en-fr  The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G.Wells-Chapter IX
Chapitre 9 : La chose dans la forêt. Je marchais dans le sous-bois que délimitait la crête derrière la maison, guère attentif à où j'allais ; au-delà, après avoir traversé l'ombre d'un épais groupe d'arbres à tiges droites, je me retrouvai quelque part de l'autre côté de la crête et je descendis vers un ruisseau qui courait dans une vallée étroite. Je m'arrêtai et écoutai. La distance que j'avais parcourue, ou l'interposition d'amas de broussailles, étouffaient tout son qui aurait pu émaner de l'enceinte. L'atmosphère était calme. Puis, dans un bruissement, un lapin surgit, et détala la pente devant moi. J'hésitai, puis m'assis à la limite de l'ombre.
L'endroit était agréable. Le ruisseau était dissimulé par la végétation luxuriante des berges sauf en un point, où j'aperçus une petite portion triangulaire de ses eaux scintillantes. Sur l'autre rive, à travers une brume bleutée, je voyais un enchevêtrement d'arbres et de lianes et au-dessus d'eux encore, le bleu lumineux du ciel. Ici et là, une touche de blanc ou de pourpre indiquait la floraison de quelques plantes rampantes. Je laissai mes yeux glisser sur ce paysage un moment, puis je recommençai à me remémorer les particularités étranges de l'homme de Montgomery. Mais il faisait trop chaud pour réfléchir avec acuité et je sombrai dans une semi torpeur, entre veille et somnolence.
J'en fus tiré, je ne sais au bout de combien de temps, par un bruissement au milieu la verdure de l'autre côté du ruisseau. Pendant un moment je ne pus rien voir si ce n'est l'extrémité ondoyante des fougères et des roseaux. Puis soudain, sur la berge du ruisseau, apparu Quelque chose – au début je ne pus distinguer ce que c'était. Elle inclina sa tête arrondie vers l'eau et se mit à boire. Je vis alors que c'était un homme, se tenant à quatre pattes comme un animal. Il était vêtu de vêtements bleuâtres et avait un teint cuivré avec des cheveux noirs. Il semblait que la laideur grotesque était une caractéristique invariable de ces insulaires. Je pouvais entendre le bruit de succion de l'eau par sa bouche alors qu'il buvait.
Je me penchai pour mieux voir et un morceau de lave que ma main avait arraché, dévala la pente. Il leva la tête d'un air coupable et ses yeux rencontrèrent les miens. Immédiatement il bondit sur ses pieds, il se tint debout essuyant sa bouche d'une main maladroite en me regardant. Ses jambes faisaient à peine la moitié de la longueur de son corps. Alors, nous observant mutuellement, nous restâmes décontenancés l'espace d'une minute. Puis, s'arrêtant une ou deux fois pour regarder en arrière, il s'éloigna parmi les buissons à ma droite et j'entendis le bruissement des frondes s'étouffer et mourir au loin. Longtemps après qu'il eut disparu, je demeurai assis regardant en direction de l'endroit où il s'était replié. Ma calme somnolence s'était enfuie.
Je fus surpris par un bruit derrière moi et me retournant brusquement je vis la petite queue blanche sautillante d'un lapin s'évanouir dans la pente. Je me levai d'un bond. L'apparition de cette créature grotesque, mi-homme mi-bête, avait soudainement envahi le calme de l'après-midi pour moi. Je regardai autour de moi nerveusement, regrettant de ne pas être armé. Je réalisai alors que l'homme que j'avais vu portait des vêtements bleus, il n'était pas nu comme un sauvage l'aurait été ; et je tentai de me persuader du fait qu'après tout il était probablement un être pacifique que la froide férocité de son apparence desservait.
Pourtant j'étais grandement perturbé par son apparition. Je marchai vers la gauche le long de la pente, tournant la tête en tous sens et scrutant le chemin deci delà parmi les troncs droits des arbres. Pourquoi un homme devrait-il se déplacer à quatre pattes et boire en lapant ? À cet instant, j'entendis à nouveau gémir un animal et m'imaginant qu'il s'agissait du puma, je rebroussai chemin et marchai dans une direction diamétralement opposée au bruit. Ceci me conduisit au ruisseau que je traversai pour poursuivre mon chemin à travers les broussailles qui se trouvaient de l'autre côté.
Je fus surpris par une grande tache d'un rouge écarlate au sol et, m'en approchant, elle s'avéra être une espèce de champignon insolite, branchu et ondulé comme un lichen foliacé se liquéfiant en pâte gluante au toucher ; alors, dans la pénombre de quelques fougères luxuriantes, je tombai sur quelque chose de très déplaisant - le cadavre d'un lapin couvert de mouches scintillantes, mais encore chaud et dont la tête était arrachée. Je m'arrêtai net, horrifié à la vue du sang répandu. Il y avait ici au moins un visiteur éliminé de l'ile ! Il n'y avait aucune trace d'autres violences de ce genre. On aurait dit qu’il avait été soudainement capturé et tué. et alors que je regardais fixement le petit corps couvert de fourrure, s'imposa à moi la difficulté de comprendre comment ce carnage s'était produit. L'inquiétude survenue dans mon esprit depuis que j'avais vu le visage inhumain de l'homme au ruisseau devint plus distincte comme je me tenais là. Je commençais à prendre conscience de la hardiesse de mon expédition parmi ces inconnus. Le fourré autour de moi se transformait sous l'effet de mon imagination. Chaque ombre devenait bien plus qu'une ombre, — devenait une embuscade ; chaque bruissement devenait une menace. Des éléments invisibles semblaient m’épier. Je résolus de revenir à l'enceinte sur la plage. Je me retournai et me précipitai violemment, peut-être même frénétiquement, parmi les buissons, anxieux de me retrouver à nouveau en terrain dégagé.
Je m'arrêtai juste à temps pour éviter d'émerger à découvert. C'était une sorte de clairière créée par une dépression. les jeunes plants commençaient déjà à lutter pour combler le vide. et au-delà, la prolifération rapide de tiges et de lianes, de nappes de champignons et de fleurs la refermaient. Devant moi, accroupis ensemble sur les débris mycéliens d'un énorme tronc d'arbre renversé et encore inattentifs à mon approche, se tenaient trois silouhettes grotesques et inhumaines. L'une était de toute évidence une femme, les deux autres des hommes. Ils étaient nus, à l'exception d'un vêtement écarlate enroulé au milieu du corps; leur peau était d'une couleur rosâtre terne et blême,telle que je n'en avais encore jamais vue chez des sauvages. Ils avaient le visage gras, lourd, sans menton, un front fuyant, et une crête de rares cheveux hérissée sur le crâne. Je n'avais jamais vu de créatures à l'aspect aussi bestial.
Ils discutaient, ou du moins, l'un des hommes parlait aux deux autres, et tous trois étaient trop absorbés pour entendre le bruissement de mon approche. Ils balançaient leurs têtes et leurs épaules d'un côté à l'autre. Les mots de l'orateur arrivaient de façon dense et désordonnée, et bien que je les entendisse distinctement, je ne comprenais pas ce qu'il disait. Il me semblait réciter quelque galimatias compliqué. Bientôt, son élocution devint plus stridente et, écartant les mains, il se leva. Sur ce les autres se mirent à psalmodier à l'unisson, tout en se remettant sur leurs pieds,en tendant les mains et en se balançant au rythme de leur chant. Je remarquai alors la petite taille de leurs jambes et leurs pieds atrophiés et maladroits. Tous trois se mirent à tourner lentement en rond, levant les pieds, trépignant et agitant les bras ; une sorte de mélodie s'insinua dans leur litanie ainsi qu'un refrain qui sonnait comme :" Aloola" ou "Baloola". Leurs yeux commencèrent à briller, et leur visage disgracieux à s'illuminer en exprimant une étrange satisfaction. La salive s'écoulait de leur bouche sans lèvres.
Tout d'un coup, alors que j'observais leur gesticulation grotesque et incompréhensible, je perçus pour la première fois ce qui m'avait choqué, ce qui m'avait donné les deux impressions incohérentes et contradictoires de leur totale étrangeté et en même temps de leur étrange familiarité. Les trois créatures impliquées dans ce rite étrange avaient une forme humaine et en même temps leur allure insolite évoquait quelque animal familier. Chacune de ces créatures, malgré sa forme humaine, ses vêtements en haillons, et l'humanité grossière de la forme humaine de sa silhouette, y entremêlait — dans ses mouvements, son attitude, et dans sa présence globale — quelque évocation irrépressible du cochon, une allure porcine, la marque evidente de la bestialité.
Je restai bouleversé par cette prise de conscience, et alors les questionnements les plus horribles me vinrent brusquement à l'esprit. Ils commencèrent à bondir en l'air, l'un d'abord, les autres ensuite, en poussant des cris et des grognements. Puis l'un d'entre eux glissa, et se retrouva à quatre pattes l'espace d'un instant, pour se relever, d'ailleurs, aussitôt. Mais ce bref éclair d'une animalité véritable chez ces monstres était suffisante.
Je me retournai aussi silencieusement que possible, et me trouvant à chaque instant pétrifié de peur à l'idée d'être découvert,à chaque craquement de branche ou frémissement de feuille, je m'enfonçai dans les buissons. Je mis du temps à me sentir sûr de moi et à me déplacer librement. Ma seule idée à cette instant était de m'éloigner de ces êtres repoussants, et je remarquai à peine que j'avais débouché sur un vague sentier parmi les arbres. Puis, traversant tout à coup une petite clairière, je sursautai désagréablement à la vue de deux jambes torses au milieu des arbres, marchant en silence parallèlement à moi, et à une trentaine de mètres environs. La tête et la partie supérieure du corps étaient cachées par un entrelacs de lianes. Je m'arrêtai net, espérant que la créature ne m'avait pas vu. Les pieds s'immobilisèrent au même instant. J'étais si nerveux que je réprimai avec la plus grande difficulté l'envie de prendre mes jambes à mon cou. Puis, regardant attentivement à travers le maillage d'entrelacs, je distinguai la tête et le corps de la brute que j'avais vue boire. Il bougea la tête. Il y eut un éclair couleur émeraude dans ses yeux au moment où il me jeta un coup d'œil à travers l'ombre des arbres, une teinte partiellement lumineuse qui disparut lorsqu'il tourna à nouveau la tête. Il se tint immobile un instant, puis, d'un pas feutré, se mit à courir à travers l'enchevêtrement vert. L'instant d'après, il avait disparu derrière des buissons. Je ne pouvais plus le voir, mais je sentais qu'il s'était arrêté et qu'il m'observait à nouveau.
Que diable était-il... homme ou bête ? Que me voulait-il ? Je n'étais pas armé, pas même d'un bâton. S'enfuir serait pure folie. En tout cas, la Chose, quelle qu'elle fût, n'avait pas le courage de m'attaquer. En serrant les dents, je me dirigeai droit vers lui. J'étais anxieux de ne pas montrer la peur qui me glaçait la colonne vertébrale. Je me frayai un chemin à travers un enchevêtrement de hauts buissons à fleurs blanches et le vis plus loin à une vingtaine de pas, regardant par-dessus son épaule et hésitant. J'avançai d'un pas ou deux, fixant fermement ses yeux.
– Qui êtes-vous ? dis-je.
Il tenta de croiser mon regard. – Non ! dit-il soudain et il s'éloigna de moi, bondissant à travers les broussailles. Puis il se retourna et me fixa à nouveau. Ses yeux scintillaient dans la pénombre sous les arbres.
J'avais le cœur battant ; mais je sentis que ma seule chance résidait dans l'intimidation et je me dirigeai résolument vers lui. Il s'enfuit à nouveau et disparu dans la pénombre. Une fois de plus, je pensais avoir surpris l'éclat de ses yeux et rien d'autre.
Pour la première fois, je réalisai à quel point l'heure tardive pouvait s'avérer dangereuse pour moi. Le soleil s'était couché quelques minutes auparavant, le bref crépuscule des tropiques disparaissait déjà vers l'est et un papillon de nuit voletait silencieusement autour de ma tête. À moins que je ne veuille passer la nuit parmi les dangers inconnus de la forêt mystérieuse, je devais me hâter de retourner à l'enclos. L'idée de retourner dans ce refuge hanté par la douleur était extrêmement désagréable, mais celle d'être dans la nature, entouré par les ténèbres et tout ce qu'elles pouvaient dissimuler était bien pire encore. Je jetai un nouveau coup d'œil sur les ombres bleues qui avaient englouti cette créature étrange puis redescendis la pente vers le ruisseau, allant au jugé dans la direction d'où je venais.
Je marchai rapidement, l'esprit troublé par de nombreuses pensées et finis par me retrouver sur un plateau parmi quelques arbres épars. La clarté incolore qui succède à l'embrasement du soleil couchant s'assombrissait. le ciel bleu au-dessus se fit momentanément plus profond, et les petites étoiles percèrent une à une la lumière déclinante ; les intervalles entre les arbres, les brèches dans la végétation éloignée qui étaient d'un bleu vaporeux dans la lumière du jour, devenaient noirs et mystérieux. Je poursuivis. La couleur disparut du monde. Les cimes des arbres se découpaient dans le ciel bleu lumineux en silhouettes d'encre et tout, en dessous de ce contour, se fondait en une noirceur informe. Présentement, les arbres se clairsemaient et les futaies étaient plus abondantes. Puis il y eut un espace désolé recouvert de sable blanc et une nouvelle étendue de buissons entremêlés. Je ne me souvenais pas d'avoir déjà traversé la surface de sable auparavant. Le léger bruissement que j'entendais sur ma droite commençait à m’inquiéter. Je pensai d'abord que c'était mon imagination car chaque fois que je m'arrêtais je n'entendais que le silence, hormis la brise du soir dans la cime des arbres. Alors que je me remettais rapidement en marche, j'entendis comme un écho au bruit de mes pas.
Je m'éloignai des fourrés, restant à terrain découvert, et m'efforçant par des demi-tours rapides de surprendre quelque chose qui s'avancerait vers moi. Je ne vis rien et pourtant jamais ma certitude d'une présence étrangère ne fut plus grande. J'accélérai mon pas et après quelque temps parvins à une légère crête, je la franchis et me retournai brusquement, regardant résolument de l'autre côté. Il se dessina noir et net sur le ciel obscurci. aussitôt une masse informe se dressa brièvement sur la ligne d'horizon et disparut à nouveau. J'étais à présent convaincu que mon adversaire au visage tané me traquait une fois encore. et s'ajouta à cela l'autre constat désagréable, que j'avais perdu mon chemin.
Pendant un moment, je me dépêchai désespérément perplexe, et poursuivi par cette approche furtive. Qui que soit cette Créature, soit elle n'avait pas le courage de m'attaquer,soit elle attendait de profiter d'une faiblesse. Je demeurai scrupuleusement à découvert. Parfois, je me retournais et je tendais l'oreille ; et peu de temps après je m'étais presque persuadé que mon poursuivant avait abandonné sa traque, ou n'était qu'une simple manifestation de mon imagination perturbée. Puis j'entendis le bruit de la mer. J'accélérai, courant presque, et immédiatement il y eut un trébuchement dans mon dos.
Je me retournai brusquement et fixai du regard les arbres indistincts derrière moi. Une ombre noire semblait bondir sur une autre. J'écoutai, figé, et n'entendis rien d'autre que le sang battre dans mes oreilles Je conclus que mes nerfs étaient à vif, et que mon Imagination me trompait, et m'orientai à nouveau résolument vers le bruit de la mer.
Au bout d'une minute, les arbres se raréfièrent, et j'émergeai sur un promontoire bas, nu, qui débouchait dans l'eau sombre. La nuit était calme et claire, et le reflet de la multitude grandissante d'étoiles frissonnait dans le tranquille tangage de la mer. Un peu plus loin, les embruns sur une bande formée par un récif irrégulier brillaient de leur propre lumière blafarde. Vers l'ouest, je vis la lueur zodiacale se mêler à l'éclat jaune de l'étoile du berger. À l'est, la côte dévalait devant moi, et à l'ouest elle était cachée par l'épaulement du cap. Puis je me souvins que la plage de Moreau se situait à l'ouest.
Une brindille craqua derrière moi, et il y eut un bruissement. Je me retournai et fis face aux arbres sombres. Je ne voyais rien... à moins que je visse trop. Chaque forme sombre dans l'obscurité avait ses caractéristiques inquiétantes, sa suggestion étrange d'alerte à la vigilance. Je restai ainsi pendant peut-être une minute, puis, les yeux toujours orientés vers les arbres, je tournai vers l'ouest pour traverser la promontoire ; et au moment où je bougeai, l'une des ombres menaçantes se déplaça pour me suivre.
Mon coeur battait la chamade. Bientôt la vaste étendue d'une baie vers l'ouest devint visible, et je m'arrêtai de nouveau. L'ombre silencieuse s'arrêta à une dizaine de mètres de moi. Un petit point de lumière brillait sur le coude le plus éloigné de la courbe, et l'étendue grise de la plage de sable s'évanouissait sous la lumière des étoiles. Ce petit point de lumière se trouvait peut-être deux milles plus loin. Pour atteindre la plage, je devais traverser les arbres où se cachaient les ombres, et descendre une pente brousailleuse.
Je pouvais voir la Chose un peu plus distinctement maintenant. Ce n'était pas un animal, car elle se tenait debout. À ce moment, j'ouvris la bouche pour parler, et je m'aperçus que des mucosités qui m'enrouaient étouffaient ma voix. J'essayai encore et criai : — Qui est là ? Il n'y eut pas de réponse. Je fis un pas en avant. La Chose ne bougea pas, elle se tapit seulement un peu plus. Mon pied heurta une pierre. Cela me donna une idée. Sans lever les yeux de la forme noire devant moi, je me baissai et ramassai ce morceau de roche ; mais à mon mouvement, la Chose se retourna brusquement comme un chien aurait pu le faire, et se faufila dans l'obscurité. Puis je me souvins d'un truc d'écolier contre les gros chiens et j'enveloppai la pierre avec mon mouchoir que j'enroulai autour de mon poignet. J'entendis un mouvement plus loin parmi les ombres, comme si la Chose battait en retraite. Puis soudain mon intense excitation retomba. J'étais inondé de sueur et tremblais terriblement avec mon adversaire en déroute et cette arme à la main.
Il me fallut quelque temps avant que je puisse prendre la résolution de descendre à travers les arbres et les buissons sur le flanc du promontoire jusqu'à la plage. Enfin, je le fis en courant; et comme j'émergeai du fourré sur le sable, j'entendis un autre corps courir derrière moi. A ce moment, la peur me fit complètement perdre la tête et je commençai à courir le long du sable. Aussitôt, me parvint le son de petits pas trottinant rapidement à ma poursuite. Je poussai un cri sauvage et redoublai d'allure. À mon passage, des choses sombres et noires, de trois ou quatre fois la taille d'un lapin, coururent ou sautèrent de la plage vers les buissons.
Tant que je vivrai, je me souviendrai de la terreur de cette poursuite. Je courais près du bord de l'eau, et j'entendais de temps en temps les éclaboussures des pieds qui gagnaient sur moi. Loin, désespérément loin, était la lumière jaune. La nuit qui nous entourait était noire et calme. Plouf, plouf, faisaient les pieds me poursuivant, de plus en plus près. Je sentis mon souffle se couper, car je manquais d'entraînement ; ça sifflait lorsque je respirais et je ressentais comme des coups de poignard dans les flancs. Je m'aperçus que la Chose me rattraperait bien avant que j'atteigne l'enceinte, et, aux abois et cherchant désespérément à reprendre ma respiration, je me retournai brusquement sur elle et la frappai de toutes mes forces au moment où elle s'avançait vers moi. Se faisant, la pierre fut projetée de la fronde du mouchoir. Comme je me retournai, la Chose, qui courait à quatre pattes, se mit debout et le projectile atterrit droit sur sa tempe gauche. Il retentit bruyamment sur son crâne, et l'homme animal buta sur moi, me repoussa avec ses mains et passa en titubant devant moi pour tomber le tête la première sur le sable le visage dans l'eau ; et là, il ne bougea plus.
Je ne pouvais pas me résoudre à approcher cette masse noire. Je l'ai laissé là, avec l'eau qui ondulait autour de lui, sous les astres tranquilles, et me tenant à bonne distance, je me dirigai vers la lueur jaune de la maison ; peu de temps après, j'entendis avec un soulagement certain, le gémissement lamentable du puma, le son qui, à l'origine, m'avait chassé pour explorer cette île mystérieuse. Là, bien que je fusse faible et horriblement fatigué, je rassemblai toutes mes forces et recommencai à courir vers la lumière. Je crus avoir entendu une voix m'appeler.
unit 3
I paused and listened.
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unit 5
The air was still.
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unit 6
Then with a rustle a rabbit emerged, and went scampering up the slope before me.
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unit 7
I hesitated, and sat down in the edge of the shade.
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unit 8
The place was a pleasant one.
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unit 11
Here and there a splash of white or crimson marked the blooming of some trailing epiphyte.
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unit 15
For a moment I could see nothing but the waving summits of the ferns and reeds.
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unit 17
It bowed its round head to the water, and began to drink.
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unit 18
Then I saw it was a man, going on all-fours like a beast.
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unit 19
He was clothed in bluish cloth, and was of a copper-coloured hue, with black hair.
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unit 20
It seemed that grotesque ugliness was an invariable character of these islanders.
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unit 21
I could hear the suck of the water at his lips as he drank.
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unit 23
He looked up guiltily, and his eyes met mine.
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His legs were scarcely half the length of his body.
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unit 26
So, staring one another out of countenance, we remained for perhaps the space of a minute.
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unit 28
Long after he had disappeared, I remained sitting up staring in the direction of his retreat.
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unit 29
My drowsy tranquillity had gone.
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unit 31
I jumped to my feet.
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unit 33
I looked around me rather nervously, and regretted that I was unarmed.
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unit 36
Yet I was greatly disturbed at the apparition.
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unit 38
Why should a man go on all-fours and drink with his lips?
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but still warm and with the head torn off.
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unit 44
I stopped aghast at the sight of the scattered blood.
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unit 45
Here at least was one visitor to the island disposed of!
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unit 46
There were no traces of other violence about it.
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unit 47
It looked as though it had been suddenly snatched up and killed;.
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unit 48
and as I stared at the little furry body came the difficulty of how the thing had been done.
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unit 50
I began to realise the hardihood of my expedition among these unknown people.
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unit 51
The thicket about me became altered to my imagination.
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unit 52
Every shadow became something more than a shadow,—became an ambush; every rustle became a threat.
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unit 53
Invisible things seemed watching me.
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unit 54
I resolved to go back to the enclosure on the beach.
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unit 56
I stopped just in time to prevent myself emerging upon an open space.
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unit 57
It was a kind of glade in the forest, made by a fall;.
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unit 58
seedlings were already starting up to struggle for the vacant space;.
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One was evidently a female; the other two were men.
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They were naked, save for swathings of scarlet cloth about the middle;.
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and their skins were of a dull pinkish-drab colour, such as I had seen in no savages before.
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unit 65
I never saw such bestial-looking creatures.
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They swayed their heads and shoulders from side to side.
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He seemed to me to be reciting some complicated gibberish.
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Presently his articulation became shriller, and spreading his hands he rose to his feet.
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I noticed then the abnormal shortness of their legs, and their lank, clumsy feet.
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All three began slowly to circle round, raising and stamping their feet and waving their arms;.
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unit 76
Saliva dripped from their lipless mouths.
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unit 81
They began leaping in the air, first one and then the other, whooping and grunting.
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Then one slipped, and for a moment was on all-fours,—to recover, indeed, forthwith.
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unit 83
But that transitory gleam of the true animalism of these monsters was enough.
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unit 85
It was long before I grew bolder, and dared to move freely.
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unit 88
The head and upper part of the body were hidden by a tangle of creeper.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 89
I stopped abruptly, hoping the creature did not see me.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 90
The feet stopped as I did.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 91
So nervous was I that I controlled an impulse to headlong flight with the utmost difficulty.
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unit 93
He moved his head.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 96
In another moment he had vanished behind some bushes.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 97
I could not see him, but I felt that he had stopped and was watching me again.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 98
What on earth was he,—man or beast?
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 99
What did he want with me?
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 100
I had no weapon, not even a stick.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 101
Flight would be madness.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 102
At any rate the Thing, whatever it was, lacked the courage to attack me.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 103
Setting my teeth hard, I walked straight towards him.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 104
I was anxious not to show the fear that seemed chilling my backbone.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 106
I advanced a step or two, looking steadfastly into his eyes.
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unit 107
"Who are you?"
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 108
said I.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 109
He tried to meet my gaze.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 110
"No!"
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 111
he said suddenly, and turning went bounding away from me through the undergrowth.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 112
Then he turned and stared at me again.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 113
His eyes shone brightly out of the dusk under the trees.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 114
My heart was in my mouth; but I felt my only chance was bluff, and walked steadily towards him.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 115
He turned again, and vanished into the dusk.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 116
Once more I thought I caught the glint of his eyes, and that was all.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 117
For the first time I realised how the lateness of the hour might affect me.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 120
The thought of a return to that pain-haunted refuge was extremely disagreeable,.
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unit 124
The colourless clearness that comes after the sunset flush was darkling;.
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unit 127
I pushed on.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 128
The colour vanished from the world.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 130
Presently the trees grew thinner, and the shrubby undergrowth more abundant.
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unit 131
unit 132
I did not remember crossing the sand-opening before.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 133
I began to be tormented by a faint rustling upon my right hand.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 135
Then when I turned to hurry on again there was an echo to my footsteps.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 137
I saw nothing, and nevertheless my sense of another presence grew steadily.
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unit 139
It came out black and clear-cut against the darkling sky;.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 140
and presently a shapeless lump heaved up momentarily against the sky-line and vanished again.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 141
I felt assured now that my tawny-faced antagonist was stalking me once more;.
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unit 142
and coupled with that was another unpleasant realisation, that I had lost my way.
2 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 143
For a time I hurried on hopelessly perplexed, and pursued by that stealthy approach.
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unit 145
I kept studiously to the open.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 146
At times I would turn and listen;.
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unit 148
Then I heard the sound of the sea.
2 Translations, 5 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 149
I quickened my footsteps almost into a run, and immediately there was a stumble in my rear.
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unit 150
I turned suddenly, and stared at the uncertain trees behind me.
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unit 151
One black shadow seemed to leap into another.
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unit 152
I listened, rigid, and heard nothing but the creep of the blood in my ears.
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unit 156
Some way out, the wash upon an irregular band of reef shone with a pallid light of its own.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 157
Westward I saw the zodiacal light mingling with the yellow brilliance of the evening star.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 158
The coast fell away from me to the east, and westward it was hidden by the shoulder of the cape.
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unit 159
Then I recalled the fact that Moreau's beach lay to the west.
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unit 160
A twig snapped behind me, and there was a rustle.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 161
I turned, and stood facing the dark trees.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 162
I could see nothing—or else I could see too much.
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unit 163
unit 165
and as I moved, one among the lurking shadows moved to follow me.
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unit 166
My heart beat quickly.
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unit 167
Presently the broad sweep of a bay to the westward became visible, and I halted again.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 168
The noiseless shadow halted a dozen yards from me.
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unit 170
Perhaps two miles away was that little point of light.
1 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
unit 172
I could see the Thing rather more distinctly now.
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It was no animal, for it stood erect.
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unit 174
At that I opened my mouth to speak, and found a hoarse phlegm choked my voice.
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unit 175
I tried again, and shouted, "Who is there?"
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There was no answer.
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unit 177
I advanced a step.
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unit 178
The Thing did not move, only gathered itself together.
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My foot struck a stone.
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unit 180
That gave me an idea.
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unit 181
Without taking my eyes off the black form before me, I stooped and picked up this lump of rock;.
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I heard a movement further off among the shadows, as if the Thing was in retreat.
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unit 185
Then suddenly my tense excitement gave way;.
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unit 189
At that I completely lost my head with fear, and began running along the sand.
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unit 190
Forthwith there came the swift patter of soft feet in pursuit.
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unit 191
I gave a wild cry, and redoubled my pace.
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unit 193
So long as I live, I shall remember the terror of that chase.
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unit 194
unit 195
Far away, hopelessly far, was the yellow light.
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unit 196
All the night about us was black and still.
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unit 197
Splash, splash, came the pursuing feet, nearer and nearer.
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unit 198
I felt my breath going, for I was quite out of training;.
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unit 199
it whooped as I drew it, and I felt a pain like a knife at my side.
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unit 201
The stone came out of the sling of the handkerchief as I did so.
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unit 204
and there it lay still.
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unit 205
I could not bring myself to approach that black heap.
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unit 209
I thought I heard a voice calling me.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 1 week ago
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Gabrielle • 13871  commented on  unit 199  3 months, 2 weeks ago
Gabrielle • 13871  commented on  unit 171  3 months, 2 weeks ago
Gabrielle • 13871  commented on  unit 119  3 months, 2 weeks ago
Vadrouilleuse • 5648  commented on  unit 41  3 months, 2 weeks ago
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Gabrielle • 13871  commented on  unit 70  3 months, 2 weeks ago
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Gabrielle • 13871  commented on  unit 6  3 months, 3 weeks ago

Chapter 9: The Thing In The Forest
I STRODE through the undergrowth that clothed the ridge behind the house, scarcely heeding whither I went;. passed on through the shadow of a thick cluster of straight-stemmed trees beyond it, and so presently found myself some way on the other side of the ridge, and descending towards a streamlet that ran through a narrow valley. I paused and listened. The distance I had come, or the intervening masses of thicket, deadened any sound that might be coming from the enclosure. The air was still. Then with a rustle a rabbit emerged, and went scampering up the slope before me. I hesitated, and sat down in the edge of the shade.
The place was a pleasant one. The rivulet was hidden by the luxuriant vegetation of the banks save at one point, where I caught a triangular patch of its glittering water. On the farther side I saw through a bluish haze a tangle of trees and creepers, and above these again the luminous blue of the sky. Here and there a splash of white or crimson marked the blooming of some trailing epiphyte. I let my eyes wander over this scene for a while, and then began to turn over in my mind again the strange peculiarities of Montgomery's man. But it was too hot to think elaborately, and presently I fell into a tranquil state midway between dozing and waking.
From this I was aroused, after I know not how long, by a rustling amidst the greenery on the other side of the stream. For a moment I could see nothing but the waving summits of the ferns and reeds. Then suddenly upon the bank of the stream appeared Something—at first I could not distinguish what it was. It bowed its round head to the water, and began to drink. Then I saw it was a man, going on all-fours like a beast. He was clothed in bluish cloth, and was of a copper-coloured hue, with black hair. It seemed that grotesque ugliness was an invariable character of these islanders. I could hear the suck of the water at his lips as he drank.
I leant forward to see him better, and a piece of lava, detached by my hand, went pattering down the slope. He looked up guiltily, and his eyes met mine. Forthwith he scrambled to his feet, and stood wiping his clumsy hand across his mouth and regarding me. His legs were scarcely half the length of his body. So, staring one another out of countenance, we remained for perhaps the space of a minute. Then, stopping to look back once or twice, he slunk off among the bushes to the right of me, and I heard the swish of the fronds grow faint in the distance and die away. Long after he had disappeared, I remained sitting up staring in the direction of his retreat. My drowsy tranquillity had gone.
I was startled by a noise behind me, and turning suddenly saw the flapping white tail of a rabbit vanishing up the slope. I jumped to my feet. The apparition of this grotesque, half-bestial creature had suddenly populated the stillness of the afternoon for me. I looked around me rather nervously, and regretted that I was unarmed. Then I thought that the man I had just seen had been clothed in bluish cloth, had not been naked as a savage would have been;. and I tried to persuade myself from that fact that he was after all probably a peaceful character, that the dull ferocity of his countenance belied him.
Yet I was greatly disturbed at the apparition. I walked to the left along the slope, turning my head about and peering this way and that among the straight stems of the trees. Why should a man go on all-fours and drink with his lips? Presently I heard an animal wailing again, and taking it to be the puma, I turned about and walked in a direction diametrically opposite to the sound. This led me down to the stream, across which I stepped and pushed my way up through the undergrowth beyond.
I was startled by a great patch of vivid scarlet on the ground, and going up to it found it to be a peculiar fungus, branched and corrugated like a foliaceous lichen, but deliquescing into slime at the touch;. and then in the shadow of some luxuriant ferns I came upon an unpleasant thing,—the dead body of a rabbit covered with shining flies,. but still warm and with the head torn off. I stopped aghast at the sight of the scattered blood. Here at least was one visitor to the island disposed of! There were no traces of other violence about it. It looked as though it had been suddenly snatched up and killed;. and as I stared at the little furry body came the difficulty of how the thing had been done. The vague dread that had been in my mind since I had seen the inhuman face of the man at the stream grew distincter as I stood there. I began to realise the hardihood of my expedition among these unknown people. The thicket about me became altered to my imagination. Every shadow became something more than a shadow,—became an ambush; every rustle became a threat. Invisible things seemed watching me. I resolved to go back to the enclosure on the beach. I suddenly turned away and thrust myself violently, possibly even frantically, through the bushes, anxious to get a clear space about me again.
I stopped just in time to prevent myself emerging upon an open space. It was a kind of glade in the forest, made by a fall;. seedlings were already starting up to struggle for the vacant space;. and beyond, the dense growth of stems and twining vines and splashes of fungus and flowers closed in again. Before me, squatting together upon the fungoid ruins of a huge fallen tree and still unaware of my approach, were three grotesque human figures. One was evidently a female; the other two were men. They were naked, save for swathings of scarlet cloth about the middle;. and their skins were of a dull pinkish-drab colour, such as I had seen in no savages before. They had fat, heavy, chinless faces, retreating foreheads, and a scant bristly hair upon their heads. I never saw such bestial-looking creatures.
They were talking, or at least one of the men was talking to the other two, and all three had been too closely interested to heed the rustling of my approach. They swayed their heads and shoulders from side to side. The speaker's words came thick and sloppy, and though I could hear them distinctly I could not distinguish what he said. He seemed to me to be reciting some complicated gibberish. Presently his articulation became shriller, and spreading his hands he rose to his feet. At that the others began to gibber in unison, also rising to their feet, spreading their hands and swaying their bodies in rhythm with their chant. I noticed then the abnormal shortness of their legs, and their lank, clumsy feet. All three began slowly to circle round, raising and stamping their feet and waving their arms;. a kind of tune crept into their rhythmic recitation, and a refrain,—"Aloola," or "Balloola," it sounded like. Their eyes began to sparkle, and their ugly faces to brighten, with an expression of strange pleasure. Saliva dripped from their lipless mouths.
Suddenly, as I watched their grotesque and unaccountable gestures, I perceived clearly for the first time what it was that had offended me, what had given me the two inconsistent and conflicting impressions of utter strangeness and yet of the strangest familiarity. The three creatures engaged in this mysterious rite were human in shape, and yet human beings with the strangest air about them of some familiar animal. Each of these creatures, despite its human form, its rag of clothing, and the rough humanity of its bodily form, had woven into it—into its movements, into the expression of its countenance, into its whole presence—some now irresistible suggestion of a hog, a swinish taint, the unmistakable mark of the beast.
I stood overcome by this amazing realisation and then the most horrible questionings came rushing into my mind. They began leaping in the air, first one and then the other, whooping and grunting. Then one slipped, and for a moment was on all-fours,—to recover, indeed, forthwith. But that transitory gleam of the true animalism of these monsters was enough.
I turned as noiselessly as possible, and becoming every now and then rigid with the fear of being discovered, as a branch cracked or a leaf rustled, I pushed back into the bushes. It was long before I grew bolder, and dared to move freely. My only idea for the moment was to get away from these foul beings, and I scarcely noticed that I had emerged upon a faint pathway amidst the trees. Then suddenly traversing a little glade, I saw with an unpleasant start two clumsy legs among the trees, walking with noiseless footsteps parallel with my course, and perhaps thirty yards away from me. The head and upper part of the body were hidden by a tangle of creeper. I stopped abruptly, hoping the creature did not see me. The feet stopped as I did. So nervous was I that I controlled an impulse to headlong flight with the utmost difficulty. Then looking hard, I distinguished through the interlacing network the head and body of the brute I had seen drinking. He moved his head. There was an emerald flash in his eyes as he glanced at me from the shadow of the trees, a half-luminous colour that vanished as he turned his head again. He was motionless for a moment, and then with a noiseless tread began running through the green confusion. In another moment he had vanished behind some bushes. I could not see him, but I felt that he had stopped and was watching me again.
What on earth was he,—man or beast? What did he want with me? I had no weapon, not even a stick. Flight would be madness. At any rate the Thing, whatever it was, lacked the courage to attack me. Setting my teeth hard, I walked straight towards him. I was anxious not to show the fear that seemed chilling my backbone. I pushed through a tangle of tall white-flowered bushes, and saw him twenty paces beyond, looking over his shoulder at me and hesitating. I advanced a step or two, looking steadfastly into his eyes.
"Who are you?" said I.
He tried to meet my gaze. "No!" he said suddenly, and turning went bounding away from me through the undergrowth. Then he turned and stared at me again. His eyes shone brightly out of the dusk under the trees.
My heart was in my mouth; but I felt my only chance was bluff, and walked steadily towards him. He turned again, and vanished into the dusk. Once more I thought I caught the glint of his eyes, and that was all.
For the first time I realised how the lateness of the hour might affect me. The sun had set some minutes since, the swift dusk of the tropics was already fading out of the eastern sky, and a pioneer moth fluttered silently by my head. Unless I would spend the night among the unknown dangers of the mysterious forest, I must hasten back to the enclosure. The thought of a return to that pain-haunted refuge was extremely disagreeable,. but still more so was the idea of being overtaken in the open by darkness and all that darkness might conceal. I gave one more look into the blue shadows that had swallowed up this odd creature, and then retraced my way down the slope towards the stream, going as I judged in the direction from which I had come.
I walked eagerly, my mind confused with many things, and presently found myself in a level place among scattered trees. The colourless clearness that comes after the sunset flush was darkling;. the blue sky above grew momentarily deeper, and the little stars one by one pierced the attenuated light;. the interspaces of the trees, the gaps in the further vegetation, that had been hazy blue in the daylight, grew black and mysterious. I pushed on. The colour vanished from the world. The tree-tops rose against the luminous blue sky in inky silhouette, and all below that outline melted into one formless blackness. Presently the trees grew thinner, and the shrubby undergrowth more abundant. Then there was a desolate space covered with a white sand, and then another expanse of tangled bushes. I did not remember crossing the sand-opening before. I began to be tormented by a faint rustling upon my right hand. I thought at first it was fancy, for whenever I stopped there was silence, save for the evening breeze in the tree-tops. Then when I turned to hurry on again there was an echo to my footsteps.
I turned away from the thickets, keeping to the more open ground, and endeavouring by sudden turns now and then to surprise something in the act of creeping upon me. I saw nothing, and nevertheless my sense of another presence grew steadily. I increased my pace, and after some time came to a slight ridge, crossed it, and turned sharply, regarding it steadfastly from the further side. It came out black and clear-cut against the darkling sky;. and presently a shapeless lump heaved up momentarily against the sky-line and vanished again. I felt assured now that my tawny-faced antagonist was stalking me once more;. and coupled with that was another unpleasant realisation, that I had lost my way.
For a time I hurried on hopelessly perplexed, and pursued by that stealthy approach. Whatever it was, the Thing either lacked the courage to attack me, or it was waiting to take me at some disadvantage. I kept studiously to the open. At times I would turn and listen;. and presently I had half persuaded myself that my pursuer had abandoned the chase, or was a mere creation of my disordered imagination. Then I heard the sound of the sea. I quickened my footsteps almost into a run, and immediately there was a stumble in my rear.
I turned suddenly, and stared at the uncertain trees behind me. One black shadow seemed to leap into another. I listened, rigid, and heard nothing but the creep of the blood in my ears. I thought that my nerves were unstrung, and that my imagination was tricking me, and turned resolutely towards the sound of the sea again.
In a minute or so the trees grew thinner, and I emerged upon a bare, low headland running out into the sombre water. The night was calm and clear, and the reflection of the growing multitude of the stars shivered in the tranquil heaving of the sea. Some way out, the wash upon an irregular band of reef shone with a pallid light of its own. Westward I saw the zodiacal light mingling with the yellow brilliance of the evening star. The coast fell away from me to the east, and westward it was hidden by the shoulder of the cape. Then I recalled the fact that Moreau's beach lay to the west.
A twig snapped behind me, and there was a rustle. I turned, and stood facing the dark trees. I could see nothing—or else I could see too much. Every dark form in the dimness had its ominous quality, its peculiar suggestion of alert watchfulness. So I stood for perhaps a minute, and then, with an eye to the trees still, turned westward to cross the headland;. and as I moved, one among the lurking shadows moved to follow me.
My heart beat quickly. Presently the broad sweep of a bay to the westward became visible, and I halted again. The noiseless shadow halted a dozen yards from me. A little point of light shone on the further bend of the curve, and the grey sweep of the sandy beach lay faint under the starlight. Perhaps two miles away was that little point of light. To get to the beach I should have to go through the trees where the shadows lurked, and down a bushy slope.
I could see the Thing rather more distinctly now. It was no animal, for it stood erect. At that I opened my mouth to speak, and found a hoarse phlegm choked my voice. I tried again, and shouted, "Who is there?" There was no answer. I advanced a step. The Thing did not move, only gathered itself together. My foot struck a stone. That gave me an idea. Without taking my eyes off the black form before me, I stooped and picked up this lump of rock;. but at my motion the Thing turned abruptly as a dog might have done, and slunk obliquely into the further darkness. Then I recalled a schoolboy expedient against big dogs, and twisted the rock into my handkerchief, and gave this a turn round my wrist. I heard a movement further off among the shadows, as if the Thing was in retreat. Then suddenly my tense excitement gave way;. I broke into a profuse perspiration and fell a-trembling, with my adversary routed and this weapon in my hand.
It was some time before I could summon resolution to go down through the trees and bushes upon the flank of the headland to the beach. At last I did it at a run; and as I emerged from the thicket upon the sand, I heard some other body come crashing after me. At that I completely lost my head with fear, and began running along the sand. Forthwith there came the swift patter of soft feet in pursuit. I gave a wild cry, and redoubled my pace. Some dim, black things about three or four times the size of rabbits went running or hopping up from the beach towards the bushes as I passed.
So long as I live, I shall remember the terror of that chase. I ran near the water's edge, and heard every now and then the splash of the feet that gained upon me. Far away, hopelessly far, was the yellow light. All the night about us was black and still. Splash, splash, came the pursuing feet, nearer and nearer. I felt my breath going, for I was quite out of training;. it whooped as I drew it, and I felt a pain like a knife at my side. I perceived the Thing would come up with me long before I reached the enclosure, and, desperate and sobbing for my breath, I wheeled round upon it and struck at it as it came up to me,—struck with all my strength. The stone came out of the sling of the handkerchief as I did so. As I turned, the Thing, which had been running on all-fours, rose to its feet, and the missile fell fair on its left temple. The skull rang loud, and the animal-man blundered into me, thrust me back with its hands, and went staggering past me to fall headlong upon the sand with its face in the water;. and there it lay still.
I could not bring myself to approach that black heap. I left it there, with the water rippling round it, under the still stars, and giving it a wide berth pursued my way towards the yellow glow of the house;. and presently, with a positive effect of relief, came the pitiful moaning of the puma, the sound that had originally driven me out to explore this mysterious island. At that, though I was faint and horribly fatigued, I gathered together all my strength, and began running again towards the light. I thought I heard a voice calling me.