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  • CHAPTER VII

  • 'Now, indeed, I seemed in a worse case than before.

  • Hitherto, except during my night's anguish at the loss of the Time Machine, I had felt

  • a sustaining hope of ultimate escape, but that hope was staggered by these new

  • discoveries.

  • Hitherto I had merely thought myself impeded by the childish simplicity of the

  • little people, and by some unknown forces which I had only to understand to overcome;

  • but there was an altogether new element in

  • the sickening quality of the Morlocks--a something inhuman and malign.

  • Instinctively I loathed them.

  • Before, I had felt as a man might feel who had fallen into a pit: my concern was with

  • the pit and how to get out of it. Now I felt like a beast in a trap, whose

  • enemy would come upon him soon.

  • 'The enemy I dreaded may surprise you. It was the darkness of the new moon.

  • Weena had put this into my head by some at first incomprehensible remarks about the

  • Dark Nights.

  • It was not now such a very difficult problem to guess what the coming Dark

  • Nights might mean. The moon was on the wane: each night there

  • was a longer interval of darkness.

  • And I now understood to some slight degree at least the reason of the fear of the

  • little Upper-world people for the dark.

  • I wondered vaguely what foul villainy it might be that the Morlocks did under the

  • new moon. I felt pretty sure now that my second

  • hypothesis was all wrong.

  • The Upper-world people might once have been the favoured aristocracy, and the Morlocks

  • their mechanical servants: but that had long since passed away.

  • The two species that had resulted from the evolution of man were sliding down towards,

  • or had already arrived at, an altogether new relationship.

  • The Eloi, like the Carolingian kings, had decayed to a mere beautiful futility.

  • They still possessed the earth on sufferance: since the Morlocks,

  • subterranean for innumerable generations, had come at last to find the daylit surface

  • intolerable.

  • And the Morlocks made their garments, I inferred, and maintained them in their

  • habitual needs, perhaps through the survival of an old habit of service.

  • They did it as a standing horse paws with his foot, or as a man enjoys killing

  • animals in sport: because ancient and departed necessities had impressed it on

  • the organism.

  • But, clearly, the old order was already in part reversed.

  • The Nemesis of the delicate ones was creeping on apace.

  • Ages ago, thousands of generations ago, man had thrust his brother man out of the ease

  • and the sunshine. And now that brother was coming back

  • changed!

  • Already the Eloi had begun to learn one old lesson anew.

  • They were becoming reacquainted with Fear.

  • And suddenly there came into my head the memory of the meat I had seen in the Under-

  • world.

  • It seemed odd how it floated into my mind: not stirred up as it were by the current of

  • my meditations, but coming in almost like a question from outside.

  • I tried to recall the form of it.

  • I had a vague sense of something familiar, but I could not tell what it was at the

  • time.

  • 'Still, however helpless the little people in the presence of their mysterious Fear, I

  • was differently constituted.

  • I came out of this age of ours, this ripe prime of the human race, when Fear does not

  • paralyse and mystery has lost its terrors. I at least would defend myself.

  • Without further delay I determined to make myself arms and a fastness where I might

  • sleep.

  • With that refuge as a base, I could face this strange world with some of that

  • confidence I had lost in realizing to what creatures night by night I lay exposed.

  • I felt I could never sleep again until my bed was secure from them.

  • I shuddered with horror to think how they must already have examined me.

  • 'I wandered during the afternoon along the valley of the Thames, but found nothing

  • that commended itself to my mind as inaccessible.

  • All the buildings and trees seemed easily practicable to such dexterous climbers as

  • the Morlocks, to judge by their wells, must be.

  • Then the tall pinnacles of the Palace of Green Porcelain and the polished gleam of

  • its walls came back to my memory; and in the evening, taking Weena like a child upon

  • my shoulder, I went up the hills towards the south-west.

  • The distance, I had reckoned, was seven or eight miles, but it must have been nearer

  • eighteen.

  • I had first seen the place on a moist afternoon when distances are deceptively

  • diminished.

  • In addition, the heel of one of my shoes was loose, and a nail was working through

  • the sole--they were comfortable old shoes I wore about indoors--so that I was lame.

  • And it was already long past sunset when I came in sight of the palace, silhouetted

  • black against the pale yellow of the sky.

  • 'Weena had been hugely delighted when I began to carry her, but after a while she

  • desired me to let her down, and ran along by the side of me, occasionally darting off

  • on either hand to pick flowers to stick in my pockets.

  • My pockets had always puzzled Weena, but at the last she had concluded that they were

  • an eccentric kind of vase for floral decoration.

  • At least she utilized them for that purpose.

  • And that reminds me! In changing my jacket I found...'

  • The Time Traveller paused, put his hand into his pocket, and silently placed two

  • withered flowers, not unlike very large white mallows, upon the little table.

  • Then he resumed his narrative.

  • 'As the hush of evening crept over the world and we proceeded over the hill crest

  • towards Wimbledon, Weena grew tired and wanted to return to the house of grey

  • stone.

  • But I pointed out the distant pinnacles of the Palace of Green Porcelain to her, and

  • contrived to make her understand that we were seeking a refuge there from her Fear.

  • You know that great pause that comes upon things before the dusk?

  • Even the breeze stops in the trees. To me there is always an air of expectation

  • about that evening stillness.

  • The sky was clear, remote, and empty save for a few horizontal bars far down in the

  • sunset. Well, that night the expectation took the

  • colour of my fears.

  • In that darkling calm my senses seemed preternaturally sharpened.

  • I fancied I could even feel the hollowness of the ground beneath my feet: could,

  • indeed, almost see through it the Morlocks on their ant-hill going hither and thither

  • and waiting for the dark.

  • In my excitement I fancied that they would receive my invasion of their burrows as a

  • declaration of war. And why had they taken my Time Machine?

  • 'So we went on in the quiet, and the twilight deepened into night.

  • The clear blue of the distance faded, and one star after another came out.

  • The ground grew dim and the trees black.

  • Weena's fears and her fatigue grew upon her.

  • I took her in my arms and talked to her and caressed her.

  • Then, as the darkness grew deeper, she put her arms round my neck, and, closing her

  • eyes, tightly pressed her face against my shoulder.

  • So we went down a long slope into a valley, and there in the dimness I almost walked

  • into a little river.

  • This I waded, and went up the opposite side of the valley, past a number of sleeping

  • houses, and by a statue--a Faun, or some such figure, minus the head.

  • Here too were acacias.

  • So far I had seen nothing of the Morlocks, but it was yet early in the night, and the

  • darker hours before the old moon rose were still to come.

  • 'From the brow of the next hill I saw a thick wood spreading wide and black before

  • me. I hesitated at this.

  • I could see no end to it, either to the right or the left.

  • Feeling tired--my feet, in particular, were very sore--I carefully lowered Weena from

  • my shoulder as I halted, and sat down upon the turf.

  • I could no longer see the Palace of Green Porcelain, and I was in doubt of my

  • direction. I looked into the thickness of the wood and

  • thought of what it might hide.

  • Under that dense tangle of branches one would be out of sight of the stars.

  • Even were there no other lurking danger--a danger I did not care to let my imagination

  • loose upon--there would still be all the roots to stumble over and the tree-boles to

  • strike against.

  • 'I was very tired, too, after the excitements of the day; so I decided that I

  • would not face it, but would pass the night upon the open hill.

  • 'Weena, I was glad to find, was fast asleep.

  • I carefully wrapped her in my jacket, and sat down beside her to wait for the

  • moonrise.

  • The hill-side was quiet and deserted, but from the black of the wood there came now

  • and then a stir of living things. Above me shone the stars, for the night was

  • very clear.

  • I felt a certain sense of friendly comfort in their twinkling.

  • All the old constellations had gone from the sky, however: that slow movement which

  • is imperceptible in a hundred human lifetimes, had long since rearranged them

  • in unfamiliar groupings.

  • But the Milky Way, it seemed to me, was still the same tattered streamer of star-

  • dust as of yore.

  • Southward (as I judged it) was a very bright red star that was new to me; it was

  • even more splendid than our own green Sirius.

  • And amid all these scintillating points of light one bright planet shone kindly and

  • steadily like the face of an old friend.

  • 'Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of

  • terrestrial life.

  • I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their

  • movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future.

  • I thought of the great precessional cycle that the pole of the earth describes.

  • Only forty times had that silent revolution occurred during all the years that I had

  • traversed.

  • And during these few revolutions all the activity, all the traditions, the complex

  • organizations, the nations, languages, literatures, aspirations, even the mere

  • memory of Man as I knew him, had been swept out of existence.

  • Instead were these frail creatures who had forgotten their high ancestry, and the

  • white Things of which I went in terror.

  • Then I thought of the Great Fear that was between the two species, and for the first

  • time, with a sudden shiver, came the clear knowledge of what the meat I had seen might

  • be.

  • Yet it was too horrible! I looked at little Weena sleeping beside

  • me, her face white and starlike under the stars, and forthwith dismissed the thought.

  • 'Through that long night I held my mind off the Morlocks as well as I could, and whiled

  • away the time by trying to fancy I could find signs of the old constellations in the

  • new confusion.

  • The sky kept very clear, except for a hazy cloud or so.

  • No doubt I dozed at times.

  • Then, as my vigil wore on, came a faintness in the eastward sky, like the reflection of

  • some colourless fire, and the old moon rose, thin and peaked and white.

  • And close behind, and overtaking it, and overflowing it, the dawn came, pale at

  • first, and then growing pink and warm. No Morlocks had approached us.

  • Indeed, I had seen none upon the hill that night.

  • And in the confidence of renewed day it almost seemed to me that my fear had been

  • unreasonable.

  • I stood up and found my foot with the loose heel swollen at the ankle and painful under

  • the heel; so I sat down again, took off my shoes, and flung them away.

  • 'I awakened Weena, and we went down into the wood, now green and pleasant instead of

  • black and forbidding. We found some fruit wherewith to break our

  • fast.

  • We soon met others of the dainty ones, laughing and dancing in the sunlight as

  • though there was no such thing in nature as the night.

  • And then I thought once more of the meat that I had seen.

  • I felt assured now of what it was, and from the bottom of my heart I pitied this last

  • feeble rill from the great flood of humanity.

  • Clearly, at some time in the Long-Ago of human decay the Morlocks' food had run

  • short. Possibly they had lived on rats and such-

  • like vermin.

  • Even now man is far less discriminating and exclusive in his food than he was--far less

  • than any monkey. His prejudice against human flesh is no

  • deep-seated instinct.

  • And so these inhuman sons of men----! I tried to look at the thing in a

  • scientific spirit.

  • After all, they were less human and more remote than our cannibal ancestors of three

  • or four thousand years ago. And the intelligence that would have made

  • this state of things a torment had gone.

  • Why should I trouble myself? These Eloi were mere fatted cattle, which

  • the ant-like Morlocks preserved and preyed upon--probably saw to the breeding of.

  • And there was Weena dancing at my side!

  • 'Then I tried to preserve myself from the horror that was coming upon me, by

  • regarding it as a rigorous punishment of human selfishness.

  • Man had been content to live in ease and delight upon the labours of his fellow-man,

  • had taken Necessity as his watchword and excuse, and in the fullness of time

  • Necessity had come home to him.

  • I even tried a Carlyle-like scorn of this wretched aristocracy in decay.

  • But this attitude of mind was impossible.

  • However great their intellectual degradation, the Eloi had kept too much of

  • the human form not to claim my sympathy, and to make me perforce a sharer in their

  • degradation and their Fear.

  • 'I had at that time very vague ideas as to the course I should pursue.

  • My first was to secure some safe place of refuge, and to make myself such arms of

  • metal or stone as I could contrive.

  • That necessity was immediate.

  • In the next place, I hoped to procure some means of fire, so that I should have the

  • weapon of a torch at hand, for nothing, I knew, would be more efficient against these

  • Morlocks.

  • Then I wanted to arrange some contrivance to break open the doors of bronze under the

  • White Sphinx. I had in mind a battering ram.

  • I had a persuasion that if I could enter those doors and carry a blaze of light

  • before me I should discover the Time Machine and escape.

  • I could not imagine the Morlocks were strong enough to move it far away.

  • Weena I had resolved to bring with me to our own time.

  • And turning such schemes over in my mind I pursued our way towards the building which

  • my fancy had chosen as our dwelling.

  • >

  • CHAPTER VIII

  • 'I found the Palace of Green Porcelain, when we approached it about noon, deserted

  • and falling into ruin.

  • Only ragged vestiges of glass remained in its windows, and great sheets of the green

  • facing had fallen away from the corroded metallic framework.

  • It lay very high upon a turfy down, and looking north-eastward before I entered it,