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

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`About eight or nine in the morning I came to the same seat of

yellow metal from which I had viewed the world upon the evening

of my arrival. I thought of my hasty conclusions upon that

evening and could not refrain from laughing bitterly at my

confidence. Here was the same beautiful scene, the same abundant

foliage, the same splendid palaces and magnificent ruins, the

same silver river running between its fertile banks. The gay

robes of the beautiful people moved hither and thither among the

trees. Some were bathing in exactly the place where I had saved

Weena, and that suddenly gave me a keen stab of pain. And like

blots upon the landscape rose the cupolas above the ways to the

Under-world. I understood now what all the beauty of the Over-

world people covered. Very pleasant was their day, as pleasant

as the day of the cattle in the field. Like the cattle, they

knew of no enemies and provided against no needs. And their end

was the same.

`I grieved to think how brief the dream of the human intellect

had been. It had committed suicide. It had set itself

steadfastly towards comfort and ease, a balanced society with

security and permanency as its watchword, it had attained its

hopes--to come to this at last. Once, life and property must

have reached almost absolute safety. The rich had been assured

of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life and

work. 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

versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble.

An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect

mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and

instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no

change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of

intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and


`So, as I see it, the Upper-world man had drifted towards his

feeble prettiness, and the Under-world to mere mechanical

industry. But that perfect state had lacked one thing even for

mechanical perfection--absolute permanency. Apparently as time

went on, the feeding of the Under-world, however it was effected,

had become disjointed. Mother Necessity, who had been staved off

for a few thousand years, came back again, and she began below.

The Under-world being in contact with machinery, which, however

perfect, still needs some little thought outside habit, had

probably retained perforce rather more initiative, if less of

every other human character, than the Upper. And when other meat

failed them, they turned to what old habit had hitherto

forbidden. So I say I saw it in my last view of the world of

Eight Hundred and Two Thousand Seven Hundred and One. It may be

as wrong an explanation as mortal wit could invent. It is how

the thing shaped itself to me, and as that I give it to you.

`After the fatigues, excitements, and terrors of the past

days, and in spite of my grief, this seat and the tranquil view

and the warm sunlight were very pleasant. I was very tired and

sleepy, and soon my theorizing passed into dozing. Catching

myself at that, I took my own hint, and spreading myself out upon

the turf I had a long and refreshing sleep.

`I awoke a little before sunsetting. I now felt safe against

being caught napping by the Morlocks, and, stretching myself, I

came on down the hill towards the White Sphinx. I had my crowbar

in one hand, and the other hand played with the matches in my


`And now came a most unexpected thing. As I approached the

pedestal of the sphinx I found the bronze valves were open. They

had slid down into grooves.

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

`Within was a small apartment, and on a raised place in the

corner of 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, was a 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 the

portal. For once, at least, I grasped the mental operations of

the Morlocks. Suppressing a strong inclination to laugh, I

stepped through the bronze frame and up to the Time Machine. I

was surprised to find it had been carefully oiled and cleaned. I

have suspected since that the Morlocks had even partially taken

it to pieces while trying in their dim way to grasp its purpose.

`Now as I stood and examined it, finding a pleasure in the

mere touch of the contrivance, the thing I had expected happened.

The bronze panels suddenly slid up and struck the frame with a

clang. I was in the dark--trapped. So the Morlocks thought. At

that I chuckled gleefully.

`I could already hear their murmuring laughter as they came

towards me. Very calmly I tried to strike the match. I had only

to fix on the levers and depart then like a ghost. But I had

overlooked one little thing. The matches were of that abominable

kind that light only on the box.

`You may imagine how all my calm vanished. The little brutes

were close upon me. One touched me. I made a sweeping blow in

the dark at them with the levers, and began to scramble into the

saddle of the machine. Then came one hand upon me and then

another. Then I had simply to fight against their persistent

fingers for my levers, and at the same time feel for the studs

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--I could hear the Morlock's skull ring--to recover it.

It was a nearer thing than the fight in the forest, I think, this

last scramble.

`But at last the lever was fitted and pulled over. The

clinging hands slipped from me. The darkness presently fell from

my eyes. I found myself in the same grey light and tumult I have

already described.



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