‘Don’t,’ said I. ‘It is all the same to me. After all, it is better to keep your secret. There’s nothing gained but a little relief if I respect your confidence. If I don’t—well?’
He grunted undecidedly. I felt I had him at a disadvan- tage, had caught him in the mood of indiscretion; and to tell the truth I was not curious to learn what might have driven a young medical student out of London. I have an imagina- tion. I shrugged my shoulders and turned away. Over the taffrail leant a silent black figure, watching the stars. It was Montgomery’s strange attendant. It looked over its shoulder quickly with my movement, then looked away again.
It may seem a little thing to you, perhaps, but it came like a sudden blow to me. The only light near us was a lantern at the wheel. The creature’s face was turned for one brief instant out of the dimness of the stern towards this illumi- nation, and I saw that the eyes that glanced at me shone with a pale-green light. I did not know then that a reddish lumi- nosity, at least, is not uncommon in human eyes. The thing came to me as stark inhumanity. That black figure with its eyes of fire struck down through all my adult thoughts and feelings, and for a moment the forgotten horrors of child- hood came back to my mind. Then the effect passed as it had come. An uncouth black figure of a man, a figure of no particular import, hung over the taffrail against the star- light, and I found Montgomery was speaking to me.
‘I’m thinking of turning in, then,’ said he, ‘if you’ve had enough of this.’
I answered him incongruously. We went below, and he wished me good-night at the door of my cabin.
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That night I had some very unpleasant dreams. The wan- ing moon rose late. Its light struck a ghostly white beam across my cabin, and made an ominous shape on the plank- ing by my bunk. Then the staghounds woke, and began howling and baying; so that I dreamt fitfully, and scarcely slept until the approach of dawn.
The Island of Doctor Moreau��
V. THE MAN WHO HAD NOWHERE TO GO.
IN the early morning (it was the second morning after my recovery, and I believe the fourth after I was picked up), I awoke through an avenue of tumultuous dreams,— dreams of guns and howling mobs,—and became sensible of a hoarse shouting above me. I rubbed my eyes and lay listening to the noise, doubtful for a little while of my whereabouts. Then came a sudden pattering of bare feet, the sound of heavy objects being thrown about, a violent creak- ing and the rattling of chains. I heard the swish of the water as the ship was suddenly brought round, and a foamy yel- low-green wave flew across the little round window and left it streaming. I jumped into my clothes and went on deck.
As I came up the ladder I saw against the flushed sky— for the sun was just rising—the broad back and red hair of the captain, and over his shoulder the puma spinning from a tackle rigged on to the mizzen spanker-boom.
The poor brute seemed horribly scared, and crouched in the bottom of its little cage.
‘Overboard with ‘em!’ bawled the captain. ‘Overboard with ‘em! We’ll have a clean ship soon of the whole bilin’ of ‘em.’
He stood in my way, so that I had perforce to tap his
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shoulder to come on deck. He came round with a start, and staggered back a few paces to stare at me. It needed no ex- pert eye to tell that the man was still drunk.
‘Hullo!’ said he, stupidly; and then with a light coming into his eyes, ‘Why, it’s Mister—Mister?’
‘Prendick,’ said I. ‘Pendick be damned!’ said he. ‘Shut-up,—that’s your
name. Mister Shut-up.’ It was no good answering the brute; but I certainly did
not expect his next move. He held out his hand to the gang- way by which Montgomery stood talking to a massive grey-haired man in dirty-blue flannels, who had apparently just come aboard.
‘That way, Mister Blasted Shut-up! that way!’ roared the captain.