The Lost World
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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.
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
"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."
"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
"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."
"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."
"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
"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
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
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