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The Time Machine
by H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells

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`Now, indeed, I seemed in a worse case than before. Hitherto,

except during my night's anguish at the loss of the Time Machine,

I had felt a sustaining hope of ultimate escape, but that hope

was staggered by these new discoveries. Hitherto I had merely

thought myself impeded by the childish simplicity of the little

people, and by some unknown forces which I had only to understand

to overcome; but there was an altogether new element in the

sickening quality of the Morlocks--a something inhuman and

malign. Instinctively I loathed them. Before, I had felt as a

man might feel who had fallen into a pit: my concern was with

the pit and how to get out of it. Now I felt like a beast in a

trap, whose enemy would come upon him soon.

`The enemy I dreaded may surprise you. It was the darkness of

the new moon. Weena had put this into my head by some at first

incomprehensible remarks about the Dark Nights. It was not now

such a very difficult problem to 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 to some

slight degree at least the reason of the fear of the little

Upper-world people for the dark. I wondered vaguely what foul

villainy it might be that the Morlocks did under the new moon. I

felt pretty sure now that my second hypothesis was all wrong.

The Upper-world people might once have been the favoured

aristocracy, and the Morlocks their mechanical servants: but

that had long since passed away. The two species that had

resulted from the evolution of man were sliding down towards, or

had already arrived at, an altogether new relationship. The Eloi,

like the Carolingian kings, had decayed to a mere beautiful

futility. They still possessed the earth on sufferance: since

the Morlocks, subterranean for innumerable generations, had come

at last to find the daylit surface intolerable. And the Morlocks

made their garments, I inferred, and maintained them in their

habitual needs, perhaps through the survival of an old 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

departed necessities had impressed it on the organism. But,

clearly, the old order was already in part reversed. The Nemesis

of the delicate ones was creeping on apace. Ages ago, thousands

of generations ago, man had thrust his brother man out of the

ease and the sunshine. And now that brother was coming back

changed! Already the Eloi had begun to learn one old lesson

anew. They were becoming reacquainted with Fear. And suddenly

there came into my head the memory of the meat I had seen in the

Under-world. It seemed odd how it floated into my mind: not

stirred up as it were by the current of my meditations, but

coming in almost like a question from outside. I tried to recall

the form of it. I had a vague sense of something familiar, but I

could not tell what it was at the time.

`Still, however helpless the little people in the presence of

their mysterious Fear, I was differently constituted. I came out

of this age of ours, this ripe prime of the human race, when Fear

does not paralyse and mystery has lost its terrors. I at least

would defend myself. Without further delay I determined to make

myself arms and a fastness where I might sleep. With that refuge

as a base, I could face this strange world with some of that

confidence I had lost in realizing to what creatures night by

night I lay exposed. I felt I could never sleep again until my

bed was secure from them. I shuddered with horror to think how

they must already have 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 the buildings and trees seemed easily

practicable to such dexterous climbers as the Morlocks, to judge

by their wells, must be. Then the tall pinnacles of the Palace

of Green Porcelain and the polished gleam of its walls came back

to my memory; and in the evening, taking Weena like a child upon

my shoulder, I went up the hills towards the south-west. The

distance, I had reckoned, was seven or eight miles, but it must

have been nearer eighteen. I had first seen the place on a moist

afternoon when distances are deceptively diminished. In

addition, the heel of one of my shoes was loose, and a nail was

working through the sole--they were comfortable old shoes I wore

about indoors--so that I was lame. And it was already long past

sunset when I came in sight of the palace, silhouetted black

against the pale yellow of the sky.

`Weena had been hugely delighted when I began to carry her,

but after a while she desired me to let her down, and ran along

by the side of me, occasionally darting off on either hand to

pick flowers to stick in my pockets. My pockets had always

puzzled Weena, but at the last she had concluded that they were

an eccentric kind of vase for floral decoration. At least she

utilized them for that purpose. And that reminds me! In

changing my jacket I found . . .'

The Time Traveller paused, put his hand into his pocket, and

silently placed two withered flowers, not unlike very large white

mallows, upon the little table. Then he resumed his narrative.

`As the hush of evening crept over the world and we proceeded

over the hill crest towards Wimbledon, Weena grew tired and

wanted to return to the house of grey stone. But I pointed out

the distant pinnacles of the Palace of Green Porcelain to her,

and contrived to make her understand that we were seeking a

refuge there from her Fear. You know that great pause that 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 far down in the sunset. Well, that night the

expectation took the colour of my fears. In that darkling calm

my senses seemed preternaturally sharpened. I fancied I could

even feel the hollowness of the ground beneath my feet: could,

indeed, almost see through it the Morlocks on their ant-hill

going hither and thither and waiting for the dark. In my

excitement I fancied that they would receive my invasion of their

burrows as a declaration of war. And why had they taken my Time


`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 her fatigue grew upon her. I took her in my

arms and talked to her and caressed her. 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 we went

down a long slope into a valley, and there in the dimness I

almost walked into a little river. This I waded, and went up the

opposite side of the 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 I had seen nothing of the

Morlocks, but it was yet early in the night, and the 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 and black before me. I hesitated at this. I could see no

end to it, either to the right or the left. Feeling tired--my

feet, in particular, were very sore--I carefully lowered Weena

from my shoulder as I halted, and sat down upon the turf. I

could no longer see the Palace of Green Porcelain, and I was in

doubt of my direction. I looked into the thickness of the wood

and thought of what it might hide. Under that dense tangle of

branches one would be out of sight of the stars. Even were there

no other lurking danger--a danger I did not care to let my

imagination loose upon--there would still be all the roots to

stumble over and the tree-boles to strike against.

`I was very tired, too, after the excitements of the day; so I

decided that I would not face it, but would pass the night upon

the open hill.

`Weena, I was glad to find, was fast asleep. I carefully

wrapped her in my jacket, and sat down beside her to wait for the

moonrise. The hill-side was quiet and deserted, but from the

black of the wood there came now and then a stir of living

things. Above me shone the stars, for the night was very clear.

I felt a certain sense of friendly comfort in their twinkling.

All the old constellations had gone from the sky, however: that

slow movement which is imperceptible in a hundred human

lifetimes, had long since rearranged them in unfamiliar

groupings. But the Milky Way, it seemed to 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 these

scintillating points of light one bright planet shone kindly and

steadily like the face of an old friend.

`Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and

all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their

unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their

movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. I

thought of the great precessional cycle that the pole of the

earth describes. Only forty times had that silent revolution

occurred during all the years that I had traversed. And during

these few revolutions all the activity, all the traditions, the

complex organizations, 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 Great Fear that was

between the two species, and for the first time, with a sudden

shiver, came the clear knowledge of what the meat I had seen

might be. Yet it was too horrible! I looked at little Weena

sleeping beside me, her face white and starlike under the stars,

and forthwith dismissed the thought.

`Through that long night I held my mind off the Morlocks as

well as I could, and whiled away the time by trying to fancy I

could find signs of 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 vigil wore on, came a faintness in

the eastward sky, like the reflection of some colourless fire,

and the old moon rose, thin and peaked and white. And close

behind, and overtaking it, and overflowing it, the dawn came,

pale at first, 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 of renewed day it almost seemed to me that

my fear had been unreasonable. I stood up and found my foot with

the loose heel swollen at the ankle and painful under the heel;

so I sat down again, took off my shoes, and flung them away.

`I awakened Weena, and we went down into the wood, now green

and pleasant instead of black and forbidding. We found some

fruit wherewith to break our fast. We soon met others of the

dainty ones, laughing and dancing in 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 assured now of

what it was, and from the bottom of my heart I pitied this last

feeble rill from the great flood of humanity. Clearly, at some

time in the Long-Ago of human decay the Morlocks' food had run

short. Possibly they had lived on rats and such-like vermin.

Even now man is far less discriminating and exclusive in his food

than he was--far less than any monkey. His prejudice against

human flesh is no deep-seated instinct. And so these inhuman

sons of men----! I tried to look at the thing in a scientific

spirit. After all, they were less human and more remote than our

cannibal ancestors of three or four thousand years ago. And the

intelligence that would have made this state of things a torment

had gone. Why should I trouble myself? These Eloi were mere

fatted cattle, which the ant-like Morlocks preserved and preyed

upon--probably saw to the breeding of. And there was Weena

dancing at my side!

`Then I tried to preserve myself from the horror that was

coming upon me, by regarding it as a rigorous punishment of human

selfishness. Man had been content to live in ease and delight

upon the labours of his fellow-man, had taken Necessity as his

watchword and excuse, and in the fullness of time Necessity had

come home to him. I even tried a Carlyle-like scorn of this

wretched aristocracy in decay. But this attitude of mind was

impossible. However great their intellectual degradation, the

Eloi had kept too much of the human form not to claim my

sympathy, and to make me perforce a sharer in their degradation

and their Fear.

`I had at that time very vague ideas as to the course I should

pursue. My first was to secure some safe place of refuge, and to

make myself such arms of metal or stone as I could contrive.

That necessity was immediate. In the next place, I hoped to

procure some means of fire, so that 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 arrange some

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 enter those doors and carry a blaze of light before me

I should discover the Time Machine and escape. I could not

imagine the Morlocks were strong enough to move 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

the building which my fancy had chosen as our dwelling.



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