en-fr  The Island of Doctor Moreau/Chapter 11 Medium
L'île du docteur Moreau par H. G. Wells.
Chapitre 11.


LA CHASSE À L'HOMME.


Il me vint à l'esprit avec l'espoir insensé d'une évasion que la porte extérieure de ma chambre était elle toujours ouverte. J'étais maintenant convaincu, absolument certain, que Moreau avait pratiqué la vivisection d'un être humain. En permanence, depuis que j'avais entendu son nom, j'avais essayé de faire le lien dans ma tête entre l'animalité grotesque des insulaires et ces abominations, maintenant tout devenait clair. Le souvenir de ses travaux sur la transfusion sanguine me revenait en mémoire. Ces créatures que j'avais vues étaient les victimes de quelque horrible expérience. Ces infâmes canailles avaient simplement essayé de me retenir, de me berner avec leur manifestation de confiance, et maintenant de me tomber dessus pour un destin plus horrible que la mort, en me torturant, et après la torture, la plus horrible dégradation qu'il fût possible de concevoir, — de me laisser sans âme, tel une bête, dans leur Royaume des monstres.

Je cherchai quelque arme autour de moi. Rien. Soudain, saisi d'une inspiration, je retournai la chaise-longue, posai mon pied sur le bord, et arrachai le bat-flanc. Il advint qu'un clou arraché avec le bois, faisant saillie, donnait un air de dangerosité à une arme par ailleurs plutôt insignifiante. J'entendis un bruit de pas dehors, et d'un coup j'ouvris brusquement la porte et me trouvai face à Montgomery à moins d'un mètre de là. Il essayait de fermer la porte sur l'extérieur. Je levai mon bâton muni d'un clou et j'essayai de lui entailler le visage; mais il sauta en arrière. J'hésitai un moment puis me retournai et fuis derrière le coin de la maison. – Prendick, mon vieux ! J'entendis son cri étonné : Ne sois pas un sombre idiot, mon vieux ! Une minute de plus, pensai-je, et il m'aurait enfermé et je me serais retrouvé face au même avenir qu'un lapin de laboratoire. Il émerga derrière le coin, car je l'entendis crier, – Prendick ! Puis il commença à courir après moi, criant tout en courant. Cette fois, courant à l'aveuglette, je filai vers le nord-ouest à angle droit par rapport à ma précédente sortie. À un moment, comme je courais tête baissée sur la plage, je jetai un coup d'œil par-dessus mon épaule et vis son assistant avec lui. Je remontai furieusement le long de la pente, puis je me dirigeai vers l'est, le long d'une vallée rocheuse bordée des deux côtés par la jungle. Je courus peut-être un kilomètre en tout, la poitrine serrée, le cœur me battant furieusement aux oreilles ; comme je n'entendais alors rien venant de Montgomery ni de son assistant et me sentant au bord de l'épuisement, je retournai brusquement vers la plage, me sembla-t-il, et m'allongeai à l'abri d'un fourré de bambous. J'y restai longtemps, trop apeuré pour bouger, et même trop apeuré pour échafauder la moindre action. La nature sauvage autour de moi était silencieusement assoupie sous le soleil et le seul bruit qui me parvenait était le léger bourdonnement de quelques petits moucherons qui m'avaient découvert. Bientôt, je pris conscience d’une soporifique respiration, le murmure de la mer sur la plage.

Au bout d'une heure environ, j'entendis Montgomery hurler mon nom, loin vers le nord. Cela me fit penser à mon plan d'action. Comme je l'avais alors compris, cette île n'était habitée que par ces deux vivisecteurs et leurs victimes animalisées. Ils pouvaient, sans aucun doute, exciter certains d'entre eux contre moi le cas échéant. Je savais que Moreau et Montmogery portaient des revolvers; et, à part un maigre bout de bois muni d'un modeste clou — la plus simple imitation qui fût d'une solide massue —, je n'étais pas armé.

Alors je restai allongé jusqu'à ce que l'envie de boire et de manger me gagne ; et cette pensée me fit toucher du doigt combien ma situation était véritablement désespérée. Je ne voyais pas de moyen de trouver à me nourrir. J'étais trop ignorant de la botanique pour avoir recours aux quelques racines ou fruits qui pouvaient se trouver autour de moi ; je n'avais pas les moyens de piéger les rares lapins de l'île. Plus j'évaluais mes chances, plus elles s'amenuisaient. À la fin, dans le désespoir de ma situation, je me mis à penser aux hommes-bêtes que j'avais trouvés. Je tentai de trouver quelque espoir dans le souvenir que j'en avais. Je me remémorai à tour de rôle chacun de ceux que j'avais vus, et essayai d'en tirer quelque augure d'une assistance dans mon souvenir.

Lorsque j'entendis soudain un lévrier aboyer, et pris alors conscience d'un nouveau danger. Je n'eus pas longtemps à réfléchir, sinon ils m'auraient pris, mais m'emparant de mon bâton à clou, je me ruai tête baissée de ma cachette en direction du bruit de la mer. Je me souviens d'une végétation de plantes épineuses aux piquants acérés comme des couteaux J'émergeai ruisselant de sang, les vêtements en lambeaux au bord d'une longue crique ouverte au nord-ouest. J'entrai directement dans l'eau, sans une seconde d'hésitation, je grenouillai dans la crique et me retrouvai bientôt, de la flotte jusqu'aux genoux, dans le lit d'un petit ruisseau. J'atteignis enfin l'autre rive et, le cœur battant à tout rompre, me faufilai dans un enchevêtrement de fougères pour attendre la suite. J'entendais le chien (il n'y en avait qu'un seul) s'approcher et geindre lorsqu'il traversa les plantes épineuses. Puis je n'entendis plus rien et commençai à penser que je leur avais échappé.

Les minutes passèrent, le silence se prolongea et finalement après une heure de calme je commençai à reprendre courage. À ce moment-là, je ne me sentais ni effrayé ni misérable. J'avais, en quelque sorte, atteint les limites de la terreur et du désespoir. Je sentais maintenant que ma vie était quasi perdue et cette conviction me donnait la force de tout oser. J'avais même un certain désir de rencontrer Moreau, de lui faire face, et comme j'avais traversé une étendue d'eau, je me suis souvenu que si j'étais trop aux abois, il me restait au moins un moyen d'échapper aux tourments... ils auraient du mal à m'empêcher de me noyer. J'avais presque envie de me noyer alors ; mais un désir étrange de mener cette aventure à son terme, un intérêt curieux, impersonnel et spectaculaire, m'en dissuada. Je m'étirai, meurtri et douloureux à cause des piqûres des plantes épineuses, et je regardai les arbres autour de moi ; puis, si soudainement qu'il sembla jaillir des feuillages, mes yeux se posèrent sur un visage noir qui m'observait. Je vis que c'était la créature simiesque qui était venue à la rencontre de la chaloupe sur la plage. Il était suspendu au tronc oblique d'un palmier J'agrippai mon bâton et me plantai face à lui. Il se mit à parler. — Toi, toi, toi, fut tout ce que je pus comprendre au début. Soudain, il descendit de l'arbre et, l'instant d'après, il écartait les feuillages et me fixait curieusement.

Je ne ressentais pas la même répugnance envers cette créature que celle que j'éprouvais lors de mes rencontres avec les autres Hommes Bêtes. — Toi, dit-il, dans le bateau. C'était donc un homme, du moins aussi humain que le serviteur de Montgomery, car il pouvait parler.

— Oui, dis-je, je suis venu en bateau. Depuis le bateau. — Oh ! dit-il, et ses yeux brillants et nerveux me posèrent sur mes mains, le bâton que je tenais, mes pieds, mes vêtements en lambeaux et sur les coupures et égratignures dues aux épines. Quelque chose semblait le rendre perplexe. Ses yeux revinrent à mes mains. Il tendit la main et compta lentement ses doigts : — Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq... huit ? Je ne comprenais pas alors ce que ça signifiait ; par la suite, j'appris qu'une grande partie de ces Hommes Bêtes avait des mains mal formées, il leur manquait parfois jusqu'à trois doigts. Mais devinant que c'était une sorte de salutation, je fis la même chose en guise de réponse. Il sourit avec une immense satisfaction. Puis son regard rapide et furtif refit un tour ; il fit un mouvement brusque... et disparut. Les frondes des fougères entre lesquelles il s'était dressé se balançaient à l'unisson.

Je sortis du fourré à sa suite et fus étonné de le voir se balancer gaiement, son bras grêle agrippant une liane qui pendait depuis la canopée. Il me tournait le dos.

— Bonjour, dis-je.

Il descendit en pirouettant et se retrouva face à moi.

— Eh bien, dis-je, où puis-je trouver quelque chose à manger ? — Manger ! dit-il. Mangez de la nourriture de l'homme, maintenant. Et son œil retourna à l'oscillation des cordes. Aux huttes. — Mais où sont les huttes ? — Oh ! — Je suis nouveau, vous savez. À ce moment-là, il se retourna et il s'éloigna de quelques pas. Toutes ses gestes étaient curieusement rapides. — Viens avec moi, dit-il.

J'allai avec lui pour voir la fin de l'aventure. Je devinais que les huttes étaient un abri rudimentaire où il vivait avec quelques autres Hommes-Bêtes. Je pourrais peut-être les trouver amicaux, arriver à les comprendre pour en faire des alliés. Je ne savais pas jusqu'où ils avaient oublié leur patrimoine humain.

Mon compagnon simiesque trottinait à mon côté, les mains touchant le sol et la mâchoire prognathe. Je me demandai quels souvenirs il pouvait bien avoir au fond de lui-même. — Depuis combien de temps êtes-vous sur cette île ? demandai-je.

— Combien temps ? interrogea-t-il , après lui avoir reposé la question, il me montra trois doigts.

La créature avait un peu plus de capacités qu'un simple d'esprit. J'essayai de comprendre ce qu'il voulait dire par là et il me sembla que je l'ennuyais. Après une ou deux autres questions, il s'éloigna soudainement de moi et bondit sur un fruit accroché à une branche Il décrocha une poignée de bogues épineuses et se mit à manger ce qu'elles contenaient. Je notai cela avec satisfaction, cela prouvait au moins que c'était comestible J'essayai avec d'autres questions, mais ses réponses rapides et claquantes n'avaient très souvent rien à voir avec mes interrogations. Certaines étaient appropriées, d'autres ressemblaient au langage des perroquets

J'étais tellement concentré sur ces particularités que je remarquai à peine le chemin que nous suivions. Nous arrivâmes bientôt à des arbres, tous calcinés et brunis, puis à un endroit dépouillé recouvert d'une surface jaune-blanche, traversée par une fumée âcre flottante, piquant le nez et les yeux, qui dérivait. Sur notre droite, par-dessus un replat de roche nue, je vis la surface bleue de la mer. Le sentier descendait brusquement dans un ravin étroit entre deux masses polies et noueuses de scories noirâtres. Nous y plongeâmes.

Ce passage était extrêmement sombre, après la lumière aveuglante du soleil reflétée par le sol sulfureux. Ses parois devinrent abruptes, et se rapprochèrent. Des taches vertes et rouges défilaient devant mes yeux. Mon guide s'arrêta soudainement. — Maison ! dit-il, et je me retrouvai au fond d'un gouffre dans lequel je n'y voyais absolument rien au début. J'entendis des bruits étranges et je pressai mon poing gauche fermement serré devant mes yeux. Je remarquai une odeur désagréable, comme celle d'une cage de singe mal nettoyée. Plus loin, la roche s'ouvrait à nouveau sur une pente douce de verdure ensoleillée et, de chaque côté, la lumière pénétrant à travers d'étroites voies trouait la pénombre intérieure.
unit 1
The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells.
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Chapter 11.
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THE HUNTING OF THE MAN.
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I was convinced now, absolutely assured, that Moreau had been vivisecting a human being.
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The memory of his work on the transfusion of blood recurred to me.
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These creatures I had seen were the victims of some hideous experiment.
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I looked round for some weapon.
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Nothing.
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He meant to lock the outer door!
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I raised this nailed stick of mine and cut at his face; but he sprang back.
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I hesitated a moment, then turned and fled round the corner of the house.
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Presently I became aware of a drowsy breathing sound, the soughing of the sea upon the beach.
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After about an hour I heard Montgomery shouting my name, far away to the north.
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That set me thinking of my plan of action.
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Some of these no doubt they could press into their service against me if need arose.
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I knew no way of getting anything to eat.
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It grew blanker the more I turned the prospect over.
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At last in the desperation of my position, my mind turned to the animal men I had encountered.
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I tried to find some hope in what I remembered of them.
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In turn I recalled each one I had seen, and tried to draw some augury of assistance from my memory.
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Then suddenly I heard a stag-hound bay, and at that realised a new danger.
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I remember a growth of thorny plants, with spines that stabbed like pen-knives.
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I emerged bleeding and with torn clothes upon the lip of a long creek opening northward.
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I heard the dog (there was only one) draw nearer, and yelp when it came to the thorns.
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Then I heard no more, and presently began to think I had escaped.
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By this time I was no longer very much terrified or very miserable.
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I had, as it were, passed the limit of terror and despair.
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I saw that it was the simian creature who had met the launch upon the beach.
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He was clinging to the oblique stem of a palm-tree.
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I gripped my stick, and stood up facing him.
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He began chattering.
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“You, you, you,” was all I could distinguish at first.
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“Yes,” I said, “I came in the boat.
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He seemed puzzled at something.
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His eyes came back to my hands.
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But guessing this was in some way a greeting, I did the same thing by way of reply.
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He grinned with immense satisfaction.
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Then his swift roving glance went round again; he made a swift movement—and vanished.
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The fern fronds he had stood between came swishing together.
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His back was to me.
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“Hullo!” said I.
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He came down with a twisting jump, and stood facing me.
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“I say,” said I, “where can I get something to eat?” “Eat!” he said.
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“Eat Man’s food, now.” And his eye went back to the swing of ropes.
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All his motions were curiously rapid.
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“Come along,” said he.
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I went with him to see the adventure out.
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I guessed the huts were some rough shelter where he and some more of these Beast People lived.
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I might perhaps find them friendly, find some handle in their minds to take hold of.
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I did not know how far they had forgotten their human heritage.
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I wondered what memory he might have in him.
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“How long have you been on this island?” said I.
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“How long?” he asked; and after having the question repeated, he held up three fingers.
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The creature was little better than an idiot.
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I tried to make out what he meant by that, and it seems I bored him.
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He pulled down a handful of prickly husks and went on eating the contents.
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I noted this with satisfaction, for here at least was a hint for feeding.
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Some few were appropriate, others quite parrot-like.
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I was so intent upon these peculiarities that I scarcely noticed the path we followed.
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On our right, over a shoulder of bare rock, I saw the level blue of the sea.
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Into this we plunged.
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Its walls grew steep, and approached each other.
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Blotches of green and crimson drifted across my eyes.
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My conductor stopped suddenly.
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“Home!” said he, and I stood in a floor of a chasm that was at first absolutely dark to me.
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I heard some strange noises, and thrust the knuckles of my left hand into my eyes.
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I became aware of a disagreeable odor, like that of a monkey’s cage ill-cleaned.
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"!"
tontonjl • 10958  translated  unit 11  3 months, 2 weeks ago

The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells.
Chapter 11.

THE HUNTING OF THE MAN.

It came before my mind with an unreasonable hope of escape that the outer door of my room was still open to me. I was convinced now, absolutely assured, that Moreau had been vivisecting a human being. All the time since I had heard his name, I had been trying to link in my mind in some way the grotesque animalism of the islanders with his abominations; and now I thought I saw it all. The memory of his work on the transfusion of blood recurred to me. These creatures I had seen were the victims of some hideous experiment. These sickening scoundrels had merely intended to keep me back, to fool me with their display of confidence, and presently to fall upon me with a fate more horrible than death,—with torture; and after torture the most hideous degradation it was possible to conceive,—to send me off a lost soul, a beast, to the rest of their Comus rout.

I looked round for some weapon. Nothing. Then with an inspiration I turned over the deck chair, put my foot on the side of it, and tore away the side rail. It happened that a nail came away with the wood, and projecting, gave a touch of danger to an otherwise petty weapon. I heard a step outside, and incontinently flung open the door and found Montgomery within a yard of it. He meant to lock the outer door! I raised this nailed stick of mine and cut at his face; but he sprang back. I hesitated a moment, then turned and fled round the corner of the house. “Prendick, man!” I heard his astonished cry, “don‘t be a silly ass, man!”

Another minute, thought I, and he would have had me locked in, and as ready as a hospital rabbit for my fate. He emerged behind the corner, for I heard him shout, “Prendick!” Then he began to run after me, shouting things as he ran. This time running blindly, I went northeastward in a direction at right angles to my previous expedition. Once, as I went running headlong up the beach, I glanced over my shoulder and saw his attendant with him. I ran furiously up the slope, over it, then turning eastward along a rocky valley fringed on either side with jungle. I ran for perhaps a mile altogether, my chest straining, my heart beating in my ears; and then hearing nothing of Montgomery or his man, and feeling upon the verge of exhaustion, I doubled sharply back towards the beach as I judged, and lay down in the shelter of a canebrake. There I remained for a long time, too fearful to move, and indeed too fearful even to plan a course of action. The wild scene about me lay sleeping silently under the sun, and the only sound near me was the thin hum of some small gnats that had discovered me. Presently I became aware of a drowsy breathing sound, the soughing of the sea upon the beach.

After about an hour I heard Montgomery shouting my name, far away to the north. That set me thinking of my plan of action. As I interpreted it then, this island was inhabited only by these two vivisectors and their animalised victims. Some of these no doubt they could press into their service against me if need arose. I knew both Moreau and Montmogery carried revolvers; and, save for a feeble bar of deal spiked with a small nail, the merest mockery of a mace, I was unarmed.

So I lay still there, until I began to think of food and drink; and at that thought the real hopelessness of my position came home to me. I knew no way of getting anything to eat. I was too ignorant of botany to discover any resort of root or fruit that might lie about me; I had no means of trapping the few rabbits upon the island. It grew blanker the more I turned the prospect over. At last in the desperation of my position, my mind turned to the animal men I had encountered. I tried to find some hope in what I remembered of them. In turn I recalled each one I had seen, and tried to draw some augury of assistance from my memory.

Then suddenly I heard a stag-hound bay, and at that realised a new danger. I took little time to think, or they would have caught me then, but snatching up my nailed stick, rushed headlong from my hiding-place towards the sound of the sea. I remember a growth of thorny plants, with spines that stabbed like pen-knives. I emerged bleeding and with torn clothes upon the lip of a long creek opening northward. I went straight into the water without a minute‘s hesitation, wading up the creek, and presently finding myself kneedeep in a little stream. I scrambled out at last on the westward bank, and with my heart beating loudly in my ears, crept into a tangle of ferns to await the issue. I heard the dog (there was only one) draw nearer, and yelp when it came to the thorns. Then I heard no more, and presently began to think I had escaped.

The minutes passed; the silence lengthened out, and at last after an hour of security my courage began to return to me. By this time I was no longer very much terrified or very miserable. I had, as it were, passed the limit of terror and despair. I felt now that my life was practically lost, and that persuasion made me capable of daring anything. I had even a certain wish to encounter Moreau face to face; and as I had waded into the water, I remembered that if I were too hard pressed at least one path of escape from torment still lay open to me,—they could not very well prevent my drowning myself. I had half a mind to drown myself then; but an odd wish to see the whole adventure out, a queer, impersonal, spectacular interest in myself, restrained me. I stretched my limbs, sore and painful from the pricks of the spiny plants, and stared around me at the trees; and, so suddenly that it seemed to jump out of the green tracery about it, my eyes lit upon a black face watching me. I saw that it was the simian creature who had met the launch upon the beach. He was clinging to the oblique stem of a palm-tree. I gripped my stick, and stood up facing him. He began chattering. “You, you, you,” was all I could distinguish at first. Suddenly he dropped from the tree, and in another moment was holding the fronds apart and staring curiously at me.

I did not feel the same repugnance towards this creature which I had experienced in my encounters with the other Beast Men. “You,” he said, “in the boat.” He was a man, then,—at least as much of a man as Montgomery’s attendant,—for he could talk.

“Yes,” I said, “I came in the boat. From the ship.”

“Oh!” he said, and his bright, restless eyes travelled over me, to my hands, to the stick I carried, to my feet, to the tattered places in my coat, and the cuts and scratches I had received from the thorns. He seemed puzzled at something. His eyes came back to my hands. He held his own hand out and counted his digits slowly, “One, two, three, four, five—eigh?”

I did not grasp his meaning then; afterwards I was to find that a great proportion of these Beast People had malformed hands, lacking sometimes even three digits. But guessing this was in some way a greeting, I did the same thing by way of reply. He grinned with immense satisfaction. Then his swift roving glance went round again; he made a swift movement—and vanished. The fern fronds he had stood between came swishing together.

I pushed out of the brake after him, and was astonished to find him swinging cheerfully by one lank arm from a rope of creeper that looped down from the foliage overhead. His back was to me.

“Hullo!” said I.

He came down with a twisting jump, and stood facing me.

“I say,” said I, “where can I get something to eat?”

“Eat!” he said. “Eat Man’s food, now.” And his eye went back to the swing of ropes. “At the huts.”

“But where are the huts?”

“Oh!”

“I’m new, you know.”

At that he swung round, and set off at a quick walk. All his motions were curiously rapid. “Come along,” said he.

I went with him to see the adventure out. I guessed the huts were some rough shelter where he and some more of these Beast People lived. I might perhaps find them friendly, find some handle in their minds to take hold of. I did not know how far they had forgotten their human heritage.

My ape-like companion trotted along by my side, with his hands hanging down and his jaw thrust forward. I wondered what memory he might have in him. “How long have you been on this island?” said I.

“How long?” he asked; and after having the question repeated, he held up three fingers.

The creature was little better than an idiot. I tried to make out what he meant by that, and it seems I bored him. After another question or two he suddenly left my side and went leaping at some fruit that hung from a tree. He pulled down a handful of prickly husks and went on eating the contents. I noted this with satisfaction, for here at least was a hint for feeding. I tried him with some other questions, but his chattering, prompt responses were as often as not quite at cross purposes with my question. Some few were appropriate, others quite parrot-like.

I was so intent upon these peculiarities that I scarcely noticed the path we followed. Presently we came to trees, all charred and brown, and so to a bare place covered with a yellow-white incrustation, across which a drifting smoke, pungent in whiffs to nose and eyes, went drifting. On our right, over a shoulder of bare rock, I saw the level blue of the sea. The path coiled down abruptly into a narrow ravine between two tumbled and knotty masses of blackish scoriæ. Into this we plunged.

It was extremely dark, this passage, after the blinding sunlight reflected from the sulphurous ground. Its walls grew steep, and approached each other. Blotches of green and crimson drifted across my eyes. My conductor stopped suddenly. “Home!” said he, and I stood in a floor of a chasm that was at first absolutely dark to me. I heard some strange noises, and thrust the knuckles of my left hand into my eyes. I became aware of a disagreeable odor, like that of a monkey’s cage ill-cleaned. Beyond, the rock opened again upon a gradual slope of sunlit greenery, and on either hand the light smote down through narrow ways into the central gloom.