فصل 16

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فصل 16

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

How to Become Invisible

The next morning Kemp heard a loud noise and went to see his guest.

‘What’s the matter?’ asked Kemp, when the Invisible Man let him in.

‘Nothing,’ was the answer.

‘But, good heavens! What was that crash?’

‘I lost my temper,’ said the Invisible Man. ‘I forgot this arm; and it’s sore.’

‘You’re rather in the habit of losing your temper.’

‘I am.’

‘Your story is in the papers,’ Kemp said.

The Invisible Man swore.

‘Come and have some breakfast,’ said Kemp, leading the way. ‘Before we can do anything else,’ he went on, ‘I must understand a little more about you.’ He had sat down, with the air of a man who means to talk seriously.

‘It’s simple enough,’ said Griffin.

‘No doubt it’s simple enough to you, but-‘ Kemp laughed.

‘Well, yes, to me it seemed strange at first, no doubt. But we can still do great things! I found the secret first at Chesilstowe College.’

‘Chesilstowe?’

‘I went there after I left London. You know I have always been interested in light.’

‘Ah!’

‘I said: “I will give my life to this. This is worth my trouble.” You know what fools we are at twenty-two.’

‘Fools then and fools now,’ said Kemp.

As though just knowing could satisfy a man! I saw a way to change the human body, or any other kind of body…’ And then the strange man, or rather the clothes of a man, sitting opposite Kemp, explained how a student of science had disappeared.

‘If you take a small piece of glass and crush it into powder, the powder is white and solid like salt. You can’t see through it. Human flesh, white paper, cloth, hair, are really made of a kind of powder. The tiny grains of powder break up the light which shines on them, so that it can’t shine through them, and that is why we can see flesh and paper. Now, if you could smooth the broken grains of powder so that they would not break up the light, they would no longer look solid. The light would shine through them, just as now the sun is shining through me. You can try it with a piece of white paper and a drop of oil. Pour a little oil on the paper and things will begin to show through it. If the oil is good enough and the paper is bad enough, you will be able to see through the paper to the print on the other side. That is because the oil is smooth and it smooths out the rough surfaces of each little grain of the powder.

‘Well, I found something which would do to human flesh what the oil does to the paper, and would do it so perfectly that there is no tiny part of my body which holds up the light. It is as if you had taken powdered glass and turned it back into the unbroken glass of that window.’

The explanation, as always between two scientists, led to all kinds of questions. Kemp was so surprised at the story that he nearly forgot that his friend was invisible.

‘Yes,’ said the Voice, ‘I had found it all. The way was open - and then - then after years of care and working in secret - then I knew that I could do nothing. I knew, and I was helpless. And that was after three years of secrecy and hard work.’

‘Why could you do nothing?’ asked Kemp.

‘I had no money,’ said the Invisible Man, and went to stare out of the window.

He turned round. ‘I robbed the old man - robbed my father. The money was not his, and he shot himself.’

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