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block, but highly decorated with deep framed panels on either
side. I went and rapped at these. The pedestal was hollow.
Examining the panels with care I found them discontinuous with
the frames. There were no handles or keyholes, but possibly the
panels, if they were doors, as I supposed, opened from within. One
thing was clear enough to my mind. It took no very great mental
effort to infer that my Time Machine was inside that pedestal. But
how it got there was a different problem.
‘I saw the heads of two orange-clad people coming through the
bushes and under some blossom-covered apple-trees towards me. I
turned smiling to them and beckoned them to me. They came, and
then, pointing to the bronze pedestal, I tried to intimate my wish to
open it. But at my first gesture towards this they behaved very
oddly. I don’t know how to convey their expression to you.
Suppose you were to use a grossly improper gesture to a delicate-
minded woman-it is how she would look. They went off as if they
had received the last possible insult. I tried a sweet-looking little
chap in white next, with exactly the same result.
Somehow, his manner made me feel ashamed of myself. But, as
you know, I wanted the Time Machine, and I tried him once more.
As he turned off, like the others, my temper got the better of me. In
three strides I was after him, had him by the loose part of his robe
round the neck, and began dragging him towards the sphinx. Then
I saw the horror and repugnance of his face, and all of a sudden I
let him go.
‘But I was not beaten yet. I banged with my fist at the bronze
panels. I thought I heard something stir inside-to be explicit, I
thought I heard a sound like a chuckle but I must have been
mistaken. Then I got a big pebble from the river, and came and
hammered till I had flattened a coil in the decorations, and the
verdigris came off in powdery flakes. The delicate little people
must have heard me hammering in gusty outbreaks a mile away on
either hand, but nothing came of it. I saw a crowd of them upon
the slopes, looking furtively at me. At last, hot and tired, I sat
down to watch the place. But I was too restless to watch long; I am
too Occidental for a long vigil. I could work at a problem for years,
but to wait inactive for twenty-four hours-that is another matter.
‘I got up after a time, and began walking aimlessly through the
bushes towards the hill again. “Patience,” said I to myself. “If you
want your machine again you must leave that sphinx alone. If they
mean to take your machine away, it’s little good your wrecking
their bronze panels, and if they don’t, you will get it back as soon
as you can ask for it. To sit among all those unknown things before
a puzzle like that is hopeless. That way lies monomania. Face this