One cannot choose but wonder. Will he ever return?
It may be that he swept back into the past, and fell among
the blood-drinking, hairy savages of the Age of Unpolished
Stone; into the abysses of the Cretaceous Sea; or among the
grotesque saurians, the huge reptilian brutes of the Jurassic
times. He may even now--if I may use the phrase--be
wandering on some plesiosaurus-haunted Oolitic coral reef,
or beside the lonely saline lakes of the Triassic Age. Or did
he go forward, into one of the nearer ages, in which men are
still men, but with the riddles of our own time answered
and its wearisome problems solved? Into the manhood of the
race: for I, for my own part cannot think that these latter
days of weak experiment, fragmentary theory, and mutual
discord are indeed man's culminating time! I say, for my own
part. He, I know--for the question had been discussed among
us long before the Time Machine was made--thought but
cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the
growing pile of civilization only a foolish heaping that must
inevitably 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 is still black and blank--is a vast
ignorance, lit at a few casual places by the memory of his story.
And I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers
--shrivelled now, and brown and flat and brittle--to witness
that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and
a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man.
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