The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H. G. Wells
Part 3 out of 3
I went to the doorway. They were already indistinct in the mist
of the moonlight before Montgomery halted. I saw him administer
a dose of the raw brandy to M'ling, and saw the five figures melt
into one vague patch.
"Sing!" I heard Montgomery shout,--"sing all together, `Confound
old Prendick!' That's right; now again, `Confound old Prendick!'"
The black group broke up into five separate figures,
and wound slowly away from me along the band of shining beach.
Each went howling at his own sweet will, yelping insults at me,
or giving whatever other vent this new inspiration of brandy demanded.
Presently I heard Montgomery's voice shouting, "Right turn!"
and they passed with their shouts and howls into the blackness
of the landward trees. Slowly, very slowly, they receded
The peaceful splendour of the night healed again.
The moon was now past the meridian and travelling down the west.
It was at its full, and very bright riding through the empty blue sky.
The shadow of the wall lay, a yard wide and of inky blackness, at my feet.
The eastward sea was a featureless grey, dark and mysterious;
and between the sea and the shadow the grey sands (of volcanic
glass and crystals) flashed and shone like a beach of diamonds.
Behind me the paraffine lamp flared hot and ruddy.
Then I shut the door, locked it, and went into the enclosure where
Moreau lay beside his latest victims,--the staghounds and the llama
and some other wretched brutes,--with his massive face calm even
after his terrible death, and with the hard eyes open, staring at
the dead white moon above. I sat down upon the edge of the sink,
and with my eyes upon that ghastly pile of silvery light and ominous
shadows began to turn over my plans. In the morning I would gather
some provisions in the dingey, and after setting fire to the pyre
before me, push out into the desolation of the high sea once more.
I felt that for Montgomery there was no help; that he was, in truth,
half akin to these Beast Folk, unfitted for human kindred.
I do not know how long I sat there scheming. It must have been
an hour or so. Then my planning was interrupted by the return of
Montgomery to my neighbourhood. I heard a yelling from many throats,
a tumult of exultant cries passing down towards the beach,
whooping and howling, and excited shrieks that seemed to come to a stop
near the water's edge. The riot rose and fell; I heard heavy blows
and the splintering smash of wood, but it did not trouble me then.
A discordant chanting began.
My thoughts went back to my means of escape. I got up, brought the lamp,
and went into a shed to look at some kegs I had seen there.
Then I became interested in the contents of some biscuit-tins, and
opened one. I saw something out of the tail of my eye,--a red figure,--
and turned sharply.
Behind me lay the yard, vividly black-and-white in the moonlight,
and the pile of wood and faggots on which Moreau and his mutilated
victims lay, one over another. They seemed to be gripping one another
in one last revengeful grapple. His wounds gaped, black as night,
and the blood that had dripped lay in black patches upon the sand.
Then I saw, without understanding, the cause of my phantom,--
a ruddy glow that came and danced and went upon the wall opposite.
I misinterpreted this, fancied it was a reflection of my
flickering lamp, and turned again to the stores in the shed.
I went on rummaging among them, as well as a one-armed man could,
finding this convenient thing and that, and putting them
aside for to-morrow's launch. My movements were slow,
and the time passed quickly. Insensibly the daylight crept
The chanting died down, giving place to a clamour; then it
began again, and suddenly broke into a tumult. I heard cries of,
"More! more!" a sound like quarrelling, and a sudden wild shriek.
The quality of the sounds changed so greatly that it arrested
my attention. I went out into the yard and listened.
Then cutting like a knife across the confusion came the crack of
I rushed at once through my room to the little doorway.
As I did so I heard some of the packing-cases behind me go sliding down
and smash together with a clatter of glass on the floor of the shed.
But I did not heed these. I flung the door open and looked out.
Up the beach by the boathouse a bonfire was burning, raining up
sparks into the indistinctness of the dawn. Around this struggled
a mass of black figures. I heard Montgomery call my name.
I began to run at once towards this fire, revolver in hand. I saw the pink
tongue of Montgomery's pistol lick out once, close to the ground.
He was down. I shouted with all my strength and fired into the air.
I heard some one cry, "The Master!" The knotted black struggle
broke into scattering units, the fire leapt and sank down.
The crowd of Beast People fled in sudden panic before me, up the beach.
In my excitement I fired at their retreating backs as they
disappeared among the bushes. Then I turned to the black heaps upon
Montgomery lay on his back, with the hairy-grey Beast-man
sprawling across his body. The brute was dead, but still
gripping Montgomery's throat with its curving claws.
Near by lay M'ling on his face and quite still, his neck bitten
open and the upper part of the smashed brandy-bottle in his hand.
Two other figures lay near the fire,--the one motionless, the other
groaning fitfully, every now and then raising its head slowly,
then dropping it again.
I caught hold of the grey man and pulled him off Montgomery's body;
his claws drew down the torn coat reluctantly as I dragged him away.
Montgomery was dark in the face and scarcely breathing. I splashed
sea-water on his face and pillowed his head on my rolled-up coat.
M'ling was dead. The wounded creature by the fire--it was a Wolf-brute
with a bearded grey face--lay, I found, with the fore part of its
body upon the still glowing timber. The wretched thing was injured
so dreadfully that in mercy I blew its brains out at once.
The other brute was one of the Bull-men swathed in white.
He too was dead. The rest of the Beast People had vanished from
I went to Montgomery again and knelt beside him, cursing my ignorance
of medicine. The fire beside me had sunk down, and only charred
beams of timber glowing at the central ends and mixed with a grey
ash of brushwood remained. I wondered casually where Montgomery
had got his wood. Then I saw that the dawn was upon us.
The sky had grown brighter, the setting moon was becoming pale
and opaque in the luminous blue of the day. The sky to the eastward
was rimmed with red.
Suddenly I heard a thud and a hissing behind me, and, looking round,
sprang to my feet with a cry of horror. Against the warm dawn
great tumultuous masses of black smoke were boiling up out of
the enclosure, and through their stormy darkness shot flickering
threads of blood-red flame. Then the thatched roof caught.
I saw the curving charge of the flames across the sloping straw.
A spurt of fire jetted from the window of my room.
I knew at once what had happened. I remembered the crash I had heard.
When I had rushed out to Montgomery's assistance, I had overturned
The hopelessness of saving any of the contents of the enclosure
stared me in the face. My mind came back to my plan of flight,
and turning swiftly I looked to see where the two boats lay upon
the beach. They were gone! Two axes lay upon the sands beside me;
chips and splinters were scattered broadcast, and the ashes
of the bonfire were blackening and smoking under the dawn.
Montgomery had burnt the boats to revenge himself upon me and prevent our
return to mankind!
A sudden convulsion of rage shook me. I was almost moved to batter
his foolish head in, as he lay there helpless at my feet.
Then suddenly his hand moved, so feebly, so pitifully, that my
wrath vanished. He groaned, and opened his eyes for a minute.
I knelt down beside him and raised his head. He opened his
eyes again, staring silently at the dawn, and then they met mine.
The lids fell.
"Sorry," he said presently, with an effort. He seemed trying to think.
"The last," he murmured, "the last of this silly universe.
What a mess--"
I listened. His head fell helplessly to one side. I thought some drink
might revive him; but there was neither drink nor vessel in which to
bring drink at hand. He seemed suddenly heavier. My heart went cold.
I bent down to his face, put my hand through the rent in his blouse.
He was dead; and even as he died a line of white heat, the limb
of the sun, rose eastward beyond the projection of the bay,
splashing its radiance across the sky and turning the dark sea into
a weltering tumult of dazzling light. It fell like a glory upon his
I let his head fall gently upon the rough pillow I had made for him,
and stood up. Before me was the glittering desolation of the sea,
the awful solitude upon which I had already suffered so much; behind me
the island, hushed under the dawn, its Beast People silent and unseen.
The enclosure, with all its provisions and ammunition, burnt noisily,
with sudden gusts of flame, a fitful crackling, and now and then a crash.
The heavy smoke drove up the beach away from me, rolling low
over the distant tree-tops towards the huts in the ravine.
Beside me were the charred vestiges of the boats and these four
Then out of the bushes came three Beast People, with hunched shoulders,
protruding heads, misshapen hands awkwardly held, and inquisitive,
unfriendly eyes and advanced towards me with hesitating gestures.
XX. ALONE WITH THE BEAST FOLK.
I FACED these people, facing my fate in them, single-handed now,--
literally single-handed, for I had a broken arm. In my pocket was
a revolver with two empty chambers. Among the chips scattered about
the beach lay the two axes that had been used to chop up the boats.
The tide was creeping in behind me. There was nothing for it but courage.
I looked squarely into the faces of the advancing monsters.
They avoided my eyes, and their quivering nostrils investigated
the bodies that lay beyond me on the beach. I took half-a-dozen steps,
picked up the blood-stained whip that lay beneath the body
of the Wolf-man, and cracked it. They stopped and stared
"Salute!" said I. "Bow down!"
They hesitated. One bent his knees. I repeated my command,
with my heart in my mouth, and advanced upon them. One knelt,
then the other two.
I turned and walked towards the dead bodies, keeping my face
towards the three kneeling Beast Men, very much as an actor passing
up the stage faces the audience.
"They broke the Law," said I, putting my foot on the Sayer of the Law.
"They have been slain,--even the Sayer of the Law; even the Other with
the Whip. Great is the Law! Come and see."
"None escape," said one of them, advancing and peering.
"None escape," said I. "Therefore hear and do as I command."
They stood up, looking questioningly at one another.
"Stand there," said I.
I picked up the hatchets and swung them by their heads from
the sling of my arm; turned Montgomery over; picked up his revolver
still loaded in two chambers, and bending down to rummage,
found half-a-dozen cartridges in his pocket.
"Take him," said I, standing up again and pointing with the whip;
"take him, and carry him out and cast him into the sea."
They came forward, evidently still afraid of Montgomery,
but still more afraid of my cracking red whip-lash; and after
some fumbling and hesitation, some whip-cracking and shouting,
they lifted him gingerly, carried him down to the beach, and went
splashing into the dazzling welter of the sea.
"On!" said I, "on! Carry him far."
They went in up to their armpits and stood regarding me.
"Let go," said I; and the body of Montgomery vanished with a splash.
Something seemed to tighten across my chest.
"Good!" said I, with a break in my voice; and they came back,
hurrying and fearful, to the margin of the water, leaving long
wakes of black in the silver. At the water's edge they stopped,
turning and glaring into the sea as though they presently expected
Montgomery to arise therefrom and exact vengeance.
"Now these," said I, pointing to the other bodies.
They took care not to approach the place where they had thrown
Montgomery into the water, but instead, carried the four dead
Beast People slantingly along the beach for perhaps a hundred
yards before they waded out and cast them away.
As I watched them disposing of the mangled remains of M'ling, I
heard a light footfall behind me, and turning quickly saw the big
Hyena-swine perhaps a dozen yards away. His head was bent down,
his bright eyes were fixed upon me, his stumpy hands clenched
and held close by his side. He stopped in this crouching attitude
when I turned, his eyes a little averted.
For a moment we stood eye to eye. I dropped the whip and snatched
at the pistol in my pocket; for I meant to kill this brute, the most
formidable of any left now upon the island, at the first excuse.
It may seem treacherous, but so I was resolved. I was far
more afraid of him than of any other two of the Beast Folk.
His continued life was I knew a threat against mine.
I was perhaps a dozen seconds collecting myself. Then cried I, "Salute!
His teeth flashed upon me in a snarl. "Who are you that I should--"
Perhaps a little too spasmodically I drew my revolver, aimed quickly
and fired. I heard him yelp, saw him run sideways and turn, knew I
had missed, and clicked back the cock with my thumb for the next shot.
But he was already running headlong, jumping from side to side,
and I dared not risk another miss. Every now and then he looked
back at me over his shoulder. He went slanting along the beach,
and vanished beneath the driving masses of dense smoke that were
still pouring out from the burning enclosure. For some time I
stood staring after him. I turned to my three obedient Beast Folk
again and signalled them to drop the body they still carried.
Then I went back to the place by the fire where the bodies had fallen
and kicked the sand until all the brown blood-stains were absorbed
I dismissed my three serfs with a wave of the hand, and went up
the beach into the thickets. I carried my pistol in my hand,
my whip thrust with the hatchets in the sling of my arm.
I was anxious to be alone, to think out the position in which I
was now placed. A dreadful thing that I was only beginning
to realise was, that over all this island there was now no safe
place where I could be alone and secure to rest or sleep.
I had recovered strength amazingly since my landing, but I was still
inclined to be nervous and to break down under any great stress.
I felt that I ought to cross the island and establish myself
with the Beast People, and make myself secure in their confidence.
But my heart failed me. I went back to the beach, and turning
eastward past the burning enclosure, made for a point where a shallow
spit of coral sand ran out towards the reef. Here I could sit down
and think, my back to the sea and my face against any surprise.
And there I sat, chin on knees, the sun beating down upon my head
and unspeakable dread in my mind, plotting how I could live on against
the hour of my rescue (if ever rescue came). I tried to review the whole
situation as calmly as I could, but it was difficult to clear the thing
I began turning over in my mind the reason of Montgomery's despair.
"They will change," he said; "they are sure to change." And Moreau,
what was it that Moreau had said? "The stubborn beast-flesh grows
day by day back again." Then I came round to the Hyena-swine. I
felt sure that if I did not kill that brute, he would kill me.
The Sayer of the Law was dead: worse luck. They knew now that we
of the Whips could be killed even as they themselves were killed.
Were they peering at me already out of the green masses of ferns
and palms over yonder, watching until I came within their spring?
Were they plotting against me? What was the Hyena-swine telling them?
My imagination was running away with me into a morass of unsubstantial
My thoughts were disturbed by a crying of sea-birds hurrying
towards some black object that had been stranded by the waves
on the beach near the enclosure. I knew what that object was,
but I had not the heart to go back and drive them off.
I began walking along the beach in the opposite direction,
designing to come round the eastward corner of the island and so
approach the ravine of the huts, without traversing the possible
ambuscades of the thickets.
Perhaps half a mile along the beach I became aware of one of my three
Beast Folk advancing out of the landward bushes towards me. I was now
so nervous with my own imaginings that I immediately drew my revolver.
Even the propitiatory gestures of the creature failed to disarm me.
He hesitated as he approached.
"Go away!" cried I.
There was something very suggestive of a dog in the cringing attitude
of the creature. It retreated a little way, very like a dog being
sent home, and stopped, looking at me imploringly with canine
"Go away," said I. "Do not come near me."
"May I not come near you?" it said.
"No; go away," I insisted, and snapped my whip. Then putting
my whip in my teeth, I stooped for a stone, and with that threat
drove the creature away.
So in solitude I came round by the ravine of the Beast People,
and hiding among the weeds and reeds that separated this
crevice from the sea I watched such of them as appeared,
trying to judge from their gestures and appearance how the death
of Moreau and Montgomery and the destruction of the House of Pain
had affected them. I know now the folly of my cowardice.
Had I kept my courage up to the level of the dawn, had I not
allowed it to ebb away in solitary thought, I might have grasped
the vacant sceptre of Moreau and ruled over the Beast People.
As it was I lost the opportunity, and sank to the position of a mere
leader among my fellows.
Towards noon certain of them came and squatted basking in the hot sand.
The imperious voices of hunger and thirst prevailed over my dread.
I came out of the bushes, and, revolver in hand, walked down towards
these seated figures. One, a Wolf-woman, turned her head and stared
at me, and then the others. None attempted to rise or salute me.
I felt too faint and weary to insist, and I let the moment pass.
"I want food," said I, almost apologetically, and drawing near.
"There is food in the huts," said an Ox-boar-man, drowsily,
and looking away from me.
I passed them, and went down into the shadow and odours of the almost
deserted ravine. In an empty hut I feasted on some specked
and half-decayed fruit; and then after I had propped some branches
and sticks about the opening, and placed myself with my face
towards it and my hand upon my revolver, the exhaustion of the last
thirty hours claimed its own, and I fell into a light slumber,
hoping that the flimsy barricade I had erected would cause
sufficient noise in its removal to save me from surprise.
XXI. THE REVERSION OF THE BEAST FOLK.
IN this way I became one among the Beast People in the Island
of Doctor Moreau. When I awoke, it was dark about me. My arm ached
in its bandages. I sat up, wondering at first where I might be.
I heard coarse voices talking outside. Then I saw that my
barricade had gone, and that the opening of the hut stood clear.
My revolver was still in my hand.
I heard something breathing, saw something crouched together
close beside me. I held my breath, trying to see what it was.
It began to move slowly, interminably. Then something soft and warm
and moist passed across my hand. All my muscles contracted. I snatched
my hand away. A cry of alarm began and was stifled in my throat.
Then I just realised what had happened sufficiently to stay my fingers on
"Who is that?" I said in a hoarse whisper, the revolver still pointed.
"Who are you?"
"They say there is no Master now. But I know, I know. I carried the
bodies into the sea, O Walker in the Sea! the bodies of those you slew.
I am your slave, Master."
"Are you the one I met on the beach?" I asked.
"The same, Master."
The Thing was evidently faithful enough, for it might have fallen
upon me as I slept. "It is well," I said, extending my hand for
another licking kiss. I began to realise what its presence meant,
and the tide of my courage flowed. "Where are the others?"
"They are mad; they are fools," said the Dog-man. "Even now they
talk together beyond there. They say, `The Master is dead.
The Other with the Whip is dead. That Other who walked in the Sea is
as we are. We have no Master, no Whips, no House of Pain, any more.
There is an end. We love the Law, and will keep it; but there
is no Pain, no Master, no Whips for ever again.' So they say.
But I know, Master, I know."
I felt in the darkness, and patted the Dog-man's head. "It is well,"
I said again.
"Presently you will slay them all," said the Dog-man.
"Presently," I answered, "I will slay them all,--after certain
days and certain things have come to pass. Every one of them save
those you spare, every one of them shall be slain."
"What the Master wishes to kill, the Master kills," said the Dog-man
with a certain satisfaction in his voice.
"And that their sins may grow," I said, "let them live in their folly
until their time is ripe. Let them not know that I am the Master."
"The Master's will is sweet," said the Dog-man, with the ready tact
of his canine blood.
"But one has sinned," said I. "Him I will kill, whenever I may meet him.
When I say to you, `That is he,' see that you fall upon him.
And now I will go to the men and women who are assembled together."
For a moment the opening of the hut was blackened by the exit of
the Dog-man. Then I followed and stood up, almost in the exact spot
where I had been when I had heard Moreau and his staghound pursuing me.
But now it was night, and all the miasmatic ravine about me was black;
and beyond, instead of a green, sunlit slope, I saw a red fire,
before which hunched, grotesque figures moved to and fro.
Farther were the thick trees, a bank of darkness, fringed above
with the black lace of the upper branches. The moon was just riding
up on the edge of the ravine, and like a bar across its face drove
the spire of vapour that was for ever streaming from the fumaroles of
"Walk by me," said I, nerving myself; and side by side we walked
down the narrow way, taking little heed of the dim Things that peered
at us out of the huts.
None about the fire attempted to salute me. Most of them
disregarded me, ostentatiously. I looked round for the Hyena-swine,
but he was not there. Altogether, perhaps twenty of the Beast
Folk squatted, staring into the fire or talking to one another.
"He is dead, he is dead! the Master is dead!" said the voice
of the Ape-man to the right of me. "The House of Pain--
there is no House of Pain!"
"He is not dead," said I, in a loud voice. "Even now he watches us!"
This startled them. Twenty pairs of eyes regarded me.
"The House of Pain is gone," said I. "It will come again.
The Master you cannot see; yet even now he listens among you."
"True, true!" said the Dog-man.
They were staggered at my assurance. An animal may be ferocious
and cunning enough, but it takes a real man to tell a lie.
"The Man with the Bandaged Arm speaks a strange thing,"
said one of the Beast Folk.
"I tell you it is so," I said. "The Master and the House of Pain
will come again. Woe be to him who breaks the Law!"
They looked curiously at one another. With an affectation of indifference
I began to chop idly at the ground in front of me with my hatchet.
They looked, I noticed, at the deep cuts I made in the turf.
Then the Satyr raised a doubt. I answered him. Then one of the dappled
things objected, and an animated discussion sprang up round the fire.
Every moment I began to feel more convinced of my present security.
I talked now without the catching in my breath, due to the intensity
of my excitement, that had troubled me at first. In the course of about
an hour I had really convinced several of the Beast Folk of the truth
of my assertions, and talked most of the others into a dubious state.
I kept a sharp eye for my enemy the Hyena-swine, but he never appeared.
Every now and then a suspicious movement would startle me, but my
confidence grew rapidly. Then as the moon crept down from the zenith,
one by one the listeners began to yawn (showing the oddest teeth in
the light of the sinking fire), and first one and then another retired
towards the dens in the ravine; and I, dreading the silence and darkness,
went with them, knowing I was safer with several of them than with
In this manner began the longer part of my sojourn upon this
Island of Doctor Moreau. But from that night until the end came,
there was but one thing happened to tell save a series of innumerable
small unpleasant details and the fretting of an incessant uneasiness.
So that I prefer to make no chronicle for that gap of time,
to tell only one cardinal incident of the ten months I spent as an
intimate of these half-humanised brutes. There is much that sticks
in my memory that I could write,--things that I would cheerfully
give my right hand to forget; but they do not help the telling of
In the retrospect it is strange to remember how soon I fell
in with these monsters' ways, and gained my confidence again.
I had my quarrels with them of course, and could show some of
their teeth-marks still; but they soon gained a wholesome respect
for my trick of throwing stones and for the bite of my hatchet.
And my Saint-Bernard-man's loyalty was of infinite service to me.
I found their simple scale of honour was based mainly on the capacity
for inflicting trenchant wounds. Indeed, I may say--without vanity,
I hope--that I held something like pre-eminence among them.
One or two, whom in a rare access of high spirits I had scarred
rather badly, bore me a grudge; but it vented itself chiefly
behind my back, and at a safe distance from my missiles,
The Hyena-swine avoided me, and I was always on the alert for him.
My inseparable Dog-man hated and dreaded him intensely.
I really believe that was at the root of the brute's attachment to me.
It was soon evident to me that the former monster had tasted blood,
and gone the way of the Leopard-man. He formed a lair somewhere in
the forest, and became solitary. Once I tried to induce the Beast Folk to
hunt him, but I lacked the authority to make them co-operate for one end.
Again and again I tried to approach his den and come upon him unaware;
but always he was too acute for me, and saw or winded me and got away.
He too made every forest pathway dangerous to me and my ally
with his lurking ambuscades. The Dog-man scarcely dared to leave
In the first month or so the Beast Folk, compared with their
latter condition, were human enough, and for one or two besides
my canine friend I even conceived a friendly tolerance.
The little pink sloth-creature displayed an odd affection for me,
and took to following me about. The Monkey-man bored me, however;
he assumed, on the strength of his five digits, that he was my equal,
and was for ever jabbering at me,--jabbering the most arrant nonsense.
One thing about him entertained me a little: he had a fantastic trick
of coining new words. He had an idea, I believe, that to gabble
about names that meant nothing was the proper use of speech.
He called it "Big Thinks" to distinguish it from "Little Thinks,"
the sane every-day interests of life. If ever I made a remark
he did not understand, he would praise it very much, ask me to say
it again, learn it by heart, and go off repeating it, with a word
wrong here or there, to all the milder of the Beast People.
He thought nothing of what was plain and comprehensible.
I invented some very curious "Big Thinks" for his especial use.
I think now that he was the silliest creature I ever met;
he had developed in the most wonderful way the distinctive silliness
of man without losing one jot of the natural folly of a monkey.
This, I say, was in the earlier weeks of my solitude among these brutes.
During that time they respected the usage established by the Law,
and behaved with general decorum. Once I found another rabbit torn
to pieces,--by the Hyena-swine, I am assured,--but that was all.
It was about May when I first distinctly perceived a growing difference
in their speech and carriage, a growing coarseness of articulation,
a growing disinclination to talk. My Monkey-man's jabber multiplied
in volume but grew less and less comprehensible, more and more simian.
Some of the others seemed altogether slipping their hold upon speech,
though they still understood what I said to them at that time.
(Can you imagine language, once clear-cut and exact, softening and
guttering, losing shape and import, becoming mere limps of sound again?)
And they walked erect with an increasing difficulty. Though they
evidently felt ashamed of themselves, every now and then I would come
upon one or another running on toes and finger-tips, and quite unable
to recover the vertical attitude. They held things more clumsily;
drinking by suction, feeding by gnawing, grew commoner every day.
I realised more keenly than ever what Moreau had told me about
the "stubborn beast-flesh." They were reverting, and reverting very
Some of them--the pioneers in this, I noticed with some surprise,
were all females--began to disregard the injunction of decency,
deliberately for the most part. Others even attempted public outrages
upon the institution of monogamy. The tradition of the Law was clearly
losing its force. I cannot pursue this disagreeable subject.
My Dog-man imperceptibly slipped back to the dog again; day by day
he became dumb, quadrupedal, hairy. I scarcely noticed the transition
from the companion on my right hand to the lurching dog at my side.
As the carelessness and disorganisation increased from day to day,
the lane of dwelling places, at no time very sweet, became so
loathsome that I left it, and going across the island made myself
a hovel of boughs amid the black ruins of Moreau's enclosure.
Some memory of pain, I found, still made that place the safest from
the Beast Folk.
It would be impossible to detail every step of the lapsing of
these monsters,--to tell how, day by day, the human semblance left them;
how they gave up bandagings and wrappings, abandoned at last every
stitch of clothing; how the hair began to spread over the exposed limbs;
how their foreheads fell away and their faces projected;
how the quasi-human intimacy I had permitted myself with some
of them in the first month of my loneliness became a shuddering
horror to recall.
The change was slow and inevitable. For them and for me it came
without any definite shock. I still went among them in safety,
because no jolt in the downward glide had released the increasing
charge of explosive animalism that ousted the human day by day.
But I began to fear that soon now that shock must come.
My Saint-Bernard-brute followed me to the enclosure every night,
and his vigilance enabled me to sleep at times in something like peace.
The little pink sloth-thing became shy and left me, to crawl back
to its natural life once more among the tree-branches. We were in just
the state of equilibrium that would remain in one of those "Happy Family"
cages which animal-tamers exhibit, if the tamer were to leave it
Of course these creatures did not decline into such beasts as
the reader has seen in zoological gardens,--into ordinary bears,
wolves, tigers, oxen, swine, and apes. There was still something
strange about each; in each Moreau had blended this animal with that.
One perhaps was ursine chiefly, another feline chiefly, another
bovine chiefly; but each was tainted with other creatures,--a kind
of generalised animalism appearing through the specific dispositions.
And the dwindling shreds of the humanity still startled me every
now and then,--a momentary recrudescence of speech perhaps,
an unexpected dexterity of the fore-feet, a pitiful attempt to
I too must have undergone strange changes. My clothes hung about
me as yellow rags, through whose rents showed the tanned skin.
My hair grew long, and became matted together. I am told that
even now my eyes have a strange brightness, a swift alertness
At first I spent the daylight hours on the southward beach
watching for a ship, hoping and praying for a ship.
I counted on the "Ipecacuanha" returning as the year wore on;
but she never came. Five times I saw sails, and thrice smoke;
but nothing ever touched the island. I always had a bonfire ready,
but no doubt the volcanic reputation of the island was taken to account
It was only about September or October that I began to think of making
a raft. By that time my arm had healed, and both my hands were at
my service again. At first, I found my helplessness appalling.
I had never done any carpentry or such-like work in my life, and I spent
day after day in experimental chopping and binding among the trees.
I had no ropes, and could hit on nothing wherewith to make ropes;
none of the abundant creepers seemed limber or strong enough,
and with all my litter of scientific education I could not devise
any way of making them so. I spent more than a fortnight
grubbing among the black ruins of the enclosure and on
the beach where the boats had been burnt, looking for nails
and other stray pieces of metal that might prove of service.
Now and then some Beast-creature would watch me, and go leaping
off when I called to it. There came a season of thunder-storms
and heavy rain, which greatly retarded my work; but at last the raft
I was delighted with it. But with a certain lack of practical sense
which has always been my bane, I had made it a mile or more from the sea;
and before I had dragged it down to the beach the thing had fallen
to pieces. Perhaps it is as well that I was saved from launching it;
but at the time my misery at my failure was so acute that for some
days I simply moped on the beach, and stared at the water and thought
I did not, however, mean to die, and an incident occurred that warned
me unmistakably of the folly of letting the days pass so,--for each
fresh day was fraught with increasing danger from the Beast People.
I was lying in the shade of the enclosure wall, staring out to sea,
when I was startled by something cold touching the skin of my heel,
and starting round found the little pink sloth-creature blinking
into my face. He had long since lost speech and active movement,
and the lank hair of the little brute grew thicker every day and his
stumpy claws more askew. He made a moaning noise when he was he had
attracted my attention, went a little way towards the bushes and looked
back at me.
At first I did not understand, but presently it occurred to me that
he wished me to follow him; and this I did at last,--slowly, for the day
was hot. When we reached the trees he clambered into them, for he could
travel better among their swinging creepers than on the ground.
And suddenly in a trampled space I came upon a ghastly group.
My Saint-Bernard-creature lay on the ground, dead; and near
his body crouched the Hyena-swine, gripping the quivering flesh
with its misshapen claws, gnawing at it, and snarling with delight.
As I approached, the monster lifted its glaring eyes to mine,
its lips went trembling back from its red-stained teeth,
and it growled menacingly. It was not afraid and not ashamed;
the last vestige of the human taint had vanished. I advanced a step
farther, stopped, and pulled out my revolver. At last I had him face
The brute made no sign of retreat; but its ears went back,
its hair bristled, and its body crouched together.
I aimed between the eyes and fired. As I did so, the Thing rose
straight at me in a leap, and I was knocked over like a ninepin.
It clutched at me with its crippled hand, and struck me in the face.
Its spring carried it over me. I fell under the hind part of its body;
but luckily I had hit as I meant, and it had died even as it leapt.
I crawled out from under its unclean weight and stood up trembling,
staring at its quivering body. That danger at least was over;
but this, I knew was only the first of the series of relapses that
I burnt both of the bodies on a pyre of brushwood; but after that I saw
that unless I left the island my death was only a question of time.
The Beast People by that time had, with one or two exceptions,
left the ravine and made themselves lairs according to their taste
among the thickets of the island. Few prowled by day, most of
them slept, and the island might have seemed deserted to a new-comer;
but at night the air was hideous with their calls and howling.
I had half a mind to make a massacre of them; to build traps,
or fight them with my knife. Had I possessed sufficient cartridges,
I should not have hesitated to begin the killing. There could
now be scarcely a score left of the dangerous carnivores;
the braver of these were already dead. After the death of this poor
dog of mine, my last friend, I too adopted to some extent the practice
of slumbering in the daytime in order to be on my guard at night.
I rebuilt my den in the walls of the enclosure, with such a narrow
opening that anything attempting to enter must necessarily make
a considerable noise. The creatures had lost the art of fire too,
and recovered their fear of it. I turned once more, almost passionately
now, to hammering together stakes and branches to form a raft for
I found a thousand difficulties. I am an extremely unhandy man
(my schooling was over before the days of Slojd); but most
of the requirements of a raft I met at last in some clumsy,
circuitous way or other, and this time I took care of the strength.
The only insurmountable obstacle was that I had no vessel to contain
the water I should need if I floated forth upon these untravelled seas.
I would have even tried pottery, but the island contained no clay.
I used to go moping about the island trying with all my might
to solve this one last difficulty. Sometimes I would give
way to wild outbursts of rage, and hack and splinter some
unlucky tree in my intolerable vexation. But I could think
And then came a day, a wonderful day, which I spent in ecstasy.
I saw a sail to the southwest, a small sail like that of a little schooner;
and forthwith I lit a great pile of brushwood, and stood by it in
the heat of it, and the heat of the midday sun, watching. All day I
watched that sail, eating or drinking nothing, so that my head reeled;
and the Beasts came and glared at me, and seemed to wonder,
and went away. It was still distant when night came and swallowed
it up; and all night I toiled to keep my blaze bright and high,
and the eyes of the Beasts shone out of the darkness, marvelling.
In the dawn the sail was nearer, and I saw it was the dirty
lug-sail of a small boat. But it sailed strangely. My eyes were
weary with watching, and I peered and could not believe them.
Two men were in the boat, sitting low down,--one by the bows,
the other at the rudder. The head was not kept to the wind; it yawed and
As the day grew brighter, I began waving the last rag of my jacket to them;
but they did not notice me, and sat still, facing each other. I went
to the lowest point of the low headland, and gesticulated and shouted.
There was no response, and the boat kept on her aimless course,
making slowly, very slowly, for the bay. Suddenly a great white bird
flew up out of the boat, and neither of the men stirred nor noticed it;
it circled round, and then came sweeping overhead with its strong
Then I stopped shouting, and sat down on the headland and rested my chin
on my hands and stared. Slowly, slowly, the boat drove past towards
the west. I would have swum out to it, but something--a cold, vague fear--
kept me back. In the afternoon the tide stranded the boat, and left it
a hundred yards or so to the westward of the ruins of the enclosure.
The men in it were dead, had been dead so long that they fell
to pieces when I tilted the boat on its side and dragged them out.
One had a shock of red hair, like the captain of the "Ipecacuanha," and
a dirty white cap lay in the bottom of the boat.
As I stood beside the boat, three of the Beasts came slinking
out of the bushes and sniffing towards me. One of my spasms
of disgust came upon me. I thrust the little boat down the beach
and clambered on board her. Two of the brutes were Wolf-beasts,
and came forward with quivering nostrils and glittering eyes;
the third was the horrible nondescript of bear and bull.
When I saw them approaching those wretched remains, heard them
snarling at one another and caught the gleam of their teeth,
a frantic horror succeeded my repulsion. I turned my back upon them,
struck the lug and began paddling out to sea. I could not bring myself
to look behind me.
I lay, however, between the reef and the island that night,
and the next morning went round to the stream and filled the empty
keg aboard with water. Then, with such patience as I could command,
I collected a quantity of fruit, and waylaid and killed two rabbits
with my last three cartridges. While I was doing this I left
the boat moored to an inward projection of the reef, for fear
of the Beast People.
XXII. THE MAN ALONE.
IN the evening I started, and drove out to sea before a gentle wind
from the southwest, slowly, steadily; and the island grew smaller
and smaller, and the lank spire of smoke dwindled to a finer and
finer line against the hot sunset. The ocean rose up around me,
hiding that low, dark patch from my eyes. The daylight, the trailing
glory of the sun, went streaming out of the sky, was drawn aside
like some luminous curtain, and at last I looked into the blue
gulf of immensity which the sunshine hides, and saw the floating
hosts of the stars. The sea was silent, the sky was silent.
I was alone with the night and silence.
So I drifted for three days, eating and drinking sparingly, and meditating
upon all that had happened to me,--not desiring very greatly then to see
men again. One unclean rag was about me, my hair a black tangle:
no doubt my discoverers thought me a madman.
It is strange, but I felt no desire to return to mankind.
I was only glad to be quit of the foulness of the Beast People.
And on the third day I was picked up by a brig from Apia to San Francisco.
Neither the captain nor the mate would believe my story, judging that
solitude and danger had made me mad; and fearing their opinion might
be that of others, I refrained from telling my adventure further,
and professed to recall nothing that had happened to me between
the loss of the "Lady Vain" and the time when I was picked up again,--
the space of a year.
I had to act with the utmost circumspection to save myself from the
suspicion of insanity. My memory of the Law, of the two dead sailors,
of the ambuscades of the darkness, of the body in the canebrake,
haunted me; and, unnatural as it seems, with my return to mankind came,
instead of that confidence and sympathy I had expected, a strange
enhancement of the uncertainty and dread I had experienced
during my stay upon the island. No one would believe me;
I was almost as queer to men as I had been to the Beast People.
I may have caught something of the natural wildness of my companions.
They say that terror is a disease, and anyhow I can witness that for
several years now a restless fear has dwelt in my mind,--such a restless
fear as a half-tamed lion cub may feel.
My trouble took the strangest form. I could not persuade myself
that the men and women I met were not also another Beast People,
animals half wrought into the outward image of human souls, and that they
would presently begin to revert,--to show first this bestial mark
and then that. But I have confided my case to a strangely able man,--
a man who had known Moreau, and seemed half to credit my story;
a mental specialist,--and he has helped me mightily, though I do not
expect that the terror of that island will ever altogether leave me.
At most times it lies far in the back of my mind, a mere distant cloud,
a memory, and a faint distrust; but there are times when the little
cloud spreads until it obscures the whole sky. Then I look about me
at my fellow-men; and I go in fear. I see faces, keen and bright;
others dull or dangerous; others, unsteady, insincere,--none that
have the calm authority of a reasonable soul. I feel as though
the animal was surging up through them; that presently the degradation
of the Islanders will be played over again on a larger scale.
I know this is an illusion; that these seeming men and women about
me are indeed men and women,--men and women for ever, perfectly
reasonable creatures, full of human desires and tender solicitude,
emancipated from instinct and the slaves of no fantastic Law,--
beings altogether different from the Beast Folk. Yet I shrink
from them, from their curious glances, their inquiries and assistance,
and long to be away from them and alone. For that reason I live near
the broad free downland, and can escape thither when this shadow
is over my soul; and very sweet is the empty downland then, under the
When I lived in London the horror was well-nigh insupportable.
I could not get away from men: their voices came through windows;
locked doors were flimsy safeguards. I would go out into the streets
to fight with my delusion, and prowling women would mew after me;
furtive, craving men glance jealously at me; weary, pale workers
go coughing by me with tired eyes and eager paces, like wounded
deer dripping blood; old people, bent and dull, pass murmuring
to themselves; and, all unheeding, a ragged tail of gibing children.
Then I would turn aside into some chapel,--and even there,
such was my disturbance, it seemed that the preacher gibbered
"Big Thinks," even as the Ape-man had done; or into some library,
and there the intent faces over the books seemed but patient
creatures waiting for prey. Particularly nauseous were the blank,
expressionless faces of people in trains and omnibuses;
they seemed no more my fellow-creatures than dead bodies would be,
so that I did not dare to travel unless I was assured of being alone.
And even it seemed that I too was not a reasonable creature,
but only an animal tormented with some strange disorder in its
brain which sent it to wander alone, like a sheep stricken
This is a mood, however, that comes to me now, I thank God,
more rarely. I have withdrawn myself from the confusion of cities
and multitudes, and spend my days surrounded by wise books,--
bright windows in this life of ours, lit by the shining souls of men.
I see few strangers, and have but a small household.
My days I devote to reading and to experiments in chemistry,
and I spend many of the clear nights in the study of astronomy.
There is--though I do not know how there is or why there is--a sense
of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven.
There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter,
and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever
is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope,
or I could not live.
And so, in hope and solitude, my story ends.
NOTE. The substance of the chapter entitled "Doctor Moreau explains,"
which contains the essential idea of the story, appeared as a middle
article in the "Saturday Review" in January, 1895. This is
the only portion of this story that has been previously published,
and it has been entirely recast to adapt it to the narrative form.
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