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10. "The Most Wonderful Things Have Happened"
The most wonderful things have happened and are continually happening to us. All the
paper that I possess consists of five old note-books and a lot of scraps, and I have only
the one stylographic pencil; but so long as I can move my hand I will continue to set
down our experiences and impressions, for, since we are the only men of the whole
human race to see such things, it is of enormous importance that I should record them
whilst they are fresh in my memory and before that fate which seems to be constantly
impending does actually overtake us. Whether Zambo can at last take these letters to the
river, or whether I shall myself in some miraculous way carry them back with me, or,
finally, whether some daring explorer, coming upon our tracks with the advantage,
perhaps, of a perfected monoplane, should find this bundle of manuscript, in any case I
can see that what I am writing is destined to immortality as a classic of true adventure.
On the morning after our being trapped upon the plateau by the villainous Gomez we
began a new stage in our experiences. The first incident in it was not such as to give me a
very favorable opinion of the place to which we had wandered. As I roused myself from a
short nap after day had dawned, my eyes fell upon a most singular appearance upon my
own leg. My trouser had slipped up, exposing a few inches of my skin above my sock.
On this there rested a large, purplish grape. Astonished at the sight, I leaned forward to
pick it off, when, to my horror, it burst between my finger and thumb, squirting blood in
every direction. My cry of disgust had brought the two professors to my side.
"Most interesting," said Summerlee, bending over my shin. "An enormous blood-tick, as
yet, I believe, unclassified."
"The first-fruits of our labors," said Challenger in his booming, pedantic fashion. "We
cannot do less than call it Ixodes Maloni. The very small inconvenience of being bitten,
my young friend, cannot, I am sure, weigh with you as against the glorious privilege of
having your name inscribed in the deathless roll of zoology. Unhappily you have crushed
this fine specimen at the moment of satiation."
"Filthy vermin!" I cried.
Professor Challenger raised his great eyebrows in protest, and placed a soothing paw
upon my shoulder.
"You should cultivate the scientific eye and the detached scientific mind," said he. "To a
man of philosophic temperament like myself the blood-tick, with its lancet-like proboscis
and its distending stomach, is as beautiful a work of Nature as the peacock or, for that
matter, the aurora borealis. It pains me to hear you speak of it in so unappreciative a
fashion. No doubt, with due diligence, we can secure some other specimen."
"There can be no doubt of that," said Summerlee, grimly, "for one has just disappeared
behind your shirt-collar."