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7. "To-Morrow We Disappear Into The Unknown"
I will not bore those whom this narrative may reach by an account of our luxurious
voyage upon the Booth liner, nor will I tell of our week's stay at Para (save that I should
wish to acknowledge the great kindness of the Pereira da Pinta Company in helping us to
get together our equipment). I will also allude very briefly to our river journey, up a wide,
slow-moving, clay-tinted stream, in a steamer which was little smaller than that which
had carried us across the Atlantic. Eventually we found ourselves through the narrows of
Obidos and reached the town of Manaos. Here we were rescued from the limited
attractions of the local inn by Mr. Shortman, the representative of the British and
Brazilian Trading Company. In his hospital Fazenda we spent our time until the day
when we were empowered to open the letter of instructions given to us by Professor
Challenger. Before I reach the surprising events of that date I would desire to give a
clearer sketch of my comrades in this enterprise, and of the associates whom we had
already gathered together in South America. I speak freely, and I leave the use of my
material to your own discretion, Mr. McArdle, since it is through your hands that this
report must pass before it reaches the world.
The scientific attainments of Professor Summerlee are too well known for me to trouble
to recapitulate them. He is better equipped for a rough expedition of this sort than one
would imagine at first sight. His tall, gaunt, stringy figure is insensible to fatigue, and his
dry, half-sarcastic, and often wholly unsympathetic manner is uninfluenced by any
change in his surroundings. Though in his sixty-sixth year, I have never heard him
express any dissatisfaction at the occasional hardships which we have had to encounter. I
had regarded his presence as an encumbrance to the expedition, but, as a matter of fact, I
am now well convinced that his power of endurance is as great as my own. In temper he
is naturally acid and sceptical. From the beginning he has never concealed his belief that
Professor Challenger is an absolute fraud, that we are all embarked upon an absurd wild-
goose chase and that we are likely to reap nothing but disappointment and danger in
South America, and corresponding ridicule in England. Such are the views which, with
much passionate distortion of his thin features and wagging of his thin, goat-like beard,
he poured into our ears all the way from Southampton to Manaos. Since landing from the
boat he has obtained some consolation from the beauty and variety of the insect and bird
life around him, for he is absolutely whole-hearted in his devotion to science. He spends
his days flitting through the woods with his shot-gun and his butterfly-net, and his
evenings in mounting the many specimens he has acquired. Among his minor
peculiarities are that he is careless as to his attire, unclean in his person, exceedingly
absent-minded in his habits, and addicted to smoking a short briar pipe, which is seldom
out of his mouth. He has been upon several scientific expeditions in his youth (he was
with Robertson in Papua), and the life of the camp and the canoe is nothing fresh to him.
Lord John Roxton has some points in common with Professor Summerlee, and others in
which they are the very antithesis to each other. He is twenty years younger, but has