At this single point in the interior there has been, in some far distant age, a great, sudden volcanic upheaval.
These cliffs, I may remark, are basaltic, and therefore plutonic.
An area, as large perhaps as Sussex, has been lifted up en bloc with all its living contents, and cut off by perpendicular precipices of a hardness which defies erosion from all the rest of the continent.
What is the result?
Why, the ordinary laws of Nature are suspended.
The various checks which influence the struggle for existence in the world at large are all neutralized or altered.
Creatures survive which would otherwise disappear.
You will observe that both the pterodactyl and the stegosaurus are Jurassic, and therefore of a great age in the order of life. They have been artificially conserved by those strange accidental conditions."
"But surely your evidence is conclusive.
You have only to lay it before the proper authorities."
"So in my simplicity, I had imagined," said the Professor, bitterly.
"I can only tell you that it was not so, that I was met at every turn by incredulity, born partly of stupidity and partly of jealousy.
It is not my nature, sir, to cringe to any man, or to seek to prove a fact if my word has been doubted.
After the first I have not condescended to show such corroborative proofs as I possess. The subject became hateful to me—I would not speak of it.
When men like yourself, who represent the foolish curiosity of the public, came to disturb my privacy I was unable to meet them with dignified reserve.
By nature I am, I admit, somewhat fiery, and under provocation I am inclined to be violent.
I fear you may have remarked it."
I nursed my eye and was silent.
"My wife has frequently remonstrated with me upon the subject, and yet I fancy that any man of honor would feel the same.
To-night, however, I propose to give an extreme example of the control of the will over the emotions.
I invite you to be present at the exhibition."
He handed me a card from his desk.
"You will perceive that Mr. Percival Waldron, a naturalist of some popular repute, is announced to lecture at eight-thirty at the Zoological Institute's Hall upon
'The Record of the Ages.'
I have been specially invited to be present upon the platform, and to move a vote of thanks to the lecturer.
While doing so, I shall make it my business, with infinite tact and delicacy, to throw out a few remarks which may arouse the interest of the audience and cause some of them to desire to go more deeply into the matter.
Nothing contentious, you understand, but only an indication that there are greater deeps beyond.
I shall hold myself strongly in leash, and see whether by this self-restraint I attain a more favorable result."
"And I may come?" I asked eagerly.
"Why, surely," he answered, cordially.
He had an enormously massive genial manner, which was almost as overpowering as his violence.
His smile of benevolence was a wonderful thing, when his cheeks would suddenly bunch into two red apples, between his half-closed eyes and his great black beard.
"By all means, come.
It will be a comfort to me to know that I have one ally in the hall, however inefficient and ignorant of the subject he may be.
I fancy there will be a large audience, for Waldron, though an absolute charlatan, has a considerable popular following.
Now, Mr. Malone, I have given you rather more of my time than I had intended.
The individual must not monopolize what is meant for the world.
I shall be pleased to see you at the lecture to-night.
In the meantime, you will understand that no public use is to be made of any of the material that I have given you."
"But Mr. McArdle—my news editor, you know—will want to know what I have done."
"Tell him what you like.
You can say, among other things, that if he sends anyone else to intrude upon me I shall call upon him with a riding-whip.
But I leave it to you that nothing of all this appears in print.
Then the Zoological Institute's Hall at eight-thirty to-night."
I had a last impression of red cheeks, blue rippling beard, and intolerant eyes, as he waved me out of the room.
CHAPTER V "Question!"
What with the physical shocks incidental to my first interview with Professor Challenger and the mental ones which accompanied the second, I was a somewhat demoralized journalist by the time I found myself in Enmore Park once more.
In my aching head the one thought was throbbing that there really was truth in this man's story, that it was of tremendous consequence, and that it would work up into inconceivable copy for the Gazette when I could obtain permission to use it.
A taxicab was waiting at the end of the road, so I sprang into it and drove down to the office. McArdle was at his post as usual.