Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Invisible Man III: The Thousand and One Bottles

We resume the tale of The Invisible Man the day after he takes a room at the Coach and Horses. Mr. Fearenside, the postman, has brought the stranger's belongings from the railway station: a couple of normal traveler's trunks, a box of books, and a dozen or so assorted other boxes. Mr. Hall's curiosity gets the better of him, and he looks in one of them. He finds dozens of bottles packed in straw. The stranger emerges from the inn to supervise the unloading of his boxes, and is immediately set upon by Mr. Fearenside's dog, who rips one of the stranger's gloves and tears a pantleg. The postman uses his whip to drive the dog away, and the stranger rushes back inside the inn. Mr. Hall follows him to his room and enters. Inside the dark room he gets a brief impression of three empty spots in the bandaged face, and a handless arm, before a sudden blow sends him tumbling out of the room.

The two trunks are brought to the stranger's room, while the rest of the boxes are delivered to the parlour. The stranger unpacks the bottles and sets to work combining their contents in a set of test tubes. Mrs. Hall pauses outside the parlour long enough to hear the stranger groan in dismay at the vast scope of the project before him.

Later that afternoon, while Mr. Fearenside is having a beer with Mr. Henfrey, he reveals that after his dog tore the stranger's clothing, there was nothing but blackness within. Given that the stranger's nose is pink, the two men come to the conclusion that he is some sort of piebald half-breed.

We also learn in this chapter that the date of the stranger's arrival is February 29, and thus that the story takes place in a leap year, most likely 1896, the year before its publication, and probably the year Wells wrote it. The incident of the dog in the daytime took place the next day, on March 1. If the story was indeed set in 1896, then the stranger would have arrived in Iping on a Saturday.

No comments: