Study Guide

The Time Machine Chapter 12

By H.G. Wells

Chapter 12

  • Traveling back in time, the Time Traveller sees things in reverse and slows down when he sees his laboratory. In Chapter 3 he saw his housekeeper zoom across the room, and now he sees her walk backwards across the room.
  • For a flash, he sees someone named Hillyer. It's unclear who Hillyer is, though we suspect that's the narrator's name.
  • When he stops, the Time Traveller thinks it might all have been a dream, except now the Time Machine is in a different place (because the Morlocks moved it in the future).
  • The Time Traveller hears his guests eating and comes in to say hello. And, boy, does he want meat.
  • The Time Traveller ends his story by bringing it full circle: "I washed, and dined, and now I am telling you the story" (12.5).
  • He asks them how they like the story, since he sees that they don't believe him. He admits that he hardly believes it himself.
  • The Editor clearly doesn't believe him, and the Journalist asks where they can get a cab at this late hour.
  • But the Medical Man notes that the flowers are mysterious.
  • The Time Traveller has a sudden freak-out and decides he needs to see his Time Machine, or else he'll think the whole thing was a dream.
  • So everyone goes to the laboratory and sees the Time Machine. It certainly looks a little worn, and the Time Traveller is calmed down.
  • The Medical Man says the Time Traveller is just overworked. The Editor tells the narrator he thinks it's all a clever lie.
  • But the narrator is unsure: "The story was so fantastic and incredible, the telling so credible and sober" (12.25).
  • So the narrator comes back to visit the next day. But the Time Traveller isn't in the laboratory. The narrator touches the Time Machine briefly and thinks about how he wasn't supposed to meddle with things when he was a child.
  • The Time Traveller shows up and claims that he really does travel through time and he's going to bring proof. (This time, he has a camera.) He tells the narrator to wait for him. (Probably in one of those ultra-comfy chairs.)
  • But the narrator remembers that he has an appointment. When he comes back, the Time Machine and the Time Traveller are gone.
  • The narrator waits, but the Time Traveller never comes back.

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