GIS 3510: Intermediate Reading and Writing
Weeks 5 and 6: Readings and Assignments
Mini-Assignment: Edit the personal introduction of a student below you in "Student Profiles;" e-mail your suggestions to that student and to me (due date: 10/10). After receiving my comments on your intro, incorporate appropriate comments into your personal introduction and re-send it to me by 10/17.
The writing assignment for the next two weeks will use the EPE (WSU's English Proficiency Examination) format as an introduction to essay writing. We have two goals in doing this:
--First, this will complete the review portion of this course. We have so far covered the fundamentals of interacting with texts and of writing single paragraphs. The next two weeks' writing assignment will re-introduce you to the fundamentals of essay writing.
--Second, some of you have not yet taken the EPE. In that case, this exercise will serve, as well, as a much needed preparation for taking that mandatory test.
When you show up for the EPE, you will be presented with a choice: A. Read-and-Respond, B. Responding to Data. The essay you write in either case is similar. In the Read-and-Respond case you are asked to respond to a short paragraph. In the data case, you are asked to respond to a list, table, or graph. Quickly read both formats and choose the one that, overall, is clearer, more familiar, and more interesting to you. When in doubt, you should probably choose the Read-and-Respond option (data can be misinterpreted, in which case you will not pass the test, even if you write well). This tutorial will focus on the Read-and-Respond option.
Here then are some tips for dealing with that option. We shall do that in two ways. First, through a brief boxed summary of the essay's structure. This may be all that you need to carry out the assignment below. If not, proceed to read the entire tutorial which follows.
One Possible Structure of WSU’s EPE Essay
Paragraph 1: Summary and Interpretation of the passage (e.g., the author of the passage says that the sky is red, and from this she draws the moral that war is inevitable)
Paragraph 2: Thesis (e.g., in this essay I am going to argue that everlasting peace is possible)
Paragraph 6: Conclusion
Insert on top a title that reflects the thesis (e.g., Peace at Last?)
Edit your essay: check organization, understanding of passage, required length, grammar, spellings, punctuation, incomplete sentences, it’s vs. its, there vs. their, etc.
Now, the longer tutorial. You do not always proceed in the same manner, but, to make my suggestions a bit less abstract, I shall illustrate them through the following passage (taken from the Chronicle of Higher Education, November 22, 1989):
An English professor at Cornell University has a suggestion for those worried about how little is known by American students about literature and history. The federal government should offer financial incentives to corporations that include important facts and figures in their television commercials, says the professors, Jonathan Culler. Television of part of our common culture, he argues, and often reaches students in a way that academic subjects do not. At a recent meeting on the college curriculum, Mr. Culler offered a jingle of his own: "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue / In 1992, Chrysler brings this car to you."
1. Read the passage a few times. If it contains words you don't entirely understand, look them up in the dictionary (you can consult a dictionary during the test) and make sure that you grasp their meaning in the context of that particular passage.
Let's say that you are not really sure about the meaning of the word incentive. Looking it up in your dictionary involves a bit of detective work, for the dictionary contains several definitions of this word. The most appropriate seems to be: something that makes people want to do something: a reward. So financial incentives here mean: money paid to corporations to induce them to include historical and literary facts and figures in their TV commercials.
2. You then summarize the main idea of the passage in your own words, in one or two sentences. If you can, add now a third sentence in which you illustrate that idea in a way which shows that you really understand the passage.
Prof. Culler, a professor of English at Cornell University, puts forward an innovative approach to combating lack knowledge about literature and of history among American students. The government, he believes, should pay corporations to include important literary and historical facts and figures in their TV commercials. Culler provides one example of the ads he has in mind, but many others can be imagined: "In Hiroshima, 200,000 people our country killed / In Chicago, 200 trillion Cheerios our company milled."
3. You are now ready for the big one--your thesis. Bear in mind that this is the main idea of your essay, the sentence around which everything else is organized, the anchor of your ship, the base of your pyramid, the key of your kingdom. So be careful.
Going back to our little essay, the thesis can be any number of things. You can say: "This essay will argue that Culler's idea is brilliant and it will provide additional arguments in its favor." Or you can say: "I would like to explore alternative approaches to improving literary and historical literacy in the U.S." Or you can say: "This essay will explore practical barriers on the road to implementing Culler's proposal."
Let us arbitrarily choose one thesis: "In this essay, I shall argue that Prof. Culler's proposal is unacceptable for both moral and educational reasons."
Well, you are now done with your first paragraph. Note that without a good first paragraph, you cannot pass. Note also that the first paragraph must accomplish two goals: a. summarize the passage briefly and well. b. provide a coherent thesis for the rest of the essay.
4. Now it's time to reflect on the remainder of your essay. You want to make sure, before you start, that you will have enough to say in support of your thesis. You also want to make sure that your essay will be well-organized. To achieve these two goals, you now write an outline. Here is one possible outline:
I. A summary of the passage.
II. Thesis of EPE essay: Prof. Culler's proposal is unacceptable for both moral and educational reasons.
III. Prof. Culler does not understand that what's important in literature and history is not facts, but concepts.
IV. Commercials are an offensive aspect of our culture, a kind of blatant brainwashing: do we really want to use them to impart cherished aspects of our culture?
V. Instead of paying wealthy corporations to educate us, why can't we use the money directly for education--e.g., better teacher training, smaller students/teacher ratio, noncommercial TV programs like Sesame Street?
VI. Culler seems to be totally oblivious to the crass realities of commercial TV, realities that have been endlessly exposed by writers like Michael Parenti and Wilson Bryan Key.
Note the overall organization: Your thesis (II) is related to the summary of the passage (I). In turn, paragraphs III-VI support your thesis (II).
5. Each of these paragraphs must now be developed, fleshed out, supported, illustrated. We are not going to do that for the whole essay, and will only take point III above:
Prof. Culler does not understand that what's important in literature and history is not facts, but concepts. Let us examine, for instance, Culler's own example: Columbus's discovery of America. Now the date 1492 is of some value, but it does not even come close to being the one aspect upon which we might want to focus our students' attention. There are so many other more important questions to consider: What accounts for Columbus's single-minded pursuit of his goal? What kind of a person was he? Why did he doctor his ship's logs? Why did he deliberately decimate and subjugate so many "Indians" he came in contact with? What were the consequences of his discovery for Native American and European civilizations? And the same applies to literature: Culler would want to tell us, I suppose, that Jim was Huck Finn's friend, again missing such important questions of Jim's character and Twain's intentions. Needless to say, TV commercials cannot even begin to scrape the surface of such complex topics. So, if we follow Culler's advice, literature and history will be reduced to the same sad fate of contemporary TV news--a collection of disconnected, barely comprehensible, biased, sound bites. It is better to know nothing about our history and literature, I say, than "knowing" this kind of fragmented, commercialized version of it.
6. I similarly develop the other paragraphs and the conclusion.
7. All the while, I keep in mind the number of words in my essay (to figure that, I figure the average number of words in one line, then multiply that average by the number of lines), aiming at about 650 total number of words. For instance, if you have already written seven paragraphs, or four pages, your essay is probably long enough. Bring it to a close now, and spend the time remaining on editing it. Bear in mind that the graders are looking for quality, not quantity. Hence, it is far better to submit a well-developed, well-written, three-page essay, than to submit a long, wordy, disorganized, seven-page essay.
8. Armed with my first draft, I am now ready for a title, which I insert at the top of my essay. Don't underline your title and don't put it in quotes. Any title will do, as long as it pertains to the thesis of your essay. Three examples:
Why I Disagree with Dr. Culler?
Coca-Cola, Hemingway, and Wittner: Shall We Commercialize our Literature and History?
9. It's only now, with the first draft in your hands, that you begin to think about grammar, punctuation, mechanics, incomplete sentences, etc. Go over your essay with a fine-tooth comb. Check spellings and meanings of words with the dictionary. Quietly read the essay to yourself to check punctuation. If you know that you have problems with the spelling of decimate, look this word up. If you have trouble telling it's from its, make sure that the it's you used in your essay shouldn't really be its. If you repeated the same idea twice, delete the one version that is not as well-written.
12. Most likely, you will not have time to re-copy your essay. That's all right: graders expect to see errors in your text. At the end, ask yourself, for the last time, the key questions: Did I summarize the main idea of the passage? Did I expound a clear and relevant thesis of my own? Does every paragraph of my essay support my thesis?
12. Don't leave until the time is up--the editing you do in the last 5 minutes could conceivably spell the difference between passing and failing the test.
To make the most of this tutorial, you need to apply what you have just learned. So, at home, read "The Most Dangerous Game" and then take two hours responding to this short story. In doing this, follow these steps:
1.Read the "The Most Dangerous Game" then follow the instructions above for writing an EPE essay.
2. In a single paragraph (about 8 lines), summarize and interpret this story.
3. The next paragraph should contain your thesis statement (see instructions above).
4. Write a complete OUTLINE for your essay.
5. Append your name, e-mail address, and a title to the top of your assignment. Note: the title should capture your thesis statement, or be related to it.
6. NOW STOP!!!. Edit what you have done and send it to me (email@example.com)
7. Finish writing your response essay only after receiving my comments.
8. Edit your essay, then e-mail it to me along with the first draft. The essay itself is due on Sunday, October 24.
THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
Richard Edward Connell (1893-1949) was born in New York. His writing career began at an early age: "My first writing assignment," he says, "was done for the daily newspaper my father edited in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. I covered baseball games. I was ten years old and got ten cents a game. I have been a professional writer ever since." By age sixteen, Connell became city editor of the daily News-Press. He graduated from Harvard in 1915. During World War I he served for a year as a soldier in France. After the war, he married and lived in London, then in Paris, and then in California. His principal works include the short-story collection Apes and Angels (1924) and the novel Mad Lover (1927).
"The Most Dangerous Game" presents danger and suspense in a most graphic way. Besides physical conflict, there is here also a conflict of minds and nerves. Suspense rises from one peak to another, reaching a climax in the brisk action of the final scene. The story combines conflict, character, setting, and tone to produce a truly memorable adventure in good reading.
"Off there to the right--somewhere--is a large island," said Whitney. "It's rather a mystery--"
"What island is it?" Rainsford asked.
"The old charts call it 'Ship-Trap Island,'" Whitney replied. "A suggestive name, isn't it? Sailors have a curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some superstition--"
"Can't see it," remarked Rainsford, trying to peer through the dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm blackness in upon the yacht.
"You've good eyes," said Whitney, with a laugh, "and I've seen you pick off a moose moving in the brown fall bush at four hundred yards, but even you can't see four miles or so through a moonless Caribbean night."
"Not four yards," admitted Rainsford. "Ugh! It's like moist black velvet."
"It will be light where we're going," promised Whitney. "We should make it in a few days. I hope the jaguar guns have come. We'll have good hunting up the Amazon. Great sport, hunting."
"The best sport in the world," agreed Rainsford.
"For the hunter," amended Whitney. "Not for the jaguar."
"Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?"
"Perhaps the jaguar does," observed Whitney.
"Bah! They've no understanding."
"Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death."
"Nonsense," laughed Rainsford. "This hot weather is making you soft, Whitney. Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the hunted. Luckily, you and I are hunters. Do you think we've passed that island yet?"
"I can't tell in the dark. I hope so."
"Why?" asked Rainsford.
"The place has a reputation--a bad one."
"Cannibals?" suggested Rainsford.
"Hardly. Even cannibals wouldn't live in such a God-forsaken place. But it's got into sailor lore, somehow. Didn't you notice that the crew's nerves seemed a bit jumpy today?"
"They were a bit strange, now you mention it. Even Captain Nielsen--"
"Yes, even that tough-minded old Swede, who'd go up to the devil himself and ask him for a light. Those fishy blue eyes held a look I never saw there before. All I could get out of him was: 'This place has an evil name among sea-faring men, sir.' Then he said to me, very gravely: 'Don't you feel anything?'--as if the air about us was actually poisonous. Now, you mustn't laugh when I tell you this--I did feel something like a sudden chill."
"There was no breeze. The sea was as flat as a plate-glass window. We were drawing near the island then. What I felt was a--a mental chill; a sort of sudden dread."
"Pure imagination," said Rainsford. "One superstitious sailor can taint the whole ship's company with his fear."
"Maybe. But sometimes I think sailors have an extra sense that tells them when they are in danger. Sometimes I think evil is a tangible thing--with wave lengths, just as sound and light have. An evil place can, so to speak, broadcast vibrations of evil. Anyhow, I'm glad we're getting out of this zone. Well, I think I'll turn in now, Rainsford."
"I'm not sleepy," said Rainsford. "I'm going to smoke another pipe up on the afterdeck."
"Good night, then, Rainsford. See you at breakfast."
"Right. Good night, Whitney."
There was no sound in the night as Rainsford sat there, but the muffled throb of the engine that drove the yacht swiftly through the darkness, and the swish and ripple of the wash of the propeller.
Rainsford, reclining in a steamer chair, indolently puffed on his favorite briar. The sensuous drowsiness of the night was on him. "It's so dark," he thought, "that I could sleep without closing my eyes; the night would be my eyelids--"
An abrupt sound startled him. Off to the right he heard it, and his ears, expert in such matters, could not be mistaken. Again he heard the sound, and again. Somewhere, off in the blackness, someone had fired a gun three times.
Rainsford sprang up and moved quickly to the rail, mystified. He strained his eyes in the direction from which the reports had come, but it was like trying to see through a blanket. He leaped upon the rail and balanced himself there, to get greater elevation; his pipe, striking a rope, was knocked from his mouth. He lunged for it; a short, hoarse cry came from his lips as he realized he had reached too far and had lost his balance. The cry was pinched off short as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea closed over his head.
He struggled up to the surface and tried to cry out, but the wash from the speeding yacht slapped him in the face and the salt water in his open mouth made him gag and strangle. Desperately he struck out with strong strokes after the receding lights of the yacht, but he stopped before he had swum fifty feet. A certain cool-headedness had come to him; it was not the first time he had been in a tight place. There was a chance that his cries could be heard by someone aboard the yacht, but that chance was slender, and grew more slender as the yacht raced on. He wrestled himself out of his clothes, and shouted with all his power. The lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies; then they were blotted out entirely by the night.
Rainsford remembered the shots. They had come from the right, and doggedly he swam in that direction, swimming with slow, deliberate strokes, conserving his strength. For a seemingly endless time he fought the sea. He began to count his strokes; he could do possibly a hundred more and then--
Rainsford heard a sound. It came out of the darkness, a high screaming sound, the sound of an animal in an extremity of anguish and terror.
He did not recognize the animal that made the sound--he did not try to; with fresh vitality he swam toward the sound. He heard it again; then it was cut short by another noise, crisp, staccato.
"Pistol shot," muttered Rainsford, swimming on.
Ten minutes of determined effort brought another sound to his ears--the most welcome he had ever heard--the muttering and growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore. He was almost on the rocks before he saw them; on a night less calm he would have been shattered against them. With his remaining strength he dragged himself from the swirling waters. Jagged crags appeared to jut into the opaqueness; he forced himself upward, hand over hand. Gasping, his hands raw, he reached a flat place at the top. Dense jungle came down to the very edge of the cliffs. What perils that tangle of trees and underbrush might hold for him did not concern Rainsford just then. All he knew was that he was safe from his enemy, the sea, and that utter weariness was on him. He flung himself down at the jungle edge and tumbled headlong into the deepest sleep of his life.
When he opened his eyes he knew from the position of the sun that it was late in the afternoon. Sleep had given him new vigor; a sharp hunger was picking at him. He looked about him, almost cheerfully.
"Where there are pistol shots, there are men. Where there are men, there is food," he thought. But what kind of men, he wondered, in so forbidding a place? An unbroken front of snarled and jagged jungle fringed the shore.
He saw no sign of a trail through the closely knit web of weeds and trees; it was easier to go along the shore, and Rainsford floundered along by the water. Not far from where he had landed, he stopped.
Some wounded thing, by the evidence a large animal, had thrashed about in the underbrush; the jungle weeds were crushed down and the moss was lacerated; one patch of weeds was stained crimson. A small glittering object not far away caught Rainsford's eye and he picked it up. It was an empty cartridge.
"A twenty-two," he remarked. "That's odd. It must have been a fairly large animal too. The hunter had his nerve with him to tackle it with such a light gun. It's clear that the brute put up a good fight. I suppose the first three shots I heard were when the hunter flushed his quarry and wounded it. The last shot was when he trailed it here and finished it."
He examined the ground closely and found what he had hoped to find--the print of hunting-boots. They pointed along the cliff in the direction he had been going. Eagerly he hurried along, now slipping on a rotten log or a loose stone, but making headway; night was beginning to settle down on the island.
Bleak darkness was blacking out the sea and jungle when Rainsford sighted the lights. He came upon them as he turned a crook in the coast line, and his first thought was that he had come upon a village, for there were many lights. But as he forged along he saw to his great astonishment that all the lights were in one enormous building--a lofty structure with pointed towers plunging upward into the gloom. His eyes made out the shadowy outlines of a palatial chateau; it was set on a high bluff, and on three sides of it cliffs dived down to where the sea licked greedy lips in the shadows.
"Mirage," thought Rainsford. But it was no mirage, he found, when he opened the tall spiked iron gate. The stone steps were real enough; the massive door with a leering gargoyle for a knocker was real enough; yet about it all hung an air of unreality.
He lifted the knocker, and it creaked up stiffly, as if it had never before been used. He let it fall, and it startled him with its booming loudness. He thought he heard steps within; the door remained closed. Again Rainsford lifted the heavy knocker, and let it fall. The door opened then, opened as suddenly as if it were on a spring, and Rainsford stood blinking in the river of glaring gold light that poured out. The first thing Rainsford's eyes discerned was the largest man Rainsford had ever seen--a gigantic creature, solidly made and black bearded to the waist. In his hand the man held a long-barrelled revolver, and he was pointing it straight at Rainsford's heart.
Out of the snarl of beard two small eyes regarded Rainsford.
"Don't be alarmed," said Rainsford, with a smile which he hoped was disarming. "I'm no robber. I fell off a yacht. My name is Sanger Rainsford of New York City."
The menacing look in the eyes did not change. The revolver pointed as rigidly as if the giant were a statue. He gave no sign that he understood Rainsford's words, or that he had even heard them. He was dressed in uniform, a black uniform trimmed with gray astrakhan.
"I'm Sanger Rainsford of New York," Rainsford began again. "I fell off a yacht. I am hungry."
The man's only answer was to raise with his thumb the hammer of his revolver. Then Rainsford saw the man's free hand go to his forehead in a military salute, and he saw him click his heels together and stand at attention. Another man was coming down the broad marble steps, an erect, slender man in evening clothes. He advanced and held out his hand.
In a cultivated voice marked by a slight accent that gave it added precision and deliberateness, he said: "It is a very great pleasure and honor to welcome Mr. Sanger Rainsford, the celebrated hunter, to my home." Automatically Rainsford shook the man's hand.
"I've read your book about hunting snow leopards in Tibet, you see," explained the man. "I am General Zaroff."
Rainsford's first impression was that the man was singularly handsome; his second was that there was an original, almost bizarre quality about the general's face. He was a tall man past middle age, for his hair was a vivid white; but his thick eyebrows and pointed military mustache were as black as the night from which Rainsford had come. His eyes, too, were black and very bright. He had high cheekbones, a sharp-cut nose, a spare, dark face, the face of a man used to giving orders, the face of an aristocrat. Turning to the giant in uniform, the general made a sign. The giant put away his pistol, saluted, withdrew.
"Ivan is an incredibly strong fellow," remarked the general, "but he has the misfortune to be deaf and dumb. A simple fellow, but, I'm afraid, like all his race, a bit of a savage."
"Is he Russian?"
"He is a Cossack," said the general, and his smile showed red lips and pointed teeth. "So am I."
"Come," he said, "we shouldn't be chatting here. We can talk later. Now you want clothes, food, rest. You shall have them. This is a most restful spot."
Ivan had reappeared, and the general spoke to him with lips that moved but gave forth no sound.
"Follow Ivan, if you please, Mr. Rainsford," said the general. "I was about to have my dinner when you came. I'll wait for you. You'll find that my clothes will fit you, I think."
It was to a huge, beam-ceilinged bedroom with a canopied bed big enough for six men that Rainsford followed the silent giant. Ivan laid out an evening suit, and Rainsford, as he put it on, noticed that it came from a London tailor who ordinarily cut and sewed for none below the rank of duke.
The dining room to which Ivan conducted him was in many ways remarkable. There was a medieval magnificence about it; it suggested a baronial hall of feudal times with its oaken panels, its high ceiling, its vast refectory table where twoscore men could sit down to eat. About the hall were the mounted heads of many animals--lions, tigers, elephants, moose, bears; larger or more perfect specimens Rainsford had never seen. At the great table the general was sitting, alone.
"You'll have a cocktail, Mr. Rainsford," he suggested. The cocktail was surpassingly good; and, Rainsford noted, the table appointments were of the finest--the linen, the crystal, the silver, the china.
They were eating borsch, the rich, red soup with whipped cream so dear to Russian palates. Half apologetically General Zaroff said: "We do our best to preserve the amenities of civilization here. Please forgive any lapses. We are well off the beaten track, you know. Do you think the champagne has suffered from its long ocean trip?"
"Not in the least," declared Rainsford. He was finding the general a most thoughtful and affable host, a true cosmopolite. But there was one small trait of the general's that made Rainsford uncomfortable. Whenever he looked up he found the general studying him, appraising him narrowly.
"Perhaps," said General Zaroff, "you were surprised that I recognized your name. You see, I read all books on hunting published in English, French, and Russian. I have but one passion in my life, Mr. Rainsford, and it is the hunt."
"You have some wonderful heads here," said Rainsford as he ate a particularly well-cooked filet mignon. "That Cape buffalo is the largest I ever saw."
"Oh, that fellow. Yes, he was a monster."
"Did he charge you?"
"Hurled me against a tree," said the general. "Fractured my skull. But I got the brute."
"I've always thought," said Rainsford, "that the Cape buffalo is the most dangerous of all big game."
For a moment the general did not reply; he was smiling his curious red-lipped smile. Then he said slowly: "No. You are wrong, sir. The Cape buffalo is not the most dangerous big game." He sipped his wine. "Here in my preserve on this island," he said in the same slow tone, "I hunt more dangerous game."
Rainsford expressed his surprise. "Is there big game on this island?"
The general nodded. "The biggest."
"Oh, it isn't here naturally, of course. I have to stock the island."
"What have you imported, General?" Rainsford asked. "Tigers?"
The general smiled. "No," he said. "Hunting tigers ceased to interest me some years ago. I exhausted their possibilities, you see. No thrill left in tigers, no real danger. I live for danger, Mr. Rainsford."
The general took from his pocket a gold cigarette case and offered his guest a long black cigarette with a silver tip; it was perfumed and gave off a smell like incense.
"We will have some capital hunting, you and I," said the general. "I shall be most glad to have your society."
"But what game--" began Rainsford.
"I'll tell you," said the general. "You will be amused, I know. I think I may say, in all modesty, that I have done a rare thing. I have invented a new sensation. May I pour you another glass of port, Mr. Rainsford?"
"Thank you, General."
The general filled both glasses, and said: "God makes some men poets. Some He makes kings, some beggars. Me He made a hunter. My hand was made for the trigger, my father said. He was a very rich man with a quarter of a million acres in Crimea, and he was an ardent sportsman. When I was only five years old he gave me a little gun, especially made in Moscow for me, to shoot sparrows with. When I shot some of his prize turkeys with it, he did not punish me; he complimented me on my marksmanship. I killed my first bear in the Caucasus when I was ten. My whole life has been one prolonged hunt. I went into the army--it was expected of noblemen's sons--and for a time commanded a division of Cossack cavalry, but my real interest was always the hunt. I have hunted every kind of game in every land. It would be impossible for me to tell you how many animals I have killed."
The general puffed at his cigarette.
"After the debacle in Russia I left the country, for it was imprudent for an officer of the Czar to stay there. Many noble Russians lost everything. I, luckily, had invested heavily in American securities, so I shall never have to open a tea room in Monte Carlo or drive a taxi in Paris. Naturally, I continued to hunt--grizzlies in your Rockies, crocodiles in the Ganges, rhinoceroses in East Africa. It was in Africa that the Cape buffalo hit me and laid me up for six months. As soon as I recovered I started for the Amazon to hunt jaguars, for I had heard they were unusually cunning. They weren't." The Cossack sighed. "They were no match at all for a hunter with his wits about him, and a high-powered rifle. I was bitterly disappointed. I was lying in my tent with a splitting headache one night when a terrible thought pushed its way into my mind. Hunting was beginning to bore me! And hunting, remember, had been my life. I have heard that in America businessmen often go to pieces when they give up the business that has been their life."
"Yes, that's so," said Rainsford.
The general smiled. "I had no wish to go to pieces," he said. "I must do something. Now, mine is an analytical mind, Mr. Rainsford. Doubtless that is why I enjoy the problems of the chase."
"No doubt, General Zaroff."
"So," continued the general," I asked myself why the hunt no longer fascinated me. You are much younger than I am, Mr. Rainsford, and have not hunted as much, but you perhaps can guess the answer."
"What was it?"
"Simply this: hunting had ceased to be what you call 'a sporting proposition.' It had become too easy. I always got my quarry. Always. There is no greater bore than perfection."
The general lit a fresh cigarette.
"No animal had a chance with me any more. That is no boast; it is a mathematical certainty. The animal had nothing but his legs and his instinct. Instinct is no match for reason. When I thought of this it was a tragic moment for me, I can tell you,"
Rainsford leaned across the table, absorbed in what his host was saying.
"It came to me as an inspiration what I must do," the general went on.
"And that was?"
The general smiled the quiet smile of one who had faced an obstacle and surmounted it with success. "I had to invent a new animal to hunt," he said.
"A new animal? You're joking."
"Not at all," said the general. "I never joke about hunting. I needed a new animal. I found one. So I bought this island, built this house, and here I do my hunting. The island is perfect for my purposes--there are jungles with a maze of trails in them, hills, swamps--"
"But the animal, General Zaroff?"
"Oh," said the general, "it supplies me with the most exciting hunting in the world. No other hunting compares with it for an instant. Every day I hunt, and I never grow bored now, for I have a quarry with which I can match my wits."
Rainsford's bewilderment showed in his face.
"I wanted the ideal animal to hunt," explained the general. "So I said: 'What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?' And the answer was, of course: `It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason.'"
"But no animal can reason," objected Rainsford.
"My dear fellow," said the general, "there is one that can."
"But you can't mean--" gasped Rainsford.
"And why not?"
"I can't believe you are serious, General Zaroff. This is a grisly joke."
"Why should I not be serious? I am speaking of hunting."
"Hunting? Good God, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder."
The general laughed with entire good nature. He regarded Rainsford quizzically. "I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life. Surely your experiences in the war--"
"Did not make me condone cold-blooded murder," finished Rainsford stiffly.
Laughter shook the general. "How extraordinarily droll you are!" he said. "One does not expect nowadays to find a young man of the educated class, even in America, with such a naive, and, if I may say so, mid-Victorian point of view. It's like finding a snuff-box in a limousine. Ah, well, doubtless you had Puritan ancestors. So many Americans appear to have had. I'll wager you'll forget your notions when you go hunting with me. You've a genuine thrill in store for you, Mr. Rainsford."
"Thank you, I'm a hunter, not a murderer."
"Dear me," said the general, quite unruffled, "again that unpleasant word. But I think I can show you that your scruples are quite unfounded."
"Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if needs be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth--sailors from tramp ships--lascars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them."
"But they are men," said Rainsford hotly.
"Precisely," said the general. "That is why I use them. It gives me pleasure. They can reason, after a fashion. So they are dangerous."
"But where do you get them?"
The general's eyelid fluttered down in a wink. "This island is called Ship Trap," he answered. "Sometimes an angry god of the high seas sends them to me. Sometimes, when Providence is not so kind, I help Providence a bit. Come to the window with me."
Rainsford went to the window and looked out toward the sea.
"Watch! Out there!" exclaimed the general, pointing into the night. Rainsford's eyes saw only blackness, and then, as the general pressed a button, far out to sea Rainsford saw the flash of lights.
The general chuckled. "They indicate a channel," he said "where there's none: giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut." He dropped a walnut on the hardwood floor and brought his heel grinding down on it. "Oh, yes," he said, casually, as if in answer to a question, "I have electricity. We try to be civilized here."
"Civilized? And you shoot down men?"
A trace of anger was in the general's black eyes, but it was there for but a second, and he said, in his most pleasant manner: "Dear me, what a righteous young man you are! I assure you I do not do the thing you suggest. That would be barbarous. I treat these visitors with every consideration. They get plenty of good food and exercise. They get into splendid physical condition. You shall see for yourself tomorrow."
"What do you mean?"
"We'll visit my training school," smiled the general. "It's in the cellar. I have about a dozen pupils down there now. They're from the Spanish bark, 'San Lucar,' that had the bad luck to go on the rocks out there. A very inferior lot, I regret to say. Poor specimens and more accustomed to the deck than to the jungle."
He raised his hand, and Ivan, who served as waiter, brought thick Turkish coffee. Rainsford, with an effort, held his tongue in check.
"It's a game, you see," pursued the general blandly. "I suggest to one of them that we go hunting. I give him a supply of food and an excellent hunting knife. I give him three hours' start. I am to follow, armed only with a pistol of the smallest caliber and range. If my quarry eludes me for three whole days, he wins the game. If I find him," the general smiled, "he loses."
"Suppose he refuses to be hunted?"
"Oh," said the general, "I give him his option, of course. He need not play that game if he does not wish to. If he does not wish to hunt, I turn him over to Ivan. Ivan once had the honor of serving as official knouter to the Great White Czar, and he has his own ideas of sport. Invariably, Mr. Rainsford, invariably they choose the hunt."
"And if they win?"
The smile on the general's face widened. "To date I have not lost," he said.
Then he added, hastily: "I don't wish you to think me a braggart, Mr. Rainsford. Many of them afford only the most elementary sort of problem. Occasionally I strike a tartar. One almost did win. I eventually had to use the dogs."
"This way, please. I'll show you."
The general steered Rainsford to a window. The lights from the windows sent a flickering illumination that made grotesque patterns on the courtyard below, and Rainsford could see moving about there a dozen or so huge black shapes; as they turned toward him, their eyes glittered greenly.
"A rather good lot, I think," observed the general. "They are let out at seven every night. If anyone should try to get into my house--or out of it--something extremely regrettable would occur to him." He hummed a snatch of song from the Folies Bergère.
"And now," said the general, "I want to show you my new collection of heads. Will you come with me to the library?"
"I hope," said Rainsford, "that you will excuse me tonight, General Zaroff. I'm really not feeling at al