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‘IN ANOTHER moment we were standing face to face, I and this
fragile thing out of futurity. He came straight up to me and
laughed into my eyes. The absence from his bearing of any sign of
fear struck me at once. Then he turned to the two others who were
following him and spoke to them in a strange and very sweet and
liquid tongue.

‘There were others coming, and presently a little group of perhaps
eight or ten of these exquisite creatures were about me. One of
them addressed me. It came into my head, oddly enough, that my
voice was too harsh and deep for them. So I shook my head, and,
pointing to my ears, shook it again. He came a step forward,
hesitated, and then touched my hand. Then I felt other soft little
tentacles upon my back and shoulders. They wanted to make sure I
was real. There was nothing in this at all alarming. Indeed, there
was something in these pretty little people that inspired
confidence-a graceful gentleness, a certain childlike ease.

And besides, they looked so frail that I could fancy myself flinging
the whole dozen of them about like nine-pins. But I made a sudden
motion to warn them when I saw their little pink hands feeling at
the Time Machine. Happily then, when it was not too late, I
thought of a danger I had hitherto forgotten, and reaching over the
bars of the machine I unscrewed the little levers that would set it in
motion, and put these in my pocket. Then I turned again to see
what I could do in the way of communication.

‘And then, looking more nearly into their features, I saw some
further peculiarities in their Dresden-china type of prettiness. Their
hair, which was uniformly curly, came to a sharp end at the neck
and cheek; there was not the faintest suggestion of it on the face,
and their ears were singularly minute. The mouths were small,
with bright red, rather thin lips, and the little chins ran to a point.
The eyes were large and mild; and-this may seem egotism on my
part-I fancied even that there was a certain lack of the interest I
might have expected in them.

‘As they made no effort to communicate with me, but simply stood
round me smiling and speaking in soft cooing notes to each other, I
began the conversation.

I pointed to the Time Machine and to myself. Then hesitating for a
moment how to express time, I pointed to the sun. At once a
quaintly pretty little figure in chequered purple and white
followed my gesture, and then astonished me by imitating the
sound of thunder.
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