Click here to Download The Poison Belt PDF Book by Arthur Conan Doyle Language English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 49.
It is imperative that now at once, while these stupendous events are still clear in my mind, I should set them down with that exactness of detail which time may blur. But even as I do so, I am overwhelmed by the wonder of the fact that it should be our little group of the “Lost World”—Professor Challenger.
The Poison Belt PDF Book by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Professor Summerlee, Lord John Roxton, and myself—who have passed through this amazing experience. When, some years ago, I chronicled in the Daily Gazette our epoch-making journey in South America, I little thought that it should ever fall to my lot to tell an even stranger personal experience.
One which is unique in all human annals and must stand out in the records of history as a great peak among the humble foothills which surround it. The event itself will always be marvellous, but the circumstances that we four were together at the time of this extraordinary episode came about in a most natural and, indeed, inevitable fashion.
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I will explain the events which led up to it as shortly and as clearly as I can, though I am well aware that the fuller the detail upon such a subject the more welcome it will be to the reader, for the public curiosity has been and still is insatiable. It was upon Friday.
The twenty-seventh of August—a date forever memorable in the history of the world —that I went down to the office of my paper and asked for three days’ leave of absence from Mr. McArdle, who still presided over our news department. The good old Scotchman shook his head, scratched his dwindling fringe of ruddy fluff.
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And finally put his reluctance into words. “I was thinking, Mr. Malone, that we could employ you to advantage these days. I was thinking there was a story that you are the only man that could handle as it should be handled.” “I am sorry for that,” said I, trying to hide my disappointment.
“Of course if I am needed, there is an end of the matter. But the engagement was important and intimate. If I could be spared——” “Well, I don’t see that you can.” It was bitter, but I had to put the best face I could upon it. After all, it was my own fault, for I should have known by this time that a journalist has no right to make plans of his own.
“Then I’ll think no more of it,” said I with as much cheerfulness as I could assume at so short a notice. “What was it that you wanted me to do?” “Well, it was just to interview that deevil of a man down at Rotherfield.” “You don’t mean Professor Challenger?” I cried. The Poison Belt PDF Book
“Aye, it’s just him that I do mean. He ran young Alec Simpson of the Courier a mile down the high road last week by the collar of his coat and the slack of his breeches. You’ll have read of it, likely, in the police report. Our boys would as soon interview a loose alligator in the zoo. But you could do it, I’m thinking—an old friend like you.”
“Well, well! I have had one too, and, as you see, very much against the grain, I have acted upon it. Our good friend is as impossible as ever. The need for oxygen could not have been so urgent that he must desert the usual means of supply and encroach upon the time of those who are really busier than himself.
Why could he not order it direct?” I could only suggest that he probably wanted it at once. “Or thought he did, which is quite another matter. But it is superfluous now for you to purchase any, since I have this considerable supply.” “Still, for some reason he seems to wish that I should bring oxygen too. The Poison Belt PDF Book
It will be safer to do exactly what he tells me.” Accordingly, in spite of many grumbles and remonstrances from Summerlee, I ordered an additional tube, which was placed with the other in his motor-car, for he had offered me a lift to Victoria. I turned away to pay off my taxi, the driver of which was very cantankerous and abusive over his fare.
As I came back to Professor Summerlee, he was having a furious altercation with the men who had carried down the oxygen, his little white goat’s beard jerking with indignation. One of the fellows called him, I remember, “a silly old bleached cockatoo.”
Which so enraged his chauffeur that he bounded out of his seat to take the part of his insulted master, and it was all we could do to prevent a riot in the street. These little things may seem trivial to relate, and passed as mere incidents at the time. It is only now, as I look back, that I see their relation to the whole story which I have to unfold. The Poison Belt PDF Book
The chauffeur must, as it seemed to me, have been a novice or else have lost his nerve in this disturbance, for he drove vilely on the way to the station. Twice we nearly had collisions with other equally erratic vehicles, and I remember remarking to Summerlee that the standard of driving in London had very much declined.
Once we brushed the very edge of a great crowd which was watching a fight at the corner of the Mall. The people, who were much excited, raised cries of anger at the clumsy driving, and one fellow sprang upon the step and waved a stick above our heads. I pushed him off, but we were glad when we had got clear of them and safe out of the park.
These little events, coming one after the other, left me very jangled in my nerves, and I could see from my companion’s petulant manner that his own patience had got to a low ebb. But our good humour was restored when we saw Lord John Roxton waiting for us upon the platform, his tall, thin figure clad in a yellow tweed shooting-suit. The Poison Belt PDF Book Download
His keen face, with those unforgettable eyes, so fierce and yet so humorous, flushed with pleasure at the sight of us. His ruddy hair was shot with grey, and the furrows upon his brow had been cut a little deeper by Time’s chisel, but in all else he was the Lord John who had been our good comrade in the past.
“With your permission I will say a few words upon that subject.” He seated himself upon his desk, his short, stumpy legs swinging in front of him. “We are assisting at a tremendous and awful function. It is, in my opinion, the end of the world.” The end of the world!
Our eyes turned to the great bow-window and we looked out at the summer beauty of the country-side, the long slopes of heather, the great country-houses, the cozy farms, the pleasure-seekers upon the links. The end of the world! One had often heard the words, but the idea that they could ever have an immediate practical significance.The Poison Belt PDF Book Download
That it should not be at some vague date, but now, to-day, that was a tremendous, a staggering thought. We were all struck solemn and waited in silence for Challenger to continue. His overpowering presence and appearance lent such force to the solemnity of his words that for a moment all the crudities and absurdities of the man vanished.
And he loomed before us as something majestic and beyond the range of ordinary humanity. Then to me, at least, there came back the cheering recollection of how twice since we had entered the room he had roared with laughter. Surely, I thought, there are limits to mental detachment.
The crisis cannot be so great or so pressing after all. “You will conceive a bunch of grapes,” said he, “which are covered by some infinitesimal but noxious bacillus. The gardener passes it through a disinfecting medium. It may be that he desires his grapes to be cleaner. It may be that he needs space to breed some fresh bacillus less noxious than the last. The Poison Belt PDF Book Download
He dips it into the poison and they are gone. Our Gardener is, in my opinion, about to dip the solar system, and the human bacillus, the little mortal vibrio which twisted and wriggled upon the outer rind of the earth, will in an instant be sterilized out of existence.”
“I was at the Gazette office about ten,” said I. “There was a Reuter just come in from Singapore to the effect that the sickness seemed to be universal in Sumatra and that the lighthouses had not been lit in consequence.” “Events have been moving somewhat rapidly since then,” said Challenger, picking up his pile of telegrams.
“I am in close touch both with the authorities and with the press, so that news is converging upon me from all parts. There is, in fact, a general and very insistent demand that I should come to London; but I see no good end to be served. From the accounts the poisonous effect begins with mental excitement.The Poison Belt PDF Book Free
The rioting in Paris this morning is said to have been very violent, and the Welsh colliers are in a state of uproar. So far as the evidence to hand can be trusted, this stimulative stage, which varies much in races and in individuals, is succeeded by a certain exaltation and mental lucidity.
I seem to discern some signs of it in our young friend here—which, after an appreciable interval, turns to coma, deepening rapidly into death. I fancy, so far as my toxicology carries me, that there are some vegetable nerve poisons——” “Datura,” suggested Summerlee. “Excellent!” cried Challenger.
“It would make for scientific precision if we named our toxic agent. Let it be daturon. To you, my dear Summerlee, belongs the honour—posthumous, alas, but none the less unique— of having given a name to the universal destroyer, the Great Gardener’s disinfectant. The symptoms of daturon, then, may be taken to be such as I indicate.The Poison Belt PDF Book Free
That it will involve the whole world and that no life can possibly remain behind seems to me to be certain, since ether is a universal medium. Up to now it has been capricious in the places which it has attacked, but the difference is only a matter of a few hours.
And it is like an advancing tide which covers one strip of sand and then another, running hither and thither in irregular streams, until at last it has submerged it all. There are laws at work in connection with the action and distribution of daturon which would have been of deep interest had the time at our disposal permitted us to study them.
So far as I can trace them”—here he glanced over his telegrams—”the less developed races have been the first to respond to its influence. There are deplorable accounts from Africa, and the Australian aborigines appear to have been already exterminated. The Northern races have as yet shown greater resisting power than the Southern. The Poison Belt PDF Book Free
This, you see, is dated from Marseilles at nine-forty-five this morning. I give it to you verbatim:— “‘All night delirious excitement throughout Provence. Tumult of vine growers at Nimes. Socialistic upheaval at Toulon. Sudden illness attended by coma attacked population this morning. Peste foudroyante.
Great numbers of dead in the streets. Paralysis of business and universal chaos.’ The chamber which was destined to be the scene of our unforgettable experience was a charmingly feminine sitting-room, some fourteen or sixteen feet square. At the end of it, divided by a curtain of red velvet, was a small apartment which formed the Professor’s dressing-room.
This in turn opened into a large bedroom. The curtain was still hanging, but the boudoir and dressing-room could be taken as one chamber for the purposes of our experiment. One door and the window frame had been plastered round with varnished paper so as to be practically sealed. The Poison Belt PDF Book Free
Above the other door, which opened on to the landing, there hung a fanlight which could be drawn by a cord when some ventilation became absolutely necessary. A large shrub in a tub stood in each corner. “How to get rid of our excessive carbon dioxide without unduly wasting our oxygen is a delicate and vital question.”
Said Challenger, looking round him after the five iron tubes had been laid side by side against the wall. “With longer time for preparation I could have brought the whole concentrated force of my intelligence to bear more fully upon the problem, but as it is we must do what we can. The shrubs will be of some small service.
Two of the oxygen tubes are ready to be turned on at an instant’s notice, so that we cannot be taken unawares. At the same time, it would be well not to go far from the room, as the crisis may be a sudden and urgent one.” There was a broad, low window opening out upon a balcony. The Poison Belt PDF Book Free
The view beyond was the same as that which we had already admired from the study. Looking out, I could see no sign of disorder anywhere. There was a road curving down the side of the hill, under my very eyes. A cab from the station, one of those prehistoric survivals which are only to be found in our country villages, was toiling slowly up the hill.
Lower down was a nurse girl wheeling a perambulator and leading a second child by the hand. The blue reeks of smoke from the cottages gave the whole widespread landscape an air of settled order and homely comfort. Nowhere in the blue heaven or on the sunlit earth was there any foreshadowing of a catastrophe.
The harvesters were back in the fields once more and the golfers, in pairs and fours, were still streaming round the links. There was so strange a turmoil within my own head, and such a jangling of my overstrung nerves, that the indifference of those people was amazing.