Lair of the White Worm eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 205 pages of information about Lair of the White Worm.
at least there was plenty of possibility.  In England there were originally vast plains where the plentiful supply of water could gather.  The streams were deep and slow, and there were holes of abysmal depth, where any kind and size of antediluvian monster could find a habitat.  In places, which now we can see from our windows, were mud-holes a hundred or more feet deep.  Who can tell us when the age of the monsters which flourished in slime came to an end?  There must have been places and conditions which made for greater longevity, greater size, greater strength than was usual.  Such over-lappings may have come down even to our earlier centuries.  Nay, are there not now creatures of a vastness of bulk regarded by the generality of men as impossible?  Even in our own day there are seen the traces of animals, if not the animals themselves, of stupendous size—­veritable survivals from earlier ages, preserved by some special qualities in their habitats.  I remember meeting a distinguished man in India, who had the reputation of being a great shikaree, who told me that the greatest temptation he had ever had in his life was to shoot a giant snake which he had come across in the Terai of Upper India.  He was on a tiger-shooting expedition, and as his elephant was crossing a nullah, it squealed.  He looked down from his howdah and saw that the elephant had stepped across the body of a snake which was dragging itself through the jungle.  ‘So far as I could see,’ he said, ’it must have been eighty or one hundred feet in length.  Fully forty or fifty feet was on each side of the track, and though the weight which it dragged had thinned it, it was as thick round as a man’s body.  I suppose you know that when you are after tiger, it is a point of honour not to shoot at anything else, as life may depend on it.  I could easily have spined this monster, but I felt that I must not—­so, with regret, I had to let it go.’

“Just imagine such a monster anywhere in this country, and at once we could get a sort of idea of the ‘worms,’ which possibly did frequent the great morasses which spread round the mouths of many of the great European rivers.”

“I haven’t the least doubt, sir, that there may have been such monsters as you have spoken of still existing at a much later period than is generally accepted,” replied Adam.  “Also, if there were such things, that this was the very place for them.  I have tried to think over the matter since you pointed out the configuration of the ground.  But it seems to me that there is a hiatus somewhere.  Are there not mechanical difficulties?”

“In what way?”

“Well, our antique monster must have been mighty heavy, and the distances he had to travel were long and the ways difficult.  From where we are now sitting down to the level of the mud-holes is a distance of several hundred feet—­I am leaving out of consideration altogether any lateral distance.  Is it possible that there was a way by which a monster could travel up and down, and yet no chance recorder have ever seen him?  Of course we have the legends; but is not some more exact evidence necessary in a scientific investigation?”

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Lair of the White Worm from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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