A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version

A Great Void And A Great Longing
Resuming their march, the travellers proceeded along the circumference of a circle
having a radius of about three miles, with the Callisto in the centre. In crossing soft
places they observed foot-prints forming in the earth all around them. The impressions
were of all sizes, and ceased when they reached rising or hard ground, only to reappear in
the swamps, regulating their speed by that of the travellers. The three men were greatly
surprised at this.
"You may observe," said Cortlandt, "that the surface of the impression is depressed as
you watch it, as though by a weight, and you can see, and even hear, the water being
squeezed out, though whatever is doing it is entirely invisible. They must be made by
spirits sufficiently advanced to have weight, but not advanced enough to make
themselves visible."
Moved by a species of vandalism, Bearwarden raised his twelve-bore, and fired an
ordinary cartridge that he had not prepared for the dragons, at the space directly over the
nearest forming prints. There was a brilliant display of prismatic colours, as in a rainbow,
and though the impressions already made remained, no new ones were formed.
"Now you have done it!" said Cortlandt. "I hoped to be able to investigate this further."
"We shall doubtless see other and perhaps more wonderful things," replied Bearwarden.
"I must say this gives me an uncanny feeling."
When they had completed a little over half their circle, they came upon another of the
groves with which Saturn seemed to abound, at the edge of which, in a side-hill, was a
cave, the entrance of which was composed of rocky masses that had apparently fallen
together, the floor being but little higher than the surface outside. The arched roof of the
vestibule was rendered watertight by the soil that had formed upon it, which again was
overgrown by vines and bushes.
"This," said Bearwarden, "will be a good place to camp, for the cave will protect us from
dragons, unless they should take a notion to breathe at us from the outside, and it will
keep us dry in case of rain. To-morrow we can start with this as a centre, and make
another circuit."
"We can explore Saturn on foot," said Cortlandt, "and far more thoroughly than Jupiter,
on account of its comparative freedom from monsters. Not even the dragons can trouble
us, unless we meet them in large numbers."
Thereupon they set about getting fuel for their fire. Besides collecting some of the dead
wood that was lying all about, they split up a number of resinous pine and fir trees with
explosive bullets from their revolvers, so that soon they not only had a roaring fire, but
filled the back part of the cave with logs to dry, in case they should camp there again at