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CHAPTER VII
'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 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 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.
>
CHAPTER VIII
'I found the Palace of Green Porcelain, when we approached it about noon, deserted
and falling into ruin.
Only ragged vestiges of glass remained in its windows, and great sheets of the green
facing had fallen away from the corroded metallic framework.
It lay very high upon a turfy down, and looking north-eastward before I entered it,
I was surprised to see a large estuary, or even creek, where I judged Wandsworth and
Battersea must once have been.
I thought then--though I never followed up the thought--of what might have happened,
or might be happening, to the living things in the sea.
'The material of the Palace proved on examination to be indeed porcelain, and
along the face of it I saw an inscription in some unknown character.
I thought, rather foolishly, that Weena might help me to interpret this, but I only
learned that the bare idea of writing had never entered her head.
She always seemed to me, I fancy, more human than she was, perhaps because her
affection was so human.
'Within the big valves of the door--which were open and broken--we found, instead of
the customary hall, a long gallery lit by many side windows.
At the first glance I was reminded of a museum.
The tiled floor was thick with dust, and a remarkable array of miscellaneous objects
was shrouded in the same grey covering.
Then I perceived, standing strange and gaunt in the centre of the hall, what was
clearly the lower part of a huge skeleton.
I recognized by the oblique feet that it was some extinct creature after the fashion
of the Megatherium.
The skull and the upper bones lay beside it in the thick dust, and in one place, where
rain-water had dropped through a leak in the roof, the thing itself had been worn
away.
Further in the gallery was the huge skeleton barrel of a Brontosaurus.
My museum hypothesis was confirmed.
Going towards the side I found what appeared to be sloping shelves, and
clearing away the thick dust, I found the old familiar glass cases of our own time.
But they must have been air-tight to judge from the fair preservation of some of their
contents. 'Clearly we stood among the ruins of some
latter-day South Kensington!
Here, apparently, was the Palaeontological Section, and a very splendid array of
fossils it must have been, though the inevitable process of decay that had been
staved off for a time, and had, through the
extinction of bacteria and fungi, lost ninety-nine hundredths of its force, was
nevertheless, with extreme sureness if with extreme slowness at work again upon all its
treasures.
Here and there I found traces of the little people in the shape of rare fossils broken
to pieces or threaded in strings upon reeds.
And the cases had in some instances been bodily removed--by the Morlocks as I
judged. The place was very silent.
The thick dust deadened our footsteps.
Weena, who had been rolling a sea urchin down the sloping glass of a case, presently
came, as I stared about me, and very quietly took my hand and stood beside me.
'And at first I was so much surprised by this ancient monument of an intellectual
age, that I gave no thought to the possibilities it presented.
Even my preoccupation about the Time Machine receded a little from my mind.
'To judge from the size of the place, this Palace of Green Porcelain had a great deal
more in it than a Gallery of Palaeontology; possibly historical galleries; it might be,
even a library!
To me, at least in my present circumstances, these would be vastly more
interesting than this spectacle of oldtime geology in decay.
Exploring, I found another short gallery running transversely to the first.
This appeared to be devoted to minerals, and the sight of a block of sulphur set my
mind running on gunpowder.
But I could find no saltpeter; indeed, no nitrates of any kind.
Doubtless they had deliquesced ages ago. Yet the sulphur hung in my mind, and set up
a train of thinking.
As for the rest of the contents of that gallery, though on the whole they were the
best preserved of all I saw, I had little interest.
I am no specialist in mineralogy, and I went on down a very ruinous aisle running
parallel to the first hall I had entered.
Apparently this section had been devoted to natural history, but everything had long
since passed out of recognition.
A few shrivelled and blackened vestiges of what had once been stuffed animals,
desiccated mummies in jars that had once held spirit, a brown dust of departed
plants: that was all!
I was sorry for that, because I should have been glad to trace the patent readjustments
by which the conquest of animated nature had been attained.
Then we came to a gallery of simply colossal proportions, but singularly ill-
lit, the floor of it running downward at a slight angle from the end at which I
entered.
At intervals white globes hung from the ceiling--many of them cracked and smashed--
which suggested that originally the place had been artificially lit.
Here I was more in my element, for rising on either side of me were the huge bulks of
big machines, all greatly corroded and many broken down, but some still fairly
complete.
You know I have a certain 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
I could make only the vaguest guesses at what they were for.
I fancied that if I could solve their puzzles I should find myself in possession
of powers that might be of use against the Morlocks.
'Suddenly Weena came very close to my side.
So suddenly that she startled me. Had it not been for her I do not think I
should have noticed that the floor of the gallery sloped at all.
[Footnote: It may be, of course, that the floor did not slope, but that the museum
was built into the side of a hill.--ED.] The end I had come in at was quite above
ground, 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 pit like the "area" of a London house before each, and only a narrow
line of daylight at the top.
I went slowly along, puzzling about the machines, and had been too intent upon them
to notice the gradual diminution of the light, until Weena's increasing
apprehensions drew my attention.
Then I saw that the gallery ran down at last into a thick darkness.
I hesitated, and then, as I looked round me, I saw that the dust was less abundant
and its surface less even.
Further away towards the dimness, 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 felt that I was wasting my time in the academic examination of machinery.
I called to mind that it was already far advanced in the afternoon, and that I had
still no weapon, no refuge, and no means of making a fire.
And then down 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, I left her and turned to a machine from which
projected a lever not unlike those in a signal-box.
Clambering upon the stand, and grasping this lever in my hands, I put all my weight
upon it sideways. Suddenly Weena, deserted in the central
aisle, began to whimper.
I had judged the strength of the lever pretty correctly, for it snapped after a
minute's strain, and I rejoined her with a mace in my hand more than sufficient, I
judged, for any Morlock skull I might encounter.
And I longed very much to kill a Morlock or so.
Very inhuman, you may think, to want to go killing one's own descendants!
But it was impossible, somehow, to feel any humanity in the things.
Only my disinclination to leave Weena, and a persuasion that if I began to slake my
thirst for murder my Time Machine might suffer, restrained me from going straight
down the gallery and killing the brutes I heard.
'Well, mace in one hand and Weena in the other, I went out of that gallery and into
another and still larger one, which at the first glance reminded me of a military
chapel hung with tattered flags.
The brown and charred rags that hung from the sides of it, I presently recognized as
the decaying vestiges of books. They had long since dropped to pieces, and
every semblance of print had left them.
But here and there were warped boards and cracked metallic clasps that told the tale
well enough.
Had I been a literary man I might, perhaps, have moralized upon the futility of all
ambition.
But as it was, the thing that struck me with keenest force was the enormous waste
of labour to which this sombre wilderness of rotting paper testified.
At the time I will confess that I thought chiefly of the Philosophical Transactions
and my own seventeen papers upon physical optics.
'Then, going up a broad staircase, we came to what may once have been a gallery of
technical chemistry. And here I had not a little hope of useful
discoveries.
Except at one end where the roof had collapsed, this gallery was well preserved.
I went eagerly to every unbroken case. And at last, in one of the really air-tight
cases, I found a box of matches.
Very eagerly I tried them. They were perfectly good.
They were not even damp. I turned to Weena.
"Dance," I cried to her in her own tongue.
For now I had a weapon indeed against the horrible creatures we feared.
And so, in that derelict museum, upon the thick soft carpeting of dust, to Weena's
huge delight, I solemnly performed a kind of composite dance, whistling The Land of
the Leal as cheerfully as I could.
In part it was a modest cancan, in part a step dance, in part a skirt-dance (so far
as my tail-coat permitted), and in part original.
For I am naturally inventive, as you know.
'Now, I still think that for this box of matches to have escaped the wear of time
for immemorial years was a most strange, as for me it was a most fortunate thing.
Yet, oddly enough, I found a far unlikelier substance, and that was camphor.
I found it in a sealed jar, that by chance, I suppose, had been really hermetically
sealed.
I fancied at first that it was paraffin wax, and smashed the glass accordingly.
But the odour of camphor was unmistakable.
In the universal decay this volatile substance had chanced to survive, perhaps
through many thousands of centuries.
It reminded me of a sepia painting I had once seen done from the ink of a fossil
Belemnite that must have perished and become fossilized millions of years ago.
I was about to throw it away, but I remembered that it was inflammable and
burned with a good bright flame--was, in fact, an excellent 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 iron crowbar was the most helpful thing I had chanced upon.
Nevertheless I left that gallery greatly elated.
'I cannot tell you all the story of that long afternoon.
It would require a great effort of memory to recall my explorations in at all the
proper order.
I remember a long gallery of rusting stands of arms, and how I hesitated between my
crowbar and a hatchet or a sword.
I could not carry both, however, and my bar of iron promised best against the bronze
gates. There were numbers of guns, pistols, and
rifles.
The most were masses of rust, but many were of some new metal, and still fairly sound.
But any cartridges or powder there may once have been had rotted into dust.
One corner I saw was charred and shattered; perhaps, I thought, by an explosion among
the specimens.
In another place was a vast array of idols- -Polynesian, Mexican, Grecian, Phoenician,
every country on earth I should think.
And here, yielding to an irresistible impulse, I wrote my name upon the nose of a
steatite monster from South America that particularly took my fancy.
'As the evening drew on, my interest waned.
I went through gallery after gallery, dusty, silent, often ruinous, the exhibits
sometimes mere heaps of rust and lignite, sometimes fresher.
In one place I suddenly found myself near the model of a tin-mine, and then by the
merest accident I discovered, in an air- tight case, two dynamite cartridges!
I shouted "Eureka!" and smashed the case with joy.
Then came a doubt. I hesitated.
Then, selecting a little side gallery, I made my essay.
I never felt such a disappointment as I did in waiting five, ten, fifteen minutes for
an explosion that never came.
Of course the things were dummies, as I might have guessed from their presence.
I really believe that had they not been so, I should have rushed off incontinently and
blown Sphinx, bronze doors, and (as it proved) my chances of finding the Time
Machine, all together into non-existence.
'It was after that, I think, that we came to a little open court within the palace.
It was turfed, and had three fruit-trees. So we rested and refreshed ourselves.
Towards sunset I began to consider our position.
Night was creeping upon us, and my inaccessible hiding-place had still to be
found.
But that troubled me very little now. I had in my possession a thing that was,
perhaps, the best of all defences against the Morlocks--I had matches!
I had the camphor in my pocket, too, if a blaze were needed.
It seemed to me that the best thing we could do would be to pass the night in the
open, protected by a fire.
In the morning there was the getting of the Time Machine.
Towards that, as yet, I had only my iron mace.
But now, with my growing knowledge, I felt very differently towards those bronze
doors.
Up to this, I had refrained from forcing them, largely because of the mystery on the
other side.
They had never impressed me as being very strong, and I hoped to find my bar of iron
not altogether inadequate for the work.
>
CHAPTER IX
'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 it 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.
>
CHAPTER X
'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 dangers.
'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 pocket.
'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.
>
CHAPTER XI
'I have already told you of the sickness and confusion that comes with time
travelling.
And this time I was not seated properly in the saddle, but sideways and in an unstable
fashion.
For an indefinite time I clung 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 find where I had arrived.
One dial records days, and another thousands of days, another millions of
days, and another thousands of millions.
Now, instead of reversing the levers, I had pulled them over so as to go forward with
them, and when I came to look at these indicators I found that the thousands hand
was sweeping round as fast as the seconds hand of a watch--into futurity.
'As I drove on, a peculiar change crept over the appearance of things.
The palpitating greyness grew darker; then- -though I was still travelling with
prodigious velocity--the blinking succession of day and night, which was
usually indicative of a slower pace, returned, and grew more and more marked.
This puzzled me very much at first.
The alternations of night and day grew slower and slower, and so did the passage
of the sun across the sky, until they seemed to stretch through centuries.
At last a steady twilight brooded over the earth, a twilight only broken now and then
when a comet glared across the darkling sky.
The band of light that had indicated the sun had long since disappeared; for the sun
had ceased to set--it simply rose and fell in the west, and grew ever broader and more
red.
All trace of the moon had vanished. The circling of the stars, growing slower
and slower, had given place to creeping points of light.
At last, some time before I stopped, the sun, red and very large, halted motionless
upon the horizon, a vast dome glowing with a dull heat, and now and then suffering a
momentary extinction.
At one time it had for a little while glowed more brilliantly again, but it
speedily reverted to its sullen red heat.
I perceived by this slowing down of its rising and setting that the work of the
tidal drag was done.
The earth had come to rest with one face to the sun, even as in our own time the moon
faces the earth.
Very cautiously, for I remembered my former headlong fall, I began to reverse my
motion.
Slower and slower went the circling hands until the thousands one seemed motionless
and the daily one was no longer a mere mist upon its scale.
Still slower, until the dim outlines of a desolate beach grew visible.
'I stopped very gently and sat upon the Time Machine, looking round.
The sky was no longer blue.
North-eastward it was inky black, and out of the blackness shone brightly and
steadily the pale white stars.
Overhead it was a deep Indian red and starless, and south-eastward it grew
brighter to a glowing scarlet where, cut by the horizon, lay the huge hull of the sun,
red and motionless.
The rocks about me were of a harsh reddish colour, and all the trace of life that I
could see at first was the intensely green vegetation that covered every projecting
point on their south-eastern face.
It was the same rich green that one sees on forest moss or on the lichen in caves:
plants which like these grow in a perpetual twilight.
'The machine was standing on a sloping beach.
The sea stretched away to the south-west, to rise into a sharp bright horizon against
the wan sky.
There were no breakers and no waves, for not a breath of wind was stirring.
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 the margin where the water sometimes broke was a thick incrustation of
salt--pink under the lurid sky.
There was a sense of oppression in my head, and I noticed that I was breathing very
fast.
The sensation reminded me of my only experience of mountaineering, and from that
I judged the air to be more rarefied than it is now.
'Far away up the desolate slope I heard a harsh scream, and saw a thing like a huge
white butterfly go slanting and fluttering up into the sky and, circling, disappear
over some low hillocks beyond.
The sound of its voice was so dismal that I shivered and seated myself more firmly upon
the machine.
Looking round me again, I saw that, quite near, what I had taken to be a reddish mass
of rock was moving slowly towards me. Then I saw the thing was really a monstrous
crab-like creature.
Can you imagine a crab as large as yonder table, with its many legs moving slowly and
uncertainly, its big claws swaying, its long antennae, like carters' whips, waving
and feeling, and its stalked eyes gleaming
at you on either side of its metallic front?
Its back was corrugated and ornamented with ungainly bosses, and a greenish
incrustation blotched it here and there.
I could see the many palps of its complicated mouth flickering and feeling as
it moved.
'As I stared at this sinister apparition crawling towards me, I felt a tickling on
my cheek as though a fly had lighted there.
I tried to brush it away with my hand, but in a moment it returned, and almost
immediately came another by my ear. I struck at this, and caught something
threadlike.
It was drawn swiftly out of my hand. With a frightful qualm, I turned, and I saw
that I had grasped the antenna of another monster crab that stood just behind me.
Its evil eyes were wriggling on their stalks, its mouth was all alive with
appetite, and its vast ungainly claws, smeared with an algal slime, were
descending upon me.
In a moment my hand was on the lever, and I had placed a month between myself and these
monsters.
But I was still on the same beach, and I saw them distinctly now as soon as I
stopped.
Dozens of them seemed to be crawling here and there, in the sombre light, among the
foliated sheets of intense green. 'I cannot convey the sense of abominable
desolation that hung over the world.
The red eastern sky, the northward blackness, the salt Dead Sea, the stony
beach crawling with these foul, slow- stirring monsters, the uniform poisonous-
looking green of the lichenous plants, the
thin air that hurts one's lungs: all contributed to an appalling effect.
I moved on a hundred years, and there was the same red sun--a little larger, a little
duller--the same dying sea, the same chill air, and the same crowd of earthy crustacea
creeping in and out among the green weed and the red rocks.
And in the westward sky, I saw a curved pale line like a vast new moon.
'So I travelled, stopping ever and again, in great strides of a thousand 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 the westward sky, and the life of the old earth ebb away.
At last, more than thirty million years hence, the huge red-hot dome of the sun had
come to obscure nearly a tenth part of the darkling heavens.
Then I stopped once more, for the crawling multitude of crabs had disappeared, and the
red beach, save for its livid green liverworts and lichens, seemed lifeless.
And now it was flecked with white.
A bitter cold assailed me. Rare white flakes ever and again came
eddying down.