That proof you are destined to afford, and they to witness. As you descend in the lifts you will observe, presuming that you have the rare quality of observation, that you pass in succession the secondary chalk beds, the coal measures, some Devonian and Cambrian indications, and finally the granite, through which the greater part of our tunnel is conducted. The bottom is now covered with tarpaulin, which I order you not to tamper with, as any clumsy handling of the sensitive inner cuticle of the earth might bring about premature results. At my instruction, two strong beams have been laid across the shaft twenty feet above the bottom, with a space between them. This space will act as a clip to hold up your Artesian tube. Fifty feet of drill will suffice, twenty of which will project below the beams, so that the point of the drill comes nearly down to the tarpaulin. As you value your life do not let it go further. Thirty feet will then project upwards in the shaft, and when you have released it we may assume that not less than forty feet of drill will bury itself in the earth's substance. As this substance is very soft I find that you will probably need no driving power, and that simply a release of the tube will suffice by its own weight to drive it into the layer which we have uncovered. These instructions would seem to be sufficient for any ordinary intelligence, but I have little doubt that you will need more, which can be referred to me through our young friend, Malone.
'GEORGE EDWARD CHALLENGER.'
It can be imagined that when we arrived at the station of Storrington, near the northern foot of the South Downs, I was in a state of considerable nervous tension. A weather-worn Vauxhall thirty landaulette was awaiting us, and bumped us for six or seven miles over by-paths and lanes which, in spite of their natural seclusion, were deeply rutted and showed every sign of heavy traffic. A broken lorry lying in the grass at one point showed that others had found it rough going as well as we. Once a huge piece of machinery which seemed to be the valves and piston of a hydraulic pump projected itself, all rusted, from a clump of furze.
'That's Challenger's doing,' said Malone, grinning.
'Said it was one-tenth of an inch out of estimate, so he simply chucked it by the wayside.'
'With a lawsuit to follow, no doubt.'
'A lawsuit! My dear chap, we should have a court of our own. We have enough to keep a judge busy for a year. Government too. The old devil cares for no one. Rex v. George Challenger and George Challenger v. Rex. A nice devil's dance the two will have from one court to another. Well, here we are. All right, Jenkins, you can let us in!'
A huge man with a notable cauliflower ear was peering into the car, a scowl of suspicion upon his face. He relaxed and saluted as he recognized my companion.
'All right, Mr. Malone. I thought it was the American Associated Press.'
'Oh, they are on the track, are they?'
'They to-day, and The Times yesterday. Oh, they are buzzing round proper. Look at that!' He indicated a distant dot upon the sky-line.
'See that glint ! That's the telescope of the Chicago Daily News. Yes, they are fair after us now. I've seen 'em in rows, same as the crows, along the Beacon yonder.'
'Poor old Press gang!' said Malone, as we entered a gate in a formidable barbed wire fence. 'I am one of them myself, and I know how it feels.
At this moment we heard a plaintive bleat behind us of 'Malone! Ted Malone!' It came from a fat little man who had just arrived upon a motor-bike and was at present struggling in the Herculean grasp of the gatekeeper.
'Here, let me go!' he sputtered. 'Keep your hands off! Malone, call off this gorilla of yours.'
'Let him go, Jenkins! He's a friend of mine!' cried Malone. 'Well, old bean, what is it? What are you after in these parts? Fleet Street is your stamping ground--not the wilds of Sussex.'
'You know what I am after perfectly well,' said our visitor. 'I've got the assignment to write a story about Hengist Down and I can't go home without the copy.'
'Sorry, Roy, but you can't get anything here.