SEVERAL YEARS had elapsed since I had found the op- portunity to do any big-game
hunting; for at last I had my plans almost perfected for a return to my old stamping-
grounds in northern Africa, where in other days I had had excellent sport in pursuit of the
king of beasts.
The date of my departure had been set; I was to leave in two weeks. No schoolboy
counting the lagging hours that must pass before the beginning of "long vacation"
released him to the delirious joys of the sum- mer camp could have been filled with
greater im- patience or keener anticipation.
And then came a letter that started me for Africa twelve days ahead of my schedule.
Often am I in receipt of letters from strangers who have found something in a story of
mine to commend or to condemn. My interest in this department of my correspondence is
ever fresh. I opened this particular letter with all the zest of pleasurable anticipation with
which I had opened so many others. The post-mark (Algiers) had aroused my interest and
curiosity, es- pecially at this time, since it was Algiers that was presently to witness the
termination of my coming sea voyage in search of sport and adventure.
Before the reading of that letter was completed lions and lion-hunting had fled my
thoughts, and I was in a state of excitement bordering upon frenzy.
It--well, read it yourself, and see if you, too, do not find food for frantic conjecture, for
tantalizing doubts, and for a great hope.
Here it is:
DEAR SIR: I think that I have run across one of the most remarkable coincidences in
modern literature. But let me start at the beginning:
I am, by profession, a wanderer upon the face of the earth. I have no trade--nor any other
My father bequeathed me a competency; some remoter ancestors lust to roam. I have
combined the two and invested them carefully and without extravagance.
I became interested in your story, At the Earth's Core, not so much because of the
probability of the tale as of a great and abiding wonder that people should be paid real
money for writing such impossible trash. You will pardon my candor, but it is necessary
that you understand my mental attitude toward this particular story--that you may credit
that which fol- lows.