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The Time Machine

XII
'So I came back. For a long time I must have been insensible upon the machine. The
blinking succession of the days and nights was resumed, the sun got golden again, the sky
blue. I breathed with greater freedom. The fluctuating contours of the land ebbed and
flowed. The hands spun backward upon the dials. At last I saw again the dim shadows of
houses, the evidences of decadent humanity. These, too, changed and passed, and others
came. Presently, when the million dial was at zero, I slackened speed. I began to
recognize our own petty and familiar architecture, the thousands hand ran back to the
starting-point, the night and day flapped slower and slower. Then the old walls of the
laboratory came round me. Very gently, now, I slowed the mechanism down.
'I saw one little thing that seemed odd to me. I think I have told you that when I set out,
before my velocity became very high, Mrs. Watchett had walked across the room,
travelling, as it seemed to me, like a rocket. As I returned, I passed again across that
minute when she traversed the laboratory. But now her every motion appeared to be the
exact inversion of her previous ones. The door at the lower end opened, and she glided
quietly up the laboratory, back foremost, and disappeared behind the door by which she
had previously entered. Just before that I seemed to see Hillyer for a moment; but he
passed like a flash.
'Then I stopped the machine, and saw about me again the old familiar laboratory, my
tools, my appliances just as I had left them. I got off the thing very shaky, and sat down
upon my bench. For several minutes I trembled violently. Then I became calmer. Around
me was my old workshop again, exactly as it had been. I might have slept there, and the
whole thing have been a dream.
'And yet, not exactly! The thing had started from the south-east corner of the
laboratory. It had come to rest again in the north-west, against the wall where you saw it.
That gives you the exact distance from my little lawn to the pedestal of the White Sphinx,
into which the Morlocks had carried my machine.
'For a time my brain went stagnant. Presently I got up and came through the passage
here, limping, because my heel was still painful, and feeling sorely begrimed. I saw the
PALL MALL GAZETTE on the table by the door. I found the date was indeed to-day,
and looking at the timepiece, saw the hour was almost eight o'clock. I heard your voices
and the clatter of plates. I hesitated--I felt so sick and weak. Then I sniffed good
wholesome meat, and opened the door on you. You know the rest. I washed, and dined,
and now I am telling you the story.
'I know,' he said, after a pause, 'that all this will be absolutely incredible to you. To me
the one incredible thing is that I am here to-night in this old familiar room looking into
your friendly faces and telling you these strange adventures.'
 
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