The Island of Doctor Moreau
The Hunting of the Man
IT came before my mind with an unreasonable hope of escape that the outer door of my
room was still open to me. I was convinced now, absolutely assured, that Moreau had
been vivisecting a human being. All the time since I had heard his name, I had been
trying to link in my mind in some way the grotesque animalism of the islanders with his
abominations; and now I thought I saw it all. The memory of his work on the transfusion
of blood recurred to me. These creatures I had seen were the victims of some hideous
experiment. These sickening scoundrels had merely intended to keep me back, to fool me
with their display of confidence, and presently to fall upon me with a fate more horrible
than death,--with torture; and after torture the most hideous degradation it is possible to
conceive,--to send me off a lost soul, a beast, to the rest of their Comus rout.
I looked round for some weapon. Nothing. Then with an inspiration I turned over the
deck chair, put my foot on the side of it, and tore away the side rail. It happened that a
nail came away with the wood, and projecting, gave a touch of danger to an otherwise
petty weapon. I heard a step outside, and incontinently flung open the door and found
Montgomery within a yard of it. He meant to lock the outer door! I raised this nailed stick
of mine and cut at his face; but he sprang back. I hesitated a moment, then turned and
fled, round the corner of the house. "Prendick, man!" I heard his astonished cry, "don't be
a silly ass, man!"
Another minute, thought I, and he would have had me locked in, and as ready as a
hospital rabbit for my fate. He emerged behind the corner, for I heard him shout,
"Prendick!" Then he began to run after me, shouting things as he ran. This time running
blindly, I went northeastward in a direction at right angles to my previous expedition.
Once, as I went running headlong up the beach, I glanced over my shoulder and saw his
attendant with him. I ran furiously up the slope, over it, then turning eastward along a
rocky valley fringed on either side with jungle I ran for perhaps a mile altogether, my
chest straining, my heart beating in my ears; and then hearing nothing of Montgomery or
his man, and feeling upon the verge of exhaustion, I doubled sharply back towards the
beach as I judged, and lay down in the shelter of a canebrake. There I remained for a long
time, too fearful to move, and indeed too fearful even to plan a course of action. The wild
scene about me lay sleeping silently under the sun, and the only sound near me was the
thin hum of some small gnats that had discovered me. Presently I became aware of a
drowsy breathing sound, the soughing of the sea upon the beach.
After about an hour I heard Montgomery shouting my name, far away to the north. That
set me thinking of my plan of action. As I interpreted it then, this island was inhabited
only by these two vivisectors and their animalised victims. Some of these no doubt they
could press into their service against me if need arose. I knew both Moreau and
Montgomery carried revolvers; and, save for a feeble bar of deal spiked with a small nail,
the merest mockery of a mace, I was unarmed.