"Who knows?" said Dan again. "There are those who believe we wake to a happier world, but--" He shook his head hopelessly.
"It must be true! Oh, it must be!" Galatea cried. "There must be more for you than the mad world you speak of!" She leaned very close. "Suppose, dear," she said, "that when my appointed lover arrives, I send him away. Suppose I bear no child, but let myself grow old, older than Leucon, old until death. Would I join you in your happier world?"
"Galatea!" he cried distractedly. "Oh, my dearest--what a terrible thought!"
"More terrible than you know," she whispered, still very close to him. "It is more than violation of a law; it is rebellion! Everything is planned, everything was foreseen, except this; and if I bear no child, her place will be left unfilled, and the places of her children, and of their children, and so on until some day the whole great plan of Paracosma fails of whatever its destiny was to be." Her whisper grew very faint and fearful. "It is destruction, but I love you more than I fear--death!"
Dan's arms were about her. "No, Galatea! No! Promise me!"
She murmured, "I can promise and then break my promise." She drew his head down; their lips touched, and he felt a fragrance and a taste like honey in her kiss. "At least," she breathed. "I can give you a name by which to love you. Philometros! Measure of my love!"
"A name?" muttered Dan. A fantastic idea shot through his mind--a way of proving to himself that all this was reality, and not just a page that any one could read who wore old Ludwig's magic spectacles. If Galatea would speak his name! Perhaps, he thought daringly, perhaps then he could stay! He thrust her away.
"Galatea!" he cried. "Do you remember my name?"
She nodded silently, her unhappy eyes on his.
"Then say it! Say it, dear!"
She stared at him dumbly, miserably, but made no sound.
"Say it, Galatea!" he pleaded desperately. "My name, dear--just my name!" Her mouth moved; she grew pale with effort and Dan could have sworn that his name trembled on her quivering lips, though no sound came.
At last she spoke. "I can't, dearest one! Oh, I can't! A law forbids it!" She stood suddenly erect, pallid as an ivory carving. "Leucon calls!" she said, and darted away. Dan followed along the pebbled path, but her speed was beyond his powers; at the portal he found only the Grey Weaver standing cold and stern. He raised his hand as Dan appeared.
"Your time is short," he said. "Go, thinking of the havoc you have done."
"Where's Galatea?" gasped Dan.
"I have sent her away." The old man blocked the entrance; for a moment Dan would have struck him aside, but something withheld him. He stared wildly about the meadow--there! A flash of silver beyond the river, at the edge of the forest. He turned and raced toward it, while motionless and cold the Grey Weaver watched him go.
"Galatea!" he called. "Galatea!"
He was over the river now, on the forest bank, running through columned vistas that whirled about him like mist. The world had gone cloudy; fine flakes danced like snow before his eyes; Paracosma was dissolving around him. Through the chaos he fancied a glimpse of the girl, but closer approach left him still voicing his hopeless cry of "Galatea!"
After an endless time, he paused; something familiar about the spot struck him, and just as the red sun edged above him, he recognized the place--the very point at which he had entered Paracosma! A sense of futility overwhelmed him as for a moment he gazed at an unbelievable apparition--a dark window hung in midair before him through which glowed rows of electric lights. Ludwig's window!
It vanished. But the trees writhed and the sky darkened, and he swayed dizzily in turmoil. He realized suddenly that he was no longer standing, but sitting in the midst of the crazy glade, and his hands clutched something smooth and hard--the arms of that miserable hotel chair. Then at last he saw her, close before him--Galatea, with sorrow-stricken features, her tear-filled eyes on his. He made a terrific effort to rise, stood erect, and fell sprawling in a blaze of coruscating lights.
He struggled to his knees; walls--Ludwig's room--encompassed him; he must have slipped from the chair. The magic spectacles lay before him, one lens splintered and spilling a fluid no longer water-clear, but white as milk.
"God!" he muttered. He felt shaken, sick, exhausted, with a bitter sense of bereavement, and his head ached fiercely. The room was drab, disgusting; he wanted to get out of it. He glanced automatically at his watch: four o'clock--he must have sat here nearly five hours. For the first time he noticed Ludwig's absence; he was glad of it and walked dully out of the door to an automatic elevator. There was no response to his ring; someone was using the thing. He walked three flights to the street and back to his own room.
In love with a vision! Worse--in love with a girl who had never lived, in a fantastic Utopia that was literally nowhere! He threw himself on his bed with a groan that was half a sob.
He saw finally the implication of the name Galatea. Galatea--Pygmalion's statue, given life by Venus in the ancient Grecian myth. But his Galatea, warm and lovely and vital, must remain forever without the gift of life, since he was neither Pygmalion nor God.
He woke late in the morning, staring uncomprehendingly about for the fountain and pool of Paracosma. Slow comprehension dawned; how much--how much--of last night's experience had been real? How much was the product of alcohol? Or had old Ludwig been right, and was there no difference between reality and dream?
He changed his rumpled attire and wandered despondently to the street. He found Ludwig's hotel at last; inquiry revealed that the diminutive professor had checked out, leaving no forwarding address.
What of it? Even Ludwig couldn't give what he sought, a living Galatea. Dan was glad that he had disappeared; he hated the little professor. Professor? Hypnotists called themselves "professors." He dragged through a weary day and then a sleepless night back to Chicago.
It was mid-winter when he saw a suggestively tiny figure ahead of him in the Loop. Ludwig! Yet what use to hail him? His cry was automatic. "Professor Ludwig!"
The elfin figure turned, recognized him, smiled. They stepped into the shelter of a building.
"I'm sorry about your machine, Professor. I'd be glad to pay for the damage."
"Ach, that was nothing--a cracked glass. But you--have you been ill? You look much the worse."
"It's nothing," said Dan. "Your show was marvelous, Professor--marvelous! I'd have told you so, but you were gone when it ended."
Ludwig shrugged. "I went to the lobby for a cigar. Five hours with a wax dummy, you know!"
"It was marvelous!" repeated Dan.
"So real?" smiled the other. "Only because you co-operated, then. It takes self-hypnosis."
"It was real, all right," agreed Dan glumly. "I don't understand it--that strange beautiful country."
"The trees were club-mosses enlarged by a lens," said Ludwig. "All was trick photography, but stereoscopic, as I told you--three dimensional. The fruits were rubber; the house is a summer building on our campus--Northern University. And the voice was mine; you didn't speak at all, except your name at the first, and I left a blank for that. I played your part, you see; I went around with the photographic apparatus strapped on my head, to keep the viewpoint always that of the observer. See?" He grinned wryly. "Luckily I'm rather short, or you'd have seemed a giant."
"Wait a minute!" said Dan, his mind whirling. "You say you played my part. Then Galatea--is she real too?"
"Tea's real enough," said the Professor. "My niece, a senior at Northern, and likes dramatics. She helped me out with the thing. Why? Want to meet her?"
Dan answered vaguely, happily. An ache had vanished; a pain was eased. Paracosma was attainable at last!
THE TIME MACHINE.
by H. G. Wells
The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us. His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face was flushed and animated. The fire burned brightly, and the soft radiance of the incandescent lights in the lilies of silver caught the bubbles that flashed and passed in our glasses. Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than submitted to be sat upon, and there was that luxurious after-dinner atmosphere when thought roams gracefully free of the trammels of precision. And he put it to us in this way--marking the points with a lean forefinger--as we sat and lazily admired his earnestness over this new paradox (as we thought it) and his fecundity.
'You must follow me carefully. I shall have to controvert one or two ideas that are almost universally accepted. The geometry, for instance, they taught you at school is founded on a misconception.'
'Is not that rather a large thing to expect us to begin upon?' said Filby, an argumentative person with red hair.
'I do not mean to ask you to accept anything without reasonable ground for it. You will soon admit as much as I need from you. You know of course that a mathematical line, a line of thickness _nil_, has no real existence. They taught you that? Neither has a mathematical plane. These things are mere abstractions.'
'That is all right,' said the Psychologist.
'Nor, having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube have a real existence.'
'There I object,' said Filby. 'Of course a solid body may exist. All real things--'
'So most people think. But wait a moment. Can an _instantaneous_ cube exist?'
'Don't follow you,' said Filby.
'Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a real existence?'
Filby became pensive. 'Clearly,' the Time Traveller proceeded, 'any real body must have extension in _four_ directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and--Duration. But through a natural infirmity of the flesh, which I will explain to you in a moment, we incline to overlook this fact. There are really four dimensions, three which we call the three planes of Space, and a fourth, Time. There is, however, a tendency to draw an unreal distinction between the former three dimensions and the latter, because it happens that our consciousness moves intermittently in one direction along the latter from the beginning to the end of our lives.'
'That,' said a very young man, making spasmodic efforts to relight his cigar over the lamp; 'that ... very clear indeed.'
'Now, it is very remarkable that this is so extensively overlooked,' continued the Time Traveller, with a slight accession of cheerfulness. 'Really this is what is meant by the Fourth Dimension, though some people who talk about the Fourth Dimension do not know they mean it. It is only another way of looking at Time. _There is no difference between Time and any of the three dimensions of Space except that our consciousness moves along it_. But some foolish people have got hold of the wrong side of that idea. You have all heard what they have to say about this Fourth Dimension?'
'_I_ have not,' said the Provincial Mayor.
'It is simply this. That Space, as our mathematicians have it, is spoken of as having three dimensions, which one may call Length, Breadth, and Thickness, and is always definable by reference to three planes, each at right angles to the others. But some philosophical people have been asking why _three_ dimensions particularly--why not another direction at right angles to the other three?--and have even tried to construct a Four-Dimension geometry. Professor Simon Newcomb was expounding this to the New York Mathematical Society only a month or so ago. You know how on a flat surface, which has only two dimensions, we can represent a figure of a three-dimensional solid, and similarly they think that by models of three dimensions they could represent one of four--if they could master the perspective of the thing. See?'
'I think so,' murmured the Provincial Mayor; and, knitting his brows, he lapsed into an introspective state, his lips moving as one who repeats mystic words. 'Yes, I think I see it now,' he said after some time, brightening in a quite transitory manner.
'Well, I do not mind telling you I have been at work upon this geometry of Four Dimensions for some time. Some of my results are curious. For instance, here is a portrait of a man at eight years old, another at fifteen, another at seventeen, another at twenty-three, and so on. All these are evidently sections, as it were, Three-Dimensional representations of his Four-Dimensioned being, which is a fixed and unalterable thing.
'Scientific people,' proceeded the Time Traveller, after the pause required for the proper assimilation of this, 'know very well that Time is only a kind of Space. Here is a popular scientific diagram, a weather record. This line I trace with my finger shows the movement of the barometer. Yesterday it was so high, yesterday night it fell, then this morning it rose again, and so gently upward to here. Surely the mercury did not trace this line in any of the dimensions of Space generally recognized? But certainly it traced such a line, and that line, therefore, we must conclude was along the Time-Dimension.'
'But,' said the Medical Man, staring hard at a coal in the fire, 'if Time is really only a fourth dimension of Space, why is it, and why has it always been, regarded as something different? And why cannot we move in Time as we move about in the other dimensions of Space?'
The Time Traveller smiled. 'Are you sure we can move freely in Space? Right and left we can go, backward and forward freely enough, and men always have done so. I admit we move freely in two dimensions. But how about up and down? Gravitation limits us there.'
'Not exactly,' said the Medical Man. 'There are balloons.'
'But before the balloons, save for spasmodic jumping and the inequalities of the surface, man had no freedom of vertical movement.'
'Still they could move a little up and down,' said the Medical Man.
'Easier, far easier down than up.'
'And you cannot move at all in Time, you cannot get away from the present moment.'
'My dear sir, that is just where you are wrong. That is just where the whole world has gone wrong. We are always getting away from the present moment. Our mental existences, which are immaterial and have no dimensions, are passing along the Time-Dimension with a uniform velocity from the cradle to the grave. Just as we should travel _down_ if we began our existence fifty miles above the earth's surface.'
'But the great difficulty is this,' interrupted the Psychologist. 'You _can_ move about in all directions of Space, but you cannot move about in Time.'
'That is the germ of my great discovery. But you are wrong to say that we cannot move about in Time. For instance, if I am recalling an incident very vividly I go back to the instant of its occurrence: I become absent-minded, as you say. I jump back for a moment. Of course we have no means of staying back for any length of Time, any more than a savage or an animal has of staying six feet above the ground. But a civilized man is better off than the savage in this respect. He can go up against gravitation in a balloon, and why should he not hope that ultimately he may be able to stop or accelerate his drift along the Time-Dimension, or even turn about and travel the other way?'
'Oh, _this_,' began Filby, 'is all--'
'Why not?' said the Time Traveller.
'It's against reason,' said Filby.
'What reason?' said the Time Traveller.
'You can show black is white by argument,' said Filby, 'but you will never convince me.'
'Possibly not,' said the Time Traveller. 'But now you begin to see the object of my investigations into the geometry of Four Dimensions. Long ago I had a vague inkling of a machine--'
'To travel through Time!' exclaimed the Very Young Man.
'That shall travel indifferently in any direction of Space and Time, as the driver determines.'
Filby contented himself with laughter.
'But I have experimental verification,' said the Time Traveller.
'It would be remarkably convenient for the historian,' the Psychologist suggested. 'One might travel back and verify the accepted account of the Battle of Hastings, for instance!'
'Don't you think you would attract attention?' said the Medical Man. 'Our ancestors had no great tolerance for anachronisms.'
'One might get one's Greek from the very lips of Homer and Plato,' the Very Young Man thought.
'In which case they would certainly plough you for the Little-go. The German scholars have improved Greek so much.'
'Then there is the future,' said the Very Young Man. 'Just think! One might invest all one's money, leave it to accumulate at interest, and hurry on ahead!'
'To discover a society,' said I, 'erected on a strictly communistic basis.'
'Of all the wild extravagant theories!' began the Psychologist.
'Yes, so it seemed to me, and so I never talked of it until--'
'Experimental verification!' cried I. 'You are going to verify _that_?'
'The experiment!' cried Filby, who was getting brain-weary.
'Let's see your experiment anyhow,' said the Psychologist, 'though it's all humbug, you know.'
The Time Traveller smiled round at us. Then, still smiling faintly, and with his hands deep in his trousers pockets, he walked slowly out of the room, and we heard his slippers shuffling down the long passage to his laboratory.
The Psychologist looked at us. 'I wonder what he's got?'