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Title: When the World Screamed
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
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Language:   English
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Title:      When the World Screamed
Author:     Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

I had a vague recollection of having heard my friend Edward Malone, of
the Gazette, speak of Professor Challenger, with whom he had been
associated in some remarkable adventures. I am so busy, however, with
my own profession, and my firm has been so overtaxed with orders, that
I know little of what is going on in the world outside my own special
interests. My general recollection was that Challenger has been
depicted as a wild genius of a violent and intolerant disposition. I
was greatly surprised to receive a business communication from him
which was in the following terms:

'14 (Bis), Enmore Gardens, Kensington.
'I have occasion to engage the services of an expert in Artesian
borings. I will not conceal from you that my opinion of experts is not
a high one, and that I have usually found that a man who, like myself,
has a well-equipped brain can take a sounder and broader view than the
man who professes a special knowledge (which, alas, is so often a mere
profession), and is therefore limited in his outlook. None the less, I
am disposed to give you a trial. Looking down the list of Artesian
authorities, a certain oddity--I had almost written absurdity--in
your name attracted my attention, and I found upon inquiry that my
young friend, Mr. Edward Malone, was actually acquainted with you. I
am therefore writing to say that I should be glad to have an interview
with you, and that if you satisfy my requirements, and my standard is
no mean one, I may be inclined to put a most important matter into
your hands. I can say no more at present as the matter is of extreme
secrecy, which can only be discussed by word of mouth. I beg,
therefore, that you will at once cancel any engagement which you may
happen to have, and that you will call upon me at the above address at
10.30 in the morning of next Friday. There is a scraper as well as a
mat, and Mrs. Challenger is most particular.

'I remain, Sir, as I began,
'George Edward Challenger.'

I handed this letter to my chief clerk to answer, and he informed the
Professor that Mr. Peerless Jones would be glad to keep the
appointment as arranged. It was a perfectly civil business note, but
it began with the phrase: 'Your letter (undated) has been received.'

This drew a second epistle from the Professor:

'Sir,' he said and his writing looked like a barbed wire fence--'I
observe that you animadvert upon the trifle that my letter was
undated. Might I draw your attention to the fact that, as some return
for a monstrous taxation, our Government is in the habit of affixing a
small circular sign or stamp upon the outside on the envelope which
notifies the date of posting? Should this sign be missing or illegible
your remedy lies with the proper postal authorities. Meanwhile, I
would ask you to confine your observations to matters which concern
the business over which I consult you, and to cease to comment upon
the form which my own letters may assume. '

It was clear to me that I was dealing with a lunatic, so I thought it
well before I went any further in the matter to call upon my friend
Malone, whom I had known since the old days when we both played Rugger
for Richmond. I found him the same jolly Irishman as ever, and much
amused at my first brush with Challenger.

'That's nothing, my boy,' said he. 'You'll feel as if you had been
skinned alive when you have been with him five minutes. He beats the
world for offensiveness.'

'But why should the world put up with it?'

'They don't. If you collected all the libel actions and all the rows
and all the police-court assaults--'


'Bless you, he would think nothing of throwing you downstairs if you
have a disagreement. He is a primitive cave-man in a lounge suit. I
can see him with a club in one hand and a jagged bit of flint in the
other. Some people are born out of their proper century, but he is
born out of his millennium. He belongs to the early neolithic or

'And he a professor!'

'There is the wonder of it! It's the greatest brain in Europe, with a
driving force behind it that can turn all his dreams into facts. They
do all they can to hold him back for his colleagues hate him like
poison, but a lot of trawlers might as well try to hold back the
Berengaria. He simply ignores them and steams on his way.'

'Well,' said I, 'one thing is clear. I don't want to have anything to
do with him. I'll cancel that appointment.'

'Not a bit of it. You will keep it to the minute--and mind that it is
to the minute or you will hear of it.'

'Why should I?'

'Well, I'll tell you. First of all, don't take too seriously what I
have said about old Challenger. Everyone who gets close to him learns
to love him. There is no real harm in the old bear. Why, I remember
how he carried an Indian baby with the smallpox on his back for a
hundred miles from the back country down to the Madeira river. He is
big every way. He won't hurt if you get right with him.'

'I won't give him the chance.'

'You will be a fool if you don't. Have you ever heard of the Hengist
Down Mystery--the shaft-sinking on the South Coast?'

'Some secret coal-mining exploration, I understand.'

Malone winked.
'Well, you can put it down as that if you like. You see, I am in the
old man's confidence, and I can't say anything until he gives the
word. But I may tell you this, for it has been in the Press. A man,
Betterton, who made his money in rubber, left his whole estate to
Challenger some years ago, with the provision that it should be used
in the interests of science. It proved to be an enormous sum--
several millions. Challenger then bought a property at Hengist Down,
in Sussex. It was worthless land on the north edge of the chalk
country, and he got a large tract of it, which he wired off. There was
a deep gully in the middle of it. Here he began to make an excavation.
He announced'--here Malone winked again--'that there was petroleum
in England and that he meant to prove it. He built a little model
village with a colony of well-paid workers who are all sworn to keep
their mouths shut. The gully is wired off as well as the estate, and
the place is guarded by bloodhounds. Several pressmen have nearly lost
their lives, to say nothing of the seats of their trousers, from these
creatures. It's a big operation, and Sir Thomas Morden's firm has it
in hand, but they also are sworn to secrecy. Clearly the time has come
when Artesian help is needed. Now, would you not be foolish to refuse
such a job as that, with all the interest and experience and a big fat
cheque at the end of it--to say nothing of rubbing shoulders with
the most wonderful man you have ever met or are ever likely to meet?'

Malone's arguments prevailed, and Friday morning found me on my way to
Enmore Gardens, I took such particular care to be in time that I found
myself at the door twenty minutes too soon. I was waiting in the
street when it struck me that I recognized the Rolls- Royce with the
silver arrow mascot at the door. It was certainly that of Jack
Devonshire, the junior partner of the great Morden firm. I had always
known him as the most urbane of men, so that it was rather a shock to
me when he suddenly appeared, and standing outside the door he raised
both his hands, to heaven and said with great fervour: 'Damn him! Oh,
damn him!'

'What is up, Jack? You seem peeved this morning.'

'Hullo, Peerless! Are you in on this job, too?'

'There seems a chance of it.'

'Well, you find it chastening to the temper.'

'Rather more so than yours can stand, apparently.'

'Well, I should say so. The butler's message to me was: "The Professor
desired me to say, sir, that he was rather busy at present eating an
egg, and that if you would call at some more convenient time he would
very likely see you." That was the message delivered by a servant. I
may add that I had called to collect forty-two thousand pounds that he
owes us.'

I whistled.

'You can't get your money?'

'Oh, yes, he is all right about money. I'll do the old gorilla the
justice to say that he is open- handed with money. But he pays when he
likes and how he likes, and he cares for nobody. However, you go and
try your luck and see how you like it.' With that he flung himself
into his motor and was off.

I waited with occasional glances at my watch until the zero hour
should arrive. I am, if I may say so, a fairly hefty individual, and a
runner-up for the Belsize Boxing Club middle-weights, but I have never
faced an interview with such trepidation as this. It was not physical,
for I was confident I could hold my own if this inspired lunatic
should attack me, but it was a mixture of feelings in which fear of
some public scandal and dread of losing a lucrative contract were
mingled. However, things are always easier when imagination ceases and
action begins. I snapped up my watch and made for the door.

It was opened by an old wooden-faced butler, a man who bore an
expression, or an absence of expression, which gave the impression
that he was so inured to shocks that nothing on earth would surprise

'By appointment, sir?' he asked.


He glanced at a list in his hand.

'Your name, sir?... Quite so, Mr. Peerless Jones.... Ten-thirty.
Everything is in order. We have to be careful, Mr. Jones, for we are
much annoyed by journalists. The Professor, as you may be aware, does
not approve of the Press. This way, sir. Professor Challenger is now

The next instant I found myself in the presence. I believe that my
friend, Ted Malone, has described the man in his 'Lost World' yarn
better than I can hope to do, so I'll leave it at that. All I was
aware of was a huge trunk of a man behind a mahogany desk, with a
great spade-shaped black beard and two large grey eyes half covered
with insolent drooping eyelids. His big head sloped back, his beard
bristled forward, and his whole appearance conveyed one single
impression of arrogant intolerance. 'Well, what the devil do you
want?' was written all over him. I laid my card on the table.

'Ah yes,' he said, picking it up and handling it as if he disliked the
smell of it. 'Of course. You are the expert so-called. Mr. Jones--
Mr. Peerless Jones. You may thank your godfather, Mr. Jones, for it
was this ludicrous prefix which first drew my attention to you.'

'I am here, Professor Challenger, for a business interview and not to
discuss my own name,' said I, with all the dignity I could master. 

'Dear me, you seem to be a very touchy person, Mr. Jones. Your nerves
are in a highly irritable condition. We must walk warily in dealing
with you, Mr. Jones. Pray sit down and compose yourself. I have been
reading your little brochure upon the reclaiming of the Sinai
Peninsula. Did you write it yourself?'

'Naturally, sir. My name is on it.'

'Quite so! Quite so! But it does not always follow, does it? However,
I am prepared to accept your assertion. The book is not without merit
of a sort. Beneath the dullness of the diction one gets glimpses of an
occasional idea. There are germs of thought here and there. Are you a
married man?'

'No, sir. I am not. '

'Then there is some chance of your keeping a secret. '

'If I promised to do so, I would certainly keep my promise.
'So you say. My young friend, Malone'--he spoke as if Ted were ten
years of age--'has a good opinion of you. He says that I may trust
you. This trust is a very great one, for I am engaged just now in one
of the greatest experiments--I may even say the greatest experiment
--in the history of the world. I ask for your participation.' 

'I shall be honoured.'

'It is indeed an honour. I will admit that I should have shared my
labours with no one were it not that the gigantic nature of the
undertaking calls for the highest technical skill. Now, Mr. Jones,
having obtained your promise of inviolable secrecy, I come down to the
essential point. It is this--that the world upon which we live is
itself a living organism, endowed, as I believe, with a circulation, a
respiration, and a nervous system of its own.'
Clearly the man was a lunatic.

'Your brain, I observe,' he continued, 'fails to register. But it will
gradually absorb the idea. You will recall how a moor or heath
resembles the hairy side of a giant animal. A certain analogy runs
through all nature. You will then consider the secular rise and fall
of land, which indicates the slow respiration of the creature.
Finally, you will note the fidgetings and scratchings which appear to
our Lilliputian perceptions as earthquakes and convulsions.'

'What about volcanoes?' I asked.

'Tut, tut! They correspond to the heat spots upon our own bodies.' 

My brain whirled as I tried to find some answer to these monstrous

'The temperature!' I cried. 'Is it not a fact that it rises rapidly as
one descends, and that the centre of the earth is liquid heat?' 

He waved my assertion aside.

'You are probably aware, sir, since Council schools are now
compulsory, that the earth is flattened at the poles. This means that
the pole is nearer to the centre than any other point and would
therefore be most affected by this heat of which you spoke. It is
notorious, of course, that the conditions of the poles are tropical,
is it not?'

'The whole idea is utterly new to me.'

'Of course it is. It is the privilege of the original thinker to put
forward ideas which are new and usually unwelcome to the common clay.
Now, sir, what is this?' He held up a small object which he had picked
from the table.

'I should say it is a sea-urchin.'

'Exactly!' he cried, with an air of exaggerated surprise, as when an
infant has done something clever. 'It is a sea-urchin--a common
echinus. Nature repeats itself in many forms regardless of the size.
This echinus is a model, a prototype, of the world. You perceive that
it is roughly circular, but flattened at the poles. Let us then regard
the world as a huge echinus. What are your objections?'

My chief objection was that the thing was too absurd for argument, but
I did not dare to say so. I fished around for some less sweeping

'A living creature needs food,' I said. 'Where could the world sustain
its huge bulk?'

'An excellent point--excellent!' said the Professor, with a huge air
of patronage. 'You have a quick eye for the obvious, though you are
slow in realizing the more subtle implications. How does the world get
nourishment? Again we turn to our little friend the echinus. The water
which surrounds it flows through the tubes of this small creature and
provides its nutrition.'

'Then you think that the water--'

'No, sir. The ether. The earth browses upon a circular path in the
fields of space, and as it moves the ether is continually pouring
through it and providing its vitality. Quite a flock of other little
world-echini are doing the same thing, Venus, Mars, and the rest, each
with its own field for grazing.'

The man was clearly mad, but there was no arguing with him. He
accepted my silence as agreement and smiled at me in most beneficent

'We are coming on, I perceive,' said he. 'Light is beginning to break
in. A little dazzling at first, no doubt, but we will soon get used to
it. Pray give me your attention while I found one or two more
observations upon this little creature in my hand.

'We will suppose that on this outer hard rind there were certain
infinitely small insects which crawled upon the surface. Would the
echinus ever be aware of their existence?'

'I should say not.'

'You can well imagine then, that the earth has not the least idea of
the way in which it is utilized by the human race. It is quite unaware
of this fungus growth of vegetation and evolution of tiny animalcules
which has collected upon it during its travels round the sun as
barnacles gather upon the ancient vessel. That is the present state of
affairs, and that is what I propose to alter.'

I stared in amazement. 'You propose to alter it?'

'I propose to let the earth know that there is at least one person,
George Edward Challenger, who calls for attention--who, indeed,
insists upon attention. It is certainly the first intimation it has
ever had of the sort.'

'And how, sir, will you do this?'

'Ah, there we get down to business. You have touched the spot. I will
again call your attention to this interesting little creature which I
hold in my hand. It is all nerves and sensibility beneath that
protective crust. Is it not evident that if a parasitic animalcule
desired to call its attention it would sink a hole in its shell and so
stimulate its sensory apparatus?'


'Or, again, we will take the case of the homely flea or a mosquito
which explores the surface of the human body. We may be unaware of its
presence. But presently, when it sinks its proboscis through the skin,
which is our crust, we are disagreeably reminded that we are not
altogether alone. My plans now will no doubt begin to dawn upon you.
Light breaks in the darkness.'

'Good heavens! You propose to sink a shaft through the earth's crust?' 

He closed his eyes with ineffable complacency.

'You see before you,' he said, 'the first who will ever pierce that
horny hide. I may even put it in the present tense and say who has
pierced it.'

'You have done it!'

'With the very efficient aid of Morden and think I may say that I have
done it. Several years of constant work which has been carried on
night and day, and conducted by every known species of drill, borer,
crusher, and explosive, has at last brought us to our goal.'

'You don't mean to say you are through the crust!'

'If your expressions denote bewilderment they may pass. If they denote

'No, sir, nothing of the kind.'

'You will accept my statement without question. We are through the
crust. It was exactly fourteen thousand four hundred and forty-two
yards thick, or roughly eight miles. In the course of our sinking it
may interest you to know that we have exposed a fortune in the matter
of coal-beds which would probably in the long run defray the cost of
the enterprise. Our chief difficulty has been the springs of water in
the lower chalk and Hastings sands, but these we have overcome. The
last stage has now been reached--and the last stage is none other
than Mr. Peerless Jones. You, sir, represent the mosquito. Your
Artesian borer takes the place of the stinging proboscis. The brain
has done its work. Exit the thinker. Enter the mechanical one, the
peerless one, with his rod of metal. Do I make myself clear?' 

'You talk of eight miles!' I cried. 'Are you aware, sir, that five
thousand feet is considered nearly the limit for Artesian borings? I
am acquainted with one in upper Silesia which is six thousand two
hundred feet deep, but it is looked upon as a wonder.'

'You misunderstand me, Mr. Peerless. Either my explanation or your
brain is at fault, and I will not insist upon which. I am well aware
of the limits of Artesian borings, and it is not likely that I would
have spent millions of pounds upon my colossal tunnel if a six-inch
boring would have met my needs. All that I ask you is to have a drill
ready which shall be as sharp as possible, not more than a hundred
feet in length, and operated by an electric motor. An ordinary
percussion drill driven home by a weight will meet every requirement. 

'Why by an electric motor?'

'I am here, Mr. Jones, to give orders, not reasons. Before we finish
it may happen--it may, I say, happen--that your very life may
depend upon this drill being started from a distance by electricity.
It can, I presume, be done?'

'Certainly it can be done.'

'Then prepare to do it. The matter is not yet ready for your actual
presence, but your preparations may now be made. I have nothing more
to say.'

'But it is essential,' I expostulated, 'that you should let me know
what soil the drill is to penetrate. Sand, or clay, or chalk would
each need different treatment.'

'Let us say jelly,' said Challenger. 'Yes, we will for the present
suppose that you have to sink your drill into jelly. And now, Mr.
Jones, I have matters of some importance to engage my mind, so I will
wish you good morning. You can draw up a formal contract with mention
of your charges for my Head of Works.'

I bowed and turned, but before I reached the door my curiosity
overcame me. He was already writing furiously with a quill pen
screeching over the paper, and he looked up angrily at my

'Well, sir, what now? I had hoped you were gone.

'I only wished to ask you, sir, what the object of so extraordinary an
experiment can be?'

'Away, sir, away!' he cried, angrily. 'Raise your mind above the base
mercantile and utilitarian needs of commerce. Shake off your paltry
standards of business. Science seeks knowledge. Let the knowledge lead
us where it will, we still must seek it. To know once for all what we
are, why we are, where we are, is that not in itself the greatest of
all human aspirations? Away, sir, away!'

His great black head was bowed over his papers once more and blended
with his beard. The quill pen screeched more shrilly than ever. So I
left him, this extraordinary man, with my head in a whirl at the
thought of the strange business in which I now found myself to be his

When I got back to my office I found Ted Malone waiting with a broad
grin upon his face to know the result of my interview.

'Well!' he cried. 'None the worse? No case of assault and battery? You
must have handled him very tactfully. What do you think of the old

'The most aggravating, insolent, intolerant, self-opinionated man I
have ever met, but--'

'Exactly!' cried Malone. 'We all come to that "but." Of course, he is
all you say and a lot more, but one feels that so big a man is not to
be measured in our scale, and that we can endure from him what we
would not stand from any other living mortal. Is that not so?' 

'Well, I don't know him well enough yet to say, but I will admit that
if he is not a mere bullying megalomaniac, and if what he says is
true, then he certainly is in a class by himself. But is it true?' 

'Of course it is true. Challenger always delivers the goods. Now,
where are you exactly in the matter? Has he told you about Hengist

'Yes, in a sketchy sort of way.'

'Well, you may take it from me that the whole thing is colossal
colossal in conception and colossal in execution. He hates pressmen,
but I am in his confidence, for he knows that I will publish no more
than he authorizes. Therefore I have his plans, or some of his plans.
He is such a deep old bird that one never is sure if one has really
touched bottom. Anyhow, I know enough to assure you that Hengist Down
is a practical proposition and nearly completed. My advice to you now
is simply to await events, and meanwhile to get your gear all ready.
You'll hear soon enough either from him or from me.'

As it happened, it was from Malone himself that I heard. He came round
quite early to my office some weeks later, as the bearer of a message. 

'I've come from Challenger' said he.

'You are like the pilot fish to the shark.'

'I'm proud to be anything to him. He really is a wonder. He has done
it all right. It's your turn now, and then he is ready to ring up the

'Well, I can't believe it until I see it, but I have everything ready
and loaded on a lorry. I could start it off at any moment.'

'Then do so at once. I've given you a tremendous character for energy
and punctuality, so mind you don't let me down. In the meantime, come
down with me by rail and I will give you an idea of what has to be

It was a lovely spring morning--May 22nd, to be exact--when we
made that fateful journey which brought me on to a stage which is
destined to be historical. On the way Malone handed me a note from
Challenger which I was to accept as my instructions.

'Sir,' (it ran)--

'Upon arriving at Hengist Down you will put yourself at the disposal
of Mr. Barforth, the Chief Engineer, who is in possession of my
plans. My young friend, Malone, the bearer of this, is also in touch
with me and may protect me from any personal contact. We have now
experienced certain phenomena in the shaft at and below the fourteen
thousand-foot level which fully bear out my views as to the nature
of a planetary body, but some more sensational proof is needed
before I can hope to make an impression upon the torpid intelligence
of the modern scientific world. That proof you are destined to
afford, and they to witness. As you descend in the lifts you will
observe, presuming that you have the rare quality of observation, that
you pass in succession the secondary chalk beds, the coal measures,
some Devonian and Cambrian indications, and finally the granite,
through which the greater part of our tunnel is conducted. The bottom
is now covered with tarpaulin, which I order you not to tamper with,
as any clumsy handling of the sensitive inner cuticle of the earth
might bring about premature results. At my instruction, two strong
beams have been laid across the shaft twenty feet above the bottom,
with a space between them. This space will act as a clip to hold up
your Artesian tube. Fifty feet of drill will suffice, twenty of which
will project below the beams, so that the point of the drill comes
nearly down to the tarpaulin. As you value your life do not let it go
further. Thirty feet will then project upwards in the shaft, and when
you have released it we may assume that not less than forty feet of
drill will bury itself in the earth's substance. As this substance is
very soft I find that you will probably need no driving power, and
that simply a release of the tube will suffice by its own weight to
drive it into the layer which we have uncovered. These instructions
would seem to be sufficient for any ordinary intelligence, but I have
little doubt that you will need more, which can be referred to me
through our young friend, Malone.


It can be imagined that when we arrived at the station of Storrington,
near the northern foot of the South Downs, I was in a state of
considerable nervous tension. A weather-worn Vauxhall thirty
landaulette was awaiting us, and bumped us for six or seven miles over
by-paths and lanes which, in spite of their natural seclusion, were
deeply rutted and showed every sign of heavy traffic. A broken lorry
lying in the grass at one point showed that others had found it rough
going as well as we. Once a huge piece of machinery which seemed to be
the valves and piston of a hydraulic pump projected itself, all
rusted, from a clump of furze.

'That's Challenger's doing,' said Malone, grinning.

'Said it was one-tenth of an inch out of estimate, so he simply
chucked it by the wayside.'

'With a lawsuit to follow, no doubt.'

'A lawsuit! My dear chap, we should have a court of our own. We have
enough to keep a judge busy for a year. Government too. The old devil
cares for no one. Rex v. George Challenger and George Challenger v.
Rex. A nice devil's dance the two will have from one court to another.
Well, here we are. All right, Jenkins, you can let us in!'

A huge man with a notable cauliflower ear was peering into the car, a
scowl of suspicion upon his face. He relaxed and saluted as he
recognized my companion.

'All right, Mr. Malone. I thought it was the American Associated

'Oh, they are on the track, are they?'

'They to-day, and The Times yesterday. Oh, they are buzzing round
proper. Look at that!' He indicated a distant dot upon the sky-line.

'See that glint ! That's the telescope of the Chicago Daily News. Yes,
they are fair after us now. I've seen 'em in rows, same as the crows,
along the Beacon yonder.'

'Poor old Press gang!' said Malone, as we entered a gate in a
formidable barbed wire fence. 'I am one of them myself, and I know how
it feels.

At this moment we heard a plaintive bleat behind us of 'Malone! Ted
Malone!' It came from a fat little man who had just arrived upon a
motor-bike and was at present struggling in the Herculean grasp of the

'Here, let me go!' he sputtered. 'Keep your hands off! Malone, call
off this gorilla of yours.'

'Let him go, Jenkins! He's a friend of mine!' cried Malone. 'Well, old
bean, what is it? What are you after in these parts? Fleet Street is
your stamping ground--not the wilds of Sussex.'

'You know what I am after perfectly well,' said our visitor. 'I've got
the assignment to write a story about Hengist Down and I can't go home
without the copy.'

'Sorry, Roy, but you can't get anything here. You'll have to stay on
that side of the wire. If you want more you must go and see Professor
Challenger and get his leave.'

'I've been,' said the journalist, ruefully. 'I went this morning.' 

'Well, what did he say?'

'He said he would put me through the window.'

Malone laughed.

'And what did you say?'

'I said, "What's wrong with the door?" and I skipped through it just
to show there was nothing wrong with it. It was no time for argument.
I just went. What with that bearded Assyrian bull in London, and this
Thug down here, who has ruined my clean celluloid, you seem to be
keeping queer company, Ted Malone.'

'I can't help you, Roy; I would if I could. They say in Fleet Street
that you have never been beaten, but you are up against it this time.
Get back to the office, and if you just wait a few days I'll give you
the news as soon as the old man allows.'

'No chance of getting in?'

'Not an earthly.'

'Money no object?'

'You should know better than to say that.'

'They tell me it's a short cut to New Zealand.'

'It will be a short cut to the hospital if you butt in here, Roy.
Good-bye, now. We have some work to do of our own.

'That's Roy Perkins, the war correspondent,' said Malone as we walked
across the compound. 'We've broken his record, for he is supposed to
be undefeatable. It's his fat, little innocent face that carries him
through everything. We were on the same staff once. Now there'--he
pointed to a cluster of pleasant red-roofed bungalows--'are the
quarters of the men. They are a splendid lot of picked workers who are
paid far above ordinary rates. They have to be bachelors and
teetotallers, and under oath of secrecy. I don't think there has been
any leakage up to now. That field is their football ground and the
detached house is their library and recreation room. The old man is
some organizer, I can assure you. This is Mr. Barforth, the head

A long, thin, melancholy man with deep lines of anxiety upon his face
had appeared before us. 'I expect you are the Artesian engineer,' said
he, in a gloomy voice. 'I was told to expect you. I am glad you've
come, for I don't mind telling you that the responsibility of this
thing is getting on my nerves. We work away, and I never know if it's
a gush of chalk water, or a seam of coal, or a squirt of petroleum, or
maybe a touch of hell fire that is coming next. We've been spared the
last up to now, but you may make the connection for all I know.' 

'Is it so hot down there?'

'Well, it's hot. There's no denying it. And yet maybe it is not hotter
than the barometric pressure and the confined space might account for.
Of course, the ventilation is awful. We pump the air down, but
two-hour shifts are the most the men can do--and they are willing
lads too. The Professor was down yesterday, and he was very pleased
with it all. You had best join us at lunch, and then you will see it
for yourself.'

After a hurried and frugal meal we were introduced with loving
assiduity upon the part of the manager to the contents of his
engine-house, and to the miscellaneous scrapheap of disused implements
with which the grass was littered. On one side was a huge dismantled
Arrol hydraulic shovel, with which the first excavations had been
rapidly made. Beside it was a great engine which worked a continuous
steel rope on which the skips were fastened which drew up the debris
by successive stages from the bottom of the shaft. In the power-house
were several Escher Wyss turbines of great horse-power running at one
hundred and forty revolutions a minute and governing hydraulic
accumulators which evolved a pressure of fourteen hundred pounds per
square inch, passing in three-inch pipes down the shaft and operating
four rock drills with hollow cutters of the Brandt type. Abutting upon
the engine-house was the electric house supplying power for a very
large lighting instalment, and next to that again was an extra turbine
of two hundred horse-power, which drove a ten-foot fan forcing air
down a twelve-inch pipe to the bottom of the workings. All these
wonders were shown with many technical explanations by their proud
operator, who was well on his way to boring me stiff, as I may in turn
have done my reader. There came a welcome interruption, however, when
I heard the roar of wheels and rejoiced to see my Leyland three-tonner
come rolling and heaving over the grass, heaped up with tools and
sections of tubing, and bearing my foreman, Peters, and a very grimy
assistant in front. The two of them set to work at once to unload my
stuff and to carry it in. Leaving them at their work, the manager,
with Malone and myself, approached the shaft.

It was a wondrous place, on a very much larger scale than I had
imagined. The spoil banks, which represented the thousands of tons
removed, had been built up into a great horseshoe around it, which now
made a considerable hill. In the concavity of this horseshoe, composed
of chalk, clay, coal, and granite, there rose up a bristle of iron
pillars and wheels from which the pumps and the lifts were operated.
They connected with the brick power building which filled up the gap
in the horseshoe. Beyond it lay the open mouth of the shaft, a huge
yawning pit, some thirty or forty feet in diameter, lined and topped
with brick and cement. As I craned my neck over the side and gazed
down into the dreadful abyss, which I had been assured was eight miles
deep, my brain reeled at the thought of what it represented. The
sunlight struck the mouth of it diagonally, and I could only see some
hundreds of yards of dirty white chalk, bricked here and there where
the surface had seemed unstable. Even as I looked, however, I saw,
far, far down in the darkness, a tiny speck of light, the smallest
possible dot, but clear and steady against the inky background. 

'What is that light?' I asked.

Malone bent over the parapet beside me.

'That's one of the cages coming up,' said he. 'Rather wonderful, is it
not? That is a mile or more from us, and that little gleam is a
powerful arc lamp. It travels quickly, and will be here in a few

Sure enough the pin-point of light came larger and larger, until it
flooded the tube with its silvery radiance, and I had to turn away my
eyes from its blinding glare. A moment later the iron cage clashed up
to the landing stage, and four men crawled out of it and passed on to
the entrance.

'Nearly all in,' said Malone. 'It is no joke to do a two-hour shift at
that depth. Well, some of your stuff is ready to hand here. I suppose
the best thing we can do is to go down. Then you will be able to judge
the situation for yourself.'

There was an annexe to the engine-house into which he led me. A number
of baggy suits of the lightest tussore material were hanging from the
wall. Following Malone's example I took off every stitch of my
clothes, and put on one of these suits, together with a pair of
rubber-soled slippers. Malone finished before I did and left the
dressing-room. A moment later I heard a noise like ten dog-fights
rolled into one, and rushing out I found my friend rolling on the
ground with his arms round the workman who was helping to stack my
artesian tubing. He was endeavouring to tear something from him to
which the other was most desperately clinging. But Malone was too
strong for him, tore the object out of his grasp, and danced upon it
until it was shattered to pieces. Only then did I recognize that it
was a photographic camera. My grimy-faced artisan rose ruefully from
the floor.

'Confound you, Ted Malone!' said he. 'That was a new ten-guinea

'Can't help it, Roy. I saw you take the snap, and there was only one
thing to do.'

'How the devil did you get mixed up with my outfit?' I asked, with
righteous indignation.

The rascal winked and grinned. 'There are always and means,' said he.

'But don't blame your foreman. He thought it was just a rag. I swapped
clothes with his assistant, and in I came.'

'And out you go,' said Malone. 'No use arguing, Roy. If Challenger
were here he would set the dogs on you. I've been in a hole myself so
I won't be hard, but I am watch-dog here, and I can bite as well as
bark. Come on! Out you march!'

So our enterprising visitor was marched by two grinning workmen out of
the compound. So now the public will at last understand the genesis of
that wonderful four-column article headed 'Mad Dream of a Scientist'
with the subtitle. 'A Bee-line to Australia,' which appeared in The
Adviser some days later and brought Challenger to the verge of
apoplexy, and the editor of The Adviser to the most disagreeable and
dangerous interview of his lifetime. The article was a highly coloured
and exaggerated account of the adventure of Roy Perkins, 'our
experienced war correspondent' and it contained such purple passages
as 'this hirsute bully of Enmore Gardens,' 'a compound guarded by
barbed wire, plug-uglies, and bloodhounds,' and finally, 'I was
dragged from the edge of the Anglo-Australian tunnel by two ruffians,
the more savage being a jack-of-all trades whom I had previously known
by sight as a hanger-on of the journalistic profession, while the
other, a sinister figure in a strange tropical garb, was posing as an
Artesian engineer, though his appearance was more reminiscent of
Whitechapel.' Having ticked us off in this way, the rascal had an
elaborate description of rails at the pit mouth, and of a zigzag
excavation by which funicular trains were to burrow into the earth.

The only practical inconvenience arising from the article was that it
notably increased that line of loafers who sat upon the South Downs
waiting for something to happen. The day came when it did happen and
when they wished themselves elsewhere.

My foreman with his faked assistant had littered the place with all my
apparatus, my bellbox, my crowsfoot, the V-drills, the rods, and the
weight, but Malone insisted that we disregard all that and descend
ourselves to the lowest level. To this end we entered the cage, which
was of latticed steel, and in the company of the chief engineer we
shot down into the bowels of the earth. There were a series of
automatic lifts, each with its own operating station hollowed out in
the side of the excavation. They operated with great speed, and the
experience was more like a vertical railway journey than the
deliberate fall which we associate with the British lift.

Since the cage was latticed and brightly illuminated, we had a clear
view of the strata which we passed. I was conscious of each of them as
we flashed past. There were the sallow lower chalk, the
coffee-coloured Hastings beds, the lighter Ashburnham beds, the dark
carboniferous clays, and then, gleaming in the electric light, band
after band of jet-black, sparkling coal alternating with the rings of
clay. Here and there brickwork had been inserted, but as a rule the
shaft was self-supported, and one could but marvel at the immense
labour and mechanical skill which it represented. Beneath the
coal-beds I was conscious of jumbled strata of a concrete-like
appearance, and then we shot down into the primitive granite, where
the quartz crystals gleamed and twinkled as if the dark walls were
sown with the dust of diamonds. Down we went and ever down--lower
now than ever mortals had ever before penetrated. The archaic rocks
varied wonderfully in colour, and I can never forget one broad belt of
rose-coloured felspar, which shone with an unearthly beauty before our
powerful lamps. Stage after stage, and lift after lift, the air
getting ever closer and hotter until even the light tussore garments
were intolerable and the sweat was pouring down into those
rubber-soled slippers. At last, just as I was thinking that I could
stand it no more, the last lift came to a stand and we stepped out
upon a circular platform which had been cut in the rock. I noticed
that Malone gave a curiously suspicious glance round at the walls as
he did so. If I did not know him to be amongst the bravest of men, I
should say that he was exceedingly nervous.

'Funny-looking stuff,' said the chief engineer, passing his hand over
the nearest section of rock. He held it to the light and showed that
it was glistening with a curious slimy scum. 'There have been
shiverings and tremblings down here. I don't know what we are dealing
with. The Professor seems pleased with it, but it's all new to me.' 

'I am bound to say I've seen that wall fairly shake itself,' said
Malone. 'Last time I was down here we fixed those two cross-beams for
your drill, and when we cut into it for the supports it winced at
every stroke. The old man's theory seemed absurd in solid old London
town, but down here, eight miles under the surface, I am not so sure
about it.'

'If you saw what was under that tarpaulin you would be even less
sure,' said the engineer. 'All this lower rock cut like cheese, and
when we were through it we came on a new formation like nothing on
earth. "Cover it up! Don't touch it!" said the Professor. So we
tarpaulined it according to his instructions, and there it lies. 

'Could we not have a look?'

A frightened expression came over the engineer's lugubrious

'It's no joke disobeying the Professor,' said he. 'He is so damn
cunning, too, that you never know what check he has set on you.
However, we'll have a peep and chance it.'

He turned down our reflector lamp so that the light gleamed upon the
black tarpaulin. Then he stooped and, seizing a rope which connected
up with the corner of the covering, he disclosed half-a-dozen square
yards of the surface beneath it.

It was a most extraordinary and terrifying sight. The floor consisted
of some greyish material, glazed and shiny, which rose and fell in
slow palpitation. The throbs were not direct, but gave the impression
of a gentle ripple or rhythm, which ran across the surface. This
surface itself was not entirely homogeneous, but beneath it, seen as
through ground glass, there were dim whitish patches or vacuoles,
which varied constantly in shape and size. We stood all three gazing
spell-bound at this extraordinary sight.

'Does look rather like a skinned animal,' said Malone, in an awed
whisper. 'The old man may not be so far out with his blessed echinus.'

'Good Lord!' I cried. 'And am I to plunge a harpoon into that beast!'

'That's your privilege, my son,' said Malone, 'and, sad to relate,
unless I give it a miss in baulk, I shall have to be at your side when
you do it.'

'Well, I won't,' said the head engineer, with decision.

'I was never clearer on anything than I am on that. If the old man
insists, then I resign my portfolio. Good Lord, look at that!'

The grey surface gave a sudden heave upwards, welling towards us as a
wave does when you look down from the bulwarks. Then it subsided and
the dim beatings and throbbings continued as before. Barforth lowered
the rope and replaced the tarpaulin.

'Seemed almost as if it knew we were here,' said he.

'Why should it swell up towards us like that? I expect the light had
some sort of effect upon it.'

'What am I expected to do now?' I asked. Mr. Barforth pointed to two
beams which lay across the pit just under the stopping place of the
lift. There was an interval of about nine inches between them. 

'That was the old man's idea,' said he. 'I think I could have fixed it
better, but you might as well try to argue with a mad buffalo. It is
easier and safer just to do whatever he says. His idea is that you
should use your six-inch bore and fasten it in some way between these
supports. '

'Well, I don't think there would be much difficulty about that,' I
answered. 'I'll take the job over as from to-day.'

It was, as one might imagine, the strangest experience of my very
varied life which has included well-sinking in every continent upon
earth. As Professor Challenger was so insistent that the operation
should be started from a distance, and as I began to see a good deal
of sense in his contention, I had to plan some method of electric
control, which was easy enough as the pit was wired from top to
bottom. With infinite care my foreman, Peters, and I brought down our
lengths of tubing and stacked them on the rocky ledge. Then we raised
the stage of the lowest lift so as to give ourselves room. As we
proposed to use the percussion system, for it would not do to trust
entirely to gravity, we hung our hundred-pound weight over a pulley
beneath the lift, and ran our tubes down beneath it with a V-shaped
terminal. Finally, the rope which held the weight was secured to the
side of the shaft in such a way that an electrical discharge would
release it. It was delicate and difficult work done in a more than
tropical heat, and with the ever-present feeling that a slip of a foot
or the dropping of a tool upon the tarpaulin beneath us might bring
about some inconceivable catastrophe. We were awed, too, by our
surroundings. Again and again I have seen a strange quiver and shiver
pass down the walls, and have even felt a dull throb against my hands
as I touched them. Neither Peters nor I were very sorry when we
signalled for the last time that we were ready for the surface, and
were able to report to Mr. Barforth that Professor Challenger could
make his experiment as soon as he chose.

And it was not long that we had to wait. Only three days after my date
of completion my notice arrived.

It was an ordinary invitation card such as one uses for 'at homes,'
and it ran thus:


'F.R.S. MD., D.Sc., etc.

'(late President Zoological Institute and holder of so many honorary
degrees and appointments that they overtax the capacity of this card)

'requests the attendance of

'MR. JONES (no lady)

'at 11.30 a.m. of Tuesday, June 21st, to witness a

'remarkable triumph of mind over matter



'Special train Victoria 10.5. Passengers pay their own fares. Lunch
after the experiment or not--according to circumstances. Station,

'R.S.V.P. (and at once with name in block letters), 14 (Bis), Enmore
Gardens, S.W.'

I found that Malone had just received a similar missive over which he
was chuckling.

'It is mere swank sending it to us,' said he. 'We have to be there
whatever happens, as the hangman said to the murderer. But I tell you
this has set all London buzzing. The old man is where he likes to be,
with a pin-point limelight right on his hairy old head.'

And so at last the great day came. Personally I thought it well to go
down the night before so as to be sure that everything was in order.
Our borer was fixed in position, the weight was adjusted, the electric
contacts could be easily switched on, and I was satisfied that my own
part in this strange experiment would be carried out without a hitch.
The electric controls were operated at a point some five hundred yards
from the mouth of the shaft, to minimize any personal danger. When on
the fateful morning, an ideal English summer day, I came to the
surface with my mind assured, I climbed half-way up the slope of the
Down in order to have a general view of the proceedings.

All the world seemed to be coming to Hengist Down. As far as we could
see the roads were dotted with people. Motor-cars came bumping and
swaying down the lanes, and discharged their passengers at the gate of
the compound. This was in most cases the end of their progress. A
powerful band of janitors waited at the entrance, and no promises or
bribes, but only the production of the coveted buff tickets, could get
them any farther. They dispersed therefore and joined the vast crowd
which was already assembling on the side of the hill and covering the
ridge with a dense mass of spectators. The place was like Epsom Downs
on the Derby Day. Inside the compound certain areas had been
wired-off, and the various privileged people were conducted to the
particular pen to which they had been allotted. There was one for
peers, one for members of the House of Commons, and one for the heads
of learned societies and the men of fame in the scientific world,
including Le Pellier of the Sorbonne and Dr. Driesinger of the Berlin
Academy. A special reserved enclosure with sandbags and a corrugated
iron roof was set aside for three members of the Royal Family. 

At a quarter past eleven a succession of chars-a-bancs brought up
specially-invited guests from the station and I went down into the
compound to assist at the reception. Professor Challenger stood by the
select enclosure, resplendent in frock-coat, white waistcoat, and
burnished top-hat, his expression a blend of overpowering and almost
offensive benevolence, mixed with most portentous self-importance.

'Clearly a typical victim of the Jehovah complex,' as one of his
critics described him. He assisted in conducting and occasionally in
propelling his guests into their proper places, and then, having
gathered the elite of the company around him, he took his station upon
the top of a convenient hillock and looked around him with the air of
the chairman who expects some welcoming applause. As none was
forthcoming, he plunged at once into his subject, his voice booming to
the farthest extremities of the enclosure.

'Gentlemen,' he roared, 'upon this occasion I have no need to include
the ladies. If I have not invited them to be present with us this
morning it is not, I can assure you, for want of appreciation, for I
may say'--with elephantine humour and mock modesty--'that the
relations between us upon both sides have always been excellent, and
indeed intimate. The real reason is that some small element of danger
is involved in our experiment, though it is not sufficient to justify
the discomposure which I see upon many of your faces. It will interest
the members of the Press to know that I have reserved very special
seats for them upon the spoil banks which immediately overlook the
scene of the operation. They have shown an interest which is sometimes
indistinguishable from impertinence in my affairs, so that on this
occasion at least they cannot complain that I have been remiss in
studying their convenience. If nothing happens, which is always
possible, I have at least done my best for them. If, on the other
hand, something does happen, they will be in an excellent position to
experience and record it, should they ultimately feel equal to the

'It is, as you will readily understand, impossible for a man of
science to explain to what I may describe, without undue disrespect,
as the common herd, the various reasons for his conclusions or his
actions. I hear some unmannerly interruptions, and I will ask the
gentleman with the horn spectacles to cease waving his umbrella. (A
voice: "Your description of your guests, sir, is most offensive.")
Possibly it is my phrase, "the common herd," which has ruffled the
gentleman. Let us say, then, that my listeners are a most uncommon
herd. We will not quibble over phrases. I was about to say, before I
was interrupted by this unseemly remark, that the whole matter is very
fully and lucidly discussed in my forthcoming volume upon the earth,
which I may describe with all due modesty as one of the epoch-making
books of the world's history. (General interruption and cries of "Get
down to the facts!" "What are we here for?" "Is this a practical
joke?") I was about to make the matter clear, and if I have any
further interruption I shall be compelled to take means to preserve
decency and order, the lack of which is so painfully obvious. The
position is, then, that I have sunk a shaft through the crust of the
earth and that I am about to try the effect of a vigorous stimulation
of its sensory cortex, a delicate operation which will be carried out
by my subordinates, Mr. Peerless Jones, a self-styled expert in
Artesian borings, and Mr. Edward Malone, who represents myself upon
this occasion. The exposed and sensitive substance will be pricked,
and how it will react is a matter for conjecture. If you will now
kindly take your seats these two gentlemen will descend into the pit
and make the final adjustments. I will then press the electric button
upon this table and the experiment will be complete.'

An audience after one of Challenger's harangues usually felt as if,
like the earth, its protective epidermis had been pierced and its
nerves laid bare. This assembly was no exception, and there was a dull
murmur of criticism and resentment as they returned to their places.

Challenger sat alone on the top of the mound, a small table beside
him, his black mane and beard vibrating with excitement, a most
portentous figure. Neither Malone nor I could admire the scene,
however, for we hurried off upon our extraordinary errand. Twenty
minutes later we were at the bottom of the shaft, and had pulled the
tarpaulin from the exposed surface.

It was an amazing sight which lay before us. By some strange cosmic
telepathy the old planet seemed to know that an unheard-of liberty was
about to be attempted. The exposed surface was like a boiling pot.
Great grey bubbles rose and burst with a crackling report. The
air-spaces and vacuoles below the skin separated and coalesced in an
agitated activity. The transverse ripples were stronger and faster in
their rhythm than before. A dark purple fluid appeared to pulse in the
tortuous anastomoses of channels which lay under the surface. The
throb of life was in it all. A heavy smell made the air hardly fit for
human lungs.

My gaze was fixed upon this strange spectacle when Malone at my elbow
gave a sudden gasp of alarm. 'My God, Jones!' he cried. 'Look there!' 

I gave one glance, and the next instant I released the electric
connection and I sprang into the lift. 'Come on!' I cried. 'It may be
a race for life!'

What we had seen was indeed alarming. The whole lower shaft, it would
seem, had shared in the increased activity which we had observed
below, and the walls were throbbing and pulsing in sympathy. This
movement had reacted upon the holes in which the beams rested, and it
was clear that a very little further retraction--a matter of inches
--the beams would fall. If they did so then the sharp end of my rod
would, of course, penetrate the earth quite independently of the
electric release. Before that happened it was vital that Malone and I
should be out of the shaft. To be eight miles down in the earth with
the chance any instant of some extraordinary convulsion taking place
was a terrible prospect. We fled wildly for the surface.

Shall either of us ever forget that nightmare journey? The lifts
whizzed and buzzed and yet the minutes seemed to be hours. As we
reached each stage we sprang out, jumped into the next lift, touched
the release and flew onwards. Through the steel latticed roof we could
see far away the little circle of light which marked the mouth of the
shaft. Now it grew wider and wider, until it came full circle and our
glad eyes rested upon the brickwork of the opening. Up we shot, and up
--and then at last in a glad moment of joy and thankfulness we sprang
out of our prison and had our feet upon the green sward once more. But
it was touch and go. We had not gone thirty paces from the shaft when
far down in the depths my iron dart shot into the nerve ganglion of
old Mother Earth and the great moment had arrived.

What was it happened? Neither Malone nor I was in a position to say,
for both of us were swept off our feet as by a cyclone and swirled
along the grass, revolving round and round like two curling stones
upon an ice rink. At the same time our ears were assailed by the most
horrible yell that ever yet was heard. Who is there of all the
hundreds who have attempted it who has ever yet described adequately
that terrible cry? It was a howl in which pain, anger, menace, and the
outraged majesty of Nature all blended into one hideous shriek. For a
full minute it lasted, a thousand sirens in one, paralysing all the
great multitude with its fierce insistence, and floating away through
the still summer air until it went echoing along the whole South Coast
and even reached our French neighbours across the Channel. No sound in
history has ever equalled the cry of the injured Earth.

Dazed and deafened, Malone and I were aware of the shock and of the
sound, but it is from the narrative of others that we learned the
other details of that extraordinary scene.

The first emergence from the bowels of the earth consisted of the lift
cages. The other machinery being against the walls escaped the blast,
but the solid floors of the cages took the full force of the upward
current. When several separate pellets are placed in a blow-pipe they
still shoot forth in their order and separately from each other. So
the fourteen lift cages appeared one after the other in the air, each
soaring after the other, and describing a glorious parabola which
landed one of them in the sea near Worthing pier, and a second one in
a field not far from Chichester. Spectators have averred that of all
the strange sights that they had ever seen nothing could exceed that
of the fourteen lift cages sailing serenely through the blue heavens. 

Then came the geyser. It was an enormous spout of vile treacly
substance of the consistence of tar, which shot up into the air to a
height which has been computed at two thousand feet. An inquisitive
aeroplane, which had been hovering over the scene, was picked off as
by an Archie and made a forced landing, man and machine buried in
filth. This horrible stuff, which had a most penetrating and nauseous
odour, may have represented the life blood of the planet, or it may
be, as Professor Driesinger and the Berlin School maintain, that it is
a protective secretion, analogous to that of the skunk, which Nature
has provided in order to defend Mother Earth from intrusive
Challengers. If that were so the prime offender, seated on his throne
upon the hillock, escaped untarnished, while the unfortunate Press
were so soaked and saturated, being in the direct line of fire, that
none of them was capable of entering decent society for many weeks.
This gush of putridity was blown southwards by the breeze, and
descended upon the unhappy crowd who had waited so long and so
patiently upon the crest of the Downs to see what would happen. There
were no casualties. No home was left desolate, but many were made
odoriferous, and still carry within their walls some souvenir of that
great occasion.

And then came the closing of the pit. As Nature slowly closes a wound
from below upwards, so does the Earth with extreme rapidity mend any
rent which is made in its vital substance. There was a prolonged
high-pitched crash as the sides of the shaft came together, the sound,
reverberating from the depths and then rising higher and higher until
with a deafening bang the brick circle at the orifice flattened out
and clashed together, while a tremor like a small earthquake shook
down the spoil banks and piled a pyramid fifty feet high of debris and
broken iron over the spot where the hole had been. Professor
Challenger's experiment was not only finished, it was buried from
human sight for ever. If it were not for the obelisk which has now
been erected by the Royal Society it is doubtful if our descendants
would ever know the exact site of that remarkable occurrence. 

And then came the grand finale. For a long period after these
successive phenomena there was a hush and a tense stillness as folk
reassembled their wits and tried to realize exactly what had occurred
and how it had come about. And then suddenly the mighty achievement,
the huge sweep of the conception, the genius and wonder of the
execution, broke upon their minds. With one impulse they turned upon
Challenger. From every part of the field there came the cries of
admiration, and from his hillock he could look down upon the lake of
upturned faces broken only by the rise and fall of the waving
handkerchiefs. As I look back I see him best as I saw him then. He
rose from his chair, his eyes half closed, a smile of conscious merit
upon his face, his left hand upon his hip, his right buried in the
breast of his frock-coat. Surely that picture will be fixed for ever,
for I heard the cameras clicking round me like crickets in a field.

The June sun shone golden upon him as he turned gravely bowing to each
quarter of the compass. Challenger the super scientist, Challenger the
arch-pioneer, Challenger the first man of all men whom Mother Earth
had been compelled to recognize.

Only a word by way of epilogue. It is of course well known that the
effect of the experiment was a world-wide one. It is true that nowhere
did the injured planet emit such a howl as at the actual point of
penetration, but she showed that she was indeed one entity by her
conduct elsewhere. Through every vent and every volcano she voiced her
indignation. Hecla bellowed until the Icelanders feared a cataclysm.
Vesuvius blew its head off. Etna spewed up a quantity of lava, and a
suit of half-a-million lira damages has been decided against
Challenger in the Italian Courts for the destruction of vineyards.
Even in Mexico and in the belt of Central America there were signs of
intense Plutonic indignation, and the howls of Stromboli filled the
whole Eastern Mediterranean. It has been the common ambition of
mankind to set the whole world talking. To set the whole world
screaming was the privilege of Challenger alone.


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