The first place we tried for, the much-needed funding, was the National Linnaean Society's headquarters at 1145 Seventeenth Street, in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the soonest we could get an appointment with the society's treasurer (Mr. Gilbert Alexander Gouverneur III) was October 31st, 1980!
I still don't know whether to regard that as "treat" or "trick."
On the brighter side, though, that did give Professor Stewart and I an opportunity to browse through Cookie Gunderson's personal journal. And, as might be expected, most of the opening entries were autobiographical trivia. It was when we reached the late spring/early summer of 1900 that we slowed down enough to read in depth.
Cookie reported how he, Professor Scott, and a Cape Malay cabin boy--from South Africa--had gone into the uncharted island's hilly interior armed with lever-action Winchester rifles. Partly, to defend themselves (in case of cannibalistic natives). And, partly, in the hope of encountering feral pigs descended from domestic ones left behind by any previous visitors! All the trio found, however, was a grove of coconut trees, covered with air potato vines...
...and crawling with robber crabs.*
"I can't stand lookin' at those things," he wrote down: "They always look like big blue spiders with lobster claws! Fortunately, for us, Ali's pet crab-eatin' macaque proved equal to the task of helpin' us bag some. Looks like ginataang alimasag for supper, tonight!"
After that, the diary entries were like a mirror image of the 1901 NATIONAL LINNAEAN article we had read on microfilm. With one major exception, though.
Cookie managed to work out the position of the island!
I looked at Professor Stewart as we each memorized the co-ordinates.
"You know he's not going to believe this, at first."
The professor nodded, adding: "We'll let him read the diary for himself. Surely, a man in his position can have it independently verified as genuine!"
We finished our perusal by reading about a strange dream Cookie had, his first night after inadvertently getting stung by the lion's mane subspecies now bearing his name.
"I dreamt I was walkin' back up the jungle trail that me, Ali, and Scott had followed, earlier in the day. Only this time, I was alone. It was a full moonlit night. And, my game leg wasn't givin' me any problems!"
"When I got to the coconut palms, I didn't stop. Just the opposite. I was guided further up the jungle trail, beyond it, by one of the very robber crabs we'd had for supper!! And, we kept goin' up...till we reached the base of the volcano."
"There was a big cave, at the base. Or, rather, a cave with a mouth as big as a California redwood! And, the crab I was a-followin' entered that mouth without the slightest hesitation. But, me? I became rooted to the ground about six feet shy of it. And, that's when it happened."
"This dusky beauty emerged from the cave. Her head just barely not havin' to duck beneath the ceiling of it!"
"It's true! This woman was wearin' a Polynesian-style sarong. Red with white flowers on it, stoppin' just above her knees. And, with raven-black hair that fell just past her chest. She acted kind of hurt, though. Her right arm restin' across her stomach, while her left hand kept her propped up."
" 'Hello, Olaf,' she said (usin' my real name with a smile): 'I am sorry I couldn't greet you in person, earlier this afternoon. But, the last time I had visitors, one of them accosted me with a deadly magical weapon! And, I've been slowly regenerating, ever since.' "
"Needless to say, I was confused."
" 'You mean, the Bella Bella ain't the first ship to drop anchor, here?' "
"She shook her head. Addin' further that very few of those other ships had ever left!"
" 'That is why you should consider yourself lucky', she finished: 'Because, otherwise, I would have dined on you and your shipmates, the same way you dined on my little pets! And that, in turn, is why you should warn anyone else who voyages in these waters to stay away from here. Forever!' "
"And, with that, I woke up."
Crab-eating macaque: an aquatic species of monkey (Macaca fascicularis) found on islands all over the Indo-Pacific.
Ginataang alimasag: a Filipino dish consisting of crab legs cooked in coconut milk.