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The Invisible Man

20.
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. "You are tired," he said, "and while I sit, you walk
about. Have my chair."
He placed himself between Griffin and the nearest window.
For a space Griffin sat silent, and then he resumed abruptly: --
"I had left the Chesilstowe cottage already," he said, "when that 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.
"I remember walking back to the empty home, through the place that 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.
"I did not feel a bit sorry for my father. He seemed to me to be the victim of his own
foolish sentimentality. The current cant required my attendance at his funeral, but it was
really not my affair.
"But going along the High Street, my old life came back to me for a space, for I met
the girl I had known ten years since. Our eyes met.
"Something moved me to turn back and talk to her. She was a very ordinary person.
"It was all like a dream, that visit to the old places. I did not 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.
 
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