The Furniture That Went Mad
: The Invisible Man
Now it happened that in the early hours of Whit Monday, before
Millie was hunted out for the day, Mr. Hall and Mrs. Hall both rose
and went noiselessly down into the cellar. Their business there was
of a private nature, and had something to do with the specific
gravity of their beer. They had hardly entered the cellar when Mrs.
Hall found she had forgotten to bring down a bottle of sarsaparilla
from their joint-room. A
she was the expert and principal operator
in this affair, Hall very properly went upstairs for it.
On the landing he was surprised to see that the stranger's door was
ajar. He went on into his own room and found the bottle as he had
But returning with the bottle, he noticed that the bolts of the
front door had been shot back, that the door was in fact simply on
the latch. And with a flash of inspiration he connected this with
the stranger's room upstairs and the suggestions of Mr. Teddy
Henfrey. He distinctly remembered holding the candle while Mrs.
Hall shot these bolts overnight. At the sight he stopped, gaping,
then with the bottle still in his hand went upstairs again. He
rapped at the stranger's door. There was no answer. He rapped
again; then pushed the door wide open and entered.
It was as he expected. The bed, the room also, was empty. And what
was stranger, even to his heavy intelligence, on the bedroom chair
and along the rail of the bed were scattered the garments, the only
garments so far as he knew, and the bandages of their guest. His
big slouch hat even was cocked jauntily over the bed-post.
As Hall stood there he heard his wife's voice coming out of the
depth of the cellar, with that rapid telescoping of the syllables
and interrogative cocking up of the final words to a high note,
by which the West Sussex villager is wont to indicate a brisk
impatience. "George! You gart whad a wand?"
At that he turned and hurried down to her. "Janny," he said, over
the rail of the cellar steps, "'tas the truth what Henfrey sez.
'E's not in uz room, 'e en't. And the front door's onbolted."
At first Mrs. Hall did not understand, and as soon as she did she
resolved to see the empty room for herself. Hall, still holding the
bottle, went first. "If 'e en't there," he said, "'is close are.
And what's 'e doin' 'ithout 'is close, then? 'Tas a most curious
As they came up the cellar steps they both, it was afterwards
ascertained, fancied they heard the front door open and shut, but
seeing it closed and nothing there, neither said a word to the other
about it at the time. Mrs. Hall passed her husband in the passage
and ran on first upstairs. Someone sneezed on the staircase. Hall,
following six steps behind, thought that he heard her sneeze. She,
going on first, was under the impression that Hall was sneezing.
She flung open the door and stood regarding the room. "Of all the
curious!" she said.
She heard a sniff close behind her head as it seemed, and turning,
was surprised to see Hall a dozen feet off on the topmost stair.
But in another moment he was beside her. She bent forward and put
her hand on the pillow and then under the clothes.
"Cold," she said. "He's been up this hour or more."
As she did so, a most extraordinary thing happened. The bed-clothes
gathered themselves together, leapt up suddenly into a sort of peak,
and then jumped headlong over the bottom rail. It was exactly as if
a hand had clutched them in the centre and flung them aside.
Immediately after, the stranger's hat hopped off the bed-post,
described a whirling flight in the air through the better part of
a circle, and then dashed straight at Mrs. Hall's face. Then as
swiftly came the sponge from the washstand; and then the chair,
flinging the stranger's coat and trousers carelessly aside, and
laughing drily in a voice singularly like the stranger's, turned
itself up with its four legs at Mrs. Hall, seemed to take aim at her
for a moment, and charged at her. She screamed and turned, and then
the chair legs came gently but firmly against her back and impelled
her and Hall out of the room. The door slammed violently and was
locked. The chair and bed seemed to be executing a dance of triumph
for a moment, and then abruptly everything was still.
Mrs. Hall was left almost in a fainting condition in Mr. Hall's
arms on the landing. It was with the greatest difficulty that Mr.
Hall and Millie, who had been roused by her scream of alarm,
succeeded in getting her downstairs, and applying the restoratives
customary in such cases.
"'Tas sperits," said Mrs. Hall. "I know 'tas sperits. I've read in
papers of en. Tables and chairs leaping and dancing..."
"Take a drop more, Janny," said Hall. "'Twill steady ye."
"Lock him out," said Mrs. Hall. "Don't let him come in again.
I half guessed--I might ha' known. With them goggling eyes and
bandaged head, and never going to church of a Sunday. And all
they bottles--more'n it's right for any one to have. He's put the
sperits into the furniture.... My good old furniture! 'Twas in
that very chair my poor dear mother used to sit when I was a
little girl. To think it should rise up against me now!"
"Just a drop more, Janny," said Hall. "Your nerves is all upset."
They sent Millie across the street through the golden five o'clock
sunshine to rouse up Mr. Sandy Wadgers, the blacksmith. Mr.
Hall's compliments and the furniture upstairs was behaving most
extraordinary. Would Mr. Wadgers come round? He was a knowing man,
was Mr. Wadgers, and very resourceful. He took quite a grave view
of the case. "Arm darmed if thet ent witchcraft," was the view of
Mr. Sandy Wadgers. "You warnt horseshoes for such gentry as he."
He came round greatly concerned. They wanted him to lead the way
upstairs to the room, but he didn't seem to be in any hurry. He
preferred to talk in the passage. Over the way Huxter's apprentice
came out and began taking down the shutters of the tobacco window.
He was called over to join the discussion. Mr. Huxter naturally
followed over in the course of a few minutes. The Anglo-Saxon
genius for parliamentary government asserted itself; there was a
great deal of talk and no decisive action. "Let's have the facts
first," insisted Mr. Sandy Wadgers. "Let's be sure we'd be acting
perfectly right in bustin' that there door open. A door onbust is
always open to bustin', but ye can't onbust a door once you've
And suddenly and most wonderfully the door of the room upstairs
opened of its own accord, and as they looked up in amazement,
they saw descending the stairs the muffled figure of the stranger
staring more blackly and blankly than ever with those unreasonably
large blue glass eyes of his. He came down stiffly and slowly,
staring all the time; he walked across the passage staring, then
"Look there!" he said, and their eyes followed the direction of his
gloved finger and saw a bottle of sarsaparilla hard by the cellar
door. Then he entered the parlour, and suddenly, swiftly,
viciously, slammed the door in their faces.
Not a word was spoken until the last echoes of the slam had died
away. They stared at one another. "Well, if that don't lick
everything!" said Mr. Wadgers, and left the alternative unsaid.
"I'd go in and ask'n 'bout it," said Wadgers, to Mr. Hall. "I'd
d'mand an explanation."
It took some time to bring the landlady's husband up to that pitch.
At last he rapped, opened the door, and got as far as, "Excuse me--"
"Go to the devil!" said the stranger in a tremendous voice, and
"Shut that door after you." So that brief interview terminated.