The Island of Doctor Moreau
The Man Who Was Going Nowhere
THE cabin in which I found myself was small and rather untidy. A youngish man with
flaxen hair, a bristly straw-coloured moustache, and a dropping nether lip, was sitting and
holding my wrist. For a minute we stared at each other without speaking. He had watery
grey eyes, oddly void of expression. Then just overhead came a sound like an iron
bedstead being knocked about, and the low angry growling of some large animal. At the
same time the man spoke. He repeated his question,--"How do you feel now?"
I think I said I felt all right. I could not recollect how I had got there. He must have seen
the question in my face, for my voice was inaccessible to me.
"You were picked up in a boat, starving. The name on the boat was the `Lady Vain,' and
there were spots of blood on the gunwale."
At the same time my eye caught my hand, thin so that it looked like a dirty skin-purse full
of loose bones, and all the business of the boat came back to me.
"Have some of this," said he, and gave me a dose of some scarlet stuff, iced.
It tasted like blood, and made me feel stronger.
"You were in luck," said he, "to get picked up by a ship with a medical man aboard." He
spoke with a slobbering articulation, with the ghost of a lisp.
"What ship is this?" I said slowly, hoarse from my long silence.
"It's a little trader from Arica and Callao. I never asked where she came from in the
beginning,--out of the land of born fools, I guess. I'm a passenger myself, from Arica.
The silly ass who owns her,--he's captain too, named Davies,-- he's lost his certificate, or
something. You know the kind of man,-- calls the thing the `Ipecacuanha,' of all silly,
infernal names; though when there's much of a sea without any wind, she certainly acts
(Then the noise overhead began again, a snarling growl and the voice of a human being
together. Then another voice, telling some "Heaven-forsaken idiot" to desist.)
"You were nearly dead," said my interlocutor. "It was a very near thing, indeed. But I've
put some stuff into you now. Notice your arm's sore? Injections. You've been insensible
for nearly thirty hours."
I thought slowly. (I was distracted now by the yelping of a number of dogs.) "Am I
eligible for solid food?" I asked.
"Thanks to me," he said. "Even now the mutton is boiling."