en-fr  The Island of Doctor Moreau-Ch.3 Medium
Chapitre 3 : Le visage étrange.
Nous quittâmes notre cabine et trouvâmes un homme sur l'échelle qui gênait notre passage. Il se tenait sur l'échelle, nous tournant le dos et scrutant la claire-voie de l'écoutille.
C'était, je pouvais le voir, un homme difforme, petit, large, maladroit, au dos tordu, à la nuque velue et à la tête enfoncée entre les épaules.
Il était vêtu de serge bleu foncé et il avait des cheveux particulièrement noirs, épais et clairsemés.
J'entendis les chiens invisibles gronder furieusement, et aussitôt il se recroquevilla à nouveau... lorsqu'il entra en contact avec la main que j'avais étendue pour le repousser.
Il se retourna avec une vivacité animale.
Le visage sombre qui passa ainsi rapidement au-dessus de moi me choqua profondément et d'une façon indéfinissable.
Il était singulièrement déformé.
Son visage projeté vers l'avant formait quelque chose ressemblant vaguement à un museau et l'immense bouche entrouverte découvrait les plus grandes dents blanches que j'aie jamais vues dans une bouche humaine.
Il avait le contour de ses yeux injecté de sang, seule une fine bordure bordure blanche entourait ses pupilles fauves.
Il y avait une curieuse lueur d'excitation sur son visage.
– Va au diable ! dit Montgomery. Pourquoi diable ne sortez-vous pas du passage ?
L'homme au visage sombre s'écarta sans un mot.
Je montai l'échelle, le scrutant instinctivement avec attention.
Montgomery demeura au pied un moment.
– Vous n'avez rien à faire ici, savez-vous, dit-il fermement.
Votre place est à l'avant.
L'homme au visage sombre se recroquevilla.
— Ils ... ils ne veulent pas de moi à l'avant.
Il parlait lentement, d'une étrange voix rauque.
— Ne veulent pas de toi à l'avant ! répéta Montgomery, d'un ton menaçant.
Mais je t'ordonne d'y aller !
Il était sur le point d'ajouter quelque chose, puis tout à coup leva les yeux vers moi et me suivit sur l'échelle.
J'avais fait une pause à mi-chemin à travers l'écoutille, me retournant , toujours stupéfait au-delà de toute mesure de la laideur grotesque de cette créature au visage noir.
Je n'avais jamais vu un visage aussi repoussant et aussi inhabituel, et pourtant — si la contradiction est crédible — j'étais en proie à l'étrange sensation que d'une certaine façon j'avais déjà rencontré ces traits et ces gestes qui me surprenaient à présent.
Ensuite, il me vint à l'esprit que je l'avais probablement aperçu quand j'avais été remonté à bord ; et pourtant cela suffit à peine à satisfaire mon soupçon d'une rencontre antérieure.
Mais comment pouvait-on contempler un visage aussi peu commun et avoir oublié à quelle occasion précise, défiait mon entendement.
Le mouvement de Montgomery pour me suivre détourna mon attention, je me tournai et regardai autour de moi vers le pont supérieur du petit vapeur.
J'étais déjà presque préparé à ce que je voyais après les bruits que j'avais entendus.
Je n'avais vraiment jamais vu un pont aussi sale.
Il était jonché d'épluchures de carottes, de monceaux de substance verte, et d'une saleté indescriptible.
Attachés au grand mat par des chaines il y avait un certain nombre d'épouvantables staghounds qui commencèrent à bondir vers moi en aboyant, et près du mas de misaine un gigantesque puma était à l'étroit dans une cage de fer trop exiguë pour qu'il puisse se tourner.
Plus loin sous le pavois tribord il y avait de nombreux lapins dans de grands clapiers et à l'avant un lama isolé était comprimé dans une simple boîte lui servant de cage.
Les chiens étaient muselés par des lanières de cuir.
Le seul humain présent sur le pont était un marin décharné et silencieux à la barre.
Les brigantines rapiécées et sales étaient tendues au vent, et dans sa mature le petit navire paraissait porter tout ce qu'il avait de voiles.
Le ciel était clair et le soleil à mi-chemin de sa descente vers l'ouest et de longues vagues dont la brise marquait la crête d'écume, accompagnaient notre course.
Nous passâmes devant le timonier jusqu'au gaillard d'arrière et vîmes l'eau mousser sous la poupe, les bulles dansaient et disparaissaient dans son sillage.
Je me retournai et observai la lenteur inquiétante du navire.
– Est-ce une ménagerie flottante ? dis- je.
– Ça y ressemble, dit Montgomery.
– À quoi servent ces bêtes ? Marchandise, curiosité ?
Le capitaine pense-t-il qu'il les vendra quelque part dans les mers du sud ?
– Ça y ressemble, n'est-ce pas ? dit Montgomery qui se tourna à nouveau vers le sillage.
Soudain, nous entendîmes un jappement et une volée de blasphèmes furieux en provenance de l'échelle de la coursive et l'homme difforme au visage noir s' approcha précipitamment.
Il était suivi de près par un homme imposant aux cheveux roux sous une casquette blanche.
À la vue du premier, les chiens, qui s'étaient tous lassés de m'aboyer dessus à ce moment-là, s'excitèrent furieusement, hurlant et bondissant contre leurs chaînes.
L'homme à la peau sombre hésita devant eux, ce qui donna à l'homme aux cheveux roux le temps de le rejoindre et de lui donner un terrible coup entre les omoplates.
Le pauvre diable s'effondra comme un bœuf abattu et roula dans la saleté parmi les chiens excités.
Une chance pour lui qu'ils aient été muselés.
Le rouquin poussa un cri de joie et resta stupéfait, en grand danger me sembla-t-il, soit de tomber à la renverse de l'échelle d'un côté ou de l'autre sur sa victime.
Dès que le deuxième homme était apparu, Montgomery avait commencé à avancer.
— Du calme, là-bas ! cria-t-il, en utilisant un ton de remontrance.
Deux marins apparurent sur le gaillard d'avant.
L'homme au visage noir, hurlant d'une voix particulière, roula sous les pattes des chiens.
Personne n'essaya de l'aider.
Les brutes firent de leur mieux pour l'effrayer, enfonçant leurs le musellieres en lui.
Leurs corps agiles aux formes grises exécutèrent une danse rapide au-dessus de la maladroite silhouette prostrée.
Les marins à l'avant criaient, comme si c'était un sport digne d'admiration.
Montgomery poussa une exclamation de colère et descendit à grands pas sur le pont; je le suivis.
L'homme au visage noir monta en vitesse et tituba vers l'avant, penché, agrippé aux haubans au dessus du pavois où il demeura, essoufflé, lançant des regards aux chiens par dessus son épaule.
L'homme aux cheveux roux éclata d'un rire satisfait.
— Ecoutez, Capitaine, dit Montgomery, avec un zozotement un peu accentué, en empoignant les coudes de l'homme aux cheveux roux, ça ne marchera pas!
Je me levai derrière Montgomery.
Le capitaine se retourna et le considéra du regard terne et sérieux d'un homme ivre.
— Qu'est-ce qui va pas marcher? dit-il et il ajouta, après avoir dévisagé Montgomery d'un œil endormi pendant une minute "Foutus chirurgiens!
D'un mouvement brusque, il libéra ses bras et, après deux tentatives infructueuses, il enfouit ses poings pleins de taches de rousseur dans ses poches.
— Cet homme est un passager, dit Montgomery.
— Je vous conseille de ne pas le toucher.
— Allez vous faire foutre! dit le capitaine d'une voix forte.
Soudain il se tourna et vacilla sur le côté.
— J'fais c'que j'veux sur mon bateau, dit-il.
Je crois que Montgomery aurait alors pu le laisser, en voyant que la brute était saoule; mais il devint juste un peu plus pale et suivit le capitaine jusqu'au pavois.
— Ecoutez capitaine, dit-il; mon gars n'a pas à être maltraité.
On le tourmente depuis qu'il est monté à bord.
Pendant une minute, les vapeurs d'alcool laissèrent le capitaine sans voix.
— Foutus chirurgiens! fut tout ce qu'il jugea nécessaire.
Je pouvais voir que Montgomery avait un de ces caractères lents et obstinés qui s'échauffe jour après jour jusqu'à une colère intense et ne se refroidit pas jusqu'au pardon; et je vis aussi que cette brouille s'envenimait depuis quelque temps.
— Le gars est ivre, dis-je, d'un ton peut-être autoritaire, ça ne servira à rien.
Montgomery tordit affreusement sa lèvre pendante.
— Il est toujours saoul.
Pensez-vous que c'est une excuse pour agresser les passagers?
— Mon navire, commença le capitaine, agitant la main vers les cages, était un navire propre. Regardez-le maintenant!
Il était certainement tout sauf propre.
— Équipage, continua le capitaine, un équipage propre et respectable.
— Vous étiez d'accord pour transporter les bêtes.
— Je voudrais ne jamais avoir posé les yeux sur votre île infernale.
Pourquoi diable vouloir des bêtes sur une telle île ?
Et puis, cet homme à vous... sous-entendu qu'il s'agisse bien d'un homme.
C'est un taré et il n'a rien à faire à l'arrière.
Vous pensez que tout le foutu bateau vous appartient ?
— Vos marins ont commencé à harceler le pauvre diable depuis le moment où il est monté à bord.
— C'est exactement ce qu'il est... c'est un diable ! Un diable répugnant !
Mes hommes ne peuvent pas le supporter. Je ne peux pas le supporter.
Aucun d'entre nous ne peut le supporter. Vous non plus !
Montgomery se détourna.
– Tu laisses cet homme tranquille, dit-il en appuyant ses propos de hochements de tête.
Mais désormais le capitaine cherchait querelle.
Il éleva la voix.
– S'il vient encore à cette extrémité du navire, je l'étripe, je vous le dis.
Je découpe ses entrailles pourries.
Qui êtes-vous pour me dire ce que j'ai à faire ?
Je vous dis que je suis capitaine de ce navire... capitaine et propriétaire.
Je suis la loi ici, je vous dis... la loi et les prophètes.
J'ai négocié pour chercher un homme et son domestique à Arica et les ramener ainsi que quelques animaux.
J'ai jamais négocié pour transporter un diable enragé et un stupide scieur d'os, un... — Bon, peu importe comment il qualifia Montgomery.
Je vis ce dernier faire un pas en avant et je m'interposais
— Il est ivre, dis-je.
Le capitaine commença à déverser un flot d'injures plus ignominieuses que jamais.
— Fermez-la !
dis-je, en me retournant brusquement vers lui, car j'avais vu le danger dans le visage blême de Montgomery.
Ce faisant, je détournai le déluge d'insultes sur moi.
Cependant, j'étais heureux d'avoir évité ce qui semblait singulièrement près de tourner à l'échauffourée, fût-ce au prix de l'animosité éthylique du capitaine.
Je ne pense pas avoir jamais entendu autant d'ignobles propos couler des lèvres d'un homme, bien que j'aie pas mal fréquenté d'excentriques compagnies.
J'en ai trouvé quelques-uns difficiles à supporter, bien que je sois un homme paisible ; mais, certainement, quand j'ai dit au capitaine de « la fermer », j'avais oublié que je n'étais qu'une épave humaine, sans ressources aucunes, n'ayant pas payé mon transport ; une chose insignifiante dépendant de la générosité, ou de l'éventuel esprit d'initiative du capitaine.
Il me le rappela avec une vigueur considérable ; mais en tout cas, j'avais empêché une bagarre.
unit 1
Chapter 3: The Strange Face.
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WE left the cabin and found a man at the companion obstructing our way.
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He was standing on the ladder with his back to us, peering over the combing of the hatchway.
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He was dressed in dark-blue serge, and had peculiarly thick, coarse, black hair.
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He turned with animal swiftness.
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In some indefinable way the black face thus flashed upon me shocked me profoundly.
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It was a singularly deformed one.
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There was a curious glow of excitement in his face.
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"Confound you!"
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said Montgomery.
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"Why the devil don't you get out of the way?"
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The black-faced man started aside without a word.
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I went on up the companion, staring at him instinctively as I did so.
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Montgomery stayed at the foot for a moment.
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"You have no business here, you know," he said in a deliberate tone.
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"Your place is forward."
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The black-faced man cowered.
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"They—won't have me forward."
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He spoke slowly, with a queer, hoarse quality in his voice.
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"Won't have you forward!"
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said Montgomery, in a menacing voice.
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"But I tell you to go!"
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I was already half prepared by the sounds I had heard for what I saw.
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Certainly I never beheld a deck so dirty.
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The dogs were muzzled by leather straps.
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The only human being on deck was a gaunt and silent sailor at the wheel.
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I turned and surveyed the unsavoury length of the ship.
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"Is this an ocean menagerie?"
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said I.
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"Looks like it," said Montgomery.
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"What are these beasts for?
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Merchandise, curios?
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Does the captain think he is going to sell them somewhere in the South Seas?"
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"It looks like it, doesn't it?"
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said Montgomery, and turned towards the wake again.
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He was immediately followed by a heavy red-haired man in a white cap.
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It was lucky for him that they were muzzled.
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So soon as the second man had appeared, Montgomery had started forward.
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"Steady on there!"
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he cried, in a tone of remonstrance.
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A couple of sailors appeared on the forecastle.
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No one attempted to help him.
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The brutes did their best to worry him, butting their muzzles at him.
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The sailors forward shouted, as though it was admirable sport.
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The red-haired man laughed a satisfied laugh.
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I stood behind Montgomery.
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"Wha' won't do?"
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"That man's a passenger," said Montgomery.
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"I'd advise you to keep your hands off him."
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"Go to hell!"
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said the captain, loudly.
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He suddenly turned and staggered towards the side.
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"Do what I like on my own ship," he said.
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"Look you here, Captain," he said; "that man of mine is not to be ill-treated.
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He has been hazed ever since he came aboard."
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For a minute, alcoholic fumes kept the captain speechless.
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"Blasted Sawbones!"
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was all he considered necessary.
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"The man's drunk," said I, perhaps officiously; "you'll do no good."
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Montgomery gave an ugly twist to his dropping lip.
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"He's always drunk.
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Do you think that excuses his assaulting his passengers?"
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Look at it now!"
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It was certainly anything but clean.
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"Crew," continued the captain, "clean, respectable crew."
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"You agreed to take the beasts."
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"I wish I'd never set eyes on your infernal island.
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What the devil—want beasts for on an island like that?
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Then, that man of yours—understood he was a man.
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He's a lunatic; and he hadn't no business aft.
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Do you think the whole damned ship belongs to you?"
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"Your sailors began to haze the poor devil as soon as he came aboard."
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"That's just what he is—he's a devil!
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an ugly devil!
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My men can't stand him.
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I can't stand him.
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None of us can't stand him.
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Nor youeither!"
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Montgomery turned away.
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"You leave that man alone, anyhow," he said, nodding his head as he spoke.
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But the captain meant to quarrel now.
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He raised his voice.
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"If he comes this end of the ship again I'll cut his insides out, I tell you.
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Cut out his blasted insides!
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Who are you, to tell me what I'm to do?
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I tell you I'm captain of this ship,—captain and owner.
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I'm the law here, I tell you,—the law and the prophets.
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I saw the latter take a step forward, and interposed.
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"He's drunk," said I.
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The captain began some abuse even fouler than the last.
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"Shut up!"
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I said, turning on him sharply, for I had seen danger in Montgomery's white face.
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With that I brought the downpour on myself.
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He reminded me of it with considerable vigour; but at any rate I prevented a fight.
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soybeba • 0  commented  5 months, 1 week ago

The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells

by soybeba 5 months, 1 week ago

Chapter 3: The Strange Face.
WE left the cabin and found a man at the companion obstructing our way. He was standing on the ladder with his back to us, peering over the combing of the hatchway.
He was, I could see, a misshapen man, short, broad, and clumsy, with a crooked back, a hairy neck, and a head sunk between his shoulders.
He was dressed in dark-blue serge, and had peculiarly thick, coarse, black hair.
I heard the unseen dogs growl furiously, and forthwith he ducked back,—coming into contact with the hand I put out to fend him off from myself.
He turned with animal swiftness.
In some indefinable way the black face thus flashed upon me shocked me profoundly.
It was a singularly deformed one.
The facial part projected, forming something dimly suggestive of a muzzle, and the huge half-open mouth showed as big white teeth as I had ever seen in a human mouth.
His eyes were blood-shot at the edges, with scarcely a rim of white round the hazel pupils.
There was a curious glow of excitement in his face.
"Confound you!" said Montgomery. "Why the devil don't you get out of the way?"
The black-faced man started aside without a word.
I went on up the companion, staring at him instinctively as I did so.
Montgomery stayed at the foot for a moment.
"You have no business here, you know," he said in a deliberate tone.
"Your place is forward."
The black-faced man cowered.
"They—won't have me forward."
He spoke slowly, with a queer, hoarse quality in his voice.
"Won't have you forward!" said Montgomery, in a menacing voice.
"But I tell you to go!"
He was on the brink of saying something further, then looked up at me suddenly and followed me up the ladder.
I had paused half way through the hatchway, looking back, still astonished beyond measure at the grotesque ugliness of this black-faced creature.
I had never beheld such a repulsive and extraordinary face before,
and yet—if the contradiction is credible—I experienced at the same time an odd feeling that in some way I had already encountered exactly the features and gestures that now amazed me.
Afterwards it occurred to me that probably I had seen him as I was lifted aboard;
and yet that scarcely satisfied my suspicion of a previous acquaintance.
Yet how one could have set eyes on so singular a face and yet have forgotten the precise occasion, passed my imagination.
Montgomery's movement to follow me released my attention, and I turned and looked about me at the flush deck of the little schooner.
I was already half prepared by the sounds I had heard for what I saw.
Certainly I never beheld a deck so dirty.
It was littered with scraps of carrot, shreds of green stuff, and indescribable filth.
Fastened by chains to the mainmast were a number of grisly staghounds, who now began leaping and barking at me,
and by the mizzen a huge puma was cramped in a little iron cage far too small even to give it turning room.
Farther under the starboard bulwark were some big hutches containing a number of rabbits,
and a solitary llama was squeezed in a mere box of a cage forward.
The dogs were muzzled by leather straps.
The only human being on deck was a gaunt and silent sailor at the wheel.
The patched and dirty spankers were tense before the wind, and up aloft the little ship seemed carrying every sail she had.
The sky was clear, the sun midway down the western sky;
long waves, capped by the breeze with froth, were running with us.
We went past the steersman to the taffrail, and saw the water come foaming under the stern and the bubbles go dancing and vanishing in her wake.
I turned and surveyed the unsavoury length of the ship.
"Is this an ocean menagerie?" said I.
"Looks like it," said Montgomery.
"What are these beasts for? Merchandise, curios?
Does the captain think he is going to sell them somewhere in the South Seas?"
"It looks like it, doesn't it?" said Montgomery, and turned towards the wake again.
Suddenly we heard a yelp and a volley of furious blasphemy from the companion hatchway,
and the deformed man with the black face came up hurriedly.
He was immediately followed by a heavy red-haired man in a white cap.
At the sight of the former the staghounds, who had all tired of barking at me by this time,
became furiously excited, howling and leaping against their chains.
The black hesitated before them, and this gave the red-haired man time to come up with him
and deliver a tremendous blow between the shoulder-blades.
The poor devil went down like a felled ox, and rolled in the dirt among the furiously excited dogs.
It was lucky for him that they were muzzled.
The red-haired man gave a yawp of exultation and stood staggering,
and as it seemed to me in serious danger of either going backwards down the companion hatchway or forwards upon his victim.
So soon as the second man had appeared, Montgomery had started forward.
"Steady on there!" he cried, in a tone of remonstrance.
A couple of sailors appeared on the forecastle.
The black-faced man, howling in a singular voice rolled about under the feet of the dogs.
No one attempted to help him.
The brutes did their best to worry him, butting their muzzles at him.
There was a quick dance of their lithe grey-figured bodies over the clumsy, prostrate figure.
The sailors forward shouted, as though it was admirable sport.
Montgomery gave an angry exclamation, and went striding down the deck, and I followed him.
The black-faced man scrambled up and staggered forward, going and leaning over the bulwark by the main shrouds, where he remained, panting and glaring over his shoulder at the dogs.
The red-haired man laughed a satisfied laugh.
"Look here, Captain," said Montgomery, with his lisp a little accentuated, gripping the elbows of the red-haired man, "this won't do!"
I stood behind Montgomery.
The captain came half round, and regarded him with the dull and solemn eyes of a drunken man.
"Wha' won't do?" he said, and added, after looking sleepily into Montgomery's face for a minute, "Blasted Sawbones!"
With a sudden movement he shook his arms free, and after two ineffectual attempts stuck his freckled fists into his side pockets.
"That man's a passenger," said Montgomery.
"I'd advise you to keep your hands off him."
"Go to hell!" said the captain, loudly.
He suddenly turned and staggered towards the side.
"Do what I like on my own ship," he said.
I think Montgomery might have left him then, seeing the brute was drunk;
but he only turned a shade paler, and followed the captain to the bulwarks.
"Look you here, Captain," he said; "that man of mine is not to be ill-treated.
He has been hazed ever since he came aboard."
For a minute, alcoholic fumes kept the captain speechless.
"Blasted Sawbones!" was all he considered necessary.
I could see that Montgomery had one of those slow, pertinacious tempers that will warm day after day to a white heat, and never again cool to forgiveness;
and I saw too that this quarrel had been some time growing.
"The man's drunk," said I, perhaps officiously; "you'll do no good."
Montgomery gave an ugly twist to his dropping lip.
"He's always drunk.
Do you think that excuses his assaulting his passengers?"
"My ship," began the captain, waving his hand unsteadily towards the cages,
"was a clean ship. Look at it now!"
It was certainly anything but clean.
"Crew," continued the captain, "clean, respectable crew."
"You agreed to take the beasts."
"I wish I'd never set eyes on your infernal island.
What the devil—want beasts for on an island like that?
Then, that man of yours—understood he was a man.
He's a lunatic; and he hadn't no business aft.
Do you think the whole damned ship belongs to you?"
"Your sailors began to haze the poor devil as soon as he came aboard."
"That's just what he is—he's a devil! an ugly devil!
My men can't stand him. I can't stand him.
None of us can't stand him. Nor youeither!"
Montgomery turned away.
"You leave that man alone, anyhow," he said, nodding his head as he spoke.
But the captain meant to quarrel now.
He raised his voice.
"If he comes this end of the ship again I'll cut his insides out, I tell you.
Cut out his blasted insides!
Who are you, to tell me what I'm to do?
I tell you I'm captain of this ship,—captain and owner.
I'm the law here, I tell you,—the law and the prophets.
I bargained to take a man and his attendant to and from Arica, and bring back some animals.
I never bargained to carry a mad devil and a silly Sawbones, a—"
Well, never mind what he called Montgomery.
I saw the latter take a step forward, and interposed.
"He's drunk," said I.
The captain began some abuse even fouler than the last.
"Shut up!"
I said, turning on him sharply, for I had seen danger in Montgomery's white face.
With that I brought the downpour on myself.
However, I was glad to avert what was uncommonly near a scuffle, even at the price of the captain's drunken ill-will.
I do not think I have ever heard quite so much vile language come in a continuous stream from any man's lips before,
though I have frequented eccentric company enough.
I found some of it hard to endure, though I am a mild-tempered man;
but, certainly, when I told the captain to "shut up" I had forgotten that I was merely a bit of human flotsam, cut off from my resources and with my fare unpaid;
a mere casual dependant on the bounty, or speculative enterprise, of the ship.
He reminded me of it with considerable vigour; but at any rate I prevented a fight.