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The Time Machine

II
I think that at that time none of us quite believed in the Time Machine. The fact is, the
Time Traveller was one of those men who are too clever to be believed: you never felt
that you saw all round him; you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in
ambush, behind his lucid frankness. Had Filby shown the model and explained the matter
in the Time Traveller's words, we should have shown HIM far less scepticism. For we
should have perceived his motives; a pork butcher could understand Filby. But the Time
Traveller had more than a touch of whim among his elements, and we distrusted him.
Things that would have made the frame of a less clever man seemed tricks in his hands. It
is a mistake to do things too easily. The serious people who took him seriously never felt
quite sure of his deportment; they were somehow aware that trusting their reputations for
judgment with him was like furnishing a nursery with egg-shell china. So I don't think
any of us said very much about time travelling in the interval between that Thursday and
the next, though its odd potentialities ran, no doubt, in most of our minds: its plausibility,
that is, its practical incredibleness, the curious possibilities of anachronism and of utter
confusion it suggested. For my own part, I was particularly preoccupied with the trick of
the model. That I remember discussing with the Medical Man, whom I met on Friday at
the Linnaean. He said he had seen a similar thing at Tubingen, and laid considerable
stress on the blowing out of the candle. But how the trick was done he could not explain.
The next Thursday I went again to Richmond--I suppose I was one of the Time
Traveller's most constant guests--and, arriving late, found four or five men already
assembled in his drawing-room. The Medical Man was standing before the fire with a
sheet of paper in one hand and his watch in the other. I looked round for the Time
Traveller, and--'It's half-past seven now,' said the Medical Man. 'I suppose we'd better
have dinner?'
'Where's----?' said I, naming our host.
'You've just come? It's rather odd. He's unavoidably detained. He asks me in this note to
lead off with dinner at seven if he's not back. Says he'll explain when he comes.'
'It seems a pity to let the dinner spoil,' said the Editor of a well-known daily paper; and
thereupon the Doctor rang the bell.
The Psychologist was the only person besides the Doctor and myself who had attended
the previous dinner. The other men were 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
 
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