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Chapter 8

  • '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 it_indows, and great sheets of the green facing had fallen away from th_orroded metallic framework. It lay very high upon a turfy down, and lookin_orth-eastward before I entered it, I was surprised to see a large estuary, o_ven creek, where I judged Wandsworth and Battersea must once have been. _hought then—though I never followed up the thought—of what might hav_appened, or might be happening, to the living things in the sea.
  • 'The material of the Palace proved on examination to be indeed porcelain, an_long the face of it I saw an inscription in some unknown character. _hought, rather foolishly, that Weena might help me to interpret this, but _nly learned that the bare idea of writing had never entered her head. Sh_lways seemed to me, I fancy, more human than she was, perhaps because he_ffection was so human.
  • 'Within the big valves of the door—which were open and broken—we found,
  • instead of the customary hall, a long gallery lit by many side windows. At th_irst glance I was reminded of a museum. The tiled floor was thick with dust,
  • and a remarkable array of miscellaneous objects was shrouded in the same gre_overing. Then I perceived, standing strange and gaunt in the centre of th_all, what was clearly the lower part of a huge skeleton. I recognized by th_blique feet that it was some extinct creature after the fashion of th_egatherium. The skull and the upper bones lay beside it in the thick dust,
  • and in one place, where rain-water had dropped through a leak in the roof, th_hing itself had been worn away. Further in the gallery was the huge skeleto_arrel of a Brontosaurus. My museum hypothesis was confirmed. Going toward_he side I found what appeared to be sloping shelves, and clearing away th_hick dust, I found the old familiar glass cases of our own time. But the_ust have been air-tight to judge from the fair preservation of some of thei_ontents.
  • 'Clearly we stood among the ruins of some latter-day South Kensington! Here,
  • apparently, was the Palaeontological Section, and a very splendid array o_ossils it must have been, though the inevitable process of decay that ha_een staved off for a time, and had, through the extinction of bacteria an_ungi, lost ninety-nine hundredths of its force, was nevertheless, wit_xtreme sureness if with extreme slowness at work again upon all it_reasures. Here and there I found traces of the little people in the shape o_are fossils broken to pieces or threaded in strings upon reeds. And the case_ad in some instances been bodily removed—by the Morlocks as I judged. Th_lace was very silent. The thick dust deadened our footsteps. Weena, who ha_een rolling a sea urchin down the sloping glass of a case, presently came, a_ stared about me, and very quietly took my hand and stood beside me.
  • 'And at first I was so much surprised by this ancient monument of a_ntellectual age, that I gave no thought to the possibilities it presented.
  • Even my preoccupation about the Time Machine receded a little from my mind.
  • 'To judge from the size of the place, this Palace of Green Porcelain had _reat deal more in it than a Gallery of Palaeontology; possibly historica_alleries; it might be, even a library! To me, at least in my presen_ircumstances, these would be vastly more interesting than this spectacle o_ldtime geology in decay. Exploring, I found another short gallery runnin_ransversely to the first. This appeared to be devoted to minerals, and th_ight of a block of sulphur set my mind running on gunpowder. But I could fin_o saltpeter; indeed, no nitrates of any kind. Doubtless they had deliquesce_ges ago. Yet the sulphur hung in my mind, and set up a train of thinking. A_or the rest of the contents of that gallery, though on the whole they wer_he best preserved of all I saw, I had little interest. I am no specialist i_ineralogy, and I went on down a very ruinous aisle running parallel to th_irst hall I had entered. Apparently this section had been devoted to natura_istory, but everything had long since passed out of recognition. A fe_hrivelled and blackened vestiges of what had once been stuffed animals,
  • desiccated mummies in jars that had once held spirit, a brown dust of departe_lants: that was all! I was sorry for that, because I should have been glad t_race the patent readjustments by which the conquest of animated nature ha_een attained. Then we came to a gallery of simply colossal proportions, bu_ingularly ill-lit, the floor of it running downward at a slight angle fro_he end at which I entered. At intervals white globes hung from th_eiling—many of them cracked and smashed—which suggested that originally th_lace had been artificially lit. Here I was more in my element, for rising o_ither side of me were the huge bulks of big machines, all greatly corrode_nd many broken down, but some still fairly complete. You know I have _ertain weakness for mechanism, and I was inclined to linger among these; th_ore so as for the most part they had the interest of puzzles, and I coul_ake only the vaguest guesses at what they were for. I fancied that if I coul_olve their puzzles I should find myself in possession of powers that might b_f use against the Morlocks.
  • 'Suddenly Weena came very close to my side. So suddenly that she startled me.
  • Had it not been for her I do not think I should have noticed that the floor o_he gallery sloped at all. [Footnote: It may be, of course, that the floor di_ot slope, but that the museum was built into the side of a hill.—ED.] The en_ had come in at was quite above ground, and was lit by rare slit-lik_indows. As you went down the length, the ground came up against thes_indows, until at last there was a pit like the "area" of a London hous_efore each, and only a narrow line of daylight at the top. I went slowl_long, puzzling about the machines, and had been too intent upon them t_otice the gradual diminution of the light, until Weena's increasin_pprehensions drew my attention. Then I saw that the gallery ran down at las_nto a thick darkness. I hesitated, and then, as I looked round me, I saw tha_he dust was less abundant and its surface less even. Further away towards th_imness, it appeared to be broken by a number of small narrow footprints. M_ense of the immediate presence of the Morlocks revived at that. I felt that _as wasting my time in the academic examination of machinery. I called to min_hat it was already far advanced in the afternoon, and that I had still n_eapon, no refuge, and no means of making a fire. And then down in the remot_lackness of the gallery I heard a peculiar pattering, and the same odd noise_ had heard down the well.
  • 'I took Weena's hand. Then, struck with a sudden idea, I left her and turne_o a machine from which projected a lever not unlike those in a signal-box.
  • Clambering upon the stand, and grasping this lever in my hands, I put all m_eight upon it sideways. Suddenly Weena, deserted in the central aisle, bega_o whimper. I had judged the strength of the lever pretty correctly, for i_napped after a minute's strain, and I rejoined her with a mace in my han_ore than sufficient, I judged, for any Morlock skull I might encounter. And _onged very much to kill a Morlock or so. Very inhuman, you may think, to wan_o go killing one's own descendants! But it was impossible, somehow, to fee_ny humanity in the things. Only my disinclination to leave Weena, and _ersuasion that if I began to slake my thirst for murder my Time Machine migh_uffer, restrained me from going straight down the gallery and killing th_rutes I heard.
  • 'Well, mace in one hand and Weena in the other, I went out of that gallery an_nto another and still larger one, which at the first glance reminded me of _ilitary chapel hung with tattered flags. The brown and charred rags that hun_rom the sides of it, I presently recognized as the decaying vestiges o_ooks. They had long since dropped to pieces, and every semblance of print ha_eft them. But here and there were warped boards and cracked metallic clasp_hat told the tale well enough. Had I been a literary man I might, perhaps,
  • have moralized upon the futility of all ambition. But as it was, the thin_hat struck me with keenest force was the enormous waste of labour to whic_his sombre wilderness of rotting paper testified. At the time I will confes_hat I thought chiefly of the Philosophical Transactions and my own seventee_apers upon physical optics.
  • 'Then, going up a broad staircase, we came to what may once have been _allery of technical chemistry. And here I had not a little hope of usefu_iscoveries. Except at one end where the roof had collapsed, this gallery wa_ell preserved. I went eagerly to every unbroken case. And at last, in one o_he really air-tight cases, I found a box of matches. Very eagerly I trie_hem. They were perfectly good. They were not even damp. I turned to Weena.
  • "Dance," I cried to her in her own tongue. For now I had a weapon indee_gainst the horrible creatures we feared. And so, in that derelict museum,
  • upon the thick soft carpeting of dust, to Weena's huge delight, I solemnl_erformed a kind of composite dance, whistling The Land of the Leal a_heerfully as I could. In part it was a modest cancan, in part a step dance,
  • in part a skirt-dance (so far as my tail-coat permitted), and in par_riginal. For I am naturally inventive, as you know.
  • 'Now, I still think that for this box of matches to have escaped the wear o_ime for immemorial years was a most strange, as for me it was a mos_ortunate thing. Yet, oddly enough, I found a far unlikelier substance, an_hat was camphor. I found it in a sealed jar, that by chance, I suppose, ha_een really hermetically sealed. I fancied at first that it was paraffin wax,
  • and smashed the glass accordingly. But the odour of camphor was unmistakable.
  • In the universal decay this volatile substance had chanced to survive, perhap_hrough many thousands of centuries. It reminded me of a sepia painting I ha_nce seen done from the ink of a fossil Belemnite that must have perished an_ecome fossilized millions of years ago. I was about to throw it away, but _emembered that it was inflammable and burned with a good bright flame—was, i_act, an excellent candle—and I put it in my pocket. I found no explosives,
  • however, nor any means of breaking down the bronze doors. As yet my iro_rowbar was the most helpful thing I had chanced upon. Nevertheless I lef_hat gallery greatly elated.
  • 'I cannot tell you all the story of that long afternoon. It would require _reat effort of memory to recall my explorations in at all the proper order. _emember a long gallery of rusting stands of arms, and how I hesitated betwee_y crowbar and a hatchet or a sword. I could not carry both, however, and m_ar of iron promised best against the bronze gates. There were numbers o_uns, pistols, and rifles. The most were masses of rust, but many were of som_ew metal, and still fairly sound. But any cartridges or powder there may onc_ave been had rotted into dust. One corner I saw was charred and shattered;
  • perhaps, I thought, by an explosion among the specimens. In another place wa_ vast array of idols—Polynesian, Mexican, Grecian, Phoenician, every countr_n earth I should think. And here, yielding to an irresistible impulse, _rote my name upon the nose of a steatite monster from South America tha_articularly took my fancy.
  • 'As the evening drew on, my interest waned. I went through gallery afte_allery, dusty, silent, often ruinous, the exhibits sometimes mere heaps o_ust and lignite, sometimes fresher. In one place I suddenly found myself nea_he model of a tin-mine, and then by the merest accident I discovered, in a_ir-tight case, two dynamite cartridges! I shouted "Eureka!" and smashed th_ase with joy. Then came a doubt. I hesitated. Then, selecting a little sid_allery, I made my essay. I never felt such a disappointment as I did i_aiting five, ten, fifteen minutes for an explosion that never came. Of cours_he things were dummies, as I might have guessed from their presence. I reall_elieve that had they not been so, I should have rushed off incontinently an_lown Sphinx, bronze doors, and (as it proved) my chances of finding the Tim_achine, all together into non-existence.
  • 'It was after that, I think, that we came to a little open court within th_alace. It was turfed, and had three fruit-trees. So we rested and refreshe_urselves. Towards sunset I began to consider our position. Night was creepin_pon us, and my inaccessible hiding-place had still to be found. But tha_roubled me very little now. I had in my possession a thing that was, perhaps,
  • the best of all defences against the Morlocks—I had matches! I had the campho_n my pocket, too, if a blaze were needed. It seemed to me that the best thin_e could do would be to pass the night in the open, protected by a fire. I_he morning there was the getting of the Time Machine. Towards that, as yet, _ad only my iron mace. But now, with my growing knowledge, I felt ver_ifferently towards those bronze doors. Up to this, I had refrained fro_orcing them, largely because of the mystery on the other side. They had neve_mpressed me as being very strong, and I hoped to find my bar of iron no_ltogether inadequate for the work.