فصل 07

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کتاب های خیلی ساده

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فصل 07

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Chapter seven

Meeting the Animal-men

‘You,’ he said again. ‘In the boat.’

‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘I came in the boat. From the ship.’

‘Oh!’ he said. His eyes travelled over me - my legs, my body, my face, my hands, the stick that I was carrying. His eyes returned to my hands. He held out his own hand and counted his fingers. ‘One, two, three, four, five, eh?’

I guessed that he was counting his fingers as a way to greet me. I did the same. ‘One, two, three, four, five, eh?’ I said.

He gave me a wide smile, then disappeared into the trees. I tried to follow. I found him hanging on to a tree by one arm.

‘EXCUSE ME,’ I said.

He dropped to the ground. Standing up straight, his arms hung below his knees.

‘Do you know where to find food?’ I continued.

‘Food he said.’ Eat man’s food now! At the huts!’

‘But where are the huts?’ I asked. ‘I’m new here, you see.’

Together we walked through the forest. I wanted to find out as much as possible from him.

‘How long have you been here?’ I asked.

‘How long?’ he repeated.

When I asked my question again, he held up three fingers.

Did he mean three months? Three years? I was not sure. I tried some other questions. His answers were difficult to understand.

Some were on a completely different subject. After Moreau’s experiments on him, this man was unable to have a sensible conversation.

After a long walk, we came to a rocky place near the sea. I followed the ape-man along a narrow path between two rocks. It went downhill steeply, getting darker and darker. At the bottom, in complete darkness, the ape-man stopped and said, ‘Home.’

The place had a terrible smell, and there were strange noises all around me. Slowly my eyes started to see. I was standing next to a line of huts that used the steep rock face for their back walls, and bits of tree for their front walls and roofs. There was old fruit everywhere, and some simple cups made of wood. Strange people, large and small and of different shapes were hiding in the shadows.

My ape-man went into one of the huts. I held on tightly to my slick and followed him inside.

In the far corner of the hut sat a big, shapeless thing. The hut was too dark to see the thing’s face.

The ape-man started talking to it. ‘Look! It’s a man! A man! A man, like me!’

‘It’s a man,’ agreed the thing in the corner. ‘Is he going to live with us?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘Then he must learn the Law.’

Other people were coming into the hut now. There was quite a crowd.

‘Say the words,’ said the thing in the corner. “‘Don’t go on four legs. That is the Law. Are we not men?”’

I did not know what to do.

‘Say the words,’ said the ape-man.

‘Say the words,’ said the rest of the crowd angrily.

At last I understood them and repeated the words. The others repeated them after me, and soon we were all moving from side to side in the strangest way. This was clearly their religion. I was not in a position to question it.

‘Don’t go on four legs. That is the Law. Are we not men?’ we repeated.

‘Don’t drink without cups. That is the Law. Are we not men?’

‘Don’t eat meat or fish. That is the Law. Are we not men?’

‘Don’t fight with heads or teeth. That is the Law. Are we not men?’

‘Don’t run after other people. That is the Law. Are we not men?’

Then the words changed.

‘His house is the House of Pain.’

‘His hands are the Hands that hurt.

‘His hands are the Hands that make.’

‘His hands are the Hands that mend.’

‘He is Master of the stars in the sky.’

‘He is Master of the sun and moon.’

‘He is Master of the deep salt sea.’

‘He is our Master.’

At last the strange words ended. My eyes were now seeing better in the dark. The speaker in the corner was about the height and weight of an ordinary man, but was covered from head to foot in grey hair, like a big grey dog. What was he? What were they all?

‘He’s a five-man, a five-man like me,’ said the ape-man.

The thing in the corner moved to the light of the hut’s entrance and took my hand in his. His hand was hard, with three very short, thick fingers.

‘Five fingers. Five thin fingers. That’s good. Many have problems with their fingers.’ He dropped my hand and looked into my eyes.

‘I am the Sayer of the Law,’ he said. ‘New people come to me to learn the Law. Do not break the Law. No one escapes.’

‘No one escapes,’ repeated the animal-people.

‘No one, no one,’ said the ape-man. ‘Once I did a little thing, a wrong thing. And look! He burned my hand. There! You can see the burn. The Master is great. The Master is good.’

‘Different parts of the Law are difficult for different people,’ explained the Sayer of the Law. ‘Some like to bite and drink blood. Others like to fight with their heads or their hands. Others like to move the earth with their noses in the ground. These things are bad.’

‘No one escapes,’ said the men at the door.

‘Punishment is quick and terrible,’ continued the Sayer of the Law. ‘So learn the Law. Say the words.’ He began again from the start.

‘Don’t go on four legs. That is the Law. Are we not men?’

We were all making a lot of noise as we repeated the strange words. Because of this, I did not notice the growls of the dogs outside. But suddenly one of the pig-men put his head round the door and spoke urgently to the others. Everyone hurried out of the hut and I was left alone. Too late, I heard the dogs. As I reached the hut’s entrance, Moreau, Montgomery and the dogs were coming down the steep path between the rocks. Montgomery was pointing his gun at me.

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