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Greenland's Icy Mountains And The Russian Bear







From: Doctor Jones' Picnic

Upon the morning of the third day from Constance House the wind shifted
almost due west. Silver Cloud was in latitude 65 deg., longitude 70 deg.
13 min., and they were driving rapidly toward Greenland.

"We are still two or three points north of east in our course, and will
let her drive as she goes for the present," said Dr. Jones. "And you
wouldn't mind seeing Greenland's icy mountains, about which you have
sung so many years, would you, girls?"

"O let us see Greenland, by all means, Doctor!" cried Mattie.

"What noted travelers we will be when we get back to Washington," and he
placed an arm about each of their waists and galloped them up and down
the little sitting room several times.

"I do believe that you grow to be more of a boy every year of your
life," panted Mrs. Jones, as she smoothed her rumpled hair.

"You are quite right, Maggie; and what is worse, I do not expect to ever
improve a bit on that line. Give me the heart of a boy while I live. And
now, Professor, I am ready to give you revenge for that last game or two
of chess that went to my credit."

While these two were oblivious to the world in a very closely contested
game, Mrs. Jones sat knitting while Mattie read aloud to her from a late
magazine. Denison and Fred were pacing the balcony for their
"constitutional." Will was working on his oil painting of Jennie Barton,
and so beautifully had he succeeded in bringing out the lovely features,
and trusting, fearless spirit that beamed from a pair of dark blue eyes,
that all the company, even to Sing, expressed their unqualified
admiration.

"Me sabe," said the acute Mongolian. "Ah! Will heap likee Miss Jennie."

The artist blushed, and they all laughed uproariously at his confusion,
and Sing went chuckling to the kitchen.

The following morning Silver Cloud had nearly crossed Davis Strait, and
the bold headlands of the western coast of Greenland were in plain view.
They crossed the western boundary line of that land of perpetual winter,
just a few miles north of the Arctic Circle.

"Hurrah!" shouted Dr. Jones. "In the Arctics at last!"

The wind held still a little north of due east, and Silver Cloud rode at
an elevation of between 3,500 and 4,000 feet. The surface of Greenland
was cold, dreary, and uninviting to a degree. Vast tracts of ice and
snow stretched in every direction, far as the eye could see. Away in the
interior a range of mountains broke the monotony of the landscape.
Toward morning a violent snowstorm gathered below them and hid the face
of Greenland from view until next morning. Silver Cloud, meantime, was
sent up to nearly 5,000 feet altitude, so that they might not collide
with any mountain peak during the night.

"Upon my word," said Professor Gray, as he stood on the balcony the
following morning, and looked out over the white and ghastly picture of
desolation, "I thought Labrador the most inappropriately named country
upon the earth, but think of calling this picture of all that is
inhospitable and forbidding--Greenland!"

By noon they were crossing swiftly the ridge that runs the length of
Greenland, so far as is known. Silver Cloud swept within three hundred
feet of one lofty peak, covered with eternal ice and snow. Then on and
on, swift as an eagle, over the high plateaux and steppes of Eastern
Greenland. Early the following morning they arose to find the Arctic
Ocean beneath, and Greenland disappearing in the misty horizon behind
them. The wind bore a point or so more easterly, and Dr. Jones was
tempted to seek a more favorable current. He descended to the 2,000 foot
level, but experienced no perceptible change.

"Well, we'll stick to my original plan. Anything north of due east or
west is good enough for us," said he.

But he grew restless as they hour after hour steadily continued upon
nearly the same latitudinal line, and descended to 1,000 feet
elevation. There was some change for the better at that altitude for
many hours. One thing that specially pleased them was the wonderful
sensitiveness of the globe to the slightest variation of the temperature
within its interior. The Doctor's plan of using hot air alone as the
floating power had been modified to the extent of dividing one-half of
the globe's interior into several compartments by thin sheets of
aluminum, and these were filled with hydrogen gas. The gas fell but
little short of the power necessary to float the ship, so that a slight
elevation of the temperature in the air chamber above that of the
external atmosphere was sufficient to float the vessel. When it was
desirable to descend, a trap being opened in the upper and lower parts
of the air chamber caused the hot air to rush out and the cold air in,
and the descent could be made rapidly or slowly, at the will of the
commander. By virtue of the zinc lining of the air chamber the
temperature would remain at a given point for many hours without the
consumption of a particle of fuel.

The Doctor and Will together had devised a most ingenious method of
heating the hot-air chamber instantly. By the use of a small air pump
hundreds of atmospheres could be compressed into a very strong aluminum
chest or cylinder. Beneath this cylinder were a number of burners that
heated the compressed air several hundred degrees. As we said before,
when they desired to descend, an upper and lower trap were opened, the
hot air rushed out above and the cold air in below, causing the globe to
descend with great rapidity. This descent could be arrested at any level
by closing the trap, and a certain amount of the air let off from the
hot-air chest, and any temperature desired could be attained at once.
All this could be done at an expense of oil that was ridiculously and
incredibly small. While they could by no means steer or guide this ship,
yet, if the Doctor's theory of air currents should prove to be
scientifically correct, then they were by no means entirely at the mercy
of any and every adverse gale. And, at the worst, when a favorable
current could not be found, they could descend to the earth and anchor
until a fair wind prevailed. One thing further should be explained. When
it became desirable to ascend suddenly or rapidly, the hot-air chest
was thrown completely open, and the vast chamber was instantly filled
with air at any temperature required. When this operation was from any
cause necessary, the upper trap was closed and all the lower apertures
opened. The hot air from the chest immediately mounted to the upper end
of the air chamber, and forced the excess of cold atmosphere out through
these lower traps. The effect upon the globe was marvelous. It would
bound skyward like a rocket. By a series of experiments Will had
ascertained just the amount of pressure per square inch and the
temperature that was necessary to send the ship to a given altitude. The
rate of ascent was under perfect control by letting off the hot air
slowly or rapidly.

"What a mighty engine for good or evil in the world this ship would be,
if it could be guided or steered," remarked Professor Gray.

"I doubt if that can ever be done," replied Will. "The surface presented
to the current of atmosphere is too great to allow any sort of device to
operate satisfactorily."

"The Government is making experiments with what is called the aeroplane,
and the indications are that it is the coming method of aerial
navigation. But the degree of comfort that we are enjoying can never be
an attendant of that plan. I shall never cease to wonder at the speed
with which we are traveling over these Arctic regions in perfect
comfort. I never felt better in my life, and I have grown to feel as
safe as I ever did in my home in Washington," said Professor Gray.

They occasionally saw whales spouting, and it was exceedingly
interesting to watch the great icebergs that floated here and there over
the face of the deep. Some of them towered like crystal mountains,
hundreds of feet into the air.

"Just think how incomprehensibly great these masses of ice are,"
observed Professor Gray. "It is estimated that but one-eighth of the
berg protrudes above the surface. Now look at that monster! Not less
than eighteen or twenty miles long, and from five to six hundred feet
high, making it in the neighborhood of a mile in thickness. Ah! see that
big fellow turning over! Did you ever see anything so grand! I don't
wonder that navigating these seas is next to impossible."

They were all standing upon the balcony when they beheld this startling
scene.

For two whole days the beautiful ship continued steadily upon nearly the
same course. The Professor pointed out their position upon the map at
latitude 70 deg. 35 min., and longitude 50 deg. 20 min., East Greenwich.
At this point they encountered a terrible gale from the north. The
Doctor raised higher and higher, until they reached an altitude of ten
thousand feet. Still they flew at amazing speed toward the south. He
ascended to fifteen thousand, then twenty thousand feet elevation, but
on they went into the heart of Russia. Will went up into the globe and
hurriedly returned.

"You must lower, Doctor! The strain upon the rods is tremendous! The
outside atmospheric resistance is so slight at this elevation that we
shall certainly explode if you ascend any higher."

"Then we will descend and anchor at the first favorable spot, and there
await a south wind. There seems to be a great demand for air at the
equator just now. Well, let them have it," said he grimly, "but we are
sure to get a regurgitation in our direction before many days. So down
we go to study Russian habits and customs."

The upper and lower traps were opened in the air chamber, and they
rapidly descended to within five or six hundred feet of the earth. They
could plainly see that the foliage was being thrashed with great
violence by the gale.

"How shall we manage to safely anchor in this awful wind, Doctor?" asked
Will anxiously.

"Do you see that high range of hills just ahead?"

"Yes."

"Well, they run east and west. We will drop immediately upon the other
side of them. There it must be comparatively calm. But sharp is the
word! We are there now!"

Downward dropped the great ship behind the sheltering crest of the
hills, and she, in a moment or two, was skimming quite easily along,
just above the treetops. In what appeared to be a great park, the anchor
was dropped into the top of a tree. It held securely, and Will and
Denison descended in the cage and made a very strong aluminum cable
fast about the trunk of the tree. After all was made secure, Dr. Jones
and Professor Gray also descended. The little company then began looking
around for signs of life.

"I see a large stone building down this avenue," cried Will.

"The Professor and I will prospect the place, while you two had better
remain here until our return," said the Doctor.

Accordingly they set off at a lively pace toward the building. As they
approached it they looked in vain for signs of human life. They found it
to be a massive ancient castle, standing in the midst of an extensive
grove or park. They were somewhat awed by the deathlike silence that
pervaded the place. They, however, stepped up to a massive oaken door,
and Dr. Jones seized the ponderous iron knocker and struck several
vigorous blows. They waited two or three minutes, but could hear no
sounds within.

"We have struck an enchanted castle, and I must see if I cannot awake
the Sleeping Beauty within," said Dr. Jones, and he was about to apply
the knocker again, when a deep bass voice from a window above addressed
them in a language with which they were unfamiliar.

"We cannot speak your language. Do you speak English?" asked Dr. Jones.

"Are you men, angels, or devils, and what do you want," returned the
voice in fairly good English.

The Doctor hastened to give the desired information, and told who they
were, etc., concisely as possible.

"What is that fearful and wonderful silver ball or globe in which you
dropped from the skies among us?"

After further explanations the bars were removed, and the massive door
swung slowly open. There stood before them a large, black-bearded man,
holding by the collars two large Russian hounds. The brutes growled and
showed their horrid fangs in a way that made the visitors cringe and
draw back.

"Please restrain your dogs, sir, for our mission is a perfectly peaceful
one," said Dr. Jones; and he smiled so blandly that the man seemed to
dismiss his apprehensions. He gave a signal which summoned two men, to
whom he consigned the dogs, and they were led away. He now invited them
to enter, and gave them seats in an adjoining room.

"Gentlemen, I am Count Icanovich, and this is my castle. I welcome you
to its hospitalities. You must excuse the reception we gave you, for I
must confess that I have never been so startled in my life as when I saw
your extraordinary ship come swooping down upon us a few moments ago.
Half my people are in fits, or hidden away in all sorts of holes and
corners."

"I am exceedingly sorry, Count, to have come so abruptly and informally
among you, but I assure you that we are here very much against our own
wishes. We are bound for the North Pole, but this terrible gale from the
north necessitated our anchoring for the present. But since fate has
cast us among you, I am very happy to make the acquaintance of Count
Icanovich. I am Dr. Jones of Washington City, United States, and this is
Professor Gray, of Smithsonian Institute, same city."

The Count shook hands with them very cordially, and asked, "How many are
there of your party?" Upon being told, he immediately desired that they
all be brought to the castle.

"We see but little of the world in this place," said he, "and we hail
this break in the humdrum monotony of our life with extreme pleasure."

The two gentlemen returned appropriate acknowledgments of the Count's
kindness, and arose to return to the globe for the company.

"Will you accompany us to the ship?" asked Dr. Jones.

"I thank you, but I am a victim of sciatic rheumatism, and can do but
little walking," returned the Count. "I hope, however, before you leave
us, to be able to inspect your wonderful air-ship."

"Is your sciatica of long standing?" inquired Dr. Jones, all the
instincts of a good physician being aroused at the presence of
suffering; and running over in his mind a list of remedies from force of
long habit.

"About three years. I contracted it from getting wet when warm. I am
incurable, and must grin and bear to the end."

"Do you feel better quiet, or when moving about?"

"Oh! I must move about. I usually put in hours at night hobbling up and
down my room."

"The bed feels so hard that you cannot find an easy spot to lie on. You
are always worse before storms. After sitting a little while you stiffen
up, feeling much better after moving about. The tendons of your legs
have a drawing sensation, and feel as if too short. There is more or
less of numbness and paralysis, and a wooden sort of feeling of the leg
when walking. You also have lightning-like shocks of pain through the
limb, now and then. Your attacks come on every few weeks, and it is the
left limb that is affected. You can be cured."

The doctor rattled these symptoms off with great volubility. The Count
looked at him with open-eyed wonder. The professor was not less
astonished at the positiveness with which Dr. Jones thus detailed the
Count's symptoms without any previous knowledge of the case.

"Whether you be angel or devil, I do not know; but certain it is that
you have told my symptoms better than I could have done myself. But you
make a bold assertion when you say that I can be cured. Do you know,
man, that I have had the best advice in Europe, and have spent a fortune
seeking relief?"

"Are you taking medicine now, sir?"

"No. I have thrown physic to the dogs, and may God have mercy on the
dogs. I am thoroughly disgusted with physic and physicians. And why
should I not be? Several years since, I saw my wife die of pulmonary
consumption. And now my only child lies in a chamber above, well
advanced in the same terrible, wholly incurable disease. As if this were
not enough, I myself am suffering the pangs of h--l with a lingering,
incurable complaint. Why shouldn't I detest the whole lying, infernal
business?" he roared, striking the floor savagely with his cane.

"Sure enough, sure enough," said the Doctor soothingly and
sympathetically. "I do not blame you in the least. But we will see if
something cannot be done for you, Count. I believe in my soul that I can
cure you, and that right speedily. Let us now hasten back, for our
people will be alarmed at our long absence."

They found them indeed wondering and anxious. All immediately descended
and repaired to the castle. The Count met them at the door, and, after
a formal introduction to each, led them to a large, quite modernly
furnished drawing-room.

"Now," said the Count, "please make yourselves at home. I intend that
you shall be my guests while you remain in this vicinity. You will be
shown to your rooms in a few moments. You will please excuse me now, and
I will see you at dinner, which will be at six o'clock."

He was about leaving the room, limping painfully, when Dr. Jones stepped
up to him, and, pulling a small vial from his vest pocket, said: "Put
out your tongue, Count; I wish to give you a dose of medicine that will
cure your sciatica."

The Count looked at him suspiciously a moment, then sat down as
requested, and put out his tongue. Dr. Jones shook a grain or two of
powder upon it.

"You will suffer less to-night than you have done in a long time. It is
very possible that this one dose will cure you perfectly and
permanently."

"I tell you frankly, sir, that I have not a particle of faith in your
minute, tasteless dose affecting me in the slightest," said the Count
with a half angry glare in his deep-set black eyes.

"I do not care a fig for your faith, sir," replied Dr. Jones in his
independent American manner. "Happily for you, this is not a Christian
Science cure that I am performing. You have the indicated remedy in your
circulation now; and with all due respect, believe what you please."

The company of friends were looking on anxiously, fearing that the
Doctor was too brusque with the nobleman. But that individual smiled,
and really seemed quite pleased and amused at Dr. Jones' positive,
straightforward way of doing business.

"Evidently you are not deficient in the element of faith, Doctor, and
I can but wish that your faith may not be in vain in this instance."

After the Count had withdrawn, Professor Gray said: "Dr. Jones, I do not
at all understand how you could tell the Count his symptoms as you did,
without any previous knowledge of the case. Does sciatic rheumatism
always present just the same picture, or set of symptoms, that you
should be able to so rapidly and correctly tell his purely subjective
sensations?"

"Not by any means, Professor. A scientific prescription, like a stool,
must have at least three legs to stand upon. You will remember that the
Count had already told me that moving about, especially at night,
mitigated his pains; that he contracted his ailment from getting wet;
and I noticed that he favored the left leg in walking. These were the
three legs for my stool, or prescription. I felt positive that the
remedy indicated was Rhus Toxicodendron. So I merely mentioned the
leading characteristics of that drug, and I was not mistaken. You see,
then, that I did nothing marvelous nor supernatural. Now, any one of
many other drugs might have been indicated if the symptoms had been
different from what they were. The symptoms of the disease must always
be the same as those that the indicated drug is capable of producing in
crude doses. Rhus tox. will cure the Count because, in every case of
poisoning by that drug, there will be produced the symptoms found in his
case. Like cures like. This is a universal law of God. I feel quite sure
that the Count will experience great benefit from the one dose I have
given him."

"I shall watch this case with the greatest interest," said the
Professor. "You will make a convert of me to your system if you perform
a cure of so obstinate and painful a disease with an infinitesimal dose
of medicine."

"All right, my dear sir. I always feel confident of a cure when the
symptoms are clear cut as in this instance."

A general conversation was now entered into for a few moments, when
servants entered and signaled them to follow, and each was conducted to
a comfortable apartment. They shortly after assembled again in the
drawing-room and awaited the announcement of dinner. Fred opened the
piano, and he and the ladies sang a trio. They were glad when a servant
appeared and signaled them to follow him to the dining-room. The Count
was the only Russian present who could speak English. So he watched
carefully and interpreted the wants of his guests to the servants, and
but very little trouble was experienced. They found the cooking very
palatable, and their mode of living aboard Silver Cloud in the frosty
atmosphere of the Arctic region had sharpened their appetites
enormously.

The Count talked with them about their journey, and was much interested
in the graphic accounts given by the different members of the party of
their experiences. Will explained the plan and construction of the
globe. The Count was a good listener, and seemed deeply impressed with
all that was said upon the subject.

"It seems to me incredible that you were so short a time ago in
Washington City, U.S., and are now sitting at my dining table in the
heart of Russia. And think of the circuitous route by which you came!
Still I am prepared to believe anything when I look at yonder wonderful
silver globe, and remember how you dropped among us from the skies as
you did to-day."

After dinner Will and Denison borrowed a lantern and went to see that
Silver Cloud was all right for the night. The wind swayed the monster
ball back and forward gently, and there seemed to be no great strain
upon the cables.

"I think we had better get out the other two cables," said Will. "I do
not feel quite safe. A heavy gust might tear it away, and that would be
a calamity indeed."

So he ascended to the engine-room and passed the cable ends to Denison,
who made them securely fast to adjoining trees.

A very enjoyable evening was spent in the great drawing-room. Of course
music constituted the chief source of pleasure. Fred brought his anthem
and glee books from the cabin of Silver Cloud, and the old walls of the
castle certainly seldom, if ever, rang with such music as was discoursed
there that night. The domestics had so far recovered from their fright
that they now crowded the adjoining hall to hear the singing. So
ravishing was the harmony to their semi-barbaric ears that, conjoined
with the marvelous manner of their coming among them, these poor
creatures were ready to fall down and worship them as heavenly
visitants. The Count himself seemed to enjoy the music exceedingly, and
encored long and loudly. When they separated for the night, he shook
hands cordially with each, and said:

"My good friends, I cannot sufficiently thank you for the pleasure you
have afforded me this evening. You may be sure that my invalid daughter
has enjoyed your delightful music. She desired that the door be opened
so that she has heard it all. She was an accomplished vocal and
instrumental musician before her illness. Perhaps she may feel well
enough to see you in the drawing-room to-morrow evening."

Turning then to Dr. Jones, he said: "Well, Doctor, whether it be your
medicine or music that has charmed away my pains, I do not know; but it
is certain that I have not been so free from suffering for a long time.
I bid you all a very good night."

After a consultation it was thought best that two should sleep aboard
Silver Cloud every night so long as the party remained with the Count.
So Will and Denison took upon themselves this duty, and immediately
repaired to the cabin for the night.





Next: Beauty And The Beast

Previous: Is The World Growing Better?



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