The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells (2022)

The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells

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Title: The Time Machine

Author: H. G. Wells

Release Date: July, 1992 [eBook #35]
[Most recently updated: October 22, 2020]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8

*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE TIME MACHINE ***

The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells (1)

An Invention

by H. G. Wells

CONTENTS

IIntroduction
IIThe Machine
IIIThe Time Traveller Returns
IVTime Travelling
VIn the Golden Age
VIThe Sunset of Mankind
VIIA Sudden Shock
VIIIExplanation
IXThe Morlocks
XWhen Night Came
XIThe Palace of Green Porcelain
XIIIn the Darkness
XIIIThe Trap of the White Sphinx
XIVThe Further Vision
XVThe Time Traveller’s Return
XVIAfter the Story
Epilogue

I.
Introduction

The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) wasexpounding a recondite matter to us. His pale grey eyes shone and twinkled, andhis usually pale face was flushed and animated. The fire burnt brightly,and the soft radiance of the incandescent lights in the lilies of silvercaught the bubbles that flashed and passed in our glasses. Our chairs,being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than submitted to be satupon, and there was that luxurious after-dinner atmosphere, when thoughtruns gracefully free of the trammels of precision. And he put it to us inthis way—marking the points with a lean forefinger—as we satand lazily admired his earnestness over this new paradox (as we thought it)and his fecundity.

“You must follow me carefully. I shall have to controvert one ortwo ideas that are almost universally accepted. The geometry, for instance,they taught you at school is founded on a misconception.”

“Is not that rather a large thing to expect us to beginupon?” said Filby, an argumentative person with red hair.

“I do not mean to ask you to accept anything without reasonableground for it. You will soon admit as much as I need from you. You know ofcourse that a mathematical line, a line of thickness nil, has noreal existence. They taught you that? Neither has a mathematical plane.These things are mere abstractions.”

“That is all right,” said the Psychologist.

“Nor, having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube havea real existence.”

“There I object,” said Filby. “Of course a solid bodymay exist. All real things—”

“So most people think. But wait a moment. Can aninstantaneous cube exist?”

“Don’t follow you,” said Filby.

“Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a realexistence?”

Filby became pensive. “Clearly,” the Time Travellerproceeded, “any real body must have extension in fourdirections: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and—Duration.But through a natural infirmity of the flesh, which I will explain to youin a moment, we incline to overlook this fact. There are really fourdimensions, three which we call the three planes of Space, and a fourth,Time. There is, however, a tendency to draw an unreal distinction betweenthe former three dimensions and the latter, because it happens that ourconsciousness moves intermittently in one direction along the latter fromthe beginning to the end of our lives.”

“That,” said a very young man, making spasmodic efforts torelight his cigar over the lamp; “that . . . very clearindeed.”

“Now, it is very remarkable that this is so extensivelyoverlooked,” continued the Time Traveller, with a slight accession ofcheerfulness. “Really this is what is meant by the Fourth Dimension,though some people who talk about the Fourth Dimension do not know theymean it. It is only another way of looking at Time. There is nodifference between Time and any of the three dimensions of Space exceptthat our consciousness moves along it. But some foolish people have gothold of the wrong side of that idea. You have all heard what they have tosay about this Fourth Dimension?”

I have not,” said the Provincial Mayor.

“It is simply this. That Space, as our mathematicians have it, isspoken of as having three dimensions, which one may call Length, Breadth,and Thickness, and is always definable by reference to three planes, eachat right angles to the others. But some philosophical people have beenasking why three dimensions particularly—why not anotherdirection at right angles to the other three?—and have even tried toconstruct a Four-Dimensional geometry. Professor Simon Newcomb was expoundingthis to the New York Mathematical Society only a month or so ago. You knowhow on a flat surface, which has only two dimensions, we can represent afigure of a three-dimensional solid, and similarly they think that bymodels of three dimensions they could represent one of four—if theycould master the perspective of the thing. See?”

“I think so,” murmured the Provincial Mayor; and, knittinghis brows, he lapsed into an introspective state, his lips moving as onewho repeats mystic words. “Yes, I think I see it now,” he saidafter some time, brightening in a quite transitory manner.

“Well, I do not mind telling you I have been at work upon thisgeometry of Four Dimensions for some time. Some of my results are curious.For instance, here is a portrait of a man at eight years old, another atfifteen, another at seventeen, another at twenty-three, and so on. Allthese are evidently sections, as it were, Three-Dimensional representationsof his Four-Dimensioned being, which is a fixed and unalterable thing.

“Scientific people,” proceeded the Time Traveller, after thepause required for the proper assimilation of this, “know very wellthat Time is only a kind of Space. Here is a popular scientific diagram, aweather record. This line I trace with my finger shows the movement of thebarometer. Yesterday it was so high, yesterday night it fell, then thismorning it rose again, and so gently upward to here. Surely the mercury didnot trace this line in any of the dimensions of Space generally recognised?But certainly it traced such a line, and that line, therefore, we mustconclude, was along the Time-Dimension.”

“But,” said the Medical Man, staring hard at a coal in thefire, “if Time is really only a fourth dimension of Space, why is it,and why has it always been, regarded as something different? And why cannotwe move in Time as we move about in the other dimensions ofSpace?”

The Time Traveller smiled. “Are you so sure we can move freely inSpace? Right and left we can go, backward and forward freely enough, andmen always have done so. I admit we move freely in two dimensions. But howabout up and down? Gravitation limits us there.”

“Not exactly,” said the Medical Man. “There areballoons.”

“But before the balloons, save for spasmodic jumping and theinequalities of the surface, man had no freedom of verticalmovement.”

“Still they could move a little up and down,” said theMedical Man.

“Easier, far easier down than up.”

“And you cannot move at all in Time, you cannot get away from thepresent moment.”

“My dear sir, that is just where you are wrong. That is just wherethe whole world has gone wrong. We are always getting away from the presentmoment. Our mental existences, which are immaterial and have no dimensions,are passing along the Time-Dimension with a uniform velocity from thecradle to the grave. Just as we should travel down if we began ourexistence fifty miles above the earth’s surface.”

“But the great difficulty is this,” interrupted thePsychologist. ’You can move about in all directions of Space,but you cannot move about in Time.”

“That is the germ of my great discovery. But you are wrong to saythat we cannot move about in Time. For instance, if I am recalling anincident very vividly I go back to the instant of its occurrence: I becomeabsent-minded, as you say. I jump back for a moment. Of course we have nomeans of staying back for any length of Time, any more than a savage or ananimal has of staying six feet above the ground. But a civilised man isbetter off than the savage in this respect. He can go up againstgravitation in a balloon, and why should he not hope that ultimately he maybe able to stop or accelerate his drift along the Time-Dimension, or eventurn about and travel the other way?”

“Oh, this,” began Filby, “isall—”

“Why not?” said the Time Traveller.

“It’s against reason,” said Filby.

“What reason?” said the Time Traveller.

“You can show black is white by argument,” said Filby,“but you will never convince me.”

“Possibly not,” said the Time Traveller. “But now youbegin to see the object of my investigations into the geometry of FourDimensions. Long ago I had a vague inkling of a machine—”

“To travel through Time!” exclaimed the Very Young Man.

“That shall travel indifferently in any direction of Space andTime, as the driver determines.”

Filby contented himself with laughter.

“But I have experimental verification,” said the TimeTraveller.

“It would be remarkably convenient for the historian,” thePsychologist suggested. “One might travel back and verify theaccepted account of the Battle of Hastings, for instance!”

“Don’t you think you would attract attention?” saidthe Medical Man. “Our ancestors had no great tolerance foranachronisms.”

“One might get one’s Greek from the very lips of Homer andPlato,” the Very Young Man thought.

“In which case they would certainly plough you for theLittle-go. The German scholars have improved Greek so much.”

“Then there is the future,” said the Very Young Man.“Just think! One might invest all one’s money, leave it toaccumulate at interest, and hurry on ahead!”

“To discover a society,” said I, “erected on astrictly communistic basis.”

“Of all the wild extravagant theories!” began thePsychologist.

“Yes, so it seemed to me, and so I never talked of ituntil—”

“Experimental verification!” cried I. “You are goingto verify that?”

“The experiment!” cried Filby, who was gettingbrain-weary.

“Let’s see your experiment anyhow,” said thePsychologist, “though it’s all humbug, you know.”

The Time Traveller smiled round at us. Then, still smiling faintly, andwith his hands deep in his trousers pockets, he walked slowly out of theroom, and we heard his slippers shuffling down the long passage to hislaboratory.

The Psychologist looked at us. “I wonder what he’sgot?”

“Some sleight-of-hand trick or other,” said the Medical Man,and Filby tried to tell us about a conjuror he had seen at Burslem, but beforehe had finished his preface the Time Traveller came back, and Filby’sanecdote collapsed.

II.
The Machine

The thing the Time Traveller held in his hand was a glittering metallicframework, scarcely larger than a small clock, and very delicately made.There was ivory in it, and some transparent crystalline substance. And nowI must be explicit, for this that follows—unless his explanation isto be accepted—is an absolutely unaccountable thing. He took one ofthe small octagonal tables that were scattered about the room, and set itin front of the fire, with two legs on the hearthrug. On this table heplaced the mechanism. Then he drew up a chair, and sat down. The only otherobject on the table was a small shaded lamp, the bright light of which fellupon the model. There were also perhaps a dozen candles about, two in brasscandlesticks upon the mantel and several in sconces, so that the room wasbrilliantly illuminated. I sat in a low arm-chair nearest the fire, and Idrew this forward so as to be almost between the Time Traveller and thefireplace. Filby sat behind him, looking over his shoulder. The Medical Manand the Provincial Mayor watched him in profile from the right, thePsychologist from the left. The Very Young Man stood behind thePsychologist. We were all on the alert. It appears incredible to me thatany kind of trick, however subtly conceived and however adroitly done,could have been played upon us under these conditions.

The Time Traveller looked at us, and then at the mechanism.“Well?” said the Psychologist.

“This little affair,” said the Time Traveller, resting hiselbows upon the table and pressing his hands together above the apparatus,“is only a model. It is my plan for a machine to travel through time.You will notice that it looks singularly askew, and that there is an oddtwinkling appearance about this bar, as though it was in some wayunreal.” He pointed to the part with his finger. “Also, here isone little white lever, and here is another.”

The Medical Man got up out of his chair and peered into the thing.“It’s beautifully made,” he said.

“It took two years to make,” retorted the Time Traveller.Then, when we had all imitated the action of the Medical Man, he said:“Now I want you clearly to understand that this lever, being pressedover, sends the machine gliding into the future, and this other reversesthe motion. This saddle represents the seat of a time traveller. PresentlyI am going to press the lever, and off the machine will go. It will vanish,pass into future Time, and disappear. Have a good look at the thing. Lookat the table too, and satisfy yourselves there is no trickery. Idon’t want to waste this model, and then be told I’m aquack.”

There was a minute’s pause perhaps. The Psychologist seemed aboutto speak to me, but changed his mind. Then the Time Traveller put forth hisfinger towards the lever. “No,” he said suddenly. “Lendme your hand.” And turning to the Psychologist, he took thatindividual’s hand in his own and told him to put out his forefinger.So that it was the Psychologist himself who sent forth the model TimeMachine on its interminable voyage. We all saw the lever turn. I amabsolutely certain there was no trickery. There was a breath of wind, andthe lamp flame jumped. One of the candles on the mantel was blown out, andthe little machine suddenly swung round, became indistinct, was seen as aghost for a second perhaps, as an eddy of faintly glittering brass andivory; and it was gone—vanished! Save for the lamp the table wasbare.

Everyone was silent for a minute. Then Filby said he was damned.

The Psychologist recovered from his stupor, and suddenly looked underthe table. At that the Time Traveller laughed cheerfully.“Well?” he said, with a reminiscence of the Psychologist. Then,getting up, he went to the tobacco jar on the mantel, and with his back tous began to fill his pipe.

We stared at each other. “Look here,” said the Medical Man,“are you in earnest about this? Do you seriously believe that thatmachine has travelled into time?”

“Certainly,” said the Time Traveller, stooping to light aspill at the fire. Then he turned, lighting his pipe, to look at thePsychologist’s face. (The Psychologist, to show that he was notunhinged, helped himself to a cigar and tried to light it uncut.)“What is more, I have a big machine nearly finished inthere”—he indicated the laboratory—“and when thatis put together I mean to have a journey on my own account.”

“You mean to say that that machine has travelled into thefuture?” said Filby.

“Into the future or the past—I don’t, for certain,know which.”

After an interval the Psychologist had an inspiration. “It musthave gone into the past if it has gone anywhere,” he said.

“Why?” said the Time Traveller.

“Because I presume that it has not moved in space, and if ittravelled into the future it would still be here all this time, since itmust have travelled through this time.”

“But,” said I, “If it travelled into the past it wouldhave been visible when we came first into this room; and last Thursday whenwe were here; and the Thursday before that; and so forth!”

“Serious objections,” remarked the Provincial Mayor, with anair of impartiality, turning towards the Time Traveller.

“Not a bit,” said the Time Traveller, and, to thePsychologist: “You think. You can explain that. It’spresentation below the threshold, you know, dilutedpresentation.”

“Of course,” said the Psychologist, and reassured us.“That’s a simple point of psychology. I should have thought ofit. It’s plain enough, and helps the paradox delightfully. We cannotsee it, nor can we appreciate this machine, any more than we can the spokeof a wheel spinning, or a bullet flying through the air. If it istravelling through time fifty times or a hundred times faster than we are,if it gets through a minute while we get through a second, the impressionit creates will of course be only one-fiftieth or one-hundredth of what itwould make if it were not travelling in time. That’s plainenough.” He passed his hand through the space in which the machinehad been. “You see?” he said, laughing.

We sat and stared at the vacant table for a minute or so. Then the TimeTraveller asked us what we thought of it all.

“It sounds plausible enough tonight,” said the Medical Man;“but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of themorning.”

“Would you like to see the Time Machine itself?” asked theTime Traveller. And therewith, taking the lamp in his hand, he led the waydown the long, draughty corridor to his laboratory. I remember vividly theflickering light, his queer, broad head in silhouette, the dance of theshadows, how we all followed him, puzzled but incredulous, and how there inthe laboratory we beheld a larger edition of the little mechanism which wehad seen vanish from before our eyes. Parts were of nickel, parts of ivory,parts had certainly been filed or sawn out of rock crystal. The thing wasgenerally complete, but the twisted crystalline bars lay unfinished uponthe bench beside some sheets of drawings, and I took one up for a betterlook at it. Quartz it seemed to be.

“Look here,” said the Medical Man, “are you perfectlyserious? Or is this a trick—like that ghost you showed us lastChristmas?”

“Upon that machine,” said the Time Traveller, holding thelamp aloft, “I intend to explore time. Is that plain? I was nevermore serious in my life.”

None of us quite knew how to take it.

I caught Filby’s eye over the shoulder of the Medical Man, and hewinked at me solemnly.

III.
The Time Traveller Returns

I think that at that time none of us quite believed in the Time Machine.The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those men who are too clever tobe believed: you never felt that you saw all round him; you alwayssuspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucidfrankness. Had Filby shown the model and explained the matter in the TimeTraveller’s words, we should have shown him far lessscepticism. For we should have perceived his motives: a pork-butcher couldunderstand Filby. But the Time Traveller had more than a touch of whimamong his elements, and we distrusted him. Things that would have made thefame of a less clever man seemed tricks in his hands. It is a mistake todo things too easily. The serious people who took him seriously never feltquite sure of his deportment; they were somehow aware that trusting theirreputations for judgment with him was like furnishing a nursery witheggshell china. So I don’t think any of us said very much about timetravelling in the interval between that Thursday and the next, though itsodd potentialities ran, no doubt, in most of our minds: its plausibility,that is, its practical incredibleness, the curious possibilities ofanachronism and of utter confusion it suggested. For my own part, I wasparticularly preoccupied with the trick of the model. That I rememberdiscussing with the Medical Man, whom I met on Friday at the Linnæan. Hesaid he had seen a similar thing at Tübingen, and laid considerable stresson the blowing-out of the candle. But how the trick was done he could notexplain.

The next Thursday I went again to Richmond—I suppose I was one ofthe Time Traveller’s most constant guests—and, arriving late,found four or five men already assembled in his drawing-room. The MedicalMan was standing before the fire with a sheet of paper in one hand and hiswatch in the other. I looked round for the Time Traveller,and—“It’s half-past seven now,” said the MedicalMan. “I suppose we’d better have dinner?”

“Where’s——?” said I, naming our host.

“You’ve just come? It’s rather odd. He’sunavoidably detained. He asks me in this note to lead off with dinner atseven if he’s not back. Says he’ll explain when hecomes.”

“It seems a pity to let the dinner spoil,” said the Editorof a well-known daily paper; and thereupon the Doctor rang the bell.

The Psychologist was the only person besides the Doctor and myself whohad attended the previous dinner. The other men were Blank, the Editoraforementioned, a certain journalist, and another—a quiet, shy manwith a beard—whom I didn’t know, and who, as far as myobservation went, never opened his mouth all the evening. There was somespeculation at the dinner-table about the Time Traveller’s absence,and I suggested time travelling, in a half-jocular spirit. The Editorwanted that explained to him, and the Psychologist volunteered a woodenaccount of the “ingenious paradox and trick” we had witnessedthat day week. He was in the midst of his exposition when the door from thecorridor opened slowly and without noise. I was facing the door, and saw itfirst. “Hallo!” I said. “At last!” And the dooropened wider, and the Time Traveller stood before us. I gave a cry ofsurprise. “Good heavens! man, what’s the matter?” criedthe Medical Man, who saw him next. And the whole tableful turned towardsthe door.

He was in an amazing plight. His coat was dusty and dirty, and smearedwith green down the sleeves; his hair disordered, and as it seemed to megreyer—either with dust and dirt or because its colour had actuallyfaded. His face was ghastly pale; his chin had a brown cut on it—acut half-healed; his expression was haggard and drawn, as by intensesuffering. For a moment he hesitated in the doorway, as if he had beendazzled by the light. Then he came into the room. He walked with just sucha limp as I have seen in footsore tramps. We stared at him in silence,expecting him to speak.

He said not a word, but came painfully to the table, and made a motiontowards the wine. The Editor filled a glass of champagne, and pushed ittowards him. He drained it, and it seemed to do him good: for he lookedround the table, and the ghost of his old smile flickered across his face.“What on earth have you been up to, man?” said the Doctor. TheTime Traveller did not seem to hear. “Don’t let me disturbyou,” he said, with a certain faltering articulation.“I’m all right.” He stopped, held out his glass for more,and took it off at a draught. “That’s good,” he said. Hiseyes grew brighter, and a faint colour came into his cheeks. His glanceflickered over our faces with a certain dull approval, and then went roundthe warm and comfortable room. Then he spoke again, still as it werefeeling his way among his words. “I’m going to wash and dress,and then I’ll come down and explain things.... Save me some of thatmutton. I’m starving for a bit of meat.”

He looked across at the Editor, who was a rare visitor, and hoped he wasall right. The Editor began a question. “Tell you presently,”said the Time Traveller. “I’m—funny! Be all right in aminute.”

He put down his glass, and walked towards the staircase door. Again Iremarked his lameness and the soft padding sound of his footfall, andstanding up in my place, I saw his feet as he went out. He had nothing onthem but a pair of tattered, blood-stained socks. Then the door closed uponhim. I had half a mind to follow, till I remembered how he detested anyfuss about himself. For a minute, perhaps, my mind was wool-gathering.Then, “Remarkable Behaviour of an Eminent Scientist,” I heardthe Editor say, thinking (after his wont) in headlines. And this brought myattention back to the bright dinner-table.

“What’s the game?” said the Journalist. “Has hebeen doing the Amateur Cadger? I don’t follow.” I met the eyeof the Psychologist, and read my own interpretation in his face. I thoughtof the Time Traveller limping painfully upstairs. I don’t thinkanyone else had noticed his lameness.

The first to recover completely from this surprise was the Medical Man,who rang the bell—the Time Traveller hated to have servants waitingat dinner—for a hot plate. At that the Editor turned to his knife andfork with a grunt, and the Silent Man followed suit. The dinner wasresumed. Conversation was exclamatory for a little while with gaps ofwonderment; and then the Editor got fervent in his curiosity. “Doesour friend eke out his modest income with a crossing? or has he hisNebuchadnezzar phases?” he inquired. “I feel assured it’sthis business of the Time Machine,” I said, and took up thePsychologist’s account of our previous meeting. The new guests werefrankly incredulous. The Editor raised objections. “What wasthis time travelling? A man couldn’t cover himself with dust byrolling in a paradox, could he?” And then, as the idea came home tohim, he resorted to caricature. Hadn’t they any clothes-brushes inthe Future? The Journalist too, would not believe at any price, and joinedthe Editor in the easy work of heaping ridicule on the whole thing. Theywere both the new kind of journalist—very joyous, irreverent youngmen. “Our Special Correspondent in the Day after Tomorrowreports,” the Journalist was saying—or rathershouting—when the Time Traveller came back. He was dressed inordinary evening clothes, and nothing save his haggard look remained of thechange that had startled me.

“I say,” said the Editor hilariously, “these chapshere say you have been travelling into the middle of next week! Tell us allabout little Rosebery, will you? What will you take for the lot?”

The Time Traveller came to the place reserved for him without a word. Hesmiled quietly, in his old way. “Where’s my mutton?” hesaid. “What a treat it is to stick a fork into meat again!”

“Story!” cried the Editor.

“Story be damned!” said the Time Traveller. “I wantsomething to eat. I won’t say a word until I get some peptone into myarteries. Thanks. And the salt.”

“One word,” said I. “Have you been timetravelling?”

“Yes,” said the Time Traveller, with his mouth full, noddinghis head.

“I’d give a shilling a line for a verbatim note,” saidthe Editor. The Time Traveller pushed his glass towards the Silent Man andrang it with his fingernail; at which the Silent Man, who had been staringat his face, started convulsively, and poured him wine. The rest of thedinner was uncomfortable. For my own part, sudden questions kept on risingto my lips, and I dare say it was the same with the others. The Journalisttried to relieve the tension by telling anecdotes of Hettie Potter. TheTime Traveller devoted his attention to his dinner, and displayed theappetite of a tramp. The Medical Man smoked a cigarette, and watched theTime Traveller through his eyelashes. The Silent Man seemed even moreclumsy than usual, and drank champagne with regularity and determinationout of sheer nervousness. At last the Time Traveller pushed his plate away,and looked round us. “I suppose I must apologise,” he said.“I was simply starving. I’ve had a most amazing time.” Hereached out his hand for a cigar, and cut the end. “But come into thesmoking-room. It’s too long a story to tell over greasyplates.” And ringing the bell in passing, he led the way into theadjoining room.

“You have told Blank, and Dash, and Chose about themachine?” he said to me, leaning back in his easy-chair and namingthe three new guests.

“But the thing’s a mere paradox,” said the Editor.

“I can’t argue tonight. I don’t mind telling you thestory, but I can’t argue. I will,” he went on, “tell youthe story of what has happened to me, if you like, but you must refrainfrom interruptions. I want to tell it. Badly. Most of it will sound likelying. So be it! It’s true—every word of it, all the same. Iwas in my laboratory at four o’clock, and since then … I’velived eight days … such days as no human being ever lived before! I’mnearly worn out, but I shan’t sleep till I’ve told this thingover to you. Then I shall go to bed. But no interruptions! Is itagreed?”

“Agreed,” said the Editor, and the rest of us echoed“Agreed.” And with that the Time Traveller began his story as Ihave set it forth. He sat back in his chair at first, and spoke like aweary man. Afterwards he got more animated. In writing it down I feel withonly too much keenness the inadequacy of pen and ink—and, above all,my own inadequacy—to express its quality. You read, I will suppose,attentively enough; but you cannot see the speaker’s white, sincereface in the bright circle of the little lamp, nor hear the intonation ofhis voice. You cannot know how his expression followed the turns of hisstory! Most of us hearers were in shadow, for the candles in thesmoking-room had not been lighted, and only the face of the Journalist andthe legs of the Silent Man from the knees downward were illuminated. Atfirst we glanced now and again at each other. After a time we ceased to dothat, and looked only at the Time Traveller’s face.

IV.
Time Travelling

>

“I told some of you last Thursday of the principles of the TimeMachine, and showed you the actual thing itself, incomplete in theworkshop. There it is now, a little travel-worn, truly; and one of theivory bars is cracked, and a brass rail bent; but the rest of it’ssound enough. I expected to finish it on Friday; but on Friday, when theputting together was nearly done, I found that one of the nickel bars wasexactly one inch too short, and this I had to get remade; so that the thingwas not complete until this morning. It was at ten o’clock todaythat the first of all Time Machines began its career. I gave it a last tap,tried all the screws again, put one more drop of oil on the quartz rod, andsat myself in the saddle. I suppose a suicide who holds a pistol to hisskull feels much the same wonder at what will come next as I felt then. Itook the starting lever in one hand and the stopping one in the other,pressed the first, and almost immediately the second. I seemed to reel; Ifelt a nightmare sensation of falling; and, looking round, I saw thelaboratory exactly as before. Had anything happened? For a moment Isuspected that my intellect had tricked me. Then I noted the clock. Amoment before, as it seemed, it had stood at a minute or so past ten; nowit was nearly half-past three!

“I drew a breath, set my teeth, gripped the starting lever withboth hands, and went off with a thud. The laboratory got hazy and wentdark. Mrs. Watchett came in and walked, apparently without seeing me,towards the garden door. I suppose it took her a minute or so to traversethe place, but to me she seemed to shoot across the room like a rocket. Ipressed the lever over to its extreme position. The night came like theturning out of a lamp, and in another moment came tomorrow. The laboratorygrew faint and hazy, then fainter and ever fainter. Tomorrow night cameblack, then day again, night again, day again, faster and faster still. Aneddying murmur filled my ears, and a strange, dumb confusedness descendedon my mind.

“I am afraid I cannot convey the peculiar sensations of timetravelling. They are excessively unpleasant. There is a feeling exactlylike that one has upon a switchback—of a helpless headlong motion! Ifelt the same horrible anticipation, too, of an imminent smash. As I put onpace, night followed day like the flapping of a black wing. The dimsuggestion of the laboratory seemed presently to fall away from me, and Isaw the sun hopping swiftly across the sky, leaping it every minute, andevery minute marking a day. I supposed the laboratory had been destroyedand I had come into the open air. I had a dim impression of scaffolding,but I was already going too fast to be conscious of any moving things. Theslowest snail that ever crawled dashed by too fast for me. The twinklingsuccession of darkness and light was excessively painful to the eye. Then,in the intermittent darknesses, I saw the moon spinning swiftly through herquarters from new to full, and had a faint glimpse of the circling stars.Presently, as I went on, still gaining velocity, the palpitation of nightand day merged into one continuous greyness; the sky took on a wonderfuldeepness of blue, a splendid luminous colour like that of early twilight;the jerking sun became a streak of fire, a brilliant arch, in space; themoon a fainter fluctuating band; and I could see nothing of the stars, savenow and then a brighter circle flickering in the blue.

“The landscape was misty and vague. I was still on the hillsideupon which this house now stands, and the shoulder rose above me grey anddim. I saw trees growing and changing like puffs of vapour, now brown, nowgreen; they grew, spread, shivered, and passed away. I saw huge buildingsrise up faint and fair, and pass like dreams. The whole surface of theearth seemed changed—melting and flowing under my eyes. The littlehands upon the dials that registered my speed raced round faster andfaster. Presently I noted that the sun belt swayed up and down, fromsolstice to solstice, in a minute or less, and that consequently my pacewas over a year a minute; and minute by minute the white snow flashedacross the world, and vanished, and was followed by the bright, brief greenof spring.

“The unpleasant sensations of the start were less poignant now.They merged at last into a kind of hysterical exhilaration. I remarked,indeed, a clumsy swaying of the machine, for which I was unable to account.But my mind was too confused to attend to it, so with a kind of madnessgrowing upon me, I flung myself into futurity. At first I scarce thought ofstopping, scarce thought of anything but these new sensations. Butpresently a fresh series of impressions grew up in my mind—a certaincuriosity and therewith a certain dread—until at last they tookcomplete possession of me. What strange developments of humanity, whatwonderful advances upon our rudimentary civilisation, I thought, might notappear when I came to look nearly into the dim elusive world that raced andfluctuated before my eyes! I saw great and splendid architecture risingabout me, more massive than any buildings of our own time, and yet, as itseemed, built of glimmer and mist. I saw a richer green flow up thehillside, and remain there, without any wintry intermission. Even throughthe veil of my confusion the earth seemed very fair. And so my mind cameround to the business of stopping.

“The peculiar risk lay in the possibility of my finding somesubstance in the space which I, or the machine, occupied. So long as Itravelled at a high velocity through time, this scarcely mattered: I was,so to speak, attenuated—was slipping like a vapour through theinterstices of intervening substances! But to come to a stop involved thejamming of myself, molecule by molecule, into whatever lay in my way; meantbringing my atoms into such intimate contact with those of the obstaclethat a profound chemical reaction—possibly a far-reachingexplosion—would result, and blow myself and my apparatus out of allpossible dimensions—into the Unknown. This possibility had occurredto me again and again while I was making the machine; but then I hadcheerfully accepted it as an unavoidable risk—one of the risks a manhas got to take! Now the risk was inevitable, I no longer saw it in thesame cheerful light. The fact is that, insensibly, the absolute strangenessof everything, the sickly jarring and swaying of the machine, above all,the feeling of prolonged falling, had absolutely upset my nerves. I toldmyself that I could never stop, and with a gust of petulance I resolved tostop forthwith. Like an impatient fool, I lugged over the lever, andincontinently the thing went reeling over, and I was flung headlong throughthe air.

“There was the sound of a clap of thunder in my ears. I may have beenstunned for a moment. A pitiless hail was hissing round me, and I wassitting on soft turf in front of the overset machine. Everything stillseemed grey, but presently I remarked that the confusion in my ears wasgone. I looked round me. I was on what seemed to be a little lawn in agarden, surrounded by rhododendron bushes, and I noticed that their mauveand purple blossoms were dropping in a shower under the beating of thehailstones. The rebounding, dancing hail hung in a little cloud over themachine, and drove along the ground like smoke. In a moment I was wet tothe skin. ‘Fine hospitality,’ said I, ‘to a man who hastravelled innumerable years to see you.’

“Presently I thought what a fool I was to get wet. I stood up andlooked round me. A colossal figure, carved apparently in some white stone,loomed indistinctly beyond the rhododendrons through the hazy downpour. Butall else of the world was invisible.

“My sensations would be hard to describe. As the columns of hailgrew thinner, I saw the white figure more distinctly. It was very large,for a silver birch-tree touched its shoulder. It was of white marble, inshape something like a winged sphinx, but the wings, instead of beingcarried vertically at the sides, were spread so that it seemed to hover.The pedestal, it appeared to me, was of bronze, and was thick withverdigris. It chanced that the face was towards me; the sightless eyesseemed to watch me; there was the faint shadow of a smile on the lips. Itwas greatly weather-worn, and that imparted an unpleasant suggestion ofdisease. I stood looking at it for a little space—half a minute,perhaps, or half an hour. It seemed to advance and to recede as the haildrove before it denser or thinner. At last I tore my eyes from it for amoment, and saw that the hail curtain had worn threadbare, and that the skywas lightening with the promise of the sun.

“I looked up again at the crouching white shape, and the fulltemerity of my voyage came suddenly upon me. What might appear when thathazy curtain was altogether withdrawn? What might not have happened to men?What if cruelty had grown into a common passion? What if in this intervalthe race had lost its manliness, and had developed into something inhuman,unsympathetic, and overwhelmingly powerful? I might seem some old-worldsavage animal, only the more dreadful and disgusting for our commonlikeness—a foul creature to be incontinently slain.

“Already I saw other vast shapes—huge buildings withintricate parapets and tall columns, with a wooded hillside dimly creepingin upon me through the lessening storm. I was seized with a panic fear. Iturned frantically to the Time Machine, and strove hard to readjust it. AsI did so the shafts of the sun smote through the thunderstorm. The greydownpour was swept aside and vanished like the trailing garments of aghost. Above me, in the intense blue of the summer sky, some faint brownshreds of cloud whirled into nothingness. The great buildings about mestood out clear and distinct, shining with the wet of the thunderstorm, andpicked out in white by the unmelted hailstones piled along their courses. Ifelt naked in a strange world. I felt as perhaps a bird may feel in theclear air, knowing the hawk wings above and will swoop. My fear grew tofrenzy. I took a breathing space, set my teeth, and again grappledfiercely, wrist and knee, with the machine. It gave under my desperateonset and turned over. It struck my chin violently. One hand on the saddle,the other on the lever, I stood panting heavily in attitude to mountagain.

“But with this recovery of a prompt retreat my courage recovered.I looked more curiously and less fearfully at this world of the remotefuture. In a circular opening, high up in the wall of the nearer house, Isaw a group of figures clad in rich soft robes. They had seen me, and theirfaces were directed towards me.

“Then I heard voices approaching me. Coming through the bushes bythe White Sphinx were the heads and shoulders of men running. One of theseemerged in a pathway leading straight to the little lawn upon which I stoodwith my machine. He was a slight creature—perhaps four feethigh—clad in a purple tunic, girdled at the waist with a leatherbelt. Sandals or buskins—I could not clearly distinguishwhich—were on his feet; his legs were bare to the knees, and his headwas bare. Noticing that, I noticed for the first time how warm the airwas.

“He struck me as being a very beautiful and graceful creature, butindescribably frail. His flushed face reminded me of the more beautifulkind of consumptive—that hectic beauty of which we used to hear somuch. At the sight of him I suddenly regained confidence. I took my handsfrom the machine.

V.
In the Golden Age

“In another moment we were standing face to face, I and thisfragile thing out of futurity. He came straight up to me and laughed intomy eyes. The absence from his bearing of any sign of fear struck me atonce. Then he turned to the two others who were following him and spoke tothem in a strange and very sweet and liquid tongue.

“There were others coming, and presently a little group of perhapseight or ten of these exquisite creatures were about me. One of themaddressed me. It came into my head, oddly enough, that my voice was tooharsh and deep for them. So I shook my head, and, pointing to my ears,shook it again. He came a step forward, hesitated, and then touched myhand. Then I felt other soft little tentacles upon my back and shoulders.They wanted to make sure I was real. There was nothing in this at allalarming. Indeed, there was something in these pretty little people thatinspired confidence—a graceful gentleness, a certain childlike ease.And besides, they looked so frail that I could fancy myself flinging thewhole dozen of them about like ninepins. But I made a sudden motion towarn them when I saw their little pink hands feeling at the Time Machine.Happily then, when it was not too late, I thought of a danger I hadhitherto forgotten, and reaching over the bars of the machine I unscrewedthe little levers that would set it in motion, and put these in my pocket.Then I turned again to see what I could do in the way of communication.

“And then, looking more nearly into their features, I saw somefurther peculiarities in their Dresden china type of prettiness. Theirhair, which was uniformly curly, came to a sharp end at the neck and cheek;there was not the faintest suggestion of it on the face, and their earswere singularly minute. The mouths were small, with bright red, rather thinlips, and the little chins ran to a point. The eyes were large and mild;and—this may seem egotism on my part—I fancied even that therewas a certain lack of the interest I might have expected in them.

“As they made no effort to communicate with me, but simply stoodround me smiling and speaking in soft cooing notes to each other, I beganthe conversation. I pointed to the Time Machine and to myself. Then,hesitating for a moment how to express Time, I pointed to the sun. At oncea quaintly pretty little figure in chequered purple and white followed mygesture, and then astonished me by imitating the sound of thunder.

“For a moment I was staggered, though the import of his gesturewas plain enough. The question had come into my mind abruptly: were thesecreatures fools? You may hardly understand how it took me. You see, I hadalways anticipated that the people of the year Eight Hundred and TwoThousand odd would be incredibly in front of us in knowledge, art,everything. Then one of them suddenly asked me a question that showed himto be on the intellectual level of one of our five-year-oldchildren—asked me, in fact, if I had come from the sun in athunderstorm! It let loose the judgment I had suspended upon their clothes,their frail light limbs, and fragile features. A flow of disappointmentrushed across my mind. For a moment I felt that I had built the TimeMachine in vain.

“I nodded, pointed to the sun, and gave them such a vividrendering of a thunderclap as startled them. They all withdrew a pace or soand bowed. Then came one laughing towards me, carrying a chain of beautifulflowers altogether new to me, and put it about my neck. The idea wasreceived with melodious applause; and presently they were all running toand fro for flowers, and laughingly flinging them upon me until I wasalmost smothered with blossom. You who have never seen the like canscarcely imagine what delicate and wonderful flowers countless years ofculture had created. Then someone suggested that their plaything should beexhibited in the nearest building, and so I was led past the sphinx ofwhite marble, which had seemed to watch me all the while with a smile at myastonishment, towards a vast grey edifice of fretted stone. As I went withthem the memory of my confident anticipations of a profoundly grave andintellectual posterity came, with irresistible merriment, to my mind.

“The building had a huge entry, and was altogether of colossaldimensions. I was naturally most occupied with the growing crowd of littlepeople, and with the big open portals that yawned before me shadowy andmysterious. My general impression of the world I saw over their heads was atangled waste of beautiful bushes and flowers, a long neglected and yetweedless garden. I saw a number of tall spikes of strange white flowers,measuring a foot perhaps across the spread of the waxen petals. They grewscattered, as if wild, among the variegated shrubs, but, as I say, I didnot examine them closely at this time. The Time Machine was left desertedon the turf among the rhododendrons.

“The arch of the doorway was richly carved, but naturally I didnot observe the carving very narrowly, though I fancied I saw suggestionsof old Phœnician decorations as I passed through, and it struck me thatthey were very badly broken and weather-worn. Several more brightly cladpeople met me in the doorway, and so we entered, I, dressed in dingynineteenth-century garments, looking grotesque enough, garlanded withflowers, and surrounded by an eddying mass of bright, soft-coloured robesand shining white limbs, in a melodious whirl of laughter and laughingspeech.

“The big doorway opened into a proportionately great hall hungwith brown. The roof was in shadow, and the windows, partially glazed withcoloured glass and partially unglazed, admitted a tempered light. The floorwas made up of huge blocks of some very hard white metal, not plates norslabs—blocks, and it was so much worn, as I judged by the going toand fro of past generations, as to be deeply channelled along the morefrequented ways. Transverse to the length were innumerable tables made ofslabs of polished stone, raised, perhaps, a foot from the floor, and uponthese were heaps of fruits. Some I recognised as a kind of hypertrophiedraspberry and orange, but for the most part they were strange.

“Between the tables was scattered a great number of cushions. Uponthese my conductors seated themselves, signing for me to do likewise. Witha pretty absence of ceremony they began to eat the fruit with their hands,flinging peel and stalks, and so forth, into the round openings in thesides of the tables. I was not loath to follow their example, for I feltthirsty and hungry. As I did so I surveyed the hall at my leisure.

“And perhaps the thing that struck me most was its dilapidatedlook. The stained-glass windows, which displayed only a geometricalpattern, were broken in many places, and the curtains that hung across thelower end were thick with dust. And it caught my eye that the corner of themarble table near me was fractured. Nevertheless, the general effect wasextremely rich and picturesque. There were, perhaps, a couple of hundredpeople dining in the hall, and most of them, seated as near to me as theycould come, were watching me with interest, their little eyes shining overthe fruit they were eating. All were clad in the same soft, and yet strong,silky material.

“Fruit, by the bye, was all their diet. These people of the remotefuture were strict vegetarians, and while I was with them, in spite of somecarnal cravings, I had to be frugivorous also. Indeed, I found afterwardsthat horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, had followed the Ichthyosaurus intoextinction. But the fruits were very delightful; one, in particular, thatseemed to be in season all the time I was there—a floury thing in athree-sided husk—was especially good, and I made it my staple. Atfirst I was puzzled by all these strange fruits, and by the strange flowersI saw, but later I began to perceive their import.

“However, I am telling you of my fruit dinner in the distant futurenow. So soon as my appetite was a little checked, I determined to make aresolute attempt to learn the speech of these new men of mine. Clearly thatwas the next thing to do. The fruits seemed a convenient thing to beginupon, and holding one of these up I began a series of interrogative soundsand gestures. I had some considerable difficulty in conveying my meaning.At first my efforts met with a stare of surprise or inextinguishablelaughter, but presently a fair-haired little creature seemed to grasp myintention and repeated a name. They had to chatter and explain the businessat great length to each other, and my first attempts to make the exquisitelittle sounds of their language caused an immense amount of genuine, ifuncivil, amusement. However, I felt like a schoolmaster amidst children,and persisted, and presently I had a score of noun substantives at least atmy command; and then I got to demonstrative pronouns, and even the verb‘to eat.’ But it was slow work, and the little people soontired and wanted to get away from my interrogations, so I determined,rather of necessity, to let them give their lessons in little doses whenthey felt inclined. And very little doses I found they were before long,for I never met people more indolent or more easily fatigued.

VI.
The Sunset of Mankind

“A queer thing I soon discovered about my little hosts, and thatwas their lack of interest. They would come to me with eager cries ofastonishment, like children, but, like children they would soon stopexamining me, and wander away after some other toy. The dinner and myconversational beginnings ended, I noted for the first time that almost allthose who had surrounded me at first were gone. It is odd, too, howspeedily I came to disregard these little people. I went out through theportal into the sunlit world again as soon as my hunger was satisfied. Iwas continually meeting more of these men of the future, who would followme a little distance, chatter and laugh about me, and, having smiled andgesticulated in a friendly way, leave me again to my own devices.

“The calm of evening was upon the world as I emerged from thegreat hall, and the scene was lit by the warm glow of the setting sun. Atfirst things were very confusing. Everything was so entirely different fromthe world I had known—even the flowers. The big building I had leftwas situated on the slope of a broad river valley, but the Thames hadshifted, perhaps, a mile from its present position. I resolved to mount tothe summit of a crest, perhaps a mile and a half away, from which I couldget a wider view of this our planet in the year Eight Hundred and TwoThousand Seven Hundred and One, A.D. For that, I should explain, was thedate the little dials of my machine recorded.

“As I walked I was watching for every impression that couldpossibly help to explain the condition of ruinous splendour in which Ifound the world—for ruinous it was. A little way up the hill, forinstance, was a great heap of granite, bound together by masses ofaluminium, a vast labyrinth of precipitous walls and crumpled heaps, amidstwhich were thick heaps of very beautiful pagoda-like plants—nettlespossibly—but wonderfully tinted with brown about the leaves, andincapable of stinging. It was evidently the derelict remains of some vaststructure, to what end built I could not determine. It was here that I wasdestined, at a later date, to have a very strange experience—thefirst intimation of a still stranger discovery—but of that I willspeak in its proper place.

“Looking round, with a sudden thought, from a terrace on which Irested for a while, I realised that there were no small houses to be seen.Apparently the single house, and possibly even the household, had vanished.Here and there among the greenery were palace-like buildings, but the houseand the cottage, which form such characteristic features of our own Englishlandscape, had disappeared.

“‘Communism,’ said I to myself.

“And on the heels of that came another thought. I looked at thehalf-dozen little figures that were following me. Then, in a flash, Iperceived that all had the same form of costume, the same soft hairlessvisage, and the same girlish rotundity of limb. It may seem strange,perhaps, that I had not noticed this before. But everything was so strange.Now, I saw the fact plainly enough. In costume, and in all the differencesof texture and bearing that now mark off the sexes from each other, thesepeople of the future were alike. And the children seemed to my eyes to bebut the miniatures of their parents. I judged then that the children ofthat time were extremely precocious, physically at least, and I foundafterwards abundant verification of my opinion.

“Seeing the ease and security in which these people were living, Ifelt that this close resemblance of the sexes was after all what one wouldexpect; for the strength of a man and the softness of a woman, theinstitution of the family, and the differentiation of occupations are meremilitant necessities of an age of physical force. Where population isbalanced and abundant, much childbearing becomes an evil rather than ablessing to the State; where violence comes but rarely and offspring aresecure, there is less necessity—indeed there is nonecessity—for an efficient family, and the specialisation of thesexes with reference to their children’s needs disappears. We seesome beginnings of this even in our own time, and in this future age it wascomplete. This, I must remind you, was my speculation at the time. Later, Iwas to appreciate how far it fell short of the reality.

“While I was musing upon these things, my attention was attractedby a pretty little structure, like a well under a cupola. I thought in atransitory way of the oddness of wells still existing, and then resumed thethread of my speculations. There were no large buildings towards the top ofthe hill, and as my walking powers were evidently miraculous, I waspresently left alone for the first time. With a strange sense of freedomand adventure I pushed on up to the crest.

“There I found a seat of some yellow metal that I did notrecognise, corroded in places with a kind of pinkish rust and halfsmothered in soft moss, the arm-rests cast and filed into the resemblanceof griffins’ heads. I sat down on it, and I surveyed the broad viewof our old world under the sunset of that long day. It was as sweet andfair a view as I have ever seen. The sun had already gone below the horizonand the west was flaming gold, touched with some horizontal bars of purpleand crimson. Below was the valley of the Thames, in which the river laylike a band of burnished steel. I have already spoken of the great palacesdotted about among the variegated greenery, some in ruins and some stilloccupied. Here and there rose a white or silvery figure in the waste gardenof the earth, here and there came the sharp vertical line of some cupola orobelisk. There were no hedges, no signs of proprietary rights, no evidencesof agriculture; the whole earth had become a garden.

“So watching, I began to put my interpretation upon the things Ihad seen, and as it shaped itself to me that evening, my interpretation wassomething in this way. (Afterwards I found I had got only ahalf truth—or only a glimpse of one facet of the truth.)

“It seemed to me that I had happened upon humanity upon the wane.The ruddy sunset set me thinking of the sunset of mankind. For the firsttime I began to realise an odd consequence of the social effort in which weare at present engaged. And yet, come to think, it is a logical consequenceenough. Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium onfeebleness. The work of ameliorating the conditions of life—the truecivilising process that makes life more and more secure—had gonesteadily on to a climax. One triumph of a united humanity over Nature hadfollowed another. Things that are now mere dreams had become projectsdeliberately put in hand and carried forward. And the harvest was what Isaw!

“After all, the sanitation and the agriculture of today are stillin the rudimentary stage. The science of our time has attacked but a littledepartment of the field of human disease, but, even so, it spreads itsoperations very steadily and persistently. Our agriculture and horticulturedestroy a weed just here and there and cultivate perhaps a score or so ofwholesome plants, leaving the greater number to fight out a balance as theycan. We improve our favourite plants and animals—and how few theyare—gradually by selective breeding; now a new and better peach, nowa seedless grape, now a sweeter and larger flower, now a more convenientbreed of cattle. We improve them gradually, because our ideals are vagueand tentative, and our knowledge is very limited; because Nature, too, isshy and slow in our clumsy hands. Some day all this will be betterorganised, and still better. That is the drift of the current in spite ofthe eddies. The whole world will be intelligent, educated, andco-operating; things will move faster and faster towards the subjugation ofNature. In the end, wisely and carefully we shall readjust the balance ofanimal and vegetable life to suit our human needs.

“This adjustment, I say, must have been done, and done well; doneindeed for all Time, in the space of Time across which my machine hadleapt. The air was free from gnats, the earth from weeds or fungi;everywhere were fruits and sweet and delightful flowers; brilliantbutterflies flew hither and thither. The ideal of preventive medicine wasattained. Diseases had been stamped out. I saw no evidence of anycontagious diseases during all my stay. And I shall have to tell you laterthat even the processes of putrefaction and decay had been profoundlyaffected by these changes.

“Social triumphs, too, had been effected. I saw mankind housed insplendid shelters, gloriously clothed, and as yet I had found them engagedin no toil. There were no signs of struggle, neither social nor economicalstruggle. The shop, the advertisement, traffic, all that commerce whichconstitutes the body of our world, was gone. It was natural on that goldenevening that I should jump at the idea of a social paradise. The difficultyof increasing population had been met, I guessed, and population had ceasedto increase.

“But with this change in condition comes inevitably adaptations tothe change. What, unless biological science is a mass of errors, is thecause of human intelligence and vigour? Hardship and freedom: conditionsunder which the active, strong, and subtle survive and the weaker go to thewall; conditions that put a premium upon the loyal alliance of capable men,upon self-restraint, patience, and decision. And the institution of thefamily, and the emotions that arise therein, the fierce jealousy, thetenderness for offspring, parental self-devotion, all found theirjustification and support in the imminent dangers of the young. Now,where are these imminent dangers? There is a sentiment arising, and it willgrow, against connubial jealousy, against fierce maternity, against passionof all sorts; unnecessary things now, and things that make usuncomfortable, savage survivals, discords in a refined and pleasantlife.

“I thought of the physical slightness of the people, their lack ofintelligence, and those big abundant ruins, and it strengthened my beliefin a perfect conquest of Nature. For after the battle comes Quiet. Humanityhad been strong, energetic, and intelligent, and had used all its abundantvitality to alter the conditions under which it lived. And now came thereaction of the altered conditions.

“Under the new conditions of perfect comfort and security, thatrestless energy, that with us is strength, would become weakness. Even inour own time certain tendencies and desires, once necessary to survival,are a constant source of failure. Physical courage and the love of battle,for instance, are no great help—may even be hindrances—to acivilised man. And in a state of physical balance and security, power,intellectual as well as physical, would be out of place. For countlessyears I judged there had been no danger of war or solitary violence, nodanger from wild beasts, no wasting disease to require strength ofconstitution, no need of toil. For such a life, what we should call theweak are as well equipped as the strong, are indeed no longer weak. Betterequipped indeed they are, for the strong would be fretted by an energy forwhich there was no outlet. No doubt the exquisite beauty of the buildings Isaw was the outcome of the last surgings of the now purposeless energy ofmankind before it settled down into perfect harmony with the conditionsunder which it lived—the flourish of that triumph which began thelast great peace. This has ever been the fate of energy in security; ittakes to art and to eroticism, and then come languor and decay.

“Even this artistic impetus would at last die away—hadalmost died in the Time I saw. To adorn themselves with flowers, to dance,to sing in the sunlight: so much was left of the artistic spirit, and nomore. Even that would fade in the end into a contented inactivity. We arekept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity, and it seemed to methat here was that hateful grindstone broken at last!

“As I stood there in the gathering dark I thought that in thissimple explanation I had mastered the problem of the world—masteredthe whole secret of these delicious people. Possibly the checks they haddevised for the increase of population had succeeded too well, and theirnumbers had rather diminished than kept stationary. That would account forthe abandoned ruins. Very simple was my explanation, and plausibleenough—as most wrong theories are!

VII.
A Sudden Shock

“As I stood there musing over this too perfect triumph of man, thefull moon, yellow and gibbous, came up out of an overflow of silver lightin the north-east. The bright little figures ceased to move about below, anoiseless owl flitted by, and I shivered with the chill of the night. Idetermined to descend and find where I could sleep.

“I looked for the building I knew. Then my eye travelled along tothe figure of the White Sphinx upon the pedestal of bronze, growingdistinct as the light of the rising moon grew brighter. I could see thesilver birch against it. There was the tangle of rhododendron bushes, blackin the pale light, and there was the little lawn. I looked at the lawnagain. A queer doubt chilled my complacency. ‘No,’ said I stoutly tomyself, ‘that was not the lawn.’

“But it was the lawn. For the white leprous face of thesphinx was towards it. Can you imagine what I felt as this conviction camehome to me? But you cannot. The Time Machine was gone!

“At once, like a lash across the face, came the possibility oflosing my own age, of being left helpless in this strange new world. Thebare thought of it was an actual physical sensation. I could feel it gripme at the throat and stop my breathing. In another moment I was in apassion of fear and running with great leaping strides down the slope. OnceI fell headlong and cut my face; I lost no time in stanching the blood, butjumped up and ran on, with a warm trickle down my cheek and chin. All thetime I ran I was saying to myself: ‘They have moved it a little, pushed itunder the bushes out of the way.’ Nevertheless, I ran with all my might.All the time, with the certainty that sometimes comes with excessive dread,I knew that such assurance was folly, knew instinctively that the machinewas removed out of my reach. My breath came with pain. I suppose I coveredthe whole distance from the hill crest to the little lawn, two milesperhaps, in ten minutes. And I am not a young man. I cursed aloud, as Iran, at my confident folly in leaving the machine, wasting good breaththereby. I cried aloud, and none answered. Not a creature seemed to bestirring in that moonlit world.

“When I reached the lawn my worst fears were realised. Not a traceof the thing was to be seen. I felt faint and cold when I faced the emptyspace among the black tangle of bushes. I ran round it furiously, as if thething might be hidden in a corner, and then stopped abruptly, with my handsclutching my hair. Above me towered the sphinx, upon the bronze pedestal,white, shining, leprous, in the light of the rising moon. It seemed tosmile in mockery of my dismay.

“I might have consoled myself by imagining the little people hadput the mechanism in some shelter for me, had I not felt assured of theirphysical and intellectual inadequacy. That is what dismayed me: the senseof some hitherto unsuspected power, through whose intervention my inventionhad vanished. Yet, for one thing I felt assured: unless some other age hadproduced its exact duplicate, the machine could not have moved in time. Theattachment of the levers—I will show you the methodlater—prevented anyone from tampering with it in that way when theywere removed. It had moved, and was hid, only in space. But then, wherecould it be?

“I think I must have had a kind of frenzy. I remember runningviolently in and out among the moonlit bushes all round the sphinx, andstartling some white animal that, in the dim light, I took for a smalldeer. I remember, too, late that night, beating the bushes with my clenchedfist until my knuckles were gashed and bleeding from the broken twigs.Then, sobbing and raving in my anguish of mind, I went down to the greatbuilding of stone. The big hall was dark, silent, and deserted. I slippedon the uneven floor, and fell over one of the malachite tables, almostbreaking my shin. I lit a match and went on past the dusty curtains, ofwhich I have told you.

“There I found a second great hall covered with cushions, uponwhich, perhaps, a score or so of the little people were sleeping. I have nodoubt they found my second appearance strange enough, coming suddenly outof the quiet darkness with inarticulate noises and the splutter and flareof a match. For they had forgotten about matches. ‘Where is my TimeMachine?’ I began, bawling like an angry child, laying hands upon them andshaking them up together. It must have been very queer to them. Somelaughed, most of them looked sorely frightened. When I saw them standinground me, it came into my head that I was doing as foolish a thing as itwas possible for me to do under the circumstances, in trying to revive thesensation of fear. For, reasoning from their daylight behaviour, I thoughtthat fear must be forgotten.

“Abruptly, I dashed down the match, and knocking one of the peopleover in my course, went blundering across the big dining-hall again, outunder the moonlight. I heard cries of terror and their little feet runningand stumbling this way and that. I do not remember all I did as the mooncrept up the sky. I suppose it was the unexpected nature of my loss thatmaddened me. I felt hopelessly cut off from my own kind—a strangeanimal in an unknown world. I must have raved to and fro, screaming andcrying upon God and Fate. I have a memory of horrible fatigue, as the longnight of despair wore away; of looking in this impossible place and that;of groping among moonlit ruins and touching strange creatures in the blackshadows; at last, of lying on the ground near the sphinx and weeping withabsolute wretchedness, even anger at the folly of leaving the machinehaving leaked away with my strength. I had nothing left but misery. Then Islept, and when I woke again it was full day, and a couple of sparrows werehopping round me on the turf within reach of my arm.

“I sat up in the freshness of the morning, trying to remember how Ihad got there, and why I had such a profound sense of desertion anddespair. Then things came clear in my mind. With the plain, reasonabledaylight, I could look my circumstances fairly in the face. I saw the wildfolly of my frenzy overnight, and I could reason with myself.‘Suppose the worst?’ I said. ‘Suppose the machinealtogether lost—perhaps destroyed? It behoves me to be calm andpatient, to learn the way of the people, to get a clear idea of the methodof my loss, and the means of getting materials and tools; so that in theend, perhaps, I may make another.’ That would be my only hope, a poorhope, perhaps, but better than despair. And, after all, it was a beautifuland curious world.

“But probably the machine had only been taken away. Still, I mustbe calm and patient, find its hiding-place, and recover it by force orcunning. And with that I scrambled to my feet and looked about me,wondering where I could bathe. I felt weary, stiff, and travel-soiled. Thefreshness of the morning made me desire an equal freshness. I had exhaustedmy emotion. Indeed, as I went about my business, I found myself wonderingat my intense excitement overnight. I made a careful examination of theground about the little lawn. I wasted some time in futile questionings,conveyed, as well as I was able, to such of the little people as came by.They all failed to understand my gestures; some were simply stolid, somethought it was a jest and laughed at me. I had the hardest task in theworld to keep my hands off their pretty laughing faces. It was a foolishimpulse, but the devil begotten of fear and blind anger was ill curbed andstill eager to take advantage of my perplexity. The turf gave bettercounsel. I found a groove ripped in it, about midway between the pedestalof the sphinx and the marks of my feet where, on arrival, I had struggledwith the overturned machine. There were other signs of removal about, withqueer narrow footprints like those I could imagine made by a sloth. Thisdirected my closer attention to the pedestal. It was, as I think I havesaid, of bronze. It was not a mere block, but highly decorated with deepframed panels on either side. I went and rapped at these. The pedestal washollow. Examining the panels with care I found them discontinuous with theframes. There were no handles or keyholes, but possibly the panels, if theywere doors, as I supposed, opened from within. One thing was clear enoughto my mind. It took no very great mental effort to infer that my TimeMachine was inside that pedestal. But how it got there was a differentproblem.

“I saw the heads of two orange-clad people coming through thebushes and under some blossom-covered apple-trees towards me. I turnedsmiling to them, and beckoned them to me. They came, and then, pointing tothe bronze pedestal, I tried to intimate my wish to open it. But at myfirst gesture towards this they behaved very oddly. I don’t know howto convey their expression to you. Suppose you were to use a grosslyimproper gesture to a delicate-minded woman—it is how she would look.They went off as if they had received the last possible insult. I tried asweet-looking little chap in white next, with exactly the same result.Somehow, his manner made me feel ashamed of myself. But, as you know, Iwanted the Time Machine, and I tried him once more. As he turned off, likethe others, my temper got the better of me. In three strides I was afterhim, had him by the loose part of his robe round the neck, and begandragging him towards the sphinx. Then I saw the horror and repugnance ofhis face, and all of a sudden I let him go.

“But I was not beaten yet. I banged with my fist at the bronzepanels. I thought I heard something stir inside—to be explicit, Ithought I heard a sound like a chuckle—but I must have been mistaken.Then I got a big pebble from the river, and came and hammered till I hadflattened a coil in the decorations, and the verdigris came off in powderyflakes. The delicate little people must have heard me hammering in gustyoutbreaks a mile away on either hand, but nothing came of it. I saw a crowdof them upon the slopes, looking furtively at me. At last, hot and tired, Isat down to watch the place. But I was too restless to watch long; I am tooOccidental for a long vigil. I could work at a problem for years, but towait inactive for twenty-four hours—that is another matter.

“I got up after a time, and began walking aimlessly through thebushes towards the hill again. ‘Patience,’ said I to myself.‘If you want your machine again you must leave that sphinx alone. Ifthey mean to take your machine away, it’s little good your wreckingtheir bronze panels, and if they don’t, you will get it back as soonas you can ask for it. To sit among all those unknown things before apuzzle like that is hopeless. That way lies monomania. Face this world.Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning.In the end you will find clues to it all.’ Then suddenly the humourof the situation came into my mind: the thought of the years I had spent instudy and toil to get into the future age, and now my passion of anxiety toget out of it. I had made myself the most complicated and the most hopelesstrap that ever a man devised. Although it was at my own expense, I couldnot help myself. I laughed aloud.

“Going through the big palace, it seemed to me that the littlepeople avoided me. It may have been my fancy, or it may have had somethingto do with my hammering at the gates of bronze. Yet I felt tolerably sureof the avoidance. I was careful, however, to show no concern and to abstainfrom any pursuit of them, and in the course of a day or two things got backto the old footing. I made what progress I could in the language, and inaddition I pushed my explorations here and there. Either I missed somesubtle point or their language was excessively simple—almostexclusively composed of concrete substantives and verbs. There seemed to befew, if any, abstract terms, or little use of figurative language. Theirsentences were usually simple and of two words, and I failed to convey orunderstand any but the simplest propositions. I determined to put thethought of my Time Machine and the mystery of the bronze doors under thesphinx, as much as possible in a corner of memory, until my growingknowledge would lead me back to them in a natural way. Yet a certainfeeling, you may understand, tethered me in a circle of a few miles roundthe point of my arrival.

VIII.
Explanation

“So far as I could see, all the world displayed the same exuberantrichness as the Thames valley. From every hill I climbed I saw the sameabundance of splendid buildings, endlessly varied in material and style,the same clustering thickets of evergreens, the same blossom-laden treesand tree ferns. Here and there water shone like silver, and beyond, theland rose into blue undulating hills, and so faded into the serenity of thesky. A peculiar feature, which presently attracted my attention, was thepresence of certain circular wells, several, as it seemed to me, of a verygreat depth. One lay by the path up the hill which I had followed duringmy first walk. Like the others, it was rimmed with bronze, curiouslywrought, and protected by a little cupola from the rain. Sitting by theside of these wells, and peering down into the shafted darkness, I couldsee no gleam of water, nor could I start any reflection with a lightedmatch. But in all of them I heard a certain sound: athud—thud—thud, like the beating of some big engine; and Idiscovered, from the flaring of my matches, that a steady current of airset down the shafts. Further, I threw a scrap of paper into the throat ofone, and, instead of fluttering slowly down, it was at once sucked swiftlyout of sight.

“After a time, too, I came to connect these wells with tall towersstanding here and there upon the slopes; for above them there was oftenjust such a flicker in the air as one sees on a hot day above asun-scorched beach. Putting things together, I reached a strong suggestionof an extensive system of subterranean ventilation, whose true import itwas difficult to imagine. I was at first inclined to associate it with thesanitary apparatus of these people. It was an obvious conclusion, but itwas absolutely wrong.

“And here I must admit that I learnt very little of drains andbells and modes of conveyance, and the like conveniences, during my time inthis real future. In some of these visions of Utopias and coming timeswhich I have read, there is a vast amount of detail about building, andsocial arrangements, and so forth. But while such details are easy enoughto obtain when the whole world is contained in one’s imagination,they are altogether inaccessible to a real traveller amid such realities asI found here. Conceive the tale of London which a negro, fresh from CentralAfrica, would take back to his tribe! What would he know of railwaycompanies, of social movements, of telephone and telegraph wires, of theParcels Delivery Company, and postal orders and the like? Yet we, at least,should be willing enough to explain these things to him! And even of whathe knew, how much could he make his untravelled friend either apprehend orbelieve? Then, think how narrow the gap between a negro and a white man ofour own times, and how wide the interval between myself and these of theGolden Age! I was sensible of much which was unseen, and which contributedto my comfort; but save for a general impression of automatic organisation,I fear I can convey very little of the difference to your mind.

“In the matter of sepulture, for instance, I could see no signs ofcrematoria nor anything suggestive of tombs. But it occurred to me that,possibly, there might be cemeteries (or crematoria) somewhere beyond therange of my explorings. This, again, was a question I deliberately put tomyself, and my curiosity was at first entirely defeated upon the point. Thething puzzled me, and I was led to make a further remark, which puzzled mestill more: that aged and infirm among this people there were none.

“I must confess that my satisfaction with my first theories of anautomatic civilisation and a decadent humanity did not long endure. Yet Icould think of no other. Let me put my difficulties. The several bigpalaces I had explored were mere living places, great dining-halls andsleeping apartments. I could find no machinery, no appliances of any kind.Yet these people were clothed in pleasant fabrics that must at times needrenewal, and their sandals, though undecorated, were fairly complexspecimens of metalwork. Somehow such things must be made. And the littlepeople displayed no vestige of a creative tendency. There were no shops, noworkshops, no sign of importations among them. They spent all their time inplaying gently, in bathing in the river, in making love in a half-playfulfashion, in eating fruit and sleeping. I could not see how things were keptgoing.

“Then, again, about the Time Machine: something, I knew not what,had taken it into the hollow pedestal of the White Sphinx. Why? Forthe life of me I could not imagine. Those waterless wells, too, thoseflickering pillars. I felt I lacked a clue. I felt—how shall I putit? Suppose you found an inscription, with sentences here and there inexcellent plain English, and interpolated therewith, others made up ofwords, of letters even, absolutely unknown to you? Well, on the third dayof my visit, that was how the world of Eight Hundred and Two Thousand SevenHundred and One presented itself to me!

“That day, too, I made a friend—of a sort. It happened that,as I was watching some of the little people bathing in a shallow, one ofthem was seized with cramp and began drifting downstream. The main currentran rather swiftly, but not too strongly for even a moderate swimmer. Itwill give you an idea, therefore, of the strange deficiency in thesecreatures, when I tell you that none made the slightest attempt to rescuethe weakly crying little thing which was drowning before their eyes. When Irealised this, I hurriedly slipped off my clothes, and, wading in at apoint lower down, I caught the poor mite and drew her safe to land. Alittle rubbing of the limbs soon brought her round, and I had thesatisfaction of seeing she was all right before I left her. I had got tosuch a low estimate of her kind that I did not expect any gratitude fromher. In that, however, I was wrong.

“This happened in the morning. In the afternoon I met my littlewoman, as I believe it was, as I was returning towards my centre from anexploration, and she received me with cries of delight and presented mewith a big garland of flowers—evidently made for me and me alone. Thething took my imagination. Very possibly I had been feeling desolate. Atany rate I did my best to display my appreciation of the gift. We were soonseated together in a little stone arbour, engaged in conversation, chieflyof smiles. The creature’s friendliness affected me exactly as achild’s might have done. We passed each other flowers, and she kissedmy hands. I did the same to hers. Then I tried talk, and found that hername was Weena, which, though I don’t know what it meant, somehowseemed appropriate enough. That was the beginning of a queer friendshipwhich lasted a week, and ended—as I will tell you!

“She was exactly like a child. She wanted to be with me always.She tried to follow me everywhere, and on my next journey out and about itwent to my heart to tire her down, and leave her at last, exhausted andcalling after me rather plaintively. But the problems of the world had tobe mastered. I had not, I said to myself, come into the future to carry ona miniature flirtation. Yet her distress when I left her was very great,her expostulations at the parting were sometimes frantic, and I think,altogether, I had as much trouble as comfort from her devotion.Nevertheless she was, somehow, a very great comfort. I thought it was merechildish affection that made her cling to me. Until it was too late, I didnot clearly know what I had inflicted upon her when I left her. Nor untilit was too late did I clearly understand what she was to me. For, by merelyseeming fond of me, and showing in her weak, futile way that she cared forme, the little doll of a creature presently gave my return to theneighbourhood of the White Sphinx almost the feeling of coming home; and Iwould watch for her tiny figure of white and gold so soon as I came overthe hill.

“It was from her, too, that I learnt that fear had not yet leftthe world. She was fearless enough in the daylight, and she had the oddestconfidence in me; for once, in a foolish moment, I made threateninggrimaces at her, and she simply laughed at them. But she dreaded the dark,dreaded shadows, dreaded black things. Darkness to her was the one thingdreadful. It was a singularly passionate emotion, and it set me thinkingand observing. I discovered then, among other things, that these littlepeople gathered into the great houses after dark, and slept in droves. Toenter upon them without a light was to put them into a tumult ofapprehension. I never found one out of doors, or one sleeping alone withindoors, after dark. Yet I was still such a blockhead that I missed thelesson of that fear, and in spite of Weena’s distress, I insisted uponsleeping away from these slumbering multitudes.

“It troubled her greatly, but in the end her odd affection for metriumphed, and for five of the nights of our acquaintance, including thelast night of all, she slept with her head pillowed on my arm. But my storyslips away from me as I speak of her. It must have been the night beforeher rescue that I was awakened about dawn. I had been restless, dreamingmost disagreeably that I was drowned, and that sea anemones were feelingover my face with their soft palps. I woke with a start, and with an oddfancy that some greyish animal had just rushed out of the chamber. I triedto get to sleep again, but I felt restless and uncomfortable. It was thatdim grey hour when things are just creeping out of darkness, wheneverything is colourless and clear cut, and yet unreal. I got up, and wentdown into the great hall, and so out upon the flagstones in front of thepalace. I thought I would make a virtue of necessity, and see thesunrise.

“The moon was setting, and the dying moonlight and the firstpallor of dawn were mingled in a ghastly half-light. The bushes were inkyblack, the ground a sombre grey, the sky colourless and cheerless. And upthe hill I thought I could see ghosts. Three several times, as I scannedthe slope, I saw white figures. Twice I fancied I saw a solitary white,ape-like creature running rather quickly up the hill, and once near theruins I saw a leash of them carrying some dark body. They moved hastily. Idid not see what became of them. It seemed that they vanished among thebushes. The dawn was still indistinct, you must understand. I was feelingthat chill, uncertain, early-morning feeling you may have known. I doubtedmy eyes.

“As the eastern sky grew brighter, and the light of the day came onand its vivid colouring returned upon the world once more, I scanned theview keenly. But I saw no vestige of my white figures. They were merecreatures of the half-light. ‘They must have been ghosts,’ Isaid; ‘I wonder whence they dated.’ For a queer notion of GrantAllen’s came into my head, and amused me. If each generation die andleave ghosts, he argued, the world at last will get overcrowded with them.On that theory they would have grown innumerable some Eight HundredThousand Years hence, and it was no great wonder to see four at once. Butthe jest was unsatisfying, and I was thinking of these figures all themorning, until Weena’s rescue drove them out of my head. I associatedthem in some indefinite way with the white animal I had startled in myfirst passionate search for the Time Machine. But Weena was a pleasantsubstitute. Yet all the same, they were soon destined to take far deadlierpossession of my mind.

“I think I have said how much hotter than our own was the weatherof this Golden Age. I cannot account for it. It may be that the sun washotter, or the earth nearer the sun. It is usual to assume that the sunwill go on cooling steadily in the future. But people, unfamiliar with suchspeculations as those of the younger Darwin, forget that the planets mustultimately fall back one by one into the parent body. As these catastrophesoccur, the sun will blaze with renewed energy; and it may be that someinner planet had suffered this fate. Whatever the reason, the fact remainsthat the sun was very much hotter than we know it.

“Well, one very hot morning—my fourth, I think—as Iwas seeking shelter from the heat and glare in a colossal ruin near thegreat house where I slept and fed, there happened this strange thing.Clambering among these heaps of masonry, I found a narrow gallery, whoseend and side windows were blocked by fallen masses of stone. By contrastwith the brilliancy outside, it seemed at first impenetrably dark to me. Ientered it groping, for the change from light to blackness made spots ofcolour swim before me. Suddenly I halted spellbound. A pair of eyes,luminous by reflection against the daylight without, was watching me out ofthe darkness.

“The old instinctive dread of wild beasts came upon me. I clenchedmy hands and steadfastly looked into the glaring eyeballs. I was afraid toturn. Then the thought of the absolute security in which humanity appearedto be living came to my mind. And then I remembered that strange terror ofthe dark. Overcoming my fear to some extent, I advanced a step and spoke. Iwill admit that my voice was harsh and ill-controlled. I put out my handand touched something soft. At once the eyes darted sideways, and somethingwhite ran past me. I turned with my heart in my mouth, and saw a queerlittle ape-like figure, its head held down in a peculiar manner, runningacross the sunlit space behind me. It blundered against a block of granite,staggered aside, and in a moment was hidden in a black shadow beneathanother pile of ruined masonry.

“My impression of it is, of course, imperfect; but I know it was adull white, and had strange large greyish-red eyes; also that there wasflaxen hair on its head and down its back. But, as I say, it went too fastfor me to see distinctly. I cannot even say whether it ran on all fours, oronly with its forearms held very low. After an instant’s pause Ifollowed it into the second heap of ruins. I could not find it at first;but, after a time in the profound obscurity, I came upon one of those roundwell-like openings of which I have told you, half closed by a fallenpillar. A sudden thought came to me. Could this Thing have vanished downthe shaft? I lit a match, and, looking down, I saw a small, white, movingcreature, with large bright eyes which regarded me steadfastly as itretreated. It made me shudder. It was so like a human spider! It wasclambering down the wall, and now I saw for the first time a number ofmetal foot and hand rests forming a kind of ladder down the shaft. Then thelight burned my fingers and fell out of my hand, going out as it dropped,and when I had lit another the little monster had disappeared.

“I do not know how long I sat peering down that well. It was notfor some time that I could succeed in persuading myself that the thing Ihad seen was human. But, gradually, the truth dawned on me: that Man hadnot remained one species, but had differentiated into two distinct animals:that my graceful children of the Upper World were not the sole descendantsof our generation, but that this bleached, obscene, nocturnal Thing, whichhad flashed before me, was also heir to all the ages.

“I thought of the flickering pillars and of my theory of anunderground ventilation. I began to suspect their true import. And what, Iwondered, was this Lemur doing in my scheme of a perfectly balancedorganisation? How was it related to the indolent serenity of the beautifulOverworlders? And what was hidden down there, at the foot of that shaft?I sat upon the edge of the well telling myself that, at any rate, there wasnothing to fear, and that there I must descend for the solution of mydifficulties. And withal I was absolutely afraid to go! As I hesitated, twoof the beautiful upperworld people came running in their amorous sportacross the daylight in the shadow. The male pursued the female, flingingflowers at her as he ran.

“They seemed distressed to find me, my arm against the overturnedpillar, peering down the well. Apparently it was considered bad form toremark these apertures; for when I pointed to this one, and tried to framea question about it in their tongue, they were still more visiblydistressed and turned away. But they were interested by my matches, and Istruck some to amuse them. I tried them again about the well, and again Ifailed. So presently I left them, meaning to go back to Weena, and see whatI could get from her. But my mind was already in revolution; my guesses andimpressions were slipping and sliding to a new adjustment. I had now a clueto the import of these wells, to the ventilating towers, to the mystery ofthe ghosts; to say nothing of a hint at the meaning of the bronze gates andthe fate of the Time Machine! And very vaguely there came a suggestiontowards the solution of the economic problem that had puzzled me.

“Here was the new view. Plainly, this second species of Man wassubterranean. There were three circumstances in particular which made methink that its rare emergence above ground was the outcome of along-continued underground habit. In the first place, there was thebleached look common in most animals that live largely in thedark—the white fish of the Kentucky caves, for instance. Then, thoselarge eyes, with that capacity for reflecting light, are common features ofnocturnal things—witness the owl and the cat. And last of all, thatevident confusion in the sunshine, that hasty yet fumbling awkward flighttowards dark shadow, and that peculiar carriage of the head while in thelight—all reinforced the theory of an extreme sensitiveness of theretina.

“Beneath my feet, then, the earth must be tunnelled enormously,and these tunnellings were the habitat of the New Race. The presence ofventilating shafts and wells along the hill slopes—everywhere, infact, except along the river valley—showed how universal were itsramifications. What so natural, then, as to assume that it was in thisartificial Underworld that such work as was necessary to the comfort of thedaylight race was done? The notion was so plausible that I at once acceptedit, and went on to assume the how of this splitting of the humanspecies. I dare say you will anticipate the shape of my theory; though, formyself, I very soon felt that it fell far short of the truth.

“At first, proceeding from the problems of our own age, it seemedclear as daylight to me that the gradual widening of the present merelytemporary and social difference between the Capitalist and the Labourerwas the key to the whole position. No doubt it will seem grotesque enoughto you—and wildly incredible!—and yet even now there areexisting circumstances to point that way. There is a tendency to utiliseunderground space for the less ornamental purposes of civilisation; thereis the Metropolitan Railway in London, for instance, there are new electricrailways, there are subways, there are underground workrooms andrestaurants, and they increase and multiply. Evidently, I thought, thistendency had increased till Industry had gradually lost its birthright inthe sky. I mean that it had gone deeper and deeper into larger and everlarger underground factories, spending a still-increasing amount of itstime therein, till, in the end—! Even now, does not an East-endworker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be cut off fromthe natural surface of the earth?

“Again, the exclusive tendency of richer people—due, nodoubt, to the increasing refinement of their education, and the wideninggulf between them and the rude violence of the poor—is alreadyleading to the closing, in their interest, of considerable portions of thesurface of the land. About London, for instance, perhaps half the prettiercountry is shut in against intrusion. And this same wideninggulf—which is due to the length and expense of the higher educationalprocess and the increased facilities for and temptations towards refinedhabits on the part of the rich—will make that exchange between classand class, that promotion by intermarriage which at present retards thesplitting of our species along lines of social stratification, less andless frequent. So, in the end, above ground you must have the Haves,pursuing pleasure and comfort and beauty, and below ground the Have-nots,the Workers getting continually adapted to the conditions of their labour.Once they were there, they would no doubt have to pay rent, and not alittle of it, for the ventilation of their caverns; and if they refused,they would starve or be suffocated for arrears. Such of them as were soconstituted as to be miserable and rebellious would die; and, in the end,the balance being permanent, the survivors would become as well adapted tothe conditions of underground life, and as happy in their way, as theOverworld people were to theirs. As it seemed to me, the refined beautyand the etiolated pallor followed naturally enough.

“The great triumph of Humanity I had dreamed of took a differentshape in my mind. It had been no such triumph of moral education andgeneral co-operation as I had imagined. Instead, I saw a real aristocracy,armed with a perfected science and working to a logical conclusion theindustrial system of today. Its triumph had not been simply a triumph overNature, but a triumph over Nature and the fellow-man. This, I must warnyou, was my theory at the time. I had no convenient cicerone in the patternof the Utopian books. My explanation may be absolutely wrong. I still thinkit is the most plausible one. But even on this supposition the balancedcivilisation that was at last attained must have long since passed itszenith, and was now far fallen into decay. The too-perfect security of theOverworlders had led them to a slow movement of degeneration, to ageneral dwindling in size, strength, and intelligence. That I could seeclearly enough already. What had happened to the Undergrounders I did notyet suspect; but, from what I had seen of the Morlocks—that, by thebye, was the name by which these creatures were called—I could imaginethat the modification of the human type was even far more profound thanamong the ‘Eloi,’ the beautiful race that I already knew.

“Then came troublesome doubts. Why had the Morlocks taken my TimeMachine? For I felt sure it was they who had taken it. Why, too, if theEloi were masters, could they not restore the machine to me? And why werethey so terribly afraid of the dark? I proceeded, as I have said, toquestion Weena about this Underworld, but here again I was disappointed.At first she would not understand my questions, and presently she refusedto answer them. She shivered as though the topic was unendurable. And whenI pressed her, perhaps a little harshly, she burst into tears. They werethe only tears, except my own, I ever saw in that Golden Age. When I sawthem I ceased abruptly to trouble about the Morlocks, and was onlyconcerned in banishing these signs of her human inheritance fromWeena’s eyes. And very soon she was smiling and clapping her hands,while I solemnly burnt a match.

IX.
The Morlocks

“It may seem odd to you, but it was two days before I could followup the new-found clue in what was manifestly the proper way. I felt apeculiar shrinking from those pallid bodies. They were just thehalf-bleached colour of the worms and things one sees preserved in spiritin a zoological museum. And they were filthily cold to the touch. Probablymy shrinking was largely due to the sympathetic influence of the Eloi,whose disgust of the Morlocks I now began to appreciate.

“The next night I did not sleep well. Probably my health was alittle disordered. I was oppressed with perplexity and doubt. Once or twiceI had a feeling of intense fear for which I could perceive no definitereason. I remember creeping noiselessly into the great hall where thelittle people were sleeping in the moonlight—that night Weena wasamong them—and feeling reassured by their presence. It occurred to meeven then, that in the course of a few days the moon must pass through itslast quarter, and the nights grow dark, when the appearances of theseunpleasant creatures from below, these whitened Lemurs, this new verminthat had replaced the old, might be more abundant. And on both these days Ihad the restless feeling of one who shirks an inevitable duty. I feltassured that the Time Machine was only to be recovered by boldlypenetrating these mysteries of underground. Yet I could not face the mystery.If only I had had a companion it would have been different. But I was sohorribly alone, and even to clamber down into the darkness of the wellappalled me. I don’t know if you will understand my feeling, but Inever felt quite safe at my back.

“It was this restlessness, this insecurity, perhaps, that drove mefarther and farther afield in my exploring expeditions. Going to thesouth-westward towards the rising country that is now called Combe Wood, Iobserved far-off, in the direction of nineteenth-century Banstead, a vastgreen structure, different in character from any I had hitherto seen. Itwas larger than the largest of the palaces or ruins I knew, and the façadehad an Oriental look: the face of it having the lustre, as well as thepale-green tint, a kind of bluish-green, of a certain type of Chineseporcelain. This difference in aspect suggested a difference in use, and Iwas minded to push on and explore. But the day was growing late, and I hadcome upon the sight of the place after a long and tiring circuit; so Iresolved to hold over the adventure for the following day, and I returnedto the welcome and the caresses of little Weena. But next morning Iperceived clearly enough that my curiosity regarding the Palace of GreenPorcelain was a piece of self-deception, to enable me to shirk, by anotherday, an experience I dreaded. I resolved I would make the descent withoutfurther waste of time, and started out in the early morning towards a wellnear the ruins of granite and aluminium.

“Little Weena ran with me. She danced beside me to the well, but whenshe saw me lean over the mouth and look downward, she seemed strangelydisconcerted. ‘Good-bye, little Weena,’ I said, kissing her;and then putting her down, I began to feel over the parapet for theclimbing hooks. Rather hastily, I may as well confess, for I feared mycourage might leak away! At first she watched me in amazement. Then shegave a most piteous cry, and running to me, she began to pull at me withher little hands. I think her opposition nerved me rather to proceed. Ishook her off, perhaps a little roughly, and in another moment I was in thethroat of the well. I saw her agonised face over the parapet, and smiled toreassure her. Then I had to look down at the unstable hooks to which Iclung.

“I had to clamber down a shaft of perhaps two hundred yards. Thedescent was effected by means of metallic bars projecting from the sides ofthe well, and these being adapted to the needs of a creature much smallerand lighter than myself, I was speedily cramped and fatigued by thedescent. And not simply fatigued! One of the bars bent suddenly under myweight, and almost swung me off into the blackness beneath. For a moment Ihung by one hand, and after that experience I did not dare to rest again.Though my arms and back were presently acutely painful, I went onclambering down the sheer descent with as quick a motion as possible.Glancing upward, I saw the aperture, a small blue disc, in which a star wasvisible, while little Weena’s head showed as a round blackprojection. The thudding sound of a machine below grew louder and moreoppressive. Everything save that little disc above was profoundly dark, andwhen I looked up again Weena had disappeared.

“I was in an agony of discomfort. I had some thought of trying togo up the shaft again, and leave the Underworld alone. But even while Iturned this over in my mind I continued to descend. At last, with intenserelief, I saw dimly coming up, a foot to the right of me, a slenderloophole in the wall. Swinging myself in, I found it was the aperture of anarrow horizontal tunnel in which I could lie down and rest. It was not toosoon. My arms ached, my back was cramped, and I was trembling with theprolonged terror of a fall. Besides this, the unbroken darkness had had adistressing effect upon my eyes. The air was full of the throb and hum ofmachinery pumping air down the shaft.

“I do not know how long I lay. I was arroused by a soft handtouching my face. Starting up in the darkness I snatched at my matches and,hastily striking one, I saw three stooping white creatures similar to theone I had seen above ground in the ruin, hastily retreating before thelight. Living, as they did, in what appeared to me impenetrable darkness,their eyes were abnormally large and sensitive, just as are the pupils ofthe abysmal fishes, and they reflected the light in the same way. I have nodoubt they could see me in that rayless obscurity, and they did not seem tohave any fear of me apart from the light. But, so soon as I struck a matchin order to see them, they fled incontinently, vanishing into dark guttersand tunnels, from which their eyes glared at me in the strangestfashion.

“I tried to call to them, but the language they had was apparentlydifferent from that of the Overworld people; so that I was needs left tomy own unaided efforts, and the thought of flight before exploration waseven then in my mind. But I said to myself, ‘You are in for itnow,’ and, feeling my way along the tunnel, I found the noise ofmachinery grow louder. Presently the walls fell away from me, and I came toa large open space, and striking another match, saw that I had entered avast arched cavern, which stretched into utter darkness beyond the range ofmy light. The view I had of it was as much as one could see in the burningof a match.

“Necessarily my memory is vague. Great shapes like big machinesrose out of the dimness, and cast grotesque black shadows, in which dimspectral Morlocks sheltered from the glare. The place, by the bye, was verystuffy and oppressive, and the faint halitus of freshly-shed blood was inthe air. Some way down the central vista was a little table of white metal,laid with what seemed a meal. The Morlocks at any rate were carnivorous!Even at the time, I remember wondering what large animal could havesurvived to furnish the red joint I saw. It was all very indistinct: theheavy smell, the big unmeaning shapes, the obscene figures lurking in theshadows, and only waiting for the darkness to come at me again! Then thematch burnt down, and stung my fingers, and fell, a wriggling red spot inthe blackness.

“I have thought since how particularly ill-equipped I was for suchan experience. When I had started with the Time Machine, I had started withthe absurd assumption that the men of the Future would certainly beinfinitely ahead of ourselves in all their appliances. I had come withoutarms, without medicine, without anything to smoke—at times I missedtobacco frightfully!—even without enough matches. If only I hadthought of a Kodak! I could have flashed that glimpse of the Underworld ina second, and examined it at leisure. But, as it was, I stood there withonly the weapons and the powers that Nature had endowed mewith—hands, feet, and teeth; these, and four safety-matches thatstill remained to me.

“I was afraid to push my way in among all this machinery in thedark, and it was only with my last glimpse of light I discovered that mystore of matches had run low. It had never occurred to me until that momentthat there was any need to economise them, and I had wasted almost half thebox in astonishing the Overworlders, to whom fire was a novelty. Now, asI say, I had four left, and while I stood in the dark, a hand touched mine,lank fingers came feeling over my face, and I was sensible of a peculiarunpleasant odour. I fancied I heard the breathing of a crowd of thosedreadful little beings about me. I felt the box of matches in my hand beinggently disengaged, and other hands behind me plucking at my clothing. Thesense of these unseen creatures examining me was indescribably unpleasant.The sudden realisation of my ignorance of their ways of thinking and doingcame home to me very vividly in the darkness. I shouted at them as loudlyas I could. They started away, and then I could feel them approaching meagain. They clutched at me more boldly, whispering odd sounds to eachother. I shivered violently, and shouted again—rather discordantly.This time they were not so seriously alarmed, and they made a queerlaughing noise as they came back at me. I will confess I was horriblyfrightened. I determined to strike another match and escape under theprotection of its glare. I did so, and eking out the flicker with a scrapof paper from my pocket, I made good my retreat to the narrow tunnel. But Ihad scarce entered this when my light was blown out and in the blackness Icould hear the Morlocks rustling like wind among leaves, and pattering likethe rain, as they hurried after me.

“In a moment I was clutched by several hands, and there was nomistaking that they were trying to haul me back. I struck another light,and waved it in their dazzled faces. You can scarce imagine hownauseatingly inhuman they looked—those pale, chinless faces andgreat, lidless, pinkish-grey eyes!—as they stared in their blindnessand bewilderment. But I did not stay to look, I promise you: I retreatedagain, and when my second match had ended, I struck my third. It had almostburnt through when I reached the opening into the shaft. I lay down on theedge, for the throb of the great pump below made me giddy. Then I feltsideways for the projecting hooks, and, as I did so, my feet were graspedfrom behind, and I was violently tugged backward. I lit my last match … andit incontinently went out. But I had my hand on the climbing bars now, and,kicking violently, I disengaged myself from the clutches of the Morlocks,and was speedily clambering up the shaft, while they stayed peering andblinking up at me: all but one little wretch who followed me for some way,and well-nigh secured my boot as a trophy.

“That climb seemed interminable to me. With the last twenty orthirty feet of it a deadly nausea came upon me. I had the greatestdifficulty in keeping my hold. The last few yards was a frightful struggleagainst this faintness. Several times my head swam, and I felt all thesensations of falling. At last, however, I got over the well-mouth somehow,and staggered out of the ruin into the blinding sunlight. I fell upon myface. Even the soil smelt sweet and clean. Then I remember Weena kissing myhands and ears, and the voices of others among the Eloi. Then, for a time,I was insensible.

X.
When Night Came

“Now, indeed, I seemed in a worse case than before. Hitherto,except during my night’s anguish at the loss of the Time Machine, Ihad felt a sustaining hope of ultimate escape, but that hope was staggeredby these new discoveries. Hitherto I had merely thought myself impeded bythe childish simplicity of the little people, and by some unknown forceswhich I had only to understand to overcome; but there was an altogether newelement in the sickening quality of the Morlocks—a something inhumanand malign. Instinctively I loathed them. Before, I had felt as a man mightfeel who had fallen into a pit: my concern was with the pit and how to getout of it. Now I felt like a beast in a trap, whose enemy would come uponhim soon.

“The enemy I dreaded may surprise you. It was the darkness of thenew moon. Weena had put this into my head by some at first incomprehensibleremarks about the Dark Nights. It was not now such a very difficult problemto guess what the coming Dark Nights might mean. The moon was on the wane:each night there was a longer interval of darkness. And I now understood tosome slight degree at least the reason of the fear of the littleUpperworld people for the dark. I wondered vaguely what foul villainy itmight be that the Morlocks did under the new moon. I felt pretty sure nowthat my second hypothesis was all wrong. The Upperworld people might oncehave been the favoured aristocracy, and the Morlocks their mechanicalservants: but that had long since passed away. The two species that hadresulted from the evolution of man were sliding down towards, or hadalready arrived at, an altogether new relationship. The Eloi, like theCarlovignan kings, had decayed to a mere beautiful futility. They stillpossessed the earth on sufferance: since the Morlocks, subterranean forinnumerable generations, had come at last to find the daylit surfaceintolerable. And the Morlocks made their garments, I inferred, andmaintained them in their habitual needs, perhaps through the survival of anold habit of service. They did it as a standing horse paws with his foot,or as a man enjoys killing animals in sport: because ancient and departednecessities had impressed it on the organism. But, clearly, the old orderwas already in part reversed. The Nemesis of the delicate ones was creepingon apace. Ages ago, thousands of generations ago, man had thrust hisbrother man out of the ease and the sunshine. And now that brother wascoming back—changed! Already the Eloi had begun to learn one old lessonanew. They were becoming reacquainted with Fear. And suddenly there cameinto my head the memory of the meat I had seen in the Underworld. Itseemed odd how it floated into my mind: not stirred up as it were by thecurrent of my meditations, but coming in almost like a question fromoutside. I tried to recall the form of it. I had a vague sense of somethingfamiliar, but I could not tell what it was at the time.

“Still, however helpless the little people in the presence oftheir mysterious Fear, I was differently constituted. I came out of thisage of ours, this ripe prime of the human race, when Fear does not paralyseand mystery has lost its terrors. I at least would defend myself. Withoutfurther delay I determined to make myself arms and a fastness where I mightsleep. With that refuge as a base, I could face this strange world withsome of that confidence I had lost in realising to what creatures night bynight I lay exposed. I felt I could never sleep again until my bed wassecure from them. I shuddered with horror to think how they must alreadyhave examined me.

“I wandered during the afternoon along the valley of the Thames,but found nothing that commended itself to my mind as inaccessible. All thebuildings and trees seemed easily practicable to such dexterous climbers asthe Morlocks, to judge by their wells, must be. Then the tall pinnacles ofthe Palace of Green Porcelain and the polished gleam of its walls came backto my memory; and in the evening, taking Weena like a child upon myshoulder, I went up the hills towards the south-west. The distance, I hadreckoned, was seven or eight miles, but it must have been nearer eighteen.I had first seen the place on a moist afternoon when distances aredeceptively diminished. In addition, the heel of one of my shoes was loose,and a nail was working through the sole—they were comfortable oldshoes I wore about indoors—so that I was lame. And it was alreadylong past sunset when I came in sight of the palace, silhouetted blackagainst the pale yellow of the sky.

“Weena had been hugely delighted when I began to carry her, butafter a while she desired me to let her down, and ran along by the side ofme, occasionally darting off on either hand to pick flowers to stick in mypockets. My pockets had always puzzled Weena, but at the last she hadconcluded that they were an eccentric kind of vases for floral decoration.At least she utilised them for that purpose. And that reminds me! Inchanging my jacket I found…”

The Time Traveller paused, put his hand into his pocket, and silentlyplaced two withered flowers, not unlike very large white mallows, upon thelittle table. Then he resumed his narrative.

“As the hush of evening crept over the world and we proceeded overthe hill crest towards Wimbledon, Weena grew tired and wanted to return tothe house of grey stone. But I pointed out the distant pinnacles of thePalace of Green Porcelain to her, and contrived to make her understand thatwe were seeking a refuge there from her Fear. You know that great pausethat comes upon things before the dusk? Even the breeze stops in the trees.To me there is always an air of expectation about that evening stillness.The sky was clear, remote, and empty save for a few horizontal bars fardown in the sunset. Well, that night the expectation took the colour of myfears. In that darkling calm my senses seemed preternaturally sharpened. Ifancied I could even feel the hollowness of the ground beneath my feet:could, indeed, almost see through it the Morlocks on their ant-hill goinghither and thither and waiting for the dark. In my excitement I fanciedthat they would receive my invasion of their burrows as a declaration ofwar. And why had they taken my Time Machine?

“So we went on in the quiet, and the twilight deepened into night.The clear blue of the distance faded, and one star after another came out.The ground grew dim and the trees black. Weena’s fears and herfatigue grew upon her. I took her in my arms and talked to her and caressedher. Then, as the darkness grew deeper, she put her arms round my neck,and, closing her eyes, tightly pressed her face against my shoulder. So wewent down a long slope into a valley, and there in the dimness I almostwalked into a little river. This I waded, and went up the opposite side ofthe valley, past a number of sleeping houses, and by a statue—a Faun,or some such figure, minus the head. Here too were acacias. So far Ihad seen nothing of the Morlocks, but it was yet early in the night, andthe darker hours before the old moon rose were still to come.

“From the brow of the next hill I saw a thick wood spreading wide andblack before me. I hesitated at this. I could see no end to it, either tothe right or the left. Feeling tired—my feet, in particular, werevery sore—I carefully lowered Weena from my shoulder as I halted, andsat down upon the turf. I could no longer see the Palace of GreenPorcelain, and I was in doubt of my direction. I looked into the thicknessof the wood and thought of what it might hide. Under that dense tangle ofbranches one would be out of sight of the stars. Even were there no otherlurking danger—a danger I did not care to let my imagination looseupon—there would still be all the roots to stumble over and thetree-boles to strike against. I was very tired, too, after the excitementsof the day; so I decided that I would not face it, but would pass the nightupon the open hill.

“Weena, I was glad to find, was fast asleep. I carefully wrappedher in my jacket, and sat down beside her to wait for the moonrise. Thehillside was quiet and deserted, but from the black of the wood there camenow and then a stir of living things. Above me shone the stars, for thenight was very clear. I felt a certain sense of friendly comfort in theirtwinkling. All the old constellations had gone from the sky, however: thatslow movement which is imperceptible in a hundred human lifetimes, had longsince rearranged them in unfamiliar groupings. But the Milky Way, it seemedto me, was still the same tattered streamer of star-dust as of yore.Southward (as I judged it) was a very bright red star that was new to me;it was even more splendid than our own green Sirius. And amid all thesescintillating points of light one bright planet shone kindly and steadilylike the face of an old friend.

“Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and allthe gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomabledistance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of theunknown past into the unknown future. I thought of the great precessionalcycle that the pole of the earth describes. Only forty times had thatsilent revolution occurred during all the years that I had traversed. Andduring these few revolutions all the activity, all the traditions, thecomplex organisations, the nations, languages, literatures, aspirations,even the mere memory of Man as I knew him, had been swept out of existence.Instead were these frail creatures who had forgotten their high ancestry,and the white Things of which I went in terror. Then I thought of the GreatFear that was between the two species, and for the first time, with asudden shiver, came the clear knowledge of what the meat I had seen mightbe. Yet it was too horrible! I looked at little Weena sleeping beside me,her face white and starlike under the stars, and forthwith dismissed thethought.

“Through that long night I held my mind off the Morlocks as wellas I could, and whiled away the time by trying to fancy I could find signsof the old constellations in the new confusion. The sky kept very clear,except for a hazy cloud or so. No doubt I dozed at times. Then, as my vigilwore on, came a faintness in the eastward sky, like the reflection of somecolourless fire, and the old moon rose, thin and peaked and white. Andclose behind, and overtaking it, and overflowing it, the dawn came, pale atfirst, and then growing pink and warm. No Morlocks had approached us.Indeed, I had seen none upon the hill that night. And in the confidence ofrenewed day it almost seemed to me that my fear had been unreasonable. Istood up and found my foot with the loose heel swollen at the ankle andpainful under the heel; so I sat down again, took off my shoes, and flungthem away.

“I awakened Weena, and we went down into the wood, now green andpleasant instead of black and forbidding. We found some fruit wherewith tobreak our fast. We soon met others of the dainty ones, laughing and dancingin the sunlight as though there was no such thing in nature as the night.And then I thought once more of the meat that I had seen. I felt assurednow of what it was, and from the bottom of my heart I pitied this lastfeeble rill from the great flood of humanity. Clearly, at some time in theLong-Ago of human decay the Morlocks’ food had run short. Possiblythey had lived on rats and such-like vermin. Even now man is far lessdiscriminating and exclusive in his food than he was—far less thanany monkey. His prejudice against human flesh is no deep-seated instinct.And so these inhuman sons of men——! I tried to look at thething in a scientific spirit. After all, they were less human and moreremote than our cannibal ancestors of three or four thousand years ago. Andthe intelligence that would have made this state of things a torment hadgone. Why should I trouble myself? These Eloi were mere fatted cattle,which the ant-like Morlocks preserved and preyed upon—probably saw tothe breeding of. And there was Weena dancing at my side!

“Then I tried to preserve myself from the horror that was comingupon me, by regarding it as a rigorous punishment of human selfishness. Manhad been content to live in ease and delight upon the labours of hisfellow-man, had taken Necessity as his watchword and excuse, and in thefullness of time Necessity had come home to him. I even tried aCarlyle-like scorn of this wretched aristocracy in decay. But this attitudeof mind was impossible. However great their intellectual degradation, theEloi had kept too much of the human form not to claim my sympathy, and tomake me perforce a sharer in their degradation and their Fear.

“I had at that time very vague ideas as to the course I shouldpursue. My first was to secure some safe place of refuge, and to makemyself such arms of metal or stone as I could contrive. That necessity wasimmediate. In the next place, I hoped to procure some means of fire, sothat I should have the weapon of a torch at hand, for nothing, I knew,would be more efficient against these Morlocks. Then I wanted to arrangesome contrivance to break open the doors of bronze under the White Sphinx.I had in mind a battering ram. I had a persuasion that if I could enterthose doors and carry a blaze of light before me I should discover the TimeMachine and escape. I could not imagine the Morlocks were strong enough tomove it far away. Weena I had resolved to bring with me to our own time.And turning such schemes over in my mind I pursued our way towards thebuilding which my fancy had chosen as our dwelling.

XI.
The Palace of Green Porcelain

“I found the Palace of Green Porcelain, when we approached itabout noon, deserted and falling into ruin. Only ragged vestiges of glassremained in its windows, and great sheets of the green facing had fallenaway from the corroded metallic framework. It lay very high upon a turfydown, and looking north-eastward before I entered it, I was surprised tosee a large estuary, or even creek, where I judged Wandsworth and Batterseamust once have been. I thought then—though I never followed up thethought—of what might have happened, or might be happening, to theliving things in the sea.

“The material of the Palace proved on examination to be indeedporcelain, and along the face of it I saw an inscription in some unknowncharacter. I thought, rather foolishly, that Weena might help me tointerpret this, but I only learnt that the bare idea of writing had neverentered her head. She always seemed to me, I fancy, more human than shewas, perhaps because her affection was so human.

“Within the big valves of the door—which were open andbroken—we found, instead of the customary hall, a long gallery lit bymany side windows. At the first glance I was reminded of a museum. Thetiled floor was thick with dust, and a remarkable array of miscellaneousobjects was shrouded in the same grey covering. Then I perceived, standingstrange and gaunt in the centre of the hall, what was clearly the lowerpart of a huge skeleton. I recognised by the oblique feet that it was someextinct creature after the fashion of the Megatherium. The skull and theupper bones lay beside it in the thick dust, and in one place, whererain-water had dropped through a leak in the roof, the thing itself hadbeen worn away. Further in the gallery was the huge skeleton barrel of aBrontosaurus. My museum hypothesis was confirmed. Going towards the side Ifound what appeared to be sloping shelves, and clearing away the thickdust, I found the old familiar glass cases of our own time. But they musthave been air-tight to judge from the fair preservation of some of theircontents.

“Clearly we stood among the ruins of some latter-day SouthKensington! Here, apparently, was the Palæontological Section, and a verysplendid array of fossils it must have been, though the inevitable processof decay that had been staved off for a time, and had, through theextinction of bacteria and fungi, lost ninety-nine hundredths of its force,was nevertheless, with extreme sureness if with extreme slowness at workagain upon all its treasures. Here and there I found traces of the littlepeople in the shape of rare fossils broken to pieces or threaded in stringsupon reeds. And the cases had in some instances been bodilyremoved—by the Morlocks, as I judged. The place was very silent. Thethick dust deadened our footsteps. Weena, who had been rolling a sea urchindown the sloping glass of a case, presently came, as I stared about me, andvery quietly took my hand and stood beside me.

“And at first I was so much surprised by this ancient monument ofan intellectual age that I gave no thought to the possibilities itpresented. Even my preoccupation about the Time Machine receded a littlefrom my mind.

“To judge from the size of the place, this Palace of GreenPorcelain had a great deal more in it than a Gallery of Palæontology;possibly historical galleries; it might be, even a library! To me, at leastin my present circumstances, these would be vastly more interesting thanthis spectacle of old-time geology in decay. Exploring, I found anothershort gallery running transversely to the first. This appeared to bedevoted to minerals, and the sight of a block of sulphur set my mindrunning on gunpowder. But I could find no saltpetre; indeed, no nitrates ofany kind. Doubtless they had deliquesced ages ago. Yet the sulphur hung inmy mind, and set up a train of thinking. As for the rest of the contents ofthat gallery, though on the whole they were the best preserved of all Isaw, I had little interest. I am no specialist in mineralogy, and I went ondown a very ruinous aisle running parallel to the first hall I had entered.Apparently this section had been devoted to natural history, but everythinghad long since passed out of recognition. A few shrivelled and blackenedvestiges of what had once been stuffed animals, desiccated mummies in jarsthat had once held spirit, a brown dust of departed plants: that was all! Iwas sorry for that, because I should have been glad to trace the patientreadjustments by which the conquest of animated nature had been attained.Then we came to a gallery of simply colossal proportions, but singularlyill-lit, the floor of it running downward at a slight angle from the end atwhich I entered. At intervals white globes hung from the ceiling—manyof them cracked and smashed—which suggested that originally the placehad been artificially lit. Here I was more in my element, for rising oneither side of me were the huge bulks of big machines, all greatly corrodedand many broken down, but some still fairly complete. You know I have acertain weakness for mechanism, and I was inclined to linger among these;the more so as for the most part they had the interest of puzzles, and Icould make only the vaguest guesses at what they were for. I fancied thatif I could solve their puzzles I should find myself in possession of powersthat might be of use against the Morlocks.

“Suddenly Weena came very close to my side. So suddenly that shestartled me. Had it not been for her I do not think I should have noticedthat the floor of the gallery sloped at all. [Footnote: It may be, ofcourse, that the floor did not slope, but that the museum was built intothe side of a hill.—ED.] The end I had come in at was quite aboveground, and was lit by rare slit-like windows. As you went down the length,the ground came up against these windows, until at last there was a pitlike the ‘area‘ of a London house before each, and only anarrow line of daylight at the top. I went slowly along, puzzling about themachines, and had been too intent upon them to notice the gradualdiminution of the light, until Weena’s increasing apprehensions drewmy attention. Then I saw that the gallery ran down at last into a thickdarkness. I hesitated, and then, as I looked round me, I saw that the dustwas less abundant and its surface less even. Further away towards thedimness, it appeared to be broken by a number of small narrow footprints.My sense of the immediate presence of the Morlocks revived at that. I feltthat I was wasting my time in the academic examination of machinery. Icalled to mind that it was already far advanced in the afternoon, and thatI had still no weapon, no refuge, and no means of making a fire. And thendown in the remote blackness of the gallery I heard a peculiar pattering,and the same odd noises I had heard down the well.

“I took Weena’s hand. Then, struck with a sudden idea, Ileft her and turned to a machine from which projected a lever not unlikethose in a signal-box. Clambering upon the stand, and grasping this leverin my hands, I put all my weight upon it sideways. Suddenly Weena, desertedin the central aisle, began to whimper. I had judged the strength of thelever pretty correctly, for it snapped after a minute’s strain, and Irejoined her with a mace in my hand more than sufficient, I judged, for anyMorlock skull I might encounter. And I longed very much to kill a Morlockor so. Very inhuman, you may think, to want to go killing one’s owndescendants! But it was impossible, somehow, to feel any humanity in thethings. Only my disinclination to leave Weena, and a persuasion that if Ibegan to slake my thirst for murder my Time Machine might suffer,restrained me from going straight down the gallery and killing the brutes Iheard.

“Well, mace in one hand and Weena in the other, I went out of thatgallery and into another and still larger one, which at the first glancereminded me of a military chapel hung with tattered flags. The brown andcharred rags that hung from the sides of it, I presently recognised as thedecaying vestiges of books. They had long since dropped to pieces, andevery semblance of print had left them. But here and there were warpedboards and cracked metallic clasps that told the tale well enough. Had Ibeen a literary man I might, perhaps, have moralised upon the futility ofall ambition. But as it was, the thing that struck me with keenest forcewas the enormous waste of labour to which this sombre wilderness of rottingpaper testified. At the time I will confess that I thought chiefly of thePhilosophical Transactions and my own seventeen papers upon physicaloptics.

“Then, going up a broad staircase, we came to what may once have beena gallery of technical chemistry. And here I had not a little hope ofuseful discoveries. Except at one end where the roof had collapsed, thisgallery was well preserved. I went eagerly to every unbroken case. And atlast, in one of the really air-tight cases, I found a box of matches. Veryeagerly I tried them. They were perfectly good. They were not even damp. Iturned to Weena. ‘Dance,’ I cried to her in her own tongue. Fornow I had a weapon indeed against the horrible creatures we feared. And so,in that derelict museum, upon the thick soft carpeting of dust, toWeena’s huge delight, I solemnly performed a kind of composite dance,whistling The Land of the Leal as cheerfully as I could. In part itwas a modest cancan, in part a step dance, in part a skirt dance (sofar as my tail-coat permitted), and in part original. For I am naturallyinventive, as you know.

“Now, I still think that for this box of matches to have escapedthe wear of time for immemorial years was a most strange, as for me it wasa most fortunate, thing. Yet, oddly enough, I found a far unlikeliersubstance, and that was camphor. I found it in a sealed jar, that bychance, I suppose, had been really hermetically sealed. I fancied at firstthat it was paraffin wax, and smashed the glass accordingly. But the odourof camphor was unmistakable. In the universal decay this volatile substancehad chanced to survive, perhaps through many thousands of centuries. Itreminded me of a sepia painting I had once seen done from the ink of afossil Belemnite that must have perished and become fossilised millions ofyears ago. I was about to throw it away, but I remembered that it wasinflammable and burnt with a good bright flame—was, in fact, anexcellent candle—and I put it in my pocket. I found no explosives,however, nor any means of breaking down the bronze doors. As yet my ironcrowbar was the most helpful thing I had chanced upon. Nevertheless I leftthat gallery greatly elated.

“I cannot tell you all the story of that long afternoon. It wouldrequire a great effort of memory to recall my explorations in at all theproper order. I remember a long gallery of rusting stands of arms, and howI hesitated between my crowbar and a hatchet or a sword. I could not carryboth, however, and my bar of iron promised best against the bronze gates.There were numbers of guns, pistols, and rifles. The most were masses ofrust, but many were of some new metal, and still fairly sound. But anycartridges or powder there may once have been had rotted into dust. Onecorner I saw was charred and shattered; perhaps, I thought, by an explosionamong the specimens. In another place was a vast array ofidols—Polynesian, Mexican, Grecian, Phœnician, every country onearth, I should think. And here, yielding to an irresistible impulse, Iwrote my name upon the nose of a steatite monster from South America thatparticularly took my fancy.

“As the evening drew on, my interest waned. I went through galleryafter gallery, dusty, silent, often ruinous, the exhibits sometimes mereheaps of rust and lignite, sometimes fresher. In one place I suddenly foundmyself near the model of a tin mine, and then by the merest accident Idiscovered, in an air-tight case, two dynamite cartridges! I shouted‘Eureka!’ and smashed the case with joy. Then came a doubt. Ihesitated. Then, selecting a little side gallery, I made my essay. I neverfelt such a disappointment as I did in waiting five, ten, fifteen minutesfor an explosion that never came. Of course the things were dummies, as Imight have guessed from their presence. I really believe that had they notbeen so, I should have rushed off incontinently and blown Sphinx, bronzedoors, and (as it proved) my chances of finding the Time Machine, alltogether into non-existence.

“It was after that, I think, that we came to a little open courtwithin the palace. It was turfed, and had three fruit-trees. So we restedand refreshed ourselves. Towards sunset I began to consider our position.Night was creeping upon us, and my inaccessible hiding-place had still tobe found. But that troubled me very little now. I had in my possession athing that was, perhaps, the best of all defences against theMorlocks—I had matches! I had the camphor in my pocket, too, if ablaze were needed. It seemed to me that the best thing we could do would beto pass the night in the open, protected by a fire. In the morning therewas the getting of the Time Machine. Towards that, as yet, I had only myiron mace. But now, with my growing knowledge, I felt very differentlytowards those bronze doors. Up to this, I had refrained from forcing them,largely because of the mystery on the other side. They had never impressedme as being very strong, and I hoped to find my bar of iron not altogetherinadequate for the work.

XII.
In the Darkness

“We emerged from the Palace while the sun was still in part above thehorizon. I was determined to reach the White Sphinx early the next morning,and ere the dusk I purposed pushing through the woods that had stopped meon the previous journey. My plan was to go as far as possible that night,and then, building a fire, to sleep in the protection of its glare.Accordingly, as we went along I gathered any sticks or dried grass I saw,and presently had my arms full of such litter. Thus loaded, our progresswas slower than I had anticipated, and besides Weena was tired. And I,also, began to suffer from sleepiness too; so that it was full night beforewe reached the wood. Upon the shrubby hill of its edge Weena would havestopped, fearing the darkness before us; but a singular sense of impendingcalamity, that should indeed have served me as a warning, drove me onward.I had been without sleep for a night and two days, and I was feverish andirritable. I felt sleep coming upon me, and the Morlocks with it.

“While we hesitated, among the black bushes behind us, and dimagainst their blackness, I saw three crouching figures. There was scrub andlong grass all about us, and I did not feel safe from their insidiousapproach. The forest, I calculated, was rather less than a mile across. Ifwe could get through it to the bare hillside, there, as it seemed to me,was an altogether safer resting-place; I thought that with my matches andmy camphor I could contrive to keep my path illuminated through the woods.Yet it was evident that if I was to flourish matches with my hands I shouldhave to abandon my firewood; so, rather reluctantly, I put it down. Andthen it came into my head that I would amaze our friends behind by lightingit. I was to discover the atrocious folly of this proceeding, but it cameto my mind as an ingenious move for covering our retreat.

“I don’t know if you have ever thought what a rare thingflame must be in the absence of man and in a temperate climate. Thesun’s heat is rarely strong enough to burn, even when it is focusedby dewdrops, as is sometimes the case in more tropical districts. Lightningmay blast and blacken, but it rarely gives rise to widespread fire.Decaying vegetation may occasionally smoulder with the heat of itsfermentation, but this rarely results in flame. In this decadence, too, theart of fire-making had been forgotten on the earth. The red tongues thatwent licking up my heap of wood were an altogether new and strange thing toWeena.

“She wanted to run to it and play with it. I believe she wouldhave cast herself into it had I not restrained her. But I caught her up,and in spite of her struggles, plunged boldly before me into the wood. Fora little way the glare of my fire lit the path. Looking back presently, Icould see, through the crowded stems, that from my heap of sticks the blazehad spread to some bushes adjacent, and a curved line of fire was creepingup the grass of the hill. I laughed at that, and turned again to the darktrees before me. It was very black, and Weena clung to me convulsively, butthere was still, as my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, sufficientlight for me to avoid the stems. Overhead it was simply black, except wherea gap of remote blue sky shone down upon us here and there. I lit noneof my matches because I had no hand free. Upon my left arm I carried mylittle one, in my right hand I had my iron bar.

“For some way I heard nothing but the crackling twigs under myfeet, the faint rustle of the breeze above, and my own breathing and thethrob of the blood-vessels in my ears. Then I seemed to know of a patteringbehind me. I pushed on grimly. The pattering grew more distinct, and then Icaught the same queer sound and voices I had heard in the Underworld.There were evidently several of the Morlocks, and they were closing in uponme. Indeed, in another minute I felt a tug at my coat, then something at myarm. And Weena shivered violently, and became quite still.

“It was time for a match. But to get one I must put her down. Idid so, and, as I fumbled with my pocket, a struggle began in the darknessabout my knees, perfectly silent on her part and with the same peculiarcooing sounds from the Morlocks. Soft little hands, too, were creeping overmy coat and back, touching even my neck. Then the match scratched andfizzed. I held it flaring, and saw the white backs of the Morlocks inflight amid the trees. I hastily took a lump of camphor from my pocket, andprepared to light it as soon as the match should wane. Then I looked atWeena. She was lying clutching my feet and quite motionless, with her faceto the ground. With a sudden fright I stooped to her. She seemed scarcelyto breathe. I lit the block of camphor and flung it to the ground, and asit split and flared up and drove back the Morlocks and the shadows, I kneltdown and lifted her. The wood behind seemed full of the stir and murmur ofa great company!

“She seemed to have fainted. I put her carefully upon my shoulderand rose to push on, and then there came a horrible realisation. Inmanœuvring with my matches and Weena, I had turned myself about severaltimes, and now I had not the faintest idea in what direction lay my path.For all I knew, I might be facing back towards the Palace of GreenPorcelain. I found myself in a cold sweat. I had to think rapidly what todo. I determined to build a fire and encamp where we were. I put Weena,still motionless, down upon a turfy bole, and very hastily, as my firstlump of camphor waned, I began collecting sticks and leaves. Here and thereout of the darkness round me the Morlocks’ eyes shone likecarbuncles.

“The camphor flickered and went out. I lit a match, and as I didso, two white forms that had been approaching Weena dashed hastily away.One was so blinded by the light that he came straight for me, and I felthis bones grind under the blow of my fist. He gave a whoop of dismay,staggered a little way, and fell down. I lit another piece of camphor, andwent on gathering my bonfire. Presently I noticed how dry was some of thefoliage above me, for since my arrival on the Time Machine, a matter of aweek, no rain had fallen. So, instead of casting about among the trees forfallen twigs, I began leaping up and dragging down branches. Very soon Ihad a choking smoky fire of green wood and dry sticks, and could economisemy camphor. Then I turned to where Weena lay beside my iron mace. I triedwhat I could to revive her, but she lay like one dead. I could not evensatisfy myself whether or not she breathed.

“Now, the smoke of the fire beat over towards me, and it must havemade me heavy of a sudden. Moreover, the vapour of camphor was in the air.My fire would not need replenishing for an hour or so. I felt very wearyafter my exertion, and sat down. The wood, too, was full of a slumbrousmurmur that I did not understand. I seemed just to nod and open my eyes.But all was dark, and the Morlocks had their hands upon me. Flinging offtheir clinging fingers I hastily felt in my pocket for the match-box,and—it had gone! Then they gripped and closed with me again. In amoment I knew what had happened. I had slept, and my fire had gone out, andthe bitterness of death came over my soul. The forest seemed full of thesmell of burning wood. I was caught by the neck, by the hair, by the arms,and pulled down. It was indescribably horrible in the darkness to feel allthese soft creatures heaped upon me. I felt as if I was in a monstrousspider’s web. I was overpowered, and went down. I felt little teethnipping at my neck. I rolled over, and as I did so my hand came against myiron lever. It gave me strength. I struggled up, shaking the human ratsfrom me, and, holding the bar short, I thrust where I judged their facesmight be. I could feel the succulent giving of flesh and bone under myblows, and for a moment I was free.

“The strange exultation that so often seems to accompany hardfighting came upon me. I knew that both I and Weena were lost, but Idetermined to make the Morlocks pay for their meat. I stood with my back toa tree, swinging the iron bar before me. The whole wood was full of thestir and cries of them. A minute passed. Their voices seemed to rise to ahigher pitch of excitement, and their movements grew faster. Yet none camewithin reach. I stood glaring at the blackness. Then suddenly came hope.What if the Morlocks were afraid? And close on the heels of that came astrange thing. The darkness seemed to grow luminous. Very dimly I began tosee the Morlocks about me—three battered at my feet—and then Irecognised, with incredulous surprise, that the others were running, in anincessant stream, as it seemed, from behind me, and away through the woodin front. And their backs seemed no longer white, but reddish. As I stoodagape, I saw a little red spark go drifting across a gap of starlightbetween the branches, and vanish. And at that I understood the smell ofburning wood, the slumbrous murmur that was growing now into a gusty roar,the red glow, and the Morlocks’ flight.

“Stepping out from behind my tree and looking back, I saw, throughthe black pillars of the nearer trees, the flames of the burning forest. Itwas my first fire coming after me. With that I looked for Weena, but shewas gone. The hissing and crackling behind me, the explosive thud as eachfresh tree burst into flame, left little time for reflection. My iron barstill gripped, I followed in the Morlocks’ path. It was a close race.Once the flames crept forward so swiftly on my right as I ran that I wasoutflanked and had to strike off to the left. But at last I emerged upon asmall open space, and as I did so, a Morlock came blundering towards me,and past me, and went on straight into the fire!

“And now I was to see the most weird and horrible thing, I think,of all that I beheld in that future age. This whole space was as bright asday with the reflection of the fire. In the centre was a hillock ortumulus, surmounted by a scorched hawthorn. Beyond this was another arm ofthe burning forest, with yellow tongues already writhing from it,completely encircling the space with a fence of fire. Upon the hillsidewere some thirty or forty Morlocks, dazzled by the light and heat, andblundering hither and thither against each other in their bewilderment. Atfirst I did not realise their blindness, and struck furiously at them withmy bar, in a frenzy of fear, as they approached me, killing one andcrippling several more. But when I had watched the gestures of one of themgroping under the hawthorn against the red sky, and heard their moans, Iwas assured of their absolute helplessness and misery in the glare, and Istruck no more of them.

“Yet every now and then one would come straight towards me,setting loose a quivering horror that made me quick to elude him. At onetime the flames died down somewhat, and I feared the foul creatures wouldpresently be able to see me. I was thinking of beginning the fight bykilling some of them before this should happen; but the fire burst outagain brightly, and I stayed my hand. I walked about the hill among themand avoided them, looking for some trace of Weena. But Weena was gone.

“At last I sat down on the summit of the hillock, and watched thisstrange incredible company of blind things groping to and fro, and makinguncanny noises to each other, as the glare of the fire beat on them. Thecoiling uprush of smoke streamed across the sky, and through the raretatters of that red canopy, remote as though they belonged to anotheruniverse, shone the little stars. Two or three Morlocks came blunderinginto me, and I drove them off with blows of my fists, trembling as I didso.

“For the most part of that night I was persuaded it was anightmare. I bit myself and screamed in a passionate desire to awake. Ibeat the ground with my hands, and got up and sat down again, and wanderedhere and there, and again sat down. Then I would fall to rubbing my eyesand calling upon God to let me awake. Thrice I saw Morlocks put their headsdown in a kind of agony and rush into the flames. But, at last, above thesubsiding red of the fire, above the streaming masses of black smoke andthe whitening and blackening tree stumps, and the diminishing numbers ofthese dim creatures, came the white light of the day.

“I searched again for traces of Weena, but there were none. It wasplain that they had left her poor little body in the forest. I cannotdescribe how it relieved me to think that it had escaped the awful fate towhich it seemed destined. As I thought of that, I was almost moved to begina massacre of the helpless abominations about me, but I contained myself.The hillock, as I have said, was a kind of island in the forest. From itssummit I could now make out through a haze of smoke the Palace of GreenPorcelain, and from that I could get my bearings for the White Sphinx. Andso, leaving the remnant of these damned souls still going hither andthither and moaning, as the day grew clearer, I tied some grass about myfeet and limped on across smoking ashes and among black stems that stillpulsated internally with fire, towards the hiding-place of the TimeMachine. I walked slowly, for I was almost exhausted, as well as lame, andI felt the intensest wretchedness for the horrible death of little Weena.It seemed an overwhelming calamity. Now, in this old familiar room, it ismore like the sorrow of a dream than an actual loss. But that morning itleft me absolutely lonely again—terribly alone. I began to think ofthis house of mine, of this fireside, of some of you, and with suchthoughts came a longing that was pain.

“But, as I walked over the smoking ashes under the bright morningsky, I made a discovery. In my trouser pocket were still some loosematches. The box must have leaked before it was lost.

XIII.
The Trap of the White Sphinx

“About eight or nine in the morning I came to the same seat ofyellow metal from which I had viewed the world upon the evening of myarrival. I thought of my hasty conclusions upon that evening and could notrefrain from laughing bitterly at my confidence. Here was the samebeautiful scene, the same abundant foliage, the same splendid palaces andmagnificent ruins, the same silver river running between its fertile banks.The gay robes of the beautiful people moved hither and thither among thetrees. Some were bathing in exactly the place where I had saved Weena, andthat suddenly gave me a keen stab of pain. And like blots upon thelandscape rose the cupolas above the ways to the Underworld. I understoodnow what all the beauty of the Overworld people covered. Very pleasant wastheir day, as pleasant as the day of the cattle in the field. Like thecattle, they knew of no enemies and provided against no needs. And theirend was the same.

“I grieved to think how brief the dream of the human intellect hadbeen. It had committed suicide. It had set itself steadfastly towardscomfort and ease, a balanced society with security and permanency as itswatchword, it had attained its hopes—to come to this at last. Once,life and property must have reached almost absolute safety. The rich hadbeen assured of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life andwork. No doubt in that perfect world there had been no unemployed problem,no social question left unsolved. And a great quiet had followed.

“It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatilityis the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly inharmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appealsto intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is nointelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only thoseanimals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needsand dangers.

“So, as I see it, the Upperworld man had drifted towards hisfeeble prettiness, and the Underworld to mere mechanical industry. Butthat perfect state had lacked one thing even for mechanicalperfection—absolute permanency. Apparently as time went on, thefeeding of an Underworld, however it was effected, had become disjointed.Mother Necessity, who had been staved off for a few thousand years, cameback again, and she began below. The Underworld being in contact withmachinery, which, however perfect, still needs some little thought outsidehabit, had probably retained perforce rather more initiative, if less ofevery other human character, than the Upper. And when other meat failedthem, they turned to what old habit had hitherto forbidden. So I say I sawit in my last view of the world of Eight Hundred and Two Thousand SevenHundred and One. It may be as wrong an explanation as mortal wit couldinvent. It is how the thing shaped itself to me, and as that I give it toyou.

“After the fatigues, excitements, and terrors of the past days,and in spite of my grief, this seat and the tranquil view and the warmsunlight were very pleasant. I was very tired and sleepy, and soon mytheorising passed into dozing. Catching myself at that, I took my own hint,and spreading myself out upon the turf I had a long and refreshingsleep.

“I awoke a little before sunsetting. I now felt safe against beingcaught napping by the Morlocks, and, stretching myself, I came on down thehill towards the White Sphinx. I had my crowbar in one hand, and the otherhand played with the matches in my pocket.

“And now came a most unexpected thing. As I approached thepedestal of the sphinx I found the bronze valves were open. They had sliddown into grooves.

“At that I stopped short before them, hesitating to enter.

“Within was a small apartment, and on a raised place in the cornerof this was the Time Machine. I had the small levers in my pocket. So here,after all my elaborate preparations for the siege of the White Sphinx, wasa meek surrender. I threw my iron bar away, almost sorry not to use it.

“A sudden thought came into my head as I stooped towards theportal. For once, at least, I grasped the mental operations of theMorlocks. Suppressing a strong inclination to laugh, I stepped through thebronze frame and up to the Time Machine. I was surprised to find it hadbeen carefully oiled and cleaned. I have suspected since that the Morlockshad even partially taken it to pieces while trying in their dim way tograsp its purpose.

“Now as I stood and examined it, finding a pleasure in the meretouch of the contrivance, the thing I had expected happened. The bronzepanels suddenly slid up and struck the frame with a clang. I was in thedark—trapped. So the Morlocks thought. At that I chuckledgleefully.

“I could already hear their murmuring laughter as they cametowards me. Very calmly I tried to strike the match. I had only to fix onthe levers and depart then like a ghost. But I had overlooked one littlething. The matches were of that abominable kind that light only on thebox.

“You may imagine how all my calm vanished. The little brutes wereclose upon me. One touched me. I made a sweeping blow in the dark at themwith the levers, and began to scramble into the saddle of the machine. Thencame one hand upon me and then another. Then I had simply to fight againsttheir persistent fingers for my levers, and at the same time feel for thestuds over which these fitted. One, indeed, they almost got away from me.As it slipped from my hand, I had to butt in the dark with my head—Icould hear the Morlock’s skull ring—to recover it. It was anearer thing than the fight in the forest, I think, this last scramble.

“But at last the lever was fixed and pulled over. The clinginghands slipped from me. The darkness presently fell from my eyes. I foundmyself in the same grey light and tumult I have already described.

XIV.
The Further Vision

“I have already told you of the sickness and confusion that comeswith time travelling. And this time I was not seated properly in thesaddle, but sideways and in an unstable fashion. For an indefinite time Iclung to the machine as it swayed and vibrated, quite unheeding how I went,and when I brought myself to look at the dials again I was amazed to findwhere I had arrived. One dial records days, and another thousands of days,another millions of days, and another thousands of millions. Now, insteadof reversing the levers, I had pulled them over so as to go forward withthem, and when I came to look at these indicators I found that thethousands hand was sweeping round as fast as the seconds hand of awatch—into futurity.

“As I drove on, a peculiar change crept over the appearance ofthings. The palpitating greyness grew darker; then—though I was stilltravelling with prodigious velocity—the blinking succession of dayand night, which was usually indicative of a slower pace, returned, andgrew more and more marked. This puzzled me very much at first. Thealternations of night and day grew slower and slower, and so did thepassage of the sun across the sky, until they seemed to stretch throughcenturies. At last a steady twilight brooded over the earth, a twilightonly broken now and then when a comet glared across the darkling sky. Theband of light that had indicated the sun had long since disappeared; forthe sun had ceased to set—it simply rose and fell in the west, andgrew ever broader and more red. All trace of the moon had vanished. Thecircling of the stars, growing slower and slower, had given place tocreeping points of light. At last, some time before I stopped, the sun, redand very large, halted motionless upon the horizon, a vast dome glowingwith a dull heat, and now and then suffering a momentary extinction. At onetime it had for a little while glowed more brilliantly again, but itspeedily reverted to its sullen red heat. I perceived by this slowing downof its rising and setting that the work of the tidal drag was done. Theearth had come to rest with one face to the sun, even as in our own timethe moon faces the earth. Very cautiously, for I remembered my formerheadlong fall, I began to reverse my motion. Slower and slower went thecircling hands until the thousands one seemed motionless and the daily onewas no longer a mere mist upon its scale. Still slower, until the dimoutlines of a desolate beach grew visible.

“I stopped very gently and sat upon the Time Machine, lookinground. The sky was no longer blue. North-eastward it was inky black, andout of the blackness shone brightly and steadily the pale white stars.Overhead it was a deep Indian red and starless, and south-eastward it grewbrighter to a glowing scarlet where, cut by the horizon, lay the huge hullof the sun, red and motionless. The rocks about me were of a harsh reddishcolour, and all the trace of life that I could see at first was theintensely green vegetation that covered every projecting point on theirsouth-eastern face. It was the same rich green that one sees on forest mossor on the lichen in caves: plants which like these grow in a perpetualtwilight.

“The machine was standing on a sloping beach. The sea stretchedaway to the south-west, to rise into a sharp bright horizon against the wansky. There were no breakers and no waves, for not a breath of wind wasstirring. Only a slight oily swell rose and fell like a gentle breathing,and showed that the eternal sea was still moving and living. And along themargin where the water sometimes broke was a thick incrustation ofsalt—pink under the lurid sky. There was a sense of oppression in myhead, and I noticed that I was breathing very fast. The sensation remindedme of my only experience of mountaineering, and from that I judged the airto be more rarefied than it is now.

“Far away up the desolate slope I heard a harsh scream, and saw athing like a huge white butterfly go slanting and fluttering up into thesky and, circling, disappear over some low hillocks beyond. The sound ofits voice was so dismal that I shivered and seated myself more firmly uponthe machine. Looking round me again, I saw that, quite near, what I hadtaken to be a reddish mass of rock was moving slowly towards me. Then I sawthe thing was really a monstrous crab-like creature. Can you imagine a crabas large as yonder table, with its many legs moving slowly and uncertainly,its big claws swaying, its long antennæ, like carters’ whips, wavingand feeling, and its stalked eyes gleaming at you on either side of itsmetallic front? Its back was corrugated and ornamented with ungainlybosses, and a greenish incrustation blotched it here and there. I could seethe many palps of its complicated mouth flickering and feeling as itmoved.

“As I stared at this sinister apparition crawling towards me, Ifelt a tickling on my cheek as though a fly had lighted there. I tried tobrush it away with my hand, but in a moment it returned, and almostimmediately came another by my ear. I struck at this, and caught somethingthreadlike. It was drawn swiftly out of my hand. With a frightful qualm, Iturned, and I saw that I had grasped the antenna of another monster crabthat stood just behind me. Its evil eyes were wriggling on their stalks,its mouth was all alive with appetite, and its vast ungainly claws, smearedwith an algal slime, were descending upon me. In a moment my hand was onthe lever, and I had placed a month between myself and these monsters. ButI was still on the same beach, and I saw them distinctly now as soon as Istopped. Dozens of them seemed to be crawling here and there, in the sombrelight, among the foliated sheets of intense green.

“I cannot convey the sense of abominable desolation that hung overthe world. The red eastern sky, the northward blackness, the salt Dead Sea,the stony beach crawling with these foul, slow-stirring monsters, theuniform poisonous-looking green of the lichenous plants, the thin air thathurts one’s lungs: all contributed to an appalling effect. I moved ona hundred years, and there was the same red sun—a little larger, alittle duller—the same dying sea, the same chill air, and the samecrowd of earthy crustacea creeping in and out among the green weed and thered rocks. And in the westward sky, I saw a curved pale line like a vastnew moon.

“So I travelled, stopping ever and again, in great strides of athousand years or more, drawn on by the mystery of the earth’s fate,watching with a strange fascination the sun grow larger and duller in thewestward sky, and the life of the old earth ebb away. At last, more thanthirty million years hence, the huge red-hot dome of the sun had come toobscure nearly a tenth part of the darkling heavens. Then I stopped oncemore, for the crawling multitude of crabs had disappeared, and the redbeach, save for its livid green liverworts and lichens, seemed lifeless.And now it was flecked with white. A bitter cold assailed me. Rare whiteflakes ever and again came eddying down. To the north-eastward, the glareof snow lay under the starlight of the sable sky, and I could see anundulating crest of hillocks pinkish white. There were fringes of ice alongthe sea margin, with drifting masses farther out; but the main expanse ofthat salt ocean, all bloody under the eternal sunset, was stillunfrozen.

“I looked about me to see if any traces of animal life remained. Acertain indefinable apprehension still kept me in the saddle of themachine. But I saw nothing moving, in earth or sky or sea. The green slimeon the rocks alone testified that life was not extinct. A shallow sandbankhad appeared in the sea and the water had receded from the beach. I fanciedI saw some black object flopping about upon this bank, but it becamemotionless as I looked at it, and I judged that my eye had been deceived,and that the black object was merely a rock. The stars in the sky wereintensely bright and seemed to me to twinkle very little.

“Suddenly I noticed that the circular westward outline of the sunhad changed; that a concavity, a bay, had appeared in the curve. I saw thisgrow larger. For a minute perhaps I stared aghast at this blackness thatwas creeping over the day, and then I realised that an eclipse wasbeginning. Either the moon or the planet Mercury was passing across thesun’s disk. Naturally, at first I took it to be the moon, but thereis much to incline me to believe that what I really saw was the transit ofan inner planet passing very near to the earth.

“The darkness grew apace; a cold wind began to blow in fresheninggusts from the east, and the showering white flakes in the air increased innumber. From the edge of the sea came a ripple and whisper. Beyond theselifeless sounds the world was silent. Silent? It would be hard to conveythe stillness of it. All the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep, thecries of birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background ofour lives—all that was over. As the darkness thickened, the eddyingflakes grew more abundant, dancing before my eyes; and the cold of the airmore intense. At last, one by one, swiftly, one after the other, the whitepeaks of the distant hills vanished into blackness. The breeze rose to amoaning wind. I saw the black central shadow of the eclipse sweepingtowards me. In another moment the pale stars alone were visible. All elsewas rayless obscurity. The sky was absolutely black.

“A horror of this great darkness came on me. The cold, that smoteto my marrow, and the pain I felt in breathing, overcame me. I shivered,and a deadly nausea seized me. Then like a red-hot bow in the sky appearedthe edge of the sun. I got off the machine to recover myself. I felt giddyand incapable of facing the return journey. As I stood sick and confused Isaw again the moving thing upon the shoal—there was no mistake nowthat it was a moving thing—against the red water of the sea. It was around thing, the size of a football perhaps, or, it may be, bigger, andtentacles trailed down from it; it seemed black against the welteringblood-red water, and it was hopping fitfully about. Then I felt I wasfainting. But a terrible dread of lying helpless in that remote and awfultwilight sustained me while I clambered upon the saddle.

XV.
The Time Traveller’s Return

“So I came back. For a long time I must have been insensible uponthe machine. The blinking succession of the days and nights was resumed,the sun got golden again, the sky blue. I breathed with greater freedom.The fluctuating contours of the land ebbed and flowed. The hands spunbackward upon the dials. At last I saw again the dim shadows of houses, theevidences of decadent humanity. These, too, changed and passed, and otherscame. Presently, when the million dial was at zero, I slackened speed. Ibegan to recognise our own pretty and familiar architecture, the thousandshand ran back to the starting-point, the night and day flapped slower andslower. Then the old walls of the laboratory came round me. Very gently,now, I slowed the mechanism down.

“I saw one little thing that seemed odd to me. I think I have toldyou that when I set out, before my velocity became very high, Mrs. Watchetthad walked across the room, travelling, as it seemed to me, like a rocket.As I returned, I passed again across that minute when she traversed thelaboratory. But now her every motion appeared to be the exact inversion ofher previous ones. The door at the lower end opened, and she glided quietlyup the laboratory, back foremost, and disappeared behind the door by whichshe had previously entered. Just before that I seemed to see Hillyer for amoment; but he passed like a flash.

“Then I stopped the machine, and saw about me again the oldfamiliar laboratory, my tools, my appliances just as I had left them. I gotoff the thing very shakily, and sat down upon my bench. For several minutesI trembled violently. Then I became calmer. Around me was my old workshopagain, exactly as it had been. I might have slept there, and the wholething have been a dream.

“And yet, not exactly! The thing had started from the south-eastcorner of the laboratory. It had come to rest again in the north-west,against the wall where you saw it. That gives you the exact distance frommy little lawn to the pedestal of the White Sphinx, into which the Morlockshad carried my machine.

“For a time my brain went stagnant. Presently I got up and camethrough the passage here, limping, because my heel was still painful, andfeeling sorely begrimed. I saw the Pall Mall Gazette on the table bythe door. I found the date was indeed today, and looking at the timepiece,saw the hour was almost eight o’clock. I heard your voices and theclatter of plates. I hesitated—I felt so sick and weak. Then Isniffed good wholesome meat, and opened the door on you. You know the rest.I washed, and dined, and now I am telling you the story.

XVI.
After the Story

“I know,” he said, after a pause, “that all this will beabsolutely incredible to you, but to me the one incredible thing is that Iam here tonight in this old familiar room looking into your friendly facesand telling you these strange adventures.” He looked at the MedicalMan. “No. I cannot expect you to believe it. Take it as alie—or a prophecy. Say I dreamed it in the workshop. Consider I havebeen speculating upon the destinies of our race, until I have hatched thisfiction. Treat my assertion of its truth as a mere stroke of art to enhanceits interest. And taking it as a story, what do you think of it?”

He took up his pipe, and began, in his old accustomed manner, to tapwith it nervously upon the bars of the grate. There was a momentarystillness. Then chairs began to creak and shoes to scrape upon the carpet.I took my eyes off the Time Traveller’s face, and looked round at hisaudience. They were in the dark, and little spots of colour swam beforethem. The Medical Man seemed absorbed in the contemplation of our host. TheEditor was looking hard at the end of his cigar—the sixth. TheJournalist fumbled for his watch. The others, as far as I remember, weremotionless.

The Editor stood up with a sigh. “What a pity it is you’renot a writer of stories!” he said, putting his hand on the TimeTraveller’s shoulder.

“You don’t believe it?”

“Well——”

“I thought not.”

The Time Traveller turned to us. “Where are the matches?” hesaid. He lit one and spoke over his pipe, puffing. “To tell you thetruth... I hardly believe it myself..... And yet...”

His eye fell with a mute inquiry upon the withered white flowers uponthe little table. Then he turned over the hand holding his pipe, and I sawhe was looking at some half-healed scars on his knuckles.

The Medical Man rose, came to the lamp, and examined the flowers.“The gynæceum’s odd,” he said. The Psychologist leantforward to see, holding out his hand for a specimen.

“I’m hanged if it isn’t a quarter to one,” saidthe Journalist. “How shall we get home?”

“Plenty of cabs at the station,” said the Psychologist.

“It’s a curious thing,” said the Medical Man;“but I certainly don’t know the natural order of these flowers.May I have them?”

The Time Traveller hesitated. Then suddenly: “Certainlynot.”

“Where did you really get them?” said the Medical Man.

The Time Traveller put his hand to his head. He spoke like one who wastrying to keep hold of an idea that eluded him. “They were put intomy pocket by Weena, when I travelled into Time.” He stared round theroom. “I’m damned if it isn’t all going. This room andyou and the atmosphere of every day is too much for my memory. Did I evermake a Time Machine, or a model of a Time Machine? Or is it all only adream? They say life is a dream, a precious poor dream at times—but Ican’t stand another that won’t fit. It’s madness. Andwhere did the dream come from? … I must look at that machine. If there isone!”

He caught up the lamp swiftly, and carried it, flaring red, through thedoor into the corridor. We followed him. There in the flickering light ofthe lamp was the machine sure enough, squat, ugly, and askew, a thing ofbrass, ebony, ivory, and translucent glimmering quartz. Solid to thetouch—for I put out my hand and felt the rail of it—and withbrown spots and smears upon the ivory, and bits of grass and moss upon thelower parts, and one rail bent awry.

The Time Traveller put the lamp down on the bench, and ran his handalong the damaged rail. “It’s all right now,” he said.“The story I told you was true. I’m sorry to have brought youout here in the cold.” He took up the lamp, and, in an absolutesilence, we returned to the smoking-room.

He came into the hall with us and helped the Editor on with his coat.The Medical Man looked into his face and, with a certain hesitation, toldhim he was suffering from overwork, at which he laughed hugely. I rememberhim standing in the open doorway, bawling good-night.

I shared a cab with the Editor. He thought the tale a “gaudylie.” For my own part I was unable to come to a conclusion. The storywas so fantastic and incredible, the telling so credible and sober. I layawake most of the night thinking about it. I determined to go next day andsee the Time Traveller again. I was told he was in the laboratory, andbeing on easy terms in the house, I went up to him. The laboratory,however, was empty. I stared for a minute at the Time Machine and put outmy hand and touched the lever. At that the squat substantial-looking massswayed like a bough shaken by the wind. Its instability startled meextremely, and I had a queer reminiscence of the childish days when I usedto be forbidden to meddle. I came back through the corridor. The TimeTraveller met me in the smoking-room. He was coming from the house. He hada small camera under one arm and a knapsack under the other. He laughedwhen he saw me, and gave me an elbow to shake. “I’m frightfullybusy,” said he, “with that thing in there.”

“But is it not some hoax?” I said. “Do you reallytravel through time?”

“Really and truly I do.” And he looked frankly into my eyes.He hesitated. His eye wandered about the room. “I only want half anhour,” he said. “I know why you came, and it’s awfullygood of you. There’s some magazines here. If you’ll stop tolunch I’ll prove you this time travelling up to the hilt, specimensand all. If you’ll forgive my leaving you now?”

I consented, hardly comprehending then the full import of his words, andhe nodded and went on down the corridor. I heard the door of the laboratoryslam, seated myself in a chair, and took up a daily paper. What was hegoing to do before lunch-time? Then suddenly I was reminded by anadvertisement that I had promised to meet Richardson, the publisher, attwo. I looked at my watch, and saw that I could barely save thatengagement. I got up and went down the passage to tell the TimeTraveller.

As I took hold of the handle of the door I heard an exclamation, oddlytruncated at the end, and a click and a thud. A gust of air whirled roundme as I opened the door, and from within came the sound of broken glassfalling on the floor. The Time Traveller was not there. I seemed to see aghostly, indistinct figure sitting in a whirling mass of black and brassfor a moment—a figure so transparent that the bench behind with itssheets of drawings was absolutely distinct; but this phantasm vanished as Irubbed my eyes. The Time Machine had gone. Save for a subsiding stir ofdust, the further end of the laboratory was empty. A pane of the skylighthad, apparently, just been blown in.

I felt an unreasonable amazement. I knew that something strange hadhappened, and for the moment could not distinguish what the strange thingmight be. As I stood staring, the door into the garden opened, and theman-servant appeared.

We looked at each other. Then ideas began to come. “Has Mr.—— gone out that way?” said I.

“No, sir. No one has come out this way. I was expecting to findhim here.”

At that I understood. At the risk of disappointing Richardson I stayedon, waiting for the Time Traveller; waiting for the second, perhaps stillstranger story, and the specimens and photographs he would bring with him.But I am beginning now to fear that I must wait a lifetime. The TimeTraveller vanished three years ago. And, as everybody knows now, he hasnever returned.

Epilogue

One cannot choose but wonder. Will he ever return? It may be that heswept back into the past, and fell among the blood-drinking, hairy savagesof the Age of Unpolished Stone; into the abysses of the Cretaceous Sea; oramong the grotesque saurians, the huge reptilian brutes of the Jurassictimes. He may even now—if I may use the phrase—be wandering onsome plesiosaurus-haunted Oolitic coral reef, or beside the lonely salineseas of the Triassic Age. Or did he go forward, into one of the nearerages, in which men are still men, but with the riddles of our own timeanswered and its wearisome problems solved? Into the manhood of the race:for I, for my own part, cannot think that these latter days of weakexperiment, fragmentary theory, and mutual discord are indeed man’sculminating time! I say, for my own part. He, I know—for the questionhad been discussed among us long before the Time Machine wasmade—thought but cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind, and sawin the growing pile of civilisation only a foolish heaping that mustinevitably fall back upon and destroy its makers in the end. If that is so,it remains for us to live as though it were not so. But to me the future isstill black and blank—is a vast ignorance, lit at a few casual placesby the memory of his story. And I have by me, for my comfort, two strangewhite flowers—shrivelled now, and brown and flat and brittle—towitness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutualtenderness still lived on in the heart of man.

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