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‘For a moment I was staggered, though the import of his gesture
was plain enough. The question had come into my mind abruptly:
were these creatures fools? You may hardly understand how it
took me. You see I had always anticipated that the people of the
year Eight Hundred and Two Thousand odd would be incredibly
in front of us in knowledge, art, everything. Then one of them
suddenly asked me a question that showed him to be on the
intellectual level of one of our five-year-old children-asked me, in
fact, if I had come from the sun in a thunderstorm! It let loose the
judgment I had suspended upon their clothes, their frail light
limbs, and fragile features. A flow of disappointment rushed across
my mind. For a moment I felt that I had built the Time Machine in

‘I nodded, pointed to the sun, and gave them such a vivid
rendering of a thunderclap as startled them. They all withdrew a
pace or so and bowed. Then came one laughing towards me,
carrying a chain of beautiful flowers altogether new to me, and put
it about my neck. The idea was received with melodious applause;
and presently they were all running to and fro for flowers, and
laughingly flinging them upon me until I was almost smothered
with blossom. You who have never seen the like can scarcely
imagine what delicate and wonderful flowers countless years of
culture had created. Then someone suggested that their plaything
should be exhibited in the nearest building, and so I was led past
the sphinx of white marble, which had seemed to watch me all the
while with a smile at my astonishment, towards a vast grey edifice
of fretted stone. As I went with them the memory of my confident
anticipations of a profoundly grave and intellectual posterity came,
with irresistible merriment, to my mind.

‘The building had a huge entry, and was altogether of colossal
dimensions. I was naturally most occupied with the growing
crowd of little people, and with the big open portals that yawned
before me shadowy and mysterious. My general impression of the
world I saw over their heads was a tangled waste of beautiful
bushes and flowers, a long-neglected and yet weedless garden. I
saw a number of tall spikes of strange white flowers, measuring a
foot perhaps across the spread of the waxen petals. They grew
scattered, as if wild, among the variegated shrubs, but, as I say, I
did not examine them closely at this time. The Time Machine was
left deserted on the turf among the rhododendrons.

‘The arch of the doorway was richly carved, but naturally I did not
observe the carving very narrowly, though I fancied I saw
suggestions of old Phoenician decorations as I passed through, and
it struck me that they were very badly broken and weather-worn.
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