The Island of Doctor Moreau

By H. G. Wells
1896
171 pages

Suddenly we heard a yelp and a volley of furious blasphemy from the companion hatchway, and the deformed man with the black face came up hurriedly. He was immediately followed by a heavy red-haired man in a white cap. At the sight of the former the staghounds, who had all tired of barking at me by this time, became furiously excited, howling and leaping against their chains. The black hesitated before them, and this gave the red-haired man time to come up with him and deliver a tremendous blow between the shoulder-blades. The poor devil went down like a felled ox, and rolled in the dirt among the furiously excited dogs. It was lucky for him that they were muzzled. The red-haired man gave a yawp of exultation and stood staggering, and as it seemed to me in serious danger of either going backwards down the companion hatchway or forwards upon his victim.

So soon as the second man had appeared, Montgomery had started forward. ‘Steady on there!’ he cried, in a tone of remonstrance. A couple of sailors appeared on the forecastle. The black-faced man, howling in a singular voice rolled about under the feet of the dogs. No one attempted to help him. The brutes did their best to worry him, butting their muzzles at him. There was a quick dance of their lithe grey-figured bodies over the clumsy, prostrate figure. The sailors forward shouted, as though it was admirable sport. Montgomery gave an angry exclamation, and went striding down the deck, and I followed him. The black-faced man scrambled up and staggered forward, going and leaning over the bulwark by the main shrouds, where he remained, panting and glaring over his shoulder at the dogs. The red-haired man laughed a satisfied laugh.

‘Look here, Captain,’ said Montgomery, with his lisp a little accentuated, gripping the elbows of the red-haired man, ‘this won’t do!’

I stood behind Montgomery. The captain came half round, and regarded him with the dull and solemn eyes of a drunken man. ‘Wha’ won’t do?’ he said, and added, after looking sleepily into Montgomery’s face for a minute, ‘Blasted Sawbones!’

With a sudden movement he shook his arm free, and after two ineffectual attempts stuck his freckled fists into his side pockets.

‘That man’s a passenger,’ said Montgomery. ‘I’d advise you to keep your hands off him.’

‘Go to hell!’ said the captain, loudly. He suddenly turned and staggered towards the side. ‘Do what I like on my own ship,’ he said.

I think Montgomery might have left him then, seeing the brute was drunk; but he only turned a shade paler, and followed the captain to the bulwarks.

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