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The Poison Belt

The Blurring Of Lines
It is imperative that now at once, while these stupendous events are still clear in my mind,
I should set them down with that exactness of detail which time may blur. But even as I
do so, I am overwhelmed by the wonder of the fact that it should be our little group of the
"Lost World"--Professor Challenger, Professor Summerlee, Lord John Roxton, and
myself--who have passed through this amazing experience.
When, some years ago, I chronicled in the Daily Gazette our epoch-making journey in
South America, I little thought that it should ever fall to my lot to tell an even stranger
personal experience, one which is unique in all human annals and must stand out in the
records of history as a great peak among the humble foothills which surround it. The
event itself will always be marvellous, but the circumstances that we four were together
at the time of this extraordinary episode came about in a most natural and, indeed,
inevitable fashion. I will explain the events which led up to it as shortly and as clearly as
I can, though I am well aware that the fuller the detail upon such a subject the more
welcome it will be to the reader, for the public curiosity has been and still is insatiable.
It was upon Friday, the twenty-seventh of August--a date forever memorable in the
history of the world--that I went down to the office of my paper and asked for three days'
leave of absence from Mr. McArdle, who still presided over our news department. The
good old Scotchman shook his head, scratched his dwindling fringe of ruddy fluff, and
finally put his reluctance into words.
"I was thinking, Mr. Malone, that we could employ you to advantage these days. I was
thinking there was a story that you are the only man that could handle as it should be
handled."
"I am sorry for that," said I, trying to hide my disappointment. "Of course if I am needed,
there is an end of the matter. But the engagement was important and intimate. If I could
be spared----"
"Well, I don't see that you can."
It was bitter, but I had to put the best face I could upon it. After all, it was my own fault,
for I should have known by this time that a journalist has no right to make plans of his
own.
"Then I'll think no more of it," said I with as much cheerfulness as I could assume at so
short a notice. "What was it that you wanted me to do?"
"Well, it was just to interview that deevil of a man down at Rotherfield."
"You don't mean Professor Challenger?" I cried.
 
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