At the beginning of the story, Whitney, a hunting companion of Rainsford's, tells Rainsford:
The old charts call it "Ship-Trap Island." . . . A suggestive name, isn't it. Sailors have a curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some superstition—
This quote foreshadows the horrors and extreme complications that Rainsford is going to experience later in the story. Later that night, as Rainsford is relaxing, he hears a strange "abrupt sound." He realizes that it is a gun being fired. The noise interests him, and he "leap[s] upon the rail and balance[s] himself there, to get greater elevation."
While balanced on the rail, his pipe falls out of his mouth, and he tries to catch it. In the process, he loses his balance and falls into the Caribbean Sea. The yacht speeds away and leaves him in the sea. This is already a great conflict, but Rainsford's troubles have only begun.
He is able to swim to the island. Ironically, he thinks that he is safe:
All he knew was that he was safe from his...
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