فصل 04

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فصل 04

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Chapter four

Dr Moreau

The white-haired man turned and walked quickly towards the house up the hill. I went to talk to Montgomery.

‘You’ve saved me again,’ I said gratefully.

‘Well, this island’s not exactly London,’ he replied. ‘I can’t promise that you’ll enjoy yourself here. You’ll have to be careful with…’ He stopped suddenly. ‘Can you help me with these rabbits?’

He carried a cage of rabbits from the boat to the beach, opened the cage door and threw the rabbits onto the sand. ‘Go and have lots of babies!’ he said as they ran towards the trees. ‘There isn’t much meat to eat on the island,’ he explained to me. ‘We’re hoping that the rabbits will make good food.’

I helped Montgomery with the rabbits until the white-haired man returned. Then the three of us walked together to the stone wall that circled the house.

‘Well, Montgomery, what are we going to do with him?’ the white-haired man asked. ‘He can’t come into the house, but he can’t stay out here either. We don’t have time to build him a new house.’

‘He should have my room,’ answered Montgomery. ‘He can use the outside door.’

The white-haired man opened an outside door with a heavy key and we all went inside. There was another door on the far side of the room, into the garden behind the stone wall. The door was half open. Montgomery quickly crossed the room and locked the door.

‘Keep that door closed at all times,’ his master said to me. ‘We don’t want any accidents.’ He gave Montgomery a strange look. ‘And we must get you some food,’ he continued. ‘We didn’t invite you here, of course, but you’re our guest now. We’ll try to make you comfortable.’ Then he walked out of the room by the outside door.

The room was small but pleasant. There was a little bed, a table and chair, and some books about medicine.

‘We usually have our meals in here,’ said Montgomery. Then he followed his master outside. ‘Moreau!’ he shouted. ‘Moreau!’

‘Moreau,’ I thought. Where have I heard that name before?’

Montgomery’s assistant, M’ling, came into the room, bringing Home coffee, a plate of vegetables and a bottle of whisky. As he put the loud on the table, his long hair fell in front of his face. I saw one of his ears. It had a sharp point at the top and was covered in thick hair!

‘Your breakfast, Mr Prendick,’ he said as he left the room. I started to eat the food gratefully. But I left the whisky - I have never been a drinker.

Suddenly, I remembered! Moreau! He was in all the papers, eight, maybe ten years before. An important biologist - a very successful man. But then a newspaper sent someone to work as his assistant. There were terrible stories about the animals that he used in his experiments. A dog escaped from his laboratory without any skin on its body. Other animals were found there in terrible pain. The newspapers attacked Moreau and his work, and no one in the scientific world defended him. He had to close his laboratory.

I was sure that this was the same man. Perhaps it was too hard for Moreau to stop his work. Perhaps he chose to continue it on an island far from home.

This idea explained the puma and the other animals from the Ipecacuanha. But why were Moreau and Montgomery trying to keep everything secret from me? Laboratory work on animals was not very pleasant, but to a man of science like me it was not so terrible. Was there something more? Something about M’ling and those other strange men on the island? My mind filled with possible explanations, each one more terrible than the last.

At about one o’clock, Montgomery came into the room. M’ling was following him, carrying our lunch - some bread, a bowl of salad, a bottle of whisky and some water.

‘Moreau isn’t stopping for lunch today,’ said Montgomery. ‘He’s too busy with his work.’

‘Moreau,’ I said. ‘I know that name.’

‘Damn! Do you? Well, you’ll understand something about the “mysteries” in the laboratory then. Whisky?’

‘No thanks,’ I replied. ‘I don’t drink.’

‘Very sensible! It was drink that brought me here. I drank too much and did something silly. Moreau offered his help and… How stupid I was!’

‘Montgomery,’ I said suddenly, ‘why has M’ling got strangely - shaped ears?’

‘Er, M’ling? But… er… his hair covers his ears. How do you know about his ears?’

‘I’ve seen them, Montgomery. They’ve got a sharp point at the top. And his eyes shine in the dark.’

‘Well, er… I don’t know, Prendick. I’ve never seen his ears. Maybe he keeps his hair long to hide them.’

From the laboratory we heard a loud cry of pain. It sounded like the puma. The noise continued for about a minute, and it clearly troubled Montgomery. ‘Damn, damn, damn,’ he was saying quietly to himself. He drank a big glass of whisky, then left the room.

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