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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Time Machine by H.G. Wells


black, and out of the blackness shone brightly and steadily the pale
white stars. Overhead it was a deep Indian red and starless, and
south-eastward it grew brighter to a glowing scarlet where, cut by
the horizon, lay the huge hull of the sun, red and motionless. The
rocks about me were of a harsh reddish colour, and all the trace of
life that I could see at first was the intensely green vegetation that
covered every projecting point on their south-eastern face. It was
the same rich green that one sees on forest moss or on the lichen in
caves: plants which like these grow in a perpetual twilight.

‘The machine was standing on a sloping beach. The sea stretched
away to the south-west, to rise into a sharp bright horizon against
the wan sky. There were no breakers and no waves, for not a
breath of wind was stirring. Only a slight oily swell rose and fell
like a gentle breathing, and showed that the eternal sea was still
moving and living. And along the margin where the water
sometimes broke was a thick incrustation of salt-pink under the
lurid sky. There was a sense of oppression in my head, and I
noticed that I was breathing very fast. The sensation reminded me
of my only experience of mountaineering, and from that I judged
the air to be more rarefied than it is now.

‘Far away up the desolate slope I heard a harsh scream, and saw a
thing like a huge white butterfly go slanting and fluttering up into
the sky and, circling, disappear over some low hillocks beyond.
The sound of its voice was so dismal that I shivered and seated
myself more firmly upon the machine. Looking round me again, I
saw that, quite near, what I had taken to be a reddish mass of rock
was moving slowly towards me. Then I saw the thing was really a
monstrous crablike creature. Can you imagine a crab as large as
yonder table, with its many legs moving slowly and uncertainly, its
big claws swaying, its long antennae, like carters’ whips, waving
and feeling, and its stalked eyes gleaming at you on either side of
its metallic front? Its back was corrugated and ornamented with
ungainly bosses, and a greenish incrustation blotched it here and
there. I could see the many palps of its complicated mouth
flickering and feeling as it moved.

‘As I stared at this sinister apparition crawling towards me, I felt a
tickling on my cheek as though a fly had lighted there. I tried to
brush it away with my hand, but in a moment it returned, and
almost immediately came another by my ear. I struck at this, and
caught something threadlike. It was drawn swiftly out of my hand.
With a frightful qualm, I turned, and I saw that I had grasped the
antenna of another monster crab that stood just behind me. Its evil
eyes were wriggling on their stalks, its mouth was all alive with
appetite, and its vast ungainly claws, smeared with an algal slime,
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