A Journey in Other Worlds
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
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