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The Time Machine

VIII
'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 its windows, and great sheets
of the green facing had fallen away from the corroded metallic framework. It lay very
high upon a turfy down, and looking north-eastward before I entered it, I was surprised to
see a large estuary, or even creek, where I judged Wandsworth and Battersea must once
have been. I thought then--though I never followed up the thought--of what might have
happened, or might be happening, to the living things in the sea.
'The material of the Palace proved on examination to be indeed porcelain, and along the
face of it I saw an inscription in some unknown character. I thought, rather foolishly, that
Weena might help me to interpret this, but I only learned that the bare idea of writing had
never entered her head. She always seemed to me, I fancy, more human than she was,
perhaps because her affection 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 the first 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 grey covering. Then I perceived,
standing strange and gaunt in the centre of the hall, what was clearly the lower part of a
huge skeleton. I recognized by the oblique feet that it was some extinct creature after the
fashion of the Megatherium. 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, the thing itself
had been worn away. Further in the gallery was the huge skeleton barrel of a
Brontosaurus. My museum hypothesis was confirmed. Going towards the side I found
what appeared to be sloping shelves, and clearing away the thick dust, I found the old
familiar glass cases of our own time. But they must have been air-tight to judge from the
fair preservation of some of their contents.
'Clearly we stood among the ruins of some latter-day South Kensington! Here,
apparently, was the Palaeontological Section, and a very splendid array of fossils it must
have been, though the inevitable process of decay that had been staved off for a time, and
had, through the extinction of bacteria and fungi, lost ninety-nine hundredths of its force,
was nevertheless, with extreme sureness if with extreme slowness at work again upon all
its treasures. Here and there I found traces of the little people in the shape of rare fossils
broken to pieces or threaded in strings upon reeds. And the cases had in some instances
been bodily removed--by the Morlocks as I judged. The place was very silent. The thick
dust deadened our footsteps. Weena, who had been rolling a sea urchin down the sloping
glass of a case, presently came, as I stared about me, and very quietly took my hand and
stood beside me.
 
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