The Island of Doctor Moreau HTML version
The Evil-Looking Boatmen
BUT the islanders, seeing that I was really adrift, took pity on me. I drifted very slowly to
the eastward, approaching the island slantingly; and presently I saw, with hysterical
relief, the launch come round and return towards me. She was heavily laden, and I could
make out as she drew nearer Montgomery's white-haired, broad-shouldered companion
sitting cramped up with the dogs and several packing-cases in the stern sheets. This
individual stared fixedly at me without moving or speaking. The black-faced cripple was
glaring at me as fixedly in the bows near the puma. There were three other men besides,--
three strange brutish-looking fellows, at whom the staghounds were snarling savagely.
Montgomery, who was steering, brought the boat by me, and rising, caught and fastened
my painter to the tiller to tow me, for there was no room aboard.
I had recovered from my hysterical phase by this time and answered his hail, as he
approached, bravely enough. I told him the dingey was nearly swamped, and he reached
me a piggin. I was jerked back as the rope tightened between the boats. For some time I
was busy baling.
It was not until I had got the water under (for the water in the dingey had been shipped;
the boat was perfectly sound) that I had leisure to look at the people in the launch again.
The white-haired man I found was still regarding me steadfastly, but with an expression,
as I now fancied, of some perplexity. When my eyes met his, he looked down at the
staghound that sat between his knees. He was a powerfully-built man, as I have said, with
a fine forehead and rather heavy features; but his eyes had that odd drooping of the skin
above the lids which often comes with advancing years, and the fall of his heavy mouth
at the corners gave him an expression of pugnacious resolution. He talked to
Montgomery in a tone too low for me to hear.
From him my eyes travelled to his three men; and a strange crew they were. I saw only
their faces, yet there was something in their faces-- I knew not what--that gave me a
queer spasm of disgust. I looked steadily at them, and the impression did not pass, though
I failed to see what had occasioned it. They seemed to me then to be brown men; but their
limbs were oddly swathed in some thin, dirty, white stuff down even to the fingers and
feet: I have never seen men so wrapped up before, and women so only in the East. They
wore turbans too, and thereunder peered out their elfin faces at me,--faces with
protruding lower-jaws and bright eyes. They had lank black hair, almost like horsehair,
and seemed as they sat to exceed in stature any race of men I have seen. The white-haired
man, who I knew was a good six feet in height, sat a head below any one of the three. I
found afterwards that really none were taller than myself; but their bodies were
abnormally long, and the thigh-part of the leg short and curiously twisted. At any rate,
they were an amazingly ugly gang, and over the heads of them under the forward lug
peered the black face of the man whose eyes were luminous in the dark. As I stared at
them, they met my gaze; and then first one and then another turned away from my direct