A Great Discovery
It was the most extraordinary scientific discovery of the age but Professor Edmund McMillan wasn’t about to let that dishevelled, dishonest, disgraced excuse of a scientist, Dr. Hamish Nicholas get his grubby little hands on it. Quite apart from trusting Hamish about as far as he could comfortably throw him, Edmund was a man of little patience and he preferred to keep his discoveries closely guarded. It had annoyed him immensely that the University had ordered him to take Hamish on this expedition.
‘You have got to be joking!’
Yet here they were, stranded together on a nameless island and supplies had begun to run dangerously short. Cantankerous at the best of times, a lack of food and water made Edmund positively obstreperous. That afternoon, leaving Hamish asleep inside his tenth, Edmund had decided to venture across the harrowing South Western side of the island. It was there that Edmund made his remarkable discovery.
I stared in wonderment at the incredible sight that greeted me. I couldn’t believe my own eyes for I knew that what I saw couldn’t possibly be the truth. As a scientist the burden of proof rested solely on my shoulders and there was no way that anybody back home would ever believe me had I confided in them. I resolved hereupon never to breathe a word as long as I lived. My reputation would be reduced to tatters and I’d be lucky if I ever received formal employment in the field again. No, the risk was too great.
– Professor Edmund McMillan, 21st April 1864
It was almost teatime when Edmund eventually dragged himself back to the campsite whereupon he was confronted by an apoplectic Hamish.
‘Where on God’s earth have you been, man?’
‘Carrying out my expedition,’ replied Edmund, irritably. ‘I see you have done nothing but use our supplies all day.’ He cast a contemptuous look at the crumbs that still clung on to Hamish’ bushy moustache.
‘I have been calling for you!’ Globules of spittle sprayed from Hamish’ mouth as he continued to rage and it amused Edmund to note that his normally pale face had turned a shade of beetroot. ‘I searched everywhere!’
‘Obviously you have proved just about as adept at that as you are at carrying out your own research.’ The remark cut Hamish deeply and the rest of the evening passed by in a strained silence. Whilst Hamish retired to bed early, Edmund stayed beside the fading embers of their campfire and scribbled a fresh entry in his diary.
I know now that Hamish cannot be trusted. He is far too volatile and would likely blab any secrets he may hear. I must therefore keep him away from my discovery inasmuch as it is possible to do so. Tomorrow we make for the Northern coast, although I do not expect to find anything of any esteemed significance. We shall have to move fast, however as I estimate that we have little more than a week left to us before we must depart. I hope he will prove himself otherwise I fear the journey will be a long one.
– Professor Edmund McMillan, 21st April 1864.