The Island of Doctor Moreau
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,