The Creature in the Shop
My name is Dr Frederick Treves. I am a doctor at the London Hospital. One day in 1884, I saw a picture in the window of a shop near the hospital. I stopped in front of the shop and looked at the picture. At first I felt interested, then I felt angry, then afraid. It was a horrible, ugly picture. There was a man in the picture, but he did not look like you and me. He did not look like a man. He looked like an elephant.
I read the writing under the picture. It said：
Come in and see the Elephant Man. 2 pence. I opened the door and went in.
There was a man in the shop. He was a dirty man in an old coat with a cigarette in his mouth. ‘What do you want？’he asked.
‘I'd like to see the elephant man, please, ’I said.
The man looked at me angrily. ‘Well, you can't, ’ he said. ‘The shop's closing now. You can come back tomorrow. ’
‘I'm sorry, ’I said. ‘ But I would like to see him now. I have no time tomorrow—I have a lot of work to do. But I can give you more than 2 pence. ’
The man looked at me carefully. Then he took the cigarette out of his mouth and smiled with his yellow teeth.
‘All right, sir, ’he said. ‘Give me twelve pence then. ’
I gave him the money and he opened a door at the back of the shop. We went into a little room. The room was cold and dark, and there was a horrible smell in it.
A creature sat on a chair behind a table. I say a creature, because it was not a man or a woman, like you or me. The creature did not move or look at us. It sat very quietly on the chair in the cold, dark, dirty room, and looked at the table. The creature had a cloth over its head, because of the cold. On the table in front of it, there was a dead flower.
‘Stand up! ’said the shopkeeper, loudly.
The creature stood up slowly. It took the old cloth off its head, and put it on the chair.
I looked at the creature and felt sad. I am a doctor, so I know a lot about accidents and ill people. I see horrible, ugly things every day. But this creature, this thing, was the worst of all. There were no men or women in the hospital like him.
He wore some old trousers, but no shirt, coat, or shoes, so I could see his body very well. His head was the most interesting thing. It was very, very big—like an enormous bag with a lot of books in it. The head did not have much hair, and there was another bag of brown, dirty skin at the back of it. This skin came down below his neck. I could not see one of his eyes very well, because a lot of skin came down in front of his face, too.
An enormous red tooth came out of his mouth, under his nose. It looked like an elephant's tooth. The mouth and nose were like holes in the face. The face could not smile or laugh or look angry or sad, because the skin could not move. It was dead, like an elephant's face.
There were more bags of dirty skin on the front and back of the creature's body. These bags came down to his legs. The right arm was enormous, and there were bags of skin on it, too. The right hand was like a man's foot.
But the left hand the left arm and the left hand were beautiful! The left arm had wonderful skin, and the fingers of the left hand were long and beautiful. It was like a young woman's hand!
‘Walk, Merrick! ’ said the shopkeeper angrily. ‘Come on, quickly, move! ’He hit the creature with his hand.
Slowly, the creature walked across the room. But he could not walk well. His legs were very big and fat, and he had a bad back. He could not walk far without a stick.
‘All right, thank you, ’I said. ‘Let him sit down. I don't want to see any more. ’I felt ill, and the smell in the room was very bad.
‘Yes, sir, ’said the shopkeeper. ‘Sit down, Merrick. ’
We went out of the room and closed the door. The shop－keeper smiled at me with his yellow teeth.
‘Wonderful, sir, isn't it？’he said. ‘The best Elephant Man in England! Hundreds of people come to see him, you know, hundreds! I take him all over the country, I do! ’
‘Yes, very interesting, ’I said. ‘Can I sit down？’
‘Yes, sir, of course. Here's a chair. ’He looked at me, smiling. ‘Would you like a glass of water, sir？’
‘Yes, please, ’I said. Then I looked at the things in the dirty shop. There were two or three bad apples and some old black bananas：that was all. ‘Er, no…no, thank you. I'm all right, ’I said. ‘Did you…did you call the creature Merrick？’
‘That's right, sir. Joseph Merrick. The best ElephantMan in England! I take him all over the country, you know. Lots of people want to see him. ’
‘Yes, I see. Do you get a lot of money？’
‘Well, sometimes we do, sir, yes. But it's difficult, you see, sir, because of the police. The police don't like us, you see, sir. So we can't stay in a town very long. We usually move every week. ’
‘Yes, I see. Well, anyway, Mr…er？’
‘Silcock, sir. Simon Silcock. ’
‘Yes, well, Mr Silcock, I'm a doctor at the London Hospital. My name is Dr Treves. I think this…er… this man Joseph Merrick is very interesting, and I would like to see him at the hospital. I want to look at him more carefully, you see.
‘Yes sir, I see. But how can he get to the hospital？It's going to be difficult. ’
‘Why, man？ The hospital's not far from here. ’
‘Well, yes, sir. I know. But, you see, Merrick can't walk very well. He needs help. ’
‘You can come with him. Do you want more money？Is that it？’
‘Well, yes, sir, I do. But, you see, people are afraid of him too… In the road, little boys always run after him and hit him. Then the police get angry because people are afraid. Sometimes they take us to prison. ’
‘I see, ’I said. ‘Well, how can he come to the hospital, then？’
‘Bring a cab, sir, ’said Silcock. ‘You can take him to the hospital in a cab. ’