en-es  The Island of Doctor Moreau/Chapter 14
EL DOCTOR MOREAU EXPLICA.


"Y ahora, Prendick, lo explicaré", dijo el doctor Moreau, tan pronto como habíamos comido y bebido. "Debo confesar que es el invitado más dictatorial que he recibido. Le advierto que esto es lo último que haré para complacerlo. Lo próximo sobre lo que Ud. amenace con suicidarse, no lo haré... ni siquiera por alguna molestia personal", dijo, sentado en mi reposera, con un cigarro medio consumido en sus dedos blancos y de apariencia diestra. La luz de la lámpara oscilante cayó sobre su pelo blanco; miró fijamente por la ventanita hacia afuera, a la luz de las estrellas. Me senté lo más lejos posible de él, la mesa entre nosotros y los revólveres a mano. Montgomery no estaba presente. No me convenía estar con los dos en una habitación tan pequeña.

"¿Admite que el ser humano viviseccionado, como lo llamó, es, después de todo, solo el puma?", dijo Moreau. Me había hecho visitar ese horror en la habitación interna para asegurarme que la víctima no era humana.

"Es el puma", dije, "todavía vivo, pero tan cortado y mutilado como ruego no volver a ver nunca carne viviente". De todo lo repugnante...". "Eso no importa", dijo Moreau; "Al menos, perdóneme esos horrores juveniles". Montgomery solía ser el mismo. Usted admite que es el puma. Ahora cállese, mientras desembucho mi conferencia fisiológica". Y de inmediato, comenzando con el tono de un hombre extremadamente aburrido, pero que ahora se estaba entusiasmando un poco, me explicó su trabajo. Era muy simple y convincente. De vez en cuando, había un toque de sarcasmo en su voz. Inmediatamente me encontré abochornado de vergüenza por nuestras posiciones mutuas.

Las criaturas que había visto no eran hombres, nunca habían sido hombres. Eran animales, animales humanizados... triunfos de la vivisección.

"Se olvida de todo lo que un vivisector habilidoso puede hacer con los seres vivos", dijo Moreau. "Por mi parte, estoy desconcertado por qué lo que he hecho aquí no ha sido hecho antes. Pequeños esfuerzos, por supuesto, se han realizado... amputación, corte de lengua, ablaciones. Por supuesto, ¿sabe que un estrabismo puede ser inducido o curado mediante cirugía? Así que en el caso de las ablaciones hay toda clase de cambios secundarios, perturbaciones del pigmento, modificaciones de las emociones, cambios en las secreciones de tejidos grasos. ¿No tengo duda de que ha oído de estas cosas?". "Por supuesto", dije. "Pero estas criaturas repugnantes de usted...". "Todo a su debido tiempo", dijo él, agitando la mano hacia mí; "apenas estoy comenzando. Esos son casos triviales de alteración. La cirugía puede hacer mejores cosas. Además de deshacer y cambiar, hay construir. Ha oído, tal vez, de una operación quirúrgica a que se recurre en casos en que la nariz ha sido destrozada; se corta un trozo de piel de la frente, se lo dobla sobre la nariz, y luego crece en la nueva posición. Este es un tipo de injerto en una nueva ubicación de parte de un animal sobre sí mismo. También es posible el injerto de material recién obtenido de otro animal..el caso de los dientes, por ejemplo. El injerto de piel y hueso se realiza para facilitar la curación: el cirujano coloca en el medio de la herida trozos de piel cortados de otro animal o fragmentos de hueso de una víctima recién sacrificada. El espolón del cazador (posiblemente usted haya oído hablar de eso) prosperó en el cuello del toro; y las ratas rinoceronte de los zouaves argelinos también deben ser consideradas monstruos fabricados por transferencia de la cola de una rata ordinaria a su hocico, y permitiendo que se cure en esa posición". "¡Monstruos fabricados!", dije. "Entonces quiere decirme...". "Sí. Estas criaturas que ha visto son animales tallados y labrados en nuevas formas. Para eso, al estudio de la plasticidad de las formas de vida, he dedicado mi vida. He estudiado durante años, obteniendo conocimientos a medida que avanzo. Lo veo horrorizado y, sin embargo, no le estoy diciendo nada nuevo. Todo quedó evidenciado en la anatomía práctica hace años, pero nadie tuvo la temeridad de tocarlo. No es simplemente la forma externa de un animal la que puedo cambiar. La fisiología, el ritmo químico de la criatura, también puede someterse a una modificación duradera... de la cual la vacunación y otros métodos de inoculación con material vivo o muerto son ejemplos que le serán familiares, sin duda. Una operación similar es la transfusión de sangre, con la cual comencé, por cierto. Estos son todos casos familiares. Menos familiares, y probablemente mucho más extensas, eran las operaciones de aquellos practicantes medievales que creaban enanos y pordioseros mutilados, monstruos de espectáculo..., algunos rastros de cuyo arte aún existen en las manipulaciones preliminares del joven charlatán o contorsionista. Victor Hugo da un reporte de ellos en 'L'Homme qui Rit.'...Pero quizás ya esté claro mi intención. Comienza a ver que es posible trasplantar tejido de una parte de un animal a otra o de un animal a otro; alterar sus reacciones químicas y métodos de crecimiento; modificar las articulaciones de sus extremidades; y, de hecho, cambiarlo en su estructura más íntima.

¡Y sin embargo, esta rama extraordinaria del conocimiento nunca ha sido buscada como un fin, y de forma sistemática, por los investigadores modernos hasta que la retomé! Algunas de estas cosas han sido descubiertas como el último recurso de la cirugía; la mayoría de las pruebas afines que volverán a su mente han sido demostradas accidentalmente... por tiranos, criminales, criadores de caballos y perros, por todo tipo de hombres torpes y desentrenados que trabajan para sus propios fines inmediatos. Fui el primer hombre en abordar esta cuestión armado con cirugía antiséptica y con un conocimiento realmente científico de las leyes del crecimiento. Sin embargo, uno imaginaría que debe haber sido practicado en secreto antes. Criaturas como los gemelos siameses ... Y en las bóvedas de la Inquisición. Sin duda, su principal objetivo era la tortura artística, pero al menos algunos de los inquisidores deben haber tenido un toque de curiosidad científica" " Pero", dije yo,"estas cosas... ¡estos animales hablan!". Él dijo que era así, y procedió señalar que las posibilidades de la vivisección no se detienen en una mera metamorfosis física. Un cerdo puede ser educado. La estructura mental está aún menos determinada que la corporal. En nuestra creciente ciencia del hipnotismo, encontramos la promesa de una posibilidad de reemplazar los viejos instintos innatos por nuevas sugerencias, injertando o reemplazando las ideas fijas heredadas. De hecho, mucho de lo que llamamos educación moral, dijo, es una modificación artificial y una perversión del instinto; la belicosidad es amansada en un valiente auto sacrificio y la sexualidad reprimida en la emoción religiosa. Y la gran diferencia entre el hombre y el mono es la laringe, continuó,....en la incapacidad de formular símbolos de sonidos ligeramente diferentes por medio de los cuales se puede sostener el pensamiento. En esto no pude coincidír con él, pero con una cierta descortesía, no tomó en cuenta mi oposición. Repitió que así era la cosa, y continuó el reporte de su trabajo.

Le pregunté por qué había escogido la forma humana como modelo. Me pareció entonces, y me parece todavía, que hubo una extraña maldad en aquella elección.

Me confesó que había escogido esa forma por casualidad. "Igualmente podría haber trabajado para transformar las ovejas en llamas y las llamas en ovejas. Supongo que hay algo en la forma humana que atrae a la inclinación artística con más fuerza que cualquier forma animal. Pero no me limité a crear hombres. Una vez o dos...", se quedó quieto quizás un minuto. "¡Estos años!. ¡Qué rápido han pasado! ¡Y aquí he perdido un día salvando su vida, y ahora estoy perdiendo una hora explicándome!". " Pero", dije, "todavía no entiendo. ¿Cómo puede justificar causar tanto dolor? Para mí, lo único que podría excusar la vivisección sería alguna aplicación... ". " Precisamente", dijo él. "Pero, ya ve, estoy hecho de manera diferente. Estamos en diferentes plataformas. Usted es materialista". "No soy materialista ", empecé acaloradamente.

"En mi opinión... en mi opinión. Porque es precisamente esta cuestión de dolor lo que nos separa. Mientras el dolor visible o audible lo enferme; siempre que sus propios dolores le guíen; siempre que el dolor subyaga en sus tesis sobre el pecado... mientras tanto, le digo, usted es un animal, pensando un poco menos oscuramente lo que siente un animal. Este dolor...", me encogí de hombros impaciente ante semejante sofistería.

"¡Oh, pero es tamaña pequeñez! Una mente verdaderamente abierta a lo que la ciencia tiene que enseñar debe entender que es una pequeñez. Puede ser que, salvo en este pequeño planeta, esta mota de polvo cósmico, invisible mucho antes de que pudiera alcanzarse la estrella más cercana, puede ser, digo, que en ninguna otra parte exista esto que se llama dolor. Pero las leyes que creemos en nuestro camino... ¿Por qué, incluso en esta tierra, incluso entre los seres vivos, qué dolor hay?". Mientras hablaba, sacó una pequeña navaja del bolsillo, abrió la hoja más pequeña y movió su silla para que yo le pudiera ver el muslo. Luego, eligiendo el lugar deliberadamente, se clavó la cuchilla en la pierna y la retiró.

"Sin duda", dijo, "ya lo ha visto antes". Un pinchazo no duele. Pero, ¿qué demuestra? La sensibilidad al dolor no es necesaria en el músculo, y no se coloca allí... es poco necesaria en la piel, y solo aquí y allá sobre el muslo hay un punto capaz de sentir dolor. El dolor es simplemente nuestro consejero médico interno, para advertirnos y estimularnos. No toda la carne viva siente dolor; ni es toda nervio, ni siquiera todo nervio sensorial. No hay tono de dolor, dolor real, en las sensaciones del nervio óptico. Si se hiere el nervio óptico, simplemente se ve destellos de luz... así como la enfermedad del nervio auditivo significa simplemente un zumbido en nuestros oídos. Las plantas no sienten dolor, ni los animales inferiores; es posible que animales tales como la estrella de mar y el cangrejo de río no sientan nada de dolor. Luego, con los hombres, cuanto más inteligentes se vuelvan, más inteligentemente buscarán su bienestar y menos necesitarán el aguijón para mantenerse fuera del peligro. Nunca oí hablar de algo inútil que tarde o temprano no fuera destruido por la evolución. ¿No es así? Y el dolor se vuelve innecesario.

"Entonces soy un hombre religioso, Prendick, como debe serlo todo hombre en su sano juicio. Puede ser, supongo, que yo haya visto más de los modales del Creador de este mundo que usted... porque he buscado sus leyes, a mi manera, toda la vida, mientras que usted, tengo entendido, ha estado coleccionando mariposas. Y le digo que el placer y el dolor no tienen nada que ver con el cielo o el infierno. Placer y dolor... ¡bah! ¿Cuál es su éxtasis de teólogo, sino la hurí de Mahoma en la oscuridad? Esta importancia que ponen hombres y mujeres en el placer y el dolor, Prendick, es la marca de la bestia sobre ellos... ¡la marca de la bestia de la que vinieron! Dolor, dolor y placer, estarán en nosotros solo mientras nos sigamos revolcando en el polvo.

"Mire, continué con esta investigación tal como me condujo. Esa es la única forma en que alguna vez oí de la verdadera marcha de la investigación. Hice una pregunta, ideé algún método para obtener una respuesta y obtuve una nueva pregunta. ¿Era posible esto o aquello? No puede imaginar lo que esto significa para un investigador, ¡qué pasión intelectual crece en él! ¡No puede imaginar la delicia extraña y amorfa de estos deseos intelectuales! Lo que tiene delante ya no es un animal, una criatura, ¡sino un problema! Dolor compasivo... todo lo que sé lo recuerdo como algo que solía sufrir hace años. Quería... era lo único que quería... descubrir el límite extremo de la plasticidad en una forma de vida". " Pero," dije, "el asunto es una aberración...". "Hasta hoy, nunca me he preocupado acerca de la ética del asunto", continuó. "El estudio de la naturaleza, al final hace a un hombre tan despiadado como la naturaleza. He continuado, sin prestar atención a nada más que a la cuestión que estaba persiguiendo; y el material ha... se ha filtrado en las chozas de más allá. Han pasado once años desde que llegamos aquí, yo, Montgomery y seis kanakas. Recuerdo la verde quietud de la isla y el océano vacío a nuestro alrededor, como si fuera ayer. El lugar parecía estar esperándome.

"Las provisiones se desembarcaron y se construyó la casa. Los kanakas fundaron algunas cabañas cerca del barranco. Comencé a trabajar aquí con lo que traje conmigo. Al principio, sucedieron unas cosas desagradbles. Empecé con una oveja y la maté después de un día y medio por un error del escalpelo. Tomé otra oveja, produje algo de dolor y miedo y la suturé para que sanara. Me pareció bastante humana cuando la terminé; pero cuando fui a verla estuve descontento con eso. Me recordaba y estaba aterrorizada más allá de lo imaginable; y no tenía más que la mentalidad de una oveja. Cuanto más la miraba, más burda parecía, hasta que finalmente eliminé al monstruo. Estos animales sin coraje, estas cosas atormentadas por el miedo, impulsadas por el dolor, sin una chispa de energía belicosa para enfrentar el tormento, no sirven para crear hombres.

Entonces tomé un gorila que tenía; y sobre eso, trabajando con infinito cuidado y superando dificultad tras dificultad, hice mi primer hombre. Toda la semana, noche y día, lo moldeé. Con él, era principalmente el cerebro lo que necesitaba moldeo; mucho tuvo que ser agregado y muy cambiado. Creí que era un buen ejemplar del tipo negroide cuando lo terminé y yacía vendado, atado e inmóvil ante mí. Solo cuando su vida estuvo fuera de peligro, lo dejé y volví a esta habitación y encontré a Montgomery de la misma manera como está usted. Había escuchado algunos de los gritos a medida que la cosa se volvía humana... gritos como los que tanto le perturbaron a usted. Al principio no me confié completamente en él. Y los kanakas también se habían dado cuenta de algo de eso. Estaban desesperadamente asustados al verme. Tengo a Montgomery a mi lado... de algún modo; pero yo y él tuvimos el trabajo más difícil para evitar que los kanakas desertasen. Finalmente lo hicieron y entonces perdimos el yate. Pasé muchos días educando a la bestia... lo hice durante tres o cuatro meses en total. Le enseñé los rudimentos de inglés; le di nociones de cuentas; incluso hice que la cosa leyera el alfabeto. Pero en eso fue lenta, aunque he conocido idiotas más lentos. Empezó con una hoja limpia, mentalmente; en su mente no tenía recuerdos de lo que había sido. Cuando sus cicatrices se curaron por completo, y ya no estaba nada más que doloroso y rígido y fue capaz de conversar un poco, lo llevé allí y lo presenté a los kanakas como un polizón interesante.

"Al principio, de alguna manera, le tenían un miedo horrible... lo que más bien me ofendió, porque estaba orgulloso por él; pero sus maneras parecían tan suaves, y él era tan abyecto, que después de un tiempo lo recibieron y se encargaron de su educación. Fue rápido en aprender, muy imitador y adaptable, y se construyó una choza bastante mejor, me pareció, que las de los propios kanakas. Había uno entre los muchachos, un poco misionero,que le enseñó a leer, o al menos a escoger letras y le dio algunas ideas rudimentarias de moralidad; pero parece que los hábitos de la bestia no eran demasiado deseables.

"Después de esto, descansé del trabajo durante algunos días y pensé en escribir un relato de todo el asunto para llamar la atención de los fisiólogos ingleses. Entonces me encontré con la criatura acuclillada en un árbol y farfullando a dos de los kanakas que lo habían estado molestando. Lo amenacé, le dije lo inhumano de tal proceder, desperté su sentido de la vergüenza y volví a casa decidido a hacerlo mejor antes de llevar mi trabajo a Inglaterra. He estado haciéndolo mejor. Pero de alguna manera las cosas volvieron a ser como eran: la carne terca de la bestia crece de nuevo día tras día. Pero aún pretendo hacer cosas mejores. Quiero superar eso. Este puma... "Pero esa es la historia. Todos los muchachos kanaka están muertos ahora; uno cayó por la borda de la lancha y otro murió por un talón lastimado que envenenó de alguna manera con jugo de plantas. Tres se fueron en el yate... y supongo y espero que se ahogaron. El otro... lo mataron. Bueno, los he reemplazado. Montgomery continuó de la misma forma como estaba usted dispuesto a hacerlo al principio, y luego... ". "¿Qué pasó con el otro?", dije bruscamente, "-¿el otro Kanaka que fue asesinado?". "El hecho es que, después de haber hecho un número de criaturas humanas hice una cosa". Vaciló.

"Sí", dije.

"Lo mataron". "No comprendo", dije: "quiere decir..." "Él mató a los Kanakas...sí. Mató varias otras cosas que atrapó. 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 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 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 that 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 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.
unit 1
DOCTOR MOREAU EXPLAINS.
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“And now, Prendick, I will explain,” said Doctor Moreau, so soon as we had eaten and drunk.
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“I must confess that you are the most dictatorial guest I ever entertained.
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I warn you that this is the last I shall do to oblige you.
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I sat as far away from him as possible, the table between us and the revolvers to hand.
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Montgomery was not present.
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I did not care to be with the two of them in such a little room.
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He had made me visit that horror in the inner room, to assure myself of its inhumanity.
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Of all vile—” “Never mind that,” said Moreau; “at least, spare me those youthful horrors.
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Montgomery used to be just the same.
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You admit that it is the puma.
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He was very simple and convincing.
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Now and then there was a touch of sarcasm in his voice.
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Presently I found myself hot with shame at our mutual positions.
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The creatures I had seen were not men, had never been men.
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They were animals, humanised animals,—triumphs of vivisection.
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“You forget all that a skilled vivisector can do with living things,” said Moreau.
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“For my own part, I’m puzzled why the things I have done here have not been done before.
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Small efforts, of course, have been made,—amputation, tongue-cutting, excisions.
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Of course you know a squint may be induced or cured by surgery?
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I have no doubt you have heard of these things?” “Of course,” said I.
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Those are trivial cases of alteration.
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Surgery can do better things than that.
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There is building up as well as breaking down and changing.
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This is a kind of grafting in a new position of part of an animal upon itself.
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“Then you mean to tell me—” “Yes.
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These creatures you have seen are animals carven and wrought into new shapes.
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To that, to the study of the plasticity of living forms, my life has been devoted.
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I have studied for years, gaining in knowledge as I go.
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I see you look horrified, and yet I am telling you nothing new.
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It all lay in the surface of practical anatomy years ago, but no one had the temerity to touch it.
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It’s not simply the outward form of an animal which I can change.
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A similar operation is the transfusion of blood,—with which subject, indeed, I began.
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These are all familiar cases.
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Yet one would imagine it must have been practised in secret before.
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Such creatures as the Siamese Twins— And in the vaults of the Inquisition.
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A pig may be educated.
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The mental structure is even less determinate than the bodily.
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He repeated that the thing was so, and continued his account of his work.
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I asked him why he had taken the human form as a model.
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There seemed to me then, and there still seems to me now, a strange wickedness for that choice.
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unit 65
He confessed that he had chosen that form by chance.
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unit 66
“I might just as well have worked to form sheep into llamas and llamas into sheep.
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unit 68
But I’ve not confined myself to man-making.
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unit 69
Once or twice—” He was silent, for a minute perhaps.
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unit 70
“These years!
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unit 71
How they have slipped by!
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unit 73
Where is your justification for inflicting all this pain?
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unit 75
“But, you see, I am differently constituted.
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unit 76
We are on different platforms.
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unit 77
You are a materialist.” “I am not a materialist,” I began hotly.
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unit 78
“In my view—in my view.
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unit 79
For it is just this question of pain that parts us.
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unit 81
This pain—” I gave an impatient shrug at such sophistry.
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unit 82
“Oh, but it is such a little thing!
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unit 83
A mind truly opened to what science has to teach must see that it is a little thing.
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unit 86
Then, choosing the place deliberately, he drove the blade into his leg and withdrew it.
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unit 87
“No doubt,” he said, “you have seen that before.
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unit 88
It does not hurt a pin-prick.
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unit 89
But what does it show?
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unit 91
Pain is simply our intrinsic medical adviser to warn us and stimulate us.
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unit 92
Not all living flesh is painful; nor is all nerve, not even all sensory nerve.
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unit 93
There’s no tint of pain, real pain, in the sensations of the optic nerve.
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unit 97
unit 98
Did you?
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unit 99
And pain gets needless.
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unit 100
“Then I am a religious man, Prendick, as every sane man must be.
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unit 102
And I tell you, pleasure and pain have nothing to do with heaven or hell.
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unit 103
Pleasure and pain—bah!
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unit 104
What is your theologian’s ecstasy but Mahomet’s houri in the dark?
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unit 106
Pain, pain and pleasure, they are for us only so long as we wriggle in the dust.
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unit 107
“You see, I went on with this research just the way it led me.
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unit 108
That is the only way I ever heard of true research going.
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unit 109
I asked a question, devised some method of obtaining an answer, and got a fresh question.
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unit 110
Was this possible or that possible?
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unit 111
You cannot imagine what this means to an investigator, what an intellectual passion grows upon him!
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unit 112
You cannot imagine the strange, colourless delight of these intellectual desires!
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unit 113
The thing before you is no longer an animal, a fellow-creature, but a problem!
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unit 114
Sympathetic pain,—all I know of it I remember as a thing I used to suffer from years ago.
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unit 116
“The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorseless as Nature.
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unit 118
It is really eleven years since we came here, I and Montgomery and six Kanakas.
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unit 119
unit 120
The place seemed waiting for me.
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unit 121
“The stores were landed and the house was built.
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unit 122
The Kanakas founded some huts near the ravine.
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unit 123
I went to work here upon what I had brought with me.
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unit 124
There were some disagreeable things happened at first.
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unit 125
I began with a sheep, and killed it after a day and a half by a slip of the scalpel.
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unit 126
I took another sheep, and made a thing of pain and fear and left it bound up to heal.
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unit 128
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The more I looked at it the clumsier it seemed, until at last I put the monster out of its misery.
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unit 132
All the week, night and day, I moulded him.
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unit 133
With him it was chiefly the brain that needed moulding; much had to be added, much changed.
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unit 136
He had heard some of the cries as the thing grew human,—cries like those that disturbed you so.
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unit 137
I didn’t take him completely into my confidence at first.
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unit 138
And the Kanakas too, had realised something of it.
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unit 139
They were scared out of their wits by the sight of me.
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unit 141
Finally they did; and so we lost the yacht.
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unit 142
I spent many days educating the brute,—altogether I had him for three or four months.
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unit 143
unit 144
But at that he was slow, though I’ve met with idiots slower.
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unit 145
He began with a clean sheet, mentally; had no memories left in his mind of what he had been.
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unit 153
I have been doing better.
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unit 155
But I mean to do better things still.
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unit 156
I mean to conquer that.
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unit 157
This puma— “But that‘s the story.
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unit 159
Three went away in the yacht, and I suppose and hope were drowned.
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unit 160
The other one—was killed.
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unit 161
Well, I have replaced them.
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unit 163
“Yes,” said I.
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unit 165
It killed several other things that it caught.
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unit 166
We chased it for a couple of days.
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unit 167
It only got loose by accident—I never meant it to get away.
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unit 168
It wasn’t finished.
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unit 169
It was purely an experiment.
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unit 171
It was immensely strong, and in infuriating pain.
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unit 173
Montgomery insisted upon coming with me.
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Montgomery shot the thing.
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I sat in silence watching his face.
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It’s afterwards, as I observe them, that the persuasion fades.
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unit 188
But I will conquer yet!
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unit 190
Men have been a hundred thousand in the making.” He thought darkly.
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unit 191
“But I am drawing near the fastness.
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unit 192
This puma of mine—” After a silence, “And they revert.
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unit 194
“Then you take the things you make into those dens?” said I.
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“They go.
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unit 197
They all dread this house and me.
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unit 198
There is a kind of travesty of humanity over there.
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unit 199
Montgomery knows about it, for he interferes in their affairs.
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unit 200
He has trained one or two of them to our service.
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He’s ashamed of it, but I believe he half likes some of those beasts.
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unit 202
It’s his business, not mine.
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unit 203
They only sicken me with a sense of failure.
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unit 204
I take no interest in them.
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unit 206
There’s something they call the Law.
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unit 210
It only mocks me.
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unit 211
I have some hope of that puma.
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unit 215
Then I shivered.
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unit 217
“Keep them,” he said, and snatched at a yawn.
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unit 218
He stood up, stared at me for a moment, and smiled.
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unit 219
“You have had two eventful days,” said he.
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unit 220
“I should advise some sleep.
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unit 221
I’m glad it’s all clear.
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unit 223
I immediately turned the key in the outer one.
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The black window stared at me like an eye.
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At last with an effort I put out the light and got into the hammock.
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Very soon I was asleep.
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soybeba • 2080  commented on  unit 48  2 months, 2 weeks ago

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 sha’n’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 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 material 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’s 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 mediæval practitioners who made dwarfs and beggar-cripples, show-monsters,—some vestiges of whose art 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 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—”

“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 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 investigator, 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 remorseless 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 courage, 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.

“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—”

“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 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 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 that 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 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.