en-fr  The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G.Wells-Chapter VIII Medium
Chapitre 8 : Les cris du Puma.
Vers une heure Montgomery interrompit ma perplexité mêlée de suspicion. et son grotesque domestique le suivit avec un plateau chargé de pain, d'herbes et d'autres aliments, une flasque de whisky, un pichet d'eau, trois verres et trois couteaux. Je regardai de travers cette étrange créature, et je vis qu'il m'observait de ses yeux inquietants et nerveux. Montgomery dit qu'il déjeunerait avec moi, mais que Moreau était trop préocupé par le travail à venir.
— Moreau ! dis-je. Je connais ce nom.
— Diable, oui ! dit-il. Quel idiot j'ai été de le mentionner devant vous ! J'aurais dû m'en douter. Quoi qu'il en soit, ça vous donnera une vague idée de nos... mystères. Du whisky ?
— Non, merci ; je suis abstinent.
J'aimerais bien l'être. Mais ce qui est fait est fait. C'est ce truc infernal qui m'a poussé à venir ici - ça et une nuit de brouillard. À l'époque je me croyais chanceux, lorsque Moreau m'avait offert de m'emmener. C'est bizarre... – Montgomery, m'écriai-je, comme la porte extérieure se refermait, pourquoi votre homme a-t-il des oreilles pointues ?
– Zut ! dit-il la bouche pleine. Il m'observa un moment et répéta, – Des oreilles pointues ?
— Légèrement, dis-je, aussi calmement que possible, en retenant mon souffle. et un fin pelage noir sur les bords ?
Il se servit de whisky et d'eau avec mesure. — J'ai eu l'impression... que ses cheveux couvraient ses oreilles.
— Je les ai vues quand il s'est baissé près de moi pour poser sur la table ce/le café que vous m'avez fait envoyer. Et ses yeux brillent dans le noir.
À ce moment-là, Montgomery s'était remis de la surprise occasionnée par ma question. — J'ai toujours pensé, dit-il posément, en accentuant son zézaiement qu'il y avait un problème avec ses oreilles, étant donné la façon dont il les cachait. Comment étaient-elles ?
J'étais persuadé à son attitude que cette ignorance était feinte. Et pourtant, je pouvais difficilement dire cet homme que je le considérais comme un menteur. — Pointues, dis-je, plutôt petites et velues. Mais l'homme dans son ensemble est l'un des êtres les plus étranges que j'aie jamais vus.
Le cri aigü et rauque d'un animal en souffrance parvint de l'enceinte derrière nous. Sa profondeur et son volume indiquaient qu'il venait du puma. Je vis Montgomery grimacer.
— Oui ? dit-il.
— Où l'avez-vous ramassé ?
— À San Francisco. C'est une brute disgracieuse, je l'admets. Faible d'esprit, vous savez. Je ne me souviens pas d'où il venait. Mais je me suis habitué à lui, vous savez. Et lui à moi. Quelle impression vous fait-il ?
— Il n'est pas naturel, dis-je. Il y a quelque chose en lui, ne me croyez pas fantaisiste, mais il me donne une vilaine petite sensation, une crispation musculaire, quand il s'approche de moi. C'est un tantinet... diabolique, en fait.
Montgomery s'était arrêté de manger pendant que je lui disais cela. — Du rhum ! dit-il. — Ce n'est pas ce que je vois. Il reprit son repas. Cela ne m'était pas venu à l'idée, dit-il, et il mâcha. L'équipage du schooner a dû ressentir la même chose. Ils ont fait sa fête à ce pauvre diable. Vous avez vu le capitaine ?
Soudain, le puma hurla à nouveau, cette fois plus douloureusement. Montgomery jura à mi-voix. J'ai failli l'attaquer pour les hommes sur la plage. Puis la pauvre brute a laissé échapper une série de petits cris aigus.
Vos hommes sur la plage, ai-je dit, de quelle race sont-ils ?
D'excellents compagnons, n'est ce pas ? dit-il, distraitement, fronçant les sourcils tandis que l'animal hurlait fort.
Je n'en dis pas plus. Il y eut un autre cri, pire que le précédent. Il me regarda de ses ternes yeux gris, puis il reprit du whisky. Il tenta de m'entraîner dans une discussion sur l'alcool, prétendant m'avoir sauvé la vie avec cela. Il semblait désireux de mettre l'accent sur le fait que je lui devais la vie. Je lui répondis distraitement.
Notre repas touchait alors à sa fin. La créature difforme aux oreilles pointues débarassa les restes et Montgomery me laissa à nouveau seul dans la pièce. À tout moment, il avait été dans un état d'agacement à peine dissimulé, aux cris du puma tailladé. Il avait parlé de son étrange manque de cran, et il me laissa à cette évidente démonstation.
Je trouvai moi-même que les cris étaient singulièrement agaçants, et ils augmentaient en profondeur et en intensité tandis que l'après-midi s'achevait. Ils furent douloureux au début, mais leur constante reprise finit par me déstabiliser. Je jetai une copie d'Horace que je lisais, puis je commençai à serrer les poings, me mordre les lèvres et faire les cent pas. J'en vins à me boucher les oreilles avec les doigts.
L'appel émotionnel de ces hurlements grandit en moi constamment, jusqu'enfin à une telle expression d'extrême souffrance que je ne pouvais la supporter plus longtemps dans cette pièce confinée. Je franchis la porte vers la chaleur écrasante de la fin d'après-midi et, passant devant l'entrée principale, qui était de nouveau verrouillée, remarquai-je, je tournai au coin du mur.
Les cris semblaient encore plus forts à l'extérieur. C'était comme si toute la douleur du monde avait trouvé une voix. Pourtant, si j'avais su qu'il y avait une telle souffrance dans la pièce d'à côté et si elle avait été muette, je crois que — j'y ai pensé depuis — j'aurais pu la supporter assez bien. C'est quand la souffrance trouve une voix et vient faire frémir nos nerfs que la pitié vient nous troubler. Mais malgré le soleil éclatant et les dais verts des arbres s'agitant dans la brise marine apaisante, le monde était un fouillis, troublé de fantômes noirs et rouges à la dérive, jusqu'à ce que je sois hors de portée de voix dans le mur carrelé.
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Chapter 8: The Crying Of The Puma.
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MONTGOMERY interrupted my tangle of mystification and suspicion about one o'clock,.
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"Moreau!"
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said I.
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"I know that name."
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"The devil you do!"
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said he.
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"What an ass I was to mention it to you!
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I might have thought.
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Anyhow, it will give you an inkling of our—mysteries.
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Whiskey?"
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"No, thanks; I'm an abstainer."
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"I wish I'd been.
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But it's no use locking the door after the steed is stolen.
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It was that infernal stuff which led to my coming here,—that, and a foggy night.
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I thought myself in luck at the time, when Moreau offered to get me off.
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"Damn!"
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he said, over his first mouthful of food.
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He stared at me for a moment, and then repeated, "Pointed ears?"
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"Little points to them," said I, as calmly as possible, with a catch in my breath;.
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"and a fine black fur at the edges?"
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He helped himself to whiskey and water with great deliberation.
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"I was under the impression—that his hair covered his ears."
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"I saw them as he stooped by me to put that coffee you sent to me on the table.
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And his eyes shine in the dark."
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By this time Montgomery had recovered from the surprise of my question.
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"that there was something the matter with his ears, from the way he covered them.
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What were they like?"
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I was persuaded from his manner that this ignorance was a pretence.
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Still, I could hardly tell the man that I thought him a liar.
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"Pointed," I said; "rather small and furry,—distinctly furry.
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But the whole man is one of the strangest beings I ever set eyes on."
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A sharp, hoarse cry of animal pain came from the enclosure behind us.
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Its depth and volume testified to the puma.
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I saw Montgomery wince.
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"Yes?"
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he said.
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"Where did you pick up the creature?"
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"San Francisco.
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He's an ugly brute, I admit.
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Half-witted, you know.
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Can't remember where he came from.
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But I'm used to him, you know.
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We both are.
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How does he strike you?"
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"He's unnatural," I said.
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It's a touch—of the diabolical, in fact."
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Montgomery had stopped eating while I told him this.
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"Rum!"
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he said.
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"I can't see it."
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He resumed his meal.
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"I had no idea of it," he said, and masticated.
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"The crew of the schooner must have felt it the same.
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Made a dead set at the poor devil.
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You saw the captain?"
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Suddenly the puma howled again, this time more painfully.
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Montgomery swore under his breath.
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I had half a mind to attack him about the men on the beach.
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Then the poor brute within gave vent to a series of short, sharp cries.
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"Your men on the beach," said I; "what race are they?"
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"Excellent fellows, aren't they?"
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said he, absentmindedly, knitting his brows as the animal yelled out sharply.
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I said no more.
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There was another outcry worse than the former.
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He looked at me with his dull grey eyes, and then took some more whiskey.
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He seemed anxious to lay stress on the fact that I owed my life to him.
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I answered him distractedly.
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Presently our meal came to an end;.
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He had spoken of his odd want of nerve, and left me to the obvious application.
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Presently I got to stopping my ears with my fingers.
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The crying sounded even louder out of doors.
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It was as if all the pain in the world had found a voice.
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Chapter 8: The Crying Of The Puma.
MONTGOMERY interrupted my tangle of mystification and suspicion about one o'clock,. and his grotesque attendant followed him with a tray bearing bread, some herbs and other eatables, a flask of whiskey, a jug of water, and three glasses and knives. I glanced askance at this strange creature, and found him watching me with his queer, restless eyes. Montgomery said he would lunch with me, but that Moreau was too preoccupied with some work to come.
"Moreau!" said I. "I know that name."
"The devil you do!" said he. "What an ass I was to mention it to you! I might have thought. Anyhow, it will give you an inkling of our—mysteries. Whiskey?"
"No, thanks; I'm an abstainer."
"I wish I'd been. But it's no use locking the door after the steed is stolen. It was that infernal stuff which led to my coming here,—that, and a foggy night. I thought myself in luck at the time, when Moreau offered to get me off. It's queer—"
"Montgomery," said I, suddenly, as the outer door closed, "why has your man pointed ears?"
"Damn!" he said, over his first mouthful of food. He stared at me for a moment, and then repeated, "Pointed ears?"
"Little points to them," said I, as calmly as possible, with a catch in my breath;. "and a fine black fur at the edges?"
He helped himself to whiskey and water with great deliberation. "I was under the impression—that his hair covered his ears."
"I saw them as he stooped by me to put that coffee you sent to me on the table. And his eyes shine in the dark."
By this time Montgomery had recovered from the surprise of my question. "I always thought," he said deliberately, with a certain accentuation of his flavouring of lisp,. "that there was something the matter with his ears, from the way he covered them. What were they like?"
I was persuaded from his manner that this ignorance was a pretence. Still, I could hardly tell the man that I thought him a liar. "Pointed," I said; "rather small and furry,—distinctly furry. But the whole man is one of the strangest beings I ever set eyes on."
A sharp, hoarse cry of animal pain came from the enclosure behind us. Its depth and volume testified to the puma. I saw Montgomery wince.
"Yes?" he said.
"Where did you pick up the creature?"
"San Francisco. He's an ugly brute, I admit. Half-witted, you know. Can't remember where he came from. But I'm used to him, you know. We both are. How does he strike you?"
"He's unnatural," I said. "There's something about him—don't think me fanciful, but it gives me a nasty little sensation, a tightening of my muscles, when he comes near me. It's a touch—of the diabolical, in fact."
Montgomery had stopped eating while I told him this. "Rum!" he said. "I can't see it." He resumed his meal. "I had no idea of it," he said, and masticated. "The crew of the schooner must have felt it the same. Made a dead set at the poor devil. You saw the captain?"
Suddenly the puma howled again, this time more painfully. Montgomery swore under his breath. I had half a mind to attack him about the men on the beach. Then the poor brute within gave vent to a series of short, sharp cries.
"Your men on the beach," said I; "what race are they?"
"Excellent fellows, aren't they?" said he, absentmindedly, knitting his brows as the animal yelled out sharply.
I said no more. There was another outcry worse than the former. He looked at me with his dull grey eyes, and then took some more whiskey. He tried to draw me into a discussion about alcohol, professing to have saved my life with it. He seemed anxious to lay stress on the fact that I owed my life to him. I answered him distractedly.
Presently our meal came to an end;. the misshapen monster with the pointed ears cleared the remains away, and Montgomery left me alone in the room again. All the time he had been in a state of ill-concealed irritation at the noise of the vivisected puma. He had spoken of his odd want of nerve, and left me to the obvious application.
I found myself that the cries were singularly irritating, and they grew in depth and intensity as the afternoon wore on. They were painful at first, but their constant resurgence at last altogether upset my balance. I flung aside a crib of Horace I had been reading, and began to clench my fists, to bite my lips, and to pace the room. Presently I got to stopping my ears with my fingers.
The emotional appeal of those yells grew upon me steadily, grew at last to such an exquisite expression of suffering that I could stand it in that confined room no longer. I stepped out of the door into the slumberous heat of the late afternoon, and walking past the main entrance—locked again, I noticed—turned the corner of the wall.
The crying sounded even louder out of doors. It was as if all the pain in the world had found a voice. Yet had I known such pain was in the next room, and had it been dumb, I believe—I have thought since—I could have stood it well enough. It is when suffering finds a voice and sets our nerves quivering that this pity comes troubling us. But in spite of the brilliant sunlight and the green fans of the trees waving in the soothing sea-breeze,. the world was a confusion, blurred with drifting black and red phantasms, until I was out of earshot of the house in the chequered wall.