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1912 THE LOST WORLD by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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1912 THE LOST WORLD by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Electronically Enhanced Text (c) Copyright 1991, World Library, Inc.
LOST_WORLD
-
Being an account of the recent amazing adventures of Professor E.
Challenger, Lord John Roxton, Professor Summerlee and Mr. Ed Malone of
the `Daily Gazette`
-
-
I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who`s half a man,
Or the man who`s half a boy.

CH_1
1. There Are Heroisms All Round Us
-
MR. HUNGERTON, her father, really was the most tactless person
upon earth- a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly
good-natured, but absolutely centred upon his own silly self. If
anything could have driven me from Gladys, it would have been the
thought of such a father-in-law. I am convinced that he really
believed in his heart that I came round to the Chestnuts three days
a week for the pleasure of his company, and very especially to hear
his views upon bimetallism- a subject upon which he was by way of
being an authority.
For an hour or more that evening I listened to his monotonous
chirrup about bad money driving out good, the token value of silver,
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 immediate payment insisted
upon. What, under our present conditions, would happen then?`
I gave the self-evident answer that I should be a ruined man, upon
which he jumped from his chair, reproved me for my habitual levity,
which made it impossible for him to discuss any reasonable subject
in my presence, and bounced off out of the room to dress for a Masonic
meeting.
At last I was alone with Gladys, and the moment of fate had come!
All that evening I had felt like the soldier who awaits the signal
which will send him on a forlorn hope, hope of victory and fear of
repulse alternating in his mind.
{CH_1 ^paragraph 5}
She sat with that proud, delicate profile of 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 established with one of my
fellow-reporters upon the Gazette- perfectly frank, perfectly kind,
and perfectly unsexual. My instincts are all against a woman being too
frank and at her ease with rue. It is no compliment to a man. Where
the real sex feeling begins, timidity and distrust are its companions,
heritage from old wicked days when love and violence went often hand
in hand. The bent head, the averted eye, the faltering voice, the
wincing figure- these, and not the unshrinking gaze and frank reply,
are the true signals of passion. Even in my short life I had learned
as much as 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, but such a thought was treason. That delicately-bronzed
skin, almost Oriental in its colouring, that raven hair, the large
liquid eyes, the full but exquisite lips- all the stigmata of
passion were there. But I was sadly conscious that up to now I had
never found the secret of drawing it forth. However, come what
might, I should have done with suspense and bring matters to a head
tonight. She could but refuse me, and better be a repulsed lover
than an accepted brother.
So far my thoughts had carried me, and I was about to break the long
and uneasy silence when two critical dark eyes looked round at me, and
the proud head was shaken in smiling reproof.
`I have a presentiment that you are going to propose, Ned. I do wish
you wouldn`t, for things are so much nicer as they are.`
I drew my chair a little nearer.
{CH_1 ^paragraph 10}
`Now, how did you know that I was going to propose?` I asked, in
genuine wonder.
`Don`t women always know? Do you suppose any woman in the world
was ever taken unawares? But, oh, Ned, our friendship has been so good
and so pleasant! What a pity to spoil it! Don`t you feel how
splendid it is that a young 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- with
the station-master.` I can`t imagine how that official came into the
matter, but in he trotted and set us both laughing. `That does not
satisfy me in the least. I want my arms around you and your head on my
breast, and, oh, Gladys, I want-`
She had sprung from her chair as she saw signs that I proposed to
demonstrate some of my wants.
`You`ve spoiled everything, Ned,` she said. `It`s all so beautiful
and natural until this kind of thing comes in. It is such a pity.
Why can`t you control yourself? `
{CH_1 ^paragraph 15}
`I didn`t invent it,` I pleaded. `It`s nature. It`s love!`
`Well, perhaps if both love it may be different. I have never felt
it.`
`But you must- you, with your beauty, with your 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?`
{CH_1 ^paragraph 20}
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 that 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!`
{CH_1 ^paragraph 25}
She was looking at me with a wondering distrust which was much
more to my mind than her whole-hearted confidence. How primitive and
bestial it looks when you put it down in black and white! And
perhaps after all it is only a feeling peculiar to myself. Anyhow, she
sat down.
`Now tell me what`s amiss with me.`
`I`m in love with somebody else,` she said.
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.`
{CH_1 ^paragraph 30}
`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 will only
give me an idea what would please you.
She laughed at the elasticity of my character. `Well, in the first
place, I don`t think my ideal would speak like that,` she said. `He
would be a harder, sterner man, not so ready to adapt himself to a
silly girl`s whim. But above all he must be a man who could do, who
could act, who would look death in the face and have no fear of him- a
man of great deeds and strange experiences. It is never a man that I
should love, but always 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 could so 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 woman could worship with all
her soul and yet be the greater, not the less, on account of her love,
honoured by all the world as the inspirer of noble deeds.`
She looked so beautiful in her enthusiasm that I nearly brought down
the whole level of the interview. I gripped myself hard, and went on
with the argument.
{CH_1 ^paragraph 35}
`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
mean that 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 to be done. It`s for men to do them, and
for women to reserve their love as a reward for such men. Look at that
young Frenchman who went up last week in a balloon. It was blowing a
gale of wind, but because he was announced to go he insisted on
starting. The wind blew him one thousand five hundred miles in
twenty-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 other women
must have envied her! That`s what I should like- to be envied for my
man.`
`I`d have done it to please you.`
`But you shouldn`t do it merely to please me. You should do it
because you can`t help it, because it`s natural to you- because the
man in you is crying out for heroic expression. Now, when you
described the Wigan coal explosion last month, could you not have gone
down and helped those people, in spite of the choke-damp?`
`I did.`
{CH_1 ^paragraph 40}
`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 glad that you went down that
mine.` She gave me her hand, but with such sweetness and dignity
that I could only stoop and kiss it. `I dare say I am merely a foolish
woman with a young girl`s fancies. And yet it is so real with me, so
entirely part of my very self, that I cannot help acting upon it. If I
marry, I do want to marry a famous man.`
{CH_1 ^paragraph 45}
`Why should you not?` I cried. `It is women like you who brace men
up. Give me a chance and see if I will take it! Besides, as you say,
men ought to make their own chances, and not wait until they are
given. Look at Clive- just a clerk, and he conquered India. By George!
I`ll do something in the world yet!`
She laughed at my sudden Irish effervescence.
`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 hand rested like warm velvet upon my lips.
{CH_1 ^paragraph 50}
`Not another word, sir. You should have been at the office for
evening duty half an hour ago, only I hadn`t the heart to remind
you. Some day, perhaps, when you have won your place in the world,
we shall talk it over again.`
And so it was that I found myself that foggy November evening
pursuing the Camberwell tram with my heart glowing within me, and with
the eager determination that not another day should elapse before I
should find some deed which was worthy of my lady. But who in all this
wide world could ever have imagined the incredible shape which that
deed was to take, or the strange steps by which I was led to the doing
of it?
And, after all, this opening chapter will seem to the reader to have
nothing to do with my narrative; and yet there would have been no
narrative without it, for it is only when a man goes out into the
world with the thought that there are heroisms all round him, and with
the desire all alive in his heart to follow any which may come
within sight of him, that he breaks away as I did from the life he
knows, and ventures forth into the wonderful mystic twilight land
where lie the great adventures And the great rewards. Behold me, then,
at the office of the Daily Gazette, on the staff of which I was a most
insignificant unit, with the settled determination that very night, if
possible, to find the quest which should be worthy of my Gladys! Was
it hardness, was it selfishness, that she should ask me to risk my
life for her own glorification? Such thoughts may come to middle
age, but never to ardent three-and-twenty in the fever of his first
love.

CH_2
2. 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, but he lived in the rarefied atmosphere of
some Olympian height from which he could distinguish nothing smaller
than an international crisis or a split in the Cabinet. Sometimes we
saw him passing in lonely majesty to his inner sanctum with his eyes
staring vaguely and his mind hovering over the Balkans or the
Persian Gulf. He was above and beyond us. But McArdle was his first
lieutenant, and it 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, you seem 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 favour.`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 5}
He looked alarmed and his eyes shunned mine.
`Tut! tut! What is it?`
`Do you think, sir, that you could possibly send me on some
mission for the paper? I would do my best to put it through and get
you some good copy.`
`What sort of a meesion had you in your mind, Mr. Malone?`
`Well, sir, anything that had adventure and danger in it. I would
really do my very best. The more difficult it was the better it
would suit me.`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 10}
`You seem very anxious to lose your life.`
`To justify my life, sir.`
`Dear me, Mr. Malone, this is very- very exalted. I`m afraid the day
for this sort of thing is rather past. The expense of the "special
meesion" business hardly justifies the result, and, of course, in
any case it would only be an experienced man with a name that would
command public confidence who would get such an order. The big blank
spaces in the map are all being filled in, and there`s no room for
romance anywhere. Wait a bit, though!` he added, with a sudden smile
upon his face. `Talking of the blank spaces of the map gives me an
idea. What about exposing a fraud- a modern Munchausen- and making him
rideeculous? You could show him up as the liar that he is! Eh, man, it
would be fine. How does it appeal to you?`
`Anything- anywhere- I care nothing.`
McArdle was plunged in thought for some minutes.
{CH_2 ^paragraph 15}
`I wonder whether you could get on friendly- or at least on
talking terms with the fellow,` he said, at last. `You seem to have
a sort of genius for establishing 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?`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 20}
The news editor smiled grimly.
`Do you mind? Didn`t you say it was adventures you were after?`
`It is all in the way of business, sir,` I answered.
`Exactly. I don`t suppose he can always be so violent as that. I`m
thinking that Blundell got him at the wrong 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 am sure, and the Gazette
should work it.`
`I really know nothing about him,` said I. `I only remember his name
in connection with the police-court proceedings, for striking
Blundell.`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 25}
`I have a few notes for your guidance, Mr. Malone. I`ve had my eye
on the Professor for some little 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 Comparative Anthropology Department, 1893.
Resigned after acrimonious Correspondence same year. Winner of
Crayston Medal for Zoological Research. Foreign Member of"- well,
quite a lot of things, about two inches of small type- "Societe Belge,
American Academy of Sciences, La Plata, etc., etc. Ex-President
Palaeontological Society. Section H, British Association"- so on, so
on!- "Publications: `Some Observations Upon a Series of Kalmuck
Skulls`; `Outlines of Vertebrate Evolution`; and numerous papers,
including `The Underlying Fallacy of Weissmannism`, which caused
heated discussion 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 tonight.`
I pocketed the slip of paper.
`One moment, sir,` I said, as I realised that 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?`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 30}
The face flashed back again.
Went to South America on a solitary expedition two years ago. Came
back last year. Had undoubtedly been to South America, but refused
to say exactly where. Began to tell his adventures in a vague way, but
somebody started to pick holes, and he just shut up like an oyster.
Something wonderful happened- or the man`s a champion liar, which is
the more probable supposition. Had some damaged photographs, said to
be fakes. Got so touchy that he assaults anyone who asks 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: the interview was at an end.
I walked across to the Savage Club, but instead of turning into it I
leaned upon the railings of Adelphi Terrace and gazed thoughtfully for
a long time at the brown, oily river. I can always think most sanely
and clearly in the open air. I took out the list of Professor
Challenger`s exploits, and I read it over under the electric lamp.
Then I had what I can only regard as an inspiration. As a Pressman,
I felt sure from what I had been told that I could never hope to get
into touch with this cantankerous Professor. But these
recriminations twice mentioned in 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 room was
fairly full, though the rush had not yet set in. I noticed a tall,
thin, angular man seated in 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 should
have chosen- Tarp Henry of the staff of Nature, a thin, dry,
leathery creature, who was full, to those who knew him, of kindly
humanity. I plunged instantly into my subject.
{CH_2 ^paragraph 35}
`What do you know of Professor Challenger?`
`Challenger?` He gathered his brows in scientific disapproval.
`Challenger was the man who came with some cock-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 there was
such a howl that he saw it wouldn`t do. It was a discreditable
business. There were one or two folk who were inclined to take him
seriously, but he soon choked them off.`
`How?`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 40}
`Well, by his insufferable rudeness and impossible behaviour.
There was poor old Wadley, of the Zoological Institute. Wadley sent
a message: "The President of the Zoological Institute presents his
compliments to Professor Challenger, and would take it as a personal
favour if he would do them the honour to come to their next
meeting." The answer was unprintable.`
`You don`t say?`
`Well, a bowdlerised version of it would run: "Professor
Challenger presents his compliments to the President of the Zoological
Institute, and would take it as a personal favour if he would go to
the devil."`
`Good Lord!`
`Yes I expect that`s what old Wadley said. I remember his wail at
the meeting, which began: "In fifty years` experience of scientific
intercourse-" It quite broke the old man up.`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 45}
`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
notice of anything that I can see with my naked eye. I`m a
frontiersman from the extreme edge of the Knowable, and I feel quite
out of place when I leave my study and come into touch with all you
great, rough, hulking creatures. I`m too detached to talk scandal, and
yet at scientific conversaziones I have heard something of Challenger,
for he is one of those 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, and unscrupulous at that. He had
gone the length of faking some photographs over the South American
business.`
`You say he is a faddist. What is his particular fad?`
`He has a thousand, but the latest is something about Weissmann
and Evolution. He had a fearful row about it in Vienna, I believe.`
`Can`t you tell me the point?`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 50}
`Not at the moment, but a translation of the 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 need
some lead up to him. It`s really awfully good of you to give me a
lift. I`ll go with you now, if it is not too late.`
-
Half an hour later I was seated in the newspaper 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 been
somewhat neglected I was unable to follow the whole argument, but it
was evident that the English Professor had handled his subject in a
very aggressive fashion, and had thoroughly annoyed his Continental
colleagues. `Protests`, `Uproar`, and `General appeal to the Chairman`
were three of the first brackets which caught my eye. Most of the
matter might have been written in Chinese for any definite meaning
that it conveyed to my brain.
`I wish you could translate it into English for me,` I said,
pathetically, to my helpmate.
{CH_2 ^paragraph 55}
`Well, it is a translation.`
`Then I`d better try my luck with the original.`
`It is certainly rather deep for a layman.`
`If I could only get a single good, meaty sentence which seemed to
convey some sort of definite human idea, it would serve my turn. Ah,
yes, this one will do. I seem in a vague way almost to understand
it. I`ll copy it out. This shall be my link with the terrible
Professor.`
`Nothing else I can do?`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 60}
`Well, yes; I propose to write to him. If I could frame the letter
here, and use your address, it would give atmosphere.`
`We`ll have the fellow round here making a row and breaking the
furniture.`
`No, no; you`ll see the letter- nothing contentious, 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 myself that it wasn`t such a bad
job when it was finished. I read it aloud to the critical
bacteriologist with some pride in my handiwork.
{CH_2 ^paragraph 65}
-
`DEAR PROFESSOR CHALLENGER,` it said. `As a humble student of
Nature, I have always taken the most profound interest in your
speculations as to the differences between Darwin and Weissmann. I
have recently had occasion to refresh my memory by re-reading-`
`You infernal liar!` murmured Tarp Henry.
`-by re-reading your masterly address at Vienna. That lucid and
admirable statement seems to be the last word in the matter. There
is one sentence in it, however- namely: "I protest strongly against
the insufferable and entirely dogmatic assertion that each separate id
is a microcosm possessed of an historical architecture elaborated
slowly through the series of generations." Have you no desire, in view
of later research, to modify this statement? Do you not think that
it is over-accentuated? With your permission, I would ask the favour
of an interview, as I feel strongly upon the subject, and have certain
suggestions which I could only elaborate in a personal conversation.
With your consent, I trust to have the honour of calling at eleven
o`clock the day after tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.
`I remain, Sir, with assurances of profound respect, yours very
truly,
{CH_2 ^paragraph 70}
EDWARD D. MALONE.`
-
`How`s that?` I asked triumphantly.
`Well, if your conscience can stand it-`
`It has never failed me yet.`
{CH_2 ^paragraph 75}
`But what do you mean to do?`
`To get there. Once I am in his room I may see some opening. I may
even go the length of open confession. 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 on Wednesday morning- if
he ever deigns to answer you. He is a violent, dangerous, cantankerous
character, 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 you never heard from the fellow at all.`

CH_3
3. He is a Perfectly Impossible Person
-
MY friend`s fear or hope was not destined to be realised. When I
called on Wednesday there was a letter with the West Kensington
postmark upon it, and my name scrawled across the envelope in a
hand-writing which looked like a barbed-wire railing. The contents
were as follows:-
-
`Enmore Park, W.
`SIR,- I have duly received your note, in which you claim to endorse
my views, although I am not aware that they are dependent 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 would call your attention to the fact that such a
word in such a connection is offensive to a degree. The context
convinces me, however, that you have sinned rather through ignorance
and tactlessness than through malice, so I am content to pass the
matter by. You quote an isolated sentence from my lecture, and
appear to have some difficulty in understanding it. I should have
thought that only a sub-human intelligence could have failed to
grasp the point, but if it really needs amplification I shall
consent to see you at the hour named, though visits and visitors of
every sort are exceedingly distasteful to me. As to your suggestion
that I may modify my opinion, I would have you know that it is not
my habit to do so after a deliberate expression of my mature views.
You will kindly show the envelope of this letter to my man, Austin,
when you call, as he has to take every precaution to shield me from
the intrusive rascals who call themselves "journalists".
-
{CH_3 ^paragraph 5}
`Yours faithfully,
GEORGE EDWARD CHALLENGER.`
-
This was the letter that I read aloud to Tarp Henry, who had come
down early to hear the result of my venture. His only remark was,
`There`s some new stuff, cuticura or something, which is better than
`arnica.` Some people have such extraordinary notions of humour.
It was nearly half-past ten before I had received my message, but
a taxicab took me round in good time for my appointment. It was an
imposing porticoed house at which we stopped, and the
heavily-curtained windows gave every indication of wealth upon 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 leather gaiters. I found afterwards that he was the
chauffeur, who filled the gaps left by a succession of fugitive
butlers. He looked me up and down with a searching light blue eye.
{CH_3 ^paragraph 10}
`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, who stepped
out from what proved to be the dining-room door. She was a bright,
vivacious, dark-eyed lady, more French than English in her type.
{CH_3 ^paragraph 15}
`One moment,` she said. `You can wait, Austin. Step in here, sir.
May I ask if you have met my husband before?`
`No, madam, I have not had the honour.`
`Then I apologise to you in advance. I must tell you that he is a
perfectly impossible person- absolutely impossible. If you are
forewarned you will be the more ready to make allowances.`
`It is most considerate of you, madam.`
`Get quickly out of the room if he seems inclined 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 it reflects upon
me and all of us. I suppose it wasn`t about South America you wanted
to see him?`
{CH_3 ^paragraph 20}
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 sure I don`t wonder. But don`t tell him so, for it
makes him very violent. Pretend to believe him, and you may get
through 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- really dangerous- ring the
bell and hold him off until I come. Even at his worst I can usually
control him.`
With these encouraging words the lady handed me over to the taciturn
Austin, who had waited like a bronze statue of discretion during our
short interview, and I was conducted to the end of the passage.
There was a tap at a door, a bull`s bellow from within, and I was face
to face with the Professor.
He sat in a rotating chair behind a broad table, 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 as this. It was his
size which took one`s breath away- his size and his imposing presence.
His head was enormous, the largest I have ever seen upon a human
being. I am sure that his top-hat, had I ventured to don it, would
have slipped over me entirely and rested on my shoulders. He had the
face and beard which I associate with an Assyrian bull; the former
florid, the latter so black as almost to have a suspicion of blue,
spade-shaped and rippling down over his chest. The hair was
peculiar, plastered down in front in a long, curving wisp over his
massive forehead. The eyes were blue-grey under great black tufts,
very clear, very critical, and very masterful. A huge spread of
shoulders and a chest like a barrel were the other parts of him
which appeared above the table, save for two enormous hands covered
with long black hair. This and a bellowing, roaring, rumbling voice
made up my first impression of the notorious Professor Challenger.
`Well?` said he, with a most insolent stare. `What now?`
{CH_3 ^paragraph 25}
I must keep up my deception for at least a little time longer,
otherwise here was evidently an end of the interview.
`You were good enough to give me an appointment, 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 cannot understand plain English,
are you? My general conclusions you are good enough to approve, as I
understand?`
`Entirely, sir- entirely!` I was very emphatic.
{CH_3 ^paragraph 30}
`Dear me! That strengthens my position very much, does it not?
Your age and appearance make your support doubly valuable. Well, at
least you are better than that herd of swine in Vienna, whose
gregarious grunt is, however, not more offensive than the isolated
effort of the British hog.` He glared at me as the present
representative of the beast.
`They seem to have behaved abominably,` said I.
`I assure you that I can fight my own battles, 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 agreeable to 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 a better 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, steely eyes. `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 you were a little severe upon Weissmann in this
matter. Has not the general evidence since that date tended to-
well, to strengthen his position?`
{CH_3 ^paragraph 35}
`What evidence?` He spoke with a menacing calm.
`Well, of course, I am aware that there is not any what you might
call definite evidence. I alluded merely to the trend of modern
thought 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.
{CH_3 ^paragraph 40}
`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 a gentle, persuasive voice.
{CH_3 ^paragraph 45}
`Ah, what indeed?` I murmured. `What does it prove?`
`Shall I tell you?` he cooed.
`Pray do.`
`It proves,` he roared. with a sudden blast of fury, `that you are
the rankest impostor in London- a vile, crawling journalist, who has
no more science than he has decency in his composition!`
He had sprung to his feet with a mad rage in his eyes. Even at
that moment of tension I found time for amazement at the discovery
that he was quite a short man, his head not higher than my shoulder- a
stunted Hercules whose tremendous vitality had all run to depth,
breadth, and brain.
{CH_3 ^paragraph 50}
`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 with me-
you with your walnut of a brain? You think you are omnipotent, you
infernal scribblers, don`t you? That your praise can make a man and
your blame can break him? We must all bow to you, and try to get a
favourable word, must we? This man shall have a leg up, and this man
shall 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,
by the Lord you do it at your own risk. Forfeit, my good Mr. Malone, I
claim forfeit! You have played a rather dangerous game, and it strikes
me that you have lost it.`
`Look here, sir,` said I, backing to the door 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 put his big hands into the side pockets of a
rather boyish short jacket which he wore. `I have thrown several of
you out of the house. 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 stealthy advance,
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 anger was 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.`
{CH_3 ^paragraph 55}
`Dear me!` His black moustache lifted and a white fang twinkled 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 centre
three-quarter every Saturday for 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
Catherine-wheel together down the passage. Somehow we gathered up a
chair upon our way, and bounded on with it towards the street. My
mouth was full of his beard, our arms were locked, our bodies
intertwined, and that infernal chair radiated its legs all round us.
The watchful Austin had thrown open the hall door. We went with a back
somersault down the front steps. I have seen the two Macs attempt
something of the kind at the halls, but it appears to take some
practice to do it without hurting oneself. The chair went to matchwood
at the bottom, and we rolled apart into the gutter. He sprang to his
feet, waving his fists and wheezing like an asthmatic.
`Had enough?` he panted.
`You infernal bully!` I cried, as I gathered myself together.
{CH_3 ^paragraph 60}
Then and there we should have tried the thing out, for he was
effervescing with fight, but fortunately I was rescued from an
odious situation. A policeman was beside us, his notebook in his hand.
`What`s all this? You ought to be ashamed,` said the policeman. It
was the most rational remark which I had heard in Enmore Park. `Well,`
he insisted, turning to me, `what is it, then?`
`This man attacked me,` said I.
`Did you attack him?` asked the policeman.
The Professor breathed hard and said nothing.
{CH_3 ^paragraph 65}
`It`s not the first time, either,` said the policeman, severely,
shaking his head. `You were in trouble last month for the same
thing. You`ve blacked 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.`
{CH_3 ^paragraph 70}
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
or two loafers who had collected. He clumped heavily down the
street, driving this little flock before him. The Professor looked
at me, and there was something 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 I followed him none the less
into the house. The man-servant, Austin, like a wooden image, closed
the door behind us.

CH_4
4. It`s Just the Very Biggest Thing in the World /... /

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