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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Time Machine by H.G. Wells


46

anything to smoke-at times I missed tobacco frightfully-even
without enough matches. If only I had thought of a Kodak! I could
have flashed that glimpse of the Under-world in a second, and
examined it at leisure. But, as it was, I stood there with only the
weapons and the powers that Nature had endowed me with-
hands, feet, and teeth; these, and four safety-matches that still
remained to me.

I was afraid to push my way in among all this machinery in the
dark, and it was only with my last glimpse of light I discovered
that my store of matches had run low. It had never occurred to me
until that moment that there was any need to economize them, and
I had wasted almost half the box in astonishing the Upperworlders,
to whom fire was a novelty. Now, as I say, I had four left, and
while I stood in the dark, a hand touched mine, lank fingers came
feeling over my face, and I was sensible of a peculiar unpleasant
odour. I fancied I heard the breathing of a crowd of those dreadful
little beings about me. I felt the box of matches in my hand being
gently disengaged, and other hands behind me plucking at my
clothing. The sense of these unseen creatures examining me was
indescribably unpleasant. The sudden realization of my ignorance
of their ways of thinking and doing came home to me very vividly
in the darkness. I shouted at them as loudly as I could. They
started away, and then I could feel them approaching me again.
They clutched at me more boldly, whispering odd sounds to each
other. I shivered violently, and shouted again-rather discordantly.
This time they were not so seriously alarmed, and they made a
queer laughing noise as they came back at me. I will confess I was
horribly frightened. I determined to strike another match and
escape under the protection of its glare. I did so, and eking out the
flicker with a scrap of paper from my pocket, I made good my
retreat to the narrow tunnel. But I had scarce entered this when my
light was blown out, and in the blackness I could hear the
Morlocks rustling like wind among leaves, and pattering like the
rain, as they hurried after me.

In a moment I was clutched by several hands, and there was no
mistaking that they were trying to haul me back. I struck another
light, and waved it in their dazzled faces. You can scarce imagine
how nauseatingly inhuman they lookedthose pale, chinless faces
and great, lidless, pinkish-grey eyes!- as they stared in their
blindness and bewilderment. But I did not stay to look, I promise
you: I retreated again, and when my second match had ended, I
struck my third. It had almost burned through when I reached the
opening into the shaft. I lay down on the edge, for the throb of the
great pump below made me giddy. Then I felt sideways for the
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Time Machine by H.G. Wells



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