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H. G. Wells
The Time Machine 10
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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


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