Certainly, the circusmstances surrounding Sanger Rainsford's washing ashore on Ship-Trap Island are very mysterious, a condition which well serves to create suspense in the reader. After the menacing Ivan captures him and takes him to the chateau of the bizarre-appearing General Zaroff, Rainsford dines with the Cossack, who tells his guest that he lives for hunting dangerous game, and so he hunts an unorthodox prey. other men. When Rainsford expresses horror at this statement, Zaroff has "a trace of anger" cross his face at the suggestion that he cruelly "shoots down men" as Rainsford suggests,
"I treat these visitors with every consideration....They get into splendid physical condition."
The general then informs Rainsford that he will visit "the training school" in the cellar of the chateau where, at present, he has about twelve "pupils." These are sailors from a Spanish ship, San Lucar, that wrecked on the rocks of the treacherous island. They will soon become "the more dangerous game" Zaroff says he now hunts after becoming weary of less challenging hunts. Hearing this, Rainsford can only feel terror as the existence of the men in the cellar foreshadows Rainsford's own fate.
During his conversation with Rainsford, General Zaroff claims that they attempt to live civilized lives on the island. They even have electricity. Rainsford questions his assertion, particularly when he hunts and shoots men. Zaroff retorts that he gives the men excellent physical training and nourishment. They will visit his 'school' the next day. All of the 'pupils' he intends to hunt remain in the cellar while he trains them. At that moment, there are about 12 men from a Spanish ship.
"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.