فصل 04

مجموعه: کتاب های ساده / کتاب: ماشین زمان / فصل 4

کتاب های ساده

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فصل 04

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  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
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The People of the Future

‘In another moment we were standing face to face, I and this weak creature from the future. He came straight up to me and laughed into my eyes. I noticed immediately that he had no fear in him. Then he turned to the two others who were following him. He spoke to them in a strange and very sweet-sounding language.

‘There were more coming, and soon a little group of perhaps eight or ten of these beautiful people were around me. One of them spoke to me. I don’t know why, but I thought that my voice was too strong and deep for them. So I shook my head and, pointing to my ears, shook it again. He came a step forwards, stopped and then touched my hand. Then I felt other soft little hands on my back and shoulders. They wanted to make sure that I was real.

‘There was nothing at all frightening in this. In fact, these pretty little people had a relaxed and childlike gentleness that made me confident. And also, they looked so weak that I could imagine myself throwing the whole group of them to the ground.

‘But I made a sudden movement to warn them when I saw their little pink hands touching the Time Machine. Fortunately then, when it wasn’t too late, I thought of the danger that I had forgotten. Reaching over the bars of the machine, I took out the little levers that would make it move. I put these in my pocket. Then I turned again to the little people to see how I could communicate.

‘Looking closer at their faces, I saw some strange differences in their sweet prettiness. They all had the same wavy hair, and this came to a sharp end at the neck and below the ears. There was none growing on their faces, and their ears were very small. Their mouths were small, too, with bright red, rather thin lips. Their little chins came to a point and their eyes were large and gentle. Perhaps my sense of my own importance is too great, but I felt even then that they showed very little interest in me.

‘Because they didn’t try to speak to me, but simply stood smiling and speaking softly to each other, I began the conversation. I pointed to the Time Machine and to myself. Then, after thinking for a moment how to describe time, I pointed to the sun. At once a pretty little figure dressed in purple and white did the same, and then made the sound of thunder.

‘For a moment I was very surprised, though the meaning of his movement was clear enough. The question had come into my mind suddenly: were these people fools? You couldn’t really understand how I felt. I had always expected that people living about 800,000 years in the future would have much greater knowledge than us in science, art - everything.

‘But one of them had asked me a very simple question, which showed him to be on the level of intelligence of one of our five- year-old children. He had asked me, in fact, if I had come from the sun in a thunderstorm!

‘This made me think again about their clothes, their weak arms and legs and pretty faces. A feeling of sadness came into my mind. For a moment I felt that I had built the Time Machine for no reason at all.

‘I said yes, pointed to the sun, and made a sound like thunder. This was so real that it frightened them - they all stood back a step or two and bent their heads down. Then one came laughing towards me, carrying some beautiful flowers which were new to me. He put these around my neck.

‘The idea made them all happy. Soon they were running around for flowers and throwing them on me until I was almost covered with them. You cannot imagine what wonderful flowers countless years of work had produced.

‘Then someone suggested that their new toy should be shown to others in the nearest building, and so I was led past the sphinx made of white stone, which had seemed to watch me all the time with a smile at my surprise. As I went with them, the memory of my hopes for a future full of highly intelligent people came to my mind, and made me smile.

‘The building had a very large entrance, and was really enormous. I was worried about the growing crowd of little- people, and the shadows beyond the big open doors. Around me I saw many bushes and flowers. It was clear that no gardener was looking after them, but they still looked beautiful. The Time Machine was left on the lawn.

‘Several more brightly-dressed people met me in the doorway and we walked through into a large hall. The roof was in shadow and the windows, partly made of coloured glass, let in a soft light. The floor was made of large pieces of a very hard white metal, lower in places where people had clearly walked across it for hundreds of years.

‘Along the length of the room were many tables made of shiny stone, perhaps half a metre above the floor, and on these were piles of fruit. Some I recognised as larger apples and oranges, but mostly they were strange.

‘The people with me sat down around a table and made signs for me to do the same. They immediately began to eat the fruit with their hands. I was happy to follow their example because I felt thirsty and hungry. As I did so, I took some time to look around the hall and noticed that the glass windows were broken in many places and the curtains were thick with dust. The general effect, though, was very attractive.

‘There were, perhaps, a couple of hundred people eating in the hall, and most of them were watching me with interest, their little eyes shining over the fruit they were eating. All of them were wearing the same soft but strong material.

‘Fruit, I later learned, was all that they ate. These people of the future didn’t eat meat, and while I was with them, although I missed it, I could only eat fruit too. In fact, I discovered later that horses, cows and sheep, and dogs, had disappeared from Earth. But the fruits were very pleasant.

‘When I had filled my stomach, I tried to learn some of the language of these new people. The fruits seemed an easy thing to start with, and holding one of these up, I began using questioning sounds and movements. I had great difficulty making them understand. At first they stared in surprise and laughed, but soon a fair-haired little female seemed to realise what I wanted and repeated a name.

‘They had to talk for some time to explain things to each other, and when I first tried to make the sounds of their language they were very amused. I felt like a teacher among children, but soon I at least knew a number of names for things and even the verb “to eat”.

‘It was slow work, though, and the little people soon got tired and wanted to get away from my questions, so I decided to let them give short lessons when they wanted to. And they were very short lessons because I have never met people who are lazier or more easily tired. They used to come to me with happy cries of surprise, like children, but like children they soon stopped examining me and went away to find another toy.

‘When the dinner ended, I noted the disappearance of almost all the creatures who had surrounded me at first. It is odd, too, how quickly I stopped caring about these little people. I was continually meeting more of them. They followed me a little distance, talked and laughed around me, smiled in a friendly way, then left me alone.

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