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Chapter 6

  • '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 shrinkin_rom those pallid bodies. They were just the half-bleached colour of the worm_nd things one sees preserved in spirit in a zoological museum. And they wer_ilthily cold to the touch. Probably my shrinking was largely due to th_ympathetic influence of the Eloi, whose disgust of the Morlocks I now bega_o appreciate.
  • 'The next night I did not sleep well. Probably my health was a littl_isordered. I was oppressed with perplexity and doubt. Once or twice I had _eeling of intense fear for which I could perceive no definite reason. _emember creeping noiselessly into the great hall where the little people wer_leeping in the moonlight—that night Weena was among them—and feelin_eassured by their presence. It occurred to me even then, that in the cours_f a few days the moon must pass through its last quarter, and the nights gro_ark, when the appearances of these unpleasant creatures from below, thes_hitened Lemurs, this new vermin that had replaced the old, might be mor_bundant. And on both these days I had the restless feeling of one who shirk_n inevitable duty. I felt assured that the Time Machine was only to b_ecovered by boldly penetrating these underground mysteries. Yet I could no_ace 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 th_ell appalled me. I don't know if you will understand my feeling, but I neve_elt quite safe at my back.
  • 'It was this restlessness, this insecurity, perhaps, that drove me further an_urther afield in my exploring expeditions. Going to the south-westwar_owards 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 th_argest 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 o_luish-green, of a certain type of Chinese porcelain. This difference i_spect 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 afte_ long and tiring circuit; so I resolved to hold over the adventure for th_ollowing day, and I returned to the welcome and the caresses of little Weena.
  • But next morning I perceived clearly enough that my curiosity regarding th_alace of Green Porcelain was a piece of self-deception, to enable me t_hirk, by another day, an experience I dreaded. I resolved I would make th_escent without further waste of time, and started out in the early mornin_owards a well near the ruins of granite and aluminium.
  • 'Little Weena ran with me. She danced beside me to the well, but when she sa_e lean over the mouth and look downward, she seemed strangely disconcerted.
  • "Good-bye, little Weena," I said, kissing her; and then putting her down, _egan to feel over the parapet for the climbing hooks. Rather hastily, I ma_s well confess, for I feared my courage might leak away! At first she watche_e in amazement. Then she gave a most piteous cry, and running to me, sh_egan to pull at me with her little hands. I think her opposition nerved m_ather to proceed. I shook her off, perhaps a little roughly, and in anothe_oment I was in the throat of the well. I saw her agonized face over th_arapet, and smiled to reassure her. Then I had to look down at the unstabl_ooks to which I clung.
  • 'I had to clamber down a shaft of perhaps two hundred yards. The descent wa_ffected by means of metallic bars projecting from the sides of the well, an_hese being adapted to the needs of a creature much smaller and lighter tha_yself, I was speedily cramped and fatigued by the descent. And not simpl_atigued! One of the bars bent suddenly under my weight, and almost swung m_ff into the blackness beneath. For a moment I hung by one hand, and afte_hat experience I did not dare to rest again. Though my arms and back wer_resently acutely painful, I went on clambering down the sheer descent with a_uick a motion as possible. Glancing upward, I saw the aperture, a small blu_isk, in which a star was visible, while little Weena's head showed as a roun_lack projection. The thudding sound of a machine below grew louder and mor_ppressive. Everything save that little disk above was profoundly dark, an_hen I looked up again Weena had disappeared.
  • 'I was in an agony of discomfort. I had some thought of trying to go up th_haft again, and leave the Under-world alone. But even while I turned thi_ver in my mind I continued to descend. At last, with intense relief, I sa_imly 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 tunne_n which I could lie down and rest. It was not too soon. My arms ached, m_ack 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 strikin_ne, I saw three stooping white creatures similar to the one I had seen abov_round in the ruin, hastily retreating before the light. Living, as they did,
  • in what appeared to me impenetrable darkness, their eyes were abnormally larg_nd sensitive, just as are the pupils of the abysmal fishes, and the_eflected the light in the same way. I have no doubt they could see me in tha_ayless obscurity, and they did not seem to have any fear of me apart from th_ight. But, so soon as I struck a match in order to see them, they fle_ncontinently, vanishing into dark gutters and tunnels, from which their eye_lared at me in the strangest fashion.
  • 'I tried to call to them, but the language they had was apparently differen_rom that of the Over-world people; so that I was needs left to my own unaide_fforts, and the thought of flight before exploration was even then in m_ind. But I said to myself, "You are in for it now," and, feeling my way alon_he tunnel, I found the noise of machinery grow louder. Presently the wall_ell away from me, and I came to a large open space, and striking anothe_atch, saw that I had entered a vast arched cavern, which stretched into utte_arkness beyond the range of my light. The view I had of it was as much as on_ould see in the burning of a match.
  • 'Necessarily my memory is vague. Great shapes like big machines rose out o_he dimness, and cast grotesque black shadows, in which dim spectral Morlock_heltered from the glare. The place, by the by, was very stuffy an_ppressive, and the faint halitus of freshly shed blood was in the air. Som_ay down the central vista was a little table of white metal, laid with wha_eemed a meal. The Morlocks at any rate were carnivorous! Even at the time, _emember wondering what large animal could have survived to furnish the re_oint I saw. It was all very indistinct: the heavy smell, the big unmeanin_hapes, the obscene figures lurking in the shadows, and only waiting for th_arkness to come at me again! Then the match burned down, and stung m_ingers, and fell, a wriggling red spot in the blackness.
  • 'I have thought since how particularly ill-equipped I was for such a_xperience. When I had started with the Time Machine, I had started with th_bsurd assumption that the men of the Future would certainly be infinitel_head of ourselves in all their appliances. I had come without arms, withou_edicine, without anything to smoke—at times I missed tobacco frightfully—eve_ithout enough matches. If only I had thought of a Kodak! I could have flashe_hat 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 ha_ndowed me with—hands, feet, and teeth; these, and four safety-matches tha_till remained to me.
  • 'I was afraid to push my way in among all this machinery in the dark, and i_as only with my last glimpse of light I discovered that my store of matche_ad run low. It had never occurred to me until that moment that there was an_eed to economize them, and I had wasted almost half the box in astonishin_he Upper-worlders, to whom fire was a novelty. Now, as I say, I had fou_eft, and while I stood in the dark, a hand touched mine, lank fingers cam_eeling over my face, and I was sensible of a peculiar unpleasant odour. _ancied I heard the breathing of a crowd of those dreadful little beings abou_e. I felt the box of matches in my hand being gently disengaged, and othe_ands behind me plucking at my clothing. The sense of these unseen creature_xamining me was indescribably unpleasant. The sudden realization of m_gnorance of their ways of thinking and doing came home to me very vividly i_he darkness. I shouted at them as loudly as I could. They started away, an_hen I could feel them approaching me again. They clutched at me more boldly,
  • whispering odd sounds to each other. I shivered violently, and shoute_gain—rather discordantly. This time they were not so seriously alarmed, an_hey made a queer laughing noise as they came back at me. I will confess I wa_orribly frightened. I determined to strike another match and escape under th_rotection of its glare. I did so, and eking out the flicker with a scrap o_aper from my pocket, I made good my retreat to the narrow tunnel. But I ha_carce entered this when my light was blown out and in the blackness I coul_ear the Morlocks rustling like wind among leaves, and pattering like th_ain, as they hurried after me.
  • 'In a moment I was clutched by several hands, and there was no mistaking tha_hey were trying to haul me back. I struck another light, and waved it i_heir dazzled faces. You can scarce imagine how nauseatingly inhuman the_ooked—those pale, chinless faces and great, lidless, pinkish-grey eyes!—a_hey stared in their blindness and bewilderment. But I did not stay to look, _romise you: I retreated again, and when my second match had ended, I struc_y third. It had almost burned through when I reached the opening into th_haft. I lay down on the edge, for the throb of the great pump below made m_iddy. Then I felt sideways for the projecting hooks, and, as I did so, m_eet were grasped from behind, and I was violently tugged backward. I lit m_ast match … and it incontinently went out. But I had my hand on the climbin_ars now, and, kicking violently, I disengaged myself from the clutches of th_orlocks and was speedily clambering up the shaft, while they stayed peerin_nd blinking up at me: all but one little wretch who followed me for some way,
  • and well-nigh secured my boot as a trophy.
  • 'That climb seemed interminable to me. With the last twenty or thirty feet o_t a deadly nausea came upon me. I had the greatest difficulty in keeping m_old. 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 int_he blinding sunlight. I fell upon my face. Even the soil smelt sweet an_lean. Then I remember Weena kissing my hands and ears, and the voices o_thers among the Eloi. Then, for a time, I was insensible.