The hero of the novel is Griffin, a young gifted scientist. He invents a substance that makes a person invisible and tries it on himself. Wishing to continue his experiments, Griffin comes to the quiet provincial town of Iping and stops at a local inn. His secluded way of life and strange occupation arouse the suspicion of the narrow-minded Mr. and Mrs. Hall – keepers of the inn. They begin spying on Griffin. Finally things come to an open quarrel.
The stranger returned to his room about half-past five in the morning, and there he remained until near midday, the blinds down and the door shut. All that time he must have been hungry. Three times he rang his bell, but Mrs. Hall would not answer it, as she was angry with him for his rudeness. What the stranger was doing was unknown. He must have occupied himself with some experiments at his table. Several times his cursing, the tearing of paper and violent smashing of bottles were heard. About noon he suddenly opened the door and stood staring at the people in the bar. «Mrs. Hall,» he called. Mrs. Hall came forward holding in her hand an unsettled bill. «Is it your bill you want, sir?» she asked.
«Why wasn’t my breakfast served? Why haven’t you answered my bell? You must have thought I can live without eating. What!»
«You should have paid my bill, sir,» said Mr. Hall.
«I told you three days ago I was expecting a remittance»
«I am not going to wait for any remittances.»
«Look here, my good woman –» he began in a pleading tone.
«Don’t good woman me,» said Mrs. Hall, «and before I get any breakfasts, you’ve got to tell me one or two things I don’t understand. Your room was empty but how did you get in again? You must have climbed in through the window. I suppose you know that people who stop in this house come in by the doors – that’s the rule.»
«You might have been more polite, at least,» the stranger interrupted her in an angry voice stamping his foot. «You don’t understand who I am. I’ll show you!» He took off his spectacles and everyone in the bar gasped: there was – nothing behind them! He began to remove the bandages that covered the rest of his face. Mrs. Hall shrieked and fell down unconscious as she saw that the stranger had no head. The people in the bar made for the door. The news of the headless man spread all the way down the street in no time and soon a crowd of perhaps forty people gathered round the door of the little inn. A little procession pushed its way through the crowd: first Mr. Hall, then Mr. Bobby Jaffers, the village constable, and then the blacksmith who lived across the street. Mr. Hall must have been to the police to bring help. They all marched up the steps and entered the stranger’s room at once. They saw the headless figure sitting at the table.
«What’s this?» came an angry voice from above the collar of the figure.
«You’re a strange person,» said Jaffers, «but head or no head I’ll have to arrest you.» And he produced a pair of handcuffs. At the next moment the stranger’s gloves came off and dropped on the floor. He ran his arm down his waistcoat, and the buttons to which his empty sleeves pointed, became undone. Then he bent down and began doing something with his shoes and socks.
«Why!» said Jaffers, «that’s no man at all. It’s just empty clothes. Look!» He held out his hand and it seemed to meet something in the air.
«Can’t you be more careful? You might have hurt my eye,» said the angry voice. «As a matter of f act, I’m invisible. It’s strange, perhaps, but it’s not a crime.»
«I’ve got my instructions –» Jaffers said holding his handcuffs ready.
«Well,» said the stranger, «I’ll come. But no handcuffs.»
«Pardon me, but – Suddenly the figure sat down. Before anyone could realise what was happening, the shoes, socks and trousers had been kicked of f under the table. Then the stranger jumped up and threw off his coat.
«Hold him,» cried Jaffers, «once he gets the things off –» There was a rush at the white shirt which was fluttering in the air. Jaffers grasped at it, and only helped to pull it off.
«You could have held him faster,» one of the men said to the policeman, «why did you let him go?» «Here he is!» another man cried out. The struggling crowd was moving down the stairs and towards the house door.
«I got him!» shouted Jaffers. He held fast his unseen enemy, he must have been hit suddenly as he cried out with pain and fell heavily on the ground. There were excited cries of «hold him!» «Invisible!» Half way across the road a woman screamed as something pushed by her. A dog must have been kicked by an invisible foot as it ran howling into the yard nearby. And the invisible man was gone forever from Iping.
substance – вещество
secluded – скрытный
remittance – денежный перевод