At 10 am the next day, Marvel sits, dirty and panting, on a bench outside an inn in Port Stowe. He is still carrying the books, but has abandoned the bundle. A mariner sits next to him and makes small talk about the weather. The mariner stares at Marvel, and hears the sound of coins dropping, which he finds odd considering Marvel’s shabby appearance. The mariner begins to question Marvel about the books, and then mentions a newspaper article about the Invisible Man. Marvel pretends to be ignorant of the matter and asks what is in the article. The mariner tells him that the Invisible Man is supposedly in Iping.
To some extent, Marvel behaves obediently by pretending not to know anything about the Invisible Man. On the other hand, simply the fact that he spoke to the mariner in the first place jeopardizes Griffin’s mission. The mariner is suspicious of Marvel, and any conversation risks exposing Griffin’s secret to even more people.
The mariner shows Marvel the article, which recounts the events of Whit Monday. Marvel asks if the Invisible Man returned to Iping after the carnage he caused, and the mariner replies he didn’t. The mariner adds that there are rumors that the Invisible Man is on the way to Port Stowe. He wonders aloud about all the things that the man could do without being caught.
Rumors and hearsay are generally not a reliable source of information, but in this case, everything the mariner has heard about the Invisible Man—including that he has headed to Port Stowe—is in fact correct. Griffin is not nearly as anonymous and invincible as he thinks he is.
In a whisper, Marvel boasts that he knows about the Invisible Man through “private sources.” Marvel begins to reveal what he knows, when suddenly he lets out a yelp of pain. When the mariner asks what’s wrong, Marvel replies that he has a toothache and that he needs to get going. The mariner insists on hearing more about the Invisible Man, and Marvel replies that it’s a “hoax.” The mariner grows embarrassed, asking why Marvel didn’t say that it was a hoax in the first place. The two get into an argument, while Marvel is moved around in the air in a strange manner.
Both Marvel and the mariner want to seem intelligent and important to one another, and this indirectly leads them to get into an argument. Marvel cannot resist the temptation of boasting about his special knowledge of the Invisible Man; meanwhile, the mariner’s embarrassment over his supposed gullibility leads him to behave in an aggressive manner.
Marvel and the mariner part ways. Later, the mariner hears from a friend that a “fistful of money” was seen traveling through the air by itself nearby. The friend tried to grab the money, at which point he was knocked to the ground by an invisible force. The mariner is at first not sure whether to believe the story. He spends a lot of time reflecting, but only ten days later does he realize how close he personally came to the Invisible Man.
This passage serves as a reflection on how skepticism and belief can change over time. Sometimes it is not possible to truly understand a situation in the moment at which it happens. It can be necessary to have time to reflect before coming to a rational judgment.