Chapter Twenty-five : THE HUNTING OF THE INVISIBLE MAN
For a space Kemp was too inarticulate to make Adye understand the swift things that had just happened. They stood on the landing, Kemp speaking swiftly, the grotesque swathings of Griffin still on his arm. But presently Adye began to grasp something of the situation.
“He is mad,” said Kemp; “inhuman. He is pure selfishness. He thinks of nothing but his own advantage, his own safety. I have listened to such a story this morning of brutal self-seeking…. He has wounded men. He will kill them unless we can prevent him. He will create a panic. Nothing can stop him. He is going out now—furious!”
“He must be caught,” said Adye. “That is certain.”
“But how?” cried Kemp, and suddenly became full of ideas. “You must begin at once. You must set every available man to work; you must prevent his leaving this district. Once he gets away, he may go through the countryside as he wills, killing and maiming. He dreams of a reign of terror! A reign of terror, I tell you. You must set a watch on trains and roads and shipping. The garrison must help. You must wire for help. The only thing that may keep him here is the thought of recovering some books of notes he counts of value. I will tell you of that! There is a man in your police station—Marvel.”
“I know,” said Adye, “I know. Those books—yes. But the tramp….”
“Says he hasn’t them. But he thinks the tramp has. And you must prevent him from eating or sleeping; day and night the country must be astir for him. Food must be locked up and secured, all food, so that he will have to break his way to it. The houses everywhere must be barred against him. Heaven send us cold nights and rain! The whole country-side must begin hunting and keep hunting. I tell you, Adye, he is a danger, a disaster; unless he is pinned and secured, it is frightful to think of the things that may happen.”
“What else can we do?” said Adye. “I must go down at once and begin organising. But why not come? Yes—you come too! Come, and we must hold a sort of council of war—get Hopps to help—and the railway managers. By Jove! it’s urgent. Come along—tell me as we go. What else is there we can do? Put that stuff down.”
In another moment Adye was leading the way downstairs. They found the front door open and the policemen standing outside staring at empty air. “He’s got away, sir,” said one.
“We must go to the central station at once,” said Adye. “One of you go on down and get a cab to come up and meet us—quickly. And now, Kemp, what else?”
“Dogs,” said Kemp. “Get dogs. They don’t see him, but they wind him. Get dogs.”
“Good,” said Adye. “It’s not generally known, but the prison officials over at Halstead know a man with bloodhounds. Dogs. What else?”
“Bear in mind,” said Kemp, “his food shows. After eating, his food shows until it is assimilated. So that he has to hide after eating. You must keep on beating. Every thicket, every quiet corner. And put all weapons—all implements that might be weapons, away. He can’t carry such things for long. And what he can snatch up and strike men with must be hidden away.”
“Good again,” said Adye. “We shall have him yet!”
“And on the roads,” said Kemp, and hesitated.
“Yes?” said Adye.
“Powdered glass,” said Kemp. “It’s cruel, I know. But think of what he may do!”
Adye drew the air in sharply between his teeth. “It’s unsportsmanlike. I don’t know. But I’ll have powdered glass got ready. If he goes too far….”
“The man’s become inhuman, I tell you,” said Kemp. “I am as sure he will establish a reign of terror—so soon as he has got over the emotions of this escape—as I am sure I am talking to you. Our only chance is to be ahead. He has cut himself off from his kind. His blood be upon his own head.”