A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version

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
"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