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`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 Over-
world people covered. Very pleasant was their day, as pleasant
as the day of the cattle in the field. Like the cattle, they
knew of no enemies and provided against no needs. And their end
was the same.

`I grieved to think how brief the dream of the human intellect
had been. It had committed suicide. It had set itself
steadfastly towards comfort and ease, a balanced society with
security and permanency as its watchword, it had attained its
hopes--to come to this at last. Once, life and property must
have reached almost absolute safety. The rich had been assured
of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life and
work. No doubt in that perfect world there had been no
unemployed problem, no social question left unsolved. And a
great quiet had followed.

`It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual
versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble.
An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect
mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and
instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no
change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of
intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and
dangers.

`So, as I see it, the 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 sleep.

`I awoke a little before sunsetting. I now felt safe against
being caught napping by the Morlocks, and, stretching myself, I
came on down the hill towards the White Sphinx. I had my crowbar
in one hand, and the other hand played with the matches in my
pocket.

`And now came a most unexpected thing. As I approached the
pedestal of the sphinx I found the bronze valves were open. They
had slid down into grooves.

`At that I stopped short before them, hesitating to enter.

`Within was a small apartment, and on a raised place in the
corner of this was the Time Machine. I had the small levers in
my pocket. So here, after all my elaborate preparations for the
siege of the White Sphinx, was a meek surrender. I threw my iron
bar away, almost sorry not to use it.

`A sudden thought came into my head as I stooped towards the
portal. For once, at least, I grasped the mental operations of
the Morlocks. Suppressing a strong inclination to laugh, I
stepped through the bronze frame and up to the Time Machine. I
was surprised to find it had been carefully oiled and cleaned. I
have suspected since that the Morlocks had even partially taken
it to pieces while trying in their dim way to grasp its purpose.

`Now as I stood and examined it, finding a pleasure in the
mere touch of the contrivance, the thing I had expected happened.
The bronze panels suddenly slid up and struck the frame with a
clang. I was in the dark--trapped. So the Morlocks thought. At
that I chuckled gleefully.

`I could already hear their murmuring laughter as they came
towards me. Very calmly I tried to strike the match. I had only
to fix on the levers and depart then like a ghost. But I had
overlooked one little thing. The matches were of that abominable
kind that light only on the box.

`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.





The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
Category:
Science Fiction

English
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