Sportsmen's Reveries


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 ang
es 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.