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Summary Chapter 3

The Time traveler begins his story.

His plan was to have his time machine completed last Friday, but on account of a nickel bar, which was too short, the completed construction had been delayed nearly a week. Indeed, it wasn’t until 10 am today that he had completed constructing his time machine.

So it is 10 am today when the Time Traveler mounts his time machine for the first time. He pushes the lever to start it only to stop it to get a sense of its effectiveness. Upon realizing that he had traveled 5 ½ hours ahead in matters of seconds, the Time Traveler pushes the lever in earnest to see where it would lead him.

The Time Traveler declares that Time Traveling is a sickening feeling, a feeling of being trapped in a “helpless headlong motion.” As he describes it, day turns into night and vice versa with increased velocity. Soon he is out in the open, a sure sign that the building he was in no longer exists. He notes that even a snail moved too fast for his eyes to follow. The sky’s change from sunlight to darkness eventually merges into one, becoming a continuous gray. He sees trees grow in seconds only to disintegrate just as fast. He sees magnificent buildings and structures rise only to disappear like dreams. Then the seasons change at a pace that it takes less than a minute for an entire year to pass. And as the years pass with increased acceleration, and magnificent structures rise and then disappear, the Time Traveler decides that it is time to stop in order to get a bearing of his location in time.

The Time Traveler explains that stopping did not come without a risk—the risk of stopping in a space in time that is occupied by a solid object. Should that happen it is likely that his molecules, which must come to rest, will congeal into a substance other than human, thus ending his life. Nonetheless it is a risk he must take. Subsequently, the Time Traveler pulls the lever to bring his time machine to a stop when the machine flips over and sends him hurling onto a turf of grass. To makes matter worse, he finds himself in the middle of a hail storm. He notices a marble structure resembling a winged Sphinx nearby. As the hail storm abates, the Time Traveler gets a good look at the Sphinx like marble structure, and a terrible thought enters his mind. What if man has evolved into a beast-like savage?

Consequently, the Time Traveler sets his time machine upright and mounts it to return to where he came from when his fears suddenly subside. He sees a figure emerging from the bushes growing at the base of the Sphinx figure. He sees that the figure is slight, dainty, and is dressed in a simple tunic and sandals.

Regaining his courage, the Time Traveler dismounts the time machine and decides to have a word with the fascinating stranger of the distant future.

H.G. Wells