FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON;
JOURNEYS AND DISCOVERIES IN AFRICA
BY THREE ENGLISHMEN.
COMPILED IN FRENCH
By JULES VERNE,
FROM THE ORIGINAL NOTES OF DR. FERGUSON.
AND DONE INTO ENGLISH BY
WITH 48 HELIOTYPE ILLUSTRATIONS.
JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY,
Late Ticknor & Frietps, AnD Freips, Oseoop, & Co.
ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by
D. APPLETON & CO.,
in the Clerkâ€™s Office or the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.
â€œFive Weeks in a Balloonâ€ is, in a measure, a satire on
modern books of African travel. So far as the geography,
the inhabitants, the animals, and the features of the coun-
tries the travellers pass over are described, it is entirely
accurate. It gives, in some particulars, a survey of nearly
the whole field of African discovery, and in this way will
often serve to refresh the memory of the reader. The mode
of locomotion is, of course, purely imaginary, and the inci-
dents and adventures fictitious. The latter are abundantly
amusing, and, in view of the wonderful â€œ travellersâ€™ talesâ€
with which we have been entertained by African explorers,
they can scarcely be considered extravagant ; while the inge-
nuity and invention of the author will be sure to excite the
surprise and the admiration of the reader, who will find
M. Verve as much at home in voyaging through the air as in
journeying â€œTwenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas.â€
The illustrations â€” forty-eight in number â€” are reproduced
from the French originals by the patent Heliotype process,
which enables us to present, in condensed form, perfectly ex-
act and faittital transcripts of M. Riovâ€™s elaborate and fan-
By THE SAME AUTHOR.
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas.
With 110 full-page Illustrations by Riou, A. ps Nrv-
VILLE, etc.,etc. 1 vol. 8vo, $3.50. Full gilt,
[By subscription only. Guo. M. Suita & Co., 11 Bromfield
Street, Boston, Agents.]
The Tour of the World in Lighty Days.
1vol. Small18mo. Red edges, $1.50.
IN THE PRESS.
The Fur Country. With 100 full-page MIlustra-
tions by Riou and other eminent artists. 1 vol.
The Tour of the World in Kighty Days.
Illustrated. 8vo Edition. (Jmmediately.)
4% For sale by atl Booksellers. Sent, post-paid, on receipt of
price by the Publishers,
JAMES R, OSGOOD & CO., Boston.
The End of a much-applauded Speech.â€”The Presentation of Dr. Samuel Fergu-
son.â€”Excelsior.â€”Full-length Portrait of the Doctor.â€”A Fatalist convinced.
â€”A Dinner at the Travellersâ€™ Club.â€”Several Toasts forthe Occasion Pa@z 9
The Article in the Daily Telegraph.â€”War between the Scientific Journals.â€”
Mr. Petermann backs his Friend Dr. Ferguson.â€”Reply of the Savant Koner.
â€”Bets made.â€”Sundry Propositions offered to the Doctor . . 18
The Doctor's Friend.â€”The Origin of their Friendship.â€”Dick Kennedy at Lon-
don.â€”An unexpected but not very consoling Proposal.â€”A Proverb by no
means cheering.â€”A few Names from the African Martyrology.â€”The Advan-
tages of a Balloon.â€”Dr. Fergusonâ€™s Secret . . . . Â«22
African Explorations.â€”Barth, Richardson, Over\. cg, Werne, Brun-Roliet, Pen-
ney, Andrea, Debono, Miani, Guillaume Lejean, Bruce, Krapf and Rebmann,
Maizan, Roscher, Burton and Speke . . . . . . 81
Kennedyâ€™s Dreams.â€”Articles and Pronouns in the Plural.â€”Dickâ€™s Insinuations,
â€”A Promenade over the Map of Africa.â€”What is contained between two
Points of the Compass.â€”Expeditions now on foot.â€”Speke and Grant.â€”Krapf,
De Decken, and De Heuglin . . . . . . - 3
A Servantâ€”match him!â€”He can see the Satellites of Jupiter.â€”Dick and Joe
hard at it.â€”Doubt and Faith.â€”The Weighing Ceremony.â€”Joe and Welling-
ton.â€”He gets a Hali-crown . . a . . : . 44
Geometrical Details.â€”Calculation of the Capacity of the Balloon.â€”The Double
Receptacle.â€”The Covering.â€”The Car.â€”The Mysterious Apparatus.â€”The
Provisions and Stores.â€”The Final Summing up Â° Â° . Pace 50
Joeâ€™s Importance.â€”The Commander of the Resolute.â€”Kennedyâ€™s Arsenal.â€”Mu-
tual Amenities.â€”The Farewell Dinner.â€”Departure on the 2ist of February.â€”
The Doctor's Scientific Sessions.â€”Duveyrier.â€”Livingstone.â€”Details of the
AÃ©rial Voyage.â€”Kennedy silenced . Ã© 5 : . - 56
They double the Cape.â€”The Forecastle.â€”A Course of Cosmography by Pro-
fessor Joe.â€”Concerning the Method of guiding Balloons.â€”How to seek out
Atmospheric Currents.â€”Eureka . . . . * . 63
Former Experiments.â€”The Doctorâ€™s Five Receptacles.â€”The Gas Cylinder.â€”
The Calorifere â€”The System of Manceuvring.â€”Success certain - 69
The Arrival at Zanzibar.â€”The English Consul.â€”Ill-will of the Inhabitants.â€”The
Island of Koumbeni.â€”The Rain-Makers.â€”Inflation of the Balloon.â€”Depart-
ure on the 18th of April.â€”The last Good-by.â€”The Victoria e .
Crossing the Straitâ€”The Mrima.â€”Dickâ€™s Remark and Joeâ€™s Proposition.â€”A
Recipe for Coffee-making.â€”The Uzaramo.â€”The Unfortunate Maizan.â€”
Mount Duthumi.â€”The Doctor's Cards.â€”Night under a Nopal - 82
Change of Weather.â€”Kennedy has the Fever.â€”The Doctorâ€™s Medicine.â€”Travels
on Land. â€”The Basin of ImengÃ©.â€”Mount Rubeho.â€”Six Thousand Feet Ele-
vation.â€”A Halt in the Daytime : . . . . - 91
The Forest of Gum-Trees.â€”The Blue Antelope.â€”The Rallying-Signal.â€”An Un-
expected Attack.â€”The KanyemÃ©.â€”A Night in the Open Air.â€”The Mabun-
guru.â€”Jihoue-la-Mkoa,.â€”A Supply of Water.â€”Arrival at Kazeh . 9
Kazeh.â€”The Noisy Market-place.â€”The Appearance of the Balloon.â€”The Wan-
gaga.â€”The Sons of the Moon.â€”The Doctorâ€™s Walk.â€”The Population of the
Place.â€”The Royal TembÃ©.â€”The Sultanâ€™s Wives.â€”A Royal Drunken-Bout.â€”
Joe an Object of Worship.â€”How they Dance in the Moon.â€”A Reaction.â€”
Two Moons in one Sky.â€”The Instability of Divine Honors - pace 109
Symptoms of a Storm.â€”The Country of the Moon.â€”The Future of the African
Continent.â€”The Last Machine of all.â€”A View of the Country at Sunset.â€”
Flora and Fauna.â€”The Tempest.â€”The Zone of Fire.â€”The Starry Heavens.
The Mountains of the Moon.â€”An Ocean of Verdure.â€”They cast Anchor.â€”The
Towing Elephant.â€”A Running Fire.â€”Death of the Monster.â€”The Field
Oven.â€”A Meal on the Grass.â€”A Night on the Ground . % 4 181
The Karagwah.â€”Lake UkÃ©rÃ©ouÃ©.â€”A Night on an Island.â€”The Equator.â€”
Crossing the Lake.â€”The Cascades.â€”A View of the Country.--The Sources
of the Nile.â€”The Island of Benga.â€”The Signature of Andrea Debono.â€”The
Flag with the Arms of England â€˜i . . â€˜ . - 141
The Nile.â€”The Trembling Mountain.â€”A Remembrance of the Country.â€”The
Narratives of the Arabs.â€”The Nyam-Nyams.â€”Joeâ€™s Shrewd Cogitations.â€”
The Balloon runs the Gantlet.â€”AÃ©rostatic Ascensions.â€”Madame Blanchard.
The Celestial Bottle.â€”The Fig-Palms.â€”The Mammoth Trees.â€”The Tree of War.
â€”The Winged Team.â€”Two Native Tribes ifmettleâ€”A Massacre.â€”An In-
tervention from above â€˜ â€˜ * . . . - bs
Strange Sounds. â€”A Night Attack.â€”Kennedy and Joe in the Tree.â€”Two Shots,
â€”â€˜ Help! help !â€â€”Reply in French.â€”The eid â€”The Missionary.â€”The
Plan of Rescue ; . : â€˜ < ie - 165
The Jet of Light.â€”The Missionary.â€”The Rescue in a Ray of Electricity.â€”A
Lazarist Priest.â€”But little Hope.â€”The Doctorâ€™s Care.â€”A Life of Self-De-
nial.â€”Passing a Volcano . - . . . . . 1%
Joe in a Fit of Rage.â€”The Death of a Good Man.â€”The Night of watching by the
Body.â€”Barrenness and Drought.â€”The Burial.â€”The Quartz Rocks.â€”Joeâ€™s
Hallucinations.â€”A Precious Ballast.â€”A Survey of the Gold-bearing Moun-
tains.â€”The Beginning of Jceâ€™s Despair : . * . PAGE 183
The Wind dies away.â€”The Vicinity of the Desert.â€”The Mistake in the Water-
Supply.â€”The Nights of the Equator.â€”Dr. Ferguson's Anxieties.â€”The Sit-
uation flatly stated.â€”Energetic Replies of Kennedy and Joe.â€”One Night
more 2 . Â° . . . . Â° e Â« 192
A Little Philosophy.â€”A Cloud on the Horizon.â€”In the Midst of a Fog.â€”The
Strange Balloon.â€”An Exact View of the Victoria.â€”The Palm-Trees,â€”Traces
of a Caravan.â€”The Well in the Midst of the Desert . . Â» 201
One Hundred and Thirteen Degrees.â€”The Doctor's Reflections.â€”A Desperate
Search.â€”The Cylinder goes out.â€”One Hundred and Twenty-two Degrees.â€”
Contemplation of the Desert.â€”A Night Walk.â€”Solitude.â€”Debility.â€”Joeâ€™s
Prospects.â€”He gives himself One Day more 6 â€˜ i. = 208
Terrific Heat.â€”Hallucinations.â€”The Last Drops of Water.â€”Nights of Despair.
An Attempt at Suicide.â€”The Simoom.â€”The Oasis.â€”The Lion and Lioness.
An Evening of Delight.â€”Joeâ€™s Culinary Performances.â€”A Dissertation on Raw
Meat.â€”The Narrative of James Bruce.â€”Camping out.â€”Joeâ€™s Dreams.â€”The
Barometer begins to fallâ€”The Barometer rises again.â€”Preparations for
Departure.â€”The Tempest . . . . . . = 222
Signs of Vegetation.â€”The Fantastic Notion of a French Author.â€”A Magnificent
Country.â€”The Kingdom of Adamova.â€”The Explorations of Speke and Bur-
ton connected with those of Dr. Barth.â€”The Atlantika Mountains.â€”The
River BenouÃ©.â€”The City of Yola.â€”The BagelÃ©.â€”Mount Mendif - 229
Mosfeia.â€”The Sheik.â€”Denham, Clapperton, and Oudney.â€”Vogel.â€”The Capital
of Loggoum.â€”Toole.â€”Becalmed above Kernak.â€”The Governor and his Court.
~-The Attack.â€”The Incendiary Pigeons . â€˜ â€˜ . + = 38
Departure in the Night-time.â€”All Three.â€”Kennedyâ€™s Instincts.â€”Precautions.â€”
The Course of the Shari River.â€”Lake Tchad.â€”The Water of the Lake.â€”The
Hippopotamus.â€”One Bullet thrown away . . . Â« PAGE 245
The Capital of Bornou.â€”The Islands of the Biddiomahs.â€”The Condors.â€”The
Doctorâ€™s Anxieties.â€”His Precautions.â€”An Attack in Mid-air.â€”The Balloon
Covering torn.â€”The Fall.â€”Sublime Self-Sacrifice.â€”The Northern Coast of
the Lake . 5 5 5 . % . . . = 2A
Conjectures.â€”ReÃ©stablishment of the Victoriaâ€™s Equilibrium.â€”Dr. Fergusonâ€™s
New Calculations.â€”Kennedyâ€™s Hunt.â€”A Complete Exploration of Lake
Tchad.â€”Tangalia.â€”The Return.â€”Lari . . 5 . - 8
The Hurricane.â€”A Forced Departure.â€”Loss of an Anchor.â€”Melancholy Reflec-
tions.â€”The Resolution adopted.â€”The Sand-Storm.â€”The Buried Caravan.â€”
A Contrary yet Favorable Wind.â€”The Return southward.â€”Kennedy at his
Post . . . . 5 . x . . . 266
What happened to Joe.â€”The Island of the Biddiomahs.â€”The Adoration shown
him.â€”The Island that sank.â€”The Shores of the Lake.â€”The Tree of the Ser-
pents.â€”The Foot-Tramp.â€”Terrible Suffering.â€”Mosquitoes and Ants.â€”
Hunger.â€”The Victoria seen.â€”She disappears.â€”The Swamp.â€”One Last
Despairing Cry . Â® . . 5 â€˜ . < â€˜ 272
A Throng of People on the Horizon.â€”A Troop of Arabs.â€”The Pursuit.â€”It is
He.â€”Fall from Horseback.â€”The Strangled Arab.â€”A Ball from Kennedy.â€”
Adroit Manceuvres.â€”Caught up flying.â€”Joe saved at last 7 Â« 288
The Western Route.â€”Joe wakes up.â€”His Obstinacy.â€”End of Joeâ€™s Narrative.
â€”Tagelei._Kennedyâ€™s Anxieties.â€”The Route to the North.â€”A Night near
Aghades . . . . . : . . . Â« = 290
A Rapid Passage.â€”Prudent Resolves.â€”Caravans in Sight.â€”Incessant Rains.â€”
Goa.â€”The Niger.â€”Golberry, Geoffroy, and Gray.â€”Mungo Park.â€”Laing.â€”
RenÃ© CailliÃ©.â€”Clapperton.â€”John and Richard Lander . . - = 207
The Country in the Elbow of the Niger.â€”A Fantastic View of the Hombori Moun-
tains.â€”Kabra.â€”Timbuctoo.â€”The Chart of Dr. Barth.â€”A Decaying City.â€”
Whither Heaven wills . . < . . . . PAGE 306
Dr. Fergusonâ€™s Anxieties.â€”Persistent Movement southward.â€”A Cloud of
Grasshoppers.â€”A View of JennÃ©.â€”A View of Sego.â€”Change of the Wind.â€”-
Joeâ€™s Regrets . $ . . . 2 . â€™ - 812
The Approaches to Senegal.â€”The Balloon sinks lower and lower.â€”They keep
throwing out, throwing out.â€”The Marabout Al-Hadji.â€”Messrs. Pascal, Vin-
cent, and Lambert.â€”A Rival of Mohammed.â€”The Difficult Mountains.â€”Ken-
nedyâ€™s Weapons.â€”One of Joeâ€™s Mancuvres.â€”A Halt overa Forest . 31%
A Struggle of Generosity.â€”The Last Sacrifice.â€”The Dilating Apparatus.â€”Joeâ€™s
Adroitness.â€”Midnight.â€”-The Doctorâ€™s Watch.â€”Kennedyâ€™s Watch.â€”The Lat-
ter falls asleep at his Post.â€”The Fire.â€”The Howlings of the Natives.â€”Out
of Range . " . : 7 . . . + 826
The Talabas.â€”The Pursuit.â€”A Devastated Country.â€”The Wind begins to fail.
â€”The Victoria sinks.â€”The last of the Provisions.â€”The Leaps of the Bal-
loon.â€”A Defence with Fire-arms.â€”The Wind freshens.â€”The Senegal River.
â€”The Cataracts of Gouina.--The Hot Air.â€”The Passage of the River 332
Conclusion.â€”The Certificate.-â€”-The French Settlements.â€”The Post of Medina.â€”
The Basilic.â€”Saint Louis.â€”The English Frigate.â€”The Return to London. .
to HO DO WH OH YH HP Pe YP ee
COSnNvrFovAaANRr ane WWE OS
a eo eC amen og co
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Dick KENNEDY . i : â€˜
Dick consuLtine THE Map .
JOE % Ã©s 5 : . f
Tue ResoLuTe .
JoE AND THE SAILORS . â€˜ :
Virw or ZANnzIBAR
Crossing THE STRAIT
Tue Savaces or Uzaramo
Ar Anchor ror THE Nigut.
Tue Biur ANTELOPE
. A Suprry or Water
. Tae Doctor visits tur Kine :*
Tue SORCERER CARRIED OFF
. HipporotaMi .
. Ly tus Storm
. ANcHORING To AN ELEPHANT
. Dearu or tHe ELEpnant .
. â€œTHe Nine!â€
. Bruneau Isnanp . : 5
. Tae War-TREE oF THE CANNIBALS
. Tue Nicut Arrack .
. Tue Exuctric Licur . : :
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Crossinc A VoLcaNno
Buryinc THE Misstonary
APPROACHING THE DESERT Ã©
Sunset In THE DESERT.
Tue Mrrace. 5 - : 7
Tue Nicut or Turrst .
Fieut with a LionzEss
An Evenine or Deticut
Crossing Mount Mernpirr
Tur GOVERNOR AND HIS CouRT
Tun Capitan or Bornov .
A Swim ror Litt .
Tur TREE oF THE SERPENTS
JozE In THE Swamp
Caueut up Friyine
En Route ror Trupuctoo
Tus Sonray CouNTRY
A Swarm or GRASSHOPPERS .
LIGHTENING THE BaLLoon
PursveD BY THE TALABAS
Tue Fauts or Gourna .
FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The End of a much-applauded Speech.â€”The Presentation of Dr. Samuel Fergu-
son.â€”Excelsior.â€”Full-length Portrait of the Doctor.â€”A Fatalist convinced.
â€”A Dinner at the Travellersâ€™ Club.â€”Several Toasts for the Occasion.
THERE was a large audience assembled on the 14th of
January, 1862, at the session of the Royal Geographical
Society, No. 3 Waterloo Place, London. The president,
Sir Francis M , made an important communication to
his colleagues, in an address that was frequently inter-
rupted by applause.
This rare specimen of eloquence terminated with the
following sonorous phrases bubbling over with patriotism:
â€œ England has always marched at the head of nationsâ€
(for, the reader will observe, the nations always march at
the head of each other), â€œby the intrepidity of her ex-
plorers in the line of geographical discovery.â€ (General
assent). â€œ Dr. Samuel Ferguson, one of her most glorious
sons, will not reflect discredit on his origin.â€ (â€˜ No, in-
deed!â€ from all parts of the hall.)
â€œThis attempt, should it succeedâ€ (â€œ It will succeed !â€),
â€œwill complete and link together the notions, as yet dis-
jointed, which the world entertains of African cartol-
10 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
ogyâ€ (vehement applause); â€œand, should it fail, it will,
at least, remain on record as one of the most daring
conceptions of human genius!â€ (Tremendous cheering.)
â€œWHuzza! huzza!â€ shouted the immense audience,
completely electrified by these inspiring words.
â€œTuzza for the intrepid Ferguson!â€ cried one of the
most excitable of the enthusiastic crowd.
The wildest cheering resounded on all sides; the name
of Ferguson was in every mouth, and we may safely be-
lieve that it lost nothing in passing through English
throats. Indeed, the hall fairly shook with it.
And there were present, also, those fearless travellers
and explorers whose energetic temperaments had borne
them through every quarter of the globe, many of them
grown old and worn out in the service of science. All
had, in some degree, physically or morally, undergone the
sorest trials. They had escaped shipwreck; conflagration ;
Indian tomahawks and war-clubs; the fagot and the
stake; nay, even the cannibal maws of the South Sea
Islanders. But still their hearts beat high during Sir
. Francis Mâ€”â€”â€™s address, which certainly was the finest
oratorical success that the Royal Geographical Society of
London had yet achieved.
But, in England, enthusiasm does not stop short with
mere words. It strikes off money faster than the dies of
the Royal Mint itself. Soa subscription to encourage Dr.
Ferguson was voted there and then, and it at once at-
tained the handsome amount of two thousand five hundred
pounds. The sum was made commensurate with the
importance of the enterprise.
A member of the Society then inquired of the presi-
dent whether Dr. Ferguson was not to be officially intro-
â€œThe doctor is at the disposition of the meeting,â€ re-
plied Sir Francis,
DR. FERGUSON. 11
â€œLet him come in, then! Bring him in!â€ shouted the
audience. â€œWe'd like to see a man of such extraordinary
daring, face to face!â€
â€œ Perhaps this incredible proposition of his is only
intended to mystify us,â€ growled an apoplectic old ad-
â€œSuppose that there should turn out to be no such
person as Dr. Ferguson?â€ exclaimed another voice, with
a malicious twang.
â€œWhy, then, weâ€™d have to invent one!â€ replieda
facetious member of this grave Society.
â€œ Ask Dr. Ferguson to come in,â€ was the quiet remark
of Sir Francis M :
And come in the doctor did, and stood there, quite
unmoved by the thunders of applause that greeted his
He was a man of about forty years of age, of medium
height and physique. His sanguine temperament was dis-
closed in the deep color of his cheeks. His countenance
was coldly expressive, with regular features, and a large
noseâ€”one of those noses that resemble the prow of a ship,
and stamp the faces of men predestined to accomplish
great discoveries. His eyes, which were gentle and intel-
ligent, rather than bold, lent a peculiar charm to his phys-
iognomy. His arms were long, and his feet were
planted with that solidity which indicates a great pedes-
A calm gravity seemed to surround the doctorâ€™s entire
person, and no one would dream that he could become the
agent of any mystification, however harmless.
Hence, the applause that greeted him at the outset
continued until he, with a friendly gesture, claimed silence
on his own behalf. He stepped toward the seat that had
been prepared for him on his presentation, and then,
standing erect and motionless, he, with a determined
12 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
glance, pointed his right forefinger upward, and pro-
nounced aloud the single wordâ€”
Never had one of Brightâ€™s or Cobdenâ€™s sudden on-
slaughts, never had one of Palmerstonâ€™s abrupt demands
for funds to plate the rocks of the English coast with iron,
made such a sensation. Sir Francis Mâ€”â€”â€™s address was
completely overshadowed. The doctor had shown himself
moderate, sublime, and self-contained, in one; he had ut-
tered the word of the situationâ€”
â€œ Excelsior !â€
The gouty old admiral who had been finding fault, was
completely won over by the singular man before him, and
immediately moved the insertion of Dr. Fergusonâ€™s speech
in â€œThe Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society
Who, then, was this person, and what was the enter-
prise that he proposed ?
Fergusonâ€™s father, a brave and worthy captain in the
English Navy, had associated his son with him, from the
young manâ€™s earliest years, in the perils and adventures of
his profession. The fine little fellow, who seemed to have
never known the meaning of fear, early revealed a keen
and active mind, an investigating intelligence, and a re-
markable turn for scientific study ; moreover, he disclosed
uncommon address in extricating himself from difficulty ;
he was never perplexed, not even in handling his fork for
the first timeâ€”an exercise in which children generally
have so little success.
His fancy kindled early at the recitals he read of dar-
ing enterprise and maritime adventure, and he followed
with enthusiasm the discoveries that signalized the first part
of the nineteenth century. He mused over the glory of the
Mungo Parks, the Bruces, the Caillies, the Levaillants,
and to some extent, I verily believe, of Selkirk (Robinson
SKETCH OF DR. FERGUSON. 13
Crusoe), whom he considered in no wise inferior to the
rest. How many a well-employed hour he passed with
that hero on his isle of Juan Fernandez! Often he criti-
cised the ideas.of the shipwrecked sailor, and sometimes
discussed his plans and projects. He would have done
differently, in such and such a case, or quite as well at
leastâ€”of that he felt assured. But of one thing he was
satisfied, that he never should have left that pleasant isl-
and, where he was as happy as a king without subjects
no, not if the inducement held out had been promotion to
the first lordship in the admiralty !
It may readily be conjectured whether these tendencies
were developed during a youth of adventure, spent in
every nook and corner of the Globe. Moreover, his father,
who was a man of thorough instruction, omitted no op-
portunity to consolidate this keen intelligence by serious
studics in hydrography, physics, and mechanics, along
with a slight tincture of botany, medicine, and astronomy.
Upon the death of the estimable captain, Samuel Fer-
guson, then twenty-two years of age, had already made
his voyage around the world. He had enlisted in the
Bengalese Corps of Engincers, and distinguished himsclf
in several affairs; but this soldicrâ€™s life had not exactly
suited him; caring but little for command, he had not been
fond of obeying. He, therefore, sent in his resignation,
and half botanizing, half playing the hunter, he made
his way toward the north of the Indian Peninsula, and
crossed it from Calcutta to Suratâ€”a mere amateur trip for
From Surat we see him going over to Australia, and
in 1845 participating in Captain Sturtâ€™s expedition, which
had been sent out to explore the new Caspian Sea, sup-
posed to exist in the centre of New Holland.
Samuel Ferguson returned to England about 1850,
and, more than ever possessed by the demon of discovery,
14 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
he spent the intervening time, until 1853, in accompany:
ing Captain McClure on the expedition that went around
the American Continent from Behringâ€™s Straits to Cape
Notwithstanding fatigues of every description, and in
all climates, Fergusonâ€™s constitution continued marvellous-
ly sound. He felt at ease in the midst of the most com-
plete privations; in fine, he was the very type of the
thoroughly accomplished explorer whose stomach expands
or contracts at will; whose limbs grow longer or shorter
according to the resting-place that each stage of a journey
may bring; who can fall asleep at any hour of the day or
awake at any hour of the night.
Nothing, then, was less surprising, after that, than to
find our traveller, in the period from 1855 to 1857, visiting
the whole region west of the Thibet, in company with the
brothers Schlagintweit, and bringing back some curious
ethnographic observations from that expedition.
During these different journeys, Ferguson had been
the most active and interesting correspondent of the
Daily Telegraph, the penny newspaper whose circulation
amounts to 140,000 copies, and yet scarcely suffices for its
many legions of readers. Thus, the doctor had become
well known to the public, although he could not claim
membership in either of the Royal Geographical Societies
of London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, or St. Petersburg, or
yet with the Travellersâ€™ Club, or even the Royal Poly-
technic Institute, where his friend the statistician Cock-
burn ruled in state.
The latter savant had, one day, gone so far as to pro-
pose to him the following problem: Given the number of
miles travelled by the doctor in making the circuit of the
Globe, how many more had his head described than his
feet, by reason of the different lengths of the radii ?â€”or,
the number of miles traversed by the doctorâ€™s head and
THE ENGLISHMAN AT GENEVA. 15
feet respectively being given, required the exact height
of that gentleman ?
This was done with the idea of complimenting him,
but the doctor had held himself aloof from all the learned
bodiesâ€”belonging, as he did, to the church militant and
not to the church polemical. He found his time better
employed in seeking than in discussing, in discovering
rather than discoursing.
There is a story told of an Englishman who came one
day to Geneva, intending to visit the lake. He was placed
in one of those odd vehicles in which the passengers sit
side by side, as they do in an omnibus. Well, it so hap-
pened that the Englishman got a seat that left him with
his back turned toward the lake. The vehicle completed
its circular trip without his thinking to turn around once,
and he went back to London delighted with the Lake of
Doctor Ferguson, however, had turned around to look
about him on his journcyings, and turned to such good
purpose that he haa seen a great deal. In doing so, he
had simply obeyed the laws of his nature, and we have
good reason to believe that he was, to some extent, a fatal-
ist, but of an orthodox school of fatalism withal, that led
him to rely upon himself and even upon Providence. He
claimed that he was impelled, rather than drawn by his
own volition, to journey as he did, and that he traversed
the world like the locomotive, which does not direct itself,
but is guided and directed by the track it runs on.
â€œT do not follow my route;â€ he often said, â€œit is my
route that follows me.â€
The reader will not be surprised, then, at the calmness
with which the doctor received the applause that wel-
comed him in the Royal Society. He was above all such
trifles, having no pride, and less vanity. He looked upon
the proposition addressed to him by Sir Francis Mâ€”â€” as
16 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
the simplest thing in the world, and scarcely noticed the
immense effect that it produced.
When the session closed, the doctor was escorted to
the rooms of the Travellersâ€™ Club, in Pall Mall. A superb
entertainment had been prepared there in his honor. The
dimensions of the dishes served were made to correspond
with the importance of the personage entertained, and the
boiled sturgeon that figured at this magnificent repast was
not an inch shorter than Dr. Ferguson himself.
Numerous toasts were offered and quaffed, in the wines
of France, to the cclebrated travellers who had made their
names illustrious by their explorations of African terri-
tory. The guests drank to their health or to their memory,
in alphabetical order, a good old English way of doing the
thing. Among those remembered thus, were: Abbadie,
Adams, Adamson, Anderson, Arnaud, Baikie, Baldwin,
Barth, Batouda, Beke, Beltram, Du Berba, Bimbachi,
Bolognesi, Bolwik, Belzoni, Bonnemain, Brisson, Browne,
Bruce, Brun-Rollet, Burchell, Burckhardt, Burton, Cail-
laud, Caillie, Campbell, Chapman, Clapperton, Clot-Bey,
Colomieu, Courval, Cumming, Cuny, Debono, Decken,
Denham, Desavanchers, Dicksen, Dickson, Dochard, Du
Chaillu, Duncan, Durand, Duroule, Duveyrier, Dâ€™Escay-
rac, De Lauture, Erhardt, Ferret, Fresnel, Galinier, Galton,
Geoffroy, Golberry, Hahn, Halm, Harnier, Hecquart,
Heuglin, Hornemann, Houghton, Imbert, Kauffmann,
Knoblecher, Krapf, Kummer, Lafargue, Laing, Lafaille,
Lambert, Lamiral, LampriÃ©re, John Lander, Richard Lan-
der, Lefebvre, Lejean, Levaillant, Livingstone, MacCarthy,
Maggiar, Maizan, Malzac, Moffat, Mollien, Monteiro, Mor
rison, Mungo Park, Neimans, Overwey, Panct, Partarricau,
Pascal, Pearse, Peddie, Peney, Petherick, Poncet, Prax,
Raffenel, Rabh, Rebmann, Richardson, Riley, Ritchey,
Rochet @â€™Hericourt, Rongiwi, Roscher, Ruppel, Saugnier,
Speke, Steidner, Thibaud, Thompson, Thornton, Toole,
AFRICAN EXPLORERS. 17
Tousny, Trotter, Tuckey, Tyrwhitt, Vaudey, VeyssiÃ©re,
Vincent, Vinco, Vogel, Wahlberg, Warrington, Washing-
ton, Werne, Wild, and last, but not least, Dr. Ferguson,
who, by his incredible attempt, was to link together the
achievements of all these explorers, and complete the series
of African discovery.
The Article in the Daily Telegraph._War between the Scientific Journals.â€”
Mr. Petermann backs his Friend Dr. Ferguson.â€”Reply of the Savant Koner
â€”Bets made.â€”Sundry Propositions offered to the Doctor.
On the next day, in its number of January 15th, the
Daily Telegraph published an article couched in the fol-
â€œ Africa is, at length, about to surrender the secret
of her vast solitudes; a modern Cidipus is to give us the
key to that enigma which the learned men of sixty centu-
ries have not been able to decipher. In other days, to
seek the sources of the Nileâ€”/fontes Nili qucerereâ€”was
regarded as a mad endeavor, a chimera that could not be
â€œ Dr. Barth, in following out to Soudan the track traced
by Denham and Clapperton; Dr. Livingstone, in multiply-
ing his fearless explorations from the Cape of Good Hope
to the basin of the Zambesi; Captains Burton and Speke,
in the discovery of the great interior lakes, have opened
three highways to modern civilization. Their point of in-
tersection, which no traveller has yet been able to reach, is
the very heart of Africa, and it is thither that all efforts
should now be directed.
â€œThe labors of these hardy pioneers of science are now
about to be knit together by the daring project of Dr.
Samuel Ferguson, whose fine explorations our readers
have frequently had the opportunity of appreciating.
â€œThis intrepid discoverer proposes to traverse all
NOTES OF PREPARATION 19
Africa from east to west in a balloon. If we are well
informed, the point of departure for this surprising journey
is to be the island of Zanzibar, upon the eastern coast.
As for the point of arrival, it is reserved for Providence
alone to designate.
â€œThe proposal for this scientific undertaking was offi-
cially made, yesterday, at the rooms of the Royal Geo-
graphical Society, and the sum of twenty-five hundred
pounds was voted to defray the expenses of the enterprise.
â€œWe shall keep our readers informed as to the prog-
ress of this enterprise, which has no precedent in the an-
nals of exploration.â€
As may be supposed, the foregoing article had an
enormous echo among scientific people. At first, it stirred
up a storm of incredulity; Dr. Ferguson passed for a
nurely chimerical personage of the Barnum stamp, who,
after having gone through the United States, proposed to
â€œdoâ€ the British Isles.
A humorous reply appeared in the February number
of the Bulletins de la SociÃ©tÃ© Geographique of Geneva,
which very wittily showed up the Royal Society of Lon-
don and ther phenomenal sturgeon.
But Herr Petermann, in his Mittheilungen, published
at Gotha, reduced the Geneva journal to the most absolute
silence. Herr Petermann knew Dr. Ferguson personally,
and guaranteed the intrepidity of his dauntless friend.
Besides, all manner of doubt was quickly put out of
the question: preparations for the trip were set on foot at
London; the factories of Lyons received a heavy order for
the silk required for the body of the balloon; and, finally,
the British Government placed the transport-ship [eso-
lute, Captain Bennett, at the disposal of the expedition.
At once, upon word of all this, a thousand encourage-
ments were offered, and felicitations came pouring in from
_ all quarters. The details of the undertaking were pub-
20 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
lished in full in the bulletins of the Geographical Society
of Paris; a remarkable article appeared in the ouwvelles
Annales des Voyages, dela Geographic, de 0 Histoire, et
de P Archeologie de Mi. V. A, dfaite-Brun (â€œNew Annals
of Travels, Geography, History, and Archeology, by
M.V. A. Malte-Brunâ€) ; and a searching essay in the Zeit-
schrift fir Allgemeine Erdkunde, by Dr. W. Koner, tri-
umphantly demonstrated the feasibility of the journey, its
chances of success, the nature of the obstacles existing,
the immense advantages of the aÃ©rial mode of locomotion,
and found fault with nothing but the selected point of de-
parture, which it contended should be Massowah, a small
port in Abyssinia, whence James Bruce, in 1768, started
upon his explorations in search of the sources of the Nile.
Apart from that, it mentioned, in terms of unreserved ad-
miration, the energetic character of Dr. Ferguson, and the
heart, thrice panoplied in bronze, that could conceive and
undertake such an enterprise.
The North American Review could not, without some
displeasure, contemplate so much glory monopolized by
England. It therefore rather ridiculed the doctorâ€™s scheme,
and urged him, by all means, to push hisâ€™explorations as
far as America, while he was about it.
In a word, without going over all the journals in the
world, there was not a scientific publication, from the
Journal of Evangelical Missions to the Revue AlgÃ©rienne
et Coloniale, from the Annales de la Propagation de la
Foi to the Church Missionary Intelligencer, that had not
something to say about the affair in all its phases.
Many large bets were made at London and throughout
England generally, first, as to the real or supposititious
existence of Dr. Ferguson; secondly, as to the trip itself,
which, some contended, would not be undertaken at all,
and which was really contemplated, according to others;
thirdly, upon the success or failure of the enterprise; and
THE DOCTOR LIONIZED. 21
fourthly, upon the probabilities of Dr. Fergusonâ€™s return.
The betting-books were covered with entrics of immense
sums, as though the Epsom races were at stake.
Thus, believers and unbelievers, the learned and the
ignorant, alike had their cyes fixed on the doctor, and he
became the lion of the day, without knowing that he car-
ried such a mane, On his part, he willingly gave the
most accurate information touching his project. He was
very easily approached, being naturally the most affable
man in the world. More than one bold adventurer pre-
sented himself, offering to shaie the dangers as well as the
glory of the undertaking; but he refused them all, without
giving his reasons for rejecting them.
Numerous inventors of mechanism applicable to the
guidance of balloons came to propose their systems, but
he would accept none; and, when he was asked whether
he had discovered something of his own for that purpose,
he constantly refused to give any explanation, and mercly
busied himself more actively than ever with the prepara
tions for his journey.
The Doctor's Friend.â€”The Origin of their Friendship.â€”Dick Kennedy at Lon-
don.â€”An unexpected but not very consoling Proposal.â€”A Proverb by no
means cheering.â€”A few Names from the African Martyrology.â€”The Advan-
tages of a Balloon.â€”Dr. Fergusonâ€™s Secret.
Dr. Frrcavuson had a friendâ€”not another self, indeed,
an alter ego, for friendship could not exist between two
beings exactly alike.
But, if they possessed different qualities, aptitudes, and
temperaments, Dick Kennedy and Samuel Ferguson lived
with one and the same heart, and that gave them no great
trouble. In fact, quite the reverse.
Dick Kennedy was a Scotchman, in the full acceptation
of the wordâ€”open, resolute, and headstrong. He lived
in the town of Leith, which is near Edinburgh, and, in
truth, is a mere suburb of Auld Reekie. Sometimes he
was a fisherman, but he was always and everywhere a de-
termined hunter, and that was nothing remarkable for a
son of Caledonia, who had known some little climbing
among the Highland mountains. He was cited as a won-
derful shot with the rifle, since not only could he split a
bullet on a knife-blade, but he could divide it into two
such equal parts that, upon weighing them, scarcely any
difference would be perceptible.
Kennedyâ€™s countenance strikingly recalled that of Her-
bert Glendinning, as Sir Walter Scott has depicted it in
â€œThe Monasteryâ€; his stature was above six feet; full of
grace and easy movement, he yet seemed gifted with her-
DICK KENNEDY. 23
culean strength; a face embrowned by the sun; eyes keen
and black; a natural air of daring courage; in fine, some-
thing sound, solid, and reliable in his entire person, spoke,
at first glance, in favor of the bonny Scot.
The acquaintanceship of these two friends had been
formed in India, when they belonged to the same regi-
ment. While Dick would be out in pursuit of the tiger
and the elephant, Samuel would be in search of plants and
insects. Each could call himself expert in his own prov-
ince, and more than one rare botanical specimen, that to
science was as great a victory won as the conquest of a
pair of ivory tusks, became the doctorâ€™s booty.
These two young men, moreover, never had occasion
to save each otherâ€™s lives, or to render any reciprocal ser-
vice, Hence, an unalterable friendship. Destiny some-
times bore them apart, but sympathy always united them
Since their return to England they had been frequent-
ly separated by the doctorâ€™s distant expeditions; but, on
his return, the latter never failed to go, not to ask for
hospitality, but to bestow some weeks of his presence at
the home of his crony Dick.
The Scot talked of the past; the doctor busily pre-
pared for the future. The one looked back, the other for-
ward. Hence, a restless spirit personified in Ferguson;
perfect calmness typified in Kennedyâ€”such was the con-
After his journey to the Thibet, the doctor had re-
mained nearly two years without hinting at new explora-
tions; and Dick, supposing that his friendâ€™s instinct for
travel and thirst for adventure had at length died out,
was perfectly enchanted. They would have ended badly,
some day or other, he thought to himself; no matter what
experience one has with men, one does not travel always
with impunity among cannibals and wild beasts. So,
24 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Kennedy besought the doctor to tie up his bark for life,
having done enough for science, and too much for the
gratitude of men.
The doctor contented himself with making no reply to
this, He remained absorbed in his own reflections, giving
hinself up to secret calculations, passing his nights among
heaps of figures, and making experiments with the stran-
gest-looking machinery, inexplicable to everybody but him-
self. It could readily be guessed, though, that some great
thought was fermenting in his brain.
â€œ What can he have been planning?â€ wondered Ken-
nedy, when, in the month of January, his friend quitted
him to return to London,
Te found out one morning when he looked into the
â€œ Merciful Heaven!â€ he exclaimed, â€œthe lunatic! the
madman! Cross Africa in a balloon! Nothing but that
was wanted to cap the climax! Thatâ€™s what heâ€™s been
bothering his wits about these two years past!â€
Now, reader, substitute for all these exclamation points,
as many ringing thumps with a brawny fist upon the table,
and you have some idea of the manual exercise that Dick
went through while he thus spoke.
When his confidential maid-of-all-work, the aged El-
speth, tried to insinuate that the whole thing might be a
â€œNot a bit of it!â€ said he. â€œDonâ€™t I know my man?
Isnâ€™t it just like him? Travel through the air! There,
now, heâ€™s jealous of the cagles, next! No! I warrant
you, heâ€™ll not do it! Vl find a way to stop him! Te!
why if they'd Ict him alone, heâ€™d start some day for the
On that very evening Kennedy, half alarmed, and half
exasperated, took the train for London, where he arrived
THE WRATHFUL DICK. 2
â€˜Three-quarters of an hour later a cab deposited him at
the door of the doctorâ€™s modest dwelling, in Soho Square,
Greek Street. Forthwith he bounded up the steps and
announced his arrival with five good, hearty, sounding
raps at the door.
Ferguson opened, in person.
â€œDick! you here?â€ he exclaimed, but with no great
expression of surprise, after all.
â€˜Dick himself!â€ was the response.
â€œWhat, my dear boy, you at London, and this the
mid-season of the winter shooting ?â€
â€œYes! here Lam, at London!â€
â€œ And what have you come to town for?â€
â€œTo prevent the greatest piece of folly that ever was
â€œFolly!â€ said the doctor. ,
â€œTs what this paper says, the truth?â€ rejoined Ken
nedy, holding out the copy of the Daily Telegraph, men-
â€œ Ah! thatâ€™s what you mean, is it? These newspapers
are great tattlers! But, sit down, my dear Dick.â€
â€œNo, I wonâ€™t sit down!â€”Then, you really intend to
attempt this journey ?â€
â€œ Most certainly! all my preparations are getting along
finely, and Iâ€”â€
â€œWhere are your traps? Let me have a chance at
them! Vl make them fly! Yl put your preparations in
fine order.â€ And so saying, the gallant Scot gave way to
a genuine explosion of wrath.
â€œCome, be calm, my dear Dick!â€ resumed the doctor.
â€œ Yowre angry at me because I did not acquaint you with
my new project.â€
â€œ He calls this his new project!â€
â€œJT have been very busy,â€ the doctor went on, without
heeding the interruption; â€œI have had so much to look
26 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
after! But rest assured that I should not have started
without writing to you.â€
â€œ Oh, indeed! Iâ€™m highly honored.â€
â€œ Because it is my intention to take you with me.â€
Upon this, the Scotchman gave a leap that a wild goat
would not have been ashamed of among his native crags.
â€œ Ah! really, then, you want them to send us both to
â€œÂ¥ have counted positively upon you, my dear Dick,
and I have picked you out from all the rest.â€
Kennedy stood speechless with amazement.
â€œ After listening to me for ten minutes,â€ said the doc-
tor, â€œyou will thank me!â€
â€œ Are you speaking seriously ?â€
â€œ And suppose that I refuse to go with you?â€
â€œBut you won't refuse.â€
â€œ But, suppose that I were to refuse ?â€
â€œWell, Pd go alone.â€
â€œLet us sit down,â€ said Kennedy, â€œ and talk without
excitement. The moment you give up jesting about it,
we can discuss the thing.â€
â€œLet us discuss it, then, at breakfast, if you have no
. objections, my dear Dick.â€
The two friends took their seats opposite to each other,
at a little table with a plate of toast and a huge tea-urn
â€œ My dear Samuel,â€ said the sportsman, â€œyour project
is insane! it is impossible! it has no resemblance to any-
thing reasonable or practicable !â€
â€œThatâ€™s for us to find out when we shall have tried
â€œBut trying it is exactly what you ought not to at-
â€œ Why so, if you please ?â€
THE ARGUMENT. 27
â€œ Well, the risks, the difficulty of the thing.â€
â€œ As for difficulties,â€ replied Ferguson, in a serious
tone, â€œthey were made to be overcome; as for risks and
dangers, who can flatter himself that he is to escape them?
Every thing in life involves danger; it may even be
very dangerous to sit down at oneâ€™s own table, or to
put oneâ€™s hat on oneâ€™s own head. Moreover, we must
look upon what is to occur as having already occurred,
and see nothing but the present in the future, for the
future is but the present a little farther on,â€
â€œThere it is!â€ exclaimed Kennedy, with a shrug.
â€œ As great a fatalist as ever!â€
â€œYes! but in the good sense of the word. Let us not
trouble ourselves, then, about what fate has in store for us,
and let us not forget our good old English proverb: â€˜The
man who was born to be hung will never be drowned !â€™â€
There was no reply to make, but that did not prevent
Kennedy from resuming a series of arguments which may
be readily conjectured, but which were too long for us to
â€œ Well, then,â€ he said, after an hourâ€™s discussion, â€œ if
you are absolutely determined to make this trip across the
African continentâ€”if it is necessary for your happiness,
why not pursue the ordinary routes?â€
â€œWhy?â€ ejaculated the doctor, growing animated.
â€œ Because, all attempts to do so, up to this time, have
utterly failed. Because, from Mungo Park, assassinated
on the Niger, to Vogel, who disappeared in the Wadai
country ; from Oudney, who died at Murmur, and Clap-
perton, lost at Sackatou, to the Frenchman Maizan, who
was cut to pieces; from Major Laing, killed by the Toua-
regs, to Roscher, from Hamburg, massacred in the begin-
ning of 1860, the names of victim after victim have been
inscribed on the lists of African martyrdom! Because, to
contend successfully against the elements; against hunger,
28 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
and thirst, and fever; against savage beasts, and still more
savage men, isimpossible! Because, what cannot be done
in one way, should be tried in another. In fine, because
what one cannot pass through directly in the middle, must
be passed by going to one side or overhead !â€
â€œIf passing over it were the only question!â€ inter-
posed Kennedy; â€œbut passing high up in the air, doctor,
thereâ€™s the rub !â€
â€œCome, then,â€ said the doctor, â€œ what have I to fear?
You will admit that Ihave taken my precautions in such
manner as to be certain that my balloon will not fall; but,
should it disappoint me, I should find myself on the ground
in the normal conditions imposed upon other explorers.
But, my balloon will not deceive me, and we need make
no such calculations.â€
â€œYes, but you must take them into view.â€
â€œNo, Dick. I intend not to be separated from
the balloon until I reach the western coast of Africa.
With it, every thing is possible; without it, I fall back
into the dangers and difficulties as well as the natural ob-
stacles that ordinarily attend such an expedition: with it,
neither hÃ©at, nor torrents, nor tempests, nor the simoom,
nor unhealthy climates, nor wild animals, nor savage men,
are to be feared! If I feel too hot, I can ascend; if too
cold, I can come down. Should there be a mountain, I can
pass over it; a precipice, I can sweep across it; ariver, I can
sail beyond it; a storm, I canrise away above it; a torrent,
I can skim it like a bird! I can advance without fatigue,
I can halt without need of repose! I can soar above the
nascent cities! I can speed onward with the rapidity of a
tornado, sometimes at the loftiest heights, sometimes only a
hundred feet above the soil, while the map of Africa unrolls
itself beneath my gaze in the great atlas of the world.â€
Even the stubborn Kennedy began to feel moved, and
yet the spectacle thus conjured up before him gave him the
THE DOCTOR SANGUINE. 29
vertigo. He riveted his eyes upon the doctor with won-
â€˜ler and admiration, and yet with fear, for he already felt
himself swinging aloft in space.
â€œCome, come,â€ said he, at last. â€œ Let us see, Samuel.
Then you have discovered the means of guiding a bal-
â€œNot by any means. That is a Utopian idea.â€
â€œThen, you will goâ€”â€
â€œ Whithersoever Providence wills; but, at all events,
from east to west.â€
â€œ Why so?â€
â€œ Because I expect to avail myself of the trade-winds,
the direction of which is always the same.â€
â€œ Ah! yes, indeed!â€ said Kennedy, reflecting; â€œthe
trade-windsâ€”yesâ€”trulyâ€”one mightâ€”thereâ€™s something
in that!â€ .
â€œSomething in itâ€”yes, my excellent friendâ€”thereâ€™s
every thing in it. The English Government has placed a
transport at my disposal, and three or four vessels are to
cruise off the western coast of Africa, about the presumed
period of my arrival. In three months, at most, I shall be
at Zanzibar, where I will inflate my balloon, and from that
point we shall launch ourselves.â€
â€œWe!â€ said Dick.
â€œTIave you still a shadow of an objection to offer ?
Speak, friend Kennedy.â€
â€œ An objection! I have a thousand; but among other
things, tell me, if you expect to see the country. If you
expect to mount and descend at pleasure, you cannot do
80, without losing your gas. Up to this time no other
means have been devised, and it is this that has always
prevented long journcys in the air.â€
â€œMy dear Dick, I have only one word to answerâ€”I
shall not lose one particle of gas.â€
â€œ And yet you can descend when you please ?â€
30 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œJT shall descend when I please.â€
* And how will you do that ?â€
â€œ Ah, ha! therein lies my secret, friend Dick. Have
faith, and let my device be yoursâ€” Excelsior !*â€
â€œÂ¢ Excelsiorâ€™ be it then,â€ said the sportsman, who did
not understand a word of Latin.
But he made up his mind to oppose his friendâ€™s depart-
ure by all means in his power, and so pretended to give
in, at the same time keeping on the watch. As for the
doctor, he went on diligently with his preparations.
African Explorations. â€”Barth, Richardson, Overweg, Werne, Brun-Rolict, Pen:
ney, Andrea, Debono, Miani, Guillaume Lejean, Bruce, Krapf and Rebmann,
Maizan, Roscher, Burton and Speke.
Tue aÃ©rial line which Dr. Ferguson counted upon fol-
lowing had not been chosen at random; his point of de-
parture had been carefully studied, and it was not without
good cause that he had resolved to ascend at the island
of Zanzibar. This island, lying near to the eastern coast
of Africa, is in the sixth degree of south latitude, that is
to say, four hundred and thirty geographical miles below
From this island the latest expedition, sent by way of
the great lakes to explore the sources of the Nile, had just
But it would be well to indicate what explorations
Dr. Ferguson hoped to link together. The two principal
ones were those of Dr. Barth in 1849, and of Lieutenants
Burton and Speke in 1858.
Dr. Barth is a Hamburger, who obtained permission
for himself and for his countryman Overweg to join the
expedition of the Englishman Richardson. The latter was
charged with a mission in the Soudan.
This vast region is situated between the fifteenth and
tenth degrees of north latitude; that is to say, that, in
order to approach it, the explorer must penetrate fifteen
hundred miles into the interior of Africa.
Until then, the country in question had been known
82 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
only through the journeys of Denham, of Clapperton, ana
of Oudney, made from 1822 to 1824. Richardson, Barth,
and Overweg, jealously anxious to push their investiga-
tions farther, arrived at Tunis and Tripoli, like their prede-
cessors, and got as far as Mourzouk, the capital of Fezzan,
They then abandoned the perpendicular line, and made
a sharp turn westward toward Ghat, guided, with difficulty,
by the Touaregs. After a thousand scenes of pillage, of
vexation, and attacks by armed forees, their caravan ar-
rived, in October, at the vast oasis of Asben. Dr. Barth
separated from his companions, made an excursion to the
town of Aghades, and rejoined the expedition, which re-
sumed its march on the 12th of December. At length it
reached the province of Damerghou; there the three trav-
ellers parted, and Barth took the road to Kano, where he
arrived by dint of perseverance, and after paying consid-
In spite of an intense fever, he quitted that place on
the 7th of March, accompanied by a single servant. The
principal aim of his journey was to reconnoitre Lake Tchad,
from which he was still three hundred and fifty miles dis-
tant. Ie therefore advanced toward the cast, and reached
the town of Zouricolo, in the Bornou country, which is the
core of the great central empire of Africa, There he heard
of the death of Richardson, who had succumbed to fatigue
and privation. Ie next arrived at Kouka, the capital of
Bornou, on the borders of the lake. Tinally, at the end
of three weeks, on the 14th of April, twelve months after
having quitted Tripoli, he reached the town of Ngornou.
We find him again setting forth on the 29th of March,
851, with Overweg, to visit the kingdom of Adamaoua,
to the south of the lake, and from there he pushed on as
faras the town of Yola, a little below nine degrees north
latitude. This was the extreme southern limit reached by
that daring traveller,
BARTHâ€™S EXPEDITION. 33
He returned in the month of August to Kouka; from
there he successively traversed the Mandara, Barghimi,
and Klanem countrics, and reached his extreme limit in
the cast, the town of Masena, situated at seventeen de-
grees twenty minutes west longitude.
On the 25th of November, 1852, after the death of
Overweg, his last companion, he plunged into the west,
visited Sockoto, crossed the Niger, and finally reached
Timbuctoo, where he had to languish, during eight long
months, under vexations inflicted upon him by the sheik,
and all kinds of ill-treatment and wretchedness. But the
presence of a Christian in the city could not long be toler-
ated, and the Foullans threatened to besiege it. The
doctor, therefore, left it on the 17th of March, 1854, and
fled to the frontier, where he remained for thirty-three
days in the most abject destitution. Ie then managed to
get back to Kano in November, thence to Kouka, where
he resumed Denhamâ€™s route after four monthsâ€™ delay. Te
regained Tripoli toward the close of August, 1855, and ar-
rived in London on the 6th of September, the only sur-
vivor of his party.
Such was the venturesome journey of Dr. Barth.
Dr. Ferguson carefully noted the fact, that he had
stopped at four degrees north latitude and seventeen de-
grees west longitude.
Now let us sce what Lieutenants Burton and Speke
accomplished in Eastern Africa.
The various expeditions that had ascended the Nile
could never manage to reach the mysterious source of that
river. According to the narrative of the German doctor,
Ferdinand Werne, the expedition attempted in 1840, under
the auspices of Mehemet Ali, stopped at Gondokoro, be-
tween the fourth and fifth parallels of north latitude.
In 1855, Brun-Roliet, a native of Savoy, appointed
consul for Sardinia in Eastern Soudan, to take the place
ot FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
of Vaudey, who had just died, set out from Karthoum,
and, under the name of Yacoub the merchant, trading in
gums and ivory, got as far as Belenia, beyond the fourth
degree, but had to return in ill-health to Karthoum, where
he died in 1857,
Neither Dr. Penneyâ€”the head of the Egyptian medical
service, who, in a small steamer, penetrated one degree be-
yond Gondokoro, and then came back to die of exhaustion
at Karthoumâ€”nor Miani, the Venetian, who, turning the
cataracts below Gondokoro, reached the second parallelâ€”
nor the Maltese trader, Andrea Debono, who pushed his
journey up the Nile still fartherâ€”could work their way
beyond the apparently impassable limit.
In 1859, M. Guillaume Lejean, intrusted with a mis-
sion by the French Government, reached Karthoum by
way of the Red Sea, and embarked upon the Nile with a
retinue of twenty-one hired men and twenty soldiers, but
he could not get past Gondokoro, and ran extreme risk of
his life among the negro tribes, who were in full revolt.
The expedition directed by M. dâ€™Escayrac de Lauture
made an equally unsuccessful attempt to reach the famous
sources of the Nile.
This fatal limit invariably brought every traveller to a
halt. In ancient times, the ambassadors of Nero reached
tne ninth degree of latitude, but in eighteen centuries only
from five to six degrees, or from three hundred to three
hundred and sixty geographical miles, were gained.
Many travellers endeavored to reach the sources of the
Nile by taking their point of departure on the eastern
coast of Africa.
Between 1768 and 1772 the Scotch traveller, Bruce,
set out from Massowah, a port of Abyssinia, traversed the
TigrÃ©, visited the ruins of Axum, saw the sources of the
Nile where they did not exist, and obtained no serious
MAIZAN, BURTON, AND SPEKE. 385
In 1844, Dr. Krapf, an Anglican missionary, founded
an establishment at Monbaz, on the coast of Zanguebar,
ard, in company with the Rev. Dr. Rebmann, discovered
two mountain-ranges three hundred miles from the coast.
These were the mountains of Kilimandjaro and Kenia,
which Messrs. de Heuglin and Thornton have partly scaled
In 1845, Maizan, the French explorer, disembarked,
alone, at Bagamayo, directly opposite to Zanzibar, and
got as far as Deje-la-Mhora, where the chief caused him
to be put to death in the most cruel torment.
In 1859, in the month of August, the young traveller,
Roscher, from Hamburg, set out with a caravan of Arab
merchants, reached Lake Nyassa, and was there assassin-
ated while he slept.
Finally, in 1857, Lieutenants Burton and Speke, both
officers in the Bengal army, were sent by the London
Geographical Society to explore the great African lakes,
and on the 17th of June they quitted Zanzibar, and
plunged directly into the west.
After four months of incredible suffering, their bag-
gage having been pillaged, and their attendants beaten
and slain, they arrived at Kazeh, a sort of central ren-
dezvous for traders and caravans. They were in the
midst of the country of the Moon, and there they collected
some precious documents concerning the manners, govern-
ment, religion, fauna, and flora of the region. They next
made for the first of the great lakes, the one named
Taganayika, situated between the third and eighth degrees
of south latitude. They reached it on the 14th of Feb-
ruary, 1858, and visited the various tribes residing on its
banks, the most of whom are cannibals.
They departed again on the 26th of May, and re-
entered Kazeh on the 20th of June. There Burton, who
was completely worn out, lay ill for several months;
36 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
during which time Speke made a push to the northward
of more than three hundred miles, going as far as Lake
Okeracua, which he came in sight of on the 3d of August;
but he could descry only the opening of it at latitude
two degrees thirty minutes.
He reached Kazeh, on his return, on the 25th of Au.
gust, and, in company with Burton, again took up the
route to Zanzibar, where they arrived in the month of
March in the following year. These two daring explorers
then reÃ©mbarked for England; and the Geographical So-
ciety of Paris decreed them its annual prize medal.
Dr. Ferguson carefully remarked that they had not
gone beyond the second degree of south latitude, nor the
twenty-ninth of cast longitude.
The problem, therefore, was how to link the explora-
tions of Burton and Speke with those of Dr. Barth, since
to do so was to undertake to traverse an extent of more
than twelve degrees of territory.
Kennedyâ€™s Dreams.â€”Articles and Pronouns in the Plural.â€”Dickâ€™s Insinuations,
-â€”A Promenade over the Map of Africa.â€”What is contained between twa
Points of the Compass.â€”Expeditions now on foot.â€”Speke and Grant.â€”Krapf,
De Decken, and De Heuglin,
Dr. Fereuson energetically pushed the preparations
for his departure, and in person superintended the con-
struction of his balloon, with certain modifications; in
regard to which he observed the most absolute silence.
For a long time past he had been applying himself to the
study of the Arab language and the various Mandingoe
idioms, and, thanks to his talents as a polyglot, he had
made rapid progress,
In the mean while his friend, the sportsman, never let
nim out of his sightâ€”afraid, no doubt, that the doctor
might take his departure, without saying a word to any-
body. On this subject, he regaled him with the most
persuasive arguments, which, however, did not persuade
Samuel Ferguson, and wasted his breath in pathetic en-
treatics, by which the latter seemed to be but slightly
moved. In fine, Dick felt that the doctor was slipping
through his fingers,
The poor Scot was really to be pitied. He could not
look upon the azure vault without a sombre terror: when
asleep, he felt oscillations that made his head reel; and
every night he had visions of being swung aloft at im-
We must add that, during these fearful nightmares,
38 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
he once or twice fell out of bed. His first care then was
to show Ferguson a severe contusion that he had re-
ceived on the cranium. â€œAnd yet,â€ he would add, with
warmth, â€œthat was at the height of only three feetâ€”not
an inch moreâ€”and such a bump as this! Only think,
This insinuation, full of sad meaning as it was, did not
seem to touch the doctorâ€™s heart.
â€œWe'll not fall,â€ was his invariable reply.
â€œ But, still, suppose that we were to fall!â€
â€œWe will not fall !â€
This was decisive, and Kennedy had nothing more to
What particularly Â¢.casperated Dick was, that the doc-
tor seemed completely to lose sight of his personalityâ€”
of hisâ€”Kennedyâ€™sâ€”and to look upon him as irrevocably
destined to become his aÃ©rial companion. Not even the
shadow of a doubt was ever suggested; and Samuel made
an intolerable misuse of the first person plural:
â€œÂ¢We? are getting along; â€˜weâ€™ shall be ready on
; â€˜weâ€™ shall start on the ,â€ etc., etc.
And then there was the singular possessive adjective :
â€œ*Qurâ€™ balloon; â€˜ourâ€™ car; â€˜ourâ€™ expedition.â€
And the same in the plural, too:
â€œ Ourâ€™ preparations; â€˜ourâ€™ discoveries; â€˜ourâ€™ ascen-
Dick shuddered at them, although he was determined
not to go; but he did not want to annoy his friend. Let
us also disclose the fact that, without knowing exactly
why himself, he had sent to Edinburgh for a certain selec-
tion of heavy clothing, and his best hunting-gear and
One day, after having admitted that, with an over-
whelming run of good-luck, there might be one chance of
success in a thousand, he pretended to yield entirely to
DICKâ€™S INSINUATIONS. 39
the doctorâ€™s wishes; but, in order to still put off the jour-
ney, he opened the most varied series of subterfuges. He
threw himself back upon questioning the utility of the
expeditionâ€”its opportuneness, etc. This discovery of the
sources of the Nile, was it likely to be of any use ?â€”Would
one have really labored for the welfare of humanity ?â€”
When, after all, the African tribes should have been civil-
ized, would they be any happier?â€”Were folks certain
that civilization had not its chosen abode there rather
than in Europe ?â€”â€”Perhaps !â€”And then, couldnâ€™t one wait
a little longer ?â€”The trip across Africa would certainly
be accomplished some day, and in a less hazardous man-
ner.â€”In another month, or in six months before the year
was over, some explorer would undoubtedly come inâ€”
These hints produced an effect exactly opposite to
what was desired or intended, and the doctor trembled
â€œ Are you willing, then, wretched Dickâ€”are you will-
ing, false friendâ€”that this glory should belong to another ?
Must I then be untrue to my past history; recoil before
obstacles that are not serious; requite with cowardly
hesitation what both the English Government and the
Royal Society of London have done for me ?â€
â€œ But,â€ resumed Kennedy, who made great use of that
â€œ But,â€ said the doctor, â€œare you not aware that my
journey is to compete with the success of the expeditions
now on foot? Donâ€™t you know that fresh explorers are
advancing toward the centre of Africa?â€
â€œListen to me, Dick, and cast your eyes over that
Dick glanced over it, with resignation.
â€œ Now, ascend the course of the Nile.â€
40 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œT have ascended it,â€ replied the Scotchman, with
â€œStop at Gondokoro.â€
And Kennedy thought to himself how easy such a trip
wasâ€”on the map!
â€œ Now, take one of the points of these dividers and let
it rest upon that place beyond which the most daring ex-
plorers have scarcely gone.â€
â€œTY have done so.â€
â€œ And now look along the coast for the island of Zanzi-
bar, in latitude six degrees south.â€
â€œJT have it.â€ :
â€œ Now, follow the same parallel Â«nd arrive at Kazeh.â€
â€œT have done so.â€
â€œ Run up again along the thirty-third degree of longi-
tude to the opening of Lake OukÃ©rÃ©ouÃ©, at the point where
Lieutenant Speke had to halt.â€
â€œTam there; a little more, and I should have tumbled
into the lake.â€
â€œVery good! Now, do you know what we have the
right to suppose, according to the information given by
the tribes that live along its shores ?â€
â€œT havenâ€™t the least idea.â€
â€œWhy, that this lake, the lower extremity of which is
in two degrees and thirty minutes, must extend also two
degrees and a half above the equator.â€
â€œ Really !â€
â€œWell from this northern extremity there flows a
stream which must necessarily join the Nile, if it be not
the Nile itselfâ€
â€œ'Fhat is, indeed, curious.â€
â€œThen, let the other point of your dividers rest upon
that extremity of Lake OukÃ©rÃ©ouÃ©,â€
â€œTt is done, friend Ferguson.â€
SPEKE AND GRANT. 41
â€œNow, how many degrees can you count between the
two points ?â€
â€œ And do you know what that means, Dick?â€ = *
â€œ Not the least in the world.â€
â€œ Why, that makes scarcely one hundred and twenty
milesâ€”in other words, a nothing.â€
â€œ Almost nothing, Samuel.â€
â€œWell, do you know what is taking place at this mo-
â€œ No, upon my honor, I do not.â€
â€œVery well, then, Pi tell you. The Geographical So-
ciety regard as very important the exploration of this lake
of which Speke caught a glimpse. Under their auspices,
Lieutenant (now Captain) Speke has associated with him
Captain Grant, of the army in India; they have put them
selves at the head of a numerousâ€™ and well-equipped expe-
dition; their mission is to ascend the lake and return to
Gondokoro; they have received a subsidy of more than
ive thousand pounds, and the Governor of the Cape of
Good Hope has placed Hottentot soldiers at their disposal ;
they set out from Zanzibar at the close of October, 1860.
In the mean while John Petherick, the English consul at
the city of Karthoum, has received about seven hundred
pounds from the forcign office; he is to equip a steamer at
Karthoum, stock it with sufficient provisions, and make his
way to Gondokoro; there, he will await Captain Spekeâ€™s
caravan, and be able to replenish its supplies to some ex-
â€œ Well planned,â€ said Kennedy.
â€œ You can easily see, then, that time presses if we are
to take part in these exploring labors. And that is not
all, since, while some are thus advancing with sure steps
to the discovery of the sources of the Nile, others are
penctrating to the very heart of Africa.â€
42 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œ On foot ?â€ said Kennedy.
â€œYes, on foot,â€ rejoined the doctor, without noticing
the insinuation. â€˜Doctor Krapf proposes to push forward,
in the west, by way of the Djob, a river lying under the
equator. Baron de Decken has already set out from
Monbaz, has reconnoitred the mountains of Kenaia and
Kilimandjaro, and is now plunging in toward the
â€œ But all this time on foot ?â€
â€œ On foot or on mules,â€
â€œExactly the same, so far as I am concerned,â€ ejacu-
â€œTastly,â€ resumed the doctor, â€œM. de Heuglin, the
Austrian vice-consul at Karthoum, has just organized a
very important expedition, the first aim of which is to
search for the traveller Vogel, who, in 1853, was sent into
the Soudan to associate himself with the labors of Dr.
Barth. In 1856, he quitted Bornou, and determined to ex-
plore the unknown country that lies between Lake Tchad
and Darfur. Nothing has been seen of him since that
time. Letters that were received in Alexandria, in 1860,
said that he was killed at the order of the King of Wadai;
but other letters, addressed by Dr. Hartmann to the travel-
lerâ€™s father, relate that, according to the recital of a fel-
latah of Bornou, Vogel was merely held as a prisoner at
Wara. All hope is not then lost. Hence, a committee
has been organized under the presidency of the Regent of
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha; my friend Petermann is its secre-
tary; a national subscription has provided for the ex-
pense of the expedition, whose strength has been increased
by the voluntary accession of several learned men, and
M. de Heuglin set out from Massowah, in the month of
June. While engaged in looking for Vogel, he is also te
explore all the country between the Nile and Lake Tchad,
that is to say, to knit together the operations of Captain
THE CANNY SCOT. 43
Speke and those of Dr. Barth, and then Africa will have
been traversed from east to west.â€ *
â€œWell,â€ said the canny Scot, â€œsince every thing is
getting on so well, whatâ€™s the use of our going down
Dr. Ferguson made no reply, but contented himself
with a significant shrug of the shoulders,
* After the departure of Dr. Ferguson, it was ascertained that M. de
Heuglin, owing to some disagreement, took a route different from the one
assigned to his expedition, the command of the latter having been trans-
ferred to Mr. Muntzinger.
A Servantâ€”match him!â€”He can sce the Satellites of Jupiter.â€”Dick and Joa
hard at itâ€”Doubt and Faith.â€”The Weighing Ceremony.â€”Joe and Welling-
ton.â€”He gets a Half-crown.
Dr. Frereuson had a servant who answered with alac-
rity to the name of Joe. He was an excellent fellow, who
testified the most absolute confidence in his master, and
the most unlimited devotion to his interests, even antici-
pating his wishes and orders, which were always intelli-
gently executed. In fine, he was a Caleb without the
growling, and a perfect pattern of constant good-humor.
Had he been made on purpose for the place, it could not
have been better done. Ferguson put himself entirely in
his hands, so far as the ordinary details of existence were
concerned, and he did well. Incomparable, whole-souled
Joe! a servant who orders your dinner; who likes what
you like; who packs your trunk, without forgetting your
socks or your linen; who has charge of your keys and your
secrets, and takes no advantage of all this!
But then, what aman the doctor was in the eyes of
this worthy Joe! With what respect and what confidence
the latter reccived all his decisions! When Ferguson had
spoken, he would be a fool who should attempt to question
the matter. Every thing he thought was exactly right ;
every thing he said, the perfection of wisdom; every thing
he ordered to be done, quite feasible; all that he under-
took, practicable; all that he accomplished, admirable.
You might have cut Joe to piecesâ€”not an agreeable
JOE'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS. 45
operation, to be sureâ€”and yet he would not have altered
his opinion of his master.
So, when the doctor conceived the project of crossing
Africa through the air, for Joe the thing was already
done ; obstacles no longer existed; from the moment when
the doctor had made up his mind to start, he had arrived
â€”along with his faithful attendant, too, for the noble fel-
low knew, without a word uttered about it, that he would
be one of the party.
Moreover, he was just the man to render the greatest
service by his intelligence and his wopderful agility. Had
the occasion arisen to name a professor of gymnastics for
the monkeys in the Zoological Garden (who are smart
enough, by-the-way !), Joe would certainly have reccived
the appointment. Leaping, climbing, almost flyingâ€”
these were all sport to him.
If Ferguson was the head and Kennedy the arm, Joe
was to be the right hand of the expedition. He had,
already, accompanied his master on several journeys, and
had a smattering of science appropriate to his condition
and style of mind, but he was especially remarkable for a
sort of mild philosophy, a charming turn of optimism. In
his sight every thing was easy, logical, natural, and, conse-
quently, he could see no use in complaining or grumbling.
Among other gifts, he possessed a strength and range
of vision that were perfectly surprising. He enjoyed, in
common with Moestlin, Keplerâ€™s professor, the rare faculty
of distinguishing the satellites of Jupiter with the naked
eye, and of counting fourteen of the stars in the group of
Pleiades, the remotest of them being only of the ninth
magnitude. He presumed none the more for that; on the
contrary, he made his bow to you, at a distance, and when
occasion arose he bravely knew how to use his eyes.
With such profound faith as Joe felt in the doctor, it
is not to be wondered at that incessant discussions sprang
46 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
up between him and Kennedy, without any lack of respect
to the latter, however.
One doubted, the other believed; one had a prudent
foresight, the other blind confidence. The doctor, how-
ever, vibrated between doubt and confidence; that is to
say, he troubled his head with neither one nor the other.
â€œWell, Mr. Kennedy,â€ Joe would say.
â€œWell, my boy?â€
â€œ'The momentâ€™s at hand. It seems that we are to sail
for the moon.â€
â€œYou mean the Mountains of the Moon, which are not
quite so far off. But, never mind, one trip is just as dan-
gerous as the other!â€
â€œDangerous! What! with a man like Dr, Ferguson?â€
â€œJT donâ€™t want to spoil your illusions, my good Joe;
but this undertaking of his is nothing more nor less than
the act of a madman, He wonâ€™t go, though!â€
â€œHe wonâ€™t go, eh? Then you havenâ€™t seen his balloon
at Mitchellâ€™s factory in the Borough?â€
â€œTl take precious good care to keep away from it!â€
â€œWell, you'll lose a fine sight, sir. What a splendid
thing it is! What a pretty shape! What a nice car!
How snug we'll feel in it!â€
â€œThen you really think of going with your master?â€
â€œ1?â€ answered Joe, with an accent of profound con-
viction, â€œWhy, â€™d go with him wherever he pleases!
Who ever heard of such a thing? Leave him to go off
alone, after weâ€™ve been all over the world together! Who
would help him, when he was tired? Who would give
him a hand in climbing over the rocks? Who would at-
tend him when he was sick? No, Mr. Kennedy, Joe will
always stick to the doctor!â€
â€œYow re a fine fellow, Joe!â€
â€œBut, then, youâ€™re coming with us!â€
â€œOh! certainly,â€ said Kennedy; â€œthat is to say, I
THE WEIGHING. 47
will go with you up to the last moment, to prevent Samuel
even then from being guilty of such an act of folly! I
will follow him as far as Zanzibar, so as to stop him there,
â€œYou'll stop nothing at all, Mr. Kennedy, with all re-
spect to you, sir. My master is no hare-brained person;
he takes a long time to think over what he means to do,
and then, when he once gets started, the Evil One himself
couldnâ€™t make him give it up.â€
â€œWell, we'll see about that.â€
â€œDonâ€™t flatter yourself, sirâ€”but then, the main thing
is, to have you with us. For a hunter like you, sir,
Africaâ€™s a great country. So, either way, you won't be
sorry for the trip.â€
â€œNo, thatâ€™s a fact, I shanâ€™t be sorry for it, if I can get
this crazy man to give up his scheme.â€
â€œ By-the-way,â€ said Joe, â€œyou know that the weighing
comes off to-day.â€
â€œThe weighingâ€”what weighing ?â€
â€œWhy, my master, and you, and J, are all to be
â€œWhat! like horse-jockeys?â€
â€œVes, like jockeys. Only, never fear, you wonâ€™t be
expected to make yourself lean, if youâ€™re found to be
heavy. You'll go as you are.â€
â€œWell, I can tell you, I am not going to let myself be
weighed,â€ said Kennedy, firmly.
â€œBut, sir, it seems that the doctorâ€™s machine requires
â€œWell, his machine will have to do without it.â€
â€œHumph! and suppose that it couldnâ€™t go up, then?â€
â€œEead! thatâ€™s all I want!â€
â€œCome! come Mr. Kennedy! My master will be send-
ing for us directly.â€
â€œT shanâ€™t go.â€
48 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œOh! now, you wonâ€™t vex the doctor in that way!â€
â€œAye! that I will.â€
â€œWell!â€ said Joe with a laugh, â€œyou say that be
cause heâ€™s not here; but when he says to your face,
â€˜Dick !? (with all respect to you, sir,) â€˜Dick, I want to
know exactly how much you weigh,â€™ you'll go, I warrant
â€œNo, I will not go!â€
At this moment the doctor entered his study, where
this discussion had been taking place; and, as he came
in, cast a glance at Kennedy, who did not feel altogether
at his ease.
â€œDick,â€ said the doctor, â€œcome with Joe; I want to
know how much you both weigh.â€
â€œYou may keep your hat on. Come!â€ And Kennedy
They repaired in company to the workshop of the
Messrs. Mitchell, where one of those so-called â€œ Romanâ€
scales was in readiness. It was necessary, by the way,
for the doctor to know the weight of his companions, so
as to fix the equilibrium of his balloon; so he made Dick
get up on the platform of the scales. The latter, without
making any resistance, said, in an undertone:
â€œOh! well, that doesnâ€™t bind me to any thing.â€
â€œOne hundred and fifty-three pounds,â€ said the doe-
tor, noting it down on his tablets.
â€œ Am I too heavy?â€
â€œWhy, no, Mr. Kennedy!â€ said Joe; â€œand then, you
know, I am light to make up for it.â€
So saying, Joe, with enthusiasm, took his place on the
scales, and very nearly upset them in his ready haste.
He struck the attitude of Wellington where he is made to
ape Achilles, at Hyde-Park entrance, and was superb ir
it, without the shield.
JOL GhkTs A HALF-CROWN. 49
â€œOne hundred and twenty pounds,â€ wrote the doctor.
â€œAh! ha!â€ said Joe, with a smile of satisfaction.
And why did he smile? He never could tell himself.
â€œTs my turn now,â€ said Fergusonâ€”and he put down
one hundred and thirty-five pounds to his own account.
â€œ All three of us,â€ said he, â€œdo not weigh much more
than four hundred pounds.â€
â€œBut, sir,â€ said Joe, â€œif it was necessary for your ex-
pedition, I could make myself thinner by twenty pounds,
by not eating so much.â€
â€œUseless, my boy!â€ replied the doctor. â€œYou may
eat as much as you like, and hereâ€™s half-a-crown to buy
you the ballast.â€
Geometrical Details.â€”Calculation of the Capacity of the Balloon.â€”The Double
Receptacle.â€”The Covering.â€”The Car.â€”The Mysterious Apparatus.â€”The
Provisions and Stores.â€”The Final Summing up.
Dr. Frreuson had long been engaged upon the details
of his expedition. It is easy to comprehend that the bal-
loonâ€”that marvellous vehicle which was to convey him
through the airâ€”was the constant object of his solicitude.
At the outset, in order not to give the balloon too
ponderous dimensions, he had decided to fill it with
hydrogen gas, which is fourteen and a half times lighter
than common air. The production of this gas is easy,
and it has given the greatest satisfaction hitherto in
The doctor, according to very accurate calculations,
found that, including the articles indispensable to his jour-
ney and his apparatus, he should have to carry a weight
of 4,000 pounds; therefore he had to find out what would
be the ascensional force of a balloon capable of raising such
a weight, and, consequently, what would be its capacity.
A weight of four thousand pounds is represented by
a displacement of the air amounting to forty-four thou- .
sand cight hundred and forty-seven cubic feet; or, in other
words, forty-four thousand eight hundred and forty-seven
cubic feet of air weigh about four thousand pounds.
By giving the balloon these cubic dimensions, and fill-
ing it with hydrogen gas, instead of common airâ€”the for-
mer being fourteen and a half times lighter and weighing
GEOMETRICAL DETAILS. 51
therefore only two hundred and seventy-six poundsâ€”a
difference of three thousand seven hundred and twenty-
four pounds in equilibrium is produced; and it is this
difference between the weight of the gas contained in the
balloon and the weight of the surrounding atmosphere
that constitutes the ascensional force of the former.
However, were the forty-four thousand eight hundred
and forty-seven cubic feet of gas of which we speak, all
introduced into the balloon, it would be entirely filled;
but that would not do, because, as the balloon continued
to mount into the more rarefied layers of the atmosphere,
the gas within would dilate, and soon burst the cover
containing it. Balloons, then, are usually only two-thirds
But the doctor, in carrying out a project known only
to himself, resolved to fill his balloon only one-half; and,
since he had to carry forty-four thousand eight hundred
and forty-seven cubic feet of gas, to give his balloon
nearly double capacity he arranged it in that elongated,
oval shape which has come to be preferred. The horizon-
tal diameter was fifty feet, and the vertical diameter
seventy-five feet. He thus obtained a spheroid, the capa-
city of which amounted, in round numbers, to ninety
thousand cubic feet.
Could Dr. Ferguson have used two balloons, his chances
of success would have been increased; for, should one
burst in the air, he could, by throwing out ballast, keep
himself up with the other. But the management of two
balloons would, necessarily, be very difficult, in view of
the problem how to keep them both at an equal ascen-
After having pondered the matter carefully, Dr. Fer-
guson, by an ingenious arrangement, combined the ad-
vantages of two balloons, without incurring their incon-
veniences. He constructed two of different sizes, and
52 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
inclosed the smaller in the larger one. Iis external bat-
loon, which had the dimensions given above, contained a
less one of the same shape, which was only forty-five feet in
horizontal, and sixty-cight feet in vertical diameter, The
capacity of this interior balloon was only sixty-seven
thousand cubic feet: it was to float in the fluid surround-
ing it. A valve opened from one balloon into the other,
and thus enabled the aÃ©ronaut to communicate with both,
This arrangement offered the advantage, that if gas
had to be let off, so as to descend, that which was in the
outer balloon would go first; and, were it completely
emptied, the smaller one would still remain intact. The
outer envelope might then be cast off as a useless encum-
brance; and the second balloon, left free to itself, would
not offer the same hold to the currents of air as a half-
inflated one must needs present.
Moreover, in case of an accident happening to the out-
side balloon, such as getting torn, for instance, the other
would remain intact.
The balloons were made of a strong but light Lyons
silk, coated with gutta percha. This gummy, resinous sub-
stance is absolutely water-proof, and also resists acids and
gas perfectly. The silk was doubled, at the upper ex-
tremity of the oval, where most of the strain would
Such an envelope as this could retain the inflating
fluid for any length of time. It weighed half a pound per
nine square feet. Hence the surface of the outside balloon
being about cleven thousand six hundred square feet, its
envelope weighed six hundred and fifty pounds. The en-
velope of the second or inner balloon, having nine thou-
sand two hundred square feet of surface, weighed only
about five hundred and ten pounds, or say eleven hundred
and sixty pounds for both.
The network that supported the car was made of very
THE CAR. 53
strong hempen cord, and the two valves were the object
of the most minute and careful attention, as the rudder of
a ship would be.
The car, which was of a circular form and fifteen feet
in diameter, was made of wicker-work, strengthened with
a slight covering of iron, and protected below by a system
of clastic springs, to deaden the shock of collision. Its
weight, along with that of the network, did not exceed
two hundred and fifty pounds.
In addition to the above, the doctor caused to be con-
structed two shect-iron chests two lines in thickness.
These were connected by means of pipes furnished with
stopcocks. He joined to these a spiral, two inches in
diameter, which terminated in two branch pieces of un-
equal length, the longer of which, however, was twenty-
five feet in height and the shorter only fifteen fect.
These sheet-iron chests were. embedded in the car in
such a way as to take up the least possible amount of
space, The spiral, which was not to be adjusted until
some future moment, was packed up, separately, along
with a very strong Buntzen electric battery. This appa-
ratus had been so ingeniously combined that it did not
weigh more than seven hundred pounds, even including
twenty-five gallons of water in another receptacle.
The instruments provided for the journey consisted of
two barometers, two thermometers, two compasses, a Sex-
tant, two chronometers, an artificial horizon, and an alta-
zimuth, to throw out the height of distant and inaccessible
The Greenwich Observatory had placed itself at the
doctorâ€™s disposal. The latter, however, did not intend to
make experiments in physics; he merely wanted to be
able to know in what direction he was passing, and to de-
termine the position of the principal rivers, mountains,
54 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
He also provided himself with three thoroughly tested
iron anchors, and a light but strong silk ladder fifty feet
He at the same time carefully weighed his stores of
provision, which consisted of tea, coffee, biscuit, salted
meat, and pemmican, a preparation which comprises many
nutritive elements in a small space. Besides a sufficient
stock of pure brandy, he arranged two water-tanks, each
of which contained twenty-two gallons.
The consumption of these articles would necessarily,
little by little, diminish the weight to be sustained, for it
must be remembered that the equilibrium of a balloon
floating in the atmosphere is extremely sensitive. The
loss of an almost insignificant weight suffices to produce a
very noticeable displacement.
Nor did the doctor forget an awning to shelter the
car, nor the coverings and blankets that were to be the
bedding of the journey, nor some fowling pieces and rifles,
with their requisite supply of powder and ball.
Here is the summing up of his various items, and their
weight, as he computed it:
Ferguson........... sets sais tees . 135 pounds.
Kennedy..... Gri ber eseasauateeye iaueiel or P1638
JOO Sysreidsatorn-0yb ater arava xs kates ~-, 120
Weight of the outside balloon... 650 â€œ
Weight of the second balloon... 510 â€œ
Car and network............... 280 â€œ
Anchors, instruments, awnings,
and sundry utensils, guns, coyv-
CLINGS, CLC... ce cece cece eee 190 =â€œ
Meat, pemmican, biscuits, tea, cof-
fee, brandy,........0...eee0% 886
Water... jcacecerceeces Â« teens - 400
Apparatus..........20065 sivenn 1006 â€œ6
Weight of the hydrogen........ 276 â€œ
Ballast sss sicswseceicies is anes 03 vs 200 Â«
WEIGHT CARRIED. 55
Such were the items of the four thousand pounds that
Dr. Ferguson proposed to carry up with him. He took
only two hundred pounds of ballast for â€œunforeseen emer-
gencies,â€ as he remarked, since otherwise he did not ex-
pect to use any, thanks to the peculiarity of his apparatus,
Joeâ€™s Importance.â€”The Commander of the Resolute.â€”Kennedyâ€™s Arsenal.â€”Mu
tual Amenities.â€”The Farewell Dinner.â€”Departure on the 2ist of February.â€”
The Doctorâ€™s Scientific Sessions.â€”Duveyrier.â€”Livingstone.â€”Details of the
AÃ©rial Voyage.â€”Kennedy silenced.
Azovur the 10th of February, the preparations were
pretty well completed; and the balloons, firmly secured,
one within the other, were altogether finished. They had
been subjected to a powerful pneumatic pressure in all
parts, and the test gave excellent evidence of their solid-
ity and of the care applied in their construction.
Joe hardly knew what he was about, with delight. He
trotted incessantly to and fro between his home in Greek
Street, and the Mitchell establishment, always full of busi-
ness, but always in the highest spirits, giving details of the
affair to people who did not even ask him, so proud was
he, above all things, of being permitted to accompany his
master, Ihave even a shrewd suspicion that what with
showing the balloon, explaining the plans and views of the
doctor, giving folks a glimpse of the latter, through a half
opened window, or pointing him out as he passed along
the strects, the clever scamp earned a few half-crowns, but
we must not find fault with him for that. He had as
much right as anybody else to speculate upon the admira-
tion and curiosity of his contemporaries,
On the 16th of February, the Resolute cast anchor near
Greenwich. She was a screw propeller of eight hundred
tons, a fast sailer, and the very vessel that had been sent
THE COMMANDER OF THE RESOLUTE. 57
out to the polar regions, to revictual the last expedition
of Sir James Ross. Her commander, Captain Bennet, had
the name of being a very amiable person, and he took a
particular interest in the doctorâ€™s expedition, having been
one of that gentlemanâ€™s admirers fora long time. Bennet
was rather a man of science than a man of war, which
did not, however, prevent his vessel from carrying four
carronades, that had never hurt any body, to be sure, but
had performed the most pacific duty in the world.
The hold of the Resolute was so arranged as to find a
stowing-place for the balloon. The latter was shipped
with the greatest precaution on the 18th of February, and
was then carefully deposited at the bottom of the vessel in
such a way as to prevent accident. The car and its ac-
cessories, the anchors, the cords, the supplies, the water-
tanks, which were to be filled on arriving, all were em-
barked and put away under Fergusonâ€™s own eyes.
Ten tons of ~ulphuric acid and ten tons of iron filings,
were put on board for the future production of the hydro-
gen gas. The quantity was more than enough, but it was
well to be provided against accident. The apparatus to
be employed in manufacturing the gas, including some
thirty empty casks, was also stowed away in the hold.
These various preparations were terminated on the
18th of February, in the evening. Two state-rooms, com-
fortably fitted up, were ready for the reception of Dr.
Ferguson and his friend Kennedy. The latter, all the
while swearing that he would not go, went on board with
a regular arsenal of hunting weapons, among which were
two double-barrelled breech-loading fowling-picces, and a
rifle that had withstood every test, of the make of Pur-
dey, Moore & Dickson, at Edinburgh. With such a weap-
on a marksman would find no difficulty in lodging a
bullet in the eye of a chamois at the distance of two thou-
sand paces. Along with these implements, he had two
58 '_-BIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
of Coltâ€™s six-shooters, for unforeseen emergencies. His
powder-case, his cartridge-pouch, his lead, and his bullets,
did not excced a certain weight prescribed by the doc-
The three travellers got themselves to rights on board
during the working-hours of February 19th. They were
received with much distinction by the captain and his
officers, the doctor continuing as reserved as ever, and
thinking of nothing but his expedition. Dick seemed a
good deal moved, but was unwilling to betray it; while
Joe was fairly dancing and breaking out in laughable re-
marks, The worthy fellow soon became the jester and.
merry-andrew of the boatswainâ€™s mess, where a berth had
been kept for him.
On the 20th, a grand farewell dinner was given to Dr.
Ferguson and Kennedy by the Royal Geographical Soci-
ety. Commander Bennet and his officers were present
at the entertainment, which was signalized by copious
libations and numerous toasts. Healths were drunk, in
sufficient abundance to guarantee all the guests a lifetime
of centuries. Sir Francis Mâ€”â€” presided, with restrained
but dignified feeling.
To his own supreme confusion, Dick Kennedy came
in for a large share in the jovial felicitations of the night.
After having drunk to the â€œintrepid Ferguson, the glory
of England,â€ they had to drink to â€œthe no less coura-
geous Kennedy, his daring companion.â€
Dick blushed a good deal, and that passed for mod-
esty ; whereupon the applause redoubled, and Dick blush-
A message from the Queen arrived while they were at
dessert. Her Majesty offered her compliments to the two
travellers, and expressed her wishes for their safe and
successful journey. This, of course, rendered imperative
fresh toasts to â€œ Her most gracious Majesty.â€
THE DEPARTURE. 59
At midnight, after touching farewells and warm shak-
ing of hands, the guests separated.
The boats of the Fesolute were in waiting at the stairs
of Westminster Bridge. The captain leaped in, accom-
panied by his officers and passengers, and the rapid cur
rent of the Thames, aiding the strong arms of the rowers,
bore them swiftly to Greenwich. In an hourâ€™s time all
were asleep on board.
The next morning, February 21st, at three oâ€™clock, the
furnaces began to roar; at five, the anchors were weighed,
and the Resolute, powerfully driven by her screw, began
to plough the water toward the mouth of the Thames,
It is needless to say that the topic of conversation with
every one on board was Dr. Fergusonâ€™s enterprise. See-
ing and hearing the doctor soon inspired everybody with
- such confidence that, in a very short time, there was no
one, excepting the incredulous Scotchman, on the steamer
who had the least doubt of the perfect feasibility and
success of the expedition.
During the long, unoccupied hours of the voyage, the
doctor held regular sittings, with lectures on geographical
science, in the officersâ€™ mess-room. These young men felt
an intense interest in the discoveries made during the last
forty years in Africa; and the doctor related to them the
explorations of Barth, Burton, Speke, and Grant, and de-
picted the wonders of this vast, mysterious country, now
thrown open on all sides to the investigations of science.
On the north, the young Duveyrier was exploring Sahara,
and bringing the chiefs of the Touaregs to Paris. Under
the inspiration of the French Government, two expeditions
were preparing, which, descending from the north, and
coming from the west, would cross each other at Tim-
buctoo. Jn the south, the indefatigable Livingstone was
still advancing toward the equator; and, since March,
1862, he had, in company with Mackenzie, ascended the
60 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
river Rovoonia. The nineteenth century would, assuredly,
not pass, contended the doctor, without Africa having
been compelled to surrender the secrets she has kept
locked up in her bosom for six thousand years.
But the interest of Dr. Fergusonâ€™s hearers was excited
to the highest pitch when he made known to them, in
detail, the preparations for his own journey. They took
pleasure in verifying his calculations; they discussed
them; and the doctor frankly took part in the discussion.
As a general thing, they were surprised at the limited
quantity of provision that he took with him; and one day
one of the officers questioned him on that subject.
â€œThat peculiar point astonishes you, does it?â€ said
â€œTt does, indeed.â€
â€œ But how long do you think my trip is going to last ?
Whole months? If so, you are greatly mistaken. Were
it to be a long one, we should be lost; we should never
get back. But you must know that the distance from
Zanzibar to the coast of Senegal is only thirty-five hun-
dredâ€”say four thousand miles. Well, at the rate of two
hundred and forty miles every twelve hours, which does
not come near the rapidity of our railroad trains, by trav-
elling day and night, it would take only seven days to
â€œBut then you could see nothing, make no geograph-
ical observations, or reconnoitre the face of the coun-
. â€œAh!â€ replied the doctor, â€œif I am master of my
balloonâ€”if I can ascend and descend at will, I shall stop
when I please, especially when too violent currents of air
threaten to carry me out of my way with them.â€
â€œ And you will encounter such,â€ said Captain Bennet.
â€œThere are tornadoes that sweep at the rate of more than
two hundred and forty miles per hour.â€
SPEED OF THE BALLOON. 61
â€œYou see, then, that with such specd as that, we could
cross Africa in twelve hours. One would rise at Zanzibar,
and go to bed at St. Louis!â€
â€œ But,â€ rejoined the officer, â€œcould any balloon with-
stand the wear and tear of such velocity ?â€
â€œTt has happened before,â€ replied Ferguson.
â€œ And the balloon withstood it?â€
â€œPerfectly well. It was at the time of the coronation
of Napoleon, in 1804. The aÃ©ronaut, Garnerin, sent up a
balloon at Paris, about eleven oâ€™clock in the evening. It
bore the following inscription, in letters of gold: â€˜Paris,
25 Frimaire; year XIII; Coronation of the Emperor Na-
poleon by his Holiness, Pius VILâ€™ On the next morning,
the inhabitants of Rome saw the same balloon soaring
above the Vatican, whence it crossed the Campagna, and
finally fluttered down into the lake of Bracciano. So you
see, gentlemen, that a balloon can resist such velocities.â€
â€œ A balloonâ€”that might be; but a man?â€ insinuated
â€œYes, a man, too !â€”for the balloon is always motion-
less with reference to the air that surrounds it. What
moves is the mass of the atmosphere itself: for instance,
one may light a taper in the car, and the flame will not
even waver. An aÃ©ronaut in Garnerinâ€™s balloon would not
have suffered in the least from the speed. But then I
have no occasion to attempt such velocity; and if I can
anchor to some tree, or some favorable inequality of the
ground, at night, I shall not fail to do so. Besides, we
take provision for two months with us, after all; and there
is nothing to prevent our skilful huntsman here from fur-
nishing game in abundance when we come to alight.â€
â€œAh! Mr, Kennedy,â€ said a young midshipman, with
envious eyes, â€œwhat splendid shots you'll have!â€
â€œWithout counting,â€ said another â€œthat you'll have
the glory as well as the sport!â€
62 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œ Gentlemen,â€ replied the hunter, stammering with
confusion, â€œI greatlyâ€”appreciateâ€”your complimentsâ€”
but theyâ€”donâ€™tâ€”belong to me.â€
â€œYou!â€ exclaimed every body, â€œdonâ€™t you intend to
go 2 0
â€œTam not going!â€
â€œ You wonâ€™t accompany Dr. Ferguson?â€
â€œNot only shall I not accompany him, but I am here
s0 as to be present at the last moment to prevent his
Every eye was now turned to the doctor.
â€œNever mind him!â€ said the latter, calmly. â€œ This is
a matter that we canâ€™t argue with him. At heart he knows
perfectly well that he Ã©s going.â€
â€œ By Saint Andrew!â€ said Kennedy, â€œI swearâ€”â€
â€œSwear to nothing, friend Dick; you have been
gauged and weighedâ€”you and your powder, your guns,
and your bullets; so donâ€™t let us say anything more about
And, in fact, from that day until the arrivai at Zanzi-
bar, Dick never opened his mouth. Te talked neither
about that nor about anything else. He kept avsulutcly
They double the Cape.â€”The Forecastle.â€”A Course of Cosmography by Pro-
fessor Joe.â€”Concerning the Method of guiding Balloons.â€”How to seek out
Tue Zesolute plunged along rapidly toward the Cape
of Good Hope, the weather continuing fine, although the
sea ran heavier. 7
On the 30th of March, twenty-seven days after the de-
parture from London, the Table Mountain loomed up on
the horizon. Cape City lying at the foot of an amphi-
theatre of hills, could be distinguished through the shipâ€™s
glasses, and soon the Jtesofute cast anchor in the port.
But the captain touched there only to replenish his coal
buukers, and that was but a dayâ€™s job. On the morrow,
he steered away to the southâ€™ard, so as to double the
southernmost point of Africa, and enter the Mozambique
This was not Joeâ€™s first sea-voyage, and so, for his
part, he soon found himself at home on board; every body
liked him for his frankness and good-humor. A consider-
able share of his masterâ€™s renown was reflected upon him.
Ye was listened to as an oracle, and he made no more
mistakes than the next one.
So, while the doctor was pursuing his descriptive
course of lecturing in the officersâ€™ mess, Joe reigned su-
preme on the forecastle, holding forth in his own peculiar
manner, and making history to suit himselfâ€”a style of
64 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
procedure pursued, by the way, by the greatest historians
of all ages and nations.
The topic of discourse was, naturally, the aÃ©rial voyage.
Joe had experienced some trouble in getting the rebellious
spirits to believe in it; but, once accepted by them, no-
thing connected with it was any longer an impossibility
to the imaginations of the seamen stimulated by Joeâ€™s
Our dazzling narrator persuaded his hearers that, after
this trip, many others still more wonderful would be under-
taken. In fact, it was to be but the first of a long series
of superhuman expeditions,
â€œ You see, my friends, when a man has had a taste of
that kind of travelling, he canâ€™t get along afterward with
any other; so, on our next expedition, instead of going
off to one side, we'll go right ahead, going up, too, all the
â€œTWumph! then yowll go to the moon!â€ said one of
the crowd, with a stare of amazement.
â€œNo the moon!â€ exclaimed Joe, â€œTo the moon! pooht
thatâ€™s too common. Every body might go to the moon,
that way. Besides, thereâ€™s no water there, and you have
to carry such a lot of it along with you. Then you have
to take air along in bottles, so as to breathe.â€
â€œAy! ay! thatâ€™s all right! But can a man get a
drop of the real stuff there?â€ said a sailor who liked his
â€œ Not a drop!â€ was Joeâ€™s answer. â€œNo! old fellow,
notin the moon. But weâ€™re going to skip round among
those little twinklers up thereâ€”the starsâ€”and the splen-
did planets that my old man so often talks about. For
instance, we'll commence with Saturnâ€”â€
â€œThat one with the ring?â€ asked the boatswain.
â€œYes! the wedding-ringâ€”only no one knows whatâ€™s
become of his wife!â€
COSMOGRAPHY BY PROFESSOR JOE. 65
â€œWhat ? will you go so high up as that?â€ said one of
the ship-boys, gaping with wonder. â€œWhy, your master
must be Old Nick himself.â€
â€œOh! no, heâ€™s too good for that.â€
â€œ But, after Saturnâ€”what then?â€ was the next inquiry
of his impatient audience.
â€œ After Saturn? Well, weâ€™ll visit Jupiter. A funny
place that is, too, where the days are only nine hours and
a half longâ€”a good thing for the lazy fellowsâ€”and the
years, would you believe itâ€”last twelve of ours, which is
fine for folks who have only six months to live. They get
off a little longer by that.â€
â€œTwelve years!â€ ejaculated the boy.
â€œYes, my youngster; so that in that country you'd be
toddling after your mammy yet, and that old chap yonder,
who looks about fifty, would only be alittle shaver of four
and a half.â€
. â€œBlazes! thatâ€™s a good â€™un!â€ shouted the whole fore-
â€œSolemn truth!â€ said Joe, stoutly.
â€œBut what can you expect ? When people will stay in
this world, they learn nothing and keep as ignorant as
bears. But just come along to Jupiter and you'll see.
But they have to look out up there, for heâ€™s got satellites
that are not just the easiest things to pass.â€
All the men laughed, but they more than half believed
him. Then he went on to talk about Neptune, where sea-
faring men get a jovial reception, and Mars, where the
nulitary get the best of the sidewalk to such an extent
that folks can hardly stand it. Finally, he drew them a
teavenly picture of the delights of Venus.
â€œ And when we get back from that expedition,â€ said
the indefatigable narrator, â€œtheyll decorate us with the
Southern Cross that shines up there in the Creatorâ€™s button
66 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œ Ay, and yowd have well earned it!â€ said the
Thus passed the long evenings on the forecastle in
merry chat, and during the same time the doctor went on
with his instructive discourses.
One day the conversation turned upon the means of
directing balloons, and the doctor was asked his opinion
â€œTJ donâ€™t think,â€ said he, â€œ that we shall succeed in find-
ing out a system of directing them. Jam familiar with
all the plans attempted and proposed, and not one has
succeeded, not one is practicable. You may readily under-
stand that I have occupied my mind with this subject,
which was, necessarily, so interesting to me, but I have
not been able to solve the problem with the appliances
now known to mechanical science. We would have to
discover a motive power of extraordinary force, and al-
most impossible lightness of machinery. And, even then,
we could not resist atmospheric currents of any consider-
able strength. Until now, the effort has been rather to
direct the car than the balloon, and that has been one
â€œStill there are many points of resemblance between a
balloon and a ship which is directed at will.â€
â€œ Not at all,â€ retorted the doctor, â€œ there is little or no
similarity between the two cases. Air is infinitely less
dense than water, in which the ship is only half submerged,
while the whole bulk of a balloon is plunged in the atmos-
phere, and remains motionless with reference to the element
that surrounds it.â€
â€œYou think, then, that aÃ©rostatic science has said its
â€œ Not at all! not at all! But we must look for another
point in the case, and if we cannot manage to guide our
balloon, we must, at least, try to keep it in favorable aÃ©rial
ASCENDING AND DESCENDING. 67
currents. In proportion as we ascend, the latter become
much more uniform and flow more constantly in one diree-
tion. They are no longer disturbed by the mountains and
valleys that traverse the surface of the globe, and these,
you know, are the chicf cause of the variations of the wind
and the inequality of their force. Therefore, these zones
having been once determined, the balloon will merely have
to be placed in the currents best adapted to its destina-
â€œBut then,â€ continaied Captain Bennet, â€œin order to
reach them, you-must keep constantly ascending or de-
scending. That is the real difficulty, doctor.â€
â€œ And why, my dear captain ?â€
â€œLet us understand one another. Jt would be a difi-
culty and an obstacle only for long journeys, and not for
short aÃ©rial excursions.â€
â€œ And why so, if you please?â€
â€œ Because you can ascend only by throwing out ballast ;
you can descend only after letting off gas, and by these
processes your ballast and your gas are soon exhausted.â€
â€œMy dear sir, thatâ€™s the whole question, There is the
only difficulty that science need now scek to overcome.
The problem is not how to guide the balloon, but how to
take it up and down without expending the gas which is
its strength, its life-blood, its soul, if I may use the expres-
â€œYou are right, my dear doctor; but this problem is
not yet solved; this means has not yet been discovered.â€
â€œT beg your pardon, it has been discovered.â€
ce By me ! ?
â€œYou may readily believe that otherwise I should not
have risked this expedition across Africa ina balloon, In
twenty-four hours I should have been without gas!â€
68 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œ But you said nothing about that in England?â€
â€œNo! Idid not want to have myself overhauled in
public. Isawno use in that. I made my preparatory ex-
periments in secret and was satisfied. I have no occasion,
then, to learn any thing more from them.â€
â€œWell! doctor, would it be proper to ask what is
â€œHere it is, gentlemenâ€”the simplest thing in the
The attention of his auditory was now directed to the
doctor in the utmost degree as he quietly proceeded with
Former Experiments.â€”The Doctor's Five Receptacles.â€”The Gas Cylinder.â€”
The Calorifere.â€”The System of Manceuvring.â€”Success certain.
â€œTu attempt has often been made, gentlemen,â€ said
the doctor, â€œto rise and descend at will, without losing
ballast or gas from the balloon. A French aÃ©ronaut, M.
Meunier, tried to accomplish this by compressing air in an
inner receptacle. A Belgian, Dr. Van Hecke, by means
of wings and paddles, obtained a vertical power that would
have sufficed in most cases, but the practical results se-
cured from these experiments have been insignificant.
â€œJT therefore resolved to go about the thing more di-
rectly ; so, at the start, I dispensed with ballast altogether,
excepting as a provision for cases of special emergency,
such as the breakage of my apparatus, or the necessity of
ascending very suddenly, so as to avoid unforeseen ob-
â€œMy means of ascent and descent consist simply in di-
lating or contracting the gas that is in the balloon by the
application of different temperatures, and here is the
method of obtaining that result.
â€œYou saw me bring on board with the car several
cases or receptacles, the use of which you may not have
understood. They are five in number,
â€œThe first contains about twenty-five gallons of water,
to which I add a few drops of sulphuric acid, so as to aug-
ment its capacity as a conductor of electricity, and then I
70 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
decompose it by means of a powerful Buntzen battery.
Water, as you know, consists of two parts of hydrogen to
one of oxygen gas.
â€œThe latter, through the action of the battery, passes
at its positive pale into the second receptacle. A third
receptacle, placed above the second one, and of double its
capacity, receives the hydrogen passing into it by the
â€œStopcocks, of which one has an eis twice the size
of the other, communicate between these receptacles and
a fourth one, which is called the miature reservoir, since in
it the two gases obtained by the decomposition of the
water do really commingle. The capacity of this fourth
tank is about forty-one cubic feet.
â€œOn the upper part of this tank is a platinum tube pro-
vided with a stopcock.
â€œYou will now readily understand, gentlemen, the ap-
paratus that I have described to you is really a gas cylin-
der and blow-pipe for oxygen and hydrogen, the heat of
which exceeds that of a forge fire.
â€œThis much established, I proceed to the second part
of my apparatus. Jfrom the lowest part of my balloon,
which is hermetically closed, issue two tubes a little dis-
tance apart. The one starts among the upper layers of the
hydrogen gas, the other amid the lower layers.
â€œThese two pipes are provided at intervals with strong
jointings of india-rubber, which enable them to move in
harmony with the oscillations of the balloon.
â€œBoth of them run down as far as the car, and lose
themselves in an iron receptacle of cylindrical form, which
is called the heat-tank, The latter is closed at its two
ends by two strong plates of the same metal.
â€œThe pipe running from the lower part of the balloon
runs into this cylindrical receptacle through the lower
plate; it penetrates the latter and then takes the form of
THE CALORIFERE. 1
a helicoidal or screw-shaped spiral, the rings of which,
rising one over the other, occupy nearly the whole of the
height of the tank. Before again issuing from it, this spi-
ral runs into a small cone with a concave base, that is
turned downward in the shape of a spherical cap.
â€œTt is from the top of this cone that the second pipe
issues, and it runs, as I have said, into the upper beds of
â€œThe spherical cap of the small cone is of platinum, so
as not to melt by the action of the cylinder and blow-pipe,
for the latter are placed upon the bottom of the iron tank
in the midst of the helicoidal spiral, and the extremity of
their flame will slightly touch the cap in question.
â€œYou all know, gentlemen, what a calorifere, to heat
apartments, is. You know how it acts. The air of the
apartments is forced to pass through its pipes, and is then
released with a heightened temperature. Well, what I
have just described to you is nothing more nor less than a
â€œIn fact, what is it that takes place? The cylinder
once lighted, the hydrogen in the spiral and in the con-
cave cone becomes heated, and rapidly ascends through
the pipe that leads to the upper part of the balloon. A
vacuum is created below, and it attracts the gas in the
lower parts; this becomes heated in its turn, and is con-
tinually replaced; thus, an extremely rapid current of gas
is established in the pipes and in the spiral, which issues
from the balloon and then returns to it, and is heated over
â€œ Now, the gases increase ;1, of their volume for each
degree of heat applied. If, then, I force the temperature
18 degrees, the hydrogen of the balloon will dilate #8, or
1614 cubic feet, and will, therefore, displace 1614 more
cubic feet of air, which will increase its ascensional power
by 160 pounds. This is equivalent to throwing out that
72 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
weight of ballast. If I augment the temperature by 180
degrees, the gas will dilate 18% and will displace 16,740
cubic feet more, and its ascensional force will be augmented
by 1,600 pounds.
â€œThus, you see, gentlemen, that I can easily effect
very considerable changes of equilibrium. The volume of
the balloon has been calculated in such manner that, when
half inflated, it displaces a weight of air exactly equal to
that of the envelope containing the hydrogen gas, and of
the car occupied by the passengers, and all its apparatus
and accessories. At this point of inflation, it is in exact
equilibrium with the air, and neither mounts nor descends.
â€œIn order, then, to effect an ascent, I give the gas a
temperature superior to the temperature of the surround-
ing air by means of my cylinder. By this excess of heat
it obtains a larger distention, and inflates the balloon
more. The latter, then, ascends in proportion as I heat
â€œThe descent, of course, is effected by lowering the
heat of the cylinder, and letting the temperature abate.
The ascent would be, usually, more rapid than the descent ;
put that is a fortunate circumstance, since it is of no im-
portance to me to descend rapidly, while, on the other
hand, it is by a very rapid ascent that I avoid obstacles.
The real danger lurks below, and not above.
â€œ Besides, as I have said, I have a certain quantity of
ballast, which will enable me to ascend more rapidly still,
when necessary. My valve, at the top of the balloon, is
nothing more nor less than a safety-valve. The balloon
always retains the same quantity of hydrogen, and the
variations of temperature that I produce in the midst of
this shut-up gas are, of themselves, sufficient to provide
for all these ascending and descending movements.
â€œNow, gentlemen, as a practical detail, let me add
FERGUSONâ€™S SECRET. "3
â€œThe combustion of the hydrogen and of the oxygen
at the point of the cylinder produces solely the vapor or
steam of water. I have, therefore, provided the lower
part of the cylindrical iron box with a scape-pipe, with a
valve operating by means of a pressure of two atmos-
pheres; consequently, so soon as this amount of pressure
is attained, the steam escapes of itself.
â€œWere are the exact figures: 25 gallons of water,
separated into its constituent elements, yield 200 pounds
of oxygen and 25 pounds of hydrogen, This represents,
at atmospheric tension, 1,890 cubic feet of the former and
3,780 cubic feet of the latter, or 5,670 cubic feet, in all, of
the mixture. Hence, the stopcock of my cylinder, when
fully open, expends 27 cubic feet per hour, with a flame at
least six times as strong as that of the large lamps used
for lighting streets. On an average, then, and in order to
keep myself at a very moderate elevation, I should not
burn more than nine cubic feet per hour, so that my
twenty-five gallons of water represent six hundred and
thirty-six hours of aÃ©rial navigation, or a little more than
â€œWell, as I can descend when I please, to replenish my
stock of water on the way, my trip might be indefinitely
â€œSuch, gentlemen, is my secret. It is simple, and,
like most simple things, it cannot fail to succeed. The
dilation and contraction of the gas in the balloon is my
means of locomotion, which calls for neither cumbersome
wings, nor any other mechanical motor. A calorifere to
produce the changes of temperature, and a cylinder to
generate the heat, are neither inconvenient nor heavy. I
think, therefore, that I have combined all the elements of
Dr. Ferguson here terminated his discourse, and was
TA FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
most heartily applauded. There was not an objection ta
make to it; all had been foreseen and decided.
â€œHowever,â€ said the captain, â€œthe thing may prove
â€œWhat matters that,â€ replied the doctor, â€œ provided
that it be practicable?â€
The Arrival at Zanzibar.â€”The English Consnl.â€”Hl-will of the nhabitants.--The
Island of Koumbeni.â€”The Rain-Makers.â€”Inflation of the Balloon.â€”Depart-
ure on the 18th of April.â€”The last Good-by.â€”The Victoria.
Aw invariably favorable wind had accelerated the
progress of the Resolute toward the place of her destina-
tion. The navigation of the Mozambique Channel was
especially calm and pleasant. The agreeable character of
the trip by sea was regarded as a good omen of the prob-
able issue of the trip through the air. Every one looked
forward to the hour of arrival, and sought to give the last
touch to the doctorâ€™s preparations.
At length the vessel hove in sight of the town of Zan-
zibar, upon the island of the same name, and, on the 15th
of April, at 11 oâ€™clock in the morning, she anchored in the
The island of Zanzibar belongs to the Imaum of Mus-
cat, an ally of France and England, and is, undoubtedly,
his finest settlement. The port is frequented by a great
many vessels from the neighboring countries.
The island is separated from the African coast only by
a channel, the greatest width of which is but thirty miles.
It has a large trade in gums, ivory, and, above all, in
â€œebony,â€ for Zanzibar is the great slave-market. Thither
converges all the booty captured in the battles which the
chiefs of the interior are continually fighting. This traffic
extends along the whole eastern coast, and as far as the
76 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Nile latitudes. Mr. G. Lejean even reports that he has
seen it carried on, openly, under the French flag.
Upon the arrival of the Resolute, the English consul at
Zanzibar came on board to offer his services to the doctor,
of whose projects the European newspapers had made him
aware for a month past. But, up to that moment, he had
remained with the numerous phalanx of the incredulous.
â€œT doubted,â€ said he, holding out his hand to Dr. Fer-
guson, â€œbut now I doubt no longer.â€
He invited the doctor, Kennedy, and the faithful Joe,
of course, to his own dwelling. Through his courtesy,
the doctor was enabled to have knowledge of the various
letters that he had received from Captain Speke. The
captain and his companions had suffered dreadfully from
hunger and bad weather before reaching the Ugogo coun-
try. They could advance only with extreme difficulty,
and did not expect to be able to communicate again for
a long time.
â€œThose are perils and privations which we shall man-
age to avoid,â€ said the doctor.
The baggage of the three travellers was conveyed to
the consulâ€™s residence. Arrangements were made for dis-
embarking the balloon upon the beach at Zanzibar. There
was a convenient spot, near the signal-mast, close by an
immense building, that would serve to shelter it from the
east winds. This huge tower, resembling a tun standing
on one end, beside which the. famous Heidelberg tun
would have seemed but a very ordinary barrel, served as
a fortification, and on its platform were stationed Be-
lootchees, armed with lances. These Belootchees are a
kind of brawling, good-for-nothing Janizaries.
But, when about to land the balloon, the consul was
informed that the population of the island would oppose
their doing so by force. Nothing is so blind as fanatical
passion. The news of the arrival of a Christian, who was
to ascerd into the air, was received with rage. The
negroes, more exasperated than the Arabs, saw in this
project an attack upon their religion. They took it into
their heads that some mischief was meant to the sun and
the moon. Now, these two luminaries are objects of
veneration to the African tribes, and they determined to
oppose so sacrilegious an enterprise.
The consul, informed of their intentions, conferred with
Dr. Ferguson and Captain Bennet on the subject. The
latter was unwilling to yield to threats, but his friend
dissuaded him from any idea of viclent retaliation.
â€œWe shall certainly come out winners,â€ he said.
â€œEven the imaumâ€™s soldiers will lend us a hand, if we
need it. But, my dear captain, an accident may happen
in a moment, and it would require but one unlucky blow
to do the balloon an irreparable injury, so that the trip
would be totally defeated; therefore we must act with
the greatest caution.â€
â€œ But what are we to do? If we land on the coast of
Africa, we shall encounter the same difficulties. What
are we to do?â€
â€œâ€˜ Nothing is more simple,â€ replied the consul. â€œYou
observe those small islands outside of the port; land your
balloon on one of them; surround it with a guard of
sailors, and you will have no risk to run.â€
â€œJust the thing!â€ said the doctor, â€œand we shall be
entirely at our ease in completing our preparations.â€
The captain yielded to these suggestions, and the
Resolute was headed for the island of Koumbeni. During
the morning of the 16th April, the balloon was placed in
safety in the middle of a clearing in the great woods,
with which the soil is studded.
Two masts, eighty feet in height, were raised at the
same distance from each other. Blocks and tackle, placed
at their extremities, afforded the means of elevating the
"8 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
balloon, by the aid of a transverse rope. It was then en-
tirely uninflated. The interior balloon was fastened to
the exterior one, in such manner as to be lifted up in the
same way. To the lower end of each balloon were fixed
the pipes that served to introduce the hydrogen gas.
The whole day, on the 17th, was spent in arranging
the apparatus destined to produce the gas; it consisted
of some thirty casks, in which the decomposition of water
was effected by means of iron-filings and sulphuric acid
placed together in a large quantity of the first-named
fluid, The hydrogen passed into a huge central cask,
after having been washed on the way, and thence into
each balloon by the conduit-pipes. In this manner each
of them received a certain accurately-ascertained quantity
of gas. For this purpose, there had to be employed
eighteen hundred and sixty-six pounds of sulphuric acid,
sixteen thousand and fifty pounds of iron, and nine thou-
sand one hundred and sixty-six gallons of water. This
operation commenced on the following night, about three
AM., and lasted nearly eight hours. The next day, the
balloon, covered with its network, undulated gracefully
above its car, which was held to the ground by numerous
sacks of earth. The inflating apparatus was put together
with extreme care, and the pipes issuing from the balloon
were securely fitted to the cylindrical case,
The anchors, the cordage, the instruments, the travel-
ling-wraps, the awning, the provisions, and the arms, were
put in the place assigned to them in the car. The supply
of water was procured at Zanzibar. The two hundred
pounds of ballast were distributed in fifty bags placed at
the bottom of the car, but within armâ€™s-reach.
These preparations were concluded about five oâ€™clock
in the evening, while sentinels kept close watch around
the island, and the boats of the Resolute patrolled the
THE FAREWELL. REPAST. 79
The blacks continued to show their displeasure by
grimaces and contortions, Their obi-men, or wizards,
went up and down among the angry throngs, pouring
fuel on the flame of their fanaticism; and some of the
excited wretches, more furious and daring than the rest,
attempted to get to the island by swimming, but they
were easily driven off.
Thereupon the sorceries and incantations commenced ;
the â€œrain-makers,â€ who pretend to have control over the
clouds, invoked the storms and the â€œstone-showers,â€ as
the blacks call hail, to their aid. To compel them to do
so, they plucked leaves of all the different trees that grow
in that country, and boiled them over a slow fire, while,
at the same time, a sheep was killed by thrusting a long
needle into its heart. But, in spite of all their ceremonies,
the sky remained clear and beautiful, and they profited
nothing by their slaughtered sheep and their ugly grimaces.
The blacks then abandoned themselves to the most
furious orgies, and got fearfully drunk on â€œtembo,â€ a
kind of ardent spirits drawn from the cocoa-nut tree, and
an extremely heady sort of beer called â€œtogwa.â€ Their
chants, which were destitute of all melody, but were sung
in excellent time, continued until far into the night.
About six oâ€™clock in the evening, the captain assem-
bled the travellers and the officers of the ship at a farewell
repast in his cabin. Kennedy, whom nobody ventured to
question now, sat with his eyes riveted on Dr. Ferguson,
murmuring indistinguishable words. In other respects,
the dinner was a gloomy one. The approach of the final
moment filled everybody with the most serious reflections.
What had fate in store for these daring adventurers ?
Should they ever again find themselves in the midst of
their friends, or seated at the domestic hearth? Were
their travelling apparatus to fail, what would become of
them, among those ferocious savage tribes, in regions that
80 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
had never been explored, and in the midst of boundless
Such thoughts as these, which had been dim and vague
until then, or but slightly regarded when they came up,
returned upon their excited fancies with intense force at
this parting moment. Dr. Ferguson, still cold and impas-
sible, talked of this, that, and the other; but he strove
in vain to overcome this infectious gloominess. He ut-
As some demonstration against the personal safety of
the doctor and his companions was feared, all three slept
that night on board the Resolute. At six oâ€™clock in the
morning they left their cabin, and landed on the island of
The balloon was swaying gently to and fro in the
morning breeze; the sand-bags that had held it down
were now replaced by some twenty strong-armed sailors,
and Captain Bennet and his officers were present to wit-
ness the solemn departure of their friends.
At this moment Kennedy went right up to the doctor,
grasped his hand, and said :
â€œSamuel, have you absolutely determined to go?â€
â€œSolemnly determined, my dear Dick.â€
â€œJT have done every thing that I could to prevent this
expedition, have I not?â€
â€œ Every thing!â€
â€œWell, then, my conscience is clear on that score, and
I will go with you.â€
â€œJT was sure you would!â€ said the doctor, betraying
in his features swift traces of emotion.
At last the moment of final leave-taking arrived. The
captain and his officers embraced their dauntless friends
with great feeling, not excepting even Joe, who, worthy
fellow, was as proud and happy as a prince. Every one
in the party insisted upon having a final shake of the
CHRISTENING THE BALLOON. 81
At nine oâ€™clock the three travellers got into their car.
The doctor lit the combustible in his cylinder and turned
the flame so as to produce a rapid heat, and the balloon,
which had rested on the ground in perfect equipoise, began
to rise in a few minutes, so that tue seamen had to slacken
the ropes they held it by. The car then rose about twenty
feet above their heads.
â€œMy friends!â€ exclaimed the doctor, standing up be-
tween his two companions, and taking off his hat, â€œlet us
give our aÃ©rial ship a name that will bring her good luck!
let us christen her Victoria!â€
This speech was answered with stentorian cheers of
â€œâ€˜Huzza for the Queen! WHuzza for Old England!â€
At this moment the ascensional force of the balloon
increased prodigiously, and Ferguson, Kennedy, and Joe,
waved a last good-by to their friends.
â€œTet go all!â€ shouted the doctor, and at the word the
Victoria shot rapidly up into the sky, while the four car-
ronades on board the Aesolute thundered forth a parting
salute in her honor.
Crossing the Straitâ€”-The Mrima.â€”Dickâ€™s Remark and Joeâ€™s Proposition.â€”A
Recipe for Coffee-makingâ€”The Uzaramo.â€”The Unfortunate Maizan.â€”
Mount Duthumi.â€”The Doctorâ€™s Cards.â€”Night under a Nopal.
Tue air was pure, the wind moderate, and the balloon
ascended almost perpendicularly to a height of fifteen
hundred feet, as indicated by a depression of two inches
in the barometric column.
At this height a more decided current carried the
balloon toward the southwest. What a magnificent spec-
tacle was then outspread beneath the gaze of the travellers !
The island of Zanzibar could be seen in its entire extent,
marked out by its deeper color upon a vast planisphere ;
the fields had the appearance of patterns of different col-
ors, and thick clumps of green indicated the groves and
The inhabitants of the island looked no larger than
insects. The huzzaing and shouting were little by little
lost in the distance, and only the discharge of â€˜the shipâ€™s
guns could be heard in the concavity beneath the balloon,
as the latter sped on its flight.
â€œ How fine that is!â€ said Joe, breaking silence. for the
He got no reply. The doctor was busy observing the
variations of the barometer and noting down the details
of his ascent.
Kennedy looked on, and had not eyes enough to take
in all that he saw.
THE IRREPRESSIBLE JOE. 33
The rays of the sun coming to the aid of the heating
cylinder, the tension of the gas increased, and the Victoria
attained the height of twenty-five hundred feet.
The Resolute looked like a mere cockle-shell, and the
African coast could be distinctly seen in the west marked
out by a fringe of foam.
â€œYou donâ€™t talk?â€ said Joe, again.
â€œWe are looking!â€ said the doctor, directing his spy-
glass toward the mainland.
â€œFor my part, I must talk!â€
â€œAs much as you please, JÃ©e; talk as much as you
And Joe went on alone with a tremendous volley of
exclamations. The â€œohs!â€ and the â€œahs!â€ exploded one
after the other, incessantly, from his lips.
During his passage over the sea the doctor deemed it
best to keep at his present elevation. He could thus
reconnoitre a greater stretch of the coast. The thermom-
eter and the barometer, hanging up inside of the halfÃ©
opened awning, were always within sight, and a secÃ©nd
barometer suspended outside was to serve during the night
At the end of about two hours the Victoria, driven
along at a speed of a little more than cight miles, very
visibly neared the coast of the mainland. The doctor,
thereupon, determined to descend a little nearer to the
ground, So he moderated the flame of his cylinder, and
the balloon, ina few moments, had descended to an alti-
tude only three hundred feet above the soil.
It was then found to be passing just over the Mrima
country, the name of this part of the eastern coast of
Africa. Dense borders of mango-trees protected its mar-
gin, and the ebb-tide disclosed to view their thick roots,
chafed and gnawed by the teeth of the Indian Ocean. The
sands which, at an earlier period, formed the coast-linc,
84 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
rounded away along the distant horizon, and Mount
Nguru reared aloft its sharp summit in the northwest.
The Victoria passed near to a village which the doctor
found marked upon his chart as Kaole. Its entire popula-
tion had assembled in crowds, and were yelling with anger
and fear, at the same time vainly directing their arrows
against this monster of the air that swept along so majes-
tically away above all their powerless fury.
The wind was setting to the southward, but the doctor
felt no concern on that score, since it enabled him the
better to follow the route traced by Captains Burton and
Kennedy had, at length, become as talkative as Joe,
and the two kept up a continual interchange of admiring
interjections and exclamations,
â€œ Out upon stage-coaches!â€ said one,
â€œSteamers indeed!â€ said the other.
â€œRailroads ! ch? rubbish!â€™ put in Kennedy, â€œthat
you travel on, without seeing the country!â€
â€œBalloons! theyâ€™re the sort for me!â€ Joe would add.
â€œWhy, you donâ€™t feel yourself going, and Nature takes
the trouble to spread herself out before oneâ€™s eyes!â€
â€œ What a splendid sight! What a spectacle! What
a delight ! a dream in a hammock!â€
â€œSuppose we take our breakfast ?â€? was Joeâ€™s unpoeti-
cal change of tune, at last, for the keen, open air had
mightily sharpened his appetite.
â€œ Good idea, my boy !â€
â€œOh! it wonâ€™t take us long to do the cookingâ€”biscuit
and potted meat ?â€
â€œ And as much coffee as you like,â€ said the doctor. â€œI
give you leave to borrow a little heat from my cylinder.
Thereâ€™s enough and to spare, for that matter, and so we
shall avoid the risk of a conflagration.â€
â€œThat would be a dreadful misfortune!â€ ejaculated
THE FIRST BREAKFAST. 85
Kennedy. â€œItâ€™s the same as a powder-magazine sus-
pended over our heads,â€
â€œNot precisely,â€ said Ferguson, â€œ but still if the gas
were to take fire it would burn up gradually, and we
should settle down on the ground, which would be dis-
agreeable; but never fearâ€”our balloon is hermetically
â€œ Let us eat a bite, then,â€ replied Kennedy.
â€œWow, gentlemen,â€ put in Joe, â€œ while doing the same
as you, â€™'m going to get you up a cup of coffee that I
think youâ€™ll have something to say about.â€
â€œThe fact is,â€ added the doctor, â€œthat Joe, along with
a thousand other virtues, has a remarkable talent for the
preparation of that delicious beverage: he compounds it
of a mixture of various origin, but he never would reveal
to me the ingredients.â€
â€œ Well, master, since we are so far above-ground, I can
tell you the secret. It is just to mix equal quantities of
Mocha, of Bourbon coffee, and of Rio Nunez.â€
A few moments later, three steaming cups of coffee
were served, and topped off'a substantial breakfast, which
was additionally seasoned by the jokes and repartees of
the guests. Each one then resumed his post of observa-
The country over which they were passing was re-
markable for its fertility. Narrow, winding paths plunged
in beneath the overarching verdure. They swept along
above cultivated fields of tobacco, maize, and barley, at
full maturity, and here and there immense rice-fields,
full of straight stalks and purple blossoms. They could
distinguish sheep and goats too, confined in large
cages, set up on piles to keep them out of reach of the
leopardsâ€™ fangs. Luxuriant vegetation spread in wild
profuseness over this prodigal soil.
Village after village rang with yells of terror and
86 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
astonishment at the sight of the Victoria, and Dr. Fergu-
son prudently kept her above the reach of the barbarian
arrows. The savages below, thus baffled, ran together
from their huddle of huts and followed the travellers with
their vain imprecations while they remained in sight.
At noon, the doctor, upon consulting his map, calcu-
lated that they were passing over the Uzaramo * country.
The soil was thickly studded with cocoa-nut, papaw, and
cotton-wood trees, above which the balloon seemed to dis-
port itself like a bird. Joe found this splendid vegetation
a matter of course, secing that they were in Africa. Ken-
nedy descried some hares and quails that asked nothing
better than to get a good shot from his fowling-piece, but
it would have been powder wasted, since there was no
time to pick up the game.
The aÃ©ronauts swept on with the speed of twelve miles
per hour, and soon were passing in thirty-eight degrees
twenty minutes east longitude, over the village of Tounda.
â€œYt was there,â€ said the doctor, â€œthat Burton and
Speke were scized with violent fevers, and for a moment
thought their expedition ruined. And yet they were only
a short distance from the coast, but fatigue and privation
were beginning to tell upon them severely.â€
In fact, there is a perpetual malaria reigning through-
out the country in question. Even the doctor could hope
to escape its effects only by rising above the range of the
miasma that exhales from this damp region whence the
blazing rays of the sun pump up its poisonous vapors.
Once in a while they could descry a caravan resting in a
â€œkraal,â€ awaiting the freshness and cool of the evening to
resume its route. These kraals are wide patches of cleared
land, surrounded by hedges and jungles, where traders
take shelter against not only the wild beasts, but also the
* Wand Ou signify country in the language of that region.
AVOIDING THE NATIVES. 87
robber tribes of the country. They could see the natives
runnin and scattering in all directions at the sight of the
Victoria. Kennedy was keen to get a closer look at them,
but the doctor invariably held out against the idea.
â€œ The chiefs are armed with muskets,â€ he said, â€œand
our balloon would be too conspicuous a mark for their
â€œWould a bullet-hole bring us down?â€ asked Joe.
â€œNot immediately; but such a hole would soon be-
come a large torn orifice through which our gas would
â€œThen, let us keep at a respectful distance from yon
miscreants. What must they think as they sce us sailing
in the air? Tâ€™m sure they must feel like worshipping us!â€
â€œLet them worship away, then,â€ replied the doctor,
â€œbut at adistance. There is no harm done in getting as far
away from them as possible. Sec! the country is already
changing its aspect: the villages are fewer and farther be-
tween ; the mango-trees have disappeared, for their growth
ceases at this latitude. The soil is becoming hilly and â€”
portends mountains not far offâ€
â€œYes,â€ said Kennedy, â€œit seems to me that I can sce
some high land on this side.â€
â€œIn the westâ€”those are the nearest ranges of the
Ourizaraâ€”Mount Duthumi, no doubt, behind which I hope
to find shelter for the night. I'll stir up the heat in the
cylinder a little, for we must keep at an elevation of five
or six hundred feet.â€
â€œThat was a grand idea of yours, sir,â€ said Joc. â€œItâ€™s
mighty easy to manage it; you turn a cock, and the thingâ€™s
â€œ Ah! here we are more at our ease,â€ said the sports-
man, as the balloon ascended; â€œthe reflection of the sun
on those red sands was getting to be insupportable.â€
â€œWhat splendid trees!â€ cried Joe. â€œTheyâ€™re quite
88 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
natural, but they are very fine! Why a dozen of them
would make a forest !â€
â€œThose are baobabs,â€ replied Dr. Ferguson. â€˜â€œ See,
thereâ€™s one with a trunk fully one hundred feet in circum-
ference. It was, perhaps, at the foot of that very tree
that Maizan, the French traveller, expired in 1845, for we
are over the village of Deje-la-Mhora, to which he pushed
on alone. He was seized by the chief of this region, fast-
ened to the foot of a baobab, and the ferocious black then
severed all his joints while the war-song of his tribe was
chanted; he then made a gash in the prisonerâ€™s heck,
stopped to sharpen his knife, and fairly tore away the poor
wretchâ€™s head before it had been cut from the body. The
unfortunate Frenchman was but twenty-six years of age.â€
â€œ And France has never avenged so hideous a crime?â€
â€œFrance did demand satisfaction, and the Said of
Zanzibar did all in his power to capture the murderer, but
â€œT move that we donâ€™t stop here!â€ urged Joe; â€œlet us
go up, master, let us go up higher by all means.â€
â€œAll the more willingly, Joe, that there is Mount
Duthumi right ahead of us. If my calculations be right
we shall have passed it before seven oâ€™clock in the even-
â€œShall we not travel at night ?â€ asked the Scotchman.
â€œNo, as little as possible. With care and vigilance
we might do so safely, butit is not enough to sweep across
Africa. We want to see it.â€
â€œUp to this time we have nothing to complain of,
master. The best cultivated and most fertile country in
the world instead of a desert! Believe the geographers
â€œLet us wait, Joe! we shall see by-and-by.â€
About half-past six in the evening the Victorza was
CROSSING THE MOUNTAIN. 89
directly opposite Mount Duthumi; in order to pass, it had
to ascend to a height of more than three thousand fect, and
to accomplish that the doctor had only to raise the tem-
perature of his gas eighteen degrees. It might have been
correctly said that he held his balloon in his hand. Ken-
nedy-had only to indicate to him the obstacles to be sur-
mounted, and the Victoria sped through the air, skimming
the summits of the range.
At cight oâ€™clock it descended the farther slope, the ac-
clivity of which was much less abrupt. The anchors were
thrown out from the car and one of them, coming in con-
tact with the branches of an enormous nopal, caught on it
firmly. Joe at once let himself slide down the rope and
secured it. The silk ladder was then lowered to him
and he remounted to the car with agility. The bal-
loon now remained perfectly at rest sheltered from the
eastern winds. :
The evening meal was got ready, and the aÃ©ronauts,
excited by their dayâ€™s journey, made a heavy onslaught
upon the provisions.
â€œWhat distance have we traversed to-day?â€ asked
Kennedy, disposing of some alarming mouthfuls,
The doctor took his bearings, by means of lunar obser-
vations, and consulted the excellent map that he had with
him for his guidance. It belonged to the Atlas of â€œ Der
Neuester Endeckungen in Afrikaâ€ (â€œThe Latest Discov-
eries in Africaâ€), published at Gotha by his learned friend
Dr. Petermann, and by that savant sent to him. This
Atlas was to serve the doctor on his whole journey; for it
contained the itinerary of Burton and Speke to the great
lakes; the Soudan, according to Dr. Barth; the Lower
Senegal, according to Guillaume Lejean; and the Delta of
the Niger, by Dr. Blaikie.
Ferguson had also provided himself with a work which
combined in one compilation all the notions already ac-
90 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
quired concerning the Nile. It was entitled â€œThe 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.â€
He also had the excellent charts published in the
â€œBulletins of the Geographical Society of London;â€ and
not a single point of the countries already discovered
could, therefore, escape his notice.
Upon tracing on his maps, he found that his latitu-
dinal route had been two degrees, or one hundred and
twenty miles, to the westward.
Kennedy remarked that the route tended toward the
south; but this direction was satisfactory to the doctor,
who desired to reconnoitre the tracks of his predecessors
as much as possible. It was agreed that the night should
be divided into three watches, so that each of the party
should take his turn in watching over the safety of the
rest. The doctor took the watch commencing at nine
o'clock; Kennedy, the one commencing at midnight; and
Joe, the three oâ€™clock morning watch.
So Kennedy and Joe, well wrapped in their blankets,
stretched themselves at full length under the awning, and
slept quietly; while Dr. Ferguson kept on the lookout.
Change of Weather.â€”Kennedy has the Fever.â€”The Doctorâ€™s Medicine.â€”Travela
on Land.â€”The Basin of ImengÃ©.â€”Mount Rubeho.â€”Six Thousand Feet Ele-
vation.â€”A. Halt in the Daytime.
Tur night was calm. However, on Saturday morning,
Kennedy, as he awoke, complained of lassitude and fever-
ish chills. The weather was changing. The sky, covered
with clouds, seemed to be laying in supplies for a fresh
deluge. A gloomy region is that Zungomoro country,
where it rains continually, excepting, perhaps, for a couple
of weeks in the month of January.
A violent shower was not long in drenching our trav-
ellers. Below them, the roads, intersected by â€œ nullahs,â€
a sort of instantaneous torrent, were soon rendered im-
practicable, entangled as they were, besides, with thorny
thickets and gigantic llianas, or creeping vines. The
sulphuretted hydrogen emanations, which Captain Burton
mentions, could be distinctly smelt.
â€œ According to his statement, and I think heâ€™s right,â€
said the doctor, â€œone could readily believe that there is
a corpse hidden behind every thicket.â€
â€œAn ugly country this!â€ sighed Joe; â€œand it seems
to me that Mr. Kennedy is none the better for having
passed the night in it.â€
â€œTo tell the truth, I have quite a high fever,â€ said the
â€œ'Thereâ€™s nothing remarkable about that, my dear
Dick, for we are in one of the most unhealthy regions in
92 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Africa; but we shall not remain here long; so letâ€™s be
Thanks to a skilful manceuvre achieved by Joe, the
anchor was disengaged, and Joe reascended to the car by
means of the ladder. The doctor vigorously dilated the
gas, and the Victoria resumed her flight, driven along by
a spanking breeze.
Only a few scattered huts could be seen through the
pestilential mists ; but the appearance of the country soon
changed, for it often happens in Africa that some of the
unhealthicst districts lie close beside others that are per-
Kennedy was visibly suffering, and the fever was mas-
tering his vigorous constitution.
â€œTt wonâ€™t do to fall ill, though,â€™ he grumbled; and
80 Saying, he wrapped himself in a blanket, and lay down
under the awning.
â€œA little patience, Dick, and yowâ€™ll soon get over
this,â€ said the doctor.
â€œGet over it! Egad, Samuel, if youâ€™ve any drug in
your travelling-chest that will set me on my fect again,
bring it without delay. Tl swallow it with my eyes
â€œOh, I can do better than that, friend Dick; for I can
give you a febrifuge that wonâ€™t cost any thing.â€
â€œ And how will you do that?â€
â€œVery easily. I am simply going to take you up
above these clouds that are now deluging us, and remove
you from this pestilential atmosphere. I ask for only ten
minutes, in order to dilate the hydrogen.â€
The ten minutes had scarcely elapsed ere the travel-
lers were beyond the rainy belt of country.
â€œWait a little, now, Dick, and yowâ€™ll begin to feel the
effect of pure air and sunshine.â€
â€œThereâ€™s a cure for you!â€ said Joe; â€œwhy, itâ€™s won-
KENNEDY RECOVERS, 93
â€œNo, itâ€™s merely natural.â€
â€œOh! natural; yes, no doubt of that!â€
â€œJT bring Dick into good air, as the doctors do, every
day, in Europe, or, as I would send a patient at Martinique
to the Pitons, a lofty mountain on that island, to get clear
of the yellow fever.â€
â€œAh! by Jove, this balloon is a paradise!â€ exclaimed
Kennedy, feeling much better already.
â€œTt leads to it, anyhow!â€ replied Joe, quite gravely.
It was a curious spectacleâ€”that mass of clouds piled
up, at the moment, away below them! The vapors rolled
over each other, and mingled together in confused masses
of superb brilliance, as they reflected the rays of the sun.
The Victoria had attained an altitude of four thousand
feet, and the thermometer indicated a certain diminution
of temperature. The land below could no longer be seen.
Fifty miles away to the westward, Mount Rubeho raised
its sparkling crest, marking the limit of the Ugogo coun-
try in east longitude thirty-six degrees twenty minutes.â€
The wind was blowing at the rate of twenty miles an hour,
but the aÃ©ronauts felt nothing of this increased speed.
They observed no jar, and had scarcely any sense of mo-
tion at all.
Three hours later, the doctorâ€™s prediction was fully
verified. Kennedy no longer felt a single shiver of the
fever, but partook of some breakfast with an excellent
â€œThat beats sulphate of quinine!â€ said the energetic
Scot, with hearty emphasis and much satisfaction.
â€œPositively,â€ said Joe, â€œthis is where [ll have to re-
tire to when I get old!â€
About ten oâ€™clock in the morning the atmosphere
cleared up, the clouds parted, and the country beneath
could again be seen, the Victoria meanwhile rapidly de-
scending. Dr. Ferguson was in search of a current that
94. FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
would carry him more to the northeast, and he found it
about six hundred feet from the ground. The country
was becoming more broken, and even mountainous. The
Zungomoro district was fading out of sight in the east
with the last cocoa-nut-trees of that latitude.
Ere long, the crests of a mountain-range assumed a more
decided prominence. A few peaks rose here and there,
and it became necessary to keep a sharp lookout for the
pointed cones that seemed to spring up every moment.
â€œWe're right among the breakers!â€ said Kennedy.
â€œKeep cool, Dick. We shanâ€™t touch them,â€ was the
doctorâ€™s quiet answer.
â€œTtâ€™s a jolly way to travel, anyhow!â€ said Joe, with
his usual flow of spirits.
In fact, the doctor managed his balloon with wondrous
â€œNow, if we had been compelled to go afoot over that
drenched soil,â€ said he, â€œ we should still be dragging along
in a pestilential mire. Since our departure from Zanzibar,
half our beasts of burden would have died with fatigue.
We should be looking like ghosts ourselves, and despair
would be seizing on our hearts. We should be in contin-
ual squabbles with our guides and porters, and completely
exposed to their unbridled brutality. During the day-
time, a damp, penetrating, unendurable humidity! At
night, a cold frequently intolerable, and the stings of a
kind of fly whose bite pierces the thickest cloth, and drives
the victim crazy! All this, too, without saying any thing
about wild beasts and ferocious native tribes!â€
â€œT move that we donâ€™t try it!â€ said Joe, in his droll
â€œT exaggerate nothing,â€ continued Ferguson, â€œ for,
upon reading the narratives of such travellers as have had
the hardihood to venture into these regions, your eyes
would fill with tears,â€
APPROACHING RUBEHO. 95
About eleven oâ€™clock they were passing over the basin
of ImengÃ©, and the tribes scattered over the adjacent hills
were impotently menacing the Victoria with their weap-
ons. Finally, she sped along as far as the last undulations
of the country which precede Rubeho. These form the
last and loftiest chain of the mountains of Usagara.
The aÃ©ronauts took careful and complete note of the
orographic conformation of the country. The three rami-
fications mentioned, of which the Duthumi forms the first
link, are separated by immense longitudinal plains. These
elevated summits consist of rounded cones, between which
the soil is bestrewn with erratic blocks of stone and grav-
elly bowlders. The most abrupt declivity of these moun-
tains confronts the Zanzibar coast, but the western slopes
are merely inclined planes. The depressions in the soil
are covered with a black, rich loam, on which there is a
vigorous vegetation. Various water-courses filter through,
toward the east, and work their way onward to flow into
the Kingani, in the midst of gigantic clumps of sycamore,
tamarind, calabash, and palmyra trees.
â€œ Attention!â€ said Dr. Ferguson. â€œWe are approach-
ing Rubeho, the name of which signifies, in the language
of the country, the â€˜Passage of the Winds,â€™ and we would
do well to double its jagged pinnacles at a certain height.
If my chart be exact, we are going to ascend to an eleva-
tion of five thousand feet.â€
â€œ Shall we often have occasion to reach those far upper
belts of the atmosphere ?â€
â€œVery seldom: the height of the African mountains
appears to be quite moderate compared with that of the
European and Asiatic ranges; but, in any case, our good
Victoria will find no difficulty in passing over them.â€
In a very little while, the gas expanded under the
action of the heat, and the balloon took a very decided
ascensional movement. Besides, the dilation of the hydro-
96 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
gen involved no danget, and only three-fourths of the
vast capacity of the balloon was filled when the barom-
eter, by a depression of cight inches, announced an eleva-
tion of six thousand feet.
â€œShall we go this high very long ?â€ asked Joe.
â€œThe atmosphere of the earth has a height of six thou-
sand fathoms,â€ said the doctor; â€œand, with a very large
balloon, one might go far. That is what Messrs. Brioschi
and Gay-Lussac did; but then the blood burst from their
mouths and ears. Respirable air was wanting. Some
years ago, two fearless Frenchmen, Messrs. Barral and
Bixio, also ventured into the very lofty regions; but their
â€œ And they fell?â€ asked Kennedy, abruptly.
â€œCertainly they did; but as learned men should al-
ways fallâ€”namely, without hurting themselves.â€
â€œWell, gentlemen,â€ said Joe, â€œyou may try their fall
over again, if you like; but, as for me, who am but a dolt,
Il prefer keeping at the medium heightâ€”neither too far
up, nor too low down. It wonâ€™t do to be too ambi-
At the height of six thousand feet, the density of the
atmosphere has already greatly diminished; sound is con-
veyed with difficulty, and the voice is not so easily heard.
The view of objects becomes confused ; the gaze no longer
takes in any but large, quite ill-distinguishable masses;
men and animals on the surface become absolutely invis-
ible; the roads and rivers get to look like threads, and
the lakes dwindle to ponds.
The doctor and his friends felt themselves in a very
anomalous condition; an atmospheric current of extreme
velocity was bearing them away beyond arid mountains
upon whose summits vast fields of snow surprised the
gaze; while their convulsed appearance told of Titanic
travail in the earliest epoch of the worldâ€™s existence.
THEY LAND. 97
The sun shone at the zenith, and his rays fell perpen-
dicularly upon those lonely summits. The doctor took
an accurate design of these mountains, which form four
distinct ridges almost in a straight line, the northernmost
being the longest.
The Victoria soon descended the slope opposite to the
Rubeho, skirting an acclivity covered with woods, and
dotted with trees of very deep-green foliage. Then came
crests and ravines, in a sort of desert which preceded the
Ugogo country; and lower down were yellow plains,
parched and fissured by the intense heat, and, here and
there, bestrewn with saline plants and brambly thick-
Some underbrush, which, farther on, became forests,
embellished the horizon. The doctor went nearer to the
ground; the anchors were thrown out, and one of them
soon caught in the boughs of a huge sycamore.
Joe, slipping nimbly down the tree, carefully attached
the anchor, and the doctor left his cylinder at work to a
certain degree in order to retain sufficient ascensional
force in the balloon to keep it in the air. Meanwhile the
wind had suddenly died away.
â€œNow,â€ said Ferguson, â€œtake two guns, friend Dickâ€”
one for yourself and one for Joeâ€”and both of you try to
bring back some nice cuts of antelope-meat; they will
make us a good dinner.â€
â€œOff to the hunt!â€ exclaimed Kennedy, joyously.
He climbed briskly out of the car and descended. Joe
had swung himself down from branch to branch, and was
waiting for him below, stretching his limbs in the mean
â€œDonâ€™t fly away without us, doctor!â€ shouted
â€œNever fear, my boy!â€”I am securely lashed. I'll
spend the time getting my notes into shape. A good hunt
98 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
to you! but be careful. Besides, from my post here, 1
can observe the face of the country, and, at the least sus-
picious thing I notice, I'll fire a signal-shot, and with that
you must rally home.â€
â€œ Agreed!â€ said Kennedy; and off they went.
The Forest of Gum-Trees.â€”The Blue Antclope.â€”The Rallying-Signal.â€”An Un-
expected Attack.â€”The KanyemÃ©.â€”A Night in the Open Air.â€”The Mabun-
guru.â€”Jihoue-la-Mkoa.â€”A Supply of Water.â€”Arrival at Kazeh.
THE country, dry and parched as it was, consisting of
a clayey soil that cracked open with the heat, seemed,
indeed, a desert: here and there were a few traces of
caravans; the bones of men and animals, that had been
half-enawed away, mouldering together in the same dust.
After half an hourâ€™s walking, Dick and Joe plunged
into a forest of gum-trees, their eyes alert on all sides,
and their fingers on the trigger. There was no foresee-
ing what they might encounter. Without being a rifle-
man, Joe could handle fire-arms with no trifling dexterity.
â€œA walk does one good, Mr. Kennedy, but this isnâ€™t
the easiest ground in the world,â€ he said, kicking aside
some fragments of quartz with which the soil was be-
Kennedy motioned to his companion to be silent and
â€˜to halt. The present case compelled them to dispense
with hunting-dogs, and, no matter what Joeâ€™s agility might
be, he could not be expected to have the scent of a setter
or a greyhound.
A herd of a dozen antelopes were quenching their
thirst in the bed of a torrent where some pools of water
had lodged, The graceful creatures, snuffing danger in
the breeze, seemed to be disturbed and uneasy. Their
beautiful heads could be seen between every draught,
100 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
raised in the air with quick and sudden motion as they
sniffed the wind in the direction of our two hunters, with
their flexible nostrils.
Kennedy stole around behind some clumps of shrub-
bery, while Joe remained motionless where he was. The
former, at length, got within gunshot and fired.
The herd disappeared in the twinkling of an eye; one
male antelope only, that was hit just behind the shoulder-
joint, fell headlong to the ground, and Kennedy leaped
toward his booty.
Jt was a blawwbok, a superb animal of a pale-bluish
color shading upon the gray, but with the belly and the
inside of the legs as white as the driven snow.
â€œ A splendid shot!â€ exclaimed the hunter. â€œItâ€™s a
very rare species of the antelope, and I hope to be able to
prepare his skin in such a way as to keep it.â€
â€œIndeed!â€ said Joe, â€œdo you think of doing that, Mr.
â€œWhy, certainly Ido! Just see what a fine hide it
â€œBut Dr. Ferguson will never allow us to take such an
extra weight !â€
â€œYou're right, Joe. Still it is a pity to have to leave
such a noble animal.â€
â€œThe whole of it? Oh, we wonâ€™t do that, sir; we'll
take all the good eatable parts of it, and, if you'll let me,
Pll cut him up just as well as the chairman of the honor-
able corporation of butchers of the city of London could
â€œAs you please, my boy! But you know that in my
hunterâ€™s way I can just as easily skin and cut up a piece
of game as kill it.â€
â€œPm sure of that, Mr. Kennedy. Well, then, you can
build a fireplace with a few stones; thereâ€™s plenty of dry
dead-wood, and I can make the hot coals tell in a few
THE SIGNAL. 101
â€œOh! that wonâ€™t take long,â€ said Kennedy, going to
work on the fireplace, where he had a brisk flame crackling
and sparkling in a minute or two.
Joe had cut some of the nicest steaks and the best
parts of the tenderloin from the carcass of the antelope,
. and these were quickly transformed to the most savory of
â€œ There, those will tickle the doctor!â€ said Kennedy.
â€œDo you know what I was thinking about ?â€ said Joe.
â€œ Why, about the steaks youâ€™re broiling, to be sure!â€
â€œ Not the least in the world. I was thinking what a
figure we'd cut if we couldnâ€™t find the balloon again.â€
â€œBy George, what an idea! Why, do you think the
doctor would desert us?â€
â€œNo; but suppose his anchor were to slip!â€
â€œImpossible! and, besides, the doctor would find no
difficulty in coming down again with his balloon; he hai-
dles it at his ease.â€ :
â€œBut suppose the wind were to sweep it off, so that he
couldnâ€™t come back toward us ?â€
â€œCome, come, Joe! a truce to your suppositions ;
theyâ€™re any thing but pleasant.â€
â€œ Ah! sir, every thing that happens in this world is
- natural, of course; but, then, any thing may happen, and
we ought to look out beforehand.â€
At this moment the report of a gun rang out upon the
â€œ Whatâ€™s that ?â€ exclaimed Joe.
â€œItâ€™s my rifle, I know the ring of her!â€ said Kennedy.
â€œ A signal!â€
â€œ Yes; danger for us!â€
â€œFor him, too, perhaps.â€
â€œTetâ€™s be off!â€
And the hunters, having gathered up the product of
102 EIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
their expedition, rapidly made their way back along the
path that they had marked by breaking boughs and bushes
when they came. The density of the underbrush pre-
vented their seeing the balloon, although they could not
be far from it.
A second shot was heard.
â€œWe must hurry!â€ said Joe.
â€œThere! a third report!â€
â€œ Why, it sounds to me as if he was defending himself
â€œ Let us make haste!â€
They now began to run at the top of their speed.
When they reached the outskirts of the forest, they, at
first glance, saw the balloon in its place and the doctor in
â€œ Whatâ€™s the matter?â€ shouted Kennedy.
â€œGood God!â€ suddenly exclaimed Joe.
â€œWhat do you see?â€
â€œDown there! look!.a crowd of blacks surrounding
And, in fact, there, two miles from where they were,
they saw some thirty wild natives close together, yelling,
gesticulating, and cutting all kinds of antics at the foot of
the sycamore. Some, climbing into the tree itself, were
. making their way to the topmost branches. The danger
â€œMy master is lost!â€ cried Joe.
â€œCome! a little more coolness, Joe, and let us see how
we stand. We hold the lives of four of those villains in
our hands. Forward, then!â€
They had made a mile with headlong speed, when
another report was heard from the car. The shot had,
evidently, told upon a huge black demon, who had been
hoisting himself up by the anchor-rope. A lifeless body
fell from bough to bough, and hung about twenty feet
THE DOCTOR ATTACKED BY APES, 1038
from the ground, its arms and legs swaying to and fro in
â€œHalâ€ said Joe, halting, â€œwhat does that fellow hold
by ? â€
â€œNo matter what!â€ said Kennedy; â€œlet us run! let
â€œAh! Mr. Kennedy,â€ said Joe, again, in a roar of
laughter, â€œ by his tail! by his tail! itâ€™s an ape! Theyâ€™re
â€œ Well, theyâ€™re worse than men!â€ said Kennedy, as he
dashed into the midst of the howling crowd.
It was, indeed, a troop of very formidable baboons of
the dog-faced species. These creatures are brutal, fero-
cious, and horrible to look upon, with their dog-like muz-
zles and savage expression. However, a few shots scat-
tered them, and the chattering horde scampered off,
leaving several of their number on the ground.
In a moment Kennedy was on the ladder, and Joe,
clambering up the branches, detached the anchor; the car
then dipped to where he was, and he got into it without
difficulty. A few minutes later, the Victoria slowly
ascended and soared away to the eastward, wafted by a
â€œThat was an attack for you!â€ said Joe.
â€œWe thought you were surrounded by natives.â€
â€œWell, fortunately, they were only apes,â€ said the
â€œ At a distance thereâ€™s no great difference,â€ remarked.
â€œNor close at hand, either,â€ added Joe.
â€œWell, however that may be,â€ resumed Ferguson,
â€œthis attack of apes might have had the most serious con-
sequences. Had the anchor yielded to their repeated
efforts, who knows whither the wind would have carried
104 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œWhat did I tell you, Mr. Kennedy ?â€
â€œYou were right, Joe; but, even right as you may
have been, you were, at that moment, preparing some
antelope-steaks, the very sight of which gave me a mon-
â€œYT believe you!â€ said the doctor; â€œthe flesh of the
antelope is exquisite.â€
â€œYou may judge of that yourself, now, sir, for supperâ€™s
â€œUpon my word as a sportsman, those venison-steaks
have a gamy flavor thatâ€™s not to be sneezed at, I tell you.â€
â€œGood!â€ said Joe, with his mouth full, â€œI could live
on antelope all the days of my life; and all the better with
a glass of grog to wash it down.â€
So saying, the good fellow went to work to prepare a
jorum of that fragrant beverage, and all hands tasted it
â€œKivery thing has gone well thus far,â€ said he.
â€œVery well indecd!â€ assented Kennedy.
â€œCome, now, Mr. Kennedy, are you sorry that you
came with us?â€
â€œTd like to see anybody prevent my coming!â€
It was now four oâ€™clock in the afternoon. The Victo-
via had struck a more rapid current. The face of the
country was gradually rising, and, ere long, the barometer
indicated a height of fifteen hundred feet above the level
of the sea. The doctor was, therefore, obliged to keep
his balloon up by a quite considerable dilation of gas, and
the cylinder was hard at work all the time.
Toward seven oâ€™clock, the balloon was sailing over the
basin of KanyemÃ©. The doctor immediately recognized
that immense clearing, ten miles in extent, with its vil-
lages buried in the midst of baobab and calabash trees.
It is the residence of one of the sultans of the Ugogo coun-
try, where civilization is, perhaps, the least backward.
FIRST NIGHT IN THE BALLOON. 105
The natives there are less addicted to selling members of
their own families, but still, men and animals all live to-
gether in round huts, without frames, that look like hay-
Beyond KanyemÃ© the soil becomes arid and stony, but
in an hourâ€™s journey, in a fertile dip of the soil, vegetation
had resumed all its vigor at some distance from Mdaburu.
The wind fell with the close of the day, and the atmos-
phere seemed to sleep. The doctor vainly sought for a
current of air at different heights, and, at last, seeing this
calm of all nature, he resolved to pass the night afloat, and,
for greater safety, rose to the height of one thousand feet,
where the balloon remained motionless. The night was
magnificent, the heavens glittering with stars, and pro-
foundly silent in the upper air.
Dick and Joe stretched themselves on their peaceful
couch, and were soon sound asleep, the doctor keeping the
first watch. At twelve oâ€™clock the latter was relieved by
â€œShould the slightest accident happen, waken me,â€
said Ferguson, â€œand, above all things, donâ€™t lose sight of
the barometer. To us it is the compass!â€
The night was cold. There were twenty-seven degrees
of difference between its temperature and that of the day-
time. With nightfall had begun the nocturnal concert
of animals driven from their hiding-places by hunger and
thirst. The frogs struck in their guttural soprano, re-
doubled by the yelping of the jackals, while the imposing
bass of the African lion sustained the accords of this living
Upon resuming his post, in the morning, the doctor
consulted his compass, and found that the wind had
changed during the night. The balloon had been bearing
abouâ€™ thirty miles to the northwest during the last two
hours. It was then passing over Mabunguru, a stony
106 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
country, strewn with blocks of syenite of a fine polish, and
knobbed with huge bowlders and angular ridges of rock ;
conic masses, like the rocks of Karnak, studded the soil
like so many Druidic dolmens; the bones of buffaloes and
elephants whitened it here and there; but few trees could
be seen, excepting in the east, where there were dense
woods, among which a few villages lay half concealed.
Toward seven oâ€™clock they saw a huge round rock
nearly two miles in extent, like an immense tortoise.
â€œWe are on the right track,â€ said Dr. Ferguson.
*â€œThereâ€™s Jihoue-la-Mkoa, where we must halt for a few
minutes, J am going to renew the supply of water neces-
sary for my cylinder, and so let us try to anchor some-
â€œThere are very few trees,â€ replied the hunter.
â€œNever mind, let us try. Joe, throw out the an-
The balloon, gradually losing its ascensional force,
approached the ground; the anchors ran along until, at
last, one of them caught in the fissure of a rock, and the
balloon remained motionless.
It must not be supposed that the doctor could entirely
extinguish his cylinder, during these halts. The equilib-
rium of the balloon had been calculated at the level of
the sea; and, as the country was continually ascending,
and had reached an elevation of from six to seven hundred
feet, the balloon would have had a tendency to go lower
than the surface of the soil itself. It was, therefore, neces-
sary to sustain it by a certain dilation of the gas. But,
in case the doctor, in the absence of all wind, had let the
car rest upon the ground, the balloon, thus relieved of a
considerable weight, would have kept up of itself, without -
the aid of the cylinder.
The maps indicated extensive ponds on the western
slope of the Jihoue-la-Mkoa. Joe went thither alone
A FRESH STOCK OF WATER LAID IN. 107
with a cask that would hold about ten gallons. He found
the place pointed out to him, without difficulty, near to a
deserted village; got his stock of water, and returned in
less than three-quarters of an hour. He had seen nothing
particular excepting some immense elephant-pits. In fact,
he came very near falling into one of them, at the bottom
of which lay a halfeaten carcass.
He brought back with him a sort of clover which the
apes eat with avidity. The doctor recognized the fruit
of the â€œmbenbuâ€-tree which grows in profusion, on the
western part of Jihoue-la-Mkoa. Ferguson waited for
Joe with a certain feeling of impatience, for even a short
halt in this inhospitable region always inspires a degree
The water was got aboard without trouble, as the car
was nearly resting on the ground. Joe then found it easy
to loosen the anchor and leaped lightly to his place beside
the doctor. The latter then replenished the flame in the
cylinder, and the balloon majestically soared into the air.
It was then about one hundred miles from Kazeh, an
important establishment in the interior of Africa, where,
thanks to a south-southeasterly current, the travellers
might hope to arrive on that same day. They were mov-
ing at the rate of fourteen miles per hour, and the guid-
ance of the balloon was becoming difficult, as they dared
not rise very high without extreme dilation of the gas, the
country itself being at an average height of three thou-
sand feet. Hence, the doctor preferred not to force the
dilation, and so adroitly followed the sinuosities of a
pretty sharply-inclined plane, and swept very close to the
villages of Thembo and Tura-Wels. The latter forms
part of the Unyamwezy, a magnificent country, where the
trees attain enormous dimensions; among them the cac-
tus, which grows to gigantic size.
About two oâ€™clock, in magnificent weather, but under a
108 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
fiery sun that devoured the least breath of air, the balloon
was floating over the town of Kazceh, situated about three
hundred and fifty miles from the coast.
â€œWe left Zanzibar at nine oâ€™clock in the morning,â€
said the doctor, consulting his notes, â€œand, after two
daysâ€™ passage, we have, including our deviations, trav-
elled nearly five hundred geographical miles. Captains
Burton and Speke took four months and a half to make
the same distance!â€
Kazeh.â€”The Noisy Market-place.â€”The Appearance of the Balloon.â€”The Wan-
gaga.â€”The Sons of the Moon.â€”The Doctorâ€™s Walk.â€”The Population of the
Place.â€”The Royal TembÃ©.â€”The Sultanâ€™s Wives.â€”A Royal Drunken-Bout.â€”
Joe an Object of Worship.â€”How they Dance in the Moon.â€”A Reaction.â€”
Two Moons in one Sky.â€”The Instability of Divine Honors.
Kazxn, an important point in Central Africa, is not a
city; in truth, there are no cities in the interior. Kazch
is but a collection of six extensive excavations. There
are enclosed a few houses and slave-huts, with little court-
yards and small gardens, carefully cultivated with onions,
potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and mushrooms, of perfect
flavor, growing most luxuriantly.
The Unyamwezy is the country of the Moonâ€”above
all the rest, the fertile and magnificent garden-spot of
Africa. In its centre is the district of UnyanembÃ©â€”a
delicious region, where some families of Omani, who are
of very pure Arabic origin, live in luxurious idleness.
They have, for a long period, held the commerce be-
tween the interior of Africa and Arabia: they trade in
gums, ivory, fine muslin, and slaves. Their caravans
traverse these equatorial regions on all sides; and they
even make their way to the coast in search of those arti-
cles of luxury and enjoyment which the wealthy mer-
chants covet; while the latter, surrounded by their wives
and their attendants, lead in this charming country the
least disturbed and most horizontal of livesâ€”always
stretched at full length, laughing, smoking, or sleeping.
110 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.,
Around these excavations are numerous native dwell-
ings; wide, open spaces for the markets; fields of can-
nabis and datura; superb trees and depths of freshest
shadeâ€”such is Kazeh !
There, too, is held the general rendezvous of the cara-
vansâ€”those of the south, with their slaves and their
freightage of ivory; and those of the west, which export
cotton, glassware, and trinkets, to the tribes of the great
So in the market-place there reigns perpetual excite-
ment, a nameless hubbub, made up of the cries of mixed-
breed porters and carriers, the beating of drums, and the
twanging of horns, the neighing of mules, the braying of
donkeys, the singing of women, the squalling of children,
and the banging of the huge rattan, wielded by the jemadar
or leader of the caravans, who beats time to this pastoral
There, spread forth, without regard to orderâ€”indeed,
we may say, in charming disorderâ€”are the showy stufis
the glass beads, the ivory tusks, the rhinocerosâ€™-teeth, the
sharkâ€™s-teeth, the honey, the tobacco, and the cotton of
these regions, to be purchased at the strangest of bargains
by customers in whose eyes each article has a price only
in proportion to the desire it excites to possess it.
Allat once this agitation, movement and noise stopped
as though by magic. The balloon had just come in sight,
far aloft in the sky, where it hovered majestically for
a few moments, and then descended slowly, without de-
viating from its perpendicular. Men, women, children,
merchants and slaves, Arabs and negroes, as suddenly
disappeared within the â€œtembÃ©sâ€ and the huts.
â€œMy dear doctor,â€ said Kennedy, â€œif we continue to
produce such a sensation as this, we shall find some diffi-
culty in establishing commercial relations with the people
ARRIVAL AT KAZEH. 111
â€œThereâ€™s one kind of trade that we might carry on,
though, easily enough,â€ said Joe; â€œand that would be to
go down there quietly, and walk off with the best of the
goods, without troubling our heads about the merchants ;
we'd get rich that way!â€
â€œ Ah!â€ said the doctor, â€œthese natives are a little
scared at first; but they wonâ€™t be long in coming hack,
either through suspicion or through curiosity.â€
â€œDo you really think so, doctor?â€
â€œWell, we'll see pretty soon. But it wouldnâ€™t be pru-
dent to go too near to them, for the balloon is not iron-
clad, and is, therefore, not proof against either an arrow
or a bullet.â€
â€œThen you expect to hold a parley with these blacks?â€
â€œTf we can do so safely, why should we not? There
must be some Arab merchants here at Kazeh, who are bet-
ter informed than the rest, and not so barbarous. I re-
member that Burton and Speke had nothing but praises
to utter concerning the hospitality of these people; so we
might, at least, make the venture.â€
The balloon having, meanwhile, gradually approached
the ground, one of the anchors lodged in the top of a tree
near the market-place.
By this time the whole population had emerged from
their hiding-places stealthily, thrusting their heads out
first. Several â€œwaganga,â€ recognizable by their badges
of conical shellwork, came boldly forward. They were
the sorcerers of the place. They bore in their girdles
small gourds, coated with tallow, and several other arti-
cles of witchcraft, all of them, by-the-way, most profes-
Little by little the crowd gathered beside them, the
women and children grouped around them, the drums
renewed their deafening uproar, hands were violently
clapped together, and then raised toward the sky.
112 Â© FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œ'Thatâ€™s their style of praying,â€ said the doctor; â€œand,
if â€™'m not mistaken, weâ€™re going to be called upon to play
a great part.â€
â€œWell, sir, play it!â€
â€œYou, too, my good Joeâ€”perhaps youâ€™re to be a
â€œWell, master, that wonâ€™t trouble me much. I like a
little flattery !â€
At this moment, one of the sorcerers, a â€œmyanga,â€
made a sign, and all the clamor died away into the pro-
foundest silence. He then addressed a few words to the
strangers, but in an unknown tongue.
Dr. Ferguson, not having understood them, shouted
some sentences inâ€™ Arabic, at a venture, and was immedi-
ately answered in that language.
The speaker below then delivered himself of a very
.. copious harangue, which was also very flowery and very
gravely listened to by his audience. â€œFrom it the doctor
was not slow in learning that the balloon was mistaken for
nothing less than the moon in person, and that che ami-
able goddess in question had condescended to approach
the town with her three sonsâ€”an honor that would never
be forgotten in this land so greatly loved by the god of
The doctor responded, with much dignity, that the
moon made her provincial tour every thousand years, feel-
ing the necessity of showing herself nearer at hand to her
worshippers. He, therefore, begged them not to be dis-
turbed by her presence, but. to take advantage of it to
make known all their wants and longings.
The sorcerer, in his turn, replied that the sultan, the
â€œmwani,â€ who had been sick for many years, implored
the aid of heaven, and he invited the son of the moon to
The doctor acquainted his companions with the invita.
THE DOCTOR VISITS THE KING. *113
â€œ And you are going to call upon this negro king?â€
â€œUndoubtedly so; these people appear well disposed ;
the air is calm ; there is not a breath of wind, and we have
nothing to fear for the balloon ?â€
â€œBut, what will you do?â€
â€œBe quiet on that score, my dear Dick. With a little
medicine, I shall work my way through the affair!â€
Then, addressing the crowd, he said:
â€œThe moon, taking compassion on the sovereign who
is so dear to the children of Unyamwezy, has charged us
to restore him to health. Let him prepare to receive us!â€
The clamor, the songs and demonstrations of all kinds
increased twofold, and the whole immense antsâ€™ nest of
black heads was again in motion.
â€œNow, my friends,â€ said Dr. Ferguson, â€œwe must
look out for every thing beforehand; we may be forced to
leave this at any moment, unexpectedly, and be off with
extra speed. Dick had better remain, therefore, in the
car, and keep the cylinder warm so as to secure a sufficient
ascensional force for the balloon. The anchor is solidly
fastened, and there is nothing to fear in that respect. I
shall descend, and Joe will go with me, only that he must
remain at the foot of the ladder.â€
â€œWhat! are you going alone into that blackamoorâ€™s
â€œHow! doctor, am I not to go with you?â€
â€œNo! I shall go alone; these good folks imagine that
the goddess of the moon has come to sec them, and their
superstition protects me; so have no fear, and each one
remain at the post that I have assigned to him.â€
â€œWell, sincÃ© you wish it,â€ sighed Kennedy.
â€œTook closely to the dilation of the gas.â€
â€œ Agreed !â€
By this time the shouts of the natives had swelled to
114 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
double volume as they vehemently implored the aid of the
â€œThere, there,â€ said Joe, â€œtheyâ€™re rather rough in
their orders to their good moon and her.divine sons.â€
The doctor, equipped with his travelling medicine-
chest, descended to the ground, preceded by Joe, who kept
a straight countenance and looked as grave and knowing
as the circumstances of the case required. He then seated
himself at the foot of the ladder in the Arab fashion, with
his legs crossed under him, and a portion of the crowd
collected around him in a circle, at respectful distances.
In the meanwhile the doctor, escorted to the sound of
savage instruments, and with wild religious dances, slow-
ly proceeded toward the royal â€œtembÃ©,â€ situated a con-
siderable distance outside of the town. It was about three
oâ€™clock, and the sun was shining brilliantly. In fact, what
less could it do upon so grand an occasion !
The doctor stepped along with great dignity, the
waganga surrounding him and keeping off the crowd. He
was soon joined by the natural son of the sultan, a hand-
*somely-built young fellow, who, according to the custom
of the country, was the sole heir of the paternal goods, to
the exclusion of the old manâ€™s legitimate children. He
prostrated himself before the son of the moon, but the
latter graciously raised him to his feet.
Three-quarters of an hour later, through shady paths,
surrounded by all the luxuriance of tropical vegetation,
this enthusiastic procession arrived at the sultanâ€™s palace,
a sort of square edifice called Ã©titÃ©nya, and situated on the
slope of a hill.
A kind of veranda, formed by the thatched roof,
adorned the outside, supported upon wooden pillars, which
had some pretensions to being carved. Long lines of dark-
red clay decoratec. the walls in characters that strove to
reproduce the forms of men and serpents, the latter better
HE IS RECEIVED WITH ALL THE HONORS. 115
imitated, of course, than the former. The roofing of this
abode did not rest directly upon the walls, and the air
could, therefore, circulate freely, but windows there were
none, and the door hardly deserved the name.
Dr. Ferguson was received with all the honors by the
guards and favorites of the sultan; these were men of a
fine race, the Wanyamwezi so-called, a pure type of the
central African populations, strong, robust, well-made, and
in splendid condition. Their hair, divided into a great
number of small tresses, fell over their shoulders, and by
means of black-and-blue incisions they had tattooed their
cheeks from the temples to the mouth, Their ears, fright-
fully distended, held dangling to them disks of wood and
plates of gum copal. They were clad in brilliantly-painted
cloths, and the soldiers were armed with the saw-toothed
war-club, the bow and arrows barbed and poisoned with
the juice of the euphorbium, the cutlass, the â€œsima,â€ a long
sabre (also with saw-like teeth), and ome small battle-
The doctor advanced into the palace, and there, not-
withstanding the sultanâ€™s illness, the din, which was ter-
rific before, redoubled the instant that he arrived. He
noticed, at the lintels of the door, some rabbitsâ€™ tails and
zebrasâ€™ manes, suspended as talismans. He was received
by the whole troop of his majestyâ€™s wives, to the harmo-
nious accords of the â€œupatu,â€ a sort of cymbal made of
the bottom of a copper kettle, and to the uproar of the
â€œkilindo,â€ a drum five feet high, hollowed out from the
trunk of a tree, and hammered by the ponderous, horny
fists of two jet-black virtuosi.
Most of the women were rather good-looking, and they
laughed and chattered merrily as they smoked their to-
bacco and â€œthangâ€ in huge black pipes. They seemed
to be well made, too, under the long robes that they wore
gracefully flung about their persons, and carried a sort of
116 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œkiltâ€ woven from the abies of calabash fastened around
Six of them were not the least merry of the party, al-
though put aside from the rest, and reserved for a cruel
fate. On the death of the sultan, they were to be buried
alive with him, so as to occupy and divert his mind during
the period of eternal solitude.
Dr. Ferguson, taking in the whole scene at a rapid
glance, approached the wooden couch on which the sultan
lay reclining. There he saw a man of about forty, com-
pletely brutalized by orgies of every description, and in a
condition that left little or nothing to be done. The sick-
ness that had afflicted him for so many years was simply
perpetual drunkenness. The royal sot had nearly lost all
consciousness, and all the ammonia in the world would
not have set him on his feet again.
His favorites and the women kept on bended knees
during this solemn visit. By means of a few drops of
powerful cordial, the doctor for a moment reanimated the
imbruted carcass that lay before him. The sultan stirred,
and, for a dead body that had given no sign whatever of
life for several hours previously, this symptom was re-
ceived with a tremendous repetition of shouts and cries in
the doctorâ€™s honor.
The latter, who had seen enough of it by this time, - a
rapid. mction put aside his too demonstrative admirers
and went out of the palace, directing his steps immedi-
ately toward the balloon, for it was now six oâ€™clock in the
Joe, during his absence, had been quietly waiting at
the foot of the ladder, where the crowd paid him their
most humble respects. Like a genuine son of the moon,
he let them keep on. For a divinity, he had the air of a
very clever sort of fellow, by no means proud, nay, even
pleasingly familiar with the young negresses, who seemed
JOE DANCES A REEL. 117
never to tire of looking at him. Besides, he went so far
as to chat agreeably with them.
â€œWorship me, ladies! worship me!â€ he said to them.
â€œTm a clever sort of devil, if I am the son of a goddess.â€
They brought him propitiatory gifts, such as are usu-
ally deposited in the fetich huts or mzimu. These gifts
consisted of stalks of barley and of â€œpombÃ©.â€ Joe con-
sidered himself in duty bound to taste the latter species
of strong beer, but his palate, although accustomed to gin
and whiskey, could not withstand the strength of the new
beverage, and he had to make a horrible grimace, which
his dusky friends took to be a benevolent smile.
Thereupon, the young damsels, conjoining their voices
in a drawling chant, began to dance around him with the
â€œ Ah! you're dancing, are you?â€ said he. â€œ Well, I
won't be behind you in politeness, and so I'll give you one
of my country reels.â€
So at it he went, in one of the wildest jigs that ever
was seen, twisting, turning, and jerking himself in all di-
rections; dancing with his hands, dancing with his body,
dancing with his knees, dancing with his feet; describing
the most fearful contortions and extravagant evolutions ;
throwing himself into incredible attitudes; grimacing be-
yond all belief, and, in fine, giving his savage admirers a
strange idea of the style of ballet adopted by the deities
in the moon.
Then, the whole collection of blacks, naturally as imi-
tative as monkeys, at once reproduced all his airs and
graces, his leaps and shakes and contortions; they did
not lose a single gesticulation; they did not forget an atti-
tude; and the result was, such a pandemonium of move-
ment, noise, and excitement, as it would be out of the
question even feebly to describe, But, in the very midst
of the fun, Joe saw the doctor approaching.
118 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The latter was coming at full speed, surrounded by a
yelling and disorderly throng. The chiefs and sorcerers
seemed to be highly excited. They were close upon the
doctorâ€™s heels, crowding and threatening him,
Singular reaction! What had happened ? Had the
sultan unluckily perished in the hands of his celestial
Kennedy, from his post of observation, saw the danger
without knowing what had caused it, and the balloon,
powerfully urged by the dilation of the gas, strained and
tugged at the ropes that held it as though impatient to
The doctor had got as far as the foot of the ladder. A
superstitious fear still held the crowd aloof and hindered
them from committing any violence on his person. He
rapidly scaled the ladder, and Joe followed him with his
â€œNot a moment to lose!â€ said the doctor. â€œDonâ€™t
attempt to let go the anchor! We'll cut the cord! Fol-
low me!â€ ,
â€œBut whatâ€™s the matter?â€ asked Joe, clambering into
â€œWhatâ€™s happened?â€ questioned Kennedy, rifle in
â€œLook!â€ replied the avctor, pointing to the horizon.
â€œWell?â€ ejaculated the Scot.
â€œWell! the moon!â€
And, in fact, there was the moon rising red and mag-
nificent, a globe of fire in a field of blue! It was she, in-
deedâ€”she and the balloon !â€”both in one sky!
Either there were two moons, then, or these strangers
were impostors, designing scamps, false deities!
Such were the very natural reflections of the crowd,
and hence the reaction in their feelings.
Joe could not, for the life of him, keep in a roar of
THE SORCERER UALRIED OFF. 119
laughter; and the population of Kazeh, comprehending
that their prey was slipping through their clutches, set
up prolonged howlings, aiming, the while, their bows and
muskets at the balloon.
But one of the sorcerers made a sign, and all the
weapons were lowered. He then began to climb into the
tree, intending to seize the rope and bring the machine to
Joe leaned out with a hatchet ready. â€œShall I cut
away ?â€ said he.
â€œNo; wait a moment,â€ replied the doctor.
â€œBut this black?â€
â€œWe may, perhaps, save our anchorâ€”and I hold a
great deal by that. Thereâ€™ll always be time enough to
The sorcerer, having climbed to the right place, work-
ed so vigorously that he succeeded in detaching the an-
chor, and the latter, violently jerked, at that moment,
by the start of the balloon, caught the rascal between
the limbs, and carried him off astride of it through the
The stupefaction of the crowd was indescribable as
they saw one of their waganga thus whirled away into
â€œHuzza!â€ roared Joe, as the balloonâ€”thanks to its
ascensional forceâ€”shot up higher into the sky, with in-
; â€œHe holds on well,â€ said Kennedy; â€œa little trip will
do him good.â€
â€œ Shall we let this darkey drop all at once?â€ inquired
â€œOh no,â€ replied the doctor, â€œwe'll let him down
easily; and I warrant me that, after such an adventure,
the power of the wizard will be enormously enhanced in
the sight of his comrades.â€
120 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œWhy, I wouldnâ€™t put it past them to make a god of
him!â€ said Joe, with a laugh.
The Victoria, by this time, had risen to the height of
one thousand feet, and the black hung to the rope with
desperate energy. He had become completely silent, and
his eyes were fixed, for his terror was blended with amaze-
over the town, and far beyond it. |
Half an hour later, the doctor, seeing the country de-
serted, moderated the flame of his cylinder, and descended
toward the ground. At twenty feet above the turf, the
affrighted sorcerer made up his mind in a twinkling: he
let himself drop, fell on his feet, and scampered off at a
furious pace toward Kazeh; while the balloon, suddenly
relieved of his weight, again shot up on her course.
Symptoms of a Storm.â€”The Country of the Moon.â€”The Future of the African
Continent.â€”The Last Machine of all_â€”A View of the Country at Sunset.â€”
Flora and Fauna.â€”Tne Tempest.â€”The Zone of Fire.â€”The Starry Heavens.
â€œSux,â€ said Joe, â€œwhat comes of playing the sons of
the moon without her leave! She came near serving us
an ugly trick. But say, master, did you damage your
credit as a physician?â€
â€œYes, indeed,â€ chimed in the sportsman. â€œ What kind
of & dignitary was this Sultan of Kazeh?â€
â€œAn old halfdead sot,â€ replied the doctor, â€œwhose
loss will not be very severely felt. But the moral of all
this is that honors are fleeting, and we must not take too
great a fancy to them.â€
â€œSo much the worse!â€ rejoined Joe. â€œTI liked the
thingâ€”to be worshipped !â€”Play the god as you like!
Why, what would any one ask more than that? By-the-
way, the moon did come up, too, and all red, as if she
was in a rage.â€
While the three friends went on chatting of this and
other things, and Joe examined the luminary of night
from an entirely novel point of view, the heavens became
covercd with heavy clouds to the northward, and the lower-
ing masses assumed a most sinister and threatening look,
Quite a smart breeze, found about three hundred feet from
the carth, drove the balloon toward the north-northeast ;
and above it the blue vault was clear; but the atmosphere
felt, close and dulL
122 FIVF WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The aÃ©ronaxis found themselves, at about eight in the
evening, in thirty-two degrees forty minutes east longi-
tude, and four degrees seventeen minutes latitude. The
atmospheric currents, under the influence of a tempest
not far off, were driving them at the rate of from thirty
to thirty-five miles an hour; the undulating and fertile
plains of Mfuto were passing swiftly beneath them. The
spectacle was one worthy of admirationâ€”and admire it
â€œWe are now right in the country of the Moon,â€ said
Dr. Ferguson; â€œfor it has retained the name that anti-
quity gave it, undoubtedly, because the moon has becn
worshipped there in all ages. It is, really, a superb
â€œTt would be hard to find more splendid vegetation.â€
â€œTf we found the like of it around London it would
not be natural, but it would be very pleasant,â€ put in Joe.
â€œWhy is it that such savage countries get all these fine
â€œ And who knows,â€ said the doctor, â€œthat this country
may not, one day, become the centre of civilization? The
races of the future may repair hither, when Europe shall
have become exhausted in the effort to feed her inhabitants.â€
â€œDo you think so, really?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œUndoubtedly, my dear Dick. Just note the prog-
ress of events: consider the migrations of races, and you
will arrive at the same conclusion assuredly. Asia was
the first nurse of the world, was she not? For about four .
thousand years she travailed, she grew pregnant, she pro-
duced, and then, when stones began to cover the soil
where the golden harvests sung by Homer had flourished,
her children abandoned her exhausted and barren bosom.
You next see them precipitating themselves upon young
and vigorous Europe, which has nourished them for the
last two thousand years. But already her fertility is be-
ginning to die out; her productive powers are diminishing
every day. Those new diseases that annually attack the
products of the soil, those defective crops, those insufii-
cient resources, are all signs of a vitality that is rapidly
wearing out and of an approaching exhaustion. Thus, we
already see the millions rushing to the luxuriant bosom of
America, as a source of help, not inexhaustible indeed, but
not yet exhausted. In its turn, that new continent will
grow old; its virgin forests will fall before the axe of in-
dustry, and its soil will become weak through having too
fully produced what had been demanded of it. Where
two harvests bloomed every year, hardly one will be gath-
ered from a soil completely drained of its strength. Then,
Africa will be there to offer to new races the treasures
that for centuries have been accumulating in her breast.
Those climates now so fatal to strangers will be purified by
cultivation and by drainage of the soil, and those scattered
water supplies will be gathered into one common bed to
form an artery of navigation. Then this country over
which we are now passing, more fertile, richer, and fuller
of vitality than the rest, will become some grand realm
where more astonishing discoveries than steam and elec-
tricity will be brought to light.â€
â€œ Ah! sir,â€ said Joe, â€œId like to see all that.â€
â€œYou got up too early in the morning, my boy!â€
â€œ Besides,â€ said Kennedy, â€œthat may prove to be a
very dull period when industry â€˜will swallow up every
thing for its own profit. By dint of inventing machinery,
men will end in being eaten up by it! Ihave always
fancied that the end of the earth will be when some enor-
mous boiler, heated to three thousand millions of atmos-
pheric pressure, shall explode and blow up our Globe!â€
â€œ And I add that the Americans,â€ said Joe, â€œ will not
have been the last to work at the machine!â€
â€œTr fact,â€ assented the doctor, â€œthey are great boiler-
124 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
makcrs! But, without allowing ourselves to be carried
away by such speculations, let us rest content with enjoy-
ing the beauties of this country of the Moon, since we have
been permitted to see it.â€
The sun, darting his last rays beneath the masses of
heaped-up cloud, adorned with a crest of gold the slightest
inequalities of the ground below; gigantic trees, arbores-
cent bushes, mosses on the even surfaceâ€”all had their
share of this luminous effulgence. The soil, slightly undu-
lating, here and there rose into little conical hills; there
were no mountains visible on the horizon ; immense bram-
bly palisades, impenetrable hedges of thorny jungle, sepa-
rated the clearings dotted with numerous villages, and
immense euphorbiz surrounded them with natural fortiti-
cations, interlacing their trunks with the coral-shaped
branches of the shrubbery and undergrowth.
Ere long, the Malagazeri, the chief tributary of Lake
Taganayika, was seen winding between heavy thickets
of verdure, offering an asylum to many water-courses that
spring from the torrents formed in the season of freshets,
or from ponds hollowed in the clayey soil. To observers
looking from a height, it was a chain of waterfalls thrown
across the whole western face of the country.
Animals with huge humps were feeding in the luxuri-
ant prairies, and were half hidden, sometimes, in the tall
grass; spreading forests in bloom redolent of spicy per-
fumes presented themselves to the gaze like immense bou-
quets; but, in these bouquets, lions, leopards, hyenas, and
tigers, were then crouching for shelter from the last hot
rays of the setting sun. From time to time, an elephant
made the tall tops of the undergrowth sway to and fro,
and you could hear the crackling of huge branches as his
ponderous ivory tusks broke them in his way.
â€œWhat a sporting country!â€ exclaimed Dick, unable
longer to restrain his enthusiasm ; â€œ why, a single ball fired
THE COMING TEMPEST. 125
at random into those forests would bring down game
worthy of it. Suppose we just try it once!â€
â€œNo, my dear Dick; the night is close at handâ€”a
threatening night with a tempest in the backgroundâ€”and
the storms are awful in this country, where the heated soil
is like one vast clectric battery.â€
â€œ You are right, sir,â€ said Joe, â€œthe heat has got to be
enough to choke one, and the breeze has died away. One
can feel that somethingâ€™s coming.â€
â€œThe atmosphere is saturated with electricity,â€ replied
the doctor; â€œevery living creature is sensible that this
state of the air portends a struggle of the elements, and I
confess that I never before was so full of the fluid myself.â€
â€œWell, then,â€ suggested Dick, â€œ would it not be advis-
able to alight ?â€
â€œOn the contrary, Dick, ?d rather go up, only that I
am afraid of being carried out of my course by these
counter-currents contending in the atmosphere.â€
â€œYave you any idea, then, of abandoning the route
that we have followed since we left the coast ?â€
â€œTf I can manage to do so,â€ replied the doctor, â€œI will
turn more directly northward, by from seven to eight de-
grees; I shall then endeavor to ascend toward the pre-
sumed latitudes of the sources of the Nile; perhaps we
may discover some traces of Captain Spekeâ€™s expedition
or of M. de Heuglinâ€™s caravan. Unless I am mistaken, we
are at thirty-two degrees forty minutes east longitude,
and I should like to ascend directly north of the equator.â€
â€œLook there!â€ exclaimed Kennedy, suddenly, â€œsce
those hippopotami sliding out of the poolsâ€”those masses
of blood-colored fleshâ€”and those crocodiles snuffing the
â€œPheyâ€™re choking!â€ ejaculated Joe. â€œAh! what afine
way to travel this is; and how one can snap his fingers at
all that vermin!â€”Doctor! Mr. Kennedy ! see those packs
126 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
of wild animals hurrying along close together. There are
fully two hundred. Those are wolves.â€
â€œNo! Joe, not wolves, but wild dogs; a famous breed
that does not hesitate to attack the lion himself. They
are the worst customers a traveller could meet, for they
would instantly tear him to pieces.â€
â€œWell, it isnâ€™t Joe that'll undertake to muzzle them!â€
responded that amiable youth. â€œAfter all, though, if
thatâ€™s the nature of the beast, me mustnâ€™t be too hard on
them for it!â€
Silence gradually settled down under the influence of
the impending storm: the thickened air actually seemed
no longer adapted to the transmission of sound; the at-
mosphere appeared muffled, and, like a room hung with
Ã©apestry, lost all its sonorous reverberation. The â€œrov-
er birdâ€ so-called, the coroneted crane, the red and
blue jays, the mocking-bird, the flycatcher, disappeared
among the foliage of the immense trees, and all nature
revealed symptoms of some approaching catastrophe.
At nine oâ€™clock the Victoria hung motionless over
MsÃ©nÃ©, an extensive group of villages scarcely distinguish-
able in the gloom. Once ina while, the reflection of a
wandering ray of light in the dull water disclosed a suc-
cession of ditches regularly arranged, and, by one last
gleam, the eye could make out the calm and sombre forms
of palm-trees, sycamores, and gigantic euphorbiz.
â€œTam stifling!â€ said the Scot, inhaling, with all the
power of his lungs, as much as possible of the rarefied air.
â€œWe are not moving an inch! Let us descend!â€
â€œBut the tempest!â€ said the doctor, with much un-
â€œTf you are afraid of being carried away by the wind,
it seems to me that there is no other course to pursue.â€
â€œPerhaps the storm wonâ€™t burst to-night,â€ saia Joe;
â€œthe clouds are very high.â€
PREPARING FOR THE STORM. 127
â€œThat is just the thing that makes me hesitate about
poing beyond them; we should have to rise still higher,
lose sight of the earth, and not know all night whether
we were moving forward or not, or in what direction we
â€œMake up your mind, dear doctor, for time press-
â€œItâ€™s a pity that the wind has fallen,â€ said Joe, again;
â€œit would have carried us clear of the storm.â€
â€œTt is, indeed, a pity, my friends,â€ rejoined the doctor.
â€œThe clouds are dangerous for us; they contain opposing
currents which might catch us in their eddies, and light-
nings that might set on fire. Again, those perils avoided,
the force of the tempest might hurl us to the ground, were
we to cast our anchor in the tree-tops.â€
â€œThen what shall we do?â€
â€œWell, we must try to get the balloon into a medium
zone of the atmosphere, and there keep her suspended be-
tween the perils of the heavens and those of the earth.
We have enough water for the cylinder, and our two hun-
dred. pounds of ballast are untouched. In case of emer-
gency I can use them.â€
â€œWe will keep watch with you,â€ said the hunter.
â€œNo, my friends, put the provisions under shelter, and
lie down; I will rouse you, if it becomes necessary.â€
â€œBut, master, wouldnâ€™t you do well to take some rest
yourself, as thereâ€™s no danger close on us just now?â€ in-
sisted poor Joe.
â€œNo, thank you, my good fellow, I prefer to keep-
awake. We are not moving, and should circumstances
not change, we'll find ourselves to-morrow in exactly the
â€œ Good-night, then, sir!â€
â€œ Good-night, if you can only find it so!â€
Kennedy and Joe stretched themselves out under their
128 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
blankets, and the doctor remained alone in the immensity
However, the huge dome of clouds visibly descended,
and the darkness became profound. The black vault
closed in upon the earth as if to crush it in its embrace.
All at once a violent, rapid, incisive flash of lightning
pierced the gloom, and the rent it made had not closed
ere a frightful clap of thunder shook the celestial depths.
â€œUp! up! turn out!â€ shouted Ferguson.
The two sleepers, aroused by the terrible concussion,
were at the doctorâ€™s orders in a moment.
â€œShall we descend?â€ said Kennedy.
â€œNo! the batloon could not stand it. Let us go up
before those clouds dissolve in water, and the wind is let
loose!â€ and, so saying, the doctor actively stirred up the
flame of the cylinder, and turned it on the spirals of the
The tempests of the tropics develop with a rapidity
equalled only by their violence. A second flash of light-
ning rent the darkness, and was followed by a score of
others in quick sucecssion. The sky was crossed and dot-
ted, like the zebraâ€™s hide, with electric sparks, which danced
and flickered bencath the great drops of rain.
â€œWe have delayed too long,â€ exclaimed the doctor;
â€œwe must now pass through a zone of fire, with our bal-
loon filled as it is with inflammable gas!â€
â€œBut let us descend, then! let us descend!â€ urged
â€œThe risk of being struck would be just about even,
and we should soon be torn to pieces by the branches of
â€œWe are going up, doctor!â€
â€œ Quicker, quicker still!â€
In this part of Africa, during the equatorial storms, it
is not rare to count from thirty to thirty-five flashes of
IN THE sTORM. 129
lightning per minute. The sky is literally on fire, and the
crashes of thunder are continuous.
The wind burst forth with frightful violence in this
burning atmosphere; it twisted the blazing clouds; one
might have compared it to the breath of some gigantic
bellows, fanning all this conflagration.
Dr. Ferguson kept his cylinder at fulk heat, and the
balloon dilated and went up, while Kennedy, on his knees,
held together the curtains of the awning. The balloon
whirled round wildly enough to make their heads turn,
and the aÃ©ronauts got some very alarming jolts, indeed, as
their machine swung and swayed in all directions. Tuge
cavities would form in the silk of the balloon as the wind
fiercely bent it in, and the stuff fairly cracked like a pistol
as it flew back from the pressure. A sort of hail, pre-
ceded by a rumbling noise, hissed through the air and
rattied on the covering of the Victoria. The latter, how-
ever, continued to ascend, while the lightning described
tangents to the convexity of her circumference; but she
bore on, right through the midst of the fire.
â€œGod protect us!â€ said Dr. Ferguson, solemnly, â€œwe
are in His hands; He alone can save usâ€”but let us be
ready for every event, even for fireâ€”our fall could not be
The doctorâ€™s voice could scarcely be heard by his.com-
panions; but they could see his countenance calm as ever
even amid the flashing of the lightnings; he was watching
the phenomena of phosphorescence produced by the fires
of St. Elmo, that were now skipping to and fro along the
network of the balloon.
The latter whirled and swung, but steadily ascended,
and, ere the hour was over, it had passed the stormy belt.
The electric display was going on below it like a vast
crown of artificial fireworks suspended from the car.
Then they enjoyed one of the grandest spectacles that
130 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Nature can offer to the gaze of man. Below them, the
tempest; above them, the starry firmament, tranquil,
mute, impassible, with the moon projecting her peaceful
rays over these angry clouds.
Dr. Ferguson consulted the barometer; it announced
twelve thousand feet of elevation. It was then eleven
oâ€™clock at night.
â€œThank Heaven, all danger is past; all we have to do
now, is, to keep ourselves at this height,â€ said the doctor.
â€œTt was frightful!â€ remarked Kennedy. .
â€œOh!â€ said Joe, â€œit gives a little variety to the trip,
and Iâ€™m not sorry to have seen a storm from a trifling dis-
tance up in the air. Itâ€™s a fine sight!â€
The Mountains of the Moon.â€”An Ocean of Verdure.â€”They cast Anchor.â€”The
Towing Elephant.â€”A Running Fire.â€”Death of the Monster.â€”The Field-
Oven.â€”A Meal on the Grass.â€”A Night on the Ground,
Asout four in the morning, Monday, the sun reap-
peared in the horizon; the clouds had dispersed, and a
cheery breeze refreshed the morning dawn.
The earth, all redolent with fragrant exhalations, re-
appeared to the gaze of our travellers. The balloon,
whirled about by opposing currents, had hardly budged
from its place, and the doctor, letting the gas contract,
descended so as to get a more northerly direction. For
a long while his quest was fruitless; the wind carried him
toward the west until he came in sight of the famous
Mountains of the Moon, which grouped themselves in a
semicircle around the extremity of Lake Taganayika ; their
ridges, but slightly indented, stood out against the bluish
horizon, so that they might have been mistaken for a nat-
ural fortification, not to be passed by the explorers of the
centre of Africa. Among them were a few isolated cones,
revealing the mark of the eternal snows.
â€œ Here we are at last,â€ said the doctor, â€œin an unex-
plored country! Captain Burton pushed very far to the
westward, but he could not reach those celebrated moun-
tains; he even denied their existence, strongly as it was
affirmed by Speke, his companion. He pretended that
they were born in the latterâ€™s fancy; but for us, my
friends, there is no further doubt possible.â€
132 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
â€œShall we cross them?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œNot, if it please God. Iam looking for a wind that
will take me back toward the equator. I will even wait
for one, if necessary, and will make the balloon like a ship
that casts anchor, until favorable breezes come up.â€
But the foresight of the doctor was not long in bring-
ing its reward; for, after having tried different heights,
the Victoria at length began to sail off to the northeast-
ward with medium speed.
â€œWe are in the right track,â€ said the doctor, consult-
ing his compass, â€œand scarcely two hundred feet from the
surface; lucky circumstances for us, enabling us, as they
do, to reconnoitre these new regions. When Captain
Speke set out to discover Lake UkÃ©rÃ©ouÃ©, he ascended
more to the eastward in a straight line above Kazch.â€
â€œShall we keep on long in this way?â€ inquired the
â€œPerhaps. Our object is to push a point in the direc-
tion of the sources of the Nile; and we have more than
six hundred miles to make before we get to the extreme
limit reached by the explorers who came from the
â€œ And we shanâ€™t set foot on the solid ground?â€ mur-
mured Joe;. â€œitâ€™s enough to cramp a fellowâ€™s legs!â€
â€œOh, yes, indeed, my good Joe,â€ said the doctor, re-
assuring him; â€œwe have to economize our provisions, you
know; and on the way, Dick, you must get us some fresh
â€œWhenever you like, doctor.â€
â€œWe shall also have to replenish our stock of water.
Who knows but we may be carried to some of the dried-
up regions? So we cannot take too many precautions.â€
At noon the Victoria was at twenty-nine degrees fifteen
minutes east longitude, and three degrees fifteeen minutes
south latitude. She passed the village of Uyofu, the last
LOOKING FOR AN ANCHORAGE. 1383
northern limit of the Unyamwezi, opposite to the Lake
UkÃ©rÃ©ouÃ©, which could still be seen.
The tribes living near to the equator seem to be a lit-
tle more civilized, and are governed by absolute monarchs,
whose control is an unlimited despotism. Their most com-
pact union of power constitutes the province of Kara-
Jt was decided by the aÃ©ronauts that they would
alight at the first favorable place. They found that they
should have to make a prolonged halt, and take a careful
inspection of the balloon: so the flame of the cylinder
was moderated, and the anchors, flung out from the car,
ere long began to sweep the grass of an immense prairie,
that, from a certain height, looked like a shaven lawn,
but the growth of which, in reality, was from seven to
eight feet in height.
The balloon skimmed this tall grass without bending
it, like a gigantic butterfly: not an obstacle was in sight;
it was an ocean of verdure without a single breaker.
â€œWe might proceed a long time in this style,â€ re-
marked Kennedy; â€œI donâ€™t see one tree that we could
approach, and Iâ€™m afraid that our huntâ€™s over.â€
â€œWait, Dick; you could not hunt anyhow in this
grass, that grows higher than your head. We'll find a
favorable place presently.â€
In truth, it was a charming excursion that they were
making nowâ€”a veritable navigation on this green, almost
transparent sea, gently undulating in the breath of the
wind. The little car seemed to cleave the waves of ver-
dure, and, from time to time, coveys of birds of magnifi-
cent plumage would rise fluttering from the tall herbage,
and speed away with joyous cries. The anchors plunged
into this lake of flowers, and traced a furrow that closed
behind them, like the wake of a ship.
All at once a sharp shock was feltâ€”the anchor had
134 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
caught in the fissure of some rock hidden in the high
â€œWe are fast!â€ exclaimed Joe.
These words had scarcely been uttered when a shrill
cry rang through the air, and the following phrases, min-
gled with exclamations, escaped from the lips of our trav:
â€œ'Whatâ€™s that ?â€
â€œ A strange cry!â€
â€œLook! Why, weâ€™re moving!â€
â€œThe anchor has slipped!â€
â€œNo; it holds, and holds fast too!â€ said Joe, who
was tugging at the rope.
â€œTtâ€™s the rock, then, thatâ€™s moving!â€
An immense rustling was noticed in the grass, and
soon an elongated, winding shape was seen rising above it.
â€œ A serpent!â€ shouted Joe.
â€œ A serpent!â€ repeated Kennedy, handling his rifle.
â€œNo,â€ said the doctor, â€œ itâ€™s an elephantâ€™s trunk!â€
â€œ An elephant, Samuel ?â€
And, as Kennedy said this, he drew his rifle to his
â€œWait, Dick; wait!â€
â€œThatâ€™s a fact! The animalâ€™s towing us!â€
â€œ And in the right direction, Joeâ€”in the right direc-
The elephant was now making some headway, and
soon reached a clearing where his whole body could be
seen. By his gigantic size, the doctor recognized a male
of a superb species. He had two whitish tusks, beauti-
fully curved, and about eight feet in length; and in these
the shanks of the anchor had firmly caught. The animal
was vainly trying with his trunk to disengage himself from
the rope that attached him to the car.
â€œGet upâ€”go ahead, old fellow!â€ shouted Joe, with
SEEING THE ELEPHANT. 135
delight, doing his best to urge this rather novel team.
â€œ Tere is a new style of travelling !â€”no more horses for
mu. An elephant, if you please!â€
â€œ But where is he taking us to?â€ said Kennedy, whose
rifle itched in his grasp.
â€œTeâ€™s taking us exactly to where we want to go, my
dear Dick. A little patience!â€
â€œÂ¢Wig-a-more! wig-a-more!â€™ as the Scotch country
folks say,â€ shouted Joe, in high glee. â€œGee-up! gee-up
The huge animal now broke into a very rapid gallop.
He flung his trunk from side to side, and his monstrous
bounds gave the car several rather heavy thumps. Mean-
while the doctor stood ready, hatchet in hand, to cut the
rope, should need arise.
â€œBut,â€ said he, â€œwe shall not give up our anchor until
the last moment.â€
This drive, with an elephant for the team, lasted about
an hour and a half; yet the animal did not seem in the
least fatigued, These immense creatures can go over a
great deal of ground, and, from one day to another, are
found at enormous distances from where they were last
seen, like the whales, whose mass and speed they rival.
â€œTn fact,â€ said Joe, â€œitâ€™s a whale that we have har-
pooned; and weâ€™re only doing just what whalemen do
when out fishing.â€
But a change in the nature of the ground compelled
the doctor to vary his style of locomotion. A dense grove
of calmadores was descried on the horizon, about three
miles away, on the north of the prairie. So it became
necessary to detach the balloon from its draught-animal
Kennedy was intrusted with the job of bringing the
elephant to a halt. He drew his rifle to his sionldÃ©n, but
his position was not favorable to a successful shot; so
136 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
that the first ball fired flattened itself on the animalâ€™s
skull, as it would have done against an iron plate. The
creature did not seem in the least troubled by it; but, at
the sound of the discharge, he had increased his speed,
and now was going as fast as a horse at full gallop.
â€œThe deuce!â€ ejaculated Kennedy.
â€œWhat a solid head!â€ commented Joe.
â€œWe'll try some conical balls behind the shoulder-
joint,â€ said Kennedy, reloading his rifle with care. In
another moment he fired.
The animal gave aterrible cry, but went on faster than
â€œCome!â€ said Joe, taking aim with another gun, â€œI
must help you, or we'll never end it.â€ And now two balls
penetrated the creatureâ€™s side.
The elephant halted, lifted his trunk, and resumed his
run toward the wood with all his speed; he shook his huge
head, and the blood began to gush from his wounds.
â€œLet us keep up our fire, Mr. Kennedy.â€
â€œ And a continuous fire, too,â€ urged the doctor, â€œ for
we are close on the woods.â€
Ten shots more were discharged. The elephant made
a fearful bound; the car and balloon cracked as though
every thing were going to pieces, and the shock made the
doctor drop his hatchet on the ground.
The situation was thus rendered really very alarming ;
the anchor-rope, which had securely caught, could not be
disengaged, nor could it yet be cut by the knives of our
aÃ©ronauts, and the balloon was rushing headlong toward
the wood, when the animal received a ball in the eye just
as he lifted his head. On this he halted, faltered, his knees
bent under him, and he uncovered his whole flank to the
assaults of his enemies in the balloon.
â€œA bullet in his heart!â€ said Kennedy, discharging
one last rifie-shot.
THE ELEPHANT KILLED, 137
The elephant uttered a long bellow of terror and agony,
then raised himself up for a moment, twirling his trunk in
the air, and finally fell with all his weight upon one of his
tusks, which he broke off short. He was dead.
â€œHis tuskâ€™s broken!â€ exclaimed Kennedyâ€”* ivory
too that in England would bring thirty-five guineas per
â€œ As much as that?â€ said Joe, scrambling down to the
ground by the anchor-rope.
â€œWhatâ€™s the use of sighing over it, Dick?â€ said the
doctor. â€œAre we ivory merchants? Did we come hither
to make money ?â€ ,
Joe examined the anchor and found it solidly attached
to the unbroken tusk. The doctor and Dick leaped out on
the ground, while the balloon, now half emptied, hovered
over the body of the huge animal.
â€œWhat a splendid beast!â€ said Kennedy, â€œwhat a
mass of flesh! I never saw an elephant of that size in
â€œThereâ€™s nothing surprising about that, my dear Dick;
the elephants of Central Africa are the finest in the world.
The Andersons and the Cummings have hunted so inces-
santly in the neighborhood of the Cape, that these animals
have migrated to the equator, where they are often met
with in large herds.â€
â€œJn the mean while, I hope,â€ added Joe, â€œthat weâ€™ll
taste a morsel of this fellow. Ill undertake to get you a
good dinner at his expense. Mr. Kennedy will go off and
hunt for an hour or two; the doctor will make an inspec-
tion of the balloon, and, while theyâ€™re busy in that way,
Tl do the cooking.â€
â€œ A good arrangement!â€ said the doctor; â€œso do as
you like, Joe.â€
â€œ As for me,â€ said the hunter, â€œT shall avail myself of
the two hoursâ€™ recess that Joe has condescended to let
138 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
â€œGo, my friend, but no imprudence! Donâ€™t wander
too far away.â€
â€œ Never fear, doctor!â€ and, so saying, Dick, shoulder-
ing his gun, plunged into the woods.
Forthwith Joe went to work at his vocation. At first
he made a hole in the ground two feet deep; this he filled
with the dry wood that was so abundantly scattered about,
where it had been strewn by the elephants, whose tracks
could be seen where they had made their way through the
forest. This hole filled, he heaped a pile of fagots on it
a foot in height, and set fire to it.
Then he went back to the carcass of the elephant,
which had fallen only about a hundred fect from the edge
of the forest; he next proceeded adroitly to cut off the
trunk, which might have been two feet in diameter at the
base; of this he selected the most delicate portion, and
then took with it one of the animalâ€™s spongy feet. In fact,
these are the finest morsels, like the hump of the bison, the
paws of the bear, and the head of the wild boar.
When the pile of fagots had been thoroughly con-
sumed, inside and outside, the hole, cleared of the cinders
and hot coals, retained a very high temperature. The
pieces of elephant-meat, surrounded with aromatic leaves,
were placed in this extempore oven and covered with hot
coals. Then Joe piled up a second heap of sticks over all,
and when it had burned out the meat was cooked to aturn.
Then Joe took the viands from the oven, spread the
savory mess upon green leaves, and arranged his dinner
upon a magnificent patch of greensward. He finally
brought out some biscuit, some coffee, and some cognac,
and got a can of pure, fresh water from a neighboring
The repast thus prepared was a pleasant sight to be
hold, and Joe, without being too proud, thought that it
would also be pleasant to eat.
EXAMINATION OF THE BALLOON. 139
Â« A journey without danger or fatigue,â€ he soliloquized ;
â€˜your meals when you please; a swinging hammock all
the time! What more could a man ask? And there was
.Kennedy, who didnâ€™t want to come !â€
On his part, Dr. Ferguson was engrossed in a serious
and thorough examination of the balloon. The latter did
not appear to have suffered from the storm; the silk and
the gutta percha had resisted wonderfully, and, upon esti-
mating the exact height of the ground and the ascensional
force of the balloon, our aÃ©ronaut saw, with satisfaction,
that the hydrogen was in exactly the same quantity as
before. The covering had remained completely water-
It was now only five days since our travellers had
quitted Zanzibar; their pemmican had not yet been
touched ; their stock of biscuit and potted meat was enough
for a one trip, and there was } nothing to be replenished
but the water.
The pipes and spiral seemed to be in perfect condition,
since, thanks to their india-rubber jointings, they had
yielded to all the oscillations of the balloon, THis exami-
nation ended, the doctor betook himself to setting his
notes in order. He made a very accurate sketch of the
surrounding landscape, with its long prairie stretching
away out of sight, the forest of calmadores, and the bal-
loon resting motionless over the body of the dead ele-
At the end of his two hours, Kennedy returned with a
string of fat partridges and the haunch of an ory, a sort
of gemsbok belonging to the most agile species of ante-
lopes. Joe took upon himself to prepare this surplus stock
of provisions for a later repast.
â€œBut, dinnerâ€™s ready !â€ he shouted in his most musical
And the three travellers had only to sit down op the
140 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
green turf. The trunk and feet of the elephant were de-
elared to be exquisite. Old England was toasted, as usual,
and delicious Havanas perfumed this charming country
for the first time.
Kennedy ate, drank, and chatted, like four; he was
perfectly delighted with his new life, and seriously pro-
posed to the doctor to settle in this forest, to construct a
cabin of boughs and foliage, and, there and then, to lay the
foundation of a Robinson Crusoe dynasty in Africa.
The proposition went no further, although Joe had, at
once, selected the part of Man Friday for himself.
The country seemed so quiet, so deserted, that the
doctor resolved to pass the night on the ground, and Joe
arranged a circle of watch-fires as an indispensable barrier
against wild animals, for the hyenas, cougars, and jackals,
attracted. by the smell of the dead elephant, were prowling
about in the neighborhood. Kennedy had to fire his rifle
several times at these unceremonious visitors, but the
night passed without any untoward occurrence.
The Karagwah.â€”Lake UkÃ©rÃ©ouÃ©.â€”A Night on an Island.â€”The Equator.â€”
Crossing the Lake.â€”The Cascades.â€”-A View of the Country.â€”The Sources
of the Nile.â€”The Island of Benga.â€”The Signature of Andrea Debono.â€”The
Flag with the Arms of England.
Ar five oâ€™clock in the morning, preparations for de-
parture commenced. Joe, with the hatchet which he had
fortunately recovered, broke the elephantâ€™s tusks. The
balloon, restored to liberty, sped away to the northwest
with our travellers, at the rate of eighteen miles per hour.
The doctor had carefully taken his position by the alti-
tude of the stars, during the preceding night. He knew
that he was in latitude two degrees forty minutes below
the equator, or at a distance of one hundred and sixty
geographical miles. He swept along over many villages
without heeding the cries that the appearance of the bal-
loon excited; he took note of the conformation of places
with quick sights; he passed the slopes of the Rubemhe,
which are nearly as abrupt as the summits of the Ousa-
gara, and, farther on, at Tenga, encountered the first pro-
jections of the Karagwah chains, which, in his opinion,
are direct spurs of the Mountains of the Moon. So, the
ancient legend which made these mountains the cradle of
the Nile, came near to the truth, since they really border
upon Lake UkÃ©rÃ©ouÃ©, the conjectured reservoir of the
waters of the great river.
From Kafuro, the main district of the merchants of
that country, he descried, at length, on the horizon, the
142 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
lake so much desired and so long sought for, of which
Captain Speke caught a glimpse on the 3d of August,
Samuel Ferguson felt real emotion: he was almost in
contact with one of the principal points of his expedition,
and, with his spy-glass constantly raised, he kept every
nook and corner of the mysterious region in sight. His
gaze wandered over details that might have been thus
â€œBeneath him extended a country generally destitute
of cultivation; only here and there some ravines seemed
under tillage ; the surface, dotted with peaks of medium
height, grew flat as it approached the lake; barley-fields
took the place of rice-plantations, and there, too, could be
seen growing the species of plantain from which the wine
of the country is drawn, and mwant, the wild plant which
supplies a substitute for coffee. A collection of some fifty
or more circular huts, covered with a flowering thatch,
constituted the capital of the Karagwah country.â€
He could easily distinguish the astonished counte-
nances of a rather fine-looking race of natives of yellowish-
brown complexion, Women of incredible corpulence
were dawdling about through the cultivated grounds, and
the doctor greatly surprised his companions by informing
them that this rotundity, which is highly esteemed in that
region, was obtained by an obligatory diet of curdled milk.
At noon, the Victoria was in one degree forty-five
minutes south latitude, and at one oâ€™clock the wind was
driving her directly toward the lake.
This sheet of water was christened Uyanza Victoria,
or Victoria Lake, by Captain Speke. At the place now
mentioned it might measure about ninety miles in breadth,
and at its southern extremity the captain found a group
of islets, which he named the Archipelago of Bengal. He
pushed his survey as far as Muanza, on the eastern coast
A DESERT ISLAND. 148
where be was received by the sultan. He made a triangu-
lation of this part of the lake, but he could not procure a
boat, either to cross it or to visit the great island of
UkÃ©rÃ©ouÃ©, which is very populous, is governed by three
sultans, and appears to be only a promontory at low tide.
The balloon approached the lake more to the north-
ward, to the doctorâ€™s great regret, for it had been his wish
to determine its lower outlines. Its shores seemed to be
thickly set with brambles and thorny plants, growing to-
gether in wild confusion, and were literally hidden, some-
times, from the gaze, by myriads of mosquitoes of a light-
brown hue. The country was evidently habitable and in-
habited. Troops of hippopotami could be seen disporting
themselves in the forests of reeds, or plunging beneath the
whitish waters of the lake.
The latter, seen from above, presented, toward the
west, so broad an horizon that it might have been called a
sea; the distance between the two shores is so great that
communication cannot be established, and storms are fre-
quent and violent, for the winds sweep with fury over this
elevated and unsheltered basin.
The doctor experienced some difficulty in guiding his
course; he was afraid of being carried toward the east,
but, fortunately, a current bore him directly toward the
north, and at six oâ€™clock in the evening the balloon
alighted on a small desert island in thirty minutes south
latitude, and thirty-two degrees fifty-two minutes east
longitude, about twenty miles from the shore.
The travellers succeeded in making fast to a tree, and,
the wind having fallen calm toward evening, they remained
quietly at anchor. They dared not dream of taking the
ground, since here, as on the shores of the Uyanza, legions
of mosquitoes covered the soil in dense clouds. Joe even
came back, from securing the anchor in the tree, speckled
with pues but he kept his temper, because he found it
144 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
quite the natural thing for mosquitoes to treat him as they
Nevertheless, the doctor, who was less of an optimist,
let out as much rope as he could, so as to escape these
_ pitiless insects, that began to rise toward him with a threat-
The doctor ascertained the height of the lake above
the level of the sea, as it had been determined by Captain
Speke, say three thousand seven hundred and fifty feet.
â€œ Here we are, then, on an island!â€ said Joe, scratch-
ing as though heâ€™d tear his nails out.
â€œ We could make the tour of it in a jiffy,â€ added Ken-
nedy, â€œand, excepting these confounded mosquitoes, thereâ€™s
not a living being to be seen on it.â€
â€œThe islands with which the lake is dotted,â€ replied
the doctor, â€œare nothing, after all, but the tops of sub-
merged hills; but we are lucky to have found a retreat
among them, for the shores of the lake are inhabited by
ferocious tribes. Take your sleep, then, since Providence
has granted us a tranquil night.â€
â€œ Wonâ€™t you do the same, doctor?â€
â€œNo, I could not close my eyes. My thoughts would
banish sleep. To-morrow, my friends, should the wind
prove favorable, we shall go due north, and we shall, per-
haps, discover the sources of the Nile, that grand secret
which has so long remained impenetrable. Near as we
are to the sources of the renowned river, I could not
Kennedy and Joe, whom scientific speculations failed
to disturb to that extent, were not long in falling into
sound slumber, while the doctor held his post.
On Wednesday, April 23d, the balloon started at four
oâ€™clock in the morning, with a grayish sky overhead; night
was slow in quitting the surface of the lake, which was
enveloped in a dense fog, but presently a violent breeze
CROSSING THE EQUATOR. 145
scattered all the mists, and, after the balloon had been
swung to and fro for a moment, in opposite directions, it
at length veered in a straight line toward the north.
Dr. Ferguson fairly clapped his hands for joy.
â€œWeare on the right track!â€ he exclaimed. â€œTo-day
or never we shall see the Nile! Look, my friends, we are
crossing the equator! We are entering our own hemi-
â€œ Ah!â€ said Joe, â€œdo you think, doctor, that the equa-
tor passes here?â€
â€œ Just here, my boy!â€
â€œWell, then, with all respect to you, sir, it seems to
me that this is the very time to moisten it.â€
â€œGood!â€ said the doctor, laughing. â€œLet us have a
glass of punch. You have a way of comprehending cos-
mography that is any thing but dull.â€
And thus was the passage of the Victoria over the
equator duly celebrated.
The balloon made rapid headway. In the west could
be seen a low and but slightly-diversified coast, and, far-
ther away in the background, the elevated plains of the
Uganda and the Usoga. At length, the rapidity of the
wind became excessive, approaching thirty miles per
The waters of the Nyanza, â€˜violently agitated, were
foaming like the billows of a sea. By the appearance of
certain long swells that followed the sinking of the waves,
the doctor was enabled to conclude that the lake must
have great depth of water. Only one or two rude boats
were seen during this rapid passage.
â€œThis lake is evidently, from its elevated position,
the natural reservoir of the rivers in the eastern part of
Africa, and the sky gives back to it in rain what it takes
in vapor from the streams that flow out of it. I am cer-
tain that the Nile must here take its rise.â€
146 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œWell, we shall see!â€ said Kennedy.
About nine oâ€™clock they drew nearer to the western
coast. It seemed deserted, and covered with woods; the
wind freshened a little toward the east, and the other
shore of the lake could be seen. It bent around in such a
curve as to end in a wide angle toward two degrees forty
minutes north latitude. Lofty mountains uplifted their
arid peaks at this extremity of Nyanza; but, between
them, a deep and winding gorge gave exit to a turbulent
and foaming river.
While busy managing the balloon, Dr. Ferguson never
ceased reconnoitring the country with eager eyes.
â€œLook!â€ he exclaimed, â€œlook, my friends! the state-
ments of the Arabs were correct! They spoke of a river
by which Lake UkÃ©rÃ©ouÃ© discharged its waters toward
the north, and this river exists, and we are descending it,
and. it flows with a speed analogous to our own! And
this drop of water now gliding away beneath our feet is,
beyond all question, rushing on, to mingle with the Medi-
terranean! It is the Nile!â€ |
â€œTt is the Nile!â€ reÃ©choed Kennedy, carricd away by
the enthusiasm of his friend.
â€œWurrah for the Nile!â€ shouted Joe, glad, and always
ready to cheer for something.
Enormous rocks, here and there, embarrassed the
course of this mysterious river. The water foamed as it
fell in rapids and cataracts, which confirmed the doctor
in his preconceived ideas on the subject. From the en-
vironing mountains numerous torrents came plunging and
seething down, and the eye could take them in by hun-
dreds. There could be seen, starting from the soil, deli-
cate jets of water scattering in all directions, crossing and
recrossing each other, mingling, contending in the swift-
ness of their progress, and all rushing toward that nascent
stream which became a river after having drunk them in,
THE SOURCE OF THE NILE, 147
â€œ Here is, indeed, the Nile !â€ reiterated the doctor, with
the tone of profound conviction. â€œThe origin of its name,
like the origin of its waters, has fired the imagination of
the learned; they have sought to trace it from the
Greek, the Coptic, the Sanscrit ; but all that matters little
now, since we have made it surrender the secret of its
â€œBut,â€ said the Scotchman, â€œhow are you to make
sure of the identity of this river with the one recognized
by the travellers from the north?â€
â€œWe shall have certain, irrefutable, convincing, and
infallible proof,â€ replied Ferguson, â€œ should the wind hold
another hour in our favor!â€
The mountains drew farther apart, revealing in their
place numerous villages, and fields of white Indian corn, -
doura, and sugar-cane. The tribes inhabiting the region
seemed excited and hostile; they manifested more anger
than adoration, and evidently saw in the aÃ©ronauts only
obtrusive strangers, and not condescending deities. It
appeared as thous, in approaching the sources of the
Nile, these men came to rob them of something, and so
the Victoria had to keep out of range of their muskets.
â€œTo land here would be a ticklish matter!â€ said the
â€œWell!â€ said Joe, â€œso much the worse for these
natives. They'll have to do without the pleasure of our
â€œ Nevertheless, descend I must,â€ said the doctor,
â€œwere it for only a quarter of an hour. Without -doing
so I cannot verify the results of our expedition.â€
â€œIt is indispensable, then, doctor?â€
â€œTndispensable; and we will descend, even if we have
to do so with a volley of musketry.â€
â€œThe thing suits me,â€ said Kennedy, toying with his
148 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
â€œ And Iâ€™m ready, master, whenever you say the word!â€
added Joe, preparing for the fight.
â€œTt would not be the first time,â€ remarked the doctor,
â€œthat science has been followed up, sword in hand. The
same thing happened to a French savant among the moun-
tains of Spain, when he was measuring the terrestrial me-
â€œ Be easy on that score, doctor, and trust to your two
â€œ Are we there, master?â€
â€œNot yet. In fact, I shall go up a little, first, in order
to get anexact idea of the configuration of the coun-
The hydrogen expanded, and in less than ten minutes
the balloon was soaring at a height of twenty-five hun-
dred feet above the ground.
From that elevation could be distinguished an inex-
tricable network of smaller streams which the river re-
ceived into its bosom; others came from the west, from
between numerous hills, in the midst of fertile plains.
â€œWe are not ninety miles from Gondokoro,â€ said the
doctor, measuring off the distance on his map, â€œand less
than five miles from the point reached by the explorers
from the north. Let us descend with great care.â€
And, upon this, the balloon was lowered about two
â€œNow, my friends, let us be ready, come what may.â€
â€œReady it is!â€ said Dick and Joe, with one voice.
In a few moments the balloon was advancing along
the bed of the river, and scarcely one hundred feet above
the ground. The Nile measured but fifty fathoms in
width at this point, and the natives were in great excite-
ment, rushing to and fro, tumultuously, in the villages
that lined the banks of the stream. At the second degree
BENGAL ISLAND. 149
st forms a perpendicular cascade of ten feet in height, and
consequently impassable by boats.
â€œTere, then, is the cascade mentioned by Debono!â€
exclaimed the doctor.
The basin of the river spread out, dotted with numer-
ous islands, which Dr. Ferguson devoured with his eyes.
He seemed to be seeking for a point of reference which he
had not yet found.
By this time, some blacks, having ventured in a boat.
just under the balloon, Kennedy saluted them with a shot
from his rifie, that made them regain the bank at their
â€œ A good journey to you,â€ bawled Joe, â€œand if I were
in your place, I wouldnâ€™t try coming back again. I should
be mightily afraid of a monster that can hurl thunder-
bolts when he pleases.â€
But, all at once, the doctor snatched up his spy-glass,
and directed it toward an island reposing in the middle
of the river.
â€œFour trees!â€ he exclaimed; â€œlook, down there!â€
Sure enough, there were four trees standing alone at one
end of it.
â€œTt is Bengal Island! It is the very same,â€ repeated
the doctor, exultingly.
* And what of that ?â€ asked Dick.
â€œTt is there that we shall alight, if God permits,â€
â€œBut, it seems to be inhabited, doctor.â€
â€œJoe is right; and, unless Iâ€™m mistaken, there is a
group of about a score of natives on it now.â€
â€œWe'll make them scatter; thereâ€™ll be no great trouble
in that,â€ responded Ferguson.
â€œSo be it,â€ chimed in the hunter.
The sun was at the zenith as the balloon approached
The blacks, who were members of the Makado tribe,
150 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
were howling lustily, and one of them waved his bark hat
in the air. Kennedy took aim at him, fired, and his hat
flew about him in pieces. Thereupon there was a general
scamper. The natives plunged headlong into the river,
and swam to the opposite bank. Immediately, there
came a shower of balls from both banks, along with a per-
fect cloud of arrows, but without doing the balloon any
damage, where it rested with its anchor snugly secured in
the fissure of a rock. Joe lost no time in sliding to the
â€œThe ladder!â€ cried the doctor. â€œFollow me, Ken-
â€œWhat do you wish, sir?â€
â€œTet us alight. I want a witness.â€
â€œMind your post, Joe, and keep a good lookout.â€
â€œ Never fear, doctor; Tâ€™ll answer for all that.â€
â€œCome, Dick,â€ said the doctor, as he touched the
So saying, he drew his companion along toward a
group of rocks that rose upon one point of the island;
there, after searching for some time, he began to rummage
among the brambles, and, in so doing, scratched his hands
until they bled.
Suddenly he grasped Kennedyâ€™s arm, exclaiming:
Yes; there, indeed, could be descried, with perfect
precision of outline, some letters carved on the rock. It
was quite easy to make them out:
â€œA, D.!â€ repeated Dr. Ferguson. â€œ Andrea Debonoâ€”
the very signature of the traveller who farthest ascended
the current of the Nile.â€
â€œNow FOR THE BALLOON.â€ 151
* No doubt of that, friend Samuel,â€ assented Kennedy.
â€œ Are you now convinced ?â€
â€œTt is the Nile! We cannot entertain a doubt on that
score now,â€ was the reply.
The doctor, for the last time, examined those precious
initials, the exact form and size of which he carefully
Â«â€œ And now,â€ said heâ€”â€œ now for the balloon!â€
â€œ Quickly, then, for I see some of the natives getting
ready to recross the river.â€
â€œThat matters little to us now. Let the wind but
send us northward for a few hours, and we shall reach
Gondokoro, and press the hands of some of our country-
Ten minutes more, and the balloon was majestically
ascending, while Dr. Ferguson, in token of success, waved
the English flag triumphantly f:om his car.
The Nile.â€”The Trembling Mountain.â€”A Remembrance of the Country.â€”The
Narratives of the Arabs.â€”The Nyam-Nyams.â€”Joeâ€™s Shrewd Cogitations.â€”
The Balloon runs the Gantlet.â€”AÃ©rostatic Ascensions.â€”Madame Blanchard.
â€œWuicn way do we head?â€ asked Kennedy, as he
saw his friend consulting the compass.
â€œThe deuce! but thatâ€™s not the north?â€
â€œNo, Dick; and â€™'m afraid that we shall have some
trouble in getting to Gondokoro. I am sorry for it; but,
at last, we have succeeded in connecting the explorations
from the east with those from the north; and we must
The balloon was now receding gradually from the Nile.
â€œ One last look,â€ said the doctor, â€œat this impassable
latitude, beyond which the most intrepid travellers could
not make their way. There are those intractable tribes,
of whom Petherick, Arnaud, Miuni, and the young travel-
ler Lejean, to whom we are indebted for the best work
on the Upper Nile, have spoken.â€
â€œThus, then,â€ added Kennedy, inquiringly, â€œour dis
coveries agree with the speculations of science.â€
â€œ Absolutely so. The sources of the White Nile, of
the Bahr-el-Abiad, are immersed in a lake as large as a
sea; it is there that it takes its rise. Poesy, undoubtedly,
loses something thereby. People were fond of ascribing
a celestial origin to this king of rivers. The ancients gave
it the name of an ocean, and were not far from believing
â€œ ONWARD, THEN.â€ 153
that it flowed directly from the sun; but we must come
down from these flights from time to time, and accept
what science teaches us. There will not always be scien-
tific men, perhaps; but there always will be poets.â€
â€œWe can still see cataracts,â€ said Joe.
â€œThose are the cataracts of Makedo, in the third degree
oflatitude. Nothing could be more accurate. Oh, if we could
only have followed the course of the Nile for a few hours!â€
â€œ And down yonder, below us, I see the top of a moun-
tain,â€ said the hunter.
â€œThat is Mount Longwek, the Trembling Mountain of
the Arabs. This whole country was visited by Debono,
who went through it under the name of Latif-Effendi.
The tribes living near the Nile are hostile to each other,
and are continually waging a war of extermination. You
may form some idea, then, of the difficulties he had to
The wind was carrying the balloon toward the north-
west, and, in order to avoid Mount Longwek, it was neces-
sary to seek a more slanting current.
â€œMy friends,â€ said the doctor, â€œhere is where owr pas-
sage of the African Continent really commences; up to
this time we have been following the traces of our pred-
ecessors. Henceforth we are to launch ourselves upon
the unknown. We shall not lack the courage, shall we ?â€
â€œNever!â€ said Dick and Joe together, almost in a
â€œ Onward, then, and may we have the help of Heaven!â€
At ten oâ€™clock at night, after passing over ravines,
forests, and scattered villages, the aÃ©ronauts reached the
side of the Trembling Mountain, along whose gentle slopes
â€˜they went quietly gliding. In that memorable day, the
23d of April, they had, in fifteen hours, impelled by a
rapid breeze, traversed a distance of more than three hun-
dred and fifteen miles.
154 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
But this latter part of the journey had left them in
dull spirits, and complete silence reigned in the car. Was
Dr. Ferguson absorbed in the thought of his discoveries?
Were his two companions thinking of their trip through
those unknown regions? There were, no doubt, mingled
with these reflections, the keenestâ€™ reminiscences of home
and distant friends. Joe alone continued to manifest the
same careless philosophy, finding it quite natural that
home should not be there, from the moment that he left
it; but he respected the silent mood of his friends, the
doctor and Kennedy.
About ten the balloon anchored on the side of the
Trembling Mountain, so called, because, in Arab tradition,
it is said to tremble the instant that a Mussulman sets
foot upon it. The travellers then partook of a substantial
meal, and all quietly passed the night as usual, keeping
the regular watches.
On awakingâ€™ the next morning, they all had pleasanter
feelings. The weather was fine, and the wind was blow-
ing from the right quarter; so that a good breakfast,
seasoned with Joeâ€™s merry pranks, put them in high good-
The region they were now crossing is very extensive.
It borders on the Mountains of the Moon on one side,
and those of Darfour on the otherâ€”a space about as
broad as Europe.
â€œWe are, no doubt, crossing what is supposed to be
the kingdom of Usoga. Geographers have pretended that
there existed, in the centre of Africa, a vast depression,
an immense central lake. We shall see whether there is
any truth in that idea,â€ said the doctor.
â€œ But how did they come to think so?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œFrom the recitals of the Arabs. Those fellows are -
great narratorsâ€”too much so, probably. Some travellers,
who had got as far as Kazech, or the great lakes, saw
â€œ NYAM-NYAM.â€ 155
slaves that had been brought from this region; interro-
gated them concerning it, and, from their different narra-
tives, made up a jumble of notions, and deduced systems
from them. Down at the bottom of it all there is some
appearance of truth; and you see that they were right
about the sources of the Nile.â€
â€œ Nothing could be more correct,â€ said Kennedy. â€œIt
was by the aid of these documents that some attempts at
maps were made, and so I am going to try to follow our
route by one of them, rectifying it when need be.â€
â€œTs all this region inhabited ?â€ asked Joe.
â€œUndoubtedly; and disagreeably inhabited, too.â€
â€œT thought so.â€
â€œThese scattered tribes come, one and all, under the
title of Nyam-Nyams, and this compound word is only a
sort of nickname. It imitates the sound of chewing.â€
â€œThatâ€™s it! Excellent!â€ said Joe, champing his teeth
as though he were eating; â€œ Nyam-Nyam.â€
â€œMy good Joe, if you were the immediate object of
this chewing, you wouldnâ€™t find it so excellent.â€
â€œWhy, whatâ€™s the reason, sir?â€
â€œThese tribes are considered man-eaters ?â€
â€œTs that really the case?â€
â€œNot a doubt of it! It has also been asserted that
these natives had tails, like mere quadrupeds; but it was
â€˜soon discovered that these appendages belonged to the
skins of animals that they wore for clothing.â€
â€œ Moreâ€™s the pity! a tailâ€™s a nice thing to chase away
â€œThat may be, Joe; but we must consign the story to
the domain of fable, like the dogsâ€™ heads which the travel-
ler, Brun-Rollet, attributed to other tribes.â€
â€œ Dogsâ€™ heads, eh? Quite convenient for barking, and
even for man-eating !â€
â€œBut one thing that has been, unfortunately, proven
156 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
true, is, the ferocity of these tribes, who are really very
fond of human flesh, and devour it with avidity.â€
â€œT only hope that they wonâ€™t take such a particular
fancy to mine!â€ said Joe, with comic solemnity.
â€œSee that!â€ -said Kennedy.
â€œ Yes, indeed, sir; if I have to be eaten, â€˜in a moment
of famine, I want it to be for your benefit and my mas-
terâ€™s; but the idea of feeding those black fellowsâ€”gra-
cious! Iâ€™d die of shame!â€
â€œWell, then, Joe,â€ said Kennedy, â€œthatâ€™s understood ;
we count upon you in case of need!â€
â€œ At your service, gentlemen !â€
â€œ Joe talks in this way so as to make us take good care
of him, and fatten him up.â€
â€œMaybe so!â€ said Joe. â€œEvery man for himself.â€
In the afternoon, the sky became covered with a warm
mist, that oozed from the soil; the brownish vapor scarcely
allowed the beholder to distinguish objects, and so, fearing
collision with some unexpected mountain-peak, the doetor,
about five oâ€™clock, gave the signal to halt.
The night passed without accident, but in such pro-
found obscurity, that it was necessary to use redoubled
The monsoon blew with extreme violence during all
the next morning. The wind buried itself in the lower
cavities of the balloon and shook the appendage by which
the dilating-pipes entered the main apparatus. They had,
at last, to be tied up with cords, Joe acquitting himself
very skilfully in performing that operation.
He had occasion to observe, at the same time, that the
orifice of the balloon still remained hermetically sealed.
â€œThat is a matter of double importance for us,â€ said
the doctor; â€œin the first place, we avoid the escape of
precious gas, and then, again, we do not leave behind us
MADAME BLANCHARDâ€™S ACCIDENT. 157
an inflammable train, which we should at last inevitably
set fire to, and so be consumed.â€
â€œThat would -be a disagreeable travelling incident!â€
â€œ Should we be hurled to the ground ?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œTurled! No, not quite that. The gas would burn
quietly, and we should descend little by little. A similar
accident happened to a French aÃ©ronaut, Madame Blanch-
wd. She ignited her balloon while sending off fireworks,
but she did not fall, and she would not have been. killed,
probably, had not her car dashed against a chimney and
precipitated her to the ground.â€
â€œLet us hope that nothing of the kind may happen to
us,â€ said the hunter. â€œUp to this time our trip has not
seemed to me very dangerous, and I can see nothing to
prevent us reaching our destination.â€
â€œNor can I either, my dear Dick; accidents are gen-
erally caused by the imprudence of the aÃ©ronauts, or the
defective construction of their apparatus. However, in
thousands of aÃ©rial ascensions, there have not been twenty
fatal accidents. Usually, the danger is in the moment of
leaving the ground, or of alighting, and therefore at those
junctures we should never omit the utmost precaution.â€
â€œTtâ€™s breakfast-time,â€ said Joe; â€œwe'll have to put up
with preserved meat and coffee until Mr. Kennedy has had
another chance to get us a good slice of venison,â€
The Celestial Bottle.-â€”The Fig-Palms.â€”The Mammoth Trees.â€”The Tree of War.
â€”The Winged Team.â€”Two Native Tribes in Battle.â€”A Massacre.â€”An In
tervention from above.
Tue wind had become violent and irregular; the bal-
loon was running the gantlet through the air. Tossed
at one moment toward the north, at another toward the
south, it could not find one steady current.
.â€œWe are moving very swiftly without advancing
much,â€ said Kennedy, remarking the frequent oscillations
of the needle of the compass.
â€œThe balloon is rushing at the rate of at least thirty
miles an hour. Lean over, and see how the country is
gliding away beneath us!â€ said the doctor.
â€œSee! that forest looks as though it were precipitating
itself upon us!â€
â€œThe forest has become a clearing!â€ added the other.
â€œAnd the clearing a village!â€ continued Joe, a mo-
ment or two later. â€œLook at the faces of those aston-
â€œOh! itâ€™s natural enough that they should be aston-
ished,â€ said the doctor. â€œThe French peasants, when they
first saw a balloon, fired at it, thinking that it was an aÃ©rial
monster. A Soudan negro may be excused, then, for open-
ing his eyes very wide!â€
â€œFaith!â€ said Joe, as the Victoria skimmed closely
along the ground, at scarcely the elevation of one hundred
fect, and immediately over a village, â€œTil throw them
JOE FLINGS A BOTTLE TO THE NATIVES. 159
an empty bottle, with your leave, doctor, and if it reaches
them safe and sound, theyâ€™ll worship it; if it breaks, they'll
make talismans of the pieces.â€
So saying, he flung out a bottle, which, of course, was
broken into a thousand fragments, while the negroes
scampered into their round huts, uttering shrill cries.
A little farther on, Kennedy called out: â€œ Look at that
strange tree! The upper part is of one kind and the
lower part of another!â€
â€œWell!â€ said Joe, â€œhereâ€™s a country where the trees
grow on top of each other.â€
â€œIts simply the trunk of a fig-tree,â€ replied the doctor,
â€œon which there is a little vegetating earth. Some fine
day, the wind left the seed of a palm on it, and the
seed has takefi root and grown as though it were on the
â€œA fine new style of gardening,â€ said Joe, â€œand Til
import the idea to England. Jt would be just the thing
in the London parks; without counting that it would be
anothÃ©r way to increase the number of fruit-trees. We
could have gardens up in the air; and the small house-
owners would like that !â€
At this moment, they had to raise the balloon so as to |
pass over a forest of trees that were more than three hun-
dred feet in heightâ€”a kind of ancient banyan.
â€œWhat magnificent trees!â€ exclaimed Kennedy. â€œI
never saw any thing so fine as the appearance of these
venerable forests. Look, doctor!â€
â€œThe height of these banyans is really remarkable,
my dear Dick; and yet, they would be nothing astonish-
ing in the New World.â€
â€œWhy, are there still loftier trees in existence ?â€
â€œUndoubtedly; among the â€˜mammoth treesâ€™ of Cali-
fornia, there is a cedar four hundred and eighty feet in
height. It would overtop the Houses of Parliament, and
160 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
even the Great Pyramid of Egypt. The trunk at the
surface of the ground was one hundred and twenty feet in
circumference, and the concentric layers of the wood dis-
closed an age of more than four thousand years.â€
â€œBut then, sir, there was nothing wonderful in it!
When one has lived four thousand years, one ought to be
pretty tall!â€ was Joeâ€™s remark,
Meanwhile, during the doctorâ€™s recital and Joeâ€™s re-
sponse, the forest had given place to a large collection of
huts surrounding an open space. In the middle of this
grew a solitary tree, and Joe exclaimed, as he caught
sight of it:
â€œWell! if that tree has produced such flowers as
those, for the last four thousand years, I have to offer
it my compliments, anyhow,â€ and he pointed to a gigantic
sycamore, whose whole trunk was covered with human
bones. The flowers of which Joe spoke were heads freshly
severed from the bodies, and suspended by daggers thrust
into the bark of the tree.
â€œThe war-tree of these cannibals!â€ said the doctor;
â€œthe Indians merely carry off the scalp, but these negroes
take the whole head.â€
â€œ A mere matter of fashion!â€ said Joe. But, already,
the village and the bleeding heads were disappearing on
the horizon. Another place offered a still more revolting
spectacleâ€”half-devoured corpses; skeletons mouldering -
to dust; human limbs scattered here and there, and left
to feed the jackals and hyenas.
â€œNo doubt, these are the bodies of criminals; accord-
ing to the custom in Abyssinia, these people have left
them a prey to the wild beasts, who kill them with their
terrible teeth and claws, and then devour them at their
â€œNot a whit more cruel than Hanging!â€ said the
Scot; â€œ filthier, thatâ€™s all!â€
JOH PROPOSES A TEAM OF EAGLES. 161
â€œTn the southern regions of Africa, they content them-
selves,â€ resumed the doctor, â€œwith shutting up the crimi-
nal in his own hut with his cattle, and sometimes with his
family. They then set fire to the hut, and the whole
party are burned together. I call that cruel; but, like
friend Kennedy, I think that the gallows is quite as cruel,
quite as barbarous.â€
Joe, by the aid of his keen sight, which he did not fail
to use continually, noticed some flocks of birds of prey
flitting about the horizon.
â€œThey are eagles!â€ exclaimed Kennedy, after recon-
noitring them through the glass, â€œmagnificent birds,
whose flight is as rapid as ours.â€
â€œTleaven preserve us from their attacks!â€ said the
doctor, â€œthey are more to be feared by us than wild
beasts or savage tribes.â€
â€œBah !â€ said the hunter, â€œwe can drive them off with
a few rifle-shots.â€
â€œ Nevertheless, I would prefer, dear Dick, not having
to rely upon your skill, this time, for the silk of our bal-
loon could not resist their sharp beaks; fortunately, the
huge birds will, I believe, be more frightened than at-
tracted by our machine.â€
â€œYes! but a new idea, and I have dozens of them,â€
said Joe; â€œif we could only manage to capture a team of
live eagles, we could hitch them to the balloon, and theyâ€™d
haul us through the air!â€
â€œThe thing has been seriously proposed,â€ replied the
doctor, â€œbut I think it hardly practicable with creatures
naturally so restive.â€
â€œOh! we'd tame them,â€ said Joe. â€œInstead of driving
them with bits, weâ€™d do it with eye-blinkers that would
cover their eyes. Half blinded in that way, theyâ€™d go to
the right or to the left, as we desired; when blinded com-
pletely, they would stop.â€
162 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
â€œ Allow me, Joe, to prefer a favorable wind to your
team of eagles. It costs less for fodder, and is more
â€œÂ¢ Well, you may have your choice, master, but I stick
to my idea.â€ :
It now was noon. The Victoria had been going at
a more moderate speed for some time; the country merely
passed below it; it no longer flew.
Suddenly, shouts and whistlings were heard by our
aÃ©ronauts, and, leaning over the edge of the car, they saw
on the open plain below them an exciting spectacle.
Two hostile tribes were fighting furiously, and the air
was dotted with volleys of arrows. The combatants were
so intent upon their murderous work that they did not
notice the arrival of the balloon; there were about three
hundred mingled confusedly in the deadly struggle: most
of them, red with the blood of the wounded, in which they
fairly wallowed, were horrible to behold.
As they at last caught sight of the balloon, there was
a momentary pause; but their yells redoubled, and some
arrows were shot at the Victoria, one of them coming
close enough for Joe to catch it with his hand.
â€œTet us rise out of range,â€ exclaimed the doctor;
â€œthere must be no rashness! We are forbidden any
Meanwhile, the massacre continued on both sides, with
battle-axes and war-clubs; as quickly as one of the com-
batants fell, a hostile warrior ran up to cut oF his heal, -
while the women, mingling in the fray, gathered up these
bloody trophies, and piled them together at either ex-
tremity of the battlefield. Often, too, they even fought
for these hideous spoils.
â€œWhat a frightful scene!â€ said Kennedy, with pro-
â€œ Theyâ€™re ugly acquaintances !â€ added Joe; â€œ but then,
KENNEDY KILLS ONE OF THE CHIEFS. 163
if they had uniforms they'd be just like the fighters of all
the rest of the world !â€
â€œJT have a keen hankering to take a hand in at that
fight,â€ said the hunter, brandishing his rifle.
â€œNo! no!â€ objected the doctor, vehemently; â€œno,
let us not meddle with what donâ€™t concern us. Do you
know which is right or which is wrong, that you would
assume the part of the Almighty? Let us, rather, hurry
away from this revolting spectacle. Could the great cap-
tains of the world float thus above the scenes of their
exploits, they would at last, perhaps, conceive a disgust
for blood and conquest.â€
The chieftain of one of the contending parties was
remarkable for his athletic proportions, his great height,
and herculean strength. With one hand he plunged his
spear into the compact ranks of his enemies, and with the
other mowed large spaces in them with his battle-axe.
Suddenly he flung away his war-club, red with blood,
rushed upon a wounded warrior, and, chopping off his arm
at a single stroke, carried the dissevered member to his
mouth, and bit it again and again.
â€œ Ah!â€ ejaculated Kennedy, â€œthe horrible brute! I
can hold back no longer,â€ and, as he spoke, the huge
savage, struck full in the forehead with a rifle-ball, fell
headlong to the ground.
Upon this sudden mishap of their leader, his warriors
seemed. struck dumb with amazement; his supernatural
death awed them, while it reanimated the courage and
ardor of their adversaries, and, in a twinkling, the field
was abandoned by half the combatants.
â€œ Come, let us look higher up for a current to bear us
away. Iam sick of this spectacle,â€ said the doctor.
But they could not get away so rapidly as to avoid
the sight of the victorious tribe rushing upon the dead
164 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
and the wounded, scrambling and disputing for the still
warm and recking flesh, and eagerly devouring it.
â€œFaugh!â€ uttered Joe, â€œ itâ€™s sickening.â€
The balloon rose as it expanded; the howlings of the
brutal horde, in the delirium of their orgy, pursued them
for a few minutes; but, at length, borne away toward the
south, they were carried out of sight and hearing of this
horrible spectacle of cannibalism.
The surface of the country was now greatly varied,
with numerous streams of water, bearing toward the east.
The latter, undoubtedly, ran into those affluents of Lake
Nu, or of the River of the Gazelles, concerning which M.
Guillaume Lejean has given such curious details.
At nightfall, the balloon cast anchor in twenty-seven
degrees cast longitude, and four degrees twenty minutes
north latitude, after a dayâ€™s trip of one hundred and fifty
Strange Sounds. â€”A Night Attack.â€”Kennedy and Joe in the Tree.â€”Two Shots.
â€”â€˜ Help! help !â€â€”Reply in French.â€”The Morning.â€”The Missionary.â€”The
Pian of Rescue.
THE night came on very dark. The doctor had not
been able to reconnoitre the country. He had made fast
to a very tall tree, from which he could distinguish only a
confused mass through the gloom.
As usual, he took the nine-oâ€™clock watch, and at mid-
night Dick relieved him.
â€œ Keep a sharp lookout, Dick!â€ was the doctorâ€™s good-
â€œTs there any thing new on the carpet?â€
â€œNo; but I thought that I heard vague sounds below
us, and, as I donâ€™t-exactly know where the wind has car-
ried us to, even an excess of caution would do no harm.â€
â€œYou've probably heard the cries of wild beasts.â€
â€œNo! the sounds seemed to me something altogether
different from that; at all events, on the least alarm donâ€™t
fail to waken us.â€
â€œTl do so, doctor; rest easy.â€
After listening attentively for a moment or two longer,
the doctor, hearing nothing more, threw himself on his
blankets and went asleep.
The sky was covered with dense clouds, but not a
breath of air was stirring; and the balloon, kept in its place
by only a single anchor, experienced not the slightest
166 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Kennedy, leaning his elbow on the edge of the car, so
as to keep an eye on the cylinder, which was actively at ,
work, gazed out upon the calm obscurity; he eagerly
scanned the horizon, and, as often happens to minds that
are uneasy or possessed with preconceived notions, he
fancied that he sometimes detected vague gleams of light
in the distance.
At one moment he even thought that he saw them only
two hundred paces away, quite distinctly, but it was a
mere flash that was gone as quickly as it came, and he
noticed nothing more. It was, no doubt, one of those
luminous illusions that sometimes impress the eye in the
midst of very profound darkness.
Kennedy was getting over his nervousness and falling
into his wandering meditations again, when a sharp whistle
pierced his ear.
Was that the cry of an animal or of a night-bird, or
did it come from human lips?
Kennedy, perfectly comprehending the gravity of the
situation, was on the point of waking his companions, but
he reflected that, in any case, men or animals, the crea-
tures that he had heard must be out of reach. So he mere-
ly saw that his weapons were all right, and then, with his
night-glass, again plunged his gaze into space.
' It was not long before he thought he could perceive
below him vague forms that seemed to be gliding toward
the tree, and then, by the aid of a ray of moonlight that
shot like an electric flash between two masses of cloud, he
distinctly made out a group of human figures moving in
The adventure with the dog-faced baboons returned
to his memory, and he placed his hand on the doctorâ€™s
The latter was awake in a moment.
â€œSilence!â€ said Dick. â€œLet us speak below our
THE ALARM. 167
â€œHas any thing happened ?â€
â€œYes, let us waken Joe.â€
The instant that Joe was aroused, Kennedy told him
what he had seen.
â€œThose confounded monkeys again!â€ said Joe.
â€œPossibly, but we must be on our guard.â€
â€œ Joe and I,â€ saic. Kennedy, â€œ will climb down the tree
by the ladder.â€
â€œ And, in the meanwhile,â€ added the doctor, â€œI will
take my measures co that we can ascend rapidly at a
â€œ Agreed |â€
â€œLet us go down, then!â€ said Joe.
â€œDonâ€™t use your weapons, excepting at the last ex-
tremity! It would be a useless risk to make the natives
aware of our presence in such a place as this.â€
Dick and Joe replied with signs of assent, and then
letting themselves slide noiselessly toward the tree, took
their position in a fork among the strong branches where
the anchor had caught.
For some moments they listened minutely and motion-
lessly among the foliage, and ere long Joe seized Ken-
nedyâ€™s hand as he heard a sort of rubbing sound against
the bark of the tree. *
â€œDonâ€™t you hear that?â€ he whispered.
â€œYes, and itâ€™s coming nearer.â€
â€œSuppose it should be a serpent? That hissing or
whistling that you heard beforeâ€”â€
â€œNo! there was something human in it.â€
â€œTd prefer the savages, for I have a horror of those
â€œThe noise is increasing,
a lapse of a few moments.
â€œYes! somethingâ€™s coming up toward usâ€”climbing.â€
â€œKeep ot n this side, and I'll take care of the other.â€
â€ said Kennedy, again, after
168 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
There they were, isolated, at the top of one of the
larger branches shooting out in the midst of one of
those miniature forests called baobab-trees. The darkness,
heightened by the density of the foliage, was profound ;
however, Joe, leaning over to Kennedyâ€™s ear and pointing
down the tree, whispered :
â€œThe blacks! Theyâ€™re climbing toward us.â€
The two friends could even catch the sound of a few
words uttered in the lowest possible tones.
Joe gently brought his rifle to his shoulder as he Bpoke.
â€œWait!â€ said Kennedy.
Some of the natives had really climbed the baobab,
and now they were seen rising on all sides, winding along
the boughs like reptiles, and advancing slowly but surely,
all the time plainly enough discernible, not merely to the
eye but to the nostrils, by the horrible odors of the rancid
grease with which they bedaub their bodies.
Ere long, two heads appeared to the gaze of Kennedy
- and Joe, on a level with the very branch to which they
â€œ Attention!â€ said Kennedy. â€œFire!â€
The double concussion resounded like a thunderbolt
and-died away into cries of rage and pain, and in a mo-
ment the whole horde had disappeared.
But, in the midst of these yells and howls, a strange,
unexpectedâ€”nay what seemed an impossibleâ€”cry had
been heard! A human voice had, distinctly, called aloud
in the French languageâ€”
Kennedy and Joe, dumb with amazement, had regained
the car immediately.
â€œ Did you hear that?â€ the doctor asked them.
â€œ Undoubtedly, that supernatural ery, â€œA moi! dmoi!?
comes from a Frenchman in the hands of these barbarians !â€
THEY RESOLVE TO RESCUE THE PRISONER. 169
â€œ A traveller.â€
â€œ A missionary, perhaps.â€
â€œPoor wretch !â€ said Kennedy, â€œ theyâ€™re assassinating
himâ€”making a martyr of him!â€
The doctor then spoke, and it was impossible for him
to conceal his emotions,
â€œThere can be no doubt of it,â€ he said; â€œsome un-
fortunate Frenchman has fallen into the hands of these
savages. We must not leave this place without doing all
in our power to save him. When he heard the sound of
our guns, he recognized an unhoped-for assistance, a prov-
idential interposition. We shall not disappoint his last
hope. Are such your views?â€
â€œThey are, doctor, and we are ready to obey you.â€
â€œ Let us, then, lay our heads together to devise some
plan, and in the morning we'll try to rescue him.â€
â€œ But how shall we drive off those abominable blacks?â€
â€œItâ€™s quite clear to me, from the way in which they
made off, that they are unacquainted with firearms. We
must, therefore, profit by their fears; but we shall await
daylight before acting, and then we can form our plans of
rescue according to circumstances.â€
â€œThe poor captive cannot be far off,â€ said Joe, â€œ be-
â€œHelp! help!â€ repeated the voice, but much more
feebly this time.
â€œThe savage wretches!â€ exclaimed Joe, trembling
with indignation. â€œSuppose they should kill him to-
â€œDo you hear, doctor,â€ resumed Kennedy, seizing the
doctorâ€™s hand. â€œSuppose they should kill him to-night!â€
â€œTt is not at all likely, my friends. These savage
tribes kill their captives in broad daylight; they must
have the sunshine.â€
170 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œ Now, if I were to take advantage of the darkness to
slip down to the poor fellow?â€ said Kennedy.
â€œ And Pll go with you,â€ said Joe, warmly.
â€œPause, my friendsâ€”pause! The suggestion does
honor to your hearts and to your courage; but you would
expose us all to great peril, and do still greater harm to
the unfortunate man whom you wish to aid.â€
â€œWhy so?â€ asked Kennedy. â€œThese savages are
frightened and dispersed: they will not return.â€
â€œDick, I implore you, heed what I say. I am acting
for the common good; and if by any accident you should
be taken by surprise, all would be lost.â€
â€œBut, think of that poor wretch, hoping for aid, wait-
ing there, praying, calling aloud. Is no one to go to his
assistance? He must think that his senses deceived him;
that he heard nothing!â€
â€œWe can reassure him, on that score,â€ said Dr. Fer-
gusonâ€”and, standing erect, making a speaking-trumpet
of his hands, he shouted at the top of his voice, in French:
â€œWhoever you are, be of good cheer! Three friends are
watching over you.â€
A terrific howl from the savages responded to these
wordsâ€”no doubt drowning the prisonerâ€™s reply.
â€œThey are murdering him! they are murdering him!â€
exclaimed Kennedy. â€œOur interference will have served
no other purpose than to hasten the hour of his doom.
We must act!â€
â€œBut how, Dick? What do you expect to do in the
midst of this darkness?â€
â€œOh, if it was only daylight!â€ sighed Joe.
â€œWell, and suppose it were daylight ?â€ said the doctor,
in a singular tone.
â€œNothing more simple, doctor,â€ said Kennedy. â€œVd
go down and scatter all these savage villains with powder
IMPRACTICABLE PLANS. 171
* And you, Joe, what would you do?â€
â€œTI, master? why, I'd act more prudently, maybe, by
telling the prisoner to make his escape in a certain
direction that weâ€™d agree upon.â€
â€œ And how would you get him to know that?â€
â€œBy means of this arrow that I caught flying the other
day. Id tie a note to it, or Pâ€™'d just call out to him in a
loud voice what you want him to do, because these black
fellows donâ€™t understand the language that youâ€™d speak
â€œYour plans are impracticable, my dear friends. The
greatest difficulty would be for this poor fellow to escape
at allâ€”even admitting that he should manage to elude
the vigilance of his captors. As for you, my dear Dick,
with determined daring, and profiting by their alarm at
our fire-arms, your project might possibly succeed; but,
were it to fail, you would be lost, and we should have two
persons to save instead of one. No! we must put ail the
chances on owr side, and go to work differently.â€
â€œ But let us act at once!â€ said the hunter.
â€œPerhaps we may,â€ said the doctor, throwing consid-
erable stress upon the words.
â€œWhy, doctor, can you light up such darkness as
â€œ Who knows, Joe?â€
â€œ Ah! if you can do that, youâ€™re the greatest learned
man in the world!â€
The doctor kept silent for a few moments; he was
thinking. His two companions looked at him with much
emotion, for they were greatly excited by the strangeness
of the situation. Ferguson at last resumed:
â€œHere is my plan: We have two hundred pounds of
ballast left, since the bags we brought with us are still
untouched. [ll suppose that this prisoner, who is evi-
dently exhausted by suffering, weighs as much as one of
172 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
us; there will still remain sixty pounds of ballast to throw
out, in case we should want to ascend suddenly.â€
â€œ How do you expect to manage the balloon?â€ asked
â€œThis is the idea, Dick: you will admit that if I can
get to the prisoner, and throw out a quantity of ballast,
equal to his weight, I shall have in nowise altered the
equilibrium of the balloon, But, then, if I want to get a
rapid ascension, so as to escape these savages, I must
employ means more energetic than the cylinder. Well,
then, in throwing out this overplus of ballast at a given
moment, I am certain to rise with great rapidity.â€
â€œ'Thatâ€™s plain enough.â€
â€œYes; but there is one drawback: it consists in the
fact that, in order to descend after that, I should have
to part with a quantity of gas proportionate to the surplus
ballast that I had thrown out. Now, the gas is precious ;
but we must not haggle over it when the life of a fellow-
creature is at stake.â€
â€œYou are right, sir; we must do every thing in our
power to save him.â€
â€œLet us work, then, and get these bags all arranged on
the rim of the car, so that they may be thrown overboard
at one movement.â€
â€œBut this darkness?â€
â€œTt hides our preparations, and will be dispersed only
when they are finished. Take care to have all our weap-
ons close at hand. Perhaps we may have to fire; so we
have one shot in the rifle; four for the two muskets;
twelve in the two revolvers; or seventeen in all, which
might be fired in a quarter of a minute. But perhaps we
shall not have to resort to all this noisy work. Are you
â€œWe're ready,â€ responded Joe.
The sacks were placed as requested, and the arms
were put in good order.
THE DOCTOR ILLUMINATES THE SCENE. 173
â€œVery good!â€ said the doctor. â€œHave an eye to
every thing. Joe will see to throwing out the ballast,
and Dick will carry off the prisoner; but let nothing be
done until I give the word. Joe will first detach the
anchor, and then quickly make his way back to the car.â€
Joe let himself slide down by the rope; and, in a few
moments, reappeared at his post; while the balloon, thus
liberated, hung almost motionless in the air.
In the mean time the doctor assured himself of the
presence of a sufficient quantity of gas in the mixing-tank
to feed the cylinder, if necessary, without there being any
need of resorting for some time to the Buntzen battery.
He then took out the two perfectly-isolated conducting-
wires, which served for the decomposition of the water, and,
searching in his travelling-sack, brought forth two pieces
of charcoal, cut down to a sharp point, and fixed one at
the end of each wire.
His two friends looked on, without knowing what he
was about, but they kept perfectly silent. When the doc-
tor had finished, he stood up erect in the car, and, taking
the two pieces of charcoal, one in each hand, drew their
points nearly together.
In a twinkling, an intense and dazzling light was
produced, with an insupportable glow between the two
pointed ends of charcoal, and a huge jet of electric ra-
diance literally broke the darkness of the night.
â€œOh!â€ ejaculated the astonished friends.
â€œNot a word!â€ cautioned the doctor.
The Jet of Light.â€”The Missionary.â€”The Rescue in a Ray of Electricity â€”A
Lazarist Priest.â€”But little Hope.â€”The Doctor's Care.â€”A Life of Self-De-
nial.â€”Passing a Volcano.
Dr. FErcuson darted his powerful electric jet toward
various points of space, and caused it to rest on a spot
from which shouts of terror were heard. His companions
fixed their gaze eagerly on the place.
The baobab, over which the balloon was hanging al-
most motionless, stood in the centre of a clearing, where,
between fields of Indian-corn and sugar-cane, were seen
some fifty low, conical huts, around which swarmed a
A hundred feet below the balloon stood a large post,
or stake, and at its foot lay a human beingâ€”a young man
of thirty years or more, with long black hair, half naked,
wasted and wan, bleeding, covered with wounds, his head
bowed over upon his breast, as Christâ€™s was, when He
hung upon the cross.
The hair, cut shorter on the top of his skull, still indi-
cated the place of a half-effaced tonsure.
â€œ A missionary! a priest!â€ exclaimed Joe.
â€œPoor, unfortunate man!â€ said Kennedy.
â€œWe must save him, Dick!â€ responded the doctor;
â€œwe must save him!â€
The crowd of blacks, when they saw the balloon over
their heads, like a huge comet with a train of dazzling
light, were seized with a terror that may be readily ima-
THE RESCUE. 175
gined. Upon hearing their cries, the prisoner raised his
head. His eyes gleamed with sudden hope, and, without
too thoroughly comprehending what was taking place, he
stretched out his hands to his unexpected deliverers.
â€œHeisalive!â€ exclaimed Ferguson. â€œ God be praised!
The savages have got a fine scare, and we shall save him!
Are you ready, friends ?â€
â€œReady, doctor, at the word.â€
â€œ Joe, shut off the cylinder!â€
The doctorâ€™s order was executed. An almost imper-
â€˜ceptible breath of air impelled the balloon directly over
the prisoner, at the same time that it gently lowered with
the contraction of the gas. For about ten minutes it re-
mained floating in the midst of luminous waves, for Fer-
guson continued to flash right down upon the throng his
glowing sheaf of rays, which, here and there, marked out
swift and vivid sheets of light. The tribe, under the in-
fluence of an indescribable terror, disappeared little by
little in the huts, and there was complete solitude around
the stake. The doctor had, therefore, been right in count-
ing upon the fantastic appearance of the balloon throwing
out rays, as vivid as the sunâ€™s, through this intense gloom.
The car was approaching the ground; but.a few of the
savages, more audacious than the rest, guessing that their
victim was about to escape from their clutches, came back
with loud yells, and Kennedy seized his rifle. The doctor,
nowever, besought him not to fire.
The priest, on his knees, for he had not the strength to
stand erect, was not even fastened to the stake, his weak-
ness rendering that precaution superfluous. At the instant
when the car,was close to the ground, the brawny Scot,
laying aside his rifle, and seizing the priest around the
waist, lifted him into the car, while, at the same moment,
Joe tossed over the two hundred pounds of ballast.
The doctor had expected to ascend rapidly, but, con-
176 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
trary to his calculations, the balloon, after going up some
three or four feet, remained there perfectly motionless.
â€œWhat holds us?â€ he asked, with an accent of terror.
Some of the savages were running toward them, utter-
ing ferocious cries. ,
â€œAh, ha!â€ said Joe, â€œone of those cursed blacks is
hanging to the car!â€
â€œDick! Dick!â€ cried the doctor, â€œthe water-tank!â€
Kennedy caught his friendâ€™s idea on the instant, and,
snatching up with desperate strength one of the water-
tanks weighing about one hundred pounds, he tossed it
overboard. The balloon, thus suddenly lightened, made a
leap of three hundred feet into the air, amid the howlings
of the tribe whose prisoner thus escaped them in a blaze
of dazzling light.
â€œTlurrah!â€ shouted the doctorâ€™s comrades.
Suddenly, the balloon took a fresh leap, which carried
it up to an elevation of a thousand feet.
â€œ'Whatâ€™s that?â€ said Kennedy, who had nearly lost
â€œOh! nothing; only that black villain leaving us!â€
replied the doctor, tranquilly, and Joe, leaning over, saw .
the savage that had clung to the car whirling over and
over, with his arms outstretched in the air, and presently
dashed to pieces on the ground. The doctor then sepa-
rated his electric wires, and every thing was again buried
in profound obscurity. It was now one oâ€™clock in the
The Frenchman, who had swooned away, at length
opened his eyes.
â€œYou are saved!â€ were the doctorâ€™s first words.
â€œSaved!â€ he with a sad smile replied in English,
â€œsaved from a cruel death! My brethren, I thank you,
but my days are numbered, nay, even my hours, and J
have but little longer to live.â€
THE DOCTOR USES HIS SURGICAL SKILL. 177
With this, the missionary, again yielding to exhaustion,
relapsed into his fainting-fit.
â€œHe is dying!â€ said Kennedy.
â€œNo,â€ replied the doctor, bending over him, â€œ but he
is very weak; so let us lay him under the awning.â€
And they did gently deposit on their blankets that
poor, wasted body, covered with scars and wounds, still
bleeding where fire and steel had, in twenty places, left
their agonizing marks. The doctor, taking an old hand-
kerchief, quickly prepared a little lint, which he spread
over the wounds, after having washed them. These rapid
attentions were bestowed with the celerity and skill of a
practised surgeon, and, when they were complete, the doc-
tor, taking a cordial from his medicine-chest, poured a few
drops upon his patientâ€™s lips. ;
The latter feebly pressed his kind hands, and scarcely
had the strength to say, â€œThank you! thank you!â€
The doctor comprehended that he must be left per-
fectly quiet; so he closed the folds of the awning and re-
sumed the guidance of the balloon.
The latter, after taking into account the weight of the
new passenger, had been lightened of one hundred and
eighty pounds, and therefore kept aloft without the aid ot
the cylinder. At the first dawn of day, a current drove it
gently toward the west-northwest. The doctor went in
under the awning for a moment or two, to look at his still
â€œMay Heaven spare the life of our new companion!
Have you any hope?â€ said the Scot.
â€œYes, Dick, with care, in this pure, fresh atmosphere.â€
â€œYow that man has suffered!â€ said Joe, with feeling.
â€œHe did bolder things than weâ€™ve done, in venturing all
alone among those savage tribes!â€
â€œThat cannot be questioned,â€ assented the hunter.
During the entire day the doctor would not allow the
178 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
sleep of his patient to be disturbed. It was really a long
stupor, broken only by an occasional murmur of pain that
continued to disquiet and agitate the doctor greatly.
Toward evening the balloon remained stationary in the
midst of the gloom, and during the night, while Kennedy
and. Joe relieved each other in carefully tending the sick
man, Ferguson kept watch over the safety of all.
By the morning of the next day, the balloon had moved,
but very slightly, to the westward. The dawn came up .
pure and magnificent. The sick man was able to call his
friends with a stronger voice. They raised the curtains
of the awning, and he inhaled with delight the keen morn-
â€œHow do you feel to-day?â€ asked the doctor.
â€˜Better, perhaps,â€ he replied. â€˜â€œ But you, my friends,
Ihave not seen you yet, excepting inadream! I can,
indeed, scarcely recall what has occurred. Who are you
â€”that your names may not be forgotten in my dying
â€œWe are English travellers,â€ replied Ferguson. â€œWe
are trying to cross Africa in a balloon, and, on our way,
we have had the good fortune to rescue you.â€
â€œ Science has its heroes,â€ said the missionary.
â€œ But religion its martyrs!â€ rejoined the Scot.
â€œ Are you a missionary ?â€ asked the doctor.
â€œTam a priest of the Lazarist mission. Heaven sent
you to meâ€”Heaven be praised! The sacrifice of my life
had been accomplished! But you come from Europe;
tell me about Europe, about France! Ihave been with-
out news for the last five years!â€
â€œFive years! alone! and among these savages!â€ ex-
claimed Kennedy with amazement.
â€œThey are souls to redeem! ignorant and barbarous
brethren, whom religion alone can instruct and civilize.â€
Dr. Ferguson, yielding to the priestâ€™s request, talked
THE MISSIONARY TELLS HIS HISTORY. 179
to him long and fully about France. He listened eagerly,
and his eyes filled with tears. He seized Kennedyâ€™s and
Joeâ€™s hands by turns in his own, which were burning with
fever. The doctor prepared him some tea, and he drank
it with satisfaction. After that, he had strength enough
to raise himself up a little, and smiled with pleasure at
seeing himself borne along through so pure a sky.
â€œYou are daring travellers!â€ he said, â€œand you will
succeed in your bold enterprise. You will again behold
your relatives, your friends, your countryâ€”youâ€”â€
At this moment, the weakness of the young missionary
became so extreme that they had to lay him again on the
bed, where a prostration, lasting for several hours, held
him like a dead man, under the eye of Dr. Ferguson. The
latter could not suppress his emotion, for he felt that this
life now in his charge was ebbing away. Were they then
so soon to lose him whom they had snatched from an
agonizing death? The doctor again washed and dressed
the young martyrâ€™s frightful wounds, and had to sacrifice
nearly his whole stock of water to refresh his burning
limbs. He surrounded him with the tenderest and most
intelligent care, until, at length, the sick man revived,
little by little, in his arms, and recovered his consciousness
if not his strength.
The doctor was able to gather something of his history
from his broken murmurs.
â€œSpeak in your native language,â€ he said to the suf-
ferer; â€œTI understand it, and it will fatigue you less.â€
The missionary was a poor young man from the village
of Aradon, in Brittany, in the Morbihan country. His
earliest instincts had drawn him toward an ecclesiastical
career, but to this life of self-sacrifice he was also desirous
of joining a life of danger, by entering the mission of the
order of priesthood of which St. Vincent de Paul was the
founder, and, at twenty, he quitted his country for the in-
180 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
hospitable shores of Africa. From the sea-coast, over-
coming obstacles, little by little, braving all privations,
pushing onward, afoot, and praying, he had advanced to
the very centre of those tribes that dwell among the trib-
utary streams of the Upper Nile. Fortwo years his faith
was spurned, his zeal denied recognition, his charities
taken in ill part, and he remained a prisoner to one of the
cruelest tribes of the Nyambarra, the object of every
species of maltreatment. But still he went on teaching,
instructing, and praying. The tribe having been dis-
persed and he left for dead, in one of those combats which
are so frequent between the tribes, instead of retracing his
steps, he persisted in his evangelical mission. His most
tranquil time was when he was taken for a madman,
Meanwhile, he had made himself familiar with the idioms
ofthe country, and he catechised in them. At length, dur-
ing two more long years, he traversed these barbarous
regions, impelled by that superhuman energy that comes
from God. Fora year past he had been residing with
that tribe of the Nyam-Nyams known as the Barafri,
one of the wildest and most ferocious of them all. The
chief having died a few days before our travellers appeared,
his sudden death was attributed to the missionary, and
the tribe resolved to immolate him. His sufferings had
already continued for the space of forty hours, and, as the
doctor had supposed, he was to have perished in the blaze
ofthe noonday sun. When he heard the sound of fire-arms,
nature got the best of him, and he had cried out, â€œHelp!
help!â€ He then thought that he must have been dream-
ing, when a voice, that seemed to come from the sky, had
uttered words of consolation.
â€œJ have no regrets,â€ he said, â€œfor the life that is pass-
ing away from me; my life belongs to God!â€
â€œHope still!â€ said the doctor; â€œwe are near you, and
we will save you now, as we saved you from the tortures
of the stake,â€
CROSSING Â£HE VOLCANO. 181
â€œT do not ask so much of Heaven,â€ said the priest,
with resignation. â€œBlessed be God for having vouchsafed
to me the joy before I die of having pressed your friendly
hands, and having heard, once more, the language of my
The missionary here grew weak again, and the whole
day went by between hope and fear, Kennedy deeply
moved, and Joe drawing his hand over his eyes more
than once when he thoughtâ€™ that no one saw him.
The balloon made little progress, and the wind seemed
as though unwilling to jostle its precious burden.
Toward evening, Joe discovered a great light in the
west. Under more elevated latitudes, it might have been
mistaken for an immense aurora borealis, for the sky ap-
peared on fire. The doctor very attentively examined the
â€œTt is, perhaps, only a volcano in full activity,â€ said
â€œBut the wind is carrying us directly over it,â€ replied
â€œVery well, we shall cross it then at a safe height!â€
said the doctor.
Three hours later, the Victoria was right among the
mountains. Her exact position was twenty-four degrees
fifteen minutes east longitude, and four degrees forty-two
minutes north latitude. In front of her a volcanic crater
was pouring forth torrents of melted lava, and hurling
masses of rock to an enormous height. There were jets,
too, of liquid fire that fell back in dazzling cascadesâ€”a
superb but dangerous spectacle, for the wind with un-
swerving certainty was carrying the balloon directly tow-
ard this blazing atmosphere.
This obstacle, which could not be turned, had to be
crossed, so the cylinder was put to its utmost power, and
the balloon rose to the height of six thousand feet, leaving
182 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
between it and the volcano a space of more than three
From his bed of suffering, the dying missionary could
contemplate that fiery crater from which a thousand jets
of dazzling flame were that moment escaping.
â€œHow grand it is!â€ said he, â€œand how infinite is the
power of God even in its most terrible manifestations !â€
This overflow of blazing lava wrapped the sides of the
mountain with a veritable drapery of flame; the lower
half of the balloon glowed redly in the upper night; a
torrid heat ascended to the car, and Dr. Ferguson made
all possible haste to escape from this perilous situation.
By ten oâ€™clock the volcano could be seen only as a red
point on the horizon, and the balloon tranquilly pursued
her course in a less elevated zone of the atmosphere.
Joe in a Fit of Rage.â€”The Death of a Good Man.â€”The Night of watching by the
Body.â€”Barrenness and Drought.â€”The Burial.â€”The Quartz Rocks.â€”Joeâ€™s
Hallucinations.â€”A Precious Ballast.â€”A Survey of the Gold-bearing Moun-
tains.â€”The Beginning of Joeâ€™s Despair.
A MAGNIFICENT night overspread the earth, and the
missionary lay quietly asleep in utter exhaustion.
â€œHe'll not get over it!â€ sighed Joe. â€œ Poor young
fellowâ€”scarcely thirty years of age!â€
â€œHe'll die in our arms. His breathing, which was so
feeble before, is growing weaker still, and I can do nothing
to save him,â€ said the doctor, despairingly.
â€œThe infamous scoundrels!â€ exclaimed Joe, grinding
his teeth, in one of those fits of rage that came over him
at long intervals; â€œand to think that, in spite of all, this .
good man could find words only to pity them, to excuse,
to pardon them !â€
â€œHeaven has given him a lovely night, Joeâ€”his last
on earth, perhaps! He will suffer but little more after
this, and his dying will be only a peaceful falling asleep.â€
The dying man uttered some broken words, and the
doctor at once went to him. His breathing became diffi-
cult, and he asked for air. The curtains were drawn
entirely back, and he inhaled with rapture the light
breezes of that clear, beautiful night. The stars sent
him their trembling rays, and the moon wrapped him in
the white winding-sheet of its effulgence.
â€œMy friends,â€ said he, in an enfeebled voice, â€œI am
184 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
going. May God requite you, and bring you to your safe
harbor! May he pay for me the debt of gratitude that I
owe to you!â€
â€œYou must still hope,â€ repliedâ€™ Kennedy. â€œ This is
but a passing fit of weakness. You will not die. How
could any one die on this beautiful summer night ?â€
â€œDeath is at hand,â€ replied the missionary, â€œI know
it! Let me look it in the face! Death, the commence-
ment of things eternal, is but the end of earthly cares,
Place me upon my knees, my brethren, I beseech you!â€
Kennedy lifted him up, and it was distressing to see
his weakened limbs bend under him.
â€œMy God! my God!â€ exclaimed the dying apostle,
â€œhave pity on me!â€
His countenance shone. Far above that earth on
which he had known no joys; in the midst of that night
which sent to him its softest radiance; on the way to
that heaven toward which he uplifted his spirit, as though
in a miraculous assumption, he seemed already to live and
breathe in the new existence.
His last gesture was a supreme blessing on his new
friends of only one day. Then he fell back into the arms
of Kennedy, whose countenance was bathed in hot tears.
â€œDead!â€ said the doctor, bending over him, â€œ dead!â€
And with one common accord, the three friends knelt
together in silent prayer.
â€œTo-morrow,â€ resumed the doctor, â€œwe shall bury
him in the African soil which he has besprinkled with his
During the rest of the night the body was watched,
turn by turn, by the three travellers, and not a word dis-
turbed the solemn silence. Each of them was weeping.
The next day the wind came from the south, and the
balloon moved slowly over a vast plateau of mountains :
there, were extinct craters; here, barren ravines; not a
THEY LAND IN A RAVINE. 185
drop of water on those parched crests; piles of broken
rocks; huge stony masses scattered hither and thither,
and, interspersed with whitish marl, all indicated the most
Toward noon, the doctor, for the purpose of burying
the body, decided to descend into a ravine, in the midst
of some plutonic rocks of primitive formation. The sur-
rounding mountains would shelter him, and enable him to
bring his car to the ground, for there was no tree in sight
to wz*ch he could make it fast.
But, as he had explained to Kennedy, it was now im-
possible for him to descend, except by releasing a quantity
of gas proportionate to his loss of ballast at the time when
he had rescued the missionary. He therefore opened the
valve of the outside balloon. The hydrogen escaped, and
the Victoria quietly descended into the ravine.
As soon as the car touched the ground, the doctor
shut the valve. Joe leaped out, holding on the while to
the rim of the car with one hand, and with the other
gathering up a quantity of stones equal to his own weight.
He could then use both hands, and had soon heaped into
the car more than five hundred pounds of stones, which
enabled both the doctor and Kennedy, in their turn, to
get out. Thus the Victoria found herself balanced, and
her ascensional force insufficient to raise her.
Moreover, it was not necessary to gather many of
these stones, for the blocks were extremely heavy, so much
so, indeed, that the doctorâ€™s attention was attracted by
the circumstance. The soil, in fact, was bestrewn with
quartz and porphyritic rocks.
â€œThis is a singular discovery!â€ said the doctor, men-
In the mean while, Kennedy and Joe had strolled away
a few paces, looking up a proper spot for the grave. The
heat was extreme in this ravine, shut in as it was likea
186 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
sort of furnace. The noonday sun poured down its rays
perpendicularly into it.
The first thing to be done was to clear the surface of
the fragments of rock that encumbered it, and then a
quite deep grave had to be dug, so that the wild animals
should not be able to disinter the corpse.
The body of the martyred missionary was then
solemnly placed in it. The earth was thrown in over
his remains, and above it masses of rock were deposited,
in rude resemblance to a tomb.
The doctor, however, remained motionless, and lost in
his reflections. He did not even heed the call of his com-
panions, nor did he return with them to seek a shelter
from the heat of the day.
â€œ What are you thinking about, doctor?â€ asked Ken-
â€œ About a singular freak of Nature, a curious effect of
chance. Do you know, now, in what. kind of soil that
man of self-denial, that poor one in spirit, has just been
â€œNo! what do you mean, doctor?â€
â€œThat priest, who took the oath of perpetual poverty,
now reposes in a gold-mine!â€ :
â€œA gold-mine!â€ exclaimed Kennedy and Joe in one
â€œYes, a gold-mine,â€ said the doctor, quietly. â€˜Those
blocks which you are trampling under foot, like worthless
stones, contain gold-ore of great purity.â€
â€œImpossible! impossible!â€ repeated Joe.
â€œYou would not have to look long among those
fissures of slaty schist without finding pepites of consider-
Joe at once rushed like a crazy man among the scat-
tered fragments, and Kennedy was not long in following
A TANTALIZING POSITION. 187
â€œKeep cool, Joe,â€ said his master.
â€œWhy, doctor, you speak of the thing quite at your
â€œWhat! a philosopher of your mettleâ€”â€
â€œ Ah, master, no philosophy holds good in this case!â€
â€œCome! come! Let us reflect a little. What good
would all this wealth do you? We cannot carry any of
it away with us.â€
â€œWe canâ€™t take any of it with us, indeed ?â€
â€œTtâ€™s rather too heavy for ourcar! I even hesitated
to tell you any thing about it, for fear of exciting your
â€œ What!â€ said Joe, again, â€œabandon these treasures
â€”a fortune for us!â€”really for usâ€”our ownâ€”leave it
â€œTake care, my friend! Would you yield to the thirst
for gold? Has not this dead man whom you have just
helped to bury, taught you the vanity of human affairs?â€
â€œ All that is true,â€ replied Joe, â€œbut gold! Mr. Ken-
nedy, wonâ€™t you help to gather up a trifle of all these
â€œWhat could we do with them, Joe?â€ said the hunter,
unable to repress a smile. â€œWe did not come hither in
search of fortune, and we cannot take one home with
â€œThe millions are rather heavy, you know,â€ resumed
the doctor, â€œand cannot very easily be put into oneâ€™s
â€œ But, at least,â€ said Joe, driven to his last defences,
â€œcouldnâ€™t we take some of that ore for ballast, instead of
â€œVery good! I consent,â€ said the doctor, â€œbut you
must not make too many wry faces when we come to
throw some thousands of crownsâ€™ worth overboard.â€
â€œThousands of crowns!â€ echoed Joe; â€œis it possible
188 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
that there is so much gold in them, and that all this is
â€œYes, my friend, this is a reservoir in which Nature
has been heaping up her wealth for centuries! There is
enough here to enrich whole nations! An Australia and
a California both together in the midst of the wilderness !â€
â€œ And the whole of it is to remain useless!â€
â€œPerhaps! but at all events, hereâ€™s what Pll do to
â€œThat would be rather difficult to do!â€ said Joe, with
a contrite air.
â€œListen! J will take the exact bearings of this spot,
and give them to you, so that, upon your return to England,
you can tell our countrymen about it, and let them havea
share, if you think that so much gold would make them
â€œ Ah! master, I give up; I see that you are right, and
that there is nothing else to be done. Let us fill our car
with the precious mineral, and what remains at the end of
the trip will be so much made.â€
And Joe went to work. He did so, too, with all his
might, and soon had collected more than a thousand pieces
of quartz, which contained gold enclosed as though in an
extremely hard crystal casket.
The doctor watched him with a smile; and, while Joe
went on, he took the bearings, and found that the mission-
aryâ€™s grave lay in twenty-two degrees twenty-three min-
utes east longitude, and four degrees fifty-five minutes
Then, casting one glance at the swelling of the soil,
beneath which the body of the poor Frenchman reposed,
he went back to his car.
He would have erected a plain, rude cross over the
tomb, left solitary thus in the midst of the African deserts,
but not a tree was to be seen in the environs.
SHORT OF WATER. 189
â€œGod will recognize it!â€ said Kennedy.
An anxiety of another sort now began to steal over
the doctorâ€™s mind. He would have given much of the
gold before him for a little waterâ€”for he had to replace
what had been thrown overboard when the negro was
carried up into the air. But it was impossible to find it
in these arid regions; and this reflection gave him great
uneasiness. He had to feed his cylinder continually; and
he even began to find that he had not enough to quench
the thirst of his party. Therefore he determined to lose
no opportunity of replenishing his supply.
Upon getting back to the car, he found it burdened
with the quartz-blocks that Joeâ€™s greed had heaped in it.
He got in, however, without saying any thing. MKennedy
took his customary place, and Joe followed, but not with-
out casting a covetous glance at the treasures in the
The doctor rekindled the light in the cylinder; the
spiral became heated; the current of hydrogen came in a
few minutes, and the gas dilated; but the balloon did not
stir an inch.
Joe looked on uneasily, but kept silent.
â€œ Joe!â€ said the doctor.
Joe made no reply.
â€œJoe! Donâ€™t you hear me?â€
Joe. made a sign that he heard; but he would not un-
â€œDo me the kindness to throw out some of that
â€œBut, doctor, you gave me leaveâ€”â€
â€œT gave you leave to replace the ballast; that was
â€œDo you want to stay forever in this desert ?â€
Joe cast a despairing look at Kennedy; but the hunter
190 â€˜FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
put on the air of a man who could do nothing in the
â€œThen your cylinder donâ€™t work,â€ said the obstinate
â€œMy cylinder? It is lit, as you perceive. But the
balloon will not rise until you have thrown off a little
Joe scratched his ear, picked up a piece of quartz, the
smallest in the lot, weighed and reweighed it, and tossed
it up and down in his hand. It was a fragment of about
three or four pounds. At last he threw it out.
But the balloon did not budge.
â€œHumph!â€ said he; â€œwe're not going up yet.â€
â€œNot yet,â€ said the doctor, â€œKeep on throwing.â€
Kennedy laughed. Joe now threw out some ten pounds,
but the balloon stood still.
Joe got very pale.
â€œPoor fellow!â€ said the doctor, â€œMr. Kennedy, you
and I weigh, unless I am mistaken, about four hundred
poundsâ€”so that you'll have to get rid of at least that
weight, since it was put in here to make up for us.â€
â€œThrow away four hundred pounds!â€ said Joe, pit-
â€œ And some more with it, or we canâ€™t rise. Come,
The brave fellow, heaving deep sighs, began at last to
lighten the balloon; but, from time to time, he wenld stop,
and ask: ,
â€œ Are you going up?â€
â€œNo, not yet,â€ was the invariable response,
â€œTt moves!â€ said he, at last.
â€œKeep on!â€ replied the doctor.
â€œTtâ€™s going up; Iâ€™m sure.â€
â€œKeep on yet,â€ said Kennedy.
THE DOCTOR GIVES JOE A LESSON. 191
And Joe, picking up one more block, desperately tossed
it out of the car. The balloon rose a hundred feet or so,
and, aided by the cylinder, soon passed above the sur-
â€œNow, Joe,â€ resumed the doctor, â€œthere still remains
a handsome fortune for you; and, if we can only keep the
rest of this with us until the end of our trip, there you
areâ€”trich for the balance of your days!â€
Joe made nd answer, but stretched himself out lux-
uriously on his heap of quartz.
â€œSee, my dear Dick!â€ the doctor went on. â€œJust see
the power of this metal over the cleverest lad in the world!
What passions, what greed, what crimes, the knowledge
of such a mine as that would cause! It is sad to think
By evening the balloon had made ninety miles to the
westward, and was, in a direct line, fourteen hundred miles
The Wind dies away.â€”The Vicinity of the Desert.â€”The Mistake in the Water.
Supply.â€”The Nights of the Equator.â€”Dr. Fergusonâ€™s Anxieties.â€”The Sit
uation flatly stated.â€”Energetic Replies of Kennedy and Joe,â€”One Nigtt
Tue balloon, having been made fast to a solitary tree,
almost completely dried up by the aridity of the region
in which it stood, passed the night in perfect quietness;
and the travellers were enabled to enjoy a little of the
repose which they so greatly needed. The emotions of
the day had left sad impressions on their minds.
Toward morning, the sky had resumed its brilliant
purity and its heat. The balloon ascended, and, after
several ineffectual attempts, fell into a current that, al-
though not rapid, bore them toward the northwest.
â€œWe are not making progress,â€ said the doctor. â€œIf
J am not mistaken, we have accomplished nearly half of
our journey in ten days; but, at the rate at which we are
going, it would take months to end it ; and that is all the
more vexatious, that we are threatened with a lack of
â€œBut we'll find some,â€ said Joe. â€œIt is not to be
thought of that we shouldnâ€™t discover some river, some
stream, or pond, in all this vast extent of country.â€
â€œT hope so.â€
â€œ Now donâ€™t you think that itâ€™s Joeâ€™s cargo of stone
that is keeping us back?â€
Kennedy asked this question only to tease Joe; and
LOW SPIRITS. 193
he did so the more willingly because he had, for a moment,
shared the poor ladâ€™s hallucinations; but, not finding any
thing in them, he had fallen back into the attitude of a
strong-minded looker-on, and turned the affair off with a
Joe cast a mournful glance at him; but the doctor
made no reply. He was thinking, not without secret ter-
ror, probably, of the vast solitudes of Saharaâ€”for there
whole weeks sometimes pass without the caravans mect-
ing with a single spring of water. Occupied with these
thoughts, he scrutinized every depression of the soil with
the closest attention.
These anxieties, and the incidents recently occurring,
had not been without their effect upon the spirits of our
three travellers. They conversed less, and were more
wrapt in their own thoughts.
Joe, clever lad as. he was, seemed no longer the same
person since his gaze had plunged into that ocean of gold.
He kept entirely silent, and gazed incessantly upon the
stony fragments heaped up in the carâ€”worthless to-day,
but of inestimable value to-morrow.
The appearance of this part of Africa was, moreover,
quite calculated to inspire alarm: the desert was grad-
ually expanding around them; not another village was
to be seenâ€”not even a collection of a few huts; and
vegetation also was disappearing. Barely a few dwarf
plants could now be noticed, like those on the wild heaths
of Scotland; then came the first tract of grayish sand and
flint, with here and there a lentisk tree and brambles.
In the midst of this sterility, the rudimental carcass of the
Globe appeared in ridges of sharply-jutting rock. These
symptoms of a totally dry and barren region greatly dis-
quieted Dr. Ferguson.
Tt seemed as though no caravan had ever braved this
desert expanse, or it would have left visible traces of its
194 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
encampments, or the whitened bones of men and animals.
But nothing of the kind was to be seen, and the aÃ©ronauts
felt that, ere long, an immensity of sand would cover the
whole of this desolate region.
However, there was no going back; they must go for-
ward; and, indeed, the doctor asked for nothing better;
he would even have welcomed a tempest to carry him be-
yond this country. But, there was not a cloud in the sky.
At the close of the day, the balloon had not made thirty
If there had been no lack of water! But, there re-
mained only three gallons in all! The doctor put aside
one gallon, destined to quench the burning thirst that a
heat of ninety degrees rendered intolerable. Two gallons
only then remained to supply the cylinder. Hence, they
could produce no more than four hundred and eighty cubic
fect of gas; yet the cylinder consumed about nine cubic
feet per hour, Consequently, they could not keep on
longer than fifty-four hoursâ€”and all this was a mathemat-
ical calculation !
â€œ Fifty-four hours!â€ said the doctor to his companions,
â€œTherefore, as I am determined not to travel by night, for
fear of passing some stream or pool, we have but three
days and a half of journeying during which we must find
water, at all hazards. I have thought it my duty to make
you aware of the real state of the case, as I have retained
only one gallon for drinking, and we shall have to put our-
selves on the shortest allowance.â€
â€œPut us on short allowance, then, doctor,â€ responded
Kennedy, â€œbut we must not despair. We have three days
left, you say ?â€
â€œYes, my dear Dick!â€
â€œWell, as grieving over the matter wonâ€™t help us, in
three days there will be time enough to decide upon what
is to be done; in the meanwhile, let us redouble our
NO SIGN OF WATER. 195
At their evening meal, the water was strictly measured
out, and the brandy was increased in quantity in the punch
they drank. But they had to be careful with the spirits,
the latter being more likely to produce than to quench
The car rested, during the night, upon an immense
plateau, in which there was a deep hollow; its height was
scarcely eight hundred feet above the level of the sca.
This circumstance gave the doctor some hope, since it re-
called to his mind the conjectures of geographers concern-
ing the existence of a vast stretch of water in the centre
of Africa, But, if such a lake really existed, the point was
to reach it, and not a sign of change was visible in the
To the tranquil night and its starry magnificence suc-
ceeded the unchanging daylight and the blazing rays of
the sun; and, from the earliest dawn, the temperature be-
came scorching. At five oâ€™clock in the morning, the doc-
tor gave the signal for departure, and, for a consider-
able time, the balloon remained immovable in the leaden
The doctor might have escaped this intense heat by
rising into a higher range, but, in order to do so, he would
have had to consume a large quantity of water, a thing
that had now become impossible. He contented himself,
therefore, with keeping the balloon at one hundred feet
from the ground, and, at that elevation, a feeble current
drove it toward the western horizon.
The breakfast consisted of a little dried meat and pem-
mican. By noon, the Victoria had advanced only a few
â€œWe cannot go any faster,â€ said the doctor; â€œwe no
longer commandâ€”we have to obey.â€
â€œAh! doctor, here is one of those occasions when a
propeller would not be a thing to be despised.â€
196 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œ Undoubtedly so, Dick, provided it would not require
an expenditure of water to put it in motion, for, in that
case, the situation would be precisely the same; moreover,
up to this time, nothing practical of the sort has been in-
vented. Balloons are still at that point where ships were
before the invention of steam. It took six thousand years
to invent propellers and screws; so we have time enough
â€œ Confounded heat!â€ said Joe, wiping away the per-
spiration that was streaming from his forehead.
â€œIf we had water, this heat would be of service to us,
for it dilates the hydrogen in the balloon, and diminishes
the amount required in the spiral, although it is true that,
if we were not short of the useful liquid, we should not
have to economize it. Ah! that rascally savage who cost
us the tank!â€ *
â€œYou donâ€™t regret, though, what you did, doctor?â€
â€œNo, Dick, since it was in our power to save that un-
fortunate missionary from a horrible death. But, the hun-
dred pounds of water that we threw overboard would be
very useful to us now; it would be thirteen or fourteen
days more of progress secured, or quite enough to carry
us over this desert.â€
â€œWeve made at least half the journey, havenâ€™t we?â€
â€œTn distance, yes; but in duration, no, should the wind
leave us; and it, even now, has a tendency to die away
â€œCome, sir,â€ said Joe, again, â€œwe must not complain ;
we've got along pretty well, thus far, and whatever hap-
pens to me, I canâ€™t get desperate. We'll find water;
mind, I tell you so.â€
The soil, however, ran lower from mile to mile; the
* The water-tank had been thown overboard when the native clung
to the car.
THE DESERT. 197
undulations of the gold-bearing mountains they had left
died away into the plain, like the last throes of exhausted
Nature. Scanty grass took the place of the fine trees of
the east; only a few belts of half-scorched herbage still
contended against the invasion of the sand, and the huge
rocks, that had rolled down from the distant summits,
crushed in their fall, had scattered in sharp-edged pebbles
which soon again became coarse sand, and finally impal-
â€œHere, at last, is Africa, such as you pictured it to
yourself, Joe! Was I not right in saying, â€˜ Wait a
little ?â€™ eh?â€
â€œ Well, master, itâ€™s all natural, at leastâ€”heat and dust.
It would be foolish to look for any thing else in such a
country. Do you see,â€ he added, laughing, â€œI had no
confidence, for my part, in your forests and your prairies ;
they were out of reason. What was the use of coming
so far to find scenery just like England? Hereâ€™s the first
time that I believe in Africa, and Iâ€™m not sorry to get a
taste of it.â€
Toward evening, the doctor calculated that the balloon
had not made twenty miles during that whole burning day,
and a heated gloom closed in upon it, as soon as the sun
had disappeared behind the horizon, which was traced
against the sky with all the precision of a straight line.
The next day was Thursday, the 1st of May, but the
days followed each other with desperate monotony. Each
morning was like the one that had preceded it; noon
poured down the same exhaustless rays, and night con-
densed in its shadow the scattered heat which the ensuing
day would again bequeath to the succeeding night. The
wind, now scarcely observable, was rather a gasp than a
breath,-and the morning could almost be foreseen when
even that gasp would cease.
The doctor reacted against the gloominess of the situ-
198 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
ation and retained all the coolness and self-possession of a
disciplined heart. With his glass he scrutinized every
quarter of the Horizon; he saw the last rising ground
gradually melting to the dead level, and the last vegeta-
tion disappearing, while, before him, stretched the immen-
sity of the desert.
The responsibility resting upon him pressed sorely, but
he did not allow his disquiet to appear. Those two men,
Dick and Joe, friends of his, both of them, he had induced
to come with him almost by the force alone of friendship
and of duty. Had he done well in that? Was it not like
attempting to tread forbidden paths? Was he not, in
this trip, trying to pass the borders of the impossible ?
Had not the Almighty reserved for later ages the knowl-
edge of this inhospitable continent ?
All these theughts, of the kind that arise in hours of
discouragement, succeeded each other and multiplied in
his mind, and, by an irresistible association of ideas, the
doctor allowed himself to be carried beyond the bounds
of logic and of reason. After having established in his
own mind what he should not have done, the next ques-
tion was, what he should do, then. Would it be impossible
to retrace his steps? Were there not currents higher up
that would waft him to less arid regions? Well informed
with regard to the countries over which he had passed, he
was utterly ignorant of those to come, and thus his con-
science speaking aloud to him, he resolved, in his turn, to
speak frankly to his two companions. He thereupon
laid the whole state of the case plainly before them; he
showed them what had been done, and what there was
yet to do; at the worst, they could return, or attempt it, at
least.â€”What did they think about it ?
â€œT have no other opinion than that of my excellent
master,â€ said Joe; â€œwhat he may have to suffer, I can
suffer, and that better than he can, perhaps. Where he
goes, there Pll go!â€
FULL CONFIDENCE Ol DICK IN THE pocror. 199
* And you, Kennedy?â€
â€œT, doctor, â€™m not the man to despair; no one was
less ignorant than I of the perils of the enterprise, but I
did not want to see them, from the moment that you de-
termined to brave them. Under present circumstances,
my opinion is, that we should persevereâ€”go clear to the
end. Besides, to return looks to me quite as perilous as
the other course. So onward, then! you may count upon
â€œThanks, my gallant friends!â€ replied the doctor,
with much real feeling, â€œâ€˜I expected such devotion as this ;
but I needed these encouraging words. Yet, once again,
thank you, from the bottom of my heart!â€
And, with this, the three friends warmly grasped each
other by the hand.
â€œNow, hear me!â€ said the doctor. â€œ According to
my solar observations, we are not more than three hun-
dred miles from the Gulf of Guinea ; the desert, therefore,
cannot extend indefinitely, since the coast is inhabited, and
the country has been explored for some distance back into
the interior. If needs be, we can direct our course to that
quarter, and it seems out of the question that we should
not come across some oasis, or some well, where we could
replenish our stock of water. But, what we want now, is
the wind, for without it we are held here suspended in the
air at a dead calm.
â€œLet us wait with resignation,â€ said the hunter.
But, each of the party, in his turn, vainly scanned the
space around him during that long wearisome day. Noth-
ing could be seen to form the basis of a hope. The very
last inequalities of the soil disappeared with the setting
sun, whose horizontal rays stretched in long lines of fire
over the flat immensity. It was the Desert !
Our aÃ©ronauts had scarcely gone a distance of fifteen
miles, having expended, as on the preceding day, one
200 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
hundred and thirty-five cubic feet of gas to feed the
cylinder, and two pints of water out of the remaining
eight had been sacrificed to the demands of intense thirst.
The night passed quietlyâ€”too quietly, indeed, but the
doctor did not sleep!
A Little Philosophy.â€”A Cloud on the Horizon.â€”In the Midst of a Fog.â€”The
Strange Balloon.â€”An Exact View of the Victoria.â€”The Palm-Trees.â€”Traces
of a Caravan,â€”The Well in the Midst of the Desert.
On the morrow, there was the same purity of sky, the
same stillness of the atmosphere. The balloon rose to an
elevation of five hundred feet, but it had scarcely changed
its position to the westward in any perceptible degree.
â€œWe are right in the open desert,â€ said the doctor.
â€œLook at that vast reach of sand! What a strange spec-
tacle! What a singular arrangement of nature! Why
should there be, in one place, such extreme luxuriance of
vegetation yonder, and here, this extreme aridity, and
that in the same latitude, and under the same rays of the
â€œThe why concerns me but little,â€ answered Kennedy,
â€œthe reason interests me less than the fact. The thing is
so; thatâ€™s the important part of it!â€
â€œOh, it is well to philosophize a little, Dick; it does
â€œLet us philosophize, then, if you will; we have time
enough before us; we are hardly moving; the wind is
afraid to blow; it sleeps.â€
â€œThat will not last forever,â€ put in Joe; â€œI think I,
see some banks of clouds in the east.â€
â€œ Joeâ€™s right!â€ said the doctor, after he had taken a
202 . FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œGood!â€ said Kennedy; â€œnow for our clouds, with a
fine rain, and a fresh wind to dash it into our faces!â€
â€œ Well, we'll see, Dick, we'll see!â€
â€œBut this is Friday, master, and Iâ€™m afraid of Fri-
â€œ Well, I hope that this very day you'll get over those
â€œT hope so, master, too. Whew!â€ he added, mop-
ping his face, â€œheatâ€™s a good thiug, especially in winter,
but in summer it donâ€™t do to take too much of it.â€
â€œDonâ€™t you fear the effect of the sunâ€™s heat on our
balloon?â€ asked Kennedy, addressing the doctor.
â€œNo! the gutta-percha coating resists much higher
temperatures than even this. With my spiral I have sub-
jected it inside to as much as one hundred and fifty-eight
degrees sometimes, and the covering does not appear to
â€œA cloud! a real cloud!â€ shouted Joe at this mo-
ment, for that piercing eyesight of his beat all the glasses.
And, in fact, a thick bank of vapor, now quite dis-
tinct, could be seen slowly emerging above the horizon.
It appeared to be very deep, and, as it were, puffed out.
It was, in reality, a conglomeration of smaller clouds.
The latter invariably retained their original formation,
and from this circumstance the doctor concluded that
there was no current of air in their collected mass.
This compact body of vapor had appeared about eight
oâ€™clock in the morning, and, by eleven, it had already
reached the height of the sunâ€™s disk. The latter then dis-
appeared entirely behind the murky veil, and the lower
. belt of cloud, at the same moment, lifted above the line
Â« of the horizon, which was again disclosed in a full blaze
â€œIt?s only an isolated cloud,â€ remarked the doctor.
â€œTt wonâ€™t do to count much upon that.â€
THE MIRAGE. 2038
â€œTook, Dick, its shape is just the same as when we
saw it this morning!â€
â€œThen, doctor, thereâ€™s to be neither rain nor wind, at
least for us!â€
â€œT fear so; the cloud keeps at a great height.â€
â€œWell, doctor, suppose we were to go in pursuit of
this cloud, since it refuses to burst upon us?â€
â€œT fancy that to do so wouldnâ€™t help us much; it
would be a consumption of gas, and, consequently, of
water, to little purpose; but, in our situation, we must
not leave anything untried; therefore, let us ascend !â€
And with this, the dector put on a full head of flame
from the cylinder, and the dilation of the hydrogen, occa-
sioned by such sudden and intense heat, sent the balloon
About fifteen hundred feet from the ground, it en-
countered an opaque mass of cloud, and entered a dense
fog, suspended at that elevation; but it did not meet with
the least breath of wind. This fog seemed even destitute
of humidity, and the articles brought in contact with it
were scarcely dampened in the slightest degree. The
balloon, completely enveloped in the vapor, gained a little
increase of speed, perhaps, and that was all.
The doctor gloomily recognized what trifling success
he had obtained from his mancuvre, and was relapsing
into deep meditation, when he heard Joe exclaim, in tones
of most intense astonishment :
â€œ Ah! by all thatâ€™s beautiful!â€
â€œWhatâ€™s the matter, Joe?â€
â€œDoctor! Mr. Kennedy! Hereâ€™s something curious!â€
â€œ What is it, then?â€
â€œWe are not alone, up here! There are rogues about!
Theyâ€™ve stolen our invention!â€
â€œ Has he gone crazy?â€ asked Kennedy.
Joe stood there, perfectly motionless, the very picture
204 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œCan the hot sun have really affected the poor fet-
lowâ€™s brain?â€ said the doctor, turning toward him.
â€œ Will you tell me ?â€”â€
â€œLook!â€ said Joe, pointing to a certain quarter of
â€œ By St. James!â€ exclaimed Kennedy, in turn, â€œwhy,
who would have believed it? Look, look! doctor!â€
â€œT see it!â€ said the doctox, very quietly.
â€œ Another balloon! and other passengers, like our-
And, sure enough, there was another balloon about
two hundred paces from them, floating in the air with its
car and its aÃ©ronauts. IJt was following exactly the same
route as the Victoria.
â€œWell,â€ said the doctor, â€œnothing remains for us but
to make signals; take the flag, Kennedy, and show them
It seemed that the travellers by the other balloon
had just the same idea, at the same moment, for the same
kind of flag repeated precisely the same salute with a
hand that moved in just the same manner.
â€œWhat does that mean?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œThey are apes,â€ said Joe, â€œimitating us.â€
â€œTt means,â€ said the doctor, laughing, â€œ that it is you,
Dick, yourself, making that signal to yourself; or, in other
words, that we see ourselves in the second balloon, which
is no other than the Victoria.â€
â€œ As to that, master, with all respect to you,â€ said Joe,
â€œ you'll never make me believe it.â€
â€œClimb up on the edge of the car, Joe; wave your
arms, and then you'll see.â€
Joe obeyed, and all his gestures were instantaneously
and exactly repeated.
â€œTt is merely the effect of the mirage,â€ said the doctor,
â€œand nothing elseâ€”a simple optical phenomenon due to
the unequal refraction of light by different layers of the
atmosphere, and that is all.â€
â€œItâ€™s wonderful,â€ said Joe, who could not make up
his mind to surrender, but went on repeating his gesticula-
â€œWhat a curious sight! Do you know,â€ said Ken-
nedy, â€œthat itâ€™s a real pleasure to have a view of our
noble balloon in that style? Sheâ€™s a beauty, isnâ€™t she ?â€”
and how stately her movement as she sweeps along!â€
â€œYou may explain the matter as you like,â€ continued
Joe, â€œitâ€™s a strange thing, anyhow!â€
But ere long this picture began to fade away; the
clouds rose higher, leaving the balloon, which made no
further attempt to follow them, and in about an hour
they disappeared in the open sky.
The wind, which had been scarcely perceptible, seemed
still to diminish, and the doctor in perfect desperation
descended toward the ground, and all three of the travel-
lers, whom the incident just recorded had, for a few mo-
ments, diverted from their anxieties, relapsed into gloomy
meditation, sweltering the while beneath the scorching
About four oâ€™clock, Joe descried some object standing
out against the vast background of sand, and soon was
â€˜able to declare positively that there were two palm-trees
at no great distance.
â€œPalm-trees!â€ exclaimed Ferguson; â€œwhy, then
thereâ€™s a springâ€”a well!â€
He took up his glass and satisfied himself that Joeâ€™s
eyes had not been mistaken.
â€œ At length!â€ he said, over and over again, â€œ water !
water! and we are saved; for if we do move slowly, still
we move, and we shall arrive at last!â€
â€œGood, master! but suppose we were to drink a meuth
ful in the mean time, for this air is stifling ?â€
206 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON. i
â€œ Let us drink then, my boy!â€
No one waited to be coaxed. A whole pint was swal
lowed then and there, reducing the total remaining supply
to three pints and a half.
â€œAh! that does one good!â€ said Joe; â€œ wasnâ€™t 1
fine? Barclay and Perkins never turned out ale equal to
â€œSee the advantage of being put on short allowance!â€
moralized the doctor.
â€œTt is not great, after all,â€ retorted Kennedy; â€œand if
I were never again to have the pleasure of drinking water,
I should agree on condition that I should never be de-
prived of it.â€
At six oâ€™clock the balloon was floating over the palm-
They were two shrivelled, stunted, dried-up specimens
of treesâ€”two ghosts of palmsâ€”without foliage, and more
dead than alive. Ferguson examined them with ter-
At their feet could be seen the halfworn stones of a
spring, but these stones, pulverized by the baking heat
of the sun, seemed to be nothing now but impalpable dust.
There was not the slightest sign of moisture. The doctor's
heart shrank within him, and he was about to communi-
cate his thoughts to his companions, when their exclama-
tions attracted his attention. As far as the eye could
reach to the eastward, extended a long line of whitened
bones; pieces of skeletons surrounded the fountain ; a cara-
van had evidently made its way to that point, marking its
progress by its bleaching remains; the weaker had fallen
one by one upon the sand; the stronger, having at length
reached this spring for which they panted, had there found
a horrible death.
Our travellers looked at each other and turned pale.
â€œLet us not alight!â€ said Kennedy, â€œlet us fly from
THE DRIED-UP SPRING. 207
this hideous spectacle! Thereâ€™s not a drop of water
. â€œNo, Dick, as well pass the night here as elsewhere ;
let us have a clear conscience in the matter. We'll dig
down to the very bottom of the well. There has been a
spring here, and perhaps thereâ€™s something left in it!â€
The Victoria touched the ground; Joe and Kennedy
put into the car a quantity of sand equal to their weight,
and leaped out. They then hastened to the well, and
penetrated to the interior by a flight of steps that was now
nothing but dust. The spring appeared to have been dry
for years. They dug down into a parched and powdery
sandâ€”the very dryest of all sand, indeedâ€”there was not
one trace of moisture !
The doctor saw them come up to the surface of the
desert, saturated with perspiration, worn out, covered with
fine dust, exhausted, discouraged and despairing.
He then comprehended that their search had been
fruitless. He had expected as much, and he kept silent,
for he felt that, from this moment forth, he must have
courage and energy cnough for three.
Joe brought up with him some pieces of a leathern
bottle that had grown hard and horn-like with age, and
angrily flung them away among the bleaching bones of
the caravan. :
At supper, not a word was spoken by our travellers,
and they even ate without appetite. Yet they had not,
up to this moment, endured the real agonies of thirst, and
were in no desponding mood, excepting for the future.
One Hundred and Thirteen Degrees.â€”The Doctorâ€™s Reflections.â€”A Desperate
Search.â€”The Cylinder goes out.â€”One Hundred and Twenty-two legrees.â€”
Contemplation of the Desert.â€”A Night Walk.â€”Solitude.â€”Debility.â€”Joeâ€™s
Prospects.â€”He gives himself One Day more.
Tne distance made by the balloon during the preced-
ing day did not exceed ten miles, and, to keep it afloat,
one hundred and sixty-two cubic feet of gas had been
On Saturday morning the doctor again gave the signal
â€œThe cylinder can work only six hours longer; and,
if in that time we shall not have found either a well or a
spring of water, God alone knows what will become of
â€œNot much wind this morning, master,â€ said Joe; â€œbut
it will come up, perhaps,â€ he added, suddenly remarking
the doctorâ€™s ill-concealed depression.
Vain hope! The atmosphere was in a dead calmâ€”one
of those calms which hold vessels captive in tropical seas.
The heat had become intolerable; and the thermometer,
in the shade under the awning, indicated one hundred
and thirteen degrees.
Joe and Kennedy, reclining at full length near each
other, tried, if not in slumber, at least in torpor, to forget
their situation, for their forced inactivity gave them
periods of leisure far from pleasant. That man is to be
pitied the most who cannot wean himself from gloomy
GLOOMY MEDITATIONS. 209
reflections by actual work, or some practical pursuit. But
here there was nothing to look after, nothing to under-
take, and they had to submit to the situation, without
having it in their power to ameliorate it.
The pangs of thirst began to be severely felt; brandy,
far from appeasing this imperious necessity, augmented
it, and richly merited the name of â€œtigerâ€™s milkâ€ applied
to it by the African natives. Scarcely two pints of water
remained, and that was heated. Each of the party de-
voured the few precious drops with his gaze, yet neither
of them dared to moisten his lips with them. Two pints
of water in the midst of the desert !
Then it was that Dr. Ferguson, buried in meditation,
asked himself whether he had acted with prudence.
Would he not have done better to have kept the water
that he had decomposed in pure loss, in order to sustain
him in the air? He had gained a little distance, to be
sure; but was he any nearer to his journeyâ€™s end? What
difference did sixty miles to the rear make in this region,
when there was no water to be had where they were?
The wind, should it rise, would blow there as it did here,
only less strongly at this point, if it came from the east.
But hope urged him onward. And yet those two gallons
of water, expended in vain, would have sufficed for nine
daysâ€™ halt in the desert. And what changes might not
have occurred in nine days! Perhaps, too, while retain-
ing the water, he might have ascended by throwing out
ballast, at the cost merely of discharging some gas, when
he had again to descend. But the gas in his balloon was
his blood, his very life!
A thousand and one such reflections whirled in succes-
sion through his brain; and, resting his head between his
hands, he sat there for hours without raising it.
â€œWe must make one final effort,â€ he said, at last,
about ten oâ€™clock in the morning. â€œWe must endeavor,
210 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
just once more, to find an atmospheric current to bear us
away from here, and, to that end, must risk our last
Therefore, while his companions slept, the doctor raised
the hydrogen in the balloon to an elevated temperature,
and the huge globe, filling out by the dilation of the gas,
rose straight up in the perpendicular rays of the sun.
The doctor searched vainly for a breath of wind, from the
height of one hundred feet to that of five miles; his start-
ing-point remained fatally right below him, and absolute
calm seemed to reign, up to the extreme limits of the
breathing atmosphere. ~
At length the feeding-supply of water gave out; the
cylinder was extinguished for lack of gas; the Buntzen
battery ceased to work, and the balloon, shrinking to-
gether, gently descended to the sand, in the very place
that the car had hollowed out there.
It was noon; and solar observations gave nineteen
degrees thirty-five minutes east longitude, and six degrees
fifty-one minutes north latitude, or nearly five hundred
miles from Lake Tchad, and more than four hundred miles
from the western coast of Africa.
On the balloon taking ground, Kennedy and Joe awoke
from their stupor.
â€œWe have halted,â€ said the Scot.
â€œWe had to do so,â€ replied the doctor, gravely.
His companions understood him. The level of the
soil at that point corresponded with the level of the sea,
and, consequently, the balloon remained in perfect equi-
librium, and absolutely motionless. â€”-
The weight of the three travellers was replaced with
an equivalent quantity of sand, and they got out of the
car. Each was absorbed in his own thoughts; and for
many hours neither of them spoke. Joe prepared their
evening meal, which consisted of biscuit and pemmican,
SUFFERING FROM THIRST. 211
and was hardly tasted by either of the party. A mouth-
ful of scalding water from their little store completed this
During the night none of them kept awake; yet none
could be precisely said to have slept. On the morrow
there remained only half a pint of water, and this the doc-
tor put away, all three having resolved not to touch it
until the last extremity.
It was not long, however, before Joe exclaimed :
â€œTâ€™m choking, and the heat is getting worse! [Iâ€™m
not surprised at that, though,â€ he added, consulting the
thermometer; â€œone hundred and forty degrees!â€
â€œ'The sand scorches me,â€ said the hunter, â€œas though
it had just come out of a furnace; and not a cloud in this
sky of fire. Itâ€™s enough to drive one mad!â€
â€œLet us not despair,â€ responded the doctor. â€œIn this
latitude these intense heats are invariably followed by
storms, and the latter come with the suddenness of light-
ning. Notwithstanding this disheartening clearness of
the sky, great atmospheric changes may take place in less
than an hour.â€
â€œ But,â€ asked Kennedy, â€œis there any sign whatever
â€œWell,â€ replied the doctor, â€œI think that there is
some slight symptom of a fall in the barometer.â€
â€œ May Heaven hearken to you, Samuel! for here we are
pinned to the ground, like a bird with broken wings.â€
â€œWith this difference, however, my dear Dick, that
our wings are unhurt, and I hope that we shall be able to
use them again.â€
â€œAh! wind! wind!â€ exclaimed Joe; â€œenough to
carry us to a stream or a well, and we'll be all right.
We have provisions enough, and, with water, we could
wait a month without suffering; but thirst is a cruel
212 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
It was not thirst alone, but the unchanging sight of the
desert, that fatigued the mind. There was not a variation
in the surface of the soil, not a hillock of sand, not a
pebble, to relieve the gaze. This unbroken level discour-
aged the beholder, and gave him that kind of malady
called the â€œ desert-sickness.â€ The impassible monotony
of the arid blue sky, and the vast yellow expanse of the
desert-sand, at length produced a sensation of terror. In
this inflamed atmosphere the heat appeared to vibrate
as it does above a blazing hearth, while the mind grew
desperate in contemplating the limitless calm, and could
see no reason why the thing should ever end, since im-
mensity is a species of eternity.
Thus, at last, our hapless travellers, deprived of water
in this torrid heat, began to feel symptoms of mental dis-
order. Their eyes swelled in their sockets, and their gaze
When night came on, the doctor determined to com-
bat this alarming tendency by rapid walking. His idea
was to paceghe sandy plain for a few hours, not in search
of any thing, but simply for exercise.
â€œCome along!â€ he said to his companions; â€œbelieve
me, it will do you good.â€
â€œOut of the question!â€ said Kennedy; â€œI could not
walk a step.â€
â€œ And J,â€ said Joe, â€œ would rather sleep!â€
â€œ But sleep, or even rest, would be dangerous to you,
my friends; you must react against this tendency to
stupor. Come with me!â€
But the doctor could do nothing with them, and, there-
fore, set off alone, amid the starry clearness of the night,
The first few steps he took were painful, for they were
the steps of an enfeebled man quite out of practice in
walking. However, he quickly saw that the exercise
. would be beneficial to him, and pushed on several miles
THE DOCTOR SWOONS. 213
to the westward. Once in rapid motion, he felt his spirits
greatly cheered, when, suddenly, a vertigo came over him;
he seemed to be poised on the edge of an abyss; his knees
bent under him; the vast solitude struck terror to his
heart; he found himself the minute mathematical point,
the centre of an infinite circumference, that is to sayâ€”a
nothing! The balloon had disappeared entirely in the
deepening gloom. The doctor, cool, impassible, reckless
explorer that he was, felt himself at last seized with a
nameless dread. Te strove to retrace his steps, but in
vain. He called aloud. Not even an echo replied, and
his voice died out in the empty vastness of surrounding
space, like a pebble cast into a bottomless gulf; then,
down he sank, fainting, on the sand, alone, amid the eter-
nal silence of the desert.
At midnight he came to, in the arms of his faithful
follower, Joe. The latter, uneasy at his masterâ€™s pro-
longed absence, had set out after him, easily tracing him
by the clear imprint of his feet in the sand, and had found
him lying in a swoon.
â€œ What has been the matter, sir?â€ was the first inquiry.
â€œ Nothing, Joe, nothing! Only a touch of weakness,
thatâ€™s all. Itâ€™s over now.â€
â€œOh! it wonâ€™t amount to any thing, sir, â€™m sure of
that; but get up on your feet, if you can. There! lean
upon me, and let us get back to the balloon.â€
And the doctor, leaning on Joeâ€™s arm, returned along
the track by which he had come.
â€œYou were too bold, sir; it wonâ€™t do to run such
risks. You might have been robbed,â€ he added, laugh-
ing. â€œ But, sir, come now, let us talk seriously.â€
â€œSpeak! Iam listening to you.â€
â€œWe must positively make up our minds to do some-
thing. Our present situation cannot last more than a few
days longer, and if we get no wind, we are lost.â€
o14 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The doctor made no reply.
â€œWell, then, one of us must sacrifice himself for the
good of all, and it is most natural that it should fall to me
to do so.â€
â€œWhat have you to propose? What is your plan?â€
â€œ A very simple one! It is to take provisions enough,
and to walk right on until I come to some place, as I must
do, sooner or later. In the mean time, if Heaven sends
you a good wind, you need not wait, but can start again.
For my part, if I come to a village, Pl work my way
through with a few Arabic words that you can write for
me on a slip of paper, and Tâ€™ll bring you help or lose my
hide. What do you think of my plan?â€
â€œTt is absolute folly, Joe, but worthy of your noble
heart. The thing is impossible. You will not leave us.â€
â€œ But, sir, we must do something, and this plan canâ€™t
do you any harm, for, I say again, you need not wait;
and then, after all, I may succeed.â€
â€œNo, Joe, no! We will not separate. That would
only be adding sorrow to trouble. It was written that
matters should be as they are; and it is very probably
written that it shall be quite otherwise by-and-by. Let
us wait, then, with resignation.â€
â€œSo be it, master; but take notice of one thing: I
give you a day longer, and I'll not wait after that. To-
day is Sunday; we might say Monday, as it is one oâ€™clock
in the morning, and if we donâ€™t get off by Tuesday, Pll
run the risk, DPâ€™ve made up my mind to that!â€
The doctor made no answer, and in a few minutes they
got back to the car, where he took his place beside Ken-
nedy, who lay there plunged in silence so complete that
it could not be considered sleep.
Terrific Heat.â€”Hallucinations.â€”The Last Drops of Water.â€”Nights of Despair,
An Attempt at Suicide.â€”The Simoom.â€”The Oasis.â€”The Lion and Lioness,
Tux doctorâ€™s first care, on the morrow, was to consult
the barometer. He found that the mercury had scarcely
undergone any perceptible depression.
â€œNothing!â€ he murmered, â€œnothing!â€
He got out of the car and scrutinized the weather;
there was only the same heat, the same cloudless sky, the
same merciless drought.
â€œMust we, then, give up to despair?â€ he exclaimed,
Joe did not open his lips. He was buried in his own
thoughts, and planning the expedition he had proposed.
Kennedy got up, feeling very ill, and a prey to nervous
agitation. He was suffering horribly with thirst, and his
swollen tongue and lips could hardly articulate a syllable.
There still remained a few drops of water. Each of
them knew this, and each was thinking of it, and felt him-
self drawn toward them; but neither of the three dared
to take a step.
Those three men, friends and companions as they were,
fixed their haggard eyes upon each other with an instinct
of ferocious longing, which was most plainly revealed in
the hardy Scot, whose vigorous constitution yielded the
soonest to these unnatural privations.
Threnghens the day he was delirious, pacing up and
216 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
down, uttering hoarse cries, gnawing his clinched fists,
and ready to open his veins and drink his own hot blood.
â€œ Ah!â€ he cried, â€œland of thirst! Well might you be
called the land of despair!â€
At length he sank down in utter prostration, and his
friends heard no other sound from him than the hissing of
his breath between his parched and swollen lips.
Toward evening, Joe had his turn of delirium. The
vast expanse of sand appeared to him an immense pond,
full of clear and limpid water; and, more than once, he
dashed himself upon the scorching waste to drink long
draughts, and rose again with his mouth clogged with hot
â€œ Curses on it!â€ he yelled, in his madness, â€œitâ€™s noth-
ing but salt water!â€
Then, while Ferguson and Kennedy lay there motion-
less, the resistless longing came over him to drain the last
few drops of water that had been kept in reserve. The
natural instinct proved too strong. He dragged himselfâ€™
toward the car, on his knees; he glared at the bottle con-
taining the precious fluid; he gave one wild, eager glance,
seized the treasured store, and bore it to his lips.
At that instant he heard a heart-rending cry close
beside himâ€”â€œ Water! water!â€ '
It was Kennedy, who had crawled up close to him, and
was begging there, upon his knees, and weeping piteously.
Joe, himself in tears, gave the poor wretch the bottle,
and Kennedy drained the last drop with savage haste.
â€œThanks!â€ he murmured hoarsely, but Joe did not
hear him, for both alike had dropped fainting on the sand.
What took place during that fearful night neither of
them knew, but, on Tuesday morning, under those show-
ers of heat which the sun poured down upon them, the
unfortunate men felt their limbs gradually drying up, and
when Joe attempted to rise he found it impossible.
He looked around him. In the car, the doctor, com-
pletely overwhelmed, sat with his arms folded on his
breast, gazing with idiotic fixedness upon some imaginary
point in space. Kennedy was frightful to behold. He
was rolling his head from right to left like a wild beast in
All at once, his eyes rested on the butt of his rifle,
which jutted above the rim of the car.
â€œAh!â€ he screamed, raising himself with a superhu-
Desperate, mad, he snatched at the weapon, and turned
the barrel toward his mouth.
â€œ Kennedy!â€ shouted Joe, throwing himself upon his
â€œLet go! hands off!â€ moaned the Scot, in a hoarse,
grating voiceâ€”and then the two struggled desperately for
â€œLet go, or Pi kill you!â€ repeated Kennedy. But
Joe clung to him only the more fiercely, and they had
been contending thus without the doctor seeing them for
many seconds, when, suddenly the rifle went off. At the
sound of its discharge, the doctor rose up erect, like a
spectre, and glared around him.
But all at once his glance grew more animated; he ex-
tended his hand toward the horizon, and in a voice no
longer human shrieked :
â€œThere! thereâ€”off there!â€
There was such fearful force in the cry that Kennedy
and Joe released each other, and both looked where the
The plain was agitated like the sea shaken by the fury
of a tempest; billows of sand went tossing over each other
amid blinding clouds of dust; an immense pillar was seen
whirling toward them through the air from the southeast,
with terrific velocity ; the sun was disappearing behind an
218 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
opaque veil of cloud whose enormous barrier extended
clear to the horizon, while the grains of fine sand went
gliding together with all the supple ease of liquid parti-
cles, and the rising dust-tide gained more and more with
Fergusonâ€™s eyes gleamed with a ray of energetic hope.
â€œThe simoom!â€ he exclaimed.
â€œThe simoom!â€ repeated Joe, without exactly know-
ing what it meant.
â€œSo much the better!â€ said Kennedy, with the bitter-
ness of despair. â€œSo much the betterâ€”we shall die!â€
â€œSo much the better!â€ echoed the doctor, â€œfor we
shall live!â€ and, so saying, he began rapidly to throw out
the sand that encumbered the ear.
At length his companions understood him, and took
their places at his side.
â€œAnd now, Joe,â€ said the doctor, â€œthrow out some
fifty pounds of your ore, there!â€
Joe no longer hesitated, although he still felt a fleeting
pang of regret. The balloon at once began to ascend.
â€œTt was high time!â€ said the doctor.
The simoom, in fact, came rushing on like a thunder-
bolt, and a moment later the balloon would have been
crushed, torn to atoms, annihilated. The awful whirlwind
was almost upon it, and it was already pelted with show-
ers of sand driven like hail by the storm.
â€œOut with more ballast!â€ shouted the doctor.
â€œThere!â€ responded Joe, tossing over a huge fragment
With this, the Victoria rose swiftly above the range
of the whirling column, but, caught in the vast displace-
ment of the atmosphere thereby occasioned, it was borne
along with incalculable rapidity away above this foaming
The three travellers did not speak. They gazed, and
THE OASIS. 219
hoped, and even felt refreshed by the breath of the tem-
About three oâ€™clock, the whirlwind ceased; the sand,
falling again upon the desert, formed numberless little hil-
locks, and the sky resumed its former tranquillity.
The balloon, which had again lost its momentum, was
floating in sight of an oasis, a sort of islet studded with
green trees, thrown up upon the surface of this sandy
â€œWater! we'll find water there!â€ said the doctor.
And, instantly, opening the upper valve, he let some
hydrogen escape, and slowly descended, taking the ground
at about two hundred feet from the edge of the oasis,
In four hours the travellers had swept over a distance
of two hundred and forty miles !
The car was at once ballasted, and Kennedy, closely
followed by Joe, leaped out.
â€œTake your guns with you!â€ said the doctor; â€œtake
your guns, and be careful!â€
Dick grasped his rifle, and Joe took one of the fowling-
pieces. They then rapidly made for the trees, and disap-
peared under the fresh verdure, which announced the
presence of abundant springs. As they hurried on, they
had not taken notice of certain large footprints and fresh
tracks of some living creature marked here and there in
the damp soil.
Suddenly, a dull roar was heard not twenty paces from
â€œThe roar of a lion!â€ said Joe.
â€œGood for that!â€ said the excited hunter; â€œwe'll
fight him. A man feels strong when only a fightâ€™s in
â€œ But be careful, Mr. Kennedy ; 5 be eorenilt The lives
of all depend upon the life of one.â€™
But Kennedy no longer heard him; he was pushing
220 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
on, his eye blazing ; his rifle cocked; fearful to behold in
his daring rashness. â€œThere, under a palm-tree, stood an
enormous black-maned lion, crouching for a spring on his
antagonist. Scarcely had he caught a glimpse of the
hunter, when he bounded through the air; but he had not
tcuched the ground ere a bullet pierced his heart, and he
fell to the earth dead.
â€œWurra! hurra!â€ shouted Joe, with wild exulta-
Kennedy rushed toward the well, slid down the damp
ened steps, and flung himself at full length by the side of
a fresh spring, in which he plunged his parched lips. Joe
followed suit, and for some minutes nothing was heard but
the sound they made with their mouths, drinking more
like maddened beasts than men. :
â€œTake care, Mr. Kennedy,â€ said Joe at last; â€œlet us
not overdo the thing!â€ and he panted for breath.
But Kennedy, without a word, drank on. He even
plunged his hands, and then his head, into the delicious
tideâ€”he fairly revelled in its coolness.
â€œBut the doctor?â€ said Joe; â€œour friend, Dr. Fer-
That one word recalled Kennedy to himself, and, hastily
filling a flask that he had brought with him, he started on
a run up the steps of the well.
But what was his amazement when he saw an opaque
body of enormous dimensions blocking up the passage!
Joe, who was close upon Kennedyâ€™s heels, recoiled with
â€œWe are blocked inâ€”entrapped !â€
â€œImpossible! What does that mean ?â€”â€
Dick had no time to finish; a terrific roar made him
only too quickly aware what foe confronted him.
â€œ Another lion!â€ exclaimed Joe.
â€œA lioness, rather,â€ said Kennedy. â€œAh! ferocious
FIGHT WITH A LIONESS. val
brute!â€ he added, â€œTl settle you in a moment more!â€
and swiftly reloaded his rifle.
In another instant he fired, but the animal had disap-
â€œ Onward!â€ shouted Kennedy.
â€œNo!â€ interposed the other, â€œthat shot did not kill
her; her body would have rolled down the steps; sheâ€™s
up there, ready to spring upon the first of us who appears,
and he would be a lost man!â€
â€œBut what are we todo? We must get out of this,
and the doctor is expecting us.â€
â€œLet us decoy the animal. Take my piece, and give
me your rifle.â€
_ â€œWhat is your plan?â€
And Joe, taking off his linen jacket, hung it on the end
of the rifle, and thrust it above the top of the steps. The
lioness flung herself furiously upon it. MKennedy was on
the alert for her, and his bullet broke her shoulder. The
lioness, with a frightful howl of agony, rolled down the
steps, overturning Joe in her fall. The poor fellow ima-
gined that he could already feel the enormous paws of the
savage beast in his flesh, when a second detonation re-
sounded in the narrow passage, and Dr. Ferguson appeared
at the opening above with his gun in hand, and still smok-
ing from the discharge.
Joe leaped to his feet, clambered over the body of the
dead lioness, and handed up the flask full of sparkling
water to his master.
To carry it to his lips, and to half empty it at a draught,
was the work of an instant, and the three travellers offered
up thanks from the depths of their hearts to that Provi-
dence who had so miraculously saved them.
An Evening of Delight.â€”Joeâ€™s Culinary Performances.â€”A Dissertation on Raw
Meat.â€”The Narrative of James Bruce.â€”Camping out.â€”Joeâ€™s Dreams.â€”The
Barometer begins to fall.â€”The Barometer rises again.â€”Preparations for
THE evening was lovely, and our three friends enjoyed
it in the cool shade of the mimosas, after a substantial re-
past, at which the tea and the punch were dealt out with
no niggardly hand.
Kennedy had traversed the little domain in all direc-
tions. He had ransacked every thicket and satisfied him-
self that the balloon party were the only living creatures
in this terrestrial paradise; so they stretched themselves
upon their blankets and passed a peaceful night that
brought them forgetfulness of their past sufferings.
On the morrow, May 7th, the sun shone with all his
splendor, but his rays could not penetrate the dense screen
of the palm-tree foliage, and as there was no lack of pro-
visions, the doctor resolved to remain where he was while
waiting for a favorable wind.
Joe had conveyed his portable kitchen to the oasis, and
proceeded to indulge in any number of culinary combina-
tions, using water all the time with the most profuse ex-
â€œ What a strange succession of annoyances and enjoy-
ments!â€ moralized Kennedy. â€œSuch abundance as this
after such privations; such iy after such want! Ah!
I nearly went mad!â€
â€œ My dear Dick,â€ replied the doctor, â€œhad it not been
for Joe, you would not be sitting here, to-day, discoursing
on the instability of human affairs.â€
â€œ Whole-hearted friend!â€ said Kennedy, extending
his hand to Joe.
â€œ Thereâ€™s no occasion for all that,â€ responded the latter;
â€œbut you can take your revenge some time, Mr. Kennedy,
always hoping though that you may never have occasion
to do the same for me!â€
â€œTtâ€™s a poor constitution this of ours to succumb to so
little,â€ philosophized Dr. Ferguson.
â€œSo little water, you mean, doctor,â€ interposed Joe;
â€œthat element must be very necessary to life.â€
â€œUndoubtedly, and persons deprived of food hold out
longer than those deprived of water.â€
â€œT believe it. Besides, when needs must, one can eat
any thing he comes across, even his fellow-creatures, al-
though that must be a kind of food thatâ€™s pretty hard to
â€œThe savages donâ€™t boggle much about it!â€ said
â€œYes; but then they are savages, and accustomed to
devouring raw meat; its something that Iâ€™d find very
disgusting, for my part.â€
â€œTt is disgusting enough,â€ said the doctor, â€œthatâ€™s a
fact; and so much s0, indeed, that nobody believed the
narratives of the earliest travellers in Africa who brought
back word that many tribes on that continent subsisted
upon raw meat, and people generally refused to credit the
statement. It was under such circumstances that a very
singular adventure befell James Bruce.â€
â€œTell it to us, doctor; weâ€™ve time enough to hear it,â€
said Joe, stretching himself voluptuously on the cool
â€œBy all means.â€”James Bruce was a Scotchman, of
924 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
Stirlingshire, who, between 1768 and 1772, traversed al
Abyssinia, as far as Lake Tyana, in search of the sources
of the Nile. He afterward returned to England, but did
not publish an account of his journeys until 1790. His
statements were received with extreme incredulity, and
such may be the reception accorded to our own. Tha
manners and customs of the Abyssinians seemed so differ-
ent from those of the English, that no one would credit the
description of them. Among other details, Bruce had put
forward the assertion that the tribes of Eastern Africa fed
upon raw flesh, and this set everybody against him. He
might say so as much as he pleased; there was no one
likely to go and see! One day, in a parlor at Edinburgh,
a Scotch gentleman took up the subject in his presence, as
it had become the topic of daily pleasantry, and, in refer-
ence to the cating of raw flesh, said that the thing was
neither possible nor true. Bruce made no reply, but went
out and returned a few minutes later with a raw steak,
seasoned with pepper and salt, in the African style.
statements, you have grossly affronted me; in believing
the thing to be impossible, you have been egregiously
mistaken ; and, in proof thereof, you will now eat this beef-
steak raw, or you will give me instant satisfaction!â€™
The Scotchman had a wholesome dread of the brawny
traveller, and did eat the steak, although not without a
good many wry faces. Thereupon, with the. utmost cool-
ness, James Bruce added: â€˜Even admitting, sir, that the
thing were untrue, you will, at least, no longer maintain
that it is impossible.â€™ â€
â€œWell put in!â€ said Joe, â€œand if the Scotchman
found it lie heavy on his stomach, he got no more than he
deserved. If, on our return to England, they dare to
aoubt what we say about our travelsâ€”â€
â€œWell, Joe, what would you do?â€
â€œWhy, I'll make the doubters swallow the pieces of
the balloon, without either salt or pepper!â€
All burst out laughing at Joeâ€™s queer notions, and thus
the day slipped by in pleasant chat. With returning
strength, hope had revived, and with hope came the cour-
age to do and to dare. The past was obliterated in the
presence of the future with providential rapidity.
Joe would have been willing to remain forever in this
enchanting asylum; it was the realm he had pictured in
his dreams ; he felt himself at home; his master had to
give him his exact location, and it was with the gravest
air imaginable that he wrote down on his tablets fifteen
degrees forty-three minutes east longitude, and eight de-
grees thirty-two minutes north latitude.
Kennedy had but one regret, to wit, that he could not
hunt in that miniature forest, because, according to his
ideas, there was a slight deficiency of ferocious wild beasts
â€œBut, my dear Dick,â€ said the doctor, â€œhavenâ€™t you
rather a short memory? How about the lion and the
â€œOh, that!â€ he ejaculated with the contempt of a
thorough-bred sportsman for game already killed. â€œ But
the fact is, that finding them here would lead one to sup-
pose that we canâ€™t be far from a more fertile country.â€
â€œTt donâ€™t prove much, Dick, for those animals, when
goaded by hunger or thirst, will travel long distances, and
I think that, to-night, we had better keep a more vigilant
lookout, and light fires, besides.â€
â€œ What, in such heat as this?â€ said Joe. â€œ Well, if
itâ€™s necessary, we'll have to do it, but I do think it a real
pity to burn this pretty grove that has been such a com-
fort to us!â€
â€œOh! above all things, we must take the utmost care
not to set it on fire,â€ replied the doctor, â€œso that others
226 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
in the same strait as ourselves may some day find shelter
here in the middle of the desert.â€ ,
â€œT'll be very careful, indeed, doctor; but do you think
that this oasis is known?â€
â€œUndoubtedly ; it is a halting-place for the caravans
that frequent the centre of Africa, and a visit from one
of them might be any thing but pleasant to you,
â€œWhy, are there any more of those rascally Nyam-
Nyams around here?â€
â€œCertainly ; that is the general name of all the neigh-
boring tribes, and, under the same climates, the same
races are likely to have similar manners and customs.â€
â€œPah!â€ said Joe, â€œ but, after all, itâ€™s natural enough.
If savages had the ways of gentlemen, where would be the
difference? By George, these fine fellows wouldnâ€™t have
to be coaxed long to eat the Scotchmanâ€™s raw steak, nor
the Scotchman either, into the bargain!â€
With this very sensible observation, Joe began to get
ready his firewood for the night, making just as little of
it as possible. Fortunately, these precautions were super-
fluous ; and each of the party, in his turn, dropped off into
the soundest slumber.
On the next day the weather still showed no sign of
-change, but kept provokingly and obstinately fair. The
balloon remained motionless, without any oscillation to
betray a breath of wind.
The doctor began to get uneasy again. If their stay
in the desert were to be prolonged like this, their provi-
sions would give out. After nearly perishing for want of
water, they would, at last, have to starve to death!
But he took fresh courage as he saw the mercury fall
considerably in the barometer, and noticed evident signs
of an early change in the atmosphere. He therefore re-
solved to make all his preparations for a start, so as to
JOE HAS TO THROW AWAY MORE QUARTZ 227â€”
avail himself of the first opportunity. The feeding-tank
and the water-tank were both completely filled.
Then he had to reÃ©stablish the equilibrium of the bal-
loon, and Joe was obliged to part with another consider-
able portion of his precious quartz. With restored health,
his ambitious notions had come back to him, and he made
more than one wry face before obeying his master; but
the latter convinced him that he could not carry so con-
siderable a weight with him through the air, and gave
him his choice between the water and the gold. Joe
hesitated no longer, but flung out the requisite quantity
of his much-prized ore upon the sand.
â€œThe next people who come this way,â€ he remarked.
â€œwill be rather surprised to find a fortune in such a
â€œ And suppose some learned traveller should come
across these specimens, eh?â€ suggested Kennedy.
â€œYou may be certain, Dick, that they would take him
by surprise, and that he would publish his astonishment
in several folios; so that some day we shall hear of a won-
derful deposit of gold-bearing quartz in the midst of the
* And Joe there, wil. ve the cause of it all!â€
This idea of mystifying some learned sage tickled Joe
hugely, and made him laugh.
During the rest of the day the doctor vainly kept on
the watch for a change of weather. The temperature rose,
and, had it not been for the shade of the oasis, would have
been insupportable. The thermometer marked a hundred
and forty-nine degrees in the sun, and a veritable rain of
fire filled the air. This was the most intense heat that
they had yet noted.
Joe arranged their bivouac for that evening, as he had
done for the previous night; and during the watches kept
by the doctor and Kennedy. there was no fresh incident.
228 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
But, toward three oâ€™clock in the morning, while Joe
was on guard, the temperature suddenly fell; the sky
became overcast with clouds, and the darkness increased.
â€œTurn out!â€ cried Joe, arousing his companions,
â€œTurn out! Hereâ€™s the wind!â€
â€œ At last !â€ exclaimed the doctor, eying the heavens.
â€œBut itis astorm! The balloon! Let us hasten to the
It was high time for them to reach it. The Victoria
was bending to the force of the hurricane, and dragging
along the car, the latter grazing the sand... Had any por-
tion of the ballast been accidentally thrown out, the
balloon would have been swept away, and all hope of
recovering it have been forever lost.
But fleet-footed Joe put forth his utmost speed, and
checked the car, while the balloon beat upon the sand, at
the risk of being torn to pieces. The doctor, followed by
Kennedy, leaped in, and lit his cylinder, while his com-
panions threw out the superfluous ballast.
The travellers took one, last look at the trees of the
oasis bowing to the force of the hurricane, and soon,
catching the wind at two hundred feet above the ground,
disappeared in the gloom,
Signs of Vegetation.â€”The Fantastic Notion of a French Author.â€”A Magnificent
Country.â€”The Kingdom of Adamova.â€”The Explorations of Speke and Bur-
ton connected with those of Dr. Barth.â€”The Atlantika Mountains.â€”The
River BenouÃ©.â€”The City of Yola.â€”The BagelÃ©.â€”Mount Mendif.
From the moment of their departure, the travellers
moved with great velocity. They longed to leave behind
them the desert, which had so nearly been fatal to them.
About a quarter-past nine in the morning, they caught
a glimpse of some signs of vegetation: herbage floating
on that sea of sand, and announcing, as the weeds upon
the ocean did to Christopher Columbus, the nearness of
the shoreâ€”green shoots peeping up timidly between peb-
bles that were, in their turn, to be the rocks of that vast
Hills, but of trifling height, were seen in wavy lines
upon the horizon. Their profile, muffled by the heavy
mist, was defined but vaguely. The monotony, however,
was beginning to disappear.
The doctor hailed with joy the new country thus dis-
closed, and, like a seaman on lookout at the mast-head, he
was ready to shout aloud:
â€œ Land, ho! land!â€
An hour later the continent spread broadly before their
gaze, still wild in aspect, but less flat, less denuded, and
with a few trees standing out against the gray sky.
â€œWe are in a civilized country at last!â€ said the
230 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œ Civilized? â€˜Well, thatâ€™s one way of speaking; but
there are no people to be seen yet.â€
â€œJt will not be long before we see them,â€ said Fer-
guson, â€œat our present rate of travel.â€
â€œ Are we still in the negro country, doctor?â€
â€œYes, and on our way to the country of the Arabs.â€
â€œWhat! real Arabs, sir, with their camels?â€
â€œNo, not many camels; they are scarce, if not alto-
gether unknown, in these regions. We must go a few
degrees farther north to see them.â€
â€œ What a pity!â€
â€œ And why, Joe?â€ .
â€œ Because, if the wind fell contrary, they might be of
use to us.â€
â€œ TIow so?â€
â€œWell, sir, itâ€™s just a notion thatâ€™s got into my head:
we might hitch them to the car, and make them tow us
along. What do you say to that, doctor?â€
â€œPoor Joe! Another person had that idea in advance
of you. It was used by a very gifted French authorâ€”
M. MÃ©ryâ€”in a romance, it is true. He has his travellers
drawn. along in a balloon by a team of camels ; then a lion
comes up, devours the camels, swallows the ton: -rope, and
hauls the balloon in their stead; and so on through the
story. You see that the whole thing is the top-flower of
fancy, but has nothing in common with our style of loco-
Joe, a little cut down at learning that his idea had
been used already, cudgelled his wits to imagine what
animal could have devoured the lion; but he could not
guess it, and so quietly went on scanning the appearance
of the country.
A lake of medium extent stretched away before him,
surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, which yet could
not be dignified with the name of mountains. There were
A MAGNIFICENT PROSPECT. 231
winding valleys, numerous and fertile, with their tangled
thickets of the most various trees. The African oil-tree
rose above the mass, with leaves fifteen feet in length upon
its stalk, the latter studded with sharp thorns; the bom-
bax, or silk-cotton-tree, filled the wind, as it swept by,
with the fine down of its seeds; the pungent odors of the
pendanus, the â€œkendaâ€ of the Arabs, perfumed the air
up to the height where the Victoria was sailing; the
papaw-tree, with its palm-shaped leaves; the stercudier,
which produces the Soudan-nut; the baobab, and the
banana-tree, completed the luxuriant flora of these inter-
â€œThe country is superb!â€ said the doctor.
â€œHere are some animals,â€ added Joe. â€œMen are not
â€œOh, what magnificent elephants!â€ exclaimed Ken-
nedy. â€œIs there no way to get a little shooting?â€
â€œ How could we manage to halt in a current as strong
as this? No, Dick; you must taste a little of the torture
of Tantalus just now. You shall make up forit afterward.â€
And, in truth, there was enough to excite the fancy of
a sportsman. Dickâ€™s heart fairly leaped in his breast as
he grasped the butt of his Purdy.
The fauna of the region were as striking as its flora.
The wild-ox revelled in dense herbage that often concealed
his whole body; gray, black, and yellow elephants of the
most gigantic size burst headlong, like a living hurricane,
through the forests, breaking, rending, tearing down, de-
vastating every thing in their path; upon the woody
slopes of the hills trickled cascades and springs flowing
northward ; there, too, the hippopotami bathed their huge
forms, splashing and snorting as they frolicked in tho
water, and lamantines, twelve feet long, with bodies like
seals, stretched themselves along the banks, turning up
toward the sun their rounded teats swollen with milk.
232, FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
It was a whole menagerie of rare and curious beasts in
a wondrous hot-house, where numberless birds with plu-
mage of a thousand hues gleamed and fluttered in the sun-
By this prodigality of Nature, the doctor recognized
the splendid kingdom of Adamova.
â€œWe are now beginning to trench upon the realm of
modern discovery. I have taken up the lost scent of pre-
ceding travellers. It is a happy chance, my friends, for
we shall be enabled to link the toils of Captains Burton and
Speke with the explorations of Dr. Barth. We have left
the Englishmen behind us, and now have caught up with
the Hamburger. It will not be long, cither, before we
arrive at the extreme point attained by that daring ex-
â€œTt seems to me that there is a vast extent of country
between the two explored routes,â€ remarked Kennedy;
â€œat least, if I am to judge by the distance that we have
â€œTt is easy to determine: take the map and see what
is the longitude of the southern point of Lake UkÃ©rÃ©ouÃ©,
reached by Speke.â€
â€œTt is near the thirty-seventh degree.â€
â€œ And the city of Yola, which we shall sight this even-
ing, and to which Barth penetrated, what is its position ?â€
â€œJt is about in the twelfth degree of east longitude.â€
â€œ Then there are twenty-five degrees, or, counting sixty
miles to each, about fifteen hundred miles in all.â€
â€œ A nice little walk,â€ said Joe, â€œfor people who have
to go on foot.â€
â€œJt will be accomplished, however. Livingstone and
Moffat are pushing on up this line toward the interior.
Nyassa, which they have discovered, is not far from Lake
Tanganayika, seen by Burton. Ere the close of the century
these regions will, undoubtedly, be explored, But,â€ added
THEY WALT FORTY MILES FROM YOLA. 233
the doctor, consulting his compass, â€œI regret that the
wind is carrying us so far to the westward. I wanted to
get to the north.â€
After twelve hours of progress, the Victoria found her-
self on the confines of Nigritia. The first inhabitants of
this region, the Chouas Arabs, were feeding their wander-
ing flocks. The immense summits of the Atlantika Moun-
tains seen above the horizonâ€”mountains that no European
foot had yet scaled, and whose height is computed to be
ten thousand feet! Their western slope determines the
flow of all the waters in this region of Africa toward the
ocean, They are the Mountains of the Moon to this part
of the continent.
At length a real river grected the gaze of our travel-
lers, and, by the enormous ant-hills seen in its vicinity, the
doctor recognized the BenouÃ©, one of the great tributaries
of the Niger, the one which the natives have called â€œ The
Fountain of the Waters.â€
â€œThis river,â€ said the doctor to his companions, â€œ will,
one day, be the natural channel of communication with
the interior of Nigritia. Under the command of one of
our brave captains, the steamer Pleiad has already as-
cended as faras the town of Yola. You see that we are
not in an unknown country.â€
Numerous slaves were engaged in the labors of the
field, cultivating sorgho, a kind of millet which forms the
chief basis of their diet ; and the most stupid expressions
of astonishment ensued as the Victoria sped past like a
meteor. That evening the balloon halted about forty miles
from Yola, and ahead of it, but in the distance, rose the
two sharp cones of Mount Mendif.
The doctor threw out his anchors and made fast to the
top of a high tree; but a very violent wind beat upon the
balloon with such force as to throw it over on its side, thus
rendering the position of the car sometimes extremely
234 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
dangerous. Ferguson did not close his eyes all night, and
he was repeatedly on the point of cutting the anchor-rope
and scudding away before the gale. At length, however,
the storm abated, and the oscillations of the balloon ceased
to be alarming.
â€˜ On the morrow the wind was more moderate, but it
carried our travellers away from the city of Yola, which,
recently rebuilt by the Fouillans, excited Fergusonâ€™s curi-
osity. TJowever, he had to make up his mind to being
borne farther to the northward and even a little to the
Kennedy proposed to halt in this fine hunting-country,
and Joe declared that the need of fresh meat was begin-
ning to be felt; but the savage customs of the country,
the attitude of the population, and some shots fired at the
Victoria, admonished the doctor to continue his journey.
They were then crossing a region that was the scene of
massacres and burnings, and where warlike conflicts be-
tween the barbarian sultans, contending for their DONEE
amid the most atrocious carnage, never cease.
Numerous and populous villages of long low huts
stretched away between broad pasture-fields whose dense
herbage was besprinkled with violet-colored blossoms.
The huts, looking like huge beehives, were sheltered be-
hind bristling palisades. The wild hill-sides and hollows
frequently reminded the beholder of the glens in the High-
lands of Scotland, as Kennedy more than once remarxed.
In spite of all he could do, the doctor bore directly to
the northeast, toward Mount Mendif, which was lost in
the midst of environing clouds. The lofty summits of
these mountains separate the valley of the Niger from the
basin of Lake Tchad.
Soon afterward was seen the BagÃ©lÃ©, with its eighteen
villages clinging to its flanks like a whole brood of chil-
dren to their motherâ€™s bosomâ€”a magnificent spectacle for
THEY CROSS MOUNT MENDIF. 285
the beholder whose gaze commanded and took in the en-
tire picture at one view. Even the ravines were seen to
be covered with fields of rice and of arachides.
By three oâ€™clock the Victoria was directly in front of
Mount Mendif. It had been impossible to avoid it; the
only thing to be done was to cross it. The doctor, by
means of a temperature increased to one hundred and
eighty degrees, gave the balloon a fresh ascensional force
of nearly sixteen hundred pounds, and it went up to an
elevation of more than eight thousand feet, the greatest Â°
height attained during the journey. The temperature of
the atmosphere was so much cooler at that point that the
aÃ©ronauts had to resort to their blankets and thick cover-
Ferguson was in haste to descend ; the covering of the
balloon gave indications of bursting, but in the meanwhile
he had time to satisfy himself of the volcanic origin of the
mountain, whose extinct craters are now but deep abysses.
Immense accumulations of bird-guano gave the sides of
Mount Mendif the appearance of calcareous rocks, and there
was enough of the deposit there to manure all the lands in
the United Kingdom.
At five oâ€™clock the Victoria, sheltered from the south
winds, went gently gliding along the slopes of the moun-
tain, and stopped in a wide clearing remote from any habi-
tation. Theinstant it touched the soil, all needful precau-
tions were taken to hold it there firmly; and Kennedy,
fowling-piece in hand, sallied out upon the sloping plain.
Ere long, he returned with half a dozen wild ducks and a
kind of snipe, which Joe served up in his best style. The
meal was heartily relished, and the night was passed in
undisturbed and refreshing slumber.
Mosfeia.â€”The Sheik.â€”Denham, Clapperton, and Oudney.â€”Vogel.â€”The Capital
of Loggoum.â€”Toole.â€”Becalmed above Kernak.â€”The Governor and his Court,
â€”The Attack.â€”The Incendiary Pigeons.
On the next day, May 11th, the Victoria resumed her
adventurous journey. Her passengers had the same con-
fidence in her that a good seaman has in his ship.
In terrific hurricanes, in tropical heats, when making
dangerous departures, and descents still more dangerous,
it had, at all times and in all places, come out safely. It
might almost have been said that Ferguson managed it
with a wave of the hand; and hence, without knowing in
advance, where the point of arrival would be, the doctor
had no fears concerning the successful issue of his journey.
However, in this country of barbarians and fanatics, pru-
dence obliged him to take the strictest precautions. He
therefore counselled his companions to have their eyes
wide open for every thing and at all hours,
The wind drifted a little more to the northward, and,
toward nine oâ€™clock, they sighted the larger city of Mos-
feia, built upon an eminence which was itself enclosed be-
tween two lofty mountains. Its position was impregnable,
a narrow road running between a marsh and a thick wood
being the only channel of approach to it.
At the moment of which we write, a sheik, accompa-
nied by a mounted escort, and clad in a garb of brilliant
colors, preceded by couriers and trumpeters, who put aside
THE SHEIK. 237
the boughs of the trees as he rode up, was making his
grand entry into the place.
The doctor lowered the balloon in order to get a bet-
ter look at this cavalcade of natives; but, as the balloon
grew larger to their eyes, they began to show symptoms
of intense affright, and at length made off in different di-
rections as fast as their legs and those of their horses could
The sheik alone did not budge an inch. He merely
grasped his long musket, cocked it, and proudly waited in
silence. The doctor came on to within a hundred and
fifty feet of him, and then, with his roundest and fullest
voice, saluted him courteously in the Arabic tongue.
But, upon hearing these words falling, as it seemed,
from the sky, the sheik dismounted and prostrated him-
self in the dust of the highway, where the doctor had to
leave him, finding it impossible to divert him from his
â€œUnquestionably,â€ Ferguson remarked, â€œthose people
take us for supernatural beings. When Europeans came
among them for the first time, they were mistaken for
creatures of a higher race. When this sheik comes to
speak of to-dayâ€™s meeting, he will not fail to embellish the
circumstance with all the resources of an Arab imagina-
tion. You may, therefore, judge what an account their
legends will give of us some day.â€
â€œNot such a desirable thing, after all,â€ said the Scot,
â€œin the point of view that affects civilization; it would be
better to pass for mere men, That would give these negro
races a superior idea of European power.â€
â€œVery good, my dear Dick; but what can we do about
it? You might sit all day explaining the mechanism of
a balloon to the savants of this country, and yet they would
not comprehend you, but would persist in ascribing it to
238 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œDoctor, you spoke of the first time Europeans visited
these regions. Who were the visitors?â€ inquired Joe.
â€œMy dear fellow, we are now upon the very track of
Major Denham. It was at this very city of Mosfeia that
he was received by the Sultan of Mandara; he had quitted
the Bornou country; he accompanied the sheik in an ex-
pedition against the Fellatahs; he assisted in the attack
on the city, which, with its arrows alone, bravely resisted
the bullets of the Arabs, and put the sheikâ€™s troops to
flight. All this was but a pretext for murders, raids, and
pillage. The major was completely plundered and stripped,
and had it not been for his horse; under whose stomach he
clung with the skill of an Indian rider, and was borne with
a headlong gallop from his barbarous pursuers, he never
could have made his way back to Kouka, the capital of
â€œWho was this Major Denham?â€
â€œ A fearless Englishman, who, between 1822 and 1824,
commanded an expedition into the Bornou country, in
company with Captain Clapperton and Dr. Oudney. They
set out from Tripoli in the month of March, reached Mour-
zouk, the capital of Fez, and, following the route which at
a later period Dr. Barth was to pursue on his way back to
Europe, they arrived, on the 16th of February, 1823, at
Kouka, near Lake Tchad. Denham made several explora-
tions in Bornou, in Mandara, and to the eastern shores of
the lake. In the mean time, on the 15th of December,
1823, Captain Clapperton and Dr. Oudney had pushed
their way through the Soudan country as far as Sackatoo,
and Oudney died of fatigue and exhaustion in the town
â€œThis part of Africa has, therefore, paid a heavy trib-
ute of victims to the cause of science,â€ said Kennedy.
â€œYes, this country is fatal to travellers. We are movy-
ing directly toward the kingdom of Baghirmi, which Vogel
traversed in 1856, so as to reach the Wadai country, where
he disappeared. This young man, at the age of twenty-
three, had been sent to codperate with Dr. Barth. They
met on the Ist of December, 1854, and thereupon com-
menced his explorations of the country. Toward 1856, he
announced, in the last letters received from him, his in-
tention to reconnoitre the kingdom of Wadai, which no
European had yet penetrated. It appears that he got as
far as Wara, the capital, where, according to some ac-
counts, he was made prisoner, and, according to others,
was put to death for having attempted to ascend a sacred
mountain in the environs. But, we must not too lightly
admit the death of travellers, since that does away with
the necessity of going in search of them. For instance,
how often was the death of Dr. Barth reported, to his
own great annoyance! It is, therefore, very possible that
Vogel may still be held as a prisoner by the Sultan of
Wadai, in the hope of obtaining a good ransom for him.
â€œBaron de Neimans was about starting for the Wadai
country when he died at Cairo, in 1855; and we now know
that De Heuglin has set out on Vogelâ€™s track with the ex-
pedition sent from Leipsic, so that we shall soon be accu-
rately informed as to the fate of that young and interesting
Mosfeia had disappeared from the horizon long ere this,
and the Mandara country was developing to the gaze of
our aÃ©ronauts its astonishing fertility, with its forests of
acacias, its locust-trees covered with red flowers, and the
herbaceous plants of its fields of cotton and indigo trees,
The river Shari, which eighty miles farther on rolled its
impetuous waters into Lake Tchad, was quite distinctly
* Since the doctorâ€™s departure, letters written from Elâ€™Obeid by
Mr. Muntzinger, the newly-appointed head of the expedition, unfortu-
nately place the death of Vogel beyond a doubt.
240 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The doctor got his companions to trace its course upon
the maps drawn by Dr. Barth.
â€œYou perceive,â€ said he, â€œ that the labors of this savant
have been conducted with great precision; we are moving
directly toward the Loggoum region, and perhaps toward
Kernak, its capital. It was there that poor Toole died, at
the age of scarcely twenty-two. He was a young English-
man, an ensign in the 80th regiment, who, a few weeks
before, had joined Major Denham in Africa, and it was
not long ere he there met his death. Ah! this vast
country might well be called the graveyard of European
Some boats, fifty feet long, were descending the cur-
reut of the Shari. The Victoria, then one thousand feet
above the soil, hardly attracted the attention of the na-
tives; but the wind, which until then had been blowing
with a certain degree of strength, was falling off.
â€œTs it possible that we are to be caught in another dead
calm?â€ sighed the doctor.
â€œWell, weâ€™ve no lack of water, nor the desert to fear,
anyhow, master,â€ said Joe.
â€œNo; but there are races here still more to be dreaded.â€
â€œWhy!â€ said Joe, again, â€œthereâ€™s something like a
â€œThat is Kernak. The last puffs of the breeze are
wafting us to it, and, if we choose, we can take an exact _
plan of the place.â€
â€œShall we not go nearer to it?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œ Nothing easier, Dick! We are right over it. Allow
me to turn the evopeate of the cylinder, and weâ€™ll not be
long in descending.â€
Half an hour later the balloon hung motionless about
two hundred feet from the ground.
â€œHere we are!â€ said the doctor, â€œnearer to Kernak
than a man would be to London, if he were perched in the
THE CAPITAL OF LOGGOUM, 241
cupola of St. Paulâ€™s. So we can take a survey at our
â€œWhat is that tick-tacking sound that we hear on all
Joe looked attentively, and at length discovered that
the noise they heard was produced by a number of weavers
beating cloth stretched in the open air, on large trunks of
The capital of Loggoum could then be seen in its en-
tire extent, like an unrolled chart. It is really a city with
straight rows of houses and quite wide streets. In the
midst of alarge open space there was a slave-market,
attended by a great crowd of customers, for the Mandara
women, who have extremely small hands and feet, are in
excellent request, and can be sold at lucrative rates.
At the sight of the Victoria, the scene so often pro-
duced occurred again. At first there were outcries, and
then followed general stupefaction; business was aban-
doned; work was flung aside, and all noise ceased. The
aÃ©ronauts remained as they were, completely motionless,
and lost not a detail of the populous city. They even
went down to within sixty feet of the ground.
Hereupon the Governor of Loggoum came out from
his residence, displaying his green standard, and accom-
panied by his musicians, who blew on hoarse buffalo-horns,
as though they would split their cheeks or any thing else,
excepting their own lungs. The crowd at once gathered
around him. In the mean while Dr. Ferguson tried to
make himself heard, but in vain.
This population looked like proud and intelligent peo-
ple, with their high foreheads, their almost aquiline noses,
and their curling hair; but the presence of the Victoria
troubled them greatly. Horsemen could be seen gallop-
ing in all directions, and it soon became evident that the
governorâ€™s troops were assembling to oppose so extraor:-
QAP FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
dinary a foe. Joe wore himself out waving handkerchiefs
of every color and shape io them; but his exertions were
all to no purpose. -
However, the sheik, surrounded by his court, pro-
claimed silence, and pronounced a discourse, of which the
doctor could not understand a word. It was Arabic, mixed
with Baghirmi. He could make out enough, however, by
the universal language of gestures, to be aware that he
was receiving a very polite invitation to depart. Indced,
he would have asked for nothing better, but for lack of
wind, the thing had become impossible. His noncom-
pliance, therefore, exasperated the governor, whose cour-
tiers and attendants sct up a furious howl to enforce imme-
diate obedience on the part of the aÃ©rial monster.
They were odd-looking fellows those courtiers, with
their five or six shirts swathed around their bodies! They
had enormous stomachs, some of which actually seemed
to be artificial. The doctor surprised his companions by
informing them that this was the way to pay court to the
sultan. The-rotundity of the stomach indicated the am-
bition of its possessor. These corpulent gentry gesticu-
lated and bawled at the top of their voicesâ€”one of them
particularly distinguishing himself above the restâ€”to
such an extent, indeed, that he must have been a prime
ministerâ€”at least, if the disturbance he made was any
criterion of his rank. The common rabble of dusky deni-
zens united their howlings with the uproar of the court,
repeating their gesticulations like so many monkeys, and
thereby producing a single and instantaneous movement
of ten thousand arms at one time.
To these means of intimidation, which were presently
deemed insufficient, were added others still more formi-
dable. Soldiers, armed with bows and arrows, were drawn
up in line of battle; but by this time the balloon was ex-
panding, and rising quietly beyond their reach. Upon
EXTRAORDINARY PHENOMENA. 943
this the governor seized a musket and aimed it at the
balloon; but, Kennedy, who was watching him, shattered
the uplifted weapon in the sheikâ€™s grasp.
At this unexpected blow there was a general rout.
Every motherâ€™s son of them scampered for his dwelling
with the utmost celerity, and stayed there, so that the
streets of the town were absolutely deserted for the re-
mainder of that day.
Night came, and not a breath of wind was stirring.
The aÃ©ronauts had to make up their minds to remain
motionless at the distance of but three hundred feet
above the ground. Not a fire or light shone in the deep
gloom, and around reigned the silence of death; but the
doctor only redoubled his vigilance, as this apparent quiet
might conceal some snare.
And he had reason to be watchful. About midnight,
the whole city seemed to be in a blaze. Hundreds of
streaks of flame crossed each other, and shot to and fro
in the air like rockets, forming a regular network of fire.
â€œThatâ€™s really curious!â€ said the doctor, somewhat
puzzled to make out what it meant.
â€œ By all thatâ€™s glorious!â€ shouted Kennedy, â€œit looks
as if the fire were ascending and coming up toward us!â€
And, sure â€˜enough, with an accompaniment of musket-
shots, yelling, and din of every description, the mass of
fire was, indeed, mounting toward the Victoria. Joe got
ready to throw out ballast, and Ferguson was not long at
guessing the truth. Thousands of pigeons, their tails gar-
nished with combustibles, had been set loose and driven
toward the Victoria ; and now, in their terror, they were
flying high up, zigzagging the atmosphere with lines of
fire. Kennedy was preparing to discharge all his batteries
into the middle of the ascending multitude, but what
could he have done against such a numberless army?
The pigeons were already whisking around the car; they
244 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
were even surrounding the balloon, the sides of which,
reflecting their illumination, looked as though enveloped
with a network of fire.
The doctor dared hesitate no longer; and, throwing
out a fragment of quartz, he kept himself beyond the
reach of these dangerous assailants; and, for two hours
afterward, he could see them wandering hither and thither
through the darkness of the night, until, little by little,
their light diminished, and they, one by one, died out.
â€œâ€œNow we may sleep in quiet,â€ said the doctor.
â€œNot badly got up for barbarians,â€ mused friend Joe,
speaking his thoughts aloud,
â€œOh, they employ these pigeons frequently, to set fire
to the thatch of hostile villages; but this time the village
mounted higher than they could go.â€
â€œWhy, positively, a balloon need fear no enemies ! â€
â€œYes, indeed, it may!â€ objected Ferguson.
â€œWhat are they, then, doctor?â€
â€œThey are the careless people in the car! So, my
friends, let us have vigilance in all places and at all
Departure in the Night-time.â€”All Three.â€”Kennedyâ€™s Instincts.â€”Precautions,â€”
The Course of the Shari River.â€”Lake Tchad.â€”The Water of the Lake.â€”The
Hippopotamus.â€”One Bullet thrown away.
Aszourt three oâ€™clock in the morning, Joe, who was then
on watch, at length saw the city move away from beneath
his feet. The Victoria was once again in motion, and
both the doctor and Kennedy awoke.
The former consulted his compass, and saw, with satis-
faction, that the wind was carrying them toward the
â€œWe are in luck!â€ said he; â€œevery thing works in
our favor: we shall discover Lake Tchad this very day.â€
â€œTs it a broad sheet of water?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œ Somewhat, Dick. At its greatest length and breadth,
it measures about one hundred and twenty miles.â€
â€œTt will spice our trip with a little variety to sail
over a spacious sheet of water.â€
â€œ After all, though, I donâ€™t see that we have much to
complain of on that score. Our trip has been very much
varied, indeed; and, moreover, we are getting on under
the best possible conditions.â€
â€œUnquestionably so; excepting those privations on
the desert, we have encountered no serious danger.â€
â€œTt is not to be denied that our noble balloon has
behaved wonderfully well. To-day is May 12th, and we
started on the 18th of April. That makes twenty-five
246 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
days of journeying. In ten days more we shall have
reached our destination.â€
â€œ Where is that?â€
â€œT do not know. But what does that signify ?â€
â€œYou are right again, Samuel! Let us intrust to Prov-
idence the care of guiding us and of keeping us in good
health as we are now. We donâ€™t look much as though .
we had been crossing the most pestilential country in the
â€œ We had an opportunity of getting up in life, and thatâ€™s
what we have done !â€>
â€œ Wurrah for trips in the air!â€ cried Joe. â€œHere we
are at the end of twenty-five days in good condition, well
fed, and well rested. Weâ€™ve had too much rest in fact,
for my legs begin to feel rusty, and I wouldnâ€™t be vexed
a bit to stretch them with a run of thirty miles or so!â€
â€œYou can do that, Joe, in the streets of London, but
in fine we set out three together, like Denham, Clapperton,
and Overweg; like Barth, Richardson, and Vogel, and,
more fortunate than our predecessors here, we are three
in number still. But it is most important for us not to
separate. If, while one of us was on the ground, the
Victoria should have to ascend in order to escape some
sudden danger, who knows whether we should ever see
each other again? Therefore it is that I say again to
Kennedy frankly that I do not like his going off alone to
â€œ But still, Samuel, you will permit me to indulge that
fancy a little. There isno harm in renewing our stock of
provisions. Besides, before our departure, you held out
to me the prospect of some superb hunting, and thus far I
have done but little in the line of the Andersons and Cum-
â€œBut, my dear Dick, your memory fails you, or your
modesty makes you forget your own exploits. It really
KENNEDY'S DISAPPOINTMENT. 247
seems to me that, without mentioning small game, you
have already an antelope, an elephant, and two lions on
â€œ But whatâ€™s all that to an African sportsman who sees
all the animals in creation strutting along under the muz-
zle of his rifle? There! there! look at that troop of gi-
â€œ Those giraffes,â€ roared Joe; â€œwhy, theyâ€™re not as big
as my fist.â€
â€œ Because we are a thousand feet above them; but close
to them you would discover that they are three times as
tall as you are!â€
â€œ And what do you say to yon herd of gazelles, and
those ostriches, that run with the speed of the wind ?â€ re-
â€œ Those ostriches?â€ remonstrated Joe, again; â€œ those
are chickens, and the greatest kind of chickens!â€
â€œ Come, doctor, canâ€™t we get down nearer to them ?â€
â€œWe can get closer to them, Dick, but we must not
land. And what good will it do you to strike down those
poor animals when they can be of no use to you? Now,
if the question were to destroy a lion, a tiger, a cat, a
hyena, I could understand it; but to deprive an antelope
or a gazelle of life, to no other purpose than the gratifica-
tion of your instincts as a sportsman, seems hardly worth
the trouble. But, after all, my friend, we are going to
keep at about one hundred feet only from the soil, and,
should you see any ferocious wild beast, oblige us by send-
ing a ball through its heart!â€
The Victoria descended gradually, but still keeping at
a safe height, for, in a barbarous, yet very populous coun-
try, it was necessary to keep on the watch for unexpected
The travellers were then directly following the course
248 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
of the Shari. The charming banks of this river were
hidden beneath the foliage of trees of various dyes; lianas
and climbing plants wound in and out on all sides and
formed the most curious combinations of color. Crocodiles
were seen basking in the broad blaze of the sun or plung-
ing beneath the waters with the agility of lizards, and in
their gambols they sported about among the many green
islands that intercept the current of the stream.
It was thus, in the midst of rich and verdant land-
scapes that our travellers passed over the district of Maf-
fatay, and about nine oâ€™clock in the morning reached the
southern shore of Lake Tchad.
There it was at last, outstretched before them, that
Caspian Sea of Africa, the existence of which was so long
consigned to the realms of fableâ€”that interior expanse of
water to which only Denhamâ€™s and Barthâ€™s expeditions
had been able to force their way.
The doctor strove in vain to fix its precise configura-
tion upon paper. It had already changed greatly since
1847. In fact, the chart of Lake Tchad is very difficult to
trace with exactitude, for it is surrounded by muddy and
almost impassable morasses, in which Barth thought that
he was doomed to perish. From year to year these
marshes, covered with reeds and papyrus fifteen feet high,
become the lake itself. Frequently, too, the villages on
its shores are half submerged, as was the case with Ngor-
nou in 1856, and now the hippopotamus and the alligator
frisk and dive where the dwellings of Bornou once
stood. fi ; ;
The sun shot his dazzling rays over this placid sheet
of water, and toward the north the two elements merged
into one and the same horizon.
The doctor was desirous of determining the character
of the water, which was long believed to be salt. There
was no danger in descending close to the lake, and the car
ANALYZING THE WATER UF THE LAKE. 249
was soon skimming its surface like a bird at the distance
of only five feet.
Joe plunged a bottle into the lake and drew it up half
filled. The water was then tasted and found to be but
little fit for drinking, with a certain carbonate-of-soda
While the doctor was jotting down the result of this
experiment, the loud report of a gun was heard close be-
side him. Kennedy had not been able to resist the temp-
tation of firing at a huge hippopotamus. The latter, who
had been basking quietly, disappeared at the sound of the
explosion, but did not seem to be otherwise incommoded
by Kennedyâ€™s conical bullet.
â€œYou'd have done better if you had harpooned him,â€
â€œWith one of our anchors. It would have been a hook
just big enough for such a rousing beast as that!â€
â€œHumph!â€ ejaculated Kennedy, â€œJoe really has an
idea this timeâ€”â€
â€œWhich I beg of you not to put into execution,â€ inter-
posed the doctor. â€˜The animal would very quickly have
dragged us where we could not have done much to help.
ourselves, and where we have no business to be.â€
( â€œ Especially now since weâ€™ve settled the question as to
what kind of water there is in Lake Tchad. Is that sort
of fish good to eat, Dr. Ferguson ?â€
â€œThat fish, as you call it, Joe, is really a mammiferous
animal of the pachydermal species. Its flesh is said to be
excellent and is an article of important trade between the
tribes living along the borders of the lake.â€
â€œThen Pm sorry that Mr. Kennedyâ€™s shot didnâ€™t do
â€˜The animal is vulnerable only in the stomach and be-
tween the thighs. Dickâ€™s ball hasnâ€™t even marked him;
250 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
but should the ground strike me as favorable, we shall halt
at the northern end of the lake, where Kennedy will find
himself in the midst of a whole menagerie, and can make
up for lost time.â€
â€œWell,â€ said Joe, â€œI hope then that Mr. Kennedy
will hunt the pepeorone a little; Iâ€™d like to taste the
meat of that queer-looking beast. It doesnâ€™t look exactly
natural to get away into the centre of Africa, to feed on
snipe and partridge, just as if we were in England.â€
The Capital of Bornou.â€”The Islands of the Biddiomahs.â€”The Condors.â€”The
Doctorâ€™s Anxieties.â€”His Precautions.â€”An Attack in Mid-air.â€”The Ballocn
Covering torn.â€”The Fall.â€”Sublime Self-Sacrifice.â€”The Northern Coast of
Since its arrival at Lake Tchad, the balloon had struck
a current that edged it farther to the westward. A few
cloud stempered the heat of the day, and, besides, a little
air could be felt over this vast expanse of water; but about
one oâ€™clock, the Victoria, having slanted across this part
of the lake, again advanced over the land for a space of
seven or eight miles.
The doctor, who was somewhat vexed at first at this
turn of his course, no longer thought of complaining when
he caught sight of the city of Kouka, the capital of Bor-
nou. He saw it fora moment, encircled by its walls of
white clay, and a few rudely-constructed mosques rising
clumsily above that conglomeration of houses that look
like playing-dice, which form most Arab towns. In the
court-yards of the private dwellings, and on the public
squares, grew palms and caoutchouc-trees topped with a
dome of foliage more than one hundred feet in breadth.
Joe called attention to the fact that these immense para-
sols were in proper accordance with the intense heat of
the sun, and made thereon some pious reflections which it
were needless to repeat.
Kouka really consists of two distinct towns, sepa-
rated by the â€œ Dendal,â€ a large boulevard three hundred
252 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
yards wide, at that hour crowded with horsemen and foot
passengers. On one side, the rich quarter stands squarely
with its airy and lofty houses, laid out in regular order;
on the other, is huddled together the poor quarter, a mis-
erable collection of low hovels of a conical shape, in which
a poverty-stricken multitude vegetate rather than live,
since Kouka is neither a trading nor a commercial city.
Kennedy thought it looked something like Edinburgh,
were that city extended on a plain, with its two distinct
But our travellers had scarcely the time to catch even
this glimpse of it, for, with the fickleness that character-
izes the air-currents of this region, a contrary wind sud-
denly swept them some forty miles over the surface of
They then were regaled with a new spectacle. They
could count the numerous islets of the lake, inhabited by
the Biddiomahs, a race of bloodthirsty and formidable
pirates, who are as greatly feared when neighbors as are
the Touregs of Sahara.
These estimable people were in readiness to receive the
Victoria bravely with stones and arrows, but the balloon
quickly passed their islands, fluttering over them, from one
to the other with butterfly motion, like a gigantic beetle.
At this moment, Joe, who was scanning the horizon,
said to Kennedy:
â€œThere, sir, as you are always thinking of good sport,
yonder is just the thing for you!â€
â€œWhat is it, Joe?â€
â€œThis time, the doctor will not disapprove of your
â€œBut what is it?â€
â€œDonâ€™t you see that flock of big birds making for us?â€
â€œBirds?â€ exclaimed the doctor, snatching his spy-
A FLOCK CF CONDORS. 253
â€œTI see them,â€ replied Kennedy; â€œthere are at least a
dozen of them.â€
â€œFourteen, exactly!â€ said Joe.
â€œHeaven grant that they may be of a kind sufficiently
noxious for the doctor to let me peg away at them!â€
â€œT should not object, but I would much rather see
those birds at a distance from us!â€ ;
â€œWhy, are you afraid of those fowls?â€
â€œThey are condors, and of the largest size. Should
they attack usâ€”â€
â€œWell, if they do, weâ€™ll defend ourselves. We havea
whole arsenal at our disposal. I donâ€™t think those birds
are so very formidable.â€
â€œWho can tell?â€ was the doctorâ€™s only remark.
Ten minutes later, the flock had come within gunshot,
and were making the air ring with their hoarse cries, They
came right toward the Victoria, more irritated than fright-
ened by her presence.
â€œHow they scream! What a noise!â€ said Joe.
â€œPerhaps they donâ€™t like to see anybody poaching in
their country up in the air, or daring to fly like them-
â€œWell, now, to tell the truth, when I take a good look
at them, they are an ugly, ferocious set, and I should think
them dangerous enough if they were armed with Purdy-
Moore rifles,â€ admitted Kennedy.
â€œThey have no need of such weapons,â€ said Ferguson,
looking very grave.
The condors flew around them in wide circles, their
flight growing gradually closer and closer to the balloon.
They swept through the air in rapid, fantastic curves,
_oceasionally precipitating themselves headlong with the
speed of a bullet, and then breaking their line of projection
by an abrupt and daring angle.
The doctor, much disquieted, resolved to ascend so as
254 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
to escape this dangerous proximity. He therefore dilated
the hydrogen in his balloon, and it rapidly rose.
But the condors mounted with him, apparently deter-
mined not to part company.
â€œThey seem to mean mischief!â€ said the hunter, cock-
ing his rifle.
And, in fact, they were swooping nearer, and more than
one came within fifty feet of them, as if defying the fire-
â€œBy George, Pm itching to let them have it!â€ ex-
â€œNo, Dick; not now! Donâ€™t exasperate them need-
lessly. That would only be exciting them to attack us!â€
â€œBut I could soon settle those fellows!â€
â€œYou may think so, Dick. But you are wrong!â€
â€œWhy, we have a bullet for each of them!â€
â€œ And suppose that they were to attack the upper part
of the balloon, what would you do? How would you get
at them? Just imagine yourself in the presence of a troop
of lions on the plain, or a school of sharks in the open
ocean! For travellers in the air, this situation is just as
â€œ Are you speaking seriously, doctor?â€
â€œVery seriously, Dick.â€
â€œLet us wait, then!â€
â€œWait! Hold yourself in readiness in case of an attack,
but do not fire without my orders.â€
The birds then collected at a short distance, yet so
near that their naked necks, entirely bare of feathers, could
be plainly seen, as they stretched them out with the effort
of their cries, while their gristly crests, garnished with a
comb and gills of deep violet, stood erect with rage. They
were of the very largest size, their bodies being more than
three feet in length, and the lower surface of their white
wings glittering in the sunlight. They might well have
THE CONDORS ATTACK THE BALLOON. 255
been considered winged sharks, so striking was their re-
semblance to those ferocious rangers of the deep.
â€œThey are following us!â€ said the doctor, as he saw
them ascending with him, â€œ and, mount as we may, they
can fly still higher !â€
â€œWell, what are we to do?â€ asked Kennedy.
The doctor made no answer.
â€œListen, Samuel!â€ said the sportsman. â€œThere are
fourteen of those birds; we have seventeen shots at our
disposal if we discharge all our weapons. Have we not
the means, then, to destroy them or disperse them? I
will give a good account of some of them!â€
â€œTJ have no doubt of your skill, Dick; I look upon all
as dead that may come within range of your rifle, but I
repeat that, if they attack the upper part of the balloon,
you could not get a sight at them. They would tear the
silk covering that sustains us, and we are three thousand
feet up in the air!â€
At this moment, one of the ferocious birds darted right
at the balloon, with outstretched beak and claws, ready to
rend it with either or both.
â€œFire! fire at once!â€ cried the doctor.
He had scarcely ceased, ere the huge creature, stricken
dead, dropped headlong, turning over and over in space as
Kennedy had already grasped one of the two-barrelled
fowling-pieces and Joe was taking aim with another.
Frightened by the report, the condors drew back for a
moment, but they almost instantly returned to the charge
with extreme fury. Kennedy severed the head of one
from its body with his first shot, and Joe broke the wing
â€œ Only eleven left,â€ said he.
Thereupon the birds changed their tactics, and by
common consent soared above the balloon. Kennedy
256 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
glanced at Ferguson. The latter, inspite of his impertur-
bability, grew pale. Then ensued a moment of terrifying
silence. In the next they heard a harsh tearing noise, as
of something rending the silk, and the car seemed to sink
from beneath the feet of our three aÃ©ronauts.
â€œWe are lost !â€ exclaimed Ferguson, glancing at the
barometer, which was now swiftly rising.
â€œ Over with the ballast!â€ he shouted, â€œover with it!â€
And in a few seconds the last lumps of quartz had dis-
â€œWe are still falling! Empty the water-tanks! Do
you hear me, Joe? We are pitching into the lake!â€
Joe obeyed. The doctor leaned over and looked out.
The lake seemed to come up toward him like a rising tide.
Every object around grew rapidly in size while they were
looking at it. The car was not two hundred feet from the
surface of Lake Tchad.
â€œThe provisions! the provisions!â€ cried the doctor.
And the box containing them was launched into
Their descent became less rapid, but the luckless
aÃ©ronauts were still falling, and into the lake.
â€œThrow out somethingâ€”something more!â€ cried the
â€œThere is nothing more to throw!â€ was Kennedyâ€™s
â€œYes, there is!â€ called Joe, and with a wave of the
hand he disappeared like a flash, over the edge of the car.
â€œJoe! Joe!â€ exclaimed the doctor, horror-stricken.
The Victoria thus relieved resumed her ascending mo-
tion, mounted a thousand feet into the air, and the wind,
burying itself in the disinflated covering, bore them away
toward the northern part of the lake.
â€œLost!â€ exclaimed the sportsman, with a gesture of
JOEâ€™S SELF-SACRIFICE. 257
â€œLost to save us!â€ responded Ferguson.
And these men, intrepid as they were, felt the large
tears streaming down their cheeks. They leaned over
with the vain hope of seeing some trace of their heroic
companion, but they were already far away from him.
â€œWhat course shall we pursue?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œ Alight as soon as possible, Dick, and then wait.â€
After a sweep of some sixty miles the Victoria halted
on a desert shore, on the north of the lake. The anchors
caught in a low tree and the sportsman fastened it secure-
ly. Night came, but neither Ferguson nor Kennedy could
find one momentâ€™s sleep.
Conjectures.â€”ReÃ©stablishment of the Victoriaâ€™s Equilibrium.â€”Dr. Ferguson's
New Casiculations.â€”Kennedyâ€™s Hunt.â€”A Complete Exploration of Lake
Own the morrow, the 13th of May, our travellers, for
the first time, reconnoitred the part of the coast on which
they had landed. It was a sort of island of solid ground
in the midst of an immense marsh. Around this fragment
of terra firma grew reeds as lofty as trees are in Europe,
and stretching away out of sight.
These impenetrable swamps gave security to the posi-
tion of the balloon. It was necessary to watch only the
borders of the lake. The vast stretch of water broadened
away from the spot, especially toward the east, and noth-
ing could be seen on the horizon, neither mainland nor
The two friends had not yet ventured to speak of their
recent companion. Kennedy first imparted his conjectures
to the doctor.
â€œ Perhaps Joe is not lost after all,â€ he said. â€œHe was
a skilful lad; and had few equals as aswimmer. He would
find no difficulty in swimming across the Frith of Forth at
Edinburgh. We shall see him againâ€”but how and where
Iknow not. Let us omit nothing on our part to give him
the chance of rejoining us.â€
â€œMay God grant it as you say, Dick!â€ replied the
doctor, with much emotion. â€œWe shall do every thing in
the world to find our lost friend again. Let us, in the first
REPAIRING DAMAGES. 259
place, see where we are. But, above all things, let us rid
the Victoria of this outside covering, whichis of no further
use. That will relieve us of six hundred and fifty pounds,
a weight not to be despisedâ€”and the end is worth the
The doctor and Kennedy went to work at once, but
they encountered great difficulty. They had to tear the
strong silk away piece by piece, and then cut it in narrow
strips so as to extricate it from the meshes of the network.
The tear made by the beaks of the.condors was found to
be several feet in length.
This operation took at least four hours, but at length
the inner balloon once completely extricated did not appear
to have suffered in the least degree. The Victoria was
thus diminished in size by one fifth, and this difference
was sufficiently noticeable to excite Kennedyâ€™s surprise.
â€œWill it be large enough?â€ he asked.
â€œHave no fears on that score, I will reÃ©stablish the
equilibrium, and should our poor Joe return we shall find
a way to start off with him again on our old route.â€
â€œ At the moment of our fall, unless I am mistaken, we
were not far from an island.â€
â€œYes, I recollect it,â€ said the doctor, â€œbut that island,
like all the islands on Lake Tchad, is, no doubt, inhabited
by a gang of pirates and murderers. They certainly wit-
nessed our misfortune, and should Joe fall into their
hands, what will become of him unless protected by their
â€œOh, heâ€™s just the lad to get safely out of the scrape,
I repeat. I have great confidence in his shrewdness and
â€œT hope so. Now, Dick, you may go and hunt in the
neighborhood, but donâ€™t get far away whatever you do.
It has become a pressing necessity for us to renew our
stock of provisions, since we had to sacrifice nearly all the
260 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œVery good, doctor, I shall not be long absent.â€
Hereupon, Kennedy took a double-barrelled fowling-
piece, and strode through the long grass toward a thicket
not far off, where the frequent sound of shooting soon let
the doctor know that the sportsman was making a good
use of his time.
Meanwhile Ferguson was engaged in calculating the
relative weight of the articles still left in the car, and in
establishing the equipoise of the second balloon. He found
that there were still left some thirty pounds of pemmican,
a supply of tea and coffee, about.a gallon and a half of
brandy, and one empty water-tank. All the dried meat
The doctor was aware that, by the loss of the hydrogen
in the first balloon, the ascensional force at his disposal
was now reduced to about nine hundred pounds. He
therefore had to count upon this difference in order to re-
arrange his equilibrium. The new balloon measured sixty-
seven thousand cubic feet, and contained thirty-three
thousand four hundred and eighty feet of gas. The dilat-
ing apparatus appeared to be in good condition, and nei-
ther the battery nor the spiral had been injured.
The ascensional force of the new balloon was then
about three thousand pounds, and, in adding together the
weight of the apparatus, of the passengers, of the stock of
water, of the car and its accessories, and putting aboard
fifty gallons of water, and one hundred pounds of fresh
meat, the doctor got a total weight of twenty-eight hun-
dred and thirty pounds. He could then take with him one
hundred and seventy pounds of ballast, for unforeseen
emergencies, and the balloon would be in exact balance
with the surrounding atmosphere.
His arrangements were completed accordingly, and he
made up for Joeâ€™s weight with a surplus of ballast. He
spent the whole day in these preparations, and the latter
SEARCH FOR JOE. 261
were finished when Kennedy returned. The hunter had
been successful, and brought back a regular cargo of geese,
wild-duck, snipe, teal, and plover. He went to work at
once to draw and smoke the game. Each piece, suspend-
ed on a small, thin skewer, was hung over a fire of green
wood, When they seemed in good order, Kennedy, who
was perfectly at home in the business, packed them away
in the car.
On the morrow, the hunter was to complete his sup-
Evening surprised our travellers in the midst of this
work. Their supper consisted of pemmican, biscuit, and
tea and fatigue, after having given them appetite, brought
thizu sleep. Each of them strained eyes and cars into the
gl +m during his watch, sometimes fancying that they
heard the voice of poor Joe; but, alas! the. voice that
tL.y so longed to hear, was far away.
At the first streak of day, the doctor aroused Kennedy.
â€œT have been long and carefully considering what
should be done,â€ said he, â€˜to find our companion.â€
â€œWhatever your plan may be, doctor, it will suit me.
â€œ Above all things, it is important that Joe should hear
from us in some way.â€ :
â€œUndoubtedly. Suppose the brave fellow should take
it into his head that we have abandoned him?â€
â€œHe! He knows us too well for that. Such a thought
would never come into his mind. But he must be in-
formed as to where we are.â€
â€œ How can that be managed?â€
â€œ We shall get into our car and be off again through
â€œBut, should the wind bear us away?â€
â€œHappily, it will not. See, Dick! it is carrying us
back to the lake; and this circumstance, which would
262 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
have been vexatious yesterday, is fortunate now. Our
efforts, then, will be limited to keeping ourselves above
that vast sheet of water throughout the day. Joe cannot
fail to see us, and his eyes will be constantly on the look-
out in that direction. Perhaps he will even manage to
let us know the place of his retreat.â€
â€œTf he be alone and at liberty, he certainly will.â€
â€œ And if a prisoner,â€ resumed the doctor, â€œit not being
the practice of the natives to confine their captives, he will
see us, and comprehend the object of our researches.â€
â€œ But, at last,â€ put in Kennedyâ€”* for we must antici-
pate every thingâ€”should we find no traceâ€”if he should
have left no mark to follow him by, what are we to do?â€
â€œWe shall endeavor to regain the northern part of
the lake, keeping ourselves as much in sight as possible.
There we'll wait; we'll explore the banks; we'll search
the waterâ€™s edge, for Joe will assuredly try to reach the
shore; and we will not leave the country without having
done every thing to find him.â€
â€œLet us set out, then!â€ said the hunter.
The doctor hereupon took the exact bearings of the
patch of solid land they were about to leave, and arrived
at the conclusion that it lay on the north shore of Lake
Tchad, between the village of Lari and the village of
Ingemini, both visited by Major Denham. During this
time Kennedy was completing his stock of fresh meat.
Although the neighboring marshes showed traces of the
rhinoceros, the lamantine (or manatee), and the hippopot-
amus, he had-no opportunity to see a single specimen of
At seven in the morning, but not without great diffi-
cultyâ€”which to Joe would have been nothingâ€”the bal-
loonâ€™s anchor was detached from its hold, the gas dilated,
and the new Victoria rose two hundred feet into the air.
It seemed to hesitate at first, and went. spinning around,
NO SIGN OF HIM TO BE SEEN. 263
like a top; but at last a brisk current caught it, and it
advanced over the lake, and was soon borne away at a
speed of twenty miles per hour.
The doctor continued to keep at a height of from two
hundred to five hundred feet. Kennedy frequently dis-
charged his rifle; and, when passing over islands, the
aÃ©ronauts approached them even imprudently, scrutinizing
the thickets, the bushes, the underbrushâ€”in fine, every spot
where a mass of shade or jutting rock could have afforded
a retreat to their companion. They swooped down close
to the long pirogues that navigated the lake; and the-
wild fishermen, terrified at the sight of the balloon, would
plunge into the water and regain their islands with every
symptom of undisguised affright.
â€œWe can see nothing,â€ said Kennedy, after two hours
â€œLet us wait a little longer, Dick, and not lose heart.
We cannot be far away from the scene of our accident.â€
By eleven oâ€™clock the balloon had gone ninety miles.
It then fell in with a new current, which, blowing almost
at right angles to the other, drove them eastward about
sixty miles. It next floated over a very large and popu-
lous island, which the doctor took to be Farram, on which
the capital of the Biddiomahs is situated. Ferguson ex-
pected at every moment to see Joe spring up out of some
thicket, flying for his life, and calling for help. Were he
free, they could pick him up without trouble; were he a
prisoner, they could rescue him by repeating the manceuvre
they had practised to save the missionary, and he would
soon be with his friends again; but nothing was seen, not
a sound was heard. The case seemed desperate.
About half-past two oâ€™clock, the Victoria hove in sight
of Tangalia, a village situated on the eastern shore of
Lake Tchad, where it marks the extreme point attained
by Denham at the period of his exploration.
264 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The doctor became uneasy at this persistent setting
of the wind in that direction, for he felt that he was being
thrown back to the eastward, toward the centre of Africa,
and the interminable deserts of that region.
â€œWe must absolutely come to a halt,â€ said he, â€œand
even alight. For Joeâ€™s sake, particularly, we ought to
go back to the lake; but, to begin with, let us endeavor
to find an opposite current.â€
During more than an hour he searched at different
altitudes: the balloon always came back toward the main-
land. But at length, at the height of a thousand feet, a
very violent breeze swept to the northwestward.
It was out of the question that Joe should have been
detained on one of the islands of the lake; for, in such case,
he would certainly have found means to make his presence
there known. Perhaps he had been dragged to the main-
land. The doctor was reasoning thus to himself, when he
again came in sight of the northern shore of Lake Tehad.
As for supposing that Joe had been drowned, that was
not to be believed fora moment. One horrible thought
glanced across the minds of both Kennedy and the doc-
tor: caymans swarm in these waters! But neither one
nor the other had the courage to distinctly communicate
this impression. However, it came up to them so forcibly
at last that the doctor said, without further preface:
â€œCrocodiles are found only on the shores of the isl-
ands or of the lake, and Joe will have skill enough to avoid
them. Besides, they are not very dangerous; and the
Africans bathe with impunity, and quite fearless of their
Kennedy made no reply. He preferred keeping quiet
to discussing this terrible possibility.
The doctor made out the town of Lari about five
oâ€™clock in the evening. The inhabitants were at work
gathering in their cotton-crop in front of their huts, con-
structed of woven reeds, and standing in the midst of clean
and neatly-kept enclosures. This collection of about fifty
habitations occupied a slight depression of the soil, in a
valley extending between two low mountains. The force
of the wind carried the doctor farther onward than he
wanted to go; but it changed a second time, and bore
him back exactly to his starting-point, on the sort of en-
closed island where he had passed the preceding night.
The anchor, instead of catching the branches of the tree,
took hold in the masses of reeds mixed with the thick mud
of the marshes, which offered considerable resistance.
The doctor had much difficulty in restraining the bal-
loon; but at length the wind died away with the setting
in of nightfall; and the two friends kept watch together
in an almost desperate state of mind.
The Hurricane.â€”A Forced Departure.â€”Loss of an Anchor.â€”Melancholy Reflec-
tions.â€”The Resolution adopted.â€”The Sand-Storm.â€”The Buried Caravan.â€”
A Contrary yet Favorable Wind.â€”The Return southward.â€”Kennedy at his
Ar three oâ€™clock in the morning the wind was raging.
It beat down with such violence that the Victoria could
not stay near the ground without danger. It was thrown
almost flat over upon its side, and the reeds chafed the
silk so roughly that it seemed as though they would tear it.
â€œWe must be off, Dick,â€ said the doctor; â€œwe cannot
remain in this situation.â€
â€œBut, doctor, what of Joe?â€
â€œT am not likely to abandon him. Wo, indeed! and
should the hurricane carry me a thousand miles to the
northward, I will return! But here we are endangering
the safety of all.â€
â€œMust we go without him?â€ asked the Scot, with an
accent of profound grief.
â€œ And do you think, then,â€ rejoined eaten: â€œ that
my heart does not bleed like yourown? Am I not merely
obeying an imperious necessity ?â€
â€œT am entirely at your orders,â€ replied the hunter;
â€œlet us start !â€
But their departure was surrounded with unusual diffi-
culty. The anchor, which had caught very deeply, re-
sisted all their efforts to disengage it; while the balloon,
drawing in the opposite direction, increased its tension.
MELANCHOLY REFLECTIONS. 267
Kennedy could not get it free. Besides, in his present
position, the mancuvre had become a very perilous one,
for the Victoria threatened to break away before he should
be able to get into the car again.
The doctor, unwilling to run such a risk, made his
friend get into his place, and resigned himself to the alter-
native of cutting the anchor-rope. The Victoria made
one bound of three hundred feet into the air, and took her
route directly northward.
Ferguson had no other choice than to scud before the
storm. He folded his arms, and soon became absorbed in
his own melancholy reflections.
After a few moments of profound silence, he turned to
Kennedy, who sat there no less taciturn.
â€œWe have, perhaps, been tempting Providence,â€ said
-he; â€œit does not belong to man to undertake such a jour-
ney !â€â€”and a sigh of grief escaped him as he spoke.
â€œIt is but a few days,â€ replied the sportsman, â€œsince
we were congratulating ourselves upon having escaped so
many dangers! All three of us were shaking hands!â€
â€œPoor Joe! kindly and excellent disposition! brave
and candid heart! Dazzled for a moment by his sudden
discovery of wealth, he willingly sacrificed his treasures !
And now, he is far from us; and the wind is carrying us
still farther away with resistless speed!â€
â€œCome, doctor, admitting that he may have found
refuge among the lake tribes, can he not do as the travel-
lers who visited them before us, did;â€”like Denham, like
Barth? Both of those men got back to their own country.â€
â€œAh! my dear Dick! Joe doesnâ€™t know one word of
the language; he is alone, and without resources. The
travellers of whom you speak did not attempt to go for-
ward without sending many presents in advance of them
to the chiefs, and surrounded by an escort armed and
trained for these expeditions. Yet, they could not avoid
268 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
sufferings of the worst description! What, then, car jou
expect the fate of our companion to be? It is horrible to
think of, and this is one of the worst calamities that it has
ever been my lot to endure!â€
â€œ But, we'll come back again, doctor!â€
â€œCome back, Dick? Yes, if we have to abandon the
balloon! if we should be forced to return to Lake Tchad
on foot, and put ourselves in communication with the
Sultan of Bornou! The Arabs cannot have retained a dis-
agreeable remembrance of the first Europeans.â€
â€œJ will follow you, doctor,â€ replied the hunter, with
emphasis. â€œYou may count upon me! We would rather
give up the idea of prosecuting this journey than not re-
turn. Joe forgot himself for our sake; we will sacrifice
ourselves for his!â€
This resolve revived some hope in the hearts of these
two men; they felt strong in the same inspiration. Fer-
guson forthwith set every thing at work to get into a con-
trary current, that might bring him back again to Lake
Tchad; but this was impracticable at that moment, and
even to alight was out of the question on ground com-
pletely bare of trees, and with such a hurricane blow-
The Victoria thus passed over the country of the Tib-
bous, crossed the Belad el Djerid, a desert of briers that
forms the border of the Soudan, and advanced into the
desert of sand streaked with the long tracks of the many
caravans that pass and repass there. The last line of vege-
tation was speedily lost in the dim southern horizon, not far
from the principal oasis in this part of Africa, whose fifty
wells are shaded by magnificent trees; but it was impos-
sible to stop. An Arab encampment, tents of striped
stuff, some camels, stretching out their viper-like heads
and necks along the sand, gave life to this solitude, but
the Victoria sped by like a shooting-star, and in this way
THE SIMOOM. 269
traversed a distance of sixty miles in three hours, without
Ferguson being able to check or guide her course.
â€œWe cannot halt, we cannot alight!â€ said the doc-
tor; â€œnot a tree, not an inequality of the ground! Are
we then to be driven clear across Sahara? Surely, Heaven
is indeed against us!â€
He was uttering these words with a sort of despairing
rage, when suddenly he saw the desert sands rising aloft
in the midst of a dense cloud of dust, and go whirling
through the air, impelled by opposing currents.
Amid this tornado, an entire caravan, disorganized,
broken, and overthrown, was disappearing beneath an
avalanche of sand. The camels, flung pell-mell together,
were uttering dull and pitiful groans; cries and howls of
despair were heard issuing from that dusty and stifling
cloud, and, from time to time, a parti-colored garment cut
the chaos of the scene with its vivid hues, and the moaning
and shrieking sounded over all, a terrible accompaniment
to this spe:tacle of destruction.
Ere long the sand had accumulated in compact masses ;
and there, where so recently stretched a level plain as far
as the eye could see, rose now a ridgy line of hillocks,
still moving from beneathâ€”the vast tomb of an entire
The doctor and Kennedy, pallid with emotion, sat
transfixed by this fearful spectacle. They could no longer
manage their balloon, which went whirling round and
round in contending currents, and refused to obey the
different dilations of the gas. Caught in these eddies of
the atmosphere, it spun about with a rapidity that made
their heads reel, while the car oscillated and swung to and
fro violently at. the same time. The instruments suspended
under the awning clattered together as though they would
be dashed to pieces; the pipes of the spiral bent to and fro,
threatening to break at every instant; and the water-tanks
270 #IVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
jostled and jarred with tremendous din. Although but
two feet apart, our aÃ©ronauts could not hear each other
speak, but with firmly-clinched hands they clung convul-
sively to the cordage, and endeavored to steady themselves
against the fury of the tempest.
Kennedy, with his hair blown wildly about his face,
looked on without speaking; but the doctor had regained
ali his daring in the midst of this deadly peril, and not a
sign of his emotion was betrayed in his countenance, even
when, after a last violent twirl, the Victoria stopped sud-
denly in the midst of a most unlooked-for calm; the north
wind had abruptly got the upper hand, and now drove her
back with equal rapidity over the route she had traversed
in the morning.
â€œWhither are we going now?â€ cried Kennedy.
â€œTet us leave that to Providence, my dear Dick; I
was wrong in doubting it. It knows better than we, and
here we are, returning to places that we had expected
never to see again!â€
The surface of the country, which had looked so flat
and level when they were coming, now seemed tossed and
uneven, like the ocean-billows after a storm; a long suc-
cession of hillocks, that had scarcely settled to their places
yet, indented the desert ; the wind blew furiously, and the
balloon fairly flew through the atmosphere.
The direction taken by our aÃ©ronauts differed some-
what from that of the morning, and thus about nine oâ€™clock,
instead of finding themselves again near the borders of
Lake Tchad, they saw the desert still stretching away be-
Kennedy remarked the circumstance.
â€œTt matters little,â€ replied the doctor, â€œthe important
point is to return southward; we shall come across the
towns of Bornou, Wouddie, or Kouka, and I should not
hesitate to halt there.â€
ON THE LOOKOUT. 271
â€œTf you are satisfied, I am content,â€ replied the Scot,
â€œbut Heaven grant that we may not be reduced to cross
the desert, as those unfortunate Arabs had to do! What
we saw was frightful!â€
â€œTt often happens, Dick; these trips across the desert
are far more perilous than those across the ocean. The
desert has all the dangers of the sea, including the risk of
being swallowed up, and added thereto are unendurable
fatigues and privations.â€
â€œJT think the wind shows some symptoms of moderat-
ing; the sand-dust is less dense; the undulations of the
surface are diminishing, and the sky is growing clearer.â€
â€œSo much the better! We must now reconnoitre at-
tentively with our glasses, and take care not to omit a
â€œT will look out for that, doctor, and not a tree shall
be seen without my informing you of it.â€
And, suiting the action to the word, Kennedy took his
station, spy-glass in hand, at the forward part of the car.
What happened to Joe.â€”The Island of the Biddiomahs.â€”The Adoration shown
him.â€”The Island that sank.â€”The Shores of the Lake.â€”The Tree of the Ser-
pents.â€”The Foot-Tramp.â€”Terrible Suffering.â€”Mosquitoes and Ants.â€”
Hunger.â€”The Victoria seen.â€”She disappears.â€”The Swamp.â€”One Last
Wuat had become of Joe, while his master was thus
vainly seeking for him ?
â€˜When he had dashed headlong into the lake, his first
movement on coming to the surface was to raise his eyes
and look upward. He saw the Victoria already risen far
above the water, still rapidly ascending and growing
smaller and smaller. It was soon caught in a rapid cur-
rent and disappeared to the northward. His masterâ€”both
his friends were saved !
â€œ How lucky it was,â€ thought he, â€œthat I had that
idea to throw myself out into the lake! Mr. Kennedy
would soon have jumped at it, and he would not have
hesitated to do as I did, for nothingâ€™s more natural than
for one man to give himself uP to save two others, Thatâ€™s
mathematics !â€ *
Satisfied on this point, Joe began to think of himself.
He was in the middle of a vast lake, surrounded by tribes
unknown to him, and probably ferocious. All the greater
reason why he should get out of the scrape by depending
only on himself. And so he gave himself no farther con-
cern about it. \
Before the attack by the birds of prey, which, accord-
JOE MEETS A CROCODILE. 273
ing to him, had behaved like real condors, he had noticed
an island on the horizon, and determining to reach it, if
possible, he put forth all his knowledge and skill in the art
of swimming, after having relieved himself of the most
troublesome part of his clothing. The idea of a stretch
of five or six miles by no means disconcerted him; and
therefore, so long as he was in the open lake, he thought
only of striking out straight ahead and manfully.
In about an hour and a half the distance between him
and the island had greatly diminished.
But as he approached the land, a thought, at first fleet-
ing and then tenacious, arose in his mind. He knew that
the shores of the lake were frequented by huge alligators,
and was well aware of the voracity of those monsters.
Now, no matter how much he was inclined to find
every thing in this world quite natural, the worthy fellow
was no little disturbed by this reflection. He feared great-
ly lest white flesh like his might be particularly acceptable
to the dreaded brutes, and advanced only with extreme
precaution, his eyes on the alert on both sides and all
around him. At length, heâ€˜was not more than one hun-
dred yards from a bank, covered with green trees, when
a puff of air strongly impregnated with a musky odor
â€œThere!â€ said he to himself, â€œjust what I cape
The crocodile isnâ€™t far off!â€
With this he dived swiftly, but not sufficiently so to
avoid coming into contact with an enormous body, the
scaly surface of which scratched him as he passed. He
thought himself lost and swam with desperate energy.
Then he rose again to the top of the water, took breath
and dived once more. Thus passed a few minutes of un-
speakable anguish, which all his philosophy could not over-
come, for he thought, all the while, that he heard behind
him the sound of those huge jaws ready to snap him up
OTA FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
forever. In this state of mind he was striking out under
the water as noiselessly as possible when he felt himself
seized by the arm and then by the waist.
Poor Joe! he gave one last thought to his master; and
began to struggle with all the energy of despair, feeling
himself the while drawn along, but not toward the bottom
of the lake, as is the habit of the crocodile when about to
devour its prey, but toward the surface.
So soon as he could get breath and look around him,
he saw that he was between two natives as black as ebony,
who held him, with a firm gripe, and uttered strange
â€œHa!â€ said Joe, â€œblacks instead of crocodiles! Well,
I prefer it as it is; but how in the mischief dare these fel-
lows go in bathing in such places ?â€
Joe was not aware that the inhabitants of the islands
of Lake Tchad, like many other negro tribes, plunge with
impunity into sheets of water infested with crocodiles and
caymans, and without troubling their heads about them.
The amphibious denizens of this lake enjoy the well-de-
served reputation of being quite inoffensive.
But had not Joe escaped one peril only to fall into
another? That was a question which he left events to
decide; and, since he could not do otherwise, he allowed
himself to be conducted to the shore without manifesting
â€œ Kvidently,â€ thought he, â€œthese chaps saw the Victo-
ria skimming the waters of the lake, like a monster of the
air. They were the distant witnesses of my tumble, and
they canâ€™t fail to have some respect for a man that fell
from the sky! Let them have their own way, then.â€
Joe was at this stage of his meditations, when he was
landed amid a yelling crowd of both sexes, and all ages
and sizes, but not of all colors. In fine, he was surrounded
by a tribe of Biddiomahs as black as jet. Nor had he to
THE NATIVES AGAIN TAKE JOE FOR A GOD. 275
blush for the scantiness of his costume, for he saw that he
was in â€œundressâ€ in the highest style of that country.
But before he had time to form an exact idea of the
situation, there was no mistaking the agitation of which
he instantly became the object, and this soon enabled him
to pluck up courage, although the adventure of Kazah did
come back rather vividly to his memory.
â€œT foresee that they are going to make a god of me
again,â€ thought he, â€œsome son of the moon most likely.
Well, one tradeâ€™s as good as another when a man has no
choice. The main thing is to gain time. Should the
Victoria pass this way again, I'll take advantage of my
new position to treat my worshippers here to a miracle
when I go sailing up into the sky!â€
While Joeâ€™s thoughts were running thus, the throng
pressed around him. They prostrated themselves before
him; they howled; they felt him; they became even an-
noyingly familiar; but at the same time they had the con-
sideration to offer him a superb banquet consisting of sour
milk and rice pounded in honey. The worthy fellow,
making the best of every thing, took one of the heartiest
luncheons he ever ate in his life, and gave his new adorers
an exalted idea of how the gods tuck away their food upon
When evening came, the sorcerers of the island took
him respectfully by the hand, and conducted him to a sort
of house surrounded with talismans; but, as he was enter-
ing it, Joe cast an uneasy look at the heaps of human
bones that lay scattered around this sanctuary. But he
had still more time to think about them when he found
himself at last shut up in the cabin.
During the evening and through a part of the night,
he heard festive chantings, the reverberations of a kind
of drum, and a clatter of old iron, which were very sweet,
no doubt, to African ears. Then there were howling
276 FIVE WEEKS IN. A BALLOON.
choruses, accompanied by endless dances by gangs of
natives who circled round and round the sacred hut with
contortions and grimaces.
Joe could catch the sound of this deafening orchestra,
through the mud and reeds of which his cabin was built ;
and perhaps under other circumstances he might have been
amused by these strange ceremonies; but his mind was
soon disturbed by quite different and less agreeable reflec-
tions. Even looking at the bright side of things, he found
it both stupid and sad to be left alone in the midst of this
savage country and among these wild tribes. Few travel-
lers who had penetrated to these regions had ever again
seen their native land. Moreover, could he trust to the
worship of which he saw himself the object? He had
good reason to believe in the vanity of human greatness;
and he asked himself whether, in this country, adoration
did not sometimes go to the length of eating the object
But, notwithstanding this rather perplexing prospect,
after some hours of meditation, fatigue got the better of
his gloomy thoughts, and Joe fell into a profound slum-
ber, which would have lasted no doubt until sunrise, had
not a very unexpected sensation of dampness awakened
the sleeper. Ere long this dampness became water, and
that water gained so rapidly that it had soon mounted
to Joeâ€™s waist.
â€œWhat can this be?â€ said he; â€œa flood! a water-
spout! or a new torture invented by these blacks? Faith,
though, Iâ€™m not going to wait here till itâ€™s up to my
neck !â€ .
And, so saying, he burst through the frail wall with
a jog of his powerful shoulder, and found himselfâ€”where ?
â€”in the open lake! Island there was none. It had sunk
during the night. In its place, the watery immensity of
JOEâ€™S ISLAND SUBMERGED. 277
â€œ A poor country for the land-owners!â€ said Joe, once
more vigorously resorting to his skill in the art of nata-
One of those phenomena, which are by no means un-
usual on Lake Tchad, had liberated our brave Joe. More
than one island, that previously seemed to have the solid-
ity of rock, has been submerged in this way; and the peo-
ple living along the shores of the mainland have had to
pick up the unfortunate survivors of these terrible catas-
Joe knew nothing about this peculiarity of the region,
but he was none the less ready to profit by it. He caught
sight of a boat drifting about, without occupants, and was
soon aboard of it. He found it to be but the trunk of a
tree rudely hollowed out; but there were a couple of
paddles in it, and Joe, availing himself of a rapid current,
allowed his craft to float along.
â€œ But let us see where we are,â€ he said. â€œThe polar-
star there, that does its work honorably in pointing out
the direction due north to everybody else, will, most likely,
do me that service.â€
He discovered, with satisfaction, that the current was
taking him toward the northern shore of the lake, and he
allowed himself to glide with it. About two oâ€™clock in the
morning he disembarked upon a promontory covered with
prickly reeds, that proved very provoking and inconve-
nient even to a philosopher like him; but a tree grew
there expressly to offer him a bed among its branches,
and Joe climbed up into it for greater security, and there,
without sleeping much, however, awaited the dawn of
â€˜When morning had come with that suddenness which
is peculiar to the equatorial regions, Joe cast a glance at
the tree which had sheltered him during the last few
hours, and beheld a sight that chilled the marrow in his
278 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
bones. The branches of the tree were literally covered
with snakes and chamelions! The foliage actually was
hidden beneath their coils, so that the beholder might
have fancied that he saw before him a new kind of tree
that bore reptiles for its leaves and fruit. And all this
horrible living mass writhed and twisted in the first rays
of the morning sun! Joe experienced a keen sensation
of terror mingled with disgust, as he looked at it, and he
leaped precipitately from the tree amid the hissings of
these new and unwelcome bedfellows.
â€œ Now, thereâ€™s something that I would never have be-
lieved!â€ said he.
He was not aware that Dr. Vogelâ€™s last letters had
made known this singular feature of the shores of Lake
Tchad, where reptiles are more numerous than in any
other part of the world. But after what he had just seen,
Joe determined to be more circumspect for the future;
and, taking his bearings by the sun, he set off afoot toward
the northeast, avoiding with the utmost care cabins, huts,
hovels, and dens of every description, that might serve
in any manner as a shelter for human beings.
How often his gaze was turned upward to the sky!
He hoped to catch a glimpse, each time, of the Victoriu ;
and, although he looked vainly during all that long,
fatiguing day of sore foot-travel, his confident reliance on
his master remained undiminished. Great energy of char-
acter was needed to enable him thus to sustain the situa-
tion with philosophy. Hunger conspired with fatigue to
crush him, for a manâ€™s system is not greatly restored and
fortified by a diet of roots, the pith of plants, such as the
mÃ©lÃ©, or the fruit of the dowm palm-tree; and yet, accord-
ing to his own calculations, Joe was enabled to push on
about twenty miles to the westward.
His body bore in scores of places the marks of the
thorns with which the lake-reeds, the acacias, the mimosas,
JOEâ€™s SUFFERINGS. 279
and other wild shrubbery through which he had to force
his way, are thickly studded; and his torn and bleeding
feet rendered walking both painful and difficult. But at
length he managed to react against all these sufferings;
and when evening cdme again, he resolved to pass the
night on the shores of Lake Tchad.
There he had to endure the bites of myriads of in-
sectsâ€”gnats, mosquitoes, ants half an inch long, literally
covered the ground; and, in less than two hours, Joe had
not a rag remaining of the garments that had covered him,
the insects having devoured them! It was a terrible night,
that did not yield our exhausted traveller an hour of sleep.
During all this time the wild-boars and native buffaloes,
reÃ©nforced by the ajoubâ€”a very dangerous species of Ja-
mantineâ€”carried on their ferocious revels in the bushes
and under the waters of the lake, filling the night with a
hideous concert. Joe dared scarcely breathe. Even his
courage and coolness had hard work to bear up against so
terrible a situation.
At length, day came again, and Joe sprang to his feet
precipitately ; but judge of the loathing he felt when he
saw what species of creature had shared his couchâ€”a
toad !â€”but a toad five inches in length, a monstrous, re-
pulsive specimen of vermin that sat there staring at him
with huge round eyes. Joe felt his stomach revolt at the
sight, and, regaining a little strength from the intensity
of his repugnance, he rushed at the top of his speed and
plunged into the lake. This sudden bath somewhat allayed
the pangs of the itching that tortured his whole body;
and, chewing a few leaves, he set forth resolutely, again
feeling an obstinate resolution in the act, for which he
could hardly account even to his own mind. He no longer
seemed to have entire control of his own acts, and, never-
theless, he felt within him a strength superior to despair.
However, he began now to suffer terribly from hunger,
280 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
His stomach, less resigned than he was, rebelled, and he was
obliged to fasten a tendril of wild-vine tightly about his
waist. Fortunately, he could quench his thirst at any
moment, and, in recalling the sufferings he had undergone
in the desert, he experienced comparative relief in his ex-
emption from that other distressing want.
â€œWhat can have become of the Victoria ?â€ he won-
dered. â€œThe wind blows from the north, and she should be
carried back by it toward the lake. No doubt the doctor
has gone to work to right her balance, but yesterday
would have given him time enough for that, so that may
be to-dayâ€”but I must act just as if I was never to see
him again. After all, if I only get to one of the large
towns on the lake, Pll find myself no worse off than the
travellers my master used to talk about. Why shouldnâ€™t
I work my way out of the scrape as well as they did?
Some of them got back home again. Come, then! the
deuce! Cheer up, my boy!â€
Thus talking to himself and walking on rapidly, Joe
came right upon a horde of natives in the very depths of
the forest, but he halted in time and was not seen by them.
The negroes were busy poisoning arrows with the juice of
the euphorbiumâ€”a piece of work deemed a great affair
among these savage tribes, and carried on with a sort of
Joe, entirely motionless and even holding his breath,
was keeping himself concealed in a thicket, when, happen-
ing to raise his eyes, he saw through an opening in the
foliage the welcome apparition of the balloonâ€”the Victo-
via herselfâ€”moving toward the lake, at a height of only
about one hundred feet above him. But he could not .
make himself heard; he dared not, could not make his
friends even see him!
Tears came to his eyes, not of grief but of thankful-
ness ; his master was then seeking him; his master had
not left him to perish! He would have to wait for the
departure of the blacks; then he could quit his hiding-
place and run toward the borders of Lake Tchad !
But by this time the Victoria was disappearing in the
distant sky. Joe still determined to wait for her; she
would come back again, undoubtedly. She did, indeed,
return, but farther tothe eastward. Joe ran, gesticulated,
shoutedâ€”but all in vain!
the balloon away with a speed that deprived him of all
For the first time, energy and confidence abandoned
the heart of the unfortunate man. He saw that he was
lost. He thought his master gone beyond all prospect of
return. He dared no longer think; he would no longer
Like a crazy man, his feet bleeding, his body cut and
torn, he walked on during all that day and a part of the
next night. He even dragged himself along, sometimes
on his knees, sometimes with his hands. He saw the mo-
ment nigh when all his strength would fail, and nothing
would be left to him but to sink upon the ground and
Thus working his way along, he at length found him-
self close to a marsh, or what he knew would soon become
a marsh, for night had set in some hours before, and he fell
by a sudden misstep into a thick, clinging mire. In spite
of all his efforts, in sp'te of his desperate struggles, he felt
himself sinking gradually in the swampy ooze, and in a
few minutes he was buried to his waist.
â€œ Here, then, at last, is death!â€ he thought, in agony,
â€œand what a death!â€
He now began to struggle again, like a madman; but
his efforts only served to bury him deeper in the tomb
that the poor doomed lad was hollowing for himself; not
a log of wood or a branch to buoy him up; not a reed to
282 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
which he might cling! He felt that all was over! His
eyes convulsively closed !
â€œMaster! master!â€”Help!â€ were his last words; but
his voice, despairing, unaided, half stifled already by the
rising mire, died away feebly on the night.
A Throng of People on the Horizon.â€”A Troop of Arabs.â€”The Pursuit.â€”It is
He.â€”Fall from Horseback.â€”The Strangled Arab.â€”A Ball from Kennedy.â€”
Adroit Manceuvres.â€”Caught up flying.â€”Joe saved at last.
From the moment when Kennedy resumed his post of
observation in the front of the car, he had not ceased to
watch the horizon with the utmost attention,
After the lapse of some time he turned toward the
doctor and said :
â€œTf Iam not greatly mistaken I can see, off yonder in
the distance, a throng of men or animals moving. It is im-
possible to make them out yet, but I observe that they are
in violent motion, for they are raising a great cloud of
â€œMay it not be another contrary breeze?â€ said the
doctor, â€œ another whirlwind coming to drive us back north-
ward again ?â€ and while speaking he stood up to examine
the horizon. ;
â€œT think not, Samuel; it is a troop of gazelles or of
â€œPerhaps so, Dick; but yon throng is some nine or
ten miles from us at least, and on my part, even with the
glass, I can make nothing of it!â€ -
â€œ At all events I shall not lose sight of it. There is
something remarkable about it that excites my curiosity.
Sometimes it looks like a body of cavalry maneuvring.
Ah! I was not mistaken. It is, indeed, a squadron of
horsemen, Lookâ€”look there!â€
284 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
The doctor eyed the group with great attention, and,
after a momentâ€™s pause, remarked :
â€œT believe that you are right. It is a detachment of
Arabs or Tibbous, and they are galloping in the same di- â€”
rection with us, as though in flight, but we are going fast-
er than they, and we are rapidly gaining on them. In
half an hour we shall be near enough to see them and know
what they are.â€
Kennedy had again lifted his glass and was attentively
scrutinizing them. Meanwhile the crowd of horsemen was
becoming more distinctly visible, and a few were seen to
detach themselves from the main body.
â€œTt is some hunting maneuvre, evidently,â€ said Ken-
nedy. â€œ Those fellows seem to be in pursuit of something.
I would like to know what they are about.â€
â€œ Patience, Dick! In a little while we shall overtake
them, if they continue on the same route. We are going
at the rate of twenty miles per hour, and no horse can
keep up with that.â€
Kennedy again raised his glass, and a few minutes
later he exclaimed :
â€œThey are Arabs, galloping at the top of their speed;
I can make them out distinctly. They are about fifty in
number. I can see their bournouses puffed out by the wind.
It is some cavalry exercise that they are going through.
Their chief is a hundred paces ahead of them and they
are rushing after him at headlong speed.â€
â€œWhoever they may be, Dick, they are not to be
feared, and then, if necessary, we can go higher.â€
â€œWait, doctorâ€”wait a little!â€
â€œTt?s curious,â€ said Kennedy again, after a brief pause,
â€œbut thereâ€™s something going on that I canâ€™t exactly ex-
plain. By the efforts they make, and the irregularity of
their line, I should fancy that those Arabs are pursuing
some one, instead of following.â€
JOE PURSUED BY ARABS. 285
* Are you certain of that, Dick?â€
â€œOh! yes, itâ€™s clear enough now. Tamright! Itisa
pursuitâ€”a huntâ€”but a man-hunt! That is not their chief
riding ahead of them, but a fugitive.â€
â€œA fugitive!â€ exclaimed the doctor, growing more
and more interested.
â€œcc Yes ! â€
â€œDonâ€™t lose sight of him, and let us wait!â€
Three or four miles more were quickly gained upon
these horsemen, who nevertheless were dashing onward
with incredible speed.
â€œDoctor! doctor!â€ shouted Kennedy in an agitated
â€œWhat is the matter, Dick?â€
*Ts it an illusion? Can it be possible?â€
â€œWhat do you mean?â€
â€œWait!â€ and so saying, the Scot wiped the sights of
his spy-glass carefully, and looked through it again in-
â€œWell?â€ questioned the doctor.
â€œTt is he, doctor!â€
â€œHe!â€ exclaimed Ferguson with emotion.
â€œTt ishe! no other!â€ and it was needless to pronounce
â€œYes! it is he! on horseback, and only a hundred
paces in advance of his enemies! He is pursued!â€
â€œTt is Joeâ€”Joe himself!â€ cried the doctor, turning
â€œHe cannot see us in his flight !â€
â€œHe will see us, though!â€ said the doctor, lowering
the flame of his blow-pipe.
â€œIn five minutes we shall be within fifty feet of the
ground, and in fifteen we shall be right over him!â€
â€œWe must let him know it by firing a gun!â€
286 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œNo! he canâ€™t turn back to come this way. Heâ€™s
â€œ What shall we do, then?â€
â€œWe must wait.â€
â€œWait ?â€”and these Arabs!â€
â€œWe shall overtake them. We'll pass them. We are
not more than two miles from them, and provided that
Joeâ€™s horse holds out !â€
â€œ Great God!â€ exclaimed Kennedy, suddenly.
â€œWhat is the matter?â€
Kennedy had uttered a cry of despair as he saw Joe
fling himself to the ground. His horse, evidently ex-
hausted, had just fallen headlong.
â€œHe sees us!â€ cried the doctor, â€œand he motions to
us, as he gets upon his feet!â€
â€œBut the Arabs will overtake him! What is he
waiting for? Ah! the brave lad! Huzza!â€ shouted the
sportsman, who could no longer restrain his feelings.
Joe, who had immediately sprung up after his fall, just
as one of the swiftest horsemen rushed upon him, bounded
like a panther, avoided his assailant by leaping to one
side, jumped up behind him on the crupper, seized the
Arab by the throat, and, strangling him with his sinewy
hands and fingers of steel, flung him on the sand, and con-
tinued his headlong flight.
A tremendous howl was heard from the Arabs, but,
completely engrossed by the pursuit, they had not taken
notice of the balloon, which was now but five hundred
paces behind them, and only about thirty feet from the
â€˜ground, On their part, they were not twenty lengths of
their horses from the fugitive.
One of them was very perceptibly gaining on Joe, and
was about to pierce him with his lance when Kennedy,
with fixed eye and steady hand, stopped him short with a
ball, that hurled him to the earth.
PREPARING TO SUCCOR JOE. 287
Joe did not even turn his head at the report. Some
of the horsemen reined in their barbs, and fell on their
faces in the dust as they caught sight of the Victoria ;
the rest continued their pursuit.
â€œBut what is Joe about?â€ said Kennedy; â€œhe donâ€™t
â€œHeâ€™s doing better than that, Dick! I understand him!
Heâ€™s keeping on in the same direction as the balloon. He
relies upon our intelligence. Ah! the noble fellow! We'll
carry him off in the very teeth of those Arab rascals! We
are not more than two hundred paces from him!â€
â€œWhat are we to do?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œLay aside your rifle, Dick.â€
And the Scot obeyed the request at once.
â€œDo you think that you can hold one hundred and fifty
pounds of ballast in your arms?â€
â€œ Ay, more than that !â€
â€œNo! That will be enough!â€
And the doctor proceeded to pile up bags of sand in
â€œ Hold yourself in readiness in the back part of the car,
and be prepared to throw out that ballast at a single effort.
But, for your life, donâ€™t do so until I give the word!â€
â€œ Be easy on that point.â€
* Otherwise, we should miss Joe, and he would be lost.â€
â€œ Count upon me!â€
The Victoria at that moment almost commanded the
troop of horsemen who were still desperately urging their
steeds at Joeâ€™s heels. The doctor, standing in the front
of the car, held the ladder clear, ready to throw it at any
moment. Meanwhile, Joe had still maintained the distance
between himself and his pursuersâ€”say about fifty feet.
The Victoria was now ahead of the party.
â€œ Attention!â€ exclaimed the doctor to Kennedy.
288 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œ Joe, look out for yourself!â€ shouted the doctor in his
sonorous, ringing voice, as he flung out the ladder, the
lowest ratlines of which tossed up the dust of the road.
As the doctor shouted, Joe had turned his head, but
without checking his horse. The ladder dropped close to
him, and at the instant he grasped it the doctor again
shouted to Kennedy:
â€œThrow ballast !â€
And the Victoria, lightened by a weight greater thanâ€
Joeâ€™s, shot up one hundred and fifty feet into the air.
Joe clung with all his strength to the ladder during
the wide oscillations that it had to describe, and then
making an indescribable gesture to the Arabs, and climb-
ing with the agility of a monkey, he sprang up to his com-
panions, who received him with open arms.
The Arabs uttered a scream of astonishment and rage.
The fugitive had been snatched from them on the wing,
and the Victoria was rapidly speeding far beyond their
â€œMaster! Kennedy!â€ ejaculated Joe, and over-
whelmed, at last, with fatigue ant emotion, the poor fel-
low fainted away, while Kennedy, almost beside himself,
â€œSaved indeed!â€ murmured the doctor, who had re-
covered all his phlegmatic coolness.
Joe was almost naked. His bleeding arms, his body
covered with cuts and bruises, told what his sufferings had
been. The doctor quietly dressed his wounds, and laid
him comfortably under the awning.
Joe soon returned to consciousness, and asked for a
glass of brandy, which the doctor did not see fit to refuse,
as the faithful fellow had to be indulged.
After he had swallowed the stimulant, Joe grasped the
JOE REPOSES AFTER HIS SUFFERINGS. 289
hands of his two friends and announced that he was ready
to relate what had happened to him.
But they would not allow him to talk at that time, and
he sank back into a profound sleep, of which he seemed to
have the greatest possible need.
The Victoria was then taking an oblique line to the
westward. Driven by a tempestuous wind, it again ap-
proached the borders of the thorny desert, which the tray-
ellers descried over the tops of palm-trees, bent and broken
by the storm; and, after having made a run of two hun-
dred miles since rescuing Joe, it passed the tenth degree
of east longitude about nightfall.
The Western Route.â€”Joe wakes up.â€”His Obstinacy.â€”End of Joeâ€™s Narrative,
~â€”Tagelei.Kennedyâ€™s Anxieties.â€”The Route to the North.â€”A Night near
Durtne the night the wind lulled as though reposing
after the boisterousness of the day, and the Victoria re-
mained quictly at the top of the tallsycamore. The doctor
and Kennedy kept watch by turns, and Joe availed him-
self of the chance to sleep most sturdily for twenty-four
hours at a stretch.
â€œThat?â€™s the remedy he needs,â€ said Dr. Ferguson.
â€œ Nature will take charge of his cure.â€
With the dawn the wind sprang up again in quite
strong, and moreover capricious gusts. It shifted abrupt-
ly from south to north, but finally the Victoria was car-
ried away by it toward the west.
The doctor, map in hand, recognized the kingdom of
Damerghou, an undulating region of great fertility, in
which the huts that compose the villages are constructed
of long reeds interwoven with branches of the asclepia.
The grain-mills were seen raised in the cultivated fields,
upon small scaffoldings or platforms, to keep them out of
the reach of the mice and the huge ants of that country.
They soon passed the town of Zinder, recognized by
its spacious place of execution, in the centre of which
stands the â€œtree of death.â€ At its foot the executioner
stands waiting, and whoever passes beneath its shadow is
immediately hung !
JOEâ€™S SPIRITS REVIVED. 291
Upon consulting his compass, Kennedy could not re-
frain from saying :
â€œLook! we are again moving northward.â€
â€œ No matter; if it only takes us to Timbuctoo, we shall
not complain, Never was a finer voyage accomplished
under better circumstances !â€
â€œ Nor in better health,â€ said Joe, at that instant thrust-
ing his jolly countenance from between the curtains of the
â€œThere he is! thereâ€™s our gallant friendâ€”our pre-
server!â€ exclaimed Kennedy, cordially.â€”â€œ How goes it,
â€œOh! why, naturally enough, Mr. Kennedy, very nat-
urally! Inever felt better in my life! Nothing sets a
man up like a little pleasure-trip with a bath in Lake
Tchad to start onâ€”ch, doctor?â€
â€œ Brave fellow!â€ said Ferguson, pressing Joeâ€™s hand,
â€œ what terrible anxiety you caused us!â€
â€œWumph! and you, sir? Do you think that I felt
easy in my mind about you, gentlemen? You gave me
a fine fright, let me tell you!â€
â€œWe shall never agree in the world, Joe, if you take
things in that style.â€
â€œTJ see that his tumble hasnâ€™t changed him a bit,â€
â€œYour devotion and self-forgetfulness were sublime,
my brave lad, and they saved us, for the Victorta was fall-
ing into the lake, and, once there, nobody could have ex-
â€œ But, if my devotion, as you are pleased to call my
summerset, saved you, did it not save me too, for here we-
are, all three of us, in first-rate health? Consequently we
have nothing to squabble about in the whole affair.â€
â€œOh! we can never come to a settlement with that
youth,â€ said the sportsman.
292 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œThe best way to settle it,â€ replied Joe, â€œis to say
nothing more about the matter. Whatâ€™s done is done.
Good or bad, we canâ€™t take it back.â€
â€œYou obstinate fellow!â€ said the doctor, laughing -
â€œyou canâ€™t refuse, though, to tell us your adventures, at
â€œNot if you think it worth while. But, in the first
place, â€™m going to cook this fat goose to a turn, for I see
that Mr. Kennedy has not wasted his time.â€
â€œ All right, Joe!â€
â€œWell, let us see then how this African game will sit
on a European stomach !â€
The goose was soon roasted by the flame of the blow-
pipe, and not long afterward was comfortably stowed
away. Joe took his own good share, like a man who had
eaten nothing for several days. After the tea and the
punch, he acquainted his friends with his recent adven-
tures. He spoke with some emotion, even while looking
at things with his usual philosophy. The doctor could not
refrain from frequently pressing his hand when he saw his
worthy servant more considerate of his masterâ€™s safety
than of his own, and, in relation to the sinking of the island
of the Biddiomahs, he explained to him the frequency of
this phenomenon upon Lake Tchad.
At length Joe, continuing his recital, arrived at the
point where, sinking in the swamp, he had uttered a last
ery of despair.
â€œJ thought I was gone,â€ said he, â€œand as you came
right into my mind, I made a hard fight for it. How, I
couldnâ€™t tell youâ€”but P'd made up my mind that I wouldnâ€™t
go under without knowing why. Just then, I sawâ€”two or
three feet from meâ€”what do you think ? the end of a rope
that had been fresh cut; so I took leave to make another
jerk, and, by hook or by crook, I got to the rope. Then
I pulled, it didnâ€™t give; so I pulled again and hauled away
JOE RELATES HIS ADVENTURES. 293
and there I was on dry ground! At the end of the rope,
I found an anchor! Ah, master, Pve a right to call that
the anchor of safety, anyhow, if you have no objection. JI
knew it again! It was the anchor of the Victoria! You
had grounded there! So I followed the direction of the
rope and that gave me your direction, and, after trying
hard a few times more, I got out of the swamp. I had
got my strength back with my spunk, and I walked on
part of the night away from the lake, until I got to the
edge of a very big wood. There I saw a fenced-in place,
where some horses were grazing, without thinking of any
harm. Now, there are times when everybody knows how
to ride a horse, are there not, doctor? SoTI didnâ€™t spend
much time thinking about it, but jumped right on the back
of one of those innocent animals and away we went gal-
toping north as fast as our legs could carry us. I neednâ€™t
tell you about the towns that I didnâ€™t see nor the villages
that I took good care to go around. No! I crossed the
ploughed fields; I leaped the hedges; I scrambled over
the fences; I dug my heels into my nag; I thrashed him ;
J fairly lifted the poor fellow off his feet! A last I got to
the end of the tilled land. Good! There was the desert.
That suits me!â€ said I, â€œ for I can see better ahead of me
and farther too. I was hoping all the time to see the bal-
loon tacking about and waiting for me. But not a bit of
it; and so, in about three hours, I go plump, like a fool,
into a camp of Arabs! Whew! what a hunt that was!
You see, Mr. Kennedy, a hunter donâ€™t know what a real
hunt is until heâ€™s been hunted himself! Still I advise him
not to try it if he can keep out of it! My horse was so
tired, he was ready to drop off his legs; they were close
on me; I threw myself to the ground; then I jumped up
again behind an Arab ! I didnâ€™t mean the fellow any harm,
and I hope he has no grudge against me for choking him,
but I saw youâ€”-and you know the rest. The Victoria
294 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
came on at my heels, and you caught me up flying, as a
circus-rider does a ring. Wasnâ€™t I right in counting on
you? Now, doctor, you see how simple all that was!
Nothing more natural in the world! Tâ€™m ready to begin
over again, if it would be of any service to you. And
besides, master, as I said a while ago, itâ€™s not worth men-
â€œMy noble, gallant Joe!â€ said the doctor, with great
feeling. â€œHeart of gold! we were not astray in trusting
to your intelligence and skill.â€
â€œPoh! doctor, one has only just to follow things along
as they happen, and he can always work his way out of
ascrape! The safest plan, you see, is to take matters as
While Joe was telling his experience, the balloon had
rapidly passed over a long reach.of country, and Kennedy
soon pointed out on the horizon a collection of structures
that looked like a town. The doctor glanced at his map
and recognized the place as the large village of Tagelei,
in the Damerghou country.
â€œHere,â€ said he, â€œwe come upon Dr. Barthâ€™s route.
It was at this place that he parted from his companions,
Richardson and Overweg; the first was to follow the Zin-
der route, and the second that of Maradi; and you may
remember that, of these three travellers, Barth was the
only one who ever returned to Europe.â€
â€œThen,â€ said Kennedy, following out on the map the
direction of the Victoria, â€œwe are going due north.â€
â€œDue north, Dick.â€
â€œ And donâ€™t that give you a little uneasiness ?â€
â€œWhy should it?â€
â€œ Because that line leads to Tripoli, and over the Great
â€œOh, we shall not go so far as that, my friend â€”at
least, I hope not.â€
â€œyo! THEN, FOR TIMBUCTOO.â€ 295
â€œ But where do you expect to halt?â€
â€œCome, Dick, donâ€™t. you feel some curiosity to see
â€œ Certainly,â€ said Joe; â€œnobody nowadays can think
of making the trip to Africa without going to see Tim-
â€œYou will be only the fifth or sixth European who has
ever set eyes on that mysterious city.â€
â€œHo, then, for Timbuctoo!â€
â€œWell, then, let us try to get as far as between the
seventeenth and eighteenth degrees of north latitude, and
there we will seek a favorable wind to carry us westward.â€
â€œGood!â€ said the hunter. â€œBut have we still far to
go to the northward?â€
â€œOne hundred and fifty miles at least.â€
â€œIn that case,â€ said Kennedy, â€œTl turn in and sleep
â€œSleep, sir; sleep!â€ urged Joe, â€œAnd you, doctor, do
the same yourself: you must have need of rest, for I made
you keep watch a little out of time.â€
The sportsman stretched himself under the awning;
but Ferguson, who was not easily conquered by fatigue,
remained at his post.
In about three hours the Victoria was crossing with
extreme rapidity an expanse of stony country, with ranges
of lofty, naked mountains of granitic formation at the
base. A few isolated peaks attained the height of even
four thousand feet. Giraffes, antelopes, and ostriches were
seen running and bounding with marvellous agility in the
midst of forests of acacias, mimosas, souahs, and date-
trees. After the barrenness of the desert, vegetation was
now resuming its empire. This was the country of the
Kailouas, who veil their faces with a bandage of cotton,
like their dangerous neighbors, the Touaregs.
996 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
At ten oâ€™clock in the evening, after a splendid trip of
two hundred and fifty miles, the Victoria halted over an
important town. The moonlight revealed glimpses of one
district half in ruins; and some pinnacles of mosques and
minarets shot up here and there, glistening in the silvery
rays. The doctor took a stellar observation, and discov-
ered that he was in the latitude of Aghades.
This city, once the seat of an immense trade, was al-
ready falling into ruin when Dr. Barth visited it.
The Victoria, not being seen in the obscurity of night,
descended about two miles above Aghades, in a field of
millet. The night was calm, and began to break into
dawn about three oâ€™clock a.m.; while alight wind coaxed
the balloon westward, and even a little toward the south.
Dr. Ferguson hastened to avail himself of such good
fortune, and rapidly ascending resumed his aÃ©rial journey
amid a long wake of golden morning sunshine,
A Rapid Passage.â€”Prudent Resolves.â€”Caravans in Sight.â€”Incessant Rains.â€”
Goa.â€”The Niger.â€”Golberry, Geoffroy, and Gray.â€”Mungo Park.â€”Laing.â€”
RenÃ© CailliÃ©.â€”Clapperton.â€”John and Richard Lander.
Tue 17th of May passed tranquilly, without any re-
markable incident; the desert gained upon them once
more; a moderate wind bore the Victoria toward the south-
west, and she never swerved to the right or to the left,
but her shadow traced a perfectly straight line on the
Before starting, the doctor had prudently renewed his
â€™ stock of water, having feared that he should not be able to
touch ground in these regions, infested as they are by the
Aouelim-Minian Touaregs. The plateau, at an elevation
of eighteen hundred feet above the level of the sea, sloped
- down toward the south. Our travellers, having crossed
the Aghades route at Murzoukâ€”a route often pressed by
the feet of camelsâ€”-arrived that evening, in the sixteenth
degree of north latitude, and four degrees fifty-five min-
utes east longitude, after having passed over one hundred
and eighty miles of a long and monotonous dayâ€™s journey.
During the day Joe dressed the last pieces of game,
which had been only hastily prepared, and he served up
for supper a mess of snipe, that were greatly relished.
The wind continuing good, the doctor resolved to keep on
during the night, the moon, still nearly at the full, illu-
mining it with her radiance. The Victoria ascended to a
height of five hundred feet, and, during her nocturnal trip
258 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
of about sixty miles, the gentle slumbers of an infant
would not have been disturbed by her motion.
On Sunday morning, the direction of the wind again
changed, and it bore to the northwestward. A few crows
were scen sweeping through the air, and, off on the hori-
zon, a flock of vultures which, fortunately, however, kept
at a distance.
The sight of these birds led Joe to compliment his
master on the idea of having two balloons.
â€œWhere would we be,â€ said he, â€œwith only one bal-
loon? The second balloon is like the life-boat to a ship ;
in case of wreck we could always take to it and escape.â€
â€œYou are right, friend Joe,â€ said the doctor, â€œonly
that my life-boat gives me some uneasiness. It is not so
good as the main craft.â€
â€œWhat do you mean by that, doctor?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œT mean to say that the new Victoria is not so good as
the old one. Whether it be that the stuff it is made of is
too much worn, or that the heat of the spiral has melted
the gutta-percha, I can observe a certain loss of gas. It
donâ€™t amount to much thus far, but still it is noticeable.
We have a tendency to sink, and, in order to keep our
elevation, 1am compelled to give greater dilation to the
â€œThe deuce!â€ exclaimed Kennedy with concern; â€œI
see no remedy for that.â€
â€œThere is none, Dick, and that is why we must hasten
our progress, and even avoid night halts.â€
â€œ Are we still far from the coast?â€ asked Joe.
â€œWhich coast, my boy? How are we to know whither
chance will carry us? All that I can say is, that Tim-
buctoo is still about four hundred miles to the westward.
â€œ And how long will it take us to get there?â€
â€œShould the wind not carry us too far out of the way,
I hope to reach that city by Tuesday evening.â€
AN IMMENSE CARAVAN. 299
â€œThen,â€ remarked Joe, pointing to a long file of ani-
mals and men winding across the open desert, â€œwe shall
arrive there sooner than that caravan.â€
Ferguson and Kennedy leaned over and saw an im-
mense cavalcade. There were at least one hundred and
fifty camels of the kind that, for twelve mutkails of gold,
or about twenty-five dollars, go from Timbuctoo to Tafilet
with a load of five hundred pounds upon their backs. Each
animal had dangling to its tail a bag to receive its excre-
ment, the only fuel on which the caravans can depend when
crossing the desert.
These Touareg camels are of the very best race. They
can go from three to seven days without drinking, and for
two without eating. Their speed surpasses that of the
horse, and they obey with intelligence the voice of the
khabir, or guide of the caravan. They are known in the
country under the name of mehari.
Such were the details given by the doctor while his
companions continued to gaze upon that multitude of men,
women, and children, advancing on foot and with difficulty
over a waste of sand half in motion, and scarcely kept in
its place by scanty nettles, withered grass, and stunted
bushes that grew upon it. The wind obliterated the marks
of their feet almost instantly.
Joe inquired how the Arabs managed to guide them-
selves across the desert, and come to the few wells scattered
far between throughout this vast solitude.
â€œThe Arabs,â€ replied Dr. Ferguson, â€œare endowed
by nature with a wonderful instinct in finding their way.
Where a European would be at a loss, they never hesitate
fora moment. An insignificant fragment of rock, a peb-
ble, a tuft of grass, a different shade of color in the sand,
suffice to guide them with accuracy. During the night
they go by the polar star. They never travel more than
two miles per hour, and always rest during the noonday
300 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
heat. You may judge from that how long it takes them
to cross Sahara, a desert more than nine hundred miles in
But the Victoria had already disappeared from the
astonished gaze of the Arabs, who must have envied her
rapidity. That evening she passed two degrees twenty
minutes east longitude, and during the night left another
degree behind her.
On Monday the weather changed completely. Rain
began to fall with extreme violence, and not only had the
balloon to resist the power of thig deluge, but also the in-
crease of weight which it caused by wetting the whole
machine, car and all. This continuous shower accounted
for the swamps and marshes that formed the sole surface
of the country. Vegetation reappeared, however, along
with the mimosas, the baobabs, and the tamarind-trees.
Such was the Sonray country, with its villages topped
with roofs turned over like Armenian caps. There were
few mountains, and only such hills as were enough to form
the ravines and pools where the pintadoes and snipes went
sailing and diving through. Here and there, an impetu-
ous torrent cut the roads, and had to be crossed by the
natives on long vines stretched from tree to tree. The
forests gave place to jungles, which alligators, hippopotami,
and the rhinoceros, made their haunts.
â€œTt will not be long before we see the Niger,â€ said the
doctor. â€œThe face of the country always changes in the
vicinity of large rivers. These moving highways, as they
are sometimes correctly called, have first brought vegeta-
tion with them, as they will at last bring civilization.
Thus, in its course of twenty-five hundred miles, the Niger
has scattered along its banks the most important cities of
â€œ By-the-way,â€ put in Joe, â€œthat reminds me of what
was said by an admirer of the goodness of Providence, who
REMARKS OF DR. FERGUSON. 38u1
praised the foresight with which it had generally caused
rivers to flow close to large cities!â€
At noon the Victoria was passing over a petty town,
a mere assemblage of miserable huts, which once was Goa,
a great capital.
â€œTt was there,â€ said the doctor, â€œthat Barth crossed
the Niger, on his return from Timbuctoo. This is the
river so famous in antiquity, the rival of the Nile, to which
pagan superstition ascribed a celestial origin. Like the
Nile, it has engaged the attention of geographers in all
ages; and like it, also, its exploration has cost the lives
of many victims; yes, even more of them than perished
on account of the other.â€
The Niger flowed broadly between its banks, and its
waters rolled southward with some violence of current;
but our travellers, borne swiftly by as they were, could
scarcely catch a glimpse of its curious outline.
â€œJT wanted to talk to you about this river,â€ said Dr.
Ferguson, â€œand it is already far from us. Under the
names of Dhiouleba, Mayo, Egghirreou, Quorra, and other
titles besides, it traverses an immense extent of country,
and almost competes in length with the Nile. These ap-
pellations signify simply â€˜the River,â€™ according to the
dialects of the countries through which it passes.â€
â€œDid Dr. Barth follow this route ?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œNo, Dick: in quitting Lake Tchad, he passed through
the different towns of Bornou, and intersected the Niger
at Say, four degrees below Goa; then he penetrated to the
bosom of those unexplored countries which the Niger
embraces in its elbow; and, after eight months of fresh
fatigues, he arrived at Timbuctoo; all of which we may
do in about three days with as swift a wind as this.â€
â€œHave the sources of the Niger been discovered?â€
â€œLong since,â€ replied the doctor. â€œThe exploration
3802 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
of the Niger and its tributaries was the object of several
expeditions, the principal of which I shall mention: Be-
tween 1749 and 1758, Adamson made a reconnoissance of
the river, and visited Gorea; from 1785 to 1788, Golberry
and Geoffroy travelled across the deserts of Senegambia,
and ascended as far as the country of the Moors, who
assassinated Saugnier, Brisson, Adam, Riley, Cochelet,
and so many other unfortunate men. Then came the illus-
trious Mungo Park, the friend of Sir Walter Scott, and,
like him, a Scotchman by birth. Sent out in 1795 by the
African Society of London, he got as far as Bambarra,
saw the Niger, travelled five hundred miles with a slave-
merchant, reconnoitred the Gambia River, and returned
to England in 1797. He again set out, on the 30th of
January, 1805, with his brother-in-law Anderson, Scott,
the designer, and a gang of workmen; he reached Gorea,
there added a detachment of thirty-five soldiers to his
party, and saw the Niger again on the 19th of August.
But, by that time, in consequence of fatigue, privations,
ill-usage, the inclemencies of the weather, and the un-
healthiness of the country, only eleven persons remained
alive of the forty Europeans in the party. On the 16th
of November, the last letters from Mungo Park reached
his wife; and, a year later a trader from that country
gave information that, having got as far as Boussa, on the
Niger, on the 23d of December, the unfortunate travellerâ€™s
boat was upset by the cataracts in that part of the river,
and he was murdered by the natives.â€
â€œ And his dreadful fate did not check the efforts of
others to explore that river?â€
â€œOn the contrary, Dick. Since then, there were two
objects in view: namely, to recover the lost manâ€™s papers,
as well as to pursue the exploration. In 1816, an expedi-
tion was organized, in which Major Grey took part. It ar-
rived in Senegal, penetrated to the Fonta-Jallon, visited
RENE CAILLIE. 8038
the Foullah and Mandingo populations, and returned to
England without further results. In 1822, Major Laing
explored all the western part of Africa near to the British
possessions; and he it was who got so far as the sources
of the Niger; and, according to his documents, the spring
in which that immense river takes its rise is not two feet
â€œEasy to jump over,â€ said Joe.
â€œHowâ€™s that? Easy you think, eh?â€ retorted the doc-
tor. â€œIf we are to believe tradition, whoever attempts
to pass that spring, by leaping over it, is immediately
swallowed up; and whoever tries to draw water from it,
feels himself repulsed by an invisible hand.â€
â€œJT suppose a man has a right not to believe a word
of that!â€ persisted Joe.
â€œOh, by all means !â€”Five years later, it was Major
Laingâ€™s destiny to force his way across the desert of Sa-
hara, penetrate to Timbuctoo, and perish a few miles
above it, by strangling, at the hands of the Ouelad-shiman,
who wanted to compel him to turn Mussulman.â€
â€œStill another victim!â€ said the sportsman.
â€œTt was then that a brave young man, with his own
feeble resources, undertook and accomplished the most
astonishing of modern journeysâ€”I mean the Frenchman
RenÃ© CailliÃ©, who, after sundry attempts in 1819 and 1824,
set out again on the 19th of April, 1827, from Rio Nunez.
On the 8d of August he arrived at TimÃ©, so thoroughly
exhausted and ill that he could not resume his journey
until six months later, in January, 1828. He then joined
a caravan, and, protected by his Oriental dress, reached
the Niger on the 10th of March, penetrated to the city
of JennÃ©, embarked on the river, and descended it, as far
as Timbuctoo, where he arrived on the 30th of April. In
1760, another Frenchman, Imbert by name, and, in 1810, an
Englishman, Robert Adams, had scen this curious place;
304 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
but RenÃ© CailliÃ© was to be the first European who could
bring back any authentic data concerning it. On the 4th
of May he quitted this â€˜ Queen of the desert ;â€™ on the 9th,
he surveyed the very spot where Major Laing had been
murdered; on the 19th, he arrived at El-Arouan, and left
that commercial town to brave a thousand dangers in
crossing the vast solitudes comprised between the Soudan
and the northern regions of Africa. At length he entered
Tangiers, and on the 28th of September sailed for Toulon.
Jn nineteen months, notwithstanding one hundred and
eighty daysâ€™ sickness, he had traversed Africa from west
to north. Ah! had CailliÃ© been born in England, he
would have been honored as the most intrepid travellerâ€™
of modern times, as was the case with Mungo Park. But
in France he was not appreciated according to his worth.â€
â€œ He was a sturdy fellow!â€ said Kennedy, â€œbut what
became of him ?â€
â€œHe died at the age of thirty-nine, from the conse-
quences of his long fatigues. They thought they had
done enough in decreeing him the prize of the Geographi-
cal Society in 1828; the highest honors would have been
paid to him in England.
â€œ While he was accomplishing this remarkable journey,
an Englishman had conceived a similar enterprise and
was trying to push it through with equal courage, if not
with equal good fortune. This was Captain Clapperton,
the companion of Denham. In 1829 he reÃ©ntered Africa
by the western coast of the Gulf of Benin; he then fol-
lowed in the track of Mungo Park and of Laing, recovered
at Boussa the documents relative to the death of the for-
mer, and arrived on the 20th of August at Sackatoo, where
he was seized and held as a prisoner, until he expired in the ~
arms of his faithful attendant Richard Lander.â€
â€œ And what became of this Lander?â€ asked Joe, deep-
RICHARD AND JOHN LANDER. 305
â€œWe succeeded in regaining the coast and returned te
London, bringing with him the captainâ€™s papers, and an ex-
act narrative of his own journey. He then offered his
services to the government to complete the reconnoissance
of the Niger. He took with him his brother John, the
second child of a poor couple in Cornwall, and, together,
these men, between 1829 and 1831, redescended the river
from Boussa to its mouth, describing it village by village,
mile by mile.â€
â€œSo both the brothers escaped the common fate?â€
â€œYes, on this expedition, at least ; but in 1833 Richard
pndertook a third trip to the Niger, and perished by a
bullet, near the mouth of the river. You see, then, my
friends, that the country over which we are now passing
has witnessed some noble instances of self-sacrifice which,
unfortunately, have only too often had death for their re-
The Country in the Elbow of the Niger.â€”A Fantastic View of the Hombori Moun-
tains.â€”_Kabra.â€”Timbuctoo.â€”The Chart of Dr. Barth.â€”A Decaying City.~
Whither Heaven wills.
Dorine this dull Monday, Dr. Ferguson diverted his
thoughts by giving his companions a thousand details com
cerning the country they were crossing. The surface,
which was quite flat, offered no impediment to their prog-
ress. The doctorâ€™s sole anxiety arose from the obstinate
northeast wind which continued to blow furiously, and bore
them away from the latitude of Timbuctoo.
The Niger, after running northward as far as that city,
sweeps around, like an immense water-jet from some foun-
tain, and falls into the Atlantic in a broad sheaf. In the
elbow thus formed the country is of varied character,
sometimes luxuriantly fertile, and sometimes extremely
bare ;. fields of maize succeeded by wide spaces covered
with broom-corn and uncultivated plains. All kinds of
aquatic birdsâ€”pelicans, wild-duck, kingfishers, and the
restâ€”were seen in numerous flocks hovering about the
borders of the pools and torrents.
From time to time there appeared an encampment of
Touaregs, the men sheltered under their leather tents,
while their women were busied with the domestic toil out-
side, milking their camels and smoking their huge-bowled
By eight oâ€™clock in the evening the Victoria had ad-
vanced more than two hundred milcs to the westward,
ON THE RIGHT TRACK AGAIN. 807
and our aÃ©ronauts became the spectators of a magnificent
A mass of moonbeams forcing their way through an
opening in the clouds, and gliding between the long lines
of falling rain, descended in a golden shower on the ridges
of the Hombori Mountains. Nothing could be more
weird than the appearance of these seemingly basaltic
summits; they stood out in fantastic profile against the
sombre sky, and the beholder might have fancied them to
be the legendary ruins of some vast city of the middle
ages, such as the icebergs of the polar seas sometimes
mimic them in nights of gloom.
â€œ An admirable landscape for the â€œ Mysteries of Udol-
pho!â€ exclaimed the doctor. â€œAnn Radcliffe could not
have depicted yon mountains in a more appalling aspect.â€
â€œFaith!â€ said Joe, â€œI wouldnâ€™t like to be strolling
alone in the evening through this country of ghosts. Do
you see now, master, if it wasnâ€™t so heavy, Iâ€™d like to carry
that whole landscape home to Scotland! It would do for
the borders of Loch Lomond, and tourists would rush there
â€œ Our balloon is hardly large enough to admit of that
little experimentâ€”but I think our direction is changing.
Bravo !â€”the elves and fairies of the place are quite oblig-
ing. See, theyâ€™ve sent us a nice little southeast breeze,
that will put us on the right track again.â€
In fact, the Victoria was resuming a more northerly
route, and on the morning of the 20th she was passing
over an inextricable network of channels, torrents, and
streams, in fine, the whole complicated tangle of the Nigerâ€™s
tributaries. Many of these channels, covered with a thick
growth of herbage, resembled luxuriant meadow-lands.
There the doctor recognized the route followed by the ex-
plorer Barth when he launched upon the river to descend
to Timbuctoo. Eight hundred fathoms broad at this
808 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
point, the Niger flowed between banks richly grown with
cruciferous plants and tamarind-trees. Herds of agile
gazelles were seen skipping about, their curling horns
mingling with the tall herbage, within which the alligator,
half concealed, lay silently in wait for them with watchful
Long files of camels and asses laden with merchandise
from JennÃ© were winding in under the noble trees, Ere
long, an amphitheatre of low-built houses was discovered
at a turn of the river, their roofs and terraces heaped up
with hay and straw gathered from the neighboring dis-
â€œThereâ€™s Kabra!â€ exclaimed the doctor, joyously ;
â€œthere is the harbor of Timbuctoo, and the city is not
five miles from here!â€
â€œThen, sir, you are satisfied?â€ half queried Joe
â€œDelighted, my boy!â€
â€œVery good; then every thingâ€™s for the best!â€
In fact, about two oâ€™clock, the Queen of the Desert,
mysterious Timbuctoo, which once, like Athens and Rome,
had her schools of learned men, and her professorships
of philosophy, stretched away before the gaze of our
Ferguson followed the most minute details upon the
chart traced by Barth himself, and was enabled to recog-
nize its perfect accuracy.
The city forms an immense triangle marked out upon
a vast plain of white sand, its acute angle directed toward
the north and piercing a corner of the desert. In the en-
virons there was almost nothing, hardly even a few grasses,
with some dwarf mimosas and stunted bushes.
As for the appearance of Timbuctoo, the reader has but
to imagine a collection of billiard-balls and thimblesâ€”such
is the birdâ€™s-eye view! The streets, which are quite nar
row, are lined with houses only one story in height, built
of bricks dried in the sun, and huts of straw and reeds, the
former square, the latter conical. Upon the terraces were
seen some of the male inhabitants, carelessly lounging at
full length in flowing apparel of bright colors, and lance
or musket in hand; but no women were visible at that
hour of the day.
â€œYet they are said to be handsome,â€ remarked the
doctor. â€œYou see the three towers of the three mosques
that are the only ones left standing of a great numberâ€”
the city has indeed fallen from its ancient splendor! At
the top of the triangle rises the Mosque of Sankore, with its
ranges of galleries resting on arcades of sufficiently pure
design. Farther on, and near to the Sane-Gungu quarter,
is the Mosque of Sidi-Yahia and some two-story houses.
But do not look for either palaces or monuments: the
sheik is a mere son of traffic, and his royal palace is a
â€œTt seems to me that I can see half-ruined ramparts,â€
â€œThey were destroyed by the Fouillanes in 1826; the
city was one-third larger then, for Timbuctoo, an object
generally coveted by all the tribes, since the eleventh cen-
tury, has belonged in succession to the Touaregs, the Son-
rayans, the Morocco men, and the Fouillanes; and this
great centre of civilization, where a sage like Ahmed-Baba
owned, in the sixteenth century, a library of sixteen hun-
dred manuscripts, is now nothing but a mere halfway
house for the trade of Central Africa.â€
The city, indeed, seemed abandoned to supreme neg-
lect; it betrayed that indifference which seems epidemic
to cities that are passing away. Juge heaps of rubbish
encumbered the suburbs, and, with the hill on which the
market-place stood, formed the only inequalities of the
When the Victoria passed, there was some slight show
310 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
of movement; drums were beaten; but the last learned
man still lingering in the place had hardly time to notice
the new phenomenon, for our travellers, driven onward
by the wind of the desert, resumed the winding course of
the river, and, ere long, Timbuctoo was nothing more than
one of the fleeting reminiscences of their journey.
â€œ And now,â€ said the doctor, â€œHeaven may waft us
whither it pleases!â€
â€œProvided only that we go westward,â€ added Ken-
â€œBah!â€ said Joe; â€œI wouldnâ€™t be afraid if it was to
go back to Zanzibar by the same road, or to cross the
ocean to America.â€
â€œWe would first have to be able to do that, Joe!â€
â€œ And whatâ€™s wanting, doctor?â€
â€œGas, my boy; the ascending force of the balloon is
evidently growing weaker, and we shall need all our man-
agement to make it carry us to the sea-coast. I shall even
have to throw over some ballast. We are too heavy.â€
â€œ'Thatâ€™s what comes of doing nothing, doctor; when a
man lies stretched out all day long in his hammock, he
gets fat and heavy. Itâ€™s a lazybones trip, this of ours,
master, and when we get back every body will find us big
â€œJust like Joe,â€ said Kennedy; â€œjust the ideas for
him: but wait a bit! Can you tell what we may have to
go through yet? We are still far from the end of our trip.
Where do you expect to strike the African coast, doctor?â€
â€œT should find it hard to answer you, Kennedy. We
are at the mercy of very variable winds; but I should
think myself fortunate were we to strike it between Sierra
Leone and Portendick. There is a stretch of country in
that quarter where we should meet with friends.â€
â€œ And it would be a pleasure to press their hands; but,
are we going in the desirable direction?â€
THE LAST BAGS OF SAND THROWN OUT, 311
â€œ Not any too well, Dick; not any too well! Look at
the needle of the compass; we are bearing southward, and
ascending the Niger toward its sources.â€
â€œ A fine chance to discover them,â€ said Joe, â€œif they
were not known already. Now, couldnâ€™t we just find
others for it, on a pinch?â€
â€œNot exactly, Joe; but donâ€™t be alarmed: I hardly
expect to go so far as that.â€
At nightfall the doctor threw out the last bags of sand.
The Victoria rose higher, and the blow-pipe, although work-
ing at full blast, could scarcely keep her up. At that time
she was sixty miles to the southward of Timbuctoo, and in
the morning the aÃ©ronauts awoke over the banks of the
Niger, not far from Lake Debo.,
Dr. Ferguson's Anxieties.â€”Persistent Movement southward.â€”A Cloud of
Grasshoppers.â€”A View of JennÃ©.â€”A View of Sego.â€”Change of the Wind.â€”
Tux flow of the river was, at that point, divided by
large islands into narrow branches, with a very rapid cur-
rent. Upon one among them stood some shepherdsâ€™ huts,
but it had become impossible to take an exact observation
of them, because the speed of the balloon was constantly
increasing. Unfortunately, it turned still more toward
the south, and in a few moments crossed Lake Debo.
Dr. Ferguson, forcing the dilation of his aÃ©rial craft
to the utmost, sought for other currents of air at different
heights, but in vain; and he soon gave up the attempt,
which was only augmenting the waste of gas by pressing
it against the well-worn tissue of the balloon.
He made no remark, but he began to feel very anxious.
This persistence of the wind to head him off toward the
southern part of Africa was defeating his calculations, and
he no longer knew upon whom or upon what to depend.
Should he not reach the English or French territories,
what was to become of him in the midst of the barbarous
tribes that infest the coasts of Guinea? How should he
there get to a ship to take him back to England? And
the actual direction of the wind was driving him along to
the kingdom of Dahomey, among the most savage races,
and into the power of a ruler who was in the habit of
A SWARM OF GRASSHOPPERS. 313
sacrificing thousands of human victims at his public orgies.
There he would be lost!
On the other hand, the balloon was visibly wearing
out, and the doctor felt it failing him. However, as the
weather was clearing up a little, he hoped that the cessa-
tion of the rain would bring about a change in the atmos-
pheric currents. :
It was therefore a disagreeable reminder of the actual
situation when Joe said aloud: :
â€œThere! the rainâ€™s going to pour down harder than
ever; and this time it will be the deluge itself, if weâ€™re to
judge by yon cloud thatâ€™s coming up!â€
â€œWhat! another cloud?â€ asked Ferguson,
â€œYes, and a famous one,â€ replied Kennedy.
â€œT never saw, the like of it,â€ added Joe.
â€œT breathe freely again!â€ said the doctor, laying down
his spy-glass. â€˜â€œThatâ€™s not a cloud!â€
â€œNot a cloud?â€ queried Joe, with surprise.
â€œNo; it is a swarm.â€
â€œ Eh ? bb
â€œ A swarm of grasshoppers!â€
â€œMyriads of grasshoppers, that are going to sweep over
this country like a water-spout; and woe to it ! for, should
these insects alight, it will be laid waste.â€
â€œThat would be a sight worth beholding !â€
â€œWait a little, Joe. In ten minutes that cloud will
have arrived where we are, and you can then judge by the
aid of your own eyes.â€
The doctor was right. The cloud, thick, opaque, and
several miles in extent, came on with a deafening noise,
casting its immense shadow over the fields. It was com-
posed of numberless legions of that species of grasshop-
per called crickets. About a hundred paces from the
balloon, they settled down upon a tract full of foliage and
314 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
verdure. Fifteen minutes later, the mass resumed its
flight, and our travellers could, even at a distance, see the
trees and the bushes entirely stripped, and the fields as
pare as though they had been swept with the scythe.
One would have thought that a sudden winter had just
descended upon the earth and struck the region with the
most complete sterility. ;
â€œWell, Joe, what do you think of that ?â€
â€œWell, econ, itâ€™s very curious, but quite natural.
What one grasshopper does on a small scale, thousands
do on a grand scale.â€
â€œTt?s a terrible shower,â€ said the hunter; â€œmore so
than hail itself in the devastation it causes.â€
â€œJt is impossible to prevent it,â€ replied Ferguson.
â€œSometimes the inhabitants have had the idea to burn
the forests, and even the standing crops, in order to arrest
the progress of these insects; but the first ranks plunging
into the flames would extinguish them beneath their mass,
and the rest of the swarm would then pass irresistibly
onward. Fortunately, in these regions, there is some sort
of compensation for their ravages, since the natives gather
these insects in great numbers and greedily eat them.â€
â€œThey are the prawns of the air,â€ said Joe, who added
that he was sorry that he had never had the chance to
taste themâ€”just for informationâ€™s sake !
The country became more marshy toward evening;
the forests dwindled to isolated clumps of trees; and on
the borders of the river could be seen plantations of
tobacco, and swampy meadow-lands fat with forage. At
last the city of JennÃ©, on a large island, came in sight,
with the two towers of its clay-built mosque, and the
putrid odor of the millions of swallowsâ€™ nests accumulatedâ€™
in its walls. The tops of some baobabs, mimosas, and
date-trees peeped up between the houses; and, even at
night, the activity of the place seemed very great. JennÃ©
A FAVORABLE CURRENT. 315
1s, in fact, quite a commercial city: it supplies all the
wants of Timbuctco. Its boats on the river, and its cara-
vans along the shaded roads, bear thither the various
products of its industry.
â€œWere it not that to do so would prolong our journey,â€
said the doctor, â€œI should like to alight at this place.
There must be more than one Arab there who has tray-
elled in England and France, and to whom our style of
locomotion is not altogether new. But it would not be
â€œLet us put off the visit until our next trip,â€ said Joe,
â€œ Besides, my friends, unless Iam mistaken, the wind
has a slight tendency to veer a little more to the eastward,
and we must not lose such an opportunity.â€
The doctor threw overboard some articles that were
no longer of useâ€”some empty bottles, and a case that had
contained preserved-meatâ€”and thereby managed to keep
the balloon in a belt of the atmosphere more favorable to
his plans. At four oâ€™clock in the morning the first rays
of the sun lighted up Sego, the capital of Bambarra, which
could be recognized at once by the four towns that com-
pose it, by its Saracenic mosques, and by the incessant
going and coming of the flat-bottomed boats that con-
vey its inhabitants from one quarter to the other. But
the travellers were not more seen than they saw. They
sped rapidly and directly to the northwest, and the doc-
torâ€™s anxiety gradually subsided.
â€œTwo more days in this direction, and at this rate of
speed, and weâ€™ll reach the Senegal River.â€
â€œAnd we'll be in a friendly country?â€ asked the
â€œ Not altogether; but, if the worst came to the worst,
and the balloon were to fail us, we might make our way
to the French settlements. But, let it hold out only for a
316 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
few hundred miles, and we shall arrive without fatigue,
alarm, or danger, at the western coast.â€
* And the thing will be over!â€ added Joe. â€œ Heigh-ho!
so much the worse. . If it wasnâ€™t for the pleasure of tell-
ing about it, I would never want to set foot on the ground
again! Do you think anybody will believe our story,
â€œWho can tell, Joe? One thing, however, will be
undeniable : a thousand witnesses saw us start on one
side of the African Continent, and a thousand more will
see us arrive on the other.â€
â€œ And, in that case, it seems to me that it would be
hard to .say that we had not crossed it,â€ added Kennedy.
â€œ Ah, doctor!â€ said Joe again, with a deep sigh, â€œTl
think more than once of my lumps of solid gold-ore!
There was something that would have given weight to our
narrative! At a grain of gold per head, I could have got
together a nice crowd to listen to me, and even to admire
The Approaches to Senegal.â€”_The Balloon sinks lower and lower.â€”They keep
throwing out, throwing out.â€”The Marabout Al-Hadji.â€”Messrs. Pascal, Vin-
cent, and Lambert.â€”A Rival of Mohammed.â€”The Difficult Mountains.â€”Ken-
nedyâ€™s Weapons.â€”One of Joeâ€™s Manceuvres.â€”A Halt over a Forest.
On the 27th of May, at nine oâ€™clock in the morning,
the country presented an entirely different aspect. The
slopes, extending far away, changed to hills that gave evi-
dence of mountains soon to follow. They would have to
cross the chain which separates the basin of the Niger
from the basin of the Senegal, and determines the course
of the water-shed, whether to the Gulf of Guinea on the
one hand, or to the bay of Cape Verde on the other.
As far as Senegal, this part of Africa is marked down
as dangerous. Dr. Ferguson knew it through the recitals
of his predecessors. They had suffered a thousand priva-
tions and been exposed to a thousand dangers in the midst
of these barbarous negro tribes. It was this fatal climate
that had devoured most of the companions of Mungo Park.
Ferguson, therefore, was more than ever decided not to
set foot in this inhospitable region.
But he had not enjoyed one moment of repose. The
Victoria was descending very perceptibly, so much so
that he had to throw overboard a number more of useless
articles, especially when there was a mountain-top to pass.
Things went on thus for more than one hundred and
twenty miles; they were worn out with ascending and
falling again; the balloon, like another rock of Sisyphus,
318 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
kept continually sinking back toward the ground. The
rotundity of the covering, which was now but little inflated,
was collapsing already. It assumed an elongated shape,
and the wind hollowed large cavities in the silken surface.
Kennedy could not help observing this.
â€œTs there a crack or a tear in the balloon?â€ he asked.
â€œNo, but the gutta percha has evidently softened or
melted in the heat, and the hydrogen is escaping through
â€œâ€˜ How can we prevent that ?â€
â€œTt is impossible. Let us lighten her. That is the
only help. So let us throw out every thing we can spare.â€
â€œ But what shall it be?â€ said the hunter, looking at
the car, which was already quite bare.
â€œWell, let us get rid of the awning, for its weight is
Joe, who was interested in this order, climbed up on
the circle which kept together the cordage of the network,
and from that place easily managed to detach the heavy
curtains of the awning and throw them overboard.
â€œ'Thereâ€™s something that will gladden the hearts of a
whole tribe of blacks,â€ said he; â€œ thereâ€™s enough to dress Â°
a thousand of them, for theyâ€™re not very extravagant with
The balloon had risen a little, but it soon became evi-
dent that it was again approaching the ground.
â€œTet us alight,â€ suggested Kennedy, â€œand see what
can be done with the covering of the balloon.â€
â€œT tell you, again, Dick, that we have no means of re-
â€œThen what shall we do?â€
â€œWe'll have to sacrifice every thing not absolutely in-
dispensable ; I am anxious, at all hazards, to avoid a de-
tention in these regions. The forests over the tops of
which we are skimming are any thing but safe.â€
â€˜What! are there lions in them, or hyenas?â€ asked
Joe, with an expression of sovereign contempt.
â€˜Worse than that, my boy! There are men, and some
of the most cruel, too, in all Africa.â€
â€œ How is that known?â€
â€œBy the statements of travellers who have been here
before us. Then the French settlers, who occupy the
colony of Senegal, necessarily have relations with the sur-
rounding tribes. Under the administration of Colonel
Faidherbe, reconnoissances have been pushed far up into
the country. Officers such as Messrs. Pascal, Vincent, and
Lambert, have brought back precious documents from their
expeditions. They have explored these countries formed by
the elbow of the Senegal in places where war and pillage
have left nothing but ruins.â€
â€œWhat, then, took place ?â€
â€œT will tell you. In 1854 a Marabout of the Senegal-
ese Fouta, Al-Hadji by name, declaring himself to be in-
spired like Mohammed, stirred up all the tribes to war
against the infidelsâ€”that is to say, against the Euro-
peans. He carried destruction and desolation over the
regions between the Senegal River and its tributary,
the FatÃ©mÃ©. Three hordes of fanatics led on by him
scoured the country, sparing neither a village nor a hut
in their pillaging, massacring career. He advanced in
person on the town of SÃ©go, which was a long time threat-
ened. In 1857 he worked up farther to the northward,
and invested the fortification of Medina, built by the
French on the bank of the river. This stronghold was
defended by Paul Holl, who, for several months, without
provisions or ammunition, held out until Colonel Faid-
herbe camÃ© to his relief. Al-Hadji and his bands then
repassed the Senegal, and reappeared in the Kaarta,
continuing their rapine and murder.â€”Well, here below us
is the very country in which he has found refuge with his
320 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
hordes of banditti; and I assure you that it would not be
a good thing to fall into his hands.â€
â€œWe shall not,â€ said Joe, â€œeven if we have to throw
overboard our clothes to save the Victoria.â€
â€œWe are not far from the river,â€ said the doctor, â€œbut
I foresee that our balloon will not be able to carry us be-
â€œLet us reach its banks, at all events,â€ said the Scot,
â€œand that will be so much gained.â€
â€œThat is what we are trying to do,â€ rejoined Fergu-
son, â€œonly that one thing makes me feel anxious,â€
â€œWhat is that ?â€
â€œWe shall have mountains to pass, and that will be
difficult to do, since I cannot augment the ascensional force
of the balloon, even with the greatest possible heat that I
â€œWell, wait a bit,â€ said Kennedy, â€œand we shall
â€œThe poor Victoria!â€ sighed Joe; â€œI had got fond
of her as the sailor does of his ship, and I'll not give her
up so easily. She may not be what she was at the startâ€”
granted; but we shouldnâ€™t say a word against her. She
has done us good service, and it would break my heart to
â€œ Be at your ease, Joe; if we leave her, it will be in
spite of ourselves. She'll serve us until sheâ€™s completely
worn out, and I ask of her only twenty-four hours more!â€
â€œ Ah, sheâ€™s getting used up! She grows thinner and
thinner,â€ said Joe, dolefully, while he eyed her. â€œ Poor
â€œ Unless I am deceived,â€ said Kennedy, â€œthere on the ,
horizon are the mountains of which you were speaking,
â€œYes, there they are, indeed!â€ exclaimed the doctor,
after having examined them through his spy-glass, â€œ and
COLLAPSING. . 3821
they look very high. We shall-have some trouble in
â€œCan we not avoid them?â€
â€œTJ am afraid not, Dick. See what an immense space
they occupyâ€”nearly one-half of the horizon !â€
â€œThey even seem to shut us in,â€ added Joe. â€œThey
are gaining on both our right and our left.â€
â€œ We must then pass over them.â€
These obstacles, which threatened such imminent peril,
seemed to approach with extreme rapidity, or, to speak
more accurately, the wind, which was very fresh, was
hurrying the balloon toward the sharp peaks. So rise it
must, or be dashed to pieces.
â€œLet us empty our tank of water,â€ said the doctor,
â€œ and keep only enough for one day.â€
â€œThere it goes,â€ shouted Joe.
â€œ Does the balloon rise at all?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œ A littleâ€”some fifty feet,â€ replied the doctor, who
kept his eyes fixed on the barometer. â€œ But that is not
In truth the lofty peaks were starting up so swiftly be-
fore the travellers that they seemed to be rushing down
upon them. The balloon was far from rising above them.
She lacked an elevation of more than five hundred feet
The stock of water for the cylinder was also thrown
overboard and only a few pints were retained, but still all
this was not enough.
â€œ We must pass them though !â€ urged the doctor.
â€œLet us throw out the tanksâ€”we have emptied them.â€
â€œOver with them!â€
â€œThere they go!â€ panted Joe. â€œ But itâ€™s hard to see
ourselves dropping off this way by piecemeal.â€
â€œ Now, for your part, Joe, make no attempt to sacrifice
322 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
yourself as you did the other day! Whatever happens,
swear to me that you will not leave us!â€
â€œHave no fears, my master, we shall not be sepa-
The Victoria had ascended some hundred and twenty
feet, but the crest of the mountain still towered above it.
It was an almost perpendicular ridge that ended in a reg-
ular wall rising abruptly in a straight line. It still rose
more than two hundred feet over the aÃ©ronauts.
â€œTn ten minutes,â€ said the doctor to himself, â€œour car
will be dashed against those rocks unless we succeed in
passing them !â€
â€œ Well, doctor ?â€ queried Joe.
â€œKeep nothing but our pemmican, and throw out all
the heavy meat.â€
Thereupon the balloon was again lightened by some
fifty pounds, and it rose very perceptibly, but that was of
little consequence, unless it got above the line of the
mountain-tops. The situation was terrifying. The Vic-
toria was rushing on with great rapidity. They could
feel that she would be dashed to piecesâ€”that the shock
would be fearful.
The doctor glanced around him in thee car. It was
â€œTf needs be, Dick, hold yourself in readiness to throw
over your fire-arms !â€
â€œSacrifice my fire-arms?â€ repeated the sportsman,
with intense feeling.
â€œMy friend, I ask it; it will be absolutely necessary !â€
â€œYour guns, and your stock of powder and ball might
cost us our lives.â€
â€œWe are close to it!â€ cried Joe.
Sixty feet! The mountain still overtopped the bal-
loon by sixty feet.
JOE'S STRATAGEM. 323
Joe took the blankets and other coverings and tossed
them out; then, without a word to Kennedy, he threw
over several bags of bullets and lead.
The balloon went up still higher; it surmounted the
dangerous ridge, and the rays of the sun shone upon its
uppermost extremity; but the car was still below the level
of certain broken masses of rock, against which it would
inevitably be dashed.
â€œKennedy! Kennedy! throw out your fire-arms, or
we are lost!â€ shouted the doctor.
â€œWait, sir; wait one moment!â€ they heard Joe ex-
claim, and, looking around, they saw Joe disappear over
the edge of the balloon.
â€œJoe! Joe!â€ cried Kennedy.
â€œWretched man!â€ was the doctorâ€™s agonized ex-
The flat top of the mountain may have had about
twenty feet in breadth at this point, and, on the other
side, the slope presented a less declivity. The car just
touched the level of this plane, which happened to be quite
even, and it glided over a soil canoes of sharp pebbles
that grated as it agin
â€œWe're over it! weâ€™re over it! weâ€™re clear!â€ cried out
an exulting voice that made Fergusonâ€™s heart leap to his
The daring fellow was there, grasping the lower rim of
the car, and running afoot over the top of the mountain,
thus lightening the balloon of his whole weight. He had
to hold on with all his strength, too, for it was likely to
escape his grasp at any moment.
When he had reached the opposite declivity, and the
abyss was before him, Joe, by a vigorous effort, hoisted
â€˜himself from the ground, and, clambering up by the cord-
age, rejoined his friends.
â€œThat was all!â€ he coolly ejaculated.
3824 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
â€œMy brave Joe! my friend!â€ said the doctor, with
â€œOh! what I did,â€ laughed the other, â€œwas not for
you; it was to save Mr. Kennedyâ€™s rifle. I owed him
that good turn for the affair with the Arab! I like to
pay my debts, and now we are even,â€ added he, handing
to the sportsman his favorite weapon.. â€œTd feel very
badly to see you deprived of it.â€
Kennedy heartily shook the brave fellowâ€™s hand, with-
out being able to utter a word.
The Victoria had nothing to do now but to descend.
That was easy enough, so that she was soon at a height
of only two hundred feet from the ground, and was then
in equilibrium. The surface seemed very much broken,
as though by a convulsion of nature. It presented numer-
ous inequalities, which would have been very difficult to
avoid during the night with a balloon that could no longer
be controlled. Evening was coming on rapidly, and, not-
withstanding his repugnance, the doctor had to make up
his mind to halt until morning.
â€˜We'll now look for a favorable stopping-place,â€ said
â€œAh!â€ replied Kennedy, â€œyou have made up your
mind, then, at last ?â€
â€œYes, I have for a long time been thinking over a plan
which weâ€™ll try to put into execution; it is only six oâ€™clock
in the evening, and we shall have time enough. Throw
out your anchors, Joe!â€
Joe immediately obeyed, and the two anchors dangled
below the balloon.
â€œT see large forests ahead of us,â€ said the doctor; â€œwe
are going to sweep along their tops, and we shall grapple
to some tree, for nothing would make me think of passing
the night below, on the ground.â€
â€œBut can we not descend?â€ asked Kennedy.
AT ANCHOR. 325
â€œTo what purpose? I repeat that it would be dan-
gerous for us to separate, and, besides, I claim your help
for a difficult piece of work.â€
The Victoria, which was skimming along the tops of
immense forests, soon came to a sharp halt. Her anchors
had caught, and, the wind falling as dusk came on, she re-
mained motionlessly suspended above a vast field of ver:
dure, formed by the tops of a forest of sycamores.
A Struggle of Generosity.â€”The Last Sacrifice.â€”The Dilating Apparatus.--Joeâ€™s
Adroitness.â€”Midnight.â€”-The Doctorâ€™s Watch.â€”Kennedyâ€™s Watch.â€”The Lat-
ter falls asleep at his Post.â€”The Fire.â€”The Howlings of the Natives.â€”Out
Docror Frereusonâ€™s first care was to take his bearings
by stellar observation, and he discovered that he was
scarcely twenty-five miles from Senegal.
â€œ All that we can manage to do, my friends,â€ said he,
after having pointed his map, â€œis to cross the river; but,
as there is neither bridge nor boat, we must, at all hazards,
cross it with the balloon, and, in order to do that, we must
still lighten up.â€
â€œBut I donâ€™t exactly see how we can do that?â€ re-
plied Kennedy, anxious about his fire-arms, â€œunless one
of us makes up his mind to sacrifice himself for the rest,
â€”that is, to stay behind, and, in my turn, I claim that
â€œYou, indeed!â€ remonstrated Joe; â€œainâ€™t I used
â€œThe question now is, not to throw ourselves out of
the car, but simply to reach the coast of Aftica on foot. I
am a first-rate walker, a good sportsman, andâ€”â€
â€œTl never consent to it!â€ insisted Joe.
â€œYour generous rivalry is useless, my brave friends,â€
said Ferguson; â€œI trust that we shall not come to any
such extremity: besides, if we did, instead of separating,
we should keep together, so as to make our way across the
country in company.â€
THE DOCTORâ€™S EXPEDIENT. 827
â€œThat's the talk,â€ said Joe; â€œa little tramp wonâ€™t do
us any harm.â€
â€œBut before we try that,â€ resumed the doctor, â€œwe
must employ a last means of lightening the balloon.â€
â€œWhat will that be? I should like to see it,â€ said
â€œWe must get rid of the cylinder-chests, the spiral,
and the Buntzen battery. Nine hundred pounds make a
rather heavy load to carry through the air.â€
â€œBut then, Samuel, how will you dilate your gas?â€
â€œT shall not do so at all. We'll have to get along
â€œListen, my friends: I have calculated very exactly
the amount of ascensional force left to us, and it is suffi-
cient to carry us every one with the few objects that
remain. We shall make in all a weight of hardly five
hundred pounds, including the two anchors which I desire
â€œDear doctor, you know more about the matter than
we do; you are the sole judge of the situation. Tell us
what we ought to do, and we will do it.â€
â€œTam at your orders, master,â€ added Joe.
â€œJT repeat, my friends, that however serious the deci-
sion may appear, we must sacrifice our apparatus.â€
â€œLet it go, then!â€ said Kennedy, promptly.
â€œTo work!â€ said Joe.
It was no easy job. The apparatus had to be taken
down piece by piece. First, they took out the mixing
reservoir, then the one belonging to the cylinder, and
lastly the tank in which the decomposition of the water
was effected. The united strength of all three travellers
was required to detach these reservoirs from the bottom
of the car in which they had been so firmly secured; but
Kennedy was so strong, Joe so adroit, and the doctor so
328 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
ingenious, that they finally succeeded. The different
pieces were thrown out, one after the other, and they dis-
appeared below, making huge gaps in the foliage of the
â€œThe black fellows will be mightily astonished,â€ said
Joe, â€œat finding things like those in the woods; they'll
make idols of them!â€
The next thing to be looked after was the displace-
ment of the pipes that were fastened in the balloon and
connected with the spiral. Joe succeeded in cutting the
caoutchouc jointings above the car, but when he came to
the pipes he found it more difficult to disengage them, be-
cause they were held by their upper extremity and fast-
ened by wires to the very circlet of the valve.
Then it was that Joe showed wonderful adroitness.
In his naked feet, so as not to scratch the covering, he
succeeded by the aid of the network, and in spite of the
oscillations of the balloon, in climbing to the upper ex-
tremity, and after a thousand difliculties, in holding on
with one hand to that slippery surface, while he detached
the outside screws that secured the pipes in their place.
These were then easily taken out, and drawn away by the
lower end, which was hermetically sealed by means of a
The Victoria, relieved of this considerable weight, rose
upright in the air and tugged strongly at the anchor-rope.
About midnight this work ended without accident, but
at the cost of most severe exertion, and the trio partook
of a luncheon of pemmican and cold punch, as the doctor
had no more fire to place at Joeâ€™s disposal.
Besides, the latter and Kennedy were dropping off
their feet with fatigue.
â€œ Lie down, my friends, and get some rest,â€ said the
doctor. â€œTl take the first watch; at two oâ€™clock Pll
waken Kennedy; at four, Kennedy will waken Joe, and
THE DOCTORâ€™S ANXIETY. 329
at six weâ€™ll start ; and may Heaven have us in its keeping
for this last day of the trip!â€
Without waiting to be coaxed, the doctorâ€™s two com-
panions stretched themselves at the bottom of the car and
dropped into profound slumber on the instant.
The night was calm. A few clouds broke against the
last quarter of the moon, whose uncertain rays scarcely
pierced the darkness. Ferguson, resting his elbows on the
rim of the car, gazed attentively around him. He watched
with close attention the dark screen of foliage that spread
beneath him, hiding the ground from his view.. The least
noise aroused his suspicions, and he questioned even the
slightest rustling of the leaves.
He was in that mood which solitude makes more keen-
ly felt, and during which vague terrors mount to the brain.
At the close of such a journey, after having surmounted
so many obstacles, and at the moment of touching the
goal, oneâ€™s fears are more vivid, oneâ€™s emotions keener.
The point of arrival seems to fly farther from our gaze.
Moreover, the present situation had nothing very con-
solatory about it. They were in the midst of a barbarous
country, and dependent upon a vehicle that might fail
them at any moment. The doctor no longer counted im-
plicitly on his balloon; the time had gone by when he
mancuvred it boldly because he felt sure of it.
Under the influence of these impressions, the doctor,
from time to time, thought that he heard vague sounds in
the vast forests around him; he even fancied that he saw
a swift gleam of fire shining between the trees. He looked
sharply and turned his night-glass toward the spot; but
there was nothing to be seen, and the profoundest silence
appeared to return.
He had, no doubt, been under the dominion of a mere
hallucination. He continued to listen, but without hearing
the slightest noise. When his watch had expired, he
830 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
woke Kennedy, and, enjoining upon him to observe the
extremest vigilance, took his place beside Joe, and fell
sound asleep. :
Kennedy, while still rubbing his eyes, which he could
scarcely keep open, calmly lit his pipe. He then ensconced
himself in a corner, and. began to smoke vigorously by way
of keeping awake.
The most absolute silence reigned around him; a light
wind shook the tree-tops and gently rocked the car, invit-
ing the hunter to taste the sleep that stole over him in
spite of himself: He strove hard to resist it, and repeated-
ly opened his eyes to plunge into the outer darkness one
of those looks that see nothing; but at last, yielding to
fatigue, he sank back and slumbered.
How long he had been buried in this stupor he knew
not, but he was suddenly aroused from it by a strange,
unexpected crackling sound.
He rubbed his eyes and sprang to his feet. An intense
glare half-blinded him and heated his cheekâ€”the forest
was in flames !
â€œFire! fire!â€ he shouted, scarcely comprehending
what had happened.
His two companions started up in alarm.
â€œ Whatâ€™s the matter?â€ was the doctorâ€™s immediate
â€œFire!â€ said Joe. â€œBut who couldâ€”â€
At this moment loud yells were heard under the foli-
age, which was now illuminated as brightly as the day.
â€œ Ah! the savages!â€ cried Joe again; â€œthey have set
fire to the forest so as to be the more certain of burning
_ us up.â€
â€œThe Talabas | Al-Hadjiâ€™s marabouts, no doubt,â€ said
the doctor. ,
A circle of fire hemmed the Victoria in; the crackling
of the dry wood mingled with the hissing and sputtering.
A NARROW ESCAPE, 331
of the green branches; the clambering vines, the foliage,
all the living part of this vegetation, writhed in the de-
structive element. The eye took in nothing but one vast
ocean of flame; the large trees stood forth in black relief
in this huge furnace, their branches covered with glowing
coals, while the whole blazing mass, the entire conflagra-
tion, was reflected on the clouds, and the travellers could
fancy themselves enveloped in a hollow globe of fire.
â€œLet us escape to the ground!â€ shouted Kennedy,
â€œit is our only chance of safety !â€
But Ferguson checked him with a firm grasp, and,
dashing at the anchor-rope, severed it with one well-di-
rected blow of his hatchet. Meanwhile, the flames, leap-
ing up at the balloon, already quivered on its illuminated
sides; but the Victoria, released from her fastenings, spun
upward a thousand feet into the air.
Frightful yells resounded through the forest, along
with the report of fire-arms, while the balloon, caught ina
current of air that rose with the dawn of day, was borne to
It was now four oâ€™clock in the morning.
The Talabas.â€”The Pursuit.â€”A Devastated Country.â€”The Wind begins to fail.
â€”The Victoria sinks.â€”The last of the Provisions.â€”The Leaps of the Bal-
loon.â€”A Defence with Fire-arms.â€”The Wind freshens.â€”The Senegal River.
â€”tThe Cataracts of Gouina.â€”The Hot Air.â€”The Passage of the River.
â€œHap we not taken the precaution to lighten the bal-
loon yesterday evening, we should have been lost beyond
redemption,â€ said the doctor, after a long silence.
â€œSee whatâ€™s gained by doing things at the right
time!â€ replied Joe. â€œ One gets out of scrapes then, and
nothing is more natural.â€
â€œWe are not out of danger yet,â€ said the doctor.
â€œWhat do you still apprehend?â€ queried Kennedy.
â€œThe balloon canâ€™t descend without your permission, and
even were it to do soâ€”â€
â€œWere it to do so, Dick? Look!â€
They had just passed the borders of the forest, and
the three friends could see some thirty mounted men clad
in broad pantaloons and the floating bournouse. They were
armed, some with lances, and others with long muskets,
and they were following, on their quick, fiery little steeds,
the direction of the balloon, which was moving at only
When they caught sight of the aÃ©ronauts, they uttered
savage cries, and brandished their weapons. Anger and
menace could be read upon their swarthy faces, made
more ferocious by thin but bristling beards. Meanwhile
they galloped along without difficulty over the low levels
and gentle declivities that lead down to the Senegal.
THE PURSUIT. 333
â€œTt is, indeed, they!â€ said the doctor; â€œthe cruel
Talabas! the ferocious marabouts of Al-Hadji! I would
rather find myself in the middle of the forest encircled by
wild beasts than fall into the hands of these ban-
â€œThey havenâ€™t a very obliging look!â€ assented Ken-
aedy; â€œand they are rough, stalwart fellows.â€
â€œHappily those brutes canâ€™t fly,â€ remarked Joe; â€œand
â€œSee,â€ said Ferguson, â€œthose villages in ruins, those
huts burned downâ€”that is their work! Where vast
stretches of cultivated land were once seen, they have
brought barrenness and devastation.â€
â€œ At all events, however,â€ interposed Kennedy, â€œ they
canâ€™t overtake us; and, if we succeed in putting the river
between us and them, we are safe,â€
â€œPerfectly, Dick,â€ replied Ferguson; â€œbut we must
not fall to the ground!â€ and, as he said this, he glanced
at the barometer.
â€œTn any case, Joe,â€ added Kennedy, â€œit would do us
no harm to look to our fire-arms.â€
â€œNo harm in the world, Mr. Dick! We are lucky |
that we didnâ€™t scatter them along the road.â€
â€œMy rifle!â€ said the sportsman. â€œTI hope that I shall
never be separated from it!â€
And so saying, Kennedy loaded the pet piece with the
greatest care, for he had plenty of powder and ball re-
â€œ At what height are we?â€ he asked the doctor.
â€œ About seven hundred and fifty feet ; but we no longer
have the power of seeking favorable currents, either going
up or coming down. We are at the mercy of the bal-
â€œThat is vexatious!â€ rejoined Kennedy. â€œThe wind
is poor; but if we had come across a hurricane like some
884 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
of those we met before, these vile brigands would have
been out of sight long ago.â€
â€œThe. rascals follow us at their leisure,â€ said Joe.
â€œThey're only at @ short gallop. Quite a nice little
â€œTf we were within range,â€ sighed the sportsman, â€œI
should amuse myself with dismounting a few of them.â€
â€œExactly,â€ said the doctor; â€œbut then they would
have you within range also, and our balloon would offer
only too plain a target to the bullets from their long guns;
and, if they were to make a hole in it, [leave you to judge
what our situation would be!â€
The pursuit of the Talabas continued all morning;
and by eleven oâ€™clock the aÃ©ronauts had made scarcely
fifteen miles to the westward.
The doctor was anxiously watching for the least cloud
on the horizon. He feared, above all things, a change in
the atmosphere. Should he be thrown back toward the
Niger, what would become of him? Besides, he remarked
that the balloon tended to fall considerably. Since the
start, he had already lost more than three hundred feet,
and the Senegal must be about a dozen miles distant.
At his present rate of speed, he could count upon travel-
ling only three hours longer.
At this moment his attention was attracted by fresh
erles. The Talabas appeared to be much excited, and
were spurring their horses.
The doctor consulted his barometer, and at once dis-
covered the cause of these symptoms.
â€œ Are we descending?â€ asked Kennedy.
â€œYes!â€ replied the doctor.
â€œThe mischief!â€ thought Joe.
In the lapse of fifteen minutes the Victoria was only
one hundred and fifty feet above the ground; but the
wind was much stronger than before.
DESPERATE EFFORTS â€œTO ESCAPE. 835
The Talabas checked their horses, and soon a volley
of musketry pealed out on the air.
â€œToo far, you fools!â€ bawled Joe. â€œIthink it would
be well to keep those scamps at a-distance.â€
And, as he spoke, he aimed at one of the horsemen
who was farthest to the front, and fired. The Talaba fell
headlong, and, his companions halting for 2 moment, the
balloon gained upon them.
â€œThey are prudent !â€ said Kennedy.
â€œ Because they think that they are certain to take us,â€
replied the doctor; â€œand, they will succeed if we descend
much farther. We must, absolutely, get higher into the
â€œ What can we throw out?â€ asked Joe.
â€œ All that remains of our stock of pemmican; that will
be thirty pounds less weight to carry.â€
â€œ Out it goes, sir!â€ said Joe, obeying orders.
The car, which was now almost touching the ground,
rose again, amid the cries of the Talabas; but, half an
hour later, the balloon was again falling rapidly, because
the gas was escaping through the pores of the covering.
Ere long the car was once more grazing the soil, and
Al-Hadjiâ€™s black riders rushed toward it; but, as fre-
quently happens in like cases, the balloon had scarcely
touched the surface ere it rebounded, and only came down
again a mile away.
â€œSo we shall not escape!â€ said Kennedy, between his
â€œThrow out our reserved store of brandy, Joe,â€ cried
the doctor; â€œour instruments, and every thing that has
any weight, even to our last anchor, because go they
Joe flung out the barometers and thermometers, but
all that amounted to little; and the balloon, which had
risen for an instant, fell again toward the ground,
836 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON,
The Talabas flew toward it, and at length were not
more than two hundred paces away.
â€œThrow out the two fowling-pieces!â€ shouted Fer-
â€œNot without discharging them, at least,â€ responded
the sportsman ; and four shots in quick succession struck
the thick of the advancing group of horsemen. Four
Talabas fell, amid the frantic howls and imprecations of
The Victoria ascended once more, and made some
enormous leaps, like a huge gum-elastic ball, bounding
and rebounding through the air. A strange sight it was
to see these unfortunate men endeavoring to escape by
those huge aÃ©rial strides, and seeming, like the giant
Anteus, to receive fresh strength every time they touched
the earth. But this situation had to terminate. It was
now nearly noon; the Victoria was getting empty and
exhausted, and assuming a more and more elongated form
every instant. Its outer covering was becoming flaccid,
and floated loosely in the air, and the folds of the silk
rustled and grated on each other.
â€œ Heaven abandons us!â€ said Kennedy; â€œwe have to
Joe made no answer. He kept looking intently at his
â€œNo!â€ said the latter; â€œwe have more than one hun-
dred and fifty pounds yet to throw out.â€
â€œWhat can it be, then?â€ said Kennedy, thinking that
the doctor must be going mad.
â€œThe car!â€ was his reply; â€œwe can cling to the
network. There we can hang on in the meshes until we
reach the river. Quick! quick!â€
And these daring men did not hesitate a moment to
avail themselves of this last desperate means of escape.
They clutched the network, as the doctor directed, and
THE RIVER IN SIGHT. 337
Joe, holding on by one hand, with the other cut the cords
that suspended the car; and the latter dropped to the
ground just as the balloon was sinking for the last time.
â€œurra! hurra!â€ shouted the brave fellow exultingly,
as the Victoria, once more relieved, shot up again to a
height of three hundred. feet.
The Talabas spurred their horses, which now came
tearing on at a furious gallop; but the balloon, falling in
with a much more favorable wind, shot ahead of them,
and. was rapidly carried toward a hill that stretched across
the horizon to the westward. This was a circumstance
favorable to the aÃ©ronauts, because they could rise over
the hill, while Al-Hadjiâ€™s horde had to diverge to the
northward in order to pass this obstacle.
The three friends still clung to the network. They
had been able to fasten it under their feet, where it had
formed a sort of swinging pocket.
Suddenly, after they had crossed the hill, the doctor ex-
claimed: â€œThe river! the river! the Senegal, my friends!â€
And about two miles ahead of them, there was indeed
the river rolling along its broad mass of water, while the
farther bank, which was low and fertile, offered a sure
refuge, and a place favorable for a descent.
â€œ Another quarter of an hour,â€ said Ferguson, â€œand
we are saved!â€
But it was not to happen thus; the empty balloon de-
scended slowly upon a tract almost entirely bare of vege-
tation. It was made up of long slopes and stony plains, a
few bushes and some coarse grass, scorched by the sun.
The Victoria touched the ground several times, and
rose again, but her rebound was diminishing in height and
length. At the last one, it caught by the upper part of
the network in the lofty branches of a baobab, the only
tree that stood there, solitary and alone, in the midst of
338 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
â€œTtâ€™s all over,â€ said Kennedy.
â€œAnd at a hundred paces only from the river!â€
The three hapless aÃ©ronauts descended to the ground,
and the doctor drew his companions toward the Senegal.
At this point the river sent forth a prolonged roaring ;
and when Ferguson reached its bank, he recognized the
falls of Gouina. But not a boat, not a living creature was
to be seen, With a breadth of two thousand feet, the
Senegal precipitates itself for a height of one hundred and
fifty, with a thundering reverberation. It ran, where they
saw it, from east to west, and the line of rocks that barred
its course extended from north to south. In the midst of
the falls, rocks of strange forms started up like huge ante-
diluvian animals, petrified there amid the waters.
The impossibility of crossing this gulf was self-evident,
and Kennedy could not restrain a gesture of despair.
But Dr. Ferguson, with an energetic accent of un-
daunted daring, exclaimedâ€”
â€œ All is not over!â€
â€œT knew it,â€ said Joe, with that confidence in his mas-
ter which nothing could ever shake.
The sight of the dried-up grass had inspired the doctor
with a bold idea. It was the last chance of escape. He
led his friends quickly back to where they had left the
covering of the balloon.
â€œWe have at least an hourâ€™s start of those banditti,â€
said he; â€œlet us lose no time, my friends; gather a quan-
tity of this dried grass; I want a hundred pounds of it, at
â€œFor what purpose?â€ asked Kennedy, surprised. |
â€œT have no more gas; well, I'll cross the river with hot
â€œ Ah, doctor,â€ exclaimed Kennedy, â€œ you, are, indeed,
a great man!â€
INFLATING THE BALLOON WITH HOT AIR. 539
Joe and Kennedy at once went to work, and soon had
an immense pile of dried grass heaped up near the baobab.
Jn the mean time, the doctor had enlarged the orifice
of the balloon by cutting it open at the lower end. He
then was very careful to expel the last remnant of hydro-
gen through the valve, after which he heaped up a quan-
tity of grass under the balloon, and set fire to it.
It takes but a little while to inflate a balloon with hot
air. A heat of one hundred and eighty degrees is suffi-
cient to diminish the weight of the air it contains to the
extent of one-half, by rarefying it. Thus, the Victoria
quickly began to assume a more rounded form. There
was no lack of grass; the fire was kept in full blast by the
doctorâ€™s assiduous efforts, and the balloon grew fuller every
Tt was then a quarter to four oâ€™clock.
At this moment the band of Talabas reappeared about
two miles to the northward, and the three friends could
hear their cries, and the clatter of their horses galloping
at full speed.
â€œIn twenty minutes they will be here!â€ said Ken-
â€œMore grass! more grass, Joe! In ten minutes we
shall have her full of hot air.â€
â€œ Here it is, doctor!â€
The Victoria was now two-thirds inflated.
â€œCome, my friends, let us take hold of the network, as
we did before.â€
Â« All right!â€ they answered together.
In about ten minutes a few jerking motions by the bal-
loon indicated that it was disposed to start again. The
Talabas were approaching. They were hardly five hun-
dred paces away.
â€œHold on fast!â€ cried Ferguson.
â€œHave no fear, masterâ€”have no fear!â€
3840 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
And the doctor, with his foot pushed another heap of
grass upon the fire.
With this the balloon, now completely inflated by the
increased temperature, moved away, sweeping the branches
of the baobab in her flight.
â€œWe're off!â€ shouted Joe.
A volley of musketry responded to his exclamation. A
bullet even ploughed his shoulder; but Kennedy, leaning
over, and discharging his rifle with one hand, brought
another of the enemy to the ground.
Cries of fury exceeding all description hailed the de-
parture of the balloon, which had at once ascended nearly
eight hundred feet. A swift current caught and swept it
along with the most alarming oscillations, while the in-
trepid doctor and his friends saw the gulf of the cataracts
yawning below them.
Ten minutes later, and without having exchanged a
word, they descended gradually toward the other bank of
There, astonished, speechless, terrified, stood a group
of men clad in the French uniform. Judge of their amaze-
ment when they saw the balloon rise from the right bank
of the river. They had well-nigh taken it for some celes-
tial phenomenon, but their officers, a lieutenant of marines
and a naval ensign, having seen mention made of Dr. Fer-
gusonâ€™s daring expedition, in the European papers, quickly
explained the real state of the case.
The balloon, losing its inflation little by little, settled
with the daring travellers still clinging to its network;
but it was doubtful whether it would reach the land. At
once some of the brave Frenchmen rushed into the water
and caught the three aÃ©ronauts in their arms just as the
Victoria fell at the distance of a few fathoms from the Ictt
bank of the Senegal.
â€œDr. Ferguson!â€ exclaimed the lieutenant.
THE LAST OF THE â€˜ VICTORIA.â€ 841
â€œThe same, sir,â€ replied the doctor, quietly, â€œand his
The Frenchmen escorted our travellers from the river,
while the balloon, half-empty, and borne away by a swift
current, sped on, to plunge, like a huge bubble, head-
long with the waters of the Senegal, into the cataracts of
â€œThe poor Victoria!â€ was Joeâ€™s farewell remark.
The doctor could not restrain a tear, and extending his
hands his two friends wrung them silently with that deep
emotion which requires no spoken words,
Conclusion.â€”The Certificate-â€”The French Settlements.â€”The Post of Medina.
The Basilic.â€”Saint Louis.â€”The English Frigate.â€”The Return to London,
Tux expedition upon the bank of the river had been
sent by the governor of Senegal. It consisted of two offi-
cers, Messrs. Dufraisse, lieutenant of marines, and Roda-
mel, naval ensign, and with these were a sergeant and
seven soldiers, Fortwo days they had been engaged in
reconnoitring the most favorable situation for a post at
Gouina, when they became witnesses of Dr. Fergusonâ€™s
The warm greetings and felicitations of which our trav-
ellers were the recipients may be imagined. The French-
men, and they alone, having had ocular proof of the
accomplishment of the daring project, naturally became
Dr. Fergusonâ€™s witnesses. Hence the doctor at once
asked them to give their official testimony of his arrival at
the cataracts of Gouina.
â€œYou would have no objection to signing a certifi-
cate of the fact, would you?â€ he inquired of Lieutenant
â€œ At your orders!â€ the latter instantly rephed.
The Englishmen were escorted to a provisional post
established on the bank of the river, where they found the
most assiduous attention, and every thing to supply their
wants. And there the following certificate was drawn up
in the terms in which it appears to-day, in the archives of
the Royal Geographical Society of London:
HOMEWARD BOUND. 343
â€œWe, the undersigned, do hereby declare that, on the
â€˜day herein mentioned, we witnessed the arrival of Dr.
Ferguson and his two companions, Richard Kennedy and
-Joseph Wilson, clinging to the cordage and network of a
balloon, and that the said balloon fell at a distance of afew
paces from us into the river, and being swept away by the
current was lost in the cataracts of Gouina. In testimony
whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and seals beside
those of the persons hereinabove named, for the informa-
tion of all whom it may concern.
â€œDone at the Cataracts of Gouina, on the 24th of May,
â€œ (Signed), â€œSamurn Frrevson,
Ã© â€œRicnoarp KENNEDY,
â€œ JosEPH WILSON, |
â€œDourraisse, Lieutenant of Marines,
â€œRopamet, Naval Ensign, â€”
â€œPstissizer, Lorois, ; s
RascaGnet, Gui | be aa
Lon, LEBEL, J
Here ended the astonishing journey of Dr. Ferguson
and his brave companions, as vouched for by undeniable
testimony ; and they found themselves among friends in
the midst of most hospitable tribes, whose relations with
_ the French settlements are frequent and amicable.
They had arrived at Senegal on Saturday, the 24th of
May, and on the 27th of the same month they reached the
post of Medina, situated a little farther to the north, but
on the river. ;
There the French officers received them with open
arms, and lavished upon them all the resources of their
hospitality. Thus aided, the doctor and his friends were
344 FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON.
enabled to embark almost immediately on the small steam-
er called the Basilic, which ran down to the mouth of the
Two weeks later, on the 10th of June, they arrived at
Saint Louis, where the governor gave them a magnificent
reception, and they recovered completely from their ex-
citement and fatigue.
Besides, Joe said to every one who chose to listen:
â€œThat was a stupid trip of ours, after all, and I
wouldnâ€™t advise any body who is greedy for excitement to
undertake it. It gets very tiresome at the last, and if it
hadnâ€™t been for the adventures on Lake Tchad and at the
Senegal River, I do believe that weâ€™d have died of yawn-
An English frigate was just about to sail, and the three
travellers procured passage on board of her. On the 25th
of June they arrived at Portsmouth, and on the next day
We will not describe the reception they got from the
Royal Geographical Society, nor the intense curiosity and
consideration of which they became the objects. Ken-
nedy set off, at once, for Edinburgh, with his famous rifle,
for he was in haste to relieve the anxiety of his faithful
The doctor and his devoted Joe remained the same
men that we have known them, excepting that one change
took place at their own suggestion.
They ceased to be master and servant, in order to be-
come bosom friends.
The journals of all Europe were untiring in their
praises of the bold explorers, and the Daily Telegraph
struck off an edition of three hundred and seventy-seven
thousand copies on the day when it published a sketch of
Doctor Ferguson, at a public meeting of the Royal
RESULT OF THE EXPEDITION. 845
Geographical Society, gave a recital of his journey through
the air, and obtained for himself and his companions the
golden medal set apart to reward the most remarkable
exploring expedition of the year 1862.
The first result of Dr. Fergusonâ€™s expedition was to
establish, in the most precise manner, the facts and geo-
graphical surveys reported by Messrs. Barth, Burton,
Speke, and others. Thanks to the still more recent expe-
ditions of Messrs. Speke and Grant, De Heuglin and Mun-
zinger, who have been ascending to the sources of the
Nile, and penetrating to the centre of Africa, we shall be
enabled ere long to verify, in turn, the discoveries of Dr.
Ferguson in that vast region comprised between the four-
teenth and thirty-third degrees of east longitude.
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