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The arrival of a stranger at an inn in winter was in any case an unusual event. A stranger of such uncommon appearance set all tongues wagging. Mrs Hall, the landlord’s wife, made every effort to be friendly. But Griffin had no desire to talk, and told her, “My reason for coming to Iping is a desire for solitude. I do not wish to be disturbed in my work. Besides, an accident has affected my face.”

Satisfied that her guest was an eccentric scientist, and in view of the fact that he had paid her in advance, Mrs Hall was prepared to excuse his strange habits and irritable temper. But the stolen money did not last long, and presently Griffin had to admit that he had no more ready cash. He pretended, however, that he was expecting a cheque to arrive at any moment.

Shortly afterwards a curious episode occurred. Very early in the morning a clergyman and his wife were awakened by noises in the study. Creeping downstairs, they heard the chink of money being taken from the clergyman’s desk.

Without making any noise and with a poker grasped firmly in his hand, the clergyman flung open the door.


The scientist then arrived at the inn in Iping. The event of a stranger coming and staying at the inn on a winter night was not normal in Iping. It might be because people used to visit Iping during the summer season. But when people came to know about a stranger who visited Iping during winter, it appeared to be weird. The narrator then says they all set their tongues wagging while seeing the scientist's strange appearance. Here the term "tongues are wagging" means talking a lot about something. Here all the people around the Iping were talking a lot about the stranger and his appearance.
The narrator then says that the landlord's wife (the inn where the scientist was staying), Mrs Hall tried to be close to the scientist. She might have made every effort to be friendly because she has to make her guest more comfortable as he is the inn's visitor. Also, it might be because the lady wished to know everything about him while becoming close to the scientist.
But the scientist did not like to talk to her. He told her that his reason for coming to Iping was for peace and quietness, and he did not like to be disturbed in his work. Also, he told her that an accident had affected his face, due to which he had to cover it.
The landlord's wife, Mrs Hall, then accepted that her new guest was a strange scientist and was ready to excuse his temper and habits as he had paid her in advance. The money he had stolen from the previous shop did not last long, and he had no ready cash available for further payment at the inn. As a result, to avoid being caught, he pretended to be waiting for a cheque that would arrive.



Then shortly, a strange incident occurred. Noises in the room awoke a clergyman and his wife quite early in the morning. They could hear money being stolen from his desk as they headed downstairs. The clergyman threw open the door silently, holding a metal rod in his hand. He said "surrender" as soon as he opened the door, believing he had caught the robber


Meanings of the difficult words


S.No   Words                                        Meanings
 1Stranger A person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar
 2Unusual Different from what is usual or expected
 3EventAnything that happens, especially something important or unusual
 4Uncommon Out of the ordinary or unusual
 5Appearance The way that someone or something looks
 6Tongues waggingTalking a lot about something
 7SolitudeThe state or situation of being alone
 8Eccentric Of a person or their behaviour unconventional and slightly strange
 9Guest A person staying at a hotel or guesthouse
 10TemperA person's state of mind seen in terms of their being angry or calm
 11Curious Eager to know or learn something
 12Episode A single event or group of related events
 13PretendTo behave as if something is true when you know that it is not, especially to deceive people or as a game
 14Chink A short sharp sound
 15GraspSeize and hold firmly
 16Flung Move or push something suddenly or violently
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). Footprints without Feet - H.G. Wells(pp. 26-31). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.