I often listened to Mr Hungerton. He talked to me about economics. It was very boring, but I was in love with his daughter Gladys.
One evening, I listened to him for a long time. Finally, he left. I now had a chance to speak to Gladys. She was a proud woman and she treated me as a friend.
She looked at me and said, ‘You’re going to propose marriage.
‘How doyou know?’ I replied.
‘A woman always knows. But Edward, I don’t love you. I love somebody else,’ she continued.
‘Who?’ I cried.
‘Nobody really. I love the idea of someone. I want to love a hero, somebody like the great explorers Richard Burton and Lord Stanley! A man who has nearly seen death. A great hero! When I marry I want to marry a great man.’
‘Then I’ll do something great for you,’ Ireplied.
‘When you do, come back. We can talk about marriage then,’ she said.
I left her and went to work.
I was a journalist and I had to work that evening.
When I arrived at the offices of the newspaper the Daily Gazette, I went to see my boss, the news editor, Mr McArdle.
‘You’re doing a very good job,’ he said when he saw me.
‘Thank you very much, sir,’ I replied. ‘I want to ask you afavour.’
‘What is it?’
‘Could you possibly send me on a mission for the paper? Then I could write some good articles for you.’
‘What kind of mission, Mr Malone?’
‘Well, anything with adventure and danger.’
‘Do you really want to die so young?’
‘No, I want to do something heroic with my life,’ I said.
‘Well, the age of exploration and romance is over. No, wait, I have an idea. What about exposinga fraud? You could show that he’s a liar. Do you like that idea?’
‘Yes, anything is good,’ I replied.
‘Well,’ continued Mr McArdle, ‘I’m sure that you can talk to this man. You’re good at making friends with people.’
‘Thank you, sir,’ I said.
‘So, try to talk to Professor Challenger.’
‘Challenger!’ I cried, ‘Professor Challenger, the famous zoologist! The man who attacked Blundell, thejournalist of the Telegraph?’
‘Well,’ said Mr McArdle, ‘you said that you wanted adventure.’
‘Yes, I do,’ I answered, ‘but what exactly has Professor Challenger done?’
‘He went to South America on an expedition two years ago,’ he answered excitedly. ‘He came back last year. He certainly went to South America, but he doesn’t want to say where exactly. He started to tell ev eryone about hisadventures. However, when people ask him questions he never replies. Something wonderful happened, or the man is a very good liar. H e has some photographs in bad condition, but scientists say that they are fakes. When journalists try to talk to him, he just throws them down the stairs. Well, Mr Malone, this is your mission. Goodbye.’
My meeting was over. Now I had to make a plan to meet ProfessorChallenger. I knew that he hated journalists. I decided to write him a letter saying I was interested in science. This is the letter that I wrote.
Dear Professor Challenger,
I am only a student of nature and science, but I am very interested in your ideas on the debate between the scientists August Weismann and Charles Darwin. I would very much like to discuss some of your ideas. I believe you arethe real expert on this matter. I have many questions to ask you about this fascinating subject.
Please could I visit you at eleven o’clock tomorrow morning?
Edward D. Malone.
Later I received a letter from Professor Challenger.
I received your letter. You can come to my house. However, I am a great scientist and I do notneed your good opinion of me. Show this letter to my servant when you arrive. I do not want any of those horrible journalists in my house.
George Edward Challenger.
The next day I went to his house. A servant opened the door. ‘Is Professor Challenger expecting you?’ he asked.
‘Yes , he is,’ I answered.
‘Have you got the letter?’ he continued.
I showed the letter to...