The Baldwin Library
fr ^fL~ ;
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
THE JULES VERNE LIBRARY.
Crown 8vo, fancy wrapper, is.; cloth gilt, 2s.
The Times says-"M. Verne's are certainly extremely clever,
and deserve all imaginable success. Their sensation is at once
terribly thrilling and absolutely harmless."
1. A JOURNEY INTO THE INTERIOR OB THE
2. THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE.
8. THE ICE DESERT.
4. FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
5. THE MYSTERIOUS DOCUMENT.
6. ON THE TRACK.
7. AMoNr THE CANNIBALS.
8; TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.
9. TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.
London: WARD, LOCK, and TYEGE, Warwick House,
AUTHOR OF "A JOURNEY INTO THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH,
"THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE,"
TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA," ETC.
WARD, LOCK, AND TYLER,
WARWICK HOUSE, PATERNOSTER ROW.
An Entirely New Work, cloth gilt, gilt edges, 5s.
VOYAGES AND TRAVELS IN THE ARCTIC REGIONS.
FROM THE EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE ENGLISH EXPEDITION OF 1875.
By JAMES MASON.
With 48 Full-page and other Engravings.
This Volume forms a charming Presentation Book for Boys.
London: WARD, Locx, and TYLER, Warwick House,
The End of a Speech much Applauded-Presentation of Dr.
Samuel Fergusson-" Excelsior"-Portrait of the Doctor-
A Fatalist Convinced-Dinner at the Traveller's Club-
An Article from the "Daily Telegraph"-War of Scientific
Newspapers-Mr. Petermann stands up for his Friend Dr.
Fergusson-Koner's Answer-Bets-Different Propositions
Made to the Doctor .. 16
The Doctor's Friend-Date of their Friendship-Dick Kennedy
in London-Unexpected but not Reassuring Proposition-
A not very consoling Proverb-A few Words on African
Martyrology-Adventures of an Aerostat-Dr. Fergusson's
African Explorations-Barth, Richardson, Overweg, Werne,
Brun-Rollet, Peney, Andrea-Debono, Miani, Guillaume
Lejean, Bruce, Krapf and Rebmann, Maizan, Roscher,
Burton, and Speke 26
Kennedy's Dreams-The Plural of Articles and Pronouns-
Dick's Insinuations-Promenade on the African Map-
What Remains between the Two Points of the Compass-
Present Expeditions-Speke and Grant-Krapf, Decken,
A Rare Servant-He perceives Jupiter's Satellites-Dick and
Joe Clash-Doubt and Belief-The Weighing-Joe Wel-
lington-He receives Half-a-Crown 37
Geometrical Details-Calculation of the Balloon's Capacity-
The Double Balloon-The Envelope-The Car-The Mys-
terious Apparatus-The Provisions-The Final Addition 42
Joe's Importance-The Commander of the Resolute-Kennedy's
Arsenal-Management-Farewell Dinner-Departure on
February 21st-The Doctor's Scientific Lectures-Duvey-
rier, Livingstone-Details of the Aerial Journey-Kennedy
Reduced to Silence 47
Doubling the Cape-The Forecastle-Lecture on Cosmography
by Professor Joe-On the Management of Balloons-On
the Research of Atmospheric Currents 53
Anterior Experiments-The Doctor's Five Casks-The Blow-
Pipe for Gas-The Air-Stove-Manner of Working-
Certain Success 58
Arrival at Zanzibar-The English Consul-The Inhabitants
Badly Disposed-Koumbeni Isle-Rain-makers-Inflation
of the Balloon-Departure on the 18th of April-Last
Adieu-The Victoria 62
Crossing the Strait-The Mrima-Remark of Dick, and Pro-
position of Joe-Recipe for Coffee-The Uzramo-The
Unfortunate Maizan-Mount Duthumi-The Doctor's Maps
-Night on a Nopal 69
Change in the "Weather-Kennedy's Fever-The Doctor's
Medicine-Travelling by Land-The Imenge Basin-Mount
Rubeho-Six Thousand Feet Up-A Day's Halt 76
Forest of Gum Trees-The Blue Antelope-The Rallying
Signal-An Unexpected Assault-The Kanyeme-A Night
in the Open Air-The Mabunguru-Jihoue-la-Mkoa-Pro-
vision of Water-Arrival at Kazeh 82
Kazeh-The Noisy Market-Apparition of the Victoria-The
Wanganza-The Sons of the Moon-The Doctor's Pro-
menade-Population-The Royal Dwelling-The Sultan's
Wives-A Royal Drunkard-Joe Worshipped-How they
Dance in the Moon-Sudden Change-Two Moons in the
Firmament-Instability of Divine Grandeur 90
Symptoms of Tempest-The Moon Country-The Future of
the African Continent-The Last Machine-View of the
Country at Sunset-Flora and Fauna-The Tempest-The
Fiery Zone-Starlight 99
The Mountains of the Moon-An Ocean of Verdure-Anchor
thrown out-The Towing Elephant-Quick Firing-Death of
the Elephant-An Improvised Oven-A Meal on the Grass
-A Night on Land 108
The Karagwah-Lake Ukereoue-A Night in an Island-The
Equator-Across the Lake-The Cataracts-View of the
Country-The Sources of the Nile-Benga Isle-The Signa-
ture of Andrea-Debono-The English Flag 116
The Nile-The Trembling Mountain-Souvenir of the Country
-What the Arabs say-The Nyam-Nyam-Sensible Reflec.
tions of Joe's-The Victoria Runs Risks-Aerostatic Ascen-
The Celestial Bottle-Fig-Palms-Mammoth Trees-War Tree
-The Winged Equipage-Combat of Two Tribes-Massacre
-Divine Intervention 131
Strange Noises-A Nocturnal Attack-Kennedy and Joe in the
Tree-Two Shots-" A Moi !"-Answer in French-The
Morning-The Missionary-Plan for Saving Him 137
A Ray of Light-The Missionary-What Happened in the Ray
of Light-The Lazarist Priest-Little Hope-The Doctor's
Nursing-A Life of Abnegation-Passage over a Volcano 144
Joe's Anger-Death of the Priest-Watching the Body-Aridity
-Burial-The Blocks of Quartz-Joe's Hallucination-
Precious Ballast-Auriferous Mountains-Joe's Despair 152
The Wind Falls-Approaching the Desert-The Water Supply
-Equatorial Nights-Uneasiness of Fergusson-The Real
Situation- Energetic Replies of Kennedy and Joe -
Another Night 160
"A Little Philosophy-A Cloud on the Horizon-In the Midst of
a Fog-The Unexpected Balloon-The Signals-An Exact
View of the Victoria-The Palm-Trees-Traces of a Caravan
-The Well in the Desert 167
"A Hundred and Thirteen Degrees-The Doctor's Reflections-
A Desperate Search-The Apparatus Extinguished-A
Hundred and Twenty Degrees--The Contemplation of the
Desert-A Walk in the Night-Solitude-Despair-Joe's
Project-He Gives Himself One Day More 173
Fearful Heat-Hallucinations-The Last Drops of Water-
Night of Despair-Attempt at Suicide-The Simoom-The
A Delightful Evening-Joe's Cooking-Dissertation on Raw
Meat- History of James Bruce- The Bivouac- Joe's
Dreams-The Barometer Falls-The Barometer Rises-
Preparations for Departure-The Hurricane 185
Symptoms of Vegetation-Fantastic Idea of a French Author-
Magnificent Country-The Kingdom of Adamawa-Speke
and Burton's Explorations United to those of Barth-The
Alantika Mountains-The Town of Jola-Mount Mindif 191
Mosfeia-The Sheik-Denham, Clapperton, Oudney-Vogel-
The Capital of Loggoum-Toole-Calm above Kernak-
The Governor and his Court-The Attack-The Incendiary
Departure in the Night-All Three-Kennedy's Instincts-Pre-
cautions-The Bed of the Shari-Lake Tchad-The Hippo-
potamus-A Lost Bullet 203
The Capital of Bornou-Biddiomah Islands-Anxieties of the
D6ctor-His Precautions-The Gyr-Falcons-Attack in the
Air-The Envelope Tor-The Fall-Sublime Self-Sacrifice
-The North Coast of the Lake 207
Conjectures-The Equilibrium of the Victoria Restored-Fresh
Calculations by Dr. Fergusson-Kennedy's Hunting-Com-
plete Exploration of Lake Tchad-Tangalia-Return-Lari 211
The Hurricane-Forced Departure-Loss of an Anchor-Sad
Reflections-A Resolution Taken-A Caravan Lost-Con-
trary and Favourable Winds-Return Southwards-Kennedy
at his Post 217
Joe's History-The Island of the Biddiomahs-Worship-An
Island Sunk-The Shores of the Lake-The Serpent Tree
-Journey on Foot-Suffering-Mosquitoes and Ants-
Hunger-Passage of the Victoria-Disappearance of the
Victoria-Despair-The Marsh-A Last Cry 222
A Crowd on the Horizon-Arabs-The Pursuit-" It is He!"-
Fall from a Horse-The Arab Strangled-Kennedy's Bullet
-Manceuvre-A Flying Abduction-Joe Saved 228
Westward Ho!-Joe's Waking-His Obstinacy-Conclusion of
his Story Tagelel Kennedy's Anxieties Northern
Route-A Night near Aghades 232
Rapid Travelling-Prudent Resolutions-Caravans-Continual
Showers-Gao-The Niger-Golberry, Geoffroy, Gray-
Mungo Park-Laing--RIn CailliB-Clapperton-John and
Richard Lander 237
The Region in the Bend of the Niger-Mounts Hombori-Kabra
-Timbuctoo-Dr. Barth's Plan-Downfall-Where Heaven
Anxiety-Persistent Direction Southward-A Cloud of Grass-
hoppers-View of Jenne-View of Sego-Change in the
Wind-Joe's Regrets 248
Nearing the Senegal-The Victoria Sinks Lower and Lower-
Ballast Thrown Out-The Marabout E1.Hadji-Pascal,
Vincent, Lambert-Mahomet's Rival-Mountains-Ken-
nedy's Arms-Joe's Manceuvre-Halt Above a Forest 251
A Generous Fight-Last Sacrifice-The Dilatation Apparatus-
Joe's Skill-Midnight-The Doctor's Watch-He Sleeps-
The Fire-Out of Reach 256
The Talibas-The Pursuit-A Devastated Country-Moderate
Wind-The Victoria Sinks-The Last Provisions-Gun
Shots-The Wind Freshens-The River Senegal-The
Gouina Cataracts-Warm Air-Crossing the River 260
Conclusion-The Official Report-The French Settlements-
Medine-Saint Louis-The English Frigate-Return to
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
THE END OP A SPEECH MUCH APPLAUDED-PRESENTA-
TION OP DR. SAMUEL FERGUSSON -" EXCELSIOR"-
PORTRAIT OP THE DOCTOR-A FATALIST CONVINCED-
DINNER AT THE TRAVELLER'S CLUB-TOASTS.
HERE was a large audience, on the 14th
of January, 1862, at the sitting of the
Royal Geographical Society of London,
3, Waterloo-place. The president, Sir
Francis M- made an important speech
to his honourable colleagues, and was frequently inter-
rupted by applause. It ended thus:-
England has always marched at the head of other
nations (for it has been remarked that nations univer-
sally march at the head of one another) by its geogra-
phical discoveries. (Hear, hear.) Dr. Samuel Fergus-
son will add to its glory. If his attempt succeed (a
voice-"It will succeed"), it will complete the map of
Africa; if it fail, it will still remain one of the most
daring conceptions of human genius !"
10 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
The applause was frantic. "Hurrah for Fergusson!"
cried one of the most enthusiastic of the auditory,
which was composed of intrepid travellers from the
five parts of the world. They had all, more or less,
physically or morally, escaped shipwreck, fire, Indian
tomahawks, savage clubs, the stake of torture, or
Polynesian stomachs. But the Royal Geographical
Society had never been so enthusiastic as during the
speech of Sir Francis M----.
Fortunately, in England, enthusiasm does not show
itself only in words. It coins money as rapidly as the
Mint. An 'indemnity of encouragement was voted,
there and then, in favour of Dr. Fergusson, and the
sum amounted to 2,500. The importance of the sum
was in proportion to the importance of the enterprise.
One of the members of the society asked the president
if Dr. Fergusson was not to be officially presented.
"The doctor is at the disposition of the assembly,"
answered Sir Francis M--.
Dr. Fergusson was called for from all parts of the
room. One old apoplectic commodore said-
"I believe it is all a mystification."
"I don't believe there is a Dr. Fergusson," cried a
"He must be invented," said a facetious member.
"Ask Dr. Fergusson to come in," said simply Sir
And the doctor entered amidst a thunder of applause,
not looking in the least disconcerted. He was a man
about forty, of middle height and build; his sanguine
temperament betrayed itself in the deep colour of his
face; his face was cold and the features regular; a
large nose, one of those noses like the prow of a vessel,
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 11
of a man predestined to great discoveries; his soft eyes,
more intelligent than bold, gave a great charm to his
physiognomy; his arms were long, and his feet pressed
the ground with the aplomb of a good walker. His
whole appearance was calmly grave, and the idea that
he was the instrument of the slightest mystification
could not enter the mind. The applause only ended
when the doctor asked for silence by a friendly
gesture. He walked towards the chair prepared for
him; then, standing, with energy in his look, he raised
the forefinger of his right hand to the sky, opened his
mouth, and pronounced this one word:-
No unexpected interpellation of Cobden or Bright,
not even the demand made by Lord Palmerston for
extraordinary funds to cuirass the rocks of England,
obtained a like success. Sir Francis M- 's speech
was far surpassed; the doctor showed himself at the
same time sublime, grand, sober, and moderate. The
old commodore, completely gained over to this extra-
ordinary man, moved the "integral" insertion of Dr.
Fergusson's speech in the Proceedings of the Royal
Geographical Society of London.
Who was the doctor, and to what enterprise was he
going to devote himself?
The father of young Fergusson, a brave captain in
the English Navy, had associated his son from his
earliest infancy in the dangers and adventures of his
profession. Worthy son of such a father, the boy
never seemed to know what fear was, and he showed a
remarkable aptitude for science and patient, laborious
investigation; he early had remarkable presence of
mind and skill in helping himself; he was never em-
12 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
barrassed, not even when he began to use a fork for the
He fed his imagination by reading voyages and
travels; he followed with passion the discoveries which
signalised the first part of the 19th century; he
dreamed of imitating the glory of Mungo-Park, Bruce,
Cailli6, Levaillant, and even .that of Selkirk and Robin-
son Crusoe, which did not seem to him inferior. He
passed many happy hours in the island of Juan Fer-
nandez. Sometimes he approved of the ideas of the
lonely sailor, sometimes he argued about his plans and
projects; he would have done differently, better, per-
haps, quite as well, certainly. Of one thing he was
quite certain: he would never have left that fortunate
island where he was as happy as a king without sub-
jects-no, not even to become First Lord of the Ad-
His youthful life of adventure in the four quarters of
the world developed these tastes. His father, like a
cultivated man, did not fail to strengthen his quick
intelligence by serious study of hydrography, physics,
and mechanics, with some knowledge of botany,
medicine, and astronomy. At the death of the worthy
captain, Samuel Fergusson, then twenty-two years of
age, had already been round the world; he bought a
commission in the Bengal Engineers, but a soldier's
existence did not suit him; he did not care about com-
manding, and he disliked being commanded. He threw
up his commission, and sometimes hunting, sometimes
botanising, he went up to the north of the Indian
Peninsula and crossed from Calcutta to Surat-simply
an amateur walk. From Surat he went to Australia, and
took part in 1845 in the expedition of Captain Sturt to
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 13
discover the Caspian Sea, which is supposed to exist in
the interior of Now Holland.
Samuel Fergusson returned to England about 1850,
and more than ever possessed by the demon of dis-
covery, he accompanied Captain McClure in the
expedition round the American continent, from
Behring Straits to Cape Farewell. In spite of fatigues
of every kind, and under every climate, Dr. Fergusson's
constitution bore up marvellously; he seemed comfort-
able in the midst of complete privations; he was a type
of the perfect traveller, whose stomach is enlarged or
compressed at will, whose legs lengthen or shorten to
suit his improvised couch, who can go to sleep at any
minute of the day or wake at any hour of the night.
In 1855 and 1857 our indefatigable traveller explored
the West of Thibet in company with the brothers
Schlagintweit, bringing back curious observations
in ethnography. During these different expeditions
Samuel Fergusson was the most active and interesting
correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, the penny paper
whose circulation is more than a hundred and forty
thousand a day. The doctor, therefore, was well
known, though he was not a member of any scientific
institution; he belonged neither to the Royal Geogra-
phical Societies of London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, nor
St. Petersburg; nor to the Traveller's Club, nor even to
the Royal Polytechnic Institution, presided over by his
friend the statistician Kokburn. Fergusson kept away
from these learned bodies, as he belonged to the church
militant, not the talking church; he found the time
better employed in searching than in discussing, in
discovering than in discoursing.
It is related that an Englishman went one day to
14 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
Geneva with the intention of visiting the lake; they
put him into one of those old vehicles in which the
seats are at the side, like an omnibus; now it happened
accidentally that our Englishman was placed with his
back to the lake; the vehicle peacefully accomplished
its round, during which he never once thought of
looking round, and he came back to London enchanted
with the Lake of Geneva.
Dr. Fergusson did turn round, and that more than
once, during his travels, and he turned round so well
that he had seen a great deal. In that he obeyed his
own nature, and being something of a fatalist, but of a
very orthodox fatalism, counting upon himself and
Providence, he said he was rather compelled than
attracted in his travels, and he went over the world
like a locomotive, not directing his own path, but
letting his path direct him.
His indifference to the applause of the Royal Society
was not astonishing; he was above vanity; the pro-
position he had addressed to Sir Francis M-- seemed
to him quite simple; he did not even perceive the im-
mense effect it had produced. After the sitting the
doctor was conducted to the Traveller's Club in Pall
Mall, where a banquet was offered him; the dimension
of the dishes was in accordance with the importance of
the personage, and the sturgeon which figured on the
table was only three inches less in length than Samuel
Numerous toasts were drunk in French wines to the
celebrated travellers who had made themselves illus-
trious on African soil. They drank to their health or
their memory in alphabetical order: to Abbadie,
Adams, Adamson, Anderson, Arnaud, Baikie, Bald-
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 15
win, Barth, Batouda, Beke, Beltrame, du Berba, Bim-
bachi, Bolognesi, Bolwik, Bolzoni, Bonnemain, Brisson,
Browne, Bruce, Brun-Rollet, Burchell, Burckhardt,
Burton, Caillaud, Cailli4, Campbell, Chapman, Clapper-
ton, Clot-Bey, Colomieu, Courval, Cumming, Cuny,
Debono, Decken, Denham, Desavanchers, Dicksen,
Dickson, Dochard, Duchaillu, Duncan, Durand,
Duroul6, Duveyrier, Erhardt, d'Escayrac de Lauture,
Ferret, Fresnel, Galinier, Galton, Geoffroy, Golberry,
Hahn, Halm, Harnier, Hecquart, Heuglin, Hornemann,
Houghton, Imbert, Kaufmann, Knoblecher, Krapf,
Summer, Lafargue, Laing, Lajaille, Lambert, Lamiral,
Lampriere, John Lander, Richard Lander, Lefebvre,
Lejean, Levaillant, Livingstone, McCarthie, Maggiar,
Maizan, Malzac, Moffat, Mollien, Mon'eiro, Morrisson,
Mungo-Park, Neimans, Overwev, Panet, Partarrieau,
Pascal, Pearse, Peddle, Peney, Petherick, Poncet, Prax,
Raffenel, Rath, Rebmann, Richardson, Riley, Ritchie,
Rochet d'Hericourt, Rongwi, Roscher, Ruppel, Saug-
nier, Speke, Steidner, Thibaud, Thompson, Thornton,
Toole, Tousny, Trotter, Tuckey, Tyrwitt, Vaudey,
Veyssifre, Vincent, Vinco, Vogel, Wahlberg, Waring-
ton, Washington, Werne, Wild, and lastly to Dr. Samuel
Fergusson, who by his incredible attempt would bind
together the works of these travellers and complete the
series of African discoveries.
16 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
AN ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY TELEGRAPH"-WAR
OF SCIENTIFIC NEWSPAPERS -- MR. PETERMANN
STANDS UP FOR HIS FRIEND DR. FERGUSSON-
KONER'S ANSWER-BETS- DIFFERENT PROPOSITIONS
MADE TO THE DOCTOR.
HE Daily Telegraph published the follow-
ing article in its issue of January 15th:-
Africa is going at last to give up the
secret of its vast solitudes; a modern
(Edipus means to solve for us the enigma
which has puzzled the savants of sixty centuries. The
search for the sources of the Nile, fontes Nill qucerere,
was looked upon as an insane undertaking, a problem
not to be solved. Three roads have been opened to
modern civilisation; one by Dr. Barth, who reached
Soudan by the route traced by Denham and Clapperton;
the second by Dr. Livingstone, who multiplied his
intrepid investigations from the Cape of Good Hope to
the basin of the Zambesi; and the third by Captains
Grant and Speke, who discovered the great interior
lakes; their point of intersection, which no traveller
has been able to reach, is the very heart of Africa. It
is towards that point that all effort must tend. The
labours of these courageous pioneers of science are
going to be connected together by the daring enterprise
of Dr. Fergusson, whose splendid explorations our
readers have often appreciated. This intrepid discoverer
proposes to cross Africa from east to west in a balloon.
If we are rightly informed, the starting-point of this
astounding journey will be the Island of Zanzibar on
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 17
the eastern coast. As to where it will end, Providence
alone knows. The proposition of this scientific ex-
ploration was made officially, yesterday, to the Royal
Geographical Society; a sum of a2,500 was voted for
the expenses of the expedition. We shall keep our
readers informed of the results of this enterprise with-
out precedent in geographical annals."
This article created an immense sensation; it raised
at first a storm of incredulity. Dr. Fergusson was
believed to be an invention of Mr. Barnum, who, after
having done" the United States, wanted to do" the
A joking answer appeared at Geneva in the Feb-
ruary number of Bulletins de la Socidtd Geographique,
laughing at the Royal Society of London, the Tra-
veller's Club, and the phenomenal sturgeon. But
Petermann, in his Mittheilungen, published at Gotha,
reduced the Geneva newspaper to silence. Petermann
knew Dr. Fergusson personally, and answered for the
intrepidity of his daring friend.
Doubt was soon no longer possible; preparations for
the journey were begun in London; the Lyons manu-
facturers received a special order for the balloon silk,
and the British Government put the transport ship,
the Resolute, under Captain Pennet, at the doctor's
disposition. Then immediately a thousand congratu-
lations broke out. The full details of the enterprise
appeared in the Bulletins of the Geographical Society
of Paris; a remarkable article was printed in the
Nouvelles Annales des Voyages, de la Geographie, de
l'Histoire et de l'Archologie, by M. V. A. Malte-Brun; a
circumstantial account was published in the Zeitschrift
fir Allgemeine Erdkunde, by Dr. Koner, demonstrating
18 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
victoriously the possibility of its journey, its chances of
success, the nature of the obstacles, the immense ad-
vantages of the aerial system of locomotion; it only
blamed the choice of the starting point; it suggested
Massowah, a little Abyssinian port, from whence James
Bruce started, in 1768, to discover the sources of the
Nile, as a better point. Otherwise, it admired without
reserve the energetic spirit of Dr. Fergusson, and the
iron heart that could conceive and attempt such a
The North American Review did not see with pleasure
the glory reserved to England; it laughed at the
doctor's proposition, and engaged him to go on to
America while he was about it. Without counting all
the other newspapers, there was not one scientific pub-
lication, from the French Journal des Missions Evan-
geliques to the Revue Algerienne et Coloniale, from theAn-
nales de la Propagation de laFoi to the Church Missionary
Intelligence, which did not relate the facts in all forms.
Considerable stakes were laid all over England,
firstly, on the real or supposed existence of Dr. Fer-
gusson; secondly, on the journey itself, as to whether it
would or would not be attempted; thirdly, on whether
it would or would not succeed; and fourthly, on the
probability or improbability of Dr. Fergusson's return.
Sums as enormous as those staked on the Derby were
risked. Believers, the incredulous, the learned or the
ignorant, all had their eyes fixed on the doctor; he
became the lion of the day, without having the least
idea that he wore a mane. He willingly gave all in-
formation about his expedition. He was easily ap-
proached, and the most natural man in the world.
More than one bold adventurer presented himself who
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 19
wished to partake of the glory and dangers of the
enterprise; but the doctor refused them without giving
reasons for his refusal.
Numerous inventors of mechanisms applicable to the
direction of balloons came to propose their system.
He would accept none. When he was asked if he had
discovered anything on that matter himself, he con-
stantly refused all explanation, and occupied himself
more actively than ever with preparations for his
THE DOCTOR'S FRIEND-DATE OF THEIR FRIENDSHIP-
DICK KENNEDY IN LONDON--UNEXPECTED BUT NOT
REASSURING PROPOSITION-A NOT VERY CONSOLING
PROVERB-A FEW WORDS ON AFRICAN MARTYROLOGY
-ADVENTURES OF AN AEROSTAT-DR. FERGUSSON'S
R. FERGUSSON had a friend, not
another self, an alter ego; friendship
cannot exist between natures absolutely
identical. But though they possessed
distinct qualities, aptitudes, and tempe-
raments, Dick Kennedy and Samuel Fergusson were
not the less united; on the contrary. Dick Kennedy
was a Scotchman in every acceptation of the term-
frank, resolute, and obstinate. He lived in the little
town of Leith, near Edinburgh. He was an indefatig-
able angler and sportsman, and was renowned for his
skill in shooting; he not only hit a knife blade with his
balls, but he cut them in such equal halves that, if they
20 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
were weighed, no appreciable difference could be found.
Kennedy's physiognomy reminded one of that of Halbert
Glendinning, in Scott's Monastery;" he was more than
six feet high; graceful and easy, he appeared to be
endowed with herculean strength; a face bronzed by
the sun, quick black eyes, and natural energy, all spoke
in his favour. The acquaintance of the two friends
began in India, when they both belonged to the same
regiment; whilst Dick hunted the tiger on elephant,
Samuel hunted plants or insects; each was skilful in
his way, and more than one plant became the doctor's
prey, which had cost as much to win as a pair of ivory
tusks. These two young men never had occasion to
save each other's life, or to render each other any
service. Their friendship had been, therefore unalter-
able. Destiny separated them sometimes, but sympathy
united them always. Since their return to England,
they had been separated by the doctor's distant expedi-
tions; but, on his return, Fergusson never failed to go,
uninvited, and spend some weeks with his Scotch friend.
Dick talked about the past, Samuel about the future;
one looked forward, the other backward.
After his journey to Thibet, the doctor remained
nearly two years without talking of new explorations;
Dick supposed that his travelling instincts, his appetite
for adventure, were calmed, and he rejoiced. He
thought that, one day or other, that would end unfortu-
nately. However much accustomed a man might be
he could not travel amongst anthropophagi and wild
beasts with impunity; Kennedy advised Samuel to rest
content, as he had done enough for science, and too
much for human gratitude. To that advice the doctor
said nothing; he remained pensive, occupied with secret
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 21
calculations, passing his nights working at figures and
making experiments with singular machines, which no-
body could make anything of. Some great thought
was evidently fermenting in his brain.
"What can he be ruminating?" asked Kennedy of
himself when his friend had left him to return to
London in the month of January. He learnt what it
was one morning in the Daily Telegraph.
The madman! the fool!" cried he, cross Africa in
a balloon! That's what he has been meditating for
two years, is it?"
In the place of all these points of exclamation, place
a blow of the fist on the table, and you will have some
idea of the exercise Dick took as he was speaking thus.
When his housekeeper, old Elspeth, suggested that it
might be a hoax, he answered-
"Don't I know him ? Isn't it just like him ? Wants
to travel through the air, ambitious of the eagles, is
he? I'll take care he shan't. Why, if I'd let him,
he would be starting for the moon one of these fine
That same evening Kennedy, half uneasy, half exr
asperated, took the train at the general railway station,
and arrived the next morning in London. Three
quarters of an hour after, a cab deposited him at the
door of the doctor's little house in Greek Street, Soho
Square; he walked up the steps and gave five solid
knocks. Fergusson opened the door himself.
"Dick ?" said he, not looking very astonished.
"Dick himself!" answered Kennedy.
"Why, what brings you to London in the shooting
season ?" *
"I came to prevent a mad act !"
22 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
"What mad act?"
"Is this article true ?" asked Kennedy, holding out
the Daily Telegraph.
Oh, that's what you mean! Those papers are gos-
siping things. But sit down, old fellow."
"I won't sit down Do you seriously mean to under-
take that journey F"
Certainly. My preparations are getting on nicely,
and I- "
Confound your preparations!" The worthy Scotch.
man was getting angry.
"I see, you are angry because I did not inform you
of my new projects !"
He calls that 'new projects!'"
"I have been very busy," said Samuel, not noticing
the interruption. "I've had a good deal to do But
I should not have gone without writing--"
A great deal I care for that--"
Because I mean to take you with me."
The Scotchman made a jump that a chamois would
not have been ashamed of.
"Do you want them to shut us both up in Bedlam ?"
I positively count upon you, Dick, and I chose you
in preference to many others."
Kennedy still seemed stupified.
"When you have listened to me for ten minutes,"
answered the doctor, quietly, you will thank me for it."
Are you talking seriously ?"
"And suppose I won't go ?"
"You will go."
"But if I won't ?"
"I shall go alone."
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 23
"Well, let's sit down and talk calmly. If you are
not joking, it is worth hearing about."
"We will talk while we breakfast, if you have no
The two friends sat down opposite each other at a
little table, with a plate of sandwiches and an enor-
mous teapot between them.
"My dear Samuel," said the sportsman, your pro-
ject is insane! There seems nothing serious or prac-
ticable in it."
Well, we shall see that when we have tried it."
But that's just what we can't do."
Why look at the danger and the obstacles of every
Obstacles," answered Fergusson, seriously, "were
made to be vanquished. As to danger, who is free from
it ? It may be very dangerous to sit down to table or
to put one's hat on; besides, we must consider that
what is to happen has happened, and only to see the
present in the future, for the future is only the present
at a distance."
That's all, is it?" said Kennedy, shrugging his
shoulders. You are still a fatalist, I see."
"Always, bat in the good sense of the word. We
must not think of what Destiny has in store for us,
and never forget the good old English proverb-' The
man born to be hanged will never be drowned.' "
There was no answer possible, but that did not
prevent Kennedy going over a long series of argu-
ments, easy to imagine, but too long to report
"Well," he said, after an hour's discussion, if you
24 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
must positively get across Africa, why don't you try
one of the ordinary routes ?"
"Why ?" answered the doctor, getting animated,
"because, up till now, all such attempts have failed-
because, since Mungo Park, who was assassinated on the
Niger, to Vogel, who disappeared in the Wadai; since
Oudney, who died at Murmur, and Clapperton, who
died at Sackatou, to the Frenchman, Maizan, who was
cut to pieces; since Major Laing, who was killed by
the Touaregs, to Roscher, of Hamburg, who was mas-
sacred in the beginning of 1860, numerous victims have
been inscribed in the African martyrology-because it
is impossible to struggle against hunger, cold, and
fever; against wild animals and tribes wilder still-
because, in short, what cannot be done in one way must
be done in another-because, lastly, where we cannot
pass through, we must pass across !"
If it was only a question of passing across !" replied
Kennedy, but passing over- "
"Well," said the doctor, with the utmost coolness,
what have I to fear? I suppose you will allow that
I've taken my precautions against the balloon falling ?
If it fail me, I shall find myself on the ground in the
normal condition of other travellers; but my balloon
will not fail me."
But it may fail you."
"No; I do not mean to do without it till I get on to
the west side of Africa. With it, everything is pos-
sible; without it, I should fall amongst the dangers and
obstacles natural to such an expedition; with it, neither
heat, nor torrents, nor tempests, nor the simoon, nor
insalubrious climates, nor wild animals, nor men, are to
'be feared. If I am too warm, I mount; if I am cold,
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 23
I descend. I can pass over mountains, precipices,
rivers, and even dominate storms. I journey without
fatigue, and stop without having need of rest. I soar
over new cities. I fly with the rapidity of the storm,
sometimes high in the air, sometimes at a hundred feet
from the ground, and the map of Africa stretches itself
out under my feet !"
Fergusson's enthusiasm began to gain Kennedy, and
yet the spectacle evoked before his eyes made him
giddy. He contemplated his friend with admiration,
but with fear too. He already felt himself balanced in
"Then you have found the means of directing
"Not at all; that is utopian."
"Then you will go--"
Where it pleases Providence, but certainly from
east to west."
"How so ?"
"Because I count upon taking advantage of the
"Ah!" said-Kennedy, reflecting, the trade winds-
I did not think of them. Something might be done--"
Of course, everything might be done. The English
Government has put a transport ship at my disposition;
it has also been agreed that three or four vessels should
cruise on the west coast about the presumed epoch of
my arrival. In three months, at the most, I shall be
at Zanzibar, where I shall inflate the balloon, and from
thence we shall start- "
We!" said Dick.
Have you still the slightest objection to make?"
I have a thousand, but amongst others this: if you
26 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
mean to see the country, to mount and descend, you
cannot do it without losing some of your gas. That
is what has always prevented long journeys in the
"You are mistaken; I shall not lose a particle of
gas, not a molecule."
"And shall you be able to come down when you
"That is my secret, friend Dick. Have confidence,
and let my motto be yours: 'Excelsior !' "
"' Excelsior!' be it," replied the sportsman, who did
not know one word of Latin. But he was determined to
oppose, by all means in his power, the departure of his
friend. For the present he pretended to be convinced.
As to Samuel, he went to overlook his preparations.
AFRICAN EXPLORATIONS-BARTH, RICHARDSON, OVER
WEG, WERE, BRUN-ROLLET, PENEY, ANDREA-DEBONO,
MIANI, GUILLAUME LEJEAN, BRUCE, KRAPF AND REB-
MANN, MAIZAN, ROSCHER, BURTON, AND SPEKE.
HE aerial line which Dr. Fergusson meant
to follow had not been chosen at hazard;
his starting point had been selected
seriously, and it was not without reason
that he had fixed upon the island of
Zanzibar for his ascension. Zanzibar is situated in the
6 of austral latitude, that is to say at 430 miles below
the equator. The last expedition sent to discover the
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 27
sources of the Nile by way of the Great Lakes had just
started from that island.
The expeditions that Dr. Fergusson hoped to connect
were principally those of Dr. Barth, in 1849, and Burton
and Speke's, in 1858.
Dr. Barth was a native of Hamburg, who obtained
permission for his countryman Overweg and himself to
join the expedition of the Englishman Richardson,
which was charged with a mission to Soudan. That
vast country is situated between 150 and 10 of north
latitude-that is to say, that to get there, you must
advance about 1,500 miles into the interior of Africa.
Up till then this country had only been known by the
travels of Denham, Clapperton, and Oudney, from 1822
to 1824. Richardson, Barth, and Overweg, wishing to
investigate farther, reached Tunis and Tripoli like their
predecessors, but passed on to Murzuk, capital of
Fezzan. They then abandoned the perpendicular line,
and turned westward towards Ghat, guided, not with-
out difficulty, by the Touaregs. After many scenes of
pillage, vexation, and armed attacks, their caravan
arrived in October at the vast oasis of Asben. Dr. Barth
there left his companions, and made an excursion to the
town of AghadEs; he returned to the caravan, and it
set out again on December 12th. They arrived at the
province of Damerghou; there the three travellers
separated, and Barth took the route to Kans, which he
reached by dint of patience, and by paying considerable
tributes. Notwithstanding an intense fever, he left that
town on the 7th of March, followed by a single servant.
The principal goal of his journey was Lake Tchad,
from which he was still separated by 350 miles. He
advanced eastward, and reached the town of Zouricolo,
28 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
in Bornou, which is the kernel of the great central
empire of Africa. There he learnt the death of Richard-
son, killed by fatigue and privations. He arrived at
Kouka, capital of Bornou, on the borders of the lake.
At last, at the end of three weeks, on the 14th of April,
twelve months and a half after he had left Tripoli, he
reached the town of Ngornow. We find him leaving on
the 29th of March, 1851, with Overweg, to visit the
kingdom of Adamawa, to the south of the lake; he
reached the town of Zola, a little below 90 north lati-
tude. That was the extreme southern limit attained
by the courageous traveller. He came baek in the
month of August to Kouka, from thence he went over
Mandara, Barghimi,Kanem, and reached, as his extreme
limit on the east, the town of Massena, situated on
170 20' west longitude. On the 25th of November,
1852, after the death of Overweg, his last companion,
he travelled westward, visited Sackotou, crossed the
Niger, and arrived at last at Timbuctoo, where he
languished for eight long months, in the midst of misery
and bad treatment from the sheik. But the presence
of a Christian in the town could no longer be tolerated;
the Foullannes threatened to besiege it. The doctor,
therefore, left it on the 17th of March, 1854, took
refuge on the frontier, where he remained for thirty-
three days in the completest destitution, came back to
Kano in November, re-entered Kouka, from whence he
took Denham's route, after four months of waiting; he
saw Tripoli again about the end of August, 1855, and
reached London on the 6th of September, having lost
all his companions.
Dr. Fergusson noted carefully that he had stopped
at 4 of north latitude by 17 of west longitude.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 29
Now let us see what Burton and Speke did in Eastern
Africa. The different expeditions which had gone up
the Nile had never been able to reach the mysterious
sources of the river. According to the relation of the
German doctor, Ferdinand Werne, the expedition,
attempted in 1840, under the auspices of Mehemet All,
stopped at Gondokoro, between the 4 and 5' north
In 1855, Brun-Rollet, who was sent as Sardinian
consul in Eastern Soudan, in the place of Vaudey, who
had died there, started from Karthoum, and under the
name of the merchant Yacoub, trafficking in gum and
ivory, he reached Belenia, beyond the 40, and returned
ill to Karthoum, where he died in 1857. Neither
Doctor Peney, chief of the Egyptian Medical Service,
who, in a little steamer, reached one degree below
Gondokoro and came back to die of exhaustion at
Karthoum; nor the Venetian Miani, who went round
the cataracts situated below Gondokoro, and reached
the 20 parallel; nor the Maltese merchant Andrea-
Debono, who went farther still along the Nile; none
could reach their goal.
In 1859 M. Guillaume Lejean, charged with a mission
by the French Government, went to Karthoum by the
Red Sea, embarked on the Nile with a crew of twenty-
one men and twenty soldiers; but he could not pass
Gondokoro, and ran the greatest risks amongst negroes
in open revolt. The expedition directed by M. d'Esay-
rac de Lauture also attempted to reach the famous
sources. But the fatal limit always stopped travellers;
the men sent by Nero reached the 9th degree of
latitude. So that, in eighteen centuries, only five or six
degrees, or three hundred and sixty miles, had been
30 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
gained. Several travellers tried to reach the sources
of the Nile by starting from the Eastern Coast of
From 1768 to 1772, the Scotchman Bruce, who
started from the Abyssinian Port Massowah, went over
Tigre, visited the ruins of Axum, saw the sources of
the Nile where they did not exist, and obtained no
In 1844, Dr. Krapf, an Anglican missionary, founded
a settlement at Mombaz, on the coast of Zanzibar,
and discovered, in company with the Rev. Mr. Rebmann,
two mountains at 300 miles from the coast; they were
the Mounts Kilimandjaro and Kenia, which Messrs.
Ieuglin and Thornton had partly climbed.
In 1845, the Frenchman, Maizan, landed alone at
Bagamayo, opposite Zanzibar, and reached Deje-la-
Mhora, where the chief caused him to be put to death
in cruel torments.
In 1859, in the month of August, the young traveller
Roscher, of Hamburg, started with a caravan of
Arabian merchants, and reached Lake Nyassa, where
he was assassinated in his sleep.
Lastly, in 1857, Lieutenants Burton and Speke, two
officers of the Bengal army, were sent by the Geogra-
phical Society of London to explore the great African
lakes; they left Zanzibar on the 17th of June, and
started west at once. After four months of unheard-
of suffering, their luggage pillaged, their porters assas-
sinated, they reached Kazeh, a central meeting-place
for traffickers and caravans; they were in the midst of
the Moon country; there they compiled precious docu-
ments on the manners, government, religion, faune and
flora, of the country; then they directed their steps
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 31
towards the first of the great lakes, the Tanganayika,
situated between the 30 and 8 of austral latitude;
they reached it on the 14th of February, 1858, and
visited the different tribes on its banks, for the most
They set out again on the 26th of May, and re-entered
Kazeh on the 20th of June. There, Burton, who was
worn out, remained three months ill; during that time
Speke went north about 300 miles, as far as Lake Ouke-
reoue, which he perceived on the 3rd of August; but
he could only see the opening by 2' 30' latitude. He
was back at Kazeh on the 25th of August, and set out
again with Burton on the way to Zanzibar, which they
reached in the month of March of the following year.
The two brave explorers then came back to England,
and the Paris Geographical Society awarded them their
Dr. Fergusson carefully noted that they had neither
cleared the 2 of austral latitude nor the 290 of east
longitude. He wished, therefore, to unite the explo-
rations of Burton and Speke to those of Dr. Barth---
that is, he meant to cross an extent of country
stretching for more than twelve degrees.
32 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
KENNEDY S DREAMS-THE PLURAL OF ARTICLES AND
PRONOUNS-DICK'S INSINUATIONS-PROMENADE ON
THE AFRICAN MAP-WHAT REMAINS BETWEEN THE
TWO POINTS OF THE COMPASS-PRESENT EXPEDI-
TIONS SPEKE AND GRANT KRAPF, DECKEN,
R. FERGUSSON hurried on the prepara-
tions for departure. He directed the
construction of his balloon according to
several modifications, upon which he kept
complete silence. He had been studying
Arabian and some of the Mandinguian dialects; thanks
to his polyglot aptitude, he made rapid progress. In
the meantime his sportsman friend never left him. No
doubt he feared that the doctor would take flight with-
out warning; he still plied him with the most per-
suasive arguments, which did not persuade Samuel
Fergusson, and made pathetic supplications, which left
his friend unmoved. Dick felt that he had no hold
upon him. The poor Scotchman was really to be
pitied; he could not contemplate the azure vault with.
out sombre terror; when he slept, he felt giddy
oscillations, and every night he felt himself fall from
incommensurable heights. During these horrible
nightmares, he fell out of bed once or twice. He
showed Fergusson a great bump he had received on the
And yet," said he with melancholy, it was only
three feet! not more and see what a bruise 1"
The doctor was nowise moved.
"We shall not fall," he said.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 33
"But suppose we do ?"
"We shall not."
That was clear, and Kennedy had no answer to make.
What exasperated him most was that the doctor seemed
to ignore his personalty altogether; he seemed to
consider him irrevocably destined to become his aerial
companion. Samuel made an irritating use of the
plural pronoun in the first person.
We" are getting on. We" shall be ready.
"We" shall start on the- "Our" balloon.
"Our" exploration. "Our" preparations, etc.
Dick shuddered at it, though he was determined not
to go; but he did not wish to thwart his friend too
much. Without very well knowing why, he had sent
to Edinburgh for some suitable garments and his best
guns. One day, after having acknowledged that with
great good luck there was one chance in a thousand of
succeeding, he pretended to give in to his friend's
wishes; but, in order to put off the journey, he looked
up all possible loopholes of escape. From attacking
the means, he began to attack the end. Was it truly
necessary to discover the sources of the Nile ? Should
they have really worked for the good of humanity?
Supposing that the African tribes were to be civilised,
would they be any the happier for it? Were they
certain that the European was the true civilisation-
might not the African be better? Could not they
wait longer? Africa would certainly be traversed
some day, and in a less hazardous way. In a month
six months, a year, some explorer may have reached
the goal. These insinuations produced quite a con-
trary effect to the one they were meant to produce and
made the doctor more impatient to start.
34 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
Why Dick, you would not like another to reap that
glory! You would not like me to repay, by cowardly
hesitations, what the Government and the Royal Society
have done for me!"
"But- said Kennedy, who now habitually used
But," said the doctor, don't you know that my
journey will help present explorers? Don't you know
that there are some now in the interior of Africa."
"Listen to me, Dick, and look at this map."
Dick looked resignedly.
"Follow the Nile to Gondokoro," said the doctor.
"I have it," answered Kennedy.
"Take the compass and stick one point on that town,
which the bravest have scarcely passed, and look on the
coast of Zanzibar for 6 south latitude."
"Here it is !"
"Now follow the parallel till you get to Kazeh."
"I have it."
"Now ascend by the 330 of longitude to the opening
of Lake Oukereoue, where Lieutenant Speke stopped."
"Here I am; a little more, and I should have fallen
into the lake."
"Well, do you know what we have the right to
suppose from the information the bank tribes give ?"
"I can't think."
"It is that this lake, whose lower extremity is
situated by latitude 20 30', must extend equally two
and a half degrees above the Equator; from that
northern extremity a water course springs which must
join the Nile, if it is not the Nile itself."
"That is curious,"
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 35
"Now, stick the other point of the compass on this
extremity of Lake Oukereoue, and see how many degrees
there are between these two points."
There are scarcely two."
"Do you know how far that is ?"
"Not the least in the world."
It is scarcely a hundred and twenty miles; that is
to say-nothing. Well, do you know what is going on
The Geographical Society considered the exploration
of the lake perceived by Speke as very important.
Under its auspices, the lieutenant, now Captain Speke,
has associated himself with Captain Grant of the
Indian army; they are at the head of a numerous
expedition, with large subsidies; they are commissioned
to ascend the lake, and to come back as far as Gon-
dokoro; they have received a grant of more than
5,000, and the governor of the Cape has put some
Hottentot soldiers at their disposition; they left
Zanzibar at the end of October, 1860. During this
time, Mr. John Petherick, Her Majesty's consul at
Karthoum, has received about 700 from the Foreign
Office to equip a steamboat at Karthoum, load it with
a sufficient quantity of provisions, and take them to
Gondokoro; there he is to wait for Captain Speke's
expedition and revictual it."
"That was a good idea," said Kennedy.
"You see we must make haste if we want to par-
ticipate in the exploration. And that is not all; whilst
some are marching surely to discover the Nile sources,
other travellers are marching boldly into the very heart
36 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
"On foot ?" said Kennedy.
"On foot," answered the doctor, not noticing the
insinuation. Doctor Krapf proposes to push west by
the Djole, a river situated below the Equator. The
Baron de Decken has quitted Mombaz, surveyed the
mountains of Kenia and Kilimandjaro, and has plunged
into the centre."
"'" Still on foot ?"
": Yes, or on a mule's back."
"That's the same thing to me," replied Kennedy.
"Lastly," continued the doctor, "De Heuglin,
Austrian vice-consul at Karthoum, has just organised
a very important expedition, in order, first, to look for
the traveller Vogel, who, in 1853, was sent to Soudan
to join Dr. Barth. In 1850 he left Bornou, and resolved
to explore the unknown country which extends between
Lake Tchad and the Darfour. Since that time nothing
has been heard of him. Letters received at Alexandria
in 1860 reported him to have been assassinated by the
orders of the King of Wadai; but other letters,
addressed by Dr. Hartmann to the traveller's father,
say that, according to information received from a
fellatah of Bornou, Vogel is only retained prisoner at
Wara; therefore, all hope is not lost. A committee
has been formed under the presidency of the Duke
Regent of Cobourg-Gotha; my friend Petermann is the
secretary of it; a national subscription has paid the
expenses of the expedition, and to it a great number of
scientific men have subscribed; De Heuglin started
from Massowah in the month of June, and while he is
looking for Vogel, he is to explore the country between
the Nile and the Tchad-that is to say, to connect
Captain Speke's operations with those of Dr. Barth.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 37
Then Africa will have been crossed from east to west."
[After Dr. Fergusson's departure, news was received
that De Heuglin, in consequence of some discussion, took
a different route to that assigned to his expedition, the
command of which was intrusted to Herr Munzinger.]
"Well," answered the Scotchman as it is all going
on so nicely, what do we want there ?"
Dr. Fergusson did not answer, and contented himself
with shrugging his shoulders.
A RARE SERVANT-HE PERCEIVES JUPITER'S SATELLITES
-DICK AND JOE CLASH-DOUBT AND BELIEF-THE
WEIGHING-JOE WELLINGTON-HE RECEIVES HALF-
R. FERGUSSON had a servant; he an-
swered to the name of Joe; he was de-
votedly faithful to his master, anticipated
his orders, and executed them intelligently;
Ia Caleb who did not grumble, and was
always good-tempered. Fergusson left all the details
of every-day existence to him, and he never repented.
Rare and honest Joe A servant who commands your
dinner, and whose taste is yours, who packs your
portmanteau, and forgets neither socks nor shirts, who
possesses your keys and your secrets, and does not
abuse your confidence! Joe received all Fergusson's
decisions with respect and confidence. When the
doctor had spoken there was nothing more to be said,
All he thought was right, all he did sensible; all he
commanded manageable; all he undertook possible; all
38 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
he achieved admirable. You might have cut Joe in pieces
without changing his opinion about his master; there-
fore, when the doctor conceived the project of crossing
Africa in the air, it was already done for Joe; no
obstacles any longer existed; as soon as Dr. Fergusson
had resolved to start, he was there, with his faithful
servant, for the brave fellow knew he was going too,
though he never mentioned it. He would be of the
greatest service on account of his intelligence and
marvellous agility. If it had been necessary to nomi-
nate a professor of gymnastics for the monkeys of
the Zoological Gardens, Joe would certainly have
obtained the place. He thought nothing of jumping,
climbing, flying, and executing'a thousand impossible
If Fergusson must be the head and Kennedy the
arm, Joe would still be the hand. He had already
accompanied his master in several journeys, and pos-
sessed some tincture of science in his way; but he was,
above all, distinguished for an optimist philosophy; he
thought everything easy, logical, natural, and in con-
sequence he ignored the need of pining or repining.
Amongst other qualities, he possessed a powerful extent
of vision; like Moestlin, the master of Kepler, he pos-
sessed the rare faculty of being able to distinguish,
without glasses, the satellites of Jupiter, and of count-
ing fourteen stars in the pleiades, some being of the
ninth magnitude. He was not conceited of his eyes,
but he knew how to use them.
With Joe's confidence in the doctor it is not astonish-
. ing that incessant discussions arose between Kennedy
and the worthy man-servant, and who kept all deference
notwithstanding. The one doubted, the other believed
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 39
one was clear-sighted prudence, the other blind con-
"Well, Mr. Kennedy?" said Joe.
"Well, my man?"
The time's getting on. It seems we are going to
embark for the moon."
You mean the land of the Moon, which is not quite
so far, but I daresay it is as dangerous."
Dangerous with a man like Dr. Fergusson!"
"I don't want to spoil your illusions, Joe, but what
he has undertaken now is simply madness; he'll never
"Never go Why, haven't you seen the balloon in
Mitchell's workshop in the Borough?"
"No; I'll take care I don't go to see it."
"You lose a fine sight, sir. It's very pretty-such
a pretty shape, and the car is charming! We shall be
downright comfortable in it."
"Then you really mean to go with your master ?"
Of course," said Joe, seriously. I will go where
he likes. How could I let him go by himself, when
we've been all about the world together? Who would
see to him when he was tired ? Who would lend him a
hand to jump a precipice? Who would take care of
him if he fell ill? No, Mr. Dick, Joe will never desert
his post near the doctor."
Brave fellow !"
Besides, you are coming with us," said Joe.
"Of course; that is to say, I'm going with you to
prevent Samuel committing such a folly at the last
minute. I shall go with him as far as Zanzibar, so
that a friend's hand may stop his insane project."
"You will stop nothing at all, Mr. Kennedy, excuse
40 Five Veeks in a Balloon.
me for saying so. My master knows what he is about;
he thinks a good while before he undertakes anything,
but when he has, nobody could change him."
Well, we shall see."
"Don't flatter yourself with that hope. The most
important thing is that you should come. Africa is a
marvellous country for a sportsman like you. Any-
how, you are sure not to regret your journey."
"No, certainly I shall not regret it, especially if I
make the obstinate fellow surrender to evidence."
Did you know," said Joe, that we are all going to
be weighed to-day ?"
"What! like jockeys ?"
Yes, only you won't have to train; you can go as
I certainly won't be weighed," said the Scotchman,
"But, sir, it seems it is necessary for the machine."
"Well, his machine must do without it."
"It can't; the calculation, it seems, must be exact.
Why, suppose we can't ascend ?"
"That's all I ask for."
Come, Mr. Kennedy, the master's coming for you
I won't go."
"You would not give him that pain ?"
You speak like that because he is not here; but
when he asks you, you will go."
At this moment the doctor entered his study, where
this conversation was held; he looked at Kennedy, who
did not feel very comfortable.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 41
"Dick," said the doctor, come with Joe; I want to
see what you both weigh."
"Here's your hat. Come."
And Kennedy went. They all three repaired to
Messrs. Mitchell's workshops, where a weighing
machine had been prepared. The doctor was obliged
to know his companions' weight, in order to establish
the balance of his balloon.
He made Dick get on the scales; he did not resist,
but contented himself with muttering, That's all very
well, but it does not engage me to anything."
A hundred and fifty-three pounds," said the doctor,
putting it down in his note-book.
Am I too heavy ?"
No, Mr. Kennedy," replied Joe; "besides, I am
light, that will compensate." Saying which, Joe
leaped into the scales, and almost overturned them as
he did so, took the pose of the Achilles at the entrance
to Hyde Park, and was magnificent even without the
"A hundred and twenty pounds," wrote the doctor.
"My turn now," said Fergusson, and he wrote down
a hundred and thirty-five pounds on his own account.
"We do not weigh more than four hundred pounds
altogether," said he.
"I can get myself down twenty pounds if it is
necessary to your expedition," said Joe.
That would be useless," said the doctor; eat as
much as you like, and here's half-a-crown for you."
42 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
GEOMETRICAL DETAILS CALCULATION OF THE
BALLOON'S CAPACITY-THE DOUBLE BALLOON-THE
ENVELOPE-THE CAR-THE MYSTERIOUS APPARATUS
-THE PROVISIONS-THE FINAL ADDITION.
R. FERGUSSON had been long pre-
occupied with the details of his expedition.
The balloon, that marvellous vehicle
destined to transport him in the air, was
S the object of his constant solicitude.
First of all, and in order that the balloon might not be.
too large, he resolved to inflate it with hydrogen gas,
which is fourteen and a-half times lighter than air.
The production of this gas is easy, and it is the
one that has given the best results in aerostation.
The doctor, after very exact calculations, found that
with the objects indispensable for his journey and his
apparatus, he should have to take a weight of 4,000
pounds; he had then to calculate the force necessary
to raise that weight and what silk it must have.
A weight of 4,0001bs. is represented by a displace-
ment of air of 44,847 cubic feet, which means that
44,847 cubic feet of air weigh about 4,000 lbs. By
giving to the balloon this bulk of 44,847 cubic feet,
and by filling it, instead of air, with hydrogen gas,
which is 141 times lighter, and therefore only weighs
2761bs., there remains a difference of 3,7841bs. It is
this difference between the weight of the confined gas
and the weight of the surrounding air which constitutes
the ascending force of the balloon.
If the balloon were to be filled with the 44,847 cubic
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 43
feet of gas, of which we are speaking, it would be quite
filled, and that it ought not to be, because, as the
balloon ascends into the less dense strata of air, the
gas it confines has a tendency to dilate, and would soon
burst its envelope. Balloons, therefore, are only two-
thirds filled generally. But the doctor, in consequence
of a plan only known to himself, resolved to only half-
fill his balloon, and, since he was obliged to carry with
him 44,847 cubic feet of hydrogen, to make the capacity
of his balloon nearly double. He had it made in that
elongated form which is always considered preferable;
its horizontal diameter was 50 feet, and its vertical
diameter 75 feet. These dimensions are not extraor-
dinary; in 1784, at Lyons, M. Montgolfier constructed
a balloon with a capacity of 34,000 cubic feet, with
which he could raise a weight of 20 tons.
If Dr. Fergusson could have employed two balloons
his chances of success would have increased; in case
one should burst in the air, it would be possible to
keep up by means of the other by throwing out
ballast. But the manceuvring of two balloons becomes
very difficult when it is necessary to keep their
force of ascension equal. After long reflection, Fer-
gusson, by an ingenious invention, united the advan-
tages of two balloons without having their inconve-
niences; he had two constructed of unequal size, and
put one in the other. His exterior balloon, which had
the dimensions we have given above, contained a smaller
one of the same form, which was only 45 feet in hori-
zontal diameter, and 68 feet in vertical diameter. The
capacity of the interior balloon was therefore only of
67,000 cubic feet; it was to swim in the surrounding
fluid; an air-valve opened from one balloon to another,
44 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
so that in case of need they could be put into communi-
cation. That arrangement had this advantage, that if it
became nececesary to let out the gas in order to descend,
they would let out that in the larger balloon first; and
even if it had to be completely emptied, the smaller one
would remain intact; they could then get rid of the
exterior envelope as an inconvenient weight, and the
second balloon alone would not give the wind so much
hold as balloons do that are half inflated. What is
more, in the case of the exterior balloon being torn,the
other would be preserved.
Both balloons were made of twilled Lyons taffetas,
coated with gutta-percha, which substance is not only
waterproof, but it cannot be burst by either acids or
gas. The taffetas was double at the top, where almost
all the effort is made. This envelope could retain the
fluid for an unlimited time. Every nine square feet of
it weighed half a pound; the exterior surface of the
balloon being about 11,600 square feet, its envelope
weighed 650 lbs. The envelope of the second balloon
having 9,200 square feet of surface, only weighed 510
pounds; in all, 1,160 lbs.
The net destined to support the car was made of
very solid hempen cord; the two air-valves were made
the object of as minute care as the helm of a ship.
The car had a circular form, and was 15 feet in
diameter; it was made of wicker work, coated with a
light iron armour; it had springs underneath to soften
the shocks. Its weight, and that of the net, was not
more than 280 lbs.
The doctor had four sheet-iron cases made; they
were joined together by pipes, with taps in them; he
joined to it a serpentine about two inches in diameter,
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 45
which terminated in two straight branches of unequal
length, of which the larger was twenty-five feet high,
and the shorter fifteen only. The sheet-iron cases
were made to fit into the car, so as to take up the
least possible space; the serpentine, which was not
to be set up till later on, was packed up separately
along with a large electric voltaic pile. This ap-
paratus had been so ingeniously combined that it only
weighed 700 lbs., including 25 gallons of water con-
tained in a special case.
The instruments destined for the journey consisted
of two barometers, two thermometers, two mariner's
compasses, one sextant, two chronometers, an artificial
horizon, and an altimeter to reconnoitre distant and
inaccessible objects. The Greenwich Observatory put
itself at the doctor's disposition; but he did not pur-
pose making physical experiments, all he wanted to do
was to make out his direction and determine the posi-
tion of the principal rivers, mountains, and towns. He
took with him three well-proved iron anchors and a
silk rope-ladder, light yet strong, about fifty feet
He also calculated the exact weight of his provisions;
they consisted of tea, coffee, biscuits, salt meat, and
pemmican, a preparation of curries, making nutritive
elements in little volume. Independently of a suffi-
cient provision of brandy, he had two casks for water
set up, each containing 22 gallons. The consumption
of this food would, little by little, diminish the weight
raised by the balloon; the equilibrium of a balloon
in the air is extremely sensible. The loss of an almost
insignificant weight is sufficient to produce an appro-
priate displacement. The doctor did not forget a tent
46 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
to cover a part of the car, nor the rugs that were
to serve for beds, nor the sportsman's guns and his
provision of powder and bullets.
The following is the list of his different calcula-
Fergusson 135 lbs.
Kennedy 153 ,,
Joe 120 ,
Weight of the 1st balloon 650 ,,
"Weight of the 2nd balloon 510 ,,
Car and net 280 ,,
Anchors, instruments, guns, rugs,
tent, and utensils .190 ,,
Meat, pemmican, biscuits, tea, coffee,
and brandy .386 ,,
Water 400 ,,
Apparatus 700 ,,
Weight of hydrogen 276 ,,
Ballast 200 ,,
Total. 4,000 ,,
The doctor only took 200 lbs. of ballast "in case of
any unforeseen event," he said, but he did not count
upon wanting it, thanks to his apparatus.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 47
JOE'S IMPORTANCE THE COMMANDER OF THE
FAREWELL DINNER-DEPARTURE ON FEBRUARY 21ST
-THE DOCTOR'S SCIENTIFIC LECTURES-DUVEYRIER,
LIVINGSTONE-DETAILS OF THE AERIAL JOURNEY-
KENNEDY REDUCED TO SILENCE.
HE preparations were nearly ended by the
10th of February; the balloons were quite
finished, and one was inclosed in the
other; they had been inflated, and found
Joe's importance was comical to see ; he spent his
time between Greek Street and Messrs. Mitchell's work-
shops, always busy and yet always glad to give any
information about the details of the affair, even to the
people who asked him for none; he was very proud of
being chosen to accompany his master. It is probable
that he often had a half-crown slipped into his hand for
showing the balloon or talking about the doctor's ideas
and plans, or pointing him out to the passers by.
On the 16th of February the Resolute anchored at
Greenwich; she was a screw-ship of 800 tons burden;.
she had been intrusted with the revictualling of Sir
James Ross's last expedition to the Polar Regions. The
commander, Pennet, was said to be an amiable man; he
was particularly interested in the doctor's journey.
Pennet was more of a savant than a soldier, but that
did not prevent his vessel carrying four guns which
had never hurt any one, and had only been used to
make a peaceful noise. The hold of the Resolute had
been arranged for the reception of the balloon, and it
48 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
was embarked with the greatest precautions on the
18th of February. Fergusson presided over the pack-
ing of the balloon and its accessories, the anchors,
cords, provisions, water-casks, &c. Ten tons of sul-
phuric acid and ten tons of old iron were embarked
for the production of hydrogen gas. This quantity
was more than sufficient, but they were obliged to
prepare for possible loss. The apparatus destined for
the production of the gas, making about 20 barrels,
was placed at the bottom of the hold.
These different preparations were ended on the
evening of the 18th of February. Two comfortable
cabins awaited Dr. Fergusson and his friend Kennedy.
The latter, though he swore he would not go, went
on board with a whole hunting arsenal, two excellent
double-barrelled guns, and a rifle from the manufac-
tory of Purdey, Moore, and Dickson, of Edinburgh;
with the latter arm a sportsman could lodge a ball in
the eye of a chamois two thousand paces off; he
added two six-barrelled Colt revolvers for unforeseen
needs; his powder, cartridges, lead and balls, did not
exceed the weight assigned by the doctor.
The three travellers went on board on the 19th
February; they were received with great distinction
by the captain and his officers; the doctor, as calm
as ever, preoccupied only with his expedition; Dick,
moved, but determined not to show it; Joe in the
wildest spirits. On the 20th a grand farewell dinner
was given to Doctor Fergusson and Kennedy by the
Royal Geographical Society. Commander Pennet
and his officers were amongst the guests; numerous
toasts were drunk, and to his great confusion Dick
Kennedy's was amongst the number. After having
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 49
drunk "To the intrepid Fergusson, the glory of
England," they drank to the not less "Courageous
Kennedy, his daring companion." Dick blushed
deeply, which passed for modesty. The applause re-
doubled, Dick blushed more. A message from the
Queen arrived at dessert; she presented her com-
pliments to the two travellers, and hoped the enterprise
would succeed. The message was the occasion for
fresh toasts to her Gracious Majesty at midnight. After
touching farewells and warm shakes of the hand, the
guests separated. A boat from the Resolute was
waiting for them at Westminster Bridge. The com-
mander and his company of passengers and officers
embarked, and the rapid current of the Thames carried
them to Greenwich. At one o'clock in the morning
they were all asleep on board; the next day, the 21st
February, at three o'clock in the morning, the engines
snorted; at five o'clock the anchor was raised, and
under the impulsion of its screw the Resolute sailed
down the Thames. We need not say that all the con-
versation on board was about Dr. Fergusson's expedi-
tion. On seeing him, as on hearing him, he inspired so
much confidence, that soon no one but the Scotchman
questioned the success of his enterprise. During the
long idle hours of the voyage, the doctor gave real
geographical lectures in the officers' cabin. The young
men were much interested in the discoveries made in
Africa during the last forty years. He related the
explorations of Barth, Burton, Speke, and Grant. He
described a mysterious country, given up everywhere
to the investigations of science. In the north, the
young Duveyrier explored the Sahara, and brought
back to Paris the Touareg chiefs. The French Govern-
50 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
ment sent two expeditions, which, descending from the
north and coming west, met at Timbuctoo. On the
south the indefatigable Livingstone advanced towards
the Equator, and since March, 1862, he had been going
Sup the river Rovoonia in company with Mackenzie.
The 19th century would certainly not pass until Africa
had revealed the secrets buried in her bosom for six
thousand years. The interest df Fergusson's audience
was above all excited when he told them of the pre-
parations for his journey. They wished to verify his
calculations; they discussed them, and the doctor
entered frankly into the discussion. In general, they
were astonished at the relatively small quantity of
provisions he was taking with him. One day one of
the officers questioned him about it.
But how long do you suppose my journey is going
to last ? If you think we shall be months away, you are
very much mistaken; if it were prolonged we should be
lost; we should never arrive; there are not more than
3,500, say 4,000, miles from Zanzibar to the coast of
Senegal. Counting 240 miles every twelve hours,
which is not nearly so quick as the railway, by travel-
ling day and night we shall only want seven days to
But then you can see nothing. You will not be
able to survey the country, nor make any geographical
But," answered the doctor, if I am master of my
balloon, if I can ascend or descend at will, I shall stop
when I like; above all, when the currents are too violent."
"And you will meet with plenty of them," said
Commander Pennet; "there are hurricanes that go
more than 240 miles an hour."
Five W;eeks in a Balloon. 51
"You see," answered the doctor, with such rapidity,
we could cross Africa in 12 hours. We might get up
at Zanzibar and go to bed at St. Louis !"
"But," said an officer, "could a balloon be dragged
along at such a rate ?"
"It has been," answered Fergusson.
And the balloon resisted ?"
"Perfectly. It was at the time of Napoleon's
coronation in 1804. The aeronaut Garnerin launched a
balloon from Paris at 11 o'clock in the evening; it bore
the following inscription in gold letters:-' Paris,
25 frimaire, an XIII., Couronnement de 1'Empereur
Napol6on par S.S. Pie VII.' The next morning, at five
o'clock, the inhabitants of Rome saw the same balloon
fly over the Vatican, traverse the Roman Compagna,
and fall into the Lake of Bracciana. So you see,
gentlemen, a balloon can resist such speed."
"A balloon, yes, but a man ?" hazarded Kennedy.
A man, too! for a balloon is always immovable on
account of the air which surrounds it; it is not the
balloon that moves, it is the mass of air itself. You
may light a candle in your car, and the flame will not
move. An aerouaut, in Garnerin's balloon, would not
have suffered at all from its speed. Besides, I don't
mean to try the experience, and if I can anchor myself
during the night to some tree, or rise in the ground, I
shall be certain to do it. We are taking two months'
provisions with us, and nothing will prevent our skilful
sportsman furnishing us with game in abundance when
we touch land."
Ah! Mr. Kennedy, I do envy you," said a young
You will get both pleasure and glory," said another.
52 Five IWeeks in a Balloon.
Gentlemen," answered the sportsman, I am much
obliged for your compliments, but I cannot accept
"What!" they cried on all sides, "are you not
You do not mean to accompany Dr. Fergusson ?"
Not only I shall not accompany him, but I have
only come that I may stop him at the last moment."
All looks were turned towards the doctor.
Don't listen to him," he answered with his calm
air; "it is a thing you must not discuss with him; in
his heart he knows perfectly that he will go."
By St. Patrick," cried Kennedy, I vow--"
Don't vow anything, friend Dick. You are gauged,
weighed, your powder, your guns, and your bullets,
so there is nothing more to be said about it."
And in fact from that day till the arrival at Zanzibar
Dick did not open his mouth. He did not speak more
of that than of anything else. He was silent.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 53
DOUBLING THE CAPE-THE FORECASTLE-LECTURE ON
COSMOGRAPHY BY PROFESSOR JOE-ON THE MANAGE-
NENT OF BALLOONS-ON THE RESEARCH OF ATMOS-
HE Resolute steamed rapidly towards the
Cape of Good Hope. The weather kept
fine, although the sea became higher.
On the 30th of March, twenty-seven days
after the departure from London, Table
Mountain showed itself on the horizon. Cape Town,
situated at the foot of an amphitheatre of hills, appeared
through the marine telescopes, and soon the Resolute
weighed anchor in the port. But the captain only put
in to take coal; it was the work of one day; the next
day the vessel tacked south in order to double the
southern point of Africa, and into the Mozambique
Channel. It was not Joe's first voyage, and he had
soon found himself at home on board. Every one liked
him for his frankness and goodhumour. Some of his
master's celebrity was reflected upon him. He was
listened to like an oracle, and did not make more
mistakes than one. Whilst the doctor was lecturing to
the officers, Joe, in the forecastle, was lecturing, too,
about the aerial voyage, Joe had a great deal of trouble
in making the disbelieving minds accept the enterprise,
but once accepted, the imagination of the sailors, sti-
mulated by Joe's recital, knew no impossibility. He
persuaded his audience that after that journey many
others would be taken. It was only the beginning of
a long series of superhuman enterprises.
54 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
"You see," he said, "when they have once tasted
that sort of locomotion they will not be able to do
without it, and in our next expedition, instead of going
sideways, we shall go straight before us, always rising."
"Well, you will get to the moon then," said an
Oh, the moon is too common," replied Joe, "every-
body goes to the moon. Besides, there is no water, and
they are obliged to take an enormous provision of it,
and even atmosphere in phials, if they want to breathe."
That doesn't matter, if they can only find gin," said
a sailor, who was fond of that beverage.
But there is not any, old fellow. No, no moon for
us; but we will take a walk in the pretty stars, in the
charming planets my master had so often spoken to me
about. We will begin by visiting Saturn."
"The one that has a ring ?" asked the quarter-
"Yes, a wedding-ring; only they don't know what
has become of his wife !"
"What! you will go up as high as that?" said a
stupid cabin-boy; "your master must be the devil
"No! he is too good for that."
But after Saturn ?" asked one of the most impatient
of the audience.
Why, after Saturn, we will pay a visit to Jupiter; a
queer country, I can tell you, where the days are only
nine hours and a half long-a pleasant thing for idle
folks, and where the years are twelve years long-an
advantage for the people who have only six months to
live. It prolongs their existence a bit."
"Twelve years!" echoed the cabin-boy.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 55
"Yes, my boy; in that country you would still be
sucking, and that old fellow yonder, hard upon fifty,
would be a four-year-old baby."
You are trying to humbug us."
"Not a bit," answered Joe with assurance; "when you
persist in vegetating in this world, that's what happens
-you are as ignorant as owls. Come into Jupiter a bit
and you'll see. But you must put on your Sunday
going-to-meeting clothes, as they are very particular
And they laughed, but only half believed him; he
told them about Neptune, where the Jack tars are re-
ceived with honours; and Mars, where the military
element predominates to a tiresome degree. As to
Mercury, that was a horrid world, full of thieves and
tradesmen, who were so much alike that you could not
tell the ones from the others. He drew them an en-
chanting picture of Venus.
"When we come back from that expedition," said
the brilliant story-teller, "they will decorate us with
the southern cross that shines up there in the heaven's
"And you will have well earned it!" said the sailors.
While Joe was spinning yarns in the forecastle, the
doctor's instructive conversations went on. One day
he was talking about the management of balloons.
"I do not believe," he said, "that it is possible to
guide balloons. I know every system that has been
tried or proposed; not one has succeeded, not one has
been found practicable. You will readily understand
how deeply I have searched into this problem, as so
much of my scheme depends upon it; but I have not
been able to solve it with the means furnished by our
56 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
actual knowledge of mechanics. Some motive power
of extraordinary power and lightness must be dis-
covered. And even then, it would not resist anything
like strong currents. Till now, all efforts have been
devoted to directing the car rather than the balloon,
which is a mistake."
But," said some one, there are many resemblances
between a balloon and a ship that can be guided at
"No," answered Dr. Fergusson; there are few or
none. Air is infinitely less dense than water, in which
a ship is only half submerged, whilst a balloon is
plunged entirely in the atmosphere, and remains im-
movable on account of the air that surrounds it."
"Do you think, then, that there is no more to be
found out in aerostatic science ?"
"Certainly not. It must turn its attention to the
means of maintaining a balloon in favourable atmos-
pheric currents. As a balloon gets higher the currents
get much more uniform, and are constant in their di-
rection; they are no longer troubled by the mountains
and valleys along the surface of the globe, and that,
you know, is the principal cause of the changes in the
wind, and the unequal way it blows in. When we shall
once know these zones, we shall only have to place the
balloon in the one that will suit us."
"But," said Commander Pennet, "you will have
constantly to ascend and descend to get at them; that
is the real difficulty, doctor."
Why, commander ?"
"Of course, I mean in the long journeys, not short
But why, if you please ?"
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 57
"Because you can only mount by throwing out bal-
last, and only descend by losing gas; and your provi-
sion of gas will soon be exhausted."
"That is the real question; not how to guide balloons,
but how to make them rise or sink, without expending
the gas-which is their strength, their blood, their
You are right, doctor, and that is the difficulty that
has not yet been conquered."
"I beg your pardon, it has been conquered."
By whom ?"
"By you ?"
"I should not have been likely to risk crossing Africa
in a balloon, for in twenty-four hours all my gas would
have been gone!"
"But you did not say anything about that in
No; I did not wish to have it discussed in public.
That appeared to me useless. I made many preparatory
experiments in secret, and have been satisfied with
them; so I did not want to hear anything more about
May we ask you your secret, doctor ?"
This is it, gentlemen; my means are very simple."
The attention of the audience was carried to the
highest point, and the doctor continued tranquilly in
58 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
ANTERIOR EXPERIMENTS-THE DOCTOR'S FIVE CASKS
-THE BLOW-PIPE FOR GAS-THE AIR-STOVE-MAN-
NER OF WORKING-CERTAIN SUCCESS.
HE way to raise or sink a balloon with-
out losing gas or ballast has often been
sought. A French aeronaut, M. Meunier,
tried to attain his end by compressing air
in an interior receptacle. A Belgian,
Dr. Van Hecke, by means of wings and paddles de-
veloped a vertical force which would have been insuffi-
cient in the greater number of cases. The practical
results obtained by these two means were insignificant.
I resolved, therefore, to seek other means. First, I did
away with ballast, unless for major cases, such as the
rupture of my apparatus, or the obligation of rising
instantly to avoid any unforeseen obstacle. My means
of ascension and descension consist only in dilating or
compressing the gas inclosed in the balloon. This is
how I obtained that result. You saw that I had em-
barked five casks in the car that you did not know the
use of. The first contains about twenty-five gallons of
water, to which I add a few drops of sulphuric acid
to augment its conductability, and I decompose it
by means of a strong voltaic pile. Water, as you
know, is composed of two gases, hydrogen and oxygen.
The latter, under the action of the pile, is transferred
by its positive pole into a second cask. A third, placed
above this one, and of double capacity, receives the
hydrogen, which arrives by the negative pole. Two
taps, of which one has twice as large an opening as the
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 59
other, put these two casks into communication with
a fourth, called the mixing case. There, the two gases
obtained by the decomposition of the water are mixed
together. The capacity of the mixing cask is about
forty-one cubic feet. In the upper part of this cask
there is a platinum tube, furnished with a tap. You
understand already, gentlemen, that the apparatus I
am describing to you is only a gas-pipe for oxygen and
hydrogen, of which the heat surpasses that of a smith's
furnace. This much established, I pass on to the
second part of the apparatus. In the lower part of my
balloon, which is hermetically closed, two tubes are
fixed, separated by a little distance. One is fixed in
the upper layers of the hydrogen gas, the other in the
lower layers. These pipes have strong gutta-percha
articulations, so that the oscillations of the balloon
may have no effect on them. They both descend into
the car, and are fixed in an iron case of cylindrical
form, called the heating case. It is closed at its extre-
mities by strong disks of the same metal. The pipe
that starts from the lower region of the balloon is fixed
in this cylindrical box at the bottom disk; inside, it
takes the form of an helicoidal serpentine, the coils of
which almost fill the top of the case. Before it comes
out, the serpentine goes into a little cone with a concave
base. It is from the summit of this cone that the
second pipe comes out-the other end of which is fixed
in the upper part of the balloon. The base of the cone
is made of platinum, so that it may not melt under
the action of the blow-pipe, which is placed at the
bottom of the iron case, in the midst of the helicoidal
serpentine, and the extremity of its flame licks the base
of the cone.
60 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
You know what an air-stove for warming apartments
is, gentlemen. You know how it works. The air of
the room is forced to pass through the tubes, and is
sent back warmed. Now, what I have just been de-
scribing to you is really only an air stove. Once the
blow-pipe lighted, the hydrogen of the serpentine and
the concave cone gets warm and ascends rapidly by the
pipe in communication with the upper regions of the
balloon. A void is made below, which draws the gas
from the lower regions; this gas gets warm in its turn,
and is continually replaced; thus an extremely rapid
current of gas is established in the pipes and the
Gas augments its volume Tk by degree of
warmth, so that if I increase the warmth to 18 de-
grees, the hydrogen in the balloon will dilate -1, or
1,614 cubic feet; it will therefore displace 1,674 more
cubic feet of air, and that will augment its ascending
force 1601bs. That, therefore, comes to the same as
throwing out the same weight of ballast. If I augment
the temperature to 180 degrees, the gas will dilate
,G; it will displace 16,740 more cubic feet, and
its ascending force will increase 1,600 lbs. You see,
gentlemen, how easily I can obtain considerable rup-
tures of equilibrium. The volume of the balloon has
been calculated in such a manner, that being half in-
flated, it displaces a weight of air exactly equal to that
of the balloon filled with hydrogen, and the car of
travellers and accessories. At this point of inflation,
it is in exact equilibrium in the air; it neither ascends
nor descends. In order to ascend, I give the gas a
higher temperature by means of my air-pipe; in con-
sequence of the greater warmth it obtains a stronger
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 61
tension, and the balloon is more inflated the more I
dilate the hydrogen. The descent is made naturally
by moderating the heat of the air-pipe, and letting the
temperature get cooler. The ascension, therefore, will
be generally much more rapid than the descent. But
that is fortunate; it is never my interest to descend
rapidly, and by being able to ascend rapidly I can
avoid obstacles. Dangers will lie rather below than./
above. Besides, as I have already told you, I have a
certain quantity of ballast which will allow me to descend
quicker still if necessary. My valve, situated at the
top of the balloon, is only a safety-valve. The balloon
will always keep the same quantity of hydrogen; the
variations of temperature which I produce in the gas
provide all the means for ascending or descending.
And now, gentlemen, one practical detail: The com-
bustion of hydrogen and oxygen at the point of the
air-pipe produces nothing but steam. I have therefore
furnished the lower part of the cylindrical iron case
with a waste-pipe, so that the steam may escape at a
certain tension. The exact figures are the following:
twenty-five gallons of water, reduced to its primitive
elements, gives 200 lbs. of oxygen and 25 lbs. of
hydrogen. That represents, by atmospheric tension,
1,890 cubic feet of the former, and 3,780 cubic feet of
the latter; in all, 5,670 cubic feet. Now the tap of my
air-pipe, quite turned on, spends 27 cubic feet an hour,
with a flame at least six times stronger than lighting
lanterns. On an average, therefore, I shall only burn
nine cubic feet an hour, in order to keep at a little
height; my twenty-five gallons of water represent,
therefore, 630 hours of aerial navigation, or a little
more than twenty-six days.
62 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
"As I can descend at will and renew my provision of
water on the way, my journey may last any length of
That is my secret, gentlemen; it is simple, and will
succeed. The dilatation and contraction of the gas in
the balloon are the means which exact neither em-
barrassing wings nor mechanical moving power. An
air-stove to produce my changes of temperature, and
an air-pipe to warm it, are neither inconvenient nor
heavy. I believe, therefore, that I have brought to-
gether all serious conditions of success."
Dr. Fergusson thus terminated his speech, and was
heartily applauded. .There was not an objection to
make; everything had been foreseen.
"But," said the commander, "that may be dan-
What does that matter," answered the doctor,
simply, as long as it is all practicable ?"
ARRIVAL AT ZANZIBAR-THE ENGLISH CONSUL-THE
INHABITANTS BADLY DISPOSED KOUMBENI ISLE-
RAIN-MAKERS INFLATION OF THE BALLOON -
DEPARTURE ON THE 18TH OF APRIL-LAST ADIEU-
HE wind was constantly favourable, and
hastened the journey of the Resolute
toviards her destination. Navigation in
the Mozambique Channel was particularly
peaceful. The maritime passage was a
good augury for the aerial passage. At last the vessel
arrived in sight of the town of Zanzibar, situated on
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 63
the island of the same name, and on the 15th of April,
at eleven o'clock in the morning, she anchored in the
port. The island of Zanzibar belongs to the Iman of
Mascate, an ally of England, and it is certainly his
best colony. The port receives a great quantity of
vessels from the adjoining countries. The island is
separated from the African coast by a channel
which is only thirty miles in width in its widest
part. It does a large commerce in gum, ivory, and
especially guano, for Zanzibar is the great slave
market. The prisoners taken in the wars which the
interior chiefs are always waging are brought to
be sold at Zanzibar. This traffic is carried on along
the whole eastern coast. 'M. G. Lejean has seen
it done there openly under cover of the Freneh
As soon as the Resolute was in port, the English
consul at Zanzibar came on board to put himself
at the doctor's disposal; the European newspapers
had informed him a month before of his projects.
But till then he had ranked himself in the numerous
phalanx of unbelievers.
"I doubted before," said he, holding out his hand to
Samuel Fergusson, "but now I doubt no more."
He offered the hospitality of his own house to the
doctor, Dick Kennedy, and the faithful Joe. He showed
the doctor the different letters he had received from
Captain Speke. The captain and his companions had
suffered terribly from hunger and bal weather before
reaching the country of Ugogo; they could only ad-
vance with extreme difficulty, and thought it probable
that they should no longer be able to send news of
64 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
We shall know how to avoid those perils and pri-
vations," said the doctor.
The three travellers' luggage was carried to the
consul's house. Measures were taken to disembark the
balloon on the Zanzibar shore; there was a favourable
site near the signal mast, by the side of an enormous
construction that would shelter it from the east winds.
It was a thick tower, like a barrel, near which the
Heidelberg barrel would have looked like a simple
hogshead; it served as a fort, and on its platform some
Beloutchis, a kind of idle, bragging garrison, armed
with lances, were mounting guard. But before the
balloon was disembarked, the consul was warned that
the population of the island would oppose it by force.
Nothing is blinder than fanatical passion. The news
of the arrival of a Christian who meant to rise in the
air was received with irritation; the negroes, more
emotional than Arabs, saw intentions hostile to their
religion in the project; they thought there was some
mischief going to be done to the sun and moon, the
two planets being objects of veneration to African
tribes. They were therefore resolved to oppose the
sacrilegious expedition. When the consul knew
this he consulted with Dr. Fergusson and Com-
mander Pennet. The latter did not wish to recoil
before threats, but his friend made him hear
"We should certainly get the better of them," said
he; the Iman's garrison would help us if necessary,
but an accident might spoil our balloon irreparably,
and our journey prevented altogether; we must act
with great precaution."
"But what can we do? If we disembark on the
Flee sceeks in a Balloon. 65
African coast we shall meet with the same difficulties.
What can we do ?"
There is nothing more simple," answered the
consul. "Do you see those islands situated outside
the port? Disembark your balloon on one of those;
surround yourselves with a girdle of sailors, and you
will have no risk to run."
"That is the very thing," said the doctor; "we
shall be able to finish our preparations comfortably
The commander agreed with this advice, and the
Resolute approached the island of Koumbeni. During
the morning of the 16th of April the balloon was
safely placed in a clearing in the midst of the thick
woods with which the soil is covered. They erected
two masts 80 feet high, and some pulleys fixed at their
extremities allowed them to raise the balloon by means
of a transverse cable. It was then quite empty of air.
The inner balloon was fastened to the top of the ex-
terior one, so that it might be raised with it. The two
pipes for the introduction of the hydrogen were fixed
at the lower end of each balloon. The day of the 17th
was passed in fixing the apparatus destined to produce
the gas. It was composed of thirty barrels, in which
the decomposition of the water went on by means of
iron and sulphuric acid put together in a great quantity
of water. The hydrogen went into a vast central
barrel, after having been washed on its passage, and
from there it passed into each of the balloons through
the pipes. By that means each was filled with the
right quantity of gas. They were obliged to employ
for that operation 1,866 gallons of sulphuric acid,
16,050 lbs. of iron, and 966 gallons of water. Thib
6( Five Weeks in a Balloon.
operation was begun the following morning about
three a.m. It lasted nearly eight hours. The next day
the balloon, covered with its net, was flying gracefully
above the car, retained by a great number of sacks
filled with sand. The apparatus for the dilatation was
mounted with the greatest care, and the balloon pipes
were fixed in the cylindrical box. The anchors, cords,
instruments, travelling-rugs, the tent, provisions, and
arms were put in their proper places in the car; the
provision of water was made at Zanzibar. The 200 lbs.
of ballast were divided into fifty sacks, and placed at
the bottom of the car, but within reach.
These preparations were finished about five p.m. The
sentinels kept watch round the island in the boats be-
longing to the Resolute. The negroes continued
manifesting their anger by cries, grimaces, and con-
tortions. Their sorcerers went about amongst the
irritated groups blowing their anger into flame. A few
fanatics tried to gain the island by swimming, but they
were easily kept off. Then the incantations and sorcery
began. The makers of rain, who pretend to command
the clouds, called upon storms and showers of stones,"
as they call hail, to their help: for that they gathered
leaves from all the different trees in the country. They
had them boiled on a slow fire, whilst they killed the
sheep by poking a long needle in its heart. But, in
spite of their ceremonies, the sky remained serene, and
their sheep and their grimaces were of no avail. The
negroes gave themselves up to furious orgies, intoxi-
cating themselves with tembo," an ardent liquor made
from the cocoa-nut, or a fiery sort of beer, called "togwa."
Their songs, without appreciable melody, but with very
just rhythms, were heard till very late at night.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 67
About six o'clock in the evening a last dinner united
the travellers at the table of the commander and his
officers. Kennedy, whom no man questioned any longer,
murmured some incoherent words, and kept his eye fixed
on Dr. Fergusson. The meal was a sad one. The approach
of the farewell moment inspired them all with painful
reflections. What had destiny in store for these bold
travellers ? Would they ever find themselves again in
the midst of their friends round the domestic hearth ?
If their means of locomotion were to fail, what would
become of them among native tribes in unexplored
countries, in the midst of immense deserts ? These
ideas, vague till then, took possession of their excited
imaginations. Dr. Fergusson, always cold and impas-
sible, talked of indifferent things, but it was in vain
that he tried to dissipate the contagious sadness,
he could not succeed. But, as they feared ,..,Ie de-
monstration against the persons of the doctor an..l his
companions, they all three slept on board the Resolhie.
At six a.m. they left their cabin, and went to the island
of Koumbeni. The balloon was lightly flying in the
face of a light east wind. The sacks of sand which fas-
tened it down had been replaced by twenty sailors.
Commander Pennet and his officers assisted at their
solemn departure. At that moment Kennedy went
straight to the doctor, took his hand, and said-
Well, Samuel, you are quite decided to go ?"
"I have done all I could to prevent the journey,
"Then my conscience is easy about it, and I shall go
68 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
I was sure of it," answered the doctor, while a flash
of emotion passed across his face. The moment for
the last -farewells had arrived. The commander and
his officers took an affectionate farewell of their intrepid
friends. They all vied with each other in shaking
hands with Dr. Fergusson. At nine o'clock the three
companions took their places in the car; the doctor
lighted his gas-pipe and blew the flame, so as to pro-
duce a rapid heat. The balloon, which had rested on
the ground in perfect equilibrium, began to rise in a
few minutes. The sailors were obliged to keep clear
of the cords which fastened it down. The car rose
about twenty feet.
My friends," cried the doctor, standing between his
two companions, and taking off his hat, let us give to
our aerial ship a lucky name. We will call it the
The assistants raised a formidable hurrah. After
that the ascensional force of the balloon grew prodi-
giously. Fergusson, Kennedy, and Joe sent a last
adieu to their friends.
Let go-let go cried the doctor, and the Victoria
rose rapidly into the air, whilst the Resolute gave four
salutes in its honour.
.ire Weeks in a Balloon. 69
CROSSING THE STRAIT---THE MRIMA-REIMARIK OF DICK,
AND PROPOSITION OF JOE-RECIPE FOR COFFEE-
THE UZEAMO-THE UNFORTUNATE MAIZAN--MOUNT
DUTHUI--THE DOCTOR'S MIAPS-NIGHT ON A NOPAL,
SHE air was pure and the wind moderate;
the Victoria mounted almost perpendicu-
larly to a height of 1,500 feet, indicated
by a depression of two inches all but two
lines in the barometrical column. At
that elevation, a more decided current carried the bal-
loon towards the south-west. Then a magnificent
spectacle spread itself out before the eyes of the tra-
vellers. They could see the whole island of Zanzibar,
looking like a vast planisphere of a dark colour. The
fields looked like a patchwork of different colours.
Thick bunches of trees indicated the woods and shrub-
beries. The inhabitants of the islands looked like
insects. The hurrahs and the cries died away little
by little in the atmosphere, and the firing of the
cannon alone vibrated in the inferior concavity of the
"Well, that is beautiful!" cried Joe, breaking the
silence for the first time.
He obtained no answer. The doctor was occupied
with noticing the barometrical variations, and taking
note of the different details of his ascent. Kennedy
was looking to see, and had not eyes. enough for all
there was to see. As the rays of the sun helped the
gaspipe, the tension of the gas augmented.
The Victoria reached a height of 2,500 feet. The
Resolute looked like a simple fishing bark, and the
70 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
African coast appeared in the west to be an immense
edge of foam.
"You do not speak ?" said Joe.
We are looking," replied the doctor, directing his
glass towards the continent.
As for me, I must speak."
"As you like, Joe; speak as much as it pleases you."
Joe broke into exclamations.
Whilst they crossed the sea the doctor thought it
better to keep at that elevation. He could see a greater
extent of coast; he kept the thermometer and barometer
hung in the interior of the tent, where he could see them;
a second barometer was placed outside to be used
during the watches of the night. In about two hours
the Victoria, driven along at a rate of more than eight
miles, approached the coast. The doctor resolved to
get nearer the earth. He moderated the flame of the
gaspipe, and the balloon soon descended to within
300 feet of the ground. He was then above the Mrima,
a name given to that portion of the eastern coast of
Africa; thick borders of mangroves protected its borders;
it being low-tide they could see their thick roots,
nibbled by the teeth of the Indian Ocean. The lagoons,
which formerly indicated the coast-line, were spread out
round the horizon, and Mount Nguru rose in the north-
west. The Victoria passed near a village, which the
doctor, looking at his map, recognized as Kaole. All
the assembled population howled with fear and anger.
Arrows were vainly directed against this monster of the
air, which balanced itself majestically above all their
powerless fury. The wind carried them south, but the
doctor was not uneasy on that account, as it allowed
him to follow the route traced by Burton and Speke.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 71
Kennedy had become almost as loquacious as Joe;
they vied with each other in admiring ejaculations.
"Coaches are nothing to it!" said the one.
"It makes one despise steamers !" said the other.
I like it much better than railway travelling," said
Kennedy, "for you rush through countries in a train
without seeing them."
Suppose we have our breakfast ?" said Joe, to whom
the fresh air had given an appetite.
That's a good idea, my boy."
It won't be long, for there's no cooking to do; we
can only have biscuit and preserved meat."
And as much coffee as you like," put in the doctor.
" You may raise the heat of my gas-pipe. It gives plenty,
and so we shall not be in danger of a conflagration."
It would be a terrible one," said Kennedy. It is
like having a powder magazine above us."
Not exactly," answered Fergusson; if we were to
set fire to the gas, it would burn away by degrees, we
should descend to the earth, and that would not be
pleasant; but there is no danger, for the balloon is
"We can eat in safety, then?" said Kennedy.
"It is ready, gentlemen," said Joe. "While I am
eating, I will make you a cup of coffee worth having."
"The fact is," said the doctor, Joe has a particular
talent for making coffee; he prepares it from a peculiar
mixture, which he keeps secret, even from me."
Well, master, as we are in the air, I don't mind
giving you my receipt. It is an equal mixture of Mocha,
Bourbon, and Rio-nunez."
A few minutes afterwards three smoking cups were
pj.:.i. 1 out, and terminated a substantial breakfast,
72 Fir'e I'eeks in a Btlloon.
seasoned by the goodhumour of the companions; then
each went back to his post of observation. The country
was distinguished by extreme fertility. Winding and
narrow roads lay under verdant roofs; they passed
over fields of tobacco, maize, and oats, in full maturity;
here and there vast rice fields, with their straight
stalks and purplish flowers. They saw sheep and goats
shut up in large cages raised on piles to keep them
from the wild beasts. A luxuriant vegetation lay on the
prodigal soil. As they passed the numerous villages
the natives rushed out with- cries of stupefaction at the
sight of the Victoria, and Dr. Fergusson kept it pru-
dently out of reach of their arrows.
At noon the doctor, by consulting his map, found he
was above the Uzramo country. (U, on, means country
in the native language.)
The ground was covered with cocoanut trees, papayers,
and cotton trees, above which the Victoria seemed to
play. Joe found this vegetation quite natural as they
were in Africa. Kennedy perceived hares and quails at
shooting distance, but he could not waste his powder
upon them, seeing the impossibility of bagging the
game. The balloons went at the rate of twelve miles
an hour, and were soon above the village of Tounda in
long. 388 20'.
That," said the doctor, is where Burton and Speke
were taken with violent fevers, and thought their
expedition compromised, yet they were only at a short
distance from the coast when fatigue and privation first
A perpetual malaria reigns in this region ; the doctor
could only avoid its attacks by keeping his balloon
above the miasma of the damp soil, which the ardent
Fire TVeeks in a Balloon. 73
sun drew from it. Sometimes they perceived a caravan
resting in a kraal whilst waiting for the cool of evening
to continue its route. These kraals are vast places
surrounded by hedges and jungles, where, the traffickers
shelter, not only against wild animals, but against the
pillaging tribes of the country. Kennedy wanted to
see them nearer, but the doctor constantly opposed his
"The chiefs are armed with muskets," said he, and
our balloon is too easy an aim for them."
Would a hole cause a fall?" asked Joe.
"Not immediately; but the hole would soon become
a vast rent, through which all our gas would fly away."
"Then let us keep at a respectful distance. What
can they think of us? I am sure they want to
We will let ourselves be worshipped," answered the
doctor, but from afar. Look, the country is changing
its aspect already; the villages are rarer ; the mangoes
have disappeared; their vegetation stops at this lati-
tude. The soil is more hilly, and betokens approaching
So it is," said Kennedy, and I believe I see
heights on that side."
"On the west; they are the first chains of the
Ourizara, Mount Duthumi, doubtless, behind which I
hope to shelter to-night. I shall give greater heat to
my gas-pipe; we are obliged to maintain ourselves at
an elevation of 500 or 600 feet."
"That was a famous idea of yours, master," said
Joe; the manceuvring is neither difficult nor fatiguing;
you have only to turn a tap, and there you are!"
It is more comfortable here," said the sportsman
74 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
when the balloon had ascended; the reflection of the
sun's rays on the red sand was getting intolerable,"
What magnificent trees !" cried Joe; "it would
only take a dozen to make a forest."
They are baobabs," answered Dr. Fergusson ; see,
here is a trunk at least a hundred feet in circumference.
Perhaps it was at the foot of that tree that the French-
man, Maizan, perished in 1845, for we are above the
village of Dije la Mhora, where he ventured to go
alone ; he was seized by the chief of the country, fas-
tened to the root of a baobab tree, where the savage
negro slowly cut all his articulations, whilst his people
sang one of their war songs; he cut Maizan's throat,
stopping in the middle to sharpen his knife, and then
tore off the head before it was quite severed from the
body. The poor Frenchman was only twenty-six."
Has not France revenged such a crime ?" asked
The French Government appealed to the Said of
Zanzibar, and he has done all he could to catch the
murderer, but has not succeeded."
"Let's get up higher, master; I don't want to stop
within their reach," said Joe.
"Yes, we must go higher, for there is Mount
Duthumi rising up before us. If my calculations are
exact, we shall pass it before seven this evening."
Shall we travel during the night asked the
Not unless we are obliged; we could do it by taking
great precaution, but our object is not only to cross
Africa, but to see it."
Well, we can't complain much about the country
yet, master," said Joe, for it is as cultivated and fertile
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 75
as heart could wish. Geographers don't seem to know
much about it."
"Wait a bit, Joe; you'll see in time."
The Victoria was opposite Mount Duthumi at about
half-past six in the evening; the doctor raised the
temperature eighteen degrees, so that the balloon might
rise to the height of 3,000 feet, which it was obliged to
do in order to cross it. It might be said that he guided
the balloon with his hand; Kennedy indicated the
objects to'be surmounted, and the Victoria flew through
the air, grazing the mountain sides. At eight o'clock
they came down the other side, which was not so steep;
the anchors were thrown out of the car, and one of
them caught in the branches of an immense nopal
tree. Joe immediately glided down the cord, and
fastened it solidly. The silk ladder was thrown to
him, and he soon got up in it again. The evening meal
was prepared, and the travellers did it justice.
The doctor fixed his position by means of lunar
observations, and consulted the excellent map which
served him for a guide; it belonged to the Atlas Der
Neuester Entedekungen in Afrika, published at Gotha
by his learned friend Petermann, who had sent it to
him. The doctor meant to use this atlas all through
his journey, for it contained the itinerary of Burton
and Speke to the Great Lakes, Soudan according to
Dr. Barth, Lower Senegal according to Lejean, and the
Delta of the Niger by Dr. Baikie. Fergusson had also
brought a work which resumed all that is known about
the Nile, called The Sources of the Nile," Being a survey
of the basin of that river, and of its head stream,
with the history of the Nilotic discovery," by Charles
76 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
He also possessed the excellent maps published by
the Royal Geographical Society of London. On con-
sulting his maps he found that his latitudinal route
was two degrees, or twenty miles westward. Kennedy
remarked that they had come a little southward, but
that direction satisfied the doctor, who wished to keep
as much as possible in the track after his predecessors.
It was decided that the night should be divided into
three watches, in order that each person might take it
in turn to mount guard over the safety of the two
others. The doctor was to take the nine o'clock watch,
Kennedy the twelve o'clock, and Joe the three a.m.
Kennedy and Joe then lay down under their rugs
and slept peacefully whilst Dr. Fergusson mounted
CHANGE IN THE WEATHER-KENNEDY'S FEVER-THE
DOCTOR'S MEDICINE-TRAVELLING BY LAND-THE
IMENGE BASIN MOUNT RUBEHO SIX THOUSAND
FEET UP-A DAY'S HALT.
HE night passed without incident, but
when Kennedy awoke he complained of
feeling tired and feverish. The weather
changed; the sky was covered with thick
clouds, and seemed to hold provision
enough for another deluge. Zungomero is a dreary
country; it rains there continually, except, perhaps,
during a fortnight in January. Our travellers smelt
the sulphurous emanations spoken of by Captain
"According to him," said the doctor, "and he is
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 77
right, it is as though a corpse were hidden behind every
"It is a horrible country," said Kennedy; it has
done for me."
"It is not astonishing," said Fergusson; we are
in one of the most unhealthy regions of Africa. But
we will not stay in it long."
Thanks to a clever manceuvre of Joe's,. the anchor
was unfastened, and by means of the ladder Joe climbed
up again into the car. The doctor quickly dilated. the
gas, and the Victoria flew off again impelled by a rather
strong breeze. A few huts were the only habitations
to be seen in these pestilential regions. As they
went on the aspect of the country changed. It often
happens in Africa that an unhealthy district of small
extent is bordered by perfectly healthy districts. It
was evident that Kennedy was suffering; fever was
getting the better of his vigorous constitution.
"It isn't the time for illness just now," said he,
wrapping himself up in his rug and lying down under
".Have a little patience, Dick," answered Dr. Fer-
gusson, and you will soon be cured."
"If you have any drug that will cure me, you had
better give it me right off. I'll swallow it with my
"I've something better than that, and I'm going tc
give you a natural febrifuge that will cost nothing. I
shall only have to get up out of reach of this pestilen-
tial atmosphere. Ten minutes will do it."
Before the ten minutes had expired the travellers had
passed the humid zone.
"In a little while, Dick, you will soon feel the
78 Five Weels in a Balloon.
influence of the pure air and sun. I am sending you
into a healthier atmosphere, as a European doctor
would; or if I were at Martinique I should send you to
the Pitons (a high mountain in Martinique) to escape
Kennedy already felt better, and Joe and he praised
the balloon more than ever. The masses of cloud
heaped up below the car offered a curious spectacle;
they were rolling over one another and reflected the
shining rays of the sun. The Victoria attained a
height of four thousand feet. The thermometer indi-
cated that the temperature was getting lower. The
earth was no longer to be seen. About fifty miles to
the west Mount Rubeho raised its shining crest; it
forms the limit of the Ugogo territory by 36 20'
longitude. The wind blew at a speed of twenty miles
an hour, but the travellers felt no motion. Three
hours later the doctor's prediction was realized, Ken-
nedy recovered and breakfasted with appetite.
"That's better than sulphate of quinine," said he,
"I shall certainly come and spend my old age up
here," said Joe.
The atmosphere cleared about ten in the morning.
A hole appeared in the clouds; the earth was seen
again, and the Victoria neared it sensibly. Dr. Fer-
gusson was trying to find a current which would carry
him more to the north-east, and he met with it at 600
feet from the soil. The country became mountainous,
and the district of Zungomero disappeared in the east
with the last cocoanut trees of that latitude. It became
necessary to avoid touching the mountain crests that
rose up here and there under the balloon.
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 79
We are amongst the breakers," said Kennedy.
"Never fear, Dick, we shall not run on them."
It is certainly a jolly way of travelling," said. Joe.
The doctor managed his balloon with marvellous
"If we had been obliged to march along the damp
ground," said he, we should drag along in poisonous
mud. The half of our beasts of burden would be dead
of fatigue already. We should look like spectres, and
despair would have taken possession of our hearts. We
should have incessant struggles with our guides and
porters, and be exposed to their brutality. In the day-
time the heat would be damp and overpowering; at
night the cold would be often intolerable, and the bites
of certain insects would penetrate the thickest cloth,
and almost drive us mad. There would be all that to
put up with, and wild tribes and animals too."
"I don't want to try it," said Joe, simply.
"I exaggerate nothing," continued Fergusson; it
would make your eyes fill with tears to read the
reports of travels in these districts."
About eleven o'clock they cleared the basin of the
Imenge; the tribes, scattered over the hills, vainly
threatened the Victoria with their arms; at last it
reached the last undulations of ground which precede
the Rubeho; they form the third chain and most
elevated mountains of Usagara. The travellers sur-
veyed the orographic conformation of the country.
The three ramifications, of which the Duthumi forms
the first elevation, are separated by vast longitudinal
plains; they are composed of rounded cones, between
ihich the ground is strewn with erratic blocks and
pebbles. The steepest declivity of the mountains faces
80 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
the coast of Zanzibar; the western slopes aro only
inclined plateaux. The depressions of the ground
are covered with black and fertile soil, where the
vegetation is vigorous. Sundry water courses run
eastward into the Kingani, in the midst of gigantic
thickets of sycamores, tamarinds, calabash trees, an?
"Attention!" said Dr. Fergusson. "We are
approaching the Rubeho, the name of which, in the
language of the country, signifies 'Passage of the
winds.' We shall do well to pass over its sharp crests
at a good height from them ; we shall be obliged to rise
to an elevation of more than 5,000 feet."
Shall we often have occasion to reach such a
"No; the height of the African mountains seem
small compared to those of Europe and Asia; but, in
any case, our Victoria will easily clear them."
In a little time the gas dilated under the action of
the heat, and the balloon rose rapidly.' The dilatation
of the hydrogen was not at all dangerous, and the vast
balloon was only three three parts filled; the barometer,
by a depression of nearly eight inches, indicated an
elevation of 6,000 feet.
"Could we go long as high as this ?"
The terrestrial atmosphere is six thousand fathoms
deep," answered the doctor. It would be possible to
go up very high in a large balloon. Brioschi and
Gayfussac did until they bled at the mouth and ears,
and could no longer breathe. A few years ago, two
Frenchmen named Barral and Bixo went up very high,
but their balloon was torn."
And they fell ?" asled Kennedy clickly.
Fire Weeks in a Balloon. 81
"Yes, but as scientific men ought to fall-without
Well, gentlemen," said Joe, I prefer to stop in the
middle regions, neither too high nor too low. I am not
At 6,000 feet the density of the air was sensibly
diminished; hearing and seeing became difficult. The
sight of objects was confused and indistinct; men and
animals became absolutely invisible; roads became
threads, and lakes ponds. The doctor and his com-
panions felt themselves in an abnormal condition; an
atmospheric current of extreme velocity took them
above the snowy mountain summits. The sun shone in
the zenith, and its rays fell vertically upon the moun-
tain tops. The doctor made a sketch of these moun-
tains, which have four distinct ridges almost in a
straight line; the southern one is the longest. The
Victoria soon descended the opposite side of the
Rubeho; the country was well wooded, and its foliage
a sombre green; then came a sort of desert, inter-
sected by ravines, and lower down yellow plains studded
with saline plants and thorny bushes. Woods, which
became forests as they proceeded, embellished the
horizon. The doctor approached the ground, the
anchors were thrown out, and one of them soon
caught in the branches of a vast sycamore. Joe glided
down and fastened it; the doctor left his gas-pipe
lighted so as to maintain the balloon in the air. The
wind had become suddenly calm.
"Now," said Fergusson, "take two guns, Dick, one
for you and one for Joe, and try between you to bring
back a few slices of venison for dinner."
Kemnnedy went down the ladder, and Joe lt, hi imson'
82 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
drop from branch to branch. As soon as the balloon
was lightened by the loss of his two companions'
weight, Dr. Fergusson put out his gas-pipe.
"Don't fly away, master," said Joe.
"Don't be uneasy, my boy. I am securely fastened,
and am going to put my notes in order. From my
post I can survey the country, and if there is the least
appearance of danger I will fire a rifle. That will be
the rallying signal."
FOREST OF GUM TREES--THE BLUE ANTELOPE-THE
RALLYING SIGNAL-AN UNEXPECTED ASSAULT-THE
KANYEME-A NIGHT IN THE OPEN AIR THE
MABUNGURU JIHOUE-LA-MKOA PROVISION OF
WATER-ARRIVAL AT KAZEH.
HE soil was clayey, and was completely
dried up by the heat; it appeared to be
uninhabited; there were a few traces of
caravans. Whitened bones of men and
animals mingled in the same dust. After
half-an-hour's walking, Dick and Joe plunged into a
forest of gum trees, and looked anxiously for the least
appearance of game. Though not a rifleman, Joe used
a firearm skilfully.
"It does one good to walk, Mr. Dick, and yet this
ground is not very pleasant," said he, kicking the frag-
ments of quartz which lay in his road.
Kennedy made a sign to his companion to halt and
stop talking. They were obliged to do without dogs,
and even Joe's agility could not make up for a dog's
scent. A troop of antelopes were drinking in the bed
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 83
of a torrent, where a little stagnant water still remained.
The graceful animals seemed to scent a danger, and
looked uneasy. Kennedy went round a few thickets,
whilst Joe stopped quite still; he managed to get
within shot and then fired. The troop disappeared
in the twinkling of an eye; one male antelope fell; the
bullet was lodged in his shoulder. It was a buck,
a magnificent animal of a pale blue, almost grey
colour; its belly, and the inside of its legs, were snowy
What a fine shot," said the sportsman. "It is a
very rare species of antelope, and I hope to prepare its
skin so as to be able to keep it."
The doctor won't take in all that extra weight,"
said Joe. All the use we can make of it is to take a
few slices of meat from it, and with your permission I
will manage that part of the business as well as if I
belonged to the honourable corporation of London
"I will leave it to you, though of course I should be
no sportsman if I could not cut up game as well as
I am sure of that, Mr. Dick; but if you will make
a grate of three stones you will find enough dry wood
soon to have some charcoal embers, and I will soon
make use of them."
That won't take long," said Kennedy.
He immediately proceeded to construct his fireplace,
and in a few moments it was blazing away. Joe cut
about a dozen slices from the antelope, and laid them
on the fire.
Samuel will enjoy that," said the sportsman.
Do you know what I am thinking of, Mr. Dick ?"
84 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
Of what you are doing, of course; of your steaks."
"Not at all. I am thinking what we shall do if we
don't find the balloon again."
You don't mean to say you think the doctor will
abandon us ?"
No; but suppose the anchor slipped ?"
That is impossible. Besides, the doctor could
easily descend with his balloon."
But suppose the wind carried him away, and he
could not come towards us again ?"
Don't suppose such horrible things, Joe."
We ought to be ready for anything."
At this moment a shot was heard.
That is my rifle; I know the sound," said
It is the danger signal," cried Joe.
The sportsmen rapidly gathered up the game, and
retraced their steps by the marks Kennedy had made.
The thickness of the wood prevented them seeing the
Victoria, though they were at no great distance. A
second shot was heard. They ran as fast as they
could. When they reached the edge of the wood, they
first of all saw the Victoria in its proper place and the
doctor in the car.
What can be the matter with him ?" said Kennedy.
Good Heavens !" cried Joe.
What do you see ?"
"Why there's a troop of negroes besieging the
Joe was right-the balloon was two miles off an.
surrounded by about thirty individuals, howling and
gambolling about the foot of the sycamore. Some
had climbed the tree, and reached the highest branches.
Fice ei eks in a Balloon. 85
The danger seemed imminent. The two men had run
one mile with extreme rapidity, when another shot was
heard; it hit a big fellow who was hoisting himself up
by the anchor cord. A lifeless body fell from branch to
branch, and remained suspended at twenty feet from
the soil, its two legs and two arms balancing in
"Why !" said Joe, pping, "how does that animal
hold on? Oh, Mr. ennedy!" he cried, bursting
into a roar of laughter, it's holding on by its tail!
It's a land of monkeys Nothing but monkeys !"
"It is better they should be monkeys than men,"
replied Kennedy, as he precipitated himself in the midst
of the howling band.
The animals were horrible to see with their dogs'
snouts. A few pistol shots soon scattered them, and
they rushed off, leaving a few of their number dead on
the ground. Kennedy rapidly mounted the ladder;
Joe got up into the sycamore, and unfastened the anchor;
the car was lowered to him, and he climbed into it
without difficulty. A few minutes afterwards the Vic-
toria was high in the air, driven along eastward under
the impulsion of a moderate breeze.
"What an attack!" said Joe.
"We thought you were besieged by the natives."
They were only monkeys, happily," answered the
There does not look much difference between them
at a distance."
"Nor near to either," said Joe.
"I should have been in a nice fix if the anchor had
not withstood their attacks; there is no knowing where
the wind would have carried me to !" said the doctor.
86 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
What did I tell you, Mr. Kennedy ?"
"You were right, Joe, but your steaks made me
forget everything else just then."
I should think so," said the doctor; antelope
flesh is excellent."
"You can try it, sir, it is on the table."
"Upon my word," said the sportsman, these slices
of venison smell good."
"I'll live on antelope till the end of my days,"
answered Joe, with his mouth full, especially with a
glass of grog to wash it down."
Joe prepared the beverage in question, which was
appreciated by them all.
We have been very lucky up till now," said he.
Very," answered Kennedy.
"Well, Mr. Dick, are you sorry you came?"
I should like to have seen any one try to stop me !"
said the sportsman, with a resolute air.
It was four o'clock in the evening; the Victoria met
with a more rapid current; the ground was getting
insensibly higher, and soon the barometrical column
indicated a height of 1,500 feet above the level of the
sea. The doctor was then obliged to keep his gas-pipe
heated considerably so as to dilate gas enough to keep
up the balloon. At about seven o'clock the balloon
was sailing over the basin of the Kanyeme; the doctor
recognized the clearing, ten miles in extent, with its
villages buried amongst calabash trees and baobabs.
One of the Sultans of the Ugogo country resides there,
and civilisation is rather less backward than in other
parts; human beings are more seldom sold there, but
animals and people all live together in round huts like
hayricks. After Kanyeme, the country became arid
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 87
and rocky; but in an hour's time, in a fertile valley,
vegetation reappeared in all its vigour at some distance
from the Mdaburu. The wind fell as evening came on,
and the atmosphere seemed to go to sleep. The doctor
vainly sought a current at different heights; seeing
how calm it was, he resolved to pass the night in the
air, and for further safety raised the balloon about
1,000 feet. The Victoria remained stationary. The
sky was brilliant with stars. Dick and Joe stretched
themselves on their peaceful couch, and slept profoundly
during the doctor's watch ; at twelve o'clock the Scotch-
man took his place.
"If anything happens, wake me," he said; "and,
above all, keep your eyes on the barometer; it is our
The night was cold; there were twenty-seven degrees
of difference between the temperature of the day and
night. The animals' concert began with the darkness;
hunger and thirst drove them from their lairs; the
frogs and jackals mingled their melodious voices, whilst
the imposing roar of the lions made the chords of this
live orchestra. When the doctor resumed his post he
found that the wind had changed during the night.
The Victoria had been drifting to the north-east for
about thirty miles; it was passing over the Mabunguru,
a rocky region covered with blocks of finely-polished
syenite; conical masses, like the rocks of Karnak,
bristled over the soil like so many druidical stones;
numerous elephant and buffalo bones were whitening
here and there; there were few trees except in the
east, where some villages lay hidden in deep woods.
About seven o'clock a round rock, nearly two miles in
extent, appeared like an immense carapace.
88 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
"We are in the right road," said Dr. Fergusson.
"There is Jihouc-la-Mkoa, where we shall halt for a
few minutes. I am going to renew the provision of
water for my apparatus; we must try to fasten the
anchors to something."
"There are hardly any trees," said the sportsman.
"We must try what we can do. Joe, throw the
The balloon, losing by degrees its ascensional force,
approached the earth; one of the anchors caught in the
fissure of a rock, and the Victoria remained stationary.
The doctor could not completely extinguish the flame of
his apparatus during these halts. The equilibrium of
the balloon had been calculated on the sea level; as the
country rose as they wont,,and was 600 or 700 feet
above it, the balloon had a tendency to sink lower
than the soil itself; the gas was, therefore, obliged to be
dilated to keep it up. If there had been no wind, and
the doctor could have allowed the car to remain on the
ground, the balloon, then divested of a considerable
weight, would have kept up without the help of the
The maps indicated vast lagoons on the western slope
of Jihoue-la-Mkoa. Joe went to them alone with a
barrel that might contain about ten gallons; he found
out the place without any trouble, not far from a little
deserted village; he made his provision of water and
came back in less than three quarters of an hour; he
had seen nothing particular except immense traps for
elephants; he almost fell into one of them, where lay
an immense carcas half-eaten away. He brought back
with him a sort of medlar, which the monkeys ate
greedily. The doctor recognized the fruit of the
Fice lVeeks in a Balloon. 89
"Mbenbu," a tree that is very plentiful on the western
part of Jihoue-la-Mkoa. Fergusson was expecting
Joe impatiently, for even a short sojourn on this inhos-
pitable soil always inspired him with fear. The water
was embarked without difficulty, for the car almost
touched the ground. Joe unfastened the anchor and
quickly ascended to his master, who put on more heat,
and the Victoria continued her way through the air.
It was then at a hundred miles from Kazeh, an im-
portant settlement in the interior of Africa, which,
thanks to a south-east current, the travellers hoped to
reach that day; they went along at a rate of fourteen
miles an hour; the balloon then became difficult to
guide; they could not get up very high without
much dilating the gas, for the height of the country
was an average of 3,000 feet. The doctor preferred as
much as possible not to force the dilatation; he skilfully
followed the sinuosities of a steep declivity, and nearly
grazed the villages of Thembo and Tura-Wels. The
latter forms parts of the Unyamwezy, a magnificent
country, where the trees attain extraordinary dimensions
-amongst others, the cactus, which is gigantic there.
About two o'clock, in magnificent weather, under a
burning sun, which devoured the least breeze, the
Victoria was sailing above the town of Kazeh, situated
at 360 miles from the coast.
"We started from Zanzibar at nine o'clock in the
morning," said the doctor, as he consulted his notes,
" and in two days we have travelled nearly 500 geo-
graphical miles. Captains Burton and Speke took four
months and a-half to accomplish the same distance."
90 Five Ieeks in a Balloon.
RAZEH THE NOISY MARKET APPARITION OF THE
VICTORIA THE WANGANZA THE SONS OF THE
MOON-THE DOCTOR'S PROMENADE-POPULATION-
THE ROYAL DWELLING-THE SULTAN'S WIVES-A
ROYAL DRUNKARD JOE WORSHIPPED HOW THEY
DANCE IN THE MOON SUDDEN CHANGE TWO
MOONS IN THE FIRMAMENT-INSTABILITY OF DIVINE
AZEH, an important point in Central
Africa, is not a town; there is, in reality,
no town in the interior. Kazeh is
only a group of six vast excavations.
There are huts in it, with smaller ones
for the slaves; courts and little gardens carefully culti-
vated; onions, patatas, egg-plants, pumpkins, and
mushrooms grow there well. The Unyamwezy is the
most fertile and splendid part of Africa; in the centre
is the district of the Unyanembe, a delightful country,
where a few families of the Omani live idly; they are
Arabians of pure origin. They have long done the
commerce of the interior of Africa and in Arabia; they
traded in gum, ivory, cotton-stuffs, and slaves; their
caravans covered these equatorial regions; they go to
the coast to fetch objects of luxury and pleasure for
those rich merchants who lead, amongst their wives
and servants, the least agitated and most horizontal
existence in a charming country; they are always lying
about, laughing, smoking, or sleeping. Kazeh is the
general meeting-place for caravans; those from the
south bring slaves and ivory; those from the west take
cotton and glass ware to the tribes of the Great Lakes.
The markets there are noisy places; the half-caste
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 91
porters shout above the din of drums and horns, mules
and asses; women and children lift up their voices,
and the zemadar-chief of the caravan-beats time to
the pastoral symphony with his rattan. Mixed in
charming disorder were quantities of bright-coloured
stuffs, coloured glass beads, ivory, rhinoceros and
shark teeth, honey, tobacco, and cotton; marketing
there is a strange affair, for each objecthas no intrinsic
value; it is worth much or little, according to the
desire it excites. All at once the noise and confusion
suddenly stopped. The Victoria had just appeared in
the sky; it floated majestically, and was coming down
in a vertical line. Men, women, children, slaves, mer-
chants, Arabs, and negroes, all disappeared under the
roofs of their huts.
If we go on in this way," said Kennedy, we shall
have some difficulty in establishing any commercial
relations with those people."
There is one very easy commercial relation possible,"
said Joe; we have only to go quietly down and walk
off with their most precious goods. We should get
rich that way."
Their first movement is flight from fear," said the
doctor; but curiosity and superstition will soon make
them come back."
Do you think they will ?"
"We shall soon see; but it will not be prudent to
go too near; an arrow or bullet might pierce the
Do you mean to say you are going to have any-
thing to do with those Arabians ?"
"If we can manage it-why not?" answered the
doctor: there must be some merchants at Kazeh less
92 Five 1Tcel-s in a Balloon.
ignorant and savage than the other natives. I re.
member that Burton and Speke were very hospitably
received by the inhabitants of the town. We can try
it, at all events."
As the Victoria came down, one of its anchors
caught in the top of a tree near the market-place. All
the population then emerged from their hiding-places.
Several "Waganza," with their conical shell ornaments,
came boldly up; they were the sorcerers of the place.
In their belts they wore little black gourds covered
with layers of grease and different conjuring articles,
all dirty enough for their trade. Little by little the
crowd of men, women, and children surrounded them;
the drums were beaten furiously, and the natives
clapped their hands as they raised them to the
"It is their way of worshipping," said Dr. Fer-
gusson; "unless I am much mistaken, we are called
upon to play a great part."
"Well, master, let's play it."
"Perhaps even you will have to be a god, Joe."
"I shan't be sorry for once, sir."
At that moment one of the sorcerers, a Myanga,"
made a gesture, and all noise was extinguished in a
profound silence. He addressed some words to the
travellers, but in an unknown language. As Doctor
Fergusson did not understand, he tried some Arabic
words, and was immediately answered in that language.
The orator then delivered a flowery harangue, and the
doctor learnt that the Victoria was taken to be the
moon in person, and the people imagined that the
amiable goddess had deigned to approach the town
with her three sons, an honour which would never be
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 93
forgotten in that land beloved by the sun. The doctor
answered with great dignity that the Moon made a
round of her provinces once in a thousand years, to
show herself to her worshippers; he begged them to
tell her what they had need of.
The sorcerer answered that the Sultan, the Mwani,
who had been ill for many years, wanted the help of
Heaven, and he invited the Sons of the Moon to go
to him. The doctor told his companions about the
"Are you really going to visit this negro king ?"
said the sportsman.
"Certainly. Those people seem to me well disposed;
the atmosphere is calm; there is not a breath of wind.
"We have nothing to fear for the Victoria."
But what shall you do ?"
Oh, leave that to me. I will manage with a little
Then addressing the crowd--
"The Moon has taken pity on the sovereign dear to
the children of the Unyamwezy, and undertakes to
cure him. Let him be prepared to receive us!"
The shouts, songs, and demonstrationswere redoubled,
and all the vast ant-like crowd of black heads began to
"Now, my friends," said Dr. Fergusson, we must
be prepared for anything; we may be obliged to start
off at a moment's notice. Dick must remain in the
car and keep up the heat, so as to maintain a sufficient
ascensional force. The anchor is solidly fastened;
there is nothing to fear. I am going to land, and Joe
will come with me, only he will remain at the foot of
94 Five Weeks in a Balloon.
What, do you mean to go by yourself to the old
"black ?" asked Kennedy.
"Won't you let me go with you, master ?" said Joe.
"No; I shall go alone; these brave people believe
that their great goddess, the Moon, has called upon
them; I am protected by superstition; you have nothing
to fear; each of you remain where I tell you."
Well, if that is your will, so be it," said Kennedy.
Mind the dilatation of the gas."
The cries of the natives were getting more and more
vehement. They energetically claimed celestial inter-
They are rather imperious to their good Moon and
her divine Sons!" cried Joe.
The doctor took his travelling medicine chest, and
went down the ladder, preceded by. Joe, who took up
his station at the foot in as grave and dignified a
manner as beflited the occasion. He sat down with
his legs crossed under him, Arab fashion, and a part
of the crowd surrounded him in a respectful circle.
Dr. Fergusson, escorted by the religious pyrrhics,
advanced slowly towards the royal hut, situated at some
distance out of the town; it was about three p.m., and
the sun shone brightly; it could not do less for the
circumstance. The doctor marched on with dignity,
the "Waganga" surrounded him, and kept off the
crowd. Fergusson was soon met by the Sultan's natural
son, who, according to the custom of the country, was
the sole heir to the paternal possessions to the exclu-
sion of the legitimate offspring; he prostrated himself
before the Son of the Moon, who raised him with a
Five Weeks in a Balloon. 95
The procession wound along shady paths in the midst
of luxurious tropical vegetation, and, three-quarters of
an hour afterwards, reached the royal palace, a square
edifice, called Ititenya, and situated on the side of a
hill. A species of verandah, formed by the overhang-
ing roof, was supported on pillars that had the preten-
sion of being carved. Long lines of reddish clay
ornamented the walls in the figures of men and serpents,
the serpents more life-like than the men, of course.
The roof of this habitation did not rest on the walls,
but left a slight aperture through which the air circu-
lated freely ; there were no windows, and hardly a door.
Dr. Fergusson was received with grand honours by the
guards and favourites, men of fine race, Wanyamwezi,
a fine type of the populations of Central Africa, well-
made and healthy-looking men. Their hair was
separated into a great number of little tresses, and fell
on their shoulders ; they painted their cheeks black and
blue, in zebra stripes, from the temples to the mouth.
Their ears, frightfully out of shape, supported wooden
disks and plates of gum copal; they were clothed in
cloth of brilliant colours ; the soldiers were armed with
bows and poisoned arrows, cutlasses, long scythe swords,
and little axes. The doctor penetrated into the palace.
There, in spite of the Sultan's illness, the uproar, already
terrible, became greater as he arrived. He remarked,
on the lintel of the door, hare tails and zebra manes
hung there as a sort of talisman. He was received by
his majesty's wives in a body, to the harmonious sounds
of the "upatu," a sort of cymbal made of a brass pot,
and the kilindo," a drum five feet high, hollowed out
of a tree trunk. Most of the women appeared very
pretty; they laughed as they smoked tobacco and than
96 Five Weekis in a lalloon.
in large black pipes; they seemed well-made under
their long, gracefully-draped dresses, and wore the kilt
made of calabash fibres, fastened round their waists.
Six of them were grouped at a distance from the others,
and they were not the least gay of the lot, though they
were destined to a cruel end. On the death of the
Sultan they were to be buried alive with him to amuse
him in eternity. The doctor took in the scene in a
glance, and went up to the wooden bed on which lay
the sovereign. He saw a man about forty, quite worn
out with hard drinking and all kinds of excess, he also
saw that there was nothing to be done for him. His
illness, which had lasted several years, was nothing but
constant intoxication. The royal drunkard had nearly
become senseless, and all the ammonia in the world
would not have revived him. The favourites and wives
knelt and prostrated themselves during this solemn
visit. By means of a few drops of strong cordial, the
doctor revived the besotted corpse for a few minutes ;
the Sultan slightly moved, and for a corpse that had
given no sign of existence for several hours, this symp-
tom was welcomed with applause in honour of the
doctor. By this time he had enough of it, swept away
his too demonstrative worshippers, and went out of the
palace. He directed his steps towards the Victoria.
It was then six p.m.
During his long absence, Joe had been waiting at
the foot of the ladder, worshipped by the crowd. For
a Son of the Moon he was not at all proud, but let him-
self be worshipped quite familiarly. They presented
him propitiatory offerings, those generally placed on
the mzimu," or fetish huts. They consisted of oat-
ears and pombe." Joe felt obliged to taste the