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Chapter 28 The Hunter Hunted

  • Mr. Heelas, Mr. Kemp's nearest neighbour among the villa holders, was aslee_n his summer house when the siege of Kemp's house began. Mr. Heelas was on_f the sturdy minority who refused to believe "in all this nonsense" about a_nvisible Man. His wife, however, as he was subsequently to be reminded, did.
  • He insisted upon walking about his garden just as if nothing was the matter,
  • and he went to sleep in the afternoon in accordance with the custom of years.
  • He slept through the smashing of the windows, and then woke up suddenly with _urious persuasion of something wrong. He looked across at Kemp's house,
  • rubbed his eyes and looked again. Then he put his feet to the ground, and sa_istening. He said he was damned, but still the strange thing was visible. Th_ouse looked as though it had been deserted for weeks—after a violent riot.
  • Every window was broken, and every window, save those of the belvedere study,
  • was blinded by the internal shutters.
  • "I could have sworn it was all right"—he looked at his watch—"twenty minute_go."
  • He became aware of a measured concussion and the clash of glass, far away i_he distance. And then, as he sat open-mouthed, came a still more wonderfu_hing. The shutters of the drawing-room window were flung open violently, an_he housemaid in her outdoor hat and garments, appeared struggling in _rantic manner to throw up the sash. Suddenly a man appeared beside her,
  • helping her—Dr. Kemp! In another moment the window was open, and the housemai_as struggling out; she pitched forward and vanished among the shrubs. Mr.
  • Heelas stood up, exclaiming vaguely and vehemently at all these wonderfu_hings. He saw Kemp stand on the sill, spring from the window, and reappea_lmost instantaneously running along a path in the shrubbery and stooping a_e ran, like a man who evades observation. He vanished behind a laburnum, an_ppeared again clambering over a fence that abutted on the open down. In _econd he had tumbled over and was running at a tremendous pace down the slop_owards Mr. Heelas.
  • "Lord!" cried Mr. Heelas, struck with an idea; "it's that Invisible Man brute!
  • It's right, after all!"
  • With Mr. Heelas to think things like that was to act, and his cook watchin_im from the top window was amazed to see him come pelting towards the hous_t a good nine miles an hour. There was a slamming of doors, a ringing o_ells, and the voice of Mr. Heelas bellowing like a bull. "Shut the doors,
  • shut the windows, shut everything!—the Invisible Man is coming!" Instantly th_ouse was full of screams and directions, and scurrying feet. He ran himsel_o shut the French windows that opened on the veranda; as he did so Kemp'_ead and shoulders and knee appeared over the edge of the garden fence. I_nother moment Kemp had ploughed through the asparagus, and was running acros_he tennis lawn to the house.
  • "You can't come in," said Mr. Heelas, shutting the bolts. "I'm very sorry i_e's after you, but you can't come in!"
  • Kemp appeared with a face of terror close to the glass, rapping and the_haking frantically at the French window. Then, seeing his efforts wer_seless, he ran along the veranda, vaulted the end, and went to hammer at th_ide door. Then he ran round by the side gate to the front of the house, an_o into the hill-road. And Mr. Heelas staring from his window—a face o_orror—had scarcely witnessed Kemp vanish, ere the asparagus was bein_rampled this way and that by feet unseen. At that Mr. Heelas fle_recipitately upstairs, and the rest of the chase is beyond his purview. Bu_s he passed the staircase window, he heard the side gate slam.
  • Emerging into the hill-road, Kemp naturally took the downward direction, an_o it was he came to run in his own person the very race he had watched wit_uch a critical eye from the belvedere study only four days ago. He ran i_ell, for a man out of training, and though his face was white and wet, hi_its were cool to the last. He ran with wide strides, and wherever a patch o_ough ground intervened, wherever there came a patch of raw flints, or a bi_f broken glass shone dazzling, he crossed it and left the bare invisible fee_hat followed to take what line they would.
  • For the first time in his life Kemp discovered that the hill-road wa_ndescribably vast and desolate, and that the beginnings of the town far belo_t the hill foot were strangely remote. Never had there been a slower or mor_ainful method of progression than running. All the gaunt villas, sleeping i_he afternoon sun, looked locked and barred; no doubt they were locked an_arred—by his own orders. But at any rate they might have kept a lookout fo_n eventuality like this! The town was rising up now, the sea had dropped ou_f sight behind it, and people down below were stirring. A tram was jus_rriving at the hill foot. Beyond that was the police station. Was tha_ootsteps he heard behind him? Spurt.
  • The people below were staring at him, one or two were running, and his breat_as beginning to saw in his throat. The tram was quite near now, and the
  • "Jolly Cricketers" was noisily barring its doors. Beyond the tram were post_nd heaps of gravel—the drainage works. He had a transitory idea of jumpin_nto the tram and slamming the doors, and then he resolved to go for th_olice station. In another moment he had passed the door of the "Joll_ricketers," and was in the blistering fag end of the street, with huma_eings about him. The tram driver and his helper—arrested by the sight of hi_urious haste—stood staring with the tram horses unhitched. Further on th_stonished features of navvies appeared above the mounds of gravel.
  • His pace broke a little, and then he heard the swift pad of his pursuer, an_eapt forward again. "The Invisible Man!" he cried to the navvies, with _ague indicative gesture, and by an inspiration leapt the excavation an_laced a burly group between him and the chase. Then abandoning the idea o_he police station he turned into a little side street, rushed by _reengrocer's cart, hesitated for the tenth of a second at the door of _weetstuff shop, and then made for the mouth of an alley that ran back int_he main Hill Street again. Two or three little children were playing here,
  • and shrieked and scattered at his apparition, and forthwith doors and window_pened and excited mothers revealed their hearts. Out he shot into Hill Stree_gain, three hundred yards from the tram-line end, and immediately he becam_ware of a tumultuous vociferation and running people.
  • He glanced up the street towards the hill. Hardly a dozen yards off ran a hug_avvy, cursing in fragments and slashing viciously with a spade, and har_ehind him came the tram conductor with his fists clenched. Up the stree_thers followed these two, striking and shouting. Down towards the town, me_nd women were running, and he noticed clearly one man coming out of a shop-
  • door with a stick in his hand. "Spread out! Spread out!" cried some one. Kem_uddenly grasped the altered condition of the chase. He stopped, and looke_ound, panting. "He's close here!" he cried. "Form a line across—"
  • He was hit hard under the ear, and went reeling, trying to face round toward_is unseen antagonist. He just managed to keep his feet, and he struck a vai_ounter in the air. Then he was hit again under the jaw, and sprawled headlon_n the ground. In another moment a knee compressed his diaphragm, and a coupl_f eager hands gripped his throat, but the grip of one was weaker than th_ther; he grasped the wrists, heard a cry of pain from his assailant, and the_he spade of the navvy came whirling through the air above him, and struc_omething with a dull thud. He felt a drop of moisture on his face. The gri_t his throat suddenly relaxed, and with a convulsive effort, Kemp loose_imself, grasped a limp shoulder, and rolled uppermost. He gripped the unsee_lbows near the ground. "I've got him!" screamed Kemp. "Help! Help—hold! He'_own! Hold his feet!"
  • In another second there was a simultaneous rush upon the struggle, and _tranger coming into the road suddenly might have thought an exceptionall_avage game of Rugby football was in progress. And there was no shouting afte_emp's cry—only a sound of blows and feet and heavy breathing.
  • Then came a mighty effort, and the Invisible Man threw off a couple of hi_ntagonists and rose to his knees. Kemp clung to him in front like a hound t_ stag, and a dozen hands gripped, clutched, and tore at the Unseen. The tra_onductor suddenly got the neck and shoulders and lugged him back.
  • Down went the heap of struggling men again and rolled over. There was, I a_fraid, some savage kicking. Then suddenly a wild scream of "Mercy! Mercy!"
  • that died down swiftly to a sound like choking.
  • "Get back, you fools!" cried the muffled voice of Kemp, and there was _igorous shoving back of stalwart forms. "He's hurt, I tell you. Stand back!"
  • There was a brief struggle to clear a space, and then the circle of eage_aces saw the doctor kneeling, as it seemed, fifteen inches in the air, an_olding invisible arms to the ground. Behind him a constable gripped invisibl_nkles.
  • "Don't you leave go of en," cried the big navvy, holding a blood-staine_pade; "he's shamming."
  • "He's not shamming," said the doctor, cautiously raising his knee; "and I'l_old him." His face was bruised and already going red; he spoke thickl_ecause of a bleeding lip. He released one hand and seemed to be feeling a_he face. "The mouth's all wet," he said. And then, "Good God!"
  • He stood up abruptly and then knelt down on the ground by the side of th_hing unseen. There was a pushing and shuffling, a sound of heavy feet a_resh people turned up to increase the pressure of the crowd. People now wer_oming out of the houses. The doors of the "Jolly Cricketers" stood suddenl_ide open. Very little was said.
  • Kemp felt about, his hand seeming to pass through empty air. "He's no_reathing," he said, and then, "I can't feel his heart. His side—ugh!"
  • Suddenly an old woman, peering under the arm of the big navvy, screame_harply. "Looky there!" she said, and thrust out a wrinkled finger.
  • And looking where she pointed, everyone saw, faint and transparent as thoug_t was made of glass, so that veins and arteries and bones and nerves could b_istinguished, the outline of a hand, a hand limp and prone. It grew cloude_nd opaque even as they stared.
  • "Hullo!" cried the constable. "Here's his feet a-showing!"
  • And so, slowly, beginning at his hands and feet and creeping along his limb_o the vital centres of his body, that strange change continued. It was lik_he slow spreading of a poison. First came the little white nerves, a haz_rey sketch of a limb, then the glassy bones and intricate arteries, then th_lesh and skin, first a faint fogginess, and then growing rapidly dense an_paque. Presently they could see his crushed chest and his shoulders, and th_im outline of his drawn and battered features.
  • When at last the crowd made way for Kemp to stand erect, there lay, naked an_itiful on the ground, the bruised and broken body of a young man abou_hirty. His hair and brow were white—not grey with age, but white with th_hiteness of albinism—and his eyes were like garnets. His hands were clenched,
  • his eyes wide open, and his expression was one of anger and dismay.
  • "Cover his face!" said a man. "For Gawd's sake, cover that face!" and thre_ittle children, pushing forward through the crowd, were suddenly twiste_ound and sent packing off again.
  • Someone brought a sheet from the "Jolly Cricketers," and having covered him,
  • they carried him into that house. And there it was, on a shabby bed in _awdry, ill-lighted bedroom, surrounded by a crowd of ignorant and excite_eople, broken and wounded, betrayed and unpitied, that Griffin, the first o_ll men to make himself invisible, Griffin, the most gifted physicist th_orld has ever seen, ended in infinite disaster his strange and terribl_areer.