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Produced by Andrew Sly





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
XI In the "Coach and Horses"
XII The invisible Man loses his Temper
XIII Mr. Marvel discusses his Resignation
XIV At Port Stowe
XV The Man who was running
XVI In the "Jolly Cricketers"
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
the burden he carried. He staggered into the "Coach and Horses" more
dead than alive, and flung his portmanteau down. "A fire," he cried,
"in the name of human charity! A room and a fire!" He stamped and
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
was no "haggler," and she was resolved to show herself worthy of her
good fortune. As soon as the bacon was well under way, and Millie,
her lymphatic maid, 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
his shoulders dripped upon her carpet. "Can I take your hat and coat,
sir?" she said, "and give them a good dry in the kitchen?"

"No," he said without turning.

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

He turned his head and looked at her over his shoulder. "I prefer to
keep them on," he said with emphasis, and she noticed that he wore
big blue spectacles with sidelights, and had a bush side-whisker
over his coat-collar that completely hid his cheeks and face.

"Very well, sir," she said. "_As_ you like. In a bit the room will
be warmer."

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
rather than said to him, "Your lunch is served, sir."

"Thank you," he said at the same time, and did not stir until she
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
spoon being rapidly whisked round a basin. "That girl!" she said.
"There! I clean forgot it. It's her being so long!" And while she
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
steel fender. She went to these things resolutely. "I suppose I may
have them to dry now," she said in a voice that brooked no denial.

"Leave the hat," said her visitor, in a muffled voice, and turning
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
inscrutable blue glasses. "Leave the hat," he said, speaking very
distinctly through the white cloth.

Her nerves began to recover from the shock they had received. She
placed the hat on the chair again by the fire. "I didn't know, sir,"
she began, "that - " and she stopped embarrassed.

"Thank you," he said drily, glancing from her to the door and then
at her again.

"I'll have them nicely dried, sir, at once," she said, and carried
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
and perplexity. "I _never_," she whispered. "There!" She went quite
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.

"The poor soul's had an accident or an op'ration or somethin'," said
Mrs. Hall. "What a turn them bandages did give me, to be sure!"

She put on some more coal, unfolded the clothes-horse, and extended
the traveller's coat upon this. "And they goggles! Why, he looked
more like a divin' helmet than a human man!" She hung his muffler
on a corner of the horse. "And holding that handkerchief over his
mouth all the time. Talkin' through it! ... Perhaps his mouth was
hurt too - maybe."

She turned round, as one who suddenly remembers. "Bless my soul
alive!" she said, going off at a tangent; "ain't you done them
taters _yet_, Millie?"

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.

"I have some luggage," he said, "at Bramblehurst station," and he
asked her how he could have it sent. He bowed his bandaged head
quite politely in acknowledgment of her explanation. "To-morrow?" he
said. "There is no speedier delivery?" and seemed quite disappointed
when she answered, "No." Was she quite sure? No man with a trap who
would go over?

Mrs. Hall, nothing loath, answered his questions and developed a
conversation. "It's a steep road by the down, sir," she said in
answer to the question about a trap; and then, snatching at an
opening, said, "It was there a carriage was upsettled, a year ago
and more. A gentleman killed, besides his coachman. Accidents, sir,
happen in a moment, don't they?"

But the visitor was not to be drawn so easily. "They do," he said
through his muffler, eyeing her quietly through his impenetrable
glasses.

"But they take long enough to get well, don't they? ... There was
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,
sir."

"I can quite understand that," said the visitor.

"He was afraid, one time, that he'd have to have an op'ration - he
was that bad, sir."

The visitor laughed abruptly, a bark of a laugh that he seemed to
bite and kill in his mouth. "_Was_ he?" he said.

"He was, sir. And no laughing matter to them as had the doing for
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
if I may make so bold as to say it, sir - "

"Will you get me some matches?" said the visitor, quite abruptly.
"My pipe is out."

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.

"Thanks," he said concisely, as she put them down, and turned his
shoulder upon her and stared out of the window again. It was
altogether too discouraging. Evidently he was sensitive on the
topic of operations and bandages. She did not "make so bold as to
say," however, after all. But his snubbing way had irritated her,
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
tea, Teddy Henfrey, the clock-jobber, came into the bar. "My sakes!
Mrs. Hall," said he, "but this is terrible weather for thin boots!"
The snow outside was falling faster.

Mrs. Hall agreed, and then noticed he had his bag with him. "Now
you're here, Mr. Teddy," said she, "I'd be glad if you'd give th'
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
six."

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.

"Would you mind, sir, this man a-coming to look at the clock, sir?"
she said, recovering from the momentary shock.

"Look at the clock?" he said, staring round in a drowsy manner,
and speaking over his hand, and then, getting more fully awake,
"certainly."

Mrs. Hall went away to get a lamp, and he rose and stretched
himself. Then came the light, and Mr. Teddy Henfrey, entering, was
confronted by this bandaged person. He was, he says, "taken aback."

"Good afternoon," said the stranger, regarding him - as Mr. Henfrey
says, with a vivid sense of the dark spectacles - "like a lobster."

"I hope," said Mr. Henfrey, "that it's no intrusion."

"None whatever," said the stranger. "Though, I understand," he said
turning to Mrs. Hall, "that this room is really to be mine for my
own private use."

"I thought, sir," said Mrs. Hall, "you'd prefer the clock - "

"Certainly," said the stranger, "certainly - but, as a rule, I
like to be alone and undisturbed.

"But I'm really glad to have the clock seen to," he said, seeing a
certain hesitation in Mr. Henfrey's manner. "Very glad." Mr. Henfrey
had intended to apologise and withdraw, but this anticipation
reassured him. The stranger turned round with his back to the
fireplace and put his hands behind his back. "And presently," he
said, "when the clock-mending is over, I think I should like to
have some tea. But not till the clock-mending is over."

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
bring them over on the morrow. "You are certain that is the
earliest?" he said.

She was certain, with a marked coldness.

"I should explain," he added, "what I was really too cold and
fatigued to do before, that I am an experimental investigator."

"Indeed, sir," said Mrs. Hall, much impressed.

"And my baggage contains apparatus and appliances."

"Very useful things indeed they are, sir," said Mrs. Hall.

"And I'm very naturally anxious to get on with my inquiries."

"Of course, sir."

"My reason for coming to Iping," he proceeded, with a certain
deliberation of manner, "was ... a desire for solitude. I do not
wish to be disturbed in my work. In addition to my work, an
accident - "

"I thought as much," said Mrs. Hall to herself.

" - necessitates a certain retirement. My eyes - are sometimes so
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
annoyance to me - it is well these things should be understood."

"Certainly, sir," said Mrs. Hall. "And if I might make so bold as
to ask - "

"That I think, is all," said the stranger, with that quietly
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?

He looked up as if to take aim with that introductory shot. "The
weather - " he began.

"Why don't you finish and go?" said the rigid figure, evidently in
a state of painfully suppressed rage. "All you've got to do is to
fix the hour-hand on its axle. You're simply humbugging - "

"Certainly, sir - one minute more. I overlooked - " and Mr. Henfrey
finished and went.

But he went feeling excessively annoyed. "Damn it!" said Mr. Henfrey
to himself, trudging down the village through the thawing snow; "a
man must do a clock at times, surely."

And again, "Can't a man look at you? - Ugly!"

And yet again, "Seemingly not. If the police was wanting you you
couldn't be more wropped and bandaged."

At Gleeson's corner he saw Hall, who had recently married the
stranger's hostess at the "Coach and Horses," and who now drove
the Iping conveyance, when occasional people required it, to
Sidderbridge Junction, coming towards him on his return from that
place. Hall had evidently been "stopping a bit" at Sidderbridge,
to judge by his driving. "'Ow do, Teddy?" he said, passing.

"You got a rum un up home!" said Teddy.

Hall very sociably pulled up. "What's that?" he asked.

"Rum-looking customer stopping at the 'Coach and Horses,'" said
Teddy. "My sakes!"

And he proceeded to give Hall a vivid description of his grotesque
guest. "Looks a bit like a disguise, don't it? I'd like to see a
man's face if I had him stopping in _my_ place," said Henfrey. "But
women are that trustful - where strangers are concerned. He's took
your rooms and he ain't even given a name, Hall."

"You don't say so!" said Hall, who was a man of sluggish apprehension.

"Yes," said Teddy. "By the week. Whatever he is, you can't get rid
of him under the week. And he's got a lot of luggage coming
to-morrow, so he says. Let's hope it won't be stones in boxes, Hall."

He told Hall how his aunt at Hastings had been swindled by a
stranger with empty portmanteaux. Altogether he left Hall vaguely
suspicious. "Get up, old girl," said Hall. "I s'pose I must see
'bout this."

Teddy trudged on his way with his mind considerably relieved.

Instead of "seeing 'bout it," however, Hall on his return was
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
discouragements. "You wim' don't know everything," said Mr. Hall,
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.

"You mind your own business, Hall," said Mrs. Hall, "and I'll mind
mine."

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 bring them in. Out he came,
not noticing Fearenside's dog, who was sniffing in a _dilettante_
spirit at Hall's legs. "Come along with those boxes," he said.
"I've been waiting long enough."

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
hand. "Whup!" cried Hall, jumping back, for he was no hero with
dogs, and Fearenside howled, "Lie down!" and snatched his whip.

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.

"You brute, you!" said Fearenside, climbing off the waggon with his
whip in his hand, while the dog watched him through the wheel.
"Come here," said Fearenside - "You'd better."

Hall had stood gaping. "He wuz bit," said Hall. "I'd better go and
see to en," and he trotted after the stranger. He met Mrs. Hall in
the passage. "Carrier's darg," he said "bit en."

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


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