Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
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
‘You mean to say that that machine has travelled into the future?’
‘Into the future or the past-I 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