Infomotions, Inc.The Lost World / Doyle, Arthur Conan



Author: Doyle, Arthur Conan
Title: The Lost World
Publisher: Wiretap Electronic Text Archive
Tag(s): summerlee; challenger; professor summerlee; john roxton; professor challenger; young fellah; professor; lord john; english literature
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[pg/etext94/lostw10.txt]

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
June, 1994  [Etext #139]

This etext was created by Judith Boss, Omaha, Nebraska.  The
equipment: an IBM-compatible 486/33, a Hewlett-Packard ScanJet
IIc flatbed scanner, and a copy of Calera Recognition Systems'
TrueScanRisc OCR program donated by Calera.

This text is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN.

                          THE LOST WORLD

                   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.

                          The Lost World

                    By SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

                         COPYRIGHT, 1912

                             Foreword

            Mr. E. D. Malone desires to state that
          both the injunction for restraint and the
          libel action have been withdrawn unreservedly
          by Professor G. E. Challenger, who, being
          satisfied that no criticism or comment in
          this book is meant in an offensive spirit,
          has guaranteed that he will place no
          impediment to its publication and circulation.

                             Contents

CHAPTER
   I.  "THERE ARE HEROISMS ALL ROUND US"
  II.  "TRY YOUR LUCK WITH PROFESSOR CHALLENGER"
 III.  "HE IS A PERFECTLY IMPOSSIBLE PERSON"
  IV.  "IT'S JUST THE VERY BIGGEST THING IN THE WORLD"
   V.  "QUESTION!"
  VI.  "I WAS THE FLAIL OF THE LORD"
 VII.  "TO-MORROW WE DISAPPEAR INTO THE UNKNOWN"
VIII.  "THE OUTLYING PICKETS OF THE NEW WORLD"
  IX.  "WHO COULD HAVE FORESEEN IT?
   X.  "THE MOST WONDERFUL THINGS HAVE HAPPENED"
  XI.  "FOR ONCE I WAS THE HERO"
 XII.  "IT WAS DREADFUL IN THE FOREST"
XIII.  "A SIGHT I SHALL NEVER FORGET"
 XIV.  "THOSE WERE THE REAL CONQUESTS"
  XV.  "OUR EYES HAVE SEEN GREAT WONDERS"
 XVI.  "A PROCESSION!  A PROCESSION!"

                          THE LOST WORLD

                          The Lost World

                            CHAPTER I

                "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 centered 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.

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 kindly, and perfectly unsexual.  My instincts
are all against a woman being too frank and at her ease with me. 
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 coloring, 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 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 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.  "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 round 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?"

"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?"

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 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," 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
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,"
said she.  "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 could 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, honored 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.

"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 fifteen 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 yourself, 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."

"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!"

"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 dear hand rested like warm velvet upon my lips.  "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--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.

                            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; 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 favor."

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 meesion had you in your mind, Mr. Malone?"

"Well, Sir, anything that had adventure and danger in it. 
I really would do my very best.  The more difficult it was, the
better it would suit me."

"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.

"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?"

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."

"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 to-night."

I pocketed the slip of paper.

"One moment, sir," I said, as I realized 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?"

The face flashed back again.

"Went to South America on a solitary expedeetion 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 supposeetion.  Had some
damaged photographs, said to be fakes.  Got so touchy that he
assaults anyone who asks questions, and heaves reporters doun
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.

"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?"

"Well, by his insufferable rudeness and impossible behavior. 
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 favor if he would do them the honor to come to their
next meeting.'  The answer was unprintable."

"You don't say?"

"Well, a bowdlerized version of it would run:  `Professor
Challenger presents his compliments to the President of the
Zoological Institute, and would take it as a personal favor 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."

"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?"

"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 help-mate.

"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?"

"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.

"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 favor 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 honor 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 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."

                           CHAPTER III

              "He is a Perfectly Impossible Person"

My friend's fear or hope was not destined to be realized.  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
handwriting 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
exceeding 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.'     
                         "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 humor.

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.

"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.

"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 honor."

"Then I apologize 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?"

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 ever 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-gray 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?"

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.

"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?"

"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.

"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.

"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 damnedest imposter 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.

"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 favorable 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."

"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 center 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
Catharine-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 practise 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.

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.

"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 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 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.

                            CHAPTER IV

         "It's Just the very Biggest Thing in the World"

Hardly was it shut when Mrs. Challenger darted 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 the week 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--the whole 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 a thousand 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 presented cocked
up there with her face convulsed with anger, her feet dangling,
and her body rigid 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 the lady.

"Here's Mr. Malone pleading for you, Jessie.

Say `please,' and down you come."

"Oh, you brute!  Please! please!"

"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 our neighbors.  `Strange story of high life'--you
felt fairly high on that pedestal, did you not?  Then a sub-title,
`Glimpse of a singular menage.'  He's a foul feeder, is Mr. Malone,
a carrion eater, like all of his kind--porcus ex grege diaboli--
a swine from the devil's herd.  That's it, Malone--what?"

"You are really intolerable!" said I, hotly.

He bellowed with laughter.

"We shall have a coalition presently," he boomed, 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 serious purpose 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 her shoulders. 
"All that you say is perfectly true.  I should be a better man if
I did what you advise, 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 his violence
had done.  "Now, Mr. Malone," he continued, with a great 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 carefully behind
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 better for narcotics.  Heavens! don't bite it!  Cut--and
cut with reverence!  Now lean back, and listen attentively to
whatever I may care to say to you.  If any remark should occur to
you, you can reserve it for some more opportune time.

"First of all, as to your return to my house after your most
justifiable expulsion"--he protruded his beard, and stared 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 most officious policeman, in which I seemed to discern
some glimmering of good feeling upon your part--more, at any
rate, than I am accustomed to associate with your profession. 
In admitting that the fault of the incident lay with you, you gave
some evidence of a certain mental detachment and breadth of view
which attracted my favorable notice.  The sub-species of the
human race to which you 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 with me, as I was minded to make your further acquaintance. 
You will kindly deposit your ash in the small 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 so as to face me, and he
sat all puffed out like an enormous bull-frog, his head laid back
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 like a very tattered sketch-book in his hand.

"I am going to talk to you about South America," said he. 
"No comments if you please.  First of all, I wish you to understand
that nothing I tell you now is to be repeated in any public way
unless you have my express permission.  That permission will, in
all human probability, 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 cried.  "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, "you take 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 far from complete.  But I am prepared to give
you a few indications which will be of interest.  In the first
place, you are probably aware that two years ago I made a journey
to South America--one which will be classical in the scientific
history of the world?  The object of my journey was to verify some
conclusions of Wallace and of Bates, which could only be done by
observing their reported facts under the same conditions in which
they had themselves noted them.  If my expedition had no other
results it would still have been noteworthy, but a curious incident
occurred to me while there which 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 is
still only partially explored, and that a great number of
tributaries, some of them entirely uncharted, run into the
main river.  It was my business to visit this little-known
back-country and to examine its fauna, which furnished me with
the materials for several chapters for that great and monumental
work upon zoology which will be my life's justification.  I was
returning, my work accomplished, when I had occasion to spend a
night at a small Indian village at a point where a certain
tributary--the name and position of which I withhold--opens
into the main river.  The natives were Cucama Indians, an amiable
but degraded race, with mental powers hardly superior to the
average Londoner.  I had effected some cures among them upon my
way up the river, and had impressed them considerably with my
personality, so that I was not surprised to find myself eagerly
awaited upon my return.  I gathered from their signs that someone
had urgent need of my medical services, and I followed the chief
to one of his huts.  When I entered I found that the sufferer to
whose aid I had been summoned had that instant expired.  He was,
to my surprise, no Indian, but a white man; indeed, I may say a
very white man, for he was flaxen-haired and had some
characteristics 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 of the natives, he was a complete
stranger to them, and had come upon their village through 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
always to lift my hat.  It is not too much to say that it will
rank level with my own when the final credit of this business
comes to be apportioned.

"From the contents of the knapsack it was evident 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 such things,
but they appeared to me to be singularly wanting in merit. 
There were also some rather commonplace pictures of river scenery,
a paint-box, a box of colored chalks, some brushes, that curved
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 or he had lost it in his journey. 
Such were the total effects of this strange American Bohemian.

"I was turning away from him when I observed that something
projected from the front of his ragged jacket.  It was this
sketch-book, which was as dilapidated then as you see it now. 
Indeed, I can assure you that a first folio of Shakespeare could
not be treated with greater reverence than this relic has been
since it came into my possession.  I hand it to you now, and I
ask you to take it page by page and to examine the contents."

He helped himself to a cigar and leaned back with a fiercely
critical pair of eyes, taking note of the effect which this
document would produce.

I had opened the volume with some expectation 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 the legend, "Jimmy Colver
on the Mail-boat," written beneath it.  There followed several pages
which were filled with small sketches of Indians and their ways. 
Then came a picture of a cheerful and corpulent ecclesiastic in
a shovel hat, sitting opposite a very thin European, and the
inscription:  "Lunch with Fra Cristofero at Rosario."  Studies of
women and babies accounted for several more pages, and then there
was an unbroken series of animal drawings with such explanations
as "Manatee upon Sandbank," "Turtles and Their Eggs," "Black Ajouti
under a Miriti Palm"--the matter disclosing some sort of pig-like
animal; and finally came a double page of studies of long-snouted
and very unpleasant saurians.  I could make nothing of it, and said
so to the Professor.

"Surely these are only crocodiles?"

"Alligators!  Alligators!  There is hardly such a thing as a true
crocodile 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
landscape roughly tinted in color--the kind of painting which an
open-air artist takes as a guide to a future more elaborate effort. 
There was a pale-green foreground of feathery vegetation, which
sloped upwards and ended in a line of cliffs dark red in color, and
curiously ribbed like some basaltic formations which I have seen. 
They extended in an unbroken wall right across the background. 
At one point was an isolated pyramidal rock, crowned by a great
tree, which appeared to be separated by a cleft from the main crag. 
Behind it all, a blue tropical sky.  A thin green line of vegetation
fringed the summit of the ruddy cliff.

"Well?" he asked.

"It is no doubt a curious formation," said I "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 exclamation of surprise.  There was
a full-page picture of the most extraordinary creature that I had
ever seen.  It was the wild dream of an opium smoker, a vision
of delirium.  The head was like that of a fowl, the body that 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 dozen cocks' wattles placed behind
each other.  In front of this creature was an absurd mannikin,
or dwarf, in human form, who stood staring at it.

"Well, what do you think of that?" cried the 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-wheel down the passage.

"No doubt," said I, "no doubt," as one humors an imbecile. 
"I confess, however," I added, "that this tiny human figure
puzzles me.  If it were an Indian we could set it down as
evidence of some pigmy race in America, but it appears to be
a European in a sun-hat."

The Professor snorted like an angry buffalo.  "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 if you 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," said I.

"Look here!" he cried, leaning forward and dabbing a great hairy
sausage of a finger on to the picture.  "You see that plant
behind the animal; I suppose 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 a purpose?  He couldn't really have stood in front of
that brute and lived to draw it.  He sketched himself in to give a
scale of heights.  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 a well-grown specimen,"
said the Professor, complacently.

"But," I cried, "surely the whole experience of the human race is
not to be set aside on account of a single sketch"--I had turned
over the leaves and ascertained that there was nothing more in
the book--"a single sketch by a wandering American artist who may
have done it under hashish, or in the delirium of fever, or
simply in order to gratify a freakish imagination.  You can't, as
a man of science, defend such a position as that."

For answer the Professor took a book down from a shelf.

"This is an excellent monograph by my gifted friend, Ray Lankester!"
said he.  "There is an illustration here which would interest you. 
Ah, yes, here it is!  The inscription beneath it runs:  `Probable
appearance 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 dead world there was certainly
a very great resemblance to the sketch of the unknown artist.

"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 the kind and carried it in his memory.  It would be
likely to recur to a man in a delirium."

"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 already described as part of the dead man's possessions. 
It was about six inches long, and thicker than 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 recall some half-
forgotten knowledge.

"It might be a very thick human collar-bone," I said.

My companion waved his hand in contemptuous deprecation.

"The human collar-bone is curved.  This is straight.  There is a
groove upon its surface showing that 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 your ignorance, for I don't
suppose the whole South Kensington staff could give a name to it." 
He took a little bone the size of a bean out of a pill-box. 
"So far as I am a judge this human bone is the analogue of the
one which you hold in your hand.  That will give you some idea of
the size of the creature.  You will observe from the cartilage that
this 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 South American animal--a tapir,
for example."

"You may take it, young man, that I am versed in the elements of
my business.  This is not a conceivable bone either of a tapir 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 you somewhere, 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 come away 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 my guide, for I found that
rumors of a strange land were common among all the riverine tribes. 
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, but it is a word of terror along the Amazon. 
Now all tribes agree as to the direction in which Curupuri lives. 
It was the same direction from which the American 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 attention and respect.

"I overcame the extreme reluctance of the natives--a reluctance
which extends even to talk upon the subject--and by judicious
persuasion and gifts, aided, I will admit, by some threats of
coercion, I got two of them to act as guides.  After many
adventures which I need not describe, and after traveling a
distance which I will not mention, in a direction which I
withhold, we came at last to a tract of country which has
never been described, nor, indeed, visited save by my
unfortunate predecessor.  Would you kindly look at this?"

He handed me a photograph--half-plate size.

"The unsatisfactory appearance of it is due to the fact," said he,
"that on descending the river the boat was upset and the case which
contained the undeveloped films was broken, with disastrous results. 
Nearly all of them were totally ruined--an irreparable loss. 
This is one of the few which partially escaped.  This explanation
of deficiencies or abnormalities 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 have misinterpreted that dim surface.  It was a dull
gray landscape, and as I gradually deciphered the details of it I
realized that it represented a long and enormously high line of
cliffs exactly like an immense cataract seen in the distance,
with a sloping, tree-clad plain in the foreground.

"I believe it is the same place as the painted picture," said I.

"It is the same place," the Professor answered.  "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 your eyesight," said the Professor. 
"It is not a pelican, nor, indeed, is it a bird.  It may interest
you to know that I succeeded in shooting that particular specimen. 
It was the only absolute proof of my experiences 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 my photographs.  I clutched at it
as it disappeared in the swirl of the rapids, and part of its
wing was left in my hand.  I was insensible when washed ashore,
but the miserable remnant of my superb specimen was still intact;
I now lay it before you."

From a drawer he produced what seemed to me to be the upper
portion of the wing of a large bat.  It was at least two feet in
length, a curved 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 and scientific atmosphere, I could not have
conceived that the first principles of zoology were so little known. 
Is it possible that you do not know the elementary fact in
comparative anatomy, that the wing of a bird is really the
forearm, while the wing of a bat consists of three elongated
fingers with membranes between?  Now, in this case, the bone is
certainly not the forearm, and you can see for yourself that this
is a single membrane hanging upon a single bone, and therefore
that it cannot belong to a bat.  But if it is neither bird nor
bat, what is it?"

My small stock of knowledge was exhausted.

"I really do not know," said I.

He opened the standard work to which he had already referred me.

"Here," said he, pointing to the picture of an 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 the mechanism of its wing.  Kindly compare
it with the specimen in your hand."

A wave of amazement passed over me as I looked.  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 drooping eyelids and a tolerant
smile, basking in this sudden gleam of sunshine.

"It's just the very biggest thing that I ever heard of!" said I,
though it was my journalistic rather than my scientific
enthusiasm that was roused.  "It is colossal.  You are a Columbus
of science who has discovered 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 my stores 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
and shot the pterodactyl was more accessible.  Being something of
a cragsman, I did manage to get half way to the top of that. 
From that height I had a better idea of the plateau upon the top
of the crags.  It appeared to be very large; neither to east nor
to west could I see any end to the vista of green-capped cliffs. 
Below, it is a swampy, jungly region, full of snakes, insects,
and fever.  It is a natural protection to this singular country."

"Did you see any other trace of life?"

"No, sir, I did not; but during the week that we lay encamped at
the base of the cliff we heard some very strange noises from 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 very difficult one, otherwise the
creatures would have come down and overrun the surrounding 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; "there can only be one explanation.  South America is,
as you may have heard, a granite continent.  At this single point
in the interior there has 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, has been lifted up en bloc with all its living contents,
and cut off by perpendicular precipices 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 the struggle for existence in
the world at large are all neutralized or altered.  Creatures survive
which would otherwise disappear.  You will observe that both the
pterodactyl and the stegosaurus are Jurassic, and therefore of a
great age in the order of life.  They have been artificially
conserved by those 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," said the 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 and partly of jealousy. 
It is not my nature, sir, to cringe to any man, or to seek to prove
a fact if my word has been doubted.  After the first I have not
condescended to show such corroborative proofs as I possess. 
The subject became hateful to me--I would not speak of it. 
When men like yourself, who represent the foolish curiosity
of the public, came to disturb my privacy I was unable to meet
them 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 with me upon the subject,
and yet I fancy that any man of honor would feel the same. 
To-night, however, I propose to give an extreme 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. Percival Waldron, 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 present upon the platform, and
to move a vote of thanks to the lecturer.  While doing so, I
shall make it my business, with infinite tact and delicacy, to
throw out a few remarks which may arouse the interest of the
audience and cause some of them to desire to go more deeply into
the matter.  Nothing contentious, you understand, but only an
indication that there are greater deeps beyond.  I shall hold
myself strongly in leash, and see 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
his violence.  His smile of benevolence was a wonderful thing,
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 I have one ally in the
hall, however inefficient and ignorant of the subject he may be. 
I fancy there will be a large audience, for Waldron, 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 is meant for the world. 
I shall be pleased to see you at the lecture to-night.  In the
meantime, you will understand that no 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 I shall call upon him
with a riding-whip.  But I leave it to you that nothing of all
this appears in print.  Very good.  Then the Zoological
Institute's Hall at eight-thirty to-night."  I had a last
impression of red cheeks, blue rippling beard, and intolerant
eyes, as he waved me out of the room.

                            CHAPTER V

                           "Question!"

What with the physical shocks incidental to my first interview
with Professor Challenger and the mental ones which accompanied
the second, I was a somewhat demoralized journalist by the time I
found myself in Enmore Park once more.  In my aching head the one
thought was throbbing that there really was truth in this man's
story, that it was of tremendous consequence, and that it would
work up into inconceivable copy for the Gazette when I could
obtain permission to use it.  A taxicab was waiting at the end of
the road, 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 had a chat.  But I got
nothing out of him--nothing for publication."

"I'm not so sure about that.  You got a black eye out of him,
and that's for 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-morrow that will raise a blister.  Just give
me the material and I will engage to brand the fellow for ever. 
Professor Munchausen--how's that for an inset 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
believe this 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 that kind.  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 me in 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, "about this scientific
meeting to-night; there can be no privacy about that, anyhow. 
I don't suppose any paper will want to report it, for Waldron has
been reported already a dozen times, and no one is aware that
Challenger will speak.  We may get a scoop, if we are lucky. 
You'll be there in any case, so you'll just give us a pretty
full report.  I'll keep space up to midnight."

My day was a busy one, and I had an early dinner at the Savage
Club with Tarp Henry, to whom I gave some account of my adventures. 
He listened with a sceptical smile on his gaunt face, and roared
with laughter on hearing that the Professor had convinced me.

"My dear chap, things don't happen like that in real life. 
People don't stumble upon enormous discoveries and then lose
their evidence.  Leave that to the novelists.  The fellow is as
full of tricks as the monkey-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 business you
can fake a bone as easily as you can a photograph."

I began to feel uneasy.  Perhaps, after all, I had been premature
in my 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 man in London.  If the medical students
turn out there will be no end of a rag.  I don't want to get into
a bear-garden."

"You might at least do him the justice to hear 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 much greater concourse
than I had expected.  A line of electric broughams discharged
their little cargoes of white-bearded professors, while the dark
stream of humbler pedestrians, who crowded through the arched
door-way, showed that the audience would be popular as well
as scientific.  Indeed, it became evident to us as soon as we had
taken our seats that a youthful and even boyish spirit was abroad
in the gallery and the back portions of the hall.  Looking behind
me, I could see rows of faces of the familiar medical student type. 
Apparently the great hospitals had each sent down their contingent. 
The behavior of the audience at present was good-humored,
but mischievous.  Scraps of popular songs were chorused with
an enthusiasm which was a strange prelude to a scientific lecture,
and there was already a tendency to personal chaff which promised
a jovial evening to others, however embarrassing it might be to
the recipients of these dubious honors.

Thus, when old Doctor Meldrum, with his well-known curly-brimmed
opera-hat, appeared upon the platform, there was such a 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 to his seat there were general
affectionate inquiries from all parts of the hall as to the 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 down to
take his place at the extreme end of the front row of the platform. 
Such a yell of welcome broke forth when his black beard first
protruded round the corner that I began to suspect Tarp Henry
was right in his surmise, and that this assemblage was there not
merely for the sake of the lecture, but because it had got rumored
abroad that the famous Professor would take part in the proceedings.

There was some sympathetic laughter on his entrance among the
front benches of well-dressed spectators, as though the
demonstration of the students in this instance was not unwelcome
to them.  That greeting was, indeed, a frightful outburst 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 one who amused and
interested them, rather than of one they disliked or despised. 
Challenger smiled with weary and tolerant contempt, 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 and supercilious eyes at
the crowded hall before him.  The uproar of his advent had not
yet died away 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 me if I say that he has
the common fault of most Englishmen of being inaudible.  Why on
earth people who have something to say which is worth hearing
should not take the slight trouble to learn how to make it heard
is one of the strange mysteries of modern life.  Their methods
are as reasonable as to try to pour some precious stuff from the
spring to the reservoir through a non-conducting pipe, which
could by the least effort be opened.  Professor Murray made
several profound remarks 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,
the famous popular lecturer, rose amid a general murmur of applause. 
He was a stern, gaunt man, with a harsh voice, and an aggressive
manner, but he had the merit of knowing how to assimilate the
ideas of other men, and to pass them on in a way which was
intelligible and even interesting to the lay public, with a
happy knack of being funny about the most unlikely objects,
so that the precession of the Equinox or the formation of a
vertebrate became a highly humorous process as treated by him.

It was a bird's-eye view of creation, as interpreted by science,
which, in language always clear and sometimes picturesque, he
unfolded before us.  He told us of the globe, a huge mass of
flaming gas, flaring through the heavens.  Then he pictured the
solidification, the cooling, 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 inexplicable drama
of life.  On the origin of life itself he was discreetly vague. 
That the germs of it could hardly have survived 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 not succeeded up to date in
making organic life in our laboratories out of inorganic materials. 
The gulf between the dead and the living was something which our
chemistry could not as yet bridge.  But there was a higher and
subtler chemistry of Nature, which, working with great forces
over long epochs, might well produce results which were impossible
for us.  There the matter must be left.

This brought the lecturer to the great ladder of animal life,
beginning low down in molluscs and feeble sea creatures, then up
rung by rung through reptiles and fishes, till at last we came to
a kangaroo-rat, a creature which brought forth its young alive,
the direct ancestor of all mammals, and presumably, therefore, of
everyone in the audience.  ("No, no," from a sceptical student in
the back row.)  If the young gentleman in the red tie who cried
"No, no," and who presumably claimed to have been hatched out of
an egg, would wait 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 been the 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 of development?  He hoped that he would not hurt the
feelings of the gentleman in the red tie if he maintained that,
whatever virtues that gentleman might possess in private life,
still the vast processes of the universe were not fully justified
if they were to end entirely in his production.  Evolution was
not a spent force, but one still working, and even greater
achievements were in store.

Having thus, amid a general titter, played very prettily with his
interrupter, the lecturer went back to his picture of the past,
the drying of the seas, the emergence of the sand-bank, the
sluggish, viscous life which lay upon their margins, the
overcrowded 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 the Wealden or in the Solenhofen slates,
but which were fortunately extinct long before the first
appearance of mankind upon this planet."

"Question!" boomed a voice from the platform.

Mr. Waldron was a strict disciplinarian with a gift of acid
humor, as exemplified upon the gentleman with the red tie, which
made it perilous to interrupt him.  But this interjection
appeared to him so absurd that he was at a loss how to deal
with it.  So looks the Shakespearean who is confronted by a
rancid Baconian, or the astronomer who is assailed by a flat-
earth fanatic.  He paused for a moment, and then, raising his
voice, repeated slowly the words:  "Which were extinct before
the coming of man."

"Question!" boomed the voice once more.

Waldron looked with amazement along the line of professors upon
the platform until his eyes fell upon the figure of Challenger,
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," and amid laughter he renewed his lecture as if this
was a final explanation and no more need be said.

But the incident was far from being closed.  Whatever path the
lecturer took amid the wilds of the past seemed invariably to
lead him to some assertion as to extinct or prehistoric life
which instantly brought the same bulls' bellow from the Professor. 
The audience began to anticipate it and to roar 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,
there was 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 a strong man, became rattled. 
He hesitated, stammered, repeated himself, got snarled in a long
sentence, and finally turned furiously upon the cause of his troubles.

"This is really intolerable!" he cried, glaring across the platform. 
"I must ask you, Professor Challenger, to cease these ignorant and
unmannerly interruptions."

There was a hush over the hall, the students rigid with delight
at seeing the high gods on Olympus quarrelling among themselves. 
Challenger levered his bulky figure slowly out of his chair.

"I must in turn ask you, Mr. Waldron," he said, "to cease to make
assertions which are not in strict accordance with scientific 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 of amusement or execration. 
The chairman was on his feet flapping both his 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, he shot
a venomous glance at his opponent, who seemed to be slumbering
deeply, with the same broad, happy smile upon his face.

At last the lecture came to an end--I am inclined to think
that it was a premature one, as the peroration was hurried
and disconnected.  The thread of the argument had been rudely
broken, and the audience was restless and expectant.  Waldron sat
down, and, after a chirrup from the 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 a sustained interruption
from the back.  "I beg pardon--Ladies, Gentlemen, and Children--I
must apologize, I had inadvertently omitted a considerable
section of this audience" (tumult, during which the Professor
stood with one hand raised and his enormous head nodding
sympathetically, as if he were bestowing a pontifical blessing
upon the crowd), "I have been selected to move a vote of thanks
to Mr. Waldron for the very picturesque and imaginative address
to which we have just listened.  There are points in it with
which I disagree, and it has been my duty to indicate them as
they arose, but, none the less, Mr. Waldron has accomplished his
object well, that object being to give a simple and interesting
account of what he conceives to have been the history of our planet. 
Popular lectures are the easiest to listen to, but Mr. Waldron"
(here he beamed and blinked at the lecturer) "will excuse me when
I say that they are necessarily both superficial and misleading,
since they have to be graded to the comprehension of an
ignorant audience."  (Ironical cheering.)  "Popular lecturers
are in their nature parasitic."  (Angry gesture of protest from
Mr. Waldron.)  "They exploit for fame or cash the work which has
been done by their indigent and unknown brethren.  One smallest
new fact obtained in the laboratory, one brick built into the
temple of science, far outweighs any second-hand exposition which
passes an idle hour, but can leave no useful result behind it. 
I put forward this obvious reflection, not out of any desire to
disparage Mr. Waldron in particular, but that you may not lose
your sense of proportion and mistake the acolyte for the high priest." 
(At this point Mr. Waldron whispered to the chairman, 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 wider interest.  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 types
of animal life upon the earth.  I do not speak upon this subject
as an amateur, nor, I may add, as a popular lecturer, but I speak
as one whose scientific conscience compels him to adhere closely
to facts, when I say that Mr. Waldron is very wrong in supposing
that because he has never himself seen a so-called prehistoric
animal, therefore these creatures no longer exist.  They are
indeed, as he has said, our ancestors, but they are, if I may use
the expression, our contemporary ancestors, who can still be
found with all their hideous and formidable characteristics if
one has but the energy and hardihood to seek their haunts. 
Creatures which were supposed to be Jurassic, 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
secret haunts.  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 kindly stand up
that I may know him?"  (A voice, "Here he is, sir!" and an
inoffensive little person in spectacles, struggling violently,
was held up among a group of students.)  "Did you venture to call
me a liar?"  ("No, sir, no!" shouted the accused, and disappeared
like a jack-in-the-box.)  "If any person in this hall dares to
doubt my veracity, I shall be glad to have a few words with him
after the lecture."  ("Liar!")  "Who said that?"  (Again the
inoffensive one plunging desperately, was elevated high into the air.) 
"If I come down among you----" (General chorus of "Come, love, come!"
which interrupted the proceedings for some moments, while the
chairman, standing up and waving both his arms, seemed to be
conducting the music.  The Professor, with his face flushed,
his nostrils dilated, and his beard bristling, was now in a
proper Berserk mood.)  "Every great discoverer has been met with
the same incredulity--the sure brand of a generation of fools. 
When great facts are laid before you, you have not the intuition,
the imagination which would help you to understand them.  You can
only throw mud at the men who have risked their lives to open new
fields to science.  You persecute the prophets!  Galileo!  Darwin,
and I----" (Prolonged cheering and complete interruption.)

All this is from my hurried notes taken at the time, which give
little notion of the absolute chaos to which the assembly had by
this time been reduced.  So terrific was the uproar that several
ladies had already beaten a hurried retreat.  Grave and reverend
seniors seemed to have caught the prevailing spirit as badly as
the students, and I saw white-bearded men rising and shaking
their fists at the obdurate Professor.  The whole great audience
seethed and simmered like a boiling pot.  The Professor took a
step forward and raised both his hands.  There was something so
big and arresting and virile in the man that the clatter and
shouting died gradually away before his commanding 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 number of 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 of science. 
You dispute it."  (Cheers.)  "Then I put you to the test.  Will you
accredit one or more of your own number to go out as your
representatives and test my statement in your name?"

Mr. Summerlee, the veteran Professor of Comparative Anatomy, rose
among the audience, a tall, thin, bitter man, with the withered
aspect of a theologian.  He wished, he said, to ask Professor
Challenger whether the results to which he had alluded in his
remarks had been obtained during a journey to the headwaters of
the Amazon made by him two years before.

Professor Challenger answered that they had.

Mr. Summerlee desired to know how it was that Professor
Challenger claimed to have made discoveries in those regions
which had been overlooked by Wallace, Bates, and other previous
explorers of established scientific repute.

Professor Challenger answered that Mr. Summerlee appeared to be
confusing the Amazon with the Thames; that it was in reality a
somewhat larger river; that Mr. Summerlee might be interested to
know that with the Orinoco, which communicated with it, some
fifty thousand miles of country were opened up, and that in so
vast a space it 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,
which lay in the fact that any assertion about the former could be
tested, while about the latter it could not.  He would be obliged
if Professor Challenger would give the latitude and the longitude
of the country in which prehistoric animals were to be found.

Professor Challenger replied that he reserved such information
for good reasons of his own, but would be prepared to give it
with proper precautions to a committee chosen from the audience. 
Would Mr. Summerlee serve on such a committee and test his story
in person?

Mr. Summerlee:  "Yes, I will."  (Great cheering.)

Professor Challenger:  "Then I guarantee that I will place in
your hands such material as will enable you to find your way. 
It is only right, however, since Mr. Summerlee goes to check my
statement that I should have one or more with him who may check his. 
I will not disguise from you that there are difficulties and dangers. 
Mr. Summerlee will need a younger colleague.  May I ask for volunteers?"

It is thus that the great crisis of a man's life springs out at him. 
Could I have imagined when I entered that hall that I was about to
pledge myself to a wilder adventure than had ever come to me in
my dreams?  But Gladys--was it not the very opportunity of which
she spoke?  Gladys would have told me to go.  I had sprung to my feet. 
I was speaking, and yet I had prepared no words.  Tarp Henry, my
companion, was plucking at my 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 few seats 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 repeating over 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 chairman asked of my tall rival.

"I am Lord John Roxton.  I have already been up the Amazon,
I know all the ground, and have special qualifications for
this investigation."

"Lord John Roxton's reputation as a sportsman and a traveler is,
of course, world-famous," said the chairman; "at the same time it
would certainly be as well to have a member of the Press upon
such an expedition."

"Then I move," said Professor Challenger, "that both these
gentlemen be elected, as representatives of this meeting, to
accompany Professor Summerlee upon his journey to investigate and
to report upon the truth of my statements."

And so, amid shouting and cheering, our fate was decided, and I
found myself borne away in the human current which swirled
towards the door, with my mind half stunned by the vast new
project which had risen so suddenly before it.  As I emerged from
the hall I was conscious for a moment of a rush of laughing
students--down the pavement, and of an arm wielding 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 myself walking under the
silvery lights of Regent Street, full of thoughts of Gladys and
of wonder as to my future.

Suddenly there was a touch at my elbow.  I turned, and found
myself looking into the humorous, masterful eyes of the tall, thin
man who had volunteered to be my companion on 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 to spare me half an hour, for
there are one or two things that I badly want to say to you."

                            CHAPTER VI

                  "I was the Flail of the Lord"

Lord John Roxton and I turned down Vigo Street together and
through the dingy portals of the famous aristocratic rookery. 
At the end of a long drab passage my new acquaintance pushed open
a door and turned on an electric switch.  A number of lamps shining
through tinted shades bathed the whole great room before us in a
ruddy radiance.  Standing in the doorway and glancing round me, I
had a general impression of extraordinary comfort and elegance
combined with an atmosphere of masculine virility.  Everywhere there
were mingled the luxury of the wealthy man of taste and the
careless untidiness of the bachelor.  Rich furs and strange
iridescent mats from some Oriental bazaar were scattered upon
the floor.  Pictures and prints which even my unpractised eyes
could recognize as being of great price and rarity hung thick upon
the walls.  Sketches of boxers, of ballet-girls, and of racehorses
alternated with a sensuous Fragonard, a martial Girardet, and a
dreamy Turner.  But amid these varied ornaments there were
scattered the trophies which brought back strongly to my
recollection the fact that Lord John Roxton was one of the great
all-round sportsmen and athletes of his day.  A dark-blue oar
crossed with a cherry-pink one above his mantel-piece spoke of
the old Oxonian and Leander man, while the foils and
boxing-gloves above and below them were the tools of a man who
had won supremacy with each.  Like a dado round the room was the
jutting line of splendid heavy game-heads, the best of their sort
from every quarter of the world, with the rare white rhinoceros
of the Lado Enclave drooping its supercilious lip above them all.

In the center of the rich red carpet was a black and gold Louis
Quinze table, a lovely antique, now sacrilegiously desecrated
with marks of glasses and the scars of cigar-stumps.  On it stood
a silver tray of smokables and a burnished spirit-stand, from
which and an adjacent siphon my silent host proceeded to charge
two high glasses.  Having indicated an arm-chair to me and placed
my refreshment near it, he handed me a long, smooth Havana. 
Then, seating himself opposite to me, he looked at me long and
fixedly with his strange, twinkling, reckless eyes--eyes of a
cold light blue, the color of a glacier lake.

Through the thin haze of my cigar-smoke I noted the details of a
face which was already familiar to me from many photographs--the
strongly-curved nose, the hollow, worn cheeks, the dark, ruddy
hair, thin at the top, the crisp, virile moustaches, 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 the English country gentleman, the keen,
alert, open-air lover of dogs and of horses.  His skin was of a
rich flower-pot red from sun and wind.  His eyebrows were tufted
and overhanging, which gave those naturally cold eyes an almost
ferocious aspect, an impression which was increased by his strong
and furrowed brow.  In figure he was spare, but very strongly
built--indeed, he had often proved that there were few men in
England capable of such sustained exertions.  His height was a
little over six feet, but he seemed shorter on account of a
peculiar rounding of the shoulders.  Such was the famous Lord
John Roxton as he sat opposite to me, biting hard upon his cigar
and watching me steadily in a long and embarrassing silence.

"Well," said he, at last, "we've gone and done it, young fellah
my lad."  (This curious phrase he pronounced as if it were all one
word--"young-fellah-me-lad.")  "Yes, we've taken a jump, you an' me. 
I suppose, now, when you went into that room 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 from
Uganda, 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 my business.  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 gentleman jock 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's out 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 the old
dear unless some food is got into him, but as he lies in bed with
a revolver on his coverlet, and swears he will put six of the
best through anyone that comes near him, there's been a bit of a
strike among the 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 could rush him.  He may be
dozin', and at the worst he can only wing one of us, and the
other should have him.  If we can get his bolster-cover round his
arms and then 'phone up a stomach-pump, we'll give the old dear
the supper of his life."

It was a rather desperate business to come suddenly into one's
day's work.  I don't think that I am a particularly brave man. 
I have an Irish imagination which makes the unknown and the untried
more terrible than they are.  On the other hand, I was brought up
with a horror of cowardice and with a terror of such a stigma. 
I dare say that I could throw myself over a precipice, like the Hun
in the history books, if my courage to do it were questioned, and
yet it would surely be pride and fear, rather than courage, which
would be my inspiration.  Therefore, although every nerve in my
body shrank from the whisky-maddened figure which I pictured in
the room above, I still answered, in as careless a voice as I
could command, that I was ready to go.  Some further remark of
Lord Roxton's about the 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 of laughter, he patted me two or three times
on the chest, finally pushing me back into my chair.

"All right, sonny my lad--you'll do," said he.  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 in a week.  I say, young
fellah, I hope you don't mind--what?  You see, between you an' me
close-tiled, I look on this South American business as a mighty
serious thing, and if I have a pal with me I want a man I can
bank on.  So I sized you down, and I'm bound to say that you came
well out of it.  You see, it's all up to you and me, for this old
Summerlee man will want dry-nursin' from the first.  By the way,
are you by any chance the Malone 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 try against Richmond--as fine a swervin' run as I saw the
whole season.   I never miss a Rugby match if I can help it, 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 next Wednesday 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
think of learnin'.  You're all bees without stings, so far as
lookin' after the hive goes.  You'll look silly, some o' these
days, when someone comes along an' sneaks the honey.  But you'll
need to hold your gun straight in South America, for, unless our
friend the Professor is a madman or a liar, we may see some queer
things before we get back.  What gun have you?"

He crossed to an oaken cupboard, and as he threw it open I caught
a glimpse of glistening rows of parallel barrels, like the pipes
of an organ.

"I'll see what I can spare you out of my own battery," said he.

One by one he took out a succession of beautiful rifles, opening
and shutting them with a snap and a clang, and then patting them
as he put them back into the rack as tenderly as a mother would
fondle her children.

"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 the poet of the horse and
the gun and the man that handles both.  Now, here's a useful
tool--.470, telescopic sight, 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
those parts, I may tell you, though you won't find it in any
Blue-book.  There are times, young fellah, when every one 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, ended it myself.  Each of those nicks
is for a slave murderer--a good row of them--what?  That big one
is for Pedro Lopez, the king of them all, that I killed in a
backwater of the Putomayo River.  Now, here's something that
would do for you."  He took out a beautiful brown-and-silver rifle. 
"Well rubbered at the stock, sharply sighted, five cartridges to
the clip.  You can trust your life to that."  He handed it to me
and closed the door of his oak cabinet.

"By the way," he continued, coming back to his 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 sealed
orders from a man we don't know.  He seemed an uppish old bird. 
His brothers of science don't seem too fond of him, either. 
How came you to take an interest in the affair?"

I told him shortly my experiences of the morning, and he
listened intently.  Then he drew out a map of South America
and laid it on the table.

"I believe every single word he said to you was the truth," said
he, earnestly, "and, mind you, I have something to go on when I
speak like that.  South America is a place I love, and I think,
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 realize what 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 the
war I made on the slave-dealers.  Well, when I was up there I
heard some yarns of the same kind--traditions of Indians and the
like, but with somethin' behind them, no doubt.  The more you
knew of that country, young fellah, the more you would understand
that anythin' was possible--ANYTHIN'1.  There are just some narrow
water-lanes along which folk travel, and outside that it is
all darkness.  Now, down here in the Matto Grande"--he swept his
cigar over a part of the map--"or up in this corner where three
countries meet, nothin' would surprise me.  As that chap said
to-night, there are fifty-thousand miles of water-way runnin'
through a forest that is very near the size of Europe.  You and
I could be as far away from each other as Scotland is from
Constantinople, and yet each of us be in the same great Brazilian forest. 
Man has just made a track here and a scrape there in the maze. 
Why, the river rises and falls the best part of forty feet,
and half the country is a morass that you can't pass over. 
Why shouldn't somethin' new and wonderful lie in such a country? 
And why shouldn't we be the men to find it out?  Besides," he
added, his queer, gaunt face shining 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't leave a mark.  But a
sportin' risk, young fellah, that's the salt of existence. 
Then it's worth livin' again.  We're all gettin' a deal too soft
and dull and comfy.  Give me the great waste lands and the wide
spaces, with a gun in my fist and somethin' to look for that's
worth findin'.  I've tried war and steeplechasin' and aeroplanes,
but this huntin' of beasts that look like a lobster-supper dream
is a brand-new sensation." He chuckled with glee at the prospect.

Perhaps I have dwelt too long upon this new acquaintance, but he
is to be my comrade for many a day, and so I have tried to set
him down as I first saw him, with his quaint personality and his
queer little tricks of speech and of thought.  It was only the
need of getting in the account 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 the thought of the adventures which awaited us.  It was
very clear to me that if dangers lay before us I could not in all
England have found a cooler head or a braver spirit with which to
share them.

That night, wearied as I was after the wonderful happenings of
the day, I sat late with McArdle, the news editor, explaining to
him the whole situation, which he thought important enough to
bring next morning before the notice of Sir George Beaumont,
the chief.  It was agreed that I should write home full accounts
of my adventures in the shape of successive letters to McArdle,
and that these should either be edited for the Gazette as they
arrived, or held back to be published later, according to the
wishes of Professor Challenger, since we could not yet know what
conditions he might attach to those directions which should guide
us to the unknown land.  In response to a telephone inquiry, we
received nothing more definite than a fulmination against the
Press, ending up with 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 the moment of starting.  A second question from us
failed to elicit any answer at all, save a plaintive bleat from
his wife to the effect that her husband was in a very violent
temper already, and that she hoped we would do nothing to make
it worse.  A third attempt, later in the day, provoked a terrific
crash, and a subsequent message from the Central Exchange that
Professor Challenger's receiver had been shattered.  After that
we abandoned all attempt at communication.

And now my patient readers, I can address you directly no longer. 
From now onwards (if, indeed, any continuation of this narrative
should ever reach you) it can only be through the paper which
I represent.  In the hands of the editor I leave this account
of the events which have led up to one of the most remarkable
expeditions of all time, so that if I never return to England
there shall be some record as to how the affair came about.  I am
writing these last lines in the saloon of 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 close the
notebook--a picture which is the last memory of the old country
which I bear away with me.  It is a wet, foggy morning in the late
spring; a thin, cold rain is falling.  Three shining mackintoshed
figures are walking down the quay, making for the gang-plank of
the great liner from which the blue-peter is flying.  In front of
them a porter pushes a trolley piled high with trunks, wraps,
and gun-cases.  Professor Summerlee, a long, melancholy figure,
walks with dragging steps and drooping head, as one who is already
profoundly sorry for himself.  Lord John Roxton steps briskly,
and his thin, eager face beams forth between his hunting-cap and
his muffler.  As for myself, I am glad to have got the bustling
days of preparation and the pangs of leave-taking behind me, and
I have no doubt 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 had promised to see us off.  He runs after us, a
puffing, red-faced, irascible figure.

"No thank you," says he; "I should much prefer not to go aboard. 
I have only a few words to say to you, and they can very well be
said where we are.  I beg you not to imagine that I am in any way
indebted to you for making this journey.  I would have you to
understand that it is a matter of perfect indifference to me, and
I refuse to entertain the most remote sense of personal obligation. 
Truth is truth, and nothing which you can report can affect it in
any way, though it may excite the emotions and allay the curiosity
of a number of very ineffectual people.  My directions for your
instruction and guidance are in this sealed envelope.  You will
open it when you reach a town upon the Amazon which is called
Manaos, but not until the date and hour which is marked upon
the outside.  Have I made myself clear?  I leave the strict
observance of my conditions entirely to your honor.  No, Mr. Malone,
I will place no restriction upon your correspondence, since
the ventilation of the facts is the object of your journey; but
I demand that you shall give no particulars as to your exact
destination, and that nothing be actually published until your return. 
Good-bye, sir.  You have done something to mitigate my feelings
for the loathsome profession to which you unhappily belong. 
Good-bye, Lord John.  Science is, as I understand, a sealed book
to you; but you may congratulate yourself upon the hunting-field
which awaits you.  You will, no doubt, have the opportunity of
describing 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 to London a wiser man."

So he turned upon his heel, and a minute later from the deck I
could see his short, squat figure bobbing about in the distance
as he made his way back to his train.  Well, we are well down
Channel now.  There's the last bell for letters, and it's
good-bye to the pilot.  We'll be "down, hull-down, on the old
trail" from now on.  God bless all we leave behind us, and send
us safely back.

                           CHAPTER VII

            "To-morrow we Disappear into the Unknown"

I will not bore those whom this narrative may reach by an account
of our luxurious voyage upon the Booth liner, nor will I tell of
our week's stay at Para (save that I should wish to acknowledge
the great kindness of the Pereira da Pinta Company in helping us
to get together our equipment).  I will also allude very briefly
to our river journey, up a wide, slow-moving, clay-tinted stream,
in a steamer which was little smaller than that which had carried
us across the Atlantic.  Eventually we found ourselves through
the narrows of Obidos and reached the town of Manaos.  Here we
were rescued from the limited attractions of the local inn by
Mr. Shortman, the representative of the British and Brazilian
Trading Company.  In his hospital Fazenda we spent our time until
the day when we were empowered to open the letter of instructions
given to us by Professor Challenger.  Before I reach the surprising
events of that 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 my material to your own discretion, Mr.
McArdle, since it is through your hands that this report must
pass before it reaches the world.

The scientific attainments of Professor Summerlee are too well
known for me to trouble to recapitulate them.  He is better
equipped for a rough expedition of this sort than one would
imagine at first sight.  His tall, gaunt, stringy figure is
insensible to fatigue, and his dry, half-sarcastic, and often
wholly unsympathetic manner is uninfluenced by any change in
his surroundings.  Though in his sixty-sixth year, I have never
heard him express any dissatisfaction at the occasional hardships
which we have had to encounter.  I had regarded his presence as an
encumbrance to the expedition, but, as a matter of fact, I am now
well convinced that his power of endurance is as great as my own. 
In temper he is naturally acid and sceptical.  From the beginning
he has never concealed his belief that Professor Challenger is
an absolute fraud, that we are all embarked upon 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 much
passionate 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
obtained some consolation from the beauty and variety of the
insect and bird life around him, for he is absolutely
whole-hearted in his devotion to science.  He spends his days
flitting through the woods with his shot-gun and his
butterfly-net, and his evenings in mounting the many specimens
he has acquired.  Among his minor peculiarities are that he is
careless as to his attire, unclean in his person, exceedingly
absent-minded in his habits, and addicted to smoking a short
briar pipe, which is seldom out of his mouth.  He has been upon
several scientific expeditions in his youth (he was with
Robertson in Papua), and the life of the camp and the canoe is
nothing fresh to him.

Lord John Roxton has some points in common with Professor
Summerlee, and others in which they are the very antithesis to
each other.  He is twenty years younger, but has something of the
same spare, scraggy physique.  As to his appearance, I have, as I
recollect, described it in that portion of my narrative which I
have left behind me in London.  He is exceedingly neat and prim
in his ways, 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 in speech, and sinks
readily into his own thoughts, but he is always quick to answer a
question or join in a conversation, talking in a queer, jerky,
half-humorous fashion.  His knowledge of the world, and very
especially of South America, is surprising, and he has a
whole-hearted belief in the possibilities of our journey which is
not to be dashed by the sneers of Professor Summerlee.  He has a
gentle voice and a quiet manner, but behind his twinkling blue
eyes there lurks a capacity for furious wrath and implacable
resolution, the more dangerous because they are held in leash. 
He spoke little of his own exploits in Brazil and Peru, but it
was a revelation to me to find the excitement which was caused by
his presence among the riverine natives, who looked upon him as
their champion and protector.  The exploits of the Red Chief, as
they called him, had become legends among them, but the real
facts, as far as I could learn them, were amazing enough.

These were that Lord John had found himself some years before in
that no-man's-land which is formed by the half-defined frontiers
between Peru, Brazil, and Columbia.  In this great district the
wild rubber tree flourishes, and has become, as in the Congo, a
curse to the natives which can only be compared to their forced
labor under the Spaniards upon the old silver mines of Darien. 
A handful of villainous half-breeds dominated the country, armed
such Indians as would support them, and turned the rest into
slaves, terrorizing them with the most inhuman tortures in order
to force them to gather the india-rubber, which was then floated
down the river to Para.  Lord John Roxton expostulated on behalf
of the wretched victims, and received nothing but threats and
insults for his pains.  He then formally declared war against
Pedro Lopez, the leader of the slave-drivers, enrolled a band of
runaway slaves in his service, armed them, and conducted a
campaign, which ended by his killing with his own hands the
notorious half-breed and breaking down the system which he represented.

No wonder that the ginger-headed man with the silky voice and the
free and easy manners was now looked upon with deep interest upon
the banks of the great South American river, though the feelings
he inspired were naturally mixed, since the gratitude of the
natives was equaled by the resentment of those who desired to
exploit them.  One useful result of his former experiences was
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 Roxton was a South Americomaniac. 
He could not speak of that great country without ardor, and this
ardor was infectious, for, ignorant as I was, he fixed my
attention and stimulated my curiosity.  How I wish I could
reproduce the glamour of his discourses, the peculiar mixture
of accurate knowledge and of racy imagination which gave them
their fascination, until even the Professor's cynical and
sceptical smile would gradually vanish from his thin face as
he listened.  He would tell the history of the mighty river so
rapidly explored (for some of the first conquerors of Peru
actually crossed the entire continent upon its waters), and yet
so unknown in regard to all that lay behind its ever-changing banks.

"What is there?" he would cry, pointing to the north.  "Wood and
marsh and unpenetrated jungle.  Who knows what it may shelter? 
And there to the south?  A wilderness of swampy forest, where
no white man has ever been.  The unknown is up against us on
every side.  Outside the narrow lines of the rivers what does
anyone know?  Who will say what is possible in such a country? 
Why should old man Challenger not be right?"  At which direct
defiance the stubborn sneer would reappear upon Professor
Summerlee's face, and he would sit, shaking his sardonic head
in unsympathetic silence, behind the cloud of his briar-root pipe.

So much, for the moment, for my two white companions, whose
characters and limitations will be further exposed, as surely as
my own, as this narrative proceeds.  But already we have enrolled
certain retainers 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 the recommendation of the steamship
company, on whose vessels he had learned to speak a halting English.

It was at Para also that we engaged Gomez and Manuel, two
half-breeds from up the river, just come down with a cargo
of redwood.  They were swarthy fellows, bearded and fierce,
as active and wiry as panthers.  Both of them had spent their
lives in those upper waters of the Amazon which we were about
to explore, and it was this recommendation which had caused Lord
John to engage them.  One of them, Gomez, had the further
advantage that he could speak excellent English.  These men were
willing to act as our personal servants, to cook, to row, or to
make themselves useful in any way at a payment of fifteen dollars
a month.  Besides these, we had engaged three Mojo Indians from
Bolivia, who are the most skilful at fishing and boat work of all
the river tribes.  The chief of these we called Mojo, after his
tribe, and the others are known as Jose and Fernando.  Three white
men, then, two half-breeds, one negro, and three Indians made up
the personnel of the little expedition which lay waiting for its
instructions at Manaos before starting upon its singular quest.

At last, after a weary week, the day had come 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 the sunshine, with the shadows of the
palm trees as black and definite as the trees themselves.  The air
was calm, full of the eternal hum of insects, a tropical chorus
of many octaves, from the deep drone of the bee to the high,
keen pipe of the mosquito.  Beyond the veranda was a small
cleared garden, bounded with cactus hedges and adorned with
clumps of flowering shrubs, round which the great blue butterflies
and the tiny humming-birds fluttered and darted in crescents of
sparkling light.  Within we were seated round the cane table,
on which lay a sealed envelope.  Inscribed upon it, in the jagged
handwriting of Professor Challenger, were the words:--

"Instructions to Lord John Roxton and party.  To be opened at
Manaos upon July 15th, at 12 o'clock precisely."

Lord John had placed his watch upon the table 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 gaunt hand.

"What can it possibly matter whether we open it now or in seven
minutes?" said he.  "It is all part and parcel of the same system
of quackery and nonsense, for which I regret to say that the
writer is notorious."

"Oh, come, we must play the game accordin' to rules," said Lord John. 
"It's old man Challenger's show and we are here by his good will,
so it would be rotten bad form if we didn't follow his instructions
to the letter."

"A pretty business it is!" cried the Professor, 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 take the next down-
river boat and catch the Bolivia at Para.  After all, I have
some more responsible work 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 flattened on the table.  It was a blank sheet.  He turned
it over.  Again it was blank.  We looked at each other in a
bewildered silence, which was broken by a discordant burst of
derisive laughter from Professor Summerlee.

"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 him as 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 ever been written upon
this paper."

"May I come in?" boomed a voice from the veranda.

The shadow of a squat figure had stolen across the patch of sunlight. 
That voice!  That monstrous breadth of shoulder!  We sprang to our
feet with a gasp of astonishment 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 open space before us.  He threw back his head, and
there he stood in the golden glow with all his old Assyrian
luxuriance of beard, all his native 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 must confess that I
had never intended that you should open it, for it had been my
fixed intention to be with you before the hour.  The unfortunate
delay can be apportioned between 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 me understand why you should have worked it
in so extraordinary a manner."

Instead of answering, Professor Challenger entered, shook hands
with myself and Lord John, bowed with ponderous insolence to
Professor Summerlee, and sank back into a basket-chair, which
creaked and swayed beneath 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, since
you will have the inestimable advantage of my own guidance. 
From the first I had determined that I would myself preside over
your investigation.  The most elaborate charts would, as you
will readily admit, be a poor substitute for my own intelligence
and advice.  As to the small ruse which I played upon you in the
matter of the envelope, it is clear that, had I told you all my
intentions, I should have been forced to resist unwelcome
pressure to travel out with you."

"Not from me, sir!" exclaimed Professor Summerlee, heartily. 
"So long as there was another ship upon the Atlantic."

Challenger waved him away with his great hairy hand.

"Your common sense will, I am sure, sustain my objection and
realize that it was better that I should direct my own movements
and appear 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 your destination.  From henceforth I take
command of this expedition, and I must ask you to complete your
preparations to-night, so that we may be able to make an early
start in the morning.  My time is of value, and the same thing
may be said, no doubt, in a lesser degree of your own.  I propose,
therefore, that we push on as rapidly as possible, until I have
demonstrated what you have come to see."

Lord John Roxton has chartered a large steam launch, the Esmeralda,
which was to carry us up the river.  So far as climate goes, it
was immaterial what time we chose for our expedition, as the
temperature ranges from seventy-five to ninety degrees both
summer and winter, with no appreciable difference in heat. 
In moisture, however, it is otherwise; from December to May is
the period of the rains, and during this time the river slowly
rises until it attains a height of nearly forty feet above its
low-water mark.  It floods the banks, extends in great lagoons
over a monstrous waste of country, and forms a huge district,
called locally the Gapo, which is for the most part too marshy
for foot-travel and too shallow for boating.  About June the
waters begin to fall, and are at their lowest at October
or November.  Thus our expedition was at the time of the dry
season, when the great river and its tributaries were more or
less in a normal condition.

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 for navigation, since the prevailing wind is
south-east, and sailing boats may make a continuous progress to
the Peruvian frontier, dropping down again with the current. 
In our own case the excellent engines of the Esmeralda could
disregard the sluggish flow of the stream, and we made as rapid
progress as if we were navigating a stagnant lake.  For three
days we steamed north-westwards up a stream which even here, a
thousand miles from its mouth, was still so enormous that from
its center the two banks were mere shadows upon the distant skyline. 
On the fourth day after leaving Manaos we turned into a tributary
which at its mouth was little smaller than the main stream. 
It narrowed rapidly, however, and after two more days' steaming
we reached an Indian village, where the Professor insisted that
we should land, and that the Esmeralda should be sent back to Manaos. 
We should soon come upon rapids, he explained, which would make its
further use impossible.  He added privately that we were now
approaching the door of the unknown country, and that the fewer
whom we took into our confidence the better it would be.  To this
end also he made each of us give our word of honor that we would
publish or say nothing which would give any exact clue as to the
whereabouts of our travels, while the servants were all solemnly
sworn to the same effect.  It is for this reason that I am
compelled to be vague in my narrative, and I would warn my readers
that in any map or diagram which I may give the relation of places
to each other may be correct, but the points of the compass are
carefully confused, so that in no way can it be taken as an actual
guide to the country.  Professor Challenger's reasons for secrecy
may be valid or not, but we had no choice but to adopt them,
for he was prepared to abandon the whole expedition rather than
modify the conditions upon which he would guide us.

It was August 2nd when we snapped our last link with the outer
world by bidding farewell to the Esmeralda.  Since then four days
have passed, during which 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 any obstacle. 
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 previous journey. 
They appeared to be terrified at the prospect of repeating it,
but the chief has patriarchal powers in these countries, and
if 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 word
to 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 to delete, alter, or do what you like
with it.  From the assurance of Professor Challenger's manner--and
in spite of the continued scepticism of Professor Summerlee--I
have no doubt that our leader will make good his statement, and
that we are really on the eve of some most remarkable experiences.

                           CHAPTER VIII

             "The Outlying Pickets of the New World"

Our friends at home may well rejoice with us, for we are at our
goal, and up to a point, at least, we have shown that the
statement of Professor Challenger can be verified.  We have not,
it is true, ascended the plateau, but it lies before us, and even
Professor Summerlee is in a more chastened mood.  Not that he
will for an instant admit that his rival could be right, but he
is less persistent in his incessant objections, and has sunk for
the most part into an observant silence.  I must hark back,
however, and continue my narrative from where I dropped it. 
We are sending home one of our local Indians who is injured,
and I am committing this letter to his charge, with considerable
doubts in my mind as to whether it will ever come to hand.

When I wrote last we were about to leave the Indian village where
we had been deposited by the Esmeralda.  I have to begin my
report by bad news, for the first serious personal trouble
(I pass over the incessant bickerings between the Professors)
occurred this evening, and might have had a tragic ending. 
I have spoken of our English-speaking half-breed, Gomez--a fine
worker and a willing fellow, but afflicted, I fancy, with the
vice of curiosity, which is common enough among such men.  On the
last evening he seems to have hid himself near the hut in which
we were discussing our plans, and, being observed by our huge
negro Zambo, who is as faithful as a dog and has the hatred which
all his race bear to the half-breeds, he was dragged out and
carried into our presence.  Gomez whipped out his knife, however,
and but for the huge strength of his captor, which enabled him to
disarm him with one hand, he would certainly have stabbed him. 
The matter has ended in reprimands, the opponents have been
compelled to shake hands, and there is every hope that all will
be well.  As to the feuds of the two learned men, they are
continuous and bitter.  It must be admitted that Challenger is
provocative in the last degree, but Summerlee has an acid tongue,
which makes matters worse.  Last night Challenger said that he
never cared to walk on the Thames Embankment and look up the river,
as it was always sad to see one's own eventual goal.  He is
convinced, of course, that he is destined for Westminster Abbey. 
Summerlee rejoined, however, with a sour smile, by saying
that he understood that Millbank Prison had been pulled down. 
Challenger's conceit is too colossal to allow him to be
really annoyed.  He only smiled in his beard and repeated
"Really!  Really!" in the pitying tone one would use to a child. 
Indeed, they are children both--the one wizened and cantankerous,
the other formidable and overbearing, yet each with a brain which
has put him in the front rank of his scientific age.  Brain, character,
soul--only as one sees more of life does one understand how distinct
is each.

The very next day we did actually make our start upon this
remarkable expedition.  We found that all our possessions fitted
very easily into the two canoes, and we divided our personnel,
six in each, taking the obvious precaution in the interests of
peace of putting one Professor into each canoe.  Personally, I
was with Challenger, who was in a beatific humor, moving about as
one in a silent ecstasy and beaming benevolence from every feature. 
I have had some experience of him in other moods, however, and
shall be the less surprised when the thunderstorms suddenly
come up amidst the sunshine.  If it is impossible to be at your
ease, it is equally impossible to be dull in his company, for one
is always in a state of half-tremulous doubt as to what sudden
turn his formidable temper may take.

For two days we made our way up a good-sized river some hundreds
of yards broad, and dark in color, but transparent, so that one
could usually see the bottom.  The affluents of the Amazon are,
half of them, of this nature, while the other half are whitish
and opaque, the difference depending upon the class of country
through which they have flowed.  The dark indicate vegetable
decay, while the others point to clayey soil.  Twice we came
across rapids, and in each case made a portage of half a mile or
so to avoid them.  The woods on either side were primeval, which
are more easily penetrated than woods of the second growth, and
we had no great difficulty in carrying our canoes through them. 
How shall I ever forget the solemn mystery of it?  The height of
the trees and the thickness of the boles exceeded anything which
I in my town-bred life could have imagined, shooting upwards in
magnificent columns until, at an enormous distance above our
heads, we could dimly discern the spot where they threw out their
side-branches into Gothic upward curves which coalesced to form
one great matted roof of verdure, through which only an
occasional golden ray of sunshine shot downwards to trace a thin
dazzling line of light amidst the majestic obscurity.  As we
walked noiselessly amid the thick, soft carpet of decaying
vegetation the hush fell upon our souls which comes upon us in
the twilight of the Abbey, and even Professor Challenger's
full-chested notes sank into a whisper.  Alone, I should have
been ignorant of the names of these giant growths, but our men of
science pointed out the cedars, the great silk cotton trees, and
the redwood trees, with all that profusion of various plants
which has made this continent the chief supplier to the human
race of those gifts of Nature which depend upon the vegetable
world, while it is the most backward in those products which come
from animal life.  Vivid orchids and wonderful colored lichens
smoldered upon the swarthy tree-trunks and where a wandering
shaft of light fell full upon the golden allamanda, the scarlet
star-clusters of the tacsonia, or the rich deep blue of ipomaea,
the effect was as a dream of fairyland.  In these great wastes of
forest, life, which abhors darkness, struggles ever upwards to
the light.  Every plant, even the smaller ones, curls and writhes
to the green surface, twining itself round its stronger and
taller brethren in the effort.  Climbing plants are monstrous and
luxuriant, but others which have never been known to climb
elsewhere learn the art as an escape from that somber shadow, so
that the common nettle, the jasmine, and even the jacitara palm
tree can be seen circling the stems of the cedars and striving to
reach their crowns.  Of animal life there was no movement amid
the majestic vaulted aisles which stretched from us as we walked,
but a constant movement far above our heads told of that
multitudinous world of snake and monkey, bird and sloth, which
lived in the sunshine, and looked down in wonder at our tiny, dark,
stumbling figures in the obscure depths immeasurably below them. 
At dawn and at sunset the howler monkeys screamed together and
the parrakeets broke into shrill chatter, but during the hot
hours of the day only the full drone of insects, like the beat of
a distant surf, filled the ear, while nothing moved amid the
solemn vistas of stupendous trunks, fading away into the darkness
which held us in.  Once some bandy-legged, lurching creature, an
ant-eater or a bear, scuttled clumsily amid the shadows.  It was the
only sign of earth life which I saw in this great Amazonian forest.

And yet there were indications that even human life itself was
not far from us in those mysterious recesses.  On the third day
out we were aware of a singular deep throbbing in the air,
rhythmic and solemn, coming and going fitfully throughout
the morning.  The two boats were paddling within a few yards
of each other when first we heard it, and our Indians remained
motionless, as if they had been turned to bronze, listening
intently with expressions of terror upon their faces.

"What is it, then?" I asked.

"Drums," said Lord John, carelessly; "war drums.  I have heard
them before."

"Yes, sir, war drums," said Gomez, the half-breed.  "Wild Indians,
bravos, not mansos; they watch us every mile of the way; kill us
if they can."

"How can they watch us?" I asked, gazing into the dark,
motionless void.

The half-breed shrugged his broad shoulders.

"The Indians know.  They have their own way.  They watch us. 
They talk the drum talk to each other.  Kill us if they can."

By the afternoon of that day--my pocket diary shows me that it
was Tuesday, August 18th--at least six or seven drums were
throbbing from various points.  Sometimes they beat quickly,
sometimes slowly, sometimes in obvious question and answer, one
far to the east breaking out in a high staccato rattle, and being
followed after a pause by a deep roll from the north.  There was
something indescribably nerve-shaking and menacing in that
constant mutter, which seemed to shape itself into the very
syllables of the half-breed, endlessly repeated, "We will kill
you if we can.  We will kill you if we can."  No one ever moved in
the silent woods.  All the peace and soothing of quiet Nature lay
in that dark curtain of vegetation, but away from behind there
came ever the one message from our fellow-man.  "We will kill you
if we can," said the men in the east.  "We will kill you if we
can," said the men in the north.

All day the drums rumbled and whispered, while their menace
reflected itself in the faces of our colored companions.  Even the
hardy, swaggering half-breed seemed cowed.  I learned, however,
that day once for all that both Summerlee and Challenger
possessed that highest type of bravery, the bravery of the
scientific mind.  Theirs was the spirit which upheld Darwin among
the gauchos of the Argentine or Wallace among the head-hunters
of Malaya.  It is decreed by a merciful Nature that the human brain
cannot think of two things simultaneously, so that if it be
steeped in curiosity as to science it has no room for merely
personal considerations.  All day amid that incessant and
mysterious menace our two Professors watched every bird upon the
wing, and every shrub upon the bank, with many a sharp wordy
contention, when the snarl of Summerlee came quick upon the deep
growl of Challenger, but with no more sense of danger and no more
reference to drum-beating Indians than if they were seated
together in the smoking-room of the Royal Society's Club in St.
James's Street.  Once only did they condescend to discuss them.

"Miranha or Amajuaca cannibals," said Challenger, jerking his
thumb towards the reverberating wood.

"No doubt, sir," Summerlee answered.  "Like all such tribes, I
shall expect to find them of poly-synthetic speech and of
Mongolian type."

"Polysynthetic certainly," said Challenger, indulgently.  "I am
not aware that any other type of language exists in this continent,
and I have notes of more than a hundred.  The Mongolian theory
I regard with deep suspicion."

"I should have thought that even a limited knowledge of
comparative anatomy would have helped to verify it," said
Summerlee, bitterly.

Challenger thrust out his aggressive chin until he was all beard
and hat-rim.  "No doubt, sir, a limited knowledge would have
that effect.  When one's knowledge is exhaustive, one comes to
other conclusions."  They glared at each other in mutual defiance,
while all round rose the distant whisper, "We will kill you--we
will kill you if we can."

That night we moored our canoes with heavy stones for anchors in
the center of the stream, and made every preparation for a
possible attack.  Nothing came, however, and with the dawn we
pushed upon our way, the drum-beating dying out behind us. 
About three o'clock in the afternoon we came to a very steep rapid,
more than a mile long--the very one in which Professor Challenger
had suffered disaster upon his first journey.  I confess that the
sight of it consoled me, for it was really the first direct
corroboration, slight as it was, of the truth of his story. 
The Indians carried first our canoes and then our stores through
the brushwood, which is very thick at this point, while we four
whites, our rifles on our shoulders, walked between them and any
danger coming from the woods.  Before evening we had successfully
passed the rapids, and made our way some ten miles above them,
where we anchored for the night.  At this point I reckoned that
we had come not less than a hundred miles up the tributary from
the main stream.

It was in the early forenoon of the next day that we made the
great departure.  Since dawn Professor Challenger had been
acutely uneasy, continually scanning each bank of the river. 
Suddenly he gave an exclamation of satisfaction and pointed to a
single tree, which projected at a peculiar angle over the side of
the stream.

"What do you make of that?" he asked.

"It is surely an Assai palm," said Summerlee.

"Exactly.  It was an Assai palm which I took for my landmark. 
The secret opening is half a mile onwards upon the other side of
the river.  There is no break in the trees.  That is the wonder
and the mystery of it.  There where you see light-green rushes
instead of dark-green undergrowth, there between the great cotton
woods, that is my private gate into the unknown.  Push through,
and you will understand."

It was indeed a wonderful place.  Having reached the spot marked
by a line of light-green rushes, we poled out two canoes through
them for some hundreds of yards, and eventually emerged into a
placid and shallow stream, running clear and transparent over a
sandy bottom.  It may have been twenty yards across, and was
banked in on each side by most luxuriant vegetation.  No one who
had not observed that for a short distance reeds had taken the
place of shrubs, could possibly have guessed the existence of
such a stream or dreamed of the fairyland beyond.

For a fairyland it was--the most wonderful that the imagination
of man could conceive.  The thick vegetation met overhead,
interlacing into a natural pergola, and through this tunnel of
verdure in a golden twilight flowed the green, pellucid river,
beautiful in itself, but marvelous from the strange tints thrown
by the vivid light from above filtered and tempered in its fall. 
Clear as crystal, motionless as a sheet of glass, green as the
edge of an iceberg, it stretched in front of us under its leafy
archway, every stroke of our paddles sending a thousand ripples
across its shining surface.  It was a fitting avenue to a land
of wonders.  All sign of the Indians had passed away, but animal
life was more frequent, and the tameness of the creatures showed
that they knew nothing of the hunter.  Fuzzy little black-velvet
monkeys, with snow-white teeth and gleaming, mocking eyes,
chattered at us as we passed.  With a dull, heavy splash an
occasional cayman plunged in from the bank.  Once a dark, clumsy
tapir stared at us from a gap in the bushes, and then lumbered
away through the forest; once, too, the yellow, sinuous form of a
great puma whisked amid the brushwood, and its green, baleful
eyes glared hatred at us over its tawny shoulder.  Bird life was
abundant, especially the wading birds, stork, heron, and ibis
gathering in little groups, blue, scarlet, and white, upon every
log which jutted from the bank, while beneath us the crystal
water was alive with fish of every shape and color.

For three days we made our way up this tunnel of hazy
green sunshine.  On the longer stretches one could hardly
tell as one looked ahead where the distant green water ended
and the distant green archway began.  The deep peace of this
strange waterway was unbroken by any sign of man.

"No Indian here.  Too much afraid.  Curupuri," said Gomez.

"Curupuri is the spirit of the woods," Lord John explained. 
"It's a name for any kind of devil.  The poor beggars think that
there is something fearsome in this direction, and therefore they
avoid it."

On the third day it became evident that our journey in the canoes
could not last much longer, for the stream was rapidly growing
more shallow.  Twice in as many hours we stuck upon the bottom. 
Finally we pulled the boats up among the brushwood and spent the
night on the bank of the river.  In the morning Lord John and I
made our way for a couple of miles through the forest, keeping
parallel with the stream; but as it grew ever shallower we
returned and reported, what Professor Challenger had already
suspected, that we had reached the highest point to which the
canoes could be brought.  We drew them up, therefore, and
concealed them among the bushes, blazing a tree with our axes, so
that we should find them again.  Then we distributed the various
burdens among us--guns, ammunition, food, a tent, blankets, and
the rest--and, shouldering our packages, we set forth upon the
more laborious stage of our journey.

An unfortunate quarrel between our pepper-pots marked the outset
of our new stage.  Challenger had from the moment of joining us
issued directions to the whole party, much to the evident
discontent of Summerlee.  Now, upon his assigning some duty to
his fellow-Professor (it was only the carrying of an aneroid
barometer), the matter suddenly came to a head.

"May I ask, sir," said Summerlee, with vicious calm, "in what
capacity you take it upon yourself to issue these orders?"

Challenger glared and bristled.

"I do it, Professor Summerlee, as leader of this expedition."

"I am compelled to tell you, sir, that I do not recognize you in
that capacity."

"Indeed!" Challenger bowed with unwieldy sarcasm.  "Perhaps you
would define my exact position."

"Yes, sir.  You are a man whose veracity is upon trial, and this
committee is here to try it.  You walk, sir, with your judges."

"Dear me!" said Challenger, seating himself on the side of one of
the canoes.  "In that case you will, of course, go on your way,
and I will follow at my leisure.  If I am not the leader you
cannot expect me to lead."

Thank heaven that there were two sane men--Lord John Roxton
and myself--to prevent the petulance and folly of our learned
Professors from sending us back empty-handed to London. 
Such arguing and pleading and explaining before we could get
them mollified!  Then at last Summerlee, with his sneer and his
pipe, would move forwards, and Challenger would come rolling and
grumbling after.  By some good fortune we discovered about this
time that both our savants had the very poorest opinion of Dr.
Illingworth of Edinburgh.  Thenceforward that was our one safety,
and every strained situation was relieved by our introducing the
name of the Scotch zoologist, when both our Professors would form
a temporary alliance and friendship in their detestation and
abuse of this common rival.

Advancing in single file along the bank of the stream, we soon
found that it narrowed down to a mere brook, and finally that it
lost itself in a great green morass of sponge-like mosses, into
which we sank up to our knees.  The place was horribly haunted
by clouds of mosquitoes and every form of flying pest, so we were
glad to find solid ground again and to make a circuit among the
trees, which enabled us to outflank this pestilent morass, which
droned like an organ in the distance, so loud was it with insect life.

On the second day after leaving our canoes we found that the
whole character of the country changed.  Our road was
persistently upwards, and as we ascended the woods became
thinner and lost their tropical luxuriance.  The huge trees of
the alluvial Amazonian plain gave place to the Phoenix and coco
palms, growing in scattered clumps, with thick brushwood between. 
In the damper hollows the Mauritia palms threw out their graceful
drooping fronds.  We traveled entirely by compass, and once or
twice there were differences of opinion between Challenger and
the two Indians, when, to quote the Professor's indignant words,
the whole party agreed to "trust the fallacious instincts of
undeveloped savages rather than the highest product of modern
European culture."  That we were justified in doing so was shown
upon the third day, when Challenger admitted that he recognized
several landmarks of his former journey, and in one spot we
actually came upon four fire-blackened stones, which must have
marked a camping-place.

The road still ascended, and we crossed a rock-studded slope
which took two days to traverse.  The vegetation had again
changed, and only the vegetable ivory tree remained, with a
great profusion of wonderful orchids, among which I learned to
recognize the rare Nuttonia Vexillaria and the glorious pink and
scarlet blossoms of Cattleya and odontoglossum.  Occasional brooks
with pebbly bottoms and fern-draped banks gurgled down the shallow
gorges in the hill, and offered good camping-grounds every evening
on the banks of some rock-studded pool, where swarms of little
blue-backed fish, about the size and shape of English trout,
gave us a delicious supper.

On the ninth day after leaving the canoes, having done, as I
reckon, about a hundred and twenty miles, we began to emerge from
the trees, which had grown smaller until they were mere shrubs. 
Their place was taken by an immense wilderness of bamboo, which
grew so thickly that we could only penetrate it by cutting a
pathway with the machetes and billhooks of the Indians.  It took
us a long day, traveling from seven in the morning till eight at
night, with only two breaks of one hour each, to get through
this obstacle.  Anything more monotonous and wearying could not be
imagined, for, even at the most open places, I could not see more
than ten or twelve yards, while usually my vision was limited to
the back of Lord John's cotton jacket in front of me, and to the
yellow wall within a foot of me on either side.  From above came
one thin knife-edge of sunshine, and fifteen feet over our heads
one saw the tops of the reeds swaying against the deep blue sky. 
I do not know what kind of creatures inhabit such a thicket, but
several times we heard the plunging of large, heavy animals quite
close to us.  From their sounds Lord John judged them to be some
form of wild cattle.  Just as night fell we cleared the belt of
bamboos, and at once formed our camp, exhausted by the
interminable day.

Early next morning we were again afoot, and found that the
character of the country had changed once again.  Behind us was
the wall of bamboo, as definite as if it marked the course of
a river.  In front was an open plain, sloping slightly upwards
and dotted with clumps of tree-ferns, the whole curving before
us until it ended in a long, whale-backed ridge.  This we reached
about midday, only to find a shallow valley beyond, rising once
again into a gentle incline which led to a low, rounded sky-line. 
It was here, while we crossed the first of these hills, that an
incident occurred which may or may not have been important.

Professor Challenger, who with the two local Indians was in the van
of the party, stopped suddenly and pointed excitedly to the right. 
As he did so we saw, at the distance of a mile or so, something
which appeared to be a huge gray bird flap slowly up from the
ground and skim smoothly off, flying very low and straight, until
it was lost among the tree-ferns.

"Did you see it?" cried Challenger, in exultation.  "Summerlee, did
you see it?"

His colleague was staring at the spot where the creature had disappeared.

"What do you claim that it was?" he asked.

"To the best of my belief, a pterodactyl."

Summerlee burst into derisive laughter "A pter-fiddlestick!" said he. 
"It was a stork, if ever I saw one."

Challenger was too furious to speak.  He simply swung his pack
upon his back and continued upon his march.  Lord John came abreast
of me, however, and his face was more grave than was his wont. 
He had his Zeiss glasses in his hand.

"I focused it before it got over the trees," said he. "I won't
undertake to say what it was, but I'll risk my reputation as a
sportsman that it wasn't any bird that ever I clapped eyes on in
my life."

So there the matter stands.  Are we really just at the edge of
the unknown, encountering the outlying pickets of this lost world
of which our leader speaks?  I give you the incident as it
occurred and you will know as much as I do.  It stands alone, for
we saw nothing more which could be called remarkable.

And now, my readers, if ever I have any, I have brought you up
the broad river, and through the screen of rushes, and down the
green tunnel, and up the long slope of palm trees, and through
the bamboo brake, and across the plain of tree-ferns.  At last
our destination lay in full sight of us.  When we had crossed
the second ridge we saw before us an irregular, palm-studded
plain, and then the line of high red cliffs which I have seen
in the picture.  There it lies, even as I write, and there can
be no question that it is the same.  At the nearest point it is
about seven miles from our present camp, and it curves away,
stretching as far as I can see.  Challenger struts about like
a prize peacock, and Summerlee is silent, but still sceptical. 
Another day should bring some of our doubts to an end. 
Meanwhile, as Jose, whose arm was pierced by a broken bamboo,
insists upon returning, I send this letter back in his charge,
and only hope that it may eventually come to hand.  I will write
again as the occasion serves.  I have enclosed with this a rough
chart of our journey, which may have the effect of making the
account rather easier to understand.

                            CHAPTER IX

                  "Who could have Foreseen it?"

A dreadful thing has happened to us.  Who could have foreseen it? 
I cannot foresee any end to our troubles.  It may be that we are
condemned to spend our whole lives in this strange, inaccessible place. 
I am still so confused that I can hardly think clearly of the facts
of the present or of the chances of the future.  To my astounded
senses the one seems most terrible and the other as black as night.

No men have ever found themselves in a worse position; nor is
there any use in disclosing to you our exact geographical
situation and asking our friends for a relief party.  Even if
they could send one, our fate will in all human probability be
decided long before it could arrive in South America.

We are, in truth, as far from any human aid as if we were in
the moon.  If we are to win through, it is only our own qualities
which can save us.  I have as companions three remarkable men, men
of great brain-power and of unshaken courage.  There lies our one
and only hope.  It is only when I look upon the untroubled faces
of my comrades that I see some glimmer through the darkness. 
Outwardly I trust that I appear as unconcerned as they.  Inwardly I
am filled with apprehension.

Let me give you, with as much detail as I can, the sequence of
events which have led us to this catastrophe.

When I finished my last letter I stated that we were within seven
miles from an enormous line of ruddy cliffs, which encircled,
beyond all doubt, the plateau of which Professor Challenger spoke. 
Their height, as we approached them, seemed to me in some places
to be greater than he had stated--running up in parts to at least
a thousand feet--and they were curiously striated, in a manner
which is, I believe, characteristic of basaltic upheavals. 
Something of the sort is to be seen in Salisbury Crags at Edinburgh. 
The summit showed every sign of a luxuriant vegetation, with bushes
near the edge, and farther back many high trees.  There was no
indication of any life that we could see.

That night we pitched our camp immediately under the cliff--a
most wild and desolate spot.  The crags above us were not merely
perpendicular, but curved outwards at the top, so that ascent was
out of the question.  Close to us was the high thin pinnacle of
rock which I believe I mentioned earlier in this narrative.  It is
like a broad red church spire, the top of it being level with the
plateau, but a great chasm gaping between.  On the summit of it
there grew one high tree.  Both pinnacle and cliff were
comparatively low--some five or six hundred feet, I should think.

"It was on that," said Professor Challenger, pointing to this
tree, "that the pterodactyl was perched.  I climbed half-way up
the rock before I shot him.  I am inclined to think that a good
mountaineer like myself could ascend the rock to the top, though
he would, of course, be no nearer to the plateau when he had done so."

As Challenger spoke of his pterodactyl I glanced at Professor
Summerlee, and for the first time I seemed to see some signs of a
dawning credulity and repentance.  There was no sneer upon his
thin lips, but, on the contrary, a gray, drawn look of excitement
and amazement.  Challenger saw it, too, and reveled in the first
taste of victory.

"Of course," said he,  with his clumsy and ponderous sarcasm,
"Professor Summerlee will understand that when I speak of a
pterodactyl I mean a stork--only it is the kind of stork which
has no feathers, a leathery skin, membranous wings, and teeth in
its jaws."  He grinned and blinked and bowed until his colleague
turned and walked away.

In the morning, after a frugal breakfast of coffee and manioc--we
had to be economical of our stores--we held a council of war as
to the best method of ascending to the plateau above us.

Challenger presided with a solemnity as if he were the Lord Chief
Justice on the Bench.  Picture him seated upon a rock, his absurd
boyish straw hat tilted on the back of his head, his supercilious
eyes dominating us from under his drooping lids, his great black
beard wagging as he slowly defined our present situation and our
future movements.

Beneath him you might have seen the three of us--myself,
sunburnt, young, and vigorous after our open-air tramp;
Summerlee, solemn but still critical, behind his eternal pipe;
Lord John, as keen as a razor-edge, with his supple, alert figure
leaning upon his rifle, and his eager eyes fixed eagerly upon
the speaker.  Behind us were grouped the two swarthy half-breeds
and the little knot of Indians, while in front and above us towered
those huge, ruddy ribs of rocks which kept us from our goal.

"I need not say," said our leader, "that on the occasion of my
last visit I exhausted every means of climbing the cliff, and
where I failed I do not think that anyone else is likely to
succeed, for I am something of a mountaineer.  I had none of the
appliances of a rock-climber with me, but I have taken the
precaution to bring them now.  With their aid I am positive I
could climb that detached pinnacle to the summit; but so long as
the main cliff overhangs, it is vain to attempt ascending that. 
I was hurried upon my last visit by the approach of the rainy
season and by the exhaustion of my supplies.  These considerations
limited my time, and I can only claim that I have surveyed about
six miles of the cliff to the east of us, finding no possible
way up.  What, then, shall we now do?"

"There seems to be only one reasonable course," said Professor Summerlee. 
"If you have explored the east, we should travel along the base of the
cliff to the west, and seek for a practicable point for our ascent."

"That's it," said Lord John.  "The odds are that this plateau is of
no great size, and we shall travel round it until we either find an
easy way up it, or come back to the point from which we started."

"I have already explained to our young friend here," said
Challenger (he has a way of alluding to me as if I were a school
child ten years old), "that it is quite impossible that there
should be an easy way up anywhere, for the simple reason that if
there were the summit would not be isolated, and those conditions
would not obtain which have effected so singular an interference
with the general laws of survival.  Yet I admit that there may
very well be places where an expert human climber may reach the
summit, and yet a cumbrous and heavy animal be unable to descend. 
It is certain that there is a point where an ascent is possible."

"How do you know that, sir?" asked Summerlee, sharply.

"Because my predecessor, the American Maple White, actually made
such an ascent.  How otherwise could he have seen the monster
which he sketched in his notebook?"

"There you reason somewhat ahead of the proved facts," said the
stubborn Summerlee.  "I admit your plateau, because I have seen
it; but I have not as yet satisfied myself that it contains any
form of life whatever."

"What you admit, sir, or what you do not admit, is really of
inconceivably small importance.  I am glad to perceive that the
plateau itself has actually obtruded itself upon your intelligence." 
He glanced up at it, and then, to our amazement, he sprang from his
rock, and, seizing Summerlee by the neck, he tilted his face into
the air.  "Now sir!" he shouted, hoarse with excitement.  "Do I
help you to realize that the plateau contains some animal life?"

I have said that a thick fringe of green overhung the edge of the cliff. 
Out of this there had emerged a black, glistening object.  As it came
slowly forth and overhung the chasm, we saw that it was a very large
snake with a peculiar flat, spade-like head.  It wavered and quivered
above us for a minute, the morning sun gleaming upon its sleek,
sinuous coils.  Then it slowly drew inwards and disappeared.

Summerlee had been so interested that he had stood unresisting
while Challenger tilted his head into the air.  Now he shook his
colleague off and came back to his dignity.

"I should be glad, Professor Challenger," said he, "if you could
see your way to make any remarks which may occur to you without
seizing me by the chin.  Even the appearance of a very ordinary
rock python does not appear to justify such a liberty."

"But there is life upon the plateau all the same," his colleague
replied in triumph.  "And now, having demonstrated this important
conclusion so that it is clear to anyone, however prejudiced or
obtuse, I am of opinion that we cannot do better than break up
our camp and travel to westward until we find some means of ascent."

The ground at the foot of the cliff was rocky and broken so that
the going was slow and difficult.  Suddenly we came, however,
upon something which cheered our hearts.  It was the site of an
old encampment, with several empty Chicago meat tins, a bottle
labeled "Brandy," a broken tin-opener, and a quantity of other
travelers' debris.  A crumpled, disintegrated newspaper revealed  
itself as the Chicago Democrat, though the date had been obliterated.

"Not mine," said Challenger.  "It must be Maple White's."

Lord John had been gazing curiously at a great tree-fern which
overshadowed the encampment.  "I say, look at this," said he. 
"I believe it is meant for a sign-post."

A slip of hard wood had been nailed to the tree in such a way as
to point to the westward.

"Most certainly a sign-post," said Challenger.  "What else? 
Finding himself upon a dangerous errand, our pioneer has left
this sign so that any party which follows him may know the way he
has taken.  Perhaps we shall come upon some other indications as
we proceed."

We did indeed, but they were of a terrible and most unexpected nature. 
Immediately beneath the cliff there grew a considerable patch of high
bamboo, like that which we had traversed in our journey.  Many of
these stems were twenty feet high, with sharp, strong tops, so that
even as they stood they made formidable spears.  We were passing
along the edge of this cover when my eye was caught by the gleam of
something white within it.  Thrusting in my head between the stems,
I found myself gazing at a fleshless skull.  The whole skeleton was
there, but the skull had detached itself and lay some feet nearer to
the open.

With a few blows from the machetes of our Indians we cleared the
spot and were able to study the details of this old tragedy. 
Only a few shreds of clothes could still be distinguished, but
there were the remains of boots upon the bony feet, and it was
very clear that the dead man was a European.  A gold watch by
Hudson, of New York, and a chain which held a stylographic pen,
lay among the bones.  There was also a silver cigarette-case,
with "J. C., from A. E. S.," upon the lid.  The state of the
metal seemed to show that the catastrophe had occurred no great
time before.

"Who can he be?" asked Lord John.  "Poor devil! every bone in his
body seems to be broken."

"And the bamboo grows through his smashed ribs," said Summerlee. 
"It is a fast-growing plant, but it is surely inconceivable that
this body could have been here while the canes grew to be twenty
feet in length."

"As to the man's identity," said Professor Challenger, "I have no
doubt whatever upon that point.  As I made my way up the river
before I reached you at the fazenda I instituted very particular
inquiries about Maple White.  At Para they knew nothing. 
Fortunately, I had a definite clew, for there was a particular
picture in his sketch-book which showed him taking lunch with a
certain ecclesiastic at Rosario.  This priest I was able to find,
and though he proved a very argumentative fellow, who took it
absurdly amiss that I should point out to him the corrosive
effect which modern science must have upon his beliefs, he none
the less gave me some positive information.  Maple White passed
Rosario four years ago, or two years before I saw his dead body. 
He was not alone at the time, but there was a friend, an American
named James Colver, who remained in the boat and did not meet
this ecclesiastic.  I think, therefore, that there can be no doubt
that we are now looking upon the remains of this James Colver."

"Nor," said Lord John, "is there much doubt as to how he met
his death.  He has fallen or been chucked from the top, and so
been impaled.  How else could he come by his broken bones, and
how could he have been stuck through by these canes with their
points so high above our heads?"

A hush came over us as we stood round these shattered remains and
realized the truth of Lord John Roxton's words.  The beetling
head of the cliff projected over the cane-brake.  Undoubtedly he
had fallen from above.  But had he fallen?  Had it been an accident? 
Or--already ominous and terrible possibilities began to form round
that unknown land.

We moved off in silence, and continued to coast round the line
of cliffs, which were as even and unbroken as some of those
monstrous Antarctic ice-fields which I have seen depicted as
stretching from horizon to horizon and towering high above the
mast-heads of the exploring vessel.

In five miles we saw no rift or break.  And then suddenly we
perceived something which filled us with new hope.  In a hollow
of the rock, protected from rain, there was drawn a rough arrow
in chalk, pointing still to the westwards.

"Maple White again," said Professor Challenger.  "He had some
presentiment that worthy footsteps would follow close behind him."

"He had chalk, then?"

"A box of colored chalks was among the effects I found in
his knapsack.  I remember that the white one was worn to a stump."

"That is certainly good evidence," said Summerlee.  "We can only
accept his guidance and follow on to the westward."

We had proceeded some five more miles when again we saw a white
arrow upon the rocks.  It was at a point where the face of the
cliff was for the first time split into a narrow cleft.  Inside the
cleft was a second guidance mark, which pointed right up it with
the tip somewhat elevated, as if the spot indicated were above
the level of the ground.

It was a solemn place, for the walls were so gigantic and the
slit of blue sky so narrow and so obscured by a double fringe
of verdure, that only a dim and shadowy light penetrated to
the bottom.  We had had no food for many hours, and were very
weary with the stony and irregular journey, but our nerves were
too strung to allow us to halt.  We ordered the camp to be pitched,
however, and, leaving the Indians to arrange it, we four, with
the two half-breeds, proceeded up the narrow gorge.

It was not more than forty feet across at the mouth, but it
rapidly closed until it ended in an acute angle, too straight
and smooth for an ascent.  Certainly it was not this which our
pioneer had attempted to indicate.  We made our way back--the
whole gorge was not more than a quarter of a mile deep--and
then suddenly the quick eyes of Lord John fell upon what we
were seeking.  High up above our heads, amid the dark shadows,
there was one circle of deeper gloom.  Surely it could only be
the opening of a cave.

The base of the cliff was heaped with loose stones at the spot,
and it was not difficult to clamber up.  When we reached it, all
doubt was removed.  Not only was it an opening into the rock, but
on the side of it there was marked once again the sign of the arrow. 
Here was the point, and this the means by which Maple White and his
ill-fated comrade had made their ascent.

We were too excited to return to the camp, but must make our
first exploration at once.  Lord John had an electric torch in
his knapsack, and this had to serve us as light.  He advanced,
throwing his little clear circlet of yellow radiance before him,
while in single file we followed at his heels.

The cave had evidently been water-worn, the sides being smooth
and the floor covered with rounded stones.  It was of such a size
that a single man could just fit through by stooping.  For fifty
yards it ran almost straight into the rock, and then it ascended
at an angle of forty-five.  Presently this incline became even
steeper, and we found ourselves climbing upon hands and knees
among loose rubble which slid from beneath us.  Suddenly an
exclamation broke from Lord Roxton.

"It's blocked!" said he.

Clustering behind him we saw in the yellow field of light a wall
of broken basalt which extended to the ceiling.

"The roof has fallen in!"

In vain we dragged out some of the pieces.  The only effect was
that the larger ones became detached and threatened to roll down
the gradient and crush us.  It was evident that the obstacle was
far beyond any efforts which we could make to remove it.  The road
by which Maple White had ascended was no longer available.

Too much cast down to speak, we stumbled down the dark tunnel and
made our way back to the camp.

One incident occurred, however, before we left the gorge, which
is of importance in view of what came afterwards.

We had gathered in a little group at the bottom of the chasm,
some forty feet beneath the mouth of the cave, when a huge rock
rolled suddenly downwards--and shot past us with tremendous force. 
It was the narrowest escape for one or all of us.  We could not
ourselves see whence the rock had come, but our half-breed
servants, who were still at the opening of the cave, said that
it had flown past them, and must therefore have fallen from
the summit.  Looking upwards, we could see no sign of movement
above us amidst the green jungle which topped the cliff. 
There could be little doubt, however, that the stone was aimed
at us, so the incident surely pointed to humanity--and malevolent
humanity--upon the plateau.

We withdrew hurriedly from the chasm, our minds full of this new
development and its bearing upon our plans.  The situation was
difficult enough before, but if the obstructions of Nature were
increased by the deliberate opposition of man, then our case was
indeed a hopeless one.  And yet, as we looked up at that
beautiful fringe of verdure only a few hundreds of feet above
our heads, there was not one of us who could conceive the idea
of returning to London until we had explored it to its depths.

On discussing the situation, we determined that our best course
was to continue to coast round the plateau in the hope of finding
some other means of reaching the top.  The line of cliffs, which
had decreased considerably in height, had already begun to trend
from west to north, and if we could take this as representing the
arc of a circle, the whole circumference could not be very great. 
At the worst, then, we should be back in a few days at our
starting-point.

We made a march that day which totaled some two-and-twenty miles,
without any change in our prospects.  I may mention that our
aneroid shows us that in the continual incline which we have
ascended since we abandoned our canoes we have risen to no less
than three thousand feet above sea-level.  Hence there is a
considerable change both in the temperature and in the vegetation. 
We have shaken off some of that horrible insect life which is
the bane of tropical travel.  A few palms still survive, and many
tree-ferns, but the Amazonian trees have been all left behind. 
It was pleasant to see the convolvulus, the passion-flower, and
the begonia, all reminding me of home, here among these
inhospitable rocks.  There was a red begonia just the same color
as one that is kept in a pot in the window of a certain villa
in Streatham--but I am drifting into private reminiscence.

That night--I am still speaking of the first day of our
circumnavigation of the plateau--a great experience awaited us,
and one which for ever set at rest any doubt which we could have
had as to the wonders so near us.

You will realize as you read it, my dear Mr. McArdle, and
possibly for the first time that the paper has not sent me on a
wild-goose chase, and that there is inconceivably fine copy
waiting for the world whenever we have the Professor's leave to
make use of it.  I shall not dare to publish these articles
unless I can bring back my proofs to England, or I shall be
hailed as the journalistic Munchausen of all time.  I have no
doubt that you feel the same way yourself, and that you would not
care to stake the whole credit of the Gazette upon this adventure
until we can meet the chorus of criticism and scepticism which
such articles must of necessity elicit.  So this wonderful
incident, which would make such a headline for the old paper,
must still wait its turn in the editorial drawer.

And yet it was all over in a flash, and there was no sequel to it,
save in our own convictions.

What occurred was this.  Lord John had shot an ajouti--which is a
small, pig-like animal--and, half of it having been given to the
Indians, we were cooking the other half upon our fire.  There is
a chill in the  air after dark, and we had all drawn close to
the blaze.  The night was moonless, but there were some stars,
and one could see for a little distance across the plain. 
Well, suddenly out of the darkness, out of the night, there swooped
something with a swish like an aeroplane.  The whole group of us
were covered for an instant by a canopy of leathery wings, and I
had a momentary vision of a long, snake-like neck, a fierce, red,
greedy eye, and a great snapping beak, filled, to my amazement,
with little, gleaming teeth.  The next instant it was gone--and
so was our dinner.  A huge black shadow, twenty feet across,
skimmed up into the air; for an instant the monster wings blotted
out the stars, and then it vanished over the brow of the cliff
above us.  We all sat in amazed silence round the fire, like the
heroes of Virgil when the Harpies came down upon them.  It was
Summerlee who was the first to speak.

"Professor Challenger," said he, in a solemn voice, which
quavered with emotion, "I owe you an apology.  Sir, I am very
much in the wrong, and I beg that you will forget what is past."

It was handsomely said, and the two men for the first time shook hands. 
So much we have gained by this clear vision of our first pterodactyl. 
It was worth a stolen supper to bring two such men together.

But if prehistoric life existed upon the plateau it was not
superabundant, for we had no further glimpse of it during the
next three days.  During this time we traversed a barren and
forbidding country, which alternated between stony desert and
desolate marshes full of many wild-fowl, upon the north and
east of the cliffs.  From that direction the place is really
inaccessible, and, were it not for a hardish ledge which runs at
the very base of the precipice, we should have had to turn back. 
Many times we were up to our waists in the slime and blubber of
an old, semi-tropical swamp.  To make matters worse, the place
seemed to be a favorite breeding-place of the Jaracaca snake, the
most venomous and aggressive in South America.  Again and again
these horrible creatures came writhing and springing towards us
across the surface of this putrid bog, and it was only by keeping
our shot-guns for ever ready that we could feel safe from them. 
One funnel-shaped depression in the morass, of a livid green in
color from some lichen which festered in it, will always remain
as a nightmare memory in my mind.  It seems to have been a
special nest of these vermins, and the slopes were alive with
them, all writhing in our direction, for it is a peculiarity
of the Jaracaca that he will always attack man at first sight. 
There were too many for us to shoot, so we fairly took to our
heels and ran until we were exhausted.  I shall always remember
as we looked back how far behind we could see the heads and necks
of our horrible pursuers rising and falling amid the reeds. 
Jaracaca Swamp we named it in the map which we are constructing.

The cliffs upon the farther side had lost their ruddy tint, being
chocolate-brown in color; the vegetation was more scattered along
the top of them, and they had sunk to three or four hundred feet
in height, but in no place did we find any point where they could
be ascended.  If anything, they were more impossible than at the
first point where we had met them.  Their absolute steepness is
indicated in the photograph which I took over the stony desert.

"Surely," said I, as we discussed the situation, "the rain must
find its way down somehow.  There are bound to be water-channels
in the rocks."

"Our young friend has glimpses of lucidity," said Professor
Challenger, patting me upon the shoulder.

"The rain must go somewhere," I repeated.

"He keeps a firm grip upon actuality.  The only drawback is that
we have conclusively proved by ocular demonstration that there
are no water channels down the rocks."

"Where, then, does it go?" I persisted.

"I think it may be fairly assumed that if it does not come
outwards it must run inwards."

"Then there is a lake in the center."

"So I should suppose."

"It is more than likely that the lake may be an old crater,"
said Summerlee.  "The whole formation is, of course, highly volcanic. 
But, however that may be, I should expect to find the surface of the
plateau slope inwards with a considerable sheet of water in the center,
which may drain off, by some subterranean channel, into the marshes
of the Jaracaca Swamp."

"Or evaporation might preserve an equilibrium," remarked
Challenger, and the two learned men wandered off into one of
their usual scientific arguments, which were as comprehensible as
Chinese to the layman.

On the sixth day we completed our first circuit of the cliffs,
and found ourselves back at the first camp, beside the isolated
pinnacle of rock.  We were a disconsolate party, for nothing
could have been more minute than our investigation, and it was
absolutely certain that there was no single point where the most
active human being could possibly hope to scale the cliff. 
The place which Maple White's chalk-marks had indicated as his
own means of access was now entirely impassable.

What were we to do now?  Our stores of provisions, supplemented by
our guns, were holding out well, but the day must come when they
would need replenishment.  In a couple of months the rains might
be expected, and we should be washed out of our camp.  The rock
was harder than marble, and any attempt at cutting a path for so
great a height was more than our time or resources would admit. 
No wonder that we looked gloomily at each other that night, and
sought our blankets with hardly a word exchanged.  I remember
that as I dropped off to sleep my last recollection was that
Challenger was squatting, like a monstrous bull-frog, by the fire,
his huge head in his hands, sunk apparently in the deepest thought,
and entirely oblivious to the good-night which I wished him.

But it was a very different Challenger who greeted us in the
morning--a Challenger with contentment and self-congratulation
shining from his whole person.  He faced us as we assembled for
breakfast with a deprecating false modesty in his eyes, as who
should say, "I know that I deserve all that you can say, but I
pray you to spare my blushes by not saying it."  His beard
bristled exultantly, his chest was thrown out, and his hand was
thrust into the front of his jacket.  So, in his fancy, may he
see himself sometimes, gracing the vacant pedestal in Trafalgar
Square, and adding one more to the horrors of the London streets.

"Eureka!" he cried, his teeth shining through his beard. 
"Gentlemen, you may congratulate me and we may congratulate
each other.  The problem is solved."

"You have found a way up?"

"I venture to think so."

"And where?"

For answer he pointed to the spire-like pinnacle upon our right.

Our faces--or mine, at least--fell as we surveyed it.  That it
could be climbed we had our companion's assurance.  But a horrible
abyss lay between it and the plateau.

"We can never get across," I gasped.

"We can at least all reach the summit," said he.  "When we are up
I may be able to show you that the resources of an inventive mind
are not yet exhausted."

After breakfast we unpacked the bundle in which our leader had
brought his climbing accessories.  From it he took a coil of the
strongest and lightest rope, a hundred and fifty feet in length,
with climbing irons, clamps, and other devices.  Lord John was
an experienced mountaineer, and Summerlee had done some rough
climbing at various times, so that I was really the novice at
rock-work of the party; but my strength and activity may have
made up for my want of experience.

It was not in reality a very stiff task, though there were
moments which made my hair bristle upon my head.  The first half
was perfectly easy, but from there upwards it became continually
steeper until, for the last fifty feet, we were literally
clinging with our fingers and toes to tiny ledges and crevices in
the rock.  I could not have accomplished it, nor could Summerlee,
if Challenger had not gained the summit (it was extraordinary to
see such activity in so unwieldy a creature) and there fixed the
rope round the trunk of the considerable tree which grew there. 
With this as our support, we were soon able to scramble up the
jagged wall until we found ourselves upon the small grassy
platform, some twenty-five feet each way, which formed the summit.

The first impression which I received when I had recovered my
breath was of the extraordinary view over the country which we
had traversed.  The whole Brazilian plain seemed to lie beneath
us, extending away and away until it ended in dim blue mists upon
the farthest sky-line.  In the foreground was the long slope,
strewn with rocks and dotted with tree-ferns; farther off in the
middle distance, looking over the saddle-back hill, I could just
see the yellow and green mass of bamboos through which we had
passed; and then, gradually, the vegetation increased until it
formed the huge forest which extended as far as the eyes could
reach, and for a good two thousand miles beyond.

I was still drinking in this wonderful panorama when the heavy
hand of the Professor fell upon my shoulder.

"This way, my young friend," said he; "vestigia nulla retrorsum.  
Never look rearwards, but always to our glorious goal."

The level of the plateau, when I turned, was exactly that on
which we stood, and the green bank of bushes, with occasional
trees, was so near that it was difficult to realize how
inaccessible it remained.  At a rough guess the gulf was forty
feet across, but, so far as I could see, it might as well have
been forty miles.  I placed one arm round the trunk of the tree
and leaned over the abyss.  Far down were the small dark figures
of our servants, looking up at us.  The wall was absolutely
precipitous, as was that which faced me.

"This is indeed curious," said the creaking voice of Professor Summerlee.

I turned, and found that he was examining with great interest the
tree to which I clung.  That smooth bark and those small, ribbed
leaves seemed familiar to my eyes.  "Why," I cried, "it's a beech!"

"Exactly," said Summerlee.  "A fellow-countryman in a far land."

"Not only a fellow-countryman, my good sir," said Challenger,
"but also, if I may be allowed to enlarge your simile, an ally of
the first value.  This beech tree will be our saviour."

"By George!" cried Lord John, "a bridge!"

"Exactly, my friends, a bridge!  It is not for nothing that
I expended an hour last night in focusing my mind upon
the situation.  I have some recollection of once remarking
to our young friend here that G. E. C. is at his best when
his back is to the wall.  Last night you will admit that all
our backs were to the wall.  But where will-power and intellect
go together, there is always a way out.  A drawbridge had to be
found which could be dropped across the abyss.  Behold it!"

It was certainly a brilliant idea.  The tree was a good sixty
feet in height, and if it only fell the right way it would easily
cross the chasm.  Challenger had slung the camp axe over his
shoulder when he ascended.  Now he handed it to me.

"Our young friend has the thews and sinews," said he.  "I think
he will be the most useful at this task.  I must beg, however,
that you will kindly refrain from thinking for yourself, and that
you will do exactly what you are told."

Under his direction I cut such gashes in the sides of the trees
as would ensure that it should fall as we desired.  It had
already a strong, natural tilt in the direction of the plateau,
so that the matter was not difficult.  Finally I set to work in
earnest upon the trunk, taking turn and turn with Lord John. 
In a little over an hour there was a loud crack, the tree swayed
forward, and then crashed over, burying its branches among the
bushes on the farther side.  The severed trunk rolled to the very
edge of our platform, and for one terrible second we all thought
it was over.  It balanced itself, however, a few inches from the
edge, and there was our bridge to the unknown.

All of us, without a word, shook hands with Professor Challenger,
who raised his straw hat and bowed deeply to each in turn.

"I claim the honor," said he, "to be the first to cross to the
unknown land--a fitting subject, no doubt, for some future
historical painting."

He had approached the bridge when Lord John laid his hand upon
his coat.

"My dear chap," said he, "I really cannot allow it."

"Cannot allow it, sir!"  The head went back and the beard forward.

"When it is a matter of science, don't you know, I follow your
lead because you are by way of bein' a man of science.  But it's
up to you to follow me when you come into my department."

"Your department, sir?"

"We all have our professions, and soldierin' is mine.  We are,
accordin' to my ideas, invadin' a new country, which may or may
not be chock-full of enemies of sorts.  To barge blindly into it
for want of a little common sense and patience isn't my notion
of management."

The remonstrance was too reasonable to be disregarded. 
Challenger tossed his head and shrugged his heavy shoulders.

"Well, sir, what do you propose?"

"For all I know there may be a tribe of cannibals waitin' for
lunch-time among those very bushes," said Lord John, looking
across the bridge.  "It's better to learn wisdom before you get
into a cookin'-pot; so we will content ourselves with hopin' that
there is no trouble waitin' for us, and at the same time we will
act as if there were.  Malone and I will go down again, therefore,
and we will fetch up the four rifles, together with Gomez and
the other.  One man can then go across and the rest will cover
him with guns, until he sees that it is safe for the whole crowd
to come along."

Challenger sat down upon the cut stump and groaned his
impatience; but Summerlee and I were of one mind that Lord John
was our leader when such practical details were in question. 
The climb was a more simple thing now that the rope dangled down
the face of the worst part of the ascent.  Within an hour we had
brought up the rifles and a shot-gun.  The half-breeds had ascended
also, and under Lord John's orders they had carried up a bale of
provisions in case our first exploration should be a long one. 
We had each bandoliers of cartridges.

"Now, Challenger, if you really insist upon being the first man
in," said Lord John, when every preparation was complete.

"I am much indebted to you for your gracious permission," said
the angry Professor; for never was a man so intolerant of every
form of authority.  "Since you are good enough to allow it, I
shall most certainly take it upon myself to act as pioneer upon
this occasion."

Seating himself with a leg overhanging the abyss on each side,
and his hatchet slung upon his back, Challenger hopped his way
across the trunk and was soon at the other side.  He clambered
up and waved his arms in the air.

"At last!" he cried; "at last!"

I gazed anxiously at him, with a vague expectation that some
terrible fate would dart at him from the curtain of green
behind him.  But all was quiet, save that a strange, many-
colored bird flew up from under his feet and vanished among
the trees.

Summerlee was the second.  His wiry energy is wonderful in so frail
a frame.  He insisted upon having two rifles slung upon his back,
so that both Professors were armed when he had made his transit. 
I came next, and tried hard not to look down into the horrible
gulf over which I was passing.  Summerlee held out the butt-end
of his rifle, and an instant later I was able to grasp his hand. 
As to Lord John, he walked across--actually walked without support! 
He must have nerves of iron.

And there we were, the four of us, upon the dreamland, the lost
world, of Maple White.  To all of us it seemed the moment of our
supreme triumph.  Who could have guessed that it was the prelude
to our supreme disaster?  Let me say in a few words how the
crushing blow fell upon us.

We had turned away from the edge, and had penetrated about fifty
yards of close brushwood, when there came a frightful rending
crash from behind us.  With one impulse we rushed back the way
that we had come.  The bridge was gone!

Far down at the base of the cliff I saw, as I looked over, a
tangled mass of branches and splintered trunk.  It was our
beech tree.  Had the edge of the platform crumbled and let
it through?  For a moment this explanation was in all our minds. 
The next, from the farther side of the rocky pinnacle before us
a swarthy face, the face of Gomez the half-breed, was
slowly protruded.  Yes, it was Gomez, but no longer the Gomez
of the demure smile and the mask-like expression.  Here was a
face with flashing eyes and distorted features, a face convulsed
with hatred and with the mad joy of gratified revenge.

"Lord Roxton!" he shouted.  "Lord John Roxton!"

"Well," said our companion, "here I am."

A shriek of laughter came across the abyss.

"Yes, there you are, you English dog, and there you will remain! 
I have waited and waited, and now has come my chance.  You found
it hard to get up; you will find it harder to get down.  You cursed
fools, you are trapped, every one of you!"

We were too astounded to speak.  We could only stand there staring
in amazement.  A great broken bough upon the grass showed whence
he had gained his leverage to tilt over our bridge.  The face had
vanished, but presently it was up again, more frantic than before.

"We nearly killed you with a stone at the cave," he cried; "but
this is better.  It is slower and more terrible.  Your bones will
whiten up there, and none will know where you lie or come to
cover them.  As you lie dying, think of Lopez, whom you shot five
years ago on the Putomayo River.  I am his brother, and, come
what will I will die happy now, for his memory has been avenged."
A furious hand was shaken at us, and then all was quiet.

Had the half-breed simply wrought his vengeance and then escaped,
all might have been well with him.  It was that foolish,
irresistible Latin impulse to be dramatic which brought his
own downfall.  Roxton, the man who had earned himself the name of
the Flail of the Lord through three countries, was not one who
could be safely taunted.  The half-breed was descending on the
farther side of the pinnacle; but before he could reach the ground
Lord John had run along the edge of the plateau and gained a point
from which he could see his man.  There was a single crack of his
rifle, and, though we saw nothing, we heard the scream and then
the distant thud of the falling body.  Roxton came back to us with
a face of granite.

"I have been a blind simpleton," said he, bitterly,  "It's my
folly that has brought you all into this trouble.  I should have
remembered that these people have long memories for blood-feuds,
and have been more upon my guard."

"What about the other one?  It took two of them to lever that tree
over the edge."

"I could have shot him, but I let him go.  He may have had no
part in it.  Perhaps it would have been better if I had killed
him, for he must, as you say, have lent a hand."

Now that we had the clue to his action, each of us could cast
back and remember some sinister act upon the part of the
half-breed--his constant desire to know our plans, his arrest
outside our tent when he was over-hearing them, the furtive
looks of hatred which from time to time one or other of us
had surprised.  We were still discussing it, endeavoring to adjust
our minds to these new conditions, when a singular scene in the
plain below arrested our attention.

A man in white clothes, who could only be the surviving half-
breed, was running as one does run when Death is the pacemaker. 
Behind him, only a few yards in his rear, bounded the huge
ebony figure of Zambo, our devoted negro.  Even as we looked,
he sprang upon the back of the fugitive and flung his arms
round his neck.  They rolled on the ground together.  An instant
afterwards Zambo rose, looked at the prostrate man, and then,
waving his hand joyously to us, came running in our direction. 
The white figure lay motionless in the middle of the great plain.

Our two traitors had been destroyed, but the mischief that they
had done lived after them.  By no possible means could we get back
to the pinnacle.  We had been natives of the world; now we were
natives of the plateau.  The two things were separate and apart. 
There was the plain which led to the canoes.  Yonder, beyond the
violet, hazy horizon, was the stream which led back to civilization. 
But the link between was missing.  No human ingenuity could suggest
a means of bridging the chasm which yawned between ourselves and
our past lives.  One instant had altered the whole conditions of
our existence.

It was at such a moment that I learned the stuff of which my
three comrades were composed.  They were grave, it is true, and
thoughtful, but of an invincible serenity.  For the moment we
could only sit among the bushes in patience and wait the coming
of Zambo.  Presently his honest black face topped the rocks and
his Herculean figure emerged upon the top of the pinnacle.

"What I do now?" he cried.  "You tell me and I do it."

It was a question which it was easier to ask than to answer. 
One thing only was clear.  He was our one trusty link with the
outside world.  On no account must he leave us.

"No no!" he cried.  "I not leave you.  Whatever come, you always
find me here.  But no able to keep Indians.  Already they say too
much Curupuri live on this place, and they go home.  Now you
leave them me no able to keep them."

It was a fact that our Indians had shown in many ways of late
that they were weary of their journey and anxious to return. 
We realized that Zambo spoke the truth, and that it would be
impossible for him to keep them.

"Make them wait till to-morrow, Zambo," I shouted; "then I can
send letter back by them."

"Very good, sarr! I promise they wait till to-morrow, said the negro. 
"But what I do for you now?"

There was plenty for him to do, and admirably the faithful fellow
did it.  First of all, under our directions, he undid the rope
from the tree-stump and threw one end of it across to us.  It was
not thicker than a clothes-line, but it was of great strength,
and though we could not make a bridge of it, we might well find
it invaluable if we had any climbing to do.  He then fastened his
end of the rope to the package of supplies which had been carried
up, and we were able to drag it across.  This gave us the means
of life for at least a week, even if we found nothing else. 
Finally he descended and carried up two other packets of mixed
goods--a box of ammunition and a number of other things, all of
which we got across by throwing our rope to him and hauling it back. 
It was evening when he at last climbed down, with a final assurance
that he would keep the Indians till next morning.

And so it is that I have spent nearly the whole of this our first
night upon the plateau writing up our experiences by the light of
a single candle-lantern.

We supped and camped at the very edge of the cliff, quenching
our thirst with two bottles of Apollinaris which were in one of
the cases.  It is vital to us to find water, but I think even Lord
John himself had had adventures enough for one day, and none of us
felt inclined to make the first push into the unknown.  We forbore
to light a fire or to make any unnecessary sound.

To-morrow (or to-day, rather, for it is already dawn as I write)
we shall make our first venture into this strange land.  When I
shall be able to write again--or if I ever shall write again--I
know not.  Meanwhile, I can see that the Indians are still in
their place, and I am sure that the faithful Zambo will be here
presently to get my letter.  I only trust that it will come to hand.

P.S.--The more I think the more desperate does our position seem. 
I see no possible hope of our return.  If there were a high tree
near the edge of the plateau we might drop a return bridge
across, but there is none within fifty yards.  Our united
strength could not carry a trunk which would serve our purpose. 
The rope, of course, is far too short that we could descend by it. 
No, our position is hopeless--hopeless!

                            CHAPTER X

            "The most Wonderful Things have Happened"

The most wonderful things have happened and are continually
happening to us.  All the paper that I possess consists of five
old note-books and a lot of scraps, and I have only the one
stylographic pencil; but so long as I can move my hand I will
continue to set down our experiences and impressions, for, since
we are the only men of the whole human race to see such things,
it is of enormous importance that I should record them whilst
they are fresh in my memory and before that fate which seems to
be constantly impending does actually overtake us.  Whether Zambo
can at last take these letters to the river, or whether I shall
myself in some miraculous way carry them back with me, or,
finally, whether some daring explorer, coming upon our tracks
with the advantage, perhaps, of a perfected monoplane, should
find this bundle of manuscript, in any case I can see that what I
am writing is destined to immortality as a classic of true adventure.

On the morning after our being trapped upon the plateau by
the villainous Gomez we began a new stage in our experiences. 
The first incident in it was not such as to give me a very
favorable opinion of the place to which we had wandered.  As I
roused myself from a short nap after day had dawned, my eyes fell
upon a most singular appearance upon my own leg.  My trouser had
slipped up, exposing a few inches of my skin above my sock. 
On this there rested a large, purplish grape.  Astonished at the
sight, I leaned forward to pick it off, when, to my horror, it burst
between my finger and thumb, squirting blood in every direction. 
My cry of disgust had brought the two professors to my side.

"Most interesting," said Summerlee, bending over my shin. 
"An enormous blood-tick, as yet, I believe, unclassified."

"The first-fruits of our labors," said Challenger in his booming,
pedantic fashion.  "We cannot do less than call it Ixodes Maloni. 
The very small inconvenience of being bitten, my young friend,
cannot, I am sure, weigh with you as against the glorious
privilege of having your name inscribed in the deathless roll
of zoology.  Unhappily you have crushed this fine specimen at
the moment of satiation."

"Filthy vermin!" I cried.

Professor Challenger raised his great eyebrows in protest, and
placed a soothing paw upon my shoulder.

"You should cultivate the scientific eye and the detached
scientific mind," said he.  "To a man of philosophic temperament
like myself the blood-tick, with its lancet-like proboscis and
its distending stomach, is as beautiful a work of Nature as the
peacock or, for that matter, the aurora borealis.  It pains me to
hear you speak of it in so unappreciative a fashion.  No doubt,
with due diligence, we can secure some other specimen."

"There can be no doubt of that," said Summerlee, grimly, "for one
has just disappeared behind your shirt-collar."

Challenger sprang into the air bellowing like a bull, and tore
frantically at his coat and shirt to get them off.  Summerlee and
I laughed so that we could hardly help him.  At last we exposed
that monstrous torso (fifty-four inches, by the tailor's tape). 
His body was all matted with black hair, out of which jungle we
picked the wandering tick before it had bitten him.  But the
bushes round were full of the horrible pests, and it was clear
that we must shift our camp.

But first of all it was necessary to make our arrangements with
the faithful negro, who appeared presently on the pinnacle with a
number of tins of cocoa and biscuits, which he tossed over to us. 
Of the stores which remained below he was ordered to retain as
much as would keep him for two months.  The Indians were to have
the remainder as a reward for their services and as payment for
taking our letters back to the Amazon.  Some hours later we saw
them in single file far out upon the plain, each with a bundle on
his head, making their way back along the path we had come. 
Zambo occupied our little tent at the base of the pinnacle, and
there he remained, our one link with the world below.

And now we had to decide upon our immediate movements.  We shifted
our position from among the tick-laden bushes until we came to a
small clearing thickly surrounded by trees upon all sides. 
There were some flat slabs of rock in the center, with an
excellent well close by, and there we sat in cleanly comfort
while we made our first plans for the invasion of this new country. 
Birds were calling among the foliage--especially one with a
peculiar whooping cry which was new to us--but beyond these
sounds there were no signs of life.

Our first care was to make some sort of list of our own stores,
so that we might know what we had to rely upon.  What with the
things we had ourselves brought up and those which Zambo had sent
across on the rope, we were fairly well supplied.  Most important
of all, in view of the dangers which might surround us, we had our
four rifles and one thousand three hundred rounds, also a shot-gun,
but not more than a hundred and fifty medium pellet cartridges. 
In the matter of provisions we had enough to last for several
weeks, with a sufficiency of tobacco and a few scientific
implements, including a large telescope and a good field-glass. 
All these things we collected together in the clearing, and as
a first precaution, we cut down with our hatchet and knives a
number of thorny bushes, which we piled round in a circle some
fifteen yards in diameter.  This was to be our headquarters for
the time--our place of refuge against sudden danger and the
guard-house for our stores.  Fort Challenger, we called it.

IT was midday before we had made ourselves secure, but the heat
was not oppressive, and the general character of the plateau, both
in its temperature and in its vegetation, was almost temperate. 
The beech, the oak, and even the birch were to be found among
the tangle of trees which girt us in.  One huge gingko tree,
topping all the others, shot its great limbs and maidenhair
foliage over the fort which we had constructed.  In its shade
we continued our discussion, while Lord John, who had quickly
taken command in the hour of action, gave us his views.

"So long as neither man nor beast has seen or heard us, we are
safe," said he.  "From the time they know we are here our
troubles begin.  There are no signs that they have found us out
as yet.  So our game surely is to lie low for a time and spy out
the land.  We want to have a good look at our neighbors before we
get on visitin' terms."

"But we must advance," I ventured to remark.

"By all means, sonny my boy!  We will advance.  But with
common sense.  We must never go so far that we can't get back
to our base.  Above all, we must never, unless it is life or
death, fire off our guns."

"But YOU fired yesterday," said Summerlee.

"Well, it couldn't be helped.  However, the wind was strong and
blew outwards.  It is not likely that the sound could have
traveled far into the plateau.  By the way, what shall we call
this place?  I suppose it is up to us to give it a name?"

There were several suggestions, more or less happy, but
Challenger's was final.

"It can only have one name," said he.  "It is called after the
pioneer who discovered it.  It is Maple White Land."

Maple White Land it became, and so it is named in that chart
which has become my special task.  So it will, I trust, appear
in the atlas of the future.

The peaceful penetration of Maple White Land was the pressing
subject before us.  We had the evidence of our own eyes that the
place was inhabited by some unknown creatures, and there was that
of Maple White's sketch-book to show that more dreadful and more
dangerous monsters might still appear.  That there might also
prove to be human occupants and that they were of a malevolent
character was suggested by the skeleton impaled upon the bamboos,
which could not have got there had it not been dropped from above. 
Our situation, stranded without possibility of escape in such a
land, was clearly full of danger, and our reasons endorsed every
measure of caution which Lord John's experience could suggest. 
Yet it was surely impossible that we should halt on the edge of
this world of mystery when our very souls were tingling with
impatience to push forward and to pluck the heart from it.

We therefore blocked the entrance to our zareba by filling it up
with several thorny bushes, and left our camp with the stores
entirely surrounded by this protecting hedge.  We then slowly and
cautiously set forth into the unknown, following the course of
the little stream which flowed from our spring, as it should
always serve us as a guide on our return.

Hardly had we started when we came across signs that there were
indeed wonders awaiting us.  After a few hundred yards of thick
forest, containing many trees which were quite unknown to me, but
which Summerlee, who was the botanist of the party, recognized as
forms of conifera and of cycadaceous plants which have long
passed away in the world below, we entered a region where the
stream widened out and formed a considerable bog.  High reeds of
a peculiar type grew thickly before us, which were pronounced to
be equisetacea, or mare's-tails, with tree-ferns scattered
amongst them, all of them swaying in a brisk wind.  Suddenly Lord
John, who was walking first, halted with uplifted hand.

"Look at this!" said he.  "By George, this must be the trail of
the father of all birds!"

An enormous three-toed track was imprinted in the soft mud before us. 
The creature, whatever it was, had crossed the swamp and had passed
on into the forest.  We all stopped to examine that monstrous spoor. 
If it were indeed a bird--and what animal could leave such a mark?--
its foot was so much larger than an ostrich's that its height upon
the same scale must be enormous.  Lord John looked eagerly round him
and slipped two cartridges into his elephant-gun.

"I'll stake my good name as a shikarree," said he, "that the
track is a fresh one.  The creature has not passed ten minutes. 
Look how the water is still oozing into that deeper print! 
By Jove!  See, here is the mark of a little one!"

Sure enough, smaller tracks of the same general form were running
parallel to the large ones.

"But what do you make of this?" cried Professor Summerlee,
triumphantly, pointing to what looked like the huge print of a
five-fingered human hand appearing among the three-toed marks.

"Wealden!" cried Challenger, in an ecstasy.  "I've seen them in
the Wealden clay.  It is a creature walking erect upon three-toed
feet, and occasionally putting one of its five-fingered forepaws
upon the ground.  Not a bird, my dear Roxton--not a bird."

"A beast?"

"No; a reptile--a dinosaur.  Nothing else could have left such
a track.  They puzzled a worthy Sussex doctor some ninety years
ago; but who in the world could have hoped--hoped--to have seen a
sight like that?"

His words died away into a whisper, and we all stood in
motionless amazement.  Following the tracks, we had left the
morass and passed through a screen of brushwood and trees. 
Beyond was an open glade, and in this were five of the most
extraordinary creatures that I have ever seen.  Crouching down
among the bushes, we observed them at our leisure.

There were, as I say, five of them, two being adults and three
young ones.  In size they were enormous.  Even the babies were as
big as elephants, while the two large ones were far beyond all
creatures I have ever seen.  They had slate-colored skin, which
was scaled like a lizard's and shimmered where the sun shone
upon it.  All five were sitting up, balancing themselves upon their
broad, powerful tails and their huge three-toed hind-feet, while
with their small five-fingered front-feet they pulled down the
branches upon which they browsed.  I do not know that I can bring
their appearance home to you better than by saying that they
looked like monstrous kangaroos, twenty feet in length, and with
skins like black crocodiles.

I do not know how long we stayed motionless gazing at this
marvelous spectacle.  A strong wind blew towards us and we were
well concealed, so there was no chance of discovery.  From time
to time the little ones played round their parents in unwieldy
gambols, the great beasts bounding into the air and falling with
dull thuds upon the earth.  The strength of the parents seemed to
be limitless, for one of them, having some difficulty in reaching
a bunch of foliage which grew upon a considerable-sized tree, put
his fore-legs round the trunk and tore it down as if it had been
a sapling.  The action seemed, as I thought, to show not only the
great development of its muscles, but also the small one of its
brain, for the whole weight came crashing down upon the top of
it, and it uttered a series of shrill yelps to show that, big as
it was, there was a limit to what it could endure.  The incident
made it think, apparently, that the neighborhood was dangerous,
for it slowly lurched off through the wood, followed by its mate
and its three enormous infants.  We saw the shimmering slaty
gleam of their skins between the tree-trunks, and their heads
undulating high above the brush-wood.  Then they vanished from
our sight.

I looked at my comrades.  Lord John was standing at gaze with his
finger on the trigger of his elephant-gun, his eager hunter's
soul shining from his fierce eyes.  What would he not give for
one such head to place between the two crossed oars above the
mantelpiece in his snuggery at the Albany!  And yet his reason
held him in, for all our exploration of the wonders of this
unknown land depended upon our presence being concealed from
its inhabitants.  The two professors were in silent ecstasy. 
In their excitement they had unconsciously seized each other by
the hand, and stood like two little children in the presence of a
marvel, Challenger's cheeks bunched up into a seraphic smile, and
Summerlee's sardonic face softening for the moment into wonder
and reverence.

"Nunc dimittis!" he cried at last.  "What will they say in
England of this?"

"My dear Summerlee, I will tell you with great confidence exactly
what they will say in England," said Challenger.  "They will say
that you are an infernal liar and a scientific charlatan, exactly
as you and others said of me."

"In the face of photographs?"

"Faked, Summerlee!  Clumsily faked!"

"In the face of specimens?"

"Ah, there we may have them!  Malone and his filthy Fleet Street
crew may be all yelping our praises yet.  August the twenty-eighth--
the day we saw five live iguanodons in a glade of Maple White Land. 
Put it down in your diary, my young friend, and send it to your rag."

"And be ready to get the toe-end of the editorial boot in
return," said Lord John.  "Things look a bit different from the
latitude of London, young fellah my lad.  There's many a man who
never tells his adventures, for he can't hope to be believed. 
Who's to blame them?  For this will seem a bit of a dream to
ourselves in a month or two.  WHAT did you say they were?"

"Iguanodons," said Summerlee.  "You'll find their footmarks all
over the Hastings sands, in Kent, and in Sussex.  The South of
England was alive with them when there was plenty of good lush
green-stuff to keep them going.  Conditions have changed, and the
beasts died.  Here it seems that the conditions have not changed,
and the beasts have lived."

"If ever we get out of this alive, I must have a head with me,"
said Lord John.  "Lord, how some of that Somaliland-Uganda crowd
would turn a beautiful pea-green if they saw it!  I don't know
what you chaps think, but it strikes me that we are on mighty
thin ice all this time."

I had the same feeling of mystery and danger around us.  In the
gloom of the trees there seemed a constant menace and as we
looked up into their shadowy foliage vague terrors crept into
one's heart.  It is true that these monstrous creatures which we
had seen were lumbering, inoffensive brutes which were unlikely
to hurt anyone, but in this world of wonders what other survivals
might there not be--what fierce, active horrors ready to pounce
upon us from their lair among the rocks or brushwood?  I knew
little of prehistoric life, but I had a clear remembrance of one
book which I had read in which it spoke of creatures who would
live upon our lions and tigers as a cat lives upon mice.  What if
these also were to be found in the woods of Maple White Land!

It was destined that on this very morning--our first in the new
country--we were to find out what strange hazards lay around us. 
It was a loathsome adventure, and one of which I hate to think. 
If, as Lord John said, the glade of the iguanodons will remain
with us as a dream, then surely the swamp of the pterodactyls will
forever be our nightmare.  Let me set down exactly what occurred.

We passed very slowly through the woods, partly because Lord
Roxton acted as scout before he would let us advance, and partly
because at every second step one or other of our professors would
fall, with a cry of wonder, before some flower or insect which
presented him with a new type.  We may have traveled two or three
miles in all, keeping to the right of the line of the stream,
when we came upon a considerable opening in the trees.  A belt
of brushwood led up to a tangle of rocks--the whole plateau was
strewn with boulders.  We were walking slowly towards these
rocks, among bushes which reached over our waists, when we became
aware of a strange low gabbling and whistling sound, which filled
the air with a constant clamor and appeared to come from some
spot immediately before us.  Lord John held up his hand as a
signal for us to stop, and he made his way swiftly, stooping and
running, to the line of rocks.  We saw him peep over them and
give a gesture of amazement.  Then he stood staring as if
forgetting us, so utterly entranced was he by what he saw. 
Finally he waved us to come on, holding up his hand as a signal
for caution.  His whole bearing made me feel that something
wonderful but dangerous lay before us.

Creeping to his side, we looked over the rocks.  The place into
which we gazed was a pit, and may, in the early days, have been
one of the smaller volcanic blow-holes of the plateau.  It was
bowl-shaped and at the bottom, some hundreds of yards from where
we lay, were pools of green-scummed, stagnant water, fringed
with bullrushes.  It was a weird place in itself, but its
occupants made it seem like a scene from the Seven Circles of Dante. 
The place was a rookery of pterodactyls.  There were hundreds of
them congregated within view.  All the bottom area round the
water-edge was alive with their young ones, and with hideous
mothers brooding upon their leathery, yellowish eggs.  From this
crawling flapping mass of obscene reptilian life came the
shocking clamor which filled the air and the mephitic, horrible,
musty odor which turned us sick.  But above, perched each upon
its own stone, tall, gray, and withered, more like dead and dried
specimens than actual living creatures, sat the horrible males,
absolutely motionless save for the rolling of their red eyes or
an occasional snap of their rat-trap beaks as a dragon-fly went
past them.  Their huge, membranous wings were closed by folding
their fore-arms, so that they sat like gigantic old women,
wrapped in hideous web-colored shawls, and with their ferocious
heads protruding above them.  Large and small, not less than a
thousand of these filthy creatures lay in the hollow before us.

Our professors would gladly have stayed there all day, so
entranced were they by this opportunity of studying the life of a
prehistoric age.  They pointed out the fish and dead birds lying
about among the rocks as proving the nature of the food of these
creatures, and I heard them congratulating each other on having
cleared up the point why the bones of this flying dragon are
found in such great numbers in certain well-defined areas, as in
the Cambridge Green-sand, since it was now seen that, like penguins,
they lived in gregarious fashion.

Finally, however, Challenger, bent upon proving some point which
Summerlee had contested, thrust his head over the rock and nearly
brought destruction upon us all.  In an instant the nearest male
gave a shrill, whistling cry, and flapped its twenty-foot span of
leathery wings as it soared up into the air.  The females and
young ones huddled together beside the water, while the whole
circle of sentinels rose one after the other and sailed off into
the sky.  It was a wonderful sight to see at least a hundred
creatures of such enormous size and hideous appearance all
swooping like swallows with swift, shearing wing-strokes above
us; but soon we realized that it was not one on which we could
afford to linger.  At first the great brutes flew round in a huge
ring, as if to make sure what the exact extent of the danger
might be.  Then, the flight grew lower and the circle narrower,
until they were whizzing round and round us, the dry, rustling
flap of their huge slate-colored wings filling the air with a
volume of sound that made me think of Hendon aerodrome upon a
race day.

"Make for the wood and keep together," cried Lord John, clubbing
his rifle.  "The brutes mean mischief."

The moment we attempted to retreat the circle closed in upon us,
until the tips of the wings of those nearest to us nearly touched
our faces.  We beat at them with the stocks of our guns, but
there was nothing solid or vulnerable to strike.  Then suddenly
out of the whizzing, slate-colored circle a long neck shot out, and
a fierce beak made a thrust at us.  Another and another followed. 
Summerlee gave a cry and put his hand to his face, from which the
blood was streaming.  I felt a prod at the back of my neck, and
turned dizzy with the shock.  Challenger fell, and as I stooped
to pick him up I was again struck from behind and dropped on the
top of him.  At the same instant I heard the crash of Lord John's
elephant-gun, and, looking up, saw one of the creatures with a
broken wing struggling upon the ground, spitting and gurgling at
us with a wide-opened beak and blood-shot, goggled eyes, like some
devil in a medieval picture.  Its comrades had flown higher at the
sudden sound, and were circling above our heads.

"Now," cried Lord John, "now for our lives!"

We staggered through the brushwood, and even as we reached the
trees the harpies were on us again.  Summerlee was knocked down,
but we tore him up and rushed among the trunks.  Once there we
were safe, for those huge wings had no space for their sweep
beneath the branches.  As we limped homewards, sadly mauled and
discomfited, we saw them for a long time flying at a great height
against the deep blue sky above our heads, soaring round and
round, no bigger than wood-pigeons, with their eyes no doubt
still following our progress.  At last, however, as we reached
the thicker woods they gave up the chase, and we saw them no more.

A most interesting and convincing experience," said Challenger,
as we halted beside the brook and he bathed a swollen knee. 
"We are exceptionally well informed, Summerlee, as to the habits
of the enraged pterodactyl."

Summerlee was wiping the blood from a cut in his forehead, while
I was tying up a nasty stab in the muscle of the neck.  Lord John
had the shoulder of his coat torn away, but the creature's teeth
had only grazed the flesh.

"It is worth noting," Challenger continued, "that our young
friend has received an undoubted stab, while Lord John's coat
could only have been torn by a bite.  In my own case, I was
beaten about the head by their wings, so we have had a remarkable
exhibition of their various methods of offence."

"It has been touch and go for our lives," said Lord John,
gravely, "and I could not think of a more rotten sort of death
than to be outed by such filthy vermin.  I was sorry to fire my
rifle, but, by Jove! there was no great choice."

"We should not be here if you hadn't," said I, with conviction.

"It may do no harm," said he.  "Among these woods there must be
many loud cracks from splitting or falling trees which would be
just like the sound of a gun.  But now, if you are of my opinion,
we have had thrills enough for one day, and had best get back to
the surgical box at the camp for some carbolic.  Who knows what
venom these beasts may have in their hideous jaws?"

But surely no men ever had just such a day since the world began. 
Some fresh surprise was ever in store for us.  When, following
the course of our brook, we at last reached our glade and saw
the thorny barricade of our camp, we thought that our adventures
were at an end.  But we had something more to think of before we
could rest.  The gate of Fort Challenger had been untouched, the
walls were unbroken, and yet it had been visited by some strange
and powerful creature in our absence.  No foot-mark showed a trace
of its nature, and only the overhanging branch of the enormous
ginko tree suggested how it might have come and gone; but of its
malevolent strength there was ample evidence in the condition of
our stores.  They were strewn at random all over the ground, and
one tin of meat had been crushed into pieces so as to extract
the contents.  A case of cartridges had been shattered into
matchwood, and one of the brass shells lay shredded into pieces
beside it.  Again the feeling of vague horror came upon our
souls, and we gazed round with frightened eyes at the dark
shadows which lay around us, in all of which some fearsome shape
might be lurking.  How good it was when we were hailed by the
voice of Zambo, and, going to the edge of the plateau, saw him
sitting grinning at us upon the top of the opposite pinnacle.

"All well, Massa Challenger, all well!" he cried.  "Me stay here. 
No fear.  You always find me when you want."

His honest black face, and the immense view before us, which
carried us half-way back to the affluent of the Amazon, helped us
to remember that we really were upon this earth in the twentieth
century, and had not by some magic been conveyed to some raw
planet in its earliest and wildest state.  How difficult it was
to realize that the violet line upon the far horizon was well
advanced to that great river upon which huge steamers ran, and
folk talked of the small affairs of life, while we, marooned
among the creatures of a bygone age, could but gaze towards it
and yearn for all that it meant!

One other memory remains with me of this wonderful day, and with
it I will close this letter.  The two professors, their tempers
aggravated no doubt by their injuries, had fallen out as to
whether our assailants were of the genus pterodactylus or
dimorphodon, and high words had ensued.  To avoid their wrangling
I moved some little way apart, and was seated smoking upon the
trunk of a fallen tree, when Lord John strolled over in my direction.

"I say, Malone," said he, "do you remember that place where those
beasts were?"

"Very clearly."

"A sort of volcanic pit, was it not?"

"Exactly," said I.

"Did you notice the soil?"

"Rocks."

"But round the water--where the reeds were?"

"It was a bluish soil.  It looked like clay."

"Exactly.  A volcanic tube full of blue clay."

"What of that?" I asked.

"Oh, nothing, nothing," said he, and strolled back to where the
voices of the contending men of science rose in a prolonged duet,
the high, strident note of Summerlee rising and falling to the
sonorous bass of Challenger.  I should have thought no more of
Lord John's remark were it not that once again that night I
heard him mutter to himself:  "Blue clay--clay in a volcanic tube!" 
They were the last words I heard before I dropped into an
exhausted sleep.

                            CHAPTER XI

                    "For once I was the Hero"

Lord John Roxton was right when he thought that some specially
toxic quality might lie in the bite of the horrible creatures
which had attacked us.  On the morning after our first adventure
upon the plateau, both Summerlee and I were in great pain and
fever, while Challenger's knee was so bruised that he could
hardly limp.  We kept to our camp all day, therefore, Lord John
busying himself, with such help as we could give him, in raising
the height and thickness of the thorny walls which were our
only defense.  I remember that during the whole long day I was
haunted by the feeling that we were closely observed, though by
whom or whence I could give no guess.

So strong was the impression that I told Professor Challenger of
it, who put it down to the cerebral excitement caused by my fever. 
Again and again I glanced round swiftly, with the conviction that
I was about to see something, but only to meet the dark tangle of
our hedge or the solemn and cavernous gloom of the great trees
which arched above our heads.  And yet the feeling grew ever
stronger in my own mind that something observant and something
malevolent was at our very elbow.  I thought of the Indian
superstition of the Curupuri--the dreadful, lurking spirit of
the woods--and I could have imagined that his terrible presence
haunted those who had invaded his most remote and sacred retreat.

That night (our third in Maple White Land) we had an experience
which left a fearful impression upon our minds, and made us
thankful that Lord John had worked so hard in making our
retreat impregnable.  We were all sleeping round our dying fire
when we were aroused--or, rather, I should say, shot out of our
slumbers--by a succession of the most frightful cries and screams
to which I have ever listened.  I know no sound to which I could
compare this amazing tumult, which seemed to come from some spot
within a few hundred yards of our camp.  It was as ear-splitting
as any whistle of a railway-engine; but whereas the whistle is a
clear, mechanical, sharp-edged sound, this was far deeper in volume
and vibrant with the uttermost strain of agony and horror.  We clapped
our hands to our ears to shut out that nerve-shaking appeal.  A cold
sweat broke out over my body, and my heart turned sick at the misery
of it.  All the woes of tortured life, all its stupendous indictment
of high heaven, its innumerable sorrows, seemed to be centered and
condensed into that one dreadful, agonized cry.  And then, under
this high-pitched, ringing sound there was another, more intermittent,
a low, deep-chested laugh, a growling, throaty gurgle of merriment
which formed a grotesque accompaniment to the shriek with which it
was blended.  For three or four minutes on end the fearsome duet
continued, while all the foliage rustled with the rising of
startled birds.  Then it shut off as suddenly as it began.  For a
long time we sat in horrified silence.  Then Lord John threw a bundle
of twigs upon the fire, and their red glare lit up the intent faces
of my companions and flickered over the great boughs above our heads.

"What was it?" I whispered.

"We shall know in the morning," said Lord John.  "It  was close
to us--not farther than the glade."

"We have been privileged to overhear a prehistoric tragedy, the
sort of drama which occurred among the reeds upon the border of
some Jurassic lagoon, when the greater dragon pinned the lesser
among the slime," said Challenger, with more solemnity than I had
ever heard in his voice.  "It was surely well for man that he
came late in the order of creation.  There were powers abroad in
earlier days which no courage and no mechanism of his could have met. 
What could his sling, his throwing-stick, or his arrow avail him
against such forces as have been loose to-night?  Even with a
modern rifle it would be all odds on the monster."

"I think I should back my little friend," said Lord John,
caressing his Express.  "But the beast would certainly have a
good sporting chance."

Summerlee raised his hand.

"Hush!" he cried.  "Surely I hear something?"

From the utter silence there emerged a deep, regular pat-pat. 
It was the tread of some animal--the rhythm of soft but heavy pads
placed cautiously upon the ground.  It stole slowly round the
camp, and then halted near our gateway.  There was a low, sibilant
rise and fall--the breathing of the creature.  Only our feeble
hedge separated us from this horror of the night.  Each of us
had seized his rifle, and Lord John had pulled out a small bush
to make an embrasure in the hedge.

"By George!" he whispered.  "I think I can see it!"

I stooped and peered over his shoulder through the gap.  Yes, I
could see it, too.  In the deep shadow of the tree there was a
deeper shadow yet, black, inchoate, vague--a crouching form full
of savage vigor and menace.  It was no higher than a horse, but
the dim outline suggested vast bulk and strength.  That hissing
pant, as regular and full-volumed as the exhaust of an engine,
spoke of a monstrous organism.  Once, as it moved, I thought I
saw the glint of two terrible, greenish eyes.  There was an
uneasy rustling, as if it were crawling slowly forward.

"I believe it is going to spring!" said I, cocking my rifle.

"Don't fire!  Don't fire!" whispered Lord John.  "The crash of a
gun in this silent night would be heard for miles.  Keep it as a
last card."

"If it gets over the hedge we're done," said Summerlee, and his
voice crackled into a nervous laugh as he spoke.

"No, it must not get over," cried Lord John; "but hold your
fire to the last.  Perhaps I can make something of the fellow. 
I'll chance it, anyhow."

It was as brave an act as ever I saw a man do.  He stooped to
the fire, picked up a blazing branch, and slipped in an instant
through a sallyport which he had made in our gateway.  The thing
moved forward with a dreadful snarl.  Lord John never hesitated,
but, running towards it with a quick, light step, he dashed the
flaming wood into the brute's face.  For one moment I had a
vision of a horrible mask like a giant toad's, of a warty,
leprous skin, and of a loose mouth all beslobbered with fresh blood. 
The next, there was a crash in the underwood and our dreadful
visitor was gone.

"I thought he wouldn't face the fire," said Lord John, laughing,
as he came back and threw his branch among the faggots.

"You should not have taken such a risk!" we all cried.

"There was nothin' else to be done.  If he had got among us we
should have shot each other in tryin' to down him.  On the other
hand, if we had fired through the hedge and wounded him he would
soon have been on the top of us--to say nothin' of giving
ourselves away.  On the whole, I think that we are jolly well out
of it.  What was he, then?"

Our learned men looked at each other with some hesitation.

"Personally, I am unable to classify the creature with any
certainty," said Summerlee, lighting his pipe from the fire.

"In refusing to commit yourself you are but showing a proper
scientific reserve," said Challenger, with massive condescension. 
"I am not myself prepared to go farther than to say in general
terms that we have almost certainly been in contact to-night with
some form of carnivorous dinosaur.  I have already expressed my
anticipation that something of the sort might exist upon this plateau."

"We have to bear in mind," remarked Summerlee, that there are many
prehistoric forms which have never come down to us.  It would be
rash to suppose that we can give a name to all that we are likely
to meet."

"Exactly.  A rough classification may be the best that we can attempt. 
To-morrow some further evidence may help us to an identification. 
Meantime we can only renew our interrupted slumbers."

"But not without a sentinel," said Lord John, with decision. 
"We can't afford to take chances in a country like this. 
Two-hour spells in the future, for each of us."

"Then I'll just finish my pipe in starting the first one," said
Professor Summerlee; and from that time onwards we never trusted
ourselves again without a watchman.

In the morning it was not long before we discovered the source
of the hideous uproar which had aroused us in the night. 
The iguanodon glade was the scene of a horrible butchery. 
From the pools of blood and the enormous lumps of flesh
scattered in every direction over the green sward we imagined
at first that a number of animals had been killed, but on
examining the remains more closely we discovered that all this
carnage came from one of these unwieldy monsters, which had been
literally torn to pieces by some creature not larger, perhaps,
but far more ferocious, than itself.

Our two professors sat in absorbed argument, examining piece
after piece, which showed the marks of savage teeth and of
enormous claws.

"Our judgment must still be in abeyance," said Professor
Challenger, with a huge slab of whitish-colored flesh across
his knee.  "The indications would be consistent with the presence
of a saber-toothed tiger, such as are still found among the breccia
of our caverns; but the creature actually seen was undoubtedly of
a larger and more reptilian character.  Personally, I should
pronounce for allosaurus."

"Or megalosaurus," said Summerlee.

"Exactly.  Any one of the larger carnivorous dinosaurs would meet
the case.  Among them are to be found all the most terrible types
of animal life that have ever cursed the earth or blessed a museum." 
He laughed sonorously at his own conceit, for, though he had little
sense of humor, the crudest pleasantry from his own lips moved him
always to roars of appreciation.

"The less noise the better," said Lord Roxton, curtly.  "We don't
know who or what may be near us.  If this fellah comes back for
his breakfast and catches us here we won't have so much to laugh at. 
By the way, what is this mark upon the iguanodon's hide?"

On the dull, scaly, slate-colored skin somewhere above the
shoulder, there was a singular black circle of some substance
which looked like asphalt.  None of us could suggest what it
meant, though Summerlee was of opinion that he had seen
something similar upon one of the young ones two days before. 
Challenger said nothing, but looked pompous and puffy, as if he
could if he would, so that finally Lord John asked his opinion direct.

"If your lordship will graciously permit me to open my mouth,
I shall be happy to express my sentiments," said he, with
elaborate sarcasm.  I am not in the habit of being taken to task
in the fashion which seems to be customary with your lordship. 
I was not aware that it was necessary to ask your permission
before smiling at a harmless pleasantry."

It was not until he had received his apology that our touchy
friend would suffer himself to be appeased.  When at last his
ruffled feelings were at ease, he addressed us at some length from
his seat upon a fallen tree, speaking, as his habit was, as if he
were imparting most precious information to a class of a thousand.

"With regard to the marking," said he, "I am inclined to agree
with my friend and colleague, Professor Summerlee, that the
stains are from asphalt.  As this plateau is, in its very nature,
highly volcanic, and as asphalt is a substance which one
associates with Plutonic forces, I cannot doubt that it exists in
the free liquid state, and that the creatures may have come in
contact with it.  A much more important problem is the question
as to the existence of the carnivorous monster which has left its
traces in this glade.  We know roughly that this plateau is not
larger than an average English county.  Within this confined
space a certain number of creatures, mostly types which have
passed away in the world below, have lived together for
innumerable years.  Now, it is very clear to me that in so long a
period one would have expected that the carnivorous creatures,
multiplying unchecked, would have exhausted their food supply and
have been compelled to either modify their flesh-eating habits
or die of hunger.  This we see has not been so.  We can only
imagine, therefore, that the balance of Nature is preserved by
some check which limits the numbers of these ferocious creatures. 
One of the many interesting problems, therefore, which await our
solution is to discover what that check may be and how it operates. 
I venture to trust that we may have some future opportunity for
the closer study of the carnivorous dinosaurs."

"And I venture to trust we may not," I observed.

The Professor only raised his great eyebrows, as the schoolmaster
meets the irrelevant observation of the naughty boy.

"Perhaps Professor Summerlee may have an observation to make," he
said, and the two savants ascended together into some rarefied
scientific atmosphere, where the possibilities of a modification
of the birth-rate were weighed against the decline of the food
supply as a check in the struggle for existence.

That morning we mapped out a small portion of the plateau,
avoiding the swamp of the pterodactyls, and keeping to the east
of our brook instead of to the west.  In that direction the
country was still thickly wooded, with so much undergrowth that
our progress was very slow.

I have dwelt up to now upon the terrors of Maple White Land; but
there was another side to the subject, for all that morning we
wandered among lovely flowers--mostly, as I observed, white or
yellow in color, these being, as our professors explained, the
primitive flower-shades.  In many places the ground was
absolutely covered with them, and as we walked ankle-deep on that
wonderful yielding carpet, the scent was almost intoxicating in
its sweetness and intensity.  The homely English bee buzzed
everywhere around us.  Many of the trees under which we passed
had their branches bowed down with fruit, some of which were of
familiar sorts, while other varieties were new.  By observing
which of them were pecked by the birds we avoided all danger of
poison and added a delicious variety to our food reserve.  In the
jungle which we traversed were numerous hard-trodden paths made
by the wild beasts, and in the more marshy places we saw a
profusion of strange footmarks, including many of the iguanodon. 
Once in a grove we observed several of these great creatures
grazing, and Lord John, with his glass, was able to report that
they also were spotted with asphalt, though in a different place
to the one which we had examined in the morning.  What this
phenomenon meant we could not imagine.

We saw many small animals, such as porcupines, a scaly ant-eater,
and a wild pig, piebald in color and with long curved tusks. 
Once, through a break in the trees, we saw a clear shoulder of
green hill some distance away, and across this a large dun-colored
animal was traveling at a considerable pace.  It passed so swiftly
that we were unable to say what it was; but if it were a deer, as
was claimed by Lord John, it must have been as large as those
monstrous Irish elk which are still dug up from time to time in
the bogs of my native land.

Ever since the mysterious visit which had been paid to our camp
we always returned to it with some misgivings.  However, on this
occasion we found everything in order.

That evening we had a grand discussion upon our present situation
and future plans, which I must describe at some length, as it led
to a new departure by which we were enabled to gain a more
complete knowledge of Maple White Land than might have come in
many weeks of exploring.  It was Summerlee who opened the debate. 
All day he had been querulous in manner, and now some remark of
Lord John's as to what we should do on the morrow brought all his
bitterness to a head.

"What we ought to be doing to-day, to-morrow, and all the time,"
said he, "is finding some way out of the trap into which we
have fallen.  You are all turning your brains towards getting into
this country.  I say that we should be scheming how to get out of it."

"I am surprised, sir," boomed Challenger, stroking his majestic
beard, "that any man of science should commit himself to so
ignoble a sentiment.  You are in a land which offers such an
inducement to the ambitious naturalist as none ever has since the
world began, and you suggest leaving it before we have acquired
more than the most superficial knowledge of it or of its contents. 
I expected better things of you, Professor Summerlee."

"You must remember," said Summerlee, sourly, "that I have a large
class in London who are at present at the mercy of an extremely
inefficient locum tenens.  This makes my situation different from
yours, Professor Challenger, since, so far as I know, you have
never been entrusted with any responsible educational work."

"Quite so," said Challenger.  "I have felt it to be a sacrilege
to divert a brain which is capable of the highest original
research to any lesser object.  That is why I have sternly set
my face against any proffered scholastic appointment."

"For example?" asked Summerlee, with a sneer; but Lord John
hastened to change the conversation.

"I must say," said he, "that I think it would be a mighty poor
thing to go back to London before I know a great deal more of
this place than I do at present."

"I could never dare to walk into the back office of my paper and
face old McArdle," said I.  (You will excuse the frankness of this
report, will you not, sir?)  "He'd never forgive me for leaving
such unexhausted copy behind me.  Besides, so far as I can see it
is not worth discussing, since we can't get down, even if we wanted."

"Our young friend makes up for many obvious mental lacunae by
some measure of primitive common sense, remarked Challenger. 
"The interests of his deplorable profession are immaterial to us;
but, as he observes, we cannot get down in any case, so it is a
waste of energy to discuss it."

"It is a waste of energy to do anything else," growled Summerlee
from behind his pipe.  "Let me remind you that we came here upon
a perfectly definite mission, entrusted to us at the meeting of
the Zoological Institute in London.  That mission was to test the
truth of Professor Challenger's statements.  Those statements,
as I am bound to admit, we are now in a position to endorse. 
Our ostensible work is therefore done.  As to the detail which
remains to be worked out upon this plateau, it is so enormous
that only a large expedition, with a very special equipment,
could hope to cope with it.  Should we attempt to do so ourselves,
the only possible result must be that we shall never return with
the important contribution to science which we have already gained. 
Professor Challenger has devised means for getting us on to this
plateau when it appeared to be inaccessible; I think that we should
now call upon him to use the same ingenuity in getting us back to
the world from which we came."

I confess that as Summerlee stated his view it struck me as
altogether reasonable.  Even Challenger was affected by the
consideration that his enemies would never stand confuted if the
confirmation of his statements should never reach those who had
doubted them.

"The problem of the descent is at first sight a formidable one,"
said he, "and yet I cannot doubt that the intellect can solve it. 
I am prepared to agree with our colleague that a protracted stay
in Maple White Land is at present inadvisable, and that the
question of our return will soon have to be faced.  I absolutely
refuse to leave, however, until we have made at least a
superficial examination of this country, and are able to take
back with us something in the nature of a chart."

Professor Summerlee gave a snort of impatience.

"We have spent two long days in exploration," said he, "and we
are no wiser as to the actual geography of the place than when
we started.  It is clear that it is all thickly wooded, and it
would take months to penetrate it and to learn the relations of
one part to another.  If there were some central peak it would
be different, but it all slopes downwards, so far as we can see. 
The farther we go the less likely it is that we will get any
general view."

It was at that moment that I had my inspiration.  My eyes chanced
to light upon the enormous gnarled trunk of the gingko tree which
cast its huge branches over us.  Surely, if its bole exceeded
that of all others, its height must do the same.  If the rim of
the plateau was indeed the highest point, then why should this
mighty tree not prove to be a watchtower which commanded the
whole country?  Now, ever since I ran wild as a lad in Ireland I
have been a bold and skilled tree-climber.  My comrades might be
my masters on the rocks, but I knew that I would be supreme among
those branches.  Could I only get my legs on to the lowest of the
giant off-shoots, then it would be strange indeed if I could not
make my way to the top.  My comrades were delighted at my idea.

"Our young friend," said Challenger, bunching up the red apples
of his cheeks, "is capable of acrobatic exertions which would be
impossible to a man of a more solid, though possibly of a more
commanding, appearance.  I applaud his resolution."

"By George, young fellah, you've put your hand on it!" said Lord
John, clapping me on the back.  "How we never came to think of it
before I can't imagine!  There's not more than an hour of daylight
left, but if you take your notebook you may be able to get some
rough sketch of the place.  If we put these three ammunition
cases under the branch, I will soon hoist you on to it."

He stood on the boxes while I faced the trunk, and was gently
raising me when Challenger sprang forward and gave me such a
thrust with his  huge hand that he fairly shot me into the tree. 
With both arms clasping the branch, I scrambled  hard with my
feet until I had worked, first my body, and then my knees, onto it. 
There were three excellent off-shoots, like huge rungs of a
ladder, above my head, and a tangle of convenient branches
beyond, so that I clambered onwards with such speed that I soon
lost sight of the ground and had nothing but foliage beneath me. 
Now and then I encountered a check, and once I had to shin up a
creeper for eight or ten feet, but I made excellent progress, and
the booming of Challenger's voice seemed to be a great distance
beneath me. The tree was, however, enormous, and, looking
upwards, I could see no thinning of the leaves above my head. 
There was some thick, bush-like clump which seemed to be a
parasite upon a branch up which I was swarming.  I leaned my head
round it in order to see what was beyond, and I nearly fell out
of the tree in my surprise and horror at what I saw.

A face was gazing into mine--at the distance of only a foot or two. 
The creature that owned it had been crouching behind the parasite,
and had looked round it at the same instant that I did.  It was
a human face--or at least it was far more human than any monkey's
that I have ever seen.  It was long, whitish, and blotched with
pimples, the nose flattened, and the lower jaw projecting, with
a bristle of coarse whiskers round the chin.  The eyes, which
were under thick and heavy brows, were bestial and ferocious,
and as it opened its mouth to snarl what sounded like a curse at
me I observed that it had curved, sharp canine teeth.  For an
instant I read hatred and menace in the evil eyes.  Then, as quick
as a flash, came an expression of overpowering fear.  There was
a crash of broken boughs as it dived wildly down into the tangle
of green.  I caught a glimpse of a hairy body like that of a
reddish pig, and then it was gone amid a swirl of leaves and branches.

"What's the matter?" shouted Roxton from below.  "Anything wrong
with you?"

"Did you see it?" I cried, with my arms round the branch and all
my nerves tingling.

"We heard a row, as if your foot had slipped.  What was it?"

I was so shocked at the sudden and strange appearance of this
ape-man that I hesitated whether I should not climb down again
and tell my experience to my companions.  But I was already so
far up the great tree that it seemed a humiliation to return
without having carried out my mission.

After a long pause, therefore, to recover my breath and my
courage, I continued my ascent.  Once I put my weight upon a
rotten branch and swung for a few seconds by my hands, but in the
main it was all easy climbing.  Gradually the leaves thinned
around me, and I was aware, from the wind upon my face, that I
had topped all the trees of the forest.  I was determined,
however, not to look about me before I had reached the very
highest point, so I scrambled on until I had got so far that the
topmost branch was bending beneath my weight.  There I settled
into a convenient fork, and, balancing myself securely, I found
myself looking down at a most wonderful panorama of this strange
country in which we found ourselves.

The sun was just above the western sky-line, and the evening was
a particularly bright and clear one, so that the whole extent of
the plateau was visible beneath me.  It was, as seen from this
height, of an oval contour, with a breadth of about thirty miles
and a width of twenty.  Its general shape was that of a shallow
funnel, all the sides sloping down to a considerable lake in
the center.  This lake may have been ten miles in circumference,
and lay very green and beautiful in the evening light, with a
thick fringe of reeds at its edges, and with its surface broken
by several yellow sandbanks, which gleamed golden in the
mellow sunshine.  A number of long dark objects, which were too
large for alligators and too long for canoes, lay upon the edges
of these patches of sand.  With my glass I could clearly see that
they were alive, but what their nature might be I could not imagine.

From the side of the plateau on which we were, slopes of
woodland, with occasional glades, stretched down for five or six
miles to the central lake.  I could see at my very feet the glade
of the iguanodons, and farther off was a round opening in the
trees which marked the swamp of the pterodactyls.  On the side
facing me, however, the plateau presented a very different aspect. 
There the basalt cliffs of the outside were reproduced upon the
inside, forming an escarpment about two hundred feet high, with
a woody slope beneath it.  Along the base of these red cliffs,
some distance above the ground, I could see a number of dark
holes through the glass, which I conjectured to be the mouths
of caves.  At the opening of one of these something white was
shimmering, but I was unable to make out what it was.  I sat
charting the country until the sun had set and it was so dark
that I could no longer distinguish details.  Then I climbed down
to my companions waiting for me so eagerly at the bottom of the
great tree.  For once I was the hero of the expedition.  Alone I
had thought of it, and alone I had done it; and here was the
chart which would save us a month's blind groping among
unknown dangers.  Each of them shook me solemnly by the hand.

But before they discussed the details of my map I had to tell
them of my encounter with the ape-man among the branches.

"He has been there all the time," said I.

"How do you know that?" asked Lord John.

"Because I have never been without that feeling that something
malevolent was watching us. I mentioned it to you, Professor Challenger."

"Our young friend certainly said something of the kind.  He is
also the one among us who is endowed with that Celtic temperament
which would make him sensitive to such impressions."

"The whole theory of telepathy----" began Summerlee, filling his pipe.

"Is too vast to be now discussed," said Challenger, with decision. 
"Tell me, now," he added, with the air of a bishop addressing a
Sunday-school, "did you happen to observe whether the creature
could cross its thumb over its palm?"

"No, indeed."

"Had it a tail?"

"No."

"Was the foot prehensile?"

"I do not think it could have made off so fast among the branches
if it could not get a grip with its feet."

"In South America there are, if my memory serves me--you will
check the observation, Professor Summerlee--some thirty-six
species of monkeys, but the anthropoid ape is unknown.  It is
clear, however, that he exists in this country, and that he is
not the hairy, gorilla-like variety, which is never seen out of
Africa or the East."  (I was inclined to interpolate, as I looked
at him, that I had seen his first cousin in Kensington.)  "This is
a whiskered and colorless type, the latter characteristic pointing
to the fact that he spends his days in arboreal seclusion. 
The question which we have to face is whether he approaches more
closely to the ape or the man.  In the latter case, he may well
approximate to what the vulgar have called the `missing link.' 
The solution of this problem is our immediate duty."

"It is nothing of the sort," said Summerlee, abruptly.  "Now that,
through the intelligence and activity of Mr. Malone" (I cannot help
quoting the words), "we have got our chart, our one and only
immediate duty is to get ourselves safe and sound out of this
awful place."

"The flesh-pots of civilization," groaned Challenger.

"The ink-pots of civilization, sir.  It is our task to put on
record what we have seen, and to leave the further exploration
to others.  You all agreed as much before Mr. Malone got us the chart."

"Well," said Challenger, "I admit that my mind will be more at
ease when I am assured that the result of our expedition has been
conveyed to our friends.  How we are to get down from this place
I have not as yet an idea.  I have never yet encountered any
problem, however, which my inventive brain was unable to solve,
and I promise you that to-morrow I will turn my attention to the
question of our descent."  And so the matter was allowed to rest.

But that evening, by the light of the fire and of a single candle,
the first map of the lost world was elaborated.  Every detail
which I had roughly noted from my watch-tower was drawn out in
its relative place.  Challenger's pencil hovered over the great
blank which marked the lake.

"What shall we call it?" he asked.

"Why should you not take the chance of perpetuating your own
name?" said Summerlee, with his usual touch of acidity.

"I trust, sir, that my name will have other and more personal
claims upon posterity," said Challenger, severely.  "Any ignoramus
can hand down his worthless memory by imposing it upon a mountain
or a river.  I need no such monument."

Summerlee, with a twisted smile, was about to make some fresh
assault when Lord John hastened to intervene.

"It's up to you, young fellah, to name the lake," said he. 
"You saw it first, and, by George, if you choose to put `Lake
Malone' on it, no one has a better right."

"By all means.  Let our young friend give it a name," said Challenger.

"Then, said I, blushing, I dare say, as I said it, "let it be
named Lake Gladys."

"Don't you think the Central Lake would be more descriptive?"
remarked Summerlee.

"I should prefer Lake Gladys."

Challenger looked at me sympathetically, and shook his great head
in mock disapproval.  "Boys will be boys," said he.  "Lake Gladys
let it be."

                           CHAPTER XII

                "It was Dreadful in the Forest"

I have said--or perhaps I have not said, for my memory plays me
sad tricks these days--that I glowed with pride when three such
men as my comrades thanked me for having saved, or at least
greatly helped, the situation.  As the youngster of the party,
not merely in years, but in experience, character, knowledge, and
all that goes to make a man, I had been overshadowed from the first. 
And now I was coming into my own.  I warmed at the thought. 
Alas! for the pride which goes before a fall!  That little glow
of self-satisfaction, that added measure of self-confidence, were
to lead me on that very night to the most dreadful experience
of my life, ending with a shock which turns my heart sick when I
think of it.

It came about in this way.  I had been unduly excited by the
adventure of the tree, and sleep seemed to be impossible. 
Summerlee was on guard, sitting hunched over our small fire,
a quaint, angular figure, his rifle across his knees and his
pointed, goat-like beard wagging with each weary nod of his head. 
Lord John lay silent, wrapped in the South American poncho which
he wore, while Challenger snored with a roll and rattle which
reverberated through the woods.  The full moon was shining
brightly, and the air was crisply cold.  What a night for a walk! 
And then suddenly came the thought, "Why not?"  Suppose I stole
softly away, suppose I made my way down to the central lake,
suppose I was back at breakfast with some record of the place--
would I not in that case be thought an even more worthy associate? 
Then, if Summerlee carried the day and some means of escape were
found, we should return to London with first-hand knowledge of
 the central mystery of the plateau, to which I alone, of all
men, would have penetrated.  I thought of Gladys, with her "There
are heroisms all round us."  I seemed to hear her voice as she
said it.  I thought also of McArdle.  What a three column article
for the paper!  What a foundation for a career!  A correspondentship
in the next great war might be within my reach.  I clutched at a
gun--my pockets were full of cartridges--and, parting the thorn
bushes at the gate of our zareba, quickly slipped out.  My last
glance showed me the unconscious Summerlee, most futile of
sentinels, still nodding away like a queer mechanical toy in front
of the smouldering fire.

I had not gone a hundred yards before I deeply repented my rashness. 
I may have said somewhere in this chronicle that I am too
imaginative to be a really courageous man, but that I have an
overpowering fear of seeming afraid.  This was the power which
now carried me onwards.  I simply could not slink back with
nothing done.  Even if my comrades should not have missed me, and
should never know of my weakness, there would still remain some
intolerable self-shame in my own soul.  And yet I shuddered at
the position in which I found myself, and would have given all I
possessed at that moment to have been honorably free of the
whole business.

It was dreadful in the forest.  The trees grew so thickly and
their foliage spread so widely that I could see nothing of the
moon-light save that here and there the high branches made a
tangled filigree against the starry sky.  As the eyes became more
used to the obscurity one learned that there were different
degrees of darkness among the trees--that some were dimly
visible, while between and among them there were coal-black
shadowed patches, like the mouths of caves, from which I shrank
in horror as I passed.  I thought of the despairing yell of the
tortured iguanodon--that dreadful cry which had echoed through
the woods.  I thought, too, of the glimpse I had in the light of
Lord John's torch of that bloated, warty, blood-slavering muzzle. 
Even now I was on its hunting-ground.  At any instant it might
spring upon me from the shadows--this nameless and horrible monster. 
I stopped, and, picking a cartridge from my pocket, I opened the
breech of my gun.  As I touched the lever my heart leaped within me. 
It was the shot-gun, not the rifle, which I had taken!

Again the impulse to return swept over me.  Here, surely, was a
most excellent reason for my failure--one for which no one would
think the less of me.  But again the foolish pride fought against
that very word.  I could not--must not--fail.  After all, my
rifle would probably have been as useless as a shot-gun against
such dangers as I might meet.  If I were to go back to camp to
change my weapon I could hardly expect to enter and to leave
again without being seen.  In that case there would be
explanations, and my attempt would no longer be all my own. 
After a little hesitation, then, I screwed up my courage and
continued upon my way, my useless gun under my arm.

The darkness of the forest had been alarming, but even worse
was the white, still flood of moonlight in the open glade of
the iguanodons.  Hid among the bushes, I looked out at it.  None of
the great brutes were in sight.  Perhaps the tragedy which had
befallen one of them had driven them from their feeding-ground. 
In the misty, silvery night I could see no sign of any living thing. 
Taking courage, therefore, I slipped rapidly across it, and among
the jungle on the farther side I picked up once again the brook
which was my guide.  It was a cheery companion, gurgling and
chuckling as it ran, like the dear old trout-stream in the West
Country where I have fished at night in my boyhood.  So long as
I followed it down I must come to the lake, and so long as I
followed it back I must come to the camp.  Often I had to lose
sight of it on account of the tangled brush-wood, but I was always
within earshot of its tinkle and splash.

As one descended the slope the woods became thinner, and bushes,
with occasional high trees, took the place of the forest. 
I could make good progress, therefore, and I could see without
being seen.  I passed close to the pterodactyl swamp, and as I
did so, with a dry, crisp, leathery rattle of wings, one of
these great creatures--it was twenty feet at least from tip to
tip--rose up from somewhere near me and soared into the air. 
As it passed across the face of the moon the light shone clearly
through the membranous wings, and it looked like a flying
skeleton against the white, tropical radiance.  I crouched low
among the bushes, for I knew from past experience that with a
single cry the creature could bring a hundred of its loathsome
mates about my ears.  It was not until it had settled again that
I dared to steal onwards upon my journey.

The night had been exceedingly still, but as I advanced I became
conscious of a low, rumbling sound, a continuous murmur,
somewhere in front of me.  This grew louder as I proceeded, until
at last it was clearly quite close to me.  When I stood still
the sound was constant, so that it seemed to come from some
stationary cause.  It was like a boiling kettle or the bubbling
of some great pot.  Soon I came upon the source of it, for in the
center of a small clearing I found a lake--or a pool, rather,
for it was not larger than the basin of the Trafalgar Square
fountain--of some black, pitch-like stuff, the surface of which
rose and fell in great blisters of bursting gas.  The air above
it was shimmering with heat, and the ground round was so hot that
I could hardly bear to lay my hand on it.  It was clear that the
great volcanic outburst which had raised this strange plateau so
many years ago had not yet entirely spent its forces.  Blackened rocks
and mounds of lava I had already seen everywhere peeping out from
amid the luxuriant vegetation which draped them, but this asphalt
pool in the jungle was the first sign that we had of actual
existing activity on the slopes of the ancient crater.  I had no
time to examine it further for I had need to hurry if I were to be
back in camp in the morning.

It was a fearsome walk, and one which will be with me so long as
memory holds.  In the great moonlight clearings I slunk along
among the shadows on the margin.  In the jungle I crept forward,
stopping with a beating heart whenever I heard, as I often did,
the crash of breaking branches as some wild beast went past. 
Now and then great shadows loomed up for an instant and were
gone--great, silent shadows which seemed to prowl upon padded feet. 
How often I stopped with the intention of returning, and yet every
time my pride conquered my fear, and sent me on again until my
object should be attained.

At last (my watch showed that it was one in the morning) I saw
the gleam of water amid the openings of the jungle, and ten
minutes later I was among the reeds upon the borders of the
central lake.  I was exceedingly dry, so I lay down and took a
long draught of its waters, which were fresh and cold.  There was
a broad pathway with many tracks upon it at the spot which I had
found, so that it was clearly one of the drinking-places of
the animals.  Close to the water's edge there was a huge isolated
block of lava.  Up this I climbed, and, lying on the top, I had
an excellent view in every direction.

The first thing which I saw filled me with amazement.  When I
described the view from the summit of the great tree, I said that
on the farther cliff I could see a number of dark spots, which
appeared to be the mouths of caves.  Now, as I looked up at the
same cliffs, I saw discs of light in every direction, ruddy,
clearly-defined patches, like the port-holes of a liner in
the darkness.  For a moment I thought it was the lava-glow from
some volcanic action; but this could not be so.  Any volcanic action
would surely be down in the hollow and not high among the rocks. 
What, then, was the alternative?  It was wonderful, and yet it
must surely be.  These ruddy spots must be the reflection of
fires within the caves--fires which could only be lit by the
hand of man.  There were human beings, then, upon the plateau. 
How gloriously my expedition was justified!  Here was news indeed
for us to bear back with us to London!

For a long time I lay and watched these red, quivering blotches
of light.  I suppose they were ten miles off from me, yet even
at that distance one could observe how, from time to time, they
twinkled or were obscured as someone passed before them.  What would
I not have given to be able to crawl up to them, to peep in, and
to take back some word to my comrades as to the appearance and
character of the race who lived in so strange a place!  It was
out of the question for the moment, and yet surely we could not
leave the plateau until we had some definite knowledge upon the point.

Lake Gladys--my own lake--lay like a sheet of quicksilver before
me, with a reflected moon shining brightly in the center of it. 
It was shallow, for in many places I saw low sandbanks protruding
above the water.  Everywhere upon the still surface I could see
signs of life, sometimes mere rings and ripples in the water,
sometimes the gleam of a great silver-sided fish in the air,
sometimes the arched, slate-colored back of some passing monster. 
Once upon a yellow sandbank I saw a creature like a huge swan,
with a clumsy body and a high, flexible neck, shuffling about
upon the margin.  Presently it plunged in, and for some time I
could see the arched neck and darting head undulating over the water. 
Then it dived, and I saw it no more.

My attention was soon drawn away from these distant sights and
brought back to what was going on at my very feet.  Two creatures
like large armadillos had come down to the drinking-place, and
were squatting at the edge of the water, their long, flexible
tongues like red ribbons shooting in and out as they lapped. 
A huge deer, with branching horns, a magnificent creature which
carried itself like a king, came down with its doe and two fawns
and drank beside the armadillos.  No such deer exist anywhere
else upon earth, for the moose or elks which I have seen would
hardly have reached its shoulders.  Presently it gave a warning
snort, and was off with its family among the reeds, while the
armadillos also scuttled for shelter.  A new-comer, a most
monstrous animal, was coming down the path.

For a moment I wondered where I could have seen that ungainly
shape, that arched back with triangular fringes along it, that
strange bird-like head held close to the ground.  Then it came
back, to me.  It was the stegosaurus--the very creature which
Maple White had preserved in his sketch-book, and which had been
the first object which arrested the attention of Challenger!
There he was--perhaps the very specimen which the American artist
had encountered.  The ground shook beneath his tremendous weight,
and his gulpings of water resounded through the still night. 
For five minutes he was so close to my rock that by stretching out
my hand I could have touched the hideous waving hackles upon his back. 
Then he lumbered away and was lost among the boulders.

Looking at my watch, I saw that it was half-past two o'clock, and
high time, therefore, that I started upon my homeward journey. 
There was no difficulty about the direction in which I should
return for all along I had kept the little brook upon my left,
and it opened into the central lake within a stone's-throw of the
boulder upon which I had been lying.  I set off, therefore, in
high spirits, for I felt that I had done good work and was
bringing back a fine budget of news for my companions.  Foremost of
all, of course, were the sight of the fiery caves and the certainty
that some troglodytic race inhabited them.  But besides that I
could speak from experience of the central lake.  I could testify
that it was full of strange creatures, and I had seen several
land forms of primeval life which we had not before encountered. 
I reflected as I walked that few men in the world could have spent
a stranger night or added more to human knowledge in the course of it.

I was plodding up the slope, turning these thoughts over in my
mind, and had reached a point which may have been half-way to
home, when my mind was brought back to my own position by a
strange noise behind me.  It was something between a snore and
a growl, low, deep, and exceedingly menacing.  Some strange
creature was evidently near me, but nothing could be seen, so I
hastened more rapidly upon my way.  I had traversed half a mile
or so when suddenly the sound was repeated, still behind me, but
louder and more menacing than before.  My heart stood still
within me as it flashed across me that the beast, whatever it
was, must surely be after ME.   My skin grew cold and my hair
rose at the thought.  That these monsters should tear each other
to pieces was a part of the strange struggle for existence,
but that they should turn upon modern man, that they should
deliberately track and hunt down the predominant human, was a
staggering and fearsome thought.  I remembered again the
blood-beslobbered face which we had seen in the glare of Lord
John's torch, like some horrible vision from the deepest circle
of Dante's hell.  With my knees shaking beneath me, I stood and
glared with starting eyes down the moonlit path which lay behind me. 
All was quiet as in a dream landscape.  Silver clearings and the
black patches of the bushes--nothing else could I see.  Then from
out of the silence, imminent and threatening, there came once more
that low, throaty croaking, far louder and closer than before. 
There could no longer be a doubt.  Something was on my trail, and
was closing in upon me every minute.

I stood like a man paralyzed, still staring at the ground which I
had traversed.  Then suddenly I saw it.  There was movement among
the bushes at the far end of the clearing which I had just traversed. 
A great dark shadow disengaged itself and hopped out into the clear
moonlight.  I say "hopped" advisedly, for the beast moved like a
kangaroo, springing along in an erect position upon its powerful
hind legs, while its front ones were held bent in front of it. 
It was of enormous size and power, like an erect elephant, but its
movements, in spite of its bulk, were exceedingly alert.  For a
moment, as I saw its shape, I hoped that it was an iguanodon,
which I knew to be harmless, but, ignorant as I was, I soon saw
that this was a very different creature.  Instead of the gentle,
deer-shaped head of the great three-toed leaf-eater, this beast
had a broad, squat, toad-like face like that which had alarmed us
in our camp.  His ferocious cry and the horrible energy of his
pursuit both assured me that this was surely one of the great
flesh-eating dinosaurs, the most terrible beasts which have ever
walked this earth.  As the huge brute loped along it dropped forward
upon its fore-paws and brought its nose to the ground every twenty
yards or so.  It was smelling out my trail.  Sometimes, for an
instant, it was at fault.  Then it would catch it up again and
come bounding swiftly along the path I had taken.

Even now when I think of that nightmare the sweat breaks out upon
my brow.  What could I do?  My useless fowling-piece was in my hand. 
What help could I get from that?  I looked desperately round for
some rock or tree, but I was in a bushy jungle with nothing higher
than a sapling within sight, while I knew that the creature behind
me could tear down an ordinary tree as though it were a reed. 
My only possible chance lay in flight.  I could not move swiftly
over the rough, broken ground, but as I looked round me in despair
I saw a well-marked, hard-beaten path which ran across in front
of me.  We had seen several of the sort, the runs of various wild
beasts, during our expeditions.  Along this I could perhaps hold
my own, for I was a fast runner, and in excellent condition. 
Flinging away my useless gun, I set myself to do such a half-mile
as I have never done before or since.  My limbs ached, my chest
heaved, I felt that my throat would burst for want of air, and yet
with that horror behind me I ran and I ran and ran.  At last I
paused, hardly able to move.  For a moment I thought that I had
thrown him off.  The path lay still behind me.  And then suddenly,
with a crashing and a rending, a thudding of giant feet and a
panting of monster lungs the beast was upon me once more.  He was
at my very heels.  I was lost.

Madman that I was to linger so long before I fled!  Up to then he
had hunted by scent, and his movement was slow.  But he had
actually seen me as I started to run.  From then onwards he had
hunted by sight, for the path showed him where I had gone.  Now, as
he came round the curve, he was springing in great bounds. 
The moonlight shone upon his huge projecting eyes, the row of
enormous teeth in his open mouth, and the gleaming fringe of
claws upon his short, powerful forearms.  With a scream of terror
I turned and rushed wildly down the path.  Behind me the thick,
gasping breathing of the creature sounded louder and louder. 
His heavy footfall was beside me.  Every instant I expected to feel
his grip upon my back.  And then suddenly there came a crash--I was
falling through space, and everything beyond was darkness and rest.

As I emerged from my unconsciousness--which could not, I think,
have lasted more than a few minutes--I was aware of a most
dreadful and penetrating smell.  Putting out my hand in the
darkness I came upon something which felt like a huge lump of
meat, while my other hand closed upon a large bone.  Up above me
there was a circle of starlit sky, which showed me that I was
lying at the bottom of a deep pit.  Slowly I staggered to my feet
and felt myself all over.  I was stiff and sore from head to
foot, but there was no limb which would not move, no joint which
would not bend.  As the circumstances of my fall came back into
my confused brain, I looked up in terror, expecting to see that
dreadful head silhouetted against the paling sky.  There was no
sign of the monster, however, nor could I hear any sound from above. 
I began to walk slowly round, therefore, feeling in every direction
to find out what this strange place could be into which I had been
so opportunely precipitated.

It was, as I have said, a pit, with sharply-sloping walls and a
level bottom about twenty feet across.  This bottom was littered
with great gobbets of flesh, most of which was in the last state
of putridity.  The atmosphere was poisonous and horrible. 
After tripping and stumbling over these lumps of decay, I came
suddenly against something hard, and I found that an upright post
was firmly fixed in the center of the hollow.  It was so high that
I could not reach the top of it with my hand, and it appeared to be
covered with grease.

Suddenly I remembered that I had a tin box of wax-vestas in
my pocket.  Striking one of them, I was able at last to form some
opinion of this place into which I had fallen.  There could be no
question as to its nature.  It was a trap--made by the hand of man. 
The post in the center, some nine feet long, was sharpened
at the upper end, and was black with the stale blood of the
creatures who had been impaled upon it.  The remains scattered
about were fragments of the victims, which had been cut away in
order to clear the stake for the next who might blunder in. 
I remembered that Challenger had declared that man could not exist
upon the plateau, since with his feeble weapons he could not hold
his own against the monsters who roamed over it.  But now it was
clear enough how it could be done.  In their narrow-mouthed caves
the natives, whoever they might be, had refuges into which the
huge saurians could not penetrate, while with their developed
brains they were capable of setting such traps, covered with
branches, across the paths which marked the run of the animals as
would destroy them in spite of all their strength and activity. 
Man was always the master.

The sloping wall of the pit was not difficult for an active man
to climb, but I hesitated long before I trusted myself within
reach of the dreadful creature which had so nearly destroyed me. 
How did I know that he was not lurking in the nearest clump of
bushes, waiting for my reappearance?  I took heart, however, as I
recalled a conversation between Challenger and Summerlee upon the
habits of the great saurians.  Both were agreed that the monsters
were practically brainless, that there was no room for reason in
their tiny cranial cavities, and that if they have disappeared
from the rest of the world it was assuredly on account of their
own stupidity, which made it impossible for them to adapt
themselves to changing conditions.

To lie in wait for me now would mean that the creature had
appreciated what had happened to me, and this in turn would argue
some power connecting cause and effect.  Surely it was more
likely that a brainless creature, acting solely by vague
predatory instinct, would give up the chase when I disappeared,
and, after a pause of astonishment, would wander away in search
of some other prey?  I clambered to the edge of the pit and
looked over.  The stars were fading, the sky was whitening, and
the cold wind of morning blew pleasantly upon my face.  I could
see or hear nothing of my enemy.  Slowly I climbed out and sat for
a while upon the ground, ready to spring back into my refuge if any
danger should appear.  Then, reassured by the absolute stillness
and by the growing light, I took my courage in both hands and
stole back along the path which I had come.  Some distance down
it I picked up my gun, and shortly afterwards struck the brook
which was my guide.  So, with many a frightened backward glance,
I made for home.

And suddenly there came something to remind me of my absent companions. 
In the clear, still morning air there sounded far away the sharp,
hard note of a single rifle-shot.  I paused and listened, but
there was nothing more.  For a moment I was shocked at the thought
that some sudden danger might have befallen them.  But then a
simpler and more natural explanation came to my mind.  It was now
broad daylight.  No doubt my absence had been noticed.  They had
imagined, that I was lost in the woods, and had fired this shot
to guide me home.  It is true that we had made a strict resolution
against firing, but if it seemed to them that I might be in danger
they would not hesitate.  It was for me now to hurry on as fast as
possible, and so to reassure them.

I was weary and spent, so my progress was not so fast as I
wished; but at last I came into regions which I knew.  There was
the swamp of the pterodactyls upon my left; there in front of me
was the glade of the iguanodons.  Now I was in the last belt of
trees which separated me from Fort Challenger.  I raised my voice
in a cheery shout to allay their fears.  No answering greeting
came back to me.  My heart sank at that ominous stillness. 
I quickened my pace into a run.  The zareba rose before me, even
as I had left it, but the gate was open.  I rushed in.  In the cold,
morning light it was a fearful sight which met my eyes.  Our effects
were scattered in wild confusion over the ground; my comrades had
disappeared, and close to the smouldering ashes of our fire the
grass was stained crimson with a hideous pool of blood.

I was so stunned by this sudden shock that for a time I must
have nearly lost my reason.  I have a vague recollection, as
one remembers a bad dream, of rushing about through the woods
all round the empty camp, calling wildly for my companions. 
No answer came back from the silent shadows.  The horrible
thought that I might never see them again, that I might find
myself abandoned all alone in that dreadful place, with no
possible way of descending into the world below, that I might
live and die in that nightmare country, drove me to desperation. 
I could have torn my hair and beaten my head in my despair. 
Only now did I realize how I had learned to lean upon my
companions, upon the serene self-confidence of Challenger,
and upon the masterful, humorous coolness of Lord John Roxton. 
Without them I was like a child in the dark, helpless and powerless. 
I did not know which way to turn or what I should do first.

After a period, during which I sat in bewilderment, I set myself
to try and discover what sudden misfortune could have befallen
my companions.  The whole disordered appearance of the camp
showed that there had been some sort of attack, and the rifle-
shot no doubt marked the time when it had occurred.  That there
should have been only one shot showed that it had been all over
in an instant.  The rifles still lay upon the ground, and one
of them--Lord John's--had the empty cartridge in the breech. 
The blankets of Challenger and of Summerlee beside the fire
suggested that they had been asleep at the time.  The cases of
ammunition and of food were scattered about in a wild litter,
together with our unfortunate cameras and plate-carriers, but
none of them were missing.  On the other hand, all the exposed
provisions--and I remembered that there were a considerable
quantity of them--were gone.  They were animals, then, and not
natives, who had made the inroad, for surely the latter would
have left nothing behind.

But if animals, or some single terrible animal, then what had
become of my comrades?  A ferocious beast would surely have
destroyed them and left their remains.  It is true that there was
that one hideous pool of blood, which told of violence.  Such a
monster as had pursued me during the night could have carried
away a victim as easily as a cat would a mouse.  In that case the
others would have followed in pursuit.  But then they would
assuredly have taken their rifles with them.  The more I tried to
think it out with my confused and weary brain the less could I
find any plausible explanation.  I searched round in the forest,
but could see no tracks which could help me to a conclusion. 
Once I lost myself, and it was only by good luck, and after an
hour of wandering, that I found the camp once more.

Suddenly a thought came to me and brought some little comfort to
my heart.  I was not absolutely alone in the world.  Down at the
bottom of the cliff, and within call of me, was waiting the
faithful Zambo.  I went to the edge of the plateau and looked over. 
Sure enough, he was squatting among his blankets beside his fire
in his little camp.  But, to my amazement, a second man was seated
in front of him.  For an instant my heart leaped for joy, as I
thought that one of my comrades had made his way safely down. 
But a second glance dispelled the hope.  The rising sun shone
red upon the man's skin.  He was an Indian.  I shouted loudly
and waved my handkerchief.  Presently Zambo looked up, waved his
hand, and turned to ascend the pinnacle.  In a short time he was
standing close to me and listening with deep distress to the story
which I told him.

"Devil got them for sure, Massa Malone," said he.  "You got
into the devil's country, sah, and he take you all to himself. 
You take advice, Massa Malone, and come down quick, else he get
you as well."

"How can I come down, Zambo?"

"You get creepers from trees, Massa Malone.  Throw them over here. 
I make fast to this stump, and so you have bridge."

"We have thought of that.  There are no creepers here which could
bear us."

"Send for ropes, Massa Malone."

"Who can I send, and where?"

"Send to Indian villages, sah.  Plenty hide rope in Indian village. 
Indian down below; send him."

"Who is he?

"One of our Indians.  Other ones beat him and take away his pay. 
He come back to us.  Ready now to take letter, bring rope,--anything."

To take a letter!  Why not?  Perhaps he might bring help; but
in any case he would ensure that our lives were not spent for
nothing, and that news of all that we had won for Science
should reach our friends at home.  I had two completed letters
already waiting.  I would spend the day in writing a third, which
would bring my experiences absolutely up to date.  The Indian could
bear this back to the world.  I ordered Zambo, therefore, to come
again in the evening, and I spent my miserable and lonely day in
recording my own adventures of the night before.  I also drew up
a note, to be given to any white merchant or captain of a
steam-boat whom the Indian could find, imploring them to see that
ropes were sent to us, since our lives must depend upon it. 
These documents I threw to Zambo in the evening, and also my
purse, which contained three English sovereigns.  These were to
be given to the Indian, and he was promised twice as much if he
returned with the ropes.

So now you will understand, my dear Mr. McArdle, how this
communication reaches you, and you will also know the truth, in
case you never hear again from your unfortunate correspondent. 
To-night I am too weary and too depressed to make my plans. 
To-morrow I must think out some way by which I shall keep in
touch with this camp, and yet search round for any traces of my
unhappy friends.

                           CHAPTER XIII

               "A Sight which I shall Never Forget"

Just as the sun was setting upon that melancholy night I saw the
lonely figure of the Indian upon the vast plain beneath me, and I
watched him, our one faint hope of salvation, until he disappeared
in the rising mists of evening which lay, rose-tinted from the
setting sun, between the far-off river and me.

It was quite dark when I at last turned back to our stricken
camp, and my last vision as I went was the red gleam of Zambo's
fire, the one point of light in the wide world below, as was
his faithful presence in my own shadowed soul.  And yet I felt
happier than I had done since this crushing blow had fallen upon
me, for it was good to think that the world should know what we
had done, so that at the worst our names should not perish with
our bodies, but should go down to posterity associated with the
result of our labors.

It was an awesome thing to sleep in that ill-fated camp; and yet
it was even more unnerving to do so in the jungle.  One or the
other it must be.  Prudence, on the one hand, warned me that I
should remain on guard, but exhausted Nature, on the other,
declared that I should do nothing of the kind.  I climbed up on
to a limb of the great gingko tree, but there was no secure perch
on its rounded surface, and I should certainly have fallen off
and broken my neck the moment I began to doze.  I got down,
therefore, and pondered over what I should do.  Finally, I closed
the door of the zareba, lit three separate fires in a triangle,
and having eaten a hearty supper dropped off into a profound sleep,
from which I had a strange and most welcome awakening.  In the
early morning, just as day was breaking, a hand was laid upon
my arm, and starting up, with all my nerves in a tingle and my
hand feeling for a rifle, I gave a cry of joy as in the cold gray
light I saw Lord John Roxton kneeling beside me.

It was he--and yet it was not he.  I had left him calm in his
bearing, correct in his person, prim in his dress.  Now he was
pale and wild-eyed, gasping as he breathed like one who has run
far and fast.  His gaunt face was scratched and bloody, his
clothes were hanging in rags, and his hat was gone.  I stared in
amazement, but he gave me no chance for questions.  He was
grabbing at our stores all the time he spoke.

"Quick, young fellah!  Quick!" he cried.  "Every moment counts. 
Get the rifles, both of them.  I have the other two.  Now, all the
cartridges you can gather.  Fill up your pockets.  Now, some food. 
Half a dozen tins will do.  That's all right!  Don't wait to talk
or think.  Get a move on, or we are done!"

Still half-awake, and unable to imagine what it all might mean, I
found myself hurrying madly after him through the wood, a rifle
under each arm and a pile of various stores in my hands.  He dodged
in and out through the thickest of the scrub until he came to a
dense clump of brush-wood.  Into this he rushed, regardless of
thorns, and threw himself into the heart of it, pulling me down
by his side.

"There!" he panted.  "I think we are safe here.  They'll make for
the camp as sure as fate.  It will be their first idea.  But this
should puzzle 'em."

"What is it all?" I asked, when I had got my breath.  "Where are
the professors?  And who is it that is after us?"

"The ape-men," he cried.  "My God, what brutes!  Don't raise your
voice, for they have long ears--sharp eyes, too, but no power of
scent, so far as I could judge, so I don't think they can sniff
us out.  Where have you been, young fellah?  You were well out of it."

In a few sentences I whispered what I had done.

"Pretty bad," said he, when he had heard of the dinosaur and the pit. 
"It isn't quite the place for a rest cure.  What?  But I had no idea
what its possibilities were until those devils got hold of us. 
The man-eatin' Papuans had me once, but they are Chesterfields
compared to this crowd."

"How did it happen?" I asked.

"It was in the early mornin'.  Our learned friends were just stirrin'. 
Hadn't even begun to argue yet.  Suddenly it rained apes.  They came
down as thick as apples out of a tree.  They had been assemblin'
in the dark, I suppose, until that great tree over our heads was
heavy with them.  I shot one of them through the belly, but before
we knew where we were they had us spread-eagled on our backs.  I call
them apes, but they carried sticks and stones in their hands and
jabbered talk to each other, and ended up by tyin' our hands with
creepers, so they are ahead of any beast that I have seen in
my wanderin's.  Ape-men--that's what they are--Missin' Links, and
I wish they had stayed missin'.  They carried off their wounded
comrade--he was bleedin' like a pig--and then they sat around us,
and if ever I saw frozen murder it was in their faces.  They were
big fellows, as big as a man and a deal stronger.  Curious glassy
gray eyes they have, under red tufts, and they just sat and gloated
and gloated.  Challenger is no chicken, but even he was cowed. 
He managed to struggle to his feet, and yelled out at them to have
done with it and get it over.  I think he had gone a bit off his
head at the suddenness of it, for he raged and cursed at them
like a lunatic.  If they had been a row of his favorite Pressmen
he could not have slanged them worse."

"Well, what did they do?"  I was enthralled by the strange story
which my companion was whispering into my ear, while all the time
his keen eyes were shooting in every direction and his hand
grasping his cocked rifle.

"I thought it was the end of us, but instead of that it started
them on a new line.  They all jabbered and chattered together. 
Then one of them stood out beside Challenger.  You'll smile,
young fellah, but 'pon my word they might have been kinsmen. 
I couldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. 
This old ape-man--he was their chief--was a sort of red Challenger,
with every one of our friend's beauty points, only just a trifle
more so.  He had the short body, the big shoulders, the round chest,
no neck, a great ruddy frill of a beard, the tufted eyebrows,
the `What do you want, damn you!' look about the eyes, and the
whole catalogue.  When the ape-man stood by Challenger and put his
paw on his shoulder, the thing was complete.  Summerlee was a bit
hysterical, and he laughed till he cried.  The ape-men laughed too--
or at least they put up the devil of a cacklin'--and they set to
work to drag us off through the forest.  They wouldn't touch the
guns and things--thought them dangerous, I expect--but they carried
away all our loose food.  Summerlee and I got some rough handlin'
on the way--there's my skin and my clothes to prove it--for they
took us a bee-line through the brambles, and their own hides are
like leather.  But Challenger was all right.  Four of them carried
him shoulder high, and he went like a Roman emperor.  What's that?"

It was a strange clicking noise in the distance not unlike castanets.

"There they go!" said my companion, slipping cartridges into the
second double barrelled "Express."  "Load them all up, young
fellah my lad, for we're not going to be taken alive, and don't
you think it!  That's the row they make when they are excited. 
By George! they'll have something to excite them if they put us up. 
The `Last Stand of the Grays' won't be in it.   `With their
rifles grasped in their stiffened hands, mid a ring of the dead
and dyin',' as some fathead sings.  Can you hear them now?"

"Very far away."

"That little lot will do no good, but I expect their search
parties are all over the wood.  Well, I was telling you my tale
of woe.  They got us soon to this town of theirs--about a
thousand huts of branches and leaves in a great grove of trees
near the edge of the cliff.  It's three or four miles from here. 
The filthy beasts fingered me all over, and I feel as if I should
never be clean again.  They tied us up--the fellow who handled me
could tie like a bosun--and there we lay with our toes up,
beneath a tree, while a great brute stood guard over us with a
club in his hand.  When I say `we' I mean Summerlee and myself. 
Old Challenger was up a tree, eatin' pines and havin' the time of
his life.  I'm bound to say that he managed to get some fruit to
us, and with his own hands he loosened our bonds.  If you'd seen
him sitting up in that tree hob-nobbin' with his twin
brother--and singin' in that rollin' bass of his, `Ring out, wild
bells,' cause music of any kind seemed to put 'em in a good
humor, you'd have smiled; but we weren't in much mood for
laughin', as you can guess.  They were inclined, within limits,
to let him do what he liked, but they drew the line pretty
sharply at us.  It was a mighty consolation to us all to know
that you were runnin' loose and had the archives in your keepin'.

"Well, now, young fellah, I'll tell you what will surprise you. 
You say you saw signs of men, and fires, traps, and the like. 
Well, we have seen the natives themselves.  Poor devils they
were, down-faced little chaps, and had enough to make them so. 
It seems that the humans hold one side of this plateau--over
yonder, where you saw the caves--and the ape-men hold this side,
and there is bloody war between them all the time.  That's the
situation, so far as I could follow it.  Well, yesterday the
ape-men got hold of a dozen of the humans and brought them in
as prisoners.  You never heard such a jabberin' and shriekin' in
your life.  The men were little red fellows, and had been bitten
and clawed so that they could hardly walk.  The ape-men put two
of them to death there and then--fairly pulled the arm off one of
them--it was perfectly beastly.  Plucky little chaps they are,
and hardly gave a squeak.  But it turned us absolutely sick. 
Summerlee fainted, and even Challenger had as much as he could stand. 
I think they have cleared, don't you?"

We listened intently, but nothing save the calling of the birds broke
the deep peace of the forest.  Lord Roxton went on with his story.

"I Think you have had the escape of your life, young fellah my lad. 
It was catchin' those Indians that put you clean out of their heads,
else they would have been back to the camp for you as sure as fate
and gathered you in.  Of course, as you said, they have been watchin'
us from the beginnin' out of that tree, and they knew perfectly well
that we were one short.  However, they could think only of this new
haul; so it was I, and not a bunch of apes, that dropped in on you
in the morning.  Well, we had a horrid business afterwards.  My God!
what a nightmare the whole thing is!  You remember the great bristle
of sharp canes down below where we found the skeleton of the American? 
Well, that is just under ape-town, and that's the jumpin'-off place
of their prisoners.  I expect there's heaps of skeletons there, if
we looked for 'em.  They have a sort of clear parade-ground on
the top, and they make a proper ceremony about it.  One by one the
poor devils have to jump, and the game is to see whether they are
merely dashed to pieces or whether they get skewered on the canes. 
They took us out to see it, and the whole tribe lined up on the edge. 
Four of the Indians jumped, and the canes went through 'em like
knittin' needles through a pat of butter.  No wonder we found that
poor Yankee's skeleton with the canes growin' between his ribs. 
It was horrible--but it was doocedly interestin' too.  We were all
fascinated to see them take the dive, even when we thought it would
be our turn next on the spring-board.

"Well, it wasn't.  They kept six of the Indians up for to-day--
that's how I understood it--but I fancy we were to be the
star performers in the show.  Challenger might get off, but
Summerlee and I were in the bill.  Their language is more than
half signs, and it was not hard to follow them.  So I thought it
was time we made a break for it.  I had been plottin' it out a
bit, and had one or two things clear in my mind.  It was all on
me, for Summerlee was useless and Challenger not much better. 
The only time they got together they got slangin' because they
couldn't agree upon the scientific classification of these
red-headed devils that had got hold of us.  One said it was the
dryopithecus of Java, the other said it was pithecanthropus. 
Madness, I call it--Loonies, both.  But, as I say, I had thought
out one or two points that were helpful.  One was that these
brutes could not run as fast as a man in the open.  They have
short, bandy legs, you see, and heavy bodies.  Even Challenger
could give a few yards in a hundred to the best of them, and you
or I would be a perfect Shrubb.  Another point was that they knew
nothin' about guns.  I don't believe they ever understood how the
fellow I shot came by his hurt.  If we could get at our guns
there was no sayin' what we could do.

"So I broke away early this mornin', gave my guard a kick in the
tummy that laid him out, and sprinted for the camp.  There I got
you and the guns, and here we are."

"But the professors!" I cried, in consternation.

"Well, we must just go back and fetch 'em.  I couldn't bring 'em
with me.  Challenger was up the tree, and Summerlee was not fit
for the effort.  The only chance was to get the guns and try
a rescue.  Of course they may scupper them at once in revenge. 
I don't think they would touch Challenger, but I wouldn't answer
for Summerlee.  But they would have had him in any case.  Of that
I am certain.  So I haven't made matters any worse by boltin'. 
But we are honor bound to go back and have them out or see it
through with them.  So you can make up your soul, young fellah my
lad, for it will be one way or the other before evenin'."

I have tried to imitate here Lord Roxton's jerky talk, his short,
strong sentences, the half-humorous, half-reckless tone that ran
through it all.  But he was a born leader.  As danger thickened
his jaunty manner would increase, his speech become more racy,
his cold eyes glitter into ardent life, and his Don Quixote
moustache bristle with joyous excitement.  His love of danger,
his intense appreciation of the drama of an adventure--all the
more intense for being held tightly in--his consistent view that
every peril in life is a form of sport, a fierce game betwixt you
and Fate, with Death as a forfeit, made him a wonderful companion
at such hours.  If it were not for our fears as to the fate of
our companions, it would have been a positive joy to throw myself
with such a man into such an affair.  We were rising from our
brushwood hiding-place when suddenly I felt his grip upon my arm.

"By George!" he whispered, "here they come!"

From where we lay we could look down a brown aisle, arched with
green, formed by the trunks and branches.  Along this a party of
the ape-men were passing.  They went in single file, with bent legs
and rounded backs, their hands occasionally touching the ground,
their heads turning to left and right as they trotted along. 
Their crouching gait took away from their height, but I should
put them at five feet or so, with long arms and enormous chests. 
Many of them carried sticks, and at the distance they looked like
a line of very hairy and deformed human beings.  For a moment I
caught this clear glimpse of them.  Then they were lost among
the bushes.

"Not this time," said Lord John, who had caught up his rifle. 
"Our best chance is to lie quiet until they have given up the search. 
Then we shall see whether we can't get back to their town and hit
'em where it hurts most.  Give 'em an hour and we'll march."

We filled in the time by opening one of our food tins and making
sure of our breakfast.  Lord Roxton had had nothing but some
fruit since the morning before and ate like a starving man. 
Then, at last, our pockets bulging with cartridges and a rifle in
each hand, we started off upon our mission of rescue.  Before leaving
it we carefully marked our little hiding-place among the brush-wood
and its bearing to Fort Challenger, that we might find it again if
we needed it.  We slunk through the bushes in silence until we came
to the very edge of the cliff, close to the old camp.  There we
halted, and Lord John gave me some idea of his plans.

"So long as we are among the thick trees these swine are our
masters, said he.  They can see us and we cannot see them.  But in
the open it is different.  There we can move faster than they. 
So we must stick to the open all we can.  The edge of the plateau
has fewer large trees than further inland.  So that's our line
of advance.  Go slowly, keep your eyes open and your rifle ready. 
Above all, never let them get you prisoner while there is a
cartridge left--that's my last word to you, young fellah."

When we reached the edge of the cliff I looked over and saw our
good old black Zambo sitting smoking on a rock below us.  I would
have given a great deal to have hailed him and told him how we
were placed, but it was too dangerous, lest we should be heard. 
The woods seemed to be full of the ape-men; again and again we
heard their curious clicking chatter.  At such times we plunged
into the nearest clump of bushes and lay still until the sound
had passed away.  Our advance, therefore, was very slow, and two
hours at least must have passed before I saw by Lord John's
cautious movements that we must be close to our destination. 
He motioned to me to lie still, and he crawled forward himself. 
In a minute he was back again, his face quivering with eagerness.

"Come!" said he.  "Come quick! I hope to the Lord we are not too
late already!

I found myself shaking with nervous excitement as I scrambled
forward and lay down beside him, looking out through the bushes
at a clearing which stretched before us.

It was a sight which I shall never forget until my dying day--so
weird, so impossible, that I do not know how I am to make you
realize it, or how in a few years I shall bring myself to believe
in it if I live to sit once more on a lounge in the Savage Club
and look out on the drab solidity of the Embankment.  I know that
it will seem then to be some wild nightmare, some delirium of fever. 
Yet I will set it down now, while it is still fresh in my memory,
and one at least, the man who lay in the damp grasses by my side,
will know if I have lied.

A wide, open space lay before us--some hundreds of yards
across--all green turf and low bracken growing to the very edge
of the cliff.  Round this clearing there was a semi-circle of
trees with curious huts built of foliage piled one above the
other among the branches.  A rookery, with every nest a little
house, would best convey the idea.  The openings of these huts
and the branches of the trees were thronged with a dense mob of
ape-people, whom from their size I took to be the females and
infants of the tribe.  They formed the background of the picture,
and were all looking out with eager interest at the same scene
which fascinated and bewildered us.

In the open, and near the edge of the cliff, there had assembled
a crowd of some hundred of these shaggy, red-haired creatures,
many of them of immense size, and all of them horrible to look upon. 
There was a certain discipline among them, for none of them
attempted to break the line which had been formed.  In front
there stood a small group of Indians--little, clean-limbed, red
fellows, whose skins glowed like polished bronze in the strong sunlight. 
A tall, thin white man was standing beside them, his head bowed,
his arms folded, his whole attitude expressive of his horror
and dejection.  There was no mistaking the angular form of
Professor Summerlee.

In front of and around this dejected group of prisoners were several
ape-men, who watched them closely and made all escape impossible. 
Then, right out from all the others and close to the edge of the
cliff, were two figures, so strange, and under other circumstances
so ludicrous, that they absorbed my attention.  The one was our
comrade, Professor Challenger.  The remains of his coat still hung
in strips from his shoulders, but his shirt had been all torn out,
and his great beard merged itself in the black tangle which
covered his mighty chest.  He had lost his hat, and his hair,
which had grown long in our wanderings, was flying in wild disorder. 
A single day seemed to have changed him from the highest product
of modern civilization to the most desperate savage in South America. 
Beside him stood his master, the king of the ape-men.  In all things
he was, as Lord John had said, the very image of our Professor,
save that his coloring was red instead of black.  The same short,
broad figure, the same heavy shoulders, the same forward hang of
the arms, the same bristling beard merging itself in the hairy chest. 
Only above the eyebrows, where the sloping forehead and low, curved
skull of the ape-man were in sharp contrast to the broad brow and
magnificent cranium of the European, could one see any marked difference. 
At every other point the king was an absurd parody of the Professor.

All this, which takes me so long to describe, impressed itself
upon me in a few seconds.  Then we had very different things to
think of, for an active drama was in progress.  Two of the
ape-men had seized one of the Indians out of the group and
dragged him forward to the edge of the cliff.  The king raised
his hand as a signal.  They caught the man by his leg and arm, and
swung him three times backwards and forwards with tremendous violence. 
Then, with a frightful heave they shot the poor wretch over
the precipice.  With such force did they throw him that he curved
high in the air before beginning to drop.  As he vanished from sight,
the whole assembly, except the guards, rushed forward to the edge
of the precipice, and there was a long pause of absolute silence,
broken by a mad yell of delight.  They sprang about, tossing their
long, hairy arms in the air and howling with exultation.  Then they
fell back from the edge, formed themselves again into line, and
waited for the next victim.

This time it was Summerlee.  Two of his guards caught him by the
wrists and pulled him brutally to the front.  His thin figure and
long limbs struggled and fluttered like a chicken being dragged
from a coop.  Challenger had turned to the king and waved his
hands frantically before him.  He was begging, pleading,
imploring for his comrade's life.  The ape-man pushed him roughly
aside and shook his head.  It was the last conscious movement he
was to make upon earth.  Lord John's rifle cracked, and the king
sank down, a tangled red sprawling thing, upon the ground.

"Shoot into the thick of them!  Shoot! sonny, shoot!" cried
my companion.

There are strange red depths in the soul of the most commonplace man. 
I am tenderhearted by nature, and have found my eyes moist many a
time over the scream of a wounded hare.  Yet the blood lust was on
me now.  I found myself on my feet emptying one magazine, then the
other, clicking open the breech to re-load, snapping it to again,
while cheering and yelling with pure ferocity and joy of slaughter
as I did so.  With our four guns the two of us made a horrible havoc. 
Both the guards who held Summerlee were down, and he was staggering
about like a drunken man in his amazement, unable to realize that
he was a free man.  The dense mob of ape-men ran about in
bewilderment, marveling whence this storm of death was coming or
what it might mean.  They waved, gesticulated, screamed, and tripped
up over those who had fallen.  Then, with a sudden impulse, they all
rushed in a howling crowd to the trees for shelter, leaving the
ground behind them spotted with their stricken comrades.  The prisoners
were left for the moment standing alone in the middle of the clearing.

Challenger's quick brain had grasped the situation.  He seized
the bewildered Summerlee by the arm, and they both ran towards us. 
Two of their guards bounded after them and fell to two bullets
from Lord John.  We ran forward into the open to meet our friends,
and pressed a loaded rifle into the hands of each.  But Summerlee
was at the end of his strength.  He could hardly totter. 
Already the ape-men were recovering from their panic.  They were
coming through the brushwood and threatening to cut us off. 
Challenger and I ran Summerlee along, one at each of his
elbows, while Lord John covered our retreat, firing again and
again as savage heads snarled at us out of the bushes.  For a
mile or more the chattering brutes were at our very heels. 
Then the pursuit slackened, for they learned our power and would
no longer face that unerring rifle.  When we had at last reached
the camp, we looked back and found ourselves alone.

So it seemed to us; and yet we were mistaken.  We had hardly
closed the thornbush door of our zareba, clasped each other's
hands, and thrown ourselves panting upon the ground beside our
spring, when we heard a patter of feet and then a gentle,
plaintive crying from outside our entrance.  Lord Roxton rushed
forward, rifle in hand, and threw it open.  There, prostrate upon
their faces, lay the little red figures of the four surviving
Indians, trembling with fear of us and yet imploring our protection. 
With an expressive sweep of his hands one of them pointed to the
woods around them, and indicated that they were full of danger. 
Then, darting forward, he threw his arms round Lord John's legs,
and rested his face upon them.

"By George!" cried our peer, pulling at his moustache in great
perplexity, "I say--what the deuce are we to do with these people? 
Get up, little chappie, and take your face off my boots."

Summerlee was sitting up and stuffing some tobacco into his old briar.

"We've got to see them safe," said he.  "You've pulled us all out
of the jaws of death.  My word! it was a good bit of work!"

"Admirable!" cried Challenger.  "Admirable!  Not only we as
individuals, but European science collectively, owe you a deep
debt of gratitude for what you have done.  I do not hesitate to
say that the disappearance of Professor Summerlee and myself
would have left an appreciable gap in modern zoological history. 
Our young friend here and you have done most excellently well."

He beamed at us with the old paternal smile, but European science
would have been somewhat amazed could they have seen their chosen
child, the hope of the future, with his tangled, unkempt head,
his bare chest, and his tattered clothes.  He had one of the
meat-tins between his knees, and sat with a large piece of cold
Australian mutton between his fingers.  The Indian looked up at
him, and then, with a little yelp, cringed to the ground and
clung to Lord John's leg.

"Don't you be scared, my bonnie boy," said Lord John, patting the
matted head in front of him.  "He can't stick your appearance,
Challenger; and, by George! I don't wonder.  All right, little
chap, he's only a human, just the same as the rest of us."

"Really, sir!" cried the Professor.

"Well, it's lucky for you, Challenger, that you ARE a little out
of the ordinary.  If you hadn't been so like the king----"

"Upon my word, Lord John, you allow yourself great latitude."

"Well, it's a fact."

"I beg, sir, that you will change the subject.  Your remarks are
irrelevant and unintelligible.  The question before us is what are
we to do with these Indians?  The obvious thing is to escort them
home, if we knew where their home was."

"There is no difficulty about that," said I.  "They live in
the caves on the other side of the central lake."

"Our young friend here knows where they live.  I gather that it
is some distance."

"A good twenty miles," said I.

Summerlee gave a groan.

"I, for one, could never get there.  Surely I hear those brutes
still howling upon our track."

As he spoke, from the dark recesses of the woods we heard far
away the jabbering cry of the ape-men.  The Indians once more set
up a feeble wail of fear.

"We must move, and move quick!" said Lord John.  "You help
Summerlee, young fellah.  These Indians will carry stores. 
Now, then, come along before they can see us."

In less than half-an-hour we had reached our brushwood retreat
and concealed ourselves.  All day we heard the excited calling of
the ape-men in the direction of our old camp, but none of them
came our way, and the tired fugitives, red and white, had a long,
deep sleep.  I was dozing myself in the evening when someone
plucked my sleeve, and I found Challenger kneeling beside me.

"You keep a diary of these events, and you expect eventually to
publish it, Mr. Malone," said he, with solemnity.

"I am only here as a Press reporter," I answered.

"Exactly.  You may have heard some rather fatuous remarks of
Lord John Roxton's which seemed to imply that there was some--
some resemblance----"

"Yes, I heard them."

"I need not say that any publicity given to such an idea--any
levity in your narrative of what occurred--would be exceedingly
offensive to me."

"I will keep well within the truth."

"Lord John's observations are frequently exceedingly fanciful,
and he is capable of attributing the most absurd reasons to the
respect which is always shown by the most undeveloped races to
dignity and character.  You follow my meaning?"

"Entirely."

"I leave the matter to your discretion."  Then, after a long
pause, he added:  "The king of the ape-men was really a
creature of great distinction--a most remarkably handsome and
intelligent personality.  Did it not strike you?"

"A most remarkable creature," said I.

And the Professor, much eased in his mind, settled down to his
slumber once more.

                           CHAPTER XIV

                "Those Were the Real Conquests"

We had imagined that our pursuers, the ape-men, knew nothing of our
brush-wood hiding-place, but we were soon to find out our mistake. 
There was no sound in the woods--not a leaf moved upon the trees,
and all was peace around us--but we should have been warned by our
first experience how cunningly and how patiently these creatures
can watch and wait until their chance comes.  Whatever fate may be
mine through life, I am very sure that I shall never be nearer death
than I was that morning.  But I will tell you the thing in its due order.

We all awoke exhausted after the terrific emotions and scanty
food of yesterday.  Summerlee was still so weak that it was an
effort for him to stand; but the old man was full of a sort of
surly courage which would never admit defeat.  A council was
held, and it was agreed that we should wait quietly for an hour
or two where we were, have our much-needed breakfast, and then
make our way across the plateau and round the central lake to the
caves where my observations had shown that the Indians lived. 
We relied upon the fact that we could count upon the good word
of those whom we had rescued to ensure a warm welcome from
their fellows.  Then, with our mission accomplished and possessing
a fuller knowledge of the secrets of Maple White Land, we should
turn our whole thoughts to the vital problem of our escape and return. 
Even Challenger was ready to admit that we should then have done
all for which we had come, and that our first duty from that time
onwards was to carry back to civilization the amazing discoveries
we had made.

We were able now to take a more leisurely view of the Indians
whom we had rescued.  They were small men, wiry, active, and
well-built, with lank black hair tied up in a bunch behind their
heads with a leathern thong, and leathern also were their
loin-clothes.  Their faces were hairless, well formed, and
good-humored.  The lobes of their ears, hanging ragged and
bloody, showed that they had been pierced for some ornaments
which their captors had torn out.  Their speech, though
unintelligible to us, was fluent among themselves, and as they
pointed to each other and uttered the word "Accala" many times
over, we gathered that this was the name of the nation. 
Occasionally, with faces which were convulsed with fear and
hatred, they shook their clenched hands at the woods round and
cried:  "Doda!  Doda!" which was surely their term for their enemies.

What do you make of them, Challenger?" asked Lord John.  "One thing
is very clear to me, and that is that the little chap with the front
of his head shaved is a chief among them."

It was indeed evident that this man stood apart from the others,
and that they never ventured to address him without every sign of
deep respect.  He seemed to be the youngest of them all, and yet,
so proud and high was his spirit that, upon Challenger laying his
great hand upon his head, he started like a spurred horse and,
with a quick flash of his dark eyes, moved further away from
the Professor.  Then, placing his hand upon his breast and
holding himself with great dignity, he uttered the word "Maretas"
several times.  The Professor, unabashed, seized the nearest Indian
by the shoulder and proceeded to lecture upon him as if he were a
potted specimen in a class-room.

"The type of these people," said he in his sonorous fashion,
"whether judged by cranial capacity, facial angle, or any other
test, cannot be regarded as a low one; on the contrary, we must
place it as considerably higher in the scale than many South
American tribes which I can mention.  On no possible supposition
can we explain the evolution of such a race in this place. 
For that matter, so great a gap separates these ape-men from the
primitive animals which have survived upon this plateau, that it
is inadmissible to think that they could have developed where we
find them."

"Then where the dooce did they drop from?" asked Lord John.

"A question which will, no doubt, be eagerly discussed in every
scientific society in Europe and America," the Professor answered. 
"My own reading of the situation for what it is worth--" he inflated
his chest enormously and looked insolently around him at the words--
"is that evolution has advanced under the peculiar conditions of
this country up to the vertebrate stage, the old types surviving
and living on in company with the newer ones.  Thus we find such
modern creatures as the tapir--an animal with quite a respectable
length of pedigree--the great deer, and the ant-eater in the
companionship of reptilian forms of jurassic type.  So much is clear. 
And now come the ape-men and the Indian.  What is the scientific
mind to think of their presence?  I can only account for it by an
invasion from outside.  It is probable that there existed an
anthropoid ape in South America, who in past ages found his way
to this place, and that he developed into the creatures we have
seen, some of which"--here he looked hard at me--"were of an
appearance and shape which, if it had been accompanied by
corresponding intelligence, would, I do not hesitate to say,
have reflected credit upon any living race.  As to the Indians
I cannot doubt that they are more recent immigrants from below. 
Under the stress of famine or of conquest they have made their
way up here.  Faced by ferocious creatures which they had never
before seen, they took refuge in the caves which our young friend
has described, but they have no doubt had a bitter fight to hold
their own against wild beasts, and especially against the ape-men
who would regard them as intruders, and wage a merciless war upon
them with a cunning which the larger beasts would lack.  Hence the
fact that their numbers appear to be limited.  Well, gentlemen,
have I read you the riddle aright, or is there any point which
you would query?"

Professor Summerlee for once was too depressed to argue, though
he shook his head violently as a token of general disagreement. 
Lord John merely scratched his scanty locks with the remark that
he couldn't put up a fight as he wasn't in the same weight or class. 
For my own part I performed my usual role of bringing things down
to a strictly prosaic and practical level by the remark that one
of the Indians was missing.

"He has gone to fetch some water," said Lord Roxton.  "We fitted
him up with an empty beef tin and he is off."

"To the old camp?" I asked.

"No, to the brook.  It's among the trees there.  It can't be more
than a couple of hundred yards.  But the beggar is certainly
taking his time."

"I'll go and look after him," said I.  I picked up my rifle and
strolled in the direction of the brook, leaving my friends to lay
out the scanty breakfast.  It may seem to you rash that even for
so short a distance I should quit the shelter of our friendly
thicket, but you will remember that we were many miles from
Ape-town, that so far as we knew the creatures had not discovered
our retreat, and that in any case with a rifle in my hands I had
no fear of them.  I had not yet learned their cunning or their strength.

I could hear the murmur of our brook somewhere ahead of me, but
there was a tangle of trees and brushwood between me and it. 
I was making my way through this at a point which was just out of
sight of my companions, when, under one of the trees, I noticed
something red huddled among the bushes.  As I approached it, I
was shocked to see that it was the dead body of the missing Indian. 
He lay upon his side, his limbs drawn up, and his head screwed
round at a most unnatural angle, so that he seemed to be looking
straight over his own shoulder.  I gave a cry to warn my friends
that something was amiss, and running forwards I stooped over
the body.  Surely my guardian angel was very near me then, for
some instinct of fear, or it may have been some faint rustle
of leaves, made me glance upwards.  Out of the thick green
foliage which hung low over my head, two long muscular arms
covered with reddish hair were slowly descending.  Another instant
and the great stealthy hands would have been round my throat. 
I sprang backwards, but quick as I was, those hands were
quicker still.  Through my sudden spring they missed a fatal
grip, but one of them caught the back of my neck and the other
one my face.  I threw my hands up to protect my throat, and the
next moment the huge paw had slid down my face and closed over them. 
I was lifted lightly from the ground, and I felt an intolerable
pressure forcing my head back and back until the strain upon the
cervical spine was more than I could bear.  My senses swam, but
I still tore at the hand and forced it out from my chin. 
Looking up I saw a frightful face with cold inexorable
light blue eyes looking down into mine.  There was something
hypnotic in those terrible eyes.  I could struggle no longer. 
As the creature felt me grow limp in his grasp, two white canines
gleamed for a moment at each side of the vile mouth, and the grip
tightened still more upon my chin, forcing it always upwards and back. 
A thin, oval-tinted mist formed before my eyes and little silvery
bells tinkled in my ears.  Dully and far off I heard the crack of
a rifle and was feebly aware of the shock as I was dropped to the
earth, where I lay without sense or motion.

I awoke to find myself on my back upon the grass in our lair
within the thicket.  Someone had brought the water from the
brook, and Lord John was sprinkling my head with it, while
Challenger and Summerlee were propping me up, with concern in
their faces.  For a moment I had a glimpse of the human spirits
behind their scientific masks.  It was really shock, rather than
any injury, which had prostrated me, and in half-an-hour, in
spite of aching head and stiff neck, I was sitting up and ready
for anything.

"But you've had the escape of your life, young fellah my lad,"
said Lord Roxton.  "When I heard your cry and ran forward, and
saw your head twisted half-off and your stohwassers kickin' in
the air, I thought we were one short.  I missed the beast in my
flurry, but he dropped you all right and was off like a streak. 
By George!  I wish I had fifty men with rifles.  I'd clear out the
whole infernal gang of them and leave this country a bit cleaner
than we found it."

It was clear now that the ape-men had in some way marked us down,
and that we were watched on every side.  We had not so much to
fear from them during the day, but they would be very likely to
rush us by night; so the sooner we got away from their
neighborhood the better.  On three sides of us was absolute
forest, and there we might find ourselves in an ambush.  But on
the fourth side--that which sloped down in the direction of the
lake--there was only low scrub, with scattered trees and
occasional open glades.  It was, in fact, the route which I had
myself taken in my solitary journey, and it led us straight for
the Indian caves.  This then must for every reason be our road.

One great regret we had, and that was to leave our old camp
behind us, not only for the sake of the stores which remained
there, but even more because we were losing touch with Zambo, our
link with the outside world.  However, we had a fair supply of
cartridges and all our guns, so, for a time at least, we could
look after ourselves, and we hoped soon to have a chance of
returning and restoring our communications with our negro. 
He had faithfully promised to stay where he was, and we had not a
doubt that he would be as good as his word.

It was in the early afternoon that we started upon our journey. 
The young chief walked at our head as our guide, but refused
indignantly to carry any burden.  Behind him came the two
surviving Indians with our scanty possessions upon their backs. 
We four white men walked in the rear with rifles loaded and ready. 
As we started there broke from the thick silent woods behind us
a sudden great ululation of the ape-men, which may have been a
cheer of triumph at our departure or a jeer of contempt at
our flight.  Looking back we saw only the dense screen of trees,
but that long-drawn yell told us how many of our enemies lurked
among them.  We saw no sign of pursuit, however, and soon we had
got into more open country and beyond their power.

As I tramped along, the rearmost of the four, I could not help
smiling at the appearance of my three companions in front.  Was this
the luxurious Lord John Roxton who had sat that evening in the
Albany amidst his Persian rugs and his pictures in the pink
radiance of the tinted lights?  And was this the imposing
Professor who had swelled behind the great desk in his massive
study at Enmore Park?  And, finally, could this be the austere and
prim figure which had risen before the meeting at the Zoological
Institute?  No three tramps that one could have met in a Surrey
lane could have looked more hopeless and bedraggled.  We had, it
is true, been only a week or so upon the top of the plateau, but
all our spare clothing was in our camp below, and the one week
had been a severe one upon us all, though least to me who had not
to endure the handling of the ape-men.  My three friends had all
lost their hats, and had now bound handkerchiefs round their heads,
their clothes hung in ribbons about them, and their unshaven grimy
faces were hardly to be recognized.  Both Summerlee and Challenger
were limping heavily, while I still dragged my feet from weakness
after the shock of the morning, and my neck was as stiff as a board
from the murderous grip that held it.  We were indeed a sorry crew,
and I did not wonder to see our Indian companions glance back at us
occasionally with horror and amazement on their faces.

In the late afternoon we reached the margin of the lake, and as
we emerged from the bush and saw the sheet of water stretching
before us our native friends set up a shrill cry of joy and
pointed eagerly in front of them.  It was indeed a wonderful
sight which lay before us.  Sweeping over the glassy surface was
a great flotilla of canoes coming straight for the shore upon
which we stood.  They were some miles out when we first saw them,
but they shot forward with great swiftness, and were soon so near
that the rowers could distinguish our persons.  Instantly a
thunderous shout of delight burst from them, and we saw them rise
from their seats, waving their paddles and spears madly in the air. 
Then bending to their work once more, they flew across the
intervening water, beached their boats upon the sloping sand,
and rushed up to us, prostrating themselves with loud cries of
greeting before the young chief.  Finally one of them, an elderly
man, with a necklace and bracelet of great lustrous glass beads
and the skin of some beautiful mottled amber-colored animal slung
over his shoulders, ran forward and embraced most tenderly the
youth whom we had saved.  He then looked at us and asked some
questions, after which he stepped up with much dignity and
embraced us also each in turn.  Then, at his order, the whole
tribe lay down upon the ground before us in homage.  Personally I
felt shy and uncomfortable at this obsequious adoration, and I
read the same feeling in the faces of Roxton and Summerlee, but
Challenger expanded like a flower in the sun.

"They may be undeveloped types," said he, stroking his beard
and looking round at them, "but their deportment in the
presence of their superiors might be a lesson to some of our
more advanced Europeans.  Strange how correct are the instincts
of the natural man!"

It was clear that the natives had come out upon the war-path, for
every man carried his spear--a long bamboo tipped with bone--his
bow and arrows, and some sort of club or stone battle-axe slung
at his side.  Their dark, angry glances at the woods from which
we had come, and the frequent repetition of the word "Doda," made
it clear enough that this was a rescue party who had set forth to
save or revenge the old chief's son, for such we gathered that
the youth must be.  A council was now held by the whole tribe
squatting in a circle, whilst we sat near on a slab of basalt and
watched their proceedings.  Two or three warriors spoke, and
finally our young friend made a spirited harangue with such
eloquent features and gestures that we could understand it all as
clearly as if we had known his language.

"What is the use of returning?" he said.  "Sooner or later the
thing must be done.  Your comrades have been murdered.  What if
I have returned safe?  These others have been done to death. 
There is no safety for any of us.  We are assembled now and ready."
Then he pointed to us.  "These strange men are our friends. 
They are great fighters, and they hate the ape-men even as we do. 
They command," here he pointed up to heaven, "the thunder and
the lightning.  When shall we have such a chance again?  Let us go
forward, and either die now or live for the future in safety. 
How else shall we go back unashamed to our women?"

The little red warriors hung upon the words of the speaker, and
when he had finished they burst into a roar of applause, waving
their rude weapons in the air.  The old chief stepped forward to
us, and asked us some questions, pointing at the same time to
the woods.  Lord John made a sign to him that he should wait for
an answer and then he turned to us.

"Well, it's up to you to say what you will do," said he; "for my
part I have a score to settle with these monkey-folk, and if it
ends by wiping them off the face of the earth I don't see that
the earth need fret about it.  I'm goin' with our little red pals
and I mean to see them through the scrap.  What do you say,
young fellah?"

"Of course I will come."

"And you, Challenger?"

"I will assuredly co-operate."

"And you, Summerlee?"

"We seem to be drifting very far from the object of this
expedition, Lord John.  I assure you that I little thought when I
left my professional chair in London that it was for the purpose
of heading a raid of savages upon a colony of anthropoid apes."

"To such base uses do we come," said Lord John, smiling.  "But we
are up against it, so what's the decision?"

"It seems a most questionable step," said Summerlee,
argumentative to the last, "but if you are all going, I hardly
see how I can remain behind."

"Then it is settled," said Lord John, and turning to the chief he
nodded and slapped his rifle.

The old fellow clasped our hands, each in turn, while his men
cheered louder than ever.  It was too late to advance that night,
so the Indians settled down into a rude bivouac.  On all sides
their fires began to glimmer and smoke.  Some of them who had
disappeared into the jungle came back presently driving a young
iguanodon before them.  Like the others, it had a daub of asphalt
upon its shoulder, and it was only when we saw one of the natives
step forward with the air of an owner and give his consent to the
beast's slaughter that we understood at last that these great
creatures were as much private property as a herd of cattle, and
that these symbols which had so perplexed us were nothing more
than the marks of the owner.  Helpless, torpid, and vegetarian,
with great limbs but a minute brain, they could be rounded up and
driven by a child.  In a few minutes the huge beast had been cut
up and slabs of him were hanging over a dozen camp fires,
together with great scaly ganoid fish which had been speared in
the lake.

Summerlee had lain down and slept upon the sand, but we others
roamed round the edge of the water, seeking to learn something
more of this strange country.  Twice we found pits of blue clay,
such as we had already seen in the swamp of the pterodactyls. 
These were old volcanic vents, and for some reason excited the
greatest interest in Lord John.  What attracted Challenger, on
the other hand, was a bubbling, gurgling mud geyser, where some
strange gas formed great bursting bubbles upon the surface. 
He thrust a hollow reed into it and cried out with delight like a
schoolboy then he was able, on touching it with a lighted match,
to cause a sharp explosion and a blue flame at the far end of
the tube.  Still more pleased was he when, inverting a leathern
pouch over the end of the reed, and so filling it with the gas,
he was able to send it soaring up into the air.

"An inflammable gas, and one markedly lighter than the atmosphere. 
I should say beyond doubt that it contained a considerable
proportion of free hydrogen.  The resources of G. E. C. are not
yet exhausted, my young friend.  I may yet show you how a great
mind molds all Nature to its use." He swelled with some secret
purpose, but would say no more.

There was nothing which we could see upon the shore which seemed to
me so wonderful as the great sheet of water before us.  Our numbers
and our noise had frightened all living creatures away, and save for
a few pterodactyls, which soared round high above our heads while
they waited for the carrion, all was still around the camp.  But it
was different out upon the rose-tinted waters of the central lake. 
It boiled and heaved with strange life.  Great slate-colored backs
and high serrated dorsal fins shot up with a fringe of silver, and
then rolled down into the depths again.  The sand-banks far out
were spotted with uncouth crawling forms, huge turtles, strange
saurians, and one great flat creature like a writhing, palpitating
mat of black greasy leather, which flopped its way slowly to the lake. 
Here and there high serpent heads projected out of the water, cutting
swiftly through it with a little collar of foam in front, and a
long swirling wake behind, rising and falling in graceful,
swan-like undulations as they went.  It was not until one of
these creatures wriggled on to a sand-bank within a few hundred
yards of us, and exposed a barrel-shaped body and huge flippers
behind the long serpent neck, that Challenger, and Summerlee, who
had joined us, broke out into their duet of wonder and admiration.

"Plesiosaurus!  A fresh-water plesiosaurus!" cried Summerlee. 
"That I should have lived to see such a sight!  We are blessed,
my dear Challenger, above all zoologists since the world began!"

It was not until the night had fallen, and the fires of our
savage allies glowed red in the shadows, that our two men of
science could be dragged away from the fascinations of that
primeval lake.  Even in the darkness as we lay upon the strand,
we heard from time to time the snort and plunge of the huge
creatures who lived therein.

At earliest dawn our camp was astir and an hour later we had
started upon our memorable expedition.  Often in my dreams have I
thought that I might live to be a war correspondent.  In what
wildest one could I have conceived the nature of the campaign
which it should be my lot to report!  Here then is my first
despatch from a field of battle:

Our numbers had been reinforced during the night by a fresh batch
of natives from the caves, and we may have been four or five
hundred strong when we made our advance.  A fringe of scouts was
thrown out in front, and behind them the whole force in a solid
column made their way up the long slope of the bush country until
we were near the edge of the forest.  Here they spread out into
a long straggling line of spearmen and bowmen.  Roxton and
Summerlee took their position upon the right flank, while
Challenger and I were on the left.  It was a host of the stone
age that we were accompanying to battle--we with the last word of
the gunsmith's art from St. James' Street and the Strand.

We had not long to wait for our enemy.  A wild shrill clamor
rose from the edge of the wood and suddenly a body of ape-men
rushed out with clubs and stones, and made for the center of the
Indian line.  It was a valiant move but a foolish one, for the
great bandy-legged creatures were slow of foot, while their
opponents were as active as cats.  It was horrible to see the
fierce brutes with foaming mouths and glaring eyes, rushing and
grasping, but forever missing their elusive enemies, while arrow
after arrow buried itself in their hides.  One great fellow ran
past me roaring with pain, with a dozen darts sticking from his
chest and ribs.  In mercy I put a bullet through his skull, and
he fell sprawling among the aloes.  But this was the only shot
fired, for the attack had been on the center of the line, and the
Indians there had needed no help of ours in repulsing it.  Of all
the ape-men who had rushed out into the open, I do not think that
one got back to cover.

But the matter was more deadly when we came among the trees.  For an
hour or more after we entered the wood, there was a desperate
struggle in which for a time we hardly held our own.  Springing out
from among the scrub the ape-men with huge clubs broke in upon the
Indians and often felled three or four of them before they could
be speared.  Their frightful blows shattered everything upon which
they fell.  One of them knocked Summerlee's rifle to matchwood
and the next would have crushed his skull had an Indian not
stabbed the beast to the heart.  Other ape-men in the trees above
us hurled down stones and logs of wood, occasionally dropping
bodily on to our ranks and fighting furiously until they were felled. 
Once our allies broke under the pressure, and had it not been for
the execution done by our rifles they would certainly have taken
to their heels.  But they were gallantly rallied by their old
chief and came on with such a rush that the ape-men began in turn
to give way.  Summerlee was weaponless, but I was emptying my
magazine as quick as I could fire, and on the further flank we
heard the continuous cracking of our companion's rifles.

Then in a moment came the panic and the collapse.  Screaming and
howling, the great creatures rushed away in all directions
through the brushwood, while our allies yelled in their savage
delight, following swiftly after their flying enemies.  All the
feuds of countless generations, all the hatreds and cruelties of
their narrow history, all the memories of ill-usage and
persecution were to be purged that day.  At last man was to be
supreme and the man-beast to find forever his allotted place. 
Fly as they would the fugitives were too slow to escape from the
active savages, and from every side in the tangled woods we heard
the exultant yells, the twanging of bows, and the crash and thud
as ape-men were brought down from their hiding-places in the trees.

I was following the others, when I found that Lord John and
Challenger had come across to join us.

"It's over," said Lord John.  "I think we can leave the tidying up
to them.  Perhaps the less we see of it the better we shall sleep."

Challenger's eyes were shining with the lust of slaughter.

"We have been privileged," he cried, strutting about like a
gamecock, "to be present at one of the typical decisive battles
of history--the battles which have determined the fate of
the world.  What, my friends, is the conquest of one nation
by another?  It is meaningless.  Each produces the same result. 
But those fierce fights, when in the dawn of the ages the
cave-dwellers held their own against the tiger folk, or the
elephants first found that they had a master, those were the real
conquests--the victories that count.  By this strange turn of
fate we have seen and helped to decide even such a contest. 
Now upon this plateau the future must ever be for man."

It needed a robust faith in the end to justify such tragic means. 
As we advanced together through the woods we found the ape-men
lying thick, transfixed with spears or arrows.  Here and there a
little group of shattered Indians marked where one of the
anthropoids had turned to bay, and sold his life dearly.  Always in
front of us we heard the yelling and roaring which showed the
direction of the pursuit.  The ape-men had been driven back to
their city, they had made a last stand there, once again they had
been broken, and now we were in time to see the final fearful
scene of all.  Some eighty or a hundred males, the last
survivors, had been driven across that same little clearing which
led to the edge of the cliff, the scene of our own exploit two
days before.  As we arrived the Indians, a semicircle of
spearmen, had closed in on them, and in a minute it was over,
Thirty or forty died where they stood.  The others, screaming and
clawing, were thrust over the precipice, and went hurtling down,
as their prisoners had of old, on to the sharp bamboos six
hundred feet below.  It was as Challenger had said, and the reign
of man was assured forever in Maple White Land.  The males were
exterminated, Ape Town was destroyed, the females and young were
driven away to live in bondage, and the long rivalry of untold
centuries had reached its bloody end.

For us the victory brought much advantage.  Once again we were
able to visit our camp and get at our stores.  Once more also we
were able to communicate with Zambo, who had been terrified by
the spectacle from afar of an avalanche of apes falling from the
edge of the cliff.

"Come away, Massas, come away!" he cried, his eyes starting from
his head.  "The debbil get you sure if you stay up there."

"It is the voice of sanity!" said Summerlee with conviction. 
"We have had adventures enough and they are neither suitable to
our character or our position.  I hold you to your word, Challenger. 
From now  onwards you devote your energies to getting us out of
this horrible country and back once more to civilization."

                            CHAPTER XV

                "Our Eyes have seen Great Wonders"

I write this from day to day, but I trust that before I come to
the end of it, I may be able to say that the light shines, at
last, through our clouds.  We are held here with no clear means
of making our escape, and bitterly we chafe against it. Yet, I
can well imagine that the day may come when we may be glad that
we were kept, against our will, to see something more of the
wonders of this singular place, and of the creatures who inhabit it.

The victory of the Indians and the annihilation of the ape-men,
marked the turning point of our fortunes.  From then onwards, we
were in truth masters of the plateau, for the natives looked upon us
with a mixture of fear and gratitude, since by our strange powers
we had aided them to destroy their hereditary foe.  For their own
sakes they would, perhaps, be glad to see the departure of such
formidable and incalculable people, but they have not themselves
suggested any way by which we may reach the plains below. 
There had been, so far as we could follow their signs, a
tunnel by which the place could be approached, the lower exit of
which we had seen from below.  By this, no doubt, both ape-men
and Indians had at different epochs reached the top, and Maple
White with his companion had taken the same way.  Only the year
before, however, there had been a terrific earthquake, and the
upper end of the tunnel had fallen in and completely disappeared. 
The Indians now could only shake their heads and shrug their
shoulders when we expressed by signs our desire to descend. 
It may be that they cannot, but it may also be that they will
not, help us to get away.

At the end of the victorious campaign the surviving ape-folk were
driven across the plateau (their wailings were horrible) and
established in the neighborhood of the Indian caves, where they
would, from now onwards, be a servile race under the eyes of
their masters.  It was a rude, raw, primeval version of the Jews
in Babylon or the Israelites in Egypt.  At night we could hear
from amid the trees the long-drawn cry, as some primitive Ezekiel
mourned for fallen greatness and recalled the departed glories of
Ape Town.  Hewers of wood and drawers of water, such were they
from now onwards.

We had returned across the plateau with our allies two days after
the battle, and made our camp at the foot of their cliffs.  They would
have had us share their caves with them, but Lord John would by
no means consent to it considering that to do so would put us in
their power if they were treacherously disposed.  We kept our
independence, therefore, and had our weapons ready for any
emergency, while preserving the most friendly relations.  We also
continually visited their caves, which were most remarkable
places, though whether made by man or by Nature we have never
been able to determine.  They were all on the one stratum,
hollowed out of some soft rock which lay between the volcanic
basalt forming the ruddy cliffs above them, and the hard granite
which formed their base.

The openings were about eighty feet above the ground, and were
led up to by long stone stairs, so narrow and steep that no large
animal could mount them.  Inside they were warm and dry, running
in straight passages of varying length into the side of the hill,
with smooth gray walls decorated with many excellent pictures
done with charred sticks and representing the various animals of
the plateau.  If every living thing were swept from the country
the future explorer would find upon the walls of these caves
ample evidence of the strange fauna--the dinosaurs, iguanodons,
and fish lizards--which had lived so recently upon earth.

Since we had learned that the huge iguanodons were kept as tame
herds by their owners, and were simply walking meat-stores, we had
conceived that man, even with his primitive weapons, had established
his ascendancy upon the plateau.  We were soon to discover that it
was not so, and that he was still there upon tolerance.

It was on the third day after our forming our camp near the
Indian caves that the tragedy occurred.  Challenger and Summerlee
had gone off together that day to the lake where some of the
natives, under their direction, were engaged in harpooning
specimens of the great lizards.  Lord John and I had remained in
our camp, while a number of the Indians were scattered about upon
the grassy slope in front of the caves engaged in different ways. 
Suddenly there was a shrill cry of alarm, with the word "Stoa"
resounding from a hundred tongues.  From every side men, women,
and children were rushing wildly for shelter, swarming up the
staircases and into the caves in a mad stampede.

Looking up, we could see them waving their arms from the rocks
above and beckoning to us to join them in their refuge.  We had
both seized our magazine rifles and ran out to see what the
danger could be.  Suddenly from the near belt of trees there
broke forth a group of twelve or fifteen Indians, running for
their lives, and at their very heels two of those frightful
monsters which had disturbed our camp and pursued me upon my
solitary journey.  In shape they were like horrible toads, and
moved in a succession of springs, but in size they were of an
incredible bulk, larger than the largest elephant.  We had never
before seen them save at night,  and indeed they are nocturnal
animals save when disturbed in their lairs, as these had been. 
We now stood amazed at the sight, for their blotched and warty
skins were of a curious fish-like iridescence, and the sunlight
struck them with an ever-varying rainbow bloom as they moved.

We had little time to watch them, however, for in an instant they
had overtaken the fugitives and were making a dire slaughter
among them.  Their method was to fall forward with their full
weight upon each in turn, leaving him crushed and mangled, to
bound on after the others.  The wretched Indians screamed with
terror, but were helpless, run as they would, before the
relentless purpose and horrible activity of these monstrous creatures. 
One after another they went down, and there were not half-a-dozen
surviving by the time my companion and I could come to their help. 
But our aid was of little avail and only involved us in the same peril. 
At the range of a couple of hundred yards we emptied our magazines,
firing bullet after bullet into the beasts, but with no more effect
than if we were pelting them with pellets of paper.  Their slow
reptilian natures cared nothing for wounds, and the springs of
their lives, with no special brain center but scattered throughout
their spinal cords, could not be tapped by any modern weapons. 
The most that we could do was to check their progress by
distracting their attention with the flash and roar of our guns,
and so to give both the natives and ourselves time to reach the
steps which led to safety.  But where the conical explosive
bullets of the twentieth century were of no avail, the poisoned
arrows of the natives, dipped in the juice of strophanthus and
steeped afterwards in decayed carrion, could succeed.  Such arrows
were of little avail to the hunter who attacked the beast, because
their action in that torpid circulation was slow, and before its
powers failed it could certainly overtake and slay its assailant. 
But now, as the two monsters hounded us to the very foot of the
stairs, a drift of darts came whistling from every chink in the
cliff above them.  In a minute they were feathered with them,
and yet with no sign of pain they clawed and slobbered with
impotent rage at the steps which would lead them to their victims,
mounting clumsily up for a few yards and then sliding down again
to the ground.  But at last the poison worked.  One of them gave
a deep rumbling groan and dropped his huge squat head on to the earth. 
The other bounded round in an eccentric circle with shrill, wailing
cries, and then lying down writhed in agony for some minutes before
it also stiffened and lay still.  With yells of triumph the Indians
came flocking down from their caves and danced a frenzied dance
of victory round the dead bodies, in mad joy that two more of the
most dangerous of all their enemies had been slain.  That night
they cut up and removed the bodies, not to eat--for the poison
was still active--but lest they should breed a pestilence. 
The great reptilian hearts, however, each as large as a cushion,
still lay there, beating slowly and steadily, with a gentle rise
and fall, in horrible independent life.  It was only upon the third
day that the ganglia ran down and the dreadful things were still.

Some day, when I have a better desk than a meat-tin and more
helpful tools than a worn stub of pencil and a last, tattered
note-book, I will write some fuller account of the Accala
Indians--of our life amongst them, and of the glimpses which we
had of the strange conditions of wondrous Maple White Land. 
Memory, at least, will never fail me, for so long as the breath
of life is in me, every hour and every action of that period will
stand out as hard and clear as do the first strange happenings of
our childhood.  No new impressions could efface those which are
so deeply cut.  When the time comes I will describe that wondrous
moonlit night upon the great lake when a young ichthyosaurus--a
strange creature, half seal, half fish, to look at, with
bone-covered eyes on each side of his snout, and a third eye
fixed upon the top of his head--was entangled in an Indian net,
and nearly upset our canoe before we towed it ashore; the same
night that a green water-snake shot out from the rushes and
carried off in its coils the steersman of Challenger's canoe. 
I will tell, too, of the great nocturnal white thing--to this day
we do not know whether it was beast or reptile--which lived in a
vile swamp to the east of the lake, and flitted about with a
faint phosphorescent glimmer in the darkness.  The Indians were
so terrified at it that they would not go near the place, and,
though we twice made expeditions and saw it each time, we could
not make our way through the deep marsh in which it lived.  I can
only say that it seemed to be larger than a cow and had the
strangest musky odor.  I will tell also of the huge bird which
chased Challenger to the shelter of the rocks one day--a great
running bird, far taller than an ostrich, with a vulture-like
neck and cruel head which made it a walking death.  As Challenger
climbed to safety one dart of that savage curving beak shore off the
heel of his boot as if it had been cut with a chisel.  This time
at least modern weapons prevailed and the great creature, twelve
feet from head to foot--phororachus its name, according to our
panting but exultant Professor--went down before Lord Roxton's
rifle in a flurry of waving feathers and kicking limbs, with two
remorseless yellow eyes glaring up from the midst of it.  May I
live to see that flattened vicious skull in its own niche amid
the trophies of the Albany.  Finally, I will assuredly give some
account of the toxodon, the giant ten-foot guinea pig, with
projecting chisel teeth, which we killed as it drank in the gray
of the morning by the side of the lake.

All this I shall some day write at fuller length, and amidst
these more stirring days I would tenderly sketch in these lovely
summer evenings, when with the deep blue sky above us we lay in
good comradeship among the long grasses by the wood and marveled
at the strange fowl that swept over us and the quaint new
creatures which crept from their burrows to watch us, while above
us the boughs of the bushes were heavy with luscious fruit, and
below us strange and lovely flowers peeped at us from among the
herbage; or those long moonlit nights when we lay out upon the
shimmering surface of the great lake and watched with wonder and
awe the huge circles rippling out from the sudden splash of some
fantastic monster; or the greenish gleam, far down in the deep
water, of some strange creature upon the confines of darkness. 
These are the scenes which my mind and my pen will dwell upon in
every detail at some future day.

But, you will ask, why these experiences and why this delay, when
you and your comrades should have been occupied day and night in the
devising of some means by which you could return to the outer world? 
My answer is, that there was not one of us who was not working for
this end, but that our work had been in vain.  One fact we had
very speedily discovered:  The Indians would do nothing to help us. 
In every other way they were our friends--one might almost say our
devoted slaves--but when it was suggested that they should help us
to make and carry a plank which would bridge the chasm, or when we
wished to get from them thongs of leather or liana to weave ropes
which might help us, we were met by a good-humored, but an
invincible, refusal.  They would smile, twinkle their eyes, shake
their heads, and there was the end of it.  Even the old chief met
us with the same obstinate denial, and it was only Maretas, the
youngster whom we had saved, who looked wistfully at us and told
us by his gestures that he was grieved for our thwarted wishes. 
Ever since their crowning triumph with the ape-men they looked
upon us as supermen, who bore victory in the tubes of strange
weapons, and they believed that so long as we remained with them
good fortune would be theirs.  A little red-skinned wife and a
cave of our own were freely offered to each of us if we would but
forget our own people and dwell forever upon the plateau.  So far
all had been kindly, however far apart our desires might be; but
we felt well assured that our actual plans of a descent must be
kept secret, for we had reason to fear that at the last they might
try to hold us by force.

In spite of the danger from dinosaurs (which is not great save at
night, for, as I may have said before, they are mostly nocturnal
in their habits) I have twice in the last three weeks been over
to our old camp in order to see our negro who still kept watch
and ward below the cliff.  My eyes strained eagerly across the
great plain in the hope of seeing afar off the help for which we
had prayed.  But the long cactus-strewn levels still stretched
away, empty and bare, to the distant line of the cane-brake.

"They will soon come now, Massa Malone.  Before another week pass
Indian come back and bring rope and fetch you down."  Such was the
cheery cry of our excellent Zambo.

I had one strange experience as I came from this second visit
which had involved my being away for a night from my companions. 
I was returning along the well-remembered route, and had reached
a spot within a mile or so of the marsh of the pterodactyls, when
I saw an extraordinary object approaching me.  It was a man who
walked inside a framework made of bent canes so that he was
enclosed on all sides in a bell-shaped cage.  As I drew nearer I
was more amazed still to see that it was Lord John Roxton.  When he
saw me he slipped from under his curious protection and came towards
me laughing, and yet, as I thought, with some confusion in his manner.

"Well, young fellah," said he, "who would have thought of meetin'
you up here?"

"What in the world are you doing?" I asked.

"Visitin' my friends, the pterodactyls," said  he.

"But why?"

"Interestin' beasts, don't you think?  But unsociable! 
Nasty rude ways with strangers, as you may remember.  So I
rigged this framework which keeps them from bein' too pressin'
in their attentions."

"But what do you want in the swamp?"

He looked at me with a very questioning eye, and I read
hesitation in his face.

"Don't you think other people besides Professors can want to
know things?" he said at last.  "I'm studyin' the pretty dears. 
That's enough for you."

"No offense," said I.

His good-humor returned and he laughed.

"No offense, young fellah.  I'm goin' to get a young devil
chick for Challenger.  That's one of my jobs.  No, I don't want
your company.  I'm safe in this cage, and you are not.  So long,
and I'll be back in camp by night-fall."

He turned away and I left him wandering on through the wood with
his extraordinary cage around him.

If Lord John's behavior at this time was strange, that of
Challenger was more so.  I may say that he seemed to possess an
extraordinary fascination for the Indian women, and that he
always carried a large spreading palm branch with which he beat
them off as if they were flies, when their attentions became
too pressing.  To see him walking like a comic opera Sultan, with
this badge of authority in his hand, his black beard bristling
in front of him, his toes pointing at each step, and a train of
wide-eyed Indian girls behind him, clad in their slender drapery
of bark cloth, is one of the most grotesque of all the pictures
which I will carry back with me.  As to Summerlee, he was
absorbed in the insect and bird life of the plateau, and spent
his whole time (save that considerable portion which was devoted
to abusing Challenger for not getting us out of our difficulties)
in cleaning and mounting his specimens.

Challenger had been in the habit of walking off by himself every
morning and returning from time to time with looks of portentous
solemnity, as one who bears the full weight of a great enterprise
upon his shoulders.  One day, palm branch in hand, and his crowd
of adoring devotees behind him, he led us down to his hidden
work-shop and took us into the secret of his plans.

The place was a small clearing in the center of a palm grove. 
In this was one of those boiling mud geysers which I have
already described.  Around its edge were scattered a number of
leathern thongs cut from iguanodon hide, and a large collapsed
membrane which proved to be the dried and scraped stomach of one
of the great fish lizards from the lake.  This huge sack had been
sewn up at one end and only a small orifice left at the other. 
Into this opening several bamboo canes had been inserted and the
other ends of these canes were in contact with conical clay
funnels which collected the gas bubbling up through the mud of
the geyser.  Soon the flaccid organ began to slowly expand and
show such a tendency to upward movements that Challenger fastened
the cords which held it to the trunks of the surrounding trees. 
In half an hour a good-sized gas-bag had been formed, and the
jerking and straining upon the thongs showed that it was capable
of considerable lift.  Challenger, like a glad father in the
presence of his first-born, stood smiling and stroking his beard,
in silent, self-satisfied content as he gazed at the creation of
his brain.  It was Summerlee who first broke the silence.

"You don't mean us to go up in that thing, Challenger?" said he,
in an acid voice.

"I mean, my dear Summerlee, to give you such a demonstration of
its powers that after seeing it you will, I am sure, have no
hesitation in trusting yourself to it."

"You can put it right out of your head now, at once," said
Summerlee with decision, "nothing on earth would induce me to
commit such a folly.  Lord John, I trust that you will not
countenance such madness?"

"Dooced ingenious, I call it," said our peer.  "I'd like to see
how it works."

"So you shall," said Challenger.  "For some days I have exerted
my whole brain force upon the problem of how we shall descend
from these cliffs.  We have satisfied ourselves that we cannot
climb down and that there is no tunnel.  We are also unable to
construct any kind of bridge which may take us back to the
pinnacle from which we came.  How then shall I find a means to
convey us?  Some little time ago I had remarked to our young
friend here that free hydrogen was evolved from the geyser. 
The idea of a balloon naturally followed.  I was, I will admit,
somewhat baffled by the difficulty of discovering an envelope to
contain the gas, but the contemplation of the immense entrails of
these reptiles supplied me with a solution to the problem. 
Behold the result!"

He put one hand in the front of his ragged jacket and pointed
proudly with the other.

By this time the gas-bag had swollen to a goodly rotundity and
was jerking strongly upon its lashings.

"Midsummer madness!" snorted Summerlee.

Lord John was delighted with the whole idea.  "Clever old dear,
ain't he?" he whispered to me, and then louder to Challenger. 
"What about a car?"

"The car will be my next care.  I have already planned how it is
to be made and attached.  Meanwhile I will simply show you how
capable my apparatus is of supporting the weight of each of us."

"All of us, surely?"

"No, it is part of my plan that each in turn shall descend as in
a parachute, and the balloon be drawn back by means which I shall
have no difficulty in perfecting.  If it will support the weight
of one and let him gently down, it will have done all that is
required of it.  I will now show you its capacity in that direction."

He brought out a lump of basalt of a considerable size,
constructed in the middle so that a cord could be easily attached
to it.  This cord was the one which we had brought with us on to
the plateau after we had used it for climbing the pinnacle. 
It was over a hundred feet long, and though it was thin it was
very strong.  He had prepared a sort of collar of leather with many
straps depending from it.  This collar was placed over the dome
of the balloon, and the hanging thongs were gathered together
below, so that the pressure of any weight would be diffused over
a considerable surface.  Then the lump of basalt was fastened to
the thongs, and the rope was allowed to hang from the end of it,
being passed three times round the Professor's arm.

"I will now," said Challenger, with a smile of pleased
anticipation, "demonstrate the carrying power of my balloon." As
he said so he cut with a knife the various lashings that held it.

Never was our expedition in more imminent danger of complete
annihilation.  The inflated membrane shot up with frightful
velocity into the air.  In an instant Challenger was pulled off
his feet and dragged after it.  I had just time to throw my arms
round his ascending waist when I was myself whipped up into the air. 
Lord John had me with a rat-trap grip round the legs, but I felt
that he also was coming off the ground.  For a moment I had a
vision of four adventurers floating like a string of sausages
over the land that they had explored.  But, happily, there were
limits to the strain which the rope would stand, though none
apparently to the lifting powers of this infernal machine.  There was
a sharp crack, and we were in a heap upon the ground with coils of
rope all over us.  When we were able to stagger to our feet we saw
far off in the deep blue sky one dark spot where the lump of
basalt was speeding upon its way.

"Splendid!" cried the undaunted Challenger, rubbing his injured arm. 
"A most thorough and satisfactory demonstration!  I could not have
anticipated such a success.  Within a week, gentlemen, I promise
that a second balloon will be prepared, and that you can count upon
taking in safety and comfort the first stage of our homeward journey." 
So far I have written each of the foregoing events as it occurred. 
Now I am rounding off my narrative from the old camp, where Zambo
has waited so long, with all our difficulties and dangers left like
a dream behind us upon the summit of those vast ruddy crags which
tower above our heads. We have descended in safety, though in a
most unexpected fashion, and all is well with us.  In six weeks
or two months we shall be in London, and it is possible that this
letter may not reach you much earlier than we do ourselves. 
Already our hearts yearn and our spirits fly towards the great
mother city which holds so much that is dear to us.

It was on the very evening of our perilous adventure with
Challenger's home-made balloon that the change came in our fortunes. 
I have said that the one person from whom we had had some sign of
sympathy in our attempts to get away was the young chief whom we
had rescued.  He alone had no desire to hold us against our will
in a strange land.  He had told us as much by his expressive
language of signs.  That evening, after dusk, he came down to our
little camp, handed me (for some reason he had always shown his
attentions to me, perhaps because I was the one who was nearest
his age) a small roll of the bark of a tree, and then pointing
solemnly up at the row of caves above him, he had put his finger
to his lips as a sign of secrecy and had stolen back again to
his people.

I took the slip of bark to the firelight and we examined it together. 
It was about a foot square, and on the inner side there was a
singular arrangement of lines, which I here reproduce:

They were neatly done in charcoal upon the white surface, and
looked to me at first sight like some sort of rough musical score.

"Whatever it is, I can swear that it is of importance to us,"
said I.  "I could read that on his face as he gave it."

"Unless we have come upon a primitive practical joker," Summerlee
suggested, "which I should think would be one of the most
elementary developments of man."

"It is clearly some sort of script," said Challenger.

"Looks like a guinea puzzle competition," remarked Lord John,
craning his neck to have a look at it.  Then suddenly he
stretched out his hand and seized the puzzle.

"By George!" he cried, "I believe I've got it.  The boy guessed
right the very first time.  See here!  How many marks are on that
paper?  Eighteen.  Well, if you come to think of it there are
eighteen cave openings on the hill-side above us."

"He pointed up to the caves when he gave it to me," said I.

"Well, that settles it.  This is a chart of the caves.  What! 
Eighteen of them all in a row, some short, some deep, some
branching, same as we saw them.  It's a map, and here's a cross
on it. What's the cross for?  It is placed to mark one that is
much deeper than the others."

"One that goes through," I cried.

"I believe our young friend has read the riddle," said Challenger. 
"If the cave does not go through I do not understand why this
person, who has every reason to mean us well, should have drawn
our attention to it.  But if it does go through and comes out at
the corresponding point on the other side, we should not have more
than a hundred feet to descend."

"A hundred feet!" grumbled Summerlee. 

"Well, our rope is still more than a hundred feet long," I cried. 
"Surely we could get down."

"How about the Indians in the cave?" Summerlee objected.

"There are no Indians in any of the caves above our heads," said I. 
"They are all used as barns and store-houses.  Why should we not
go up now at once and spy out the land?"

There is a dry bituminous wood upon the plateau--a species of
araucaria, according to our botanist--which is always used by the
Indians for torches.  Each of us picked up a faggot of this, and
we made our way up weed-covered steps to the particular cave
which was marked in the drawing.  It was, as I had said, empty,
save for a great number of enormous bats, which flapped round our
heads as we advanced into it.  As we had no desire to draw the
attention of the Indians to our proceedings, we stumbled along in
the dark until we had gone round several curves and penetrated a
considerable distance into the cavern.  Then, at last, we lit
our torches.  It was a beautiful dry tunnel with smooth gray walls
covered with native symbols, a curved roof which arched over our
heads, and white glistening sand beneath our feet.  We hurried
eagerly along it until, with a deep groan of bitter
disappointment, we were brought to a halt.  A sheer wall of rock
had appeared before us, with no chink through which a mouse could
have slipped.  There was no escape for us there.

We stood with bitter hearts staring at this unexpected obstacle. 
It was not the result of any convulsion, as in the case of the
ascending tunnel.  The end wall was exactly like the side ones. 
It was, and had always been, a cul-de-sac.

"Never mind, my friends," said the indomitable Challenger. 
"You have still my firm promise of a balloon."

Summerlee groaned.

"Can we be in the wrong cave?" I suggested. 

"No use, young fellah," said Lord John, with his finger on the chart. 
"Seventeen from the right and second from the left.  This is the
cave sure enough."

I looked at the mark to which his finger pointed, and I gave a
sudden cry of joy.

"I believe I have it!  Follow me!  Follow me!"

I hurried back along the way we had come, my torch in my hand. 
"Here," said I, pointing to some matches upon the ground, "is
where we lit up."

"Exactly."

"Well, it is marked as a forked cave, and in the darkness we
passed the fork before the torches were lit.  On the right side
as we go out we should find the longer arm."

It was as I had said.  We had not gone thirty yards before a
great black opening loomed in the wall.  We turned into it to
find that we were in a much larger passage than before.  Along it
we hurried in breathless impatience for many hundreds of yards. 
Then, suddenly, in the black darkness of the arch in front of us
we saw a gleam of dark red light.  We stared in amazement. 
A sheet of steady flame seemed to cross the passage and to bar
our way.  We hastened towards it.  No sound, no heat, no movement
came from it, but still the great luminous curtain glowed before us,
silvering all the cave and turning the sand to powdered jewels,
until as we drew closer it discovered a circular edge.

"The moon, by George!" cried Lord John.  "We are through, boys!
We are through!"

It was indeed the full moon which shone straight down the
aperture which opened upon the cliffs.  It was a small rift, not
larger than a window, but it was enough for all our purposes. 
As we craned our necks through it we could see that the descent was
not a very difficult one, and that the level ground was no very
great way below us.  It was no wonder that from below we had not
observed the place, as the cliffs curved overhead and an ascent
at the spot would have seemed so impossible as to discourage
close inspection.  We satisfied ourselves that with the help of
our rope we could find our way down, and then returned, rejoicing,
to our camp to make our preparations for the next evening.

What we did we had to do quickly and secretly, since even at this
last hour the Indians might hold us back.  Our stores we would
leave behind us, save only our guns and cartridges.  But Challenger
had some unwieldy stuff which he ardently desired to take with him,
and one particular package, of which I may not speak, which gave
us more labor than any.  Slowly the day passed, but when the
darkness fell we were ready for our departure.  With much labor
we got our things up the steps, and then, looking back, took one
last long survey of that strange land, soon I fear to be vulgarized,
the prey of hunter and prospector, but to each of us a dreamland
of glamour and romance, a land where we had dared much, suffered
much, and learned much--OUR land, as we shall ever fondly call it. 
Along upon our left the neighboring caves each threw out its ruddy
cheery firelight into the gloom.  From the slope below us rose the
voices of the Indians as they laughed and sang.  Beyond was the
long sweep of the woods, and in the center, shimmering vaguely
through the gloom, was the great lake, the mother of strange monsters. 
Even as we looked a high whickering cry, the call of some weird
animal, rang clear out of the darkness.  It was the very voice of
Maple White Land bidding us good-bye.  We turned and plunged into
the cave which led to home.

Two hours later, we, our packages, and all we owned, were at the
foot of the cliff.  Save for Challenger's luggage we had never
a difficulty.  Leaving it all where we descended, we started at
once for Zambo's camp.  In the early morning we approached it,
but only to find, to our amazement, not one fire but a dozen upon
the plain.  The rescue party had arrived.  There were twenty
Indians from the river, with stakes, ropes, and all that could be
useful for bridging the chasm.  At least we shall have no
difficulty now in carrying our packages, when to-morrow we begin
to make our way back to the Amazon.

And so, in humble and thankful mood, I close this account. 
Our eyes have seen great wonders and our souls are chastened
by what we have endured.  Each is in his own way a better and
deeper man.  It may be that when we reach Para we shall stop
to refit.  If we do, this letter will be a mail ahead.  If not,
it will reach London on the very day that I do.  In either case,
my dear Mr. McArdle, I hope very soon to shake you by the hand.

                           CHAPTER XVI

                  "A Procession!  A Procession!"

I should wish to place upon record here our gratitude to all our
friends upon the Amazon for the very great kindness and
hospitality which was shown to us upon our return journey. 
Very particularly would I thank Senhor Penalosa and other officials
of the Brazilian Government for the special arrangements by which
we were helped upon our way, and Senhor Pereira of Para, to whose
forethought we owe the complete outfit for a decent appearance in
the civilized world which we found ready for us at that town. 
It seemed a poor return for all the courtesy which we encountered
that we should deceive our hosts and benefactors, but under the
circumstances we had really no alternative, and I hereby tell
them that they will only waste their time and their money if they
attempt to follow upon our traces.  Even the names have been
altered in our accounts, and I am very sure that no one, from the
most careful study of them, could come within a thousand miles of
our unknown land.

The excitement which had been caused through those parts of South
America which we had to traverse was imagined by us to be purely
local, and I can assure our friends in England that we had no
notion of the uproar which the mere rumor of our experiences had
caused through Europe.  It was not until the Ivernia was within
five hundred miles of Southampton that the wireless messages from
paper after paper and agency after agency, offering huge prices
for a short return message as to our actual results, showed us
how strained was the attention not only of the scientific world
but of the general public.  It was agreed among us, however, that
no definite statement should be given to the Press until we had
met the members of the Zoological Institute, since as delegates it
was our clear duty to give our first report to the body from which
we had received our commission of investigation.  Thus, although
we found Southampton full of Pressmen, we absolutely refused to
give any information, which had the natural effect of focussing
public attention upon the meeting which was advertised for the
evening of November 7th.  For this gathering, the Zoological Hall
which had been the scene of the inception of our task was found
to be far too small, and it was only in the Queen's Hall in Regent
Street that accommodation could be found.  It is now common
knowledge the promoters might have ventured upon the Albert Hall
and still found their space too scanty.

It was for the second evening after our arrival that the great
meeting had been fixed.  For the first, we had each, no doubt,
our own pressing personal affairs to absorb us.  Of mine I cannot
yet speak.  It may be that as it stands further from me I may
think of it, and even speak of it, with less emotion.  I have
shown the reader in the beginning of this narrative where lay the
springs of my action.  It is but right, perhaps, that I should
carry on the tale and show also the results.  And yet the day may
come when I would not have it otherwise.  At least I have been
driven forth to take part in a wondrous adventure, and I cannot
but be thankful to the force that drove me.

And now I turn to the last supreme eventful moment of our adventure. 
As I was racking my brain as to how I should best describe it, my
eyes fell upon the issue of my own Journal for the morning of the
8th of November with the full and excellent account of my friend
and fellow-reporter Macdona.  What can I do better than transcribe
his narrative--head-lines and all?  I admit that the paper was
exuberant in the matter, out of compliment to its own enterprise
in sending a correspondent, but the other great dailies were hardly
less full in their account.  Thus, then, friend Mac in his report:

                           THE NEW WORLD
                 GREAT MEETING AT THE QUEEN'S HALL
                          SCENES OF UPROAR
                       EXTRAORDINARY INCIDENT
                            WHAT WAS IT?
                 NOCTURNAL RIOT IN REGENT STREET
                             (Special)

"The much-discussed meeting of the Zoological Institute, convened
to hear the report of the Committee of Investigation sent out
last year to South America to test the assertions made by
Professor Challenger as to the continued existence of prehistoric
life upon that Continent, was held last night in the greater
Queen's Hall, and it is safe to say that it is likely to be a red
letter date in the history of Science, for the proceedings were
of so remarkable and sensational a character that no one present
is ever likely to forget them."  (Oh, brother scribe Macdona, what
a monstrous opening sentence!)  "The tickets were theoretically
confined to members and their friends, but the latter is an
elastic term, and long before eight o'clock, the hour fixed for
the commencement of the proceedings, all parts of the Great Hall
were tightly packed.  The general public, however, which most
unreasonably entertained a grievance at having been excluded,
stormed the doors at a quarter to eight, after a prolonged melee
in which several people were injured, including Inspector Scoble
of H. Division, whose leg was unfortunately broken.  After this
unwarrantable invasion, which not only filled every passage, but
even intruded upon the space set apart for the Press, it is
estimated that nearly five thousand people awaited the arrival of
the travelers.  When they eventually appeared, they took their
places in the front of a platform which already contained all the
leading scientific men, not only of this country, but of France
and of Germany.  Sweden was also represented, in the person of
Professor Sergius, the famous Zoologist of the University of Upsala.
The entrance of the four heroes of the occasion was the signal
for a remarkable demonstration of welcome, the whole audience
rising and cheering for some minutes.  An acute observer might,
however, have detected some signs of dissent amid the applause,
and gathered that the proceedings were likely to become more
lively than harmonious.  It may safely be prophesied, however,
that no one could have foreseen the extraordinary turn which they
were actually to take.

"Of the appearance of the four wanderers little need be said,
since their photographs have for some time been appearing in all
the papers.  They bear few traces of the hardships which they are
said to have undergone.  Professor Challenger's beard may be more
shaggy, Professor Summerlee's features more ascetic, Lord John
Roxton's figure more gaunt, and all three may be burned to a
darker tint than when they left our shores, but each appeared to
be in most excellent health.  As to our own representative, the
well-known athlete and international Rugby football player, E. D.
Malone, he looks trained to a hair, and as he surveyed the crowd
a smile of good-humored contentment pervaded his honest but
homely face."  (All right, Mac, wait till I get you alone!)

"When quiet had been restored and the audience resumed their
seats after the ovation which they had given to the travelers,
the chairman, the Duke of Durham, addressed the meeting.  `He
would not,' he said, `stand for more than a moment between that
vast assembly and the treat which lay before them.  It was not
for him to anticipate what Professor Summerlee, who was the
spokesman of the committee, had to say to them, but it was common
rumor that their expedition had been crowned by extraordinary
success.'  (Applause.)  `Apparently the age of romance was not
dead, and there was common ground upon which the wildest
imaginings of the novelist could meet the actual scientific
investigations of the searcher for truth.  He would only add,
before he sat down, that he rejoiced--and all of them would
rejoice--that these gentlemen had returned safe and sound from
their difficult and dangerous task, for it cannot be denied that
any disaster to such an expedition would have inflicted a
well-nigh irreparable loss to the cause of Zoological science.' 
(Great applause, in which Professor Challenger was observed to join.)

"Professor Summerlee's rising was the signal for another
extraordinary outbreak of enthusiasm, which broke out again at
intervals throughout his address.  That address will not be given
in extenso in these columns, for the reason that a full account
of the whole adventures of the expedition is being published as
a supplement from the pen of our own special correspondent. 
Some general indications will therefore suffice. Having described
the genesis of their journey, and paid a handsome tribute to his
friend Professor Challenger, coupled with an apology for the
incredulity with which his assertions, now fully vindicated, had
been received, he gave the actual course of their journey,
carefully withholding such information as would aid the public in
any attempt to locate this remarkable plateau.  Having described,
in general terms, their course from the main river up to the time
that they actually reached the base of the cliffs, he enthralled
his hearers by his account of the difficulties encountered by the
expedition in their repeated attempts to mount them, and finally
described how they succeeded in their desperate endeavors,
which cost the lives of their two devoted half-breed servants." 
(This amazing reading of the affair was the result of Summerlee's
endeavors to avoid raising any questionable matter at the meeting.)

"Having conducted his audience in fancy to the summit, and
marooned them there by reason of the fall of their bridge, the
Professor proceeded to describe both the horrors and the
attractions of that remarkable land.  Of personal adventures he
said little, but laid stress upon the rich harvest reaped by
Science in the observations of the wonderful beast, bird, insect,
and plant life of the plateau.  Peculiarly rich in the coleoptera
and in the lepidoptera, forty-six new species of the one and
ninety-four of the other had been secured in the course of a
few weeks.  It was, however, in the larger animals, and especially
in the larger animals supposed to have been long extinct, that the
interest of the public was naturally centered.  Of these he was
able to give a goodly list, but had little doubt that it would be
largely extended when the place had been more thoroughly investigated. 
He and his companions had seen at least a dozen creatures, most of
them at a distance, which corresponded with nothing at present
known to Science.  These would in time be duly classified
and examined.  He instanced a snake, the cast skin of which,
deep purple in color, was fifty-one feet in length, and
mentioned a white creature, supposed to be mammalian, which gave
forth well-marked phosphorescence in the darkness; also a large
black moth, the bite of which was supposed by the Indians to be
highly poisonous.  Setting aside these entirely new forms of
life, the plateau was very rich in known prehistoric forms,
dating back in some cases to early Jurassic times.  Among these
he mentioned the gigantic and grotesque stegosaurus, seen once by
Mr. Malone at a drinking-place by the lake, and drawn in the
sketch-book of that adventurous American who had first penetrated
this unknown world.  He described also the iguanodon and the
pterodactyl--two of the first of the wonders which they
had encountered.  He then thrilled the assembly by some account
of the terrible carnivorous dinosaurs, which had on more than one
occasion pursued members of the party, and which were the most
formidable of all the creatures which they had encountered. 
Thence he passed to the huge and ferocious bird, the phororachus,
and to the great elk which still roams upon this upland.  It was
not, however, until he sketched the mysteries of the central lake
that the full interest and enthusiasm of the audience were aroused. 
One had to pinch oneself to be sure that one was awake as one
heard this sane and practical Professor in cold measured
tones describing the monstrous three-eyed fish-lizards and the
huge water-snakes which inhabit this enchanted sheet of water. 
Next he touched upon the Indians, and upon the extraordinary
colony of anthropoid apes, which might be looked upon as an
advance upon the pithecanthropus of Java, and as coming therefore
nearer than any known form to that hypothetical creation, the
missing link.  Finally he described, amongst some merriment, the
ingenious but highly dangerous aeronautic invention of Professor
Challenger, and wound up a most memorable address by an account
of the methods by which the committee did at last find their way
back to civilization.

"It had been hoped that the proceedings would end there, and that
a vote of thanks and congratulation, moved by Professor Sergius,
of Upsala University, would be duly seconded and carried; but it
was soon evident that the course of events was not destined to
flow so smoothly.  Symptoms of opposition had been evident from
time to time during the evening, and now Dr. James Illingworth, of
Edinburgh, rose in the center of the hall.  Dr. Illingworth asked
whether an amendment should not be taken before a resolution.

"THE CHAIRMAN:  `Yes, sir, if there must be an amendment.'

"DR. ILLINGWORTH:  `Your Grace, there must be an amendment.'

"THE CHAIRMAN:  `Then let us take it at once.'

"PROFESSOR SUMMERLEE (springing to his feet):  `Might I explain,
your Grace, that this man is my personal enemy ever since our
controversy in the Quarterly Journal of Science as to the true
nature of Bathybius?'

"THE CHAIRMAN:  `I fear I cannot go into personal matters.  Proceed.'

"Dr. Illingworth was imperfectly heard in part of his remarks on
account of the strenuous opposition of the friends of the explorers. 
Some attempts were also made to pull him down.  Being a man of
enormous physique, however, and possessed of a very powerful
voice, he dominated the tumult and succeeded in finishing
his speech.  It was clear, from the moment of his rising, that
he had a number of friends and sympathizers in the hall, though
they formed a minority in the audience.  The attitude of the
greater part of the public might be described as one of
attentive neutrality.

"Dr. Illingworth began his remarks by expressing his high
appreciation of the scientific work both of Professor Challenger
and of Professor Summerlee.  He much regretted that any personal
bias should have been read into his remarks, which were entirely
dictated by his desire for scientific truth.  His position, in
fact, was substantially the same as that taken up by Professor
Summerlee at the last meeting.  At that last meeting Professor
Challenger had made certain assertions which had been queried by
his colleague.  Now this colleague came forward himself with the
same assertions and expected them to remain unquestioned.  Was this
reasonable?  (`Yes,' `No,' and prolonged interruption, during
which Professor Challenger was heard from the Press box to ask
leave from the chairman to put Dr. Illingworth into the street.) 
A year ago one man said certain things.  Now four men said other
and more startling ones.  Was this to constitute a final proof
where the matters in question were of the most revolutionary and
incredible character?  There had been recent examples of travelers
arriving from the unknown with certain tales which had been too
readily accepted.  Was the London Zoological Institute to place
itself in this position?  He admitted that the members of the
committee were men of character.  But human nature was very complex. 
Even Professors might be misled by the desire for notoriety. 
Like moths, we all love best to flutter in the light. 
Heavy-game shots liked to be in a position to cap the tales of
their rivals, and journalists were not averse from sensational
coups, even when imagination had to aid fact in the process. 
Each member of the committee had his own motive for making the
most of his results.  (`Shame! shame!')  He had no desire to be
offensive.  (`You are!' and interruption.)  The corroboration of
these wondrous tales was really of the most slender description. 
What did it amount to?  Some photographs. {Was it possible that in
this age of ingenious manipulation photographs could be accepted
as evidence?}  What more?  We have a story of a flight and a descent
by ropes which precluded the production of larger specimens.  It was
ingenious, but not convincing.  It was understood that Lord John
Roxton claimed to have the skull of a phororachus.  He could
only say that he would like to see that skull.

"LORD JOHN ROXTON:  `Is this fellow calling me a liar?' (Uproar.)

"THE CHAIRMAN:  `Order! order!  Dr. Illingworth, I must direct you
to bring your remarks to a conclusion and to move your amendment.'

"DR. ILLINGWORTH:  `Your Grace, I have more to say, but I bow to
your ruling.  I move, then, that, while Professor Summerlee be
thanked for his interesting address, the whole matter shall be
regarded as `non-proven,' and shall be referred back to a larger,
and possibly more reliable Committee of Investigation.'

"It is difficult to describe the confusion caused by this amendment. 
A large section of the audience expressed their indignation at such
a slur upon the travelers by noisy shouts of dissent and cries of,
`Don't put it!'  `Withdraw!'  `Turn him out!'  On the other hand,
the malcontents--and it cannot be denied that they were fairly
numerous--cheered for the amendment, with cries of `Order!' 
`Chair!' and `Fair play!'  A scuffle broke out in the back benches,
and blows were freely exchanged among the medical students who
crowded that part of the hall.  It was only the moderating
influence of the presence of large numbers of ladies which
prevented an absolute riot.  Suddenly, however, there was a
pause, a hush, and then complete silence.  Professor Challenger
was on his feet.  His appearance and manner are peculiarly
arresting, and as he raised his hand for order the whole
audience settled down expectantly to give him a hearing.

"`It will be within the recollection of many present,' said
Professor Challenger, `that similar foolish and unmannerly scenes
marked the last meeting at which I have been able to address them. 
On that occasion Professor Summerlee was the chief offender, and
though he is now chastened and contrite, the matter could not be
entirely forgotten.  I have heard to-night similar, but even more
offensive, sentiments from the person who has just sat down, and
though it is a conscious effort of self-effacement to come down
to that person's mental level, I will endeavor to do so, in order
to allay any reasonable doubt which could possibly exist in the
minds of anyone.'  (Laughter and interruption.)  `I need not remind
this audience that, though Professor Summerlee, as the head of the
Committee of Investigation, has been put up to speak to-night,
still it is I who am the real prime mover in this business, and
that it is mainly to me that any successful result must be ascribed. 
I have safely conducted these three gentlemen to the spot mentioned,
and I have, as you have heard, convinced them of the accuracy of
my previous account.  We had hoped that we should find upon our
return that no one was so dense as to dispute our joint conclusions. 
Warned, however, by my previous experience, I have not come without
such proofs as may convince a reasonable man.  As explained by
Professor Summerlee, our cameras have been tampered with by the ape-
men when they ransacked our camp, and most of our negatives ruined.' 
(Jeers, laughter, and `Tell us another!' from the back.)  `I have
mentioned the ape-men, and I cannot forbear from saying that some
of the sounds which now meet my ears bring back most vividly to
my recollection my experiences with those interesting creatures.'
(Laughter.)  `In spite of the destruction of so many invaluable
negatives, there still remains in our collection a certain number
of corroborative photographs showing the conditions of life upon
the plateau.  Did they accuse them of having forged these photographs?' 
(A voice, `Yes,' and considerable interruption which ended in
several men being put out of the hall.)  `The negatives were open
to the inspection of experts.  But what other evidence had they? 
Under the conditions of their escape it was naturally impossible
to bring a large amount of baggage, but they had rescued Professor
Summerlee's collections of butterflies and beetles, containing
many new species.  Was this not evidence?'  (Several voices, `No.') 
`Who said no?'

"DR. ILLINGWORTH (rising):  `Our point is that such a collection
might have been made in other places than a prehistoric plateau.'
(Applause.)

"PROFESSOR CHALLENGER:  `No doubt, sir, we have to bow to your
scientific authority, although I must admit that the name
is unfamiliar.  Passing, then, both the photographs and the
entomological collection, I come to the varied and accurate
information which we bring with us upon points which have never
before been elucidated.  For example, upon the domestic habits of
the pterodactyl--`(A voice:  `Bosh,' and uproar)--`I say, that
upon the domestic habits of the pterodactyl we can throw a flood
of light.  I can exhibit to you from my portfolio a picture of
that creature taken from life which would convince you----'

"DR. ILLINGWORTH:  `No picture could convince us of anything.'
 
"PROFESSOR CHALLENGER:  `You would require to see the thing itself?'

"DR. ILLINGWORTH:  `Undoubtedly.'

"PROFESSOR CHALLENGER:  `And you would accept that?'

"DR. ILLINGWORTH (laughing):  `Beyond a doubt.'

"It was at this point that the sensation of the evening arose--a
sensation so dramatic that it can never have been paralleled in
the history of scientific gatherings.  Professor Challenger
raised his hand in the air as a signal, and at once our
colleague, Mr. E. D. Malone, was observed to rise and to make his
way to the back of the platform.  An instant later he re-appeared
in company of a gigantic negro, the two of them bearing between
them a large square packing-case.  It was evidently of great
weight, and was slowly carried forward and placed in front of
the Professor's chair.  All sound had hushed in the audience
and everyone was absorbed in the spectacle before them. 
Professor Challenger drew off the top of the case, which formed
a sliding lid.  Peering down into the box he snapped his fingers
several times and was heard from the Press seat to say, `Come,
then, pretty, pretty!' in a coaxing voice.  An instant later,
with a scratching, rattling sound, a most horrible and loathsome
creature appeared from below and perched itself upon the side of
the case.  Even the unexpected fall of the Duke of Durham into
the orchestra, which occurred at this moment, could not distract
the petrified attention of the vast audience.  The face of the
creature was like the wildest gargoyle that the imagination of a
mad medieval builder could have conceived.  It was malicious,
horrible, with two small red eyes as bright as points of
burning coal.  Its long, savage mouth, which was held half-open,
was full of a double row of shark-like teeth.  Its shoulders were
humped, and round them were draped what appeared to be a faded
gray shawl.  It was the devil of our childhood in person.  There was
a turmoil in the audience--someone screamed, two ladies in the
front row fell senseless from their chairs, and there was a
general movement upon the platform to follow their chairman into
the orchestra.  For a moment there was danger of a general panic. 
Professor Challenger threw up his hands to still the commotion,
but the movement alarmed the creature beside him.  Its strange
shawl suddenly unfurled, spread, and fluttered as a pair of
leathery wings.  Its owner grabbed at its legs, but too late to
hold it.  It had sprung from the perch and was circling slowly
round the Queen's Hall with a dry, leathery flapping of its
ten-foot wings, while a putrid and insidious odor pervaded
the room.  The cries of the people in the galleries, who were
alarmed at the near approach of those glowing eyes and that
murderous beak, excited the creature to a frenzy.  Faster and
faster it flew, beating against walls and chandeliers in a blind
frenzy of alarm.  `The window!  For heaven's sake shut that window!'
roared the Professor from the platform, dancing and wringing his
hands in an agony of apprehension.  Alas, his warning was too late! 
In a moment the creature, beating and bumping along the wall like a
huge moth within a gas-shade, came upon the opening, squeezed its
hideous bulk through it, and was gone.  Professor Challenger fell
back into his chair with his face buried in his hands, while the
audience gave one long, deep sigh of relief as they realized that
the incident was over.

"Then--oh! how shall one describe what took place then--when the
full exuberance of the majority and the full reaction of the
minority united to make one great wave of enthusiasm, which
rolled from the back of the hall, gathering volume as it came,
swept over the orchestra, submerged the platform, and carried the
four heroes away upon its crest?"  (Good for you, Mac!)  "If the
audience had done less than justice, surely it made ample amends. 
Every one was on his feet.  Every one was moving, shouting,
gesticulating.  A dense crowd of cheering men were round the four
travelers.  `Up with them! up with them!' cried a hundred voices. 
In a moment four figures shot up above the crowd.  In vain they
strove to break loose.  They were held in their lofty places
of honor.  It would have been hard to let them down if it had
been wished, so dense  was the crowd around them.  `Regent Street!  
Regent Street!' sounded the voices.  There was a swirl in the
packed multitude, and a slow current, bearing the four upon their
shoulders, made for the door.  Out in the street the scene was
extraordinary.  An assemblage of not less than a hundred thousand
people was waiting.  The close-packed throng extended from the
other side of the Langham Hotel to Oxford Circus.  A roar of
acclamation greeted the four adventurers as they appeared, high
above the heads of the people, under the vivid electric lamps
outside the hall.  `A procession!  A procession!' was the cry. 
In a dense phalanx, blocking the streets from side to side, the
crowd set forth, taking the route of Regent Street, Pall Mall,
St. James's Street, and Piccadilly.  The whole central traffic
of London was held up, and many collisions were reported between
the demonstrators upon the one side and the police and taxi-cabmen
upon the other.  Finally, it was not until after midnight that
the four travelers were released at the entrance to Lord John
Roxton's chambers in the Albany, and that the exuberant crowd,
having sung `They are Jolly Good Fellows' in chorus, concluded
their program with `God Save the King.' So ended one of the most
remarkable evenings that London has seen for a considerable time."

So far my friend Macdona; and it may be taken as a fairly
accurate, if florid, account of the proceedings.  As to the main
incident, it was a bewildering surprise to the audience, but not,
I need hardly say, to us.  The reader will remember how I met
Lord John Roxton upon the very occasion when, in his protective
crinoline, he had gone to bring the "Devil's chick" as he called
it, for Professor Challenger.  I have hinted also at the trouble
which the Professor's baggage gave us when we left the plateau,
and had I described our voyage I might have said a good deal of
the worry we had to coax with putrid fish the appetite of our
filthy companion.  If I have not said much about it before, it
was, of course, that the Professor's earnest desire was that no
possible rumor of the unanswerable argument which we carried
should be allowed to leak out until the moment came when his
enemies were to be confuted.

One word as to the fate of the London pterodactyl.  Nothing can
be said to be certain upon this point.  There is the evidence of
two frightened women that it perched upon the roof of the Queen's
Hall and remained there like a diabolical statue for some hours. 
The next day it came out in the evening papers that Private
Miles, of the Coldstream Guards, on duty outside Marlborough
House, had deserted his post without leave, and was therefore
courtmartialed.  Private Miles' account, that he dropped his
rifle and took to his heels down the Mall because on looking up
he had suddenly seen the devil between him and the moon, was not
accepted by the Court, and yet it may have a direct bearing upon
the point at issue.  The only other evidence which I can adduce
is from the log of the SS. Friesland, a Dutch-American liner,
which asserts that at nine next morning, Start Point being at the
time ten miles upon their starboard quarter, they were passed by
something between a flying goat and a monstrous bat, which was
heading at a prodigious pace south and west.  If its homing
instinct led it upon the right line, there can be no doubt that
somewhere out in the wastes of the Atlantic the last European
pterodactyl found its end.

And Gladys--oh, my Gladys!--Gladys of the mystic lake, now to be
re-named the Central, for never shall she have immortality
through me.  Did I not always see some hard fiber in her nature? 
Did I not, even at the time when I was proud to obey her behest,
feel that it was surely a poor love which could drive a lover to
his death or the danger of it?  Did I not, in my truest thoughts,
always recurring and always dismissed, see past the beauty of the
face, and, peering into the soul, discern the twin shadows of
selfishness and of fickleness glooming at the back of it?  Did she
love the heroic and the spectacular for its own noble sake, or
was it for the glory which might, without effort or sacrifice, be
reflected upon herself?  Or are these thoughts the vain wisdom
which comes after the event?  It was the shock of my life.  For a
moment it had turned me to a cynic.  But already, as I write, a
week has passed, and we have had our momentous interview with
Lord John Roxton and--well, perhaps things might be worse.

Let me tell it in a few words.  No letter or telegram had come to
me at Southampton, and I reached the little villa at Streatham
about ten o'clock that night in a fever of alarm.  Was she dead
or alive?  Where were all my nightly dreams of the open arms, the
smiling face, the words of praise for her man who had risked his
life to humor her whim?  Already I was down from the high peaks
and standing flat-footed upon earth.  Yet some good reasons given
might still lift me to the clouds once more.  I rushed down the
garden path, hammered at the door, heard the voice of Gladys
within, pushed past the staring maid, and strode into the
sitting-room.  She was seated in a low settee under the shaded
standard lamp by the piano.  In three steps I was across the room
and had both her hands in mine.

"Gladys!" I cried, "Gladys!"

She looked up with amazement in her face.  She was altered in some
subtle way.  The expression of her eyes, the hard upward stare,
the set of the lips, was new to me.  She drew back her hands.

"What do you mean?" she said.

"Gladys!" I cried.  "What is the matter?  You are my Gladys, are
you not--little Gladys Hungerton?"

"No," said she, "I am Gladys Potts.  Let me introduce you to
my husband."

How absurd life is!  I found myself mechanically bowing and
shaking hands with a little ginger-haired man who was coiled up
in the deep arm-chair which had once been sacred to my own use. 
We bobbed and grinned in front of each other.

"Father lets us stay here.  We are getting our house ready,"
said Gladys.

"Oh, yes," said I.

"You didn't get my letter at Para, then?"

"No, I got no letter."

"Oh, what a pity!  It would have made all clear."

"It is quite clear," said I.

"I've told William all about you," said she.  "We have no secrets. 
I am so sorry about it.  But it couldn't have been so very deep,
could it, if you could go off to the other end of the world and
leave me here alone.  You're not crabby, are you?"

"No, no, not at all.  I think I'll go."

"Have some refreshment," said the little man, and he added, in a
confidential way, "It's always like this, ain't it?  And must be
unless you had polygamy, only the other way round; you understand." 
He laughed like an idiot, while I made for the door.

I was through it, when a sudden fantastic impulse came upon me,
and I went back to my successful rival, who looked nervously at
the electric push.

"Will you answer a question?" I asked.

"Well, within reason," said he.

"How did you do it?  Have you searched for hidden treasure, or
discovered a pole, or done time on a pirate, or flown the
Channel, or what?  Where is the glamour of romance?  How did you
get it?"

He stared at me with a hopeless expression upon his vacuous,
good-natured, scrubby little face.

"Don't you think all this is a little too personal?" he said.

"Well, just one question," I cried.  "What are you?  What is
your profession?"

"I am a solicitor's clerk," said he.  "Second man at Johnson and
Merivale's, 41 Chancery Lane."

"Good-night!" said I, and vanished, like all disconsolate and
broken-hearted heroes, into the darkness, with grief and rage
and laughter all simmering within me like a boiling pot.

One more little scene, and I have done.  Last night we all supped
at Lord John Roxton's rooms, and sitting together afterwards we
smoked in good comradeship and talked our adventures over.  It was
strange under these altered surroundings to see the old, well-known
faces and figures.  There was Challenger, with his smile of
condescension, his drooping eyelids, his intolerant eyes, his
aggressive beard, his huge chest, swelling and puffing as he laid
down the law to Summerlee.  And Summerlee, too, there he was with
his short briar between his thin moustache and his gray goat's-
beard, his worn face protruded in eager debate as he queried all
Challenger's propositions.  Finally, there was our host, with his
rugged, eagle face, and his cold, blue, glacier eyes with always
a shimmer of devilment and of humor down in the depths of them. 
Such is the last picture of them that I have carried away.

It was after supper, in his own sanctum--the room of the pink
radiance and the innumerable trophies--that Lord John Roxton had
something to say to us.  From a cupboard he had brought an old
cigar-box, and this he laid before him on the table.

"There's one thing," said he, "that maybe I should have spoken
about before this, but I wanted to know a little more clearly
where I was.  No use to raise hopes and let them down again. 
But it's facts, not hopes, with us now.  You may remember that day
we found the pterodactyl rookery in the swamp--what?  Well, somethin'
in the lie of the land took my notice.  Perhaps it has escaped you,
so I will tell you.  It was a volcanic vent full of blue clay." 
The Professors nodded.

"Well, now, in the whole world I've only had to do with one place
that was a volcanic vent of blue clay.  That was the great De
Beers Diamond Mine of Kimberley--what?  So you see I got diamonds
into my head.  I rigged up a contraption to hold off those
stinking beasts, and I spent a happy day there with a spud. 
This is what I got."

He opened his cigar-box, and tilting it over he poured about
twenty or thirty rough stones, varying from the size of beans to
that of chestnuts, on the table.

"Perhaps you think I should have told you then.  Well, so I
should, only I know there are a lot of traps for the unwary, and
that stones may be of any size and yet of little value where
color and consistency are clean off.  Therefore, I brought them
back, and on the first day at home I took one round to Spink's,
and asked him to have it roughly cut and valued."

He took a pill-box from his pocket, and spilled out of it a
beautiful glittering diamond, one of the finest stones that I
have ever seen.

"There's the result," said he.  "He prices the lot at a minimum
of two hundred thousand pounds.  Of course it is fair shares
between us.  I won't hear of anythin' else.  Well, Challenger,
what will you do with your fifty thousand?"

"If you really persist in your generous view," said the
Professor, "I should found a private museum, which has long been
one of my dreams."

"And you, Summerlee?"

"I would retire from teaching, and so find time for my final
classification of the chalk fossils."

"I'll use my own," said Lord John Roxton, "in fitting a
well-formed expedition and having another look at the dear
old plateau.  As to you, young fellah, you, of course, will
spend yours in gettin' married."

"Not just yet," said I, with a rueful smile.  "I think, if you
will have me, that I would rather go with you."

Lord Roxton said nothing, but a brown hand was stretched out to
me across the table.

[End.]
.

Colophon

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