The Lost World
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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
"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?"
"Had it a tail?"
"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
"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?"
"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."
"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.