The Island of Doctor Moreau – Day 20 of 56

X. The Crying of the Man.

As I drew near the house I saw that the light shone from the open door of my room; and then I heard coming from out of the darkness at the side of that orange oblong of light, the voice of Montgomery shouting, “Prendick!” I continued 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 light from the door fell on my face. “We have both been so busy that we forgot you until about half an hour ago.” He led me into the room and sat me down in the deck chair. For awhile I was blinded by the light. “We did not think you would start 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 my chest. 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 gave me some more brandy and water and pressed me to eat. I was in a state of collapse. He said something vague about his forgetting to warn me, and asked me briefly when I left the house and what I had seen.

I answered him as briefly, in fragmentary sentences. “Tell me what it all means,” said I, in a state bordering on hysterics.

“It’s nothing so very dreadful,” said he. “But I think you have had about enough for one day.” The puma suddenly gave a sharp yell of pain. At that he swore under his breath. “I’m damned,” said he, “if this place is not as bad as Gower Street, with its cats.”

“Montgomery,” said I, “what was that thing that came after me? Was it a beast or 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. I flung myself into the chair again, and pressed my hands on my forehead. The puma 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 silly island of ours. But it’s not so bad as you feel, man. Your nerves are worked to rags. Let me give you something that will make you sleep. That—will keep on for hours yet. You must simply get to sleep, or I won’t answer for it.”

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