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.