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The Crisis of Peril was close at hand.
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON," "JOURNEY TO THE
CENTRE OF THE EARTH," ETC.
ELLEN E. FREWER.
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS.
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & CO.
[All Rights Reserved.]
JULES VERNE'S WORKS.
THE AUTHORIZED EDITIONS.
From Messrs. .. .etzel & Co.
PARIS, LE I" JUILLET, 1876,
18 Rue zacob.
Messieurs. SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & C"-
LIBRAIRES EDITEURS, BROADWAY, NEW YORK, U. S.
En response & votre demand nous certifions par suite de zno
traits avec MM. Sampson Low, Marston, Low & Searle, Editeurs,
S88 Fleet St.; Londres, dans lequels nous agissons comme propridtairci
exclusifs des euvres de Jules Verne, nous avons autoris6s ces messieurs,
i l'exclusion de tous autres, A publier en Amerique les ouvrages suivant,
de cet auteur:
VINGT MILLE LIEUES SOUS LES MERS.
ADVENTURES DE TROIS RUSSES ET DE TROIS ANGLAIS.
DE LA TERRE I LA LUNE.
AUTOUR DE LA LUNE.
PAYS DES FORURES.
LE TOUR DU MONDE EN 8o JOURS.
UNE VILLE FLOTTANTE
MICHEL STROGOFF: HECTOR SERVADAC.
Et que par suite de cette cession, MM. Sampson Low & C1e. de
Lonires, ont seul le droit d'autoriser la vente des cliches de ces
ouvrages dans les Etats Unis.
Veuillez agrier, Messieurs, nos salutations empress6s,
J. HETZEL ET C"
From Bampson Lo, o, arston & Co.
I88 FLEET STREET,
London, E. C., YJu 3d, 1876.
Messrs. SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & CO.,
Dear Sirs: We hereby beg to certify, that, in accordance with
the rights ceded to us by MM. Hetzel & Co., we have sold to you
the translations and illustrations of the following works by 7ules
I. MERIDIANA; OR, ADVENTURES OF THREE RUSSIANS AND
2. FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON AND A TRIP ROUND IT.
3. A FLOATING CITY AND THE BLOCKADE RUNNERS
4. THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND.
5: MICHAEL STROGOFF. 6. HECTOR SERVADAC.
Yours, very truly,
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & CO.
THE JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH is published b)
Scribner, Armstrong & Co., by direct arrangement with MM. Hetze
I. A CHALLENGE ... ... ... ,
IL THE ANTECEDENTS OF CAPTAIN N:LRVADAC A')3 HI1
ORDERLY, BEN ZOOF ...
INTERRUPTED EFFUSIONS ..
A CONVULSION OF NATURE
A MYSTERIOUS SEA ...
THE CAPTAIN MAKE.,? AN E.XPL'rT. TIO.n
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN ... ..,
VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY ,.
INQUIRIES UNSATISFIED ... ...
A SEARCH FOR AlGERIA .
AN ISLAND TOMB ... ...
AT THE MERCY OF THE WINDS ...
A ROYAL SALUTE ... ...
SENSITIVE NATIONALITY ... .
AN ENIGMA FROM THE SEA ... .
THE RESIDUUM OF A CONTINENT ...
A SECOND ENIGMA ......
AN UNEXPECTED POPULATION ...
GALLIA'S GOVERNOR GENERAL ...
A LIGHT ON THE HORIZON ...
WINTER QUARTERS ... ...
A FROZEN OCEAN ...
A CARRIER-PIGEON ......
A SLEDGE-RIDE ... ...
.. ... 28
... ... ,8
.. .. 47
... ... 87
... ... 121
... ... 131
... .. 150
... ... 159
... ... 68
... ... 182
I. THE ASTRONOMER ... ... .. ... ... 195
II. A REVELATION .. ... ... ... ... 203
HIT. COMETS, OLD AND NEW ... ... ... ... 211
IV. THE PROFESSOR'S EXPESIENCE3 ... ... ... 223
V. A REVISED CALENDAR ... ... ... ... 234
VI. WANTED: A STEELY4r.S .. ... ... 245
VII. MONEY AT A PREMIUM .. ... .. ... 252
VIII. GALLIA WEIGHED .. ... .. ... 260
IX. JUPITER SOMEWHAT CLOSE ... ... ... 269
X. MARKET PRICES IN GALLIA ... ... ... 278
XL FA2 INTr SwACE ... ... ... ... ... 285
XII. A FETE DAY ... ... ... ... ... 294
XIII. THE BOWELS CF THE COME ...... .. ... ... 303
XIV. DREARY MONTHS ... .. ... ... 312
XV. THE PROFESSOR PERPLEXED ... ... ... ... 320
XVI. A JOURNEY AND A .lSni'tGIN'lIM;ii' ... ... 329
XVII. A BOLD PROPOSITION ... .. ... ... 340
XVIII. THE VEN';URE MADE ... ...... ... 351
XIX. SUSPI'SE ... ... ... ... ... ... 360
XX. B;CK AGAUI ... so .. 366
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
"Here is my Card" .. ... ... ... ... Ti f'ce pa-e
The Two Officers listened gravely enough to oervadac's
Request ... ... ... ...... 4
Ben Zoof .. ... ... .. ... .. 9
" He is at his Everlasting Verses again I" ... ... ,, 15
" Any Bones broken, Sir?" .. .. .. ... 19
Meantime the Jackal had seated itself upon its Haurches ,, 22
In his Ascent he passed Ben Zoof, who had already coin-
menced his Downward Course ... .. ... ,. 24
But the River-bank had now become the Shore of an Un-
known Sea ... ... ... ... ... ,, 27
"Come, wake up I ... ... ... ... 32
They seemed transformed from Ordinary Quadrupeds into
Veritable Hippogriffs ... ... ... ... 35
Instead of Iooo, the Instrument-registered only 660 ... ,, 40
His watching was all in vain ... ... ... ... ,, 42
" It is not the Moon" ... ... ... ... ,, 45
Meanwhile Servadac was doing his utmost to recall the
Lessons of his School-days ... ... ... ,, 49
The Observatory at Paris ... ... .. ...,, 54
"Before we speak one other word, tell me what has hap-
pened" ... ... ... ... ... ,, 57
Lieutenant Procope ... .. .. ... 62
Sternly, almost fiercely, regarding the Boundless Waste of
W ater ... ... ... ... ... ... 66
A Long and somewhat Wavering Discussion ... ... y
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
They made their way into the Enclosure ... ... ... To faceage 74
"The Tomb of St. Louis!" ... ... ... ,, 77
Day and Night they perched fearlessly upon the Yards ... ,, 82
The Dobryna dashed in between its Perpendicular Walls ,, 86
"Well, men, what is it?" .. ... ... ... ,, 89
A Full-sized Shot ... ... ... ... ... ,, 94
" Allow me to introduce you to Count Wassili Timaschelf" ,, 97
" The Statement seems highly incredible" ... ... ,, 00
" That Flag has floated where it is for Ages" ... ... ,, o2
Everybody hurried to the Forecastle ... ... ..,, Ino
"You would presume that he was a Frenchman ?" asked the
Count ... ... ... ... ... ... I12
They hurried on to scale the Heights ... ...,, 117
He picked up a Little Block of Stony Substance ... ... ,, 12
The Heavens were illuminated by a Superb Shower of Falling
Stars ... ... ... .. ...,, 123
A Little Girl was peeping shyly through the Branches ... ,, 125
All along their way tney made unsparing S.aughter of the
Birds ... ... ... ... ... 135
"These Rascals defraud me of my Rights" ... ... ,, 138
Isaac rlakkabut ... ... .. ... ... ,, 142
The Captain and the Lieutenant were soon alongside the
Floating Emporium ... ... ... ... 146
"Listen to me, my Friends -' ... .. ... ,, 148
With Ben Zoof as Overseer, both Spanish Majos and Russian
Sailors set to work witn a wil ... ... ... 51
The Captain and the Count scoured the Island ... ,, 153
It took more than half an hour to settle on a suitable Landing-
place ... ... ... ... ... ... 57
A Sharp Turn brought them into a Sudden Flood of Light ,, 16o
Ben Zoof, in his turn, danced a pas seul ... ... 166
It had no feature in common with the Moon ... ... ,, 169
The Explorers from the Summit scanned the surrounding
View ... ... ... ... ... ... ,, 171
"Throw, Nina, throw, as hard as you can" ... ...,, 174
A Supply of Skates was speedily brought into Use ... ... ,, 176
She was being attacked by half a dozen Great Sea-gulls ...,, 80
Count Timascheff could not forbear pressing his Two Brave
Friends to his Bosom ... ... ... ... ,, 86
"Look, look I" ... ... ... ... ...,, 189
"No; he is alive I" ... ... ... ... ,, I
Palmyrin Rosette ... ... ... ... ... ,, 98
"Servadac, Five Hundred Lines to morrow !" ... ... ,, 204
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. ix
"Let me in; do, please, let me in" ... ... To fcepage 204
Servadac shrugged his Shoulders in contempt and turned away ,, 206
Ben Zoof appeared with a Great Cup, Hot and Strong ... ,, 208
" You are on my Comet, on Gallia itself!" ... ... ,, 210
Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope ... .... ,, 213
Donati's Comet ... ... ... .. ..,, 216
" You are very welcome" ... ... ... ... ,, 224
Carefully gauging the Recesses of Gemini .. ... ,, 226
The Solitary Occupant of the only Fragment that survived of
the Balearic Archipelago ... ... ... ... ,, 229
In these Retired Quarters the Astronomer took up his Abode ,, 235
Like Little Esquimeaux ... ... .. ... ,, 236
Gallia's path lay clearly defined before their eyes ... ... ,, 238
" Now, Lieutenant I no Evasions I no Shufflings! ...,, 241
"A moment's Breathing-time, please" ... ... ... ,, 242
" Have you no Father nor Mother?" ... ...,, 246
The Rest of the Party followed ... ... ... ... ,, 249
"We are not going to ruin you, you know" ... ... ,, 254
"Some of your Money! I must have some Money !" ... ,, 257
"Here we have the measure of a Metre exactly" ...,, 261
He suspended the Money-bag to the Hook ... ... ,, 263
"Let me read to you a few Lines from Flammarion" ... ,, 273
"I am come to buy your Goods ... ... ... ,, 280
The Index registered only 133 Grammes I ... ... ,, 283
Another World was now becoming a Conspicuous Object in
the Heavens ... ... ... ... ... ,, 287
Sometimes they would appear as an Illuminated Arch, with
the Shadow of Saturn passing over it ... .... ,, 290
The Composition of the Bill of Fare ... ... ... ,, 296
The Company was more than contented ... ...,, 299
The Volcano was extinguished I ... ... ... ... ,, 301
Waving his Torch ... .. ... ... ,, 307
Zephyr and Galette were conducted down the Crater .. ,, 313
Occupied in his own appropriated Corner ... ... ,, 314
Nine hundred feet below ground ... ... ... ,, 316
"Confound it! what does it mean?" ... ... 322
" Give it a little push, please ... ... ... ... 327
" Help! help I screamed Hakkabut, I shall be strangled" ,, 330
" It is a Semaphore, sir" ... ... ... ... 334
"Major Oliphant, I believe?" .. ... ... 336
Servadac communicated to the Count the Result of his Ex-
pedition .. ... .. .. ... ... 340
Servadac was the first to speak ... ... ... 344
X LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The task of joining together the Casing was soon complete TofacePage 347
"You forget, Sir, that you are addressing the Governour-
General of Gallia" ... ... ... ... ,, 353
His Volubility was brought to a Sudden Check ... ... 359
"Here is my Card."
"NOTHING, sir, can induce me to surrender my claim."
"I am sorry for it, count, but in such a matter your
views cannot modify mine."
"But allow me to point out that my seniority un-
questionably gives me a prior right"
Mere seniority, I assert, in an affair of this kind, can-
not possibly entitle you to any prior claim whatever."
"Then, captain, no alternative is left but for me to
compel you to yield at the sword's point."
That's as you please, count; but neither sword nor
pistol can ever force me to forego my pretensions. Here is
This rapid altercation was thus brought to an end by
the formal interchange of the names of the disputants.
On one of the cards was inscribed-
Captain Hector Servadac,
2 HECTOR SERVADAC.
On the other was the title-
Count Wassili Timascheff
On board the Schooner "Dobryna."
It did not take long to arrange that seconds should be
appointed, who would meet in Mostaganem at two o'clock
that day; and the captain and the count were on the
point of parting from each other, with a salute of punc-
tilious courtesy, when Timascheff, as if struck by a sudden
thought, said abruptly-
"Perhaps it would be better, captain, not to allow the
real cause of this to transpire ?"
"Far better," replied Servadac; "it is undesirable in
every way for any names to be mentioned."
"In that case, however," continued the count, "it will
be necessary to assign an ostensible pretext of some kind.
Shall we allege a musical dispute? a contention in which
I feel bound to defend Wagner, while you are the zealous
champion of Rossini ?"
"I am quite content," answered Servadac, with a smile;
and with another low bow they parted.
The scene, as here depicted, took place upon the
extremity of a little cape on the Algerian coast, between
Mostaganem and Tenes, about two miles from the mouth
of the Shelif. The headland rose more than sixty feet
above the sea-level, and the azure waters of the Mediter-
ranean, as they softly kissed the strand, were tinged with
the reddish hue of the ferriferous rocks that formed its
base. It was the 31st of December. The noontide sun,
which usually illuminated the various projections of the
coast with a dazzling brightness, was hidden by a dense
mass of cloud, and the fog which, from some unaccount-
able cause, had hung for the last two months over nearly
every region in the world, causing serious interruption to
traffic between continent and continent, spread its dreary
veil across land and sea.
After taking leave of the staff-officer, Count Wassili
Timascheff wended his way down to a small creek, and
A CHALLENGE. 3
took his seat in the stern of a light four-oar that had been
awaiting his return; this was immediately pushed off from
shore, and was soon alongside a pleasure-yacht, that was
lying to, not many cables' length away.
At a sign from Servadac, an orderly, who had been
standing at a respectful distance, led forward a magnificent
Arabian horse; the captain vaulted into the saddle, and
followed by his attendant, well mounted as himself, started
off towards Mostaganem. It was half-past twelve when
the two riders crossed the bridge that had been recently
erected over the Shelif, and a quarter of an hour later
their steeds, flecked with foam, dashed through the Mas-
cara Gate, which was one of five entrances opened in
the embattled wall that encircled the town.
At that date, Mostaganem contained about fifteen
thousand inhabitants, three thousand of whom were French.
Besides being one of the principal district towns of the
province of Oran, it was also a military station. Valuable
woven fabrics, morocco leather work, articles made from
the esparto (a Spanish rush), and numerous nutritive com-
pounds were amongst its manufactures, whilst grain, cotton,
wool, figs, and grapes, as well as cattle, were exported
thence to France. All traces however had disappeared of
the ancient anchorage, where, in past years, vessels had
been unable to hold their own during the westerly and
north-westerly gales, and Mostaganem now rejoiced in a
well-sheltered harbour, which enabled her to utilize all the
rich products of the Mina and the Lower Shelif. It was
the existence of so good a harbour amidst the exposed
cliffs of this coast that had induced the owner of the
Dobryna to winter in these parts, and for two months the
Russian standard had been seen floating from her yard,
whilst on her mast-head was hoisted the pennant of the
French Yacht Club, with the distinctive letters M.C.W.T.,
the initials of Count Timascheff.
Having entered the town, Captain Servadac made his
way towards Matmore, the military quarter, and was not
long in finding two friends on whom he might rely-a
4 HECTOR SERVADAC.
major of the 2nd Fusileers, and a captain of the 8th
Artillery. The two officers listened gravely enough to
Servadac's request that they would act as his seconds in
an affair of honour, but could not resist a smile on-hearing
that the dispute between him and the count had originated
in a musical discussion. Surely, they suggested, the matter
might be easily arranged; a few slight concessions on
either side, and all might be amicably adjusted. But no
representations on their part were of any avail. Hector
Servadac was inflexible.
"No concession is possible," he replied, resolutely.
" Rossini has been deeply injured, and I cannot suffer the
injury to be unavenged. Wagner is a fool. I shall keep
my word. I am quite firm."
"Be it so, then," replied one of the officers; "and after
all, you know, a sword-cut need not be a very serious
"Certainly not," rejoined Servadac; "and especially
in my case, when I have not the slightest intention of
being wounded at all."
Incredulous as they naturally were as to the assigned
cause of the quarrel, Servadac's friends had no alternative
but to accept his explanation, and without farther parley
they started for the staff office, where, at two o'clock pre-
cisely, they were to meet the seconds of Count Timascheff.
Two hours later they had returned. All the preliminaries
had been arranged; the count, who like many Russians
abroad was an aide-de-camp of the Czar, had of course
proposed swords as the most appropriate weapons, and
the duel was to take place on the following morning, the
first of January, at nine o'clock, upon the cliff at a spot
about a mile and a half from the mouth of the Shelif.
With the assurance that they would not fail to keep their
appointment with military punctuality, the two officers
cordially wrung their friend's hand and retired to the
Zulma Cafr for a game at piquet. Captain Servadac at
once retraced his steps and left the town.
For the last fortnight Servadac had not been occupying
The Two Officers listened gravely enough to Servadac's Request.
A CHALLENGE. 5
his proper lodgings in the military quarters; having been
appointed to make a local levy, he had been living in a
gourbi, or native hut, on the Mostaganem coast, between
four and five miles from the Shelif. His orderly was his
sole companion, and by any other man than the captain
the enforced exile would have been esteemed little short
of a severe penance.
On his road to the gourbi, his mental occupation was
a very laborious effort to put together what he was
pleased to call a rondo, upon a model of versification all
but obsolete. This rondo, it is unnecessary to conceal, was
to be an ode addressed to a young widow by whom he
had been captivated, and whom he was anxious to marry,
and the tenour of his muse was intended to prove that
when once a man has found an object in all respects
worthy of his affections, he should love her "in all simpli-
city." Whether the aphorism were universally true was
not very material to the gallant captain, whose sole ambi-
tion at present was to construct a roundelay of which this
should be the prevailing sentiment. He indulged the
fancy that he might succeed in producing a composition
which would have a fine effect here in Algeria, where
poetry in that form was all but unknown.
I know well enough," he said repeatedly to himself,
"what I want to say. I want to tell her that I love her
sincerely, and wish to marry her; but, confound it! the
words won't rhyme. Plague on it! Does nothing rhyme
with 'simplicity' ? Ah I have it now-
'Lovers should, whoe'er they be,
Love in all simplicity.'
But what next ? how am I to go on ? I say, Ben Zoof,"
he called aloud to his orderly, who was trotting silently
close in his rear, "did you ever compose any poetry ? "
"No, captain," answered the man promptly; "I have
never made any verses, but I have seen them made fast
enough at a booth during the fete of Montmartre."
Can you remember them ? "
6 HECTOR SERVADAC.
"Remember them I to be sure I can. This is the way
'Come in I come in! you'll not repent
The entrance money you have spent;
The wondrous mirror in this place
Reveals your future sweetheart's face."
"Bosh!" cried Servadac in disgust; "your verses are
As good as any others, captain, squeaked through a
Hold your tongue, man," said Servadac peremptorily;
"I have made another couplet.
'Lovers should, whoe'er they be,
Love in all simplicity;
Lover, loving honestly,
Offer I myself to thee.'"
Beyond this, however, the captain's poetical genius was
impotent to carry him ; his farther efforts were unavailing,
and when at six o'clock he reached the gourbi, the four
lines still remained the limit of his composition.
( 7 )
THE ANTECEDENTS OF CAPTAIN SERVADAC AND Isb
ORDERLY, BEN ZOOF.
AT the time of which I am writing, there might be seen
in the registers of the Minister of War the following
SERVADAC (Hector), born at St. Trdlody in the district
of Lesparre, department of the Gironde, July 19th, 18-.
Property: 1200 francs in rentes.
Length of service: Fourteen years, three months, and
Service: Two years at school at St. Cyr; two years at
L'Ecole d'Application; two years in the 8th Regiment of
the Line; two years in the 3rd Light Cavalry; seven
years in Algeria.
Campaigns: Soudan and Japan.
Rank: Captain on the staff at Mostaganem.
Decorations: Chevalier of the Legion of Honour,
March 13th, 18-.
Hector Servadac was thirty years of age, an orphan
without lineage and almost without means. Thirsting for
glory rather than for gold, slightly scatter-brained, but
warm-hearted, generous, and brave, he was eminently
formed to be the proteg6 of the god of battles.
For the first year and a half of his existence he hac'
0 HECTOR SERVADAC.
been the foster-child of the sturdy wife of a vine-dresser of
Medoc-a lineal descendant of the heroes of ancient
prowess; in a woid, he was one of those individuals whom
nature seems to have predestined for remarkable things,
and around whose cradle have hovered the fairy god-
mothers of adventure and good luck.
In appearance Hector Servadac was quite the type of
an officer; he was rather more than five feet six inches
high, slim and graceful, with dark curling hair and mous-
taches, well-formed hands and feet, and a clear blue eye.
He seemed born to please without being conscious of the
power he possessed. It must be owned, and no one was
more ready to confess it than himself, that his literary
attainments were by no means of a high order. We don't
spin tops" is a favourite saying amongst artillery officers,
indicating that they do not shirk their duty by frivolous
pursuits; but it must be confessed that Servadac, being
naturally idle, was very much given to "spinning tops."
His good abilities, however, and his ready intelligence had
carried him successfully through the curriculum of his
early career. He was a good draughtsman, an excellent
rider-having thoroughly mastered the successor to the
famous Uncle Tom at the riding-school of St. Cyr-and
the records of his military service related that his name
had several times been deservedly included in the order of
The following episode may suffice, in a certain degree,
to illustrate his character. Once, in action, he was leading
a detachment of infantry through an intrenchment. They
came to a place where the side-work of the trench had
been so riddled by shell that a portion of it had actually
fallen in, leaving an aperture quite unsheltered from the
grape-shot that was pouring in thick and fast. The men
hesitated. In an instant Servadac mounted the side-work,
laid himself down in the gap, and thus filling up the
breach by his own body, shouted-
"March on !"
And through a storm of shot, not one of which
THE CAPTAIN AND HIS ORDERLY. 9
touched the prostrate officer, the whole troop passed on in
Since leaving the military college, Servadac, with the
exception of his two campaigns in the Soudan and Japan,
had been always stationed in Algeria. He had now a
staff appointment at Mostaganem, and had lately been
entrusted with some topographical work on the coast
between Tenes and the Shelif. It was a matter of little
consequence to him that the gourbi, in which of necessity
he was quartered, was uncomfortable and ill-contrived; he
loved the open air, and the independence of his life suited
him well. Sometimes he would wander on foot upon the
sandy shore, and sometimes he would enjoy a ride along
the summit of the cliff; altogether being in no hurry at all
to bring his task to an end. His occupation, moreover,
was not so engrossing but that he could find leisure for
taking a short railway journey once or twice a week; so
that he was ever and again putting in an appearance at
the general's receptions at Oran, and at the fetes given
by the governor at Algiers.
It was on one of these occasions that he had first met
Madame de L-, the lady to whom he was desirous of
dedicating the rondo, the first four lines of which had just
seen the light. She was a colonel's widow, young and hand-
some, very reserved, not to say haughty in her manner,
and either indifferent or impervious to the admiration
which she inspired. Captain Servadac had not yet ven-
tured to declare his attachment; of rivals he was well
aware he had not a few, and amongst these not the least
formidable was the Russian Count Timascheff. And
although the young widow was all unconscious of the
share she had in the matter, it was she, and she alone, who
was the cause of the challenge just given and accepted by
her two ardent admirers.
During his residence in the gourbi, Hector Servadac's
sole companion was his orderly, Ben Zoof. Ben Zoof was
devoted, body and soul, to his superior officer. His own
personal ambition was so entirely absorbed in his master's
IO HECTOR SERVADAC.
welfare, that it is certain no offer of promotion-even had
it been that of aide-de-camp to the Governor-General of
Algiers-would have induced him to quit that master's
service. His name might seem to imply that he was a
native of Algeria; but such was by no means the case.
His true name was Laurent; he was a native of Mont-
martre in Paris, and how or why he had obtained his
patronymic was one of those anomalies which the most
sagacious of etymologists would find it hard to explain.
Born on the hill of Montmartre, between the Solferino
tower and the mill of La Galette, Ben Zoof had ever pos-
sessed the most unreserved admiration for his birthplace;
and to his eyes the heights and district of Montmartre
represented an epitome of all the wonders of the world. In
all his travels, and these had been not a few, he had never
beheld scenery which could compete with that of his native
home. No cathedral-not even Burgos itself-could vie
with the church at Montmartre. Its race-course could well
hold its own against that at Pentilique; its reservoir
would throw the Mediterranean into the shade; its Solfe-
rino tower was far more upright than the tower of Pisa;
its forests had flourished long before the invasion of the
Celts; and its very mill produced no ordinary flour, but
provided material for cakes of world-wide renown. To
crown all, Montmartre boasted a mountain-a veritable
mountain; envious tongues indeed might pronounce it
little more than a hill; but Ben Zoof would have allowed
himself to be hewn in pieces rather than admit that it was
anything less than fifteen thousand feet in height.
Ben Zoof's most ambitious desire was to induce the
captain to go with him and end his days in his much-loved
home; and so incessantly were Servadac's ears besieged
with descriptions of the unparalleled beauties and advan-
tages of this eighteenth arrondissement of Paris, that he
could scarcely hear the name of Montmartre without a
conscious thrill of aversion. Ben Zoof, however, did not
despair of ultimately converting the captain, and mean-
while had resolved never to leave him. When a private in the
THE CAPTAIN AND HIS ORDERLY. II
8th Cavalry, he had been on the point of quitting the army
at twenty-eight years of age, but unexpectedly he had been
appointed orderly to Captain Servadac. Side by side they
fought in two campaigns. Servadac had saved Ben Zoof's
life in Japan ; Ben Zoof had rendered his master a like
service in the Soudan. The bond of union thus effected
could never be severed ; and although Ben Zoofs achieve-
ments had fairly earned him the right of retirement, he
firmly declined all honours or any pension that might part
him from his superior officer. Two stout arms, an iron
constitution, a powerful frame, and an indomitable courage
were all loyally devoted to his master's service, and fairly
entitled him to his soi-disant designation of The Rampart
of Montmartre." Unlike his master, he made no preten-
sion to any gift of poetic power, but his inexhaustible
memory made him a living encyclopedia; and for his
stock of anecdotes and trooper's tales he was matchless.
Thoroughly appreciating his servant's good qualities,
Captain Servadac endured with imperturbable good humour
those idiosyncrasies, which in a less faithful follower would
have been intolerable, and from time to time he would
drop a word of sympathy that served to deepen his sub-
On one occasion, when Ben Zoof had mounted his
hobby-horse, and was indulging in high-flown praises about
his beloved eighteenth arrondissement, the captain had
"Do you know, Ben Zoof, that Montmartre only
requires a matter of some thirteen thousand feet to make
it as high as Mont Blanc ?"
Ben Zoof's eyes glistened with delight; and from that
moment Hector Servadac and Montmartre held equal
places in his affection.
12 HECTOR SERVADAC.
COMPOSED of mud and loose stones, and covered with a
thatch of turf and straw, known to the natives by the name
of driss," the gourbi, though a grade better than the
tents of the nomad" Arabs, was yet far inferior to any
habitation built of brick or stone. Little more than a
hovel, the gourbi would have been quite inadequate to the
needs of its present inmates, if it had not adjoined an old
stone hostelry, previously occupied by a detachment of
engineers, and which now afforded shelter for Ben Zoof
and the two horses. It still contained a considerable
number of tools, such as mattocks, shovels, and pick-axes.
Uncomfortable as was their temporary abode, Servadac
and his attendant made no complaints: neither of them
was dainty in the matter either of board or lodging.
"Give a man a little philosophy and a good digestion,
and he will thrive anywhere," was a favourite speech of the
captain's. A true Gascon, he had his philosophy, like his
pocket-money, always at hand; and as for his digestion, it
may be doubted whether the weight of all the waters of
the Garonne would have caused it any inconvenience.
And in this respect Ben Zoof was quite a match for his
matter; the power of his gastric juices was enormous, and
to any believer in the theory of metempsychosis he would
appear to have had an anterior existence under the form
of an ostrich, digesting pebbles as easily as he would the
tenderest slice from the breast of a chicken.
INTERRUPTED EFFUSIONS. 13
The gourbi was stocked with a month's provisions,
water in abundance could be obtained from an adjacent
cistern, and a little foraging was sufficient to supply the
requirements of the stable, whilst all other necessities
could be satisfied by the marvellous fertility of the plain
between Tenes and Mostaganem, which fairly rivalled the
rich country of the Mitidja. Game was pretty plentiful,
and on condition that he did not allow his sport to interfere
with his proper duties, the captain, like other staff-officers,
was permitted to use a fowling-piece.
On his return to the gourbi, Servadac dined with an
appetite to which his long ride had given an extra sharp-
ness. Ben Zoof's culinary efforts were somewhat remark-
able : no tasteless or insipid dishes were ever the result of
his preparation ; salt, pepper, vinegar, were all bestowed
with a lavish hand, and it was well for both him and his
master that their gastronomic powers were adequate to
absorb the most pungent of condiments.
After dinner, leaving his orderly to stow away the
remains of the repast in what he was pleased to term the
"cupboard of his stomach," Captain Servadac turned out
into the open air to smoke his pipe upon the edge of the
cliff. The shades of night were drawing on. An hour
previously, veiled in heavy clouds, the sun had sunk below
the horizon that bounded the plain beyond the Shelif. The
sky presented a most singular appearance. Towards the
north, although the darkness rendered it impossible to see
beyond a quarter of a mile, the upper strata of the atmo-
sphere were suffused with a rosy glare. No well-defined
fringe of light, nor arch of luminous rays, betokened a
display of aurora borealis, even had such a phenomenon
been possible in these latitudes ; and the most experienced
meteorologist would have been puzzled to explain the
cause of this striking illumination on this last evening of
the passing year.
But Captain Servadac was no meteorologist, and it is
to be doubted whether, since leaving school, he had ever
opened his "Course of Cosmography." Besides, as he
14 HECTOR SERVADAC.
strolled along, he had other thoughts to occupy his mind.
The prospect of the morrow offered serious matter for
consideration. The captain was actuated by no personal
animosity against the count; though rivals, the two men
regarded each other with sincere respect; they had simply
reached a crisis in which one of them was de trop; which
of them, fate must decide.
At eight o'clock, Captain Servadac re-entered the
gourbi, the single apartment of which contained his bed, a
small writing-table, and some trunks that served instead of
cupboards. The orderly performed his culinary operations
in the adjoining building, which he also used as a bed-
room, and where, extended on what he called his "good
oak mattress," he would sleep soundly as a dormouse for
twelve hours at a stretch. Ben Zoof had not yet received
his orders to retire, and ensconcing himself in a corner of
the gourbi, he endeavoured to doze-a task which the
unusual agitation of his master rendered somewhat didicult.
Captain Servadac was evidently in no hurry to betake
himself to rest, but seating himself at his table, with a pair
of compasses and a sheet of tracing-paper, he began to
draw, with red and blue crayons, a variety of coloured
lines, which could hardly be supposed to have much con-
nection with a topographical survey. In truth, his charac-
ter of staff-officer was now entirely absorbed into that of
the Gascon poet. Whether he imagined that the compasses
would bestow upon his verses the measure of a mathe-
matical accuracy, or whether he fancied that the parti-
coloured lines would lend variety to his rhythm, it is
impossible to determine; be that as it may, he was
devoting all his energies to the compilation of his rondo,
and supremely difficult he found the task.
"Hang it!" he ejaculated, "whatever induced me to
choose this metre ? It is as hard to find rhymes as to
rally fugitives in a battle. But, by all the powers! it shan't
be said that a French officer cannot cope with a piece
of poetry. One battalion has shown fight-now for the
" He is at his Everlasting Verses again "
INTERRUPTED EFFUSIONS. I
Perseverance had its reward. Presently two lines, one
red, the other blue, appeared upon the paper, and the
"Words, mere words, cannot avail,
Telling true heart's tender tale."
"What on earth ails my master ?" muttered Ben Zoof;
"for the last hour he has been as fidgety as a bird return-
ing after its winter migration."
Servadac suddenly started from his seat, and as he
paced the room with all the frenzy of poetic inspiration,
Empty words cannot convey
All a lover's heart would say.
"Well, to be sure, he is at his everlasting verses again !"
said Ben Zoof to himself, as he roused himself in his
corner. "Impossible to sleep in such a noise;" and he
gave vent to a loud groan.
"How now, Ben Zoof?" said the captain, sharply.
"What ails you ? "
".Nothing, sir, only the nightmare."
"Curse the fellow, he has quite interrupted me!"
ejaculated the captain. Ben Zoof!" he called aloud.
"Here, sir !" was the prompt reply; and in an instant
the orderly was upon his feet, standing in a military atti-
tude, one hand to his forehead, the other closely pressed
to his trouser-seam.
Stay where you are don't move an inch! shouted
Servadac; I have just thought of the end of my rondo."
And in a voice of inspiration, accompanying his words
with dramatic gestures, Servadac began to declaim:
Listen, lady, to my vows-
0, consent to be my spouse;
Constant ever I will be,
No closing lines were uttered. All at once, with
unutterable violence, the captain and his orderly were
dashed, face downwards, to the ground.
A CONVULSION OF NATURE.
WHENCE came it that at that very moment the horizon
underwent so strange and sudden a modification, that the
eye of the most practised mariner could not distinguish
between sea and sky ?
Whence came it that the billows raged and rose to a
height hitherto unregistered in the records of science ?
Whence came it that the elements united in one deafen-
ing crash; that the earth groaned as though the whole
framework of the globe were ruptured ; that the waters
roared from their innermost depths; that ihe air shrieked
with all the fury of a cyclone ?
Whence came it that a radiance, intense than the
effulgence of the Northern Lights, overspread the firma-
ment, and momentarily dimmed the splendour of the
brightest stars ?
Whence came it that the Mediterranean, one instant
emptied of its waters, was the next flooded with a foaming
Whence came it that in the space of a few seconds the
moon's disc reached a magnitude as though it were but a
tenth part of its ordinary distance from the earth ?
Whence came it that a new blazing spheroid, hitherto
unknown to astronomy, now appeared suddenly in the
firmament, though it were but to lose itself immediately
behind masses of accumulated cloud ?
A CONVULSION OF NATURE. 17
What phenomenon was this that had produced a cata-
clysm so tremendous in its effects upon earth, sky, and
Was it possible that a single human being could have
survived the convulsion? and if so, could he explain its
A MYSTERIOUS SEA.
VIOLENT as the commotion had been, that portion of the
Algerian coast which is bounded on the north by the
Mediterranean, and on the west by the right bank of
the Shelif, appeared to have suffered little change. It is
true that slight indentations were perceptible in the fertile
plain, and the surface of the sea was ruffled with an agita-
tion that was quite unusual; but the rugged outline of the
cliff was the same as heretofore, and the physical aspect
of the entire scene appeared generally unaltered. The
stone hostelry, with the exception of some deep clefts in
its walls, had sustained little injury ; but the gourbi, like a
house of cards destroyed by an infant's breath, had com-
pletely subsided, and its two inmates lay motionless, buried
under the sunken thatch.
It was two hours after the catastrophe that Captain
Servadac regained consciousness; he had some trouble to
collect his thoughts, and it is not altogether surprising
that the first sounds that escaped his lips were the con-
cluding words of the rondo which had been so ruthlessly
Constant ever I will be,
His next thought was to wonder what had happened;
and in ord r to find an answer to the question, he pushed
" Any Bones broken, Sir?"
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 19
aside the broken thatch, so that his head appeared above
"The gourbi levelled to the ground !" he exclaimed,
as he looked about him; "surely a waterspout has passed
along the coast."
He felt all over his body to perceive what injuries he
had sustained, but not a sprain nor a scratch could he
"Where are you, Ben Zoof?" he shouted next.
Here, sir!" and with military promptitude a second
head protruded from the rubbish.
Have you any notion what has happened, Ben Zoof?"
"I've a notion, captain, that it's all up with us."
"Nonsense, Ben Zoof; it is nothing but a waterspout!"
"Very good, sir;" was the philosophical reply, imme-
diately followed by the query, "Any bones broken, sir? "
None whatever," said the captain.
Both men were soon on their feet, and began to make
a vigorous clearance of the ruins, beneath which they
found that their arms, cooking utensils, and other property
had sustained little injury.
"By-the-by, what o'clock is it?" asked the captain
"It must be eight o'clock, at least," said Ben Zoof,
looking at the sun, which was a considerable height above
the horizon. "It is almost time for us to start."
"To start! what for?"
"To keep your appointment with Count Timascheff."
"By Jovel I had forgotten all about it!" exclaimed
Then looking at his watch, he cried :-
"What are you thinking of, Ben Zoof ? It is scarcely
Two in the morning, or two in the afternoon ?" asked
Ben Zoof, again regarding the sun.
Servadac raised his watch to his ear.
It is going," said; he but, by all the wines of Medoc,
20 HECTOR SERVADAC.
I am puzzled. Don't you see that the sun is in the west?
It must be near setting."
"Setting, captain Why, it is rising finely, like a con
script at the sound of the reveille. It is considerably
higher since we have been talking."
Incredible as it might appear, the fact was undeniable
that the sun was rising over the Shelif from that quarter
of the ho izon behind which it usually sank for the latter
portion of its daily round. They were utterly bewildered.
Some mysterious phenomenon must not only have altered
the position of the sun in the sidereal system, but must
even have brought about an important modification of the
earth's rotation on her axis. If Captain Servadac could
now have laid hands upon a member of the Board of
Longitudes, he would doubtless have sought all manner
of information; but as it was, he consoled himself with the
prospect of reading an explanation of the mystery in next
week's newspapers, and turned his attention to what was
to him of more immediate importance.
Come, let us be off," said he to his orderly ; "though
heaven and earth be topsy-turvy, I must be at my post
To do Count Timascheff the honour of running him
through the body," added Ben Zoof.
If Servadac and his orderly had been less preoccupied,
they would have noticed that a variety of other physical
changes besides the apparent alteration in the movement
of the sun had been evolved during the atmospheric dis-
turbances of that New Year's night.: As they descended
the steep footpath leading from the cliff towards the Shelif,
they were unconscious that their respiration became forced
and rapid, like that of a mountaineer when he has reached
an altitude where the circumambient air has become less
charged with oxygen. They were also unconscious that
their voices were thin and feeble ; either they must them-
selves have become rather deaf, or it was evident that the
air had become less capable of transmitting sound.
The weather, which on the previous evening had been
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 21
very foggy, had entirely changed. The sky had assumed
a singular tint, and was soon covered with lowering clouds
that completely hid the sun. There were, indeed, all the
signs of a coming storm, but the vapour, on account of
the insufficient condensation, failed to get resolved.
The sea appeared quite deserted, a most unusual cir-
cumstance along this coast, and not a sail nor a trail of
smoke broke the grey monotony of water and sky. The
limits of the horizon, too, had become much circumscribed.
On land, as well as on sea, the remote distance had com-
pletely disappeared, and it seemed as though the globe
had assumed a more decided convexity.
At the pace at which they were walking, it was very
evident that the captain and his attendant would not take
long to accomplish the three miles that lay between the
gourbi and the place of rendezvous. They did not ex-
change a word, but each was conscious of an unusual
buoyancy, which appeared to lift up their bodies and give,
as it were, wings to their feet. If B-n Zoof had expressed
his sensations in words, he would have said that he felt
" up to anything," and he had even forgotten to taste so
much as a crust of bread, a lapse of memory of which the
worthy soldier was rarely guilty.
As these thoughts were crossing his mind, a harsh
bark was heard to the left of the footpath, and a jackal
was seen emerging from a large grove of lentisks. Re-
garding the two wayfarers with manifest uneasiness, the
beast took up its position at the foot of a rock, more than
thirty feet in height. It belonged to an African species
distinguished by a black spotted skin, and a black line
down the front of the legs. At night-time, when they
scour the country in herds, the creatures are somewhat
formidable, but singly they are no more dangerous than
a dog. Though by no means afraid of them, Ben Zoof
had a particular aversion to jackals, perhaps because they
had no place among the fauna of his beloved Montmartre.
He accordingly began to make threatening gestures, when,
to the unmitigated astonishment of himself and the cap-
tain, the animal darted forward, and in one single bound
gained the summit of the rock.
Good heavens!" cried Ben Zoof, "that leap must
have been thirty feet at least."
"True enough," replied the captain ; "I never saw
such a jump."
Meantime the jackal had seated itself upon its
haunches, and was staring at the two men with an air
of impudent defiance. This was too much for Ben Zoofs
forbearance, and stooping down he caught up a huge
stone, when, to his surprise, he found that it was no heavier
than a piece of petrified sponge.
Confound the brute he exclaimed, I might as well
throw a piece of bread at him. What accounts for its
being as light as this ? "
Nothing daunted, however, he hurled the stone into the
air. It missed its aim; but the jackal, deeming it on the
whole prudent to decamp, disappeared across the trees and
hedges with a series of bounds, which could only be likened
to those that might be made by an india-rubber kangaroo.
Ben Zoof was sure that his own powers of propelling must
equal those of a howitzer, for his stone, after a lengthened
flight through the air, fell to the ground full five hundred
paces the other side of the rock.
The orderly was now some yards ahead of his master,
and had reached a ditch full of water, and about ten feet
wide. With the intention of clearing it, he made a spring,
when a loud cry burst from Servadac-
"Ben Zoof, you idiot! What are you about? You'll
break your back."
And well might he be alarmed, for Ben Zoof had
sprung to a height of forty feet into the air. Fearful of
the consequences that would attend the descent of his
servant to terra firma, Servadac bounded forwards, to be
on the other side of the ditch in time to break his fall. But
the muscular effort that he made carried him in his turn to
an altitude of thirty feet; in his ascent he passed Ben Zoof,
who had already commenced his downward course; and
Meantime the Jackal had seated itself upon its Haunches.
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 23
then, obedient to the laws of gravitation, he descended
with increasing rapidity, and alighted upon the earth with-
out experiencing a shock greater than if he had merely
made a bound of four or five feet high. Ben Zoof burst
into a roar of laughter.
Bravo! he said, "we should make a good pair of
But the captain was inclined to take a more serious
view of the matter. For a few seconds he stood lost in
thought, then, laying his hand upon the orderly's shoulder:
he said solemnly-
"Ben Zoof, I must be dreaming. Pinch me hard; I
must be either asleep or mad."
It is very certain that something has.happened to us,"
said Ben Zoof. I have occasionally dreamt that I was a
swallow flying over Montmirtre, but I never experienced
anything of this kind before; it must be peculiar to the
coast of Algeria."
Servadac was stupefied; he felt instinctively that he
was not dreaming, and yet was powerless to solve the
mystery. He was not, however, the man to puzzle himself
for long over any insoluble problem.
"Come what may," he presently exclaimed, we will
make up our minds for the future to be surprised at
Right, captain," replied Ben Zoof; "and, first of all,
let us settle our little score with Count Timascheff."
Beyond the ditch lay a small piece of meadow land,
about an acre in extent. A soft and delicious herbage
carpeted the soil, whilst trees of about fifty years' growtn-
evergreen oaks, palms, bread-fruits, sycamores, interspersed
with cactuses and aloes, and topped by two or three fine
specimens of the eucalyptus-formed a charming frame-
work to the whole. No spot could have been chosen more
suitable for the meeting between the two adversaries.
Servadac cast a hasty glance round the meadow. No
one was in sight.
We are the first on the field," he said.
"Not so sure of that, sir," said Ben Zoof.
"What do you mean ?" asked Servadac, looking at
his watch, which he had set as near as possible by the
sun before leaving the gourbi; it is not nine o'clock yet."
Look up there, sir. I am much mistaken if that is not
the sun;" and as Ben Zoof spoke, he Fponted directly over-
head to where a faint white disc was dimly visible through
the haze of clouds.
"Nonsense! exclaimed Servadac. How can the sun
be in the zenith in the month of January, in lat. 39 N. ?"
Can't say, sir. I only know the sun is there; and at
the rate he has been travelling, I would lay my cap to
a dish of cous-cous that in less than three hours he will
Hector Servadac, mute and motionless, stood with
folded arms. Presently he roused himself, and began to
examine the various quarters of the horizon.
"What means all this?" he murmured. "Laws of
gravity disturbed! Points of the compass reversed! The
length of day reduced one half! Surely this will indefi-
nitely postpone my meeting with the count. Something
has happened; Ben Zoof and I cannot both be mad!"
The orderly, meantime, surveyed his master with the
greatest equanimity; no phenomenon, however extraordi-
nary, would have drawn from him a single exclamation of
"Do you see any one, Ben Zoof ?" asked the captain,
"No one, sir; the count has evidently been and gone."
"But supposing that to be the case," persisted the
captain, "my seconds would have waited, and not seeing
me, would have come on towards the gourbi. I can only
conclude that they have been unable to get here; and as
for Count Timascheff-- "
Without finishing his sentence, Captain Servadac,
thinking it just probable that the count, as on the pre-
Cous-cous: an African dish composed of the flour of millet, with meat
and the bark of the adansonia.
In his Ascent he passed Ben Zoof, who had already commence hiis
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 25
vious evening, might come by water, walked to the ridge
of rock that overhung the shore, in order to ascertain
if the Dobryna were anywhere in sight. But the sea was
deserted, and for the first time the captain noticed that,
although the wind was calm, the waters were unusually
agitated, and seethed and foamed as though they were
boiling. It was very certain that the yacht would have
found a difficulty in holding her own in such a swell.
Another thing that now struck Servadac was the extra-
ordinary contraction of the horizon. Under ordinary cir-
cumstances, his elevated position would have allowed him
a radius of vision at least five and twenty miles in length;
but the terrestrial sphere seemed, in the course of the last
few hours, to have become considerably reduced in volume,
and he could now see for a distance of only six miles in
Meantime, with the agility of a monkey, Ben Zoof had
clambered to the top of a eucalyptus, and from his lofty
perch was surveying the country to the south, as well as
towards both Tenes and Mostaganem. On descending, he
informed the captain that the plain was entirely deserted.
We will make our way to the river, and get over into
Mostaganem," said the captain.
The Shelif was not more than 'a mile and a half from
the meadow, but no time was to be lost if the two men
were to reach the town before nightfall. Though still
hidden by heavy clouds, the sun was evidently declining
fast; and,what was equally inexplicable, it was not follow-
ing the oblique curve that in these latitudes and at this
time of year might be expected, but was sinking perpen-
dicularly on to the horizon.
As he went along, Captain Servadac pondered deeply.
Perchance some unheard-of phenomenon had modified
the rotatory motion of the globe; or perhaps the Algerian
coast had been transported beyond the equator into the
southern hemisphere. Yet the earth (with the exception
of the alteration in its convexity), in this part of Africa at
least, seemed to have undergone no change of any very great
26 HECTOR SERVADAC.
importance. As far as the eye could reach, the shore was,
as it had ever been, a succession of cliffs, beach, and arid
rocks, tinged with a red ferruginous hue. To the south-
if south, in this inverted order of things, it might still be
called-the face of the country also appeared unaltered,
and, three leagues away, the peaks of the Merdeyah moun-
tains still retained their accustomed outline.
Presently a rift in the clouds gave passage to an ob-
lique ray of light that clearly proved that the sun was
setting in the east.
"Well, I am curious to know what they think of all
this at Mostaganem," said the captain. "I wonder, too,
what the Minister of War will say when he receives a
telegram informing him that his African colony has
become, not morally, but physically disorganized; that
the cardinal points are at variance with ordinary rules,
and that the sun in the month of January is shining down
vertically upon our heads."
Ben Zoof, whose ideas of discipline were extremely
rigid, at once suggested that the colony should be put
under the surveillance of the police, that the cardinal
points should be placed under restraint, and that the sun
should be shot for breach of discipline.
Meantime, they were both advancing with the utmost
speed. The decompression of the atmosphere made the
specific gravity of their bodies extraordinarily light, and
they ran like hares and leaped like chamois. Leaving the
devious windings of the footpath, they went as a crow
would fly, or as the Americans would say, "took a bee's
flight" across the country. Hedges, trees, and streams
were cleared at a bound, and under these conditions Ben
Zoof felt that he could have overstepped Montmartre at
a single stride. The earth seemed as elastic as the spring-
board of an acrobat ; they scarcely touched it with their
feet, and their only fear was lest the height to which they
were propelled would consume the time which they were
saving by their short cut across the fields.
It was not long before their wild career brought them
But the River-bank had now become the Shore of an Unknown Sea.
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 27
to the right bank of the Shelif. Here they were compelled
to stop, for not only had the bridge completely disap-
peared, but the river itself no longer existed. Of the left
bank there was not the slightest trace, and the right bank,
which on the previous evening had bounded the yellow
stream, as it murmured peacefully along the fertile plain,
had now become the shore of a tumultuous ocean, its azure
waters extending westwards far as the eye could reach,
and annihilating the tract of country which had hitherto
formed the district of Mostaganem. The shore coincided
exactly with what had been the right bank of the Shelif,
and in a slightly curved line ran north and south. The
catastrophe of which this part of Africa had been the scene
had evidently had no effect in altering its configuration,
which was still precisely identical with that laid down by
the latest hydrographical survey, whilst the adjacent groves
and meadows all retained their previous positions. But
the river-bank had now become the shore of an unknown
Eager to throw some light upon the mystery, Servadac
hurriedly made his way through the oleander bushes that
overhung the shore, took up some water in the hollow uf
his hand, and carried it to his lips.
"Salt as brine!" he exclaimed,- as soon as he had
tasted it. The sea has undoubtedly swallowed up all the
western part of Algeria."
It will not last long, sir," said Ben Zoof. "It is,
probably, only a severe flood."
The captain shook his head.
"Worse than that, I fear, Ben Zoof," he replied with
emotion. "It is a catastrophe that cannot fail to be
attended with very serious consequences. What can have
become of all my friends and fellow-officers ? "
Ben Zoof was silent. Rarely had he seen his master
so much agitated; and though himself inclined to receive
these phenomena with philosophic indifference, his notions
of military duty caused his countenance to reflect the
iptain's expression of amazement.
28 HECTOR SERVADAC.
But there was little time for Servadac to examine the
changes which a few hours had wrought. The sun had
already reached the eastern horizon, and just as though
it were crossing the ecliptic under the tropics, it sank
like a cannon-ball into the sea. Without any warning,
day had rapidly given place to night, and earth, sea, and
sky were immediately wrapped in profound obscurity.
( 29 )
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION.
HECTOR SERVADAC was not the man to remain long
unnerved by any untoward event. It was part of his
character to discover the why and the wherefore of every-
thing that came under his observation, and he would have
faced a cannon-ball the more unflinchingly from under-
standing the dynamic force by which it was propelled.
Such being his temperament, it may well be imagined that
he was anxious not to remain long in ignorance of the
cause of the phenomena which had been so startling in
"We must inquire into this to-morrow," he exclaimed,
as darkness fell suddenly upon him. Then, after a-pause,
he added : That is to say, if there is to be a to-morrow ;
for if I were to be put to the torture, I could not tell
what has become of the sun."
May I ask, sir, what we are to do now?" put in Ben
"Stay where we are for the present; and when day-
light appears-if'it ever does appear-we will explore the
coast to the west and south, and return to the gourbi. If
we can find out nothing else, we must at least discover
where we are."
Meanwhile, sir, may we go to sleep ?"
Certainly, if you like, and if you can."
Nothing loath to avail himself of his master's permis-
30 HECTOR SERVADAC.
sion, Ben Zoof crouched down in an angle of the shore,
threw his arms over his eyes, anJ very soon slept the sleep
of the ignorant, which is often sounder than the sleep of
Overwhelmed by the questions that crowded upon his
brain, Captain Servadac could only wander up and down
the shore. Again and again he asked himself what the
catastrophe could portend. Had it affected only a small
portion of the continent, and had the towns of Algiers,
Oran, and Mostaganem escaped the inundation ? Could
he bring himself to believe that all the inhabitants, his
friends, and comrades had perished; or was it not more
probable that the Mediterranean had merely invaded the
region of the mouth of the Shelif? But this supposition,
although it might to some extent account for the disap-
pearance of the river, did not in the least explain the other
physical disturbances. Another hypothesis that presented
itself to his mind was that the African coast might have
been suddenly transported to the equatorial zone. But
although this might get over the difficulty of the altered
altitude of the sun and the absence of twilight, yet it
would neither account for the sun setting in the east, nor
for the length of the day being reduced from twelve hours
"We must wait till to-morrow," he repeated ; adding,
for he had become distrustful of the future, that is to say,
if to-morrow ever comes."
Although not. very learned in astronomy, Servadac
was acquainted with the position of the principal constella-
tions. It was therefore a considerable disappointment to
him that, in consequence of the heavy clouds, not a star
was visible in the firmament. To have ascertained that
the pole-star had become displaced would have been an
undeniable proof that the earth was revolving on a new
axis; but not a rift appeared in the lowering clouds, which
seemed to threaten torrents of rain.
It happened that the moon was new on that very day;
naturally, therefore, it would have set at the same time as
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION. 31
the sun. What, then, was the captain's bewilderment
when, after he had been walking for about an hour and a
half, he noticed on the western horizon a strong glare that
penetrated even the masses of the clouds.
The moon in the west!" he cried aloud; but suddenly
bethinking himself, he added. But no, that cannot be the
moon; unless she had shifted very much nearer the earth,
she could never give a light as intense as this."
And as he spoke the screen of vapour was illuminated
to such a degree that the whole country was as it were
bathed in twilight.
"What can this be?" soliloquized the captain. "It
cannot be the sun, for the sun set in the east only an hour
and a half ago. Would that those clouds would disclose
what enormous luminary lies behind them! What a fool
I was not to have learnt more astronomy! Perhaps, after
all, I am racking my brain over something that is quite in
the ordinary course of nature."
But, reason as he might, the mysteries of the heavens
still remained impenetrable. For about an hour some
luminous body, its disc evidently of gigantic dimensions,
shed its rays upon the upper strata of the clouds; then,
marvellous to relate, instead of obeying the ordinary laws
of celestial mechanism, and descending upon the opposite
horizon, it seemed to rise in a line perpendicular to the
plane of the equator, and vanished.
The darkness that returned to the face of the earth was
not more profound than the gloom which fell upon the
captain's soul. Everything was incomprehensible. The
simplest mechanical rules seemed falsified ; the planets had
defied the laws of gravitation ; the motions of the celestial
spheres were erroneous as those of a watch with a defective
mainspring, and there was only too much reason to fear
that the sun would never again shed his radiance upon the
But the captain's fears were groundless. In three hours'
time, without any intervening twilight, the morning sun
made its appearance in the west, and day once more had
dawned. On consulting his watch, Servadac found that
night had lasted precisely six hours. Ben Zoof, who was
unaccustomed to so brief a period or repose, was still
Come, wake up !" said Servadac, shaking him by the
shoulder ; it is time to start."
Time to start ?" exclaimed Ben Zoof, rubbing his eyes.
"I feel as if I had only just gone to sleep."
You have slept all night, at any rate," replied the
captain; "it has only been for six hours, but you must
make it enough."
"Enough it shall be, sir," was the submissive rejoinder.
"And now," continued Servadac, "we will take the
shortest way back to the gourbi, and see what our horses
think about it all."
They will think that they ought to be groomed," said
"Very good; you may groom them and saddle them as
quickly as you like. I want to know what has become of
the rest of Algeria : if we cannot get round by the south
to Mostaganem, we must go eastwards to Tenes."
And forthwith they started. Beginning to feel hungry,
they had no hesitation in gathering figs, dates, and oranges
from the plantations that formed a continuous rich and
luxuriant orchard along their path. The district was quite
deserted, and they had no reason to fear any legal penalty
for their depredations.
In an hour and a half they reached the gourbi. Every-
thing was just as they had left it. and it was evident that
no one had visited the place during their absence. All
was desolate as the shore they had quitted.
The preparations for the expedition were brief and
simple. Ben Zoof saddled the horses and filled his pouch
with biscuits and game; water, he felt certain, could be
obtained in abundance from the numerous affluents of the
Shelif, which, although they had now become tributaries
of the Mediterranean, still meandered through the plain.
Captain Servadac mounted his horse Zephyr, and Ben Zoof
" Come, wake up "
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION. 33
simultaneously got astride his mare Galette, named after
the mill of Montmartre. They galloped off in the direc-
tion of the Shelif, and were not long in discovering that the
diminution in the pressure of the atmosphere had precisely
the same effect upon their horses as it had had upon
themselves. Their muscular strength seemed five times as
great as hitherto ; their hoofs scarcely touched the ground,
and they seemed transformed from ordinary quadrupeds
into veritable hippogriffs. Happily, Servadac and his
orderly were fearless riders; they made no attempt to
curb their steeds, but even urged them to still greater
exertions. Twenty minutes sufficed to carry them over
the four or five miles that intervened between the gourbi
and the mouth of the Shelif; then, slackening their speed,
they proceeded at a more leisurely pace to the south-east,
along what had once been the right bank of the river, but
which, although it still retained its former characteristics,
was now the boundary of a sea, which extending farther
than the limits of the horizon, must have swallowed up at
least a large portion of the province of Oran. Captain Ser-
vadac knew the country well; he had at one time been
engaged upon a trigonometrical survey of the district, and
consequently had an accurate knowledge of its topography.
His idea now was to draw up a report of his ihvesti-
gations: to whom that report should be delivered was a
problem he had yet to solve.
During the four hours of daylight that still remained,
the travellers rode about twenty-one miles from the river
mouth. To their vast surprise, they did not meet a single
human being. At nightfall they again encamped in a
slight bend of the shore, at a point which on the previous
evening had faced the mouth of the Mina, one of the left-
hand affluents of the Shelif, but now absorbed into the
newly revealed ocean. Ben Zoof made the sleeping
accommodation as comfortable as the circumstances would
allow; the horses were clogged and turned out to feed
upon the rich pasture that clothed the shore, and the night
passed without special incident.
34 HECTOR SERVADAC.
At sunrise on the following morning, the 2nd ot
January, or what, according to the ordinary calendar,
would have been the night of the Ist, the captain and his
orderly remounted their horses, and during the six-hours'
day accomplished a distance of forty-two miles. The
right bank of the river still continued to be the margin of
the land, and only in one spot had its integrity been
impaired. This was about twelve miles from the Mina,
and on the site of the annex or suburb of Surkelmittoo.
Here a large portion of the bank had been swept away,
and the hamlet, with its eight hundred inhabitants, had no
doubt been swallowed up by the encroaching waters. It
seemed, therefore, more than probable that a similar fate
had overtaken the larger towns beyond the Shelif, and
that Mazagran, Mostaganem, and Orleansville had all been
annihilated. After skirting the small bay thus formed by
the rupture of the shore, Captain Servadac found himself
again upon the river bank, exactly opposite the site once
occupied by the mixed community of Ammi-Moossa, the
ancient Khamis of Beni-Ooragh; but not a vestige of the
place remained. Even the Mankara Peak, below which it
had been built, and which was more than three thousand
feet in height, had totally disappeared.
In the evening the explorers encamped, as previously,
in a nook of the shore which here abruptly terminated their
new domain, not far from where they might have expected
to find the important village of Memounturroy; but of
this, too, there was now no trace.
"I had quite reckoned upon a supper and a bed at
Orleansville to-night," said Servadac, as, full of despond.
ency, he surveyed the drear waste of water.
"Quite impossible," replied Ben Zoof, except you
had gone by a boat. But cheer up, sir, cheer up; we will
soon devise some means for getting across to Mostaganem."
"If, as I hope," rejoined the captain, "we are on a
peninsula, we are more likely to get to Tenes; there we
shall hear the news."
"Far more likely to carry the news ourselves,"
They seemed transformed from Ordinary Quadrupeds into Veritable
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION. 35
answered Ben Zoof, as he threw himself down for his
Six hours later, only waiting for sunrise, Captain
Servadac set himself in movement again to renew his
investigations. At the spot last chosen for encampment,
the shore, that hitherto had been running in a south-
easterly direction, turned abruptly to the north, being no
longer formed by the natural bank of the Shelif, but con-
sisting of an absolutely new coast-line. No land was in
sight. Nothing could be seen of Orleansville, which ought
to have been about six miles to the south-west; and Ben
Zoof, who had mounted the highest point of view attain-
able, could distinguish sea, and nothing but sea, to the
Quitting their encampment and riding on, the be-
wildered explorers kept close to the new shore. This,
since it had ceased to be formed by the original river-bank,
had considerably altered its aspect. Frequent landslips
occurred, and in many places deep chasms rifted the
ground; great gaps furrowed the fields, and trees, half
uprooted, overhung the water-some old olives being
especially remarkable by the fantastic distortions of their
gnarled trunks, looking as though they had been chopped
by a hatchet.
The sinuosities of the coast-line, alternately gully and
headland, had the effect of making a devious progress for
the travellers, and at sunset, although they had accom-
plished more than twenty miles, they had only just arrived
at the foot of the Merdeyah Mountains, which, before the
cataclysm, had formed the extremity of the chain of the
Little Atlas. The ridge, however, had been violently
ruptured, and now rose perpendicularly from the water.
On the following morning Servadac and Ben Zoof
traversed one of the mountain gorges; and next, in order
to make a more thorough acquaintance with the limits and
condition of the section of Algerian territory of which
they seemed to be left as the sole occupants, they dis-
mounted, and proceeded on foot to the summit of one of
36 HECTOR SERVADAC.
the highest peaks. From this elevation they ascertained
that from the base of the Merdeyah to the Mediterranean,
a distance of about eighteen miles, a new coast-line had
come into existence; no land was visible in any direction;
no isthmus existed to form a connecting link with the
territory of Tenes, which had entirely disappeared. The
result was that Captain Servadac was driven to the irre-
sistible conclusion that the tract of land which he had
been, surveying was not, as he had at first imagined, a
peninsula; it was actually an island.
Strictly speaking, this island was quadrilateral, but the
sides were so irregular that it was much more nearly a
triangle, the comparison of the sides exhibiting these pro-
portions:-The section of the right bank of the Shelif,
seventy-two miles; the northern boundary from the Shelif
to the chain of the Little Atlas, twenty-one miles ; from
the Little Atlas to the shore of the Mediterranean, eighteen
miles; and sixty miles of the shore of the Mediterranean
itself, making in all an entire circumference of about 171
"What does it all mean ?" exclaimed the captain, every
hour growing more and more bewildered.
"The will of Providence, and we must submit," replied
Ben Zoof, calm and undisturbed.
With this reflection, the two men silently descended the
mountain and remounted their horses, which had been
grazing quietly on the luxuriant herbage.
Before evening the wayfarers had reached the Mediter-
ranean. On their road they failed to discern a vestige of
the little town of Montenotte ; like Tenes (of which not
so much as a ruined cottage was visible on the horizon), it
seemed to be annihilated.
On the following day, the 6th of January, the two
men made a forced march along the coast of the Mediter-
ranean, which they found in some degree less altered
than the captain had at first supposed ; but four villages,
Callaat-Chimah, Agniss, Marabout, and Pointe-Basse, had
entirely disappeared, and the headlands, unable to resist
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION. 37
the shock of the convulsion, had been detached from the
The circuit of the island had been now completed, and
the explorers, after a period of sixty hours, found them-
selves once more beside the ruins of their gourbi. Five
days, or what, according to the established order of things,
would have been two days and a half, had been occupied
in tracing the boundaries of their new domain; and
although not the only living occupants, inasmuch as herds
of cattle had been seen, they had ascertained beyond a
doubt that they were the sole human inhabitants left upon
"Well, sir, here you are, Governor-General of Algeria!"
exclaimed Ben Zoof, as they reached the gourbi.
"With not a soul to govern," gloomily rejoined the
How so? Do you not reckon me?"
"Pshaw Ben Zoof, what are you ? "
"What am I ? Why, I am the population."
The captain deigned no reply, but, muttering some
expressions of regret for the fruitless trouble he had taken
about his rondo, betook himself to rest.
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN.
IN a few minutes the governor-general and his population
were asleep. The gourbi being in ruins, they were obliged
to put up with the best accommodation they could find in
the adjacent erection. It must be owned that the captain's
slumbers were by no means sound ; he was agitated by
the consciousness that he had hitherto been unable to
account for his strange experiences by any reasonable
theory. Though far from being advanced in the know-
ledge of natural philosophy, he had been instructed, to a
certain degree, in its elementary principles; and, by an
effort of memory, he managed to recall some general laws
which he had almost forgotten. He could understand
that an altered inclination of the earth's axis with regard
to the ecliptic would introduce a change of position in the
cardinal points, and bring about a displacement of the sea ;
but the hypothesis entirely failed to account, either for
the shortening of the days, or for the diminution, in the
pressure of the atmosphere. He felt that his judgment
was utterly baffled; his only remaining hope was that the
chain of rharvels was not yet complete, and that something
farther might occur Which would throw some light upon
Ben Zoof's first care on the following morning was to
provide a good breakfast. To use his own phrase, he
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN. 39
was as hungry as the whole population of three million
Algerians, of whom he was the representative, and he
must have enough to eat. The catastrophe which had
overwhelmed the country had left a dozen eggs uninjured,
and upon these, with a good dish of his famous couscous,
he hoped that he and his master might have a sufficiently
substantial meal. The stove was ready for use, the copper
skillet was as bright as hands could make it, and the beads
of condensed steam upon the surface of a large stone
alcaraza gave evidence that it was supplied with water.
Ben Zoof at. once proceeded to light a fire, singing all the
time, according to his wont, a snatch of an old military
Veal! veal! is there any veal,
Enough to make a stew ?
Salt salt is there any salt,
To season what we do ?"
Ever on the look-out for fresh phenomena, Captain
Servadac watched the preparations with a curious eye.
It struck him that perhaps thr air, in its strangely modified
condition, would fail to supply sufficient oxygen, and that
the stove, in consequence, might not fulfil its function.
But no ; the fire was lighted just as usual, and fanned into
vigour by Ben Zoof applying his mouth in lieu of bellows,
and a bright flame started up from the midst of the twigs
and coal. The skillet was duly set upon the stove, and
Ben Zoof was prepared to 'wait awhile for the water to
boil. Taking up the eggs, he was surprised to notice that
they hardly weighed more than they would if they had
been mere shells; but he was still more surprised when he
saw that before the water had been two minutes over the
fire it was at full boil.
"By jingo!" he exclaimed, "this is a precious hot
Servadac reflected. In a few moments he said-
"It cannot be that the fire is hotter; the peculiarity
must be in the water:"
And taking down a centigrade thermometer, which he
40 HECTOR SERVADAC.
had hung upon the wall, he plunged it into the skillet.
Instead of ioo0, he found that the instrument registered
"Take my advice, Ben Zoof," he said: "leave your
eggs in the saucepan a good quarter of an hour."
Boil them hard That will never do," objected the
You will not find them hard, my good fellow. Trust
me, we shall be able to dip our sippets into the yolks
The captain was quite right in his conjecture, that this
new phenomenon was caused by a diminution in the pres-
sure of the atmosphere. Water boiling at a temperature
of 66 was itself an evidence that the column of air above
the earth's surface had become reduced by one-third of its
altitude. The identical phenomenon would have occurred
at the summit of a mountain 35,000 feet high; and had
Servadac been in possession of a barometer, he would have
immediately discovered the fact that only now for the first
time, as the result of experiment, revealed itself to him-
a fact, moreover, which accounted for the compression of
the blood-vessels which both he and Ben Zoof had expe-
rienced, as well as for the attenuation of their voices and
their accelerated breathing.
"And yet," he argued with himself, "if our encamp-
ment has been projected to so great an elevation, how is
it that the sea remains at its proper level ?"
Once again Hector Servadac, though capable of tracing
consequences, felt himself totally at a loss to comprehend
their cause; hence his agitation and bewilderment Inde
After their prolonged immersion in the boiling water,
the eggs were found to be only just sufficiently cooked;
the couscous was very much in the same condition; and
Ben Zoof came to the conclusion that in future he must
be careful to commence his culinary operations an hour
earlier than he had been accustomed. He was rejoiced
at last to help his master, who, in spite of his perplexed
Instead of 1oo0, the Instrument registered only 66.
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN. 41
pre-occupation, seemed to have a very fair appetite for
"Well, captain ?" said Ben Zoof presently, such being
his ordinary way of opening conversation.
"Well, Ben Zoof?" was the captain's invariable response
to his servant's formula.
"What are we to do now, sir ?"
"We can only for the present wait patiently where we
are. We are encamped upon an island, and therefore we
can only be rescued by sea."
But do you suppose that any of our friends are still
alive ?" asked Ben Zoof.
"Oh, I think we must indulge the hope that this
catastrophe has not extended far. We must trust that
it has limited its mischief to some small portion of the
Algerian coast, and that our friends are all alive and well.
No doubt the governor-general will be anxious to inves-
tigate the full extent of the damage that has been done,
and will send a vessel from Algiers to explore. It is not
likely that we shall be forgotten. What, then, you have
to do, Ben Zoof, is to keep a sharp look-out, and to be
ready, in case a vessel should appear, to make signals at
But if no vessel should appear !" sighed the orderly.
"Then we must build a boat, and go in search of those
who do not come in search of us."
"Very good, captain. But what sort of a sailor are
"Every one can be a sailor when he must," said Servadac
Ben Zoof said no more. For several succeeding days
he scanned the horizon unintermittently with his tele-
scope. His watching was all in vain. No ship appeared
upon the desert sea.
By the name of a Kabyle he broke out impatiently,
"his Excellency is grossly negligent! "
Although the days and nights had become reduced
from twenty-four hours to twelve, Captain Servadac would
not accept the new condition of things, but resolved to
adhere to the computations of the old calendar. Notwith-
standing, therefore, that the sun had risen and set twelve
times since the commencement of the new year, he per-
sisted in calling the following day the 6th of January.
His watch enabled him to keep an accurate account of
the passing hours. On a pendulum clock, the diminution
of atmospheric pressure would no doubt have caused a
large disturbance; but the spring of a good watch would
be insensibly affected by the change of condition, and,
once regulated to the new physical status, might be ex-
pected to act with fair precision.
In the course of his life, Ben Zoof had read a few
books. After sitting pondering one day, he said-
It seems to me, captain, that you have turned into
Robinson Crusoe, and that I am your man Friday. I hope
I have not become a nigger."
No," replied the captain. "Your complexion isn't the
fairest in the world, but you are not a nigger yet."
"Well, I had much sooner be a white Friday than a
black one," rejoined Ben Zoof.
Still no ship appeared ; and Captain Servadac, after
the example of all previous Crusoes, began to consider
it advisable to investigate the resources of his domain.
The new territory of which he had become the monarch
he named Gourbi Island. It had a superficial area of
about nine hundred square miles. Bullocks, cows, goats,
and sheep existed in considerable numbers; and as there
seemed already to be an abundance of game, it was hardly
likely that a future supply would fail them. The condition
of the cereals was such as to promise a fine ingathering of
wheat, maize, and rice; so that for the governor and his
population, with their two horses, not only was there ample
provision, but even if other human inhabitants besides
themselves should yet be discovered, there was not the
remotest prospect of any of them perishing by starvation.
From the 6th to the 13th of January the rain came
down in torrents; and, what was quite an unusual occur-
His watching was all in vain.
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN. 43
rence at this season of the year, several heavy storms
broke over the island. In spite, however, of the continual
downfall, the heavens still remained veiled in cloud.
Servadac, moreover, did not fail to observe that for the
season the temperature was unusually high; and, as a
matter still more surprising, that it kept steadily increas-
ing, as though the earth were gradually an continuously
approximating to the sun. In proportion to the rise of
temperature, the light also assumed greater intensity; and
if it had not been for the screen of vapour interposed
between the sky and the island, the irradiation which
would have illumined all terrestrial objects would have
been vivid beyond all precedent.
But neither sun, moon, nor star ever appeared; and
Servadac's irritation and annoyance at being unable to
identify any one point of the firmament may be more
readily imagined than described. On one occasion Ben
Zoof endeavoured to mitigate his master's impatience by
exhorting him to assume the resignation, even if he did
not feel the indifference, which he himself experienced;
but his advice was received with so angry a rebuff that
he retired in all haste, abashed, to resume his watchman's
duty, which he performed with, exemplary perseverance.
Day and night, with the shortest possible intervals of rest,
despite wind, rain, and storm, he mounted guard upon
the cliff-but all in vain. Not a speck appeared upon the
desolate horizon. To say the truth, no vessel could have
stood against the weather. The hurricane raged with
tremendous fury, and the waves rose to a height that
seemed to defy calculation. Never, even in the second
era of creation, when, under the influence of internal heat,
the waters rose in vapour to descend in deluge back upon
the world, could meteorological phenomena have beer
developed with more impressive intensity.
But by the night of the 13th the tempest appeared to
have spent its fury; the wind dropped; the rain ceased as
if by a spell ; and Servadac, who for the last six days had
confined himself to the shelter of his roof, hastened to joirr
44 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Ben Zoof at his post upon the cliff. Now, he thought, there
might be a chance of solving his perplexity; perhaps now
the huge disc, of which he had had an imperfect glimpse
on the night of the 3 st of December, might again reveal
itself; at any rate, he hoped for an opportunity of observ-
ing the constellations in a clear firmament above.
The night was magnificent. Not a cloud dimmed the
lustre of the stars, which spangled the heavens in surpassing
brilliancy, and several nebule which hitherto no astronomer
had been able to discern without the aid of a telescope
were clearly visible to the naked eye.
By a natural impulse, Servadac's first thought was to
observe the position of the pole-star. It was in sight, but
so near to the horizon as to suggest the utter impossibility
of its being any longer the central pivot of the siderial
system; it occupied a position through which it was out of
the question that the axis of the earth indefinitely pro-
longed could ever pass. In his impression he was more
thoroughly confirmed when, an hour later, he noticed that
the star had sensibly approached still nearer the horizon,
as though it had belonged to one of the zodiacal constella-
The pole-star being manifestly thus displaced, it
remained to be discovered whether any other of the
celestial bodies had become a fixed centre around which
the constellations made their apparent daily revolutions.
To the solution of this problem Servadac applied himself
with the most thoughtful diligence. After patient obser.
ovation, he satisfied himself that the required conditions
were answered by a certain star that was stationary not far
from the horizon. This was Vega, in the constellation
Lyra, a star which, according to the precession of the equi-
noxes, will take the place of our pole-star 12,00ooo years
hence. The most daring imagination could not suppose
that a period of 12,ooo years had been crowded into the
space of a fortnight; and therefore the captain came, as to
an easier conclusion, to the opinion that the earth's axis
had been suddenly and immensely shifted ; and from the
"It is not the Moon."
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN. 45
fact that the axis, if produced, would pass through a point
so little removed above the horizon, he deduced the in-
ference that the Mediterranean must have been transported
to the Equator.
Lost in bewildering maze of thought, he gazed long and
intently upon the heavens. His eyes wandered from where
the tail of the Great Bear, now a zodiacal constellation,
was scarcely visible above the waters, to where the stars of
the southern hemisphere were just breaking on his view.
A cry from Ben Zoof recalled him to himself.
The moon!" shouted the orderly, as though overjoyed
at once again beholding what the poet has called-
The kind companion of terrestrial night;"
and he pointed to a disc that was rising at a spot precisely
opposite the place where they would have expected to see
The moon !" again he cried.
But Captain Servadac could not altogether enter into
his servant's enthusiasm. If this were actually the moon,
her distance from the earth must -have been increased by
some millions of miles. He was rather disposed to suspect
that it was not the earth's satellite at all, but some planet
with its apparent magnitude greatly enlarged by its ap-
proximation to the earth. Taking up the powerful field-
glass which he was accustomed to use in his surveying
operations, he proceeded to investigate more carefully the
character of the luminous orb. But he failed to trace any
of the lineaments, supposed to resemble a human face, that
mark the lunar surface; he failed to decipher any indica-
tions of hill and plain ; nor could he make out the aureole
of light which emanates from what astronomers have
designated Mount Tycho.
It is not the moon," he said, slowly.
"Not the moon ?" cried Ben Zoof. "Why not ?"
"It is not the moon," again affirmed the captain. *
"Why not ?" repeated Ben Zoof, unwilling to renounce
his first impression.
46 HECTOR SERVADAC.
"Because there is a small satellite in attendance."
And the captain drew his servant's attention to a bright
speck (apparently about the size of one of Jupiter's
satellites seen through a moderate telescope) that was
dearly visible just within the focus of his glass.
Here, then, was a fresh mystery. The orbit of the
planet was assuredly interior to the orbit of the earth,
because it accompanied the sun in its apparent motion ;
yet it was neither Mercury nor Venus, because neither one
nor the other of these has any satellite at alL
The captain stamped and stamped again with mingled
vexation, agitation, and bewilderment.
Confound it!" he cried, "if this is neither Venus nor
Mercury, it must be the moon; but if it is the moon,
whence, in the name of all the gods, has she picked up
another moon for herself?"
The captain was in dire perplexity,
( 47 )
VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY.
THE light of the returning sun soon extinguished the glory
of the stars, and rendered it necessary for the captain to
postpone his observations until future cloudless nights.
He had sought in vain for further trace of the huge disc
that had so excited his wonder on the Ist, and it seemed
most probable that, in its irregular orbit, it had been carried
beyond the range of vision.
The weather was still superb. The wind, after veering
to the west, had sunk to a perfect calm. Pursuing its
inverted course, the sun rose and set with undeviating
regularity; and the days and nights were still divided into
periods of precisely six hours each-a sure'proof that the
sun remained close to the new equator which manifestly
passed through Gourbi Island.
Meanwhile the temperature was steadily increasing.
The captain kept his thermometer close at hand where he
could repeatedly consult it, and on the 15th he found that
it registered 50 centigrade in he shade.
No attempt had been made to rebuild the gourbi, but
the captain and Ben Zoof managed to make up quarters
sufficiently comfortable in the principal apartment of the
adjoining structure, where the stone walls, that at first
afforded a refuge from the torrents of rain, now formed an
equally acceptable shelter from the burning sun. The heat
was becoming insufferable, surpassing the heat of Senegal
48 SECTOR SERVADAC.
and other equatorial regions; not a cloud ever tempered
the intensity of the solar rays; and unless some modification
ensued, it seemed inevitable that all vegetation should
become scorched and burnt off from the face of the island.
- -hi spite, however, of the profuse perspirations from
which he suffered, Ben Zoof, constant to his principles,
expressed no surprise at the unwonted heat. No remon-
strances from his master could induce him to abandon
his watch from the cliff. To withstand the vertical beams
of that noontide sun would seem to require a skin of brass
and a brain of adamant; but yet, hour after hour, he
would remain conscientiously scanning the surface of the
Mediterranean, which, calm and deserted, lay outstretched
before him. On one occasion Servadac, in reference to
his orderly's indomitable perseverance, happened to remark
that he thought he must have been born on the banks of
the Gaboon, in the heart of equatorial Africa; to which
g~en Zoof replied, with the utmost dignity, that he was
born at Montmartre, which was all the same. The worthy
fellow was unwilling to own that, even in the matter of
heat, the tropics could in any way surpass his own much-
This unprecedented temperature very soon began to
take effect upon the products of the soil. The sap rose
rapidly in the trees, so that in the course of a few days
buds, leaves, flowers, and fruit had come to full maturity.
It was the same with the cereals: wheat and maize
sprouted and ripened as if by magic, and for a while a
rank and luxuriant pasturage clothed the meadows.
Summer and autumn seemed blended into one. If
Captain Servadac had been more deeply versed in astro-
nomy, he would perhaps have been able to bring to bear
his knowledge that if the axis of the earth, as everything
seemed to indicate, now formed a right angle with the
lane of the ecliptic, her various seasons, like those of the
!)lanet Jupiter, would become limited to certain zones, in
which they would remain invariable. But even if he had
understood the rationale of the change, the convulsion
Meanwhile Servadac was doing his utmost to recall the Lessons of his
VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY. 49
that had brought it about would have been as much a
mystery as ever.
The precocity of vegetation caused some embarrass-
ment. The time for the corn and fruit harvest had fallen
simultaneously with that of the hay-making; and as the
extreme heat precluded any prolonged exertions, it was
evident the population of the island would find it diffi-
cult to provide the necessary amount of labour. Not that
the prospect gave them much concern: the provisions
of the gourbi were still far from exhausted, and now that
the roughness of the weather had so happily subsided,
they had every encouragement to hope that a ship of some
sort would soon appear. Not only was that part of the
Mediterranean systematically frequented by the govern-
ment steamers that watched the coast, but vessels of all
nations were constantly cruising off the shore.
In spite, however, of all their sanguine speculations, no
ship appeared. Ben Zoof admitted the necessity of ex-
temporizing a kind of parasol for himself, otherwise he
must literally have been roasted to death upon the exposed
summit of the cliff.
Meanwhile, Servadac was doing his utmost-it must
be acknowledged, with indifferent success-to recall the
lessons of his school-days. He would plunge into the
wildest speculations in his endeavours to unravel the diffi-
culties of the new situation, and struggled into a kind of
conviction that if there had been a change of manner in
the earth's rotation on her axis, there would be a corre-
sponding change in her revolution round the sun, which
would involve the consequence of the length of the year
being either diminished or increased.
Independently of the increased and increasing heat,
there was another very conclusive demonstration that the
earth had thus suddenly approximated towards the sun.
The diameter of the solar disc-was now exactly twice what
it ordinarily looks to the naked eye; in fact, it was pre-
cisely such as it would appear to an observer on the surface
of the planet Venus. The most obvious inference would
50 HECTOR SERVADAC.
therefore be that the earth's distance from the sun had
been diminished from 91,ooo,ooo to 65,ooo,ooo miles. If
the just equilibrium of the earth had thus been destroyed,
and should this diminution of distance still continue, would
there not be reason to fear that the terrestrial world would
be carried onwards to actual contact with the sun, which
must result in its total annihilation ?
The continuance of the splendid .weather afforded
Servadac every facility for observing the heavens. Night
after night, constellations in their beauty lay stretched
before his eyes-an alphabet which, to his mortification,
not to say his rage, he was unable to decipher. In the
apparent dimensions of the fixed stars, in their distance,
in their relative position with regard to each other, he could
observe no change. Although it is established that our
sun is approaching the constellation of Hercules at the
rate of more than 126,000,000 miles a year, and although
Arcturus is travelling through space at the rate of fifty-four
miles a second-three times faster than the earth goes
round the sun,-yet such is the remoteness of those stars
that no appreciable change is evident to the senses. The
fixed stars taught him nothing.
Far otherwise was it with the planets. The orbits of
Venus and Mercury are within the orbit of the earth,
Venus rotating at an average distance of 66,130,000 miles
from the sun, and Mercury at that of 35,393,000. After
pondering long, and as profoundly as he could, upon these
figures, Captain Servadac came to the conclusion that, as
the earth was now receiving about double the amount of
light and heat that it had been receiving before the cata-
strophe, it was receiving about the same as the planet
Venus; he was driven, therefore, to the estimate of the
measure in which the earth must have approximated to
the sun, a deduction in which he was confirmed when the
opportunity came for him to observe Venus herself in the
splendid proportions that she now assumed.
That magnificent planet which-as Phosphorus or Luci-
fer, Hesperus or Vesper, the evening star, the morning
VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY.
star, or the shepherd's star-has never failed to attract the
rapturous admiration of the most indifferent observers,
here revealed herself with unprecedented glory, exhibiting
all the phases of a lustrous moon in miniature. Various
indentations in the outline of its crescent showed that the
solar beams were refracted into regions of its surface where
the sun had already set, and proved, beyond a doubt, that
the planet had "a-n atmosphere of her own; and certain
luminous points projecting from the crescent as plainly
marked the existence of mountains-mountains to which
Schroeter has assigned an altitude ten times greater than
that of Mont Blanc, being 1hth part of the radius of the
As the result of Servadac's computations, he formed the
opinion that Venus could hardly be at a greater distance
than 6,000,000 miles from the earth.
"And a very safe distance, too," said Ben Zoof, when
his master told him the conclusion at which he had arrived.
"All very well for two armies, but for a couple of
planets not quite so safe, perhaps, as you may imagine.
It is my impression that it is more than likely we may run
foul of Venus," said the captain.
"Plenty of air and water there, sir?" inquired the
Yes ; as far as I can tell, plenty," replied Servadac.
Then why shouldn't we go and visit Venus ? "
Servadac did his best to explain that as the two planets
were of about equal volume, and were travelling with great
velocity in opposite directions, any collision between them
must be attended with the most disastrous consequences
to one or both of them. But Ben Zoof failed to see that,
even at the worst, the catastrophe could be much more
serious than the collision of two railway trains.
The captain became fairly exasperated.
"You idiot! he angrily exclaimed ; "cannot you
The highest mountains on the earth do not exceed A-th part of the
52 HECTOR SERVADAC.
understand that the planets are travelling a thousand times
faster than the fastest express, and that if they meet,
either one or the other must be destroyed ? What would
become of your darling Montmartre then ? "
The captain had touched a tender chord. For a mo-
ment Ben Zoof stood with clenched teeth and contracted
muscles; then, in a voice of real concern, he inquired
whether anything could be done to avert the calamity.
"Nothing whatever; so you may go about your own
business," was the captain's brusque rejoinder.
All discomfited and bewildered, Ben Zoof retired
without a word.
During the ensuing days the distance between the two
planets continued to decrease, and it became more and
more obvious that the elrth, on her new orbit, was about
to cross the orbit of Venus.
Throughout this time the earth had been making a
perceptible approach towards Mercury, and that planet-
which is rarely visible to the naked eye, and then only at
what are termed the periods of its greatest eastern and
western elongations-now appeared in all its splendour.
It amply justified the epithet of "sparkling" which the
ancients were accustomed to confer upon it, and could
scarcely fail to awaken a new interest. The periodic
recurrence of its phases; its reflection of the sun's rays,
shedding upon it a light and a heat seven times greater
than that received by the earth; its glacial and its torrid
zones, which, on account of the great inclination of the
axis, are scarcely separable; its equatorial bands; its
mountains eleven miles high;-were all subjects of observa-
tion worthy of the most studious regard.
But no danger was to be apprehended from Mercury ;
with Venus only did collision appear imminent. By the
I8th of January the distance between that planet and the
earth had become reduced to between two and three mil-
lions of miles, and the intensity of its light had cast heavy
shadows from all terrestrial objects. It might be observed
to turn upon its own axis in twenty-three hours twenty-one
VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY. 53
minutes-an evidence, from the unaltered duration of its
days, that the planet had not shared in the disturbance.
On its disc the clouds formed from its atmospheric vapour
were plainly perceptible, as also were the seven spots,
which, according to Bianchini, are a chain of seas. It was
now visible in broad daylight. Buonaparte, when under
the Directory, once had his attention called to Venus at
noon, and immediately hailed it joyfully, recognizing it as
his own peculiar star in the ascendant. Captain Servadac,
it may well be imagined, did not experience the same
On the 20th, the distance between the two bodies had
again sensibly diminished. The captain had ceased to be
surprised that no vessel had been sent to rescue himself
and his companion from their strange imprisonment; the
governor-general and the minister of war were doubtless
far differently occupied, and their interests far otherwise
engrossed. What sensational articles, he thought, must
now be teeming to the newspapers! What crowds must
be flocking to the churches! The end of the world
approaching! the great climax close at hand Two days
more, and the earth, shivered into a myriad atoms, would
be lost in boundless space!
These dire forebodings, however, were not destined to
be realized. Gradually the distance between the two
planets began to increase; the planes of their orbits did
not coincide, and accordingly the dreaded catastrophe did
not ensue. By the 25th, Venus was sufficiently remote to
preclude any further fear of collision. Ben Zoof gave a
sigh of relief when the captain communicated the glad
Their proximity to Venus had been close enough to
demonstrate that beyond a doubt that planet has no moon
or satellite such as Cassini, Short, Montaigne of Limoges,
Montbarron, and some other astronomers have imagined
"Had there been such a satellite," said Servadac, "we
might have captured it in passing. But what can be the
54 HECTOR SERVADAC.
meaning," he added seriously, "of all this displacement of
the heavenly bodies ?"
What is that great building at Paris, captain, with a
top like a cap ?" asked Ben Zoof.
Do you mean the Observatory ?"
"Yes, the Observatory. Are there not people living in
the Observatory who could explain all this ?"
"Very likely; but what of that ? "
Let us be philosophers, and wait patiently until we
can hear their explanation."
"Do you know what it is to be a philosopher, Ben
Zoof? he asked.
"I am a soldier, sir," was the servant's prompt re-
joinder, "and I have learnt to know that 'what can't be
cured must be endured.' "
The captain made no reply, but for a time, at least, he
desisted from puzzling himself over matters which he felt
he was utterly incompetent to explain. But an event soon
afterwards occurred which awakened his keenest interest as
likely to influence his future proceedings.
About nine o'clock on the morning of the 27th, Ben
Zoof walked deliberately into his master's apartment, and,
in reply to a question as to what he wanted, announced
with the utmost composure that a ship was in sight.
"A ship !" exclaimed Servadac, starting to his feet
"A ship! Ben Zoof, you donkey! you speak as uncon-
cernedly as though you were telling me that my dinner
"Are we not philosophers, captain?" said the orderly.
But the captain was out of hearing.
Th.e Obser'atory at Paris.
( 55 )
FAST as his legs could carry him, Servadac had made his
way to the top of the cliff. It was quite true that a vessel
was in sight, hardly more than six miles from the shore;
but owing to the increase in the earth's convexity, and the
consequent limitation of the range of vision, the rigging of
the topmasts alone was visible above the water. This was
enough, however, to indicate that the ship was a schooner
-an impression that was confirmed when, two hours later,
she came entirely in sight
"The Dobryna! exclaimed Servadac, keeping his eye
unmoved at his telescope.
"Impossible, sir!" rejoined Ben Zoof; "there are no
signs of smoke."
The Dobryna!" repeated the captain, positively. "She
is under sail, but that schooner is Count Timascheff's
He was right. If the count were on board, a strange
fatality was bringing him to the presence of his rival. But
no longer now could Servadac regard him in the light
of an adversary; circumstances had changed, and all
animosity was absorbed in the eagerness with which he
hailed the prospect of obtaining some information about
the recent startling and inexplicable events. During the
twenty-seven days that she had been absent, the Dobryna,
he conjectured, would have explored the Mediterranean,
would very probably have visited Spain, France, or Italy,
and accordingly would convey to Gourbi Island some
intelligence from one or other of those countries. He
reckoned, therefore, not only upon ascertaining the extent
of the late catastrophe, but upon learning its cause. Count
Timascheff was, no doubt, magnanimously coming to the
rescue of himself and his orderly.
The wind being adverse, the Dobryna did not make
very rapid progress; but as the weather, in spite of a few
clouds, remained calm, and the sea was quite smooth, she
was enabled to hold a steady course. It seemed unac-
countable that she should not use her engine, as whoever
was on board would be naturally impatient to reconnoitre
the new island, which must just have come within their
view. The probability that suggested itself was that the
schooner's fuel was exhausted.
Servadac took it for granted that the Dobryna was
endeavouring to put in. It occurred to him, however, that
the count, on discovering an island where he had expected
to find the mainland of Africa, would not unlikely be at a
loss for a place of anchorage. The yacht was evidently
making her way in the direction of the former mouth of
the Shelif, and the captain was struck with the idea that
he would do well, to investigate whether there was any
suitable mooring towards which he might signal her.
Zephyr and Galette were soon saddled, and in twenty
minutes had carried their riders to the western extremity
of the island, where they both dismounted and began to
explore the coast.
They were not long in ascertaining that on the farther
side of the point there was a small well-sheltered creek
of sufficient depth to accommodate a vessel of moderate
tonnage. A narrow channel formed a passage through
the ridge of rocks that protected it from the open sea, and
which, even in the roughest weather, would ensure the
calmness of its waters.
Whilst examining the rocky shore, the captain observed,
to his great surprise, l6ng and well-defined rows of seaweed,
" Before we speak one other word, tell me what has happened."
INQUIRIES UNSATISFIED. 57
which undoubtedly betokened that there had been a very
considerable ebb and flow of the waters-a thing unknown
in the Mediterranean, where there is scarcely any per-
ceptible tide. What, however, seemed most remarkable,
was the manifest evidence that ever since the highest flood
(which was caused, in all probability, by the proximity of
the body of which the huge disc had been so conspicuous
on the night of the 31st of December) the phenomenon
had been gradually lessening, and in fact was now reduced
to the normal limits which had characterized it before the
Without doing more than note the circumstance,
Servadac turned his entire attention to the Dobryna, which,
now little more than a mile from shore, could not fail to
see and understand his signals. Slightly changing her
course, she first struck her mainsail, and, in order to facilitate
the movements of her helmsman, soon carried nothing but
her two topsails, brigantine and jib. After rounding the
peak, she steered direct for the channel to which Servadac
by his gestures was pointing her, and was not long in
entering the creek. As soon as the anchor, imbedded in
the sandy bottom, had made good its hold, a boat was
lowered. In a few minutes more Count Timascheff had
landed on the island. Captain Servadac hastened towards
First of all, count," he exclaimed impetuously, "before
we speak one other word, tell me what has happened."
SThe count, whose imperturbable composure presented
a singular contrast to the French officer's enthusiastic
vivacity, made a stiff bow, and in his Russian accent
"First of all, permit me to express my surprise at
seeing you here. I left you on a continent, and here I
have the honour of finding you on an island."
"I assure you, count, I have never left the place."
"I am quite aware of it, Captain Servadac, and I now
beg to offer you my sincere apologies for failing to keep
my appointment with you."
58 HECTOR SERVADAC.
"Never mind, now," interposed the captain, hastily;
"we will talk of that by-and-by. First, tell me what has
"The very question I was about to put to you, Captain
"Do you mean, then, to say that you know nothing of
the cause, and can tell me nothing of the extent, of the
catastrophe which has transformed this part of Africa into
an island ?"
Nothing more than you know yourself," was the
"But surely, Count Timascheff, you can inform me
whether upon the northern shore of the Mediterranean--"
"Are you certain that this is the Mediterranean ?"
asked the count significantly, and added, "I have dis-
covered no sign of land."
The captain stared in silent bewilderment. For some
moments he seemed perfectly stupified ; then, recovering
himself, he began to overwhelm the count with a torrent of
questions. Had he noticed, ever since the Ist'of January,
that the sun had risen in the west ? Had he noticed that
the days had been only six hours long, and that the weight
of the atmosphere was so much diminished? Had he
observed that the moon had quite disappeared, and that the
earth had been in imminent hazard of running foul of the
planet Venus? Was he aware, in short, that the entire
motions of the terrestrial sphere had undergone a complete
modification ? To all these inquiries, the count responded
in the affirmative. He was acquainted with everything
that had transpired; but, to Servadac's increasing astonish-
ment, he could throw no light upon the cause of any of
"On the night of the 31st of December," he said, I
was proceeding by sea to our appointed place of meeting.
when my yacht was suddenly caught on the crest of an
enormous wave, and carried to a height which it is beyond
my power to estimate. Some mysterious force seemed to
have brought about a convulsion of the elements. Our
INQUIRIES UNSATISFIED. 59
engine was damaged, nay disabled, and we drifted entirely
at the mercy of the terrible hurricane that raged during
the succeeding days. That the Dobryna escaped at all is
little less than a miracle, and I can only attribute her
safety to the fact that she occupied the centre of the vast
cyclone, and consequently did not experience much change
He paused, and added:
"Your island is the first land we have seen."
Then let us put out to sea at once and ascertain the
extent of the disaster," cried the captain, eagerly. "You
will take me on board, count, will you not?"
"My yacht is at your service, sir, even should you
require to make a tour round the world."
"A tour round the Mediterranean will suffice for the
present, I think," said the captain, smiling.
The count shook his head.
"I am not sure," said he, "but what the tour of the
Mediterranean will prove to be the tour of the world."
Servadac made no reply, but for a time remained silent
and absorbed in thought.
After the silence was broken, they consulted as to what
course was best to pursue; and the plan they proposed
was, in the first place, to discover how much of the African
coast still remained, and to carry on the tidings of their
own experiences to Algiers; or, in the event of the southern
shore having actually disappeared, they would make their
way northwards and put themselves in communication
with the population on the river-banks of Europe.
Before starting, it was indispensable that the engine of
the Dobryna should be repaired : to sail under canvas only
would in contrary winds and rough seas be both tedious
and difficult. The stock of coal on board was adequate
for two months' consumption; but as it would at the
expiration of that time be exhausted, it was obviously the
part of prudence to employ it in reaching a port where
fuel could be replenished.
The damage sustained by the engine proved to be not
60 HECTOR SERVADAC.
very serious. Some of the boiler-tubes had cracked,
allowing the water in consequence to run into the furnace;
but as several spare tubes had been stored in the yacht,
these were available to replace the old ones, and in three
days after her arrival the Dobryna was again ready to put
Servadac employed the interval in making the count
acquainted with all he knew about his small domain. They
made an entire circuit of the island, and both agreed that
it must be beyond the limits of that circumscribed territory
that they must seek an explanation of what had so strangely
It was on the last day of January that the repairs of
the schooner were completed. A slight diminution in the
excessively high temperature which had prevailed for the
last few weeks, was the only apparent change in the general
order of things; but whether this was to be attributed to
any alteration in the earth's orbit was a question which
would still require several days to decide. The weather
remained fine, and although a few clouds had accumu-
lated, and might have caused a trifling fall of the baro-
meter, they were not sufficiently threatening to delay the
departure of the Dobryna.
Doubts now arose, and some discussion followed, whether
or not it was desirable for Ben Zoof to accompany his
master. There were various reasons why he should be
left behind, not the least important being that the schooner
had no accommodation for horses, and the orderly would
have found it hard to part with Zephyr, and much more
with his own favourite Galette; besides, it Was advisable
that there should be some one left to receive any strangers
that might possibly arrive, as well as to keep an eye upon
the herds of cattle which, in the dubious prospect before
them, might prove to be the sole resource of the survivors
of the catastrophe. Altogether, taking into consideration
that the brave fellow would incur no personal risk by re-
maining upon the island, the captain was induced with
much reluctance to forego the attendance of his servant,
INQUIRIES UNSATISFIED. 61
hoping very shortly to return and to restore him to his
country, when he had ascertained the reason of the
mysteries in which they were enveloped.
On the 31st, then, Ben Zoof was "invested with
governor's powers," and took an affecting leave of his
master, begging him, if chance should carry him near
Montmartre, to ascertain whether the beloved "mountain "
had been left unmoved.
Farewell over, the Dobryna was carefully steered
through the creek, and was soon upon the open sea.
62 IIECTOR SERVADAC.
A SEARCH FOR ALGERIA.
THE Dobryna, a strong craft of 200oo tons burden, had been
built in the famous ship-building yards in the Isle of
Wight. Her sea-going qualities were excellent, and would
-have amply sufficed for a circumnavigation of the globe;
in fact, the ships in which Columbus and Magellan took
their voyages across the Atlantic were far inferior both in
size and in construction. Her store-compartments were
capacious, and carried provisions enough for several months,
so that she was quite capable of making the entire circuit
of the Mediterranean without any necessity for re-victual-
ling. Neither was there any occasion for her to take in
fresh ballast at Gourbi Island. The weight of the water
had diminished in precisely the same ratio as that of
all material objects, consequently the conditions of the
schooner's gravity remained undisturbed.
Count Timascheff was himself no sailor, but had the
greatest confidence in leaving the command of his yacht
in the hands of Lieutenant Procope, a man of about thirty
years of age, and an excellent seaman.
Born on the count's estates, the son of a serf who had
been emancipated long before the famous edict of the
Emperor Alexander, Procope was sincerely attached, by
a tie of gratitude as well as of duty and affection, to his
patron's service. After an apprenticeship on a merchant
ship he had entered the im)prial navy, and had already
A SEARCH FOR ALGERIA. 63
reached the rank of lieutenant when the count appointed
him to the charge of his own private yacht, in which
he was accustomed to spend by far the greater part of
his time, throughout the winter generally cruising in the
Mediterranean, whilst in the summer he visited more
The ship could not have been in better hands. The
lieutenant was well informed in many matters outside
the pale of his profession, and his attainments were
alike creditable to himself and to the liberal friend who
had given him his education. He had an excellent crew,
consisting of Tiglew the engineer, four sailors named
Niegoch, Tolstoy, Etkef, and Panofka, and Mochel the
cook. These men, without exception, were all sons of the
count's tenants, and so tenaciously, even out at sea, did
they cling to their old traditions, that it mattered little to
them what physical disorganization ensued, so long as they
felt they were sharing the experiences of their lord and
master. The late astounding events, however, had ren-
dered Procope manifestly uneasy, and not the less so from
his consciousness that the count secretly partook of his
Steam up and canvas spread, the schooner started east-
wards. With a favourable wind she would certainly have
made eleven knots an hour had not the high waves some-
what impeded her progress. Although only a moderate
breeze was blowing, the sea was rough, a circumstance to
be accounted for only by the diminution in the force of the
earth's attraction rendering the liquid particles so buoyant,
that by the mere effect of oscillation they were carried to a
height that was quite unprecedented. M. Arago has fixe 1
twenty-five or twenty-six feet as the maximum elevation
ever attained by the highest waves, and his astonishment
would have been very great to see them rising fifty or even
sixty feet. Nor did these waves in the usual way par-
tially unfurl themselves and rebound against the sides of
the vessel; they might rather be described as long undu-
lations carrying the schooner (its weight diminished from
54 HECTOR SERVADAC.
the same cause as that of the water) alternately to such
heights and depths, that if Captain Servadac had been
subject to sea-sickness he must have found himself in sorry
plight. As the pitching, however, was the result of a long
uniform swell, the yacht did not labour much harder than
she would against the ordinary short strong waves of the
Mediterranean; the main inconvenience that was expe-
rienced was the diminution in her proper rate of speed.
For a few miles she followed the line hitherto pre-
sumably occupied by the coast of Algeria; but no land
appeared to the south. The changed positions of the
planets rendered them of no avail for purposes of nautical
observation, nor could Lieutenant Procope calculate his
latitude and longitude by the altitude of the sun, as his
reckonings would be useless when applied to charts that had
been constructed for the old order of things; but neverthe-
less, by means of the log, which gave him the rate of pro
gress, and by the compass, which indicated the direction
in which they were sailing, he was able to form an estimate
of his position that was sufficiently free from error for his
Happily the recent phenomena had no effect upon the
compass; the magnetic needle, which in these regions had
pointed about 220 from the north pole, had never deviated
in the least-a proof that, although east and west had
apparently changed places, north and south continued to
retain their normal position as cardinal points. The log
and the compass, therefore, were able to be called upon
to do the work of the sextant, which had become utterly
On the first morning of the cruise Lieutenant Procope,
who, like most Russians, spoke French fluently, was ex-
plaining these peculiarities to Captain Servadac ; the count
was present, and the conversation perpetually recurred, as
naturally it would, to the phenomena which remained so
inexplicable to them all.
It is very evident," said the lieutenant, that ever
since the Ist of January the earth has been moving in a
A SEARCH FOR ALGLRIA.
new orbit, and from some unknown cause has drawn
nearer to the sun."
"No doubt about that," said Servadac; "and I sup-
pose that, having crossed the orbit of Venus, we have a
good chance of running into the orbit of Mercury."
"And finish up by a collision with the sun !" added
"Terrible destruction!" exclaimed Servadac, with a
There is no fear of that, Captain Servadac. The earth
has undoubtedly entered upon a new orbit, but she is not
incurring any probable risk of being precipitated on to
Can you satisfy us of that ?" asked the count.
I can, sir. I can give you a proof which I think you
will own is conclusive. If, as you suppose, the earth is
being drawn on so as to be precipitated against the sun,
the great centre of attraction of our system, it could only
be because the centrifugal and centripetal forces that cause
the planets to rotate in their several orbits had been en-
tirely suspended : in that case, indeed, the earth would
rush onwards towards the sun, and in sixty-four days
and a half the catastrophe you dread would inevitably
"And what demonstration do you offer," asked Ser.
vadac eagerly, that it will not happen ? "
"Simply this, captain: that since the earth entered
her new orbit half the sixty-four days has already elapsed,
and yet it is only just recently that she has crossed the
orbit of Venus, hardly one-third of the distance to be tra-
versed to reach the sun."
The lieutenant paused to allow time for reflection, and
added: "Moreover, I have every reason to believe that
we are not so near the sun as we have been. The tem-
perature has been gradually diminishing; the heat upon
Gourbi Island is not greater now than we might ordinarily
expect to find in Algeria in lat. 360. At the same time,
we have the problem still unsolved that the Mediter-
66 HECTOR SERVADAC.
ranean has evidently been transported to the equatorial
Both the count and the captain expressed themselves
reassured by his representations, and observed that they
must now do all in their power to discover what had
become of the vast continent of Africa, of which they were
hitherto failing so completely to find a vestige.
Twenty-four hours after leaving the island, the Dobryna
had passed over the sites where Tenes, Cherchil, Koleah,
and Sidi-Feruch once had been, but of these towns not
one appeared within range of the telescope. Ocean reigned
Lieutenant Procope, however, was absolutely certain
that he had not mistaken his direction; the compass
showed that the wind had never shifted from the west, and
this, with the rate of speed as estimated by the log, com-
bined to assure him that at this date, the 2nd of February,
the schooner was in lat. 360 49' N. and long. 3 25' E.,
the very spot which ought to have been occupied by the
Algerian capital. But Algiers, like all the other coast-
towns, had apparently been absorbed into the bowels of
Captain Servadac, with clenched teeth and knitted
brow, stood sternly, almost fiercely, regarding the bound-
less waste of water. His pulses beat fast as he recalled the
friends and comrades with whom he had spent the last
few years in that vanished city. All the images of his
past life floated upon his memory; his thoughts sped
away to his native France, only to return again to wonder
whether the depths of ocean would reveal any traces of
the Algerian metropolis.
-" Is it not impossible," he murmured aloud, "that any
city should disappear so completely ? Would not the
loftiest eminences of the city at least be visible? Surely
some portion of the Casbah must still rise above the waves ?
The imperial fort, too, was built upon an elevation of 750
feet; it is incredible that it should be so totally submerged.
Unless some vestiges of these are found, I shall begin to
Sternly, almost fiercely, regarding the Boundless Waste of Water.
A SEARCH FOR ALGERIA. 67
suspect that the whole of Africa has been swallowed in
some vast abyss."
Another circumstance was most remarkable. Not a
material object of any kind was to be noticed floating on
the surface of the water; not one branch of a tree had
been seen drifting by, nor one spar belonging to one of
the numerous vessels that a month previously had been
moored in the magnificent bay which stretched twelve
miles across from Cape Matafuz to Point Pexade. Per-
haps the depths might disclose what the surface failed to
reveal, and Count Timascheff, anxious that Servadac should
have every facility afforded him for solving his doubts,
called for the sounding-line. Forthwith, the lead was
greased and lowered. To the surprise of all, and especi-
ally of Lieutenant Procope, the line indicated a bottom at
a nearly uniform depth of from four to five fathoms; and
although the sounding was persevered with continuously
for more than two hours over a considerable area, the
differences of level were insignificant, not corresponding
in any degree to what would be expected over the site of
a city that had been terraced like the seats of an amphi-
theatre. Astounding as it seemed, what alternative was
left but to suppose that the Algerian capital, had been
completely levelled by the flood ?
The sea-bottom was composed of neither rock, mud,
sand, nor shells; the sounding-lead brought up nothing
but a kind of metallic dust, which glittered with a strange
iridescence, and the nature of which it was impossible to
determine, as it was totally unlike what had ever been
known to be raised from the bed of the Mediterranean.
"You must see, lieutenant, I should think, that we are
not so near the coast of Algeria as you imagined."
The lieutenant shook his head. After pondering
awhile, he said:
"If we were farther away I should expect to find a
depth of two or three hundred fathoms instead of five
fathoms. Five fathoms! I confess I am puzzled."
Hereupon Servadac begged the count to give instruc-
68 HECTOR SERVADAC.
tions for the voyage to be prosecuted towards the south, in
order that they might make a more effective search for the
coast which so thoroughly eluded their discovery.
After satisfying himself by a short conference with
Lieutenant Procope that the weather would permit such a
change of course, the count acceded to the request. South
wards, accordingly, the Dobryna's stem was turned.
For the next thirty-six hours, until the 4th of Febru.
ary, the sea was examined and explored with the most
unflagging perseverance. Its depth remained invariable,
still four, or at most five, fathoms; and although its bottom
was assiduously dredged, it was only to prove it barren of
marine production of any type.
The yacht made its way to lat. 360, and by reference to
the charts it was tolerably certain that she was cruising
over the site of the Sahel, the ridge that had separated
the rich plain of the Mitidja from the sea, and of which
the highest peak, Mount Boujereah, had reached an altitude
of 1200oo feet ; but even this peak, which might have been
expected to emerge like an islet above the surface of the
sea, was nowhere to be traced.
Onwards still steamed the Dobryna, beyond the site of
Douera, the principal village of the Sahel; beyond Bou-
farick, where spreading plane-trees had shaded the spacious
streets; beyond Blidah, of which not even the fort (a
thousand feet and more higher than Oued-el-Kebir) sur-
vived ;-beyond all these, still southwards, until Lieutenant
Procope, fearful of venturing farther upon this unknown
ocean, entreated that he might be allowed to shift his course
to the east, or retrace it to the north; and it was only
upon Servadac's urgent persuasion that he was induced to
extend his exploration as far as the mountains of Mouzaia,
the legendary grottoes formerly frequented by the Kabyles,
the haunt of lions, hyenas, and jackals, and where gigantic
oaks and marvellous bread-fruit trees had flourished in
abundance. Surely, it was urged, those lofty summits,
which within six weeks had been seen soaring to an
altitude of nearly 5000 feet, would be still conspicuous
A SEARCH FOR ALGERIA. 69
above the waves. But no; sea and sky were all that the
keenest vision could compass, and nothing was to be done
but to put about, and return in disappointment towards
Thus the Dobryna regained the waters of the Mediter-
ranean without discovering a trace of the missing province
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