Across the Zodiac eBook

Percy Greg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 587 pages of information about Across the Zodiac.

As he spoke, we had come into proximity to our new game, a large and very powerful animal, about four feet high at the shoulders, and about six feet from the head to the root of the tail.  The latter carries, as that of the lion was fabled to do, a final claw, not to lash the creature into rage, but for the more practical purpose of striking down an enemy endeavouring to approach it in flank or rear.  Its hide, covered with a long beautifully soft fur, is striped alternately with brown and yellow, the ground being a sort of silver-grey.  The head resembles that of the lion, but without the mane, and is prolonged into a face and snout more like those of the wild boar.  Its limbs are less unlike those of the feline genus than any other Earthly type, but have three claws and a hard pad in lieu of the soft cushion.  The upper jaw is armed with two formidable tusks about twelve inches in length, and projecting directly forwards.  A blow from the claw-furnished tail would plough up the thigh or rip open the abdomen of a man.  A stroke from one of the paws would fracture his skull, while a wound from the tusk in almost any part of the body must prove certainly fatal.  Fortunately, the kargynda has not the swiftness of movement belonging to nearly all our feline races, otherwise its skins, the most valuable prize of the Martial hunter, would yearly be taken at a terrible cost of life.  Two of these creatures were said to be reposing in a thick jungle of reeds bordering a narrow stream immediately in our front.  The hunters, with Ergimo, now dismounted and advanced some two hundred yards in front of their birds, directing the latter to turn their heads in the opposite direction.  I found some difficulty in making my wish to descend intelligible to the docile creature which carried me, and was still in the air when one of the enormous creatures we were hunting rushed out of its hiding-place.  The nearest hunter, raising a shining metal staff about three and a half feet in length (having a crystal cylinder at the hinder end, about six inches in circumference, and occupying about one-third the entire length of the weapon), levelled it at the beast.  A flash as of lightning darted through the air, and the creature rolled over.  Another flash from a similar weapon in the hands of another hunter followed.  By this time, however, my bird was entirely unmanageable, and what happened I learned afterwards from Ergimo.  Neither of the two shots had wounded the creature, though the near passage of the first had for a moment stunned and overthrown him.  His rush among the party dispersed them all, but each being able to send forth from his piece a second flash of lightning, the monster was mortally wounded before they fairly started in pursuit of their scared birds, which—­their attention being called by the roar of the animal, by the crash accompanying each flash, and probably above all by the restlessness of my own caldecta in their midst—­had flown off to some distance. 

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Across the Zodiac from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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