小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 英文科幻小说 » 时间机器 The Time Machine » Chapter 12
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
Chapter 12

`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.'

He looked at the Medical Man. `No. I cannot expect you to believe it. Take it as a lie--or a prophecy. Say I dreamed it in the workshop. Consider I have been speculating upon the destinies of our race until I have hatched this fiction. Treat my assertion of its truth as a mere stroke of art to enhance its interest. And taking it as a story, what do you think of it?'

He took up his pipe, and began, in his old accustomed manner, to tap with it nervously upon the bars of the grate. There was a momentary stillness. Then chairs began to creak and shoes to scrape upon the carpet. I took my eyes off the Time Traveller's face, and looked round at his audience. They were in the dark, and little spots of colour swam before them. The Medical Man seemed absorbed in the contemplation of our host. The Editor was looking hard at the end of his cigar--the sixth. The Journalist fumbled for his watch. The others, as far as I remember, were motionless.

The Editor stood up with a sigh. `What a pity it is you're not a writer of stories!' he said, putting his hand on the Time Traveller's shoulder.

`You don't believe it?'

`Well----'

`I thought not.'

The Time Traveller turned to us. `Where are the matches?' he said. He lit one and spoke over his pipe, puffing. `To tell you the truth . . . I hardly believe it myself. . . . And yet . . .'

His eye fell with a mute inquiry upon the withered white flowers upon the little table. Then he turned over the hand holding his pipe, and I saw he was looking at some half-healed scars on his knuckles.

The Medical Man rose, came to the lamp, and examined the flowers. `The gynaeceum's odd,' he said. The Psychologist leant forward to see, holding out his hand for a specimen.

`I'm hanged if it isn't a quarter to one,' said the Journalist. `How shall we get home?'

`Plenty of cabs at the station,' said the Psychologist.

`It's a curious thing,' said the Medical Man; `but I certainly don't know the natural order of these flowers. May I have them?'

The Time Traveller hesitated. Then suddenly: `Certainly not.'

`Where did you really get them?' said the Medical Man.

The Time Traveller put his hand to his head. He spoke like one who was trying to keep hold of an idea that eluded him. 'They were put into my pocket by Weena, when I travelled into Time.' He stared round the room. `I'm damned if it isn't all going. This room and you and the atmosphere of every day is too much for my memory. Did I ever make a Time Machine, or a model of a Time Machine? Or is it all only a dream? They say life is a dream, a precious poor dream at times--but I can't stand another that won't fit. It's madness. And where did the dream come from? . . . I must look at that machine. If there is one!'

He caught up the lamp swiftly, and carried it, flaring red, through the door into the corridor. We followed him. There in the flickering light of the lamp was the machine sure enough, squat, ugly, and askew; a thing of brass, ebony, ivory, and translucent glimmering quartz. Solid to the touch--for I put out my hand and felt the rail of it--and with brown spots and smears upon the ivory, and bits of grass and moss upon the lower parts, and one rail bent awry.

The Time Traveller put the lamp down on the bench, and ran his hand along the damaged rail. `It's all right now,' he said. 'The story I told you was true. I'm sorry to have brought you out here in the cold.' He took up the lamp, and, in an absolute silence, we returned to the smoking-room.

He came into the hall with us and helped the Editor on with his coat. The Medical Man looked into his face and, with a certain hesitation, told him he was suffering from overwork, at which he laughed hugely. I remember him standing in the open doorway, bawling good night.

I shared a cab with the Editor. He thought the tale a `gaudy lie.' For my own part I was unable to come to a conclusion. The story was so fantastic and incredible, the telling so credible and sober. I lay awake most of the night thinking about it. I determined to go next day and see the Time Traveller again. I was told he was in the laboratory, and being on easy terms in the house, I went up to him. The laboratory, however, was empty. I stared for a minute at the Time Machine and put out my hand and touched the lever. At that the squat substantial-looking mass swayed like a bough shaken by the wind. Its instability startled me extremely, and I had a queer reminiscence of the childish days when I used to be forbidden to meddle. I came back through the corridor. The Time Traveller met me in the smoking-room. He was coming from the house. He had a small camera under one arm and a knapsack under the other. He laughed when he saw me, and gave me an elbow to shake. `I'm frightfully busy,' said he, `with that thing in there.'

`But is it not some hoax?' I said. `Do you really travel through time?'

`Really and truly I do.' And he looked frankly into my eyes. He hesitated. His eye wandered about the room. `I only want half an hour,' he said. `I know why you came, and it's awfully good of you. There's some magazines here. If you'll stop to lunch I'll prove you this time travelling up to the hilt, specimen and all. If you'll forgive my leaving you now?'

I consented, hardly comprehending then the full import of his words, and he nodded and went on down the corridor. I heard the door of the laboratory slam, seated myself in a chair, and took up a daily paper. What was he going to do before lunch-time? Then suddenly I was reminded by an advertisement that I had promised to meet Richardson, the publisher, at two. I looked at my watch, and saw that I could barely save that engagement. I got up and went down the passage to tell the Time Traveller.

As I took hold of the handle of the door I heard an exclamation, oddly truncated at the end, and a click and a thud. A gust of air whirled round me as I opened the door, and from within came the sound of broken glass falling on the floor. The Time Traveller was not there. I seemed to see a ghostly, indistinct figure sitting in a whirling mass of black and brass for a moment--a figure so transparent that the bench behind with its sheets of drawings was absolutely distinct; but this phantasm vanished as I rubbed my eyes. The Time Machine had gone. Save for a subsiding stir of dust, the further end of the laboratory was empty. A pane of the skylight had, apparently, just been blown in.

I felt an unreasonable amazement. I knew that something strange had happened, and for the moment could not distinguish what the strange thing might be. As I stood staring, the door into the garden opened, and the man-servant appeared.

We looked at each other. Then ideas began to come. `Has Mr. ---- gone out that way?' said I.

`No, sir. No one has come out this way. I was expecting to find him here.'

At that I understood. At the risk of disappointing Richardson I stayed on, waiting for the Time Traveller; waiting for the second, perhaps still stranger story, and the specimens and photographs he would bring with him. But I am beginning now to fear that I must wait a lifetime. The Time Traveller vanished three years ago. And, as everybody knows now, he has never returned.

“我就这样回来了。我肯定有很长一段时间坐在机器上失去了知觉。昼夜眨眼般地交替恢复了,天空是蓝色的,太阳又成了金黄色。我的呼吸舒畅多了。起伏绵延的陆地轮廓时隐时现,刻度盘上的指针飞速回转。终于我又看到了房屋模糊的影子,这表明我已飞到人类的没落时期。这些景色变化着从我眼前消失,新的景色随之出现。不一会儿,百万日刻度盘上的指针指到零上,我放慢速度,认出了我们自己时代的熟悉的小型建筑。千日指针回到了起点,昼夜的变换越来越慢。接着,我的周围出现了我实验室的熟悉的墙壁,于是我非常轻缓地放慢了机器的速度。

“我看到的一件小事使我觉得很奇怪。我想我已对你们讲过,我刚出发时,也就是在我加速前,瓦切特夫人正巧走过实验室,我觉得她的速度快得就像火箭。回来的时候,我又经过了她穿过房间的那分钟。可这时她的每个动作好像就是她上次动作的倒转。通花园的门开了,她悄然无声地回到实验室里,背朝前面,在她上次进来的那扇门后消失了。在这之前,我似乎看到了希尔叶,但他随即一闪而过。

“于是我停下时间机器,我又在身旁看到了原先熟悉的实验室、我的工具、我的各种设备,它们和我离开时没什么两样。我摇摇晃晃地跨下那玩意儿,坐到长凳上。有一阵子,我浑身科得很厉害,之后渐渐平静下来。我周围是原先的车间,它和以前一模一样。我可能在那里睡着了,整个事情简直就是一场梦。

“不,不完全如此!那玩意儿是从实验室的东南角出发的,它回来时却又停在了你们当初看到它时的那个西北方向的靠墙处。两地的间距恰巧是我登陆的小草坪到莫洛克人摆弄我机器的白色斯芬克斯像座基的距离。

“有一会儿我的脑子停滞了。我很快站起身,穿过过道来到这里,我是一瘸一拐走过来的,因为我的脚很痛,并且还脏得要命。我看到了门边桌子上的那份《帕尔马尔报》,发现日期确实是今天,再看钟,发现时间即将8点。我听到你们的声音和盘子盆子的铿锵声。我犹豫不决,我感到非常恶心和虚弱。这时,我闻到了香喷喷的肉昧,于是推开门见到了你们。接下来的事情你们都知道了,我洗澡,吃饭,然后我就开始给你们讲我的历险了。”

“我知道,”他停顿片刻后说,“我讲的这一切对你们来说绝对是难以置信的,但对我来说,唯一难以置信的就是我今晚能坐在这熟悉的老房子里,望着你们友好的面孔对你们讲述这些奇遇。”他看着医生。“不,我没法指望你们相信我的话。就把它当作谎话,或者预言,说这是我在车间里做的梦吧,就认为我一直在思索我们人类的命运,最终捏造了这个事情吧,把我对事情真实性的维护当作仅仅是使它引人入胜的一种艺术手法吧,把它当作一个故事,你们以为如何?”

他拿起烟斗,以习惯的动作紧张地在炉栅的横杆上敲敲。顷刻间房间里鸦雀无声。接着椅子开始吱吱嘎嘎,鞋子也在地毯上沙沙地擦动起来。我把目光从时间游客的脸上移开,朝四周的听众看看。他们坐在黑暗里,细小的光点在他们前面晃动。医生好像专心致志地在琢磨我们的主人。编辑目不转睛地注视着他的雪茄烟头,这是第六支了。记者在摸他的手表。其余的人我记得都坐在那里没有动。

编辑叹着气站起身来。“可借你不是写故事的人!”他说着把手搭到时间游客的肩膀上。

“你不相信?”

“恩——”

“我认为你不相信。”

时间游客转向我们。“火柴在哪里?”他说。他点亮一根火柴,边抽烟斗边讲话。“老实告诉你们……我自己都几乎不相信……然而……”

他的目光带着默默的疑问落到小桌上面凋谢的白花上。接着,他把拿着烟斗的那只手翻了过来,我看见他望着指关节上还没愈合的伤疤。

医生起身来到灯前,细细打量桌上的白花。“雌蕊群很奇怪。”他说。心理学家俯身想看看清楚,同时伸手准备拿一朵。

“已经12点3刻了,”记者说,“我们怎么回家去?”

“车站上出租马车多得很。”心理学家说。

“真是稀奇的东西,”医生说,“可我实在不知道这些白花属于何类植物。花可以给我吗?”

时间游客犹豫不决,接着他突然开了口。“当然不行。”

“这花到底是从哪里弄来的?”医生问。

时间游客把手放到头上,讲话时就像一个试图把躲避他的思想紧紧抓住的人。“它们是威娜放到我口袋里的。当时我在时间旅行途中。”他期房间四周看了一眼。“真该死,我什么也记不得了。这房间和你们还有日常生活的气氛使我的记忆无法承受。我制造过时间机器或时间机器模型吗?这一切仅仅是一场梦吗?都说人生如梦,有时犹如一场噩梦,可我再也忍受不了这样的梦了。那是疯狂。这梦是从哪里来的?……我得去看看那架机器。真有这样的机器!”

他一把抓起火光闪耀的灯,提着它来到走廊里。我们跟着他。摇曳的灯光下,时间机器就在眼前,矮墩墩的,很难看,并且斜歪在那里。它是用黄铜、乌木、象牙和半透明的闪亮的石英做成的,摸上去很结实——因为我伸手摸了下机器的栏杆——象牙上有棕色的斑点和污渍,机器的下半部分有些草和青苔的痕迹,一根栏杆弯曲了。

时间游客把灯放到工作台上,伸手抚摸着损坏的栏杆。“现在没事了,”他说,“我对你们讲的故事是真的,真对不起把你们带到这里来挨冻。”他拿起灯,我们全都默不作声地回到了会客室。

他陪我们走到门厅,并帮编辑穿上了外套。医生望着他的脸,支支吾吾告诉他不能再劳累过度了,时间游客厅了哈哈大笑。我记得他是站在敞开着的门口和我们大声道晚安的。

我和编辑合坐一辆出租马车回家。他认为这个故事是“花哨的谎言”,我自己却得不出任何结论。这故事是如此离奇和难以相信,时间游客的讲述又是如此的振振有词和严肃认真。那一夜的大半夜时间我都醒着,老惦记着这件事。我决定第二天再去看望时间游客。据说他在实验室里,另外这房子我也已经熟门熟路,于是我直接去找他了。可实验室里空无一人,我盯着时间机器看了一会儿,随后伸手碰了下操纵杆。这矮墩墩的、看上去挺结实的机器立即像风中的树枝一样晃动起来。它摇摇摆摆的样子尤其使我吃惊,我奇怪地想起了不许我乱摸乱动的童年岁月。我穿过走廊走了回来。时间游客在会客室里遇上了我,他正要出门,一手夹着一架小照相机,一手夹着一只背包。他看到我后哈哈大笑,只得伸出胳臂肘和我握手。“我很忙”,他说,“忙那边那个东西。”

“可你不会是玩把戏吧?”我说,“你真的穿越时间了吗?”

“真的,我确实这样做了。”他真诚地望着我的眼睛,左右为难,随后他的目光在房子里转悠了一圈。“我只要半小时,”他说,“我知道你为什么来,你这人真好。这里有几本杂志,如果你愿意留下来吃午饭,这次我将向你彻底证明时间旅行的事,用标本和所有可能的东西,可你能原谅我现在离开一下吗?”

我同意了,当时几乎没听懂他话里的全部含义。他点了点头,沿着走廊朝前走去。我听见实验室的门砰的一声关上了,于是我在椅子里坐下来,拿起一份日报。他午饭前准备干什么?这时,报上的一张广告突然使我想起我曾答应两点钟和出版商理查森见面。我看了看手表,发现赴约的时间都快不够了。我赶忙起身,沿走道过去和时间游客告别。

当我握住门把手的时候,我听到一声惊叫,惊叫嘎然而止,接着是一声喀哒和一声巨响。我打开实验室的门,一股旋风在我身旁刮了起来,房子里传来破玻璃落地的声音。时间游客不在里面。我好像看见一个鬼怪似的模糊身影,坐在一团旋转的黑黄相间的东西上,身出随即不见了,可它是那么透明,连后面摆有图纸的工作台我都看得清清楚楚。但当我拭目细看时,这幻影消失了。时间机器不在了。实验室的那一头空空如也,只有被掀起的灰尘在徐徐落下,很显然,一块天窗玻璃刚刚砸下来。

我感到一种莫名其妙的诧异。我知道奇怪的事情发生了,可一时又弄不清是什么奇怪的事情。我站在那里,目不转睛地望着眼前的情景,通花园的门开了,男仆走了进来。

我俩相互望了一眼,这时我心里有了主意。“先生是从那边出去的吗?”

“没有,先生。没人从这条路出来。我原以为在这里能找到他。”

这下我全明白了。我冒着得罪理查森的危险留了下来,等待时间游客的归来:等待第二个也许是更离奇的故事,等待他要带回的标本和照片。但是我现在又担心要等上一辈子了。时间游客已经失踪3年,众所周知,他至今没有回来。



欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533