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5. "Question!"
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 assaulted you."
"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."
"Why not?"
"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 sea sairpents?"
"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.