“Through a Window” is a short story written by H. G. Wells, originally published under the title “At a Window” in the 25 August 1894 issue of Black and White magazine. The story is told as a third-person narrative.
As the story begins, Bailey is being laid down on a couch in his study, his legs set like a “double-barrelled mummy” in white wrappings. The window of his room looks out onto a river, the view of which Bailey becomes increasingly thankful for during his convalescence. Traffic is moving up and down all day, and after a few days Bailey begins to recognise some of the craft, and even to learn something of the habits of their crews. One particular launch passes in front of Bailey’s window four or five times a day, crewed by two “Oriental attendants”.
One morning, Bailey sees one of the Orientals running through the trees at a distant bend in the river, being chased by a group of men. To escape them, the Lascar[a] jumps into the water and swims across to Bailey’s side of the river. Bailey’s landlady comes in and tells him that the man is running amok stabbing people with his krees, a curved blade. Suddenly the Lascar appears on the balcony outside Bailey’s window, with the krees gripped between his teeth. A shot rings out and the Lascar collapses on top of Bailey’s legs, apparently dead. But then he raises himself and moves closer to what he knows must be his last victim. Bailey smashes a medicine bottle into the Lascar’s face, and the danger is passed.
In “Through a Window” Wells portrays the original bed-ridden or crippled hero confined to watching the world through a window, before being confronted by a threat against which he has little defence, a sub-genre perhaps best represented today by Alfred Hitchcock’s film Rear Window (1954), starring James Stewart. Wells adds the final twist, common in films today, of a malefactor apparently rendered harmless suddenly once again springing to life and exhibiting lethal aggression.
- Lascar is an archaic name for an oriental – originally Indian – sailor.