فصل 18

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فصل 18

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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

The Plan That Failed

‘But now,’ said Kemp, looking out of the window, ‘what are we to do?’

He moved nearer to his guest so that he did not see the three men who were coming up the hill road - too slowly, as it seemed to Kemp.

‘What were you planning to do, when you were going to Port Burdock? Did you have a plan?’

‘I was going to leave the country. But I have rather changed that plan since seeing you. I thought it would be wise, now the weather is hot, to make for the south. Especially as my secret was known, and everyone would be watching for a man all wrapped up like me. You have regular boats from here to France. My idea was to get on board one. Then I could go by train into Spain, or else to Algiers. It wouldn’t be difficult. There a man could be invisible all the time, but still live and do things. I was using that tramp as a moneybox and carrier until I decided how to get my books and things sent over to join me.’

‘That’s clear.’

‘And then he tried to rob me! He has hidden my books, Kemp. Hidden my books! If I can get hold of him, I’ll -‘

‘You’d better get the books from him first.’

‘But where is he? Do you know?’

‘He’s in the town police station, locked up, at his own request, in the strongest room in the place.’

‘The rat!’ said the Invisible Man.

‘But that delays your plans a little.’

‘We must get those books; those books are necessary.’

‘Certainly,’ said Kemp, a little anxiously, unsure if he heard footsteps outside. ‘Certainly we must get those books. But that won’t be difficult, if he doesn’t know they’re for you.’

‘No,’ said the Invisible Man, thoughtfully.

Kemp tried to think of something to keep the conversation going, but the Invisible Man continued himself.

‘Coming into your house, Kemp,’ he said, ‘changes all my plans. For you are a man who can understand. You are a scientist. You have told no one I am here?’

‘Not a soul.’

‘If we are to make any use of being invisible, we must start by killing.’

‘Killing?’ repeated Kemp. ‘I’m listening to your plan; but I’m not agreeing. Why killing?’

‘The point is this: they know as well as we do that there is an Invisible Man - and that Invisible Man, Kemp, must now start to rule by terror. Yes; I mean it. To rule by terror. He must take a town like your Burdock and put the fear of God into it. He must give orders. He can do that in many ways. And he must kill everybody who disobeys his orders, and everybody who works against him.’

‘Really!’ said Kemp, no longer listening to Griffin, but to the sound of his front door opening and closing.

The Invisible Man had also heard the sound. ‘Listen!’ he said. ‘What is that downstairs?’

‘Nothing,’ said Kemp; and suddenly he began to speak loud and fast. ‘I don’t agree to this, Griffin,’ he said. ‘Understand me, I don’t agree to this. Why do you wish to be alone? Why not tell everyone? Think how much better it would be. You might have a million helpers.’

The Invisible Man raised his hand. ‘There are footsteps coming upstairs,’ he said.

‘Nonsense,’ said Kemp.

‘Let me see,’ said the Invisible Man, and went to the door and listened.

And then things happened very quickly. Suddenly the clothes sat down and opened as the unseen man began to undress.

Kemp opened the door.

As he opened it, there came sounds of hurrying feet and voices downstairs.

With a quick movement Kemp pushed the Invisible Man back, jumped aside, and shut the door behind him. The key was outside and ready. In another moment Griffin would have been locked in the room, except for one little thing: the key fell noisily on the floor.

Kemp’s face became white. He tried to hold the door handle with both hands. For a moment he pulled at it. Then the door opened slightly, but he got it closed again. The second time it was opened a foot, and the clothes came into the opening. Kemp’s throat was seized by invisible fingers, and he let go of the handle in order to defend himself. He was forced back and thrown heavily to the floor.

Halfway up the stairs was Colonel Adye, the chief of the Burdock police. He was staring at the sudden appearance of Kemp, followed by the clothes, which danced in the air. He saw Kemp fall and then struggle to his feet. He saw Kemp rush forward, and go down again.

Then suddenly he was struck. By nothing! A great weight, if seemed, jumped on him, and he was thrown down the staircase. An invisible foot stepped on his back, faint steps passed downstairs. He heard the two police officers in the hall shout and run, and the sound of the front door of the house as it shut.

He rolled over and sat up staring. He saw Kemp coming down the staircase, his face white and bleeding.

‘My God!’ cried Kemp, ‘I couldn’t stop him! He’s gone!’

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