فصل 20

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فصل 20

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 3 دقیقه
  • سطح ساده

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CHAPTER TWENTY

The Wicksteed Murder

The Invisible Man seems to have rushed out of Kemp’s house in blind anger. A little child playing near Kemp’s gateway was violently picked up and thrown to one side - so that his leg was broken - and then for some hours the Invisible Man disappeared completely. No one knows where he went or what he did. But we can think of him hurrying through the hot June morning, up the hill and onto the open land behind Port Burdock, and hiding at last in the woods.

There he hid for two hours, while a growing crowd of men was hunting him across the country with dogs, and searching for him in every direction. In the morning he had still been just a story, a terror; in the afternoon, mainly because of Kemp’s story, he was shown to be a real enemy who had to be caught and held by force, and the countryside began organising itself very quickly. Before two o’clock, he might still have escaped from the area by hoarding a train, but after two that became impossible: every passenger train between Southampton, Winchester, Brighton and Horsham travelled with locked doors, and the goods trains were almost entirely stopped. And in a great circle of 20 miles round Port Burdock, men armed with guns and sticks were soon setting out in groups of three and four, with dogs, to search the roads and fields.

Police on horseback followed the country roads, stopping at every house and warning people to lock their doors and not to go out unless they were armed. All the schools had closed before three o’clock, and the frightened children, keeping together in groups, hurried home. A notice written by Kemp was put up everywhere, telling people clearly what must be done - that the Invisible Man must have neither food nor sleep, that a continuous watch must be kept for signs of him. Before night the whole country was on guard and also before night came news of the murder of Mr Wicksteed.

Somewhere on the road the Invisible Man must have picked up an iron bar. Mr Wicksteed, a quiet, harmless man on his way home from work, had, no doubt, seen an iron bar walking by itself, and had turned to follow it. Perhaps the Invisible Man imagined he was one of the hunters. We only know that he stopped quiet little Mr Wicksteed, attacked him, broke his arm, knocked him down and beat his head to pieces.

Then there is the story of a voice heard by some men in a held, laughing and crying. Across the field it went and was lost. The Invisible Man must have seen the use Kemp had made of his story. He must have found all the houses shut and locked, and seen the groups of men with dogs watching. He knew that he was a hunted man. In the night he must have eaten and slept, for on the last morning he was himself again and ready for his struggle against the world.

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