In The Time Machine, how do the guests react to the tale of the Time Traveller's adventure?
The Time Traveller himself anticipates that the account of his adventure would be met with absolute scepticism, and he is right. Of course, his own vague sense of what had happened and whether it was real or not does not necessarily help matters much either. The editor, for example, responds to the Time Traveller by saying, "What a pity it is you're not a writer of stories!" The medical man asks of the flowers that the Time Traveller brought back with him from the future, "Where did you really get them?" The Time Traveller himself then feels the urge to look upon the machine to prove that he did actually travel through time, deliberately casting his own adventure into doubt by saying:
I'm damned if it isn't all going. This room and you and the atmosphere of everyday 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!
To the Time Traveller himself, then, his story, now that he has told it, has the quality of an insubstantial dream, and he feels the compulsive need to check the reality of his Time Machine to assure himself of the truth of his adventure. Lastly, the narrator himself, we are told, thought the adventure a "gaudy lie." It is only when he returns and sees the Time Traveller disappearing that he has cause to question his judgement.