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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Time Machine by H.G. Wells


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

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
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