At last the preparations were completed, and it was arranged that

the Callisto should begin its journey at eleven o'clock A. M.,

December 21st--the northern hemisphere's shortest day.

Though six months' operations could hardly be expected to have

produced much change in the inclination of the earth's axis, the

autumn held on wonderfully, and December was pronounced very

mild. Fully a million people we
e in and about Van Cortlandt

Park hours before the time announced for the start, and those

near looked inquiringly at the trim little air-ship, that, having

done well on the trial trip, rested on her longitudinal and

transverse keels, with a battery of chemicals alongside, to make

sure of a full power supply.

The President and his Cabinet--including, of course, the shining

lights of the State and Navy Departments--came from Washington.

These, together with Mr. and Mrs. Preston, and a number of people

with passes, occupied seats arranged at the sides of the

platform; while sightseers and scientists assembled from every

part of the world.

"There's a ship for you!" said Secretary Stillman to the

Secretary of the Navy. "She'll not have to be dry-docked for

barnacles, neither will the least breeze make the passengers


"That's all you landlubbers think of," replied Deepwaters. "I

remember one of the kings over in Europe said to me, as he

introduced me to the queen: 'Your Secretary of State is a great

man, but why does he always part his hair in the middle?'

"'So that it shall not turn his head,' I replied.

"'But with so gallant and handsome an officer as you to lean

upon,' he answered, 'I should think he could look down on all the

world.' Whereupon I asked him what he'd take to drink."

"Your apology is accepted," replied Secretary Stillman.

Cortlandt also came from Washington, where, as chief of the

Government's Expert Examiners Board, he had temporary quarters.

Bearwarden sailed over the spectators' heads in one of the

Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company's flying machines, while

Ayrault, to avoid the crowd, had come to the Callisto early, and

was showing the interior arrangements to Sylvia, who had

accompanied him. She was somewhat piqued because at the last

moment he had not absolutely insisted on carrying her off, or

offered, if necessary, to displace his presidential and

Doctor-of-Laws friends in order to make room.

"You will have an ideal trip," she said, looking over some

astronomical star-charts and photographic maps of Jupiter and

Saturn that lay on the table, with a pair of compasses, "and I

hope you won't lose your way."

"I shall need no compass to find my way back," replied Ayrault,

"if I ever succeed in leaving this planet; neither will

star-charts be necessary, for you will be a magnet stronger than

any compass, and, compared with my star, all others are dim."

"You should write a book," said Sylvia, "and put some of those

things in it." She was wearing a bunch of forget-me-nots and

violets that she had cut from a small flower-garden of potted

plants Ayrault had sent her, which she had placed in her father's


At this moment the small chime clock set in the Callisto's

wood-work rang out quarter to eleven. As the sounds died away,

Sylvia became very pale, and began to regret in her womanly way

that she had allowed her hero to attempt this experiment.

"Oh," she said, clinging to his arm, "it was very wrong of me to

let you begin this. I was so dazzled by the splendour of your

scheme when I heard it, and so anxious that you should have the

glory of being the first to surpass Columbus, that I did not

realize the full meaning. I thought, also, you seemed rather

ready to leave me," she added gently, "and so said little; you do

not know how it almost breaks my heart now that I am about to

lose you. It was quixotic to let you undertake this journey."

"An undertaker would have given me his kind offices for one even

longer, had I remained here," replied Ayrault. "I cannot live in

this humdrum world without you. The most sustained excitement

cannot even palliate what seems to me like unrequited love."

"O Dick!" she exclaimed, giving him a reproachful glance, "you

mustn't say that. You know you have often told me my reason for

staying and taking my degree was good. My lot will be very much

harder than yours, for you will forget me in the excitement of

discovery and adventure; but I--what can I do in the midst of all

the old associations?"

"Never mind, sweetheart," he said, kissing her hand, "I have

seemed on the verge of despair all the time."

Seeing that their separation must shortly begin, Ayrault tried to

assume a cheerful look; but as Sylvia turned her eyes away they

were suspiciously moist.

Just one minute before the starting-time Ayrault took Sylvia back

to her mother, and, after pressing her hand and having one last

long look into her--or, as he considered them, HIS--deep-sea

eyes, he returned to the Callisto, and was standing at the foot

of the telescopic aluminum ladder when his friends arrived. As

all baggage and impedimenta bad been sent aboard and properly

stowed the day before, the travellers had not to do but climb to

and enter by the second-story window. It distressed Bearwarden

that the north pole's exact declination on the 21st day of

December, when the axis was most inclined, could not be figured

out by the hour at which they were to start, so as to show what

change, if any, had already been brought about, but the

astronomers were working industriously, and promised that, if it

were finished by midnight, they would telegraph the result into

space by flash-light code.

Raising his hat to his fiancee and his prospective

parents-in-law, Ayrault followed them up. To draw in and fold

the ladder was but the work of a moment. As the clocks in the

neighbouring steeples began to strike eleven, Ayrault touched the

switch that would correspond to the throttle of an engine, and

the motors began to work at rapidly increasing speed. Slowly the

Callisto left her resting-place as a Galatea might her pedestal,

only, instead of coming down, she rose still higher.

A large American flag hanging from the window, which, as they

started, fluttered as in a southern zephyr, soon began to flap as

in a stiff breeze as the car's speed increased. With a final

wave, at which a battery of twenty-one field-pieces made the air

ring with a salute, and the multitude raised a mighty cheer, they

drew it in and closed the window, sealing it hermetically in

order to keep in the air that, had an opening remained, would

soon have become rarefied.

Sylvia had waved her handkerchief with the utmost enthusiasm, in

spite of the sadness at her heart. But she now had other use for

it in trying to hide her tears. The Callisto was still going

straight up, with a speed already as great as a cannon ball's,

and was almost out of sight. The multitude then began to

disperse, and Sylvia returned to her home.

Let us now follow the Callisto. The earth and Jupiter not being

exactly in opposition, as they would be if the sun, the earth,

and Jupiter were in line, with the earth between the two, but

rather as shown in the diagram, the Callisto's journey was

considerably more than 380,000,000 miles, the mean opposition

distance. As they wished to start by daylight--i. e., from the

side of the earth turned towards the sun--they could not steer

immediately for Jupiter, but were obliged to go a few hundred

miles in the direction of the sun, then change their course to

something like a tangent to the earth, and get their final right

direction in swinging near the moon, since they must be

comparatively near some material object to bring apergy into


The maximum power being turned on, the projectile shot from the

earth with tremendous and rapidly increasing speed, by the

shortest course--i. e., a straight line--so that for the present

it was not necessary to steer. Until beyond the limits of the

atmosphere they kept the greatest apergetic repulsion focused on

the upper part of their cylinder, so that its point went first,

and they encountered least possible resistance. Looking through

the floor windows, therefore, the travellers had a most superb

view. The air being clear, the eastern border of North America

and the Atlantic were outlined as on a map, the blue of the ocean

and brownish colour of the land, with white snow- patches on the

elevations, being very marked. The Hudson and the Sound appeared

as clearly defined blue ribbons, and between and around the two

they could see New York. They also saw the ocean dotted for

miles with points in which they recognized the marine spiders and

cruisers of the North Atlantic squadron, and the ships on the

home station, which they knew were watching them through their


"I see," said Cortlandt, "that Deepwaters has been as good as his

word, and has his ships on the watch to rescue us in case we


"Yes," replied Bearwarden, "he is the right sort. When he gave

that promise I knew his men would be there."

They soon perceived that they had reached the void of space, for,

though the sun blazed with a splendour they had never before

seen, the firmament was intensely black, and the stars shone as

at midnight. Here they began to change their course to a curve

beginning with a spiral, by charging the Callisto apergetically,

and directing the current towards the moon, to act as an aid to

the lunar attraction, while still allowing the earth to repel,

and their motion gradually became the resultant of the two

forces, the change from a straight line being so gradual,

however, that for some minutes they scarcely perceived it. The

coronal streamers about the sun, such as are visible on earth

during a total eclipse, shone with a halo against the

ultra-Cimmerian background, bursting forth to a height of twenty

or thirty thousand miles above the surface in vast cyclonic

storms, producing so rapid a motion that a column of incandescent

gas may move ten thousand miles in less than ten minutes.

Whether these great streaks were in part electrical phenomena

similar to the aurora borealis, or entirely of intensely heated

material thrown up by explosions within the sun's mass, they

could not tell even from their point of vantage.

"I believe," said Cortlandt, pointing to the streamers, "that

they are masses of gas thrown beyond the sun's atmosphere, which

expand enormously when the pressure to which they are subjected

in the sun is removed--for only in space freed from resistance

could they move at such velocities, and that their brilliancy is

increased by great electrical disturbance. If they were entirely

the play of electrical forces, their change of place would be

practically instantaneous, which, however rapid their movement,

is not the case."