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They Make Themselves At Home And Feel Quite Comfortable







From: All Around The Moon

This curious explanation given, and its soundness immediately
recognized, the three friends were soon fast wrapped in the arms of
Morpheus. Where in fact could they have found a spot more favorable for
undisturbed repose? On land, where the dwellings, whether in populous
city or lonely country, continually experience every shock that thrills
the Earth's crust? At sea, where between waves or winds or paddles or
screws or machinery, everything is tremor, quiver or jar? In the air,
where the balloon is incessantly twirling, oscillating, on account of
the ever varying strata of different densities, and even occasionally
threatening to spill you out? The Projectile alone, floating grandly
through the absolute void, in the midst of the profoundest silence,
could offer to its inmates the possibility of enjoying slumber the most
complete, repose the most profound.

There is no telling how long our three daring travellers would have
continued to enjoy their sleep, if it had not been suddenly terminated
by an unexpected noise about seven o'clock in the morning of December
2nd, eight hours after their departure.

This noise was most decidedly of barking.

"The dogs! It's the dogs!" cried Ardan, springing up at a bound.

"They must be hungry!" observed the Captain.

"We have forgotten the poor creatures!" cried Barbican.

"Where can they have gone to?" asked Ardan, looking for them in all
directions.

At last they found one of them hiding under the sofa. Thunderstruck and
perfectly bewildered by the terrible shock, the poor animal had kept
close in its hiding place, never daring to utter a sound, until at last
the pangs of hunger had proved too strong even for its fright.

They readily recognized the amiable Diana, but they could not allure the
shivering, whining animal from her retreat without a good deal of
coaxing. Ardan talked to her in his most honeyed and seductive accents,
while trying to pull her out by the neck.

"Come out to your friends, charming Diana," he went on, "come out, my
beauty, destined for a lofty niche in the temple of canine glory! Come
out, worthy scion of a race deemed worthy by the Egyptians to be a
companion of the great god, Anubis, by the Christians, to be a friend of
the good Saint Roch! Come out and partake of a glory before which the
stars of Montargis and of St. Bernard shall henceforward pale their
ineffectual fire! Come out, my lady, and let me think o'er the countless
multiplication of thy species, so that, while sailing through the
interplanetary spaces, we may indulge in endless flights of fancy on
the number and variety of thy descendants who will ere long render the
Selenitic atmosphere vocal with canine ululation!"



Diana, whether flattered or not, allowed herself to be dragged out,
still uttering short, plaintive whines. A hasty examination satisfying
her friends that she was more frightened than hurt and more hungry than
either, they continued their search for her companion.

"Satellite! Satellite! Step this way, sir!" cried Ardan. But no
Satellite appeared and, what was worse, not the slightest sound indicated
his presence. At last he was discovered on a ledge in the upper portion
of the Projectile, whither he had been shot by the terrible concussion.
Less fortunate than his female companion, the poor fellow had received a
frightful shock and his life was evidently in great danger.

"The acclimatization project looks shaky!" cried Ardan, handing the
animal very carefully and tenderly to the others. Poor Satellite's head
had been crushed against the roof, but, though recovery seemed hopeless,
they laid the body on a soft cushion, and soon had the satisfaction of
hearing it give vent to a slight sigh.

"Good!" said Ardan, "while there's life there's hope. You must not die
yet, old boy. We shall nurse you. We know our duty and shall not shirk
the responsibility. I should rather lose the right arm off my body than
be the cause of your death, poor Satellite! Try a little water?"

The suffering creature swallowed the cool draught with evident avidity,
then sunk into a deep slumber.

The friends, sitting around and having nothing more to do, looked out of
the window and began once more to watch the Earth and the Moon with
great attention. The glittering crescent of the Earth was evidently
narrower than it had been the preceding evening, but its volume was
still enormous when compared to the Lunar crescent, which was now
rapidly assuming the proportions of a perfect circle.

"By Jove," suddenly exclaimed Ardan, "why didn't we start at the moment
of Full Earth?--that is when our globe and the Sun were in opposition?"

"Why should we!" growled M'Nicholl.

"Because in that case we should be now looking at the great continents
and the great seas in a new light--the former glittering under the solar
rays, the latter darker and somewhat shaded, as we see them on certain
maps. How I should like to get a glimpse at those poles of the Earth, on
which the eye of man has never yet lighted!"

"True," replied Barbican, "but if the Earth had been Full, the Moon
would have been New, that is to say, invisible to us on account of solar
irradiation. Of the two it is much preferable to be able to keep the
point of arrival in view rather than the point of departure."

"You're right, Barbican," observed the Captain; "besides, once we're in
the Moon, the long Lunar night will give us plenty of time to gaze our
full at yonder great celestial body, our former home, and still
swarming with our fellow beings."

"Our fellow beings no longer, dear boy!" cried Ardan. "We inhabit a new
world peopled by ourselves alone, the Projectile! Ardan is Barbican's
fellow being, and Barbican M'Nicholl's. Beyond us, outside us, humanity
ends, and we are now the only inhabitants of this microcosm, and so we
shall continue till the moment when we become Selenites pure and
simple."

"Which shall be in about eighty-eight hours from now," replied the
Captain.

"Which is as much as to say--?" asked Ardan.

"That it is half past eight," replied M'Nicholl.

"My regular hour for breakfast," exclaimed Ardan, "and I don't see the
shadow of a reason for changing it now."

The proposition was most acceptable, especially to the Captain, who
frequently boasted that, whether on land or water, on mountain summits
or in the depths of mines, he had never missed a meal in all his life.
In escaping from the Earth, our travellers felt that they had by no
means escaped from the laws of humanity, and their stomachs now called
on them lustily to fill the aching void. Ardan, as a Frenchman, claimed
the post of chief cook, an important office, but his companions yielded
it with alacrity. The gas furnished the requisite heat, and the
provision chest supplied the materials for their first repast. They
commenced with three plates of excellent soup, extracted from Liebig's
precious tablets, prepared from the best beef that ever roamed over the
Pampas.

To this succeeded several tenderloin beefsteaks, which, though reduced
to a small bulk by the hydraulic engines of the American Dessicating
Company, were pronounced to be fully as tender, juicy and savory as if
they had just left the gridiron of a London Club House. Ardan even swore
that they were "bleeding," and the others were too busy to contradict
him.

Preserved vegetables of various kinds, "fresher than nature," according
to Ardan, gave an agreeable variety to the entertainment, and these were
followed by several cups of magnificent tea, unanimously allowed to be
the best they had ever tasted. It was an odoriferous young hyson
gathered that very year, and presented to the Emperor of Russia by the
famous rebel chief Yakub Kushbegi, and of which Alexander had expressed
himself as very happy in being able to send a few boxes to his friend,
the distinguished President of the Baltimore Gun Club. To crown the
meal, Ardan unearthed an exquisite bottle of Chambertin, and, in
glasses sparkling with the richest juice of the Cote d'or, the
travellers drank to the speedy union of the Earth and her satellite.

And, as if his work among the generous vineyards of Burgundy had not
been enough to show his interest in the matter, even the Sun wished to
join the party. Precisely at this moment, the Projectile beginning to
leave the conical shadow cast by the Earth, the rays of the glorious
King of Day struck its lower surface, not obliquely, but
perpendicularly, on account of the slight obliquity of the Moon's orbit
with that of the Earth.



"The Sun," cried Ardan.

"Of course," said Barbican, looking at his watch, "he's exactly up to
time."

"How is it that we see him only through the bottom light of our
Projectile?" asked Ardan.

"A moment's reflection must tell you," replied Barbican, "that when we
started last night, the Sun was almost directly below us; therefore, as
we continue to move in a straight line, he must still be in our rear."

"That's clear enough," said the Captain, "but another consideration, I'm
free to say, rather perplexes me. Since our Earth lies between us and
the Sun, why don't we see the sunlight forming a great ring around the
globe, in other words, instead of the full Sun that we plainly see there
below, why do we not witness an annular eclipse?"

"Your cool, clear head has not yet quite recovered from the shock, my
dear Captain;" replied Barbican, with a smile. "For two reasons we can't
see the ring eclipse: on account of the angle the Moon's orbit makes
with the Earth, the three bodies are not at present in a direct line;
we, therefore, see the Sun a little to the west of the earth; secondly,
even if they were exactly in a straight line, we should still be far
from the point whence an annular eclipse would be visible."

"That's true," said Ardan; "the cone of the Earth's shadow must extend
far beyond the Moon."

"Nearly four times as far," said Barbican; "still, as the Moon's orbit
and the Earth's do not lie in exactly the same plane, a Lunar eclipse
can occur only when the nodes coincide with the period of the Full Moon,
which is generally twice, never more than three times in a year. If we
had started about four days before the occurrence of a Lunar eclipse, we
should travel all the time in the dark. This would have been obnoxious
for many reasons."

"One, for instance?"

"An evident one is that, though at the present moment we are moving
through a vacuum, our Projectile, steeped in the solar rays, revels in
their light and heat. Hence great saving in gas, an important point in
our household economy."

In effect, the solar rays, tempered by no genial medium like our
atmosphere, soon began to glare and glow with such intensity, that the
Projectile under their influence, felt like suddenly passing from winter
to summer. Between the Moon overhead and the Sun beneath it was actually
inundated with fiery rays.

"One feels good here," cried the Captain, rubbing his hands.

"A little too good," cried Ardan. "It's already like a hot-house. With a
little garden clay, I could raise you a splendid crop of peas in
twenty-four hours. I hope in heaven the walls of our Projectile won't
melt like wax!"

"Don't be alarmed, dear friend," observed Barbican, quietly. "The
Projectile has seen the worst as far as heat is concerned; when tearing
through the atmosphere, she endured a temperature with which what she is
liable to at present stands no comparison. In fact, I should not be
astonished if, in the eyes of our friends at Stony Hill, it had
resembled for a moment or two a red-hot meteor."

"Poor Marston must have looked on us as roasted alive!" observed Ardan.

"What could have saved us I'm sure I can't tell," replied Barbican. "I
must acknowledge that against such a danger, I had made no provision
whatever."

"I knew all about it," said the Captain, "and on the strength of it, I
had laid my fifth wager."

"Probably," laughed Ardan, "there was not time enough to get grilled in:
I have heard of men who dipped their fingers into molten iron with
impunity."

Whilst Ardan and the Captain were arguing the point, Barbican began
busying himself in making everything as comfortable as if, instead of a
four days' journey, one of four years was contemplated. The reader, no
doubt, remembers that the floor of the Projectile contained about 50
square feet; that the chamber was nine feet high; that space was
economized as much as possible, nothing but the most absolute
necessities being admitted, of which each was kept strictly in its own
place; therefore, the travellers had room enough to move around in with
a certain liberty. The thick glass window in the floor was quite as
solid as any other part of it; but the Sun, streaming in from below,
lit up the Projectile strangely, producing some very singular and
startling effects of light appearing to come in by the wrong way.

The first thing now to be done was to see after the water cask and the
provision chest. They were not injured in the slightest respect, thanks
to the means taken to counteract the shock. The provisions were in good
condition, and abundant enough to supply the travellers for a whole
year--Barbican having taken care to be on the safe side, in case the
Projectile might land in a deserted region of the Moon. As for the water
and the other liquors, the travellers had enough only for two months.
Relying on the latest observations of astronomers, they had convinced
themselves that the Moon's atmosphere, being heavy, dense and thick in
the deep valleys, springs and streams of water could hardly fail to show
themselves there. During the journey, therefore, and for the first year
of their installation on the Lunar continent, the daring travellers
would be pretty safe from all danger of hunger or thirst.

The air supply proved also to be quite satisfactory. The Reiset and
Regnault apparatus for producing oxygen contained a supply of chlorate
of potash sufficient for two months. As the productive material had to
be maintained at a temperature of between 7 and 8 hundred degrees Fahr.,
a steady consumption of gas was required; but here too the supply far
exceeded the demand. The whole arrangement worked charmingly, requiring
only an odd glance now and then. The high temperature changing the
chlorate into a chloride, the oxygen was disengaged gradually but
abundantly, every eighteen pounds of chlorate of potash, furnishing the
seven pounds of oxygen necessary for the daily consumption of the
inmates of the Projectile.

Still--as the reader need hardly be reminded--it was not sufficient to
renew the exhausted oxygen; the complete purification of the air
required the absorption of the carbonic acid, exhaled from the lungs.
For nearly 12 hours the atmosphere had been gradually becoming more and
more charged with this deleterious gas, produced from the combustion of
the blood by the inspired oxygen. The Captain soon saw this, by noticing
with what difficulty Diana was panting. She even appeared to be
smothering, for the carbonic acid--as in the famous Grotto del Cane on
the banks of Lake Agnano, near Naples--was collecting like water on the
floor of the Projectile, on account of its great specific gravity. It
already threatened the poor dog's life, though not yet endangering that
of her masters. The Captain, seeing this state of things, hastily laid
on the floor one or two cups containing caustic potash and water, and
stirred the mixture gently: this substance, having a powerful affinity
for carbonic acid, greedily absorbed it, and after a few moments the air
was completely purified.

The others had begun by this time to check off the state of the
instruments. The thermometer and the barometer were all right, except
one self-recorder of which the glass had got broken. An excellent
aneroid barometer, taken safe and sound out of its wadded box, was
carefully hung on a hook in the wall. It marked not only the pressure of
the air in the Projectile, but also the quantity of the watery vapor
that it contained. The needle, oscillating a little beyond thirty,
pointed pretty steadily at "Fair."

The mariner's compasses were also found to be quite free from injury. It
is, of course, hardly necessary to say that the needles pointed in no
particular direction, the magnetic pole of the Earth being unable at
such a distance to exercise any appreciable influence on them. But when
brought to the Moon, it was expected that these compasses, once more
subjected to the influence of the current, would attest certain
phenomena. In any case, it would be interesting to verify if the Earth
and her satellite were similarly affected by the magnetic forces.

A hypsometer, or instrument for ascertaining the heights of the Lunar
mountains by the barometric pressure under which water boils, a sextant
to measure the altitude of the Sun, a theodolite for taking horizontal
or vertical angles, telescopes, of indispensable necessity when the
travellers should approach the Moon,--all these instruments, carefully
examined, were found to be still in perfect working order,
notwithstanding the violence of the terrible shock at the start.

As to the picks, spades, and other tools that had been carefully
selected by the Captain; also the bags of various kinds of grain and
the bundles of various kinds of shrubs, which Ardan expected to
transplant to the Lunar plains--they were all still safe in their places
around the upper corners of the Projectile.

Some other articles were also up there which evidently possessed great
interest for the Frenchman. What they were nobody else seemed to know,
and he seemed to be in no hurry to tell. Every now and then, he would
climb up, by means of iron pins fixed in the wall, to inspect his
treasures; whatever they were, he arranged them and rearranged them with
evident pleasure, and as he rapidly passed a careful hand through
certain mysterious boxes, he joyfully sang in the falsest possible of
false voices the lively piece from Nicolo:

Le temps est beau, la route est belle,
La promenade est un plaisir.

{The day is bright, our hearts are light.}
{How sweet to rove through wood and dell.}

or the well known air in Mignon:

Legeres hirondelles,
Oiseaux benis de Dieu,
Ouvrez-ouvrez vos ailes,
Envolez-vous! adieu!

{Farewell, happy Swallows, farewell!}
{With summer for ever to dwell}
{Ye leave our northern strand}
{For the genial southern land}
{Balmy with breezes bland.}
{Return? Ah, who can tell?}
{Farewell, happy Swallows, farewell!}

Barbican was much gratified to find that his rockets and other fireworks
had not received the least injury. He relied upon them for the
performance of a very important service as soon as the Projectile,
having passed the point of neutral attraction between the Earth and the
Moon, would begin to fall with accelerated velocity towards the Lunar
surface. This descent, though--thanks to the respective volumes of the
attracting bodies--six times less rapid than it would have been on the
surface of the Earth, would still be violent enough to dash the
Projectile into a thousand pieces. But Barbican confidently expected by
means of his powerful rockets to offer very considerable obstruction to
the violence of this fall, if not to counteract its terrible effects
altogether.

The inspection having thus given general satisfaction, the travellers
once more set themselves to watching external space through the lights
in the sides and the floor of the Projectile.

Everything still appeared to be in the same state as before. Nothing was
changed. The vast arch of the celestial dome glittered with stars, and
constellations blazed with a light clear and pure enough to throw an
astronomer into an ecstasy of admiration. Below them shone the Sun, like
the mouth of a white-hot furnace, his dazzling disc defined sharply on
the pitch-black back-ground of the sky. Above them the Moon, reflecting
back his rays from her glowing surface, appeared to stand motionless in
the midst of the starry host.

A little to the east of the Sun, they could see a pretty large dark
spot, like a hole in the sky, the broad silver fringe on one edge fading
off into a faint glimmering mist on the other--it was the Earth. Here
and there in all directions, nebulous masses gleamed like large flakes
of star dust, in which, from nadir to zenith, the eye could trace
without a break that vast ring of impalpable star powder, the famous
Milky Way, through the midst of which the beams of our glorious Sun
struggle with the dusky pallor of a star of only the fourth magnitude.

Our observers were never weary of gazing on this magnificent and novel
spectacle, of the grandeur of which, it is hardly necessary to say, no
description can give an adequate idea. What profound reflections it
suggested to their understandings! What vivid emotions it enkindled in
their imaginations! Barbican, desirous of commenting the story of the
journey while still influenced by these inspiring impressions, noted
carefully hour by hour every fact that signalized the beginning of his
enterprise. He wrote out his notes very carefully and systematically,
his round full hand, as business-like as ever, never betraying the
slightest emotion.

The Captain was quite as busy, but in a different way. Pulling out his
tablets, he reviewed his calculations regarding the motion of
projectiles, their velocities, ranges and paths, their retardations and
their accelerations, jotting down the figures with a rapidity wonderful
to behold. Ardan neither wrote nor calculated, but kept up an incessant
fire of small talk, now with Barbican, who hardly ever answered him,
now with M'Nicholl, who never heard him, occasionally with Diana, who
never understood him, but oftenest with himself, because, as he said, he
liked not only to talk to a sensible man but also to hear what a
sensible man had to say. He never stood still for a moment, but kept
"bobbing around" with the effervescent briskness of a bee, at one time
roosting at the top of the ladder, at another peering through the floor
light, now to the right, then to the left, always humming scraps from
the Opera Bouffe, but never changing the air. In the small space which
was then a whole world to the travellers, he represented to the life the
animation and loquacity of the French, and I need hardly say he played
his part to perfection.

The eventful day, or, to speak more correctly, the space of twelve hours
which with us forms a day, ended for our travellers with an abundant
supper, exquisitely cooked. It was highly enjoyed.

No incident had yet occurred of a nature calculated to shake their
confidence. Apprehending none therefore, full of hope rather and already
certain of success, they were soon lost in a peaceful slumber, whilst
the Projectile, moving rapidly, though with a velocity uniformly
retarding, still cleaved its way through the pathless regions of the
empyrean.





Next: A Chapter For The Cornell Girls

Previous: The First Half Hour



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