Footprints Without Feet – Summary

Footprints without Feet by H. G. Wells, is about a scientist who discovered how to make himself invisible. As he was afraid of being discovered in London, where he had committed some crimes, he ran away to a remote village. However, he ran out of money and resorted to robbery, using his advantage of invisibility.

Summary

Griffin was a brilliant scientist. He carried on experiments for years to prove that human body could become invisible. He swallowed certain rare drugs and became an invisible person. He had a quarrel with his landlord. In revenge, he set fire to the house. He removed his clothes, became invisible and got away without being seen. He began to wander about the streets of London, without clothes, without money and invisible.

He happened to be in some mud. As a result, his footprints were left behind as he walked. Two boys were fascinated by the footprints without feet. They followed the foot-marks. However, Griffin easily dodged them.

It was mid-winter. The air was bitterly cold and he was without clothes. When the cold became unbearable, he slipped into a big London store. When the store was closed, he broke open boxes and found warm clothes for himself. On wearing them, he became a visible person. He found cold meat and coffee in the kitchen. Then he took sweets and wine. At last, he slept on a pile of quilts. When he woke up the next morning, the assistants had already arrived, he got nervous and began to run. They chased him. Then he quickly took off his clothes, became invisible and escaped from there.

This time he entered a theatre company. He made his way upstairs. Nobody could see him because he was invisible. A little later when he came out, he was wearing bandages round his forehead, dark glasses, false nose, big bushy six whiskers and a large hat. He attacked the shopkeeper from behind and robbed him of all that he could find.

Griffin was eager to get away from crowded London. He went to the village of Iping and booked two rooms at a local inn. His uncommon appearance attracted everybody’s attention. Mrs. Hall, the landlord’s wife made every possible effort to be friendly with him. But he told her frankly that he had come there to work in solitude and did not want to be disturbed. She was satisfied. She thought he was an eccentric scientist. Moreover, he had paid the rent in advance. When his stolen money was spent, he admitted that he had no ready cash. He said that he was expecting a cheque and then he would make the payment. Thus, he satisfied the landlord.

Griffin took off his clothes and became invisible. He entered the clergyman’s home with an intention to steal money from there. The clergyman and his wife woke up when they heard noises in the studyroom. The clergyman entered the room with a poker in his hand. To his surprise the room appeared to be empty. He and his wife searched everywhere, but there was no trace of the burglar. Yet the desk had been opened and the money had been stolen.

That morning the landlord and his wife got up early. They were surprised to find the scientist’s door wide open, because it was usually shut and locked and he did not allow anybody to enter his room. When they entered the room, they found the scientist missing. The clothes and bandages, that he always wore, were lying in the room. In the meantime, the invisible scientist entered the room. He attacked Mrs. Hall with the bedroom chair. She and her husband left the room in terror.

Mrs. Hall was convinced that the room was haunted by spirits. She held the strange scientist responsible for that. The neighbours felt that the trouble was caused by witchcraft. When they came to know of the burglary at the clergyman’s home, they suspected the strange scientist. Their suspicion was strengthened when he suddenly produced some ready cash because only a day before, he had admitted that he had no money.

They secretly sent for the village constable. When Mrs. Hall saw the scientist emerging from his empty room, she demanded explanation. The scientist became furious. He threw off his bandages, whiskers, spectacles and false nose. The space above his shoulders was now empty. The people in the bar were horrified to see a headless man.

In the meantime, Mr. Jaffers, the constable, arrived there. He was surprised to find that he had to arrest a headless man. He tried to get hold of the man who was becoming invisible. The constable was struggling with someone whom he could not see at all. Some people who tried to assist him also received blows from the invisible scientist. The constable was knocked unconscious. Griffin had shaken himself free. In their nervousness, people tried to hold him, but they did not know from where to catch him.

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