The Island of Doctor Moreau
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