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Chapter 10 The Crying of the Man

  • AS I drew near the house I saw that the light shone from the open door of m_oom; and then I heard coming from out of the darkness at the side of tha_range oblong of light, the voice of Montgomery shouting, "Prendick!" _ontinued running. Presently I heard him again. I replied by a feeble "Hullo!"
  • and in another moment had staggered up to him.
  • "Where have you been?" said he, holding me at arm's length, so that the ligh_rom the door fell on my face. "We have both been so busy that we forgot yo_ntil about half an hour ago." He led me into the room and sat me down in th_eck chair. For awhile I was blinded by the light. "We did not think you woul_tart to explore this island of ours without telling us," he said; and then,
  • "I was afraid—But—what—Hullo!"
  • My last remaining strength slipped from me, and my head fell forward on m_hest. I think he found a certain satisfaction in giving me brandy.
  • "For God's sake," said I, "fasten that door."
  • "You've been meeting some of our curiosities, eh?" said he.
  • He locked the door and turned to me again. He asked me no questions, but gav_e some more brandy and water and pressed me to eat. I was in a state o_ollapse. He said something vague about his forgetting to warn me, and aske_e briefly when I left the house and what I had seen.
  • I answered him as briefly, in fragmentary sentences. "Tell me what it al_eans," said I, in a state bordering on hysterics.
  • "It's nothing so very dreadful," said he. "But I think you have had abou_nough for one day." The puma suddenly gave a sharp yell of pain. At that h_wore under his breath. "I'm damned," said he, "if this place is not as bad a_ower Street, with its cats."
  • "Montgomery," said I, "what was that thing that came after me? Was it a beas_r was it a man?"
  • "If you don't sleep to-night," he said, "you'll be off your head to-morrow."
  • I stood up in front of him. "What was that thing that came after me?" I asked.
  • He looked me squarely in the eyes, and twisted his mouth askew. His eyes,
  • which had seemed animated a minute before, went dull. "From your account,"
  • said he, "I'm thinking it was a bogle."
  • I felt a gust of intense irritation, which passed as quickly as it came. _lung myself into the chair again, and pressed my hands on my forehead. Th_uma began once more.
  • Montgomery came round behind me and put his hand on my shoulder. "Look here,
  • Prendick," he said, "I had no business to let you drift out into this sill_sland of ours. But it's not so bad as you feel, man. Your nerves are worke_o rags. Let me give you something that will make you sleep. That—will keep o_or hours yet. You must simply get to sleep, or I won't answer for it."
  • I did not reply. I bowed forward, and covered my face with my hands. Presentl_e returned with a small measure containing a dark liquid. This he gave me. _ook it unresistingly, and he helped me into the hammock.
  • When I awoke, it was broad day. For a little while I lay flat, staring at th_oof above me. The rafters, I observed, were made out of the timbers of _hip. Then I turned my head, and saw a meal prepared for me on the table. _erceived that I was hungry, and prepared to clamber out of the hammock,
  • which, very politely anticipating my intention, twisted round and deposited m_pon all-fours on the floor.
  • I got up and sat down before the food. I had a heavy feeling in my head, an_nly the vaguest memory at first of the things that had happened over night.
  • The morning breeze blew very pleasantly through the unglazed window, and tha_nd the food contributed to the sense of animal comfort which I experienced.
  • Presently the door behind me—the door inward towards the yard of th_nclosure—opened. I turned and saw Montgomery's face.
  • "All right," said he. "I'm frightfully busy." And he shut the door.
  • Afterwards I discovered that he forgot to re-lock it. Then I recalled th_xpression of his face the previous night, and with that the memory of all _ad experienced reconstructed itself before me. Even as that fear came back t_e came a cry from within; but this time it was not the cry of a puma. I pu_own the mouthful that hesitated upon my lips, and listened. Silence, save fo_he whisper of the morning breeze. I began to think my ears had deceived me.
  • After a long pause I resumed my meal, but with my ears still vigilant.
  • Presently I heard something else, very faint and low. I sat as if frozen in m_ttitude. Though it was faint and low, it moved me more profoundly than al_hat I had hitherto heard of the abominations behind the wall. There was n_istake this time in the quality of the dim, broken sounds; no doubt at all o_heir source. For it was groaning, broken by sobs and gasps of anguish. It wa_o brute this time; it was a human being in torment!
  • As I realised this I rose, and in three steps had crossed the room, seized th_andle of the door into the yard, and flung it open before me.
  • "Prendick, man! Stop!" cried Montgomery, intervening.
  • A startled deerhound yelped and snarled. There was blood, I saw, in th_ink,—brown, and some scarlet—and I smelt the peculiar smell of carbolic acid.
  • Then through an open doorway beyond, in the dim light of the shadow, I sa_omething bound painfully upon a framework, scarred, red, and bandaged; an_hen blotting this out appeared the face of old Moreau, white and terrible. I_ moment he had gripped me by the shoulder with a hand that was smeared red,
  • had twisted me off my feet, and flung me headlong back into my own room. H_ifted me as though I was a little child. I fell at full length upon th_loor, and the door slammed and shut out the passionate intensity of his face.
  • Then I heard the key turn in the lock, and Montgomery's voice i_xpostulation.
  • "Ruin the work of a lifetime," I heard Moreau say.
  • "He does not understand," said Montgomery. and other things that wer_naudible.
  • "I can't spare the time yet," said Moreau.
  • The rest I did not hear. I picked myself up and stood trembling, my mind _haos of the most horrible misgivings. Could it be possible, I thought, tha_uch a thing as the vivisection of men was carried on here? The question sho_ike lightning across a tumultuous sky; and suddenly the clouded horror of m_ind condensed into a vivid realisation of my own danger.