The Invisible Man HTML version
7. The Unveiling of the Stranger
The stranger went into the little parlour of the Coach and Horses about half-past five in
the morning, and there he remained until near midday, the blinds down, the door shut,
and none, after Hall's repulse, venturing near him.
All that time he must have fasted. Thrice he rang his bell, the third time furiously and
continuously, but no one answered him. "Him and his 'go to the devil' indeed!" said Mrs.
Hall. Presently came an imperfect rumour of the burglary at the vicarage, and two and
two were put together. Hall, assisted by Wadgers, went off to find Mr. Shuckleforth, the
magistrate, and take his advice. No one ventured upstairs. How the stranger occupied
himself is unknown. Now and then he would stride violently up and down, and twice
came an outburst of curses, a tearing of paper, and a violent smashing of bottles.
The little group of scared but curious people increased. Mrs. Huxter came over; some
gay young fellows resplendent in black ready-made jackets and pique paper ties, for it
was Whit-Monday, joined the group with confused interrogations. Young Archie Harker
distinguished himself by going up the yard and trying to peep under the window-blinds.
He could see nothing, but gave reason for supposing that he did, and others of the Iping
youth presently joined him.
It was the finest of all possible Whit-Mondays, and down the village street stood a row
of nearly a dozen booths, a shooting gallery, and on the grass by the forge were three
yellow and chocolate waggons and some picturesque strangers of both sexes putting up a
cocoa-nut shy. The gentlemen wore blue jerseys, the ladies white aprons and quite
fashionable hats with heavy plumes. Wodger, of the Purple Fawn, and Mr. Jaggers, the
cobbler, who also sold second-hand ordinary bicycles, were stretching a string of union-
jacks and royal ensigns (which had originally celebrated the jubilee) across the road....
And inside, in the artificial darkness of the parlour, into which only one thin jet of
sunlight penetrated, the stranger, hungry we must suppose, and fearful, hidden in his
uncomfortable hot wrappings, pored through his dark glasses upon his paper or chinked
his dirty little bottles, and occasionally swore savagely at the boys, audible if invisible,
outside the windows. In the corner by the fireplace lay the fragments of half a dozen
smashed bottles, and a pungent twang of chlorine tainted the air. So much we know from
what was heard at the time and from what was subsequently seen in the room.
About noon he suddenly opened his parlour door and stood glaring fixedly at the three
or four people in the bar. "Mrs. Hall," he said. Somebody went sheepishly and called for
Mrs. Hall appeared after an interval, a little short of breath, but all the fiercer for that.
Hall was still out. She had deliberated over this scene, and she came holding a little tray
with an unsettled bill upon it. "Is it your bill you're wanting, sir?" she said.