H.G. Wells (18661946). The Island of Doctor Moreau. 1896.
II. 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?
Its 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. Im a passenger myself, from Arica. The silly ass who owns her,hes captain too, named Davies,hes lost his certificate, or something. You know the kind of man,calls the thing the Ipecacuanha, of all silly, infernal names; though when theres much of a sea without any wind, she certainly acts according.
You were nearly dead, said my interlocutor. It was a very near thing, indeed. But Ive put some stuff into you now. Notice your arms sore? Injections. Youve been insensible for nearly thirty hours.
He suddenly left the cabin, and I heard him in violent controversy with some one, who seemed to me to talk gibberish in response to him. The matter sounded as though it ended in blows, but in that I thought my ears were mistaken. Then he shouted at the dogs, and returned to the cabin.
He seemed interested in this. Ive done some science myself. I did my Biology at University College,getting out the ovary of the earthworm and the radula of the snail, and all that. Lord! Its ten years ago. But go on! go on! tell me about the boat.
He was evidently satisfied with the frankness of my story, which I told in concise sentences enough, for I felt horribly weak; and when it was finished he reverted at once to the topic of Natural History and his own biological studies. He began to question me closely about Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street. Is Caplatzi still flourishing? What a shop that was! He had evidently been a very ordinary medical student, and drifted incontinently to the topic of the music halls. He told me some anecdotes.
Left it all, he said, ten years ago. How jolly it all used to be! But I made a young ass of myself,played myself out before I was twenty-one. I daresay its all different now. But I must look up that ass of a cook, and see what hes done to your mutton.
The growling overhead was renewed, so suddenly and with so much savage anger that it startled me. Whats that? I called after him, but the door had closed. He came back again with the boiled mutton, and I was so excited by the appetising smell of it that I forgot the noise of the beast that had troubled me.
After a day of alternate sleep and feeding I was so far recovered as to be able to get from my bunk to the scuttle, and see the green seas trying to keep pace with us. I judged the schooner was running before the wind. Montgomerythat was the name of the flaxen-haired mancame in again as I stood there, and I asked him for some clothes. He lent me some duck things of his own, for those I had worn in the boat had been thrown overboard. They were rather loose for me, for he was large and long in his limbs. He told me casually that the captain was three-parts drunk in his own cabin. As I assumed the clothes, I began asking him some questions about the destination of the ship. He said the ship was bound to Hawaii, but that it had to land him first.