schöner wohnen schreibtisch im wohnzimmer
the lost worldi have wrought my simple plan if i give one hour of joyto the boy who's half a man, or the man who's half a boy. the lost worldby sir arthur conan doyle forewordmr. e. d. malone desires to state that both the injunction for restraint and the libelaction have been withdrawn unreservedly by professor g. e. challenger, who, being satisfied that no criticism or comment inthis book is meant in an offensive spirit, has guaranteed that he will place noimpediment to its publication and
circulation. chapter i"there are heroisms all round us" mr. hungerton, her father, really was themost tactless person upon earth,--a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man,perfectly good-natured, but absolutely centered upon his own silly self. if anything could have driven me fromgladys, it would have been the thought of such a father-in-law. i am convinced that he really believed inhis heart that i came round to the chestnuts three days a week for thepleasure of his company, and very
especially to hear his views upon bimetallism, a subject upon which he was byway of being an authority. for an hour or more that evening i listenedto his monotonous chirrup about bad money driving out good, the token value ofsilver, the depreciation of the rupee, and the true standards of exchange. "suppose," he cried with feeble violence,"that all the debts in the world were called up simultaneously, and immediatepayment insisted upon,--what under our present conditions would happen then?" i gave the self-evident answer that ishould be a ruined man, upon which he
jumped from his chair, reproved me for myhabitual levity, which made it impossible for him to discuss any reasonable subject in my presence, and bounced off out of theroom to dress for a masonic meeting. at last i was alone with gladys, and themoment of fate had come! all that evening i had felt like thesoldier who awaits the signal which will send him on a forlorn hope; hope of victoryand fear of repulse alternating in his mind. she sat with that proud, delicate profileof hers outlined against the red curtain. how beautiful she was!and yet how aloof!
we had been friends, quite good friends;but never could i get beyond the same comradeship which i might have establishedwith one of my fellow-reporters upon the gazette,--perfectly frank, perfectlykindly, and perfectly unsexual. my instincts are all against a woman beingtoo frank and at her ease with me. it is no compliment to a man. where the real sex feeling begins, timidityand distrust are its companions, heritage from old wicked days when love and violencewent often hand in hand. the bent head, the averted eye, thefaltering voice, the wincing figure--these, and not the unshrinking gaze and frankreply, are the true signals of passion.
even in my short life i had learned as muchas that--or had inherited it in that race memory which we call instinct.gladys was full of every womanly quality. some judged her to be cold and hard; butsuch a thought was treason. that delicately bronzed skin, almostoriental in its coloring, that raven hair, the large liquid eyes, the full butexquisite lips,--all the stigmata of passion were there. but i was sadly conscious that up to now ihad never found the secret of drawing it forth. however, come what might, i should havedone with suspense and bring matters to a
head to-night.she could but refuse me, and better be a repulsed lover than an accepted brother. so far my thoughts had carried me, and iwas about to break the long and uneasy silence, when two critical, dark eyeslooked round at me, and the proud head was shaken in smiling reproof. "i have a presentiment that you are goingto propose, ned. i do wish you wouldn't; for things are somuch nicer as they are." i drew my chair a little nearer. "now, how did you know that i was going topropose?"
i asked in genuine wonder."don't women always know? do you suppose any woman in the world wasever taken unawares? but--oh, ned, our friendship has been sogood and so pleasant! what a pity to spoil it! don't you feel how splendid it is that ayoung man and a young woman should be able to talk face to face as we have talked?""i don't know, gladys. you see, i can talk face to face with--withthe station-master." i can't imagine how that official came intothe matter; but in he trotted, and set us both laughing.
"that does not satisfy me in the least.i want my arms round you, and your head on my breast, and--oh, gladys, i want----" she had sprung from her chair, as she sawsigns that i proposed to demonstrate some of my wants."you've spoiled everything, ned," she said. "it's all so beautiful and natural untilthis kind of thing comes in! it is such a pity!why can't you control yourself?" "i didn't invent it," i pleaded. "it's nature.it's love." "well, perhaps if both love, it may bedifferent.
i have never felt it." "but you must--you, with your beauty, withyour soul! oh, gladys, you were made for love!you must love!" "one must wait till it comes." "but why can't you love me, gladys?is it my appearance, or what?" she did unbend a little. she put forward a hand--such a gracious,stooping attitude it was--and she pressed back my head.then she looked into my upturned face with a very wistful smile.
"no it isn't that," she said at last."you're not a conceited boy by nature, and so i can safely tell you it is not that.it's deeper." "my character?" she nodded severely."what can i do to mend it? do sit down and talk it over.no, really, i won't if you'll only sit down!" she looked at me with a wondering distrustwhich was much more to my mind than her whole-hearted confidence. how primitive and bestial it looks when youput it down in black and white!--and
perhaps after all it is only a feelingpeculiar to myself. anyhow, she sat down. "now tell me what's amiss with me?""i'm in love with somebody else," said she. it was my turn to jump out of my chair. "it's nobody in particular," she explained,laughing at the expression of my face: "only an ideal.i've never met the kind of man i mean." "tell me about him. what does he look like?""oh, he might look very much like you." "how dear of you to say that!well, what is it that he does that i don't
do? just say the word,--teetotal, vegetarian,aeronaut, theosophist, superman. i'll have a try at it, gladys, if you willonly give me an idea what would please you." she laughed at the elasticity of mycharacter. "well, in the first place, i don't think myideal would speak like that," said she. "he would be a harder, sterner man, not soready to adapt himself to a silly girl's whim. but, above all, he must be a man who coulddo, who could act, who could look death in
the face and have no fear of him, a man ofgreat deeds and strange experiences. it is never a man that i should love, butalways the glories he had won; for they would be reflected upon me.think of richard burton! when i read his wife's life of him i couldso understand her love! and lady stanley!did you ever read the wonderful last chapter of that book about her husband? these are the sort of men that a womancould worship with all her soul, and yet be the greater, not the less, on account ofher love, honored by all the world as the inspirer of noble deeds."
she looked so beautiful in her enthusiasmthat i nearly brought down the whole level of the interview.i gripped myself hard, and went on with the argument. "we can't all be stanleys and burtons,"said i; "besides, we don't get the chance -,-at least, i never had the chance.if i did, i should try to take it." "but chances are all around you. it is the mark of the kind of man i meanthat he makes his own chances. you can't hold him back.i've never met him, and yet i seem to know him so well.
there are heroisms all round us waiting tobe done. it's for men to do them, and for women toreserve their love as a reward for such men. look at that young frenchman who went uplast week in a balloon. it was blowing a gale of wind; but becausehe was announced to go he insisted on starting. the wind blew him fifteen hundred miles intwenty-four hours, and he fell in the middle of russia.that was the kind of man i mean. think of the woman he loved, and how otherwomen must have envied her!
that's what i should like to be,--enviedfor my man." "i'd have done it to please you." "but you shouldn't do it merely to pleaseme. you should do it because you can't helpyourself, because it's natural to you, because the man in you is crying out forheroic expression. now, when you described the wigan coalexplosion last month, could you not have gone down and helped those people, in spiteof the choke-damp?" "i did." "you never said so.""there was nothing worth bucking about."
"i didn't know."she looked at me with rather more interest. "that was brave of you." "i had to.if you want to write good copy, you must be where the things are.""what a prosaic motive! it seems to take all the romance out of it. but, still, whatever your motive, i am gladthat you went down that mine." she gave me her hand; but with suchsweetness and dignity that i could only stoop and kiss it. "i dare say i am merely a foolish womanwith a young girl's fancies.
and yet it is so real with me, so entirelypart of my very self, that i cannot help acting upon it. if i marry, i do want to marry a famousman!" "why should you not?"i cried. "it is women like you who brace men up. give me a chance, and see if i will takeit! besides, as you say, men ought to maketheir own chances, and not wait until they are given. look at clive--just a clerk, and heconquered india!
by george!i'll do something in the world yet!" she laughed at my sudden irisheffervescence. "why not?" she said."you have everything a man could have,-- youth, health, strength, education, energy. i was sorry you spoke.and now i am glad--so glad--if it wakens these thoughts in you!""and if i do----" her dear hand rested like warm velvet uponmy lips. "not another word, sir! you should have been at the office forevening duty half an hour ago; only i
hadn't the heart to remind you. some day, perhaps, when you have won yourplace in the world, we shall talk it over again." and so it was that i found myself thatfoggy november evening pursuing the camberwell tram with my heart glowingwithin me, and with the eager determination that not another day should elapse before i should find some deed which was worthy ofmy lady. but who--who in all this wide world couldever have imagined the incredible shape which that deed was to take, or the strangesteps by which i was led to the doing of
it? and, after all, this opening chapter willseem to the reader to have nothing to do with my narrative; and yet there would havebeen no narrative without it, for it is only when a man goes out into the world with the thought that there are heroismsall round him, and with the desire all alive in his heart to follow any which maycome within sight of him, that he breaks away as i did from the life he knows, and ventures forth into the wonderful mystictwilight land where lie the great adventures and the great rewards.
behold me, then, at the office of the dailygazette, on the staff of which i was a most insignificant unit, with the settleddetermination that very night, if possible, to find the quest which should be worthy ofmy gladys! was it hardness, was it selfishness, thatshe should ask me to risk my life for her own glorification? such thoughts may come to middle age; butnever to ardent three-and-twenty in the fever of his first love. > chapter ii"try your luck with professor challenger"
i always liked mcardle, the crabbed, old,round-backed, red-headed news editor, and i rather hoped that he liked me. of course, beaumont was the real boss; buthe lived in the rarefied atmosphere of some olympian height from which he coulddistinguish nothing smaller than an international crisis or a split in thecabinet. sometimes we saw him passing in lonelymajesty to his inner sanctum, with his eyes staring vaguely and his mind hovering overthe balkans or the persian gulf. he was above and beyond us. but mcardle was his first lieutenant, andit was he that we knew.
the old man nodded as i entered the room,and he pushed his spectacles far up on his bald forehead. "well, mr. malone, from all i hear, youseem to be doing very well," said he in his kindly scotch accent.i thanked him. "the colliery explosion was excellent. so was the southwark fire.you have the true descreeptive touch. what did you want to see me about?""to ask a favor." he looked alarmed, and his eyes shunnedmine. "tut, tut!what is it?"
"do you think, sir, that you could possiblysend me on some mission for the paper? i would do my best to put it through andget you some good copy." "what sort of meesion had you in your mind,mr. malone?" "well, sir, anything that had adventure anddanger in it. i really would do my very best. the more difficult it was, the better itwould suit me." "you seem very anxious to lose your life.""to justify my life, sir." "dear me, mr. malone, this is very--veryexalted. i'm afraid the day for this sort of thingis rather past.
the expense of the 'special meesion'business hardly justifies the result, and, of course, in any case it would only be anexperienced man with a name that would command public confidence who would getsuch an order. the big blank spaces in the map are allbeing filled in, and there's no room for romance anywhere. wait a bit, though!" he added, with asudden smile upon his face. "talking of the blank spaces of the mapgives me an idea. what about exposing a fraud--a modernmunchausen--and making him rideeculous? you could show him up as the liar that heis!
eh, man, it would be fine. how does it appeal to you?""anything--anywhere--i care nothing." mcardle was plunged in thought for someminutes. "i wonder whether you could get onfriendly--or at least on talking terms with the fellow," he said, at last. "you seem to have a sort of genius forestablishing relations with people-- seempathy, i suppose, or animal magnetism,or youthful vitality, or something. i am conscious of it myself." "you are very good, sir.""so why should you not try your luck with
professor challenger, of enmore park?"i dare say i looked a little startled. "challenger!" i cried."professor challenger, the famous zoologist!wasn't he the man who broke the skull of blundell, of the telegraph?" the news editor smiled grimly."do you mind? didn't you say it was adventures you wereafter?" "it is all in the way of business, sir," ianswered. "exactly.i don't suppose he can always be so violent
as that. i'm thinking that blundell got him at thewrong moment, maybe, or in the wrong fashion.you may have better luck, or more tact in handling him. there's something in your line there, i amsure, and the gazette should work it." "i really know nothing about him," said i. "i only remember his name in connectionwith the police-court proceedings, for striking blundell.""i have a few notes for your guidance, mr. malone.
i've had my eye on the professor for somelittle time." he took a paper from a drawer."here is a summary of his record. i give it you briefly:-- "'challenger, george edward.born: largs, n. b., 1863. educ.: largs academy; edinburgh university.british museum assistant, 1892. assistant-keeper of comparativeanthropology department, 1893. resigned after acrimonious correspondencesame year. winner of crayston medal for zoologicalresearch. foreign member of'--well, quite a lot ofthings, about two inches of small type--
'societe belge, american academy ofsciences, la plata, etc., etc. ex-president palaeontological society. section h, british association'--so on, soon!--'publications: "some observations upon a series of kalmuck skulls"; "outlines ofvertebrate evolution"; and numerous papers, including "the underlying fallacy of weissmannism," which caused heateddiscussion at the zoological congress of vienna.recreations: walking, alpine climbing. address: enmore park, kensington, w.' "there, take it with you.i've nothing more for you to-night."
i pocketed the slip of paper. "one moment, sir," i said, as i realizedthat it was a pink bald head, and not a red face, which was fronting me."i am not very clear yet why i am to interview this gentleman. what has he done?"the face flashed back again. "went to south america on a solitaryexpedeetion two years ago. came back last year. had undoubtedly been to south america, butrefused to say exactly where. began to tell his adventures in a vagueway, but somebody started to pick holes,
and he just shut up like an oyster. something wonderful happened--or the man'sa champion liar, which is the more probable supposeetion.had some damaged photographs, said to be fakes. got so touchy that he assaults anyone whoasks questions, and heaves reporters down the stairs.in my opinion he's just a homicidal megalomaniac with a turn for science. that's your man, mr. malone.now, off you run, and see what you can make of him.you're big enough to look after yourself.
anyway, you are all safe. employers' liability act, you know."a grinning red face turned once more into a pink oval, fringed with gingery fluff; theinterview was at an end. i walked across to the savage club, butinstead of turning into it i leaned upon the railings of adelphi terrace and gazedthoughtfully for a long time at the brown, oily river. i can always think most sanely and clearlyin the open air. i took out the list of professorchallenger's exploits, and i read it over under the electric lamp.
then i had what i can only regard as aninspiration. as a pressman, i felt sure from what i hadbeen told that i could never hope to get into touch with this cantankerousprofessor. but these recriminations, twice mentionedin his skeleton biography, could only mean that he was a fanatic in science.was there not an exposed margin there upon which he might be accessible? i would try.i entered the club. it was just after eleven, and the big roomwas fairly full, though the rush had not yet set in.
i noticed a tall, thin, angular man seatedin an arm-chair by the fire. he turned as i drew my chair up to him. it was the man of all others whom i shouldhave chosen--tarp henry, of the staff of nature, a thin, dry, leathery creature, whowas full, to those who knew him, of kindly humanity. i plunged instantly into my subject."what do you know of professor challenger?" "challenger?"he gathered his brows in scientific disapproval. "challenger was the man who came with somecock-and-bull story from south america."
"what story?""oh, it was rank nonsense about some queer animals he had discovered. i believe he has retracted since.anyhow, he has suppressed it all. he gave an interview to reuter's, and therewas such a howl that he saw it wouldn't do. it was a discreditable business. there were one or two folk who wereinclined to take him seriously, but he soon choked them off.""how?" "well, by his insufferable rudeness andimpossible behavior. there was poor old wadley, of thezoological institute.
wadley sent a message: 'the president ofthe zoological institute presents his compliments to professor challenger, andwould take it as a personal favor if he would do them the honor to come to theirnext meeting.' the answer was unprintable.""you don't say?" "well, a bowdlerized version of it wouldrun: 'professor challenger presents his compliments to the president of thezoological institute, and would take it as a personal favor if he would go to thedevil.'" "good lord!""yes, i expect that's what old wadley said. i remember his wail at the meeting, whichbegan: 'in fifty years experience of
scientific intercourse----' it quite brokethe old man up." "anything more about challenger?" "well, i'm a bacteriologist, you know.i live in a nine-hundred-diameter microscope. i can hardly claim to take serious noticeof anything that i can see with my naked eye. i'm a frontiersman from the extreme edge ofthe knowable, and i feel quite out of place when i leave my study and come into touchwith all you great, rough, hulking creatures.
i'm too detached to talk scandal, and yetat scientific conversaziones i have heard something of challenger, for he is one ofthose men whom nobody can ignore. he's as clever as they make 'em--a full-charged battery of force and vitality, but a quarrelsome, ill-conditioned faddist, andunscrupulous at that. he had gone the length of faking somephotographs over the south american business.""you say he is a faddist. what is his particular fad?" "he has a thousand, but the latest issomething about weissmann and evolution. he had a fearful row about it in vienna, ibelieve."
"can't you tell me the point?" "not at the moment, but a translation ofthe proceedings exists. we have it filed at the office.would you care to come?" "it's just what i want. i have to interview the fellow, and i needsome lead up to him. it's really awfully good of you to give mea lift. i'll go with you now, if it is not toolate." half an hour later i was seated in thenewspaper office with a huge tome in front of me, which had been opened at the article"weissmann versus darwin," with the sub
heading, "spirited protest at vienna. lively proceedings." my scientific education having beensomewhat neglected, i was unable to follow the whole argument, but it was evident thatthe english professor had handled his subject in a very aggressive fashion, and had thoroughly annoyed his continentalcolleagues. "protests," "uproar," and "general appealto the chairman" were three of the first brackets which caught my eye. most of the matter might have been writtenin chinese for any definite meaning that it
conveyed to my brain. "i wish you could translate it into englishfor me," i said, pathetically, to my help- mate."well, it is a translation." "then i'd better try my luck with theoriginal." "it is certainly rather deep for a layman." "if i could only get a single good, meatysentence which seemed to convey some sort of definite human idea, it would serve myturn. ah, yes, this one will do. i seem in a vague way almost to understandit.
i'll copy it out.this shall be my link with the terrible professor." "nothing else i can do?""well, yes; i propose to write to him. if i could frame the letter here, and useyour address it would give atmosphere." "we'll have the fellow round here making arow and breaking the furniture." "no, no; you'll see the letter--nothingcontentious, i assure you." "well, that's my chair and desk. you'll find paper there.i'd like to censor it before it goes." it took some doing, but i flatter myselfthat it wasn't such a bad job when it was
finished. i read it aloud to the criticalbacteriologist with some pride in my handiwork. "dear professor challenger," it said, "as ahumble student of nature, i have always taken the most profound interest in yourspeculations as to the differences between darwin and weissmann. i have recently had occasion to refresh mymemory by re-reading----" "you infernal liar!" murmured tarp henry.--"by re-reading your masterly address at vienna.
that lucid and admirable statement seems tobe the last word in the matter. there is one sentence in it, however--namely: 'i protest strongly against the insufferable and entirely dogmaticassertion that each separate id is a microcosm possessed of an historical architecture elaborated slowly through theseries of generations.' have you no desire, in view of laterresearch, to modify this statement? do you not think that it is over-accentuated? with your permission, i would ask the favorof an interview, as i feel strongly upon the subject, and have certain suggestionswhich i could only elaborate in a personal
conversation. with your consent, i trust to have thehonor of calling at eleven o'clock the day after to-morrow (wednesday) morning."i remain, sir, with assurances of profound respect, yours very truly, edward d. malone.""how's that?" i asked, triumphantly."well if your conscience can stand it----" "it has never failed me yet." "but what do you mean to do?""to get there. once i am in his room i may see someopening.
i may even go the length of openconfession. if he is a sportsman he will be tickled.""tickled, indeed! he's much more likely to do the tickling. chain mail, or an american football suit--that's what you'll want. well, good-bye. i'll have the answer for you here onwednesday morning--if he ever deigns to answer you. he is a violent, dangerous, cantankerouscharacter, hated by everyone who comes across him, and the butt of the students,so far as they dare take a liberty with
him. perhaps it would be best for you if younever heard from the fellow at all." chapter iii"he is a perfectly impossible person" my friend's fear or hope was not destinedto be realized. when i called on wednesday there was aletter with the west kensington postmark upon it, and my name scrawled across theenvelope in a handwriting which looked like a barbed-wire railing. the contents were as follows:--"enmore park, w. "sir,--i have duly received your note, inwhich you claim to endorse my views,
although i am not aware that they aredependent upon endorsement either from you or anyone else. you have ventured to use the word'speculation' with regard to my statement upon the subject of darwinism, and i wouldcall your attention to the fact that such a word in such a connection is offensive to adegree. the context convinces me, however, that youhave sinned rather through ignorance and tactlessness than through malice, so i amcontent to pass the matter by. you quote an isolated sentence from mylecture, and appear to have some difficulty in understanding it.
i should have thought that only a sub-humanintelligence could have failed to grasp the point, but if it really needs amplificationi shall consent to see you at the hour named, though visits and visitors of everysort are exceeding distasteful to me. as to your suggestion that i may modify myopinion, i would have you know that it is not my habit to do so after a deliberateexpression of my mature views. you will kindly show the envelope of thisletter to my man, austin, when you call, as he has to take every precaution to shieldme from the intrusive rascals who call themselves 'journalists.' "yours faithfully, "george edwardchallenger."
this was the letter that i read aloud totarp henry, who had come down early to hear the result of my venture. his only remark was, "there's some newstuff, cuticura or something, which is better than arnica."some people have such extraordinary notions of humor. it was nearly half-past ten before i hadreceived my message, but a taxicab took me round in good time for my appointment. it was an imposing porticoed house at whichwe stopped, and the heavily-curtained windows gave every indication of wealthupon the part of this formidable professor.
the door was opened by an odd, swarthy,dried-up person of uncertain age, with a dark pilot jacket and brown leathergaiters. i found afterwards that he was thechauffeur, who filled the gaps left by a succession of fugitive butlers.he looked me up and down with a searching light blue eye. "expected?" he asked."an appointment." "got your letter?"i produced the envelope. "right!" he seemed to be a person of few words.following him down the passage i was
suddenly interrupted by a small woman, whostepped out from what proved to be the dining-room door. she was a bright, vivacious, dark-eyedlady, more french than english in her type. "one moment," she said."you can wait, austin. step in here, sir. may i ask if you have met my husbandbefore?" "no, madam, i have not had the honor.""then i apologize to you in advance. i must tell you that he is a perfectlyimpossible person--absolutely impossible. if you are forewarned you will be the moreready to make allowances."
"it is most considerate of you, madam." "get quickly out of the room if he seemsinclined to be violent. don't wait to argue with him.several people have been injured through doing that. afterwards there is a public scandal and itreflects upon me and all of us. i suppose it wasn't about south america youwanted to see him?" i could not lie to a lady. "dear me!that is his most dangerous subject. you won't believe a word he says--i'm surei don't wonder.
but don't tell him so, for it makes himvery violent. pretend to believe him, and you may getthrough all right. remember he believes it himself. of that you may be assured.a more honest man never lived. don't wait any longer or he may suspect. if you find him dangerous--reallydangerous--ring the bell and hold him off until i come.even at his worst i can usually control him." with these encouraging words the ladyhanded me over to the taciturn austin, who
had waited like a bronze statue ofdiscretion during our short interview, and i was conducted to the end of the passage. there was a tap at a door, a bull's bellowfrom within, and i was face to face with the professor. he sat in a rotating chair behind a broadtable, which was covered with books, maps, and diagrams.as i entered, his seat spun round to face me. his appearance made me gasp.i was prepared for something strange, but not for so overpowering a personality asthis.
it was his size which took one's breathaway--his size and his imposing presence. his head was enormous, the largest i haveever seen upon a human being. i am sure that his top-hat, had i everventured to don it, would have slipped over me entirely and rested on my shoulders. he had the face and beard which i associatewith an assyrian bull; the former florid, the latter so black as almost to have asuspicion of blue, spade-shaped and rippling down over his chest. the hair was peculiar, plastered down infront in a long, curving wisp over his massive forehead.
the eyes were blue-gray under great blacktufts, very clear, very critical, and very masterful. a huge spread of shoulders and a chest likea barrel were the other parts of him which appeared above the table, save for twoenormous hands covered with long black hair. this and a bellowing, roaring, rumblingvoice made up my first impression of the notorious professor challenger."well?" said he, with a most insolent stare. "what now?"i must keep up my deception for at least a
little time longer, otherwise here wasevidently an end of the interview. "you were good enough to give me anappointment, sir," said i, humbly, producing his envelope.he took my letter from his desk and laid it out before him. "oh, you are the young person who cannotunderstand plain english, are you? my general conclusions you are good enoughto approve, as i understand?" "entirely, sir--entirely!" i was very emphatic."dear me! that strengthens my position very much,does it not?
your age and appearance make your supportdoubly valuable. well, at least you are better than thatherd of swine in vienna, whose gregarious grunt is, however, not more offensive thanthe isolated effort of the british hog." he glared at me as the presentrepresentative of the beast. "they seem to have behaved abominably,"said i. "i assure you that i can fight my ownbattles, and that i have no possible need of your sympathy.put me alone, sir, and with my back to the wall. g. e. c. is happiest then.well, sir, let us do what we can to curtail
this visit, which can hardly be agreeableto you, and is inexpressibly irksome to me. you had, as i have been led to believe,some comments to make upon the proposition which i advanced in my thesis."there was a brutal directness about his methods which made evasion difficult. i must still make play and wait for abetter opening. it had seemed simple enough at a distance.oh, my irish wits, could they not help me now, when i needed help so sorely? he transfixed me with two sharp, steelyeyes. "come, come!" he rumbled.
"i am, of course, a mere student," said i,with a fatuous smile, "hardly more, i might say, than an earnest inquirer. at the same time, it seemed to me that youwere a little severe upon weissmann in this matter. has not the general evidence since thatdate tended to--well, to strengthen his position?""what evidence?" he spoke with a menacing calm. "well, of course, i am aware that there isnot any what you might call definite evidence.
i alluded merely to the trend of modernthought and the general scientific point of view, if i might so express it."he leaned forward with great earnestness. "i suppose you are aware," said he,checking off points upon his fingers, "that the cranial index is a constant factor?""naturally," said i. "and that telegony is still sub judice?" "undoubtedly.""and that the germ plasm is different from the parthenogenetic egg?""why, surely!" i cried, and gloried in my own audacity. "but what does that prove?" he asked, in agentle, persuasive voice.
"ah, what indeed?"i murmured. "what does it prove?" "shall i tell you?" he cooed."pray do." "it proves," he roared, with a sudden blastof fury, "that you are the damnedest imposter in london--a vile, crawlingjournalist, who has no more science than he has decency in his composition!" he had sprung to his feet with a mad ragein his eyes. even at that moment of tension i found timefor amazement at the discovery that he was quite a short man, his head not higher thanmy shoulder--a stunted hercules whose
tremendous vitality had all run to depth,breadth, and brain. "gibberish!" he cried, leaning forward,with his fingers on the table and his face projecting. "that's what i have been talking to you,sir--scientific gibberish! did you think you could match cunning withme--you with your walnut of a brain? you think you are omnipotent, you infernalscribblers, don't you? that your praise can make a man and yourblame can break him? we must all bow to you, and try to get afavorable word, must we? this man shall have a leg up, and this manshall have a dressing down!
creeping vermin, i know you! you've got out of your station.time was when your ears were clipped. you've lost your sense of proportion.swollen gas-bags! i'll keep you in your proper place. yes, sir, you haven't got over g. e. c.there's one man who is still your master. he warned you off, but if you will come, bythe lord you do it at your own risk. forfeit, my good mr. malone, i claimforfeit! you have played a rather dangerous game,and it strikes me that you have lost it." "look here, sir," said i, backing to thedoor and opening it; "you can be as abusive
as you like.but there is a limit. you shall not assault me." "shall i not?"he was slowly advancing in a peculiarly menacing way, but he stopped now and puthis big hands into the side-pockets of a rather boyish short jacket which he wore. "i have thrown several of you out of thehouse. you will be the fourth or fifth.three pound fifteen each--that is how it averaged. expensive, but very necessary.now, sir, why should you not follow your
brethren?i rather think you must." he resumed his unpleasant and stealthyadvance, pointing his toes as he walked, like a dancing master.i could have bolted for the hall door, but it would have been too ignominious. besides, a little glow of righteous angerwas springing up within me. i had been hopelessly in the wrong before,but this man's menaces were putting me in the right. "i'll trouble you to keep your hands off,sir. i'll not stand it.""dear me!"
his black moustache lifted and a white fangtwinkled in a sneer. "you won't stand it, eh?""don't be such a fool, professor!" i cried. "what can you hope for?i'm fifteen stone, as hard as nails, and play center three-quarter every saturdayfor the london irish. i'm not the man----" it was at that moment that he rushed me.it was lucky that i had opened the door, or we should have gone through it.we did a catharine-wheel together down the passage.
somehow we gathered up a chair upon ourway, and bounded on with it towards the street. my mouth was full of his beard, our armswere locked, our bodies intertwined, and that infernal chair radiated its legs allround us. the watchful austin had thrown open thehall door. we went with a back somersault down thefront steps. i have seen the two macs attempt somethingof the kind at the halls, but it appears to take some practise to do it without hurtingoneself. the chair went to matchwood at the bottom,and we rolled apart into the gutter.
he sprang to his feet, waving his fists andwheezing like an asthmatic. "had enough?" he panted. "you infernal bully!"i cried, as i gathered myself together. then and there we should have tried thething out, for he was effervescing with fight, but fortunately i was rescued froman odious situation. a policeman was beside us, his notebook inhis hand. "what's all this?you ought to be ashamed" said the policeman. it was the most rational remark which i hadheard in enmore park.
"well," he insisted, turning to me, "whatis it, then?" "this man attacked me," said i. "did you attack him?" asked the policeman.the professor breathed hard and said nothing."it's not the first time, either," said the policeman, severely, shaking his head. "you were in trouble last month for thesame thing. you've blackened this young man's eye.do you give him in charge, sir?" i relented. "no," said i, "i do not.""what's that?" said the policeman.
"i was to blame myself.i intruded upon him. he gave me fair warning." the policeman snapped up his notebook."don't let us have any more such goings- on," said he."now, then! move on, there, move on!" this to a butcher's boy, a maid, and one ortwo loafers who had collected. he clumped heavily down the street, drivingthis little flock before him. the professor looked at me, and there wassomething humorous at the back of his eyes. "come in!" said he."i've not done with you yet."
the speech had a sinister sound, but ifollowed him none the less into the house. the man-servant, austin, like a woodenimage, closed the door behind us. chapter iv"it's just the very biggest thing in the world" hardly was it shut when mrs. challengerdarted out from the dining-room. the small woman was in a furious temper.she barred her husband's way like an enraged chicken in front of a bulldog. it was evident that she had seen my exit,but had not observed my return. "you brute, george!" she screamed."you've hurt that nice young man."
he jerked backwards with his thumb. "here he is, safe and sound behind me."she was confused, but not unduly so. "i am so sorry, i didn't see you.""i assure you, madam, that it is all right." "he has marked your poor face!oh, george, what a brute you are! nothing but scandals from one end of theweek to the other. everyone hating and making fun of you. you've finished my patience.this ends it." "dirty linen," he rumbled."it's not a secret," she cried.
"do you suppose that the whole street--thewhole of london, for that matter---- get away, austin, we don't want you here.do you suppose they don't all talk about you? where is your dignity?you, a man who should have been regius professor at a great university with athousand students all revering you. where is your dignity, george?" "how about yours, my dear?""you try me too much. a ruffian--a common brawling ruffian--that's what you have become." "be good, jessie."
"a roaring, raging bully!""that's done it! stool of penance!" said he. to my amazement he stooped, picked her up,and placed her sitting upon a high pedestal of black marble in the angle of the hall.it was at least seven feet high, and so thin that she could hardly balance upon it. a more absurd object than she presentedcocked up there with her face convulsed with anger, her feet dangling, and her bodyrigid for fear of an upset, i could not imagine. "let me down!" she wailed."say 'please.'"
"you brute, george!let me down this instant!" "come into the study, mr. malone." "really, sir----!" said i, looking at thelady. "here's mr. malone pleading for you,jessie. say 'please,' and down you come." "oh, you brute!please! please!" he took her down as if she had been acanary. "you must behave yourself, dear. mr. malone is a pressman.he will have it all in his rag to-morrow,
and sell an extra dozen among ourneighbors. 'strange story of high life'--you feltfairly high on that pedestal, did you not? then a sub-title, 'glimpse of a singularmenage.' he's a foul feeder, is mr. malone, acarrion eater, like all of his kind--porcus ex grege diaboli--a swine from the devil'sherd. that's it, malone--what?" "you are really intolerable!" said i,hotly. he bellowed with laughter. "we shall have a coalition presently," heboomed, looking from his wife to me and
puffing out his enormous chest.then, suddenly altering his tone, "excuse this frivolous family badinage, mr. malone. i called you back for some more seriouspurpose than to mix you up with our little domestic pleasantries.run away, little woman, and don't fret." he placed a huge hand upon each of hershoulders. "all that you say is perfectly true. i should be a better man if i did what youadvise, but i shouldn't be quite george edward challenger.there are plenty of better men, my dear, but only one g. e. c.
so make the best of him."he suddenly gave her a resounding kiss, which embarrassed me even more than hisviolence had done. "now, mr. malone," he continued, with agreat accession of dignity, "this way, if you please."we re-entered the room which we had left so tumultuously ten minutes before. the professor closed the door carefullybehind us, motioned me into an arm-chair, and pushed a cigar-box under my nose."real san juan colorado," he said. "excitable people like you are the betterfor narcotics. heavens! don't bite it!cut--and cut with reverence!
now lean back, and listen attentively towhatever i may care to say to you. if any remark should occur to you, you canreserve it for some more opportune time. "first of all, as to your return to myhouse after your most justifiable expulsion"--he protruded his beard, andstared at me as one who challenges and invites contradiction--"after, as i say,your well-merited expulsion. the reason lay in your answer to that mostofficious policeman, in which i seemed to discern some glimmering of good feelingupon your part--more, at any rate, than i am accustomed to associate with yourprofession. in admitting that the fault of the incidentlay with you, you gave some evidence of a
certain mental detachment and breadth ofview which attracted my favorable notice. the sub-species of the human race to whichyou unfortunately belong has always been below my mental horizon.your words brought you suddenly above it. you swam up into my serious notice. for this reason i asked you to return withme, as i was minded to make your further acquaintance. you will kindly deposit your ash in thesmall japanese tray on the bamboo table which stands at your left elbow."all this he boomed forth like a professor addressing his class.
he had swung round his revolving chair soas to face me, and he sat all puffed out like an enormous bull-frog, his head laidback and his eyes half-covered by supercilious lids. now he suddenly turned himself sideways,and all i could see of him was tangled hair with a red, protruding ear.he was scratching about among the litter of papers upon his desk. he faced me presently with what looked likea very tattered sketch-book in his hand. "i am going to talk to you about southamerica," said he. "no comments if you please.
first of all, i wish you to understand thatnothing i tell you now is to be repeated in any public way unless you have my expresspermission. that permission will, in all humanprobability, never be given. is that clear?""it is very hard," said i. "surely a judicious account----" he replaced the notebook upon the table."that ends it," said he. "i wish you a very good morning.""no, no!" "i submit to any conditions.so far as i can see, i have no choice." "none in the world," said he."well, then, i promise."
"word of honor?" "word of honor."he looked at me with doubt in his insolent eyes."after all, what do i know about your honor?" said he. "upon my word, sir," i cried, angrily, "youtake very great liberties! i have never been so insulted in my life."he seemed more interested than annoyed at my outbreak. "round-headed," he muttered."brachycephalic, gray-eyed, black-haired, with suggestion of the negroid.celtic, i presume?"
"i am an irishman, sir." "irish irish?""yes, sir." "that, of course, explains it.let me see; you have given me your promise that my confidence will be respected? that confidence, i may say, will be farfrom complete. but i am prepared to give you a fewindications which will be of interest. in the first place, you are probably awarethat two years ago i made a journey to south america--one which will be classicalin the scientific history of the world? the object of my journey was to verify someconclusions of wallace and of bates, which
could only be done by observing theirreported facts under the same conditions in which they had themselves noted them. if my expedition had no other results itwould still have been noteworthy, but a curious incident occurred to me while therewhich opened up an entirely fresh line of inquiry. "you are aware--or probably, in this half-educated age, you are not aware--that the country round some parts of the amazon isstill only partially explored, and that a great number of tributaries, some of them entirely uncharted, run into the mainriver.
it was my business to visit this little-known back-country and to examine its fauna, which furnished me with thematerials for several chapters for that great and monumental work upon zoologywhich will be my life's justification. i was returning, my work accomplished, wheni had occasion to spend a night at a small indian village at a point where a certaintributary--the name and position of which i withhold--opens into the main river. the natives were cucama indians, an amiablebut degraded race, with mental powers hardly superior to the average londoner. i had effected some cures among them uponmy way up the river, and had impressed them
considerably with my personality, so that iwas not surprised to find myself eagerly awaited upon my return. i gathered from their signs that someonehad urgent need of my medical services, and i followed the chief to one of his huts. when i entered i found that the sufferer towhose aid i had been summoned had that instant expired. he was, to my surprise, no indian, but awhite man; indeed, i may say a very white man, for he was flaxen-haired and had somecharacteristics of an albino. he was clad in rags, was very emaciated,and bore every trace of prolonged hardship.
so far as i could understand the account ofthe natives, he was a complete stranger to them, and had come upon their villagethrough the woods alone and in the last stage of exhaustion. "the man's knapsack lay beside the couch,and i examined the contents. his name was written upon a tab within it--maple white, lake avenue, detroit, michigan. it is a name to which i am prepared alwaysto lift my hat. it is not too much to say that it will ranklevel with my own when the final credit of this business comes to be apportioned.
"from the contents of the knapsack it wasevident that this man had been an artist and poet in search of effects.there were scraps of verse. i do not profess to be a judge of suchthings, but they appeared to me to be singularly wanting in merit. there were also some rather commonplacepictures of river scenery, a paint-box, a box of colored chalks, some brushes, thatcurved bone which lies upon my inkstand, a volume of baxter's 'moths and butterflies,'a cheap revolver, and a few cartridges. of personal equipment he either had none orhe had lost it in his journey. such were the total effects of this strangeamerican bohemian.
"i was turning away from him when iobserved that something projected from the front of his ragged jacket. it was this sketch-book, which was asdilapidated then as you see it now. indeed, i can assure you that a first folioof shakespeare could not be treated with greater reverence than this relic has beensince it came into my possession. i hand it to you now, and i ask you to takeit page by page and to examine the contents." he helped himself to a cigar and leanedback with a fiercely critical pair of eyes, taking note of the effect which thisdocument would produce.
i had opened the volume with someexpectation of a revelation, though of what nature i could not imagine. the first page was disappointing, however,as it contained nothing but the picture of a very fat man in a pea-jacket, with thelegend, "jimmy colver on the mail-boat," written beneath it. there followed several pages which werefilled with small sketches of indians and their ways. then came a picture of a cheerful andcorpulent ecclesiastic in a shovel hat, sitting opposite a very thin european, andthe inscription: "lunch with fra
cristofero at rosario." studies of women and babies accounted forseveral more pages, and then there was an unbroken series of animal drawings withsuch explanations as "manatee upon sandbank," "turtles and their eggs," "black ajouti under a miriti palm"--the matterdisclosing some sort of pig-like animal; and finally came a double page of studiesof long-snouted and very unpleasant saurians. i could make nothing of it, and said so tothe professor. "surely these are only crocodiles?""alligators!
alligators! there is hardly such a thing as a truecrocodile in south america. the distinction between them----""i meant that i could see nothing unusual-- nothing to justify what you have said." he smiled serenely."try the next page," said he. i was still unable to sympathize. it was a full-page sketch of a landscaperoughly tinted in color--the kind of painting which an open-air artist takes asa guide to a future more elaborate effort. there was a pale-green foreground offeathery vegetation, which sloped upwards
and ended in a line of cliffs dark red incolor, and curiously ribbed like some basaltic formations which i have seen. they extended in an unbroken wall rightacross the background. at one point was an isolated pyramidalrock, crowned by a great tree, which appeared to be separated by a cleft fromthe main crag. behind it all, a blue tropical sky. a thin green line of vegetation fringed thesummit of the ruddy cliff. "well?" he asked. "it is no doubt a curious formation," saidi "but i am not geologist enough to say
that it is wonderful.""wonderful!" he repeated. "it is unique. it is incredible.no one on earth has ever dreamed of such a possibility.now the next." i turned it over, and gave an exclamationof surprise. there was a full-page picture of the mostextraordinary creature that i had ever seen. it was the wild dream of an opium smoker, avision of delirium. the head was like that of a fowl, the bodythat of a bloated lizard, the trailing tail
was furnished with upward-turned spikes,and the curved back was edged with a high serrated fringe, which looked like a dozencocks' wattles placed behind each other. in front of this creature was an absurdmannikin, or dwarf, in human form, who stood staring at it. "well, what do you think of that?" criedthe professor, rubbing his hands with an air of triumph."it is monstrous--grotesque." "but what made him draw such an animal?" "trade gin, i should think.""oh, that's the best explanation you can give, is it?""well, sir, what is yours?"
"the obvious one that the creature exists. that is actually sketched from the life."i should have laughed only that i had a vision of our doing another catharine-wheeldown the passage. "no doubt," said i, "no doubt," as onehumors an imbecile. "i confess, however," i added, "that thistiny human figure puzzles me. if it were an indian we could set it downas evidence of some pigmy race in america, but it appears to be a european in a sun-hat." the professor snorted like an angrybuffalo. "you really touch the limit," said he."you enlarge my view of the possible.
cerebral paresis! mental inertia!wonderful!" he was too absurd to make me angry. indeed, it was a waste of energy, for ifyou were going to be angry with this man you would be angry all the time.i contented myself with smiling wearily. "it struck me that the man was small," saidi. "look here!" he cried, leaning forward anddabbing a great hairy sausage of a finger on to the picture. "you see that plant behind the animal; isuppose you thought it was a dandelion or a
brussels sprout--what?well, it is a vegetable ivory palm, and they run to about fifty or sixty feet. don't you see that the man is put in for apurpose? he couldn't really have stood in front ofthat brute and lived to draw it. he sketched himself in to give a scale ofheights. he was, we will say, over five feet high.the tree is ten times bigger, which is what one would expect." "good heavens!"i cried. "then you think the beast was---- why,charing cross station would hardly make a
kennel for such a brute!" "apart from exaggeration, he is certainly awell-grown specimen," said the professor, complacently. "but," i cried, "surely the wholeexperience of the human race is not to be set aside on account of a single sketch"--ihad turned over the leaves and ascertained that there was nothing more in the book--"a single sketch by a wandering americanartist who may have done it under hashish, or in the delirium of fever, or simply inorder to gratify a freakish imagination. you can't, as a man of science, defend sucha position as that."
for answer the professor took a book downfrom a shelf. "this is an excellent monograph by mygifted friend, ray lankester!" said he. "there is an illustration here which wouldinterest you. ah, yes, here it is! the inscription beneath it runs: 'probableappearance in life of the jurassic dinosaur stegosaurus.the hind leg alone is twice as tall as a full-grown man.' well, what do you make of that?"he handed me the open book. i started as i looked at the picture.
in this reconstructed animal of a deadworld there was certainly a very great resemblance to the sketch of the unknownartist. "that is certainly remarkable," said i. "but you won't admit that it is final?""surely it might be a coincidence, or this american may have seen a picture of thekind and carried it in his memory. it would be likely to recur to a man in adelirium." "very good," said the professor,indulgently; "we leave it at that. i will now ask you to look at this bone." he handed over the one which he had alreadydescribed as part of the dead man's
possessions. it was about six inches long, and thickerthan my thumb, with some indications of dried cartilage at one end of it."to what known creature does that bone belong?" asked the professor. i examined it with care and tried to recallsome half-forgotten knowledge. "it might be a very thick human collar-bone," i said. my companion waved his hand in contemptuousdeprecation. "the human collar-bone is curved.this is straight. there is a groove upon its surface showingthat a great tendon played across it, which
could not be the case with a clavicle.""then i must confess that i don't know what it is." "you need not be ashamed to expose yourignorance, for i don't suppose the whole south kensington staff could give a name toit." he took a little bone the size of a beanout of a pill-box. "so far as i am a judge this human bone isthe analogue of the one which you hold in your hand. that will give you some idea of the size ofthe creature. you will observe from the cartilage thatthis is no fossil specimen, but recent.
what do you say to that?" "surely in an elephant----"he winced as if in pain. "don't!don't talk of elephants in south america. even in these days of board schools----" "well," i interrupted, "any large southamerican animal--a tapir, for example." "you may take it, young man, that i amversed in the elements of my business. this is not a conceivable bone either of atapir or of any other creature known to zoology. it belongs to a very large, a very strong,and, by all analogy, a very fierce animal
which exists upon the face of the earth,but has not yet come under the notice of science. you are still unconvinced?""i am at least deeply interested." "then your case is not hopeless. i feel that there is reason lurking in yousomewhere, so we will patiently grope round for it.we will now leave the dead american and proceed with my narrative. you can imagine that i could hardly comeaway from the amazon without probing deeper into the matter.there were indications as to the direction
from which the dead traveler had come. indian legends would alone have been myguide, for i found that rumors of a strange land were common among all the riverinetribes. you have heard, no doubt, of curupuri?" "never.""curupuri is the spirit of the woods, something terrible, something malevolent,something to be avoided. none can describe its shape or nature, butit is a word of terror along the amazon. now all tribes agree as to the direction inwhich curupuri lives. it was the same direction from which theamerican had come.
something terrible lay that way.it was my business to find out what it was." "what did you do?"my flippancy was all gone. this massive man compelled one's attentionand respect. "i overcame the extreme reluctance of thenatives--a reluctance which extends even to talk upon the subject--and by judiciouspersuasion and gifts, aided, i will admit, by some threats of coercion, i got two ofthem to act as guides. after many adventures which i need notdescribe, and after traveling a distance which i will not mention, in a directionwhich i withhold, we came at last to a
tract of country which has never been described, nor, indeed, visited save by myunfortunate predecessor. would you kindly look at this?"he handed me a photograph--half-plate size. "the unsatisfactory appearance of it is dueto the fact," said he, "that on descending the river the boat was upset and the casewhich contained the undeveloped films was broken, with disastrous results. nearly all of them were totally ruined--anirreparable loss. this is one of the few which partiallyescaped. this explanation of deficiencies orabnormalities you will kindly accept.
there was talk of faking.i am not in a mood to argue such a point." the photograph was certainly very off-colored. an unkind critic might easily havemisinterpreted that dim surface. it was a dull gray landscape, and as igradually deciphered the details of it i realized that it represented a long andenormously high line of cliffs exactly like an immense cataract seen in the distance, with a sloping, tree-clad plain in theforeground. "i believe it is the same place as thepainted picture," said i. "it is the same place," the professoranswered.
"i found traces of the fellow's camp.now look at this." it was a nearer view of the same scene,though the photograph was extremely defective. i could distinctly see the isolated, tree-crowned pinnacle of rock which was detached from the crag."i have no doubt of it at all," said i. "well, that is something gained," said he. "we progress, do we not?now, will you please look at the top of that rocky pinnacle?do you observe something there?" "an enormous tree."
"but on the tree?""a large bird," said i. he handed me a lens."yes," i said, peering through it, "a large bird stands on the tree. it appears to have a considerable beak.i should say it was a pelican." "i cannot congratulate you upon youreyesight," said the professor. "it is not a pelican, nor, indeed, is it abird. it may interest you to know that isucceeded in shooting that particular specimen. it was the only absolute proof of myexperiences which i was able to bring away
with me.""you have it, then?" here at last was tangible corroboration. "i had it.it was unfortunately lost with so much else in the same boat accident which ruined myphotographs. i clutched at it as it disappeared in theswirl of the rapids, and part of its wing was left in my hand. i was insensible when washed ashore, butthe miserable remnant of my superb specimen was still intact; i now lay it before you." from a drawer he produced what seemed to meto be the upper portion of the wing of a
large bat. it was at least two feet in length, acurved bone, with a membranous veil beneath it."a monstrous bat!" i suggested. "nothing of the sort," said the professor,severely. "living, as i do, in an educated andscientific atmosphere, i could not have conceived that the first principles ofzoology were so little known. is it possible that you do not know theelementary fact in comparative anatomy, that the wing of a bird is really theforearm, while the wing of a bat consists
of three elongated fingers with membranesbetween? now, in this case, the bone is certainlynot the forearm, and you can see for yourself that this is a single membranehanging upon a single bone, and therefore that it cannot belong to a bat. but if it is neither bird nor bat, what isit?" my small stock of knowledge was exhausted."i really do not know," said i. he opened the standard work to which he hadalready referred me. "here," said he, pointing to the picture ofan extraordinary flying monster, "is an excellent reproduction of the dimorphodon,or pterodactyl, a flying reptile of the
jurassic period. on the next page is a diagram of themechanism of its wing. kindly compare it with the specimen in yourhand." a wave of amazement passed over me as ilooked. i was convinced.there could be no getting away from it. the cumulative proof was overwhelming. the sketch, the photographs, the narrative,and now the actual specimen--the evidence was complete.i said so--i said so warmly, for i felt that the professor was an ill-used man.
he leaned back in his chair with droopingeyelids and a tolerant smile, basking in this sudden gleam of sunshine. "it's just the very biggest thing that iever heard of!" said i, though it was my journalistic rather than my scientificenthusiasm that was roused. "it is colossal. you are a columbus of science who hasdiscovered a lost world. i'm awfully sorry if i seemed to doubt you.it was all so unthinkable. but i understand evidence when i see it,and this should be good enough for anyone." the professor purred with satisfaction."and then, sir, what did you do next?"
"it was the wet season, mr. malone, and mystores were exhausted. i explored some portion of this huge cliff,but i was unable to find any way to scale it. the pyramidal rock upon which i saw andshot the pterodactyl was more accessible. being something of a cragsman, i did manageto get half way to the top of that. from that height i had a better idea of theplateau upon the top of the crags. it appeared to be very large; neither toeast nor to west could i see any end to the vista of green-capped cliffs. below, it is a swampy, jungly region, fullof snakes, insects, and fever.
it is a natural protection to this singularcountry." "did you see any other trace of life?" "no, sir, i did not; but during the weekthat we lay encamped at the base of the cliff we heard some very strange noisesfrom above." "but the creature that the american drew? how do you account for that?""we can only suppose that he must have made his way to the summit and seen it there.we know, therefore, that there is a way up. we know equally that it must be a verydifficult one, otherwise the creatures would have come down and overrun thesurrounding country.
surely that is clear?" "but how did they come to be there?""i do not think that the problem is a very obscure one," said the professor; "therecan only be one explanation. south america is, as you may have heard, agranite continent. at this single point in the interior therehas been, in some far distant age, a great, sudden volcanic upheaval. these cliffs, i may remark, are basaltic,and therefore plutonic. an area, as large perhaps as sussex, hasbeen lifted up en bloc with all its living contents, and cut off by perpendicularprecipices of a hardness which defies
erosion from all the rest of the continent. what is the result?why, the ordinary laws of nature are suspended. the various checks which influence thestruggle for existence in the world at large are all neutralized or altered.creatures survive which would otherwise disappear. you will observe that both the pterodactyland the stegosaurus are jurassic, and therefore of a great age in the order oflife. they have been artificially conserved bythose strange accidental conditions."
"but surely your evidence is conclusive.you have only to lay it before the proper authorities." "so in my simplicity, i had imagined," saidthe professor, bitterly. "i can only tell you that it was not so,that i was met at every turn by incredulity, born partly of stupidity andpartly of jealousy. it is not my nature, sir, to cringe to anyman, or to seek to prove a fact if my word has been doubted. after the first i have not condescended toshow such corroborative proofs as i possess.the subject became hateful to me--i would
not speak of it. when men like yourself, who represent thefoolish curiosity of the public, came to disturb my privacy i was unable to meetthem with dignified reserve. by nature i am, i admit, somewhat fiery,and under provocation i am inclined to be violent.i fear you may have remarked it." i nursed my eye and was silent. "my wife has frequently remonstrated withme upon the subject, and yet i fancy that any man of honor would feel the same. to-night, however, i propose to give anextreme example of the control of the will
over the emotions.i invite you to be present at the exhibition." he handed me a card from his desk. "you will perceive that mr. percivalwaldron, a naturalist of some popular repute, is announced to lecture at eight-thirty at the zoological institute's hall upon 'the record of the ages.' i have been specially invited to be presentupon the platform, and to move a vote of thanks to the lecturer. while doing so, i shall make it mybusiness, with infinite tact and delicacy,
to throw out a few remarks which may arousethe interest of the audience and cause some of them to desire to go more deeply intothe matter. nothing contentious, you understand, butonly an indication that there are greater deeps beyond. i shall hold myself strongly in leash, andsee whether by this self-restraint i attain a more favorable result.""and i may come?" i asked eagerly. "why, surely," he answered, cordially.he had an enormously massive genial manner, which was almost as overpowering as hisviolence.
his smile of benevolence was a wonderfulthing, when his cheeks would suddenly bunch into two red apples, between his half-closed eyes and his great black beard. "by all means, come. it will be a comfort to me to know that ihave one ally in the hall, however inefficient and ignorant of the subject hemay be. i fancy there will be a large audience, forwaldron, though an absolute charlatan, has a considerable popular following.now, mr. malone, i have given you rather more of my time than i had intended. the individual must not monopolize what ismeant for the world.
i shall be pleased to see you at thelecture to-night. in the meantime, you will understand thatno public use is to be made of any of the material that i have given you.""but mr. mcardle--my news editor, you know- -will want to know what i have done." "tell him what you like.you can say, among other things, that if he sends anyone else to intrude upon me ishall call upon him with a riding-whip. but i leave it to you that nothing of allthis appears in print. very good.then the zoological institute's hall at eight-thirty to-night."
i had a last impression of red cheeks, bluerippling beard, and intolerant eyes, as he waved me out of the room. chapter v"question!" what with the physical shocks incidental tomy first interview with professor challenger and the mental ones whichaccompanied the second, i was a somewhat demoralized journalist by the time i foundmyself in enmore park once more. in my aching head the one thought wasthrobbing that there really was truth in this man's story, that it was of tremendousconsequence, and that it would work up into inconceivable copy for the gazette when icould obtain permission to use it.
a taxicab was waiting at the end of theroad, so i sprang into it and drove down to the office. mcardle was at his post as usual."well," he cried, expectantly, "what may it run to?i'm thinking, young man, you have been in the wars. don't tell me that he assaulted you.""we had a little difference at first." "what a man it is!what did you do?" "well, he became more reasonable and we hada chat. but i got nothing out of him--nothing forpublication."
"i'm not so sure about that. you got a black eye out of him, and that'sfor publication. we can't have this reign of terror, mr.malone. we must bring the man to his bearings. i'll have a leaderette on him to-morrowthat will raise a blister. just give me the material and i will engageto brand the fellow for ever. professor munchausen--how's that for aninset headline? sir john mandeville redivivus--cagliostro--all the imposters and bullies in history. i'll show him up for the fraud he is."
"i wouldn't do that, sir.""why not?" "because he is not a fraud at all.""what!" roared mcardle. "you don't mean to say you really believethis stuff of his about mammoths and mastodons and great sea sairpents?""well, i don't know about that. i don't think he makes any claims of thatkind. but i do believe he has got something new.""then for heaven's sake, man, write it up!" "i'm longing to, but all i know he gave mein confidence and on condition that i didn't."i condensed into a few sentences the professor's narrative.
"that's how it stands."mcardle looked deeply incredulous. "well, mr. malone," he said at last, "aboutthis scientific meeting to-night; there can be no privacy about that, anyhow. i don't suppose any paper will want toreport it, for waldron has been reported already a dozen times, and no one is awarethat challenger will speak. we may get a scoop, if we are lucky. you'll be there in any case, so you'll justgive us a pretty full report. i'll keep space up to midnight." my day was a busy one, and i had an earlydinner at the savage club with tarp henry,
to whom i gave some account of myadventures. he listened with a sceptical smile on hisgaunt face, and roared with laughter on hearing that the professor had convincedme. "my dear chap, things don't happen likethat in real life. people don't stumble upon enormousdiscoveries and then lose their evidence. leave that to the novelists. the fellow is as full of tricks as themonkey-house at the zoo. it's all bosh.""but the american poet?" "he never existed."
"i saw his sketch-book.""challenger's sketch-book." "you think he drew that animal?""of course he did. who else?" "well, then, the photographs?""there was nothing in the photographs. by your own admission you only saw a bird.""a pterodactyl." "that's what he says. he put the pterodactyl into your head.""well, then, the bones?" "first one out of an irish stew.second one vamped up for the occasion. if you are clever and know your businessyou can fake a bone as easily as you can a
photograph."i began to feel uneasy. perhaps, after all, i had been premature inmy acquiescence. then i had a sudden happy thought."will you come to the meeting?" i asked. tarp henry looked thoughtful."he is not a popular person, the genial challenger," said he."a lot of people have accounts to settle with him. i should say he is about the best-hated manin london. if the medical students turn out there willbe no end of a rag.
i don't want to get into a bear-garden." "you might at least do him the justice tohear him state his own case." "well, perhaps it's only fair.all right. i'm your man for the evening." when we arrived at the hall we found a muchgreater concourse than i had expected. a line of electric broughams dischargedtheir little cargoes of white-bearded professors, while the dark stream ofhumbler pedestrians, who crowded through the arched door-way, showed that the audience would be popular as well asscientific.
indeed, it became evident to us as soon aswe had taken our seats that a youthful and even boyish spirit was abroad in thegallery and the back portions of the hall. looking behind me, i could see rows offaces of the familiar medical student type. apparently the great hospitals had eachsent down their contingent. the behavior of the audience at present wasgood-humored, but mischievous. scraps of popular songs were chorused withan enthusiasm which was a strange prelude to a scientific lecture, and there wasalready a tendency to personal chaff which promised a jovial evening to others, however embarrassing it might be to therecipients of these dubious honors.
thus, when old doctor meldrum, with hiswell-known curly-brimmed opera-hat, appeared upon the platform, there was sucha universal query of "where did you get that tile?" that he hurriedly removed it,and concealed it furtively under his chair. when gouty professor wadley limped down tohis seat there were general affectionate inquiries from all parts of the hall as tothe exact state of his poor toe, which caused him obvious embarrassment. the greatest demonstration of all, however,was at the entrance of my new acquaintance, professor challenger, when he passed downto take his place at the extreme end of the front row of the platform.
such a yell of welcome broke forth when hisblack beard first protruded round the corner that i began to suspect tarp henrywas right in his surmise, and that this assemblage was there not merely for the sake of the lecture, but because it had gotrumored abroad that the famous professor would take part in the proceedings. there was some sympathetic laughter on hisentrance among the front benches of well- dressed spectators, as though thedemonstration of the students in this instance was not unwelcome to them. that greeting was, indeed, a frightfuloutburst of sound, the uproar of the
carnivora cage when the step of the bucket-bearing keeper is heard in the distance. there was an offensive tone in it, perhaps,and yet in the main it struck me as mere riotous outcry, the noisy reception of onewho amused and interested them, rather than of one they disliked or despised. challenger smiled with weary and tolerantcontempt, as a kindly man would meet the yapping of a litter of puppies. he sat slowly down, blew out his chest,passed his hand caressingly down his beard, and looked with drooping eyelids andsupercilious eyes at the crowded hall before him.
the uproar of his advent had not yet diedaway when professor ronald murray, the chairman, and mr. waldron, the lecturer,threaded their way to the front, and the proceedings began. professor murray will, i am sure, excuse meif i say that he has the common fault of most englishmen of being inaudible. why on earth people who have something tosay which is worth hearing should not take the slight trouble to learn how to make itheard is one of the strange mysteries of modern life. their methods are as reasonable as to tryto pour some precious stuff from the spring
to the reservoir through a non-conductingpipe, which could by the least effort be opened. professor murray made several profoundremarks to his white tie and to the water- carafe upon the table, with a humorous,twinkling aside to the silver candlestick upon his right. then he sat down, and mr. waldron, thefamous popular lecturer, rose amid a general murmur of applause. he was a stern, gaunt man, with a harshvoice, and an aggressive manner, but he had the merit of knowing how to assimilate theideas of other men, and to pass them on in
a way which was intelligible and even interesting to the lay public, with a happyknack of being funny about the most unlikely objects, so that the precession ofthe equinox or the formation of a vertebrate became a highly humorous processas treated by him. it was a bird's-eye view of creation, asinterpreted by science, which, in language always clear and sometimes picturesque, heunfolded before us. he told us of the globe, a huge mass offlaming gas, flaring through the heavens. then he pictured the solidification, thecooling, the wrinkling which formed the mountains, the steam which turned to water,the slow preparation of the stage upon
which was to be played the inexplicabledrama of life. on the origin of life itself he wasdiscreetly vague. that the germs of it could hardly havesurvived the original roasting was, he declared, fairly certain.therefore it had come later. had it built itself out of the cooling,inorganic elements of the globe? very likely.had the germs of it arrived from outside upon a meteor? it was hardly conceivable.on the whole, the wisest man was the least dogmatic upon the point.
we could not--or at least we had notsucceeded up to date in making organic life in our laboratories out of inorganicmaterials. the gulf between the dead and the livingwas something which our chemistry could not as yet bridge. but there was a higher and subtlerchemistry of nature, which, working with great forces over long epochs, might wellproduce results which were impossible for us. there the matter must be left. this brought the lecturer to the greatladder of animal life, beginning low down
in molluscs and feeble sea creatures, thenup rung by rung through reptiles and fishes, till at last we came to a kangaroo- rat, a creature which brought forth itsyoung alive, the direct ancestor of all mammals, and presumably, therefore, ofeveryone in the audience. ("no, no," from a sceptical student in theback row.) if the young gentleman in the red tie whocried "no, no," and who presumably claimed to have been hatched out of an egg, wouldwait upon him after the lecture, he would be glad to see such a curiosity. (laughter.)it was strange to think that the climax of
all the age-long process of nature had beenthe creation of that gentleman in the red tie. but had the process stopped?was this gentleman to be taken as the final type--the be-all and end-all ofdevelopment? he hoped that he would not hurt thefeelings of the gentleman in the red tie if he maintained that, whatever virtues thatgentleman might possess in private life, still the vast processes of the universe were not fully justified if they were toend entirely in his production. evolution was not a spent force, but onestill working, and even greater
achievements were in store. having thus, amid a general titter, playedvery prettily with his interrupter, the lecturer went back to his picture of thepast, the drying of the seas, the emergence of the sand-bank, the sluggish, viscous life which lay upon their margins, theovercrowded lagoons, the tendency of the sea creatures to take refuge upon the mud-flats, the abundance of food awaiting them, their consequent enormous growth. "hence, ladies and gentlemen," he added,"that frightful brood of saurians which still affright our eyes when seen in thewealden or in the solenhofen slates, but
which were fortunately extinct long before the first appearance of mankind upon thisplanet." "question!" boomed a voice from theplatform. mr. waldron was a strict disciplinarianwith a gift of acid humor, as exemplified upon the gentleman with the red tie, whichmade it perilous to interrupt him. but this interjection appeared to him soabsurd that he was at a loss how to deal with it. so looks the shakespearean who isconfronted by a rancid baconian, or the astronomer who is assailed by a flat-earthfanatic.
he paused for a moment, and then, raisinghis voice, repeated slowly the words: "which were extinct before the coming ofman." "question!" boomed the voice once more. waldron looked with amazement along theline of professors upon the platform until his eyes fell upon the figure ofchallenger, who leaned back in his chair with closed eyes and an amused expression,as if he were smiling in his sleep. "i see!" said waldron, with a shrug. "it is my friend professor challenger," andamid laughter he renewed his lecture as if this was a final explanation and no moreneed be said.
but the incident was far from being closed. whatever path the lecturer took amid thewilds of the past seemed invariably to lead him to some assertion as to extinct orprehistoric life which instantly brought the same bulls' bellow from the professor. the audience began to anticipate it and toroar with delight when it came. the packed benches of students joined in,and every time challenger's beard opened, before any sound could come forth, therewas a yell of "question!" from a hundred voices, and an answering counter cry of"order!" and "shame!" from as many more. waldron, though a hardened lecturer and astrong man, became rattled.
he hesitated, stammered, repeated himself,got snarled in a long sentence, and finally turned furiously upon the cause of histroubles. "this is really intolerable!" he cried,glaring across the platform. "i must ask you, professor challenger, tocease these ignorant and unmannerly interruptions." there was a hush over the hall, thestudents rigid with delight at seeing the high gods on olympus quarrelling amongthemselves. challenger levered his bulky figure slowlyout of his chair. "i must in turn ask you, mr. waldron," hesaid, "to cease to make assertions which
are not in strict accordance withscientific fact." the words unloosed a tempest. "shame!shame!" "give him a hearing!""put him out!" "shove him off the platform!" "fair play!" emerged from a general roar ofamusement or execration. the chairman was on his feet flapping bothhis hands and bleating excitedly. "professor challenger--personal--views--later," were the solid peaks above his clouds of inaudible mutter.the interrupter bowed, smiled, stroked his
beard, and relapsed into his chair. waldron, very flushed and warlike,continued his observations. now and then, as he made an assertion, heshot a venomous glance at his opponent, who seemed to be slumbering deeply, with thesame broad, happy smile upon his face. at last the lecture came to an end--i aminclined to think that it was a premature one, as the peroration was hurried anddisconnected. the thread of the argument had been rudelybroken, and the audience was restless and expectant. waldron sat down, and, after a chirrup fromthe chairman, professor challenger rose and
advanced to the edge of the platform.in the interests of my paper i took down his speech verbatim. "ladies and gentlemen," he began, amid asustained interruption from the back. "i beg pardon--ladies, gentlemen, andchildren--i must apologize, i had inadvertently omitted a considerablesection of this audience" (tumult, during which the professor stood with one hand raised and his enormous head noddingsympathetically, as if he were bestowing a pontifical blessing upon the crowd), "ihave been selected to move a vote of thanks to mr. waldron for the very picturesque and
imaginative address to which we have justlistened. there are points in it with which idisagree, and it has been my duty to indicate them as they arose, but, none theless, mr. waldron has accomplished his object well, that object being to give a simple and interesting account of what heconceives to have been the history of our planet. popular lectures are the easiest to listento, but mr. waldron" (here he beamed and blinked at the lecturer) "will excuse mewhen i say that they are necessarily both superficial and misleading, since they have
to be graded to the comprehension of anignorant audience." (ironical cheering.)"popular lecturers are in their nature parasitic." (angry gesture of protest from mr.waldron.) "they exploit for fame or cash the workwhich has been done by their indigent and unknown brethren. one smallest new fact obtained in thelaboratory, one brick built into the temple of science, far outweighs any second-handexposition which passes an idle hour, but can leave no useful result behind it.
i put forward this obvious reflection, notout of any desire to disparage mr. waldron in particular, but that you may not loseyour sense of proportion and mistake the acolyte for the high priest." (at this point mr. waldron whispered to thechairman, who half rose and said something severely to his water-carafe.)"but enough of this!" (loud and prolonged cheers.) "let me pass to some subject of widerinterest. what is the particular point upon which i,as an original investigator, have challenged our lecturer's accuracy?
it is upon the permanence of certain typesof animal life upon the earth. i do not speak upon this subject as anamateur, nor, i may add, as a popular lecturer, but i speak as one whosescientific conscience compels him to adhere closely to facts, when i say that mr. waldron is very wrong in supposing thatbecause he has never himself seen a so- called prehistoric animal, therefore thesecreatures no longer exist. they are indeed, as he has said, ourancestors, but they are, if i may use the expression, our contemporary ancestors, whocan still be found with all their hideous and formidable characteristics if one has
but the energy and hardihood to seek theirhaunts. creatures which were supposed to bejurassic, monsters who would hunt down and devour our largest and fiercest mammals,still exist." (cries of "bosh!" "prove it!""how do you know?" "question!")"how do i know, you ask me? i know because i have visited their secrethaunts. i know because i have seen some of them."(applause, uproar, and a voice, "liar!") "am i a liar?"
(general hearty and noisy assent.)"did i hear someone say that i was a liar? will the person who called me a liar kindlystand up that i may know him?" (a voice, "here he is, sir!" and aninoffensive little person in spectacles, struggling violently, was held up among agroup of students.) "did you venture to call me a liar?" ("no, sir, no!" shouted the accused, anddisappeared like a jack-in-the-box.) "if any person in this hall dares to doubtmy veracity, i shall be glad to have a few words with him after the lecture." ("liar!")"who said that?"
(again the inoffensive one plungingdesperately, was elevated high into the air.) "if i come down among you----" (generalchorus of "come, love, come!" which interrupted the proceedings for somemoments, while the chairman, standing up and waving both his arms, seemed to beconducting the music. the professor, with his face flushed, hisnostrils dilated, and his beard bristling, was now in a proper berserk mood.) "every great discoverer has been met withthe same incredulity--the sure brand of a generation of fools.
when great facts are laid before you, youhave not the intuition, the imagination which would help you to understand them. you can only throw mud at the men who haverisked their lives to open new fields to science.you persecute the prophets! galileo! darwin, and i----" (prolonged cheering andcomplete interruption.) all this is from my hurried notes taken atthe time, which give little notion of the absolute chaos to which the assembly had bythis time been reduced. so terrific was the uproar that severalladies had already beaten a hurried
retreat. grave and reverend seniors seemed to havecaught the prevailing spirit as badly as the students, and i saw white-bearded menrising and shaking their fists at the obdurate professor. the whole great audience seethed andsimmered like a boiling pot. the professor took a step forward andraised both his hands. there was something so big and arrestingand virile in the man that the clatter and shouting died gradually away before hiscommanding gesture and his masterful eyes. he seemed to have a definite message.
they hushed to hear it."i will not detain you," he said. "it is not worth it. truth is truth, and the noise of a numberof foolish young men--and, i fear i must add, of their equally foolish seniors--cannot affect the matter. i claim that i have opened a new field ofscience. you dispute it."(cheers.) "then i put you to the test. will you accredit one or more of your ownnumber to go out as your representatives and test my statement in your name?"
mr. summerlee, the veteran professor ofcomparative anatomy, rose among the audience, a tall, thin, bitter man, withthe withered aspect of a theologian. he wished, he said, to ask professorchallenger whether the results to which he had alluded in his remarks had beenobtained during a journey to the headwaters of the amazon made by him two years before. professor challenger answered that theyhad. mr. summerlee desired to know how it wasthat professor challenger claimed to have made discoveries in those regions which hadbeen overlooked by wallace, bates, and other previous explorers of establishedscientific repute.
professor challenger answered that mr.summerlee appeared to be confusing the amazon with the thames; that it was inreality a somewhat larger river; that mr. summerlee might be interested to know that with the orinoco, which communicated withit, some fifty thousand miles of country were opened up, and that in so vast a spaceit was not impossible for one person to find what another had missed. mr. summerlee declared, with an acid smile,that he fully appreciated the difference between the thames and the amazon, whichlay in the fact that any assertion about the former could be tested, while about thelatter it could not.
he would be obliged if professor challengerwould give the latitude and the longitude of the country in which prehistoric animalswere to be found. professor challenger replied that hereserved such information for good reasons of his own, but would be prepared to giveit with proper precautions to a committee chosen from the audience. would mr. summerlee serve on such acommittee and test his story in person? mr. summerlee: "yes, i will."(great cheering.) professor challenger: "then i guaranteethat i will place in your hands such material as will enable you to find yourway.
it is only right, however, since mr.summerlee goes to check my statement that i should have one or more with him who maycheck his. i will not disguise from you that there aredifficulties and dangers. mr. summerlee will need a youngercolleague. may i ask for volunteers?" it is thus that the great crisis of a man'slife springs out at him. could i have imagined when i entered thathall that i was about to pledge myself to a wilder adventure than had ever come to mein my dreams? but gladys--was it not the very opportunityof which she spoke?
gladys would have told me to go.i had sprung to my feet. i was speaking, and yet i had prepared nowords. tarp henry, my companion, was plucking atmy skirts and i heard him whispering, "sit down, malone! don't make a public ass of yourself."at the same time i was aware that a tall, thin man, with dark gingery hair, a fewseats in front of me, was also upon his feet. he glared back at me with hard angry eyes,but i refused to give way. "i will go, mr. chairman," i kept repeatingover and over again.
"name! name!" cried the audience."my name is edward dunn malone. i am the reporter of the daily gazette.i claim to be an absolutely unprejudiced witness." "what is your name, sir?" the chairmanasked of my tall rival. "i am lord john roxton. i have already been up the amazon, i knowall the ground, and have special qualifications for this investigation." "lord john roxton's reputation as asportsman and a traveler is, of course,
world-famous," said the chairman; "at thesame time it would certainly be as well to have a member of the press upon such anexpedition." "then i move," said professor challenger,"that both these gentlemen be elected, as representatives of this meeting, toaccompany professor summerlee upon his journey to investigate and to report uponthe truth of my statements." and so, amid shouting and cheering, ourfate was decided, and i found myself borne away in the human current which swirledtowards the door, with my mind half stunned by the vast new project which had risen sosuddenly before it. as i emerged from the hall i was consciousfor a moment of a rush of laughing
students--down the pavement, and of an armwielding a heavy umbrella, which rose and fell in the midst of them. then, amid a mixture of groans and cheers,professor challenger's electric brougham slid from the curb, and i found myselfwalking under the silvery lights of regent street, full of thoughts of gladys and ofwonder as to my future. suddenly there was a touch at my elbow. i turned, and found myself looking into thehumorous, masterful eyes of the tall, thin man who had volunteered to be my companionon this strange quest. "mr. malone, i understand," said he.
"we are to be companions--what?my rooms are just over the road, in the albany. perhaps you would have the kindness tospare me half an hour, for there are one or two things that i badly want to say toyou." chapter vi"i was the flail of the lord" lord john roxton and i turned down vigostreet together and through the dingy portals of the famous aristocratic rookery. at the end of a long drab passage my newacquaintance pushed open a door and turned on an electric switch.
a number of lamps shining through tintedshades bathed the whole great room before us in a ruddy radiance. standing in the doorway and glancing roundme, i had a general impression of extraordinary comfort and elegance combinedwith an atmosphere of masculine virility. everywhere there were mingled the luxury ofthe wealthy man of taste and the careless untidiness of the bachelor. rich furs and strange iridescent mats fromsome oriental bazaar were scattered upon the floor. pictures and prints which even myunpractised eyes could recognize as being
of great price and rarity hung thick uponthe walls. sketches of boxers, of ballet-girls, and ofracehorses alternated with a sensuous fragonard, a martial girardet, and a dreamyturner. but amid these varied ornaments there werescattered the trophies which brought back strongly to my recollection the fact thatlord john roxton was one of the great all- round sportsmen and athletes of his day. a dark-blue oar crossed with a cherry-pinkone above his mantel-piece spoke of the old oxonian and leander man, while the foilsand boxing-gloves above and below them were the tools of a man who had won supremacywith each.
like a dado round the room was the juttingline of splendid heavy game-heads, the best of their sort from every quarter of theworld, with the rare white rhinoceros of the lado enclave drooping its superciliouslip above them all. in the center of the rich red carpet was ablack and gold louis quinze table, a lovely antique, now sacrilegiously desecrated withmarks of glasses and the scars of cigar- stumps. on it stood a silver tray of smokables anda burnished spirit-stand, from which and an adjacent siphon my silent host proceeded tocharge two high glasses. having indicated an arm-chair to me andplaced my refreshment near it, he handed me
a long, smooth havana. then, seating himself opposite to me, helooked at me long and fixedly with his strange, twinkling, reckless eyes--eyes ofa cold light blue, the color of a glacier lake. through the thin haze of my cigar-smoke inoted the details of a face which was already familiar to me from manyphotographs--the strongly-curved nose, the hollow, worn cheeks, the dark, ruddy hair, thin at the top, the crisp, virilemoustaches, the small, aggressive tuft upon his projecting chin.
something there was of napoleon iii.,something of don quixote, and yet again something which was the essence of theenglish country gentleman, the keen, alert, open-air lover of dogs and of horses. his skin was of a rich flower-pot red fromsun and wind. his eyebrows were tufted and overhanging,which gave those naturally cold eyes an almost ferocious aspect, an impressionwhich was increased by his strong and furrowed brow. in figure he was spare, but very stronglybuilt--indeed, he had often proved that there were few men in england capable ofsuch sustained exertions.
his height was a little over six feet, buthe seemed shorter on account of a peculiar rounding of the shoulders. such was the famous lord john roxton as hesat opposite to me, biting hard upon his cigar and watching me steadily in a longand embarrassing silence. "well," said he, at last, "we've gone anddone it, young fellah my lad." (this curious phrase he pronounced as if itwere all one word--"young-fellah-me-lad.") "yes, we've taken a jump, you an' me. i suppose, now, when you went into thatroom there was no such notion in your head- -what?""no thought of it."
"the same here. no thought of it.and here we are, up to our necks in the tureen. why, i've only been back three weeks fromuganda, and taken a place in scotland, and signed the lease and all.pretty goin's on--what? how does it hit you?" "well, it is all in the main line of mybusiness. i am a journalist on the gazette.""of course--you said so when you took it on.
by the way, i've got a small job for you,if you'll help me." "with pleasure.""don't mind takin' a risk, do you?" "what is the risk?" "well, it's ballinger--he's the risk.you've heard of him?" "no.""why, young fellah, where have you lived? sir john ballinger is the best gentlemanjock in the north country. i could hold him on the flat at my best,but over jumps he's my master. well, it's an open secret that when he'sout of trainin' he drinks hard--strikin' an average, he calls it.he got delirium on toosday, and has been
ragin' like a devil ever since. his room is above this. the doctors say that it is all up with theold dear unless some food is got into him, but as he lies in bed with a revolver onhis coverlet, and swears he will put six of the best through anyone that comes near him, there's been a bit of a strike amongthe serving-men. he's a hard nail, is jack, and a dead shot,too, but you can't leave a grand national winner to die like that--what?" "what do you mean to do, then?"i asked.
"well, my idea was that you and i couldrush him. he may be dozin', and at the worst he canonly wing one of us, and the other should have him. if we can get his bolster-cover round hisarms and then 'phone up a stomach-pump, we'll give the old dear the supper of hislife." it was a rather desperate business to comesuddenly into one's day's work. i don't think that i am a particularlybrave man. i have an irish imagination which makes theunknown and the untried more terrible than they are.
on the other hand, i was brought up with ahorror of cowardice and with a terror of such a stigma. i dare say that i could throw myself over aprecipice, like the hun in the history books, if my courage to do it werequestioned, and yet it would surely be pride and fear, rather than courage, whichwould be my inspiration. therefore, although every nerve in my bodyshrank from the whisky-maddened figure which i pictured in the room above, i stillanswered, in as careless a voice as i could command, that i was ready to go. some further remark of lord roxton's aboutthe danger only made me irritable.
"talking won't make it any better," said i."come on." i rose from my chair and he from his. then with a little confidential chuckle oflaughter, he patted me two or three times on the chest, finally pushing me back intomy chair. "all right, sonny my lad--you'll do," saidhe. i looked up in surprise."i saw after jack ballinger myself this mornin'. he blew a hole in the skirt of my kimono,bless his shaky old hand, but we got a jacket on him, and he's to be all right ina week.
i say, young fellah, i hope you don't mind--what? you see, between you an' me close-tiled, ilook on this south american business as a mighty serious thing, and if i have a palwith me i want a man i can bank on. so i sized you down, and i'm bound to saythat you came well out of it. you see, it's all up to you and me, forthis old summerlee man will want dry- nursin' from the first. by the way, are you by any chance themalone who is expected to get his rugby cap for ireland?""a reserve, perhaps." "i thought i remembered your face.
why, i was there when you got that tryagainst richmond--as fine a swervin' run as i saw the whole season. i never miss a rugby match if i can helpit, for it is the manliest game we have left.well, i didn't ask you in here just to talk sport. we've got to fix our business.here are the sailin's, on the first page of the times. there's a booth boat for para nextwednesday week, and if the professor and you can work it, i think we should take it--what?
very good, i'll fix it with him. what about your outfit?""my paper will see to that." "can you shoot?""about average territorial standard." "good lord! as bad as that? it's the last thing you young fellahs thinkof learnin'. you're all bees without stings, so far aslookin' after the hive goes. you'll look silly, some o' these days, whensomeone comes along an' sneaks the honey. but you'll need to hold your gun straightin south america, for, unless our friend the professor is a madman or a liar, we maysee some queer things before we get back.
what gun have you?" he crossed to an oaken cupboard, and as hethrew it open i caught a glimpse of glistening rows of parallel barrels, likethe pipes of an organ. "i'll see what i can spare you out of myown battery," said he. one by one he took out a succession ofbeautiful rifles, opening and shutting them with a snap and a clang, and then pattingthem as he put them back into the rack as tenderly as a mother would fondle herchildren. "this is a bland's .577 axite express,"said he. "i got that big fellow with it."
he glanced up at the white rhinoceros."ten more yards, and he'd would have added me to his collection.'on that conical bullet his one chance hangs, 'tis the weak one's advantage fair.' hope you know your gordon, for he's thepoet of the horse and the gun and the man that handles both. now, here's a useful tool--.470, telescopicsight, double ejector, point-blank up to three-fifty.that's the rifle i used against the peruvian slave-drivers three years ago. i was the flail of the lord up in thoseparts, i may tell you, though you won't
find it in any blue-book. there are times, young fellah, when everyone of us must make a stand for human right and justice, or you never feel clean again.that's why i made a little war on my own. declared it myself, waged it myself, endedit myself. each of those nicks is for a slavemurderer--a good row of them--what? that big one is for pedro lopez, the kingof them all, that i killed in a backwater of the putomayo river.now, here's something that would do for he took out a beautiful brown-and-silverrifle. "well rubbered at the stock, sharplysighted, five cartridges to the clip.
you can trust your life to that." he handed it to me and closed the door ofhis oak cabinet. "by the way," he continued, coming back tohis chair, "what do you know of this professor challenger?" "i never saw him till to-day.""well, neither did i. it's funny we should both sail under sealedorders from a man we don't know. he seemed an uppish old bird. his brothers of science don't seem too fondof him, either. how came you to take an interest in theaffair?"
i told him shortly my experiences of themorning, and he listened intently. then he drew out a map of south america andlaid it on the table. "i believe every single word he said to youwas the truth," said he, earnestly, "and, mind you, i have something to go on when ispeak like that. south america is a place i love, and ithink, if you take it right through from darien to fuego, it's the grandest,richest, most wonderful bit of earth upon this planet. people don't know it yet, and don't realizewhat it may become. i've been up an' down it from end to end,and had two dry seasons in those very
parts, as i told you when i spoke of thewar i made on the slave-dealers. well, when i was up there i heard someyarns of the same kind--traditions of indians and the like, but with somethin'behind them, no doubt. the more you knew of that country, youngfellah, the more you would understand that anythin' was possible--anythin'! there are just some narrow water-lanesalong which folk travel, and outside that it is all darkness. now, down here in the matto grande"--heswept his cigar over a part of the map--"or up in this corner where three countriesmeet, nothin' would surprise me.
as that chap said to-night, there arefifty-thousand miles of water-way runnin' through a forest that is very near the sizeof europe. you and i could be as far away from eachother as scotland is from constantinople, and yet each of us be in the same greatbrazilian forest. man has just made a track here and a scrapethere in the maze. why, the river rises and falls the bestpart of forty feet, and half the country is a morass that you can't pass over. why shouldn't somethin' new and wonderfullie in such a country? and why shouldn't we be the men to find itout?
besides," he added, his queer, gaunt faceshining with delight, "there's a sportin' risk in every mile of it.i'm like an old golf-ball--i've had all the white paint knocked off me long ago. life can whack me about now, and it can'tleave a mark. but a sportin' risk, young fellah, that'sthe salt of existence. then it's worth livin' again. we're all gettin' a deal too soft and dulland comfy. give me the great waste lands and the widespaces, with a gun in my fist and somethin' to look for that's worth findin'.
i've tried war and steeplechasin' andaeroplanes, but this huntin' of beasts that look like a lobster-supper dream is abrand-new sensation." he chuckled with glee at the prospect. perhaps i have dwelt too long upon this newacquaintance, but he is to be my comrade for many a day, and so i have tried to sethim down as i first saw him, with his quaint personality and his queer littletricks of speech and of thought. it was only the need of getting in theaccount of my meeting which drew me at last from his company. i left him seated amid his pink radiance,oiling the lock of his favorite rifle,
while he still chuckled to himself at thethought of the adventures which awaited us. it was very clear to me that if dangers laybefore us i could not in all england have found a cooler head or a braver spirit withwhich to share them. that night, wearied as i was after thewonderful happenings of the day, i sat late with mcardle, the news editor, explainingto him the whole situation, which he thought important enough to bring next morning before the notice of sir georgebeaumont, the chief. it was agreed that i should write home fullaccounts of my adventures in the shape of successive letters to mcardle, and thatthese should either be edited for the
gazette as they arrived, or held back to be published later, according to the wishes ofprofessor challenger, since we could not yet know what conditions he might attach tothose directions which should guide us to the unknown land. in response to a telephone inquiry, wereceived nothing more definite than a fulmination against the press, ending upwith the remark that if we would notify our boat he would hand us any directions which he might think it proper to give us at themoment of starting. a second question from us failed to elicitany answer at all, save a plaintive bleat
from his wife to the effect that herhusband was in a very violent temper already, and that she hoped we would donothing to make it worse. a third attempt, later in the day, provokeda terrific crash, and a subsequent message from the central exchange that professorchallenger's receiver had been shattered. after that we abandoned all attempt atcommunication. and now my patient readers, i can addressyou directly no longer. from now onwards (if, indeed, anycontinuation of this narrative should ever reach you) it can only be through the paperwhich i represent. in the hands of the editor i leave thisaccount of the events which have led up to
one of the most remarkable expeditions ofall time, so that if i never return to england there shall be some record as tohow the affair came about. i am writing these last lines in the saloonof the booth liner francisca, and they will go back by the pilot to the keeping of mr.mcardle. let me draw one last picture before i closethe notebook--a picture which is the last memory of the old country which i bear awaywith me. it is a wet, foggy morning in the latespring; a thin, cold rain is falling. three shining mackintoshed figures arewalking down the quay, making for the gang- plank of the great liner from which theblue-peter is flying.
in front of them a porter pushes a trolleypiled high with trunks, wraps, and gun- cases. professor summerlee, a long, melancholyfigure, walks with dragging steps and drooping head, as one who is alreadyprofoundly sorry for himself. lord john roxton steps briskly, and histhin, eager face beams forth between his hunting-cap and his muffler. as for myself, i am glad to have got thebustling days of preparation and the pangs of leave-taking behind me, and i have nodoubt that i show it in my bearing. suddenly, just as we reach the vessel,there is a shout behind us.
it is professor challenger, who hadpromised to see us off. he runs after us, a puffing, red-faced,irascible figure. "no thank you," says he; "i should muchprefer not to go aboard. i have only a few words to say to you, andthey can very well be said where we are. i beg you not to imagine that i am in anyway indebted to you for making this journey. i would have you to understand that it is amatter of perfect indifference to me, and i refuse to entertain the most remote senseof personal obligation. truth is truth, and nothing which you canreport can affect it in any way, though it
may excite the emotions and allay thecuriosity of a number of very ineffectual people. my directions for your instruction andguidance are in this sealed envelope. you will open it when you reach a town uponthe amazon which is called manaos, but not until the date and hour which is markedupon the outside. have i made myself clear? i leave the strict observance of myconditions entirely to your honor. no, mr. malone, i will place no restrictionupon your correspondence, since the ventilation of the facts is the object ofyour journey; but i demand that you shall
give no particulars as to your exact destination, and that nothing be actuallypublished until your return. good-bye, sir. you have done something to mitigate myfeelings for the loathsome profession to which you unhappily belong.good-bye, lord john. science is, as i understand, a sealed bookto you; but you may congratulate yourself upon the hunting-field which awaits you. you will, no doubt, have the opportunity ofdescribing in the field how you brought down the rocketing dimorphodon.and good-bye to you also, professor
summerlee. if you are still capable of self-improvement, of which i am frankly unconvinced, you will surely return tolondon a wiser man." so he turned upon his heel, and a minutelater from the deck i could see his short, squat figure bobbing about in the distanceas he made his way back to his train. well, we are well down channel now. there's the last bell for letters, and it'sgood-bye to the pilot. we'll be "down, hull-down, on the oldtrail" from now on. god bless all we leave behind us, and sendus safely back.
chapter vii"to-morrow we disappear into the unknown" i will not bore those whom this narrativemay reach by an account of our luxurious voyage upon the booth liner, nor will itell of our week's stay at para (save that i should wish to acknowledge the great kindness of the pereira da pinta company inhelping us to get together our equipment). i will also allude very briefly to ourriver journey, up a wide, slow-moving, clay-tinted stream, in a steamer which waslittle smaller than that which had carried us across the atlantic. eventually we found ourselves through thenarrows of obidos and reached the town of
manaos. here we were rescued from the limitedattractions of the local inn by mr. shortman, the representative of the britishand brazilian trading company. in his hospital fazenda we spent our timeuntil the day when we were empowered to open the letter of instructions given to usby professor challenger. before i reach the surprising events ofthat date i would desire to give a clearer sketch of my comrades in this enterprise,and of the associates whom we had already gathered together in south america. i speak freely, and i leave the use of mymaterial to your own discretion, mr.
mcardle, since it is through your handsthat this report must pass before it reaches the world. the scientific attainments of professorsummerlee are too well known for me to trouble to recapitulate them. he is better equipped for a roughexpedition of this sort than one would imagine at first sight. his tall, gaunt, stringy figure isinsensible to fatigue, and his dry, half- sarcastic, and often wholly unsympatheticmanner is uninfluenced by any change in his surroundings.
though in his sixty-sixth year, i havenever heard him express any dissatisfaction at the occasional hardships which we havehad to encounter. i had regarded his presence as anencumbrance to the expedition, but, as a matter of fact, i am now well convincedthat his power of endurance is as great as my own. in temper he is naturally acid andsceptical. from the beginning he has never concealedhis belief that professor challenger is an absolute fraud, that we are all embarkedupon an absurd wild-goose chase and that we are likely to reap nothing but
disappointment and danger in south america,and corresponding ridicule in england. such are the views which, with muchpassionate distortion of his thin features and wagging of his thin, goat-like beard,he poured into our ears all the way from southampton to manaos. since landing from the boat he has obtainedsome consolation from the beauty and variety of the insect and bird life aroundhim, for he is absolutely whole-hearted in his devotion to science. he spends his days flitting through thewoods with his shot-gun and his butterfly- net, and his evenings in mounting the manyspecimens he has acquired.
among his minor peculiarities are that heis careless as to his attire, unclean in his person, exceedingly absent-minded inhis habits, and addicted to smoking a short briar pipe, which is seldom out of hismouth. he has been upon several scientificexpeditions in his youth (he was with robertson in papua), and the life of thecamp and the canoe is nothing fresh to him. lord john roxton has some points in commonwith professor summerlee, and others in which they are the very antithesis to eachother. he is twenty years younger, but hassomething of the same spare, scraggy physique.
as to his appearance, i have, as irecollect, described it in that portion of my narrative which i have left behind me inlondon. he is exceedingly neat and prim in hisways, dresses always with great care in white drill suits and high brown mosquito-boots, and shaves at least once a day. like most men of action, he is laconic inspeech, and sinks readily into his own thoughts, but he is always quick to answera question or join in a conversation, talking in a queer, jerky, half-humorousfashion. his knowledge of the world, and veryespecially of south america, is surprising, and he has a whole-hearted belief in thepossibilities of our journey which is not
to be dashed by the sneers of professorsummerlee. he has a gentle voice and a quiet manner,but behind his twinkling blue eyes there lurks a capacity for furious wrath andimplacable resolution, the more dangerous because they are held in leash. he spoke little of his own exploits inbrazil and peru, but it was a revelation to me to find the excitement which was causedby his presence among the riverine natives, who looked upon him as their champion andprotector. the exploits of the red chief, as theycalled him, had become legends among them, but the real facts, as far as i could learnthem, were amazing enough.
these were that lord john had found himselfsome years before in that no-man's-land which is formed by the half-definedfrontiers between peru, brazil, and columbia. in this great district the wild rubber treeflourishes, and has become, as in the congo, a curse to the natives which canonly be compared to their forced labor under the spaniards upon the old silvermines of darien. a handful of villainous half-breedsdominated the country, armed such indians as would support them, and turned the restinto slaves, terrorizing them with the most inhuman tortures in order to force them to
gather the india-rubber, which was thenfloated down the river to para. lord john roxton expostulated on behalf ofthe wretched victims, and received nothing but threats and insults for his pains. he then formally declared war against pedrolopez, the leader of the slave-drivers, enrolled a band of runaway slaves in hisservice, armed them, and conducted a campaign, which ended by his killing with his own hands the notorious half-breed andbreaking down the system which he represented. no wonder that the ginger-headed man withthe silky voice and the free and easy
manners was now looked upon with deepinterest upon the banks of the great south american river, though the feelings he inspired were naturally mixed, since thegratitude of the natives was equaled by the resentment of those who desired to exploitthem. one useful result of his former experienceswas that he could talk fluently in the lingoa geral, which is the peculiar talk,one-third portuguese and two-thirds indian, which is current all over brazil. i have said before that lord john roxtonwas a south americomaniac. he could not speak of that great countrywithout ardor, and this ardor was
infectious, for, ignorant as i was, hefixed my attention and stimulated my curiosity. how i wish i could reproduce the glamour ofhis discourses, the peculiar mixture of accurate knowledge and of racy imaginationwhich gave them their fascination, until even the professor's cynical and sceptical smile would gradually vanish from his thinface as he listened. he would tell the history of the mightyriver so rapidly explored (for some of the first conquerors of peru actually crossedthe entire continent upon its waters), and yet so unknown in regard to all that laybehind its ever-changing banks.
"what is there?" he would cry, pointing tothe north. "wood and marsh and unpenetrated jungle. who knows what it may shelter?and there to the south? a wilderness of swampy forest, where nowhite man has ever been. the unknown is up against us on every side. outside the narrow lines of the rivers whatdoes anyone know? who will say what is possible in such acountry? why should old man challenger not beright?" at which direct defiance the stubborn sneerwould reappear upon professor summerlee's
face, and he would sit, shaking hissardonic head in unsympathetic silence, behind the cloud of his briar-root pipe. so much, for the moment, for my two whitecompanions, whose characters and limitations will be further exposed, assurely as my own, as this narrative proceeds. but already we have enrolled certainretainers who may play no small part in what is to come. the first is a gigantic negro named zambo,who is a black hercules, as willing as any horse, and about as intelligent.
him we enlisted at para, on therecommendation of the steamship company, on whose vessels he had learned to speak ahalting english. it was at para also that we engaged gomezand manuel, two half-breeds from up the river, just come down with a cargo ofredwood. they were swarthy fellows, bearded andfierce, as active and wiry as panthers. both of them had spent their lives in thoseupper waters of the amazon which we were about to explore, and it was thisrecommendation which had caused lord john to engage them. one of them, gomez, had the furtheradvantage that he could speak excellent
english. these men were willing to act as ourpersonal servants, to cook, to row, or to make themselves useful in any way at apayment of fifteen dollars a month. besides these, we had engaged three mojoindians from bolivia, who are the most skilful at fishing and boat work of all theriver tribes. the chief of these we called mojo, afterhis tribe, and the others are known as jose and fernando. three white men, then, two half-breeds, onenegro, and three indians made up the personnel of the little expedition whichlay waiting for its instructions at manaos
before starting upon its singular quest. at last, after a weary week, the day hadcome and the hour. i ask you to picture the shaded sitting-room of the fazenda st. ignatio, two miles inland from the town of manaos. outside lay the yellow, brassy glare of thesunshine, with the shadows of the palm trees as black and definite as the treesthemselves. the air was calm, full of the eternal humof insects, a tropical chorus of many octaves, from the deep drone of the bee tothe high, keen pipe of the mosquito. beyond the veranda was a small clearedgarden, bounded with cactus hedges and
adorned with clumps of flowering shrubs,round which the great blue butterflies and the tiny humming-birds fluttered and dartedin crescents of sparkling light. within we were seated round the cane table,on which lay a sealed envelope. inscribed upon it, in the jaggedhandwriting of professor challenger, were the words:--"instructions to lord john roxton and party. to be opened at manaos upon july 15th, at12 o'clock precisely." lord john had placed his watch upon thetable beside him. "we have seven more minutes," said he.
"the old dear is very precise."professor summerlee gave an acid smile as he picked up the envelope in his gaunthand. "what can it possibly matter whether weopen it now or in seven minutes?" said he. "it is all part and parcel of the samesystem of quackery and nonsense, for which i regret to say that the writer isnotorious." "oh, come, we must play the game accordin'to rules," said lord john. "it's old man challenger's show and we arehere by his good will, so it would be rotten bad form if we didn't follow hisinstructions to the letter." "a pretty business it is!" cried theprofessor, bitterly.
"it struck me as preposterous in london,but i'm bound to say that it seems even more so upon closer acquaintance. i don't know what is inside this envelope,but, unless it is something pretty definite, i shall be much tempted to takethe next down-river boat and catch the bolivia at para. after all, i have some more responsiblework in the world than to run about disproving the assertions of a lunatic.now, roxton, surely it is time." "time it is," said lord john. "you can blow the whistle."he took up the envelope and cut it with his
penknife.from it he drew a folded sheet of paper. this he carefully opened out and flattenedon the table. it was a blank sheet.he turned it over. again it was blank. we looked at each other in a bewilderedsilence, which was broken by a discordant burst of derisive laughter from professorsummerlee. "it is an open admission," he cried. "what more do you want?the fellow is a self-confessed humbug. we have only to return home and report himas the brazen imposter that he is."
"invisible ink!" i suggested."i don't think!" said lord roxton, holding the paper to the light."no, young fellah my lad, there is no use deceiving yourself. i'll go bail for it that nothing has everbeen written upon this paper." "may i come in?" boomed a voice from theveranda. the shadow of a squat figure had stolenacross the patch of sunlight. that voice!that monstrous breadth of shoulder! we sprang to our feet with a gasp ofastonishment as challenger, in a round,
boyish straw-hat with a colored ribbon--challenger, with his hands in his jacket- pockets and his canvas shoes daintily pointing as he walked--appeared in the openspace before us. he threw back his head, and there he stoodin the golden glow with all his old assyrian luxuriance of beard, all hisnative insolence of drooping eyelids and intolerant eyes. "i fear," said he, taking out his watch,"that i am a few minutes too late. when i gave you this envelope i mustconfess that i had never intended that you should open it, for it had been my fixedintention to be with you before the hour.
the unfortunate delay can be apportionedbetween a blundering pilot and an intrusive sandbank. i fear that it has given my colleague,professor summerlee, occasion to blaspheme." "i am bound to say, sir," said lord john,with some sternness of voice, "that your turning up is a considerable relief to us,for our mission seemed to have come to a premature end. even now i can't for the life of meunderstand why you should have worked it in so extraordinary a manner."
instead of answering, professor challengerentered, shook hands with myself and lord john, bowed with ponderous insolence toprofessor summerlee, and sank back into a basket-chair, which creaked and swayedbeneath his weight. "is all ready for your journey?" he asked."we can start to-morrow." "then so you shall. you need no chart of directions now, sinceyou will have the inestimable advantage of my own guidance. from the first i had determined that iwould myself preside over your investigation.
the most elaborate charts would, as youwill readily admit, be a poor substitute for my own intelligence and advice. as to the small ruse which i played uponyou in the matter of the envelope, it is clear that, had i told you all myintentions, i should have been forced to resist unwelcome pressure to travel outwith you." "not from me, sir!" exclaimed professorsummerlee, heartily. "so long as there was another ship upon theatlantic." challenger waved him away with his greathairy hand. "your common sense will, i am sure, sustainmy objection and realize that it was better
that i should direct my own movements andappear only at the exact moment when my presence was needed. that moment has now arrived.you are in safe hands. you will not now fail to reach yourdestination. from henceforth i take command of thisexpedition, and i must ask you to complete your preparations to-night, so that we maybe able to make an early start in the morning. my time is of value, and the same thing maybe said, no doubt, in a lesser degree of your own.
i propose, therefore, that we push on asrapidly as possible, until i have demonstrated what you have come to see." lord john roxton has chartered a largesteam launch, the esmeralda, which was to carry us up the river. so far as climate goes, it was immaterialwhat time we chose for our expedition, as the temperature ranges from seventy-five toninety degrees both summer and winter, with no appreciable difference in heat. in moisture, however, it is otherwise; fromdecember to may is the period of the rains, and during this time the river slowly risesuntil it attains a height of nearly forty
feet above its low-water mark. it floods the banks, extends in greatlagoons over a monstrous waste of country, and forms a huge district, called locallythe gapo, which is for the most part too marshy for foot-travel and too shallow forboating. about june the waters begin to fall, andare at their lowest at october or november. thus our expedition was at the time of thedry season, when the great river and its tributaries were more or less in a normalcondition. the current of the river is a slight one,the drop being not greater than eight inches in a mile.
no stream could be more convenient fornavigation, since the prevailing wind is south-east, and sailing boats may make acontinuous progress to the peruvian frontier, dropping down again with thecurrent. in our own case the excellent engines ofthe esmeralda could disregard the sluggish flow of the stream, and we made as rapidprogress as if we were navigating a stagnant lake. for three days we steamed north-westwardsup a stream which even here, a thousand miles from its mouth, was still so enormousthat from its center the two banks were mere shadows upon the distant skyline.
on the fourth day after leaving manaos weturned into a tributary which at its mouth was little smaller than the main stream. it narrowed rapidly, however, and after twomore days' steaming we reached an indian village, where the professor insisted thatwe should land, and that the esmeralda should be sent back to manaos. we should soon come upon rapids, heexplained, which would make its further use impossible. he added privately that we were nowapproaching the door of the unknown country, and that the fewer whom we tookinto our confidence the better it would be.
to this end also he made each of us giveour word of honor that we would publish or say nothing which would give any exact clueas to the whereabouts of our travels, while the servants were all solemnly sworn to thesame effect. it is for this reason that i am compelledto be vague in my narrative, and i would warn my readers that in any map or diagramwhich i may give the relation of places to each other may be correct, but the points of the compass are carefully confused, sothat in no way can it be taken as an actual guide to the country. professor challenger's reasons for secrecymay be valid or not, but we had no choice
but to adopt them, for he was prepared toabandon the whole expedition rather than modify the conditions upon which he wouldguide us. it was august 2nd when we snapped our lastlink with the outer world by bidding farewell to the esmeralda. since then four days have passed, duringwhich we have engaged two large canoes from the indians, made of so light a material(skins over a bamboo framework) that we should be able to carry them round anyobstacle. these we have loaded with all our effects,and have engaged two additional indians to help us in the navigation.
i understand that they are the very two--ataca and ipetu by name--who accompanied professor challenger upon his previousjourney. they appeared to be terrified at theprospect of repeating it, but the chief has patriarchal powers in these countries, andif the bargain is good in his eyes the clansman has little choice in the matter. so to-morrow we disappear into the unknown.this account i am transmitting down the river by canoe, and it may be our last wordto those who are interested in our fate. i have, according to our arrangement,addressed it to you, my dear mr. mcardle, and i leave it to your discretion todelete, alter, or do what you like with it.
from the assurance of professorchallenger's manner--and in spite of the continued scepticism of professorsummerlee--i have no doubt that our leader will make good his statement, and that we are really on the eve of some mostremarkable experiences.