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When the dusk was gathering, and Iping was just beginning to peep timorously forth again upon the shattered wreckage of its Bank Holiday,1 a short, thickset man in a shabby silk hat was marching painfully through the twilight behind the beechwoods on the road to Bramblehurst. He carried three books, bound together by some sort of ornamental elastic ligature, and a bundle wrapped in a blue tablecloth. His rubicund face expressed consternation and fatigue, he appeared to be in a spasmodic sort of hurry. He was accompanied by a Voice other than his own, and ever and again he winced under the touch of unseen hands.

Jf you give me the slip2 again, said the Voice; if you attempt to give me the slip again

Lord! said Mr. Marvel. That shoulders a mass of bruises as it is.

On my honour, said the Voice, I will kill you.

I didnt try to give you the slip, said Marvel, in a voice that was not far remote from tears. I swear I didnt. I didnt know the blessed turning, that was all! How the devil was I to know the blessed turning? As it is, Ive been knocked about

Youll get knocked about a great deal more if you dont mind,3 said the Voice, and Mr. Marvel abruptly became silent. He blew out his cheeks, and his eyes were eloquent of despair.

Its bad enough to let these floundering yokels explode my little secret, without your cutting off with my books. Its lucky for some of them they cut and ran when they did! Here am I No one knew I was invisible! And now what am I to do?

What amI to do? asked Marvel, sotto voce.

Its all about.4 It will be in the papers! Everybody will be looking for me. Every one on their guard

The Voice broke off into vivid curses and ceased. The despair of Mr. Marvels face deepened, and his pace slackened.

Go on, said the Voice.

Mr. Marvels face assumed a grayish tint between the ruddier patches.

Dont drop those books, stupid! said the Voice sharply.

The fact is, said the Voice, I shall have to make use of you Youre a poor tool, but I must.

Im a miserable tool, said Marvel.

You are, said the Voice.

Im the worst possible tool you could have, said Marvel.

Im not strong, he said, after a discouraging silence.

Im not over strong, he repeated.


And my hearts weak. That little businessI pulled it through, of course. But, bless you! I could have dropped.


I havent the nerve and strength for the sort of thing you want

Ill stimulate you.

I wish you wouldnt. I wouldnt like to mess up your plans, you know. But I might. Out of sheer funk and misery

Youd better not, said the Voice, with quiet emphasis.

I wish I was dead, said Marvel.

It aint justice, he said. You must admit It seems to me Ive a perfect right

Get on,5 said the Voice.

Mr. Marvel mended his pace, and for a time they went in silence again.

Its devilish hard, said Mr. Marvel.

This was quite ineffectual. He tried another tack.

What do I make by it?6 he began, again in a tone of unendurable wrong.

Oh! shut up! said the Voice, with sudden amazing vigour. Ill see to you all right. You do what youre told. Youll do it all right. Youre a fool and all that, but youll do

I tell you, sir, Im not the man for it. Respectfullybut it is so

If you dont shut up I shall twist your wrist again, said the Invisible Man. I want to think.

Presently two oblongs of yellow light appeared through the trees, and the square tower of a church loomed through the gloaming. I shall keep my hand on your shoulder, said the Voice, all through this village. Go straight through and try no foolery. It will be the worse for you if you do.

I know that, sighed Mr. Marvel, I know all that.

The unhappylooking figure in the obsolete silk hat passed up the street of the little village with his burdens, and vanished into the gathering darkness beyond the lights of the windows.

* * * | The Invisible Man | CHAPTER XIV AT PORT STOWE