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Chapter 9 Mr. Thomas Marvel

  • You must picture Mr. Thomas Marvel as a person of copious, flexible visage, _ose of cylindrical protrusion, a liquorish, ample, fluctuating mouth, and _eard of bristling eccentricity. His figure inclined to embonpoint; his shor_imbs accentuated this inclination. He wore a furry silk hat, and the frequen_ubstitution of twine and shoe-laces for buttons, apparent at critical point_f his costume, marked a man essentially bachelor.
  • Mr. Thomas Marvel was sitting with his feet in a ditch by the roadside ove_he down towards Adderdean, about a mile and a half out of Iping. His feet, save for socks of irregular open-work, were bare, his big toes were broad, an_ricked like the ears of a watchful dog. In a leisurely manner—he di_verything in a leisurely manner—he was contemplating trying on a pair o_oots. They were the soundest boots he had come across for a long time, bu_oo large for him; whereas the ones he had were, in dry weather, a ver_omfortable fit, but too thin-soled for damp. Mr. Thomas Marvel hated room_hoes, but then he hated damp. He had never properly thought out which h_ated most, and it was a pleasant day, and there was nothing better to do. S_e put the four shoes in a graceful group on the turf and looked at them. An_eeing them there among the grass and springing agrimony, it suddenly occurre_o him that both pairs were exceedingly ugly to see. He was not at al_tartled by a voice behind him.
  • "They're boots, anyhow," said the Voice.
  • "They are—charity boots," said Mr. Thomas Marvel, with his head on one sid_egarding them distastefully; "and which is the ugliest pair in the whol_lessed universe, I'm darned if I know!"
  • "H'm," said the Voice.
  • "I've worn worse—in fact, I've worn none. But none so owdacious ugly—if you'l_llow the expression. I've been cadging boots—in particular—for days. Becaus_ was sick of them. They're sound enough, of course. But a gentleman on tram_ees such a thundering lot of his boots. And if you'll believe me, I've raise_othing in the whole blessed country, try as I would, but them. Look at 'em!
  • And a good country for boots, too, in a general way. But it's just m_romiscuous luck. I've got my boots in this country ten years or more. An_hen they treat you like this."
  • "It's a beast of a country," said the Voice. "And pigs for people."
  • "Ain't it?" said Mr. Thomas Marvel. "Lord! But them boots! It beats it."
  • He turned his head over his shoulder to the right, to look at the boots of hi_nterlocutor with a view to comparisons, and lo! where the boots of hi_nterlocutor should have been were neither legs nor boots. He was irradiate_y the dawn of a great amazement. "Where are yer?" said Mr. Thomas Marvel ove_is shoulder and coming on all fours. He saw a stretch of empty downs with th_ind swaying the remote green-pointed furze bushes.
  • "Am I drunk?" said Mr. Marvel. "Have I had visions? Was I talking to myself?
  • What the—"
  • "Don't be alarmed," said a Voice.
  • "None of your ventriloquising me," said Mr. Thomas Marvel, rising sharply t_is feet. "Where are yer? Alarmed, indeed!"
  • "Don't be alarmed," repeated the Voice.
  • "You'll be alarmed in a minute, you silly fool," said Mr. Thomas Marvel.
  • "Where are yer? Lemme get my mark on yer…
  • "Are yer buried?" said Mr. Thomas Marvel, after an interval.
  • There was no answer. Mr. Thomas Marvel stood bootless and amazed, his jacke_early thrown off.
  • "Peewit," said a peewit, very remote.
  • "Peewit, indeed!" said Mr. Thomas Marvel. "This ain't no time for foolery."
  • The down was desolate, east and west, north and south; the road with it_hallow ditches and white bordering stakes, ran smooth and empty north an_outh, and, save for that peewit, the blue sky was empty too. "So help me,"
  • said Mr. Thomas Marvel, shuffling his coat on to his shoulders again. "It'_he drink! I might ha' known."
  • "It's not the drink," said the Voice. "You keep your nerves steady."
  • "Ow!" said Mr. Marvel, and his face grew white amidst its patches. "It's th_rink!" his lips repeated noiselessly. He remained staring about him, rotatin_lowly backwards. "I could have swore I heard a voice," he whispered.
  • "Of course you did."
  • "It's there again," said Mr. Marvel, closing his eyes and clasping his hand o_is brow with a tragic gesture. He was suddenly taken by the collar and shake_iolently, and left more dazed than ever. "Don't be a fool," said the Voice.
  • "I'm—off—my—blooming—chump," said Mr. Marvel. "It's no good. It's frettin_bout them blarsted boots. I'm off my blessed blooming chump. Or it'_pirits."
  • "Neither one thing nor the other," said the Voice. "Listen!"
  • "Chump," said Mr. Marvel.
  • "One minute," said the Voice, penetratingly, tremulous with self-control.
  • "Well?" said Mr. Thomas Marvel, with a strange feeling of having been dug i_he chest by a finger.
  • "You think I'm just imagination? Just imagination?"
  • "What else can you be?" said Mr. Thomas Marvel, rubbing the back of his neck.
  • "Very well," said the Voice, in a tone of relief. "Then I'm going to thro_lints at you till you think differently."
  • "But where are yer?"
  • The Voice made no answer. Whizz came a flint, apparently out of the air, an_issed Mr. Marvel's shoulder by a hair's-breadth. Mr. Marvel, turning, saw _lint jerk up into the air, trace a complicated path, hang for a moment, an_hen fling at his feet with almost invisible rapidity. He was too amazed t_odge. Whizz it came, and ricochetted from a bare toe into the ditch. Mr.
  • Thomas Marvel jumped a foot and howled aloud. Then he started to run, trippe_ver an unseen obstacle, and came head over heels into a sitting position.
  • "Now," said the Voice, as a third stone curved upward and hung in the ai_bove the tramp. "Am I imagination?"
  • Mr. Marvel by way of reply struggled to his feet, and was immediately rolle_ver again. He lay quiet for a moment. "If you struggle any more," said th_oice, "I shall throw the flint at your head."
  • "It's a fair do," said Mr. Thomas Marvel, sitting up, taking his wounded to_n hand and fixing his eye on the third missile. "I don't understand it.
  • Stones flinging themselves. Stones talking. Put yourself down. Rot away. I'_one."
  • The third flint fell.
  • "It's very simple," said the Voice. "I'm an invisible man."
  • "Tell us something I don't know," said Mr. Marvel, gasping with pain. "Wher_ou've hid—how you do it—I don't know. I'm beat."
  • "That's all," said the Voice. "I'm invisible. That's what I want you t_nderstand."
  • "Anyone could see that. There is no need for you to be so confounde_mpatient, mister. Now then. Give us a notion. How are you hid?"
  • "I'm invisible. That's the great point. And what I want you to understand i_his—"
  • "But whereabouts?" interrupted Mr. Marvel.
  • "Here! Six yards in front of you."
  • "Oh, come! I ain't blind. You'll be telling me next you're just thin air. I'_ot one of your ignorant tramps—"
  • "Yes, I am—thin air. You're looking through me."
  • "What! Ain't there any stuff to you. Vox et—what is it?—jabber. Is it that?"
  • "I am just a human being—solid, needing food and drink, needing coverin_oo—But I'm invisible. You see? Invisible. Simple idea. Invisible."
  • "What, real like?"
  • "Yes, real."
  • "Let's have a hand of you," said Marvel, "if you are real. It won't be so dar_ut-of-the-way like, then—Lord!" he said, "how you made me jump!—gripping m_ike that!"
  • He felt the hand that had closed round his wrist with his disengaged fingers, and his fingers went timorously up the arm, patted a muscular chest, an_xplored a bearded face. Marvel's face was astonishment.
  • "I'm dashed!" he said. "If this don't beat cock-fighting! Most remarkable!—An_here I can see a rabbit clean through you, 'arf a mile away! Not a bit of yo_isible—except—"
  • He scrutinised the apparently empty space keenly. "You 'aven't been eatin'
  • bread and cheese?" he asked, holding the invisible arm.
  • "You're quite right, and it's not quite assimilated into the system."
  • "Ah!" said Mr. Marvel. "Sort of ghostly, though."
  • "Of course, all this isn't half so wonderful as you think."
  • "It's quite wonderful enough for my modest wants," said Mr. Thomas Marvel.
  • "Howjer manage it! How the dooce is it done?"
  • "It's too long a story. And besides—"
  • "I tell you, the whole business fairly beats me," said Mr. Marvel.
  • "What I want to say at present is this: I need help. I have come to that—_ame upon you suddenly. I was wandering, mad with rage, naked, impotent. _ould have murdered. And I saw you—"
  • "Lord!" said Mr. Marvel.
  • "I came up behind you—hesitated—went on—"
  • Mr. Marvel's expression was eloquent.
  • "—then stopped. 'Here,' I said, 'is an outcast like myself. This is the ma_or me.' So I turned back and came to you—you. And—"
  • "Lord!" said Mr. Marvel. "But I'm all in a tizzy. May I ask—How is it? An_hat you may be requiring in the way of help?—Invisible!"
  • "I want you to help me get clothes—and shelter—and then, with other things.
  • I've left them long enough. If you won't—well! But you will—must."
  • "Look here," said Mr. Marvel. "I'm too flabbergasted. Don't knock me about an_ore. And leave me go. I must get steady a bit. And you've pretty near broke_y toe. It's all so unreasonable. Empty downs, empty sky. Nothing visible fo_iles except the bosom of Nature. And then comes a voice. A voice out o_eaven! And stones! And a fist—Lord!"
  • "Pull yourself together," said the Voice, "for you have to do the job I'v_hosen for you."
  • Mr. Marvel blew out his cheeks, and his eyes were round.
  • "I've chosen you," said the Voice. "You are the only man except some of thos_ools down there, who knows there is such a thing as an invisible man. Yo_ave to be my helper. Help me—and I will do great things for you. An invisibl_an is a man of power." He stopped for a moment to sneeze violently.
  • "But if you betray me," he said, "if you fail to do as I direct you—" H_aused and tapped Mr. Marvel's shoulder smartly. Mr. Marvel gave a yelp o_error at the touch. "I don't want to betray you," said Mr. Marvel, edgin_way from the direction of the fingers. "Don't you go a-thinking that, whatever you do. All I want to do is to help you—just tell me what I got t_o. (Lord!) Whatever you want done, that I'm most willing to do."