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Summary Chapter 12

The TimeTraveler returns to his own time, and as he does so, the sun turns golden again, the sky turns blue, and the days succeed the night with increased rapidity. When his time machine million dial turns to zero, the Time Traveler slackens his speed. He eventually brings it to a full stop, and he finds himself again in his laboratory.

For a moment, the Time Traveler wonders if all that he had experienced was a mere dream and that he was only now waking up from a nap when he realizes that his time machine has been displaced from the southeast to the northwest corner of the laboratory, which coincides with the Morlocks having moved his time machine from the turf into the hollow pedestal. He checks the newspaper and confirms today’s date when he hears the sound of his dinner guests and smells the aroma of mutton. Subsequently, the Time Traveler joins his dinner guests in his state of tattered dishevelment, and after having a meal, begins to tell the story which has just been told to its conclusion.

Presently, the Time Traveler looks at his guests and asks them about his story. What do they think of it? When no one answers, the Time Traveler assures them that it was only natural for them not to believe. The Editor presently gets up, and, putting his hand on the Time Traveler’s shoulder, laments the fact that the Time Traveler isn’t a writer of stories. Naturally, the Editor doesn’t believe but doesn’t admit to the fact when the Time Traveler presses him on the issue.

Eventually, the guests take their leave, including the Narrator who shares a cab with the Editor. There the Editor asserts his belief that the Time Traveler’s story is a “gaudy lie.” The Narrator doesn’t know what to believe however. It bothers him to the extent that he fails to fall asleep and goes to visit the Time Traveler the very next day to discuss the matter. Indeed, he asks the Time Traveler point blank if his claim of time traveling is an outright hoax. The Time Traveler assures the Narrator that it is not a hoax, and that if the Narrator would stick around for lunch and wait a half hour, the Time Traveler would provide the Narrator with specimen and pictures to prove he had time traveled.

The Narrator agrees to wait and does so when it occurs to him that he has an important appointment today, making it impossible for him to stick around for lunch. He goes to the laboratory to apologize to the Time Traveler when there is sudden gust of wind and the sound of broken glass. The Narrator sees a blurry image of the Time Traveler saddled on his time machine. Presently, the image disappears and with it all traces of the Time Traveler and his machine. A man-servant enters from the adjoining garden looking for the Time Traveler. He avows that the Time Traveler is not in the garden either. The Narrator decides to miss his appointment and wait for the Time Traveler’s return.

Three years have passed since that morning the Time Traveler had promised the Narrator that he—the Time Traveler—would return with proof that he had time traveled. The Narrator wonders if the Time Traveler will ever return. In the meantime, the Narrator determines to live a life that is always striving for that which is good in Mankind. The Time Traveler himself had expressed his pessimism of Mankind, but Weena’s withered flowers, which were given to the Time Traveler out of gratitude, consoles the Narrator, persuading him that Man may yet retain his humanity when everything else is lost.

H.G. Wells