en-es  The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. Chapter IV.
EN LA BARANDA DE LA GOLETA


Esa noche se avistó la tierra después de la puesta del sol, y la goleta se puso al pairo hasta el día siguiente. Montgomery insinuó que ese era su destino. Estaba demasiado lejos para ver cualquier detalle; entonces me pareció simplemente una mancha azul oscuro en el incierto mar azul grisáceo. Una columna de humo casi vertical se elevaba de la tierra al cielo. El capitán no estaba en la cubierta cuando se la avistó. Después de desatar su ira sobre mí, se había tambaleado hacia abajo, y entiendo que se fue a dormir al piso de su propia cabina. El oficial prácticamente asumió el mando. Era el individuo demacrado y taciturno que habíamos visto al timón. Aparentemente estaba de mal humor con Montgomery. No nos prestó la menor atención a ninguno de nosotros. Cenamos con él en un silencio hosco, después de unos pocos esfuerzos infructuosos de mi parte para hablar. También me llamó la atención que los hombres consideraran a mi compañero y sus animales de una manera singularmente hostil. Encontré a Montgomery muy reticente sobre su propósito con estas criaturas y su destino; y aunque era consciente de una creciente curiosidad por ambos, no lo presioné.

Seguimos hablando en la cubierta trasera hasta que el cielo estuvo lleno de estrellas. Excepto por un sonido ocasional en el castillo de proa iluminado por una luz amarilla, y un movimiento de los animales de vez en cuando, la noche estaba muy quieta. El puma estaba agazapado al acecho, mirándonos con ojos brillantes, un bulto negro en la esquina de su jaula. Montgomery mostró algunos cigarros. Me habló de Londres en un tono de evocación medio dolorosa, haciendo todo tipo de preguntas sobre los cambios que habían tenido lugar. Habló como un hombre que había amado su vida ahí, y se había repentina e irrevocablemente desarraigado de ella. Chismorreé tanto como pude de esto y aquello. Su rareza todo el tiempo estaba definiéndose en mi mente; y mientras hablaba, observaba su extraña y pálida cara a la tenue luz del farol de la bitácora que estaba detrás de mí. Luego miré hacia el mar oscuro, donde su pequeña isla estaba escondida en la penumbra.

Este hombre, me pareció, había salido de la inmensidad simplemente para salvar mi vida. Mañana se caería por la borda y desaparecería otra vez de mi existencia. Incluso si hubiera sido en circunstancias normales, me habría hecho pensar un poco; pero en primer lugar estaba la singularidad de un hombre educado que vivía en esta islita desconocida, y junto con eso la naturaleza extraordinaria de su equipaje. Me encontré repitiendo la pregunta del capitán: ¿Qué quería él con las bestias? ¿Por qué, también, había fingido que no eran suyos cuando al principio le comenté sobre ellos? Por otro lado, en su asistente personal había una característica extraña que me había impresionado profundamente. Estas circunstancias arrojaban una bruma de misterio alrededor del hombre. Se apoderaron de mi imaginación y me trababan la lengua.

Hacia la medianoche, nuestra conversación sobre Londres se extinguió y nos quedamos uno al lado del otro apoyándonos en los baluartes y mirando distraídamente el mar silencioso y estrellado, cada uno persiguiendo sus propios pensamientos. Era la atmósfera para el sentimentalismo, y comencé a expresarle mi gratitud.

"Si puedo decirlo", dije, después de un tiempo, "me salvó la vida". "Suerte", respondió. "Solo suerte". "Yo prefiero dar las gracias a quien está a mi alcance". "Gracias a nadie. Usted tenía la necesidad y yo tenía el conocimiento; y lo inyecté y alimenté tal como podría haber hecho con uno de los ejemplares que recojo. Estaba aburrido y quería hacer algo. Si ese día hubiera estado cansado, o si no me hubiera gustado su cara, bueno, es una pregunta curiosa dónde habría estado usted ahora". Esto enfrió mi estado de ánimo un poco. "De cualquier modo...", comencé.

"Es suerte, le digo ", interrumpió,"... como es todo en la vida de un hombre". ¡Solo los asnos no lo verán! ¿Por qué estoy aquí ahora, un paria de la civilización, en lugar de ser un hombre feliz disfrutando de todos los placeres de Londres? Simplemente porque hace once años, perdí la cabeza durante diez minutos en una noche de niebla". Se detuvo. "¿Sí?", dije.

"Eso es todo". Nos volvimos a quedar en silencio. Luego se rió. "Hay algo en esta luz de las estrellas que afloja la lengua. Soy un asno, y sin embargo de alguna manera me gustaría decírselo". "Lo que sea que me diga, puede confiar en que me lo guarde para mí... si eso es todo". Él estaba a punto de comenzar, y luego negó con la cabeza, dubitativamente.

"No", dije. "Para mí es lo mismo". Después de todo, es mejor que guarde su secreto. No ganaría nada más que un pequeño desahogo... si respetara su confianza. Y si no lo hago, ¿qué?”. Gruñó indeciso. Sentí que se encontraba en desventaja, lo había atrapado en un momento de imprudencia; y a decir verdad, no tenía curiosidad por saber qué es lo que podría haber alejado de Londres a un joven estudiante de medicina. Me imaginé algo. Me encogí de hombros y di media vuelta. Sobre la barandilla se apoyaba una figura silenciosa y negra, mirando las estrellas. Era el extraño asistente de Montgomery. Al moverme, miró rápidamente por encima de su hombro y luego miró hacia otro lado.

Tal vez a usted le pueda parecer algo insignificante, pero para mí fue como un golpe repentino. La única luz cerca de nosotros era un farol en el timón. La cara de la criatura apareció durante un breve instante desde la penumbra de la popa hacia esa iluminación, y vi que los ojos que me miraban brillaban con una luz verde pálida. En esa época no sabía que en los ojos humanos, al menos, no es poco común una luminosidad rojiza. En ese momento me pareció algo completamente inhumano. Esa figura negra con ojos de fuego derribó todos mis pensamientos y sentimientos adultos, y por un momento me volvieron a la mente los olvidados horrores de la infancia. Luego el efecto pasó como había venido. Una tosca figura negra de hombre, una figura sin importancia particular, se recortaba sobre el pasamanos contra la luz de las estrellas, y descubrí que Montgomery me estaba hablando.

"Estoy pensando en retirarme, entonces", dijo él, "Si ya ha tenido suficiente de esto", le respondí incongruentemente. Bajamos y en la puerta de mi cabina me deseó buenas noches.

Esa noche tuve algunos sueños muy desagradables. La luna menguante se levantó tarde. Su luz impactó con un fantasmal rayo blanco a través de mi cabina, e hizo una forma amenazante en las tablas de madera junto a mi litera. Entonces los perros se despertaron y comenzaron a aullar; de modo que soñé irregularmente, y apenas dormí hasta el amanecer.
unit 1
AT THE SCHOONER’S RAIL.
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THAT night land was sighted after sundown, and the schooner hove to.
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Montgomery intimated that was his destination.
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An almost vertical streak of smoke went up from it into the sky.
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The captain was not on deck when it was sighted.
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The mate practically assumed the command.
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He was the gaunt, taciturn individual we had seen at the wheel.
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Apparently he was in an evil temper with Montgomery.
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He took not the slightest notice of either of us.
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We dined with him in a sulky silence, after a few ineffectual efforts on my part to talk.
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We remained talking on the quarter deck until the sky was thick with stars.
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Montgomery produced some cigars.
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I gossiped as well as I could of this and that.
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Then I looked out at the darkling sea, where in the dimness his little island was hidden.
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This man, it seemed to me, had come out of Immensity merely to save my life.
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To-morrow he would drop over the side, and vanish again out of my existence.
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I found myself repeating the captain‘s question, What did he want with the beasts?
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Why, too, had he pretended they were not his when I had remarked about them at first?
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These circumstances threw a haze of mystery round the man.
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They laid hold of my imagination, and hampered my tongue.
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It was the atmosphere for sentiment, and I began upon my gratitude.
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“Just chance.” “I prefer to make my thanks to the accessible agent.” “Thank no one.
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I was bored, and wanted something to do.
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“At any rate,” I began.
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“It’s chance, I tell you,” he interrupted,—“as everything is in a man’s life.
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Only the asses won’t see it!
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Simply because eleven years ago—I lost my head for ten minutes on a foggy night.” He stopped.
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“Yes?” said I.
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“That’s all.” We relapsed into silence.
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Presently he laughed.
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“There’s something in this starlight that loosens one’s tongue.
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“Don’t,” said I.
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“It is all the same to me.
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After all, it is better to keep your secret.
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There’s nothing gained but a little relief if I respect your confidence.
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If I don’t—well?” He grunted undecidedly.
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I have an imagination.
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I shrugged my shoulders and turned away.
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Over the taffrail leant a silent black figure, watching the stars.
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It was Montgomery’s strange attendant.
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It looked over its shoulder quickly with my movement, then looked away again.
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It may seem a little thing to you, perhaps, but it came like a sudden blow to me.
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The only light near us was a lantern at the wheel.
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I did not know then that a reddish luminosity, at least, is not uncommon in human eyes.
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The thing came to me as stark inhumanity.
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Then the effect passed as it had come.
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We went below, and he wished me good-night at the door of my cabin.
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That night I had some very unpleasant dreams.
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The waning moon rose late.
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soybeba • 2077  translated  unit 49  4 months, 3 weeks ago

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 press him.

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 was hidden.

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.

“That’s all.”

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 to me.

“I’m thinking of turning in, then,” said he, “if you’ve had enough of this.”

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 of dawn.