فصل 03

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فصل 03

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Chapter three

‘Question!’

That evening I arrived at the Zoological Institute Hall. Outside there was a large crowd of people. Inside there were professors and also a large group of students. They were happy and noisy. Mr Waldron, some scientists and Professor Challenger sat at the front.

Mr Waldron began his lecture. He told us about the origin of our planet. He told us about the evolution of life from simple sea animals to fish and reptiles and finally to mammals.

Then he began to talk about the dinosaurs.

‘Fortunately, those terrible reptiles were extinct long before humans appeared on this planet.’

‘Question!’ someone said in a loud voice.

Mr Waldron stopped for a moment, but then he continued, ‘Those terrible reptiles which were extinct before the coming of man.’

‘Question!’ shouted someone again.

Mr Waldron looked with great surprise at the scientists near him. He then saw Professor Challenger with a smile on his face.

‘Ah, I understand,’ said Mr Waldron. ‘It’s my friend Professor Challenger,’ and then he continued his lecture.

But it did not end here. Every time Mr Waldron talked about extinct prehistoric life, Professor Challenger interrupted him Then the students began to shout, ‘Question!’ with the Professor.

‘These interruptions must end!’ shouted Mr Waldron angrily.

For a moment there was silence in the hall. Then Challenger stood up.

‘I must ask you, Mr Waldron,’ he said, ‘to stop saying things that are not scientifically true.’

Some people began to shout, ‘Send him home!’, and others, ‘I want to hear him!’

Professor Challenger sat down again and smiled. Mr Waldror finished his lecture quickly.

Finally, Professor Challenger had his chance to speak.

‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he began, ‘Mr Waldron is not a real scientist. He only explains our work to the general public. He is wrong when he says that certain animals are extinct. Nobody here believes me, but I am a prophet of science. I am like Galilee and Darwin, and I… (here there was a long interruption). The Professor walked forward and raised both hand. Everybody became silent.

‘I won’t say anymore. You can, however, test my ideas. Do you want to send somebody as your representative?’

Then, the famous scientist Professor Summerlee stood up.

‘Are you referring to the discoveries that you made in the Amazon two years ago?’ asked Professor Summerlee.

‘Yes, I am,’ replied Challenger.

‘And why didn’t Wallace, Bates and other famous explorers of that region see these things?’ continued Summerlee.

‘Perhaps, sir, you have confused the Thames with the Amazon. The Amazon is a much larger river,’ answered Challenger. ‘It’s about 6,000 kilometres long. It’s not strange that I saw things that they did not see.’

‘Yes, of course,’ continued Summerlee, ‘I understand the difference: we can’t test or prove your discoveries. Perhaps you can tell us the exact location of your discoveries.’

‘I can’t give that information now. Will you go on an expedition to test my discoveries?’

‘Yes, I will,’ answered Summerlee, and the crowd cheered.

‘Then,’ said Professor Challenger, ‘you’ll have all the information you need to go there. But you can’t go alone. Who will go with Professor Summerlee to the Amazon?’

This was a difficult moment for me, but I thought about Gladys.

‘I will go!’ I cried.

‘Name! Name!’ shouted the audience.

‘My name is Edward Dunn Malone. I’m a journalist for the Daily Gazette,’ I answered.

In front of me, there was another man standing.

‘What’s your name, sir?’ asked Challenger.

‘I’m Lord John Roxton,’ he answered. ‘I’ve already been up the Amazon. I know the area well.’

‘Lord John Roxton is a famous hunter and traveller. He and Mr Malone will be perfect for this mission,’ said Professor Challenger.

The meeting was over. I walked out of the hall into the night.

I was walking down the street when somebody touched my arm. It was Lord Roxton.

‘Mr Malone,’ he said, ‘we’ll be companions on this adventure. My house is near here. Come with me, I want to talk to you.’

We went to Lord Roxton’s house. It was full of strange objects from around the world and the heads of wild animals. He gave me something to drink and a cigar to smoke. We sat down in comfortable armchairs and began to talk.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘we did it, young man. I certainly didn’t plan to go on this expedition. What about you?’

‘No, not at all.’

‘Can you shoot?’ he asked.

‘Quite well,’ I answered.

Then he took out a rifle and said, ‘This is a very good rifle. I used it against the slave traders 3 three years ago. Sometimes, young man, you must fight for human rights and justice. I fought my own personal war against the slave traders in Peru. I killed many of them. In the end, I killed Pedro Lopez, their leader.’

He then took out another gun and gave it to me.

‘So,’ he continued, ‘what do you know about Professor Challenger?’

‘I met him for the first time today,’ I answered.

‘And how did you become interested in this expedition?’ he asked.

I told him a little about my meeting with Professor Challenger, and he listened carefully. Then he pulled out a map of South America and put it on the table.

‘I believe he told you the truth,’ he said. ‘I love South America. I’ve seen it all. I think it’s the most wonderful place on this planet. Once you know it, you’ll understand that anything is possible - anything. The Amazon River flows through a forest almost as big as Europe. Why can’t there be something new and wonderful in such a place? And why can’t we be the men to discover it?’

We talked a little more and then I left.


Finally, the expedition was ready, and Professor Summerlee, Lord John Roxton and I walked towards the boat. But before we got on the boat, we heard somebody shout. It was Professor Challenger.

‘I have a few things to say,’ he began. ‘First, I have no reason to thank you. The truth is the truth, and your expedition has no importance to me. My directions and instructions are in this closed envelope. You must open it when you arrive at a town on the Amazon called Manaos, and only on the day and at the time which is written on the outside of the envelope. Is that clear? Mr Malone you can write anything you want in your letters to the newspaper. But you can’t give any details about your exact destination. Goodbye, sir. After meeting you, I hate journalists a little less. Goodbye, Lord John. I can see that you don’t know anything at all about science, but you’ll be able to hunt dinosaurs. And goodbye to you also, Professor Summerlee. If you can possibly learn anything, I’m sure this expedition will be good for you.’

After this, he turned and left.

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