Part 2 out of 2
machines rose out of the dimness, and cast grotesque black
shadows, in which dim spectral Morlocks sheltered from the glare.
The place, by the by, was very stuffy and oppressive, and the
faint halitus of freshly shed blood was in the air. Some way
down the central vista was a little table of white metal, laid
with what seemed a meal. The Morlocks at any rate were
carnivorous! Even at the time, I remember wondering what large
animal could have survived to furnish the red joint I saw. It
was all very indistinct: the heavy smell, the big unmeaning
shapes, the obscene figures lurking in the shadows, and only
waiting for the darkness to come at me again! Then the match
burned down, and stung my fingers, and fell, a wriggling red spot
in the blackness.
`I have thought since how particularly ill-equipped I was for
such an experience. When I had started with the Time Machine, I
had started with the absurd assumption that the men of the Future
would certainly be infinitely ahead of ourselves in all their
appliances. I had come without arms, without medicine, without
anything to smoke--at times I missed tobacco frightfully--even
without enough matches. If only I had thought of a Kodak! I
could have flashed that glimpse of the Underworld in a second,
and examined it at leisure. But, as it was, I stood there with
only the weapons and the powers that Nature had endowed me
with--hands, feet, and teeth; these, and four safety-matches that
still remained to me.
`I was afraid to push my way in among all this machinery in
the dark, and it was only with my last glimpse of light I
discovered that my store of matches had run low. It had never
occurred to me until that moment that there was any need to
economize them, and I had wasted almost half the box in
astonishing the Upper-worlders, to whom fire was a novelty. Now,
as I say, I had four left, and while I stood in the dark, a hand
touched mine, lank fingers came feeling over my face, and I was
sensible of a peculiar unpleasant odour. I fancied I heard the
breathing of a crowd of those dreadful little beings about me. I
felt the box of matches in my hand being gently disengaged, and
other hands behind me plucking at my clothing. The sense of
these unseen creatures examining me was indescribably unpleasant.
The sudden realization of my ignorance of their ways of thinking
and doing came home to me very vividly in the darkness. I shouted
at them as loudly as I could. They started away, and then I
could feel them approaching me again. They clutched at me more
boldly, whispering odd sounds to each other. I shivered
violently, and shouted again rather discordantly. This time they
were not so seriously alarmed, and they made a queer laughing
noise as they came back at me. I will confess I was horribly
frightened. I determined to strike another match and escape
under the protection of its glare. I did so, and eking out the
flicker with a scrap of paper from my pocket, I made good my
retreat to the narrow tunnel. But I had scarce entered this when
my light was blown out and in the blackness I could hear the
Morlocks rustling like wind among leaves, and pattering like the
rain, as they hurried after me.
`In a moment I was clutched by several hands, and there was no
mistaking that they were trying to haul me back. I struck
another light, and waved it in their dazzled faces. You can
scarce imagine how nauseatingly inhuman they looked--those pale,
chinless faces and great, lidless, pinkish-grey eyes!--as they
stared in their blindness and bewilderment. But I did not stay to
look, I promise you: I retreated again, and when my second match
had ended, I struck my third. It had almost burned through when
I reached the opening into the shaft. I lay down on the edge,
for the throb of the great pump below made me giddy. Then I felt
sideways for the projecting hooks, and, as I did so, my feet were
grasped from behind, and I was violently tugged backward. I lit
my last match . . . and it incontinently went out. But I had my
hand on the climbing bars now, and, kicking violently, I
disengaged myself from the clutches of the Morlocks and was
speedily clambering up the shaft, while they stayed peering and
blinking up at me: all but one little wretch who followed me for
some way, and wellnigh secured my boot as a trophy.
`That climb seemed interminable to me. With the last twenty
or thirty feet of it a deadly nausea came upon me. I had the
greatest difficulty in keeping my hold. The last few yards was a
frightful struggle against this faintness. Several times my head
swam, and I felt all the sensations of falling. At last,
however, I got over the well-mouth somehow, and staggered out of
the ruin into the blinding sunlight. I fell upon my face. Even
the soil smelt sweet and clean. Then I remember Weena kissing my
hands and ears, and the voices of others among the Eloi. Then,
for a time, I was insensible.
`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.
`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
`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
`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.
`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
`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.
`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
`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
`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
`Far away up the desolate slope I heard a harsh scream, and
saw a thing like a huge white butterfly go slanting and
flittering 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. To the
north-eastward, the glare of snow lay under the starlight of the
sable sky and I could see an undulating crest of hillocks pinkish
white. There were fringes of ice along the sea margin, with
drifting masses further out; but the main expanse of that salt
ocean, all bloody under the eternal sunset, was still unfrozen.
`I looked about me to see if any traces of animal life
remained. A certain indefinable apprehension still kept me in
the saddle of the machine. But I saw nothing moving, in earth or
sky or sea. The green slime on the rocks alone testified that
life was not extinct. A shallow sandbank had appeared in the sea
and the water had receded from the beach. I fancied I saw some
black object flopping about upon this bank, but it became
motionless as I looked at it, and I judged that my eye had been
deceived, and that the black object was merely a rock. The stars
in the sky were intensely bright and seemed to me to twinkle very
`Suddenly I noticed that the circular westward outline of the
sun had changed; that a concavity, a bay, had appeared in the
curve. I saw this grow larger. For a minute perhaps I stared
aghast at this blackness that was creeping over the day, and then
I realized that an eclipse was beginning. Either the moon or the
planet Mercury was passing across the sun's disk. Naturally, at
first I took it to be the moon, but there is much to incline me
to believe that what I really saw was the transit of an inner
planet passing very near to the earth.
`The darkness grew apace; a cold wind began to blow in
freshening gusts from the east, and the showering white flakes in
the air increased in number. From the edge of the sea came a
ripple and whisper. Beyond these lifeless sounds the world was
silent. Silent? It would be hard to convey the stillness of it.
All the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep, the cries of
birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background of
our lives--all that was over. As the darkness thickened, the
eddying flakes grew more abundant, dancing before my eyes; and
the cold of the air more intense. At last, one by one, swiftly,
one after the other, the white peaks of the distant hills
vanished into blackness. The breeze rose to a moaning wind. I
saw the black central shadow of the eclipse sweeping towards me.
In another moment the pale stars alone were visible. All else
was rayless obscurity. The sky was absolutely black.
`A horror of this great darkness came on me. The cold, that
smote to my marrow, and the pain I felt in breathing, overcame
me. I shivered, and a deadly nausea seized me. Then like a
red-hot bow in the sky appeared the edge of the sun. I got off
the machine to recover myself. I felt giddy and incapable of
facing the return journey. As I stood sick and confused I saw
again the moving thing upon the shoal--there was no mistake now
that it was a moving thing--against the red water of the sea. It
was a round thing, the size of a football perhaps, or, it may be,
bigger, and tentacles trailed down from it; it seemed black
against the weltering blood-red water, and it was hopping
fitfully about. Then I felt I was fainting. But a terrible
dread of lying helpless in that remote and awful twilight
sustained me while I clambered upon the saddle.
`So I came back. For a long time I must have been insensible
upon the machine. The blinking succession of the days and nights
was resumed, the sun got golden again, the sky blue. I breathed
with greater freedom. The fluctuating contours of the land ebbed
and flowed. The hands spun backward upon the dials. At last I
saw again the dim shadows of houses, the evidences of decadent
humanity. These, too, changed and passed, and others came.
Presently, when the million dial was at zero, I slackened speed.
I began to recognize our own petty and familiar architecture, the
thousands hand ran back to the starting-point, the night and day
flapped slower and slower. Then the old walls of the laboratory
came round me. Very gently, now, I slowed the mechanism down.
`I saw one little thing that seemed odd to me. I think I have
told you that when I set out, before my velocity became very
high, Mrs. Watchett had walked across the room, travelling, as
it seemed to me, like a rocket. As I returned, I passed again
across that minute when she traversed the laboratory. But now
her every motion appeared to be the exact inversion of her
previous ones. The door at the lower end opened, and she glided
quietly up the laboratory, back foremost, and disappeared behind
the door by which she had previously entered. Just before that I
seemed to see Hillyer for a moment; but he passed like a flash.
`Then I stopped the machine, and saw about me again the old
familiar laboratory, my tools, my appliances just as I had left
them. I got off the thing very shaky, and sat down upon my
bench. For several minutes I trembled violently. Then I became
calmer. Around me was my old workshop again, exactly as it had
been. I might have slept there, and the whole thing have been a
`And yet, not exactly! The thing had started from the
south-east corner of the laboratory. It had come to rest again
in the north-west, against the wall where you saw it. That gives
you the exact distance from my little lawn to the pedestal of the
White Sphinx, into which the Morlocks had carried my machine.
`For a time my brain went stagnant. Presently I got up and
came through the passage here, limping, because my heel was still
painful, and feeling sorely begrimed. I saw the PALL MALL
GAZETTE on the table by the door. I found the date was indeed
to-day, and looking at the timepiece, saw the hour was almost
eight o'clock. I heard your voices and the clatter of plates. I
hesitated--I felt so sick and weak. Then I sniffed good
wholesome meat, and opened the door on you. You know the rest.
I washed, and dined, and now I am telling you the story.
`I know,' he said, after a pause, `that all this will be
absolutely incredible to you. To me the one incredible thing is
that I am here to-night in this old familiar room looking into
your friendly faces and telling you these strange adventures.'
He looked at the Medical Man. `No. I cannot expect you to
believe it. Take it as a lie--or a prophecy. Say I dreamed it
in the workshop. Consider I have been speculating upon the
destinies of our race until I have hatched this fiction. Treat
my assertion of its truth as a mere stroke of art to enhance its
interest. And taking it as a story, what do you think of it?'
He took up his pipe, and began, in his old accustomed manner,
to tap with it nervously upon the bars of the grate. There was a
momentary stillness. Then chairs began to creak and shoes to
scrape upon the carpet. I took my eyes off the Time Traveller's
face, and looked round at his audience. They were in the dark,
and little spots of colour swam before them. The Medical Man
seemed absorbed in the contemplation of our host. The Editor was
looking hard at the end of his cigar--the sixth. The Journalist
fumbled for his watch. The others, as far as I remember, were
The Editor stood up with a sigh. `What a pity it is you're
not a writer of stories!' he said, putting his hand on the Time
`You don't believe it?'
`I thought not.'
The Time Traveller turned to us. `Where are the matches?' he
said. He lit one and spoke over his pipe, puffing. `To tell you
the truth . . . I hardly believe it myself. . . . And yet . . .'
His eye fell with a mute inquiry upon the withered white
flowers upon the little table. Then he turned over the hand
holding his pipe, and I saw he was looking at some half-healed
scars on his knuckles.
The Medical Man rose, came to the lamp, and examined the
flowers. `The gynaeceum's odd,' he said. The Psychologist leant
forward to see, holding out his hand for a specimen.
`I'm hanged if it isn't a quarter to one,' said the
Journalist. `How shall we get home?'
`Plenty of cabs at the station,' said the Psychologist.
`It's a curious thing,' said the Medical Man; `but I certainly
don't know the natural order of these flowers. May I have them?'
The Time Traveller hesitated. Then suddenly: `Certainly not.'
`Where did you really get them?' said the Medical Man.
The Time Traveller put his hand to his head. He spoke like
one who was trying to keep hold of an idea that eluded him.
'They were put into my pocket by Weena, when I travelled into
Time.' He stared round the room. `I'm damned if it isn't all
going. This room and you and the atmosphere of every day is too
much for my memory. Did I ever make a Time Machine, or a model
of a Time Machine? Or is it all only a dream? They say life is
a dream, a precious poor dream at times--but I can't stand
another that won't fit. It's madness. And where did the dream
come from? . . . I must look at that machine. If there is one!'
He caught up the lamp swiftly, and carried it, flaring red,
through the door into the corridor. We followed him. There in
the flickering light of the lamp was the machine sure enough,
squat, ugly, and askew; a thing of brass, ebony, ivory, and
translucent glimmering quartz. Solid to the touch--for I put
out my hand and felt the rail of it--and with brown spots and
smears upon the ivory, and bits of grass and moss upon the lower
parts, and one rail bent awry.
The Time Traveller put the lamp down on the bench, and ran his
hand along the damaged rail. `It's all right now,' he said.
'The story I told you was true. I'm sorry to have brought you
out here in the cold.' He took up the lamp, and, in an absolute
silence, we returned to the smoking-room.
He came into the hall with us and helped the Editor on with
his coat. The Medical Man looked into his face and, with a
certain hesitation, told him he was suffering from overwork, at
which he laughed hugely. I remember him standing in the open
doorway, bawling good night.
I shared a cab with the Editor. He thought the tale a `gaudy
lie.' For my own part I was unable to come to a conclusion. The
story was so fantastic and incredible, the telling so credible
and sober. I lay awake most of the night thinking about it. I
determined to go next day and see the Time Traveller again. I
was told he was in the laboratory, and being on easy terms in the
house, I went up to him. The laboratory, however, was empty. I
stared for a minute at the Time Machine and put out my hand and
touched the lever. At that the squat substantial-looking mass
swayed like a bough shaken by the wind. Its instability startled
me extremely, and I had a queer reminiscence of the childish days
when I used to be forbidden to meddle. I came back through the
corridor. The Time Traveller met me in the smoking-room. He was
coming from the house. He had a small camera under one arm and a
knapsack under the other. He laughed when he saw me, and gave me
an elbow to shake. `I'm frightfully busy,' said he, `with that
thing in there.'
`But is it not some hoax?' I said. `Do you really travel
`Really and truly I do.' And he looked frankly into my eyes.
He hesitated. His eye wandered about the room. `I only want
half an hour,' he said. `I know why you came, and it's awfully
good of you. There's some magazines here. If you'll stop to
lunch I'll prove you this time travelling up to the hilt,
specimen and all. If you'll forgive my leaving you now?'
I consented, hardly comprehending then the full import of his
words, and he nodded and went on down the corridor. I heard the
door of the laboratory slam, seated myself in a chair, and took
up a daily paper. What was he going to do before lunch-time?
Then suddenly I was reminded by an advertisement that I had
promised to meet Richardson, the publisher, at two. I looked at
my watch, and saw that I could barely save that engagement. I
got up and went down the passage to tell the Time Traveller.
As I took hold of the handle of the door I heard an
exclamation, oddly truncated at the end, and a click and a thud.
A gust of air whirled round me as I opened the door, and from
within came the sound of broken glass falling on the floor. The
Time Traveller was not there. I seemed to see a ghostly,
indistinct figure sitting in a whirling mass of black and brass
for a moment--a figure so transparent that the bench behind with
its sheets of drawings was absolutely distinct; but this phantasm
vanished as I rubbed my eyes. The Time Machine had gone. Save
for a subsiding stir of dust, the further end of the laboratory
was empty. A pane of the skylight had, apparently, just been
I felt an unreasonable amazement. I knew that something
strange had happened, and for the moment could not distinguish
what the strange thing might be. As I stood staring, the door
into the garden opened, and the man-servant appeared.
We looked at each other. Then ideas began to come. `Has Mr.
---- gone out that way?' said I.
`No, sir. No one has come out this way. I was expecting to
find him here.'
At that I understood. At the risk of disappointing Richardson
I stayed on, waiting for the Time Traveller; waiting for the
second, perhaps still stranger story, and the specimens and
photographs he would bring with him. But I am beginning now to
fear that I must wait a lifetime. The Time Traveller vanished
three years ago. And, as everybody knows now, he has never
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.