The Invisible Man HTML version

Mr. Marvel's Visit to Iping
After the first gusty panic had spent itself Iping became argumentative. Scepticism
suddenly reared its head -- rather nervous scepticism, not at all assured of its back, but
scepticism nevertheless. It is so much easier not to believe in an invisible man; and those
who had actually seen him dissolve into air, or felt the strength of his arm, could be
counted on the fingers of two hands. And of these witnesses Mr. Wadgers was presently
missing, having retired impregnably behind the bolts and bars of his own house, and
Jaffers was lying stunned in the parlour of the Coach and Horses. Great and strange ideas
transcending experience often have less effect upon men and women than smaller, more
tangible considerations. Iping was gay with bunting, and everybody was in gala dress.
Whit-Monday had been looked forward to for a month or more. By the afternoon even
those who believed in the Unseen were beginning to resume their little amusements in a
tentative fashion, on the supposition that he had quite gone away, and with the sceptics he
was already a jest. But people, sceptics and believers alike, were remarkably sociable all
that day.
Haysman's meadow was gay with a tent, in which Mrs. Bunting and other ladies were
preparing tea, while, without, the Sunday-school children ran races and played games
under the noisy guidance of the curate and the Misses Cuss and Sackbut. No doubt there
was a slight uneasiness in the air, but people for the most part had the sense to conceal
whatever imaginative qualms they experienced. On the village green an inclined strong,
down which, clinging the while to a pulley-swung handle, one could be hurled violently
against a sack at the other end, came in for considerable favour among the adolescent, as
also did the swings and the cocoanut shies. There was also promenading, and the steam
organ attached to the swings filled the air with a pungent flavour of oil and with equally
pungent music. Members of the Club, who had attended church in the morning, were
splendid in badges of pink and green, and some of the gayer-minded had also adorned
their bowler hats with brilliant-colored favours of ribbon. Old Fletcher, whose
conceptions of holiday-making were severe, was visible through the jasmine about his
window or through the open door (whichever way you chose to look), poised delicately
on a plank supported on two chairs, and whitewashing the ceiling of his front room.
About four o'clock a stranger entered the village from the direction of the downs. He
was a short, stout person in an extraordinarily shabby top hat, and he appeared to be very
much out of breath. His cheeks were alternately limp and tightly puffed. His mottled face
was apprehensive, and he moved with a sort of reluctant alacrity. He turned the corner of
the church, and directed his way to the Coach and Horses. Among others old Fletcher
remembers seeing him, and indeed the old gentleman was so struck by his peculiar
agitation that he inadvertently allowed a quantity of whitewash to run down the brush
into the sleeve of his coat while regarding him.
This stranger, to the perceptions of the proprietor of the cocoanut shy, appeared to be
talking to himself, and Mr. Huxter remarked the same thing. He stopped at the foot of the
Coach and Horses steps, and, according to Mr. Huxter, appeared to undergo a severe