The Time Machine — EN

The Machine

The thing the Time Trav­eller held in his hand was a glit­ter­ing metal­lic frame­work, scarce­ly larg­er than a small clock, and very del­i­cate­ly made. There was ivory in it, and some trans­par­ent crys­talline sub­stance. And now I must be explic­it, for this that fol­lows – unless his expla­na­tion is to be accept­ed – is an absolute­ly unac­count­able thing. He took one of the small octag­o­nal tables that were scat­tered about the room, and set it in front of the fire, with two legs on the hearthrug. On this table he placed the mech­a­nism. Then he drew up a chair, and sat down. The only oth­er object on the table was a small shad­ed lamp, the bright light of which fell upon the mod­el. There were also per­haps a dozen can­dles about, two in brass can­dle­sticks upon the man­tel and sev­er­al in sconces, so that the room was bril­liant­ly illu­mi­nat­ed. I sat in a low arm-chair near­est the fire, and I drew this for­ward so as to be almost between the Time Trav­eller and the fire­place. Fil­by sat behind him, look­ing over his shoul­der. The Med­ical Man and the Provin­cial May­or watched him in pro­file from the right, the Psy­chol­o­gist from the left.

The Very Young Man stood behind the Psy­chol­o­gist. We were all on the alert. It appears incred­i­ble to me that any kind of trick, how­ev­er sub­tly con­ceived and how­ev­er adroit­ly done, could have been played upon us under these con­di­tions.

The Time Trav­eller looked at us, and then at the mech­a­nism.

“Well?” said the Psy­chol­o­gist.

“This lit­tle affair,” said the Time Trav­eller, rest­ing his elbows upon the table and press­ing his hands togeth­er above the appa­ra­tus, “is only a mod­el. It is my plan for a machine to trav­el through time. You will notice that it looks sin­gu­lar­ly askew, and that there is an odd twin­kling appear­ance about this bar, as though it was in some way unre­al.” He point­ed to the part with his fin­ger. “Also, here is one lit­tle white lever, and here is anoth­er.”

The Med­ical Man got up out of his chair and peered into the thing. “It’s beau­ti­ful­ly made,” he said.

“It took two years to make,” retort­ed the Time Trav­eller.

Then, when we had all imi­tat­ed the action of the Med­ical Man, he said: “Now I want you clear­ly to under­stand that this lever, being pressed over, sends the machine glid­ing into the future, and this oth­er revers­es the motion. This sad­dle rep­re­sents the seat of a Time Trav­eller. Present­ly I am going to press the lever, and off the machine will go. It will van­ish, pass into future Time, and dis­ap­pear. Have a good look at the thing. Look at the table too, and sat­is­fy your­selves there is no trick­ery. I don’t want to waste this mod­el, and then be told I’m a quack.”

There was a minute’s pause per­haps. The Psy­chol­o­gist seemed about to speak to me, but changed his mind. Then the Time Trav­eller put forth his fin­ger towards the lever. “No,” he said sud­den­ly. “Lend me your hand.” And turn­ing to the Psy­chol­o­gist, he took that individual’s hand in his own and told him to put out his fore­fin­ger. So that it was the Psy­chol­o­gist him­self who sent forth the mod­el Time Machine on its inter­minable voy­age. We all saw the lever turn. I am absolute­ly cer­tain there was no trick­ery. There was a breath of wind, and the lamp flame jumped. One of the can­dles on the man­tel was blown out, and the lit­tle machine sud­den­ly swung round, became indis­tinct, was seen as a ghost for a sec­ond per­haps, as an eddy of faint­ly glit­ter­ing brass and ivory; and it was gone – van­ished! Save for the lamp the table was bare.

Every­one was silent for a minute. Then Fil­by said he was damned.

The Psy­chol­o­gist recov­ered from his stu­por, and sud­den­ly looked under the table. At that the Time Trav­eller laughed cheer­ful­ly. “Well?” he said, with a rem­i­nis­cence of the Psy­chol­o­gist. Then, get­ting up, he went to the tobac­co jar on the man­tel, and with his back to us began to fill his pipe.

We stared at each oth­er. “Look here,” said the Med­ical Man, “are you in earnest about this? Do you seri­ous­ly believe that that machine has trav­elled into time?”

“Cer­tain­ly,” said the Time Trav­eller, stoop­ing to light a spill at the fire. Then he turned, light­ing his pipe, to look at the Psychologist’s face. (The Psy­chol­o­gist, to show that he was not unhinged, helped him­self to a cig­ar and tried to light it uncut.) “What is more, I have a big machine near­ly fin­ished in there” – he indi­cat­ed the lab­o­ra­to­ry – “and when that is put togeth­er I mean to have a jour­ney on my own account.”

“You mean to say that that machine has trav­elled into the future?” said Fil­by.

“Into the future or the past – don’t, for cer­tain, know which.”

After an inter­val the Psy­chol­o­gist had an inspi­ra­tion. “It must have gone into the past if it has gone any­where,” he said.

“Why?” said the Time Trav­eller.

“Because I pre­sume that it has not moved in space, and if it trav­elled into the future it would still be here all this time, since it must have trav­elled through this time.”

“But,” I said, “If it trav­elled into the past it would have been vis­i­ble when we came first into this room; and last Thurs­day when we were here; and the Thurs­day before that; and so forth!”

“Seri­ous objec­tions,” remarked the Provin­cial May­or, with an air of impar­tial­i­ty, turn­ing towards the Time Trav­eller.

“Not a bit,” said the Time Trav­eller, and, to the Psy­chol­o­gist:

“You think. You can explain that. It’s pre­sen­ta­tion below the thresh­old, you know, dilut­ed pre­sen­ta­tion.”

“Of course,” said the Psy­chol­o­gist, and reas­sured us. “That’s a sim­ple point of psy­chol­o­gy. I should have thought of it. It’s plain enough, and helps the para­dox delight­ful­ly. We can­not see it, nor can we appre­ci­ate this machine, any more than we can the spoke of a wheel spin­ning, or a bul­let fly­ing through the air. If it is trav­el­ling through time fifty times or a hun­dred times faster than we are, if it gets through a minute while we get through a sec­ond, the impres­sion it cre­ates will of course be only one-fifti­eth or one-hun­dredth of what it would make if it were not trav­el­ling in time. That’s plain enough.” He passed his hand through the space in which the machine had been. “You see?” he said, laugh­ing.

We sat and stared at the vacant table for a minute or so. Then the Time Trav­eller asked us what we thought of it all.

“It sounds plau­si­ble enough tonight,” said the Med­ical Man; “but wait until tomor­row. Wait for the com­mon sense of the morn­ing.”

“Would you like to see the Time Machine itself?” asked the Time Trav­eller. And there­with, tak­ing the lamp in his hand, he led the way down the long, draughty cor­ri­dor to his lab­o­ra­to­ry. I remem­ber vivid­ly the flick­er­ing light, his queer, broad head in sil­hou­ette, the dance of the shad­ows, how we all fol­lowed him, puz­zled but incred­u­lous, and how there in the lab­o­ra­to­ry we beheld a larg­er edi­tion of the lit­tle mech­a­nism which we had seen van­ish from before our eyes. Parts were of nick­el, parts of ivory, parts had cer­tain­ly been filed or sawn out of rock crys­tal. The thing was gen­er­al­ly com­plete, but the twist­ed crys­talline bars lay unfin­ished upon the bench beside some sheets of draw­ings, and I took one up for a bet­ter look at it. Quartz it seemed to be.

“Look here,” said the Med­ical Man, “are you per­fect­ly seri­ous? Or is this a trick – like that ghost you showed us last Christ­mas?”

“Upon that machine,” said the Time Trav­eller, hold­ing the lamp aloft, “I intend to explore time. Is that plain? I was nev­er more seri­ous in my life.”

None of us quite knew how to take it.

I caught Filby’s eye over the shoul­der of the Med­ical Man, and he winked at me solemn­ly.

glit­ter ˈglɪtə v Pro­duce a lot of small, bright flash­es of reflect­ed light.

scarce­ly ˈskeəs­li adv Bare­ly; hard­ly; not quite, almost not.

crys­talline ˈkrɪstəlaɪn adj Of or like crys­tal: clear; trans­par­ent

explic­it ɪksˈ­plɪsɪt adj Clear­ly and ful­ly expressed: spe­cif­ic, def­i­nite, pre­cise

unac­count­able ˌʌnəˈkaʊn­təbl adj Impos­si­ble to account for; unex­plained; inex­plic­a­ble.

octag­o­nal ɒkˈtægənl adj Hav­ing eight angles and eight sides.

hearthrug ˈhɑːθrʌg n Rug laid on a floor in front of a fire­place.

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

can­dle­stick ˈkændl­stɪk n An object with sock­ets or spikes for hold­ing can­dles.

man­tel ˈmæntl n The pro­trud­ing shelf over a fire­place: fire­board, man­tel­piece, man­telshelf

sconce skɒns n Dec­o­ra­tive wall brack­et for hold­ing can­dles.

illu­mi­nate ɪˈljuːmɪneɪt v To make lighter or brighter; to sup­ply or bright­en with light; light up.

fire­place ˈfaɪəˌ­pleɪs n The part of a chim­ney that opens into a room and in which fuel is burned: hearth

Provin­cial May­or ⇒ The head of a province gov­ern­ment.

to be on the alert ⇒ Be on one’s guard.

sub­tle ˈsʌtl adj So slight as to be dif­fi­cult to notice: fine, del­i­cate, refined

adroit­ly əˈdrɔɪtli adv Skill­ful­ly per­form­ing: art­ful­ly, mas­ter­ly, dex­ter­ous­ly

sin­gu­lar­ly askew ⇒ Tilt­ed in a pecu­liar way.

twin­kle ˈtwɪŋkl v To shine with slight inter­mit­tent gleams: flash, glis­ten, glint, glit­ter, sparkle

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

to peer into ⇒ To pry into, peep; gaze at.

retort rɪˈtɔːt v Respond in a quick, clever or humor­ous way: come back, repay, return, riposte, rejoin

glide glaɪd v To move gen­tly and slow­ly into place: slip, slide, ease

sad­dle ˈsædl n The seat of a bicy­cle, motor­cy­cle, or sim­i­lar vehi­cle.

and off the machine will go ⇒ And the machine will start work­ing.

to have a look ⇒ Look at with atten­tion.

to sat­is­fy one­self ⇒ To assure or con­vince one­self

trick­ery ˈtrɪkəri n The activ­i­ty of using tricks to deceive or cheat peo­ple.

quack kwæk n A shar­la­tan.

to be about to do some­thing ⇒ To be going to do some­thing very soon.

fore­fin­ger ˈfɔːˌfɪŋgə n The fin­ger next to the thumb.

inter­minable ɪnˈtɜːmɪnəbl adj Monot­o­nous­ly or annoy­ing­ly pro­tract­ed or con­tin­ued; unend­ing, unceas­ing, inces­sant.

voy­age ˈvɔɪɪʤ n A jour­ney, trav­el, or pas­sage, espe­cial­ly one to a dis­tant land or by sea or air: jour­ney

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

eddy ˈɛdi v A minia­ture cur­rent at vari­ance with the main cur­rent in a stream of water or air, usu­al­ly hav­ing a rotary or whirling motion: twist; whirl

stu­por ˈstjuːpə n The feel­ing of dis­tress and dis­be­lief that you have when some­thing bad hap­pens acci­den­tal­ly: daze, shock

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

are you in earnest ⇒ Are you seri­ous; do you real­ly mean it.

stoop stuːp v To walk with the head and upper back bent for­ward.

spill spɪl n Piece of wood or rolled paper used to light a fire.

unhinge ʌnˈhɪnʤ v To derange; unbal­ance.

cig­ar sɪˈgɑːr 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.

uncut ʌnˈkʌt adj Not trimmed, not cut. (The tip of the cig­ar must be trimmed before it is light­ed).

to put togeth­er ⇒ To make some­thing by join­ing all its parts.

on one’s own account ⇒ On one’s own; on one’s behalf; inde­pen­dent­ly.

pre­sume prɪˈzjuːm v To take for grant­ed as being true in the absence of proof to the con­trary.

and so forth ⇒ And so on; et cetera.

objec­tion əbˈʤɛkʃən n A rea­son for dis­agree­ing with or oppos­ing some­thing

Provin­cial May­or ⇒ The head of a province gov­ern­ment.

with an air of ⇒ With an expres­sion or appear­ance of.

impar­tial­i­ty ɪmˌpɑːʃɪˈælɪti n The state of being free from bias in judg­ment: fair­ness, objec­tive­ness, square­ness

dilut­ed daɪˈljuːtɪd adj Reduced in strength or con­cen­tra­tion or qual­i­ty or puri­ty.

reas­sure ˌriːəˈʃʊə v To assure again and restore con­fi­dence.

spoke spəʊk n One of the rods con­nect­ing the hub and rim of a wheel.

vacant ˈveɪkənt adj Con­tain­ing noth­ing; emp­ty.

or so ⇒ (of quan­ti­ties) Impre­cise but fair­ly close to.

plau­si­ble ˈplɔːzəbl adj Wor­thy of being believed: cred­i­ble, believ­able

there­with ðeəˈwɪθ adv In addi­tion to; right after that.

draughty ˈdrɑːfti adj Exposed to drafts of air.

vivid­ly ˈvɪvɪdli adv In a way that is very clear, pow­er­ful, and detailed in your mind.

flick­er ˈflɪkə v Shine unsteadi­ly.

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

sil­hou­ette ˌsɪlu(ː)ˈɛt n An out­line of a sol­id object (as cast by its shad­ow).

incred­u­lous ɪnˈkrɛd­jʊləs adj Refus­ing to believe: skep­ti­cal, unbe­liev­ing

behold bɪˈhəʊld pp, pt beheld bɪˈhɛld v To appre­hend (images) by use of the eyes: see, per­ceive

saw sɔː pt sawed, pp sawn sɔːn v To form by cut­ting with a tool for cut­ting, typ­i­cal­ly a thin blade of met­al with a series of sharp teeth.

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

to hold some­thing aloft ⇒ To hold some­thing (high) in the air.

take teɪk v Inter­pret some­thing in a cer­tain way.

to catch someone’s eye ⇒ To meet the eyes of.

wink wɪŋk v To close and open one or both eyes quick­ly show­ing friend­li­ness, sex­u­al inter­est, etc., or that you are not seri­ous about some­thing you have said.

solemn­ly ˈsɒləm­li adj Seri­ous­ly and with­out any humour.

Thanks! You've already liked this