فصل 10

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فصل 10

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  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
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Chapter ten

The Taste of Blood

When I woke the next morning, Moreau was already busy in the laboratory. Montgomery and I escaped the puma’s cries and went for a walk around the island. We soon met the ape-man and one of the pig-men.

‘We greet you, Other-with-a-gun,’ they said to Montgomery.

‘There’s a Third-with-a-gun now,’ Montgomery said, ‘so don’t do anything stupid.’

The pig-man looked at me. ‘The Third-with-a-gun, the Walker-with-tears-in-the-sea, has a thin white face,’ he said.

‘He has a thin black gun too,’ said Montgomery.

‘Yesterday he was crying and losing blood. You and the Master never cry. You never lose blood,’ said the ape-man.

‘You’ll cry and lose blood soon if you’re not careful,’ Montgomery replied. ‘Come on, Prendick.’ He took my arm and we walked away.

The pig-man and ape-man stood watching us. ‘Men speak, but this one says nothing,’ said the pig-man.

‘Yesterday he asked me about things to eat,’ said his friend. ‘He didn’t know.’

I did not hear the rest of their conversation, but they were laughing.

Later we saw a dead rabbit, half eaten and without its head.

‘Damn!’ said Montgomery. ‘What can this mean?’ He looked carefully at the rabbit’s body.

‘I saw something like it on my first day here,’ I said.

‘Really? On your first day?’ he asked.

‘Yes. And I think I know the killer too. I can’t be sure. But just before I found the rabbit, I saw one of your monsters by a stream. It was drinking like an animal, without its hands.’

‘Don’t drink without cups. That is the Law. Are we not men?’ said Montgomery with a worried laugh. ‘As soon as they’re alone, they forget about the Law. And it’s worst in the evening. They’re most like animals when it’s getting dark.’ He stopped to think. ‘But that’s interesting,’ he continued. ‘Meat-eaters always like a drink after a kill. It’s the taste of blood, you see - salty.’

‘Well, the thing at the stream was the same monster that ran after me later on the beach.’

‘Will you know him if you see him again?’ asked Montgomery. He looked around us and checked his gun.

‘I didn’t see him very well, but I hit him hard with a stone. He’ll probably still have some blood on his head.’

‘I’m sure it was the leopard-man,’ said Montgomery. ‘Or perhaps one of the other big cats. But how can we prove that he killed the rabbit too? Damn rabbits! It was a big mistake to bring them here.’

I started to walk back to the house. Montgomery did not move.

‘Let’s go!’ I called.

Finally he joined me. ‘This is serious, Prendick,’ he said. ‘They mustn’t learn to enjoy meat. If they do, well… we’re all in trouble.’

Back at the house, Moreau agreed that the problem was very serious. That afternoon, the three of us and M’ling walked across the island to an open space near the animal-people’s huts. Moreau took a little pipe from his pocket and put it to his mouth. It made a surprisingly loud noise. Soon the animal-people started to arrive: two of the pig-men first, then a big horse-person and a terrible bear-woman. When they saw Moreau, they dropped to the ground.

‘His hands are the Hands that hurt.

‘His hands are the Hands that make.

‘His hands are the Hands that mend,’ they said, throwing earth on their heads.

More and more animal-people were coming out of the trees, singly or in pairs, to join them in this strange activity.

‘Sixty-two, sixty-three,’ counted Moreau. ‘There are four more.’

‘I can’t see my attacker,’ I said.

Moreau made the noise with his pipe again. Finally, at the back of the crowd, I saw my attacker join the rest. There was a dark line of blood on his head.

‘The leopard-man,’ Montgomery said quietly in my ear.

‘Stop!’ said Moreau, in a loud, strong voice.

The animal-people sat on the ground and stopped talking.

‘Where is the Sayer of the Law?’ asked Moreau, and the hairy grey monster stood up.

‘Say the words,’ said Moreau.

The grey monster and the others began the words of the Law. When they reached ‘Don’t eat meat or fish. That is the Law,’ Moreau held up his hand.

‘Stop!’ he cried. The crowd was suddenly silent. They looked nervously at their neighbours, waiting for Moreau’s next words.

‘Someone has broken that Law,’ he said.

‘No one escapes,’ said the Sayer of the Law.

‘No one escapes,’ repeated the rest of the crowd.

‘Who was it?’ asked Moreau, looking from face to face. The leopard-man looked worried, and some of the other big cats too.

Moreau stood in front of the leopard-man. ‘Who was it?’ he asked again in a terrible voice. ‘If you break the Law…’ he said, turning to the crowd.

‘… you go back to the House of Pain,’ the crowd continued.

‘The House of Pain, the House of Pain!’ cried the ape-man in excitement.

Suddenly the leopard-man jumped at Moreau. Moreau fell back. The leopard-man ran away and the crowd followed. I followed with them, behind M’ling and Moreau. I found myself next to the bear-woman. ‘No one escapes,’ she laughed excitedly as we hurried through the trees.

We ran in the heat of the day for thirty minutes or more. Finally the leopard-man was in a corner of the island and could not escape us. But he was hiding.

We walked slowly towards the sea in a long line.

‘Careful!’ cried Montgomery. ‘He’ll move suddenly when we find him.’

‘Back to the House of Pain, the House of Pain, the House of Pain,’ sang the ape-man.

Suddenly I saw a pair of green eyes shining out from under the plants. It was the leopard-man! I will never forget the fear in those eyes. He already knew the pain that waited for him in Moreau’s laboratory.

It was kinder to kill him quickly. I got out my gun and shot him between the eyes. He fell to the ground, dead.

In the same second, two of the other big cats jumped at him and bit deeply into his neck. Other faces came towards us.

‘Don’t kill him!’ cried Moreau. Then he saw that it was too late. ‘Damn it, Prendick!’ he said. ‘I wanted him in the laboratory!’

We pulled the meat-eaters away from the body. Then I walked away from the crowd.

I watched them take the body into the sea. All the animal-people still seemed very excited. I suddenly felt sick as I thought about the sad lives of these monsters. The problem was not only their pain in Moreau’s laboratory. They then spent every day of their lives fighting against the animal in them. It was an impossible fight. In secret, they all broke the Law in their different ways. And the fear of the House of Pain never left them.

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