I can only say that it seemed to be larger than a cow and had the strangest musky odor.
I will tell also of the huge bird which chased Challenger to the shelter of the rocks one day—a great running bird, far taller than an ostrich, with a vulture-like neck and cruel head which made it a walking death.
As Challenger climbed to safety one dart of that savage curving beak shore off the heel of his boot as if it had been cut with a chisel.
This time at least modern weapons prevailed and the great creature, twelve feet from head to foot—phororachus its name, according to our panting but exultant Professor—went down before Lord Roxton's rifle in a flurry of waving feathers and kicking limbs, with two remorseless yellow eyes glaring up from the midst of it.
May I live to see that flattened vicious skull in its own niche amid the trophies of the Albany.
Finally, I will assuredly give some account of the toxodon, the giant ten-foot guinea pig, with projecting chisel teeth, which we killed as it drank in the gray of the morning by the side of the lake.
All this I shall some day write at fuller length, and amidst these more stirring days I would tenderly sketch in these lovely summer evenings, when with the deep blue sky above us we lay in good comradeship among the long grasses by the wood and marveled at the strange fowl that swept over us and the quaint new creatures which crept from their burrows to watch us, while above us the boughs of the bushes were heavy with luscious fruit, and below us strange and lovely flowers peeped at us from among the herbage; or those long moonlit nights when we lay out upon the shimmering surface of the great lake and watched with wonder and awe the huge circles rippling out from the sudden splash of some fantastic monster; or the greenish gleam, far down in the deep water, of some strange creature upon the confines of darkness.
These are the scenes which my mind and my pen will dwell upon in every detail at some future day.
But, you will ask, why these experiences and why this delay, when you and your comrades should have been occupied day and night in the devising of some means by which you could return to the outer world?
My answer is, that there was not one of us who was not working for this end, but that our work had been in vain.
One fact we had very speedily discovered: The Indians would do nothing to help us.
In every other way they were our friends—one might almost say our devoted slaves—but when it was suggested that they should help us to make and carry a plank which would bridge the chasm, or when we wished to get from them thongs of leather or liana to weave ropes which might help us, we were met by a good-humored, but an invincible, refusal.
They would smile, twinkle their eyes, shake their heads, and there was the end of it.
Even the old chief met us with the same obstinate denial, and it was only Maretas, the youngster whom we had saved, who looked wistfully at us and told us by his gestures that he was grieved for our thwarted wishes.
Ever since their crowning triumph with the ape-men they looked upon us as supermen, who bore victory in the tubes of strange weapons, and they believed that so long as we remained with them good fortune would be theirs.
A little red-skinned wife and a cave of our own were freely offered to each of us if we would but forget our own people and dwell forever upon the plateau.
So far all had been kindly, however far apart our desires might be; but we felt well assured that our actual plans of a descent must be kept secret, for we had reason to fear that at the last they might try to hold us by force.
In spite of the danger from dinosaurs (which is not great save at night, for, as I may have said before, they are mostly nocturnal in their habits) I have twice in the last three weeks been over to our old camp in order to see our negro who still kept watch and ward below the cliff.
My eyes strained eagerly across the great plain in the hope of seeing afar off the help for which we had prayed.
But the long cactus-strewn levels still stretched away, empty and bare, to the distant line of the cane-brake.
"They will soon come now, Massa Malone.
Before another week pass Indian come back and bring rope and fetch you down." Such was the cheery cry of our excellent Zambo.
I had one strange experience as I came from this second visit which had involved my being away for a night from my companions.
I was returning along the well-remembered route, and had reached a spot within a mile or so of the marsh of the pterodactyls, when I saw an extraordinary object approaching me.
It was a man who walked inside a framework made of bent canes so that he was enclosed on all sides in a bell-shaped cage.
As I drew nearer I was more amazed still to see that it was Lord John Roxton.
When he saw me he slipped from under his curious protection and came towards me laughing, and yet, as I thought, with some confusion in his manner.
"Well, young fellah," said he, "who would have thought of meetin' you up here?"
"What in the world are you doing?" I asked.
"Visitin' my friends, the pterodactyls," said he.
"Interestin' beasts, don't you think?
Nasty rude ways with strangers, as you may remember.
So I rigged this framework which keeps them from bein' too pressin' in their attentions."
"But what do you want in the swamp?"
He looked at me with a very questioning eye, and I read hesitation in his face.
"Don't you think other people besides Professors can want to know things?" he said at last.
"I'm studyin' the pretty dears.
That's enough for you."
"No offense," said I.
His good-humor returned and he laughed.
"No offense, young fellah.
I'm goin' to get a young devil chick for Challenger.
That's one of my jobs.
No, I don't want your company.
I'm safe in this cage, and you are not.
So long, and I'll be back in camp by night-fall."
He turned away and I left him wandering on through the wood with his extraordinary cage around him.
If Lord John's behavior at this time was strange, that of Challenger was more so.