TWT logo

Together We Teach
Reading Room

Take time to read.
Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.

| Home | Reading Room The Time Machine

The Time Machine
by H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells

< BACK    NEXT >




`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


`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

to-day, 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.

`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 to-night 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


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?'


`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 engagement. 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 lifetime. The Time Traveller vanished

three years ago. And, as everybody knows now, he has never




Top of Page

< BACK    NEXT >

| Home | Reading Room The Time Machine





Why not spread the word about Together We Teach?
Simply copy & paste our home page link below into your emails... 

Want the Together We Teach link to place on your website?
Copy & paste either home page link on your webpage...
Together We Teach 






Use these free website tools below for a more powerful experience at Together We Teach!

****Google™ search****

For a more specific search, try using quotation marks around phrases (ex. "You are what you read")


*** Google Translate™ translation service ***

 Translate text:


  Translate a web page:

****What's the Definition?****
(Simply insert the word you want to lookup)

 Search:   for   

S D Glass Enterprises

Privacy Policy

Warner Robins, GA, USA