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The Baldwin Library
Rm Bx |
ee YSIS SE 77
The Crisis of Peril was close at hand.
â€œFROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON,â€ â€˜JOURNEY TO THE
CENTRE OF THE EARTH,â€ ETC,
ELLEN E. FREWER.
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS.
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & CO.
[A Rights Reserved.|
JULES VERNEâ€™S WORKS.
THE AUTHORIZED EDITIONS.
From Messrs. J. Hetzel & Co.
PaRIS, LE IÂ® JUILLET, 1876,
18 Rue Facob.
Messieurs. SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & Câ„¢
Lisrarres Epiteurs, BRoADWAY, NEw York, U. S. 7
En reponse & votre demande nous certifions par suite de nut
traitÃ©s avec MM. Sampson Low, Marston, Low & Searle, Editeurs,
188 Fleet St., Londres, dans lequels nous agissons comme propriÃ©taircs
exclusifs des ceuvres de Jules Verne, nous avons autorisÃ©s ces messieurs,
4 exclusion de tous autres, & publier en Amerique les ouvrages suivant,
de cet auteur:
VincT MILLE LIEUES Sous LES MERS.
ADVENTURES DE TROIS RUSSES ET DE TROIS ANGLAIS,
De La TERRE A LA LUNE.
AUTOUR DE LA LUNE,
Pays DES FORURES. :
LE Tour DU MonDE EN 80 Jours.
UNE VILLE FLOTTANTE.
MICHEL STROGOFF, HeEcTOR SERVADAC.
Et que par suite de cette cession, MM. Sampson Low & C'*- de
Londres, ont seul le droit dâ€™autoriser la vente des clichÃ©s de ces
ouvrages dans les Etats Unis. ,
Veuillez agrÃ©er, Messieurs, nos salutations empressÃ©s,
J. HETZEL Et Câ„¢
From Sampson Low, Marston & Co.
188 FLEET STREET,
: London, E. C., Fuly 3d, 1876.
Messrs. SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & Co.,
Dear Sirs; We hereby beg to certify, that, in accordance with
the rights ceded to us by MM. Hetzel & Co., we have sold to you
the translations and illustrations of the following works by Sues
1. MERIDIANA; OR, ADVENTURES OF THREE RUSSIANS AND
2. FROM THE EARTH â€˜TO THE MOON AND A TRIP RouND IT.
3. A FLOATING CITY AND THE BLOCKADE RUNNERS
4. THE Mysterious ISLAND.
Â§: MICHAEL STROGOFF. 6. HECTOR SERVADAC,
Yours, very truly,
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & CO.
Â° THE JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EarTH is published by
Scribner, Armstrong & Co., by direct arrangement with MM. HetzeÃ©
I. A CHALLENGE tes tos wee
II, THE ANTECEDENTS OF CAPTAIN Sepxvsarac
ORDERLY, BEN ZOOF ... soe
III. INTERRUPTED EFFUSIONS â€œ tee
IV. A CoNnvuLsion oF NATURE vee
Vv. A Mysterious SEA ... i .
VI. THE CAPTAIN MAKFS AN EYÂ¥PUSnATION
VII. BEN ZooF WATCHES IN VAIN ... ows
VIII. VeENus IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY ,,
IX. INQUIRIES UNSATISFIED eee woe
X. A SEARCH FOR AJGERIA . woo
XI. An Istanp ToMB... ase vos
XII AT THE MERCY OF THE WINDS .. |
XIII. A Roya SALUTE .... eee a
XIV. SENSITIVE NATIONALITY ... see
XV. AN ENIGMA FROM THE SEA ... vee
XVI. THE RESIDUUM OF A CONTINENT...
XVII. A SEconD ENIGMA
XVIII. AN UNEXPECTED POPULATION
XIX. GaAtiiaâ€™s GOVERNOUR GENERAL wee
XXIL WINTER QUARTERS ... ose
XXII. A FrozEN OCEAN ao
XXIII. A CARRIER-PIGEON ... Py vas
XXIV. A SLEDGE-RIDE ... see tes
CoMETs, OLD AND NEW
THE PRoFess.eâ€™s EXPERIENCES
A REVISED CALENDAR
WANTED: A STEELYARD ...
MONEY AT A PREMIUM
GALLIA WEIGHED .
JUPITER SOMEWHAT CLOSE
MARKET PRICES IN GALLIA
FAR INTD SPACE
A Fftre Day see
THE BOWELS CF THE COME1 ...
DREARY MONTHS a
THE PROFESSOR PERPLEXED
A JOURNEY AND A DlsaP,0INIMENY
A Bop PRoPcSsITION
TUE VENSURE MADE a
SUSPENSE oe seo coo ooo tee tee
Back AGALW oo eco eo: Â°
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
â€œHereismy Cardâ€ ... _ ao _
The Two Officers listened gravely enough to servadacâ€™s
Request oes tee ove ove ove
Ben Zoof wee ost ove +00 ose oo
â€˜* He is at his Everlasting Verses again!â€ ox. ove
â€œ Any Bones broken, Sir?â€ =... ase te ove
Meantime the Jackal had seated itself upon its Haurches
In his Ascent he passed Ben Zoof, who had already com-
menced his Downward Course
But the River-bank had now become the Shore of an Un
known Sea vee eee eee tee ave
â€œ*Come, wake up!â€ ove wee wee
They seemed transformed from Ordinary Quadrupeds into
Veritable Hippogriffs a ee eee
Instead of 100Â°, the Instrument- seuistered only 66Â° tee
His watching was allin vain... a ose aes
â€œTt is not the Moonâ€ tee
Meanwhile Servadac was doing his utmost _ to recall the
Lessons of his School-days a wee
The Observatory at Paris
â€˜Before we speak one other word, â€œtell me "whl has hap-
pened â€ toe aoe ae
Lieutenant Procope oon
Sternly, almost fiercely, regarding the Boundless Waste of
Water... oes too
A Long and somewhat Wavering Discissioi eee eee
Â« To face page I
viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
They made their way into the Enclosure ... tee
â€œ*The Tomb of St. Louis!â€ eee tee
Day and Night they perched jana upon the Yards ove
The Dobryna dashed in between its Perpendicular Walls
â€˜*Well, men, what is it?â€ ... tee Pers eee
A Full-sized Shot... a we = i
â€˜* Allow me to introduce you to Count Wassili Timascheff â€
â€œâ€˜The Statement seems highly incredibleâ€... ste
â€œThat Flag has floated where it is for Ages â€ aes a
Everybody hurried to the Forecastle ... aes
**You woulc. presume that he was a Frenchman ?â€ auked the
Count... ase eos see
They hurried on to te the Heights es sas
He picked up a Little Block of Stony Sibstiiice
The Heavens were illuminated by a Superb Shower of Falling
Stars = ase aes
A Little Girl was peeping shyly shegaut the aniches ae
All along their way they made unsparing S.aughter of the
Birds ee eos tee
â€œThese Rascals defraud ime ae my Rightsâ€ ove coe
Isaac Hakkabut ... oes _
The Captain and the Gienteaan were svon alongside the
Fivating Emporium ore eco oes one
â€˜* Listen to me, my Friendsâ€ a sas Mee og
With Sen Zoof as Overseer, both Spanish Majos and Russian
Sailors set to work witn a wili see see eae
The Captain and the Count scoured the Island fs
It took more than half an hour to settle on a suitable Landing-
place foe Bee
A Sharp Turn brought them into s a Sudden Flood oF Light
Ben Zoof, in his turn, danced a fas seul wee
It had no feature in common with the Moon eae sae
The Explorers from the Summit scanned the surrounding
View wei : : oe san
â€œâ€˜ Throw, Nina, ee as sda as youcanâ€ ... see
A Supply of Skates was speedily brought into Use ... Dee
She was being attacked by half a dozen Great Sea-gulls ...
Count Timascheff cuuld not forbear pressing his Two Brave
Friends to his Bosom 7 oa es see
Look, look!â€ ... ae son ae
â€˜*No; he is alive!â€ ste eee
Valmyrin Rosette ... :
**Servadac, Five Hundred Lined to-morrow!â€ .., wee
.. Lo face page 74
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
â€œ*Let me in ; do, please, let me inâ€ wee . â€”- To fice page 204
Servadac shrugged his Shoulders in contempt and turned away
Beu Zoof appeared with a Great Cup, Hot and Strong tee
â€œ* You are on my Comet, on Gallia itself!â€ ...
Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope sa eee.
Donatiâ€™s Comet... eee te eee ose
â€œ*You are very welcomeâ€ ae rer eee oes
Carefully gauging the Recesses of Gemini
The Solitary Occupant of the only Fragment that saivined of
the Balearic Archipelago
In these Retired Quarters the Rooneee â€˜ek up his Aves
Like Little Esquimeaux aoe
Galliaâ€™s path lay clearly defined bÃ©tore cin eyes ... eos
â€˜* Now, Lieutenant! no Evasions! no Shufflings!â€
â€˜Â¢ A momentâ€™s Breathing-time, pleaseâ€ ... ae ee
â€˜* Have you no Father nor Mother ?â€ Sas aes
The Rest of the Party followed ... a ae Bry
â€˜Â¢ We are not going to ruin you, you knowâ€ ... ave
â€˜* Some of your Money! I must have some Money !â€ _
â€˜* Here we have the measure of a Metre exactly â€ aie
He suspended the Money-bag to the Hook don ace
â€œâ€˜ Let me read to you a few Lines from Flammarionâ€
â€œTI am come to buy your Goods â€ a wen
The Index registered only 133 Grammes ! om
Another World was now ores a Conspicuous Object in
the Heavens eee oe
Sometimes they would appear as an Illuminated hicks pith
the Shadow of Saturn passing over it be Sets
The Composition of the Bill of Fare eee see ass
The Company was more than contented eee tee
The Volcano was extinguished ! ... mee sue
Waving his Torch eee oe
Zephyr and Galette were conducted aga the cas ee
Occupied in his own appropriated Corner... toe
Nine hundred feet below ground tee see tee
â€˜*Confound it! what doÃ©s it mean?â€ eee dee
â€œGive it a little push, pleaseâ€ ... eee
** Help! help!â€ ae Hakkabut, â€˜â€˜ i shall be strangledâ€ -
â€˜*Tt is a Semaphore, sirâ€ eee ies wes ses
â€˜* Major Oliphant, I believe?â€ aan
Servadac communicated to the Count the Result of his Ex-
pedition ... ar 7 ar to
Servadac was the first to speak ove ese we
x LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The task of joining together the Casing was soon complete 70 face page 34)
â€œâ€˜You forget, Sir, that you are addressing the Governou-
General of Galiiaâ€ â€”... : we 353
wee wee *Â»
His Velubility was brought toa Sudden Check â€”... eee Â» ~=â€”359
is my Card.â€
â€œNOTHING, sir, can induce me to surrender my claim.â€
â€œT am sorry for it, count, but in such a matter your
views cannot modify mine.â€
â€œBut allow me to point out that my seniority un-
questionably gives me a prior right.â€
â€œMere seniority, I assert, in an affair of this kind, can-
not possibly entitle you to any prior claim whatever.â€
â€œThen, captain, no alternative is left but for me to
compel you to yield at the swordâ€™s point.â€
â€œThatâ€™s as you please, count ; but neither sword nor
pistol can ever force me to forego my pretensions. Here is
â€œ And mine.â€
This rapid altercation was thus brought to an end by
the formal interchange of the names of the disputants.
On one of the cards was inscribedâ€”
Captain Hector Servadac,
2 IIECTOR SERVADAC,
On the other was the titleâ€”
Count Wassili Timascheff,
On board the Schooner â€œDobrynaâ€â€
It did not take long to arrange that seconds should be
appointed, who would meet in Mostaganem at two o'clock
that day; and the captain and the count were on the
point of parting from each other, with a salute of punc-
tilious courtesy, when Timascheff, as if struck by a sudden
thought, said abruptlyâ€”
â€œPerhaps it would be better, captain, not to allow the
real cause of this to transpire?â€
â€œFar better,â€ replied Servadac; â€œit is undesirable in
every way for any names to be mentioned.â€
â€œIn that case, however,â€™ continued the count, â€œit will
be necessary to assign an ostensible pretext of some kind.
Shall we allege a musical dispute? a contention in which
I feel bound to defend Wagner, while you are the zealous
champion of Rossini?â€
â€œI am quite content,â€ answered Servadac, with a smile;
and with another low bow they parted.
The scene, as here depicted, took place upon the
extremity of a little cape on the Algerian coast, between
Mostaganem and Tenes, about two miles from the mouth
of the Shelif. The headland rose more than sixty feet
above the sea-level, and the azure waters of the Mediter-
ranean, as they softly kissed the strand, were tinged with
the reddish hue of the ferriferous rocks that formed its
base. It was the 31st of December. The noontide sun,
which usually illuminated the various projections of the
coast with a dazzling brightness, was hidden by a dense
mass of cloud, and the fog which, from some unaccount-
able cause, had hung for the last two months over nearly
every region in the world, causing serious interruption to
traffic between continent and continent, spread its dreary
veil across land and sea.
After taking leave of the staff-officer, Count Wassili
Timascheff wended his way down to a small creek, and
A CHALLENGE, - 3
took his seat in the stern of a light four-oar that had been
awaiting his return; this was immediately pushed off from
shore, and was soon alongside a pleasure-yacht, that was
lying to, not many cablesâ€™ length away.
At a sign from Servadac, an orderly, who had been
standing at a respectful distance, led forward a magnificent
Arabian horse; the captain vaulted into the saddle, and
followed by his attendant, well mounted as himself, started
off towards Mostaganem. It was half-past twelve when
the two riders crossed the bridge that had been recently
erected over the Shelif, and a quarter of an hour later
their steeds, flecked with foam, dashed through the Mas-
cara Gate, which was one of five entrances opened in
the embattled wall that encircled the town.
At that date, Mostaganem contained. about fifteen
thousand inhabitants, three thousand of whom were French.
Besides being one of the principal district towns of the
province of Oran, it was also a military station. Valuable
woven fabrics, morocco leather work, articles made from
the esparto (a Spanish rush), and numerous nutritive com-
pounds were amongst its manufactures, whilst grain, cotton,
wool, figs, and grapes, as well as cattle, were exported
thence to France. All traces however had disappeared of
the ancient anchorage, where, in past years, vessels had
been unable to hold their own during the westerly and
north-westerly gales, and Mostaganem now rejoiced in a
well-sheltered harbour, which enabled her to utilize all the
rich products of the Mina and the Lower Shelif. It was
the existence of so good a harbour amidst the exposed
cliffs of this coast that had induced the owner of the
Dobryna to winter in these parts, and for two months the
Russian standard had been seen floating from her yard,
whilst on her mast-head was hoisted the pennant of the
French Yacht Club, with the distinctive letters M.C.W.T.,
the initials of Count Timascheff. -
Having entered the town, Captain Servadac made his
way towards Matmore, the military quarter, and was not
long in finding two friends on whom he might relyâ€”a
4 HECTOR SERVADAC.,
major of the 2nd Fusileers, and a captain of the 8th
Artillery. The two officers listened gravely enough to
Servadacâ€™s request that they would act as his seconds in
an affair of honour, but could not resist a smile on-hearing
that the dispute between him and the count had originated
in a musical discussion. Surely, they suggested, the matter
might be easily arranged ; a few slight concessions on
either side, and all might be amicably adjusted. But no
representations on their part were of any avail. Hector
Servadac was inflexible.
â€œNo concession is possible,â€™ he replied, resolutely.
â€œRossini has been deeply injured, and I cannot suffer the
injury to be unavenged. Wagner is a fool. I shall keep
my word. Iam quite firm.â€
â€œBe it so, then,â€ replied one of the officers ; â€œand after
all, you know, a sword-cut need not be a very serious
â€œCertainly not,â€ rejoined Servadac; â€œand especially
in my case, when I have not the slightest intention of
being wounded at all.â€
Incredulous as they naturally were as to the assigned
cause of the quarrel, Servadacâ€™s friends had no alternative
but to accept his explanation, and without farther parley
they started for the staff office, where, at two oâ€™clock pre-
cisely, they were to meet the seconds of Count Timascheff.
Two hours later they had returned. All the preliminaries
had been arranged; the count, who like many Russians
abroad was an aide-de-camp of the Czar, had of course
proposed swords as the most appropriate weapons, and
the duel was to take place on the following morning, the
first of January, at nine o'clock, upon the cliff at a spot
about a mile and a half from the mouth of the Shelif.
With the assurance that they would not fail to keep their
appointment with military punctuality, the two officers
cordially wrung their friendâ€™s hand and retired to the
Zulma CafÃ© for a game at piquet. Captain Servadac at
once retraced his steps and left the town.
For the last fortnight Servadac had not been occupying
The Two Officers listened gravely enough to Servadacâ€™s Request.
A CHALLENGE. 5
his proper lodgings in the military quarters ; having been
appointed to make a local levy, he had been living in a
gourbi, or native hut, on the Mostaganem coast, between
four and five miles from the Shelif. His orderly was his
sole companion, and by any other man than the captain
the enforced exile would have been esteemed little short
of a severe penance.
On his road to the gourbi, his. mental occupation was
a very laborious effort to put together what he was
pleased to call a rondo, upon a model of versification all
but obsolete. This rondo, it is unnecessary to conceal, was
to be an ode addressed to a young widow by whom he
had been captivated, and whom he was anxious to marry,
and the tenour of his muse was intended to prove that
when once a man has found an object in all respects
worthy of his affections, he should love her â€œin all simpli-
city.â€ Whether the aphorism were universally true was
not very material to the gallant captain, whose sole ambi-
tion at present was to construct a roundelay of which this
should be the prevailing sentiment. He indulged the
fancy that he might succeed in producing a composition
which would have a fine effect here in Algeria, where
poetry in that form was all but unknown.
â€œTJ know well enough,â€ he said repeatedly to himself,
â€œwhat I want to say. I want to tell her that I love her
sincerely, and wish to marry her; but, confound it! the
words wonâ€™t rhyme. Plague on it! Does nothing rhyme
with â€˜simplicityâ€™? Ah! I have it nowâ€”
Â§ Lovers should, whoeâ€™er they be,
Love in all simplicity.â€™
But what next? how am I to go on? I say, Ben Zoof,â€
he called aloud to his orderly, who was trotting silently
close in his rear, â€œdid you ever compose any poetry?â€
â€œNo, captain,â€ answered the man promptly ; â€œI have
never made any verses, but I have seen them made fast
enough at a booth during the fÃ©te of Montmartre.â€
â€œCan you remember them?â€
6 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œRemember them! to be sureI can. This is the way
*Come in! come in! you'll not repent
The entrance money you have spent 3
The wondrous mirror in this place
Reveals your future sweetheartâ€™s face.â€
â€œBosh!â€ cried Servadac in disgust ; â€œ your verses are
â€œ As good as any others, captain, squeaked through a
â€œHold your tongue, man,â€ said Servadac peremptorily;
â€œT have made another couplet.
â€œLovers should, whoeâ€™er they be,
Love in all simplicity ;
Lover, loving honestly,
Offer I myself to thee.â€™ â€
Beyond this, however, the captainâ€™s poetical genius was
impotent to carry him ; his farther efforts were unavailing,
and when at six.oâ€™clock he reached the gourbi, the four
lines still remained the limit of his composition,
THE ANTECEDENTS OF CAPTAIN SERVADAC AND HIs
ORDERLY, BEN ZOOF,
AT the time of which I am writing, there might be seen
in the registers of the Minister of War the following
SERVADAC (Hecfor), born at St. TrÃ©lody in the district
of Lesparre, department of the Gironde, July toth, 183â€”.
Property : 1200 francs in rentes.
Length of service: Fourteen years, three months, and
five days. â€™ .
Service: Two years at school at St. Cyr; two years at
Lâ€™Ecole dâ€™Application ; two years in the 8th Regiment of
the Line; two years in the 3rd Light Cavalry; seven
years in Algeria.
Campaigns : Soudan and Japan.
Rank: Captain on the staff at Mostaganem.
Decorations: Chevalier of the Legion of Honour,
March 13th, 18â€”.
Hector Servadac was thirty years of age, an orphan
without lineage and almost without means. Thirsting for
glory rather than for gold, slightly scatter-brained, but
warm-hearted, generous, and brave, he was eminently
formed to be the protÃ©gÃ© of the god of battles.
For the first year and a half of his existence he hac
8 HECTOR SERVADAC,
been the foster-child of the sturdy wife of a vine-dresser of
â€˜MÃ©docâ€”a lineal descendant of the heroes of ancient
prowess ; in a word, he was one of those individuals whom
nature seems to have predestined for remarkable things,
and around whose cradle have hovered the fairy god-
mothers of adventure and good luck.
In appearance Hector Servadac was quite the type of
an officer; he was rather more than five feet six inches
high, slim and graceful, with dark curling hair and mous-
taches, well-formed hands and feet, and a clear blue eye.
He seemed born to please without being conscious of the
power he possessed. It must be owned, and no one was
more ready to confess it than himself, that his literary
attainments were by no means of a high order. â€œWe donâ€™t
spin topsâ€ is a favourite saying amongst artillery officers,
indicating that they do not shirk their duty by frivolous
pursuits; but it must be confessed that Servadac, being
naturally idle, was very much given to â€œspinning tops.â€
His good abilities, however, and his ready intelligence had
carried him successfully through the curriculum of his
early career. He was a good draughtsman, an excellent
riderâ€”having thoroughly mastered the successor to the
famous â€œ Uncle Tomâ€ at the riding-school of St. Cyrâ€”and
the records of his military service related that his name
had several times been deservedly included in the order of
The following episode may suffice, in a certain degree,
to illustrate his character. Once, in action, he was leading
a detachment of infantry through an intrenchment. They
came to a place where the side-work of the trench had
been so riddled by shell that a portion of it had actually
fallen in, leaving an aperture quite unsheltered from the
grape-shot that was pouring in thick and fast. The men
hesitated. In an instant Servadac mounted the side-work,
laid himself down in the gap, and thus filling up the
breach by his own body, shoutedâ€”
And through a storm of shot, not one of which
PLDI NS i
! \: c
THE CAPTAIN AND HIS ORDERLY. 9
touched the prostrate officer, the whole troop passed on in
Since leaving the military college, Servadac, with the
exception of his two campaigns in the Soudan and Japan,
had been always stationed in Algeria. He had now a
staff appointment at Mostaganem, and had lately been
entrusted with some topographical work on the coast
between Tenes and the Shelif. It was a matter of little
consequence to him that the gourbi, in which of necessity
he was quartered, was uncomfortable and ill-contrived ; he
loved the open air, and the independence of his life suited
him well. Sometimes he would wander on foot upon the
sandy shore, and sometimes he would enjoy a ride along
the summit of the cliff; altogether being in no hurry at all
to bring his task to an end. His occupation, moreover,
was not so engrossing but that he could find leisure for
taking a short railway journey once or twice a week; so
that he was ever and again putting in an appearance at
the generalâ€™s receptions at Oran, and at the fÃ©tes given
by the governor at Algiers.
It was on one of these occasions that he had first met
Madame de L , the lady to whom he was desirous of
dedicating the rondo, the first four lines of which had just
seen the light. She was a colonelâ€™s widow, young and hand-
some, very reserved, not to say haughty in her manner,
and either indifferent or impervious to the admiration
which she inspired. Captain Servadac had not yet ven-
tured to declare his attachment; of rivals he was well
aware he had not a few, and amongst these not the least
formidable was the Russian Count Timascheff. And
although the young widow was all unconscious of the
share she had in the matter, it was she, and she alone, who
was the cause of the challenge just given and accepted by
her two ardent admirers.
During his residence in the gourbi, Hector Servadacâ€™s
sole companion was his orderly, Ben Zoof. Ben Zoof was
devoted, body and soul, to his superior officer. His own
personal ambition was so entirely absorbed in his masterâ€™s
10 HECTOR SERVADAC.
welfare, that it is certain no offer of promotionâ€”even had
it been that of aide-de-camp to the Governor-General of
Algiersâ€”would have induced him to quit that masterâ€™s
service. His name might seem to imply that he was a
native of Algeria; but such was by no means the case,
His true name was Laurent; he was a native of Mont-
martre in Paris, and how or why he had obtained his
patronymic was one of those anomalies which the most
sagacious of etymologists would find it hard to explain.
Born on the hill of Montmartre, between the Solferino
tower and the mill of La Galette, Ben Zoof had ever pos-
sessed the most unreserved admiration for his birthplace ;
and to his eyes the heights and district of Montmartre
represented an epitome of all the wonders of the world. In
all his travels, and these had been not a few, he had never
beheld scenery which could compete with that of his native
home. No cathedralâ€”not even Burgos itselfâ€”could vie
with the church at Montmartre. Its race-course could well
hold its own against that at PentÃ©lique; its reservoir
would throw the Mediterranean into the shade; its Solfe-
rino tower was far more upright than the tower of Pisa ;
its forests had flourished long before the invasion of the
Celts ; and its very mill produced no ordinary flour, but
provided material for cakes of world-wide renown. To
crown all, Montmartre boasted a mountainâ€”a veritable
mountain; envious tongues indeed might pronounce it
little more than a hill; but Ben Zoof would have allowed
himself to be hewn in pieces rather than admit that it was
anything less than fifteen thousand feet in height.
Ben Zoofâ€™s most ambitious desire was to induce the
captain to go with him and end his days in his much-loved
home ; and so incessantly were Servadacâ€™s ears besieged
with descriptions of the unparalleled beauties and advan-
tages of this eighteenth arrondissement of Paris, that he
could scarcely hear the name of Montmartre without a
conscious thrill of aversion. Ben Zoof, however, did not
despair of ultimately converting the captain, and mean-
while had resolved never to leave him. When a private in the
THE CAPTAIN AND HIS ORDERLY. II
8th Cavalry, he had been on the point of quitting the army
at twenty-eight years of age, but unexpectedly he had been
appointed orderly to Captain Servadac. Side by side they
fought in two campaigns. Servadac had saved Ben Zoofâ€™s
life in Japan; Ben Zoof had rendered his master a like
service in the Soudan. The bond of union thus effected
could never bÃ© severed ; and although Ben Zoofâ€™s achieve-
ments had fairly earned him the right of retirement, he
firmly declined all honours or any pension that might part
him from his superior officer. Two stout arms, an iron
constitution, a powerful frame, and an indomitable courage
were all loyally devoted to his masterâ€™s service, and fairly
entitled him to his soz-disant designation of â€œ The Rampart
of Montmartre.â€ Unlike his master, he made no preten-
sion to any gift of poetic power, but his inexhaustible
memory made him a living encyclopedia; and for his
stock of anecdotes and trooperâ€™s tales he was matchless.
Thoroughly appreciating his â€˜servant's good qualities,
Captain Servadac endured with imperturbable good humour
those idiosyncrasies, which in a less faithful follower would
have been intolerable, and from time to time he would
drop a word of sympathy that served to deepen his sub-
ordinateâ€™s devotion. ,
On one occasion, when Ben Zoof had mounted his
hobby-horse, and was indulging in high-flown praises about
his beloved eighteenth arrondissement, the captain had
â€œDo you know, Ben Zoof, that Montmartre only
requires a matter of some thirteen thousand feet to make
it as high as Mont Blanc ?â€
Ben Zoofâ€™s eyes giistened with delight ; and from that
moment Hector Servadac and Montmartre held equal
places in his affection,
12 HECTOR SERVADAC.,
COMPOSED of mud and loose stones, and covered with a
thatch of turf and straw, known to the natives by the name
of â€œdriss,â€™ the gourbi, though a grade better than the
tents of the nomad: Arabs, was yet far inferior to any
habitation built of brick or stone. Little more than a
hovel, the gourbi would have been quite inadequate to the
needs of its present inmates, if it had not adjoined an old
stone hostelry, previously occupied by a detachment of
engineers, and which now afforded shelter for Ben Zoof
and the two horses. It still contained a considerable
number of tools, such as mattocks, shovels, and pick-axes,
Uncomfortable as was their temporary abode, Servadac
and his attendant made no complaints: neither of them
was dainty in the matter either of board or lodging.
â€œGive a man a little philosophy and a good digestion,
and he will thrive anywhere,â€ was a favourite speech of the
captainâ€™s. A true Gascon, he had his philosophy, like his
pocket-money, always at hand; and as for his digestion, it
may be doubted whether the weight of all the waters of
the Garonne would have caused it any inconvenience.
And in this respect Ben Zoof was quite a match for his
matter ; the power of his gastric juices was enormous, and
to any believer in the theory of metempsychosis he would
appear to have had an anterior existence under the form
of an ostrich, digesting pebbles as easily as he would the
tenderest slice from the breast of a chicken.
INTERRUPTED EFFUSIONS. 13
The gourbi was stocked with a monthâ€™s provisions,
water in abundance could be obtained from an adjacent
cistern, and a little foraging was sufficient to supply the
requirements of the stable, whilst all other necessities
could be satisfied by the marvellous fertility of the plain
between Tenes and Mostaganem, which fairly rivalled the
rich country of the Mitidja. Game was pretty plentiful,
and on condition that he did not allow his sport to interfere
with his proper duties, the captain, like other staff-officers,
was permitted to use a fowling-piece.
- On his return to the gourbi, Servadac dined with an
appetite to which his long ride had given an extra sharp-
ness. Ben Zoofâ€™s culinary efforts were somewhat remark-
able: no tasteless or insipid dishes were ever the result of
his preparation ; salt, pepper, vinegar, were all bestowed
with a lavish hand, and it was well for both him and his
master that their gastronomic powers were adequate to
absorb the most pungent of condiments.
After dinner, leaving his orderly to stow away the
remains of the repast in what he was pleased to term the
â€œcupboard of his stomach,â€ Captain Servadac turned out
into the open air to smoke his pipe upon the edge of the
cliff. The shades of night were drawing on. An hour
previously, veiled in heavy clouds, the sun had sunk below
the horizon that bounded the plain beyond the Shelif. The
sky presented a most singular appearance. Towards the
north, although the darkness rendered it impossible to see
beyond a quarter of a mile, the upper strata of the atmo-
sphere were suffused with a rosy glare. No well-defined
fringe of light, nor arch of luminous rays, betokened a
display of aurora borealis, even had such a phenomenon
been possible in these latitudes ; and the most experienced
meteorologist would have been puzzled to explain the
cause of this striking illumination on this last evening of
the passing year.
But Captain Servadac was no meteorologist, and it is
to be doubted whether, since leaving school, he had ever
opened his â€œCourse of Cosmography.â€ Besides, as he
14 HECTOR SERVADAC.
strolled along, he had other thoughts to occupy his mind.
The prospect of the morrow offered serious matter for
consideration. The captain was actuated by no personal
animosity against the count; though rivals, the two men
regarded each other with sincere respect ; they had simply
reached a crisis in which one of them was de trop; which
of them, fate must decide.
At eight o'clock, Captain Servadac re-entered the
gourbi, the single apartment of which contained his bed, a
small writing-table, and some trunks that served instead of
cupboards. The orderly performed his culinary operations
in the adjoining building, which he also used as a bed-
room, and where, extended on what he called his â€œgood
oak mattress,â€ he would sleep soundly as a dormouse for
twelve hours at a stretch. Ben Zoof had not yet received
his orders to retire, and ensconcing himself in a corner of
the gourbi, he endeavoured to dozeâ€”a task which the
unusual agitation of his master rendered somewhat dificult.
Captain Servadac was evidently in no hurry to betake
himself to rest, but seating himself at his table, with a pair
of compasses and a sheet of tracing-paper, he began to
draw, with red and blue crayons, a variety of coloured
lines, which could hardly be supposed to have much con-
nection with a topographical survey. In truth, his charac-
ter of staff-officer was now entirely absorbed into that of
the Gascon poet. Whether he imagined that the compasses
would bestow upon his verses the measure of a mathe-
matical accuracy, or whether he fancied that the parti-
coloured lines would lend variety to his rhythm, it is
impossible to determine; be that as it may, he was
devoting all his energies to the compilation of his rondo,
and supremely difficult he found the task.
â€œHang it!â€ he ejaculated, â€œwhatever induced me to
choose this metre? It is as hard to find rhymes as to
rally fugitives in a battle. But, by all the powers! it shanâ€™t
be said that a French officer cannot cope with a piece
of poetry. One battalion has shown fightâ€”now for the
â€˜Â¢ He is at his Everlasting Verses again !â€™?
INTERRUPTED EFFUSIONS. 1s
Perseverance had its reward. Presently two lines, one
red, the other blue, appeared upon the paper, and the
â€˜6 Words, mere words, cannot avail,
Telling true heartâ€™s tender tale.â€
â€œ What on earth ails my master?â€ muttered Ben Zoof;
â€œfor the last hour he has been as fidgety as a bird return-
ing after its winter migration.â€
Servadac suddenly started from his seat, and as he
paced the room with all the frenzy of poetic inspiration,
â€œÂ© Empty words cannot convey
All a loverâ€™s heart would say.
â€œ Well, to be sure, he is at his everlasting verses again !â€
said Ben Zoof to himself, as he roused himself in his
corner. â€œImpossible to sleep in such a noise;â€ and he
gave vent to a loud groan.
â€œHow now, Ben Zoof?â€ said the captain, sharply.
â€œWhat ails you?â€
â€œ Nothing, sir, only the nightmare.â€
â€œCurse the fellow, he has quite interrupted me!â€
ejaculated the captain. â€œBen Zoof!â€ he called aloud.
â€œ Here, sir!â€ was the prompt reply; and in an instant
the orderly was upon his feet, standing in a military atti-
tude, one hand to his forehead, the other closely pressed
to his trouser-seam.
â€œStay where you are! donâ€™t move an inch!â€ shouted
Servadac ; â€œI have just thought of the end of my rondo.â€
And in a voice of inspiration, accompanying his words
with dramatic gestures, Servadac began to declaim:
* Listen, lady, to my vowsâ€”
O, consent to be my spouse $
Constant ever I will be,
No closing lines were uttered. All at once, with
unutterable violence, the captain and his orderly were
dashed, face downwards, to the ground.
16 HECTOR SERVADAC.
A CONVULSION OF NATURE.
WHENCE came it that at that very moment the horizon
underwent so strange and sudden a modification, that the
eye of the most practised mariner could not distinguish
between sea and sky?
Whence came it that the billows raged and rose to a
height hitherto unregistered in the records of science?
Whence came it that the elements united in one deafen-
ing crash; that the earth groaned as though the whole
framework of the globe were ruptured ; that the waters
roared from their innermost depths ; that the air shrieked
with all the fury of a cyclone?
Whence came it that a radiance, intenser than the
effulgence of the Northern Lights, overspread the firma-
ment, and momentarily dimmed the splendour of the
brightest stars ?
Whence came it that the Mediterranean, one instant
emptied of its waters, was the next flooded with a foaming
Whence came it that in the space of a few seconds the
moonâ€™s disc reached a magnitude as though it were but a
tenth part of its ordinary distance from the earth ?
Whence came it that a new blazing spheroid, hitherto
unknown to astronomy, now appeared suddenly in the
firmament, though it were but to lose itself immediately
behind masses of accumulated cloud ?
A CONVULSION OF NATURE. 17
What phenomenon was this that had produced a cata-
clysm so tremendous in its effects upon earth, sky, and
sea ? =
Was it possible that a single human being could have
survived the convulsion? and if so, could he explain its
18 HECTOR SERVADAC.
A MYSTERIOUS SEA.
VIOLENT as the commotion had been, that portion of the
Algerian coast which is bounded on the north by the
Mediterranean, and on the west by the right bank of
the Shelif, appeared to have suffered little change. It is
true that slight indentations were perceptible in the fertile
plain, and the surface of the sea was ruffled with an agita-
tion that was quite unusual; but the rugged outline of the
cliff was the same as heretofore, and the physical aspect
of the entire scene appeared generally unaltered. The
stone hostelry, with the exception of some deep clefts in
its walls, had sustained little injury ; but the gourbi, like a
house of cards destroyed by an infantâ€™s breath, had com-
pletely subsided, and its two inmates lay motionless, buried
under the sunken thatch.
It was two hours after the catastrophe that Captain
Servadac regained consciousness ; he had some trouble to
collect his thoughts, and it is not altogether surprising
that the first sounds that escaped his lips were the con-
cluding words of the rondo which had been so ruthlessly
â€˜* Constant ever I will be,
His next thought was to wonder what had happened;
and in ord r to find an answer to the question, he pushed
â€œAny Bones broken, Sir?â€
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 19
aside the broken thatch, so that his head appeared above
â€œThe gourbi levelled to the ground!â€ he exclaimed,
as he looked about him ; â€œsurely a waterspout has passed
along the coast.â€
He felt all over his body to perceive what injuries he
had sustained, but not a sprain nor a scratch could he
â€œWhere are you, Ben Zoof?â€ he shouted next.
â€œHere, sir!â€ and with military promptitude a second
head protruded from the rubbish.
_ â€œHave you any notion what has happened, Ben Zoof?â€
â€œTâ€™ve a notion, captain, that itâ€™s all up with us.â€
â€œNonsense, Ben Zoof; it is nothing but a waterspout!â€
â€œVery good, sir;â€™ was the philosophical reply, imme-
diately followed by the query, â€œ Any bones broken, sir? â€
â€œNone whatever,â€ said the captain.
Both men were soon on their feet, and began to make
a vigorous clearance of the ruins, beneath which they
found that their arms, cooking utensils, and other property
had sustained little injury.
â€œBy-the-by, what oâ€™clock is it?â€ asked the captain
â€œTt must be eight oâ€™clock, at least,â€ said Ben Zoof,
looking at the sun, v-hich was a considerable height above
the horizon. â€œIt is almost time for us to start.â€
â€œTo start! what for?â€
â€œTo keep your appointment with Count Timascheff.â€
â€œBy Jove! I had forgotten all about it!â€ exclaimed
Then looking at his watch, he cried :â€”
â€œWhat are you thinking of, Ben Zoof? It is scarcely
two o'clock.â€ ,
â€œ Two in the morning, or two in the afternoon ?â€ asked
Ben Zoof, again regarding the sun.
Servadac raised his watch to his ear,
. â€œIt is going,â€ said; he â€œ but, by all the wines of MÃ©doc,
20 ILECTOR SERVADAC.
IT am puzzled. Donâ€™t you see that the sun is in the west?
It must be near setting.â€
â€œSetting, captain! Why, it is rising finely, like a con
script at the sound of the reveille. It is considerably
higher since we have been talking.â€
Incredible as it might appear, the fact was undeniable
that the sun was rising over the Shelif from that quarter
of the ho'izon behind which it usually sank for the latter
portion of its daily round. They were utterly bewildered.
Some mysterious phenomenon must not only have altered
the position of the sun in the sidereal system, but must
even have brought about an important modification of the
earthâ€™s rotation on her axis. If Captain Servadac could
now have laid hands upor a member of the Board of
Longitudes, he would doubtless have sought all manner
of information ; but as it was, he consoled himself with the
prospect of reading an explanation of the mystery in next
weekâ€™s newspapers, and turned his attention to what was
to him of more immediate importance.
â€œCome, let us be off,â€ said he to his orderly ; â€œ though
heaven and earth be topsy-turvy, I must be at my post
â€œTo do Count Timascheff the honour of running him
through the body,â€ added Ben Zoof.
If Servadac and his orderly had been less preoccupied,
they would have noticed that a variety of other physical
changes besides the apparent alteration in the movement
of the sun had been evolved during the atmospheric dis-
turbances of that New Yearâ€™s night. Â«As they descended
the steep footpath leading from the cliff towards the Shelif,
they were unconscious that their respiration became forced
and rapid, like that of a mountaineer when he has reached
an altitude where the circumambient air has become less
charged with oxygen. They were also unconscious that
their voices were thin and feeble; either they must them-
selves have become rather deaf, or it was evident that the
air had become less capable of transmitting sound.
The weather, which on the previous evening had been
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 21
very foggy, had entirely changed. The sky had assumed
a singular tint, and was soon covered with lowering clouds
that completely hid the sun. There were, indeed, all the
signs of a coming storm, but the vapour, on account of
the insufficient condensation, failed to get resolved.
The sea appeared quite deserted, a most unusual cir-
cumstance along this coast, and not a sail nor a trail of
smoke broke the grey monotony of water and sky. The
limits of the horizon, too, had become much circumscribed.
On land, as well as on sea, the remote distance had com-
pletely disappeared, and it seemed as though the globe
had assumed a more decided convexity.
At the pace at which they were walking, it was very
evident that the captain and his attendant would not take
long to accomplish the three miles that lay between the
gourbi and the place of rendezvous. They did not ex-
change a word, but each was conscious of an unusual
buoyancy, which appeared to lift up their bodies and give,
as it were, wings to their feet. If Bzen Zoof had expressed
his sensations in words, he would have said that he felt
â€œup to anything,â€ and he had even forgotten to taste so
much as a crust of bread, a lapse of memory of which the
worthy soldier was rarely guilty.
As these thoughts were crossing his mind, a harsh
bark was heard to the left of the footpath, and a jackal
was seen emerging from a large grove of lentisks. Re-
garding the two wayfarers with manifest uneasiness, the
beast took up its position at the foot of a rock, more than
thirty feet in height. It belonged to an African species
distinguished by a black spotted skin, and a black line
down the front of the legs. At night-time, when they
scour the country in herds, the creatures are somewhat
formidable, but singly they are no more dangerous than
a dog. Though by no means afraid of them, Ben Zoof
had a particular aversion to jackals, perhaps because they
had no place among the fauna of his beloved Montmartre.
He accordingly began to make threatening gestures, when,
to the unmitigated astonishment of himself and the cap-
22 HECTOR SERVADAC.
tain, the animal darted forward, and in one single bound
gained the summit of the rock.
â€œGood, heavens!â€ cried Ben Zoof, â€œthat leap must
have been thirty feet at least.â€
â€œTrue enough,â€ replied the captain ;- â€œI never saw
such a jump.â€
Meantime the jackal had seated itself upon its
haunches, and was staring at the two men with an air
of impudent defiance. This wasâ€˜too much for Ben Zoofâ€™s
forbearance, and stooping down he caught up a huge
stone, when, to his surprise, he found that it was no heavier
than a piece of petrified sponge.
â€œ Confound the brute!â€ he exclaimed, â€œ I might as well
throw a piece of bread at him. What accounts for its
being as light as this?â€
Nothing daunted, however, he hurled the stone into the
air. It missed its aim; but the jackal, deeming it on the
whole prudent to decamp, disappeared across the trees and
hedges with a series of bounds, which could only be likened
to those that might be made by an india-rubber kangaroo.
Ben Zoof was sure that his own powers of propelling must
equal those of a howitzer, for his stone, after a lengthened
flight through the air, fell to the ground full five hundred
paces the other side of the rock.
The orderly was now some yards ahead of his master,
and had reached a ditch full of water, and about ten feet
wide. With the intention of clearing it, he made a spring,
when a loud cry burst from Servadacâ€”
â€œBen Zoof, you idiot! What are you about? You'll
break your back.â€
And well might he be alarmed, for Ben Zoof had
sprung to a height of forty feet into the air. Fearful of
the consequences that would attend the descent of his
servant to terra firma, Servadac bounded forwards, to be
on the other side of the ditch in time to break his fall, But
the muscular effort that he made carried him in his turn to
an altitude of thirty feet; in his ascent he passed Ben Zoof,
who had already commenced his downward course; and
Meantime the Jackal had seated itself upon its Haunches.
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 23
then, obedient to the laws of gravitation, he descended
with increasing rapidity, and alighted upon the earth with-
out experiencing a shock greater than if he had merely
made a bound of four or five feet high. Ben Zoof burst
into a roar of laughter.
â€œBravo!â€ he said, â€œwe should make a good pair of
But the captain was inclined to take a more serious
view of the matter. For a few seconds he stood lost in
thought ; then, laying his hand upon the orderlyâ€™s shoulder,
he said solemnlyâ€”
â€œBen Zoof, I must be dreaming. Pinch me hard; I
must be either asleep or mad.â€
â€œIt is very certain that something has happened to us,â€
said Ben Zoof. â€œI have occasionally dreamt that I was a
swallow flying over Montmartre, but I never experienced
anything of this kind before; it must be peculiar to the
coast of Algeria.â€
Servadac was stupefied; he felt instinctively that he
was not dreaming, and yet was powerless to solve the
mystery. He was not, however, the man to puzzle himself
for long over any insoluble problem.
â€œCome what may,â€ he presently exclaimed, â€œwe _ will
make up OuE minds for the future to be surprised at
â€œRight, captain,â€ replied Ben Zoof; â€œand, first of all,
let us settle our little score with Count Timascheff.â€
Beyond the ditch lay a small piece of meadow land,
about an acre in extent. A soft and delicious herbage
carpeted the soil, whilst trees of about fifty yearsâ€™ growtnâ€”
evergreen oaks, palms, bread-fruits, sycamores, interspersed
with cactuses and aloes, and topped by two or three fine
specimens of the eucalyptusâ€”formed a charming frame-
work to the whole. No spot could have been chosen more
suitable for the meeting between the two adversaries.
Servadac cast a hasty glance round the meadow. No
one was in sight.
â€œWe are the first on the field,â€ he said.
24 HECTOR SERVADAC,
â€œNot so sure of that, sir,â€ said Ben Zoof.
â€œWhat do you mean?â€ asked Servadac, looking at
his watch, which he had set as near as possible by the
sun before leaving the gourbi; â€œit is not nine o'clock yet.â€
* Look up there, sir. Iam much mistaken if that is not
the sun;â€ and as Ben Zoof spoke, he pointed directly over-
head to where a faint white disc was dimly visible through
the haze of clouds.
â€œNonsense!â€ exclaimed Servadac. â€œ How can the sun
be in the zenith in the month of January, in lat. 39Â° N.?â€
â€œCan't say, sir. I only know the sun is there; and at
the rate he has been travelling, I would lay my cap to
a dish of cous-cous * that in less than three hours he will
have set.â€ ;
Hector Servadac, mute and motionless, stood with
folded arins. Presently he roused himself, and began to
examine the various quarters of the horizon.
â€œWhat means all this?â€ he murmured. â€œLaws of
gravity disturbed! Points of the compass reversed! The
length of day reduced one half! Surely this will indefi-
nitely postpone my meeting with the count. Something
has happened ; Ben Zoof and I cannot both be mad!â€™â€™
The orderly, meantime, surveyed his master with the
greatest equanimity ; no phenomenon, however extraordi-
nary, would have drawn from him a single exclamation of
â€œDo you see any one, Ben Zoof?â€ asked the captain,
at last. 7
â€œNo one, sir; the count has evidently been and gone.â€
â€œBut supposing that to be the case,â€ persisted the
captain, â€œmy seconds would have waited, and not seeing
me, would have come on towards the gourbi. I can only
conclude that they have been unable to get here; and as
for Count Timascheffâ€”â€”â€
Without finishing his sentence, Captain Servadac,
thinking it just probable that the count, as on the pre-
* Cous-cous: an African dish composed of the flour of millet, with meat
and the bark of the adansonia.
tn his Ascent he passed Ben Zoof, who had already commenced his
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 25
vious evening, might come by water, walked to the ridge
of rock that overhung the shore, in order to ascertain
if the Dodryna were anywhere in sight. But the sea was
deserted, and for the first time the captain noticed that,
although the wind was calm, the waters were unusually
agitated, and seethed and foamed as though they were
boiling. It was very certain that the yacht would have
found a difficulty in holding her own in such a swell.
Another thing that now struck Servadac was the extra-
ordinary contraction of the horizon. Under ordinary cir-
cumstances, his elevated position would have allowed him
a radius of vision at least five and twenty miles in length ;
but the terrestrial sphere seemed, in the course of the last
few hours, to have become considerably reduced in volume,
and he could now see for a distance of only six miles in
Meantime, with the agility of a monkey, Ben Zoof had
clambered to the top of a eucalyptus, and from his lofty
perch was surveying the country to the south, as well as
towards both Tenes and Mostaganem. On descending, he
informed the captain that the plain was entirely deserted.
â€œWe will make our way to the river, and get over into
Mostaganem,â€ said the captain.
The Shelif was not more than â€˜a mile and a half from
the meadow, but no time was to be lost if the two men
were to reach the town before nightfall. Though still
hidden by heavy clouds, the sun was evidently declining
fast; and,what was equally inexplicable, it was not follow-
ing the oblique curve that in these latitudes and at this
time of year might be expected, but was sinking perpen-
dicularly on to the horizon.
As he went along, Captain Servadac pondered deeply.
Perchance some unheard-of phenomenon had modified
the rotatory motion of the globe; or perhaps the Algerian
coast had been transported beyond the equator into the
-outhern hemisphere. Yet the earth (with the exception
of the alteration in its convexity), in this part of Africa at
least, seemed to have undergone no change of any very great
26 HECTOR SERVADAC.
importance. As far as the eye could reach, the shore was,
as it had ever been, a succession of cliffs, beach, and arid
rocks, tinged with a red ferruginous hue. To the southâ€”
if south, in this inverted order of things,it might still be
calledâ€”the face of the country also appeared unaltered,
and, three leagues away, the peaks of the Merdeyah moun-
tains still retained their accustomed outline.
Presently a rift in the clouds gave passage to an ob-
lique ray of light that clearly proved that the sun was
setting in the east.
â€œWell, I am curious to know what they think of all
this at Mostaganem,â€ said the captain. â€œI wonder, too,
what the Minister of War will say when he receives a
telegram informing him that his African colony has
become, not morally, but physically disorganized ; that
the cardinal points are at variance with ordinary rules,
and that the sun in the month of January is shining down
vertically upon our heads.â€
Ben Zoof, whose ideas of discipline were extremely
rigid, at once suggested that the colony should be put
under the surveillance of the police, that the cardinal
points should be placed under restraint, and that the sun
should be shot for breach of discipline.
Meantime, they were both advancing with the utmost
speed. The decompression of the atmosphere made the
specific gravity of their bodies extraordinarily light, and
they ran like hares and leaped like chamois. Leaving the
devious windings of the footpath, they went as a crow
would fly, or as the Americans would say, â€œtook a beeâ€™s
flightâ€ across the country. Hedges, trees, and streams
were cleared at a bound, and under these conditions Ben
Zoof felt that he could have overstepped Montmartre at
a single stride. The earth seemed as elastic as the spring-
board of an acrobat ; they scarcely touched it with their
feet, and their only fear was lest the height to which they
were propelled would consume the time which they were
saving by their short cut across the fields.
It was not long before their wild career brought them
But the River-bank had now become the Shore of an Unknown Sea.
A MYSTERIOUS SEA. 27
to the right bank of the Shelif. Here they were compelled
to stop, for not only had the bridge completely disap-
peared, but the river itself no longer existed. Of the left
bank there was not the slightest trace, and the right bank,
which on the previous evening had bounded the yellow
stream, as it murmured peacefully along the fertile plain,
had now become the shore of a tumultuous ocean, its azure
waters extending westwards far as the eye could reach,
and annihilating the tract of country which had hitherto
formed the district of Mostaganem. The shore coincided
exactly with what had been the right bank of the Shelif,
and in a slightly curved line ran north and south. The
catastrophe of which this part of Africa had been the scene
had evidently had no effect in altering its configuration,
which was still precisely identical with that laid down by
the latest hydrographical survey, whilst the adjacent groves
and meadows all retained their previous positions. But
the river-bank had now become the shore of an unknown
Eager to throw some light upon the mystery, Servadac
hurriedly made his way through the oleander bushes that
overhung the shore, took up some water in the hollow of
his hand, and carried it to his lips. .
â€œSalt as brine!â€ he exclaimed, as soon as he had
tasted it. â€˜â€œ The sea has undoubtedly swallowed up all the
western part of Algeria.â€
â€œTt will not last long, sir,â€ said Ben Zoof. â€œIt is,
probably, only a severe flood.â€
The captain shook his head.
â€œWorse than that, I fear, Ben Zoof,â€ he replied with
emotion. â€œIt is a catastrophe that cannot fail to be
attended with very serious consequences. What can have
become of all my friends and fellow-officers ?â€
Ben Zoof was silent. Rarely had he seen his master
so much agitated ; and though himself inclined to receive
these phenomena with philosophic indifference, his notions
of military duty caused his countenance to reflect the
iptainâ€™s expression of amazement.
28 HECTOR SERVADAC.
But there was little time for Servadac to examine the
changes which a few hours had wrought. The sun had
already reached the eastern horizon, and just as though
it were crossing the ecliptic under the tropics, it sank
like a cannon-ball into the sea. Without any warning,
day had rapidly given place to night, and earth, sea, and
sky were immediately wrapped in profound obscurity.
( 29 )
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION.
HECTOR SERVADAC was not the man to remain long
unnerved by any untoward event. It was part of his
character to discover the why and the wherefore of every-
thing that came under his observation, and he would have
faced a cannon-ball the more unflinchingly from under-
standing the dynamic force by which it was propelled.
Such being his temperament, it may well be imagined that
he was anxious not to remain long in ignorance of the
cause of the phenomena which had been so startling in
â€œWe must inquire into this to-morrow,â€ he exclaimed,
as darkness fell suddenly upon him. Then, after a-pause,
he added: â€œ That is to say, if there is to be a to-morrow ;
for if I were to be put to the torture, I could not tell
what has become of the sun.â€
â€œMay I ask, sir, what we are to do now?â€ put in Ben
â€œStay where we are for the present; and when day-
light appearsâ€”if it ever does appearâ€”we will explore the
coast to the west and south, and return to the gourbi. If
we can find out nothing else, we must at least discover
where we are.â€
â€œ Meanwhile, sir, may we go to sleep?â€
â€œCertainly, if you like, and if you can.â€
Nothing loath to avail himself of his masterâ€™s permis-
30 HECTOR SERVADAC,
sion, Ben Zoof crouched down in an angle of the shore,
threw his arms over his eyes, anJ very soun slept the sleep
of the ignorant, which is often sounder than the sleep of
Overwhelmed by the questions that crowded upon his
brain, Captain Servadac could only wander up and down
the shore. Again and again he asked himself what the
catastrophe could portend. Had it affected only a small
portion of the continent, and had the towns of Algiers,
Oran, and Mostaganem escaped the inundation? Could
he bring himself to believe that all the inhabitants, his
friends, and comrades had perished; or was it not more
probable that the Mediterranean had merely invaded the
region of the mouth of the Shelif? But this supposition,
although it might to some extent account for the disap-
pearance of the river, did not in the least explain the other
physical disturbances. Another hypothesis that presented
itself to his mind was that the African coast might have
been suddenly transported to the equatorial zone. But
although this might get over the difiiculty of the altered
altitude of the sun and the absence of twilight, yet it
would neither account for the sun setting in the east, nor
for the length of the day being reduced from twelve hour
to six. ; :
â€œWe must wait till to-morrow,â€ he repeated ; adding,
for he had become distrustful of the future, â€œthat is to say,
if to-morrow ever comes.â€
Although not. very learned in astronomy, Servadac
was acquainted with the position of the principal constella-
tions. It was therefore a considerable disappointment to
him that, in consequence of the heavy clouds, not a star
was visible in the firmament. To have ascertained that
the pole-star had become displaced would have been an
undeniable proof that the earth was revolving on a new
axis; but not a rift appeared in the lowering clouds, which
seemed to threaten torrents of rain.
It happened that the moon was new on that very day ;
naturally, therefore, it would have set at the same time as
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION. 31
the sun. What, then, was the captainâ€™s bewilderment
when, after he had been walking for about an hour and a
half, he noticed on the western horizon a strong glare that
penetrated even the masses of the clouds.
â€œThe moon in the west!â€ he cried aloud ; but suddenly
bethinking himself, he added. â€œ But no, that cannot be the
moon; unless she had shifted very much nearer the earth,
she could never give a light as intense as this.â€
And as he spoke the screen of vapour was illuminated
to such a degree that the whole country was as it were
bathed in twilight.
â€œWhat can this be?â€ soliloquized the captain. â€œTt
cannot be the sun, for the sun set in the east only an hour
and a half ago. Would that those clouds would disclose
what enormous luminary lies behind them! What a fool
I was not to have learnt more astronomy! Perhaps, after
all, 1 am racking my brain over something that is quite in
the ordinary course of nature.â€
But, reason as he might, the mysteries of the heavens
still remained impenetrable. For about an hour some
luminous body, its disc evidently of gigantic dimensions,
shed its rays upon the upper strata of the clouds; then,
marvellous to relate, instead of obeying the ordinary laws
of celestial mechanism, and descending upon the opposite
horizon, it seemed to rise in a line perpendicular to the
plane of the equator, and vanished.
The darkness that returned to the face of the earth was
not more profound than the gloom which fell upon the
captainâ€™s soul. Everything was .ncomprehensible. The
simplest mechanical rules seemed falsified ; the planets had
defied the laws of gravitation ; the motions of the celestial
spheres were erroneous as those of a watch with a defective
mainspring, and there was only too much reason to fear
that the sun would never again shed his radiance upon the
But the captainâ€™s fears were groundless. In three hoursâ€™
time, without any intervening twilight, the morning sun
made its appearance in the west, and day once more had
32 HECTOR SERVADAC,
dawned. On consulting his watch, Servadac found that
night had lasted precisely six hours. Ben Zoof, who was
unaccustomed to so brief a period of repose, was still
â€œCome, wake up!â€ said Servadac, shaking him by the
shoulder ; â€œit is time to start.â€
â€œTime to start?â€ exclaimed Ben Zoof, rubbing his eyes.
â€œTJ feel as if I had only just gone to sleep.â€
â€œYou have slept all night, at any rate,â€ replied the
captain; â€œit has only been for six hours, but you must
make it enough.â€
â€œEnough it shall be, sir,â€ was the submissive rejoinder.
â€œAnd now,â€ continued Servadac, â€œwe will take the
shortest way back to the gourbi, and see what our horses
think about it all.â€
â€œ They will think that they ought to be groomed,â€ said
â€œVery good; you may groom them and saddle them as
quickly as you like. JI want to know what has become of
the rest of Algeria: if we cannot get round by the south
to Mostaganem, we must go eastwards to Tenes.â€
And forthwith they started. Beginning to feel hungry
they had no hesitation in gathering figs, dates, and oranges
from the plantations that formed a continuous rich and
luxuriant orchard along their path. The district was quite
deserted, and they had no reason to fear any legal penalty
for their depredations.
In an hour and a half they reached the gourbi. Every-
thing was just as they had left it. and it was evident that
no one had visited the place during their absence. All
was desolate as the shore they had quitted.
The preparations for the expedition were brief and
simple. Ben Zoof saddled the horses and filled his pouch
with biscuits and game; water, he felt certain, could be
obtained in abundance from the numerous affluents of the
Shelif, which, although they had now become tributaries
of the Mediterranean, still meandered through the plain.
Captain Servadac mounted his horse Zephyr, and Ben Zoof
**Come, wake up !â€
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION, 33
simultaneously got astride his mare Galette, named after
the mill of Montmartre. They galloped off in the direc-
tion of the Shelif, and were not long in discovering that the
diminution in the pressure of the atmosphere had precisely
the same effect upon their horses as it had had upon
themselves. Their muscular strength seemed five times as
great as hitherto ; their hoofs scarcely touched the ground,
and they seemed transformed from ordinary quadrupeds
into veritable hippogriffs. Happily, Servadac and his
orderly were fearless riders; they made no attempt to
curb their steeds, but even urged them to still greater
exertions. Twenty minutes sufficed to carry them over
the four or five miles that intervened between the gourbi
and the mouth of the Shelif; then, slackening their speed,
they proceeded at a more leisurely pace to the south-east,
along what had once been the right bank of the river, but
which, although it still retained its former characteristics,
was now the boundary of a sea, which extending farther
than the limits of the horizon, must have swallowed up at
least a large portion of the province of Oran. Captain Ser-
vadac knew the country well; he had at one time been
engaged upon a trigonometrical survey of the district, and
consequently had an accurate knowledge of its topography.
His idea now was to draw up a report of his investi-
gations: to whom that report should be delivered was a
problem he had yet to solve.
During the four hours of daylight that still remained,
the travellers rode about twenty-one miles from the river
mouth. To their vast surprise, they did not meet a single
human being. At nightfall they again encamped in a
slight bend of the shore, at a point which on the previous
evening had faced the mouth of the Mina, one of the left-
hand affluents of the Shelif, but now absorbed into the
newly revealed ocean. Ben Zoof made the sleeping
accommodation as comfortable as the circumstances would
allow ; the horses were clogged and turned out to feed
upon the rich pasture that clothed the shore, and the night
passed without special incident.
34 HECTOR SERVADAC.
At sunrise on the following morning, the 2nd oi
January, or what, according to the ordinary calendar,
would have been the night of the Ist, the captain and his
orderly remounted their horses, and during the six-hoursâ€™
day accomplished a distance of forty-two miles. The
right bank of the river still continued to be the margin of
the land, and only in one spot had its integrity been
impaired. This was about twelve miles from the Mina,
and on the site of the annex or suburb of Surkelmittoo.
Here a large portion of the bank had been swept away,
and the hamlet, with its eight hundred inhabitants, had no
doubt been swallowed up by the encroaching waters. It
seemed, therefore, more than probable that a similar fate
had overtaken the larger towns beyond the Shelif, and
that Mazagran, Mostaganem, and Orleansville had all been
annihilated. After skirting the small bay thus formed by
the rupture of the shore, Captain Servadac found himself
again upon the river bank, exactly opposite the site once
occupied by the mixed community of Ammi-Moossa, the
ancient Khamis of Beni-Ooragh ; but not a vestige of the
place remained. Even the Mankara Peak, below which it
had been built, and which was more than three thousand
feet in height, had totally disappeared.
In the evening the explorers encamped, as previously,
in a nook of the shore which here abruptly terminated their
new domain, not far from where they might have expected
to find the important village of Memounturroy; but of
this, too, there was now no trace.
â€œTI had quite reckoned upon a supper and a bed at
Orleansville to-night,â€ said Servadac, as, full of despond-
ency, he surveyed the drear waste of water.
â€œQuite impossible,â€ replied Ben Zoof, â€œexcept you
had gone by a boat. But cheer up, sir, cheer up; we will
soon devise some means for getting across to Mostaganem.â€
â€œTf, as I hope,â€ rejoined the captain, â€œwe are on a
peninsula, we are more likely to get to Tenes; there we
shall hear the news.â€
â€œFar more likely to carry the news ourselves,â€
They seemed transformed froma Ordinary Quadrupeds into Veritable
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION. 35
answered Ben Zoof, as he threw himself down for his
Six hours later, only waiting for sunrise, Captain
Servadac set himself in movement again to renew his
investigations. At the spot last chosen for encampment,
the shore, that hitherto had been running in a south-
easterly direction, turned abruptly to the north, being no
longer formed by the natural bank of the Shelif, but con-
sisting of an absolutely new coast-line. No land was in
sight. Nothing could be seen of Orleansville, which ought
to have been about six miles to the south-west ; and Ben
Zoof, who had mounted the highest point of view attain-
â€˜able, could distinguish sea, and nothing but sea, to the
Quitting their encampment and riding on, the be-
wildered explorers kept close to the new shore. | This,
since it had ceased to be formed by the original river-bank,
had considerably altered its aspect. Frequent landslips
occurred, and in many places deep chasms rifted the
ground; great gaps furrowed the fields, and trees, half
uprooted, overhung the waterâ€”some old olives being
especially remarkable by the fantastic distortions of their
gnarled trunks, looking as though they had been chopped
by a hatchet.
The sinuosities of the coast- line, arernaealy cully and
headland, had the effect of making a devious progress for
the travellers, and at sunset, although they had accom-
plished more than twenty miles, they had only just arrived
at the foot of the Merdeyah Mountains, which, before the
cataclysm, had formed the extremity of the chain of the
Little Atlas. The ridge, however, had been violently
ruptured, and now rose perpendicularly from the water.
On the following morning Servadac and Ben Zoof
traversed one of the mountain gorges; and next, in order
to make a more thorough acquaintance with the limits and
condition of the section of Algerian territory of which
they seemed to be left as the sole occupants, they dis-
mounted, and proceeded on foot to the summit of one of
36 HECTOR SERVADAC,
the highest peaks. From this elevation they ascertained
that from the base of the Merdeyah to the Mediterranean,
a distance of about eighteen miles, a new coast-line had
come into existence; no land was visible in any direction ;
no isthmus existed to form a connecting link with the
territory of Tenes, which had entirely disappeared. The
result was that Captain Servadac was driven to the irre-
sistible conclusion that the tract of land which he had
been. surveying was not, as he had at first imagined, a
peninsula; it was actually an island.
Strictly speaking, this island was quadrilateral, but the
sides were so irregular that it was much more nearly a
triangle, the comparison of the sides exhibiting these pro-
portions :â€”The section of the right bank of the Shelif,
seventy-two miles; the northern boundary from the Shelif
to the chain of the Little Atlas, twenty-one miles ; from
the Little Atlas to the shore of the Mediterranean, eighteen
miles; and sixty miles of the shore of the Mediterranean
itself, making in all an entire circumference of about 171
â€œWhat does it all mean?â€ exclaimed the captain, every
hour growing more and more bewildered.
â€œThe will of Providence, and we must submit,â€ replied
Ben Zoof, calm and undisturbed.
With this reflection, the two men silently descended the
mountain and remounted their horses, which had been
grazing quietly on the luxuriant herbage.,
Before evening the wayfarers had reached the Mediter-
ranean. On their road they failed to discern a vestige of
the little town of Montenotte ; like Tenes (of which not
so much as a ruined cottage was visible on the horizon), it
seemed to be annihilated.
On the following day, the 6th of January, the two
men made a forced march along the coast of the Mediter-
ranean, which they found in some degree less altered
than the captain had at first supposed ; but four villages,
Callaat-Chimah, Agniss, Marabout, and Pointe-Basse, had
entirely disappeared, and the headlands, unable to resist
THE CAPTAIN MAKES AN EXPLORATION. 37
the shock of the convulsion, had been detached from the
The circuit of the island had been now completed, and
the explorers, after a period of sixty hours, found them-
selves once more beside the ruins of their gourbi. Five
days, or what, according to the established order of things,
would have been two days and a half, had been occupied
in tracing the boundaries of their new domain; and
although not the only living occupants, inasmuch as herds
of cattle had been seen, they had ascertained beyond a
doubt that they were the sole human inhabitants left upon
â€œWell, sir; here you are, Governor-General of Algeria!â€
exclaimed Ben Zoof, as they reached the gourbi.
â€œWith not a soul to govern,â€ gloomily rejoined the
â€œHow so? Do you not reckon me?â€
â€œPshaw! Ben Zoof, what are you?â€
â€œWhat am I? Why, I am the population.â€
The captain deigned no reply, but, muttering some
expressions of regret for the fruitless trouble he had taken
about his rondo, betook himself to rest.
38 HECTOR SERVADAC.
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN,
IN a few minutes the governor-general and his population
were asleep. The gourbi being in ruins, they were obliged
to put up with the best accommodation they could find in
the adjacent erection. It must be owned that the captainâ€™s
slumbers were by no means sound ; he was agitated by
the consciousness that he had hitherto been unable to
account for his strange experiences by any reasonable
theory. Though far from being advanced in the know-
ledge of natural philosophy, he had been instructed, to a
certain degree, in its elementary principles; and, by an
effort of memory, he managed to recall some general laws
which he had almost forgotten. He could understand
that an altered inclination of the earthâ€™s axis with regard
to the ecliptic would introduce a change of position in the
cardinal points, and bring about a displacement of the sea ;
but the hypothesis entirely failed to account, either for
the shortening of the days, or for the diminution. in the
pressure of the atmosphere. He felt that his judgment
was utterly baffled; his only remaining hope was that the
chain of marvels was not yet complete, and that something
farther might occur which would throw some light upon
Ben Zoofâ€™s first care on the following morning was to
provide a good breakfast. To use his own phrase, he
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN. 36
was as hungry as the whole population of three million
Algerians, of whom he was the representative, and he
must have enough to eat. The catastrophe which had
overwhelmed the country had left a dozen eggs uninjured,
and upon these, with a good dish of his famous couscous,
he hoped that he and his master might have a sufficiently
substantial meal. The stove was ready for use, the copper
skillet was as bright as hands could make it, and the beads
of condensed steam upon the surface of a large stone
alcaraza gave evidence that it was supplied with water.
Ben Zoof at.once proceeded to light a fire, singing all the
time, according to his wont, a snatch of an old military
6 Veal! veal! is there any veal,
Enough to make a stew ?
Salt ! salt ! is there any salt,
To season what we do?â€
Ever on the look-out for fresh phenomena, Captain
Servadac watched the preparations with a curious eye.
It struck him that perhaps the air, in its strangely modified
condition, would fail to supply sufficient oxygen, and that
the stove, in consequence, might not fulfil its function.
But no; the fire was lighted just as usual, and fanned into
vigour by Ben Zoof applying his mouth in lieu of bellows,
and a bright flame started up from the midst of the twigs
and coal. The skillet was duly set upon the stove, and
Ben Zoof was prepared to wait awhile for the water to
boil. Taking up the eggs, he was surprised to notice that
they hardly weighed more than they would if they had
been mere shells ; but he was still more surprised when he
saw that before the water had been two minutes over the
fire it was at full boil.
â€œ By jingo!â€ he exclaimed, â€œthis is a precious hot
Servadac reflected. In a few moments he saidâ€”
â€œTt cannot be that the fire is hotter; the peculiarity
must be in the water:â€ â€˜
And taking down a centigrade thermometer, which he
40 HECTOR SERVADAC.
had hung upon the wall, he plunged it into the skillet.
Instead of 100Â°, he found that the instrument registered
â€œTake my advice, Ben Zoof,â€â€™ he said: â€œleave your
eggs in the saucepan a good quarter of an hour.â€
â€œBoil them hard! That will never do,â€ objected the
â€œYou will not find them hard, my good fellow. Trust
me, we shall be able to dip our sippets into the yolks
The captain was quite right in his conjecture, that this
new phenomenon was caused by a diminution in the pres-
sure of the atmosphere. Water boiling at a temperature
of 66Â° was itself an evidence that the column of air above
the earthâ€™s surface had become reduced by one-third of its
altitude. The identical phenomenon would have occurred
at the summit of a mountain 35,000 feet high; and had
Servadac been in possession of a barometer, he would have
immediately discovered the fact that only now for the first
time, as the result of experiment, revealed itself to himâ€”
a fact, moreover, which accounted for the compression of
the blood-vessels which both he and Ben Zoof had expe-
rienced, as well as for the attenuation of their voices and
their accelerated breathing.
â€œAnd yet,â€ he argued with himself, â€œif our encamp-
ment has been projected to so great an elevation, how is
it that the sea remains at its proper level ?â€
Once again Hector Servadac, though capable of tracing
consequences, felt himself totally at a loss to comprehend
their cause ; hence his agitation and bewilderment! Jnde
After their prolonged immersion in the boiling water,
the eggs were found to be only just sufficiently cooked;
the couscous was very much in the same condition; and
Ben Zoof came to the conclusion that in future he must
be careful to commence his culinary operations an hour
earlier than he had been accustomed. He was rejoiced
at last to help his master, who, in spite of his perplexed
Instead of 100Â°, the Instrument registered only 66Â°.
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN. 4I
pre-occupation, seemed to have a very fair appetite for
â€œWell, captain?â€ said Ben Zoof presently, such being
his ordinary way of opening conversation.
â€œWell, Ben Zoof?â€ was the captainâ€™s invariable response
to his servantâ€™s formula.
â€œWhat are we to do now, sir?â€
â€œWe can only for the present wait patiently here we
are. Weare encamped upon an island, and therefore we
can only be rescued by sea.â€
â€œBut do you suppose that any of our friends are still
alive ?â€ asked Ben Zoof.
â€œOh, I think we must induige the hope that this
catastrophe has not extended far. We must trust that
it has limited its mischief to some small portion of the
Algerian coast, and that our friends are all alive and well.
No doubt the governor-general will be anxious to inves-
tigate the full extent of the damage that has been done,
and will send a vessel from Algiers to explore. It is not
likely that we shall be forgotten. What, then, you have
to do, Ben Zoof, is to keep a sharp look-out, and to be
ready, in case a vessel should appear, to make signals at
â€œBut if no vessel should appear!â€ sighed the orderly.
â€œThen we must build a boat, and go in search of those
who do not come in search of us.â€
â€œVery good, captain. But what sort of a sailor are
â€œEvery one can be a sailor when he must,â€ said Servadac
Ben Zoof said no more. For several succeeding days
he scanned the horizon unintermittently with his tele-
scope. His watching was all in vain. No ship appeared
upon the desert sea.
â€œBy the name of a Kabyle!â€ he broke out impatiently,
â€œhis Excellency is grossly negligent !â€
Although the days and nights had become reduced
from twenty-four hours to twelve, Captain Servadac would
42 HECTOR SERVADAC.
not accept the new condition of things, but resolved to
adhere to the computations of the old calendar. Notwith-
standing, therefore, that the sun had risen and set twelve
times since the commencement of the new year, he per-
sisted in calling the following day the 6th of January.
His watch enabled him to keep an accurate account of
the passing hours.â€ On a pendulum clock, the diminution
of atmospheric pressure would no doubt have caused a
large disturbance ; but the spring of a good watch would
be insensibly affected by the change of condition, and,
once regulated to the new physical. status, might be ex-
pected to act with fair precision.
In the course of his life, Ben Zoot had read a few
books. After sitting pondering one day, he saidâ€”
â€œTt seems to me, captain, that you have turned into
Robinson Crusoe, and that I am your man Friday. I hope
I have not become a nigger.â€
â€œNo,â€ replied the captain. â€œYour complexion isnâ€™t the
fairest in the world, but you are not a nigger yet.â€
â€œWell, I had much sooner be a white Friday than a
black one,â€ rejoined Ben Zoof.
Still no ship appeared ; and Captain Servadac, after
the example of all previous Crusoes, began to consider
it advisable to investigate the resources of his domain.
The new territory of which he had become the monarch
he named Gourbi Island. It had a superficial area of
about nine hundred square miles. Bullocks, cows, goats,
and sheep existed in considerable numbers; and as there
seemed already to be an abundance of game, it was hardly
likely that a future supply would fail them. The condition
of the cereals was such as to promise a fine ingathering of
wheat, maize, and rice; so that for the governor and his
population, with their two horses, not only was there ample
provision, but even if other human inhabitants besides
themselves should yet be discovered, there was not the
remotest prospect of any of them perishing by starvation.
From the 6th to the 13th of January the rain came
down in torrents ; and, what was quite an unusual occur-
His watching was all in vain,
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN. ; 43
rence at this season of the year, several heavy storms
broke over the island. In spite, however, of the continual
downfall, the heavens still remained veiled in cloud.
Servadac, moreover, did not fail to observe that for the
season the temperature was unusually high; and, as a
matter still more surprising, that it kept steadily increas-
ing, as though the earth were gradually an1 continuously
approximating to the sun. In proportion to the rise of
temperature, the light also assumed greater intensity ; and
if it had not been for the screen of vapour interposed
between the sky and the island, the irradiation which
would have illumined all terrestrial objects would have
been vivid beyond all precedent.
But neither sun, moon, nor star ever appeared; and
Servadacâ€™s irritation and annoyance at being unable to
identify any one point of the firmament may be more
readily imagined than described. On one occasion Ben
Zoof endeavoured to mitigate his masterâ€™s impatience by
exhorting him to assume the resignation, even if he did
not feel the indifference, which he himself experienced ;
but his advice was received with so angry a rebuff that
he retired in all haste, abashed, to resume his watchmanâ€™s
duty, which he performed with exemplary perseverance.
Day and night, with the shortest possible intervals of rest,
despite wind, rain, and storm, he mounted guard upon
the cliffâ€”but all in vain. Not a speck appeared upon the
desolate horizon. To say the truth, no vessel could have
stood against the weather. The hurricane raged with
tremendous fury, and the waves rose to a height that
seemed to defy calculation. Never, even in the second
era of creation, when, under the influence of internal heat,
the waters rose in vapour to descend in deluge back upon
the world, could meteorological phenomena have beer
developed with more impressive intensity.
But by the night of the 13th the tempest appeared to
have spent its fury ; the wind dropped ; the rain ceased as
if by a spell ; and Servadac, who for the last six days had
confined himself to the shelter of his roof, hastened to joi
44 HECTOR SERVADAC,
Ben Zoof at his post upon the cliff. Now, he thought, there
might be a chance of solving his perplexity ; perhaps now
the huge disc, of which he had had an imperfect glimpse
on the night of the 31st of December, might again reveal
itself; at any rate, he hoped for an opportunity of obsery-
ing the constellations in a clear firmament above.
The night was magnificent. Not a cloud dimmed the
lustre of the stars, which spangled the heavens in surpassing
brilliancy, and several nebulz which hitherto no astronomer
had been able to discern without the aid of a telescope
were clearly visible to the naked eye.
By a natural impulse, Servadacâ€™s first thought was to
observe the position of the pole-star. It was in sight, but
so near to the horizon as to suggest the utter impossibility
of its being any longer the central pivot of the siderial
system ; it occupied a position through which it was out of
the question that the axis of the earth indefinitely pro-
longed could ever pass. In his impression he was more
thoroughly confirmed when, an hour later, he noticed that
the star had sensibly approached still nearer the horizon,
as though it had belonged to one of the zodiacal constella-
The pole-star being manifestly thus displaced, it
remained to be discovered whether any other of the
celestial bodies had become a fixed centre around which
the constellations made their apparent daily revolutions.
â€˜To the solution of this problem Servadac applied himself
with the most thoughtful diligence. After patient obser,
vation, he satisfied himself that the required conditions
were answered by a certain star that was stationary not far
from the horizon. This was Vega, in the constellation
Lyra, a star which, according to the precession of the equi-
noxes, will take the place of our pole-star 12,000 years
hence. The most daring imagination could not suppose
that a period of 12,000 years had been crowded into the
space of a fortnight ; and therefore the captain came, as to
an easier conclusion, to the opinion that the earthâ€™s axis
had been suddenly and immensely shifted ; and from the
â€˜Â¢Tt is not the Moon.â€
BEN ZOOF WATCHES IN VAIN. 45
fact that the axis, if produced, would pass through a point
so little removed above the horizon, he deduced the in-
ference that the Mediterranean must have been transported
to the Equator.
Lost in bewildering maze of thought, he gazed long and
intently upon the heavens. His eyes wandered from where
the tail of the Great Bear, now a zodiacal constellation,
was scarcely visible above the waters, to where the stars of
the southern hemisphere were just breaking on his view.
A cry from Ben Zoof recalled him to himself.
â€œThe moon!â€ shouted the orderly, as though overjoyed
at once again beholding what the poet has calledâ€”
*â€˜ The kind companion of terrestrial night ;â€
and he pointed to a disc that was rising at a spot precisely
opposite the place where they would have expected to see
â€œThe moon!â€ again he cried.
But Captain Servadac could not altogether enter into
his servantâ€™s enthusiasm. If this were actually the moon,
her distance from the earth must -have been increased by
some millions of miles. He was rather disposed to suspect
that it was not the earthâ€™s satellite at all, but some planet
with its apparent magnitude greatly enlarged by its ap-
proximation to the earth. Taking up the powerful field-
glass which he was accustomed to use in his surveying
operations, he proceeded to investigate more carefully the
character of the luminous orb. But he failed to trace any
of the lineaments, supposed to reseinble a human face, that
mark the lunar surface ; he failed to decipher any indica-
tions of hill and plain ; nor could he make out the aureole
of light which emanates from what astronomers have
designated Mount Tycho.
â€œTt is not the moon,â€ he said, slowly.
â€œNot the moon?â€ cried Ben Zoof. â€œWhy not?â€
â€œTt is not the moon,â€ again affirmed the captain. Â°
â€œWhy not ?â€ repeated Ben Zoof, unwilling to renounce
his first impression.
46 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œ Because there is a small satellite in attendance.â€
And the captain drew his servant's attention to a bright
speck (apparently about the size of one of Jupiter's
satellites seen through a moderate telescope) that was
clearly visible just within the focus of his glass.
Here, then, was a fresh mystery. The orbit of the
planet was assuredly interior to the orbit of the earth,
because it accompanied the sun in its apparent motion ;
yet it was neither Mercury nor Venus, because neither one
nor the other of these has any satellite at all.
The captain stamped and stamped again with mingled
vexation, agitation, and bewilderment.
â€œ Confound it!â€ he cried, â€œif this is neither Venus nor
Mercury, it must be the moon; but if it is the moon,
whence, in the name of all the gods, has she picked up
another moon for herself ?â€
The captain was in dire perplexity:
( 47 )
VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY.
THE light of the returning sun soon extinguished the glory
of the stars, and rendered it necessary for the captain to
postpone his observations until future cloudless nights.
He had sought in vain for further trace of the huge disc
that had so excited his wonder on the Ist, and it seemed
most probable that, in its irregular orbit, it had been carried
beyond the range of vision.
The weather was still superb. The wind, after veering
to the west, had sunk to a perfect calm. Pursuing its
inverted course, the sun rose and set with undeviating
regularity ; and the days and nights were still divided into
periods of precisely six hours eachâ€”a sure proof that the
sun remained close to the new equator which manifestly
passed through Gourbi Island.
Meanwhile the temperature was steadily increasing.
The captain kept his thermometer close at hand where he
could repeatedly consult it, and on the 15th he found that
it registered 50Â° centigrade in Â«he shade.
No attempt had been made to rebuild the gourbi, but
the captain and Ben Zoof managed to make up quarters
sufficiently comfortable in the principal apartment of the
adjoining structure, where the stone walls, that at first
afforded a refuge from the torrents of rain, now formed an
equally acceptable shelter from the burning sun. The heat
was becoming insufferable, surpassing the heat of Senegal
48 ITECTOR SERVADAC.
and other equatorial regions ; not a cloud ever tempered
the intensity of the solar rays; and unless some modification
ensued, it seemed inevitable that all vegetation should
become scorched and burnt off from the face of the island.
- Im spite, however, of the profuse perspirations from
which he suffered, Ben Zoof, constant to. his principles,
expressed no surprise at the unwonted heat. No remon-
strances from his master could induce him to abandon
his watch from the cliff. To withstand the vertical beams
of that noontide sun would seem to require a skin of. brass
and a brain of adamant; but yet, hour after hour, he
would remain conscientiously scanning the surface of the
Mediterranean, which, calm and deserted, lay outstretched
before him. On one occasion Servadac, in reference to
his orderlyâ€™s indomitable perseverance, happened to remark
that he thought he must have been born on the banks of
the Gaboon, in the heart of equatorial Africa ; to which
Ben Zoof replied, with the utmost dignity, that he was
born at Montmartre, which was all the same. The worthy
fellow was unwilling to own that, even in the matter of
heat, the tropics could in any way surpass his own much-
This unprecedented temperature very soon began to
take effect upon the products of the soil. The sap rose
rapidly in the trees, so that in the course of a few days
buds, leaves, flowers, and fruit had come to full maturity.
It was the same with the cereals: wheat and maize
sprouted and ripened as if by magic, and for a while a
rank and luxuriant pasturage clothed the meadows.
Summer and autumn seemed blended into one. If
Captain Servadac had been more deeply versed in astro-
nomy, he would perhaps have been able to bring to bear
his knowledge that if the axis of the earth, as everything
seemed to indicate, now formed a right angle with the
nlane of the ecliptic, her various seasons, like those of the
vlanet Jupiter, would become limited to certain zones, in
which they would remain invariable. But even if he had
understood the rationale of the change, the convulsion
Meanwhile Servadac was doing his utmost to recall the Lessons of his
VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY. : 49
that had brought it about would have been as much a
mystery as ever.
The precocity of vegetation caused some embarrass-
ment. The time for the corn and fruit harvest had fallen
simultaneously with that of the hay-making ; and as the
extreme heat precluded any prolonged exertions, it was
evident â€œthe populationâ€ of the island would find it diffi-
cult to provide the necessary amount of labour. Not that
the prospect gave them much concern: the provisions
of the gourbi were still far from exhausted, and now that
the roughness of the weather had so happily subsided,
they had every encouragement to hope that a ship of some
sort would soon appear. Not only was that part of the
Mediterranean systematically frequented by the govern-
ment steamers that watched the coast, but vessels of all
nations were constantly cruising off the shore.
In spite, however, of all their sanguine speculations, no
ship appeared. Ben Zoof admitted the necessity of ex-
temporizing a kind of parasol for himself, otherwise he
must literally have been roasted to death upon the exposed
summit of the cliff.
Meanwhile, Servadac was doing his. utmostâ€”it must
be acknowledged, with indifferent successâ€”to recall. the
lessons of his school-days. He would plunge into the
wildest speculations in his endeavours to unravel the diffi-
culties of the new situation, and struggled into a kind of
conviction that if there had been a change of manner in
the earthâ€™s rotation on her axis, there would be a corre-
sponding change in her revolution round the sun, which
would involve the consequence of the length of the year
being either diminished or increased.
Independently of the increased and increasing heat,
there was another very conclusive demonstration that the
earth had thus suddenly approximated towards the sun.
The diameter of the solar disc-was now exactly twice what
it ordinarily looks to the naked eye; in fact, it was pre-
cisely such as it would appear to an observer on the surface
of the planet Venus. The most obvious inference would
5O HECTOR SERVADAC.
therefore be that the earthâ€™s distance from the sun had
been diminished from 91,000,000 to 65,000,000 miles. If
the just equilibrium of the earth had thus been destroyed,
and should this diminution of distance still continue, would
there not be reason to fear that the terrestrial world would
be carried onwards to actual contact with the sun, which
must result in its total annihilation ?
The continuance of the splendid .weather afforded
Servadac every facility for observing the heavens. Night
after night, constellations in their beauty lay stretched
before his eyesâ€”an alphabet which, to his mortification,
not to say his rage, he was unable to decipher. In the
apparent dimensions of the fixed stars, in their distance,
in their relative position with regard to each other, he could
observe no change. Although it is established that our
sun is approaching the constellation of Hercules at the
rate of more than 126,000,000 miles a year, and although
Arcturus is travelling through space at the rate of fifty-four
miles a secondâ€”three times faster than the earth goes
round the sun,â€”yet such is the remoteness of those stars
that no appreciable change is evident to the senses. The
fixed stars taught him nothing,
Far otherwise was it with the planets. The orbits of
Venus and Mercury are within the orbit of the earth,
Venus rotating at an average distance of 66,130,000 miles
from the sun, and Mercury at that of 35,393,000. After
pondering long, and as profoundly as he could, upon these
figures, Captain Servadac came to the conclusion that, as
the earth was now receiving about double the amount of
light and heat that it had been receiving before the cata-
strophe, it was receiving about the same as the planet
Venus; he was driven, therefore, to the estimate of the
measure in which the earth must have approximated to
the sun, a deduction in which he was confirmed when the
opportunity came for him to observe Venus herself in the
splendid proportions that she now assumed.
That magnificent planet whichâ€”as Phosphorus or Luci-
fer, Hesperus or Vesper, the evening star, the morning
. VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY. 51
star, or the shepherdâ€™s starâ€”has never failed to attract the
rapturous admiration of the most indifferent observers,
here revealed herself with unprecedented glory, exhibiting
all the phases of a lustrous moon in miniature. Various
indentations in the outline of its crescent showed that the
solar beams were refracted into regions of its surface where
the sun had already set, and proved, beyond a doubt, that
the planet had â€˜an atmosphere of her own; and certain
luminous points projecting from the crescent as plainly
marked the existence of mountainsâ€”mountains to which
Schroeter has assigned an altitude ten times greater than
that of Mont Blanc, being ;4,4th part of the radius of the
As the result of Servadacâ€™s computations, he formed the
opinion that Venus could hardly be at a greater distance
than 6,000,000 miles from the earth.
â€œAnd a very safe distance, too,â€ said Ben Zoof, when
his master told him the conclusion at which he had arrived.
â€œAll very well for two armies, but for a couple of
planets not quite so safe, perhaps, as you may imagine.
It is my impression that it is more than likely we may run
foul of Venus,â€ said the captain.
â€œPlenty of air and water there, sir?â€ inquired the
â€œYes ; as far as I can tell, plenty,â€ replied Servadac.
â€œThen why shouldnâ€™t we go and visit Venus? â€
Servadac did his best to explain that as the two planets
were of about equal volume, and were travelling with great
velocity in opposite directions, any collision between them
must be attended with the most disastrous consequences
to one or both of them. But Ben Zoof failed to see that,
even at the worst, the catastrophe could be much more
serious than the collision of two railway trains.
The captain became fairly exasperated.
â€œYou idiot!â€ he angrily exclaimed; â€œcannot you
* The highest mountains on tite earth do not exceed ;ioth part of the
earthâ€™s vadius. :
52 HECTOR SERVADAC.
understand that the planets are travelling a thousand times
faster than the fastest express, and that if they meet,
either one or the other must be destroyed? What would
become of your darling Montmartre then?â€
The captain had touched a tender chord. For a mo-
ment Ben Zoof stood with clenched teeth and contracted
muscles; then, in a voice of real concern, he inquired
whether anything could be done to avert the calamity.
â€œNothing whatever; so you may go about your own
business,â€ was the captainâ€™s brusque rejoinder.
All discomfited and bewildered, Ben Zoof retired
without a word.
During the ensuing days the distance between the two
planets continued to decrease, and it became more and
more obvious that the earth, on her new orbit, was about
to cross the orbit of Venus.
Throughout this time the earth had been making a
perceptible approach towards Mercury, and that planetâ€”
which is rarely visible to the naked eye, and then only at
whatâ€™ are termed the periods of its greatest eastern and
western elongationsâ€”now appeared in all its splendour.
It amply justified the epithet of â€œsparklingâ€ which the
ancients were accustomed to confer upon it, and could
scarcely fail to awaken a new interest. The periodic
recurrence of its phases; its reflection of the sunâ€™s rays,
shedding upon it a light and a heat seven times greater
than that received by the earth; itsâ€™ glacial and its torrid
zones, which, on account of the great inclination of the
axis, are scarcely separable; its equatorial bands; its
mountains eleven miles high ;â€”were all subjects of observa-
tion worthy of the most studious regard.
But no danger was to be apprehended from Mercury ;
with Venus only did collision appear imminent. By the
18th of January the distance between that planet and the
earth had become reduced to between two and three mil-
lions of miles, and the intensity of its light had cast heavy
shadows from all terrestrial objects. It might be observed
to turn upon its own axis in twenty-three hours twenty-one
VENUS IN PERILOUS PROXIMITY. 53
minutesâ€”an evidence, from the unaltered duration of its
days, that the planet had not shared in the disturbance.
On its disc the clouds formed from its atmospheric vapour
were plainly perceptible, as also were the seven spots,
which, according to Bianchini; are a chain of seas. It was
now visible in broad daylight. Buonaparte, when under
the Directory, once had his attention called to Venus at
noon, and immediately hailed it joyfully, recognizing it as
his own peculiar star in the ascendant. Captain Servadac,
it may well be imagined, did not experience the same
On the 2oth, the distance between the two bodies had
again sensibly diminished. The captain had ceased to be
surprised that no vessel had been sent to rescue himself
and his companion from their strange imprisonment ; the
governor-general and the minister of war were doubtless
far differently occupied, and their interests far otherwise
engrossed. What sensational articles, he thought, must
now be teeming to the newspapers! What crowds must
be flocking to the churches! The end of the world
approaching! the great climax close at hand! Two days
more, and the earth, shivered into a myriad atoms, would
be lost in boundless space! ;
These dire forebodings, however, were not destined to
be realized. Gradua'ly the distance between the two
planets began to increase ; the planes of their orbits did
not coincide, and accordingly the dreaded catastrophe did
not ensue. By the 25th, Venus was sufficiently remote to
preclude any further fear of collision. Ben Zoof gave a
sigh of relief when the captain communicated the glad
Their proximity to Venus had been close enough to
demonstrate that beyond a doubt that planet has no moon
or satellite such as Cassini, Short, Montaigne of Limoges,
Montbarron, and some other astronomers have imagined
to exist. .
â€œHad there been such a satellite,â€ said Servadac, â€œwe
might have captured it in passing. But what can be the
54 HECTOR SERVADAC.
meaning,â€ he added seriously, â€œof all this displacement of
the heavenly bodies ?â€
â€œWhat is that great building at Paris, captain, with a
top like a cap?â€ asked Ben Zoof.
â€œDo you mean the Observatory ?â€
â€œYes, the Observatory. Are there not people living in
the Observatory who could explain all this ?â€
â€œVery likely ; but what of that?â€
â€œLet us be philosophers, and wait patiently until we
can hear their explanation.â€
â€œDo you know what it is to be a philosopher, Ben
Zoof?â€ he asked.
â€œT am a soldier, sir,â€™ was the servantâ€™s prompt re-
joinder, â€œand I have learnt to know that â€˜what canâ€™t be
cured must be endured.â€™ â€
The captain made no reply, but for a time, at least, he
desisted from puzzling himself over matters which he felt
he was utterly incompetent to explain. But an event soon
afterwards occurred which awakened his keenest interest as
likely to influence his future proceedings.
About nine oâ€™clock on the morning of the 27th, Ben
Zoof walked deliberately into his masterâ€™s apartment, and,
in reply to a question as to what he wanted, announced
with the utmost composure that a ship was in sight.
â€œA ship!â€ exclaimed Servadac, starting to his feet.
â€œA ship! Ben Zoof, you donkey! â€˜you speak as uncon-
cernedly as though you were telling me that my dinner
â€œ Are we not philosophers, captain?â€ said the orderly.
But the captain was out of hearing,
The Observatory at Paris,
( 55 )
Fast as his legs could carry him, Servadac had made his
way to the top of the cliff. It was quite true that a vessel
was in sight, hardly more than six miles from the shore;
but owing to the increase in the earthâ€™s convexity, and the
consequent limitation of the range of vision, the rigging of
the topmasts alone was visible above the water. This was
enough, however, to indicate that the ship was a schooner
â€”an impression that was confirmed when, two hours later,
she came entirely in sight
â€œThe Dobryna!â€ exclaimed Servadac, keeping his eye
unmoved at his telescope.
â€œImpossible, sir!â€ rejoined Ben Zoof; â€œthere are no
signs of smoke.â€
â€œThe Dobryna!â€ repeated the captain, positively. â€œShe
is under sail, but that schooner is Count Timascheffâ€™s
He was right, If the count were on board, a strange
fatality was bringing him to the presence of his rival. But
no longer now. could Servadac regard him in the light
of an adversary ; circumstances had changed, and all
animosity was absorbed in the eagerness with which he
hailed the prospect of obtaining some information about
the recent startling and inexplicable events. During the
twenty-seven days that she had been absent, the Dodryna,
he conjectured, would have explored the Mediterranean,
56 HECTOR SERVADAC.
would very probably have visited Spain, France, or Italy,
and accordingly would convey to Gourbi Island some
intelligence from one or other of those countries. He
reckoned, therefore, not only upon ascertaining the extent
of the late catastrophe, but upon learning its cause. Count
Timascheff was, no doubt, magnanimously coming to the
rescue of himself and his orderly.
The wind being adverse, the Dobryna did not make
very rapid progress; but as the weather, in spite of a few
clouds, remained calm, and the sea was quite smooth, she
was enabled to hold a steady course. It seemed unac-
countable that she should not use her engine, as whoever
was on board would be naturally impatient to reconnoitre
the new island, which must just have come within their
view. The probability that suggested itself was that the
schoonerâ€™s fuel was exhausted.
Servadac took it for granted that the Dodryna was
endeavouring to put in. It occurred to him, however, that
the count, on discovering an island where he had expected
to find the mainland of Africa, would not unlikely be at a
loss for a place of anchorage. The yacht was evidently
making her way in the direction of the former mouth of
the Shelif, and the captain was struck with the idea that
he would do well to investigate whether there was any
suitable mooring towards which he might signal her.
Zephyr and Galette were soon saddled, and in twenty
minutes had carried their riders to the western extremity
of the island, where they both dismounted and began to
explore the coast.
They were not long in ascertaining that on the farther
side of. the point there was a small well-sheltered creek
of sufficient depth to accommodate a vessel of moderate
tonnage. A narrow channel formed a passage through
the ridge of rocks that protected it from the open sea, and
which, even in the roughest weather, would ensure the
calmness of its waters.
Whilst examining the rocky shore, the captain observed,
to his great surprise, long and well-defined rows of seaweed,
â€œÂ¢ Before we speak one other word, tell me what has happened.â€
INQUIRIES UNSATISFIED. 57
which undoubtedly betokened that there had been a very
considerable ebb and flow of the watersâ€”a thing unknown
in the Mediterranean, where there is scarcely any per-
ceptible tide. What, however, seemed most remarkable,
was the manifest evidence that ever since the highest flood
(which was caused, in all probability, by the proximity of
the body of which the huge disc had been so conspicuous
on the night of the 31st of December) the phenomenon
had been gradually lessening, and in fact was now reduced
to the normal limits which had characterized it before the
_ Without doing more than note the circumstance,
Servadac turned his entire attention to the Dodryna, which,
now little more than a mile from shore, could not fail to
see and understand his signals. Slightly changing her
course, she first struck her mainsail, and, in order to facilitate
the movements of her helmsman, soon carried nothing but
her two topsails, brigantine and jib. After rounding the
peak, she steered direct for the channel to which Servadac
by his gestures was pointing her, and was not long in
entering the creek. As soon as the anchor, imbedded in
the sandy bottom, had made good its hold, a boat was
lowered. In a few minutes more Count Timascheff had
landed.on the island. Captain Servadac hastened towards
â€œFirst of all, count,â€ he exclaimed impetuously, â€œbefore
we speak one other word, tell me what has happened.â€
_The count, whose imperturbable composure presented
a singular contrast to the French officerâ€™s enthusiastic
vivacity, made a stiff bow, and in his Russian accent
â€œFirst of all, permit me to express my surprise at
seeing you here. I left you on a continent, and here I
have the honour of finding you on an island.â€
â€œT assure you, count, I have never left the place.â€
â€œIT am quite aware of it, Captain Servadac, and I now
beg to offer you my sincere apologies for failing to keep
my appointment with you.â€
58 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œNever mind, now,â€ interposed the captain, hastily;
â€œwe will talk of that by-and-by. First, tell me what has
â€œThe very question I was about to put to you, Captain
â€œDo you mean, then, to say that you know nothing of
the cause, and can tell me nothing of the extent, of the
catastrophe which has transformed this part of Africa into
â€œNothing more than you know yourself,â€ was the
â€œBut surely, Count Timascheff, you can inform me
whether upon the northern shore of the Mediterraneanâ€”â€”â€
â€œAre you certain that this is the Mediterranean?â€
asked the count significantly, and added, â€œI have dis-
covered no sign of land.â€
The captain stared in silent bewilderment. For some
moments he seemed perfectly stupified ; then, recovering
himself, he began to overwhelm the count with a torrent of
questions. Had he noticed, ever since the Istâ€™ of January,
that the sun had risen in the west? Had he noticed that
the days had been only six hours long, and that the weight
of the atmosphere was so much diminished? Had he
observed that the moon had quite disappeared, and that the
earth had been in imminent hazard of running foul of the
planet Venus? Was he aware, in short, that the entire
motions of the terrestrial sphere had undergone a complete
modification? To all these inquiries, the count responded
in the affirmative. He was acquainted with everything
that had transpired; but, to Servadacâ€™s increasing astonish-
ment, he could throw no light upon the cause of any of
â€œOn the night of the 31st of December,â€ he â€˜said, â€œ I
was proceeding by sea to our appointed place of meeting,
when my yacht was suddenly caught on the crest of an
enormous wave, and carried to a height which it is beyond
my power to estimate. Some mysterious force seemed to
have brought about a convulsion of the elements. Our
INQUIRIES UNSATISFIED. 59
engine was damaged, nay disabled, and we drifted entirely
at the mercy of the terrible hurricane that raged during
the succeeding days. That the Dodryna escaped at all is
little less than a miracle, and I can only attribute her
safety to the fact that she occupied the centre of the vast
cyclone, and consequently did not experience much change
He paused, and added:
â€œYour island is the first land we have seen.â€
â€œThen let us put out to sea at once and ascertain the
extent of the disaster,â€ cried the captain, eagerly. â€œYou
will take me on board, count, will you not?â€
â€œMy yacht is at your service, sir, even should you
require to make a tour round the world.â€
-Â©â€œA tour round the Mediterranean will suffice for the
present, I think,â€ said the captain, smiling.
The count shook his head.
â€œT am not sure,â€ said he, â€œbut what the tour of the
Mediterranean will prove to be the tour of the world.â€
Servadac made no reply, but for a time remained silent
and absorbed in thought.
After the silence was broken, they consulted as to what
course was best to pursue; and the plan they proposed
was, in the first place, to discover how much of the African
coast still remained, and to carry on the tidings of their
own experiences to Algiers ; or, in the event of the southern
shore having actually disappeared, they would make their
way northwards and put themselves in communication
with the population on the river-banks of Europe.
Before starting, it was indispensable that the engine of
the Dobryna should be repaired : to sail under canvas only
would in contrary winds and rough seas be both tedious
and difficult. The stock of coal on board was adequate
for two monthsâ€™ consumption; but as it would at the
expiration of that time be exhausted, it was obviously the
part of prudence to employ it in reaching a port where
fuel could be replenished.
The damage sustained by the engine proved to be not
60 HECTOR SERVADAC.
very serious. Some of the boiler-tubes had cracked,
allowing the water in consequence to run into the furnace ;
but as several spare tubes had been stored in the yacht,
these were available to replace the old ones, and in three
days after her arrival the Dodryna was again ready to put
Servadac employed the interval in making the. count
acquainted with all he knew about his small domain. They
made an entire circuit of the island, and both agreed that
it must be beyond the limits of that circumscribed territory
that they must seek an explanation of what had so strangely
It was on the last day of January that the repairs of
the schooner were completed. A slight diminution in the
excessively high temperature which had prevailed for the
last few weeks, was the only apparent change in the general
order of things; but whether this was to be attributed to
any alteration in the earthâ€™s orbit was a question which
would still require several days to decide. The weather
remained fine, and although a few clouds had accumu-
lated, and might have caused a trifling fall of the baro-
meter, they were not sufficiently ere to delay the
departure of the Dobryna.
Doubts now arose, and some tecision followed, whether
or not it was desirable for Ben Zoof to accompany his
master. There were various reasons why he should be
left behind, not the least important being that the schooner
had no accommodation for horses, and the orderly would
have found it hard to part with Zephyr, and much more
with his own favourite Galette; besides, it was advisable
that there should be some one left to receive any strangers
that might possibly arrive, as well as to keep an eye upon
the herds of cattle which, in the dubious prospect before
them, might prove to be the sole resource of the survivors
of the catastrophe. Altogether, taking into consideration
that the brave fellow would incur no personal risk by re-
maining upon the island, the captain was induced with
much reluctance to forego the attendance of his servant,
INQUIRIES UNSATISFIED. 61
hoping very shortly to return and to restore him to his
country, when he had ascertained the reason of the
mysteries in which they were enveloped.
On the 31st, then, Ben Zoof was â€œinvested with
governors powers,â€ and took an affecting leave of his
master, begging him, if chance should carry him near
Montmartre, to ascertain whether the beloved â€œ mountain â€
had been left unmoved.
Farewell over, the Dobdryna was carefully steered
through the creek, and was soon upon the open sea.
62 ITECTOR SERVADAC,
A SEARCH FOR ALGERIA.
THE Dobryna, a strong craft of 200 tons burden, had been
built in the famous ship-building yards in the Isle of
Wight. Her sea-going qualities were excellent, and would
â€œhave amply sufficed for a circumnavigation of the globe ;
in fact, the ships in which Columbus and Magellan took
their voyages across the Atlantic were far inferior both in
size and in construction.. Her store-compartments were
capacious, and carried provisions enough for several months,
so that she was quite capable of maliig the entire circuit
of the Mediterranean without any necessity for re-victual-
ling. Neither was there any occasion for her to take in
fresh ballast at Gourbi Island. The weight of the water
had diminished in precisely the same ratio as that of
all material objects, consequently the conditions of the
schoonerâ€™s gravity remained undisturbed.
Count Timascheff was himself no sailor, but had the
greatest confidence in leaving the command of his yacht
in the hands of Lieutenant Procope, a man of about thirty
years of age, and an excellent seaman.
Born on the countâ€™s estates, the son of a serf who had
been emancipated long before the famous edict of the
Emperor Alexander, Procope was sincerely attached, by
a tie of gratitude as well as of duty and affection, to his
patronâ€™s service. After an apprenticeship on a merchant
ship he had entered the imperial navy, and had already
A SEARCH FOR ALGERIA. 63
reached the rank of lieutenant when the count appointed
him to the charge of his own private yacht, in which
he was accustomed to spend by far the greater part of
his time, throughout the winter generally cruising in the
Mediterranean, whilst in the summer he visited more
The ship could not have been in better hands. The
lieutenant was well informed in many matters outside
the pale of his profession, and his attainments were
alike creditable to himself and to the liberal friend who
had given him his education. He had an excellent crew,
consisting of Tiglew the engineer, four sailors named
Niegoch, Tolstoy, Etkef, and Panofka, and Mochel the
cook. These men, without exception, were all sons of the
countâ€™s tenants, and so tenaciously, even out at sea, did
they cling to their old traditions, that it mattered little to
them what physical disorganization ensued, so long as they
felt they were sharing the experiences of their lord and
master. The late astounding events, however, had ren-
dered Procope manifestly uneasy, and not the less so from
his consciousness that the count secretly partook of his
Steam up and cavas spread, the schooner started east-
wards. With a favourable wind she would certainly have
made eleven knots an hour had not the high waves some-
what impeded her progress. Although only a moderate
breeze was blowing, the sea was rough, a circumstance to
be accounted for only by the diminution in the force of the
earthâ€™s attraction rendering the liquid particles so buoyant,
that by the mere effect of oscillation they were carried to a
height that was quite unprecedented. M. Arago has fixe 1
twenty-five or twenty-six feet as the maximum elevation
ever attained by the highest waves, and his astonishment
would have been very great to see them rising fifty or even
sixty feet. Nor did these waves in the usual way par-
tially unfurl themselves and rebound against the sides of
the vessel; they might rather be described as long undu-
lations carrying the schooner (its weight diminished from
54 HECTOR SERVADAC.
the same cause as that of the water) alternately to such
heights and depths, that if Captain Servadac had been
subject to sea-sickness he must have found himself in sorry
plight. As the pitching, however, was the result of a long
uniform swell, the yacht did not labour much harder than
she would against the ordinary short strong waves of the
Mediterranean ; the main inconvenience that was expe-
rienced was the diminution in her proper rate of speed.
For a few miles she followed the line hitherto pre-
sumably occupied by the coast of Algeria; but no land
appeared to the south. The changed positions of the
planets rendered them of no avail for purposes of nautical
observation, nor could Lieutenant Procope calculate his
intitude and longitude by the altitude of the sun, as his
reckonings would be useless when applied to charts that had
been constructed for the old order of things; but neverthe-
less, by means of the log, which gave him the rate of pre
gress, and by the compass, which indicated the direction
in which they were sailing, he was able to form an estimate
of his position that was sufficiently free from error for his
Happily the recent phenomena had no effect upon the
compass ; the magnetic needle, which in these regions had
pointed about 22Â° â€˜from the north pole, had never deviated
in the leastâ€”a proof that, although east and west had
apparently changed places, north and south continued to
retain their normal position as cardinal points. The log
and the compass, therefore, were able to be called upon
to do the work of the sextant, which had become utterly
On the first morning of the cruise Lieutenant Pesca
who, like most Russians, spoke French fluently, was ex-
plaining these peculiarities to Captain Servadac ; the count
was present, and the conversation perpetually recurred, as
naturally it would, to the phenomena which remained so
inexplicable to them all. __
â€œTt is very evident,â€ said the lieutenant, â€œthat ever
since the 1st of January the earth has been moving ina
A SEARCH FOR ALG:RIA. 65
new orbit, and from some unknown cause has drawn
nearer to the sun.â€
â€œNo doubt about that,â€ said Servadac ; â€œand I sup-
pose that, having crossed the orbit of Venus, we have a
good chance of running into the orbit of Mercury.â€
â€œAnd finish up by a collision with the sun!â€ added
â€œTerrible destruction!â€ exclaimed Servadac, with a
â€œ There is no fear of that, Captain Servadac. The earth
has undoubtedly entered upon a new orbit, but she is not
incurring any probable risk of being precipitated on to
â€œCan you satisfy us of that ?â€ asked the count.
â€œTcan, sir. I can give you a proof which I think you
will own is conclusive. If, as you suppose, the earth is
being drawn on so as to be precipitated against the sun,
the great centre of attraction of our system, it could only
be because the centrifugal and centripetal forces that cause
the planets to rotate in their several orbits had been en-
tirely suspended: in that case, indeed, the earth would
rush onwards towards the sun, and in sixty-four days
and a half the catastrophe you dread would inevitably
â€œAnd what demonstration do you offer,â€ asked Ser.
vadac eagerly, â€œthat it will not happen?â€
â€œSimply this, captain: that since the earth entered
her new orbit half the sixty-four days has already elapsed,
and yet it is only just recently that she has crossed. the
orbit of Venus, hardly one-third of the distance to be tra-
versed to reach the sun.â€
-The lieutenant paused to allow time for reflection, and
added: â€œMoreover, I have every reason to believe that
we are not so near the sun as we have been. The tem-
perature has been gradually diminishing; the heat upon
Gourbi Island is not greater now than we might ordinarily
expect to find in Algeria in lat. 36Â°. At the same time,
we have the. problem still unsolved that the Mediter-
66 HECTOR SERVADAC.
ranean has evidently been transported to the equatorial
- Both the count and the captain expressed themselves
reassured by his representations, and observed that they
must now do all in their power to discover what had
become of the vast continent of Africa, of which they were
hitherto failing so completely to find a vestige.
Twenty-four hours after leaving the â€˜sland, the Dobr ryna
had passed over the sites where Tenes, Cherchil, Koleah,
and Sidi-Feruch once had been, but of these towns not
one appeared within range of the telescope. Ocean reigned
Lieutenant Procope, however, was absolutely certain
that he had not mistaken his direction; the compass
showed that the wind had never shifted from the west, and
this, with the rate of speed as estimated by the log, com-
bined to assure him that at this date, the 2nd of Febrane
the schooner was in lat. 36Â° 49â€™ N. and long. 3Â° 25â€™ E.,
the very spot which ought to have been occupied by the
Algerian capital. But Algiers, like all the other coast-
towns, had apparently been absorbed into the bowels of
Captain Servadac, with clenched teeth and knitted
brow, stood sternly, almost fiercely, regarding the bound-
less waste of water. His pulses beat fast as he recalled the
friends and comrades with whom he had spent the last
few years in that vanished city. All the images of his
past life floated upon his memory; his thoughts sped
away to his native France, only to return again to wonder
whether the depths of ocean would reveal any traces of
the Algerian metropolis.
-â€œTs it not impossible,â€ he murmured aloud, â€œthat any
city should disappear so completely? Would not the
loftiest eminences of the city at least be visible? Surely
some portion of the Casbah must still rise above the waves?
The imperial fort, too, was built upon an elevation of 750
feet ; it is incredible that it should be so totally submerged.
Unless some vestiges of these are found, I shall begin to
Sternly, almost fiercely, regarding the Boundless Waste of Water.
A SEARCH FOR ALGERIA. 67
suspect that the whole of Africa has been swallowed in
some vast abyss.â€
Another circumstance was most remarkable. Not a
material object of any kind was to be noticed floating on
the surface of the water; not one branch of a tree had
been seen drifting by, nor one spar belonging to one of
the numerous vessels that a month previously had been
moored in the magnificent bay which stretched twelve
miles across from Cape Matafuz to Point Pexade. Per-
haps the depths might disclose what the surface failed to
reveal, and Count Timascheff, anxious that Servadac should
have every facility afforded him for solving his doubts,
called for the sounding-line. Forthwith, the lead was
greased and lowered. To the surprise of all, and especi-
ally of Lieutenant Procope, the line indicated aâ€™ bottom at
a nearly uniform depth of from four to five fathoms; and
although the sounding was persevered with continuously
for more than two hours over a considerable area, the
differences of level were insignificant, not corresponding
in any degree to what would be expected over the site of
a city that had been terraced like the seats of an amphi-
theatre. Astounding as it seemed, what alternative was
left but to suppose that the Algerian capital had been
completely levelled by the flood ?
The sea-bottom was composed of neither rock, mud,
sand, nor shells; the sounding-lead brought up nothing
but a kind of metallic dust, which glittered with a strange
iridescence, and the nature of which it was impossible to
determine, as it was totally unlike what had ever been
known to be raised from the bed of the Mediterranean.
â€œYou must see, lieutenant, I should think, that we are
not so near the coast of Algeria as you imagined.â€
The lieutenant shook his head. After pondering
awhile, he said:
â€œIf we were farther away I should expect to find a
depth of two or three hundred fathoms instead of five
fathoms. Five fathoms! I confess I am puzzled.â€
Hereupon Servadac begged the count to give instruc-
68 HECTOR SERVADAC.
tions for the voyage to be prosecuted towards the south, in
order that they might make a more effective scarch for the
coast which so thoroughly eluded their discovery.
After satisfying himself by a short conference with
Lieutenant Procope that the weather would permit such a
change of course, the count acceded to the request. South
wards, accordingly, the Dodrynaâ€™s stem was turned.
For the next thirty-six hours, until the 4th of Febru.
ary, the sea was examined and explored with the most
unflagging perseverance. Its depth remained invariable,
still four, or at most five, fathoms; and although its bottom
was assiduously dredged, it was only to prove it barren of
marine production of any type.
The yacht made its way to lat. 36Â°, and by reference to
the charts it was tolerably certain that she was cruising
over the site of the Sahel, the ridge that had separated
the rich plain of the Mitidja from the sea, and of which
the highest peak, Mount Boujereah, had reached an altitude
of 1200 feet ; but even this peak, which might have been
expected to emerge like an islet above the surface of the
sea, was nowhere to be traced.
Onwards still steamed the Dodryna, beyond the site of
Douera, the principal village of the Sahel; beyond Bou-
farick, where spreading plane-trees had shaded the spacious
streets; beyond Blidah, of which not even the fort (a
thousand feet and more higher than Oued-el-Kebir) sur-
vived ;â€”beyond all these, still southwards, until Lieutenant
Procope, fearful of venturing farther upon this unknown
ocean, entreated that he might be allowed to shift his course
to the east, or retrace it to the north; and it was only
upon Servadacâ€™s urgent persuasion that he was induced to
extend his exploration as far as the mountains of Mouzaia,
the legendary grottoes formerly frequented by the Kabyles,
the haunt of lions, hyenas, and jackals, and where gigantic
oaks and marvellous bread-fruit trees had flourished in
abundance. Surely, it was urged, those lofty summits,
which within six weeks had. been seen soaring to an
altitude of nearly 5000 feet, would be still conspicuous
A SEARCH FOR ALGERIA. 69
above the waves. But no; sea and sky were all that the
keenest vision could compass, and nothing was to be done
but to put about, and return in disappointment towards
the north. ;
Thus the Dodryna regained the waters of the Mediter-
ranean without discovering a trace of the missing province
7O ; HECTOR SERVADAC.
AN ISLAND TOMB.
No longer, then, could there be any doubt as to the annihi-
lation of a considerable portion of the colony. Not merely
had there been a submersion of the land, but the impres-
sion was moreâ€˜and more confirmed that the very bowels
of the earth must have yawned and closed again upon a
large territory.. Of the rocky substratum of the province
it became more evident than ever that not a trace re-
mained, and a new soil of unknown formation had certainly
taken the place of the old sandy sea-bottom. As it
altogether transcended the powers of those on board to
elucidate the origin of this catastrophe, it was felt to be
incumbent on them at least to ascertain its extent.
After a long and somewhat wavering discussion, it was
at length decided that the schooner should take advantage
of the favourable wind and weather, and proceed at first
towards the east, thus following the outline of what had
formerly represented the coast of Africa, until that coast
had been lost in boundless sea.
Not a vestige of it all remained ; from Cape Matafuz
to Tunis it had all gone, as though it had never been. The
maritime town of Dellis, built like Algiers, amphitheatre-
wise, had totally disappeared; the highest points were
quite invisible; not a trace on the horizon was left of the
Jurjura chain, the topmost point of which was known to
have an altitude of more than 7000 feet ; and the town of
Bougiah, the steep declivities of Gouraya, Mount Adrar,
A Long and somewhat Wavering Discussion,
AN ISLAND TOMB, 71
Didyela; the mountains of Little Kabylia, the Triton of
the ancients, that group of seven headlands, the highest
of which had been 3500 feet above the sea; Collo, the
ancient port of Constantine ; Stora, the modern port of
Philippeville, and Bona with its gulf twenty-four miles
wideâ€”all had entirely vanished. A jsimilar fate had be-
fallen Cape de Garde, Cape Rosa, the mountain ridges
of Edough, the sandy flats of the coast, Mafrag, and La
Calle, once so famous for its coral fisheries ; but now,
although the sounding-line was lowered for well-nigh the
hundredth time, it failed to raise a single specimen of
those beautiful zoophytes with which the Mediterranean is
known to abound.
Count Timascheff resolved to hold on his course
through the latitudes lately occupied by the coast of Tunis,
and to make his way to Cape Blanc, the most northerly
point of Africa, where the channel of the sea between the
continent and the coast of Sicily being comparatively
narrow, might present some characteristics which per-
chance would help to solve their dire perplexity. The
Dobryna, therefore, having followed the direction of the
thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude, on the 7th of
February crossed the eleventh degree of east longitude.
The reason that induced the count and his two col-
leagues to persevere in their investigations towards the
east was that quite recently a long-abandoned project had
been revived, and by French influence the new. Sahara Sea
had been created. This great achievement, which had
refilled the Lake Tritonis, that had borne the vessel of the
Argonauts, had not only secured to France the monopoly
of the traffic between Europe and the Soudan, but had
materially improved the climate of the country. From
the gulf of Cabes, in lat. 34Â° N., a wide channel had been
opened for the purpose of giving the waters of the Medi-
terranean access to the vast depression which compre-
hended the Shotts of Kebir and of Gharsa; the isthmus
existing between an indentation of the Tritonis basin and
the sea having been cut asunder, so that the water had
72 HECTOR SERVADAC.
once again taken possession of the ancient bed, whence,
in default of a continuous supply, it had long ago evaporated
under the influence of the Libyan sun.
What had now to be ascertained was whether the
restoration of this ancient sea had in any way contributed
towards bringing about the new order of things. Was it
not possible that the cutting of this new. channel had
caused â€˜an irruption of water of which the annihilation of
a considerable portion of Africa was the result ? Was it
not more than likely that beyond lat. 34Â° the Dodbryna
might sight the coast of Tripoli, which would surely prove
itself an irresistible obstacle to any wider spread of the
disaster? If, however, on reaching this point they should
find that the sea still stretched away indefinitely to the
south, it was Lieutenant Procopeâ€™s opinion that they would
have no alternative but to proceed northwards, and to seek
from the shores of Europe a solution of the mystery which
seemed to become more and more inexplicable.
Unsparing of her fuel, the Dodryna made her way at
full steam towards Cape Blanc. Neither Cape Negro nor
Cape Serrat was to be seen. The town of Bizerta, once
charming in its oriental beauty, had vanished utterly ; its
marabouts, or temple-tombs, shaded by magnificent palms
that fringed the gulf, which by reason of its narrow mouth
had the semblance of a lake, all had disappeared, giving
place to a vast waste of sea, the transparent waves of
which, as still demonstrated by the sounding-line, had ever
the same uniform and arid bottom.
In the course of the day the schooner rounded the point
where, five weeks previously, Cape Blanc had been so con-
spicuous an object, and she was now stemming the waters
of what once had been the Bay of Tunis. But bay there
was none, and the town from which it had derived its
name, with the Arsenal, the Goletta, and the two peaks of
Bou-Kournein, had. all vanished from the view.. Cape Bon,
too, the most northern promontory of Atrica and the point
of the continent nearest to the island of Sicily, had been
included in the general devastation.
AN ISLAND TOMB, 73
Before the occurrence of the recent prodigy, the bottom
of the Mediterranean just at this point had formed a
sudden ridge across the Straits of Libya. The sides of the
ridge had shelved to so great an extent that, while the
depth of water on the summit had been little more than
eleven fathoms, that on either hand of the elevation was
little short of a hundred fathoms. A formation such as
this plainly indicated that at some remote epoch Cape Bon
had been connected with Cape Furina, the extremity of
Sicily, in the same manner as Ceuta has doubtless been
connected with Gibraltar.
Lieutenant Procope was too well acquainted with the
Mediterranean to be unaware of this peculiarity, and would
not lose the opportunity of ascertaining whether the
submarine ridge still existed, or whether the sea-bottom
between Sicily and Africa had undergone any modifi-
Both Timascheff and Servadac were much interested
in watching the operations. At a sign from the lieu-
tenant, a sailor who was.stationed at the foot of the fore-
shrouds dropped the sounding-lead into the water, and in
reply to Procopeâ€™s inquiries, reportedâ€”* Five fathoms and
a flat bottom.â€ ;
The next aim was to determine the amount of depres-
sion on either side of the ridge, and for this purpose the
Dobryna was shifted for a distance of half a mile both to
the right and left, and the soundings taken at each station.
â€œFive fathoms and a flat bottomâ€ was the unvaried
announcement after each operation. Not only, therefore,
was it evident that the submerged chain between Cape
Bon and Cape Furina no longer existed, but it was equally
clear that the convulsion had caused a general levelling of
the sea-bottom, and that the soil, degenerated, as it has been
said, into a metallic dust of unrecognized composition, bore
no trace of the sponges, sea-anemones, star-fish, sea-nettles,
nydrophytes, and sheils with which the submarine rocks of
the Mediterranean had hitherto been prodigally clothed.
The Dobryna now put about and resumed her explora-
74 HECTOR SERVADAC.
tions in a southerly direction. It remained, however, as
remarkable as ever how completely throughout the voyage
the sea continued to be deserted; all expectations of
hailing a vessel bearing news from Europe were entirely
falsified, so that more and more each member of the
crew began to be conscious of his isolation, and to believe
that the schooner, like a second Noahâ€™s ark, carried the
sole survivors of a calamity that had overwhelmed the earth.
On the 9th of February the Dodryna passed over the
site of the city of Dido, the ancient Byrsaâ€”a Carthage,
however, which was now more completely destroyed than
ever Punic Carthage had been destroyed by Scipio
Africanus or Roman Carthage by Hassan the Saracen.
In the evening, as the sun was sinking below the
eastern horizon, Captain Servadac was lounging moodily
against the taffrail, From the heaven above, where stars
kept peeping fitfully from behind the moving clouds, his
eye wandered mechanically to the waters below, where the
long waves were rising and falling with the evening breeze.
All at once, his attention was arrested by a luminous.
speck straight ahead on the southern horizon. At first,
imagining that he was the victim of some _ spectral
illusion, he observed it with silent attention; but when, after
some minutes, he became convinced that what he saw was
actually a distant light, he appealed to one of the sailors,
by whom his impression was fully corroborated. The
intelligence was immediately imparted to Count Timascheff
and the lieutenant.
â€œIs it land, do you suppose?â€ inquired Servadac, eagerly.
â€œI should be more inclined to think it is a light on
board some ship,â€ replied the count.
â€œWhatever it is, in another hour we shall know all
about it,â€ said Servadac.
â€œNo, captain,â€ interposed Lieutenant Procope; â€œwe
shall know nothing until to-morrow.â€
â€œWhat! not bear down upon it at once?â€ asked the
count in surprise. ;
â€œNo, sir; I should much rather lay to and wait till
They made their way into the Enclosure,
AN ISLAND TOMB. 75
daylight. If we are really near land, I should be afraid to
approach it in the dark.â€
The count expressed his approval of the lieutenantâ€™s
caution, and thereupon all sail was shortened so as to keep
the Dodryna from making any considerable progress ail
through the hours of night. Few as those hours were,
they seemed to those on board as if their end would
never come. Fearful lest the faint glimmer should at any
moment cease to be visible, Hector Servadac did not quit
his post upon the deck ; but the light continued unchanged.
It shone with about the same degree of lustre as a star of
the second magnitude, and from the fact of its remaining
stationary, Procope became more and more convinced that
it was on land and did not belong to a passing vessel.
At sunrise every telescope was pointed with keenest
interest towards the centre of attraction. The light, of
course, had ceased to be visible, but in the direction where
it had been seen, and at a distance of about ten miles,
there was the distinct outline of a solitary island of very
small extent; rather, as the count observed, it had the
appearance of being the projecting summit of a mountain
all but submerged. Whatever it was, it was agreed that its
true character must be ascertained, not only to gratify their
own curiosity, but for the benefit of all future navigators.
The schooner accordingly was steered directly towards
it, and in less than an hour had cast anchor within a few
cablesâ€™ length of the shore.
The little island proved to be nothing more than an
arid rock rising abruptly about forty feet above the water.
It had no outlying reefs, a circumstance that seemed to
suggest the probability that in the recent convulsion it had
sunk gradually, until it had reached its present position of
Without removing his eye from his telescope, Servadac
â€œThere is a habitation on the place; I can see an
erection of some kind quite distinctly. Who can tell
â€˜hether we shall not come across a human being ?â€
76 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Lieutenant Procope looked doubtful. The island had
all the appearance of being deserted, nor did a cannon-
shot fired from the schooner have the effect of bringing
any resident to the shore. Nevertheless, it was undeniable
that there was a stone building situated on the top of the
rock, and that this building had much the character of an
The boat was lowered and manned by the four sailors ;
Servadac, Timascheff and Procope were quickly rowed
ashore, and lost no time in commencing their ascent of
the steep acclivity. Upon reaching the summit, they found
their progress arrested by a kind of wall, or rampart of
singular construction, its materials consisting mainly of
vases, fragments of columns, carved bas-reliefs, statues, and
portions of broken stele, all piled promiscuously together
without any pretence to artistic arrangement. They made
their way into the enclosure, and finding an open door,
they passed through and soon came to a second door, also
open, which admitted them to the interior of the marabout,
consisting of a single chamber, the walls of which were
ornamented in the Arabian style by sculptures of in-
different execution. In the centre was a tomb of the very
simplest kind, and above the tomb was suspended a large
silver lamp with a capacious reservoir of oil, in which
floated a long lighted wick, the flame of which was
evidently the light that had attracted Servadacâ€™s attention
on the previous night.
â€œMust there not have been a custodian of the mara-
bout?â€ they mutually asked; but if such there had ever
been, he must, they concluded, either have fled or have
perished on that eventful night. Not a soul was there in
charge, and the sole living occupants were a flock of wild
cormorants which, startled at the entrance of the intruders,
rose on wing, and took a rapid flight towards the south.
An old French prayer-book was lying on the corner of
the tomb ; the volume was open, and the page exposed to
view was that which contained the office for the celebration
of the 25th of August. A sudden revelation flashed across
Â¢Â¢ The Tomb of St, Louis !â€™â€™
AN ISLAND TOMB, 77
Servadacâ€™s mind. The solemn isolation of the island tomb,
the open breviary, the ritual of the ancient anniversary, all
combined to apprise him of the sanctity of the spot upon
which he stood.
â€œThe tomb of St. Louis!â€ he exclaimed, and his com-
panions involuntarily followed his example, and made a
reverential obeisance to the venerated monument.
It was, in truth, the very spot on which tradition asserts
that the canonized monarch came to die, a spot to which
for six centuries and more his countrymen had paid th:
homage of a pious regard. The lamp that had been
kindled at the memorial shrine of a saint was now in all
probability the only beacon that threw a light across the
waters of the Mediterranean, and even this ere long must
There was nothing more to explore. The three to-
gether quitted the marabout, and descended the rock to the
shore, whence their boat re-conveyed them to the schooner,
which was soon again on her southward voyage; and it
was not long before the tomb of St. Louis, the only spot
that had survived the mysterious shock, was lost to view.
78 HECTOR SERVADAC.
AT THE MERCY OF THE WINDS.
As the affrighted cormorants had winged their flight
towards the south, there sprang up a sanguine hope on
board the schooner that land might be discovered in that
direction. Thither, accordingly, it was determined to
proceed, and in a few hours after quitting the island of the
tomb, the Dodryna was traversing the shallow waters that
now covered the peninsula of Dakhul, which had separated
the Bay of Tunis from the Gulf of Hammamet. [or two
days she continued an undeviating course, and after a futile
search for the coast of the Sahel of Tunis, reached the
latitude of 34Â°, where the meridian had crossed the Gulf
of Cabes , but not a trace could be discerned of the estuary
that six weeks before had been the inlet to the channel
that had flooded the new Sahara Sea. Far as the eye could
reach it was all ocean, stretching away indefinitely.
However, before that day, the 11th of February, had
closed in, there suddenly arose the cry of â€œLand!â€ and in
the extreme horizon, right ahead, where land had never
been before, it was true enough that a shore was distinctly
to be seen. What could it be? It could not bÃ© the coast
of Tripoli; for not only would that low-lying shore be
quite invisible at such a distance, but it was certain, more-
over, that it lay two degrees at least still further south. It
was soon observed that this newly discovered land was of
very irregular elevation, that it extended due east and
AT THE MERCY OF THE WINDS. 79
west across the horizon, thus dividing the gulf into two
separate sections and completely concealing the island of
Jerba, which must lie behind, and that apparently it had
partially filled in the Sahara Sea. Its position was duly
traced on the Dobrynaâ€™s chart.
â€œHow strange,â€ exclaimed Hector Servadac, â€œthat
after sailing all this time over sea where we expected to
find land, we have at last come upon land where we thought
to find sea!â€
â€œ Strange, indeed,â€ replied Lieutenant Procope; â€œand
what appears to me almost as remarkable is that we have
never once caught sight either of one of the Maltese
tartans or one of the Levantine xebecs that traffic so
regularly on the Mediterranean.â€
â€œEastwards or westwards,â€ asked the countâ€” which
shall be our course? All farther progress to the south is
â€œWestwards, by all means,â€ replied Servadac quickly.
â€œT am longing to know whether anything of Algeria is
left beyond the Shelif; besides, as we pass Gourbi Island
we might take Ben Zoof on board, and then make away
for Gibraltar, where we should be sure to learn something,
at least, of European news.â€
With his usual air of stately courtesy, Count Timascheff
begged the captain to consider the yacht at his own
disposal, and desired him to give the lieutenant instruc-
Lieutenant Procope, however, hesitated, and after
revolving matters for a few moments in his mind, pointed
out that as the wind was blowing directly from the west,
and seemed likely to increase, if they went to the west in
the teeth of the weather, the schooner would be reduced
to the use of her engine only, and would have much diffi-
culty in making any headway; on the other hand, by
taking an eastward course, not only would they have the
advantage of the wind, but, under steam and canvas, might
hope in a few days to be off the coast of Egypt, and
from Alexandria or some other port they would have
80 HECTOR SERVADAC,
the same opportunity of getting tidings from Europe as
they would at Gibraltar.
Intensely anxious as he was to revisit the province of
Oran, and eager, too, to: satisfy himself of the welfare of
his faithful Ben Zoof, Servadac could not but own the
reasonableness of the lieutenantâ€™s objections, and yielded to
the proposal that the eastward course should be adopted.
The wind gave signs only too threatening of the breeze
rising to a gale; but, fortunately, the waves did not cul-
minate in breakers, but rather in a long swell which ran in
the same direction as the vessel.
During the last fortnight the high temperature had been
gradually diminishing, until it now reached an average of
20Â° Cent. (or 68Â° Fahr.), and sometimes descended as low
as 15Â°. That this diminution was to be attributed to the
change in the earthâ€™s orbit was a question that admitted of
little doubt. After approaching so near to the sun as to
cross the orbit of Venus, the earth must now have receded
so far from the sun that its normal distance of ninety-one
millions of miles was greatly increased, and the probability
was great that it was approximating to the orbit of Mars,
that planet which in its physical constitution most nearly
resembles our own. Nor was this supposition suggested
merely by the lowering of the temperature ; it was strongly
corroborated by the reduction of the apparent diameter of
the sunâ€™s disc to the precise dimensions which it would
assume to an observer actually stationed on the surface of
Mars. The necessary inference that seemed to follow from
these phenomena was that the earth had been projected
into a new orbit, which had the form of a very elongated
Very slight, however, in comparison was the regard
which these astronomical wonders attracted on board the
Dobryna. All interest there was too much absorbed in
terrestrial matters, and in ascertaining what changes had
taken place in the configuration of the earth itself, to
permit much attention to be paid to its erratic movements
through space. :
AT THE MERCY OF THE WINDS. 8I
The schooner kept bravely on her way, but well out to
sea, at a distance of two miles from land. There was good
need of this precaution, for so precipitous was the shore
that a vessel driven upon it must inevitably have gone to
pieces; it did not offer a single harbour of refuge, but,
smooth and perpendicular as the walls of a fortress, it rose
to a height of two hundred, and occasionally of three
hundred feet. The waves dashed violently against its base.
Upon the general substratum rested a massive conglome-
rate, the crystallizations of which rose like a forest of
gigantic pyramids and obelisks.
But what struck the explorers more than anything was
the appearance of singular newness that pervaded the
whole of the region. It all seemed so recent in its forma-
tion that the atmosphere had had no opportunity of pro-
ducing its wonted effect in softening the hardness of its
lines, in rounding the sharpness of its angles, or in modi-
fying the colour of its surface; its outline was clearly
marked against the sky, and its substance, smooth and
polished as though fresh from a founderâ€™s mould, glittered
with the metallic brilliancy that is characteristic of pyrites.
It seemed impossible to come to any other conclusion but
that the land before them, continent or island, had been
upheaved by subterranean forces above the surface of the
sea, and that it was mainly composed of the same metallic
element as had characterized the dust so frequently uplifted
from the bottom.
The extreme nakedness of the entire tract was likewise
very extraordinary. Elsewhere, in various quarters of the
globe, there may be sterile rocks, but there are none so
adamant as to be altogether unfurrowed by the filaments
engendered in the moist residuum of the condensed vapour;
elsewhere there may be barren steeps, but none so rigid as
not to afford some hold to vegetation, however low and
elementary may be its type; but here all was bare, and
blank, and desolateâ€”not a symptom of vitality was visible.
Such being the condition of the adjacent land, it could
hardly be a matter of surprise that all the sea-birds, the
82 HECTOR SERVADAC.
albatross, the gull, the sea-mew, sought continual refuge on
the schooner ; day and night they perched fearlessly upon
the yards, the report of a gun failing to dislodge them, and
when food of any sort was thrown upon the deck, they
would dart down and fight with eager voracity for the
prize. Their extreme avidity was recognized as a proof
that any land where they could obtain a sustenance must
be far remote.
Onwards thus for several days the Dobryna followed
the contour of the inhospitable coast, of which the features
would occasionally change, sometimes for two or three
miles assuming the form of a simple arris, sharply defined
as though cut by a chisel, when suddenly the prismatic
lamelle soaring in rugged confusion would again recur;
but all along there was the same absence of beach or tract
of sand to mark its base, neither were there any of those
shoals of rock that are ordinarily found in shallow water.
At rare intervals there were some narrow fissures, but not
a creek available for a ship to enter to replenish its supply
of water ; and the wide roadsteads were unprotected and
exposed to well-nigh every point of the compass.
But after sailing two hundred and forty miles, the pro-
gress of the Dobryna was suddenly arrested. Lieutenant
Procope, who had sedulously inserted the outline of the
newly revealed shore upon the maps, announced that it had
ceased to run east and west, and had taken a turn due
north, thus forming a barrierâ€™ to their continuing their
previous direction. It was, of course, impossible to conjec-
ture how far this barrier extended; it coincided pretty
nearly with the fourteenth meridian of east longitude; and
if it reached, as probably it did, beyond Sicily to Italy, it
was certain that the vast basin of the Mediterranean, which
had washed the shores alike of Europe, Asia, and Africa,
must have been reduced to about half its original area.
It was resolved to proceed upon the same plan as
heretofore, following the boundary of the land at a safe
distance. Accordingly, the head of the Dodryna was
pointed north, making straight, as it was presumed, for the
Day and Night they perched fearlessly upon the Yards,
AT TITE MERCY OF THE WINDS. 83
south of Europe. A hundred miles, or somewhat over,
in that direction, and it was to be anticipated she would
come in sight of Malta, if only that ancient island, the
heritage in succession of Phcenicians, Carthaginians,
Sicilians, Romans, Vandals, Greeks, Arabians, and the
knights of Rhodes, should still be undestroyed.
But Malta, too, was gone; and when, upon the 14th,
the sounding-line was dropped upon its site, it was only
with the same result so oftentimes obtained before.
â€œThe devastation is not limited to Africa,â€ observed
â€œ Assuredly not,â€ assented the lieutenant; adding, â€œand
I confess I am almost in despair whether we shall ever
ascertain its limits. To what quarter of Europe, if Europe
still exists, do you propose that I should now direct your
â€œTo Sicily, Italy, France!â€ ejaculated Servadac, eagerly,
â€”*anywhere where we can learn the truth of what has
â€œHow if we are the sole survivors?â€ said the count,
Hector Servadac was silent ; his own secret presenti-
ment so thoroughly coincided with the doubts expressed
by the count, that he refrained from saying another word.
The coast, without deviation, still tended towards the
north, shutting off all communication with the Gulf of
Sydra, anciently the Great Syrtes, which had formerly
extended as far as Egypt; and so uninterrupted was its
continuity that there remained no longer any access by sea
to the shores of Greece or the ports of Turkey, and conse-
quently all approach to the southern confines of Russia by
way of the Archipelago, the Dardanelles, the Sea of Mar-
mora, the Bosphorus, and the Black Sea, was rendered
No alternative, therefore, remained than to take a
westerly course and to attempt to reach the northern
shores of the Mediterranean. On the 16th the Dodryna
essayed to start upon her altered way, but it seemed as if
84 HECTOR SERVADAC.
the elements had conspired to obstruct her progress. A
furious tempest arose ; the wind beat dead in the direction
of the coast, and the danger incurred by a vessel of a
tonnage so light was necessarily very great.
Lieutenant Procope was extremely uneasy. He took
in all sail, struck his topmasts, and resolved to rely entirely
on his engine. But the peril seemed only to increase.
Enormous waves caught the schooner and carried her up
to their crests, whence again she was plunged deep into the
abysses that they left. The screw failed to keep its hold
upon the water, but continually revolved with useless speed
in the vacant air; and thus, although the steam was forced
on to the extremest limit consistent with safety, the vessel
held her way with the utmost difficulty, and recoiled before
Still, not a single resort for refuge did the inaccessible
shore present. Again and again the lieutenant asked him-
self what would become of him and his comrades, even it
they should survive the peril of shipwreck, and gain a foot-
ing upon the cliff. What resources could they expect to
find upon that scene of desolation? What hope could
they entertain that any portion of the old continent still
existed beyond that dreary barrier ?
It was a trying time, but throughout it all the crew
behaved with the greatest courage and composure; confi-
dent in the: skill of their commander, and in the stability
of their ship, they performed their duties with steadiness
and unquestioning obedience.
But neither skill, nor courage, nor obedience could
avail; all was in vain. Despite the strain put upon her
engine, the schooner, bare of canvas (for not even the
smallest stay-sail could have withstood the violence of
the storm), was drifting with terrific speed towards the
menacing precipices, which were only a few short miles to
leeward. Fully alive to the hopelessness of their situation,
the crew were all on deck.
â€œAll over with us, sir!â€ said Procope to the count.
â€œT have done everything that man could do; but out case
AT THE MERCY OF THE WINDS. 85
is desperate. Nothing short of a miracle can save us now.
Within an hour we.must go to pieces upon yonder rocks.â€
â€œ Let us, then, commend ourselves to the providence of
Him to Whom nothing is impossible,â€ replied the count, in
a calm, clear voice that could be distinctly heard by all ;
and as he spoke, he reverently uncovered, an example in
which he was followed by all the rest.
The destruction of the vessel seeming thus inevitable,
Lieutenant Procope took the best measures he could to
insure a few daysâ€™ supply of food for any who might
escape from the wreck and get ashore. He ordered several
cases of provisions and kegs of water to be brought on
deck, and saw that they were securely lashed to some
empty barrels, to make them float after the ship had gone
Less and less grew the distance from the shore, but no
creek, no inlet, could be discerned in the towering wall of
cliff, which seemed about to topple over and involve them
in annihilation. Except a change of wind or, as Procope
observed, a supernatural rifting of the rock, nothing could
bring deliverance now.
But the wind did not veer, and in a few minutes more
the schooner was hardly three cablesâ€™ distance from the
fatal land. All were aware that their last moment had
arrived. Servadac and the count grasped each othersâ€™
hands for a long farewell; and, tossed by the tremendous
waves, the schooner was on the very point of being hurled
upon the cliff, when a ringing shout was heardâ€”
â€œQuick, boys, quick! Hoist the jib, and right the
Sudden and startling as the unexpected orders were,
they were executed as if by magic.
The lieutenant, who had shouted from the bow, rushed
astern and took the helm, and before any one had time tu
speculate upon the object of his manceuvres, he shouted
â€œLook out! sharp! watch the sheets!â€
An involuntary cry broke forth from all on board. But
86 HECTOR SERVADAC.
it was no cry of terror. Right ahead was a narrow open-
ing in the solid rock; it was hardly forty feet wide.
Whether it was a passage or no, it mattered little; it was
at least a refuge; and, driven by wind and wave, the
Dobryna, under the dexterous guidance of the lieutenant,
dashed in between its perpendicular walls.
Had she not immured herself in a perpetual prison ?
The Dobryna dashed in between its Perpendicular Walls.
( 87 )
A ROYAL SALUTE.
â€œ THEN I take your bishop, major,â€ said Colonel Murphy,
as he made a move that he had taken since the previous
evening to consider.
â€œT was afraid you would,â€ replied Major Oliphant,
looking intently at the chess-board.
Such was the way in which a long silence was broken
on the morning of the 17th February by the old calendar.
Another day elapsed before another move was made.
It was a protracted game; it had, in fact, already lasted
some. monthsâ€”the players being so deliberate, and so
fearful of taking a step. without the most mature considera-
tion, that even now they were only making the twentieth
move. - Both of them, moreover, were rigid disciples of
the renowned Philidor, who pronounces that to play the
pawns well is â€œthe soul of chess;â€ and, accordingly, not
one pawn had been sacrificed without a most vigorous
The men who were thus beguiling their leisure were
two officers in the British armyâ€”Colonel Heneage Finch
Murphy and Major Sir John Temple Oliphant. Remark-
ably similar in personal appearance, they were hardly less
so in personal character. Both of them were about forty
years of age; both of them were tall and fair, with bushy
whiskers and moustaches ; both of them were phlegmatic
in temperament, and both much addicted to the wearing
88 HECTOR SERVADAC.
of their uniforms. They were proud of their nationality,
and exhibited a manifest dislike, verging upon contempt,
of everything foreign. Probably they would have felt no
surprise if they had been told that Anglo-Saxons were
fashioned out of some specific clay, the properties of which
surpassed the investigation of chemical analysis. Without
any intentional disparagement they might, in a certain
way, be compared to two scarecrows which, though per-
fectly harmless in themselves, inspire some measure of
respect, and are excellently adapted to protect the territory
intrusted to their guardianship.
English-like, the two officers had made themselves
thoroughly at home in the station abroad in which it had
been their lot to be quartered. The faculty of colonization
seems to be indigenous to the native character ; once let
an Englishman plant his national standard on the surface
of the moon, and it would not be long before a colony was
established round it.
The officers had a servant, named Kirke, and a com-
pany of ten soldiers of the line. This party of thirteen
men were apparently the sole survivors of an overwhelming
catastrophe, which on the Ist of January had transformed
an enormous rock, garrisoned with well-nigh two thousand
troops, into an insignificant island far out to sea. But
although the transformation had been so marvellous, it
cannot be said that either Colonel Murphy or Major Oli-
phant had made much demonstration of astonishment.
â€œThis is all very peculiar, Sir John,â€ observed the
â€œYes, colonel ; very peculiar,â€ replied the major.
â€œEngland will be sure to send for us,â€ said one officer.
â€œNo doubt she will,â€ answered the other.
Accordingly, they came to the mutual resolution that
they would â€œ stick to their post.â€
To say the truth, it would have been a difficult matter
for the gallant officers to do otherwise; they had but
one small boat; therefore, it was well that they made a
virtue of necessity, and resigned themselves to patient
*â‚¬ Well, men, what is it?â€
A ROYAL SALUTE. 89
expectation of the British ship which, in due time, would
They had no fear of starvation. Their island was
mined with subterranean stores, and these were furnished
with supplies more than ample for thirteen menâ€”nay, for
thirteen Englishmenâ€”for the next five years at least. Pre-
served meat, ale, brandyâ€”all were in abundance ; conse-
quently, as the men expressed it, they were in this respect
Of coursÃ©, the physical changes that had taken place
had attracted the notice both of officers and men. But the
reversed position of east and west, the diminution of the
force of gravity, the altered rotation of the earth, and her
projection upon a new orbit, were all things that gave
them little concern and no uneasiness; and when the
colonel and the major had replaced the pieces on the
board which had been disturbed by the convulsion, any
surprise they might have felt at the chess-men losing
some portion of their weight was quite forgotten in the
satisfaction of seeing them retain their equilibrium.
One phenomenon, however, did not fail to make its
due impression upon the men; this was the diminution in
the length of day and night. Three days after the cata-
strophe, Corporal Pim, on behalf of himself and his com-
rades, solicited a formal interview with the officers. The
request having been granted, Pim, with the nine soldiers,
all punctiliously wearing the regimental tunic of scarlet
and trousers of invisible green, presented themselves at
the door of the colonelâ€™s room, where he and his brother-
officer were continuing their game. Raising his hand
respectfully to his cap, which he wore poised jauntily over
his right ear, and scarcely held on by the strap below
his under lip, the corporal waited permission to speak.
After a lingering survey of the chess-board, the colonel
slowly lifted his eyes, and said with official dignityâ€”
â€œWell, men, what is it?â€
â€œFirst of all, sir,â€ replied the corporal, â€œwe want to
speak to you about our pay, and then we wish to have a
word with the major about our rations.â€
90 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œSay on, then,â€ said Colonel Murphy. â€œ What is it
about your pay?â€ ;
â€œJust this, sir; as the days are only half as long as they
were, we should like to know whether our pay is to be
diminished in proportion.â€
The colonel was taken somewhat aback, and did not
reply immediately, though by some significant nods towards
the major, he indicated that he thought the question very
reasonable. After a few momentsâ€™ reflection, he repliedâ€”
â€œIt must, I think, be allowed that your pay was ca'cu-
lated from sunrise to sunrise ; there was no specification of
what the interval should be. Your pay will continue as
before. England can afford it.â€
A buzz of approval burst involuntarily from all the
men, but military discipline and the respect due to their
officers kept them in check from any boisterous demon-
stration of their satisfaction.
â€œ And now, corporal, what is your business with me?â€
asked Major Oliphant.
â€œWe want to know whether, because the days are only
six hours long, we are to have but two meals instead of
The officers looked at each other, and by their glances
mutually agreed that the corporal was a man of good sound
common sense. :
â€œEccentricities of nature,â€ said the major, â€œcannot
interfere with military regulations. It is true that there
will be but an interval of an hour and an half between
them, but the rule stands goodâ€”four meals a day. Eng-
land is too rich to grudge her soldiers any of her soldiersâ€™
due. Yes; four meals a day.â€
â€œHurrah!â€ shouted the soldiers, unable this time to
keep their delight within the bounds of military decorum ;
and, turning to the right-about, they marched away, leaving
the officers to renew their attention to the all-absorbing
However confident every one upon the island might
profess to be that succour would be sent them from their
A ROYAL SALUTE, OI
native landâ€”for Britain never abandons any of her sonsâ€”
it could not be disguised that that succour was somewhat
tardy in making its appearance. Many and various were
the conjectures to account for the delay. Perhaps England
was engrossed with domestic matters, or perhaps she was
absorbed in diplomatic difficulties ;* or perchance, more
likely than all, Northern Europe had received no tidings of
the convulsion that had shattered the south. Some good
reason there doubtless was; but it was undeniable that
forty-nine complete days had been registered since the
memorable Ist of January, and yet no ship, British or
otherwise, had ever been sighted, and although the sea
that washed the shores of their island was notoriously one
of the most frequented on the face of the globe, it had
been uniformly desolate, and untraversed by a single sail.
Neither officers nor men, however, permitted themselves to
express much surprise or discouragement, but continued
their habitual routine ; guard relieved guard, and daily drill
was practised with the usual precision. The whole party
throve remarkably well upon the liberal provision of the
commissariat department, and if the officers failed to show
the same tendency to ewzbonpoint which was fast becoming
characteristic of the men, it was only because they deemed
it due to their rank to curtail any indulgences which might
compromise the fit of their uniform,
On the whole, time passed indifferently well. An
Englishman rarely suffers from -enmuz, and then only in
his own country, when required to conform to what he
calls â€œthe humbug of society ;â€ and the two officers, with
their similar tastes, ideas, and dispositions, got on together
admirably. It is not to be questioned that they were deeply
affected by a sense of regret for their lost comrades, and
astounded beyond measure at finding themselves the sole
survivors of a garrison of 1895 men, but with true British
* Amongst other suggestions, it was surmised that England, astonished at
the success of the Sahara Sea lately formed by Captain Roudaire, and un-
willing to be outdone by France, was occupied in a great scheme for the
formation of a similar sea in the centre of Australia.
92 HECTOR SERVADAC.
pluck and self-control, they had done nothing more than
draw up a report that 1882 names were missing from the
The island itself, the sole surviving fragment of an
enormous pile of rock that had reared itself some 1600 feet
above the sea, was not, strictly speaking, the only land that
was visible ; for about twelve miles to the south there was
another island, apparently the very counterpart of what
was now occupied by the Englishmen. It was only aatural
that this should awaken some interest even in the most
imperturbable minds, and there was no doubt that the two
officers, during one of the rare intervals when they were
not absorbed in their game, had decided that it would be
desirable at least to ascertain whether the island was de-
serted, or whether it might not be occupied by some others,
like themselves, survivors from the general catastrophe.
Certain it is that one morning, when the weather was
bright and calm, they had embarked alone in the little
boat, and been absent for seven or eight hours. Not even
to Corporal Pim did they communicate the object of their
excursion, nor say one syllable as to its result, and it could
only be inferred from their manner that they were quite
satisfied with what they had seen; and very shortly after-
wards Major Oliphant was observed to draw up a lengthy
document, which was no sooner finished than it was formally
signed and sealed with the seal of the 33rd Regiment. It
To the First Lord of the Admiralty,
and kept in readiness for transmission by the first ship
that should hail in sight. But time elapsed, and here
was the 18th of February without an opportunity having
been afforded for any communication with the British
At breakfast that morning, the colonel observed to the
major that he was under the most decided impression that
the 18th of February was a royal anniversary ; and he went
A ROYAL SALUTE. 93
on to say that, although he had received no definite in-
structions on the subject, he did not think that the peculiar
circumstances under which they found themselves should
prevent them from giving the day its due military honours.
The major quite concurred ; and it was mutually agreed
that the occasion must be honoured by a bumper of port,
and by a royal salute. Corporal Pim must be sent for.
The corporal soon made his appearance, smacking his lips,
having, by a ready intuition, found a pretext for a double
morning ration of spirits.
â€œThe 18th of February, you know, Pim,â€ said the
colonel; â€œand we must have a salute of twenty-one
â€œVery good,â€ replied Pim, who was a man of few
â€œAnd take care that your fellows donâ€™t get their arms
and legs blown off,â€ added the officer.
â€œVery good, sir,â€ said the corporal ; and he made his
salute and withdrew.
Of all the. bombs, howitzers, and various species of
artillery with which the fortress had been crowded, one
solitary piece remained. This was a cumbrous muzzle-
loader of g-inch calibre, and, in default of the smaller
ordnance generally employed for the purpose, had to be
brought into requisition for the royal salute.
A sufficient number of charges having been provided,
the corporal brought his men to the reduct, whence the
gunâ€™s mouth projected over a sloping embrasure. The two
officers, in cocked hats and full staff uniform, attended to
take charge of the proceedings. The gun was manceuvred
in strict accordance with the rules of â€œThe Artillerymanâ€™s
Manual,â€ and the firing commenced.
_ Not unmindful of the warning he had received, the
corporal was most careful between each discharge to see
that every vestige of fire was extinguished, so as to prevent
an untimely explosion while the men were reloading ; and
â€˜ecidents, such as so frequently mar public rejoicings,
were all happily avoided.
94 HECTOR SERVADAC,
Much to the chagrin of both Colonel Murphy and
Major Oliphant, the effect of the salute fell altogether
short of their anticipations. The weight of the atmosphere
was so reduced that there was comparatively little resist-
ance to the explosive force of the gases, liberated at the
cannonâ€™s mouth, and there was consequently none of the
reverberation, like rolling thunder, that orien follows
the discharge of heavy artillery.
Twenty | times had the gun been fired, and it was on the
point of being loaded for the last time, when the colonel
laid his hand upon the arm of the man who had the
â€œStop!â€ he said ; â€œwe will have a ball this time. Let
us put the range of the piece to the test.â€
â€œA good idea!â€ replied the major. â€œCorporal, you
hear the orders.â€
In quick time an artillery-waggon was on the spot, and
the men lifted out a full-sized shot, weighing 200 lbs.,
which, under ordinary circumstances, the cannon would
carry about four miles. It was proposed, by means of
telescopes, to note the place where the ball first touched
the water, and thus to obtain an approximation sufficiently
accurate as to the true range.
Having been duly charged with powder and ball, the
gun was raised to an angle of something under 45Â°,so as
to allow proper development to the.curve that the pro-
jectile would make, and, at a signa! from the major, the
light was applied to the priming.
â€œHeavens!â€ â€œBy all thatâ€™s good!â€ exclaimed both
officers in one breath, as, standing open-mouthed, they
hardly knew whether they were to believe the evidence of
their own senses. â€œIs it possible ?â€
The diminution of the force of attraction at the earthâ€™s
surface was so considerable that the ball had sped beyond
â€œ Incredible!â€ ejaculated the colonel.
â€œIncredible!â€ echoed the major.
â€œSix miles at least!â€ observed the one.
A Full-sized Shot,
A ROYAL SALUTE. 95
â€œAy, more than that!â€ replied the other.
Awhile, they gazed at the sea and at each other in
mute amazement. But in the midst of their perplexity,
what sound was that which startled them? Was it mere
fancy? Was it the reverberation of the cannon still boom-
ing in their ears? Or was it not truly the report of another
and a distant gun in answer to theirown? Attentively and
eagerly they listened. Twice, thrice did the sound repeat
itself. It was quite distinct. There could be no mistake.
â€œTI told you so,â€ cried the colonel, triumphantly. â€œI
knew our country would not forsake us; it is an English
ship, no doubt.â€
In half an hour two masts were visible above the
â€œSee! Was I not right? Our country was sure to
send to our relief. â€œ Here is the ship.â€
â€œYes,â€ replied the major; â€œsure enough, she has re-
sponded to our gun.â€
â€œIt is to: be hoped,â€ muttered the corporal, â€œthat our
ball has done her no damage.â€
Before long the hull was full in sight. A long trail of
smoke betokened her to be a steamer; and very soon, by
the aid of the glass, it could be ascertained that she was
a schooner-yacht, and making straight for the island. â€œA
flag at her mast-head fluttered in the breeze, and towards
this the two officers, with the keenest attention, respectively
adjusted their focus.
Simultaneously the two telescopes were lowered. The
colonel and the major stared at each other in blank astonish-
â€œRussian!â€ they gasped.
And true it was that the flag that floated at the head
of yonder mast was the white ground and blue cross of
96 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€™ SENSITIVE NATIONALITY.
WUEN the schooner had approached the island, the Eng-
lishmen were able to make out the name â€œDodrynaâ€ painted
on the aft-board. A sinuous irregularity of the coast had
formed a kind of cove, which, though hardly spacious
enough for a few fishing-smacks, would afford the yacht
a temporary anchorage, so long as the wind did not blow
violently from either the west or south. Into this cove the
Dobryna was duly signalled, and as soon as she was safely
moored, she lowered her four-oar, and Count Timascheff
and Captain Servadac made their way at once to land.
Colonel Heneage Finch Murphy and Major Sir John
Temple Oliphant stood, grave and prim, formally awaiting
the arrival of their visitors. Captain Servadac, with the
uncontrolled vivacity natural to a Frenchman, was the first
â€œA joyful sight, gentlemen!â€ he exclaimed. â€œIt will
give us unbounded pleasure to shake hands again with
some of our fellow-creatures. You, no doubt, have escaped
the same disaster as ourselves.â€
But the English officers, neither by word nor gesture,
made the slightest acknowledgment of this familiar
â€œWhat news can you give us of France, England, or
Russia?â€ continued Servadac, perfectly unconscious of the
stolid rigidity with which his advances were received.
â€˜* Allow me to introduce you to Count Wassili Timascheff.â€™?
SENSITIVE NATIONALITY. 97
â€œWe are anxious to hear anything you can tell us. Have
you had communications with Europe? Have youâ€”â€”â€
â€œTo whom have we the honour of speaking?â€ at last
interposed Colonel Murphy, in the coldest and most mea-
sured tone, and drawing himself up to his full height.
â€œAh! how stupid! I forgot,â€ said Servadac, with the
slightest possible shrug of the shoulders; â€œwe have not
Then, with a wave of his hand towards his companion,
who meanwhile had exhibited a reserve hardly less than
that of the British officers, he saidâ€”
â€œAllow me to introduce you to Count Wassili Tima-
â€œMajor Sir John Temple Oliphant,â€ replied the colonel.
The Russian and the Englishman mutually exchanged
the stiffest of bows.
â€œT have the pleasure of introducing Captain Servadac,â€
said the count in his turn. :
â€œAnd this is Colonel Heneage Finch Murphy,â€ was the
majorâ€™s grave rejoinder.
More bows were interchanged and the ceremony brought
to its due conclusion. It need hardly be said that the
conversation had been carried on in French, a language
which is generally known both by Russians and English-
menâ€”a circumstance that is probably in some measure to
be accounted for by the refusal of Frenchmen to learn
either Russian or English.
The formal preliminaries of etiquette being thus com-
plete, there was no longer any obstacle to a freer inter-
course. The colonel, signing to his guests to follow, led
the way to the apartment occupied jointly by himself and
the major, which, although only a kind of casemate
hollowed in the rock, nevertheless wore a general air of
comfort. Major Oliphant accompanied them, aid all four
having taken their seats, the conversation was commenced.
Irritated and disgusted at all the cold formalities,
Hector Servadac resolved to leave all the talking to the
count ; and he, quite aware that the Englishmen would
98 HECTOR SERVADAC.
adhere to the fiction that they could be supposed to know
nothing that had transpired previous to the introduction
felt himself obliged to recapitulate matters from the very
â€œYou must be aware, gentlemen,â€ began the count
â€œthat a most singular catastrophe occurred on the Ist of
January last. Its cause, its limits we have utterly failed to
discover, but from the appearance of the island on which
we find you here, you have evidently experienced its
The Englishmen, in silence, bowed assent.
â€œCaptain Servadac, who accompanies me,â€ continued
the count, â€œhas been most severely tried by the disaster.
Engaged as he was in an important mission as a staff-officer
â€œA French colony, I believe,â€ interposed Major Oli-
phant, half shutting his eyes with an expression of supreme
Servadac was on the point of making some cutting
retort, but Count Timascheff, without allowing the inter-
ruption to be noticed, calmly continued his narrativeâ€”
â€œTt was near the mouth of the Shelif that a portion of
Africa, on that eventful night, was transformed into an island
which alone survived; the rest of the vast continent dis-
appeared as completely as if it had never been.â€
The announcement seemed by -no means startling to
the phlegmatic colonel.
â€œIndeed !â€ was all he said.
- â€œ And where were you?â€ asked Major Oliphant.
â€œT was out at sea, cruising in my yacht, hard by; and
I look upon it as a miracle, and nothing less, that I and
my crew escaped with our lives.â€
â€œTI congratulate you on your luck,â€ replied the major.
The count resumedâ€”
â€œIt was about a month after the great disruption that
I was sailingâ€”my engine having sustained some damage in
the shockâ€”along the Algerian coast, and had the pleasure
of meeting with my previous acquaintance, Captain Ser-
SENSITIVE NATIONALITY. 99
vadac, who was resident upon the island with his orderly,
â€œBen who?â€ inquired the major.
â€œZoof! Ben Zoof!â€ ejaculated Servadac, who could
scarcely shout loud enough to relieve his pent-up feelings.
Ignoring this ebullition of the captainâ€™s spleen, the
count went on to sayâ€”
â€œCaptain Servadac was naturally most anxious to get
what news he could. Accordingly, he left his servant on
the island in charge of his horses, and came on board the
Dobryna with me. We were quite at a loss to know where
we should steer, but decided to direct our course to what
previously had been the east, in order that we might, if
possible, discover the colony of Algeria; but of Algeria not
a trace remained.â€
The colonel curled his lip, insinuating only too plainly
that to him it was by no means surprising that a French
colony should be wanting in the element of stability.
Servadac observed the supercilious look, and half rose to
his feet, but, smothering his resentment, took his seat again
â€œThe devastation, gentlemen,â€ said the count, who
persistently refused to recognize the Frenchmanâ€™s irritation,
â€œeverywhere was terrible and complete. Not only was
Algeria lost, but there was no trace of Tunis, except one
solitary rock, which was crowned by an ancient tomb of
one of the kings of Franceâ€”â€” â€
â€œLouis the Ninth, I presume,â€ observed the colonel.
â€œSaint Louis,â€ blurted out Servadac, savagely.
Colonel Murphy slightly smiled.
Proof against all interruption, Count Timascheff, as if
he had not heard it, went on without pausing. He related
how the schooner had pushed her way onwards to the south,
and had reached the Gulf of Cabes; and how she had
ascertained for certain that the Sahara Sea had no longer
The smile of disdain again crossed the colonelâ€™s face;
he could not conceal his opinion that such a destiny for the
work of a Frenchman could be no matter of surprise.
1co HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œOur next discovery,â€ continued the count, â€œwas that
a new coast had been upheaved right along in front of the
coast of Tripoli, the geological formation of which was
altogether strange, and which. extended to the north as far
as the proper place of Malta.â€
â€œAnd Malta,â€ cried Servadac, unable to control. hinself
any longer; â€œMaltaâ€”town, forts, soldiers, governor, and all
â€”has vanished just like Algeria.â€
For a moment a cloud rested upon the colonelâ€™s brow,
only to give place to an expression of decided incredulity.
â€œThe statement seems highly incredible,â€ he said.
â€œIncredible?â€ repeated Servadac. â€œWhy is it that you
doubt my word ?â€
The captainâ€™s rising wrath did not prevent the colonel
from replying coollyâ€”
â€œBecause Malta belongs to England.â€
â€œT canâ€™t help that,â€™ answered Servadac, sharply; â€œit
has gone just as utterly as if it had belonged to China.â€
Colonel Murphy turned deliberately away from Ser-
vadac, and appealed to the countâ€”
â€œDo you not think you may have made some error,
count, in reckoning the bearings of your yacht ?â€
â€œNo, colonel, I am quite certain of my reckonings; and
not only can I testify that Malta has disappeared, but I
can affirm that a large section of the Mediterranean has
been closed in by a new continent. After the mos:
anxious investigation, we could discover only one narrow
opening in all the coast, and it is by following that little
channel that we have made our way hither. England,
I fear, has suffered: grievously by the late catastrophe.
Not only has Malta been entirely lost, but of the Ionian
Islands that were under Englandâ€™s protection, there seems
to be but little left.â€
â€œAy, you may depend upon it,â€ said Servadac, break-
ing in upon the conversation petulantly, â€œyour grand
resident lord high commissioner has not much to con-
gratulate himself about in the condition of Corfu.â€
The Englishmen were mystified.
â€˜* The Statement seems highly incredible.â€
SENSITIVE NATIONALITY. 101
â€œCorfu, did you say ?â€ asked Major Oliphant.
â€œYes, Corfu ;\I said Corfu,â€ replied Servadac, with a
sort of malicious triumph.
The officers were speechless with astonishment.
The silence of bewilderment was broken at length by
Count Timascheff making inquiry whether nothing had
been heard from England, either by telegraph or by any
â€œNo,â€ said the colonel; â€œnot a ship has passed; and
the cable is broken.â€
â€œBut do not the Italian telegraphs assist you?â€ con-
tinued the count.
â€œTtalian! Ido not comprehend you. You must mean
the Spanish, surely.â€
â€œHow?â€ demanded Timascheff.
â€œConfound it!â€ cried the impatient Servadac. â€œ What
matters whether it be Spanish or Italian? Tell us, have
you had no communication at all from Europe ?â€”no news
of any sort from London ?â€ >
â€œ Hitherto, none whatever,â€ replied the colonel ; adding
with a stately emphasis, â€œbut we shall be sure to have
tidings from England before long.â€
â€œWhether England is still in existence or not, I sup-
pose,â€ said Servadac, in a tone of irony.
The English officers started simultaneously to their
â€œEngland in existence?â€ the colonel cried. â€œEngland!
Ten times more probable that Franceâ€”â€” â€
â€œFrance!â€ shouted Servadac in a passion. â€œ France is
not an island that can be submerged; France is an integral
portion of a solid continent. France, at least, is safe.â€
A+ scene appeared inevitable, and Count Timascheffâ€™s
efforts to conciliate the excited parties were of small avail.
â€œYou are at home here,â€ said Servadac, with as much
calmness as he could command; â€œit will -be advisable, I
think, for this discussion to be carried on in the open air.â€
And hurriedly he left the room.
Followed immediately by the others, he led the way to
102 HECTOR SERVADAC,
a level piece of ground, which he considered he might
fairly claim as neutral territory.
* Now, gentlemen,â€ he began haughtily, â€œ permit me to
represent that, in spite of any loss France may have sus-
tained in the fate of Algeria, France is ready to answer
any provocation that affects her honour. Here I am the
representative of my country, and here, on neutral
â€œ Neutral ground ?â€ objected Colonel Murphy ; â€œI beg
your pardon. This, Captain Servadac, is English territory.
Do you not see the English flag?â€ and, as he spoke, he
pointed with national pride to the British standard floating
over the top of the island.
â€œPshaw!â€ cried Servadac, with a contemptuous sneer ;
â€œthat flag, you know, has been hoisted but a few short
â€œThat flag has floated where it is for ages,â€ asserted
the colonel. :
â€œAn imposture!â€ shouted Servadac, as he stamped
Recovering his composure in a degree, he continuedâ€”
â€œCan you suppose that I am not aware that this island
on which we find you is what remains of the Ionian repre-
sentative republic, over which you English exercise the
right of protection, but have no claim of government ?â€
' The colonel and the major looked at each other in
Although Count Timascheff secretly sympathized with
Servadac, he had carefully refrained from taking part in
the dispute; but he was on the point of interfering, when
che colonel, in a greatly subdued tone, begged to be
allowed to speak.
â€œI begin to apprehend,â€ he said, â€œthat you must be
labouring under some strange mistake. There is no room
for questioning that the territory here is Englandâ€™sâ€”EnÂ¢g-
landâ€™s by right of conquest; ceded to England by the
Treaty of Utrecht. Three times, indeedâ€”in 1727, 1779, and
1792â€”France and Spain have disputed our title. but always
N \) a= )
Se ee Sy
: a ee
â€˜That Flag has floated where it is for Ages.â€
SENSITIVE NATIONALITY. 103
to no purpose. You are, I assure you, at the present
moment, as much on English soil as if you were in
London, in the middle of Trafalgar Square.â€
It was â€˜now the turn of the captain and the count to
â€œ Are we not, then, in Corfu?â€ they asked.
â€œYou are at Gibraltar,â€ replied the colonel.
Gibraltar! The word fell like a thunderclap upon their
ears. Gibraltar! the western extremity of the Mediter-
ranean! Why, had they not been sailing persistently
to the east? Could they be wrong in imagining that
they.had reached the Ionian Islands ? What new mystery
was this ?
Count Timascheff was about to proceed with a more
rigorous investigation, when the attention of all was
arrested by a loud outcry. Turning round, they saw that
the crew of the Dodryna was in hot dispute with the
English soldiers. A general altercation had arisen from a
disagreement between the sailor Panofka and Corporal
Pim. It had transpired that the cannon-ball fired in ex-
periment from the island had not only damaged one of the
spars of the schooner, but had broken Panofkaâ€™s pipe,
and, moreover, had just grazed his nose, which, for a
Russianâ€™s, was unusually long. The discussion over this
mishap led to mutual recriminations, till the sailors had
almost come to blows with the garrison.
Servadac was just in the mood to take Panofkaâ€™s part,
which drew from Major Oliphant the remark that England
could not be held responsible for any accidental injury
done by her cannon, and if the Russianâ€™s long nose came
in the way of the ball, the Russian must submit to the
This was too much for Count Timascheff, and having
poured out a torrent of angry invective against the English
officers, he ordered his crew to embark immediately.
â€œWe shall meet again,â€ said Servadac, as they pushed
off from shore.
â€œWhenever you please,â€ was the cool reply.
104 HECTOR SERVADAC.
The geographical mystery haunted the minds of both the
count and the captain, and they felt they could never rest
till they. had ascertained what had become of their re-
spective countries: They were glad to be on board again,
that they might resume their voyage of investigation, and
in two hours were out of sight of the sole remaining frag-
ment of Gibraltar. :
AN ENIGMA FROM THE SEA,
LIEUTENANT PROCOPE had been left on board in charge
of the Dodrynza, and on resuming the voyage it was a task
of some difficulty to make him understand the fact that
hid just come to light. Some hours were spent in discus-
sion and in attempting to penetrate the mysteries of the
There were certain things of which they were perfectly
certain. They could be under no misapprehension as to the
distance they had positively sailed from Gourbi Island
towards the east before their further progress was arrested
by the unknown shore; as nearly as possible that was
fifteen degrees: the length of the narrow strait by which
they had made their way across that land to regain the
open sea was about three miles and a half; thence onward
to the island, which they had been assured, on evidence that
they could not disbelieve, to be upon the site of Gibraltar,
was four degrees; while from Gibraltar to Gourbi Island
was seven degrees or but little more. What. was it alto-
gether? Was it not less than thirty degrees? In that
latitude, the degree of longitude represents eight and
forty miles. What, then, did it all amount to? Indubitably,
to less than 1400 miles. So brief a voyage would bring
the Dobryna once again to her starting-point, or, in other
words, would enable her to complete the circumnavigation
of the globe. How changed the condition of things!
106 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Previously, to sail from Malta to Gibraltar by an eastward
course would have involved the passige of the Suez Canal,
the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, the Atlantic ;
but what had happened now? Why, Gibraltar had been
reached as if it had been just at Corfu, and some three
hundred and thirty degrees of the earthâ€™s circuit had
After allowing for a certain margin of miscalculation,
the main fact remained undeniable; and the necessary
inference that Lieutenant Procope drew from the round of
the earth being completed in 1400 miles, was that the
earthâ€™s diameter had been reduced by aboue fifteen six-
teenths of its length.
â€œTf that be so,â€ observed the count, â€œit accounts for
some of the strange phenomena we witness... If our world
has become so insignificant a spheroid, not only has its
gravity diminished, but its rotatory speed has been accele-
rated; and this affords an adequate explanation of our
days and nights being thus curtailed. But how about the
new orbit in which we are moving?â€
He paused and pondered, and then looked at Procope
as though awaiting from him some further elucidation of
The lieutenant hesitated. When, in a few moments, he
began to speak, Servadac smiled intelligently, anticipating
the answer he was about to hear. *.
â€œMy conjecture is,â€ said Procope, â€œthat a fragment of
considerable magnitude has been detached from the earth ;
that it has carried with it an envelope of the earthâ€™s atmo-
sphere, and that it is now travelling through the solar
system in-an orbit that does not correspond at all with the
proper orbit of the earth.â€
The hypothesis was plausible ; but what a multitude of
bewildering speculations it entailed !
If, in truth, a certain mass had been broken off from
the terrestrial sphere, whither would it wend its way?
What would be the measure of the eccentricity of its path?
What would be its period round the sun? Might it not,
AN ENIGMA FROM THE SEA. 107
like a comet, be carried away into the vast infinity of
space? or, on the other hand, might it not be attracted to
the great central source of light and heat, and be absorbed in
it? Did its orbit correspond with the orbit of the ecliptic ?
and was there no chance of its ever uniting again with the
globe, from which it had been torn off by so sudden and
violent a disruption ?
A thoughtful silence fell upon them all, which Servadac
was the first to break.
â€œ Lieutenant,â€ he said, â€œ your explanation is ingenious,
and accounts for many appearances ; but it seems to me
that in one point it fails.â€ ;
â€œHow so?â€ replied Procope. â€œTo my mind the theory
meets all objections.â€
â€œJ think not,â€™ Servadac answered. â€œIn one point, at
least, it appears to me to break down completely.â€
â€œWhat is that ?â€ asked the lieutenant.
â€œStop a moment,â€ said the captain. â€œLet us see that
we understarid each other right. Unless I mistake you,
your hypothesis is that a fragment of the earth, comprising
the Mediterranean and its shores from Gibraltar to Malta,
has been developed into a new asteroid, which is started on
an independent. orbit in the solar regions. Is not that
â€œPrecisely so,â€ the lieutenant acquiesced.
â€œWell, then,â€ continued Servadac, â€œit seems to me to
be at fault in this respect: it fails, and fails completely,
to account for the geological character of the land that we
have found now encompassing this sea. Why, if the new
land is a fragment of the oldâ€”why does it not retain its
old formation? What has become of the granite and the
calcareous deposits? How is it that these should all be
changed into a mineral concrete with which we have rio
No doubt, it was a serious objection; for, however
likely it might be that a mass of the earth on being
detached would be eccentric in its movements, there was
no probable reason to be alleged why the material of its
108 HECTOR SERVADAC,
substance should undergo so complete a change. There
was nothing to account for the fertile shores, rich in vege-
tation, being transformed into rocks arid and_ barren
The lieutenant felt the difficulty, and owned himself
unprepared to give at once an adequate solution ; never-
theless, he declined to renounce his theory. He asserted
that the arguments in favour of it carried conviction to
his mind, and that he entertained no doubt but that, in the
course of time, all apparently antagonistic circumstances
would be explained so as to become consistent with the
view he took. He was careful, however, to make it under-
stood that with respect to the original cause of the disrup-
tion he had no theory to offer; and although he knew
what expansion might be the result of subterranean forces,
he did not venture to say that he considered it sufficient to
produce so tremendous an effect. The origin of the cata-
strophe was a problem still to be solved.
â€œAh! well,â€ said Servadac, â€œI donâ€™t know that it
matters much where our new little planet comes from, or
what it is made of, if only it carries France along with it.â€
â€œAnd Russia,â€ added the count.
â€œAnd Russia, of course,â€ said Servadac, with a polite
There was, however, not much room for this sanguine
expectation, for if a new asteroid had thus been brought
into existence, it must be a sphere of extremely limited
dimensions, and there could be little chance that it em-
braced more than the merest fraction of either France or
Russia. As to England, the total cessation of all tele-
graphic communication between her shores and Gibraltar
was a virtual proof that England was beyond its compass.
And what was the true measurement of the new little
world? At Gourbi Island the days and nights were of
equal length, and this seemed to indicate that it was
situated on the equator; hence the distance by which the
two poles stood apart would be half what had been
reckoned would be the distance completed by the Dodryna
AN ENIGMA FROM THE SEA. 109
in her circuit. That distance had been already estimated
to be something under 1400 miles, so that the Arctic Pole
of their recently fashioned world must be about 350 miles
to the north, and the Antarctic about 350 miles to the
south of the island. Compare these calculations with the
map, and it is at once apparent that the northernmost
limit barely touched the coast of Provence, while the
southernmost reached to about lat. 29Â° N., and fell in the
heart of the desert. The practical test of these conclusions
would be made by future investigation, but meanwhile the
fact appeared very much to strengthen the presumption
that, if- Lieutenant Procope had not arrived at the whole
truth, he had made a considerable advance towards it.
The weather, ever since the storm that had driven the
Dobryna into the creek, had been magnificent. The wind
continued favourable, and now under both steam and
canvas, she made a rapid progress towards the north, a
direction in which she was free to go in consequence of the
total disappearance of the Spanish coast, from Gibraltar
right away to Alicante. Malaga, Almeria, Cape Gata, Car-
thagena, Cape Palosâ€”all were gone. The sea was rolling
over the southern extent of the peninsula, so that the yacht
advanced to the latitude of Seville before it sighted any
land at all, and then, not shores such as the shores of
Andalusia, but a bluff and precipitous cliff, in its geological
features resembling exactly the stern and barren rock that
she had coasted beyond the site of Malta. Here the sea
made a decided indentation on the coast ; it ran up in an
acute-angled triangle till its apex coincided with the very
spot upon which Madrid had stood. But as hitherto the
sea had encroached upon the land, the land in its turn
now encroached upon the sea; for a frowning headland
stood out far into the basin of the Mediterranean, and
formed a promontory stretching out beyond the proper
places of the Balearic Isles. Curiosity was all alive. There
was the intensest interest awakened to determine whether
no vestige could be traced of Majorca, Minorca, or any of
the group, and it was during a deviation from the direct
110 HECTOR SERVADAC.
course for the purpose of a more thorough scrutiny, that
one of the sailors raised a thrill of general excitement by
shouting, â€œA bottle in the sea!â€
Here, then, at length was a communication from the
outer world. Surely now they would find a document
which would throw some light upon all the mysteries that
had happened? Had not the day now dawned that should
set their speculations all at rest ?
It was the morning of the 21stâ€™ of February. The
count, the captain, the lieutenant, everybody hurried to the
forecastle ; the schooner was dexterously put about, and
all was eager impatience until the supposed bottle was
hauled on deck.
It was not, however, a bottle; it proved to be a round
leather telescope-case, about a foot long, and the first thing
to do before investigating its contents was to make a care-
ful examination of its exterior. The lid was fastened on
by wax, and so securely that it would take a long immer-
sion before any water could penetrate; there was no
makerâ€™s name to be deciphered; but impressed very plainly
with a seal on the wax were the two initials â€œ P. R.â€
When the scrutiny. of the outside was finished, the wax
was removed and the cover opened, and the lieutenant
drew out a slip of ruled paper, evidently torn from a
common note-book. The paper had an inscription written
in four lines, which were remarkable for the profusion of
notes of admiration and interrogation with which they
were interspersed :â€”
Ab sole, au 15 fÃ©v. dist. 59,000,000 1. !
Chemin parcouru de janv. 4 fÃ©v. 82,000,000 1. !!
Va bene! Allright!! Parfait!!!â€
There was a general sigh of disappointment. They
turned the paper over and over, and handed it Rees â€˜one
â€œWhat does it all mean?â€ exclaimed the count.
â€œSomething mysterious here!â€ said Servadac. â€œ But
Everybody hurried tu the F orecastle.
AN ENIGMA FROM THE SEA. Til
yet, â€œhe continued, after a pause, â€œone thing is tolerably
certain: on the 15th, six days ago, some one was alive to
â€œVes; I presume there is. no reason to doubt the
accuracy of the date,â€ assented the count.
To this strange conglomeration of French, English,
Italian, and Latin, there was no signature attached ; nor
was there anything to give a clue as to the locality in
which it had been committed to the waves. A telescope-
case would probably be the property of some one on board
a ship; and the figures obviously referred to the astro-
nomical wonders that had been experienced.
To these general observations Captain Servadac ob-
jected that he thought it unlikely that any one on board a
ship would use a telescope-case for this purpose, but would
be sure to use a bottle as b2inz more secure; and, accord-
ingly, he should rather be inclined to believe that â€˜the
message had been set afloat by some savant left alone,
perchance, upon some isolated coast.
â€œBut, however interesting it might be,â€ observed the
count, â€œ to. know the author of the lines, to us itis of far
greater moment to ascertain their meaning.â€
And taking up the paper again, he saidâ€”
â€œPerhaps we might analyze it word by word, and from
its detached parts gather some clue to its sense as a whole.â€
â€œWhat can be the meaning of all that cluster of in-
terrogations after Gallia?â€ asked Servadac.
Lieutenant Procope, who had hitherto not spoken, now
broke his silence by saying â€”
â€œTI beg, gentlemen, to submit my opinion that this
document goes very far to confirm my hypothesis that a
fragment of the earth has been precipitated into space.â€
Captain Servadac hesitated, and then repliedâ€”
â€œEven if it does, I do not see how it accounts in the
least for the geological character of the new asteroid.â€
â€œBut will you allow me for one minute to take my
supposition for granted?â€ said Procope. â€œIf a new little
planet has been formed, as I imagine, by disintegration
112 HECTOR SERVADAC.
from the old, I should conjecture that Gallia is the name
assigned to it by the writer of this paper. The very notes
of interrogation are significant that he was in doubt what
he should write.â€
â€œYou would presume that he was a Frenchman?â€
asked the count.
â€œT should think so,â€ replied the lieutenant.
â€œNot much doubt about that,â€ said Servadac ; â€œit is
all in French, except a few scattered words of English,
Latin, and Italian, inserted plainly to attract attention.
He could not tell into whose hands the message would fall
â€œWell, then,â€ said Count Timascheff, â€œwe seem to
have found a name for the new world we occupy.â€
â€œBut what I was going especially to observe,â€ con-
tinued the lieutenant, â€œis that the distance, 59,000,000
leagues, represents precisely the distance we ourselves were
from the sun on the 15th. It was on that day we crossed
the orbit of Mars.â€
â€œYes, true,â€ assented the others,
: And the next line,â€ said the lieutenant, after reading
it aloud, â€œapparently registers the distance traversed by
Gallia, the new little planet, in her own orbit. Her speed,
of course, we know by Keplerâ€™s laws, would vary according
to her distance from the sun, and if she wereâ€”as I conjec-
ture from the temperature at that dateâ€”on the 15th of
January at her perihelion, she would be travelling twice as
fast as the earth, which moves at the rate of between
50,000 and 60,000 miles an hour.â€
â€œYou think, then,â€ said Servadac, with a smile, â€œyou
have determined the perihelion of our orbit: but how
about the aphelion? Can you form a judgment as to what
distance we are likely to be carried?â€
â€œYou are.asking too much,â€ remonstrated the count.
â€œT confess,â€ said the lieutenant, â€œthat just at present I
am not able to clear away the uncertainty of the future ;
but I feel confident that by careful observation at various
points we shall arrive at conclusions which not only will
mu Fi wi
= =â€” \
Bris . a
b A | \
= i) nA 7 ry
â€˜You would presume that he was a Frenchman?â€ asked the Count,
AN ENIGMA FROM THE SEA. 113
determine our path, but perhaps may clear up the mystcry
about our geological structure.â€
â€œ Allow me to ask,â€ said Count Timascheff, â€œ whether
such a new asteroid would not be subject to ordinary
mechanical laws, and whether, once started, it would not
have an orbit that must be immutable?â€
â€œ Decidedly it would, so long as it was undisturbed by
the attraction of some considerable body ; but we must
recollect that, compared to the great planets, Gallia must
be almost infinitesimally small, and so might be attracted
by a force that is irresistible.â€
â€œAltogether, then,â€ said Servadac, â€œwe seem to have
settled it to our entire satisfaction that we must be the
population of a young little world called Gallia. Perhaps
some day we may have the honour of being registered
amongst the minor planets.â€
â€œNo chance of that,â€ quickly rejoined Lieutenant
Procope. â€œThose minor planets all arÃ© known to rotate in
a narrow zone between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter;
in their perihelia they cannot approximate the sun as we
have done; we shall not be classed with them.â€
â€œOur lack of instruments,â€ said the count, â€œis much to
be deplored ; it baffles our investigations in every way.â€
â€œAh, never mind! Keep up your courage, count!â€
said Servadac, cheerily.
And Lieutenant Procope rÃ©newed his assurances that
he entertained good hopes that every perplexity would
soon be solved.
â€œJT suppose,â€ remarked the count, â€œthat we cannot
attribute much importance to the last lineâ€”
â€˜Va bene! All right!! Parfaitl!1?â€
The captain answeredâ€”
â€œ At least, it shows that whoever wrote it had no mur-
muring or complaint to make, but was quite content with
the new order of things.â€
114 HECTOR SERVADAC.
THE RESIDUUM OF A CONTINENT,
ALMOST unconsciously, the voyagers in the Dobryna fell
into the habit of using Gallia as the name of the new
world in which they became aware they must be making
an extraordinary excursion through the realms of space.
Nothing, however, was allowed to divert them from their
ostensible object of making a survey of the coast of the
Mediterranean, and accordingly they persevered in follow-
ing that singular boundary which had revealed itself to
their extreme astonishment.
Having rounded the great promontory that had barred
her farther progress to the north, the schooner skirted its
upper edge until it brought her to the bearings of the city
of Barcelona. But that busy port, with all the adjacent
coast, had disappeared, and the surf was beating against a
barrier of cliffs that seemed to have been upheaved a little
in the rear of the old sea-margin, and which, after a con-
siderable distance, took a sudden turn and rebutted into
the sea close to the proper site of Cape Creus.
Of Cape Creus, however, there was no vestige left.
A few more leagues and they ought to be abreast of
the shores of France. Yes, of France.
But who shall describe the feelings of Hector Servadac
when, instead of the charming outline of his native land, he
beheld nothing but a solid boundary of savage rock?
Who shall paint the look of consternation with which he
TLE RESIDUUM OF A CONTINENT. 115
gazed upon the stony rampartâ€”rising perpendicularly for
a thousand feetâ€”that had replaced the shores of the
smiling south? Who shall reveal the burning anxiety
with which he throbbed to see beyond that cruel wall ?
But there seemed no hope. Onwards and onwards the
yacht made her way, and still no sign of France. Cape
Bearn was not there. Neither Port Vendres, nor the pools
of St. Nazaire and Salces, nor any other relic of the
PyrÃ©nÃ©es-Orientales could be traced. The picturesque
Narbonne, beautiful with its alternate isles and lakelets,
was nowhere to be distinguished. Not a vestige of Cette
or of Frontignan could be recognized. The arrondisse-
ment of Nismes no longer was seen projecting into the
waters of the Mediterranean. The estuary of the Rhone
had disappeared. Martignes was gone. Marseilles gone,
too. Was it not to be feared that France itself had been
It might have been supposed that Servadacâ€™s previous
experiences would have prepared him for the discovery
that the catastrophe which had overwhelmed other sites
had brought destruction to his own country as well. But
he had failed to realize how it might extend to France;
and when now he was obliged with his own eyes to witness
the waves of ocean rolling over what once had been the
lovely shores of Provence, he was well-nigh frantic with
â€œ Am I to believe that Gourbi Island, that little shred
of Algeria, constitutes all that is left of our glorious France ?
No, no; it cannot be. Not yet have we reached the pole
of our new world. There isâ€”there must beâ€”something
more behind that frowning rock. Oh, that for a moment
we could scale its towering height and look beyond! By
Heaven, I adjure you, let us disembark, and mount the
summit and explore! France lies beyond.â€
Disembarkation, however, was an utter impossibility.
There was no semblance of a creek in which the Dodryna
could find an anchorage. There was no outlying ridge on
which a footing could be gained. The precipice was
116 HECTOR SERVADAC.,
perpendicular as a wall, its topmost height crowned with
the same conglomerate of crystallized lamellz that had all
along been so pronounced a feature.
With her steam at high pressure, the yacht made rapid
progress towards the east. The weather remained per-
fectly fine, the temperature became gradually cooler, so
that there was little prospect of vapours accumulating in
the atmosphere; and nothing more than a few cirri, almost
transparent, veiled here and there the clear azure of the
sky. Throughout the day the pale rays of the sun, appa-
rently lessened in its magnitude, cast only faint and some-
what uncertain shadows ; but at night the stars shone with
surpassing brilliancy. Of the planets, some, it was ob-
served, seemed to be fading away in remote distance. This
was the case with Mars, Venus, and that unknown orb
which was moving in the orbit of the minor planets; but
Jupiter, on the other hand, had assumed splendid propor-
tions ; Saturn was superb in its lustre, and Uranus, which
hitherto had been imperceptible without a telescope, was
pointed out by Lieutenant Procope, plainly visible to the
naked eye. The inference was irresistible that Gallia was
receding from the sun, and travelling far away across the
planetary regions. ,
On the 24th of February, after following the sinuous
course of what before the date of the convulsion had been
the coast line of the department of Var, and after a
fruitless search for HyÃ©res, the peninsula of St. Tropez, the
LÃ©rius Islands, and the gulfs of Cannes and Jouar, the
Dobryna arrived upon the site of the Cape of Antibes.
Here, quite unexpectedly, the explorers made the dis-
covery that the massive wall of cliff had been rent from the
top to the bottom by a narrow rift, like the dry bed of a
mountain torrent, and at the base of the opening, level
with the sea, was a little strand upon which there was just
space enough for their boat to be hauled up.
â€œJoy! joy!â€ shouted Servadac, half beside himself
with ecstasy ; â€œwe can land at last!â€
Count Timascheff and the lieutenant were scarcely less
They hurried on to scale the Heights.
THE RESIDUUM OF A CONTINENT. II7
impatient than the captain, and little needed his urgent
and repeated solicitationsâ€”
â€œCome on! Quick! Come on! no time to lose!â€
It was half-past seven a.m. when they set their foot
upon this untried land. The bit of strand was only a few
square yards in area, quite a narrow strip. Upon it might
have been recognized some fragments of that agglutination
of yellow limestone which is characteristic of the coast of
Provence. _ But the whole party was far too eager to wait
and examine these remnants of the ancient shore; they
hurried on to scale the heights.
The narrow ravine was not only perfectly dry, but
manifestly had never been the bed of any mountain torrent.
The rocks that rested at the bottomâ€”just as those which
formed its sidesâ€”were of the same lamellous formation as
the entire coast, and had not hitherto been subject to the
disaggregation which the lapse of time never fails to work.
A skilled geologist would probably have been able to assign
them their proper scientific classification, but neither
Servadac, Timascheff, nor the lieutenant could pretend
to any acquaintance with their specific character.
Although, however, the bottom of the chasm had never
as yet been the channel of a stream, indications were not
wanting that at some future time it would be the natural
outlet of accumulated waters; for already, in many places,
thin layers.of snow were glittering upon the surface of the
fractured rocks, and the higher the elevation that was
gained, the more these layers were found to increase in
area and in depth.
â€œ Here is a trace of fresh water, the first that Gallia has
exhibited,â€ said the count to his companions, as they toilec
up the precipitous path.
â€œ And probably,â€ replied the lieutenant, â€œas we ascena
we shall find not only snow but ice. We must suppose
this Gallia of ours to be a sphere, and if it is so, we must
now be very close to her Arctic regions ; it is true that her
axis is not so much inclined as to prolong day and night
as at the poles of the earth, but the rays of the sun must
118 ; HECTOR SERVADAC.
reach us here only very obliquely, and the cold, in all likeli-
hood, will be intense.â€
â€œSo cold, do you think,â€ asked Servadac, â€œthat animal
life must be extinct ?â€
â€œT do not say that, captain,â€ answered the lieutenant ;
â€œ for, however far our little world may be removed from the
sun, I do not see why its temperature should fall below
what prevails in those. outlying regions beyond our system
where sky and air are not.â€
â€œAnd what temperature may that be?â€ inquired the
captain with a shudder.
â€œ Fourier estimates that even in those vast unfathom-
able tracts the temperature never descends lower than
60Â°,â€ said Procope.
â€œSixty! Sixty degrees below zero!â€ cried the count.
â€œWhy, thereâ€™s not a Russian could endure it !â€
â€œTI beg your pardon, count. It is placed on record
that the English â€œave survived it, or something quite ap-
proximate, upon their Arctic expeditions. When Captain
Parry was on Melville Island, he knew the thermometer to
fall to 56Â°.â€
As the explorers advanced, they seemed glad to pause
from time to time, that they might recover their breath ;
for the air, becoming more and more rarefied, made respira-
tion somewhat difficult and the ascent fatiguing. Before
they had reached an altitude of 600 feet they noticed a
sensible diminution of the temperature; but neither cold
nor fatigue deterred them, and they were resolved to per-
severe. Fortunately, the deep striz or furrows in the sur-
face of the rocks that made the bottom of the ravine
in some degree facilitated their progress, but it was not
until they had been toiling up for two hours more that they
succeeded in reaching the summit of the cliff.
Eagerly and anxiously did they look around. To the
south there was nothing but the sea they had traversed ;
to the north, nothing but one drear, inhospitable stretch.
Servadac could not suppress a cry of dismay. Where
was his beloved France? Had he gained this arduous
THE RESIDUUM OF A CONTINENT. 11g
height only to behold the rocks carpeted with ice and
snow, and reaching interminably to the far-off horizon ?
His heart sank within him.
The whole region appeared to consist of nothing but
the same strange, uniform mineral conglomerate, crystallized
into regular hexagonal prisms. But whatever was its
geological character, it was only too evident that it had
entirely replaced the former soil, so that not a vestige of
the old continent of Europe could be discerned. The
lovely scenery of Provence, with the grace of its rich and
undulating landscape ; its gardens of citrons and oranges
rising tier upon tier from the deep red soil; its long
avenues of pepper-plants, mimosas, palm-trees, and euca-
lyptus; its bowers of clambering geraniums, interspersed
with glowing gladioli and crowned with the clustering
yuccas ; its rocks upon the shore, oxydized with the most
radiant of tints; and the mountains in the background,
clad in their vesture of dark conifersâ€”all, all had vanished.
Of the vegetable kingdom, there was not a single repre-
sentative; the most meagre of Arctic plants, the most
insignificant of lichens, could obtain no hold upon that
stony waste. Nor did the animal world assert the feeblest
sway ; no petrel, puffin, or guillemot could find a meal
upon that wide expanse of arid rock, The mineral king-
dom reigned supreme.
Captain Servadacâ€™s deep dejection was in strange con-
trast to his general hilarity. Silent and tearful, he stood
upon an ice-bound rock, straining his eyes across the
boundless vista of the mysterious territory.
â€œTt cannot be!â€ he exclaimed. â€œWe must somehow
have mistaken our bearings. True, we have encountered
this barrier ; but France is there beyond! Yes, France is
there! Come, count, come! By all thatâ€™s pitiful, I entreat
you, come, and explore the farthest verge of the ice-bound
He pushed onwards along the rugged surface of the
rock, but had not proceeded far before he came to a sudden
pause. His foot had come in contact with something hard
120 HECTOR SERVADAC,
beneath the snow, and, stooping down, he picked up a little
block of stony substance, which the first glance revealed
to be.of a geological character altogether alien to the
universal rocks around. It proved to be a fragment of
discoloured marble, on which several letters were inscribed,
of which the only part at all decipherable was the syllable
â€œVilâ€”Villa!â€ he cried out, in his excitement dropping
the marble, which was broken into atoms by the fall.
What else could this fragment be but the sole surviving
remnant of some sumptuous mansion that once had stood
on this unrivalled site? Was it not the residue of some
edifice that had crowned the luxuriant headland of
Antibes, overlooking Nice, and commanding the gorgeous
panorama that embraced the Maritime Alps and reached
beyond Monaco and Mentone to the Italian height of
Bordighera? And did it not give in its sad and too con-
vincing testimony that Antibes itself had been involved in
the great destruction?
Servadac gazed upon the shattered marble, pensive and
Count Timascheff laid his hand kindly on the captainâ€™s
shoulder, and saidâ€”
â€œMy friend, do you not remember the motto of the old
Hope family ?â€
He shook his head mournfully.
â€œOrbe fracto, spes tllesa,â€™ continued the countâ€”* Though
the world be shattered, hope is unimpaired.â€
Servadac smiled faintly, and replied that he felt rather
compelled to take up the despairing cry of Danteâ€”
** All hope abandon, ye who enter here.â€
â€œNay, not so,â€ answered the count ; â€œfor the present
at least, let our maxim be WV desperandum 1â€
He picked up a Little Block of Stony Substance,
Â« 121 )
A SECOND ENIGMA.
UPON re-embarking, the bewildered explorers began to
discuss the question whether it would not now be desirable
to make their way back to Gourbi Island, which was
apparently the only spot in their new world from which
they could hope to derive their future sustenance. Captain
Servadac tried to console himself with the reflection that
Gourbi Island was, after all, a fragment of a French
colony, and as such almost like a bit of his dear France ;
and the plan of returning thither was on the point of being
adopted, when Lieutenant Procope remarked that they
ought to remember that they had not hitherto made an
entire circuit of the new shores of the sea on which they
â€œWe have,â€ he said, â€œneither investigated the northern
shore from the site of Cape Antibes to the strait that
brought us to Gibraltar, nor have we followed the southern
shore that stretches from the strait to the Gulf of Cabes.
It is the old coast, and not the new, that we have been
tracing: as yet, we cannot say positively that there is no
outlet to the south ; as yet, we cannot assert that no oasis
of the African desert has escaped the catastrophe. Per-
haps, even here in the north, we may find that Italy and
Sicily and the larger islands of the Mediterranean may
still maintain their existence.â€
122 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œT entirely concur with you,â€ said Count Timascheff.
â€œT quite think we ought to make our survey of the con-
fines of this new basin as complete as possible before we
Servadac, although he acknowledged the justness of
these observations, could not help pleading that the ex-
plorations might be deferred until after a visit had been
paid to Gourbi Island.
â€œDepend upon it, captain, you are mistaken,â€ replied
the lieutenant ; â€œthe right thing to do is to use the Dobryna
while she is available.â€
â€œAvailable! What do you mean?â€ asked the count,
somewhat taken by surprise.
â€œJT mean,â€ said Procope, â€œthat the farther this Gallia
of ours recedes from the sun, the lower the temperature will
fall. It is likely enough, I think, that before long the sea
will be frozen over, and navigation will be impossible.
Already you have learned something of the difficulties of
traversing a field of ice, and I am sure, therefore, you will
acquiesce in my wish to continue our explorations while
the water is still open.â€
â€œNo doubt you are right, lieutenant,â€ said the count.
â€œWe will continue our search while we can for some
remaining fragment of Europe. Who shall tell whether
we may not meet with some more survivors from the
catastrophe, to whom it might be in our power to afford
assistance, before we go into our winter quarters?â€
Generous and altogether unselfish as this sentiment
really was, it was obviously to the general interest that
they should become acquainted, and if possible establish
friendly relations, with any human inhabitant who might
be sharing their own strange destiny in being rolled away
upon a new planet into the infinitude of space. All
difference of race, all distinction of nationality, must be
merged into the one thought that, few as they were, they
were the sole surviving representatives of a world which it
seemed exceedingly improbable that they would ever see
again ; and common sense dictated that they were bound
The Heavens were illuminated by a Superb Shower of falling Stars,
A SECOND ENIGMA. 123
to direct all their energies to insure that their asteroid
should at least have a united and sympathizing population.
It was on the 25th of February that the yacht left the
little creek in which she had taken refuge, and setting off
at full steam eastwards, she continued her way along the
northern shore. A brisk breeze tended to increase the
keenness of the temperature, the thermometer being, on an
average, about two degrees below zero. Salt water freezes
only at a lower temperature than fresh ; the course of the
Dobryna was therefore unimpeded by ice, but it could not
be concealed that there was the greatest necessity to
maintain the utmost possible speed.
The nights continued lovely; the chilled condition of
the atmosphere prevented the formation of clouds ; the
constellations gleamed forth with unsullied lustre; and,
much as Lieutenant Procope, from nautical considerations,
might regret the absence of the moon, he could not do
otherwise than own that the magnificent nights of Gallia
were such as must awaken the enthusiasm of an astronomer.
And, as if to compensate for the loss of the moonlight, the
heavens were illuminated by a superb shower of falling
stars, far exceeding, both in number and in brilliancy, the
phenomena which are commonly distinguished as the
August and November meteors ; in fact, Gallia was passing
through that meteoric ring which is known to lie exterior
to the earthâ€™s orbit, but almost concentric with it. The
luminous bodies seemed to radiate from Algol, in the con-.
stellation of Perseus, and the friction of the atmosphere
enveloping the planetoid not only somewhat arrested the
velocity with which they were travelling, but caused them
to glow with an intenser lustre that was truly marvellous.
During the memorable star-shower of 1833, Ohnsted esti-
mated that, at Boston, as many as 34.000 of these meteors
darted across the firmament, but on this occasion it may
safely be affirmed that there was at least ten times that
number. No display of fireworks, even of the elaborate
rockets devised by the master-hand of a Ruggieri or a
Brock, could compare with the gorgeous spectacle. The
124 HECTOR SERVADAC,
rocky coast, its metallic surface reflecting the glow of the
dazzling luminaries, appeared literally stippled with light,
whilst the sea, as though spattered with burning hailstones,
shone with a phosphorescence that was perfectly splendid.
So great, however, was the speed at which Gallia was
receding from the sun, that this meteoric storm lasted
scarcely more than four and twenty hours.
Next day the direct progress of the ne was
arrested by a long projection of land, which obliged
her to turn southwards, until she reached what formerly
would, have been the southern extremity of Corsica. Of
this, however, there was now no trace; the Strait of Boni-
facio had been replaced by a vast expanse of water, which
had at first all the appearance of being utterly desert ; but
on the following morning the explorers unexpectedly
sighted a little island, which (unless it should prove, as
was only too likely, to be of recent origin) they concluded,
from its situation, must be a portion of the northernmost
territory of Sardinia.
The Dobryna approached the land as nearly as was
prudent, the boat was lowered, and in a few minutes the
count and Servadac had landed upon the islet, which was
a mere plot of meadow land, not much more than two
acres in extent, dotted here and there with a few myrtle-
bushes and lentisks, interspersed with some ancient olives,
Having ascertained, as they imagined, that the spot was
devoid of living creature, they were on the point of return-
ing to their boat, when their attention was arrested by a
faint bleating, and immediately afterwards a solitary she-
goat came bounding towards the shore. The creature had
dark, almost black hair, and small curved horns, and was a
specimen of that domestic breed which, with considerable
justice, has gained for itself the title of â€œthe poor manâ€™s
cow.â€ So far from being alarmed at the presence of
strangers, the goat ran nimbly towards them, and then, by
its movements and plaintive cries, seemed to be enticing
them to follow it.
â€œCome,â€ said Servadac; â€œlet us see where it will lead
s; it is more than probable it is not alone.â€
, A Little Girl was peeping shyly through the Brauciies,
A SECOND ENIGMA. 125
_ The count agreed; and the animal, as if comprehending:
What was said, trotted on gently for about a hundred
paces, and stopped in front of a kind of cave or burrow that.
was half concealed by a grove of lentisks. Here a little
girl, seven or eight years of age, with rich brown hair and
lustrous dark eyes, beautiful as one of Murilloâ€™s angels,
was. peeping shyly through the branches. Apparently
discovering nothing in the aspect of the strangers to excite
her apprehensions, the child suddenly gained confidence,,
darted forwards with outstretched hands, and in a voice
soft and melodious as the language which she spoke, said
in Italian :
â€œT like you; you will not hurt me, will you?â€
â€œHurt you, my child?â€ answered Servadac. â€œNo,
indeed ; we will be your friends ; we will take care of you.â€
And after a few momentsâ€™ scrutiny of the pretty
maiden, he added:
â€œTell us vour name, little one.â€
â€œNina!â€ was the childâ€™s reply.
â€œ Well, then, Nina, can you tell us where we are?â€
â€œAt Madalena, I think,â€ -said the little girl ; â€œat least,
I know I was there when that dreadful shock came and
The count knew that Madalena was close to Caprera,.
to the north of Sardinia, which had entirely disappeared
in the disaster. By dint of a series of questions, he gained
from the child a very intelligent account of her experiences.
She told him that she had no parents, and had been
employed in taking care of a flock of goats belonging to
one of the landowners, when one day, all of a sudden,
everything around her, except this little piece of land, had
been swallowed up, and that she and Marzy, her pet goat,
had been left quite alone. She went on to say that at first
she had been very frightened ; but when she found that the
earth did not shake any more, she had thanked the great
God, and had soon made herself very happy living with
Marzy. She had enough food, she said, and had been
waiting for a boat to fetch her, and now a boat had come
126 HECTOR SERVADAC.
and she was quite ready to go away ; only they must let
her goat go with her: they would both like so much to
get back to the old farm.
â€œHere, at least, is one nice little inhabitant of Gallia,â€
said Captain Servadac, as he caressed the child and con-
ducted her to the boat.
Half an hour later, both Nina and Marzy were safely
quartered on board the yacit. It is needless to say that
they received the heartiest of welcomes. The Russian
sailors, ever superstitious, seemed almost to regard the
coming of the child as the appearance of an angel ; and, in-
credible as it may seem, more than one of them wondered
whether she had wings, and amongst themselves they com-
monly referred to her as â€œthe little Madonna.â€
Soon out of sight of Madalena, the Dodryna for some
hours held a south-easterly course along the shore, which
here was fifty leagues in advance of the former coast-line
of Italy, demonstrating that a new continent must have
been formed, substituted as it were for the old peninsula,
of which not a vestige could be identified. At a latitude
corresponding with the latitude of Rome, the sea took the
form of a deep gulf, extending back far beyond the site of
the Eternal. City; the coast making a wide sweep round
to the former position of Calabria, and jutting far beyond
the outline of â€œthe boot,â€ which Italy resembles. But the
beacon of Messina was not to be discerned ; no trace, in-
deed, survived of any portion of Sicily; the very peak of
Etna, 11,000 feet as it had reared itself above the level
of the sea, had vanished utterly.
Another sixty leagues to the south, and the Dodryna
sighted the entrance of the strait which had afforded her
so providential a refuge from the tempest, and had con-
ducted her to the fragmentary relic of Gibraltar. Hence
to the Gulf of Cabes had been already explored, and as it
was universally allowed that it was unnecessary to renew
the search in that direction, the lieutenant started off ina
transverse course, towards a point hitherto uninvestigated.
That point was reached on the 3rd of March, and thence
A SECOND ENIGMA. 127
the coast was continuously followed, as it led through what
had been Tunis, across the province of Constantine, away
to the oasis of Ziban ; where, taking a sharp turn, it first
reached a latitude of 32Â°, and then returned again, thus
forming a sort of irregular gulf, enclosed by â€˜the same
unvarying border of mineral concrete. This colossal
boundary then stretched away for nearly 150 leagues over
the Sahara desert, and, extending to the south of Gourbi
Island, occupied what, if Morocco. had still existed, would
have been its natural frontier.
Adapting her course to these deviations of the coast-
line, the Dodryna was steering northwards, and had barely
reached the limit of the bay, when the attention of all on
board was arrested by the phenomenon of a volcano, at
least 3000 feet high, its crater crowned with smoke, which
occasionally was streaked by tongues of flame.
â€œA burning mountain!â€ they exclaimed.
â€œ Gallia, then, has some internal heat,â€ said Servadac.
â€œ And why not, captain ?â€ rejoined the lieutenant. â€œ If
our asteroid has carried with it a portion of the old earthâ€™s
atmosphere, why should it not likewise retain something of
its central fire ?â€
â€œ Ah, well!â€ said the captain, shrugging his shoulders,
â€œT dare say there is caloric enough in our little world to
supply the wants_of its population.â€
Count Timascheff interrupted the silence that followed
this conversation by saying :
â€œAnd now, gentlemen, as our course has brought us
on our way once more towards Gibraltar, what do you say
to our renewing our acquaintance with the Englishmen ?
They will be interested in the result of our voyage.â€
â€œ For my part,â€ said Servadac, â€œI have no desire that
way. They know where to find Gourbi Island; they can
betake themselves thither just when they please. They
have plenty of provisions. If the water freezes, 120
leagues is no very great distance. The reception they
gave us was not so cordial that we need put ourselves
out of the way to repeat our visit.â€
128 HECTOR SERVADAC,
â€œWhat you say is too true,â€ replied the count. â€œI hope
we shall show them better manners when they condescend
to visit us.â€
â€œ Ay,â€ said Servadac, â€œwe must remember that we are
all one people now; no longer Russian, French, or English.
Nationality is extinct.â€
â€œJT am sadly afraid, however,â€ continued the count,
â€œthat an Englishman will be an Englishman ever.â€
â€œYes,â€ said the captain, â€œthat is always their failing.â€
And thus all further thought of making their way again
to the little garrison of Gibraltar was abandoned.
But even if their spirit of courtesy had disposed them to
renew their acquaintance with the British officers, there
were two circumstances that just then would have rendered
such a proposal very unadvisable. In the first place,
Lieutenant Procope was convinced that it could not be
much longer now before the sea would be entirely frozen ;
and, besides this, the consumption of their coal, through the
speed they had maintained, had been so great that there
was only too much reason to fear that fuel would fail
them. Anyhow, the strictest economy was necessary, and
it was accordingly resolved that the voyage should not be
much prolonged. Beyond the volcanic peak, moreover,
the waters seemed to expand into a boundless ocean, and
it might be a thing full of risk to be frozen up while the
yacht was so inadequately provisioned. Taking all these
things into account, it was agreed that further investi-
gations should be deferred to a more favourable season,
and that, without delay, the Dodryna should return to
This decision was especially welcome to Hector Ser-
vadac, who, throughout the whole of the last five weeks,
had been agitated by much anxious thought on account
of the faithful servant he had left behind.
The transit from the volcano to the island was not
long, and was marked by only one noticeable incident.
This was the finding of a second mysterious document, in
character precisely similar to what they had found before.
A SECOND ENIGMA. 129
The writer of it was evidently engaged upon a calculation,
probably continued from day to day, as to the motions of
the planet Gallia upon its orbit, and committing the results
of his reckonings to the waves as the channel of communi-
Instead of being enclosed in a telescope-case, it was
this time secured in a preserved-meat tin, hermetically
sea'ed, and stamped with the same initials on the wax
that fastened it. The greatest care was used in opening
it, and it was found to contain the following message :â€”
** Gallia (?)
Ab sole, au I mars, dist. 78,000,000 |. !
Chemin parcouru de fÃ©v. 4 mars: 59,099,000 L. !
Va bene! Allright! Nil desperandum !
â€œ Another enigma!â€ exclaimed Servadac; â€œand still
no intelligible signature, and no address. No clearing up
of the mystery !â€
â€œT have no doubt, in my own mind,â€ said the count,
â€œthat it is one of a serics. It s: ms to me probable that
they are being sent broadcast upon the sea.â€
â€œI wonder where the hare-brained savanÃ© that writes
them can be living?â€ observed Servadac.
â€œVery likely he may have met with the fate of Atsopâ€™s
abstracted astronomer, who found himself at the bottom of
â€œ Ay; but where zs that well ?â€ demanded the captain.
This â€˜was a question which the count was incapable of
settling ; and they could only speculate afresh as to whether
the author of the riddles was dwelling upon some solitary
island, or, like themselves, was navigating the waters of
the new Mediterranean. But they could detect nothing to
guide them to a definite decision.
After thoughtfully regarding the document for some
time, Lieutenant Procope proceeded to observe that he
believed the paper might be considered as genuine, and
accordingly, taking its statements as reliable, he deduced
two important conclusions: first, that whereas, in the
month of January, the distance travelled by the planet
130 HECTOR SERVADAC.
(hypothetically called Gallia) had been recorded as
82,000,000 leagues, the distance travelled in February
was. only 59,000,000 leaguesâ€”a difference of 23,000,000
leagues in one month; secondly, that the distance of the
planet from the sun, which on the 15th of February had
been 59,000,000 leagues, was on the rst of March 78,000,000
leaguesâ€”an increase of 19,000,000 leagues in a fortnight.
Thus, in proportion as Gallia receded from the sun, so did
the rate of speed diminish by which she travelled along
her orbit ; facts to be observed in perfect conformity with
the known laws of celestial mechanism.
â€œAnd your inference ?â€ asked the count.
â€œMy inference,â€ replied the lieutenant, â€œis a confir-
mation of my surmise that we are following an_ orbit
decidedly elliptical, although we have not yet the material
to determine its eccentricity.â€
â€œ As the writer adheres to the appellation of Gallia, do
you not think,â€ asked the count, â€œ that we might call these
new waters the Gallian Sea?â€
â€œThere can be no reason to the contrary, count,â€ -re-
plied the lieutenant ; â€œand as such I will insert it upon my
â€œOur friend,â€ said Servadac, â€œseems to be more and
more gratified with the condition of things; not only has
he adopted our motto, â€˜Vil desperandum !â€™ but see how
enthusiastically he has wound up with his â€˜ AzchantÃ© !â€™â€
The conversation dropped.
A few hours later the man on watch announced that
Gourbi Island was in sight.
( 131 )
AN UNEXPECTED POPULATION,
THE Dobryna was now back again at the island. Her
cruise had lasted from the 31st of January to the 5th of
March, a period of thirty-five days (for it was leap-year),
corresponding to seventy days as accomplished by the new
Many a time during his absence Hector Servadac had
wondered how his present vicissitudes would end, and
he had felt some misgivings as to whether he should ever
again set foot upon the island, and see his faithful orderly,
so that it was not without emotion that he had approached
the coast of the sole remaining fragment of Algerian soil.
But his apprehensions were groundless; Gourbi Island
was just as he had left it, with nothing unusual in its aspect,
except that a very peculiar cloud was hovering over it, at
an altitude of little more than a hundred feet. As the
yacht approached the shore, this cloud appeared to rise
and fall as if acted upon by some invisible agency, andthe
captain, after watching it carefully, perceived that it was
not an accumulation of vapours at all, but a dense mass of
birds packed as closely together as a swarm of herrings, and
uttering deafening and discordant cries, amidst which from
time to time the noise of the report of a gun could be.
The WDobryna signalized her arrival by firing her
cannon, and dropped anchor in the little port of the
132 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Sheliff. Almost within.a minute Ben Zoof was seen run-
ning, gun in hand, towards the shore; he cleared the last
ridge of rocks at a single bound, and then suddenly halted.
Bee a few seconds he stood motionless, his eyes fixed, as if
obeying the instructions of a drill-sergeant, on a point some
fifteen yards distant, his whole attitude indicating sub-
mission and respect ; but the sight of the captain, who was
landing, was too much for his equanimity, and darting
forward, he seized his masterâ€™s hand and covered it with
kisses, Instead, however, of uttering any expressions of
welcome or rejoicing at the captainâ€™s return, Ben Zoof
broke out into the most vehement ejaculations :
â€œ Thieves, captain! beastly thieves! Bedouins! pirates!
â€œWhy, Ben Zoof, whatâ€™s the matter?â€ said Servadac
â€œThey are thieves! downright, desperate thieves! those
infernal birds! Thatâ€™s whatâ€™s the matter. It is a good
thing you have come. Here have I for a whole month
been spending my powder and shot upon them, and the
more I kill them, the worse they get; and yet, if I were to
leave them alone, we should not Sa a grain of corn upon
It was soon evident that the orderly had only too
much cause for alarm. The crops had ripened rapidly
during the excessive heat of January, when the orbit of
Gallia was being traversed at its perihelion, and were now
exposed to the depredations of many thousands of birds ;
and although a goodly number of stacks attested the
industry of Ben Zoof during the time of the Dodbrynaâ€™'s
voyage, it was only too apparent that the portion of the
harvest that remained ungathered was liable to the most
imminent.-risk of being utterly devoured. It was, perhaps,
only natural that this clustered mass of birds, as represent-
ing the whole of the feathered tribe upon the surface of
Gallia, should resort to Gourbi Island, of which the
meadows seemed to be the only spot: from which they
could get sustenance at-all; but as this sustenance would
AN UNEXPECTED POPULATION. 133
be obtained at the expense, and probably to the serious
detriment, of the human population, it was absolutely
necessary that every possible resistance should be mace to
the devastation that was threatened.
Once satisfied that Servadac and his friends would
co-operate with him in the raid upon â€œthe thieves,â€ Ben
Zoof became calm and content, and began to make various
â€œAnd what has become,â€ he said, â€œof all our old
comrades in Africa?â€
â€œ As far as I can tell you,â€ answered the captain, â€œ they
are all in Africa still; only Africa isnâ€™t by any means where
we expected to find it.â€
â€œAnd France? Montmartre?â€ continued Ben Zoof
Here was the cry of the poor fellowâ€™s heart.
As briefly as he could, Servadac endeavoured to
explain the true condition of things ; he tried to communi-
cate the fact that Paris, France, Europe, nay, the whole
world was more than eighty millions of leagues away
from Gourbi Island; as gently and cautiously as he could
he expressed -his fear that they might never sce Europe,
France, Paris, Montmartre again.
â€œNo, no, sir!â€ protested Ben Zoof emphatically; â€˜that
is all nonsense. It is altogether out of the question to
suppose that we are not to see Montmartre again.â€
And the orderly shook his head resolutely, with the air
of a man determined, in spite of argument, to. adhere to his
â€œVery good, my brave fellow,â€ replied Servadac ;
â€œhope on, hope while you may. The message has come to
us over the sea, â€˜Never despair ;â€™ but one thing, neverthe-
less, is certain; we must forthwith commence arrange-
ments for making this island our permanent home.â€
Captain Servadac now led the way to the gourbi,
which, by his servantâ€™s exertions, had been entirely rebuilt;
and here he did the honours of his modest establishment to
his two guests, the count and the lieutenant, and gave a
134 HECTOR SERVADAC.
welcome, too, to little Nina, who had accompanied them on
shore, and between whom and Ben Zoof the most friendly
relations had already been established.
The adjacent building continued in good preservation,
and Captain Servadacâ€™s satisfaction was very great in
finding the two horses, Zephyr and Galette, comortanly
housed there and in good condition.
After the enjoyment of some refreshment, â€˜the party
proceeded to a general consultation as to what steps must
be taken for their future welfare. The most pressing
matter that came before them was the consideration of the
means to be adopted to enable the inhabitants of Gallia to
survive the terrible cold, which, in their ignorance of the
true eccentricity of their orbit, might, for aught they knew,
last for an almost indefinite period. Fuel was far from
abundant ; of coal there was none; trees and shrubs were
few in number, and to cut them down in prospect of the
cold seemed a very questionable policy ; but there was no
doubt some expedient must be devised to prevent disaster,
and that without delay.
The victualling of the little colony offered no im-
mediate difficulty. Water was abundant, and the cisterns
could hardly fail to be replenished by the numerous
streams that meandered along the plains; moreover, the
Gallian Sea would ere long be frozen over, and the melted
ice (water in its congealed-state being divested of every
particle of salt) would afford a supply of drink that could
not be exhausted. The crops that were now ready for the
harvest, and the flocks and herds scattered over the island,
would form an ample reserve. There was little doubt that
throughout the winter the soil would remain unproductive,
and no fresh fodder for domestic animals could then be
obtained; it would therefore be necessary, if the exact
duration of Galliaâ€™s year should ever be calculated, to pro-
portion the number of animals to be reserved to the real
length of the winter.
The next thing requisite was to arrive at a true
estimate of the number of the population. Without in-
All along their way they made unsparing Slaughter of the Birds,
AN UNEXPECTED POPULATION. 135
cluding the thirteen Englishmen at Gibraltar, about whom
he was not particularly disposed to give himself much
concern at present, Servadac put down the names of the
eight Russians, the two Frenchmen, and the little Italian
girl, eleven in all, as the entire list of the inhabitants of
â€œOh, pardon me,â€ interposed Ben Zoof, â€œyou are
mistaking the state of the case altogether. You will be
surprised to learn that there are twenty-two people on the
â€œ Twenty-two!â€ exclaimed the captain; â€œtwenty-two
people on this island? What do you mean?â€
â€œThe opportunity has not occurred,â€ answered Ben
Zoof, â€œfor me to tell you before, but I have had company
â€œExplain yourself, Ben Zoof,â€ said Servadac. â€œWhat
company have you had?â€
â€œYou could not suppose,â€ replied the orderly, â€œthat
my own unassisted hands could have accomplished all the
harvest-work that you see has been done.â€
â€œT confess,â€ said Lieutenant Procope, â€œwe do not seem
to have noticed that.â€
â€œWell, then,â€ said Ben Zoof, â€œif you will be good
enough to come with me for about a mile, I shall be able
to show you my companions. But we must take our
guns,â€ he added.
â€œWhy take our guns?â€ asked Servadac. â€œI hope we
are not going to fight.â€
â€œNo, not with men,â€ said Ben Zoof; â€œbut it does not
answer to throw a chance away for giving battle to those
thieves of birds.â€
Leaving little Nina and her goat in the gourbi,
Servadac, Count Timascheff, and the lieutenant, greatly
mystified, took up their guns and followed the orderly.
All along their way they made unsparing slaughter of the
birds that hovered over and around them. Nearly every
species of the feathered tribe seemed to have its repre-
sentative in that living cloud. There were wild ducks in
136 HECTOR SERVADAC.
thousands ; snipe, larks, rooks, and swallows; a countless
variety of sea-birdsâ€”widgeons, gulls, and seamews; besides
a quantity of gameâ€”quails, partridges, and woodcocks.
The sportsmen did their best; every shot told; and the
depredators fell by dozens on either hand.
Instead of following the northern shore of the island,
Ben Zoof cut obliquely across the plain. Making their
progress with the unwonted rapidity which was attributable
to. their specific lightness, Servadac and his companions
soon found themselves near a grove of sycamores and
eucalyptus massed in picturesque confusion at the base of
a little hill. Here they halted.
â€œAh! the vagabonds! the rascals! the thieves!â€
suddenly exclaimed Ben Zoof, stamping his foot with rage.
â€œHow now? Are your friends the birds at their pranks
again?â€ asked the captain.
â€œNo, I donâ€™t mean the birds: I mean those lazy
beggars that are shirking their work. Look here; look
there!â€ And as Ben Zoof spoke, he pointed to some
scythes, and sickles, and other implements of husbandry
that had been left upon the ground.
â€œWhat is it you mean?â€ asked Servadac, getting
â€œHush, hush! listen!â€ was all Ben Zoofâ€™s reply ; and
he raised his finger as if in warning.
Listening attentively, Servadac and his associates
could distinctly recognize a human voice, accompanied by
the notes of a guitar and by the measured click of castanets.
â€œSpaniards!â€ said Servadac.
â€œNo mistake about that, sir,â€ replied Ben Zoof; â€œa
Spaniard would rattle his castanets at the cannonâ€™s
â€œBut what is the meaning of it all?â€ asked the
captain, more puzzled than before,
Hark!â€ said Ben Zoof; â€œit is the old manâ€™s turn
And then a voice, at once gruff and harsh, was heard
AN UNEXPECTED POPULATION. 137
â€œMy money! my money! when will you pay me my
money? Pay me what you owe me, you miserable majos.â€
Meanwhile the song continued :
6Â¢Tu sandunga y cigarro,
Y una cana de Jerez,
Mi jamelgo y un trabuco,
Que mas gloria puede haver?
$6 Para Alcarrazas, chichana,
Para trigo, Trebujena,
Y para ninas bonitas,
San Lucar de Barrameda.â€
Servadacâ€™s knowledge of Gascon enabled him partially
to comprehend the rollicking tenor of the Spanish patriotic
air, but his attention was again arrested by the voice of
the old man growling eayaeely
â€œPay me you shall; yes, by the God of Abraham, you
shall pay me.â€™
â€œA Jew!â€ exclaimed Servadac.
â€œAy, sir, and worst of all,a German Jew,â€ said Ben
The party was now just on the point of entering the
thicket, when a singular spectacle made them pause. A
group of Spaniards had just begun dancing their national
fandango, and the extraordinary lightness which had
become the physical property of every object in the new
planet made the dancers bound to a height of thirty feet
or more into the air, considerably above the tops of the
trees. What followed was irresistibly comic. Four sturdy
majos had dragged along with them an old man incapable
of resistance, and compelled him, zolens volens, to join in
the dance; and as they all kept appearing and disappearing
above the bank of foliage, their grotesque attitudes, com-
bined with the pitiable countenance of their helpless
victim, could not do otherwise than recall most forcibly the
story of Sancho Panza tossed in a blanket by the merry
drapers of Segovia.
Servadac, the count, Procope, and Ben Zoof now pro-
ceeded to make their way through the thicket until they
138 HECTOR SERVADAC.
came to a little glade, where they came upon two men
stretched idly on the grass, one of them playing the guitar,
and thÃ© other a pair of castanets; both were exploding
with laughter, as they urged the performers to greater and
yet greater exertions in the dance. At the sight of
strangers they paused in their music, and simultaneously
the dancers, with their victim, alighted gently on the
sward. Breathless and half exhaustedâ€˜as was the Jew, he
rushed with an effort towards Servadac, and exclaimed in
French, marked by a strong Teutonic accent: ,
â€œOh, my lord governour, help me, help! These rascals
defraud me of my rights; they rob me; but, in the name
of the God of Israel, I ask you to see justice done!â€
The captain glanced inquiringly towards Ben Zoof,
and the orderly, by a significant nod, made his master
understand that he was to play the part that was implied
by the title. He took the cue, and promptly ordered the
Jew to hold his tongue at once. The man bowed his head
in servile submission, and folded his hands upon his breast.
Servadac surveyed him leisurely.
He was a man of about fifty, but from his appearance
might well have been taken for at least ten years older.
Small and skinny, with eyes bright and cunning, a hooked
nose, a short yellow beard, unkempt hair, huge feet, and
long bony hands, he presented all the typical characteris-
tics of the German Jew, the heartless, wily usurer, the
hardened miser and skinflint. As iron is attracted by the
magnet, so was this Shylock attracted by the sight of gold,
ner would he have hesitated to draw the life-blood of his
creditors, if by such means he could secure his claims.
Although by descent and birth a Jew, he was ready to
profess himself a. Mahometan or a heathen whenever
circumstances arose which he thought might be turned to
his own advantage.
His name was Isaac Hakkabut, and he was a native of
the Prussian (now German) city of Cologne. Nearly the
whole of his time, however, he informed Captain Servadac,
had be-n spent upon the sea, his real business being that
â€˜* These Rascals defraud me of my Rights,â€
AN UNEXPECTED POPULATION. 139
of a merchant trading at all the ports of the Mediterranean.
A tartan, a small vessel of two hundred tons burden, con-
veyed his entire stock of merchandise, and, to say the truth,
was a sort of flcating emporium, conveying nearly every
possible article of commerce, from a lucifer match to the
radiant fabrics of Frankfort and Epinal. Without wife or
children, and having no settled home, Isaac Hakkabut
lived almost entirely on board the Hansa, as he had
named his tartan; and engaging a mate, with a crew of
three men, as being adequate to work so light a craft, he
cruised along the coasts of Algeria, Tunis, Egypt, Turkey,
and Greece, visiting, moreover, most of the harbours of the
Levant. Careful to be always well supplied with the
products in most general demandâ€”coffee, sugar, rice,
tobacco, cotton-stuffs, and gunpowderâ€”and being at all
times ready to barter, and prepared to deal in second-hand
wares, he had contrived to-amass considerable wealth.
On the eventful night of the 1st of January the Hansa
had been at Ceuta, the point on the coast of Morocco
exactly opposite Gibraltar. The mate and three sailors
had all gone on shore, and, in common with many of their
fellow-creatures, had entirely disappeared ; but the most
projecting rock of Ceuta had been undisturbed by the
general catastrophe, and half a score of Spaniards, who
had happened to be upon it, had escaped with their lives.
They were all Andalusian majos, agricultural labourers, and
naturally as careless and apathetic as men of their class
usually are, but they could not help being very considerably
embarrassed when they discovered that they were left in
solitude upon a detached and isolated rock. They took
what mutual counsel they could, but became only more
and more perplexed. One of them was named Negrete,
and he, as having travelled somewhat more than the rest,
was tacitly recognized as a sort of leader ; but although he
was by far the most enlightened of them all, he was quite
incapable of forming the least conception of the nature of
what had occurred. The one thing upon which they could
not fail to be conscious was that they had no prospect of
140 HECTOR SERVADAC.
obtaining provisions, and consequently their first business
was to devise a scheme for getting away from their present
abode. The Hansa was lying off shore. The Spaniards
would not have had the slightest hesitation in summarily
taking possession of her, but their utter ignorance of sea-
manship made them reluctantly come to the conclusion that
the more prudent policy was to make terms with the owner.
And now came a singular part of the story. Negrete
and his companions had meanwhile received a visit from
two English officers from Gibraltar. What passed between
them the Jew did not know; he only knew that, im-
mediately after the conclusion of the interview, Negrete
came to him and ordered him to set sail at once for the
nearest point of Morocco. The Jew, afraid to disobey, but
with his eye ever upon the main chance, stipulated that at
the end of their voyage the Spaniards should pay for their
passageâ€”terms to which, as they would to any other, they
did not demur, knowing that they had not the slightest
intention of giving him a single real.
The Hansa had weighed anchor on the 3rd of Feb-
ruary. The wind blew from the west, and consequently
the working of the tartan was easy enough. The un-
practised sailors had only to hoist their sails and, though
they were quite unconscious of the fact, the breeze carried
them to the only spot upon the little world they occupied
which could afford them a refuge.
Thus it fell out that one morning Ben Zoof, from his
look-out on Gourbi Island, saw a ship, not the Dodryna,
appear upon the horizon, and make quietly down towards
what had formerly been the right bank of the Sheliff.
Such was Ben Zoofâ€™s version of what had occurred, as
he had gathered it from the new-comers. He wound up
his recital by remarking that the cargo of the Hansa
would be of immense service to them; he expected, indeed,
that Isaac Hakkabut would be difficult to manage, but
considered there could be no harm in appropriating the
goods for the common welfare, since there could be no
opportunity now for selling them.
AN UNEXPECTED POPULATION. I4f
Ben Zoof added:
â€œAnd as to the difficulties between the Jew and his
passengers, I told him that the governour-general was
absent on a tour of inspection, and that as soon as he
same back he would see everything equitably settled.â€
Smiling at his orderlyâ€™s tactics, Servadac turned to
Hak ckabut, and told him that he would take care that his
claims should be duly investigated and all proper demands
should be paid.
The man appeared satisfied, and, for the time at least,
desisted from his complaints and importunities.
. When the Jew had retired, Count Timascheff asked :
â€œBut how in the world can you ever make those fellows
â€œThey have lots of money,â€ said Ben Zoof.
â€œNot likely,â€ replied the count; â€œwhen did you ever
know Spaniards like them to have lots of money?â€
â€œBut I have seen it myself,â€ said Ben Zoof; â€œand it
is English money.â€
â€œEnglish money!â€ echoed Servadac; and his mind
again reverted (as it had done upon the first mention of a
visit from English officers to the Spaniards) to the ex-
cursion made by the colonel and the major from Gibraltar,
and about which they had been so reticent.
â€œWe must inquire more about this,â€ he said.
Then, addressing Count Timascheff, he added :
â€œ Altogether, I think, count, the countries of Europe are
fairly represented by the population of Gallia.â€
â€œTrue, captain,â€ answered the count; â€œwe have only
a fragment of a world, but it contains natives of France,
Russia, Italy, Spain, and England. Even Germany may
be said to have a representative in the person of this
â€œAnd even in him,â€ said Servadac, â€œperhaps we shall
not: find so indifferent a representative as we at present
342 HECTOR SERVADAC.
THE Spaniards who had arrived on board the Hansa con-
sisted of nine men and a lad of twelve years of age, named
Pablo. They all received Captain Servadac, whom Ben
Zoof introduced as the governour-general, with due respect,
and partook themselves quickly to their separate tasks.
The captain and his friends, followed at some distance by
the eager Jew, soon left the glade and directed their steps
towards the coast where the Yazsa was moored.
As they went they discussed their situation. As far as
they had aszercained, except. Gourbi Island, the sole sur-
viving frazments of the Old World were four small islands:
the bit of Gibraltar occupied by the Englishmen ; Ceuta,
which had just been left by the Spaniards ; Madalena,
where they had picked up the little Italian girl; and-the
site of the tomb of Saint Louis on the coast of Tunis.
Around these there was stretched out the full extent of
the Gallian Sea, which apparently comprised about one-
half of the Mediterranean, the whole being encompassed
by a barrier like a framework of precipitous cliffs, of an
origin and a substance alike unknown.
Of all these spots only two were known to be inhabited:
Gibraltar, where the thirteen Englishm2n were amply pro~
visioned for som2 years to come, and their own Gourbdi
isiand. Here there was a p),.alation of twenty-two, who
would all have to subsist upon the natural products of the
GALLIAâ€™S GOVERNOUR-GENERAL. 143
soil. It was indeed not to be forgotten that, perchance,
upon some remote and undiscovered isle there might be
the solitary writer of the mysterious papers which they
had found, and if so, that would raise the census of their
new asteroid to an aggregate of thirty-six.
Even upon the supposition that at some future date
the whole population should be compelled to unite and
find a residencÃ© upon Gourbi Island, there did not appear
any reason to question but that eight hundred acres of rich
soil, under good management, would yield them all an ample
sustenance. The only critical matter was how long the
cold season would last; every hope depended upon the
land again becoming productive; at present, it seemed
impossible to determine, even if Galliaâ€™s orbit were really
elliptic, when she would reach her aphelion, and it was
consequently necessary that the Gallians for the time
being should reckon on nothing beyond their actual and
These resources were, first, the provisions of the Do-
bryna, consisting of preserved meat, sugar, wine, brandy,
and other stores sufficient for about two months; secondly,
the valuable cargo of the Haxsa, which, sooner or later,
the owner, whether he would or not, must be compelled to
surrender for the common benefit ; and lastly, the produce
of the island, animal and vegetable, which with proper
economy might be made to last for a considerable period.
In the course of the conversation, Count Timascheff
took an opportunity of saying that, as Captain Servadac
had already been presented to the Spaniards as governour
of the island, he thought it advisable that he should really
assume that position.
â€œEvery body of men,â€ he observed, â€œ must have a head,
and you, as a Frenchman, should, I think, take the com-
mand of this fragment of a French colony. My men, I
can answer for it, are quite prepared to recognize you as
their superior officer.â€
â€œMost unhesitatingly,â€ replied Servadac, â€œI accept the
post with all its responsibilities. We understand each
144 HECTOR SERVADAC.
other so well that I feel sure we shall try and work together
for the common good; and even if it be our fate never
again to behold our fellow-creatures, I have no misgivings
but that we shall be able to cope with whatever difficulties
may be before us.â€
As he spoke, he held out his hand. The count took it,
at the same time making a slight bow. It was the first
time since their meeting that the two men had shaken
hands; on the other hand, not a single word about their
former rivalry had ever escaped their lips; perhaps that
was all forgotten now.
The silence of a few moments was broken by Servadac
â€œDo you not think we ought to explain our situation
to the Spaniards?â€ â€œa
â€œNo, no, your Excellency,â€ burst in Ben Zoof, empha-
tically; â€œthe fellows are chicken-hearted enough already ;
only tell them what has happened, and in sheer despond-
ency they will not do another stroke of work.â€
â€œBesides,â€ said Lieutenant Procope, who took very
much the same view as the orderly, â€œthey are so miserably
ignorant they would be sure to misunderstand you.â€
â€œUnderstand or misunderstand,â€ replied Servadac, â€œI
do not think it matters. They would not care. They are
all fatalists. Only give them a guitar and their castanets,
and they will soon forget all care and anxiety. For my
own part, I must adhere to my belief that it will be ad-
visable to tell them everything. Have you any opinion
to offer, count ?â€
â€œMy own opinion, captain, coincides entirely with
yours. I have followed the plan of explaining all I could
to my men on board the Dodryna, and no inconvenience
â€œWell, then, so let it be,â€ said the captain; adding,
â€œTt is not likely that these Spaniards are so ignorant as
not to have noticed the change in the length of the days;
neither can they be unaware of the physical changes that
have transpired. They shall certainly be told that we
_GALLIAâ€™S GOVERNOUR-GENERAL. 145
are being carried away into unknown regions of space, and
that this â€œisland i is nearly all that remains â€˜of the Old World.â€
â€œHa, ha!â€ laughed Ben Zoof, aloud; â€œit will be fine
sport to watch the â€˜old Jewâ€™s face, when he i is made to com-
prehend that he is flying away millions and millions of
leagues from all his debtors.â€
Isaac Hakkabut was about fifty yards behind, and was
consequently unable to overhear the conversation. He
went shambling along, half whimpering and not unfre-
quently invoking the God of Israel; but every now and
then a cunning light gleamed from his eyes, and his lips
became compressed with a grim significance.
' None of the recent phenomena had escaped his notice,
and more than once he had attempted to entice Ben Zoof
into conversation upon thÃ© subject ; but the orderly made
no secret of his antipathy to him, and generally replied to
his advances either by satire or by banter. He told him
that he had everything to gain under the new system of
nights and days, for, instead of living the Jewâ€™s ordinary
life of a century, he would reach to the age of two cen-
turies ; and he congratulated him upon the circumstance
of things having become so light, because it would prevent
him feeling the burden of his years. At another time he
would declare that, to an old usurer like him, it could not
matter in the least what had become of the moon, as he
could not possibly have advanced any money upon her.
And when Isaac, undaunted by his jeers, persevered in
besetting him with questions, he tried to silence him by
â€œOnly wait till the governour-general comes; he is a
shrewd fellow, and will tell you all about it.â€
â€œBut will he protect my property ?â€ poor Isaac would
â€œTo be sure he will! He would confiscate it all rather
than that you should be robbed of it.â€ _
With this Jobâ€™s comfort the Jew had been obliged to
c.ntent himself as best he could, and to await the promised
arrival of the governour,. I
146 HECTOR SERVADAC,
When Servadac and his companions reached the shore,
they found that the Hansa had anchored in an exposed
bay, protected but barely by a few projecting rocks, and in
such a position that a gale rising from the west would in-
evitably drive her on to the land, where she must be dashed
in pieces. It would be the height of folly to leave her in
her present moorings ; without loss of time she must be
brought round to the mouth of the Shelif, in immediate
proximity to the Russian yacht.
The consciousness that his tartan was the subject of
discussion made the Jew give way to such vehement
ejaculations of anxiety, that Servadac turned round and
peremptorily ordered him to desist from his clamour.
Leaving the old man under the surveillance of the count
and Ben Zoof, the captain and the lieutenant stepped
into a small boat and were soon alongside the floating
A very short inspection suâ€˜ficed to make them aware
that both the tartan and her cargo were in a perfect state
of preservation. In the hold were sugar-loaves by hundreds,
chests of tea, bags of coffee, hogsheads of tobacco, pipes
of wine, casks of brandy, barrels of dried herrings, bales
of cotton, clothing of every kind, shoes of all sizes,
caps of various shape, tools, household utensils, china and
earthenware, reams of paper, bottles of ink, boxes of
lucifer matches, blocks of salt, bags of pepper and spices,
a stock of huge Dutch cheeses, and a collection of almanacks
and miscellaneous literature. Ata rough guess the value
could not be much under Â£5000 sterling. A new cargo
had been taken in only a few days before the catastrophe,
and it had been Isaac Ilakkabutâ€™s intention to cruise from
Ceuta to Tripoli, calling wherever he had reason to believe
there was likely to be a market for any of his commo-
â€œA fine haul, lieutenant,â€ said the captain.
â€œYes, indeed,â€ said the lieutenant ; â€œbut what if the
owner refuses to part with it?â€
â€œNo fear; no fear,â€ replied the captain. â€œAs soon as
The Captain and the Lieutenant were soon alongside the Floating
GALLIAâ€™S GOVERNOUR-GENERAL. 147
ever the old rascal finds that there are no more Arabs or
Algerians for him to fleece, he will be ready enough to
transact a little business with us. We will pay him by bills
of acceptance on some of his old friends in the Old World.â€
â€œ But why should he want any payment?â€ inquired the
lieutenant. â€œ Under the circumstances, he must know that
you have a right to make a requisition of his goods.â€
â€œNo, no,â€ quickly rejoined Servadac ; â€œwe will not do
that. Just because the fellow is a German we shall not be
justified in treating him in German fashion. We will
transact our business in a business way. Only let him
once realize that he is on a new globe, with no prospect of
getting back to the old one, and he will be ready enough
to come to terms with us.â€
â€œPerhaps you are right,â€ replied the lieutenant; â€œI
hope you are. But anyhow, it will not do to leave the
tartan here ; not only would she be in danger in the event
of a storm, but it. is very questionable whether she could
resist the pressure of the ice, if the water were to freeze.â€
â€œQuite true, Procope; and accordingly I give you the
commission to see that your crew bring her round to
the Shelif as soon as may be.â€
â€œTo-morrow morning it shall be done,â€ answered the
Upon returning to the shore, it was arrangÃ©d that
the whole of the little colony should forthwith assemble
at the gourbi. The Spaniards were summoned, and Isaac,
although he could only with reluctance take his wistful
gaze from his tartan, obeyed the governourâ€™s orders to
An hour later and the entire population of twenty-two
had met in the chamber adjoining the gourbi. Young
Pablo made his first acquaintance with little Nina, and the
child seemed highly delighted to find a companion so
nearly of her own age.
Leaving the children to entertain each other, Captain
Servadac began his address.
Before entering upon further explanation, he said that
148 HECTOR SERVADAC.
he counted upon the cordial co-operation of them all for
the common welfare.
Negrete interrupted him by declaring that no promises
or pledges could be given until he and his countrymen
knew how soon they could be sent back to Spain.
â€œTo Spain, do you say ?â€ asked Servadac.
â€œTo Spain!â€ echoed Isaac Hakkabut, with a hideous
yell. â€œDo they expect to go back to Spain till they have
paid their debts? Your Excellency, they owe me twenty
reals apiece for their passage here; they owe me two
hundred reals. Are they to be allowed ... ?â€
â€œSilence, Mordecai, you fool!â€ shouted Ben Zoof, who
was accustomed to call the Jew by any Hebrew name that
came uppermost to his memory. â€œ Silence!â€
Servadac was disposed to appease the old manâ€™s
anxiety by promising to see that justice was ultimately
done; but, in a fever of frantic excitement, he went on
to implore that he might have the loan of a few sailors
to carry his ship to Algiers.
â€œT will pay you honestly; I will pay you wel/,â€ he
cried; but his ingrained Propensity: for making a good
bargain prompted â€˜him to add, â€œ provided you do not over-
Ben Zoof was about again to interpose some angry
exclamation ; but Servadac checked him, and continued in
â€œListen to me, my friends. Something very strange
has happened. A most wonderful event has cut us off
from Spain, from France, from Italy, from every country
of Europe. In fact, we have left the Old World entirely.
Of the whole earth, nothing remains except this island on
which you are now taking refuge. The old globe is far, far
away. Our present abode is but an insignificant fragment
that is left. I dare not tell you that there is any chance
of your ever again seeing your country or your homes.â€
The Spaniards evidently had no conception of his
** Listen to me, my Friends.â€
GALLIAâ€™S GOVERNOUR-GENERAL. 149
Negrete begged him to tell them all again.
He repeated all that he had said, and by introducing
some illustrations from familiar things, he succeeded to a
certain extent in conveying some faint idea of the convul-
sion that had happened.
The event was precisely what he had foretold. The
communication was received by all alike with the most
Hakkabut did not saya word. He had listened with
manifest attention, his lips twitching now and then as if
suppressing a smile.
Servadac turned to him, and asked whether he was still
disposed to put out to sea and make for Algiers.
The Jew gave a broad grin, which, however, he was
careful to conceal from the Spaniards.
â€œYour Excellency jests,â€ he said in French; and turning
to Count Timascheff, he added in Russian: â€œThe governour
has made up a wonderful tale.â€
The count turned his back in disgust, while the Jew
sidled up to little Nina and muttered in Italian :
â€œA lot of lies, pretty one; a lot of lies!â€
â€œConfound the knave!â€ exclaimed Ben Zoof; â€œhe
gabbles every tongue under the sun!â€
â€œ Yes,â€ said Servadac ; â€œ but whether he speaks French,
Russian, Spanish, German, or Italian, he is neither more
nor less than a Jew.â€
150 HECTOR SERVADAC.
A LIGHT ON THE HORIZON.
ON the following day, without giving himself any further
concern about the Jewâ€™s incredulity, the captain gave
orders for the Hansa to be shifted round to the harbour of
the Sheliff. Hakkabut raised no objection, not only be-
cause he was aware that the move insured the immediate
safety of his tartan, but because he was secretly entertain-
ing the hope that he might entice away two or three of
the Dodrynaâ€™s crew and make his escape to Algiers or
some other port.
Operations now commenced for preparing proper winter-
quarters. Spaniards and Russians alike joined heartily in
the work, the diminution of atmospheric pressure and of
the force of attraction contributing such an increase to
their muscular force as materially facilitated all their
The first business was to accommodate the building
adjacent to the gourbi to the wants of the little colony.
Here for the present the Spaniards were lodged, the
Russians retaining their berths upon the yacht, while the
Jew was permitted to pass his nights upon the Hansa.
This arrangement, however, could be only temporary.
The time could not be far distant when shipsâ€™ sides and
ordinary walls would fail to give an adequate protection
from the severity of the cold that must be expected; the
stock of fuel was too limited to keep up a permanent
* With Ben Zoof as Overseer, both Spanish Majos and Russian Sailors set
to work with a will.
A LIGHT ON THE HORIZON. I5!I
supply of heat in their present quarters, and consequently
they must be driven to seek some other refuge, the internal
temperature of which would at least be bearable.
The plan that seemed to commend itself most to their
consideration was, that they should dig out for themselves
some subterraneous pits similar to â€œsilos,â€ such as are
used as receptacles for grain. They-presumed that when
the surface of Gallia should be covered by a thick layer of
ice, which is a bad conductor of heat, a sufficient amount
of warmth for animal vitality might still be retained in
excavations of this kind. After a long consultation they
failed to devise any better expedient, and were forced to
resign themselves to this species of troglodyte existence.
In one respect they congratulated themselves that they
should be better off than many of the whalers in the polar
seas, for as it is impossible to get below the surface of a
frozen ocean, these adventurers have to seek refuge in huts
of wood and snow erected on their ships, which at best can
give but slight protection from extreme cold; but here,
with a solid subsoil, the Gallians might hope to dig down
a hundred feet or so and secure for themselves a shelter
that would enable them to brave the hardest severity of
The order, then, was at once given. The work was
commenced. A stock of shovels, mattocks, and pick-axes
was brought from the gourbi, and with Ben Zoof as over-
seer, both Spanish majos and Russian sailors set to work
with a will,
It was not long, however, before a discovery, more
unexpected than agreeable, suddenly arrested their labours.
The spot chosen for the excavation was a little to the
right of the gourbi, on a slight elevation of the soil. For
the first day everything went on prosperously enough; but
at a depth of eight feet below the surface, the navvies
came in contact with a hard surface, upon which all their
tools failed to make the slightest impression. Servadac
and the count were at once apprised of the fact, and had
little difficulty in recognizing the substance that had
152 HECTOR SERVADACG.
revealed itself as the very same which composed the
shores as well as the subsoil of the Gallian sea. It
evidently formed the universal substructure of the new
asteroid. Means for hollowing it failed them utterly.
Harder and more resisting than granite, it could not be
blasted by ordinary powder ; dynamite alone could suffice
to rend it. .
The disappointment was very great. Unless some
means of protection were speedily devised, death seemed
to be staring them in the face. Were the figures in the
mysterious documents correct? and had Gallia, according
to physical law, been travelling at a rate that was pro-
gressively increasing? If so, she must now be a hundred
millions of leagues from the sun, nearly three times the
distance of the earth at the remotest section of her orbit.
The intensity of the solar light and heat, too, was very
seriously diminishing, although Gourbi Island (being
on the equator of an orb which had its axes always per-
pendicular to the plane in which it revolved) enjoyed a
position that gave it a permanent summer. But no
advantage of this kind could compensate for the remote-
ness of the sun. The temperature fell steadily; already,
to the discomfiture of the little Italian girl, nurtured in
sunshine, ice was beginning to form in the crevices of the
rocks, and manifestly the time was impending when the
sea itself would freeze.
Some shelter must be found before the temperature
should fall to 60Â° below zero. Otherwise death was in-
evitable.. Hitherto, for the last few days, the thermometer
had been registering an average of about 6Â° below zero,
and it had become matter of experience that the stove,
although replenished with all the wood that was available,
was altogether inadequate to effect any sensible mitigation
of the severity of the cold. Nor could any amount of
fuel be enough. It was certain that ere long the very
mercury and spirit in the thermometers would be con-
gealed. Some other resort must assuredly be soon found,
or they must perish. That was clear,
The Captain anc the Count scoured the Island,
A LIGHT ON THE HORIZON. 153
The idea of betaking themselves to the Dodryna and
Hansa could not for a moment be seriously entertained ;
not only did the structure of the vessels make them utterly
insufficient to give substantial shelter, but they were totally
unfitted to be trusted as to their stability when exposed to
the enormous pressure of the accumulated ice.
Neither Servadac, nor the count, nor Lieutenant Procope
were men to be easily disheartened, but it could not be
concealed that they felt themselves in circumstances by
which they were equally harassed and perplexed. The
sole expedient that their united counsel could suggest was
to obtain a refuge below ground, and zhat was denied them
by the strange and impenetrable substratum of the soil ;
yet hour by hour the sunâ€™s disc was lessening in its
dimensions, and although at midday some faint radiance
and glow were to be distinguished, during the night the
painfulness of the cold was becoming almost intolerable.
Mounted upon Zephyr and Galette, the captain and
the count scoured the island in search of some available
retreat. Scarcely a yard of ground was left unexplored,
the horses clearing every obstacle as if they were, like
Pegasus, furnished with wings. But all in vain. Sound-
ings were made again.and again, but invariably with the
same result; the rock, hard as adamant, never failed to
reveal itself within a few feet of the surface of the ground.
The excavation of any silo being thus manifestly hope-
less, there seemed nothing to be done except to try and
render the building alongside the gourbi impervious to
frost. To contribute to the supply of fuel, orders were
given to collect every scrap of wood, dry or green, that the
island produced ; and this involved the necessity of felling
the numerous trees that were scattered over the plain.
But toil as they might at the accumulation of firewood,
Captain Servadac and his companions could not resist the
conviction that the consumption of a very short period
pier exhaust the total stock. And what would happen
Studious if possible to conceal his real misgivings, and
154 HECTOR SERVADAC,
anxious that the rest of the party should be affected as
little as might be by his own uneasiness, Servadac would
wander alone about the island, racking his brain for an
idea that would point the way out of the serious difficulty.
But still all in vain.
One day he suddenly came upon Ben Zoof, and asked
him whether he had no plan to propose. The orderly
shook his head, but after a few momentsâ€™ pondering, said:
â€œAh! master, if only we were at Montmartre, we
would get shelter in the charming stone-quarries.â€
â€œIdiot!â€ replied the captain, angrily, â€œif we were at
Montmartre, you donâ€™t suppose that we should need tc
live in stone-quarries ?â€
But the means of preservation which human ingenuity
had failed to secure were at hand from the felicitous pro-
vision of Nature herself.
' It was on the roth of March that the captain and
Lieutenant Procope started off once more to investigate
the north-west corner of the island; on their way their
conversation naturally was engrossed by the subject of the
dire necessities which only too manifestly were awaiting
them. A discussion more than usually animated arose
between them, for the two men were not altogether of thÃ©
same mind as to the measures that ought to be adopted
in order to open the fairest chance of avoiding a fatal
climax to their exposure; the captain persisted that an
: \ ; ;
entirely new abode must be sought, while the lieutenant
was equally bent upon devising a method of some sort by
which their present quarters might be rendered sufficiently
warm. All at once, in the very heat of his argument,
Procope paused ; he passed his hand across his eyes, as if
to dispel a mist, and stood, with a fixed gaze centred on a
point towards the south.
â€œWhat is that?â€ he said, with a kind of hesitation.
â€œNo, Iam not mistaken,â€ he added; â€œit is a light on the
â€œA light!â€ exclaimed Servadac ; â€œshow me where.â€
â€œLook there!â€ answered the lieutenant, and he kept
A LIGHT ON THE HORIZON. 155
pointing steadily in its direction, until Servadac also dis-
tinctly saw the bright speck in the distance.
It increased in clearness in the gathering shades of
â€œCan it be a ship?â€ paced the captain.
â€œIf so, it must be in flames; otherwise we should not
be able to see it so far off,â€™ replied Procope.
â€œTt does not move,â€ said Servadac; â€œand unless I am
deceived, I can hear a kind of reverberation in the air.â€
For some seconds the two men stood straining eyes
and ears in rapt attention.
Suddenly an idea struck Servadacâ€™s mind.
â€œThe volcano!â€ he cried ; â€œmay it not be the volcano
that we saw, whilst we were on board the Dodryna?â€
The lieutenant agreed that it was very probable.
â€œHeaven be praised!â€ ejaculated the captain, and he
went on in the tones of a keen excitement: â€œ Nature has
provided us with our winter-quarters ; the stream of burn-
ing lava that is flowing there is the gift of a bounteous
Providence ; it will provide us all the warmth we need.
No time to lose! To-morrow, my dear Procope, to-morrow
we will explore it all; no doubt the life, the heat we want
is reserved for us in the heart and bowels of our own
Whilst the captain was indulging in his gi of
enthusiasm, Procope was endeavouring to collect his
thoughts. Distinctly he remembered the long prornontory
which had barred the Dodrynaâ€™s progress while coasting
the southern confines of the sea, and which had obliged.
her to ascend northwards as far as the former latitude of
Oran; he remembered also that at the extremity of the
promontory there was a rocky headland crowned with
smoke; and now he was convinced that he was right in
identifying the position, and in believing that the smoke
had given place to an eruption of flame.
When Servadac gave him a chance of speaking, he
â€œThe more I consider it, captain, the more I am
156 HECTOR SERVADAC,
satisfied that your conjecture is correct. Beyond a doubt,
what we see is the volcano, and to-morrow we will not fail
to visit it.â€
On returning to the gourbi, they communicated their
discovery to Count Timascheff only, deeming any further
publication of it to be premature. The count at once
placed his yacht at their disposal, and expressed his in-
tention of accompanying them.
â€œThe yacht, I think,â€ said Procope, â€œhad better remain
where she is; the weather is beautifully calm, and the
steam-launch will answer our purpose better ; at any rate,
it will convey us much closer to shore than the schooner.â€
The count replied that the lieutenant was by all means
to use his own discretion, and they all retired for the night.
Like many other modern pleasure-yachts, the Dobryua,
in addition to her four-oar, was fitted with a fast-going
little steam-launch, its screw being propelled, on the
Oriolle system, by means of a boiler, small but very
eff.ctive. Early next morning, this handy little craft was
sufficiently freighted with coal (of which there was still
about ten tons on board the Dodryna), and manned by
nobody except the captain, the count, and the lieutenant,
left the harbour of the Sheliff, much to the bewilderment of
Ben Zoof, who had not yet been admitted into the secret.
The orderly, however, consoled himself with the reflecuuan
that he had been temporarily invested with the full powers
of governour-general, an office of which he was not a little
The eighteen miles between the island and the head-
land were made in something: less than three hours. The
volcanic eruption was manifestly very considerable, the
entire summit of the promontory being enveloped in
flames. To produce so large a combustion either the
oxygen of Galliaâ€™s atmosphere had been brought into
contact with the explosive gases contained beneath her
soil, or perhaps, still more probably, the volcano, like those
in the moon, was fed by an internal supply of oxygen of
It Look more than half an hour to settle on a suitable Landing-place.
A LIGHT ON THE HORIZON. 157
It took more than half an hour to settle on a suitable
landing-place. At length, a small semi-circular creek was
discovered among the rocks, which appeared advantageous,
because, if circumstances should so require, it would form a
sife anchorage for both she Dodryna and the Hansa.
The launch sccurely moored, the passengers landed on
the side of the promontory opposite to that on which a
torrent of burning lava was descending to the sea. With
much satisfaction they experienced, as they approached
the mountain, a sensible difference in the temperature, and
their spirits could not do otherwise than rise at the pros-
pect of having their hopes confirmed, that a deliverance
fron the threatened calamity had so opportunely been
found. On thev went, up the steep acclivity, scrambling
over its rugged projecvions, scaling the irregularities of its
gigantic strata, hownding from point to point with the agility
of chamois, but Â«ever alighting on anything except on the
accumulation of the same hexagonal prisms with which
they had now become so familiar.
Their exertions were happily rewarded. Behind a
huge pyramidal rock they found a hole in the mountain-
side, like the mouth of a great tunnel. Climbing up to
this orifice, which was more than sixty feet above the level
of the sea, they ascertained that it opened into a long dark
gallery. They entered and groped their way cautiously
along the sides. A continuous rumbling, that increased
as they advanced, made them aware that they must be
approaching the central funnel of the volcano ; their only
fear was lest some insuperable wall of rock should suddenly
bar their further progress.
Servadac was some distance ahead.
â€œCome on!â€ he cried cheerily, his voice ringing
through the darkness, â€œcome on! Our fire is lighted! no
stint of fuel! Nature provides that! Let us make haste
and warm ourselves !â€
Inspired by his confidence, the count and the lieutenant
vanced bravely along the unseen and winding path.
The temperature was now at least fifteen degrees above
158 HECTOR SERVADAC.
zero, and the walls of the gallery were beginning to feel
yulte warm to the touch, an indication, not to be over-
looked, that the substance of which the rock was composed
wa: metallic in its nature, and capable of conducting heat.
â€œFollow me!â€ shouted Servadac again; â€œwe shall
soon find Â« regular stove!â€
Onwards they made their way, until at last a sharp
turn brought them inio a sudden flood of light. The
tunnel had opened â€˜nto a vast cavern, and the gloom was
exchanged for an illumination that was perfectly dazzling.
Although the temperature was high, it was not in any way
One glance was sufficient to satisfy the explorers that
the grateful light and heat of this huge excavation were
to be attributed to a torrent of lava that was rolling down-
wards to the sea, completely subtending the aperture of
the cave. Not inaptly might the scene be compared to
the celebrated GrÃ©tto of the Winds at the rear of the
central fall of Niagara, only with the exception that here,
instead of a curtain of rushing water, it was a curtain of
roaring flame that hung before the cavernâ€™s mouth.
â€œHeaven be praised!â€ cried Servadac, with glad
emotion; â€œhere is all that- we hoped for, and more be-
( 159 )
THE habitation that had now revealed itself, well lighted
and thoroughly warm, was indeed marvellous. Not only
would it afford ample accommodation for Hector Servadac
and â€œhis subjects,â€ as Ben Zoof delighted to call them,
but it would provide shelter for the two horses, and fora
considerable number of domestic animals.
This enormous cavern was neither more nor less than:
the common junction of nearly twenty tunnels (similar to
that which had been traversed by the explorers), forming
ramifications in the solid rock, and the pores, as it were, by
which the internal heat exuded from the heart of the
mountain. Here, as long as the volcano retained its
activity, every living creature on the new asteroid might
brave the most rigorous of climates; and as Count
Timascheff justly remarked, since it was the only burning
mountain they had sighted, it was most probably the sole
outlet for Galliaâ€™s subterranean fires, and consequently the
eruption would continue unchanged for ages to come.
But not a day, not an hour, was to be lost now. The
steam-launch returned to Gourbi Island, and preparations
were forthwith taken in hand for conveying man and beast,
corn and fodder, across to the volcanic headland. Loud
and hearty were the acclamations of the little colony,
especially of the Spaniards, and. great was the relief ot
Nina, when Servadac announced to them the discovery of
their future domicile ; and with requickened energies they
100 HECTOR SERVADAC.
laboured hard at the packing, anxious to reach their genial
winter-quarters without delay.
For three successive days the Dobryna, laden to her
very gunwale, made a transit to and fro. Ben Zoof was
left upon the island to superintend the stowage of the
freight, whilst Servadac found abundant occupation in
overlooking its disposal within the recesses of the moun-
tain. First of all, the large store of corn and fodder, the
produce of the recent harvest, was landed and deposited in
one of the vaults; then, on the 15th, about fifty head of
live cattleâ€”bullocks, cows, sheep, and pigsâ€”were conveyed
to their rocky stalls. These were saved for the sake of
preserving the several breeds, the bulk of the island cattle
being slaughtered, as the extreme severity of the climate
insured all meat remaining fresh for almost an indefinite
period. The winter which they were expecting would
probably be of unprecedented length; it was quite likely
that it would exceed the six monthsâ€™ duration by which
many arctic explorers have been tried; but the population
of Gallia had no anxiety in the matter of provisionsâ€”their
stock was far more than adequate; while as for drink, as
long as they were satisfied with pure water, a frozen sea
would afford them an inexhaustible reservoir.
The need for haste in forwarding their preparations
became more and more manifest ; the sea threatened to be
unnavigable very soon, as ice was already forming which
the noonday sun was unable to melt. And if haste were
necessary, so also were care, ingenuity, and forethought.
It was indispensable that the space at their command
should be properly utilized, and yet that the several
portions of the store should all be readily accessible.
On further investigation an unexpected number of
galleries was discovered, so that, in fact, the interior of the
mountain was like a vast bee-hive perforated with in-
numerable cells; and in compliment to the little Italian it
was unanimously voted by the colony that their new home
should be called â€œ Ninaâ€™s Hive.â€
The first care of Captain Servadac was to ascertain how
A Sharp Turn brought them into a Sudden Flood of Light.
he could make the best possible use of the heat which
Nature had provided for them so opportunely and with so
lavish a hand. By opening fresh vents in the solid rock
(which by the action of the heat was here capable of
fissure) the stream of burning lava was diverted into
several new channels, where it could be available for daily
use; and thus Mochel, the Dodrynaâ€™s cook, was furnished
with an admirable kitchen, provided with a permanent
stove, where he was duly installed with all his culinary
â€œWhat a saving of expense it would be,â€ exclaimed
Ben Zoof, â€œif every household could be furnished with its
own private volcano!â€
The large cavern at the general junction of the
galleries was fitted up as a drawing-room, and arranged
with all the best furniture both of the gourbi and of the
cabin of the Dodryna. Hither was also brought the
schoonerâ€™s library, containing a good variety of French
and Russian books; lamps were suspended over the
different tables; and the walls of the apartment were
tapestried with the sails and adorned with the flags
belonging to the yacht. The curtain of fire extending
over the opening of the cavern provided it, as already
stated, with light and heat.
The torrent of lava fell into a small rock- Bound basin
that had no apparent communication with the sea, and was
eyidently the aperture of a deep abyss, of which the
waters, heated by the descent of the eruptive matter,
would no doubt retain their liquid condition long after the
Gallian Sea had become a sheet of ice.
A small excavation to the left of the common hall was
allotted for the special use of Servadac and the count;
another on the right was appropriated to the lieutenant
and Ben Zoof; whilst a third recess, immediately at the
back, made a convenient little chamber for Nina. The
Spaniards and the Russian sailors took up their sleeping-
quarters in the adjacent galleries, and found the tem-
perature quite comfortable.
162 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Such were the internal arrangements of Ninaâ€™s Hive,
the refuge where the little colony were full- of hope that
they would be able to brave the rigours of the stern winter-
time that lay before themâ€”a winter-time during which
Gallia might possibly be projected even to the orbit of
Jupiter, where the temperature would not exceed one
twenty-fifth of the normal winter temperature of the earth.
The only discontented spirit was Isaac Hakkabut.
Throughout all the preparations which roused even the
Spaniards to activity, the Jew, still incredulous and deaf to
every representation of the true state of things, insisted
upon remaining in the creek at Gourbi Island; nothing
could induce him to leave his tartan, where, like a miser, he
would keep guard over his precious cargo, ever grumbling
and growling, but with his weather-eye open in the hope of
catching sight of some passing sail. It must be owned
that the whole party were far from sorry to be relieved of
lis presence; his uncomely figure and repulsive counte-
nance was a perpetual bugbear. He had given out in plain
terms that he did not intend to part with any of his
property, except for current money, and Servadac, equally
resolute, had strictly forbidden any purchases to be made,
hoping to wear out the rascalâ€™s obstinacy.
Hakkabut persistently refused â€˜to credit the real
situation ; he could not absolutely deny that some portions
of the terrestrial globe had undergone a certain degree of
modification, but nothing could -bring him to believe that
he was not, sooner or later, to resume his old line of
business in the Mediterranean. With his wonted distrust
of all with whom he came in contact, he regarded every
argument that was urged upon him only as evidence of a
plot that had been devised to deprive him of his goods.
Repudiating, as he did utterly, the hypothesis that a frag-
ment had become detached from the earth, he scanned the
horizon for hours together with an old telescope, the case
of which had been patched up till it looked like a rusty
stove-pipe, hoping to descry the passing trader with which
he micht efâ€˜ect some bartering upon advantageous terms.
WIN TER-QUARTERS. ; 163
At first he professed to regard the proposed removal
into winter-quarters as an attempt to impose upon his
credulity ; but the frequent voyages made by the Dodbryna
to the south, and the repeated consignments of corn and
cattle, soon served to make him aware that Captain Ser-
vadac and his companions were really contemplating a
departure from Gourbi Island.
The movement set him thinking. What, he began to
ask himselfâ€”what if all that was told him was true? What
if this sea was no longer the Mediterranean? What if he
should never again behold his German fatherland? What
if his marts for business were gone for ever? A vague
idea of ruin began to take possession of his mind: he
must yield to necessity; he must do the best he could.
As the result of his cogitations, he occasionally left his
tartan and made a visit to the shore. At length he en-
deavoured to mingle with the busy group, who were hurry-
ing on their preparations ; but his advances were only met
by jeers and scorn, and, ridiculed by all the rest, he was
fain to turn his attention to Ben Zoof, to whom he offered
a few pinches of tobacco.
â€œNo, old Zebulon,â€ said Ben Zoof, steadily refusing
the gift, â€œit is against orders to take anything from you.
Keep your cargo to yourself; eat and drink-it all if you
can; we are not to touch it.â€
Finding the subordinates incorruptible, Isaac deter-
mined to go to the fountain-head. He addressed himself
to Servadac, and begged him to tell him the whole truth,
piteously adding that surely it was unworthy of a French
officer to deceive a poor old man like himself.
â€œTell you the truth, man!â€ cried Servadac. â€œConfound
it, I have told you the truth twenty times. Once for all, I
tell you now, you have left yourself barely time enough to
make your escape to yonder mountain.â€
â€œGod and Mahomet have mercy on me!â€ muttered
the Jew, whose creed frequently assumed a very ambiguous
â€œT will tell you what,â€ continued the captainâ€”â€˜ you
164 HECTOR SERVADAC.
shall have a few men to work the Hazsa across, if you
â€œBut I want to go to Algiers,â€™ whimpered Hakkabut.
â€œHow often am I to tell you that Algiers is no longer
in existence? Only say yes or noâ€”are you coming with
us into winter-quarters ?â€
â€œGod of Israel! what is to become of all my property?â€
â€œBut, mind you,â€ continued the captain, not heeding
the interruption, â€œif you do not choose voluntarily to
come with us, I shall have the Hansa, by my orders,
removed to a place of safety. I am not going to let your
cursed obstinacy incur the risk of losing your cargo
â€œMerciful Heaven! I shall be ruined!â€ moaned Isaac,
â€œYou are going the right way to ruin yourself, and it
would serve you right to leave you to your own devices.
But be off! I have no more to say.â€
And, turning contemptuously on his heel, Servadac
left the old man vociferating bitterly, and with uplifted
hands protesting vehemently against the rapacity of the
By the 2oth all preliminary arrangements were com-
plete, and everything ready for a final departure from the
island. The thermometer stood:on an average at 8Â°
below zero, and the water in the â€˜cistern was completely
frozen. It was determined, therefore, for the colony to
embark on the following day, and take up their residence in
A final consultation was held about the Hansa. Lieu-
tenant Procope pronounced his decided conviction that it
would be impossible for the tartan to resist the pressure of
the ice in the harbour of the Sheliff, and that there would
be far more safety in the proximity of the volcano. It
was agreed on all hands that the vessel must be shifted ;
and accordingly orders were given, four Russian sailors
were sent on board, and only a few minutes elapsed after
the Dobryna had weighed anchor, before the great lateen
sail of the tartan was unfurled, and the â€œshop-ship,â€ as
Ben Zoof delighted to call it, was also on her way to the
Long and loud were the lamentations of the Jew. He
kept exclaiming that he had given no orders, that he was
being moved against his will, that he -had asked for no
assistance, and needed none; but it required no very keen
discrimination to observe that all along there was a lurking
gleam of satisfaction in his little grey eyes, and when, a
few hours later, he found himself securely anchored, and
his property in a place of safety, he quite chuckled with glee.
â€œGod of Israel!â€ he said in an undertone, â€œthey have
made no charge; the idiots have piloted me here for
For nothing! His whole nature exulted in the con-
sciousness that he was enjoying a service that had been
Destitute of human inhabitants, Gourbi Island was
now left to the tenancy of such birds and beasts as had
escaped the recent promiscuous slaughter. Birds, indeed,
that had migrated in search of warmer shores, had
returned, proving that this fragment of the French colony
was the only shred of land that could yield them any
sustenance ; but their life must necessarily be short. It
was utterly impossible that they could survive the cold
that would soon ensue.
The colony took possession of their new abode with
but few formalities. Every one, however, approved of all
the internal arrangements of Ninaâ€™s Hive, and were
profuse in their expressions of satisfaction at finding them-
selves located in such comfortable quarters. The only
malcontent was Hakkabut; he had no share in the general
enthusiasm, refused even to enter or inspect any of the
galleries, and insisted on remaining on board his tartan.
â€œHe is afraid,â€ said Ben Zoof, â€œthat he will have to
pay for his lodgings. But wait a bit; we shall see how he
stands. the cold out there; the frost, no doubt, will drive
the old fox out ef his hole.â€ Â©
166 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Towards evening the pots were set boiling, and a
bountiful supper, to which all were invited, was â€˜spread in
the central hall. The stores of the Dodryna contained
some excellent wine, some of which was broached to do
honour to the occasion. The health of the governour-
general was drunk, as well as the toast â€œSuccess to his
council,â€ to which Ben Zoof was called upon to return
thanks. The entertainment passed off merrily. The
Spaniards were in the best of spirits ; one of them played
the guitar, another the castanets, and the rest joined ina
ringing chorus. Ben Zoof contributed the famous Zouave
refrain, well known throughout the French army, but
rarely performed in finer style than by this vzrtuoso :â€”
** Misti goth dar dar tire lyre !
Flic! floc! flac! lirette, lira !
Far la rira,
Tour tala rire,
Tour la Ribaud,
â€˜Sans repos, rÃ©pit, rÃ©pit repos, ris pot, ripette !
Si vous attrapez mon refrain,
Fameux vous Ã©tes.â€
The concert was succeeded by.a ball, unquestionably
the first that had ever taken place in Gallia. The Russian
sailorsâ€™ exhibited some of their national dances, which
gained considerable applause, even although they followed
upon the marvellous fandangos of the Spaniards. Ben
Zoof, in his turn, danced a fas seul (often performed in the
ElysÃ©e Montmartre) with an elegance and vigour that
earned many compliments from Negrete.
It was nine oâ€™clock before the festivities came to an
end, and by that time the company, hÃ©ated by the high
temperature of the hall, and by their own exertions, felt
the want of a little fresh air. Accordingly the greater
portion of the party, escorted by Ben Zoof, made their
way into one of the adjacent galleries that led to the
shore. Servadac, with the count and lieutenant, did not
follow immediately ; but shortly afterwards they proceeded
to join them, when on their way they were startled by loud
cries from those i in advance.
Ben Zoof, in his turn, danced a pas seul.
Their first impression was that they were cries of
distress, and they were greatly relieved to find that they
were shouts of delight, which the dryness and purity of
the atmosphere caused to re-echo like a volley of musketry.
Reaching the mouth of the gallery, they found the
entire group pointing with eager interest to the sky.
â€œWell, Ben Zoof,â€ asked the captain, â€œwhat's the
matter now?â€ ,
â€œOh, your Excellency,â€ ejaculated the orderly, â€œlook
there! look there! The moon! the moonâ€™s come back !â€
And, sure enough, what was apparently the moon was
rising above the mists of evening.
168 HECTOR SERVADAC.
A FROZEN OCEAN.
THE moon! She had disappeared for weeks; was she
now returning? Had she been faithless to the earth ? and
had she now approached to be a satellite of the new-
born world ?
â€œImpossible!â€ said Lieutenant Procope ; â€œthe earth
is millions and millions of leagues away, and it is not
probable that the moon has ceased to revolve about her.â€
â€œWhy not?â€ remonstrated Servadac. â€œIt would not
be more strange than the other phenomena which we have
lately witnessed. Why should not the moon have fallen
within the limits of Galliaâ€™s attraction, and become her
â€œUpon that supposition,â€ put in the count, â€œI should
think that it would be altogether unlikely that three
months would elapse without our seeing her.â€
â€œ Quite incredible!â€ continued Procope. â€œ And there
is another thing which totally disproves the captain's
hypothesis ; the magnitude of Gallia is far too insignificant
for her power of attraction to carry off the moon.â€
â€œ But,â€ persisted Servadac, â€œ why should not the same
convu sion that tore us away from the earth have torn
away the moon as well? After wandering about as she
would for a while in the solar regions, I do not see why she
should not have attached herself â€˜to us.â€
The lieutenant repeated his conviction that it was not
had no feature in common with the Moon.
A FROZEN OCEAN. 169
â€œ But why not?â€ again asked Servadac impetuously.
â€œ Because, I te:l you, the mass of Gallia is so inferior to
that of the moon, that Gallia would become the moonâ€™s
satellite ; the moon could not possibly become hers.â€
â€œAssuming, however,â€ continued Servadac, â€œsuch to be
the case -
â€œTI am afraid,â€ said the lieutenant, interrupting him,
â€œthat I cannot assume anything of the sort even for a
Servadac smiled good-humouredly.
â€œTI confess you seem to have the best of the argument,
and if Gallia had become a satellite of the moon, it would
not have taken three months to catch sight of her. I
suppose you are tight.â€
While this discussion had. been. going on, the satellite,
or whatever it might be, had been rising steadily above the
horizon, and had reached a position favourable for obser-
vation. Telescopes were brought, and it was very soon
ascertained, beyond a question, that the new luminary was
not the well-known Pheebe of terrestrial nights ; it had no
feature in common with the moon. Although it was
apparently much nearer to Gallia than the moon to the
earth, its superficies was hardly one-tenth as large, and so
feebly did it reflect the light of the remote sun, that it
scarcely emitted radiance enough to extinguish the dim
lustre of stars of the eighth magnitude. Like the sun, it
had risen in the west, and was.now at its full. To mistake
its identity with the moon was absolutely impossible ; not
even Servadac could discover a trace of the seas, chasms,
craters, and mountains which have been so minutely
delineated in lunar charts; and it could not be denied
that any transient hope that had been excited as to their
once again being about to enjoy the peaceful smiles of
â€œthe queen of nightâ€ must all be resigned.
Count Timascheff finally suggested, though somewhat
doubtfully, the question of the probability that Gallia, in
her course across the zone of the minor planets, had
-carried off one of them ; but whether it was one of the 169
170 HECTOR SERVADAC.
asteroids already included in the astronomical catalogues,
or one previously unknown, he did not presume to det.r-
mine. The idea to a certain extent was plausible,
inasmuch as it has been ascertaincd that several of the
telescopic planets are of such small dimensions that a
good walker might make a circuit of them in four and
twenty hours; consequently Gallia, being of superior
volume, might be supposed capable of exercising a power
of attraction upon any of these miniature microcosms.
The first night in Ninaâ€™s Hive passed without special
incident ; and next morning a regular scheme of life was
definitely laid down. â€˜â€œ My lord governourâ€ (as Ben Zoof,
until he was peremptorily forbidden, delighted to call
Servadac) had a wholesome dread of idleness and its con-
sequences, and insisted upon each member of the party
undertaking some special duty to fulfil. There was plenty
to do. The domestic animals required a great deal of
attention ; a supply of food had to be secured and pre-
served ; fishing had to be carried on while the condition of
the sea would allow it ; and in several places the galleries
had to be further excavated to render them more available
for use. Occupation, then, need never be wanting, and
the daily round of labour could go on in orderly routine.
A perfect concord ruled the little colony. The Rus-
sians and Spaniards amalgamated well, and both did their
best to pick up various scraps of French, which was con-
sidered the official language of the place. Servadac him-
self undertook the tuition of Pablo and Nina, Ben Zoof
being their companion in play-hours, when he entertained
them with enchanting stories in the best Parisian French,
about â€œa lovely city at the foot of a mountain,â€™ where he
almost promised one day to take them.
â€˜The end of March came, but the cold was not intense
to such a degree as to confine any of the party to the
interior of their resort; several excursions were made along
the shore, and for a radius of three or four miles the
adjacent district was carefully explored. Investigation,
however, always ended in the same result; turn their
The Exp'orers from the Summit scanned the Surrounding View.
A FROZEN OCEAN. 171
course in whatever direction they would, they found that
the country retained everywhere its desert character, rocky,
barren, and without a trace of vegetation. Here and there
a slight layer of snow or a thin coating of ice arising from
atmospheric condensation indicated the existence of super-
ficial moisture, but it would require a period indefinitely
long, exceeding human reckoning, before that moisture
could collect into a stream and roll downwards over the
stony strata to the sea. It seemÃ©d at present out of their
power to determine whether the land upon which they
were so happily settled was aa island or a continent, and
till the cold was abated they feared to undertake any
lengthened expedition to ascertain the actual extent of the
strange concrete of metallic crystallization.
By ascending one day to the summit. of the volcano,
Captain Servadac and the count succeeded in getting a
general idea of the aspect of the country. The mountain
-itself was an enormous block rising symmetrically to a
height of nearly 3000 feet above the level of the sea,-in
the form of a truncated cone, of which the topmost section
was crowned by a wreath of smoke issuing continuously
from the mouth of a narrow crater.
_. Under the old condition of terrestrial things, the ascent
of this steep acclivity would have been attended with
much fatigue, but as the effect of the altered condition of
the law of gravity, the travellers performed perpetual pro-
digies in the way of agility, and in little over an hour
reached the edge of the crater, without more sense of exer-
tion.than if they had traversed a couple of miles on level
ground. Gallia had its drawbacks, but it had some com-
Telescopes in hand, the explorers from the summit
scanned the surrounding view. Their anticipations had
already realized what they saw. Just as they expected, on
the north, east, and west lay the Gallian Sea, smooth and
motionless as a sheet of glass, the cold having, as it were,
congealed the atmosphere so that there was not a breath
of wind. Towards the south there seemed no limit to the
172 IIECTOR SERVADAC,
land, and the volcano formed the apex of a triangle, of
which the base was beyond the reach of vision. Viewed
even trom this height, whence distance would do much to
soften the general asperity, the surface nevertheless seemed
to be bristling with its myriads of hexagonal lamelle, and
to present difficulties which, to an ordinary pedestrian,
would be insurmountable.
â€œO for some wings, or else a balloon!â€ cried Servadac,
as he gazed around him ; and then, looking down to the
rock upon which they were standing, he added, â€œWe seem
to have been transplanted to a soil strange enough in its
chemical character to bewilder the savants at a museum.â€
â€œ And do you observe, captain,â€ asked the count, â€œ how
the convexity of our little world curtails our view? See,
how circumscribed is the horizon !â€
Servadac replied that he had noticed the same circum-
stance from the top of the cliffs of Gourbi Island.
â€œYes,â€ said the count; â€˜it becomes more and more
obvious that ours is a very tiny world, and that Gourbi
Island is the sole productive spot upon its surface. We
have had a short summer, and who knows whether we are
not entering upon a winter that may last for years, perhaps
for centuries ?â€
â€œBut we must not mind, count,â€ said Servadac, smiling.
â€œWe have agreed, you know, that, come what may, we are
to be philospphers.â€
â€œAy, true, my friend,â€ eeeigea the count ; â€œwe must be
philosophers and something more; we must be grateful to
the good Protector who has hitherto befriended us, and we
must trust His mercy to the end.â€
For a few moments they both stood in silence, and
contemplated land and sea; then, having given a last
glance over the dreary panorama, they prepared to wend
their way down the mountain. Before, however, they
commenced their descent, they resolved to make a closer
examination of the crater. They were particularly struck
by what seemed to them almost the mysterious calmness
with which the eruption was effected. There was none of
_A FROZEN OCEAN. 173
the wild disorder and deafening tumult that usually ac-
company the discharge of volcanic matter, but the heated
lava, rising with a uniform gentleness, quietly overran the
limits of the crater, like the flow of water from the bosom
of a peaceful lake. Instead of a boiler exposed to the
action of an angry fire, the crater rather resembled a brim-
ming basin, of which the contents were noiselessly escaping.
Nor were there any igneous stones or red-hot cinders
mingled with the smoke that crowned the summit; a cir-
cumstance that quite accorded with the absence of the
pumice-stones, obsidians, and other minerals of volcanic
origin with which the base of a burning mountain is gene-
Captain Servadac was of opinion that this peculiarity
augured favourably for the continuance of the eruption.
Extreme violence in physical, as well as in moral nature,
is never of long duration. The most terrible storms, like
the most violent fits of passion, are not lasting ; but here
the calm flow of the liquid fire appeared to be supplied
from a source that was inexhaustible, in the same way as
the waters of Niagara, gliding on steadily to their final
plunge, would defy all effort to arrest their course.
Before the evening of this day closed in, a most
important change was effected in the condition of the
Gallian Sea by the intervention of human agency. Not-
withstanding the increasing cold, the sea, unruffled as it
was by a breath of wind, still retained its liquid state. It
is an established fact that water, under this condition of
absolute stillness, will remain uncongealed at a temperature
several degrees below zero, whilst experiment, at the same
time, shows that a very slight shock will often be sufficient
to convert it into solid ice.
It had occurred to Servadac that if some communica-
tion could be opened with Gourbi Island, there would be
a fine scope for hunting expeditions. Having this ulti-
mate object in view, he assembled his little colony upon a
projecting rock at the extremity of the promontory, and
having called Nina and Pablo out to him in front, he said:
174. HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œNow, Nina, do you think you could throw something
into the sea?â€
â€œT think I could,â€ replied the child, â€œbut I am sure
that Pablo would throw it a great deal further than I can.â€
â€œ Never mind, you shall try first.â€
Putting a fragment of ice into Ninaâ€™s hand, he ad-
dressed himself to Pablo:
â€œLook out, Pablo; you shall see what a nice little
fairy Nina is! Throw, Nina, throw, as hard as you can.â€
Nina balanced the piece of ice two or three times in
her hand, and threw it forward with all-her strength.
A sudden thrill seemed to vibrate-across the motionless
waters to the distant horizon, and the Gallian Sea had
become a solid sheet of ice'
â€˜â€˜ Throw, Nina, throw, throw as hard as you can.â€
( 175 )
WHEN, three hours after sunset, on the 23rd of March,
the Gallian moon rose upon the western horizon, it was
observed that she had entered upon her last quarter. She
had taken only four days to pass from syzygy to quadra-
ture, and it was consequently evident that she â€˜would be
visible for little more than a week at a time, and that her
lunation would be accomplished within sixteen days. The
lunar months, like the solar days, had been diminished by
one half. Three days later the moon was in conjunction
with the sun, and was consequently lost to view; Ben
Zoof, as the first observer of the satellite, was extremely
interested in its movements, and wondered whether it
would ever re-appear.
On the 26th, under an atmosphere perfectly clear and
dry, the thermometer fell to 12Â°C. below zero. Of the
present distance of Gallia from the sun, and the number of
leagues she had traversed since the receipt of the last
mysterious document, there were no means of judging ;
the extent of diminution in the apparent disc of the sun
did not afford sufficient basis even for an approximate
calculation; and Captain Servadac was perpetually re-
gretting that they could receive no further tidings from
the anonymous correspondent, whom he persisted in re-
garding as a fellow-countryman.
The solidity of the ice was perfect; the utter stillness of
176 HECTOR SERVADAC.
the air at the time when the final congelation of the
waters had taken place had resulted in the formation of a
suiface that for smoothness would rival a skating-rink ;
without a crack or flaw it extended far beyond the range
The contrast to the ordinary aspect of polar seas was
very remarkable. There, the ice-fields are an agglomera-
tion of hummocks and icebergs, massed in wild confusion,
often towering higher than the masts of the largest whalers,
end from the instability of their foundations liable to
an instantaneous loss of equilibrium ; a breath of wind, a
slight modification of the temperature, not unfrequently
serving to bring about a series of changes outrivalling the
most elaborate transformation scenes of a pantomime.
Here, on the contrary, the vast white plain was level as
the desert of Sahara or the Russian steppes ; the waters of
the Gallian Sea were imprisoned beneath the solid sheet,
which became continually stouter in the increasing cold.
Accustomed to the uneven crystallizations of their own
frczen seas, the Russians could not be otherwise than
delighted with the polished surface that afforded them such
excellent opportunity for enjoying their favourite pastime of
skating. A supply of skates, found hidden away amongst
the Dobrynaâ€™s stores, was speedily brought into use. The
Russians undertook the instruction of the Spaniards, and
at the end of a few days, during which the temperature
was only endurable through the absence of wind, there
was not a Gallian who could not skate tolerably well,
while many of them could describe figures involving the
most complicated curves. Nina and Pablo earned loud
applause by their rapid proficiency; Captain Servadac,
an adept in athletics, almost outvied his instructor, the
count ; and Ben Zoof, who had upon some rare occasions
skated upon the Lake of Montmartre (in his eyes, of course,
a sea), performed prodigies in the art.
This exercise was not only healthy in itself, but it was
acknowledged that, in case of necessity, it might become a
very useful means of locomotion. As Captain Servadac
A Supply of Skates was speedily brought into Use.
A CARRIER-PIGEON. 177
remarked, it was almost a substitute for railways, and as if
to illustrate this proposition, Lieutenant Procope, perhaps
the greatest expert in the party, accomplished the twenty
miles to Gourbi Island and back in considerably less than
The temperature, meanwhile, continued to decrease, and
the average reading of the thermometer was about 16Â° C.
below zero; the light also diminished in proportion, and
all objects appeared to be enveloped in a half-defined
shadow, as though the sun were undergoing a perpetual
eclipse. It was not surprising that the effect of this con-
tinuously overhanging gloom should be to induce a fre-
quent depression of spirits amongst the majority of the
little population, exiles as they were from their mother
earth, and not unlikely, as it seemed, to be swept far away
into the regions of another planetary sphere. Probably
Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac, and Lieutenant Pro-
cope were the only members of the community who could
bring any scientific judgment to bear upon the uncertainty
that was before them, but a general sense of the strange-
ness of their situation could not fail at times to weigh
heavily upon the minds of all. Under these circumstances
it was very necessary to counteract the tendency to de-
spond by continual diversion ; and the recreation of skating
thus opportunely provided, seemed just the thing to arouse
the flagging spirits, and to restore a wholesome excite-
With dogged obstinacy, Isaac Hakkabut refused to
take any share either in the labours or the amusements of
the colony. In spite of the cold, he had not been seen
since the day. of his arrival from Gourbi Island. Captain
Servadac had strictly forbidden any communication with
him ; and the smoke that rose from the cabin chimney of
the Hansa was the sole indication of the proprietor being
still on board. There was nothing to prevent him, if he
chose, from partaking gratuitously of the volcanic light
and heat which were being enjoyed by all besides; but
rather than abandon his close and personal oversight of his
178 HECTOR SERVADAC.
precious cargo, he preferred to sacrifice his own slender
stock of fuel.
Both the schooner and the tartan had been carefully
moored in the way that seemed to promise best for with-
standing the rigour of the winter. After seeing the vessels
made secure in the frozen creek, Lieutenant Procope, fol-
lowing the example of many Arctic explorers, had the
precaution to have the ice bevelled away from the keels,
so that there should be no risk of the shipsâ€™ sides being
crushed by the increasing pressure; he hoped that they
would follow any rise in the level of the ice-field, and when
the thaw should come, that they would easily regain their
On his last visit to Gourbi Island, the lieutenant had
ascertained that north, east, and west, far as the eye could
reach, the Gallian Sea had become one uniform sheet of
ice. One spot alone refused to freeze: this was the pool
immediately below the central cavern, the receptacle for
the stream of burning lava. It was entirely. enclosed by
rocks, and if ever a few icicles were formed there by the
action of the cold, they were very soon melted by the fiery
shower. Hissing and spluttering as the hot lava came in
contact with it, the water was in a continual state of ebul-
lition, and the fish that abounded in its depths defied the
angler's craft; they were,as Ben Zoof remarked, â€œtoo much
boiled to bite.â€
At the beginning of April the weather changed. The
sky became overcast, but there was no rise in the tem-
perature. Unlike the polar winters of the earth, which
ordinarily are affected by atmospheric influence, and liable
to slight intermissions of their severity at various shiftings
of the wind, Galliaâ€™s winter was caused by her immense
distance from the source of all light and heat, and the cold
was consequently destined to go on steadily increasing
until it reached the limit ascertained by Fourier to be the
normal temperature of the realms of space.
With the over-clouding of the heavens there arose a
violent tempest; but although the wind raged with an
A CARRIER-PIGEON. 179
almost inconceivable fury, it was unaccompanied by either
snow or rain. Its effect upon the burning curtain that
covered the aperture of the central hall was very remark-
able. So far from there being any likelihood of the fire
being extinguished by the vehemence of the current of air,
the hurricane semed rather to act as a ventilator, which
fanned the flame into greater activity, and the utmost care
was necessary to avoid being burnt by the fragments of
lava that were drifted into the interior of the grotto.
More than once the curtain itself was rifted entirely
asunder, but only to close up again immediately after
allowing a momentary draught of cold air to penetrate
the hall in a way that was refreshing and rather advan-
tageous than otherwise.
On the 4th of April, after an absence of about four
days, the new satellite, to Ben Zoofâ€™s great satisfaction, made
its re-appearance in a crescent form, a circumstance that
seemed to justify the anticipation that henceforward it
would continue to make a periodic revolution every fort-
The crust of ice and snow was far too stout for the
beaks of the strongest birds to penetrate, and accordingly
large swarms had left the island, and, following the human
population, had taken refuge on the volcanic promontory ;
not that there the barren shore had anything in the way of
nourishment to offer them, but their instinct impelled
them to haunt now the very habitations which formerly
they would have shunned. Scraps of food were thrown to
them from the galleries; these were speedily devoured,
but were altogether inadequate in quantity to meet the
demand. At length, emboldened by hunger, several hun-
dred birds ventured through the tunnel, and took up their
quarters actually in Ninaâ€™s Hive. Congregating in the
large hall, the half-famished creatures did not hesitate to
snatch bread, meat, or food of any description from the
hands of the residents as they sat at table, and soon
became such an intolerable nuisance that it formed one of
the daily diversions to hunt them down; but although
180 HECTOR SERVADAC.
they were vigourously attacked by stones and sticks, and
even occasionally by shot, it was with some difficulty that
their number could be sensibly reduced.
First and foremost in these daily raids upon the birds
was Ben Zoof. He yelled and shouted, and swore at the
intruders much as he had done upon the island, and by
the help of his companions succeeded in doing a con-
siderable amount of destruction. For days the table was
supplied with an abundance of woodcocks, wild ducks,
snipes, and partridges; and although the birds had been
knocked down at random, they could hardly have been
more choice as delicacies if they had been selected with
especial regard to their edible qualities.
By a systematic course of warfare the bulk of the birds
were all expelled, with the exception of about a hundred,
which began to build in the crevices of the rocks. These
were left in quiet possession of their quarters, as not only
was it deemed advisable to perpetuate the various breeds,
but it was found that these birds acted as a kind of police,
never failing either to chase away or to kill any others of
their species who infringed upon what they appeared to
regard as their own special privilege in intruding within
the limits of their domain.
On- the 15th loud cries were suddenly seated issuing
from the mouth of the principal gallery.
â€œHelp, help! I shall be killed!â€
Pablo in a moment recognized the voice as Ninaâ€™s.
Outrunning even Ben Zoof he hurried to the assistance of
his little playmate, and discovered that she was being
attacked by half a dozen great sea-gulls, and only after
receiving some severe blcws from their beaks could he
succeed by means of a stout cudgel in driving them away.
â€œTell me, Nina, what is this?â€ he asked as soon as
the tumult had subsided.
The child pointed to a bird which she was caressing
tenderly in her bosom.
â€œA pigeon!â€ exclaimed Ben Zoof, who had reached
the scene of commotion, adding:
She was being attacked by half a dozen Great Sea-gulls,
A CARRIER-PIGEON. 181
â€œ A carrier-pigeon! And by all the saints of Mont-
martre, there is a little bag attached to its neck!â€
He took the bird, and rushing into the hall placed it in
â€œ Another message, no doubt,â€ cried the captain, â€œfrom
our unknown friend. Let us hope that this time he has
given us his name and address.â€
All crowded round, eager to hear the news. In the
struggle with the sea-gulls the bag had been partially torn
open, but it was found to contain the following des-
SÂ¢ Gallia !
Chemin parcouru du 1 Mars au 1 Avril: 39,000,000 1, !
Distance du soleil: 110,000,0001. !
CaptÃ© NÃ©rina en passant.
Vivres vont manquer et . 2 ee00â€
The rest of the document had been so damaged by the
beaks of the gulls that it was illegible. Servadac was wild
with vexation. He felt more and more convinced that the
writer was a Frenchman, and that the last line indicated
that he was in distress from scarcity of food. The very
thought of a fellow-countryman in peril of starvation drove
him well-nigh to distraction, and it was in vain that
search was made everywhere near the scene of conflict in
hopes of finding the missing scrap that. might bear a
signature or address.
Suddenly little Nina, who had again taken possession
of the pigeon, and was hugging it to her breast, saidâ€”
â€œLook here, Ben Zoof!â€
And as she spoke she pointed to the left wing of the
The wing bore the faint impress of a postage-stamp,
and the one word
182 HECTOR SERVADAC.
FORMENTERA was at once recognized by Servadac and
the count as the name of one of the smallest of the Balearic
Islands. It was more than probable that the unknown
writer had thence sent out the mysterious documents, and
from the message just come to hand by the carrier-pigeon,
it appeared all but certain that at the beginning of April, a
fortnight back, he had still been there. In one important
particular the present communication differed from those
that had preceded it: it was written entirely in French,
and exhibited none of the ecstatic exclamations in other
languages that had been remarkable in the two former
papers. The concluding line, with its intimation of failing
provisions, amounted almost to an appeal for help. Cap-
tain Servadac briefly drew attention to these points, and
concluded by saying :
â€œMy friends, we must, without delay, hasten to the
assistance of this unfortunate man.â€™
â€œFor my part,â€ said the count, â€œI am quite ready to
accompany you ; it is not unlikely that he is not alone in
Lieutenant Procope expressed much surprise.
â€œWe must have passed close to Formentera,â€ he said,
â€œwhen we explored the site of the Balearic Isles ; this frag-
ment must be very small; it must be smaller than the
remaining splinter of Gibraltar or Ceuta; otherwise, surely,
it would never have escaped our observation.â€
A SLEDGE-RIDE. 183
â€œHowever small it may be,â€ replied Servadac, â€œ we
must find it. How far off do you suppose it is?â€
â€œTt must be a hundred and twenty leagues away,â€ said
the lieutenant, thoughtfully ; â€œand I do not quite under-
stand how you would propose to get there.â€
â€œWhy, on skates of course ; no difficulty in that, I should
imagine,â€ answered Servadac, and he appealed to the count
for confirmation of his opinion.
The count assented, but Procope looked doubtful.
â€œYour enterprise is generous,â€ he said, â€œand I should
be most unwilling to throw any unnecessary obstacle in
the way of its execution ; but, pardon me, if I submit to
you a few considerations which to my mind are very
important. First of all, the thermometer is already down
to 22Â° below zero, and the keen wind from the south is
making the temperature absolutely unendurable; in the
second place, supposing you travel at the rate of twenty
leagues a day, you would be exposed for at least six con-
secutive days; and thirdly, your expedition will be of
small avail unless you convey provisions not only for your-
selves, but for those whom you hope to relieve.â€
â€œWe can carry our own provisions on our backs in
knapsacks,â€ interposed Servadac, quickly, unwilling to
recognize any difficulty in the way.
â€œGranted that you can,â€™ answered the lieutenant,
quietly ; â€œbut where, on this level ice-field, will you find
shelter in your periods of rest? You must perish with cold;
you will not have the chance of digging out ice-huts like
â€œAs to rest,â€ said Servadac, â€œwe shall take none; we
shall keep on our way continuously; by travelling day
and night without intermission, we shall not be more than
three days in reaching Formentera.â€
â€œ Believe me,â€ persisted the lieutenant, calmly, â€œ your
enthusiasm is carrying you too far; the feat you propose
is impossible ; but even conceding the possibility of your
success in reaching your destination, what service do you
imagine that you, half-starved and half-frozen yourself,
184 HECTOR SERVADAC.
could render to those who are already perishing by want
and exposure? you would only bring them away to die.â€
The obvious and dispassionate reasoning of the lieu-
tenant could not fail to impress the minds of those who
listened to him; the impracticability of the journey be-
came more and more apparent ; unprotected on that drear
expanse, any traveller must assuredly succumb to the
snow-drifts that were continually being whirled across it.
But Hector Servadac, animated by the generous desire of
rescuing a suffering fellow-creature, could scarcely be
brought within the bounds of common sense. Against
his better judgment he was still bent upon the expedition,
and Ben Zoof declared himself ready to accompany his
master in the event of Count Timascheff hesitating to
encounter the peril which the undertaking involved. But
the count entirely repudiated all idea of shrinking from
what, quite as much as the captain, he regarded as a
sacred duty, and turning to Lieutenant Procope, told him
that unless some better plan could be devised, he was
prepared to start off at once and make the attempt to
skate across to Formentera. The lieutenant, who was lost
in thought, made no immediate reply.
â€œT wish we hada sledge,â€ said Ben Zoof.
â€œT daresay that a sledge of.some sort could be con-
trived,â€ said the count ; â€˜â€˜ but then we should have no dogs
or reindeer to draw it.â€
â€œWhy not rough-shoe the two horses ?â€
â€œThey would never be able to endure the cold,â€ ob-
jected the count. ,
â€œ Never mind,â€ said Servadac, â€œlet us get our sledge and
put them to the test. Something must be done!â€
â€œT think,â€ said Lieutenant Procope, breaking his
thoughtful silence, â€œthat I can tell you of a sledge already
provided for your hand, and I can suggest a motive power
surer and swifter than horses.â€
â€œ What do you mean ?â€ was the eager inquiry.
â€œT mean the Dobrynaâ€™s yawl,â€ answered the lieutenant ;
â€œand I have no doubt that the wind would carry her rapidly
along the ice.â€ ;
A SLEDGE-RIDE. 185
The idea seemed admirable. Lieutenant Procope was
well aware to what marvellous perfection the Americans
had brought their sail-sledges, and had heard how in the
vast prairies of the United States they had been known to
outvie the speed of an express train, occasionally attaining
a rate of more than a hundred miles an hour. The wind
was still blowing hard from the south, and assuming that
the yawl could be propelled with a velocity of about fifteen
or at least twelve leagues an hour, he reckoned that it was
quite possible to reach Formentera within twelve hours,
that is to say, in a single day between the intervals of
sunrise and sunset.
The yawl was about twelve feet long, and capable of
holding five or six people. The addition of a couple of
iron runners would be all that was requisite to convert it
into an excellent sledge, which, if a sail were hoisted, might
be deemed certain to make a rapid progress over the
smooth surface of the ice. For the protection of the
passengers it was proposed to erect a kind of wooden roof
lined with strong cloth ; beneath this could be packed a
supply of provisions, some warm furs, some cordials, and a
portable stove to be heated by spirits of wine.
For the outward journey the wind was as favourable as
could be desired; but it was to be apprehended that,
unless the direction of the wind should change, the return
would be a matter of some difficulty; a system of tacking
might be carried out to a certain degree, but it was not
likely that the yawl would answer her helm in any way
corresponding to what would occur in the open sea. Cap-
tain Servadac, however, would not listen to any representa-
tion of probable difficulties; the future, he said, must
provide for itself.
The engineer and several of the sailors sat vigourously
to work, and before the close of the day the yawl was
furnished with a pair of stout iron runners, curved upwards
in front, and fitted with a metal scull designed to assist in
maintaining the directness of her course ; the roof was put
on, and beneath it were stored the provisions, the wraps,
and the cooking utensils.
186 HECTOR SERVADAC.
A strong desire was expressed by Lieutenant Procope
that he should be allowed to accompany Captain Servadac
instead of Count Timascheff. It was unadvisable for all
three of them to go, as, in case of there being several
persons to be rescued, the space at their command would
be quite inadequate. The lieutenant urged that he was
the most experienced seaman, and as such was best quali-
fied to take command of the sledge and the management
of the sails ; and as it was not to be expected that Ser-
vadac would resign his intention of going in person to
relieve his fellow-countryman, Procope. submitted his own
wishes to the count. The count was himself very anxious
to have his share in the philanthropic enterprise, and
demurred considerably to the proposal; he yielded, how-
ever, after a time to Servadacâ€™s representations that in the
event of the expedition proving disastrous, the little colony
would need his services alike as governour and protector,
and overcoming his reluctance to be left out of the perilous
adventure, was prevailed upon to remain behind for the
general good of the community at Nina's Hive.
At sunrise on the following morning, the 16th of April,
Captain Servadac and the lieutenant took their places in
the yawl. The thermometer was more than 20Â° below
zero, and it was with deep emotion that their com-
panions beheld them thus embarking upon the vast white
plain. Ben Zoofâ€™s heart was too full for words; Count
Timascheff could not forbear pressing his two brave
friends to his bosom; the Spaniards and the Russian
sailors crowded round for a farewell shake of the hand, and
little Nina, her great eyes flooded with tears, held up her
face for a parting kiss. .The sad scene was not permitted
to be long. The sail was quickly hoisted, and the sledge,
just as if it had expanded a huge white wing, was in a
little while carried far away beyond the horizon.
Light and unimpeded, the yawl scudded on with
incredible speed. Two sails, a brigantine and a jib, were
arranged to catch the wind to the greatest advantage, and
the travellers estimated that their progress would be little
Count Timascheff could not forbear pressing his Two Brave Friends to
A SLEDGE-RIDE. 187
under the rate of twelve leagues an hour. The motion of
their novel vehicle was singularly gentle, the oscillation
being less than that of an ordinary railway-carriage, while
the diminished force of gravity contributed to the swift-
ness. Except that the clouds of ice-dust raised by the
metal runners were an evidence that they had not actually
left the level surface of the ice, the captain and lieutenant
might again and again have imagined that they were being
conveyed through the air in a balloon.
Lieutenant Procope, with his head all muffled up for
fear of frost-bite, took an occasional peep through an
aperture that had been intentionally left in the roof, and
by the help of a compass, maintained a proper and straight
course for Formentera. Nothing could be more dejected
than the aspect of that frozen sea; not a single living
creature relieved the solitude ; both the travellers, Procope
from a scientific point of view, Servadac from an esthetic,
were alike impressed by the solemnity of the scene, and
when the lengthened shadow of the sail cast upon the ice
by the oblique rays of the setting sun had disappeared,
and day had given place to night, the two men, drawn
together as by an involuntary impulse, mutually held each
otherâ€™s hands in silence.
There had been a new moon on the previous evening ;
but, in the absence of moonlight, the constellations shone
with remarkable brilliancy. The new pole-star close upon
the horizon was resplendent, and even had Lieutenant
Procope been destitute of a compass, he would have
had no difficulty in holding his course by the guidance of
that alone. However great was the distance that separated
Gallia from the sun, it was after all manifestly insignificant
in comparison with the remoteness of the nearest of the
Observing that Servadac was completely absorbed in
his own thoughts, Lieutenant Procope had leisure to con-
template some of the present perplexing problems, and to
ponder over the true astronomical position. The last of
the three mysterious documents had represented that
188 IIECTOR SERVADAC, â€œ
Gallia, in conformity with Keplerâ€™s second law, had travel-
led along her orbit during the month of March twenty
millions of leagues less than she had done in. the previous
month ; yet, in the same time, her distance from the sun
had nevertheless been increased by thirty-two millions of
leagues. She was now, therefore, in the centre of the zone
of telescopic planets that revolve between the orbits of
Mars and Jupiter, and had captured for herself a satellite
which, according to the document, was Nerina, one of the
asteroids most recently identified. If thus, then, it was
within the power of the unknown writer to estimate with
such apparent certainty Galliaâ€™s exact position, was it not
likely that his mathematical calculations would enable him
to arrive at some definite conclusion as to the date at
which she would begin again to approach the sun? Nay,
was it not to be expected that he had already estimated,
with sufficient approximation to truth, what was to be the
true length of the Gallian year ?
Se intently had they each separately been following
their own train of thought, that daylight re-appeared
almost before the travellers: were aware of it. On con-
sulting their instruments, they found that they must have
travelled close upon a hundred leagues â€˜since they started,
and they resolved to slacken their speed. The sails were
accordingly taken in a little, and in spite of the intensity
of the cold, the explorers ventured out of their shelter, in
order that they might reconnoitre the plain, which was
apparently as boundless as ever. It was completely
desert ; not so much as a single point of rock relieved the
bare uniformity of its surface.
â€œ Are we not considerably to the west of Formentera?â€
asked Servadac, after examining the chart.
â€œMost likely,â€ replied Procope. â€œI have taken the
same course as I should have done at sea, and I have kept
some distance to windward of the island; we can bear
straight down upon it whenever we like.â€
â€œ Bear down then, now ; and as quickly as you can.â€
The yawl was at once put with her head to the north-
* Look, look |â€
A SLEDGE-RIDE. 189
east, and Captain Servadac, in defiance of the icy blast,
remained standing at the bow, his gaze fixed on the
All at once his eye brightened.
â€œLook, look!â€ he exclaimed, pointing to a faint out-
line that broke the monotony of the circle that divided the
plain from the sky.
In an instant the lieutenant had seized his telescope.
â€œT see what you mean,â€ said he; â€œit is a pylone that
has been used for some geodesic survey.â€
The next moment the sail was filled, and the yawl was
bearing down upon the object with inconceivable swiftness,
both Captain Servadac and the lieutenant too excited to
utter a word. Mile after mile the distance rapidly grew
less, and as they drew nearer the pylone they could see
that it was erected on a low mass of rocks that was the
sole interruption to the dull level of the field of ice. No
wreath of smoke rose above the little island; it was
manifestly impossible, they conceived, that any humar
being could there have survived the cold; the sad pre-
sentiment forced itself-upon their minds that it was a mere
cairn to which they had been hurrying.
Ten minutes later, and they were so near the rock that
the lieutenant took in his sail, convinced that the impetus
already attained would be sufficient. to carry him to the
land. Servadacâ€™s heart bounded as he caught sight of a
fragment of blue canvas fluttering in the wind from the top
of the pylone:. it was all that now remained of the
French national standard. At the foot of the pylone
stood a miserable shed, its shutters tightly closed. No
other habitation was to be seen; the entire island was less
than a quarter of a mile in circumference; and the con-
clusion was irresistible that it was the sole surviving
remnant of Formentera, once a member of the Balearic
To leap on shore, to clamber over the slippery stones,
and to reach the cabin was but the work of a few moments.
The worm-eaten door was bolted on the inside. Servadac
190 HECTOR SERVADAC,.
began to knock with all his might. No answer. Neither
shouting nor knocking could draw forth a reply.
â€œLet us force it open, Procope !â€ he said.
The two men put their shoulders to the door, which
soon yielded to their vigourous efforts,.and they found
themselves inside the shed, and in almost total darkness.
By opening a shutter they admitted what daylight they
could. At first sight the wretched place seemed to be
deserted ; the little grate contained the ashes of a fire long
since extinguished; all looked black and desolate. Another
instantâ€™s investigation, however, revealed. a bed in the
extreme corner, and extended on the bed a human form.
â€œDead!â€ sighed Servadac ; â€œdead of cold and hunger !â€
Lieutenant Procope bent down and anxiously contem-
plated the body.
â€œNo; he is alive!â€ he said, and drawing a small flask
from his pocket he poured a few drops of brandy between
the lips of the senseless man.
There was a faint sigh, followed by a feeble voice, which
uttered the one wordâ€”
â€œYes, yes! Gallia!â€ echoed Servadac, eagerly.
â€œMy comet, my comet!â€ said the voice, so low as to. be
almost inaudible, and the unfortunate man relapsed again
into unconsciousness. â€˜
â€œWhere have I seen this man?â€ thought Servadac to
himself ; â€œ his face is strangely familiar toâ€™ me.â€
But it was no time for deliberation.. Not a moment
was to be lost in getting the unconscious astronomer away
from his desolate quarters. He was soon conveyed to the
yawl; his books, his scanty wardrobe, his papers, his
instruments, and the black board which had served for his
calculations, were quickly collected ; the wind, by a for-
tuitous Providence, had shifted into a favourable quarter ;
they set their sail with all speed, and ere long were on their
journey back from Formentera.
Thirty-six hours later, the brave travellers were greeted
by the acclamations of their fellow-colonists, who had been
66 No; he is alive !â€
A SLEDGE-RIDE. 191
most anxiously awaiting their re-appearance, and the still
senseless savant, who had neither opened his eyes nor
spoken a word throughout the journey, was safely de-
posited in the warmth and security of the great hall of
END OF FIRST PART.
( 195 )
By the return of the expedition, conveying its contribution
from Formentera, the known population of Gallia was
raised to a total of thirty-six.
On learning the details of his friendsâ€™ discoveries,
Count Timascheff did not hesitate in believing that the
exhausted: individual who was lying before him was the
author alike of the two unsigned documents picked up at
sea, and of the third statement so recently brought to
hand by the carrier-pigeon. Manifestly, he had arrived at
some knowledge of Galliaâ€™s movements: he had estimated
her distance from the sun; he had calculated the diminu-
tion of her tangential speed; but there was nothing to
show that he had arrived at the conclusions which were of
the most paramount interest to them all. Had he ascer-
tained the true character of her orbit? had he established
any data from which it would be possible to reckon what
time must elapse before she would again approach the
The only intelligible words which the astronomer had
uttered had been, â€œ My comet!â€
To what could the exclamation refer? Was it to be
conjectured that a fragment of the earth had been chipped
off by the collision of a comet? and if so, was it implied
that the name of the comet itself was Gallia, and were
they mistaken in supposing that such was the name given
196 HECTOR SERVADAC.
by the savant to the little world that had been so suddenly
launched into space? Again and again they discussed
these questions; but no satisfactory answer could be found.
The only man who was able to throw any light upon the
subject was lying amongst them in an unconscious and
Apart from motives of humanity, motives of self-
interest made it a matter of the deepest concern to restore
animation to that senseless form. Ben Zoof, after making
the encouraging remark that savanis have as many lives
as a cat, proceeded, with Negreteâ€™s assistance, to give the
body such a vigourous rubbing as would have threatened
serious injury to any ordinary mortal, whilst they ad-
ministered cordials and restoratives from the Dodrynaâ€™s
medical stores powerful enough, one might think, to rouse
the very dead.
Meanwhile the captain was racking his brain in his
exertions to recall what were the circumstances of his
previous acquaintance with the Frenchman upon whose
features he was gazing; he only grew more and more con-
vinced that he had once been familiar with them. Perhaps
it was not altogether surprising that he had almost. for-
gotten him ; he | had never seen him since the days of his
youth, that time of life which, with a certain show of justice,
has been termed the age of ingratitude; for, in point of
fact, the astronomer was none other than Professor
Palmyrin Rosette, Servadacâ€™s old science-master at the
After completing his year of elementary studies,
Hector Servadac had entered the school at Saint Cyr, and
from that time he and his former tutor had never met, so
that naturally they would well-nigh pass from each other's
recollection. One thing, however, on the other hand, might
conduce to a mutual and permanent impression on their
memories ; during the year at the LycÃ©e, young Servadac,
never of a very studious turn of mind, had contrived, as the
ringleader of a set of like calibre as himself, to lead the
poor professor a life of perpetual torment. If grains of
THE ASTRONOMER. 197
nitrous salts were surreptitiously mixed with the distilled
water in the laboratory so that various chemical experi-
ments terminated with the most unexpected results; if a
portion of quicksilver was extracted from the tube of the
barometer so that the instrument registered a condition of
things quite anomalous to the state of the atmosphere ; if
the thermometer was cunningly heated just at the very
moment when the professor was known to be going to
consult it; if living insects were found to be crawling be-
tween the lenses of the telescope; if the isolation of the
electric battery was clandestinely destroyed so that not a
spark could be elicited; if a hole infinitesimally small
was punctured in the pneumatic machine so that no per-
severance could exhaust the air; every trick was sure to
be traced to Servadac at the head of his mischievous
accomplices, whose enjoyment of the joke was intensified
to no small degree by the uncontrolled fury of the dis-
concerted professor. The little man on the discovery of
each delinquency would fume and rage in a manner that
was a source of unbounded delight to his audience.
Two years after Servadac left the LycÃ©e, Professor
Rosette had thrown up all educational employment in
order that he might devote himself entirely to the study
of astronomy. He endeavoured to obtain a post at the
Observatory, but his ungenial character was so well known
in scientific circles that he failed in his application; how-
ever, having some small private means, he determined on
his own account to carry on his researches without any
official salary. He had really considerable genius for the
science that he had adopted ; besides discovering three of
the latest of the telescopic planets, he had worked out the
elements of the three hundred and twenty-fifth comet in
the catalogue; but his chief delight was to criticize the
publications of other astronomers, and he was never better
pleased than when he detected a flaw in their reckonings.
When Ben Zoof and Negrete had extricated their
patient from the envelope of furs in which he had been
wrapped by Servadac and the lieutenant, they found them-
198 HECTOR SERVADAC.
selves face to face with a shrivelled little man, about five
feet two inches high, with a round bald head, smooth and
shiny as an ostrichâ€™s egg, no beard unless the unshorn
growth of a week could be so described, and a long hooked
nose that supported a huge pair of spectacles such as with
many near-sighted people seems to have become a part of
their individuality. His nervous system was remarkably
developed, and his body might not inaptly be compared to
one of the Rhumkorff bobbins of which the thread, several
hundred yards in length, is permeated throughout by
electric fluid. But whatever he was, his life, if possible,
must be preserved. When he had been partially divested
of his clothing, his heart was found to be still beating,
though very feebly. Asserting that while there was life
there was hope, Ben Zoof re-commenced his friction with
more vigour than ever, humming all the time (as though
he were polishing his sabre for parade) the military refrain:
** Au tripoli,* fils de la gloire,
Tu dois lâ€™Ã©clat de ton acier.â€
When the rubbing had been continued without a
momentâ€™s intermission for the best part of half an hour,
the astronomer heaved a faint sigh, which ere long was
followed by another and another. He half opened his
eyes, closed them again, then opened them completely, but
without exhibiting any consciousness whatever of his
situation. A few words seemed to escape his lips, but
they were quite unintelligible. Presently he raised his
right hand to his forehead as though instinctively feeling
for something that was missing ; then, all of a sudden, his
features became contracted, his face flushed with apparent
irritation, and he exclaimed fretfully :
â€œ My spectacles !â€”where are my spectacles ?â€
In order to facilitate his operations, Ben Zoof had
removed. the spectacles in spite of the tenacity with which
they seemed to adhere to the temples of his patient ; but
he now rapidly brought them back and re-adjusted them
* T:ipoli: a powder for polishing metals.
THE ASTRONOMER. 199
as best he could to what seemed to be their natural
position on the aquiline nose. The professor heaved a
long sigh of relief, and once more closed his eyes. -
Before long the astronomer roused himself a little
more, and glanced inquiringly about him, but soon relapsed
into his comatose condition.
: When next he opened his eyes, Captain Servadac hap-
pened to be bending down closely over him, examining his
features with curious scrutiny. The old man darted an
angry look at him through the spectacles, and_ said
â€œ Servadac, five hundred lines to-morrow !â€
It was an echo of days of old. The words were few,
but they were enough to recall the identity which Ser-
vadac was trying to make out. 24
â€œIs it possible?â€ he exclaimed. â€œHere is my old
tutor, Mr. Rosette, in very flesh and blood.â€
â€œCanâ€™t say much for the flesh,â€ muttered Ben Zoof.
The old man had again fallen back into a torpid
slumber. Ben Zoof continued :
â€œTis sleep is getting more composed. Let him alone;
he will come round yet. Havenâ€™t I heard of men more
dried up than he is, being brought all the way from Egypt
in cases covered with pictures ?â€ -
_ â€œYou idiot!â€”those were mummies; they had been
dead for ages.â€
Ben Zoof did not answer a word. He went on pre-
paring a warm bed, into which he managed to remove his
patient, who appeared very soon to fall into a calm and
Too impatient to await the awakening of the astro-
nomer and to hear what representations he had to make,
Servadac, the count, and the lieutenant, constituting them-
selves what might be designated â€œthe Academy of
Sciencesâ€ of the colony, spent the whole of the remainder
of the day in starting and discussing the wildest conjec-
tures about their situation. The hypothesis, to which they
had now accustomed themselves for so long, that a new
200 HECTOR SERVADAC,
asteroid had been formed by a fracture of the earthâ€™s sur-
face, seemed to fall to the ground when they found that
Professor Palmyrin Rosette had associated the name of
Gallia, not with their present home, but with what. he
called â€œmy comet;â€ and that theory being abandoned,
they were driven to make the most improbable specula-
tions to replace it.
Alluding to Rosette, Servadac took care to inform his
companions that, although the professor was always
eccentric, and at times very irascible, yet he was really
exceedingly good-hearted ; his bark was worse than his
bite ; and if suffered to take their course without observa-
tion, his outbreaks of ill-temper seldom lasted long.
â€œWe will certainly do our best to get on with him,â€
said the count. â€œ He is no doubt the author of the papers,
and we must hope that he will be able to give us some
â€œBeyond a question the documents have originated
with him,â€ assented the lieutenant. â€œGallia was the word
written at the top of every one of them, and Gallia was
the first word uttered by him in our hearing.â€
The astronomer slept on. Meanwhile, the three
together had no hesitation in examining his papers, and
scrutinizing the figures on his extemporized black board.
The handwriting corresponded with that of the papers
already received ; the black board was covered with alge-
braical symbols traced in chalk, which they were â€˜careful
not to obliterate ; and the papers, which consisted for the
most part of detached scraps, presented a perfect wilder-
ness of geometrical figures, conic sections of every variety
being repeated in countless profusion.
Lieutenant Procope pointed out that these curves
evidently had reference:to the orbits of comets, which are
variously parabolic, hyperbolic, or elliptic. If either of
the first two, the comet, after once appearing within the
range of terrestrial vision, would vanish for ever in the
outlying regions. of space; if the last, it would be sure,
sooner or-later, after some periodic interval, to return.
6Â¢Servadac, Five Hundred Lines to-morrow !â€â€
THE ASTRONOMER. 201
From the primd facie appearance of his papers, then, it
seemed probable that the astronomer, during his sojourn
at Formentera, had been devoting himself to the study of
cometary orbits; and as calculations of this kind are
ordinarily based upon the assumption that the orbit is a
parabola, it was not unlikely that he had been endeavour-
ing to trace the path of some particular comet.
â€œI wonder whether these calculations were made
before or after the Ist of January: it makes all the dif-
ference,â€ said Lieutenant Procope.
â€œWe must bide our time and hear,â€ replied the count.
Servadac paced restlessly up and down..
â€œJT would give a month of my life,â€ he cried, impetu-
ously, â€œfor every hour that the old fellow: goes. sleeping
â€œYou might be making a bad bargain,â€ said Procope,
smiling. â€œ Perhaps after all the comet has had nothing to
do with the convulsion that we have experienced.â€
â€œNonsense!â€ exclaimed the captain ; â€œI know better
than that, and so do you. Is it not as clear as daylight
that the earth and this comet have been in collision, and
the result has been that our little world has been split off
and sent flying far into space ?â€
Count Timascheff and the lieutenant eke at each
other in silence.
â€œT do not deny your theory,â€ said Bisconk after a
while. â€œIf it be correct, I suppose we must conclude that
the enormous disc we observed on the night of the catas-
trophe was the comet itself; and the velocity with which
it was travelling must have been so great that it was
hardly arrested at all by the attraction of the earth.â€
â€œPlausible enough,â€ answered Count Timascheff ; â€œand
it is to this comet that our scientific friend here has given
the name of Gallia.â€
It still remained a puzzle to them all why the astro-
nomer should apparently be interested in the comet so
much more than in the new little world in which their
strange lot was cast.
202 HECTOR SERVADAC,
â€œCan you explain this ?â€ asked the count.
â€œThere is no accounting for the freaks of philosophers,
you know,â€ said Servadac ; â€œand have I not told you that
this philosopher in particular is one of the most eccentric
beings in creation ?â€
â€œ Besides,â€ added the lieutenant, â€œit is exceedingly
likely that his observations had been going on for some
considerable period before the convulsion happened.â€
Thus, the general conclusion arrived at by the Gallian
Academy of Science was this: That on the night of the
31st of December, a comet, crossing the ecliptic, had come
into collision with the earth, and that the violence of the
shock had separated a huge fragment from the globe, which
fragment from that date had been traversing the remote
â€œPalmyrin Rosette would doubtless confirm their solu-
tion of the phenomenon,
( 203 )
To the general population of the colony the arrival of the
stranger was a matter of small interest. The Spaniards
were naturally too indolent to be affected in any way
by an incident that concerned themselves so remotely ;
while the Russians felt themselves simply reliant on
their master, and as long as they were with him
were careless as to where or how they spent their days.
Everything went on with them in an accustomed routine ;
and they lay down night after night, and awoke to their
avocations morning after morning, just as if nothing extra-
ordinary had occurred.
All night long Ben Zoof would not leave the professor's
bedside. He had constituted himself sick nurse, and con-
sidered his reputation at stake if he failed to set his patient
on his feet again. He watched every movement, listened
to every breath, and never failed to administer the strongest
cordials upon the slightest pretext. Even in his sleep
Rosetteâ€™s irritable nature revealed itself. Ever and again,
sometimes in a tone of uneasiness, and sometimes with the
expression of positive anger, the name of Gallia escaped
hhis lips, as though he were dreaming that his claim to the
discovery of the comet was being contested or denied ; but
although his attendant was on the alert to gather all he
could, he was able to catch nothing in the incoherent
sentences that served to throw any real light upon the
problem that they were all eager to solve,
204 HECTOR SERVADAC,
Gradually, however, the uneasy murmurings subsided,
and gave place to snores, deep and sonorous, which
augured favourably for an ultimate recovery.
When the sun re-appeared on the western horizon the
professor was still sound asleep ; and Ben Zoof, who was
especially anxious that the repose which promised to be
so beneficial should not be disturbed, felt- considerable
annoyance at hearing a loud knocking, evidently of some
blunt heavy instrument against a door that had been
placed at the entrance of the gallery, more for the purpose
of retaining internal warmth than for guarding against
intrusion from without. The first thought of the orderly
â€˜was that he would leave his patient and go to ascertain
the cause of the disturbance, but finding that the noise
had ceased, and remembering that there were others at
â€˜hand to attend to the door, he resolved to remain where
It was not very. long, however, before the knocking
-began again. Ben Zoof waited. and waited on, in the
â€˜expectation that the noise would attract attention else-
â€˜where; but the sleep of the inmates of Ninaâ€™s Hive was
-too: profound. to be broken. :
The knocking still went on.
. Confound it!â€ said Ben Zoof. â€œI must put a stop to
this ;â€ and he made his way towards the door.
" ' Who s there ?â€ he cried, in no very amiable tone.
â€œJT,â€ replied a quavering voice.
< Who are you ?.â€
â€œTsaac;Hakkabut, Let me in; do, please, let me in.â€
â€œOh, it is you, old Ashtaroth, is it? What do you
want ?. Canâ€™t you get anybody to buy your stuffs ?â€
â€œ Nobody will pay me a proper price.â€
â€œWell, old Shimei, you wonâ€™t find a customer here.
You had better be off.â€
â€œNo; but do, pleaseâ€”do, please, let me in,â€ suppli-
cated the Jew. â€œI want to speak to his Excellency, the
â€œ The governour is in bed, and asleep.â€
â€˜* Let me in; do, please, let me in.â€
A REVELATION. 205
â€œT can wait until he awakes.â€
â€œThen wait where you are.â€
And with this inhospitable rejoinder the orderly was
about to return to his place at the side of his patient, when
Servadac, who had been roused by the sound of voices,
â€œ Whatâ€™s the matter, Ben Zoof?â€
â€œOh, ncthing, sir; only that hound of a Hakkabut
says he wants to speak to you.â€
â€œLet him in, then.â€
Ben Zoof hesitated.
â€œLet him in, I say,â€ repeated the captain, peremptorily.
However reluctantly, Ben Zoof obeyed.
The door was unfastened, and Isaac Hakkabut,
enveloped in an old overcoat, shuffled into the gallery.
In a few moments Servadac approached, and the Jew
began to overwhelm him with the most obsequious epi-
thets. Without vouchsafing any reply, the captain
beckoned to the old man to follow him,. and leading the
way to the central hall, stopped, and turning so as to look
him steadily in the face, said :
â€œNow is your opportunity. Tell me what you want.â€
â€œOh, my lord, my lord,â€ whined Isaac, â€œyou must have
some news to tell me.â€
â€œNews? What do you mean ?â€
â€œFrom my little tartan yonder, I saw the yawl go out
from the rock here on a journey, and I saw it come back,
and it brought a stranger ; and I thoughtâ€”I thoughtâ€”I
a â€˜Well, you east did you think?â€
Why, that perhaps the stranger had come trom the
northern shores of the Mediterranean, and that I might
ask himâ€”â€” â€
He paused again, and gave an inquiring glance at the
â€œAsk him what? Speak out, man?â€
â€œAsk him if he brings any tidings of Europe,â€ Hak-
kabut blurted out at last.
200 _ HECTOR SERVADAC.
Servadac shrugged his shoulders in contempt and
turned away. Here was a man who had been resident
three months in Gallia, a living witness of all the abnormal
phenomena that had occurred, and yet refusing to believe
that his hope of making good bargains with European
traders was at an end. Surely nothing, thought the
captain, will convince the old rascal now; and he moved
off in disgust. The orderly, however, who had listened
with much amusement, was by no means disinclined for
the conversation to be continued.
â€œ Are you satisfied, old Ezekiel?â€ he asked.
â€œTsnâ€™t it so? Am I not right? Didnâ€™t a stranger
arrive here last night ?â€ inquired the Jew.
â€œ Yes, quite true.â€
â€œFrom the Balearic Isles.â€
â€œThe Balearic Isles?â€ echoed Isaac.
â€œFine quarters for trade! Hardly five and twenty
leagues from Spain! He must. have brought news from
â€œ Well, old Manasseh, what if he has?â€
â€œT should like to see him.â€
The Jew sidled close up to Ben Zoof, and laying his
hand on his arm, said in a low and insinuating tone:
â€œT am poor, you know; but I would give you a few
reals if you would let me talk to this stranger.â€
But as if he thought he was making too liberal an
offer, he added:
â€œ Only it must be at once.â€
â€œHe is too tired; he is worn out ; he is fast asleep,â€
answered Ben Zoof.
â€œ But I would pay you to wake him.â€
The captain had overheard the tenour of the con-
versation, and interposed sternly :
â€œHakkabut! if you make the least attempt to disturb
our visitor, I shall have you turned outside that door im-
Servadac shrugged his Shoulders in contempt and turned away.
A REVELATION. 207
â€œNo offence, my lord, I hope,â€ stammered out the Jew.
*T only meant....â€
â€œSilence!â€ shouted Servadac. Â©
The old man hung his head, abashed.
â€œT will tell you what,â€ said Servadac after a brief
interval ; â€œI will give you leave to hear what this stranger
has to tell as soon as he is able to tell us anything ; at
present we have not heard a word from his lips.â€
The Jew looked perplexed.
â€œYes,â€ said Servadac; â€œwhen we hear his story, you
shall hear it too.â€
â€œAnd I hope it will be to your liking, old Ezekiel!â€
added Ben Zoof in a voice of irony.
They had none of them long to wait, for within a few
minutes Rosetteâ€™s peevish voice was heard calling :
The professor did not open his eyes, and appeared to
be slumbering on, but very shortly afterwards called out
â€œJoseph! Confound the fellow! where is he?â€
It was evident that he was half dreaming about a
former servant now far away on the ancient globe.
â€œWhereâ€™s my black board, Joseph ?â€
â€œ Quite safe, sir,â€ answered Ben Zoof, quickly.
Rosette unclosed his eyes and fixed them full upon the
â€œAre you Joseph?â€ he asked.
â€œAt your service, sir,â€ replied Ben Zoof with imper-
â€œThen get me my coffee, and be quick about it.â€
Ben Zoof left to go into the kitchen, and Servadac
approached the professor in order to assist him in rising to
a Sting. posture.
Â«Do you recognize your quondam pupil, professor ?â€
â€œAh, yes, yes; you are Servadac,â€ replied Rosette.
â€œTt is twelve years or more since I saw you; I hope you
208 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œQuite a reformed character, sir, I assure you,â€ said
â€œWell, thatâ€™s as it should be; thatâ€™s right,â€ said the
astronomer with fussy importance. â€œBut let me have my
coffee,â€ he added impatiently; â€œI cannot collect my
thoughts without my coffee.â€
Fortunately, Ben Zoof appeared with a great cup, hot
and strong. After draining it with much apparent relish,
the professor got out of bed, walked into the common hall,
round which he glanced with a pre-occupied air, and pro-
ceeded to seat himself in an armchair, the most comfort-
able which the cabin of the Dodryna had supplied. Then,
in a voice full of satisfaction, and that involuntarily
recalled the exclamations of delight that had wound up
the two first of the mysterious documents that had been
received, he burst out :
â€œ Well, gentlemen, what do you think of Gallia ?â€
There was no time for any one to make a reply before
Isaac Hakkabut had darted forward.
â€œBy the God....â€
â€œWho is that ?â€ asked the startled professor ; and he
frowned, and made a gesture of repugnance.
Regardless of the efforts that were made to silence
him, the Jew continued :
â€œBy the God of Abraham, I beseech you, give me
some tidings of Europe!â€
â€œEurope?â€ shouted the professor, springing from his
seat as if he were electrified ; â€œwhat does the man want
â€œTI want to get there!â€ screeched the Jew; and in
spite of every exertion to get him away, he clung most
tenacious'y to the professorâ€™s chair, and again and again
implored for news of Europe.
Rosette made no immediate reply. After a moment
or twoâ€™s reflection, he turned to Servadac and asked him
whether it was not the middle of April.
â€œTt is the twentieth,â€ answered the captain.
â€œThen to-day,â€ said the astronomer, speaking with the
Ben Zoof appeared with a Great Cup, Hot and Strong.
A REVELATION. 209
greatest deliberationâ€”â€œ to-day we are just three millions
of leagues away from Europe.
The Jew was utterly crestfallen.
â€œ You seem here,â€ continued the proâ€˜sessor, â€œ to be very
ignorant of the state of things.â€
â€œ How far we are ignorant,â€ rejoined Servadac, â€œI can-
not tell. But I will tell you all that we do know, and all
that we have surmised.â€
And as briefly as he could, he related all that had
happened since the memorable night of the thirty-first of
December ; how they had experienced the shock; how
the Dobryna had made her voyage; how they had dis-
covered nothing except the fragments of the old continent
at Tunis, Sardinia, Gibraltar, and now at Formentera; how
at intervals the three anonymous documents had been
received ; and, finally, how the settlement at Gourbi Island
had been-abandoned for their present quarters at Ninaâ€™s
The astronomer had hardly patience to hear him to
the end. s
â€œAnd what do you say is your surmise as to your
present position?â€ he asked.
_ â€œQur supposition,â€ the captain replied, â€œis this. We
imagine that we are on a considerable fragment of the
terrestrial globe that has been detached by collision with a
planet to which you appear to have given the name of
â€œBetter than that!â€ cried Rosette, starting to his feet
â€œHow? Why? What do you mean?â€ cried the voices
of the listeners.
â€œYou are correct to a certain degree,â€ continued the
professor. â€œIt is quite true that at 47' 35."6 after two
o'clock on the morning of the first of January there was
a collision; my comet grazed the earth; and the bits
of the earth which you have named were carried clean
They were all fairly bewildered.
210 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œWhere, then,â€ cried Servadac eagerly,â€œ where are
â€œYou are on my comet, on Gallia itself!â€
And the professor gazed around him with a perfect air
*â€˜ You are on my Comet, on Gallia itself
: ( 2iT)
COMETS, OLD AND NEW.
AS if moved by some unconscious presentiment of his
future destiny, Professor Palmyrin Rosette had always
evidenced a strong predilection for the study of comets.
He had based his opinions on the best authorities, and was
never more in his element than when he was expatiating
on his favourite theme as he presided at some astronomical
â€œComets, gentlemen,â€ he would say, â€œare nebulous
bodies which occasionally appear in the heavens, consisting
ordinarily of a bright central light called the cleus, and
in the more conspicuous cases accompanied by a long trail
of light called the Â¢azZ. Owing to the great eccentricity of
their orbits, they are visible to the earth during only a
portion of their course.â€
The professor never failed to point out the two charac-
teristics by which they were to be distinguished from other
heavenly bodies :
â€œAlthough these comets, gentlemen, may be deficient
either with respect to the luminous tail or to the nebulous
coma, the progressive motion with which they are endued
prevents them from ever being mistaken for fixed stars,
while the extreme length of the cllipses which they
describe makes it impossible to confound them with
During the long years of the astronomerâ€™s.application
to his fascinating study, he had composed an elaborate
212 HECTOR SERVADAC.
treatise, exhibiting the results of all his investigations, and
when, after the sudden convulsion, he found himself
actually upon the surface of one of the very bodies the
properties of which had engrossed so much of his interest,
it was necessarily a disappointment to feel that, alone upon
Formentera, he had no audience to whom he could address
The treatise which Rosette had compiled had been
arranged under four distinct heads :
1. The number of comets.
2. Periodic and non-periodic comets.
3. The probability of collision between a comet and
4. The consequences of such a collision.
First : with respect to the number of comets, the
professor had recorded that, according to Arago, who
grounded his estimate on the number that revolve between
Mercury and the sun, there are at least 17,000,000 of these
luminous bodies in our solar system; whilst Lambert asserts
that within the orbit of Saturn, that is, within a radius of
872,135,000 miles, there are no less then 500,000,000.
According to Kepler, two hundred years previously, the
number of comets can only be compared to the fishes in
the sea, and in following out his simile he declares that an
angler throwing out his line from the surface of the sun
could not fail to touch several of them; and now in recent
times a computation has been made that their aggregate
reaches a total of 74,000,000,000 distinct comets. The
truth seems to be that their number really sets all calcula-
tion at defiance ; so erratic, moreover, are their movements,
that they sometimes pass from system to system, and
whilst some, entirely escaping the influence of the sun,
vanish, to find a new centre of attraction, others never be-
fore observed make their appearance upon the terrestrial
Even the comets which belong exclusively to our own
system are by no means exempt from strange irregularities;
the orbits of several, ceasing to be ellipses, have become
Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope,
COMETS, OLD AND NEW. 213
parabolas or hyperbolas; and the planets, Jupiter in parti-
cular, have been observed to exercise a large disturbing
action upon their paths.
Secondly : under the head of periodic and non-periodic
comets, Professor Rosette had stated that as many as 500
or 600 comets have been made objects of careful astronomi-
cal investigation ; those being called â€œ periodicâ€ of which
the return at fixed intervals has been established as a
certainty ; those, on the other hand, being classed as â€œ non-
periodicâ€ which recede to such immeasurable distances
from the sun that it cannot be determined whether they
will return or not.
Of the periodic comets there are not more than forty
of which the times of their revolution have been ascertained
with exact precision; but of these there are ez, generally
known as the â€œshort-period comets,â€ the movements of
which have been established with the nicest accuracy.
The short-period comets are respectively called by the
names of their discoverers, and are comonly distinguished
as Halleyâ€™s comet, Enckeâ€™s, Gambartâ€™s or Bielaâ€™s, Fayeâ€™s,
Brorsenâ€™s, Dâ€™Arrestâ€™s, Tuttleâ€™s, Winneckeâ€™s, De Vicoâ€™s, and
Subjoined is a brief account of each of these in detail.
Halleyâ€™s comet is that which has-been the longest
known. It is supposed to be identical with the one which
was observed in the years 134 and 52 B.c., and afterwards
in the years 400, 855, 930, 1006, 1230, 1305, 1380, 1456,
153%, 1607, 1682, 1759, and 1835 A.D. It revolves from
east to west, in a direction contrary to the planets. The
intervals between its.consecutive appearances vary from 75
to 76 years, according as its course is less or more dis-
turbed by the attraction of Jupiter and Saturn, which
sometimes influence its course to such an extent as to
make a difference of 200 days in the period of its arrival.
The last appearance of this comet was in 1835, when Sir
John Herschel, at the Cape of Good Hope, a more favour-
able station for observation than any in the northern
hemisphere, was able to watch it until the end of March,
214 HECTOR SERVADAC,
1836, after which its distance from the earth rendered it
invisible. At its aphelion it is 3,200,000,000 miles from
the sun, that is to say, it is beyond the orbit of Neptune,
but at its perihelion it is less than 57,000,000 miles from
the sun, and consequently is nearer than the planet Venus.
Little did the professor dream, at the time when he
drew up his treatise, that his own Gallia would transport
him to a still closer proximity to the great luminary.
Enckeâ€™s comet has the shortest period of any, its
revolution being accomplished in about 1205 days, or less
than three years and a half. Unlike Halleyâ€™s, it moves
as the planets, from west to east. It was observed on the
26th of November, 1818, and a calculation of its elements
proved it to be identical with the comet of 1805. Accord-
ing to prediction, it was seen again in 1822, and since that
time has never failed in making its appearance at regular
intervals. Its orbit lies within that of Jupiter, and it never
recedes more than 387,000,000 miles from the sun, its
perihelion distance being only 32,090,000 miles, or less
than that of Mercury.
One important observation that has been made with
regard to Enckeâ€™s comet, places it beyond doubt that the
axis major of its elliptical orbit is gradually diminishing,
and consequently its average distance from the sun is
growing continuously less and less, so that the probability
arises that unless it is previously volatilized by the solar
heat, it may be ultimately absorbed in the sun itself.
Gambartâ€™s comet (otherwise known as Bielaâ€™s) was
noticed in 1772, 1789, 1795, and 1805; but it was not
until the 28th of February, 1826, that its elements were
satisfactorily determined. Its motion is direct, and its
period of revolution 2410 days, or about seven years. At
perihelion it passes 82,000,000 miles from the sun, rather
nearer than the earth; at aphelion it is beyond the orbit
A singular phenomenon with regard to Bielaâ€™s comet
was first observed in the year 1846: it appeared like a
double star, in two distinct fragments, doubtless sundered
COMETS, OLD AND NEW. 215
by the action of some internal force; these fragments
travelled together at an interval of about 160,000 miles
apart, but at the next appearance in 1852 this interval was
found â€˜to be largely increased.
Fayeâ€™s comet was discovered by him for the first time
on the 22nd of November, 1843. The elements of its
orbit were calculated, and it was predicted that it would
return again in 1851, after a period of 2718 days, or in
about seven years and a half. The prediction was realized;
the comet was visible at the time announced, and has
subsequently appeared at similar intervals. Its motion is
direct. At perihelion it is 192,000,000 miles from the sun,
never approaching so near as Mars; at aphelion it is
distant 603,000,000 miles, so that it recedes, like Bielaâ€™s
comet, beyond the pathway of Jupiter.
Brodrsenâ€™s comet was discovered on the 26th of February,
1846. Its movement is from west to east ; it accomplishes
its revolution in about 2042 days; its perihelion distance
is 64,000,000 miles, its aphelion 537,000,000 miles.
Of the other short-period comets, Dâ€™Arrestâ€™s, which in
1862 passed within 30,000,000 miles of the planet Jupiter,
completes its revolution in rather more than six years and
a half; Tuttleâ€™s revolves in thirteen years and eight
months; Winneckeâ€™s and Templeâ€™s in about five years and
a half; whilst that of De Vico, after being computed to
revolve in a period of rather more than five years, seems
to have wandered away altogether into space.
Then follows a short enumeration of some of the â€œ long-
The comet of 1556, commonly called the comet of
Charles-Quint, was expected again in 1860, but did not
The comet of 1680 furnished the data for Newtonâ€™s
cometary theories, and, according to Whiston, was the cause
of the deluge, on account of its close approximation to the
earth. Its revolution takes about 575 years, so that it was
visible in 1106 and 531, as well as in 43 B.c. and probably
in 619 B.C. At its perihelion it passes so near the sun that
216 HECTOR SERVADAC.
it receives 28,000 times more heat than the earth, that
is, it is 2000 times hotter than molten iron.
The comet of 1744 was by far the most brilliant of the
eighteenth century ; it was seen on the Ist of March in
full daylight, and had six tails, spread out like a fan across
a large space in the heavens.
The great comet of 1811, which has caused the year of
its appearance to be familiarly recognised as â€œthe comet-
year,â€ had a nucleus 2637 miles in diameter; its head
was 1,270,000 miles in diameter, and its tail 100,000,000
miles in length.
The comet of 1843, observed by Cassini, has been sup-
posed to be identical with that of 1658, 1494, and 1317,
but astronomers are not agreed upon the period of its
revolution. At its perihelion it passes nearer to the sun
than any other comet recorded in history, travelling at a
rate of more than 40,000 miles a second. The heat that it
thus receives is equal to that which 47,000 suns would
communicate to the earth, and to such a degree does this
prodigious temperature increase its density, that at its last
appearance its tail was visible in broad daylight.
Donatiâ€™s comet, which in 1858 shone with such brilliancy
amongst the northern constellations, has a mass that has
been estimated at â€˜07 of that of the earth.
The comet of 1862 was adorned with luminous tufts
or aigrettes, and resembled some fantastic mollusk.
The list is completed by the comet of 1868, the revolu-
tion of which occupies a period of no less than 2800
centuries, so that it may practically be considered as
having vanished in infinite space.
Thirdly: the next section of the professor's dissertation
was devoted to the probability of a collision between any
one of these numerous comets and the earth.
As represented in plane diagrams, the orbits of plane-
tary and cometary bodies appear continually to be inter-
secting one another; but in free space of three dimensions
this is by no means necessarily the case; the planes of the
orbits being inclined at various angles to the ecliptic, which
COMETS, OLD AND NEW. 217
is the plane of the terrestrial orbit. Nevertheless, out of the:
large number of comets, is it impossible that one of them
should come in contact with the earth?
In conducting this investigation, it had to be recollected
that as the earth never leaves the plane of the ecliptic,
three conditions must be fulfilled in order to bring about
the result of impact: first, the comet must meet the earth
in the ecliptic; secondly, the earth and the comet must
arrive at the point of intersection of their orbits at the
same moment; and thirdly, the distance between the
centres of the bodies themselves must be less than the sum
of their radii. The problem, therefore, resolved itself into
an inquiry whether these three conditions could occur
Laplace did not reject the possibility of such an en-
counter, and in his â€œ Exposition du Systeme du Mondeâ€
has at some length detailed the consequences. Arago,
when asked his opinion on the subject, replied that by
calculation there were 280,000,000 chances to I against
a collision. The illustrious astronomer, however, based his
estimate upon two conditions that are only fulfilled with
the greatest uncertainty; in the first place, that at peri-
helion the comet should be nearer the sun than the earth
is; and in the next, that the diameter of the comet should
be equal to one-fourth of that of the earth. On the other
hand, he only reckoned for the earth coming in contact
with the actual nucleus, whilst if the whole extent of the
nebulosity were to be taken into account, the chances of
collision would be increased tenfold.
In enunciating his problem, Arago adds:
â€œIf we take it for granted that the result of a comet
running foul of the earth would be the total annihilation of
the human race, then the risk of death which each in-
dividual incurs from the probability of such a catastrophe
is just what would be his chance of drawing, at the first
draw, the only white ball out of an urn containing
280,000,000 coloured ones.â€ So remote appear the chances
218 HECTOR SERVADAC.
All astronomers, moreover, concur in distinctly denying
that any such collision has ever happened. Arago asserts
that if it had happened, the consequences would have been
an immediate alteration in the earthâ€™s axis of rotation,
and a general disturbance of terrestrial latitudes; but he
alleges no evidence in proof of his assertion. He speaks,
however, much more to the purpose when he declares that
â€œthe theory held by some, that the depression of the
Caspian Sea 300 feet below the level of the ocean is to be
attributed to the shock of a comet, is utterly untenable.â€
But the matter under consideration was not whether
collision had ever occurred, but whether it ever could
Now in 1832, at the re-appearance of Gambartâ€™s comet,
the world was thrown into some alarm because it was
announced as the result of astronomical calculations, that
at the time of the passage of the comet through its de-
scending node on the 29th of October, the earth would be
travelling precisely in the same region. Contact seemed
not only probable but inevitable, if Olbersâ€™ observation was
correct, that the radius of the comet was five times as large
as that of the earth. Happily, however, the earth did not
arrive at that point of the ecliptic until the 30th of
November, by which time the comet was more than
50,000,000 miles away. But supposing that the earth had
reached that place of intersection of the two orbits a
month sooner, or the comet a month later, it is hard to
say what could have obviated the likelihood of collision.
At the very least, some singular perturbations must have
ensued. In 1805 indeed, this identical comet had passed
within 6,000,000 miles of the earth, ten times closer than
in 1832, but as its proximity was unknown, the fact did
not excite any panic.
Again in 1843 there seemed reasonable ground for fear
that the atmosphere of the earth would be vitiated by
passing through the nebulous tail of a comet 150,000,000
miles in length.
Altogether, therefore, from the entire evidence, it ap-
COMETS, OLD AND NEW. 219
peared a necessary inference that collision between the
earth and a comet was by no means impossible.
Fourthly, then, Professor Rosette had to discuss the
remaining question to bring his treatise to a close; as to
the probable consequences of such a collision.
These consequences would manifestly vary according
as the comet had or had not a nucleus. As some fruits
have no kernel, so some comets have no nucleus, and such
is the tenuity of their substance, that stars of the tenth
magnitude have been seen through them without any
sensible diminution of light. It is a property that must
make their external form very susceptible of change, and
tends in a degree to make them difficult of recognition.
The same transparency characterises the tail, the develop-
ment of which is apparently due entirely to the evapora-
tion of the coma under the action of solar heat ; in proof
of which it is notified that no tail, either single or multiple,
has ever been found attached to a comet until that comet
has arrived within 80,000,000 miles of the sun; whilst it
has been observed that some comets, presumably com-
posed of denser structure, have emitted no tail at all.
In the case of the earth coming into contact with a
comet destitute of a nucleus, there would be no violent
collision ; strictly speaking, there would -be no shock at
all. The-astronomer Faye asserts that a cannon ball
would find more resistance in a cobweb than in the
nebulous parts of a comet ; and for the nebulous matter to
be injurious, it must either be incandescent, in which case
it would scorch up the surface of the: earth, or it must be
impregnated with noxious elements, in which case it might
be fatally destructive to life. This latter contingency,
however, is unlikely to arise; for, according to Babinet,
the earthâ€™s atmosphere possesses sufficient density of its
own to resist the penetration of any cometary vapours, of
which the tenuity is so slight, that Newton has calculated
that if a comet, without a nucleus, 1,000,000,000 miles in
radius, were reduced to the density of the air at the earth's
surface, it might all.be contained in a thimble less than an
inch in diameter.
220 HECTOR SERVADAC,
Concluding thus that from comets purely nebulous
there was a minimum of danger to be apprehended, the
professor proceeded to inquire what would be the result of
concussion if the comet consisted of a solid nucleus.
First of all, however, rises the preliminary question
whether in any case the nucleus of a comet is really solid.
There can be no doubt that if a comet can attain a degree
of concentration sufficient to pass out of its gaseous con-
dition, it will, if interposed between the earth and a star,
make an occultation of that star. No sound reliance is to
be placed on testimony such as that of Anaxagoras, who,
living in the time of Xerxes, about the year 480 B.c.,
recorded that the sun was eclipsed by a comet ; nor on that
of Dion, who maintains that a similar. eclipse occurred a
-few days before the death of Augustus, which could not be
occasioned by the moon, then in direct opposition. Modern
science has, with more than sufficient justice, entirely
repudiated the accuracy of these statements; but the in-
disputable testimony of recent observation all goes to
establish the certainty of the existence of comets with a
solid nucleus. The comets of 1774 and of 1828 are known
to have caused the occultation of stars of the eighth mag-
nitude; it is admitted on all hands that the comets of
1402, 1532, and 1744 were solid masses ; whilst, as for the
comet of 1843, the fact is patent to the world that the
body could be seen close to the sun, in broad daylight, by
the naked eye.
Not only, therefore, do they exist, but in some cases
these solid nuclei have been actually measured. Their
diameters vary considerably in length; that of Gambartâ€™s
comet being only 30 or 40 miles, that of the comet of 1845
being 8800 miles, considerably longer than the diameter of
the earth, so that in the event of a collision between the
two bodies, the preponderance would have been on the
side of the comet. The nebulous surroundings have also,
in a variety of instances, been measured, and found to vary
from 200,000 to 1,000,000 miles in diameter.
Upon the whole, modern investigation bears out the
COMETS, OLD AND NEW. 221
general statement of M. Arago that there are three kinds
of comets; that is to say, comets without any nucleus;
comets with a transparent nucleus ; oe comets with a
nucleus both solid and opaque.
It had to be borne in mind that without any actual
shock by collision, the mere proximity of a comet to the
earth might entail some very singular phenomena. Not
that from a comet of inferior mass any serious conse-
quences could be expected, for the comet of 1770, which ap-
proached within 1,600,000 miles of the earth, did not affect
the length of the terrestrial year a single second, although
the action of the earth retarded the period of the cometâ€™s
revolution by three whole days. But if the mass of the two
bodies were equal, and if the comet passed within 150,000
miles of the earth, the result would be that the terrestrial
year would be prolonged by sixteen hours and five
minutes, and the obliquity of the ecliptic altered by two
degrees, to say nothing of the chance. that the comet
might capture the moon in its passage.
What, finally, would happen in the event of the one
body actually impinging on the other? The consequences,
manifestly, would be far more considerable. Either the
comet, in grazing the earthâ€™s surface, would leave behind
it a fragment detached from itself, or it-would carry off
with itself a fragment detached from the earth. If, instead
of being oblique, the impact should be direct, there would
at least be a rupture of continents, even if the globe were
not shivered into pieces.
In any case, the tangential velocity of the earth must
receive a sudden check or a sudden impulse; trees, houses,
living creatures, would be precipitated backwards or for-
wards with increased momentum ; the seas, dashed from
their natural basins, would overwhelm all that lay in the
path of their projection ; the central forces of the globe,
still in their normal state of fusion, would be propelled to
the surface; the terrestrial axis would undergo a change
in its direction, so that a new equator would be estab-
lished, and as the conditions of ecuilibrium would be
222 HECTOR SERVADAC,
disturbed, there might be nothing properly to counter-
balance the attraction of the sun, the consequence of
which, by the law of gravity, would be that the earth,
drawn perpetually on in a straight line, in the space of
sixty-four days and a half would be absorbed into the
elements of the great central luminary of the system.
One speculation there was which to the last remained
doubtful; whether, according to Tyndallâ€™s theory that
heat is only a form of motion, the velocity of the earth
would not, under the sudden elevation of the temperature,
mechanically transform itself into heat so intense, that
through ms action, the earth itself, in the course of a few
seconds, would be completely volatilized.
Such were the deductions of Palmyrin Rosetteâ€™s
treatise, which he brought to a conclusion by a repetition
of the philosopherâ€™s comforting assurance, that the chances
were as 280,000,000 to I against the occurrence of any
How little could the professor, as he tabulated his
scientific notes, anticipate his experiences in the future,
with regard to his own Gallia!
How little could he foresee, that at some future sÃ©ance,
he would be in the position to say :
â€œYou see, gentlemen, that we have drawn the one
white ball from the urn!â€
( 223 )
TIIE PROFESSORâ€™S EXPERIENCES.
â€œYES, my comet!â€ repeated the professor, and from time
to time he knitted his brows, and looked around him with
a defiant air, as though he could not get rid of the im-
pression that some one was laying an unwarranted claim
to its proprietorship, or that the individuals before him
were intruders upon his own proper domain.
But for a considerable while, Servadac, the count, and
the lieutenant remained silent and sunk in thought. Here
then, at last, was the unriddling of the enigma they had
been so long endeavouring to solve ; both the hypotheses
they had formed in succession had now to give way before
the announcement of the real truth. The first supposition,
that the rotatory axis of the earth had been subject to
some accidental modification, and the conjecture that
replaced it, namely, that a certain portion of the terrestrial
sphere had been splintered off and carried into space, had
both now to yield to the representation that the earth had
been grazed by an unknown comet, which had caught up
some scattered fragments from its surface, and was bearing
them far away into sidereal regions. Unfolded lay the
past and the present before them ; but this only served to
awaken a keener interest about the future. Could the
professor throw any light upon that? they longed to
inquire, but did not yet venture to ask him.
- Meanwhile Rosette assumed a pompous professional
224 HECTOR SERVADAC,
air, and appeared to be waiting for the entire party to be
ceremoniously introduced to him. Nothing unwilling to
humour the vanity of the eccentric little man, Servadac
proceeded to go through the expected formalities.
â€œ Allow me to present to you my excellent friend, the
Count Timascheff,â€ he said.
â€œYou are very welcome,â€ said Rosette, bowing to the
count with a smile of condescension.
â€œAlthough I am not precisely a voluntary resident on
your comet, Mr. Professor, I beg to acknowledge your
courteous reception,â€ gravely responded Timascheff.
Servadac could not quite conceal his amusement at
the countâ€™s irony, but continued :
â€œThis is Lieutenant Procope, the officer in command of
The professor bowed again in frigid dignity.
â€œHis yacht has conveyed us right round Gallia,â€ added
â€œRound Gallia?â€ eagerly exclaimed the professor.
â€œYes, entirely round it,â€™ answered Servadac, and with-
out allowing time for reply, proceeded :
â€œAnd this is my orderly, Ben Zoof.â€
â€œ Aide-de-camp to his Excellency the Governour of
Gallia,â€ interposed Ben Zoof himself, anxious to main-
tain his masterâ€™s honour as well as his own.
Rosette scarcely bent his head.
The rest of the population of the Hive were all pre-
sented in succession: the Russian sailors, the Spaniards,
young Pablo, and little Nina, on whom the professor,
evidently no lover of children, glared fiercely through his
formidable spectacles. Isaac Hakkabut, after his intro
duction, begged to be allowed to ask one question.
â€œ How soon may we hope to get back?â€ he inquired,
â€œGet back!â€ rejoined Rosette, sharply ; â€œ who talks of
getting back? We have hardly started yet.â€
Seeing that the professor was inclined to get angry,
Captain Servadac adroitly gave a new turn to the con
** You are very welcome.â€™?
THE PROFESSORâ€™S EXPERIENCES. 225
versation by asking him whether he would gratify them
by relating his own recent experiences. The astronomer
seemed pleased with the proposal, and at once commenced
a verbose and somewhat circumlocutory address, of which
the following summary presents the main features.
The French Government, being desirous of verifying
the measurement already made of the arc of the meridian
of Paris, appointed a scientific commission for that pur-
pose. From that commission the name of Palmyrin
Rosette was omitted, apparently for no other reason than
his personal unpopularity. Furious at the slight, the pro-
fessor resolved to set to work independently on his own
account, and declaring that there were inaccuracies in the
previous geodesic operations, he determined to re-examine
the results of the last triangulation which had united
Formentera to the Spanish coast by a triangle, one of
the sides of which measured over a hundred miles, the
very operation which had already been so successfully
accomplished by Arago and Biot.
Accordingly, leaving Paris for the Balearic Isles, he
placed his observatory on the highest point of Formentera,
and accompanied as he was only by his servant, Joseph,
led the life of a recluse. He secured the services of a
former assistant, and despatched him to a high peak on
the coast of Spain, where he had to superintend a rever-
berator, which, with the aid of a glass, could be seen from
Formentera. A few books and instruments, and two
monthsâ€™ victuals, was all the baggage he took with him,
except an excellent astronomical telescope, which was,
indeed, almost part and parcel of himself, and with which
he assiduously scanned the heavens, in the sanguine antici-
pation of making some discovery which would immortalize
The task he had undertaken demanded the utmost
patience. Night after night, in order to fix the apex of
his triangle, he had to linger on the watch for the assist-
antâ€™s signal-light, but he did not forget that his prede-
cessors, Arago and Biot, had had to wait sixty-one days
226 HECTOR SERVADAC.
for a similar purpose. What retarded the work was the
dense fog which, it has been already mentioned, at that
time enveloped not only that part of Europe, but almost
the entire world.
Never failing to turn to the best advantage the few
intervals when the mist lifted a little, the astronomer would
at the same time cast an inquiring glance at the firma-
ment, as he was greatly interested in the revision of the
chart of the heavens, in the region contiguous to the
To the naked eye this. constellation consists of only
six stars, but through a telescope ten inches in diameter,
as many as six thousand are visible.â€™ Rosette, however,
did not possess a reflector of this magnitude, and was
obliged to content himself with the good but compara-
tively small instrument he had.
On one of these occasions, whilst carefully gauging the
recesses of Gemini, he espied a bright speck which was
unregistered in the chart, and which at first he took for
a small star that had escaped being entered in the cata-
logue. But the observation of a few separate nights soon
made it manifest that the star was rapidly changing its
position with regard to the adjacent stars, and the as-
tronomerâ€™s heart began to leap at the thought that the
renown of the discovery of a new planet would be associ-
ated with his name.
Redoubling his attention, he soon satisfied himself that
what he saw was not a planet ; the rapidity of its displace-
ment rather forced him to the conjecture that it must be
a comet, and this opinion was soon strengthened by the
appearance of a coma, and subsequently confirmed, as
the body approached the sun, by the development of a
A comet! The discovery was fatal to all further
progress in the triangulation. However conscientiously
the assistant on the Spanish coast might look to the
kindling of the beacon, Rosette had no â€˜glances to spare
for that direction; he had no eyes except for the one
Carefully gauging the Recesses of Gemini,
THE PROFESSORâ€™S EXPERIENCES. Â» 227
object of his notice, no thoughts apart from thatâ€™ one
quarter of the firmament.
A comet! No time must be lost in calculating its
Now, in order to calculate the elements of a comet,
it is always deemed the safest mode of procedure to
assume the orbit to be a parabola. Ordinarily, comets
are conspicuous at their perihelia, as being their shortest
distances from the sun, which is the focus of their orbit,
and inasmuch as a parabola is but an ellipse with its axis
indefinitely produced, for some short portion of its path-
way the orbit may be indifferently considered either one
or the other; but in this particular case the professor. was
right in adopting the supposition of its being parabolic.
Just as in a circle, it is necessary to know three points
to determine the circumference; so in ascertaining the
elements of a comet, three different positions must be
observed before what astronomers call its â€œ ephemerisâ€
can be established.
But Professor Rosette did not. content himself with
three positions; taking advantage of every rift in the fog
he made ten, twenty, thirty observations both in right
ascension and in declination, and succeeded in working
out with the most minute accuracy the five elements of the
comet which was evidently advancing with astounding
rapidity towards the earth.
These elements were :
1. The inclination of the plane of the cometary orbit
to the plane of the ecliptic, an angle which is generally
considerable, but in this case the planes were proved to
2. The position of the ascending node, or the point
where the comet crossed the terrestrial orbit.
These two elements being obtained, the position in
space of the cometâ€™s orbit was , determined.
3. The direction of the axis major of the orbit, which
was found by calculating the longitude of the cometâ€™s
228 HECTOR SERVADAC.
4. The perihelion distance from the sun, which settled
the precise form of the parabola.
5. The motion of the comet, as being retrograde, or,
unlike the planets, from east to west.*
Rosette thus found himself able to calculate the date
at which the comet would reach its perihelion, and, over-
joyed at his discovery, without thinking of calling it
Palmyra or Rosetta, after his own name, he resolved that
it should be known as Gallia.
His next business was to draw up a formal report.
Not only did he at once recognize that a collision with
the earth was possible, but he soon foresaw that it was in-
evitable, and that it must happen on the night of the 31st
of December ; moreover, as the bodies were moving in op-
posite directions, the shock could hardly fail to be violent.
To say that he was elated at the prospect was far
below the truth ; his delight amounted almost to delirium.
Any one else would have hurried from the solitude of For-
mentera in sheer fright; but, without communicating a
word of his startling discovery, he remained resolutely
at his post. From occasional newspapers which he had
received, he had learnt that fogs, dense as ever, continued
to envelop both hemispheres, so that he was assured that
the existence of the comet was utterly unknown else-
where; and the ignorance of the world as to the peril that
threatened it averted the panic that would have followed
the publication of the facts, and left the philosopher of
Formentera in sole possession of the great secret. He
clung to his post with the greater persistency, because his
calculations had led him to the conclusion that the comet
would strike the earth somewhere to the south of Algeria,
and as it had a solid nucleus, he felt sure that, as he
expressed it, the effect would be â€œunique,â€ and he was
anxious to be in the vicinity.
â€˜The shock came, and with it the results already re-
corded. Palmyrin Rosette was suddenly separated from
Â® Of 252 comets, 123 have a direct and 129 a @ rograde motion.
The Solitary Occupant of the only Fragment that survived of the Balearic
THE PROFESSORâ€™S EXPERIENCES. 229
his servant Joseph, and when, after a long period of un-
consciousness, he came to himself, he found that he was
the solitary occupant of the only fragment that survived
of the Balearic Archipelago.
Such was the substance of the narrative which the pro-
fessor gave with sundry repetitions and digressions ; while
he was giving it, he frequently paused and frowned as if
irritated in a way that seemed by no means justified by
the patient and good-humoured demeanour of his audience.
â€œ But now, gentlemen,â€ added the professor, â€œI must
tell you something more. Important changes have re-
sulted from the collision ; the cardinal points have been
displaced ; gravity has been diminished: not that I ever
supposed for a minute, as you did, that I was still upon
the earth. No! the earth, attended by her moon, con-
tinued to rotate along her proper orbit. But we, gentle-
men, have nothing to complain of ; our destiny might
have been far worse; we might all have been crushed to
death, or the comet might have remained in adhesion to
the earth; and in neither of these cases should we have
had the satisfaction of making this marvellous excursion
through untraversed solar regions. No, gentlemen, I
repeat it, we have nothing to regret.â€
And as the professor spoke, he seemed to kindle with
the emotion of such supreme contentment that no one
had the heart to gainsay his assertion. Ben Zoof alone
ventured an unlucky remark to the effect that if the comet
had happened to strike against Montmartre, instead of a
bit of Africa, it would .have met with some resistance.
â€œPshaw!â€ said Rosette, disdainfully. â€œA mole-hill
like Montmartre would have been ground to powder in a
â€œMole-hill!â€ exclaimed Ben Zoof, stung to the quick.
â€œT can tell you it would have caught up your bit of a
comet and worn it like a feather in a cap.â€
_-. The professor looked angry, and Servadac having im-
posed silence upon his orderly, explained the worthy
soldierâ€™s sensitiveness on all that concerned Montmartre.
230 HECTOR SERVADAC,
Always obedient to his master, Ben Zoof held his tongue;
but he felt that he could never forgive. the slight that had
been cast upon his beloved home.
It was now all-important to learn whether the astro-
nomer had been able to continue his observations, and
whether he had learned sufficient of Galliaâ€™s path through
space to make him competent to determine, at least
approximately, the period of its revolution round the sun.
With as much tact and caution as he could, Lieutenant
Procope endeavoured to intimate the general desire for
some information on this point.
â€œ Before the shock, sir,â€ answered the professor, â€œI had
conclusively demonstrated the path of the comet; but, in
consequence of the modifications which that shock has
entailed upon my cometâ€™s orbit, I. have been compelled
entirely to recommence my calculations.â€
The lieutenant looked disappointed.
â€œ Although the orbit of the earth was unaltered,â€ con-
tinued the professor, â€œthe result of the collision was the
projection of the comet into a new orbit altogether.â€
â€œAnd may I ask,â€ said Procope, deferentially, â€œwhether
you have got the elements of the fresh orbit ?â€
â€œThen perhaps you know....
â€œT know this, sir, that at 47 min. 35Â°6 sec. after two
o'clock on the morning of the ist of January last, Gallia,
in passing its ascending node, came in contact with the
earth ; that on the roth of January it crossed the orbit of
Venus; that it reached its perihelion on the 15th; that it
re-crossed the orbit of Venus ; that on the Ist of February
it passed its descending node; on the 13th crossed the
orbit of Mars; entered the zone of the telescopic planets
on the 10th of March, and, attracting Nerina, carried it off
as a Satellite.â€ =
Servadac interposed :
â€œWe are already acquainted with well-nigh all these
extraordinary facts; many of them, moreover, we have
learned from documents which we have picked up, and
THE PROFESSOR'S EXPEhIENCES, 231
which, although unsigned, we cannot entertain a doubt
have originated with you.â€
Professor Rosette drew himself up proudly and said :
â€œOf course they originated with me. I sent them off
by hundreds. From whom else could they come?â€
â€œFrom no one but yourself, certainly,â€ rejoined the
count, with grave politeness.
Hitherto the conversation had thrown no light upon
the future movements of Gallia, and Rosette was disposed
apparently to evade, or at least to postpone, the subject.
When, therefore, Lieutenant Procope was about to press his
inquiries in a more categorical form, Servadac, thinking it
advisable not prematurely to press the little savand too far,
interrupted him by asking the professor how he accounted
for the earth having suffered so little from such a formid-
â€œT account for it in this way,â€ answered Rosette: â€œthe
earth was travelling at the rate of 28,090 leagues an hour,
and Gallia at the rate of 57,000 leagues an hour, therefore
the result was.the same as though.a train rushing along at
a speed of about 86,000 leagues an hour had suddenly
encountered some obstacle. The nucleus of the comet,
being excessively hard, has done exactly what a ball would
do fired with that velocity close to a pane of glass. It has
crossed the earth without cracking it.â€
â€œTt is possible you may be right,â€ said Servadac,
â€œRight! of course I am right!â€ replied the snappish
professor, Soon, however, recovering his equanimity, he
continued : â€œIt is fortunate that the earth was only touched
obliquely ; if the comet had impinged perpendicularly, it
must have ploughed its way deep below the surface, and
the disasters it might have caused are beyond reckoning.
Perhaps,â€ he added, with a smile, â€œeven Montmartre might
not have survived the calamity.â€
â€œSir!â€ shouted Ben Zoof, quite unable to bear the
â€œQuiet, Ben Zoof!â€ said Servadac, sternly.
232 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Fortunately for the sake of peace, Isaac Hakkabut,
who at length was beginning to realize something of the
true condition of things, came forward at this moment,
and in a voice trembling with eagerness, implored the pro-
fessor to tell him when they would all be back again upon
â€œAre you in a great hurry?â€ asked the professor,
The Jew was about to speak again, when Captain
Servadac interposed :
â€œAllow me to say that, in somewhat more scientific
terms, I was about to ask you the same question. Did |
not understand you to say that, as the consequence of the
collision, the character of the cometâ€™s orbit has been
â€œYou did, sir.â€
â€œDid you imply that the orbit has ceased to be a
â€œTs it then an hyperbola? and are we to be carried on
far and away into remote distance, and never, never to
â€œT did not say an hyperbola.â€
â€œ And is it not?â€
â€œTt is not.â€
â€œThen it must be an ellipse ?â€
â€œAnd does its plane coincide with the plane of the
â€œThen it must be a periodic comet ?â€
Servadac involuntarily raised a ringing shout of joy
that echoed again along the gallery.
_ â€œYes ;â€ continued the professor, â€œ Gallia is a periodic
comet, and â€˜allowing for the perturbations to which it is
liable from the attraction of Mars and Jupiter and Saturn,
it will return to the earth again in two years precisely.â€
THE PROFESSORâ€™S EXPERIENCES. 233
â€œYou mean that in two years after the first shock,
Gallia will meet the earth at the same point as they met
before?â€ said Lieutenant Procope.
â€œT am afraid so,â€ said Rosette.
â€œ Why afraid ?â€
â€œ Because we are doing exceedingly well as we are.â€
The professor stamped his foot upon the ground, by way
of emphasis, and added, â€œIf I had my will, Gallia should
never return to the earth again!â€
234 II1ECTOR SERVADAC.
A REVISED CALENDAR.
ALL previous hypotheses, then, were now forgotten in the
presence of the one great fact that Gallia was a comet and
gravitating through remote solar regions. Captain Serva-
dac became aware that the huge disc that had been
looming through the clouds after the shock was the form
of the retreating earth, to the proximity of which the one
high tide they had experienced was also to be attributed.
As to the fulfilment of the professorâ€™s prediction of an
ultimate return to the terrestrial sphere, that was a point
on which it must be owned that the captain, after the first
flush of his excitement was over, was not without many
The next day or two were spent in providing for the
accommodation of the new comer. Fortunately his desires
were vety moderate; he seemed to live among the stars,
and as long as he was well provided with coffee, he cared
little for luxuries, and paid little or no regard to the in-
genuity with which all the internal arrangements of Nina's
Hive had been devised. Anxious to show all proper re-
spect to his former tutor, Servadac proposed to leave the
most comfortable apartment of the place at his disposal ;
but the professor resolutely declined to occupy it, saying
that what he required was a small chamber, no matter how
small, provided that it was elevated and secluded, which
he could use as an observatory and where he might pro-
In these Retired Quarters the Astronomer took up his Abode,
A REVISED CALENDAR. 235
secute his studies without disturbance. A general search
was instituted, and before long they were lucky enough to
find, about a hundred feet above the central grotto, a small
recess or reduct hollowed as it were in the mountain-side,
which would exactly answer their purpose. It contained
room enough for a bed,a table, an arm-chair, a chest of
drawers, and, what was of still more consequence, for the
indispensable telescope. One small stream of lava, an off-
shoot of the great torrent, sufficed to warm the apartment
In these retired quarters the astronomer took up his
abode. It was on all hands acknowledged to be advisable
to let him go on entirely in his own way. His meals were
taken to him at stated intervals ; he slept but little; carried
on his calculations by day, his observations by night, and
very rarely made his appearance amongst the rest of the
The cold now became very intense, the thermometer
registering 30Â°C. below zero. The mercury, however, never
exhibited any of those fluctuations that are ever and
again to be observed in variable climates, but continued
slowly and steadily to fall, and in ail probability would
continue to do so until it reached the normal temperature
of the regions of outlying space. â€˜
This steady sinking of the mercury was accompanied
by a complete stillness of the atmosphere; the very air
seemed to be congealed; no particle of it stirred; from
zenith to horizon there was never a cloud; neither were
there any of the damp mists or dry fogs which so often
extend over the polar regions of the earth; the sky was
always clear; the sun shone by day and the stars by night
without causing any perceptible difference in the tempera-
These peculiar conditions â€˜rendered the cold endurable
even in the open air. The cause of so many of the dis-
eases that prove fatal to Arctic explorers resides in the
cutting winds, unwholesome fogs, or terrible snow-drifts,
which, by drying up, relaxing, or otherwise affecting the
236 HECTOR SERVADAC.
lungs, make them incapable of fulfilling their proper
functions. But during periods of calm weather, when the
air has been absolutely still, many polar navigators, well-
clothed and properly fed, have been known to withstand a
temperature when the spirit in the thermometer has fallen
to 60Â° below zero. It was the experience of Parry upon
Melville Island, of Kane beyond lat. 81Â° N., and of
Hall and the crew of the Polaris, that, however intense the
cold, in the absence of the wind they could always brave
Notwithstanding, then, the extreme lowness of the
temperature, the little population found that they were able
to move about in the open air with perfect immunity.
The governour-general made it his special care to see
that his people were all well fed and warmly clad. Food
was both wholesome and abundant, and besides the furs
brought from the Dodrynaâ€™s stores, fresh skins could very
easily be procured and made up into wearing apparel. A
daily course of out-door exercise was enforced upon every
one; not even Pablo and Nina were exempted from the
general rule; the two children, muffled up in furs, looking
like little Esquimeaux, skated along together, Pablo ever at
his companionâ€™s side, reddy to give her a helping hand
whenever she was weary with the exertions of her re-
After his interview with the newly arrived astronomer,
Isaac Hakkabut slunk back again to his tartan. A change
had come over his ideas; he could no longer resist the
conviction that he was indeed millions and millions of
miles away from the earth, where he had carried on so
varied and remunerative a traffic. It might be imagined
that this realization of his true position would have led
him to a better minc, and that, in some degree at least he
would have been induced to regard the few fellow-creatures
with whom his lot had been so strangely cast, otherwise
than as mere instruments to be turned to his own personal
and pecuniary advantage; but noâ€”the desire of gain was
too thoroughly ingrained into his hard nature ever to be
Like Little Esquimeaux.
A REVISED CALENDAR. 237
eradicated, and secure in his knowledge that he was under
the protection of a French officer, who, except under the
most urgent necessity, would not permit him to be
molested in retaining his property, he determined to wait
for some emergency to arise which should enable him to
use his present situation for his own profit.
On the one hand, the Jew took it into account that
although the chances of returning to the earth might be
remote, yet from what he had heard from the professor he
could not believe that they were improbable; on the other,
he knew that a considerable sum of money, in English and
Russian coinage, was in the possession of various members
of the little colony, and this, although valueless now, would
be worth as much as ever if the proper condition of things
should be restored ; accordingly, he set his heart on getting
all the monetary wealth of Gallia into his possession, and
to do this he must sell his goods. But he would not sell
them yet ; there might come a time when for many articles
the supply would not be equal to the demand; that would
be the time for him; by waiting he reckoned he should be
able to transact some lucrative business.
Such in his solitude were old Isaacâ€™s cogitations, whilst
the universal population of Ninaâ€™s Hive were congratulat-
ing themselves upon being rid of his odious presence.
As already stated in the message brought by the
carrier pigeon, the distance travelled by Gallia in April
was 39,000,000 leagues, and at the end of the month she
was 110,000,000 leagues from the sun. A diagram repre-
senting the elliptical orbit of the planet, accompanied by
an ephemeris made out in minute detail, had been drawn
out by the professor. The curve was divided into twenty-
four sections of unequal length, representing respectively
the distance described in the twenty-four months of the
Gallian year, the twelve former divisions, according te
Keplerâ€™s law, gradually diminishing in length as they
approached the point denoting the aphelion and increasing
as they neared the perihelion. _
It was on the 12th of May that Rosette exhibited this
238 HECTOR SERVADAC.
result of his labours to Servadac, the count, and the lieu-
tenant, who visited his apartment and naturally examined
the drawing with the keenest interest. Galliaâ€™s path,
extending beyond the orbit of Jupiter, lay clearly defined
before: their eyes, the progress along the orbit and the
solar distances being inserted for each month separately.
Nothing could look plainer, and if the professor's calcula-
tions were correct (a point upon which they dared not,
if they would, express the semblance of a doubt), Gallia
would accomplish her revolution in precisely two years,
and would meet the earth, which would in the same period
of time have completed two annual revolutions, in the very
same spot as before. What would be the consequences of
a second collision they scarcely ventured to think.
Without lifting his eye from the diagram, which he
was still carefully scrutinizing, Servadac said :
â€œT see that during the month of May, Gallia will only
travel 30,400,000 leagues, and that this will leave her about
140,000,000 leagues distant from the sun.â€
â€œ Just so,â€ replied the professor.
â€œThen we have already passed the zone of the tele-
scopic planets, have we not?â€ asked the count.
â€œCan you not use your eyes?â€ said the professor,
testily. â€œIf you will look you will see the zone marked
clearly enough upon the map.â€™
Without noticing the interruption, Seradue continued
his own remarks :
â€œ The comet then, I see, is to reach its aphelion on the
16th of January, exactly a twelvemonth after passing its
â€œA twelvemonth! Not a Gallian twelvemonth ?â€ ex-
Servadac looked bewildered. Lieutenant Procope
could not suppress a smile.
â€œWhat are you laughing at ?â€ demanded the professor,
turning round upon him angrily.
â€œNothing, sir; only it amuses me to see how you want
to revise the terrestrial calendar.â€
Galliaâ€™s path lay clearly defined before their eyes,
A REVISED CALENDAR. 239
â€œT want to be logical, thatâ€™s all.â€
â€œBy all manner of means, my dear professor, let us be
â€œWell, then, listen to me,â€ resumed the professor, stiffly.
â€œT presume you are taking it for granted that the Gallian
yearâ€”by which I mean the time in which Gallia makes
one revolution round the sunâ€”is equal in length to two
They signified their assent.
â€œAnd that year, like every other year, ought to be
divided into twelve months.â€
â€œYes, certainly, if you wish it,â€ said the captain,
â€œIf I wish it!â€ exclaimed Rosette. â€œNothing of the
sort! Ofcourse a year must have twelve months !â€
â€œ Of course,â€ said the captain.
â€œ And how many days will make a month?â€ asked the
â€œI suppose sixty or sixty-two, as the case may be.
The days now are only half as long as they used to be,â€
answered the captain.
. â€œ Servadac, donâ€™t be thoughtless!â€ cried Rosette, with
all the petulant impatience of the old pedagogue. â€œIf the
days are only half as long as they were, sixty of them
cannot make up a twelfth part of Galliaâ€™s yearâ€”cannot be
â€œT suppose not,â€ replied the confused captain.
â€œDo you not â€˜see, then,â€ continued the astronomer,
â€œthat if a Gallian month is twice as long as a terrestrial
month, and a Gallian d.y is only half as long as a terres-
trial day, there must be a hundred and twenty days in
every month ?â€
â€œNo doubt you are right, professor,â€ said Count Timas-
cheff ; â€œbut.do you not think that the use of a new
calendar such as this would practically be very czouble-
â€œNot at all! not at all! I do not intend to use any
other,â€ was the professorâ€™s bluff reply.
240 HECTOR SERVADAC.
After pondering for a few moments, the captain spoke
â€œAccording, then, to this new calendar, it isnâ€™t the
middle of May at all; it must now be some time in
â€œYes,â€ said the professor, â€œto-day is-the 26th of March.
It is the 266th day of the Gallian year. It corresponds
with the 133rd day of the terrestrial year. You are quite
correct, it is the 26th of March.â€
â€œStrange!â€ muttered Servadac,
â€œAnd a month, a terrestrial month, thirty old dae
sixty new days hence, it will be the 86th of March.â€
â€œHa, ha!â€ roared the captain; â€œthis is logic with
The old professor had an undefined consciousness that
his former pupil was laughing at him; and as it was
growing late, he made an excuse that he had no more
leisure. The visitors accordingly quitted the observatory.
It must be owned that the revised calendar was left to
the professorâ€™s sole use, and the colony was fairly puzzled
whenever he referred to such unheard-of dates as the 47th
of April or the 118th of May.
According to the old calendar, June had now ee
and by the â€˜professor's tables Gallia during the month
would have advanced 27,500,000 leagues further along its
orbit, and would have attained a distance of 155,000,000
leagues from the sun. The thermometer continued to fall ;
the atmosphere remained clear as heretofore. The popula-
tion performed their daily avocations with systematic
routine ; and almost the only thing that broke the mono-
tony of existence was an occasional visit from the bluster-
ing, nervous, little professor, when some sudden fancy
induced him to throw aside his astronomical studies for a
time, and pay a visit to the common hall. His arrival
there was generally hailed as the precursor of a little
season of excitement. Somehow or other the conversa-
tion would eventually work its way round to the topic of a
future collision between the comet and the earth; and in
â€˜Now, Lieutenant ! no Evasions ! no Shufflings !â€â€
A REVISED CALENDAR. 241
the same degree as this was a matter of sanguine anticipa-
tion to Captain Servadac and his friends, it was a matter
of aversion to the astronomical enthusiast, who had no
desire to quit his present quarters in a sphere which, being
of his own discovery, he could hardly have cared for more
if it had been of his own creation. The interview would
often terminate in a scene of considerable animation.
On the 27th of June (old calendar) the professor burst
like a cannon-ball into the central hall, where they were all
assembled, and without a word of salutation or of preface,
accosted the lieutenant in the way in which in earlier days
he had been accustomed to speak to an idle school-boy :
â€œNow, lieutenant! no evasions! no shufflings! Tell
me, have you or have you not circumnavigated Gallia ?â€
The lieutenant drew himself up stiffly.
â€œEvasions! shufflings! I:am not accustomed, sir...
he began in a tone evidencing no little resentment; but
catching a hint from the count he subdued his voice, and
simply said, â€œ We have.â€
â€œAnd may I ask,â€ continued the professor, quite
unaware of his previous discourtesy, â€œwhether, when you
made your voyage, you took any account of distances?â€
â€œ As approximately as I could,â€ replied the lieutenant ;
â€œJT did what I could by log and compass. I was unable
to take the altitude of sun or star.â€ Â©
â€œ At what result did you arrive? What is the mea-
surement of our equator?â€
â€™ â€œT estimate the total circumference of the equator to
be about 1400 miles.â€
â€œAh!â€ said the professor, more than half speaking to
himself, â€œa circumference of 1400 miles would give a
diameter of about 450 miles. That would be approxi.
mately about one-sixteenth of the diameter of the earth.â€
Raising his voice, he continued :
â€œ Gentlemen, in order to complete my account of my
comet Gallia, I require to know its area, its mass, its
volume, its density, its specific gravity.â€
â€œSince we know the diameter,â€ remarked. the lieu-
242 HECTOR SERVADAC,
tenant, â€œthere can be no difficulty in finding its surface
and its volume.â€
â€œAnd did I say there was any difficulty?â€ asked the
professor, fiercely. â€œI have been able to reckon that ever
since I was born.â€
â€œ Cock-a-doodle-doo!â€ cried Ben Zoof, delighted at
any opportunity of paying off his old grudge.
The professor looked at him, but did not vouchsafe
a word. Addressing the captain, he said :
_ â€œNow, Servadac, take your paper and a pen, and find
me the surface of Gallia.â€
With more submission than when he was a school-boy,
the captain sat down and endeavoured to recall the proper
â€œThe surface of a Sphere? Multiply circumference by
" Right ! !â€ cried Rosette; â€œbut it ought to be done by
â€œ Giewnteence 1400 ; diameter, 450; area of surface,
630,000,â€ read the captain.
â€œTrue,â€ replied Rosette, â€œ630,000 square miles; just
292 times less than that of the earth.â€
â€œPretty little comet! nice little comet!â€ muttered Ben
The astronomer bit his lip, frowned, snorted, and cast
at him a withering look, but did not take any further
â€œNow, Captain Servadac,â€ said the professor, â€œtake
your pen again, if you please, and find me the volume of
The captain hesitated.
â€œQuick, quick!â€ cried the professor, impatiently ;
â€œsurely you have not forgotten how to find the volume
-of a sphere!â€
â€œ A momentâ€™s breathing time, please.â€
â€œBreathing time, indeed! A mathematician should
not want breathing time! Come, multiply the surface by
the third of the radius. Donâ€™t you recollect ?â€
â€˜*A momentâ€™s Breathing-time, please.â€
A REVISED CALENDAR. 243
Captain Servadac applied himself to his task while the
by-standers waited, with some difficulty suppressing their
inclination to laugh. There was a short silence, at the end
of which Servadac announced that the volume of the comet
was 47,880,000 cubic miles.
â€œJust about 5000 times less than the earth,â€ observed
â€œNice little comet! pretty little comet!â€ again said
The professor scowled at him, and was manifestly
annoyed at having the insignificant dimensions of his
comet pointed out in so disparaging a manner. Lieutenant
Procope further remarked that from the earth he supposed
it to be about as conspicuous as a star of the seventh
magnitude, and would require a good telescope to see it.
â€œHa, ha!â€ laughed the orderly, aloud; â€œcharming
little comet! so pretty! and so modest!â€
â€œYou rascal!â€ rcared the professor, and clenched his
hand in passion, as if about to strike him. Ben Zoof
laughed the more, and was on the point of repeating his
satirical comments, when a stern order from the captain
made him hold his tongue. The truth was that the pro-
fessor was just as sensitive about his comet as the orderly
was about Montmartre, and if the contention between the
two had been allowed to go on unchecked, it is impossible
to say what serious quarrel might not have arisen.
When Professor Rosetteâ€™s equanimity had been
restored, he said:
â€œThus, then, gentlemen, the diameter, the surface, the
volume of my comet are settled ; but there is more to be
done. I shall not be satisfied until, by actual measure-
ment, I have determined its mass, its density, and the
force of gravity at its surface.â€
â€œ A laborious problem,â€ remarked Count Timascheff.
â€œLaborious or not, it has to be accomplished. I am
resolved to find out what my comet weighs.â€
â€œWould it not be of some assistance, if we knew of
what substance it is composed ?â€ asked the lieutenant.
244 HECTOR SERVADAC,
â€œThat is of no moment at all,â€ replied the professor ;
â€œâ€˜the problem is independent of it.â€
â€œ Then we await your orders,â€ was the captainâ€™s reply.
â€œYou must understand, however,â€ said Rosette, â€œthat
there are-various preliminary calculations to be made ; you
will have to wait till they are finished.â€
â€œ As long as you please,â€ said the count.
â€œNo hurry at all,â€ observed the captain, who was not
in the least impatient to continue his mathematical exer-
â€œThen, gentlemen,â€ said the astronomer, â€œâ€œ with your
leave we will for this purpose make an appointment a few
weeks hence. What do you say to the 62nd of April?â€
Without noticing the general smile which the novel
date provoked, the astronomer left the hall, and retired to
( 245 )
WANTED: A STEELYARD.
UNDER the still diminishing influence of the sunâ€™s attrac-
tion, but without let or hindrance, Gallia continued its
inter-planetary course, accompanied by Nerina, its captured
satellite, which performed its fortnightly revolutions with
Meanwhile, the question beyond all others important
was ever recurring to the minds of Servadac and his two
companions: were the astronomerâ€™s calculations correct,
and was there a sound foundation for his prediction that
the comet would again touch the earth? But whatever
might be their doubts or anxieties, they were fain to keep
all their misgivings to themselves ; the professor was of a
temper far too cross-grained for them to venture to ask
him to revise or re-examine the results of his observations.
The rest of the community by no means shared in
their uneasiness. Negrete and his fellow-countrymen
yielded to their destiny with philosophical indifference.
Happier and better provided for than they had ever been
in their lives, it did not give them a passing thought, far
less cause any serious concern, whether they were still
circling round the sun, or whether they were being carried
right away within the limits of another system. Utterly
careless of the future, the majos, light-hearted as ever,
carolled out their favourite songs, just as if they had never
guitted the shores of their native land.
246 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Happiest of all were Pablo and Nina. Racing through
the galleries of the Hive, clambering over the rocks upon
the shore, one day skating far away across the frozen
ocean, the next fishing in the lake that was kept liquid
by the heat of the lava-torrent, the two children led a life
of perpetual enjoyment. Nor was their recreation allowed
to interfere with their studies. Captain Servadac, who in
common with the count really liked them both, conceived
that the responsibilities of a parent in some degree had
devolved upon him, and took great care in superintending
their daily lessons, which he succeeded in making hardly
less pleasant than their sports...
Indulged and loved by all, it was little wonder that
young Pablo had no longing for the scorching plains of
Andalusia, or that little Nina had lost all wish to return
with her pet goat to the barren rocks of Sardinia. They
had now a home in which they had nothing to desire.
â€œHave you no father nor mother?â€ asked Pablo, one
â€œNo,â€ she answered.
â€œNo more have I,â€ said the boy, â€œI used to run along
by the side of the diligences when I was in Spain.â€
â€œT used to look after goats at Madalena,â€ said Nina;
â€œbut it is much nicer hereâ€”I am so happy here. I- have
you for a brother, and everybody is so kind. I am afraid
they will spoil us, Pablo,â€ she added, smiling.
â€œOh, no, Nina; you are too good to-be spoiled, and
when I am with you, you make me good too,â€ said: Pablo,
July had now arrived. During the month Galliaâ€™s
advance along its orbit would be reduced to 22,000,000
leagues, the distance from the sun at the end being
172,000,000 leagues, about four and a half times as great
as the average distance of the earth from the sun. It was
travelling now at about the same speed as the earth, which
traverses the ecliptic at a rate of 21,000,000 leagues a
month, or 28,800 leagues an hour.
In due time the 62nd April, according to the revised
â€˜* Have you no Father nor Mother?â€
WANTED: A STEELYARD. 247
Gallian calendar, dawned ; and in punctual fulfilment of
the professorâ€™s appointment, a note was delivered to Ser-
vadac to say that he was ready, and hoped that day to
commence operations for calculating the mass and density
of his comet, as well as the force of gravity at its surface.
A point of far greater interest to Captain Servadac
and his friends would have been to ascertain the nature of
the substance of which the comet was composed, but they
felt pledged to render the professor any aid they could in
the researches upon which he had set his heart. Without
delay, therefore, they assembled in the central hall, where
they were very soon joined by Rosette, who seemed to be
in fairly good temper.
â€œGentlemen,â€ he began, â€œI propose to-day to en-
deavour to complete our observations of the elements of
my comet. Three matters of investigation are before us.
First, the measure of gravity at its surface ; this attractive
force we know, by the increase of our own muscular force,
must of course be considerably less than that at the surface
of the earth. Secondly, its mass, that is, the quantity of
its matter. And thirdly, its density or quantity of matter
in a unit of its volume. We will proceed, gentlemen, if
you please, to weigh Gallia.â€
Ben Zoof, who had just entered the hall, caught the
professor's last sentence, and without saying a word, went
out again and was absent for some minutes. When he
returned, he said :
â€œIf you want to weigh this comet of yours, I suppose
you want a pair of scales; but I have been to look, and I
cannot find a pair anywhere. And whatâ€™s more,â€™ he
added mischievously, â€œ you wonâ€™t get them anywhere.â€
A frown came over the professor's countenance. Ser-
vadac saw it, and gave his orderly a sign that he should
desist entirely from his bantering.
â€œT require, gentlemen,â€ resumed Rosette, â€œfirst of all
to know by how much the weight of a kilogramme here
differs from its weight upon the earth ;* the attraction, as
* 2:2 lbs. avoirdupois,
248 HECTOR SERVADAC.
we have said, being less, the weight will be proportionately
less also.â€ / :
â€œThen an ordinary pair of scales, being under the in-
fluence of attraction, I suppose, would not answer your
purpose,â€ submitted the lieutenant.
â€œAnd the very kilogramme weight you used would
have become lighter,â€ put in the count, deferentially.
â€œPray, gentlemen, do not interrupt me,â€ said the pro-
fessor, authoritatively, as if er cathedrd. â€œI need no in-
struction on these points.â€
Procope and Timascheff demurely bowed their heads.
The professor resumed :
â€œUpon a steelyard, or spring-balance, dependent upon
mere tension or flexibility, the attraction will have no influ-
ence. If I suspend a weight equivalent to the weight of a
kilogramme, the index will register the proper weight on the
surface of Gallia. Thus I shall arrive at the difference I
want: the difference between the earth's attraction and
the cometâ€™s. Will you, therefore, have the goodness to
provide me at once with a steelyard and a tested kilo-
The audience looked at one another, and: then at Ben
Zoof, who was thoroughly acquainted with all the resources
of the colony.
â€œWe have neither one nor the other,â€ said the orderly.
The professor stamped with vexation. ~
â€œJ believe old Hakkabut has a steelyard on board his
tartan,â€ said Ben Zoof, presently.
â€œThen why didnâ€™t you say so before, you idiot?â€
roared the excitable little man.
Anxious to pacify him, Servadac assured him that
every exertion should be made to procure the instrument,
and directed Ben Zoof to go to the Jew and borrow it.
â€œNo, stop a moment,â€ he said, as Ben Zoof was moving
away on his errand; â€œperhaps I had better go with you
myself; the old Jew.may make a difficulty about lending
us any of his property.â€
â€œWhy should we not all go?â€ asked the count; â€œwe
The Rest of the Party followed.
WANTED: A STEELYARD. 249
should see what kind of a life the misanthrope leads on
board the Haisa.â€
The proposal met with general approbation.
Before they started, Professor Rosette requested that
one of the men might be ordered to cut him a cubic deci-
metre out of the solid substance of Gallia.*
â€œ My engineer is the man for that,â€ said the count; â€œhe
will do it well for you if you will give him the precise
â€œWhat! you donâ€™t mean,â€ exclaimed the professor,
again going off into a passion, â€œthat you havenâ€™t a proper
measure of length ?â€ .
Ben Zoof was sent off to ransack the stores for the
article in question, but no measure was forthcoming.
â€œMost likely we shall find one on board the tartan,â€
said the orderly.
â€œThen let us lose no time in trying,â€ answered the
professor, as he bustled with hasty strides into the gallery.
The rest of the party followed, and were soon in the
open air upon the rocks that overhung the shore. They
descended to the level of the frozen water and made their
way along its edge towards the little creek where the
Dobryna and the Hansa lay firmly imprisoned in their icy
The temperature was low beyond previous experience ;
but well muffled up in fur, they all endured it without much
actual suffering. Their breath issued in vapour, which was
at once congealed into little crystals upon their whiskers,
beards, eyebrows, and eyelashes, until their faces, covered
with countless snow-white prickles, were truly ludicrous.
The little professor, most comical of all, resembled nothing
so much as the cub of an Arctic bear.
It was eight oâ€™clock in the morning. The sun was
rapidly approaching the zenith; but its disc, from the
extreme remoteness, was proportionately dwarfed; its
beams being all but destitute of their proper warmth and
_ â„¢ A decimetre= 3:93 inches ; a cubic deeimetre, therefore (3Â°93)?=60 cubic
250 HECTOR SERVADAC.
radiance. The volcano to its very summit and the sur-
rounding rocks were still covered with the unsullied
mantle of snow that had fallen while the atmosphere was
still to some extent charged with vapour ; but on the north
side the snow had given place to the cascade of fiery lava,
whici, making its way down the sloping rocks as far as the
vaulted opening of the central cavern, fell thence perpen-
dicularly into the sea.
Above the cavern, 150 feet up the mountain, was a
dark hole, above which the stream of lava made a bifur-
cation in its course. From this hole projected the case of
an astronomerâ€™s telescope; it was the opening of Palmyrin
Sea and land seemed blended into one dreary whiteness,
to which the pale blue sky offered scarcely any contrast.
The shore was indented with the marks of many footsteps
left by the colonists either on their way to collect ice for
drinking purposes, or as the result of their skating expe-
ditions ; the edges of the skates had cut out a labyrinth of
curves complicated as the figures traced by aquatic insects
upon the surface of a pool.
Across the quarter of a mile of level ground that lay
between the mountain and the creek, a series of footprints,
frozen bard into the snow, marked the course taken by
Isaac Hakkabut on his last return from Ninaâ€™s Hive.
On approaching the creek, Lieutenant Procope drew
his companionsâ€™ attention to the elevation of the Dobrynaâ€™'s
and Hansaâ€™s waterline, both vessels being now some fifteea
feet above the level of the sea.
â€œ What a strange phenomenon!â€ exclaimed the captain.
â€œTt makes me very uneasy,â€ rejoined the lieutenant ;
â€˜in shallow places like this, as the crust of ice thickens, it
forces everything upwards with irresistible force.â€
â€˜But surely this process of congelation must have a
limit!â€ said the count.
â€œ But who can say what that limit will be ? Remember
that we have not yet reached our maximum of cold,â€
WANTED: A STEELYARD. 251
â€œ Indeed, I hope not!â€ exclaimed the professor ; â€œ where
would be the use of our travelling 200,000,000 leagues from
the sun, if we are only to experience the same temperature
as we should find at the poles of the earth ?â€
â€œFortunately for us, however, professor,â€ said the lieu-
tenant, with a smile, â€œthe temperature of the remotest
space never descends beyond 70Â° below zero.â€
â€œAnd as long as there is no wind,â€ added Servadac,
â€œwe may pass comfortably through the winter, without a
single attack of catarrh.â€ :
Lieutenant Procope proceeded to impart to the count
his anxiety about the situation of his yacht. He pointed
out that by the constant superposition of new deposits of
ice, the vessel would be elevated to a great height, and
consequently in the event of a thaw, it must be exposed
to a calamity similar to those which in polar seas cause
destruction to so many whalers.
There was no time now for concerting measures off-
hand to prevent the disaster, for the other members of the
party had already reached the spot where the Hansa lay
bound in her icy trammels. A flight of steps, recently
hewn by Hakkabut himself, gave access for the present to
the gangway, but it was evident that some different con-
trivance would have to be resorted to when the tartan
should be elevated perhaps to a hundred feet.
A thin curl of blue smoke issued from the copper
funnel that projected above the mass of snow which had
accumulated upon the deck of the Yansa. The owner was
sparing of his fuel, and it was only the non-conducting
layer of ice enveloping the tartan that rendered the
internal temperature endurable.
â€œHi! old Nebuchadnezzar, where are you?â€ shouted
Ben Zoof, at the full strength of his lungs.
At the sound of his voice, the cabin door opened, and
the Jewâ€™s head and shoulders protruded on to the deck.
+ CHAPTER VII.
MONEY AT A PREMIUM.
â€œWuHoâ€™s there? I have nothing here for any one. Go
away!â€ Such was the inhospitable greeting with which
Isaac Hakkabut received his visitors.
â€œHakkabut! do you take us for thieves?â€ asked
Servadac, in tones of stern displeasure.
â€œOh, your Excellency, my lord, I did not know that
it was you,â€ whined the Jew, but without emerging any
farther from his cabin.
â€œNow, old Habakkut, come out of your shell! Come
and show the governour proper respect, when he gives you
the honour of his company,â€ cried Ben Zoof, who by this
time had clambered on to the deck.
After considerable hesitation, but still keeping his hold
upon the cabin-door, the Jew made up his mind to step
â€œWhat do you want ?â€ he inquired, timorously.
â€œT want a word with you,â€ said Servadac, â€œbut I do
not want to stand talking out here in the cold.â€
Followed by the rest of the party, he proceeded to
mount the steps.
The Jew trembled from head to foot.
â€œBut I cannot let you into my cabin. I am a poor
man ; I have nothing to give you,â€ he moaned piteously.
â€œTere he is!â€ laughed Ben Zoof, contemptuously ;
â€œhe is beginning his chapter of lamentations over again.
MONEY AT A PREMIUM. 253
But standing out here will never do. Out of the way, old
Hakkabut, I say! out of the way!â€ and, without more ado,
he thrust the astonished Jew on one side and opened the
door of the cabin.
Servadac, however, declined to enter until he had taken
the pains to explain to the owner of the tartan that he had
no intention of laying violent hands upon his property,
and that if the time should ever come that his cargo was
in requisition for the common use, he should receive a
proper price for his goods, the same as he would in
â€œEurope, indeed!â€ muttered the Jew maliciously be-
tween his teeth. â€œ European prices will not do for me.
I must have Gallian pricesâ€”and of my own fixing, too!â€
So large a portion of the vessel had been appropriated
to the cargo that the space reserved for the cabin was of
most meagre dimensions. In one corner of the compart-
ment stood a small iron stove, in which smouldered a bare
handful of coals; in another was a trestle-board which
served as a bed; two or three stools and a rickety deal
table, together with a few cooking utensils, completed a
stock of furniture which was worthy of its proprietor.
On entering the cabin, Ben Zoofâ€™s first proceeding was
to throw on the fire a liberal supply of coals, utterly
regardless of the groans of poor Isaac, who would almost
as soon have parted with his own bones as submit to such
reckless expenditure of his fuel. The perishing tempera-
ture of the cabin, however, was sufficient justification for
the orderlyâ€™s conduct, and by a little skilful manipulation
he soon succeeded in getting up a tolerable fire.
The visitors having taken what seats they could, Hak-
kabut closed the door, and, like a prisoner awaiting his
sentence, stood with folded hands, expecting the captain
â€œListen to me, â€ said Servadac ; â€œwe have come to ask
a favour of you.â€
Imagining that at least half his property was to be
confiscated, the Jew began to break out into his usual
254 HECTOR SERVADAC.
formula about being a poor man and having nothing to
spare; but Servadac, without taking any heed of his com-
plainings, went on:
â€œWe are not going to ruin you, you know.â€
Hakkabut looked keenly into the captainâ€™s face.
â€œWe have only come to know whether you can lend us
So far from showing any symptom of relief, the old
miser exclaimed, with a stare of astonishment, as if he had
been asked for the loan of some thousand francs :
â€œA steelyard ?â€
â€œYes!â€ echoed the professor, impatiently; â€œa steel-
â€œFlave you not one?â€ asked Servadac,
â€œTo be sure:-he has!â€ said Ben Zoof.
Old Isaac stammered and stuttered, but at last con-
fessed that perhaps there might be one amongst the stores.
â€œ Then, surely, you will not object to lend it to us?â€ said
â€œOnly for one day,â€ added the professor.
The Jew stammered again, and began to object.
â€œTt is a very delicate instrument, your Excellency.
The cold, you know, the cold may do injury to the spring ;
and perhaps you are going to use it to weigh something
â€œWhy, old Ephraim, do you suppose we are going to
weigh a mountain with it?â€ said Ben Zoof.
â€œ Better than that!â€ cried out the professor, triumph-
antly ; â€œwe are going to weigh Gallia with it ; my comet.â€
â€œMerciful Heaven!â€ shrieked Isaac, feigning conster-
nation at the bare suggestion.
Servadac knew well enough that the Jew was holding
out only for a good bargain, and assured him that the
steelyard was required for no other purpose than to weigh
a kilogramme, which (considering how much lighter every-
thing had become) could not possibly put the slightest
strain upon the instrument.
The Jew still spluttered, and moaned, and hesitated.
â€œ We are not going to ruin you, you know.â€
MONEY AT A PREMIUM. 255
â€œWell, then,â€ said Servadac, â€œif you do not like to lend
us your steelyard, do you object to sell it to us?â€
Isaac fairly shrieked aloud.
â€œGod of Israel!â€ he ejaculated, â€œsell my steelyard ?
Would you deprive me of one of the most indispensable
of my means of livelihood? How should I weigh my
merchandise without my steelyardâ€”my solitary steelyard,
so delicate and so correct ?â€
The orderly wondered how his master could refrain
from strangling the old miser upon the spot ; but Servadac,
rather amused than otherwise, determined to try another
form of persuasion.
â€œCome, Hakkabut, I see that you are not disposed
either to lend or to sell your steelyard. What do you say
to letting us hire it ?â€
The Jewâ€™s eyes twinkled with a satisfaction that he was
unable to conceal.
â€œBut what security would you give? The instrument
is very valuable ;â€ and he looked more cunning than ever.
â€œWhat is it worth? If it is worth twenty francs, I
will leave a deposit of a hundred. Will that satisfy you ?â€
He shook his head doubtfully.
â€œTt is very little ; indeed, it is too little, your Excel-
lency. Consider, it is the only steelyard in all this new
world of ours; it is worth more, much more. If I take
your deposit it must be in goldâ€”all gold. But how much
do you agree to give me for the hireâ€”the hire, one day ?â€
â€œYou shall have twenty francs,â€ said Servadac.
â€œOh, it is dirt cheap; but never mind, for one day, you
shall have it. Deposit in gold money a hundred francs,
and twenty francs for the hire.â€
The old man folded his hands in meek rÃ©signation.
â€œ The fellow knows how to make a good bargain,â€ said
Servadac, as Isaac, after casting a distrustful look around,
went out of the cabin.
â€œDetestable old wretch!â€ replied the count, full of
Hardly a minute elapsed before the Jew was back
256 HECTOR SERVADAC.
again, carrying his precious steelyard with ostentatious
care. It was.of an ordinary kind. A spring balance, fitted
with a hook, held the article to be weighed; a pointer,
revolving on a disc, indicated the weight of the article.
Professor Rosette was manifestly right in asserting that
such a machine would register results quite independently
of any change in the force of attraction. On the earth
it would have registered a kilogramme as a kilogramme ;
here it recorded a different value altogether, as the result
of the altered force of gravity.
Gold coinage to the worth of one hundred and twenty
francs was handed over to the Jew, who clutched at the
money with unmistakable eagerness. The steelyard was
committed to the keeping of Ben Zoof, and the visitors
prepared to quit the Hansa.
_ All at once it occurred to the professor that the steel-
yard would be absolutely useless to him, unless he had the
means for ascertaining the precise measurement of the unit
of the soil of Gallia which he proposed to weigh.
â€œ Something more you must lend me,â€ he said, address-
ing the Jew.
â€œJT must have a measure, and I mustâ€™ have a kilo-
â€œJT have neither of them,â€ answered Isaac. â€œI have
neither the rule nor the weight. I am sorry; I am very
And this time the old Jew spoke the truth. He would
have been really glad to do another stroke or two of busi-
ness upon terms as advantageous as the transaction he had
Palmyrin Rosette scratched his head in perplexity,
glaring round upon his companions as if they were per-
sonally responsible for his annoyance. He muttered some-
thing about finding a way out of his difficulty, and hastily
mounted the cabin-ladder. The rest followed, but they
had hardly reached the deck when the chink of money was
heard in the room below. Hakkabut was locking away
the gold in one of the drawers. ,
**Some of your Money ! I must have some Money !â€â€™
MONEY AT A PREMIUM. 257
Back again, down the ladder, scrambled the little pro-
fessor, and before the Jew was aware of his presence he
had seized him by the tail of his slouchy overcoat.
â€œSome of your money! I must have some money!â€
â€œMoney!â€ gasped Hakkabut; â€œI have no money.â€
He was pale with fright, and hardly knew what he was
â€œ Falsehood!â€ roared Rosette. â€œDo you think I cannot
And peering down into the drawer which the Jew was
vainly trying to close, he cried:
â€œHeaps of money! French money! Five-franc pieces!
the very thing Iwant! I must have them!â€
The captain and his friends, who had returned to the
cabin, looked on with mingled amusement and. bewilder-
â€œThey are mine!â€ shrieked Hakkabut.
â€œJT will have them!â€ shouted the professor
â€œYou shall kill me first !â€ bellowed the Jew.
â€œNo, but I must!â€ persisted the professor again.
It was manifestly time for Servadac to interfere.
â€œMy dear professor,â€ he said, smiling, â€œallow me to
settle this little matter for you.â€
â€œAh! your Excellency,â€™ moaned the agitated Jew,
â€œprotect me! Iam but a poor manâ€”â€”â€
â€œNone of that, Hakkabut. Hold your tongue.â€
And, turning to Rosette, the captain said :
â€œTf, sir, I understand right, you require some silver five-
franc pieces for your operation ?â€
â€œForty,â€ said Rosette, surlily.
â€œTwo hundred francs!â€ whined Hakkabut.
â€œ Silence !â€ cried the captain.
â€œT must have more than that,â€ the professor continued.
â€œT want ten two-franc pieces, and twenty half-francs.â€
â€œLet me see,â€ said Servadac, â€œhow much is that in all ?
Two hundred and thirty francs, is it not ?â€
â€œT dare say it is,â€ answered the professor.
â€œCount, may I ask you,â€ continued Servadac, â€œto be
security to the Jew for this loan to the professor ?â€
â€œLoan!â€ cried the Jew, â€œdo you mean only a loan?â€
â€œSilence!â€ again shouted the captain.
Count Timascheff, expressing his regret that his purse
contained only paper money, begged to place it at Captain
â€œNo paper, no paper!â€ exclaimed Isaac. â€œPaper has
no currency in Gallia.â€ /
â€œ About as much as silver,â€ coolly retorted the count.
â€œJT am a poor man,â€ began the Jew.
â€œNow, Hakkabut, stop these miserable lamentations of
yours, once for all. Hand us over two hundred and thirty
francs in silver money, or we will proceed to help our-
Isaac began to yell with all his might: â€œ Thieves!
Ina moment Ben Zoofâ€™s hand was clasped tightly over
â€œ Stop that howling, Belshazzar!â€
â€˜ Let him alone, Ben Zoof. He will soon come to his
senses,â€ said Servadac, quietly.
When the old Jew had recovered himself, the captain
â€œNow, tell us, what interest do you expect ?â€
Nothing could overcome the Jewâ€™s anxiety to make
another good bargain. He began: ,
â€œ Money is scarce, very scarce, you know.
â€œNo more of this!â€ shouted Servadac. â€œ What interest,
I say, what interest do you ask?â€
Faltering and undecided still, the Jew went on:
â€œVery scarce, you know. Ten francs a day, I think,
would not be unreasonable, consideringâ€”â€” â€
The count had no patience to allow him to finish what
he was about to say. He flung down notes to the value
of several roubles. With a greediness that could not be
concealed, Hakkabut grasped them all. Paper, indeed,
they were ; but the cunning Israelite knew that they would
MONEY AT A PREMIUM. 259
in any case be security far beyond the value of his cash.
He was making some eighteen hundred per cent. interest,
and accordingly chuckled within himself at his unexpected
stroke of business.
The professor pocketed his French coins with a satis-
faction far more demonstrative.
â€œGentlemen,â€ he said, â€œwith these franc pieces I obtain
the means of determining accurately both a metre and a
260 HECTOR SERVADAC.
A QUARTER of an hour later, the visitors to the Hansa had
re-assembled in the common hall of Ninaâ€™s Hive.
â€œ Now, gentlemen, we can proceed,â€ said the professor.
â€œMay I request that this table may be cleared?â€
Ben Zoof removed the various articles that were lying
on the table, and the coins which had been just been
borrowed from the Jew were placed upon it in three piles,
according to their value.
The professor commenced :
â€œSince none of you gentlemen, at the time of the shock,
took the precaution to save either a metre measure or a
kilogramme weight from the earth, and since both these
articles: are necessary for the calculation on which we are
engaged, I have been obliged to devise means of my own
to replace them.â€
This exordium delivered, he paused and seemed to
watch its effect upon his audience, who, however, were too
well acquainted with the professor's temper to make any
attempt to exonerate themselves from the rebuke of care-
lessness, and submitted silently to the implied reproach.
â€œT have taken pains,â€ he continued, â€œto satisfy myself
that these coins are in proper condition for my purpose.
I find them unworn and unchipped ; indeed, they are
almost new. They have been hoarded instead of circulated ;
â€˜â€œ* Here we have the measure of a Metre exactly.â€
GALLIA WEIGHED. 261
accordingly, they are fit to be utilized for my purpose of
obtaining the precise length of a terrestrial metre.â€ *
Ben Zoof looked on in perplexity, regarding the
lecturer with much the same curiosity as he would have
watched the performances of a travelling mountebank at
a fair in Montmartre ; but Servadac and his two friends
had already divined the professorâ€™s meaning. They knew
that French coinage is all decimal, the franc being the
standard of which the other coins, whether gold, silver, or
copper, are multiples or measures; they knew, too, that the
calibre or diameter of each piece of money is rigourously
determined by law, and that the diameters of the silver
coins representing five francs, two francs, and fifty centimes
measure thirty-seven, twenty-seven, and eighteen milli-
metres f respectively ; and they accordingly guessed that
Professor Rosette had conceived the plan of placing such
a number of these coins in juxtaposition that the length
of their united diameters should measure exactly the
thousand millimetres that make up the terrestrial metre.
They had conjectured rightly. From the pile of forty
five-franc pieces, Rosette took ten and spread them out
lengthwise in a row upon the table; to these he added
the ten two-franc pieces and the twenty fifty-centimes.
â€œNow, gentlemen, â€ he said, â€œhere we have the measure
of a metre exactly.â€
And, taking a scrap of paper, he put gen rapidly a
few figures, which he handed round for general inspection.
The little calculation was simple enough :â€”
Io 5-franc pieces, each 37 millimetres in diameter = 37 metre.
10 2-franc â€ 27 a3 - = Â°27 4,
20 So-centime ,, 18 om bs = 360 Â«,,
Total... +Â» I'0o metre.
â€œT understand perfectly,â€ said Servadac, when he had
examined the paper; â€œthe straight line drawn through the
centres of these coins represents a terrestrial metre.â€
â€œPrecisely,â€ replied the professor.
* A metre = 39Â°371 inches. + A millimetre= 03937 inches.
262 HECTOR SERVADAC,
â€œDear me!â€ exclaimed Ben Zoof, in astonishment,
â€œwhat a thing it is to be learned!â€
â€œNot much learning wanted for that!â€ said the pro-
fessor, shrugging his shoulders contemptuously, as he
made his marks on the table corresponding to the ex-
tremities of the line of money.
The measurement thus obtained was by means of a
pair of compasses divided accurately into ten equal
portions, or decimetres, each of course 3Â°93 inches long.
A lath was then cut of this exact length and given to the
engineer of the Dobryna, who was directed to cut out of
the solid rock the cubic decimetre required by the pro-
The next business was to obtain the precise weight of
a kilogramme. This was by no means a difficult matter.
Not only the diameters, but also the weights, of the French
coins are rigidly determined by law, and as the silver five-
franc pieces always weigh exactly twenty-five grammes, the
united weight of forty of these coins is known to amount
to one kilogramme.*
â€œOh!â€ cried Ben Zoof; â€œto be able to do all this I
say you must be rich as well as learned.â€
With a good-natured laugh at the orderlyâ€™s remark,
the meeting adjourned for a few hours.
By the appointed time the engineer had finished his
task, and with all due care had a prepared a.cubic decimetre
of the material of the comet.
Â® Appended is a table of the weights of various French coins :â€”
In goid : 100 francs weigh 32Â°25 grammes.
5O 5, 9) 6Â°12 a
20 ;, Â» O45 4
10 > 2? 3Â°22 2?
5 29 ree I â€˜61 9
Insilver: 5 ,, 92 25Â°00 Be
. ; 2 bf 99 10Â°00 22
T 5, sÂ» 5Â°00 â€
5 â€ â€ 2Â°50 9
In copper: â€˜I 4; 9Â» IO'0O â€˜gy
05 59 â€ 5Â°00 29
"02 4 99 2Â°00 â€
OI 59 Â» 00 9
He suspended the Money-bag to the Hook.
GALLIA WEIGHED. 263
â€œNow, gentlemen,â€ said Professor Rosette, â€œwe are in
a position to complete our calculation ; we can now arrive
at Galliaâ€™s attraction, density, and mass.â€
Every one gave him their complete attention.
â€œ Before I proceed,â€ he resumed, â€œI must recall to your
minds Newtonâ€™s general law, â€˜that the attraction of two
bodies is directly proportional to the product of their
masses, and inversely proportional to the square of their
â€œYes,â€ said Servadac; â€œ we remember that.â€
â€œWell, then,â€ continued the professor, â€œkeep it in
mind for a few minutes now. Look here! In this bag
are forty five-franc piecesâ€”altogether they weigh exactly a
kilogramme ; by which I mean that if we were on the
earth, and I were to hang the bag on the hook of the
steelyard, the indicator on the dial would register one
kilogramme. This is clear enough, I suppose ?â€
As he spoke the professor designedly kept his eyes
fixed upon Ben Zoof. He was avowedly following the
example of Arago, who was accustomed always in lecturing
to watch the countenance of the least intelligent of his
audience, and when he felt that he had made his meaning
clear to him, he. concluded that he must have succeeded
with all the rest.* In this case, however, it was technical
ignorance, rather than any lack of intelligence, that justi-
fied the selection of the orderly for this special attention.
Satisfied with his scrutiny of Ben Zoofâ€™s face, the
professor went on:
â€œ And now, gentlemen, we have to see what these coins
weigh here upon Gallia.â€
He suspended the money-bag to the hook; the
needle oscillated, and stopped.
* On this subject an amusing anecdote is related by the illustrious
astronomer himself. One day, just after he had been alluding to this as his
usual habit, a young man entered the room, and feeling sure the lecturer knew
him well, saluted him accordingly. â€˜I regret I have not the pleasure of your
acquaintance,â€ said M. Arago. â€˜You surprise me,â€ replied the young
student ; â€˜*not only am I most regular in my attendance at your lectures, but
you never take your eyes off me from the beginning to the end.â€
264 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œRead it off!â€ he said.
The weight registered was one hundred and thirty-
three grammes. |
â€œThere, gentlemen, one hundred and _ thirty-three
grammes! Less than one-seventh of a kilogramme!
You see, consequently, that the force of gravity here
on Gallia is not one-seventh of what it is upon the earth ! â€
â€œInteresting!â€ cried Servadac, â€œmost interesting!
But let us go on and compute the mass.â€
â€œNo, captain, the density first,â€ said Rosette.
â€œCertainly,â€ said the lieutenant; â€œfor, as we already
know the volume, we can determine the mass as soon as
we have ascertained the density.â€
The professor took up the cube of rock.
â€œYou know what this is,â€™ he went on to say. â€œ You
know, gentlemen, that this block is a cube hewn from the
substance of which everywhere, all throughout your voyage
of circumnavigation, you found Gallia to be composedâ€”
a substance to which your geological attainments did not
suffice to assign a name.â€
â€œOur curiosity will be gratified,â€ said Servadac, â€œif
you will enlighten our ignorance.â€
But Rosette did not take the slightest notice of the
â€œ A substance it is which no doubt constitutes the sole
material of the comet, extending from its surface to its
innermost depths. The probability is that it would be
so; your experience confirms that probability: you have
found no trace of any other substance. Of this rock
here is a solid decimetre; let us get at its weight, and we
shall. have the key which will unlock the problem of
the whole weight of Gallia. We have demonstrated that
the force of attraction here is only one-seventh of what it
is upon the earth, and shall consequently have to multiply
the apparent weight of our cube by seven, in order to
ascertain its proper weight. Do you understand me,
goggle-eyes ?â€ .
This was addressed to Ben Zoof, who was staring hard
GALLIA WEIGHED. 265
â€œNo!â€ said Ben Zoof.
â€œJT thought not; it is of no use waiting for your puzzle-
brains to make it out. I must talk to those who caz
The professor took the cube, and, on attaching it to the
hook of the steelyard, found that its apparent weight was
one kilogramme and four hundred and thirty grammes.
â€œHere it is, gentlemen ; one kilogramme, four hundred
and thirty grammes. Multiply that by seven ; the product
is, as nearly as possible, ten kilogrammes. â€˜What, there-
fore, is our conclusion? Why, that the density of Gallia
is just about double the density of the earth, which we
know is only five kilogrammes to a cubic decimetre. Had
it not been for this greater density, the attraction of Gallia
would only have been one-fifteenth instead of one- seventh
of the terrestrial attraction.â€
The professor could not refrain from exhibiting his
gratification that, however inferior in volume, in density, at
least, his comet had the advantage over the earth.
Nothing further now remained than to apply the in-
vestigations thus finished to the determining of the mass
or weight. This was a matter of little labour.
Since a cubic decimetre of the hard substance of Gallia
would weigh ten kilogrammes upon the earth, Gallia would
weigh as many times ten kilogrammes as there were cubic
decimetres in its volume. This volume was already known
to be 211,432,460 cubic kilometres (z.Â¢., 47,880,000. cubic
miles) or 211,432,469 millions of millions of cubic deci-
metresâ€”a number expressed by 21 digitsâ€”and these would
represent the number of kilogrammes in the mass of
Gallia, which consequently weighed 4,788,565,540 millions
of millions of kilogrammes less than the earth.
â€œAnd do you know how much the earth weighs?â€ *
inquired Ben Zoof, almost losing his breath at these
â€œTf I were to tell you, wiseacre, I do not suppose you
* The earthâ€™s weight is estimated at 6,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000 tons.
266 HECTOR SERVADAC.
would be much the wiser. Have you any idea of what is
meant by a thousand millions?â€
â€œNot much, I confess,â€ said Ben Zoof.
â€œWell, then, if you owed a thousand million francs,
eighteen or nineteen centuries ago, at the beginning of the
Christian era, and had been paying a franc a minute ever
since, you would not have got out of debt yet.â€
â€œNo, that I shouldn't,â€ answered the orderly; â€œa
quarter of an hour of that fun would have ruined me. But
really,â€ he added, â€œIshould like to hear how much the
â€œFive millions, eight hundred and _ seventy-five
thousand â€˜trillions of kilogrammesâ€”a number which is
formed of twenty-six figures,â€ said Lieutenant Procope.
â€œAnd the moon?â€
â€œSeventy thousand trillions of kilogrammes.â€
â€œAnd the sun?â€ Ben Zoof went on.
â€œTwo quintillions of kilogrammesâ€”thirty-one figures,â€
answered the professor.
â€œAy,â€ said Ben Zoof, â€œI dare say you are right within
a quarter of a gramme.â€
â€™ The professor frowned and looked angry, but the
captain diverted him by making a remark about the
diminished force of gravity.
â€œYes,â€ said Rosette; â€œour muscular force is seven times
as great as it was.â€™ A man who used to be able to carry
a couple of hundred-weight can here carry fourteen.â€
â€˜â€œâ€˜T suppose that accounts for our being able to jump so
high,â€ observed Ben Zoof.
â€œAnd if Gallia had been lighter, Ben Zoof, you would
have been able to jump higher still,â€ the lieutenant said.
â€œAy, perhaps even over Montmartre,â€ added the
professor, with a malicious twinkle in his eye.
The orderly winced under the retaliation.
â€œLet me see,â€ said the captain ; â€œwhat is the force of
gravity upon the various planets ?â€
â€œYou canâ€™t mean, Servadac, that you have forgotten
that? But you always were a disappointing pupil.â€
GALLIA WEIGHED. 267
The captain could not help himself: he was forced to
confess that his memory had failed him.
â€œWell, then,â€ said the professor, â€œI must remind you.
Taking the attraction on the earth as 1, that on Mercury
is 1Â°15; on Venus it is â€˜92, on Mars â€˜5, and on Jupiter 2Â°45;
on the moon the attraction is â€˜16, whilst on the surface of
the sun a terrestial kilogramme would weigh 28 kilo-
â€œ Therefore, if a man upon the surface of the sun were
to fail down, he would have considerable difficulty in
getting up.again. A cannon-ball, too, would only fly a few
yards,â€ said Lieutenant Procope.
â€œA jolly battle-fleld for cowards!â€ exclaimed Ben
â€œNot so jolly, Ben Zoof, as you fancy,â€ said his master;
â€œthe cowards would be too heavy to run away.â€
Ben Zoof ventured the remark that, as the smallness
of Gallia secured to its inhabitants such an increase of
strength and agility, he was almost sorry that it had not
been a little smaller still.
â€œThough it could not anyhow have been very much
smaller,â€ he added, looking slily at the professor.
â€œIdiot!â€ exclaimed Rosette. â€œ Your head is too light
already; a puff of wind would blow it away.â€
â€œTI must take care of my head, then, and hold it on,â€
replied the irrepressible orderly.
Unable to get the last word, the professor was about
to retire, when Servadac detained him.
â€œPermit me to ask you one more question,â€ he said.
â€œCan you tell me what is the nature of the soil of Gallia?â€
â€œYes, I can answer that. And in this matter I do not
think your impertinent orderly will venture to put Mont-
martre into the comparison. This soil is of a substance
not unknown upon the earth.â€ And speaking very slowly,
the professor said : â€œIt contains 70 per cent. of tellurium,
and 30 per cent. of gold.â€
Servadac uttered an exclamation of surprise.
â€œAnd the sum of the specific gravities of these two
268 HECTOR SERVADAC.
substances is 10, precisely the number that represents
â€œA comet of gold!â€ ejaculated the captain.
â€œYes; a realization of what the illustrious Maupertuis
has already deemed probable,â€ replied the astronomer.
â€œTf Gallia, then, should ever become attached to the
earth, might it not bring about an important revolution in
all monetary affairs ?â€ inquired the count.
â€œNo doubt about it!â€ said Rosette, with manifest
satisfaction. â€œIt would supply the world with enoue
246,000 trillions of francs.â€
â€œIt would make gold about as cheap as dirt, I suppose,â€
The last observation, however, was entirely lost upon
the professor, who had left the hall with an air almost
majestic, and was already on his way to the observatory.
â€œAnd what, I wonder, is the use of all these big
figures?â€ said Ben Zoof to his master, when next they
were alone together.
â€œThatâ€™s just the charm of them, my good fellow,â€ was
the captain's cool reply, â€œthat they are of no use what-
( 269 )
JUPITER SOMEWHAT CLOSE.
EXCEPT as to the time the comet would take to revolve
round the sun, it must be confessed that all the professorâ€™s
calculations had comparatively little interest for any one
but himself, and he was consequently left very much to
pursue his studies in solitude.
The following day was the Ist of August, or, according
to Rosette, the 63rd of April. In the course of this month
Gallia would travel 16,500,000 leagues, attaining at the
end a distance of 197,000,000 leagues from the sun. This
would leave 81,000,000 leagues more to be traversed before
reaching the aphelion of the 15th of January, after which
it would begin once more to approach the sun.
But meanwhile, a marvellous world, never before so
close within the range of human vision, was revealing
itself. No wonder that Palmyrin Rosette cared so little
to quit his observatory ; for throughout those calm, clear
Gallian nights, when the book of the firmament lay open
before him, he could revel in a spectacle which no previous
astronomer had ever been permitted to enjoy.
The glorious orb that was becoming so conspicuous
an object was none other than the planet Jupiter, the
largest of all the bodies existing within the influence of
solar attraction. During the seven months that had
elapsed since its collision with the earth, the comet had
been continuously approaching the planet, until the dis-
279 HECTOR SERVADAC.
tance between them was scarcely more than 61,000,000
leagues, and this would go on diminishing until the 15th
Under these circumstances, was it perfectly certain that
no danger could accrue? Was not Gallia, when its path-
way led it into such close proximity to this enormous
planet, running a risk of being attracted within its in-
fluence? Might not that influence be altogether dis-
astrous? The professor, it is true, in his estimate of the
duration of his cometâ€™s revolution, had represented that he
had made all proper allowances for any perturbations that
would be caused either by Jupiter, by Saturn, or by Mars;
but what if there were any errors in his calculations?
what if there should be any elements of disturbance on
which he had not reckoned ?
Speculations of this kind became more and more fre-
quent, and Lieutenant Procope pointed out that the danger
incurred might be of a fourfold character: first, that the
comet, being irresistibly attracted, might be drawn on to
the very surface of the planet, and there annihilated ;
secondly, that as the result of being brought under that
attraction, it might be transformed into aâ€™ satellite, or
rather a sub-satellite, of that mighty world; thirdly, that
it might be diverted into a new orbit, which would never
be coincident with the ecliptic ; or, lastly, its course might
be so retarded that it would only reach the ecliptic too late
to permit any junction with the earth. The occurrence of
any one of these contingencies would be fatal to their
hopes of re-union with the globe, from which they had been
so strangely severed.
To Rosette, who, without family ties (which he had
never found leisure or inclination to contract), had no
shadow of desire to return to the earth, it would be only
the first of these probabilities that could give him any
concern. Total annihilation might not accord with his
views, but he would be quite content for Gallia to miss
its mark with regard to the earth, indifferent whether
it revolved as a new satellite around Jupiter, or whether it
JUPITER SOMEWHAT CLOSE. 271
wended its course through the untraversed regions of the
The rest of the community, however, by no means
sympathized with the professorâ€™s sentiments, and the
following month was a period of considerable doubt and
On the tst of September the distance between Gallia
and Jupiter was precisely the same as the mean distance
between the earth and the sun; on the 16th, the distance
was further reduced to 26,000,000 leagues. The planet
began to assume enormous dimensions, and it almost
seemed as if the comet had already been deflected from
its elliptical orbit, and was rushing on in a straight line
towards the overwhelming luminary.
The more they contemplated the character of this
gigantic planet, the more they became impressed with the
likelihood of a serious perturbation in their own course.
The diameter of Jupiter is 85,390 miles, nearly eleven
times as great as that of the earth; his volume is 1387
times, and his mass 300 times greater; and although the
mean density is only about a quarter of that of the earth,
and only a third of that of water (whence it has been
supposed that the superficies of Jupiter is liquid), yet his
other proportions were large enough to warrant the appre-
hension that important disturbances might result from his
â€œTI forget my astronomy, lieutenant,â€ said Servadac.
â€œTell me all you can about this formidable neighbour.â€
The lieutenant having refreshed his memory by re-
ference to Flammarionâ€™s â€œ RÃ©cits de lâ€™Infini,â€ of which he
had a Russian translation, and some other books, pro-
ceeded to recapitulate that Jupiter accomplishes his revo-
lution round the sun in 4332 days, 14 hours, and 2 minutes;
that he travels at the rate of 467 miles a minute along an
orbit measuring 2976 millions of miles ; and that his rota-
tion on his axis occupies only 9 hours and Â§5 minutes.
â€œ His days, then, are shorter than ours?â€ interrupted
272 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œ Considerably,â€ answered the lieutenant, who went on
to describe how the displacement of a point at the equator
of Jupiter was twenty-seven times as rapid as on the earth,
causing the polar compression to be about 2378 miles:
how the axis, being nearly perpendicular, caused the days
and nights to be nearly of the same length, and the seasons
to be invariable ; and how the amount of light and heat
received by the planet is only a twenty-fifth part of that
received by the earth, the average distance from the sun
oeing 475,693,000 miles.
â€œAnd how about these satellites ? Sometimes, I sup-
ose, Jupiter has the benefit of four moons all shining at
once ?â€ asked Servadac.
Of the satellites, Lieutenant Procope went on to say
that one is rather smaller than our own moon; that another
moves round its primary at an interval about equal to the
moonâ€™s distance from ourselves; but that they all revolve
in considerably less time : the first takes only 1 day, 18 hrs.,
27 min.; the second takes 3 days, 13 hrs., 14 min.; the
third, 7 days, 3 hrs. 42 min.; whilst the largest of all takes
but 16 days, 16 hrs, 32 min. The most remote revolves
round the planet at a distance of 1,192,820 miles.
â€œThey have been enlisted into the service of science,â€
said Procope. â€œIt is by their movements that the velocity
of light has been calculated ; and they have been made
available for the determination of terrestrial longitudes.â€
â€œTt must be a wonderful sight,â€ said the captain.
â€œYes,â€ answered Procope. â€œTI often think Jupiter is
like a prodigious clock with four hands.â€
â€œT only hope that we are not destined to make a fifth
hand,â€ answered Servadac.
Such was the style of the conversation that was day
by day reiterated during the whole month of suspense.
Whatever topic might be started, it seemed soon to settle
down upon the huge orb that was looming upon them with
such threatening aspect.
Amongst other subjects that were started, the ages ol
the various planets were discussed.
â€˜* Let me read to you a few lines from Flammarion.â€
JUPITER SOMEWHAT CLOSE. 273
â€œLet me read to you,â€ said Lieutenant Procope, â€œa few
lines from Flammarion.â€
And commencing at a passage he had marked, he
â€œThe more remote that these planets are from the sun,
the more venerable and advanced in formation are they
found to be. Neptune, situated 2,746,271,000 miles from
the sun, issued from the solar nebulosity, thousands of
millions of centuries back. Uranus, revolving 1,753,851,000
miles from the-centre of the planetary system, is of an age
amounting to many hundred millions of centuries. Jupiter,
the colossal planet, gravitating at a distance of 475,693,000
miles, may be reckoned as 70,000,000 centuries old.
Mars has existed for 1,000,000,000 years at a distance of
139,212,000 miles. The earth, 91,430,000 miles from the
sun, quitted his burning bosom 100,000,000 years ago.
Venus, revolving now 66,131,000 miles away, may be
assigned the age of 50,000,000 years at least ; and Mercury,
nearest of all, and youngest of all, has been revolving at
a distance of 35,393,000 miles for the space of 10,000,000
yearsâ€”the same time as the moon has been evolved from
Servadac listened attentively. He was at a loss what
to say ; and the only reply he made to the recital of this
novel theory was to the effect that, if it were true, he
would prefer being captured by Mercury than by Jupiter,
for Mercury, being so much the younger, would probably
prove the less imperative and self-willed master.
It was on the 1st of September that the comet had
crossed the orbit of Jupiter, and on the Ist of October
the two bodies were calculated to be at their minimum
separation. No direct shock, however, could be appre-
hended ; the demonstration was sufficiently complete that
the orbit of Gallia did not coincide with that of thÃ© planet,
the orbit of Jupiter being inclined at an angle of 1Â° 109â€™
to the orbit of the earth, with which that of Gallia was, no
â€˜As the month of September verged towards its close,
274 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Jupiter began to wear an aspect that must have excited
the admiration of the most ignorant or the most indifferent
observer. Its salient points were illumined with novel and
radiant tints, and the solar rays, reflected from its disc,
glowed with a mingled softness and intensity upon Gal.ia,
so that Nerina had to pale her beauty. ;
Who could wonder that Rosette, enthusiast as he was,
should be irremovable from his observatory? Who could
expect otherwise than that, with the prospect before him of
viewing the giant among planets, ten times nearer than
any mortal eye had ever done, he should have begrudged
every moment that distracted his attention
Meanwhile, as Jupiter grew large, the sun grew small.
From its increased remoteness the diameter of the
sunâ€™s disc was diminished to 5â€™ 46â€.
And what an increased interest began to be associated
with the satellites! They were visible to the naked eye!
Was it not a new record in the annals of science?
Although it is acknowledged that they are not. ordi-
narily visible on earth without the aid of a somewhat
powerful telescope, it has been asserted that a favoured
few, endued with extraordinary powers of vision, have
been able to identify them with an unassisted eye; but
here, at least, in Ninaâ€™s Hive were many rivals, for every
one could so far distinguish them one from the other as to
describe them by their colours. The first was of a dull
white shade; the second was blue; the third was white
and brilliant ; the fourth was orange, at times approaching
to a red.
It was further observed that Jupiter itself was almost
void of scintillation.
Rosette, in his absorbing interest for the glowing
glories of the planet, seemed to be beguiled into com-
parative forgetfulness.of the charms of his comet ; but no
astronomical enthusiasm of the professor could quite allay
the general apprehension that some serious-collision might
Time passed on. There was nothing to justify appre-
JUPITER SOMEWHAT CLOSF 275
hension. The question was continually being asked,
â€œWhat does the professor really think ?â€
â€œOur friend the professor,â€™ said Servadac, â€œis not
likely to tell us very much ; but we may feel pretty certain
of one thing: he wouldnâ€™t keep us long in the dark, if he
thought we were not going back to the earth again. The
greatest satisfaction he could have would be to inform us
that we had parted from the earth for ever.â€
â€œT trust from my very soul,â€ said the count, â€œthat his
prognostications are correct.â€
â€œThe more I see of him, and the more I listen to him,â€
replied Servadac, â€œthe more I become convinced that his
calculations are based on a solid foundation, and will prove
correct to the minutest particular.â€
Ben Zoof here interrupted the conversation.
â€œJ have something on my mind,â€ he said.
â€œSomething on your mind? Out with it!â€ said the
â€œThat telescope!â€ said the orderly; â€œit strikes me
that that telescope which the old professor keeps pointed up
at yonder big sun is bringing it down straightupon us.â€
The captain laughed heartily.
â€œLaugh, captain, if you like; but I feel disposed to
break the old telescope into atoms.â€
â€œBen Zoof,â€ said Servadac, his laughter exchanged for
a look of stern displeasure, â€œ touch â€˜that telescope, and
you shall swing for it!â€
The orderly looked astonished.
â€œT am governour here,â€ said Servadac.
Ben Zoof knew what his master meant, and to him his
masterâ€™s wish was law.
The interval between the comet and Jupiter was, by the
Ist of October, reduced to 43,090,090 milesâ€”about twice
the distance of the moon from the earth. Now, if Jupiter
were, with regard to the earth, to change places with the
moon, it is the indisputable attestation of science that
its disc would be full thirty-four times larger than the
moon's ; it is consequently easy to imagine what was the
276 HECTOR SERVADAC.
wondrous brilliancy of Jupiter when surveyed in the same
The belts all parallel to Jupiter's equator were very
distinct in their markings. Those immediately north and
south of the equator were of a dusky hue; those toward
the poles were alternately dark and light ; the intervening
spaces of the planetâ€™s superficies, between edge and edge,
being intensely bright. The belts themselves were occa-
sionally broken by spots, which the records of astronomy
describe as varying both in form and in extent.
The physiology of belts and spots alike was beyond the
astronomerâ€™s power to ascertain; and even if he should be
destined once again to take his place in an astronomical
congress on the earth, he would be just as incapable as
ever of determining whether or no they owed their exist-
ence to the external accumulation of vapour, or to some
internal agency. It would not be Professor Rosetteâ€™s lot
to enlighten his brother savants to any great degree as to
the mysteries that are associated with this, which must
ever rank as one of the most magnificent amongst the
As the comet approached the critical point of its career
it cannot be denied that there was an unacknowledged
consciousness of alarm. Mutually reserved, though ever
courteous, the count and the captain were secretly drawn
together by the prospect of a common danger; and as
their return to the earth appeared to them to become more
and more dubious, they abandoned their views of narrow
isolation, and tried to embrace the wider philosophy that
acknowledges the credibility of a habitable universe.
But no philosophy could be proof against the common
instincts of their humanity ; their hearts, their hopes, were
set upon their natural home; no speculation, no science,
no experience, could induce them to give up their fond and
sanguine anticipation that once again they were to come in
contact with the earth.
â€œOnly let us escape Jupiter,â€ said Lieutenant Procope,
repeatedly, and we are free from anxiety.â€
JUPITER SOMEWHAT CLOSE. 277
â€œBut would not Saturn lie ahead?â€ asked Servadac
and the count in one breath.
â€œNo!â€ said Procope; â€œthe orbit of Saturn is remote,
and does not come athwart our path. Jupiter is our sole
hindrance. Of Jupiter we must say, as William Tell
Â§ Once through the ominous pass
And all is well.â€™
The 15th of October came, the date of the nearest
approximation of the comet to the planet. They were
only 31,000,000 miles apart. What would now transpire ?
Would Gallia be diverted from its proper way ? or would
it hold the course that the astronomer had predicted ?
Early next morning the captain ventured to take the
count and the lieutenant up to the observatory.
The professor was in the worst of tempers.
That was enough. It was enough, without a word, to
indicate the course which events had taken.
The comet was pursuing an unaltered way.
The astronomer, correct in his prognostications, ought
to have been the most proud and contented of philoso-
phers ; his pride'â€˜and contentment were both overshadowed
by the certainty that the career of his comet was destined
to be so transient, and that it must inevitably once again
come into collision with the earth.
278 HECTOR SERVADAC.
MARKET PRICES IN GALLIA.
â€œ ALL right!â€ said Servadac, convinced by the professorâ€™s
ill humour that the danger was past; â€œno doubt we are
in for a two yearsâ€™ excursion, but fifteen months more will
take us back to the earth!â€
â€œ And we shall see Montmartre again!â€ exclaimed Ben
Zoof, in tones that betrayed his delight in the anticipation.
To use a nautical expression, they had safely â€œ rounded
the point,â€™ and they had to be congratulated on their
successful navigation ; for if, under the influence of Jupiterâ€™s
attraction, the comet had been retarded for a single hour,
in that hour the earth would have already travelled
2,500,000 miles from the point where contact would ensue,
and many centuries would elapse before such a coincidence
would possibly again occur,
On the Ist of November Gallia and Jupiter were
40,000,000 miles apart. It was little more than ten weeks
to the 15th of January, when the comet would begin to
re-approach the sun. Though light and heat were now
reduced to a twenty-fifth part of their terrestrial intensity,
so that a perpetual twilight seemed to have settled over
Gallia, yet the population felt cheered even by the littie
that was left, and buoyed up by the hope that they should
ultimately regain their proper position with regard to the
great luminary, of which the temperature has been esti-
mated as not less than 5,000,000 degrees.
MARKET PRICES IN GALLIA. 279
Of the anxiety endured during the last two months
Isaac Hakkabut had known nothing. Since the day he
had done his lucky stroke of business he had never left the
tartan ; and after Ben Zoof, on the following day, had re-
turned the steelyard and the borrowed cash, receiving back
the paper roubles deposited, all communication between the
Jew and Ninaâ€™s Hive had ceased. In the course of the
few minutesâ€™ conversation which Ben Zoof had held with
him, he had mentioned that he knew that the whole soil
of Gallia was made of gold; but the old man, guessing
that the orderly was only laughing at him as usual, paid
no attention to the remark, and only meditated upon the
means he could devise to get every bit of the money in the
new world into his own possession.
No one grieved over the life of solitude which Hakka-
but persisted in leading. Ben Zoof giggled heartily, as he
repeatedly observed â€œit was astonishing how they recon-
ciled themselves to his absence.â€
The time came, however, when various circumstances
prompted him to think he must renew his intercourse with
the inhabitants of the Hive. Some of his goods were
beginning to spoil, and he felt the necessity of turning
them into money, if he would not be a loser; he hoped,
moreover, that the scarcity of his commodities would
secure very high prices.
It happened, just about this same time, that Ben Zoof
had been calling his masterâ€™s attention to the fact that
some of their most necessary provisions would soon be
running short, and that their stock of coffee, sugar, and
tobacco would want replenishing. Servadacâ€™s mind, of
course, turned to the cargo on board the Hazsa, and he
resolved, according to his promise, to apply to the Jew
and become a purchaser.
Mutual interest and necessity thus conspired to draw
Hakkabut and the captain together.
Often and often had-Isaac gloated in his solitude over
the prospect of first selling a portion of his merchandise
for all the gold and silver in the colony. His recent usurious
280 HECTOR SERVADAC.
transaction had whetted his appetite. He would next part
with some more of his cargo for all the paper-money they
could give him; but still he should have goods left, and
they would want these. Yes, they should have these too
tor promissory notes. Notes would hold good when they
got back again to the earth ; bills from his Excellency the
governour would be good bills ; anyhow there would be the
sheriff. By the God of Israel! he would get good prices,
and he would get fine interest !
Although he did not know it, he was proposing to
follow the practice of the Gauls of old, who advanced
money on bills for payment in a future life. Hakkabutâ€™s
â€œfuture life,â€ however, was not many months in advance
of the present.
Still Hakkabut hesitated to make the first advance, and
it was accordingly with much satisfaction that he hailed
Captain Servadacâ€™s appearance on board the Hansa.
â€œ Hakkabut,â€ said the captain, plunging without further
preface into business, â€œ we want some coffee, some tobacco,
and other things. I have come to-day to order them, to
settle the pice, and to-morrow Ben Zoof shall fetch the
â€œMerciful heavens!â€ the Jew began to whine; but
Servadac cut him short. _
â€œNone of that miserable howling! Business! I am
come to buy your goods. I shall pay for them.â€
â€œAh yes, your Excellency,â€ whispered the Jew, his
voice trembling like a street beggar. â€œ Donâ€™t impose on
me. I am poor; I am nearly ruined already.â€
â€œCease your wretched whining. I say!â€ cried Ser-
vadac. â€œI have told you once, I shall pay for all I
â€œReady money ?â€ asked Hakkabut.
â€œYes, ready money. What makes you ask?â€ said the
captain, curious to hear what the Jew would say.
â€œWell, you seeâ€”you see, your Excellency,â€ stammered
out the Jew, â€œto give credit to one wouldnâ€™t do, unless I
gave credit to another. You are solventâ€”I mean honour-
â€˜*T am come to buy your Goods.â€
MARKET PRICES IN GALLIA. 281
able, and his lordship the count is honourable ; but maybe
â€œWell?â€ said Servadac, waiting, but inclined to kick
the old rascal out of his sight.
â€œT shouldn't like to give credit,â€ he repeated.
â€œJT have not asked you for credit. I have told you,
you shall have ready money.â€
â€œVery good, your Excellency. But how will you pay
â€œPay you? Why, we shall pay you in gold and silver
and copper, while our money lasts, and when that is gone
we shall pay you in bank-notes.â€
â€œOh, no paper, no paper!â€ groaned out the Jew, re-
lapsing into his accustomed whine.
â€œ Nonsense, man!â€ cried Servadac.
â€œNo paper!â€ reiterated Hakkabut.
â€œWhy not? Surely you can trust the banks of Eng-
land, France, and Russia.â€
â€œ Ah no! I must have gold. Nothing so safe as gold.â€
â€œWell then,â€ said the captain, not wanting to lose his
temper, â€œ you shall have it your own way ; we have plenty
of gold for the present. We will leave the bank-notes for
The Jewâ€™s countenance brightened, and Servadac, re-
peating that he should come again the next day, was about
to quit the vessel.
â€œOne moment, your Excellency,â€™ said Hakkabut,
sidling up with a hypocritical smile; â€œI suppose Iam to
fix my own prices.â€
â€œYou will, of course, charge ordinary pricesâ€”proper
market-prices ; European prices, I mean.â€
â€œMerciful heavens!â€ shrieked the old man, â€œyou
rob me of my rights; you defraud me of my privilege.
The monopoly of the market belongs to me. It is the
custom ; it is my right ; it is my privilege to fix my own
Servadac made him understand that he had no inten-
tion of swerving from his decision.
282 HECTOR SERVADAC.
â€œMerciful heavens !â€ again howled the Jew, â€œit is sheer
ruin. The time of monopoly is the time for Erne it is
the time for speculation.â€
â€œThe very thing, Hakkabut, that I am anxious to
prevent. Just stop now, and think a minute. You seem
to forget my rights; you are forgetting that, if I please, I
can confiscate all your cargo for the common use. You
ought to think yourself lucky in getting any price at all.
Be contented with European prices ; you will get no more.
However, I am not going to waste my breath on you. I
will come again to-morrow ;â€ and, without allowing Hak-
kabut time to renew his lamentations, Servadac went
All the rest of the day the Jew was muttering bitter
curses against the thieves of Gentiles in general, and the
Governour of Gallia in particular, who were robbing him of
his just profits, by binding him down to a maximum price
for his goods, just as if it were a time of revolution in the
state. But he would be even with them yet; he would
have it all out of them: he would make European prices
pay, after all) He had a planâ€”he knew how; and he
chuckled to himself, and grinned maliciously.
True to his word, the captain next morning arrived at
the tartan. He was accompanied by Ben Zoof and two
â€œGood morning, old Eleazar ; we have come to do our
little bit of friendly business with you, you know,â€ was Ben
â€œWhat do you want to-day ?â€ asked the Jew.
â€œTo-day we want coffee, and we want sugar, and we
want tobacco. We must have ten kilogrammes of each.
Take care they are all good; all first-rate. I am com-
missariat officer, and I am responsible.â€
â€œT thought you were the governourâ€™s aide-de-camp,â€
â€œSo I am, on state occasions; but to-day, I tell you,
I am superintendent of the commissariat department. Now,
look sharp !
i] ah iRSAEn DAD i THEE
(TLS TTA TTT
DODD DN LLL TT
Pan | bea |
The Index registered only 133 Grammes !
MARKET PRICES IN GALLIA, 283
Hakkabut hereupon descended into the hold of the
tartan, and soon returned, carrying ten packets of tobacco,
each weighing one kilogramme, and securely fastened by
strips of paper, labelled with the French Government stamp.
â€œTen kilogrammes of tobacco at twelve francs a kilo-
gramme: a hundred and twenty francs,â€ said the Jew.
Ben Zoof was on the point of laying down the money,
when Servadac stopped him.
â€œLet us just see whether the weight is correct.â€
Hakkabut pointed out that the weight was duly
registered on every packet, and that the packets had never
The captain, however, had his own special object in
view, and would not be diverted.
The Jew fetched his steelyard, and a packet of the
tobacco was suspended to it.
â€œ Merciful heavens!â€ screamed Isaac.
The index registered only 133 grammes!
â€œYou see, Hakkabut, I was right. I was perfectly
justified in having your goods put to the test,â€ said Serva-
dac, quite seriously.
â€œ Butâ€”but, your Excellencyâ€”â€”â€”â€ stammered out the
â€œYou will, of course, make up the deficiency,â€ the
captain continued, not noticing the interruption.
â€œOh, my lord, let me say: â€ began Isaac again.
â€œCome, come, old Caiaphas, do you hear? You are to
make up the deficiency,â€ exclaimed Ben Zoof.
â€œ Ah, yes, yes; butâ€”â€”â€
The unfortunate Israelite tried hard to speak, but his
agitation prevented him. He understood well enough the
cause of the phenomenon, but he was overpowered by the
conviction that the â€œcursed Gentilesâ€ wanted to cheat him.
He deeply regretted that he had not a pair of common
scales on board.
â€œCome, I say, old Jedediah, you are a long while
making up whatâ€™s short,â€ said Ben Zoof, while the Jew was
still stammering on.
284 HECTOR SERVADAC.
As soon as he recovered his power of articulation, Isaac
began to pour out a medley of lamentations and petitions
The captain was inexorable.
â€œVery sorry, you know, Hakkabut. It is not my fault
that the packet is short weight ; but I cannot pay for.a
kilogramme except I have a kilogramme.â€
Hakkabut pleaded for some consideration.
â€œ A bargain is a bargain,â€ said Servadac. â€œYou must
complete your contract.â€
And, moaning and groaning, the miserable man was
driven to make up the full weight as registered by his own
steelyard. He had to repeat the process with the sugar
and coffee : for every kilogramme he had to weigh seven.
Ben Zoof and the Russians jeered him most unmercifully.
â€œT say, old Mordecai, wouldnâ€™t you rather give your
goods away, than sell them at this rate? I would.â€
â€œT say, old Pilate, a monopoly isnâ€™t always a good
thing, is it?â€
â€œT say, old Sepharvaim, what a flourishing trade youâ€™re
Meanwhile seventy kilogrammes of each of the articles
required were weighed, and the Jew for each seventy had
to take the price of ten.
All along Captain Servadac had been acting only in jest.
Aware that old Isaac was an utter hypocrite, he had no
compunction in turning a business transaction with him
into an occasion for a bit of fun. But the joke at an end,
he took care that the Jew was properly paid all his legiti-
The party then quitted the Hansa ; Ben Zoof, who was
in the highest spirits, on his way to the Hive singing in a
stentorian voice the chorus of an old military song :â€”
â€˜Right joyous to the warriorâ€™s ear,
The clarion-trumpet bright and clear 3
But joyous too, yea, welcome more,
The music of the cannonâ€™s roar ! â€
( 285 )
FAR INTO SPACE.
A MONTH passed away. Gallia continued its course, bear-
ing its little population onwards, so far removed from the
ordinary influence of human passions that it might almost
be said that its sole ostensible vice was represented by the
greed and avarice of the miserable Jew.
After all, they were but making a voyageâ€”a strange, yet
a transient, excursion through solar regions hitherto un-
traversed ; but if the professor's calculations were correctâ€”
and why should they be doubted ?â€”their little vessel was
destined, after a two yearsâ€™ absence, once more to return
â€œto port.â€ The landing, indeed, might be a matter of
difficulty ; but with the good prospect before them of once
again standing on terrestrial shores, they had nothing tc
do at present except to make themselves as comfortable
as they could in their present quarters.
Thus confident in their anticipations, neither the cap-
tain, the count, nor the lieutenant felt under any serious
obligation to make any extensive provisions for the future;
they saw no necessity for expending the strength of the
people, during the short summer that would intervene upon
the long severity of winter, in the cultivation or the preser-
vation of their agricultural resources. Nevertheless, they
often found themselves talking over the measures they
would have been driven to adopt, if they had found them-
selves permanently attached to their present home.
286 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Even after the turning-point in their career, they knew
that at least nine months would have to elapse before the
sea would be open to navigation; but at the very first
arrival of summer they would be bound to arrange for the
Dobryna and the Hansa to re-transport themselves and a |
their animals to the shores of Gourbi Island, where they
would have to commence their agricultural labours to
secure the crops that must form their winter store. During
four months or thereabouts, they would lead the lives of
farmers and of sportsmen; but no sooner would their hay-
making and their corn harvest have been accomplished,
than they would be compelled again, like a swarm of bees,
to retire to their semi-troglodyte existence in the cells of
Now and then the captain and his friends found them-
selves speculating whether, in the event of their having to
spend another winter upon Gallia, some means could not
be devised by which the dreariness of a second residence
in the recesses of the volcano might be escaped. Would
not another exploring expedition possibly result in the
discovery of a vein of coal or other combustible matter,
which could be turned to account in warming some
erection which they might hope to put up? A prolonged
existence in their underground quarters was felt to be
monotonous and depressing, and although it might be all
very well for a man like Professor Rosette, absorbed in
astronomical studies, it was ill suited to the temperaments
of any of themselves for any longer period than was
One contingency there was, almostâ€™ too terrible to be
taken into account. Was it not to be expected that the
time might come when the internal fires of Gallia would
lose their activity, and the stream of lava would conse-
quently cease to flow? Why should Gallia be exempt from
the destiny that seemed to await every other heavenly
body? Why should it not roll onwards, like the moon, a
dark cold mass in space?
In the event of such a cessation of the volcanic
Another World was now becoming a Conspicuous Object in the Heavens.
FAR INTO SPACE. 287
eruption, whilst the comet was still at so great a distance
from the sun, they would indeed be at a loss to find a
substitute for what alone had served to render life endur-
able at a temperature of 60Â° below zero. Happily, how-
ever, there was at present no symptom of the subsidence
of the lavaâ€™s stream ; the volcano continued its regular and
unchanging discharge, and Servadac, ever sanguine, de-
clared that it was useless to give themselves any anxiety
upon the matter.
On the 15th of December, Gallia was 276,000,00c
leagues from the sun, and, as it was approximating to the
extremity of its axis major, would travel only some
11,000,000 or 12,090,009 leagues during the month.
Another world was now becoming a conspicuous object in
the heavens, and Palmyrin Rosette, after rejoicing in an
approach nearer to Jupiter than any other mortal man had
ever attained, was now to be privileged to enjoy a similar
opportunity of contemplating the planet Saturn. Not that
the circumstances were altogether so favourable. Scarcely
31,090,090 miles had separated Gallia from Jupiter; the
minimum distance of Saturn would not be less than
415,000,000 miles; but even this distance, although too
great to affect the cometâ€™s progress more than had been
duly reckoned on, was considerably shorter than what had
ever separated Saturn from the earth.
To get any information about the planet from Rosette
appeared quite impossible. Although equally by night
and by day he never seemed to quit his telescope, he did
not evince the slightest inclination to impart the result of
his observations. It was only from the few astronomical
works that happened to be included in the Dodrynaâ€™s
library that any details could be gathered, but these were
suificient to give a large amount of interesting information.
Ben Zoof, when he was made aware that the earth
would be invisible to the naked eye from the surface of
Saturn, declared that he then, for his part, did not care to
learn any more about such a planet; to him it was indis-
pensable that the earth should remain in sight, and it was
288 HECTOR SERVADAC.
his great consolation that hitherto his native sphere had
never vanished from his gaze.
At this date Saturn was revolving at a distance of
420,000,000 miles from Gallia, and consequently 874,440,000
miles from the sun, receiving only a hundredth part of
the light and heat which that luminary bestows upon
the earth. On consulting their books of reference, the
colonists found that Saturn completes his revolution round
the sun in a period of 29 years and 167 days, travelling at
the rate of more than 21,000 miles an hour along an orbit
measuring 5490 millions of miles in length. His circum-
ference is about 220,000 miles; his superficies, 144,000
millions of square miles; his volume, 143,846 millions of
cubic miles. Saturn is 735 times larger than the earth,
consequently he is smaller than Jupiter; in mass he is
only 90 times greater than the earth, which gives him a
density less than that of water. He revolves on his axis
in 10 hours 29 minutes, causing his own year to consist of
86,630 days; and his seasons, on account of the great
inclination of his axis to the plane of his orbit, are each of
the length of seven terrestrial years.
Although the light received from the sun-is compara-
tively feeble, the nights upon Saturn must be splendid.
Eight satellitesâ€”Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea,
Titan, Hyperion, and Japetusâ€”accompany the planet ;
Mimas, the nearest to its primary, rotating on its axis in
223 hours, and revolving at a distance of only 120,800
miles, whilst Japetus, the most remote, occupies 79 days in
its rotation, and revolves at a distance of 2,314,000 miles.
Another most important contribution to the magnifi-
cence of the nights upon Saturn is the triple ring with
which, as a brilliant setting, the planet is encompassed.
To an observer at the equator, this ring, which has been
estimated by Sir Willliam Herschel as scarcely 100 miles
in thickness, must have the appearance of a narrow band
of light passing through the zenith 12,000 miles above his
head. As the observer, however, increases his latitude
either north or south, the band will gradually widen out
FAR INTO SPACE, 289
into three detached and concentric rings, of which the
innermost, dark though transparent, is 9625 miles in
breadth; the intermediate one, which is brighter than the
planet itself, being 17,605 miles broad ; and the outer, of a
dusky hue, being 8660 miles broad.
Such, they read, is the general outline of this strange
appendage, which revolves in its own plane in 10 hours
32 minutes. Of what matter it is composed, and how it
resists disintegration, is still an unsettled question ; but it
might almost seem that the Designer of the universe, in
permitting its existence, had been willing to impart to His
intelligent creatures the manner in which celestial bodies are
evalved, and that this remarkable ring-system is a remnant
of the nebula from which Saturn was himself developed,
and which, from some unknown cause, has become solidified.
If at any time it should disperse, it would either fall into
fragments upon the surface of Saturn, or the fragments,
mutually coalescing, would form additional satellites to
circle round the planet in its path.
To any observer stationed on the planet, between the
extremes of lat. 45Â° on either side of the equator, these
wonderful rings would present various strange phenomena.
Sometimes they would appear as an illuminated arch, with
the shadow of Saturn passing over it like the hour-hand
over a dial; at other times they would be like a semi-
aureole of light. Very often, too, for periods of several
years, daily eclipses of the sun must occur through the
interposition of this triple ring.
Truly, with the constant rising and setting of the
satellites, some with bright discs at their full, others like
silver crescents, in quadrature, as well as by the encircling
rings, the aspect of the heavens from the surface of Saturn
must be as impressive as it is gorgeous,
Unable, indeed, the Gallians were to realize all the
marvels of this strange world. After all, they were prac-
tically a thousand times further off than the great astrono-
mers have been able to approach by means of their giant
telescopes. But they did not complain ; their little comet,
290 HECTOR SERVADAC.
they knew, was far safer where it was; far better out of
the reach of an attraction which, by affecting their path,
might have annihilated their best hopes.
While thus they failed to attain to any great personal
acquaintance with the glories of Saturn, still less did they
penetrate into any of the mysteries of the more distant
world of Uranus, although that planet, which from the
earth appears only as a star of the sixth magnitude, did
become visible to their naked eye. Yet as to the satellites
which accompany him â€˜on his revolution of 84 years, at a
distance of 1,753,851,000 miles from the sun, it must be
owned that not one of them was ever to be discerned.
With regard to Neptune, the most distant planet of our
system (until an Adams or Le Verrier of the future shall
discover another still more remote), Ze was beyond the
range of vision. Possibly he came within the focus of the
professorâ€™s telescope, but if so, the professor admitted no
one to the honour of his confidence. The general com-
munity, to inform themselves of any particulars as to the
planetâ€™s elements, had once again to fall back upon their
books. There they read that Neptuneâ€™s mean distance
from the sun is 2,746,271,000 miles ; that the period of his
revolution is 165 years; that, a spheroid 150 times greater
than the earth, he travels along his gigantic orbit at the
rate of 12,000 miles an hour; and that he is accompanied
by one satellite, which performs its subsidiary orbit at a
distance of about 220,000 miles.
The distance of 2,000,000,000 of miles at which Nep-
tune revolves, represents, according to our present know-
ledge, the extreme limits of the solar system ; yet, enormous
as that number may sound, it is quite insignificant when
compared with the number which represents the radius of
the sidereal group to which our sun is attached.
The sun, in fact, appears to form part of the expansive
nebula known as the Milky Way, in which he occupies the
modest place of a star of about the fourth magnitude.
Had Gallia been projected beyond the limits of the sunâ€™s
attraction, it is within the province of imagination to con-
Sometimes they would appear as an Illuminated Arch, with the Shadow
of Saturn passing over it.
FAR INTO SPACE. 29!
jecture that she would have taken for her new centre the
nearest of the fixed stars. This star is Alpha in the con-
stellation Centaur ; its distance from the sun is more than
16 millions of millions of miles, a number the prodigious-
ness of which may be realized to a certain degree by the
statement that light, which travels at the rate of 186,000
miles a second, would occupy no less than three years
and a half in traversing the interval between the star and
The distances of several of the brightest of the fixed
stars have been estimated. Amongst others, Vega in the
constellation Lyra is 100 millions of millions of miles
away ; Sirius in Canis Major, 123 millions of millions ; the
Pole-star, 282 millions of millions; and Capella, 340
millions of millions of -miles, a figure represented by no
less than fifteen digits.
The hard numerical statement of these enormous
figures, however, fails altogether in any adequate way to
convey a due impression of the magnitude of these. dis-
tances. Astronomers, in their: ingenuity, have endeavoured
to use some other basis, and have found â€œthe velocity of
lightâ€ to be convenient for their purpose. They have
made their representations something in this way :â€”
â€œSuppose,â€ they say, â€œan observer endowed with an
infinite length of vision: suppose him stationed on the
surface of Capella; looking thence towards the earth, he
would be a spectator of events that had happened seventy
years previously: transport him to a star ten times dis-
tant, and he will be reviewing the terrestrial sphere of 720
years back: carry him away further still, to a star so
remote that it requires something less than nineteen
centuries for light to reach it, and he would be a witness of
the birth and death of Christ: convey him further again,
and he shall be looking upon the dread desolation of the
Deluge: take him away further yet (for space is infinite),
and he shall be a spectator of the Creation of the spheres.
History is thus stereotyped in space; nothing once accome
plished can ever be effaced.â€
292 HECTOR SERVADAC.
Who can altogether be astonished that Palmyrin
Rosette, with his burning thirst for astronomical research,
should have been conscious of a longing for yet wider
travel through the sidereal universe? With his comet
now under the influence of one star, now of another, what
various systems might he not have explored! what un-
dreamt-of marvels might not have revealed themselves
before his gaze! The stars, fixed and immovable in name,
are all of them in motion, and Gallia might have followed
them in their untracked way.
This motion of the fixed stars is really very rapid
Arcturus is travelling at the rate of at least fifty-four miles
a second ; our sun is approaching Hercules at the rate
of 240 miles a minute; and yet so great is the distance
that observers on the earth have hitherto been unable tc
discern any appreciable difference.
Still, eventually, because the stars are thus moving at
unequal rates of velocity, there must ensue a change in
their relative positions ; and astronomers have produced
diagrams representing the appearance they will present
some 50,000 years hence. In these diagrams the irregular
quadrilateral of Ursa Major takes the form of a long cross,
and the pentagon of Orion has resolved itself into a
But even if Gallia had been transported to other
systems, it would not have been competent to Palmyrin
Rosette to view these â€œsecular inequalitiesâ€ of the
spheres; the contemplation, however, of other marvels,
exceeding what the solar system has to offer, would more
than sufficiently have ravished his view. He would have
seen for himself that other planetary groups are not
always governed by a single sun, but that occasionally two,
three, four, or even six suns will revolve about each other
with reciprocal influence. He would have found, too, in
these compound systems, suns of various hueâ€”red, yellow,
green, orange, purple, and whiteâ€”lighting up their planets
with rays of glorious colouring; one sun perhaps setting
in clearest green, another rising in resplendent crimson, or
FAR INTO SPACE, 293
in dazzling yellow; at times two suns together mingling
the tints of their varied beams; and perpetually, day after
day, the whole horizon decked with all the colours of the
But Gallia had a narrow destiny. She was not to be
allowed to wander away into the range of attraction of
another centre ; nor to mingle with the star clusters, some
of which have been entirely, others partially resolved ; nor
was she to lose herself amongst the 5000 nebule which
have resisted hitherto the grasp of the most powerful
reflectors. No; Gallia was neither to pass beyond the
limits of thÃ© solar system, nor to trayel out of sight of the
terrestrial sphere. Her orbit was circumscribed to little
over 1500 millions of miles; and, in comparison with the
infinite space beyond, this was a mere nothing.
294. HECTOR SERVADAC.
A FETE DAY.
THE temperature continued to increase; the mercurial
thermometer, which freezes at 42Â° below zero, was no
longer of service, and the spirit thermometer of the Dodryna
had been brought into use. This now registered 53Â° below
In the creek, where the two vessels had been moored
for the winter, the elevation of the ice, in anticipation of
which Lieutenant Procope had taken the precautionary
measure of bevelling, was going on slowly but irresistibly,
and the tartan was upheaved fifty feet above the level of
the Gallian Sea, while the schooner, as being lighter, had
been raised to a still greater altitude.
So irresistible was this gradual process of elevation, so
utterly defying all human power to arrest, that the lieu-
tenant began to feel very anxious as to the safety of his
yacht. With the exception of the engine and the masts,
everything had been cleared out and conveyed to shore,
but in the event of a thaw it appeared that nothing short
of a miracle could prevent the hull from being dashed to
pieces, and then all means of leaving the promontory
would be gone. The Hansa, of course, would share a
similar fate ; in fact, it had already heeled over to such an
extent as to render it quite dangerous for its obstinate
owner, who, at the peril of his life, resolved that he would
stay where he could watch over his all-precious cargo,
A FETE DAY. 295
though continually invoking curses on the ill-fate of which
he deemed himself the victim.
There was, however, a stronger will than Isaac Hakka-
butâ€™s. Although no one of all the community cared at all
for the safety of the Jew, they cared very much for the
security of his cargo, and when Servadac found that
nothing would induce the old man to abandon his present
quarters voluntarily, he very soon adopted measures of
coercion that were far more effectual than any representa-
tions of personal danger.
â€œStop where you like, Hakkabut,â€ said the captain to
him ; â€œ but understand that I consider it my duty to make
sure that your cargo is taken care of. I am going to have
it carried across to land, at once.â€
Neither groans, nor tears, nor protestations on the part
of the Jew, were of the slightest avail. Forthwith, on the
20th of December, the removal of the goods commenced.
Both Spaniards and Russians were all occupied for
several days in the work of unlading the tartan. Well
muffled up as they were in furs, they were able to endure
the cold with impunity, making it their special care to
avoid actual contact with any article made of metal, which,
in the low state of the temperature, would inevitably
have taken all the skin off their hands, as much as if it
had been red-hot. The task, however, was brought to
an end without accident of any kind; and when the stores
of the Hansa were safely deposited in the galleries of the
Hive, Lieutenant Procope avowed that he really felt that
his mind had been unburdened from a great anxiety.
Captain Servadac gave old Isaac full permission to
take up his residence amongst the rest of the community,
promised him the entire control over his own property,
and altogether showed him so much consideration that,
but for his unbounded respect for his master, Ben Zoof
would have liked to reprimand him for his courtesy to a
man whom he so cordially despised.
Although Hakkabut clamoured most vehemently about
his goods being carried off â€œ against his will,â€ in his heart
296 HECTOR SERVADAC.
he was more than satisfied to see his property transferred
to a place of safety, and delighted, moreover, to know that
the transport had been effected without a farthing of
expense to himself. As soon, then, as he found the tartan
empty, he was only too glad to accept the offer that had
been made him, and very soon made his way over to
the quarters in the gallery where his merchandise had
been stored. Here he lived day and night. He supplied
himself with what little food he required from his own
stock of provisions, a small spirit-lamp sufficing to perform
all the operations of his meagre cookery. Consequently
all intercourse between himself and the rest of the in-
habitants was entirely confined to business transactions,
when occasion required that some purchase should be
made from his stock of commodities. Meanwhile, all the
silver and gold of the colony was gradually finding its way
to a double-locked drawer, of which the Jew most carefully
guarded the key.
The ist of January was drawing near, the anniversary
of the shock which had resulted in the severance of thirty-
six human beings from the society of their fellow-men.
Hitherto, not one of them was missing. The unvarying
calmness of the climate, notwithstanding the cold, had
tended to maintain them in good health, and there seemed
no reason to doubt that, when Gallia returned to the
earth, the total of its little population .would still be
The Ist of January, it-is true, was not properly â€œ New
Yearâ€™s Dayâ€ in Gallia, but Captain Servadac, nevertheless,
was very anxious to have it observed as a holiday.
â€œT do not think,â€ he said to Count Timascheff and
Lieutenant Procope, â€œthat we ought. to allow our people
to lose their interest in the world to which we are all hoping
to return; and how can we cement the bond that ought
to unite us, better than by celebrating, in common with our
fellow-creatures upon earth, a day that awakens afresh the
kindliest sentiments of all? Besides,â€ he added, smiling,
â€œT expect that Gallia, although invisible just at present to
The Composition of the Bill of Fare.
A FETE DAY. 297
the naked eye, is being closely watched by the telescopes
of our terrestrial friends, and I have no doubt that the
newspapers and scientific journals of both hemispheres are
full of accounts detailing the movements of the new comet.â€
â€œTrue,â€ asserted the count. â€œI can quite imagine
that we are occasioning no small excitement in all the
â€œAy, more. than that,â€ said the lieutenant; â€œour
Gallia is certain to be far more than a mere object of
scientific interest or curiosity. Why should we doubt that
the elements of a comet which has once come into collision
with the earth have by this time been accurately calcu-
lated? What our friend the professor has done here, has
been done likewise on the earth, where, beyond a question,
all manner of expedients are being discussed as to the
best way of mitigating the violence of a concussion that
must occur.â€ :
The lieutenantâ€™s conjectures were so reasonable that
they commanded assent. Gallia could scarcely be other-
wise than an object of terror to the. inhabitants of the
earth, who could by no means be certain that a second
collision would be comparatively so harmless at the first.
Even to the Gallians themselves, much as they looked
forward to the event, the prospect was not unmixed with
alarm, and they would rejoice in the invention of any
device by which it was likely the impetus of the shock
might be deadened.
It was premature, however, for concern of this sort.
Come what might, the Ist of January should be celebrated
as a fÃ©te day, the Russians professing themselves : quite
willing to accept the date as observed by the Frenchmen
Christmas arrived, and was marked by appropriate
religious observance by every one in the community, with
the exception of the Jew, who made a point of secluding
* There is a difference of eleven days between the French and Russian
298 HECTOR SERVADAC.
himself more obstinately than ever in the gloomy recesses
of his retreat.
To Ben Zoof the last week of the year was full of
bustle. The arrangements for the /Ã©Â¢e were entrusted to
him, and he was anxious, in spite of the resources of Gallia
being so limited, to make the programme for the great day
as attractive as possible. :
â€™ It was settled that the proceedings should open with a
grand dÃ©einer, after which there should be a promenade
upon the ice in the direction of Gourbi Island, to conclude
with a torch-light procession in the evening. The torches,
without much difficulty, could be manufactured from
materials included in the stores of the Hazsa.
The composition of the bill of fare was an elaborate
business. The orderly and the cook of the Dobryna were
frequently to be seen in deep confabulation, so that it was
to be expected that the repast would be a masterpiece of
the combined arts of French and Russian cookery.
â€œOnly let the dÃ©jedner be a success,â€ said Ben Zoof,
â€œand I will answer for it the promenade on the ice is sure
to be a success too.â€
On the evening of the 31st of December the table in
the common hall was laid for the great collation. The hot
dishes would not be prepared until the following morning,
but all the cold viandsâ€”game-pies, galantines, potted
meats, and other things, many of which had been obtained
from Isaac Hakkabut at most exorbitant pricesâ€”were
spread upon the table.
It was a matter of debate that night whether the pro-
fessor should be invited to join the party ; it was scarcely
likely that he would care to come, but, on the whole, it
was felt to be advisable to ask him. At first Captain
Servadac thought of going in person with the invitation ;
but, remembering Rosetteâ€™s dislike to visitors, he altered
his mind, and sent young Pablo up to the observatory with
a formal note, requesting the pleasure of Professor Rosetteâ€™s
company at the New Yearâ€™s fÃ©Â¢e.
Pablo was soon back, bringing no answer except that
iN Cu Nil
The Company was more than contented, Â°
A FETE DAY. 299
the professor had told him that â€œto-day was the 125th of
June, and that to-morrow would be the Ist of July.â€
Consequently, Servadac and the count took it for
granted that Palmyrin Rosette declined their invitation.
An hour after sunrise on New Yearâ€™s Day, Frenchmen,
Russians, Spaniards, and little Nina, as the representative
of Italy, sat down to a feast such as never before had been
seen in Gallia. Ben Zoof and the Russian cook had quite
surpassed themselves. A huge dish of stewed partridges,
in which, in default of vegetables, enough curry-powder
had been used to blister the tongue, if not to damage the
coats of the stomach, was the piece de rÃ©sistance. The
wines, part of the Dodrynaâ€™s stores, were of excellent
quality. Those of the vintages of France and Spain were
drunk in toasting their respective countries, and even
Russia was honoured in a similar way by means of a few
bottles of kummel. The company was more than con-
tentedâ€”it was as jovial as Ben Zoof could desire ; and
the ringing cheers that followed the great toast of the
dayâ€”* A happy return to our Mother Earth,â€ must fairly
have startled the professor in the silence of his observatory.
The dÃ©&einer over, there still remained three hours of
daylight. The sun was approaching the zenith, but so
dim and enfeebled were his rays that they were very
unlike what had produced the wines of Bordeaux and
Burgundy which they had just been enjoying, and it was
necessary for all, before starting upon an excursion that
would last over nightfall, to envelop themselves in the
thickest of clothing.
Full of spirits, the party left the Hive, and chattering and
singing as they went, made their way down to the frozen
shore, where they fastened on their skates. Once upon
the ice, every one followed his own fancy, and some singly,
some in groups, scattered themselves in all directions.
Captain Servadac, the count, and the lieutenant were
generally seen together.. Negrete and the Spaniards, now
masters of their novel exercise, wandered fleetly and grace-
fully hither and thither, occasionally being out of sight
300 HECTOR SERVADAC.
completely. The Russian sailors, following a northern
custom, skated in file, maintaining their rank by means
of a long pole passed under their right arms, and in this
way they described a trackway of singular regularity.
The two children, blithe as birds, flitted about, now singly,
now arm-in-arm, now joining the captainâ€™s party, now
making a short peregrination by themselves, but always
full of life and spirit. As for Ben Zoof, he was here,
there, and everywhere, his imperturbable good temper
ensuring him a smile of welcome whenever he appeared.
Thus coursing rapidly over the icy plain, the whole
party had soon exceeded the line that made the horizon
from the shore. First, the rocks of the coast were lost to
view ; then the white crests of the cliffs were no longer to
be seen; and at last, the. summit of the volcano, with its
corona of vapour, was entirely out of sight. Occasionally
the skaters were obliged to stop to recover their breath,
but, fearful of frost-bite, they almost instantly resumed
their exercise, and proceeded nearly as far as Gourbi
Island before they thought about retracing their course.
But night was coming on, and the sun was already
sinking in the east with the rapidity to which the residents
on Gallia were by this time well accustomed. The sunset
upon this contracted horizon was very remarkable. There
was not a cloud nor a vapour to catch the tints of the
declining beams; the surface of the ice did not, as a liquid
sea would, reflect the last green ray of light; but the
radiant orb, enlarged by the effect of refraction, its cir-
cumference sharply defined against the sky, sank abruptly,
as though a trap had been opened in the ice for its
Before the daylight ended, Captain Servadac had
cautioned the party to collect themselves betimes into one
â€œUnless you are sure of your whereabouts before dark,â€
he said, â€œyou will not find it after. We have come out
like a party of skirmishers ; let us go back in full force.â€
The night would be dark ; their moon was in conjunc-
The Volcano was extinguished !
A FETE DAY. 301
tion, and would not be seen; the stars would -only give
semething of that â€œpale radianceâ€ which the poet Cor-
neille has described.
Immediately after sunset the torches were lighted, and
the long series of flames, fanned by the rapid motion of
their bearers, had much the appearance of an enormous
fiery banner. An hour later, and the volcano appeared
like a dim shadow on the horizon, the light from the crater
shedding a lurid glare upon the surrounding gloom. In
time the glow of the burning lava, reflected in the icy
mirror, fell upon the troop of skaters, and cast their
lengthened shadows grotesquely on the surface of the
Later still, half an hour or more afterwards, the torches
were all but dying out. The shore was close at hand.
All at once, Ben Zoof uttered a startled cry, and pointed
with bewildered excitement towards the mountain. In-
voluntarily, one and all, they ploughed their heels into the
ice and came to a halt. Exclamations of surprise and
horror burst from every lip. The volcano was extin-
guished! The stream of burning larva had suddenly
ceased to flow!
Speechless. with amazement, they stood still for some
moments. There was not one of them that did not realize,
more or less, how critical was their position. The sole
source-of the heat that had enabled them to brave the
rigour of the cold had failed them! death, in the cruellest
of all shapes, seemed staring them in the faceâ€”death
Meanwhile, the last torch had flickered out.
It was quite dark.
â€œForward !â€ cried Servadac, firmly.
At the word of command they advanced to the shore ;
clambered with no little difficulty up the slippery rocks ;
gained the mouth of the gallery; groped their way into
the common hall.
How dreary! how chill it seemed!
The fiery cataract no longer spread its glowing covering
302 HECTOR SERVADAC.
over the mouth of the grotto. Lieutenant Procope leaned
through the aperture. The pool, hitherto kept fluid by its
proximity to the lava, was already encrusted with a layer
Such was the end of the New Yearâ€™s Day so happily
THE BOWELS OF THE COMET.
THE whole night was spent in speculating, with gloomy
forebodings, upon the chances of the future. The tem-
perature of the hall, now entirely exposed to the outer air,
was rapidly falling, and would quickly become unendur-
able. Far too intense was the cold to allow any one to
remain at the opening, and the moisture on the walls soon
resolved itself into icicles. But the mountain was like the
body of a dying man, that retains awhile a certain amount
of heat at the heart after the extremities have become
cold and dead. In the more interior galleries there was
still a certain degree of warmth, and hither Servadac and
his companions were glad enough to retreat.
Here they found the professor, who, startled by the
sudden cold, had been fain to make a precipitate retreat
from his observatory. Now would have been the oppor-
tunity to demand of the enthusiast whether he would like
to prolong his residence indefinitely upon his little comet.
It is very likely that he would have declared himself ready
to put up with any amount of discomfort to be able to
gratify his love of investigation ; but all were far too dis-
heartened and distressed to care to banter him upon the
subject on which he was so sensitive.
Next morning, Servadac thus addressed his people:
â€œMy friends, except from cold, we have nothing to
fear. Our provisions are ampleâ€”more than enough for
304 HECTOR SERVADAC.
the remaining period of our sojourn in this lone world of
ours ; our preserved meat is already cooked ; we shall be
able to dispense with all fuel for cooking purposes. All
that we require is warmthâ€”warmth for ourselves: let us
secure that, and all may be well. Now, I do not entertain
a doubt but that the warmth we require is resident in the
bowels of this mountain on which we are living; to the
depth of those bowels we must penetrate; there we shall
obtain the warmth which is indispensable to our very
His tone, quite as much as his words, restored con-
fidence to many of his people, who were already yielding
to a feeling of despair. The count and the lieutenant
fervently, but silently, grasped his hand.
â€œNina,â€ said the captain, â€œyou will not be afraid to go
down to the lower depths of the mountain, will you?â€
â€œNot if Pablo goes,â€ replied the child.
â€œOh yes, of course, Pablo will go. You are not afraid
to go, are you, Pablo?â€ he said, addressing the boy.
â€œ Anywhere with you, your Excellency,â€ was the boyâ€™s
And certain it was that no time must be lost in pene-
trating below the heart of the volcano ; already the most
protected of the many ramifications of Ninaâ€™s Hive were
being pervaded by a cold that was insufferable.
The conviction became more and more settled that
heat was existent in the deep recesses of the volcano ; the
question became more and more urgent, how that heat
could be reached, and how it could be utilized.
It was an acknowledged impossibility to get access to
the crater by the exterior declivities of the mountain-side ;
they were far too steep and too slippery to afford a foot-
hold. It must of necessity be entered from the interior.
Lieutenant Procope accordingly undertook the task of
exploring all the galleries, and was soon able to report
that he had discovered one which he had every reason to
believe abutted upon the central funnel. His reason for
coming to this conclusion was that the caloric emitted by
THE BOWELS OF THE COMET. 305
the rising vapours of the hot lava seemed to be oozing, as
it were, out of the tellurium, which had been demonstrated
already to be a conductor of heat. Only succeed in
piercing through this rock for seven or eight yards, and
the lieutenant did not doubt that his way would be opened
into the old lava-course, by following which he hoped
descent would be easy.
Under the lieutenantâ€™s direction the Russian sailors
were immediately set to work. Their former experience
had convinced them that spades and pick-axes were ot
no avail, and their sole resource was to proceed by blasting
with gunpowder. However skilfully the operation might
be carried on, it must necessarily occupy several days,
and during that time the sufferings from cold must be
â€œTf we fail in our object, and cannot get to the d