The Poison Belt HTML version
The Tide Of Death
As we crossed the hall the telephone-bell rang, and we were the involuntary auditors of
Professor Challenger's end of the ensuing dialogue. I say "we," but no one within a
hundred yards could have failed to hear the booming of that monstrous voice, which
reverberated through the house. His answers lingered in my mind.
"Yes, yes, of course, it is I.... Yes, certainly, THE Professor Challenger, the famous
Professor, who else?... Of course, every word of it, otherwise I should not have written
it.... I shouldn't be surprised.... There is every indication of it.... Within a day or so at the
furthest.... Well, I can't help that, can I?... Very unpleasant, no doubt, but I rather fancy it
will affect more important people than you. There is no use whining about it.... No, I
couldn't possibly. You must take your chance.... That's enough, sir. Nonsense! I have
something more important to do than to listen to such twaddle."
He shut off with a crash and led us upstairs into a large airy apartment which formed his
study. On the great mahogany desk seven or eight unopened telegrams were lying.
"Really," he said as he gathered them up, "I begin to think that it would save my
correspondents' money if I were to adopt a telegraphic address. Possibly `Noah,
Rotherfield,' would be the most appropriate."
As usual when he made an obscure joke, he leaned against the desk and bellowed in a
paroxysm of laughter, his hands shaking so that he could hardly open the envelopes.
"Noah! Noah!" he gasped, with a face of beetroot, while Lord John and I smiled in
sympathy and Summerlee, like a dyspeptic goat, wagged his head in sardonic
disagreement. Finally Challenger, still rumbling and exploding, began to open his
telegrams. The three of us stood in the bow window and occupied ourselves in admiring
the magnificent view.
It was certainly worth looking at. The road in its gentle curves had really brought us to a
considerable elevation--seven hundred feet, as we afterwards discovered. Challenger's
house was on the very edge of the hill, and from its southern face, in which was the study
window, one looked across the vast stretch of the weald to where the gentle curves of the
South Downs formed an undulating horizon. In a cleft of the hills a haze of smoke
marked the position of Lewes. Immediately at our feet there lay a rolling plain of heather,
with the long, vivid green stretches of the Crowborough golf course, all dotted with the
players. A little to the south, through an opening in the woods, we could see a section of
the main line from London to Brighton. In the immediate foreground, under our very
noses, was a small enclosed yard, in which stood the car which had brought us from the
An ejaculation from Challenger caused us to turn. He had read his telegrams and had
arranged them in a little methodical pile upon his desk. His broad, rugged face, or as