The Time Machine

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Hello lovers! In this article, we are going to discuss a very interesting topic.
We are going to talk about the
The Time Machine
An Invention
by H. G. Wells

I Introduction
II The Machine
III The Time Traveller Returns
IV Time Travelling
V In the Golden Age
VI The Sunset of Mankind
VII A Sudden Shock
VIII Explanation
IX The Morlocks
X When Night Came
XI The Palace of Green Porcelain
XII In the Darkness
XIII The Trap of the White Sphinx
XIV The Further Vision
XV The Time Traveller’s Return
XVI After the Story



The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was
expounding a recondite matter to us. His pale grey eyes shone and
twinkled, and his usually pale face was flushed and animated. The fire
burnt brightly, and the soft radiance of the incandescent lights in the
lilies of silver caught the bubbles that flashed and passed in our
glasses. Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather
than submitted to be sat upon, and there was that luxurious
after-dinner atmosphere, when thought runs gracefully free of the
trammels of precision. And he put it to us in this way—marking the
points with a lean forefinger—as we sat and lazily admired his
earnestness over this new paradox (as we thought it) and his fecundity.

“You must follow me carefully. I shall have to controvert one or two
ideas that are almost universally accepted. The geometry, for instance,
they taught you at school is founded on a misconception.”

“Is not that rather a large thing to expect us to begin upon?” said
Filby, an argumentative person with red hair.

“I do not mean to ask you to accept anything without reasonable ground
for it. You will soon admit as much as I need from you. You know of
course that a mathematical line, a line of thickness _nil_, has no real
existence. They taught you that? Neither has a mathematical plane.
These things are mere abstractions.”

“That is all right,” said the Psychologist.

“Nor, having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube have a
real existence.”

“There I object,” said Filby. “Of course a solid body may exist. All
real things—”

“So most people think. But wait a moment. Can an _instantaneous_ cube

“Don’t follow you,” said Filby.

“Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a real

Filby became pensive. “Clearly,” the Time Traveller proceeded, “any
real body must have extension in _four_ directions: it must have
Length, Breadth, Thickness, and—Duration. But through a natural
infirmity of the flesh, which I will explain to you in a moment, we
incline to overlook this fact. There are really four dimensions, three
which we call the three planes of Space, and a fourth, Time. There is,
however, a tendency to draw an unreal distinction between the former
three dimensions and the latter, because it happens that our
consciousness moves intermittently in one direction along the latter
from the beginning to the end of our lives.”

“That,” said a very young man, making spasmodic efforts to relight his
cigar over the lamp; “that . . . very clear indeed.”

“Now, it is very remarkable that this is so extensively overlooked,”
continued the Time Traveller, with a slight accession of cheerfulness.
“Really this is what is meant by the Fourth Dimension, though some
people who talk about the Fourth Dimension do not know they mean it. It
is only another way of looking at Time. _There is no difference between
Time and any of the three dimensions of Space except that our
consciousness moves along it_. But some foolish people have got hold of
the wrong side of that idea. You have all heard what they have to say
about this Fourth Dimension?”

“_I_ have not,” said the Provincial Mayor.

“It is simply this. That Space, as our mathematicians have it, is
spoken of as having three dimensions, which one may call Length,
Breadth, and Thickness, and is always definable by reference to three
planes, each at right angles to the others. But some philosophical
people have been asking why _three_ dimensions particularly—why not
another direction at right angles to the other three?—and have even
tried to construct a Four-Dimensional geometry. Professor Simon Newcomb
was expounding this to the New York Mathematical Society only a month
or so ago. You know how on a flat surface, which has only two
dimensions, we can represent a figure of a three-dimensional solid, and
similarly they think that by models of three dimensions they could
represent one of four—if they could master the perspective of the
thing. See?”

“I think so,” murmured the Provincial Mayor; and, knitting his brows,
he lapsed into an introspective state, his lips moving as one who
repeats mystic words. “Yes, I think I see it now,” he said after some
time, brightening in a quite transitory manner.

“Well, I do not mind telling you I have been at work upon this geometry
of Four Dimensions for some time. Some of my results are curious. For
instance, here is a portrait of a man at eight years old, another at
fifteen, another at seventeen, another at twenty-three, and so on. All
these are evidently sections, as it were, Three-Dimensional
representations of his Four-Dimensioned being, which is a fixed and
unalterable thing.

“Scientific people,” proceeded the Time Traveller, after the pause
required for the proper assimilation of this, “know very well that Time
is only a kind of Space. Here is a popular scientific diagram, a
weather record. This line I trace with my finger shows the movement of
the barometer. Yesterday it was so high, yesterday night it fell, then
this morning it rose again, and so gently upward to here. Surely the
mercury did not trace this line in any of the dimensions of Space
generally recognised? But certainly it traced such a line, and that
line, therefore, we must conclude, was along the Time-Dimension.”

“But,” said the Medical Man, staring hard at a coal in the fire, “if
Time is really only a fourth dimension of Space, why is it, and why has
it always been, regarded as something different? And why cannot we move
in Time as we move about in the other dimensions of Space?”

The Time Traveller smiled. “Are you so sure we can move freely in
Space? Right and left we can go, backward and forward freely enough,
and men always have done so. I admit we move freely in two dimensions.
But how about up and down? Gravitation limits us there.”

“Not exactly,” said the Medical Man. “There are balloons.”

“But before the balloons, save for spasmodic jumping and the
inequalities of the surface, man had no freedom of vertical movement.”

“Still they could move a little up and down,” said the Medical Man.

“Easier, far easier down than up.”

“And you cannot move at all in Time, you cannot get away from the
present moment.”

“My dear sir, that is just where you are wrong. That is just where the
whole world has gone wrong. We are always getting away from the present
moment. Our mental existences, which are immaterial and have no
dimensions, are passing along the Time-Dimension with a uniform
velocity from the cradle to the grave. Just as we should travel _down_
if we began our existence fifty miles above the earth’s surface.”

“But the great difficulty is this,” interrupted the Psychologist. ’You
_can_ move about in all directions of Space, but you cannot move about
in Time.”

“That is the germ of my great discovery. But you are wrong to say that
we cannot move about in Time. For instance, if I am recalling an
incident very vividly I go back to the instant of its occurrence: I
become absent-minded, as you say. I jump back for a moment. Of course
we have no means of staying back for any length of Time, any more than
a savage or an animal has of staying six feet above the ground. But a
civilised man is better off than the savage in this respect. He can go
up against gravitation in a balloon, and why should he not hope that
ultimately he may be able to stop or accelerate his drift along the
Time-Dimension, or even turn about and travel the other way?”

“Oh, _this_,” began Filby, “is all—”

“Why not?” said the Time Traveller.

“It’s against reason,” said Filby.

“What reason?” said the Time Traveller.

“You can show black is white by argument,” said Filby, “but you will
never convince me.”

“Possibly not,” said the Time Traveller. “But now you begin to see the
object of my investigations into the geometry of Four Dimensions. Long
ago I had a vague inkling of a machine—”

“To travel through Time!” exclaimed the Very Young Man.

“That shall travel indifferently in any direction of Space and Time, as
the driver determines.”

Filby contented himself with laughter.

“But I have experimental verification,” said the Time Traveller.

“It would be remarkably convenient for the historian,” the Psychologist
suggested. “One might travel back and verify the accepted account of
the Battle of Hastings, for instance!”

“Don’t you think you would attract attention?” said the Medical Man.
“Our ancestors had no great tolerance for anachronisms.”

“One might get one’s Greek from the very lips of Homer and Plato,” the
Very Young Man thought.

“In which case they would certainly plough you for the Little-go. The
German scholars have improved Greek so much.”

“Then there is the future,” said the Very Young Man. “Just think! One
might invest all one’s money, leave it to accumulate at interest, and
hurry on ahead!”

“To discover a society,” said I, “erected on a strictly communistic

“Of all the wild extravagant theories!” began the Psychologist.

“Yes, so it seemed to me, and so I never talked of it until—”

“Experimental verification!” cried I. “You are going to verify _that_?”

“The experiment!” cried Filby, who was getting brain-weary.

“Let’s see your experiment anyhow,” said the Psychologist, “though it’s
all humbug, you know.”

The Time Traveller smiled round at us. Then, still smiling faintly, and
with his hands deep in his trousers pockets, he walked slowly out of
the room, and we heard his slippers shuffling down the long passage to
his laboratory.

The Psychologist looked at us. “I wonder what he’s got?”

“Some sleight-of-hand trick or other,” said the Medical Man, and Filby
tried to tell us about a conjuror he had seen at Burslem, but before he
had finished his preface the Time Traveller came back, and Filby’s
anecdote collapsed.


The Machine

The thing the Time Traveller held in his hand was a glittering metallic
framework, scarcely larger than a small clock, and very delicately
made. There was ivory in it, and some transparent crystalline
substance. And now I must be explicit, for this that follows—unless his
explanation is to be accepted—is an absolutely unaccountable thing. He
took one of the small octagonal tables that were scattered about the
room, and set it in front of the fire, with two legs on the hearthrug.
On this table he placed the mechanism. Then he drew up a chair, and sat
down. The only other object on the table was a small shaded lamp, the
bright light of which fell upon the model. There were also perhaps a
dozen candles about, two in brass candlesticks upon the mantel and
several in sconces, so that the room was brilliantly illuminated. I sat
in a low arm-chair nearest the fire, and I drew this forward so as to
be almost between the Time Traveller and the fireplace. Filby sat
behind him, looking over his shoulder. The Medical Man and the
Provincial Mayor watched him in profile from the right, the
Psychologist from the left. The Very Young Man stood behind the
Psychologist. We were all on the alert. It appears incredible to me
that any kind of trick, however subtly conceived and however adroitly
done, could have been played upon us under these conditions.

The Time Traveller looked at us, and then at the mechanism. “Well?”
said the Psychologist.

“This little affair,” said the Time Traveller, resting his elbows upon
the table and pressing his hands together above the apparatus, “is only
a model. It is my plan for a machine to travel through time. You will
notice that it looks singularly askew, and that there is an odd
twinkling appearance about this bar, as though it was in some way
unreal.” He pointed to the part with his finger. “Also, here is one
little white lever, and here is another.”

The Medical Man got up out of his chair and peered into the thing.
“It’s beautifully made,” he said.

“It took two years to make,” retorted the Time Traveller. Then, when we
had all imitated the action of the Medical Man, he said: “Now I want
you clearly to understand that this lever, being pressed over, sends
the machine gliding into the future, and this other reverses the
motion. This saddle represents the seat of a time traveller. Presently
I am going to press the lever, and off the machine will go. It will
vanish, pass into future Time, and disappear. Have a good look at the
thing. Look at the table too, and satisfy yourselves there is no
trickery. I don’t want to waste this model, and then be told I’m a

There was a minute’s pause perhaps. The Psychologist seemed about to
speak to me, but changed his mind. Then the Time Traveller put forth
his finger towards the lever. “No,” he said suddenly. “Lend me your
hand.” And turning to the Psychologist, he took that individual’s hand
in his own and told him to put out his forefinger. So that it was the
Psychologist himself who sent forth the model Time Machine on its
interminable voyage. We all saw the lever turn. I am absolutely certain
there was no trickery. There was a breath of wind, and the lamp flame
jumped. One of the candles on the mantel was blown out, and the little
machine suddenly swung round, became indistinct, was seen as a ghost
for a second perhaps, as an eddy of faintly glittering brass and ivory;
and it was gone—vanished! Save for the lamp the table was bare.

Everyone was silent for a minute. Then Filby said he was damned.

The Psychologist recovered from his stupor, and suddenly looked under
the table. At that the Time Traveller laughed cheerfully. “Well?” he
said, with a reminiscence of the Psychologist. Then, getting up, he
went to the tobacco jar on the mantel, and with his back to us began to
fill his pipe.

We stared at each other. “Look here,” said the Medical Man, “are you in
earnest about this? Do you seriously believe that that machine has
travelled into time?”

“Certainly,” said the Time Traveller, stooping to light a spill at the
fire. Then he turned, lighting his pipe, to look at the Psychologist’s
face. (The Psychologist, to show that he was not unhinged, helped
himself to a cigar and tried to light it uncut.) “What is more, I have
a big machine nearly finished in there”—he indicated the
laboratory—“and when that is put together I mean to have a journey on
my own account.”

“You mean to say that that machine has travelled into the future?” said

“Into the future or the past—I don’t, for certain, know which.”

After an interval the Psychologist had an inspiration. “It must have
gone into the past if it has gone anywhere,” he said.

“Why?” said the Time Traveller.

“Because I presume that it has not moved in space, and if it travelled
into the future it would still be here all this time, since it must
have travelled through this time.”

“But,” said I, “If it travelled into the past it would have been
visible when we came first into this room; and last Thursday when we
were here; and the Thursday before that; and so forth!”

“Serious objections,” remarked the Provincial Mayor, with an air of
impartiality, turning towards the Time Traveller.

“Not a bit,” said the Time Traveller, and, to the Psychologist: “You
think. _You_ can explain that. It’s presentation below the threshold,
you know, diluted presentation.”

“Of course,” said the Psychologist, and reassured us. “That’s a simple
point of psychology. I should have thought of it. It’s plain enough,
and helps the paradox delightfully. We cannot see it, nor can we
appreciate this machine, any more than we can the spoke of a wheel
spinning, or a bullet flying through the air. If it is travelling
through time fifty times or a hundred times faster than we are, if it
gets through a minute while we get through a second, the impression it
creates will of course be only one-fiftieth or one-hundredth of what it
would make if it were not travelling in time. That’s plain enough.” He
passed his hand through the space in which the machine had been. “You
see?” he said, laughing.

We sat and stared at the vacant table for a minute or so. Then the Time
Traveller asked us what we thought of it all.

“It sounds plausible enough tonight,” said the Medical Man; “but wait
until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.”

“Would you like to see the Time Machine itself?” asked the Time
Traveller. And therewith, taking the lamp in his hand, he led the way
down the long, draughty corridor to his laboratory. I remember vividly
the flickering light, his queer, broad head in silhouette, the dance of
the shadows, how we all followed him, puzzled but incredulous, and how
there in the laboratory we beheld a larger edition of the little
mechanism which we had seen vanish from before our eyes. Parts were of
nickel, parts of ivory, parts had certainly been filed or sawn out of
rock crystal. The thing was generally complete, but the twisted
crystalline bars lay unfinished upon the bench beside some sheets of
drawings, and I took one up for a better look at it. Quartz it seemed
to be.

“Look here,” said the Medical Man, “are you perfectly serious? Or is
this a trick—like that ghost you showed us last Christmas?”

“Upon that machine,” said the Time Traveller, holding the lamp aloft,
“I intend to explore time. Is that plain? I was never more serious in
my life.”

None of us quite knew how to take it.

I caught Filby’s eye over the shoulder of the Medical Man, and he
winked at me solemnly.


The Time Traveller Returns

I think that at that time none of us quite believed in the Time
Machine. The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those men who are
too clever to be believed: you never felt that you saw all round him;
you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in ambush,
behind his lucid frankness. Had Filby shown the model and explained the
matter in the Time Traveller’s words, we should have shown _him_ far
less scepticism. For we should have perceived his motives: a
pork-butcher could understand Filby. But the Time Traveller had more
than a touch of whim among his elements, and we distrusted him. Things
that would have made the fame of a less clever man seemed tricks in his
hands. It is a mistake to do things too easily. The serious people who
took him seriously never felt quite sure of his deportment; they were
somehow aware that trusting their reputations for judgment with him was
like furnishing a nursery with eggshell china. So I don’t think any of
us said very much about time travelling in the interval between that
Thursday and the next, though its odd potentialities ran, no doubt, in
most of our minds: its plausibility, that is, its practical
incredibleness, the curious possibilities of anachronism and of utter
confusion it suggested. For my own part, I was particularly preoccupied
with the trick of the model. That I remember discussing with the
Medical Man, whom I met on Friday at the Linnæan. He said he had seen a
similar thing at Tübingen, and laid considerable stress on the
blowing-out of the candle. But how the trick was done he could not

The next Thursday I went again to Richmond—I suppose I was one of the
Time Traveller’s most constant guests—and, arriving late, found four or
five men already assembled in his drawing-room. The Medical Man was
standing before the fire with a sheet of paper in one hand and his
watch in the other. I looked round for the Time Traveller, and—“It’s
half-past seven now,” said the Medical Man. “I suppose we’d better have

“Where’s——?” said I, naming our host.

“You’ve just come? It’s rather odd. He’s unavoidably detained. He asks
me in this note to lead off with dinner at seven if he’s not back. Says
he’ll explain when he comes.”

“It seems a pity to let the dinner spoil,” said the Editor of a
well-known daily paper; and thereupon the Doctor rang the bell.

The Psychologist was the only person besides the Doctor and myself who
had attended the previous dinner. The other men were Blank, the Editor
aforementioned, a certain journalist, and another—a quiet, shy man with
a beard—whom I didn’t know, and who, as far as my observation went,
never opened his mouth all the evening. There was some speculation at
the dinner-table about the Time Traveller’s absence, and I suggested
time travelling, in a half-jocular spirit. The Editor wanted that
explained to him, and the Psychologist volunteered a wooden account of
the “ingenious paradox and trick” we had witnessed that day week. He
was in the midst of his exposition when the door from the corridor
opened slowly and without noise. I was facing the door, and saw it
first. “Hallo!” I said. “At last!” And the door opened wider, and the
Time Traveller stood before us. I gave a cry of surprise. “Good
heavens! man, what’s the matter?” cried the Medical Man, who saw him
next. And the whole tableful turned towards the door.

He was in an amazing plight. His coat was dusty and dirty, and smeared
with green down the sleeves; his hair disordered, and as it seemed to
me greyer—either with dust and dirt or because its colour had actually
faded. His face was ghastly pale; his chin had a brown cut on it—a cut
half-healed; his expression was haggard and drawn, as by intense
suffering. For a moment he hesitated in the doorway, as if he had been
dazzled by the light. Then he came into the room. He walked with just
such a limp as I have seen in footsore tramps. We stared at him in
silence, expecting him to speak.

He said not a word, but came painfully to the table, and made a motion
towards the wine. The Editor filled a glass of champagne, and pushed it
towards him. He drained it, and it seemed to do him good: for he looked
round the table, and the ghost of his old smile flickered across his
face. “What on earth have you been up to, man?” said the Doctor. The
Time Traveller did not seem to hear. “Don’t let me disturb you,” he
said, with a certain faltering articulation. “I’m all right.” He
stopped, held out his glass for more, and took it off at a draught.
“That’s good,” he said. His eyes grew brighter, and a faint colour came
into his cheeks. His glance flickered over our faces with a certain
dull approval, and then went round the warm and comfortable room. Then
he spoke again, still as it were feeling his way among his words. “I’m
going to wash and dress, and then I’ll come down and explain things….
Save me some of that mutton. I’m starving for a bit of meat.”

He looked across at the Editor, who was a rare visitor, and hoped he
was all right. The Editor began a question. “Tell you presently,” said
the Time Traveller. “I’m—funny! Be all right in a minute.”

He put down his glass, and walked towards the staircase door. Again I
remarked his lameness and the soft padding sound of his footfall, and
standing up in my place, I saw his feet as he went out. He had nothing
on them but a pair of tattered, blood-stained socks. Then the door
closed upon him. I had half a mind to follow, till I remembered how he
detested any fuss about himself. For a minute, perhaps, my mind was
wool-gathering. Then, “Remarkable Behaviour of an Eminent Scientist,” I
heard the Editor say, thinking (after his wont) in headlines. And this
brought my attention back to the bright dinner-table.

“What’s the game?” said the Journalist. “Has he been doing the Amateur
Cadger? I don’t follow.” I met the eye of the Psychologist, and read my
own interpretation in his face. I thought of the Time Traveller limping
painfully upstairs. I don’t think anyone else had noticed his lameness.

The first to recover completely from this surprise was the Medical Man,
who rang the bell—the Time Traveller hated to have servants waiting at
dinner—for a hot plate. At that the Editor turned to his knife and fork
with a grunt, and the Silent Man followed suit. The dinner was resumed.
Conversation was exclamatory for a little while with gaps of
wonderment; and then the Editor got fervent in his curiosity. “Does our
friend eke out his modest income with a crossing? or has he his
Nebuchadnezzar phases?” he inquired. “I feel assured it’s this business
of the Time Machine,” I said, and took up the Psychologist’s account of
our previous meeting. The new guests were frankly incredulous. The
Editor raised objections. “What _was_ this time travelling? A man
couldn’t cover himself with dust by rolling in a paradox, could he?”
And then, as the idea came home to him, he resorted to caricature.
Hadn’t they any clothes-brushes in the Future? The Journalist too,
would not believe at any price, and joined the Editor in the easy work
of heaping ridicule on the whole thing. They were both the new kind of
journalist—very joyous, irreverent young men. “Our Special
Correspondent in the Day after Tomorrow reports,” the Journalist was
saying—or rather shouting—when the Time Traveller came back. He was
dressed in ordinary evening clothes, and nothing save his haggard look
remained of the change that had startled me.

“I say,” said the Editor hilariously, “these chaps here say you have
been travelling into the middle of next week! Tell us all about little
Rosebery, will you? What will you take for the lot?”

The Time Traveller came to the place reserved for him without a word.
He smiled quietly, in his old way. “Where’s my mutton?” he said. “What
a treat it is to stick a fork into meat again!”

“Story!” cried the Editor.

“Story be damned!” said the Time Traveller. “I want something to eat. I
won’t say a word until I get some peptone into my arteries. Thanks. And
the salt.”

“One word,” said I. “Have you been time travelling?”

“Yes,” said the Time Traveller, with his mouth full, nodding his head.

“I’d give a shilling a line for a verbatim note,” said the Editor. The
Time Traveller pushed his glass towards the Silent Man and rang it with
his fingernail; at which the Silent Man, who had been staring at his
face, started convulsively, and poured him wine. The rest of the dinner
was uncomfortable. For my own part, sudden questions kept on rising to
my lips, and I dare say it was the same with the others. The Journalist
tried to relieve the tension by telling anecdotes of Hettie Potter. The
Time Traveller devoted his attention to his dinner, and displayed the
appetite of a tramp. The Medical Man smoked a cigarette, and watched
the Time Traveller through his eyelashes. The Silent Man seemed even
more clumsy than usual, and drank champagne with regularity and
determination out of sheer nervousness. At last the Time Traveller
pushed his plate away, and looked round us. “I suppose I must
apologise,” he said. “I was simply starving. I’ve had a most amazing
time.” He reached out his hand for a cigar, and cut the end. “But come
into the smoking-room. It’s too long a story to tell over greasy
plates.” And ringing the bell in passing, he led the way into the
adjoining room.

“You have told Blank, and Dash, and Chose about the machine?” he said
to me, leaning back in his easy-chair and naming the three new guests.

“But the thing’s a mere paradox,” said the Editor.

“I can’t argue tonight. I don’t mind telling you the story, but I can’t
argue. I will,” he went on, “tell you the story of what has happened to
me, if you like, but you must refrain from interruptions. I want to
tell it. Badly. Most of it will sound like lying. So be it! It’s
true—every word of it, all the same. I was in my laboratory at four
o’clock, and since then … I’ve lived eight days … such days as no human
being ever lived before! I’m nearly worn out, but I shan’t sleep till
I’ve told this thing over to you. Then I shall go to bed. But no
interruptions! Is it agreed?”

“Agreed,” said the Editor, and the rest of us echoed “Agreed.” And with
that the Time Traveller began his story as I have set it forth. He sat
back in his chair at first, and spoke like a weary man. Afterwards he
got more animated. In writing it down I feel with only too much
keenness the inadequacy of pen and ink—and, above all, my own
inadequacy—to express its quality. You read, I will suppose,
attentively enough; but you cannot see the speaker’s white, sincere
face in the bright circle of the little lamp, nor hear the intonation
of his voice. You cannot know how his expression followed the turns of
his story! Most of us hearers were in shadow, for the candles in the
smoking-room had not been lighted, and only the face of the Journalist
and the legs of the Silent Man from the knees downward were
illuminated. At first we glanced now and again at each other. After a
time we ceased to do that, and looked only at the Time Traveller’s


Time Travelling

“I told some of you last Thursday of the principles of the Time
Machine, and showed you the actual thing itself, incomplete in the
workshop. There it is now, a little travel-worn, truly; and one of the
ivory bars is cracked, and a brass rail bent; but the rest of it’s
sound enough. I expected to finish it on Friday; but on Friday, when
the putting together was nearly done, I found that one of the nickel
bars was exactly one inch too short, and this I had to get remade; so
that the thing was not complete until this morning. It was at ten
o’clock today that the first of all Time Machines began its career. I
gave it a last tap, tried all the screws again, put one more drop of
oil on the quartz rod, and sat myself in the saddle. I suppose a
suicide who holds a pistol to his skull feels much the same wonder at
what will come next as I felt then. I took the starting lever in one
hand and the stopping one in the other, pressed the first, and almost
immediately the second. I seemed to reel; I felt a nightmare sensation
of falling; and, looking round, I saw the laboratory exactly as before.
Had anything happened? For a moment I suspected that my intellect had
tricked me. Then I noted the clock. A moment before, as it seemed, it
had stood at a minute or so past ten; now it was nearly half-past

“I drew a breath, set my teeth, gripped the starting lever with both
hands, and went off with a thud. The laboratory got hazy and went dark.
Mrs. Watchett came in and walked, apparently without seeing me, towards
the garden door. I suppose it took her a minute or so to traverse the
place, but to me she seemed to shoot across the room like a rocket. I
pressed the lever over to its extreme position. The night came like the
turning out of a lamp, and in another moment came tomorrow. The
laboratory grew faint and hazy, then fainter and ever fainter. Tomorrow
night came black, then day again, night again, day again, faster and
faster still. An eddying murmur filled my ears, and a strange, dumb
confusedness descended on my mind.

“I am afraid I cannot convey the peculiar sensations of time
travelling. They are excessively unpleasant. There is a feeling exactly
like that one has upon a switchback—of a helpless headlong motion! I
felt the same horrible anticipation, too, of an imminent smash. As I
put on pace, night followed day like the flapping of a black wing. The
dim suggestion of the laboratory seemed presently to fall away from me,
and I saw the sun hopping swiftly across the sky, leaping it every
minute, and every minute marking a day. I supposed the laboratory had
been destroyed and I had come into the open air. I had a dim impression
of scaffolding, but I was already going too fast to be conscious of any
moving things. The slowest snail that ever crawled dashed by too fast
for me. The twinkling succession of darkness and light was excessively
painful to the eye. Then, in the intermittent darknesses, I saw the
moon spinning swiftly through her quarters from new to full, and had a
faint glimpse of the circling stars. Presently, as I went on, still
gaining velocity, the palpitation of night and day merged into one
continuous greyness; the sky took on a wonderful deepness of blue, a
splendid luminous colour like that of early twilight; the jerking sun
became a streak of fire, a brilliant arch, in space; the moon a fainter
fluctuating band; and I could see nothing of the stars, save now and
then a brighter circle flickering in the blue.

“The landscape was misty and vague. I was still on the hillside upon
which this house now stands, and the shoulder rose above me grey and
dim. I saw trees growing and changing like puffs of vapour, now brown,
now green; they grew, spread, shivered, and passed away. I saw huge
buildings rise up faint and fair, and pass like dreams. The whole
surface of the earth seemed changed—melting and flowing under my eyes.
The little hands upon the dials that registered my speed raced round
faster and faster. Presently I noted that the sun belt swayed up and
down, from solstice to solstice, in a minute or less, and that
consequently my pace was over a year a minute; and minute by minute the
white snow flashed across the world, and vanished, and was followed by
the bright, brief green of spring.

“The unpleasant sensations of the start were less poignant now. They
merged at last into a kind of hysterical exhilaration. I remarked,
indeed, a clumsy swaying of the machine, for which I was unable to
account. But my mind was too confused to attend to it, so with a kind
of madness growing upon me, I flung myself into futurity. At first I
scarce thought of stopping, scarce thought of anything but these new
sensations. But presently a fresh series of impressions grew up in my
mind—a certain curiosity and therewith a certain dread—until at last
they took complete possession of me. What strange developments of
humanity, what wonderful advances upon our rudimentary civilisation, I
thought, might not appear when I came to look nearly into the dim
elusive world that raced and fluctuated before my eyes! I saw great and
splendid architecture rising about me, more massive than any buildings
of our own time, and yet, as it seemed, built of glimmer and mist. I
saw a richer green flow up the hillside, and remain there, without any
wintry intermission. Even through the veil of my confusion the earth
seemed very fair. And so my mind came round to the business of

“The peculiar risk lay in the possibility of my finding some substance
in the space which I, or the machine, occupied. So long as I travelled
at a high velocity through time, this scarcely mattered: I was, so to
speak, attenuated—was slipping like a vapour through the interstices of
intervening substances! But to come to a stop involved the jamming of
myself, molecule by molecule, into whatever lay in my way; meant
bringing my atoms into such intimate contact with those of the obstacle
that a profound chemical reaction—possibly a far-reaching
explosion—would result, and blow myself and my apparatus out of all
possible dimensions—into the Unknown. This possibility had occurred to
me again and again while I was making the machine; but then I had
cheerfully accepted it as an unavoidable risk—one of the risks a man
has got to take! Now the risk was inevitable, I no longer saw it in the
same cheerful light. The fact is that, insensibly, the absolute
strangeness of everything, the sickly jarring and swaying of the
machine, above all, the feeling of prolonged falling, had absolutely
upset my nerves. I told myself that I could never stop, and with a gust
of petulance I resolved to stop forthwith. Like an impatient fool, I
lugged over the lever, and incontinently the thing went reeling over,
and I was flung headlong through the air.

“There was the sound of a clap of thunder in my ears. I may have been
stunned for a moment. A pitiless hail was hissing round me, and I was
sitting on soft turf in front of the overset machine. Everything still
seemed grey, but presently I remarked that the confusion in my ears was
gone. I looked round me. I was on what seemed to be a little lawn in a
garden, surrounded by rhododendron bushes, and I noticed that their
mauve and purple blossoms were dropping in a shower under the beating
of the hailstones. The rebounding, dancing hail hung in a little cloud
over the machine, and drove along the ground like smoke. In a moment I
was wet to the skin. ‘Fine hospitality,’ said I, ‘to a man who has
travelled innumerable years to see you.’

“Presently I thought what a fool I was to get wet. I stood up and
looked round me. A colossal figure, carved apparently in some white
stone, loomed indistinctly beyond the rhododendrons through the hazy
downpour. But all else of the world was invisible.

“My sensations would be hard to describe. As the columns of hail grew
thinner, I saw the white figure more distinctly. It was very large, for
a silver birch-tree touched its shoulder. It was of white marble, in
shape something like a winged sphinx, but the wings, instead of being
carried vertically at the sides, were spread so that it seemed to
hover. The pedestal, it appeared to me, was of bronze, and was thick
with verdigris. It chanced that the face was towards me; the sightless
eyes seemed to watch me; there was the faint shadow of a smile on the
lips. It was greatly weather-worn, and that imparted an unpleasant
suggestion of disease. I stood looking at it for a little space—half a
minute, perhaps, or half an hour. It seemed to advance and to recede as
the hail drove before it denser or thinner. At last I tore my eyes from
it for a moment, and saw that the hail curtain had worn threadbare, and
that the sky was lightening with the promise of the sun.

“I looked up again at the crouching white shape, and the full temerity
of my voyage came suddenly upon me. What might appear when that hazy
curtain was altogether withdrawn? What might not have happened to men?
What if cruelty had grown into a common passion? What if in this
interval the race had lost its manliness, and had developed into
something inhuman, unsympathetic, and overwhelmingly powerful? I might
seem some old-world savage animal, only the more dreadful and
disgusting for our common likeness—a foul creature to be incontinently

“Already I saw other vast shapes—huge buildings with intricate parapets
and tall columns, with a wooded hillside dimly creeping in upon me
through the lessening storm. I was seized with a panic fear. I turned
frantically to the Time Machine, and strove hard to readjust it. As I
did so the shafts of the sun smote through the thunderstorm. The grey
downpour was swept aside and vanished like the trailing garments of a
ghost. Above me, in the intense blue of the summer sky, some faint
brown shreds of cloud whirled into nothingness. The great buildings
about me stood out clear and distinct, shining with the wet of the
thunderstorm, and picked out in white by the unmelted hailstones piled
along their courses. I felt naked in a strange world. I felt as perhaps
a bird may feel in the clear air, knowing the hawk wings above and will
swoop. My fear grew to frenzy. I took a breathing space, set my teeth,
and again grappled fiercely, wrist and knee, with the machine. It gave
under my desperate onset and turned over. It struck my chin violently.
One hand on the saddle, the other on the lever, I stood panting heavily
in attitude to mount again.

“But with this recovery of a prompt retreat my courage recovered. I
looked more curiously and less fearfully at this world of the remote
future. In a circular opening, high up in the wall of the nearer house,
I saw a group of figures clad in rich soft robes. They had seen me, and
their faces were directed towards me.

“Then I heard voices approaching me. Coming through the bushes by the
White Sphinx were the heads and shoulders of men running. One of these
emerged in a pathway leading straight to the little lawn upon which I
stood with my machine. He was a slight creature—perhaps four feet
high—clad in a purple tunic, girdled at the waist with a leather belt.
Sandals or buskins—I could not clearly distinguish which—were on his
feet; his legs were bare to the knees, and his head was bare. Noticing
that, I noticed for the first time how warm the air was.

“He struck me as being a very beautiful and graceful creature, but
indescribably frail. His flushed face reminded me of the more beautiful
kind of consumptive—that hectic beauty of which we used to hear so
much. At the sight of him I suddenly regained confidence. I took my
hands from the machine.


In the Golden Age

“In another moment we were standing face to face, I and this fragile
thing out of futurity. He came straight up to me and laughed into my
eyes. The absence from his bearing of any sign of fear struck me at
once. Then he turned to the two others who were following him and spoke
to them in a strange and very sweet and liquid tongue.

“There were others coming, and presently a little group of perhaps
eight or ten of these exquisite creatures were about me. One of them
addressed me. It came into my head, oddly enough, that my voice was too
harsh and deep for them. So I shook my head, and, pointing to my ears,
shook it again. He came a step forward, hesitated, and then touched my
hand. Then I felt other soft little tentacles upon my back and
shoulders. They wanted to make sure I was real. There was nothing in
this at all alarming. Indeed, there was something in these pretty
little people that inspired confidence—a graceful gentleness, a certain
childlike ease. And besides, they looked so frail that I could fancy
myself flinging the whole dozen of them about like ninepins. But I made
a sudden motion to warn them when I saw their little pink hands feeling
at the Time Machine. Happily then, when it was not too late, I thought
of a danger I had hitherto forgotten, and reaching over the bars of the
machine I unscrewed the little levers that would set it in motion, and
put these in my pocket. Then I turned again to see what I could do in
the way of communication.

“And then, looking more nearly into their features, I saw some further
peculiarities in their Dresden china type of prettiness. Their hair,
which was uniformly curly, came to a sharp end at the neck and cheek;
there was not the faintest suggestion of it on the face, and their ears
were singularly minute. The mouths were small, with bright red, rather
thin lips, and the little chins ran to a point. The eyes were large and
mild; and—this may seem egotism on my part—I fancied even that there
was a certain lack of the interest I might have expected in them.

“As they made no effort to communicate with me, but simply stood round
me smiling and speaking in soft cooing notes to each other, I began the
conversation. I pointed to the Time Machine and to myself. Then,
hesitating for a moment how to express Time, I pointed to the sun. At
once a quaintly pretty little figure in chequered purple and white
followed my gesture, and then astonished me by imitating the sound of

“For a moment I was staggered, though the import of his gesture was
plain enough. The question had come into my mind abruptly: were these
creatures fools? You may hardly understand how it took me. You see, I
had always anticipated that the people of the year Eight Hundred and
Two Thousand odd would be incredibly in front of us in knowledge, art,
everything. Then one of them suddenly asked me a question that showed
him to be on the intellectual level of one of our five-year-old
children—asked me, in fact, if I had come from the sun in a
thunderstorm! It let loose the judgment I had suspended upon their
clothes, their frail light limbs, and fragile features. A flow of
disappointment rushed across my mind. For a moment I felt that I had
built the Time Machine in vain.

“I nodded, pointed to the sun, and gave them such a vivid rendering of
a thunderclap as startled them. They all withdrew a pace or so and
bowed. Then came one laughing towards me, carrying a chain of beautiful
flowers altogether new to me, and put it about my neck. The idea was
received with melodious applause; and presently they were all running
to and fro for flowers, and laughingly flinging them upon me until I
was almost smothered with blossom. You who have never seen the like can
scarcely imagine what delicate and wonderful flowers countless years of
culture had created. Then someone suggested that their plaything should
be exhibited in the nearest building, and so I was led past the sphinx
of white marble, which had seemed to watch me all the while with a
smile at my astonishment, towards a vast grey edifice of fretted stone.
As I went with them the memory of my confident anticipations of a
profoundly grave and intellectual posterity came, with irresistible
merriment, to my mind.

“The building had a huge entry, and was altogether of colossal
dimensions. I was naturally most occupied with the growing crowd of
little people, and with the big open portals that yawned before me
shadowy and mysterious. My general impression of the world I saw over
their heads was a tangled waste of beautiful bushes and flowers, a long
neglected and yet weedless garden. I saw a number of tall spikes of
strange white flowers, measuring a foot perhaps across the spread of
the waxen petals. They grew scattered, as if wild, among the variegated
shrubs, but, as I say, I did not examine them closely at this time. The
Time Machine was left deserted on the turf among the rhododendrons.

“The arch of the doorway was richly carved, but naturally I did not
observe the carving very narrowly, though I fancied I saw suggestions
of old Phœnician decorations as I passed through, and it struck me that
they were very badly broken and weather-worn. Several more brightly
clad people met me in the doorway, and so we entered, I, dressed in
dingy nineteenth-century garments, looking grotesque enough, garlanded
with flowers, and surrounded by an eddying mass of bright,
soft-coloured robes and shining white limbs, in a melodious whirl of
laughter and laughing speech.

“The big doorway opened into a proportionately great hall hung with
brown. The roof was in shadow, and the windows, partially glazed with
coloured glass and partially unglazed, admitted a tempered light. The
floor was made up of huge blocks of some very hard white metal, not
plates nor slabs—blocks, and it was so much worn, as I judged by the
going to and fro of past generations, as to be deeply channelled along
the more frequented ways. Transverse to the length were innumerable
tables made of slabs of polished stone, raised, perhaps, a foot from
the floor, and upon these were heaps of fruits. Some I recognised as a
kind of hypertrophied raspberry and orange, but for the most part they
were strange.

“Between the tables was scattered a great number of cushions. Upon
these my conductors seated themselves, signing for me to do likewise.
With a pretty absence of ceremony they began to eat the fruit with
their hands, flinging peel and stalks, and so forth, into the round
openings in the sides of the tables. I was not loath to follow their
example, for I felt thirsty and hungry. As I did so I surveyed the hall
at my leisure.

“And perhaps the thing that struck me most was its dilapidated look.
The stained-glass windows, which displayed only a geometrical pattern,
were broken in many places, and the curtains that hung across the lower
end were thick with dust. And it caught my eye that the corner of the
marble table near me was fractured. Nevertheless, the general effect
was extremely rich and picturesque. There were, perhaps, a couple of
hundred people dining in the hall, and most of them, seated as near to
me as they could come, were watching me with interest, their little
eyes shining over the fruit they were eating. All were clad in the same
soft, and yet strong, silky material.

“Fruit, by the bye, was all their diet. These people of the remote
future were strict vegetarians, and while I was with them, in spite of
some carnal cravings, I had to be frugivorous also. Indeed, I found
afterwards that horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, had followed the
Ichthyosaurus into extinction. But the fruits were very delightful;
one, in particular, that seemed to be in season all the time I was
there—a floury thing in a three-sided husk—was especially good, and I
made it my staple. At first I was puzzled by all these strange fruits,
and by the strange flowers I saw, but later I began to perceive their

“However, I am telling you of my fruit dinner in the distant future
now. So soon as my appetite was a little checked, I determined to make
a resolute attempt to learn the speech of these new men of mine.
Clearly that was the next thing to do. The fruits seemed a convenient
thing to begin upon, and holding one of these up I began a series of
interrogative sounds and gestures. I had some considerable difficulty
in conveying my meaning. At first my efforts met with a stare of
surprise or inextinguishable laughter, but presently a fair-haired
little creature seemed to grasp my intention and repeated a name. They
had to chatter and explain the business at great length to each other,
and my first attempts to make the exquisite little sounds of their
language caused an immense amount of genuine, if uncivil, amusement.
However, I felt like a schoolmaster amidst children, and persisted, and
presently I had a score of noun substantives at least at my command;
and then I got to demonstrative pronouns, and even the verb ‘to eat.’
But it was slow work, and the little people soon tired and wanted to
get away from my interrogations, so I determined, rather of necessity,
to let them give their lessons in little doses when they felt inclined.
And very little doses I found they were before long, for I never met
people more indolent or more easily fatigued.


The Sunset of Mankind

“A queer thing I soon discovered about my little hosts, and that was
their lack of interest. They would come to me with eager cries of
astonishment, like children, but, like children they would soon stop
examining me, and wander away after some other toy. The dinner and my
conversational beginnings ended, I noted for the first time that almost
all those who had surrounded me at first were gone. It is odd, too, how
speedily I came to disregard these little people. I went out through
the portal into the sunlit world again as soon as my hunger was
satisfied. I was continually meeting more of these men of the future,
who would follow me a little distance, chatter and laugh about me, and,
having smiled and gesticulated in a friendly way, leave me again to my
own devices.

“The calm of evening was upon the world as I emerged from the great
hall, and the scene was lit by the warm glow of the setting sun. At
first things were very confusing. Everything was so entirely different
from the world I had known—even the flowers. The big building I had
left was situated on the slope of a broad river valley, but the Thames
had shifted, perhaps, a mile from its present position. I resolved to
mount to the summit of a crest, perhaps a mile and a half away, from
which I could get a wider view of this our planet in the year Eight
Hundred and Two Thousand Seven Hundred and One, A.D. For that, I should
explain, was the date the little dials of my machine recorded.

“As I walked I was watching for every impression that could possibly
help to explain the condition of ruinous splendour in which I found the
world—for ruinous it was. A little way up the hill, for instance, was a
great heap of granite, bound together by masses of aluminium, a vast
labyrinth of precipitous walls and crumpled heaps, amidst which were
thick heaps of very beautiful pagoda-like plants—nettles possibly—but
wonderfully tinted with brown about the leaves, and incapable of
stinging. It was evidently the derelict remains of some vast structure,
to what end built I could not determine. It was here that I was
destined, at a later date, to have a very strange experience—the first
intimation of a still stranger discovery—but of that I will speak in
its proper place.

“Looking round, with a sudden thought, from a terrace on which I rested
for a while, I realised that there were no small houses to be seen.
Apparently the single house, and possibly even the household, had
vanished. Here and there among the greenery were palace-like buildings,
but the house and the cottage, which form such characteristic features
of our own English landscape, had disappeared.

“‘Communism,’ said I to myself.

“And on the heels of that came another thought. I looked at the
half-dozen little figures that were following me. Then, in a flash, I
perceived that all had the same form of costume, the same soft hairless
visage, and the same girlish rotundity of limb. It may seem strange,
perhaps, that I had not noticed this before. But everything was so
strange. Now, I saw the fact plainly enough. In costume, and in all the
differences of texture and bearing that now mark off the sexes from
each other, these people of the future were alike. And the children
seemed to my eyes to be but the miniatures of their parents. I judged
then that the children of that time were extremely precocious,
physically at least, and I found afterwards abundant verification of my

“Seeing the ease and security in which these people were living, I felt
that this close resemblance of the sexes was after all what one would
expect; for the strength of a man and the softness of a woman, the
institution of the family, and the differentiation of occupations are
mere militant necessities of an age of physical force. Where population
is balanced and abundant, much childbearing becomes an evil rather than
a blessing to the State; where violence comes but rarely and offspring
are secure, there is less necessity—indeed there is no necessity—for an
efficient family, and the specialisation of the sexes with reference to
their children’s needs disappears. We see some beginnings of this even
in our own time, and in this future age it was complete. This, I must
remind you, was my speculation at the time. Later, I was to appreciate
how far it fell short of the reality.

“While I was musing upon these things, my attention was attracted by a
pretty little structure, like a well under a cupola. I thought in a
transitory way of the oddness of wells still existing, and then resumed
the thread of my speculations. There were no large buildings towards
the top of the hill, and as my walking powers were evidently
miraculous, I was presently left alone for the first time. With a
strange sense of freedom and adventure I pushed on up to the crest.

“There I found a seat of some yellow metal that I did not recognise,
corroded in places with a kind of pinkish rust and half smothered in
soft moss, the arm-rests cast and filed into the resemblance of
griffins’ heads. I sat down on it, and I surveyed the broad view of our
old world under the sunset of that long day. It was as sweet and fair a
view as I have ever seen. The sun had already gone below the horizon
and the west was flaming gold, touched with some horizontal bars of
purple and crimson. Below was the valley of the Thames, in which the
river lay like a band of burnished steel. I have already spoken of the
great palaces dotted about among the variegated greenery, some in ruins
and some still occupied. Here and there rose a white or silvery figure
in the waste garden of the earth, here and there came the sharp
vertical line of some cupola or obelisk. There were no hedges, no signs
of proprietary rights, no evidences of agriculture; the whole earth had
become a garden.

“So watching, I began to put my interpretation upon the things I had
seen, and as it shaped itself to me that evening, my interpretation was
something in this way. (Afterwards I found I had got only a half
truth—or only a glimpse of one facet of the truth.)

“It seemed to me that I had happened upon humanity upon the wane. The
ruddy sunset set me thinking of the sunset of mankind. For the first
time I began to realise an odd consequence of the social effort in
which we are at present engaged. And yet, come to think, it is a
logical consequence enough. Strength is the outcome of need; security
sets a premium on feebleness. The work of ameliorating the conditions
of life—the true civilising process that makes life more and more
secure—had gone steadily on to a climax. One triumph of a united
humanity over Nature had followed another. Things that are now mere
dreams had become projects deliberately put in hand and carried
forward. And the harvest was what I saw!

“After all, the sanitation and the agriculture of today are still in
the rudimentary stage. The science of our time has attacked but a
little department of the field of human disease, but, even so, it
spreads its operations very steadily and persistently. Our agriculture
and horticulture destroy a weed just here and there and cultivate
perhaps a score or so of wholesome plants, leaving the greater number
to fight out a balance as they can. We improve our favourite plants and
animals—and how few they are—gradually by selective breeding; now a new
and better peach, now a seedless grape, now a sweeter and larger
flower, now a more convenient breed of cattle. We improve them
gradually, because our ideals are vague and tentative, and our
knowledge is very limited; because Nature, too, is shy and slow in our
clumsy hands. Some day all this will be better organised, and still
better. That is the drift of the current in spite of the eddies. The
whole world will be intelligent, educated, and co-operating; things
will move faster and faster towards the subjugation of Nature. In the
end, wisely and carefully we shall readjust the balance of animal and
vegetable life to suit our human needs.

“This adjustment, I say, must have been done, and done well; done
indeed for all Time, in the space of Time across which my machine had
leapt. The air was free from gnats, the earth from weeds or fungi;
everywhere were fruits and sweet and delightful flowers; brilliant
butterflies flew hither and thither. The ideal of preventive medicine
was attained. Diseases had been stamped out. I saw no evidence of any
contagious diseases during all my stay. And I shall have to tell you
later that even the processes of putrefaction and decay had been
profoundly affected by these changes.

“Social triumphs, too, had been effected. I saw mankind housed in
splendid shelters, gloriously clothed, and as yet I had found them
engaged in no toil. There were no signs of struggle, neither social nor
economical struggle. The shop, the advertisement, traffic, all that
commerce which constitutes the body of our world, was gone. It was
natural on that golden evening that I should jump at the idea of a
social paradise. The difficulty of increasing population had been met,
I guessed, and population had ceased to increase.

“But with this change in condition comes inevitably adaptations to the
change. What, unless biological science is a mass of errors, is the
cause of human intelligence and vigour? Hardship and freedom:
conditions under which the active, strong, and subtle survive and the
weaker go to the wall; conditions that put a premium upon the loyal
alliance of capable men, upon self-restraint, patience, and decision.
And the institution of the family, and the emotions that arise therein,
the fierce jealousy, the tenderness for offspring, parental
self-devotion, all found their justification and support in the
imminent dangers of the young. _Now_, where are these imminent dangers?
There is a sentiment arising, and it will grow, against connubial
jealousy, against fierce maternity, against passion of all sorts;
unnecessary things now, and things that make us uncomfortable, savage
survivals, discords in a refined and pleasant life.

“I thought of the physical slightness of the people, their lack of
intelligence, and those big abundant ruins, and it strengthened my
belief in a perfect conquest of Nature. For after the battle comes
Quiet. Humanity had been strong, energetic, and intelligent, and had
used all its abundant vitality to alter the conditions under which it
lived. And now came the reaction of the altered conditions.

“Under the new conditions of perfect comfort and security, that
restless energy, that with us is strength, would become weakness. Even
in our own time certain tendencies and desires, once necessary to
survival, are a constant source of failure. Physical courage and the
love of battle, for instance, are no great help—may even be
hindrances—to a civilised man. And in a state of physical balance and
security, power, intellectual as well as physical, would be out of
place. For countless years I judged there had been no danger of war or
solitary violence, no danger from wild beasts, no wasting disease to
require strength of constitution, no need of toil. For such a life,
what we should call the weak are as well equipped as the strong, are
indeed no longer weak. Better equipped indeed they are, for the strong
would be fretted by an energy for which there was no outlet. No doubt
the exquisite beauty of the buildings I saw was the outcome of the last
surgings of the now purposeless energy of mankind before it settled
down into perfect harmony with the conditions under which it lived—the
flourish of that triumph which began the last great peace. This has
ever been the fate of energy in security; it takes to art and to
eroticism, and then come languor and decay.

“Even this artistic impetus would at last die away—had almost died in
the Time I saw. To adorn themselves with flowers, to dance, to sing in
the sunlight: so much was left of the artistic spirit, and no more.
Even that would fade in the end into a contented inactivity. We are
kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity, and it seemed to me
that here was that hateful grindstone broken at last!

“As I stood there in the gathering dark I thought that in this simple
explanation I had mastered the problem of the world—mastered the whole
secret of these delicious people. Possibly the checks they had devised
for the increase of population had succeeded too well, and their
numbers had rather diminished than kept stationary. That would account
for the abandoned ruins. Very simple was my explanation, and plausible
enough—as most wrong theories are!


A Sudden Shock

“As I stood there musing over this too perfect triumph of man, the full
moon, yellow and gibbous, came up out of an overflow of silver light in
the north-east. The bright little figures ceased to move about below, a
noiseless owl flitted by, and I shivered with the chill of the night. I
determined to descend and find where I could sleep.

“I looked for the building I knew. Then my eye travelled along to the
figure of the White Sphinx upon the pedestal of bronze, growing
distinct as the light of the rising moon grew brighter. I could see the
silver birch against it. There was the tangle of rhododendron bushes,
black in the pale light, and there was the little lawn. I looked at the
lawn again. A queer doubt chilled my complacency. ‘No,’ said I stoutly
to myself, ‘that was not the lawn.’

“But it _was_ the lawn. For the white leprous face of the sphinx was
towards it. Can you imagine what I felt as this conviction came home to
me? But you cannot. The Time Machine was gone!

“At once, like a lash across the face, came the possibility of losing
my own age, of being left helpless in this strange new world. The bare
thought of it was an actual physical sensation. I could feel it grip me
at the throat and stop my breathing. In another moment I was in a
passion of fear and running with great leaping strides down the slope.
Once I fell headlong and cut my face; I lost no time in stanching the
blood, but jumped up and ran on, with a warm trickle down my cheek and
chin. All the time I ran I was saying to myself: ‘They have moved it a
little, pushed it under the bushes out of the way.’ Nevertheless, I ran
with all my might. All the time, with the certainty that sometimes
comes with excessive dread, I knew that such assurance was folly, knew
instinctively that the machine was removed out of my reach. My breath
came with pain. I suppose I covered the whole distance from the hill
crest to the little lawn, two miles perhaps, in ten minutes. And I am
not a young man. I cursed aloud, as I ran, at my confident folly in
leaving the machine, wasting good breath thereby. I cried aloud, and
none answered. Not a creature seemed to be stirring in that moonlit

“When I reached the lawn my worst fears were realised. Not a trace of
the thing was to be seen. I felt faint and cold when I faced the empty
space among the black tangle of bushes. I ran round it furiously, as if
the thing might be hidden in a corner, and then stopped abruptly, with
my hands clutching my hair. Above me towered the sphinx, upon the
bronze pedestal, white, shining, leprous, in the light of the rising
moon. It seemed to smile in mockery of my dismay.

“I might have consoled myself by imagining the little people had put
the mechanism in some shelter for me, had I not felt assured of their
physical and intellectual inadequacy. That is what dismayed me: the
sense of some hitherto unsuspected power, through whose intervention my
invention had vanished. Yet, for one thing I felt assured: unless some
other age had produced its exact duplicate, the machine could not have
moved in time. The attachment of the levers—I will show you the method
later—prevented anyone from tampering with it in that way when they
were removed. It had moved, and was hid, only in space. But then, where
could it be?

“I think I must have had a kind of frenzy. I remember running violently
in and out among the moonlit bushes all round the sphinx, and startling
some white animal that, in the dim light, I took for a small deer. I
remember, too, late that night, beating the bushes with my clenched
fist until my knuckles were gashed and bleeding from the broken twigs.
Then, sobbing and raving in my anguish of mind, I went down to the
great building of stone. The big hall was dark, silent, and deserted. I
slipped on the uneven floor, and fell over one of the malachite tables,
almost breaking my shin. I lit a match and went on past the dusty
curtains, of which I have told you.

“There I found a second great hall covered with cushions, upon which,
perhaps, a score or so of the little people were sleeping. I have no
doubt they found my second appearance strange enough, coming suddenly
out of the quiet darkness with inarticulate noises and the splutter and
flare of a match. For they had forgotten about matches. ‘Where is my
Time Machine?’ I began, bawling like an angry child, laying hands upon
them and shaking them up together. It must have been very queer to
them. Some laughed, most of them looked sorely frightened. When I saw
them standing round me, it came into my head that I was doing as
foolish a thing as it was possible for me to do under the
circumstances, in trying to revive the sensation of fear. For,
reasoning from their daylight behaviour, I thought that fear must be

“Abruptly, I dashed down the match, and knocking one of the people over
in my course, went blundering across the big dining-hall again, out
under the moonlight. I heard cries of terror and their little feet
running and stumbling this way and that. I do not remember all I did as
the moon crept up the sky. I suppose it was the unexpected nature of my
loss that maddened me. I felt hopelessly cut off from my own kind—a
strange animal in an unknown world. I must have raved to and fro,
screaming and crying upon God and Fate. I have a memory of horrible
fatigue, as the long night of despair wore away; of looking in this
impossible place and that; of groping among moonlit ruins and touching
strange creatures in the black shadows; at last, of lying on the ground
near the sphinx and weeping with absolute wretchedness, even anger at
the folly of leaving the machine having leaked away with my strength. I
had nothing left but misery. Then I slept, and when I woke again it was
full day, and a couple of sparrows were hopping round me on the turf
within reach of my arm.

“I sat up in the freshness of the morning, trying to remember how I had
got there, and why I had such a profound sense of desertion and
despair. Then things came clear in my mind. With the plain, reasonable
daylight, I could look my circumstances fairly in the face. I saw the
wild folly of my frenzy overnight, and I could reason with myself.
‘Suppose the worst?’ I said. ‘Suppose the machine altogether
lost—perhaps destroyed? It behoves me to be calm and patient, to learn
the way of the people, to get a clear idea of the method of my loss,
and the means of getting materials and tools; so that in the end,
perhaps, I may make another.’ That would be my only hope, a poor hope,
perhaps, but better than despair. And, after all, it was a beautiful
and curious world.

“But probably the machine had only been taken away. Still, I must be
calm and patient, find its hiding-place, and recover it by force or
cunning. And with that I scrambled to my feet and looked about me,
wondering where I could bathe. I felt weary, stiff, and travel-soiled.
The freshness of the morning made me desire an equal freshness. I had
exhausted my emotion. Indeed, as I went about my business, I found
myself wondering at my intense excitement overnight. I made a careful
examination of the ground about the little lawn. I wasted some time in
futile questionings, conveyed, as well as I was able, to such of the
little people as came by. They all failed to understand my gestures;
some were simply stolid, some thought it was a jest and laughed at me.
I had the hardest task in the world to keep my hands off their pretty
laughing faces. It was a foolish impulse, but the devil begotten of
fear and blind anger was ill curbed and still eager to take advantage
of my perplexity. The turf gave better counsel. I found a groove ripped
in it, about midway between the pedestal of the sphinx and the marks of
my feet where, on arrival, I had struggled with the overturned machine.
There were other signs of removal about, with queer narrow footprints
like those I could imagine made by a sloth. This directed my closer
attention to the pedestal. It was, as I think I have said, of bronze.
It was not a mere block, but highly decorated with deep framed panels
on either side. I went and rapped at these. The pedestal was hollow.
Examining the panels with care I found them discontinuous with the
frames. There were no handles or keyholes, but possibly the panels, if
they were doors, as I supposed, opened from within. One thing was clear
enough to my mind. It took no very great mental effort to infer that my
Time Machine was inside that pedestal. But how it got there was a
different problem.

“I saw the heads of two orange-clad people coming through the bushes
and under some blossom-covered apple-trees towards me. I turned smiling
to them, and beckoned them to me. They came, and then, pointing to the
bronze pedestal, I tried to intimate my wish to open it. But at my
first gesture towards this they behaved very oddly. I don’t know how to
convey their expression to you. Suppose you were to use a grossly
improper gesture to a delicate-minded woman—it is how she would look.
They went off as if they had received the last possible insult. I tried
a sweet-looking little chap in white next, with exactly the same
result. Somehow, his manner made me feel ashamed of myself. But, as you
know, I wanted the Time Machine, and I tried him once more. As he
turned off, like the others, my temper got the better of me. In three
strides I was after him, had him by the loose part of his robe round
the neck, and began dragging him towards the sphinx. Then I saw the
horror and repugnance of his face, and all of a sudden I let him go.

“But I was not beaten yet. I banged with my fist at the bronze panels.
I thought I heard something stir inside—to be explicit, I thought I
heard a sound like a chuckle—but I must have been mistaken. Then I got
a big pebble from the river, and came and hammered till I had flattened
a coil in the decorations, and the verdigris came off in powdery
flakes. The delicate little people must have heard me hammering in
gusty outbreaks a mile away on either hand, but nothing came of it. I
saw a crowd of them upon the slopes, looking furtively at me. At last,
hot and tired, I sat down to watch the place. But I was too restless to
watch long; I am too Occidental for a long vigil. I could work at a
problem for years, but to wait inactive for twenty-four hours—that is
another matter.

“I got up after a time, and began walking aimlessly through the bushes
towards the hill again. ‘Patience,’ said I to myself. ‘If you want your
machine again you must leave that sphinx alone. If they mean to take
your machine away, it’s little good your wrecking their bronze panels,
and if they don’t, you will get it back as soon as you can ask for it.
To sit among all those unknown things before a puzzle like that is
hopeless. That way lies monomania. Face this world. Learn its ways,
watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end
you will find clues to it all.’ Then suddenly the humour of the
situation came into my mind: the thought of the years I had spent in
study and toil to get into the future age, and now my passion of
anxiety to get out of it. I had made myself the most complicated and
the most hopeless trap that ever a man devised. Although it was at my
own expense, I could not help myself. I laughed aloud.

“Going through the big palace, it seemed to me that the little people
avoided me. It may have been my fancy, or it may have had something to
do with my hammering at the gates of bronze. Yet I felt tolerably sure
of the avoidance. I was careful, however, to show no concern and to
abstain from any pursuit of them, and in the course of a day or two
things got back to the old footing. I made what progress I could in the
language, and in addition I pushed my explorations here and there.
Either I missed some subtle point or their language was excessively
simple—almost exclusively composed of concrete substantives and verbs.
There seemed to be few, if any, abstract terms, or little use of
figurative language. Their sentences were usually simple and of two
words, and I failed to convey or understand any but the simplest
propositions. I determined to put the thought of my Time Machine and
the mystery of the bronze doors under the sphinx, as much as possible
in a corner of memory, until my growing knowledge would lead me back to
them in a natural way. Yet a certain feeling, you may understand,
tethered me in a circle of a few miles round the point of my arrival.



“So far as I could see, all the world displayed the same exuberant
richness as the Thames valley. From every hill I climbed I saw the same
abundance of splendid buildings, endlessly varied in material and
style, the same clustering thickets of evergreens, the same
blossom-laden trees and tree ferns. Here and there water shone like
silver, and beyond, the land rose into blue undulating hills, and so
faded into the serenity of the sky. A peculiar feature, which presently
attracted my attention, was the presence of certain circular wells,
several, as it seemed to me, of a very great depth. One lay by the path
up the hill which I had followed during my first walk. Like the others,
it was rimmed with bronze, curiously wrought, and protected by a little
cupola from the rain. Sitting by the side of these wells, and peering
down into the shafted darkness, I could see no gleam of water, nor
could I start any reflection with a lighted match. But in all of them I
heard a certain sound: a thud—thud—thud, like the beating of some big
engine; and I discovered, from the flaring of my matches, that a steady
current of air set down the shafts. Further, I threw a scrap of paper
into the throat of one, and, instead of fluttering slowly down, it was
at once sucked swiftly out of sight.

“After a time, too, I came to connect these wells with tall towers
standing here and there upon the slopes; for above them there was often
just such a flicker in the air as one sees on a hot day above a
sun-scorched beach. Putting things together, I reached a strong
suggestion of an extensive system of subterranean ventilation, whose
true import it was difficult to imagine. I was at first inclined to
associate it with the sanitary apparatus of these people. It was an
obvious conclusion, but it was absolutely wrong.

“And here I must admit that I learnt very little of drains and bells
and modes of conveyance, and the like conveniences, during my time in
this real future. In some of these visions of Utopias and coming times
which I have read, there is a vast amount of detail about building, and
social arrangements, and so forth. But while such details are easy
enough to obtain when the whole world is contained in one’s
imagination, they are altogether inaccessible to a real traveller amid
such realities as I found here. Conceive the tale of London which a
negro, fresh from Central Africa, would take back to his tribe! What
would he know of railway companies, of social movements, of telephone
and telegraph wires, of the Parcels Delivery Company, and postal orders
and the like? Yet we, at least, should be willing enough to explain
these things to him! And even of what he knew, how much could he make
his untravelled friend either apprehend or believe? Then, think how
narrow the gap between a negro and a white man of our own times, and
how wide the interval between myself and these of the Golden Age! I was
sensible of much which was unseen, and which contributed to my comfort;
but save for a general impression of automatic organisation, I fear I
can convey very little of the difference to your mind.

“In the matter of sepulture, for instance, I could see no signs of
crematoria nor anything suggestive of tombs. But it occurred to me
that, possibly, there might be cemeteries (or crematoria) somewhere
beyond the range of my explorings. This, again, was a question I
deliberately put to myself, and my curiosity was at first entirely
defeated upon the point. The thing puzzled me, and I was led to make a
further remark, which puzzled me still more: that aged and infirm among
this people there were none.

“I must confess that my satisfaction with my first theories of an
automatic civilisation and a decadent humanity did not long endure. Yet
I could think of no other. Let me put my difficulties. The several big
palaces I had explored were mere living places, great dining-halls and
sleeping apartments. I could find no machinery, no appliances of any
kind. Yet these people were clothed in pleasant fabrics that must at
times need renewal, and their sandals, though undecorated, were fairly
complex specimens of metalwork. Somehow such things must be made. And
the little people displayed no vestige of a creative tendency. There
were no shops, no workshops, no sign of importations among them. They
spent all their time in playing gently, in bathing in the river, in
making love in a half-playful fashion, in eating fruit and sleeping. I
could not see how things were kept going.

“Then, again, about the Time Machine: something, I knew not what, had
taken it into the hollow pedestal of the White Sphinx. _Why?_ For the
life of me I could not imagine. Those waterless wells, too, those
flickering pillars. I felt I lacked a clue. I felt—how shall I put it?
Suppose you found an inscription, with sentences here and there in
excellent plain English, and interpolated therewith, others made up of
words, of letters even, absolutely unknown to you? Well, on the third
day of my visit, that was how the world of Eight Hundred and Two
Thousand Seven Hundred and One presented itself to me!

“That day, too, I made a friend—of a sort. It happened that, as I was
watching some of the little people bathing in a shallow, one of them
was seized with cramp and began drifting downstream. The main current
ran rather swiftly, but not too strongly for even a moderate swimmer.
It will give you an idea, therefore, of the strange deficiency in these
creatures, when I tell you that none made the slightest attempt to
rescue the weakly crying little thing which was drowning before their
eyes. When I realised this, I hurriedly slipped off my clothes, and,
wading in at a point lower down, I caught the poor mite and drew her
safe to land. A little rubbing of the limbs soon brought her round, and
I had the satisfaction of seeing she was all right before I left her. I
had got to such a low estimate of her kind that I did not expect any
gratitude from her. In that, however, I was wrong.

“This happened in the morning. In the afternoon I met my little woman,
as I believe it was, as I was returning towards my centre from an
exploration, and she received me with cries of delight and presented me
with a big garland of flowers—evidently made for me and me alone. The
thing took my imagination. Very possibly I had been feeling desolate.
At any rate I did my best to display my appreciation of the gift. We
were soon seated together in a little stone arbour, engaged in
conversation, chiefly of smiles. The creature’s friendliness affected
me exactly as a child’s might have done. We passed each other flowers,
and she kissed my hands. I did the same to hers. Then I tried talk, and
found that her name was Weena, which, though I don’t know what it
meant, somehow seemed appropriate enough. That was the beginning of a
queer friendship which lasted a week, and ended—as I will tell you!

“She was exactly like a child. She wanted to be with me always. She
tried to follow me everywhere, and on my next journey out and about it
went to my heart to tire her down, and leave her at last, exhausted and
calling after me rather plaintively. But the problems of the world had
to be mastered. I had not, I said to myself, come into the future to
carry on a miniature flirtation. Yet her distress when I left her was
very great, her expostulations at the parting were sometimes frantic,
and I think, altogether, I had as much trouble as comfort from her
devotion. Nevertheless she was, somehow, a very great comfort. I
thought it was mere childish affection that made her cling to me. Until
it was too late, I did not clearly know what I had inflicted upon her
when I left her. Nor until it was too late did I clearly understand
what she was to me. For, by merely seeming fond of me, and showing in
her weak, futile way that she cared for me, the little doll of a
creature presently gave my return to the neighbourhood of the White
Sphinx almost the feeling of coming home; and I would watch for her
tiny figure of white and gold so soon as I came over the hill.

“It was from her, too, that I learnt that fear had not yet left the
world. She was fearless enough in the daylight, and she had the oddest
confidence in me; for once, in a foolish moment, I made threatening
grimaces at her, and she simply laughed at them. But she dreaded the
dark, dreaded shadows, dreaded black things. Darkness to her was the
one thing dreadful. It was a singularly passionate emotion, and it set
me thinking and observing. I discovered then, among other things, that
these little people gathered into the great houses after dark, and
slept in droves. To enter upon them without a light was to put them
into a tumult of apprehension. I never found one out of doors, or one
sleeping alone within doors, after dark. Yet I was still such a
blockhead that I missed the lesson of that fear, and in spite of
Weena’s distress, I insisted upon sleeping away from these slumbering

“It troubled her greatly, but in the end her odd affection for me
triumphed, and for five of the nights of our acquaintance, including
the last night of all, she slept with her head pillowed on my arm. But
my story slips away from me as I speak of her. It must have been the
night before her rescue that I was awakened about dawn. I had been
restless, dreaming most disagreeably that I was drowned, and that sea
anemones were feeling over my face with their soft palps. I woke with a
start, and with an odd fancy that some greyish animal had just rushed
out of the chamber. I tried to get to sleep again, but I felt restless
and uncomfortable. It was that dim grey hour when things are just
creeping out of darkness, when everything is colourless and clear cut,
and yet unreal. I got up, and went down into the great hall, and so out
upon the flagstones in front of the palace. I thought I would make a
virtue of necessity, and see the sunrise.

“The moon was setting, and the dying moonlight and the first pallor of
dawn were mingled in a ghastly half-light. The bushes were inky black,
the ground a sombre grey, the sky colourless and cheerless. And up the
hill I thought I could see ghosts. Three several times, as I scanned
the slope, I saw white figures. Twice I fancied I saw a solitary white,
ape-like creature running rather quickly up the hill, and once near the
ruins I saw a leash of them carrying some dark body. They moved
hastily. I did not see what became of them. It seemed that they
vanished among the bushes. The dawn was still indistinct, you must
understand. I was feeling that chill, uncertain, early-morning feeling
you may have known. I doubted my eyes.

“As the eastern sky grew brighter, and the light of the day came on and
its vivid colouring returned upon the world once more, I scanned the
view keenly. But I saw no vestige of my white figures. They were mere
creatures of the half-light. ‘They must have been ghosts,’ I said; ‘I
wonder whence they dated.’ For a queer notion of Grant Allen’s came
into my head, and amused me. If each generation die and leave ghosts,
he argued, the world at last will get overcrowded with them. On that
theory they would have grown innumerable some Eight Hundred Thousand
Years hence, and it was no great wonder to see four at once. But the
jest was unsatisfying, and I was thinking of these figures all the
morning, until Weena’s rescue drove them out of my head. I associated
them in some indefinite way with the white animal I had startled in my
first passionate search for the Time Machine. But Weena was a pleasant
substitute. Yet all the same, they were soon destined to take far
deadlier possession of my mind.

“I think I have said how much hotter than our own was the weather of
this Golden Age. I cannot account for it. It may be that the sun was
hotter, or the earth nearer the sun. It is usual to assume that the sun
will go on cooling steadily in the future. But people, unfamiliar with
such speculations as those of the younger Darwin, forget that the
planets must ultimately fall back one by one into the parent body. As
these catastrophes occur, the sun will blaze with renewed energy; and
it may be that some inner planet had suffered this fate. Whatever the
reason, the fact remains that the sun was very much hotter than we know

“Well, one very hot morning—my fourth, I think—as I was seeking shelter
from the heat and glare in a colossal ruin near the great house where I
slept and fed, there happened this strange thing. Clambering among
these heaps of masonry, I found a narrow gallery, whose end and side
windows were blocked by fallen masses of stone. By contrast with the
brilliancy outside, it seemed at first impenetrably dark to me. I
entered it groping, for the change from light to blackness made spots
of colour swim before me. Suddenly I halted spellbound. A pair of eyes,
luminous by reflection against the daylight without, was watching me
out of the darkness.

“The old instinctive dread of wild beasts came upon me. I clenched my
hands and steadfastly looked into the glaring eyeballs. I was afraid to
turn. Then the thought of the absolute security in which humanity
appeared to be living came to my mind. And then I remembered that
strange terror of the dark. Overcoming my fear to some extent, I
advanced a step and spoke. I will admit that my voice was harsh and
ill-controlled. I put out my hand and touched something soft. At once
the eyes darted sideways, and something white ran past me. I turned
with my heart in my mouth, and saw a queer little ape-like figure, its
head held down in a peculiar manner, running across the sunlit space
behind me. It blundered against a block of granite, staggered aside,
and in a moment was hidden in a black shadow beneath another pile of
ruined masonry.

“My impression of it is, of course, imperfect; but I know it was a dull
white, and had strange large greyish-red eyes; also that there was
flaxen hair on its head and down its back. But, as I say, it went too
fast for me to see distinctly. I cannot even say whether it ran on all
fours, or only with its forearms held very low. After an instant’s
pause I followed it into the second heap of ruins. I could not find it
at first; but, after a time in the profound obscurity, I came upon one
of those round well-like openings of which I have told you, half closed
by a fallen pillar. A sudden thought came to me. Could this Thing have
vanished down the shaft? I lit a match, and, looking down, I saw a
small, white, moving creature, with large bright eyes which regarded me
steadfastly as it retreated. It made me shudder. It was so like a human
spider! It was clambering down the wall, and now I saw for the first
time a number of metal foot and hand rests forming a kind of ladder
down the shaft. Then the light burned my fingers and fell out of my
hand, going out as it dropped, and when I had lit another the little
monster had disappeared.

“I do not know how long I sat peering down that well. It was not for
some time that I could succeed in persuading myself that the thing I
had seen was human. But, gradually, the truth dawned on me: that Man
had not remained one species, but had differentiated into two distinct
animals: that my graceful children of the Upper World were not the sole
descendants of our generation, but that this bleached, obscene,
nocturnal Thing, which had flashed before me, was also heir to all the

“I thought of the flickering pillars and of my theory of an underground
ventilation. I began to suspect their true import. And what, I
wondered, was this Lemur doing in my scheme of a perfectly balanced
organisation? How was it related to the indolent serenity of the
beautiful Overworlders? And what was hidden down there, at the foot of
that shaft? I sat upon the edge of the well telling myself that, at any
rate, there was nothing to fear, and that there I must descend for the
solution of my difficulties. And withal I was absolutely afraid to go!
As I hesitated, two of the beautiful upperworld people came running in
their amorous sport across the daylight in the shadow. The male pursued
the female, flinging flowers at her as he ran.

“They seemed distressed to find me, my arm against the overturned
pillar, peering down the well. Apparently it was considered bad form to
remark these apertures; for when I pointed to this one, and tried to
frame a question about it in their tongue, they were still more visibly
distressed and turned away. But they were interested by my matches, and
I struck some to amuse them. I tried them again about the well, and
again I failed. So presently I left them, meaning to go back to Weena,
and see what I could get from her. But my mind was already in
revolution; my guesses and impressions were slipping and sliding to a
new adjustment. I had now a clue to the import of these wells, to the
ventilating towers, to the mystery of the ghosts; to say nothing of a
hint at the meaning of the bronze gates and the fate of the Time
Machine! And very vaguely there came a suggestion towards the solution
of the economic problem that had puzzled me.

“Here was the new view. Plainly, this second species of Man was
subterranean. There were three circumstances in particular which made
me think that its rare emergence above ground was the outcome of a
long-continued underground habit. In the first place, there was the
bleached look common in most animals that live largely in the dark—the
white fish of the Kentucky caves, for instance. Then, those large eyes,
with that capacity for reflecting light, are common features of
nocturnal things—witness the owl and the cat. And last of all, that
evident confusion in the sunshine, that hasty yet fumbling awkward
flight towards dark shadow, and that peculiar carriage of the head
while in the light—all reinforced the theory of an extreme
sensitiveness of the retina.

“Beneath my feet, then, the earth must be tunnelled enormously, and
these tunnellings were the habitat of the New Race. The presence of
ventilating shafts and wells along the hill slopes—everywhere, in fact,
except along the river valley—showed how universal were its
ramifications. What so natural, then, as to assume that it was in this
artificial Underworld that such work as was necessary to the comfort of
the daylight race was done? The notion was so plausible that I at once
accepted it, and went on to assume the _how_ of this splitting of the
human species. I dare say you will anticipate the shape of my theory;
though, for myself, I very soon felt that it fell far short of the

“At first, proceeding from the problems of our own age, it seemed clear
as daylight to me that the gradual widening of the present merely
temporary and social difference between the Capitalist and the Labourer
was the key to the whole position. No doubt it will seem grotesque
enough to you—and wildly incredible!—and yet even now there are
existing circumstances to point that way. There is a tendency to
utilise underground space for the less ornamental purposes of
civilisation; there is the Metropolitan Railway in London, for
instance, there are new electric railways, there are subways, there are
underground workrooms and restaurants, and they increase and multiply.
Evidently, I thought, this tendency had increased till Industry had
gradually lost its birthright in the sky. I mean that it had gone
deeper and deeper into larger and ever larger underground factories,
spending a still-increasing amount of its time therein, till, in the
end—! Even now, does not an East-end worker live in such artificial
conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the

“Again, the exclusive tendency of richer people—due, no doubt, to the
increasing refinement of their education, and the widening gulf between
them and the rude violence of the poor—is already leading to the
closing, in their interest, of considerable portions of the surface of
the land. About London, for instance, perhaps half the prettier country
is shut in against intrusion. And this same widening gulf—which is due
to the length and expense of the higher educational process and the
increased facilities for and temptations towards refined habits on the
part of the rich—will make that exchange between class and class, that
promotion by intermarriage which at present retards the splitting of
our species along lines of social stratification, less and less
frequent. So, in the end, above ground you must have the Haves,
pursuing pleasure and comfort and beauty, and below ground the
Have-nots, the Workers getting continually adapted to the conditions of
their labour. Once they were there, they would no doubt have to pay
rent, and not a little of it, for the ventilation of their caverns; and
if they refused, they would starve or be suffocated for arrears. Such
of them as were so constituted as to be miserable and rebellious would
die; and, in the end, the balance being permanent, the survivors would
become as well adapted to the conditions of underground life, and as
happy in their way, as the Overworld people were to theirs. As it
seemed to me, the refined beauty and the etiolated pallor followed
naturally enough.

“The great triumph of Humanity I had dreamed of took a different shape
in my mind. It had been no such triumph of moral education and general
co-operation as I had imagined. Instead, I saw a real aristocracy,
armed with a perfected science and working to a logical conclusion the
industrial system of today. Its triumph had not been simply a triumph
over Nature, but a triumph over Nature and the fellow-man. This, I must
warn you, was my theory at the time. I had no convenient cicerone in
the pattern of the Utopian books. My explanation may be absolutely
wrong. I still think it is the most plausible one. But even on this
supposition the balanced civilisation that was at last attained must
have long since passed its zenith, and was now far fallen into decay.
The too-perfect security of the Overworlders had led them to a slow
movement of degeneration, to a general dwindling in size, strength, and
intelligence. That I could see clearly enough already. What had
happened to the Undergrounders I did not yet suspect; but, from what I
had seen of the Morlocks—that, by the bye, was the name by which these
creatures were called—I could imagine that the modification of the
human type was even far more profound than among the ‘Eloi,’ the
beautiful race that I already knew.

“Then came troublesome doubts. Why had the Morlocks taken my Time
Machine? For I felt sure it was they who had taken it. Why, too, if the
Eloi were masters, could they not restore the machine to me? And why
were they so terribly afraid of the dark? I proceeded, as I have said,
to question Weena about this Underworld, but here again I was
disappointed. At first she would not understand my questions, and
presently she refused to answer them. She shivered as though the topic
was unendurable. And when I pressed her, perhaps a little harshly, she
burst into tears. They were the only tears, except my own, I ever saw
in that Golden Age. When I saw them I ceased abruptly to trouble about
the Morlocks, and was only concerned in banishing these signs of her
human inheritance from Weena’s eyes. And very soon she was smiling and
clapping her hands, while I solemnly burnt a match.


The Morlocks

“It may seem odd to you, but it was two days before I could follow up
the new-found clue in what was manifestly the proper way. I felt a
peculiar shrinking from those pallid bodies. They were just the
half-bleached colour of the worms and things one sees preserved in
spirit in a zoological museum. And they were filthily cold to the
touch. Probably my shrinking was largely due to the sympathetic
influence of the Eloi, whose disgust of the Morlocks I now began to

“The next night I did not sleep well. Probably my health was a little
disordered. I was oppressed with perplexity and doubt. Once or twice I
had a feeling of intense fear for which I could perceive no definite
reason. I remember creeping noiselessly into the great hall where the
little people were sleeping in the moonlight—that night Weena was among
them—and feeling reassured by their presence. It occurred to me even
then, that in the course of a few days the moon must pass through its
last quarter, and the nights grow dark, when the appearances of these
unpleasant creatures from below, these whitened Lemurs, this new vermin
that had replaced the old, might be more abundant. And on both these
days I had the restless feeling of one who shirks an inevitable duty. I
felt assured that the Time Machine was only to be recovered by boldly
penetrating these mysteries of underground. Yet I could not face the
mystery. If only I had had a companion it would have been different.
But I was so horribly alone, and even to clamber down into the darkness
of the well appalled me. I don’t know if you will understand my
feeling, but I never felt quite safe at my back.

“It was this restlessness, this insecurity, perhaps, that drove me
farther and farther afield in my exploring expeditions. Going to the
south-westward towards the rising country that is now called Combe
Wood, I observed far-off, in the direction of nineteenth-century
Banstead, a vast green structure, different in character from any I had
hitherto seen. It was larger than the largest of the palaces or ruins I
knew, and the façade had an Oriental look: the face of it having the
lustre, as well as the pale-green tint, a kind of bluish-green, of a
certain type of Chinese porcelain. This difference in aspect suggested
a difference in use, and I was minded to push on and explore. But the
day was growing late, and I had come upon the sight of the place after
a long and tiring circuit; so I resolved to hold over the adventure for
the following day, and I returned to the welcome and the caresses of
little Weena. But next morning I perceived clearly enough that my
curiosity regarding the Palace of Green Porcelain was a piece of
self-deception, to enable me to shirk, by another day, an experience I
dreaded. I resolved I would make the descent without further waste of
time, and started out in the early morning towards a well near the
ruins of granite and aluminium.

“Little Weena ran with me. She danced beside me to the well, but when
she saw me lean over the mouth and look downward, she seemed strangely
disconcerted. ‘Good-bye, little Weena,’ I said, kissing her; and then
putting her down, I began to feel over the parapet for the climbing
hooks. Rather hastily, I may as well confess, for I feared my courage
might leak away! At first she watched me in amazement. Then she gave a
most piteous cry, and running to me, she began to pull at me with her
little hands. I think her opposition nerved me rather to proceed. I
shook her off, perhaps a little roughly, and in another moment I was in
the throat of the well. I saw her agonised face over the parapet, and
smiled to reassure her. Then I had to look down at the unstable hooks
to which I clung.

“I had to clamber down a shaft of perhaps two hundred yards. The
descent was effected by means of metallic bars projecting from the
sides of the well, and these being adapted to the needs of a creature
much smaller and lighter than myself, I was speedily cramped and
fatigued by the descent. And not simply fatigued! One of the bars bent
suddenly under my weight, and almost swung me off into the blackness
beneath. For a moment I hung by one hand, and after that experience I
did not dare to rest again. Though my arms and back were presently
acutely painful, I went on clambering down the sheer descent with as
quick a motion as possible. Glancing upward, I saw the aperture, a
small blue disc, in which a star was visible, while little Weena’s head
showed as a round black projection. The thudding sound of a machine
below grew louder and more oppressive. Everything save that little disc
above was profoundly dark, and when I looked up again Weena had

“I was in an agony of discomfort. I had some thought of trying to go up
the shaft again, and leave the Underworld alone. But even while I
turned this over in my mind I continued to descend. At last, with
intense relief, I saw dimly coming up, a foot to the right of me, a
slender loophole in the wall. Swinging myself in, I found it was the
aperture of a narrow horizontal tunnel in which I could lie down and
rest. It was not too soon. My arms ached, my back was cramped, and I
was trembling with the prolonged terror of a fall. Besides this, the
unbroken darkness had had a distressing effect upon my eyes. The air
was full of the throb and hum of machinery pumping air down the shaft.

“I do not know how long I lay. I was arroused by a soft hand touching
my face. Starting up in the darkness I snatched at my matches and,
hastily striking one, I saw three stooping white creatures similar to
the one I had seen above ground in the ruin, hastily retreating before
the light. Living, as they did, in what appeared to me impenetrable
darkness, their eyes were abnormally large and sensitive, just as are
the pupils of the abysmal fishes, and they reflected the light in the
same way. I have no doubt they could see me in that rayless obscurity,
and they did not seem to have any fear of me apart from the light. But,
so soon as I struck a match in order to see them, they fled
incontinently, vanishing into dark gutters and tunnels, from which
their eyes glared at me in the strangest fashion.

“I tried to call to them, but the language they had was apparently
different from that of the Overworld people; so that I was needs left
to my own unaided efforts, and the thought of flight before exploration
was even then in my mind. But I said to myself, ‘You are in for it
now,’ and, feeling my way along the tunnel, I found the noise of
machinery grow louder. Presently the walls fell away from me, and I
came to a large open space, and striking another match, saw that I had
entered a vast arched cavern, which stretched into utter darkness
beyond the range of my light. The view I had of it was as much as one
could see in the burning of a match.

“Necessarily my memory is vague. Great shapes like big machines rose
out of the dimness, and cast grotesque black shadows, in which dim
spectral Morlocks sheltered from the glare. The place, by the bye, 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 burnt 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 economise them, and I had wasted
almost half the box in astonishing the Overworlders, 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 realisation 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 burnt 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 well-nigh secured my boot as a

“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.


When Night Came

“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 Upperworld 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 Upperworld
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 Carlovignan 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 Underworld. 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 realising 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 vases for floral
decoration. At least she utilised 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
hillside 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 organisations, 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


The Palace of Green Porcelain

“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 learnt 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 recognised 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 Palæontological 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

“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 Palæontology; 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 old-time 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 saltpetre; 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 patient
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
recognised 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
moralised 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 fossilised millions of years ago. I was about to throw it
away, but I remembered that it was inflammable and burnt 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, Phœnician, 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.


In the Darkness

“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, also, 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 hillside, 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

“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 lit 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 behind 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 Underworld. 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 realisation. In
manœuvring 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 economise 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 recognised, 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 hillside
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 realise 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

“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.


The Trap of the White Sphinx

“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
Underworld. I understood now what all the beauty of the Overworld
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 Upperworld man had drifted towards his feeble
prettiness, and the Underworld 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 an Underworld, 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 Underworld 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
theorising 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

“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

“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

“But at last the lever was fixed 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.


The Further Vision

“I have already told you of the sickness and confusion that comes with
time travelling. And this time I was not seated properly in the saddle,
but sideways and in an unstable fashion. For an indefinite time I clung
to the machine as it swayed and vibrated, quite unheeding how I went,
and when I brought myself to look at the dials again I was amazed to
find where I had arrived. One dial records days, and another thousands
of days, another millions of days, and another thousands of millions.
Now, instead of reversing the levers, I had pulled them over so as to
go forward with them, and when I came to look at these indicators I
found that the thousands hand was sweeping round as fast as the seconds
hand of a watch—into futurity.

“As I drove on, a peculiar change crept over the appearance of things.
The palpitating greyness grew darker; then—though I was still
travelling with prodigious velocity—the blinking succession of day and
night, which was usually indicative of a slower pace, returned, and
grew more and more marked. This puzzled me very much at first. The
alternations of night and day grew slower and slower, and so did the
passage of the sun across the sky, until they seemed to stretch through
centuries. At last a steady twilight brooded over the earth, a twilight
only broken now and then when a comet glared across the darkling sky.
The band of light that had indicated the sun had long since
disappeared; for the sun had ceased to set—it simply rose and fell in
the west, and grew ever broader and more red. All trace of the moon had
vanished. The circling of the stars, growing slower and slower, had
given place to creeping points of light. At last, some time before I
stopped, the sun, red and very large, halted motionless upon the
horizon, a vast dome glowing with a dull heat, and now and then
suffering a momentary extinction. At one time it had for a little while
glowed more brilliantly again, but it speedily reverted to its sullen
red heat. I perceived by this slowing down of its rising and setting
that the work of the tidal drag was done. The earth had come to rest
with one face to the sun, even as in our own time the moon faces the
earth. Very cautiously, for I remembered my former headlong fall, I
began to reverse my motion. Slower and slower went the circling hands
until the thousands one seemed motionless and the daily one was no
longer a mere mist upon its scale. Still slower, until the dim outlines
of a desolate beach grew visible.

“I stopped very gently and sat upon the Time Machine, looking round.
The sky was no longer blue. North-eastward it was inky black, and out
of the blackness shone brightly and steadily the pale white stars.
Overhead it was a deep Indian red and starless, and south-eastward it
grew brighter to a glowing scarlet where, cut by the horizon, lay the
huge hull of the sun, red and motionless. The rocks about me were of a
harsh reddish colour, and all the trace of life that I could see at
first was the intensely green vegetation that covered every projecting
point on their south-eastern face. It was the same rich green that one
sees on forest moss or on the lichen in caves: plants which like these
grow in a perpetual twilight.

“The machine was standing on a sloping beach. The sea stretched away to
the south-west, to rise into a sharp bright horizon against the wan
sky. There were no breakers and no waves, for not a breath of wind was
stirring. Only a slight oily swell rose and fell like a gentle
breathing, and showed that the eternal sea was still moving and living.
And along the margin where the water sometimes broke was a thick
incrustation of salt—pink under the lurid sky. There was a sense of
oppression in my head, and I noticed that I was breathing very fast.
The sensation reminded me of my only experience of mountaineering, and
from that I judged the air to be more rarefied than it is now.

“Far away up the desolate slope I heard a harsh scream, and saw a thing
like a huge white butterfly go slanting and fluttering up into the sky
and, circling, disappear over some low hillocks beyond. The sound of
its voice was so dismal that I shivered and seated myself more firmly
upon the machine. Looking round me again, I saw that, quite near, what
I had taken to be a reddish mass of rock was moving slowly towards me.
Then I saw the thing was really a monstrous crab-like creature. Can you
imagine a crab as large as yonder table, with its many legs moving
slowly and uncertainly, its big claws swaying, its long antennæ, 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
farther 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 realised 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


The Time Traveller’s Return

“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 recognise our own pretty 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

“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

“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 shakily, 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 dream.

“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 today, 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.


After the Story

“I know,” he said, after a pause, “that all this will be absolutely
incredible to you, but to me the one incredible thing is that I am here
tonight 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 motionless.

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 Traveller’s

“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
gynæceum’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

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

“But is it not some hoax?” I said. “Do you really travel through time?”

“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, specimens 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 blown in.

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

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 returned.



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 seas 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 civilisation
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 he

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