The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (read online)

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.

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.

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.

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