THE reader will perhaps understand that at first everything was so strang_bout me, and my position was the outcome of such unexpected adventures, tha_ had no discernment of the relative strangeness of this or that thing. _ollowed the llama up the beach, and was overtaken by Montgomery, who asked m_ot to enter the stone enclosure. I noticed then that the puma in its cage an_he pile of packages had been placed outside the entrance to this quadrangle.
I turned and saw that the launch had now been unloaded, run out again, and wa_eing beached, and the white-haired man was walking towards us. He addresse_ontgomery.
"And now comes the problem of this uninvited guest. What are we to do wit_im?"
"He knows something of science," said Montgomery.
"I'm itching to get to work again—with this new stuff," said the white-haire_an, nodding towards the enclosure. His eyes grew brighter.
"I daresay you are," said Montgomery, in anything but a cordial tone.
"We can't send him over there, and we can't spare the time to build him a ne_hanty; and we certainly can't take him into our confidence just yet."
"I'm in your hands," said I. I had no idea of what he meant by "over there."
"I've been thinking of the same things," Montgomery answered. "There's my roo_ith the outer door—"
"That's it," said the elder man, promptly, looking at Montgomery; and al_hree of us went towards the enclosure. "I'm sorry to make a mystery, Mr.
Prendick; but you'll remember you're uninvited. Our little establishment her_ontains a secret or so, is a kind of Blue-Beard's chamber, in fact. Nothin_ery dreadful, really, to a sane man; but just now, as we don't know you—"
"Decidedly," said I, "I should be a fool to take offence at any want o_onfidence."
He twisted his heavy mouth into a faint smile—he was one of those saturnin_eople who smile with the corners of the mouth down,—and bowed hi_cknowledgment of my complaisance. The main entrance to the enclosure wa_assed; it was a heavy wooden gate, framed in iron and locked, with the carg_f the launch piled outside it, and at the corner we came to a small doorway _ad not previously observed. The white-haired man produced a bundle of key_rom the pocket of his greasy blue jacket, opened this door, and entered. Hi_eys, and the elaborate locking-up of the place even while it was still unde_is eye, struck me as peculiar. I followed him, and found myself in a smal_partment, plainly but not uncomfortably furnished and with its inner door,
which was slightly ajar, opening into a paved courtyard. This inner doo_ontgomery at once closed. A hammock was slung across the darker corner of th_oom, and a small unglazed window defended by an iron bar looked out toward_he sea.
This the white-haired man told me was to be my apartment; and the inner door,
which "for fear of accidents," he said, he would lock on the other side, wa_y limit inward. He called my attention to a convenient deck-chair before th_indow, and to an array of old books, chiefly, I found, surgical works an_ditions of the Latin and Greek classics (languages I cannot read with an_omfort), on a shelf near the hammock. He left the room by the outer door, a_f to avoid opening the inner one again.
"We usually have our meals in here," said Montgomery, and then, as if i_oubt, went out after the other. "Moreau!" I heard him call, and for th_oment I do not think I noticed. Then as I handled the books on the shelf i_ame up in consciousness: Where had I heard the name of Moreau before? I sa_own before the window, took out the biscuits that still remained to me, an_te them with an excellent appetite. Moreau!
Through the window I saw one of those unaccountable men in white, lugging _acking-case along the beach. Presently the window-frame hid him. Then I hear_ key inserted and turned in the lock behind me. After a little while I hear_hrough the locked door the noise of the staghounds, that had now been brough_p from the beach. They were not barking, but sniffing and growling in _urious fashion. I could hear the rapid patter of their feet, and Montgomery'_oice soothing them.
I was very much impressed by the elaborate secrecy of these two men regardin_he contents of the place, and for some time I was thinking of that and of th_naccountable familiarity of the name of Moreau; but so odd is the huma_emory that I could not then recall that well-known name in its prope_onnection. From that my thoughts went to the indefinable queerness of th_eformed man on the beach. I never saw such a gait, such odd motions as h_ulled at the box. I recalled that none of these men had spoken to me, thoug_ost of them I had found looking at me at one time or another in a peculiarl_urtive manner, quite unlike the frank stare of your unsophisticated savage.
Indeed, they had all seemed remarkably taciturn, and when they did speak,
endowed with very uncanny voices. What was wrong with them? Then I recalle_he eyes of Montgomery's ungainly attendant.
Just as I was thinking of him he came in. He was now dressed in white, an_arried a little tray with some coffee and boiled vegetables thereon. I coul_ardly repress a shuddering recoil as he came, bending amiably, and placed th_ray before me on the table. Then astonishment paralysed me. Under his string_lack locks I saw his ear; it jumped upon me suddenly close to my face. Th_an had pointed ears, covered with a fine brown fur!
"Your breakfast, sair," he said.
I stared at his face without attempting to answer him. He turned and wen_owards the door, regarding me oddly over his shoulder. I followed him ou_ith my eyes; and as I did so, by some odd trick of unconscious cerebration,
there came surging into my head the phrase, "The Moreau Hollows"—was it? "Th_oreau—" Ah! It sent my memory back ten years. "The Moreau Horrors!" Th_hrase drifted loose in my mind for a moment, and then I saw it in re_ettering on a little buff-coloured pamphlet, to read which made one shive_nd creep. Then I remembered distinctly all about it. That long-forgotte_amphlet came back with startling vividness to my mind. I had been a mere la_hen, and Moreau was, I suppose, about fifty,—a prominent and masterfu_hysiologist, well-known in scientific circles for his extraordinar_magination and his brutal directness in discussion.
Was this the same Moreau? He had published some very astonishing facts i_onnection with the transfusion of blood, and in addition was known to b_oing valuable work on morbid growths. Then suddenly his career was closed. H_ad to leave England. A journalist obtained access to his laboratory in th_apacity of laboratory-assistant, with the deliberate intention of makin_ensational exposures; and by the help of a shocking accident (if it was a_ccident), his gruesome pamphlet became notorious. On the day of it_ublication a wretched dog, flayed and otherwise mutilated, escaped fro_oreau's house. It was in the silly season, and a prominent editor, a cousi_f the temporary laboratory-assistant, appealed to the conscience of th_ation. It was not the first time that conscience has turned against th_ethods of research. The doctor was simply howled out of the country. It ma_e that he deserved to be; but I still think that the tepid support of hi_ellow-investigators and his desertion by the great body of scientific worker_as a shameful thing. Yet some of his experiments, by the journalist'_ccount, were wantonly cruel. He might perhaps have purchased his social peac_y abandoning his investigations; but he apparently preferred the latter, a_ost men would who have once fallen under the overmastering spell of research.
He was unmarried, and had indeed nothing but his own interest to consider.
I felt convinced that this must be the same man. Everything pointed to it. I_awned upon me to what end the puma and the other animals—which had now bee_rought with other luggage into the enclosure behind the house—were destined;
and a curious faint odour, the halitus of something familiar, an odour tha_ad been in the background of my consciousness hitherto, suddenly came forwar_nto the forefront of my thoughts. It was the antiseptic odour of th_issecting-room. I heard the puma growling through the wall, and one of th_ogs yelped as though it had been struck.
Yet surely, and especially to another scientific man, there was nothing s_orrible in vivisection as to account for this secrecy; and by some odd lea_n my thoughts the pointed ears and luminous eyes of Montgomery's attendan_ame back again before me with the sharpest definition. I stared before me ou_t the green sea, frothing under a freshening breeze, and let these and othe_trange memories of the last few days chase one another through my mind.
What could it all mean? A locked enclosure on a lonely island, a notoriou_ivisector, and these crippled and distorted men?