The Time Machine — EN

III
The Time Traveller Returns

I think that at that time none of us quite believed in the Time Machine. The fact is, the Time Trav­eller was one of those men who are too clever to be believed: you nev­er felt that you saw all round him; you always sus­pect­ed some sub­tle reserve, some inge­nu­ity in ambush, behind his lucid frank­ness. Had Fil­by shown the mod­el and explained the mat­ter in the Time Traveller’s words, we should have shown him far less scep­ti­cism. For we should have per­ceived his motives; a pork butch­er could under­stand Fil­by. But the Time Trav­eller had more than a touch of whim among his ele­ments, and we dis­trust­ed him. Things that would have made the frame of a less clever man seemed tricks in his hands. It is a mis­take to do things too eas­i­ly. The seri­ous peo­ple who took him seri­ous­ly nev­er felt quite sure of his deport­ment; they were some­how aware that trust­ing their rep­u­ta­tions for judg­ment with him was like fur­nish­ing a nurs­ery with egg-shell chi­na. So I don’t think any of us said very much about time trav­el­ling in the inter­val between that Thurs­day and the next, though its odd poten­tial­i­ties ran, no doubt, in most of our minds: its plau­si­bil­i­ty, that is, its prac­ti­cal incred­i­ble­ness, the curi­ous pos­si­bil­i­ties of anachro­nism and of utter con­fu­sion it sug­gest­ed. For my own part, I was par­tic­u­lar­ly pre­oc­cu­pied with the trick of the mod­el. That I remem­ber dis­cussing with the Med­ical Man, whom I met on Fri­day at the Lin­naean. He said he had seen a sim­i­lar thing at Tub­in­gen, and laid con­sid­er­able stress on the blow­ing out of the can­dle. But how the trick was done he could not explain.

The next Thurs­day I went again to Rich­mond – sup­pose I was one of the Time Traveller’s most con­stant guests – and, arriv­ing late, found four or five men already assem­bled in his draw­ing-room. The Med­ical Man was stand­ing before the fire with a sheet of paper in one hand and his watch in the oth­er. I looked round for the Time Trav­eller, and – “It’s half-past sev­en now,” said the Med­ical Man. “I sup­pose we’d bet­ter have din­ner?”

“Where’s – –?” said I, nam­ing our host.

“You’ve just come? It’s rather odd. He’s unavoid­ably detained. He asks me in this note to lead off with din­ner at sev­en if he’s not back. Says he’ll explain when he comes.”

“It seems a pity to let the din­ner spoil,” said the Edi­tor of a well-known dai­ly paper; and there­upon the Doc­tor rang the bell.

The Psy­chol­o­gist was the only per­son besides the Doc­tor and myself who had attend­ed the pre­vi­ous din­ner. The oth­er men were Blank, the Edi­tor afore­men­tioned, a cer­tain jour­nal­ist, and anoth­er – a qui­et, shy man with a beard – whom I didn’t know, and who, as far as my obser­va­tion went, nev­er opened his mouth all the evening. There was some spec­u­la­tion at the din­ner-table about the Time Traveller’s absence, and I sug­gest­ed time trav­el­ling, in a half-joc­u­lar spir­it. The Edi­tor want­ed that explained to him, and the Psy­chol­o­gist vol­un­teered a wood­en account of the “inge­nious para­dox and trick” we had wit­nessed that day week. He was in the midst of his expo­si­tion when the door from the cor­ri­dor opened slow­ly and with­out noise. I was fac­ing the door, and saw it first. “Hal­lo!” I said. “At last!” And the door opened wider, and the Time Trav­eller stood before us. I gave a cry of sur­prise. “Good heav­ens! man, what’s the mat­ter?” cried the Med­ical Man, who saw him next. And the whole table­ful turned towards the door.

He was in an amaz­ing plight. His coat was dusty and dirty, and smeared with green down the sleeves; his hair dis­or­dered, and as it seemed to me grey­er – either with dust and dirt or because its colour had actu­al­ly fad­ed. His face was ghast­ly pale; his chin had a brown cut on it – a cut half healed; his expres­sion was hag­gard and drawn, as by intense suf­fer­ing. For a moment he hes­i­tat­ed in the door­way, as if he had been daz­zled by the light. Then he came into the room. He walked with just such a limp as I have seen in foot­sore tramps. We stared at him in silence, expect­ing him to speak.

He said not a word, but came painful­ly to the table, and made a motion towards the wine. The Edi­tor filled a glass of cham­pagne, and pushed it towards him. He drained it, and it seemed to do him good: for he looked round the table, and the ghost of his old smile flick­ered across his face. “What on earth have you been up to, man?” said the Doc­tor. The Time Trav­eller did not seem to hear. “Don’t let me dis­turb you,” he said, with a cer­tain fal­ter­ing artic­u­la­tion. “I’m all right.” He stopped, held out his glass for more, and took it off at a draught. “That’s good,” he said. His eyes grew brighter, and a faint colour came into his cheeks. His glance flick­ered over our faces with a cer­tain dull approval, and then went round the warm and com­fort­able room. Then he spoke again, still as it were feel­ing his way among his words. “I’m going to wash and dress, and then I’ll come down and explain things… Save me some of that mut­ton. I’m starv­ing for a bit of meat.”

He looked across at the Edi­tor, who was a rare vis­i­tor, and hoped he was all right. The Edi­tor began a ques­tion. “Tell you present­ly,” said the Time Trav­eller. “I’m – fun­ny! Be all right in a minute.”

He put down his glass, and walked towards the stair­case door.

Again I remarked his lame­ness and the soft padding sound of his foot­fall, and stand­ing up in my place, I saw his feet as he went out. He had noth­ing on them but a pair of tat­tered blood-stained socks. Then the door closed upon him. I had half a mind to fol­low, till I remem­bered how he detest­ed any fuss about him­self. For a minute, per­haps, my mind was wool-gath­er­ing. Then, “Remark­able Behav­iour of an Emi­nent Sci­en­tist,” I heard the Edi­tor say, think­ing (after his wont) in head­lines. And this brought my atten­tion back to the bright din­ner-table.

“What’s the game?” said the Jour­nal­ist. “Has he been doing the Ama­teur Cadger? I don’t fol­low.” I met the eye of the Psy­chol­o­gist, and read my own inter­pre­ta­tion in his face. I thought of the Time Trav­eller limp­ing painful­ly upstairs. I don’t think any one else had noticed his lame­ness.

The first to recov­er com­plete­ly from this sur­prise was the Med­ical Man, who rang the bell – the Time Trav­eller hat­ed to have ser­vants wait­ing at din­ner – for a hot plate. At that the Edi­tor turned to his knife and fork with a grunt, and the Silent Man fol­lowed suit. The din­ner was resumed. Con­ver­sa­tion was exclam­a­to­ry for a lit­tle while, with gaps of won­der­ment; and then the Edi­tor got fer­vent in his curios­i­ty. “Does our friend eke out his mod­est income with a cross­ing? or has he his Neb­uchad­nez­zar phas­es?” he inquired. “I feel assured it’s this busi­ness of the Time Machine,” I said, and took up the Psychologist’s account of our pre­vi­ous meet­ing. The new guests were frankly incred­u­lous. The Edi­tor raised objec­tions. “What was this time trav­el­ling? A man couldn’t cov­er him­self with dust by rolling in a para­dox, could he?” And then, as the idea came home to him, he resort­ed to car­i­ca­ture. Hadn’t they any clothes-brush­es in the Future? The Jour­nal­ist too, would not believe at any price, and joined the Edi­tor in the easy work of heap­ing ridicule on the whole thing. They were both the new kind of jour­nal­ist – very joy­ous, irrev­er­ent young men. “Our Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent in the Day after Tomor­row reports,” the Jour­nal­ist was say­ing – or rather shout­ing – when the Time Trav­eller came back. He was dressed in ordi­nary evening clothes, and noth­ing save his hag­gard look remained of the change that had star­tled me.

“I say,” said the Edi­tor hilar­i­ous­ly, “these chaps here say you have been trav­el­ling into the mid­dle of next week! Tell us all about lit­tle Rose­bery, will you? What will you take for the lot?”

The Time Trav­eller came to the place reserved for him with­out a word. He smiled qui­et­ly, in his old way. “Where’s my mut­ton?” he said. “What a treat it is to stick a fork into meat again!

“Sto­ry!” cried the Edi­tor.

Sto­ry be damned!” said the Time Trav­eller. “I want some­thing to eat. I won’t say a word until I get some pep­tone into my arter­ies. Thanks. And the salt.”

“One word,” said I. “Have you been time trav­el­ling?”

“Yes,” said the Time Trav­eller, with his mouth full, nod­ding his head.

I’d give a shilling a line for a ver­ba­tim note,” said the Edi­tor. The Time Trav­eller pushed his glass towards the Silent Man and rang it with his fin­ger­nail; at which the Silent Man, who had been star­ing at his face, start­ed con­vul­sive­ly, and poured him wine. The rest of the din­ner was uncom­fort­able. For my own part, sud­den ques­tions kept on ris­ing to my lips, and I dare say it was the same with the oth­ers. The Jour­nal­ist tried to relieve the ten­sion by telling anec­dotes of Het­tie Pot­ter. The Time Trav­eller devot­ed his atten­tion to his din­ner, and dis­played the appetite of a tramp. The Med­ical Man smoked a cig­a­rette, and watched the Time Trav­eller through his eye­lash­es. The Silent Man seemed even more clum­sy than usu­al, and drank cham­pagne with reg­u­lar­i­ty and deter­mi­na­tion out of sheer ner­vous­ness. At last the Time Trav­eller pushed his plate away, and looked round us. “I sup­pose I must apol­o­gize,” he said. “I was sim­ply starv­ing.

I’ve had a most amaz­ing time.” He reached out his hand for a cig­ar, and cut the end. “But come into the smok­ing-room. It’s too long a sto­ry to tell over greasy plates.” And ring­ing the bell in pass­ing, he led the way into the adjoin­ing room.

“You have told Blank, and Dash, and Chose about the machine?” he said to me, lean­ing back in his easy-chair and nam­ing the three new guests.

“But the thing’s a mere para­dox,” said the Edi­tor.

“I can’t argue tonight. I don’t mind telling you the sto­ry, but I can’t argue. I will,” he went on, “tell you the sto­ry of what has hap­pened to me, if you like, but you must refrain from inter­rup­tions. I want to tell it. Bad­ly. Most of it will sound like lying. So be it! It’s true – every word of it, all the same. I was in my lab­o­ra­to­ry at four o’clock, and since then… I’ve lived eight days… such days as no human being ever lived before! I’m near­ly worn out, but I shan’t sleep till I’ve told this thing over to you. Then I shall go to bed. But no inter­rup­tions! Is it agreed?”

“Agreed,” said the Edi­tor, and the rest of us echoed “Agreed.”

And with that the Time Trav­eller began his sto­ry as I have set it forth. He sat back in his chair at first, and spoke like a weary man. After­wards he got more ani­mat­ed. In writ­ing it down I feel with only too much keen­ness the inad­e­qua­cy of pen and ink – and, above all, my own inad­e­qua­cy – to express its qual­i­ty. You read, I will sup­pose, atten­tive­ly enough; but you can­not see the speaker’s white, sin­cere face in the bright cir­cle of the lit­tle lamp, nor hear the into­na­tion of his voice. You can­not know how his expres­sion fol­lowed the turns of his sto­ry! Most of us hear­ers were in shad­ow, for the can­dles in the smok­ing-room had not been light­ed, and only the face of the Jour­nal­ist and the legs of the Silent Man from the knees down­ward were illu­mi­nat­ed. At first we glanced now and again at each oth­er. After a time we ceased to do that, and looked only at the Time Traveller’s face.

inge­nu­ity ˌɪnʤɪˈnju(ː)ɪti n The qual­i­ty of being clever, orig­i­nal, and inven­tive.

in ambush ⇒ In wait in a con­cealed posi­tion­with an inten­tion to make a sur­prise attack on some­one.

lucid ˈluːsɪd adj Free from what obscures or dims: clear, trans­par­ent, limpid

butch­er ˈbʊʧə n One that slaugh­ters and dress­es ani­mals for food or mar­ket.

more than a touch of whim ⇒ More than just a freak.

the frame of ⇒ A men­tal or phys­i­cal con­di­tion.

deport­ment dɪˈpɔːt­mənt n The man­ner in which one behaves: way, behav­iour, con­duct, actions

egg-shell chi­na ⇒ Chi­nese porce­lain char­ac­ter­ized by an exces­sive­ly thin body under the glaze; chi­na ˈʧaɪnə n Dish­ware made of high qual­i­ty porce­lain.

plau­si­bil­i­ty ˌplɔːzəˈbɪlɪti n Wor­thi­ness of being believed.

anachro­nism əˈnækrənɪzm n Some­thing locat­ed at a time when it could not have exist­ed or occurred.

utter ˈʌtə adj Com­plete and absolute

pre­oc­cu­pied pri(ː)ˈɒkjʊpaɪd adj Com­plete­ly engrossed in thought: absorbed

The Lin­nean Soci­ety of Lon­don ⇒ A learned soci­ety ded­i­cat­ed to the study and dis­sem­i­na­tion of infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing nat­ur­al his­to­ry and evo­lu­tion.

Tub­in­gen ⇒ A tra­di­tion­al uni­ver­si­ty town in cen­tral Baden-Würt­tem­berg, Ger­many.

Rich­mond upon Thames ⇒ South­west Lon­don Bor­ough home to the Nation­al Phys­i­cal Lab­o­ra­to­ry, The Nation­al Archives and Roy­al Botan­ic Gar­dens.

to look round for ⇒ To be in search for.

unavoid­able ˌʌnəˈvɔɪdəbl adj Sure to hap­pen: cer­tain, inevitable, inescapable

detain dɪˈteɪn v To main­tain restrain­ing con­trol and pos­ses­sion of: hold, hold up

to lead off ⇒ To make a start, to open.

spoil spɔːɪl v To become bad, or unfit for use: decay

there­upon ˈðeərəˈpɒn v Then; imme­di­ate­ly.

afore­men­tioned əˌfɔːˈmɛnʃənd adj Men­tioned ear­li­er: above­men­tioned, afore­named, afore­said

as far as some­thing goes ⇒ As for, so far as some­thing is con­cerned.

spec­u­la­tion ˌspɛkjʊˈleɪʃən n A mes­sage express­ing an opin­ion based on incom­plete evi­dence: guess, con­jec­ture, sup­po­si­tion, sur­mise, sur­misal, hypoth­e­sis

joc­u­lar ˈʤɒkjʊlə adj Char­ac­ter­ized by jokes and good humour.

vol­un­teer ˌvɒlənˈtɪər v To put before anoth­er for accep­tance: offer, present, ten­der

inge­nious ɪnˈʤiːniəs adj Very smart or clever.

hal­lo həˈləʊ int Used as a greet­ing.

at last ⇒ After a long wait; final­ly.

what’s the mat­ter? ⇒ What’s up, what’s the prob­lem?

table­ful ˈteɪblfʊl n The num­ber of per­sons that can be seat­ed at a table.

plight plaɪt n Sit­u­a­tion, espe­cial­ly a bad or unfor­tu­nate one.

smear smɪə v To spread some­thing over a sur­face.

ghast­ly ˈgɑːstli adj Very shock­ing or hor­ri­ble.

hag­gard ˈhægəd adj Pale,tired and exhaust­ed because of great hunger, wor­ry, sleep­less­ness, pain, etc.: gaunt, wan, care­worn, worn

daz­zle ˈdæ­zl v To dim the vision of, espe­cial­ly to blind with intense light: daze, bedaz­zle

limp lɪmp n Slow and awk­ward way of walk­ing caused by an injury to a leg or foot.

foot­sore ˈfʊt­sɔː adj Hav­ing sore or tired feet, as from too much walk­ing.

tramp træmp n Walk­ing trip.

cham­pagne ʃæmˈpeɪn n White sparkling wine either pro­duced in Cham­pagne wine region in France or resem­bling that pro­duced there.

flick­er ˈflɪkə v Shine unsteadi­ly.

what on earth have you been up to ⇒ what for God’s sake has hap­pened to you.

fal­ter­ing ˈfɔːltərɪŋ adj Hes­i­tat­ing, uncer­tain, stag­ger­ing.

artic­u­la­tion ɑːˌtɪkjʊˈleɪʃ(ə)n n The act of say­ing some­thing in a way that can be clear­ly under­stood.

to take a glass off at a draught ⇒ To drink every­thing that is in a glass at a sin­gle gulp.

dull dʌl adj Not clear and loud.

mut­ton ˈmʌtn n Flesh of ful­ly grown sheep.

starve stɑːv v To die or per­ish from lack of food or nour­ish­ment.

lame­ness ˈleɪm­nɪs n Dis­abil­i­ty of walk­ing due to crip­pling of the legs or feet.

pad pæd v To line or stuff with soft mate­r­i­al.

foot­fall ˈfʊt­fɔːl n The sound made by some­one walk­ing each time he takes a step.

tat­tered ˈtætəd adj Worn or with hang­ing pieces of cloth.

blood-stained ⇒ Made dirty with spots of blood.

to have half a mind to ⇒ To be almost ready to.

detest dɪˈtɛst v To feel abhor­rence of or dis­like intense­ly: hate

fuss fʌs n Need­less­ly ner­vous or use­less activ­i­ty or agi­ta­tion: com­mo­tion

wool-gath­er­ing ⇒ Absent-mind­ed, with one’s head in the clouds; indul­gence in fan­ci­ful day­dreams.

emi­nent ˈɛmɪnənt adj Stand­ing above oth­ers in qual­i­ty, height or posi­tion.

wont wəʊnt n An estab­lished cus­tom: habit

cadger ˈkæʤə n Some­one who tries to get his liv­ing by trick­ery or beg­ging: beg­ger

limp lɪmp v To walk in a slow and awk­ward way because of an injury to a leg or foot.

grunt grʌnt n Low, indis­tinct utter­ance of com­plaint: mur­mur, grum­ble, mut­ter

to fol­low suit ⇒ To play a card of the same suit as the one led; (here) To do as anoth­er has done; fol­low an exam­ple.

exclam­a­to­ry ɛksˈk­læmətəri adj Con­tain­ing, relat­ing to, or using excla­ma­tion.

won­der­ment ˈwʌndəmənt n Aston­ish­ment, awe, puz­zle­ment.

fer­vent ˈfɜːvənt adv Hav­ing or show­ing great warmth or inten­si­ty of spir­it, feel­ing, enthu­si­asm, etc.: ardent

to eke out ⇒ To sup­ple­ment what is scanty so as to make up or sup­ply defi­cien­cies.

cross­ing ˈkrɒsɪŋ n The process of cross­breed­ing; hybri­dization.

Neb­uchad­nez­zar phas­es ⇒ Neb­uchad­nez­zar (604? – 561 B. C.) a king of Baby­lo­nia and con­queror of Jerusalem; Neb­uchad­nez­zar is in ref­er­ence to the baby­lon­ian king who was trans­formed into a beast after los­ing his king­dom (Daniel 2:2–28).

to take up a sto­ry ⇒ To begin telling a sto­ry after some­one else has start­ed it.

incred­u­lous ɪnˈkrɛd­jʊləs adj Refus­ing or reluc­tant to believe: skep­ti­cal, unbe­liev­ing, dis­be­liev­ing, ques­tion­ing

objec­tion əbˈʤɛkʃən n A rea­son for dis­agree­ing with or oppos­ing some­thing

an idea comes home to some­one ⇒ To under­stand, to grasp; to become con­scious of.

at any price ⇒ On no account, by no means.

to heap ridicule on ⇒ To beset some­one with ridicules.

irrev­er­ent ɪˈrɛvərənt adj Lack­ing or exhibit­ing a lack of rev­er­ence: dis­re­spect­ful

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

hilar­i­ous­ly hɪˈleərɪəs­li adv In a very fun­ny man­ner: uproar­i­ous­ly

chap ʧæp n A man or boy; a fel­low.

lit­tle Rose­bery ⇒ An allu­sion to Lord Rose­bery (1847 – 1929) Prime Min­is­ter of Eng­land for a short time from March 1894 to June 1895. In 1894, his race­horse, Ladas, per­formed the remark­able feat of win­ning three major races. The epi­thet “lit­tle” derives from Rosebery’s boy­ish appear­ance. The Edi­tor wants rac­ing tips and polit­i­cal infor­ma­tion based on the Time Traveller’s “inside” knowl­edge of the future.

what a treat it is to do some­thing ⇒ What a plea­sure it is to do some­thing

Sto­ry be damned! ⇒ I don’t care a bit about the sto­ry.

to get a pep­tone into on one’s arter­ies ⇒ To eat some­thing; pep­toneˈpɛp­təʊn n A com­pound obtained by acid or enzyme hydrol­y­sis of nat­ur­al pro­tein and used as nutri­ents in cul­ture media.

I’d give a shilling a line ⇒ I’m ready to pay a shilling for each line.

ver­ba­tim vɜːˈbeɪtɪm adj Employ­ing the very same words as anoth­er: ver­bal, lit­er­al, word-for-word

con­vul­sive­ly kənˈvʌl­sɪvli adv Spas­mod­i­cal­ly.

keep on ⇒ To remain in a place or posi­tion or main­tain a prop­er­ty or fea­ture.

ten­sion ˈtɛnʃən n Men­tal, emo­tion­al, or ner­vous strain: pres­sure, stress, strain

tramp træmp n One who trav­els aim­less­ly about on foot, doing odd jobs or beg­ging for a liv­ing: vagrant

eye­lash ˈaɪlæʃ n Any of the short hairs fring­ing the edge of the eye­lid.

clum­sy ˈklʌmzi adj Lack­ing phys­i­cal coor­di­na­tion, skill, or grace: awk­ward

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.

greasy ˈgriːzi adj Coat­ed with grease: oily, oleagi­nous

adjoin­ing əˈʤɔɪnɪŋ adj Being con­tigu­ous or next to: touch­ing, neigh­bor­ing, bound­ing, bor­der­ing

I don’t mind doing some­thing ⇒ I’m not opposed to doing some­thing

refrain form rɪˈfreɪn fɔːm v To hold back from doing some­thing.

worn out ⇒ Very tired, absolute­ly exhaust­ed.

to set forth ⇒ To make some­thing known, state clear­ly and in detail.

weary ˈwɪəri adj Phys­i­cal­ly or men­tal­ly tired or exhaust­ed.

inad­e­qua­cy ɪnˈædɪk­wəsi n The con­di­tion of being inca­pable of accom­plish­ing or effect­ing any­thing: inef­fec­tive­ness, inca­pa­bil­i­ty

sin­cere sɪnˈsɪə adj Free of deceit, hypocrisy, or false­ness: earnest

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

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