The Invisible Man Ch. 18 by H.G. Wells


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’m sorry,” said the Invisible Man, “if I cannot tell you all that 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 as though I
must sleep or perish.”

Kemp stood in the middle of the room staring at the headless garment.
“I suppose I must leave you,” he said. “It’s—incredible. Three things
happening like this, overturning all my preconceptions—would make me
insane. But it’s real! Is there anything more that I can get you?”

“Only bid me good-night,” said Griffin.

“Good-night,” said Kemp, and shook an invisible hand. He walked
sideways to the door. Suddenly the dressing-gown walked quickly towards
him. “Understand me!” said the dressing-gown. “No attempts to hamper
me, or capture me! Or—”

Kemp’s face changed a little. “I thought I gave you my word,” he 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 his hand. “Am I dreaming?
Has the world gone mad—or have I?”

He laughed, and put his hand to the locked door. “Barred out of my own
bedroom, by a flagrant absurdity!” he said.

He walked to the head of the staircase, turned, and stared at the
locked doors. “It’s fact,” he said. He put his fingers to his slightly
bruised neck. “Undeniable fact!


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.

“Invisible!” he said.

“Is there such a thing as an invisible animal? … In the sea, yes.
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!

“It can’t be.

“But after all—why not?

“If a man was made of glass he would still be visible.”

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, turned it over,
and read the account of a “Strange Story from Iping” that the mariner
at Port Stowe had spelt over so painfully to Mr. Marvel. Kemp read it

“Wrapped up!” said Kemp. “Disguised! Hiding it! ‘No one seems to have
been aware of his misfortune.’ What the devil _is_ his game?”

He dropped the paper, and his eye went seeking. “Ah!” he said, and
caught up the St. James’ Gazette, lying folded up as it arrived. “Now
we shall get at the truth,” said Dr. Kemp. He rent the paper open; a
couple of columns confronted him. “An Entire Village in Sussex goes
Mad” was the heading.

“Good Heavens!” said Kemp, reading eagerly an incredulous account 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

He re-read it. “Ran through the streets striking right and left.
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 fabrication. Too good not
to print—cum grano!”

He dropped the paper and stared blankly in front of him. “Probably a

He caught up the paper again, and re-read the whole business. “But when
does the Tramp come in? Why the deuce was he chasing a tramp?”

He sat down abruptly on the surgical bench. “He’s not only invisible,”
he said, “but he’s mad! Homicidal!”

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 gave Kemp the essence of the
happenings at the “Jolly Cricketers,” and the name of Marvel. “He has
made me keep with him twenty-four hours,” Marvel testified. Certain
minor facts were added to the 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
every one of the morning papers she could. These also he devoured.

“He is invisible!” he said. “And it reads like rage growing to mania!
The things he may do! The things he may do! And he’s upstairs free as
the air. What on earth ought I to do?”

“For instance, would it be a breach of faith if—? No.”

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
considered it. Then he took an envelope and addressed it to “Colonel
Adye, Port Burdock.”

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.


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