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The Government Joins The Picnickers

From: Doctor Jones' Picnic

Not many days later found our friends comfortably located in a hotel in
the national capital. The Doctor was quite well acquainted with the
representative from his congressional district, and was supplied with
letters of introduction from influential parties to members of both
houses. By a judicious use of these, they managed to obtain a hearing
before the scientific and geographical departments of the Smithsonian
Institute. So thoroughly had Dr. Jones and Mr. Marsh mastered the
details of the subject that they immediately made a favorable impression
upon that learned body. After some weeks spent in investigation, they
unanimously voted in favor of the project, and recommended that Congress
grant appropriations for that purpose.

After a certain amount of lobbying (in which, I am glad to say, No. 4's
services were not required), an amount in accordance with the
architect's estimates was passed by both houses, and duly signed by the
President. Nothing could exceed the joy and satisfaction of the four
friends. They now hurried to their homes and made arrangements for
permanently moving to Washington. A few weeks later, we find them
settled in a pleasant home in the capital, "a busy lot of happy cranks,"
as Mrs. Jones expressed it.

The building contract was awarded a Washington company, whose foundries
and shops are located upon the Potomac, adjacent to the city. The work
is being done under the general supervision of Marsh and the three
friends. It is not long before the vast scaffolding that is built up as
the long, slender, silver-like ribs of the aluminum framework are put in
place, begins to attract the attention of the surrounding populace. And
well it might, for as the beautiful globe began to assume shape,
certainly nothing so colossal of the kind had ever been seen before
upon earth. And as one stepped inside the mighty ball and looked up
through the vast network of aluminum rods and braces that ran in every
conceivable direction, looking like silken threads in the great
distances above, the feeling inspired was one of awe and unbounded

The work was pushed forward with all possible expedition. The summer
passed rapidly away. As winter drew near, a vast roof was built over the
globe, and all was securely shut in from the inclemencies of that
inhospitable season. All winter the hundreds of hammers, busily riveted
the sheets of aluminum and zinc into place, and by spring the globe, the
splendid creation that had existed in the brain of Dr. Jones, was an
actuality. Language is inadequate to describe the sensations of the
little company of promoters. They said but little, but would often stand
in a group, gaze upon it, then into each other's eyes, and smile and wag
their delighted heads.

The newspapers were not slow, meantime, in keeping the public informed
of all that could be learned of the unique enterprise. Reporters
besieged the projectors, in season and out. Our friends freely gave them
all possible information, and no little interest was excited all over
our great land. People came from every quarter of the Union, many from
Europe to see the mighty, glistening sphere. The crowds were so vast
that work was impeded, and it became necessary to restrict admission. A
nominal entrance fee was charged, but that only seemed to stimulate the
eager sightseers. So the public were, of necessity, finally entirely

Then the roof of the building was removed, and the whole structure
gradually, except so much of it as was absolutely necessary to maintain
the globe in position.

The cabin was attached to the bottom of the globe, forty feet square,
with ten feet between the floor and ceiling. It was divided off into
several bedrooms, sitting and dining-rooms, kitchen, smoking-room,
store-rooms, oil tanks, etc. In the center was a room, fifteen feet
square, that was called the engine-room. Everything that could be
thought of that could add to comfort had been supplied, always with
reference to compactness and weight. Not an ounce of superfluous weight
would the architect allow. He had calculated very carefully and knew to
a pound, almost, just what his great ship would carry, and how much
fuel would keep her afloat a certain number of hours. But the thing that
aroused the admiration of the public was the aluminum shaft that passed
from the floor of the cabin straight up through the center of the globe,
and extended on above it full ninety feet. And from this dizzy height,
floated "Old Glory," constructed of fine wire of that same beautiful,
evershining metal, aluminum. Round and round this splendid shaft, up
through the globe, wound a delicate stairway. From its top stair, one
stepped out into a small observatory, well supplied with windows upon
its four sides. The stairway was protected from the hot air of the
interior of the globe by a zinc coating, so that the mast and stairway
really passed up through the center of a zinc tube standing on end, and
about six feet in diameter.

Already it is an inspiring sight to stand in the observatory, situated
exactly upon the top of the sphere, and look away into the surrounding
country, up and down the Potomac, and over the lovely capital city. But
what will it be when suspended in the air, thousands of feet above terra

"Do you feel no fear, Maggie?" asked the Doctor, as they stood with
Marsh and Denison and looked from this great height.

"Not the slightest tremor," she replied, and she looked so brightly and
bravely into their faces that Denison said: "I really believe, Doctor,
that she will prove to be the best sailor of the lot."

"I wish we had a female companion for you, Maggie. I have a great mind
to advertise for one," said Dr. Jones.

"I beg you to do no such thing. She will be sure to be finical,
cowardly, or disagreeable in some way. And then such a host of all sorts
of creatures as would reply to your advertisement. We shall do very well
without her," replied Mrs. Jones.

"But I am sure it would be much pleasanter for you, Maggie. Don't you
know of a female acquaintance that you would like to have accompany
you?" persisted Dr. Jones.

"Well, let me think. If Mattie Bronson could go, it would afford me the
greatest pleasure."

"The very thing!" declared the Doctor in his usual emphatic way. "Mattie
is a lovely, brave, all-around nice girl. Let it be Mattie, by all

Denison and Marsh expressed their entire satisfaction with this

"I will write her immediately to come and visit us, and then I am sure
that we can prevail upon her to go with us," said Mrs. Jones.

They then descended the long, slender stairway, and returned to their

Next: Off On A Shoreless Sea

Previous: Mrs Jones Dictates Terms

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