I recently got The Time Machine by H.G.Wells and I am quite intrigued by this line near the end of the story :-

"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, specimens and all. If you'll forgive my leaving you now?"

In the paragraph above, I have highlighted the words - "half an hour" - as I am slightly confused by the fact that even though he had the power to travel to any point in time he wanted, he asked for half an hour of time. He could have just time travelled, obtained his specimens, and returned with them moments later, although in reality, he would have travelled to the future and back again.

Why does he ask for such a long time here? Was he trying to prevent a paradox? He did not need to get ready or anything, because the author briefly left and then returned almost immediately to tell the Time Traveller that he had an appointment, and the Time Traveller had already departed.

Why did he ask for so much time?

  • 3
    Half an hour is such a long time? Maybe he just wanted a chance to wash up and change into clean clothes after his travel?
    – user14111
    Dec 18, 2020 at 9:39
  • @user14111 - Who knows? Dec 18, 2020 at 10:07
  • He was going to use the time machine to bring back some proof, then get the (presumably very messy) room tidied up.
    – Valorum
    Dec 18, 2020 at 12:06
  • @Valorum - quite possible. But that does not seem very likely as an explanation. Any other ideas? Dec 18, 2020 at 14:25
  • Well, we know that traveling leaves the room dishevelled.
    – Valorum
    Dec 18, 2020 at 14:27


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