappin) from the pantry, as it promised
to be useful in the case of unforeseen Clerical emergencies. 
I should have preferred the meat-chopper with which the
curate had been despatched in The War of the Worlds, but
it was deposited in the South Kensington Museum along with
other mementoes of the Martian invasion.  Besides, my wife
and I had both become Wegetarians.

  The evening was still, and though distracted at times by
recollections of the Wenuses, I made good progress with my
indictment.  Suddenly I was conscious of a pale pink glow
which suffused my writing-pad and I heard a soft but
unmistakable thud as of a pinguid body falling in the
immediated vicinity.

  Taking off my boots, I stole gently down to the scullery
and applied the spectroscope to the keyhole.  To my mingled
amazement and ecstasy, I perceived a large dome-shaped
fabric blocking up the entire back garden.  Roughly
speaking, it seemed to be about the size of a full-grown
sperm whale.  A faint heaving was perceptible in the mass,
and further evidences of vitality were forthcoming in a
gentle but pathetic crooning, as of an immature chimaera
booming in the void.  The truth flashed upon me in a moment. 
The Second Crinoline had fallen in my back garden.

  My mind was instantly made up.  To expose myself unarmed
to the fascination of the Wonderful Wisitors would have
irreparably prejudiced the best interests of scientific
research.  My only hope lay in a complete disguise which
should enable me to pursue my investigations of the Wenuses
with the minimum amount of risk.  A student of the
humanities would have adopted a different method, but my
standpoint has always been dispassionate, anti-sentimental. 
My feelings towards the Wenuses were, incredible as it may
seem, purely Platonic.  I recognised their transcendental
attractions, but had no desire to succumb to them.  Strange
as it may seem, the man who succumbs rarely if ever is
victorious in the long run.  To disguise my sex and
identity — for it was a priori almost impossible that the
inhabitants of Wenus had never heard of Pozzuoli — would
guard me from the jellifying Mash-Glance of the Wenuses. 
Arrayed in feminine garb I could remain immune to their
malignant influences.

  With me, to think is to act; so I hastily ran upstairs,
shaved off my moustache, donned my wife's bicycleskirt,
threw her sortie de bal round my shoulders, borrowed the
cook's Sunday bonnet from the servants' bedroom, and
hastened back to my post of observation at the scullery

  Inserting a pipette through the keyhole and cautiously
applying my eye, I saw to my delight that the Crinoline had
been elevated on a series of steel rods about six feet high,
and that the five Wenuses who had descended in it were
partaking of a light but sumptuous repast beneath its
iridescent canopy.

  They were seated round a tripod imbibing a brown beverage
from small vessels resembling the half of a hollow sphere,
and eating with incredible velocity a quantity of tiny round
coloured objects — closely related, as I subsequently had
occasion to ascertain, to the Bella angelica — which they
raised to their mouths with astonishing and unerring aim in
the complex Handling-Machines, or Tenticklers, which form
part of their wonderful organism.

  Belonging as they undoubtedly do to the order of the
Tunicates, their exquisitely appropriate and elegant costume
may be safely allowed to speak for itself.  It is enough,
however, to note the curious fact that there are no buttons
in Wenus, and that their mechanical system is remarkable,
incredible as it may seem, for having developed the eye to
the rarest point of perfection while dispensing entirely
with the hook.  The bare idea of this is no doubt terribly
repulsive to us, but at the same time I think we should
remember how indescribably repulsive our sartorial habits
must seem to an intelligent armadillo.

  Of the peculiar coralline tint of the Wenuses' complexion
I think I have already spoken.  That it was developed by
their indulgence in the Red Weed has been, I think,
satisfactorily proved by the researches of Dr. Moreau, who
also shows that the visual range of their eyes was much the
same as ours, except that blue and yellow were alike to
them.  Moreau established this by a very pretty experiment
with a Yellow Book and a Blue Book, each of which elicited
exactly the same remark, a curious hooting sound, strangely
resembling the ut de poitrine of one of Professor Garner's
gorillas.  After concluding their repast, the Wenuses, still
unaware of my patient scrutiny, extracted, with the aid of
their glittering tintackles, a large packet of Red Weed from
a quasi-marsupial pouch in the roof of the Crinoline, and in
an incredibly short space of time had rolled it's carmine
tendrils into slim cylinders, and inserted them within their
lips.  The external ends suddenly ignited as though by
spontaneous combustion; but in reality that result was
effected by the simple process of deflecting the optic ray. 
Clouds of roseate vapour, ascending to the dome of the
canopy, partially obscured the sumptuous contours of these
celestial invaders; while a soft crooning sound, indicative
of utter contentment, or as Professor Nestle of the Milky
Ray has more prosaically explained it, due to expiration of
air preparatory to the suctional operation involved in the
use of the Red Weed, added an indescribable glamour to the
enchantment of the scene.

  Humiliating as it may seem to the scientific reader, I
found it impossible to maintain a Platonic attitude any
longer; and applying my mouth to the embouchure of the
pipette, warbled faintly in an exquisite falsetto:

  "Ulat tanalareezul Savourneen Dheelish tradioun marexil
Vi-Koko for the hair.  I want yer, ma honey."

  The effect was nothing short of magical.  The rhythmic
exhalations ceased instanteously, and the tallest and most
fluorescent of the Wenuses, laying aside her Red Weed,
replied in a low voice thrilling with kinetic emotion:

  "Phreata mou sas agapo!"

  The sentiment of these remarks was unmistakable, though to
my shame I confess I was unable to fathom their meaning, and
I was on the point of opening the scullery door and rushing
out to declare myself, when I heard a loud banging from the
front of the house.

  I stumbled up the kitchen stairs, hampered considerably by
my wife's skirt; and, by the time I had reached the hall,
recognised the raucous accents of Professor Tibbles, the
Classical Examiner, shouting in excited tones:
  "Let me in, let me in!"

  I opened the door as far as it would go without
unfastening the chain, and the Professor at once thrust in
his head, remaining jammed in the aperture.

  "Let me in!" he shouted.  "I'm the only man in London
besides yourself that hasn't been pulped by the

  He then began to jabber lines from the classics, and
examples from the Latin grammar.

  A sudden thought occurred to me.  Perhaps he might
translate the observation of the Wenus.  Should I use him as
an interpreter?  But a moment's reflection served to
convince me of the danger of such a plan.  The Professor,
already exacerbated by the study of the humanities, was in a
state of acute erethism.  I thought of the curate, and,
maddened by the recollection of all I had suffered, drew the
bread-knife from my waist-belt, and shouting, "Go to join
your dead languages!" stabbed him up to the maker's name in
the semi-lunar ganglion.  His head drooped, and he expired.

  I stood petrified, staring at his glazing eyes; then,
turning to make for the scullery, was confronted by the
catastrophic apparition of the tallest Wenus gazing at me
with reproachful eyes and extended tentacles.  Disgust at my
cruel act and horror at my extraordinary habiliments were
written all too plainly in her seraphic lineaments.  At
least, so I thought.  But it turned out to be otherwise; for
the Wenus produced from behind her superlatively radiant
form a lump of slate which she had extracted from the

  "Decepti estis, O Puteoli!" she said.

  "I beg your pardon," I replied; "but I fail to grasp your

  "She means," said the Examiner, raising himself for
another last effort, "that it is time you changed your coal
merchant," and so saying he died agaln.

  I was thunderstruck: the Wenuses understood coals!

  And then I ran; I could stand it no longer.  The game was
up, the cosmic game for which I had laboured so long and
strenuously, and with one despairing yell of "Ulla! Ulla!" I
unfastened the chain, and, leaping over the limp and
prostrate form of the unhappy Tibbles, fled darkling down
the deserted street.


                      THE MAN AT UXBRIDGE ROAD

AT the corner a happy thought struck me: the landlord of the
"Dog and Measles" kept a motor car.  I found him in his bar
and killed him.  Then I broke open the stable and let loose
the motor car.  It was very restive, and I had to pat it. 
"Goo' Tea Rose," I said soothingly, "goo' Rockefeller,
then."  It became quiet, and I struck a match and started
the paraffinalia, and in a moment we were under weigh.

  I am not an expert motist, although at school I was a
fairly good hoop-driver, and the pedestrians I met and
overtook had a bad time.  One man said, as he bound up a
punctured thigh, that the Heat Ray of the Martians was
nothing compared with me.  I was moting towards Leatherhead,
where my cousin lived, when the streak of light caused by
the Third Crinoline curdled the paraffin tank.  Vain was it
to throw water on the troubled oil; the mischief was done. 
Meanwhile a storm broke.  The lightning flashed, the rain
beat against my face, the night was exceptionally dark, and
to add to my difficulties the motor took the wick between
its teeth and fairly bolted.

  No one who has never seen an automobile during a spasm of
motor ataxy can have any idea of what I suffered.  I held
the middle of the way for a few yards, but just opposite
Uxbridge Road Station I turned the wheel hard a-port, and
the motor car overturned.  Two men sprang from nowhere, as
men will, and sat on its occiput, while I crawled into
Uxbridge Road Station and painfully descended the stairs.

  I found the platform empty save for a colony of sturdy
little newsboys, whose stalwart determination to live filled
me with admiration, which I was enjoying until a curious
sibillation beneath the bookstall stirred me with panic.

  Suddenly, from under a bundle of British Weeklies, there
emerged a head, and gradually a man crawled out.  It was the

  "I'm burning hot," he said; "it's a touch of — what is it?
 — erethism."

  His voice was hoarse, and his Remarks, like the Man of
Kent's, were Rambling.

  "Where do you come from?" he said.

  "I come from Woking," I replied, "and my nature is Wobbly. 
I love my love with a W because she is Woluptuous.  I took
her to the sign of the Wombat and read her The War of the
Worlds, and treated her to Winkles, Winolia and Wimbos. 
Her name is Wenus, and she comes from the Milky Way."

  He looked at me doubtfully, then shot out a pointed

  "It is you," he said, "the man from Woking.  The Johnny
what writes for Nature.  By the way," he interjected, "don't
you think some of your stuff is too — what is it? — esoteric? 
The man," he continued, "as killed the curate in the last
book.  By the way, it was you as killed the curate?"

  "Artilleryman," I replied, "I cannot tell a lie.  I did it
with my little meatchopper.  And you, I presume, are the
Artilleryman who attended my lectures on the Eroticism of
the Elasmobranch?"

  "That's me," he said; "but Lord, how you've changed.  Only
a fortnight ago, and now you're stone-bald!"

  I stared, marvelling at his gift of perception.

  "What have you been living on?" I asked.

  "Oh," he said, "immature potatoes and Burgundy" (I give
the catalogue so precisely because it has nothing to do with
the story), "uncooked steak and limp lettuces, precocious
carrots and Bartlett pears, and thirteen varieties of fluid
beef, which I cannot name except at the usual advertisement

  "But can you sleep after it?" said I.

  "Blimy! yes," he replied; "I'm fairly — what is it? — 

  "It's all over with mankind," I muttered.

  "It is all over," he replied.  "The Wenuses 'ave only lost
one Crinoline, just one, and they keep on coming; they're
falling somewhere every night.  Nothing's to be done.  We're

  I made no answer.  I sat staring, pulverised by the
colossal intellectuality of this untutored private.  He had
attended only three of my lectures, and had never taken any

  "This isn't a war," he resumed; "it never was a war. 
These 'ere Wenuses they wants to be Mas, that's the long and
the short of it.  Only ——"

  "Yes?" I said, more than ever impressed by the man's
pyramidal intuition.

  "They can't stand the climate.  They're to — what is it? — 

  We sat staring at each other.

  "And what will they do?" I humbly asked, grovelling
unscientifically at his feet.

  "That's what I've been thinking," said the gunner.  "I
ain't an ornamental soldier, but I've a good deal of cosmic
kinetic optimism, and it's the cosmic kinetic optimist what
comes through.  Now these Wenuses don't want to wipe us all
out.  It's the women they want to exterminate.  They want to
collar the men, and you'll see that after a bit they'll
begin catching us, picking the best, and feeding us up in
cages and men-coops."

  "Good heavens!" I exclaimed; "but you are a man of genius
indeed," and I flung my arms around his neck.

  "Steady on!" he said; "don't be so — what is it? — 

  "And what then?" I asked, when my emotion had somewhat

  "Then," said he, "the others must be wary.  You and I are
mean little cusses: we shall get off.  They won't want us. 
And what do we do?  Take to the drains!"  He looked at me

  Quailing before his glory of intellect, I fainted.

  "Are you sure?" I managed to gasp, on recovering

  "Yes," he said, "sewer.  The drains are the places for you
and me.  Then we shall play cricket — a narrow drain makes a
wonderful pitch — and read the good books — not poetry swipes,
and stuff like that, but good books.  That's where men like
you come in.  Your books are the sort: The Time Machine,
and Round the World in Eighty Days, The Wonderful Wisit,
and From the Earth to the Moon, and ——"

  "Stop!" I cried, nettled at his stupidity.  "You are
confusing another author and myself."

  "Was I?" he said, "that's rum, but I always mix you up
with the man you admire so much — Jools Werne.  And," he
added with a sly look, "you do admire him, don't you?"

  In a flash I saw the man plain.  He was a critic.  I knew
my duty at once: I must kill him.  I did not want to kill
him, because I had already killed enough — the curate in the
last book, and the Examiner and the landlord of the "Dog and
Measles" in this, — but an author alone with a critic in
deserted London!  What else could I do?

  He seemed to divine my thought.

  "There's some immature champagne in the cellar," he said.

  "No," I replied, thinking aloud; "too slow, too slow."

  He endeavoured to pacify me.

  "Let me teach you a game," he said.

  He taught me one — he taught me several.  We began with
"Spadille," we ended with "Halma" and "Snap," for parliament
points.  That is to say, instead of counters we used M.Ps. 
Grotesque and foolish as this will seem to the sober reader,
it is absolutely true.  Strange mind of man! that, with our
species being mashed all around, we could sit following the
chance of this painted pasteboard.

  Afterwards we tried "Tiddleywinks" and "Squails," and I
beat him so persistently that both sides of the House were
mine and my geniality entirely returned.  He might have been
living to this hour had he not mentioned something about the
brutality of The Island of Dr. Moreau.  That settled it. 
I had heard that absurd charge once too often, and raising
my Blaisdell binaural stethoscope I leaped upon him.  With
one last touch of humanity, I turned the orbicular ivory
plate towards him and struck him to the earth.

  At that moment fell the Fourth Crinoline.


MY wife's plan of campaign was simple but masterly.  She
would enlist an army of enormous bulk, march on the Wenuses
in Westbourne Grove, and wipe them from the face of the

  Such was my wife's project.  My wife's first step was to
obtain, as the nucleus of attack, those women to whom the
total loss of men would be most disastrous.  They flocked to
my wife's banner, which was raised in Regent's Park, in
front of the pavilion where tea is provided by a maternal
County Council.

  My mother, who joined the forces and therefore witnessed
the muster, tells me it was a most impressive sight.  My
wife, in a nickel-plated Russian blouse, trimmed with
celluloid pompons, aluminium pantaloons, and a pair of
Norwegian Skis, looked magnificent .

  An old Guard, primed with recent articles from the Queen
by Mrs. Lynn Linton, marched in a place of honour; and a
small squadron of confirmed misogynists, recruited from the
Athenaeum, the Travellers' and the Senior United Service
Clubs, who professed themselves to be completely ash-proof,
were in charge of the ambulance.  The members of the Ladies'
Kennel Club, attended by a choice selection of carefully-
trained Chows, Schipperkes, Whippets and Griffons,
garrisoned various outposts.

  The Pioneers joined my wife's ranks with some hesitation. 
The prospects of a world depleted of men did not seem (says
my mother) to fill them with that consternation which was
evident in my wife and her more zealous lieutenants.  But
after a heated discussion at the Club-house, which was
marked by several resignations, it was decided to join in
the attack.  A regiment of Pioneers therefore, marching to
the battle-chant of Walt Whitman's "Pioneers, O Pioneers!"
brought up (says my mother) the rear.

  The march of my wife's troops was a most impressive sight.

Leaving Regent's Park by the Clarence Gate, they passed down
Upper Baker Street, along Marylebone Road into Edgware Road.

Here the troops divided.  One detachment hastened to Queen's
Road, by way of Praed Street, Craven Road, Craven Hill,
Leinster Terrace and the Bayswater Road, with the purpose of
approaching Whiteley's from the South; the other half
marched direct to Westbourne Grove, along Paddington Green
Road to Bishop's Road.

  Thus, according to my wife's plan, the Wenuses would be
between the two wings of the army and escape would be

  Everything was done as my wife had planned.  The two
detachments reached their destination almost simultaneously.

My wife, with the northern wing, was encamped in Bishop's
Road, Westbourne Grove and Pickering Place.  My mother, with
the southern wing (my wife shrewdly kept the command in the
family), filled Queen's Road from Whiteley's to Moscow Road.

My mother, who has exquisite taste in armour, had donned a
superb Cinque-Cento cuirass, a short Zouave jacket
embroidered with sequins, accordion-pleated bloomers,
luminous leggings, brown Botticelli boots and one tiger-skin

  Between the two hosts was the empty road before the
Universal Provider's Emporium.  The Wenuses were within the
building.  By the time my wife's warriors were settled and
had completed the renovation of their toilets it was high

  My wife had never imagined that any delay would occur: she
had expected to engage with the enemy at once and have done
with it, and consequently brought no provisions and no
protection from the sun, which poured down a great bulk of
pitiless beams.

  The absence of Wenuses and of any sound betokening their
activity was disconcerting.  However, my wife thought it
best to lay siege to Whiteley's rather than to enter the

  The army therefore waited.

  The heat became intense.  My wife and her soldiers began
to feel the necessity for refreshment.  My wife is
accustomed to regular meals.  The sun grew in strength as
the time went on, and my wife gave the order to sit at ease,
which was signalled to my mother.  My mother tells me that
she was never so pleased in her life.

  One o'clock struck; two o'clock; three o'clock; and still
no Wenuses.  Faint sounds were now audible from the crockery
department, and then a hissing, which passed by degrees into
a humming, a long, loud droning noise.  It resembled as
nearly as anything the boiling of an urn at a tea-meeting,
and awoke in the breasts of my wife and her army an intense
and unconquerable longing for tea, which was accentuated as
four o'clock was reached.  Still no Wenuses.  Another hour
dragged wearily on, and the craving for tea had become
positively excruciating when five o'clock rang out.

  At that moment, the glass doors of the crockery department
were flung open, and out poured a procession of Wenuses
smiling, said my mother, with the utmost friendliness,
dressed as A.B.C. girls, and bearing trays studded with cups
and saucers.

  With the most seductive and ingratiating charm, a cup was
handed to my wife.  What to do she did not for the moment
know.  "Could such a gift be guileless?" she asked herself. 
"No." And yet the Wenuses looked friendly.  Finally her
martial spirit prevailed and my wife repulsed the cup,
adjuring the rank and file to do the same.  But in vain. 
Every member of my wife's wing of that fainting army
greedily grasped a cup.  Alas! what could they know of the
deadly Tea-Tray of the Wenuses?  Nothing, absolutely
nothing, such is the disgraceful neglect of science in our
schools and colleges.  And so they drank and were consumed.

  Meanwhile my mother, at the head of the south wing of the
army, which had been entirely overlooked by the Wenuses,
stood watching the destruction of my wife's host — a figure
petrified with alarm and astonishment.  One by one she
watched her sisters in arms succumb to the awful Tea-Tray.

  Then it was that this intrepid woman rose to her greatest

  "Come!" she cried to her Amazons.  "Come! They have no
more tea left.  Now is the moment ripe."

  With these spirited words, my mother and her troops
proceeded to charge down Queen's Road upon the unsuspecting

  But they had reckoned without the enemy.

  The tumult of the advancing host caught the ear of the
Wonderful Wisitors, and in an instant they had extracted
glittering cases of their crimson cigarettes from their
pockets, and lighting them in the strange fashion I have
described elsewhere, they proceeded to puff the smoke
luxuriously into the faces of my mother and her comrades.

  Alas! little did these gallant females know of the
horrible properties of the Red Weed.  How could they, with
our science-teaching in such a wretched state?

  The smoke grew in volume and density, spread and spread,
and in a few minutes the south wing of my wife's army was as
supine as the north.

  How my wife and mother escaped I shall not say.  I make a
point of never explaining the escape of my wife, whether
from Martians or Wenuses; but that night, as
Commander-in-Chief, she issued this cataleptic despatch:

       "The Wenuses are able to paralyse all but
     strong-minded women with their deadly Tea-Tray.  Also
     they burn a Red Weed, the smoke of which has smothered
     our troops in Westbourne Grove.  No sooner have they
     despoiled Whiteley's than they will advance upon Jay's
     and Marshall and Snelgrove's.  It is impossible to stop
     them.  There is no safety from the Tea-Tray and the Red
     Weed but in instant flight."

  That night the world was again lit by a pale pink flash of
light.  It was the Fifth Crinoline.


THE general stampede that ensued on the publication of my
wife's despatch is no fit subject for the pen of a coherent
scientific writer.  Suffice it to say, that in the space of
twenty-four hours London was practically empty, with the
exception of the freaks at Barnum's, the staff of The
Undertakers' Gazette, and Mrs. Elphinstone (for that, pace
Wilkie Collins, was the name of the Woman in White), who
would listen to no reasoning, but kept calling upon
"George," for that was the name of my cousin's man, who had
been in the service of Lord Garrick, the Chief Justice, who
had succumbed to dipsomania in the previous invasion.

  Meantime the Wenuses, flushed with their success in
Westbourne Grove, had carried their devastating course in a
south-easterly direction, looting Marshall and Snelgrove's,
bearing away the entire stock of driving-gloves from Sleep's
and subjecting Redfern's to the asphyxiating fumes of the
Red Weed.

  It is calculated that they spent nearly two days in Jay's,
trying on all the costumes in that establishment, and a week
in Peter Robinson's.  During these days I never quitted
Uxbridge Road Station, for just as I was preparing to leave,
my eye caught the title on the bookstall of Grant Allen's
work, The Idea of Evolution! and I could not stir from the
platform until I had skimmed it from cover to cover.

  Wearily mounting the stairs, I then turned my face
westward.  At the corner of Royal Crescent, just by the
cabstand, I found a man lying in the roadway.  His face was
stained with the Red Weed, and his language was quite unfit
for the columns of Nature.

  I applied a limp lettuce to his fevered brow, took his
temperature with my theodolite, and pressing a copy of Home
Chat into his unresisting hand, passed on with a sigh.  I
think I should have stayed with him but for the abnormal
obtusity of his facial angle.

  Turning up Clarendon Road, I heard the faint words of the
Wenusberg music by Wagner from a pianoforte in the second
story of No. 34.  I stepped quickly into a jeweller's shop
across the road, carried off eighteen immature carats from a
tray on the counter, and pitched them through the open
window at the invisible pianist.  The music ceased suddenly.

  It was when I began to ascend Notting Hill that I first
heard the hooting.  It reminded me at first of a Siren, and
then of the top note of my maiden aunt, in her day a
notorious soprano vocalist.  She subsequently emigrated to
France, and entered a nunnery under the religious name of
Soeur Marie Jeanne.  "Tul-ulla-lulla-liety," wailed the
Voice in a sort of superhuman jodel, coming, as it seemed to
me, from the region of Westminster Bridge.

  The persistent ululation began to get upon my nerves.  I
found, moreover, that I was again extremely hungry and
thirsty.  It was already noon.  Why was I wandering alone in
this derelict city, clad in my wife's skirt and my cook's
Sunday bonnet?

  Grotesque and foolish as it may seem to the scientific
reader, I was entirely unable to answer this simple
conundrum.  My mind reverted to my school days.  I found
myself declining musa.  Curious to relate, I had entirely
forgotten the genitive of ego....  With infinite trouble I
managed to break into a vegetarian restaurant, and made a
meal off some precocious haricot beans, a brace of Welsh
rabbits, and ten bottles of botanic beer.

  Working back into Holland Park Avenue and thence keeping
steadily along High Street, Notting Hill Gate, I determined
to make my way to the Marble Arch, in the hopes of finding
some fresh materials for my studies in the Stone Age.

  In Bark Place, where the Ladies' Kennel Club had made
their vast grand-stand, were a number of pitiful vestiges of
the Waterloo of womenkind.  There was a shattered Elswick
bicycle, about sixteen yards and a half of nun's veiling,
and fifty-three tortoise-shell side-combs.  I gazed on the
debris with apathy mingled with contempt.  My movements were
languid, my plans of the vaguest.  I knew that I wished to
avoid my wife, but had no clear idea how the avoiding was to
be done.


FROM Orme Square, a lean-faced, unkempt and haggard waif, I
drifted to Great Orme's Head and back again.  Senile
dementia had already laid its spectral clutch upon my
wizened cerebellum when I was rescued by some kindly people,
who tell me that they found me scorching down Hays Hill on a
cushion-tired ordinary.  They have since told me that I was
singing "My name is John Wellington Wells, Hurrah!" and
other snatches from a pre-Wenusian opera.

  These generous folk, though severely harassed by their own
anxieties, took me in and cared for me.  I was a lonely man
and a sad one, and they bored me.  In spite of my desire to
give public expression to my gratitude, they have refused to
allow their names to appear in these pages, and they
consequently enjoy the proud prerogative of being the only
anonymous persons in this book.  I stayed with them at the
Bath Club for four days, and with tears parted from them on
the spring-board.  They would have kept me forever, but that
would have interfered with my literary plans.  Besides, I
had a morbid desire to gaze on the Wenuses once more.

  And so I went out into the streets again, guided by the
weird Voice, and via Grafton Street, Albemarle Street, the
Royal Arcade, Bond Street, Burlington Gardens, Vigo Street
and Sackville Street, Piccadilly, Regent Street, Pall Mall
East, Cockspur Street and Whitehall, steadily wheeled my way
across Westminster Bridge.

  There were few people about and their skins were all
yellow.  Lessing, presumably in his Laocoon, has
attributed this to the effects of sheer panic; but Carver's
explanation, which attributes the ochre-like tint to the
hypodermic operation of the Mash-Glance, seems far more
plausible.  For myself I abstain from casting the weight of
my support in either scale, because my particular province
is speculative philosophy and not comparative dermatology.

  As I passed St. Thomas's Hospital, the tullululation grew
ever louder and louder.  At last the source of the sound
could no longer be disguised.  It proceeded without doubt
from the interior of some soap works just opposite
Doulton's.  The gate was open and a faint saponaceous
exhalation struck upon my dilated nostrils.  I have always
been peculiarly susceptible to odours, though my particular
province is not Osmetics but speculative philosophy, and I
at once resolved to enter.  Leaning my bicycle against the
wall of the archway, I walked in, and was immediately
confronted by the object of my long search.  There, grouped
picturesquely round a quantity of large tanks, stood the
Wenuses, blowing assiduously through pellucid pipettes and
simultaneously chanting in tones of unearthly gravity a
strain poignantly suggestive of baffled hopes, thwarted
aspirations and impending departure.  So absorbed were they
in their strange preparations, that they were entirely
unconscious of my presence.  Grotesque and foolish as this
may seem to the infatuated reader, it is absolutely true.

  Gradually from out the troubled surface of the tanks there
rose a succession of transparent iridescent globules,
steadily waxing in bulk until they had attained a diameter
of about sixteen feet.  The Wenuses then desisted from their
labours of inflation, and suddenly plunging into the tanks,
reappeared inside these opalescent globules.  I can only
repeat that speculative philosophy, and not sapoleaginous
hydrodynamics, is my particular forte, and would refer
doubtful readers, in search of further information, to the
luminous hypothesis advanced by Professor Cleaver of
Washington to account for the imbullification of the

          (1) Cleaver in a subsequent Memoir [Sonnenschein,
          London, pp. xiv., 954, 20 in. x 8, price L2 2s. 
          net] has made out, reluctantly and against the
          judgment of his firm, that the basic material of
          the globules, the peculiar tenacity of which was
          due to some toughening ingredient imported by the
          Wisitors from their planet, was undoubtedly that
          indispensable domestic article which is alleged to
          "save rubbing."

  Never shall I forget the touching scene that now unfolded
itself before my bewildered eyes.  Against a back ground of
lemon-coloured sky, with the stars shedding their spiritual
lustre through the purple twilight, these gorgeous
creatures, each ensphered in her beatific bubble, floated
tremulously upward on the balmy breeze.  In a moment it all
flashed upon me.  They were passing away from the scene of
their brief triumph, and I, a lonely and dejected scientist,
saw myself doomed to expiate a moment's madness in long
years of ineffectual speculation on the probable development
of Moral Ideas.

  My mind reverted to my abandoned arguments, embodied in
the article which lay beneath the selenite paperweight in my
study in Campden Hill Gardens.  Frenzied with despair, I
shot out an arm to arrest the upward transit of the nearest
Wenus, when a strange thing occurred.

  "At last!" said a voice.

  I was startled.  It was my wife, accompanied by Mrs.
Elphinstone, my cousin's man, my mother, the widow of the
landlord of the "Dog and Measles," Master Herodotus Tibbles
in deep mourning, and the Artilleryman's brother from
Beauchamp's little livery stables.

  I shot an appealing glance to the disappearing Wenus.  She
threw me a kiss.  I threw her another.

  My wife took a step forward, and put her hand to my ear. 
I fell.

                            APPENDIX A.

MY mother, whose vigilance during the Wenuses' invasion has
been throughout of the greatest assistance to me, kept
copies of the various papers of importance which commented
upon that event.  From them I am enabled, with my mother's
consent, to supplement the allusions to contemporary
journalism in the body of my history with the following

  The Times, or, as it is better known, the Thunder Child
of Printing House Square, said:
       "The Duke of Curzon's statesmanlike reply in the
     House of Lords last night to the inflammatory question
     or string of questions put by Lord Ashmead with
     reference to our planetary visitors will go far to
     mitigate the unreasoning panic which has laid hold of a
     certain section of the community.  As to the methods by
     which it has been proposed to confront and repel the
     invaders, the Duke's remark, 'that the use of dynamite
     violated the chivalrous instincts which were at the
     root of the British Nature,' called forth loud
     applause.  The Foreign Secretary, however, showed that,
     while deprecating senseless panic, he was ready to take
     any reasonable steps to allay the natural anxiety of
     the public, and rising later on in the evening, he
     announced that a Royal Commission had been appointed,
     on which Lord Ashmead, Dr. Joseph Parker (of the City
     Temple), and Mr. Hall Caine, representing the Isle of
     Man, had consented to serve, and would be dispatched
     without delay to Kensington Gardens to inquire into the
     cause of the visit, and, if possible, to induce the new
     comers to accept an invitation to tea on the Terrace. 
     By way of supplementing these tranquillizing
     assurances, we may add that we have the authority of
     the best scientific experts, including Dr. Moreau,
     Professor Sprudelkopf of Carlsbad, and Dr. Fountain
     Penn of Philadelphia, for asserting that no animate
     beings could survive their transference from the
     atmosphere of Venus to that of our planet for more than
     fourteen days.  It is to be hoped, therefore, that the
     members of the Royal Commission may be successful in
     impressing upon our aerial visitors the imperative
     necessity of a speedy return.  In these negotiations it
     is anticipated that the expressive pantomime of Dr.
     Parker, and Mr. Hall Caine's mastery of the Manx
     dialect, will be of the greatest possible assistance."

  To the Daily Telegraph Sir Edwin Arnold contributed a
poem entitled "Aphrodite Anadyomene; or, Venus at the Round
Pond."  My mother can remember only the last stanza, which
ran as follows:
          "Though I fly to Fushiyama,
           Steeped in opalescent Karma,
           I shall ne'er forget my charmer,
           My adorable Khansamah. 
           Though I fly to Tokio,
           Where the sweet chupatties blow,
           I shall ne'er forget thee, no!
           Yamagata, daimio."

  A shilling testimonial to the Wenuses was also started by
the same journal, in accordance with the precedent furnished
by the similar treatment of the Graces, and an animated
controversy raged in its correspondence columns with
reference to mixed bathing at Margate, and its effect on the
morality of the Wenuses.

  A somewhat painful impression was created by the
publication of an interview with a well-known dramatic
critic in the periodical known as Great Scott's Thoughts. 
This eminent authority gave it as his unhesitating opinion
that the Wenuses were not fit persons to associate with
actors, actresses, or dramatic critics, and that if, as was
announced, they had been engaged at Covent Garden to lend
realistic verisimilitude to the Venusberg scene in
Tannhauser, it was his firm resolve to give up his long
crusade against Ibsen, emigrate to Norway, and change his
name to that of John Gabriel Borkman.  A prolonged sojourn
in Poppyland, however, resulted in the withdrawal of this
dreadful threat, and, some few weeks after the extinction of
the Wenuses, his reconciliation with the dramatic profession
was celebrated at a public meeting, where, after embracing
all the actor-managers in turn, he was presented by them
with a magnificent silver butterboat, filled to the brim
with melted butter ready for immediate use.


MY mother has obtained permission from the Laureate's
publishers to reprint the following stanzas from "The Pale
Pink Raid":—

     "Wrong?  O of course it's heinous,
        But we're going, girls, you just bet!
      Do they think that the Wars of Wenus
        Can be stopped by an epithet?
      When the henpecked Earth-men pray us 
        To join them at afternoon tea,
      Not rhyme nor reason can stay us 
        From flying to set them free.

                *     *     *
      When the men on that hapless planet,
        Handsome and kind and true,
      Cry out, "Hurry up!"  O hang it!
        What else can a Wenus do?
      I suppose it was rather bad form, girls,
        But really we didn't care,
      For our planet was growing too warm, girls
        And we wanted a change of air.

                *     *     *
      Mrs. Grundy may go on snarling,
        But still, at the Judgment Day,
      The author of England's Darling
        I think won't give us away.
      We failed, but we chose to chance it,
        And as one of the beaten side,
      I 'd rather have made that transit
        Than written Jameson's Ride!"

                 THE END.