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The Time Machine

III
'I told some of you last Thursday of the principles of the Time Machine, and showed you
the actual thing itself, incomplete in the workshop. There it is now, a little travel-worn,
truly; and one of the ivory bars is cracked, and a brass rail bent; but the rest of it's sound
enough. I expected to finish it on Friday, but on Friday, when the putting together was
nearly done, I found that one of the nickel bars was exactly one inch too short, and this I
had to get remade; so that the thing was not complete until this morning. It was at ten
o'clock to-day that the first of all Time Machines began its career. I gave it a last tap, tried
all the screws again, put one more drop of oil on the quartz rod, and sat myself in the
saddle. I suppose a suicide who holds a pistol to his skull feels much the same wonder at
what will come next as I felt then. I took the starting lever in one hand and the stopping
one in the other, pressed the first, and almost immediately the second. I seemed to reel; I
felt a nightmare sensation of falling; and, looking round, I saw the laboratory exactly as
before. Had anything happened? For a moment I suspected that my intellect had tricked
me. Then I noted the clock. A moment before, as it seemed, it had stood at a minute or so
past ten; now it was nearly half-past three!
'I drew a breath, set my teeth, gripped the starting lever with both hands, and went off
with a thud. The laboratory got hazy and went dark. Mrs. Watchett came in and walked,
apparently without seeing me, towards the garden door. I suppose it took her a minute or
so to traverse the place, but to me she seemed to shoot across the room like a rocket. I
pressed the lever over to its extreme position. The night came like the turning out of a
lamp, and in another moment came to-morrow. The laboratory grew faint and hazy, then
fainter and ever fainter. To-morrow night came black, then day again, night again, day
again, faster and faster still. An eddying murmur filled my ears, and a strange, dumb
confusedness descended on my mind.
'I am afraid I cannot convey the peculiar sensations of time travelling. They are
excessively unpleasant. There is a feeling exactly like that one has upon a switchback--of
a helpless headlong motion! I felt the same horrible anticipation, too, of an imminent
smash. As I put on pace, night followed day like the flapping of a black wing. The dim
suggestion of the laboratory seemed presently to fall away from me, and I saw the sun
hopping swiftly across the sky, leaping it every minute, and every minute marking a day.
I supposed the laboratory had been destroyed and I had come into the open air. I had a
dim impression of scaffolding, but I was already going too fast to be conscious of any
moving things. The slowest snail that ever crawled dashed by too fast for me. The
twinkling succession of darkness and light was excessively painful to the eye. Then, in
the intermittent darknesses, I saw the moon spinning swiftly through her quarters from
new to full, and had a faint glimpse of the circling stars. Presently, as I went on, still
gaining velocity, the palpitation of night and day merged into one continuous greyness;
the sky took on a wonderful deepness of blue, a splendid luminous color like that of early
twilight; the jerking sun became a streak of fire, a brilliant arch, in space; the moon a
fainter fluctuating band; and I could see nothing of the stars, save now and then a brighter
circle flickering in the blue.
 
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