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Chapter 16 A Procession! A Procession!

  • I should wish to place upon record here our gratitude to all our friends upo_he Amazon for the very great kindness and hospitality which was shown to u_pon our return journey. Very particularly would I thank Senhor Penalosa an_ther officials of the Brazilian Government for the special arrangements b_hich we were helped upon our way, and Senhor Pereira of Para, to whos_orethought we owe the complete outfit for a decent appearance in th_ivilized world which we found ready for us at that town. It seemed a poo_eturn for all the courtesy which we encountered that we should deceive ou_osts and benefactors, but under the circumstances we had really n_lternative, and I hereby tell them that they will only waste their time an_heir money if they attempt to follow upon our traces. Even the names hav_een altered in our accounts, and I am very sure that no one, from the mos_areful study of them, could come within a thousand miles of our unknown land.
  • The excitement which had been caused through those parts of South Americ_hich we had to traverse was imagined by us to be purely local, and I ca_ssure our friends in England that we had no notion of the uproar which th_ere rumor of our experiences had caused through Europe. It was not until th_vernia was within five hundred miles of Southampton that the wireles_essages from paper after paper and agency after agency, offering huge price_or a short return message as to our actual results, showed us how straine_as 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 t_he Press until we had met the members of the Zoological Institute, since a_elegates it was our clear duty to give our first report to the body fro_hich we had received our commission of investigation. Thus, although we foun_outhampton full of Pressmen, we absolutely refused to give any information, which had the natural effect of focussing public attention upon the meetin_hich was advertised for the evening of November 7th. For this gathering, th_oological Hall which had been the scene of the inception of our task wa_ound to be far too small, and it was only in the Queen's Hall in Regen_treet that accommodation could be found. It is now common knowledge th_romoters might have ventured upon the Albert Hall and still found their spac_oo scanty.
  • It was for the second evening after our arrival that the great meeting ha_een fixed. For the first, we had each, no doubt, our own pressing persona_ffairs to absorb us. Of mine I cannot yet speak. It may be that as it stand_urther from me I may think of it, and even speak of it, with less emotion. _ave shown the reader in the beginning of this narrative where lay the spring_f my action. It is but right, perhaps, that I should carry on the tale an_how also the results. And yet the day may come when I would not have i_therwise. At least I have been driven forth to take part in a wondrou_dventure, 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 wa_acking my brain as to how I should best describe it, my eyes fell upon th_ssue of my own Journal for the morning of the 8th of November with the ful_nd excellent account of my friend and fellow-reporter Macdona. What can I d_etter than transcribe his narrative—head-lines and all? I admit that th_aper was exuberant in the matter, out of compliment to its own enterprise i_ending a correspondent, but the other great dailies were hardly less full i_heir 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 th_eport of the Committee of Investigation sent out last year to South Americ_o test the assertions made by Professor Challenger as to the continue_xistence of prehistoric life upon that Continent, was held last night in th_reater Queen's Hall, and it is safe to say that it is likely to be a re_etter date in the history of Science, for the proceedings were of s_emarkable and sensational a character that no one present is ever likely t_orget them." (Oh, brother scribe Macdona, what a monstrous opening sentence!)
  • "The tickets were theoretically confined to members and their friends, but th_atter is an elastic term, and long before eight o'clock, the hour fixed fo_he commencement of the proceedings, all parts of the Great Hall were tightl_acked. The general public, however, which most unreasonably entertained _rievance at having been excluded, stormed the doors at a quarter to eight, after a prolonged melee in which several people were injured, includin_nspector Scoble of H. Division, whose leg was unfortunately broken. Afte_his unwarrantable invasion, which not only filled every passage, but eve_ntruded upon the space set apart for the Press, it is estimated that nearl_ive thousand people awaited the arrival of the travelers. When the_ventually appeared, they took their places in the front of a platform whic_lready contained all the leading scientific men, not only of this country, but of France and of Germany. Sweden was also represented, in the person o_rofessor Sergius, the famous Zoologist of the University of Upsala. Th_ntrance of the four heroes of the occasion was the signal for a remarkabl_emonstration of welcome, the whole audience rising and cheering for som_inutes. An acute observer might, however, have detected some signs of dissen_mid the applause, and gathered that the proceedings were likely to becom_ore lively than harmonious. It may safely be prophesied, however, that no on_ould have foreseen the extraordinary turn which they were actually to take.
  • "Of the appearance of the four wanderers little need be said, since thei_hotographs have for some time been appearing in all the papers. They bear fe_races of the hardships which they are said to have undergone. Professo_hallenger's beard may be more shaggy, Professor Summerlee's features mor_scetic, Lord John Roxton's figure more gaunt, and all three may be burned t_ darker tint than when they left our shores, but each appeared to be in mos_xcellent health. As to our own representative, the well-known athlete an_nternational 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 hi_onest but homely face." (All right, Mac, wait till I get you alone!)
  • "When quiet had been restored and the audience resumed their seats after th_vation which they had given to the travelers, the chairman, the Duke o_urham, addressed the meeting. 'He would not,' he said, 'stand for more than _oment between that vast assembly and the treat which lay before them. It wa_ot for him to anticipate what Professor Summerlee, who was the spokesman o_he committee, had to say to them, but it was common rumor that thei_xpedition had been crowned by extraordinary success.' (Applause.) 'Apparentl_he age of romance was not dead, and there was common ground upon which th_ildest imaginings of the novelist could meet the actual scientifi_nvestigations of the searcher for truth. He would only add, before he sa_own, that he rejoiced—and all of them would rejoice—that these gentlemen ha_eturned safe and sound from their difficult and dangerous task, for it canno_e denied that any disaster to such an expedition would have inflicted a well- nigh irreparable loss to the cause of Zoological science.' (Great applause, i_hich Professor Challenger was observed to join.)
  • "Professor Summerlee's rising was the signal for another extraordinar_utbreak of enthusiasm, which broke out again at intervals throughout hi_ddress. That address will not be given in extenso in these columns, for th_eason that a full account of the whole adventures of the expedition is bein_ublished as a supplement from the pen of our own special correspondent. Som_eneral indications will therefore suffice. Having described the genesis o_heir journey, and paid a handsome tribute to his friend Professor Challenger, coupled with an apology for the incredulity with which his assertions, no_ully vindicated, had been received, he gave the actual course of thei_ourney, carefully withholding such information as would aid the public in an_ttempt to locate this remarkable plateau. Having described, in general terms, their course from the main river up to the time that they actually reached th_ase of the cliffs, he enthralled his hearers by his account of th_ifficulties encountered by the expedition in their repeated attempts to moun_hem, and finally described how they succeeded in their desperate endeavors, which cost the lives of their two devoted half-breed servants." (This amazin_eading of the affair was the result of Summerlee's endeavors to avoid raisin_ny questionable matter at the meeting.)
  • "Having conducted his audience in fancy to the summit, and marooned them ther_y reason of the fall of their bridge, the Professor proceeded to describ_oth the horrors and the attractions of that remarkable land. Of persona_dventures he said little, but laid stress upon the rich harvest reaped b_cience in the observations of the wonderful beast, bird, insect, and plan_ife 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 secure_n the course of a few weeks. It was, however, in the larger animals, an_specially in the larger animals supposed to have been long extinct, that th_nterest of the public was naturally centered. Of these he was able to give _oodly list, but had little doubt that it would be largely extended when th_lace had been more thoroughly investigated. He and his companions had seen a_east a dozen creatures, most of them at a distance, which corresponded wit_othing at present known to Science. These would in time be duly classifie_nd examined. He instanced a snake, the cast skin of which, deep purple i_olor, was fifty-one feet in length, and mentioned a white creature, suppose_o 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 b_ighly poisonous. Setting aside these entirely new forms of life, the platea_as very rich in known prehistoric forms, dating back in some cases to earl_urassic times. Among these he mentioned the gigantic and grotesqu_tegosaurus, seen once by Mr. Malone at a drinking-place by the lake, an_rawn in the sketch-book of that adventurous American who had first penetrate_his unknown world. He described also the iguanodon and the pterodactyl—two o_he first of the wonders which they had encountered. He then thrilled th_ssembly by some account of the terrible carnivorous dinosaurs, which had o_ore than one occasion pursued members of the party, and which were the mos_ormidable of all the creatures which they had encountered. Thence he passe_o the huge and ferocious bird, the phororachus, and to the great elk whic_till roams upon this upland. It was not, however, until he sketched th_ysteries of the central lake that the full interest and enthusiasm of th_udience were aroused. One had to pinch oneself to be sure that one was awak_s one heard this sane and practical Professor in cold measured tone_escribing the monstrous three-eyed fish-lizards and the huge water-snake_hich inhabit this enchanted sheet of water. Next he touched upon the Indians, and upon the extraordinary colony of anthropoid apes, which might be looke_pon as an advance upon the pithecanthropus of Java, and as coming therefor_earer than any known form to that hypothetical creation, the missing link.
  • Finally he described, amongst some merriment, the ingenious but highl_angerous aeronautic invention of Professor Challenger, and wound up a mos_emorable address by an account of the methods by which the committee did a_ast find their way back to civilization.
  • "It had been hoped that the proceedings would end there, and that a vote o_hanks and congratulation, moved by Professor Sergius, of Upsala University, would be duly seconded and carried; but it was soon evident that the course o_vents was not destined to flow so smoothly. Symptoms of opposition had bee_vident 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 a_mendment 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 Quarterl_ournal 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 o_he strenuous opposition of the friends of the explorers. Some attempts wer_lso made to pull him down. Being a man of enormous physique, however, an_ossessed of a very powerful voice, he dominated the tumult and succeeded i_inishing his speech. It was clear, from the moment of his rising, that he ha_ number of friends and sympathizers in the hall, though they formed _inority in the audience. The attitude of the greater part of the public migh_e described as one of attentive neutrality.
  • "Dr. Illingworth began his remarks by expressing his high appreciation of th_cientific work both of Professor Challenger and of Professor Summerlee. H_uch 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 a_he last meeting. At that last meeting Professor Challenger had made certai_ssertions which had been queried by his colleague. Now this colleague cam_orward himself with the same assertions and expected them to remai_nquestioned. Was this reasonable? ('Yes,' 'No,' and prolonged interruption, during which Professor Challenger was heard from the Press box to ask leav_rom the chairman to put Dr. Illingworth into the street.) A year ago one ma_aid certain things. Now four men said other and more startling ones. Was thi_o constitute a final proof where the matters in question were of the mos_evolutionary and incredible character? There had been recent examples o_ravelers arriving from the unknown with certain tales which had been to_eadily accepted. Was the London Zoological Institute to place itself in thi_osition? He admitted that the members of the committee were men of character.
  • But human nature was very complex. Even Professors might be misled by th_esire 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 imaginatio_ad to aid fact in the process. Each member of the committee had his ow_otive for making the most of his results. ('Shame! shame!') He had no desir_o be offensive. ('You are!' and interruption.) The corroboration of thes_ondrous tales was really of the most slender description. What did it amoun_o? Some photographs. {Was it possible that in this age of ingeniou_anipulation photographs could be accepted as evidence? What more? We have _tory of a flight and a descent by ropes which precluded the production o_arger specimens. It was ingenious, but not convincing. It was understood tha_ord John Roxton claimed to have the skull of a phororachus. He could only sa_hat 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 you_emarks to a conclusion and to move your amendment.'
  • "DR. ILLINGWORTH: 'Your Grace, I have more to say, but I bow to your ruling. _ove, then, that, while Professor Summerlee be thanked for his interestin_ddress, the whole matter shall be regarded as 'non-proven,' and shall b_eferred back to a larger, and possibly more reliable Committee o_nvestigation.'
  • "It is difficult to describe the confusion caused by this amendment. A larg_ection of the audience expressed their indignation at such a slur upon th_ravelers 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 denie_hat 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 tha_art of the hall. It was only the moderating influence of the presence o_arge numbers of ladies which prevented an absolute riot. Suddenly, however, there was a pause, a hush, and then complete silence. Professor Challenger wa_n his feet. His appearance and manner are peculiarly arresting, and as h_aised his hand for order the whole audience settled down expectantly to giv_im a hearing.
  • "'It will be within the recollection of many present,' said Professo_hallenger, 'that similar foolish and unmannerly scenes marked the las_eeting at which I have been able to address them. On that occasion Professo_ummerlee 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, bu_ven more offensive, sentiments from the person who has just sat down, an_hough it is a conscious effort of self-effacement to come down to tha_erson's mental level, I will endeavor to do so, in order to allay an_easonable doubt which could possibly exist in the minds of anyone.' (Laughte_nd interruption.) 'I need not remind this audience that, though Professo_ummerlee, as the head of the Committee of Investigation, has been put up t_peak 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. _ave 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. W_ad hoped that we should find upon our return that no one was so dense as t_ispute our joint conclusions. Warned, however, by my previous experience, _ave not come without such proofs as may convince a reasonable man. A_xplained by Professor Summerlee, our cameras have been tampered with by th_pe- men when they ransacked our camp, and most of our negatives ruined.'
  • (Jeers, laughter, and 'Tell us another!' from the back.) 'I have mentioned th_pe-men, and I cannot forbear from saying that some of the sounds which no_eet my ears bring back most vividly to my recollection my experiences wit_hose interesting creatures.' (Laughter.) 'In spite of the destruction of s_any invaluable negatives, there still remains in our collection a certai_umber of corroborative photographs showing the conditions of life upon th_lateau. Did they accuse them of having forged these photographs?' (A voice,
  • 'Yes,' and considerable interruption which ended in several men being put ou_f the hall.) 'The negatives were open to the inspection of experts. But wha_ther evidence had they? Under the conditions of their escape it was naturall_mpossible to bring a large amount of baggage, but they had rescued Professo_ummerlee's collections of butterflies and beetles, containing many ne_pecies. Was this not evidence?' (Several voices, 'No.') 'Who said no?'
  • "DR. ILLINGWORTH (rising): 'Our point is that such a collection might hav_een made in other places than a prehistoric plateau.' (Applause.)
  • "PROFESSOR CHALLENGER: 'No doubt, sir, we have to bow to your scientifi_uthority, although I must admit that the name is unfamiliar. Passing, then, both the photographs and the entomological collection, I come to the varie_nd accurate information which we bring with us upon points which have neve_efore been elucidated. For example, upon the domestic habits of th_terodactyl—'(A voice: 'Bosh,' and uproar)—'I say, that upon the domesti_abits of the pterodactyl we can throw a flood of light. I can exhibit to yo_rom my portfolio a picture of that creature taken from life which woul_onvince 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 s_ramatic that it can never have been paralleled in the history of scientifi_atherings. Professor Challenger raised his hand in the air as a signal, an_t once our colleague, Mr. E. D. Malone, was observed to rise and to make hi_ay to the back of the platform. An instant later he re-appeared in company o_ 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 an_laced in front of the Professor's chair. All sound had hushed in the audienc_nd everyone was absorbed in the spectacle before them. Professor Challenge_rew off the top of the case, which formed a sliding lid. Peering down int_he box he snapped his fingers several times and was heard from the Press sea_o say, 'Come, then, pretty, pretty!' in a coaxing voice. An instant later, with a scratching, rattling sound, a most horrible and loathsome creatur_ppeared from below and perched itself upon the side of the case. Even th_nexpected fall of the Duke of Durham into the orchestra, which occurred a_his moment, could not distract the petrified attention of the vast audience.
  • The face of the creature was like the wildest gargoyle that the imagination o_ mad medieval builder could have conceived. It was malicious, horrible, wit_wo small red eyes as bright as points of burning coal. Its long, savag_outh, 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 _aded gray shawl. It was the devil of our childhood in person. There was _urmoil in the audience—someone screamed, two ladies in the front row fel_enseless from their chairs, and there was a general movement upon th_latform to follow their chairman into the orchestra. For a moment there wa_anger of a general panic. Professor Challenger threw up his hands to stil_he commotion, but the movement alarmed the creature beside him. Its strang_hawl 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 th_erch and was circling slowly round the Queen's Hall with a dry, leather_lapping of its ten-foot wings, while a putrid and insidious odor pervaded th_oom. The cries of the people in the galleries, who were alarmed at the nea_pproach of those glowing eyes and that murderous beak, excited the creatur_o a frenzy. Faster and faster it flew, beating against walls and chandelier_n 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 a_gony of apprehension. Alas, his warning was too late! In a moment th_reature, 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 wa_one. Professor Challenger fell back into his chair with his face buried i_is hands, while the audience gave one long, deep sigh of relief as the_ealized that the incident was over.
  • "Then—oh! how shall one describe what took place then—when the full exuberanc_f the majority and the full reaction of the minority united to make one grea_ave of enthusiasm, which rolled from the back of the hall, gathering volum_s it came, swept over the orchestra, submerged the platform, and carried th_our heroes away upon its crest?" (Good for you, Mac!) "If the audience ha_one less than justice, surely it made ample amends. Every one was on hi_eet. Every one was moving, shouting, gesticulating. A dense crowd of cheerin_en were round the four travelers. 'Up with them! up with them!' cried _undred voices. In a moment four figures shot up above the crowd. In vain the_trove to break loose. They were held in their lofty places of honor. It woul_ave been hard to let them down if it had been wished, so dense was the crow_round them. 'Regent Street! Regent Street!' sounded the voices. There was _wirl in the packed multitude, and a slow current, bearing the four upon thei_houlders, made for the door. Out in the street the scene was extraordinary.
  • An assemblage of not less than a hundred thousand people was waiting. Th_lose-packed throng extended from the other side of the Langham Hotel t_xford Circus. A roar of acclamation greeted the four adventurers as the_ppeared, high above the heads of the people, under the vivid electric lamp_utside the hall. 'A procession! A procession!' was the cry. In a dens_halanx, blocking the streets from side to side, the crowd set forth, takin_he route of Regent Street, Pall Mall, St. James's Street, and Piccadilly. Th_hole central traffic of London was held up, and many collisions were reporte_etween the demonstrators upon the one side and the police and taxi-cabme_pon the other. Finally, it was not until after midnight that the fou_ravelers were released at the entrance to Lord John Roxton's chambers in th_lbany, and that the exuberant crowd, having sung 'They are Jolly Goo_ellows' in chorus, concluded their program with 'God Save the King.' So ende_ne of the most remarkable evenings that London has seen for a considerabl_ime."
  • 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 bewilderin_urprise to the audience, but not, I need hardly say, to us. The reader wil_emember how I met Lord John Roxton upon the very occasion when, in hi_rotective crinoline, he had gone to bring the "Devil's chick" as he calle_t, for Professor Challenger. I have hinted also at the trouble which th_rofessor's baggage gave us when we left the plateau, and had I described ou_oyage I might have said a good deal of the worry we had to coax with putri_ish the appetite of our filthy companion. If I have not said much about i_efore, it was, of course, that the Professor's earnest desire was that n_ossible rumor of the unanswerable argument which we carried should be allowe_o 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 b_ertain upon this point. There is the evidence of two frightened women that i_erched upon the roof of the Queen's Hall and remained there like a diabolica_tatue for some hours. The next day it came out in the evening papers tha_rivate Miles, of the Coldstream Guards, on duty outside Marlborough House, had deserted his post without leave, and was therefore courtmartialed. Privat_iles' account, that he dropped his rifle and took to his heels down the Mal_ecause 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 th_oint at issue. The only other evidence which I can adduce is from the log o_he SS. Friesland, a Dutch-American liner, which asserts that at nine nex_orning, 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, whic_as heading at a prodigious pace south and west. If its homing instinct led i_pon the right line, there can be no doubt that somewhere out in the wastes o_he Atlantic the last European pterodactyl found its end.
  • And Gladys—oh, my Gladys!—Gladys of the mystic lake, now to be re-named th_entral, for never shall she have immortality through me. Did I not always se_ome hard fiber in her nature? Did I not, even at the time when I was proud t_bey her behest, feel that it was surely a poor love which could drive a love_o his death or the danger of it? Did I not, in my truest thoughts, alway_ecurring and always dismissed, see past the beauty of the face, and, peerin_nto the soul, discern the twin shadows of selfishness and of ficklenes_looming at the back of it? Did she love the heroic and the spectacular fo_ts own noble sake, or was it for the glory which might, without effort o_acrifice, be reflected upon herself? Or are these thoughts the vain wisdo_hich comes after the event? It was the shock of my life. For a moment it ha_urned me to a cynic. But already, as I write, a week has passed, and we hav_ad our momentous interview with Lord John Roxton and—well, perhaps thing_ight be worse.
  • Let me tell it in a few words. No letter or telegram had come to me a_outhampton, and I reached the little villa at Streatham about ten o'cloc_hat night in a fever of alarm. Was she dead or alive? Where were all m_ightly dreams of the open arms, the smiling face, the words of praise for he_an who had risked his life to humor her whim? Already I was down from th_igh peaks and standing flat-footed upon earth. Yet some good reasons give_ight 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 th_taring maid, and strode into the sitting-room. She was seated in a low sette_nder the shaded standard lamp by the piano. In three steps I was across th_oom 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, wa_ew 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—littl_ladys 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 wit_ little ginger-haired man who was coiled up in the deep arm-chair which ha_nce 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 s_orry about it. But it couldn't have been so very deep, could it, if you coul_o off to the other end of the world and leave me here alone. You're no_rabby, are you?"
  • "No, no, not at all. I think I'll go."
  • "Have some refreshment," said the little man, and he added, in a confidentia_ay, "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 _ade for the door.
  • I was through it, when a sudden fantastic impulse came upon me, and I wen_ack 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 _ole, or done time on a pirate, or flown the Channel, or what? Where is th_lamour 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, 4_hancery Lane."
  • "Good-night!" said I, and vanished, like all disconsolate and broken-hearte_eroes, into the darkness, with grief and rage and laughter all simmerin_ithin me like a boiling pot.
  • One more little scene, and I have done. Last night we all supped at Lord Joh_oxton's rooms, and sitting together afterwards we smoked in good comradeshi_nd talked our adventures over. It was strange under these altere_urroundings to see the old, well-known faces and figures. There wa_hallenger, with his smile of condescension, his drooping eyelids, hi_ntolerant eyes, his aggressive beard, his huge chest, swelling and puffing a_e laid down the law to Summerlee. And Summerlee, too, there he was with hi_hort briar between his thin moustache and his gray goat's- beard, his wor_ace 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 th_epths 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 th_nnumerable trophies—that Lord John Roxton had something to say to us. From _upboard he had brought an old cigar-box, and this he laid before him on th_able.
  • "There's one thing," said he, "that maybe I should have spoken about befor_his, but I wanted to know a little more clearly where I was. No use to rais_opes and let them down again. But it's facts, not hopes, with us now. You ma_emember 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 Professor_odded.
  • "Well, now, in the whole world I've only had to do with one place that was _olcanic vent of blue clay. That was the great De Beers Diamond Mine o_imberley—what? So you see I got diamonds into my head. I rigged up _ontraption to hold off those stinking beasts, and I spent a happy day ther_ith a spud. This is what I got."
  • He opened his cigar-box, and tilting it over he poured about twenty or thirt_ough stones, varying from the size of beans to that of chestnuts, on th_able.
  • "Perhaps you think I should have told you then. Well, so I should, only I kno_here are a lot of traps for the unwary, and that stones may be of any siz_nd 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 beautifu_littering 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 hundre_housand pounds. Of course it is fair shares between us. I won't hear o_nythin' else. Well, Challenger, what will you do with your fifty thousand?"
  • "If you really persist in your generous view," said the Professor, "I shoul_ound 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 o_he chalk fossils."
  • "I'll use my own," said Lord John Roxton, "in fitting a well-formed expeditio_nd 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 th_able.