Mrs Jones Offers Some Objections
From: Doctor Jones' Picnic
But Dr. Jones met great opposition in a quarter that was not so easily
disposed of. He had a wife. Mrs. Jones was a very intelligent and lovely
woman, younger by some fifteen years than the Doctor. She must be
consulted. He broached the subject very cautiously, now and then
expatiating upon the extreme ease and comfort with which the trip to the
North Pole might be made. He bought histories of the many Arctic
explorations, and read them aloud to her. At first she listened
indifferently, not dreaming for a moment that the Doctor was burning
with a desire to become an Arctic explorer. Day after day he enlarged
and dilated upon his plan. Denison often dropped in of an evening, and
the conversation invariably drifted into the old topic, the aluminum
globe and the trip to the North Pole.
One evening the architect, Mr. Marsh, with a large paper roll in his
hand, came with Denison to the Doctor's residence. After the usual
greetings the Doctor said, "Mrs. Jones, I think we will take possession
of the dining-room, as we wish to use the table. Come in with us, for I
am sure that you are greatly interested in the business we have on hand
Mrs. Jones good-naturedly complied, and sat engaged with some knitting,
while the roll brought by the architect was spread upon the table, and
weights laid upon its corners. The two schemers gave a cry of delight as
a truly magnificent sketch of the globe unfolded before their eyes.
Floating in the firmament, thousands of feet above the earth, with a
panoramic view of forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and hill elevations,
fruitful valleys thickly dotted with towns, villages, farms, little
specks that represented houses, green fields, etc., fading away into
indistinctness in the far distances of the horizon, all done with such
patient and faithful regard for detail and artistic appreciation of
color and perspective, that Mrs. Jones joined in the chorus of
expressions of unqualified admiration. It was done in water colors, and
the enraptured Doctor seized one end of it and cried: "Take hold of one
end, Denison, and help me hold it up against the wall. There, Maggie!
Denison! Did you ever see anything so absolutely beautiful?"
They declared that they never had. The artist, meantime, stood with
flushed cheek, his arms folded across his breast, modest and quiet.
"Get tacks and a hammer, Maggie, and we'll fasten it to the wall; then
we can all sit and enjoy this glorious panorama."
The painting was quickly tacked up in a position for inspection, and all
sat admiringly before it.
"By the way, Mr. Marsh, you must have done something in the line of
aeronautism, or you never could have made that painting," observed the
"No, Doctor, I have never made any balloon ascensions, but I have
climbed many mountains, both in Europe and America, and have made
numerous sketches from vast elevations. I have simply drawn upon these
for my material, and in this painting you have a blending of several of
them. Of course, I have taxed my imagination to some extent. The central
object, the globe, air-ship, or whatever you may be pleased to call it,
is your own conception, or my conception of your idea."
"Well, I am more than pleased with your work. Your execution has so far
transcended my idea that I take no credit at all in this instance. But
now we must never rest until we have materialized this splendid
So they sat admiring and chatting over the painting some little time.
"Well, Marsh, have you anything more to show us to-night?" asked
"Yes," he replied, "I have some figures and data that I received from
the city a day or two since."
Drawing their chairs about the table, Mr. Marsh read from a small
memorandum-book estimate prices of materials, amount and weight of same,
cost of labor, and finally what he deemed to be the approximate cost of
the globe complete, furnished and equipped for a one year's voyage.
"I have some suggestions to offer, Doctor. You spoke of having three
skins or envelopes of aluminum, with air chambers between them that
would prevent the radiation of heat. Now, I think that we can do better
than that, though without doubt your idea is practical and would answer
the purpose; yet I have a plan to offer that will dispense with one
envelope, and will more effectually conserve heat. Zinc is the best
nonconductor of heat that I know of. One thin layer of this metal within
a few inches of the external covering of aluminum will serve you a much
better purpose and will greatly reduce the cost of construction."
This suggestion met with the immediate approval of the Doctor and
Denison. They talked and planned until quite a late hour. After the
departure of the two men Mrs. Jones said:
"Are you seriously thinking of going into this wild scheme, Doctor?"
"Well, Maggie, what do you think of it? Don't you see how perfectly
feasible and beautiful it is?"
"Why, so far as I know, it may do well enough. But how can you do
anything with it, and what good would it do you if you could?"
"My dear Maggie! How can you ask such a question! Think of the glory of
accomplishing that which has defeated some of the best and bravest men
that the world has ever produced. And think of the importance this
accomplishment might be to science. Is the undying fame that would
attach to such a deed to be lightly esteemed? Oh, my dear wife! you know
how steadily and conscientiously I have labored all these years. More
than a quarter of a century have I devoted to the care of the sick, with
scarcely a moment's recreation. The time has come when I feel that I
must take a vacation. Further than this, I feel that I can do the world
greater service with my idea of reaching the North Pole, besides
settling a question as to the possibility of aerial navigation for long
distances. How can I better spend a year or so than in the promotion of
this idea? Be a good, brave little wife, as you always have been, and
don't oppose me in this thing upon which my heart is set."
"And who is to sail this great balloon, or air-ship?"
"Well, as the Dutch captain said when the harbor inspector asked 'Who is
the captain of this ship?' 'I ish de feller!'"
With these words he assumed a melodramatic attitude. But Mrs. Jones was
not to be won by any facetiae, and walked up to him, placing her hands
upon his shoulders, said: "Do you think for one moment that I will ever
consent to your going off on so fearfully perilous an expedition as
this? How I should feel to see you sail off into the blue sky, with an
almost absolute certainty of never seeing you again! I should go insane.
What would my days and nights be, even though you went and returned in
all the safety you anticipate? I should go insane in less than a week
with anxiety. Do as you please so far as promoting the construction of
the globe is concerned, but never will I consent to your going in it."
"Maggie, Maggie, don't be so foolish. I do not intend going until I have
perfectly satisfied you that I am not more safe in our home than I
should be in our great ship."
"All right!" she cried. "You are not to go, then, until I freely
"O, hold on!" he answered. "Don't construe me so ungenerously. I only
said that I would first convince you of my safety."
"That you can never do, and you may as well give it up. It cannot be a
safe undertaking. It makes me faint to even think of it. Just imagine
yourself in that cabin now," pointing to Marsh's painting that still
hung upon the wall.
"I wish to heaven I was," growled the Doctor.
"I just won't hear another word of it!" and she flounced out of the room
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