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Sportsmen's Reveries

From: A Journey In Other Worlds

Feeling grateful to the huge tortoise for the good service he had
rendered, they shot a number of the great snakes that were
gliding about on the ground, and placed them where he would find
them on awaiting. They then picked their way carefully towards
stretches on which the grass was shortest. When they had gone
about two miles, and had already reached higher ground, they came
to a ridge of rock running at right angles to their course. This
they climbed, and on looking over the edge of the crest beheld a
sight that made their hearts stand still. A monster, somewhat
resembling an alligator, except that the back was arched, was
waddling about perhaps seventy- five yards from them. It was
sixty feet long, and to the top of its scales was at least
twenty-five feet high. It was constantly moving, and the
travellers noticed with some dismay that its motion was far more
rapid than they would have supposed it could be.

"It is also a dinosaur," said the professor, watching it sharply,
"and very closely resembles the Stegosaurus ungulatus restored in
the museums. The question is, What shall we do with the living
specimen, now that we have it?"

"Our chairman," said Ayrault, "must find a way to kill it, so
that we may examine it closely."

"The trouble is," said Bearwarden, "our bullets will explode
before they penetrate the scales. In the absence of any way of
making a passage for an explosive ball by means of a solid one,
we must strike a vital spot. His scales being no harder than the
trunk of a tree, we can wound him terribly by touching him
anywhere; but there is no object in doing this unless we can kill
him, especially as there is no deep stream, such as would have
delayed the mastodon in reaching us, to protect us here. We must
spread out so as to divert his attention from one to another."

After some consultation it was decided that Cortlandt, who had
only a shot-gun, should remain where they were, while Bearwarden
and Ayrault moved some distance to the right and left. At a
signal from Cortlandt, who was to attract the monster's
attention, the wings were to advance simultaneously. These
arrangements they carried out to the letter. When Bearwarden and
Ayrault had gone about twenty-five yards on either side, the
doctor imitated the peculiar grunting sound of an alligator, at
which the colossal monster turned and faced him, while Bearwarden
and Ayrault moved to the attack. The plan of this was good, for,
with his attention fixed on three objects, the dinosaur seemed
confused, and though Bearwarden and Ayrault had good angles from
which to shoot, there was no possibility of their hitting each
other. They therefore advanced steadily with their rifles half
up. Though their own danger increased with each step, in the
event of their missing, the chance of their shooting wild
decreased, the idea being to reach the brain through the eye.
Cortlandt's part had also its risks, for, being entirely
defenceless with his shot-gun against the large creature, whose
attention it was his duty to attract, he staked all on the
marksmanship of his friends. Not considering this, however, he
stood his ground, having the thumb-piece on his Winchester
magazine shoved up and ready to make a noisy diversion if
necessary in behalf of either wing. Having aroused the monster's
curiosity, Cortlandt sprang up, waving his arms and his gun. The
dinosaur lowered his head as if to charge, thereby bringing it to
a level with the rifles, either of which could have given it the
fatal shot. But as their fingers pressed the triggers the
reptile soared up thirty feet in the air. Ayrault pulled for his
first sight, shooting through the lower jaw, and shivering that
member, while Bearwarden changed his aim and sighted straight for
the heart. In an instant the monster was down again, just
missing Ayrault's head as he stepped back, and Bearwarden's rifle
poured a stream of explosive balls against its side, rending and
blowing away the heavy scales. Having drawn the dinosaur's
attention to himself, he retreated, while Ayrault renewed the
attack. Cortlandt, seeing that the original plan had miscarried,
poured showers of small shot against the huge beast's face.
Finally, one of Ayrault's balls exploded in the brain, and all
was over.

"We have killed it at last," said Bearwarden "but the first
attack, though artistic, had not the brilliant results we
expected. These creatures' mode of fighting is doubtless
somewhat similar to that of the kangaroo, which it is said puts
its forepaws gently, almost lovingly, on a man's shoulders, and
then disembowels him by the rapid movement of a hind leg. But we
shall get used to their method, and can do better next time."

They then reloaded their weapons and, while Cortlandt examined
their victim from a naturalist's point of view, Bearwarden and
Ayrault secured the heart, which they thought would be the most
edible part, the operation being rendered possible by the amount
of armour the explosive balls had stripped off.

"To-morrow," said Bearwarden, "we must make it a point to get
some well-fed birds; for I can roast, broil, or fricassee them to
a turn. Life is too short to live on this meat in such a
sportsman's paradise. In any case there can be no end of
mastodons, mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses, moa birds, and all such

As the sun was already near the horizon, they chose a dry, sandy
place, to secure as much immunity as possible from nocturnal
visits, and, after procuring a supply of water from a pool,
proceeded to arrange their camp for the night. They first laid
out the protection- wires, setting them while the sun still
shone. Next they built a fire and prepared their evening meal.
While they ate it, twilight became night, and the fire-flies,
twinkling in legions in the neighbouring valley, seemed like the
lamps of a great city.

"Their lights," said Bearwarden, pointing to them, "are not as
fine as the jelly-fish Will-o'-the wisps were last night, but
they are not so dangerous. No gymnotus or electric eel that I
have ever seen compared with them, and I am convinced that any
one of us they might have touched would have been in kingdom

The balmy air soothed the travellers' brows as they reclined
against mounds of sand, while the flowers in the valley sent up
their dying notes. One by one the moons arose, till four--among
them the Lilliputian, discovered by Prof. Barnard in 1893--were
in the sky, flooding the landscape with their silvery light, and
something in the surroundings touched a sympathetic cord in the

"Oh that I were young again," said Cortlandt, "and had life
before me! I should like to remain here and grow up with this
planet, in which we already perceive the next New World. The
beauties of earth are barren compared with the scenes we have

"You remember," replied Bearwarden, "how Cicero defends old age
in his De Senectute, and shows that while it has almost
everything that youth has, it has also a sense of calm and many
things besides."

"Yes," answered Cortlandt, "but, while plausible, it does not
convince. The pleasures of age are largely negative, the old
being happy when free from pain."

"Since the highest joy of life," said Ayrault, "is coming to know
our Creator, I should say the old, being further advanced, would
be the happier of the two. I should never regard this material
life as greatly to be prized for itself. You remember the old
"'O Youth! When we come to consider
The pain, the toil, and the strife,
The happiest man of all is
The one who has finished his life.'

"I suspect," continued Ayrault, "that the man who reaches even
the lowest plane in paradise will find far more beautiful visions
than any we have here."

As they had but little rest the night before, they were all
tired. The warm breeze swayed the long dry grass, causing it to
give out a soft rustle; all birds except the flitting bats were
asleep among the tall ferns or on the great trees that spread
their branches towards heaven. There was nothing to recall a
picture of the huge monsters they had seen that day, or of the
still more to be dreaded terror these had borne witness to. Thus
night closes the activities of the day, and in its serene
grandeur the soul has time to think. While they thought,
however, drowsiness overcame them, and in a little while all were

The double line of protection-wires encircled them like a silent
guard, while the methodical ticking of the alarm-clock that was
to wake them at the approach of danger, and register the hour of
interruption, formed a curious contrast to the irregular cries of
the night-hawks in the distance. Time and again some huge
iguanodon or a hipsohopus would pass, shaking the ground with its
tread; but so implicit was the travellers' trust in the vigilance
of their mechanical and tireless watch, that they slept on as
calmly and unconcernedly as though they had been in their beds at
home, while the tick was as constant and regular as a sentry's
march. The wires of course did not protect them from creatures
having wings, and they ran some risk of a visitation from the
blood-sucking bats. The far-away volcanoes occasionally sent up
sheets of flame, which in the distance were like summer
lightning; the torrents of lava and crashes that had sounded so
thunderous when near, were now like the murmur of the ocean's ebb
tide, lulling the terrestrials to deeper sleep. The pale moons
were at intervals momentarily obscured by the rushing clouds in
the upper air, only to reappear soon afterwards as serene as
before. All Nature seemed at rest.

Shortly before dawn there was an unusually heavy step. A moment
later the ever-vigilant batteries poured forth their current, and
the clang of the alarm-bell made the still night ring. In an
instant the three men were awake, each resting on one knee, with
their backs towards the centre and their polished barrels raised.
It was not long before they perceived the intruder by the
moonlight. A huge monster of the Triceratops prorsus species had
entered the camp. It was shaped something like an elephant, but
had ten or twelve times the bulk, being over forty feet in
length, not including the long, thick tail. The head carried two
huge horns on the forehead and one on the nose.

"A plague on my shot-gun!" said Cortlandt. "Had I known how much
of this kind of game we should see, I too should have brought a

The monster was entangled in the wires, and in another second
would have stepped on the batteries that were still causing the
bell to ring.

"Aim for the heart," said Bearwarden to Ayrault. "When you show
me his ribs, I will follow you in the hole."

Ayrault instantly fired for a point just back of the left
foreleg. The explosion had the same effect as on the mastodon,
removing a half-barrel of hide, etc; and the next second
Bearwarden sent a bullet less than an inch from where Ayrault's
had stopped. Before the colossus could turn, each had caused
several explosions in close proximity to the first. The creature
was of course terribly wounded, and several ribs were cracked,
but no ball had gone through. With a roar it made straight for
the woods, and with surprising agility, running fully as fast as
an elephant. Bearwarden and Ayrault kept up a rapid fire at the
left hind leg, and soon completely disabled it. The dinosaur,
however, supported itself with its huge tail, and continued to
make good time. Knowing they could not give it a fatal wound at
the intervening distance, in the uncertain light, they stopped
firing and set out in pursuit. Cortlandt paused to stop the bell
that still rang, and then put his best foot foremost in regaining
his friends. For half a mile they hurried along, until, seeing
by the quantity of blood on the ground that they were in no
danger of losing the game, they determined to save their
strength. The trail entered the woods by a narrow ravine, passed
through what proved to be but a belt of timber, and then turned
north to the right. Presently in the semi-darkness they saw the
monster's head against the sky. He was browsing among the trees,
tearing off the young branches, and the hunters succeeded in
getting within seventy-five yards before being discovered. Just
as he began to run, the two rifles again fired, this time at the
right hind leg, which they succeeded in hamstringing. After that
the Triceratops prorsus was at their mercy, and they quickly put
an end to its suffering.

"The sun is about to rise," said Bearwarden; "in a few minutes we
shall have enough light."

They cut out a dozen thick slices of tenderloin steak, and soon
were broiling and eating a substantial breakfast.

"There are not as many spectators to watch us eat here," said
Cortlandt, "as in the woods. I suggest that, after returning to
camp for our blankets and things, we steer for the Callisto, via
this Triceratops, to see what creatures have been attracted by
the body."

On finishing their meal they returned to the place at which they
had passed the night. Having straightened the protection-wires,
which had become twisted, and arranged their impedimenta, they
set out, and were soon once more beside their latest victim.

Next: The Honey Of Death

Previous: An Unseen Hunter

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