The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was
expounding a recondite matter to us. His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and
his usually pale face was flushed and animated. The fire burned 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 roams 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
`There I object,' said Filby. `Of course a solid body may exist. All
`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
`_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-Dimension 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
thee 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
`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
recognized? 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 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
`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 movement. 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
`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 civilized 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
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 conjurer he had seen at Burslem; but before
he had finished his preface the Time Traveller came back, and Filby's
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 quack.'
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?'
`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,' I said, `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,
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 to-night,' said the Medical Man; 'but
wait until to-morrow. 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
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.
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 frame 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
egg-shell 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 Linnaean. He
said he had seen a similar thing at Tubingen, 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 dinner?'
`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
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 any one else had noticed his
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 To-morrow 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
`One word,' said I. `Have you been time travelling?'
`Yes,' said the Time Traveller, with his mouth full, nodding his
`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 apologize,' 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 to-night. 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
`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 to-day 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
`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 to-morrow. The
laboratory grew faint and hazy, then fainter and ever fainter. To-morrow
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 color 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 hill-side 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
`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 civilization, 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
hill-side, 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 stopping,
`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 riskone 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 nerve. 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
hail-stones. The rebounding, dancing hail hung in a 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 slain.
`Already I saw other vast shapes-huge buildings with intricate
parapets and tall columns, with a wooded hill-side 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
`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 nine-pins. 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 thunder.
`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 childrenasked
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 Phoenician decorations as I passed through, and it struck me that they
were very badly broken and weatherworn. 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-colored robes
and shining white limbs, in a melodious whirl of laughter and laughing
`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 recognized 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,
`Fruit, by the by, 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 import.
`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 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.
`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 realized 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 opinion.
`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 off-spring are
secure, there is less necessity-indeed there is no necessity-for an
efficient family, and the specialization 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 recognize,
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 realize 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
civilizing 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 to-day 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 organized, 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 me 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
leaped. 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 civilized 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 worldmastered 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!
`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 world.
`When I reached the lawn my worst fears were realized. 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
laterprevented any one from tampering with it in that way when they were
removed. It had moved, and was hid, only in space. But then, where could
`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 forgotten.
`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 moon-lit ruins and touching strange creatures in the black
shadows; at last, of lying on the ground near the sphinx and weeping with
absolute wretchedness. 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
behooves 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, 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
`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
`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
`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 learned 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 organization, I fear I can convey very little of the difference
to your mind.
`In the matter of sepulchre, 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
`I must confess that my satisfaction with my first theories of an
automatic civilization 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 realized
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
`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 flowersevidently 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 learned 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 multitudes.
`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. There 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
`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
`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 it.
`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
`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 ages.
`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
organization? How was it related to the indolent serenity of the beautiful
Upper-worlders? 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 Upper-world 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
`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
thingswitness 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 truth.
`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 utilize
underground space for the less ornamental purposes of civilization; 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 earth?
`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 pooris 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 Upper-world 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 to-day. 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 civilization 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 Upper-worlders 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
Under-grounders I did not yet suspect; but from what I had seen of the
Morlocks-that, by the by, 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
`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 Under-world, 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 the human inheritance from Weena's
eyes. And very soon she was smiling and clapping her hands, while I
solemnly burned a match.
`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 appreciate.
`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 underground
mysteries. 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
further and further 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 facade
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 agonized 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 disk, 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 disk above was profoundly dark, and when I
looked up again Weena had disappeared.
`I was in an agony of discomfort. I had some thought of trying to go
up the shaft again, and leave the Under-world 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 roused 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
`I tried to call to them, but the language they had was apparently
different from that of the Over-world 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
`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 by, was very
stuffy and oppressive, and the faint halitus of freshly shed blood was in
the air. Some way down the central vista was a little table of white
metal, laid with what seemed a meal. The Morlocks at any rate were
carnivorous! Even at the time, I remember wondering what large animal
could have survived to furnish the red joint I saw. It was all very
indistinct: the heavy smell, the big unmeaning shapes, the obscene figures
lurking in the shadows, and only waiting for the darkness to come at me
again! Then the match burned down, and stung my fingers, and fell, a
wriggling red spot in the blackness.
`I have thought since how particularly ill-equipped I was for such an
experience. When I had started with the Time Machine, I had started with
the absurd assumption that the men of the Future would certainly be
infinitely ahead of ourselves in all their appliances. I had come without
arms, without medicine, without anything to smoke-at times I missed
tobacco frightfully-even without enough matches. If only I had thought of
a Kodak! I could have flashed that glimpse of the Underworld in a second,
and examined it at leisure. But, as it was, I stood there with only the
weapons and the powers that Nature had endowed me with-hands, feet, and
teeth; these, and four safety-matches that still remained to me.
`I was afraid to push my way in among all this machinery in the dark,
and it was only with my last glimpse of light I discovered that my store
of matches had run low. It had never occurred to me until that moment that
there was any need to economize them, and I had wasted almost half the box
in astonishing the Upper-worlders, to whom fire was a novelty. Now, as I
say, I had four left, and while I stood in the dark, a hand touched mine,
lank fingers came feeling over my face, and I was sensible of a peculiar
unpleasant odour. I fancied I heard the breathing of a crowd of those
dreadful little beings about me. I felt the box of matches in my hand
being gently disengaged, and other hands behind me plucking at my
clothing. The sense of these unseen creatures examining me was
indescribably unpleasant. The sudden realization of my ignorance of their
ways of thinking and doing came home to me very vividly in the darkness. I
shouted at them as loudly as I could. They started away, and then I could
feel them approaching me again. They clutched at me more boldly,
whispering odd sounds to each other. I shivered violently, and shouted
again rather discordantly. This time they were not so seriously alarmed,
and they made a queer laughing noise as they came back at me. I will
confess I was horribly frightened. I determined to strike another match
and escape under the protection of its glare. I did so, and eking out the
flicker with a scrap of paper from my pocket, I made good my retreat to
the narrow tunnel. But I had scarce entered this when my light was blown
out and in the blackness I could hear the Morlocks rustling like wind
among leaves, and pattering like the rain, as they hurried after me.
`In a moment I was clutched by several hands, and there was no
mistaking that they were trying to haul me back. I struck another light,
and waved it in their dazzled faces. You can scarce imagine how
nauseatingly inhuman they looked-those pale, chinless faces and great,
lidless, pinkish-grey eyes!-as they stared in their blindness and
bewilderment. But I did not stay to look, I promise you: I retreated
again, and when my second match had ended, I struck my third. It had
almost burned through when I reached the opening into the shaft. I lay
down on the edge, for the throb of the great pump below made me giddy.
Then I felt sideways for the projecting hooks, and, as I did so, my feet
were grasped from behind, and I was violently tugged backward. I lit my
last match... and it incontinently went out. But I had my hand on the
climbing bars now, and, kicking violently, I disengaged myself from the
clutches of the Morlocks and was speedily clambering up the shaft, while
they stayed peering and blinking up at me: all but one little wretch who
followed me for some way, and wellnigh secured my boot as a trophy.
`That climb seemed interminable to me. With the last twenty or thirty
feet of it a deadly nausea came upon me. I had the greatest difficulty in
keeping my hold. The last few yards was a frightful struggle against this
faintness. Several times my head swam, and I felt all the sensations of
falling. At last, however, I got over the well-mouth somehow, and
staggered out of the ruin into the blinding sunlight. I fell upon my face.
Even the soil smelt sweet and clean. Then I remember Weena kissing my
hands and ears, and the voices of others among the Eloi. Then, for a time,
I was insensible.
`Now, indeed, I seemed in a worse case than before. Hitherto, except
during my night's anguish at the loss of the Time Machine, I had felt a
sustaining hope of ultimate escape, but that hope was staggered by these
new discoveries. Hitherto I had merely thought myself impeded by the
childish simplicity of the little people, and by some unknown forces which
I had only to understand to overcome; but there was an altogether new
element in the sickening quality of the Morlocks-a something inhuman and
malign. Instinctively I loathed them. Before, I had felt as a man might
feel who had fallen into a pit: my concern was with the pit and how to get
out of it. Now I felt like a beast in a trap, whose enemy would come upon
`The enemy I dreaded may surprise you. It was the darkness of the new
moon. Weena had put this into my head by some at first incomprehensible
remarks about the Dark Nights. It was not now such a very difficult
problem to guess what the coming Dark Nights might mean. The moon was on
the wane: each night there was a longer interval of darkness. And I now
understood to some slight degree at least the reason of the fear of the
little Upper-world people for the dark. I wondered vaguely what foul
villainy it might be that the Morlocks did under the new moon. I felt
pretty sure now that my second hypothesis was all wrong. The Upper-world
people might once have been the favoured aristocracy, and the Morlocks
their mechanical servants: but that had long since passed away. The two
species that had resulted from the evolution of man were sliding down
towards, or had already arrived at, an altogether new relationship. The
Eloi, like the Carolingian kings, had decayed to a mere beautiful
futility. They still possessed the earth on sufferance: since the
Morlocks, subterranean for innumerable generations, had come at last to
find the daylit surface intolerable. And the Morlocks made their garments,
I inferred, and maintained them in their habitual needs, perhaps through
the survival of an old habit of service. They did it as a standing horse
paws with his foot, or as a man enjoys killing animals in sport: because
ancient and departed necessities had impressed it on the organism. But,
clearly, the old order was already in part reversed. The Nemesis of the
delicate ones was creeping on apace. Ages ago, thousands of generations
ago, man had thrust his brother man out of the ease and the sunshine. And
now that brother was coming back changed! Already the Eloi had begun to
learn one old lesson anew. They were becoming reacquainted with Fear. And
suddenly there came into my head the memory of the meat I had seen in the
Under-world. It seemed odd how it floated into my mind: not stirred up as
it were by the current of my meditations, but coming in almost like a
question from outside. I tried to recall the form of it. I had a vague
sense of something familiar, but I could not tell what it was at the time.
`Still, however helpless the little people in the presence of their
mysterious Fear, I was differently constituted. I came out of this age of
ours, this ripe prime of the human race, when Fear does not paralyse and
mystery has lost its terrors. I at least would defend myself. Without
further delay I determined to make myself arms and a fastness where I
might sleep. With that refuge as a base, I could face this strange world
with some of that confidence I had lost in realizing to what creatures
night by night I lay exposed. I felt I could never sleep again until my
bed was secure from them. I shuddered with horror to think how they must
already have examined me.
`I wandered during the afternoon along the valley of the Thames, but
found nothing that commended itself to my mind as inaccessible. All the
buildings and trees seemed easily practicable to such dexterous climbers
as the Morlocks, to judge by their wells, must be. Then the tall pinnacles
of the Palace of Green Porcelain and the polished gleam of its walls came
back to my memory; and in the evening, taking Weena like a child upon my
shoulder, I went up the hills towards the south-west. The distance, I had
reckoned, was seven or eight miles, but it must have been nearer eighteen.
I had first seen the place on a moist afternoon when distances are
deceptively diminished. In addition, the heel of one of my shoes was
loose, and a nail was working through the sole-they were comfortable old
shoes I wore about indoors-so that I was lame. And it was already long
past sunset when I came in sight of the palace, silhouetted black against
the pale yellow of the sky.
`Weena had been hugely delighted when I began to carry her, but after
a while she desired me to let her down, and ran along by the side of me,
occasionally darting off on either hand to pick flowers to stick in my
pockets. My pockets had always puzzled Weena, but at the last she had
concluded that they were an eccentric kind of vase for floral decoration.
At least she utilized them for that purpose. And that reminds me! In
changing my jacket I found...'
The Time Traveller paused, put his hand into his pocket, and silently
placed two withered flowers, not unlike very large white mallows, upon the
little table. Then he resumed his narrative.
`As the hush of evening crept over the world and we proceeded over
the hill crest towards Wimbledon, Weena grew tired and wanted to return to
the house of grey stone. But I pointed out the distant pinnacles of the
Palace of Green Porcelain to her, and contrived to make her understand
that we were seeking a refuge there from her Fear. You know that great
pause that comes upon things before the dusk? Even the breeze stops in the
trees. To me there is always an air of expectation about that evening
stillness. The sky was clear, remote, and empty save for a few horizontal
bars far down in the sunset. Well, that night the expectation took the
colour of my fears. In that darkling calm my senses seemed preternaturally
sharpened. I fancied I could even feel the hollowness of the ground
beneath my feet: could, indeed, almost see through it the Morlocks on
their ant-hill going hither and thither and waiting for the dark. In my
excitement I fancied that they would receive my invasion of their burrows
as a declaration of war. And why had they taken my Time Machine?
`So we went on in the quiet, and the twilight deepened into night.
The clear blue of the distance faded, and one star after another came out.
The ground grew dim and the trees black. Weena's fears and her fatigue
grew upon her. I took her in my arms and talked to her and caressed her.
Then, as the darkness grew deeper, she put her arms round my neck, and,
closing her eyes, tightly pressed her face against my shoulder. So we went
down a long slope into a valley, and there in the dimness I almost walked
into a little river. This I waded, and went up the opposite side of the
valley, past a number of sleeping houses, and by a statue-a Faun, or some
such figure, MINUS the head. Here too were acacias. So far I had seen
nothing of the Morlocks, but it was yet early in the night, and the darker
hours before the old moon rose were still to come.
`From the brow of the next hill I saw a thick wood spreading wide and
black before me. I hesitated at this. I could see no end to it, either to
the right or the left. Feeling tired-my feet, in particular, were very
sore-I carefully lowered Weena from my shoulder as I halted, and sat down
upon the turf. I could no longer see the Palace of Green Porcelain, and I
was in doubt of my direction. I looked into the thickness of the wood and
thought of what it might hide. Under that dense tangle of branches one
would be out of sight of the stars. Even were there no other lurking
danger-a danger I did not care to let my imagination loose upon-there
would still be all the roots to stumble over and the tree-boles to strike
`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
`Weena, I was glad to find, was fast asleep. I carefully wrapped her
in my jacket, and sat down beside her to wait for the moonrise. The
hill-side was quiet and deserted, but from the black of the wood there
came now and then a stir of living things. Above me shone the stars, for
the night was very clear. I felt a certain sense of friendly comfort in
their twinkling. All the old constellations had gone from the sky,
however: that slow movement which is imperceptible in a hundred human
lifetimes, had long since rearranged them in unfamiliar groupings. But the
Milky Way, it seemed to me, was still the same tattered streamer of
star-dust as of yore. Southward (as I judged it) was a very bright red
star that was new to me; it was even more splendid than our own green
Sirius. And amid all these scintillating points of light one bright planet
shone kindly and steadily like the face of an old friend.
`Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the
gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance,
and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past
into the unknown future. I thought of the great precessional cycle that
the pole of the earth describes. Only forty times had that silent
revolution occurred during all the years that I had traversed. And during
these few revolutions all the activity, all the traditions, the complex
organizations, the nations, languages, literatures, aspirations, even the
mere memory of Man as I knew him, had been swept out of existence. Instead
were these frail creatures who had forgotten their high ancestry, and the
white Things of which I went in terror. Then I thought of the Great Fear
that was between the two species, and for the first time, with a sudden
shiver, came the clear knowledge of what the meat I had seen might be. Yet
it was too horrible! I looked at little Weena sleeping beside me, her face
white and starlike under the stars, and forthwith dismissed the thought.
`Through that long night I held my mind off the Morlocks as well as I
could, and whiled away the time by trying to fancy I could find signs of
the old constellations in the new confusion. The sky kept very clear,
except for a hazy cloud or so. No doubt I dozed at times. Then, as my
vigil wore on, came a faintness in the eastward sky, like the reflection
of some colourless fire, and the old moon rose, thin and peaked and white.
And close behind, and overtaking it, and overflowing it, the dawn came,
pale at first, and then growing pink and warm. No Morlocks had approached
us. Indeed, I had seen none upon the hill that night. And in the
confidence of renewed day it almost seemed to me that my fear had been
unreasonable. I stood up and found my foot with the loose heel swollen at
the ankle and painful under the heel; so I sat down again, took off my
shoes, and flung them away.
`I awakened Weena, and we went down into the wood, now green and
pleasant instead of black and forbidding. We found some fruit wherewith to
break our fast. We soon met others of the dainty ones, laughing and
dancing in the sunlight as though there was no such thing in nature as the
night. And then I thought once more of the meat that I had seen. I felt
assured now of what it was, and from the bottom of my heart I pitied this
last feeble rill from the great flood of humanity. Clearly, at some time
in the Long-Ago of human decay the Morlocks' food had run short. Possibly
they had lived on rats and such-like vermin. Even now man is far less
discriminating and exclusive in his food than he was-far less than any
monkey. His prejudice against human flesh is no deep-seated instinct. And
so these inhuman sons of men-! I tried to look at the thing in a
scientific spirit. After all, they were less human and more remote than
our cannibal ancestors of three or four thousand years ago. And the
intelligence that would have made this state of things a torment had gone.
Why should I trouble myself? These Eloi were mere fatted cattle, which the
ant-like Morlocks preserved and preyed upon-probably saw to the breeding
of. And there was Weena dancing at my side!
`Then I tried to preserve myself from the horror that was coming upon
me, by regarding it as a rigorous punishment of human selfishness. Man had
been content to live in ease and delight upon the labours of his
fellow-man, had taken Necessity as his watchword and excuse, and in the
fullness of time Necessity had come home to him. I even tried a
Carlyle-like scorn of this wretched aristocracy in decay. But this
attitude of mind was impossible. However great their intellectual
degradation, the Eloi had kept too much of the human form not to claim my
sympathy, and to make me perforce a sharer in their degradation and their
`I had at that time very vague ideas as to the course I should
pursue. My first was to secure some safe place of refuge, and to make
myself such arms of metal or stone as I could contrive. That necessity was
immediate. In the next place, I hoped to procure some means of fire, so
that I should have the weapon of a torch at hand, for nothing, I knew,
would be more efficient against these Morlocks. Then I wanted to arrange
some contrivance to break open the doors of bronze under the White Sphinx.
I had in mind a battering ram. I had a persuasion that if I could enter
those doors and carry a blaze of light before me I should discover the
Time Machine and escape. I could not imagine the Morlocks were strong
enough to move it far away. Weena I had resolved to bring with me to our
own time. And turning such schemes over in my mind I pursued our way
towards the building which my fancy had chosen as our dwelling.
`I found the Palace of Green Porcelain, when we approached it about
noon, deserted and falling into ruin. Only ragged vestiges of glass
remained in its windows, and great sheets of the green facing had fallen
away from the corroded metallic framework. It lay very high upon a turfy
down, and looking north-eastward before I entered it, I was surprised to
see a large estuary, or even creek, where I judged Wandsworth and
Battersea must once have been. I thought then-though I never followed up
the thought-of what might have happened, or might be happening, to the
living things in the sea.
`The material of the Palace proved on examination to be indeed
porcelain, and along the face of it I saw an inscription in some unknown
character. I thought, rather foolishly, that Weena might help me to
interpret this, but I only learned that the bare idea of writing had never
entered her head. She always seemed to me, I fancy, more human than she
was, perhaps because her affection was so human.
`Within the big valves of the door-which were open and broken-we
found, instead of the customary hall, a long gallery lit by many side
windows. At the first glance I was reminded of a museum. The tiled floor
was thick with dust, and a remarkable array of miscellaneous objects was
shrouded in the same grey covering. Then I perceived, standing strange and
gaunt in the centre of the hall, what was clearly the lower part of a huge
skeleton. I recognized by the oblique feet that it was some extinct
creature after the fashion of the Megatherium. The skull and the upper
bones lay beside it in the thick dust, and in one place, where rain-water
had dropped through a leak in the roof, the thing itself had been worn
away. Further in the gallery was the huge skeleton barrel of a
Brontosaurus. My museum hypothesis was confirmed. Going towards the side I
found what appeared to be sloping shelves, and clearing away the thick
dust, I found the old familiar glass cases of our own time. But they must
have been air-tight to judge from the fair preservation of some of their
`Clearly we stood among the ruins of some latter-day South
Kensington! Here, apparently, was the Palaeontological Section, and a very
splendid array of fossils it must have been, though the inevitable process
of decay that had been staved off for a time, and had, through the
extinction of bacteria and fungi, lost ninety-nine hundredths of its
force, was nevertheless, with extreme sureness if with extreme slowness at
work again upon all its treasures. Here and there I found traces of the
little people in the shape of rare fossils broken to pieces or threaded in
strings upon reeds. And the cases had in some instances been bodily
removed-by the Morlocks as I judged. The place was very silent. The thick
dust deadened our footsteps. Weena, who had been rolling a sea urchin down
the sloping glass of a case, presently came, as I stared about me, and
very quietly took my hand and stood beside me.
`And at first I was so much surprised by this ancient monument of an
intellectual age, that I gave no thought to the possibilities it
presented. Even my preoccupation about the Time Machine receded a little
from my mind.
`To judge from the size of the place, this Palace of Green Porcelain
had a great deal more in it than a Gallery of Palaeontology; possibly
historical galleries; it might be, even a library! To me, at least in my
present circumstances, these would be vastly more interesting than this
spectacle of oldtime geology in decay. Exploring, I found another short
gallery running transversely to the first. This appeared to be devoted to
minerals, and the sight of a block of sulphur set my mind running on
gunpowder. But I could find no saltpeter; indeed, no nitrates of any kind.
Doubtless they had deliquesced ages ago. Yet the sulphur hung in my mind,
and set up a train of thinking. As for the rest of the contents of that
gallery, though on the whole they were the best preserved of all I saw, I
had little interest. I am no specialist in mineralogy, and I went on down
a very ruinous aisle running parallel to the first hall I had entered.
Apparently this section had been devoted to natural history, but
everything had long since passed out of recognition. A few shrivelled and
blackened vestiges of what had once been stuffed animals, desiccated
mummies in jars that had once held spirit, a brown dust of departed
plants: that was all! I was sorry for that, because I should have been
glad to trace the patent readjustments by which the conquest of animated
nature had been attained. Then we came to a gallery of simply colossal
proportions, but singularly ill-lit, the floor of it running downward at a
slight angle from the end at which I entered. At intervals white globes
hung from the ceiling-many of them cracked and smashed-which suggested
that originally the place had been artificially lit. Here I was more in my
element, for rising on either side of me were the huge bulks of big
machines, all greatly corroded and many broken down, but some still fairly
complete. You know I have a certain weakness for mechanism, and I was
inclined to linger among these; the more so as for the most part they had
the interest of puzzles, and I could make only the vaguest guesses at what
they were for. I fancied that if I could solve their puzzles I should find
myself in possession of powers that might be of use against the Morlocks.
`Suddenly Weena came very close to my side. So suddenly that she
startled me. Had it not been for her I do not think I should have noticed
that the floor of the gallery sloped at all. [Footnote: It may be, of
course, that the floor did not slope, but that the museum was built into
the side of a hill.-ED.] The end I had come in at was quite above ground,
and was lit by rare slit-like windows. As you went down the length, the
ground came up against these windows, until at last there was a pit like
the "area" of a London house before each, and only a narrow line of
daylight at the top. I went slowly along, puzzling about the machines, and
had been too intent upon them to notice the gradual diminution of the
light, until Weena's increasing apprehensions drew my attention. Then I
saw that the gallery ran down at last into a thick darkness. I hesitated,
and then, as I looked round me, I saw that the dust was less abundant and
its surface less even. Further away towards the dimness, it appeared to be
broken by a number of small narrow footprints. My sense of the immediate
presence of the Morlocks revived at that. I felt that I was wasting my
time in the academic examination of machinery. I called to mind that it
was already far advanced in the afternoon, and that I had still no weapon,
no refuge, and no means of making a fire. And then down in the remote
blackness of the gallery I heard a peculiar pattering, and the same odd
noises I had heard down the well.
`I took Weena's hand. Then, struck with a sudden idea, I left her and
turned to a machine from which projected a lever not unlike those in a
signal-box. Clambering upon the stand, and grasping this lever in my
hands, I put all my weight upon it sideways. Suddenly Weena, deserted in
the central aisle, began to whimper. I had judged the strength of the
lever pretty correctly, for it snapped after a minute's strain, and I
rejoined her with a mace in my hand more than sufficient, I judged, for
any Morlock skull I might encounter. And I longed very much to kill a
Morlock or so. Very inhuman, you may think, to want to go killing one's
own descendants! But it was impossible, somehow, to feel any humanity in
the things. Only my disinclination to leave Weena, and a persuasion that
if I began to slake my thirst for murder my Time Machine might suffer,
restrained me from going straight down the gallery and killing the brutes
`Well, mace in one hand and Weena in the other, I went out of that
gallery and into another and still larger one, which at the first glance
reminded me of a military chapel hung with tattered flags. The brown and
charred rags that hung from the sides of it, I presently recognized as the
decaying vestiges of books. They had long since dropped to pieces, and
every semblance of print had left them. But here and there were warped
boards and cracked metallic clasps that told the tale well enough. Had I
been a literary man I might, perhaps, have moralized upon the futility of
all ambition. But as it was, the thing that struck me with keenest force
was the enormous waste of labour to which this sombre wilderness of
rotting paper testified. At the time I will confess that I thought chiefly
of the PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS and my own seventeen papers upon
`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
`Now, I still think that for this box of matches to have escaped the
wear of time for immemorial years was a most strange, as for me it was a
most fortunate thing. Yet, oddly enough, I found a far unlikelier
substance, and that was camphor. I found it in a sealed jar, that by
chance, I suppose, had been really hermetically sealed. I fancied at first
that it was paraffin wax, and smashed the glass accordingly. But the odour
of camphor was unmistakable. In the universal decay this volatile
substance had chanced to survive, perhaps through many thousands of
centuries. It reminded me of a sepia painting I had once seen done from
the ink of a fossil Belemnite that must have perished and become
fossilized millions of years ago. I was about to throw it away, but I
remembered that it was inflammable and burned with a good bright
flame-was, in fact, an excellent candle-and I put it in my pocket. I found
no explosives, however, nor any means of breaking down the bronze doors.
As yet my iron crowbar was the most helpful thing I had chanced upon.
Nevertheless I left that gallery greatly elated.
`I cannot tell you all the story of that long afternoon. It would
require a great effort of memory to recall my explorations in at all the
proper order. I remember a long gallery of rusting stands of arms, and how
I hesitated between my crowbar and a hatchet or a sword. I could not carry
both, however, and my bar of iron promised best against the bronze gates.
There were numbers of guns, pistols, and rifles. The most were masses of
rust, but many were of some new metal, and still fairly sound. But any
cartridges or powder there may once have been had rotted into dust. One
corner I saw was charred and shattered; perhaps, I thought, by an
explosion among the specimens. In another place was a vast array of
idols-Polynesian, Mexican, Grecian, Phoenician, every country on earth I
should think. And here, yielding to an irresistible impulse, I wrote my
name upon the nose of a steatite monster from South America that
particularly took my fancy.
`As the evening drew on, my interest waned. I went through gallery
after gallery, dusty, silent, often ruinous, the exhibits sometimes mere
heaps of rust and lignite, sometimes fresher. In one place I suddenly
found myself near the model of a tin-mine, and then by the merest accident
I discovered, in an air-tight case, two dynamite cartridges! I shouted
"Eureka!" and smashed the case with joy. Then came a doubt. I hesitated.
Then, selecting a little side gallery, I made my essay. I never felt such
a disappointment as I did in waiting five, ten, fifteen minutes for an
explosion that never came. Of course the things were dummies, as I might
have guessed from their presence. I really believe that had they not been
so, I should have rushed off incontinently and blown Sphinx, bronze doors,
and (as it proved) my chances of finding the Time Machine, all together
`It was after that, I think, that we came to a little open court
within the palace. It was turfed, and had three fruittrees. 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
`We emerged from the palace while the sun was still in part above the
horizon. I was determined to reach the White Sphinx early the next
morning, and ere the dusk I purposed pushing through the woods that had
stopped me on the previous journey. My plan was to go as far as possible
that night, and then, building a fire, to sleep in the protection of its
glare. Accordingly, as we went along I gathered any sticks or dried grass
I saw, and presently had my arms full of such litter. Thus loaded, our
progress was slower than I had anticipated, and besides Weena was tired.
And I began to suffer from sleepiness too; so that it was full night
before we reached the wood. Upon the shrubby hill of its edge Weena would
have stopped, fearing the darkness before us; but a singular sense of
impending calamity, that should indeed have served me as a warning, drove
me onward. I had been without sleep for a night and two days, and I was
feverish and irritable. I felt sleep coming upon me, and the Morlocks with
`While we hesitated, among the black bushes behind us, and dim
against their blackness, I saw three crouching figures. There was scrub
and long grass all about us, and I did not feel safe from their insidious
approach. The forest, I calculated, was rather less than a mile across. If
we could get through it to the bare hill-side, there, as it seemed to me,
was an altogether safer resting-place; I thought that with my matches and
my camphor I could contrive to keep my path illuminated through the woods.
Yet it was evident that if I was to flourish matches with my hands I
should have to abandon my firewood; so, rather reluctantly, I put it down.
And then it came into my head that I would amaze our friends behind by
lighting it. I was to discover the atrocious folly of this proceeding, but
it came to my mind as an ingenious move for covering our retreat.
`I don't know if you have ever thought what a rare thing flame must
be in the absence of man and in a temperate climate. The sun's heat is
rarely strong enough to burn, even when it is focused by dewdrops, as is
sometimes the case in more tropical districts. Lightning may blast and
blacken, but it rarely gives rise to widespread fire. Decaying vegetation
may occasionally smoulder with the heat of its fermentation, but this
rarely results in flame. In this decadence, too, the art of fire-making
had been forgotten on the earth. The red tongues that went licking up my
heap of wood were an altogether new and strange thing to Weena.
`She wanted to run to it and play with it. I believe she would have
cast herself into it had I not restrained her. But I caught her up, and in
spite of her struggles, plunged boldly before me into the wood. For a
little way the glare of my fire lit the path. Looking back presently, I
could see, through the crowded stems, that from my heap of sticks the
blaze had spread to some bushes adjacent, and a curved line of fire was
creeping up the grass of the hill. I laughed at that, and turned again to
the dark trees before me. It was very black, and Weena clung to me
convulsively, but there was still, as my eyes grew accustomed to the
darkness, sufficient light for me to avoid the stems. Overhead it was
simply black, except where a gap of remote blue sky shone down upon us
here and there. I struck none of my matches because I had no hand free.
Upon my left arm I carried my little one, in my right hand I had my iron
`For some way I heard nothing but the crackling twigs under my feet,
the faint rustle of the breeze above, and my own breathing and the throb
of the blood-vessels in my ears. Then I seemed to know of a pattering
about me. I pushed on grimly. The pattering grew more distinct, and then I
caught the same queer sound and voices I had heard in the Under-world.
There were evidently several of the Morlocks, and they were closing in
upon me. Indeed, in another minute I felt a tug at my coat, then something
at my arm. And Weena shivered violently, and became quite still.
`It was time for a match. But to get one I must put her down. I did
so, and, as I fumbled with my pocket, a struggle began in the darkness
about my knees, perfectly silent on her part and with the same peculiar
cooing sounds from the Morlocks. Soft little hands, too, were creeping
over my coat and back, touching even my neck. Then the match scratched and
fizzed. I held it flaring, and saw the white backs of the Morlocks in
flight amid the trees. I hastily took a lump of camphor from my pocket,
and prepared to light is as soon as the match should wane. Then I looked
at Weena. She was lying clutching my feet and quite motionless, with her
face to the ground. With a sudden fright I stooped to her. She seemed
scarcely to breathe. I lit the block of camphor and flung it to the
ground, and as it split and flared up and drove back the Morlocks and the
shadows, I knelt down and lifted her. The wood behind seemed full of the
stir and murmur of a great company!
`She seemed to have fainted. I put her carefully upon my shoulder and
rose to push on, and then there came a horrible realization. In
manoeuvring with my matches and Weena, I had turned myself about several
times, and now I had not the faintest idea in what direction lay my path.
For all I knew, I might be facing back towards the Palace of Green
Porcelain. I found myself in a cold sweat. I had to think rapidly what to
do. I determined to build a fire and encamp where we were. I put Weena,
still motionless, down upon a turfy bole, and very hastily, as my first
lump of camphor waned, I began collecting sticks and leaves. Here and
there out of the darkness round me the Morlocks' eyes shone like
`The camphor flickered and went out. I lit a match, and as I did so,
two white forms that had been approaching Weena dashed hastily away. One
was so blinded by the light that he came straight for me, and I felt his
bones grind under the blow of my fist. He gave a whoop of dismay,
staggered a little way, and fell down. I lit another piece of camphor, and
went on gathering my bonfire. Presently I noticed how dry was some of the
foliage above me, for since my arrival on the Time Machine, a matter of a
week, no rain had fallen. So, instead of casting about among the trees for
fallen twigs, I began leaping up and dragging down branches. Very soon I
had a choking smoky fire of green wood and dry sticks, and could economize
my camphor. Then I turned to where Weena lay beside my iron mace. I tried
what I could to revive her, but she lay like one dead. I could not even
satisfy myself whether or not she breathed.
`Now, the smoke of the fire beat over towards me, and it must have
made me heavy of a sudden. Moreover, the vapour of camphor was in the air.
My fire would not need replenishing for an hour or so. I felt very weary
after my exertion, and sat down. The wood, too, was full of a slumbrous
murmur that I did not understand. I seemed just to nod and open my eyes.
But all was dark, and the Morlocks had their hands upon me. Flinging off
their clinging fingers I hastily felt in my pocket for the match-box,
and-it had gone! Then they gripped and closed with me again. In a moment I
knew what had happened. I had slept, and my fire had gone out, and the
bitterness of death came over my soul. The forest seemed full of the smell
of burning wood. I was caught by the neck, by the hair, by the arms, and
pulled down. It was indescribably horrible in the darkness to feel all
these soft creatures heaped upon me. I felt as if I was in a monstrous
spider's web. I was overpowered, and went down. I felt little teeth
nipping at my neck. I rolled over, and as I did so my hand came against my
iron lever. It gave me strength. I struggled up, shaking the human rats
from me, and, holding the bar short, I thrust where I judged their faces
might be. I could feel the succulent giving of flesh and bone under my
blows, and for a moment I was free.
`The strange exultation that so often seems to accompany hard
fighting came upon me. I knew that both I and Weena were lost, but I
determined to make the Morlocks pay for their meat. I stood with my back
to a tree, swinging the iron bar before me. The whole wood was full of the
stir and cries of them. A minute passed. Their voices seemed to rise to a
higher pitch of excitement, and their movements grew faster. Yet none came
within reach. I stood glaring at the blackness. Then suddenly came hope.
What if the Morlocks were afraid? And close on the heels of that came a
strange thing. The darkness seemed to grow luminous. Very dimly I began to
see the Morlocks about me-three battered at my feet-and then I recognized,
with incredulous surprise, that the others were running, in an incessant
stream, as it seemed, from behind me, and away through the wood in front.
And their backs seemed no longer white, but reddish. As I stood agape, I
saw a little red spark go drifting across a gap of starlight between the
branches, and vanish. And at that I understood the smell of burning wood,
the slumbrous murmur that was growing now into a gusty roar, the red glow,
and the Morlocks' flight.
`Stepping out from behind my tree and looking back, I saw, through
the black pillars of the nearer trees, the flames of the burning forest.
It was my first fire coming after me. With that I looked for Weena, but
she was gone. The hissing and crackling behind me, the explosive thud as
each fresh tree burst into flame, left little time for reflection. My iron
bar still gripped, I followed in the Morlocks' path. It was a close race.
Once the flames crept forward so swiftly on my right as I ran that I was
outflanked and had to strike off to the left. But at last I emerged upon a
small open space, and as I did so, a Morlock came blundering towards me,
and past me, and went on straight into the fire!
`And now I was to see the most weird and horrible thing, I think, of
all that I beheld in that future age. This whole space was as bright as
day with the reflection of the fire. In the centre was a hillock or
tumulus, surmounted by a scorched hawthorn. Beyond this was another arm of
the burning forest, with yellow tongues already writhing from it,
completely encircling the space with a fence of fire. Upon the hill-side
were some thirty or forty Morlocks, dazzled by the light and heat, and
blundering hither and thither against each other in their bewilderment. At
first I did not realize their blindness, and struck furiously at them with
my bar, in a frenzy of fear, as they approached me, killing one and
crippling several more. But when I had watched the gestures of one of them
groping under the hawthorn against the red sky, and heard their moans, I
was assured of their absolute helplessness and misery in the glare, and I
struck no more of them.
`Yet every now and then one would come straight towards me, setting
loose a quivering horror that made me quick to elude him. At one time the
flames died down somewhat, and I feared the foul creatures would presently
be able to see me. I was thinking of beginning the fight by killing some
of them before this should happen; but the fire burst out again brightly,
and I stayed my hand. I walked about the hill among them and avoided them,
looking for some trace of Weena. But Weena was gone.
`At last I sat down on the summit of the hillock, and watched this
strange incredible company of blind things groping to and fro, and making
uncanny noises to each other, as the glare of the fire beat on them. The
coiling uprush of smoke streamed across the sky, and through the rare
tatters of that red canopy, remote as though they belonged to another
universe, shone the little stars. Two or three Morlocks came blundering
into me, and I drove them off with blows of my fists, trembling as I did
`For the most part of that night I was persuaded it was a nightmare.
I bit myself and screamed in a passionate desire to awake. I beat the
ground with my hands, and got up and sat down again, and wandered here and
there, and again sat down. Then I would fall to rubbing my eyes and
calling upon God to let me awake. Thrice I saw Morlocks put their heads
down in a kind of agony and rush into the flames. But, at last, above the
subsiding red of the fire, above the streaming masses of black smoke and
the whitening and blackening tree stumps, and the diminishing numbers of
these dim creatures, came the white light of the day.
`I searched again for traces of Weena, but there were none. It was
plain that they had left her poor little body in the forest. I cannot
describe how it relieved me to think that it had escaped the awful fate to
which it seemed destined. As I thought of that, I was almost moved to
begin a massacre of the helpless abominations about me, but I contained
myself. The hillock, as I have said, was a kind of island in the forest.
From its summit I could now make out through a haze of smoke the Palace of
Green Porcelain, and from that I could get my bearings for the White
Sphinx. And so, leaving the remnant of these damned souls still going
hither and thither and moaning, as the day grew clearer, I tied some grass
about my feet and limped on across smoking ashes and among black stems,
that still pulsated internally with fire, towards the hiding-place of the
Time Machine. I walked slowly, for I was almost exhausted, as well as
lame, and I felt the intensest wretchedness for the horrible death of
little Weena. It seemed an overwhelming calamity. Now, in this old
familiar room, it is more like the sorrow of a dream than an actual loss.
But that morning it left me absolutely lonely again-terribly alone. I
began to think of this house of mine, of this fireside, of some of you,
and with such thoughts came a longing that was pain.
`But as I walked over the smoking ashes under the bright morning sky,
I made a discovery. In my trouser pocket were still some loose matches.
The box must have leaked before it was lost.
`About eight or nine in the morning I came to the same seat of yellow
metal from which I had viewed the world upon the evening of my arrival. I
thought of my hasty conclusions upon that evening and could not refrain
from laughing bitterly at my confidence. Here was the same beautiful
scene, the same abundant foliage, the same splendid palaces and
magnificent ruins, the same silver river running between its fertile
banks. The gay robes of the beautiful people moved hither and thither
among the trees. Some were bathing in exactly the place where I had saved
Weena, and that suddenly gave me a keen stab of pain. And like blots upon
the landscape rose the cupolas above the ways to the Under-world. I
understood now what all the beauty of the 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
`So, as I see it, the Upper-world man had drifted towards his feeble
prettiness, and the Under-world to mere mechanical industry. But that
perfect state had lacked one thing even for mechanical perfection-absolute
permanency. Apparently as time went on, the feeding of the Under-world,
however it was effected, had become disjointed. Mother Necessity, who had
been staved off for a few thousand years, came back again, and she began
below. The Under-world being in contact with machinery, which, however
perfect, still needs some little thought outside habit, had probably
retained perforce rather more initiative, if less of every other human
character, than the Upper. And when other meat failed them, they turned to
what old habit had hitherto forbidden. So I say I saw it in my last view
of the world of Eight Hundred and Two Thousand Seven Hundred and One. It
may be as wrong an explanation as mortal wit could invent. It is how the
thing shaped itself to me, and as that I give it to you.
`After the fatigues, excitements, and terrors of the past days, and
in spite of my grief, this seat and the tranquil view and the warm
sunlight were very pleasant. I was very tired and sleepy, and soon my
theorizing passed into dozing. Catching myself at that, I took my own
hint, and spreading myself out upon the turf I had a long and refreshing
`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
`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 scramble.
`But at last the lever was fitted and pulled over. The clinging hands
slipped from me. The darkness presently fell from my eyes. I found myself
in the same grey light and tumult I have already described.
`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
`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 flittering up into the
sky and, circling, disappear over some low hillocks beyond. The sound of
its voice was so dismal that I shivered and seated myself more firmly upon
the machine. Looking round me again, I saw that, quite near, what I had
taken to be a reddish mass of rock was moving slowly towards me. Then I
saw the thing was really a monstrous crab-like creature. Can you imagine a
crab as large as yonder table, with its many legs moving slowly and
uncertainly, its big claws swaying, its long antennae, like carters'
whips, waving and feeling, and its stalked eyes gleaming at you on either
side of its metallic front? Its back was corrugated and ornamented with
ungainly bosses, and a greenish incrustation blotched it here and there. I
could see the many palps of its complicated mouth flickering and feeling
as it moved.
`As I stared at this sinister apparition crawling towards me, I felt
a tickling on my cheek as though a fly had lighted there. I tried to brush
it away with my hand, but in a moment it returned, and almost immediately
came another by my ear. I struck at this, and caught something threadlike.
It was drawn swiftly out of my hand. With a frightful qualm, I turned, and
I saw that I had grasped the antenna of another monster crab that stood
just behind me. Its evil eyes were wriggling on their stalks, its mouth
was all alive with appetite, and its vast ungainly claws, smeared with an
algal slime, were descending upon me. In a moment my hand was on the
lever, and I had placed a month between myself and these monsters. But I
was still on the same beach, and I saw them distinctly now as soon as I
stopped. Dozens of them seemed to be crawling here and there, in the
sombre light, among the foliated sheets of intense green.
`I cannot convey the sense of abominable desolation that hung over
the world. The red eastern sky, the northward blackness, the salt Dead
Sea, the stony beach crawling with these foul, slow-stirring monsters, the
uniform poisonous-looking green of the lichenous plants, the thin air that
hurts one's lungs: all contributed to an appalling effect. I moved on a
hundred years, and there was the same red sun-a little larger, a little
duller-the same dying sea, the same chill air, and the same crowd of
earthy crustacea creeping in and out among the green weed and the red
rocks. And in the westward sky, I saw a curved pale line like a vast new
`So I travelled, stopping ever and again, in great strides of a
thousand years or more, drawn on by the mystery of the earth's fate,
watching with a strange fascination the sun grow larger and duller in the
westward sky, and the life of the old earth ebb away. At last, more than
thirty million years hence, the huge red-hot dome of the sun had come to
obscure nearly a tenth part of the darkling heavens. Then I stopped once
more, for the crawling multitude of crabs had disappeared, and the red
beach, save for its livid green liverworts and lichens, seemed lifeless.
And now it was flecked with white. A bitter cold assailed me. Rare white
flakes ever and again came eddying down. To the north-eastward, the glare
of snow lay under the starlight of the sable sky and I could see an
undulating crest of hillocks pinkish white. There were fringes of ice
along the sea margin, with drifting masses further out; but the main
expanse of that salt ocean, all bloody under the eternal sunset, was still
`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 little.
`Suddenly I noticed that the circular westward outline of the sun had
changed; that a concavity, a bay, had appeared in the curve. I saw this
grow larger. For a minute perhaps I stared aghast at this blackness that
was creeping over the day, and then I realized that an eclipse was
beginning. Either the moon or the planet Mercury was passing across the
sun's disk. Naturally, at first I took it to be the moon, but there is
much to incline me to believe that what I really saw was the transit of an
inner planet passing very near to the earth.
`The darkness grew apace; a cold wind began to blow in freshening
gusts from the east, and the showering white flakes in the air increased
in number. From the edge of the sea came a ripple and whisper. Beyond
these lifeless sounds the world was silent. Silent? It would be hard to
convey the stillness of it. All the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep,
the cries of birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background
of our lives-all that was over. As the darkness thickened, the eddying
flakes grew more abundant, dancing before my eyes; and the cold of the air
more intense. At last, one by one, swiftly, one after the other, the white
peaks of the distant hills vanished into blackness. The breeze rose to a
moaning wind. I saw the black central shadow of the eclipse sweeping
towards me. In another moment the pale stars alone were visible. All else
was rayless obscurity. The sky was absolutely black.
`A horror of this great darkness came on me. The cold, that smote to
my marrow, and the pain I felt in breathing, overcame me. I shivered, and
a deadly nausea seized me. Then like a red-hot bow in the sky appeared the
edge of the sun. I got off the machine to recover myself. I felt giddy and
incapable of facing the return journey. As I stood sick and confused I saw
again the moving thing upon the shoal-there was no mistake now that it was
a moving thing-against the red water of the sea. It was a round thing, the
size of a football perhaps, or, it may be, bigger, and tentacles trailed
down from it; it seemed black against the weltering blood-red water, and
it was hopping fitfully about. Then I felt I was fainting. But a terrible
dread of lying helpless in that remote and awful twilight sustained me
while I clambered upon the saddle.
`So I came back. For a long time I must have been insensible upon the
machine. The blinking succession of the days and nights was resumed, the
sun got golden again, the sky blue. I breathed with greater freedom. The
fluctuating contours of the land ebbed and flowed. The hands spun backward
upon the dials. At last I saw again the dim shadows of houses, the
evidences of decadent humanity. These, too, changed and passed, and others
came. Presently, when the million dial was at zero, I slackened speed. I
began to recognize our own petty and familiar architecture, the thousands
hand ran back to the starting-point, the night and day flapped slower and
slower. Then the old walls of the laboratory came round me. Very gently,
now, I slowed the mechanism down.
`I saw one little thing that seemed odd to me. I think I have told
you that when I set out, before my velocity became very high, Mrs.
Watchett had walked across the room, travelling, as it seemed to me, like
a rocket. As I returned, I passed again across that minute when she
traversed the laboratory. But now her every motion appeared to be the
exact inversion of her previous ones. The door at the lower end opened,
and she glided quietly up the laboratory, back foremost, and disappeared
behind the door by which she had previously entered. Just before that I
seemed to see Hillyer for a moment; but he passed like a flash.
`Then I stopped the machine, and saw about me again the old familiar
laboratory, my tools, my appliances just as I had left them. I got off the
thing very shaky, and sat down upon my bench. For several minutes I
trembled violently. Then I became calmer. Around me was my old workshop
again, exactly as it had been. I might have slept there, and the whole
thing have been a 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 to-day, and looking at the timepiece,
saw the hour was almost eight o'clock. I heard your voices and the clatter
of plates. I hesitated-I felt so sick and weak. Then I sniffed good
wholesome meat, and opened the door on you. You know the rest. I washed,
and dined, and now I am telling you the story.
`I know,' he said, after a pause, `that all this will be absolutely
incredible to you. To me the one incredible thing is that I am here
to-night in this old familiar room looking into your friendly faces and
telling you these strange adventures.'
He looked at the Medical Man. `No. I cannot expect you to believe it.
Take it as a lie-or a prophecy. Say I dreamed it in the workshop. Consider
I have been speculating upon the destinies of our race until I have
hatched this fiction. Treat my assertion of its truth as a mere stroke of
art to enhance its interest. And taking it as a story, what do you think
He took up his pipe, and began, in his old accustomed manner, to tap
with it nervously upon the bars of the grate. There was a momentary
stillness. Then chairs began to creak and shoes to scrape upon the carpet.
I took my eyes off the Time Traveller's face, and looked round at his
audience. They were in the dark, and little spots of colour swam before
them. The Medical Man seemed absorbed in the contemplation of our host.
The Editor was looking hard at the end of his cigar-the sixth. The
Journalist fumbled for his watch. The others, as far as I remember, were
The Editor stood up with a sigh. `What a pity it is you're not a
writer of stories!' he said, putting his hand on the Time 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 gynaeceum's odd,' he said. The Psychologist leant forward to see,
holding out his hand for a specimen.
`I'm hanged if it isn't a quarter to one,' said the Journalist. `How
shall we get home?'
`Plenty of cabs at the station,' said the Psychologist.
`It's a curious thing,' said the Medical Man; `but I certainly don't
know the natural order of these flowers. May I have them?'
The Time Traveller hesitated. Then suddenly: `Certainly not.'
`Where did you really get them?' said the Medical Man.
The Time Traveller put his hand to his head. He spoke like one who
was trying to keep hold of an idea that eluded him. 'They were put into my
pocket by Weena, when I travelled into Time.' He stared round the room.
`I'm damned if it isn't all going. This room and you and the atmosphere of
every day is too much for my memory. Did I ever make a Time Machine, or a
model of a Time Machine? Or is it all only a dream? They say life is a
dream, a precious poor dream at times-but I can't stand another that won't
fit. It's madness. And where did the dream come from?... I must look at
that machine. If there is one!'
He caught up the lamp swiftly, and carried it, flaring red, through
the door into the corridor. We followed him. There in the flickering light
of the lamp was the machine sure enough, squat, ugly, and askew; a thing
of brass, ebony, ivory, and translucent glimmering quartz. Solid to the
touch-for I put out my hand and felt the rail of it-and with brown spots
and smears upon the ivory, and bits of grass and moss upon the lower
parts, and one rail bent awry.
The Time Traveller put the lamp down on the bench, and ran his hand
along the damaged rail. `It's all right now,' he said. 'The story I told
you was true. I'm sorry to have brought you out here in the cold.' He took
up the lamp, and, in an absolute silence, we returned to the smoking-room.
He came into the hall with us and helped the Editor on with his coat.
The Medical Man looked into his face and, with a certain hesitation, told
him he was suffering from overwork, at which he laughed hugely. I remember
him standing in the open doorway, bawling good night.
I shared a cab with the Editor. He thought the tale a `gaudy lie.'
For my own part I was unable to come to a conclusion. The story was so
fantastic and incredible, the telling so credible and sober. I lay awake
most of the night thinking about it. I determined to go next day and see
the Time Traveller again. I was told he was in the laboratory, and being
on easy terms in the house, I went up to him. The laboratory, however, was
empty. I stared for a minute at the Time Machine and put out my hand and
touched the lever. At that the squat substantial-looking mass swayed like
a bough shaken by the wind. Its instability startled me extremely, and I
had a queer reminiscence of the childish days when I used to be forbidden
to meddle. I came back through the corridor. The Time Traveller met me in
the smoking-room. He was coming from the house. He had a small camera
under one arm and a knapsack under the other. He laughed when he saw me,
and gave me an elbow to shake. `I'm frightfully busy,' said he, `with that
thing in there.'
`But is it not some hoax?' I said. `Do you really travel through
`Really and truly I do.' And he looked frankly into my eyes. He
hesitated. His eye wandered about the room. `I only want half an hour,' he
said. `I know why you came, and it's awfully good of you. There's some
magazines here. If you'll stop to lunch I'll prove you this time
travelling up to the hilt, specimen and all. If you'll forgive my leaving
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
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 lakes
of the Triassic Age. Or did he go forward, into one of the nearer ages, in
which men are still men, but with the riddles of our own time answered and
its wearisome problems solved? Into the manhood of the race: for I, for my
own part cannot think that these latter days of weak experiment,
fragmentary theory, and mutual discord are indeed man's culminating time!
I say, for my own part. He, I know-for the question had been discussed
among us long before the Time Machine was made-thought but cheerlessly of
the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the growing pile of civilization
only a foolish heaping that must inevitably fall back upon and destroy its
makers in the end. If that is so, it remains for us to live as though it
were not so. But to me the future is still black and blank-is a vast
ignorance, lit at a few casual places by the memory of his story. And I
have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers -shrivelled now, and
brown and flat and brittle-to witness that even when mind and strength had
gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of