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11. 4. 2019

64 The Island of Doctor Moreau 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   65 came to the thorns. Then I heard no more, and presently began to think I had escaped.

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 at me.

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 66 The Island of Doctor Moreau 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?’ ‘Oh!’   67 ‘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 human heritage.

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?’ said I.

‘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 68 The Island of Doctor Moreau 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.


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 fruitpulp 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, 70 The Island of Doctor Moreau 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 evilsmelling lean-to after my conductor.

It was a semi-circular space, shaped like the half of a beehive; and against the rocky wall that formed the inner side of it was a pile of variegated fruits, cocoa-nuts among others.

Some rough vessels of lava and wood stood about the floor, and one on a rough stool. There was no fire. In the darkest corner of the hut sat a shapeless mass of darkness that grunted ‘Hey!’ as I came in, and my Ape-man stood in the dim light of the doorway and held out a split cocoa-nut to me as I crawled into the other corner and squatted down.

I took it, and began gnawing it, as serenely as possible, in spite of a certain trepidation and the nearly intolerable closeness of the den. The little pink sloth-creature stood in the aperture of the hut, and something else with a drab face and bright eyes came staring over its shoulder.

‘Hey!’ came out of the lump of mystery opposite. ‘It is a man.’ ‘It is a man,’ gabbled my conductor, ‘a man, a man, a fiveman, like me.’ ‘Shut up!’ said the voice from the dark, and grunted. I gnawed my cocoa-nut amid an impressive stillness.

I peered hard into the blackness, but could distinguish nothing.

‘It is a man,’ the voice repeated. ‘He comes to live with us?’ It was a thick voice, with something in it—a kind of whis  71 tling overtone— that struck me as peculiar; but the English accent was strangely good.

The Ape-man looked at me as though he expected something.

I perceived the pause was interrogative. ‘He comes to live with you,’ I said.

‘It is a man. He must learn the Law.’ I began to distinguish now a deeper blackness in the black, a vague outline of a hunched-up figure. Then I noticed the opening of the place was darkened by two more black heads. My hand tightened on my stick.

The thing in the dark repeated in a louder tone, ‘Say the words.’ I had missed its last remark. ‘Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law,’ it repeated in a kind of sing-song.

I was puzzled.

‘Say the words,’ said the Ape-man, repeating, and the figures in the doorway echoed this, with a threat in the tone of their voices.

I realised that I had to repeat this idiotic formula; and then began the insanest ceremony. The voice in the dark began intoning a mad litany, line by line, and I and the rest to repeat it. As they did so, they swayed from side to side in the oddest way, and beat their hands upon their knees; and I followed their example. I could have imagined I was already dead and in another world. That dark hut, these grotesque dim figures, just flecked here and there by a glimmer of light, and all of them swaying in unison and chanting, ‘Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men? ‘Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men? 72 The Island of Doctor Moreau ‘Not to eat Fish or Flesh; that is the Law. Are we not Men? ‘Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men? ‘Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?’ And so from the prohibition of these acts of folly, on to the prohibition of what I thought then were the maddest, most impossible, and most indecent things one could well imagine. A kind of rhythmic fervour fell on all of us; we gabbled and swayed faster and faster, repeating this amazing Law. Superficially the contagion of these brutes was upon me, but deep down within me the laughter and disgust struggled together. We ran through a long list of prohibitions, and then the chant swung round to a new formula.

‘His is the House of Pain.

‘His is the Hand that makes.

‘His is the Hand that wounds.

‘His is the Hand that heals.’ And so on for another long series, mostly quite incomprehensible gibberish to me about Him, whoever he might be. I could have fancied it was a dream, but never before have I heard chanting in a dream.

‘His is the lightning flash,’ we sang. ‘His is the deep, salt sea.’ A horrible fancy came into my head that Moreau, after animalising these men, had infected their dwarfed brains with a kind of deification of himself. However, I was too   73 keenly aware of white teeth and strong claws about me to stop my chanting on that account.

‘His are the stars in the sky.’ At last that song ended. I saw the Ape-man’s face shining with perspiration; and my eyes being now accustomed to the darkness, I saw more distinctly the figure in the corner from which the voice came. It was the size of a man, but it seemed covered with a dull grey hair almost like a Skyeterrier.

What was it? What were they all? Imagine yourself surrounded by all the most horrible cripples and maniacs it is possible to conceive, and you may understand a little of my feelings with these grotesque caricatures of humanity about me.

‘He is a five-man, a five-man, a five-man—like me,’ said the Ape-man.

I held out my hands. The grey creature in the corner leant forward.

‘Not to run on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?’ he said.

He put out a strangely distorted talon and gripped my fingers. The thing was almost like the hoof of a deer produced into claws. I could have yelled with surprise and pain.

His face came forward and peered at my nails, came forward into the light of the opening of the hut and I saw with a quivering disgust that it was like the face of neither man nor beast, but a mere shock of grey hair, with three shadowy over-archings to mark the eyes and mouth.

‘He has little nails,’ said this grisly creature in his hairy beard. ‘It is well.’ 74 The Island of Doctor Moreau He threw my hand down, and instinctively I gripped my stick.

‘Eat roots and herbs; it is His will,’ said the Ape-man.

‘I am the Sayer of the Law,’ said the grey figure. ‘Here come all that be new to learn the Law. I sit in the darkness and say the Law.’ ‘It is even so,’ said one of the beasts in the doorway.

‘Evil are the punishments of those who break the Law.

None escape.’ ‘None escape,’ said the Beast Folk, glancing furtively at one another.

‘None, none,’ said the Ape-man,—‘none escape. See! I did a little thing, a wrong thing, once. I jabbered, jabbered, stopped talking. None could understand. I am burnt, branded in the hand. He is great. He is good!’ ‘None escape,’ said the grey creature in the corner.

‘None escape,’ said the Beast People, looking askance at one another.

‘For every one the want that is bad,’ said the grey Sayer of the Law. ‘What you will want we do not know; we shall know. Some want to follow things that move, to watch and slink and wait and spring; to kill and bite, bite deep and rich, sucking the blood. It is bad. ‘Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men? Not to eat Flesh or Fish; that is the Law. Are we not Men?’’ ‘None escape,’ said a dappled brute standing in the doorway.

‘For every one the want is bad,’ said the grey Sayer of the Law. ‘Some want to go tearing with teeth and hands into the   75 roots of things, snuffing into the earth. It is bad.’ ‘None escape,’ said the men in the door.

‘Some go clawing trees; some go scratching at the graves of the dead; some go fighting with foreheads or feet or claws; some bite suddenly, none giving occasion; some love uncleanness.’ ‘None escape,’ said the Ape-man, scratching his calf.

‘None escape,’ said the little pink sloth-creature.

‘Punishment is sharp and sure. Therefore learn the Law.

Say the words.’ And incontinently he began again the strange litany of the Law, and again I and all these creatures began singing and swaying. My head reeled with this jabbering and the close stench of the place; but I kept on, trusting to find presently some chance of a new development.

‘Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?’ We were making such a noise that I noticed nothing of a tumult outside, until some one, who I think was one of the two Swine Men I had seen, thrust his head over the little pink sloth-creature and shouted something excitedly, something that I did not catch. Incontinently those at the opening of the hut vanished; my Ape-man rushed out; the thing that had sat in the dark followed him (I only observed that it was big and clumsy, and covered with silvery hair), and I was left alone. Then before I reached the aperture I heard the yelp of a staghound.

In another moment I was standing outside the hovel, my chair-rail in my hand, every muscle of me quivering. Before me were the clumsy backs of perhaps a score of these 76 The Island of Doctor Moreau Beast People, their misshapen heads half hidden by their shoulder-blades. They were gesticulating excitedly. Other half-animal faces glared interrogation out of the hovels.

Looking in the direction in which they faced, I saw coming through the haze under the trees beyond the end of the passage of dens the dark figure and awful white face of Moreau.

He was holding the leaping staghound back, and close behind him came Montgomery revolver in hand.

For a moment I stood horror-struck. I turned and saw the passage behind me blocked by another heavy brute, with a huge grey face and twinkling little eyes, advancing towards me. I looked round and saw to the right of me and a half-dozen yards in front of me a narrow gap in the wall of rock through which a ray of light slanted into the shadows.

‘Stop!’ cried Moreau as I strode towards this, and then, ‘Hold him!’ At that, first one face turned towards me and then others.

Their bestial minds were happily slow. I dashed my shoulder into a clumsy monster who was turning to see what Moreau meant, and flung him forward into another. I felt his hands fly round, clutching at me and missing me. The little pink sloth-creature dashed at me, and I gashed down its ugly face with the nail in my stick and in another minute was scrambling up a steep side pathway, a kind of sloping chimney, out of the ravine. I heard a howl behind me, and cries of ‘Catch him!’ ‘Hold him!’ and the grey-faced creature appeared behind me and jammed his huge bulk into the cleft.

‘Go on! go on!’ they howled. I clambered up the narrow cleft in the rock and came out upon the sulphur on the westward   77 side of the village of the Beast Men.

That gap was altogether fortunate for me, for the narrow chimney, slanting obliquely upward, must have impeded the nearer pursuers. I ran over the white space and down a steep slope, through a scattered growth of trees, and came to a low-lying stretch of tall reeds, through which I pushed into a dark, thick undergrowth that black and succulent under foot. As I plunged into the reeds, my foremost pursuers emerged from the gap. I broke my way through this undergrowth for some minutes. The air behind me and about me was soon full of threatening cries. I heard the tumult of my pursuers in the gap up the slope, then the crashing of the reeds, and every now and then the crackling crash of a branch. Some of the creatures roared like excited beasts of prey. The staghound yelped to the left. I heard Moreau and Montgomery shouting in the same direction. I turned sharply to the right. It seemed to me even then that I heard Montgomery shouting for me to run for my life.

Presently the ground gave rich and oozy under my feet; but I was desperate and went headlong into it, struggled through kneedeep, and so came to a winding path among tall canes. The noise of my pursuers passed away to my left.

In one place three strange, pink, hopping animals, about the size of cats, bolted before my footsteps. This pathway ran up hill, across another open space covered with white incrustation, and plunged into a canebrake again. Then suddenly it turned parallel with the edge of a steep-walled gap, which came without warning, like the ha-ha of an English park,— turned with an unexpected abruptness. I was 78 The Island of Doctor Moreau still running with all my might, and I never saw this drop until I was flying headlong through the air.

I fell on my forearms and head, among thorns, and rose with a torn ear and bleeding face. I had fallen into a precipitous ravine, rocky and thorny, full of a hazy mist which drifted about me in wisps, and with a narrow streamlet from which this mist came meandering down the centre. I was astonished at this thin fog in the full blaze of daylight; but I had no time to stand wondering then. I turned to my right, down-stream, hoping to come to the sea in that direction, and so have my way open to drown myself. It was only later I found that I had dropped my nailed stick in my fall.

Presently the ravine grew narrower for a space, and carelessly I stepped into the stream. I jumped out again pretty quickly, for the water was almost boiling. I noticed too there was a thin sulphurous scum drifting upon its coiling water.

Almost immediately came a turn in the ravine, and the indistinct blue horizon. The nearer sea was flashing the sun from a myriad facets. I saw my death before me; but I was hot and panting, with the warm blood oozing out on my face and running pleasantly through my veins. I felt more than a touch of exultation too, at having distanced my pursuers.

It was not in me then to go out and drown myself yet.

I stared back the way I had come.

I listened. Save for the hum of the gnats and the chirp of some small insects that hopped among the thorns, the air was absolutely still. Then came the yelp of a dog, very faint, and a chattering and gibbering, the snap of a whip, and voices. They grew louder, then fainter again. The noise   79 receded up the stream and faded away. For a while the chase was over; but I knew now how much hope of help for me lay in the Beast People.

80 The Island of Doctor Moreau XIII. A PARLEY.

I TURNED again and went on down towards the sea. I found the hot stream broadened out to a shallow, weedy sand, in which an abundance of crabs and long-bodied, many-legged creatures started from my footfall. I walked to the very edge of the salt water, and then I felt I was safe. I turned and stared, arms akimbo, at the thick green behind me, into which the steamy ravine cut like a smoking gash.

But, as I say, I was too full of excitement and (a true saying, though those who have never known danger may doubt it) too desperate to die.

Then it came into my head that there was one chance before me yet. While Moreau and Montgomery and their bestial rabble chased me through the island, might I not go round the beach until I came to their enclosure,—make a flank march upon them, in fact, and then with a rock lugged out of their loosely-built wall, perhaps, smash in the lock of the smaller door and see what I could find (knife, pistol, or what not) to fight them with when they returned? It was at any rate something to try.

So I turned to the westward and walked along by the water’s edge. The setting sun flashed his blinding heat into my eyes. The slight Pacific tide was running in with a gentle ripple. Presently the shore fell away southward, and the sun came round upon my right hand. Then suddenly, far in   81 front of me, I saw first one and then several figures emerging from the bushes,— Moreau, with his grey staghound, then Montgomery, and two others. At that I stopped.

They saw me, and began gesticulating and advancing. I stood watching them approach. The two Beast Men came running forward to cut me off from the undergrowth, inland.

Montgomery came, running also, but straight towards me. Moreau followed slower with the dog.

At last I roused myself from my inaction, and turning seaward walked straight into the water. The water was very shallow at first. I was thirty yards out before the waves reached to my waist. Dimly I could see the intertidal creatures darting away from my feet.

‘What are you doing, man?’ cried Montgomery.

I turned, standing waist deep, and stared at them. Montgomery stood panting at the margin of the water. His face was bright-red with exertion, his long flaxen hair blown about his head, and his dropping nether lip showed his irregular teeth. Moreau was just coming up, his face pale and firm, and the dog at his hand barked at me. Both men had heavy whips. Farther up the beach stared the Beast Men.

‘What am I doing? I am going to drown myself,’ said I.

Montgomery and Moreau looked at each other. ‘Why?’ asked Moreau.

‘Because that is better than being tortured by you.’ ‘I told you so,’ said Montgomery, and Moreau said something in a low tone.

‘What makes you think I shall torture you?’ asked Moreau.

82 The Island of Doctor Moreau ‘What I saw,’ I said. ‘And those—yonder.’ ‘Hush!’ said Moreau, and held up his hand.

‘I will not,’ said I. ‘They were men: what are they now? I at least will not be like them.’ I looked past my interlocutors. Up the beach were M’ling, Montgomery’s attendant, and one of the white-swathed brutes from the boat. Farther up, in the shadow of the trees, I saw my little Ape-man, and behind him some other dim figures.

‘Who are these creatures?’ said I, pointing to them and raising my voice more and more that it might reach them.

‘They were men, men like yourselves, whom you have infected with some bestial taint,— men whom you have enslaved, and whom you still fear. ‘You who listen,’ I cried, pointing now to Moreau and shouting past him to the Beast Men,—‘ You who listen! Do you not see these men still fear you, go in dread of you? Why, then, do you fear them? You are many—‘ ‘For God’s sake,’ cried Montgomery, ‘stop that, Prendick!’ ‘Prendick!’ cried Moreau.

They both shouted together, as if to drown my voice; and behind them lowered the staring faces of the Beast Men, wondering, their deformed hands hanging down, their shoulders hunched up. They seemed, as I fancied, to be trying to understand me, to remember, I thought, something of their human past.

I went on shouting, I scarcely remember what,—that Moreau and Montgomery could be killed, that they were   83 not to be feared: that was the burden of what I put into the heads of the Beast People. I saw the green-eyed man in the dark rags, who had met me on the evening of my arrival, come out from among the trees, and others followed him, to hear me better. At last for want of breath I paused.

‘Listen to me for a moment,’ said the steady voice of Moreau; ‘and then say what you will.’ ‘Well?’ said I.

He coughed, thought, then shouted: ‘Latin, Prendick! bad Latin, schoolboy Latin; but try and understand. Hi non sunt homines; sunt animalia qui nos habemus—vivisected.

A humanising process. I will explain. Come ashore.’ I laughed. ‘A pretty story,’ said I. ‘They talk, build houses.

They were men. It’s likely I’ll come ashore.’ ‘The water just beyond where you stand is deep—and full of sharks.’ ‘That’s my way,’ said I. ‘Short and sharp. Presently.’ ‘Wait a minute.’ He took something out of his pocket that flashed back the sun, and dropped the object at his feet.

‘That’s a loaded revolver,’ said he. ‘Montgomery here will do the same. Now we are going up the beach until you are satisfied the distance is safe. Then come and take the revolvers.’ ‘Not I! You have a third between you.’ ‘I want you to think over things, Prendick. In the first place, I never asked you to come upon this island. If we vivisected men, we should import men, not beasts. In the next, we had you drugged last night, had we wanted to work you any mischief; and in the next, now your first panic is over and you can think a little, is Montgomery here quite up to 84 The Island of Doctor Moreau the character you give him? We have chased you for your good. Because this island is full of inimical phenomena. Besides, why should we want to shoot you when you have just offered to drown yourself?’ ‘Why did you set—your people onto me when I was in the hut?’ ‘We felt sure of catching you, and bringing you out of danger. Afterwards we drew away from the scent, for your good.’ I mused. It seemed just possible. Then I remembered something again. ‘But I saw,’ said I, ‘in the enclosure—‘ ‘That was the puma.’ ‘Look here, Prendick,’ said Montgomery, ‘you’re a silly ass! Come out of the water and take these revolvers, and talk. We can’t do anything more than we could do now.’ I will confess that then, and indeed always, I distrusted and dreaded Moreau; but Montgomery was a man I felt I understood.

‘Go up the beach,’ said I, after thinking, and added, ‘holding your hands up.’ ‘Can’t do that,’ said Montgomery, with an explanatory nod over his shoulder. ‘Undignified.’ ‘Go up to the trees, then,’ said I, ‘as you please.’ ‘It’s a damned silly ceremony,’ said Montgomery.

Both turned and faced the six or seven grotesque creatures, who stood there in the sunlight, solid, casting shadows, moving, and yet so incredibly unreal. Montgomery cracked his whip at them, and forthwith they all turned and fled helter-skelter into the trees; and when Montgomery   85 and Moreau were at a distance I judged sufficient, I waded ashore, and picked up and examined the revolvers. To satisfy myself against the subtlest trickery, I discharged one at a round lump of lava, and had the satisfaction of seeing the stone pulverised and the beach splashed with lead. Still I hesitated for a moment.

‘I’ll take the risk,’ said I, at last; and with a revolver in each hand I walked up the beach towards them.

‘That’s better,’ said Moreau, without affectation. ‘As it is, you have wasted the best part of my day with your confounded imagination.’ And with a touch of contempt which humiliated me, he and Montgomery turned and went on in silence before me.

The knot of Beast Men, still wondering, stood back among the trees. I passed them as serenely as possible. One started to follow me, but retreated again when Montgomery cracked his whip. The rest stood silent—watching. They may once have been animals; but I never before saw an animal trying to think.

86 The Island of Doctor Moreau XIV. DOCTOR MOREAU EXPLAINS.

‘AND now, Prendick, I will explain,’ said Doctor Moreau, so soon as we had eaten and drunk. ‘I must confess that you are the most dictatorial guest I ever entertained.

I warn you that this is the last I shall do to oblige you. The next thing you threaten to commit suicide about, I shan’t do,— even at some personal inconvenience.’ He sat in my deck chair, a cigar half consumed in his white, dexterous-looking fingers. The light of the swinging lamp fell on his white hair; he stared through the little window out at the starlight. I sat as far away from him as possible, the table between us and the revolvers to hand.

Montgomery was not present. I did not care to be with the two of them in such a little room.

‘You admit that the vivisected human being, as you called it, is, after all, only the puma?’ said Moreau. He had made me visit that horror in the inner room, to assure myself of its inhumanity.

‘It is the puma,’ I said, ‘still alive, but so cut and mutilated as I pray I may never see living flesh again. Of all vile—‘ ‘Never mind that,’ said Moreau; ‘at least, spare me those youthful horrors. Montgomery used to be just the same.

You admit that it is the puma. Now be quiet, while I reel off   87 my physiological lecture to you.’ And forthwith, beginning in the tone of a man supremely bored, but presently warming a little, he explained his work to me. He was very simple and convincing. Now and then there was a touch of sarcasm in his voice. Presently I found myself hot with shame at our mutual positions.

The creatures I had seen were not men, had never been men. They were animals, humanised animals,—triumphs of vivisection.

‘You forget all that a skilled vivisector can do with living things,’ said Moreau. ‘For my own part, I’m puzzled why the things I have done here have not been done before.

Small efforts, of course, have been made,—amputation, tongue-cutting, excisions. Of course you know a squint may be induced or cured by surgery? Then in the case of excisions you have all kinds of secondary changes, pigmentary disturbances, modifications of the passions, alterations in the secretion of fatty tissue. I have no doubt you have heard of these things?’ ‘Of course,’ said I. ‘But these foul creatures of yours—‘ ‘All in good time,’ said he, waving his hand at me; ‘I am only beginning. Those are trivial cases of alteration. Surgery can do better things than that. There is building up as well as breaking down and changing. You have heard, perhaps, of a common surgical operation resorted to in cases where the nose has been destroyed: a flap of skin is cut from the forehead, turned down on the nose, and heals in the new position. This is a kind of grafting in a new position of part of an animal upon itself. Grafting of freshly obtained mate88 The Island of Doctor Moreau rial from another animal is also possible,—the case of teeth, for example. The grafting of skin and bone is done to facilitate healing: the surgeon places in the middle of the wound pieces of skin snipped from another animal, or fragments of bone from a victim freshly killed. Hunter’s cock-spur— possibly you have heard of that—flourished on the bull’s neck; and the rhinoceros rats of the Algerian zouaves are also to be thought of,—monsters manufactured by transferring a slip from the tail of an ordinary rat to its snout, and allowing it to heal in that position.’ ‘Monsters manufactured!’ said I. ‘Then you mean to tell me—‘ ‘Yes. These creatures you have seen are animals carven and wrought into new shapes. To that, to the study of the plasticity of living forms, my life has been devoted. I have studied for years, gaining in knowledge as I go. I see you look horrified, and yet I am telling you nothing new. It all lay in the surface of practical anatomy years ago, but no one had the temerity to touch it. It is not simply the outward form of an animal which I can change. The physiology, the chemical rhythm of the creature, may also be made to undergo an enduring modification,—of which vaccination and other methods of inoculation with living or dead matter are examples that will, no doubt, be familiar to you. A similar operation is the transfusion of blood,—with which subject, indeed, I began. These are all familiar cases. Less so, and probably far more extensive, were the operations of those mediaeval practitioners who made dwarfs and beggar- cripples, show-monsters,—some vestiges of whose art   89 still remain in the preliminary manipulation of the young mountebank or contortionist. Victor Hugo gives an account of them in ‘L’Homme qui Rit.’—But perhaps my meaning grows plain now. You begin to see that it is a possible thing to transplant tissue from one part of an animal to another, or from one animal to another; to alter its chemical reactions and methods of growth; to modify the articulations of its limbs; and, indeed, to change it in its most intimate structure.

‘And yet this extraordinary branch of knowledge has never been sought as an end, and systematically, by modern investigators until I took it up! Some of such things have been hit upon in the last resort of surgery; most of the kindred evidence that will recur to your mind has been demonstrated as it were by accident,—by tyrants, by criminals, by the breeders of horses and dogs, by all kinds of untrained clumsy-handed men working for their own immediate ends. I was the first man to take up this question armed with antiseptic surgery, and with a really scientific knowledge of the laws of growth. Yet one would imagine it must have been practised in secret before. Such creatures as the Siamese Twins—And in the vaults of the Inquisition.

No doubt their chief aim was artistic torture, but some at least of the inquisitors must have had a touch of scientific curiosity.’ ‘But,’ said I, ‘these things—these animals talk!’ He said that was so, and proceeded to point out that the possibility of vivisection does not stop at a mere physical metamorphosis. A pig may be educated. The mental 90 The Island of Doctor Moreau structure is even less determinate than the bodily. In our growing science of hypnotism we find the promise of a possibility of superseding old inherent instincts by new suggestions, grafting upon or replacing the inherited fixed ideas. Very much indeed of what we call moral education, he said, is such an artificial modification and perversion of instinct; pugnacity is trained into courageous self-sacrifice, and suppressed sexuality into religious emotion. And the great difference between man and monkey is in the larynx, he continued,— in the incapacity to frame delicately different sound-symbols by which thought could be sustained.

In this I failed to agree with him, but with a certain incivility he declined to notice my objection. He repeated that the thing was so, and continued his account of his work.

I asked him why he had taken the human form as a model.

There seemed to me then, and there still seems to me now, a strange wickedness for that choice.

He confessed that he had chosen that form by chance. ‘I might just as well have worked to form sheep into llamas and llamas into sheep. I suppose there is something in the human form that appeals to the artistic turn more powerfully than any animal shape can. But I’ve not confined myself to man-making. Once or twice—‘ He was silent, for a minute perhaps. ‘These years! How they have slipped by! And here I have wasted a day saving your life, and am now wasting an hour explaining myself!’ ‘But,’ said I, ‘I still do not understand. Where is your justification for inflicting all this pain? The only thing that could excuse vivisection to me would be some application—‘   91 ‘Precisely,’ said he. ‘But, you see, I am differently constituted.

We are on different platforms. You are a materialist.’ ‘I am not a materialist,’ I began hotly.

‘In my view—in my view. For it is just this question of pain that parts us. So long as visible or audible pain turns you sick; so long as your own pains drive you; so long as pain underlies your propositions about sin,—so long, I tell you, you are an animal, thinking a little less obscurely what an animal feels. This pain—‘ I gave an impatient shrug at such sophistry.

‘Oh, but it is such a little thing! A mind truly opened to what science has to teach must see that it is a little thing.

It may be that save in this little planet, this speck of cosmic dust, invisible long before the nearest star could be attained—it may be, I say, that nowhere else does this thing called pain occur. But the laws we feel our way towards— Why, even on this earth, even among living things, what pain is there?’ As he spoke he drew a little penknife from his pocket, opened the smaller blade, and moved his chair so that I could see his thigh. Then, choosing the place deliberately, he drove the blade into his leg and withdrew it.

‘No doubt,’ he said, ‘you have seen that before. It does not hurt a pin-prick. But what does it show? The capacity for pain is not needed in the muscle, and it is not placed there,— is but little needed in the skin, and only here and there over the thigh is a spot capable of feeling pain. Pain is simply our intrinsic medical adviser to warn us and stimulate us.

Not all living flesh is painful; nor is all nerve, not even all 92 The Island of Doctor Moreau sensory nerve. There’s no tint of pain, real pain, in the sensations of the optic nerve. If you wound the optic nerve, you merely see flashes of light,— just as disease of the auditory nerve merely means a humming in our ears. Plants do not feel pain, nor the lower animals; it’s possible that such animals as the starfish and crayfish do not feel pain at all. Then with men, the more intelligent they become, the more intelligently they will see after their own welfare, and the less they will need the goad to keep them out of danger. I never yet heard of a useless thing that was not ground out of existence by evolution sooner or later. Did you? And pain gets needless.

‘Then I am a religious man, Prendick, as every sane man must be. It may be, I fancy, that I have seen more of the ways of this world’s Maker than you,—for I have sought his laws, in my way, all my life, while you, I understand, have been collecting butterflies. And I tell you, pleasure and pain have nothing to do with heaven or hell. Pleasure and pain—bah! What is your theologian’s ecstasy but Mahomet’s houri in the dark? This store which men and women set on pleasure and pain, Prendick, is the mark of the beast upon them,— the mark of the beast from which they came! Pain, pain and pleasure, they are for us only so long as we wriggle in the dust.

‘You see, I went on with this research just the way it led me. That is the only way I ever heard of true research going.

I asked a question, devised some method of obtaining an answer, and got a fresh question. Was this possible or that possible? You cannot imagine what this means to an inves  93 tigator, what an intellectual passion grows upon him! You cannot imagine the strange, colourless delight of these intellectual desires! The thing before you is no longer an animal, a fellow-creature, but a problem! Sympathetic pain,—all I know of it I remember as a thing I used to suffer from years ago. I wanted—it was the one thing I wanted—to find out the extreme limit of plasticity in a living shape.’ ‘But,’ said I, ‘the thing is an abomination—‘ ‘To this day I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter,’ he continued. ‘The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorse-less as Nature. I have gone on, not heeding anything but the question I was pursuing; and the material has—dripped into the huts yonder. It is really eleven years since we came here, I and Montgomery and six Kanakas.

I remember the green stillness of the island and the empty ocean about us, as though it was yesterday. The place seemed waiting for me.

‘The stores were landed and the house was built. The Kanakas founded some huts near the ravine. I went to work here upon what I had brought with me. There were some disagreeable things happened at first. I began with a sheep, and killed it after a day and a half by a slip of the scalpel. I took another sheep, and made a thing of pain and fear and left it bound up to heal. It looked quite human to me when I had finished it; but when I went to it I was discontented with it. It remembered me, and was terrified beyond imagination; and it had no more than the wits of a sheep. The more I looked at it the clumsier it seemed, until at last I put the monster out of its misery. These animals without cour94 The Island of Doctor Moreau age, these fear-haunted, pain-driven things, without a spark of pugnacious energy to face torment,—they are no good for man-making.

‘Then I took a gorilla I had; and upon that, working with infinite care and mastering difficulty after difficulty, I made my first man. All the week, night and day, I moulded him.

With him it was chiefly the brain that needed moulding; much had to be added, much changed. I thought him a fair specimen of the negroid type when I had finished him, and he lay bandaged, bound, and motionless before me. It was only when his life was assured that I left him and came into this room again, and found Montgomery much as you are.

He had heard some of the cries as the thing grew human,— cries like those that disturbed you so. I didn’t take him completely into my confidence at first. And the Kanakas too, had realised something of it. They were scared out of their wits by the sight of me. I got Montgomery over to me—in a way; but I and he had the hardest job to prevent the Kanakas deserting. Finally they did; and so we lost the yacht. I spent many days educating the brute,—altogether I had him for three or four months. I taught him the rudiments of English; gave him ideas of counting; even made the thing read the alphabet. But at that he was slow, though I’ve met with idiots slower. He began with a clean sheet, mentally; had no memories left in his mind of what he had been. When his scars were quite healed, and he was no longer anything but painful and stiff, and able to converse a little, I took him yonder and introduced him to the Kanakas as an interesting stowaway.

  95 ‘They were horribly afraid of him at first, somehow,— which offended me rather, for I was conceited about him; but his ways seemed so mild, and he was so abject, that after a time they received him and took his education in hand.

He was quick to learn, very imitative and adaptive, and built himself a hovel rather better, it seemed to me, than their own shanties. There was one among the boys a bit of a missionary, and he taught the thing to read, or at least to pick out letters, and gave him some rudimentary ideas of morality; but it seems the beast’s habits were not all that is desirable.

‘I rested from work for some days after this, and was in a mind to write an account of the whole affair to wake up English physiology. Then I came upon the creature squatting up in a tree and gibbering at two of the Kanakas who had been teasing him. I threatened him, told him the inhumanity of such a proceeding, aroused his sense of shame, and came home resolved to do better before I took my work back to England. I have been doing better. But somehow the things drift back again: the stubborn beast-flesh grows day by day back again. But I mean to do better things still. I mean to conquer that. This puma— ‘But that’s the story. All the Kanaka boys are dead now; one fell overboard of the launch, and one died of a wounded heel that he poisoned in some way with plant-juice.

Three went away in the yacht, and I suppose and hope were drowned. The other one—was killed. Well, I have replaced them. Montgomery went on much as you are disposed to do at first, and then— 96 The Island of Doctor Moreau ‘What became of the other one?’ said I, sharply,—‘the other Kanaka who was killed?’ ‘The fact is, after I had made a number of human creatures I made a Thing.’ He hesitated.

‘Yes,’ said I.

‘It was killed.’ ‘I don’t understand,’ said I; ‘do you mean to say—‘ ‘It killed the Kanakas—yes. It killed several other things that it caught. We chased it for a couple of days. It only got loose by accident—I never meant it to get away. It wasn’t finished. It was purely an experiment. It was a limbless thing, with a horrible face, that writhed along the ground in a serpentine fashion. It was immensely strong, and in infuriating pain. It lurked in the woods for some days, until we hunted it; and then it wriggled into the northern part of the island, and we divided the party to close in upon it.

Montgomery insisted upon coming with me. The man had a rifle; and when his body was found, one of the barrels was curved into the shape of an S and very nearly bitten through.

Montgomery shot the thing. After that I stuck to the ideal of humanity— except for little things.’ He became silent. I sat in silence watching his face.

‘So for twenty years altogether—counting nine years in England— I have been going on; and there is still something in everything I do that defeats me, makes me dissatisfied, challenges me to further effort. Sometimes I rise above my level, sometimes I fall below it; but always I fall short of the things I dream. The human shape I can get now, almost with ease, so that it is lithe and graceful, or thick and   97 strong; but often there is trouble with the hands and the claws,—painful things, that I dare not shape too freely. But it is in the subtle grafting and reshaping one must needs do to the brain that my trouble lies. The intelligence is often oddly low, with unaccountable blank ends, unexpected gaps. And least satisfactory of all is something that I cannot touch, somewhere—I cannot determine where—in the seat of the emotions. Cravings, instincts, desires that harm humanity, a strange hidden reservoir to burst forth suddenly and inundate the whole being of the creature with anger, hate, or fear. These creatures of mine seemed strange and uncanny to you so soon as you began to observe them; but to me, just after I make them, they seem to be indisputably human beings. It’s afterwards, as I observe them, that the persuasion fades. First one animal trait, then another, creeps to the surface and stares out at me. But I will conquer yet! Each time I dip a living creature into the bath of burning pain, I say, ‘This time I will burn out all the animal; this time I will make a rational creature of my own!’ After all, what is ten years? Men have been a hundred thousand in the making.’ He thought darkly. ‘But I am drawing near the fastness. This puma of mine—‘ After a silence, ‘And they revert. As soon as my hand is taken from them the beast begins to creep back, begins to assert itself again.’ Another long silence.

‘Then you take the things you make into those dens?’ said I.

‘They go. I turn them out when I begin to feel the beast in them, and presently they wander there. They all dread 98 The Island of Doctor Moreau this house and me. There is a kind of travesty of humanity over there. Montgomery knows about it, for he interferes in their affairs. He has trained one or two of them to our service.

He’s ashamed of it, but I believe he half likes some of those beasts. It’s his business, not mine. They only sicken me with a sense of failure. I take no interest in them. I fancy they follow in the lines the Kanaka missionary marked out, and have a kind of mockery of a rational life, poor beasts! There’s something they call the Law. Sing hymns about ‘all thine.’ They build themselves their dens, gather fruit, and pull herbs— marry even. But I can see through it all, see into their very souls, and see there nothing but the souls of beasts, beasts that perish, anger and the lusts to live and gratify themselves.—Yet they’re odd; complex, like everything else alive. There is a kind of upward striving in them, part vanity, part waste sexual emotion, part waste curiosity.

It only mocks me. I have some hope of this puma. I have worked hard at her head and brain—‘And now,’ said he, standing up after a long gap of silence, during which we had each pursued our own thoughts, ‘what do you think? Are you in fear of me still?’ I looked at him, and saw but a white-faced, white-haired man, with calm eyes. Save for his serenity, the touch almost of beauty that resulted from his set tranquillity and his magnificent build, he might have passed muster among a hundred other comfortable old gentlemen. Then I shivered.

By way of answer to his second question, I handed him a revolver with either hand.

‘Keep them,’ he said, and snatched at a yawn. He stood   99 up, stared at me for a moment, and smiled. ‘You have had two eventful days,’ said he. ‘I should advise some sleep. I’m glad it’s all clear. Good-night.’ He thought me over for a moment, then went out by the inner door.

I immediately turned the key in the outer one. I sat down again; sat for a time in a kind of stagnant mood, so weary, emotionally, mentally, and physically, that I could not think beyond the point at which he had left me. The black window stared at me like an eye. At last with an effort I put out the light and got into the hammock. Very soon I was asleep.

100 The Island of Doctor Moreau XV. CONCERNING THE BEAST FOLK.

I WOKE early. Moreau’s explanation stood before my mind, clear and definite, from the moment of my awakening. I got out of the hammock and went to the door to assure myself that the key was turned. Then I tried the window-bar, and found it firmly fixed. That these man-like creatures were in truth only bestial monsters, mere grotesque travesties of men, filled me with a vague uncertainty of their possibilities which was far worse than any definite fear.

A tapping came at the door, and I heard the glutinous accents of M’ling speaking. I pocketed one of the revolvers (keeping one hand upon it), and opened to him.

‘Good-morning, sair,’ he said, bringing in, in addition to the customary herb-breakfast, an ill-cooked rabbit. Montgomery followed him. His roving eye caught the position of my arm and he smiled askew.

The puma was resting to heal that day; but Moreau, who was singularly solitary in his habits, did not join us. I talked with Montgomery to clear my ideas of the way in which the Beast Folk lived. In particular, I was urgent to know how these inhuman monsters were kept from falling upon Moreau and Montgomery and from rending one another.

He explained to me that the comparative safety of Moreau   101 and himself was due to the limited mental scope of these monsters. In spite of their increased intelligence and the tendency of their animal instincts to reawaken, they had certain fixed ideas implanted by Moreau in their minds, which absolutely bounded their imaginations. They were really hypnotised; had been told that certain things were impossible, and that certain things were not to be done, and these prohibitions were woven into the texture of their minds beyond any possibility of disobedience or dispute.

Certain matters, however, in which old instinct was at war with Moreau’s convenience, were in a less stable condition.

A series of propositions called the Law (I bad already heard them recited) battled in their minds with the deepseated, ever-rebellious cravings of their animal natures.

This Law they were ever repeating, I found, and ever breaking.

Both Montgomery and Moreau displayed particular solicitude to keep them ignorant of the taste of blood; they feared the inevitable suggestions of that flavour. Montgomery told me that the Law, especially among the feline Beast People, became oddly weakened about nightfall; that then the animal was at its strongest; that a spirit of adventure sprang up in them at the dusk, when they would dare things they never seemed to dream about by day. To that I owed my stalking by the Leopard-man, on the night of my arrival.

But during these earlier days of my stay they broke the Law only furtively and after dark; in the daylight there was a general atmosphere of respect for its multifarious prohibitions.

And here perhaps I may give a few general facts about the 102 The Island of Doctor Moreau island and the Beast People. The island, which was of irregular outline and lay low upon the wide sea, had a total area, I suppose, of seven or eight square miles..

It was volcanic in origin, and was now fringed on three sides by coral reefs; some fumaroles to the northward, and a hot spring, were the only vestiges of the forces that had long since originated it. Now and then a faint quiver of earthquake would be sensible, and sometimes the ascent of the spire of smoke would be rendered tumultuous by gusts of steam; but that was all. The population of the island, Montgomery informed me, now numbered rather more than sixty of these strange creations of Moreau’s art, not counting the smaller monstrosities which lived in the undergrowth and were without human form. Altogether he had made nearly a hundred and twenty; but many had died, and others—like the writhing Footless Thing of which he had told me— had come by violent ends. In answer to my question, Montgomery said that they actually bore offspring, but that these generally died. When they lived, Moreau took them and stamped the human form upon them. There was no evidence of the inheritance of their acquired human characteristics. The females were less numerous than the males, and liable to much furtive persecution in spite of the monogamy the Law enjoined.


This description corresponds in every respect to Noble’s Isle.

— C. E. P.

It would be impossible for me to describe these Beast   103 People in detail; my eye has had no training in details, and unhappily I cannot sketch. Most striking, perhaps, in their general appearance was the disproportion between the legs of these creatures and the length of their bodies; and yet— so relative is our idea of grace— my eye became habituated to their forms, and at last I even fell in with their persuasion that my own long thighs were ungainly. Another point was the forward carriage of the head and the clumsy and inhuman curvature of the spine. Even the Ape-man lacked that inward sinuous curve of the back which makes the human figure so graceful. Most had their shoulders hunched clumsily, and their short forearms hung weakly at their sides.

Few of them were conspicuously hairy, at least until the end of my time upon the island.

The next most obvious deformity was in their faces, almost all of which were prognathous, malformed about the ears, with large and protuberant noses, very furry or very bristly hair, and often strangely-coloured or strangelyplaced eyes. None could laugh, though the Ape-man had a chattering titter. Beyond these general characters their heads had little in common; each preserved the quality of its particular species: the human mark distorted but did not hide the leopard, the ox, or the sow, or other animal or animals, from which the creature had been moulded. The voices, too, varied exceedingly. The hands were always malformed; and though some surprised me by their unexpected human appearance, almost all were deficient in the number of the digits, clumsy about the finger-nails, and lacking any tactile sensibility.

104 The Island of Doctor Moreau The two most formidable Animal Men were my Leopardman and a creature made of hyena and swine. Larger than these were the three bull-creatures who pulled in the boat.

Then came the silvery-hairy-man, who was also the Sayer of the Law, M’ling, and a satyr-like creature of ape and goat. There were three Swine-men and a Swine-woman, a mare-rhinoceros-creature, and several other females whose sources I did not ascertain. There were several wolf-creatures, a bear-bull, and a Saint-Bernard-man. I have already described the Ape-man, and there was a particularly hateful (and evil-smelling) old woman made of vixen and bear, whom I hated from the beginning. She was said to be a passionate votary of the Law. Smaller creatures were certain dappled youths and my little sloth-creature. But enough of this catalogue.

At first I had a shivering horror of the brutes, felt all too keenly that they were still brutes; but insensibly I became a little habituated to the idea of them, and moreover I was affected by Montgomery’s attitude towards them. He had been with them so long that he had come to regard them as almost normal human beings. His London days seemed a glorious, impossible past to him. Only once in a year or so did he go to Arica to deal with Moreau’s agent, a trader in animals there. He hardly met the finest type of mankind in that seafaring village of Spanish mongrels. The men aboardship, he told me, seemed at first just as strange to him as the Beast Men seemed to me,—unnaturally long in the leg, flat in the face, prominent in the forehead, suspicious, dangerous, and cold-hearted. In fact, he did not like men: his heart   105 had warmed to me, he thought, because he had saved my life. I fancied even then that he had a sneaking kindness for some of these metamorphosed brutes, a vicious sympathy with some of their ways, but that he attempted to veil it from me at first.

M’ling, the black-faced man, Montgomery’s attendant, the first of the Beast Folk I had encountered, did not live with the others across the island, but in a small kennel at the back of the enclosure. The creature was scarcely so intelligent as the Ape-man, but far more docile, and the most human-looking of all the Beast Folk; and Montgomery had trained it to prepare food, and indeed to discharge all the trivial domestic offices that were required. It was a complex trophy of Moreau’s horrible skill,—a bear, tainted with dog and ox, and one of the most elaborately made of all his creatures.

It treated Montgomery with a strange tenderness and devotion. Sometimes he would notice it, pat it, call it halfmocking, half-jocular names, and so make it caper with extraordinary delight; sometimes he would ill-treat it, especially after he had been at the whiskey, kicking it, beating it, pelting it with stones or lighted fusees. But whether he treated it well or ill, it loved nothing so much as to be near him.

I say I became habituated to the Beast People, that a thousand things which had seemed unnatural and repulsive speedily became natural and ordinary to me. I suppose everything in existence takes its colour from the average hue of our surroundings. Montgomery and Moreau were too peculiar and individual to keep my general impressions 106 The Island of Doctor Moreau of humanity well defined. I would see one of the clumsy bovine-creatures who worked the launch treading heavily through the undergrowth, and find myself asking, trying hard to recall, how he differed from some really human yokel trudging home from his mechanical labours; or I would meet the Fox-bear woman’s vulpine, shifty face, strangely human in its speculative cunning, and even imagine I had met it before in some city byway.

Yet every now and then the beast would flash out upon me beyond doubt or denial. An ugly-looking man, a hunchbacked human savage to all appearance, squatting in the aperture of one of the dens, would stretch his arms and yawn, showing with startling suddenness scissor-edged incisors and sabre-like canines, keen and brilliant as knives.

Or in some narrow pathway, glancing with a transitory daring into the eyes of some lithe, white-swathed female figure, I would suddenly see (with a spasmodic revulsion) that she had slit-like pupils, or glancing down note the curving nail with which she held her shapeless wrap about her. It is a curious thing, by the bye, for which I am quite unable to account, that these weird creatures— the females, I mean— had in the earlier days of my stay an instinctive sense of their own repulsive clumsiness, and displayed in consequence a more than human regard for the decency and decorum of extensive costume.


MY inexperience as a writer betrays me, and I wander from the thread of my story.

After I had breakfasted with Montgomery, he took me across the island to see the fumarole and the source of the hot spring into whose scalding waters I had blundered on the previous day. Both of us carried whips and loaded revolvers.

While going through a leafy jungle on our road thither, we heard a rabbit squealing. We stopped and listened, but we heard no more; and presently we went on our way, and the incident dropped out of our minds. Montgomery called my attention to certain little pink animals with long hind-legs, that went leaping through the undergrowth.

He told me they were creatures made of the offspring of the Beast People, that Moreau had invented. He had fancied they might serve for meat, but a rabbit-like habit of devouring their young had defeated this intention. I had already encountered some of these creatures,— once during my moonlight flight from the Leopard-man, and once during my pursuit by Moreau on the previous day. By chance, one hopping to avoid us leapt into the hole caused by the uprooting of a wind-blown tree; before it could extricate itself we managed to catch it. It spat like a cat, scratched and kicked 108 The Island of Doctor Moreau vigorously with its hind-legs, and made an attempt to bite; but its teeth were too feeble to inflict more than a painless pinch. It seemed to me rather a pretty little creature; and as Montgomery stated that it never destroyed the turf by burrowing, and was very cleanly in its habits, I should imagine it might prove a convenient substitute for the common rabbit in gentlemen’s parks.

We also saw on our way the trunk of a tree barked in long strips and splintered deeply. Montgomery called my attention to this. ‘Not to claw bark of trees, that is the Law,’ he said. ‘Much some of them care for it!’ It was after this, I think, that we met the Satyr and the Ape-man. The Satyr was a gleam of classical memory on the part of Moreau,— his face ovine in expression, like the coarser Hebrew type; his voice a harsh bleat, his nether extremities Satanic. He was gnawing the husk of a pod-like fruit as he passed us.

Both of them saluted Montgomery.

‘Hail,’ said they, ‘to the Other with the Whip!’ ‘There’s a Third with a Whip now,’ said Montgomery. ‘So you’d better mind!’ ‘Was he not made?’ said the Ape-man. ‘He said—he said he was made.’ The Satyr-man looked curiously at me. ‘The Third with the Whip, he that walks weeping into the sea, has a thin white face.’ ‘He has a thin long whip,’ said Montgomery.

‘Yesterday he bled and wept,’ said the Satyr. ‘You never bleed nor weep. The Master does not bleed or weep.’ ‘Ollendorffian beggar!’ said Montgomery, ‘you’ll bleed   109 and weep if you don’t look out!’ ‘He has five fingers, he is a five-man like me,’ said the Ape-man.

‘Come along, Prendick,’ said Montgomery, taking my arm; and I went on with him.

The Satyr and the Ape-man stood watching us and making other remarks to each other.

‘He says nothing,’ said the Satyr. ‘Men have voices.’ ‘Yesterday he asked me of things to eat,’ said the Apeman.

‘He did not know.’ Then they spoke inaudible things, and I heard the Satyr laughing.

It was on our way back that we came upon the dead rabbit.

The red body of the wretched little beast was rent to pieces, many of the ribs stripped white, and the backbone indisputably gnawed.

At that Montgomery stopped. ‘Good God!’ said he, stooping down, and picking up some of the crushed vertebrae to examine them more closely. ‘Good God!’ he repeated, ‘what can this mean?’ ‘Some carnivore of yours has remembered its old habits,’ I said after a pause. ‘This backbone has been bitten through.’ He stood staring, with his face white and his lip pulled askew. ‘I don’t like this,’ he said slowly.

‘I saw something of the same kind,’ said I, ‘the first day I came here.’ ‘The devil you did! What was it?’ ‘A rabbit with its head twisted off.’ ‘The day you came here?’ 110 The Island of Doctor Moreau ‘The day I came here. In the undergrowth at the back of the enclosure, when I went out in the evening. The head was completely wrung off.’ He gave a long, low whistle.

‘And what is more, I have an idea which of your brutes did the thing. It’s only a suspicion, you know. Before I came on the rabbit I saw one of your monsters drinking in the stream.’ ‘Sucking his drink?’ ‘Yes.’