A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version
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