فصل 03

مجموعه: کتاب های خیلی ساده / کتاب: جزیره دکتر مورائو / فصل 3

کتاب های خیلی ساده

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فصل 03

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Chapter three

Montgomery’s Island

Late that evening, we saw land far out to sea and the ship turned towards it. We were nearing Montgomery’s island.

After supper, Montgomery and I stood outside, talking under the stars. I was interested to know more about his animals and his island home. But he seemed uncomfortable with my questions, so I soon changed the subject. We spoke about London, and about science. But as we talked, my questions grew stronger in my mind. Why was a man of science living on an unknown island in the middle of the Pacific? Why was he taking the puma, rabbits and dogs there? And who was that strange man who worked for him?

I heard a noise behind me and turned. Montgomery’s dark assistant was standing a few steps from us. He looked quickly towards me. For a second or two, his eyes shone red in the lights of the ship. It frightened me terribly. I thought of the stories that I read as a child, of monsters and strange animals of the night. Then the man looked away, and Montgomery was saying, ‘I’m going to bed now. There’ll be lots to do in the morning.’

I followed him down the ladder and went to my room. I slept little that night. I was woken many times, both by the noises of the dogs and by my terrible dreams.

Early the next morning, I woke to a new sound. Someone above me was pushing the animal cages across the ship. I climbed the ladder. At the top, six men were carrying the puma in his cage to the side of the ship. A large man with white hair was now on board, talking to Montgomery. Next to them was a ladder down to, a small boat that was waiting below. The captain, Davis, was there too.

‘We’ll soon have a clean ship again,’ he was shouting. It was clear that he was still drunk.

When the captain saw me, his rudeness from the night before began again. This was no surprise to me, but I never for a second imagined his next move. Pointing to the ladder down the side of the ship, Davis shouted, ‘That way! That way, Mr No-Money!’

‘I don’t understand,’ I said. ‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean that we’re cleaning out the ship. No room for Mr No-Money. It’s time for you to go. That way, I say! That way!’

I looked at the captain in surprise. It was clear from his face that this was not a joke. But I was not too worried. The idea of a journey across the ocean with the drunk captain and his unfriendly sailors was not much fun. And I wanted to find out more about Montgomery and his mysterious island.

I turned to Montgomery. But the white-haired man next to him said quickly, ‘We can’t have you.’

‘You can’t have me?’ I asked, very worried now. ‘Well, Captain…’ I began.

He stopped me. ‘That way now, Mr No-Money. If they don’t want you, we’ll put you back in your boat. The boat from the Lady Vain. You can’t stay with us. Go, I say!’

‘But Montgomery!’ I cried.

He shook his head and looked quickly at the man with white hair.

‘He’s the boss. I can’t help you,’ he seemed to say.

I looked from the captain to Montgomery to the man with white hair. I cried to each man to help me. But none of them listened.

When all of Montgomery’s things were in his master’s boat, it moved away from our ship towards a beach on the island, with Montgomery, his master and M’ling on board. The sailors then threw me roughly into the little boat where my troubles began twelve days before. It was half full of water and had no food or drink on board. They pushed the boat out to sea. I lay in the water at the bottom of it, crying like a baby.

Luckily, Montgomery’s master saw me in my boat and changed his mind. He turned his boat round to help me. I stopped crying, but my need was urgent. With so much water on board, my boat was going down fast.

They had no space for me. There were three men from the island in their boat, with Montgomery, his master, M’ling and all the animals and boxes from the Ipecacuanha. But I used a cup from their boat to get out the water in the bottom of mine. Then we tied the two boats together and they pulled me slowly to land.

As we travelled in this way, I looked more carefully at the people in the boat. I now saw that Montgomerys master, the white-haired man, was quite old - sixty or more. I remembered from the Ipecacuanha that he was a very tall man. But as he sat next to the other three men from the island, his head only reached their shoulders. Were the men of this island the tallest in the world?

Their height was not the only unusual thing about them. They had long, straight, black hair like the hair on a horse’s neck, and they were covered from head to foot in dirty white cotton. Under the cotton, I could see dark, strangely-shaped faces with bright eyes and big teeth. As I looked at them, I started to feel ill. I quickly looked away.

We were nearing the island. There was a beach of grey sand, with tall trees behind it. Between the trees was a simple house circled by a big stone wall.

Soon we landed on the beach. The three men in white cotton helped Montgomery to carry the boxes onto the sand. I realised then that they were not very tall. But their bodies were unusually long, and the top part of their legs very short. Their knees moved in a very strange way when they walked. As the white-haired man passed them with the dogs, the dogs growled angrily at them.

I smiled gratefully as Montgomery’s master came towards me. ‘Montgomery says that you’re a man of science,’ he said. ‘We’re scientists here, too, you know - biologists… You’ll probably be with us for twelve months or more. Ships don’t pass this island very often.’

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