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The Time Machine
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Chapter 7

'Now, indeed, I seemed in a worse case than before. Hitherto,
except during my night's anguish at the loss of the Time Machine,
I had felt a sustaining hope of ultimate escape, but that hope
was staggered by these new discoveries. Hitherto I had merely
thought myself impeded by the childish simplicity of the little
people, and by some unknown forces which I had only to understand
to overcome; but there was an altogether new element in the
sickening quality of the Morlocks—a something inhuman and
malign. Instinctively I loathed them. Before, I had felt as a
man might feel who had fallen into a pit: my concern was with
the pit and how to get out of it. Now I felt like a beast in a
trap, whose enemy would come upon him soon.
'The enemy I dreaded may surprise you. It was the darkness of
the new moon. Weena had put this into my head by some at first
incomprehensible remarks about the Dark Nights. It was not now
such a very difficult problem to guess what the coming Dark
Nights might mean. The moon was on the wane: each night there
was a longer interval of darkness. And I now understood to some
slight degree at least the reason of the fear of the little
Upper-world people for the dark. I wondered vaguely what foul
villainy it might be that the Morlocks did under the new moon. I
felt pretty sure now that my second hypothesis was all wrong.
The Upper-world people might once have been the favoured
aristocracy, and the Morlocks their mechanical servants: but
that had long since passed away. The two species that had
resulted from the evolution of man were sliding down towards, or
had already arrived at, an altogether new relationship. The Eloi,
like the Carolingian kings, had decayed to a mere beautiful
futility. They still possessed the earth on sufferance: since
the Morlocks, subterranean for innumerable generations, had come
at last to find the daylit surface intolerable. And the Morlocks
made their garments, I inferred, and maintained them in their
habitual needs, perhaps through the survival of an old habit of
service. They did it as a standing horse paws with his foot, or
as a man enjoys killing animals in sport: because ancient and
departed necessities had impressed it on the organism. But,
clearly, the old order was already in part reversed. The Nemesis
of the delicate ones was creeping on apace. Ages ago, thousands
of generations ago, man had thrust his brother man out of the
ease and the sunshine. And now that brother was coming back
changed! Already the Eloi had begun to learn one old lesson
anew. They were becoming reacquainted with Fear. And suddenly
there came into my head the memory of the meat I had seen in the
Under-world. It seemed odd how it floated into my mind: not
stirred up as it were by the current of my meditations, but
coming in almost like a question from outside. I tried to recall
the form of it. I had a vague sense of something familiar, but I
could not tell what it was at the time.
'Still, however helpless the little people in the presence of
their mysterious Fear, I was differently constituted. I came out
of this age of ours, this ripe prime of the human race, when Fear
does not paralyse and mystery has lost its terrors. I at least
would defend myself. Without further delay I determined to make
myself arms and a fastness where I might sleep. With that refuge
as a base, I could face this strange world with some of that
confidence I had lost in realizing to what creatures night by
night I lay exposed. I felt I could never sleep again until my
bed was secure from them. I shuddered with horror to think how
they must already have examined me.
'I wandered during the afternoon along the valley of the
Thames, but found nothing that commended itself to my mind as
inaccessible. All the buildings and trees seemed easily
practicable to such dexterous climbers as the Morlocks, to judge
by their wells, must be. Then the tall pinnacles of the Palace
of Green Porcelain and the polished gleam of its walls came back
to my memory; and in the evening, taking Weena like a child upon
my shoulder, I went up the hills towards the south-west. The
distance, I had reckoned, was seven or eight miles, but it must
have been nearer eighteen. I had first seen the place on a moist
afternoon when distances are deceptively diminished. In
addition, the heel of one of my shoes was loose, and a nail was
working through the sole—they were comfortable old shoes I wore
about indoors—so that I was lame. And it was already long past
sunset when I came in sight of the palace, silhouetted black
against the pale yellow of the sky.
'Weena had been hugely delighted when I began to carry her,
but after a while she desired me to let her down, and ran along
by the side of me, occasionally darting off on either hand to
pick flowers to stick in my pockets. My pockets had always
puzzled Weena, but at the last she had concluded that they were
an eccentric kind of vase for floral decoration. At least she
utilized them for that purpose. And that reminds me! In
changing my jacket I found . . .'
The Time Traveller paused, put his hand into his pocket, and
silently placed two withered flowers, not unlike very large white
mallows, upon the little table. Then he resumed his narrative.
'As the hush of evening crept over the world and we proceeded
over the hill crest towards Wimbledon, Weena grew tired and
wanted to return to the house of grey stone. But I pointed out
the distant pinnacles of the Palace of Green Porcelain to her,
and contrived to make her understand that we were seeking a
refuge there from her Fear. You know that great pause that comes
upon things before the dusk? Even the breeze stops in the trees.
To me there is always an air of expectation about that evening
stillness. The sky was clear, remote, and empty save for a few
horizontal bars far down in the sunset. Well, that night the
expectation took the colour of my fears. In that darkling calm
my senses seemed preternaturally sharpened. I fancied I could
even feel the hollowness of the ground beneath my feet: could,
indeed, almost see through it the Morlocks on their ant-hill
going hither and thither and waiting for the dark. In my
excitement I fancied that they would receive my invasion of their
burrows as a declaration of war. And why had they taken my Time
Machine?
'So we went on in the quiet, and the twilight deepened into
night. The clear blue of the distance faded, and one star after
another came out. The ground grew dim and the trees black.
Weena's fears and her fatigue grew upon her. I took her in my
arms and talked to her and caressed her. Then, as the darkness
grew deeper, she put her arms round my neck, and, closing her
eyes, tightly pressed her face against my shoulder. So we went
down a long slope into a valley, and there in the dimness I
almost walked into a little river. This I waded, and went up the
opposite side of the valley, past a number of sleeping houses,
and by a statue—a Faun, or some such figure, MINUS the head.
Here too were acacias. So far I had seen nothing of the
Morlocks, but it was yet early in the night, and the darker hours
before the old moon rose were still to come.
'From the brow of the next hill I saw a thick wood spreading
wide and black before me. I hesitated at this. I could see no
end to it, either to the right or the left. Feeling tired—my
feet, in particular, were very sore—I carefully lowered Weena
from my shoulder as I halted, and sat down upon the turf. I
could no longer see the Palace of Green Porcelain, and I was in
doubt of my direction. I looked into the thickness of the wood
and thought of what it might hide. Under that dense tangle of
branches one would be out of sight of the stars. Even were there
no other lurking danger—a danger I did not care to let my
imagination loose upon—there would still be all the roots to
stumble over and the tree-boles to strike against.
'I was very tired, too, after the excitements of the day; so I
decided that I would not face it, but would pass the night upon
the open hill.
'Weena, I was glad to find, was fast asleep. I carefully
wrapped her in my jacket, and sat down beside her to wait for the
moonrise. The hill-side was quiet and deserted, but from the
black of the wood there came now and then a stir of living
things. Above me shone the stars, for the night was very clear.
I felt a certain sense of friendly comfort in their twinkling.
All the old constellations had gone from the sky, however: that
slow movement which is imperceptible in a hundred human
lifetimes, had long since rearranged them in unfamiliar
groupings. But the Milky Way, it seemed to me, was still the
same tattered streamer of star-dust as of yore. Southward (as I
judged it) was a very bright red star that was new to me; it was
even more splendid than our own green Sirius. And amid all these
scintillating points of light one bright planet shone kindly and
steadily like the face of an old friend.
'Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and
all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their
unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their
movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. I
thought of the great precessional cycle that the pole of the
earth describes. Only forty times had that silent revolution
occurred during all the years that I had traversed. And during
these few revolutions all the activity, all the traditions, the
complex organizations, the nations, languages, literatures,
aspirations, even the mere memory of Man as I knew him, had been
swept out of existence. Instead were these frail creatures who
had forgotten their high ancestry, and the white Things of which
I went in terror. Then I thought of the Great Fear that was
between the two species, and for the first time, with a sudden
shiver, came the clear knowledge of what the meat I had seen
might be. Yet it was too horrible! I looked at little Weena
sleeping beside me, her face white and starlike under the stars,
and forthwith dismissed the thought.
'Through that long night I held my mind off the Morlocks as
well as I could, and whiled away the time by trying to fancy I
could find signs of the old constellations in the new confusion.
The sky kept very clear, except for a hazy cloud or so. No doubt
I dozed at times. Then, as my vigil wore on, came a faintness in
the eastward sky, like the reflection of some colourless fire,
and the old moon rose, thin and peaked and white. And close
behind, and overtaking it, and overflowing it, the dawn came,
pale at first, and then growing pink and warm. No Morlocks had
approached us. Indeed, I had seen none upon the hill that night.
And in the confidence of renewed day it almost seemed to me that
my fear had been unreasonable. I stood up and found my foot with
the loose heel swollen at the ankle and painful under the heel;
so I sat down again, took off my shoes, and flung them away.
'I awakened Weena, and we went down into the wood, now green
and pleasant instead of black and forbidding. We found some
fruit wherewith to break our fast. We soon met others of the
dainty ones, laughing and dancing in the sunlight as though there
was no such thing in nature as the night. And then I thought
once more of the meat that I had seen. I felt assured now of
what it was, and from the bottom of my heart I pitied this last
feeble rill from the great flood of humanity. Clearly, at some
time in the Long-Ago of human decay the Morlocks' food had run
short. Possibly they had lived on rats and such-like vermin.
Even now man is far less discriminating and exclusive in his food
than he was—far less than any monkey. His prejudice against
human flesh is no deep-seated instinct. And so these inhuman
sons of men——! I tried to look at the thing in a scientific
spirit. After all, they were less human and more remote than our
cannibal ancestors of three or four thousand years ago. And the
intelligence that would have made this state of things a torment
had gone. Why should I trouble myself? These Eloi were mere
fatted cattle, which the ant-like Morlocks preserved and preyed
upon—probably saw to the breeding of. And there was Weena
dancing at my side!
'Then I tried to preserve myself from the horror that was
coming upon me, by regarding it as a rigorous punishment of human
selfishness. Man had been content to live in ease and delight
upon the labours of his fellow-man, had taken Necessity as his
watchword and excuse, and in the fullness of time Necessity had
come home to him. I even tried a Carlyle-like scorn of this
wretched aristocracy in decay. But this attitude of mind was
impossible. However great their intellectual degradation, the
Eloi had kept too much of the human form not to claim my
sympathy, and to make me perforce a sharer in their degradation
and their Fear.
'I had at that time very vague ideas as to the course I should
pursue. My first was to secure some safe place of refuge, and to
make myself such arms of metal or stone as I could contrive.
That necessity was immediate. In the next place, I hoped to
procure some means of fire, so that I should have the weapon of a
torch at hand, for nothing, I knew, would be more efficient
against these Morlocks. Then I wanted to arrange some
contrivance to break open the doors of bronze under the White
Sphinx. I had in mind a battering ram. I had a persuasion that
if I could enter those doors and carry a blaze of light before me
I should discover the Time Machine and escape. I could not
imagine the Morlocks were strong enough to move it far away.
Weena I had resolved to bring with me to our own time. And
turning such schemes over in my mind I pursued our way towards
the building which my fancy had chosen as our dwelling.
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