In the Darkness
“We emerged from the palace while the sun was still in part above the horizon. I was determined to reach the White Sphinx early the next morning, and ere the dusk I purposed pushing through the woods that had stopped me on the previous journey. My plan was to go as far as possible that night, and then, building a fire, to sleep in the protection of its glare. Accordingly, as we went along I gathered any sticks or dried grass I saw, and presently had my arms full of such litter. Thus loaded, our progress was slower than I had anticipated, and besides Weena was tired. And I began to suffer from sleepiness too; so that it was full night before we reached the wood. Upon the shrubby hill of its edge Weena would have stopped, fearing the darkness before us; but a singular sense of impending calamity, that should indeed have served me as a warning, drove me onward. I had been without sleep for a night and two days, and I was feverish and irritable. I felt sleep coming upon me, and the Morlocks with it.
“While we hesitated, among the black bushes behind us, and dim against their blackness, I saw three crouching figures. There was scrub and long grass all about us, and I did not feel safe from their insidious approach. The forest, I calculated, was rather less than a mile across. If we could get through it to the bare hill-side, there, as it seemed to me, was an altogether safer resting-place; I thought that with my matches and my camphor I could contrive to keep my path illuminated through the woods. Yet it was evident that if I was to flourish matches with my hands I should have to abandon my firewood; so, rather reluctantly, I put it down. And then it came into my head that I would amaze our friends behind by lighting it. I was to discover the atrocious folly of this proceeding, but it came to my mind as an ingenious move for covering our retreat.
“I don’t know if you have ever thought what a rare thing flame must be in the absence of man and in a temperate climate. The sun’s heat is rarely strong enough to burn, even when it is focused by dewdrops, as is sometimes the case in more tropical districts. Lightning may blast and blacken, but it rarely gives rise to widespread fire. Decaying vegetation may occasionally smoulder with the heat of its fermentation, but this rarely results in flame. In this decadence, too, the art of fire-making had been forgotten on the earth. The red tongues that went licking up my heap of wood were an altogether new and strange thing to Weena.
“She wanted to run to it and play with it. I believe she would have cast herself into it had I not restrained her. But I caught her up, and in spite of her struggles, plunged boldly before me into the wood. For a little way the glare of my fire lit the path. Looking back presently, I could see, through the crowded stems, that from my heap of sticks the blaze had spread to some bushes adjacent, and a curved line of fire was creeping up the grass of the hill. I laughed at that, and turned again to the dark trees before me. It was very black, and Weena clung to me convulsively, but there was still, as my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, sufficient light for me to avoid the stems. Overhead it was simply black, except where a gap of remote blue sky shone down upon us here and there. I struck none of my matches because I had no hand free. Upon my left arm I carried my little one, in my right hand I had my iron bar.
“For some way I heard nothing but the crackling twigs under my feet, the faint rustle of the breeze above, and my own breathing and the throb of the blood-vessels in my ears. Then I seemed to know of a pattering about me. I pushed on grimly. The pattering grew more distinct, and then I caught the same queer sound and voices I had heard in the Under-world. There were evidently several of the Morlocks, and they were closing in upon me. Indeed, in another minute I felt a tug at my coat, then something at my arm. And Weena shivered violently, and became quite still.
“It was time for a match. But to get one I must put her down.
I did so, and, as I fumbled with my pocket, a struggle began in the darkness about my knees, perfectly silent on her part and with the same peculiar cooing sounds from the Morlocks. Soft little hands, too, were creeping over my coat and back, touching even my neck. Then the match scratched and fizzed. I held it flaring, and saw the white backs of the Morlocks in flight amid the trees. I hastily took a lump of camphor from my pocket, and prepared to light is as soon as the match should wane. Then I looked at Weena. She was lying clutching my feet and quite motionless, with her face to the ground. With a sudden fright I stooped to her. She seemed scarcely to breathe. I lit the block of camphor and flung it to the ground, and as it split and flared up and drove back the Morlocks and the shadows, I knelt down and lifted her. The wood behind seemed full of the stir and murmur of a great company!
“She seemed to have fainted. I put her carefully upon my shoulder and rose to push on, and then there came a horrible realization. In manoeuvring with my matches and Weena, I had turned myself about several times, and now I had not the faintest idea in what direction lay my path. For all I knew, I might be facing back towards the Palace of Green Porcelain. I found myself in a cold sweat. I had to think rapidly what to do. I determined to build a fire and encamp where we were. I put Weena, still motionless, down upon a turfy bole, and very hastily, as my first lump of camphor waned, I began collecting sticks and leaves. Here and there out of the darkness round me the Morlocks’ eyes shone like carbuncles.
“The camphor flickered and went out. I lit a match, and as I did so, two white forms that had been approaching Weena dashed hastily away. One was so blinded by the light that he came straight for me, and I felt his bones grind under the blow of my fist. He gave a whoop of dismay, staggered a little way, and fell down. I lit another piece of camphor, and went on gathering my bonfire. Presently I noticed how dry was some of the foliage above me, for since my arrival on the Time Machine, a matter of a week, no rain had fallen. So, instead of casting about among the trees for fallen twigs, I began leaping up and dragging down branches. Very soon I had a choking smoky fire of green wood and dry sticks, and could economize my camphor. Then I turned to where Weena lay beside my iron mace. I tried what I could to revive her, but she lay like one dead. I could not even satisfy myself whether or not she breathed.
“Now, the smoke of the fire beat over towards me, and it must have made me heavy of a sudden. Moreover, the vapour of camphor was in the air. My fire would not need replenishing for an hour or so. I felt very weary after my exertion, and sat down. The wood, too, was full of a slumbrous murmur that I did not understand. I seemed just to nod and open my eyes. But all was dark, and the Morlocks had their hands upon me. Flinging off their clinging fingers I hastily felt in my pocket for the match-box, and – it had gone! Then they gripped and closed with me again. In a moment I knew what had happened. I had slept, and my fire had gone out, and the bitterness of death came over my soul. The forest seemed full of the smell of burning wood. I was caught by the neck, by the hair, by the arms, and pulled down. It was indescribably horrible in the darkness to feel all these soft creatures heaped upon me. I felt as if I was in a monstrous spider’s web. I was overpowered, and went down. I felt little teeth nipping at my neck. I rolled over, and as I did so my hand came against my iron lever. It gave me strength. I struggled up, shaking the human rats from me, and, holding the bar short, I thrust where I judged their faces might be. I could feel the succulent giving of flesh and bone under my blows, and for a moment I was free.
“The strange exultation that so often seems to accompany hard fighting came upon me. I knew that both I and Weena were lost, but I determined to make the Morlocks pay for their meat. I stood with my back to a tree, swinging the iron bar before me. The whole wood was full of the stir and cries of them. A minute passed. Their voices seemed to rise to a higher pitch of excitement, and their movements grew faster. Yet none came within reach. I stood glaring at the blackness. Then suddenly came hope. What if the Morlocks were afraid? And close on the heels of that came a strange thing. The darkness seemed to grow luminous. Very dimly I began to see the Morlocks about me – three battered at my feet – and then I recognized, with incredulous surprise, that the others were running, in an incessant stream, as it seemed, from behind me, and away through the wood in front. And their backs seemed no longer white, but reddish. As I stood agape, I saw a little red spark go drifting across a gap of starlight between the branches, and vanish. And at that I understood the smell of burning wood, the slumbrous murmur that was growing now into a gusty roar, the red glow, and the Morlocks” flight.
“Stepping out from behind my tree and looking back, I saw, through the black pillars of the nearer trees, the flames of the burning forest. It was my first fire coming after me. With that I looked for Weena, but she was gone. The hissing and crackling behind me, the explosive thud as each fresh tree burst into flame, left little time for reflection. My iron bar still gripped, I followed in the Morlocks’ path. It was a close race. Once the flames crept forward so swiftly on my right as I ran that I was outflanked and had to strike off to the left. But at last I emerged upon a small open space, and as I did so, a Morlock came blundering towards me, and past me, and went on straight into the fire!
“And now I was to see the most weird and horrible thing, I think, of all that I beheld in that future age. This whole space was as bright as day with the reflection of the fire. In the centre was a hillock or tumulus, surmounted by a scorched hawthorn. Beyond this was another arm of the burning forest, with yellow tongues already writhing from it, completely encircling the space with a fence of fire. Upon the hill-side were some thirty or forty Morlocks, dazzled by the light and heat, and blundering hither and thither against each other in their bewilderment. At first I did not realize their blindness, and struck furiously at them with my bar, in a frenzy of fear, as they approached me, killing one and crippling several more. But when I had watched the gestures of one of them groping under the hawthorn against the red sky, and heard their moans, I was assured of their absolute helplessness and misery in the glare, and I struck no more of them.
“Yet every now and then one would come straight towards me, setting loose a quivering horror that made me quick to elude him. At one time the flames died down somewhat, and I feared the foul creatures would presently be able to see me. I was thinking of beginning the fight by killing some of them before this should happen; but the fire burst out again brightly, and I stayed my hand. I walked about the hill among them and avoided them, looking for some trace of Weena. But Weena was gone.
“At last I sat down on the summit of the hillock, and watched this strange incredible company of blind things groping to and fro, and making uncanny noises to each other, as the glare of the fire beat on them. The coiling uprush of smoke streamed across the sky, and through the rare tatters of that red canopy, remote as though they belonged to another universe, shone the little stars. Two or three Morlocks came blundering into me, and I drove them off with blows of my fists, trembling as I did so.
“For the most part of that night I was persuaded it was a nightmare. I bit myself and screamed in a passionate desire to awake. I beat the ground with my hands, and got up and sat down again, and wandered here and there, and again sat down. Then I would fall to rubbing my eyes and calling upon God to let me awake. Thrice I saw Morlocks put their heads down in a kind of agony and rush into the flames. But, at last, above the subsiding red of the fire, above the streaming masses of black smoke and the whitening and blackening tree stumps, and the diminishing numbers of these dim creatures, came the white light of the day.
“I searched again for traces of Weena, but there were none.
It was plain that they had left her poor little body in the forest. I cannot describe how it relieved me to think that it had escaped the awful fate to which it seemed destined. As I thought of that, I was almost moved to begin a massacre of the helpless abominations about me, but I contained myself. The hillock, as I have said, was a kind of island in the forest. From its summit I could now make out through a haze of smoke the Palace of Green Porcelain, and from that I could get my bearings for the White Sphinx. And so, leaving the remnant of these damned souls still going hither and thither and moaning, as the day grew clearer, I tied some grass about my feet and limped on across smoking ashes and among black stems, that still pulsated internally with fire, towards the hiding-place of the Time Machine. I walked slowly, for I was almost exhausted, as well as lame, and I felt the intensest wretchedness for the horrible death of little Weena. It seemed an overwhelming calamity. Now, in this old familiar room, it is more like the sorrow of a dream than an actual loss. But that morning it left me absolutely lonely again – terribly alone. I began to think of this house of mine, of this fireside, of some of you, and with such thoughts came a longing that was pain.
“But as I walked over the smoking ashes under the bright morning sky, I made a discovery. In my trouser pocket were still some loose matches. The box must have leaked before it was lost.
ere eə prep Before.
dusk dʌsk n The time of day immediately following sunset.
glare gleə n Unpleasantly bright light.
litter ˈlɪtə n Disorderly accumulation of objects: pile
anticipate ænˈtɪsɪpeɪt v To know in advance: see, foresee
sleepiness ˈsliːpɪnəs n A very sleepy state: drowsiness, lethargy, torpor, heaviness, somnolence, doziness
shrubby ˈʃrʌbi adj Covered with woody plants of relatively low height: bushy
singular ˈsɪŋgjʊlə adj Beyond or deviating from the usual or expected.
impend ɪmˈpɛnd v To be imminent: hang, threaten, loom, menace
calamity kəˈlæmɪti n An occurrence inflicting widespread destruction and distress: tragedy, disaster, catastrophe
onward ˈɒnwəd adv In the usual direction of travel, straight on: ahead, onwards, forward, forwards
feverish ˈfiːvərɪʃ adj Very excited or worried about something.
irritable ˈɪrɪtəbl adj Easily irritated or annoyed: cranky, fractious, nettlesome, peevish, peckish, pettish
crouch kraʊʧ v To bend low: huddle, squat, hunch, hunker
scrub skrʌb n Dense vegetation consisting of stunted trees or bushes: bush, chaparral
insidious ɪnˈsɪdɪəs adj Working harmfully in a subtle or stealthy manner: treacherous
get through ⇒ To reach a destination.
camphor ˈkæmfə n Strongly scented whitish substance used in various medical and industrial purposes.
contrive kənˈtraɪv v To use ingenuity in achieving: think up, devise, formulate, fabricate
illuminate ɪˈljuːmɪneɪt v To make lighter or brighter; to supply or brighten with light; light up.
flourish ˈflʌrɪʃ v To make bold, sweeping movements.
atrocious əˈtrəʊʃəs adj Extremely evil or cruel; exceptionally bad: monstrous, outrageous; abominable
folly ˈfɒli n Foolish behaviour: absurdity, insanity, foolishness, craziness, preposterousness, senselessness, silliness
ingenious ɪnˈʤiːniəs adj Very smart or clever.
temperate ˈtɛmpərɪt adj Free from extremes: mild
dew-drop ˈdjuːdrɒp n Drop of water condensed from the air, usually at night, onto cool surfaces.
blast blɑːst v To make an explosive noise; to release energy suddenly with a loud voice: roar, bang, thunder; fire, blow, burst, explode
decay dɪˈkeɪ v To be slowly destroyed or broken down by natural processes: rotten
vegetation ˌvɛʤɪˈteɪʃən n Plants that cover a particular area: plants, flora, greenery, foliage, verdure
smoulder ˈsməʊldə v To burn with little smoke and no flame.
fermentation ˌfɜːmɛnˈteɪʃən n Chemical reaction induced by living or nonliving ferments that split complex organic compounds into relatively simple substances.
decadence ˈdɛkədəns n Behaviour that shows that someone has low moral standards and is more concerned with pleasure than serious matters.
heap hiːp n A large, disordered pile of things: pile
to cast oneself into something ⇒ To throw o.s into.
restrain rɪsˈtreɪn v To stop someone from doing something, often by using physical force.
to catch s.b. up ⇒ To snatch, pick up suddenly.
stem stɛm n Stalk or trunk.
heap hiːp n A large, disordered pile of things: pile
blaze bleɪz n A strong flame that burns brightly: blazing
adjacent əˈʤeɪsənt adj Lying near.
convulsively kənˈvʌlsɪvli adv Spasmodically.
overhead ˈəʊvɛhɛd adv Directly above; in the sky above.
crackle ˈkrækl v To make repeated short sounds like something burning in a fire.
twig twɪg n A small, leafless branch of a woody plant.
rustle ˈrʌsl n A soft crackling sound, as of dry surfaces rubbing against each other.
throb θrɒb n A violent beat or pulsation, as of the heart.
blood-vessel ˈblʌdˌvɛsl n An elastic tubular channel, such as an artery, a vein, or a capillary, through which the blood circulates.
then I seemed to know of ⇒ Then I became conscious of.
patter ˈpætə v To speak or chatter glibly and rapidly.
grimly ˈgrɪmli adv In very serious appearance or manner: implacably
queer kwɪə adj Deviating from the customary: strange, curious, odd, peculiar, singular, quaint, weird
to close in upon ⇒ To come nearer and surround for an attack.
tug tʌg n A sudden pull: lurch, twitch, jerk, snap, wrench
shiver ˈʃɪvə v To shake slightly because of cold, fear, etc.
fumble ˈfʌmbl v To touch nervously or idly.
peculiar pɪˈkjuːliə adj Not usual or normal.
coo kuː v To utter the murmuring sound of a dove; to talk fondly or amorously in murmurs.
fizz fɪz v To make a hissing or bubbling sound: sizzle, hiss. swish
flare fleə v To shine or burn suddenly and briefly: flame, glow
in flight ⇒ (of birds) gathered in a group.
lump lʌmp n A compact mass of something without definite shape: chunk
wane weɪn v To lose strength: decline, fade, weaken, deteriorate, flag
clutch klʌʧ v Hold firmly, usually with one’s hands: grab
stoop stuːp v To bend the body forward and downward.
she seemed scarcely to breathe ⇒ she gave almost no signs of breathing.
kneel niːl pp knelt nɛlt v Rest one’s weight on one’s knees.
murmur ˈmɜːmə v To make a low, continuous sound.
manoeuvre məˈnuːvə v To go from one place to another: move, shift
to turn about ⇒ To turn round.
I had not the faintest idea ⇒ I hadn’t any idea.
porcelain ˈpɔːsəlɪn n A hard shiny white substance that is used for making expensive plates, cups etc: china
encamp ɪnˈkæmp v To set up camp.
turfy ˈtɜːfi adj Of, covered with, or resembling a surface that consists of soil with grass on top: soddy
bole bəʊl n The trunk of a tree.
wane weɪn v To lose strength: decline, fade, weaken, deteriorate, flag
carbuncle ˈkɑːbʌŋkl n Red precious stone.
flicker ˈflɪkə v Shine unsteadily.
to go out ⇒ To extinguish.
grind graɪnd v To crush to small particles by pounding or abrading.
whoop huːp n A loud hooting cry of exultation or excitement.
dismay dɪsˈmeɪ v The feeling of despair in the face of obstacles: discouragement, disheartenment
stagger ˈstægə v To walk or move unsteadily, almost falling over.
to gather a fire ⇒ To collect wood and make a fire; bonfire ˈbɒnˌfaɪə n A large fire built in the open air.
foliage ˈfəʊlɪɪʤ n All the leaves of a tree.
a matter of ⇒ About an amount mentioned.
to cast about ⇒ To be on the watch, to look for.
to leap up ⇒ To jump.
choke ʧəʊk v Breathe with great difficulty, as when inhaling smoke.
mace meɪs n Metal war club, often with spikes.
revive rɪˈvaɪv v Give new life or energy to or restore from a depressed, inactive, or unused state.
satisfy ˈsætɪsfaɪ v To cause someone to believe that something is true.
heavy ˈhɛvi adj Clumsy slow and sleepy: sluggish, slow, inactive, inert, apathetic, drowsy, listless, indolent, torpid
vapour ˈveɪpə n Cloudy diffused matter, such as mist, fumes, or smoke, suspended in the air.
replenish rɪˈplɛnɪʃ v To add new stock to.
or so ⇒ (of quantities) Imprecise but fairly close to.
weary ˈwɪəri adj Physically or mentally tired or exhausted.
exertion ɪgˈzɜːʃən n Energetic physical action: activity, exercise
slumb(e)rous ˈslʌmbrəs adj Inducing sleep: sleepy, somnolent
murmur ˈmɜːmə v To make a low, continuous sound.
nod nɒd v Let the head fall forward through drowsiness.
to have one’s hands on/upon someone ⇒ To catch.
to fling off ⇒ To rush with great speed.
to pull down ⇒ To apply force so as to cause motion, to jerk.
indescribably ˌɪndɪsˈkraɪbəbli adv To an inexpressible degree: ineffably, unutterably, unspeakably, inexpressibly
to heap upon ⇒ To put things in a heap, amass.
web wɛb n Structure of delicate, threadlike filaments characteristically spun by spiders.
overpower ˌəʊvəˈpaʊə v To overcome or vanquish by superior force: subdue
to go down ⇒ To fall.
nip nɪp v To seize and bite.
lever ˈliːvə n Projecting handle used to adjust or operate a mechanism.
succulent ˈsʌkjʊlənt adj Having fleshy and juicy tissues.
exultation ˌɛgzʌlˈteɪʃən n A feeling of extreme joy over a success or victory: exultance, exultancy, jubilance, jubilation, triumph
to rise to a higher pitch ⇒ To become louder (of a voice).
to come within reach ⇒ To come nearer, get within the range of.
glare gleə v To stare fiercely and angrily.
on the heels of ⇒ Following close behind or soon after someone or something.
luminous ˈluːmɪnəs adj Softly bright or radiant.
batter ˈbætə v To hit heavily and repeatedly with violent blows: beat, hit, pound, strike, thrash
incredulous ɪnˈkrɛdjʊləs adj Refusing to believe: skeptical, unbelieving
incessant ɪnˈsɛsnt adj Continuing without interruption: constant, continuous, eternal, endless, everlasting, perpetual, interminable, ceaseless
to stand agape ⇒ To stand in a state of wonder or amazement.
gusty ˈgʌsti adj Blowing or coming in sudden strong wind blows.
roar rɔː n A deep, loud noise made by an animal or by human voice.
pillar ˈpɪlə n An upright structure of stone, brick, metal, etc, that supports a superstructure or is used for ornamentation.
hiss hɪs v To make a sharp sibilant sound: sizzle, swish, whiz, fizzle
thud θʌd n Dull sound, as that of a heavy object striking a solid surface.
a close race ⇒ An almost even and very strained race.
on my right ⇒ On the right side of me.
outflank aʊtˈflæŋk v To gain a tactical advantage over.
to strike off to the left ⇒ To turn suddenly to the left.
at last ⇒ After a long wait; finally.
to emerge upon ⇒ To become evident.
blunder ˈblʌndə v To move clumsily in an unsteady way, as if you cannot see properly: stumble, lurch, wallow, bumble
behold bɪˈhəʊld pp, pt beheld bɪˈhɛld v To apprehend (images) by use of the eyes: see, perceive
hillock ˈhɪlək n Small hill.
tumulus ˈtjuːmjʊləs pl tumuli ˈtjuːmjʊlaɪ n A heap of earth placed over an ancient grave.
surmount sɜːˈmaʊnt v To be above or on top of something.
scorch skɔːʧ v To make hot: burn, bake
hawthorn ˈhɔːθɔːn n Thorny shrub with clusters of pinkish flowers.
writhe raɪð v To twist your body from side to side violently, especially of pain.
dazzle ˈdæzl v To dim the vision of, especially to blind with intense light: daze, bedazzle
hither and thither ⇒ To many places; here and there.
bewilderment ˈbɪˈwɪldəmənt n The condition of being confused or disoriented.
furiously ˈfjʊərɪəsli adv In a manner marked by extreme or violent energy: fiercely, frantically, frenziedly, hard, strenuously
in a frenzy of fear ⇒ Extremely frightened, almost mad with fear.
cripple ˈkrɪpl v To hurt someone badly so that they cannot walk properly. disable.
grope grəʊp v To search uncertainly: feel, fumble
moan məʊn v To make a long low sound because of pain, sadness, or pleasure.
quiver ˈkwɪvə v To shake slightly because you are cold, or because you feel very afraid, angry, excited etc: tremble
elude ɪˈluːd v To escape from someone or something, especially by tricking them
to die down ⇒ To diminish gradually (of fire, flames etc.).
to stay one’s hand ⇒ To stop, to restrain from doing something.
to walk about ⇒ To walk here and there.
to and fro ⇒ In one direction and then the opposite one.
uncanny ʌnˈkæni n Very strange and difficult to explain.
coil kɔɪl v A continuous series of circular rings into which something such as wire or rope has been wound or twisted.
uprush ˈʌpˌrʌʃ n Sudden forward motion.
tatter ˈtætə n Worn or hanging piece of cloth.
canopy ˈkænəpi n Protective rooflike covering, often made of canvas.
to drive off = drive away ⇒ To compel to move away.
tremble ˈtrɛmbl v To shake slightly because you are afraid, nervous, excited, etc.
for the most part of the night ⇒ For the greatest part of the night.
to get up ⇒ To rise.
thrice θraɪs adv Three times.
subside səbˈsaɪd v To become less strong or loud.
stump stʌmp n The bottom part of a tree that is left in the ground after the rest of it has been cut down.
destined ˈdɛstɪnd adj Seeming certain to happen at some time in the future.
massacre ˈmæsəkə n The savage killing of many victims: slaughter, bloodshed, carnage
abomination əˌbɒmɪˈneɪʃ(ə)n n An action that is vicious or vile; an action that arouses disgust or abhorrence.
to contain oneself ⇒ To restrain oneself.
to make out ⇒ To see or distinguish something clearly enough to be sure of it.
haze heɪz n Smoke, dust, or mist in the air which is difficult to see through.
to get one’s bearings ⇒ To become aware of one’s situation relative to one’s surroundings; to find one’s position with reference to.
remnant ˈrɛmnənt n The remains of something destroyed: remainder, relic, vestige
limp lɪmp v To walk in a slow and awkward way because of an injury to a leg or foot.
lame leɪm adj Disabled or crippled in the legs or feet.
wretchedness ˈrɛʧɪdnəs n Unhappiness.
overwhelm ˌəʊvəˈwɛlm v To impair severly: break, destroy, ruin, crush
fireside ˈfaɪəsaɪd n The area immediately surrounding a fireplace or hearth.
leak liːk v To pass in or out as through an unintended hole or crack.