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Chapter 7 The Locked Door

  • 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?