en-es  The Island of Doctor Moreau/Chapter 11
La isla del doctor Moreau, de H. G. Wells
Capítulo 11


LA CACERÍA DEL HOMBRE


Vino a mi mente, con una esperanza irrazonable de escapar, que la puerta exterior de mi habitación aún estaba abierta. Ya estaba convencido, sin duda alguna, de que Moreau estaba haciendo la vivisección de un ser humano. Todo el tiempo desde que escuché su nombre, había estado tratando de vincular en mi mente de alguna manera las grotescas características animales de los isleños con sus aberraciones; y ahora pensé que lo comprendía todo. El recuerdo de su trabajo sobre la transfusión de sangre me volvió a la mente. Estas criaturas que había visto fueron víctimas de algún horrible experimento. Estos canallas repugnantes simplemente tenían la intención de detenerme, de engañarme con su muestra de confianza y de caer sobre mí con un destino más horrible que la muerte, con la tortura; y después de la tortura la degradación más horrible que fuera posible concebir, para enviarme hecho un alma perdida, una bestia, al descanso con sus bestias mitológicas de Comos.

Miré alrededor en busca de algún arma. Nada. Luego, con una inspiración, volteé la tumbona, le puse el pie en el costado y arranqué la barandilla lateral. Sucedió que un clavo se salió con la madera, y al salir volando, le dio un toque de peligro a un arma que de otro modo sería mezquina. Oí unas pisadas afuera, abrí la puerta descontroladamente y me encontré a Montgomery a una yarda de allí. ¡Él tenía pensado cerrar con llave la puerta exterior! Alcé mi palo con clavo e intenté hacer un tajo en su cara, pero dio un salto para atrás. Dudé un momentito, luego giré y huí, doblando en la esquina de la casa. "¡Prendick, hombre!". Oí su grito asombrado, "¡No seas loco, hombre!". Un minuto más, pensé, y me hubiera tenido encerrado con llave, y tan listo para mi destino como un conejo de hospital. Salió detrás de la esquina, porque oí su grito, "¡Prendick!". Luego empezó a correr tras de mí, gritando cosas mientras corría. Esta vez, corriendo ciegamente, fui al noreste en una dirección perpendicular a mi expedición anterior. Una vez, mientras corría apresuradamente por la playa, miré por encima de mi hombro y vi a su asistente con él. Corrí enérgicamente por la ladera, sobrepasándola, luego giré hacia el este a lo largo de un valle rocoso bordeado a ambos lados por la jungla. Corrí tal vez un kilómetro y medio, con el pecho oprimido, el corazón latiendo mis oídos; y al no oír nada de Montgomery ni de su hombre, y sintiéndome al borde del agotamiento, doblé bruscamente hacia atrás, hacia la playa, como pensaba, y me tendí al abrigo de un cañaveral. Estuve allí mucho tiempo, demasiado temeroso para moverme y, de hecho, incluso demasiado temeroso para planear un curso de acción. La escena salvaje a mi alrededor reposaba silenciosamente bajo el sol, y el único sonido cerca de mí era el zumbido de algunos pequeños mosquitos que me habían descubierto. Pronto me di cuenta de un susurro adormecedor, el rumor del mar sobre la playa.

Después de alrededor de una hora escuché a Montgomery gritar mi nombre, muy lejos hacia el norte. Eso me hizo pensar en mi plan de acción. Como lo interpreté entonces, esta isla estaba habitada solo por estos dos vivisectores y sus víctimas embrutecidas. A algunos de ellos sin duda podrían arrojarlos contra mí si fuera necesario. Sabía que tanto Moreau como Montgomery llevaban revólveres; y, salvo por una débil vara con un pequeño clavo, el más ridículo remedo de una maza, estaba desarmado.

Estuve tirado ahí, quieto, hasta que empecé a pensar en comida y bebida; y al pensar eso, lo verdaderamente desesperante de mi situación me vino a la mente. No tenía ni idea de cómo conseguir algo que comer. Era demasiado ignorante de la botánica como para descubrir alguna raiz o fruta que pudiera estar cerca; no tenía medios para atrapar los pocos conejos de la isla. Cuanto más reflexionaba sobre la situación, tanto más borrosa se volvía. Por fin, en la desesperación de mi situación, me concentré otra vez en los hombres-animales que había encontrado Intenté encontrar alguna esperanza en lo que recordaba de ellos. Uno por uno recordé los que había visto, e intenté sacar de mi memoria algun presagio de apoyo.

Luego de repente oí el ladrido de un perro de caza, y en eso me di cuenta de un nuevo peligro. Perdí poco tiempo en pensar, o me habrían pillado en el acto, pero agarrando mi palo con clavo, corrí apresuradamente de mi escondite hacia el sonido del mar. Recuerdo un área de plantas espinosas que me pinchaban como navajas. Emergí sangrando con la ropa rasgada a la orilla de un largo riachuelo que se abría al norte. Me metí directamente al agua sin dudar un instante, vadeando por el riachuelo, hasta encontrarme metido hasta las rodillas en un pequeño río. Por fin salí con dificultad a la orilla del oeste, y con el corazon latiendo fuertemente en los oídos, trepé a una maraña de helechos para esperar. Oí el perro (hubo solo uno) acercarse, y aullar cuando llegó a las espinas. Luego no oí nada más, y pronto empecé a creer que había escapado.

Los minutos pasaron; se prolongó el silencio, y después de una hora de seguridad, el coraje por fin me empezó a volver. Para entonces ya no estaba muy aterrado ni muy deprimido. Había, por así decirlo, atrevesado el límite del terror y desesperación. Ahora pensaba que mi vida estaba prácticamente perdida, y esa idea me hizo capaz de intentar cualquier cosa. Tenía incluso un cierto deseo de encontrarme con Moreau cara a cara; y mientras me adentraba en el agua, recordé que si me apretaba demasiado, por lo menos quedaba un camino para escapar del tormento... no podían evitar que me ahogara. Casi pensaba ahogarme entonces; pero un deseo extraño de experimentar toda la aventura, un interés extraño, impersonal y espectacular en mí, me contuvo. Extendí mis extremidades, lastimadas y doloridas por los pinchazos de las plantas espinosas, y miré los árboles a mi alrededor; y, tan repentinamente que pareció brotar por doquier de la maraña verde, mis ojos se enfocaron sobre una cara negra que me miraba. Vi que era la criatura simiesca que había encontrado al atracar en la playa. Estaba aferrado al tallo oblicuo de una palmera. Agarré mi bastón y me puse de pie frente a él. Comenzó a parlotear. "Tú, tú, tú", fue todo lo que pude distinguir al principio. De repente se dejó caer del árbol, y en otro instante estaba sosteniendo separadas las hojas y mirándome con curiosidad.

No sentí la misma repugnancia hacia esta criatura como la que había experimentado en mis encuentros con los otros hombres bestia. "Tú", dijo, "en el bote". Era un hombre, entonces, -al menos tan hombre como el asistente de Montgomery-, porque podía hablar.

"Sí", le dije, "llegué en el bote. Desde el barco". "¡Oh!", dijo, y sus ojos brillantes e inquietos viajaron sobre mí, a mis manos, al palo que llevaba, a mis pies, a los lugares andrajosos de mi abrigo y los cortes y arañazos que había recibido de las espinas. Parecía desconcertado por algo. Sus ojos regresaron a mis manos. Extendió su propia mano y lentamente contó sus dedos, "Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco...¿eh?". No comprendí su significado entonces; más tarde descubriría que una gran proporción de estos hombres bestia tenían las manos malformadas, faltando incluso hasta tres dedos. Pero suponiendo que esto fuera de alguna manera un saludo, hice lo mismo como respuesta. Sonrió con inmensa satisfacción. Luego su mirada errante y rápida recorrió alrededor otra vez... hizo un movimiento veloz...y se desvaneció. Los helechos en los que se había quedado se movieron juntos.

Tras él, hice a un lado al matorral, y me sorprendió encontrarlo columpiándose alegremente colgado de un brazo de una liana que se desenroscaba desde el follaje sobre nuestras cabezas. Estaba de espaldas a mí.

“¡Hola!”, dije.

Bajó girando de un salto y se paró frente a mí.

"Mira", dije, "¿dónde puedo conseguir algo de comer?". "¡Comer!", dijo. "Come comida de hombre, ahora". Y su mirada volvió al balanceo de las lianas. "En las cabañas". "Pero, ¿dónde están las cabañas?". "¡Oh!". "Soy nuevo, ya sabes". Ante eso dio media vuelta y emprendió una caminata rápida. Todos sus movimientos fueron curiosamente rápidos. "Vamos", dijo él.

Fui con él para experimentar la aventura. Supuse que las cabañas eran un refugio rústico donde vivían él y algunos más de estos hombres bestia. Quizás los encontrara amistosos, encontrara algo en sus mentes para poder tratarlos. No sabía hasta qué punto habían olvidado su herencia humana.

Mi simiesco compañero trotó a mi lado, con las manos colgando y la mandíbula hacia adelante. Me pregunté qué recuerdo podría retener en él. "¿Cuánto tiempo has estado en esta isla?", dije.

"¿Cuánto tiempo?", Preguntó. y después de repetir la pregunta, levantó tres dedos.

La criatura era poco mejor que un idiota. Traté de entender qué quería decir con eso, y parece que lo aburrí. Después de otra pregunta o dos, repentinamente se apartó de mi lado y saltó sobre una fruta que colgaba de un árbol. Arrancó un puñado de cáscaras espinosas y siguió comiendo el contenido. Lo noté con satisfacción, porque aquí al menos había un indicio de comida. Lo acosé con algunas otras preguntas, pero sus respuestas parlanchinas y rápidas a menudo no coincidían con mi pregunta. Unas pocas fueron apropiadas, otras bastante parecidas a las de un loro.

Estaba tan concentrado en estas peculiaridades que apenas noté el camino que seguimos. Luego llegamos a los árboles, todos carbonizados y marrones, y así a un lugar desnudo cubierto por una incrustación amarillo-blancuzca, a través de la cual se elevaba humo, con un tufillo acre para la nariz y ojos, yendo a la deriva. A nuestra derecha, sobre una superficie de roca desnuda, vi el nivel azul del mar. El sendero se derrumbó abruptamente en un estrecho barranco entre dos masas caídas y nudosas de escoria negruzca. En esto nos hundimos.

Este pasaje estaba extremadamente oscuro, tras la luz cegadora reflejada en el suelo sulfuroso. Sus paredes se volvieron abruptas y se acercaban la una a la otra. Manchas de verde y carmesí vagaban por mis ojos. Mi conductor se detuvo de repente. -¡Casa!-, dijo él, y yo paré en el piso de un abismo que al principio era absolutamente oscuro para mí. Oí algunos ruidos extraños, y me puse los nudillos de la mano izquierda en los ojos. Me di cuenta de un olor desagradable, como el de la jaula de un mono mal limpiada. Más allá, la roca se abría de nuevo sobre una suave pendiente de verdor iluminado por el sol, y, a ambos lados, la luz se filtraba a través de estrechos caminos hacia la penumbra central.
unit 1
The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells.
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Chapter 11.
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THE HUNTING OF THE MAN.
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I was convinced now, absolutely assured, that Moreau had been vivisecting a human being.
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The memory of his work on the transfusion of blood recurred to me.
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These creatures I had seen were the victims of some hideous experiment.
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I looked round for some weapon.
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Nothing.
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He meant to lock the outer door!
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I raised this nailed stick of mine and cut at his face; but he sprang back.
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I hesitated a moment, then turned and fled round the corner of the house.
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Presently I became aware of a drowsy breathing sound, the soughing of the sea upon the beach.
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After about an hour I heard Montgomery shouting my name, far away to the north.
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That set me thinking of my plan of action.
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Some of these no doubt they could press into their service against me if need arose.
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I knew no way of getting anything to eat.
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It grew blanker the more I turned the prospect over.
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At last in the desperation of my position, my mind turned to the animal men I had encountered.
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I tried to find some hope in what I remembered of them.
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In turn I recalled each one I had seen, and tried to draw some augury of assistance from my memory.
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Then suddenly I heard a stag-hound bay, and at that realised a new danger.
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I remember a growth of thorny plants, with spines that stabbed like pen-knives.
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I emerged bleeding and with torn clothes upon the lip of a long creek opening northward.
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I heard the dog (there was only one) draw nearer, and yelp when it came to the thorns.
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Then I heard no more, and presently began to think I had escaped.
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By this time I was no longer very much terrified or very miserable.
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I had, as it were, passed the limit of terror and despair.
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I saw that it was the simian creature who had met the launch upon the beach.
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He was clinging to the oblique stem of a palm-tree.
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I gripped my stick, and stood up facing him.
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He began chattering.
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“You, you, you,” was all I could distinguish at first.
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“Yes,” I said, “I came in the boat.
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He seemed puzzled at something.
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His eyes came back to my hands.
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But guessing this was in some way a greeting, I did the same thing by way of reply.
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He grinned with immense satisfaction.
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Then his swift roving glance went round again; he made a swift movement—and vanished.
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The fern fronds he had stood between came swishing together.
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His back was to me.
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“Hullo!” said I.
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He came down with a twisting jump, and stood facing me.
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“I say,” said I, “where can I get something to eat?” “Eat!” he said.
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“Eat Man’s food, now.” And his eye went back to the swing of ropes.
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All his motions were curiously rapid.
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“Come along,” said he.
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I went with him to see the adventure out.
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I guessed the huts were some rough shelter where he and some more of these Beast People lived.
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I might perhaps find them friendly, find some handle in their minds to take hold of.
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I did not know how far they had forgotten their human heritage.
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I wondered what memory he might have in him.
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“How long have you been on this island?” said I.
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“How long?” he asked; and after having the question repeated, he held up three fingers.
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The creature was little better than an idiot.
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I tried to make out what he meant by that, and it seems I bored him.
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He pulled down a handful of prickly husks and went on eating the contents.
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I noted this with satisfaction, for here at least was a hint for feeding.
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Some few were appropriate, others quite parrot-like.
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I was so intent upon these peculiarities that I scarcely noticed the path we followed.
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On our right, over a shoulder of bare rock, I saw the level blue of the sea.
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Into this we plunged.
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Its walls grew steep, and approached each other.
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Blotches of green and crimson drifted across my eyes.
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My conductor stopped suddenly.
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“Home!” said he, and I stood in a floor of a chasm that was at first absolutely dark to me.
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I heard some strange noises, and thrust the knuckles of my left hand into my eyes.
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I became aware of a disagreeable odor, like that of a monkey’s cage ill-cleaned.
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The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells.
Chapter 11.

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 was possible to conceive,—to send me off a lost soul, a beast, to the rest of their Comus rout.

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 the beach.

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 Montmogery 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 stag-hound 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 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 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!”

“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 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 scoriæ. 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.