"What do you know of Professor Challenger?"
He gathered his brows in scientific disapproval.
"Challenger was the man who came with some cock-and-bull story from South America."
"Oh, it was rank nonsense about some queer animals he had discovered.
I believe he has retracted since.
Anyhow, he has suppressed it all.
He gave an interview to Reuter's, and there was such a howl that he saw it wouldn't do.
It was a discreditable business.
There were one or two folk who were inclined to take him seriously, but he soon choked them off."
"Well, by his insufferable rudeness and impossible behavior.
There was poor old Wadley, of the Zoological Institute.
Wadley sent a message:
'The President of the Zoological Institute presents his compliments to Professor Challenger, and would take it as a personal favor if he would do them the honor to come to their next meeting.'
The answer was unprintable."
"You don't say?"
"Well, a bowdlerized version of it would run:
'Professor Challenger presents his compliments to the President of the Zoological Institute, and would take it as a personal favor if he would go to the devil.'"
"Yes, I expect that's what old Wadley said.
I remember his wail at the meeting, which began:
'In fifty years experience of scientific intercourse——' It quite broke the old man up."
"Anything more about Challenger?"
"Well, I'm a bacteriologist, you know.
I live in a nine-hundred-diameter microscope.
I can hardly claim to take serious notice of anything that I can see with my naked eye. I'm a frontiersman from the extreme edge of the Knowable, and I feel quite out of place when I leave my study and come into touch with all you great, rough, hulking creatures.
I'm too detached to talk scandal, and yet at scientific conversaziones I HAVE heard something of Challenger, for he is one of those men whom nobody can ignore.
He's as clever as they make 'em—a full-charged battery of force and vitality, but a quarrelsome, ill-conditioned faddist, and unscrupulous at that.
He had gone the length of faking some photographs over the South American business."
"You say he is a faddist.
What is his particular fad?"
"He has a thousand, but the latest is something about Weissmann and Evolution.
He had a fearful row about it in Vienna, I believe."
"Can't you tell me the point?"
"Not at the moment, but a translation of the proceedings exists.
We have it filed at the office. Would you care to come?"
"It's just what I want.
I have to interview the fellow, and I need some lead up to him.
It's really awfully good of you to give me a lift.
I'll go with you now, if it is not too late."
Half an hour later I was seated in the newspaper office with a huge tome in front of me, which had been opened at the article
"Weissmann versus Darwin," with the sub heading,
"Spirited Protest at Vienna.
My scientific education having been somewhat neglected, I was unable to follow the whole argument, but it was evident that the English Professor had handled his subject in a very aggressive fashion, and had thoroughly annoyed his Continental colleagues.
"Protests," "Uproar," and "General appeal to the Chairman" were three of the first brackets which caught my eye.
Most of the matter might have been written in Chinese for any definite meaning that it conveyed to my brain.
"I wish you could translate it into English for me," I said, pathetically, to my help-mate.