The following excerpt has been taken from The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.

"Draw the bolts," said the man with the black beard, "and if he comes—" He showed a revolver in his hand.
"That won't do," said the policeman; "that's murder."
"I know what country I'm in," said the man with the beard. "I'm going to let off at his legs. Draw the bolts."
"Not with that blinking thing going off behind me," said the barman, craning over the blind.
"Very well," said the man with the black beard, and stooping down, revolver ready, drew them himself. Barman, cabman, and policeman faced about.

How does the sentence-Not with that blinking thing going off behind me- fit here?

  • It's a refusal to comply with the order just given ("Draw the bolts"). It means "No, I won't draw the bolts, with that ... behind me". Not before a description, in response to an impositive constitutes conditional refusal -- not unless S. – John Lawler Apr 29 '15 at 17:54
  • @JohnLawler What is 'that blinking thing going off' in this context--the revolver? – Kaptan Singh Apr 29 '15 at 18:01
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    Some "thing" (perhaps the revolver) was "going off" behind the barman, or was apt to. It was a "blinking thing" because the barman was remarkably polite (especially for a barman) and didn't want to say, eg, "fucking thing". – Hot Licks Apr 29 '15 at 18:08

The blinking thing seems to be the revolver that the bearded man is carrying. If the barman goes to the door and draws the bolt, and the bearded man tries to shoot at the feet of the incomer, as is his plan, the revolver will go off behind the barman. And he is probably worried that the bullet will hit him instead of the incomer. This also seems to be the reason why the bearded man eventually decides to draw the bolt himself. In this case there will be no one between his revolver and the incomer. The adjective blinking can be referring to the shiny surface of the revolver. I might be wrong as I'm not completely aware of the context of this conversation.

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  • "Blinking" is a euphemistic epithet. – Hot Licks Apr 29 '15 at 18:09
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    I wasn't aware of this use of blinking. Thanks a lot! – Harshit Kandpal Apr 29 '15 at 18:11
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    I've got it. This use of 'blinking' confused me. Here 'blinking' is used as a milder term for 'bloody'. And he is talking about the revolver. – Kaptan Singh Apr 29 '15 at 18:21

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