Part 1 out of 3
H. G. Wells
The Sun Dial Library
Garden City Publishing Company, Inc.
Garden City, New York
I. IN THE DINGEY OF THE "LADY VAIN"
II. THE MAN WHO WAS GOING NOWHERE
III. THE STRANGE FACE
IV. AT THE SCHOONER'S RAIL
V. THE MAN WHO HAD NOWHERE TO GO
VI. THE EVIL-LOOKING BOATMEN
VII. THE LOCKED DOOR
VIII. THE CRYING OF THE PUMA
IX. THE THING IN THE FOREST
X. THE CRYING OF THE MAN
XI. THE HUNTING OF THE MAN
XII. THE SAYERS OF THE LAW
XIII. THE PARLEY
XIV. DOCTOR MOREAU EXPLAINS
XV. CONCERNING THE BEAST FOLK
XVI. HOW THE BEAST FOLK TASTE BLOOD
XVII. A CATASTROPHE
XVIII. THE FINDING OF MOREAU
XIX. MONTGOMERY'S BANK HOLIDAY
XX. ALONE WITH THE BEAST FOLK
XXI. THE REVERSION OF THE BEAST FOLK
XXII. THE MAN ALONE
ON February the First 1887, the Lady Vain was lost by collision
with a derelict when about the latitude 1' S. and longitude 107'
On January the Fifth, 1888--that is eleven months and four days after--
my uncle, Edward Prendick, a private gentleman, who certainly went
aboard the Lady Vain at Callao, and who had been considered drowned,
was picked up in latitude 5' 3" S. and longitude 101' W. in a
small open boat of which the name was illegible, but which is
supposed to have belonged to the missing schooner Ipecacuanha.
He gave such a strange account of himself that he was supposed demented.
Subsequently he alleged that his mind was a blank from the moment
of his escape from the Lady Vain. His case was discussed among
psychologists at the time as a curious instance of the lapse
of memory consequent upon physical and mental stress.
The following narrative was found among his papers by the undersigned,
his nephew and heir, but unaccompanied by any definite request
The only island known to exist in the region in which my uncle was
picked up is Noble's Isle, a small volcanic islet and uninhabited.
It was visited in 1891 by H. M. S. Scorpion. A party of sailors
then landed, but found nothing living thereon except certain curious
white moths, some hogs and rabbits, and some rather peculiar rats.
So that this narrative is without confirmation in its most
essential particular. With that understood, there seems no harm
in putting this strange story before the public in accordance,
as I believe, with my uncle's intentions. There is at least
this much in its behalf: my uncle passed out of human knowledge
about latitude 5' S. and longitude 105' E., and reappeared
in the same part of the ocean after a space of eleven months.
In some way he must have lived during the interval. And it seems that
a schooner called the Ipecacuanha with a drunken captain, John Davies,
did start from Africa with a puma and certain other animals aboard
in January, 1887, that the vessel was well known at several ports
in the South Pacific, and that it finally disappeared from those seas
(with a considerable amount of copra aboard), sailing to its unknown
fate from Bayna in December, 1887, a date that tallies entirely with my
CHARLES EDWARD PRENDICK.
(The Story written by Edward Prendick.)
I. IN THE DINGEY OF THE "LADY VAIN."
I DO not propose to add anything to what has already been written
concerning the loss of the "Lady Vain." As everyone knows,
she collided with a derelict when ten days out from Callao.
The longboat, with seven of the crew, was picked up eighteen days after
by H. M. gunboat "Myrtle," and the story of their terrible privations
has become quite as well known as the far more horrible "Medusa" case.
But I have to add to the published story of the "Lady Vain"
another, possibly as horrible and far stranger. It has hitherto
been supposed that the four men who were in the dingey perished,
but this is incorrect. I have the best of evidence for this assertion:
I was one of the four men.
But in the first place I must state that there never were four men
in the dingey,--the number was three. Constans, who was "seen
by the captain to jump into the gig,"<1> luckily for us and unluckily
for himself did not reach us. He came down out of the tangle
of ropes under the stays of the smashed bowsprit, some small rope
caught his heel as he let go, and he hung for a moment head downward,
and then fell and struck a block or spar floating in the water.
We pulled towards him, but he never came up.
<1> Daily News, March 17, 1887.
I say lucky for us he did not reach us, and I might almost
say luckily for himself; for we had only a small breaker
of water and some soddened ship's biscuits with us, so sudden
had been the alarm, so unprepared the ship for any disaster.
We thought the people on the launch would be better provisioned
(though it seems they were not), and we tried to hail them. They could
not have heard us, and the next morning when the drizzle cleared,--
which was not until past midday,--we could see nothing of them. We could
not stand up to look about us, because of the pitching of the boat.
The two other men who had escaped so far with me were a man named Helmar,
a passenger like myself, and a seaman whose name I don't know,--
a short sturdy man, with a stammer.
We drifted famishing, and, after our water had come to an end,
tormented by an intolerable thirst, for eight days altogether.
After the second day the sea subsided slowly to a glassy calm. It is
quite impossible for the ordinary reader to imagine those eight days.
He has not, luckily for himself, anything in his memory to imagine with.
After the first day we said little to one another, and lay
in our places in the boat and stared at the horizon, or watched,
with eyes that grew larger and more haggard every day, the misery
and weakness gaining upon our companions. The sun became pitiless.
The water ended on the fourth day, and we were already thinking
strange things and saying them with our eyes; but it was, I think,
the sixth before Helmar gave voice to the thing we had all been thinking.
I remember our voices were dry and thin, so that we bent towards
one another and spared our words. I stood out against it with all
my might, was rather for scuttling the boat and perishing together
among the sharks that followed us; but when Helmar said that if his
proposal was accepted we should have drink, the sailor came round
I would not draw lots however, and in the night the sailor whispered
to Helmar again and again, and I sat in the bows with my clasp-knife
in my hand, though I doubt if I had the stuff in me to fight;
and in the morning I agreed to Helmar's proposal, and we handed
halfpence to find the odd man. The lot fell upon the sailor;
but he was the strongest of us and would not abide by it, and attacked
Helmar with his hands. They grappled together and almost stood up.
I crawled along the boat to them, intending to help Helmar by grasping
the sailor's leg; but the sailor stumbled with the swaying of the boat,
and the two fell upon the gunwale and rolled overboard together.
They sank like stones. I remember laughing at that, and wondering
why I laughed. The laugh caught me suddenly like a thing
I lay across one of the thwarts for I know not how long,
thinking that if I had the strength I would drink sea-water
and madden myself to die quickly. And even as I lay there I saw,
with no more interest than if it had been a picture, a sail come
up towards me over the sky-line. My mind must have been wandering,
and yet I remember all that happened, quite distinctly.
I remember how my head swayed with the seas, and the horizon
with the sail above it danced up and down; but I also remember
as distinctly that I had a persuasion that I was dead, and that I
thought what a jest it was that they should come too late by such
a little to catch me in my body.
For an endless period, as it seemed to me, I lay with my head
on the thwart watching the schooner (she was a little ship,
schooner-rigged fore and aft) come up out of the sea.
She kept tacking to and fro in a widening compass, for she was
sailing dead into the wind. It never entered my head to attempt
to attract attention, and I do not remember anything distinctly after
the sight of her side until I found myself in a little cabin aft.
There's a dim half-memory of being lifted up to the gangway, and of
a big red countenance covered with freckles and surrounded with red
hair staring at me over the bulwarks. I also had a disconnected
impression of a dark face, with extraordinary eyes, close to mine;
but that I thought was a nightmare, until I met it again.
I fancy I recollect some stuff being poured in between my teeth;
and that is all.
II. THE MAN WHO WAS GOING NOWHERE
THE cabin in which I found myself was small and rather untidy.
A youngish man with flaxen hair, a bristly straw-coloured moustache,
and a dropping nether lip, was sitting and holding my wrist.
For a minute we stared at each other without speaking.
He had watery grey eyes, oddly void of expression.
Then just overhead came a sound like an iron bedstead being
knocked about, and the low angry growling of some large animal.
At the same time the man spoke. He repeated his question,--"How do you
I think I said I felt all right. I could not recollect how I
had got there. He must have seen the question in my face,
for my voice was inaccessible to me.
"You were picked up in a boat, starving. The name on the boat
was the `Lady Vain,' and there were spots of blood on the gunwale."
At the same time my eye caught my hand, thin so that it looked
like a dirty skin-purse full of loose bones, and all the business
of the boat came back to me.
"Have some of this," said he, and gave me a dose of some
scarlet stuff, iced.
It tasted like blood, and made me feel stronger.
"You were in luck," said he, "to get picked up by a ship with a
medical man aboard." He spoke with a slobbering articulation,
with the ghost of a lisp.
"What ship is this?" I said slowly, hoarse from my long silence.
"It's a little trader from Arica and Callao. I never asked
where she came from in the beginning,--out of the land
of born fools, I guess. I'm a passenger myself, from Arica.
The silly ass who owns her,--he's captain too, named Davies,--
he's lost his certificate, or something. You know the kind of man,--
calls the thing the `Ipecacuanha,' of all silly, infernal names;
though when there's much of a sea without any wind, she certainly
(Then the noise overhead began again, a snarling growl
and the voice of a human being together. Then another voice,
telling some "Heaven-forsaken idiot" to desist.)
"You were nearly dead," said my interlocutor. "It was a very
near thing, indeed. But I've put some stuff into you now.
Notice your arm's sore? Injections. You've been insensible for nearly
I thought slowly. (I was distracted now by the yelping of a number
of dogs.) "Am I eligible for solid food?" I asked.
"Thanks to me," he said. "Even now the mutton is boiling."
"Yes," I said with assurance; "I could eat some mutton."
"But," said he with a momentary hesitation, "you know I'm dying to hear
of how you came to be alone in that boat. Damn that howling!"
I thought I detected a certain suspicion in his eyes.
He suddenly left the cabin, and I heard him in violent controversy
with some one, who seemed to me to talk gibberish in response to him.
The matter sounded as though it ended in blows, but in that I thought
my ears were mistaken. Then he shouted at the dogs, and returned to
"Well?" said he in the doorway. "You were just beginning to tell me."
I told him my name, Edward Prendick, and how I had taken to Natural
History as a relief from the dulness of my comfortable independence.
He seemed interested in this. "I've done some science myself. I did
my Biology at University College,--getting out the ovary of the earthworm
and the radula of the snail, and all that. Lord! It's ten years ago.
But go on! go on! tell me about the boat."
He was evidently satisfied with the frankness of my story,
which I told in concise sentences enough, for I felt horribly weak;
and when it was finished he reverted at once to the topic
of Natural History and his own biological studies. He began to
question me closely about Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street.
"Is Caplatzi still flourishing? What a shop that was!"
He had evidently been a very ordinary medical student, and drifted
incontinently to the topic of the music halls. He told me
"Left it all," he said, "ten years ago. How jolly it all used to be!
But I made a young ass of myself,--played myself out before I was
twenty-one. I daresay it's all different now. But I must look up
that ass of a cook, and see what he's done to your mutton."
The growling overhead was renewed, so suddenly and with so much savage
anger that it startled me. "What's that?" I called after him,
but the door had closed. He came back again with the boiled mutton,
and I was so excited by the appetising smell of it that I forgot
the noise of the beast that had troubled me.
After a day of alternate sleep and feeding I was so far recovered
as to be able to get from my bunk to the scuttle, and see the green
seas trying to keep pace with us. I judged the schooner was running
before the wind. Montgomery--that was the name of the flaxen-haired man--
came in again as I stood there, and I asked him for some clothes.
He lent me some duck things of his own, for those I had worn in the boat
had been thrown overboard. They were rather loose for me, for he was
large and long in his limbs. He told me casually that the captain
was three-parts drunk in his own cabin. As I assumed the clothes,
I began asking him some questions about the destination of the ship.
He said the ship was bound to Hawaii, but that it had to land
"Where?" said I.
"It's an island, where I live. So far as I know, it hasn't got
He stared at me with his nether lip dropping, and looked so wilfully
stupid of a sudden that it came into my head that he desired
to avoid my questions. I had the discretion to ask no more.
III. THE STRANGE FACE.
WE left the cabin and found a man at the companion obstructing
our way. He was standing on the ladder with his back to us,
peering over the combing of the hatchway. He was, I could see,
a misshapen man, short, broad, and clumsy, with a crooked back,
a hairy neck, and a head sunk between his shoulders. He was dressed
in dark-blue serge, and had peculiarly thick, coarse, black hair.
I heard the unseen dogs growl furiously, and forthwith he ducked back,--
coming into contact with the hand I put out to fend him off from myself.
He turned with animal swiftness.
In some indefinable way the black face thus flashed upon me
shocked me profoundly. It was a singularly deformed one.
The facial part projected, forming something dimly suggestive
of a muzzle, and the huge half-open mouth showed as big white teeth
as I had ever seen in a human mouth. His eyes were blood-shot
at the edges, with scarcely a rim of white round the hazel pupils.
There was a curious glow of excitement in his face.
"Confound you!" said Montgomery. "Why the devil don't you get
out of the way?"
The black-faced man started aside without a word.
I went on up the companion, staring at him instinctively
as I did so. Montgomery stayed at the foot for a moment.
"You have no business here, you know," he said in a deliberate tone.
"Your place is forward."
The black-faced man cowered. "They--won't have me forward."
He spoke slowly, with a queer, hoarse quality in his voice.
"Won't have you forward!" said Montgomery, in a menacing voice.
"But I tell you to go!" He was on the brink of saying something further,
then looked up at me suddenly and followed me up the ladder.
I had paused half way through the hatchway, looking back, still astonished
beyond measure at the grotesque ugliness of this black-faced creature.
I had never beheld such a repulsive and extraordinary face before,
and yet--if the contradiction is credible--I experienced at
the same time an odd feeling that in some way I had already
encountered exactly the features and gestures that now amazed me.
Afterwards it occurred to me that probably I had seen him as I
was lifted aboard; and yet that scarcely satisfied my suspicion
of a previous acquaintance. Yet how one could have set eyes on
so singular a face and yet have forgotten the precise occasion,
passed my imagination.
Montgomery's movement to follow me released my attention, and I
turned and looked about me at the flush deck of the little schooner.
I was already half prepared by the sounds I had heard for what I saw.
Certainly I never beheld a deck so dirty. It was littered with
scraps of carrot, shreds of green stuff, and indescribable filth.
Fastened by chains to the mainmast were a number of grisly staghounds,
who now began leaping and barking at me, and by the mizzen a huge puma was
cramped in a little iron cage far too small even to give it turning room.
Farther under the starboard bulwark were some big hutches containing
a number of rabbits, and a solitary llama was squeezed in a mere
box of a cage forward. The dogs were muzzled by leather straps.
The only human being on deck was a gaunt and silent sailor at
The patched and dirty spankers were tense before the wind,
and up aloft the little ship seemed carrying every sail she had.
The sky was clear, the sun midway down the western sky;
long waves, capped by the breeze with froth, were running with us.
We went past the steersman to the taffrail, and saw the water come
foaming under the stern and the bubbles go dancing and vanishing
in her wake. I turned and surveyed the unsavoury length of
"Is this an ocean menagerie?" said I.
"Looks like it," said Montgomery.
"What are these beasts for? Merchandise, curios? Does the captain
think he is going to sell them somewhere in the South Seas?"
"It looks like it, doesn't it?" said Montgomery, and turned towards
the wake again.
Suddenly we heard a yelp and a volley of furious blasphemy
from the companion hatchway, and the deformed man with the black
face came up hurriedly. He was immediately followed by a heavy
red-haired man in a white cap. At the sight of the former
the staghounds, who had all tired of barking at me by this time,
became furiously excited, howling and leaping against their chains.
The black hesitated before them, and this gave the red-haired man
time to come up with him and deliver a tremendous blow between
the shoulder-blades. The poor devil went down like a felled ox,
and rolled in the dirt among the furiously excited dogs.
It was lucky for him that they were muzzled. The red-haired man gave
a yawp of exultation and stood staggering, and as it seemed to me
in serious danger of either going backwards down the companion hatchway
or forwards upon his victim.
So soon as the second man had appeared, Montgomery had started forward.
"Steady on there!" he cried, in a tone of remonstrance.
A couple of sailors appeared on the forecastle. The black-faced man,
howling in a singular voice rolled about under the feet of the dogs.
No one attempted to help him. The brutes did their best to worry him,
butting their muzzles at him. There was a quick dance of their
lithe grey-figured bodies over the clumsy, prostrate figure.
The sailors forward shouted, as though it was admirable sport.
Montgomery gave an angry exclamation, and went striding down
the deck, and I followed him. The black-faced man scrambled
up and staggered forward, going and leaning over the bulwark
by the main shrouds, where he remained, panting and glaring
over his shoulder at the dogs. The red-haired man laughed a
"Look here, Captain," said Montgomery, with his lisp a little accentuated,
gripping the elbows of the red-haired man, "this won't do!"
I stood behind Montgomery. The captain came half round,
and regarded him with the dull and solemn eyes of a drunken man.
"Wha' won't do?" he said, and added, after looking sleepily into
Montgomery's face for a minute, "Blasted Sawbones!"
With a sudden movement he shook his arm free, and after two
ineffectual attempts stuck his freckled fists into his side pockets.
"That man's a passenger," said Montgomery. "I'd advise you to keep
your hands off him."
"Go to hell!" said the captain, loudly. He suddenly turned
and staggered towards the side. "Do what I like on my own ship,"
I think Montgomery might have left him then, seeing the brute was drunk;
but he only turned a shade paler, and followed the captain
to the bulwarks.
"Look you here, Captain," he said; "that man of mine is not to be
ill-treated. He has been hazed ever since he came aboard."
For a minute, alcoholic fumes kept the captain speechless.
"Blasted Sawbones!" was all he considered necessary.
I could see that Montgomery had one of those slow, pertinacious tempers
that will warm day after day to a white heat, and never again
cool to forgiveness; and I saw too that this quarrel had been
some time growing. "The man's drunk," said I, perhaps officiously;
"you'll do no good."
Montgomery gave an ugly twist to his dropping lip. "He's always drunk.
Do you think that excuses his assaulting his passengers?"
"My ship," began the captain, waving his hand unsteadily
towards the cages, "was a clean ship. Look at it now!"
It was certainly anything but clean. "Crew," continued the captain,
"clean, respectable crew."
"You agreed to take the beasts."
"I wish I'd never set eyes on your infernal island. What the devil--
want beasts for on an island like that? Then, that man of yours--
understood he was a man. He's a lunatic; and he hadn't no business aft.
Do you think the whole damned ship belongs to you?"
"Your sailors began to haze the poor devil as soon as he came aboard."
"That's just what he is--he's a devil! an ugly devil! My men
can't stand him. I can't stand him. None of us can't stand him.
Nor you either!"
Montgomery turned away. "You leave that man alone, anyhow," he said,
nodding his head as he spoke.
But the captain meant to quarrel now. He raised his voice. "If he comes
this end of the ship again I'll cut his insides out, I tell you.
Cut out his blasted insides! Who are you, to tell me what I'm to do?
I tell you I'm captain of this ship,--captain and owner.
I'm the law here, I tell you,--the law and the prophets.
I bargained to take a man and his attendant to and from Arica,
and bring back some animals. I never bargained to carry a mad devil
and a silly Sawbones, a--"
Well, never mind what he called Montgomery. I saw the latter take
a step forward, and interposed. "He's drunk," said I. The captain
began some abuse even fouler than the last. "Shut up!" I said,
turning on him sharply, for I had seen danger in Montgomery's white face.
With that I brought the downpour on myself.
However, I was glad to avert what was uncommonly near a scuffle,
even at the price of the captain's drunken ill-will. I do not think
I have ever heard quite so much vile language come in a continuous
stream from any man's lips before, though I have frequented eccentric
company enough. I found some of it hard to endure, though I am
a mild-tempered man; but, certainly, when I told the captain to
"shut up" I had forgotten that I was merely a bit of human flotsam,
cut off from my resources and with my fare unpaid; a mere casual
dependant on the bounty, or speculative enterprise, of the ship.
He reminded me of it with considerable vigour; but at any rate I prevented
IV. AT THE SCHOONER'S RAIL.
THAT night land was sighted after sundown, and the schooner
hove to. Montgomery intimated that was his destination.
It was too far to see any details; it seemed to me then simply
a low-lying patch of dim blue in the uncertain blue-grey sea.
An almost vertical streak of smoke went up from it into the sky.
The captain was not on deck when it was sighted. After he had vented
his wrath on me he had staggered below, and I understand he went to sleep
on the floor of his own cabin. The mate practically assumed the command.
He was the gaunt, taciturn individual we had seen at the wheel.
Apparently he was in an evil temper with Montgomery. He took
not the slightest notice of either of us. We dined with him in a
sulky silence, after a few ineffectual efforts on my part to talk.
It struck me too that the men regarded my companion and his animals
in a singularly unfriendly manner. I found Montgomery very reticent
about his purpose with these creatures, and about his destination;
and though I was sensible of a growing curiosity as to both, I did not
We remained talking on the quarter deck until the sky was thick
with stars. Except for an occasional sound in the yellow-lit forecastle
and a movement of the animals now and then, the night was very still.
The puma lay crouched together, watching us with shining eyes, a black
heap in the corner of its cage. Montgomery produced some cigars.
He talked to me of London in a tone of half-painful reminiscence,
asking all kinds of questions about changes that had taken place.
He spoke like a man who had loved his life there, and had been
suddenly and irrevocably cut off from it. I gossiped as well as I
could of this and that. All the time the strangeness of him was
shaping itself in my mind; and as I talked I peered at his odd,
pallid face in the dim light of the binnacle lantern behind me. Then I
looked out at the darkling sea, where in the dimness his little island
This man, it seemed to me, had come out of Immensity merely to save
my life. To-morrow he would drop over the side, and vanish again out
of my existence. Even had it been under commonplace circumstances,
it would have made me a trifle thoughtful; but in the first place was
the singularity of an educated man living on this unknown little island,
and coupled with that the extraordinary nature of his luggage.
I found myself repeating the captain's question, What did he want
with the beasts? Why, too, had he pretended they were not his when I
had remarked about them at first? Then, again, in his personal attendant
there was a bizarre quality which had impressed me profoundly.
These circumstances threw a haze of mystery round the man. They laid
hold of my imagination, and hampered my tongue.
Towards midnight our talk of London died away, and we stood
side by side leaning over the bulwarks and staring dreamily
over the silent, starlit sea, each pursuing his own thoughts.
It was the atmosphere for sentiment, and I began upon my gratitude.
"If I may say it," said I, after a time, "you have saved my life."
"Chance," he answered. "Just chance."
"I prefer to make my thanks to the accessible agent."
"Thank no one. You had the need, and I had the knowledge;
and I injected and fed you much as I might have collected a specimen.
I was bored and wanted something to do. If I'd been jaded that day,
or hadn't liked your face, well--it's a curious question where you would
have been now!"
This damped my mood a little. "At any rate," I began.
"It's chance, I tell you," he interrupted, "as everything is in
a man's life. Only the asses won't see it! Why am I here now,
an outcast from civilisation, instead of being a happy man enjoying
all the pleasures of London? Simply because eleven years ago--
I lost my head for ten minutes on a foggy night."
He stopped. "Yes?" said I.
We relapsed into silence. Presently he laughed.
"There's something in this starlight that loosens one's tongue.
I'm an ass, and yet somehow I would like to tell you."
"Whatever you tell me, you may rely upon my keeping to myself--
if that's it."
He was on the point of beginning, and then shook his head, doubtfully.
"Don't," said I. "It is all the same to me. After all, it is better
to keep your secret. There's nothing gained but a little relief
if I respect your confidence. If I don't--well?"
He grunted undecidedly. I felt I had him at a disadvantage, had caught
him in the mood of indiscretion; and to tell the truth I was not curious
to learn what might have driven a young medical student out of London.
I have an imagination. I shrugged my shoulders and turned away.
Over the taffrail leant a silent black figure, watching the stars.
It was Montgomery's strange attendant. It looked over its shoulder
quickly with my movement, then looked away again.
It may seem a little thing to you, perhaps, but it came like a sudden
blow to me. The only light near us was a lantern at the wheel.
The creature's face was turned for one brief instant out of the dimness
of the stern towards this illumination, and I saw that the eyes
that glanced at me shone with a pale-green light. I did not know then
that a reddish luminosity, at least, is not uncommon in human eyes.
The thing came to me as stark inhumanity. That black figure with its
eyes of fire struck down through all my adult thoughts and feelings,
and for a moment the forgotten horrors of childhood came back to my mind.
Then the effect passed as it had come. An uncouth black figure
of a man, a figure of no particular import, hung over the taffrail
against the starlight, and I found Montgomery was speaking
"I'm thinking of turning in, then," said he, "if you've had enough
I answered him incongruously. We went below, and he wished me
good-night at the door of my cabin.
That night I had some very unpleasant dreams. The waning
moon rose late. Its light struck a ghostly white beam across
my cabin, and made an ominous shape on the planking by my bunk.
Then the staghounds woke, and began howling and baying;
so that I dreamt fitfully, and scarcely slept until the approach
V. THE MAN WHO HAD NOWHERE TO GO.
IN the early morning (it was the second morning after my recovery,
and I believe the fourth after I was picked up), I awoke through an avenue
of tumultuous dreams,--dreams of guns and howling mobs,--and became
sensible of a hoarse shouting above me. I rubbed my eyes and lay
listening to the noise, doubtful for a little while of my whereabouts.
Then came a sudden pattering of bare feet, the sound of heavy objects
being thrown about, a violent creaking and the rattling of chains.
I heard the swish of the water as the ship was suddenly brought round,
and a foamy yellow-green wave flew across the little round
window and left it streaming. I jumped into my clothes and went
As I came up the ladder I saw against the flushed sky--for the sun
was just rising--the broad back and red hair of the captain,
and over his shoulder the puma spinning from a tackle rigged on
to the mizzen spanker-boom.
The poor brute seemed horribly scared, and crouched in the bottom
of its little cage.
"Overboard with 'em!" bawled the captain. "Overboard with 'em!
We'll have a clean ship soon of the whole bilin' of 'em."
He stood in my way, so that I had perforce to tap his shoulder
to come on deck. He came round with a start, and staggered back
a few paces to stare at me. It needed no expert eye to tell
that the man was still drunk.
"Hullo!" said he, stupidly; and then with a light coming into his eyes,
"Why, it's Mister--Mister?"
"Prendick," said I.
"Pendick be damned!" said he. "Shut-up,--that's your name.
It was no good answering the brute; but I certainly did not expect
his next move. He held out his hand to the gangway by which Montgomery
stood talking to a massive grey-haired man in dirty-blue flannels,
who had apparently just come aboard.
"That way, Mister Blasted Shut-up! that way!" roared the captain.
Montgomery and his companion turned as he spoke.
"What do you mean?" I said.
"That way, Mister Blasted Shut-up,--that's what I mean!
Overboard, Mister Shut-up,--and sharp! We're cleaning the ship out,--
cleaning the whole blessed ship out; and overboard you go!"
I stared at him dumfounded. Then it occurred to me that it was
exactly the thing I wanted. The lost prospect of a journey as sole
passenger with this quarrelsome sot was not one to mourn over.
I turned towards Montgomery.
"Can't have you," said Montgomery's companion, concisely.
"You can't have me!" said I, aghast. He had the squarest and most
resolute face I ever set eyes upon.
"Look here," I began, turning to the captain.
"Overboard!" said the captain. "This ship aint for beasts
and cannibals and worse than beasts, any more. Overboard you go,
Mister Shut-up. If they can't have you, you goes overboard.
But, anyhow, you go--with your friends. I've done with this blessed
island for evermore, amen! I've had enough of it."
"But, Montgomery," I appealed.
He distorted his lower lip, and nodded his head hopelessly at
the grey-haired man beside him, to indicate his powerlessness to help me.
"I'll see to you, presently," said the captain.
Then began a curious three-cornered altercation.
Alternately I appealed to one and another of the three men,--
first to the grey-haired man to let me land, and then to the drunken
captain to keep me aboard. I even bawled entreaties to the sailors.
Montgomery said never a word, only shook his head.
"You're going overboard, I tell you," was the captain's refrain.
"Law be damned! I'm king here." At last I must confess
my voice suddenly broke in the middle of a vigorous threat.
I felt a gust of hysterical petulance, and went aft and stared dismally
Meanwhile the sailors progressed rapidly with the task of
unshipping the packages and caged animals. A large launch,
with two standing lugs, lay under the lea of the schooner;
and into this the strange assortment of goods were swung.
I did not then see the hands from the island that were receiving
the packages, for the hull of the launch was hidden from me
by the side of the schooner. Neither Montgomery nor his companion
took the slightest notice of me, but busied themselves in assisting
and directing the four or five sailors who were unloading the goods.
The captain went forward interfering rather than assisting.
I was alternately despairful and desperate. Once or twice
as I stood waiting there for things to accomplish themselves,
I could not resist an impulse to laugh at my miserable quandary.
I felt all the wretcheder for the lack of a breakfast.
Hunger and a lack of blood-corpuscles take all the manhood from a man.
I perceived pretty clearly that I had not the stamina
either to resist what the captain chose to do to expel me,
or to force myself upon Montgomery and his companion.
So I waited passively upon fate; and the work of transferring
Montgomery's possessions to the launch went on as if I did
Presently that work was finished, and then came a struggle.
I was hauled, resisting weakly enough, to the gangway.
Even then I noticed the oddness of the brown faces of the men who were
with Montgomery in the launch; but the launch was now fully laden,
and was shoved off hastily. A broadening gap of green water
appeared under me, and I pushed back with all my strength to avoid
falling headlong. The hands in the launch shouted derisively,
and I heard Montgomery curse at them; and then the captain,
the mate, and one of the seamen helping him, ran me aft towards
The dingey of the "Lady Vain" had been towing behind; it was
half full of water, had no oars, and was quite unvictualled.
I refused to go aboard her, and flung myself full length on the deck.
In the end, they swung me into her by a rope (for they had no
stern ladder), and then they cut me adrift. I drifted slowly
from the schooner. In a kind of stupor I watched all hands take
to the rigging, and slowly but surely she came round to the wind;
the sails fluttered, and then bellied out as the wind came into them.
I stared at her weather-beaten side heeling steeply towards me;
and then she passed out of my range of view.
I did not turn my head to follow her. At first I could scarcely
believe what had happened. I crouched in the bottom of the dingey,
stunned, and staring blankly at the vacant, oily sea. Then I realized
that I was in that little hell of mine again, now half swamped;
and looking back over the gunwale, I saw the schooner standing away
from me, with the red-haired captain mocking at me over the taffrail,
and turning towards the island saw the launch growing smaller as she
approached the beach.
Abruptly the cruelty of this desertion became clear to me.
I had no means of reaching the land unless I should chance to drift there.
I was still weak, you must remember, from my exposure in the boat;
I was empty and very faint, or I should have had more heart.
But as it was I suddenly began to sob and weep, as I had never done
since I was a little child. The tears ran down my face. In a passion
of despair I struck with my fists at the water in the bottom of the boat,
and kicked savagely at the gunwale. I prayed aloud for God to let
VI. THE EVIL-LOOKING BOATMEN.
BUT the islanders, seeing that I was really adrift, took pity on me.
I drifted very slowly to the eastward, approaching the island slantingly;
and presently I saw, with hysterical relief, the launch come round and
return towards me. She was heavily laden, and I could make out as she
drew nearer Montgomery's white-haired, broad-shouldered companion sitting
cramped up with the dogs and several packing-cases in the stern sheets.
This individual stared fixedly at me without moving or speaking.
The black-faced cripple was glaring at me as fixedly in the bows
near the puma. There were three other men besides,--three strange
brutish-looking fellows, at whom the staghounds were snarling savagely.
Montgomery, who was steering, brought the boat by me, and rising,
caught and fastened my painter to the tiller to tow me, for there was no
I had recovered from my hysterical phase by this time
and answered his hail, as he approached, bravely enough.
I told him the dingey was nearly swamped, and he reached me a piggin.
I was jerked back as the rope tightened between the boats.
For some time I was busy baling.
It was not until I had got the water under (for the water
in the dingey had been shipped; the boat was perfectly sound)
that I had leisure to look at the people in the launch again.
The white-haired man I found was still regarding me steadfastly,
but with an expression, as I now fancied, of some perplexity.
When my eyes met his, he looked down at the staghound that sat
between his knees. He was a powerfully-built man, as I have said,
with a fine forehead and rather heavy features; but his eyes
had that odd drooping of the skin above the lids which often
comes with advancing years, and the fall of his heavy mouth
at the corners gave him an expression of pugnacious resolution.
He talked to Montgomery in a tone too low for me to hear.
From him my eyes travelled to his three men; and a strange crew they were.
I saw only their faces, yet there was something in their faces--
I knew not what--that gave me a queer spasm of disgust.
I looked steadily at them, and the impression did not pass,
though I failed to see what had occasioned it. They seemed
to me then to be brown men; but their limbs were oddly swathed
in some thin, dirty, white stuff down even to the fingers and feet:
I have never seen men so wrapped up before, and women so only in the East.
They wore turbans too, and thereunder peered out their elfin
faces at me,--faces with protruding lower-jaws and bright eyes.
They had lank black hair, almost like horsehair, and seemed
as they sat to exceed in stature any race of men I have seen.
The white-haired man, who I knew was a good six feet in height,
sat a head below any one of the three. I found afterwards that really
none were taller than myself; but their bodies were abnormally long,
and the thigh-part of the leg short and curiously twisted.
At any rate, they were an amazingly ugly gang, and over the heads
of them under the forward lug peered the black face of the man whose
eyes were luminous in the dark. As I stared at them, they met my gaze;
and then first one and then another turned away from my direct stare,
and looked at me in an odd, furtive manner. It occurred to me that I
was perhaps annoying them, and I turned my attention to the island
we were approaching.
It was low, and covered with thick vegetation,--chiefly a kind of palm,
that was new to me. From one point a thin white thread of vapour rose
slantingly to an immense height, and then frayed out like a down feather.
We were now within the embrace of a broad bay flanked on either
hand by a low promontory. The beach was of dull-grey sand,
and sloped steeply up to a ridge, perhaps sixty or seventy feet above
the sea-level, and irregularly set with trees and undergrowth.
Half way up was a square enclosure of some greyish stone, which I found
subsequently was built partly of coral and partly of pumiceous lava.
Two thatched roofs peeped from within this enclosure.
A man stood awaiting us at the water's edge. I fancied while we
were still far off that I saw some other and very grotesque-looking
creatures scuttle into the bushes upon the slope; but I saw nothing
of these as we drew nearer. This man was of a moderate size,
and with a black negroid face. He had a large, almost lipless,
mouth, extraordinary lank arms, long thin feet, and bow-legs,
and stood with his heavy face thrust forward staring at us.
He was dressed like Montgomery and his white-haired companion,
in jacket and trousers of blue serge. As we came still nearer,
this individual began to run to and fro on the beach, making the most
At a word of command from Montgomery, the four men in the launch
sprang up, and with singularly awkward gestures struck the lugs.
Montgomery steered us round and into a narrow little dock excavated
in the beach. Then the man on the beach hastened towards us.
This dock, as I call it, was really a mere ditch just long
enough at this phase of the tide to take the longboat.
I heard the bows ground in the sand, staved the dingey off the rudder
of the big boat with my piggin, and freeing the painter, landed.
The three muffled men, with the clumsiest movements, scrambled out
upon the sand, and forthwith set to landing the cargo, assisted by
the man on the beach. I was struck especially by the curious
movements of the legs of the three swathed and bandaged boatmen,--
not stiff they were, but distorted in some odd way, almost as if they
were jointed in the wrong place. The dogs were still snarling,
and strained at their chains after these men, as the white-haired
man landed with them. The three big fellows spoke to one another
in odd guttural tones, and the man who had waited for us on
the beach began chattering to them excitedly--a foreign language,
as I fancied--as they laid hands on some bales piled near the stern.
Somewhere I had heard such a voice before, and I could not think where.
The white-haired man stood, holding in a tumult of six dogs, and bawling
orders over their din. Montgomery, having unshipped the rudder,
landed likewise, and all set to work at unloading. I was too faint,
what with my long fast and the sun beating down on my bare head, to offer
Presently the white-haired man seemed to recollect my presence,
and came up to me.
"You look," said he, "as though you had scarcely breakfasted."
His little eyes were a brilliant black under his heavy brows.
"I must apologise for that. Now you are our guest, we must
make you comfortable,--though you are uninvited, you know."
He looked keenly into my face. "Montgomery says you are an educated man,
Mr. Prendick; says you know something of science. May I ask what
I told him I had spent some years at the Royal College of Science,
and had done some researches in biology under Huxley. He raised
his eyebrows slightly at that.
"That alters the case a little, Mr. Prendick," he said,
with a trifle more respect in his manner. "As it happens,
we are biologists here. This is a biological station--of a sort."
His eye rested on the men in white who were busily hauling the puma,
on rollers, towards the walled yard. "I and Montgomery, at least,"
he added. Then, "When you will be able to get away, I can't say.
We're off the track to anywhere. We see a ship once in a twelve-month
He left me abruptly, and went up the beach past this group, and I
think entered the enclosure. The other two men were with Montgomery,
erecting a pile of smaller packages on a low-wheeled truck.
The llama was still on the launch with the rabbit hutches;
the staghounds were still lashed to the thwarts.
The pile of things completed, all three men laid hold of the truck
and began shoving the ton-weight or so upon it after the puma.
Presently Montgomery left them, and coming back to me held out
"I'm glad," said he, "for my own part. That captain was a silly ass.
He'd have made things lively for you."
"lt was you," said I, "that saved me again".
"That depends. You'll find this island an infernally rum place,
I promise you. I'd watch my goings carefully, if I were you.
He--" He hesitated, and seemed to alter his mind about what
was on his lips. "I wish you'd help me with these rabbits,"
His procedure with the rabbits was singular. I waded
in with him, and helped him lug one of the hutches ashore.
No sooner was that done than he opened the door of it, and tilting
the thing on one end turned its living contents out on the ground.
They fell in a struggling heap one on the top of the other.
He clapped his hands, and forthwith they went off with that hopping
run of theirs, fifteen or twenty of them I should think, up
"Increase and multiply, my friends," said Montgomery.
"Replenish the island. Hitherto we've had a certain lack of meat here."
As I watched them disappearing, the white-haired man returned with a
brandy-flask and some biscuits. "Something to go on with, Prendick,"
said he, in a far more familiar tone than before. I made no ado,
but set to work on the biscuits at once, while the white-haired man
helped Montgomery to release about a score more of the rabbits.
Three big hutches, however, went up to the house with the puma.
The brandy I did not touch, for I have been an abstainer from
VII. "THE LOCKED DOOR."
THE reader will perhaps understand that at first everything was so strange
about me, and my position was the outcome of such unexpected adventures,
that I had no discernment of the relative strangeness of this
or that thing. I followed the llama up the beach, and was overtaken
by Montgomery, who asked me not to enter the stone enclosure.
I noticed then that the puma in its cage and the pile of packages
had been placed outside the entrance to this quadrangle.
I turned and saw that the launch had now been unloaded, run out again,
and was being beached, and the white-haired man was walking towards us.
He addressed Montgomery.
"And now comes the problem of this uninvited guest. What are we
to do with him?"
"He knows something of science," said Montgomery.
"I'm itching to get to work again--with this new stuff,"
said the white-haired man, noddding towards the enclosure.
His eyes grew brighter.
"I daresay you are," said Montgomery, in anything but a cordial tone.
"We can't send him over there, and we can't spare the time to build
him a new shanty; and we certainly can't take him into our confidence
"I'm in your hands," said I. I had no idea of what he meant
by "over there."
"I've been thinking of the same things," Montgomery answered.
"There's my room with the outer door--"
"That's it," said the elder man, promptly, looking at Montgomery;
and all three of us went towards the enclosure. "I'm sorry to make
a mystery, Mr. Prendick; but you'll remember you're uninvited.
Our little establishment here contains a secret or so, is a kind
of Blue-Beard's chamber, in fact. Nothing very dreadful, really, to a
sane man; but just now, as we don't know you--"
"Decidedly," said I, "I should be a fool to take offence at any want
He twisted his heavy mouth into a faint smile--he was one of those
saturnine people who smile with the corners of the mouth down,--
and bowed his acknowledgment of my complaisance. The main entrance
to the enclosure we passed; it was a heavy wooden gate, framed in iron
and locked, with the cargo of the launch piled outside it, and at
the corner we came to a small doorway I had not previously observed.
The white-haired man produced a bundle of keys from the pocket
of his greasy blue jacket, opened this door, and entered.
His keys, and the elaborate locking-up of the place even while it
was still under his eye, struck me as peculiar. I followed him,
and found myself in a small apartment, plainly but not uncomfortably
furnished and with its inner door, which was slightly ajar, opening into
a paved courtyard. This inner door Montgomery at once closed.
A hammock was slung across the darker corner of the room, and a
small unglazed window defended by an iron bar looked out towards
This the white-haired man told me was to be my apartment;
and the inner door, which "for fear of accidents," he said,
he would lock on the other side, was my limit inward.
He called my attention to a convenient deck-chair before the window,
and to an array of old books, chiefly, I found, surgical works
and editions of the Latin and Greek classics (languages I
cannot read with any comfort), on a shelf near the hammock.
He left the room by the outer door, as if to avoid opening the inner
"We usually have our meals in here," said Montgomery, and then,
as if in doubt, went out after the other. "Moreau!" I heard
him call, and for the moment I do not think I noticed.
Then as I handled the books on the shelf it came up in consciousness:
Where had I heard the name of Moreau before? I sat down before
the window, took out the biscuits that still remained to me,
and ate them with an excellent appetite. Moreau!
Through the window I saw one of those unaccountable men in white, lugging a
packing-case along the beach. Presently the window-frame hid him.
Then I heard a key inserted and turned in the lock behind me.
After a little while I heard through the locked door the noise
of the staghounds, that had now been brought up from the beach.
They were not barking, but sniffing and growling in a curious fashion.
I could hear the rapid patter of their feet, and Montgomery's voice
I was very much impressed by the elaborate secrecy of these two men
regarding the contents of the place, and for some time I was thinking
of that and of the unaccountable familiarity of the name of Moreau;
but so odd is the human memory that I could not then recall that
well-known name in its proper connection. From that my thoughts
went to the indefinable queerness of the deformed man on the beach.
I never saw such a gait, such odd motions as he pulled at the box.
I recalled that none of these men had spoken to me, though most
of them I had found looking at me at one time or another in a
peculiarly furtive manner, quite unlike the frank stare of your
unsophisticated savage. Indeed, they had all seemed remarkably taciturn,
and when they did speak, endowed with very uncanny voices.
What was wrong with them? Then I recalled the eyes of Montgomery's
Just as I was thinking of him he came in. He was now dressed in white,
and carried a little tray with some coffee and boiled vegetables thereon.
I could hardly repress a shuddering recoil as he came, bending amiably,
and placed the tray before me on the table. Then astonishment
paralysed me. Under his stringy black locks I saw his ear;
it jumped upon me suddenly close to my face. The man had pointed ears,
covered with a fine brown fur!
"Your breakfast, sair," he said.
I stared at his face without attempting to answer him. He turned
and went towards the door, regarding me oddly over his shoulder.
I followed him out with my eyes; and as I did so, by some odd trick
of unconscious cerebration, there came surging into my head the phrase,
"The Moreau Hollows"--was it? "The Moreau--" Ah! It sent my memory
back ten years. "The Moreau Horrors!" The phrase drifted loose
in my mind for a moment, and then I saw it in red lettering on a little
buff-coloured pamphlet, to read which made one shiver and creep.
Then I remembered distinctly all about it. That long-forgotten
pamphlet came back with startling vividness to my mind.
I had been a mere lad then, and Moreau was, I suppose, about fifty,--
a prominent and masterful physiologist, well-known in scientific
circles for his extraordinary imagination and his brutal directness
Was this the same Moreau? He had published some very astonishing
facts in connection with the transfusion of blood, and in
addition was known to be doing valuable work on morbid growths.
Then suddenly his career was closed. He had to leave England.
A journalist obtained access to his laboratory in the capacity
of laboratory-assistant, with the deliberate intention of making
sensational exposures; and by the help of a shocking accident
(if it was an accident), his gruesome pamphlet became notorious.
On the day of its publication a wretched dog, flayed and
otherwise mutilated, escaped from Moreau's house. It was in
the silly season, and a prominent editor, a cousin of the temporary
laboratory-assistant, appealed to the conscience of the nation.
It was not the first time that conscience has turned against the methods
of research. The doctor was simply howled out of the country.
It may be that he deserved to be; but I still think that the tepid
support of his fellow-investigators and his desertion by the great
body of scientific workers was a shameful thing. Yet some of
his experiments, by the journalist's account, were wantonly cruel.
He might perhaps have purchased his social peace by abandoning
his investigations; but he apparently preferred the latter, as most men
would who have once fallen under the overmastering spell of research.
He was unmarried, and had indeed nothing but his own interest
I felt convinced that this must be the same man. Everything pointed
to it. It dawned upon me to what end the puma and the other animals--
which had now been brought with other luggage into the enclosure
behind the house--were destined; and a curious faint odour,
the halitus of something familiar, an odour that had been in
the background of my consciousness hitherto, suddenly came forward
into the forefront of my thoughts. It was the antiseptic odour
of the dissecting-room. I heard the puma growling through the wall,
and one of the dogs yelped as though it had been struck.
Yet surely, and especially to another scientific man, there was
nothing so horrible in vivisection as to account for this secrecy;
and by some odd leap in my thoughts the pointed ears and luminous
eyes of Montgomery's attendant came back again before me with
the sharpest definition. I stared before me out at the green sea,
frothing under a freshening breeze, and let these and other strange
memories of the last few days chase one another through my mind.
What could it all mean? A locked enclosure on a lonely island,
a notorious vivisector, and these crippled and distorted men?
VIII. THE CRYING OF THE PUMA.
MONTGOMERY interrupted my tangle of mystification and suspicion
about one o'clock, and his grotesque attendant followed him
with a tray bearing bread, some herbs and other eatables,
a flask of whiskey, a jug of water, and three glasses and knives.
I glanced askance at this strange creature, and found him watching
me with his queer, restless eyes. Montgomery said he would lunch
with me, but that Moreau was too preoccupied with some work
"Moreau!" said I. "I know that name."
"The devil you do!" said he. "What an ass I was to mention it to you!
I might have thought. Anyhow, it will give you an inkling
of our--mysteries. Whiskey?"
"No, thanks; I'm an abstainer."
"I wish I'd been. But it's no use locking the door
after the steed is stolen. It was that infernal
stuff which led to my coming here,--that, and a foggy night.
I thought myself in luck at the time, when Moreau offered to get me off.
"Montgomery," said I, suddenly, as the outer door closed, "why has
your man pointed ears?"
"Damn!" he said, over his first mouthful of food. He stared at me
for a moment, and then repeated, "Pointed ears?"
"Little points to them," said I, as calmly as possible, with a catch
in my breath; "and a fine black fur at the edges?"
He helped himself to whiskey and water with great deliberation.
"I was under the impression--that his hair covered his ears."
"I saw them as he stooped by me to put that coffee you sent to me
on the table. And his eyes shine in the dark."
By this time Montgomery had recovered from the surprise of my question.
"I always thought," he said deliberately, with a certain
accentuation of his flavouring of lisp, "that there was something
the matter with his ears, from the way he covered them.
What were they like?"
I was persuaded from his manner that this ignorance was a pretence.
Still, I could hardly tell the man that I thought him a liar.
"Pointed," I said; "rather small and furry,--distinctly furry.
But the whole man is one of the strangest beings I ever set
A sharp, hoarse cry of animal pain came from the enclosure behind us.
Its depth and volume testified to the puma. I saw Montgomery wince.
"Yes?" he said.
"Where did you pick up the creature?"
"San Francisco. He's an ugly brute, I admit. Half-witted, you know.
Can't remember where he came from. But I'm used to him, you know.
We both are. How does he strike you?"
"He's unnatural," I said. "There's something about him--
don't think me fanciful, but it gives me a nasty little sensation,
a tightening of my muscles, when he comes near me. It's a touch--
of the diabolical, in fact."
Montgomery had stopped eating while I told him this. "Rum!" he said.
"I can't see it." He resumed his meal. "I had no idea of it,"
he said, and masticated. "The crew of the schooner must have
felt it the same. Made a dead set at the poor devil. You saw
Suddenly the puma howled again, this time more painfully.
Montgomery swore under his breath. I had half a mind to attack him
about the men on the beach. Then the poor brute within gave vent
to a series of short, sharp cries.
"Your men on the beach," said I; "what race are they?"
"Excellent fellows, aren't they?" said he, absentmindedly,
knitting his brows as the animal yelled out sharply.
I said no more. There was another outcry worse than the former.
He looked at me with his dull grey eyes, and then took some
more whiskey. He tried to draw me into a discussion about alcohol,
professing to have saved my life with it. He seemed anxious
to lay stress on the fact that I owed my life to him. I answered
Presently our meal came to an end; the misshapen monster with
the pointed ears cleared the remains away, and Montgomery left
me alone in the room again. All the time he had been in a state
of ill-concealed irritation at the noise of the vivisected puma.
He had spoken of his odd want of nerve, and left me to the
I found myself that the cries were singularly irritating,
and they grew in depth and intensity as the afternoon wore on.
They were painful at first, but their constant resurgence at last
altogether upset my balance. I flung aside a crib of Horace I
had been reading, and began to clench my fists, to bite my lips,
and to pace the room. Presently I got to stopping my ears with
The emotional appeal of those yells grew upon me steadily,
grew at last to such an exquisite expression of suffering that I
could stand it in that confined room no longer. I stepped
out of the door into the slumberous heat of the late afternoon,
and walking past the main entrance--locked again, I noticed--
turned the corner of the wall
The crying sounded even louder out of doors. It was as if all the pain
in the world had found a voice. Yet had I known such pain was in
the next room, and had it been dumb, I believe--I have thought since--
I could have stood it well enough. It is when suffering finds a voice
and sets our nerves quivering that this pity comes troubling us.
But in spite of the brilliant sunlight and the green fans of the trees
waving in the soothing sea-breeze, the world was a confusion,
blurred with drifting black and red phantasms, until I was out of earshot
of the house in the chequered wall.
IX. THE THING IN THE FOREST.
I STRODE through the undergrowth that clothed the ridge behind the house,
scarcely heeding whither I went; passed on through the shadow of a thick
cluster of straight-stemmed trees beyond it, and so presently found
myself some way on the other side of the ridge, and descending towards
a streamlet that ran through a narrow valley. I paused and listened.
The distance I had come, or the intervening masses of thicket,
deadened any sound that might be coming from the enclosure.
The air was still. Then with a rustle a rabbit emerged, and went
scampering up the slope before me. I hesitated, and sat down in the edge
of the shade.
The place was a pleasant one. The rivulet was hidden
by the luxuriant vegetation of the banks save at one point,
where I caught a triangular patch of its glittering water.
On the farther side I saw through a bluish haze a tangle of trees
and creepers, and above these again the luminous blue of the sky.
Here and there a splash of white or crimson marked the blooming of some
trailing epiphyte. I let my eyes wander over this scene for a while,
and then began to turn over in my mind again the strange peculiarities
of Montgomery's man. But it was too hot to think elaborately,
and presently I fell into a tranquil state midway between dozing
From this I was aroused, after I know not how long, by a
rustling amidst the greenery on the other side of the stream.
For a moment I could see nothing but the waving summits of
the ferns and reeds. Then suddenly upon the bank of the stream
appeared Something--at first I could not distinguish what it was.
It bowed its round head to the water, and began to drink.
Then I saw it was a man, going on all-fours like a beast. He was clothed
in bluish cloth, and was of a copper-coloured hue, with black hair.
It seemed that grotesque ugliness was an invariable character of
these islanders. I could hear the suck of the water at his lips as
I leant forward to see him better, and a piece of lava, detached by
my hand, went pattering down the slope. He looked up guiltily,
and his eyes met mine. Forthwith he scrambled to his feet,
and stood wiping his clumsy hand across his mouth and regarding me.
His legs were scarcely half the length of his body.
So, staring one another out of countenance, we remained for perhaps
the space of a minute. Then, stopping to look back once or twice,
he slunk off among the bushes to the right of me, and I heard
the swish of the fronds grow faint in the distance and die away.
Long after he had disappeared, I remained sitting up staring
in the direction of his retreat. My drowsy tranquillity
I was startled by a noise behind me, and turning suddenly saw
the flapping white tail of a rabbit vanishing up the slope.
I jumped to my feet. The apparition of this grotesque, half-bestial
creature had suddenly populated the stillness of the afternoon for me.
I looked around me rather nervously, and regretted that I was unarmed.
Then I thought that the man I had just seen had been clothed
in bluish cloth, had not been naked as a savage would have been;
and I tried to persuade myself from that fact that he was after all
probably a peaceful character, that the dull ferocity of his countenance
Yet I was greatly disturbed at the apparition. I walked
to the left along the slope, turning my head about and peering
this way and that among the straight stems of the trees.
Why should a man go on all-fours and drink with his lips? Presently I
heard an animal wailing again, and taking it to be the puma, I turned
about and walked in a direction diametrically opposite to the sound.
This led me down to the stream, across which I stepped and pushed
my way up through the undergrowth beyond.
I was startled by a great patch of vivid scarlet on the ground,
and going up to it found it to be a peculiar fungus, branched and
corrugated like a foliaceous lichen, but deliquescing into slime
at the touch; and then in the shadow of some luxuriant ferns I
came upon an unpleasant thing,--the dead body of a rabbit covered
with shining flies, but still warm and with the head torn off.
I stopped aghast at the sight of the scattered blood.
Here at least was one visitor to the island disposed of!
There were no traces of other violence about it. It looked as though it
had been suddenly snatched up and killed; and as I stared at the little
furry body came the difficulty of how the thing had been done.
The vague dread that had been in my mind since I had seen the inhuman
face of the man at the stream grew distincter as I stood there.
I began to realise the hardihood of my expedition among these
unknown people. The thicket about me became altered to my imagination.
Every shadow became something more than a shadow,--became an ambush;
every rustle became a threat. Invisible things seemed watching me.
I resolved to go back to the enclosure on the beach. I suddenly
turned away and thrust myself violently, possibly even frantically,
through the bushes, anxious to get a clear space about me
I stopped just in time to prevent myself emerging upon an open space.
It was a kind of glade in the forest, made by a fall; seedlings were
already starting up to struggle for the vacant space; and beyond,
the dense growth of stems and twining vines and splashes of fungus
and flowers closed in again. Before me, squatting together upon
the fungoid ruins of a huge fallen tree and still unaware of my approach,
were three grotesque human figures. One was evidently a female;
the other two were men. They were naked, save for swathings
of scarlet cloth about the middle; and their skins were of a dull
pinkish-drab colour, such as I had seen in no savages before.
They had fat, heavy, chinless faces, retreating foreheads,
and a scant bristly hair upon their heads. I never saw such
They were talking, or at least one of the men was talking to the other two,
and all three had been too closely interested to heed the rustling of
my approach. They swayed their heads and shoulders from side to side.
The speaker's words came thick and sloppy, and though I could
hear them distinctly I could not distinguish what he said.
He seemed to me to be reciting some complicated gibberish.
Presently his articulation became shriller, and spreading his hands
he rose to his feet. At that the others began to gibber in unison,
also rising to their feet, spreading their hands and swaying their
bodies in rhythm with their chant. I noticed then the abnormal
shortness of their legs, and their lank, clumsy feet. All three began
slowly to circle round, raising and stamping their feet and waving
their arms; a kind of tune crept into their rhythmic recitation,
and a refrain,--"Aloola," or "Balloola," it sounded like.
Their eyes began to sparkle, and their ugly faces to brighten,
with an expression of strange pleasure. Saliva dripped from their
Suddenly, as I watched their grotesque and unaccountable gestures,
I perceived clearly for the first time what it was that had offended me,
what had given me the two inconsistent and conflicting impressions
of utter strangeness and yet of the strangest familiarity.
The three creatures engaged in this mysterious rite were human in shape,
and yet human beings with the strangest air about them of some
familiar animal. Each of these creatures, despite its human form,
its rag of clothing, and the rough humanity of its bodily form,
had woven into it--into its movements, into the expression of
its countenance, into its whole presence--some now irresistible
suggestion of a hog, a swinish taint, the unmistakable mark of
I stood overcome by this amazing realisation and then the most horrible
questionings came rushing into my mind. They began leaping in the air,
first one and then the other, whooping and grunting. Then one slipped,
and for a moment was on all-fours,--to recover, indeed, forthwith.
But that transitory gleam of the true animalism of these monsters
I turned as noiselessly as possible, and becoming every now
and then rigid with the fear of being discovered, as a branch
cracked or a leaf rustled, I pushed back into the bushes.
It was long before I grew bolder, and dared to move freely.
My only idea for the moment was to get away from these foul beings, and I
scarcely noticed that I had emerged upon a faint pathway amidst the trees.
Then suddenly traversing a little glade, I saw with an unpleasant start
two clumsy legs among the trees, walking with noiseless footsteps
parallel with my course, and perhaps thirty yards away from me.
The head and upper part of the body were hidden by a tangle of creeper.
I stopped abruptly, hoping the creature did not see me.
The feet stopped as I did. So nervous was I that I controlled
an impulse to headlong flight with the utmost difficulty.
Then looking hard, I distinguished through the interlacing network
the head and body of the brute I had seen drinking. He moved his head.
There was an emerald flash in his eyes as he glanced at me from
the shadow of the trees, a half-luminous colour that vanished as
he turned his head again. He was motionless for a moment, and then
with a noiseless tread began running through the green confusion.
In another moment he had vanished behind some bushes.
I could not see him, but I felt that he had stopped and was watching me
What on earth was he,--man or beast? What did he want with me?
I had no weapon, not even a stick. Flight would be madness.
At any rate the Thing, whatever it was, lacked the courage to attack me.
Setting my teeth hard, I walked straight towards him.
I was anxious not to show the fear that seemed chilling my backbone.
I pushed through a tangle of tall white-flowered bushes,
and saw him twenty paces beyond, looking over his shoulder at me
and hesitating. I advanced a step or two, looking steadfastly into
"Who are you?" said I.
He tried to meet my gaze. "No!" he said suddenly, and turning went
bounding away from me through the undergrowth. Then he turned
and stared at me again. His eyes shone brightly out of the dusk
under the trees.
My heart was in my mouth; but I felt my only chance was bluff,
and walked steadily towards him. He turned again, and vanished
into the dusk. Once more I thought I caught the glint of his eyes,
and that was all.
For the first time I realised how the lateness of the hour
might affect me. The sun had set some minutes since, the swift
dusk of the tropics was already fading out of the eastern sky,
and a pioneer moth fluttered silently by my head. Unless I would
spend the night among the unknown dangers of the mysterious forest,
I must hasten back to the enclosure. The thought of a return
to that pain-haunted refuge was extremely disagreeable, but still
more so was the idea of being overtaken in the open by darkness
and all that darkness might conceal. I gave one more look
into the blue shadows that had swallowed up this odd creature,
and then retraced my way down the slope towards the stream,
going as I judged in the direction from which I had come.
I walked eagerly, my mind confused with many things,
and presently found myself in a level place among scattered trees.
The colourless clearness that comes after the sunset flush
was darkling; the blue sky above grew momentarily deeper,
and the little stars one by one pierced the attenuated light;
the interspaces of the trees, the gaps in the further vegetation,
that had been hazy blue in the daylight, grew black and mysterious.
I pushed on. The colour vanished from the world.
The tree-tops rose against the luminous blue sky in inky silhouette,
and all below that outline melted into one formless blackness.
Presently the trees grew thinner, and the shrubby undergrowth
more abundant. Then there was a desolate space covered with
a white sand, and then another expanse of tangled bushes.
I did not remember crossing the sand-opening before.
I began to be tormented by a faint rustling upon my right hand.
I thought at first it was fancy, for whenever I stopped there
was silence, save for the evening breeze in the tree-tops.
Then when I turned to hurry on again there was an echo to
I turned away from the thickets, keeping to the more open ground,
and endeavouring by sudden turns now and then to surprise something
in the act of creeping upon me. I saw nothing, and nevertheless
my sense of another presence grew steadily. I increased my pace,
and after some time came to a slight ridge, crossed it, and turned sharply,
regarding it steadfastly from the further side. It came out black
and clear-cut against the darkling sky; and presently a shapeless
lump heaved up momentarily against the sky-line and vanished again.
I felt assured now that my tawny-faced antagonist was stalking me
once more; and coupled with that was another unpleasant realisation,
that I had lost my way.
For a time I hurried on hopelessly perplexed, and pursued by that
stealthy approach. Whatever it was, the Thing either lacked the courage
to attack me, or it was waiting to take me at some disadvantage.
I kept studiously to the open. At times I would turn and listen;
and presently I had half persuaded myself that my pursuer had abandoned
the chase, or was a mere creation of my disordered imagination.
Then I heard the sound of the sea. I quickened my footsteps
almost into a run, and immediately there was a stumble in
I turned suddenly, and stared at the uncertain trees behind me.
One black shadow seemed to leap into another. I listened,
rigid, and heard nothing but the creep of the blood in my ears.
I thought that my nerves were unstrung, and that my imagination
was tricking me, and turned resolutely towards the sound of the
In a minute or so the trees grew thinner, and I emerged upon
a bare, low headland running out into the sombre water.
The night was calm and clear, and the reflection of the growing
multitude of the stars shivered in the tranquil heaving of the sea.
Some way out, the wash upon an irregular band of reef shone
with a pallid light of its own. Westward I saw the zodiacal
light mingling with the yellow brilliance of the evening star.
The coast fell away from me to the east, and westward it was hidden
by the shoulder of the cape. Then I recalled the fact that Moreau's
beach lay to the west.
A twig snapped behind me, and there was a rustle. I turned, and stood
facing the dark trees. I could see nothing--or else I could see too much.
Every dark form in the dimness had its ominous quality, its peculiar
suggestion of alert watchfulness. So I stood for perhaps a minute,
and then, with an eye to the trees still, turned westward to cross
the headland; and as I moved, one among the lurking shadows moved
to follow me.
My heart beat quickly. Presently the broad sweep of a bay
to the westward became visible, and I halted again.
The noiseless shadow halted a dozen yards from me.
A little point of light shone on the further bend of the curve,
and the grey sweep of the sandy beach lay faint under the starlight.
Perhaps two miles away was that little point of light.
To get to the beach I should have to go through the trees where the
shadows lurked, and down a bushy slope.
I could see the Thing rather more distinctly now. It was no animal,
for it stood erect. At that I opened my mouth to speak, and found
a hoarse phlegm choked my voice. I tried again, and shouted,
"Who is there?" There was no answer. I advanced a step.
The Thing did not move, only gathered itself together. My foot
struck a stone. That gave me an idea. Without taking my eyes off
the black form before me, I stooped and picked up this lump of rock;
but at my motion the Thing turned abruptly as a dog might have done,
and slunk obliquely into the further darkness. Then I recalled
a schoolboy expedient against big dogs, and twisted the rock into
my handkerchief, and gave this a turn round my wrist. I heard a movement
further off among the shadows, as if the Thing was in retreat.
Then suddenly my tense excitement gave way; I broke into a profuse
perspiration and fell a-trembling, with my adversary routed and this
weapon in my hand.
It was some time before I could summon resolution to go down through
the trees and bushes upon the flank of the headland to the beach.
At last I did it at a run; and as I emerged from the thicket
upon the sand, I heard some other body come crashing after me.
At that I completely lost my head with fear, and began running
along the sand. Forthwith there came the swift patter of soft
feet in pursuit. I gave a wild cry, and redoubled my pace.
Some dim, black things about three or four times the size of rabbits
went running or hopping up from the beach towards the bushes as
So long as I live, I shall remember the terror of that chase.
I ran near the water's edge, and heard every now and then the splash
of the feet that gained upon me. Far away, hopelessly far,
was the yellow light. All the night about us was black and still.
Splash, splash, came the pursuing feet, nearer and nearer.
I felt my breath going, for I was quite out of training; it whooped
as I drew it, and I felt a pain like a knife at my side. I perceived
the Thing would come up with me long before I reached the enclosure,
and, desperate and sobbing for my breath, I wheeled round upon it
and struck at it as it came up to me,--struck with all my strength.
The stone came out of the sling of the handkerchief as I did so.
As I turned, the Thing, which had been running on all-fours,
rose to its feet, and the missile fell fair on its left temple.
The skull rang loud, and the animal-man blundered into me,
thrust me back with its hands, and went staggering past me to fall
headlong upon the sand with its face in the water; and there it lay
I could not bring myself to approach that black heap. I left
it there, with the water rippling round it, under the still stars,
and giving it a wide berth pursued my way towards the yellow glow
of the house; and presently, with a positive effect of relief,
came the pitiful moaning of the puma, the sound that had
originally driven me out to explore this mysterious island.
At that, though I was faint and horribly fatigued, I gathered
together all my strength, and began running again towards the light.
I thought I heard a voice calling me.
X. THE CRYING OF THE MAN.
AS I drew near the house I saw that the light shone from
the open door of my room; and then I heard coming from out
of the darkness at the side of that orange oblong of light,
the voice of Montgomery shouting, "Prendick!" I continued running.
Presently I heard him again. I replied by a feeble "Hullo!"
and in another moment had staggered up to him.
"Where have you been?" said he, holding me at arm's length,
so that the light from the door fell on my face. "We have both
been so busy that we forgot you until about half an hour ago."
He led me into the room and set me down in the deck chair.
For awhile I was blinded by the light. "We did not think you would start
to explore this island of ours without telling us," he said; and then,
"I was afraid--But--what--Hullo!"
My last remaining strength slipped from me, and my head fell forward
on my chest. I think he found a certain satisfaction in giving
"For God's sake," said I, "fasten that door."
"You've been meeting some of our curiosities, eh?" said he.
He locked the door and turned to me again. He asked me no questions,
but gave me some more brandy and water and pressed me to eat.
I was in a state of collapse. He said something vague about his
forgetting to warn me, and asked me briefly when I left the house
and what I had seen.
I answered him as briefly, in fragmentary sentences. "Tell me
what it all means," said I, in a state bordering on hysterics.
"It's nothing so very dreadful," said he. "But I think you
have had about enough for one day." The puma suddenly gave
a sharp yell of pain. At that he swore under his breath.
"I'm damned," said he, "if this place is not as bad as Gower Street,
with its cats."
"Montgomery," said I, "what was that thing that came after me?
Was it a beast or was it a man?"
"If you don't sleep to-night," he said, "you'll be off your
I stood up in front of him. "What was that thing that came after me?"
He looked me squarely in the eyes, and twisted his mouth askew.
His eyes, which had seemed animated a minute before, went dull.
"From your account," said he, "I'm thinking it was a bogle."
I felt a gust of intense irritation, which passed as quickly as it came.
I flung myself into the chair again, and pressed my hands on my forehead.
The puma began once more.
Montgomery came round behind me and put his hand on my shoulder.
"Look here, Prendick," he said, "I had no business to let
you drift out into this silly island of ours. But it's not
so bad as you feel, man. Your nerves are worked to rags.
Let me give you something that will make you sleep. That--will keep
on for hours yet. You must simply get to sleep, or I won't answer
I did not reply. I bowed forward, and covered my face with my hands.
Presently he returned with a small measure containing a dark liquid.
This he gave me. I took it unresistingly, and he helped me into
When I awoke, it was broad day. For a little while I lay flat,
staring at the roof above me. The rafters, I observed, were made
out of the timbers of a ship. Then I turned my head, and saw a meal
prepared for me on the table. I perceived that I was hungry,
and prepared to clamber out of the hammock, which, very politely
anticipating my intention, twisted round and deposited me upon
all-fours on the floor.
I got up and sat down before the food. I had a heavy feeling
in my head, and only the vaguest memory at first of the things
that had happened over night. The morning breeze blew very
pleasantly through the unglazed window, and that and the food
contributed to the sense of animal comfort which I experienced.
Presently the door behind me--the door inward towards the yard
of the enclosure--opened. I turned and saw Montgomery's face.
"All right," said he. "I'm frightfully busy." And he shut the door.
Afterwards I discovered that he forgot to re-lock it.
Then I recalled the expression of his face the previous night,
and with that the memory of all I had experienced reconstructed
itself before me. Even as that fear came back to me came a cry
from within; but this time it was not the cry of a puma.
I put down the mouthful that hesitated upon my lips, and listened.
Silence, save for the whisper of the morning breeze. I began to think my
ears had deceived me.
After a long pause I resumed my meal, but with my ears still vigilant.
Presently I heard something else, very faint and low.
I sat as if frozen in my attitude. Though it was faint and low,
it moved me more profoundly than all that I had hitherto heard of
the abominations behind the wall. There was no mistake this time in
the quality of the dim, broken sounds; no doubt at all of their source.
For it was groaning, broken by sobs and gasps of anguish.
It was no brute this time; it was a human being in torment!
As I realised this I rose, and in three steps had crossed the room,
seized the handle of the door into the yard, and flung it open
"Prendick, man! Stop!" cried Montgomery, intervening.
A startled deerhound yelped and snarled. There was blood, I saw,
in the sink,--brown, and some scarlet--and I smelt the peculiar
smell of carbolic acid. Then through an open doorway beyond,
in the dim light of the shadow, I saw something bound painfully
upon a framework, scarred, red, and bandaged; and then blotting
this out appeared the face of old Moreau, white and terrible.
In a moment he had gripped me by the shoulder with a hand that was
smeared red, had twisted me off my feet, and flung me headlong back
into my own room. He lifted me as though I was a little child.
I fell at full length upon the floor, and the door slammed
and shut out the passionate intensity of his face.
Then I heard the key turn in the lock, and Montgomery's voice
"Ruin the work of a lifetime," I heard Moreau say.
"He does not understand," said Montgomery. and other things
that were inaudible.
"I can't spare the time yet," said Moreau.
The rest I did not hear. I picked myself up and stood trembling,
my mind a chaos of the most horrible misgivings. Could it be possible,
I thought, that such a thing as the vivisection of men was carried
on here? The question shot like lightning across a tumultuous sky;
and suddenly the clouded horror of my mind condensed into a vivid
realisation of my own danger.
XI. THE HUNTING OF THE MAN.
IT came before my mind with an unreasonable hope of escape that
the outer door of my room was still open to me. I was convinced now,
absolutely assured, that Moreau had been vivisecting a human being.
All the time since I had heard his name, I had been trying to link
in my mind in some way the grotesque animalism of the islanders
with his abominations; and now I thought I saw it all.
The memory of his work on the transfusion of blood recurred to me.
These creatures I had seen were the victims of some hideous experiment.
These sickening scoundrels had merely intended to keep me back,
to fool me with their display of confidence, and presently to fall
upon me with a fate more horrible than death,--with torture;
and after torture the most hideous degradation it is possible
to conceive,--to send me off a lost soul, a beast, to the rest of their
I looked round for some weapon. Nothing. Then with an inspiration I
turned over the deck chair, put my foot on the side of it, and tore
away the side rail. It happened that a nail came away with the wood,
and projecting, gave a touch of danger to an otherwise petty weapon.
I heard a step outside, and incontinently flung open the door and found
Montgomery within a yard of it. He meant to lock the outer door!
I raised this nailed stick of mine and cut at his face;
but he sprang back. I hesitated a moment, then turned and fled,
round the corner of the house. "Prendick, man!" I heard his
astonished cry, "don't be a silly ass, man!"
Another minute, thought I, and he would have had me locked in,
and as ready as a hospital rabbit for my fate. He emerged behind
the corner, for I heard him shout, "Prendick!" Then he began to run
after me, shouting things as he ran. This time running blindly,
I went northeastward in a direction at right angles to my
previous expedition. Once, as I went running headlong up the beach,
I glanced over my shoulder and saw his attendant with him.
I ran furiously up the slope, over it, then turning eastward along
a rocky valley fringed on either side with jungle I ran for perhaps
a mile altogether, my chest straining, my heart beating in my ears;
and then hearing nothing of Montgomery or his man, and feeling
upon the verge of exhaustion, I doubled sharply back towards
the beach as I judged, and lay down in the shelter of a canebrake.
There I remained for a long time, too fearful to move, and indeed
too fearful even to plan a course of action. The wild scene about me
lay sleeping silently under the sun, and the only sound near me was
the thin hum of some small gnats that had discovered me. Presently I
became aware of a drowsy breathing sound, the soughing of the sea upon
After about an hour I heard Montgomery shouting my name,
far away to the north. That set me thinking of my plan of action.
As I interpreted it then, this island was inhabited only by these two
vivisectors and their animalised victims. Some of these no doubt
they could press into their service against me if need arose.
I knew both Moreau and Montgomery carried revolvers; and, save for a feeble
bar of deal spiked with a small nail, the merest mockery of a mace,
I was unarmed.
So I lay still there, until I began to think of food and drink;
and at that thought the real hopelessness of my position came home to me.
I knew no way of getting anything to eat. I was too ignorant of botany
to discover any resort of root or fruit that might lie about me;
I had no means of trapping the few rabbits upon the island.
It grew blanker the more I turned the prospect over. At last in
the desperation of my position, my mind turned to the animal men I
had encountered. I tried to find some hope in what I remembered of them.
In turn I recalled each one I had seen, and tried to draw some augury
of assistance from my memory.
Then suddenly I heard a staghound bay, and at that realised a new danger.
I took little time to think, or they would have caught me then,
but snatching up my nailed stick, rushed headlong from my hiding-place
towards the sound of the sea. I remember a growth of thorny plants,
with spines that stabbed like pen-knives. I emerged bleeding and
with torn clothes upon the lip of a long creek opening northward.
I went straight into the water without a minute's hesitation, wading up
the creek, and presently finding myself kneedeep in a little stream.
I scrambled out at last on the westward bank, and with my heart beating
loudly in my ears, crept into a tangle of ferns to await the issue.
I heard the dog (there was only one) draw nearer, and yelp when it came
to the thorns. Then I heard no more, and presently began to think I
The minutes passed; the silence lengthened out, and at last
after an hour of security my courage began to return to me.
By this time I was no longer very much terrified or very miserable.
I had, as it were, passed the limit of terror and despair.
I felt now that my life was practically lost, and that persuasion
made me capable of daring anything. I had even a certain wish
to encounter Moreau face to face; and as I had waded into the water,
I remembered that if I were too hard pressed at least one path
of escape from torment still lay open to me,--they could not
very well prevent my drowning myself. I had half a mind to drown
myself then; but an odd wish to see the whole adventure out,
a queer, impersonal, spectacular interest in myself, restrained me.
I stretched my limbs, sore and painful from the pricks of the spiny plants,
and stared around me at the trees; and, so suddenly that it seemed
to jump out of the green tracery about it, my eyes lit upon a black
face watching me. I saw that it was the simian creature who had
met the launch upon the beach. He was clinging to the oblique
stem of a palm-tree. I gripped my stick, and stood up facing him.
He began chattering. "You, you, you," was all I could distinguish
at first. Suddenly he dropped from the tree, and in another
moment was holding the fronds apart and staring curiously
I did not feel the same repugnance towards this creature which I
had experienced in my encounters with the other Beast Men.
"You, he said, "in the boat." He was a man, then,--at least as much
of a man as Montgomery's attendant,--for he could talk.
"Yes," I said, "I came in the boat. From the ship."
"Oh!" he said, and his bright, restless eyes travelled over me,
to my hands, to the stick I carried, to my feet, to the tattered places
in my coat, and the cuts and scratches I had received from the thorns.
He seemed puzzled at something. His eyes came back to my hands.
He held his own hand out and counted his digits slowly, "One, two,
three, four, five--eigh?"
I did not grasp his meaning then; afterwards I was to find that
a great proportion of these Beast People had malformed hands,
lacking sometimes even three digits. But guessing this was
in some way a greeting, I did the same thing by way of reply.
He grinned with immense satisfaction. Then his swift roving
glance went round again; he made a swift movement--and vanished.
The fern fronds he had stood between came swishing together,
I pushed out of the brake after him, and was astonished to find
him swinging cheerfully by one lank arm from a rope of creeper
that looped down from the foliage overhead. His back was to me.
"Hullo!" said I.
He came down with a twisting jump, and stood facing me.
"I say," said I, "where can I get something to eat?"
"Eat!" he said. "Eat Man's food, now." And his eye went back
to the swing of ropes. "At the huts."
"But where are the huts?"
"I'm new, you know."
At that he swung round, and set off at a quick walk.
All his motions were curiously rapid. "Come along," said he.
I went with him to see the adventure out. I guessed the huts were some
rough shelter where he and some more of these Beast People lived.
I might perhaps find them friendly, find some handle in their minds
to take hold of. I did not know how far they had forgotten their
My ape-like companion trotted along by my side, with his hands
hanging down and his jaw thrust forward. I wondered what memory
he might have in him. "How long have you been on this island?"
"How long?" he asked; and after having the question repeated,
he held up three fingers.
The creature was little better than an idiot. I tried
to make out what he meant by that, and it seems I bored him.
After another question or two he suddenly left my side and went
leaping at some fruit that hung from a tree. He pulled down
a handful of prickly husks and went on eating the contents.
I noted this with satisfaction, for here at least was a hint for feeding.
I tried him with some other questions, but his chattering, prompt responses
were as often as not quite at cross purposes with my question.
Some few were appropriate, others quite parrot-like.
I was so intent upon these peculiarities that I scarcely noticed the path
we followed. Presently we came to trees, all charred and brown,
and so to a bare place covered with a yellow-white incrustation,
across which a drifting smoke, pungent in whiffs to nose and eyes,
went drifting. On our right, over a shoulder of bare rock, I saw
the level blue of the sea. The path coiled down abruptly into a narrow
ravine between two tumbled and knotty masses of blackish scoria.
Into this we plunged.
It was extremely dark, this passage, after the blinding sunlight reflected
from the sulphurous ground. Its walls grew steep, and approached
each other. Blotches of green and crimson drifted across my eyes.
My conductor stopped suddenly. "Home!" said he, and I stood
in a floor of a chasm that was at first absolutely dark to me.
I heard some strange noises, and thrust the knuckles of my left hand
into my eyes. I became aware of a disagreeable odor, like that of
a monkey's cage ill-cleaned. Beyond, the rock opened again upon
a gradual slope of sunlit greenery, and on either hand the light
smote down through narrow ways into the central gloom.
XII. THE SAYERS OF THE LAW.
THEN something cold touched my hand. I started violently,
and saw close to me a dim pinkish thing, looking more like a flayed
child than anything else in the world. The creature had exactly
the mild but repulsive features of a sloth, the same low forehead
and slow gestures.
As the first shock of the change of light passed, I saw about me
more distinctly. The little sloth-like creature was standing and
staring at me. My conductor had vanished. The place was a narrow
passage between high walls of lava, a crack in the knotted rock,
and on either side interwoven heaps of sea-mat, palm-fans, and reeds
leaning against the rock formed rough and impenetrably dark dens.
The winding way up the ravine between these was scarcely three yards wide,
and was disfigured by lumps of decaying fruit-pulp and other refuse,
which accounted for the disagreeable stench of the place.
The little pink sloth-creature was still blinking at me when my
Ape-man reappeared at the aperture of the nearest of these dens,
and beckoned me in. As he did so a slouching monster wriggled out
of one of the places, further up this strange street, and stood up in
featureless silhouette against the bright green beyond, staring at me.
I hesitated, having half a mind to bolt the way I had come; and then,
determined to go through with the adventure, I gripped my nailed stick
about the middle and crawled into the little evil-smelling lean-to