The Time Machine — EN

XVI
After the Sory

“I know,” he said, after a pause, “that all this will be absolute­ly incred­i­ble to you. To me the one incred­i­ble thing is that I am here tonight in this old famil­iar room look­ing into your friend­ly faces and telling you these strange adven­tures.”

He looked at the Med­ical Man. “No. I can­not expect you to believe it. Take it as a lie – or a prophe­cy. Say I dreamed it in the work­shop. Con­sid­er I have been spec­u­lat­ing upon the des­tinies of our race until I have hatched this fic­tion. Treat my asser­tion of its truth as a mere stroke of art to enhance its inter­est. And tak­ing it as a sto­ry, what do you think of it?”

He took up his pipe, and began, in his old accus­tomed man­ner, to tap with it ner­vous­ly upon the bars of the grate. There was a momen­tary still­ness. Then chairs began to creak and shoes to scrape upon the car­pet. I took my eyes off the Time Traveller’s face, and looked round at his audi­ence. They were in the dark, and lit­tle spots of colour swam before them. The Med­ical Man seemed absorbed in the con­tem­pla­tion of our host. The Edi­tor was look­ing hard at the end of his cig­ar – the sixth. The Jour­nal­ist fum­bled for his watch. The oth­ers, as far as I remem­ber, were motion­less.

The Edi­tor stood up with a sigh. “What a pity it is you’re not a writer of sto­ries!” he said, putting his hand on the Time Traveller’s shoul­der.

“You don’t believe it?”

“Well – –”

“I thought not.”

The Time Trav­eller turned to us. “Where are the match­es?” he said. He lit one and spoke over his pipe, puff­ing. “To tell you the truth… I hard­ly believe it myself… And yet…”

His eye fell with a mute inquiry upon the with­ered white flow­ers upon the lit­tle table. Then he turned over the hand hold­ing his pipe, and I saw he was look­ing at some half-healed scars on his knuck­les.

The Med­ical Man rose, came to the lamp, and exam­ined the flow­ers. “The gynae­ceum’s odd,” he said. The Psy­chol­o­gist leant for­ward to see, hold­ing out his hand for a spec­i­men.

“I’m hanged if it isn’t a quar­ter to one,” said the Jour­nal­ist. “How shall we get home?”

“Plen­ty of cabs at the sta­tion,” said the Psy­chol­o­gist.

“It’s a curi­ous thing,” said the Med­ical Man; “but I cer­tain­ly don’t know the nat­ur­al order of these flow­ers. May I have them?”

The Time Trav­eller hes­i­tat­ed. Then sud­den­ly: “Cer­tain­ly not.”

“Where did you real­ly get them?” said the Med­ical Man.

The Time Trav­eller put his hand to his head. He spoke like one who was try­ing to keep hold of an idea that elud­ed him.

“They were put into my pock­et by Weena, when I trav­elled into Time.” He stared round the room. “I’m damned if it isn’t all going. This room and you and the atmos­phere of every day is too much for my mem­o­ry. Did I ever make a Time Machine, or a mod­el of a Time Machine? Or is it all only a dream? They say life is a dream, a pre­cious poor dream at times – but I can’t stand anoth­er that won’t fit. It’s mad­ness. And where did the dream come from?… I must look at that machine. If there is one!”

He caught up the lamp swift­ly, and car­ried it, flar­ing red, through the door into the cor­ri­dor. We fol­lowed him. There in the flick­er­ing light of the lamp was the machine sure enough, squat, ugly, and askew; a thing of brass, ebony, ivory, and translu­cent glim­mer­ing quartz. Sol­id to the touch – for I put out my hand and felt the rail of it – and with brown spots and smears upon the ivory, and bits of grass and moss upon the low­er parts, and one rail bent awry.

The Time Trav­eller put the lamp down on the bench, and ran his hand along the dam­aged rail. “It’s all right now,” he said. “The sto­ry I told you was true. I’m sor­ry to have brought you out here in the cold.” He took up the lamp, and, in an absolute silence, we returned to the smok­ing-room.

He came into the hall with us and helped the Edi­tor on with his coat. The Med­ical Man looked into his face and, with a cer­tain hes­i­ta­tion, told him he was suf­fer­ing from over­work, at which he laughed huge­ly. I remem­ber him stand­ing in the open door­way, bawl­ing good night.

I shared a cab with the Edi­tor. He thought the tale a “gaudy lie.” For my own part I was unable to come to a con­clu­sion. The sto­ry was so fan­tas­tic and incred­i­ble, the telling so cred­i­ble and sober. I lay awake most of the night think­ing about it. I deter­mined to go next day and see the Time Trav­eller again. I was told he was in the lab­o­ra­to­ry, and being on easy terms in the house, I went up to him. The lab­o­ra­to­ry, how­ev­er, was emp­ty. I stared for a minute at the Time Machine and put out my hand and touched the lever. At that the squat sub­stan­tial-look­ing mass swayed like a bough shak­en by the wind. Its insta­bil­i­ty star­tled me extreme­ly, and I had a queer rem­i­nis­cence of the child­ish days when I used to be for­bid­den to med­dle. I came back through the cor­ri­dor. The Time Trav­eller met me in the smok­ing-room. He was com­ing from the house. He had a small cam­era under one arm and a knap­sack under the oth­er. He laughed when he saw me, and gave me an elbow to shake. “I’m fright­ful­ly busy,” said he, “with that thing in there.”

“But is it not some hoax?” I said. “Do you real­ly trav­el through time?”

“Real­ly and tru­ly I do.” And he looked frankly into my eyes.

He hes­i­tat­ed. His eye wan­dered about the room. “I only want half an hour,” he said. “I know why you came, and it’s awful­ly good of you. There’s some mag­a­zines here. If you’ll stop to lunch I’ll prove you this time trav­el­ling up to the hilt, spec­i­men and all. If you’ll for­give my leav­ing you now?”

I con­sent­ed, hard­ly com­pre­hend­ing then the full import of his words, and he nod­ded and went on down the cor­ri­dor. I heard the door of the lab­o­ra­to­ry slam, seat­ed myself in a chair, and took up a dai­ly paper. What was he going to do before lunch-time? Then sud­den­ly I was remind­ed by an adver­tise­ment that I had promised to meet Richard­son, the pub­lish­er, at two. I looked at my watch, and saw that I could bare­ly save that engage­men. I got up and went down the pas­sage to tell the Time Trav­eller.

As I took hold of the han­dle of the door I heard an excla­ma­tion, odd­ly trun­cat­ed at the end, and a click and a thud. A gust of air whirled round me as I opened the door, and from with­in came the sound of bro­ken glass falling on the floor. The Time Trav­eller was not there. I seemed to see a ghost­ly, indis­tinct fig­ure sit­ting in a whirling mass of black and brass for a moment – a fig­ure so trans­par­ent that the bench behind with its sheets of draw­ings was absolute­ly dis­tinct; but this phan­tasm van­ished as I rubbed my eyes. The Time Machine had gone. Save for a sub­sid­ing stir of dust, the fur­ther end of the lab­o­ra­to­ry was emp­ty. A pane of the sky­light had, appar­ent­ly, just been blown in.

I felt an unrea­son­able amaze­ment. I knew that some­thing strange had hap­pened, and for the moment could not dis­tin­guish what the strange thing might be. As I stood star­ing, the door into the gar­den opened, and the man-ser­vant appeared.

We looked at each oth­er. Then ideas began to come. “Has Mr. – – gone out that way?” said I.

“No, sir. No one has come out this way. I was expect­ing to find him here.”

At that I under­stood. At the risk of dis­ap­point­ing Richard­son I stayed on, wait­ing for the Time Trav­eller; wait­ing for the sec­ond, per­haps still stranger sto­ry, and the spec­i­mens and pho­tographs he would bring with him. But I am begin­ning now to fear that I must wait a life­timet. The Time Trav­eller van­ished three years ago. And, as every­body knows now, he has nev­er returned.

One can­not choose but won­der. Will he ever return?

It may be that he swept back into the past, and fell among the blood-drink­ing, hairy sav­ages of the Age of Unpol­ished Stone; into the abysses of the Cre­ta­ceous Sea; or among the grotesque sauri­ans, the huge rep­til­ian brutes of the Juras­sic times. He may even now – if I may use the phrase – be wan­der­ing on some ple­siosaurus-haunt­ed Oolitic coral reef, or beside the lone­ly saline lakes of the Tri­as­sic Age. Or did he go for­ward, into one of the near­er ages, in which men are still men, but with the rid­dles of our own time answered and its weari­some prob­lems solved? Into the man­hood of the race: for I, for my own part can­not think that these lat­ter days of weak exper­i­ment, frag­men­tary the­o­ry, and mutu­al dis­cord are indeed man’s cul­mi­nat­ing time! I say, for my own part. He, I know – for the ques­tion had been dis­cussed among us long before the Time Machine was made – thought but cheer­less­ly of the Advance­ment of Mankind, and saw in the grow­ing pile of civ­i­liza­tion only a fool­ish heap­ing that must inevitably fall back upon and destroy its mak­ers in the end. If that is so, it remains for us to live as though it were not so. But to me the future is still black and blank – is a vast igno­rance, lit at a few casu­al places by the mem­o­ry of his sto­ry.

And I have by me, for my com­fort, two strange white flow­ers – shriv­elled now, and brown and flat and brit­tle – to wit­ness that even when mind and strength had gone, grat­i­tude and a mutu­al ten­der­ness still lived on in the heart of man.

to look into ⇒ To look at some­thing and observe what one sees.

prophe­cy ˈprɒfɪsi n Some­thing that is fore­told as if by super­nat­ur­al means: cast, ora­cle, fore­telling

hatch hæʧ v To devise or orig­i­nate.

asser­tion əˈsɜːʃ(ə)n n State­ment of some­thing as fact: dec­la­ra­tion, con­tention, alle­ga­tion

a stroke of art ⇒ A work of art.

to take up one’s pipe ⇒ To pull on one’s pipe.

grate greɪt n Frame­work of met­al bars in a fire­place, which holds the coal or wood: grill, grid, lat­tice

creak kriːk v To cause to emit a grat­ing or squeak­ing sound.

scrape skreɪp v To rub or slide harsh­ly against some­thing. to rub or slide harsh­ly against some­thing: grate, rasp

to take one’s eyes off some­one ⇒ To remove one’s eyes from.

con­tem­pla­tion ˌkɒn­tɛmˈ­pleɪʃən n Thought­ful obser­va­tion or study.

to look hard ⇒ To look with great atten­tion.

cig­ar sɪˈgɑː n A more or less cylin­dri­cal roll of tobac­co cured for smok­ing, of any of var­i­ous lengths, thick­ness­es, degrees of straight­ness, etc., usu­al­ly wrapped in a tobac­co leaf.

fum­ble ˈfʌm­bl v To touch ner­vous­ly or idly.

puff pʌf adj To pro­duce or send out small clouds of smoke or steam.

to tell you the truth ⇒ A for­mu­la used when mak­ing a con­fes­sion.

with­er ˈwɪðə v To lose fresh­ness: dry up, shriv­el

scar skɑː n Mark left on the skin after a sur­face injury has healed.

knuck­le ˈnʌkl n One of the joints con­nect­ing the fin­gers to the hand.

gynae­ceum ˌʤaɪnɪˈsiːəm pl gynae­cia ˌʤaɪnɪˈsiə n (Botan­i­cal) ; The female repro­duc­tive organs, the carpels of a flower tak­en col­lec­tive­ly: pis­tils

spec­i­men ˈspɛsɪmɪn n Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a group or class: case, exam­ple, instance, sam­ple

cab kæb n Any of var­i­ous horse-drawn vehi­cles, as a han­som or brougham, esp. one for pub­lic hire.

nat­ur­al order ⇒ In botany, the phrase ordo nat­u­ralis, “nat­ur­al order”, was once used for what today is a fam­i­ly.

elude ɪˈluːd v To fail to be fixed by the mind: escape, slip away

I’m damned if it isn’t all going ⇒ I swear all this is true.

at times ⇒ occa­sion­al­ly.

flare fleə v To shine or burn sud­den­ly and briefly: flame, glow

flick­er ˈflɪkə v Shine unsteadi­ly.

squat skwɒt adj Short, heavy, and solid­ly built: stub­by, chunky, stumpy

askew əsˈkjuː adv To one side: tilt­ed

brass brɑːs n Yel­low­ish alloy of cop­per and zinc, some­times includ­ing small amounts of oth­er met­als.

translu­cent trænzˈluːs­nt adj ­admit­ting light so that objects beyond can be seen: clear, trans­par­ent, limpid

glim­mer ˈglɪmə v Shine bright­ly, like a star or a light.

quartz kwɔːts n A hard, colour­less, trans­par­ent min­er­al sub­stance, used in mak­ing elec­tron­ic equip­ment and accu­rate watch­es and clocks.

smear smɪə v To spread (some­thing) over a sur­face.

bent awry ⇒ Turned toward one side; awry əˈraɪ adv In a posi­tion that is turned toward one side: askew

over­work ˈəʊvəwɜːk n Exces­sive or exces­sive­ly tir­ing work.

to bawl good night ⇒ To shout good night.

gaudy ˈgɔː­di adj Showy in a taste­less or vul­gar way.

for my own part ⇒ As far as I am con­cerned.

to come to a con­clu­sion ⇒ To reach a con­clu­sion.

cred­i­ble ˈkrɛdəbl adj Capa­ble of being believed.

sober ˈsəʊbə adj Not affect­ed by a chem­i­cal sub­stance, espe­cial­ly alco­hol.

to be on easy terms in the house ⇒ To be wel­come in the house.

lever ˈliːvə n Pro­ject­ing han­dle used to adjust or oper­ate a mech­a­nism.

squat skwɒt adj Short, heavy, and solid­ly built: stub­by, chunky, stumpy

sway sweɪ v To move back and forth or from side to side: weave, stag­ger, teeter, waver

bough baʊ n Large or main tree branch.

star­tle ˈstɑːtl v To sur­prise or fright­en some­one sud­den­ly but not seri­ous­ly: fright­en, scare, ter­ri­fy, alarm

queer kwɪə adj Devi­at­ing from the cus­tom­ary: strange, curi­ous, odd, pecu­liar, sin­gu­lar, quaint, weird

rem­i­nis­cence ˌrɛmɪˈnɪsns n An act of remem­ber­ing: mem­o­ry, rec­ol­lec­tion, remem­brance

med­dle ˈmɛdl v To inter­vene indis­creet­ly in the affairs of oth­ers: inter­fere

knap­sack ˈnæp­sæk n Bag made of stur­dy mate­r­i­al and fur­nished with shoul­der straps, designed for car­ry­ing arti­cles on the back.

hoax həʊks n Some­thing intend­ed to deceive or defraud: trick, decep­tion, fraud, prank

to wan­der about ⇒ To roam, rove.

it is very good of you ⇒ It is very kind of you.

up to the hilt ⇒ com­plete­ly.

spec­i­men ˈspɛsɪmɪn n Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a group or class: case, exam­ple, instance, sam­ple

import ɪmˈpɔːt n Mean­ing; impli­ca­tion.

to take up a paper ⇒ To take a paper and start read­ing it.

to save an engage­ment ⇒ To keep a promise.

excla­ma­tion ˌɛk­skləˈmeɪʃən n Word, or phrase that is spo­ken sud­den­ly, or loud­ly and that express­es excite­ment, shock, or anger.

trun­cate ˈtrʌŋkeɪt v To make short­er as if by cut­ting: short­en, crop, cur­tail, abbre­vi­ate

thud θʌd n Dull sound, as that of a heavy object strik­ing a sol­id sur­face.

a gust of ⇒ A sud­den rush of.

whirl wɜːl v To rotate rapid­ly: spin, swirl, twirl

indis­tinct ˌɪndɪsˈtɪŋkt adj Not clear­ly per­ceived: faint, vague, dim, obscure, hazy, shad­owy

brass brɑːs n Yel­low­ish alloy of cop­per and zinc, some­times includ­ing small amounts of oth­er met­als.

phan­tasm ˈfæn­tæzm n A ghost­ly appear­ing fig­ure.

sub­side səbˈsaɪd v To become less strong or loud.

pane peɪn n A pan­el or sec­tion of pan­els in a wall or door.

to blow in ⇒ To break.

to wait a life­time ⇒ To wait all your life, wait for a very long time.

abyss əˈbɪs n An immea­sur­ably pro­found depth.

Cre­ta­ceous krɪˈteɪʃəs adj From the geo­log­i­cal peri­od that last­ed from about 145 to 66 mil­lion years ago. It is the third and final peri­od of the Meso­zoic Era.

sauri­an ˈsɔːrɪən n Rep­tile of the class which includes the lizards.

rep­til­ian rɛpˈtɪlɪən adj Relat­ing to the cold-blood­ed class of ani­mals, such as a snake, lizard, croc­o­dile, etc.

brute bruːt n Sav­age ani­mal: beast

Juras­sic ʤʊˈræsɪk n A geo­log­ic peri­od and sys­tem that spanned 56 mil­lion years from the end of the Tri­as­sic Peri­od 201.3 mil­lion years ago to the begin­ning of the Cre­ta­ceous Peri­od 145 mil­lion years ago. The Juras­sic con­sti­tutes the mid­dle peri­od of the Meso­zoic Era, also known as the Age of Rep­tiles.

ple­siosaurus ˈpliːsɪəˈsɔ:rəs n Large extinct marine rep­tile hav­ing pad­dle­like limbs.

haunt­ed ˈhɔːn­tɪd v Inhab­it­ed by appari­tions or some­thing strange.

Oolitic ˌəʊəˈlɪtɪk adj Cosist­ing of sed­i­men­ta­ry rock made up of ooids (ooliths) that are cement­ed togeth­er.

saline səˈlaɪn adj Con­tain­ing salt.

Tri­as­sic traɪˈæsɪk n A geo­log­ic peri­od and sys­tem which spans 50.6 mil­lion years from the end of the Per­mi­an Peri­od 251.9 mil­lion years ago, to the begin­ning of the Juras­sic Peri­od 201.3 mil­lion years ago. The Tri­as­sic is the first and short­est peri­od of the Meso­zoic Era.

rid­dle ˈrɪdl n A dif­fi­cult ques­tion that is asked as a game and that has a sur­pris­ing or fun­ny answer.

weari­some ˈwɪərɪsəm adj Arous­ing no inter­est: dull, tedious, tire­some, irk­some, unin­ter­est­ing, bor­ing

dis­cord ˈdɪskɔːd v Lack of con­cord or har­mo­ny between per­sons or things:: dif­fi­cul­ty, con­flict, fric­tion, clash, strife

cul­mi­nate ˈkʌlmɪneɪt v To reach a cli­max: crown, cli­max, peak

heap hiːp v To gath­er on a large, dis­or­dered pile of things: pile

shriv­el ˈʃrɪvl v To become no longer fresh because of loss of mois­ture: dry up, with­er, sear, wiz­en

brit­tle ˈbrɪtl adj Eas­i­ly bro­ken: del­i­cate, frag­ile, fran­gi­ble

grat­i­tude ˈgrætɪtjuːd n A feel­ing of appre­ci­a­tion or thanks.

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