The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H. G. Wells
Part 2 out of 3
after my conductor.
It was a semi-circular space, shaped like the half of a bee-hive;
and against the rocky wall that formed the inner side of it was a pile
of variegated fruits, cocoa-nuts among others. Some rough vessels
of lava and wood stood about the floor, and one on a rough stool.
There was no fire. In the darkest corner of the hut sat a shapeless
mass of darkness that grunted "Hey!" as I came in, and my Ape-man
stood in the dim light of the doorway and held out a split cocoa-nut
to me as I crawled into the other corner and squatted down.
I took it, and began gnawing it, as serenely as possible, in spite of a
certain trepidation and the nearly intolerable closeness of the den.
The little pink sloth-creature stood in the aperture of the hut,
and something else with a drab face and bright eyes came staring over
"Hey!" came out of the lump of mystery opposite. "It is a man."
"It is a man," gabbled my conductor, "a man, a man, a five-man,
"Shut up!" said the voice from the dark, and grunted.
I gnawed my cocoa-nut amid an impressive stillness.
I peered hard into the blackness, but could distinguish nothing.
"It is a man," the voice repeated. "He comes to live with us?"
It was a thick voice, with something in it--a kind of whistling overtone--
that struck me as peculiar; but the English accent was strangely good.
The Ape-man looked at me as though he expected something.
I perceived the pause was interrogative. "He comes to live with you,"
"It is a man. He must learn the Law."
I began to distinguish now a deeper blackness in the black,
a vague outline of a hunched-up figure. Then I noticed
the opening of the place was darkened by two more black heads.
My hand tightened on my stick.
The thing in the dark repeated in a louder tone, "Say the words."
I had missed its last remark. "Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law,"
it repeated in a kind of sing-song.
I was puzzled.
"Say the words," said the Ape-man, repeating, and the figures
in the doorway echoed this, with a threat in the tone of their voices.
I realised that I had to repeat this idiotic formula; and then
began the insanest ceremony. The voice in the dark began intoning
a mad litany, line by line, and I and the rest to repeat it.
As they did so, they swayed from side to side in the oddest way,
and beat their hands upon their knees; and I followed their example.
I could have imagined I was already dead and in another world.
That dark hut, these grotesque dim figures, just flecked here and
there by a glimmer of light, and all of them swaying in unison and
"Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
"Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
"Not to eat Fish or Flesh; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
"Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
"Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"
And so from the prohibition of these acts of folly,
on to the prohibition of what I thought then were the maddest,
most impossible, and most indecent things one could well imagine.
A kind of rhythmic fervour fell on all of us; we gabbled
and swayed faster and faster, repeating this amazing Law.
Superficially the contagion of these brutes was upon me, but deep
down within me the laughter and disgust struggled together.
We ran through a long list of prohibitions, and then the chant swung round
to a new formula.
"His is the House of Pain.
"His is the Hand that makes.
"His is the Hand that wounds.
"His is the Hand that heals."
And so on for another long series, mostly quite incomprehensible
gibberish to me about Him, whoever he might be. I could have fancied
it was a dream, but never before have I heard chanting in a dream.
"His is the lightning flash," we sang. "His is the deep, salt sea."
A horrible fancy came into my head that Moreau, after animalising
these men, had infected their dwarfed brains with a kind of
deification of himself. However, I was too keenly aware of white
teeth and strong claws about me to stop my chanting on that account.
"His are the stars in the sky."
At last that song ended. I saw the Ape-man's face shining
with perspiration; and my eyes being now accustomed to the darkness,
I saw more distinctly the figure in the corner from which the voice came.
It was the size of a man, but it seemed covered with a dull grey
hair almost like a Skye-terrier. What was it? What were they all?
Imagine yourself surrounded by all the most horrible cripples
and maniacs it is possible to conceive, and you may understand
a little of my feelings with these grotesque caricatures of humanity
"He is a five-man, a five-man, a five-man--like me," said the Ape-man.
I held out my hands. The grey creature in the corner leant forward.
"Not to run on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"
He put out a strangely distorted talon and gripped my fingers.
The thing was almost like the hoof of a deer produced into claws.
I could have yelled with surprise and pain. His face came
forward and peered at my nails, came forward into the light of
the opening of the hut and I saw with a quivering disgust that it
was like the face of neither man nor beast, but a mere shock
of grey hair, with three shadowy over-archings to mark the eyes
"He has little nails," said this grisly creature in his hairy beard.
"It is well."
He threw my hand down, and instinctively I gripped my stick.
"Eat roots and herbs; it is His will," said the Ape-man.
"I am the Sayer of the Law," said the grey figure. "Here come
all that be new to learn the Law. I sit in the darkness and say
"It is even so," said one of the beasts in the doorway.
"Evil are the punishments of those who break the Law.
"None escape," said the Beast Folk, glancing furtively at one another.
"None, none," said the Ape-man,--"none escape. See! I did a little thing,
a wrong thing, once. I jabbered, jabbered, stopped talking.
None could understand. I am burnt, branded in the hand. He is great.
He is good!"
"None escape," said the grey creature in the corner.
"None escape," said the Beast People, looking askance at one another.
"For every one the want that is bad," said the grey Sayer of the Law.
"What you will want we do not know; we shall know. Some want
to follow things that move, to watch and slink and wait and spring;
to kill and bite, bite deep and rich, sucking the blood.
It is bad. `Not to chase other Men; that is the Law.
Are we not Men? Not to eat Flesh or Fish; that is the Law. Are we
"None escape," said a dappled brute standing in the doorway.
"For every one the want is bad," said the grey Sayer of the Law.
"Some want to go tearing with teeth and hands into the roots of things,
snuffing into the earth. It is bad."
"None escape," said the men in the door.
"Some go clawing trees; some go scratching at the graves of the dead;
some go fighting with foreheads or feet or claws; some bite suddenly,
none giving occasion; some love uncleanness."
"None escape," said the Ape-man, scratching his calf.
"None escape," said the little pink sloth-creature.
"Punishment is sharp and sure. Therefore learn the Law.
Say the words."
And incontinently he began again the strange litany of the Law,
and again I and all these creatures began singing and swaying.
My head reeled with this jabbering and the close stench of the place;
but I kept on, trusting to find presently some chance of a
"Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?"
We were making such a noise that I noticed nothing of a tumult outside,
until some one, who I think was one of the two Swine Men I
had seen, thrust his head over the little pink sloth-creature
and shouted something excitedly, something that I did not catch.
Incontinently those at the opening of the hut vanished; my Ape-man
rushed out; the thing that had sat in the dark followed him
(I only observed that it was big and clumsy, and covered with silvery
hair), and I was left alone. Then before I reached the aperture I heard
the yelp of a staghound.
In another moment I was standing outside the hovel, my chair-rail
in my hand, every muscle of me quivering. Before me were the clumsy
backs of perhaps a score of these Beast People, their misshapen heads
half hidden by their shoulder-blades. They were gesticulating excitedly.
Other half-animal faces glared interrogation out of the hovels.
Looking in the direction in which they faced, I saw coming through
the haze under the trees beyond the end of the passage of dens the dark
figure and awful white face of Moreau. He was holding the leaping
staghound back, and close behind him came Montgomery revolver
For a moment I stood horror-struck. I turned and saw the passage
behind me blocked by another heavy brute, with a huge grey
face and twinkling little eyes, advancing towards me.
I looked round and saw to the right of me and a half-dozen yards
in front of me a narrow gap in the wall of rock through which a ray
of light slanted into the shadows.
"Stop!" cried Moreau as I strode towards this, and then, "Hold him!"
At that, first one face turned towards me and then others.
Their bestial minds were happily slow. I dashed my shoulder
into a clumsy monster who was turning to see what Moreau meant,
and flung him forward into another. I felt his hands fly round,
clutching at me and missing me. The little pink sloth-creature
dashed at me, and I gashed down its ugly face with the nail
in my stick and in another minute was scrambling up a steep
side pathway, a kind of sloping chimney, out of the ravine.
I heard a howl behind me, and cries of "Catch him!" "Hold him!"
and the grey-faced creature appeared behind me and jammed
his huge bulk into the cleft. "Go on! go on!" they howled.
I clambered up the narrow cleft in the rock and came out upon
the sulphur on the westward side of the village of the Beast Men.
That gap was altogether fortunate for me, for the narrow chimney,
slanting obliquely upward, must have impeded the nearer pursuers.
I ran over the white space and down a steep slope,
through a scattered growth of trees, and came to a low-lying
stretch of tall reeds, through which I pushed into a dark,
thick undergrowth that black and succulent under foot.
As I plunged into the reeds, my foremost pursuers emerged from the gap.
I broke my way through this undergrowth for some minutes.
The air behind me and about me was soon full of threatening cries.
I heard the tumult of my pursuers in the gap up the slope, then the
crashing of the reeds, and every now and then the crackling crash
of a branch. Some of the creatures roared like excited beasts of prey.
The staghound yelped to the left. I heard Moreau and Montgomery shouting
in the same direction. I turned sharply to the right. It seemed
to me even then that I heard Montgomery shouting for me to run for
Presently the ground gave rich and oozy under my feet; but I was
desperate and went headlong into it, struggled through kneedeep,
and so came to a winding path among tall canes. The noise of my
pursuers passed away to my left. In one place three strange, pink,
hopping animals, about the size of cats, bolted before my footsteps.
This pathway ran up hill, across another open space covered
with white incrustation, and plunged into a canebrake again.
Then suddenly it turned parallel with the edge of a steep-walled gap,
which came without warning, like the ha-ha of an English park,--
turned with an unexpected abruptness. I was still running with all
my might, and I never saw this drop until I was flying headlong through
I fell on my forearms and head, among thorns, and rose with a torn
ear and bleeding face. I had fallen into a precipitous ravine,
rocky and thorny, full of a hazy mist which drifted about me in wisps,
and with a narrow streamlet from which this mist came meandering
down the centre. I was astonished at this thin fog in the full
blaze of daylight; but I had no time to stand wondering then.
I turned to my right, down-stream, hoping to come to the sea
in that direction, and so have my way open to drown myself.
It was only later I found that I had dropped my nailed stick in
Presently the ravine grew narrower for a space, and carelessly
I stepped into the stream. I jumped out again pretty quickly,
for the water was almost boiling. I noticed too there was a thin
sulphurous scum drifting upon its coiling water. Almost immediately
came a turn in the ravine, and the indistinct blue horizon.
The nearer sea was flashing the sun from a myriad facets.
I saw my death before me; but I was hot and panting, with the warm
blood oozing out on my face and running pleasantly through my veins.
I felt more than a touch of exultation too, at having distanced
my pursuers. It was not in me then to go out and drown myself yet.
I stared back the way I had come.
I listened. Save for the hum of the gnats and the chirp of some small
insects that hopped among the thorns, the air was absolutely still.
Then came the yelp of a dog, very faint, and a chattering and gibbering,
the snap of a whip, and voices. They grew louder, then fainter again.
The noise receded up the stream and faded away. For a while the chase
was over; but I knew now how much hope of help for me lay in the
XIII. A PARLEY.
I TURNED again and went on down towards the sea. I found the hot stream
broadened out to a shallow, weedy sand, in which an abundance of crabs
and long-bodied, many-legged creatures started from my footfall.
I walked to the very edge of the salt water, and then I felt I was safe.
I turned and stared, arms akimbo, at the thick green behind me,
into which the steamy ravine cut like a smoking gash.
But, as I say, I was too full of excitement and (a true saying,
though those who have never known danger may doubt it) too desperate
Then it came into my head that there was one chance before me yet.
While Moreau and Montgomery and their bestial rabble chased me
through the island, might I not go round the beach until I came
to their enclosure,--make a flank march upon them, in fact,
and then with a rock lugged out of their loosely-built wall, perhaps,
smash in the lock of the smaller door and see what I could find
(knife, pistol, or what not) to fight them with when they returned?
It was at any rate something to try.
So I turned to the westward and walked along by the water's edge.
The setting sun flashed his blinding heat into my eyes.
The slight Pacific tide was running in with a gentle ripple.
Presently the shore fell away southward, and the sun came round
upon my right hand. Then suddenly, far in front of me, I saw
first one and then several figures emerging from the bushes,--
Moreau, with his grey staghound, then Montgomery, and two others.
At that I stopped.
They saw me, and began gesticulating and advancing. I stood watching
them approach. The two Beast Men came running forward to cut me
off from the undergrowth, inland. Montgomery came, running also,
but straight towards me. Moreau followed slower with the dog.
At last I roused myself from my inaction, and turning seaward walked
straight into the water. The water was very shallow at first.
I was thirty yards out before the waves reached to my waist.
Dimly I could see the intertidal creatures darting away from
"What are you doing, man?" cried Montgomery.
I turned, standing waist deep, and stared at them.
Montgomery stood panting at the margin of the water. His face
was bright-red with exertion, his long flaxen hair blown about
his head, and his dropping nether lip showed his irregular teeth.
Moreau was just coming up, his face pale and firm, and the dog at his
hand barked at me. Both men had heavy whips. Farther up the beach
stared the Beast Men.
"What am I doing? I am going to drown myself," said I.
Montgomery and Moreau looked at each other. "Why?" asked Moreau.
"Because that is better than being tortured by you."
"I told you so," said Montgomery, and Moreau said something
in a low tone.
"What makes you think I shall torture you?" asked Moreau.
"What I saw," I said. "And those--yonder."
"Hush!" said Moreau, and held up his hand.
"I will not," said I. "They were men: what are they now?
I at least will not be like them."
I looked past my interlocutors. Up the beach were M'ling, Montgomery's
attendant, and one of the white-swathed brutes from the boat.
Farther up, in the shadow of the trees, I saw my little Ape-man,
and behind him some other dim figures.
"Who are these creatures?" said I, pointing to them and raising
my voice more and more that it might reach them. "They were men,
men like yourselves, whom you have infected with some bestial taint,--
men whom you have enslaved, and whom you still fear.
"You who listen," I cried, pointing now to Moreau and shouting past
him to the Beast Men,--" You who listen! Do you not see these men
still fear you, go in dread of you? Why, then, do you fear them?
You are many--"
"For God's sake," cried Montgomery, "stop that, Prendick!"
"Prendick!" cried Moreau.
They both shouted together, as if to drown my voice; and behind
them lowered the staring faces of the Beast Men, wondering,
their deformed hands hanging down, their shoulders hunched up.
They seemed, as I fancied, to be trying to understand me, to remember,
I thought, something of their human past.
I went on shouting, I scarcely remember what,--that Moreau
and Montgomery could be killed, that they were not to be feared:
that was the burden of what I put into the heads of the Beast People.
I saw the green-eyed man in the dark rags, who had met me on
the evening of my arrival, come out from among the trees, and others
followed him, to hear me better. At last for want of breath
"Listen to me for a moment," said the steady voice of Moreau;
"and then say what you will."
"Well?" said I.
He coughed, thought, then shouted: "Latin, Prendick! bad Latin,
schoolboy Latin; but try and understand. Hi non sunt homines;
sunt animalia qui nos habemus--vivisected. A humanising process.
I will explain. Come ashore."
I laughed. "A pretty story," said I. "They talk, build houses.
They were men. It's likely I'll come ashore."
"The water just beyond where you stand is deep--and full of sharks."
"That's my way," said I. "Short and sharp. Presently."
"Wait a minute." He took something out of his pocket that flashed back
the sun, and dropped the object at his feet. "That's a loaded revolver,"
said he. "Montgomery here will do the same. Now we are going
up the beach until you are satisfied the distance is safe.
Then come and take the revolvers."
"Not I! You have a third between you."
"I want you to think over things, Prendick. In the first place,
I never asked you to come upon this island. If we vivisected men,
we should import men, not beasts. In the next, we had you
drugged last night, had we wanted to work you any mischief;
and in the next, now your first panic is over and you can think
a little, is Montgomery here quite up to the character you give him?
We have chased you for your good. Because this island is full
of inimical phenomena. Besides, why should we want to shoot you
when you have just offered to drown yourself?"
"Why did you set--your people onto me when I was in the hut?"
"We felt sure of catching you, and bringing you out of danger.
Afterwards we drew away from the scent, for your good."
I mused. It seemed just possible. Then I remembered something again.
"But I saw," said I, "in the enclosure--"
"That was the puma."
"Look here, Prendick," said Montgomery, "you're a silly ass!
Come out of the water and take these revolvers, and talk.
We can't do anything more than we could do now."
I will confess that then, and indeed always, I distrusted
and dreaded Moreau; but Montgomery was a man I felt I understood.
"Go up the beach," said I, after thinking, and added, "holding your
"Can't do that," said Montgomery, with an explanatory nod over
his shoulder. "Undignified."
"Go up to the trees, then," said I, "as you please."
"It's a damned silly ceremony," said Montgomery.
Both turned and faced the six or seven grotesque creatures,
who stood there in the sunlight, solid, casting shadows, moving,
and yet so incredibly unreal. Montgomery cracked his whip at them,
and forthwith they all turned and fled helter-skelter into the trees;
and when Montgomery and Moreau were at a distance I judged sufficient,
I waded ashore, and picked up and examined the revolvers.
To satisfy myself against the subtlest trickery, I discharged one at
a round lump of lava, and had the satisfaction of seeing the stone
pulverised and the beach splashed with lead. Still I hesitated for
"I'll take the risk," said I, at last; and with a revolver in each
hand I walked up the beach towards them.
"That's better," said Moreau, without affectation. "As it is, you have
wasted the best part of my day with your confounded imagination."
And with a touch of contempt which humiliated me, he and Montgomery
turned and went on in silence before me.
The knot of Beast Men, still wondering, stood back among the trees.
I passed them as serenely as possible. One started to follow me,
but retreated again when Montgomery cracked his whip. The rest
stood silent--watching. They may once have been animals; but I never
before saw an animal trying to think.
XIV. DOCTOR MOREAU EXPLAINS.
"AND now, Prendick, I will explain," said Doctor Moreau,
so soon as we had eaten and drunk. "I must confess that
you are the most dictatorial guest I ever entertained.
I warn you that this is the last I shall do to oblige you.
The next thing you threaten to commit suicide about, I shan't do,--
even at some personal inconvenience."
He sat in my deck chair, a cigar half consumed in his white,
dexterous-looking fingers. The light of the swinging lamp fell on his
white hair; he stared through the little window out at the starlight.
I sat as far away from him as possible, the table between us
and the revolvers to hand. Montgomery was not present.
I did not care to be with the two of them in such a little room.
"You admit that the vivisected human being, as you called it, is,
after all, only the puma?" said Moreau. He had made me visit
that horror in the inner room, to assure myself of its inhumanity.
"It is the puma," I said, "still alive, but so cut and mutilated
as I pray I may never see living flesh again. Of all vile--"
"Never mind that," said Moreau; "at least, spare me those
youthful horrors. Montgomery used to be just the same.
You admit that it is the puma. Now be quiet, while I reel off
my physiological lecture to you."
And forthwith, beginning in the tone of a man supremely bored,
but presently warming a little, he explained his work to me.
He was very simple and convincing. Now and then there was a touch
of sarcasm in his voice. Presently I found myself hot with shame at our
The creatures I had seen were not men, had never been men.
They were animals, humanised animals,--triumphs of vivisection.
"You forget all that a skilled vivisector can do with living things,"
said Moreau. "For my own part, I'm puzzled why the things
I have done here have not been done before. Small efforts,
of course, have been made,--amputation, tongue-cutting, excisions.
Of course you know a squint may be induced or cured by surgery?
Then in the case of excisions you have all kinds of secondary changes,
pigmentary disturbances, modifications of the passions, alterations in
the secretion of fatty tissue. I have no doubt you have heard of
"Of course," said I. "But these foul creatures of yours--"
"All in good time," said he, waving his hand at me; "I am only beginning.
Those are trivial cases of alteration. Surgery can do better things
than that. There is building up as well as breaking down and changing.
You have heard, perhaps, of a common surgical operation resorted to in
cases where the nose has been destroyed: a flap of skin is cut from
the forehead, turned down on the nose, and heals in the new position.
This is a kind of grafting in a new position of part of an animal
upon itself. Grafting of freshly obtained material from another
animal is also possible,--the case of teeth, for example.
The grafting of skin and bone is done to facilitate healing:
the surgeon places in the middle of the wound pieces of skin snipped
from another animal, or fragments of bone from a victim freshly killed.
Hunter's cock-spur--possibly you have heard of that--flourished on
the bull's neck; and the rhinoceros rats of the Algerian zouaves are
also to be thought of,--monsters manufactured by transferring a slip
from the tail of an ordinary rat to its snout, and allowing it to heal in
"Monsters manufactured!" said I. "Then you mean to tell me--"
"Yes. These creatures you have seen are animals carven and wrought
into new shapes. To that, to the study of the plasticity of
living forms, my life has been devoted. I have studied for years,
gaining in knowledge as I go. I see you look horrified, and yet I
am telling you nothing new. It all lay in the surface of practical
anatomy years ago, but no one had the temerity to touch it.
It is not simply the outward form of an animal which I can change.
The physiology, the chemical rhythm of the creature, may also be made
to undergo an enduring modification,--of which vaccination and other
methods of inoculation with living or dead matter are examples
that will, no doubt, be familiar to you. A similar operation is
the transfusion of blood,--with which subject, indeed, I began.
These are all familiar cases. Less so, and probably far more extensive,
were the operations of those mediaeval practitioners who made
dwarfs and beggar-cripples, show-monsters,--some vestiges of whose
art still remain in the preliminary manipulation of the young
mountebank or contortionist. Victor Hugo gives an account of them
in `L'Homme qui Rit.'--But perhaps my meaning grows plain now.
You begin to see that it is a possible thing to transplant tissue
from one part of an animal to another, or from one animal to another;
to alter its chemical reactions and methods of growth; to modify
the articulations of its limbs; and, indeed, to change it in its most
"And yet this extraordinary branch of knowledge has never been sought
as an end, and systematically, by modern investigators until I took it up!
Some of such things have been hit upon in the last resort of surgery;
most of the kindred evidence that will recur to your mind has been
demonstrated as it were by accident,--by tyrants, by criminals,
by the breeders of horses and dogs, by all kinds of untrained
clumsy-handed men working for their own immediate ends.
I was the first man to take up this question armed with antiseptic surgery,
and with a really scientific knowledge of the laws of growth.
Yet one would imagine it must have been practised in secret before.
Such creatures as the Siamese Twins--And in the vaults of
the Inquisition. No doubt their chief aim was artistic torture,
but some at least of the inquisitors must have had a touch of
"But," said I, "these things--these animals talk!"
He said that was so, and proceeded to point out that the possibility
of vivisection does not stop at a mere physical metamorphosis.
A pig may be educated. The mental structure is even less determinate
than the bodily. In our growing science of hypnotism we find
the promise of a possibility of superseding old inherent instincts by
new suggestions, grafting upon or replacing the inherited fixed ideas.
Very much indeed of what we call moral education, he said,
is such an artificial modification and perversion of instinct;
pugnacity is trained into courageous self-sacrifice, and suppressed
sexuality into religious emotion. And the great difference
between man and monkey is in the larynx, he continued,--
in the incapacity to frame delicately different sound-symbols by which
thought could be sustained. In this I failed to agree with him,
but with a certain incivility he declined to notice my objection.
He repeated that the thing was so, and continued his account of
I asked him why he had taken the human form as a model.
There seemed to me then, and there still seems to me now, a strange
wickedness for that choice.
He confessed that he had chosen that form by chance. "I might just
as well have worked to form sheep into llamas and llamas into sheep.
I suppose there is something in the human form that appeals
to the artistic turn more powerfully than any animal shape can.
But I've not confined myself to man-making. Once or twice--" He was silent,
for a minute perhaps. "These years! How they have slipped by!
And here I have wasted a day saving your life, and am now wasting an hour
"But," said I, "I still do not understand. Where is your justification
for inflicting all this pain? The only thing that could excuse
vivisection to me would be some application--"
"Precisely," said he. "But, you see, I am differently constituted.
We are on different platforms. You are a materialist."
"I am not a materialist," I began hotly.
"In my view--in my view. For it is just this question of pain
that parts us. So long as visible or audible pain turns you sick;
so long as your own pains drive you; so long as pain underlies
your propositions about sin,--so long, I tell you, you are
an animal, thinking a little less obscurely what an animal feels.
I gave an impatient shrug at such sophistry.
"Oh, but it is such a little thing! A mind truly opened to
what science has to teach must see that it is a little thing.
It may be that save in this little planet, this speck of cosmic dust,
invisible long before the nearest star could be attained--it may be,
I say, that nowhere else does this thing called pain occur.
But the laws we feel our way towards--Why, even on this earth, even among
living things, what pain is there?"
As he spoke he drew a little penknife from his pocket, opened the
smaller blade, and moved his chair so that I could see his thigh.
Then, choosing the place deliberately, he drove the blade into
his leg and withdrew it.
"No doubt," he said, "you have seen that before. It does not hurt
a pin-prick. But what does it show? The capacity for pain is not
needed in the muscle, and it is not placed there,--is but little
needed in the skin, and only here and there over the thigh is
a spot capable of feeling pain. Pain is simply our intrinsic
medical adviser to warn us and stimulate us. Not all living
flesh is painful; nor is all nerve, not even all sensory nerve.
There's no tint of pain, real pain, in the sensations of the optic nerve.
If you wound the optic nerve, you merely see flashes of light,--
just as disease of the auditory nerve merely means a humming
in our ears. Plants do not feel pain, nor the lower animals;
it's possible that such animals as the starfish and crayfish do not
feel pain at all. Then with men, the more intelligent they become,
the more intelligently they will see after their own welfare,
and the less they will need the goad to keep them out of danger.
I never yet heard of a useless thing that was not ground out
of existence by evolution sooner or later. Did you? And pain
"Then I am a religious man, Prendick, as every sane man must be.
It may be, I fancy, that I have seen more of the ways of this world's
Maker than you,--for I have sought his laws, in my way, all my life,
while you, I understand, have been collecting butterflies.
And I tell you, pleasure and pain have nothing to do with heaven or hell.
Pleasure and pain--bah! What is your theologian's ecstasy but
Mahomet's houri in the dark? This store which men and women set
on pleasure and pain, Prendick, is the mark of the beast upon them,--
the mark of the beast from which they came! Pain, pain and pleasure,
they are for us only so long as we wriggle in the dust.
"You see, I went on with this research just the way it led me.
That is the only way I ever heard of true research going.
I asked a question, devised some method of obtaining an answer,
and got a fresh question. Was this possible or that possible?
You cannot imagine what this means to an investigator,
what an intellectual passion grows upon him! You cannot imagine
the strange, colourless delight of these intellectual desires!
The thing before you is no longer an animal, a fellow-creature,
but a problem! Sympathetic pain,--all I know of it I remember
as a thing I used to suffer from years ago. I wanted--it was
the one thing I wanted--to find out the extreme limit of plasticity
in a living shape."
"But," said I, "the thing is an abomination--"
"To this day I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter,"
he continued. "The study of Nature makes a man at last as remorse-less
as Nature. I have gone on, not heeding anything but the question I
was pursuing; and the material has--dripped into the huts yonder.
It is really eleven years since we came here, I and Montgomery
and six Kanakas. I remember the green stillness of the island
and the empty ocean about us, as though it was yesterday.
The place seemed waiting for me.
"The stores were landed and the house was built. The Kanakas founded
some huts near the ravine. I went to work here upon what I had brought
with me. There were some disagreeable things happened at first.
I began with a sheep, and killed it after a day and a half by a slip
of the scalpel. I took another sheep, and made a thing of pain and fear
and left it bound up to heal. It looked quite human to me when I
had finished it; but when I went to it I was discontented with it.
It remembered me, and was terrified beyond imagination; and it had no
more than the wits of a sheep. The more I looked at it the clumsier
it seemed, until at last I put the monster out of its misery.
These animals without courage, these fear-haunted, pain-driven things,
without a spark of pugnacious energy to face torment,--they are no good for
"Then I took a gorilla I had; and upon that, working with infinite
care and mastering difficulty after difficulty, I made my first man.
All the week, night and day, I moulded him. With him it was chiefly
the brain that needed moulding; much had to be added, much changed.
I thought him a fair specimen of the negroid type when I had
finished him, and he lay bandaged, bound, and motionless before me.
It was only when his life was assured that I left him and came
into this room again, and found Montgomery much as you are.
He had heard some of the cries as the thing grew human,--
cries like those that disturbed you so. I didn't take him
completely into my confidence at first. And the Kanakas too,
had realised something of it. They were scared out of their wits
by the sight of me. I got Montgomery over to me--in a way;
but I and he had the hardest job to prevent the Kanakas deserting.
Finally they did; and so we lost the yacht. I spent many days
educating the brute,--altogether I had him for three or four months.
I taught him the rudiments of English; gave him ideas of counting;
even made the thing read the alphabet. But at that he was slow,
though I've met with idiots slower. He began with a clean sheet,
mentally; had no memories left in his mind of what he had been.
When his scars were quite healed, and he was no longer anything
but painful and stiff, and able to converse a little, I took
him yonder and introduced him to the Kanakas as an interesting
"They were horribly afraid of him at first, somehow,--which offended
me rather, for I was conceited about him; but his ways seemed so mild,
and he was so abject, that after a time they received him and took his
education in hand. He was quick to learn, very imitative and adaptive,
and built himself a hovel rather better, it seemed to me, than their
own shanties. There was one among the boys a bit of a missionary,
and he taught the thing to read, or at least to pick out letters,
and gave him some rudimentary ideas of morality; but it seems
the beast's habits were not all that is desirable.
"I rested from work for some days after this, and was in a mind to
write an account of the whole affair to wake up English physiology.
Then I came upon the creature squatting up in a tree and gibbering
at two of the Kanakas who had been teasing him. I threatened him,
told him the inhumanity of such a proceeding, aroused his sense of shame,
and came home resolved to do better before I took my work back to England.
I have been doing better. But somehow the things drift back again:
the stubborn beast-flesh grows day by day back again.
But I mean to do better things still. I mean to conquer that.
"But that's the story. All the Kanaka boys are dead now;
one fell overboard of the launch, and one died of a wounded
heel that he poisoned in some way with plant-juice. Three
went away in the yacht, and I suppose and hope were drowned.
The other one--was killed. Well, I have replaced them.
Montgomery went on much as you are disposed to do at first,
"What became of the other one?" said I, sharply,--"the other Kanaka
who was killed?"
"The fact is, after I had made a number of human creatures I made
a Thing." He hesitated.
"Yes," said I.
"It was killed." "I don't understand," said I; "do you mean to say--"
"It killed the Kanakas--yes. It killed several other things that
it caught. We chased it for a couple of days. It only got loose
by accident--I never meant it to get away. It wasn't finished.
It was purely an experiment. It was a limbless thing, with a
horrible face, that writhed along the ground in a serpentine fashion.
It was immensely strong, and in infuriating pain. It lurked in
the woods for some days, until we hunted it; and then it wriggled
into the northern part of the island, and we divided the party
to close in upon it. Montgomery insisted upon coming with me.
The man had a rifle; and when his body was found, one of the barrels
was curved into the shape of an S and very nearly bitten through.
Montgomery shot the thing. After that I stuck to the ideal of humanity--
except for little things."
He became silent. I sat in silence watching his face.
"So for twenty years altogether--counting nine years in England--
I have been going on; and there is still something in everything I do
that defeats me, makes me dissatisfied, challenges me to further effort.
Sometimes I rise above my level, sometimes I fall below it; but always
I fall short of the things I dream. The human shape I can get now,
almost with ease, so that it is lithe and graceful, or thick and strong;
but often there is trouble with the hands and the claws,--painful things,
that I dare not shape too freely. But it is in the subtle grafting
and reshaping one must needs do to the brain that my trouble lies.
The intelligence is often oddly low, with unaccountable blank ends,
unexpected gaps. And least satisfactory of all is something that I
cannot touch, somewhere--I cannot determine where--in the seat
of the emotions. Cravings, instincts, desires that harm humanity,
a strange hidden reservoir to burst forth suddenly and inundate
the whole being of the creature with anger, hate, or fear.
These creatures of mine seemed strange and uncanny to you so soon
as you began to observe them; but to me, just after I make them,
they seem to be indisputably human beings. It's afterwards, as I
observe them, that the persuasion fades. First one animal trait,
then another, creeps to the surface and stares out at me.
But I will conquer yet! Each time I dip a living creature into the bath
of burning pain, I say, `This time I will burn out all the animal;
this time I will make a rational creature of my own!' After all,
what is ten years? Men have been a hundred thousand in the making."
He thought darkly. "But I am drawing near the fastness.
This puma of mine--" After a silence, "And they revert.
As soon as my hand is taken from them the beast begins
to creep back, begins to assert itself again." Another long
"Then you take the things you make into those dens?" said I.
"They go. I turn them out when I begin to feel the beast in them,
and presently they wander there. They all dread this house and me.
There is a kind of travesty of humanity over there. Montgomery knows
about it, for he interferes in their affairs. He has trained one
or two of them to our service. He's ashamed of it, but I believe
he half likes some of those beasts. It's his business, not mine.
They only sicken me with a sense of failure. I take no interest in them.
I fancy they follow in the lines the Kanaka missionary marked out,
and have a kind of mockery of a rational life, poor beasts!
There's something they call the Law. Sing hymns about `all thine.'
They build themselves their dens, gather fruit, and pull herbs--
marry even. But I can see through it all, see into their very souls,
and see there nothing but the souls of beasts, beasts that perish,
anger and the lusts to live and gratify themselves.--Yet they're odd;
complex, like everything else alive. There is a kind of upward
striving in them, part vanity, part waste sexual emotion,
part waste curiosity. It only mocks me. I have some hope of this puma.
I have worked hard at her head and brain--"And now," said he,
standing up after a long gap of silence, during which we had each
pursued our own thoughts, "what do you think? Are you in fear of me
I looked at him, and saw but a white-faced, white-haired man,
with calm eyes. Save for his serenity, the touch almost of beauty that
resulted from his set tranquillity and his magnificent build, he might
have passed muster among a hundred other comfortable old gentlemen.
Then I shivered. By way of answer to his second question, I handed
him a revolver with either hand.
"Keep them," he said, and snatched at a yawn. He stood up, stared at
me for a moment, and smiled. "You have had two eventful days,"
said he. "I should advise some sleep. I'm glad it's all clear.
Good-night." He thought me over for a moment, then went out by
the inner door.
I immediately turned the key in the outer one. I sat down again;
sat for a time in a kind of stagnant mood, so weary, emotionally,
mentally, and physically, that I could not think beyond the point
at which he had left me. The black window stared at me like an eye.
At last with an effort I put out the light and got into the hammock.
Very soon I was asleep.
XV. CONCERNING THE BEAST FOLK.
I WOKE early. Moreau's explanation stood before my mind,
clear and definite, from the moment of my awakening. I got out
of the hammock and went to the door to assure myself that the key
was turned. Then I tried the window-bar, and found it firmly fixed.
That these man-like creatures were in truth only bestial monsters,
mere grotesque travesties of men, filled me with a vague uncertainty
of their possibilities which was far worse than any definite fear.
A tapping came at the door, and I heard the glutinous accents
of M'ling speaking. I pocketed one of the revolvers (keeping one
hand upon it), and opened to him.
"Good-morning, sair," he said, bringing in, in addition to the customary
herb-breakfast, an ill-cooked rabbit. Montgomery followed him.
His roving eye caught the position of my arm and he smiled askew.
The puma was resting to heal that day; but Moreau, who was singularly
solitary in his habits, did not join us. I talked with Montgomery
to clear my ideas of the way in which the Beast Folk lived.
In particular, I was urgent to know how these inhuman monsters were kept
from falling upon Moreau and Montgomery and from rending one another.
He explained to me that the comparative safety of Moreau and
himself was due to the limited mental scope of these monsters.
In spite of their increased intelligence and the tendency of their
animal instincts to reawaken, they had certain fixed ideas implanted
by Moreau in their minds, which absolutely bounded their imaginations.
They were really hypnotised; had been told that certain things
were impossible, and that certain things were not to be done,
and these prohibitions were woven into the texture of their minds beyond
any possibility of disobedience or dispute.
Certain matters, however, in which old instinct was at war
with Moreau's convenience, were in a less stable condition.
A series of propositions called the Law (I bad already heard them recited)
battled in their minds with the deep-seated, ever-rebellious cravings
of their animal natures. This Law they were ever repeating,
I found, and ever breaking. Both Montgomery and Moreau displayed
particular solicitude to keep them ignorant of the taste of blood;
they feared the inevitable suggestions of that flavour.
Montgomery told me that the Law, especially among the feline Beast People,
became oddly weakened about nightfall; that then the animal was at
its strongest; that a spirit of adventure sprang up in them at the dusk,
when they would dare things they never seemed to dream about by day.
To that I owed my stalking by the Leopard-man, on the night of my arrival.
But during these earlier days of my stay they broke the Law only
furtively and after dark; in the daylight there was a general
atmosphere of respect for its multifarious prohibitions.
And here perhaps I may give a few general facts about the island
and the Beast People. The island, which was of irregular outline
and lay low upon the wide sea, had a total area, I suppose,
of seven or eight square miles.<2> It was volcanic in origin,
and was now fringed on three sides by coral reefs; some fumaroles
to the northward, and a hot spring, were the only vestiges of
the forces that had long since originated it. Now and then a faint
quiver of earthquake would be sensible, and sometimes the ascent
of the spire of smoke would be rendered tumultuous by gusts of steam;
but that was all. The population of the island, Montgomery informed me,
now numbered rather more than sixty of these strange creations
of Moreau's art, not counting the smaller monstrosities
which lived in the undergrowth and were without human form.
Altogether he had made nearly a hundred and twenty; but many had died,
and others--like the writhing Footless Thing of which he had told me--
had come by violent ends. In answer to my question, Montgomery said
that they actually bore offspring, but that these generally died.
When they lived, Moreau took them and stamped the human form upon them.
There was no evidence of the inheritance of their acquired
human characteristics. The females were less numerous than the males,
and liable to much furtive persecution in spite of the monogamy the
<2> This description corresponds in every respect to Noble's Isle.
-- C. E. P.
It would be impossible for me to describe these Beast People in detail;
my eye has had no training in details, and unhappily I cannot sketch.
Most striking, perhaps, in their general appearance was the
disproportion between the legs of these creatures and the length
of their bodies; and yet--so relative is our idea of grace--
my eye became habituated to their forms, and at last I even fell
in with their persuasion that my own long thighs were ungainly.
Another point was the forward carriage of the head and the clumsy
and inhuman curvature of the spine. Even the Ape-man lacked
that inward sinuous curve of the back which makes the human
figure so graceful. Most had their shoulders hunched clumsily,
and their short forearms hung weakly at their sides. Few of them
were conspicuously hairy, at least until the end of my time upon
The next most obvious deformity was in their faces,
almost all of which were prognathous, malformed about the ears,
with large and protuberant noses, very furry or very bristly hair,
and often strangely-coloured or strangely-placed eyes.
None could laugh, though the Ape-man had a chattering titter.
Beyond these general characters their heads had little in common;
each preserved the quality of its particular species:
the human mark distorted but did not hide the leopard, the ox,
or the sow, or other animal or animals, from which the creature
had been moulded. The voices, too, varied exceedingly.
The hands were always malformed; and though some surprised me by their
unexpected human appearance, almost all were deficient in the number
of the digits, clumsy about the finger-nails, and lacking any
The two most formidable Animal Men were my Leopard-man and a creature
made of hyena and swine. Larger than these were the three bull-creatures
who pulled in the boat. Then came the silvery-hairy-man, who was also
the Sayer of the Law, M'ling, and a satyr-like creature of ape and goat.
There were three Swine-men and a Swine-woman, a mare-rhinoceros-creature,
and several other females whose sources I did not ascertain.
There were several wolf-creatures, a bear-bull, and a Saint-Bernard-man. I
have already described the Ape-man, and there was a particularly hateful
(and evil-smelling) old woman made of vixen and bear, whom I hated
from the beginning. She was said to be a passionate votary of the Law.
Smaller creatures were certain dappled youths and my little
sloth-creature. But enough of this catalogue.
At first I had a shivering horror of the brutes, felt all too keenly
that they were still brutes; but insensibly I became a little
habituated to the idea of them, and moreover I was affected by
Montgomery's attitude towards them. He had been with them so long
that he had come to regard them as almost normal human beings.
His London days seemed a glorious, impossible past to him.
Only once in a year or so did he go to Arica to deal with
Moreau's agent, a trader in animals there. He hardly met the finest
type of mankind in that seafaring village of Spanish mongrels.
The men aboard-ship, he told me, seemed at first just as strange
to him as the Beast Men seemed to me,--unnaturally long in the leg,
flat in the face, prominent in the forehead, suspicious, dangerous,
and cold-hearted. In fact, he did not like men: his heart
had warmed to me, he thought, because he had saved my life.
I fancied even then that he had a sneaking kindness for some of these
metamorphosed brutes, a vicious sympathy with some of their ways,
but that he attempted to veil it from me at first.
M'ling, the black-faced man, Montgomery's attendant, the first of
the Beast Folk I had encountered, did not live with the others across
the island, but in a small kennel at the back of the enclosure.
The creature was scarcely so intelligent as the Ape-man, but far
more docile, and the most human-looking of all the Beast Folk;
and Montgomery had trained it to prepare food, and indeed to
discharge all the trivial domestic offices that were required.
It was a complex trophy of Moreau's horrible skill,--a bear, tainted with
dog and ox, and one of the most elaborately made of all his creatures.
It treated Montgomery with a strange tenderness and devotion.
Sometimes he would notice it, pat it, call it half-mocking, half-jocular
names, and so make it caper with extraordinary delight; sometimes he
would ill-treat it, especially after he had been at the whiskey,
kicking it, beating it, pelting it with stones or lighted fusees.
But whether he treated it well or ill, it loved nothing so much as to be
I say I became habituated to the Beast People, that a thousand
things which had seemed unnatural and repulsive speedily became
natural and ordinary to me. I suppose everything in existence
takes its colour from the average hue of our surroundings.
Montgomery and Moreau were too peculiar and individual
to keep my general impressions of humanity well defined.
I would see one of the clumsy bovine-creatures who worked the launch
treading heavily through the undergrowth, and find myself asking,
trying hard to recall, how he differed from some really human
yokel trudging home from his mechanical labours; or I would meet
the Fox-bear woman's vulpine, shifty face, strangely human in its
speculative cunning, and even imagine I had met it before in some
Yet every now and then the beast would flash out upon me beyond
doubt or denial. An ugly-looking man, a hunch-backed human savage
to all appearance, squatting in the aperture of one of the dens,
would stretch his arms and yawn, showing with startling suddenness
scissor-edged incisors and sabre-like canines, keen and brilliant
as knives. Or in some narrow pathway, glancing with a transitory
daring into the eyes of some lithe, white-swathed female figure,
I would suddenly see (with a spasmodic revulsion) that she had
slit-like pupils, or glancing down note the curving nail with which she
held her shapeless wrap about her. It is a curious thing, by the bye,
for which I am quite unable to account, that these weird creatures--
the females, I mean--had in the earlier days of my stay an
instinctive sense of their own repulsive clumsiness, and displayed
in consequence a more than human regard for the decency and decorum
of extensive costume.
XVI. HOW THE BEAST FOLK TASTE BLOOD.
MY inexperience as a writer betrays me, and I wander from the thread
of my story.
After I had breakfasted with Montgomery, he took me across
the island to see the fumarole and the source of the hot spring
into whose scalding waters I had blundered on the previous day.
Both of us carried whips and loaded revolvers. While going through
a leafy jungle on our road thither, we heard a rabbit squealing.
We stopped and listened, but we heard no more; and presently we
went on our way, and the incident dropped out of our minds.
Montgomery called my attention to certain little pink animals
with long hind-legs, that went leaping through the undergrowth.
He told me they were creatures made of the offspring of the Beast People,
that Moreau had invented. He had fancied they might serve for meat,
but a rabbit-like habit of devouring their young had defeated
this intention. I had already encountered some of these creatures,--
once during my moonlight flight from the Leopard-man,
and once during my pursuit by Moreau on the previous day.
By chance, one hopping to avoid us leapt into the hole caused
by the uprooting of a wind-blown tree; before it could extricate
itself we managed to catch it. It spat like a cat, scratched and
kicked vigorously with its hind-legs, and made an attempt to bite;
but its teeth were too feeble to inflict more than a painless pinch.
It seemed to me rather a pretty little creature; and as Montgomery stated
that it never destroyed the turf by burrowing, and was very cleanly
in its habits, I should imagine it might prove a convenient substitute
for the common rabbit in gentlemen's parks.
We also saw on our way the trunk of a tree barked in long strips
and splintered deeply. Montgomery called my attention to this.
"Not to claw bark of trees, that is the Law," he said.
"Much some of them care for it!" It was after this, I think, that we
met the Satyr and the Ape-man. The Satyr was a gleam of classical memory
on the part of Moreau,--his face ovine in expression, like the coarser
Hebrew type; his voice a harsh bleat, his nether extremities Satanic.
He was gnawing the husk of a pod-like fruit as he passed us.
Both of them saluted Montgomery.
"Hail," said they, "to the Other with the Whip!"
"There's a Third with a Whip now," said Montgomery. "So you'd
"Was he not made?" said the Ape-man. "He said--he said he was made."
The Satyr-man looked curiously at me. "The Third with the Whip,
he that walks weeping into the sea, has a thin white face."
"He has a thin long whip," said Montgomery.
"Yesterday he bled and wept," said the Satyr. "You never bleed nor weep.
The Master does not bleed or weep."
"Ollendorffian beggar!" said Montgomery, "you'll bleed and weep
if you don't look out!"
"He has five fingers, he is a five-man like me," said the Ape-man.
"Come along, Prendick," said Montgomery, taking my arm; and I went
on with him.
The Satyr and the Ape-man stood watching us and making other remarks
to each other.
"He says nothing," said the Satyr. "Men have voices."
"Yesterday he asked me of things to eat," said the Ape-man. "He
did not know."
Then they spoke inaudible things, and I heard the Satyr laughing.
It was on our way back that we came upon the dead rabbit.
The red body of the wretched little beast was rent to pieces, many of
the ribs stripped white, and the backbone indisputably gnawed.
At that Montgomery stopped. "Good God!" said he, stooping down,
and picking up some of the crushed vertebrae to examine them more closely.
"Good God!" he repeated, "what can this mean?"
"Some carnivore of yours has remembered its old habits,"
I said after a pause. "This backbone has been bitten through."
He stood staring, with his face white and his lip pulled askew.
"I don't like this," he said slowly.
"I saw something of the same kind," said I, "the first day I came here."
"The devil you did! What was it?"
"A rabbit with its head twisted off."
"The day you came here?"
"The day I came here. In the undergrowth at the back of the enclosure,
when I went out in the evening. The head was completely wrung off."
He gave a long, low whistle.
"And what is more, I have an idea which of your brutes did the thing.
It's only a suspicion, you know. Before I came on the rabbit I saw one
of your monsters drinking in the stream."
"Sucking his drink?"
"'Not to suck your drink; that is the Law.' Much the brutes care
for the Law, eh? when Moreau's not about!"
"It was the brute who chased me."
"Of course," said Montgomery; "it's just the way with carnivores.
After a kill, they drink. It's the taste of blood, you know.--
What was the brute like?" he continued. "Would you know him again?"
He glanced about us, standing astride over the mess of dead rabbit,
his eyes roving among the shadows and screens of greenery,
the lurking-places and ambuscades of the forest that bounded us in.
"The taste of blood," he said again.
He took out his revolver, examined the cartridges in it and replaced it.
Then he began to pull at his dropping lip.
"I think I should know the brute again," I said. "I stunned him.
He ought to have a handsome bruise on the forehead of him."
"But then we have to prove that he killed the rabbit," said Montgomery.
"I wish I'd never brought the things here."
I should have gone on, but he stayed there thinking over the mangled
rabbit in a puzzle-headed way. As it was, I went to such a distance
that the rabbit's remains were hidden.
"Come on!" I said.
Presently he woke up and came towards me. "You see," he said,
almost in a whisper, "they are all supposed to have a fixed idea
against eating anything that runs on land. If some brute has
by any accident tasted blood He went on some way in silence.
"I wonder what can have happened," he said to himself.
Then, after a pause again: "I did a foolish thing the other day.
That servant of mine--I showed him how to skin and cook a rabbit.
It's odd--I saw him licking his hands--It never occurred
to me." Then: "We must put a stop to this. I must tell Moreau."
He could think of nothing else on our homeward journey.
Moreau took the matter even more seriously than Montgomery, and I
need scarcely say that I was affected by their evident consternation.
"We must make an example," said Moreau. "I've no doubt in my own
mind that the Leopard-man was the sinner. But how can we prove it?
I wish, Montgomery, you had kept your taste for meat in hand, and gone
without these exciting novelties. We may find ourselves in a mess yet,
"I was a silly ass," said Montgomery. "But the thing's done now;
and you said I might have them, you know."
"We must see to the thing at once," said Moreau. "I suppose
if anything should turn up, M'ling can take care of himself?"
"I'm not so sure of M'ling," said Montgomery. "I think I ought
to know him."
In the afternoon, Moreau, Montgomery, myself, and M'ling went
across the island to the huts in the ravine. We three were armed;
M'ling carried the little hatchet he used in chopping firewood,
and some coils of wire. Moreau had a huge cowherd's horn slung over
"You will see a gathering of the Beast People," said Montgomery.
"It is a pretty sight!"
Moreau said not a word on the way, but the expression of his heavy,
white-fringed face was grimly set.
We crossed the ravine down which smoked the stream of hot water,
and followed the winding pathway through the canebrakes
until we reached a wide area covered over with a thick,
powdery yellow substance which I believe was sulphur.
Above the shoulder of a weedy bank the sea glittered. We came to a kind
of shallow natural amphitheatre, and here the four of us halted.
Then Moreau sounded the horn, and broke the sleeping stillness
of the tropical afternoon. He must have had strong lungs.
The hooting note rose and rose amidst its echoes, to at last an
"Ah!" said Moreau, letting the curved instrument fall to his side again.
Immediately there was a crashing through the yellow canes,
and a sound of voices from the dense green jungle that marked
the morass through which I had run on the previous day.
Then at three or four points on the edge of the sulphurous area
appeared the grotesque forms of the Beast People hurrying towards us.
I could not help a creeping horror, as I perceived first one and then
another trot out from the trees or reeds and come shambling along
over the hot dust. But Moreau and Montgomery stood calmly enough;
and, perforce, I stuck beside them.
First to arrive was the Satyr, strangely unreal for all that he cast
a shadow and tossed the dust with his hoofs. After him from
the brake came a monstrous lout, a thing of horse and rhinoceros,
chewing a straw as it came; then appeared the Swine-woman
and two Wolf-women; then the Fox-bear witch, with her red eyes
in her peaked red face, and then others,--all hurrying eagerly.
As they came forward they began to cringe towards Moreau and chant,
quite regardless of one another, fragments of the latter half
of the litany of the Law,--"His is the Hand that wounds;
His is the Hand that heals," and so forth. As soon as they had
approached within a distance of perhaps thirty yards they halted,
and bowing on knees and elbows began flinging the white dust upon
Imagine the scene if you can! We three blue-clad men, with our
misshapen black-faced attendant, standing in a wide expanse
of sunlit yellow dust under the blazing blue sky, and surrounded
by this circle of crouching and gesticulating monstrosities,--
some almost human save in their subtle expression and gestures,
some like cripples, some so strangely distorted as to resemble nothing
but the denizens of our wildest dreams; and, beyond, the reedy
lines of a canebrake in one direction, a dense tangle of palm-trees
on the other, separating us from the ravine with the huts,
and to the north the hazy horizon of the Pacific Ocean.
"Sixty-two, sixty-three," counted Moreau. "There are four more."
"I do not see the Leopard-man," said I.
Presently Moreau sounded the great horn again, and at the sound
of it all the Beast People writhed and grovelled in the dust.
Then, slinking out of the canebrake, stooping near the ground
and trying to join the dust-throwing circle behind Moreau's back,
came the Leopard-man. The last of the Beast People to arrive was the little
Ape-man. The earlier animals, hot and weary with their grovelling,
shot vicious glances at him.
"Cease!" said Moreau, in his firm, loud voice; and the Beast People
sat back upon their hams and rested from their worshipping.
"Where is the Sayer of the Law?" said Moreau, and the hairy-grey
monster bowed his face in the dust.
"Say the words!" said Moreau.
Forthwith all in the kneeling assembly, swaying from side to side
and dashing up the sulphur with their hands,--first the right hand
and a puff of dust, and then the left,--began once more to chant
their strange litany. When they reached, "Not to eat Flesh or Fowl,
that is the Law," Moreau held up his lank white hand.
"Stop!" he cried, and there fell absolute silence upon them all.
I think they all knew and dreaded what was coming.
I looked round at their strange faces. When I saw their wincing
attitudes and the furtive dread in their bright eyes, I wondered
that I had ever believed them to be men.
"That Law has been broken!" said Moreau.
"None escape," from the faceless creature with the silvery hair.
"None escape," repeated the kneeling circle of Beast People.
"Who is he?" cried Moreau, and looked round at their faces,
cracking his whip. I fancied the Hyena-swine looked dejected,
so too did the Leopard-man. Moreau stopped, facing this creature,
who cringed towards him with the memory and dread of infinite torment.
"Who is he?" repeated Moreau, in a voice of thunder.
"Evil is he who breaks the Law," chanted the Sayer of the Law.
Moreau looked into the eyes of the Leopard-man, and seemed to be
dragging the very soul out of the creature.
"Who breaks the Law--" said Moreau, taking his eyes off his victim,
and turning towards us (it seemed to me there was a touch of exultation
in his voice).
"Goes back to the House of Pain," they all clamoured,--"goes back
to the House of Pain, O Master!"
"Back to the House of Pain,--back to the House of Pain,"
gabbled the Ape-man, as though the idea was sweet to him.
"Do you hear?" said Moreau, turning back to the criminal,
For the Leopard-man, released from Moreau's eye, had risen straight
from his knees, and now, with eyes aflame and his huge feline tusks
flashing out from under his curling lips, leapt towards his tormentor.
I am convinced that only the madness of unendurable fear could have
prompted this attack. The whole circle of threescore monsters seemed
to rise about us. I drew my revolver. The two figures collided.
I saw Moreau reeling back from the Leopard-man's blow. There was a
furious yelling and howling all about us. Every one was moving rapidly.
For a moment I thought it was a general revolt. The furious face
of the Leopard-man flashed by mine, with M'ling close in pursuit.
I saw the yellow eyes of the Hyena-swine blazing with excitement,
his attitude as if he were half resolved to attack me.
The Satyr, too, glared at me over the Hyena-swine's hunched shoulders.
I heard the crack of Moreau's pistol, and saw the pink flash
dart across the tumult. The whole crowd seemed to swing round
in the direction of the glint of fire, and I too was swung round
by the magnetism of the movement. In another second I was running,
one of a tumultuous shouting crowd, in pursuit of the escaping
That is all I can tell definitely. I saw the Leopard-man strike Moreau,
and then everything spun about me until I was running headlong.
M'ling was ahead, close in pursuit of the fugitive. Behind, their tongues
already lolling out, ran the Wolf-women in great leaping strides.
The Swine folk followed, squealing with excitement, and the two
Bull-men in their swathings of white. Then came Moreau in a
cluster of the Beast People, his wide-brimmed straw hat blown off,
his revolver in hand, and his lank white hair streaming out.
The Hyena-swine ran beside me, keeping pace with me and glancing furtively
at me out of his feline eyes, and the others came pattering and shouting
The Leopard-man went bursting his way through the long canes,
which sprang back as he passed, and rattled in M'ling's face.
We others in the rear found a trampled path for us when we reached
the brake. The chase lay through the brake for perhaps a quarter
of a mile, and then plunged into a dense thicket, which retarded our
movements exceedingly, though we went through it in a crowd together,--
fronds flicking into our faces, ropy creepers catching us under the chin
or gripping our ankles, thorny plants hooking into and tearing cloth
and flesh together.
"He has gone on all-fours through this," panted Moreau, now just
ahead of me.
"None escape," said the Wolf-bear, laughing into my face with
the exultation of hunting. We burst out again among rocks,
and saw the quarry ahead running lightly on all-fours and snarling
at us over his shoulder. At that the Wolf Folk howled with delight.
The Thing was still clothed, and at a distance its face still seemed human;
but the carriage of its four limbs was feline, and the furtive
droop of its shoulder was distinctly that of a hunted animal.
It leapt over some thorny yellow-flowering bushes, and was hidden.
M'ling was halfway across the space.
Most of us now had lost the first speed of the chase, and had fallen
into a longer and steadier stride. I saw as we traversed the open
that the pursuit was now spreading from a column into a line.
The Hyena-swine still ran close to me, watching me as it ran,
every now and then puckering its muzzle with a snarling laugh.
At the edge of the rocks the Leopard-man, realising that he was
making for the projecting cape upon which he had stalked me
on the night of my arrival, had doubled in the undergrowth;
but Montgomery had seen the manoeuvre, and turned him again.
So, panting, tumbling against rocks, torn by brambles, impeded by
ferns and reeds, I helped to pursue the Leopard-man who had broken
the Law, and the Hyena-swine ran, laughing savagely, by my side.
I staggered on, my head reeling and my heart beating against my ribs,
tired almost to death, and yet not daring to lose sight of the chase
lest I should be left alone with this horrible companion.
I staggered on in spite of infinite fatigue and the dense heat of the
At last the fury of the hunt slackened. We had pinned the wretched
brute into a corner of the island. Moreau, whip in hand, marshalled us
all into an irregular line, and we advanced now slowly, shouting to one
another as we advanced and tightening the cordon about our victim.
He lurked noiseless and invisible in the bushes through which I
had run from him during that midnight pursuit.
"Steady!" cried Moreau, "steady!" as the ends of the line crept
round the tangle of undergrowth and hemmed the brute in.
"Ware a rush!" came the voice of Montgomery from beyond the thicket.
I was on the slope above the bushes; Montgomery and Moreau beat
along the beach beneath. Slowly we pushed in among the fretted
network of branches and leaves. The quarry was silent.
"Back to the House of Pain, the House of Pain, the House of Pain!"
yelped the voice of the Ape-man, some twenty yards to the right.
When I heard that, I forgave the poor wretch all the fear he had
inspired in me. I heard the twigs snap and the boughs swish aside
before the heavy tread of the Horse-rhinoceros upon my right.
Then suddenly through a polygon of green, in the half darkness
under the luxuriant growth, I saw the creature we were hunting.
I halted. He was crouched together into the smallest possible compass,
his luminous green eyes turned over his shoulder regarding me.
It may seem a strange contradiction in me,--I cannot explain the fact,--
but now, seeing the creature there in a perfectly animal attitude,
with the light gleaming in its eyes and its imperfectly human face
distorted with terror, I realised again the fact of its humanity.
In another moment other of its pursuers would see it, and it
would be overpowered and captured, to experience once more
the horrible tortures of the enclosure. Abruptly I slipped out
my revolver, aimed between its terror-struck eyes, and fired.
As I did so, the Hyena-swine saw the Thing, and flung itself upon
it with an eager cry, thrusting thirsty teeth into its neck.
All about me the green masses of the thicket were swaying and cracking
as the Beast People came rushing together. One face and then
"Don't kill it, Prendick!" cried Moreau. "Don't kill it!"
and I saw him stooping as he pushed through under the fronds
of the big ferns.
In another moment he had beaten off the Hyena-swine with the handle of
his whip, and he and Montgomery were keeping away the excited carnivorous
Beast People, and particularly M'ling, from the still quivering body.
The hairy-grey Thing came sniffing at the corpse under my arm.
The other animals, in their animal ardour, jostled me to get a
"Confound you, Prendick!" said Moreau. "I wanted him."
"I'm sorry," said I, though I was not. "It was the impulse
of the moment." I felt sick with exertion and excitement.
Turning, I pushed my way out of the crowding Beast People and went
on alone up the slope towards the higher part of the headland.
Under the shouted directions of Moreau I heard the three white-swathed
Bull-men begin dragging the victim down towards the water.
It was easy now for me to be alone. The Beast People manifested a quite
human curiosity about the dead body, and followed it in a thick knot,
sniffing and growling at it as the Bull-men dragged it down the beach.
I went to the headland and watched the bull-men, black against
the evening sky as they carried the weighted dead body out to sea;
and like a wave across my mind came the realisation of the unspeakable
aimlessness of things upon the island. Upon the beach among
the rocks beneath me were the Ape-man, the Hyena-swine, and several
other of the Beast People, standing about Montgomery and Moreau.
They were all still intensely excited, and all overflowing with noisy
expressions of their loyalty to the Law; yet I felt an absolute
assurance in my own mind that the Hyena-swine was implicated
in the rabbit-killing. A strange persuasion came upon me, that,
save for the grossness of the line, the grotesqueness of the forms,
I had here before me the whole balance of human life in miniature,
the whole interplay of instinct, reason, and fate in its simplest form.
The Leopard-man had happened to go under: that was all the difference.
Poor brutes! I began to see the viler aspect of Moreau's cruelty.
I had not thought before of the pain and trouble that came
to these poor victims after they had passed from Moreau's hands.
I had shivered only at the days of actual torment in the enclosure.
But now that seemed to me the lesser part. Before, they had
been beasts, their instincts fitly adapted to their surroundings,
and happy as living things may be. Now they stumbled in the shackles
of humanity, lived in a fear that never died, fretted by a law they
could not understand; their mock-human existence, begun in an agony,
was one long internal struggle, one long dread of Moreau--and for what?
It was the wantonness of it that stirred me.
Had Moreau had any intelligible object, I could have sympathised at
least a little with him. I am not so squeamish about pain as that.
I could have forgiven him a little even, had his motive been only hate.
But he was so irresponsible, so utterly careless! His curiosity,
his mad, aimless investigations, drove him on; and the Things were
thrown out to live a year or so, to struggle and blunder and suffer,
and at last to die painfully. They were wretched in themselves;
the old animal hate moved them to trouble one another; the Law held
them back from a brief hot struggle and a decisive end to their
In those days my fear of the Beast People went the way of my personal
fear for Moreau. I fell indeed into a morbid state, deep and enduring,
and alien to fear, which has left permanent scars upon my mind.
I must confess that I lost faith in the sanity of the world
when I saw it suffering the painful disorder of this island.
A blind Fate, a vast pitiless Mechanism, seemed to cut and
shape the fabric of existence and I, Moreau (by his passion
for research), Montgomery (by his passion for drink), the Beast
People with their instincts and mental restrictions, were torn
and crushed, ruthlessly, inevitably, amid the infinite complexity
of its incessant wheels. But this condition did not come all at once:
I think indeed that I anticipate a little in speaking of
XVII. A CATASTROPHE.
SCARCELY six weeks passed before I had lost every feeling but
dislike and abhorrence for this infamous experiment of Moreau's.
My one idea was to get away from these horrible caricatures of my
Maker's image, back to the sweet and wholesome intercourse of men.
My fellow-creatures, from whom I was thus separated, began to assume
idyllic virtue and beauty in my memory. My first friendship with
Montgomery did not increase. His long separation from humanity,
his secret vice of drunkenness, his evident sympathy with the Beast People,
tainted him to me. Several times I let him go alone among them.
I avoided intercourse with them in every possible way.
I spent an increasing proportion of my time upon the beach,
looking for some liberating sail that never appeared,--until one day
there fell upon us an appalling disaster, which put an altogether
different aspect upon my strange surroundings.
It was about seven or eight weeks after my landing,--rather more,
I think, though I had not troubled to keep account of the time,--
when this catastrophe occurred. It happened in the early morning--
I should think about six. I had risen and breakfasted early,
having been aroused by the noise of three Beast Men carrying wood into
After breakfast I went to the open gateway of the enclosure,
and stood there smoking a cigarette and enjoying the freshness
of the early morning. Moreau presently came round the corner
of the enclosure and greeted me. He passed by me, and I heard him
behind me unlock and enter his laboratory. So indurated was I
at that time to the abomination of the place, that I heard without
a touch of emotion the puma victim begin another day of torture.
It met its persecutor with a shriek, almost exactly like that of an
Then suddenly something happened,--I do not know what,
to this day. I heard a short, sharp cry behind me, a fall,
and turning saw an awful face rushing upon me,--not human,
not animal, but hellish, brown, seamed with red branching scars,
red drops starting out upon it, and the lidless eyes ablaze.
I threw up my arm to defend myself from the blow that flung
me headlong with a broken forearm; and the great monster,
swathed in lint and with red-stained bandages fluttering about it,
leapt over me and passed. I rolled over and over down the beach,
tried to sit up, and collapsed upon my broken arm. Then Moreau appeared,
his massive white face all the more terrible for the blood that
trickled from his forehead. He carried a revolver in one hand.
He scarcely glanced at me, but rushed off at once in pursuit of
I tried the other arm and sat up. The muffled figure in front ran
in great striding leaps along the beach, and Moreau followed her.
She turned her head and saw him, then doubling abruptly made
for the bushes. She gained upon him at every stride. I saw her
plunge into them, and Moreau, running slantingly to intercept her,
fired and missed as she disappeared. Then he too vanished
in the green confusion. I stared after them, and then the pain
in my arm flamed up, and with a groan I staggered to my feet.
Montgomery appeared in the doorway, dressed, and with his revolver in
"Great God, Prendick!" he said, not noticing that I was hurt,
"that brute's loose! Tore the fetter out of the wall!
Have you seen them?" Then sharply, seeing I gripped my arm,
"What's the matter?"
"I was standing in the doorway," said I.
He came forward and took my arm. "Blood on the sleeve,"
said he, and rolled back the flannel. He pocketed his weapon,
felt my arm about painfully, and led me inside. "Your arm
is broken," he said, and then, "Tell me exactly how it happened--
I told him what I had seen; told him in broken sentences,
with gasps of pain between them, and very dexterously and swiftly
he bound my arm meanwhile. He slung it from my shoulder,
stood back and looked at me.
"You'll do," he said. "And now?"
He thought. Then he went out and locked the gates of the enclosure.
He was absent some time.
I was chiefly concerned about my arm. The incident seemed merely
one more of many horrible things. I sat down in the deck chair,
and I must admit swore heartily at the island. The first dull
feeling of injury in my arm had already given way to a burning pain
when Montgomery reappeared. His face was rather pale, and he showed
more of his lower gums than ever.
"I can neither see nor hear anything of him," he said.
"I've been thinking he may want my help." He stared at me with
his expressionless eyes. "That was a strong brute," he said.
"It simply wrenched its fetter out of the wall." He went to the window,
then to the door, and there turned to me. "I shall go after him,"
he said. "There's another revolver I can leave with you.
To tell you the truth, I feel anxious somehow."
He obtained the weapon, and put it ready to my hand on the table;
then went out, leaving a restless contagion in the air.
I did not sit long after he left, but took the revolver in hand and went
to the doorway.
The morning was as still as death. Not a whisper of wind was stirring;
the sea was like polished glass, the sky empty, the beach desolate.
In my half-excited, half-feverish state, this stillness of things
oppressed me. I tried to whistle, and the tune died away.
I swore again,--the second time that morning. Then I went to the corner
of the enclosure and stared inland at the green bush that had
swallowed up Moreau and Montgomery. When would they return, and how?
Then far away up the beach a little grey Beast Man appeared,
ran down to the water's edge and began splashing about.
I strolled back to the doorway, then to the corner again,
and so began pacing to and fro like a sentinel upon duty.
Once I was arrested by the distant voice of Montgomery bawling,
"Coo-ee--Moreau!" My arm became less painful, but very hot.
I got feverish and thirsty. My shadow grew shorter.
I watched the distant figure until it went away again. Would Moreau
and Montgomery never return? Three sea-birds began fighting for some
Then from far away behind the enclosure I heard a pistol-shot. A
long silence, and then came another. Then a yelling cry nearer,
and another dismal gap of silence. My unfortunate imagination
set to work to torment me. Then suddenly a shot close by.
I went to the corner, startled, and saw Montgomery,--his face scarlet,
his hair disordered, and the knee of his trousers torn.
His face expressed profound consternation. Behind him slouched
the Beast Man, M'ling, and round M'ling's jaws were some queer
"Has he come?" said Montgomery.
"Moreau?" said I. "No."
"My God!" The man was panting, almost sobbing. "Go back in," he said,
taking my arm. "They're mad. They're all rushing about mad. What can
have happened? I don't know. I'll tell you, when my breath comes.
Where's some brandy?"
Montgomery limped before me into the room and sat down in the deck chair.
M'ling flung himself down just outside the doorway and began
panting like a dog. I got Montgomery some brandy-and-water. He
sat staring in front of him at nothing, recovering his breath.
After some minutes he began to tell me what had happened.
He had followed their track for some way. It was plain enough at
first on account of the crushed and broken bushes, white rags torn
from the puma's bandages, and occasional smears of blood on the leaves
of the shrubs and undergrowth. He lost the track, however, on the stony
ground beyond the stream where I had seen the Beast Man drinking,
and went wandering aimlessly westward shouting Moreau's name.
Then M'ling had come to him carrying a light hatchet. M'ling had seen
nothing of the puma affair; had been felling wood, and heard him calling.
They went on shouting together. Two Beast Men came crouching
and peering at them through the undergrowth, with gestures and a
furtive carriage that alarmed Montgomery by their strangeness.
He hailed them, and they fled guiltily. He stopped shouting
after that, and after wandering some time farther in an undecided way,
determined to visit the huts.
He found the ravine deserted.
Growing more alarmed every minute, he began to retrace his steps.
Then it was he encountered the two Swine-men I had seen dancing
on the night of my arrival; blood-stained they were about the mouth,
and intensely excited. They came crashing through the ferns,
and stopped with fierce faces when they saw him. He cracked his whip
in some trepidation, and forthwith they rushed at him. Never before
had a Beast Man dared to do that. One he shot through the head;
M'ling flung himself upon the other, and the two rolled grappling.
M'ling got his brute under and with his teeth in its throat,
and Montgomery shot that too as it struggled in M'ling's grip.
He had some difficulty in inducing M'ling to come on with him.
Thence they had hurried back to me. On the way, M'ling had suddenly
rushed into a thicket and driven out an under-sized Ocelot-man,
also blood-stained, and lame through a wound in the foot.
This brute had run a little way and then turned savagely at bay,
and Montgomery--with a certain wantonness, I thought--had shot
"What does it all mean?" said I.
He shook his head, and turned once more to the brandy.
XVIII. THE FINDING OF MOREAU.
WHEN I saw Montgomery swallow a third dose of brandy, I took it
upon myself to interfere. He was already more than half fuddled.
I told him that some serious thing must have happened to
Moreau by this time, or he would have returned before this,
and that it behoved us to ascertain what that catastrophe was.
Montgomery raised some feeble objections, and at last agreed.
We had some food, and then all three of us started.
It is possibly due to the tension of my mind, at the time,
but even now that start into the hot stillness of the tropical
afternoon is a singularly vivid impression. M'ling went first,
his shoulder hunched, his strange black head moving with quick
starts as he peered first on this side of the way and then on that.
He was unarmed; his axe he had dropped when he encountered
the Swine-man. Teeth were his weapons, when it came to fighting.
Montgomery followed with stumbling footsteps, his hands in his pockets,
his face downcast; he was in a state of muddled sullenness
with me on account of the brandy. My left arm was in a sling
(it was lucky it was my left), and I carried my revolver in my right.
Soon we traced a narrow path through the wild luxuriance of
the island, going northwestward; and presently M'ling stopped,
and became rigid with watchfulness. Montgomery almost staggered
into him, and then stopped too. Then, listening intently,
we heard coming through the trees the sound of voices and footsteps
"He is dead," said a deep, vibrating voice.
"He is not dead; he is not dead," jabbered another.
"We saw, we saw," said several voices.
"Hullo!" suddenly shouted Montgomery, "Hullo, there!"
"Confound you!" said I, and gripped my pistol.
There was a silence, then a crashing among the interlacing vegetation,
first here, then there, and then half-a-dozen faces appeared,--
strange faces, lit by a strange light. M'ling made a growling
noise in his throat. I recognised the Ape-man: I had indeed
already identified his voice, and two of the white-swathed
brown-featured creatures I had seen in Montgomery's boat.
With these were the two dappled brutes and that grey, horribly crooked
creature who said the Law, with grey hair streaming down its cheeks,
heavy grey eyebrows, and grey locks pouring off from a central
parting upon its sloping forehead,--a heavy, faceless thing,
with strange red eyes, looking at us curiously from amidst
For a space no one spoke. Then Montgomery hiccoughed, "Who--said
he was dead?"
The Monkey-man looked guiltily at the hairy-grey Thing. "He is dead,"
said this monster. "They saw."
There was nothing threatening about this detachment, at any rate.
They seemed awestricken and puzzled.
"Where is he?" said Montgomery.
"Beyond," and the grey creature pointed.
"Is there a Law now?" asked the Monkey-man. "Is it still to be this
and that? Is he dead indeed?"
"Is there a Law?" repeated the man in white. "Is there a Law,
thou Other with the Whip?"
"He is dead," said the hairy-grey Thing. And they all stood
"Prendick," said Montgomery, turning his dull eyes to me.
"He's dead, evidently."
I had been standing behind him during this colloquy.
I began to see how things lay with them. I suddenly stepped in front
of Montgomery and lifted up my voice:--"Children of the Law,"
I said, "he is not dead!" M'ling turned his sharp eyes on me.
"He has changed his shape; he has changed his body," I went on.
"For a time you will not see him. He is--there," I pointed upward,
"where he can watch you. You cannot see him, but he can see you.
Fear the Law!"
I looked at them squarely. They flinched.
"He is great, he is good," said the Ape-man, peering fearfully
upward among the dense trees.
"And the other Thing?" I demanded.
"The Thing that bled, and ran screaming and sobbing,--that is dead too,"
said the grey Thing, still regarding me.
"That's well," grunted Montgomery.
"The Other with the Whip--" began the grey Thing.
"Well?" said I.
"Said he was dead."
But Montgomery was still sober enough to understand my motive in denying
Moreau's death. "He is not dead," he said slowly, "not dead at all.
No more dead than I am."
"Some," said I, "have broken the Law: they will die. Some have died.
Show us now where his old body lies,--the body he cast away because
he had no more need of it."
"It is this way, Man who walked in the Sea," said the grey Thing.
And with these six creatures guiding us, we went through the tumult
of ferns and creepers and tree-stems towards the northwest.
Then came a yelling, a crashing among the branches, and a little
pink homunculus rushed by us shrieking. Immediately after appeared
a monster in headlong pursuit, blood-bedabbled, who was amongst us
almost before he could stop his career. The grey Thing leapt aside.
M'ling, with a snarl, flew at it, and was struck aside. Montgomery fired
and missed, bowed his head, threw up his arm, and turned to run.
I fired, and the Thing still came on; fired again, point-blank, into
its ugly face. I saw its features vanish in a flash: its face was
driven in. Yet it passed me, gripped Montgomery, and holding him,
fell headlong beside him and pulled him sprawling upon itself in its
I found myself alone with M'ling, the dead brute, and the prostrate man.
Montgomery raised himself slowly and stared in a muddled way at
the shattered Beast Man beside him. It more than half sobered him.
He scrambled to his feet. Then I saw the grey Thing returning cautiously
through the trees.
"See," said I, pointing to the dead brute, "is the Law not alive?
This came of breaking the Law."
He peered at the body. "He sends the Fire that kills,"
said he, in his deep voice, repeating part of the Ritual.
The others gathered round and stared for a space.
At last we drew near the westward extremity of the island.
We came upon the gnawed and mutilated body of the puma,
its shoulder-bone smashed by a bullet, and perhaps twenty yards
farther found at last what we sought. Moreau lay face downward
in a trampled space in a canebrake. One hand was almost severed
at the wrist and his silvery hair was dabbled in blood.
His head had been battered in by the fetters of the puma.
The broken canes beneath him were smeared with blood.
His revolver we could not find. Montgomery turned him over.
Resting at intervals, and with the help of the seven Beast People
(for he was a heavy man), we carried Moreau back to the enclosure.
The night was darkling. Twice we heard unseen creatures howling
and shrieking past our little band, and once the little pink
sloth-creature appeared and stared at us, and vanished again.
But we were not attacked again. At the gates of the enclosure
our company of Beast People left us, M'ling going with the rest.
We locked ourselves in, and then took Moreau's mangled
body into the yard and laid it upon a pile of brushwood.
Then we went into the laboratory and put an end to all we found living
XIX. MONTGOMERY'S "BANK HOLIDAY."
WHEN this was accomplished, and we had washed and eaten,
Montgomery and I went into my little room and seriously discussed
our position for the first time. It was then near midnight.
He was almost sober, but greatly disturbed in his mind.
He had been strangely under the influence of Moreau's personality:
I do not think it had ever occurred to him that Moreau could die.
This disaster was the sudden collapse of the habits that had become part of
his nature in the ten or more monotonous years he had spent on the island.
He talked vaguely, answered my questions crookedly, wandered into
"This silly ass of a world," he said; "what a muddle it all is!
I haven't had any life. I wonder when it's going to begin.
Sixteen years being bullied by nurses and schoolmasters at
their own sweet will; five in London grinding hard at medicine,
bad food, shabby lodgings, shabby clothes, shabby vice, a blunder,--
I didn't know any better,--and hustled off to this beastly island.
Ten years here! What's it all for, Prendick? Are we bubbles blown by
It was hard to deal with such ravings. "The thing we have to think
of now," said I, "is how to get away from this island."
"What's the good of getting away? I'm an outcast.
Where am I to join on? It's all very well for you, Prendick.
Poor old Moreau! We can't leave him here to have his bones picked.
As it is--And besides, what will become of the decent part of the
"Well," said I, "that will do to-morrow. I've been thinking we might make
that brushwood into a pyre and burn his body--and those other things.
Then what will happen with the Beast Folk?"
"I don't know. I suppose those that were made of beasts of prey will
make silly asses of themselves sooner or later. We can't massacre
the lot--can we? I suppose that's what your humanity would suggest?
But they'll change. They are sure to change."
He talked thus inconclusively until at last I felt my temper going.
"Damnation!" he exclaimed at some petulance of mine; "can't you see I'm
in a worse hole than you are?" And he got up, and went for the brandy.
"Drink!" he said returning, "you logic-chopping, chalky-faced saint
of an atheist, drink!"
"Not I," said I, and sat grimly watching his face under the yellow
paraffine flare, as he drank himself into a garrulous misery.
I have a memory of infinite tedium. He wandered into a maudlin
defence of the Beast People and of M'ling. M'ling, he said,
was the only thing that had ever really cared for him.
And suddenly an idea came to him.
"I'm damned!" said he, staggering to his feet and clutching
the brandy bottle.
By some flash of intuition I knew what it was he intended.
"You don't give drink to that beast!" I said, rising and facing him.
"Beast!" said he. "You're the beast. He takes his liquor
like a Christian. Come out of the way, Prendick!"
"For God's sake," said I.
"Get--out of the way!" he roared, and suddenly whipped out his revolver.
"Very well," said I, and stood aside, half-minded to fall upon him
as he put his hand upon the latch, but deterred by the thought
of my useless arm. "You've made a beast of yourself,--to the beasts
you may go."
He flung the doorway open, and stood half facing me between
the yellow lamp-light and the pallid glare of the moon;
his eye-sockets were blotches of black under his stubbly eyebrows.
"You're a solemn prig, Prendick, a silly ass! You're always fearing
and fancying. We're on the edge of things. I'm bound to cut my
throat to-morrow. I'm going to have a damned Bank Holiday to-night."
He turned and went out into the moonlight. "M'ling!" he cried;
"M'ling, old friend!"
Three dim creatures in the silvery light came along the edge
of the wan beach,--one a white-wrapped creature, the other two
blotches of blackness following it. They halted, staring.
Then I saw M'ling's hunched shoulders as he came round the corner
of the house.
"Drink!" cried Montgomery, "drink, you brutes! Drink and be men!
Damme, I'm the cleverest. Moreau forgot this; this is the last touch.
Drink, I tell you!" And waving the bottle in his hand he started
off at a kind of quick trot to the westward, M'ling ranging himself
between him and the three dim creatures who followed.
Back to Full Books