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CHAPTER 22. IN THE EMPORIUM
"So last January, with the beginning of a snowstorm in the air about me--and if it settled on me it would betray me!--weary, cold, painful, inexpressibly wretched, and still but half convinced of my invisible quality, I began this new life to which I am committed. I had no refuge, no appliances, no human being in the world in whom I could confide. To have told my secret would have given me away--made a mere show and rarity of me. Nevertheless, I was half-minded to accost some passer-by and throw myself upon his mercy. But I knew too clearly the terror and brutal cruelty my advances would evoke. I made no plans in the street. My sole object was to get shelter from the snow, to get myself covered and warm; then I might hope to plan. But even to me, an Invisible Man, the rows of London houses stood latched, barred, and bolted impregnably.
"Only one thing could I see clearly before me--the cold exposure and misery of the snowstorm and the night.
"And then I had a brilliant idea. I turned down one of the roads leading from Gower Street to Tottenham Court Road, and found myself outside Omniums, the big establishment where everything is to be bought--you know the place: meat, grocery, linen, furniture, clothing, oil paintings even--a huge meandering collection of shops rather than a shop. I had thought I should find the doors open, but they were closed, and as I stood in the wide entrance a carriage stopped outside, and a man in uniform--you know the kind of personage with 'Omnium' on his cap--flung open the door. I contrived to enter, and walking down the shop--it was a department where they were selling ribbons and gloves and stockings and that kind of thing--came to a more spacious region devoted to picnic baskets and wicker furniture.
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