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

been directed.

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

busted en."

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.