M4 c,4 Y
The Baldwin Library
"FIIVE WEEKiS IN A BALLOON."
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
AUTHOR OF "THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE," "THE FIELD OF ICE," BTC
LONDON AND NEW YORK
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
CHARLES DICKENS AND EVANS,
CRYSTAL PALACE PRESS.
CHAPTER I. PAGE
A Speech much applauded-Reception of Dr. Ferguson-Excelsior-Descrip-
tion of the Doctor-A Fatalist convinced-A Dinner at the "Travellers'"-
Toasts. ... 7
An Article in the Daily Telegrafh-War of Scientific Journals-Mr. Peter-
mann supports his friend Ferguson-Professor Koner's Reply-Bets-
Various Propositions made to the Doctor 13
The Doctor's Friend-Their Friendship-Dick Kennedy in London-An unex-
pected but not a reassuring Proposition-Inconsolatory Proverb-Some
Names in African Martyrology-Advantages of a Balloon-The Doctor's
Secret .. x6
African Exploration: Barth Richardson-Overweg-Were-Brun-Rollet-
Penney-Andrea Debono- Miani- Guillaume Lejean-Bruce-Krapf-
Rebmann-Maizan-Roscher-Burton and Speke .
Dreams of Kennedy-Articles and Pronouns in the Plural-Dick's Insinuations
-The Map of Africa-What is between the Points of a Compass-Actual
Expeditious-Speke and Grant-Krapf, De Decken, Heuglin 2
A rare Servant-He perceives the Satellites of Jupiter-Dick and Joe do not
agree-Doubt and Credence-Weighing Joe-Wellington-Joe gets Half-a-
Geometrical detail-The Balloon's Capacity-The Double Balloon-The Enve-
lope-The Car-The Mysterious Apparatus-The Provisions-The Last
Usefulness of Joe-The Captain of the Resolute-Kennedy's Arms-Arrange-
ments-The Farewell Dinner-Departure on Feb. 24th-The Doctor's
Lectures on Science-Duveyrier, Livingstone-Details of the Aerial
Journey-Kennedy silenced .. 40
Doubling the Cape-The Wit of the Forecastle-Lectures upon Cosmography
by Professor Joe-About guiding Balloons-On the Search for Atmospheric
Currents-" Eureka" ,,
CHAPTER X. PAGE
Preliminary Experiments-The Five Chests-The Blow-pipe-The Stove-The
manner of Working-Success achieved .. .49
Arrival at Zanzibar-The English Consul-Opposition of the Inhabitants-Isle
Koumbeni -The Rain-makers-Inflation of the Balloon-Departure-Last
Farewell-The "Victoria" 53
Crossing the Straits-The Mrima-Proposals of Dick and Joe-Recipe for
Coffee-Uzarmo-The unfortunate Maizan-Mount Duthumi-The Doctor's
Maps-Night upon a Nopal. 58
Change of Weather-Kennedy's Fever-Medicine of Dr. Ferguson-Travelling
by Land-The Basin of the Imengd-Mount Rubeho, Six Thousand Feet
High-A Day's Halt ... 65
Forest of Gum-trees-The Blue Antelope-The Signal for Return-An unex-
pected Assault-The Kanyenye-A Night in the Open Air-The Mabun-
guru-Jihoue-la-Mkoa-Supply of Water-Arrival at Kazeh 71
Kazeh-The Market-Appearance of the "Victoria "-The Waganga-The Sons
of the Moon-The Doctor's Expedition-Population-The Royal "Temb "
-The Sultan's Wives-A Royal Drunkard-Joe worshipped-How they
Dance in the Moon-Change-Two Moons in the same Sky-Instability of
Divine Greatness 78
Symptoms of a Storm-The Country of the Moon-The Future of Africa-The
last Machine of all-View of the Country at Sunset-Flora and Fauna-
The Storm-The fiery Zone-Starlight 86
The Mountains of the Moon-An Ocean of Verdure-The Anchor cast out-
The Elephant harnessed-A quick Volley-Death of the Elephant-The
Field-oven-Dinner on the Grass-Night on the Ground 94
The Karagwah-Lake Ukderond-A Night on an Island-The Equator-
Crossing the Lake-The Waterfalls-View of the Country-The Sources of
the Nile-Isle Benga-Signature of Andrea Debono-The Royal Standard
of Engiand .. ... IoT
The Nile-The "Trembling Mountain"-Souvenir of the Country-Arab Tales
-Nyam Nyam-Joe's Reflections--The "Victoria's" Zigzags-Balloon
Ascents-Madame Blanchard. 1xo
The Celestial Bottle-Fig Palms-Mammoth Trees-The War Tree-The
Winged Team-Fight of the Tribes-Massacre-Intervention from the
Strange Noises-A Night Attack-Kennedy.andJoe in the Tree-Two Shots-
"Help! help I"-The Plan of Rescue. 119
CHAPTER XXIL PAGE
The Flame of Light-The Missionary-The Rescue-The Priest-Little Hope-
The Doctor's Care-A Life of Self-denial-Passing a Volcano 126
Anger of Joe-A good Man's Death-Watching the Body-Sterility of the
Land-The Interment-The Blocks of Quartz-Joe's Delusions-Precious
Ballast-Discovery of Gold Mountains-Joe's Despair. 133
No Wind-The Desert-Diminution of the Water Supply-Equatorial Night-
Uneasiness of Ferguson -The Situation-Determined Conduct of Joe and
Kennedy-Another Night 139
Philosophy-A Cloud-In the Midst of a Fog-The unexpected Balloon-The
Signals-Counterpart of the "Victoria"-The Palms-Traces of a Caravan-
The Well in the Desert 46
One Hundred and Thirteen Degrees-The Doctor's Reflections-A Despairing
Search-The Blow-pipe extinguished-One Hundred and Twenty-five
Degrees-The View of the Desert-A Night Walk-Solitude-Weakness
-Joe's Suggestion-He waits another Day 15r
Fearful Heat-Delusions-The 'Last Drops of Water-A Night of Despair-
Attempting Suicide-The Simoon-The Oasis-Lion and Lioness 156
A charming Evening-Joe's Cookery-Conversation about Raw Meat-History
of James Bruce-The Bivouac-Joe's Dreams-The Barometer Falls and
Rises-Preparations for Departure-The Hurricane 161
Traces of Cultivation-Fantastic Idea of a French'Author-Splendid Country-
The Kingdom of Adamova-Explorations of Speke and Burton, united to
Barth's-Mount Atlantika-River Benond-The Town of Yola-Bageld-
Mount Mendip x66
Mosfeia-The Sheik-Denham, Clapperton, Oudney, Vogel-The Capital of
Loggoum-Toole-Calm-The Governor of Kernak and Court-The
Attack-The Incendiary Pigeons 172
Departure at Night-All Three-Instincts of Kennedy-Precautions-The Court
ofShari-Lake Tchad-The Water-The Hippopotamus-A lost Bullet 178
The Capital of Bournou-The Isles of the Biddiomahs-The Gyr-falcons-The
Doctor's Uneasiness-His Precautions-An Attack in Mid-air-The Enve-
lope torn-The Fall-Sublime Devotion-The North Side of the Lake z82
Conjectures-Re-establishment of the Equilibrium of the "Victoria"-New
Calculations of Dr. Ferguson-Kennedy's Sporting-Complete Exploration
of Lake Tchad-Tangalia-Return-Lari 187
CHAPTER XXXIV. PAGE
The Hurricane-Forced Departure-Loss of an Anchor-Sad Reflections-
Resolution taken-The Sand-storm-The Buried Caravan-Variable Winds
-Return to the South-Kennedy on the Watch 193
History of Joe-The Isle of Biddiomahs-Adoration-The Island engulphed-
The Borders of the Lake-The Serpents' Tree-Travelling on Foot-Priva-
tions-Mosquitos and Ants-Hunger-Passing of the "Victoria"-It dis-
appears-Despair-The Marsh-A Last Appeal 197
A Troop in Sight-Arabs-The Pursuit-'Tis He-Fall of the Horse-The
Strangled Arab-A Bullet from Kennedy-Manceuvring-Taken up
Flying-Joe Saved. 204
The Route to the West-Joe wakes-His Obstinacy-End of Joe's Adven-
tures-Tagclel-Kennedy uneasy-Route to the North-A Night near
Rapid Travelling-Prudent Resolutions-Caravans-Continual Rain-Gas-
The Niger Golberry Geoffrey Gray Mungo Park Laing-Rend
Cailld-Clapperton-John nd Richard Lander 214
The Country within the Bend of the Niger-Curious Appearance of Mount
Hombort-Kaabra-Timbuctoo-Plan of Dr. Barth-Ruin-Where Heaven
Uneasiness of Ferguson-Still to the South-A Cloud of Locusts-View of
Jeund-View of Sego-Change of Wind-Joe's Regrets 225
The Approaches to the Senegal-The "Victoria" falls by Degrees-Everything
thrown out-The Marabout-Al Hadji-Pascal, Vincent, Lambert-A
Rival of Mahomet-High Mountains-Kennedy's Rifles-Joe's Manoauvre
-Halt over a Forest 229
A Generous Dispute-A Last Sacrifice-The Dilating Apparatus-Joe's Skill-
Midnight-The Doctor on Guard-Kennedy's Watch-He Sleeps-Fire I-
The Cries-Out of Reach 235
The Talibas-The Pursuit-A Wasted Country-Moderate Breezes-The
"Victoria"; falls-The Last Provisions-The Boundsofthe "Victoria"-The
Defence-The Wind freshens-The River Senegal-The Cataracts of the
Gouina-Hot Air-Crossing the River .. 239
Conclusion-The Official Report-The French Colony--MIdine-The Basilisk
-St. Louis-The British Frigate-Return to London 246
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
A Speech much applauded-Reception of Dr. Ferguson-" Excelsior"
-Reception of the Doctor-A Fatalist convinced-A Dinner at
ON the i4th of January, 1862, there was a very large attend-
ance of the members of the Royal Geographical Society of
London, 3, Waterloo Place. The President, Sir Francis
M--, made an important communication to his col-
leagues in a speech frequently interrupted by applause.
This rare specimen of oratory ended at length with some
grandiloquent phrases, in which patriotism was displayed
in well-rounded sentences, thus :
"England has always appeared at the head of all
other nations in the way of geographical discovery. (Hear,
hear.) Doctor Samuel Ferguson, one of her glorious
children, will not disgrace the land of his birth. (No, no.)
If his attempt succeed (It will, it will!) it will bind to-
gether in a complete form the isolated maps of the African
continent. If it fail (Never, never!) it will remain at least
on record as one of the boldest conceptions of the human
mind." (Loud applause.)
"Hurrah, hurrah!" shouted the assembly, quite elec-
trified by these stirring words.
"Hurrah for the undaunted Ferguson !" cried one of the
members, more enthusiastic than the rest.
The enthusiasm then rose to a high pitch. The name
8 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
of Ferguson was in every mouth, and there is no reason to
believe that it lost anything in its emancipation from the
British throat. The whole assembly was in a ferment.
Yet there were present in that assembly a number of
old worn-out individuals: bold travellers, whose wandering
disposition had led them to all parts of the world. All of
them, more or less, either physically or morally, had escaped
shipwreck, fire, the tomahawk of the Indian, the club of the
savage, the stake, or Polynesian cannibals. But nothing
could still the throbbing of their breasts during Sir F. M.'s
speech ; it was without doubt the greatest oratorical success
of the Royal Geographical Society within the memory of
But in England, enthusiasm is not by any means con-
fined to words. It can produce money more quickly than
the machinery of the Royal Mint. A sum of 2,500 was
immediately voted and placed at Doctor Ferguson's dis-
posal. The subscription was in proportion to the import-
ance of the undertaking.
One of the members of the Society asked the President
whether Doctor Ferguson might not be officially presented.
"The doctor waits the pleasure of the meeting,"
replied Sir Francis M-.
"Let him come in!" they cried; "admit him It is
right that we should become acquainted with a man of such
Perhaps," said an old apoplectic commodore, "this
incredible suggestion is nothing but a hoax after all."
"I do not suppose that there is any such person," said
a malicious member.
"We must invent him then," replied a joking associate.
Request Doctor Ferguson to be good enough to come
in," said Sir Francis M-, quietly.
The doctor accordingly made his appearance, and was
greeted with thunders of applause. He did not, however,
appear to be in the least elated by his reception. He was
a man of about forty years of age, of no remarkable exterior.
His sanguine temperament displayed itself in the ruddiness
of his complexion. His face was impassive, with regular
features and a prominent nose. This was like the prow of
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
a vessel-the nose of a man destined for discovery. His
eyes were soft, and, being more intelligent than bold, im-
parted a great charm to his face. His arms were long, and
his feet were planted upon the floor with the firmness of a
A certain quiet self-possession pervaded the doctor's
whole appearance, and no one could believe him capable
of the most innocent hoax.
The shouts and plaudits never for one moment ceased
until Doctor Ferguson intimated his desire for silence by
a gesture. He advanced towards the arm-chair prepared
for his reception, then, standing perfectly upright, with a
determined expression of countenance he pointed the
forefinger of his left hand towards the ceiling, and uttered
the word "Excelsior "
Never had an unexpected popular measure of Messrs.
Cobden or Bright-never had a demand by Lord Palmerston
for an extra vote to arm the English coast defences met
with equal success. The doctor was at once sublime,
powerful, unassuming, and prudent. He had struck the
key-note of the situation.
The old commodore, completely "brought up in the
wind" by this extraordinary man, moved that the entire
speech of Doctor Ferguson be entered in the Proceedings
of the Royal Geographical Society.
Now, who was this Doctor Ferguson, and to what enter-
prise was he about to devote himself?
The father of Ferguson was a captain in the English
merchant service, and had accustomed his son, from his
earliest years, to the dangers and risks of his own profession.
The brave lad, who knew not what fear meant, soon dis-
played an adventurous spirit and desire for information, and
a remarkable predilection for scientific research. He also
showed a wonderful aptitude for getting out of scrapes, and
he was never embarrassed, not even when using a fork for
the first time, in which attempt children are not generally
As he grew older, his imagination became stimulated by
tales of hairbreadth escapes and records of maritime dis-
o1 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
cover. He followed diligently the routes of those travellers
who made the first part of the nineteenth century famous in
history.. He longed for the glories of Mungo Park, of
Bruce, Cailld, and Levaillant, and even of Selkirk and
Robinson Crusoe, which were to him in no way inferior.
How many happy hours had he passed in the Island of
Juan Fernandez? He sometimes approved of the ideas
of the shipwrecked sailor, sometimes he discussed the pro-
priety of his plans and projects. He would himself have
acted differently, to better effect perhaps, or at least as well,
at any rate.
However, one thing was certain: he would never
have quitted that pleasant island, where he would have
been as happy as a king without subjects-no, not if they
had offered to make him First Lord of the Admiralty I
I leave my readers to judge how these tendencies
developed themselves during the adventurous days passed
in all quarters of the globe. His father, an educated man,
did not fail to further consolidate this quickness of intel-
ligence by some serious study-hydrography, physics, and
mechanics, with a trifle of botany, medicine, and astronomy
thrown in. At the death of the worthy captain, Samuel
Ferguson, then twenty-two years old, had already been
round the world. He joined a regiment of Bengal En-
gineers, and distinguished himself on several occasions.
But a soldier's life did not suit him. He did not like his
commanding officer, and obedience was irksome, so he
obtained his discharge, and, sometimes hunting, sometimes
botanising, he made his way towards the North of India,
and crossed it from Calcutta to Surat. Just a pleasant
From Surat he went to Australia, and in 1845 took part
in Captain Sturt's expedition to discover that Caspian Sea
which is supposed to exist in the interior of New Holland.
In 1850 Samuel Ferguson returned to England, and
more than ever possessed by the desire of discovery, in
1853 he accompanied Captain M'Clure in the expedition
that traversed the American Continent from Behring's Straits
to Cape Farewell.
Despite hardships and change of climate, Ferguson's
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
constitution remained unimpaired. He lived at ease in
the midst of the greatest privations. He was the type of
a perfect traveller, whose appetite can be controlled at
will, whose limbs can adapt themselves equally to a bed
whether it be long or short, who can sleep at any hour of
the day, and awake at any hour of the night.
So there was nothing very astonishing in finding our
indefatigable traveller engaged, during the years 1855 to
1857, in exploring the west of Thibet, in company with the
brothers Schlagintweit, whence he brought back many
curious ethnographical records.
During these several expeditions Samuel Ferguson was
the most active and interesting correspondent of the Daily
Telegraph, a penny journal, whose circulation is 140,000
copies a day, and scarcely suffices for millions of readers.
Thus the doctor was very well known, although he was not
a member of any scientific institution, neither of the Royal
Geographical Society of London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, or
St. Petersburg; nor of the Travellers' Club; nor even of
the Polytechnic Institution, presided over by his friend
Kockburn, the statistician. This gentleman proposed to
him one day the following problem, with the intention to
pay him a compliment: "Given the number of miles tra-
versed by the doctor round the world, how much farther
had the head moved than the feet in consequence of the
difference in the length of radii." But Ferguson kept aloof
from such learned people, and being rather of the acting
and not of the talking disposition, he found his time better
employed in exploration than in argument, in discovery
rather than discussion.
It has been related that an Englishman came to Geneva
with the intention to view the Lake. He got into one of
those old carriages in which people sit at the sides like in
an omnibus. Now it happened that this Englishman was
seated with his back to the Lake. The carriage peacefully
accomplished its round without his ever turning his head;
and he returned home, charmed with the Lake of Geneva!
But Doctor Ferguson had turned round, and more than
once during his travels, and to such purpose that he had
seen nearly everything. In this, as in other things, he
12 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
obeyed the dictates of his nature, and we have reason to
believe that he was somewhat of a fatalist, but of a very
orthodox pattern, relying upon himself as well as upon
Providence. He used to say that he was impelled rather
than attracted to his expeditions, and ran about the world
something like a locomotive which does not direct its own
course, but is directed by the route it follows.
I do not pursue my way," the doctor would remark;
" my way pursues me."
It is not astonishing, therefore, that he received the
plaudits of the Royal Society without any show of emotion.
He was superior to that, and being neither proud nor vain,
he perceived nothing extraordinary in the proposition he
had made to the President, and did not appear to notice
the great effect he had produced.
After the meeting was dissolved the doctor was con-
ducted to the Travellers' Club in Pall Mall, where a
splendid banquet was prepared in his honour, the dimen-
sions of the various dishes being proportionate to the
importance of the guest, and the sturgeon, which was a
prominent figure in this magnificent repast, was only three
inches shorter than Samuel Ferguson himself.
Numerous toasts were proposed to the health of those
celebrated travellers who had distinguished themselves on
the soil of Africa, and duly honoured. They drank to
their health in alphabetical order. To Abbadie, Adams,
Adamson, Anderson, Amaud, Baikie, Baldwin, Barth,
Batonder, Beke, Beltrame du Berba, Bimbachi, Bolognesi,
Bolwick, Bolzoni, Bonnemain, Brisson, Browne, Bruce, Brun-
Rollet, Burchell, Burckhardt, Burton, Caillaud, Caill6, Camp-
bell, Chapman, Clapperton, Clot-Bey, Colomieu, Courvall,
Cumming, Cuny, Debono, Dicken, Denham, Desavanchers,
Dicksen, Dickson, Dochard, Du Chaillu, Duncan, Durand,
Duroul6, Duveyrier, Erhard, d'Escayrac de Lauteur, Ferret,
Fresnel, Galinier, Galton, Geoffroy, Golberry, Halm, Hahn,
Harnier, Hecquart, Heuglin, Hornemann, Houghton, Imbert,
Kaufmann, Knoblecher, Krapf, Kummer, Lafargue, Laing,
LajaillU, Lambert, Lamiral, Lampriere, John Lander,
Richard Lander, Lefebvre, Lejean, Levaillant, Livingstone,
Maccarthy, Maggiar, Maizan, Malzac, Moffat, Mollieu,
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 13
Monteiro, Morrisson, Mungo Park, Nemians, Overweg,
Panet, Partarrieau, Pascal, Pearse, Peddie, Petherick,
Poncet, Prax, Raffenel, Rath, Rebman, Richardson, Riley,
Ritchie, Rochet d'Herecourt, Rongawi, Roscher, Ruppel,
Saugnier, Speke, Steidner, Thibaud, Thompson, Thornton,
Toole, Tousny, Trotter, Tuckey, Tyrwitt, Vaudey, Veyssiere,
Vincent, Vinco, Vogel, Wahlberg, Warrington, Washington,
Werne, Wild, and lastly to Doctor Samuel Ferguson, who,
by his unheard-of project, was about to bind together the
works of all these travellers, and complete the series of
An Article in the Daily Tdlegraph-War of Scientific Journals-M.
Petermann supports his friend Ferguson-Professor Koner's Reply
--Bets-Various Propositions made to the Doctor.
IN its issue of the next day, the Daily Telegraph published
the following article :-
"Africa is about to yield the secret of its vast solitudes
at last. A modern (Edipus will find the key to the problem
which the learned of sixteen centuries have not been able to
solve. Formerly, to seek the sources of the Nile-fontes
NVili quarere-was regarded as the act of a madman; a
chimera, in fact.
Doctor Barth, by following as far as Soudan the route
traversed by Denham and Clapperton; Doctor Livingstone,
by extending his undaunted researches from the Cape of
Good Hope to the basin of the Zambezi; Burton and
Speke, by the discovery of the Great Inland Lakes, have
opened up three routes to modern civilisation. To the
point of intersection of these routes, no traveller has
hitherto been able to peneta.tee; it is in the very heart of
Africa. It is to that point that all our efforts should be
"The works of these hardy pioneers of science are now
about to be supplemented by the spirited attempt of Dr.
Samuel Ferguson, whose wonderful expeditions have so
14 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
often been appreciated by our readers. This hardy explorer
proposes to cross the continent of Africa from east to west
in a balloon. If we have been correctly informed, the
point of departure of this extraordinary enterprise will be
the island of Zanzibar upon the eastern coast. Where the
point of arrival will prove to be-Heaven alone can tell I
"This exploit was yesterday proposed officially to the
members of the Royal Geographical Society, and a sum of
;62,500 was voted to defray the expenses of the expedition.
We will keep our readers duly informed upon the various
events in connection with the projected enterprise, which is
without precedent in geographical annals."
This article, as was intended, had an enormous circula-
tion. It first aroused a tempest of incredulity, and Doctor
Ferguson was looked upon as a visionary, an invention of
Barnum, who, having exhausted the United States, was
about to do the British Isles !
A quizzical notice appeared in Geneva in the February
number of the "Proceedings of the Geographical Society,"
which gently rallied the Royal Society in London, the
Travellers' Club, and the wonderful sturgeon. But Mr.
Petermann, in his "Mitheilungen," published in Gotha,
shut up the Geneva paper completely. Mr. Petermann
was acquainted with Dr. Ferguson, and bore testimony to
the hardihood of his (Petermann's) courageous friend.
Soon, however, doubt was no longer possible. Pre-
parations for the expedition were being made in London.
Firms at Lyons had received orders for striped taffetas for
the balloon, and the English Government had placed a
transport, the Resolute, commanded by Captain Penney, at
the disposal of Dr. Ferguson. Encouragement and good
wishes were showered from all sides. The details of the
enterprise appeared in the "Transactions" of the Geo-
graphical Society of Paris. A very remarkable article was
published in the "Nouvelles Annales des Voyages de la
Gdographie, de l'Histoire, et de rArchdologie," by M. V. A.
Malte-Brun. A particular account was published in the
" Zeitschrift flir Allegemaine Erdkunde," by Dr. W. Koner,
demonstrating the possibility of the journey, its chances of
success, the nature of the obstacles to be encountered, and
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
the immense advantages of locomotion by means of balloons.
He found fault only with the place of departure, and hinted
that Masuah, a small port of Abyssinia, whence James Bruce
started in his search for the sources of the Nile, would be
preferable. In all other respects, he applauded unreservedly
the wonderful energy of Dr. Ferguson, and the stout brain
and heart that could conceive and execute such an
The "North American Review" was rather annoyed
that so much honour was likely to fall to the lot of a
" Britisher." It accordingly ridiculed the whole proceeding,
and suggested that the doctor should go over to America
while he was about it.
In fact, not to go further into detail, there was not a
scientific periodical, from the Journal of the Church Mis-
sionary Society," to the "Algerine and Colonial Review;"
from the Annals of the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel," to the Church Mission Intelligencer," which did
not discuss the subject in all its bearings. Some con-
siderable bets were made in London, and in England
I. Upon the actual existence of Dr. Ferguson.
2. Upon the journey itself, which some said would never be
entered upon, some declaring the contrary.
3. Whether it would succeed or fail.
4. On the probabilities of the Doctor's return.
Immense sums were betted on those issues, as freely as at
Thus believers, sceptics, the ignorant, and the learned,
all had their attention fixed on the doctor. He was the
lion of the day, without his even suspecting that he carried
a mane. He willingly gave information respecting the expe-
dition. He was easily accessible, and the most unaffected
man in the world. Many a bold adventurer called upon
him with the object of being permitted to share the glory
and perils of the undertaking, but the doctor always de-
clined, without giving any reason for his refusal. Many
patentees came to him to propose their plans to direct the
course of balloons; he would accept none of them. To
16 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
those -who inquired whether he had discovered anything of
that nature for himself, he refused explanation, and turned
to the completion of his arrangements with greater diligence
The Doctor's Friend-Their Friendship-Dick Kennedy in London-
An unexpected, but not a reassuring Proposition-Inconsolatory
Proverb-Some Names in African Martyrology-Advantages of a
Balloon-The Doctor's Secret.
DOCTOR FERGUSON possessed a friend. Not another self,
an alter ego-friendship cannot exist between two people of
like disposition. But if Dick Kennedy and Samuel Fer-
guson possessed different qualities, tastes, and tempera-
ments, they possessed the same heart, and that did not
embarrass them in the least. Quite the contrary !
Dick Kennedy was a Scotchman, in the true accepta-
tion of the term. He was honest, resolute, and obstinate.
He lived at Leith, a suburb of "Auld Reekie." He was
something of a fisherman, but above all and everything an
indefatigable sportsman, which was the less astonishing in a
Scot somewhat accustomed to roam the Highlands.
He was quoted as a wonderful shot with the rifle, for not
only could he split a bullet on the blade of a knife, but
could divide it into two such equal parts that, when weighed,
there was no perceptible difference between them.
In appearance Kennedy resembled Halbert Glendin-
ning, as pictured by Walter Scott in the "Monastery." He
was more than six feet high, of graceful and easy bearing.
He appeared to be gifted with Herculean strength. His
face was bronzed by exposure to the sun, his eyes were
black and piercing. He possessed a naturally fearless tem-
perament, and, in fact, everything about him prepossessed
one in his favour.
The two friends had become acquainted in India, where
they were serving in the same regiment. While Dick used
to hunt the tiger and the elephant, Samuel was occupied in
the pursuit of plants or insects. Each was an adept in his
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
own line, and many a rare plant became the prey of the
doctor, which cost as much to obtain as a pair of ivory
tusks. These young people had never any occasion to
save each other's life, nor to render any service whatever
to each other. But a strong friendship existed between
them. Fate might part them perhaps, but Friendship would
always unite them again. Since their return to England
they had frequently been separated in consequence of the
long expeditions undertaken by the doctor, but upon his
return he never failed to spend some weeks with his friend
Dick talked of the past, Samuel prepared for the future.
The one looked ahead, the other looked back. Ferguson
was of a restless disposition, Kennedy was perfectly con-
tented. For two years after his travels in Thibet the doctor
did not speak of any new expeditions. Dick thought that
his friend's taste for travelling, and his appetite for adven-
ture, had been satisfied. He was delighted. That kind of
thing is sure to end badly some day or other, he thought,
whatever experience one has had of people; one cannot
travel with impunity among cannibals and wild beasts.
Kennedy, therefore, begged Samuel to "put the drag on a
bit, he having already done quite enough for science, and
too much for human gratitude.
To this request the doctor made no reply, he remained
buried in thought. Then he went to work again at his
secret calculations, passing whole nights in working out his
figures, and experimentalising upon curious machines of
which no one knew anything. People, therefore, fancied
that he had conceived some very grand notion in his busy
"I wonder what he is thinking about," said Kennedy,
when his friend had left him and returned to London in
He made the discovery one morning in the columns of
the Daily Telegraph.
"Good Heavens !" he cried, "the idiot to think of
crossing Africa in a balloon I This was all that was
necessary to complete his vagaries That is, then, what he
has been thinking of these two years !"
i8 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
If the reader will kindly substitute for the foregoing
notes of exclamation certain hard blows of Kennedy's fist
applied to his own head, he will have some slight idea of
the gentle exercise indulged in by Dick as he spoke.
When his housekeeper, old Elspeth, gently suggested
that perhaps there might yet be nothing in it after all, he
cried, "Why, don't you think I know the man? Is it not
he all over? Going to travel through the air, indeed !
He will be jealous of the eagles now I But, by Jove, this
shall not be if I can prevent it. If you only leave him to
himself, he will be setting off some fine morning up to the
The same evening, Kennedy, half angry, half uneasy,
took the train at the General Railway Station, and next
morning arrived in London.
Three-quarters of an hour afterwards a cab left him
at the door of the doctor's house in Greek Street, Soho;
ascending the steps, he knocked loudly five times.
Ferguson himself opened the door.
"Why, Dick ?" he exclaimed, apparently not much
surprised at his friend's appearance.
"Yes, Dick himself," replied Kennedy.
"My dear Dick, how is it that you are up in town when
the hunting is going on?"
"Yes, I am in London."
"And why have you come up ?"
"To prevent a foolish action."
"A foolish action?" echoed the doctor.
"Is this true?" asked Kennedy, holding out the
article in the Daily Telegraph for his friend's inspection.
"Ah I that is what you are driving at. How very
indiscreet these newspapers are. But take a chair, Dick,
"No, I shan't," said Dick. "Then you are quite
determined to undertake this journey ?"
Quite. My arrangements are being made, and
"Your arrangements I I should like to knock your
arrangements to pieces."
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 19
The worthy Scot was waxing very angry. "Calm
yourself, my dear Dick," said the doctor. "I can under-
stand your irritation. You are vexed because I have not
sooner made you acquainted with my new plans."
"He talks of new projects, indeed."
"I have been very busy," continued Samuel, without
noticing the interruption; "there has been so much to do.
But rest assured I should not have gone without writing to
Ah 1 you are making a fool of me now."
"Because I had intended to get you to accompany
The Scot gave a bound that would have done credit
to a chamois. "Ah, that, indeed," said he; "then I
suppose you wish us both to be shut up in Bedlam
"I have positively counted upon you, my dear Dick,
and have chosen you to the exclusion of everybody else."
Kennedy remained in a state of stupefaction.
"When you have listened to me for about ten minutes,"
continued the doctor, quietly, "you will thank me."
"Are you serious ?"
And suppose I refuse to go with you?"
"But you will not refuse."
"Yet if I do ? "
"I shall go alone, that's all."
"Look here; let us sit down," said the Scot, "and talk
this business over calmly. If you are not joking, it is worth
our while to discuss it."
"Well, then, let us discuss it at breakfast, if you have
no objection, my dear Dick."
The two friends accordingly sat down, a great plate of
sandwiches, and an enormous teapot between them.
My dear Sar," said the sportsman, your project is a
foolish one; it is impossible. There is nothing tangible
nor practicable in it."
We shall see after we have attempted it."
"But that is the point. It is not necessary to try it
20 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
"Why not, if you please ? "
"Why, look at the dangers and obstacles of all kinds
involved in it."
"Obstacles," replied Ferguson, seriously, "are only
invented to be overcome; as for danger, who can ever
escape it? Life is made up of dangers. It is, perhaps,
very dangerous to sit down at this table, or to put on one's
hat; we must, however, look upon what is likely to happen
as having already happened, and see only the present in
the future; for the future is merely the present a little
What !" cried Kennedy, shrugging his shoulders, so
you are still a fatalist ? "
Always, but in the good sense of the term. We need
not, therefore, worry ourselves about the fate in store for
us; let us not forget the proverb-
"'He that is born to be hanged will never be drowned.'"
There was obviously no direct reply to be made to this,
but that fact did not prevent Kennedy from producing a
series of arguments easy to imagine, but too long to repeat
here. "But, after all," he said, after about an hour's
discussion, "if you really must cross Africa, and if it is
necessary for your happiness to do so, why don't you go by
the ordinary routes ? "
"Why ?" replied the doctor with animation, "because
all such attempts have failed. Because since Mungo Park
was murdered on the Niger, till the time when Vogel
disappeared in the Wadai; since Oudney died at Murmur,
Clapperton at Sackatou, to the time when Maizan was cut
to pieces; from the period that Major Laing was killed by
the Touaregs to the massacre of Roscher in the beginning
of the year 1860, such a number of victims have had their
names written in the record of African martyrdom. Be-
cause, to fight against the elements, against hunger, thirst,
fever, and wild animals, and tribes even more ferocious, is
impossible. Because that which cannot be accomplished
one way must be accomplished in another. Finally, because
when one is unable to pass through a place, one must pass
either at the side of it or over it."
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 21
"If it were only a question of getting across," replied
Kennedy; but to pass over the top- "
"Well," said the doctor, with the greatest coolness,
"what have I to fear? You will confess that I have taken
precautions to guard against a fall from my balloon. If,
however, such a thing did happen, I should only then be in
the normal condition of travellers; but my balloon will not
fail me, so we need not speak of that, but, on the contrary,
we must consider that point."
Not so, my dear Dick; I have quite made up my mind
not to part from it until we have reached the western coast
of Africa. With it everything is possible, without it I fall
into all the dangers and difficulties of former like expedi-
tions. With my balloon I need fear neither heat nor cold,
torrent nor tempest, a simoom nor unhealthy climates, wild
beasts nor men. If I feel too hot, I can ascend; if I feel
cold, I can come down again; is there a mountain, I can
pass over it; a precipice, I can clear it; a river, I can cross
it; a storm, I can go above it; a torrent, I can skim over
it like a bird; I can travel without fatigue; I can stop
without having need to repose; I can overlook new cities;
I can fly with the rapidity of a hurricane. Sometimes high
up in the air, sometimes within a few feet of the earth, and
the whole of Africa will be mapped out beneath my eyes in
the great atlas of the world."
The brave Kennedy was impressed, notwithstanding
that the prospects spread before his mind's eyes made him
feel somewhat giddy. He gazed at Samuel with admira-
tion, not unmixed with fear, and felt as if he were already
suspended in space.
Let us see about this, my dear Samuel. Have you dis-
covered any means to direct the balloon ? "
Not one. It is an Utopian idea altogether."
But you will nevertheless go ? "
"Where Providence may will, but all the same from east
to west !"
"Because I count upon the trade-winds to assist me;
their direction is invariable."
Oh, indeed," muttered Kennedy; "the trade-winds,
22 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
certainly-they might for once in a way-there is some-
"If there be something No, my dear friend, there is
everything in it. The Government have placed a transport
at my disposal. It has also been agreed that three or four
vessels shall proceed to the western side about the antici-
pated time of my arrival there. In three months, at farthest,
I shall be at Zanzibar, where I shall set about the inflation
of my balloon, and we shall start from there.
"We !" exclaimed Dick.
"Have you then any objection to make? Speak,
One objection I have a thousand. But, between
ourselves, tell me if you count upon seeing the country; if
you intend to ascend and descend at will, you must expend
a quantity of gas, and there are no other means of pro-
ceeding. It is this fact which has hitherto prevented any
long journeys through the air."
My dear Dick, I shall only tell you one thing. I shall
not lose an atom of gas-not a particle."
"And you will descend when you please ?"
"I will descend when I please."
"And how will you manage this ?"
"That is my secret, friend Richard. Have faith in
me, and my motto may be yours-' Excelsior I'"
"Agreed. 'Excelsior' be it," replied the hunter, who
did not understand a word of Latin. But he made up his
mind to offer all the opposition in his power to the de-
parture of his friend. He pretended to be of his opinion,
and contented himself with watching. As for Samuel, he
went to inspect his preparations.
African Exploration Barth-Richardson-Overweg-Werne-Brun-
Rollet-Penney-Andrea Debono Miani-Guillaume Lejean -
Bruce-- Krapf and Rebmann-- Maizan-Roscher-Burton and
THE direction which Dr. Ferguson intended to follow in his
balloon had not been chosen at hap-hazard. He had
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 23
seriously considered his point of departure, and it was not
without reason that he had resolved to ascend from the
island, of Zanzibar.
This island, situated close to the east coast of Africa, is
in the 6th degree of South latitude, or 430 geographical
miles below the equator.
The last expedition which went by way of the great
lakes to discover the source of the Nile started from
But perhaps it may be as well to mention what ex-
peditions Doctor Ferguson was hoping to connect together.
There were two principal ones-that of Doctor Barth in
1849, and that of Lieutenants Burton and Speke in 1858.
Doctor Barth was a native of Hamburg, who obtained
permission for himself and for his countryman, Overweg,
to join the English expedition under Richardson, who was
charged with a mission into the Soudan. This immense
district is situated between the i5th and Ioth degrees of
North latitude; that is to say, that to arrive there it is neces-
sary to travel more than 1,500 miles into the interior of
Up to the period mentioned the country was only.
known from the expeditions of Denham, Clapperton, and
Oudney, between the years T822 and 1824.
Richardson, Barth, and Overweg, desirous of pushing
their researches farther, went to Tunis and Tripoli, like
their predecessors, and penetrated to Mourzouk, the
capital of Fezzan. They then quitted the direct line of
march and made a detour to the west, towards GhAt,
guided, and not without difficulty, by the Touaregs. After
undergoing a thousand perils and attacks, their caravan
arrived, in October, at the great oasis of the Asben. Here
Doctor Barth separated himself from his companions and
made an excursion to the town of Aghades. Rejoining the
expedition, it marched again on the i2th December, and
having reached the province of Damaghou, the three tra-
vellers separated. Barth took the route to Kano, where
he eventually arrived in safety, thanks to his indomitable
patience and the payment of considerable tribute.
In spite of a severe attack of fever, he quitted Kano on
24 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
the 7th of March, accompanied only by one servant. The
principal aim of his journey was to explore Lake Tchad,
from which he was distant 350 miles. He advanced, there-
fore, in an easterly direction, and reached Zouricolo, in the
Bornou, and which town is the capital of the great central
empire of Africa.
It was there that he heard of Richardson's death,
caused by fatigue and privation. Passing on, he reached
Kouka, the capital of Bornou, situated on the Lake. At
length, after a further period of three weeks, on the i4th of
April, twelve months and a half after quitting Tripoli, he
arrived at the town of Ngornou.
We find him once more in company with Overweg,
starting on the 29th March, 1851, to visit the kingdom of
Adamaon, at the south side of the Lake. He succeeded in
reaching Yola, a little below the 9th degree of North lati-
tude. That was the extreme southerly point reached by
this intrepid traveller.
In August he returned to Kouka, thence he reached in
succession Mandara, Berghimi, and Kanem, attaining his
eastern limit at Mazena in 170 20' W. long.
In November, 1852, after the death of Overweg, his
latest companion, he plunged into the west, visited Sockoto,
crossed the Niger, and finally arrived at Timbuctoo, where
he was obliged to languish for eight tedious months, ex-
posed to incessant annoyance by the sheik, to ill-treatment,
and wretchedness. But the presence of a Christian in the
town could not be tolerated longer, and the Foullaunes
threatened to beset him.
So the doctor departed on the i7th March, 1854, and
sought refuge on the frontier, where he remained thirty-
three days in terrible destitution. He returned to Kano in
November, and thence to Kouka. Here he struck the
former route of Denham, after four months' detention.
About the end of the year 1855 he got back to Tripoli, and
reached London on the 6th September, the sole survivor
of his party. Such was the extraordinary journey of
Doctor Ferguson had noted carefully that Barth did not
penetrate beyond 40 N. lat. and 170 W. long.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 25
Now let us see what Burton arid Speke accomplished in
The various expeditions which ascended the Nile were
all unable to reach its source, apparently shrouded in mystery.
According to the account of the German doctor, Ferdinand
Werne, the expedition projected in 1840, under the aus-
pices of Mehamet Ali, was stopped at Gondokoro between
the 4th and 5th parallels of N. lat.
In 1855 Brun-Rollet, a Savoyard, Sardinian consul in
the Soudan in the place of Vauday, who had been killed,
quitted Karthoum, and, in the disguise of a merchant
dealing in gum and ivory, he reached Belenia just beyond
4, and returned to Karthoum sick. He died there in 1857.
Neither Doctor Beney, chief of the Egyptian Medical
Service, who, in a small steamer reached to one degree
below Gondokoro, and returned to die of exhaustion at
Kaithoum; nor the Venetian Miani, who, by avoiding the
cataracts below Gondokoro, touched the second parallel;
nor the Maltese merchant, Andrea Debono, who pushed on
farther still, was able to pass that insurmountable barrier.
In 1859, M. Guillaume Lejean, sent out by the French
Government, reached Karthoum by way of the Red Sea,
and embarked on the Nile with a crew of twenty-one men and
twenty soldiers, but he could not get beyond Gondokoro,
and incurred the greatest danger from the negro tribes, then
in full revolt. The expedition under the direction of
M. Escayrac de Lauture made an equally vain attempt to
reach these famous sources.
That fatal barrier always stopped would-be explorers.
The people sent by Nero had in his time reached the 9th
degree of latitude, so in i8oo years we have only gained
five or six degrees, or about 300 to 360 geographical
Many travellers have attempted to reach the sources of
the Nile from the west side of the continent. During
the years 1768-72, the Scotchman, Bruce, departing from
Masuah, a port of Abyssinia, sailed up the Tigris, visited
the ruins of Axum, actually beheld the sources of the Nile
where they did not exist, and returned without obtaining
any other remarkable success.
26 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
In 1844, Doctor Krapf, an Anglican missionary, esta-
blished a station at Monbez on the coast of Zanguebar, and
discovered, in company with the Reverend Mr. Rebmann,
two mountains at a distance of 300 miles from the coast.
These are Kilimandjaro and Kenia, that Heuglin and
Thornton ascended together.
In 1845, Maizan, a Frenchman, disembarked alone at
Bazamaye, opposite Zanzibar, and got as far as Deje la
Mhora, where he was put to death with cruel tortures.
In 1859, in the month of August, Roscher, of Hamburg,
a young traveller, set out with a caravan of Arab merchants,
and reached Lake Nyassa, where he was murdered in his
Finally, in 1857, Lieutenants Burton and Speke, both
officers of the Bengal army, were dispatched by the Geo-
graphical Society of London, to explore the great African
Lakes. On the 17th of June they quitted Zanzibar, and
directed their course to-the west.
After four months of incredible suffering, their baggage
pillaged, their porters worn out and dispirited, they arrived
at Kazeh, the meeting centre for merchants and caravans.
They were in the true land of the moon. There they
collected many valuable documents respecting the manners,
government, religion, and the fauna and flora of the
Thence they journeyed towards the first of the great
lakes, Tanganayika, situated between the 30 and 8 of South
latitude. They reached it on the I4th of February, 1858, and
made themselves acquainted with the various tribes along
its banks, who were chiefly cannibals. Leaving the lake on
the 2oth May, they re-entered Kazeh on the 2oth June. Here
Burton, quite knocked up, remained ill for several months,
and during that time Speke travelled northwards more than
300 miles, as far as Lake Onk&reon6, which he sighted
on the i3th August, but could only see the opening of
it in 2 30' longitude. He then returned to Kazeh on the
25th, and with Burton retraced his steps to Zanzibar, which
they reached in March of the following year. These two
intrepid travellers then came back to England, and the Geo-
graphical Societyof Parisbestowed upon them its annualprize,
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 27
Doctor Ferguson had also carefully noted that they had
*not passed either the 20 of South latitude nor the 290 longi-
He therefore set himself to the task of joining the dis-
coveries of Burton and Speke to those of Doctor Barth, and
to pass over a tract of country extending to more than
Dreams of Kennedy-Articles and Pronouns in the Plural-Dick's In-
sinuations-The Map of Africa-What is between the points of a
Compass-Actual Expeditions-Speke and Grant, Krapf, De
DOCTOR FERGUSON kept pressing forward the preparations
for his departure ; he personally directed the construction of
his balloon, following out certain modifications, respecting
which he maintained an absolute silence.
For some time previously, he had been applying him-
self to the study of Arabic, and of various patois, and
thanks to his arrangement of the dialects, he made rapid
In the meantime, his friend never left him for a moment;
he was doubtless apprehensive that the doctor would take
flight, and he still brought to bear upon the subject his
most persuasive arguments, which had no effect whatever
upon Samuel Ferguson, who would endeavour to escape
under cover of the most moving entreaties, by which he
appeared little touched himself. Dick felt that he was
slipping through his fingers.
The unfortunate Scot was really to be pitied: he could
never think of the azure vault of Heaven without a fit of
the "blues; he realized, when asleep, the giddy suspen-
sion, and every night he felt as if he were falling from an
We ought to state that, while under these terrible night-
mares, he fell out of bed once or twice. His first notion
was to exhibit a great contusion on his head.
"There," he said, with a good-humoured smile, "look
28 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
at that, and only caused by a fall of three feet. Now, what
do you think ?"
This insinuation, full of sadness though it was, had no
effect upon the doctor.
"We shall not fall out," he said, slyly.
"But suppose we do i"
"We shall not, I tell you."
This was decisive, and Kennedy had nothing to say.
What particularly aggravated Dick was that the doctor
appeared completely to ignore his (Dick's) individuality, and
looked upon him as fated to become his aerial companion.
There was not a shadow of doubt about that.
Samuel was accustomed to make a shameful abuse of
the first person plural.
We go. We shall be ready. We shall leave.
And then the adjective (possessive)-" Our" balloon.
"Our" boat. "Our" undertaking. And again in the
plural-" Our" preparations. "Our" discoveries. "Our"
Dick shuddered at all this, although determined not to
stir, but he did not wish to thwart his friend. Let us
confess, indeed, that, without saying anything about it, he
had caused some clothes and his best rifles to be forwarded
to him secretly from Edinburgh.
One day, having gone so far as to confess that, with
good luck, one might have a chance of success, he pre-
tended to agree with the doctor, but in order to delay the
journey, he quoted a number of the most wonderfully varied
and hairbreadth escapes. He fell back upon the use and
expediency of the journey. Was it really a necessity to
discover the sources of the Nile ? Would their work really
prove of benefit to the human race ? Suppose, after all,
the tribes of Africa should be civilised, how much better off
will they be then ? Was it by any means certain, moreover,
that they were not already as civilised as Europe ? Perhaps
so. And, in the first place, why couldn't they wait a little
longer? Surely Africa could be 'crossed one day in a less
dangerous fashion ? In a month, in six months, before the
year was out, some explorer would indubitably present
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 29
These insinuations produced an effect the very opposite
to the speaker's wishes, and the doctor quivered with
Do you wish, then, you unhappy man, that this glory
shall be shared with some one else ? Is it, then, necessary
to fib about it; to enlarge upon obstacles which are not
serious; to repay, by cowardly hesitation, what has been
done for me by the Government and the Royal Society ?"
"But," replied Kennedy, who was very much addicted
to the use of this word.
"But !" echoed the doctor, "do not you know that my
journey ought to contribute to the success of enterprises
already undertaken? Are you not aware that fresh expedi-
tions are advancing into the centre of Africa ?"
"Listen to me, Dick. Just look at this map."
Dick regarded it with a resigned expression.
Follow up the course of the Nile-- "
"I am following it," replied the Scot resignedly.
"Have you reached Gondokoro ?"
"I am there." And Kennedy thought how easy it
would be to make a similar voyage-on a map.
"Now," said the doctor, "place one of the points upon
that town which the bravest travellers have with difficulty
"I have fixed it."
"And now look on the coast line for the island of
Zanzibar in the 6th degree of south latitude."
I have got it."
"Follow now this parallel and you arrive at Kazet."
"Now go up by the 33rd degree of longitude as far as
the commencement of Lake Onkdreond, at the spot where
Lieutenant Speke halted."
I am there. I shall be in the lake in a minute."
Now do you know what is the natural deduction from
the information gathered from the tribes on the borders of
"I have not the faintest notion."
"It is that this lake, whose lower end is in 20 30' lati-
30 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
tude, ought to extend equally two and a half degrees above
"Now, from this northern extremity runs a stream
which ought to flow into the Nile, if it be not the Nile
"That is extremely interesting."
"Now place the other point of that compass on this
extremity of the lake."
It is done," said Ferguson.
"How many degrees do you make it between the
"Do you know how far that is, Dick ? "
"Haven't an idea "
"It is but 120 miles ; a mere nothing."
"Well, scarcely nothing, Samuel."
"Now, do you know what is actually taking place at this
"No, upon my life, I don't.
"Well, the Geographical Society considers it very im-
portant that this lake, discovered by Speke, should be
explored. Under its direction, Lieutenant, now Captain,
Speke has joined with Captain Grant of the Indian Army;
they have been put at the head of a numerous caravan,
and with ample funds. They have been commissioned to
go up the lake, and to return as far as Gondokoro. They
have been subsidized to the amount of 5,000, and the
Governor of the Cape has placed Hottentot soldiers under
their orders. They left Zanzibar at the end of October,
i86o. During this time, John Petherick, H.M. Consul at
Karthoum, has received from the Foreign Office about
700. He has orders to provide a steamer, and, with a
plentiful supply of provisions, to proceed to Gondokoro,
there to await the arrival of Captain Speke's party, and to
assist them if necessary."
That is a well-conceived plan," said Kennedy.
"You can now perceive that we have no time to lose if
we would participate in this expedition. And that is not all;
while they are marching on foot to discover the sources of
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 31
the Nile, other travellers are bravely penetrating into the
very heart of Africa."
"On foot?" exclaimed Kennedy, incredulously.
"Yes," replied the doctor, without noticing the insinua-
tion. Doctor Krapf proposes to push towards the west by
the Djob, a river below the Equator. Baron Decken has
left Monbaz, and revisited the mountains Kenia and Kili-
mandjaro, and is still advancing towards the interior."
"Also on foot ?"
"Either on foot or with mules."
"All the same as far as I am concerned," replied
"Finally," continued the doctor, "M. Heuglin, the
Austrian vice-consul at Karthoum, is about to organise a
very important expedition, of which the chief aim will be
the search for the explorer Vogel, who, in 1853, was sent
into the Soudan to join forces with Dr. Barth. In 1856 he
quitted Bornou, resolved to explore the unknown region
which extends between Lake Tchad and Darfour. Since
then he has not been heard of. Letters arrived in i860 at
Alexandria stating that he had been assassinated by the
orders of the King of Wadai, but subsequent communica-
tions addressed by Dr. Hartmann to Vogel's father, that,
according to the report of a fellatah of Bornou, Vogel was
only kept a prisoner at Wara; all hope, therefore, is not
lost. A committee has been formed under the presidency
of the Regent of Saxe-Coburg Gotha. My friend Peter-
mann is the secretary. A national subscription has been
set on foot to support the expedition, to which several
savants have already attached themselves. M. Heuglin left
Masuah in June, and while he searches for Vogel, he has
instructions to explore the country lying between the Nile
and Lake Tchad, that is to say, to connect the discoveries
of Speke and Barth, and then Africa will have been crossed
from east to west "
Well," said the Scot, as that is all so nicely arranged,
I don't see what there is for us to do."
Doctor Ferguson made no reply to this beyond a shrug
of his shoulders.
32 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
A Rare Servant-He perceives the Satellites of Jupiter-Dick and Joe
do not agree-Doubt and Credence-Weighing-Joe Wellington
-Joe gets Half-a-Crown.
DOCTOR FERGUSON had a man-servant, who rejoiced in the
name of Joe. An excellent fellow, entirely devoted to his
master, and serving him with a boundless attention. Some-
times he even anticipated his orders, and carried them out
with the greatest intelligence. Never grumbling, and always
in good humour, people said that, had he been made on
purpose, he could not have been better.
Ferguson placed himself in Joe's hands entirely and
rightly. Rare and honest Joe! A servant who orders your
dinner exactly to your taste, who packs your portmanteau
and never forgets the shirts and socks, who keeps your keys
and your secrets, and never gives up either.
But what a master the doctor was to Joe! With what
respect and confidence he welcomed his decisions When
Ferguson had spoken, it would be folly to reply. All that
he thought was right; everything he said was correct; all
that he ordered to be done, feasible; all he undertook was
possible; all that he accomplished, magnificent You
might have cut Joe in pieces, which would have been,
doubtless, very unpleasant, but he would not have changed
his opinion respecting his master. Thus, when the doctor
broached the project of crossing Africa in a balloon, Joe
looked upon the feat as already accomplished; no obstacles
existed for him. As soon as the doctor had resolved to set
out, he would be there with his faithful servant of course;
for the brave lad, without ever having mentioned the sub-
ject, knew very well that he would be of the party. He
would, besides, be able to render important service, in con-
sequence of his activity and intelligence. If it had been
necessary to appoint a professor of gymnastics to the
monkeys in the Zoological Gardens, who are pretty lively
now, Joe would certainly have obtained the situation. To
jump, climb, to impel himself through the air, to execute a
thousand almost impossible antics, was child's play to Joe.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
If Ferguson was the head and Kennedy the arm, Joe
was certainly the right hand. He had already travelled a
great deal with his master, and possessed some smattering
of science suitable to his position, but he distinguished
himself above all by a philosophic calmness, and a charming
talent for looking on the bright side. Everything to him
was easy, logical, and natural, and consequently he never
complained nor swore.
Besides these attributes he possessed a most astonishing
range of vision. He, equally with Moesthei, enjoyed the
curious faculty of being able to see the moons of Jupiter
with the naked eye, and to count the fourteen stars in the
Pleiades, which last are of the nineteenth magnitude. He
was not proud of this at all; on the contrary, he would
salute you respectfully, and, on occasion, he could make use
of his eyes to some purpose.
With the confidence Joe displayed towards the doctor, it
is not astonishing that frequent discussions would arise
between Kennedy and the worthy domestic, with all due
regard to their relative positions.
One doubted, the other had faith; one represented a
clear-sighted prudence, the other, blind confidence. So the
doctor was situated between scepticism and belief, and, I
am bound to add, he paid no attention to either.
"Well, Mr. Kennedy," said Joe.
"Well, my lad."
"The time is approaching. It seems that we are about
to set off to the moon."
"You mean the land of the moon, which is not quite so
far, but quite sufficiently dangerous; so be easy in your mind."
"Dangerous with a man like Doctor Ferguson ?"
"I do not wish to dissipate your delusions, my good
Joe, but his enterprise is simple madness. He will never
enter upon it."
"Not go ? Then you haven't seen the balloon in the
workshop of Messrs. Mitchell, in the Borough ?"
I shall take very good care not to go to see it."
"Then you will lose a splendid sight, sir. What a
beautiful thing it is; what a lovely shape, and what a
charming car I How jolly we shall all be in it I"
34 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON .
"Then you have really made up your mind to accom-
pany your master ?"
"I !" replied Joe, decisively. "I would go wherever
he pleased. As if I should ever let him go alone when we
have been round the world together. Who would there be to
assist him when he was fatigued if I were not there ? Whose
strong hand to help him over a precipice ? Who would
nurse him if he were to fall ill? No, Mr. Richard, Joe will
always be at his post beside the doctor, or rather, I should
say, all round him."
"You are a brave fellow."
"Besides, you will come with us," said Joe.
"Oh, of course," said Kennedy, that is to say, I shall
accompany you with the view to stop you at the last
moment from putting such folly into execution. I will
follow the doctor as far as Zanzibar in the hope that he
may even then be dissuaded from his mad project."
With all due respect to you, Mr. Kennedy, you will
not have the slightest effect. My master is not one of your
hair-brained sort. He has been pondering over this under-
taking for a long time, and once his resolution is taken, the
devil himself cannot compel him to change his mind."
"That remains to be proved," said Kennedy.
Don't you flatter yourself with any such idea," con-
tinued Joe. Besides, it is very important that you should
come too. A sportsman like yourself will be in his very
element in Africa. So you see for every reason you will
not regret your journey."
"No, certainly. I shall not regret it if this idiotic
scheme can ever be carried out."
By-the-by," said Joe, "do you know that this is the
day to be weighed ?"
"What do you mean by weighed?"
"Well, weighed-you and I and my master."
"What, like jockeys ? "
"Yes, like jockeys. Only be assured you will not be
obliged to train if you are too stout. They will take you as
"I shall certainly not allow myself to be weighed," said
the Scot with' some warmth.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 35
"But, sir, it is necessary for the balloon that you
Well, the balloon must do without, that's all."
Oh, very well, and if in consequence of wrong esti-
mates the balloon should not be able to take us--"
Oh, I don't mean that, of course."
"Well, shall we, Mr. Kennedy? My master will be
coming to look for us in a moment."
I shall not go," said Kennedy.
I am sure you would not wish to annoy him."
I cannot help that."
"Capital," cried Joe, laughing; "you only say that
because he is not here, but when he comes in and says to
you, 'Dick,' (begging your pardon, sir) 'Dick,' I want to
know exactly what you weigh,' you will go, take my word
I tell you I shall not."
At this moment the doctor entered the study where this
conversation had been carried on. He looked toward
Dick, who did not feel quite at his ease.
"Dick," said the doctor, come with Joe, will you, I
want to ascertain what you two weigh."
But--" began Kennedy.
You needn't take off your hat-come along."
And Kennedy went accordingly.
They presented themselves at the workshop of Messrs.
Mitchell, where a steel-yard had been got ready. It was
absolutely necessary that the doctor should know the
weight of his companions, so as to be able to ascertain the
floating power of his balloon. He requested Dick to get
upon the platform of the scales; he did so without resisting,
but he muttered, "Very well, but this commits me to
One hundred and fifty-three pounds," said the doctor,
writing the Weight on his note-book.
"Am I too heavy?" said Kennedy.
Oh dear no, Mr. Kennedy," said Joe; besides, I
am so light that it will equalise the matter."
As he said this, Joe took his place with alacrity on the
machine. He was very nearly upsetting the whole thing in
36 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
his excitement, and he posed himself after the attitude of
the Duke of Wellington as Achilles in Hyde Park, and was
very grand even without the buckler. "One hundred and
twenty pounds," wrote the doctor.
"Ha, ha!" cried Joe, with a radiant satisfaction. Why
he smiled he never could have explained.
Now it is my turn," said Ferguson; and he entered
135 lbs. on his own account. "We three," he added, "do
not weigh more than 400 lbs."
But, sir," said Joe, "if it were necessary I could starve
myself a little, and come down twenty pounds or so."
There will be no necessity for that, my lad," replied
the doctor; "you may eat as much as you like, and here is
half-a-crown, so that you may indulge your tastes a little."
Geometrical Detail-The Balloon's Capacity-The Double Balloon-
The Envelope-The Car-The Mysterious Apparatus-The Pro-
visions-The Last Addition.
DOCTOR FERGUSON had been occupied for a long time
in the details of his expedition. One can quite understand
that the balloon, the wonderful vehicle destined to trans-
port him through the air, was the object of his unremitting
To begin with, and so as not to have the balloon too
large, he resolved to inflate it with hydrogen gas, which is
14Y, times lighter than the atmospheric air. This gas is
easily made, and by its use has been the means of obtain-
ing the best aerostatic observations.
The doctor, after careful calculation, found that, with the
indispensable articles of the journey, clothes, &c., it would
be necessary to carry a weight of 4,000 lbs. He must
therefore provide an ascensional power capable of lifting
this weight, and also ascertain what its capacity would be.
A weight of 4,000 lbs. is represented by a displacement
of 44,877 cubic feet of air; in other words, that amount of
air weighs about 4,000 lbs.
By giving to his balloon the capacity of 44,877 clibic
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
feet of air, and filling it, in lieu of air, with hydrogen gas
(which, being 14% times lighter than air, would not weigh
more than 275 lbs.), there would remain a difference in
the equilibrium to the amount of 3,724 lbs. This is the
difference between the weight of the gas in the balloon and
the weight of the exterior air, which difference constitutes
the ascensional power of the balloon.
Now, if we were to introduce the said 44,877 cubic feet
of gas into the balloon it would be completely filled, and
that would never do, because the higher the balloon rises
into the atmosphere, the less dense is the air, and the gas
would very quickly burst the covering. So a balloon is
usually filled to the extent of two-thirds its capacity.
But the doctor, following out an idea of his own, resolved
to fill the balloon only half full, and, inasmuch as he was
obliged to carry 44,877 cubic feet of hydrogen, to make his
balloon almost double the usual size.
He designed it of an elongated form, which appeared to
be the best. The horizontal diameter was fifty feet, the
vertical diameter seventy-five. He thus obtained a spheroid
capable of containing (in round numbers) 90,000 cubic feet
If Dr. Ferguson had been able to make use of two
balloons, his chances of success would have been increased,
and if one happened to burst in the air, he could, by casting
out ballast, save himself by means of the other. But the
manceuvring of two balloons would have been very difficult
when it was necessary to preserve an equal ascending power
After much reflection, Ferguson, by an ingenious con-
trivance, united the utility of two balloons without their in-
convenience; he constructed two of unequal size and
enclosed one within the other. The exterior balloon, in
which he adhered to the dimensions given above, contained
a smaller one of the same shape, only forty-five and sixty-
eight feet respectively, of horizontal and vertical diameter.
The capacity of this interior balloon then was only 67,000
cubic feet. It floated in the fluid surrounding it. A valve
opened from one balloon to the other, and admitted of com-
munication between them.
38 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
This arrangement had this advantage-viz., that if it were
at any time necessary to let the gas escape, it could be let off
from the larger balloon. Even if they were obliged to
empty it altogether, the smaller one would remain intact;
they could then detach the exterior covering-a useless
drag on them-and the second balloon by itself would not
offer the same resistance to the wind as a partially-filled
Furthermore, if by accident the outer balloon were
injured, the other would be intact. Both balloons were
made with striped taffetas from Lyons, coated with gutta-
percha. This resinous-gummy substance is perfectly water-
proof, and is unaffected by acids or gas. The taffetas were
placed side by side double, stretching upwards to the top,
where almost all the weight was.
This envelope could retain the gas for an unlimited
period. It weighed half a pound to nine square feet. Now
as the surface of the exterior balloon was about 11,600
square feet, its envelope weighed 650 lbs. The envelope
of the second balloon had a surface of 9,200 cubic feet, and
weighed only 5 o lbs.; altogether they weighed i,i6o lbs.
The netting to hold the car was made of the strongest
hempen cord; the valves became objects of the most minute
care, as if they had been the rudder of a ship. The car
was of circular form, and fifteen feet in diameter, of osier,
strengthened by a light iron covering, and fastened to the
lower part by elastic springs, with a view to break the force
of concussion. Its weight, including the net, did not exceed
The doctor caused to be made also four chests of sheet-
iron about one-eighth of an inch thick. These were joined
together by tubes furnished with taps. He added a coil
about two inches wide, which terminated in two straight
branches of unequal lengths, of which the greater was
twenty-five feet high, and the shorter fifteen feet only. The
chests were fitted into the car so as to occupy the least
possible space. The large tap, not easily fitted, was
packed separately, as well as a large galvanic battery. This
apparatus had been so ingeniously contrived that it only
weighed 700 lbs., and contained as much as twenty-five
gallons of water in one case alone.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 39
The instruments prepared for the journey were two
barometers, -two thermometers, two compasses, a sextant,
two chronometers, an artificial horizon, and an instrument
to take the levels of distant and inaccessible objects. He
had access to the Greenwich Observatory. He, however,
did not propose to make any experiments in physics, he
wished merely to become acquainted with his intended
route, and to determine the position of the principal rivers,
mountains, and towns.
He provided three grapnels of well-tested iron, also a
silken ladder, tough and tight, about fifty feet in length.
He also estimated the weight of his provisions; they
consisted of tea, coffee, biscuits, salt meat, and pemmican,
a preparation which, in a very small compass, contains a
great deal of nourishment. Besides a reserve of brandy, he
stowed away two tanks of water, containing about twenty-
two gallons each.
The consumption of these viands would, by degrees,
diminish the weight of the balloon. For it is very neces-
sary to know that in the air a balloon is sensible of the
least difference of weight. An almost inappreciable loss is
sufficient to make a considerable difference in displacement.
The doctor had not forgotten a tent, which could cover
up part of the car; neither rugs, which composed all their
bed-clothes during the journey; nor the rifles and ammuni-
The following is the statement of his different calcula-
Ferguson ... ... ... ... ... 33 1:3.
Kennedy ... ... ... ... ... 153
Joe... ... ... ... ... ... 20 ,
Weight of first balloon ... ... ... 65 ,,
Weight of second balloon ... ... 510 ,,
Car and netting ... ... ... ... 20 ,,
Grapnels, instruments, guns, rugs, tent,
and various utensils ... ... ... 190 ,,
Meat, pemmican, biscuits, tea, coffee,
and brandy ... ... ... ... 386 ,,
W ater ... ... ... ... ... 400 ,,
Clothing ... ... ..... ... 700 ,,
Weight of hydrogen ... .:. ... 276 ,,
Ballast ... ... ... ... ... 200 ,,
Total ... 4,000 lbs.
40 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Such was the detail of the 4,000 Ibs. that Doctor Fer-
guson proposed to raise. He only carried 200 Ibs. of
ballast, "merely for a contingency," said he, for, thanks
to his arrangements, he did not anticipate to be obliged
to use it.
Usefulness of Joe-The Captain of the Resolute-Kennedy's Arms-
Arrangements-The Farewell Dinner-Departure on Feb. 24th-
The Doctor's Lectures on Science-Duveyrier, Livingstone-
Details of Aerial Journey-Kennedy silenced.
ABOUT the ioth of February the preparations were near
completion; the balloons, enclosed one within the other,
were entirely finished; they had been subjected to a tre-
mendous pressure, and this "proving" raised high opinions
as to their powers of endurance, and bore witness to the care
brought to bear upon their construction.
Joe was beside himself with joy; he was perpetually
moving between Greek Street and the workshop of the
Messrs. Mitchell-always busy, but always in good spirits;
volunteering information on all sides, delighted above all
things to accompany his master. I am of opinion that, to
show the balloon, to explain the doctor's ideas, even to let
him be seen at a window or during his walk through the
streets, gained this worthy lad many a half-crown. He did
not intend this altogether, but he certainly had the right to
profit a little by the admiration and curiosity of his con-
On the 16th February the Resolute cast anchor at Green-
wich. She was a screw steamer of 800 tons, a fast sailer, and
had been commissioned to revictual the expedition to the
Arctic Regions under Sir James Ross. Captain Penney was
a good-natured man, and was particularly interested in the
doctor's journey, which he saw the value of some time before.
Penney was more of a savant than a sailor, but that did not
militate against his carrying four carronades on board, which,
however, had never done any harm, and only made the
least warlike of reports.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 41
The hold of the Resolute was fitted up for the reception
of the balloon. It was put on board most carefully on
the 18th February, and stowed away at the bottom of
the vessel so as to avoid the chance of accident. The
car and its accessories, the grapnels, the ropes, the
provisions, the water-tanks (which were to be filled on
arrival), were all stowed under the eyes of Ferguson
himself. They also put on board ten tons of sulphuric
acid, and ten tons of old iron, for the manufacture of
hydrogen gas. This was a more than sufficient quantity,
but it was necessary to guard against possible loss. The
apparatus for developing the gas, and composed of about
thirty barrels, was placed in the hold.
These various preparations were completed by the
evening of the 18th February. Two well-arranged cabins
had been prepared for the doctor and Kennedy. The
latter, all the time vowing that he would not go, came on
board with a perfect armoury of guns and rifles, two ex-
cellent double-barrelled breech-loaders, and a carbine,
tested by Purday, Moore, and Dickson, of Edinburgh. With
such a weapon the sportsman would have no difficulty to
lodge a bullet in the eye of a chamois at 2,000 yards.
Added to these he had two Colt's six-shooters with the
latest improvements; his powder-flask, shot-pouch, lead, and
bullets in sufficient quantity did not exceed the weight laid
down by the doctor.
The three travellers went on board on the i9th
February and were received with great distinction by the
captain and officers. The doctor was quite self-possessed
but unusually pre-occupied with his expedition. Dick was
much moved, but tried not to betray his feelings. Joe
jumped about, making absurd remarks, and was at once
installed as the wag of the forecastle, where a berth had
been reserved for him. On the 2oth, a grand farewell
dinner was given in honour of Doctor Ferguson and his
friend Kennedy, by the Royal Geographical Society.
Captain Penney and his officers had also been invited, who
were very cheerful, and had their health proposed in
flattering terms. Healths were drank in sufficient number
to ensure for each guest an existence of centuries. Sir
42 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Francis M- presided, with repressed emotion, but in a
very dignified manner.
To the unutterable confusion of Dick Kennedy, he came
in for a large share of the festive compliments. After
having drunk to the bold Ferguson, the glory of England,"
they found it necessary to toast "the no less courageous
Kennedy, his brave companion."
Dick blushed deeply, which was put down to modesty;
the applause was redoubled. Dick blushed still more.
A telegram from the Queen was received at dessert.
She presented her compliments to the travellers, and her
good wishes for the success of their enterprise.
This incident necessitated a new toast to the Health of
Her Most Gracious Majesty."
At midnight, after the most touching farewells and warm
grasps of the hand, the guests separated.
The boats of the Resolute were in waiting at Westminster
Bridge, the captain took his place in company with his
officers and passengers, and a rapid ebb tide quickly carried
them to Greenwich. At one o'clock they were all fast
asleep on board.
The next morning, the 21st, at three o'clock, the fires
were lighted: at five, the anchor was weighed, and with the
assistance of her screw, the Resolute threaded her way to the
There is no necessity for us to repeat the conversation
which, on board, turned solely upon Dr. Ferguson's expedi-
tion. By his bearing, equally as by words, he inspired such
confidence that, save the Scot, no one questioned the
success of his undertaking. During the long, idle hours on
board, the doctor instituted a regular geographical lecture in
the ward-room. The young men were passionately fond of
the discoveries which had been made during forty years in
Africa. He related the explorations of Barth, Burton,
Speke, and Grant; he described to them hat mysterious
land given up on all sides to scientific research. In the
north the young Duveyrier had explored the Sahara, and
brought back the Touareg chiefs to Paris. Two expeditions,
under the authority of the French Government, were being
prepared, which, descending from the north to the west,
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
would meet at Timbuctoo. In the south the indefatigable
Livingstone was continually advancing towards the equator,
and, since March, 1862, he had advanced with Mackenzie
up the river Rovoonia. The next century would certainly
not pass away without Africa being compelled to reveal the
secrets hidden in her breast for 6,ooo years.
The interest of Dr. Ferguson's audience was more ex-
cited than ever when he made them acquainted with the
details of his preparations. They wanted to verify his
calculations, they argued, and the doctor entered frankly
into the discussion.
Generally they were surprised by the relatively limited
quantity of food they were to carry. One day they ques-
tioned him on this point.
Does that astonish you ? asked the doctor.
Certainly it does."
But for what length of time do you suppose I shall
continue my journey? Whole months? That is a mistake
on your part. If it be extended we shall be lost, and shall
never get back at all. Are you not aware that it is only
3,500 miles, say 4,000 miles, from Zanzibar to Senegal
coast? Now, at the rate of 240 miles in twelve hours, not
nearly the speed of our railways, by day and night, seven
days would be ample to cross the African continent."
"But then you will not be able to see anything, nor
to make geographical observations, nor take notes of the
"Well," replied the doctor, "if I be master of my
balloon, if I can ascend or descend when I please, I shall
be able to halt when I choose, and whenever the winds are
so violent as to threaten my safety."
And you will encounter them," said Captain Penney.
"There are hurricanes there which rush at the rate of 240
miles an hour."
"So, you see," replied the doctor, "that at that pace
you could cross Africa in twelve hours. You might start
from Zanzibar and sleep at St. Louis."
But," asked an officer, is it possible that a balloon
can be impelled at such a pace ?"
"That has been proved," replied Ferguson.
44 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
"And the balloon resisted the pressure ?"
"Perfectly. It occurred during the year 1804. Garnerin,
the aeronaut, started from Paris at eleven o'clock at night a
balloon, on which was inscribed in golden letters, 'Paris,
25th month, i3th year, coronation of the Emperor Napoleon
by Pope Pius the Seventh.' The following morning, at five
o'clock, the inhabitants of Rome perceived the identical
balloon hovering above the Vatican; it crossed the Cam-
pagna, and fell into the Lake of Bracciano. So you see,
gentlemen, that a balloon can exist in such a rapid
"A balloon, yes; but how about a man?" Kennedy
ventured to ask.
"Just as well. For a balloon is always motionless, in
consequence of the air surrounding it. It is not the man
who moves, it is the mass of the air itself; so that, if you
were to light a candle in the car, the flame would not
flicker. An aeronaut in Garnerin's balloon would not have
suffered by the rate of progression. However, I do not
propose to try such a rapid flight, and if I can anchor
during the night to some tree or to some uneven ground, I
shall be all right. We shall carry, moreover, provisions for
two months, and nothing will prevent our skilful sportsman
here from shooting any quantity of game when we get to
"Ah, Mr. Kennedy, you will, indeed, have some
splendid sport," said a young midshipman, with an envious
glance at the Scotchman.
"Without counting the double pleasure of partaking
in the glory of the expedition," said another.
"Gentlemen," replied Kennedy, "I am very sensible
of your kind compliments, but I cannot accept them, I
"Hallo, what's this !" was heard on all sides. "Do
you not intend to go?"
"I shall not go."
"You will not accompany Doctor Ferguson ?"
"Not only shall I not go with him, but I am here for
the express purpose of stopping him even at the last
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Everyone looked at the doctor.
Don't listen to him," said Ferguson, calmly. It is a
subject we never need discuss with him. He knows per-
fectly well at heart that he will go !"
By St. Andrew," cried Kennedy, "I swear- "
"Don't swear, Dick, my friend; you have been measured
and weighed, you and your powder and shot, your guns and
your rifles, so there is no use talking about it."
And it is a fact that, from that day until the day they
reached Zanzibar, Dick did not open his mouth upon that
subject or any other. Dick was dumb !
Doubling the Cape-The Wit of the Forecastle-Lectures upon
Cosmography by Professor Joe-About guiding Balloons-On
the Search for Atmospheric Currents-" Eureka."
THE Resolute made rapid progress towards the Cape,
meeting with fine weather, but with occasionally heavy
Upon the 3oth March, twenty-seven days after they had
left London, Table Mountain appeared upon the horizon.
Cape Town, situated at the foot of an amphitheatre of
hills, could be distinguished by the glasses, and the Resolute
soon cast anchor in the harbour. But the captain only
waited to "coal," which was accomplished in a day, and
upon the following one the ship's head was put to the south
to double the most southerly point of Africa and enter the
As this was by no means Joe's first voyage, he very soon
made himself at home on board. Everyone liked him for
his frankfiess and good humour. No inconsiderable portion
of his master's fame was reflected upon him, he was listened
to as an oracle, and he had not the slightest doubt that he
was anything else.
Now, while the doctor was continuing his course of
lectures in the cabin, Joe was mounted on the forecastle
telling stories in his own way, a proceeding in imitation of
the greatest writers of all ages. The subject of the aerial
46 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
voyage was naturally discussed. Joe had had some trouble
to overcome the stubborn spirits of his companions; but
now the enterprise was an accepted fact, the imagination
of the sailors, stimulated by Joe's stories, believed every-
thing to be possible.
This dazzling narrator had persuaded his hearers that
after this voyage there would be many more undertaken.
It was only the commencement of a long series of super-
Don't you see, my friends, that when one has had a
taste of this kind of locomotion one can be no longer con-
tented, so in our next expedition, instead of going sideways,
we shall go directly upwards."
"What! right up into the moon, then ?" cried his
"Into the moon?" rejoined Joe; "no, faith, that is too
commonplace. Everybody now goes up to the moon.
Moreover, there is no water there, and one would be
obliged to carry a quantity of provisions, and even air up in
bottles to be able to breathe."
Well, it would be all right if one could find some grog
up there," said a sailor who had only lately experienced the
taste of that mixture.
"That's enough, my lad, we shall not go to the moon,
but we shall sail about amongst the stars in the midst of
those beautiful planets of which my master has often spoken
to me. We shall commence by visiting Saturn."
"That one with the ring ?" asked the quartermaster.
"Yes, a wedding-ring, only no one knows what has
become of his wife."
Hullo are you going so far as that ?" said a cabin-
boy, utterly astounded. Why your master must be the
devil in person I"
"The devil I oh dear no; he is too good for that."
But where are you going after Saturn ?" asked one of
the most impatient of the audience.
After Saturn ? Well, we shall visit Jupiter, a most
extraordinary country, where the days are only nine hours
and a half long, which is a great blessing for idle people;
and where the years, by-the-by, last as long as twelve of
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 47
ours, which is a great source of satisfaction to people who
have only six months to live. That gives them a little
longer lease of life."
"Twelve years !" exclaimed the cabin-boy.
"Yes, my boy; so in that country you would not be
weaned yet, and that old fellow over there, who is nearly
fifty, would be only a child four years and a half old."
"That is not true cried all the men.
"Perfectly true !" said Joe, with assurance. "But
what can you expect if you will persist in vegetating in
this world ? You learn nothing, and you remain as ignorant
as a porpoise. Come up to Jupiter for a little, and you
will see. You must hold on pretty tight up there, for there
are satellites knocking about which are occasionally incon-
They laughed at this, but they did not half believe
him. Then he spoke to them about Neptune, where sailors
were always so well received, and of Mars, where soldiers
take the wall, which conduct on their part invariably leads
to a fight. As for Mercury, it is a wretched place, full of
robbers and tradesmen, who are so much alike, that it is
difficult to distinguish one from the other. Finally, he
drew them a truly enchanting picture of Venus; and when
we shall have returned from that expedition we shall be
decorated with the Southern Cross."
"And well you will have won it," cried the sailors.
Thus, in animated conversation, the long evenings were
passed on the forecastle. All this time the interesting
conversations with the doctor continued.
One day, when they were conversing respecting the
guidance of balloons, Ferguson was asked to give his opinion
on the question.
"I do not think," he said, "that we shall ever be able to
direct the course of a balloon. I am acquainted with all
the systems which have been proposed or attempted. Not
one has succeeded; not one is practicable. You may very
well imagine that I have myself been engaged in this
matter, which ought to possess a very great interest for me,
but I have never been able to solve it by means of our
present knowledge of mechanics. It would be necessary to
48 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
discover a motive power of extraordinary strength and of an
impossible lightness. Even then, one could not resist any
considerable currents. As it is, one is much more anxious
to direct the car than the balloon. That's a mistake."
"Nevertheless," said someone, "there is a great re-
semblance between the balloon and a ship, which can be
guided at will."
"Not at all," replied Doctor Ferguson; "there is little
or no resemblance. Air is infinitely less dense than water,
in which, moreover, a ship is only half submerged, while
the balloon is entirely surrounded by the atmosphere, and
remains stationary on account of the fluid which encircles
"Then you are of opinion that science is exhausted
upon that point?"
Not so, not so; it has become necessary to look for
other means by which, if a balloon cannot be guided, it can
be kept up in favourable atmospheric currents. As one rises
higher, these currents become more uniform, and are more
constant in their direction, as they are not interfered with
by the valleys and mountains which intersect the face of the
earth; and here is the principal cause, as you are aware, of
the changes of the force and direction of the wind. Now
once these zones have been determined, the balloon will
only have to be placed in the currents which will be met
But," replied the captain, "to hit upon these currents
you must be always ascending or descending. There is the
true difficulty, my dear doctor."
"Why, my dear captain ?"
"Let us understand each other; it would only be an
obstacle in the way of long journeys, not for small ascents."
"Your reasons, if you please ? "
"Because you can only ascend by throwing out ballast,
you can only descend by letting the gas escape; and under
these circumstances your store of gas would be very soon
My dear Penney, that is the point of the whole thing.
There is /he difficulty which science should endeavour to
overcome. It is not a question of directing the course of a
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
balloon so much, as it is a question of moving up and
down without losing the gas, which is the strength, the
blood, the soul, so to speak, of a balloon."
Quite right, doctor; but this difficulty is not overcome;
the means to accomplish this have not yet been found."
"Excuse me, they have been."
"By whom ?"
"By you I"
"Why, you must understand that without this power I
should not have run the risks of crossing Africa in a
balloon. Why, in about twenty-four hours I should have
had no gas left."
But you have never spoken of this in England !"
No, I did not think it desirable to discuss it in public.
That seemed to me useless. I made secretly some pre-
liminary experiments, and I am satisfied. I have not any
need of learning anything further on that point."
"My dear Ferguson, may one ask to be made ac-
quainted with your secrets ?"
Here it is, gentlemen, and my plan is a very simple
The curiosity of the audience was raised to the highest
pitch, while the doctor calmly addressed himself to his
subject as follows.
Preliminary Experiments-The Five Chests-The Blow-pipe-The
Stove-The Manner of Working-Success Achieved.
"ATTEMPTS have been made frequently, gentlemen, to
ascend and descend at will, without losing the gas in a
balloon. A French aeronaut, M. Meumier, attempted to
do this by compressing the air. A Belgian doctor, Van
Hecke, by means of wings and paddles, made as of a
vertical force, which has proved ineffective in the majority
of instances. The practical results obtained by the above
means are insignificant.
"I then resolved to go into the question boldly, and at
50 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
once put the ballast on one side, if it were not a case of
absolute necessity as to the breaking of my apparatus, or in
case of being obliged to rise suddenly to avoid an un-
"My means of ascent and descent consist equally in
the dilation or contraction by varying temperatures of the
gas confined in the balloon. And this is how I manage it.
"You have already seen put on board certain chests
with the car, of which you did not understand the utility.
These chests are five in number.
"The first contains about twenty-five gallons of water, to
which I add sulphuric acid to increase its conductibility,
and I resolve it into its component parts by means of a
strong Bautzen galvanic battery. Water, as you are aware,
is composed of two volumes hydrogen gas to one of
The oxygen under the battery action goes off by the
positive pole into a second chest. A third chest, placed on
the top of it, and of about twice the size, receives the
hydrogen which enters it by the negative pole.
Two taps, one of which has an opening double that of
the other, keep up a communication between these two
cases and a fourth, which is known as the mixing chest.
Here in fact the gases arising from the decomposition of the
water mingle together. The capacity of this chest is about
forty-one cubic feet. In the upper part of it is a platinum
tube with a stop-cock.
You will already have perceived, gentlemen, that
the apparatus I have described is nothing more than an oxy-
hydrogen blow-pipe, the heat evolved by which surpasses
that of a forge fire.
"That matter settled, I pass on to the second part of
"From the lower part of my balloon, which is her-
metically closed, two tubes pass out at a short distance
from each other. One of these leads from the upper
volume of hydrogen, the other from the lower. They both
descend as far as the car, and terminate in a cylindrical
iron chest called the heat chest. It is closed at each
extremity by a strong disc of the same metal.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. St
"The tube from the lower part of the balloon enters the
cylindrical chest through the lower disc, and there assumes
the shape of a coil, whose upper rings occupy nearly the
entire height of the box. Before leaving the chest, the coil
is led into a little cone, whose base, concave, like a round
cap, is directed downwards.
It is at the top of this cone that the second tube
makes its exit, and it terminates, as I have said, in the
upper folds of the balloon.
"The spherical cap of the little cone is made of
platinum, so that it may not be melted under the action of
the blow-pipe, for this is placed at the bottom of the iron
case in the centre of the coil, and the flame lightly licks
You know those stoves used for warming rooms ? You
know how they act ? The air of the room is forced through
the tubes and comes back warmer. So that what I have
been describing is, after all, only a stove.
"And, in fact, what takes place ? Once the blow-pipe is
lighted, the hydrogen is warmed and rises rapidly by the
tube to the upper part of the balloon. A vacuum is caused
below, and the gas from the lower part is attracted to fill
it, which, in its turn, is warmed, and is continually re-
placed, so that an extremely rapid current of gas is
generated, leaving the balloon, returning, and being warmed
"Now, gas increases -Ah of their volume for every
degree of heat. If, then, I created a temperature of 18,
the hydrogen in the balloon will increase Mi, or 1,614
cubic feet; it will then displace 1,674 cubic feet of air more,
which will increase its power of ascent i6olbs. That
comes, then, to the same weight of ballast. If I increase
the temperature to 24, the gas expands W-, it displaces
6,740 cubic feet, and the ascending force amounts to
You can understand, gentlemen, that I am easily able to
obtain considerable changes of equilibrium. The volume of
a balloon has been calculated in such a way that, when half
inflated, it displaces a weight of air exactly equal to the
envelope of hydrogen gas and of the car occupied by the
52 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
travellers and their belongings. At this point of inflation it
is in exact equilibrium in the air; it will neither rise nor
In order to ascend, I bring the gas to a temperature
higher than the ambient temperature, by means of my blow-
pipe; by this access of heat, a strong tension is created,
and fills the balloon, which rises so long as I expand the
The descent is, naturally, made by moderating the heat,
and permitting the temperature to cool. The ascent will
generally be inuch more rapid than the descent. But that
is a very good feature, for one never wants to descend
quickly, and it is, on the contrary, a quick upward move-
ment by which I avoid danger, which is beneath me, not
above the balloon.
However, as already hinted, I have a certain quantity of
ballast which can be got rid of, and enable me to rise still
more quickly if desirable. The valve at the top is only a
safety-valve. The balloon itself looks after its supply of
hydrogen; the variations of temperature which I can pro-
duce in the centre of the gas reservoir are only applied to
the ascending and descending movements.
"Now, gentlemen, I will just add a few practical details.
The combustion of hydrogen and oxygen at the end of
the blow-pipe produces only watery vapour. I have there-
fore provided the lower part of the cylindrical case with an
escape-pipe acting with the pressure of two atmospheres.
Consequently, so soon as that pressure has been reached,
the vapour makes its escape of its own accord.
Here are the exact figures.
"Twenty-five gallons of water, resolved into their con-
stituent elements, yield 200 lbs. of oxygen and 25 lbs. of
hydrogen. That represents, at the tension of the air,
1,890 cubic feet of the former and 3,780 cubic feet of the
latter; altogether, 670 cubic feet of the mingled gases.
Now the top of the blow-pipe, fully open, gives twenty-
seven cubic feet per hour, with a flame at least six times
more powerful than the largest lamp. On an average, then,
and so as not to be too high up, I shall only burn nine
cubic feet in the hour, so my twenty-five gallons of water
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 53
represent 630 hours of aerial navigation, or rather more
than twenty-six days.
As I can descend at pleasure and obtain water on my
route, my journey is practically indefinite.
There is my secret, gentlemen; it is very simple, and,
like all simple things, it cannot but succeed. My plan is
only the extension and contraction of the gas in the balloon,
which necessitates no wings nor mechanical power of
motion. A stove to produce changes of temperature and a
blow-pipe to warm it are neither heavy nor in the way.
I believe that I have overcome all the serious difficulties
of the undertaking."
Here Doctor Ferguson ended his discourse, and
was heartily applauded. No one had any objections to
advance. Everything appeared provided for and carried
"Nevertheless," said the captain, "it may be very
What does that matter," rejoined the doctor, "if it be
Arrival at Zanzibar-The English Consul-Opposition of the Inhabi-
tants-Isle Koumbeni-The Rain-Makers-Inflation of the Balloon
-Departure-Last Farewells-The "Victoria."
FAVOURING breezes had hurried the Resolute towards her
destination. The Mozambique Channel proved particularly
kind to her. The sea voyage was held as a good omen for
the success of the air journey. Everyone on board wished
for the moment of arrival, and vied in assisting Doctor
Ferguson in his final preparations.
At length the vessel came in sight of the town of Zan-
zibar, situated upon the island of the same name, and on
the 15th April, at II A.M., she cast anchor in the harbour.
Zanzibar belongs to the Imaum of Muscat, an ally of
England and France, and it is certainly a beautiful posses-
sion. The harbour shelters a great number of ships hailing
54 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
from neighboring ports. The island is only separated from
the mainland by a channel about thirty miles wide.
Zanzibar enjoys a large traffic in gum, ivory, and, above
all, ebony, for it is a celebrated slave market. Here are
concentrated all the booty taken in the battles which are
being incessantly waged by the chiefs in the interior. This
traffic extends to the whole eastern coast, almost up to the
Nile region, and Mr. Lejean has seen them carrying on the
traffic close to the French consul's residence.
So soon as the Resolute had arrived the English consul
came on board, to offer his assistance to the doctor, whose
intentions the European journals had some time before
announced. But up to that time the consul had enrolled
himself among the sceptics.
"I confess I did doubt you," said he, extending his
hand to Doctor Ferguson, "but I doubt no longer."
He placed his house at the disposal of the doctor, of
Kennedy, and, naturally, of Joe also. While enjoying these
attentions the doctor remembered several letters which he
had received from Captain Speke. The captain and his
companions had undergone terrible sufferings from hunger
and bad weather before reaching the territory of Ugogo.
They only advanced with extreme difficulty, and gave up
all hope of forwarding intelligence quickly.
Those are some of the perils and privations which we
shall avoid," said the doctor.
The baggage of the three travellers was.sent up to the
consul's house. They made preparations to land the balloon
upon the beach at Zanzibar; they had there fixed upon a
convenient spot close to the signal station, near to an enor-
mous erection which sheltered them from the east wind.
This immense tower, like a tun standing on end, and com-
pared to which the great tun of Heidelberg is but a small
barrel, was used as a fort, and upon the platforms Be-
loutchis, armed with lances, kept watch-a lazy, noisy gar-
But when the balloon was about to be landed, the consul
was warned that the population of the island would oppose
the disembarkation by force. This was only their blind
fanatical passions showing themselves, The news of the
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
arrival of a Christian, who was about to rise up into the air,
was received with much irritation. The blacks, more ex-
cited than the Arabs, saw in this project intentions hostile
to their religion, for they imagined the white men were
about to go up to the sun and moon. As the sun and moon
are both worshipped by the African tribes, these people
determined to oppose this sacrilegious expedition. The
consul being acquainted with these intentions of the negroes,
conferred respecting them with the doctor and Captain
Penney. The latter had no desire to yield to menace, but
his friend caused him to regard it in a different light.
"We shall accomplish our object," said he, "and even
the Imaum's soldiers would assist us if necessary; but, my
dear captain, an accident very easily occurs-an unfortunate
blow would do irreparable damage to the balloon, and the
journey would be hopelessly deferred; it is much better to
take precautionary measures."
But what can you do ? If we disembark anywhere on
the coast, it will be all the same. What can you do ?"
Nothing easier to answer," said the consul. Do you
perceive those islands outside the harbour? Disembark
your balloon there, establish a cordon of sailors round you,
and you will have nothing to fear."
Capital," cried the doctor, "and we shall be able to
make our preparations in comfort."
The captain yielded to this advice. The Resolute hauled
up alongside the island of Koumbeni. During the morning
of the 16th April the balloon was safely bestowed in the
midst of an open space, shaded from the sun by large sur-
Two masts, each twenty-eight feet high, were placed at
some distance apart, and pulleys fixed to them, so as to
raise the balloon to the centre of the rope stretched between
them. The balloons were quite empty. The inner one
was fastened to the top of the outer one, so that it could
be raised with it.
To the lower extremity of each balloon were fixed the
tubes for the introduction of the hydrogen. The whole of
the 17th was passed in arranging the apparatus for making
the gas. It consisted of thirty casks, in which the decom-
56 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
position of the water was carried on by means of iron and
sulphuric acid mixed with a quantity of water. The hydro-
gen gave off into a vast vat in the centre, having been
purified in transit, and thence it passed into the balloons
through the tubes. In this manner each was filled with an
accurately-known quantity of gas.
In this operation 1,866 gallons of sulphuric acid, 16,500
pounds of iron, and 966 gallons of water were employed.
This operation was begun about three o'clock on the
following morning, and continued till eight. The next day
the balloons, covered by the net, were balanced gracefully
above the car, which was held down by a number of bags
of earth. The apparatus for the dilatation was put in with
great care, and the pipes leading from the balloon were
fastened into the cylindrical chest.
The grapnels, ropes, instruments, rugs, tent, the provi-
sions, and arms were placed in the car as previously
arranged. Water was provided at Zanzibar. Two hundred
pounds of ballast were taken in in fifty sacks, and placed at
the bottom of the car within reach.
The preparations were ended about 5 P.M. The sentinels
patrolled continually around the island, and the boats of
the Resolute kept watch in the channel.
The negroes continued to display their anger by cries,
grimaces, and contortions. The sorcerors went about
amongst the excited people fanning their indignation.
Some fanatics endeavoured to swim across to the island,
but they were easily repulsed.
Then the charms and incantations commenced. The
rain-compellers, who pretended to be able to control the
clouds, summoned up hurricanes and hailstones to their
assistance. For that object they collected leaves of all the
different trees in the country and made a fire, and sacri-
ficed a sheep by driving a long needle into its heart.
But, notwithstanding their ceremonies, the sky continued
cloudless, and they were no better for their sheep and their
The negroes then abandoned themselves to the most
terrible orgies, and got tremendously drunk with "tembo,"
a potent spirit derived from the cocoa-nut tree, or upon a
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 57
very "heady species of beer called togwa." Their songs
without melody, but of correct rhythm, were heard all
through the night.
About 6 P.M. a farewell dinner was given to the three
travellers on board the Resolute. Kennedy, to whom nobody
addressed many questions, muttered some indistinct sen-
tences, and never took his gaze from Doctor Ferguson.
This was a very melancholy repast. The near approach
of the moment for parting inspired many sad reflections in
everyone. What fate was in store for these venturesome
Should they ever return to their friends and their happy
homes ? If their means of transport failed, what would be-
come of them in the midst of savage tribes in an unknown
territory in the embrace of an illimitable desert ?
These fancies, hitherto put in the background, and to
which they had attached little importance, now began to
prey upon their already excited feelings. Doctor Ferguson,
always cool and collected, spoke of other things and other
people, but even he struggled in vain to dissipate the pre-
vailing sadness; he could not overcome that.
As some fears had been expressed respecting the safety
of the doctor and his companions, they slept that night on
board the Resolute. At 6 A.M. they quitted their cabin and
landed on the island of Kuombeni.
The balloon floated gracefully in the light easterly breeze.
The bags of earth had been replaced by twenty sailors.
Captain Penney and his officers were present at this last
At this moment Kennedy walked up to the doctor, and
took his hand.
"Is it really decided, Samuel, that you are going ?"
"It is really decided, my dear Dick."
"I have done all I could to hinder your voyage ?"
"Then my conscience is clear, and I shall go with
"I was sure you would," replied the doctor, as the tears
started to his eyes.
The moment for the final adieux had now arrived. The
58 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
captain and his officers all embraced their courageous friends,
not excepting the worthy Joe, proud and joyful that day.
All the sailors wished to shake hands with Doctor Ferguson.
At nine o'clock the three travelling companions took
their places in the car. The doctor lighted his blow-pipe,
and heated it so as to produce a high temperature. The
balloon, which had hitherto remained in equilibrio, began to
sway. The sailors were obliged to slacken the ropes they
held. The car ascended twenty feet.
"My friends," cried the doctor, coming forward and
waving his hat, "let us give our aerial vessel a name which
carries happiness everywhere-let us call it the' Victoria !'"
A ringing cheer was the reply.
"God save the Queen Hurrah for Old England !"
At this moment the ascending force reached a tremen-
dous pitch. Ferguson, Kennedy, and Joe waved a last adieu
to their friends.
Let go, all!" cried the doctor.
And the "Victoria" rose rapidly, while the four carro-
nades of the Resolute thundered out a salute as she glided
upwards on her perilous journey.
Crossing the Straits-The Mrima-Proposals of Dick and Joe-
Recipe for Coffee-Uzarmo-The unfortunate Maizen-Mount
Duthumi-The Doctor's Maps-Night upon a Nopal.
THE air was clear, the wind was moderate, the "Victoria"
mounted almost perpendicularly to a height of 1,500 feet,
which was indicated by a depression of nearly two inches in
the barometrical column.
At this elevation, a more decided current carried the
balloon towards the south-west. What a magnificent pano-
rama unfolded itself beneath the eyes of the travellers!
The island of Zanzibar was in sight from end to end, and
stood out in its rich colouring as upon a huge board; the
fields presented an appearance of patchwork, and the large
clumps of trees indicated, the woods and coppices.
The inhabitants appeared like insects. The cheers and
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 59
cries died away in the air by degrees, and the reports of
the ship's guns vibrated only in the lower concavity of the
"How splendid all that is!" cried Joe, breaking the
silence for the first time.
No reply was vouchsafed. The doctor was occupied in
observing the barometrical changes and taking note of the
various details of the ascent.
Kennedy stared at it and could not take it all in.
The sun added to the heat of the blow-pipe and in-
creased the expansion of the gas. The Victoria reached
a height of 2,5c0 feet.
The Resolute lnow appeared like a small barque, and the
African coast loomed in the west like an enormous line of
Why don't you speak ?" said Joe.
"We are making observations," replied the doctor, as
he turned his glass towards the continent.
"Well, I feel as if I must speak," said Joe.
"Fire away, Joe; talk as much as you like."
Joe therefore gave way to a tremendous string of excla-
mations. The ohs," the "ahs," and the good heavens"
were something astonishing.
While they were crossing the sea, the doctor thought it
better to maintain this elevation, as he could observe a
greater extent of coast; the thermometer and the barometer,
suspended in the interior of the half-opened tent, were
almost incessantly consulted; a second barometer, placed
outside, was for use during the night.
After two hours the "Victoria," impelled at a rate of a
little over eight miles, neared the coast. The doctor de-
termined to approach the earth; he moderated the flame
of the blow-pipe, and soon the balloon descended to within
300 feet of the ground.
He perceived that he was just over Mrima, a name
bestowed on this portion of the coast of Eastern Africa;
thick lines of mangoe bushes lined the shore, whose roots,
lacerated by the Indian Ocean, were left plainly visible by
The sand-hills, which formerly constituted the coast line,
60 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
rose above the horizon, and the Mount Nguru showed its
head in the north-west.
The "Victoria" passed close to a village, which, from
the map, the doctor pronounced to be Kaole. All the
population assembled to utter yells of anger and fear as the
travellers passed. Arrows were vainly directed against the
air monster, which floated majestically above the reach of
their futile fury.
The wind went round to the south, but the doctor was
not disturbed by this ; on the contrary; he was rather glad to
follow the route traversed by Captains Burton and Speke.
Kennedy at last had become as loquacious as Joe, and
they mutually exchanged remarks expressive of their ad-
"What is a diligence after this ?" said one.
"Or a steamer ?" said the other.
"Or a wretched' railway ?" rejoined Kennedy, "in which
you pass through the country without seeing it."
"Give me a balloon," said Joe, "where you needn't stir,
and nature takes the trouble to unroll herself at your feet."
"What a magnificent prospect! how splendid it all is!
like a beautiful dream in a hammock."
I wonder if we are to have any breakfast," said Joe, to
whom the pure air had given an appetite.
"Happy thought, my lad," said Kennedy.
"Oh! the cooking won't take long; it is only biscuits
and preserved meat."
"With as much coffee as you like," added the doctor.
"Allow me to borrow a little heat from my blow-pipe ; there
is plenty of it. In this way we shall have no fear of fire."
That would be terrible," said Kennedy. It is like
sitting under a magazine."
Not at all," said Ferguson; but if the gas did happen
to take light it would burn by degrees, and we should come
down to the ground, which would be inconvenient. But
never fear, our balloon is hermetically sealed."
"Well, let us have something to eat," said Kennedy.
"Here you are, gentlemen," said Joe; "and while I
follow your example in eating I will go and prepare a coffee
of which you shall tell me the origin."
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
"The fact is," said the doctor, that Joe, amongst a
thousand virtues, has an extraordinary talent for preparing
this delicious beverage. He makes it of all kinds of things
which he never wishes me to know anything about."
"Well, sir, since we are in the open air, I can confide
my recipe to you. It is, in fact, a mixture of equal parts of
Mocha, Bourbon, and Rio Nunez."
Shortly afterwards three steaming cups were served,
which brought a substantial breakfast to a termination, and
each one resumed his post of observation.
The country was distinguished by its extreme fertility.
Winding and narrow pathways were hidden by arches of
They passed over fields of tobacco, maize, and barley in
full growth. Here and there immense rice-fields with their
straight stalks and ruddy flowers. Sheep and goats were
enclosed in raised pens, to preserve them from the attacks of
leopards. A luxurious vegetation displayed itself upon this
prodigal soil. In the numerous villages the cries and the
astonishment were renewed at the sight of the "Victoria,"
and Doctor Ferguson kept prudently out of reach of arrows;
the inhabitants, assembling around their thickly-grouped huts
pursued the travellers for long distances with vain yells and
At noon the doctor, referring to the map, was of opinion
that they were above the town of Uzaramo. The country
bristled with cocoa-nut, papaw, and cotton trees, over which
the Victoria" idly disported itself. Joe took all this as a
matter of course, ever since he had made up his mind to
come to Africa.
Kennedy described hares and quails, which desired no
better fate than to be killed by his gun, but it would have
been powder wasted, as it was impossible to recover the
The travellers moved at the rate of about twelve miles
an hour, and soon found themselves in 380 20' longitude,
over the village of Tounda.
"That is the place," said the doctor, "where Burton
and Speke succumbed to fever, and for a time believed their
expedition must be given up."
62 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
"They were, nevertheless, but a little distance from the
coast, yet already fatigue and privation began to tell upon
In fact, in this region a perpetual malaria exists. Even
the doctor could only escape its attacks by rising in the
balloon above the miasma, which the burning sun caused to
rise from the swampy earth.
Sometimes they could perceive a caravan reposing in a
"kraal," waiting for the cool hours of evening to resume
their journey. These "kraals are large resting-places sur-
rounded by hedges and jungle, where the merchants are
secure, not only from the attacks of wild beasts, but from
those of the pillaging native tribes. When they saw the
natives retreat, the merchants fled at the appearance of the
" Victoria." Kennedy wished to have a nearer view, but
Samuel would not hear of it.
"The chiefs are armed with muskets," he said, "and
our balloon is too good a shot for them."
"Would a bullet-hole bring the balloon down?" askedJoe.
"Not immediately; but the aperture would soon ex-
tend to an immense fissure, through which all our gas would
"Then I vote we keep at a respectful distance from
those wretches. I wonder what they think of us up here.
I am sure they want to worship us ?"
." Let them worship us as much as they please at a dis-
tance. That pleases us all round. Look here, the country
is already changing, villages are fewer, the mangoes have
disappeared; their growth ceases in this latitude. The
land is hilly, a sign we are approaching mountains. In
fact," said Kennedy, "I fancy I can descry some mountains
this side of us."
In the west-those are the first chain of the Ourizara-
Mount Duthumi, no doubt, behind which I hope we shall
encamp for the night. I will stir up the blow-pipe a little,
for we shall be obliged to rise here to about 500 or 600
"That is a first-rate idea of yours, sir," said Joe; "the
movement is neither difficult nor fatiguing; just turn a tap,
and it is all done."
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 63
"We shall be more comfortable," said Kennedy, "when
the balloon is higher up; the reflection from that red sand is
"What splendid trees those are 1" exclaimed Joe;
"though quite natural, they are magnificent. Why, a dozen
of them would make a forest !"
"They are the 'baobab,'" replied Doctor Ferguson.
"See, one of their trunks must be almost ioo feet in cir-
cumference. It was, perhaps, to the trunk of that very
tree that the unfortunate Frenchman, Maizan, was murdered
in 1845, for we are just above the village of Deje la Mhora,
whither he penetrated alone. He was captured by the chief
of this territory, tied to the foot of the tree, and then the
savage negro cut him slowly limb from limb, while he chanted
a war-song. Then, making a deep incision in his victim's
throat, stopped to sharpen his knife, and literally tore the
half-severed head from the body of the unfortunate French-
man. He was only twenty-six."
And did not France demalid satisfaction for such a
crime?" asked Kennedy.
"France did so, and the Said of Zanzibar did all he
could to arrest the murderer, but without success."
I hope I shall not be stopped on the way," said Joe.
"Up higher, sir, if you have any regard for me."
"And the more willingly, Joe, that Mount Duthumi is
peering at us. If my calculations be correct, we shall have
passed it before 7 P.M.
"Shall we travel during the night ?" asked the Scot.
"No; not unless we are obliged to do so. With pre-
caution and careful watching we might do so in safety.
But it is not enough to cross Africa, we must see it too."
"Hitherto we have not had much to complain of, sir.
The country is the best cultivated and the most fertile in
the world; not a desert, as the geographies would have us
About half-past six the Victoria" was opposite Mount
Duthumi. It was necessary, to avoid it, to rise more than
3,000 feet, and for that the doctor had only to raise the
temperature eighteen degrees. It might be said that he
worked the balloon with his hand. Kennedy warned him
64 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
of the obstacles to avoid, and the "Victoria" rose through
the air skimming past the mountain.
At eight o'clock they descended on the opposite side,
but the descent was slower than the ascent. The grapnels
were cast out, and one after the other came in contact with
the branches of an enormous Indian fig, where they fastened
themselves. Then Joe let himself slip down by the cord
and secured the balloon as firmly as possible. The silk
ladder was then thrown to him, and he reascended briskly.
The balloon remained almost motionless, shaded from the
The evening meal was prepared. The travellers, with
appetites excited by their aerial trip, made a great hole in
"What distance have we made to-day?" asked Kennedy,
while masticating some troublesome morsels.
The doctor ascertained the day's work by means of
lunar observations, and consulted the excellent map which
served him as a guide-it was part of the atlas published in
Gotha by his friend Petermann, and which he had sent to
him. This atlas would serve the doctor for the whole
journey, for it contained the route of Burton and Speke to
the great lakes, that to the Soudan undertaken by Barth,
to the Lower Senegal by William Lejean, and to the delta
of the Niger by Dr. Baike.
Ferguson also possessed a book which contained all the
speculations written respecting the Nile, and entitled, The
Sources of the Nile; being a general survey of the basin
of that river, and of its head stream, with the history of
the Nilotic discovery. By Charles Beke, D.D."
He also had the excellent maps published in the
"Transactions of the Royal Geographical Society of
London," so any point of the country hitherto discovered
could not now escape him.
Following the map, he found that the latitudinal route
had been two degrees, or 120 miles, to the west. Kennedy
remarked that the route turned towards the north; this
direction satisfied the doctor, who wished as soon as possible
to follow up the tracks of his predecessors.
It was decided that the night should be divided into
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
three watches, so that each could in his turn keep guard for
the others. The doctor took the 9 P.M. watch, Kennedy
the midnight turn, and Joe that at 3 A.M.
So Kennedy and Joe, wrapped up in their rugs, laid
down in the tent, and slept calmly while the doctor kept
Change of Weather-Kennedy's Fever-Medicine of Ir. Ferguson-
Travelling by Land-The Basin of the Imeng--Mount Rubeho,
6,ooo feet high-A Day's Halt.
THE night was calm: nevertheless, upon the following
morning (Saturday), Kennedy, on waking, complained of
lassitude and shivering. The weather began to change,
and the sky became covered with heavy clouds, as if pre-
paring for a second deluge.
Zungomero is a very weeping region indeed, for in
that delightful locality it rains all the year round except
perhaps for about fifteen days in January.
The heavy rain was not slow to assail the travellers.
Below them the paths, intersected by "nullahs," the beds of
mountain torrents, became impassable, choked as they were
besides with bindweed and prickly plants. The travellers
distinctly perceived the odour of sulphuretted hydrogen
spoken of by Captain Burton.
"As he declared," said the doctor, "and he was right,
one can almost believe that a dead body is hidden beneath
A villainous country, certainly," said Joe, and it seems
to me that Mr. Kennedy is none the better for having
passed the night in it."
Well, to tell the truth, I have got a pretty strong touch
of fever," said the Scot.
My dear Dick, that is nothing wonderful, we are now
in one of the most unhealthy spots in Africa. But we shall
not be here long. Let us go."
Thanks to a rapid manceuvre of Joe's, the grapnel was
detached, and by means of the ladder he regained the car.
66 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The doctor at once expanded the gas and the "Victoria"
resumed her voyage, impelled by a fairly strong breeze.
Some huts were scarcely visible in the pestilential mist
beneath, but the country began soon to change its aspect.
It is often the case in Africa that malarious regions of small
extent border upon the most perfectly healthy districts.
Kennedy was visibly suffering, and the fever prostrated
"This is scarcely the place to be laid up in," said he, as
he wrapped himself in his rug and lay down in the tent.
"Just a Tittle patience, Dick," replied the doctor, "and
you will recover rapidly."
Recover By Jove, my dear Samuel, if you have any
drug that will set me up, let me have it at once. I will
swallow it with my eyes shut."
I know something better than that, friend Dick. I will
give you a dose that will cost nothing."
"It is very simple. I am about to mount right over
these clouds which are drowning us, and get free from this
pestilential atmosphere. I only ask ten minutes to expand
The ten minutes had scarcely elapsed, when the balloon
had passed out of the wet zone.
"Now, wait a little, Dick, and you will soon feel the
benefit of the pure air and sunshine."
"There is indeed a remedy," cried Joe. "It is really
Not at all-only natural."
Oh I don't doubt it is perfectly natural !"
I only send Dick into purer air, as people are sent
every day in Europe, and as at Martinique they are sent to
the Pitons* to escape yellow fever."
"Ah !" cried Kennedy, who already was beginning to
feel better. This balloon is really paradise.' "
In any case it leads there," said Joe, seriously.
The view beneath the balloon at that moment was a
curious spectacle; the masses of cloud were piled up in
A mountain range in Martinique.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 67
magnificent array, moving one above the other, and tinged
with the glorious rays of the sun. The "Victoria" had
attained an altitude of 4,000 feet, and the thermometer indi-
cated a fall in the temperature. The earth was invisible.
About fifty miles westward, Mount Rubeho raised its
sparkling head, which indicated the limit of the country of
Ugogo, in 360 20' longitude. The wind had the force of
twenty miles an hour, but the travellers felt nothing of this
rapid movement; they experienced-no inconvenience what-
ever, indeed they were scarcely aware of the progress they
made. Three hours later, the prediction of Doctor Fer-
guson was verified. Kennedy's fever had departed, and he
breakfasted with a good appetite.
"This is better than sulphate of quinine," said he, with
"Decidedly," cried Joe. "I shall come up here when
I grow old."
About six o'clock in the morning the atmosphere cleared.
They perceived an opening in the clouds; the earth re-
appeared, and the "Victoria" insensibly approached it,
Doctor Ferguson was on the look-out for a current to carry
the balloon towards the north-east, and at about 600 feet
from the ground he fell in with it. The country became
uneven, and even hilly. The district of Zongomero was
lost in the east, with it the last cocoa-nut trees of that
The mountains soon began to assume a more decided
form. Some peaks shot up here and there. It was neces-
sary to keep a watchful eye upon the sharp peals, which
appeared to rise up in an unexpected manner.
"We are amongst the breakers," said Kennedy.
"All right, Dick. Don't be uneasy, ie shall fiot toudi
them," said the doctor.
"This is a first-rate way to travel, all the sami" saiid
The doctor managed his balloon with a wonderful
"If we had been obliged to go on foot over that marshy
ground," said the doctor, "we should have had to crawl
slowly along in a regular slimy morass. Since our departure
68 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
from Zanzibar, in that case, half our beasts of burthen would
have been now dead with fatigue. We should have been
looking like ghosts, and despair would have been gnawing
at our hearts. We should have had incessant disputes with
our guides and porters, and exposed to their attacks.
During the day we should have suffered from a damp
steamy air insupportable, and altogether enervating. At
night there is frequently an almost intolerable coldness in
the atmosphere, and the bites of a species of fly, which can
pierce the stoutest cloth, would drive us mad. All these
little enjoyments we should have had, without counting wild
beasts and ferocious people."
"I vote we don't try it," said Joe, simply.
"I am not exaggerating in the least," said the doctor,
"for at the recitals of travellers who have had the pluck to
venture into these latitudes, the tears would actually come
into your eyes."
About eleven o'clock they passed over the basin of the
Imeng6 ; the natives scattered about upon the hills vainly
threatened the "Victoria" with their weapons, and the
balloon soon arrived above the last spurs -of the high ground
which leads to the Rubeho, which forms the third chain, and
highest mountain of the ranges of Usagara.
The travellers took careful notes of the orographical
features of the country. The three ramifications, of which
the Duthumi forms the first line, are separated by vast
plains. The lofty ridges are rounded off at the summit,
and the ground is strewn with large blocks of stone at
intervals, amid the shingle. The steepest side of these
mountains is towards Zanzibar, the western declivity being
merely a gentle slope. The more level portions of the
plain are covered with a black and fertile soil, where vege-
tation is luxuriant. Numerous watercourses run towards
the east and flow into the Kingani in the neighbourhood of
gigantic clumps of sycamores, tamarinds, gourds, and palms.
Listen," said Doctor Ferguson. "We are now ap-
proaching the Rubeho mountains, whose name being trans-
lated, means 'Passage of Winds.' We shall do well to
cross the sharp peaks at a considerable altitude. If my
map be correct we must ascend to 5,000 feet."
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Shall we have to attain such an altitude frequently ?"
"No; very seldom. The height of the African moun-
tains appears to be relatively small compared to the Euro-
pean and Asian peaks. But, in any case, the 'Victoria'
will have no difficulty to overcome them."
In a short time the gas was dilated and the balloon
took a very decided upward course. The expansion of the
hydrogen had nothing dangerous in its character either,
for the vast balloon was not filled to more than three-
quarters its capacity. The barometer now, by a depression
of eight inches, showed they had attained an elevation of
"Shall we travel like this long?" asked Joe.
"The terrestrial atmosphere extends to a distance of
6,000 fathoms from the earth," replied the doctor. "With
a very large balloon we could go a great height. Messrs.
Brioschi and Gay-Lussac did so, but the blood gushed from
their ears and mouths. The air could not be breathed.
Some years ago two hardy Frenchmen, Banel and Bixio,
also made an expedition into the higher regions, but their
And they fell down?" demanded Kennedy anxiously.
"Certainly; but, as scientific men ought to fall, without
sustaining any injury."
"Well, gentlemen," said Joe, "you are quite at liberty
to begin your tumbling; but, for my part, as I am merely a
commonplace person, I prefer to remain in the happy
medium, neither too high nor too low. There is no use in
At 6,000 feet elevation the density of the air became
sensibly diminished, sounds were with difficulty transmitted,
and speaking was not distinctly heard. Views of objects
became confused, the vision could not distinguish anything
more than confused masses. Men and other animals be-
came absolutely invisible. The roads became threads, and
the lakes ponds.
The doctor and his companions were in a very abnormal
state. An atmospheric current of great violence carried
them over. the mountains, upon whose summits the large
70 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
snow-fields caused them some astonishment. The appear-
ance of these mountains betokened some convulsion of the
sea during the first ages of the world's existence.
The sun shone in the zenith, and his rays fell directly
upon these deserted summits. The doctor made an exact
plan of these mountains, which are formed of four distinct
elevations almost in a straight line, and of which the most
northern is the longest.
The "Victoria" soon descended on the farther side of
the Rubeho, and passed over a wooded region in which
trees of a peculiarly dark green were freely scattered. Then
came crests and ravines in a sort of desert, which approaches
the territory of Ugogo. Lower down they sailed over
yellow plains, scorched, fissured, and here and there
amongst the desolation appeared saline plants and thorny
bushes. Some coppices, not far removed from actual
forests, studded the horizon. The doctor now approached
the ground, the grapnels were cast out, and one of them
soon got fixed in the branches of an immense sycamore.
Joe, sliding quickly into the tree, fixed the grapnel with
great care. The doctor left his blow-pipe sufficiently active
to ensure a certain ascensional force in the balloon, which
would keep it upright. The wind had rather suddenly
Now," said Ferguson, "take a couple of gups, friend
Dick, for yourself and Joe, and see if you two cannot bring
back some prime slices of antelope for dinner."
Hurrah for the chase !" cried Kennedy.
They descended. Joe let himself slide from branch to
branch, as if he wished to dislocate his limbs. The doctor,
relieved of the weight of his companions, was enabled to
reduce his blow-pipe altogether.
"Don't you fly away, sir, please," cried Joe.
"Be quite easy, my lad; I am firmly fixed here. I am
about to put my notes in order. Good sport to you, and
be prudent. Meantime, from my post I shall keep a good
look-out, and at the least suspicious incident I will fire a
shot. That shall be the signal for return."
"All right," replied the sportsmen.
78 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
nearly 500 geographical miles. Captains Burton and Speke
took four months and a half to accomplish the same
Kazeh : the Market-Appearance of the "Victoria "-The Waganga-
The Sons of the Moon-The Doctor's Expedition-Population-
The Royal "Tembe "-The Sultan's Wives-A Royal Drunkard
-Joe worshipped-How they Dance in the Moon-Change-Two
Moons in the same Sky-Instability of quasi Divine Greatness.
KAZEH, an important place in Central Africa, is scarcely a
town properly so called; there is not a town in the interior,
and Kazeh is only a collection of six immense intrenched
camps. Within these are collected the houses and huts of
slaves with small courts and gardens, carefully cultivated
with onions, yams, melons, pumpkins, and mushrooms of a
perfect flavour are there grown to perfection.
Unyamwezy is the veritable Land of the Moon, the
fertile and beautiful park of Africa, in the centre of the
district of the Unyanemb6, a delightful country, where some
Omani families, who are Arabs of the purest blood, live in
idleness. These people have for a long time trafficked in
the interior of Africa and in Arabia; they deal in gum,
ivory, striped cloths, slaves; their caravans penetrate these
equatorial regions in all directions; they there seek upon
the coast objects of pleasure and luxury for the rich mer-
chants, and they, surrounded by wives and slaves, live in
this beautiful country and enjoy an existence the least
agitated and the most horizontal possible, always stretched
at full length, laughing, smoking, or sleeping.
Around the camps are numerous native huts, large spaces
for the market fields of cannabis and datuna, of lovely trees
and most refreshing shade. Such is Kazeh.
There is also the general rendezvous for the caravans,
those from the south with slaves and ivory, and from the
west, which bring cotton and glass-ware to the tribes around
the Great Lakes. Also in the market there is a continual
movement, a regular hubbub, in which the cries of the half-
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
bred porters mingle with the sound of drums and comets, the
whinnying of mules, the braying of donkeys, the songs of
women, the crying of children, and the blows of the rattan
of the jemidar, who beats the time in this pastoral symphony.
There are the wares exposed for sale without any kind
of order, even in a charming disorder. Showy stuffs,
coloured glass beads, ivory rhinoceros' teeth, sharks' teeth,
honey, tobacco, and cotton. There they carry on the most
strange bargains, where each object has no more value
except for the desires it excites.
Suddenly this hubbub and movement ceased, the noise
immediately subsided. The "Victoria" had appeared in
the sky, sailing along majestically and descending slowly
without losing its vertical position. Men, women, children,
slaves, merchants, Arabs, and negroes all disappeared and
glided away into the tembes and beneath the huts.
"My dear Samuel," said Kennedy, "if we continue to
produce such an effect as this we shall have some difficulty
to establish commercial relations with these people."
"There is, nevertheless, one very simple mercantile
transaction to be carried out," said Joe; that is, to quietly
descend and carry away the most valuable merchandise
without troubling the merchants. We should then get rich."
"You see," said the doctor, "that the natives have
only been terrified for the moment. They will not delay
to return, impelled either by superstition or curiosity."
"You think so, sir ?"
We shall soon see, but it will be prudent to keep at a
little distance. The 'Victoria' is neither an ironclad nor
armoured. There is no shelter from a bullet nor from an
Do you then intend to enter into conference with
these Africans, my dear Samuel?"
Perhaps so-why not? There ought to be in Kazeh
Arab merchants who are not ignorant men. I remember
that Messrs. Burton and Speke were much pleased with the
hospitality of this town. So we can try our luck."
The "Victoria" gradually approached the earth, and
made fast one of the grapnels to the top of a tree near the
80 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The entire population now turned out; heads were
cautiously advanced. Many "Waganga," easily recognisable
by their badges of shell-fish, advanced boldly. They were
the sorcerers of the place. They carried at the waist small
gourds rubbed over with grease, and many objects of magic
use of a dirtiness, nevertheless, quite professional. By
degrees the crowd advanced to the sorcerers, the women
and children surrounded them, the drummers rivalled each
other in din, hands were clasped and held up towards the
"That is their manner of praying," said Doctor Fer-
guson. If I am not in error, we shall be called upon to
undertake an important part."
Very well, sir," said Joe, play it."
Even you, my brave Joe, you may perhaps become a
"Well, sir, that won't worry me much, and the incense
will be rather agreeable than otherwise."
At this moment one of the sorcerers, a "Waganga,"
made a gesture, and the clamour sank into profound silence.
He addressed some words to the travellers, but in a tongue
unknown to them.
Doctor Ferguson, not understanding what was said,
replied at hazard in a few words of Arabic, and was
immediately answered in that language.
The orator then delivered a flowing speech, very flowery
and very distinct. The doctor had no difficulty in per-
ceiving that the "Victoria" was actually taken for the moon
in person, and that this amiable goddess had deigned to
approach the town with her three sons, an honour which
would never be forgotten in that country-beloved by the
The doctor replied, with great dignity, that the moon
made every thousand years a departmental tour, feeling its
necessity of showing herself to her worshippers.' He then
prayed them not to take advantage of and abuse her divine
presence by making known their wants and vows.
The sorcerer replied that the sultan, the Mwani," had
been ill for many years, had asked the assistance of Heaven,
and he now bege~e the sons of the moon to come to him.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The doctor imparted the invitation to his companions.
"And will you go to that nigger king?" said the
Certainly. These people appear to me to be well dis-
posed, the day is calm, there is scarcely a breath of wind.
We have nothing to fear for the "Victoria."
"But what will you do ? "
"Be quiet, my dear Dick; with a little medicine I will
manage to get out of it."
Then addressing the crowd he said:
"The moon, taking pity upon the sovereign, so dear to
the people of Unyamwezy, has confided his recovery to our
hands. Let him prepare to receive us."
The cries, shouts, and gesticulations were redoubled, and
the entire vast ant-hill" of black heads was in motion.
"Now, my friends," said Doctor Ferguson, it will be
necessary to be ready for anything; we may be obliged to
retreat at any moment. Dick shall remain in the car, and
by means of the blow-pipe, keep up a sufficient ascensional
power. The grapnel is firmly fixed, so there is no danger on
that score. I will get down, Joe will also get out, but will
remain at the foot of the ladder."
"What, are you going alone to this blackamoor's
house ?" asked Kennedy. .
"Why, Mr. Samuel, don't you wish me to accompany
you through this ?" said Joe.
"No, I shall go alone: these people imagine that the
moon has come to pay them a visit. I am protected by
their superstition, so have no fear, and let each one remain
at his post as I have arranged."
"Since you wish it," said the Scot, "it shall be so."
Mind you attend to the expansion of the gas."
The cries of the natives again increased, they demanded
the intervention of heaven very energetically indeed.
Do you hear?" cried Joe. "I think they are a little too
dictatorial to their beautiful moon and her sons."
The doctor, supplied with his medicine-chest, came out
of the balloon, preceded by Joe, and descended. The
latter was as grave and dignified as was in his nature to be.
82 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
He sat down at the foot of the ladder, and crossed his legs.
Arab-fashion-a portion of the crowd surrounded him at a
Meantime, Doctor Ferguson, preceded by musicians, and
escorted by religious dancers, advanced slowly towards the
royal tembe," situated some distance from the town. It
was now about three o'clock, and the sun was shining hotly
-he could not do less under the circumstances.
The doctor advanced with dignity; the Waganga sur-
rounded him, and kept back the crowd. Ferguson was
soon joined by the natural son of the sultan, a well-made
young fellow, who, following the custom of the country,
was the sole inheritor of the parent's goods and possessions,
to the exclusion of legitimate children. He prostrated him-
self before the son of the moon, who raised him with a
Three-quarters of an hour afterwards, through shady
paths in the midst of a luxuriant tropical vegetation, the
enthusiastic procession arrived at the palace of the sultan,
a kind of square house, called Ititenya, and situated upon
the slope of a hill. A species of verandah, made by the
straw roof, covered the exterior, and was supported by
wooden posts, with some pretension to carving displayed
upon them. Long streaks of reddish clay ornamented the
walls, attempts to depict men and snakes, the latter being
naturally more successful than the former. The roof of this
habitation did not rest directly upon the walls, so the air
could circulate freely, though there were no windows and
scarcely a door.
Doctor Ferguson was received with great honours by the
guards and favourites, men of a handsome race, the Wan-
yamwezi, a pure type of the population of Central Africa,
strong and healthy, well made, and erect in their bearing.
Their hair, divided into a quantity of small curls, fell down
upon their shoulders; and by means ofincisionscoloured black
or blue, they tattooed their cheeks from the temples to the
mouth. Their ears, very much distended, were ornamented
with discs of wood and gum copal; they were clothed with
emeu, brilliantly coloured; the soldiers, well armed with
bows and arrows-the latter poisoned and barbed-with
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 83
cutlasses and "simes," a long saw-toothed sword, and
The doctor entered the palace. There, in describing
the sultan's symptoms, the hubbub, already great, was re-
doubled. The doctor remarked on the' lintel of the door
that tails of hares and zebras' manes were suspended as
talismans. He was received by a troop of Her Majesty's
ladies to the harmonious accompaniment of the "upatu," a
kind of cymbal constructed from the bottom of copper pots,
and of the kilindo," a drum about five feet high, hollowed
out from the trunk of a tree, and which is played by two
performers, hammering it as hard as possible with their fists.
The greater number of the women appeared very pretty,
and laughingly smoked tobacco and "thang" in large black
pipes. They appeared to be well formed, so far as the long
and graceful robe permitted their figures to be seen, and
wore a kind of kilt of calabash fibres fastened round their
Six of them, though destined to be sacrificed, were by no
means the least gay of the assembly. At the death of the
sultan they were to be buried alive with him, so as to keep
him company in his otherwise somewhat distressing solitude.
Doctor Ferguson, having taken all this in at a glance,
advanced towards the monarch's couch. There he saw a man
of about forty, perfectly brutalised by dissipation of all kinds,
and for whom he could do nothing. His malady, which
had lasted some years, was nothing but constant intoxication.
This royal drunkard had by degrees lost consciousness, and
all the ammonia in the world could not cure him.
The favourites and the women, bending their knees,
bowed themselves down during this solemn visit. By means
of a few drops of a strong cordial, the doctor for a moment
animated the stupefied body. The sultan moved, and for
a corpse which had given no sign of existence for hours, to
move at all was hailed with acclamations in honour of the
He, who had had enough of it, put his would-be worship-
pers aside by a rapid movement, and quitted the palace.
He made towards the Victoria," for it was now six o'clock.
Joe, during his master's absence, waited patiently at the
84 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
foot of the ladder, the crowd paying him the greatest
attention. As a true son of the moon he accepted the
position. For a god he had the appearance of a brave man
enough, not at all proud, even with young African ladies,
who never ceased to stare at him. He also conversed
amicably with them.
"Keep worshipping, ladies, keep it up," he said. I
am a pretty good sort of devil, although the son of a
They offered him propitiatory gifts, usually placed in the
"mzimu" or fetish-houses. These consisted of barley and
"pembe." Joe felt himself constrained to taste this species
of strong beer, but his palate, though not unaccustomed to
gin or whisky, could not stand that. He made a fearful
grimace, which the audience took for an amiable smile.
Then the young girls, setting up a slow sort of chanting,
executed a solemn dance round him.
"Ah! you dance, do you? Very well, I will not be
behind-hand with you, and will show you a dance of my
He then began a most extraordinary kind of jig, turning
over, throwing himself about in all directions, dancing on
his feet, on his knees, on his hands, and twisting himself in
the most extraordinary contortions and incredible positions,
accompanied by the most horrible grimaces, thus giving the
people a strange notion of the manner in which the gods
dance in the moon.
Now all Africans are as imitative as apes, and very
quickly did his audience reproduce his behaviour, gambols,
and contortions; they did not lose a gesture, they did not
forget an attitude; the result being a hubbub and commo-
tion of which it is difficult to give the least idea. In the
midst of all this festivity Joe perceived the doctor.
He was approaching hastily in the centre of a yelling
and disordered crowd. The sorcerers and priests appeared
to be the most excited. They surrounded and pressed upon
the doctor with threatening gestures. What a strange alter-
ation. What had happened ? Had the sultan unfortunately
died under the celestial doctor's hands?
Kennedy, from his position, perceived the danger without
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 85
comprehending the cause. The balloon, pulling strongly,
was stretching the rope that held it as if impatient to rise
into the air.
The doctor came to the foot of the ladder. A super-
stitious fear still kept back the crowd and prevented their
using violence; he rapidly ascended and Joe quickly
"There is not an instant to lose," said his master.
"Never mind detaching the grapnel. We must cut the
cord. Follow me."
"What is it ?" said Joe, ascending.
"What has happened?" cried Kennedy, carbine in hand.
Look there !" replied the doctor, pointing towards the
Well ?" asked the Scot.
Well it's the moon /"
In fact the moon, red and glorious as a globe of fire
upon an azure background, was then rising-she and the
Either, therefore, there were two moons, or the strangers
were nothing but impostors and false gods. Such were the
natural thoughts of the crowd. Hence the change.
Joe could not help laughing heartily. The people of
Kazeh, beginning to understand that their prey would escape,
gave vent to prolonged howls, and bows and guns were
directed towards the balloon. But at a sign from one of the
sorcerers the weapons were lowered, he jumped into the
tree with the intention to seize the rope of the grapnel and
bring the balloon to the ground.
Joe leaned over with a hatchet in his hand.
"Shall I cut it ?" he asked.
"Wait a little," said the doctor.
"But that nigger-"
"We may perhaps save our grapnel, and I think so. We
can cut it at any time."
The sorcerer, having gained the tree, went to work so
vigorously in the branches that he detached the grapnel,
which, being violently dragged by the balloon, caught the
sorcerer between the legs, and so he, astride on this unex-
pected steed, set out for the region of the sky.
86 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The crowd were stupefied to perceive one of their
Waganga launched into space.
Hurrah I" cried Joe, as the "Victoria" mounted very
He holds tight," said Kennedy; a little journey will
do him good."
"Shall we let him go altogether ?" suggested Joe.
"For shame!" replied the doctor. "We will put him
gently down presently, and I believe that after such an
adventure his magical power will be singularly increased in
his companions' estimation."
I daresay they will make a god of him," said Joe.
The "Victoria" had.now arrived at an elevation of
about I,ooo feet. The negro held on to the cord with
tremendous energy. He was quite silent, and his eyes
were fixed. His terror mastered his astonishment com-
pletely. A light breeze carried the balloon below the
Half an hour later, the doctor, seeing the coast was
clear, moderated the blow-pipe and approached the earth.
At twenty feet from the ground the sorcerer took courage
and dropped, fell upon his feet, and ran towards Kazeh at
the top of his speed, while the "Victoria" once more
ascended into the air.
Symptoms of a Storm-The Country of the Moon-The Future of Africa
-The last Machine of all-View of the Country at Sunset-Flora
and Fauna-The Storm-The Fiery Zone-Starlight.
"THERE!" cried Joe, "that comes of being sons of the
moon without leave. That satellite was very nearly playing
us a shabby trick. Do you think, now, sir, that you in any
way compromised her reputation by your medicine ?"
"By-the-by," said the Scot, "who is this sultan of
"An old, half-dead drunkard, whose loss will not be
very much felt; but the moral of the thing is this: that
honours are ephemeral, and we ought only to taste them."
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
"So much the worse," said Joe; "that was my case.
To be adored, to play the god at one's pleasure, when, all
of a sudden, the moon rises with a very red face to show
she does not approve of it."
During this conversation, and subsequently, while Joe
was examining the evening star from an entirely new point
of view, the sky towards the north was covering itself with
heavy clouds-with heavy and threatening clouds too. A
pretty brisk breeze had sprung up at 300 feet from the
ground, and was impelling the Victoria towards the north-
Overhead the sky was clear, but the air felt heavy.
The travellers found themselves about eight o'clock in-
320 40' longitude, and latitude 40 17'; the atmospheric cur-
rents, under the influence of an approaching storm, hurried
them forward at the rate of thirty-five miles an hour.
The fertile and undulating plains of Mfuto passed rapidly
beneath. The view was worthy of admiration, and was duly
"We are now regularly in the country of the moon,"
said Doctor Ferguson, "for it has retained this name,
which was anciently bestowed upon it, doubtless, because
the moon has been always worshipped here. It is indeed
a magnificent district, and it would be difficult to find a
more beautiful vegetation."
That sort of thing would not be natural near London,"
said Joe, but it would be very pleasant. Why are all those
lovely things reserved for these barbarous countries ?"
"How do you know that some day this country will not
have become the centre of civilisation ? The people of the
future ages may come here when the countries of Europe
can no longer support their inhabitants."
Do you believe that?" asked Kennedy.
"Certainly, my dear Dick. Look at the march of events,
consider the successive emigrations of the human race, and
you will arrive at the same conclusion as I have. Is it not
true that Asia was the first nurse of the world? For
4,000 years, perhaps, she was fruitful and bore her children,
and then when stones appear where the golden crops
of Homer appeared, her children leave her dry and withered
88 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
bosom. They then are seen invading Europe, young and
strong, which nourishes them for 2,000 years. But she
is already losing her fertility, her producing qualities are
diminishing every day; these new evils each year which
attack the produce of the soil, the deceptive harvests, the
insufficient supplies, all are undoubted signs of decreasing
vitality, of approaching weakness. Also, you can already
perceive that people are throwing themselves upon the
richer bosom of America, not.indeed inexhaustible, but still
inexhausted. In its turn, this newer Continent will become
old. Its virgin forests will fall under the axe of industry,
its soil will be enervated, because it had produced too much,
as too much was demanded of it.
There, where two crops would grow every year, scarcely
one will come to the sickle. Then Africa will offer to new
generations the accumulated treasures of centuries. The
fatality of the climate to strangers will yield to the purifying
influence of distribution of crops and drainage : the scat-
tered streams will be united in one navigable river; and
this district, over which we are passing, more fertile, richer,
quicker producing than the others, will become some great
kingdom, where discoveries will be made even more won-
derful than steam and the electric telegraph."
Ah, sir," said Joe, I should like to see all that."
"You were born a trifle too soon, my lad," said the
After all, that will be perhaps a more tiresome period
than that in which industry will absorb all to its profit. In
consequence of inventing machines, men will be devoured
by them. I am always picturing to myself that the last day
of the world will be when some immense boiler, heated up
to three thousand millions of atmospheres, will blow our
globe into space."
"And I daresay the Americans will not be the last to
work at the machine," said Joe. In fact, those people are
wonderful tinkers; but, without letting ourselves be carried
away by such discussions, let us admire the Land of the
Moon,' since we are in a position to see it."
The sun was pouring his last rays beneath the
heaped-up masses of cloud, and was gilding the small eleva-
FI '7E WEEKS IV A BALLOO\,V
tions with a golden crest. The huge trees, arborescent
herbs, the cut corn, all had a share of the luminous rays.
The earth, gently undulating, rose here and there into little
conical hills. There were no mountains to break the
horizon. Immense brambly palisades, impassable hedges,
thorny jungles separated the cleared spaces in which
numerous villages were spread out. The gigantic euphorbia
surrounded them with natural fortifications, entwining them-
selves with the coral-like branches of the shrubs.
They soon came in sight of the Malagazari, the principal
tributary of Lake Tanganayika, which wound round the
verdant masses of vegetation. Into this river ran numerous
watercourses, born of the torrents overflowed during the
great rising of the waters, or from ponds hollowed out in the
clayey soil. It appeared to the observers, elevated as they
were, that a regular network of cascades was flowing over
the face of the country.
Immense beasts with humps were feeding in the prairies,
and occasionally disappeared altogether in the long grass;
the forests, of a wonderful species of trees, appeared like
enormous bouquets, but in these bouquets, lions, leopards,
hyaenas, and tigers took refuge from the declining heat of the
day. Sometimes an elephant made the coppices shake, and
they distinctly heard the crashing of the trees which gave
way before his tusks.
What a hunting country !" exclaimed Kennedy, enthu-
siastically; a bullet sent in there at hazard, right into the
forest, would meet with game worthy of it. Can we not
have a try at it ?"
No, no, my dear Dick; night is upon us, and a rather
'nasty' night too, bringing a storm up with it. Storms in
this country are no joke, I can tell you, where the earth
plays the part of an immense electric battery."
"You are right, sir," said Joe; "the heat is becoming
stifling, the breeze has quite died away, and one feels that
something is going to happen."
The atmosphere is surcharged with electricity," replied
the doctor; "every living thing is aware of the state of the
air which precedes a conflict of the elements; but I confess I
never have been impregnated with it at such a height myself."
90 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
"Well," said the Scot, "should we not rather de.
On the contrary, Dick, I would rather go higher up
I fear only to be hurried out of my course during the cross
Do you wish, then, to abandon our route towards the
"If possible," replied Ferguson, I will go more
directly towards the north for seven or eight degrees. I
will endeavour to go up towards the supposed latitude of the
sources of the Nile. Perhaps we shall discover some traces
of Captain Speke's expedition, or even the caravan of M. da
Heuglin. If my calculations be correct, we are in 320 40"
longitude, and I should like to go up beyond the equator."
"Look here," cried Kennedy, interrupting, "look at
those hippopotami swimming about the pools-what masses
of flesh they are-and see the crocodiles gasping in their
attempts to breathe."
"They are choking," said Joe. "Ah I what a splendid
way this is to travel, and how we can despise all those hor-
rible vermin. Mr. Samuel, Mr. Kennedy-look at those
bands of animals marching closely together. There must be
200 of them, at least; they are wolves."
No, Joe, but wild dogs; a famous breed, which have
no scruple in attacking lions. To meet such a pack is the
most fearful experience a traveller can undergo. He would
be immediately torn in pieces."
"Well, it will not be Joseph who will endeavour to
muzzle them," replied that pleasant youth; "after all, it is
their nature, and one needi't see much of them."
All this time a dread silence was falling around little by
little, under the influence of the approaching storm. It
seemed as if the heavy air had become incapable of trans-
mitting sounds; the atmosphere appeared thickened, and,
like a room hung with tapestry, lost all sonorousness. The
pigeons, the crested crane, the red and blue jays, the mock-
ing birds, the moucherolles, hid themselves in the leafy
trees. All nature betrayed the symptoms of an approaching
convulsion. At nine o'clock in the evening, the Victoria "
was hanging motionless above Msin6, a large collection of
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 9g
villages scarcely distinguishable in the gloom. Sometimes
the reflection of stray beams of light in the dark water indi-
cated the regularly placed ditches, and, by an opening in
the clouds, they could descry the dark forms of palms, tama-
rinds, sycamores, and the gigantic euphorbia.
I am stifled," said the Scot, taking a full breath.
"We are not moving any longer. Shall we descend ?"
"But how about the storm?" said the doctor, who was
not very comfortable.
If you are afraid of being carried away by the wind, it
seems to me you can do nothing else."
"The storm may not burst to-night," replied Joe; "the
clouds are very high."
That is the very reason I am hesitating to pass them;
we should have to go so very high up, and lose-sight of the
earth, and would not know all night whether we were
making any 'way,' or, if so, in what direction we were
Well, make up your mind, my dear Samuel; time
It is very annoying that the wind has dropped," said
Joe; it might have carried us out of reach of the storm."
That is certainly to be regretted, my friends, as the
clouds are very dangerous; they contain opposing currents,
which may enclose us in their whirlwinds, and the lightning
may set us on fire. On the other, hand the force of the
squall might precipitate us to the ground if we made fast
the grapnel to the top of a tree."
Then what is to be done ?"
We must keep the Victoria in a middle zone between
the earth and the perils of the sky. We have a sufficient
quantity of water for the blow-pipe, and our 200 lbs. of
ballast is intact. At a pinch I can make use of it without
"We are going to sit up with you," said the Scot.
"No, my friends ; put the provisions in the tent and go
to bed. I will call you if necessary."
But, sir, why will you not take some rest yourself, since
nothing threatens us yet ?"
"No, thank you, my lad, I would rather watch. We
92 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
are motionless, and if circumstances do not change we shall
find ourselves in the same place to-morrow."
"Good night, sir."
"Good night, if that be possible."
Kennedy and Joe then lay down, and the doctor re-
mained by himself-alone in space. Nevertheless, the
clouds insensibly descended and the darkness became
The black arch of heaven spread across the terrestrial
globe as if about to overwhelm it.
Suddenly a vivid flash .lit up the gloom; the opening in
the cloud had scarcely closed when a terrific peal of thunder
shook the depths of the sky.
"Get up, get up !" cried Ferguson. The two sleepers,
roused by the appalling thunder-crash, held themselves in
readiness to execute his orders.
Are you going down ? asked Kennedy.
"No; the balloon would never hold out there. Let us
ascend before the rain comes and the wind gets up." And
he rapidly urged the flame of the blow-pipe.
Tropical storms are developed with a rapidity propor-
tionate to their violence. A second flash broke the cloud,
and was immediately followed by twenty others. The sky
was radiant with electric sparks, which shrivelled up under
the heavy drops of rain.
"We have delayed too long," said the doctor. "We
must now pass through a belt of fire with our balloon filled
with inflammable air."
"But the ground, the ground I" repeated Kennedy.
"The risk of being struck would be almost the same, and
we should be quickly knocked to pieces against the branches
of trees," said the doctor.
"We are ascending, Mr. Samuel."
In this part of Africa, during the equinoctial gales, it is
not an uncommon experience to count thirty to thirty-five
flashes of lightning per minute. The sky is literally on fire,
and the thunder is continuous.
The wind rages with terrific violence in this fiery atmo-
sphere, it twists and tears the clouds, and it has been com-
ZIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 93
pared to the blowing of an immense bellows which keeps all
this fire in activity.
Doctor Ferguson maintained his blow-pipe at full pres-
sure; the balloon expanded and ascended. On his knees
in the centre of the car Kennedy kept hold of the curtains
of the tent. The balloon gyrated enough to give the
travellers vertigo, and they suffered from the uneven oscilla-
tions. Large holes were torn in the outer covering of the
balloon, and the wind roared in and out these with violence,
the taffetas cracked under the pressure.
A sort of hail, preceded by a rushing sound, hissed
through the air and crackled upon the "Victoria." It
nevertheless continued to ascend; the lightning described
flaming tangents from its circumference; it was in the very
heart of the storm.
"God preserve us!" said Ferguson, "we are in His
hands. He alone can save us. Let us be prepared for
any event, even for fire ; our fall cannot be very rapid."
The doctor's voice was scarcely heard by his com-
panions, but they could see him standing unmoved in the
midst of the flashing lightning; and he kept looking at
the "corpse-light" that flickered upon the network of the
The balloon itself swayed and rolled, but kept ascend-
ing; at the end of fifteen minutes it had passed the line of
storm-cloud. The electric discharges were now beneath
it like an immense crown of artificial fire hanging from the
This was one of the most beautiful sights that nature
could present to man. Below the storm raged. Above was
the starry, quiet, and silent Heaven, with the moon throwing
her peaceful rays upon the angry clouds.
Doctor Ferguson looked at the barometer : it indicated
12,000 feet elevation. The time was eleven o'clock.
Thank Heaven the danger is over," said he; we have
now only to remain here as we are."
"It was awful," said Kennedy.
Yes," replied Joe, that gives a little change to our
journey, and I am not sorry to have seen a storm from such
a height. It was a magnificent sight indeed."
94 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The Mountains of the Moon-An Ocean of Verdure-The Anchor
cast out-The Elephant harnessed-A Quick Volley-Death of
the Elephant-The Field Oven-Dinner on the Grass-Night on
ABOUT six o'clock in the morning (Sunday) the sun rose
above the horizon, the clouds dispersed, and a pleasant
breeze tempered the first rays of the morning light.
The sweetly-refreshed earth again became visible to the
travellers. The balloon, having been turning round in the
midst of opposing currents, had scarcely drifted at all, and
the doctor, permitting the gas to contract, descended at
length to strike a more northerly direction. For a long
time his search was vain, the breeze carried him to the
west, even within sight of the celebrated Mountains of the
Moon, which rise up in a semicircle round the end of Lake
Tanganayika. Their chain, but little broken, stood out
against the bluish horizon-a natural fortification, as it were,
impassable to explorers of the centre of Africa; some of the
peaks bore traces of eternal snow.
"We are now in an unexplored country," said the
doctor; Captains Burton and Speke advanced far into the
west, but they were not able to reach these celebrated
mountains. Burton even denied their existence as affirmed
by his companion; he pretended that they only existed in
the imagination of the latter. For us, my friends, no doubt
Shall we pass over them ? asked Kennedy.
"I hope not. I expect to find a favourable wind to
bring me back to the equator. I will wait for it even, if
necessary, and treat the 'Victoria' like a ship that casts
anchor when the wind is contrary."
The prognostications of the doctor were soon realized.
After having tried different elevations, the Victoria sailed
away to the north-east at a moderate speed.
"We are in the right direction," said he, consulting the
barometer as he spoke, "and scarcely 200 feet from the
ground; the circumstances are most favourable to explore
these unknown regions. Captain Speke, when proceeding
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 95
to discover Lake Ukereone, went up more to the east in a
straight line above Kazeh."
"Shall we go long in this direction ? asked Kennedy.
"Perhaps. Our aim is to strike a point near the sources
of the Nile, and we have more than 600 miles to traverse to
the extreme limit reached by the explorers from the north."
"And shall we not put our feet on the ground in order
to stretch our legs ? said Joe.
Yes, certainly. We must also be sparing of our larder,
and on the way you will be able to provide us with fresh
"As soon as ever you like, friend Samuel."
"We shall also have to replenish our supply of water.
Who knows we may not be borne away towards barren
districts? We must therefore take precautions."
At mid-day the "Victoria" was in 290 15' long. and
30 15' lat. It passed over the village of Uyofu, the northern
boundary of Unyamwezi, abreast of the Lake Ukereone,
which they had not hitherto been able to perceive.
The tribes near the equator appeared to be a little more
civilised, and are governed by absolute monarchs, whose
despotism is unlimited. Their very close union constitutes
the province of Karaywah.
The three travellers decided that they would descend at
the first favourable landing-place. They proposed to make
a lengthy halt, and the balloon was to be carefully examined ;
so the flame of the blow-pipe was moderated. The grapnels,
thrown from the car, soon came in contact with the high
grass of an immense prairie; at a little distance it ap-
peared to be covered with close verdure, but in reality the
grass was seven or eight feet Jfigh.
The Victoria" skimmed over the grass without bend-
ing it, like an immense butterfly. Nothing was in sight; it
was like an ocean of verdure without a single wave.
We may go a long time like this," said Kennedy. I
do not perceive a tree to which we can fasten ourselves. It
appears to me that the chase must be given up."
"Wait, my dear Dick; you never could hunt in grass
higher than yourself. We shall find a favourable place
96 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
It was, indeed, a charming excursion-a veritable naviga-
tion upon this sea-so beautifully green, almost transparent
-undulating softly at the breathing of the wind. The boat
now justified its name, and appeared to cleave the waves,
except when a flight of birds with splendid plumage escaped
sometimes from the high grass, and with a thousand joyous
cries broke the illusion. The grapnels plunged into this lake
of flowers and formed a furrow which immediately closed
behind them like the wake of a vessel.
All at once the balloon experienced a great shock; the
grapnel had no doubt been caught in the fissure of a rock
concealed beneath the gigantic grass.
"We have caught," said Joe.
"All right, throw out the ladder," said Kennedy.
These words had scarcely been uttered, when a sharp
cry resounded through the air, and was thus commented
upon by the travellers:
"What's that ?" said one.
"A most singular cry !"
"Hollo we are moving."
"The anchor has detached."
"No, it is all right," said Joe, who was hauling at the
rope. It is the rock that moves."
A great disturbance was now perceived in the grass,
and soon a long and sinuous form raised itself over them.
"A serpent I" cried Joe.
"A serpent !" said Kennedy, snatching up a carbine.
"No," said the doctor, "it is the trunk of an elephant."
"An elephant, Samuel ?" and Kennedy, as he spoke,
brought the gun to his shoulder.
"Wait, Dick, wait."
"Without doubt, the animal will pull us along."
"And in the right direction, Joe."
The elephant advanced with some rapidity, and soon
arrived at an open space, where they had an uninterrupted
view of him. In his enormous bulk, the doctor recognized
the male of a magnificent species; he had two beautiful
tusks, with a most graceful curve, -which appeared about
eight feet long-the flukes of the grapnel were firmly fas-
tened between them.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. 97
The animal tried in vain with his trunk to loose the cord
that bound him to the car.
Go ahead cheerily !" cried Joe delighted, and doing his
best to urge on this strange turn-out. "Here is quite a new
way of travelling. Talk of a horse, indeed An elephant,
if you please."
But where will he lead us to ? asked Kennedy, shift-
ing his gun from hand to hand.
He will take us wherever he likes, my dear Dick; have
a little patience."
Wig a more wig a more! as the Scotch peasants say,"
cried the delighted Joe. "Go on, go on."
The animal broke into a rapid gallop, he flung his trunk
from right to left, and in his boundings he gave some violent
shocks to the car. The doctor, axe in hand, was ready to
cut the rope if occasion demanded.
But," said he, we will not give up our anchor till the
This race at the tail of an elephant lasted nearly an
hour and a half. The animal did not appear in any way
fatigued. These enormous quadrupeds can keep up a trot
for a considerable time, and day after day they accomplish
immense distances, like the whales, whose size and speed
I believe it is a whale we have harpooned," said Joe,
"and we are only imitating the manceuvres of the whalers
But a change in the nature of the ground obliged the
doctor to modify his mode of progression.
A thick wood appeared towards the north of the prairie,
about three miles distant; it then became absolutely neces-
sary that the balloon should be separated from its con-
So Kennedy was assigned the duty of stopping the
elephant. He shouldered his carbine, but his position was
not-favourable to strike the animal successfully. The first
ball fired at the skull was flattened as if against an iron
plate. The elephant did not appear the least incon-
venienced. At the sound of the discharge he accelerated his
pace, and his speed was now that of a horse at full gallop.
98 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
"The devil!" exclaimed Kennedy.
"What a hard head he must have," said Joe.
"We must try a conical bullet in the shoulders," said
Dick, loading his gun with great care. He fired. The
elephant uttered a fearful scream, but still went on
"Look here," said Joe, taking up one of the rifles, "I
must help you, Mr. Dick, or we shall never get to the end
And two bullets were quickly lodged in the flank of the
animal. He stopped, raised his trunk high in the air, and
then continued his rapid course towards the wood. He
kept shaking his enormous head, and blood began to flow
from his wounds.
Let us keep firing, Mr. Dick," said Joe.
Yes, and well-sustained fire, too," said the doctor; "we
are only a few yards from the wood."
Ten shots were rapidly fired; the elephant made a terrific
bound; the car and the balloon cracked as if they were
coming to pieces. The shock caused the doctor to drop
the axe to the ground.
Their situation was critical. The rope of the grapnel
was fastened so tightly that it could not be detached, nor
could it be cut by the knives the travellers possessed. The
balloon was rapidly nearing the wood when the elephant
received a bullet in the eye at the moment he raised his
head. He stopped, appeared to hesitate for a moment,
then his knees bent beneath him, and he exposed his flank
to the assailants.
"Now for a bullet in his heart," cried Kennedy, as he
discharged his carbine for the last time.
The elephant uttered a roar of agony and distress, half-
raised himself for an instant as he waved his trunk to and
fro, and then fell with all his immense weight upon one of
his tusks, which was broken short off. He was dead.
His tusk is broken," cried Kennedy. "That ivory
would fetch thirty-five guineas the hundredweight in Eng-
"So much for that," said Joe, as he lowered himself to
the ground by the grapnel-rope.
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
"Why these regrets, my dear Dick?" replied the doctor.
"We are not ivory merchants, and we have not come here
to make our fortunes, have we ?"
Joe inspected the grapnel. It was still firmly fastened
to the remaining tusk. Samuel and Dick got down on the
ground while the half-inflated balloon hovered above the
carcase of the elephant.
"What a splendid beast," cried Kennedy. "What an
enormous mass he is. I have never, even in India, seen
such a fine fellow."
"That is not so surprising, my dear Dick. The ele-
phants of Central Africa are the biggest naturally. They
have been hunted so much in the neighbourhood of the
Cape by the Andersons and the Cummings, that they have
migrated towards the equator, where we shall frequently
meet them in large numbers."
In the meantime," said Joe, I hope we shall have a
taste of this fellow. I will pledge myself to provide you a
savoury meal at this gentleman's expense. Mr. Kennedy
can go hunting for an hour or two; Mr. Samuel can inspect
and overhaul the 'Victoria,' and I will play the cook."
"That is well arranged," replied the doctor. "So each
to his occupation."
Well, I shall take the two hours' liberty that Joe has
been so kind as to give me," said Kennedy.
By all means, my friend, but don't be rash. Do not
go too far."
You may be easy on that score," said Dick ; and, armed
with his rifle, he plunged into the wood.
Then Joe set about his avocations. First, he made a
.hole in the ground about two feet deep, which he filled with
the dead branches of trees which strewed the ground in
consequence of the passages forced through the woods by
the elephants, traces of which were clearly seen. The hole
filled up, he thrust in at the top a log about two feet long,
and set fire to it.
He then turned to the elephant, which had fallen only
about fifty yards from the wood, and dexterously cut off the
trunk, which measured nearly two feet wide at the head.
He chose the most delicate portions, and added one of the
1oo FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
sponge-like feet. These are considered the tid-bits of the
animal, as is the buffalo-hump, the paws of the bear, or the
When the log was completely consumed inside and out-
side, the hole, emptied of the cinders and ashes, was very
hot, so the pieces of the elephant's flesh, wrapped in aro-
matic leaves, were laid at the bottom of this improvised
furnace, and covered with the hot embers. Then Joe
placed a second log over all, and when the wood was burned
out, the meat was done to a turn.
Then Joe took the dinner from the oven, placed it upon
green leaves, and laid the repast in the centre of a meadow-
like space. He brought the biscuits, brandy, and coffee,
and fetched some fresh and sparkling water from a neigh-
The feast thus sent up was pleasant to behold, and
Joe, without vanity, thought that it would be very good to
Here," he said to himself, "here is a journey without
danger, meals when you choose, and sleep when you like :
what can a man want more ? And that good Mr. Kennedy
did not want to come !"
Doctor Ferguson, for his part, was devoting himself to a
thorough examination of his balloon. It did not appear to
have suffered by the storm, the taffetas and gutta-percha had
resisted wonderfully. Taking the actual distance from the
ground, and calculating the ascensional force of the balloon,
he perceived with satisfaction that the hydrogen was still in
the same volume. The envelope up to this time had
It was only five days since the travellers had quitted
Zanzibar, the pemmican had not been cut, the store of
biscuit and preserved meat was sufficient for a long period,
and they had only to renew their reserve of water.
The tubes and the coil appeared to be in perfect
order; thanks to their india-rubber joints, they yielded to
all the oscillations of the balloon.
Having finished his inspection, the doctor put his notes
in order. He made a most successful sketch of the sur-
rounding country, with the immense prairie as far as the
FIVE WEEKS VI A BALLOON.
eye could reach, the forest, and the balloon standing
motionless over the body of the enormous elephant.
At the end of the two hours Kennedy returned with a
string of partridges and a haunch of venison cut from the
oryx-a sort of gemsbok, the most agile species of ante-
lopes. Joe took upon himself to prepare this addition to
Dinner is ready !" he soon cried, in his cheery voice.
And the three travellers had only to seat themselves upon
the verdant meadow. The feet and trunk of the elephant
were pronounced exquisite. They drank to "Old Eng-
land," as usual, and some delicious havannas perfumed the
air of this beautiful region for the first time.
Kennedy ate, drank, and talked enough for four. He
was intoxicated with the surroundings. He seriously pro-
posed to the doctor to remain in that forest, and to con-
struct a leafy cabin, and begin a sort of African Robinson
This proposition was not otherwise followed up, although
Joe promised himself to take the part of Friday."
The country appeared so quiet, so deserted, that the
Doctor determined to pass the night on the ground. Joe
made a circle of fire, an indispensable barricade against
wild beasts. Hyenas, cougars, and jackals, attracted by
the scent of the elephant's carcase, came prowling around.
Kennedy occasionally sent a shot after the most pressing of
these visitors, but the night passed without any unpleasant
The Karagwah-Lake Ukereon--A Night on an Island-The
Equator-Crossing the Lake-The Waterfalls-View of the
Country-The Sources of the Nile-Isle Benga-Signature of
Andrea Debono-The Royal Standard of England.
NEXT morning, at five o'clock, they prepared to depart.
Joe, with the axe which he had fortunately recovered, cut
off the elephant's tusks. The "Victoria," restored to
liberty, carried our travellers to the north-east at a speed of
eighteen miles an hour.
102 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The doctor had carefully ascertained his position by
the altitude of the stars during the night. He made it
20 4' latitude below the equator, or say 160 geographical
miles distant from it. They now passed over several
villages without noticing the cries their appearance pro-
voked. He took notes of the form of the locality with
rapid sketches. He crossed over the slopes of the Rubemh6,
almost as steep as the summits of the Ousagara, and later
on reached the Tenga, the first spurs of the Karagwah
chain, which, according to him, are the commencement of
the Mountains of the Moon. Now the old legend, which
states that these hills are the cradle of the Nile, appears to
be not far from the truth, inasmuch as they border upon
Lake Uk&r6on6, the supposed reservoir for the waters of
the big river.
From Kafuero, a large district of the native merchants,
he perceived at length on the horizon the long-sought lake
which Captain Speke got a glimpse of on the 3rd August,
Samuel Ferguson was moved. He had almost arrived
at one of the principal points of his expedition, and, tele-
scope in hand, he did not lose a corner of this mysterious
country which his gaze thus drank in.
Beneath him the ground appeared generally exhausted;
there was scarcely a hollow cultivated ; the plain, dotted here
and there with mounds of medium elevation, became level
as it approached the lake; fields of barley took the place of
rice. There was the plantain, from which the wine of the
country is made, and the "mwani," a wild plant that yields
coffee. A collection of fifty circular huts, covered with a
flowery thatch, constituted the capital of Karagwah. They
could easily distinguish the astonished faces of a race
apparently good-looking and of a yellowish-brown colour.
Women of a most incredible corpulence were working in the
fields, and the doctor astonished his companions by inform-
ing them that this stoutness, which is highly appreciated, is
obtained by an obligatory diet of curdled milk.
At mid-day the Victoria" was in i 45' South latitude;
in an hour the wind carried it over the lake.
Captain Speke called this Lake "Victgria" Nyanza. In
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
this place it measures ninety miles wide. At its southern ex-
tremity the Captain found a group of islands which he
designated the Archipelago of Bengal. He pushed his re-
searches as far as Muanza on .the eastern side, where he
was well received by the sultan. He made a triangulation
of this part of the lake; but he could not procure a boat
either to cross it or to visit the great island of Ukdrdond.
This very populous island is governed by three sultans, and
only forms a peninsula at low water.
The "Victoria" approached the lake more towards the
north to the doctor's great disappointment, who wanted to
note the lower bends. The banks bristled with thorny
thickets and tangled brushwood, and were entirely hidden
under a cloud of millions of mosquitos of a clear brown
colour; the country then appeared to be uninhabitable and
uninhabited. They could see troops of hippopotami wal-
lowing amidst the reeds, whence they plunged beneath the
pellucid water of the lake.
The lake, seen from above, extended to such a distance
towards the west as almost to appear a sea. The distance
between the opposite sides of the lake is too great for the
establishment of communications; besides, the storms are
so frequent and so fierce, for the winds rage terribly in that
elevated and open basin.
The doctor had some difficulty to manage the balloon-
he was afraid of being carried away towards the east; but
fortunately a current bore him directly to the north, and at
6 P.M. the "Victoria" pulled up at a small desolate island in
0o 30' lat. and 320 52' long., about twenty miles from the
border of the lake.
The travellers were enabled to make the balloon fast to
a tree, and the wind having dropped as evening came on,
they remained quietly at anchor. They did not venture to
get down on the ground, for here, as upon the banks of the
Nyanza, legions of mosquitos covered the earth in a thick
cloud. Joe returned from the tree even covered with bites,
but he did not trouble himself about them, as he fancied
such conduct was only the nature of the animal."
Nevertheless, the doctor, somewhat less of an optimist,
let out the rope to its furthest extent with the view to escape
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