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In Search of the Unknown   By: (1865-1933)

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Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation matches the original document. A number of obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text. For a complete list, please see the bottom of this document.

[Illustration: SHE STARTED TOWARD THE DOOR]

IN SEARCH OF THE UNKNOWN

BY ROBERT W. CHAMBERS

AUTHOR OF "THE MAIDS OF PARADISE" "THE MAID AT ARMS" "CARDIGAN" "THE CONSPIRATORS" ETC.

NEW YORK AND LONDON HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 1904

Copyright, 1904, by ROBERT W. CHAMBERS.

All rights reserved. Published June, 1904.

TO MY FRIEND E. LE GRAND BEERS

MY DEAR LE GRAND, You and I were early drawn together by a common love of nature. Your researches into the natural history of the tree toad, your observations upon the mud turtles of Providence Township, your experiments with the fresh water lobster, all stimulated my enthusiasm in a scientific direction, which has crystallized in this helpful little book, dedicated to you.

Pray accept it as an insignificant payment on account for all I owe to you.

THE AUTHOR.

PREFACE

It appears to the writer that there is urgent need of more "nature books" books that are scraped clear of fiction and which display only the carefully articulated skeleton of fact. Hence this little volume, presented with some hesitation and more modesty. Various chapters have, at intervals, appeared in the pages of various publications. The continued narrative is now published for the first time; and the writer trusts that it may inspire enthusiasm for natural and scientific research, and inculcate a passion for accurate observation among the young.

THE AUTHOR.

April 1, 1904.

Where the slanting forest eaves, Shingled tight with greenest leaves, Sweep the scented meadow sedge, Let us snoop along the edge; Let us pry in hidden nooks, Laden with our nature books, Scaring birds with happy cries, Chloroforming butterflies, Rooting up each woodland plant, Pinning beetle, fly, and ant, So we may identify What we've ruined, by and by.

IN SEARCH OF THE UNKNOWN

I

Because it all seems so improbable so horribly impossible to me now, sitting here safe and sane in my own library I hesitate to record an episode which already appears to me less horrible than grotesque. Yet, unless this story is written now, I know I shall never have the courage to tell the truth about the matter not from fear of ridicule, but because I myself shall soon cease to credit what I now know to be true. Yet scarcely a month has elapsed since I heard the stealthy purring of what I believed to be the shoaling undertow scarcely a month ago, with my own eyes, I saw that which, even now, I am beginning to believe never existed. As for the harbor master and the blow I am now striking at the old order of things But of that I shall not speak now, or later; I shall try to tell the story simply and truthfully, and let my friends testify as to my probity and the publishers of this book corroborate them.

On the 29th of February I resigned my position under the government and left Washington to accept an offer from Professor Farrago whose name he kindly permits me to use and on the first day of April I entered upon my new and congenial duties as general superintendent of the water fowl department connected with the Zoological Gardens then in course of erection at Bronx Park, New York... Continue reading book >>




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