THE PLAN THAT FAILED
“But now,” said Kemp, with a side glance out of the window, “what are
we to do?”
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.
“What were you planning to do when you were heading for Port Burdock?
Had you any plan?”
“I was going to clear out of the country. But I have altered that 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 books and things sent over to meet me.”
“And then the filthy brute must needs try and rob me! He has hidden
my books, Kemp. Hidden my books! If I can lay my hands on him!”
“Best plan to get the books out of him first.”
“But where is he? Do you know?”
“He’s in the town police station, locked up, by his own request, in the
strongest cell in the place.”
“Cur!” said the Invisible Man.
“But that hangs up your plans a little.”
“We must get those books; those books are vital.”
“Certainly,” said Kemp, a little nervously, wondering if he heard
footsteps outside. “Certainly we must get those books. But that won’t
be difficult, if he doesn’t know they’re for you.”
“No,” said the Invisible Man, and thought.
Kemp tried to think of something to keep the talk going, but the
Invisible Man resumed of his own accord.
“Blundering into your house, Kemp,” he said, “changes all my plans. 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 possibilities—”
“You have told no one I am here?” he asked abruptly.
Kemp hesitated. “That was implied,” he said.
“No one?” insisted Griffin.
“Not a soul.”
“Ah! Now—” The Invisible Man stood up, and sticking his arms akimbo
began to pace the study.
“I made a mistake, Kemp, a huge mistake, in carrying this thing 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.
“What I want, Kemp, is a goal-keeper, a helper, and a hiding-place, 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.
“Hitherto I have gone on vague lines. We have to consider all that
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 as I like. Dodge as I
like. Escape as I like.”
Kemp’s hand went to his moustache. Was that a movement downstairs?
“And it is killing we must do, Kemp.”
“It is killing we must do,” repeated Kemp. “I’m listening to your plan,
Griffin, but I’m not agreeing, mind. Why killing?”
“Not wanton killing, but a judicious slaying. The point is, they 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 all who would defend them.”
“Humph!” said Kemp, no longer listening to Griffin but to the sound of
his front door opening and closing.
“It seems to me, Griffin,” he said, to cover his wandering attention,
“that your confederate would be in a difficult position.”
“No one would know he was a confederate,” said the Invisible Man,
eagerly. And then suddenly, “Hush! What’s that downstairs?”
“Nothing,” said Kemp, and suddenly began to speak loud and fast. “I
don’t agree to this, Griffin,” he said. “Understand me, I don’t 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 confidence. Think what you
might do with a million helpers—”
The Invisible Man interrupted—arm extended. “There are footsteps coming
upstairs,” he said in a low voice.
“Nonsense,” said Kemp.
“Let me see,” said the Invisible Man, and advanced, arm extended, to
And then things happened very swiftly. Kemp hesitated for a second and
then moved to intercept him. The Invisible Man started and stood still.
“Traitor!” cried the Voice, and suddenly the dressing-gown 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
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
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
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.
“My God!” cried Kemp, “the game’s up! He’s gone!”
See you tomorrow for CHAPTER XXV: THE HUNTING OF THE INVISIBLE MAN