IN THE “COACH AND HORSES”
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 almost at once
on three big books in manuscript labelled “Diary.”
“Diary!” said Cuss, putting the three books on the table. “Now, at any
rate, we shall learn something.” The Vicar stood with his hands on the
“Diary,” repeated Cuss, sitting down, putting two volumes to support
the third, and opening it. “H’m—no name on the fly-leaf.
Bother!—cypher. And figures.”
The vicar came round to look over his shoulder.
Cuss turned the pages over with a face suddenly disappointed. “I’m—dear
me! It’s all cypher, Bunting.”
“There are no diagrams?” asked Mr. Bunting. “No illustrations throwing
“See for yourself,” said Mr. Cuss. “Some of it’s mathematical and some
of it’s Russian or some such language (to judge by the letters), and
some of it’s Greek. Now the Greek I thought _you_—”
“Of course,” said Mr. Bunting, taking out and wiping his spectacles and
feeling suddenly very uncomfortable—for he had no Greek left in his
mind worth talking about; “yes—the Greek, of course, may furnish a
“I’ll find you a place.”
“I’d rather glance through the volumes first,” said Mr. Bunting, still
wiping. “A general impression first, Cuss, and _then_, you know, we can
go looking for clues.”
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 to
see a sporadically rosy face beneath a furry silk hat. “Tap?” asked the
face, and stood staring.
“No,” said both gentlemen at once.
“Over the other side, my man,” said Mr. Bunting. And “Please shut that
door,” said Mr. Cuss, irritably.
“All right,” said the intruder, as it seemed in a low voice curiously
different from the huskiness of its first inquiry. “Right you are,”
said the intruder in the former voice. “Stand clear!” and he vanished
and closed the door.
“A sailor, I should judge,” said Mr. Bunting. “Amusing fellows, they
are. Stand clear! indeed. A nautical term, referring to his getting
back out of the room, I suppose.”
“I daresay so,” said Cuss. “My nerves are all loose to-day. It quite
made me jump—the door opening like that.”
Mr. Bunting smiled as if he had not jumped. “And now,” he said with a
sigh, “these books.”
Someone sniffed as he did so.
“One thing is indisputable,” said Bunting, drawing up a chair next to
that of Cuss. “There certainly have been very strange things happen in
Iping during the last few days—very strange. I cannot of course believe
in this absurd invisibility story—”
“It’s incredible,” said Cuss—“incredible. But the fact remains that I
saw—I certainly saw right down his sleeve—”
“But did you—are you sure? Suppose a mirror, for instance—
hallucinations are so easily produced. I don’t know if you have ever
seen a really good conjuror—”
“I won’t argue again,” said Cuss. “We’ve thrashed that out, Bunting.
And just now there’s these books—Ah! here’s some of what I take to be
Greek! Greek letters certainly.”
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 the table. “Don’t move,
little men,” whispered a voice, “or I’ll brain you both!” He looked
into the face of Cuss, close to his own, and each saw a horrified
reflection of his own sickly astonishment.
“I’m sorry to handle you so roughly,” said the Voice, “but it’s
“Since when did you learn to pry into an investigator’s private
memoranda,” said the Voice; and two chins struck the table
simultaneously, and two sets of teeth rattled.
“Since when did you learn to invade the private rooms of a man in
misfortune?” and the concussion was repeated.
“Where have they put my clothes?”
“Listen,” said the Voice. “The windows are fastened and I’ve taken 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 promise not to try any
nonsense and do what I tell you?”
The vicar and the doctor looked at one another, and the doctor pulled a
face. “Yes,” said Mr. Bunting, and the doctor repeated it. 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.
“Please keep sitting where you are,” said the Invisible Man. “Here’s
the poker, you see.”
“When I came into this room,” continued the Invisible Man, after
presenting the poker to the tip of the nose of each of his visitors, “I
did not expect to find it occupied, and I expected to find, in 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 other accommodation; and I must
also have those three books.”
See you tomorrow for CHAPTER XII: THE INVISIBLE MAN LOSES HIS TEMPER