The Island of Doctor Moreau HTML version

The Thing in the Forest
I STRODE through the undergrowth that clothed the ridge behind the house, scarcely
heeding whither I went; passed on through the shadow of a thick cluster of straight-
stemmed trees beyond it, and so presently found myself some way on the other side of
the ridge, and descending towards a streamlet that ran through a narrow valley. I paused
and listened. The distance I had come, or the intervening masses of thicket, deadened any
sound that might be coming from the enclosure. The air was still. Then with a rustle a
rabbit emerged, and went scampering up the slope before me. I hesitated, and sat down in
the edge of the shade.
The place was a pleasant one. The rivulet was hidden by the luxuriant vegetation of the
banks save at one point, where I caught a triangular patch of its glittering water. On the
farther side I saw through a bluish haze a tangle of trees and creepers, and above these
again the luminous blue of the sky. Here and there a splash of white or crimson marked
the blooming of some trailing epiphyte. I let my eyes wander over this scene for a while,
and then began to turn over in my mind again the strange peculiarities of Montgomery's
man. But it was too hot to think elaborately, and presently I fell into a tranquil state
midway between dozing and waking.
From this I was aroused, after I know not how long, by a rustling amidst the greenery on
the other side of the stream. For a moment I could see nothing but the waving summits of
the ferns and reeds. Then suddenly upon the bank of the stream appeared Something--at
first I could not distinguish what it was. It bowed its round head to the water, and began
to drink. Then I saw it was a man, going on all-fours like a beast. He was clothed in
bluish cloth, and was of a copper-coloured hue, with black hair. It seemed that grotesque
ugliness was an invariable character of these islanders. I could hear the suck of the water
at his lips as he drank.
I leant forward to see him better, and a piece of lava, detached by my hand, went
pattering down the slope. He looked up guiltily, and his eyes met mine. Forthwith he
scrambled to his feet, and stood wiping his clumsy hand across his mouth and regarding
me. His legs were scarcely half the length of his body. So, staring one another out of
countenance, we remained for perhaps the space of a minute. Then, stopping to look back
once or twice, he slunk off among the bushes to the right of me, and I heard the swish of
the fronds grow faint in the distance and die away. Long after he had disappeared, I
remained sitting up staring in the direction of his retreat. My drowsy tranquillity had
I was startled by a noise behind me, and turning suddenly saw the flapping white tail of a
rabbit vanishing up the slope. I jumped to my feet. The apparition of this grotesque, half-
bestial creature had suddenly populated the stillness of the afternoon for me. I looked
around me rather nervously, and regretted that I was unarmed. Then I thought that the
man I had just seen had been clothed in bluish cloth, had not been naked as a savage