The Time Traveller’s Return
“So I came back. For a long time I must have been insensible upon the machine. The blinking succession of the days and nights was resumed, the sun got golden again, the sky blue. I breathed with greater freedom. The fluctuating contours of the land ebbed and flowed. The hands spun backward upon the dials. At last I saw again the dim shadows of houses, the evidences of decadent humanity. These, too, changed and passed, and others came. Presently, when the million dial was at zero, I slackened speed. I began to recognize our own petty and familiar architecture, the thousands hand ran back to the starting-point, the night and day flapped slower and slower. Then the old walls of the laboratory came round me. Very gently, now, I slowed the mechanism down.
“I saw one little thing that seemed odd to me. I think I have told you that when I set out, before my velocity became very high, Mrs. Watchett had walked across the room, travelling, as it seemed to me, like a rocket. As I returned, I passed again across that minute when she traversed the laboratory. But now her every motion appeared to be the exact inversion of her previous ones. The door at the lower end opened, and she glided quietly up the laboratory, back foremost, and disappeared behind the door by which she had previously entered. Just before that I seemed to see Hillyer for a moment; but he passed like a flash.
“Then I stopped the machine, and saw about me again the old familiar laboratory, my tools, my appliances just as I had left them. I got off the thing very shaky, and sat down upon my bench. For several minutes I trembled violently. Then I became calmer. Around me was my old workshop again, exactly as it had been. I might have slept there, and the whole thing have been a dream.
“And yet, not exactly! The thing had started from the south-east corner of the laboratory. It had come to rest again in the north-west, against the wall where you saw it. That gives you the exact distance from my little lawn to the pedestal of the White Sphinx, into which the Morlocks had carried my machine.
“For a time my brain went stagnant. Presently I got up and came through the passage here, limping, because my heel was still painful, and feeling sorely begrimed. I saw the Pall Mall Gazette on the table by the door. I found the date was indeed today, and looking at the timepiece, saw the hour was almost eight o’clock. I heard your voices and the clatter of plates. I hesitated – I felt so sick and weak. Then I sniffed good wholesome meat, and opened the door on you. You know the rest. I washed, and dined, and now I am telling you the story.
succession səkˈsɛʃən n Way in which things follow each other: order, sequence, procession, consecution
fluctuate ˈflʌktjʊeɪt v To vary irregularly: wave
to ebb and flow ⇒ (of the tide) To rise and flow back from the land to the sea.
ebb ɛb v To move back or away from a point: retreat, recede, retract
flow fləʊ v To rise (used of the tide); to come forth in abundance: stream, surge, well
hand hænd n Any of the rotating pointers used as indexes on the face of a mechanical clock or dial.
to spin backwards ⇒ To whirl anticlockwise.
at last ⇒ After a long wait; finally.
decadent ˈdɛkədənt adj Having low morals and a great love of pleasure, money, fame, etc.
slack slæk v To make slower; to slow down.
petty ˈpɛti n Inferior in rank or status.
flap flæp v To move (wings, arms, etc): beat, wave, flop, flutter, waggle
to set out ⇒ To start.
velocity vɪˈlɒsɪti n Rapidity of motion or operation: swiftness; speed
traverse ˈtrævə(ː)s v To travel through.
inversion ɪnˈvɜːʃən n A change into something opposite.
glide glaɪd v To move gently and slowly into place: slip, slide, ease
foremost ˈfɔːməʊst adv Ranking above all others: primarily
shaky ˈʃeɪki adj Vibrating slightly and irregularly, as with fear, cold or like a leaf in a breeze.
tremble ˈtrɛmbl v To shake slightly because you are afraid, nervous, excited, etc.
pedestal ˈpɛdɪstl n An architectural base for a statue.
to go stagnant ⇒ To become dull or slluggish; stagnant ˈstægnənt adj Showing no sign of activity: inactive
limp lɪmp v To walk in a slow and awkward way because of an injury to a leg or foot.
sorely ˈsɔːli adv Very much: badly
begrime bɪˈgraɪm v To smear or soil with or as if with dirt; to make dirty: soil, blacken, smudge, dirty
The Pall Mall Gazette A daily London newspaper which tackled important issues of the day, founded in London February 7, 1865.
timepiece ˈtaɪmpiːs n A measuring instrument or device for keeping time: clock, chronometer
clatter ˈklætə n To make a quick series of short loud sounds.
sniff snɪf v To perceive with the sense of smell: smell, scent, nose, whiff