en-fr  The Island of Doctor Moreau-Ch.2 Medium
Chapitre 2 : L'homme qui n'allait nulle part. La cabine dans laquelle je me trouvais était petite et plutôt en désordre.
Un homme assez jeune aux cheveux blonds, à la moustache hirsute de couleur jaune paille et à la lèvre inférieure tombante, était assis et me tenait le poignet.
L'espace d'une minute, nous nous sommes regardés sans rien dire.
Il avait des yeux gris larmoyants, étrangement dénués d'expression.
Puis, juste au-dessus de ma tête, retentit un bruit comme un châssis de lit en fer et le grondement faible et furieux d'un gros animal.
L'homme parla en même temps. Il répéta sa question : — Comment vous sentez-vous maintenant ?
Je crois que j'ai répondu que je me sentais bien.
Je ne me souvenais pas de la manière dont j'étais arrivé là.
Il avait dû lire la question sur mon visage car je n'arrivais pas à parler.
— On vous a récupéré sur un bateau, crevant de faim.
Le bateau s'appelait le « Lady Vain », et il y avait des traces de sang sur le plat-bord.
Au même instant mon regard se posa sur ma main, si fine qu'on aurait dit un sac sale en peau, rempli d'os en vrac, et alors toute l'histoire du bateau me revint en mémoire.
— Buvez un peu de ça, dit-il, et il me donna une petite quantité d'un liquide écarlate, glacé.
Ça avait le goût du sang et je me sentis moins faible.
— Vous avez eu de la veine, dit-il, d'avoir été recueilli par un navire avec un médecin à bord.
Il chuintait en parlant, avec un très léger zézaiement.
— Quel est ce bateau ? dis-je lentement, la voix rauque après mon long silence.
— C'est un petit bateau de commerçant d'Arica et de Callao Je ne lui ai jamais demandé d'où il venait au départ, du pays des idiots, je suppose.
Je suis moi-même un passager provenant d'Arica.
L'idiot qui le possède, c'est un capitaine aussi, nommé Davies, il a perdu son certificat ou quelque chose de ce genre.
Vous connaissez ce genre d'homme, il l'appele « Ipecacuanha », parmi tous les noms stupides et infernaux ; mais quand il y a une mer déchaînée sans vent, il se comporte sans doute en conséquence.
(Puis le bruit se fit entendre à nouveau, un grognement retentissant et la voix d'un être humain mêlés.
Puis une autre voix, ordonnant à un « sombre crétin » d'arrêter.
— Vous étiez presque mort, dit mon interlocuteur. C'était moins une, d'ailleurs.
Mais je vous ai administré un remède à présent.
Avez-vous remarqué que votre bras est endolori ? Des Injections.
Vous avez été inconscient pendant près de trente heures.
Je réfléchis lentement. (Je fus distrait un instant par les aboiements d'un certain nombre de chiens.)
— Ai-je droit à de la nourriture solide ? demandai-je.
— Grâce à moi, dit-il.
Le mouton est en train de mijoter en ce moment même.
— Oui, dis-je avec assurance, ça me tente bien.
— Mais, ajouta-t-il avec une brève hésitation, vous savez que je meurs d'envie de savoir comment vous vous êtes retrouvé seul dans ce bateau.
Au diable ce hurlement ! Je croyais détecter une certaine méfiance dans ses yeux.
Il quitta soudainement la cabine, et je l'entendis se disputer violemment avec quelqu'un, qui me donna l'impression de baragouiner en lui répondant.
L'affaire me sembla s'être terminée par un échange de coups, mais j'en conclus que mes oreilles me jouaient des tours.
Puis il cria sur les chiens, et revint à la cabine.
— Et bien ? dit-il à l'entrée de la porte.
Vous commenciez tout juste à me raconter.
Je lui donnai mon nom, Edward Prendick, et lui expliquai comment je m'étais mis à l'Histoire Naturelle comme un remède à la monotonie de ma confortable indépendance.
Il sembla intéressé par ceci.
— J'ai moi-même étudié les sciences.
J'ai fait mes études de biologie à l'University College, où j'ai retiré l'ovaire du ver de terre et la radula de l'escargot, et tout tremblement.
Mon Dieu ! Ça fait dix ans. Mais continuez ! continuez ! parlez-moi du bateau.
Il était à l'évidence satisfait de la franchise de mon récit, que je racontais en phrases assez concises, car je me sentais terriblement faible ; et quand il fut terminé, il s'empressa d'aborder à nouveau le sujet de l'histoire naturelle et de ses propres études de biologie.
Il commenca à m'interroger en détail sur Tottenham Court Road et Gower Street.
— Le Caplatzi est-il toujours en plein essor ?
Quel magasin c'était !
Il avait manifestement été un étudiant en médecine très ordinaire, et il dériva inopinément vers le sujet des spectacles.
Il me raconta quelques anecdotes.
— J'ai tout quitté, dit-il, il y a dix ans.
Comme c'était plaisant tout ça !
Mais, jeune, je me suis ridiculisé, je me suis mis hors-jeu avant l'âge de vingt et un ans.
Je suppose que tout est différent maintenant.
Mais il faut que je retrouve cet idiot de cuisinier, et voir ce qu'il a fait à votre mouton.
Le grondement au-dessus de ma tête reprit si soudainement et avec tant de rage sauvage qu'il me fit sursauter.
— Qu'est-ce que c'est ? L'interpellai-je, mais la porte s'était refermée.
Il revint avec le mouton mijoté, et j'étais si enivré par cette odeur appétissante que j'en oubliai le bruit de la bête qui m'avait troublé.
Après une journée à alterner le sommeil et l'alimentation, j'étais tellement rétabli que je pouvais aller de ma couchette à l'écoutille, et voir la mer verte essayant de suivre notre rythme.
Je jugeai que la goélette naviguait vent arrière.
Montgomery — c'était le nom de l'homme aux cheveux blonds — entra tandis je me trouvais là, et je lui demandai des vêtements.
Il me prêta des trucs lui appartenant, car ceux que j'avais portés dans le bateau avaient été jetés par-dessus bord.
Ils étaient très amples pour moi, car il était grand et avait de longs membres.
Il me dit avec désinvolture que le capitaine était ivre dans sa cabine.
En enfilant les vêtements, je me mis à lui poser quelques questions sur la destination du navire.
Il me dit que le bateau naviguait vers Hawaï, mais qu'il ferait escale avant pour le débarquer.
— Où ? demandai-je.
Sur une île où je vis.
Pour autant que je sache, elle n'a pas de nom.
Il me dévisagea avec sa lèvre inférieure tombante, et avait l'air si délibérément stupide qu'il me vint à l'esprit qu'il voulait éviter mes questions.
J'eus la délicatesse de ne pas insister.
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For a minute we stared at each other without speaking.
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He had watery grey eyes, oddly void of expression.
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At the same time the man spoke.
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He repeated his question, —"How do you feel now?"
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I think I said I felt all right.
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I could not recollect how I had got there.
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He must have seen the question in my face, for my voice was inaccessible to me.
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"You were picked up in a boat, starving.
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The name on the boat was the 'Lady Vain,' and there were spots of blood on the gunwale."
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"Have some of this," said he, and gave me a dose of some scarlet stuff, iced.
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It tasted like blood, and made me feel stronger.
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"You were in luck," said he, "to get picked up by a ship with a medical man aboard."
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He spoke with a slobbering articulation, with the ghost of a lisp.
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"What ship is this?"
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I said slowly, hoarse from my long silence.
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"It's a little trader from Arica and Callao.
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I never asked where she came from in the beginning,—out of the land of born fools, I guess.
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I'm a passenger myself, from Arica.
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(Then the noise overhead began again, a snarling growl and the voice of a human being together.
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Then another voice, telling some "Heaven-forsaken idiot" to desist.)
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"You were nearly dead," said my interlocutor.
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"It was a very near thing, indeed.
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But I've put some stuff into you now.
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Notice your arm's sore?
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Injections.
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You've been insensible for nearly thirty hours."
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I thought slowly.
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(I was distracted now by the yelping of a number of dogs.)
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"Am I eligible for solid food?"
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I asked.
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"Thanks to me," he said.
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"Even now the mutton is boiling."
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"Yes," I said with assurance; "I could eat some mutton."
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Damn that howling!"
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I thought I detected a certain suspicion in his eyes.
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The matter sounded as though it ended in blows, but in that I thought my ears were mistaken.
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Then he shouted at the dogs, and returned to the cabin.
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"Well?"
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said he in the doorway.
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"You were just beginning to tell me."
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He seemed interested in this.
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"I've done some science myself.
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Lord!
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It's ten years ago.
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But go on!
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go on!
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tell me about the boat."
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He began to question me closely about Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street.
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"Is Caplatzi still flourishing?
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What a shop that was!"
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He told me some anecdotes.
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"Left it all," he said, "ten years ago.
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How jolly it all used to be!
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But I made a young ass of myself,—played myself out before I was twenty-one.
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I daresay it's all different now.
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But I must look up that ass of a cook, and see what he's done to your mutton."
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The growling overhead was renewed, so suddenly and with so much savage anger that it startled me.
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"What's that?"
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I called after him, but the door had closed.
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I judged the schooner was running before the wind.
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He lent me some duck things of his own, for those I had worn in the boat had been thrown overboard.
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They were rather loose for me, for he was large and long in his limbs.
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He told me casually that the captain was three-parts drunk in his own cabin.
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As I assumed the clothes, I began asking him some questions about the destination of the ship.
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He said the ship was bound to Hawaii, but that it had to land him first.
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"Where?"
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said I.
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"It's an island, where I live.
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So far as I know, it hasn't got a name."
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I had the discretion to ask no more.
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Chapter 2: The Man Who Was Going Nowhere
THE cabin in which I found myself was small and rather untidy.
A youngish man with flaxen hair, a bristly straw-coloured moustache, and a dropping nether lip, was sitting and holding my wrist.
For a minute we stared at each other without speaking.
He had watery grey eyes, oddly void of expression.
Then just overhead came a sound like an iron bedstead being knocked about,
and the low angry growling of some large animal.
At the same time the man spoke. He repeated his question,
—"How do you feel now?"
I think I said I felt all right.
I could not recollect how I had got there.
He must have seen the question in my face, for my voice was inaccessible to me.
"You were picked up in a boat, starving.
The name on the boat was the 'Lady Vain,' and there were spots of blood on the gunwale."
At the same time my eye caught my hand, so thin that it looked like a dirty skin-purse full of loose bones, and all the business of the boat came back to me.
"Have some of this," said he, and gave me a dose of some scarlet stuff, iced.
It tasted like blood, and made me feel stronger.
"You were in luck," said he, "to get picked up by a ship with a medical man aboard."
He spoke with a slobbering articulation, with the ghost of a lisp.
"What ship is this?" I said slowly, hoarse from my long silence.
"It's a little trader from Arica and Callao. I never asked where she came from in the beginning,—out of the land of born fools, I guess.
I'm a passenger myself, from Arica.
The silly ass who owns her,—he's captain too, named Davies,—he's lost his certificate, or something.
You know the kind of man,—calls the thing the 'Ipecacuanha,' of all silly, infernal names; though when there's much of a sea without any wind, she certainly acts according."
(Then the noise overhead began again, a snarling growl and the voice of a human being together.
Then another voice, telling some "Heaven-forsaken idiot" to desist.)
"You were nearly dead," said my interlocutor. "It was a very near thing, indeed.
But I've put some stuff into you now.
Notice your arm's sore? Injections.
You've been insensible for nearly thirty hours."
I thought slowly. (I was distracted now by the yelping of a number of dogs.)
"Am I eligible for solid food?" I asked.
"Thanks to me," he said.
"Even now the mutton is boiling."
"Yes," I said with assurance; "I could eat some mutton."
"But," said he with a momentary hesitation, "you know I'm dying to hear of how you came to be alone in that boat.
Damn that howling!" I thought I detected a certain suspicion in his eyes.
He suddenly left the cabin, and I heard him in violent controversy with some one, who seemed to me to talk gibberish in response to him.
The matter sounded as though it ended in blows, but in that I thought my ears were mistaken.
Then he shouted at the dogs, and returned to the cabin.
"Well?" said he in the doorway.
"You were just beginning to tell me."
I told him my name, Edward Prendick, and how I had taken to Natural History as a relief from the dullness of my comfortable independence.
He seemed interested in this.
"I've done some science myself.
I did my Biology at University College,—getting out the ovary of the earthworm and the radula of the snail, and all that.
Lord! It's ten years ago. But go on! go on! tell me about the boat."
He was evidently satisfied with the frankness of my story, which I told in concise sentences enough, for I felt horribly weak;
and when it was finished he reverted at once to the topic of Natural History and his own biological studies.
He began to question me closely about Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street.
"Is Caplatzi still flourishing?
What a shop that was!"
He had evidently been a very ordinary medical student, and drifted incontinently to the topic of the music halls.
He told me some anecdotes.
"Left it all," he said, "ten years ago.
How jolly it all used to be!
But I made a young ass of myself,—played myself out before I was twenty-one.
I daresay it's all different now.
But I must look up that ass of a cook, and see what he's done to your mutton."
The growling overhead was renewed, so suddenly and with so much savage anger that it startled me.
"What's that?" I called after him, but the door had closed.
He came back again with the boiled mutton, and I was so excited by the appetising smell of it that I forgot the noise of the beast that had troubled me.
After a day of alternate sleep and feeding I was so far recovered as to be able to get from my bunk to the scuttle, and see the green seas trying to keep pace with us.
I judged the schooner was running before the wind.
Montgomery—that was the name of the flaxen-haired man—came in again as I stood there, and I asked him for some clothes.
He lent me some duck things of his own, for those I had worn in the boat had been thrown overboard.
They were rather loose for me, for he was large and long in his limbs.
He told me casually that the captain was three-parts drunk in his own cabin.
As I assumed the clothes, I began asking him some questions about the destination of the ship.
He said the ship was bound to Hawaii, but that it had to land him first.
"Where?" said I.
"It's an island, where I live.
So far as I know, it hasn't got a name."
He stared at me with his nether lip dropping, and looked so wilfully stupid of a sudden that it came into my head that he desired to avoid my questions.
I had the discretion to ask no more.