Page:The Strand Magazine (Volume 70).djvu/22

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4

The Land of Mist

it by feeling out for a career of her own. She did occasional odd jobs for the London Press, and did them in such fashion that her name was beginning to be known in Fleet Street. In finding this opening she had been greatly helped by an old friend of her father—and possibly of the reader— Mr. Edward Malone of The Daily Gazette.

Malone was still the same athletic Irishman who had once won his International cap at Rugby, but life had toned him down also and made him a more subdued and thoughtful man. He had put away a good deal when last his football boots had been packed away for good. His muscles may have wilted and his joints stiffened, but his mind was deeper and more active. The boy was dead and the man was born. In person he had altered little, but his moustache was heavier, his back a little rounded, and some lines of thought were tracing themselves upon his brow. Post war conditions and new world problems had left their mark, For the rest he had made his name in journalism and even to a small degree in literature. He was still a bachelor, though there were some who thought that his hold on that condition was precarious, and that Miss Enid Challenger’s little white fingers could disengage it. Certainly they were very good chums.

It was a Sunday evening in October, and the lights were just beginning to twinkle out through the fog which had shrouded London from early morning. Professor Challenger’s flat at Victeria West Gardens was upon the third floor, and the mist lay thick upon the windows, while the low hum of the attenuated Sunday traffic rose up from an invisible highway beneath, which was outlined only by scattered patches of dull radiance. Professor Challenger sat with his thick, bandy legs outstretched to the fire, and his hands thrust deeply into his trouser pockets. His dress had a little of the eccentricity of genius, for he wore a loose-collared shirt, a large knotted maroon-coloured silk tie, and a black velvet smoking- jacket, which, with his flowing beard, gave him the appearance of an elderly and Bohemian artist. On one side of him, ready for an excursion, with bowl hat, short-skirted dress of black, and all the other fashionable devices with which women contrive to deform the beauties of Nature, there sat his daughter, while Malone, hat in hand, waited by the window.

“I think we should get off, Enid. It is nearly seven,” said he.

They were writing joint articles upon the religious denominations of Londen, and on each Sunday evening they sallied out together to sample some new one and