THE PROFESSOR'S GREAT ANTICIPATIONS.





A stretch and a yawn, which in Waldo's case ended in a prolonged

howl, which would not have disgraced either of their four-footed

visitors of the past evening, then the brothers Gillespie sprung

forth from the flying-machine, entering upon a race for the

brawling mountain stream, "shedding" their garments as they ran.



"First man in!" cried Bruno, whose clothes seemed to slip off the

more readily; but Waldo was not to be outdone so easily, and,

reckless of the consequences, he plunged into the eddying pool,

with fully half of his daylight rig still in place.



The water proved to be considerably deeper than either brother

had anticipated, and Waldo vanished from sight for a few seconds,

then reappearing with lusty puff and splutter, shaking the pearly

drops from his close-clipped curls, while ranting:



"Another vile fabrication nailed to the standard of truth, and

clinched by the hammer of--ouch!"



A wild flounder, then the youngster fairly doubled himself up,

acting so strangely that Bruno gave a little cry of alarm; but

ere the elder brother could take further action, Waldo swung his

right arm upward and outward, sending a goodly sized trout

flashing through the air to the shore, crying in boyish

enthusiasm:



"Glory in great chunks! I want to camp right here for a year to

come! Will ye look at that now?"



Bruno had to dodge that writhing missile, and, before he could

fairly recover himself, Waldo had floundered ashore, leaving a

yeasty turmoil in his wake, but then throwing up a dripping hand,

and speaking in an exaggerated whisper:



"Whist, boy! On your life, not so much as the ghost of a

whimper! The hole's ramjammed chuck full of trout, and we'll

have a meal fit for the gods if--where's my fishing tackle?"



Bruno picked up the trout, so queerly brought to light, really

surprised, but feigning still further, as he made his

examination.



"It really IS a trout, and--how long have you carried this about

in your clothes, Waldo Gillespie?"



"Not long enough for you to build a decent joke over it, brother

mine. Just happened so. Tried to ram its nose in one of my

pockets, and of course I had to take him in out of the wet.

Pool's just full of them, too, and I wouldn't wonder if--oh, quit

your talking, and do something, can't you, boy?"



Vigorously though he spoke, Waldo wound up with a shiver and

sharp chatter of teeth as the fresh morning air struck through

his dripping garments. He gave a coltish prance, as he turned to

seek his fishing tackle; but, unfortunately for his hopes of

speedy sport, the professor was nigh enough to both see and hear,

and at once took charge of the reckless youngster.



"Wet to the hide, and upon an empty stomach, too! You foolish

child! Come, strip to the buff, and put on some of these

garments until--here by the fire, Waldo."



And thus taken in tow, the lad was forced to slowly but

thoroughly toast his person beside the freshly started fire,

ruefully watching his brother deftly handle rod and line, in a

remarkably short space of time killing trout enough to furnish

all with a bounteous meal.



"And I was the discoverer, while you reap all the credit, have

all the fun!" dolefully lamented Waldo, when the catch was

displayed with an ostentation which may have covered just a tiny

bit of malice. "I'll put a tin ear on you, Amerigo Vespucius!"



"All right; we'll have a merry go together, after you've cleaned

the trout for cooking, lad," laughed his elder.



Waldo gazed reproachfully into that bright face for a brief

space, then bowed head in joined hands, to sob in heartfelt

fashion, his sturdy frame shaking with poorly suppressed

grief--or mirth?



Bruno passed an arm caressingly over those shoulders, murmuring

words of comfort, earnestly promising to never sin again in like

manner, provided he could find forgiveness now. And then, with

deft touch, that same hand held his garment far enough for its

mate to let slip a wriggling trout adown his brother's back.



Waldo howled and jumped wildly, as the cold morsel slipped along

his spine, and ducking out of reach, the elder jester called

back:



"Land him, boy, and you've caught another fish!"



Although laughing heartily himself, Professor Featherwit deemed

it a part of wisdom to interfere now, and, ere long, matters

quieted down, all hands engaged in preparing the morning meal,

for which all teeth were now fairly on edge.



If good nature had been at all disturbed, long before that

breakfast was despatched it was fully restored, and of the trio,

Waldo appeared to be the most enthusiastic over present

prospects.



"Why, just think of it, will you?" he declaimed, as well as might

be with mouth full of crisply fried mountain trout. "where the

game comes begging for you to bowl it over, and the very fish try

to jump into your pockets--"



"Or down your back, Amerigo," interjected Bruno, with a grin.



"Button up, or you'll turn to be a Sorry-cus--tomer, old man,"

came the swift retort, with a portentous frown. "But, joking

aside, why not? With such hunting and fishing, I'd be willing to

sign a contract for a round year in this region."



"To say nothing of exploration, and such discoveries as naturally

attend upon--"



"Then you really mean it all, uncle Phaeton?"



Leaning back far enough to pluck a handful of green leaves, which

fairly well served the purpose of a napkin, Professor Featherwit

brought forth pipe and pouch, maintaining silence until the

fragrant tobacco was well alight. Then he gave a vigorous nod of

his head, to utter:



"It has been the dearest dream of my life for more years gone by

than you would readily credit, my lads; or, in fact, than I would

be wholly willing to confess. And it was with an eye single to

this very adventure that I laboured to devise and perfect yonder

machine."



"A marvel in itself, uncle Phaeton. Only for that, where would

we have been, yesterday?" seriously spoke the elder Gillespie.



"I know where we wouldn't have been: inside that blessed

cy-nado!"



"Nor here, where you can catch brook trout in your clothes

without the trouble of taking them off, youngster."



"And where you'll catch a precious hiding, without you let up

harping on that old string; it's way out of tune already, old

man,"



"Tit for tat. Excuse us, please, uncle Phaeton. We're like

colts in fresh pasture, this morning," brightly apologised Bruno,

for both.



Apparently the professor paid no attention to that bit of

sparring between his nephews, staring into the glowing camp-fire

with eyes which surely saw more than yellow coals or ruddy flames

could picture; eyes which burned and sparkled with all the fires

of distant youth.



"The dearest dream of all my life!" he repeated, in half dreamy

tones, only to rouse himself, with a a start and shoulder shake,

an instant later, forcing a bright smile as he glanced from face

to face. "And why not? How better could my last years be

employed than in piercing the clouds of mystery, and doubt, and

superstition, with which this vast tract has been enveloped for

uncounted ages?"



"Is it really so unknown, then, uncle Phaeton?" hesitatingly

asked Bruno, touched, in spite of himself, by that intensely

earnest tone and expression. "Of course, I know what the Indians

say; they are full of a rude sort of superstitious awe, which--"



"Which is one of the surest proofs that truth forms a foundation

for that very superstition," quickly interjected the professor.

"It is an undisputed fact that there are hundreds upon hundreds

of square miles of terra incognita, lying in this corner of

Washington Territory. No white man ever fairly penetrated these

wilds, even so far as we may have been carried while riding the

tornado. Or, if so, he assuredly has never returned, or made

known his discoveries."



"Provided there was anything beyond the ordinary to see or

experience, shouldn't we add, uncle?" suggested Waldo, modestly.



"There is,--there must be! No matter how wildly improbable their

traditions may seem in our judgment, it only takes calm

investigation to bring a fair foundation to light. In regard to

this vast scope of country, go where you will among the natives,

question whom you see fit, as to its secrets, and you will meet

with the same results: a deep-seated awe, a belief which cannot

be shaken, that here strange monsters breed and flourish, matched

in magnitude and power by an armed race of human beings, before

whose awful might other tribes are but as ants in the pathway of

an elephant."



Waldo let escape a low, prolonged whistle of mingled wonder and

incredulity, but Bruno gave him a covert kick, himself too deeply

interested to bear with a careless interruption just then.



"Of course there may be something of exaggeration in all this,"

admitted the enthusiastic professor. "Undoubtedly, there is at

least a fair spice of that; but, even so, enough remains to both

waken and hold our keenest interest. Listen, and take heed, my

good lads.



"You have often enough, of late days, noticed these mountains,

and if you remark their altitude, the vast scope of country they

dominate, the position they fill, you must likewise realise one

other fact: that an immense quantity of snow in winter, rain in

spring and autumn, surely must fall throughout the Olympics.

Understand?"



"Certainly; why not, uncle Phaeton?"



"Then tell me this: where does all the moisture go to? What

becomes of the surplus waters? For it is an acknowledged fact

that, though rivers and brooks surely exist in the Olympics, not

one of either flows away from this wide tract of country!"



The professor paused for a minute, to let his words take full

effect, then even more positively proceeded:



"You may say, what I have had others offer by way of solution,

that all is drained into a mighty inland sea or enormous lake.

Granting so much, which I really believe to be the truth as far

as it goes, why does that lake never overflow? Of all that

surely must drain into its basin, be that enormously wide and

deep as it may, how much could ordinary evaporation dispose of?

Only an infinitesimal portion; scarcely worth mentioning in such

connection. Then,--what becomes of the surplusage?"



Another pause, during which neither Gillespie ventured a

solution; then the professor offered his own suggestion:



"It must flow off in some manner, and what other manner can that

be than--through a subterranean connection with the Pacific

Ocean?"



Bruno gave a short ejaculation at this, while Waldo broke forth

in words, after his own particular fashion:



"Jules Verne redivivus! Why can't WE take a trip through the

centre of the earth, or--or--any other little old thing like

that?"



"With the tank of compressed air as a life-preserver?" laughed

Bruno, in turn. "That might serve, but; unfortunately, we have

only the one, and we are three in number, boy."



"Only two, now; I'm squelched!" sighed the jester, faintly.



If the professor heard, he heeded not. Still staring with vacant

gaze into the fire, his face bearing a rapt expression curious to

see, he broke into almost unconscious speech:



"An enormous inland sea! Where float the mighty ichthyosaurus,

the megalosaurus, in company with the gigantic plesiosaurus! Upon

whose sloping shores disport the enormous mastodon, the

stately megatherium, the tremendous--eh?"



For Waldo was now afoot, brandishing a great branch broken from a

dead tree, uttering valiant war-whoops, and dealing tremendous

blows upon an imaginary enemy, spouting at the top of his voice a

frenzied jargon, which neither his auditors nor himself could

possibly make sense out of.



Bruno, ever sensitive through his affectionate reverence for

their uncle, caught the youngster, and cast him to earth,

whereupon Waldo pantingly cried:



"Go on, please, uncle Phaeton. It's next thing to a museum and

menagerie combined, just to hear--"



"Will you hush, boy?" demanded Bruno, yet unable to wholly

smother a laugh, so ridiculous did it all sound and seem.



But Professor Featherwit declined, his foxy face wrinkling in a

bashful laugh. Whether so intended or not, he had been brought

down to earth from that dizzy flight, and now was fairly himself

again.



"Well, my dear boys, I dare say it seems all a matter of jest and

sport to you; yet, after our riding in the centre of a tornado

for uncounted miles, coming forth with hardly a scratch or a

bruise to show for it all, who dare say such things may not be,

even yet?"



"But,--those strange creatures are gone; the last one perished

thousands upon thousands of years ago, uncle Phaeton."



"So it is said, and so follows the almost universal belief. Yet

I have seen, felt, cooked, tasted, and ate to its last morsel a

steak from a mammoth. True, the creature was dead; had been

preserved for ages, no doubt, within the glacier which finally

cast it forth to human view; yet who would have credited such a

discovery, only fifty years ago? He who dared to even hint at

such a thing would have been derided and laughed at, pronounced

either fool or lunatic. And so,--if we should happen to discover

one or all of those supposedly extinct creatures here in this

terra incognita, I would be overjoyed rather than astounded."



Bruno looked grave at this conclusion, but Waldo was not so

readily impressed, and, with shrugging shoulders, he made answer:



"Well, uncle, I'm not quite so ambitious as all that comes to.

May I give you my idea of it all?"





THE PROFESSOR AND THE AZTEC. THE PROFESSOR'S LITTLE EXPERIMENT. facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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