TWT logo

Together We Teach
Reading Room

Take time to read.
Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.

| Home | Reading Room The Time Machine

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

< BACK    NEXT >




`We emerged from the palace while the sun was still in part

above the horizon. 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 me on 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 progress was slower than I had anticipated, and

besides Weena was tired. And I began to suffer from sleepiness

too; so that it was full night before we reached the wood. Upon

the shrubby hill of its edge Weena would have stopped, fearing

the darkness before us; but a singular sense of impending

calamity, 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 and irritable. I felt sleep coming upon me,

and the Morlocks with it.

`While we hesitated, among the black bushes behind us, and dim

against their blackness, I saw three crouching figures. There

was scrub and long grass all about us, and I did not feel safe

from their insidious approach. The forest, I calculated, was

rather less than a mile across. If we could get through it to

the bare hill-side, there, as it seemed to me, was an altogether

safer resting-place; I thought that with my matches and my

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 should have to abandon my firewood; so, rather

reluctantly, I put it down. And then it came into my head that I

would amaze our friends behind by lighting it. I was to discover

the atrocious folly of this proceeding, but it came to my mind as

an ingenious move for covering our retreat.

`I don't know if you have ever thought what a rare thing flame

must be in the absence of man and in a temperate climate. The

sun's heat is rarely strong enough to burn, even when it is

focused by dewdrops, as is sometimes the case in more tropical

districts. Lightning may blast and blacken, but it rarely gives

rise to widespread fire. Decaying vegetation may occasionally

smoulder with the heat of its fermentation, but this rarely

results in flame. In this decadence, too, the art of fire-making

had been forgotten on the earth. The red tongues that went

licking up my heap of wood were an altogether new and strange

thing to Weena.

`She wanted to run to it and play with it. I believe she

would have 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. For a little way the glare of my fire

lit the path. Looking back presently, I could see, through the

crowded stems, that from my heap of sticks the blaze had spread

to some bushes adjacent, and a curved line of fire was creeping

up the grass of the hill. I laughed at that, and turned again to

the dark trees before me. It was very black, and Weena clung to

me convulsively, but there was still, as my eyes grew accustomed

to the darkness, sufficient light for me to avoid the stems.

Overhead it was simply black, except where a gap of remote blue

sky shone down upon us here and there. I struck none of my

matches because I had no hand free. Upon my left arm I carried

my little one, in my right hand I had my iron bar.

`For some way I heard nothing but the crackling twigs under my

feet, the faint rustle of the breeze above, and my own breathing

and the throb of the blood-vessels in my ears. Then I seemed to

know of a pattering about me. I pushed on grimly. The pattering

grew more distinct, and then I caught the same queer sound and

voices I had heard in the Under-world. There were evidently

several of the Morlocks, and they were closing in upon me.

Indeed, in another minute I felt a tug at my coat, then something

at my arm. And Weena shivered violently, and became quite still.

`It was time for a match. But to get one I must put her down.

I did so, and, as I fumbled with my pocket, a struggle began in

the darkness about my knees, perfectly silent on her part and

with the same peculiar cooing sounds from the Morlocks. Soft

little hands, too, were creeping over my coat and back, touching

even my neck. Then the match scratched and fizzed. I held it

flaring, and saw the white backs of the Morlocks in flight amid

the trees. I hastily took a lump of camphor from my pocket, and

prepared to light is as soon as the match should wane. Then I

looked at Weena. She was lying clutching my feet and quite

motionless, with her face to the ground. With a sudden fright I

stooped to her. She seemed scarcely to breathe. I lit the block

of camphor and flung it to the ground, and as it split and flared

up and drove back the Morlocks and the shadows, I knelt down and

lifted her. The wood behind seemed full of the stir and murmur

of a great company!

`She seemed to have fainted. I put her carefully upon my

shoulder and rose to push on, and then there came a horrible

realization. In manoeuvring with my matches and Weena, I had

turned myself about several times, 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 Green Porcelain. I found

myself in a cold sweat. I had to think rapidly what to do. 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 first lump of camphor waned, I began collecting

sticks and leaves. Here and there out of the darkness round me

the Morlocks' eyes shone like carbuncles.

`The camphor flickered and went out. I lit a match, and as I

did so, 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 felt his 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, and went on gathering

my bonfire. Presently I noticed how dry was some of the foliage

above me, for since my arrival on the Time Machine, a matter of a

week, no rain had fallen. So, instead of casting about among the

trees for fallen twigs, I began leaping up and dragging down

branches. Very soon I had a choking smoky fire of green wood and

dry sticks, and could economize my camphor. Then I turned to

where Weena lay beside my iron mace. I tried what I could to

revive her, but she lay like one dead. I could not even satisfy

myself whether or not she breathed.

`Now, the smoke of the fire beat over towards me, and it must

have made 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 weary after my exertion, and sat down. The

wood, too, was full of a slumbrous murmur 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 off

their 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 a moment I knew what had happened. I had slept,

and my fire had gone out, and the bitterness of death came over

my soul. The forest seemed full of the smell 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 all

these soft creatures heaped upon me. I felt as if I was in a

monstrous spider's web. I was overpowered, and went down. I

felt little teeth nipping at my neck. I rolled over, and as I

did so my hand came against my iron lever. It gave me strength.

I struggled up, shaking the human rats from me, and, holding the

bar short, I thrust where I judged their faces might be. I could

feel the succulent giving of flesh and bone under my blows, and

for a moment I was free.

`The strange exultation that so often seems to accompany hard

fighting came upon me. I knew that both I and Weena were lost,

but I determined to make the Morlocks pay for their meat. I

stood with my back to a tree, swinging the iron bar before me.

The whole wood was full of the stir and cries of them. A minute

passed. Their voices seemed to rise to a higher pitch of

excitement, and their movements grew faster. Yet none came

within 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 a strange thing. The darkness seemed to grow

luminous. Very dimly I began to see the Morlocks about me--three

battered at my feet--and then I recognized, with incredulous

surprise, that the others were running, in an incessant stream,

as it seemed, from behind me, and away through the wood in front.

And their backs seemed no longer white, but reddish. As I stood

agape, I saw a little red spark go drifting across a gap of

starlight between the branches, and vanish. And at that I

understood the smell of burning 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,

through the black pillars of the nearer trees, the flames of the

burning forest. It was my first fire coming after me. With that

I looked for Weena, but she was gone. The hissing and crackling

behind me, the explosive thud as each fresh tree burst into

flame, left little time for reflection. My iron bar still

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 was outflanked and had to strike off to the left. But at

last I emerged upon a small 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 as day with the reflection of the fire. In the

centre was a hillock or tumulus, surmounted by a scorched

hawthorn. Beyond this was another arm of the burning forest,

with yellow tongues already writhing from it, completely

encircling the space with a fence of fire. Upon the hill-side

were some thirty or forty Morlocks, dazzled by the light and

heat, and blundering hither and thither against each other in

their bewilderment. At first I did not realize their blindness,

and struck furiously at them with my bar, in a frenzy of fear, as

they approached me, killing one and crippling several more. But

when I had watched the gestures of one of them groping under the

hawthorn against the red sky, and heard their moans, I was

assured of their absolute helplessness and misery in the glare,

and I struck 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 one time the flames died down somewhat, and I feared the foul

creatures would presently be able to see me. I was thinking of

beginning the fight by killing some of them before this should

happen; but the fire burst out again brightly, and I stayed my

hand. I walked about the hill among them and 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

this strange incredible company of blind things groping to and

fro, and making uncanny noises to each other, as the glare of the

fire beat on them. The coiling uprush of smoke streamed across

the sky, and through the rare tatters of that red canopy, remote

as though they belonged to another universe, shone the little

stars. Two or three Morlocks came blundering into me, and I

drove them off with blows of my fists, trembling as I did so.

`For the most part of that night I was persuaded it was a

nightmare. I bit myself and screamed in a passionate desire to

awake. I beat the ground with my hands, and got up and sat down

again, and wandered here and there, and again sat down. Then I

would fall to rubbing my eyes and calling upon God to let me

awake. Thrice I saw Morlocks put their heads down in a kind of

agony and rush into the flames. But, at last, above the

subsiding red of the fire, above the streaming masses of black

smoke and the whitening and blackening tree stumps, and the

diminishing numbers of these dim creatures, came the white light

of the day.

`I searched again for traces of Weena, but there were none.

It was plain that they had left her poor little body in the

forest. I cannot describe how it relieved me to think that it

had escaped the awful fate to which it seemed destined. As I

thought of that, I was almost moved to begin a 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 its summit I could now make out through a haze of smoke the

Palace of Green Porcelain, and from that I could get my bearings

for the White Sphinx. And so, leaving the remnant of these

damned souls still going hither and thither and moaning, as the

day grew clearer, I tied some grass about my feet and limped on

across smoking ashes and among black stems, that still pulsated

internally with fire, towards the hiding-place of the Time

Machine. I walked slowly, for I was almost exhausted, as well as

lame, and I felt the intensest wretchedness for the horrible

death of little Weena. It seemed an overwhelming calamity. Now,

in this old familiar room, it is more like the sorrow of a dream

than an actual loss. But that morning it left me absolutely

lonely again--terribly alone. I began to think of this house of

mine, of this fireside, of some of you, and with such thoughts

came a longing that was pain.

`But as I walked over the smoking ashes under the bright

morning sky, I made a discovery. In my trouser pocket were still

some loose matches. The box must have leaked before it was lost.



Top of Page

< BACK    NEXT >

| Home | Reading Room The Time Machine





Why not spread the word about Together We Teach?
Simply copy & paste our home page link below into your emails... 

Want the Together We Teach link to place on your website?
Copy & paste either home page link on your webpage...
Together We Teach 






Use these free website tools below for a more powerful experience at Together We Teach!

****Google™ search****

For a more specific search, try using quotation marks around phrases (ex. "You are what you read")


*** Google Translate™ translation service ***

 Translate text:


  Translate a web page:

****What's the Definition?****
(Simply insert the word you want to lookup)

 Search:   for   

S D Glass Enterprises

Privacy Policy

Warner Robins, GA, USA