We begin with the Time Traveler sharing with an unknown number of people about a difficult subject to understand, but being quite excited. Those who listened thought he was being imaginative with an idea. Soon though, he begins with explaining the four dimensions one needs to know of and poses the question of whether a cube exists for only a moment actually exists at all. He goes on to explain how scientists have tried to come up with a geometry which would support a fourth dimension’s existence. We have a Narrator who isn’t identified in any way, but only this person is among those listening to the Time Traveler’s talk of his experiment and how he’d thought of making a machine to carry one through time and space. Then we learn there are six men in the room and the Time Traveler has brought to them a small metallic object; he explains it’s his model of what his time machine will look like, but then we realize this little model can travel through time and blows everyone’s mind upon being demonstrated. Then the Time Traveler lets on his actual machine was almost done and shows them all his progress. I like the style of writing so far, it gets to the point fairly quickly and the fact it’s not such a long story makes me wonder what kind of adventures he’ll get into.
The next bit begins with the Narrator going back to the Time Traveler’s home for another get-together with notables of the town, but the Time Traveler being late, the Doctor plays host and rings for dinner to be served, since the Time Traveler said to do as much if he hadn’t returned by then in a note he’d left. The Narrator is the first to see the Time Traveler arrive in great disorderliness, when others noticed him they wondered what had happened to him. After a couple glasses of wine, he was becoming himself again and promised to explain once he cleaned up and changed. Meanwhile the new guests began to become beleaguered the possibility the Time Traveler had actually gone anywhere out of the ordinary from his appearance. Upon his return, the Editor immediately badgers the Time Traveler for a story, but he doesn’t get it quite yet due to the man wanting some meat in his system before saying another word. When he’d had his fill, he adjourns them all to the smoking-room and begins by informing them he’s seen eight days already and he plans on confessing the whole story uninterrupted before passing out for the night.
When the Time Traveler begins his story of how he noticed he’d traveled at all, it was by the clock in the room, then by how quickly a Mrs. Watchett had walked into the room without seeing him, whilst he was still traveling through time. Soon he saw the construction of the house and the sun going through its motions, all the while not enjoying the ride of his travel, as he explains. After going back in time for a bit, he moves forward and upon stopping finally, he discovers himself in a garden with a humongous statue and soon realizes he’s been spotted by the locals, dreading before noticing them, if they’d believe him barbaric in comparison to themselves. He then gets an idea of their stature and appearance, losing his fear. The Time Traveler soon realized the men from the future were speaking with a foreign tongue and was wondering if they were intelligent, which he found disappointment upon the learning of. They were friendly though, and soon brought him indoors noting the structure and flooring, he also goes into more detail as to what the men looked like.
Soon they were hand motioning to him questions and he answers to how and where the Time Traveler came from. He also saw some fruits which seemed strange and some he recognized but were of proportions not seen in his time. His innocent-looking hosts motion for him to sit with them as they gratified their appetites. As the crowd of futuristic people got larger at their group snack-out, the Time Traveler tried to learn some of their language, but only after a short time did the people get weary of translating to him what words for what objects were, so the Time Traveler had to be patient in rounding off his language lesson. The we are given the year he traveled to, which was a bit difficult to discern in how it was written. He then goes on to describe the disposition of the small men, which is child-like in nature and attention span, being jabbered at and then left to pass their time idly, letting him do what he would. He goes back outside to notice the Thames had shifted only a small bit and then noted most of the English architecture had been replaced with structures similar in style to palaces. The Time Traveler then came to a realization about the people of the future, which had to do with the similarity of looks between the sexes, mentioning his theory was only a small part of the whole, which he relates coming back to later. We then are given his theory of what happened to humanity by this time, which he also notes, is a minor part of the whole truth.
After touring the area, he sees as he’s coming back, the Time Machine is not where he’d left it. He’s stricken with panic and rushes so quickly, he bloodies his face, then when he does get to where the machine was, feels mocked by the smiling statue, due to the machine not only being moved out of eyesight, as he’d hoped, but nowhere to be found, as dreaded. He wrongly, as night fell, burst into the sleeping area of the small people, realizing they didn’t comprehend his feelings. After blind terror of where the machine could be, he realizes by morning, once remembering his predicament, he would have to look on the hopeful and brighter side, being the possibility of constructing another machine and the fact he’s on a strange and enchanting time on Earth. Then he began to examine the statue, once exhausting his efforts on the little people, who seemed to know nothing. He hears a suspicious noise from within the statue and when he tries to convey he’d like to know how it is opened, he’s met with disdain and no one considering his idea seriously or with empathy.
He leaves them be for awhile so as not to alienate himself anymore than he has and in the meantime, tries to learn more of their language, during this time he also notices some curious wells as he experiments and gets a closer look at them, sees them not to be filled with water, but have a steady stream of air going down them and a rhythmic beating, sounding like an engine. He then notices towers could be connected to the wells and may have to do with the sanitation of the people, but this wasn’t the actual reason. He then skips to the lifestyles of the little people, wondering where they got their clothing, also noticing there to be no elderly among them so where cemeteries or the like could be. Then he acknowledges the Time Machine again and how he was stumped as to how the machine could have gotten within the statue. We then are given a description of an experience with one of the people needing help in the river and not expecting gratefulness for his help, but being surprised later of receiving thanks.
The young lady, Weena, developed a friendship with him and tried to stick close, but because the Time Traveler was set on learning as much as possible, would tire her and leave her to wait for him until he was finished. Their relationship gets closer, but he digresses, getting back to the main point, being why the people seemed to be fearful of night, having an experience where the Time Traveler is woken by something moving past him, but not being sure, trying to reclaim sleep again and failing, so decides to go out and see the sun rise. Before the rising sun, he sees white figures in the distance, not clearly seeing them, so as to think they could be apparitions and upon the sun rising, no longer seeing them. On his fourth day, it was quite hot and he sought shelter in a giant ruin, where he believes he sees someone staring at him, he tries to communicate to the ape-like figure like the ones he saw before, but he ran off into another corner. This time he lights a match and watches the creature going down the well by hand holds he hadn’t seen before. His opinion of what the wells were for changed then, realizing the little people living above weren’t the only ones left on the world. He theorized how their society worked, not quite landing on the truth. He tries to ask Weena, but at first not understanding and then becoming visibly upset when not wanting to answer, he stops pressing her.
We learn the Time Traveler feels closer to the Eloi than the Morlocks, the latter being the underground dwellers. He then contemplates how he’ll get the machine back, feeling paranoid and exposed with no one to back him up. He soon resolved to go through with his idea of descending one of the wells, to Weena’s dismay, which may have helped him decide to do so. During his climb down, he became quite cramped for the body type it was made for and once reaching a space he could rest in, was soon greeted strangely by the people who lived there, the Morlocks, who retreated on sight of his lighting a match. He then also sees these creatures are carnivores, but not being able to detect what animal they were eating. Soon though, the Morlocks became more persistent in trying to keep the Time Traveler with them, pulling at his clothes and feet, etc., but making good his escape with the help of his last few matches. Now the Time Traveler felt he had reason to detest the Morlocks, due to how they’d treated him. When the Time Traveler mentions of being reminded of the meat the Morlocks were eating and trying to figure out why he felt they seemed familiar, he takes Weena with him on his next outing and interrupts his story to show the flowers he’d kept from his futuristic jaunt.
He then wonders why the Morlocks had wanted to hide his machine from him as he takes Weena to their destination, a Palace of Green Porcelain, to spend the start of the longer nights, but he loses his way and decides to spend the night out in the open, then fleetingly thinking of what the meat could’ve been once more, not dwelling on the thought for how horrible it was. When morning came though, he thought again of what he didn’t want to believe and realized it was most likely the case and feels sorry for the Eloi, even though they’ve become dumb with time and complacency of being taken care of by the Morlocks, who the Time Traveler also tries to see scientifically, as serving a purpose by tending to the Eloi. Then he settles on his most likely of plans could be executed and heads for the Palace with Weena to set up as home-base, I presume.
When he reaches the palace, he didn’t consider there would be a creek, and it made him wonder what could’ve become of the sea creatures. He also found on the inside not only all the interior was made of porcelain, but also an inscription, of which he had no means of translating because Ween didn’t seem to understand the concept of the written word. Now the Time Traveler believed Weena may not even be Human, but only has certain similar emotions and characteristics to us. He soon realizes he’s in a museum, which he discovers mummies, minerals, of which he couldn’t detect all the ingredients to make gunpowder, so was useless, plant-life had decayed, which he’d hoped he could trace the evolution from, but in the condition found, wasn’t possible and machinery, which he found great interest in; unfortunately, his studying was cut short by Weena’s anxiousness and he realized how late in the day it had gotten and he still without weapons, also he was hearing noises familiar to his time in the well and so began his search in haste. Soon after discovering a suitable enough weapon to at least knock some skulls of Morlocks with (which he was looking forward to); explained more clearly as to why in the explaining, they move to another gallery where he observes remnants of books, showing the decline of upkeep through the centuries humanity had suffered through. After passing through the area, they walk through to another gallery where he locates what he’s looking for and celebrates with Weena in the way she is accustomed: dance; hilarious, in how it’s described. He then perceives some other flammable substances, but still nothing he could use to blow up the statue to acquire his Time Machine, only once tricking himself with dummy dynamite sticks, which he tests for it’s authentic look, with disappointment, but reasonable acceptance. He and Weena then retreat, he deciding to spend the night outdoors among fire.
The Time Traveler tries to get them as close to the woods as possible, he already tiring for his lack of two nights and a day’s sleeplessness and Weena tiring because she’s tiny. He also sensed the Morlocks would be after them soon, so he wanted to get as far from the palace as possible, but since he’d loaded himself down with sticks and whatnot for fire making, he decided he needed to make a distraction for the Morlocks who seemed to be getting closer, so he lit a bonfire in the wood and continued on, trying to get to the other side where he believed was a safer place to rest, unfortunately the idea didn’t seem possible since the Morlocks had taken the opportunity to close in and the Time Traveler, caught up with lighting a match to keep them at bay, lost his sense of direction and decided to camp there until daylight. The Time Traveler passes out for a time and the Morlocks make their move on him when the fire goes out, taking his matchbox as well, but the Time Traveler defends himself with his mace and the Morlocks fall back. Then he began noticing he was able to see the Morlocks dimly and realized soon after his first fire had followed him, the Morlocks becoming blinded by the light. Weena had disappeared in the fighting and the Time Traveler followed the retreating Morlocks to see some were killing themselves by walking into the fire and he, killing one and injuring some others, didn’t realize they couldn’t see him, but once he figured this out, he stopped and watched to be sure they didn’t get too close. When daylight came, he looked again for Weena, but realized she must have died in the blaze in the wood, but at least wasn’t cannibalized. The only other bright-side besides the literal one, was he found some stray matches in his pocket before it was swiped.
The Time Traveler then sums up his estimation of what the Eloi and Morlocks had evolved into due to the decline in certain animals dying. After realizing his theory, he dozed among the Eloi until almost sunset, when he decided to try and open up the White Sphinx, which he didn’t need to do since it lay open waiting for him; what a waste of trauma those nights ended up being. He spots his Time Machine on a pedestal inside and regrets his not being able to use his crowbar, for all the trouble he’d gone through to get it, then realizing the Morlocks had oiled the machine, also possibly taking it apart to see what it’s use was. During this realization, the entrance to the Sphinx closes up, which was expected by the Time Traveler and didn’t sweat in the least since he had his escape awaiting him, but he didn’t make it out as smoothly as he’d thought he would, since he thought he could use the matches to distract and blind them with, but they happened to be the kind which needed to be struck on the matchbox, he then decided to try to make a hasty escape, which was a close call since the Morlocks almost wrested one of the levers out of his hands before he finally did make it out. He jumps even further forward in time, arriving in a twi-lit environment, and the sun being much redder with some green vegetation on some rocks nearby, which he soon learned, to his horror it was a crab-like creature, after seeing a screaming butterfly pass by him (reminding me of something I once saw in a cartoon, I believe).
He jumps a month forward in time when he feels the antennae of another crab behind him, but only identifies more crabs when he stops again. Soon though, he’s jumped about 30 million more years into the future, looking to see the end of the world it seems, and observes the ocean is still there, but colder, and the crabs have gone. He fancied he saw something, but it stopped moving and believed he’d imagined it, but it started up again and he realized it had tentacles and looked like a soccer ball; this beginning to sound like what I believe The Island of Dr. Moreau will be like, he then gets strapped back into the Time Machine to come back to his own time.When he gets closer to his time, Hillyer, the Narrator of the story, is seen walking past the Time Traveler as he’s coming back to his own time, but what he’s actually seeing is Hillyer after leaving for his second journey through time. After arriving back at the hour we see him enter the room, his retelling ends and he asks if they believe him, not thinking they would; most satisfy his prophecy, asking where he actually obtained the flowers and describing to them the same as before, soon questioning the reality of his experience himself. When he goes to confirm the Time Machine is where he left it and it exists, the group begins to disperse to go home and Hillyer is debating as to whether he believes the story, having trouble sleeping.
He goes to the Time Traveler’s home the next day and asks him if he truly had gone through time, the Time Traveler confirming this, and asking him if he’s willing to wait, he can show him proof, but was busy at the moment and if he’d care to have lunch, Hillyer accepting, but then remembering he had to make an appointment and follows the Time Traveler down to his lab to inform him of his plans. He hears the noises of motion and glimpses the Time Traveler fading from reality, which Hillyer couldn’t make sense of at the time and deciding to miss his appointment, waits for the Time Traveler to return, which if he’d continued to wait as long as he’d been gone, would have been over three years, after which we realize he vanishes, not returning at all, Hillyer wondering which direction he’d decided to travel in this time. Not a bad story, I’m looking forward to The Invisible Man.