Wells_The_invisible_man

The Invisible Man

 

A Grotesque Romance

 

By H. G. Wells

 

 

 

CONTENTS

 

I The strange Man’s Arrival

II Mr. Teddy Henfrey’s first Impressions

III The thousand and one Bottles

IV Mr. Cuss interviews the Stranger

V The Burglary at the Vicarage

VI The Furniture that went mad

VII The Unveiling of the Stranger

VIII In Transit

IX Mr. Thomas Marvel

X Mr. Marvel’s Visit to Iping

XII The invisible Man loses his Temper

XIII Mr. Marvel discusses his Resignation

XIV At Port Stowe

XV The Man who was running

XVII Dr. Kemp’s Visitor

XVIII The invisible Man sleeps

XIX Certain first Principles

XX At the House in Great Portland Street

XXI In Oxford Street

XXII In the Emporium

XXIII In Drury Lane

XXIV The Plan that failed

XXV The Hunting of the invisible Man

XXVI The Wicksteed Murder

XXVII The Siege of Kemp’s House

XXVIII The Hunter hunted

The Epilogue

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER I

 

THE STRANGE MAN’S ARRIVAL

 

 

The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, through a

biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over

the down, walking from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a

little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand. He was wrapped

up from head to foot, and the brim of his soft felt hat hid every

inch of his face but the shiny tip of his nose; the snow had piled

itself against his shoulders and chest, and added a white crest to

shook the snow from off himself in the bar, and followed Mrs. Hall

into her guest parlour to strike his bargain. And with that much

introduction, that and a couple of sovereigns flung upon the table,

he took up his quarters in the inn.

 

Mrs. Hall lit the fire and left him there while she went to prepare

him a meal with her own hands. A guest to stop at Iping in the

wintertime was an unheard-of piece of luck, let alone a guest who

good fortune. As soon as the bacon was well under way, and Millie,

her lymphatic aid, had been brisked up a bit by a few deftly chosen

expressions of contempt, she carried the cloth, plates, and glasses

into the parlour and began to lay them with the utmost _eclat_.

Although the fire was burning up briskly, she was surprised to see

that her visitor still wore his hat and coat, standing with his back

to her and staring out of the window at the falling snow in the yard.

His gloved hands were clasped behind him, and he seemed to be lost

in thought. She noticed that the melting snow that still sprinkled

 

 

She was not sure she had heard him, and was about to repeat her

question.

 

big blue spectacles with sidelights, and had a bush side-whisker

over his coat-collar that completely hid his cheeks and face.

 

 

He made no answer, and had turned his face away from her again, and

Mrs. Hall, feeling that her conversational advances were ill-timed,

laid the rest of the table things in a quick staccato and whisked

out of the room. When she returned he was still standing there, like

a man of stone, his back hunched, his collar turned up, his dripping

hat-brim turned down, hiding his face and ears completely. She put

down the eggs and bacon with considerable emphasis, and called

 

was closing the door. Then he swung round and approached the table

with a certain eager quickness.

 

As she went behind the bar to the kitchen she heard a sound repeated

at regular intervals. Chirk, chirk, chirk, it went, the sound of a

herself finished mixing the mustard, she gave Millie a few verbal

stabs for her excessive slowness. She had cooked the ham and eggs,

laid the table, and done everything, while Millie (help indeed!) had

only succeeded in delaying the mustard. And him a new guest and

wanting to stay! Then she filled the mustard pot, and, putting it

with a certain stateliness upon a gold and black tea-tray, carried

it into the parlour.

 

She rapped and entered promptly. As she did so her visitor moved

quickly, so that she got but a glimpse of a white object disappearing

behind the table. It would seem he was picking something from the

floor. She rapped down the mustard pot on the table, and then she

noticed the overcoat and hat had been taken off and put over a chair

in front of the fire, and a pair of wet boots threatened rust to her

 

she saw he had raised his head and was sitting and looking at her.

 

For a moment she stood gaping at him, too surprised to speak.

 

He held a white cloth—it was a serviette he had brought with

him—over the lower part of his face, so that his mouth and jaws

were completely hidden, and that was the reason of his muffled

voice. But it was not that which startled Mrs. Hall. It was the fact

that all his forehead above his blue glasses was covered by a white

bandage, and that another covered his ears, leaving not a scrap of

his face exposed excepting only his pink, peaked nose. It was bright,

pink, and shiny just as it had been at first. He wore a dark-brown

velvet jacket with a high, black, linen-lined collar turned up about

his neck. The thick black hair, escaping as it could below and

between the cross bandages, projected in curious tails and horns,

giving him the strangest appearance conceivable. This muffled and

bandaged head was so unlike what she had anticipated, that for a

moment she was rigid.

 

He did not remove the serviette, but remained holding it, as she

saw now, with a brown gloved hand, and regarding her with his

distinctly through the white cloth.

 

Her nerves began to recover from the shock they had received. She

 

at her again.

 

his clothes out of the room. She glanced at his white-swathed head

and blue goggles again as she was going out of the door; but his

napkin was still in front of his face. She shivered a little as she

closed the door behind her, and her face was eloquent of her surprise

softly to the kitchen, and was too preoccupied to ask Millie what

she was messing about with _now_, when she got there.

 

The visitor sat and listened to her retreating feet. He glanced

inquiringly at the window before he removed his serviette, and

resumed his meal. He took a mouthful, glanced suspiciously at the

window, took another mouthful, then rose and, taking the serviette

in his hand, walked across the room and pulled the blind down to

the top of the white muslin that obscured the lower panes. This

left the room in a twilight. This done, he returned with an easier

air to the table and his meal.

 

 

She put on some more coal, unfolded the clothes-horse, and extended

mouth all the time. Talkin’ through it! … Perhaps his mouth was

 

 

When Mrs. Hall went to clear away the stranger’s lunch, her idea

that his mouth must also have been cut or disfigured in the accident

she supposed him to have suffered, was confirmed, for he was smoking

a pipe, and all the time that she was in the room he never loosened

the silk muffler he had wrapped round the lower part of his face to

put the mouthpiece to his lips. Yet it was not forgetfulness, for

she saw he glanced at it as it smouldered out. He sat in the corner

with his back to the window-blind and spoke now, having eaten and

drunk and being comfortably warmed through, with less aggressive

brevity than before. The reflection of the fire lent a kind of red

animation to his big spectacles they had lacked hitherto.

 

asked her how he could have it sent. He bowed his bandaged head

would go over?

 

Mrs. Hall, nothing loath, answered his questions and developed a

answer to the question about a trap; and then, snatching at an

and more. A gentleman killed, besides his coachman. Accidents, sir,

 

through his muffler, eyeing her quietly through his impenetrable

glasses.

 

my sister’s son, Tom, jest cut his arm with a scythe, tumbled on it

in the ‘ayfield, and, bless me! he was three months tied up sir.

You’d hardly believe it. It’s regular given me a dread of a scythe,

 

 

 

The visitor laughed abruptly, a bark of a laugh that he seemed to

 

him, as I had—my sister being took up with her little ones so

much. There was bandages to do, sir, and bandages to undo. So that

 

 

Mrs. Hall was pulled up suddenly. It was certainly rude of him,

after telling him all she had done. She gasped at him for a moment,

and remembered the two sovereigns. She went for the matches.

 

shoulder upon her and stared out of the window again. It was

altogether too discouraging. Evidently he was sensitive on the

and Millie had a hot time of it that afternoon.

 

The visitor remained in the parlour until four o’clock, without

giving the ghost of an excuse for an intrusion. For the most part

he was quite still during that time; it would seem he sat in the

growing darkness smoking in the firelight—perhaps dozing.

 

Once or twice a curious listener might have heard him at the coals,

and for the space of five minutes he was audible pacing the room.

He seemed to be talking to himself. Then the armchair creaked as

he sat down again.

 

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

MR. TEDDY HENFREY’S FIRST IMPRESSIONS

 

 

At four o’clock, when it was fairly dark and Mrs. Hall was screwing

up her courage to go in and ask her visitor if he would take some

The snow outside was falling faster.

 

old clock in the parlour a bit of a look. ‘Tis going, and it strikes

well and hearty; but the hour-hand won’t do nuthin’ but point at

 

And leading the way, she went across to the parlour door and rapped

and entered.

 

Her visitor, she saw as she opened the door, was seated in the

armchair before the fire, dozing it would seem, with his bandaged

head drooping on one side. The only light in the room was the red

glow from the fire—which lit his eyes like adverse railway signals,

but left his downcast face in darkness—and the scanty vestiges of

the day that came in through the open door. Everything was ruddy,

shadowy, and indistinct to her, the more so since she had just been

lighting the bar lamp, and her eyes were dazzled. But for a second

it seemed to her that the man she looked at had an enormous mouth

wide open—a vast and incredible mouth that swallowed the whole of

the lower portion of his face. It was the sensation of a moment:

the white-bound head, the monstrous goggle eyes, and this huge yawn

below it. Then he stirred, started up in his chair, put up his hand.

She opened the door wide, so that the room was lighter, and she saw

him more clearly, with the muffler held up to his face just as she

had seen him hold the serviette before. The shadows, she fancied,

had tricked her.

 

she said, recovering from the momentary shock.

 

and speaking over his hand, and then, getting more fully awake,

 

Mrs. Hall went away to get a lamp, and he rose and stretched

himself. Then came the light, and Mr. Teddy Henfrey, entering, was

 

 

 

 

 

like to be alone and undisturbed.

 

had intended to apologise and withdraw, but this anticipation

reassured him. The stranger turned round with his back to the

 

Mrs. Hall was about to leave the room—she made no conversational

advances this time, because she did not want to be snubbed in front

of Mr. Henfrey—when her visitor asked her if she had made any

arrangements about his boxes at Bramblehurst. She told him she had

mentioned the matter to the postman, and that the carrier could

 

She was certain, with a marked coldness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wish to be disturbed in my work. In addition to my work, an

 

 

weak and painful that I have to shut myself up in the dark for

hours together. Lock myself up. Sometimes—now and then. Not at

present, certainly. At such times the slightest disturbance, the

entry of a stranger into the room, is a source of excruciating

 

 

irresistible air of finality he could assume at will. Mrs. Hall

reserved her question and sympathy for a better occasion.

 

After Mrs. Hall had left the room, he remained standing in front of

the fire, glaring, so Mr. Henfrey puts it, at the clock-mending. Mr.

Henfrey not only took off the hands of the clock, and the face, but

extracted the works; and he tried to work in as slow and quiet and

unassuming a manner as possible. He worked with the lamp close to

him, and the green shade threw a brilliant light upon his hands,

and upon the frame and wheels, and left the rest of the room

shadowy. When he looked up, coloured patches swam in his eyes.

Being constitutionally of a curious nature, he had removed the

works—a quite unnecessary proceeding—with the idea of delaying his

departure and perhaps falling into conversation with the stranger.

But the stranger stood there, perfectly silent and still. So still,

it got on Henfrey’s nerves. He felt alone in the room and looked up,

and there, grey and dim, was the bandaged head and huge blue lenses

staring fixedly, with a mist of green spots drifting in front of

them. It was so uncanny to Henfrey that for a minute they remained

staring blankly at one another. Then Henfrey looked down again. Very

uncomfortable position! One would like to say something. Should he

remark that the weather was very cold for the time of year?

 

 

 

finished and went.

 

 

 

 

At Gleeson’s corner he saw Hall, who had recently married the

the Iping conveyance, when occasional people required it, to

Sidderbridge Junction, coming towards him on his return from that

 

 

 

 

And he proceeded to give Hall a vivid description of his grotesque

women are that trustful—where strangers are concerned. He’s took

 

 

of him under the week. And he’s got a lot of luggage coming

 

He told Hall how his aunt at Hastings had been swindled by a

stranger with empty portmanteaux. Altogether he left Hall vaguely

 

Teddy trudged on his way with his mind considerably relieved.

 

severely rated by his wife on the length of time he had spent in

Sidderbridge, and his mild inquiries were answered snappishly and

in a manner not to the point. But the seed of suspicion Teddy

had sown germinated in the mind of Mr. Hall in spite of these

resolved to ascertain more about the personality of his guest at

the earliest possible opportunity. And after the stranger had gone

to bed, which he did about half-past nine, Mr. Hall went very

aggressively into the parlour and looked very hard at his wife’s

furniture, just to show that the stranger wasn’t master there,

and scrutinised closely and a little contemptuously a sheet of

mathematical computations the stranger had left. When retiring

for the night he instructed Mrs. Hall to look very closely at

the stranger’s luggage when it came next day.

 

 

She was all the more inclined to snap at Hall because the stranger

was undoubtedly an unusually strange sort of stranger, and she was

by no means assured about him in her own mind. In the middle of the

night she woke up dreaming of huge white heads like turnips, that

came trailing after her, at the end of interminable necks, and with

vast black eyes. But being a sensible woman, she subdued her

terrors and turned over and went to sleep again.

 

 

 

CHAPTER III

 

THE THOUSAND AND ONE BOTTLES

 

 

So it was that on the twenty-ninth day of February, at the beginning

of the thaw, this singular person fell out of infinity into Iping

village. Next day his luggage arrived through the slush—and very

remarkable luggage it was. There were a couple of trunks indeed,

such as a rational man might need, but in addition there were

a box of books—big, fat books, of which some were just in an

incomprehensible handwriting—and a dozen or more crates, boxes,

and cases, containing objects packed in straw, as it seemed to

Hall, tugging with a casual curiosity at the straw—glass bottles.

The stranger, muffled in hat, coat, gloves, and wrapper, came out

impatiently to meet Fearenside’s cart, while Hall was having a word

or so of gossip preparatory to helping being them in. Out he came,

not noticing Fearenside’s dog, who was sniffing in a _dilettante_

 

And he came down the steps towards the tail of the cart as if to

lay hands on the smaller crate.

 

No sooner had Fearenside’s dog caught sight of him, however, than

it began to bristle and growl savagely, and when he rushed down the

steps it gave an undecided hop, and then sprang straight at his

 

They saw the dog’s teeth had slipped the hand, heard a kick, saw the

dog execute a flanking jump and get home on the stranger’s leg, and

heard the rip of his trousering. Then the finer end of Fearenside’s

whip reached his property, and the dog, yelping with dismay,

retreated under the wheels of the waggon. It was all the business of

a swift half-minute. No one spoke, everyone shouted. The stranger

glanced swiftly at his torn glove and at his leg, made as if he

would stoop to the latter, then turned and rushed swiftly up the

steps into the inn. They heard him go headlong across the passage

and up the uncarpeted stairs to his bedroom.

 

whip in his hand, while the dog watched him through the wheel.

 

 

He went straight upstairs, and the stranger’s door being ajar, he

pushed it open and was entering without any ceremony, being of a

naturally sympathetic turn of mind.

 

The blind was down and the room dim. He caught a glimpse of a most

singular thing, what seemed a handless arm waving towards him, and

a face of three huge indeterminate spots on white, very like the

face of a pale pansy. Then he was struck violently in the chest,

hurled back, and the door slammed in his face and locked. It was so

rapid that it gave him no time to observe. A waving of indecipherable

shapes, a blow, and a concussion. There he stood on the dark little

landing, wondering what it might be that he had seen.

 

A couple of minutes after, he rejoined the little group that had

about it all over again for the second time; there was Mrs. Hall

saying his dog didn’t have no business to bite her guests; there

was Huxter, the general dealer from over the road, interrogative;

and Sandy Wadgers from the forge, judicial; besides women and

 

Mr. Hall, staring at them from the steps and listening, found it

incredible that he had seen anything so very remarkable happen

upstairs. Besides, his vocabulary was altogether too limited to

express his impressions.

 

 

 

 

Suddenly the dog began growling again.

 

the muffled stranger with his collar turned up, and his hat-brim

and gloves had been changed.

 

 

 

He then swore to himself, so Mr. Hall asserts.

 

Directly the first crate was, in accordance with his directions,

carried into the parlour, the stranger flung himself upon it with

extraordinary eagerness, and began to unpack it, scattering the

straw with an utter disregard of Mrs. Hall’s carpet. And from it he

began to produce bottles—little fat bottles containing powders,

small and slender bottles containing coloured and white fluids,

fluted blue bottles labeled Poison, bottles with round bodies and

slender necks, large green-glass bottles, large white-glass bottles,

bottles with glass stoppers and frosted labels, bottles with fine

corks, bottles with bungs, bottles with wooden caps, wine bottles,

salad-oil bottles—putting them in rows on the chiffonnier, on the

mantel, on the table under the window, round the floor, on the

bookshelf—everywhere. The chemist’s shop in Bramblehurst could not

boast half so many. Quite a sight it was. Crate after crate yielded

bottles, until all six were empty and the table high with straw; the

only things that came out of these crates besides the bottles were

a number of test-tubes and a carefully packed balance.

 

And directly the crates were unpacked, the stranger went to the

window and set to work, not troubling in the least about the litter

of straw, the fire which had gone out, the box of books outside,

nor for the trunks and other luggage that had gone upstairs.

 

When Mrs. Hall took his dinner in to him, he was already so

absorbed in his work, pouring little drops out of the bottles into

test-tubes, that he did not hear her until she had swept away the

bulk of the straw and put the tray on the table, with some little

emphasis perhaps, seeing the state that the floor was in. Then he

half turned his head and immediately turned it away again. But she

saw he had removed his glasses; they were beside him on the table,

and it seemed to her that his eye sockets were extraordinarily

hollow. He put on his spectacles again, and then turned and faced

her. She was about to complain of the straw on the floor when he

anticipated her.

 

of abnormal exasperation that seemed so characteristic of him.

 

 

and necessary investigations—the slightest disturbance, the jar

 

 

 

 

mumbled at her—words suspiciously like curses.

 

He was so odd, standing there, so aggressive and explosive, bottle

in one hand and test-tube in the other, that Mrs. Hall was quite

 

 

 

He turned and sat down, with his coat-collar toward her.

 

All the afternoon he worked with the door locked and, as Mrs. Hall

testifies, for the most part in silence. But once there was a

concussion and a sound of bottles ringing together as though the

table had been hit, and the smash of a bottle flung violently down,

knock.

 

thousand, four hundred thousand! The huge multitude! Cheated! All

my life it may take me! … Patience! Patience indeed! … Fool!

 

There was a noise of hobnails on the bricks in the bar, and Mrs.

Hall had very reluctantly to leave the rest of his soliloquy.

When she returned the room was silent again, save for the faint

crepitation of his chair and the occasional clink of a bottle.

It was all over; the stranger had resumed work.

 

When she took in his tea she saw broken glass in the corner of the

room under the concave mirror, and a golden stain that had been

carelessly wiped. She called attention to it.

 

and he went on ticking a list in the exercise book before him.

 

late in the afternoon, and they were in the little beer-shop of

Iping Hanger.

 

 

Leastways, his legs are. I seed through the tear of his trousers

and the tear of his glove. You’d have expected a sort of pinky to

show, wouldn’t you? Well—there wasn’t none. Just blackness. I

 

 

I’m thinking. That marn’s a piebald, Teddy. Black here and white

there—in patches. And he’s ashamed of it. He’s a kind of half-breed,

and the colour’s come off patchy instead of mixing. I’ve heard of

such things before. And it’s the common way with horses, as any one

 

 

 

CHAPTER IV

 

MR. CUSS INTERVIEWS THE STRANGER

 

 

I have told the circumstances of the stranger’s arrival in Iping

with a certain fulness of detail, in order that the curious

impression he created may be understood by the reader. But

excepting two odd incidents, the circumstances of his stay until

the extraordinary day of the club festival may be passed over very

cursorily. There were a number of skirmishes with Mrs. Hall on

matters of domestic discipline, but in every case until late April,

when the first signs of penury began, he over-rode her by the easy

expedient of an extra payment. Hall did not like him, and whenever

he dared he talked of the advisability of getting rid of him; but

he showed his dislike chiefly by concealing it ostentatiously, and

Then we’ll see. He may be a bit overbearing, but bills settled

 

The stranger did not go to church, and indeed made no difference

between Sunday and the irreligious days, even in costume. He

worked, as Mrs. Hall thought, very fitfully. Some days he would

come down early and be continuously busy. On others he would rise

late, pace his room, fretting audibly for hours together, smoke,

sleep in the armchair by the fire. Communication with the world

beyond the village he had none. His temper continued very

uncertain; for the most part his manner was that of a man suffering

under almost unendurable provocation, and once or twice things were

snapped, torn, crushed, or broken in spasmodic gusts of violence.

He seemed under a chronic irritation of the greatest intensity. His

habit of talking to himself in a low voice grew steadily upon him,

but though Mrs. Hall listened conscientiously she could make

neither head nor tail of what she heard.

 

He rarely went abroad by daylight, but at twilight he would go out

muffled up invisibly, whether the weather were cold or not, and he

chose the loneliest paths and those most overshadowed by trees and

banks. His goggling spectacles and ghastly bandaged face under the

penthouse of his hat, came with a disagreeable suddenness out of

the darkness upon one or two home-going labourers, and Teddy

nine, was scared shamefully by the stranger’s skull-like head (he

was walking hat in hand) lit by the sudden light of the opened inn

door. Such children as saw him at nightfall dreamt of bogies, and

it seemed doubtful whether he disliked boys more than they disliked

him, or the reverse; but there was certainly a vivid enough dislike

on either side.

 

It was inevitable that a person of so remarkable an appearance and

bearing should form a frequent topic in such a village as Iping.

Opinion was greatly divided about his occupation. Mrs. Hall was

sensitive on the point. When questioned, she explained very

gingerly over the syllables as one who dreads pitfalls. When asked

what an experimental investigator was, she would say with a touch

of superiority that most educated people knew such things as that,

had an accident, she said, which temporarily discoloured his face

and hands, and being of a sensitive disposition, he was averse to

any public notice of the fact.

 

Out of her hearing there was a view largely entertained that he was

a criminal trying to escape from justice by wrapping himself up so

as to conceal himself altogether from the eye of the police. This

idea sprang from the brain of Mr. Teddy Henfrey. No crime of any

magnitude dating from the middle or end of February was known to

have occurred. Elaborated in the imagination of Mr. Gould, the

probationary assistant in the National School, this theory took the

form that the stranger was an Anarchist in disguise, preparing

explosives, and he resolved to undertake such detective operations

as his time permitted. These consisted for the most part in looking

very hard at the stranger whenever they met, or in asking people

who had never seen the stranger, leading questions about him. But

he detected nothing.

 

Another school of opinion followed Mr. Fearenside, and either

accepted the piebald view or some modification of it; as, for

being a bit of a theologian, compared the stranger to the man with

the one talent. Yet another view explained the entire matter by

regarding the stranger as a harmless lunatic. That had the

advantage of accounting for everything straight away.

 

Between these main groups there were waverers and compromisers.

Sussex folk have few superstitions, and it was only after the

events of early April that the thought of the supernatural was

first whispered in the village. Even then it was only credited

among the women folk.

 

But whatever they thought of him, people in Iping, on the whole,

agreed in disliking him. His irritability, though it might have

been comprehensible to an urban brain-worker, was an amazing thing

to these quiet Sussex villagers. The frantic gesticulations they

surprised now and then, the headlong pace after nightfall that

swept him upon them round quiet corners, the inhuman bludgeoning

of all tentative advances of curiosity, the taste for twilight

that led to the closing of doors, the pulling down of blinds,

the extinction of candles and lamps—who could agree with such

goings on? They drew aside as he passed down the village, and when

he had gone by, young humourists would up with coat-collars and

down with hat-brims, and go pacing nervously after him in imitation

of his occult bearing. There was a song popular at that time called

(in aid of the church lamps), and thereafter whenever one or two of

the villagers were gathered together and the stranger appeared, a

bar or so of this tune, more or less sharp or flat, was whistled in

 

Cuss, the general practitioner, was devoured by curiosity. The

bandages excited his professional interest, the report of the

thousand and one bottles aroused his jealous regard. All through

April and May he coveted an opportunity of talking to the stranger,

and at last, towards Whitsuntide, he could stand it no longer, but

hit upon the subscription-list for a village nurse as an excuse. He

was surprised to find that Mr. Hall did not know his guest’s name.

so silly not to know the man’s name.

 

Cuss rapped at the parlour door and entered. There was a fairly

and then the door closed and cut Mrs. Hall off from the rest of

the conversation.

 

She could hear the murmur of voices for the next ten minutes, then

a cry of surprise, a stirring of feet, a chair flung aside, a bark

of laughter, quick steps to the door, and Cuss appeared, his face

white, his eyes staring over his shoulder. He left the door open

behind him, and without looking at her strode across the hall and

went down the steps, and she heard his feet hurrying along the

road. He carried his hat in his hand. She stood behind the door,

looking at the open door of the parlour. Then she heard the

stranger laughing quietly, and then his footsteps came across the

room. She could not see his face where she stood. The parlour door

slammed, and the place was silent again.

 

 

loose sheets of his forth-coming sermon.

 

 

 

 

When his nerves had been steadied by a glass of cheap sherry—the

only drink the good vicar had available—he told him of the

demand a subscription for that Nurse Fund. He’d stuck his hands in

his pockets as I came in, and he sat down lumpily in his chair.

Sniffed. I told him I’d heard he took an interest in scientific

things. He said yes. Sniffed again. Kept on sniffing all the time;

evidently recently caught an infernal cold. No wonder, wrapped up

like that! I developed the nurse idea, and all the while kept my

eyes open. Bottles—chemicals—everywhere. Balance, test-tubes

in stands, and a smell of—evening primrose. Would he subscribe?

Said he’d consider it. Asked him, point-blank, was he researching.

Said he was. A long research? Got quite cross. ‘A damnable long

research,’ said he, blowing the cork out, so to speak. ‘Oh,’ said

I. And out came the grievance. The man was just on the boil, and my

question boiled him over. He had been given a prescription, most

valuable prescription—what for he wouldn’t say. Was it medical?

‘Damn you! What are you fishing after?’ I apologised. Dignified

sniff and cough. He resumed. He’d read it. Five ingredients. Put it

down; turned his head. Draught of air from window lifted the paper.

Swish, rustle. He was working in a room with an open fireplace, he

said. Saw a flicker, and there was the prescription burning and

lifting chimneyward. Rushed towards it just as it whisked up the

chimney. So! Just at that point, to illustrate his story, out came

 

 

deformity! Got a cork arm, I suppose, and has taken it off. Then, I

thought, there’s something odd in that. What the devil keeps that

sleeve up and open, if there’s nothing in it? There was nothing in

it, I tell you. Nothing down it, right down to the joint. I could

see right down it to the elbow, and there was a glimmer of light

shining through a tear of the cloth. ‘Good God!’ I said. Then he

stopped. Stared at me with those black goggles of his, and then

 

 

back in his pocket quickly. ‘I was saying,’ said he, ‘that there

was the prescription burning, wasn’t I?’ Interrogative cough.

‘How the devil,’ said I, ‘can you move an empty sleeve like that?’

‘Empty sleeve?’ ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘an empty sleeve.’

 

stood up right away. I stood up too. He came towards me in three

very slow steps, and stood quite close. Sniffed venomously. I

didn’t flinch, though I’m hanged if that bandaged knob of his, and

those blinkers, aren’t enough to unnerve any one, coming quietly

up to you.

 

At staring and saying nothing a barefaced man, unspectacled, starts

scratch. Then very quietly he pulled his sleeve out of his pocket

again, and raised his arm towards me as though he would show it to

me again. He did it very, very slowly. I looked at it. Seemed an

age. ‘Well?’ said I, clearing my throat, ‘there’s nothing in it.’

 

see right down it. He extended it straight towards me, slowly,

slowly—just like that—until the cuff was six inches from my

face. Queer thing to see an empty sleeve come at you like that!

 

 

 

Bunting began to laugh.

 

I tell you I was so startled, I hit his cuff hard, and turned

 

Cuss stopped. There was no mistaking the sincerity of his panic.

He turned round in a helpless way and took a second glass of the

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER V

 

THE BURGLARY AT THE VICARAGE

 

 

The facts of the burglary at the vicarage came to us chiefly

through the medium of the vicar and his wife. It occurred in the

small hours of Whit Monday, the day devoted in Iping to the Club

festivities. Mrs. Bunting, it seems, woke up suddenly in the

stillness that comes before the dawn, with the strong impression

that the door of their bedroom had opened and closed. She did not

arouse her husband at first, but sat up in bed listening. She then

distinctly heard the pad, pad, pad of bare feet coming out of the

adjoining dressing-room and walking along the passage towards the

staircase. As soon as she felt assured of this, she aroused the

Rev. Mr. Bunting as quietly as possible. He did not strike a light,

but putting on his spectacles, her dressing-gown and his bath

slippers, he went out on the landing to listen. He heard quite

distinctly a fumbling going on at his study desk down-stairs, and

then a violent sneeze.

 

At that he returned to his bedroom, armed himself with the most

obvious weapon, the poker, and descended the staircase as

noiselessly as possible. Mrs. Bunting came out on the landing.

 

The hour was about four, and the ultimate darkness of the night was

past. There was a faint shimmer of light in the hall, but the study

doorway yawned impenetrably black. Everything was still except the

faint creaking of the stairs under Mr. Bunting’s tread, and the

slight movements in the study. Then something snapped, the drawer

was opened, and there was a rustle of papers. Then came an

imprecation, and a match was struck and the study was flooded with

yellow light. Mr. Bunting was now in the hall, and through the

crack of the door he could see the desk and the open drawer and a

candle burning on the desk. But the robber he could not see. He

stood there in the hall undecided what to do, and Mrs. Bunting, her

face white and intent, crept slowly downstairs after him. One thing

kept Mr. Bunting’s courage; the persuasion that this burglar was a

resident in the village.

 

They heard the chink of money, and realised that the robber had

found the housekeeping reserve of gold—two pounds ten in half

sovereigns altogether. At that sound Mr. Bunting was nerved to

abrupt action. Gripping the poker firmly, he rushed into the room,

fiercely, and then stooped amazed. Apparently the room was

perfectly empty.

 

Yet their conviction that they had, that very moment, heard somebody

moving in the room had amounted to a certainty. For half a minute,

perhaps, they stood gaping, then Mrs. Bunting went across the room

and looked behind the screen, while Mr. Bunting, by a kindred

impulse, peered under the desk. Then Mrs. Bunting turned back the

window-curtains, and Mr. Bunting looked up the chimney and probed it

with the poker. Then Mrs. Bunting scrutinised the waste-paper basket

and Mr. Bunting opened the lid of the coal-scuttle. Then they came

to a stop and stood with eyes interrogating each other.

 

 

 

 

She went hastily to the doorway.

 

 

There was a violent sneeze in the passage. They rushed out, and as

Bunting, and led the way. They both heard a sound of bolts being

hastily shot back.

 

As he opened the kitchen door he saw through the scullery that

the back door was just opening, and the faint light of early dawn

displayed the dark masses of the garden beyond. He is certain that

nothing went out of the door. It opened, stood open for a moment,

and then closed with a slam. As it did so, the candle Mrs. Bunting

was carrying from the study flickered and flared. It was a minute

or more before they entered the kitchen.

 

The place was empty. They refastened the back door, examined the

kitchen, pantry, and scullery thoroughly, and at last went down

into the cellar. There was not a soul to be found in the house,

search as they would.

 

Daylight found the vicar and his wife, a quaintly-costumed little

couple, still marvelling about on their own ground floor by the

unnecessary light of a guttering candle.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VI

 

THE FURNITURE THAT WENT MAD

 

 

Now it happened that in the early hours of Whit Monday, before

Millie was hunted out for the day, Mr. Hall and Mrs. Hall both rose

and went noiselessly down into the cellar. Their business there was

of a private nature, and had something to do with the specific

gravity of their beer. They had hardly entered the cellar when Mrs.

Hall found she had forgotten to bring down a bottle of sarsaparilla

from their joint-room. As she was the expert and principal operator

in this affair, Hall very properly went upstairs for it.

 

On the landing he was surprised to see that the stranger’s door was

ajar. He went on into his own room and found the bottle as he had

been directed.

 

But returning with the bottle, he noticed that the bolts of the

front door had been shot back, that the door was in fact simply on

the latch. And with a flash of inspiration he connected this with

the stranger’s room upstairs and the suggestions of Mr. Teddy

Henfrey. He distinctly remembered holding the candle while Mrs.

Hall shot these bolts overnight. At the sight he stopped, gaping,

then with the bottle still in his hand went upstairs again. He

rapped at the stranger’s door. There was no answer. He rapped

again; then pushed the door wide open and entered.

 

It was as he expected. The bed, the room also, was empty. And what

was stranger, even to his heavy intelligence, on the bedroom chair

and along the rail of the bed were scattered the garments, the only

garments so far as he knew, and the bandages of their guest. His

big slouch hat even was cocked jauntily over the bed-post.

 

As Hall stood there he heard his wife’s voice coming out of the

depth of the cellar, with that rapid telescoping of the syllables

and interrogative cocking up of the final words to a high note,

by which the West Sussex villager is wont to indicate a brisk

 

 

At first Mrs. Hall did not understand, and as soon as she did she

resolved to see the empty room for herself. Hall, still holding the

And what’s ‘e doin’ ‘ithout ‘is close, then? ‘Tas a most curious

 

As they came up the cellar steps they both, it was afterwards

ascertained, fancied they heard the front door open and shut, but

seeing it closed and nothing there, neither said a word to the other

about it at the time. Mrs. Hall passed her husband in the passage

and ran on first upstairs. Someone sneezed on the staircase. Hall,

following six steps behind, thought that he heard her sneeze. She,

going on first, was under the impression that Hall was sneezing.

 

She heard a sniff close behind her head as it seemed, and turning,

was surprised to see Hall a dozen feet off on the topmost stair.

But in another moment he was beside her. She bent forward and put

her hand on the pillow and then under the clothes.

 

 

As she did so, a most extraordinary thing happened. The bed-clothes

gathered themselves together, leapt up suddenly into a sort of peak,

and then jumped headlong over the bottom rail. It was exactly as if

a hand had clutched them in the centre and flung them aside.

Immediately after, the stranger’s hat hopped off the bed-post,

described a whirling flight in the air through the better part of

a circle, and then dashed straight at Mrs. Hall’s face. Then as

swiftly came the sponge from the washstand; and then the chair,

flinging the stranger’s coat and trousers carelessly aside, and

laughing drily in a voice singularly like the stranger’s, turned

itself up with its four legs at Mrs. Hall, seemed to take aim at her

for a moment, and charged at her. She screamed and turned, and then

the chair legs came gently but firmly against her back and impelled

her and Hall out of the room. The door slammed violently and was

locked. The chair and bed seemed to be executing a dance of triumph

for a moment, and then abruptly everything was still.

 

Mrs. Hall was left almost in a fainting condition in Mr. Hall’s

arms on the landing. It was with the greatest difficulty that Mr.

Hall and Millie, who had been roused by her scream of alarm,

succeeded in getting her downstairs, and applying the restoratives

customary in such cases.

 

 

 

I half guessed—I might ha’ known. With them goggling eyes and

bandaged head, and never going to church of a Sunday. And all

they bottles—more’n it’s right for any one to have. He’s put the

sperits into the furniture…. My good old furniture! ‘Twas in

that very chair my poor dear mother used to sit when I was a

 

 

They sent Millie across the street through the golden five o’clock

sunshine to rouse up Mr. Sandy Wadgers, the blacksmith. Mr.

Hall’s compliments and the furniture upstairs was behaving most

extraordinary. Would Mr. Wadgers come round? He was a knowing man,

was Mr. Wadgers, and very resourceful. He took quite a grave view

 

He came round greatly concerned. They wanted him to lead the way

upstairs to the room, but he didn’t seem to be in any hurry. He

preferred to talk in the passage. Over the way Huxter’s apprentice

came out and began taking down the shutters of the tobacco window.

He was called over to join the discussion. Mr. Huxter naturally

followed over in the course of a few minutes. The Anglo-Saxon

genius for parliamentary government asserted itself; there was a

perfectly right in bustin’ that there door open. A door onbust is

always open to bustin’, but ye can’t onbust a door once you’ve

 

And suddenly and most wonderfully the door of the room upstairs

opened of its own accord, and as they looked up in amazement,

they saw descending the stairs the muffled figure of the stranger

staring more blackly and blankly than ever with those unreasonably

large blue glass eyes of his. He came down stiffly and slowly,

staring all the time; he walked across the passage staring, then

stopped.

 

gloved finger and saw a bottle of sarsaparilla hard by the cellar

door. Then he entered the parlour, and suddenly, swiftly,

viciously, slammed the door in their faces.

 

Not a word was spoken until the last echoes of the slam had died

 

 

It took some time to bring the landlady’s husband up to that pitch.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER VII

 

THE UNVEILING OF THE STRANGER

 

 

about half-past five in the morning, and there he remained until

near midday, the blinds down, the door shut, and none, after Hall’s

repulse, venturing near him.

 

All that time he must have fasted. Thrice he rang his bell, the

third time furiously and continuously, but no one answered him.

came an imperfect rumour of the burglary at the vicarage, and two

and two were put together. Hall, assisted by Wadgers, went off to

find Mr. Shuckleforth, the magistrate, and take his advice. No one

ventured upstairs. How the stranger occupied himself is unknown.

Now and then he would stride violently up and down, and twice came

an outburst of curses, a tearing of paper, and a violent smashing

of bottles.

 

The little group of scared but curious people increased. Mrs. Huxter

came over; some gay young fellows resplendent in black ready-made

jackets and _pique_ paper ties—for it was Whit Monday—joined

the group with confused interrogations. Young Archie Harker

distinguished himself by going up the yard and trying to peep

under the window-blinds. He could see nothing, but gave reason

for supposing that he did, and others of the Iping youth

presently joined him.

 

It was the finest of all possible Whit Mondays, and down the

village street stood a row of nearly a dozen booths, a shooting

gallery, and on the grass by the forge were three yellow and

chocolate waggons and some picturesque strangers of both sexes

putting up a cocoanut shy. The gentlemen wore blue jerseys, the

ladies white aprons and quite fashionable hats with heavy plumes.

also sold old second-hand ordinary bicycles, were stretching a

string of union-jacks and royal ensigns (which had originally

celebrated the first Victorian Jubilee) across the road.

 

And inside, in the artificial darkness of the parlour, into which

only one thin jet of sunlight penetrated, the stranger, hungry we

must suppose, and fearful, hidden in his uncomfortable hot wrappings,

pored through his dark glasses upon his paper or chinked his dirty

little bottles, and occasionally swore savagely at the boys, audible

if invisible, outside the windows. In the corner by the fireplace

lay the fragments of half a dozen smashed bottles, and a pungent

twang of chlorine tainted the air. So much we know from what was

heard at the time and from what was subsequently seen in the room.

 

About noon he suddenly opened his parlour door and stood glaring

said. Somebody went sheepishly and called for Mrs. Hall.

 

Mrs. Hall appeared after an interval, a little short of breath, but

all the fiercer for that. Hall was still out. She had deliberated

over this scene, and she came holding a little tray with an

said.

 

 

 

 

You can’t grumble if your breakfast waits a bit, if my bill’s been

 

The stranger swore briefly but vividly.

 

 

 

The stranger stood looking more like an angry diving-helmet than

ever. It was universally felt in the bar that Mrs. Hall had the

better of him. His next words showed as much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That seemed to annoy the stranger very much. He stamped his foot.

 

take any bills or get any breakfasts, or do any such things

whatsoever, you got to tell me one or two things I don’t understand,

and what nobody don’t understand, and what everybody is very anxious

to understand. I want to know what you been doing t’my chair

upstairs, and I want to know how ’tis your room was empty, and how

you got in again. Them as stops in this house comes in by the

doors—that’s the rule of the house, and that you _didn’t_ do, and

 

Suddenly the stranger raised his gloved hands clenched, stamped his

silenced her instantly.

 

face and withdrew it. The centre of his face became a black cavity.

which she, staring at his metamorphosed face, accepted automatically.

Then, when she saw what it was, she screamed loudly, dropped it, and

staggered back. The nose—it was the stranger’s nose! pink and

shining—rolled on the floor.

 

Then he removed his spectacles, and everyone in the bar gasped. He

took off his hat, and with a violent gesture tore at his whiskers

and bandages. For a moment they resisted him. A flash of horrible

Then off they came.

 

It was worse than anything. Mrs. Hall, standing open-mouthed and

horror-struck, shrieked at what she saw, and made for the door of

the house. Everyone began to move. They were prepared for scars,

disfigurements, tangible horrors, but nothing! The bandages and

false hair flew across the passage into the bar, making a

hobbledehoy jump to avoid them. Everyone tumbled on everyone else

down the steps. For the man who stood there shouting some incoherent

explanation, was a solid gesticulating figure up to the coat-collar

of him, and then—nothingness, no visible thing at all!

 

People down the village heard shouts and shrieks, and looking up

humanity. They saw Mrs. Hall fall down and Mr. Teddy Henfrey jump

to avoid tumbling over her, and then they heard the frightful

screams of Millie, who, emerging suddenly from the kitchen at the

noise of the tumult, had come upon the headless stranger from

behind. These increased suddenly.

 

Forthwith everyone all down the street, the sweetstuff seller,

cocoanut shy proprietor and his assistant, the swing man, little

boys and girls, rustic dandies, smart wenches, smocked elders

and aproned gipsies—began running towards the inn, and in a

miraculously short space of time a crowd of perhaps forty people,

and rapidly increasing, swayed and hooted and inquired and

exclaimed and suggested, in front of Mrs. Hall’s establishment.

Everyone seemed eager to talk at once, and the result was Babel. A

small group supported Mrs. Hall, who was picked up in a state of

collapse. There was a conference, and the incredible evidence of a

 

In its struggles to see in through the open door, the crowd formed

itself into a straggling wedge, with the more adventurous apex

and he turned. I saw her skirts whisk, and he went after her.

Didn’t take ten seconds. Back he comes with a knife in uz hand and

a loaf; stood just as if he was staring. Not a moment ago. Went in

that there door. I tell ‘e, ‘e ain’t gart no ‘ed at all. You just

 

There was a disturbance behind, and the speaker stopped to step

aside for a little procession that was marching very resolutely

towards the house; first Mr. Hall, very red and determined, then

Mr. Bobby Jaffers, the village constable, and then the wary Mr.

Wadgers. They had come now armed with a warrant.

 

People shouted conflicting information of the recent circumstances.

 

Mr. Hall marched up the steps, marched straight to the door of the

 

Jaffers marched in. Hall next, Wadgers last. They saw in the dim

light the headless figure facing them, with a gnawed crust of bread

in one gloved hand and a chunk of cheese in the other.

 

 

above the collar of the figure.

 

 

 

Abruptly he whipped down the bread and cheese, and Mr. Hall just

grasped the knife on the table in time to save it. Off came the

stranger’s left glove and was slapped in Jaffers’ face. In another

moment Jaffers, cutting short some statement concerning a warrant,

had gripped him by the handless wrist and caught his invisible

throat. He got a sounding kick on the shin that made him shout, but

he kept his grip. Hall sent the knife sliding along the table to

Wadgers, who acted as goal-keeper for the offensive, so to speak,

and then stepped forward as Jaffers and the stranger swayed and

staggered towards him, clutching and hitting in. A chair stood in

the way, and went aside with a crash as they came down together.

 

 

Mr. Hall, endeavouring to act on instructions, received a sounding

kick in the ribs that disposed of him for a moment, and Mr.

Wadgers, seeing the decapitated stranger had rolled over and got

the upper side of Jaffers, retreated towards the door, knife in

hand, and so collided with Mr. Huxter and the Sidderbridge carter

coming to the rescue of law and order. At the same moment down came

three or four bottles from the chiffonnier and shot a web of

pungency into the air of the room.

 

and in another moment he stood up panting, a strange figure,

headless and handless—for he had pulled off his right glove now

breath.

 

It was the strangest thing in the world to hear that voice coming

as if out of empty space, but the Sussex peasants are perhaps the

most matter-of-fact people under the sun. Jaffers got up also and

produced a pair of handcuffs. Then he stared.

 

 

The stranger ran his arm down his waistcoat, and as if by a miracle

the buttons to which his empty sleeve pointed became undone. Then

he said something about his shin, and stooped down. He seemed to be

fumbling with his shoes and socks.

 

empty clothes. Look! You can see down his collar and the linings of

 

He extended his hand; it seemed to meet something in mid-air, and

all the rest of it, but it happens I’m invisible. It’s a confounded

nuisance, but I am. That’s no reason why I should be poked to

 

The suit of clothes, now all unbuttoned and hanging loosely upon

its unseen supports, stood up, arms akimbo.

 

Several other of the men folks had now entered the room, so that it

 

 

bit difficult to see in this light, but I got a warrant and it’s

all correct. What I’m after ain’t no invisibility,—it’s burglary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abruptly the figure sat down, and before any one could realise was

was being done, the slippers, socks, and trousers had been kicked

off under the table. Then he sprang up again and flung off his coat.

 

happening. He gripped at the waistcoat; it struggled, and the shirt

 

white shirt which was now all that was visible of the stranger.

 

The shirt-sleeve planted a shrewd blow in Hall’s face that stopped

his open-armed advance, and sent him backward into old Toothsome

the sexton, and in another moment the garment was lifted up and

became convulsed and vacantly flapping about the arms, even as a

shirt that is being thrust over a man’s head. Jaffers clutched at

it, and only helped to pull it off; he was struck in the mouth out

of the air, and incontinently threw his truncheon and smote Teddy

Henfrey savagely upon the crown of his head.

 

Everybody, it seemed, was being hit all at once, and Sandy Wadgers,

knowing as ever and his wits sharpened by a frightful blow in the

nose, reopened the door and led the rout. The others, following

incontinently, were jammed for a moment in the corner by the

doorway. The hitting continued. Phipps, the Unitarian, had a front

tooth broken, and Henfrey was injured in the cartilage of his ear.

Jaffers was struck under the jaw, and, turning, caught at something

that intervened between him and Huxter in the melee, and prevented

their coming together. He felt a muscular chest, and in another

moment the whole mass of struggling, excited men shot out into the

crowded hall.

 

and wrestling with purple face and swelling veins against his

unseen enemy.

 

Men staggered right and left as the extraordinary conflict swayed

swiftly towards the house door, and went spinning down the

half-dozen steps of the inn. Jaffers cried in a strangled

voice—holding tight, nevertheless, and making play with his

knee—spun around, and fell heavily undermost with his head on

the gravel. Only then did his fingers relax.

 

and a young fellow, a stranger in the place whose name did not come

to light, rushed in at once, caught something, missed his hold,

and fell over the constable’s prostrate body. Half-way across the

road a woman screamed as something pushed by her; a dog, kicked

apparently, yelped and ran howling into Huxter’s yard, and with

that the transit of the Invisible Man was accomplished. For a space

people stood amazed and gesticulating, and then came panic, and

scattered them abroad through the village as a gust scatters dead

leaves.

 

But Jaffers lay quite still, face upward and knees bent, at the foot

of the steps of the inn.

 

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

 

IN TRANSIT

 

 

The eighth chapter is exceedingly brief, and relates that Gibbons,

the amateur naturalist of the district, while lying out on the

spacious open downs without a soul within a couple of miles of him,

as he thought, and almost dozing, heard close to him the sound as

of a man coughing, sneezing, and then swearing savagely to himself;

and looking, beheld nothing. Yet the voice was indisputable. It

continued to swear with that breadth and variety that distinguishes

the swearing of a cultivated man. It grew to a climax, diminished

again, and died away in the distance, going as it seemed to him in

the direction of Adderdean. It lifted to a spasmodic sneeze and

ended. Gibbons had heard nothing of the morning’s occurrences, but

the phenomenon was so striking and disturbing that his philosophical

tranquillity vanished; he got up hastily, and hurried down the

steepness of the hill towards the village, as fast as he could go.

 

 

 

CHAPTER IX

 

MR. THOMAS MARVEL

 

 

You must picture Mr. Thomas Marvel as a person of copious, flexible

visage, a nose of cylindrical protrusion, a liquorish, ample,

fluctuating mouth, and a beard of bristling eccentricity. His figure

inclined to embonpoint; his short limbs accentuated this inclination.

He wore a furry silk hat, and the frequent substitution of twine and

shoe-laces for buttons, apparent at critical points of his costume,

marked a man essentially bachelor.

 

Mr. Thomas Marvel was sitting with his feet in a ditch by the

roadside over the down towards Adderdean, about a mile and a half

out of Iping. His feet, save for socks of irregular open-work, were

bare, his big toes were broad, and pricked like the ears of a

watchful dog. In a leisurely manner—he did everything in a

leisurely manner—he was contemplating trying on a pair of boots.

They were the soundest boots he had come across for a long time, but

too large for him; whereas the ones he had were, in dry weather, a

very comfortable fit, but too thin-soled for damp. Mr. Thomas Marvel

hated roomy shoes, but then he hated damp. He had never properly

thought out which he hated most, and it was a pleasant day, and

there was nothing better to do. So he put the four shoes in a

graceful group on the turf and looked at them. And seeing them there

among the grass and springing agrimony, it suddenly occurred to him

that both pairs were exceedingly ugly to see. He was not at all

startled by a voice behind him.

 

 

 

 

ugly—if you’ll allow the expression. I’ve been cadging boots—in

particular—for days. Because I was sick of _them_. They’re sound

enough, of course. But a gentleman on tramp sees such a thundering

lot of his boots. And if you’ll believe me, I’ve raised nothing in

the whole blessed country, try as I would, but _them_. Look at ’em!

And a good country for boots, too, in a general way. But it’s just

my promiscuous luck. I’ve got my boots in this country ten years or

 

 

 

He turned his head over his shoulder to the right, to look at the

boots of his interlocutor with a view to comparisons, and lo! where

the boots of his interlocutor should have been were neither legs

nor boots. He was irradiated by the dawn of a great amazement.

coming on all fours. He saw a stretch of empty downs with the wind

swaying the remote green-pointed furze bushes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was no answer. Mr. Thomas Marvel stood bootless and amazed,

his jacket nearly thrown off.

 

 

the road with its shallow ditches and white bordering stakes, ran

smooth and empty north and south, and, save for that peewit, the

 

 

 

 

his hand on his brow with a tragic gesture. He was suddenly taken

by the collar and shaken violently, and left more dazed than ever.

 

It’s fretting about them blarsted boots. I’m off my blessed blooming

 

 

 

self-control.

 

been dug in the chest by a finger.

 

 

his neck.

 

 

 

The Voice made no answer. Whizz came a flint, apparently out of

the air, and missed Mr. Marvel’s shoulder by a hair’s-breadth.

Mr. Marvel, turning, saw a flint jerk up into the air, trace a

complicated path, hang for a moment, and then fling at his feet

with almost invisible rapidity. He was too amazed to dodge. Whizz

it came, and ricochetted from a bare toe into the ditch. Mr. Thomas

Marvel jumped a foot and howled aloud. Then he started to run,

tripped over an unseen obstacle, and came head over heels into a

sitting position.

 

 

Mr. Marvel by way of reply struggled to his feet, and was

 

don’t understand it. Stones flinging themselves. Stones talking.

 

The third flint fell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

covering too—But I’m invisible. You see? Invisible. Simple idea.

 

 

 

 

He felt the hand that had closed round his wrist with his disengaged

fingers, and his fingers went timorously up the arm, patted a

muscular chest, and explored a bearded face. Marvel’s face was

astonishment.

 

remarkable!—And there I can see a rabbit clean through you, ‘arf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that—I came upon you suddenly. I was wandering, mad with rage,

 

 

 

Mr. Marvel’s expression was eloquent.

 

 

 

other things. I’ve left them long enough. If you won’t—well! But

 

me about any more. And leave me go. I must get steady a bit. And

you’ve pretty near broken my toe. It’s all so unreasonable. Empty

downs, empty sky. Nothing visible for miles except the bosom of

Nature. And then comes a voice. A voice out of heaven! And stones!

 

 

Mr. Marvel blew out his cheeks, and his eyes were round.

 

some of those fools down there, who knows there is such a thing as

an invisible man. You have to be my helper. Help me—and I will

stopped for a moment to sneeze violently.

 

He paused and tapped Mr. Marvel’s shoulder smartly. Mr. Marvel

said Mr. Marvel, edging away from the direction of the fingers.

to help you—just tell me what I got to do. (Lord!) Whatever you

 

 

 

CHAPTER X

 

MR. MARVEL’S VISIT TO IPING

 

 

After the first gusty panic had spent itself Iping became

argumentative. Scepticism suddenly reared its head—rather nervous

scepticism, not at all assured of its back, but scepticism

nevertheless. It is so much easier not to believe in an invisible

man; and those who had actually seen him dissolve into air, or felt

the strength of his arm, could be counted on the fingers of two

hands. And of these witnesses Mr. Wadgers was presently missing,

having retired impregnably behind the bolts and bars of his own

have less effect upon men and women than smaller, more tangible

considerations. Iping was gay with bunting, and everybody was in

gala dress. Whit Monday had been looked forward to for a month or

more. By the afternoon even those who believed in the Unseen were

beginning to resume their little amusements in a tentative fashion,

on the supposition that he had quite gone away, and with the

sceptics he was already a jest. But people, sceptics and believers

alike, were remarkably sociable all that day.

 

Haysman’s meadow was gay with a tent, in which Mrs. Bunting and

other ladies were preparing tea, while, without, the Sunday-school

children ran races and played games under the noisy guidance of the

curate and the Misses Cuss and Sackbut. No doubt there was a slight

uneasiness in the air, but people for the most part had the sense

to conceal whatever imaginative qualms they experienced. On the

village green an inclined strong, down which, clinging the while

to a pulley-swung handle, one could be hurled violently against a

sack at the other end, came in for considerable favour among the

adolescent, as also did the swings and the cocoanut shies. There

was also promenading, and the steam organ attached to a small

roundabout filled the air with a pungent flavour of oil and with

equally pungent music. Members of the club, who had attended

church in the morning, were splendid in badges of pink and green,

and some of the gayer-minded had also adorned their bowler hats

with brilliant-coloured favours of ribbon. Old Fletcher, whose

conceptions of holiday-making were severe, was visible through the

jasmine about his window or through the open door (whichever way

you chose to look), poised delicately on a plank supported on two

chairs, and whitewashing the ceiling of his front room.

 

About four o’clock a stranger entered the village from the direction

of the downs. He was a short, stout person in an extraordinarily

shabby top hat, and he appeared to be very much out of breath. His

cheeks were alternately limp and tightly puffed. His mottled face

was apprehensive, and he moved with a sort of reluctant alacrity. He

indeed the old gentleman was so struck by his peculiar agitation

that he inadvertently allowed a quantity of whitewash to run down

the brush into the sleeve of his coat while regarding him.

 

This stranger, to the perceptions of the proprietor of the cocoanut

shy, appeared to be talking to himself, and Mr. Huxter remarked the

and, according to Mr. Huxter, appeared to undergo a severe internal

struggle before he could induce himself to enter the house. Finally

he marched up the steps, and was seen by Mr. Huxter to turn to the

left and open the door of the parlour. Mr. Huxter heard voices from

within the room and from the bar apprising the man of his error.

clumsily and went into the bar.

 

In the course of a few minutes he reappeared, wiping his lips with

the back of his hand with an air of quiet satisfaction that somehow

impressed Mr. Huxter as assumed. He stood looking about him for

some moments, and then Mr. Huxter saw him walk in an oddly furtive

manner towards the gates of the yard, upon which the parlour window

opened. The stranger, after some hesitation, leant against one of

the gate-posts, produced a short clay pipe, and prepared to fill

it. His fingers trembled while doing so. He lit it clumsily, and

folding his arms began to smoke in a languid attitude, an attitude

which his occasional glances up the yard altogether belied.

 

All this Mr. Huxter saw over the canisters of the tobacco window,

and the singularity of the man’s behaviour prompted him to maintain

his observation.

 

Presently the stranger stood up abruptly and put his pipe in his

pocket. Then he vanished into the yard. Forthwith Mr. Huxter,

conceiving he was witness of some petty larceny, leapt round his

counter and ran out into the road to intercept the thief. As he did

so, Mr. Marvel reappeared, his hat askew, a big bundle in a blue

table-cloth in one hand, and three books tied together—as it proved

afterwards with the Vicar’s braces—in the other. Directly he saw

Huxter he gave a sort of gasp, and turning sharply to the left,

Mr. Huxter’s sensations were vivid but brief. He saw the man just

before him and spurting briskly for the church corner and the hill

road. He saw the village flags and festivities beyond, and a face or

ten strides before his shin was caught in some mysterious fashion,

and he was no longer running, but flying with inconceivable rapidity

through the air. He saw the ground suddenly close to his face. The

world seemed to splash into a million whirling specks of light, and

subsequent proceedings interested him no more.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XI

 

 

 

Now in order clearly to understand what had happened in the inn, it

is necessary to go back to the moment when Mr. Marvel first came

into view of Mr. Huxter’s window.

 

At that precise moment Mr. Cuss and Mr. Bunting were in the parlour.

They were seriously investigating the strange occurrences of the

morning, and were, with Mr. Hall’s permission, making a thorough

examination of the Invisible Man’s belongings. Jaffers had partially

recovered from his fall and had gone home in the charge of his

sympathetic friends. The stranger’s scattered garments had been

removed by Mrs. Hall and the room tidied up. And on the table under

the window where the stranger had been wont to work, Cuss had hit

 

on the table.

 

 

The vicar came round to look over his shoulder.

 

Cuss turned the pages over with a face suddenly disappointed.

 

 

some of it’s Russian or some such language (to judge by the

 

and feeling suddenly very uncomfortable—for he had no Greek

 

 

 

He coughed, put on his glasses, arranged them fastidiously, coughed

again, and wished something would happen to avert the seemingly

inevitable exposure. Then he took the volume Cuss handed him in a

leisurely manner. And then something did happen.

 

The door opened suddenly.

 

Both gentlemen started violently, looked round, and were relieved

asked the face, and stood staring.

 

 

 

he vanished and closed the door.

 

are. Stand clear! indeed. A nautical term, referring to his getting

 

 

 

Someone sniffed as he did so.

 

happen in Iping during the last few days—very strange. I cannot

 

 

hallucinations are so easily produced. I don’t know if you

 

Bunting. And just now there’s these books—Ah! here’s some of

 

He pointed to the middle of the page. Mr. Bunting flushed slightly

and brought his face nearer, apparently finding some difficulty

with his glasses. Suddenly he became aware of a strange feeling at

the nape of his neck. He tried to raise his head, and encountered

an immovable resistance. The feeling was a curious pressure, the

grip of a heavy, firm hand, and it bore his chin irresistibly to

and each saw a horrified reflection of his own sickly astonishment.

 

 

simultaneously, and two sets of teeth rattled.

 

 

 

the key out of the door. I am a fairly strong man, and I have the

poker handy—besides being invisible. There’s not the slightest

doubt that I could kill you both and get away quite easily if I

wanted to—do you understand? Very well. If I let you go will you

 

The vicar and the doctor looked at one another, and the doctor

Then the pressure on the necks relaxed, and the doctor and the

vicar sat up, both very red in the face and wriggling their heads.

 

 

presenting the poker to the tip of the nose of each of his visitors,

addition to my books of memoranda, an outfit of clothing. Where is

it? No—don’t rise. I can see it’s gone. Now, just at present,

though the days are quite warm enough for an invisible man to run

about stark, the evenings are quite chilly. I want clothing—and

 

 

 

CHAPTER XII

 

THE INVISIBLE MAN LOSES HIS TEMPER

 

 

It is unavoidable that at this point the narrative should break off

again, for a certain very painful reason that will presently be

apparent. While these things were going on in the parlour, and

while Mr. Huxter was watching Mr. Marvel smoking his pipe against

the gate, not a dozen yards away were Mr. Hall and Teddy Henfrey

discussing in a state of cloudy puzzlement the one Iping topic.

 

Suddenly there came a violent thud against the door of the parlour,

a sharp cry, and then—silence.

 

 

 

said, and came round from behind the bar towards the parlour door.

 

He and Teddy approached the door together, with intent faces. Their

agreement. Whiffs of an unpleasant chemical odour met them, and

there was a muffled sound of conversation, very rapid and subdued.

 

 

The muttered conversation ceased abruptly, for a moment silence,

then the conversation was resumed, in hissing whispers, then a

the oversetting of a chair, a brief struggle. Silence again.

 

 

 

The Vicar’s voice answered with a curious jerking intonation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

They remained listening. The conversation was rapid and subdued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silence. The sounds within indistinct and perplexing.

 

 

Mrs. Hall appeared behind the bar. Hall made gestures of silence and

 

Hall tried to convey everything by grimaces and dumb show, but Mrs.

Hall was obdurate. She raised her voice. So Hall and Henfrey, rather

crestfallen, tiptoed back to the bar, gesticulating to explain to

her.

 

At first she refused to see anything in what they had heard at

all. Then she insisted on Hall keeping silence, while Henfrey told

her his story. She was inclined to think the whole business

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone stood listening intently. Mrs. Hall’s eyes, directed

straight before her, saw without seeing the brilliant oblong of the

inn door, the road white and vivid, and Huxter’s shop-front

blistering in the June sun. Abruptly Huxter’s door opened and Huxter

towards the yard gates, and vanished.

 

Simultaneously came a tumult from the parlour, and a sound of

windows being closed.

 

Hall, Henfrey, and the human contents of the tap rushed out at once

pell-mell into the street. They saw someone whisk round the corner

towards the road, and Mr. Huxter executing a complicated leap in

the air that ended on his face and shoulder. Down the street people

were standing astonished or running towards them.

 

Mr. Huxter was stunned. Henfrey stopped to discover this, but Hall

and the two labourers from the Tap rushed at once to the corner,

shouting incoherent things, and saw Mr. Marvel vanishing by the

corner of the church wall. They appear to have jumped to the

impossible conclusion that this was the Invisible Man suddenly

become visible, and set off at once along the lane in pursuit. But

Hall had hardly run a dozen yards before he gave a loud shout of

astonishment and went flying headlong sideways, clutching one of

the labourers and bringing him to the ground. He had been charged

just as one charges a man at football. The second labourer came

round in a circle, stared, and conceiving that Hall had tumbled

over of his own accord, turned to resume the pursuit, only to be

tripped by the ankle just as Huxter had been. Then, as the first

labourer struggled to his feet, he was kicked sideways by a blow

that might have felled an ox.

 

As he went down, the rush from the direction of the village green

came round the corner. The first to appear was the proprietor of

the cocoanut shy, a burly man in a blue jersey. He was astonished

to see the lane empty save for three men sprawling absurdly on the

ground. And then something happened to his rear-most foot, and he

went headlong and rolled sideways just in time to graze the feet

of his brother and partner, following headlong. The two were then

kicked, knelt on, fallen over, and cursed by quite a number of

over-hasty people.

 

Now when Hall and Henfrey and the labourers ran out of the house,

Mrs. Hall, who had been disciplined by years of experience,

remained in the bar next the till. And suddenly the parlour door

was opened, and Mr. Cuss appeared, and without glancing at her

 

He knew nothing of the

existence of Marvel. For the Invisible Man had handed over the

books and bundle in the yard. The face of Mr. Cuss was angry and

resolute, but his costume was defective, a sort of limp white kilt

 

prostrate Huxter, and, coming round the corner to join the tumult,

was promptly knocked off his feet into an indecorous sprawl.

Somebody in full flight trod heavily on his finger. He yelled,

struggled to regain his feet, was knocked against and thrown on all

fours again, and became aware that he was involved not in a capture,

but a rout. Everyone was running back to the village. He rose again

and was hit severely behind the ear. He staggered and set off back

Huxter, who was now sitting up, on his way.

 

Behind him as he was halfway up the inn steps he heard a sudden

yell of rage, rising sharply out of the confusion of cries, and a

sounding smack in someone’s face. He recognised the voice as that

of the Invisible Man, and the note was that of a man suddenly

infuriated by a painful blow.

 

 

Mr. Bunting was standing in the window engaged in an attempt to

disintegration.

 

 

In another moment he was out in the yard.

 

alternatives. He heard a frightful struggle in the passage of the

inn, and his decision was made. He clambered out of the window,

adjusted his costume hastily, and fled up the village as fast as

his fat little legs would carry him.

 

From the moment when the Invisible Man screamed with rage and Mr.

Bunting made his memorable flight up the village, it became

impossible to give a consecutive account of affairs in Iping.

Possibly the Invisible Man’s original intention was simply to cover

Marvel’s retreat with the clothes and books. But his temper, at no

time very good, seems to have gone completely at some chance blow,

and forthwith he set to smiting and overthrowing, for the mere

satisfaction of hurting.

 

You must figure the street full of running figures, of doors

slamming and fights for hiding-places. You must figure the tumult

suddenly striking on the unstable equilibrium of old Fletcher’s

planks and two chairs—with cataclysmic results. You must figure

an appalled couple caught dismally in a swing. And then the whole

tumultuous rush has passed and the Iping street with its gauds and

flags is deserted save for the still raging unseen, and littered

with cocoanuts, overthrown canvas screens, and the scattered stock

in trade of a sweetstuff stall. Everywhere there is a sound of

closing shutters and shoving bolts, and the only visible humanity

is an occasional flitting eye under a raised eyebrow in the corner

of a window pane.

 

The Invisible Man amused himself for a little while by breaking all

lamp through the parlour window of Mrs. Gribble. He it must have

been who cut the telegraph wire to Adderdean just beyond Higgins’

cottage on the Adderdean road. And after that, as his peculiar

qualities allowed, he passed out of human perceptions altogether,

and he was neither heard, seen, nor felt in Iping any more. He

vanished absolutely.

 

But it was the best part of two hours before any human being

ventured out again into the desolation of Iping street.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XIII

 

MR. MARVEL DISCUSSES HIS RESIGNATION

 

 

When the dusk was gathering and Iping was just beginning to peep

timorously forth again upon the shattered wreckage of its Bank

Holiday, a short, thick-set man in a shabby silk hat was marching

painfully through the twilight behind the beechwoods on the road to

Bramblehurst. He carried three books bound together by some sort

of ornamental elastic ligature, and a bundle wrapped in a blue

table-cloth. His rubicund face expressed consternation and fatigue;

he appeared to be in a spasmodic sort of hurry. He was accompanied

by a voice other than his own, and ever and again he winced under

the touch of unseen hands.

 

 

 

 

blessed turning, that was all! How the devil was I to know the

 

said the Voice, and Mr. Marvel abruptly became silent. He blew out

his cheeks, and his eyes were eloquent of despair.

 

secret, without _your_ cutting off with my books. It’s lucky for some

of them they cut and ran when they did! Here am I … No one knew I

 

 

into vivid curses and ceased.

 

The despair of Mr. Marvel’s face deepened, and his pace slackened.

 

 

Mr. Marvel’s face assumed a greyish tint between the ruddier

patches.

 

him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Marvel mended his pace, and for a time they went in silence

again.

 

 

This was quite ineffectual. He tried another tack.

 

wrong.

 

see to you all right. You do what you’re told. You’ll do it all

 

 

 

Presently two oblongs of yellow light appeared through the trees,

the village. Go straight through and try no foolery. It will be the

 

 

The unhappy-looking figure in the obsolete silk hat passed up the

street of the little village with his burdens, and vanished into

the gathering darkness beyond the lights of the windows.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XIV

 

AT PORT STOWE

 

 

Ten o’clock the next morning found Mr. Marvel, unshaven, dirty, and

travel-stained, sitting with the books beside him and his hands deep

in his pockets, looking very weary, nervous, and uncomfortable, and

inflating his cheeks at infrequent intervals, on the bench outside

a little inn on the outskirts of Port Stowe. Beside him were the

books, but now they were tied with string. The bundle had been

abandoned in the pine-woods beyond Bramblehurst, in accordance with

a change in the plans of the Invisible Man. Mr. Marvel sat on the

bench, and although no one took the slightest notice of him, his

agitation remained at fever heat. His hands would go ever and again

to his various pockets with a curious nervous fumbling.

 

When he had been sitting for the best part of an hour, however, an

elderly mariner, carrying a newspaper, came out of the inn and sat

 

Mr. Marvel glanced about him with something very like terror.

 

taking no denial.

 

 

The mariner produced a toothpick, and (saving his regard) was

engrossed thereby for some minutes. His eyes meanwhile were at

liberty to examine Mr. Marvel’s dusty figure, and the books beside

him. As he had approached Mr. Marvel he had heard a sound like the

dropping of coins into a pocket. He was struck by the contrast of

Mr. Marvel’s appearance with this suggestion of opulence. Thence

his mind wandered back again to a topic that had taken a curiously

firm hold of his imagination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

then glanced about him.

 

said the mariner.

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Marvel pulled his mouth askew and scratched his cheek and felt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

know. Here it is: ‘Pe-culiar Story from Iping.’ And it says in this

 

 

medical gent witnesses—saw ‘im all right and proper—or leastways

didn’t see ‘im. He was staying, it says, at the ‘Coach an’ Horses,’

and no one don’t seem to have been aware of his misfortune, it says,

aware of his misfortune, until in an Altercation in the inn, it

says, his bandages on his head was torn off. It was then ob-served

that his head was invisible. Attempts were At Once made to secure

him, but casting off his garments, it says, he succeeded in

escaping, but not until after a desperate struggle, in which he

had inflicted serious injuries, it says, on our worthy and able

constable, Mr. J. A. Jaffers. Pretty straight story, eh? Names and

 

count the money in his pockets by his unaided sense of touch, and

 

Men before, I haven’t, but nowadays one hears such a lot of

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

asked Mr. Marvel, anxious.

 

 

the bare thought of that chap running about the country! He is at

present At Large, and from certain evidence it is supposed that he

has—taken—_took_, I suppose they mean—the road to Port Stowe. You

see we’re right _in_ it! None of your American wonders, this time.

And just think of the things he might do! Where’d you be, if he took

a drop over and above, and had a fancy to go for you? Suppose he

wants to rob—who can prevent him? He can trespass, he can burgle,

he could walk through a cordon of policemen as easy as me or you

could give the slip to a blind man! Easier! For these here blind

chaps hear uncommon sharp, I’m told. And wherever there was liquor

 

 

 

All this time Mr. Marvel had been glancing about him intently,

listening for faint footfalls, trying to detect imperceptible

movements. He seemed on the point of some great resolution. He

coughed behind his hand.

 

He looked about him again, listened, bent towards the mariner, and

 

 

 

 

 

 

stiffly in his seat. His face was eloquent of physical suffering.

 

 

edged in a curious way along the seat away from his interlocutor.

protested the mariner. Mr. Marvel seemed to consult with himself.

 

 

 

 

 

The mariner stared, paper in hand. Mr. Marvel jerkily faced about.

 

 

stuff, then? What d’yer mean by letting a man make a fool of

 

Mr. Marvel blew out his cheeks. The mariner was suddenly very red

 

 

 

Marvel. He was receding obliquely with a curious hurrying gait, with

occasional violent jerks forward. Some way along the road he began

a muttered monologue, protests and recriminations.

 

 

Mr. Marvel retorted incoherently and, receding, was hidden by a bend

in the road, but the mariner still stood magnificent in the midst

of the way, until the approach of a butcher’s cart dislodged him.

 

And there was another extraordinary thing he was presently to hear,

that had happened quite close to him. And that was a vision of a

along by the wall at the corner of St. Michael’s Lane. A brother

mariner had seen this wonderful sight that very morning. He had

snatched at the money forthwith and had been knocked headlong, and

when he had got to his feet the butterfly money had vanished. Our

mariner was in the mood to believe anything, he declared, but that

was a bit _too_ stiff. Afterwards, however, he began to think things

over.

 

The story of the flying money was true. And all about that

neighbourhood, even from the august London and Country Banking

Company, from the tills of shops and inns—doors standing that sunny

weather entirely open—money had been quietly and dexterously making

off that day in handfuls and rouleaux, floating quietly along by

walls and shady places, dodging quickly from the approaching eyes of

men. And it had, though no man had traced it, invariably ended its

mysterious flight in the pocket of that agitated gentleman in the

obsolete silk hat, sitting outside the little inn on the outskirts

of Port Stowe.

 

It was ten days after—and indeed only when the Burdock story was

already old—that the mariner collated these facts and began to

understand how near he had been to the wonderful Invisible Man.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XV

 

THE MAN WHO WAS RUNNING

 

 

In the early evening time Dr. Kemp was sitting in his study in the

belvedere on the hill overlooking Burdock. It was a pleasant little

room, with three windows—north, west, and south—and bookshelves

covered with books and scientific publications, and a broad

writing-table, and, under the north window, a microscope, glass

slips, minute instruments, some cultures, and scattered bottles of

reagents. Dr. Kemp’s solar lamp was lit, albeit the sky was still

bright with the sunset light, and his blinds were up because there

was no offence of peering outsiders to require them pulled down.

Dr. Kemp was a tall and slender young man, with flaxen hair and a

moustache almost white, and the work he was upon would earn him, he

hoped, the fellowship of the Royal Society, so highly did he think

of it.

 

And his eye, presently wandering from his work, caught the sunset

blazing at the back of the hill that is over against his own. For a

minute perhaps he sat, pen in mouth, admiring the rich golden

colour above the crest, and then his attention was attracted by the

little figure of a man, inky black, running over the hill-brow

towards him. He was a shortish little man, and he wore a high hat,

and he was running so fast that his legs verily twinkled.

 

into me this morning round a corner, with the »Visible Man

a-coming, sir!’ I can’t imagine what possess people. One might

 

He got up, went to the window, and stared at the dusky hillside, and

 

 

In another moment the higher of the villas that had clambered up the

hill from Burdock had occulted the running figure. He was visible

again for a moment, and again, and then again, three times between

the three detached houses that came next, and then the terrace hid

him.

 

back to his writing-table.

 

But those who saw the fugitive nearer, and perceived the abject

terror on his perspiring face, being themselves in the open roadway,

did not share in the doctor’s contempt. By the man pounded, and as

he ran he chinked like a well-filled purse that is tossed to and

fro. He looked neither to the right nor the left, but his dilated

eyes stared straight downhill to where the lamps were being lit, and

the people were crowded in the street. And his ill-shaped mouth fell

apart, and a glairy foam lay on his lips, and his breath came hoarse

and noisy. All he passed stopped and began staring up the road and

down, and interrogating one another with an inkling of discomfort

for the reason of his haste.

 

And then presently, far up the hill, a dog playing in the road

yelped and ran under a gate, and as they still wondered

something—a wind—a pad, pad, pad,—a sound like a panting breathing,

rushed by.

 

People screamed. People sprang off the pavement: It passed in

shouts, it passed by instinct down the hill. They were shouting in

the street before Marvel was halfway there. They were bolting into

houses and slamming the doors behind them, with the news. He heard

it and made one last desperate spurt. Fear came striding by, rushed

ahead of him, and in a moment had seized the town.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XVI

 

 

 

tram-lines begin. The barman leant his fat red arms on the counter

and talked of horses with an anaemic cabman, while a black-bearded

man in grey snapped up biscuit and cheese, drank Burton, and

conversed in American with a policeman off duty.

 

tangent, trying to see up the hill over the dirty yellow blind in

said the barman.

 

Footsteps approached, running heavily, the door was pushed open

violently, and Marvel, weeping and dishevelled, his hat gone, the

neck of his coat torn open, rushed in, made a convulsive turn, and

attempted to shut the door. It was held half open by a strap.

 

 

American closed the other door.

 

tell you he’s after me. I give him the slip. He said he’d kill me

 

 

suddenly made the fastened door shiver and was followed by a hurried

 

flap of the bar.

 

Mr. Marvel rushed behind the bar as the summons outside was

 

 

The window of the inn was suddenly smashed in, and there was a

screaming and running to and fro in the street. The policeman had

been standing on the settee staring out, craning to see who was at

The barman stood in front of the bar-parlour door which was now

locked on Mr. Marvel, stared at the smashed window, and came round

to the two other men.

 

 

cabman, anxiously.

 

 

 

 

barman, craning over the blind.

 

revolver ready, drew them himself. Barman, cabman, and policeman

faced about.

 

facing the unbolted doors with his pistol behind him. No one came

in, the door remained closed. Five minutes afterwards when a second

cabman pushed his head in cautiously, they were still waiting, and

an anxious face peered out of the bar-parlour and supplied

 

 

He rushed out of the bar.

 

 

there, and I’ve stabbed every inch of it with this little beef

 

 

 

The man with the beard replaced his revolver. And even as he did so

the flap of the bar was shut down and the bolt clicked, and then

with a tremendous thud the catch of the door snapped and the

bar-parlour door burst open. They heard Marvel squeal like a caught

leveret, and forthwith they were clambering over the bar to his

rescue. The bearded man’s revolver cracked and the looking-glass at

the back of the parlour starred and came smashing and tinkling down.

 

As the barman entered the room he saw Marvel, curiously crumpled up

and struggling against the door that led to the yard and kitchen.

The door flew open while the barman hesitated, and Marvel was

dragged into the kitchen. There was a scream and a clatter of pans.

Marvel, head down, and lugging back obstinately, was forced to the

kitchen door, and the bolts were drawn.

 

Then the policeman, who had been trying to pass the barman, rushed

in, followed by one of the cabmen, gripped the wrist of the

invisible hand that collared Marvel, was hit in the face and went

reeling back. The door opened, and Marvel made a frantic effort to

obtain a lodgment behind it. Then the cabman collared something.

 

Mr. Marvel, released, suddenly dropped to the ground and made an

attempt to crawl behind the legs of the fighting men. The struggle

blundered round the edge of the door. The voice of the Invisible

Man was heard for the first time, yelling out sharply, as the

policeman trod on his foot. Then he cried out passionately and

his fists flew round like flails. The cabman suddenly whooped

and doubled up, kicked under the diaphragm. The door into the

bar-parlour from the kitchen slammed and covered Mr. Marvel’s

retreat. The men in the kitchen found themselves clutching at and

struggling with empty air.

 

 

stopping.

 

A piece of tile whizzed by his head and smashed among the crockery

on the kitchen table.

 

a steel barrel shone over the policeman’s shoulder, and five

bullets had followed one another into the twilight whence the

missile had come. As he fired, the man with the beard moved his

hand in a horizontal curve, so that his shots radiated out into the

narrow yard like spokes from a wheel.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XVII

 

DR. KEMP’S VISITOR

 

 

Dr. Kemp had continued writing in his study until the shots

aroused him. Crack, crack, crack, they came one after the other.

 

 

He went to the south window, threw it up, and leaning out stared

down on the network of windows, beaded gas-lamps and shops, with its

black interstices of roof and yard that made up the town at night.

and remained watching. Thence his eyes wandered over the town to far

away where the ships’ lights shone, and the pier glowed—a little

illuminated, facetted pavilion like a gem of yellow light. The moon

in its first quarter hung over the westward hill, and the stars were

clear and almost tropically bright.

 

After five minutes, during which his mind had travelled into a

remote speculation of social conditions of the future, and lost

itself at last over the time dimension, Dr. Kemp roused himself

with a sigh, pulled down the window again, and returned to his

writing desk.

 

It must have been about an hour after this that the front-door bell

rang. He had been writing slackly, and with intervals of

abstraction, since the shots. He sat listening. He heard the servant

answer the door, and waited for her feet on the staircase, but she

 

He tried to resume his work, failed, got up, went downstairs from

his study to the landing, rang, and called over the balustrade to

 

 

study, and this time attacked his work resolutely. In a little

while he was hard at work again, and the only sounds in the room

were the ticking of the clock and the subdued shrillness of his

quill, hurrying in the very centre of the circle of light his

lampshade threw on his table.

 

It was two o’clock before Dr. Kemp had finished his work for the

night. He rose, yawned, and went downstairs to bed. He had already

removed his coat and vest, when he noticed that he was thirsty. He

took a candle and went down to the dining-room in search of a

syphon and whiskey.

 

Dr. Kemp’s scientific pursuits have made him a very observant

man, and as he recrossed the hall, he noticed a dark spot on the

linoleum near the mat at the foot of the stairs. He went on

upstairs, and then it suddenly occurred to him to ask himself what

the spot on the linoleum might be. Apparently some subconscious

element was at work. At any rate, he turned with his burden, went

back to the hall, put down the syphon and whiskey, and bending

down, touched the spot. Without any great surprise he found it had

the stickiness and colour of drying blood.

 

He took up his burden again, and returned upstairs, looking about

him and trying to account for the blood-spot. On the landing he saw

something and stopped astonished. The door-handle of his own room

was blood-stained.

 

He looked at his own hand. It was quite clean, and then he

remembered that the door of his room had been open when he came down

from his study, and that consequently he had not touched the handle

at all. He went straight into his room, his face quite calm—perhaps

a trifle more resolute than usual. His glance, wandering

inquisitively, fell on the bed. On the counterpane was a mess of

blood, and the sheet had been torn. He had not noticed this before

because he had walked straight to the dressing-table. On the further

side the bedclothes were depressed as if someone had been recently

sitting there.

 

Then he had an odd impression that he had heard a low voice say,

 

He stood staring at the tumbled sheets. Was that really a voice? He

looked about again, but noticed nothing further than the disordered

and blood-stained bed. Then he distinctly heard a movement across

the room, near the wash-hand stand. All men, however highly

educated, retain some superstitious inklings. The feeling that is

forward to the dressing-table, and put down his burdens. Suddenly,

with a start, he perceived a coiled and blood-stained bandage of

linen rag hanging in mid-air, between him and the wash-hand stand.

 

He stared at this in amazement. It was an empty bandage, a bandage

properly tied but quite empty. He would have advanced to grasp it,

but a touch arrested him, and a voice speaking quite close to him.

 

 

 

 

Kemp made no answer for a space, simply stared at the bandage.

 

 

The story he had been active to ridicule only that morning rushed

through Kemp’s brain. He does not appear to have been either very

much frightened or very greatly surprised at the moment.

Realisation came later.

 

 

 

and his hand, extended towards the bandage, met invisible fingers.

 

He recoiled at the touch and his colour changed.

 

 

The hand gripped his arm. He struck at it.

 

tightened.

 

A frantic desire to free himself took possession of Kemp. The hand

of the bandaged arm gripped his shoulder, and he was suddenly

tripped and flung backwards upon the bed. He opened his mouth to

shout, and the corner of the sheet was thrust between his teeth.

The Invisible Man had him down grimly, but his arms were free and

he struck and tried to kick savagely.

 

me in a minute!

 

 

Kemp struggled for another moment and then lay still.

 

relieving his mouth.

 

am an Invisible Man. And I want your help. I don’t want to hurt

you, but if you behave like a frantic rustic, I must. Don’t you

 

 

He sat up and felt his neck.

 

invisible. I am just an ordinary man—a man you have known—made

 

 

almost an albino, six feet high, and broad, with a pink and white

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great God! Kemp, you are a man. Take it steady. Give me some food

 

Kemp stared at the bandage as it moved across the room, then saw a

basket chair dragged across the floor and come to rest near the bed.

It creaked, and the seat was depressed the quarter of an inch or so.

said, and laughed stupidly.

 

 

 

 

 

The chair creaked and Kemp felt the glass drawn away from him. He

let go by an effort; his instinct was all against it. It came to

rest poised twenty inches above the front edge of the seat of the

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kemp made some exclamation in an undertone. He walked to a wardrobe

taken from him. It hung limp for a moment in mid-air, fluttered

weirdly, stood full and decorous buttoning itself, and sat down in

 

 

He turned out his drawers for the articles, and then went downstairs

to ransack his larder. He came back with some cold cutlets and

bread, pulled up a light table, and placed them before his guest.

with a sound of gnawing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

bandaging. My first stroke of luck! Anyhow I meant to sleep in this

house to-night. You must stand that! It’s a filthy nuisance, my

blood showing, isn’t it? Quite a clot over there. Gets visible as

it coagulates, I see. It’s only the living tissue I’ve changed, and

 

 

 

He reached over and secured the whiskey bottle. Kemp stared at the

devouring dressing gown. A ray of candle-light penetrating a torn

patch in the right shoulder, made a triangle of light under the

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

random. A lot of them got scared. They all got scared at me. Curse

 

 

After he had done eating, and he made a heavy meal, the Invisible

Man demanded a cigar. He bit the end savagely before Kemp could

find a knife, and cursed when the outer leaf loosened. It was

strange to see him smoking; his mouth, and throat, pharynx and

nares, became visible as a sort of whirling smoke cast.

 

tumbling on you just now! I’m in a devilish scrape—I’ve been mad,

I think. The things I have been through! But we will do things yet.

 

He helped himself to more whiskey and soda. Kemp got up, looked

 

don’t. Cool and methodical—after the first collapse. I must tell

 

 

 

But the story was not told that night. The Invisible Man’s wrist

was growing painful; he was feverish, exhausted, and his mind came

round to brood upon his chase down the hill and the struggle about

the inn. He spoke in fragments of Marvel, he smoked faster, his

voice grew angry. Kemp tried to gather what he could.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He groaned suddenly and leant forward, supporting his invisible

near three days, except a couple of dozes of an hour or so. I

 

 

 

 

 

 

slowly.

 

Kemp started.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XVIII

 

THE INVISIBLE MAN SLEEPS

 

 

Exhausted and wounded as the Invisible Man was, he refused to accept

Kemp’s word that his freedom should be respected. He examined the

two windows of the bedroom, drew up the blinds and opened the

sashes, to confirm Kemp’s statement that a retreat by them would be

possible. Outside the night was very quiet and still, and the new

moon was setting over the down. Then he examined the keys of the

bedroom and the two dressing-room doors, to satisfy himself that

these also could be made an assurance of freedom. Finally he

expressed himself satisfied. He stood on the hearth rug and Kemp

heard the sound of a yawn.

 

I have done to-night. But I am worn out. It’s grotesque, no doubt.

It’s horrible! But believe me, Kemp, in spite of your arguments of

this morning, it is quite a possible thing. I have made a discovery.

I meant to keep it to myself. I can’t. I must have a partner. And

you…. We can do such things … But to-morrow. Now, Kemp, I feel

 

Kemp stood in the middle of the room staring at the headless garment.

things happening like this, overturning all my preconceptions—would

make me insane. But it’s real! Is there anything more that I can

 

 

sideways to the door. Suddenly the dressing-gown walked quickly

 

said.

 

Kemp closed the door softly behind him, and the key was turned upon

him forthwith. Then, as he stood with an expression of passive

amazement on his face, the rapid feet came to the door of the

dressing-room and that too was locked. Kemp slapped his brow with

 

 

He walked to the head of the staircase, turned, and stared at the

 

 

He shook his head hopelessly, turned, and went downstairs.

 

He lit the dining-room lamp, got out a cigar, and began pacing the

room, ejaculating. Now and then he would argue with himself.

 

 

Thousands—millions. All the larvae, all the little nauplii and

tornarias, all the microscopic things, the jelly-fish. In the sea

there are more things invisible than visible! I never thought of

that before. And in the ponds too! All those little pond-life

things—specks of colourless translucent jelly! But in air? No!

 

 

 

 

His meditation became profound. The bulk of three cigars had passed

into the invisible or diffused as a white ash over the carpet before

he spoke again. Then it was merely an exclamation. He turned aside,

walked out of the room, and went into his little consulting-room and

lit the gas there. It was a little room, because Dr. Kemp did not

live by practice, and in it were the day’s newspapers. The morning’s

paper lay carelessly opened and thrown aside. He caught it up,

that the mariner at Port Stowe had spelt over so painfully to Mr.

Marvel. Kemp read it swiftly.

 

 

caught up the _St. James’ Gazette_, lying folded up as it arrived.

 

of the events in Iping, of the previous afternoon, that have

already been described. Over the leaf the report in the morning

paper had been reprinted.

 

Jaffers insensible. Mr. Huxter in great pain—still unable to

describe what he saw. Painful humiliation—vicar. Woman ill with

terror! Windows smashed. This extraordinary story probably a

 

 

 

 

When dawn came to mingle its pallor with the lamp-light and cigar

smoke of the dining-room, Kemp was still pacing up and down, trying

to grasp the incredible.

 

He was altogether too excited to sleep. His servants, descending

sleepily, discovered him, and were inclined to think that

over-study had worked this ill on him. He gave them extraordinary

but quite explicit instructions to lay breakfast for two in the

belvedere study—and then to confine themselves to the basement

and ground-floor. Then he continued to pace the dining-room until

the morning’s paper came. That had much to say and little to tell,

beyond the confirmation of the evening before, and a very badly

written account of another remarkable tale from Port Burdock. This

Iping story, notably the cutting of the village telegraph-wire.

But there was nothing to throw light on the connexion between

the Invisible Man and the Tramp; for Mr. Marvel had supplied no

information about the three books, or the money with which he was

lined. The incredulous tone had vanished and a shoal of reporters

and inquirers were already at work elaborating the matter.

 

Kemp read every scrap of the report and sent his housemaid out to

get everyone of the morning papers she could. These also he

devoured.

 

mania! The things he may do! The things he may do! And he’s

 

 

He went to a little untidy desk in the corner, and began a note. He

tore this up half written, and wrote another. He read it over and

 

The Invisible Man awoke even as Kemp was doing this. He awoke in an

evil temper, and Kemp, alert for every sound, heard his pattering

feet rush suddenly across the bedroom overhead. Then a chair was

flung over and the wash-hand stand tumbler smashed. Kemp hurried

upstairs and rapped eagerly.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XIX

 

CERTAIN FIRST PRINCIPLES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kemp walked across the room and picked up the fragments of broken

the hill. The world has become aware of its invisible citizen. But

 

The Invisible Man swore.

 

 

The Invisible Man sat down on the bed.

 

possible, and he was delighted to find his strange guest rose

willingly. Kemp led the way up the narrow staircase to the

belvedere.

 

after one nervous glance out of the window, with the air of a man

who has talking to do. His doubts of the sanity of the entire

business flashed and vanished again as he looked across to

where Griffin sat at the breakfast-table—a headless, handless

dressing-gown, wiping unseen lips on a miraculously held serviette.

 

the serviette aside and leaning the invisible head on an invisible

hand.

 

 

great God! … But we will do great things yet! I came on the stuff

 

 

 

 

network with solutions glimmering elusively through. And being but

two-and-twenty and full of enthusiasm, I said, ‘I will devote my

life to this. This is worth while.’ You know what fools we are at

 

 

 

thought about the matter six months before light came through one

of the meshes suddenly—blindingly! I found a general principle

of pigments and refraction—a formula, a geometrical expression

involving four dimensions. Fools, common men, even common

mathematicians, do not know anything of what some general expression

may mean to the student of molecular physics. In the books—the

books that tramp has hidden—there are marvels, miracles! But this

was not a method, it was an idea, that might lead to a method by

which it would be possible, without changing any other property of

matter—except, in some instances colours—to lower the refractive

index of a substance, solid or liquid, to that of air—so far as all

 

can understand that thereby you could spoil a valuable stone, but

 

action of the visible bodies on light. Either a body absorbs light,

or it reflects or refracts it, or does all these things. If it

neither reflects nor refracts nor absorbs light, it cannot of

itself be visible. You see an opaque red box, for instance, because

the colour absorbs some of the light and reflects the rest, all the

red part of the light, to you. If it did not absorb any particular

part of the light, but reflected it all, then it would be a shining

white box. Silver! A diamond box would neither absorb much of the

light nor reflect much from the general surface, but just here

and there where the surfaces were favourable the light would

be reflected and refracted, so that you would get a brilliant

appearance of flashing reflections and translucencies—a sort of

skeleton of light. A glass box would not be so brilliant, not so

clearly visible, as a diamond box, because there would be less

refraction and reflection. See that? From certain points of view

you would see quite clearly through it. Some kinds of glass would

be more visible than others, a box of flint glass would be brighter

than a box of ordinary window glass. A box of very thin common

glass would be hard to see in a bad light, because it would absorb

hardly any light and refract and reflect very little. And if you

put a sheet of common white glass in water, still more if you

put it in some denser liquid than water, it would vanish almost

altogether, because light passing from water to glass is only

slightly refracted or reflected or indeed affected in any way.

It is almost as invisible as a jet of coal gas or hydrogen is in

 

 

glass is smashed, Kemp, and beaten into a powder, it becomes much

more visible while it is in the air; it becomes at last an opaque

white powder. This is because the powdering multiplies the surfaces

of the glass at which refraction and reflection occur. In the sheet

of glass there are only two surfaces; in the powder the light is

reflected or refracted by each grain it passes through, and very

little gets right through the powder. But if the white powdered

glass is put into water, it forthwith vanishes. The powdered glass

and water have much the same refractive index; that is, the light

undergoes very little refraction or reflection in passing from one

to the other.

 

the same refractive index; a transparent thing becomes invisible if

it is put in any medium of almost the same refractive index. And if

you will consider only a second, you will see also that the powder

of glass might be made to vanish in air, if its refractive index

could be made the same as that of air; for then there would be no

 

 

 

 

your physics, in ten years? Just think of all the things that are

transparent and seem not to be so. Paper, for instance, is made up

of transparent fibres, and it is white and opaque only for the same

reason that a powder of glass is white and opaque. Oil white paper,

fill up the interstices between the particles with oil so that there

is no longer refraction or reflection except at the surfaces, and

it becomes as transparent as glass. And not only paper, but cotton

fibre, linen fibre, wool fibre, woody fibre, and _bone_, Kemp,

_flesh_, Kemp, _hair_, Kemp, _nails_ and _nerves_, Kemp, in fact

the whole fabric of a man except the red of his blood and the black

pigment of hair, are all made up of transparent, colourless tissue.

So little suffices to make us visible one to the other. For the

most part the fibres of a living creature are no more opaque than

 

 

I left London—six years ago. But I kept it to myself. I had to do

my work under frightful disadvantages. Oliver, my professor, was a

scientific bounder, a journalist by instinct, a thief of ideas—he

was always prying! And you know the knavish system of the scientific

world. I simply would not publish, and let him share my credit. I

went on working; I got nearer and nearer making my formula into an

experiment, a reality. I told no living soul, because I meant to

flash my work upon the world with crushing effect and become famous

at a blow. I took up the question of pigments to fill up certain

gaps. And suddenly, not by design but by accident, I made a

 

 

 

Kemp gave a cry of incredulous amazement.

 

well exclaim. I remember that night. It was late at night—in the

daytime one was bothered with the gaping, silly students—and I

worked then sometimes till dawn. It came suddenly, splendid and

complete in my mind. I was alone; the laboratory was still, with the

tall lights burning brightly and silently. In all my great moments

I have been alone. ‘One could make an animal—a tissue—transparent!

One could make it invisible! All except the pigments—I could be

invisible!’ I said, suddenly realising what it meant to be an albino

with such knowledge. It was overwhelming. I left the filtering I was

doing, and went and stared out of the great window at the stars.

‘I could be invisible!’ I repeated.

 

unclouded by doubt, a magnificent vision of all that invisibility

might mean to a man—the mystery, the power, the freedom. Drawbacks

I saw none. You have only to think! And I, a shabby, poverty-struck,

hemmed-in demonstrator, teaching fools in a provincial college,

might suddenly become—this. I ask you, Kemp if _you_ … Anyone, I

tell you, would have flung himself upon that research. And I worked

three years, and every mountain of difficulty I toiled over showed

another from its summit. The infinite details! And the exasperation!

A professor, a provincial professor, always prying. ‘When are you

going to publish this work of yours?’ was his everlasting question.

And the students, the cramped means! Three years I had of it—

 

 

 

window.

 

father.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XX

 

AT THE HOUSE IN GREAT PORTLAND STREET

 

 

For a moment Kemp sat in silence, staring at the back of the

headless figure at the window. Then he started, struck by a thought,

rose, took the Invisible Man’s arm, and turned him away from the

outlook.

 

 

He placed himself between Griffin and the nearest window.

 

For a space Griffin sat silent, and then he resumed abruptly:

 

happened. It was last December. I had taken a room in London, a

large unfurnished room in a big ill-managed lodging-house in a slum

near Great Portland Street. The room was soon full of the appliances

I had bought with his money; the work was going on steadily,

successfully, drawing near an end. I was like a man emerging from a

thicket, and suddenly coming on some unmeaning tragedy. I went to

bury him. My mind was still on this research, and I did not lift

a finger to save his character. I remember the funeral, the cheap

hearse, the scant ceremony, the windy frost-bitten hillside, and the

old college friend of his who read the service over him—a shabby,

black, bent old man with a snivelling cold.

 

had once been a village and was now patched and tinkered by the

jerry builders into the ugly likeness of a town. Every way the

roads ran out at last into the desecrated fields and ended in

rubble heaps and rank wet weeds. I remember myself as a gaunt black

figure, going along the slippery, shiny pavement, and the strange

sense of detachment I felt from the squalid respectability, the

sordid commercialism of the place.

 

the victim of his own foolish sentimentality. The current cant

required my attendance at his funeral, but it was really not my

affair.

 

for a space, for I met the girl I had known ten years since.

Our eyes met.

 

ordinary person.

 

feel then that I was lonely, that I had come out from the world

into a desolate place. I appreciated my loss of sympathy, but I put

it down to the general inanity of things. Re-entering my room

seemed like the recovery of reality. There were the things I knew

and loved. There stood the apparatus, the experiments arranged and

waiting. And now there was scarcely a difficulty left, beyond the

planning of details.

 

processes. We need not go into that now. For the most part, saving

certain gaps I chose to remember, they are written in cypher in

those books that tramp has hidden. We must hunt him down. We must

get those books again. But the essential phase was to place the

transparent object whose refractive index was to be lowered between

two radiating centres of a sort of ethereal vibration, of which I

will tell you more fully later. No, not those Roentgen vibrations—I

don’t know that these others of mine have been described. Yet

they are obvious enough. I needed two little dynamos, and these I

worked with a cheap gas engine. My first experiment was with a bit

of white wool fabric. It was the strangest thing in the world to

see it in the flicker of the flashes soft and white, and then to

watch it fade like a wreath of smoke and vanish.

 

emptiness, and there was the thing as solid as ever. I felt it

awkwardly, and threw it on the floor. I had a little trouble

finding it again.

 

turning, saw a lean white cat, very dirty, on the cistern cover

outside the window. A thought came into my head. ‘Everything ready

for you,’ I said, and went to the window, opened it, and called

softly. She came in, purring—the poor beast was starving—and

I gave her some milk. All my food was in a cupboard in the

corner of the room. After that she went smelling round the room,

evidently with the idea of making herself at home. The invisible

rag upset her a bit; you should have seen her spit at it! But I

made her comfortable on the pillow of my truckle-bed. And I gave

 

 

 

 

 

 

bleach the blood and done certain other things to her, I gave the

beast opium, and put her and the pillow she was sleeping on, on the

apparatus. And after all the rest had faded and vanished, there

 

 

I had her safe; but she woke while she was still misty, and miaowed

dismally, and someone came knocking. It was an old woman from

downstairs, who suspected me of vivisecting—a drink-sodden old

creature, with only a white cat to care for in all the world. I

whipped out some chloroform, applied it, and answered the door.

‘Did I hear a cat?’ she asked. ‘My cat?’ ‘Not here,’ said I, very

politely. She was a little doubtful and tried to peer past me into

the room; strange enough to her no doubt—bare walls, uncurtained

windows, truckle-bed, with the gas engine vibrating, and the

seethe of the radiant points, and that faint ghastly stinging of

chloroform in the air. She had to be satisfied at last and went

 

 

were the last to go, and the tips of the coloured hairs. And, as I

say, the back part of the eye, tough, iridescent stuff it is,

wouldn’t go at all.

 

was to be seen but the dim eyes and the claws. I stopped the gas

engine, felt for and stroked the beast, which was still insensible,

and then, being tired, left it sleeping on the invisible pillow and

went to bed. I found it hard to sleep. I lay awake thinking weak

aimless stuff, going over the experiment over and over again, or

dreaming feverishly of things growing misty and vanishing about me,

until everything, the ground I stood on, vanished, and so I came to

that sickly falling nightmare one gets. About two, the cat began

miaowing about the room. I tried to hush it by talking to it, and

then I decided to turn it out. I remember the shock I had when

striking a light—there were just the round eyes shining green—and

nothing round them. I would have given it milk, but I hadn’t any. It

wouldn’t be quiet, it just sat down and miaowed at the door. I tried

to catch it, with an idea of putting it out of the window, but it

wouldn’t be caught, it vanished. Then it began miaowing in different

parts of the room. At last I opened the window and made a bustle. I

suppose it went out at last. I never saw any more of it.

 

again, and the dismal windy hillside, until the day had come. I

found sleeping was hopeless, and, locking my door after me,

 

Kemp.

 

 

 

was alive four days after, I know, and down a grating in Great

Titchfield Street; because I saw a crowd round the place, trying

 

He was silent for the best part of a minute. Then he resumed

abruptly:

 

gone up Great Portland Street. I remember the barracks in Albany

Street, and the horse soldiers coming out, and at last I found the

summit of Primrose Hill. It was a sunny day in January—one of those

sunny, frosty days that came before the snow this year. My weary

brain tried to formulate the position, to plot out a plan of action.

 

inconclusive its attainment seemed. As a matter of fact I was worked

out; the intense stress of nearly four years’ continuous work left

me incapable of any strength of feeling. I was apathetic, and I

tried in vain to recover the enthusiasm of my first inquiries,

the passion of discovery that had enabled me to compass even the

downfall of my father’s grey hairs. Nothing seemed to matter. I saw

pretty clearly this was a transient mood, due to overwork and want

of sleep, and that either by drugs or rest it would be possible to

recover my energies.

 

through; the fixed idea still ruled me. And soon, for the money I

had was almost exhausted. I looked about me at the hillside, with

children playing and girls watching them, and tried to think of all

the fantastic advantages an invisible man would have in the world.

After a time I crawled home, took some food and a strong dose of

strychnine, and went to sleep in my clothes on my unmade bed.

Strychnine is a grand tonic, Kemp, to take the flabbiness out of

 

 

 

 

with threats and inquiries, an old Polish Jew in a long grey coat

and greasy slippers. I had been tormenting a cat in the night, he

was sure—the old woman’s tongue had been busy. He insisted on

knowing all about it. The laws in this country against vivisection

were very severe—he might be liable. I denied the cat. Then the

vibration of the little gas engine could be felt all over the

house, he said. That was true, certainly. He edged round me into

the room, peering about over his German-silver spectacles, and a

sudden dread came into my mind that he might carry away something

of my secret. I tried to keep between him and the concentrating

apparatus I had arranged, and that only made him more curious. What

was I doing? Why was I always alone and secretive? Was it legal?

Was it dangerous? I paid nothing but the usual rent. His had always

been a most respectable house—in a disreputable neighbourhood.

Suddenly my temper gave way. I told him to get out. He began to

protest, to jabber of his right of entry. In a moment I had him by

the collar; something ripped, and he went spinning out into his own

passage. I slammed and locked the door and sat down quivering.

 

went away.

 

would do, nor even what he had the power to do. To move to fresh

apartments would have meant delay; altogether I had barely twenty

pounds left in the world, for the most part in a bank—and I

could not afford that. Vanish! It was irresistible. Then there

would be an inquiry, the sacking of my room.

 

interrupted at its very climax, I became very angry and active. I

hurried out with my three books of notes, my cheque-book—the tramp

has them now—and directed them from the nearest Post Office to a

house of call for letters and parcels in Great Portland Street. I

tried to go out noiselessly. Coming in, I found my landlord going

quietly upstairs; he had heard the door close, I suppose. You would

have laughed to see him jump aside on the landing as came tearing

after him. He glared at me as I went by him, and I made the house

quiver with the slamming of my door. I heard him come shuffling up

to my floor, hesitate, and go down. I set to work upon my

preparations forthwith.

 

under the sickly, drowsy influence of the drugs that decolourise

blood, there came a repeated knocking at the door. It ceased,

footsteps went away and returned, and the knocking was resumed.

There was an attempt to push something under the door—a blue

paper. Then in a fit of irritation I rose and went and flung the

door wide open. ‘Now then?’ said I.

 

held it out to me, saw something odd about my hands, I expect, and

lifted his eyes to my face.

 

dropped candle and writ together, and went blundering down the dark

passage to the stairs. I shut the door, locked it, and went to the

looking-glass. Then I understood his terror…. My face was

white—like white stone.

 

of racking anguish, sickness and fainting. I set my teeth, though my

skin was presently afire, all my body afire; but I lay there like

grim death. I understood now how it was the cat had howled until I

chloroformed it. Lucky it was I lived alone and untended in my room.

There were times when I sobbed and groaned and talked. But I stuck

to it…. I became insensible and woke languid in the darkness.

 

care. I shall never forget that dawn, and the strange horror of

seeing that my hands had become as clouded glass, and watching them

grow clearer and thinner as the day went by, until at last I could

see the sickly disorder of my room through them, though I closed my

transparent eyelids. My limbs became glassy, the bones and arteries

faded, vanished, and the little white nerves went last. I gritted

my teeth and stayed there to the end. At last only the dead tips of

the fingernails remained, pallid and white, and the brown stain of

some acid upon my fingers.

 

infant—stepping with limbs I could not see. I was weak and very

hungry. I went and stared at nothing in my shaving-glass, at nothing

save where an attenuated pigment still remained behind the retina of

my eyes, fainter than mist. I had to hang on to the table and press

my forehead against the glass.

 

to the apparatus and completed the process.

 

out the light, and about midday I was awakened again by a knocking.

My strength had returned. I sat up and listened and heard a

whispering. I sprang to my feet and as noiselessly as possible began

to detach the connections of my apparatus, and to distribute it

about the room, so as to destroy the suggestions of its arrangement.

Presently the knocking was renewed and voices called, first my

landlord’s, and then two others. To gain time I answered them. The

invisible rag and pillow came to hand and I opened the window and

pitched them out on to the cistern cover. As the window opened, a

heavy crash came at the door. Someone had charged it with the idea

of smashing the lock. But the stout bolts I had screwed up some

days before stopped him. That startled me, made me angry. I began

to tremble and do things hurriedly.

 

forth, in the middle of the room, and turned on the gas. Heavy

blows began to rain upon the door. I could not find the matches. I

beat my hands on the wall with rage. I turned down the gas again,

stepped out of the window on the cistern cover, very softly lowered

the sash, and sat down, secure and invisible, but quivering with

anger, to watch events. They split a panel, I saw, and in another

moment they had broken away the staples of the bolts and stood in

the open doorway. It was the landlord and his two step-sons, sturdy

young men of three or four and twenty. Behind them fluttered the

old hag of a woman from downstairs.

 

the younger men rushed to the window at once, flung it up and stared

out. His staring eyes and thick-lipped bearded face came a foot

from my face. I was half minded to hit his silly countenance, but I

arrested my doubled fist. He stared right through me. So did the

others as they joined him. The old man went and peered under the

bed, and then they all made a rush for the cupboard. They had to

argue about it at length in Yiddish and Cockney English. They

concluded I had not answered them, that their imagination had

deceived them. A feeling of extraordinary elation took the place

of my anger as I sat outside the window and watched these four

people—for the old lady came in, glancing suspiciously about her

like a cat, trying to understand the riddle of my behaviour.

 

the old lady that I was a vivisectionist. The sons protested in

garbled English that I was an electrician, and appealed to the

dynamos and radiators. They were all nervous about my arrival,

although I found subsequently that they had bolted the front door.

The old lady peered into the cupboard and under the bed, and one of

the young men pushed up the register and stared up the chimney. One

of my fellow lodgers, a coster-monger who shared the opposite room

with a butcher, appeared on the landing, and he was called in and

told incoherent things.

 

of some acute well-educated person, would give me away too much,

and watching my opportunity, I came into the room and tilted one of

the little dynamos off its fellow on which it was standing, and

smashed both apparatus. Then, while they were trying to explain the

smash, I dodged out of the room and went softly downstairs.

 

down, still speculating and argumentative, all a little disappointed

at finding no ‘horrors,’ and all a little puzzled how they stood

legally towards me. Then I slipped up again with a box of matches,

fired my heap of paper and rubbish, put the chairs and bedding

thereby, led the gas to the affair, by means of an india-rubber

 

 

doubt it was insured. I slipped the bolts of the front door quietly

and went out into the street. I was invisible, and I was only just

beginning to realise the extraordinary advantage my invisibility

gave me. My head was already teeming with plans of all the wild and

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXI

 

IN OXFORD STREET

 

 

because I could not see my feet; indeed I stumbled twice, and there

was an unaccustomed clumsiness in gripping the bolt. By not looking

down, however, I managed to walk on the level passably well.

 

might do, with padded feet and noiseless clothes, in a city of the

blind. I experienced a wild impulse to jest, to startle people, to

clap men on the back, fling people’s hats astray, and generally

revel in my extraordinary advantage.

 

lodging was close to the big draper’s shop there), when I heard a

clashing concussion and was hit violently behind, and turning saw

a man carrying a basket of soda-water syphons, and looking in

amazement at his burden. Although the blow had really hurt me, I

found something so irresistible in his astonishment that I laughed

aloud. ‘The devil’s in the basket,’ I said, and suddenly twisted

it out of his hand. He let go incontinently, and I swung the whole

weight into the air.

 

sudden rush for this, and his extending fingers took me with

excruciating violence under the ear. I let the whole down with a

smash on the cabman, and then, with shouts and the clatter of feet

about me, people coming out of shops, vehicles pulling up, I

realised what I had done for myself, and cursing my folly, backed

against a shop window and prepared to dodge out of the confusion. In

a moment I should be wedged into a crowd and inevitably discovered.

I pushed by a butcher boy, who luckily did not turn to see the

nothingness that shoved him aside, and dodged behind the cab-man’s

four-wheeler. I do not know how they settled the business, I hurried

straight across the road, which was happily clear, and hardly

heeding which way I went, in the fright of detection the incident

had given me, plunged into the afternoon throng of Oxford Street.

 

for me, and in a moment my heels were being trodden upon. I took to

the gutter, the roughness of which I found painful to my feet, and

forthwith the shaft of a crawling hansom dug me forcibly under the

shoulder blade, reminding me that I was already bruised severely. I

staggered out of the way of the cab, avoided a perambulator by a

convulsive movement, and found myself behind the hansom. A happy

thought saved me, and as this drove slowly along I followed in its

immediate wake, trembling and astonished at the turn of my

adventure. And not only trembling, but shivering. It was a bright

day in January and I was stark naked and the thin slime of mud that

covered the road was freezing. Foolish as it seems to me now, I had

not reckoned that, transparent or not, I was still amenable to the

weather and all its consequences.

 

into the cab. And so, shivering, scared, and sniffing with the first

intimations of a cold, and with the bruises in the small of my back

growing upon my attention, I drove slowly along Oxford Street and

past Tottenham Court Road. My mood was as different from that in

which I had sallied forth ten minutes ago as it is possible to

imagine. This invisibility indeed! The one thought that possessed

me was—how was I to get out of the scrape I was in.

 

yellow-labelled books hailed my cab, and I sprang out just in time

to escape her, shaving a railway van narrowly in my flight. I made

off up the roadway to Bloomsbury Square, intending to strike north

past the Museum and so get into the quiet district. I was now

cruelly chilled, and the strangeness of my situation so unnerved me

that I whimpered as I ran. At the northward corner of the Square a

little white dog ran out of the Pharmaceutical Society’s offices,

and incontinently made for me, nose down.

 

dog what the eye is to the mind of a seeing man. Dogs perceive the

scent of a man moving as men perceive his vision. This brute began

barking and leaping, showing, as it seemed to me, only too plainly

that he was aware of me. I crossed Great Russell Street, glancing

over my shoulder as I did so, and went some way along Montague

Street before I realised what I was running towards.

 

street saw a number of people advancing out of Russell Square, red

shirts, and the banner of the Salvation Army to the fore. Such a

crowd, chanting in the roadway and scoffing on the pavement, I

could not hope to penetrate, and dreading to go back and farther

from home again, and deciding on the spur of the moment, I ran up

the white steps of a house facing the museum railings, and stood

there until the crowd should have passed. Happily the dog stopped

at the noise of the band too, hesitated, and turned tail, running

back to Bloomsbury Square again.

 

‘When shall we see His face?’ and it seemed an interminable time

to me before the tide of the crowd washed along the pavement by me.

Thud, thud, thud, came the drum with a vibrating resonance, and for

the moment I did not notice two urchins stopping at the railings by

me. ‘See ’em,’ said one. ‘See what?’ said the other. ‘Why—them

footmarks—bare. Like what you makes in mud.’

 

at the muddy footmarks I had left behind me up the newly whitened

steps. The passing people elbowed and jostled them, but their

confounded intelligence was arrested. ‘Thud, thud, thud, when,

thud, shall we see, thud, his face, thud, thud.’ ‘There’s a

barefoot man gone up them steps, or I don’t know nothing,’ said

one. ‘And he ain’t never come down again. And his foot was

a-bleeding.’

 

quoth the younger of the detectives, with the sharpness of surprise

in his voice, and pointed straight to my feet. I looked down and

saw at once the dim suggestion of their outline sketched in

splashes of mud. For a moment I was paralysed.

 

the ghost of a foot, ain’t it?’ He hesitated and advanced with

outstretched hand. A man pulled up short to see what he was

catching, and then a girl. In another moment he would have touched

me. Then I saw what to do. I made a step, the boy started back with

an exclamation, and with a rapid movement I swung myself over into

the portico of the next house. But the smaller boy was sharp-eyed

enough to follow the movement, and before I was well down the

steps and upon the pavement, he had recovered from his momentary

astonishment and was shouting out that the feet had gone over the

wall.

 

lower step and upon the pavement. ‘What’s up?’ asked someone.

‘Feet! Look! Feet running!’

 

after the Salvation Army, and this blow not only impeded me but them.

There was an eddy of surprise and interrogation. At the cost of

bowling over one young fellow I got through, and in another moment

I was rushing headlong round the circuit of Russell Square, with

six or seven astonished people following my footmarks. There was

no time for explanation, or else the whole host would have been

after me.

 

back upon my tracks, and then, as my feet grew hot and dry, the

damp impressions began to fade. At last I had a breathing space

and rubbed my feet clean with my hands, and so got away altogether.

The last I saw of the chase was a little group of a dozen people

perhaps, studying with infinite perplexity a slowly drying

footprint that had resulted from a puddle in Tavistock Square, a

footprint as isolated and incomprehensible to them as Crusoe’s

solitary discovery.

 

better courage through the maze of less frequented roads that runs

hereabouts. My back had now become very stiff and sore, my tonsils

were painful from the cabman’s fingers, and the skin of my neck

had been scratched by his nails; my feet hurt exceedingly and I

was lame from a little cut on one foot. I saw in time a blind

man approaching me, and fled limping, for I feared his subtle

intuitions. Once or twice accidental collisions occurred and I left

people amazed, with unaccountable curses ringing in their ears.

Then came something silent and quiet against my face, and across

the Square fell a thin veil of slowly falling flakes of snow. I had

caught a cold, and do as I would I could not avoid an occasional

sneeze. And every dog that came in sight, with its pointing nose

and curious sniffing, was a terror to me.

 

shouting as they ran. It was a fire. They ran in the direction of

my lodging, and looking back down a street I saw a mass of black

smoke streaming up above the roofs and telephone wires. It was my

lodging burning; my clothes, my apparatus, all my resources indeed,

except my cheque-book and the three volumes of memoranda that

awaited me in Great Portland Street, were there. Burning! I had

 

The Invisible Man paused and thought. Kemp glanced nervously out of

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXII

 

IN THE EMPORIUM

 

 

about me—and if it settled on me it would betray me!—weary,

cold, painful, inexpressibly wretched, and still but half convinced

of my invisible quality, I began this new life to which I am

committed. I had no refuge, no appliances, no human being in the

world in whom I could confide. To have told my secret would have

given me away—made a mere show and rarity of me. Nevertheless, I

was half-minded to accost some passer-by and throw myself upon his

mercy. But I knew too clearly the terror and brutal cruelty my

advances would evoke. I made no plans in the street. My sole object

was to get shelter from the snow, to get myself covered and warm;

then I might hope to plan. But even to me, an Invisible Man, the

rows of London houses stood latched, barred, and bolted

impregnably.

 

and misery of the snowstorm and the night.

 

leading from Gower Street to Tottenham Court Road, and found myself

outside Omniums, the big establishment where everything is to be

bought—you know the place: meat, grocery, linen, furniture,

clothing, oil paintings even—a huge meandering collection of shops

rather than a shop. I had thought I should find the doors open, but

they were closed, and as I stood in the wide entrance a carriage

stopped outside, and a man in uniform—you know the kind of

personage with ‘Omnium’ on his cap—flung open the door. I contrived

to enter, and walking down the shop—it was a department where they

were selling ribbons and gloves and stockings and that kind of

thing—came to a more spacious region devoted to picnic baskets and

wicker furniture.

 

and I prowled restlessly about until I came upon a huge section in

an upper floor containing multitudes of bedsteads, and over these I

clambered, and found a resting-place at last among a huge pile of

folded flock mattresses. The place was already lit up and agreeably

warm, and I decided to remain where I was, keeping a cautious

eye on the two or three sets of shopmen and customers who were

meandering through the place, until closing time came. Then I

should be able, I thought, to rob the place for food and clothing,

and disguised, prowl through it and examine its resources, perhaps

sleep on some of the bedding. That seemed an acceptable plan.

My idea was to procure clothing to make myself a muffled but

acceptable figure, to get money, and then to recover my books

and parcels where they awaited me, take a lodging somewhere and

elaborate plans for the complete realisation of the advantages my

invisibility gave me (as I still imagined) over my fellow-men.

 

than an hour after I took up my position on the mattresses before I

noticed the blinds of the windows being drawn, and customers being

marched doorward. And then a number of brisk young men began with

remarkable alacrity to tidy up the goods that remained disturbed. I

left my lair as the crowds diminished, and prowled cautiously out

into the less desolate parts of the shop. I was really surprised to

observe how rapidly the young men and women whipped away the goods

displayed for sale during the day. All the boxes of goods, the

hanging fabrics, the festoons of lace, the boxes of sweets in the

grocery section, the displays of this and that, were being whipped

down, folded up, slapped into tidy receptacles, and everything that

could not be taken down and put away had sheets of some coarse

stuff like sacking flung over them. Finally all the chairs were

turned up on to the counters, leaving the floor clear. Directly

each of these young people had done, he or she made promptly for

the door with such an expression of animation as I have rarely

observed in a shop assistant before. Then came a lot of youngsters

scattering sawdust and carrying pails and brooms. I had to dodge

to get out of the way, and as it was, my ankle got stung with the

sawdust. For some time, wandering through the swathed and darkened

departments, I could hear the brooms at work. And at last a good

hour or more after the shop had been closed, came a noise of

locking doors. Silence came upon the place, and I found myself

wandering through the vast and intricate shops, galleries, show-rooms

of the place, alone. It was very still; in one place I remember

passing near one of the Tottenham Court Road entrances and listening

to the tapping of boot-heels of the passers-by.

 

gloves for sale. It was dark, and I had the devil of a hunt after

matches, which I found at last in the drawer of the little cash

desk. Then I had to get a candle. I had to tear down wrappings and

ransack a number of boxes and drawers, but at last I managed to turn

out what I sought; the box label called them lambswool pants, and

lambswool vests. Then socks, a thick comforter, and then I went to

the clothing place and got trousers, a lounge jacket, an overcoat

and a slouch hat—a clerical sort of hat with the brim turned down.

I began to feel a human being again, and my next thought was food.

 

There was coffee still in the urn, and I lit the gas and warmed it

up again, and altogether I did not do badly. Afterwards, prowling

through the place in search of blankets—I had to put up at last

with a heap of down quilts—I came upon a grocery section with

a lot of chocolate and candied fruits, more than was good for me

indeed—and some white burgundy. And near that was a toy department,

and I had a brilliant idea. I found some artificial noses—dummy

noses, you know, and I thought of dark spectacles. But Omniums had

no optical department. My nose had been a difficulty indeed—I had

thought of paint. But the discovery set my mind running on wigs and

masks and the like. Finally I went to sleep in a heap of down

quilts, very warm and comfortable.

 

since the change. I was in a state of physical serenity, and that

was reflected in my mind. I thought that I should be able to slip

out unobserved in the morning with my clothes upon me, muffling my

face with a white wrapper I had taken, purchase, with the money I

had taken, spectacles and so forth, and so complete my disguise. I

lapsed into disorderly dreams of all the fantastic things that had

happened during the last few days. I saw the ugly little Jew of a

landlord vociferating in his rooms; I saw his two sons marvelling,

and the wrinkled old woman’s gnarled face as she asked for her cat.

I experienced again the strange sensation of seeing the cloth

disappear, and so I came round to the windy hillside and the

sniffing old clergyman mumbling ‘Earth to earth, ashes to ashes,

dust to dust,’ at my father’s open grave.

 

the grave. I struggled, shouted, appealed to the mourners, but they

continued stonily following the service; the old clergyman, too,

never faltered droning and sniffing through the ritual. I realised

I was invisible and inaudible, that overwhelming forces had their

grip on me. I struggled in vain, I was forced over the brink, the

coffin rang hollow as I fell upon it, and the gravel came flying

after me in spadefuls. Nobody heeded me, nobody was aware of me. I

made convulsive struggles and awoke.

 

light that filtered round the edges of the window blinds. I sat up,

and for a time I could not think where this ample apartment, with

its counters, its piles of rolled stuff, its heap of quilts and

cushions, its iron pillars, might be. Then, as recollection came

back to me, I heard voices in conversation.

 

which had already raised its blinds, I saw two men approaching. I

scrambled to my feet, looking about me for some way of escape, and

even as I did so the sound of my movement made them aware of me. I

suppose they saw merely a figure moving quietly and quickly away.

‘Who’s that?’ cried one, and ‘Stop, there!’ shouted the other. I

dashed around a corner and came full tilt—a faceless figure,

mind you!—on a lanky lad of fifteen. He yelled and I bowled him

over, rushed past him, turned another corner, and by a happy

inspiration threw myself behind a counter. In another moment feet

went running past and I heard voices shouting, ‘All hands to the

doors!’ asking what was ‘up,’ and giving one another advice how to

catch me.

 

it may seem—it did not occur to me at the moment to take off my

clothes as I should have done. I had made up my mind, I suppose, to

get away in them, and that ruled me. And then down the vista of the

counters came a bawling of ‘Here he is!’

 

whirling at the fool who had shouted, turned, came into another

round a corner, sent him spinning, and rushed up the stairs. He

kept his footing, gave a view hallo, and came up the staircase hot

after me. Up the staircase were piled a multitude of those

 

 

round, plucked one out of a pile and smashed it on his silly head

as he came at me. The whole pile of pots went headlong, and I heard

shouting and footsteps running from all parts. I made a mad rush

for the refreshment place, and there was a man in white like a man

cook, who took up the chase. I made one last desperate turn and

found myself among lamps and ironmongery. I went behind the counter

of this, and waited for my cook, and as he bolted in at the head of

the chase, I doubled him up with a lamp. Down he went, and I

crouched down behind the counter and began whipping off my clothes

as fast as I could. Coat, jacket, trousers, shoes were all right,

but a lambswool vest fits a man like a skin. I heard more men

coming, my cook was lying quiet on the other side of the counter,

stunned or scared speechless, and I had to make another dash for

it, like a rabbit hunted out of a wood-pile.

 

my bedstead storeroom again, and at the end of a wilderness of

wardrobes. I rushed among them, went flat, got rid of my vest after

infinite wriggling, and stood a free man again, panting and scared,

as the policeman and three of the shopmen came round the corner.

They made a rush for the vest and pants, and collared the trousers.

‘He’s dropping his plunder,’ said one of the young men. ‘He _must_

be somewhere here.’

 

 

ill-luck in losing the clothes. Then I went into the refreshment-room,

drank a little milk I found there, and sat down by the fire to

consider my position.

 

the business very excitedly and like the fools they were. I heard a

magnified account of my depredations, and other speculations as to

my whereabouts. Then I fell to scheming again. The insurmountable

difficulty of the place, especially now it was alarmed, was to get

any plunder out of it. I went down into the warehouse to see if

there was any chance of packing and addressing a parcel, but I

could not understand the system of checking. About eleven o’clock,

the snow having thawed as it fell, and the day being finer and a

little warmer than the previous one, I decided that the Emporium

was hopeless, and went out again, exasperated at my want of

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXIII

 

IN DRURY LANE

 

 

disadvantage of my condition. I had no shelter—no covering—to

get clothing was to forego all my advantage, to make myself a

strange and terrible thing. I was fasting; for to eat, to fill

myself with unassimilated matter, would be to become grotesquely

 

 

go abroad in snow—it would settle on me and expose me. Rain, too,

would make me a watery outline, a glistening surface of a man—a

bubble. And fog—I should be like a fainter bubble in a fog,

a surface, a greasy glimmer of humanity. Moreover, as I went

abroad—in the London air—I gathered dirt about my ankles, floating

smuts and dust upon my skin. I did not know how long it would be

before I should become visible from that cause also. But I saw

clearly it could not be for long.

 

 

myself at the end of the street in which I had lodged. I did not

go that way, because of the crowd halfway down it opposite to the

still smoking ruins of the house I had fired. My most immediate

problem was to get clothing. What to do with my face puzzled me.

Then I saw in one of those little miscellaneous shops—news,

sweets, toys, stationery, belated Christmas tomfoolery, and so

forth—an array of masks and noses. I realised that problem was

solved. In a flash I saw my course. I turned about, no longer

aimless, and went—circuitously in order to avoid the busy ways,

towards the back streets north of the Strand; for I remembered,

though not very distinctly where, that some theatrical costumiers

had shops in that district.

 

streets. I walked fast to avoid being overtaken. Every crossing was

a danger, every passenger a thing to watch alertly. One man as I

was about to pass him at the top of Bedford Street, turned upon

me abruptly and came into me, sending me into the road and almost

under the wheel of a passing hansom. The verdict of the cab-rank

was that he had had some sort of stroke. I was so unnerved by this

encounter that I went into Covent Garden Market and sat down for

some time in a quiet corner by a stall of violets, panting and

trembling. I found I had caught a fresh cold, and had to turn out

after a time lest my sneezes should attract attention.

 

shop in a by-way near Drury Lane, with a window full of tinsel

robes, sham jewels, wigs, slippers, dominoes and theatrical

photographs. The shop was old-fashioned and low and dark, and the

house rose above it for four storeys, dark and dismal. I peered

through the window and, seeing no one within, entered. The opening

of the door set a clanking bell ringing. I left it open, and walked

round a bare costume stand, into a corner behind a cheval glass. For

a minute or so no one came. Then I heard heavy feet striding across

a room, and a man appeared down the shop.

 

into the house, secrete myself upstairs, watch my opportunity, and

when everything was quiet, rummage out a wig, mask, spectacles, and

costume, and go into the world, perhaps a grotesque but still a

credible figure. And incidentally of course I could rob the house

of any available money.

 

hunched, beetle-browed man, with long arms and very short bandy

legs. Apparently I had interrupted a meal. He stared about the shop

with an expression of expectation. This gave way to surprise, and

then to anger, as he saw the shop empty. ‘Damn the boys!’ he said.

He went to stare up and down the street. He came in again in a

minute, kicked the door to with his foot spitefully, and went

muttering back to the house door.

 

stopped dead. I did so too, startled by his quickness of ear. He

slammed the house door in my face.

 

and the door reopened. He stood looking about the shop like one who

was still not satisfied. Then, murmuring to himself, he examined the

back of the counter and peered behind some fixtures. Then he stood

doubtful. He had left the house door open and I slipped into the

inner room.

 

big masks in the corner. On the table was his belated breakfast,

and it was a confoundedly exasperating thing for me, Kemp, to have

to sniff his coffee and stand watching while he came in and resumed

his meal. And his table manners were irritating. Three doors opened

into the little room, one going upstairs and one down, but they

were all shut. I could not get out of the room while he was there;

I could scarcely move because of his alertness, and there was a

draught down my back. Twice I strangled a sneeze just in time.

 

for all that I was heartily tired and angry long before he had done

his eating. But at last he made an end and putting his beggarly

crockery on the black tin tray upon which he had had his teapot, and

gathering all the crumbs up on the mustard stained cloth, he took

the whole lot of things after him. His burden prevented his shutting

the door behind him—as he would have done; I never saw such a man

for shutting doors—and I followed him into a very dirty underground

kitchen and scullery. I had the pleasure of seeing him begin to wash

up, and then, finding no good in keeping down there, and the brick

floor being cold on my feet, I returned upstairs and sat in his

chair by the fire. It was burning low, and scarcely thinking, I put

on a little coal. The noise of this brought him up at once, and

he stood aglare. He peered about the room and was within an ace

of touching me. Even after that examination, he scarcely seemed

satisfied. He stopped in the doorway and took a final inspection

before he went down.

 

and opened the upstairs door. I just managed to get by him.

 

blundered into him. He stood looking back right into my face and

listening. ‘I could have sworn,’ he said. His long hairy hand

pulled at his lower lip. His eye went up and down the staircase.

Then he grunted and went on up again.

 

with the same puzzled anger on his face. He was becoming aware of

the faint sounds of my movements about him. The man must have had

diabolically acute hearing. He suddenly flashed into rage. ‘If

there’s anyone in this house—‘ he cried with an oath, and left the

threat unfinished. He put his hand in his pocket, failed to find

what he wanted, and rushing past me went blundering noisily and

pugnaciously downstairs. But I did not follow him. I sat on the

head of the staircase until his return.

 

the room, and before I could enter, slammed it in my face.

 

as noiselessly as possible. The house was very old and tumble-down,

damp so that the paper in the attics was peeling from the walls, and

rat infested. Some of the door handles were stiff and I was afraid

to turn them. Several rooms I did inspect were unfurnished, and

others were littered with theatrical lumber, bought second-hand, I

judged, from its appearance. In one room next to his I found a lot

of old clothes. I began routing among these, and in my eagerness

forgot again the evident sharpness of his ears. I heard a stealthy

footstep and, looking up just in time, saw him peering in at the

tumbled heap and holding an old-fashioned revolver in his hand.

I stood perfectly still while he stared about open-mouthed and

suspicious. ‘It must have been her,’ he said slowly. ‘Damn her!’

 

the lock. Then his footsteps retreated. I realised abruptly that I

was locked in. For a minute I did not know what to do. I walked

from door to window and back, and stood perplexed. A gust of anger

came upon me. But I decided to inspect the clothes before I did

anything further, and my first attempt brought down a pile from an

upper shelf. This brought him back, more sinister than ever. That

time he actually touched me, jumped back with amazement and stood

astonished in the middle of the room.

 

fingers on lips. He was evidently a little scared. I edged quietly

out of the room, but a plank creaked. Then the infernal little brute

started going all over the house, revolver in hand and locking door

after door and pocketing the keys. When I realised what he was up to

I had a fit of rage—I could hardly control myself sufficiently to

watch my opportunity. By this time I knew he was alone in the house,

 

 

behind with a stool that stood on the landing. He went downstairs

 

 

I had to get out of that house in a disguise without his seeing me.

I couldn’t think of any other way of doing it. And then I gagged

 

 

idiot scared and quiet, and a devilish hard thing to get out

of—head away from the string. My dear Kemp, it’s no good your

sitting glaring as though I was a murderer. It had to be done. He

had his revolver. If once he saw me he would be able to describe

 

 

you’re not fool enough to dance on the old strings. Can’t you see

 

 

 

Kemp’s face grew a trifle hard. He was about to speak and checked

 

too—hunting me about the house, fooling about with his revolver,

locking and unlocking doors. He was simply exasperating. You don’t

 

 

than sufficient to satisfy my hunger. I took some brandy and

water, and then went up past my impromptu bag—he was lying quite

still—to the room containing the old clothes. This looked out

upon the street, two lace curtains brown with dirt guarding the

window. I went and peered out through their interstices. Outside

the day was bright—by contrast with the brown shadows of the

dismal house in which I found myself, dazzlingly bright. A brisk

traffic was going by, fruit carts, a hansom, a four-wheeler with a

pile of boxes, a fishmonger’s cart. I turned with spots of colour

swimming before my eyes to the shadowy fixtures behind me. My

excitement was giving place to a clear apprehension of my position

again. The room was full of a faint scent of benzoline, used, I

suppose, in cleaning the garments.

 

hunchback had been alone in the house for some time. He was a

curious person. Everything that could possibly be of service to me

I collected in the clothes storeroom, and then I made a deliberate

selection. I found a handbag I thought a suitable possession, and

some powder, rouge, and sticking-plaster.

 

there was to show of me, in order to render myself visible, but

the disadvantage of this lay in the fact that I should require

turpentine and other appliances and a considerable amount of time

before I could vanish again. Finally I chose a mask of the better

type, slightly grotesque but not more so than many human beings,

dark glasses, greyish whiskers, and a wig. I could find no

underclothing, but that I could buy subsequently, and for the time I

swathed myself in calico dominoes and some white cashmere scarfs. I

could find no socks, but the hunchback’s boots were rather a loose

fit and sufficed. In a desk in the shop were three sovereigns and

about thirty shillings’ worth of silver, and in a locked cupboard I

burst in the inner room were eight pounds in gold. I could go forth

into the world again, equipped.

 

credible? I tried myself with a little bedroom looking-glass,

inspecting myself from every point of view to discover any

forgotten chink, but it all seemed sound. I was grotesque to the

theatrical pitch, a stage miser, but I was certainly not a physical

impossibility. Gathering confidence, I took my looking-glass down

into the shop, pulled down the shop blinds, and surveyed myself

from every point of view with the help of the cheval glass in the

corner.

 

shop door and marched out into the street, leaving the little man

to get out of his sheet again when he liked. In five minutes a

dozen turnings intervened between me and the costumier’s shop. No

one appeared to notice me very pointedly. My last difficulty seemed

 

He stopped again.

 

 

I suppose he untied himself or kicked himself out. The knots were

 

He became silent and went to the window and stared out.

 

 

Practically I thought I had impunity to do whatever I chose,

everything—save to give away my secret. So I thought. Whatever I

did, whatever the consequences might be, was nothing to me. I had

merely to fling aside my garments and vanish. No person could hold

me. I could take my money where I found it. I decided to treat

myself to a sumptuous feast, and then put up at a good hotel, and

accumulate a new outfit of property. I felt amazingly confident;

it’s not particularly pleasant recalling that I was an ass. I went

into a place and was already ordering lunch, when it occurred to me

that I could not eat unless I exposed my invisible face. I finished

ordering the lunch, told the man I should be back in ten minutes,

and went out exasperated. I don’t know if you have ever been

 

 

desire for tasteful food, I went into another place and demanded a

private room. ‘I am disfigured,’ I said. ‘Badly.’ They looked at

me curiously, but of course it was not their affair—and so at

last I got my lunch. It was not particularly well served, but it

sufficed; and when I had had it, I sat over a cigar, trying to plan

my line of action. And outside a snowstorm was beginning.

 

helpless absurdity an Invisible Man was—in a cold and dirty

climate and a crowded civilised city. Before I made this mad

experiment I had dreamt of a thousand advantages. That afternoon

it seemed all disappointment. I went over the heads of the things

a man reckons desirable. No doubt invisibility made it possible

to get them, but it made it impossible to enjoy them when they

are got. Ambition—what is the good of pride of place when you

cannot appear there? What is the good of the love of woman when

her name must needs be Delilah? I have no taste for politics, for

the blackguardisms of fame, for philanthropy, for sport. What was

I to do? And for this I had become a wrapped-up mystery, a swathed

 

He paused, and his attitude suggested a roving glance at the

window.

 

guest busy talking.

 

it still. It is a full blown idea now. A way of getting back! Of

restoring what I have done. When I choose. When I have done all I

mean to do invisibly. And that is what I chiefly want to talk to

 

 

cheque-book, my luggage and underclothing, order a quantity of

chemicals to work out this idea of mine—I will show you the

calculations as soon as I get my books—and then I started. Jove!

I remember the snowstorm now, and the accursed bother it was to

 

 

 

 

 

 

with an unpleasant laugh.

 

for years, to have planned and plotted, and then to get some

fumbling purblind idiot messing across your course! … Every

conceivable sort of silly creature that has ever been created has

been sent to cross me.

 

mowing ’em.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXIV

 

THE PLAN THAT FAILED

 

 

 

He moved nearer his guest as he spoke in such a manner as to

prevent the possibility of a sudden glimpse of the three men who

were advancing up the hill road—with an intolerable slowness, as

it seemed to Kemp.

 

 

plan rather since seeing you. I thought it would be wise, now the

weather is hot and invisibility possible, to make for the South.

Especially as my secret was known, and everyone would be on the

lookout for a masked and muffled man. You have a line of steamers

from here to France. My idea was to get aboard one and run the

risks of the passage. Thence I could go by train into Spain, or else

get to Algiers. It would not be difficult. There a man might always

be invisible—and yet live. And do things. I was using that tramp

as a money box and luggage carrier, until I decided how to get my

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kemp tried to think of something to keep the talk going, but the

Invisible Man resumed of his own accord.

 

For you are a man that can understand. In spite of all that has

happened, in spite of this publicity, of the loss of my books, of

what I have suffered, there still remain great possibilities, huge

 

 

 

 

 

began to pace the study.

 

through alone. I have wasted strength, time, opportunities. Alone—it

is wonderful how little a man can do alone! To rob a little,

to hurt a little, and there is the end.

 

an arrangement whereby I can sleep and eat and rest in peace, and

unsuspected. I must have a confederate. With a confederate, with

food and rest—a thousand things are possible.

 

invisibility means, all that it does not mean. It means little

advantage for eavesdropping and so forth—one makes sounds. It’s

of little help—a little help perhaps—in housebreaking and so

forth. Once you’ve caught me you could easily imprison me. But on

the other hand I am hard to catch. This invisibility, in fact, is

only good in two cases: It’s useful in getting away, it’s useful in

approaching. It’s particularly useful, therefore, in killing. I can

walk round a man, whatever weapon he has, choose my point, strike

 

Kemp’s hand went to his moustache. Was that a movement

downstairs?

 

 

 

know there is an Invisible Man—as well as we know there is an

Invisible Man. And that Invisible Man, Kemp, must now establish a

Reign of Terror. Yes; no doubt it’s startling. But I mean it. A

Reign of Terror. He must take some town like your Burdock and

terrify and dominate it. He must issue his orders. He can do that

in a thousand ways—scraps of paper thrust under doors would

suffice. And all who disobey his orders he must kill, and kill

 

of his front door opening and closing.

 

 

 

agree to this. Why dream of playing a game against the race? How

can you hope to gain happiness? Don’t be a lone wolf. Publish

your results; take the world—take the nation at least—into your

 

 

 

to the door.

 

And then things happened very swiftly. Kemp hesitated for a second

and then moved to intercept him. The Invisible Man started and stood

opened, and sitting down the Unseen began to disrobe. Kemp made

three swift steps to the door, and forthwith the Invisible Man—his

legs had vanished—sprang to his feet with a shout. Kemp flung the

door open.

 

As it opened, there came a sound of hurrying feet downstairs and

voices.

 

With a quick movement Kemp thrust the Invisible Man back, sprang

aside, and slammed the door. The key was outside and ready. In

another moment Griffin would have been alone in the belvedere

study, a prisoner. Save for one little thing. The key had been

slipped in hastily that morning. As Kemp slammed the door it fell

noisily upon the carpet.

 

Kemp’s face became white. He tried to grip the door handle with

both hands. For a moment he stood lugging. Then the door gave six

inches. But he got it closed again. The second time it was jerked a

foot wide, and the dressing-gown came wedging itself into the

opening. His throat was gripped by invisible fingers, and he left

his hold on the handle to defend himself. He was forced back,

tripped and pitched heavily into the corner of the landing. The

empty dressing-gown was flung on the top of him.

 

Halfway up the staircase was Colonel Adye, the recipient of Kemp’s

letter, the chief of the Burdock police. He was staring aghast at

the sudden appearance of Kemp, followed by the extraordinary sight

of clothing tossing empty in the air. He saw Kemp felled, and

struggling to his feet. He saw him rush forward, and go down again,

felled like an ox.

 

Then suddenly he was struck violently. By nothing! A vast weight,

it seemed, leapt upon him, and he was hurled headlong down the

staircase, with a grip on his throat and a knee in his groin. An

invisible foot trod on his back, a ghostly patter passed downstairs,

he heard the two police officers in the hall shout and run, and the

front door of the house slammed violently.

 

He rolled over and sat up staring. He saw, staggering down the

staircase, Kemp, dusty and disheveled, one side of his face white

from a blow, his lip bleeding, and a pink dressing-gown and some

underclothing held in his arms.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXV

 

THE HUNTING OF THE INVISIBLE MAN

 

 

For a space Kemp was too inarticulate to make Adye understand the

swift things that had just happened. They stood on the landing,

Kemp speaking swiftly, the grotesque swathings of Griffin still on

his arm. But presently Adye began to grasp something of the

situation.

 

of nothing but his own advantage, his own safety. I have listened

to such a story this morning of brutal self-seeking…. He has wounded

men. He will kill them unless we can prevent him. He will create a

 

 

begin at once. You must set every available man to work; you must

prevent his leaving this district. Once he gets away, he may go

through the countryside as he wills, killing and maiming. He dreams

of a reign of terror! A reign of terror, I tell you. You must set a

watch on trains and roads and shipping. The garrison must help. You

must wire for help. The only thing that may keep him here is the

thought of recovering some books of notes he counts of value. I will

 

 

prevent him from eating or sleeping; day and night the country must

be astir for him. Food must be locked up and secured, all food, so

that he will have to break his way to it. The houses everywhere must

be barred against him. Heaven send us cold nights and rain! The

whole country-side must begin hunting and keep hunting. I tell you,

Adye, he is a danger, a disaster; unless he is pinned and secured,

 

organising. But why not come? Yes—you come too! Come, and we

must hold a sort of council of war—get Hopps to help—and the

railway managers. By Jove! it’s urgent. Come along—tell me as we

 

In another moment Adye was leading the way downstairs. They found

the front door open and the policemen standing outside staring at

 

go on down and get a cab to come up and meet us—quickly. And

 

 

officials over at Halstead know a man with bloodhounds. Dogs. What

 

shows until it is assimilated. So that he has to hide after eating.

You must keep on beating. Every thicket, every quiet corner. And

put all weapons—all implements that might be weapons, away. He

can’t carry such things for long. And what he can snatch up and

 

 

 

 

 

unsportsmanlike. I don’t know. But I’ll have powdered glass got

 

will establish a reign of terror—so soon as he has got over the

emotions of this escape—as I am sure I am talking to you. Our

only chance is to be ahead. He has cut himself off from his kind.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXVI

 

THE WICKSTEED MURDER

 

 

The Invisible Man seems to have rushed out of Kemp’s house in a

state of blind fury. A little child playing near Kemp’s gateway was

violently caught up and thrown aside, so that its ankle was broken,

and thereafter for some hours the Invisible Man passed out of human

perceptions. No one knows where he went nor what he did. But one

can imagine him hurrying through the hot June forenoon, up the

hill and on to the open downland behind Port Burdock, raging and

despairing at his intolerable fate, and sheltering at last, heated

and weary, amid the thickets of Hintondean, to piece together again

his shattered schemes against his species. That seems to most

probable refuge for him, for there it was he re-asserted himself in

a grimly tragical manner about two in the afternoon.

 

One wonders what his state of mind may have been during that time,

and what plans he devised. No doubt he was almost ecstatically

exasperated by Kemp’s treachery, and though we may be able to

understand the motives that led to that deceit, we may still

imagine and even sympathise a little with the fury the attempted

surprise must have occasioned. Perhaps something of the stunned

astonishment of his Oxford Street experiences may have returned to

him, for he had evidently counted on Kemp’s co-operation in his

brutal dream of a terrorised world. At any rate he vanished from

human ken about midday, and no living witness can tell what he did

until about half-past two. It was a fortunate thing, perhaps, for

humanity, but for him it was a fatal inaction.

 

During that time a growing multitude of men scattered over the

countryside were busy. In the morning he had still been simply a

legend, a terror; in the afternoon, by virtue chiefly of Kemp’s

drily worded proclamation, he was presented as a tangible

antagonist, to be wounded, captured, or overcome, and the

countryside began organising itself with inconceivable rapidity.

By two o’clock even he might still have removed himself out of

the district by getting aboard a train, but after two that became

impossible. Every passenger train along the lines on a great

parallelogram between Southampton, Manchester, Brighton and Horsham,

travelled with locked doors, and the goods traffic was almost

entirely suspended. And in a great circle of twenty miles round Port

Burdock, men armed with guns and bludgeons were presently setting

out in groups of three and four, with dogs, to beat the roads and

fields.

 

Mounted policemen rode along the country lanes, stopping at every

cottage and warning the people to lock up their houses, and keep

indoors unless they were armed, and all the elementary schools had

broken up by three o’clock, and the children, scared and keeping

together in groups, were hurrying home. Kemp’s proclamation—signed

indeed by Adye—was posted over almost the whole district by four or

five o’clock in the afternoon. It gave briefly but clearly all the

conditions of the struggle, the necessity of keeping the Invisible

Man from food and sleep, the necessity for incessant watchfulness

and for a prompt attention to any evidence of his movements. And

so swift and decided was the action of the authorities, so prompt

and universal was the belief in this strange being, that before

nightfall an area of several hundred square miles was in a stringent

state of siege. And before nightfall, too, a thrill of horror

went through the whole watching nervous countryside. Going from

whispering mouth to mouth, swift and certain over the length and

breadth of the country, passed the story of the murder of Mr.

Wicksteed.

 

If our supposition that the Invisible Man’s refuge was the

Hintondean thickets, then we must suppose that in the early

afternoon he sallied out again bent upon some project that involved

the use of a weapon. We cannot know what the project was, but the

evidence that he had the iron rod in hand before he met Wicksteed

is to me at least overwhelming.

 

Of course we can know nothing of the details of that encounter.

It occurred on the edge of a gravel pit, not two hundred yards

from Lord Burdock’s lodge gate. Everything points to a desperate

struggle—the trampled ground, the numerous wounds Mr. Wicksteed

received, his splintered walking-stick; but why the attack was made,

save in a murderous frenzy, it is impossible to imagine. Indeed the

theory of madness is almost unavoidable. Mr. Wicksteed was a man of

forty-five or forty-six, steward to Lord Burdock, of inoffensive

habits and appearance, the very last person in the world to provoke

such a terrible antagonist. Against him it would seem the Invisible

Man used an iron rod dragged from a broken piece of fence. He

stopped this quiet man, going quietly home to his midday meal,

attacked him, beat down his feeble defences, broke his arm, felled

him, and smashed his head to a jelly.

 

Of course, he must have dragged this rod out of the fencing before

he met his victim—he must have been carrying it ready in his hand.

Only two details beyond what has already been stated seem to bear

on the matter. One is the circumstance that the gravel pit was not

in Mr. Wicksteed’s direct path home, but nearly a couple of hundred

yards out of his way. The other is the assertion of a little girl

to the effect that, going to her afternoon school, she saw the

the gravel pit. Her pantomime of his action suggests a man pursuing

something on the ground before him and striking at it ever and

again with his walking-stick. She was the last person to see him

alive. He passed out of her sight to his death, the struggle being

hidden from her only by a clump of beech trees and a slight

depression in the ground.

 

Now this, to the present writer’s mind at least, lifts the murder

out of the realm of the absolutely wanton. We may imagine that

Griffin had taken the rod as a weapon indeed, but without any

deliberate intention of using it in murder. Wicksteed may then have

come by and noticed this rod inexplicably moving through the air.

Without any thought of the Invisible Man—for Port Burdock is ten

miles away—he may have pursued it. It is quite conceivable that

he may not even have heard of the Invisible Man. One can then

imagine the Invisible Man making off—quietly in order to avoid

discovering his presence in the neighbourhood, and Wicksteed,

excited and curious, pursuing this unaccountably locomotive

object—finally striking at it.

 

No doubt the Invisible Man could easily have distanced his

middle-aged pursuer under ordinary circumstances, but the position

in which Wicksteed’s body was found suggests that he had the

ill luck to drive his quarry into a corner between a drift of

stinging nettles and the gravel pit. To those who appreciate the

extraordinary irascibility of the Invisible Man, the rest of the

encounter will be easy to imagine.

 

But this is pure hypothesis. The only undeniable facts—for stories

of children are often unreliable—are the discovery of Wicksteed’s

body, done to death, and of the blood-stained iron rod flung among

the nettles. The abandonment of the rod by Griffin, suggests that

in the emotional excitement of the affair, the purpose for which

he took it—if he had a purpose—was abandoned. He was certainly

an intensely egotistical and unfeeling man, but the sight of his

victim, his first victim, bloody and pitiful at his feet, may have

released some long pent fountain of remorse which for a time may

have flooded whatever scheme of action he had contrived.

 

After the murder of Mr. Wicksteed, he would seem to have struck

across the country towards the downland. There is a story of a

voice heard about sunset by a couple of men in a field near Fern

Bottom. It was wailing and laughing, sobbing and groaning, and ever

and again it shouted. It must have been queer hearing. It drove up

across the middle of a clover field and died away towards the

hills.

 

That afternoon the Invisible Man must have learnt something of

the rapid use Kemp had made of his confidences. He must have

found houses locked and secured; he may have loitered about

railway stations and prowled about inns, and no doubt he read the

proclamations and realised something of the nature of the campaign

against him. And as the evening advanced, the fields became dotted

here and there with groups of three or four men, and noisy with the

yelping of dogs. These men-hunters had particular instructions in

the case of an encounter as to the way they should support one

another. But he avoided them all. We may understand something of

his exasperation, and it could have been none the less because

he himself had supplied the information that was being used so

remorselessly against him. For that day at least he lost heart; for

nearly twenty-four hours, save when he turned on Wicksteed, he was

a hunted man. In the night, he must have eaten and slept; for in

the morning he was himself again, active, powerful, angry, and

malignant, prepared for his last great struggle against the world.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXVII

 

THE SIEGE OF KEMP’S HOUSE

 

 

Kemp read a strange missive, written in pencil on a greasy sheet of

paper.

 

against me. For a whole day you have chased me; you have tried to

rob me of a night’s rest. But I have had food in spite of you, I

have slept in spite of you, and the game is only beginning. The

game is only beginning. There is nothing for it, but to start the

Terror. This announces the first day of the Terror. Port Burdock

is no longer under the Queen, tell your Colonel of Police, and

the rest of them; it is under me—the Terror! This is day one of

year one of the new epoch—the Epoch of the Invisible Man. I am

Invisible Man the First. To begin with the rule will be easy. The

first day there will be one execution for the sake of example—a

man named Kemp. Death starts for him to-day. He may lock himself

away, hide himself away, get guards about him, put on armour

if he likes—Death, the unseen Death, is coming. Let him take

precautions; it will impress my people. Death starts from the

pillar box by midday. The letter will fall in as the postman comes

along, then off! The game begins. Death starts. Help him not, my

 

 

He turned the folded sheet over and saw on the addressed side of it

 

He got up slowly, leaving his lunch unfinished—the letter had

come by the one o’clock post—and went into his study. He rang

for his housekeeper, and told her to go round the house at once,

examine all the fastenings of the windows, and close all the

shutters. He closed the shutters of his study himself. From a

locked drawer in his bedroom he took a little revolver, examined it

carefully, and put it into the pocket of his lounge jacket. He

wrote a number of brief notes, one to Colonel Adye, gave them to

his servant to take, with explicit instructions as to her way of

after doing this, and then returned to his cooling lunch.

 

He ate with gaps of thought. Finally he struck the table sharply.

 

He went up to the belvedere, carefully shutting every door after

all for me, Mr. Griffin, in spite of your invisibility. Griffin

 

food every day—and I don’t envy him. Did he really sleep last

night? Out in the open somewhere—secure from collisions. I wish

we could get some good cold wet weather instead of the heat.

 

 

He went close to the window. Something rapped smartly against the

brickwork over the frame, and made him start violently back.

 

 

Presently he heard the front-door bell ringing, and hurried

downstairs. He unbolted and unlocked the door, examined the chain,

put it up, and opened cautiously without showing himself. A

familiar voice hailed him. It was Adye.

 

 

 

 

Kemp released the chain, and Adye entered through as narrow an

opening as possible. He stood in the hall, looking with infinite

hand. Scared her horribly. She’s down at the station. Hysterics.

 

Kemp swore.

 

 

 

Adye the Invisible Man’s letter. Adye read it and whistled softly.

 

 

Adye followed Kemp’s profanity.

 

 

 

A resounding smash of glass came from upstairs. Adye had a silvery

second smash while they were still on the staircase. When they

reached the study they found two of the three windows smashed,

half the room littered with splintered glass, and one big flint

lying on the writing table. The two men stopped in the doorway,

contemplating the wreckage. Kemp swore again, and as he did so the

third window went with a snap like a pistol, hung starred for a

moment, and collapsed in jagged, shivering triangles into the room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smash, and then whack of boards hit hard came from downstairs.

bedrooms. He’s going to do all the house. But he’s a fool. The

shutters are up, and the glass will fall outside. He’ll cut his

 

Another window proclaimed its destruction. The two men stood on the

something, and I’ll go down to the station and get the bloodhounds

put on. That ought to settle him! They’re hard by—not ten

 

Another window went the way of its fellows.

 

 

 

 

Kemp, ashamed of his momentary lapse from truthfulness, handed him

the weapon.

 

 

As they stood hesitating in the hall, they heard one of the

first-floor bedroom windows crack and clash. Kemp went to the door

and began to slip the bolts as silently as possible. His face was a

another moment Adye was on the doorstep and the bolts were dropping

back into the staples. He hesitated for a moment, feeling more

comfortable with his back against the door. Then he marched, upright

and square, down the steps. He crossed the lawn and approached the

gate. A little breeze seemed to ripple over the grass. Something

and his hand tightened on the revolver.

 

 

and grim as Adye’s.

 

his tongue. The Voice was on his left front, he thought. Suppose he

were to take his luck with a shot?

 

movement of the two, and a flash of sunlight from the open lip of

Adye’s pocket.

 

his neck, his back felt a knee, and he was sprawling backward. He

drew clumsily and fired absurdly, and in another moment he was

struck in the mouth and the revolver wrested from his grip. He made

a vain clutch at a slippery limb, tried to struggle up and fell

mid-air, six feet off, covering him.

 

 

 

Adye stood up.

 

games. Remember I can see your face if you can’t see mine. You’ve

 

 

 

Adye moistened his lips again. He glanced away from the barrel of

the revolver and saw the sea far off very blue and dark under the

midday sun, the smooth green down, the white cliff of the Head, and

the multitudinous town, and suddenly he knew that life was very

sweet. His eyes came back to this little metal thing hanging

said sullenly.

 

 

 

 

Kemp had hurried upstairs after letting Adye out, and now crouching

among the broken glass and peering cautiously over the edge of the

study window sill, he saw Adye stand parleying with the Unseen.

moved a little and the glint of the sunlight flashed in Kemp’s

eyes. He shaded his eyes and tried to see the source of the

blinding beam.

 

 

 

 

Adye’s decision seemed suddenly made. He turned towards the house,

walking slowly with his hands behind him. Kemp watched him—puzzled.

The revolver vanished, flashed again into sight, vanished again,

and became evident on a closer scrutiny as a little dark object

following Adye. Then things happened very quickly. Adye leapt

backwards, swung around, clutched at this little object, missed it,

threw up his hands and fell forward on his face, leaving a little

puff of blue in the air. Kemp did not hear the sound of the shot.

Adye writhed, raised himself on one arm, fell forward, and lay

still.

 

For a space Kemp remained staring at the quiet carelessness of

Adye’s attitude. The afternoon was very hot and still, nothing

seemed stirring in all the world save a couple of yellow butterflies

chasing each other through the shrubbery between the house and the

road gate. Adye lay on the lawn near the gate. The blinds of all

the villas down the hill-road were drawn, but in one little green

summer-house was a white figure, apparently an old man asleep. Kemp

scrutinised the surroundings of the house for a glimpse of the

revolver, but it had vanished. His eyes came back to Adye. The game

was opening well.

 

Then came a ringing and knocking at the front door, that grew at

last tumultuous, but pursuant to Kemp’s instructions the servants

had locked themselves into their rooms. This was followed by a

silence. Kemp sat listening and then began peering cautiously out

of the three windows, one after another. He went to the staircase

head and stood listening uneasily. He armed himself with his

bedroom poker, and went to examine the interior fastenings of the

ground-floor windows again. Everything was safe and quiet. He

returned to the belvedere. Adye lay motionless over the edge of the

gravel just as he had fallen. Coming along the road by the villas

were the housemaid and two policemen.

 

Everything was deadly still. The three people seemed very slow in

approaching. He wondered what his antagonist was doing.

 

He started. There was a smash from below. He hesitated and went

downstairs again. Suddenly the house resounded with heavy blows and

the splintering of wood. He heard a smash and the destructive clang

of the iron fastenings of the shutters. He turned the key and

opened the kitchen door. As he did so, the shutters, split and

splintering, came flying inward. He stood aghast. The window frame,

save for one crossbar, was still intact, but only little teeth of

glass remained in the frame. The shutters had been driven in with

an axe, and now the axe was descending in sweeping blows upon the

window frame and the iron bars defending it. Then suddenly it leapt

aside and vanished. He saw the revolver lying on the path outside,

and then the little weapon sprang into the air. He dodged back. The

revolver cracked just too late, and a splinter from the edge of the

closing door flashed over his head. He slammed and locked the door,

and as he stood outside he heard Griffin shouting and laughing.

Then the blows of the axe with its splitting and smashing

consequences, were resumed.

 

Kemp stood in the passage trying to think. In a moment the

Invisible Man would be in the kitchen. This door would not keep him

a moment, and then—

 

A ringing came at the front door again. It would be the policemen.

He ran into the hall, put up the chain, and drew the bolts. He made

the girl speak before he dropped the chain, and the three people

blundered into the house in a heap, and Kemp slammed the door

again.

 

shots—left. He’s killed Adye. Shot him anyhow. Didn’t you see him on

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly the house was full of the Invisible Man’s resounding

blows on the kitchen door. The girl stared towards the kitchen,

shuddered, and retreated into the dining-room. Kemp tried to

explain in broken sentences. They heard the kitchen door give.

 

policemen into the dining-room doorway.

 

he had carried to the policeman and the dining-room one to the

other. He suddenly flung himself backward.

 

The pistol snapped its penultimate shot and ripped a valuable Sidney

Cooper. The second policeman brought his poker down on the little

weapon, as one might knock down a wasp, and sent it rattling to the

floor.

 

At the first clash the girl screamed, stood screaming for a moment

by the fireplace, and then ran to open the shutters—possibly

with an idea of escaping by the shattered window.

 

The axe receded into the passage, and fell to a position about two

feet from the ground. They could hear the Invisible Man breathing.

 

forward and wiping with his poker at the Voice. The Invisible Man

must have started back, and he blundered into the umbrella stand.

 

Then, as the policeman staggered with the swing of the blow he had

aimed, the Invisible Man countered with the axe, the helmet crumpled

like paper, and the blow sent the man spinning to the floor at the

head of the kitchen stairs. But the second policeman, aiming behind

the axe with his poker, hit something soft that snapped. There was a

sharp exclamation of pain and then the axe fell to the ground. The

policeman wiped again at vacancy and hit nothing; he put his foot on

the axe, and struck again. Then he stood, poker clubbed, listening

intent for the slightest movement.

 

He heard the dining-room window open, and a quick rush of feet

within. His companion rolled over and sat up, with the blood

on the floor.

 

 

Pause.

 

 

The second policeman began struggling to his feet. He stood up.

Suddenly the faint pad of bare feet on the kitchen stairs could be

his poker. It smashed a little gas bracket.

 

He made as if he would pursue the Invisible Man downstairs. Then he

thought better of it and stepped into the dining-room.

 

 

shoulder.

 

The dining-room window was wide open, and neither housemaid nor

Kemp was to be seen.

 

The second policeman’s opinion of Kemp was terse and vivid.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XXVIII

 

THE HUNTER HUNTED

 

 

Mr. Heelas, Mr. Kemp’s nearest neighbour among the villa holders,

was asleep in his summer house when the siege of Kemp’s house

began. Mr. Heelas was one of the sturdy minority who refused to

however, as he was subsequently to be reminded, did. He insisted

upon walking about his garden just as if nothing was the matter,

and he went to sleep in the afternoon in accordance with the custom

of years. He slept through the smashing of the windows, and then

woke up suddenly with a curious persuasion of something wrong. He

looked across at Kemp’s house, rubbed his eyes and looked again.

Then he put his feet to the ground, and sat listening. He said he

was damned, but still the strange thing was visible. The house

looked as though it had been deserted for weeks—after a violent

riot. Every window was broken, and every window, save those of the

belvedere study, was blinded by the internal shutters.

 

 

He became aware of a measured concussion and the clash of glass,

far away in the distance. And then, as he sat open-mouthed, came a

still more wonderful thing. The shutters of the drawing-room window

were flung open violently, and the housemaid in her outdoor hat and

garments, appeared struggling in a frantic manner to throw up the

sash. Suddenly a man appeared beside her, helping her—Dr. Kemp!

In another moment the window was open, and the housemaid was

struggling out; she pitched forward and vanished among the shrubs.

Mr. Heelas stood up, exclaiming vaguely and vehemently at all these

wonderful things. He saw Kemp stand on the sill, spring from the

window, and reappear almost instantaneously running along a path in

the shrubbery and stooping as he ran, like a man who evades

observation. He vanished behind a laburnum, and appeared again

clambering over a fence that abutted on the open down. In a second

he had tumbled over and was running at a tremendous pace down the

slope towards Mr. Heelas.

 

 

With Mr. Heelas to think things like that was to act, and his cook

watching him from the top window was amazed to see him come pelting

towards the house at a good nine miles an hour. There was a

slamming of doors, a ringing of bells, and the voice of Mr. Heelas

full of screams and directions, and scurrying feet. He ran himself

to shut the French windows that opened on the veranda; as he did so

Kemp’s head and shoulders and knee appeared over the edge of the

garden fence. In another moment Kemp had ploughed through the

asparagus, and was running across the tennis lawn to the house.

 

 

Kemp appeared with a face of terror close to the glass, rapping and

then shaking frantically at the French window. Then, seeing his

efforts were useless, he ran along the veranda, vaulted the end,

and went to hammer at the side door. Then he ran round by the side

gate to the front of the house, and so into the hill-road. And Mr.

Heelas staring from his window—a face of horror—had scarcely

witnessed Kemp vanish, ere the asparagus was being trampled this

way and that by feet unseen. At that Mr. Heelas fled precipitately

upstairs, and the rest of the chase is beyond his purview. But as

he passed the staircase window, he heard the side gate slam.

 

Emerging into the hill-road, Kemp naturally took the downward

direction, and so it was he came to run in his own person the very

race he had watched with such a critical eye from the belvedere

study only four days ago. He ran it well, for a man out of

training, and though his face was white and wet, his wits were cool

to the last. He ran with wide strides, and wherever a patch of

rough ground intervened, wherever there came a patch of raw flints,

or a bit of broken glass shone dazzling, he crossed it and left the

bare invisible feet that followed to take what line they would.

 

For the first time in his life Kemp discovered that the hill-road

was indescribably vast and desolate, and that the beginnings of the

town far below at the hill foot were strangely remote. Never had

there been a slower or more painful method of progression than

running. All the gaunt villas, sleeping in the afternoon sun,

looked locked and barred; no doubt they were locked and barred—by

his own orders. But at any rate they might have kept a lookout

for an eventuality like this! The town was rising up now, the sea

had dropped out of sight behind it, and people down below were

stirring. A tram was just arriving at the hill foot. Beyond that

was the police station. Was that footsteps he heard behind him?

Spurt.

 

The people below were staring at him, one or two were running, and

his breath was beginning to saw in his throat. The tram was quite

Beyond the tram were posts and heaps of gravel—the drainage

works. He had a transitory idea of jumping into the tram and

slamming the doors, and then he resolved to go for the police

human beings about him. The tram driver and his helper—arrested

by the sight of his furious haste—stood staring with the tram

horses unhitched. Further on the astonished features of navvies

appeared above the mounds of gravel.

 

His pace broke a little, and then he heard the swift pad of his

the navvies, with a vague indicative gesture, and by an inspiration

leapt the excavation and placed a burly group between him and the

chase. Then abandoning the idea of the police station he turned

into a little side street, rushed by a greengrocer’s cart,

hesitated for the tenth of a second at the door of a sweetstuff

shop, and then made for the mouth of an alley that ran back into

the main Hill Street again. Two or three little children were

playing here, and shrieked and scattered at his apparition, and

forthwith doors and windows opened and excited mothers revealed

their hearts. Out he shot into Hill Street again, three hundred

yards from the tram-line end, and immediately he became aware of a

tumultuous vociferation and running people.

 

He glanced up the street towards the hill. Hardly a dozen yards off

ran a huge navvy, cursing in fragments and slashing viciously with

a spade, and hard behind him came the tram conductor with his fists

clenched. Up the street others followed these two, striking and

shouting. Down towards the town, men and women were running, and he

noticed clearly one man coming out of a shop-door with a stick in

grasped the altered condition of the chase. He stopped, and looked

 

He was hit hard under the ear, and went reeling, trying to face

round towards his unseen antagonist. He just managed to keep his

feet, and he struck a vain counter in the air. Then he was hit

again under the jaw, and sprawled headlong on the ground. In

another moment a knee compressed his diaphragm, and a couple of

eager hands gripped his throat, but the grip of one was weaker than

the other; he grasped the wrists, heard a cry of pain from his

assailant, and then the spade of the navvy came whirling through

the air above him, and struck something with a dull thud. He felt

a drop of moisture on his face. The grip at his throat suddenly

relaxed, and with a convulsive effort, Kemp loosed himself, grasped

a limp shoulder, and rolled uppermost. He gripped the unseen elbows

 

In another second there was a simultaneous rush upon the struggle,

and a stranger coming into the road suddenly might have thought an

exceptionally savage game of Rugby football was in progress. And

there was no shouting after Kemp’s cry—only a sound of blows

and feet and heavy breathing.

 

Then came a mighty effort, and the Invisible Man threw off a couple

of his antagonists and rose to his knees. Kemp clung to him in

front like a hound to a stag, and a dozen hands gripped, clutched,

and tore at the Unseen. The tram conductor suddenly got the neck

and shoulders and lugged him back.

 

Down went the heap of struggling men again and rolled over. There

was, I am afraid, some savage kicking. Then suddenly a wild scream

 

 

There was a brief struggle to clear a space, and then the circle of

eager faces saw the doctor kneeling, as it seemed, fifteen inches

in the air, and holding invisible arms to the ground. Behind him a

constable gripped invisible ankles.

 

 

spoke thickly because of a bleeding lip. He released one hand and

 

He stood up abruptly and then knelt down on the ground by the side

of the thing unseen. There was a pushing and shuffling, a sound of

heavy feet as fresh people turned up to increase the pressure of

the crowd. People now were coming out of the houses. The doors of

 

 

Suddenly an old woman, peering under the arm of the big navvy,

wrinkled finger.

 

And looking where she pointed, everyone saw, faint and transparent

as though it was made of glass, so that veins and arteries and

bones and nerves could be distinguished, the outline of a hand, a

hand limp and prone. It grew clouded and opaque even as they stared.

 

 

And so, slowly, beginning at his hands and feet and creeping along

his limbs to the vital centres of his body, that strange change

continued. It was like the slow spreading of a poison. First came

the little white nerves, a hazy grey sketch of a limb, then the

glassy bones and intricate arteries, then the flesh and skin, first

a faint fogginess, and then growing rapidly dense and opaque.

Presently they could see his crushed chest and his shoulders, and

the dim outline of his drawn and battered features.

 

When at last the crowd made way for Kemp to stand erect, there lay,

naked and pitiful on the ground, the bruised and broken body of a

young man about thirty. His hair and brow were white—not grey

with age, but white with the whiteness of albinism—and his eyes

were like garnets. His hands were clenched, his eyes wide open, and

his expression was one of anger and dismay.

 

and three little children, pushing forward through the crowd, were

suddenly twisted round and sent packing off again.

 

covered him, they carried him into that house. And there it was, on

a shabby bed in a tawdry, ill-lighted bedroom, surrounded by a crowd

of ignorant and excited people, broken and wounded, betrayed and

unpitied, that Griffin, the first of all men to make himself

invisible, Griffin, the most gifted physicist the world has ever

seen, ended in infinite disaster his strange and terrible career.

 

 

 

THE EPILOGUE

 

 

So ends the story of the strange and evil experiments of the

Invisible Man. And if you would learn more of him you must go to a

little inn near Port Stowe and talk to the landlord. The sign of

the inn is an empty board save for a hat and boots, and the name is

the title of this story. The landlord is a short and corpulent

little man with a nose of cylindrical proportions, wiry hair, and a

sporadic rosiness of visage. Drink generously, and he will tell you

generously of all the things that happened to him after that time,

and of how the lawyers tried to do him out of the treasure found

upon him.

 

treasure trove! Do I _look_ like a Treasure Trove? And then a

gentleman gave me a guinea a night to tell the story at the Empire

 

And if you want to cut off the flow of his reminiscences abruptly,

you can always do so by asking if there weren’t three manuscript

books in the story. He admits there were and proceeds to explain,

with asseverations that everybody thinks _he_ has ’em! But bless you!

I cut and ran for Port Stowe. It’s that Mr. Kemp put people on with

 

And then he subsides into a pensive state, watches you furtively,

bustles nervously with glasses, and presently leaves the bar.

 

He is a bachelor man—his tastes were ever bachelor, and there

are no women folk in the house. Outwardly he buttons—it is

expected of him—but in his more vital privacies, in the matter

of braces for example, he still turns to string. He conducts his

house without enterprise, but with eminent decorum. His movements

are slow, and he is a great thinker. But he has a reputation for

wisdom and for a respectable parsimony in the village, and his

knowledge of the roads of the South of England would beat Cobbett.

 

And on Sunday mornings, every Sunday morning, all the year round,

while he is closed to the outer world, and every night after ten,

he goes into his bar parlour, bearing a glass of gin faintly tinged

with water, and having placed this down, he locks the door and

examines the blinds, and even looks under the table. And then,

being satisfied of his solitude, he unlocks the cupboard and a box

in the cupboard and a drawer in that box, and produces three

volumes bound in brown leather, and places them solemnly in the

middle of the table. The covers are weather-worn and tinged with an

algal green—for once they sojourned in a ditch and some of the

pages have been washed blank by dirty water. The landlord sits down

in an armchair, fills a long clay pipe slowly—gloating over the

books the while. Then he pulls one towards him and opens it, and

begins to study it—turning over the leaves backwards and forwards.

 

in the air, cross and a fiddle-de-dee. Lord! what a one he was for

 

Presently he relaxes and leans back, and blinks through his smoke

 

 

pipe.

 

So he lapses into a dream, the undying wonderful dream of his life.

And though Kemp has fished unceasingly, no human being save the

landlord knows those books are there, with the subtle secret of

invisibility and a dozen other strange secrets written therein.

And none other will know of them until he dies.

 

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