A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version

Hills And Valleys
With the first light they resumed their journey, and an hour after setting out they sighted,
as Cortlandt had predicted, another cloud of vapour. The fall--for such it proved to be--
was more beautiful than the other, for, though the volume of water was not so great, it fell
at one leap, without a break, and at the same tremendous speed, a distance of more than a
thousand feet. The canon rang with the echoes, while the spray flew in sheets against the
smooth, glistening, sandstone walls. Instead of coming from a river, as the first fall had,
this poured at once from the rocky lip, about two miles across, of a lake that was eleven
hundred feet above the surging mass in the vale below.
"It is a thousand pities," said Bearwarden, "that this cataract has got so near its source;
for, at the rate these streams must cut, this one in a few hundred years, unless something
is done to prevent it, will have worn back to the lake, and then good-bye to the falls,
which will become a series of rapids. Perhaps the first effect will be merely to reduce by
a few feet the height of the falls, in which case they will remain in practically the same
About the shores of this lake they saw rhinoceroses with long thick wool, and herds of
creatures that much resembled buffaloes.
"I do not see," said Bearwarden, "why the identical species should not exist here that till
recently, in a geological sense, inhabited the earth. The climate and all other conditions
are practically the same on both planets, except a trifling difference in weight, to which
terrestrials would soon adapt themselves. We know by spectroscopic analysis that
hydrogen, iron, magnesium, and all our best-known substances exist in the sun, and even
the stars, while the earth contains everything we have found in meteorites. Then why
make an exception of life, instead of supposing that at corresponding periods of
development the same living forms inhabit all? It would be assuming the eternal
sterilization of the functions of Nature to suppose that our earth is the only body that can
produce them."
"The world of organic life is so much more complex," replied Cortlandt, "than that of the
crystal, that it requires great continuity. So far we certainly have seen no men, or
anything like them, not even so much as a monkey, though I suppose, according to your
reasoning, Jupiter has not advanced far enough to produce even that."
"Exactly," replied Bearwarden, "for it will require vast periods; and, according to my
belief, at least half the earth's time of habitability had passed before man appeared. But
we see Jupiter is admirably suited for those who have been developed somewhere else,
and it would be an awful shame if we allowed it to lie unimproved till it produces
appreciative inhabitants of its own, for we find more to admire in one half-hour than its
entire present population during its lifetime. Yet, how magnificent this world is, and how
superior in its natural state to ours! The mountainous horns of these crescent-shaped
continents protect them and the ocean they enclose from the cold polar marine currents,