Before going to bed that evening they decided to be up early the next day, to study Jupiter, which was already a brilliant object.
The following morning, on awakening, they went at once to their observatory, and found that Jupiter's disk was plainly visible to the naked eye, and before night it seemed as large as the full moon.
They then prepared to check the Callisto's headlong speed, which Jupiter's attraction was beginning to increase. When about two million miles from the great planet, which was considerably on their left, they espied Callisto ahead and slightly on their right, as Deepwaters had calculated it would be. Applying a mild repulsion to this—which was itself quite a world, with its diameter of over three thousand miles, though evidently as cold and dead as the earth's old moon—they retarded their forward rush, knowing that the resulting motion towards Jupiter would be helped by the giant's pull. Wishing to be in good condition for their landing, they divided the remainder of the night into watches, two going to sleep at a time, the man on duty standing by to control the course and to get photographic negatives, on which, when they were developed, they found two crescent-shaped continents, a speckled region, and a number of islands. By 7 A. M., according to Eastern standard time, they were but fifty thousand miles from Jupiter's surface, the gigantic globe filling nearly one side of the sky. In preparation for a sally, they got their guns and accoutrements ready, and then gave a parting glance at the car. Their charge of electricity for developing the repulsion seemed scarcely touched, and they had still an abundant supply of oxygen and provisions. The barometer registered twenty-nine inches, showing that they had not lost much air in the numerous openings of the vestibule. The pressure was about what would be found at an altitude of a few hundred feet, part of the rarefaction being no doubt due to the fact that they did not close the windows until at a considerable height above Van Cortlandt Park.
They saw they should alight in a longitude on which the sun had just risen, the rocky tops of the great mountains shining like helmets in its rays. Soon they felt a sharp checking of their forward motion, and saw, from the changed appearance of the stars and the sun, that they had entered the atmosphere of their new home.
Not even did Columbus, standing at the prow of the Santa Maria, with the New World before him, feel the exultation and delight experienced by these latter-day explorers of the twenty-first century. Their first adventures on landing the reader already knows.
EXPLORATION AND EXCITEMENT.
When they awoke, the flowers were singing with the volume of a cathedral organ, the chant rising from all around them, and the sun was already above the horizon. Finding a deep natural spring, in which the water was at about blood-heat, they prepared for breakfast by taking a bath, and then found they had brought nothing to eat.
"It was stupid of us not to think of it," said Bearwarden, "yet it will be too much out of our way to return to the Callisto."
"We have two rifles and a gun," said Ayrault, "and have also plenty of water, and wood for a fire. All we need is game."
"The old excuse, that it has been already shot out, cannot hold here," said Cortlandt.
"Seeing that we have neither wings nor pneumatic legs, and not knowing the advantage given us by our rifles," added Bearwarden, "it should not be shy either. So far," he continued, "we have seen nothing edible, though just now we should not be too particular; but near a spring like this that kind must exist."
"The question is," said the professor, "whether the game like warm water. If we can follow this stream till it has been on the surface for some time, or till it spreads out, we shall doubtless find a huntsman's paradise."
"A bright idea," said Bearwarden. "Let's have our guns ready, and, as old Deepwaters would say, keep our weather eye open."
The stream flowed off in a southeasterly direction, so that by following it they went towards the volcanoes.
"It is hard to realize," said the professor, "that those mountains must be several hundred miles away, for the reason that they are almost entirely above the horizon. This apparent flatness and wide range of vision is of course the result of Jupiter's vast size. With sufficiently keen sight, or aided by a good glass, there is no reason why one should not see at least five hundred miles, with but a slight elevation."
"It is surprising," said Ayrault, "that in what is evidently Jupiter's Carboniferous period the atmosphere should be so clear. Our idea has been that at that time on earth the air was heavy and dense."
"So it was, and doubtless is here," replied Cortlandt; "but you must remember that both those qualities would be given it by carbonic-acid gas, which is entirely invisible and transparent. No gas that would be likely to remain in the air would interfere with sight; water vapour is the only thing that could; and though the crust of this planet, even near the surface, is still hot, the sun being so distant, the vapour would not be, raised much. By avoiding low places near hot springs, we shall doubtless have very nearly as clear an atmosphere as on earth. What does surprise me is the ease with which we breathe. I can account for it only by supposing that, the Carboniferous period being already well advanced, most of the carbonic acid is already locked up in the forests or in Jupiter's coal-beds."
"How," asked Bearwarden, "do you account for the 'great red spot' that appeared here in 1878, lasted several years, and then gradually faded? It was taken as unmistakable evidence that Jupiter's atmosphere was filled with impenetrable banks of cloud. In fact, you remember many of the old books said we had probably never seen the surface."
"That has puzzled me very much," replied Cortlandt, "but I never believed the explanation then given was correct. The Carboniferous period is essentially one of great forest growth; so there would be nothing out of the way in supposing the spot, notwithstanding its length of twenty-seven thousand miles and its breadth of eight thousand miles, to have been forest. It occurred in what would correspond to the temperate region on earth. Now, though the axis of this planet is practically straight, the winds of course change their direction, and so the temperature does vary from day to day. What is more probable than that, owing perhaps to a prolonged norther or cold spell, a long strip of forest lying near the frost line was brought a few degrees below it, so that the leaves changed their colours as they do on earth? It would, it seems to me, be enough to give the surface a distinct colour; and the fact that the spot's greatest length was east and west, or along the lines of latitude, so that the whole of that region might have been exposed to the same conditions of temperature, strengthens this hypothesis. The strongest objection is, that the spot is said to have moved; but the motion—five seconds—was so slight that it might easily have been an error in observation, or the first area affected by the cold may have been enlarged on one side. It seems to me that the stability the spot DID have would make the cloud theory impossible on earth, and much more so here, with the far more rapid rotation and more violent winds. It may also have been a cloud of smoke from a volcano in eruption, such as we saw on our arrival, though it is doubtful whether in that case it would have remained nearly stationary while going through its greatest intensity and fading, which would look as though the turned leaves had fallen off and been gradually replaced by new ones; and, in addition to this, the spot since it was first noticed has never entirely disappeared, which might mean a volcanic region constantly emitting smoke, or that the surface, doubtless from some covering whose colour can change, is normally of a different shade from the surrounding region. In any case, we have as yet seen nothing that would indicate a permanently clouded atmosphere."
Though they had walked a considerable distance, the water was not much cooled; and though the stream's descent was so slight that on earth its current would have been very slow, here it rushed along like a mountain torrent, the reason, of course, being that a given amount of water on Jupiter would depress a spring balance 2.55 times as much as on the earth.
"It is strange," said Ayrault, "that, notwithstanding its great speed, the water remains so hot; you would think its motion would cool it."
"So it does," answered the professor. "It of course cools considerably more in a given period—as, for instance, one minute—than if it were moving more slowly, but on account of its speed it has been exposed to the air but a very short time since leaving the spring."
Just before them the stream now widened into a narrow lake, which they could see was straight for some distance.
"The fact is," said Bearwarden, "this water seems in such haste to reach the ocean that it turns neither to right nor to left, and does not even seem to wish to widen out."
As the huge ferns and palms grew to the water's edge, they concluded the best way to traverse the lake would be on a raft. Accordingly, choosing a large overhanging palm, Bearwarden and Ayrault fired each an explosive ball into its trunk, about eighteen inches from the ground. One round was enough to put it in the water, each explosion removing several cubic feet of wood. By repeating this process on other trees they soon had enough large timber for buoyancy, so that they had but to superimpose lighter cross-logs and bind the whole together with pliable branches and creepers to form a substantial raft. The doctor climbed on, after which Bearwarden and Ayrault cast off, having prepared long poles for navigating. With a little care they kept their bark from catching on projecting roots, and as the stream continued to widen till it was about one hundred yards across, their work became easy. Carried along at a speed of two or three miles an hour, they now saw that the water and the banks they passed were literally alive with reptiles and all sorts of amphibious creatures, while winged lizards sailed from every overhanging branch into the water as they approached. They noticed also many birds similar to storks and cranes, about the size of ostriches, standing on logs in the water, whose bills were provided with teeth.
"We might almost think we were on earth," said Ayrault, "from the looks of those storks standing on one leg, with the other drawn up, were it not for their size."
"How do you suppose they defend themselves," asked Bearwarden, "from the snakes with which the water is filled?"
"I suspect they can give a pretty good account of themselves," replied Cortlandt, "with those teeth. Besides, with only one leg exposed, there is but a very small object for a snake to strike at. For their number and size, I should say their struggle for existence was comparatively mild. Doubtless non-poisonous, or, for that matter, poisonous snakes, form a great part of their diet."
On passing the bend in the lake they noticed that the banks were slightly higher, while palms, pine-trees, and rubber plants succeeded the ferns. In the distance they now heard a tremendous crashing, which grew louder as the seconds passed. It finally sounded like an earthquake. Involuntarily they held their breath and grasped their weapons. Finally, at some distance in the woods they saw a dark mass moving rapidly and approaching the river obliquely. Palms and pine-trees went down before it like straws, while its head was continually among the upper branches. As the monster neared the lake, the water at the edges quivered, showing how its weight shook the banks at each stride, while stumps and tree-trunks on which it stepped were pressed out of sight in the ground. A general exodus of the other inhabitants from his line of march began; the moccasins slid into the water with a low splash, while the boa-constrictors and the tree-snakes moved off along the ground when they felt it tremble, and a number of night birds retreated into the denser woods with loud cries at being so rudely disturbed. The huge beast did not stop till he reached the bank, where lie switched his tail, raised his proboscis, and sniffed the air uneasily, his height being fully thirty feet and his length about fifty. On seeing the raft and its occupants, he looked at them stupidly and threw back his head.
"He seems to be turning up his nose at us," said Bearwarden. "All the same, he will do well for breakfast."
As the creature moved, his chest struck a huge overhanging palm, tearing it off as though it had been a reed. Brushing it aside with his trunk, he was about to continue his march, when two rifle reports rang out together, rousing the echoes and a number of birds that screeched loudly.
MASTODON AND WILL-O'-THE WISPS.
Bearwarden's bullet struck the mammoth in the shoulder, while Ayrault's aim was farther back. As the balls exploded, a half-barrelful of flesh and hide was shot from each, leaving two gaping holes. Instantly he rushed among the trees, making his course known for some time by his roars. As he turned, Bearwarden fired again, but the hall flew over him, blowing off the top of a tree.
"Now for the chase!" said Ayrault. "There would be no excuse for losing him."
Quickly pushing their raft to shore and securing it to the bank, the three jumped off. Thanks to their rubber boots and galvanic outfits which automatically kept them charged, they were as spry as they would have been on earth. The ground all about them, and in a strip twelve feet wide where the mammoth had gone, was torn up, and the vegetation trodden down. Following this trail, they struck back into the woods, where in places the gloom cast by the thick foliage was so dense that there was a mere twilight, startling as they went numbers of birds of grey and sombre plumage, whose necks and heads, and the sounds they uttered, were so reptilian that the three terrestrials believed they must also possess poison fangs.
"The most highly developed things we have seen here," said Bearwarden, "are the flowers and fireflies, most of the birds and amphibians being simply loathsome."
As they proceeded they found tracks of blood, which were rapidly attracting swarms of the reptile birds and snakes, which, however, as a rule, fled at their approach.
"I wonder what can have caused that mammoth to move so fast, and to have seemed so ill at ease?" said the doctor. "His motive certainly was not thirst, for he did not approach the water in a direct line, neither did he drink on reaching it. One would think nothing short of an earthquake or a land-slide could trouble him."
"There can be no land-slide here," said Ayrault, "for the country is too flat."
"And after yesterday's eruptions," added Bearwarden, "it would seem as though the volcanoes could have scarcely enough steam left to make trouble."
The blood-tracks, continuing to become fresher, showed them they were nearing the game, when suddenly the trail took a sharp turn to the right, even returning towards the lake. A little farther it took another sharp turn, then followed a series of doublings, while still farther the ground was completely denuded of trees, its torn-up and trampled condition and the enormous amount of still warm blood showing how terrific a battle had just taken place.
While they looked about they saw what appeared to be the trunk of a tree about four feet in diameter and six feet long, with a slight crook. On coming closer, they recognized in it one of the forefeet of the mammoth, cut as cleanly as though with a knife from the leg just above the ankle, and still warm. A little farther they found the huge trunk cut to slivers, and, just beyond, the body of the unfortunate beast with three of its feet gone, and the thick hide cut and slashed like so much paper. It still breathed, and Ayrault, who had a tender heart, sent an explosive ball into its skull, which ended its suffering.
The three hunters then surveyed the scene. The largest and most powerful beast they had believed could exist lay before them dead, not from the bite of a snake or any other poison, but from mechanical injuries of which those they had inflicted formed but a very small part, and literally cut to pieces.
"I am curious to see the animal," said Cortlandt, "capable of doing this, though nothing short of dynamite bombs would protect us from him."
"As he has not stopped to eat his victim," said Bearwarden, "it is fair to suppose he is not carnivorous, and so must have had some other motive than hunger in making the attack; unless we can suppose that our approach frightened him away, which, with such power as he must possess, seems unlikely. Let us see," he continued, "parts of two legs remain unaccounted for. Perhaps, on account of their shape, he has been able the more easily to carry or roll them off, for we know that elephant foot makes a capital dish."
"From the way you talk," said Cortlandt, "one would suppose you attributed this to men. The Goliath we picture to ourselves would be a child compared to the man that could cut through these legs, though the necessity of believing him to have merely great size does not disprove his existence here. I think it probable we shall find this is the work of some animal with incisors of such power as it is difficult for us to conceive of."
"There is no indication here of teeth," said Bearwarden, "each foot being taken off with a clean cut. Besides, we are coming to believe that man existed on earth during the greater part, if not the whole, of our Carboniferous period."
"We must reserve our decision pending further evidence," said Cortlandt.
"I vote we take the heart," said Ayrault, "and cook it, since otherwise the mammoth will be devoured before our eyes."
While Bearwarden and Ayrault delved for this, Cortlandt, with some difficulty, parted the mammoth's lips and examined the teeth. "From the conical projections on the molars," said he, "this should be classed rather as a mastodon than as a mammoth."
When the huge heart was secured, Bearwarden arranged slices on sharpened sticks, while Ayrault set about starting a fire. He had to use Cortlandt's gun to clear the dry wood of snakes, which, attracted doubtless by the dead mastodon, came in such numbers that they covered the ground, while huge pterodactyls, more venomous-looking than the reptiles, hovered about the opening above.
Arranging a double line of electric wires in a circle about the mastodon and themselves, they sat down and did justice to the meal, with appetites that might have dismayed the waiting throng. Whenever a snake's head came in contact with one wire, while his tail touched the other, he gave a spasmodic leap and fell back dead. If he happened to fall across the wires, lie immediately began to sizzle, a cloud of smoke arose, and lie was reduced to ashes.
"Any time that we are short of mastodon or other good game," said Ayrault, "we need not hunger if we are not above grilled snake."
All laughed at this, and Bearwarden, drawing a whiskey-flask from his pocket, passed it to his friends.
"When we rig our fishing-tackle," he continued, "and have fresh fish for dinner, an entree of rattlesnake, roast mastodon for the piece de resistance, and begin the whole with turtle soup and clams, of which there must be plenty on the ocean beach, we shall want to stay here the rest of our lives."
"I suspect we shall have to," replied Ayrault "for we shall become so like Thanksgiving turkeys that the Callisto's door will be too small for us."
While they sat and talked, the flowers and plants about them softly began their song, and, as a visual accompaniment, the fire-flies they had not before noticed twinkled through the forest.
"My goodness!" exclaimed Cortlandt, "how time goes here! We started to get breakfast, and now it's growing dark."
Hastily cutting some thick but tender slices from the mastodon, and impaling them with the remains of the heart on a sharpened stake, they took up the wires, and the battery that had been supplying the current, and retraced their steps by the way they had come. Their rubber-lined cowhide boots protected them from all but the largest snakes, and as these were for the most part already enjoying their gorge, they trampled with impunity on those that remained in their path. When they had covered about half the distance to the raft, a huge boa-constrictor, which they had mistaken for a branch, fell upon Cortlandt, pinioning his arms and bearing him to the ground. Dropping their loads, Bearwarden and Ayrault threw themselves upon the monster with their hunting-knives with such vim that in a few seconds it beat a hasty retreat, leaving, as it did so, a wake of phosphorescent light.
"Are you hurt?" asked Bearwarden, helping him up.
"Not in the least," replied Cortlandt. "What surprises me is that I am not. The weight of that boa-constrictor would be very great on earth, and here I should think it would be simply crushing."
Groping their way through the rapidly growing darkness, they reached the raft without further adventure, and, once on the lake, had plenty of light. Two moons, one at three quarters and the other full, shone brightly, while the water was alive with gymnotuses and other luminous creatures. Sitting and living upon the cross-timbers, they looked up at the sky. The Great Bear and the north star had exactly the same relation to each other as when seen from the earth, while the other constellations and the Milky Way looked identically as when they had so often gazed at them before, and some idea of the immensity of space was conveyed to them. Here was no change; though they had travelled three hundred and eighty million miles, there was no more perceptible difference than if they had not moved a foot. Perhaps, they thought, to the telescopes—if there are any—among the stars, the sun was seen to be accompanied by two small, dark companions, for Jupiter and Saturn might be visible, or perhaps it seemed merely as a slightly variable star, in years when sun-spots were numerous, or as the larger planets in their revolutions occasionally intercepted a part of its light. As they floated along they noticed a number of what they took to be Will-o'-the-wisps. Several of these great globules of pale flame hovered about them in the air, near the surface of the water, and anon they rose till they hung above the trees, apparently having no forward or horizontal motion except when taken by the gentle breeze, merely sinking and rising.
"How pretty they are!" said Cortlandt, as they watched them. "For bodies consisting of marsh gas, they hold together wonderfully."
Presently one alighted on the water near them. It was considerably brighter than any glow-worm, and somewhat larger than an arc lamp, being nearly three feet in diameter; it did not emit much light, but would itself have been visible from a considerable distance. Cortlandt tried to touch it with a raft-pole, but could not reach far enough. Presently a large fish approached it, swimming near the surface of the water. When it was close to the Jack-o'-lantern, or whatever it was, there was a splash, the fish turned up its white under side, and, the breeze being away from the raft, the fire-ball and its victim slowly floated off together. There were frequently a dozen of these great globules in sight at once, rising and descending, the observers noticing one peculiarity, viz., that their brightness increased as they rose, and decreased as they sank.
About two and a half hours after sunset, or midnight according to Jupiter time, they fell asleep, but about an hour later Cortlandt was awakened by a weight on his chest. Starting up, he perceived a huge white-faced bat, with its head but a few inches from his. Its outstretched wings were about eight feet across, and it fastened its sharp claws upon him. Seizing it by the throat, he struggled violently. His companions, awakened by the noise, quickly came to his rescue, grasping him just as he was in danger of being dragged off the raft, and in another moment Bearwarden's knife had entered the creature's spine.
"This evidently belongs to the blood-sucking species," said Cortlandt. "I seem to be the target for all these beasts, and henceforth shall keep my eyes open at night."
As day would break in but little over an hour, they decided to remain awake, and they pushed the dead bat overboard, where it was soon devoured by fishes. A chill had come upon the air, and the incessant noise of the forms of life about them had in a measure ceased.
Cortlandt passed around a box of quinine as a preventive against malaria, and again they lay back and looked at the stars. The most splendid sight in their sky now was Saturn. At the comparatively short distance this great planet was from them, it cast a distinct shadow, its vast rings making it appear twice its real size. With the first glimmer of dawn, the fire-balls descended to the surface of the water and disappeared within it, their lights going out. With a suddenness to which the explorers were becoming accustomed, the sun burst upon them, rising as perpendicularly as at the earth's equator, and more than twice as fast, having first tinged the sky with the most brilliant hues.
The stream had left the forest and swamp, and was now flowing through open country between high banks. Pushing the raft ashore, they stepped off on the sand, and, warming up the remains of the mastodon's heart, ate a substantial breakfast.
While washing their knives in the stream preparatory to leaving it—for they wished to return to the Callisto by completing the circle they had begun—they noticed a huge flat jelly-fish in shallow water. It was so transparent that they could see the sandy bottom through it. As it seemed to be asleep, Bearwarden stirred up the water around it and poked it with a stick. The jelly-fish first drew itself together till it touched the surface of the water, being nearly round, then it slowly left the stream and rose till it was wholly in the air, and, notwithstanding the sunlight, it emitted a faint glow.
"Ah!" exclaimed Bearwarden, "here we have one of our Jack-o'-lanterns. Let us see what it is going to do."
"It is incomprehensible to me," said Cortlandt, "how it maintains itself; for it has neither wings nor visible means of support, yet, as it was able to immerse itself in the stream, thereby displacing a volume of liquid equivalent to its bulk, it must be at least as heavy as water."
The jelly-fish remained poised in the air until directly above them, when it began to descend.
"Stand from under!" cried Bearwarden, stepping back. "I, for one, should not care to be touched."
The great soft mass came directly over the spot on which they had been standing, and stopped its descent about three feet from the ground, parallel to which it was slowly carried by the wind. A few yards off, in the direction in which it was moving, lay a long black snake asleep on the sand. When directly over its victim the jelly globule again sank till it touched the middle of the reptile's back. The serpent immediately coiled itself in a knot, but was already dead. The jellyfish did not swallow, but completely surrounded its prey, and again rose in the air, with the snake's black body clearly visible within it.
"Our Will-o'-the-wisp is prettier by night than by day," said Bearwarden. "I suggest that we investigate this further."
"How?" asked Cortlandt.
"By destroying its life," replied Bearwarden. "Give it one barrel from your gun, doctor, and see if it can then defy gravitation."
Accordingly Cortlandt took careful aim at the object, about twenty-yards away, and fired. The main portion of the jellyfish, with the snake still in its embrace, sailed away, but many pounds of jelly fell to the ground. Most of this remained where it had fallen, but a few of the larger pieces showed a faint luminosity and rose again.
"You cannot kill that which is simply a mass of protoplasm," said Cortlandt. "Doubtless each of those pieces will form a new organism. This proves that there are ramifications and developments of life which we never dreamed of."
AN UNSEEN HUNTER.
They calculated that they had come ten or twelve miles from the place at which they built the raft, while the damp salt breeze blowing from the south showed them they were near the ocean. Concluding that large bodies of water must be very much alike on all planets, they decided to make for a range of hills due north and a few miles off, and to complete the circuit of the square in returning to the Callisto. The soft wet sand was covered with huge and curious tracks, doubtless made by creatures that had come to the stream during the night to drink, and they noticed with satisfaction as they set out that the fresher ones led off in the direction in which they were going. For practice, they blew off the heads of the boa-constrictors as they hung from the trees, and of the other huge snakes that moved along the ground, with explosive bullets, in every thicket through which they passed, knowing that the game, never having been shot at, would not take fright at the noise. Sometimes they came upon great masses of snakes, intertwined and coiled like worms; in these cases Cortlandt brought his gun into play, raking them with duck-shot to his heart's content. "As the function of these reptiles," he explained, "is to form a soil on which higher life may grow, we may as well help along their metamorphosis by artificial means." They were impressed by the tremendous cannon-like reports of their firearms, which they perceived at once resulted from the great density of the Jovian atmosphere. And this was also a considerable aid to them in making muscular exertion, for it had just the reverse effect of rarefied mountain air, and they seldom had to expand their lungs fully in order to breathe.
The ground continued to be marked with very large footprints. Often the impressions were those of a biped like some huge bird, except that occasionally the creature had put down one or both forefeet, and a thick tail had evidently dragged nearly all the time it walked erect. Presently, coming to something they had taken for a large flat rock, they were surprised to see it move. It was about twelve feet wide by eighteen feet long, while its shell seemed at least a foot thick, and it was of course the largest turtle they had ever seen.
"Twenty-four people could dine at a table of this size with ease," said Bearwarden, "while it would make soup for a regiment. I wonder if it belongs to the snapping or diamond-backed species."
At this juncture the monster again moved.
"As it is heading in our direction," resumed Bearwarden, "I vote we strike for a free pass," and, taking a run, he sprang with his spiked boots upon the turtle's shell and clambered upon the flat top, which was about six feet from the ground. He was quickly followed by Ayrault, who was not much ahead of Cortlandt, for, notwithstanding his fifty years, the professor was very spry. The tortoise was almost the exact counterpart of the Glyptodon asper that formerly existed on earth, and shambled along at a jerky gait, about half as fast again as they could walk, and while it continued to go in their direction they were greatly pleased. They soon found that by dropping the butts of their rifles sharply and simultaneously on either side, just back of the head, they could direct their course, by making their steed swerve away from the stamping.
"It is strange," said Ayrault, "that, with the exception of the mastodon and this tortoise, we have seen none of the monsters that seem to appear at the close of Carboniferous periods, although the ground is covered with their tracks."
"Probably we did not reach the grounds at the right time of day," replied Bearwarden. "The large game doubtless stays in the woods and jungles till night."
"I fancy," said Cortlandt, "we shall find representatives of all the species that once lived upon the earth. In the case of the singing flowers and the Jack-o'-lantern jelly-fish, we have, in addition, seen developments the existence of which no scientist has ever before even suspected."
Occasionally the tortoise stopped, whereupon they poked it from behind with their knives. It was a vicious-looking brute, and had a huge horny beak, with which it bit off young trees that stood in its way as though they had been blades of grass. They were passing through a valley about half a mile wide, bordered on each side by woods, when Bearwarden suddenly exclaimed, "Here we have it!" and, looking forward, they unexpectedly saw a head rise and remain poised about fifteen feet from the ground. It was a dinosaur, and belonged to the scaled or armoured species. In a few moments another head appeared, and towered several feet above the first. The head was obviously reptilian, but had a beak similar to that of their tortoise. The hind legs were developed like those of a kangaroo, while the small rudimentary forepaws, which could be used as hands or for going quadruped-fashion, now hung down. The strong thick tail was evidently of great use to them when standing erect, by forming a sort of tripod.
"How I wish we could take a pair of those creatures with us when we return to the earth!" said Cortlandt.
"They would be trump cards," replied Bearwarden, "in a zoological garden or a dime museum, and would take the wind out of the sails of all the other freaks."
As they lay flat on the turtle's back, the monsters gazed at them unconcernedly, munching the palm-tree fruit so loudly that they could be heard a long distance.
"Having nothing to fear from a tortoise," resumed Cortlandt, "they may allow us to stalk them. We are in their eyes like hippocentaurs, except that we are part of a tortoise instead of part of a horse, or else they take us for a parasite or fibrous growth on the shell."
"They would not have much to fear from us as we really are," replied Bearwarden, "were it not for our explosive bullets."
"I am surprised," said Ayrault, "that graminivorous animals should be so heavily armed as these, since there can be no great struggle in obtaining their food."
"From the looks of their jaws," replied Cortlandt, "I should say they are omnivorous, and would doubtless prefer meat to what they are eating now. Something seems to have gone wrong with the animal creation hereabouts to-day."
Their war-horse clanked along like a badly rusted machine, approaching the dinosaurs obliquely. When only about fifty yards intervened, as the hunters were preparing to aim, their attention was diverted by a tremendous commotion in the woods on their left and somewhat ahead. With the crunching of dead branches and swaying of the trees, a drove of monsters made a hasty exit and sped across the open valley. Some showed only the tops of their backs above the long grass, while others shambled and leaped with their heads nearly thirty feet above the ground. The dinosaurs instantly dropped on all-fours and joined in the flight, though at about half-minute intervals they rose on their hind legs and for a few seconds ran erect. The drove passed about half a mile before the travellers, and made straight for the woods opposite; but hardly had the monsters been out of sight two minutes when they reappeared, even more precipitately than before, and fled up the valley in the same direction as the tortoise.
"The animals here," said Bearwarden, "behave as though they were going to catch a train; only our friend beneath us seems superior to haste."
"I would give a good deal to know," said Cortlandt, "what is pursuing those giants, and whether it is identical or similar to the mutilator of the mastodon. Nothing but abject terror could make them run like that."
"I have a well-formed idea," said Bearwarden, "that a hunt is going on, with no doubt two parties, one in the woods on either side, and that the hunters may be on a scale commensurate with that of their victims."
"If the excitement is caused by men," replied Cortlandt, "our exploration may turn out to be a far more difficult undertaking than we anticipated. But why, if there are men in those woods, do they not show themselves?—for they could certainly keep pace with the game more easily in the open than among the trees."
"Because," replied Bearwarden, "the men in the woods are doubtless the beaters, whose duty it is to drive the game into and up the valley, at the end of which the killing will be done."
"We may have a chance to see it," said Ayrault, "or to take a hand, for we are travelling straight in that direction, and shall be able to give a good account ourselves if our rights are challenged."
"Why," asked Cortlandt, "if the hunting parties that have been in our vicinity were only beaters, should they have mutilated the mastodon in such it way that he could not walk? And how were they able to take themselves off so quickly—for man in his natural state has never been a fast mover? I repeat, it will upset my theories if we find men."
It was obvious to them that tortoises were not much troubled by the apparently general foe, for the specimen in which they were just then interested continued his course entirely unconcerned. Soon, however, he seemed to feel fatigue, for he drew his feet and head within his shell, which he tightly closed, and after that no poking or prodding had the desired effect.
"I suspect we must depend on shank's mares for a time," said Bearwarden, cheerfully, as they scrambled down.
"We can now see," said Cortlandt, "why our friend was so unconcerned, since he has but to draw himself within himself to become invulnerable to anything short of a stroke of lightning; for no bird could have power enough to raise and drop him from a great height upon rocks, as the eagles do on earth."
"I suspect, if anxious for turtle soup," said Bearwarden, "we must attach a lightning—rod, and wait for a thunderstorm to electrocute him."
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 shooting."
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 come."
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 men.
"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 here."
"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 song: "'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 asleep.
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 rifle."
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.
THE HONEY OF DEATH.
At first nothing seemed to have been disturbed, when they suddenly perceived that both forelegs were missing. On further examination they found that the ponderous tail, seven feet in diameter, was cut through in two places, the thicker portion having disappeared, and that the heavy bones in this extremity of the vertebral column had been severed like straws. The cut surfaces were but little cooler than the interior of the body, showing how recently the mutilation had been effected.
"By all the gods!" exclaimed Bearwarden, "it is easy to see the method in this; the hunters have again cut off only those parts that could be easily rolled. These Jovian fellows must have weapons compared with which the old scythe chariots would be but toys, with which they amputate the legs of their victims. We must see to it that their scimitars do not come too near to us, and I venture to hope that in our bullets they will find their match. What say you, doctor?"
"I see no depression such as such heavy bodies would necessarily have made had they been rolled along the ground, neither does it seem to me that these curious tracks in the sand are those of men."
The loose earth looked as if the cross-ties of some railroad had been removed, the space formerly occupied having been but partly filled, and these depressions were across the probable direction of motion.
"Whatever was capable of chasing mastodons and carrying such weights," said Ayrault, "will, I suspect, have little to fear from us. Probably nothing short of light artillery would leave much effect."
"I dare say," replied Bearwarden, "we had better give the unknown quantity a wide berth, though I would give a year's salary to see what it is like. The absence of other tracks shows that his confreres leave 'Scissor-jaw' alone."
Keeping a sharp lookout in all directions, they resumed their march along the third side of the square which was to bring them back to the Callisto. Their course was parallel to the stream, and on comparatively high ground. Cortlandt's gun did good service, bringing down between fifty and sixty birds that usually allowed them to get as near as they pleased, and often seemed unwilling to leave their branches. By the time they were ready for luncheon they saw it would be dark in an hour. As the rapidity of the planet's rotation did not give them a chance to become tired, they concluded not to pitch their camp, but to resume the march by moonlight, which would be easy in the high, open country they were traversing.
While in quest of fire-wood, they came upon great heaps of bones, mostly those of birds, and were attracted by the tall, bell-shaped flowers growing luxuriantly in their midst. These exhaled a most delicious perfume, and at the centre of each flower was a viscous liquid, the colour of honey.
"If this tastes as well as it looks," said Bearwarden, "it will come in well for dessert"; saying which he thrust his finger into the recesses of the flower, intending to taste the essence. Quietly, but like a flash, the flower closed, his hand being nearly caught and badly scratched by the long, sharp thorns that now appeared at the edges.
"Ha!" he exclaimed, "a sensitive and you may almost say a man-eating plant. This doubtless has been the fate of these birds, whose bones now lie bleaching at its feet after they have nourished its lips with their lives. No doubt the plant has use for them still, since their skeletons may serve to fertilize its roots."
Wishing to investigate further, Bearwarden placed one of the birds they had shot within the bell of another flower, which immediately contracted with such force that they saw drops of blood squeezed out. After some minutes the flower opened, as beautiful as ever, and discharged an oblong ball compressed to about the size of a hen's egg, though the bird that was placed within it had been as large as a small duck. Towards evening these flowers sent up their most beautiful song, to hear which flocks of birds came from far and near, alighting on the trees, and many were lured to death by the siren strains and the honey.
Before resuming their journey, the travellers paid a parting visit to the bell-shaped lilies on their pyramids of bones. The flowers were closed for the night, and the travellers saw by the moonlight that the white mounds were simply alive with diamond-headed snakes. These coiled themselves, flattened their heads, and set up such a hissing on the explorers' approach that they were glad to retire, and leave this curious contrast of hideousness and beauty to the fire-flies and the moons. Marching along in Indian file, the better to avoid treading on the writhing serpents that strewed the ground, they kept on for about two hours. They frequently passed huge heaps or mounds of bones, evidently the remains of bears or other large animals. The carnivorous plants growing at their centre were often like hollow trees, and might easily have received the three travellers in one embrace. But as before, the mounds were alive with serpents that evidently made them their homes, and raised an angry hiss whenever the men approached.
"The wonder to me," said Bearwarden, "is, that these snakes do not protect the game, by keeping it from the life-devouring plants. It may be that they do not show themselves by day or when the victims are near, or that the quadrupeds on which these plants live take a pleasure, like deer, in killing them by jumping with all four feet upon their backs or in some other way, and after that are entrapped by the flowers."
Shortly after midnight they rested for a half hour, but the dawn found them trudging along steadily, though somewhat wearily, and having about completed the third side of their square. Accordingly, they soon made a right-angle turn to the left, and had been picking their way over the rough ground for nearly two hours, with the sun already high in the sky, when they noticed a diminution of light. Glancing up, they saw that one of the moons was passing across the sun, and that they were on the eve of a total eclipse.
"Since all but the fifth moon," said Cortlandt, "revolve exactly in the plane of Jupiter's equator, any inhabitants that settle there will become accustomed to eclipses, for there must be one of the sun, and also of the moons, at each revolution, or about forty-five hundred in every Jovian year. The reason we have seen none before is, because we are not exactly on the equator."
They had a glimpse of the coronal streamers as the last portion of the sun was covered, and all the other phenomena that attend an eclipse on earth. For a few minutes there was a total return to night. The twinkling stars and other moons shone tranquilly in the sky, and even the noise of the insects ceased. Presently the edge of the sun that had been first obscured reappeared, and then Nature went through the phenomenon of an accelerated dawn. Without awaiting a full return of light, the travellers proceeded on their way, and had gone something over a hundred yards when Ayrault, who was marching second, suddenly grasped Bearwarden, who was in front, and pointed to a jet-black mass straight ahead, and about thirty yards from a pool of warm water, from which a cloud of vapour arose. The top of the head was about seven feet high, and the length of the body exceeded thirty feet. The six legs looked as strong as steel cables, and were about a foot through, while a huge, bony proboscis nine feet in length preceded the body. This was carried horizontally between two and three feet from the ground. Presently a large ground sloth came to the pool to drink, lapping up the water at the sides that had partly cooled. In an instant the black armored monster rushed down the slope with the speed of a nineteenth-century locomotive, and seemed about as formidable. The sloth turned in the direction of the sound, and for a moment seemed paralyzed with fear; it then started to run, but it was too late, for the next second the enormously exaggerated ant—for such it was—overtook it. The huge mandible shears that when closed had formed the proboscis, snapped viciously, taking off the sloth's legs and then cutting its body to slivers. The execution was finished in a few seconds, and the ponderous insect carried back about half the sloth to its hiding-place, where it leisurely devoured it.
"This reminds me," said Bearwarden, "of the old lady who never completed her preparations for turning in without searching for burglars under the bed. Finally she found one, and exclaimed in delight, 'I've been looking for you fifty years, and at last you are here!' The question is, now that we have found our burglar, what shall we do with him?"
"I constantly regret not having a rifle," replied Cortlandt, "though it is doubtful if even that would help us here."
"Let us sit down and wait," said Ayrault; "there may be an opening soon."
Anon a woolly rhinoceros, resembling the Rhinoceros tichorhinus that existed contemporaneously on earth with the mammoth, came to drink the water that had partly cooled. It was itself a formidable-looking beast, but in an instant the monster again rushed from concealment with the same tremendous speed. The rhinoceros turned in the direction of the sound, and, lowering its head, faced the foe. The ant's shears, however, passed beneath the horn, and, fastening upon the left foreleg, cut it off with a loud snap.
"Now is our chance," exclaimed Cortlandt; "we may kill the brute before he is through with the rhinoceros."
"Stop a bit, doctor," said Bearwarden. "We have a good record so far; let us keep up our reputation for being sports. Wait till he can attend to us."
The encounter was over in less than a minute, three of the rhinoceros's legs being taken off, and the head almost severed from the body. Taking up the legs in its mandibles, the murderous creature was returning to its lair, when, with the cry of "Now for the fray!" Bearwarden aimed beneath the body and blew off one of the farther armoured legs, from the inside. "Shoot off the legs on the same side," he counselled Ayrault, while he himself kept up a rapid fire. Cortlandt tried to disconcert the enemy by raining duck-shot on its scale-protected eyes, while the two rifles tore off great masses of the horn that covered the enormously powerful legs. The men separated as they retreated, knowing that one slash of the great shears would cut their three bodies in halves if they were caught together. The monster had dropped the remains of the rhinoceros when attacked, and made for the hunters at its top speed, which was somewhat reduced by the loss of one leg. Before it came within cutting distance, however, another on the same side was gone, Ayrault having landed a bullet on a spot already stripped of armour. After this the men had no difficulty in keeping out of its way, though it still moved with some speed, snipping off young trees in its path like grass. Finally, having blown the scales from one eye, the travellers sent in a bullet that exploded in the brain and ended its career.
"This has been by all odds the most exciting hunt we have had," said Ayrault, "both on account of the determined nature and great speed of the attack, and the almost impossibility of finding a vulnerable spot."
"Anything short of explosive bullets," added Bearwarden, "would have been powerless against this beast, for the armour in many places is nearly a foot thick."
"This is also the most extraordinary as well as most dangerous creature with which we have, had to deal," said Cortlandt, "because it is an enormously enlarged insect, with all the inherent ferocity and strength. It is almost the exact counterpart of an African soldier-ant magnified many hundred thousand times. I wonder," he continued thoughtfully, "if our latter-day insects may not be the deteriorated (in point of size) descendants of the monsters of mythology and geology, for nothing could be a more terrible or ferocious antagonist than many of our well-known insects, if sufficiently enlarged. No animal now alive has more than a small fraction of the strength, in proportion to its size, of the minutest spider or flea. It may be that through lack of food, difficulties imposed by changing climate, and the necessity of burrowing in winter, or through some other conditions changed from what they were accustomed to, their size has been reduced, and that the fire-flies, huge as they seemed, are a step in advance of this specimen in the march of deterioration or involution, which will end by making them as insignificant as those on earth. These ants have probably come into the woods to lay their eggs, for, from the behaviour of the animals we watched from the turtle, there must have been several; or perhaps a war is in progress between those of a different colour, as on earth, in which case the woods may be full of them. Doubtless the reason the turtle seemed so unconcerned at the general uneasiness of the animals was because he knew he could make himself invulnerable to the marauder by simply closing his shell, and we were unmolested because it did not occur to the ant that any soft-shelled creatures could be on the turtle's back."
"I think," said Bearwarden, "it will be the part of wisdom to return to the Callisto, and do the rest of our exploring on Jupiter from a safe height; for, though we succeeded in disabling this beauty, it was largely through luck, and had we not done so we should probably have provided a bon bouche for our deceased friend, instead of standing at his grave."
Accordingly they proceeded, and were delighted, a few minutes later, to see the sunlight reflected from the projectile's polished roof.
On reaching the Callisto, Ayrault worked the lock he had had placed on the lower door, which, to avoid carrying a key, was opened by a combination. The car's interior was exactly as they had left it, and they were glad to be in it again.
"Now," said Bearwarden, "we can have a sound and undisturbed sleep, which is what I want more than anything else. No prowlers can trouble us here, and we shall not need the protection-wires."
They then opened a window in each side—for the large glass plates, admitting the sun when closed, made the Callisto rather warm—and placed a stout wire netting within them to keep out birds and bats, and then, though it was but little past noon, got into their comfortable beds and slept nine hours at a stretch. Their strong metal house was securely at rest, receiving the sunlight and shedding the rain and dew as it might have done on earth. No winds or storms, lightnings or floods, could trouble it, while the multiformed monsters of antiquity and mythology restored in life, with which the terrestrials had been thrown into such close contact, roamed about its polished walls. Not even the fiercest could affect them, and they would but see themselves reflected in any vain assaults. The domed symmetrical cylinder stood there as a monument to human ingenuity and skill, and the travellers' last thought as they fell asleep was, "Man is really lord of creation."
The following day at about noon they awoke, and had a bath in the warm pool. They saw the armoured mass of the great ant evidently undisturbed, while the bodies of its victims were already shining skeletons, and raised a small cairn of stones in memory of the struggle they had had there.
"We should name this place Kentucky," said Bearwarden, "for it is indeed a dark and bloody ground," and, seeing the aptness of the appellation, they entered it so on their charts. While Ayrault got the batteries in shape for resuming work. Bearwarden prepared a substantial breakfast. This consisted of oatmeal and cream kept hermetically sealed in glass, a dish of roast grouse, coffee, pilot bread, a bottle of Sauterne, and another of Rhine wine.
"This is the last meal we shall take hereabouts," said their cook, as they plied their knives and forks beneath the trees, "so here is a toast to our adventures, and to all the game we have killed." They drained their glasses in drinking this, after which Bearwarden regaled them with the latest concert-hall song which he had at his tongue's end.
About an hour before dark they re-entered their projectile, and, as a mark of respect to their little ship, named the great branch of the continent on which they had alighted Callisto Point. They then got under way. The batteries had to develop almost their maximum power to overcome Jupiter's attraction; but they were equal to the task, and the Callisto was soon in the air. Directing their apergy to the mountains towards the interior of the continent, and applying repulsion to any ridge or hill over which they passed, thereby easing the work of the batteries engaged in supporting the Callisto, they were soon sweeping along at seventy-five to one hundred miles an hour. By keeping the projectile just strongly enough charged to neutralize gravitation, they remained for the most part within two hundred feet of the ground, seldom rising to an altitude of more than a mile, and were therefore able to keep the windows at the sides open and so obtain an unobstructed view. If, however, at any time they felt oppressed by Jupiter's high barometric pressure, and preferred the terrestrial conditions, they had but to rise till the barometer fell to thirty. Then, if an object of interest recalled them to sea-level, they could keep the Callisto's inside pressure at what they found on the Jovian mountains, by screwing up the windows. On account of the distance of sixty-four thousand miles from Jupiter's equator to the pole, they calculated that going at the speed of a hundred miles an hour, night and day, it would take them twenty-five terrestrial days to reach the pole even from latitude two degrees at which they started. But they knew that, if pressed for time, they could rise above the limits of the atmosphere, and move with planetary speed; while, if they wished a still easier method of pursuing their observation, they had but to remain poised between the sun and Jupiter, beyond the latter's upper air, and photograph or map it as it revolved before them.
By sunset they had gone a hundred miles. Wishing to push along, they closed the windows, rose higher to avoid any mountain-tops that might be invisible in the moonlight, and increased their speed. The air made a gentle humming sound as they shot through it, and towards morning they saw several bright points of light in which they recognized, by the aid of their glasses, sheets of flame and torrents of molten glowing lava, bursting at intervals or pouring steadily from several volcanoes. From this they concluded they were again near an ocean, since volcanoes need the presence of a large body of water to provide steam for their eruptions.
With the rising sun they found the scene of the day before entirely changed. They were over the shore of a vast ocean that extended to the left as far as they could see, for the range of vision often exceeded the power of sight. The coast-line ran almost due north and south, while the volcanoes that dotted it, and that had been luminous during the night, now revealed their nature only by lines of smoke and vapours. They were struck by the boldness and abruptness of the scenery. The mountains and cliffs had been but little cut down by water and frost action, and seemed in the full vigour of their youth, which was what the travellers had a right to expect on a globe that was still cooling and shrinking, and consequently throwing up ridges in the shape of mountains far more rapidly than a planet as matured and quiescent as the earth. The absence of lakes also showed them that there had been no Glacial period, in the latitudes they were crossing, for a very long time.
"We can account for the absence of ice-action and scratches," said Cortlandt, "in one of two ways. Either the proximity of the internal heat to the surface prevents water from freezing in all latitudes, or Jupiter's axis has always been very nearly perpendicular to its orbit, and consequently the thermometer has never been much below thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit; for, at the considerable distance we are now from the sun, it is easy to conceive that, with the axis much inclined, there might be cold weather, during the Northern hemisphere's winter, that would last for about six of our years, even as near the equator as this. The substantiation of an ice-cap at the pole will disprove the first hypothesis; for what we took for ice before alighting may have been but banks of cloud, since, having been in the plane of the planet's equator at the time, we had naturally but a very oblique view of the poles; while the absence of glacial scratches shows, I take it, that though the axis may have been a good deal more inclined than at present, it has not, at all events since Jupiter's Palaeozoic period, been as much so as that of Uranus or Venus. The land on Jupiter, corresponding to the Laurentian Hills on earth, must even here have appeared at so remote a period that the first surface it showed must long since have been worn away, and therefore any impressions it received have also been erased.
"Comparing this land with the photographs we took from space, I should say it is the eastern of the two crescent-shaped continents we found apparently facing each other. Their present form I take to be only the skeleton outline of what they will be at the next period of Jupiter's development. They will, I predict, become more like half moons than crescents, though the profile may be much indented by gulfs and bays, their superficial area being greatly increased, and the intervening ocean correspondingly narrowed. We know that North America had a very different shape during the Cretaceous or even the Middle Tertiary period from what it has now, and that the Gulf of Mexico extended up the valley of the Mississippi as far as the Ohio, by the presence of a great coral reef in the Ohio River near Cincinnati. We know also that Florida and the Southeastern Atlantic States are a very recent addition to the continent, while the pampas of the Argentine Republic have, in a geological sense, but just been upheaved from the sea, by the fact that the rivers are all on the surface, not having had time to cut down their channels below the surrounding country. By similar reasoning, we know that the canon of the Colorado is a very old region, though the precipitateness of its banks is due to the absence of rain, for a local water-supply would cut back the banks, having most effect where they were steepest, since at those points it would move with the greatest speed. Thus the majestic canon owes its existence to two things: the length of time the river has been at work, and the fact that the water flowing through it comes from another region where, of course, there is rain, and that it is merely in transit, and so affects only the bed on which it moves. Granting that this is the eastern of the two continents we observed, it evidently corresponds more in shape to the Eastern hemisphere on earth than to the New World, both of which are set facing one another, since both drain towards the Atlantic Ocean. But the analogy here holds also, for the past outlines of the Eastern hemisphere differed radically from what they are now. The Mediterranean Sea was formerly of far greater extent than we see it to-day, and covered nearly the whole of northern Africa and the old upheaved sea-bottom that we see in the Desert of Sahara. Much of this great desert, as we know, has a considerable elevation, though part of it is still below the level of the Mediterranean.
"Perhaps a more striking proof of this than are the remains of fishes and marine life that are found there, is the dearth of natural harbours and indentations in Africa's northern coast, while just opposite, in southern Europe, there are any number; which shows that not enough time has elapsed since Africa's upheaval for liquid or congealed water to produce them. Many of Europe's best harbours, and Boston's, in our country, have been dug out by slow ice-action in the oft-recurring Glacial periods. The Black and Caspian Seas were larger than we now find them; while the Adriatic extended much farther into the continent, covering most of the country now in the valley of the Po. In Europe the land has, of course, risen also, but so slowly that the rivers have been able to keep their channels cut down; proof of their ability to perform which feat we see when an ancient river passes through a ridge of hills or mountains. The river had doubtless been there long before the mountains began to rise, but their elevation was so gradual that the rate of the river's cutting down equalled or exceeded their coming up; proof of which we have in the patent fact that the ancient river's course remains unchanged, and is at right angles to the mountain chain. From all of which we see that the Eastern hemisphere's crescent hollow—of which, I take it, the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian Sea depressions are the remains—has been gradually filled in, by the elevation of the sea's bottom, and the extension of deltas from the detrital matter brought from the high interior of the continents by the rivers, or by the combined action of the two. Now, since the Gulf of Mexico has been constantly growing smaller, and the Mediterranean is being invaded by the land, I reason that similar causes will produce like effects here, and give to each continent an area far greater than our entire globe. The stormy ocean we behold in the west, which corresponds to our Atlantic, though it is far more of a mare clausum in the geographical sense, is also destined to become a calm and placid inland sea. There are, of course, modifications of and checks to the laws tending to increase the land area. England was formerly joined to the continent, the land connecting the two having been rather washed away by the waves and great tides than by any sinking of the English Channel's bottom, the whole of which is comparatively shallow. Another case of this kind is seen in Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, all of which are washing away so rapidly that they would probably disappear before the next Glacial period, were we not engaged in preventing its recurrence. These detached islands and sand-bars once formed one large island, which at a still earlier time undoubtedly was joined to the mainland. The sands forming the detached masses are in a great processional march towards the equator, but it is the result simply of winds and waves, there being no indication of subsidence. Along the coast of New Jersey we see denudation and sinking going on together, the well-known SUNKEN FOREST being an instance of the latter. The border of the continent proper also extends many miles under the ocean before reaching the edge of the Atlantic basin. Volcanic eruptions sometimes demolish parts of headlands and islands, though these recompense us in the amount of material brought to the surface, and in the increased distance they enable water to penetrate by relieving the interior of part of its heat, for any land they may destroy."
A JOVIAN NIAGARA.
Four days later, after crossing a ridge of mountains that the pressure on the aneroid barometer showed to be about thirty-two thousand feet high, and a stretch of flat country a few miles in width, they came to a great arm of the sea. It was about thirty miles wide at its mouth, which was narrowed like the neck of a bottle, and farther inland was over one hundred miles across, and though their glasses, the clear air, and the planet's size enabled them to see nearly five hundred miles, they could not find its end. In the shallow water along its shores, and on the islands rising but a few feet above the waves, they saw all kinds of amphibians and sea-monsters. Many of these were almost the exact reproduction in life of the giant plesiosaurs, dinosaurs, and elasmosaurs, whose remains are preserved in the museums on earth. The reptilian bodies of the elasmosaurs, seventy-five feet in length, with the forked tongues, distended jaws and fangs of a snake, were easily taken for the often described but probably mythical sea-serpent, as partially coiled they occasionally raised their heads twelve or fifteen feet.
"Man in his natural state," said Cortlandt, "would have but small chance of surviving long among such neighbours. Buckland, I think, once indulged in the jeu d'esprit of supposing an ichthyosaur lecturing on the human skull. 'You will at once perceive,' said the lecturer, 'that the skull before us belonged to one of the lower order of animals. The teeth are very insignificant, the power of the jaws trifling, and altogether it seems wonderful how the creature could have procured food.' Armed with modern weapons, and in this machine, we are, of course, superior to the most powerful monster; but it is not likely that, had man been so surrounded during the whole of his evolution, he could have reached his present plane."
Notwithstanding the striking similarity of these creatures to their terrestrial counterparts that existed on earth during its corresponding period, there were some interesting modifications. The organs of locomotion in the amphibians were more developed, while the eyes of all were larger, the former being of course necessitated by the power of gravity, and the latter by the greater distance from the sun.
"The adaptability and economy of Nature," said Cortlandt, "have always amazed me. In the total blackness of the Kentucky Mammoth Cave, where eyes would be of no use to the fishes, our common mother has given them none; while if there is any light, though not as much as we are accustomed to, she may be depended upon to rise to the occasion by increasing the size of the pupil and the power of the eye. In the development of the ambulatory muscles we again see her handiwork, probably brought about through the 'survival of the fittest.' The fishes and those wholly immersed need no increase in power, for, though they weigh more than they would on earth, the weight of the water they displace is increased at the same rate also, and their buoyancy remains unchanged. If the development of life here so closely follows its lines on earth, with the exception of comparatively slight modifications, which are exactly what, had we stopped to think, we should have expected to find, may we not reasonably ask whether she will not continue on these lines, and in time produce beings like ourselves, but with more powerful muscles and eyes capable of seeing clearly with less light? Reasoning by analogy, we can come to no other conclusion, unless their advent is anticipated by the arrival of ready-made colonists from the more advanced earth, like ourselves. In that case man, by pursuing the same destructive methods that he has pursued in regard to many other species, may exterminate the intervening links, and so arrest evolution."
Before leaving Deepwaters Bay they secured a pail of its water, which they found, on examination, contained a far larger percentage of salt and solid material than the oceans on earth, while a thermometer that they immediately immersed in it soon registered eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit; both of which discoveries confirmed them in what they already knew, namely, that Jupiter had advanced comparatively little from the condition in which the water on the surface is hot, in which state the earth once was.
They were soon beyond the estuary at which they had stopped to study the forms of life and to make this test, and kept on due north for several days, occasionally rising above the air. As their familiarity with their surroundings increased, they made notes of several things. The mountains covered far more territory at their bases than the terrestrial mountains, and they were in places very rugged and showed vast yawning chasms. They were also wooded farther up their sides, and bore but little snow; but so far the travellers had not found them much higher than those on earth, the greatest altitude being the thirty-two thousand feet south of Deepwaters Bay, and one other ridge that was forty thousand; so that, compared with the size of the planet and its continents, they seemed quite small, and the continents themselves were comparatively level. They also noted that spray was blown in vast sheets, till the ocean for miles was white as milk. The wind often attained tornado strength, and the whole surface of the water, about what seemed to be the storm centre, frequently moved with rapidity in the form of foam. Yet, notwithstanding this, the waves were never as large as those to which they were accustomed on earth. This they accounted for very easily by the fact that, while water weighed 2.55 times as much as on earth, the pressure of air was but little more than half as much again, and consequently its effect on all but the very surface of the heavy liquid was comparatively slight.
"Gravity is a useful factor here," observed Cortlandt, as they made a note of this; "for, in addition to giving immunity from waves, it is most effective in checking the elevation of high mountains or table-lands in the high latitudes, which we shall doubtless find sufficiently cool, or even cold, while in tropical regions, which might otherwise be too hot, it interferes with them least, on account of being partly neutralized by the rapid rotation with which all four of the major planets are blessed."
At sunrise the following morning they saw they were approaching another great arm of the sea. It was over a thousand miles wide at its mouth, and, had not the photographs showed the contrary, they would have thought the Callisto had reached the northern end of the continent. It extended into the land fifteen thousand miles, and, on account of the shape of its mouth, they called it Funnel Bay. Rising to a height, they flew across, and came to a great table-land peninsula, with a chain of mountains on either side. The southern range was something over, and the northern something less than, five thousand feet in height, while the table-land between sloped almost imperceptibly towards the middle, in which, as they expected, they found a river compared to which the Mississippi or the Amazon would be but a brook. In honour of the President of the Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company, they called this great projection, which averaged about four thousand miles across by twelve thousand miles long, Bearwarden Peninsula. They already noticed a change in climate; the ferns and palms became fewer, and were succeeded by pines, while the air was also a good deal cooler, which was easily accounted for by their altitude—though even at that height it was considerably denser than at sea-level on earth—and by the fact that they were already near latitude thirty.
The exposed points on the plateau, as also the summits of the first mountains they had seen before alighting, were devoid of vegetation, scarcely so much as a blade of grass being visible. Since they could not account for this by cold, they concluded that the most probable explanation lay in the tremendous hurricanes that, produced by the planet's rapid rotation, frequently swept along its surface, like the earth's trade-winds, but with far more violence. On reaching the northern coast of the peninsula they increased their elevation and changed their course to northeast, not caring to remain long over the great body of water, which they named Cortlandt Bay. The thousands of miles of foam fast flew beneath them, the first thing attracting their attention being a change in the ocean's colour. In the eastern shore of Cortlandt Bay they soon observed the mouth of a river, ten miles across, from which this tinted water issued in a flood. On account of its colour, which reminded them of a stream they knew so well, they christened it the Harlem.
Believing that an expedition up its valley might reveal something of interest, they began the ascent, remaining at an elevation of a few hundred feet. For about three hundred miles they followed this river, which had but few bends, while its sides became more and more precipitous, till it flowed through a canon four and a half miles across. Though they knew from the wide discoloration of Cortlandt Bay that the volume of water discharged was tremendous, the stream seldom moved at a rate of more than five miles an hour, and for a time was free from rocks and rapids, from which they concluded that it must be very deep. Half an hour later they saw a cloud of steam or mist, which expanded, and almost obscured the sky as they approached. Next they heard a sound like distant thunder, which they took for the prolonged eruption of some giant crater, though they had not expected to find one so far towards the interior of the continent. Presently it became one continuous roar, the echo in the canon, whose walls were at this place over six hundred feet high, being simply deafening, so that the near discharge of the heaviest artillery would have been completely drowned.
"One would think the end of the world was approaching!" shouted Cortlandt through his hands.
"Look!" Bearwarden roared back, "the wind is scattering the mist."
As he spoke, the vapoury curtain was drawn aside, revealing a waterfall of such vast proportions as to dwarf completely anything they had ever seen or even imagined. A somewhat open horseshoe lip, three and a half miles straight across and over four miles following the line of the curve, discharged a sheet of water forty feet thick at the edge into an abyss six hundred feet below. Two islands on the brink divided this sheet of liquid into three nearly equal parts, while myriads of rainbows hovered in the clouds of spray. Two things especially struck the observers: the water made but little curve or sweep on passing over the edge, and then rushed down to the abyss at almost lightning speed, shivering itself to infinitesimal particles on striking any rock or projection at the side. Its behaviour was, of course, due to its weight, and to the fact that on Jupiter bodies fall 40.98 feet the first second, instead of sixteen feet, as on earth, and at correspondingly increasing speed.
Finding that they were being rapidly dazed and stunned by the noise, the travellers caused the Callisto to rise rapidly, and were soon surveying the superb sight from a considerable elevation. Their minds could grasp but slowly the full meaning and titanic power of what they saw, and not even the vast falls in their nearness could make their significance clear. Here was a sheet of water three and a half miles wide, averaging forty feet in depth, moving at a rapid rate towards a sheer fall of six hundred feet. They felt, as they gazed at it, that the power of that waterfall would turn backward every engine and dynamo on the earth, and it seemed as if it might almost put out the fires of the sun. Yet it was but an illustration of the action of the solar orb exerted on a vast area of ocean, the vapour in the form of rain being afterwards turned into these comparatively narrow limits by the topography of the continent. Compared with this, Niagara, with its descent of less than two hundred feet, and its relatively small flow of water, would be but a rivulet, or at best a rapid stream. Reluctantly leaving the fascinating spectacle, they pursued their exploration along the river above the falls. For the first few miles the surface of the water was near that of the land; there were occasional rapids, but few rocks, and the foaming torrent moved at great speed, the red sandstone banks of the river being as polished as though they had been waxed. After a while the obstructions disappeared, but the water continued to rush and surge along at a speed of ten or twelve miles an hour, so that it would be easily navigable only for logs or objects moving in one direction. The surface of the river was soon on an average fifty feet below the edge of the banks, this depression being one result of the water's rapid motion and weight, which facilitated the carving of its channel.