H.G. Wells: The Time Machine (1895)
`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.
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
`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
`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
`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
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.