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Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica, economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore automatico interattivo FGA Translate

  1. Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
  2. Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
  3. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
  4. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
  5. Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
  6. Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
  7. Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
  8. Anonimo - BEOWULF
  9. Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
  10. Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
  11. Austen, Jane - EMMA
  12. Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
  13. Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
  14. Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
  15. Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  16. Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
  17. Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
  18. Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
  19. Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
  20. Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
  21. Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
  22. Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
  23. Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
  24. Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
  25. Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
  26. Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
  27. Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
  28. Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
  29. Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
  30. Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
  31. Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
  32. Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
  33. Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
  34. Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
  35. Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
  36. Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
  37. Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
  38. Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
  39. Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
  40. Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
  41. Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
  42. Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
  43. Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  44. Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
  45. Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
  46. Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
  47. Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
  48. Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
  49. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
  50. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
  51. Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
  52. Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
  53. Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
  54. Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
  55. Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
  56. Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
  57. Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
  58. Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
  59. Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
  60. Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
  61. Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
  62. Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  63. Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY OF LIFE
  64. Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
  65. Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
  66. Collodi - PINOCCHIO
  67. Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
  68. Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  69. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
  70. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  71. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
  72. Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
  73. Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
  74. Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
  75. Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
  76. Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
  77. Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
  78. Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
  79. Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
  80. Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
  81. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
  82. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
  83. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
  84. Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
  85. Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
  86. Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
  87. Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
  88. Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
  89. Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
  90. Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
  91. Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
  92. Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
  93. Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
  94. Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
  95. Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
  96. Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
  97. Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
  98. Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
  99. Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
  100. Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
  101. Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
  102. Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
  103. Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
  104. Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
  105. Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
  106. Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
  107. Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
  108. Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
  109. Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
  110. Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
  111. Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
  112. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
  113. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
  114. Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
  115. Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
  116. Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
  117. Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
  118. Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
  119. Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
  120. Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
  121. Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
  122. Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
  123. Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  124. Esopo - FABLES
  125. Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
  126. Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
  127. France, Anatole - THAIS
  128. France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
  129. France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
  130. France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
  131. Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
  132. Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
  133. Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  134. Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
  135. Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
  136. Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
  137. Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
  138. Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
  139. Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
  140. Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
  141. Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
  142. Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
  143. Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
  144. Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
  145. Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
  146. Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
  147. Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
  148. Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
  149. Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
  150. Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
  151. Goethe - FAUST
  152. Gogol - DEAD SOULS
  153. Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
  154. Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
  155. Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
  156. Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
  157. Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
  158. Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
  159. Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
  160. Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
  161. Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
  162. Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
  163. Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
  164. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
  165. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
  166. Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
  167. Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
  168. Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
  169. Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
  170. Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
  171. Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
  172. Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
  173. Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
  174. Homer - THE ILIAD
  175. Homer - THE ODYSSEY
  176. Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
  177. Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
  178. Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
  179. Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
  180. Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
  181. Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
  182. Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
  183. Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
  184. Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
  185. Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
  186. Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
  187. Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
  188. Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
  189. Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
  190. James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
  191. James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
  192. James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
  193. James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
  194. James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
  195. James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
  196. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
  197. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
  198. Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
  199. Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
  200. Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
  201. Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
  202. Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
  203. Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
  204. Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
  205. Joyce, James - ULYSSES
  206. Keats, John - ENDYMION
  207. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
  208. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
  209. King James - THE BIBLE
  210. Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
  211. Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
  212. Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
  213. Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
  214. Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
  215. Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
  216. Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
  217. Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
  218. Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
  219. Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
  220. Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
  221. Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
  222. Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
  223. Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
  224. Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
  225. Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
  226. Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
  227. Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
  228. Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
  229. Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
  230. Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
  231. Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
  232. Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
  233. Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
  234. Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
  235. Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
  236. Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
  237. London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
  238. London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
  239. London, Jack - WHITE FANG
  240. Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
  241. Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
  242. Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
  243. Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
  244. Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
  245. Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
  246. Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
  247. Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
  248. Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
  249. Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
  250. Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
  251. Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
  252. Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
  253. More, Thomas - UTOPIA
  254. Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
  255. Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
  256. Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
  257. Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
  258. Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
  259. Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
  260. Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
  261. Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
  262. Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
  263. Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
  264. Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
  265. Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
  266. Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
  267. Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
  268. Plato - THE REPUBLIC
  269. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
  270. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
  271. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
  272. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
  273. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
  274. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
  275. Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
  276. Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
  277. Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
  278. Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
  279. Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
  280. Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
  281. Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
  282. Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
  283. Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
  284. Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
  285. Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
  286. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
  287. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
  288. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
  289. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
  290. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
  291. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
  292. Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
  293. Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
  294. Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
  295. Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
  296. Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
  297. Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
  298. Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
  299. Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
  300. Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
  301. Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
  302. Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
  303. Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
  304. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
  305. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  306. Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
  307. Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
  308. Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
  309. Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
  310. Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
  311. Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
  312. Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
  313. Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
  314. Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
  315. Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
  316. Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
  317. Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
  318. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
  319. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
  320. Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
  321. Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
  322. Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
  323. Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
  324. Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
  325. Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
  326. Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
  327. Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
  328. Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
  329. Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
  330. Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
  331. Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
  332. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
  333. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
  334. Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
  335. Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
  336. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
  337. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
  338. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
  339. Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
  340. Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
  341. Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
  342. Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
  343. Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  344. Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
  345. Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
  346. Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
  347. Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
  348. Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
  349. Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
  350. Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
  351. Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
  352. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
  353. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
  354. Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
  355. Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
  356. Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
  357. Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
  358. Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
  359. Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
  360. Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
  361. Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
  362. Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
  363. Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
  364. Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
  365. Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
  366. Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
  367. Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
  368. Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
  369. Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
  370. Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
  371. Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
  372. Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
  373. Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
  374. Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
  375. Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
  376. Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
  377. Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
  378. Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
  379. Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
  380. White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
  381. Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
  382. Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
  383. Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
  384. Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
  385. Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
  386. Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
  387. Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
  388. Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
  389. Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
  390. Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
  391. Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
  392. Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
  393. Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
  394. Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
  395. Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
  396. Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
  397. Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
  398. Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
  399. Wordsworth, William - POEMS
  400. Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
  401. Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN

 




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Jules Verne
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ALL AROUND THE MOON

BY JULES VERNE

PRELIMINARY CHAPTER,

RESUMING THE FIRST PART OF THE WORK AND SERVING AS AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND.

A few years ago the world was suddenly astounded by hearing of an experiment of a most novel and daring nature, altogether unprecedented in the annals of science. The BALTIMORE GUN CLUB, a society of artillerymen started in America during the great Civil War, had conceived the idea of nothing less than establishing direct communication with the Moon by means of a projectile! President Barbican, the originator of the enterprise, was strongly encouraged in its feasibility by the astronomers of Cambridge Observatory, and took upon himself to provide all the means necessary to secure its success. Having realized by means of a public subscription the sum of nearly five and a half millions of dollars, he immediately set himself to work at the necessary gigantic labors.

In accordance with the Cambridge men's note, the cannon intended to discharge the projectile was to be planted in some country not further than 28° north or south from the equator, so that it might be aimed vertically at the Moon in the zenith. The bullet was to be animated with an initial velocity of 12,000 yards to the second. It was to be fired off on the night of December 1st, at thirteen minutes and twenty seconds before eleven o'clock, precisely. Four days afterwards it was to hit the Moon, at the very moment that she reached her "perigee", that is to say, her nearest point to the Earth, about 228,000 miles distant.

The leading members of the Club, namely President Barbican, Secretary Marston, Major Elphinstone and General Morgan, forming the executive committee, held several meetings to discuss the shape and material of the bullet, the nature and position of the cannon, and the quantity and quality of the powder. The decision soon arrived at was as follows: 1st--The bullet was to be a hollow aluminium shell, its diameter nine feet, its walls a foot in thickness, and its weight 19,250 pounds; 2nd--The cannon was to be a columbiad 900 feet in length, a well of that depth forming the vertical mould in which it was to be cast, and 3rd--The powder was to be 400 thousand pounds of gun cotton, which, by developing more than 200 thousand millions of cubic feet of gas under the projectile, would easily send it as far as our satellite.

These questions settled, Barbican, aided by Murphy, the Chief Engineer of the Cold Spring Iron Works, selected a spot in Florida, near the 27th degree north latitude, called Stony Hill, where after the performance of many wonderful feats in mining engineering, the Columbiad was successfully cast.

Things had reached this state when an incident occurred which excited the general interest a hundred fold.

A Frenchman from Paris, Michel Ardan by name, eccentric, but keen and shrewd as well as daring, demanded, by the Atlantic telegraph, permission to be enclosed in the bullet so that he might be carried to the Moon, where he was curious to make certain investigations. Received in America with great enthusiasm, Ardan held a great meeting, triumphantly carried his point, reconciled Barbican to his mortal foe, a certain Captain M'Nicholl, and even, by way of clinching the reconciliation, induced both the newly made friends to join him in his contemplated trip to the Moon.

The bullet, so modified as to become a hollow conical cylinder with plenty of room inside, was further provided with powerful water-springs and readily-ruptured partitions below the floor, intended to deaden the dreadful concussion sure to accompany the start. It was supplied with provisions for a year, water for a few months, and gas for nearly two weeks. A self-acting apparatus, of ingenious construction, kept the confined atmosphere sweet and healthy by manufacturing pure oxygen and absorbing carbonic acid. Finally, the Gun Club had constructed, at enormous expense, a gigantic telescope, which, from the summit of Long's Peak, could pursue the Projectile as it winged its way through the regions of space. Everything at last was ready.

On December 1st, at the appointed moment, in the midst of an immense concourse of spectators, the departure took place, and, for the first time in the world's history, three human beings quitted our terrestrial globe with some possibility in their favor of finally reaching a point of destination in the inter-planetary spaces. They expected to accomplish their journey in 97 hours, 13 minutes and 20 seconds, consequently reaching the Lunar surface precisely at midnight on December 5-6, the exact moment when the Moon would be full.

Unfortunately, the instantaneous explosion of such a vast quantity of gun-cotton, by giving rise to a violent commotion in the atmosphere, generated so much vapor and mist as to render the Moon invisible for several nights to the innumerable watchers in the Western Hemisphere, who vainly tried to catch sight of her.

In the meantime, J.T. Marston, the Secretary of the Gun Club, and a most devoted friend of Barbican's, had started for Long's Peak, Colorado, on the summit of which the immense telescope, already alluded to, had been erected; it was of the reflecting kind, and possessed power sufficient to bring the Moon within a distance of five miles. While Marston was prosecuting his long journey with all possible speed, Professor Belfast, who had charge of the telescope, was endeavoring to catch a glimpse of the Projectile, but for a long time with no success. The hazy, cloudy weather lasted for more than a week, to the great disgust of the public at large. People even began to fear that further observation would have to be deferred to the 3d of the following month, January, as during the latter half of December the waning Moon could not possibly give light enough to render the Projectile visible.

At last, however, to the unbounded satisfaction of all, a violent tempest suddenly cleared the sky, and on the 13th of December, shortly after midnight, the Moon, verging towards her last quarter, revealed herself sharp and bright on the dark background of the starry firmament.

That same morning, a few hours before Marston's arrival at the summit of Long's Peak, a very remarkable telegram had been dispatched by Professor Belfast to the Smithsonian Institute, Washington. It announced:

That on December 13th, at 2 o'clock in the morning, the Projectile shot from Stony Hill had been perceived by Professor Belfast and his assistants; that, deflected a little from its course by some unknown cause, it had not reached its mark, though it had approached near enough to be affected by the Lunar attraction; and that, its rectilineal motion having become circular, it should henceforth continue to describe a regular orbit around the Moon, of which in fact it had become the Satellite. The dispatch went on further to state:

That the "elements" of the new heavenly body had not yet been calculated, as at least three different observations, taken at different times, were necessary to determine them. The distance of the Projectile from the Lunar surface, however, might be set down roughly at roughly 2833 miles.

The dispatch concluded with the following hypotheses, positively pronounced to be the only two possible: Either, 1, The Lunar attraction would finally prevail, in which case the travellers would reach their destination; or 2, The Projectile, kept whirling forever in an immutable orbit, would go on revolving around the Moon till time should be no more.

In either alternative, what should be the lot of the daring adventurers? They had, it is true, abundant provisions to last them for some time, but even supposing that they did reach the Moon and thereby completely establish the practicability of their daring enterprise, how were they ever to get back? "Could" they ever get back? or ever even be heard from? Questions of this nature, freely discussed by the ablest pens of the day, kept the public mind in a very restless and excited condition.

We must be pardoned here for making a little remark which, however, astronomers and other scientific men of sanguine temperament would do well to ponder over. An observer cannot be too cautious in announcing to the public his discovery when it is of a nature purely speculative. Nobody is obliged to discover a planet, or a comet, or even a satellite, but, before announcing to the world that you have made such a discovery, first make sure that such is really the fact. Because, you know, should it afterwards come out that you have done nothing of the kind, you make yourself a butt for the stupid jokes of the lowest newspaper scribblers. Belfast had never thought of this. Impelled by his irrepressible rage for discovery--the "furor inveniendi" ascribed to all astronomers by Aurelius Priscus--he had therefore been guilty of an indiscretion highly un-scientific when his famous telegram, launched to the world at large from the summit of the Rocky Mountains, pronounced so dogmatically on the only possible issues of the great enterprise.

The truth was that his telegram contained "two" very important errors: 1. Error of "observation", as facts afterwards proved; the Projectile "was" not seen on the 13th and "could" not have been on that day, so that the little black spot which Belfast professed to have seen was most certainly not the Projectile; 2. Error of "theory" regarding the final fate of the Projectile, since to make it become the Moon's satellite was flying in the face of one of the great fundamental laws of Theoretical Mechanics.

Only one, therefore, the first, of the hypotheses so positively announced, was capable of realization. The travellers--that is to say if they still lived--might so combine and unite their own efforts with those of the Lunar attraction as actually to succeed at last in reaching the Moon's surface.

Now the travellers, those daring but cool-headed men who knew very well what they were about, "did" still live, they "had" survived the frightful concussion of the start, and it is to the faithful record of their wonderful trip in the bullet-car, with all its singular and dramatic details, that the present volume is devoted. The story may destroy many illusions, prejudices and conjectures; but it will at least give correct ideas of the strange incidents to which such an enterprise is exposed, and it will certainly bring out in strong colors the effects of Barbican's scientific conceptions, M'Nicholl's mechanical resources, and Ardan's daring, eccentric, but brilliant and effective combinations.

Besides, it will show that J.T. Marston, their faithful friend and a man every way worthy of the friendship of such men, was only losing his time while mirroring the Moon in the speculum of the gigantic telescope on that lofty peak of the mountains.

CHAPTER I.

FROM 10 P.M. TO 10 46' 40''.

The moment that the great clock belonging to the works at Stony Hill had struck ten, Barbican, Ardan and M'Nicholl began to take their last farewells of the numerous friends surrounding them. The two dogs intended to accompany them had been already deposited in the Projectile. The three travellers approached the mouth of the enormous cannon, seated themselves in the flying car, and once more took leave for the last time of the vast throng standing in silence around them. The windlass creaked, the car started, and the three daring men disappeared in the yawning gulf.

The trap-hole giving them ready access to the interior of the Projectile, the car soon came back empty; the great windlass was presently rolled away; the tackle and scaffolding were removed, and in a short space of time the great mouth of the Columbiad was completely rid of all obstructions.

M'Nicholl took upon himself to fasten the door of the trap on the inside by means of a powerful combination of screws and bolts of his own invention. He also covered up very carefully the glass lights with strong iron plates of extreme solidity and tightly fitting joints.

Ardan's first care was to turn on the gas, which he found burning rather low; but he lit no more than one burner, being desirous to economize as much as possible their store of light and heat, which, as he well knew, could not at the very utmost last them longer than a few weeks.

Under the cheerful blaze, the interior of the Projectile looked like a comfortable little chamber, with its circular sofa, nicely padded walls, and dome shaped ceiling.

All the articles that it contained, arms, instruments, utensils, etc., were solidly fastened to the projections of the wadding, so as to sustain the least injury possible from the first terrible shock. In fact, all precautions possible, humanly speaking, had been taken to counteract this, the first, and possibly one of the very greatest dangers to which the courageous adventurers would be exposed.

Ardan expressed himself to be quite pleased with the appearance of things in general.

"It's a prison, to be sure," said he "but not one of your ordinary prisons that always keep in the one spot. For my part, as long as I can have the privilege of looking out of the window, I am willing to lease it for a hundred years. Ah! Barbican, that brings out one of your stony smiles. You think our lease may last longer than that! Our tenement may become our coffin, eh? Be it so. I prefer it anyway to Mahomet's; it may indeed float in the air, but it won't be motionless as a milestone!"

[Illustration: TURN ON THE GAS.]

Barbican, having made sure by personal inspection that everything was in perfect order, consulted his chronometer, which he had carefully set a short time before with Chief Engineer Murphy's, who had been charged to fire off the Projectile.

"Friends," he said, "it is now twenty minutes past ten. At 10 46' 40'', precisely, Murphy will send the electric current into the gun-cotton. We have, therefore, twenty-six minutes more to remain on earth."

"Twenty-six minutes and twenty seconds," observed Captain M'Nicholl, who always aimed at mathematical precision.

"Twenty-six minutes!" cried Ardan, gaily. "An age, a cycle, according to the use you make of them. In twenty-six minutes how much can be done! The weightiest questions of warfare, politics, morality, can be discussed, even decided, in twenty-six minutes. Twenty-six minutes well spent are infinitely more valuable than twenty-six lifetimes wasted! A few seconds even, employed by a Pascal, or a Newton, or a Barbican, or any other profoundly intellectual being

Whose thoughts wander through eternity--"

"As mad as Marston! Every bit!" muttered the Captain, half audibly.

"What do you conclude from this rigmarole of yours?" interrupted Barbican.

"I conclude that we have twenty-six good minutes still left--"

"Only twenty-four minutes, ten seconds," interrupted the Captain, watch in hand.

"Well, twenty-four minutes, Captain," Ardan went on; "now even in twenty-four minutes, I maintain--"

"Ardan," interrupted Barbican, "after a very little while we shall have plenty of time for philosophical disputations. Just now let us think of something far more pressing."

"More pressing! what do you mean? are we not fully prepared?"

"Yes, fully prepared, as far at least as we have been able to foresee. But we may still, I think, possibly increase the number of precautions to be taken against the terrible shock that we are so soon to experience."

"What? Have you any doubts whatever of the effectiveness of your brilliant and extremely original idea? Don't you think that the layers of water, regularly disposed in easily-ruptured partitions beneath this floor, will afford us sufficient protection by their elasticity?"

"I hope so, indeed, my dear friend, but I am by no means confident."

"He hopes! He is by no means confident! Listen to that, Mac! Pretty time to tell us so! Let me out of here!"

"Too late!" observed the Captain quietly. "The trap-hole alone would take ten or fifteen minutes to open."

"Oh then I suppose I must make the best of it," said Ardan, laughing. "All aboard, gentlemen! The train starts in twenty minutes!"

"In nineteen minutes and eighteen seconds," said the Captain, who never took his eye off the chronometer.

The three travellers looked at each other for a little while, during which even Ardan appeared to become serious. After another careful glance at the several objects lying around them, Barbican said, quietly:

"Everything is in its place, except ourselves. What we have now to do is to decide on the position we must take in order to neutralize the shock as much as possible. We must be particularly careful to guard against a rush of blood to the head."

"Correct!" said the Captain.

"Suppose we stood on our heads, like the circus tumblers!" cried Ardan, ready to suit the action to the word.

"Better than that," said Barbican; "we can lie on our side. Keep clearly in mind, dear friends, that at the instant of departure it makes very little difference to us whether we are inside the bullet or in front of it. There is, no doubt, "some" difference," he added, seeing the great eyes made by his friends, "but it is exceedingly little."

"Thank heaven for the "some"!" interrupted Ardan, fervently.

"Don't you approve of my suggestion, Captain?" asked Barbican.

"Certainly," was the hasty reply. "That is to say, absolutely. Seventeen minutes twenty-seven seconds!"

"Mac isn't a human being at all!" cried Ardan, admiringly. "He is a repeating chronometer, horizontal escapement, London-made lever, capped, jewelled,--"

His companions let him run on while they busied themselves in making their last arrangements, with the greatest coolness and most systematic method. In fact, I don't think of anything just now to compare them to except a couple of old travellers who, having to pass the night in the train, are trying to make themselves as comfortable as possible for their long journey. In your profound astonishment, you may naturally ask me of what strange material can the hearts of these Americans be made, who can view without the slightest semblance of a flutter the approach of the most appalling dangers? In your curiosity I fully participate, but, I'm sorry to say, I can't gratify it. It is one of those things that I could never find out.

Three mattresses, thick and well wadded, spread on the disc forming the false bottom of the Projectile, were arranged in lines whose parallelism was simply perfect. But Ardan would never think of occupying his until the very last moment. Walking up and down, with the restless nervousness of a wild beast in a cage, he kept up a continuous fire of talk; at one moment with his friends, at another with the dogs, addressing the latter by the euphonious and suggestive names of Diana and Satellite.

[Illustration: DIANA AND SATELLITE.]

"Ho, pets!" he would exclaim as he patted them gently, "you must not forget the noble part you are to play up there. You must be models of canine deportment. The eyes of the whole Selenitic world will be upon you. You are the standard bearers of your race. From you they will receive their first impression regarding its merits. Let it be a favorable one. Compel those Selenites to acknowledge, in spite of themselves, that the terrestrial race of canines is far superior to that of the very best Moon dog among them!"

"Dogs in the Moon!" sneered M'Nicholl, "I like that!"

"Plenty of dogs!" cried Ardan, "and horses too, and cows, and sheep, and no end of chickens!"

"A hundred dollars to one there isn't a single chicken within the whole Lunar realm, not excluding even the invisible side!" cried the Captain, in an authoritative tone, but never taking his eye off the chronometer.

"I take that bet, my son," coolly replied Ardan, shaking the Captain's hand by way of ratifying the wager; "and this reminds me, by the way, Mac, that you have lost three bets already, to the pretty little tune of six thousand dollars."

"And paid them, too!" cried the captain, monotonously; "ten, thirty-six, six!"

"Yes, and in a quarter of an hour you will have to pay nine thousand dollars more; four thousand because the Columbiad will not burst, and five thousand because the Projectile will rise more than six miles from the Earth."

"I have the money ready," answered the Captain, touching his breeches pocket. "When I lose I pay. Not sooner. Ten, thirty-eight, ten!"

"Captain, you're a man of method, if there ever was one. I think, however, that you made a mistake in your wagers."

"How so?" asked the Captain listlessly, his eye still on the dial.

"Because, by Jove, if you win there will be no more of you left to take the money than there will be of Barbican to pay it!"

"Friend Ardan," quietly observed Barbican, "my stakes are deposited in the "Wall Street Bank", of New York, with orders to pay them over to the Captain's heirs, in case the Captain himself should fail to put in an appearance at the proper time."

"Oh! you rhinoceroses, you pachyderms, you granite men!" cried Ardan, gasping with surprise; "you machines with iron heads, and iron hearts! I may admire you, but I'm blessed if I understand you!"

"Ten, forty-two, ten!" repeated M'Nicholl, as mechanically as if it was the chronometer itself that spoke.

"Four minutes and a half more," said Barbican.

"Oh! four and a half little minutes!" went on Ardan. "Only think of it! We are shut up in a bullet that lies in the chamber of a cannon nine hundred feet long. Underneath this bullet is piled a charge of 400 thousand pounds of gun-cotton, equivalent to 1600 thousand pounds of ordinary gunpowder! And at this very instant our friend Murphy, chronometer in hand, eye on dial, finger on discharger, is counting the last seconds and getting ready to launch us into the limitless regions of planetary--"

"Ardan, dear friend," interrupted Barbican, in a grave tone, "a serious moment is now at hand. Let us meet it with some interior recollection. Give me your hands, my dear friends."

"Certainly," said Ardan, with tears in his voice, and already at the other extreme of his apparent levity.

The three brave men united in one last, silent, but warm and impulsively affectionate pressure.

"And now, great God, our Creator, protect us! In Thee we trust!" prayed Barbican, the others joining him with folded hands and bowed heads.

"Ten, forty-six!" whispered the Captain, as he and Ardan quietly took their places on the mattresses.

Only forty seconds more!

Barbican rapidly extinguishes the gas and lies down beside his companions.

The deathlike silence now reigning in the Projectile is interrupted only by the sharp ticking of the chronometer as it beats the seconds.

Suddenly, a dreadful shock is felt, and the Projectile, shot up by the instantaneous development of 200,000 millions of cubic feet of gas, is flying into space with inconceivable rapidity!

CHAPTER II.

THE FIRST HALF HOUR.

What had taken place within the Projectile? What effect had been produced by the frightful concussion? Had Barbican's ingenuity been attended with a fortunate result? Had the shock been sufficiently deadened by the springs, the buffers, the water layers, and the partitions so readily ruptured? Had their combined effect succeeded in counteracting the tremendous violence of a velocity of 12,000 yards a second, actually sufficient to carry them from London to New York in six minutes? These, and a hundred other questions of a similar nature were asked that night by the millions who had been watching the explosion from the base of Stony Hill. Themselves they forgot altogether for the moment; they forgot everything in their absorbing anxiety regarding the fate of the daring travellers. Had one among them, our friend Marston, for instance, been favored with a glimpse at the interior of the projectile, what would he have seen?

Nothing at all at first, on account of the darkness; except that the walls had solidly resisted the frightful shock. Not a crack, nor a bend, nor a dent could be perceived; not even the slightest injury had the admirably constructed piece of mechanical workmanship endured. It had not yielded an inch to the enormous pressure, and, far from melting and falling back to earth, as had been so seriously apprehended, in showers of blazing aluminium, it was still as strong in every respect as it had been on the very day that it left the Cold Spring Iron Works, glittering like a silver dollar.

Of real damage there was actually none, and even the disorder into which things had been thrown in the interior by the violent shock was comparatively slight. A few small objects lying around loose had been furiously hurled against the ceiling, but the others appeared not to have suffered the slightest injury. The straps that fastened them up were unfrayed, and the fixtures that held them down were uncracked.

The partitions beneath the disc having been ruptured, and the water having escaped, the false floor had been dashed with tremendous violence against the bottom of the Projectile, and on this disc at this moment three human bodies could be seen lying perfectly still and motionless.

Were they three corpses? Had the Projectile suddenly become a great metallic coffin bearing its ghastly contents through the air with the rapidity of a lightning flash?

In a very few minutes after the shock, one of the bodies stirred a little, the arms moved, the eyes opened, the head rose and tried to look around; finally, with some difficulty, the body managed to get on its knees. It was the Frenchman! He held his head tightly squeezed between his hands for some time as if to keep it from splitting. Then he felt himself rapidly all over, cleared his throat with a vigorous "hem!" listened to the sound critically for an instant, and then said to himself in a relieved tone, but in his native tongue:

"One man all right! Call the roll for the others!"

He tried to rise, but the effort was too great for his strength. He fell back again, his brain swimming, his eyes bursting, his head splitting. His state very much resembled that of a young man waking up in the morning after his first tremendous "spree."

"Br--rr!" he muttered to himself, still talking French; "this reminds me of one of my wild nights long ago in the "Quartier Latin", only decidedly more so!"

Lying quietly on his back for a while, he could soon feel that the circulation of his blood, so suddenly and violently arrested by the terrific shock, was gradually recovering its regular flow; his heart grew more normal in its action; his head became clearer, and the pain less distracting.

"Time to call that roll," he at last exclaimed in a voice with some pretensions to firmness; "Barbican! MacNicholl!"

He listens anxiously for a reply. None comes. A snow-wrapt grave at midnight is not more silent. In vain does he try to catch even the faintest sound of breathing, though he listens intently enough to hear the beating of their hearts; but he hears only his own.

"Call that roll again!" he mutters in a voice far less assured than before; "Barbican! MacNicholl!"

The same fearful unearthly stillness.

"The thing is getting decidedly monotonous!" he exclaimed, still speaking French. Then rapidly recovering his consciousness as the full horror of the situation began to break on his mind, he went on muttering audibly: "Have they really hopped the twig? Bah! Fudge! what has not been able to knock the life out of one little Frenchman can't have killed two Americans! They're all right! But first and foremost, let us enlighten the situation!"

So saying, he contrived without much difficulty to get on his feet. Balancing himself then for a moment, he began groping about for the gas. But he stopped suddenly.

"Hold on a minute!" he cried; "before lighting this match, let us see if the gas has been escaping. Setting fire to a mixture of air and hydrogen would make a pretty how-do-you-do! Such an explosion would infallibly burst the Projectile, which so far seems all right, though I'm blest if I can tell whether we're moving or not."

He began sniffing and smelling to discover if possible the odor of escaped gas. He could not detect the slightest sign of anything of the kind. This gave him great courage. He knew of course that his senses were not yet in good order, still he thought he might trust them so far as to be certain that the gas had not escaped and that consequently all the other receptacles were uninjured.

At the touch of the match, the gas burst into light and burned with a steady flame. Ardan immediately bent anxiously over the prostrate bodies of his friends. They lay on each other like inert masses, M'Nicholl stretched across Barbican.

Ardan first lifted up the Captain, laid him on the sofa, opened his clenched hands, rubbed them, and slapped the palms vigorously. Then he went all over the body carefully, kneading it, rubbing it, and gently patting it. In such intelligent efforts to restore suspended circulation, he seemed perfectly at home, and after a few minutes his patience was rewarded by seeing the Captain's pallid face gradually recover its natural color, and by feeling his heart gradually beat with a firm pulsation.

At last M'Nicholl opened his eyes, stared at Ardan for an instant, pressed his hand, looked around searchingly and anxiously, and at last whispered in a faint voice:

"How's Barbican?"

"Barbican is all right, Captain," answered Ardan quietly, but still speaking French. "I'll attend to him in a jiffy. He had to wait for his turn. I began with you because you were the top man. We'll see in a minute what we can do for dear old Barby ("ce cher Barbican")!"

In less than thirty seconds more, the Captain not only was able to sit up himself, but he even insisted on helping Ardan to lift Barbican, and deposit him gently on the sofa.

[Illustration: HELPED ARDAN TO LIFT BARBICAN.]

The poor President had evidently suffered more from the concussion than either of his companions. As they took off his coat they were at first terribly shocked at the sight of a great patch of blood staining his shirt bosom, but they were inexpressibly relieved at finding that it proceeded from a slight contusion of the shoulder, little more than skin deep.

Every approved operation that Ardan had performed for the Captain, both now repeated for Barbican, but for a long time with nothing like a favorable result.

Ardan at first tried to encourage the Captain by whispers of a lively and hopeful nature, but not yet understanding why M'Nicholl did not deign to make a single reply, he grew reserved by degrees and at last would not speak a single word. He worked at Barbican, however, just as before.

M'Nicholl interrupted himself every moment to lay his ear on the breast of the unconscious man. At first he had shaken his head quite despondingly, but by degrees he found himself more and more encouraged to persist.

"He breathes!" he whispered at last.

"Yes, he has been breathing for some time," replied Ardan, quietly, still unconsciously speaking French. "A little more rubbing and pulling and pounding will make him as spry as a young grasshopper."

They worked at him, in fact, so vigorously, intelligently and perseveringly, that, after what they considered a long hour's labor, they had the delight of seeing the pale face assume a healthy hue, the inert limbs give signs of returning animation, and the breathing become strong and regular.

At last, Barbican suddenly opened his eyes, started into an upright position on the sofa, took his friends by the hands, and, in a voice showing complete consciousness, demanded eagerly:

"Ardan, M'Nicholl, are we moving?"

His friends looked at each other, a little amused, but more perplexed. In their anxiety regarding their own and their friend's recovery, they had never thought of asking such a question. His words recalled them at once to a full sense of their situation.

"Moving? Blessed if I can tell!" said Ardan, still speaking French.

"We may be lying fifty feet deep in a Florida marsh, for all I know," observed M'Nicholl.

"Or, likely as not, in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico," suggested Ardan, still in French.

"Suppose we find out," observed Barbican, jumping up to try, his voice as clear and his step as firm as ever.

But trying is one thing, and finding out another. Having no means of comparing themselves with external objects, they could not possibly tell whether they were moving, or at an absolute stand-still. Though our Earth is whirling us continually around the Sun at the tremendous speed of 500 miles a minute, its inhabitants are totally unconscious of the slightest motion. It was the same with our travellers. Through their own personal consciousness they could tell absolutely nothing. Were they shooting through space like a meteor? They could not tell. Had they fallen back and buried themselves deep in the sandy soil of Florida, or, still more likely, hundreds of fathoms deep beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico? They could not form the slightest idea.

Listening evidently could do no good. The profound silence proved nothing. The padded walls of the Projectile were too thick to admit any sound whether of wind, water, or human beings. Barbican, however, was soon struck forcibly by one circumstance. He felt himself to be very uncomfortably warm, and his friend's faces looked very hot and flushed. Hastily removing the cover that protected the thermometer, he closely inspected it, and in an instant uttered a joyous exclamation.

"Hurrah!" he cried. "We're moving! There's no mistake about it. The thermometer marks 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Such a stifling heat could not come from the gas. It comes from the exterior walls of our projectile, which atmospheric friction must have made almost red hot. But this heat must soon diminish, because we are already far beyond the regions of the atmosphere, so that instead of smothering we shall be shortly in danger of freezing."

"What?" asked Ardan, much bewildered. "We are already far beyond the limits of the terrestrial atmosphere! Why do you think so?"

M'Nicholl was still too much flustered to venture a word.

"If you want me to answer your question satisfactorily, my dear Ardan," replied Barbican, with a quiet smile, "you will have the kindness to put your questions in English."

"What do you mean, Barbican!" asked Ardan, hardly believing his ears.

"Hurrah!" cried M'Nicholl, in the tone of a man who has suddenly made a welcome but most unexpected discovery.

"I don't know exactly how it is with the Captain," continued Barbican, with the utmost tranquillity, "but for my part the study of the languages never was my strong point, and though I always admired the French, and even understood it pretty well, I never could converse in it without giving myself more trouble than I always find it convenient to assume."

"You don't mean to say that I have been talking French to you all this time!" cried Ardan, horror-stricken.

"The most elegant French I ever heard, backed by the purest Parisian accent," replied Barbican, highly amused; "Don't you think so, Captain?" he added, turning to M'Nicholl, whose countenance still showed the most comical traces of bewilderment.

"Well, I swan to man!" cried the Captain, who always swore a little when his feelings got beyond his control; "Ardan, the Boss has got the rig on both of us this time, but rough as it is on you it is a darned sight more so on me. Be hanged if I did not think you were talking English the whole time, and I put the whole blame for not understanding you on the disordered state of my brain!"

Ardan only stared, and scratched his head, but Barbican actually--no, not "laughed", that serene nature could not "laugh". His cast-iron features puckered into a smile of the richest drollery, and his eyes twinkled with the wickedest fun; but no undignified giggle escaped the portal of those majestic lips.

"It "sounds" like French, I'd say to myself," continued the Captain, "but I "know" it's English, and by and by, when this whirring goes out of my head, I shall easily understand it."

Ardan now looked as if he was beginning to see the joke.

"The most puzzling part of the thing to me," went on M'Nicholl, giving his experience with the utmost gravity, "was why English sounded so like "French". If it was simple incomprehensible gibberish, I could readily blame the state of my ears for it. But the idea that my bothered ears could turn a mere confused, muzzled, buzzing reverberation into a sweet, harmonious, articulate, though unintelligible, human language, made me sure that I was fast becoming crazy, if I was not so already."

"Ha! ha! ha!" roared Ardan, laughing till the tears came. "Now I understand why the poor Captain made me no reply all the time, and looked at me with such a hapless woe-begone expression of countenance. The fact is, Barbican, that shock was too much both for M'Nicholl and myself. You are the only man among us whose head is fire-proof, blast-proof, and powder-proof. I really believe a burglar would have greater difficulty in blowing your head-piece open than in bursting one of those famous American safes your papers make such a fuss about. A wonderful head, the Boss's, isn't it M'Nicholl?"

"Yes," said the Captain, as slowly as if every word were a gem of the profoundest thought, "the Boss has a fearful and a wonderful head!"

"But now to business!" cried the versatile Ardan, "Why do you think, Barbican, that we are at present beyond the limits of the terrestrial atmosphere?"

"For a very simple reason," said Barbican, pointing to the chronometer; "it is now more than seven minutes after 11. We must, therefore, have been in motion more than twenty minutes. Consequently, unless our initial velocity has been very much diminished by the friction, we must have long before this completely cleared the fifty miles of atmosphere enveloping the earth."

"Correct," said the Captain, cool as a cucumber, because once more in complete possession of all his senses; "but how much do you think the initial velocity to have been diminished by the friction?"

"By a third, according to my calculations," replied Barbican, "which I think are right. Supposing our initial velocity, therefore, to have been 12,000 yards per second, by the time we quitted the atmosphere it must have been reduced to 8,000 yards per second. At that rate, we must have gone by this time--"

"Then, Mac, my boy, you've lost your two bets!" interrupted Ardan. "The Columbiad has not burst, four thousand dollars; the Projectile has risen at least six miles, five thousand dollars; come, Captain, bleed!"

"Let me first be sure we're right," said the Captain, quietly. "I don't deny, you see, that friend Barbican's arguments are quite right, and, therefore, that I have lost my nine thousand dollars. But there is another view of the case possible, which might annul the bet."

"What other view?" asked Barbican, quickly.

"Suppose," said the Captain, very drily, "that the powder had not caught, and that we were still lying quietly at the bottom of the Columbiad!"

"By Jove!" laughed Ardan, "there's an idea truly worthy of my own nondescript brain! We must surely have changed heads during that concussion! No matter, there is some sense left in us yet. Come now, Captain, consider a little, if you can. Weren't we both half-killed by the shock? Didn't I rescue you from certain death with these two hands? Don't you see Barbican's shoulder still bleeding by the violence of the shock?"

"Correct, friend Michael, correct in every particular," replied the Captain, "But one little question."

"Out with it!"

"Friend Michael, you say we're moving?"

"Yes."

"In consequence of the explosion?"

"Certainly!"

"Which must have been attended with a tremendous report?"

"Of course!"

"Did you hear that report, friend Michael?"

"N--o," replied Ardan, a little disconcerted at the question. "Well, no; I can't say that I did hear any report."

"Did you, friend Barbican?"

"No," replied Barbican, promptly. "I heard no report whatever."

His answer was ready, but his look was quite as disconcerted as Ardan's.

"Well, friend Barbican and friend Michael," said the Captain, very drily as he leered wickedly at both, "put that and that together and tell me what you make of it."

"It's a fact!" exclaimed Barbican, puzzled, but not bewildered. "Why did we not hear that report?"

"Too hard for me," said Ardan. "Give it up!"

The three friends gazed at each other for a while with countenances expressive of much perplexity. Barbican appeared to be the least self-possessed of the party. It was a complete turning of the tables from the state of things a few moments ago. The problem was certainly simple enough, but for that very reason the more inexplicable. If they were moving the explosion must have taken place; but if the explosion had taken place, why had they not heard the report?

Barbican's decision soon put an end to speculation.

"Conjecture being useless," said he, "let us have recourse to facts. First, let us see where we are. Drop the deadlights!"

This operation, simple enough in itself and being immediately undertaken by the whole three, was easily accomplished. The screws fastening the bolts by which the external plates of the deadlights were solidly pinned, readily yielded to the pressure of a powerful wrench. The bolts were then driven outwards, and the holes which had contained them were immediately filled with solid plugs of India rubber. The bolts once driven out, the external plates dropped by their own weight, turning on a hinge, like portholes, and the strong plate-glass forming the light immediately showed itself. A second light exactly similar, could be cleared away on the opposite side of the Projectile; a third, on the summit of the dome, and a fourth, in the centre of the bottom. The travellers could thus take observations in four different directions, having an opportunity of gazing at the firmament through the side lights, and at the Earth and the Moon through the lower and the upper lights of the Projectile.

Ardan and the Captain had commenced examining the floor, previous to operating on the bottom light. But Barbican was the first to get through his work at one of the side lights, and M'Nicholl and Ardan soon heard him shouting:

"No, my friends!" he exclaimed, in tones of decided emotion; "we have "not" fallen back to Earth; nor are we lying in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. No! We are driving through space! Look at the stars glittering all around! Brighter, but smaller than we have ever seen them before! We have left the Earth and the Earth's atmosphere far behind us!"

"Hurrah! Hurrah!" cried M'Nicholl and Ardan, feeling as if electric shocks were coursing through them, though they could see nothing, looking down from the side light, but the blackest and profoundest obscurity.

Barbican soon convinced them that this pitchy blackness proved that they were not, and could not be, reposing on the surface of the Earth, where at that moment, everything was illuminated by the bright moonlight; also that they had passed the different layers of the atmosphere, where the diffused and refracted rays would be also sure to reveal themselves through the lights of the Projectile. They were, therefore, certainly moving. No doubt was longer possible.

"It's a fact!" observed the Captain, now quite convinced. "Then I've lost!"

"Let me congratulate you!" cried Ardan, shaking his hand.

"Here is your nine thousand dollars, friend Barbican," said the Captain, taking a roll of greenbacks of high denomination out of his porte-monnaie.

"You want a receipt, don't you, Captain?" asked Barbican, counting the money.

"Yes, I should prefer one, if it is not too much trouble," answered M'Nicholl; "it saves dispute."

Coolly and mechanically, as if seated at his desk, in his office, Barbican opened his memorandum book, wrote a receipt on a blank page, dated, signed and sealed it, and then handed it to the Captain, who put it away carefully among the other papers of his portfolio.

Ardan, taking off his hat, made a profound bow to both of his companions, without saying a word. Such formality, under such extraordinary circumstances, actually paralysed his tongue for the moment. No wonder that he could not understand those Americans. Even Indians would have surprised him by an exhibition of such stoicism. After indulging in silent wonder for a minute or two, he joined his companions who were now busy looking out at the starry sky.

"Where is the Moon?" he asked. "How is it that we cannot see her?"

"The fact of our not seeing her," answered Barbican, "gives me very great satisfaction in one respect; it shows that our Projectile was shot so rapidly out of the Columbiad that it had not time to be impressed with the slightest revolving motion--for us a most fortunate matter. As for the rest--see, there is "Cassiopeia", a little to the left is "Andromeda", further down is the great square of "Pegasus", and to the southwest "Fomalhaut" can be easily seen swallowing the "Cascade". All this shows we are looking west and consequently cannot see the Moon, which is approaching the zenith from the east. Open the other light--But hold on! Look here! What can this be?"

The three travellers, looking westwardly in the direction of "Alpherat", saw a brilliant object rapidly approaching them. At a distance, it looked like a dusky moon, but the side turned towards the Earth blazed with a bright light, which every moment became more intense. It came towards them with prodigious velocity and, what was worse, its path lay so directly in the course of the Projectile that a collision seemed inevitable. As it moved onward, from west to east, they could easily see that it rotated on its axis, like all heavenly bodies; in fact, it somewhat resembled a Moon on a small scale, describing its regular orbit around the Earth.

""Mille tonerres!"" cried Ardan, greatly excited; "what is that? Can it be another projectile?" M'Nicholl, wiping his spectacles, looked again, but made no reply. Barbican looked puzzled and uneasy. A collision was quite possible, and the results, even if not frightful in the highest degree, must be extremely deplorable. The Projectile, if not absolutely dashed to pieces, would be diverted from its own course and dragged along in a new one in obedience to the irresistible attraction of this furious asteroid.

Barbican fully realized that either alternative involved the complete failure of their enterprise. He kept perfectly still, but, never losing his presence of mind, he curiously looked on the approaching object with a gladiatorial eye, as if seeking to detect some unguarded point in his terrible adversary. The Captain was equally silent; he looked like a man who had fully made up his mind to regard every possible contingency with the most stoical indifference. But Ardan's tongue, more fluent than ever, rattled away incessantly.

"Look! Look!" he exclaimed, in tones so perfectly expressive of his rapidly alternating feelings as to render the medium of words totally unnecessary. "How rapidly the cursed thing is nearing us! Plague take your ugly phiz, the more I know you, the less I like you! Every second she doubles in size! Come, Madame Projectile! Stir your stumps a little livelier, old lady! He's making for you as straight as an arrow! We're going right in his way, or he's coming in ours, I can't say which. It's taking a mean advantage of us either way. As for ourselves--what can "we" do! Before such a monster as that we are as helpless as three men in a little skiff shooting down the rapids to the brink of Niagara! Now for it!"

Nearer and nearer it came, but without noise, without sparks, without a trail, though its lower part was brighter than ever. Its path lying little above them, the nearer it came the more the collision seemed inevitable. Imagine yourself caught on a narrow railroad bridge at midnight with an express train approaching at full speed, its reflector already dazzling you with its light, the roar of the cars rattling in your ears, and you may conceive the feelings of the travellers. At last it was so near that the travellers started back in affright, with eyes shut, hair on end, and fully believing their last hour had come. Even then Ardan had his "mot".

"We can neither switch off, down brakes, nor clap on more steam! Hard luck!"

In an instant all was over. The velocity of the Projectile was fortunately great enough to carry it barely above the dangerous point; and in a flash the terrible bolide disappeared rapidly several hundred yards beneath the affrighted travellers.

"Good bye! And may you never come back!" cried Ardan, hardly able to breathe. "It's perfectly outrageous! Not room enough in infinite space to let an unpretending bullet like ours move about a little without incurring the risk of being run over by such a monster as that! What is it anyhow? Do you know, Barbican?"

"I do," was the reply.

"Of course, you do! What is it that he don't know? Eh, Captain?"

"It is a simple bolide, but one of such enormous dimensions that the Earth's attraction has made it a satellite."

"What!" cried Ardan, "another satellite besides the Moon? I hope there are no more of them!"

"They are pretty numerous," replied Barbican; "but they are so small and they move with such enormous velocity that they are very seldom seen. Petit, the Director of the Observatory of Toulouse, who these last years has devoted much time and care to the observation of bolides, has calculated that the very one we have just encountered moves with such astonishing swiftness that it accomplishes its revolution around the Earth in about 3 hours and 20 minutes!"

"Whew!" whistled Ardan, "where should we be now if it had struck us!"

"You don't mean to say, Barbican," observed M'Nicholl, "that Petit has seen this very one?"

"So it appears," replied Barbican.

"And do all astronomers admit its existence?" asked the Captain.

"Well, some of them have their doubts," replied Barbican--

"If the unbelievers had been here a minute or two ago," interrupted Ardan, "they would never express a doubt again."

"If Petit's calculation is right," continued Barbican, "I can even form a very good idea as to our distance from the Earth."

"It seems to me Barbican can do what he pleases here or elsewhere," observed Ardan to the Captain.

"Let us see, Barbican," asked M'Nicholl; "where has Petit's calculation placed us?"

"The bolide's distance being known," replied Barbican, "at the moment we met it we were a little more than 5 thousand miles from the Earth's surface."

"Five thousand miles already!" cried Ardan, "why we have only just started!"

"Let us see about that," quietly observed the Captain, looking at his chronometer, and calculating with his pencil. "It is now 10 minutes past eleven; we have therefore been 23 minutes on the road. Supposing our initial velocity of 10,000 yards or nearly seven miles a second, to have been kept up, we should by this time be about 9,000 miles from the Earth; but by allowing for friction and gravity, we can hardly be more than 5,500 miles. Yes, friend Barbican, Petit does not seem to be very wrong in his calculations."

But Barbican hardly heard the observation. He had not yet answered the puzzling question that had already presented itself to them for solution; and until he had done so he could not attend to anything else.

"That's all very well and good, Captain," he replied in an absorbed manner, "but we have not yet been able to account for a very strange phenomenon. Why didn't we hear the report?"

No one replying, the conversation came to a stand-still, and Barbican, still absorbed in his reflections, began clearing the second light of its external shutter. In a few minutes the plate dropped, and the Moon beams, flowing in, filled the interior of the Projectile with her brilliant light. The Captain immediately put out the gas, from motives of economy as well as because its glare somewhat interfered with the observation of the interplanetary regions.

The Lunar disc struck the travellers as glittering with a splendor and purity of light that they had never witnessed before. The beams, no longer strained through the misty atmosphere of the Earth, streamed copiously in through the glass and coated the interior walls of the Projectile with a brilliant silvery plating. The intense blackness of the sky enhanced the dazzling radiance of the Moon. Even the stars blazed with a new and unequalled splendor, and, in the absence of a refracting atmosphere, they flamed as bright in the close proximity of the Moon as in any other part of the sky.

You can easily conceive the interest with which these bold travellers gazed on the Starry Queen, the final object of their daring journey. She was now insensibly approaching the zenith, the mathematical point which she was to reach four days later. They presented their telescopes, but her mountains, plains, craters and general characteristics hardly came out a particle more sharply than if they had been viewed from the Earth. Still, her light, unobstructed by air or vapor, shimmered with a lustre actually transplendent. Her disc shone like a mirror of polished platins. The travellers remained for some time absorbed in the silent contemplation of the glorious scene.

"How they're gazing at her this very moment from Stony Hill!" said the Captain at last to break the silence.

"By Jove!" cried Ardan; "It's true! Captain you're right. We were near forgetting our dear old Mother, the Earth. What ungrateful children! Let me feast my eyes once more on the blessed old creature!"

Barbican, to satisfy his companion's desire, immediately commenced to clear away the disc which covered the floor of the Projectile and prevented them from getting at the lower light. This disc, though it had been dashed to the bottom of the Projectile with great violence, was still as strong as ever, and, being made in compartments fastened by screws, to dismount it was no easy matter. Barbican, however, with the help of the others, soon had it all taken apart, and put away the pieces carefully, to serve again in case of need. A round hole about a foot and a half in diameter appeared, bored through the floor of the Projectile. It was closed by a circular pane of plate-glass, which was about six inches thick, fastened by a ring of copper. Below, on the outside, the glass was protected by an aluminium plate, kept in its place by strong bolts and nuts. The latter being unscrewed, the bolts slipped out by their own weight, the shutter fell, and a new communication was established between the interior and the exterior.

Ardan knelt down, applied his eye to the light, and tried to look out. At first everything was quite dark and gloomy.

"I see no Earth!" he exclaimed at last.

"Don't you see a fine ribbon of light?" asked Barbican, "right beneath us? A thin, pale, silvery crescent?"

"Of course I do. Can that be the Earth?"

""Terra Mater" herself, friend Ardan. That fine fillet of light, now hardly visible on her eastern border, will disappear altogether as soon as the Moon is full. Then, lying as she will be between the Sun and the Moon, her illuminated face will be turned away from us altogether, and for several days she will be involved in impenetrable darkness."

"And that's the Earth!" repeated Ardan, hardly able to believe his eyes, as he continued to gaze on the slight thread of silvery white light, somewhat resembling the appearance of the "Young May Moon" a few hours after sunset.

Barbican's explanation was quite correct. The Earth, in reference to the Moon or the Projectile, was in her last phase, or octant as it is called, and showed a sharp-horned, attenuated, but brilliant crescent strongly relieved by the black background of the sky. Its light, rendered a little bluish by the density of the atmospheric envelopes, was not quite as brilliant as the Moon's. But the Earth's crescent, compared to the Lunar, was of dimensions much greater, being fully 4 times larger. You would have called it a vast, beautiful, but very thin bow extending over the sky. A few points, brighter than the rest, particularly in its concave part, revealed the presence of lofty mountains, probably the Himalayahs. But they disappeared every now and then under thick vapory spots, which are never seen on the Lunar disc. They were the thin concentric cloud rings that surround the terrestrial sphere.

However, the travellers' eyes were soon able to trace the rest of the Earth's surface not only with facility, but even to follow its outline with absolute delight. This was in consequence of two different phenomena, one of which they could easily account for; but the other they could not explain without Barbican's assistance. No wonder. Never before had mortal eye beheld such a sight. Let us take each in its turn.

We all know that the ashy light by means of which we perceive what is called the "Old Moon in the Young Moon's arms" is due to the Earth-shine, or the reflection of the solar rays from the Earth to the Moon. By a phenomenon exactly identical, the travellers could now see that portion of the Earth's surface which was unillumined by the Sun; only, as, in consequence of the different areas of the respective surfaces, the "Earthlight" is thirteen times more intense than the "Moonlight", the dark portion of the Earth's disc appeared considerably more adumbrated than the "Old Moon".

But the other phenomenon had burst on them so suddenly that they uttered a cry loud enough to wake up Barbican from his problem. They had discovered a true starry ring! Around the Earth's outline, a ring, of internally well defined thickness, but somewhat hazy on the outside, could easily be traced by its surpassing brilliancy. Neither the "Pleiades", the "Northern Crown", the "Magellanic Clouds" nor the great nebulas of "Orion", or of "Argo", no sparkling cluster, no corona, no group of glittering star-dust that the travellers had ever gazed at, presented such attractions as the diamond ring they now saw encompassing the Earth, just as the brass meridian encompasses a terrestrial globe. The resplendency of its light enchanted them, its pure softness delighted them, its perfect regularity astonished them. What was it? they asked Barbican. In a few words he explained it. The beautiful luminous ring was simply an optical illusion, produced by the refraction of the terrestrial atmosphere. All the stars in the neighborhood of the Earth, and many actually behind it, had their rays refracted, diffused, radiated, and finally converged to a focus by the atmosphere, as if by a double convex lens of gigantic power.

Whilst the travellers were profoundly absorbed in the contemplation of this wondrous sight, a sparkling shower of shooting stars suddenly flashed over the Earth's dark surface, making it for a moment as bright as the external ring. Hundreds of bolides, catching fire from contact with the atmosphere, streaked the darkness with their luminous trails, overspreading it occasionally with sheets of electric flame. The Earth was just then in her perihelion, and we all know that the months of November and December are so highly favorable to the appearance of these meteoric showers that at the famous display of November, 1866, astronomers counted as many as 8,000 between midnight and four o'clock.

Barbican explained the whole matter in a few words. The Earth, when nearest to the sun, occasionally plunges into a group of countless meteors travelling like comets, in eccentric orbits around the grand centre of our solar system. The atmosphere strikes the rapidly moving bodies with such violence as to set them on fire and render them visible to us in beautiful star showers. But to this simple explanation of the famous November meteors Ardan would not listen. He preferred believing that Mother Earth, feeling that her three daring children were still looking at her, though five thousand miles away, shot off her best rocket-signals to show that she still thought of them and would never let them out of her watchful eye.

For hours they continued to gaze with indescribable interest on the faintly luminous mass so easily distinguishable among the other heavenly bodies. Jupiter blazed on their right, Mars flashed his ruddy light on their left, Saturn with his rings looked like a round white spot on a black wall; even Venus they could see almost directly under them, easily recognizing her by her soft, sweetly scintillant light. But no planet or constellation possessed any attraction for the travellers, as long as their eyes could trace that shadowy, crescent-edged, diamond-girdled, meteor-furrowed spheroid, the theatre of their existence, the home of so many undying desires, the mysterious cradle of their race!

Meantime the Projectile cleaved its way upwards, rapidly, unswervingly, though with a gradually retarding velocity. As the Earth sensibly grew darker, and the travellers' eyes grew dimmer, an irresistible somnolency slowly stole over their weary frames. The extraordinary excitement they had gone through during the last four or five hours, was naturally followed by a profound reaction.

"Captain, you're nodding," said Ardan at last, after a longer silence than usual; "the fact is, Barbican is the only wake man of the party, because he is puzzling over his problem. "Dum vivimus vivamus"! As we are asleep let us be asleep!"

So saying he threw himself on the mattress, and his companions immediately followed the example.

They had been lying hardly a quarter of an hour, when Barbican started up with a cry so loud and sudden as instantly to awaken his companions.

The bright moonlight showed them the President sitting up in his bed, his eye blazing, his arms waving, as he shouted in a tone reminding them of the day they had found him in St. Helena wood.

""Eureka!" I've got it! I know it!"

"What have you got?" cried Ardan, bouncing up and seizing him by the right hand.

"What do you know?" cried the Captain, stretching over and seizing him by the left.

"The reason why we did not hear the report!"

"Well, why did not we hear it!" asked both rapidly in the same breath.

"Because we were shot up 30 times faster than sound can travel!"

CHAPTER III.

THEY MAKE THEMSELVES AT HOME AND FEEL QUITE COMFORTABLE.

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!"

[Illustration: MORE HUNGRY THAN EITHER.]

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.

[Illustration: TO THE UNION OF THE EARTH AND HER SATELLITE.]

"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":

"Legères hirondelles, Oiseaux bénis 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.

CHAPTER IV.

A CHAPTER FOR THE CORNELL GIRLS.

No incident worth recording occurred during the night, if night indeed it could be called. In reality there was now no night or even day in the Projectile, or rather, strictly speaking, it was always "night" on the upper end of the bullet, and always "day" on the lower. Whenever, therefore, the words "night" and "day" occur in our story, the reader will readily understand them as referring to those spaces of time that are so called in our Earthly almanacs, and were so measured by the travellers' chronometers.

The repose of our friends must indeed have been undisturbed, if absolute freedom from sound or jar of any kind could secure tranquillity. In spite of its immense velocity, the Projectile still seemed to be perfectly motionless. Not the slightest sign of movement could be detected. Change of locality, though ever so rapid, can never reveal itself to our senses when it takes place in a vacuum, or when the enveloping atmosphere travels at the same rate as the moving body. Though we are incessantly whirled around the Sun at the rate of about seventy thousand miles an hour, which of us is conscious of the slightest motion? In such a case, as far as sensation is concerned, motion and repose are absolutely identical. Neither has any effect one way or another on a material body. Is such a body in motion? It remains in motion until some obstacle stops it. Is it at rest? It remains at rest until some superior force compels it to change its position. This indifference of bodies to motion or rest is what physicists call "inertia".

Barbican and his companions, therefore, shut up in the Projectile, could readily imagine themselves to be completely motionless. Had they been outside, the effect would have been precisely the same. No rush of air, no jarring sensation would betray the slightest movement. But for the sight of the Moon gradually growing larger above them, and of the Earth gradually growing smaller beneath them, they could safely swear that they were fast anchored in an ocean of deathlike immobility.

Towards the morning of next day (December 3), they were awakened by a joyful, but quite unexpected sound.

"Cock-a-doodle! doo!" accompanied by a decided flapping of wings.

The Frenchman, on his feet in one instant and on the top of the ladder in another, attempted to shut the lid of a half open box, speaking in an angry but suppressed voice:

"Stop this hullabaloo, won't you? Do you want me to fail in my great combination!"

"Hello?" cried Barbican and M'Nicholl, starting up and rubbing their eyes.

"What noise was that?" asked Barbican.

"Seems to me I heard the crowing of a cock," observed the Captain.

"I never thought your ears could be so easily deceived, Captain," cried Ardan, quickly, "Let us try it again," and, flapping his ribs with his arms, he gave vent to a crow so loud and natural that the lustiest chanticleer that ever saluted the orb of day might be proud of it.

The Captain roared right out, and even Barbican snickered, but as they saw that their companion evidently wanted to conceal something, they immediately assumed straight faces and pretended to think no more about the matter.

"Barbican," said Ardan, coming down the ladder and evidently anxious to change the conversation, "have you any idea of what I was thinking about all night?"

"Not the slightest."

"I was thinking of the promptness of the reply you received last year from the authorities of Cambridge University, when you asked them about the feasibility of sending a bullet to the Moon. You know very well by this time what a perfect ignoramus I am in Mathematics. I own I have been often puzzled when thinking on what grounds they could form such a positive opinion, in a case where I am certain that the calculation must be an exceedingly delicate matter."

"The feasibility, you mean to say," replied Barbican, "not exactly of sending a bullet to the Moon, but of sending it to the neutral point between the Earth and the Moon, which lies at about nine-tenths of the journey, where the two attractions counteract each other. Because that point once passed, the Projectile would reach the Moon's surface by virtue of its own weight."

"Well, reaching that neutral point be it;" replied Ardan, "but, once more, I should like to know how they have been able to come at the necessary initial velocity of 12,000 yards a second?"

"Nothing simpler," answered Barbican.

"Could you have done it yourself?" asked the Frenchman.

"Without the slightest difficulty. The Captain and myself could have readily solved the problem, only the reply from the University saved us the trouble."

"Well, Barbican, dear boy," observed Ardan, "all I've got to say is, you might chop the head off my body, beginning with my feet, before you could make me go through such a calculation."

"Simply because you don't understand Algebra," replied Barbican, quietly.

"Oh! that's all very well!" cried Ardan, with an ironical smile. "You great "x+y" men think you settle everything by uttering the word "Algebra"!"

"Ardan," asked Barbican, "do you think people could beat iron without a hammer, or turn up furrows without a plough?"

"Hardly."

"Well, Algebra is an instrument or utensil just as much as a hammer or a plough, and a very good instrument too if you know how to make use of it."

"You're in earnest?"

"Quite so."

"And you can handle the instrument right before my eyes?"

"Certainly, if it interests you so much."

"You can show me how they got at the initial velocity of our Projectile?"

"With the greatest pleasure. By taking into proper consideration all the elements of the problem, viz.: (1) the distance between the centres of the Earth and the Moon, (2) the Earth's radius, (3) its volume, and (4) the Moon's volume, I can easily calculate what must be the initial velocity, and that too by a very simple formula."

"Let us have the formula."

"In one moment; only I can't give you the curve really described by the Projectile as it moves between the Earth and the Moon; this is to be obtained by allowing for their combined movement around the Sun. I will consider the Earth and the Sun to be motionless, that being sufficient for our present purpose."

"Why so?"

"Because to give you that exact curve would be to solve a point in the 'Problem of the Three Bodies,' which Integral Calculus has not yet reached."

"What!" cried Ardan, in a mocking tone, "is there really anything that Mathematics can't do?"

"Yes," said Barbican, "there is still a great deal that Mathematics can't even attempt."

"So far, so good;" resumed Ardan. "Now then what is this Integral Calculus of yours?"

"It is a branch of Mathematics that has for its object the summation of a certain infinite series of indefinitely small terms: but for the solution of which, we must generally know the function of which a given function is the differential coefficient. In other words," continued Barbican, "in it we return from the differential coefficient, to the function from which it was deduced."

"Clear as mud!" cried Ardan, with a hearty laugh.

"Now then, let me have a bit of paper and a pencil," added Barbican, "and in half an hour you shall have your formula; meantime you can easily find something interesting to do."

In a few seconds Barbican was profoundly absorbed in his problem, while M'Nicholl was watching out of the window, and Ardan was busily employed in preparing breakfast.

The morning meal was not quite ready, when Barbican, raising his head, showed Ardan a page covered with algebraic signs at the end of which stood the following formula:--

1 2 2 r m' r r --- (v' - v ) = gr {--- - 1 + --- (----- - -----) } 2 x m d - x d - r

"Which means?" asked Ardan.

"It means," said the Captain, now taking part in the discussion, "that the half of "v" prime squared minus "v" squared equals "gr" multiplied by "r" over "x" minus one plus "m" prime over "m" multiplied by "r" over "d" minus "x" minus "r" over "d" minus "r" ... that is--"

"That is," interrupted Ardan, in a roar of laughter, ""x" stradlegs on "y", making for "z" and jumping over "p"! Do "you" mean to say you understand the terrible jargon, Captain?"

"Nothing is clearer, Ardan."

"You too, Captain! Then of course I must give in gracefully, and declare that the sun at noon-day is not more palpably evident than the sense of Barbican's formula."

"You asked for Algebra, you know," observed Barbican.

"Rock crystal is nothing to it!"

"The fact is, Barbican," said the Captain, who had been looking over the paper, "you have worked the thing out very well. You have the integral equation of the living forces, and I have no doubt it will give us the result sought for."

"Yes, but I should like to understand it, you know," cried Ardan: "I would give ten years of the Captain's life to understand it!"

"Listen then," said Barbican. "Half of "v" prime squared less "v" squared, is the formula giving us the half variation of the living force."

"Mac pretends he understands all that!"

"You need not be a "Solomon" to do it," said the Captain. "All these signs that you appear to consider so cabalistic form a language the clearest, the shortest, and the most logical, for all those who can read it."

"You pretend, Captain, that, by means of these hieroglyphics, far more incomprehensible than the sacred Ibis of the Egyptians, you can discover the velocity at which the Projectile should start?"

"Most undoubtedly," replied the Captain, "and, by the same formula I can even tell you the rate of our velocity at any particular point of our journey."

"You can?"

"I can."

"Then you're just as deep a one as our President."

"No, Ardan; not at all. The really difficult part of the question Barbican has done. That is, to make out such an equation as takes into account all the conditions of the problem. After that, it's a simple affair of Arithmetic, requiring only a knowledge of the four rules to work it out."

"Very simple," observed Ardan, who always got muddled at any kind of a difficult sum in addition.

"Captain," said Barbican, ""you" could have found the formulas too, if you tried."

"I don't know about that," was the Captain's reply, "but I do know that this formula is wonderfully come at."

"Now, Ardan, listen a moment," said Barbican, "and you will see what sense there is in all these letters."

"I listen," sighed Ardan with the resignation of a martyr.

""d" is the distance from the centre of the Earth to the centre of the Moon, for it is from the centres that we must calculate the attractions."

"That I comprehend."

""r" is the radius of the Earth."

"That I comprehend."

""m" is the mass or volume of the Earth; "m" prime that of the Moon. We must take the mass of the two attracting bodies into consideration, since attraction is in direct proportion to their masses."

"That I comprehend."

""g" is the gravity or the velocity acquired at the end of a second by a body falling towards the centre of the Earth. Clear?"

"That I comprehend."

"Now I represent by "x" the varying distance that separates the Projectile from the centre of the Earth, and by "v" prime its velocity at that distance."

"That I comprehend."

"Finally, "v" is its velocity when quitting our atmosphere."

"Yes," chimed in the Captain, "it is for this point, you see, that the velocity had to be calculated, because we know already that the initial velocity is exactly the three halves of the velocity when the Projectile quits the atmosphere."

"That I don't comprehend," cried the Frenchman, energetically.

"It's simple enough, however," said Barbican.

"Not so simple as a simpleton," replied the Frenchman.

"The Captain merely means," said Barbican, "that at the instant the Projectile quitted the terrestrial atmosphere it had already lost a third of its initial velocity."

"So much as a third?"

"Yes, by friction against the atmospheric layers: the quicker its motion, the greater resistance it encountered."

"That of course I admit, but your "v" squared and your "v" prime squared rattle in my head like nails in a box!"

"The usual effect of Algebra on one who is a stranger to it; to finish you, our next step is to express numerically the value of these several symbols. Now some of them are already known, and some are to be calculated."

"Hand the latter over to me," said the Captain.

"First," continued Barbican: ""r", the Earth's radius is, in the latitude of Florida, about 3,921 miles. "d", the distance from the centre of the Earth to the centre of the Moon is 56 terrestrial radii, which the Captain calculates to be...?"

"To be," cried M'Nicholl working rapidly with his pencil, "219,572 miles, the moment the Moon is in her "perigee", or nearest point to the Earth."

"Very well," continued Barbican. "Now "m" prime over "m", that is the ratio of the Moon's mass to that of the Earth is about the 1/81. "g" gravity being at Florida about 32-1/4 feet, of course "g" x "r" must be--how much, Captain?"

"38,465 miles," replied M'Nicholl.

"Now then?" asked Ardan.

[Illustration: MY HEAD IS SPLITTING WITH IT.]

"Now then," replied Barbican, "the expression having numerical values, I am trying to find "v", that is to say, the initial velocity which the Projectile must possess in order to reach the point where the two attractions neutralize each other. Here the velocity being null, "v" prime becomes zero, and "x" the required distance of this neutral point must be represented by the nine-tenths of "d", the distance between the two centres."

"I have a vague kind of idea that it must be so," said Ardan.

"I shall, therefore, have the following result;" continued Barbican, figuring up; ""x" being nine-tenths of "d", and "v" prime being zero, my formula becomes:--

2 10 r 1 10 r r v = gr {1 - ----- - ---- (----- - -----) } d 81 d d - r "

The Captain read it off rapidly.

"Right! that's correct!" he cried.

"You think so?" asked Barbican.

"As true as Euclid!" exclaimed M'Nicholl.

"Wonderful fellows," murmured the Frenchman, smiling with admiration.

"You understand now, Ardan, don't you?" asked Barbican.

"Don't I though?" exclaimed Ardan, "why my head is splitting with it!"

"Therefore," continued Barbican,

" 2 10 r 1 10 r r 2v = 2gr {1 - ----- - ---- (----- - -----) } d 81 d d - r "

"And now," exclaimed M'Nicholl, sharpening his pencil; "in order to obtain the velocity of the Projectile when leaving the atmosphere, we have only to make a slight calculation."

The Captain, who before clerking on a Mississippi steamboat had been professor of Mathematics in an Indiana university, felt quite at home at the work. He rained figures from his pencil with a velocity that would have made Marston stare. Page after page was filled with his multiplications and divisions, while Barbican looked quietly on, and Ardan impatiently stroked his head and ears to keep down a rising head-ache.

"Well?" at last asked Barbican, seeing the Captain stop and throw a somewhat hasty glance over his work.

"Well," answered M'Nicholl slowly but confidently, "the calculation is made, I think correctly; and "v", that is, the velocity of the Projectile when quitting the atmosphere, sufficient to carry it to the neutral point, should be at least ..."

"How much?" asked Barbican, eagerly.

"Should be at least 11,972 yards the first second."

"What!" cried Barbican, jumping off his seat. "How much did you say?"

"11,972 yards the first second it quits the atmosphere."

"Oh, malediction!" cried Barbican, with a gesture of terrible despair.

"What's the matter?" asked Ardan, very much surprised.

"Enough is the matter!" answered Barbican excitedly. "This velocity having been diminished by a third, our initial velocity should have been at least ..."

"17,958 yards the first second!" cried M'Nicholl, rapidly flourishing his pencil.

"But the Cambridge Observatory having declared that 12,000 yards the first second were sufficient, our Projectile started with no greater velocity!"

"Well?" asked M'Nicholl.

"Well, such a velocity will never do!"

"How??" } "How!!" } cried the Captain and Ardan in one voice.

"We can never reach the neutral point!"

"Thunder and lightning"

"Fire and Fury!"

"We can't get even halfway!"

"Heaven and Earth!"

""Mille noms d'un boulet!"" cried Ardan, wildly gesticulating.

"And we shall fall back to the Earth!"

"Oh!"

"Ah!"

They could say no more. This fearful revelation took them like a stroke of apoplexy.

CHAPTER V.

THE COLDS OF SPACE.

How could they imagine that the Observatory men had committed such a blunder? Barbican would not believe it possible. He made the Captain go over his calculation again and again; but no flaw was to be found in it. He himself carefully examined it, figure after figure, but he could find nothing wrong. They both took up the formula and subjected it to the strongest tests; but it was invulnerable. There was no denying the fact. The Cambridge professors had undoubtedly blundered in saying that an initial velocity of 12,000 yards a second would be enough to carry them to the neutral point. A velocity of nearly 18,000 yards would be the very lowest required for such a purpose. They had simply forgotten to allow a third for friction.

The three friends kept profound silence for some time. Breakfast now was the last thing thought of. Barbican, with teeth grating, fingers clutching, and eye-brows closely contracting, gazed grimly through the window. The Captain, as a last resource, once more examined his calculations, earnestly hoping to find a figure wrong. Ardan could neither sit, stand nor lie still for a second, though he tried all three. His silence, of course, did not last long.

"Ha! ha! ha!" he laughed bitterly. "Precious scientific men! Villainous old hombogues! The whole set not worth a straw! I hope to gracious, since we must fall, that we shall drop down plumb on Cambridge Observatory, and not leave a single one of the miserable old women, called professors, alive in the premises!"

A certain expression in Ardan's angry exclamation had struck the Captain like a shot, and set his temples throbbing violently.

""Must" fall!" he exclaimed, starting up suddenly. "Let us see about that! It is now seven o'clock in the morning. We must have, therefore, been at least thirty-two hours on the road, and more than half of our passage is already made. If we are going to fall at all, we must be falling now! I'm certain we're not, but, Barbican, you have to find it out!"

Barbican caught the idea like lightning, and, seizing a compass, he began through the floor window to measure the visual angle of the distant Earth. The apparent immobility of the Projectile allowed him to do this with great exactness. Then laying aside the instrument, and wiping off the thick drops of sweat that bedewed his forehead, he began jotting down some figures on a piece of paper. The Captain looked on with keen interest; he knew very well that Barbican was calculating their distance from the Earth by the apparent measure of the terrestrial diameter, and he eyed him anxiously.

Pretty soon his friends saw a color stealing into Barbican's pale face, and a triumphant light glittering in his eye.

"No, my brave boys!" he exclaimed at last throwing down his pencil, "we're not falling! Far from it, we are at present more than 150 thousand miles from the Earth!"

"Hurrah!" } "Bravo!" } cried M'Nicholl and Ardan, in a breath.

"We have passed the point where we should have stopped if we had had no more initial velocity than the Cambridge men allowed us!"

"Hurrah! hurrah!"

"Bravo, Bravissimo!"

"And we're still going up!"

"Glory, glory, hallelujah!" sang M'Nicholl, in the highest excitement.

""Vive ce cher Barbican!"" cried Ardan, bursting into French as usual whenever his feelings had the better of him.

"Of course we're marching on!" continued M'Nicholl, "and I know the reason why, too. Those 400,000 pounds of gun-cotton gave us greater initial velocity than we had expected!"

"You're right, Captain!" added Barbican; "besides, you must not forget that, by getting rid of the water, the Projectile was relieved of considerable weight!"

"Correct again!" cried the Captain. "I had not thought of that!"

"Therefore, my brave boys," continued Barbican, with some excitement; "away with melancholy! We're all right!"

"Yes; everything is lovely and the goose hangs high!" cried the Captain, who on grand occasions was not above a little slang.

"Talking of goose reminds me of breakfast," cried Ardan; "I assure you, my fright has not taken away my appetite!"

"Yes," continued Barbican. "Captain, you're quite right. Our initial velocity very fortunately was much greater than what our Cambridge friends had calculated for us!"

"Hang our Cambridge friends and their calculations!" cried Ardan, with some asperity; "as usual with your scientific men they've more brass than brains! If we're not now bed-fellows with the oysters in the Gulf of Mexico, no thanks to our kind Cambridge friends. But talking of oysters, let me remind you again that breakfast is ready."

The meal was a most joyous one. They ate much, they talked more, but they laughed most. The little incident of Algebra had certainly very much enlivened the situation.

"Now, my boys," Ardan went on, "all things thus turning out quite comfortable, I would just ask you why we should not succeed? We are fairly started. No breakers ahead that I can see. No rock on our road. It is freer than the ships on the raging ocean, aye, freer than the balloons in the blustering air. But the ship arrives at her destination; the balloon, borne on the wings of the wind, rises to as high an altitude as can be endured; why then should not our Projectile reach the Moon?"

"It "will" reach the Moon!" nodded Barbican.

"We shall reach the Moon or know for what!" cried M'Nicholl, enthusiastically.

"The great American nation must not be disappointed!" continued Ardan. "They are the only people on Earth capable of originating such an enterprise! They are the only people capable of producing a Barbican!"

"Hurrah!" cried M'Nicholl.

"That point settled," continued the Frenchman, "another question comes up to which I have not yet called your attention. When we get to the Moon, what shall we do there? How are we going to amuse ourselves? I'm afraid our life there will be awfully slow!"

His companions emphatically disclaimed the possibility of such a thing.

"You may deny it, but I know better, and knowing better, I have laid in my stores accordingly. You have but to choose. I possess a varied assortment. Chess, draughts, cards, dominoes--everything in fact, but a billiard table?"

"What!" exclaimed Barbican; "cumbered yourself with such gimcracks?"

"Such gimcracks are not only good to amuse ourselves with, but are eminently calculated also to win us the friendship of the Selenites."

"Friend Michael," said Barbican, "if the Moon is inhabited at all, her inhabitants must have appeared several thousand years before the advent of Man on our Earth, for there seems to be very little doubt that Luna is considerably older than Terra in her present state. Therefore, Selenites, if their brain is organized like our own, must have by this time invented all that we are possessed of, and even much which we are still to invent in the course of ages. The probability is that, instead of their learning from us, we shall have much to learn from them."

"What!" asked Ardan, "you think they have artists like Phidias, Michael Angelo and Raphael?"

"Certainly."

"And poets like Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakspeare, Göthe and Hugo?"

"Not a doubt of it."

"And philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Bacon, Kant?"

"Why not?"

"And scientists like Euclid, Archimedes, Copernicus, Newton, Pascal?"

"I should think so."

"And famous actors, and singers, and composers, and--and photographers?"

"I could almost swear to it."

"Then, dear boy, since they have gone ahead as far as we and even farther, why have not those great Selenites tried to start a communication with the Earth? Why have they not fired a projectile from the regions lunar to the regions terrestrial?"

"Who says they have not done so?" asked Barbican, coolly.

"Attempting such a communication," observed the Captain, "would certainly be much easier for them than for us, principally for two reasons. First, attraction on the Moon's surface being six times less than on the Earth's, a projectile could be sent off more rapidly; second, because, as this projectile need be sent only 24 instead of 240 thousand miles, they could do it with a quantity of powder ten times less than what we should require for the same purpose."

"Then I ask again," said the Frenchman; "why haven't they made such an attempt?"

"And I reply again," answered Barbican. "How do you know that they have not made such an attempt?"

"Made it? When?"

"Thousands of years ago, before the invention of writing, before even the appearance of Man on the Earth."

"But the bullet?" asked Ardan, triumphantly; "Where's the bullet? Produce the bullet!"

"Friend Michael," answered Barbican, with a quiet smile, "you appear to forget that the 5/6 of the surface of our Earth is water. 5 to 1, therefore, that the bullet is more likely to be lying this moment at the bottom of the Atlantic or the Pacific than anywhere else on the surface of our globe. Besides, it may have sunk into some weak point of the surface, at the early epoch when the crust of the Earth had not acquired sufficient solidity."

"Captain," said Ardan, turning with a smile to M'Nicholl; "no use in trying to catch Barby; slippery as an eel, he has an answer for everything. Still I have a theory on the subject myself, which I think it no harm to ventilate. It is this: The Selenites have never sent us any projectile at all, simply because they had no gunpowder: being older and wiser than we, they were never such fools as to invent any.--But, what's that? Diana howling for her breakfast! Good! Like genuine scientific men, while squabbling over nonsense, we let the poor animals die of hunger. Excuse us, Diana; it is not the first time the little suffer from the senseless disputes of the great."

So saying he laid before the animal a very toothsome pie, and contemplated with evident pleasure her very successful efforts towards its hasty and complete disappearance.

"Looking at Diana," he went on, "makes me almost wish we had made a Noah's Ark of our Projectile by introducing into it a pair of all the domestic animals!"

"Not room enough," observed Barbican.

"No doubt," remarked the Captain, "the ox, the cow, the horse, the goat, all the ruminating animals would be very useful in the Lunar continent. But we couldn't turn our Projectile into a stable, you know."

"Still, we might have made room for a pair of poor little donkeys!" observed Ardan; "how I love the poor beasts. Fellow feeling, you will say. No doubt, but there really is no animal I pity more. They are the most ill-treated brutes in all creation. They are not only banged during life; they are banged worse after death!"

"Hey! How do you make that out?" asked his companions, surprised.

"Because we make their skins into drum heads!" replied Ardan, with an air, as if answering a conundrum.

Barbican and M'Nicholl could hardly help laughing at the absurd reply of their lively companion, but their hilarity was soon stopped by the expression his face assumed as he bent over Satellite's body, where it lay stretched on the sofa.

"What's the matter now?" asked Barbican.

"Satellite's attack is over," replied Ardan.

"Good!" said M'Nicholl, misunderstanding him.

"Yes, I suppose it is good for the poor fellow," observed Ardan, in melancholy accents. "Life with one's skull broken is hardly an enviable possession. Our grand acclimatization project is knocked sky high, in more senses than one!"

There was no doubt of the poor dog's death. The expression of Ardan's countenance, as he looked at his friends, was of a very rueful order.

"Well," said the practical Barbican, "there's no help for that now; the next thing to be done is to get rid of the body. We can't keep it here with us forty-eight hours longer."

"Of course not," replied the Captain, "nor need we; our lights, being provided with hinges, can be lifted back. What is to prevent us from opening one of them, and flinging the body out through it!"

The President of the Gun Club reflected a few minutes; then he spoke:

"Yes, it can be done; but we must take the most careful precautions."

"Why so?" asked Ardan.

"For two simple reasons;" replied Barbican; "the first refers to the air enclosed in the Projectile, and of which we must be very careful to lose only the least possible quantity."

"But as we manufacture air ourselves!" objected Ardan.

"We manufacture air only partly, friend Michael," replied Barbican. "We manufacture only oxygen; we can't supply nitrogen--By the bye, Ardan, won't you watch the apparatus carefully every now and then to see that the oxygen is not generated too freely. Very serious consequences would attend an immoderate supply of oxygen--No, we can't manufacture nitrogen, which is so absolutely necessary for our air and which might escape readily through the open windows."

"What! the few seconds we should require for flinging out poor Satellite?"

"A very few seconds indeed they should be," said Barbican, very gravely.

"Your second reason?" asked Ardan.

"The second reason is, that we must not allow the external cold, which must be exceedingly great, to penetrate into our Projectile and freeze us alive."

"But the Sun, you know--"

"Yes, the Sun heats our Projectile, but it does not heat the vacuum through which we are now floating. Where there is no air there can neither be heat nor light; just as wherever the rays of the Sun do not arrive directly, it must be both cold and dark. The temperature around us, if there be anything that can be called temperature, is produced solely by stellar radiation. I need not say how low that is in the scale, or that it would be the temperature to which our Earth should fall, if the Sun were suddenly extinguished."

"Little fear of that for a few more million years," said M'Nicholl.

"Who can tell?" asked Ardan. "Besides, even admitting that the Sun will not soon be extinguished, what is to prevent the Earth from shooting away from him?"

"Let friend Michael speak," said Barbican, with a smile, to the Captain; "we may learn something."

"Certainly you may," continued the Frenchman, "if you have room for anything new. Were we not struck by a comet's tail in 1861?"

"So it was said, anyhow," observed the Captain. "I well remember what nonsense there was in the papers about the 'phosphorescent auroral glare.'"

"Well," continued the Frenchman, "suppose the comet of 1861 influenced the Earth by an attraction superior to the Sun's. What would be the consequence? Would not the Earth follow the attracting body, become its satellite, and thus at last be dragged off to such a distance that the Sun's rays could no longer excite heat on her surface?"

"Well, that might possibly occur," said Barbican slowly, "but even then I question if the consequences would be so terrible as you seem to apprehend."

"Why not?"

"Because the cold and the heat might still manage to be nearly equalized on our globe. It has been calculated that, had the Earth been carried off by the comet of '61, when arrived at her greatest distance, she would have experienced a temperature hardly sixteen times greater than the heat we receive from the Moon, which, as everybody knows, produces no appreciable effect, even when concentrated to a focus by the most powerful lenses."

"Well then," exclaimed Ardan, "at such a temperature--"

"Wait a moment," replied Barbican. "Have you never heard of the principle of compensation? Listen to another calculation. Had the Earth been dragged along with the comet, it has been calculated that at her perihelion, or nearest point to the Sun, she would have to endure a heat 28,000 times greater than our mean summer temperature. But this heat, fully capable of turning the rocks into glass and the oceans into vapor, before proceeding to such extremity, must have first formed a thick interposing ring of clouds, and thus considerably modified the excessive temperature. Therefore, between the extreme cold of the aphelion and the excessive heat of the perihelion, by the great law of compensation, it is probable that the mean temperature would be tolerably endurable."

"At how many degrees is the temperature of the interplanetary space estimated?" asked M'Nicholl.

"Some time ago," replied Barbican, "this temperature was considered to be very low indeed--millions and millions of degrees below zero. But Fourrier of Auxerre, a distinguished member of the "Académie des Sciences", whose "Mémoires" on the temperature of the Planetary spaces appeared about 1827, reduced these figures to considerably diminished proportions. According to his careful estimation, the temperature of space is not much lower than 70 or 80 degrees Fahr. below zero."

"No more?" asked Ardan.

"No more," answered Barbican, "though I must acknowledge we have only his word for it, as the "Mémoire" in which he had recorded all the elements of that important determination, has been lost somewhere, and is no longer to be found."

"I don't attach the slightest importance to his, or to any man's words, unless they are sustained by reliable evidence," exclaimed M'Nicholl. "Besides, if I'm not very much mistaken, Pouillet--another countryman of yours, Ardan, and an Academician as well as Fourrier--esteems the temperature of interplanetary spaces to be at least 256° Fahr. below zero. This we can easily verify for ourselves this moment by actual experiment."

"Not just now exactly," observed Barbican, "for the solar rays, striking our Projectile directly, would give us a very elevated instead of a very low temperature. But once arrived at the Moon, during those nights fifteen days long, which each of her faces experiences alternately, we shall have plenty of time to make an experiment with every condition in our favor. To be sure, our Satellite is at present moving in a vacuum."

"A vacuum?" asked Ardan; "a perfect vacuum?"

"Well, a perfect vacuum as far as air is concerned."

"But is the air replaced by nothing?"

"Oh yes," replied Barbican. "By ether."

"Ah, ether! and what, pray, is ether?"

"Ether, friend Michael, is an elastic gas consisting of imponderable atoms, which, as we are told by works on molecular physics, are, in proportion to their size, as far apart as the celestial bodies are from each other in space. This distance is less than the 1/3000000 x 1/1000', or the one trillionth of a foot. The vibrations of the molecules of this ether produce the sensations of light and heat, by making 430 trillions of undulations per second, each undulation being hardly more than the one ten-millionth of an inch in width."

"Trillions per second! ten-millionths of an inch in width!" cried Ardan. "These oscillations have been very neatly counted and ticketed, and checked off! Ah, friend Barbican," continued the Frenchman, shaking his head, "these numbers are just tremendous guesses, frightening the ear but revealing nothing to the intelligence."

"To get ideas, however, we must calculate--"

"No, no!" interrupted Ardan: "not calculate, but compare. A trillion tells you nothing--Comparison, everything. For instance, you say, the volume of "Uranus" is 76 times greater than the Earth's; "Saturn's" 900 times greater; "Jupiter's" 1300 times greater; the Sun's 1300 thousand times greater--You may tell me all that till I'm tired hearing it, and I shall still be almost as ignorant as ever. For my part I prefer to be told one of those simple comparisons that I find in the old almanacs: The Sun is a globe two feet in diameter; "Jupiter", a good sized orange; "Saturn", a smaller orange; "Neptune", a plum; "Uranus", a good sized cherry; the Earth, a pea; "Venus", also a pea but somewhat smaller; "Mars", a large pin's head; "Mercury", a mustard seed; "Juno", "Ceres", "Vesta", "Pallas", and the other asteroids so many grains of sand. Be told something like that, and you have got at least the tail of an idea!"

This learned burst of Ardan's had the natural effect of making his hearers forget what they had been arguing about, and they therefore proceeded at once to dispose of Satellite's body. It was a simple matter enough--no more than to fling it out of the Projectile into space, just as the sailors get rid of a dead body by throwing it into the sea. Only in this operation they had to act, as Barbican recommended, with the utmost care and dispatch, so as to lose as little as possible of the internal air, which, by its great elasticity, would violently strive to escape. The bolts of the floor-light, which was more than a foot in diameter, were carefully unscrewed, while Ardan, a good deal affected, prepared to launch his dog's body into space. The glass, worked by a powerful lever which enabled it to overcome the pressure of the enclosed air, turned quickly on its hinges, and poor Satellite was dropped out. The whole operation was so well managed that very little air escaped, and ever afterwards Barbican employed the same means to rid the Projectile of all the litter and other useless matter by which it was occasionally encumbered.

The evening of this third of December wore away without further incident. As soon as Barbican had announced that the Projectile was still winging its way, though with retarded velocity, towards the lunar disc, the travellers quietly retired to rest.

[Illustration: POOR SATELLITE WAS DROPPED OUT.]

CHAPTER VI.

INSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATION.

On the fourth of December, the Projectile chronometers marked five o'clock in the morning, just as the travellers woke up from a pleasant slumber. They had now been 54 hours on their journey. As to lapse of "time", they had passed not much more than half of the number of hours during which their trip was to last; but, as to lapse of "space", they had already accomplished very nearly the seven-tenths of their passage. This difference between time and distance was due to the regular retardation of their velocity.

They looked at the earth through the floor-light, but it was little more than visible--a black spot drowned in the solar rays. No longer any sign of a crescent, no longer any sign of ashy light. Next day, towards midnight, the Earth was to be "new", at the precise moment when the Moon was to be "full". Overhead, they could see the Queen of Night coming nearer and nearer to the line followed by the Projectile, and evidently approaching the point where both should meet at the appointed moment. All around, the black vault of heaven was dotted with luminous points which seemed to move somewhat, though, of course, in their extreme distance their relative size underwent no change. The Sun and the stars looked exactly as they had appeared when observed from the Earth. The Moon indeed had become considerably enlarged in size, but the travellers' telescopes were still too weak to enable them to make any important observation regarding the nature of her surface, or that might determine her topographical or geological features.

Naturally, therefore, the time slipped away in endless conversation. The Moon, of course, was the chief topic. Each one contributed his share of peculiar information, or peculiar ignorance, as the case might be. Barbican and M'Nicholl always treated the subject gravely, as became learned scientists, but Ardan preferred to look on things with the eye of fancy. The Projectile, its situation, its direction, the incidents possible to occur, the precautions necessary to take in order to break the fall on the Moon's surface--these and many other subjects furnished endless food for constant debate and inexhaustible conjectures.

For instance, at breakfast that morning, a question of Ardan's regarding the Projectile drew from Barbican an answer curious enough to be reported.

"Suppose, on the night that we were shot up from Stony Hill," said Ardan, "suppose the Projectile had encountered some obstacle powerful enough to stop it--what would be the consequence of the sudden halt?"

"But," replied Barbican, "I don't understand what obstacle it could have met powerful enough to stop it."

"Suppose some obstacle, for the sake of argument," said Ardan.

"Suppose what can't be supposed," replied the matter-of-fact Barbican, "what cannot possibly be supposed, unless indeed the original impulse proved too weak. In that case, the velocity would have decreased by degrees, but the Projectile itself would not have suddenly stopped."

"Suppose it had struck against some body in space."

"What body, for instance?"

"Well, that enormous bolide which we met."

"Oh!" hastily observed the Captain, "the Projectile would have been dashed into a thousand pieces and we along with it."

"Better than that," observed Barbican; "we should have been burned alive."

"Burned alive!" laughed Ardan. "What a pity we missed so interesting an experiment! How I should have liked to find out how it felt!"

"You would not have much time to record your observations, friend Michael, I assure you," observed Barbican. "The case is plain enough. Heat and motion are convertible terms. What do we mean by heating water? Simply giving increased, in fact, violent motion to its molecules."

"Well!" exclaimed the Frenchman, "that's an ingenious theory any how!"

"Not only ingenious but correct, my dear friend, for it completely explains all the phenomena of caloric. Heat is nothing but molecular movement, the violent oscillation of the particles of a body. When you apply the brakes to the train, the train stops. But what has become of its motion? It turns into heat and makes the brakes hot. Why do people grease the axles? To hinder them from getting too hot, which they assuredly would become if friction was allowed to obstruct the motion. You understand, don't you?"

"Don't I though?" replied Ardan, apparently in earnest. "Let me show you how thoroughly. When I have been running hard and long, I feel myself perspiring like a bull and hot as a furnace. Why am I then forced to stop? Simply because my motion has been transformed into heat! Of course, I understand all about it!"

Barbican smiled a moment at this comical illustration of his theory and then went on:

"Accordingly, in case of a collision it would have been all over instantly with our Projectile. You have seen what becomes of the bullet that strikes the iron target. It is flattened out of all shape; sometimes it is even melted into a thin film. Its motion has been turned into heat. Therefore, I maintain that if our Projectile had struck that bolide, its velocity, suddenly checked, would have given rise to a heat capable of completely volatilizing it in less than a second."

"Not a doubt of it!" said the Captain. "President," he added after a moment, "haven't they calculated what would be the result, if the Earth were suddenly brought to a stand-still in her journey, through her orbit?"

"It has been calculated," answered Barbican, "that in such a case so much heat would be developed as would instantly reduce her to vapor."

"Hm!" exclaimed Ardan; "a remarkably simple way for putting an end to the world!"

"And supposing the Earth to fall into the Sun?" asked the Captain.

"Such a fall," answered Barbican, "according to the calculations of Tyndall and Thomson, would develop an amount of heat equal to that produced by sixteen hundred globes of burning coal, each globe equal in size to the earth itself. Furthermore such a fall would supply the Sun with at least as much heat as he expends in a hundred years!"

"A hundred years! Good! Nothing like accuracy!" cried Ardan. "Such infallible calculators as Messrs. Tyndall and Thomson I can easily excuse for any airs they may give themselves. They must be of an order much higher than that of ordinary mortals like us!"

"I would not answer myself for the accuracy of such intricate problems," quietly observed Barbican; "but there is no doubt whatever regarding one fact: motion suddenly interrupted always develops heat. And this has given rise to another theory regarding the maintenance of the Sun's temperature at a constant point. An incessant rain of bolides falling on his surface compensates sufficiently for the heat that he is continually giving forth. It has been calculated--"

"Good Lord deliver us!" cried Ardan, putting his hands to his ears: "here comes Tyndall and Thomson again!"

--"It has been calculated," continued Barbican, not heeding the interruption, "that the shock of every bolide drawn to the Sun's surface by gravity, must produce there an amount of heat equal to that of the combustion of four thousand blocks of coal, each the same size as the falling bolide."

"I'll wager another cent that our bold savants calculated the heat of the Sun himself," cried Ardan, with an incredulous laugh.

"That is precisely what they have done," answered Barbican referring to his memorandum book; "the heat emitted by the Sun," he continued, "is exactly that which would be produced by the combustion of a layer of coal enveloping the Sun's surface, like an atmosphere, 17 miles in thickness."

"Well done! and such heat would be capable of--?"

"Of melting in an hour a stratum of ice 2400 feet thick, or, according to another calculation, of raising a globe of ice-cold water, 3 times the size of our Earth, to the boiling point in an hour."

"Why not calculate the exact fraction of a second it would take to cook a couple of eggs?" laughed Ardan. "I should as soon believe in one calculation as in the other.--But--by the by--why does not such extreme heat cook us all up like so many beefsteaks?"

"For two very good and sufficient reasons," answered Barbican. "In the first place, the terrestrial atmosphere absorbs the 4/10 of the solar heat. In the second, the quantity of solar heat intercepted by the Earth is only about the two billionth part of all that is radiated."

"How fortunate to have such a handy thing as an atmosphere around us," cried the Frenchman; "it not only enables us to breathe, but it actually keeps us from sizzling up like griskins."

"Yes," said the Captain, "but unfortunately we can't say so much for the Moon."

"Oh pshaw!" cried Ardan, always full of confidence. "It's all right there too! The Moon is either inhabited or she is not. If she is, the inhabitants must breathe. If she is not, there must be oxygen enough left for we, us and co., even if we should have to go after it to the bottom of the ravines, where, by its gravity, it must have accumulated! So much the better! we shall not have to climb those thundering mountains!"

So saying, he jumped up and began to gaze with considerable interest on the lunar disc, which just then was glittering with dazzling brightness.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed at length; "it must be pretty hot up there!"

"I should think so," observed the Captain; "especially when you remember that the day up there lasts 360 hours!"

"Yes," observed Barbican, "but remember on the other hand that the nights are just as long, and, as the heat escapes by radiation, the mean temperature cannot be much greater than that of interplanetary space."

"A high old place for living in!" cried Ardan. "No matter! I wish we were there now! Wouldn't it be jolly, dear boys, to have old Mother Earth for our Moon, to see her always on our sky, never rising, never setting, never undergoing any change except from New Earth to Last Quarter! Would not it be fun to trace the shape of our great Oceans and Continents, and to say: 'there is the Mediterranean! there is China! there is the gulf of Mexico! there is the white line of the Rocky Mountains where old Marston is watching for us with his big telescope!' Then we should see every line, and brightness, and shadow fade away by degrees, as she came nearer and nearer to the Sun, until at last she sat completely lost in his dazzling rays! But--by the way--Barbican, are there any eclipses in the Moon?"

"O yes; solar eclipses" replied Barbican, "must always occur whenever the centres of the three heavenly bodies are in the same line, the Earth occupying the middle place. However, such eclipses must always be annular, as the Earth, projected like a screen on the solar disc, allows more than half of the Sun to be still visible."

"How is that?" asked M'Nicholl, "no total eclipses in the Moon? Surely the cone of the Earth's shadow must extend far enough to envelop her surface?"

"It does reach her, in one sense," replied Barbican, "but it does not in another. Remember the great refraction of the solar rays that must be produced by the Earth's atmosphere. It is easy to show that this refraction prevents the Sun from ever being totally invisible. See here!" he continued, pulling out his tablets, "Let "a" represent the horizontal parallax, and "b" the half of the Sun's apparent diameter--"

"Ouch!" cried the Frenchman, making a wry face, "here comes Mr. "x" square riding to the mischief on a pair of double zeros again! Talk English, or Yankee, or Dutch, or Greek, and I'm your man! Even a little Arabic I can digest! But hang me, if I can endure your Algebra!"

"Well then, talking Yankee," replied Barbican with a smile, "the mean distance of the Moon from the Earth being sixty terrestrial radii, the length of the conic shadow, in consequence of atmospheric refraction, is reduced to less than forty-two radii. Consequently, at the moment of an eclipse, the Moon is far beyond the reach of the real shadow, so that she can see not only the border rays of the Sun, but even those proceeding from his very centre."

"Oh then," cried Ardan with a loud laugh, "we have an eclipse of the Sun at the moment when the Sun is quite visible! Isn't that very like a bull, Mr. Philosopher Barbican?"

"Yet it is perfectly true notwithstanding," answered Barbican. "At such a moment the Sun is not eclipsed, because we can see him: and then again he is eclipsed because we see him only by means of a few of his rays, and even these have lost nearly all their brightness in their passage through the terrestrial atmosphere!"

"Barbican is right, friend Michael," observed the Captain slowly: "the same phenomenon occurs on earth every morning at sunrise, when refraction shows us

'"the Sun new ris'n Looking through the horizontal misty air, Shorn of his beams."'"

"He must be right," said Ardan, who, to do him justice, though quick at seeing a reason, was quicker to acknowledge its justice: "yes, he must be right, because I begin to understand at last very clearly what he really meant. However, we can judge for ourselves when we get there.--But, apropos of nothing, tell me, Barbican, what do you think of the Moon being an ancient comet, which had come so far within the sphere of the Earth's attraction as to be kept there and turned into a satellite?"

"Well, that "is" an original idea!" said Barbican with a smile.

"My ideas generally are of that category," observed Ardan with an affectation of dry pomposity.

"Not this time, however, friend Michael," observed M'Nicholl.

"Oh! I'm a plagiarist, am I?" asked the Frenchman, pretending to be irritated.

"Well, something very like it," observed M'Nicholl quietly. "Apollonius Rhodius, as I read one evening in the Philadelphia Library, speaks of the Arcadians of Greece having a tradition that their ancestors were so ancient that they inhabited the Earth long before the Moon had ever become our satellite. They therefore called them [Greek: "Proselênoi"] or "Ante-lunarians". Now starting with some such wild notion as this, certain scientists have looked on the Moon as an ancient comet brought close enough to the Earth to be retained in its orbit by terrestrial attraction."

"Why may not there be something plausible in such a hypothesis?" asked Ardan with some curiosity.

"There is nothing whatever in it," replied Barbican decidedly: "a simple proof is the fact that the Moon does not retain the slightest trace of the vaporous envelope by which comets are always surrounded."

"Lost her tail you mean," said Ardan. "Pooh! Easy to account for that! It might have got cut off by coming too close to the Sun!"

"It might, friend Michael, but an amputation by such means is not very likely."

"No? Why not?"

"Because--because--By Jove, I can't say, because I don't know," cried Barbican with a quiet smile on his countenance.

"Oh what a lot of volumes," cried Ardan, "could be made out of what we don't know!"

"At present, for instance," observed M'Nicholl, "I don't know what o'clock it is."

"Three o'clock!" said Barbican, glancing at his chronometer.

"No!" cried Ardan in surprise. "Bless us! How rapidly the time passes when we are engaged in scientific conversation! Ouf! I'm getting decidedly too learned! I feel as if I had swallowed a library!"

"I feel," observed M'Nicholl, "as if I had been listening to a lecture on Astronomy in the "Star" course."

"Better stir around a little more," said the Frenchman; "fatigue of body is the best antidote to such severe mental labor as ours. I'll run up the ladder a bit." So saying, he paid another visit to the upper portion of the Projectile and remained there awhile whistling "Malbrouk", whilst his companions amused themselves in looking through the floor window.

Ardan was coming down the ladder, when his whistling was cut short by a sudden exclamation of surprise.

"What's the matter?" asked Barbican quickly, as he looked up and saw the Frenchman pointing to something outside the Projectile.

Approaching the window, Barbican saw with much surprise a sort of flattened bag floating in space and only a few yards off. It seemed perfectly motionless, and, consequently, the travellers knew that it must be animated by the same ascensional movement as themselves.

"What on earth can such a consarn be, Barbican?" asked Ardan, who every now and then liked to ventilate his stock of American slang. "Is it one of those particles of meteoric matter you were speaking of just now, caught within the sphere of our Projectile's attraction and accompanying us to the Moon?"

"What I am surprised at," observed the Captain, "is that though the specific gravity of that body is far inferior to that of our Projectile, it moves with exactly the same velocity."

"Captain," said Barbican, after a moment's reflection, "I know no more what that object is than you do, but I can understand very well why it keeps abreast with the Projectile."

"Very well then, why?"

"Because, my dear Captain, we are moving through a vacuum, and because all bodies fall or move--the same thing--with equal velocity through a vacuum, no matter what may be their shape or their specific gravity. It is the air alone that makes a difference of weight. Produce an artificial vacuum in a glass tube and you will see that all objects whatever falling through, whether bits of feather or grains of shot, move with precisely the same rapidity. Up here, in space, like cause and like effect."

"Correct," assented M'Nicholl. "Everything therefore that we shall throw out of the Projectile is bound to accompany us to the Moon."

"Well, we "were" smart!" cried Ardan suddenly.

"How so, friend Michael?" asked Barbican.

"Why not have packed the Projectile with ever so many useful objects, books, instruments, tools, et cetera, and fling them out into space once we were fairly started! They would have all followed us safely! Nothing would have been lost! And--now I think on it--why not fling ourselves out through the window? Shouldn't we be as safe out there as that bolide? What fun it would be to feel ourselves sustained and upborne in the ether, more highly favored even than the birds, who must keep on flapping their wings continually to prevent themselves from falling!"

"Very true, my dear boy," observed Barbican; "but how could we breathe?"

"It's a fact," exclaimed the Frenchman. "Hang the air for spoiling our fun! So we must remain shut up in our Projectile?"

"Not a doubt of it!"

--"Oh Thunder!" roared Ardan, suddenly striking his forehead.

"What ails you?" asked the Captain, somewhat surprised.

"Now I know what that bolide of ours is! Why didn't we think of it before? It is no asteroid! It is no particle of meteoric matter! Nor is it a piece of a shattered planet!"

"What is it then?" asked both of his companions in one voice.

[Illustration: SATELLITE'S BODY FLYING THROUGH SPACE.]

"It is nothing more or less than the body of the dog that we threw out yesterday!"

So in fact it was. That shapeless, unrecognizable mass, melted, expunged, flat as a bladder under an unexhausted receiver, drained of its air, was poor Satellite's body, flying like a rocket through space, and rising higher and higher in close company with the rapidly ascending Projectile!

CHAPTER VII.

A HIGH OLD TIME.

A new phenomenon, therefore, strange but logical, startling but admitting of easy explanation, was now presented to their view, affording a fresh subject for lively discussion. Not that they disputed much about it. They soon agreed on a principle from which they readily deducted the following general law: "Every object thrown out of the Projectile should partake of the Projectile's motion: it should therefore follow the same path, and never cease to move until the Projectile itself came to a stand-still."

But, in sober truth, they were at anything but a loss of subjects of warm discussion. As the end of their journey began to approach, their senses became keener and their sensations vivider. Steeled against surprise, they looked for the unexpected, the strange, the startling; and the only thing at which they would have wondered would be to be five minutes without having something new to wonder at. Their excited imaginations flew far ahead of the Projectile, whose velocity, by the way, began to be retarded very decidedly by this time, though, of course, the travellers had as yet no means to become aware of it. The Moon's size on the sky was meantime getting larger and larger; her apparent distance was growing shorter and shorter, until at last they could almost imagine that by putting their hands out they could nearly touch her.

Next morning, December 5th, all were up and dressed at a very early hour. This was to be the last day of their journey, if all calculations were correct. That very night, at 12 o'clock, within nineteen hours at furthest, at the very moment of Full Moon, they were to reach her resplendent surface. At that hour was to be completed the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by man in ancient or modern times. Naturally enough, therefore, they found themselves unable to sleep after four o'clock in the morning; peering upwards through the windows now visibly glittering under the rays of the Moon, they spent some very exciting hours in gazing at her slowly enlarging disc, and shouting at her with confident and joyful hurrahs.

The majestic Queen of the Stars had now risen so high in the spangled heavens that she could hardly rise higher. In a few degrees more she would reach the exact point of space where her junction with the Projectile was to be effected. According to his own observations, Barbican calculated that they should strike her in the northern hemisphere, where her plains, or "seas" as they are called, are immense, and her mountains are comparatively rare. This, of course, would be so much the more favorable, if, as was to be apprehended, the lunar atmosphere was confined exclusively to the low lands.

"Besides," as Ardan observed, "a plain is a more suitable landing place than a mountain. A Selenite deposited on the top of Mount Everest or even on Mont Blanc, could hardly be considered, in strict language, to have arrived on Earth."

"Not to talk," added M'Nicholl, "of the comfort of the thing! When you land on a plain, there you are. When you land on a peak or on a steep mountain side, where are you? Tumbling over an embankment with the train going forty miles an hour, would be nothing to it."

"Therefore, Captain Barbican," cried the Frenchman, "as we should like to appear before the Selenites in full skins, please land us in the snug though unromantic North. We shall have time enough to break our necks in the South."

Barbican made no reply to his companions, because a new reflection had begun to trouble him, to talk about which would have done no good. There was certainly something wrong. The Projectile was evidently heading towards the northern hemisphere of the Moon. What did this prove? Clearly, a deviation resulting from some cause. The bullet, lodged, aimed, and fired with the most careful mathematical precision, had been calculated to reach the very centre of the Moon's disc. Clearly it was not going to the centre now. What could have produced the deviation? This Barbican could not tell; nor could he even determine its extent, having no points of sight by which to make his observations. For the present he tried to console himself with the hope that the deviation of the Projectile would be followed by no worse consequence than carrying them towards the northern border of the Moon, where for several reasons it would be comparatively easier to alight. Carefully avoiding, therefore, the use of any expression which might needlessly alarm his companions, he continued to observe the Moon as carefully as he could, hoping every moment to find some grounds for believing that the deviation from the centre was only a slight one. He almost shuddered at the thought of what would be their situation, if the bullet, missing its aim, should pass the Moon, and plunge into the interplanetary space beyond it.

As he continued to gaze, the Moon, instead of presenting the usual flatness of her disc, began decidedly to show a surface somewhat convex. Had the Sun been shining on her obliquely, the shadows would have certainly thrown the great mountains into strong relief. The eye could then bury itself deep in the yawning chasms of the craters, and easily follow the cracks, streaks, and ridges which stripe, flecker, and bar the immensity of her plains. But for the present all relief was lost in the dazzling glare. The Captain could hardly distinguish even those dark spots that impart to the full Moon some resemblance to the human face.

"Face!" cried Ardan: "well, a very fanciful eye may detect a face, though, for the sake of Apollo's beauteous sister, I regret to say, a terribly pockmarked one!"

The travellers, now evidently approaching the end of their journey, observed the rapidly increasing world above them with newer and greater curiosity every moment. Their fancies enkindled at the sight of the new and strange scenes dimly presented to their view. In imagination they climbed to the summit of this lofty peak. They let themselves down to the abyss of that yawning crater. Here they imagined they saw vast seas hardly kept in their basins by a rarefied atmosphere; there they thought they could trace mighty rivers bearing to vast oceans the tribute of the snowy mountains. In the first promptings of their eager curiosity, they peered greedily into her cavernous depths, and almost expected, amidst the deathlike hush of inaudible nature, to surprise some sound from the mystic orb floating up there in eternal silence through a boundless ocean of never ending vacuum.

This last day of their journey left their memories stored with thrilling recollections. They took careful note of the slightest details. As they neared their destination, they felt themselves invaded by a vague, undefined restlessness. But this restlessness would have given way to decided uneasiness, if they had known at what a slow rate they were travelling. They would have surely concluded that their present velocity would never be able to take them as far as the neutral point, not to talk of passing it. The reason of such considerable retardation was, that by this time the Projectile had reached such a great distance from the Earth that it had hardly any weight. But even this weight, such as it was, was to be diminished still further, and finally, to vanish altogether as soon as the bullet reached the neutral point, where the two attractions, terrestrial and lunar, should counteract each other with new and surprising effects.

Notwithstanding the absorbing nature of his observations, Ardan never forgot to prepare breakfast with his usual punctuality. It was eaten readily and relished heartily. Nothing could be more exquisite than his calf's foot jelly liquefied and prepared by gas heat, except perhaps his meat biscuits of preserved Texas beef and Southdown mutton. A bottle of Château Yquem and another of Clos de Vougeot, both of superlative excellence in quality and flavor, crowned the repast. Their vicinity to the Moon and their incessant glancing at her surface did not prevent the travellers from touching each other's glasses merrily and often. Ardan took occasion to remark that the lunar vineyards--if any existed--must be magnificent, considering the intense solar heat they continually experienced. Not that he counted on them too confidently, for he told his friends that to provide for the worst he had supplied himself with a few cases of the best vintages of Médoc and the Côte d'Or, of which the bottles, then under discussion, might be taken as very favorable specimens.

The Reiset and Regnault apparatus for purifying the air worked splendidly, and maintained the atmosphere in a perfectly sanitary condition. Not an atom of carbonic acid could resist the caustic potash; and as for the oxygen, according to M'Nicholl's expression, "it was A prime number one!"

The small quantity of watery vapor enclosed in the Projectile did no more harm than serving to temper the dryness of the air: many a splendid "salon" in New York, London, or Paris, and many an auditorium, even of theatre, opera house or Academy of Music, could be considered its inferior in what concerned its hygienic condition.

To keep it in perfect working order, the apparatus should be carefully attended to. This, Ardan looked on as his own peculiar occupation. He was never tired regulating the tubes, trying the taps, and testing the heat of the gas by the pyrometer. So far everything had worked satisfactorily, and the travellers, following the example of their friend Marston on a previous occasion, began to get so stout that their own mothers would not know them in another month, should their imprisonment last so long. Ardan said they all looked so sleek and thriving that he was reminded forcibly of a nice lot of pigs fattening in a pen for a country fair. But how long was this good fortune of theirs going to last?

Whenever they took their eyes off the Moon, they could not help noticing that they were still attended outside by the spectre of Satellite's corpse and by the other refuse of the Projectile. An occasional melancholy howl also attested Diana's recognition of her companion's unhappy fate. The travellers saw with surprise that these waifs still seemed perfectly motionless in space, and kept their respective distances apart as mathematically as if they had been fastened with nails to a stone wall.

"I tell you what, dear boys;" observed Ardan, commenting on this curious phenomenon; "if the concussion had been a little too violent for one of us that night, his survivors would have been seriously embarrassed in trying to get rid of his remains. With no earth to cover him up, no sea to plunge him into, his corpse would never disappear from view, but would pursue us day and night, grim and ghastly like an avenging ghost!"

"Ugh!" said the Captain, shuddering at the idea.

"But, by the bye, Barbican!" cried the Frenchman, dropping the subject with his usual abruptness; "you have forgotten something else! Why didn't you bring a scaphander and an air pump? I could then venture out of the Projectile as readily and as safely as the diver leaves his boat and walks about on the bottom of the river! What fun to float in the midst of that mysterious ether! to steep myself, aye, actually to revel in the pure rays of the glorious sun! I should have ventured out on the very point of the Projectile, and there I should have danced and postured and kicked and bobbed and capered in a style that Taglioni never dreamed of!"

"Shouldn't I like to see you!" cried the Captain grimly, smiling at the idea.

"You would not see him long!" observed Barbican quietly. "The air confined in his body, freed from external pressure, would burst him like a shell, or like a balloon that suddenly rises to too great a height in the air! A scaphander would have been a fatal gift. Don't regret its absence, friend Michael; never forget this axiom: "As long as we are floating in empty space, the only spot where safety is possible is inside the Projectile!""

The words "possible" and "impossible" always grated on Ardan's ears. If he had been a lexicographer, he would have rigidly excluded them from his dictionary, both as meaningless and useless. He was preparing an answer for Barbican, when he was cut out by a sudden observation from M'Nicholl.

"See here, friends!" cried the Captain; "this going to the Moon is all very well, but how shall we get back?"

His listeners looked at each other with a surprised and perplexed air. The question, though a very natural one, now appeared to have presented itself to their consideration absolutely for the first time.

"What do you mean by such a question, Captain?" asked Barbican in a grave judicial tone.

"Mac, my boy," said Ardan seriously, "don't it strike you as a little out of order to ask how you are to return when you have not got there yet?"

"I don't ask the question with any idea of backing out," observed the Captain quietly; "as a matter of purely scientific inquiry, I repeat my question: how are we to return?"

"I don't know," replied Barbican promptly.

"For my part," said Ardan; "if I had known how to get back, I should have never come at all!"

"Well! of all the answers!" said the Captain, lifting his hands and shaking his head.

"The best under the circumstances;" observed Barbican; "and I shall further observe that such a question as yours at present is both useless and uncalled for. On some future occasion, when we shall consider it advisable to return, the question will be in order, and we shall discuss it with all the attention it deserves. Though the Columbiad is at Stony Hill, the Projectile will still be in the Moon."

"Much we shall gain by that! A bullet without a gun!"

"The gun we can make and the powder too!" replied Barbican confidently. "Metal and sulphur and charcoal and saltpetre are likely enough to be present in sufficient quantities beneath the Moon's surface. Besides, to return is a problem of comparatively easy solution: we should have to overcome the lunar attraction only--a slight matter--the rest of the business would be readily done by gravity."

"Enough said on the subject!" exclaimed Ardan curtly; "how to get back is indefinitely postponed! How to communicate with our friends on the Earth, is another matter, and, as it seems to me, an extremely easy one."

"Let us hear the very easy means by which you propose to communicate with our friends on Earth," asked the Captain, with a sneer, for he was by this time a little out of humor.

"By means of bolides ejected from the lunar volcanoes," replied the Frenchman without an instant's hesitation.

"Well said, friend Ardan," exclaimed Barbican. "I am quite disposed to acknowledge the feasibility of your plan. Laplace has calculated that a force five times greater than that of an ordinary cannon would be sufficient to send a bolide from the Moon to the Earth. Now there is no cannon that can vie in force with even the smallest volcano."

"Hurrah!" cried Ardan, delighted at his success; "just imagine the pleasure of sending our letters postage free! But--oh! what a splendid idea!--Dolts that we were for not thinking of it sooner!"

"Let us have the splendid idea!" cried the Captain, with some of his old acrimony.

"Why didn't we fasten a wire to the Projectile?" asked Ardan, triumphantly, "It would have enabled us to exchange telegrams with the Earth!"

"Ho! ho! ho!" roared the Captain, rapidly recovering his good humor; "decidedly the best joke of the season! Ha! ha! ha! Of course you have calculated the weight of a wire 240 thousand miles long?"

"No matter about its weight!" cried the Frenchman impetuously; "we should have laughed at its weight! We could have tripled the charge of the Columbiad; we could have quadrupled it!--aye, quintupled it, if necessary!" he added in tones evidently increasing in loudness and violence.

"Yes, friend Michael," observed Barbican; "but there is a slight and unfortunately a fatal defect in your project. The Earth, by its rotation, would have wrapped our wire around herself, like thread around a spool, and dragged us back almost with the speed of lightning!"

"By the Nine gods of Porsena!" cried Ardan, "something is wrong with my head to-day! My brain is out of joint, and I am making as nice a mess of things as my friend Marston was ever capable of! By the bye--talking of Marston--if we never return to the Earth, what is to prevent him from following us to the Moon?"

"Nothing!" replied Barbican; "he is a faithful friend and a reliable comrade. Besides, what is easier? Is not the Columbiad still at Stony Hill? Cannot gun-cotton be readily manufactured on any occasion? Will not the Moon again pass through the zenith of Florida? Eighteen years from now, will she not occupy exactly the same spot that she does to-day?"

"Certainly!" cried Ardan, with increasing enthusiasm, "Marston will come! and Elphinstone of the torpedo! and the gallant Bloomsbury, and Billsby the brave, and all our friends of the Baltimore Gun Club! And we shall receive them with all the honors! And then we shall establish projectile trains between the Earth and the Moon! Hurrah for J.T. Marston!"

"Hurrah for Secretary Marston!" cried the Captain, with an enthusiasm almost equal to Ardan's.

"Hurrah for my dear friend Marston!" cried Barbican, hardly less excited than his comrades.

Our old acquaintance, Marston, of course could not have heard the joyous acclamations that welcomed his name, but at that moment he certainly must have felt his ears most unaccountably tingling. What was he doing at the time? He was rattling along the banks of the Kansas River, as fast as an express train could take him, on the road to Long's Peak, where, by means of the great Telescope, he expected to find some traces of the Projectile that contained his friends. He never forgot them for a moment, but of course he little dreamed that his name at that very time was exciting their vividest recollections and their warmest applause.

In fact, their recollections were rather too vivid, and their applause decidedly too warm. Was not the animation that prevailed among the guests of the Projectile of a very unusual character, and was it not becoming more and more violent every moment? Could the wine have caused it? No; though not teetotallers, they never drank to excess. Could the Moon's proximity, shedding her subtle, mysterious influence over their nervous systems, have stimulated them to a degree that was threatening to border on frenzy? Their faces were as red as if they were standing before a hot fire; their breathing was loud, and their lungs heaved like a smith's bellows; their eyes blazed like burning coals; their voices sounded as loud and harsh as that of a stump speaker trying to make himself heard by an inattentive or hostile crowd; their words popped from their lips like corks from Champagne bottles; their gesticulating became wilder and in fact more alarming--considering the little room left in the Projectile for muscular displays of any kind.

But the most extraordinary part of the whole phenomenon was that neither of them, not even Barbican, had the slightest consciousness of any strange or unusual ebullition of spirits either on his own part or on that of the others.

"See here, gentlemen!" said the Captain in a quick imperious manner--the roughness of his old life on the Mississippi would still break out--"See here, gentlemen! It seems I'm not to know if we are to return from the Moon. Well!--Pass that for the present! But there is one thing I "must" know!"

"Hear! hear the Captain!" cried Barbican, stamping with his foot, like an excited fencing master. "There is one thing he "must" know!"

"I want to know what we're going to do when we get there!"

"He wants to know what we're going to do when we get there! A sensible question! Answer it, Ardan!"

"Answer it yourself, Barbican! You know more about the Moon than I do! You know more about it than all the Nasmyths that ever lived!"

"I'm blessed if I know anything at all about it!" cried Barbican, with a joyous laugh. "Ha, ha, ha! The first eastern shore Marylander or any other simpleton you meet in Baltimore, knows as much about the Moon as I do! Why we're going there, I can't tell! What we're going to do when we get there, can't tell either! Ardan knows all about it! He can tell! He's taking us there!"

"Certainly I can tell! should I have offered to take you there without a good object in view?" cried Ardan, husky with continual roaring. "Answer me that!"

"No conundrums!" cried the Captain, in a voice sourer and rougher than ever; "tell us if you can in plain English, what the demon we have come here for!"

"I'll tell you if I feel like it," cried Ardan, folding his arms with an aspect of great dignity; "and I'll not tell you if I don't feel like it!"

"What's that?" cried Barbican. "You'll not give us an answer when we ask you a reasonable question?"

"Never!" cried Ardan, with great determination. "I'll never answer a question reasonable or unreasonable, unless it is asked in a proper manner!"

"None of your French airs here!" exclaimed M'Nicholl, by this time almost completely out of himself between anger and excitement. "I don't know where I am; I don't know where I'm going; I don't know why I'm going; "you" know all about it, Ardan, or at least you think you do! Well then, give me a plain answer to a plain question, or by the Thirty-eight States of our glorious Union, I shall know what for!"

"Listen, Ardan!" cried Barbican, grappling with the Frenchman, and with some difficulty restraining him from flying at M'Nicholl's throat; "You ought to tell him! It is only your duty! One day you found us both in St. Helena woods, where we had no more idea of going to the Moon than of sailing to the South Pole! There you twisted us both around your finger, and induced us to follow you blindly on the most formidable journey ever undertaken by man! And now you refuse to tell us what it was all for!"

"I don't refuse, dear old Barbican! To you, at least, I can't refuse anything!" cried Ardan, seizing his friend's hands and wringing them violently. Then letting them go and suddenly starting back, "you wish to know," he continued in resounding tones, "why we have followed out the grandest idea that ever set a human brain on fire! Why we have undertaken a journey that for length, danger, and novelty, for fascinating, soul-stirring and delirious sensations, for all that can attract man's burning heart, and satisfy the intensest cravings of his intellect, far surpasses the vividest realities of Dante's passionate dream! Well, I will tell you! It is to annex another World to the New One! It is to take possession of the Moon in the name of the United States of America! It is to add a thirty-ninth State to the glorious Union! It is to colonize the lunar regions, to cultivate them, to people them, to transport to them some of our wonders of art, science, and industry! It is to civilize the Selenites, unless they are more civilized already than we are ourselves! It is to make them all good Republicans, if they are not so already!"

"Provided, of course, that there are Selenites in existence!" sneered the Captain, now sourer than ever, and in his unaccountable excitement doubly irritating.

"Who says there are no Selenites?" cried Ardan fiercely, with fists clenched and brows contracted.

"I do!" cried M'Nicholl stoutly; "I deny the existence of anything of the kind, and I denounce every one that maintains any such whim as a visionary, if not a fool!"

Ardan's reply to this taunt was a desperate facer, which, however, Barbican managed to stop while on its way towards the Captain's nose. M'Nicholl, seeing himself struck at, immediately assumed such a posture of defence as showed him to be no novice at the business. A battle seemed unavoidable; but even at this trying moment Barbican showed himself equal to the emergency.

"Stop, you crazy fellows! you ninnyhammers! you overgrown babies!" he exclaimed, seizing his companions by the collar, and violently swinging them around with his vast strength until they stood back to back; "what are you going to fight about? Suppose there are Lunarians in the Moon! Is that a reason why there should be Lunatics in the Projectile! But, Ardan, why do you insist on Lunarians? Are we so shiftless that we can't do without them when we get to the Moon?"

"I don't insist on them!" cried Ardan, who submitted to Barbican like a child. "Hang the Lunarians! Certainly, we can do without them! What do I care for them? Down with them!"

"Yes, down with the Lunarians!" cried M'Nicholl as spitefully as if he had even the slightest belief in their existence.

"We shall take possession of the Moon ourselves!" cried Ardan. "Lunarians or no Lunarians!"

"We three shall constitute a Republic!" cried M'Nicholl.

"I shall be the House!" cried Ardan.

"And I the Senate!" answered the Captain.

"And Barbican our first President!" shrieked the Frenchman.

"Our first and last!" roared M'Nicholl.

"No objections to a third term!" yelled Ardan.

"He's welcome to any number of terms he pleases!" vociferated M'Nicholl.

"Hurrah for President Barbican of the Lunatic--I mean of the Lunar Republic!" screamed Ardan.

"Long may he wave, and may his shadow never grow less!" shouted Captain M'Nicholl, his eyes almost out of their sockets.

Then with voices reminding you of sand fiercely blown against the window panes, the "President" and the "Senate" chanted the immortal "Yankee Doodle", whilst the "House" delivered itself of the "Marseillaise", in a style which even the wildest Jacobins in Robespierre's day could hardly have surpassed.

But long before either song was ended, all three broke out into a dance, wild, insensate, furious, delirious, paroxysmatical. No Orphic festivals on Mount Cithaeron ever raged more wildly. No Bacchic revels on Mount Parnassus were ever more corybantic. Diana, demented by the maddening example, joined in the orgie, howling and barking frantically in her turn, and wildly jumping as high as the ceiling of the Projectile. Then came new accessions to the infernal din. Wings suddenly began to flutter, cocks to crow, hens to cluck; and five or six chickens, managing to escape out of their coop, flew backwards and forwards blindly, with frightened screams, dashing against each other and against the walls of the Projectile, and altogether getting up as demoniacal a hullabaloo as could be made by ten thousand bats that you suddenly disturbed in a cavern where they had slept through the winter.

Then the three companions, no longer able to withstand the overpowering influence of the mysterious force that mastered them, intoxicated, more than drunk, burned by the air that scorched their organs of respiration, dropped at last, and lay flat, motionless, senseless as dabs of clay, on the floor of the Projectile.

[Illustration: A DEMONIACAL HULLABALOO.]

CHAPTER VIII.

THE NEUTRAL POINT.

What had taken place? Whence proceeded this strange intoxication whose consequences might have proved so disastrous? A little forgetfulness on Ardan's part had done the whole mischief, but fortunately M'Nicholl was able to remedy it in time.

After a regular fainting spell several minutes long, the Captain was the first man to return to consciousness and the full recovery of his intellectual faculties. His first feelings were far from pleasant. His stomach gnawed him as if he had not eaten for a week, though he had taken breakfast only a few hours before; his eyes were dim, his brain throbbing, and his limbs shaking. In short, he presented every symptom usually seen in a man dying of starvation. Picking himself up with much care and difficulty, he roared out to Ardan for something to eat. Seeing that the Frenchman was unable or unwilling to respond, he concluded to help himself, by beginning first of all to prepare a little tea. To do this, fire was necessary; so, to light his lamp, he struck a match.

But what was his surprise at seeing the sulphur tip of the match blazing with a light so bright and dazzling that his eyes could hardly bear it! Touching it to the gas burner, a stream of light flashed forth equal in its intensity to the flame of an electric lamp. Then he understood it all in an instant. The dazzling glare, his maddened brain, his gnawing stomach--all were now clear as the noon-day Sun.

"The oxygen!" he cried, and, suddenly stooping down and examining the tap of the air apparatus, he saw that it had been only half turned off. Consequently the air was gradually getting more and more impregnated with this powerful gas, colorless, odorless, tasteless, infinitely precious, but, unless when strongly diluted with nitrogen, capable of producing fatal disorders in the human system. Ardan, startled by M'Nicholl's question about the means of returning from the Moon, had turned the cock only half off.

The Captain instantly stopped the escape of the oxygen, but not one moment too soon. It had completely saturated the atmosphere. A few minutes more and it would have killed the travellers, not like carbonic acid, by smothering them, but by burning them up, as a strong draught burns up the coals in a stove.

[Illustration: "THE OXYGEN!" HE CRIED.]

It took nearly an hour for the air to become pure enough to allow the lungs their natural play. Slowly and by degrees, the travellers recovered from their intoxication; they had actually to sleep off the fumes of the oxygen as a drunkard has to sleep off the effects of his brandy. When Ardan learned that he was responsible for the whole trouble, do you think the information disconcerted him? Not a bit of it. On the contrary, he was rather proud of having done something startling, to break the monotony of the journey; and to put a little life, as he said, into old Barbican and the grim Captain, so as to get a little fun out of such grave philosophers.

After laughing heartily at the comical figure cut by his two friends capering like crazy students at the "Closerie des Lilas", he went on moralizing on the incident:

"For my part, I'm not a bit sorry for having partaken of this fuddling gas. It gives me an idea, dear boys. Would it not be worth some enterprising fellow's while to establish a sanatorium provided with oxygen chambers, where people of a debilitated state of health could enjoy a few hours of intensely active existence! There's money in it, as you Americans say. Just suppose balls or parties given in halls where the air would be provided with an extra supply of this enrapturing gas! Or, theatres where the atmosphere would be maintained in a highly oxygenated condition. What passion, what fire in the actors! What enthusiasm in the spectators! And, carrying the idea a little further, if, instead of an assembly or an audience, we should oxygenize towns, cities, a whole country--what activity would be infused into the whole people! What new life would electrify a stagnant community! Out of an old used-up nation we could perhaps make a bran-new one, and, for my part, I know more than one state in old Europe where this oxygen experiment might be attended with a decided advantage, or where, at all events, it could do no harm!"

The Frenchman spoke so glibly and gesticulated so earnestly that M'Nicholl once more gravely examined the stop-cock; but Barbican damped his enthusiasm by a single observation.

"Friend Michael," said he, "your new and interesting idea we shall discuss at a more favorable opportunity. At present we want to know where all these cocks and hens have come from."

"These cocks and hens?"

"Yes."

Ardan threw a glance of comical bewilderment on half a dozen or so of splendid barn-yard fowls that were now beginning to recover from the effects of the oxygen. For an instant he could not utter a word; then, shrugging his shoulders, he muttered in a low voice:

"Catastrophe prematurely exploded!"

"What are you going to do with these chickens?" persisted Barbican.

"Acclimatize them in the Moon, by Jove! what else?" was the ready reply.

"Why conceal them then?"

"A hoax, a poor hoax, dear President, which proves a miserable failure! I intended to let them loose on the Lunar Continent at the first favorable opportunity. I often had a good laugh to myself, thinking of your astonishment and the Captain's at seeing a lot of American poultry scratching for worms on a Lunar dunghill!"

"Ah! wag, jester, incorrigible "farceur"!" cried Barbican with a smile; "you want no nitrous oxide to put a bee in your bonnet! He is always as bad as you and I were for a short time, M'Nicholl, under the laughing gas! He's never had a sensible moment in his life!"

"I can't say the same of you," replied Ardan; "you had at least one sensible moment in all your lives, and that was about an hour ago!"

Their incessant chattering did not prevent the friends from at once repairing the disorder of the interior of the Projectile. Cocks and hens were put back in their cages. But while doing so, the friends were astonished to find that the birds, though good sized creatures, and now pretty fat and plump, hardly felt heavier in their hands than if they had been so many sparrows. This drew their interested attention to a new phenomenon.

From the moment they had left the Earth, their own weight, and that of the Projectile and the objects therein contained, had been undergoing a progressive diminution. They might never be able to ascertain this fact with regard to the Projectile, but the moment was now rapidly approaching when the loss of weight would become perfectly sensible, both regarding themselves and the tools and instruments surrounding them. Of course, it is quite clear, that this decrease could not be indicated by an ordinary scales, as the weight to balance the object would have lost precisely as much as the object itself. But a spring balance, for instance, in which the tension of the coil is independent of attraction, would have readily given the exact equivalent of the loss.

Attraction or weight, according to Newton's well known law, acting in direct proportion to the mass of the attracting body and in inverse proportion to the square of the distance, this consequence clearly follows: Had the Earth been alone in space, or had the other heavenly bodies been suddenly annihilated, the further from the Earth the Projectile would be, the less weight it would have. However, it would never "entirely" lose its weight, as the terrestrial attraction would have always made itself felt at no matter what distance. But as the Earth is not the only celestial body possessing attraction, it is evident that there may be a point in space where the respective attractions may be entirely annihilated by mutual counteraction. Of this phenomenon the present instance was a case in point. In a short time, the Projectile and its contents would for a few moments be absolutely and completely deprived of all weight whatsoever.

The path described by the Projectile was evidently a line from the Earth to the Moon averaging somewhat less than 240,000 miles in length. According as the distance between the Projectile and the Earth was increasing, the terrestrial attraction was diminishing in the ratio of the square of the distance, and the lunar attraction was augmenting in the same proportion.

As before observed, the point was not now far off where, the two attractions counteracting each other, the bullet would actually weigh nothing at all. If the masses of the Earth and the Moon had been equal, this should evidently be found half way between the two bodies. But by making allowance for the difference of the respective masses, it was easy to calculate that this point would be situated at the 9/10 of the total distance, or, in round numbers, at something less than 216,000 miles from the Earth.

At this point, a body that possessed no energy or principle of movement within itself, would remain forever, relatively motionless, suspended like Mahomet's coffin, being equally attracted by the two orbs and nothing impelling it in one direction rather than in the other.

Now the Projectile at this moment was nearing this point; if it reached it, what would be the consequence?

To this question three answers presented themselves, all possible under the circumstances, but very different in their results.

1. Suppose the Projectile to possess velocity enough to pass the neutral point. In such case, it would undoubtedly proceed onward to the Moon, being drawn thither by Lunar attraction.

2. Suppose it lacked the requisite velocity for reaching the neutral point. In such a case it would just as certainly fall back to the Earth, in obedience to the law of Terrestrial attraction.

3. Suppose it to be animated by just sufficient velocity to reach the neutral point, but not to pass it. In that case, the Projectile would remain forever in the same spot, perfectly motionless as far as regards the Earth and the Moon, though of course following them both in their annual orbits round the Sun.

Such was now the state of things, which Barbican tried to explain to his friends, who, it need hardly be said, listened to his remarks with the most intense interest. How were they to know, they asked him, the precise instant at which the Projectile would reach the neutral point? That would be an easy matter, he assured them. It would be at the very moment when both themselves and all the other objects contained in the Projectile would be completely free from every operation of the law of gravity; in other words, when everything would cease to have weight.

This gradual diminution of the action of gravity, the travellers had been for some time noticing, but they had not yet witnessed its total cessation. But that very morning, about an hour before noon, as the Captain was making some little experiment in Chemistry, he happened by accident to overturn a glass full of water. What was his surprise at seeing that neither the glass nor the water fell to the floor! Both remained suspended in the air almost completely motionless.

"The prettiest experiment I ever saw!" cried Ardan; "let us have more of it!"

And seizing the bottles, the arms, and the other objects in the Projectile, he arranged them around each other in the air with some regard to symmetry and proportion. The different articles, keeping strictly each in its own place, formed a very attractive group wonderful to behold. Diana, placed in the apex of the pyramid, would remind you of those marvellous suspensions in the air performed by Houdin, Herman, and a few other first class wizards. Only being kept in her place without being hampered by invisible strings, the animal rather seemed to enjoy the exhibition, though in all probability she was hardly conscious of any thing unusual in her appearance.

Our travellers had been fully prepared for such a phenomenon, yet it struck them with as much surprise as if they had never uttered a scientific reason to account for it. They saw that, no longer subject to the ordinary laws of nature, they were now entering the realms of the marvellous. They felt that their bodies were absolutely without weight. Their arms, fully extended, no longer sought their sides. Their heads oscillated unsteadily on their shoulders. Their feet no longer rested on the floor. In their efforts to hold themselves straight, they looked like drunken men trying to maintain the perpendicular. We have all read stories of some men deprived of the power of reflecting light and of others who could not cast a shadow. But here reality, no fantastic story, showed you men who, through the counteraction of attractive forces, could tell no difference between light substances and heavy substances, and who absolutely had no weight whatever themselves!

"Let us take graceful attitudes!" cried Ardan, "and imagine we are playing "tableaux"! Let us, for instance, form a grand historical group of the three great goddesses of the nineteenth century. Barbican will represent Minerva or "Science"; the Captain, Bellona or "War"; while I, as Madre Natura, the newly born goddess of "Progress", floating gracefully over you both, extend my hands so, fondly patronizing the one, but grandly ordering off the other, to the regions of eternal night! More on your toe, Captain! Your right foot a little higher! Look at Barbican's admirable pose! Now then, prepare to receive orders for a new tableau! Form group "à la Jardin Mabille!" Presto! Change!"

In an instant, our travellers, changing attitudes, formed the new group with tolerable success. Even Barbican, who had been to Paris in his youth, yielding for a moment to the humor of the thing, acted the "naif Anglais" to the life. The Captain was frisky enough to remind you of a middle-aged Frenchman from the provinces, on a hasty visit to the capital for a few days' fun. Ardan was in raptures.

"Oh! if Raphael could only see us!" he exclaimed in a kind of ecstasy. "He would paint such a picture as would throw all his other masterpieces in the shade!"

"Knock spots out of the best of them by fifty per cent!" cried the Captain, gesticulating well enough "à l'étudiant", but rather mixing his metaphors.

[Illustration: A GROUP "A LA JARDIN MABILLE".]

"He should be pretty quick in getting through the job," observed Barbican, the first as usual to recover tranquillity. "As soon as the Projectile will have passed the neutral point--in half an hour at longest--lunar attraction will draw us to the Moon."

"We shall have to crawl on the ceiling then like flies," said Ardan.

"Not at all," said the Captain; "the Projectile, having its centre of gravity very low, will turn upside down by degrees."

"Upside down!" cried Ardan. "That will be a nice mess! everything higgledy-piggledy!"

"No danger, friend Michael," said M'Nicholl; "there shall be no disorder whatever; nothing will quit its place; the movement of the Projectile will be effected by such slow degrees as to be imperceptible."

"Yes," added Barbican, "as soon as we shall have passed the neutral point, the base of the Projectile, its heaviest part, will swing around gradually until it faces the Moon. Before this phenomenon, however, can take place, we must of course cross the line."

"Cross the line!" cried the Frenchman; "then let us imitate the sailors when they do the same thing in the Atlantic Ocean! Splice the main brace!"

A slight effort carried him sailing over to the side of the Projectile. Opening a cupboard and taking out a bottle and a few glasses, he placed them on a tray. Then setting the tray itself in the air as on a table in front of his companions, he filled the glasses, passed them around, and, in a lively speech interrupted with many a joyous hurrah, congratulated his companions on their glorious achievement in being the first that ever crossed the lunar line.

This counteracting influence of the attractions lasted nearly an hour. By that time the travellers could keep themselves on the floor without much effort. Barbican also made his companions remark that the conical point of the Projectile diverged a little from the direct line to the Moon, while by an inverse movement, as they could notice through the window of the floor, the base was gradually turning away from the Earth. The Lunar attraction was evidently getting the better of the Terrestrial. The fall towards the Moon, though still almost insensible, was certainly beginning.

It could not be more than the eightieth part of an inch in the first second. But by degrees, as the attractive force would increase, the fall would be more decided, and the Projectile, overbalanced by its base, and presenting its cone to the Earth, would descend with accelerated velocity to the Lunar surface. The object of their daring attempt would then be successfully attained. No further obstacle, therefore, being likely to stand in the way of the complete success of the enterprise, the Captain and the Frenchman cordially shook hands with Barbican, all kept congratulating each other on their good fortune as long as the bottle lasted.

They could not talk enough about the wonderful phenomenon lately witnessed; the chief point, the neutralization of the law of gravity, particularly, supplied them with an inexhaustible subject. The Frenchman, as usual, as enthusiastic in his fancy, as he was fanciful in his enthusiasm, got off some characteristic remarks.

"What a fine thing it would be, my boys," he exclaimed, "if on Earth we could be so fortunate as we have been here, and get rid of that weight that keeps us down like lead, that rivets us to it like an adamantine chain! Then should we prisoners become free! Adieu forever to all weariness of arms or feet! At present, in order to fly over the surface of the Earth by the simple exertion of our muscles or even to sustain ourselves in the air, we require a muscular force fifty times greater than we possess; but if attraction did not exist, the simplest act of the will, our slightest whim even, would be sufficient to transport us to whatever part of space we wished to visit."

"Ardan, you had better invent something to kill attraction," observed M'Nicholl drily; "you can do it if you try. Jackson and Morton have killed pain by sulphuric ether. Suppose you try your hand on attraction!"

"It would be worth a trial!" cried Ardan, so full of his subject as not to notice the Captain's jeering tone; "attraction once destroyed, there is an end forever to all loads, packs and burdens! How the poor omnibus horses would rejoice! Adieu forever to all cranes, derricks, capstans, jack-screws, and even hotel-elevators! We could dispense with all ladders, door steps, and even stair-cases!"

"And with all houses too," interrupted Barbican; "or, at least, we "should" dispense with them because we could not have them. If there was no weight, you could neither make a wall of bricks nor cover your house with a roof. Even your hat would not stay on your head. The cars would not stay on the railway nor the boats on the water. What do I say? We could not have any water. Even the Ocean would leave its bed and float away into space. Nay, the atmosphere itself would leave us, being detained in its place by terrestrial attraction and by nothing else."

"Too true, Mr. President," replied Ardan after a pause. "It's a fact. I acknowledge the corn, as Marston says. But how you positive fellows do knock holes into our pretty little creations of fancy!"

"Don't feel so bad about it, Ardan;" observed M'Nicholl; "though there may be no orb from which gravity is excluded altogether, we shall soon land in one, where it is much less powerful than on the Earth."

"You mean the Moon!"

"Yes, the Moon. Her mass being 1/89 of the Earth's, her attractive power should be in the same proportion; that is, a boy 10 years old, whose weight on Earth is about 90 lbs., would weigh on the Moon only about 1 pound, if nothing else were to be taken into consideration. But when standing on the surface of the Moon, he is relatively 4 times nearer to the centre than when he is standing on the surface of the Earth. His weight, therefore, having to be increased by the square of the distance, must be sixteen times greater. Now 16 times 1/89 being less than 1/5, it is clear that my weight of 150 pounds will be cut down to nearly 30 as soon as we reach the Moon's surface."

"And mine?" asked Ardan.

"Yours will hardly reach 25 pounds, I should think," was the reply.

"Shall my muscular strength diminish in the same proportion?" was the next question.

"On the contrary, it will be relatively so much the more increased that you can take a stride 15 feet in width as easily as you can now take one of ordinary length."

"We shall be all Samsons, then, in the Moon!" cried Ardan.

"Especially," replied M'Nicholl, "if the stature of the Selenites is in proportion to the mass of their globe."

"If so, what should be their height?"

"A tall man would hardly be twelve inches in his boots!"

"They must be veritable Lilliputians then!" cried Ardan; "and we are all to be Gullivers! The old myth of the Giants realized! Perhaps the Titans that played such famous parts in the prehistoric period of our Earth, were adventurers like ourselves, casually arrived from some great planet!"

"Not from such planets as "Mercury", "Venus" or "Mars" anyhow, friend Michael," observed Barbican. "But the inhabitants of "Jupiter", "Saturn", "Uranus," or "Neptune", if they bear the same proportion to their planet that we do ours, must certainly be regular Brobdignagians."

"Let us keep severely away from all planets of the latter class then," said Ardan. "I never liked to play the part of Lilliputian myself. But how about the Sun, Barbican? I always had a hankering after the Sun!"

"The Sun's volume is about 1-1/3 million times greater than that of the Earth, but his density being only about 1/4, the attraction on his surface is hardly 30 times greater than that of our globe. Still, every proportion observed, the inhabitants of the Sun can't be much less than 150 or 160 feet in height."

""Mille tonnerres!"" cried Ardan, "I should be there like Ulysses among the Cyclops! I'll tell you what it is, Barbican; if we ever decide on going to the Sun, we must provide ourselves before hand with a few of your Rodman's Columbiads to frighten off the Solarians!"

"Your Columbiads would not do great execution there," observed M'Nicholl; "your bullet would be hardly out of the barrel when it would drop to the surface like a heavy stone pushed off the wall of a house."

"Oh! I like that!" laughed the incredulous Ardan.

"A little calculation, however, shows the Captain's remark to be perfectly just," said Barbican. "Rodman's ordinary 15 inch Columbiad requires a charge of 100 pounds of mammoth powder to throw a ball of 500 pounds weight. What could such a charge do with a ball weighing 30 times as much or 15,000 pounds? Reflect on the enormous weight everything must have on the surface of the Sun! Your hat, for instance, would weigh 20 or 30 pounds. Your cigar nearly a pound. In short, your own weight on the Sun's surface would be so great, more than two tons, that if you ever fell you should never be able to pick yourself up again!"

"Yes," added the Captain, "and whenever you wanted to eat or drink you should rig up a set of powerful machinery to hoist the eatables and drinkables into your mouth."

"Enough of the Sun to-day, boys!" cried Ardan, shrugging his shoulders; "I don't contemplate going there at present. Let us be satisfied with the Moon! There, at least, we shall be of some account!"

CHAPTER IX.

A LITTLE OFF THE TRACK.

Barbican's mind was now completely at rest at least on one subject. The original force of the discharge had been great enough to send the Projectile beyond the neutral line. Therefore, there was no longer any danger of its falling back to the Earth. Therefore, there was no longer any danger of its resting eternally motionless on the point of the counteracting attractions. The next subject to engage his attention was the question: would the Projectile, under the influence of lunar attraction, succeed in reaching its destination?

The only way in which it "could" succeed was by falling through a space of nearly 24,000 miles and then striking the Moon's surface. A most terrific fall! Even taking the lunar attraction to be only the one-sixth of the Earth's, such a fall was simply bewildering to think of. The greatest height to which a balloon ever ascended was seven miles (Glaisher, 1862). Imagine a fall from even that distance! Then imagine a fall from a height of four thousand miles!

Yet it was for a fall of this appalling kind on the surface of the Moon that the travellers had now to prepare themselves. Instead of avoiding it, however, they eagerly desired it and would be very much disappointed if they missed it. They had taken the best precautions they could devise to guard against the terrific shock. These were mainly of two kinds: one was intended to counteract as much as possible the fearful results to be expected the instant the Projectile touched the lunar surface; the other, to retard the velocity of the fall itself, and thereby to render it less violent.

The best arrangement of the first kind was certainly Barbican's water-contrivance for counteracting the shock at starting, which has been so fully described in our former volume. (See "Baltimore Gun Club", page 353.) But unfortunately it could be no longer employed. Even if the partitions were in working order, the water--two thousand pounds in weight had been required--was no longer to be had. The little still left in the tanks was of no account for such a purpose. Besides, they had not a single drop of the precious liquid to spare, for they were as yet anything but sanguine regarding the facility of finding water on the Moon's surface.

Fortunately, however, as the gentle reader may remember, Barbican, besides using water to break the concussion, had provided the movable disc with stout pillars containing a strong buffing apparatus, intended to protect it from striking the bottom too violently after the destruction of the different partitions. These buffers were still good, and, gravity being as yet almost imperceptible, to put them once more in order and adjust them to the disc was not a difficult task.

The travellers set to work at once and soon accomplished it. The different pieces were put together readily--a mere matter of bolts and screws, with plenty of tools to manage them. In a short time the repaired disc rested on its steel buffers, like a table on its legs, or rather like a sofa seat on its springs. The new arrangement was attended with at least one disadvantage. The bottom light being covered up, a convenient view of the Moon's surface could not be had as soon as they should begin to fall in a perpendicular descent. This, however, was only a slight matter, as the side lights would permit the adventurers to enjoy quite as favorable a view of the vast regions of the Moon as is afforded to balloon travellers when looking down on the Earth over the sides of their car.

The disc arrangement was completed in about an hour, but it was not till past twelve o'clock before things were restored to their usual order. Barbican then tried to make fresh observations regarding the inclination of the Projectile; but to his very decided chagrin he found that it had not yet turned over sufficiently to commence the perpendicular fall: on the contrary, it even seemed to be following a curve rather parallel with that of the lunar disc. The Queen of the Stars now glittered with a light more dazzling than ever, whilst from an opposite part of the sky the glorious King of Day flooded her with his fires.

The situation began to look a little serious.

"Shall we ever get there!" asked the Captain.

"Let us be prepared for getting there, any how," was Barbican's dubious reply.

"You're a pretty pair of suspenders," said Ardan cheerily (he meant of course doubting hesitators, but his fluent command of English sometimes led him into such solecisms). "Certainly we shall get there--and perhaps a little sooner than will be good for us."

This reply sharply recalled Barbican to the task he had undertaken, and he now went to work seriously, trying to combine arrangements to break the fall. The reader may perhaps remember Ardan's reply to the Captain on the day of the famous meeting in Tampa.

"Your fall would be violent enough," the Captain had urged, "to splinter you like glass into a thousand fragments."

"And what shall prevent me," had been Ardan's ready reply, "from breaking my fall by means of counteracting rockets suitably disposed, and let off at the proper time?"

The practical utility of this idea had at once impressed Barbican. It could hardly be doubted that powerful rockets, fastened on the outside to the bottom of the Projectile, could, when discharged, considerably retard the velocity of the fall by their sturdy recoil. They could burn in a vacuum by means of oxygen furnished by themselves, as powder burns in the chamber of a gun, or as the volcanoes of the Moon continue their action regardless of the absence of a lunar atmosphere.

Barbican had therefore provided himself with rockets enclosed in strong steel gun barrels, grooved on the outside so that they could be screwed into corresponding holes already made with much care in the bottom of the Projectile. They were just long enough, when flush with the floor inside, to project outside by about six inches. They were twenty in number, and formed two concentric circles around the dead light. Small holes in the disc gave admission to the wires by which each of the rockets was to be discharged externally by electricity. The whole effect was therefore to be confined to the outside. The mixtures having been already carefully deposited in each barrel, nothing further need be done than to take away the metallic plugs which had been screwed into the bottom of the Projectile, and replace them by the rockets, every one of which was found to fit its grooved chamber with rigid exactness.

This evidently should have been all done before the disc had been finally laid on its springs. But as this had to be lifted up again in order to reach the bottom of the Projectile, more work was to be done than was strictly necessary. Though the labor was not very hard, considering that gravity had as yet scarcely made itself felt, M'Nicholl and Ardan were not sorry to have their little joke at Barbican's expense. The Frenchman began humming

""Aliquandoque bonus dormitat Homerus,""

to a tune from "Orphée aux Enfers", and the Captain said something about the Philadelphia Highway Commissioners who pave a street one day, and tear it up the next to lay the gas pipes. But his friends' humor was all lost on Barbican, who was so wrapped up in his work that he probably never heard a word they said.

Towards three o'clock every preparation was made, every possible precaution taken, and now our bold adventurers had nothing more to do than watch and wait.

The Projectile was certainly approaching the Moon. It had by this time turned over considerably under the influence of attraction, but its own original motion still followed a decidedly oblique direction. The consequence of these two forces might possibly be a tangent, line approaching the edge of the Moon's disc. One thing was certain: the Projectile had not yet commenced to fall directly towards her surface; its base, in which its centre of gravity lay, was still turned away considerably from the perpendicular.

Barbican's countenance soon showed perplexity and even alarm. His Projectile was proving intractable to the laws of gravitation. The "unknown" was opening out dimly before him, the great boundless unknown of the starry plains. In his pride and confidence as a scientist, he had flattered himself with having sounded the consequence of every possible hypothesis regarding the Projectile's ultimate fate: the return to the Earth; the arrival at the Moon; and the motionless dead stop at the neutral point. But here, a new and incomprehensible fourth hypothesis, big with the terrors of the mystic infinite, rose up before his disturbed mind, like a grim and hollow ghost. After a few seconds, however, he looked at it straight in the face without wincing. His companions showed themselves just as firm. Whether it was science that emboldened Barbican, his phlegmatic stoicism that propped up the Captain, or his enthusiastic vivacity that cheered the irrepressible Ardan, I cannot exactly say. But certainly they were all soon talking over the matter as calmly as you or I would discuss the advisability of taking a sail on the lake some beautiful evening in July.

Their first remarks were decidedly peculiar and quite characteristic. Other men would have asked themselves where the Projectile was taking them to. Do you think such a question ever occurred to them? Not a bit of it. They simply began asking each other what could have been the cause of this new and strange state of things.

"Off the track, it appears," observed Ardan. "How's that?"

"My opinion is," answered the Captain, "that the Projectile was not aimed true. Every possible precaution had been taken, I am well aware, but we all know that an inch, a line, even the tenth part of a hair's breadth wrong at the start would have sent us thousands of miles off our course by this time."

"What have you to say to that, Barbican?" asked Ardan.

"I don't think there was any error at the start," was the confident reply; "not even so much as a line! We took too many tests proving the absolute perpendicularity of the Columbiad, to entertain the slightest doubt on that subject. Its direction towards the zenith being incontestable, I don't see why we should not reach the Moon when she comes to the zenith."

"Perhaps we're behind time," suggested Ardan.

"What have you to say to that, Barbican?" asked the Captain. "You know the Cambridge men said the journey had to be done in 97 hours 13 minutes and 20 seconds. That's as much as to say that if we're not up to time we shall miss the Moon."

"Correct," said Barbican. "But we "can't" be behind time. We started, you know, on December 1st, at 13 minutes and 20 seconds before 11 o'clock, and we were to arrive four days later at midnight precisely. To-day is December 5th Gentlemen, please examine your watches. It is now half past three in the afternoon. Eight hours and a half are sufficient to take us to our journey's end. Why should we not arrive there?"

"How about being ahead of time?" asked the Captain.

"Just so!" said Ardan. "You know we have discovered the initial velocity to have been greater than was expected."

"Not at all! not at all!" cried Barbican "A slight excess of velocity would have done no harm whatever had the direction of the Projectile been perfectly true. No. There must have been a digression. We must have been switched off!"

"Switched off? By what?" asked both his listeners in one breath.

"I can't tell," said Barbican curtly.

"Well!" said Ardan; "if Barbican can't tell, there is an end to all further talk on the subject. We're switched off--that's enough for me. What has done it? I don't care. Where are we going to? I don't care. What is the use of pestering our brains about it? We shall soon find out. We are floating around in space, and we shall end by hauling up somewhere or other."

But in this indifference Barbican was far from participating. Not that he was not prepared to meet the future with a bold and manly heart. It was his inability to answer his own question that rendered him uneasy. What "had" switched them off? He would have given worlds for an answer, but his brain sorely puzzled sought one in vain.

In the mean time, the Projectile continued to turn its side rather than its base towards the Moon; that is, to assume a lateral rather than a direct movement, and this movement was fully participated in by the multitude of the objects that had been thrown outside. Barbican could even convince himself by sighting several points on the lunar surface, by this time hardly more than fifteen or eighteen thousand miles distant, that the velocity of the Projectile instead of accelerating was becoming more and more uniform. This was another proof that there was no perpendicular fall. However, though the original impulsive force was still superior to the Moon's attraction, the travellers were evidently approaching the lunar disc, and there was every reason to hope that they would at last reach a point where, the lunar attraction at last having the best of it, a decided fall should be the result.

The three friends, it need hardly be said, continued to make their observations with redoubled interest, if redoubled interest were possible. But with all their care they could as yet determine nothing regarding the topographical details of our radiant satellite. Her surface still reflected the solar rays too dazzlingly to show the relief necessary for satisfactory observation.

Our travellers kept steadily on the watch looking out of the side lights, till eight o'clock in the evening, by which time the Moon had grown so large in their eyes that she covered up fully half the sky. At this time the Projectile itself must have looked like a streak of light, reflecting, as it did, the Sun's brilliancy on the one side and the Moon's splendor on the other.

Barbican now took a careful observation and calculated that they could not be much more than 2,000 miles from the object of their journey. The velocity of the Projectile he calculated to be about 650 feet per second or 450 miles an hour. They had therefore still plenty of time to reach the Moon in about four hours. But though the bottom of the Projectile continued to turn towards the lunar surface in obedience to the law of centripetal force, the centrifugal force was still evidently strong enough to change the path which it followed into some kind of curve, the exact nature of which would be exceedingly difficult to calculate.

The careful observations that Barbican continued to take did not however prevent him from endeavoring to solve his difficult problem. What "had" switched them off? The hours passed on, but brought no result. That the adventurers were approaching the Moon was evident, but it was just as evident that they should never reach her. The nearest point the Projectile could ever possibly attain would only be the result of two opposite forces, the attractive and the repulsive, which, as was now clear, influenced its motion. Therefore, to land in the Moon was an utter impossibility, and any such idea was to be given up at once and for ever.

""Quand même"! What of it!" cried Ardan; after some moments' silence. "We're not to land in the Moon! Well! let us do the next best thing--pass close enough to discover her secrets!"

But M'Nicholl could not accept the situation so coolly. On the contrary, he decidedly lost his temper, as is occasionally the case with even phlegmatic men. He muttered an oath or two, but in a voice hardly loud enough to reach Barbican's ear. At last, impatient of further restraint, he burst out:

"Who the deuce cares for her secrets? To the hangman with her secrets! We started to land in the Moon! That's what's got to be done! That I want or nothing! Confound the darned thing, I say, whatever it was, whether on the Earth or off it, that shoved us off the track!"

"On the Earth or off it!" cried Barbican, striking his head suddenly; "now I see it! You're right, Captain! Confound the bolide that we met the first night of our journey!"

"Hey?" cried Ardan.

"What do you mean?" asked M'Nicholl.

"I mean," replied Barbican, with a voice now perfectly calm, and in a tone of quiet conviction, "that our deviation is due altogether to that wandering meteor."

"Why, it did not even graze us!" cried Ardan.

"No matter for that," replied Barbican. "Its mass, compared to ours, was enormous, and its attraction was undoubtedly sufficiently great to influence our deviation."

"Hardly enough to be appreciable," urged M'Nicholl.

"Right again, Captain," observed Barbican. "But just remember an observation of your own made this very afternoon: an inch, a line, even the tenth part of a hair's breadth wrong at the beginning, in a journey of 240 thousand miles, would be sufficient to make us miss the Moon!"

CHAPTER X.

THE OBSERVERS OF THE MOON.

Barbican's happy conjecture had probably hit the nail on the head. The divergency even of a second may amount to millions of miles if you only have your lines long enough. The Projectile had certainly gone off its direct course; whatever the cause, the fact was undoubted. It was a great pity. The daring attempt must end in a failure due altogether to a fortuitous accident, against which no human foresight could have possibly taken precaution. Unless in case of the occurrence of some other most improbable accident, reaching the Moon was evidently now impossible. To failure, therefore, our travellers had to make up their minds.

But was nothing to be gained by the trip? Though missing actual contact with the Moon, might they not pass near enough to solve several problems in physics and geology over which scientists had been for a long time puzzling their brains in vain? Even this would be some compensation for all their trouble, courage, and intelligence. As to what was to be their own fate, to what doom were themselves to be reserved--they never appeared to think of such a thing. They knew very well that in the midst of those infinite solitudes they should soon find themselves without air. The slight supply that kept them from smothering could not possibly last more than five or six days longer. Five or six days! What of that? "Quand même"! as Ardan often exclaimed. Five or six days were centuries to our bold adventurers! At present every second was a year in events, and infinitely too precious to be squandered away in mere preparations for possible contingencies. The Moon could never be reached, but was it not possible that her surface could be carefully observed? This they set themselves at once to find out.

The distance now separating them from our Satellite they estimated at about 400 miles. Therefore relatively to their power of discovering the details of her disc, they were still farther off from the Moon than some of our modern astronomers are to-day, when provided with their powerful telescopes.

We know, for example, that Lord Rosse's great telescope at Parsonstown, possessing a power of magnifying 6000 times, brings the Moon to within 40 miles of us; not to speak of Barbican's great telescope on the summit of Long's Peak, by which the Moon, magnified 48,000 times, was brought within 5 miles of the Earth, where it therefore could reveal with sufficient distinctness every object above 40 feet in diameter.

Therefore our adventurers, though at such a comparatively small distance, could not make out the topographical details of the Moon with any satisfaction by their unaided vision. The eye indeed could easily enough catch the rugged outline of these vast depressions improperly called "Seas," but it could do very little more. Its powers of adjustability seemed to fail before the strange and bewildering scene. The prominence of the mountains vanished, not only through the foreshortening, but also in the dazzling radiation produced by the direct reflection of the solar rays. After a short time therefore, completely foiled by the blinding glare, the eye turned itself unwillingly away, as if from a furnace of molten silver.

The spherical surface, however, had long since begun to reveal its convexity. The Moon was gradually assuming the appearance of a gigantic egg with the smaller end turned towards the Earth. In the earlier days of her formation, while still in a state of mobility, she had been probably a perfect sphere in shape, but, under the influence of terrestrial gravity operating for uncounted ages, she was drawn at last so much towards the centre of attraction as to resemble somewhat a prolate spheriod. By becoming a satellite, she had lost the native perfect regularity of her outline; her centre of gravity had shifted from her real centre; and as a result of this arrangement, some scientists have drawn the conclusion that the Moon's air and water have been attracted to that portion of her surface which is always invisible to the inhabitants of the Earth.

The convexity of her outline, this bulging prominence of her surface, however, did not last long. The travellers were getting too near to notice it. They were beginning to survey the Moon as balloonists survey the Earth. The Projectile was now moving with great rapidity--with nothing like its initial velocity, but still eight or nine times faster than an express train. Its line of movement, however, being oblique instead of direct, was so deceptive as to induce Ardan to flatter himself that they might still reach the lunar surface. He could never persuade himself to believe that they should get so near their aim and still miss it. No; nothing might, could, would or should induce him to believe it, he repeated again and again. But Barbican's pitiless logic left him no reply.

"No, dear friend, no. We can reach the Moon only by a fall, and we don't fall. Centripetal force keeps us at least for a while under the lunar influence, but centrifugal force drives us away irresistibly."

These words were uttered in a tone that killed Ardan's last and fondest hope.

* * * * *

The portion of the Moon they were now approaching was her northern hemisphere, found usually in the lower part of lunar maps. The lens of a telescope, as is well known, gives only the inverted image of the object; therefore, when an upright image is required, an additional glass must be used. But as every additional glass is an additional obstruction to the light, the object glass of a Lunar telescope is employed without a corrector; light is thereby saved, and in viewing the Moon, as in viewing a map, it evidently makes very little difference whether we see her inverted or not. Maps of the Moon therefore, being drawn from the image formed by the telescope, show the north in the lower part, and "vice versa". Of this kind was the "Mappa Selenographica", by Beer and Maedler, so often previously alluded to and now carefully consulted by Barbican. The northern hemisphere, towards which they were now rapidly approaching, presented a strong contrast with the southern, by its vast plains and great depressions, checkered here and there by very remarkable isolated mountains.[A]

At midnight the Moon was full. This was the precise moment at which the travellers would have landed had not that unlucky bolide drawn them off the track. The Moon was therefore strictly up to time, arriving at the instant rigidly determined by the Cambridge Observatory. She occupied the exact point, to a mathematical nicety, where our 28th parallel crossed the perigee. An observer posted in the bottom of the Columbiad at Stony Hill, would have found himself at this moment precisely under the Moon. The axis of the enormous gun, continued upwards vertically, would have struck the orb of night exactly in her centre.

It is hardly necessary to tell our readers that, during this memorable night of the 5th and 6th of December, the travellers had no desire to close their eyes. Could they do so, even if they had desired? No! All their faculties, thoughts, and desires, were concentrated in one single word: "Look!" Representatives of the Earth, and of all humanity past and present, they felt that it was with their eyes that the race of man contemplated the lunar regions and penetrated the secrets of our satellite! A certain indescribable emotion therefore, combined with an undefined sense of responsibility, held possession of their hearts, as they moved silently from window to window.

Their observations, recorded by Barbican, were vigorously remade, revised, and re-determined, by the others. To make them, they had telescopes which they now began to employ with great advantage. To regulate and investigate them, they had the best maps of the day.

Whilst occupied in this silent work, they could not help throwing a short retrospective glance on the former Observers of the Moon.

The first of these was Galileo. His slight telescope magnified only thirty times, still, in the spots flecking the lunar surface, like the eyes checkering a peacock's tail, he was the first to discover mountains and even to measure their heights. These, considering the difficulties under which he labored, were wonderfully accurate, but unfortunately he made no map embodying his observations.

A few years afterwards, Hevel of Dantzic, (1611-1688) a Polish astronomer--more generally known as Hevelius, his works being all written in Latin--undertook to correct Galileo's measurements. But as his method could be strictly accurate only twice a month--the periods of the first and second quadratures--his rectifications could be hardly called successful.

Still it is to the labors of this eminent astronomer, carried on uninterruptedly for fifty years in his own observatory, that we owe the first map of the Moon. It was published in 1647 under the name of "Selenographia". He represented the circular mountains by open spots somewhat round in shape, and by shaded figures he indicated the vast plains, or, as he called them, the "seas", that occupied so much of her surface. These he designated by names taken from our Earth. His map shows you a "Mount Sinai" the midst of an "Arabia", an "Ætna" in the centre of a "Sicily", "Alps", "Apennines", "Carpathians", a "Mediterranean", a "Palus Mæolis", a "Pontus Euxinus", and a "Caspian Sea". But these names seem to have been given capriciously and at random, for they never recall any resemblance existing between themselves and their namesakes on our globe. In the wide open spot, for instance, connected on the south with vast continents and terminating in a point, it would be no easy matter to recognize the reversed image of the "Indian Peninsula", the "Bay of Bengal", and "Cochin China". Naturally, therefore, these names were nearly all soon dropped; but another system of nomenclature, proposed by an astronomer better acquainted with the human heart, met with a success that has lasted to the present day.

This was Father Riccioli, a Jesuit, and (1598-1671) a contemporary of Hevelius. In his "Astronomia Reformata", (1665), he published a rough and incorrect map of the Moon, compiled from observations made by Grimaldi of Ferrara; but in designating the mountains, he named them after eminent astronomers, and this idea of his has been carefully carried out by map makers of later times.

A third map of the Moon was published at Rome in 1666 by Dominico Cassini of Nice (1625-1712), the famous discoverer of Saturn's satellites. Though somewhat incorrect regarding measurements, it was superior to Riccioli's in execution, and for a long time it was considered a standard work. Copies of this map are still to be found, but Cassini's original copper-plate, preserved for a long time at the "Imprimerie Royale" in Paris, was at last sold to a brazier, by no less a personage than the Director of the establishment himself, who, according to Arago, wanted to get rid of what he considered useless lumber!

La Hire (1640-1718), professor of astronomy in the "Collège de France", and an accomplished draughtsman, drew a map of the Moon which was thirteen feet in diameter. This map could be seen long afterwards in the library of St. Genevieve, Paris, but it was never engraved.

About 1760, Mayer, a famous German astronomer and the director of the observatory of Göttingen, began the publication of a magnificent map of the Moon, drawn after lunar measurements all rigorously verified by himself. Unfortunately his death in 1762 interrupted a work which would have surpassed in accuracy every previous effort of the kind.

Next appears Schroeter of Erfurt (1745-1816), a fine observer (he first discovered the Lunar "Rills"), but a poor draughtsman: his maps are therefore of little value. Lohrman of Dresden published in 1838 an excellent map of the Moon, 15 inches in diameter, accompanied by descriptive text and several charts of particular portions on a larger scale.

But this and all other maps were thrown completely into the shade by Beer and Maedler's famous "Mappa Selenographica", so often alluded to in the course of this work. This map, projected orthographically--that is, one in which all the rays proceeding from the surface to the eye are supposed to be parallel to each other--gives a reproduction of the lunar disc exactly as it appears. The representation of the mountains and plains is therefore correct only in the central portion; elsewhere, north, south, east, or west, the features, being foreshortened, are crowded together, and cannot be compared in measurement with those in the centre. It is more than three feet square; for convenient reference it is divided into four parts, each having a very full index; in short, this map is in all respects a master piece of lunar cartography.[B]

After Beer and Maedler, we should allude to Julius Schmitt's (of Athens) excellent selenographic reliefs: to Doctor Draper's, and to Father Secchi's successful application of photography to lunar representation; to De La Rue's (of London) magnificent stereographs of the Moon, to be had at every optician's; to the clear and correct map prepared by Lecouturier and Chapuis in 1860; to the many beautiful pictures of the Moon in various phases of illumination obtained by the Messrs. Bond of Harvard University; to Rutherford's (of New York) unparalleled lunar photographs; and finally to Nasmyth and Carpenter's wonderful work on the Moon, illustrated by photographs of her surface in detail, prepared from models at which they had been laboring for more than a quarter of the century.

Of all these maps, pictures, and projections, Barbican had provided himself with only two--Beer and Maedler's in German, and Lecouturier and Chapuis' in French. These he considered quite sufficient for all purposes, and certainly they considerably simplified his labors as an observer.

His best optical instruments were several excellent marine telescopes, manufactured especially under his direction. Magnifying the object a hundred times, on the surface of the Earth they would have brought the Moon to within a distance of somewhat less than 2400 miles. But at the point to which our travellers had arrived towards three o'clock in the morning, and which could hardly be more than 12 or 1300 miles from the Moon, these telescopes, ranging through a medium disturbed by no atmosphere, easily brought the lunar surface to within less than 13 miles' distance from the eyes of our adventurers.

Therefore they should now see objects in the Moon as clearly as people can see the opposite bank of a river that is about 12 miles wide.

[Footnote A: In our Map of the Moon, prepared expressly for this work, we have so far improved on Beer and Maedler as to give her surface as it appears to the naked eye: that is, the north is in the north; only we must always remember that the west is and must be on the "right hand".]

[Footnote B: In our Map the "Mappa Selenographica" is copied as closely and as fully as is necessary for understanding the details of the story. For further information the reader is referred to Nasmyth's late magnificent work: the MOON.]

CHAPTER XI.

FACT AND FANCY.

"Have you ever seen the Moon?" said a teacher ironically one day in class to one of his pupils.

"No, sir;" was the pert reply; "but I think I can safely say I've heard it spoken about."

Though saying what he considered a smart thing, the pupil was probably perfectly right. Like the immense majority of his fellow beings, he had looked at the Moon, heard her talked of, written poetry about her, but, in the strict sense of the term, he had probably never seen her--that is--scanned her, examined her, surveyed her, inspected her, reconnoitred her--even with an opera glass! Not one in a thousand, not one in ten thousand, has ever examined even the map of our only Satellite. To guard our beloved and intelligent reader against this reproach, we have prepared an excellent reduction of Beer and Maedler's "Mappa", on which, for the better understanding of what is to follow, we hope he will occasionally cast a gracious eye.

When you look at any map of the Moon, you are struck first of all with one peculiarity. Contrary to the arrangement prevailing in Mars and on our Earth, the continents occupy principally the southern hemisphere of the lunar orb. Then these continents are far from presenting such sharp and regular outlines as distinguish the Indian Peninsula, Africa, and South America. On the contrary, their coasts, angular, jagged, and deeply indented, abound in bays and peninsulas. They remind you of the coast of Norway, or of the islands in the Sound, where the land seems to be cut up into endless divisions. If navigation ever existed on the Moon's surface, it must have been of a singularly difficult and dangerous nature, and we can scarcely say which of the two should be more pitied--the sailors who had to steer through these dangerous and complicated passes, or the map-makers who had to designate them on their charts.

You will also remark that the southern pole of the Moon is much more "continental" than the northern. Around the latter, there exists only a slight fringe of lands separated from the other continents by vast "seas." This word "seas"--a term employed by the first lunar map constructors--is still retained to designate those vast depressions on the Moon's surface, once perhaps covered with water, though they are now only enormous plains. In the south, the continents cover nearly the whole hemisphere. It is therefore possible that the Selenites have planted their flag on at least one of their poles, whereas the Parrys and Franklins of England, the Kanes and the Wilkeses of America, the Dumont d'Urvilles and the Lamberts of France, have so far met with obstacles completely insurmountable, while in search of those unknown points of our terrestrial globe.

The islands--the next feature on the Moon's surface--are exceedingly numerous. Generally oblong or circular in shape and almost as regular in outline as if drawn with a compass, they form vast archipelagoes like the famous group lying between Greece and Asia Minor, which mythology has made the scene of her earliest and most charming legends. As we gaze at them, the names of Naxos, Tenedos, Milo, and Carpathos rise up before our mind's eye, and we begin looking around for the Trojan fleet and Jason's Argo. This, at least, was Ardan's idea, and at first his eyes would see nothing on the map but a Grecian archipelago. But his companions, sound practical men, and therefore totally devoid of sentiment, were reminded by these rugged coasts of the beetling cliffs of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; so that, where the Frenchman saw the tracks of ancient heroes, the Americans saw only commodious shipping points and favorable sites for trading posts--all, of course, in the purest interest of lunar commerce and industry.

To end our hasty sketch of the continental portion of the Moon, we must say a few words regarding her orthography or mountain systems. With a fair telescope you can distinguish very readily her mountain chains, her isolated mountains, her circuses or ring formations, and her rills, cracks and radiating streaks. The character of the whole lunar relief is comprised in these divisions. It is a surface prodigiously reticulated, upheaved and depressed, apparently without the slightest order or system. It is a vast Switzerland, an enormous Norway, where everything is the result of direct plutonic action. This surface, so rugged, craggy and wrinkled, seems to be the result of successive contractions of the crust, at an early period of the planet's existence. The examination of the lunar disc is therefore highly favorable for the study of the great geological phenomena of our own globe. As certain astronomers have remarked, the Moon's surface, though older than the Earth's, has remained younger. That is, it has undergone less change. No water has broken through its rugged elevations, filled up its scowling cavities, and by incessant action tended continuously to the production of a general level. No atmosphere, by its disintegrating, decomposing influence has softened off the rugged features of the plutonic mountains. Volcanic action alone, unaffected by either aqueous or atmospheric forces, can here be seen in all its glory. In other words the Moon looks now as our Earth did endless ages ago, when "she was void and empty and when darkness sat upon the face of the deep;" eons of ages ago, long before the tides of the ocean and the winds of the atmosphere had begun to strew her rough surface with sand and clay, rock and coal, forest and meadow, gradually preparing it, according to the laws of our beneficent Creator, to be at last the pleasant though the temporary abode of Man!

Having wandered over vast continents, your eye is attracted by the "seas" of dimensions still vaster. Not only their shape, situation, and look, remind us of our own oceans, but, again like them, they occupy the greater part of the Moon's surface. The "seas," or, more correctly, plains, excited our travellers' curiosity to a very high degree, and they set themselves at once to examine their nature.

The astronomer who first gave names to those "seas" in all probability was a Frenchman. Hevelius, however, respected them, even Riccioli did not disturb them, and so they have come down to us. Ardan laughed heartily at the fancies which they called up, and said the whole thing reminded him of one of those "maps of matrimony" that he had once seen or read of in the works of Scudéry or Cyrano de Bergerac.

"However," he added, "I must say that this map has much more reality in it than could be found in the sentimental maps of the 17th century. In fact, I have no difficulty whatever in calling it the "Map of Life!" very neatly divided into two parts, the east and the west, the masculine and the feminine. The women on the right, and the men on the left!"

At such observations, Ardan's companions only shrugged their shoulders. A map of the Moon in their eyes was a map of the Moon, no more, no less; their romantic friend might view it as he pleased. Nevertheless, their romantic friend was not altogether wrong. Judge a little for yourselves.

What is the first "sea" you find in the hemisphere on the left? The "Mare Imbrium" or the Rainy Sea, a fit emblem of our human life, beaten by many a pitiless storm. In a corresponding part of the southern hemisphere you see "Mare Nubium", the Cloudy Sea, in which our poor human reason so often gets befogged. Close to this lies "Mare Humorum", the Sea of Humors, where we sail about, the sport of each fitful breeze, "everything by starts and nothing long." Around all, embracing all, lies "Oceanus Procellarum", the Ocean of Tempests, where, engaged in one continuous struggle with the gusty whirlwinds, excited by our own passions or those of others, so few of us escape shipwreck. And, when disgusted by the difficulties of life, its deceptions, its treacheries and all the other miseries "that flesh is heir to," where do we too often fly to avoid them? To the "Sinus Iridium" or the "Sinus Roris", that is Rainbow Gulf and Dewy Gulf whose glittering lights, alas! give forth no real illumination to guide our stumbling feet, whose sun-tipped pinnacles have less substance than a dream, whose enchanting waters all evaporate before we can lift a cup-full to our parched lips! Showers, storms, fogs, rainbows--is not the whole mortal life of man comprised in these four words?

Now turn to the hemisphere on the right, the women's side, and you also discover "seas," more numerous indeed, but of smaller dimensions and with gentler names, as more befitting the feminine temperament. First comes "Mare Serenitatis", the Sea of Serenity, so expressive of the calm, tranquil soul of an innocent maiden. Near it is "Lacus Somniorum", the Lake of Dreams, in which she loves to gaze at her gilded and rosy future. In the southern division is seen "Mare Nectaris", the Sea of Nectar, over whose soft heaving billows she is gently wafted by Love's caressing winds, "Youth on the prow and Pleasure at the helm." Not far off is "Mare Fecunditatis", the Sea of Fertility, in which she becomes the happy mother of rejoicing children. A little north is "Mare Crisium", the Sea of Crises where her life and happiness are sometimes exposed to sudden, and unexpected dangers which fortunately, however, seldom end fatally. Far to the left, near the men's side, is "Mare Vaporum", the Sea of Vapors, into which, though it is rather small, and full of sunken rocks, she sometimes allows herself to wander, moody, and pouting, and not exactly knowing where she wants to go or what she wants to do. Between the two last expands the great "Mare Tranquillitatis", the Sea of Tranquillity, into whose quiet depths are at last absorbed all her simulated passions, all her futile aspirations, all her unglutted desires, and whose unruffled waters are gliding on forever in noiseless current towards "Lacus Mortis", the Lake of Death, whose misty shores

"In ruthless, vast, and gloomy woods are girt."

So at least Ardan mused as he stooped over Beer and Maedler's map. Did not these strange successive names somewhat justify his flights of fancy? Surely they had a wonderful variety of meaning. Was it by accident or by forethought deep that the two hemispheres of the Moon had been thus so strangely divided, yet, as man to woman, though divided still united, and thus forming even in the cold regions of space a perfect image of our terrestrial existence? Who can say that our romantic French friend was altogether wrong in thus explaining the astute fancies of the old astronomers?

His companions, however, it need hardly be said, never saw the "seas" in that light. They looked on them not with sentimental but with geographical eyes. They studied this new world and tried to get it by heart, working at it like a school boy at his lessons. They began by measuring its angles and diameters.

To their practical, common sense vision "Mare Nubium", the Cloudy Sea, was an immense depression of the surface, sprinkled here and there with a few circular mountains. Covering a great portion of that part of the southern hemisphere which lies east of the centre, it occupied a space of about 270 thousand square miles, its central point lying in 15° south latitude and 20° east longitude. Northeast from this lay "Oceanus Procellarum", the Ocean of Tempests, the most extensive of all the plains on the lunar disc, embracing a surface of about half a million of square miles, its centre being in 10° north and 45° east. From its bosom those wonderful mountains "Kepler" and "Aristarchus" lifted their vast ramparts glittering with innumerable streaks radiating in all directions.

To the north, in the direction of "Mare Frigoris", extends "Mare Imbrium", the Sea of Rains, its central point in 35° north and 20° east. It is somewhat circular in shape, and it covers a space of about 300 thousand square miles. South of "Oceanus Procellarum" and separated from "Mare Nubium" by a goodly number of ring mountains, lies the little basin of "Mare Humorum", the Sea of Humors, containing only about 66 thousand square miles, its central point having a latitude of 25° south and a longitude of 40° east.

On the shores of these great seas three "Gulfs" are easily found: "Sinus Aestuum", the Gulf of the Tides, northeast of the centre; "Sinus Iridium", the Gulf of the Rainbows, northeast of the "Mare Imbrium"; and "Sinus Roris", the Dewy Gulf, a little further northeast. All seem to be small plains enclosed between chains of lofty mountains.

The western hemisphere, dedicated to the ladies, according to Ardan, and therefore naturally more capricious, was remarkable for "seas" of smaller dimensions, but much more numerous. These were principally: "Mare Serenitatis", the Sea of Serenity, 25° north and 20° west, comprising a surface of about 130 thousand square miles; "Mare Crisium", the Sea of Crises, a round, well defined, dark depression towards the northwestern edge, 17° north 55° west, embracing a surface of 60 thousand square miles, a regular Caspian Sea in fact, only that the plateau in which it lies buried is surrounded by a girdle of much higher mountains. Then towards the equator, with a latitude of 5° north and a longitude of 25° west, appears "Mare Tranquillitatis", the Sea of Tranquillity, occupying about 180 thousand square miles. This communicates on the south with "Mare Nectaris", the Sea of Nectar, embracing an extent of about 42 thousand square miles, with a mean latitude of 15° south and a longitude of 35° west. Southwest from "Mare Tranquillitatis", lies "Mare Fecunditatis", the Sea of Fertility, the greatest in this hemisphere, as it occupies an extent of more than 300 thousand square miles, its latitude being 3° south and its longitude 50° west. For away to the north, on the borders of the "Mare Frigoris", or Icy Sea, is seen the small "Mare Humboldtianum", or Humboldt Sea, with a surface of about 10 thousand square miles. Corresponding to this in the southern hemisphere lies the "Mare Australe", or South Sea, whose surface, as it extends along the western rim, is rather difficult to calculate. Finally, right in the centre of the lunar disc, where the equator intersects the first meridian, can be seen "Sinus Medii", the Central Gulf, the common property therefore of all the hemispheres, the northern and southern, as well as of the eastern and western.

Into these great divisions the surface of our satellite resolved itself before the eyes of Barbican and M'Nicholl. Adding up the various measurements, they found that the surface of her visible hemisphere was about 7-1/2 millions of square miles, of which about the two thirds comprised the volcanoes, the mountain chains, the rings, the islands--in short, the land portion of the lunar surface; the other third comprised the "seas," the "lakes," the "marshes," the "bays" or "gulfs," and the other divisions usually assigned to water.

To all this deeply interesting information, though the fruit of observation the closest, aided and confirmed by calculation the profoundest, Ardan listened with the utmost indifference. In fact, even his French politeness could not suppress two or three decided yawns, which of course the mathematicians were too absorbed to notice.

In their enthusiasm they tried to make him understand that though the Moon is 13-1/2 times smaller than our Earth, she can show more than 50 thousand craters, which astronomers have already counted and designated by specific names.

"To conclude this portion of our investigation therefore," cried Barbican, clearing his throat, and occupying Aldan's right ear,--"the Moon's surface is a honey combed, perforated, punctured--"

"A fistulous, a rugose, salebrous,--" cut in the Captain, close on the left.

--"And highly cribriform superficies--" cried Barbican.

--"A sieve, a riddle, a colander--" shouted the Captain.

--"A skimming dish, a buckwheat cake, a lump of green cheese--" went on Barbican--.

--In fact, there is no knowing how far they would have proceeded with their designations, comparisons, and scientific expressions, had not Ardan, driven to extremities by Barbican's last profanity, suddenly jumped up, broken away from his companions, and clapped a forcible extinguisher on their eloquence by putting his hands on their lips and keeping them there awhile. Then striking a grand attitude, he looked towards the Moon and burst out in accents of thrilling indignation:

"Pardon, O beautiful Diana of the Ephesians! Pardon, O Phoebe, thou pearl-faced goddess of night beloved of Greece! O Isis, thou sympathetic queen of Nile-washed cities! O Astarte, thou favorite deity of the Syrian hills! O Artemis, thou symbolical daughter of Jupiter and Latona, that is of light and darkness! O brilliant sister of the radiant Apollo! enshrined in the enchanting strains of Virgil and Homer, which I only half learned at college, and therefore unfortunately forget just now! Otherwise what pleasure I should have had in hurling them at the heads of Barbican, M'Nicholl, and every other barbarous iconoclast of the nineteenth century!--"

Here he stopped short, for two reasons: first he was out of breath; secondly, he saw that the irrepressible scientists had been too busy making observations of their own to hear a single word of what he had uttered, and were probably totally unconscious that he had spoken at all. In a few seconds his breath came back in full blast, but the idea of talking when only deaf men were listening was so disconcerting as to leave him actually unable to get off another syllable.

CHAPTER XII.

A BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF THE LUNAR MOUNTAINS.

I am rather inclined to believe myself that not one word of Ardan's rhapsody had been ever heard by Barbican or M'Nicholl. Long before he had spoken his last words, they had once more become mute as statues, and now were both eagerly watching, pencil in hand, spyglass to eye, the northern lunar hemisphere towards which they were rapidly but indirectly approaching. They had fully made up their minds by this time that they were leaving far behind them the central point which they would have probably reached half an hour ago if they had not been shunted off their course by that inopportune bolide.

About half past twelve o'clock, Barbican broke the dead silence by saying that after a careful calculation they were now only about 875 miles from the Moon's surface, a distance two hundred miles less in length than the lunar radius, and which was still to be diminished as they advanced further north. They were at that moment ten degrees north of the equator, almost directly over the ridge lying between the "Mare Serenitatis" and the "Mare Tranquillitatis". From this latitude all the way up to the north pole the travellers enjoyed a most satisfactory view of the Moon in all directions and under the most favorable conditions. By means of their spyglasses, magnifying a hundred times, they cut down this distance of 875 miles to about 9. The great telescope of the Rocky Mountains, by its enormous magnifying power of 48,000, brought the Moon, it is true, within a distance of 5 miles, or nearly twice as near; but this advantage of nearness was considerably more than counterbalanced by a want of clearness, resulting from the haziness and refractiveness of the terrestrial atmosphere, not to mention those fatal defects in the reflector that the art of man has not yet succeeded in remedying. Accordingly, our travellers, armed with excellent telescopes--of just power enough to be no injury to clearness,--and posted on unequalled vantage ground, began already to distinguish certain details that had probably never been noticed before by terrestrial observers. Even Ardan, by this time quite recovered from his fit of sentiment and probably infected a little by the scientific enthusiasm of his companions, began to observe and note and observe and note, alternately, with all the "sangfroid" of a veteran astronomer.

"Friends," said Barbican, again interrupting a silence that had lasted perhaps ten minutes, "whither we are going I can't say; if we shall ever revisit the Earth, I can't tell. Still, it is our duty so to act in all respects as if these labors of ours were one day to be of service to our fellow-creatures. Let us keep our souls free from every distraction. We are now astronomers. We see now what no mortal eye has ever gazed on before. This Projectile is simply a work room of the great Cambridge Observatory lifted into space. Let us take observations!"

With these words, he set to work with a renewed ardor, in which his companions fully participated. The consequence was that they soon had several of the outline maps covered with the best sketches they could make of the Moon's various aspects thus presented under such favorable circumstances. They could now remark not only that they were passing the tenth degree of north latitude, but that the Projectile followed almost directly the twentieth degree of east longitude.

"One thing always puzzled me when examining maps of the Moon," observed Ardan, "and I can't say that I see it yet as clearly as if I had thought over the matter. It is this. I could understand, when looking through a lens at an object, why we get only its reversed image--a simple law of optics explains "that". Therefore, in a map of the Moon, as the bottom means the north and the top the south, why does not the right mean the west and the left the east? I suppose I could have made this out by a little thought, but thinking, that is reflection, not being my forte, it is the last thing I ever care to do. Barbican, throw me a word or two on the subject."

"I can see what troubles you," answered Barbican, "but I can also see that one moment's reflection would have put an end to your perplexity. On ordinary maps of the Earth's surface when the north is the top, the right hand must be the east, the left hand the west, and so on. That is simply because we look "down" from "above". And such a map seen through a lens will appear reversed in all respects. But in looking at the Moon, that is "up" from "down", we change our position so far that our right hand points west and our left east. Consequently, in our reversed map, though the north becomes south, the right remains east, and--"

"Enough said! I see it at a glance! Thank you, Barbican. Why did not they make you a professor of astronomy? Your hint will save me a world of trouble."[C]

Aided by the "Mappa Selenographica", the travellers could easily recognize the different portions of the Moon over which they were now moving. An occasional glance at our reduction of this map, given as a frontispiece, will enable the gentle reader to follow the travellers on the line in which they moved and to understand the remarks and observations in which they occasionally indulged.

"Where are we now?" asked Ardan.

"Over the northern shores of the "Mare Nubium"," replied Barbican. "But we are still too far off to see with any certainty what they are like. What is the "Mare" itself? A sea, according to the early astronomers? a plain of solid sand, according to later authority? or an immense forest, according to De la Rue of London, so far the Moon's most successful photographer? This gentleman's authority, Ardan, would have given you decided support in your famous dispute with the Captain at the meeting near Tampa, for he says very decidedly that the Moon has an atmosphere, very low to be sure but very dense. This, however, we must find out for ourselves; and in the meantime let us affirm nothing until we have good grounds for positive assertion."

"Mare Nubium", though not very clearly outlined on the maps, is easily recognized by lying directly east of the regions about the centre. It would appear as if this vast plain were sprinkled with immense lava blocks shot forth from the great volcanoes on the right, "Ptolemaeus", "Alphonse", "Alpetragius" and "Arzachel". But the Projectile advanced so rapidly that these mountains soon disappeared, and the travellers were not long before they could distinguish the great peaks that closed the "Sea" on its northern boundary. Here a radiating mountain showed a summit so dazzling with the reflection of the solar rays that Ardan could not help crying out:

"It looks like one of the carbon points of an electric light projected on a screen! What do you call it, Barbican?"

""Copernicus"," replied the President. "Let us examine old "Copernicus"!"

This grand crater is deservedly considered one of the greatest of the lunar wonders. It lifts its giant ramparts to upwards of 12,000 feet above the level of the lunar surface. Being quite visible from the Earth and well situated for observation, it is a favorite object for astronomical study; this is particularly the case during the phase existing between Last Quarter and the New Moon, when its vast shadows, projected boldly from the east towards the west, allow its prodigious dimensions to be measured.

After "Tycho", which is situated in the southern hemisphere, "Copernicus" forms the most important radiating mountain in the lunar disc. It looms up, single and isolated, like a gigantic light-house, on the peninsula separating "Mare Nubium" from "Oceanus Procellarum" on one side and from "Mare Imbrium" on the other; thus illuminating with its splendid radiation three "Seas" at a time. The wonderful complexity of its bright streaks diverging on all sides from its centre presented a scene alike splendid and unique. These streaks, the travellers thought, could be traced further north than in any other direction: they fancied they could detect them even in the "Mare Imbrium", but this of course might be owing to the point from which they made their observations. At one o'clock in the morning, the Projectile, flying through space, was exactly over this magnificent mountain.

In spite of the brilliant sunlight that was blazing around them, the travellers could easily recognize the peculiar features of "Copernicus". It belongs to those ring mountains of the first class called Circuses. Like "Kepler" and "Aristarchus", who rule over "Oceanus Procellarum", "Copernicus", when viewed through our telescopes, sometimes glistens so brightly through the ashy light of the Moon that it has been frequently taken for a volcano in full activity. Whatever it may have been once, however, it is certainly nothing more now than, like all the other mountains on the visible side of the Moon, an extinct volcano, only with a crater of such exceeding grandeur and sublimity as to throw utterly into the shade everything like it on our Earth. The crater of Etna is at most little more than a mile across. The crater of "Copernicus" has a diameter of at least 50 miles. Within it, the travellers could easily discover by their glasses an immense number of terraced ridges, probably landslips, alternating with stratifications resulting from successive eruptions. Here and there, but particularly in the southern side, they caught glimpses of shadows of such intense blackness, projected across the plateau and lying there like pitch spots, that they could not tell them from yawning chasms of incalculable depth. Outside the crater the shadows were almost as deep, whilst on the plains all around, particularly in the west, so many small craters could be detected that the eye in vain attempted to count them.

"Many circular mountains of this kind," observed Barbican, "can be seen on the lunar surface, but "Copernicus", though not one of the greatest, is one of the most remarkable on account of those diverging streaks of bright light that you see radiating from its summit. By looking steadily into its crater, you can see more cones than mortal eye ever lit on before. They are so numerous as to render the interior plateau quite rugged, and were formerly so many openings giving vent to fire and volcanic matter. A curious and very common arrangement of this internal plateau of lunar craters is its lying at a lower level than the external plains, quite the contrary to a terrestrial crater, which generally has its bottom much higher than the level of the surrounding country. It follows therefore that the deep lying curve of the bottom of these ring mountains would give a sphere with a diameter somewhat smaller than the Moon's."

"What can be the cause of this peculiarity?" asked M'Nicholl.

"I can't tell;" answered Barbican, "but, as a conjecture, I should say that it is probably to the comparatively smaller area of the Moon and the more violent character of her volcanic action that the extremely rugged character of her surface is mainly due."

"Why, it's the "Campi Phlegraei" or the Fire Fields of Naples over again!" cried Ardan suddenly. "There's "Monte Barbaro", there's the "Solfatara", there is the crater of "Astroni", and there is the "Monte Nuovo", as plain as the hand on my body!"

"The great resemblance between the region you speak of and the general surface of the Moon has been often remarked;" observed Barbican, "but it is even still more striking in the neighborhood of "Theophilus" on the borders of "Mare Nectaris"."

"That's "Mare Nectaris", the gray spot over there on the southwest, isn't it?" asked M'Nicholl; "is there any likelihood of our getting a better view of it?"

"Not the slightest," answered Barbican, "unless we go round the Moon and return this way, like a satellite describing its orbit."

By this time they had arrived at a point vertical to the mountain centre. "Copernicus's" vast ramparts formed a perfect circle or rather a pair of concentric circles. All around the mountain extended a dark grayish plain of savage aspect, on which the peak shadows projected themselves in sharp relief. In the gloomy bottom of the crater, whose dimensions are vast enough to swallow Mont Blanc body and bones, could be distinguished a magnificent group of cones, at least half a mile in height and glittering like piles of crystal. Towards the north several breaches could be seen in the ramparts, due probably to a caving in of immense masses accumulated on the summit of the precipitous walls.

As already observed, the surrounding plains were dotted with numberless craters mostly of small dimensions, except "Gay Lussac" on the north, whose crater was about 12 miles in diameter. Towards the southwest and the immediate east, the plain appeared to be very flat, no protuberance, no prominence of any kind lifting itself above the general dead level. Towards the north, on the contrary, as far as where the peninsula jutted on "Oceanus Procellarum", the plain looked like a sea of lava wildly lashed for a while by a furious hurricane and then, when its waves and breakers and driving ridges were at their wildest, suddenly frozen into solidity. Over this rugged, rumpled, wrinkled surface and in all directions, ran the wonderful streaks whose radiating point appeared to be the summit of "Copernicus". Many of them appeared to be ten miles wide and hundreds of miles in length.

The travellers disputed for some time on the origin of these strange radii, but could hardly be said to have arrived at any conclusion more satisfactory than that already reached by some terrestrial observers.

To M'Nicholl's question:

"Why can't these streaks be simply prolonged mountain crests reflecting the sun's rays more vividly by their superior altitude and comparative smoothness?"

Barbican readily replied:

"These streaks "can't" be mountain crests, because, if they were, under certain conditions of solar illumination they should project "shadows"--a thing which they have never been known to do under any circumstances whatever. In fact, it is only during the period of the full Moon that these streaks are seen at all; as soon as the sun's rays become oblique, they disappear altogether--a proof that their appearance is due altogether to peculiar advantages in their surface for the reflection of light."

"Dear boys, will you allow me to give my little guess on the subject?" asked Ardan.

His companions were profuse in expressing their desire to hear it.

"Well then," he resumed, "seeing that these bright streaks invariably start from a certain point to radiate in all directions, why not suppose them to be streams of lava issuing from the crater and flowing down the mountain side until they cooled?"

"Such a supposition or something like it has been put forth by Herschel," replied Barbican; "but your own sense will convince you that it is quite untenable when you consider that lava, however hot and liquid it may be at the commencement of its journey, cannot flow on for hundreds of miles, up hills, across ravines, and over plains, all the time in streams of almost exactly equal width."

"That theory of yours holds no more water than mine, Ardan," observed M'Nicholl.

"Correct, Captain," replied the Frenchman; "Barbican has a trick of knocking the bottom out of every weaker vessel. But let us hear what he has to say on the subject himself. What is your theory. Barbican?"

"My theory," said Barbican, "is pretty much the same as that lately presented by an English astronomer, Nasmyth, who has devoted much study and reflection to lunar matters. Of course, I only formulate my theory, I don't affirm it. These streaks are cracks, made in the Moon's surface by cooling or by shrinkage, through which volcanic matter has been forced up by internal pressure. The sinking ice of a frozen lake, when meeting with some sharp pointed rock, cracks in a radiating manner: every one of its fissures then admits the water, which immediately spreads laterally over the ice pretty much as the lava spreads itself over the lunar surface. This theory accounts for the radiating nature of the streaks, their great and nearly equal thickness, their immense length, their inability to cast a shadow, and their invisibility at any time except at or near the Full Moon. Still it is nothing but a theory, and I don't deny that serious objections may be brought against it."

"Do you know, dear boys," cried Ardan, led off as usual by the slightest fancy, "do you know what I am thinking of when I look down on the great rugged plains spread out beneath us?"

"I can't say, I'm sure," replied Barbican, somewhat piqued at the little attention he had secured for his theory.

"Well, what are you thinking of?" asked M'Nicholl.

"Spillikins!" answered Ardan triumphantly.

"Spillikins?" cried his companions, somewhat surprised.

"Yes, Spillikins! These rocks, these blocks, these peaks, these streaks, these cones, these cracks, these ramparts, these escarpments,--what are they but a set of spillikins, though I acknowledge on a grand scale? I wish I had a little hook to pull them one by one!"

[Illustration: AN IMMENSE BATTLEFIELD.]

"Oh, do be serious, Ardan!" cried Barbican, a little impatiently.

"Certainly," replied Ardan. "Let us be serious, Captain, since seriousness best befits the subject in hand. What do you think of another comparison? Does not this plain look like an immense battle field piled with the bleaching bones of myriads who had slaughtered each other to a man at the bidding of some mighty Caesar? What do you think of that lofty comparison, hey?"

"It is quite on a par with the other," muttered Barbican.

"He's hard to please, Captain," continued Ardan, "but let us try him again! Does not this plain look like--?"

"My worthy friend," interrupted Barbican, quietly, but in a tone to discourage further discussion, "what you think the plain "looks like" is of very slight import, as long as you know no more than a child what it really "is"!"

"Bravo, Barbican! well put!" cried the irrepressible Frenchman. "Shall I ever realize the absurdity of my entering into an argument with a scientist!"

But this time the Projectile, though advancing northward with a pretty uniform velocity, had neither gained nor lost in its nearness to the lunar disc. Each moment altering the character of the fleeting landscape beneath them, the travellers, as may well be imagined, never thought of taking an instant's repose. At about half past one, looking to their right on the west, they saw the summits of another mountain; Barbican, consulting his map, recognized "Eratosthenes".

This was a ring mountain, about 33 miles in diameter, having, like "Copernicus", a crater of immense profundity containing central cones. Whilst they were directing their glasses towards its gloomy depths, Barbican mentioned to his friends Kepler's strange idea regarding the formation of these ring mountains. "They must have been constructed," he said, "by mortal hands."

"With what object?" asked the Captain.

"A very natural one," answered Barbican. "The Selenites must have undertaken the immense labor of digging these enormous pits at places of refuge in which they could protect themselves against the fierce solar rays that beat against them for 15 days in succession!"

"Not a bad idea, that of the Selenites!" exclaimed Ardan.

"An absurd idea!" cried M'Nicholl. "But probably Kepler never knew the real dimensions of these craters. Barbican knows the trouble and time required to dig a well in Stony Hill only nine hundred feet deep. To dig out a single lunar crater would take hundreds and hundreds of years, and even then they should be giants who would attempt it!"

"Why so?" asked Ardan. "In the Moon, where gravity is six times less than on the Earth, the labor of the Selenites can't be compared with that of men like us."

"But suppose a Selenite to be six times smaller than a man like us!" urged M'Nicholl.

"And suppose a Selenite never had an existence at all!" interposed Barbican with his usual success in putting an end to the argument. "But never mind the Selenites now. Observe "Eratosthenes" as long as you have the opportunity."

"Which will not be very long," said M'Nicholl. "He is already sinking out of view too far to the right to be carefully observed."

"What are those peaks beyond him?" asked Ardan.

"The "Apennines"," answered Barbican; "and those on the left are the "Carpathians"."

"I have seen very few mountain chains or ranges in the Moon," remarked Ardan, after some minutes' observation.

"Mountains chains are not numerous in the Moon," replied Barbican, "and in that respect her oreographic system presents a decided contrast with that of the Earth. With us the ranges are many, the craters few; in the Moon the ranges are few and the craters innumerable."

Barbican might have spoken of another curious feature regarding the mountain ranges: namely, that they are chiefly confined to the northern hemisphere, where the craters are fewest and the "seas" the most extensive.

For the benefit of those interested, and to be done at once with this part of the subject, we give in the following little table a list of the chief lunar mountain chains, with their latitude, and respective heights in English feet.

"Name." "Degrees of Latitude." "Height."

{ "Altai Mountains" 17° to 28 13,000ft. Southern { "Cordilleras" 10 to 20 12,000 Hemisphere. { "Pyrenees" 8 to 18 12,000 { "Riphean" 5 to 10 2,600

{ "Haemus" 10 to 20 6,300 { "Carpathian" 15 to 19 6,000 { "Apennines" 14 to 27 18,000 Northern { "Taurus" 25 to 34 8,500 Hemisphere. { "Hercynian" 17 to 29 3,400 { "Caucasus" 33 to 40 17,000 { "Alps" 42 to 30 10,000

Of these different chains, the most important is that of the "Apennines", about 450 miles long, a length, however, far inferior to that of many of the great mountain ranges of our globe. They skirt the western shores of the "Mare Imbrium", over which they rise in immense cliffs, 18 or 20 thousand feet in height, steep as a wall and casting over the plain intensely black shadows at least 90 miles long. Of Mt. "Huyghens", the highest in the group, the travellers were just barely able to distinguish the sharp angular summit in the far west. To the east, however, the "Carpathians", extending from the 18th to 30th degrees of east longitude, lay directly under their eyes and could be examined in all the peculiarities of their distribution.

Barbican proposed a hypothesis regarding the formation of those mountains, which his companions thought at least as good as any other. Looking carefully over the "Carpathians" and catching occasional glimpses of semi-circular formations and half domes, he concluded that the chain must have formerly been a succession of vast craters. Then had come some mighty internal discharge, or rather the subsidence to which "Mare Imbrium" is due, for it immediately broke off or swallowed up one half of those mountains, leaving the other half steep as a wall on one side and sloping gently on the other to the level of the surrounding plains. The "Carpathians" were therefore pretty nearly in the same condition as the crater mountains "Ptolemy", "Alpetragius" and "Arzachel" would find themselves in, if some terrible cataclysm, by tearing away their eastern ramparts, had turned them into a chain of mountains whose towering cliffs would nod threateningly over the western shores of "Mare Nubium". The mean height of the "Carpathians" is about 6,000 feet, the altitude of certain points in the Pyrenees such as the "Port of Pineda", or "Roland's Breach", in the shadow of "Mont Perdu". The northern slopes of the "Carpathians" sink rapidly towards the shores of the vast "Mare Imbrium".

Towards two o'clock in the morning, Barbican calculated the Projectile to be on the 20th northern parallel, and therefore almost immediately over the little ring mountain called "Pytheas", about 4600 feet in height. The distance of the travellers from the Moon at this point could not be more than about 750 miles, reduced to about 7 by means of their excellent telescopes.

"Mare Imbrium", the Sea of Rains here revealed itself in all its vastness to the eyes of the travellers, though it must be acknowledged that the immense depression so called, did not afford them a very clear idea regarding its exact boundaries. Right ahead of them rose "Lambert" about a mile in height; and further on, more to the left, in the direction of "Oceanus Procellarum", "Euler" revealed itself by its glittering radiations. This mountain, of about the same height as "Lambert", had been the object of very interesting calculations on the part of Schroeter of Erfurt. This keen observer, desirous of inquiring into the probable origin of the lunar mountains, had proposed to himself the following question: Does the volume of the crater appear to be equal to that of the surrounding ramparts? His calculations showing him that this was generally the case, he naturally concluded that these ramparts must therefore have been the product of a single eruption, for successive eruptions of volcanic matter would have disturbed this correlation. "Euler" alone, he found, to be an exception to this general law, as the volume of its crater appeared to be twice as great as that of the mass surrounding it. It must therefore have been formed by several eruptions in succession, but in that case what had become of the ejected matter?

Theories of this nature and all manner of scientific questions were, of course, perfectly permissible to terrestrial astronomers laboring under the disadvantage of imperfect instruments. But Barbican could not think of wasting his time in any speculation of the kind, and now, seeing that his Projectile perceptibly approached the lunar disc, though he despaired of ever reaching it, he was more sanguine than ever of being soon able to discover positively and unquestionably some of the secrets of its formation.

[Footnote C: We must again remind our readers that, in our map, though every thing is set down as it appears to the eye not as it is reversed by the telescope, still, for the reason made so clear by Barbican, the right hand side must be the west and the left the east.]

CHAPTER XIII.

LUNAR LANDSCAPES

At half past two in the morning of December 6th, the travellers crossed the 30th northern parallel, at a distance from the lunar surface of 625 miles, reduced to about 6 by their spy-glasses. Barbican could not yet see the least probability of their landing at any point of the disc. The velocity of the Projectile was decidedly slow, but for that reason extremely puzzling. Barbican could not account for it. At such a proximity to the Moon, the velocity, one would think, should be very great indeed to be able to counteract the lunar attraction. Why did it not fall? Barbican could not tell; his companions were equally in the dark. Ardan said he gave it up. Besides they had no time to spend in investigating it. The lunar panorama was unrolling all its splendors beneath them, and they could not bear to lose one of its slightest details.

The lunar disc being brought within a distance of about six miles by the spy-glasses, it is a fair question to ask, what "could" an aeronaut at such an elevation from our Earth discover on its surface? At present that question can hardly be answered, the most remarkable balloon ascensions never having passed an altitude of five miles under circumstances favorable for observers. Here, however, is an account, carefully transcribed from notes taken on the spot, of what Barbican and his companions "did" see from their peculiar post of observation.

Varieties of color, in the first place, appeared here and there upon the disc. Selenographers are not quite agreed as to the nature of these colors. Not that such colors are without variety or too faint to be easily distinguished. Schmidt of Athens even says that if our oceans on earth were all evaporated, an observer in the Moon would hardly find the seas and continents of our globe even so well outlined as those of the Moon are to the eye of a terrestrial observer. According to him, the shade of color distinguishing those vast plains known as "seas" is a dark gray dashed with green and brown,--a color presented also by a few of the great craters.

This opinion of Schmidt's, shared by Beer and Maedler, Barbican's observations now convinced him to be far better founded than that of certain astronomers who admit of no color at all being visible on the Moon's surface but gray. In certain spots the greenish tint was quite decided, particularly in "Mare Serenitatis" and "Mare Humorum," the very localities where Schmidt had most noticed it. Barbican also remarked that several large craters, of the class that had no interior cones, reflected a kind of bluish tinge, somewhat like that given forth by a freshly polished steel plate. These tints, he now saw enough to convince him, proceeded really from the lunar surface, and were not due, as certain astronomers asserted, either to the imperfections of the spy-glasses, or to the interference of the terrestrial atmosphere. His singular opportunity for correct observation allowed him to entertain no doubt whatever on the subject. Hampered by no atmosphere, he was free from all liability to optical illusion. Satisfied therefore as to the reality of these tints, he considered such knowledge a positive gain to science. But that greenish tint--to what was it due? To a dense tropical vegetation maintained by a low atmosphere, a mile or so in thickness? Possibly. But this was another question that could not be answered at present.

Further on he could detect here and there traces of a decidedly ruddy tint. Such a shade he knew had been already detected in the "Palus Somnii", near "Mare Crisium", and in the circular area of "Lichtenberg", near the "Hercynian Mountains", on the eastern edge of the Moon. To what cause was this tint to be attributed? To the actual color of the surface itself? Or to that of the lava covering it here and there? Or to the color resulting from the mixture of other colors seen at a distance too great to allow of their being distinguished separately? Impossible to tell.

Barbican and his companions succeeded no better at a new problem that soon engaged their undivided attention. It deserves some detail.

Having passed "Lambert", being just over "Timocharis", all were attentively gazing at the magnificent crater of "Archimedes" with a diameter of 52 miles across and ramparts more than 5000 feet in height, when Ardan startled his companions by suddenly exclaiming:

"Hello! Cultivated fields as I am a living man!"

"What do you mean by your cultivated fields?" asked M'Nicholl sourly, wiping his glasses and shrugging his shoulders.

"Certainly cultivated fields!" replied Ardan. "Don't you see the furrows? They're certainly plain enough. They are white too from glistening in the sun, but they are quite different from the radiating streaks of "Copernicus". Why, their sides are perfectly parallel!"

"Where are those furrows?" asked M'Nicholl, putting his glasses to his eye and adjusting the focus.

"You can see them in all directions," answered Ardan; "but two are particularly visible: one running north from "Archimedes", the other south towards the "Apennines"."

M'Nicholl's face, as he gazed, gradually assumed a grin which soon developed into a snicker, if not a positive laugh, as he observed to Ardan:

"Your Selenites must be Brobdignagians, their oxen Leviathans, and their ploughs bigger than Marston's famous cannon, if these are furrows!"

"How's that, Barbican?" asked Ardan doubtfully, but unwilling to submit to M'Nicholl.

"They're not furrows, dear friend," said Barbican, "and can't be, either, simply on account of their immense size. They are what the German astronomers called "Rillen"; the French, "rainures", and the English, "grooves", "canals", "clefts", "cracks", "chasms", or "fissures"."

"You have a good stock of names for them anyhow," observed Ardan, "if that does any good."

"The number of names given them," answered Barbican, "shows how little is really known about them. They have been observed in all the level portion of the Moon's surface. Small as they appear to us, a little calculation must convince you that they are in some places hundreds of miles in length, a mile in width and probably in many points several miles in depth. Their width and depth, however, vary, though their sides, so far as observed, are always rigorously parallel. Let us take a good look at them."

Putting the glass to his eye, Barbican examined the clefts for some time with close attention. He saw that their banks were sharp edged and extremely steep. In many places they were of such geometrical regularity that he readily excused Gruithuysen's idea of deeming them to be gigantic earthworks thrown up by the Selenite engineers. Some of them were as straight as if laid out with a line, others were curved a little here and there, though still maintaining the strict parallelism of their sides. These crossed each other; those entered craters and came out at the other side. Here, they furrowed annular plateaus, such as "Posidonius" or "Petavius". There, they wrinkled whole seas, for instance, "Mare Serenitatis".

These curious peculiarities of the lunar surface had interested the astronomic mind to a very high degree at their first discovery, and have proved to be very perplexing problems ever since. The first observers do not seem to have noticed them. Neither Hevelius, nor Cassini, nor La Hire, nor Herschel, makes a single remark regarding their nature.

It was Schroeter, in 1789, who called the attention of scientists to them for the first time. He had only 11 to show, but Lohrmann soon recorded 75 more. Pastorff, Gruithuysen, and particularly Beer and Maedler were still more successful, but Julius Schmidt, the famous astronomer of Athens, has raised their number up to 425, and has even published their names in a catalogue. But counting them is one thing, determining their nature is another. They are not fortifications, certainly: and cannot be ancient beds of dried up rivers, for two very good and sufficient reasons: first, water, even under the most favorable circumstances on the Moon's surface, could have never ploughed up such vast channels; secondly, these chasms often traverse lofty craters through and through, like an immense railroad cutting.

At these details, Ardan's imagination became unusually excited and of course it was not without some result. It even happened that he hit on an idea that had already suggested itself to Schmidt of Athens.

"Why not consider them," he asked, "to be the simple phenomena of vegetation?"

"What do you mean?" asked Barbican.

"Rows of sugar cane?" suggested M'Nicholl with a snicker.

"Not exactly, my worthy Captain," answered Ardan quietly, "though you were perhaps nearer to the mark than you expected. I don't mean exactly rows of sugar cane, but I do mean vast avenues of trees--poplars, for instance--planted regularly on each side of a great high road."

"Still harping on vegetation!" said the Captain. "Ardan, what a splendid historian was spoiled in you! The less you know about your facts, the readier you are to account for them."

""Ma foi"," said Ardan simply, "I do only what the greatest of your scientific men do--that is, guess. There is this difference however between us--I call my guesses, guesses, mere conjecture;--they dignify theirs as profound theories or as astounding discoveries!"

"Often the case, friend Ardan, too often the case," said Barbican.

"In the question under consideration, however," continued the Frenchman, "my conjecture has this advantage over some others: it explains why these rills appear and seem to disappear at regular intervals."

"Let us hear the explanation," said the Captain.

"They become invisible when the trees lose their leaves, and they reappear when they resume them."

"His explanation is not without ingenuity," observed Barbican to M'Nicholl, "but, my dear friend," turning to Ardan, "it is hardly admissible."

"Probably not," said Ardan, "but why not?"

"Because as the Sun is nearly always vertical to the lunar equator, the Moon can have no change of seasons worth mentioning; therefore her vegetation can present none of the phenomena that you speak of."

This was perfectly true. The slight obliquity of the Moon's axis, only 1-1/2°, keeps the Sun in the same altitude the whole year around. In the equatorial regions he is always vertical, and in the polar he is never higher than the horizon. Therefore, there can be no change of seasons; according to the latitude, it is a perpetual winter, spring, summer, or autumn the whole year round. This state of things is almost precisely similar to that which prevails in Jupiter, who also stands nearly upright in his orbit, the inclination of his axis being only about 3°.

But how to account for the "grooves"? A very hard nut to crack. They must certainly be a later formation than the craters and the rings, for they are often found breaking right through the circular ramparts. Probably the latest of all lunar features, the results of the last geological epochs, they are due altogether to expansion or shrinkage acting on a large scale and brought about by the great forces of nature, operating after a manner altogether unknown on our earth. Such at least was Barbican's idea.

"My friends," he quietly observed, "without meaning to put forward any pretentious claims to originality, but by simply turning to account some advantages that have never before befallen contemplative mortal eye, why not construct a little hypothesis of our own regarding the nature of these grooves and the causes that gave them birth? Look at that great chasm just below us, somewhat to the right. It is at least fifty or sixty miles long and runs along the base of the "Apennines" in a line almost perfectly straight. Does not its parallelism with the mountain chain suggest a causative relation? See that other mighty "rill", at least a hundred and fifty miles long, starting directly north of it and pursuing so true a course that it cleaves "Archimedes" almost cleanly into two. The nearer it lies to the mountain, as you perceive, the greater its width; as it recedes in either direction it grows narrower. Does not everything point out to one great cause of their origin? They are simple crevasses, like those so often noticed on Alpine glaciers, only that these tremendous cracks in the surface are produced by the shrinkage of the crust consequent on cooling. Can we point out some analogies to this on the Earth? Certainly. The defile of the Jordan, terminating in the awful depression of the Dead Sea, no doubt occurs to you on the moment. But the "Yosemite Valley", as I saw it ten years ago, is an apter comparison. There I stood on the brink of a tremendous chasm with perpendicular walls, a mile in width, a mile in depth and eight miles in length. Judge if I was astounded! But how should we feel it, when travelling on the lunar surface, we should suddenly find ourselves on the brink of a yawning chasm two miles wide, fifty miles long, and so fathomless in sheer vertical depth as to leave its black profundities absolutely invisible in spite of the dazzling sunlight!"

"I feel my flesh already crawling even in the anticipation!" cried Ardan.

"I shan't regret it much if we never get to the Moon," growled M'Nicholl; "I never hankered after it anyhow!"

By this time the Projectile had reached the fortieth degree of lunar latitude, and could hardly be further than five hundred miles from the surface, a distance reduced to about 5 miles by the travellers' glasses. Away to their left appeared "Helicon", a ring mountain about 1600 feet high; and still further to the left the eye could catch a glimpse of the cliffs enclosing a semi-elliptical portion of "Mare Imbrium", called the "Sinus Iridium", or Bay of the Rainbows.

In order to allow astronomers to make complete observations on the lunar surface, the terrestrial atmosphere should possess a transparency seventy times greater than its present power of transmission. But in the void through which the Projectile was now floating, no fluid whatever interposed between the eye of the observer and the object observed. Besides, the travellers now found themselves at a distance that had never before been reached by the most powerful telescopes, including even Lord Rosse's and the great instrument on the Rocky Mountains. Barbican was therefore in a condition singularly favorable to resolve the great question concerning the Moon's inhabitableness. Nevertheless, the solution still escaped him. He could discover nothing around him but a dreary waste of immense plains, and towards the north, beneath him, bare mountains of the aridest character.

Not the slightest vestige of man's work could be detected over the vast expanse. Not the slightest sign of a ruin spoke of his ever having been there. Nothing betrayed the slightest trace of the development of animal life, even in an inferior degree. No movement. Not the least glimpse of vegetation. Of the three great kingdoms that hold dominion on the surface of the globe, the mineral, the vegetable and the animal, one alone was represented on the lunar sphere: the mineral, the whole mineral, and nothing but the mineral.

"Why!" exclaimed Ardan, with a disconcerted look, after a long and searching examination, "I can't find anybody. Everything is as motionless as a street in Pompeii at 4 o'clock in the morning!"

[Illustration: THE SOLUTION STILL ESCAPED HIM.]

"Good comparison, friend Ardan;" observed M'Nicholl. "Lava, slag, volcanic eminences, vitreous matter glistening like ice, piles of scoria, pitch black shadows, dazzling streaks, like rivers of light breaking over jagged rocks--these are now beneath my eye--these alone I can detect--not a man--not an animal--not a tree. The great American Desert is a land of milk and honey in comparison with the joyless orb over which we are now moving. However, even yet we can predicate nothing positive. The atmosphere may have taken refuge in the depths of the chasms, in the interior of the craters, or even on the opposite side of the Moon, for all we know!"

"Still we must remember," observed Barbican, "that even the sharpest eye cannot detect a man at a distance greater than four miles and a-half, and our glasses have not yet brought us nearer than five."

"Which means to say," observed Ardan, "that though we can't see the Selenites, they can see our Projectile!"

But matters had not improved much when, towards four o'clock in the morning, the travellers found themselves on the 50th parallel, and at a distance of only about 375 miles from the lunar surface. Still no trace of the least movement, or even of the lowest form of life.

"What peaked mountain is that which we have just passed on our right?" asked Ardan. "It is quite remarkable, standing as it does in almost solitary grandeur in the barren plain."

"That is "Pico"," answered Barbican. "It is at least 8000 feet high and is well known to terrestrial astronomers as well by its peculiar shadow as on account of its comparative isolation. See the collection of perfectly formed little craters nestling around its base."

"Barbican," asked M'Nicholl suddenly, "what peak is that which lies almost directly south of "Pico"? I see it plainly, but I can't find it on my map."

"I have remarked that pyramidal peak myself," replied Barbican; "but I can assure you that so far it has received no name as yet, although it is likely enough to have been distinguished by the terrestrial astronomers. It can't be less than 4000 feet in height."

"I propose we called it "Barbican"!" cried Ardan enthusiastically.

"Agreed!" answered M'Nicholl, "unless we can find a higher one."

"We must be before-hand with Schmidt of Athens!" exclaimed Ardan. "He will leave nothing unnamed that his telescope can catch a glimpse of."

"Passed unanimously!" cried M'Nicholl.

"And officially recorded!" added the Frenchman, making the proper entry on his map.

""Salve, Mt. Barbican!"" then cried both gentlemen, rising and taking off their hats respectfully to the distant peak.

"Look to the west!" interrupted Barbican, watching, as usual, while his companions were talking, and probably perfectly unconscious of what they were saying; "directly to the west! Now tell me what you see!"

"I see a vast valley!" answered M'Nicholl.

"Straight as an arrow!" added Ardan.

"Running through lofty mountains!" cried M'Nicholl.

"Cut through with a pair of saws and scooped out with a chisel!" cried Ardan.

"See the shadows of those peaks!" cried M'Nicholl catching fire at the sight. "Black, long, and sharp as if cast by cathedral spires!"

"Oh! ye crags and peaks!" burst forth Ardan; "how I should like to catch even a faint echo of the chorus you could chant, if a wild storm roared over your beetling summits! The pine forests of Norwegian mountains howling in midwinter would not be an accordeon in comparison!"

"Wonderful instance of subsidence on a grand scale!" exclaimed the Captain, hastily relapsing into science.

"Not at all!" cried the Frenchman, still true to his colors; "no subsidence there! A comet simply came too close and left its mark as it flew past."

"Fanciful exclamations, dear friends," observed Barbican; "but I'm not surprised at your excitement. Yonder is the famous "Valley of the Alps", a standing enigma to all selenographers. How it could have been formed, no one can tell. Even wilder guesses than yours, Ardan, have been hazarded on the subject. All we can state positively at present regarding this wonderful formation, is what I have just recorded in my note-book: the "Valley of the Alps" is about 5 mile wide and 70 or 80 long: it is remarkably flat and free from "debris", though the mountains on each side rise like walls to the height of at least 10,000 feet.--Over the whole surface of our Earth I know of no natural phenomenon that can be at all compared with it."

"Another wonder almost in front of us!" cried Ardan. "I see a vast lake black as pitch and round as a crater; it is surrounded by such lofty mountains that their shadows reach clear across, rendering the interior quite invisible!"

"That's "Plato";" said M'Nicholl; "I know it well; it's the darkest spot on the Moon: many a night I gazed at it from my little observatory in Broad Street, Philadelphia."

"Right, Captain," said Barbican; "the crater "Plato", is, indeed, generally considered the blackest spot on the Moon, but I am inclined to consider the spots "Grimaldi" and "Riccioli" on the extreme eastern edge to be somewhat darker. If you take my glass, Ardan, which is of somewhat greater power than yours, you will distinctly see the bottom of the crater. The reflective power of its plateau probably proceeds from the exceedingly great number of small craters that you can detect there."

"I think I see something like them now," said Ardan. "But I am sorry the Projectile's course will not give us a vertical view."

"Can't be helped!" said Barbican; "we must go where it takes us. The day may come when man can steer the projectile or the balloon in which he is shut up, in any way he pleases, but that day has not come yet!"

Towards five in the morning, the northern limit of "Mare Imbrium" was finally passed, and "Mare Frigoris" spread its frost-colored plains far to the right and left. On the east the travellers could easily see the ring-mountain "Condamine", about 4000 feet high, while a little ahead on the right they could plainly distinguish "Fontenelle" with an altitude nearly twice as great. "Mare Frigoris" was soon passed, and the whole lunar surface beneath the travellers, as far as they could see in all directions, now bristled with mountains, crags, and peaks. Indeed, at the 70th parallel the "Seas" or plains seem to have come to an end. The spy-glasses now brought the surface to within about three miles, a distance less than that between the hotel at Chamouni and the summit of Mont Blanc. To the left, they had no difficulty in distinguishing the ramparts of "Philolaus", about 12,000 feet high, but though the crater had a diameter of nearly thirty miles, the black shadows prevented the slightest sign of its interior from being seen. The Sun was now sinking very low, and the illuminated surface of the Moon was reduced to a narrow rim.

By this time, too, the bird's eye view to which the observations had so far principally confined, decidedly altered its character. They could now look back at the lunar mountains that they had been just sailing over--a view somewhat like that enjoyed by a tourist standing on the summit of Mt. St. Gothard as he sees the sun setting behind the peaks of the Bernese Oberland. The lunar landscapes however, though seen under these new and ever varying conditions, "hardly gained much by the change," according to Ardan's expression. On the contrary, they looked, if possible, more dreary and inhospitable than before.

The Moon having no atmosphere, the benefit of this gaseous envelope in softening off and nicely shading the approaches of light and darkness, heat and cold, is never felt on her surface. There, no twilight ever softly ushers in the brilliant sun, or sweetly heralds the near approach of night's dark shadow. Night follows day, and day night, with the startling suddenness of a match struck or a lamp extinguished in a cavern. Nor can it present any gradual transition from either extreme of temperature. Hot jumps to cold, and cold jumps to hot. A moment after a glacial midnight, it is a roasting noon. Without an instant's warning the temperature falls from 212° Fahrenheit to the icy winter of interstellar space. The surface is all dazzling glare, or pitchy gloom. Wherever the direct rays of the sun do not fall, darkness reigns supreme. What we call diffused light on Earth, the grateful result of refraction, the luminous matter held in suspension by the air, the mother of our dawns and our dusks, of our blushing mornings and our dewy eyes, of our shades, our penumbras, our tints and all the other magical effects of "chiaro-oscuro"--this diffused light has absolutely no existence on the surface of the Moon. Nothing is there to break the inexorable contrast between intense white and intense black. At mid-day, let a Selenite shade his eyes and look at the sky: it will appear to him as black as pitch, while the stars still sparkle before him as vividly as they do to us on the coldest and darkest night in winter.

From this you can judge of the impression made on our travellers by those strange lunar landscapes. Even their decided novelty and very strange character produced any thing but a pleasing effect on the organs of sight. With all their enthusiasm, the travellers felt their eyes "get out of gear," as Ardan said, like those of a man blind from his birth and suddenly restored to sight. They could not adjust them so as to be able to realize the different plains of vision. All things seemed in a heap. Foreground and background were indistinguishably commingled. No painter could ever transfer a lunar landscape to his canvas.

"Landscape," Ardan said; "what do you mean by a landscape? Can you call a bottle of ink intensely black, spilled over a sheet of paper intensely white, a landscape?"

At the eightieth degree, when the Projectile was hardly 100 miles distant from the Moon, the aspect of things underwent no improvement. On the contrary, the nearer the travellers approached the lunar surface, the drearier, the more inhospitable, and the more "unearthly", everything seem to look. Still when five o'clock in the morning brought our travellers to within 50 miles of "Mount Gioja"--which their spy-glasses rendered as visible as if it was only about half a mile off, Ardan could not control himself.

"Why, we're there" he exclaimed; "we can touch her with our hands! Open the windows and let me out! Don't mind letting me go by myself. It is not very inviting quarters I admit. But as we are come to the jumping off place, I want to see the whole thing through. Open the lower window and let me out. I can take care of myself!"

"That's what's more than any other man can do," said M'Nicholl drily, "who wants to take a jump of 50 miles!"

"Better not try it, friend Ardan," said Barbican grimly: "think of Satellite! The Moon is no more attainable by your body than by our Projectile. You are far more comfortable in here than when floating about in empty space like a bolide."

Ardan, unwilling to quarrel with his companions, appeared to give in; but he secretly consoled himself by a hope which he had been entertaining for some time, and which now looked like assuming the appearance of a certainty. The Projectile had been lately approaching the Moon's surface so rapidly that it at last seemed actually impossible not to finally touch it somewhere in the neighborhood of the north pole, whose dazzling ridges now presented themselves in sharp and strong relief against the black sky. Therefore he kept silent, but quietly bided his time.

The Projectile moved on, evidently getting nearer and nearer to the lunar surface. The Moon now appeared to the travellers as she does to us towards the beginning of her Second Quarter, that is as a bright crescent instead of a hemisphere. On one side, glaring dazzling light; on the other, cavernous pitchy darkness. The line separating both was broken into a thousand bits of protuberances and concavities, dented, notched, and jagged.

At six o'clock the travellers found themselves exactly over the north pole. They were quietly gazing at the rapidly shifting features of the wondrous view unrolling itself beneath them, and were silently wondering what was to come next, when, suddenly, the Projectile passed the dividing line. The Sun and Moon instantly vanished from view. The next moment, without the slightest warning the travellers found themselves plunged in an ocean of the most appalling darkness!

CHAPTER XIV.

A NIGHT OF FIFTEEN DAYS.

The Projectile being not quite 30 miles from the Moon's north pole when the startling phenomenon, recorded in our last chapter, took place, a few seconds were quite sufficient to launch it at once from the brightest day into the unknown realms of night. The transition was so abrupt, so unexpected, without the slightest shading off, from dazzling effulgence to Cimmerian gloom, that the Moon seemed to have been suddenly extinguished like a lamp when the gas is turned off.

"Where's the Moon?" cried Ardan in amazement.

"It appears as if she had been wiped out of creation!" cried M'Nicholl.

Barbican said nothing, but observed carefully. Not a particle, however, could he see of the disc that had glittered so resplendently before his eyes a few moments ago. Not a shadow, not a gleam, not the slightest vestige could he trace of its existence. The darkness being profound, the dazzling splendor of the stars only gave a deeper blackness to the pitchy sky. No wonder. The travellers found themselves now in a night that had plenty of time not only to become black itself, but to steep everything connected with it in palpable blackness. This was the night 354-1/4 hours long, during which the invisible face of the Moon is turned away from the Sun. In this black darkness the Projectile now fully participated. Having plunged into the Moon's shadow, it was as effectually cut off from the action of the solar rays as was every point on the invisible lunar surface itself.

The travellers being no longer able to see each other, it was proposed to light the gas, though such an unexpected demand on a commodity at once so scarce and so valuable was certainly disquieting. The gas, it will be remembered, had been intended for heating alone, not illumination, of which both Sun and Moon had promised a never ending supply. But here both Sun and Moon, in a single instant vanished from before their eyes and left them in Stygian darkness.

"It's all the Sun's fault!" cried Ardan, angrily trying to throw the blame on something, and, like every angry man in such circumstances, bound to be rather nonsensical.

"Put the saddle on the right horse, Ardan," said M'Nicholl patronizingly, always delighted at an opportunity of counting a point off the Frenchman. "You mean it's all the Moon's fault, don't you, in setting herself like a screen between us and the Sun?"

"No, I don't!" cried Ardan, not at all soothed by his friend's patronizing tone, and sticking like a man to his first assertion right or wrong. "I know what I say! It will be all the Sun's fault if we use up our gas!"

"Nonsense!" said M'Nicholl. "It's the Moon, who by her interposition has cut off the Sun's light."

"The Sun had no business to allow it to be cut off," said Ardan, still angry and therefore decidedly loose in his assertions.

Before M'Nicholl could reply, Barbican interposed, and his even voice was soon heard pouring balm on the troubled waters.

"Dear friends," he observed, "a little reflection on either side would convince you that our present situation is neither the Moon's fault nor the Sun's fault. If anything is to be blamed for it, it is our Projectile which, instead of rigidly following its allotted course, has awkwardly contrived to deviate from it. However, strict justice must acquit even the Projectile. It only obeyed a great law of nature in shifting its course as soon as it came within the sphere of that inopportune bolide's influence."

"All right!" said Ardan, as usual in the best of humor after Barbican had laid down the law. "I have no doubt it is exactly as you say; and, now that all is settled, suppose we take breakfast. After such a hard night spent in work, a little refreshment would not be out of place!"

Such a proposition being too reasonable even for M'Nicholl to oppose, Ardan turned on the gas, and had everything ready for the meal in a few minutes. But, this time, breakfast was consumed in absolute silence. No toasts were offered, no hurrahs were uttered. A painful uneasiness had seized the hearts of the daring travellers. The darkness into which they were so suddenly plunged, told decidedly on their spirits. They felt almost as if they had been suddenly deprived of their sight. That thick, dismal savage blackness, which Victor Hugo's pen is so fon

 

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