"Well, it is a translation."
"Then I'd better try my luck with the original."
"It is certainly rather deep for a layman."
"If I could only get a single good, meaty sentence which seemed to convey some sort of definite human idea, it would serve my turn.
Ah, yes, this one will do.
I seem in a vague way almost to understand it.
I'll copy it out.
This shall be my link with the terrible Professor."
"Nothing else I can do?"
"Well, yes; I propose to write to him.
If I could frame the letter here, and use your address it would give atmosphere."
"We'll have the fellow round here making a row and breaking the furniture."
"No, no; you'll see the letter—nothing contentious, I assure you."
"Well, that's my chair and desk.
You'll find paper there.
I'd like to censor it before it goes."
It took some doing, but I flatter myself that it wasn't such a bad job when it was finished.
I read it aloud to the critical bacteriologist with some pride in my handiwork.
"DEAR PROFESSOR CHALLENGER," it said,
"As a humble student of Nature, I have always taken the most profound interest in your speculations as to the differences between Darwin and Weissmann.
I have recently had occasion to refresh my memory by re-reading——"
"You infernal liar!" murmured Tarp Henry.
—"by re-reading your masterly address at Vienna.
That lucid and admirable statement seems to be the last word in the matter.
There is one sentence in it, however—namely:
'I protest strongly against the insufferable and entirely dogmatic assertion that each separate id is a microcosm possessed of an historical architecture elaborated slowly through the series of generations.'
Have you no desire, in view of later research, to modify this statement?
Do you not think that it is over-accentuated?
With your permission, I would ask the favor of an interview, as I feel strongly upon the subject, and have certain suggestions which I could only elaborate in a personal conversation.
With your consent, I trust to have the honor of calling at eleven o'clock the day after to-morrow (Wednesday) morning.
"I remain, Sir, with assurances of profound respect, yours very truly, EDWARD D. MALONE."
"How's that?" I asked, triumphantly.
"Well if your conscience can stand it——"
"It has never failed me yet."
"But what do you mean to do?"
"To get there.
Once I am in his room I may see some opening.
I may even go the length of open confession.
If he is a sportsman he will be tickled."
He's much more likely to do the tickling.
Chain mail, or an American football suit—that's what you'll want.
I'll have the answer for you here on Wednesday morning—if he ever deigns to answer you.
He is a violent, dangerous, cantankerous character, hated by everyone who comes across him, and the butt of the students, so far as they dare take a liberty with him.
Perhaps it would be best for you if you never heard from the fellow at all."
CHAPTER III "He is a Perfectly Impossible Person"
My friend's fear or hope was not destined to be realized.
When I called on Wednesday there was a letter with the West Kensington postmark upon it, and my name scrawled across the envelope in a handwriting which looked like a barbed-wire railing.
The contents were as follows:—