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© 2008

Translated by Norman M. Wolcott, USA with the assistance of Christian Sánchez, Argentina

Introduction to Chapters XI-XX

During the process of redaction of Hector Servadac it was found that the anonymous translation suddenly ceased after Chapter X of Part II and the remainder was continued with the Frewer translation (also made from the magazin version). This fact had apparently not previously been recognized. Seeing that only ten chapters remained untranslated it was decided to attempt a translation of these chapters in the same literal fashion as in the first part of the book. This translation of necessity was made from the current or folio version, but Christian Sánchez, in possession of an original Spanish translation from the magazin version which was very literal, was able by back translating to re-create the original magazin text in English. Accordingly in this section we have placed in […] brackets text which only occurs in the folio version and in curly brackets {…} text which only occurs in the magazin version. Thus in this part, by choice of brackets, one has a translation of either the magazin or folio version.

Some other style changes were made for this part. All units, leagues, degrees, were left in the original form as used by Verne. Also interjections and certain French words well understood but not easily translated were retained in the original French, such as Mordioux! and Diable! which the translator found preferable to the Victorian Egad! or By Jove! Also it may be noted that in revising the magazin version Verne at one point replaced 80 kilometres with 20 leagues, thus indicating that, at least in this book, he was using an equivalent of 1 league = 4 kilometres (2.4 miles).

It was an American, John Walker, the inventor of Autodesk (, who moved to Switzerland in 1991 and produced the first online French version of a Verne book, De la terre á la lune as a means of learning French. Thus it may be appropriate here for an American to learn some French by making the first translation of this folio version into English. Although admittedly an amateur translation, none of the paragraphs have been omitted or extraneous ones inserted, and hopefully the peculiar charm of Verne's scientific prose has to some extent been preserved. The assistance of Christian Sánchez was essential for the idioms and untangling many of Verne's convoluted triple negative sentences, and certainly without the internet such cooperation between North and South America could not have been possible.

The folio version with Hetzel's corrections is in every way a more readable version than the original magazin text. Hopefully at a future time the remainder of the first part of this book can be revised so as to provide a full translation of the folio version as well.

—Norman Wolcott, St. Michaels, Maryland, January 2008



One month passed. Gallia continued to gravitate, carrying its small world with it. Small world, indeed, but not very accessible hitherto to the influences of human passions! Cupidity and selfishness were represented there only by [Hakhabut]{that Jew}, this sad sample of the human race, and he was the only example which one could point to in this separate microcosm of humanity.

After all, these Galliens were to be regarded only as passengers, going on a journey of circumnavigation in the solar world. Thus, they thought to settle themselves on board as comfortably as possible, but only temporarily. The tour of world completed, after two years of absence, their ship would encounter the ancient spheroid, and if the calculations of the professor were of an absolute accuracy [—but was there any reason they should not be—] they would leave the comet to return by foot onto the terrestrial continents.

It is true that the arrival of the Gallien ship on earth, ["its home port",] would undoubtedly take place only with the cost of extreme difficulties, of really terrible dangers. But it was a question to treat later on and which would come in its due time.

Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac, and Lieutenant Procope thus believed themselves almost assured to see again their fellow beings within a relatively short time. They did not have thus to be concerned with accumulating reserves for the future, with using the fertile portions of the Gourbi island for the hot season, and preserving the various species of animals, quadrupeds and birds, with which they intended in principle to reconstitute the animal kingdom on Gallia.

Nevertheless, sometimes they spoke about what they would have done to make their asteroid livable, if it had been impossible for them to leave it one day! What projects to be carried out, what work to achieve to ensure the existence of this small group of beings, which a winter of more than twenty months made so precarious!

It was at the January 15 following that the comet was to reach the extremity of its major axis, i.e. its aphelion. This extreme point passed, its trajectory would bring it back towards the sun with an increasing speed. [Nine to ten]{Ten} months would still have to elapse before the solar heat made the sea ice free and the earth fertile. Then, it would have been the time at which the Dobryna and Hansa would have transported men and animals to the Gourbi island. The soils would have been quickly put in state for this so short, but hot season of the Gallien summer. Sown at an opportune time, this earth would have produced in a few months fodder and cereals necessary for the food of all. The haymaking, the harvest would have been made before the return of winter. One would have lived on this island the life, free and healthy, of hunters and farmers. Then, with the return of winter, one would have resumed the existence of troglodytes in the cells of the fiery mountain. The bees would have swarmed towards Nina-Hive to pass there the hard and long cold season.

Yes, the colonists would have thus returned to their hot dwellings! However, wouldn't they have tried some remote exploration to discover fuel, a mine, or an easily exploitable coal layer? Wouldn't they have sought to build, on this Gourbi island even, a habitation more comfortable, more appropriate for the needs for the colony and the climactic conditions of Gallia?

They would have done so, certainly. They would have tried so, at least, in order to escape from this long sequestration in the caves of the Hot-Land,—a sequestration more regrettable still from the moral point of view than from the physical. It was necessary to be a Palmyrin Rosette, an original absorbed in his figures, not to sense the serious disadvantages, to want to remain on Gallia under these conditions "ad infinitum!".

Moreover, a terrible possibility kept threatening the inhabitants of the Hot-Land. Could one affirm that it would not come up in the future? Could one even ensure that it would not appear before the sun had restored the comet the heat which its habitability required? The question was serious, and was treated often for the present, and not for a future from which Galliens hoped to escape by their return to the earth.

Indeed, could it not happen that this volcano which heated all the Hot-Land might suddenly die out? Were the interior fires of Gallia inextinguishable? The eruption finished, what would become of the inhabitants of Nina-Hive? Should they then be buried deeper into the entrails of the comet to find there a bearable temperature? And there, would it even be possible for them to face cold of space?

Obviously, in a future as remote as one will want to suppose it, the fate of Gallia was to be that which seems reserved for all the worlds of the universe. Its internal fires would die out. It would become a dead star, like the moon is now, like the earth will be. But this future was not now worrying the Galliens [—at least they believed it—], and they hoped to have left Gallia well before it had become uninhabitable.

However, the eruption could cease from one moment to another, as occurs with the terrestrial volcanoes, even before the comet had sufficiently approached the sun. And, in this case, where to obtain this lava which so usefully distributed heat into the depths of the solid mass? What fuel would provide enough heating to return to this residence the average temperature which was to make it possible to support there with impunity the cold of sixty degrees below zero?

[Such was this serious question.] Fortunately, no modification had hitherto appeared in the effusion of the eruptive matters. The volcano functioned with a regularity and, it was said, calm of a good omen. Therefore, in this regard, there was nothing to worry about neither in the future, nor even the present. This was the opinion of Captain Servadac, always confident besides.

On December 15, Gallia was two hundred and sixteen million leagues from the sun, almost at the end of the major axis of its orbit. It did not revolve with any more than a monthly speed from eleven to twelve million leagues.

A new world was now offered to the view of the Galliens, and more particularly to that of Palmyrin Rosette.

After having observed Jupiter more closely than humans had ever done before him, the professor concentrated now in the contemplation of Saturn.

However, the circumstances of proximity were not the same. Thirteen million leagues only had separated the comet from the Jovian world, a hundred seventy-three million leagues would separate it from this curious planet. Therefore, no delays were to be feared in this matter, other that those which had been calculated, and, consequently, nothing grave was to be feared.

At all events, Palmyrin Rosette was going to be able to observe Saturn as if, being on the earth, the planet had approached him within the semi-diameter of its orbit.

It was useless to ask him any details of Saturn. The ex-professor did not show any longer the need to profess. One could not easily make him leave his observatory, and it seemed that the eyepiece of its glasses was, night and day, screwed to his eyes.

Very fortunately, the library of the Dobryna counted some books of elementary cosmography, and, thanks to Lieutenant Procope, those of the Galliens to whom these astronomical questions were of interest were able to learn what there was of the Saturnian world.

First of all, Ben-Zouf had reasons to be satisfied, when it was told to him that if Gallia were located at the distance from the sun where Saturn revolved, he would not have been able to see the earth with the naked eye any more. However, it is known that the orderly particularly worried about his terrestrial sphere that was always visible to his eyes.

"As long as the earth is seen, nothing is lost," he repeated.

And in fact, at the distance which separates Saturn from the sun, the earth would have been invisible, even with the best eyes.

Saturn, at that time, floated in space a hundred and seventy-five million leagues from Gallia and, consequently, three hundred sixty-four million three hundred and fifty thousand leagues from the sun. At this distance, it did not receive any more than the hundredth part of the light and the heat which the radiant star sent to the earth.

Book in hand, they learned that Saturn makes his revolution around the sun in twenty-nine years and hundred sixty-seven days, traversing, with a speed of eight thousand eight hundred fifty-eight leagues per hour, an orbit of two billion two hundred and eighty seven million five hundred thousand leagues, "always by neglecting the hundredths", as Ben-Zouf said. The circumference of this planet measures at the equator ninety thousand three hundred and eighty leagues. Its surface is forty billion square kilometres, its volume of six hundred sixty-six billion cubic kilometers. All in all, Saturn is seven hundred thirty-five times larger than the earth, consequently smaller than Jupiter. As for the mass of planet, it is only hundred times larger than that of the terrestrial sphere, which assigns a lesser density to it than that of water. It turns on its axis in ten hours twenty-nine minutes, which composes its twenty-four thousand six hundred and thirty days' year, and its seasons, considering the considerable inclination of the axis to the plane of the orbit, last seven terrestrial years each.

But we must allow to the Saturnians—if there are any—such splendid nights; in fact eight moons escort their planet. They have very mythological names, Midas, Encelade, Téthys, Dione, Rhéa, Titan, Hyperion, Japet. If the revolution of Midas lasts only twenty-two hours and half, that of Japet is seventy-nine days. If Japet revolves with nine hundred and ten thousand leagues of the Saturnian surface, Midas only circulates with thirty-four thousand leagues, almost three times closer than the moon turns around the earth. They must be splendid, these nights, although the intensity of the emanated light of the sun is relatively low.

That which makes the nights of this planet more beautiful still, is incontestably the triple ring which is coiled around it. Saturn seems to be encased in a brilliant setting. An observer, placed exactly under this ring, which passes then at its zenith at five thousand one hundred sixty-five leagues above his head, sees only one narrow band, of which Herschel evaluates the width to be only a hundred leagues. It is thus as a luminous wire which would be suspended in space. But as that observer displaces himself to one side or the other, he would see three concentric rings then becoming detached little by little from each other, the closest approaching, dark and diaphanous, with a breadth of three thousand one hundred twenty-six leagues, the intermediate, broad ring seven thousand three hundred and eighty eight leagues and shining still more than the planet itself, finally the exterior ring, three thousand six hundred seventy-eight leagues broad and having at the edges a grayish color.

Such is the general appearance of this annular appendix, which grinds away in its own plane in ten hours thirty-two minutes. Of what matter this appendix is made, or how it resists disintegration? no one knows; but, by allowing it to it remain, it seems that the Creator wanted to instruct humans in the manner by which these celestial bodies were formed little by little. Indeed, this appendix is the remainder of a nebula which, after having condensed little by little, became Saturn. For an unknown reason, it probably solidified itself, and, if it should suddenly fracture, it would fall in pieces on Saturn, or its parts would form many new satellites of the planet.

At all events, for Saturnians living on their spheroid between the forty-fifth degrees of latitude and the equator, this triple ring must give rise to the most curious phenomena. Sometimes, it appears on the horizon like an immense arch, broken at its keystone by the shadow that Saturn projects in space; sometimes it appears in its entirety as half-haloes. Very frequently, this appendix eclipses the sun, which appears and reappears in mathematical regularity, to the great joy, undoubtedly, of the Saturnian astronomers. And if one adds to this phenomenon the rising and setting of the eight moons, some full, the others in quadrature, here discs of silver, there acute crescents, the aspect of the Saturnian sky, during the night, must offer an incomparable spectacle.

The Galliens were not able to observe all the magnificence of this world. They were too distant from it. The terrestrial astronomers, armed with their glasses, approach it a thousand times more than they, and the books of the Dobryna showed Captain Servadac and his companions more than their own eyes could see. But they did not complain any,—the neighborhood of these large stars constituted too serious a danger to their negligible comet!

They could not penetrate farther into the more remote world of Uranus; but, as was already mentioned, the principal planet of this world, eighty-two times as large as the earth, (from which it is visible only as a star of sixth magnitude) at its very short distance, appeared then very distinctly to the naked eye. However, none of the eight satellites could be seen that accompany it on its elliptic orbit, that which requires eighty-four years to be described and in which it moves on the average seven hundred twenty-nine million leagues from the sun.

As for last planet of solar system—the last until the moment when the some [Le Verrier][1] {astronomer} of the future will discover another the more distant still—, Galliens could not see it. Palmyrin Rosette saw it, undoubtedly, in the field of his glasses; but he did not allow anybody the honors of his observatory, and one had to be satisfied to observe Neptune—— in the books of cosmography.

The average distance from this planet to the sun measures one billion one hundred and forty million leagues, and the duration of its revolution is one hundred sixty-five years. Neptune thus traverses its immense orbit of seven billion one hundred and seventy million leagues with a speed of twenty thousand kilometers per hour. It is in the form of a spheroid, a hundred and five times larger than that of the earth, around which a satellite circulates at a distance of one hundred thousand leagues.

This distance of twelve hundred million leagues approximately, with which Neptune gravitates, appears to be the limit of the solar system. And however, as large as might be the diameter of this world, it is insignificant, if one compares it with that of the sidereal group to which one attaches the radiant stars.

The sun, indeed, seems to belong to this great nebula of the Milky Way, in the midst of which it shines only like one modest star of fourth magnitude. Where thus would be Gallia, if it had escaped the solar attraction? To which new center would if been attached coursing through sidereal space? Perhaps to the closest of stars in the Milky Way.

However, this star is Alpha of the constellation of the Centaur, and the light, which travels seventy-seven thousand leagues in a second, employs three years and half to arrive from the sun. What is thus this distance? It is such as, to quantify it, the astronomers had to take the billion as the unit, and they say that Alpha is distant at eight thousand "billions" of leagues.

Does one know a great number of these stellar distances? Eight or more have been measured, and, among the principal stars to which this measurement could be applied, one may cite Véga, placed at fifty thousand billion leagues, Sirius, to fifty-two thousand two hundred billion, the Pole star, at a hundred and seventeen thousand six hundred billion, the Goat, at a hundred and seventy thousand four hundred billion leagues. This last number is already composed of fifteen digits.

And to give an idea of these distances, by taking for base the speed of the light, according to clever scientists one can reason as follows:

"Let us suppose a being gifted {by God} with a power of infinite vision, and put it on the Goat. If it looks towards the earth, it will witness the facts which were achieved seventy-two years ago. If one transfers onto a star ten times more away, it will see there the events which occurred seven hundred and twenty years ago. Further still, at a distance which light employs eighteen hundred years to cross, it will attend the grand scene of the death of Christ. Further still, if it six thousand years are necessary for the luminous rays to arrive at its eye, it will be able to contemplate the desolations of the universal flood. Further finally, since space is infinite, it would see, according to the biblical tradition, God creating the world. Indeed, all the facts are so to speak stereotyped in space, and nothing can be erased which was once achieved in the celestial universe."

Perhaps Palmyrin Rosette was right in wanting to traverse this sidereal world, where so many wonders had charmed his eyes. If his comet had entered successively into the service of one star, then of another, what a so different stellar systems he would have observed! Gallia would have moved with these stars whose fixity is only apparent and which nevertheless move,—as does Arcturus, with a speed of twenty-two leagues a second. The sun itself moves at a rate of sixty two million leagues annually, while moving towards the constellation of Hercules. But such is the distance from these stars, that their respective positions, in spite of this rapid displacement, could not be noticed by the terrestrial observers.

However, these secular displacements must necessarily alter one day the shape of the constellations, because each star goes or appears to go with unequal speeds. The astronomers could indicate the new positions that the stars will take one compared to the other in a great number of years. The drawings of certain constellations, such as they will be in fifty thousand years, were reproduced graphically. They offer to the eye, for example, instead of the irregular quadrilateral of the Great Bear, a long cross projected on the sky, and in the place of the pentagon of the constellation of Orion, a simple quadrilateral.

But neither the current inhabitants of Gallia, nor those of the terrestrial sphere, could have noted with their own eyes these successive dislocations. It is not this phenomenon which Palmyrin Rosette had been to seek in the sidereal world. If some circumstance had torn off his comet from its gravitational center to the control of other stars, then his views would have been ravished by the contemplation of wonders of which the solar system cannot give any idea.

Far away, indeed, the planetary groups are not always controlled by a single sun. The monarchical system seems banished in certain points to duality. One sun, two suns, six suns, depending one on the other, revolve under their reciprocal influences. They are stars of diverse colors, reds, yellows, greens, oranges, and indigos. How admirable must be these contrasts of lights which they project on the surface of their planets! And who knows if Gallia would not have seen the rising, above its horizon, of days made successively of all the colors of the rainbow?

But it was not to be given to him to revolve under the power of a new center, neither to mix with the clusters of stars that the powerful telescopes could break up, nor to lose himself in those stellar positions which are partially resolved, nor finally in the midst of these compact nebulas which resist the most powerful reflectors,—nebulas, of which astronomers know more than five thousand, distributed in space.

No! Gallia was never to leave the solar world, nor to lose sight of the earth. And, after having described an orbit of approximately six hundred and thirty million leagues, it would have made, however, nothing but one unimportant voyage in this universe whose immensity is without limits.



However, with the progressive removal of {the comet} Gallia {from the Sun}, the cold increased significantly. Already the temperature was lowered more than 42 degrees below the ice point. Under these conditions, mercury thermometers could not be used because the mercury solidifies at 42 degrees. The alcohol thermometer from the Dobryna was thus put into use, and its column fell to 53 degrees below that of ice.

At the same time, the effect predicted by Lieutenant Procope had manifested itself on the banks of the creek, in which the two vessels had been put in a state of winter storage. The icy layers, with a movement, slow but irresistible, had thickened under the hull of the Hansa and the Dobryna. Near the promontory of rocks that sheltered them, the schooner and tartan, raised in their basin of ice, had already reached a level of 50 feet above the Gallien sea. The Dobryna, lighter than the tartan, towered somewhat above. No human force had been able to prevent this work of elevation from being accomplished.

Lieutenant Procope was very concerned about the fate of the schooner. All items it contained had been removed. All that remained was that the shell, the tower and the machinery; but this shell, in the case of certain eventualities, was it not intended to give refuge to the small colony? If, on thawing, it broke in a fall impossible to prevent, and if Galliens were forced to leave the Hot-Land, what other vessel could replace it?

In any event the tartan would not be possible, menaced as it was and destined to suffer the same fate. The Hansa, unfortunately welded in its shell, was already inclined at a worrying angle. It was dangerous to remain there. However, [Isac] {the Jew} did not abandon his cargo, which he wanted to watch day and night. He felt that his life was in jeopardy, but his goods even more, and [that Eternal which he invoked at each sentence, he did not mind cursing Him for all the events that he saw overwhelming him.] {he kept cursing and blaspheming.}

In these circumstances, Captain Servadac made a resolution, and [Isac] {the Jew} had to comply. While the existence of Isac Hakhabut [was not exactly indispensable]{could not have cared less} to the various members of the Gallien colony, his cargo had an incontestable price. It was necessary above all to prevent a very imminent disaster. Captain Servadac had initially tried to inspire Isac Hakhabut out of concern for himself. In this he had not been successful. [Isac] {the Jew} did not want to dislodge.

"Stay where you like," then responded Hector Servadac, "but your cargo will be carried into the warehouses in the Hot-Land".

The lamentations which Isac Hakhabut made everyone hear, however did not influence anyone, and the relocation began during the day of the 20th of December.

Moreover, [Isac] {the Jew} could come and live in Nina-Hive and, as before, monitor his goods, sell, and traffic, at the prices and weights agreed. No prejudice would be caused him. Truly, if Ben-Zouf had been allowed to blame his captain, he would had made it for being nice to this [deplorable trafficker]{miserable son of Israel}!

Basically, Isac Hakhabut could not but approve the resolution made by the Governor General. It safeguarded his interests, it put his goods in a safe place, and he had nothing to pay for the unloading of the tartan, as it was "against his will."

During several days, the Russians and Spaniards were employed actively in this work. Warmly dressed, closely hooded, they could defy with impunity this low temperature. They only avoided touching with bare hands any metal objects which they operated in transport. The skin of their fingers would have been removed, much as if these objects would have been red-hot, because the effect is absolutely identical to that of a burn. The work was performed without accident, and the cargo of the Hansa was finally stored in the large galleries of Nina-Hive.

Lieutenant Procope did not feel reassured until that activity had been completely accomplished.

But then, Isac Hakhabut, no longer having any reason to remain on his tartan, came to live in the gallery reserved for his goods. It must be acknowledged that it was not embarrassing. You could see him very little. He slept near his property, it nourished him well. A spirit lamp served his more than modest culinary preparations. The hosts of Nina-Hive had no other relations with him than the transactions for them to buy, for him to sell. What is certain is that little by little all the gold and silver from the small colony was coming to a secret triply locked drawer, for which the key would never leave Isac Hakhabut.

The 1st of January of the terrestrial calendar approached. In a few days a year would have passed since the meeting of the terrestrial globe and the comet, since this shock which had separated 36 human beings from their fellow creatures. In any case, not one person was missing so far. Under these new climactic conditions, their health had remained perfect. A gradually decreasing temperature, but without abrupt reversals, with no alternatives, we can even add without drafts, had caused not even a cold. So, there is nothing more healthy than the climate of the comet. All could believe that if the professor's calculations were correct, if Gallia returned to the earth, the Galliens would arrive there at full complement.

Although this first day of the year was not the day of renewal of the Gallien year, and that day only commenced the second half of Gallia's solar revolution, Captain Servadac wanted, not without reason, that they celebrate it with a certain solemnity.

"We must not allow," he said to Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope, "that our companions should be disengaging themselves from things of the earth. They must meet again one day the terrestrial globe, and, even if such return should not have occurred, it would have been useful to cling to the old world, at least in memory. There, they celebrate the renewal of the year, we will also on the comet. This simultaneity of feelings is a good thing. We must not forget that they must remember those of us on earth. At various points of the globe, one should have been able to see Gallia revolving in space, if not with the naked eye, given its small size and its distance, at least with the aid of glasses and telescopes. A sort of scientific link attaches us to the earth, and Gallia is still part of the solar world."

"I approve, Captain," replied Count Timascheff. "It is absolutely certain that the observatories must be very busy with the new comet. From Paris, Petersburg, Greenwich, Cambridge, Cape Town, from Melbourne, I imagine that powerful glasses are often focused on our asteroid."

"It must be very popular there," replied Captain Servadac, and I would be surprised if many magazines and newspapers did not keep the public on both continents aware of all the facts and gestures of Gallia. Let us think of those who are thinking of us, and for the 1st of the terrestrial January, let us share our communal feelings with them.

"Do you think," said Lieutenant Procope then, "that those on earth occupy themselves with the comet that has struck there? I believe like you, but I would add that it is driven by reasons other than scientific interest or a sense of curiosity. The observations which our astronomer has delivered to us would have been made on the earth, of course, and with no less accuracy. The ephemeris of Gallia would have been established already a long time ago. They know the elements of the new comet. They know what trajectory it travels in space, they have determined where and how it must meet the earth. At what precise point of the ecliptic, in which second of time in the same location, it will come again to shock the terrestrial globe, all this is certainly calculated with mathematical precision. So it is the certainty of this return encounter which should especially concern their minds. I go even further, and I dare to say that, on earth, precautions have been taken to mitigate the disastrous effects of a new shock,—if, indeed, it was possible to take them!"

In speaking thus, Lieutenant Procope had to be correct, because he was so logical. The return of Gallia, perfectly calculated, was certainly paramount over any other earthly concerns. We should expect Gallia less to desire than to fear its approach. It is true that Galliens, while wanting this meeting could only worry about the consequences of a new shock. If on earth, as the Lieutenant Procope believed, steps had been taken to mitigate the disaster, was it not suited to do so also on Gallia? This is what ought to be examined later.

At any event, it was decided that one would celebrate the fête on the 1st of January. The Russians themselves had to unite with the French and Spanish, although their calendar does not assign to that date the renewal of the terrestrial year.[2] Christmas arrived. {The anniversary of the birth of Christ was celebrated religiously.} Only [Isac] {the Jew} that day seemed to hide himself yet more stubbornly in his dark retreat.

During the last week of the year, Ben-Zouf was very busy. He worked to contrive an attractive program. The pleasures could not be so very varied on Gallia. It was therefore decided that the day would begin with a grand luncheon and finish with a grand promenade on the ice on the shore of the Gourbi island. They would return by torchlight, that is at night, in light of torches which were to be manufactured using ingredients found in the cargo of the Hansa {which would be bought from the Jew}.

"If the luncheon is remarkably good," said Ben-Zouf, "the promenade will be remarkably cheerful, and they do not need more!"

The composition of the menu was therefore an elaborate affair. Concerning this the frequent communications between the orderly of Captain Servadac and the cook of the Dobryna provided, in short, an intelligent fusion of the methods of Russian and French cuisine.

On the evening of December 31, everything was ready. The cold dishes, canned meat, game pies, galantines and others bought cheaply from [Isac]{the Jew} Hakhabut, were already laid out on the large table of the vast room. The hot dishes were to be prepared the following morning in the lava heated ovens.

That evening, they considered a question about Palmyrin Rosette. Should they invite the Professor to take part in solemn repast? Yes, no doubt, they should invite him. Would he accept the invitation? That was more than doubtful.

Nevertheless, the invitation was made. Captain Servadac had wanted to climb to the observatory himself; but Palmyrin Rosette used to receive the unwelcome so poorly, he preferred to send him a note.

It was the young Pablo who took charge of the letter of invitation, and he soon returned with a response of the following lines:

"Palmyrin Rosette has nothing to say anything other than this: Today, it is the 125th of June, and tomorrow it will be the 1st of July, as expected on Gallia we must reckon following the Gallien calendar."

It was a refusal, scientifically given, but it was a refusal none the less.

On the 1st of January, one hour after sunrise, French, Russians, Spaniards, and little Nina, who represented Italy, were seated before a luncheon such as never had been made on the surface of Gallia. For the main dish Ben-Zouf and the cook of the Dobryna had surpassed themselves. A certain dish of stewed partridges, in which vegetables had been replaced by a "curry" capable of dissolving the taste buds of the tongue and mucous membranes of the stomach, was a piece triumphant. As for the wines, from the reserves of the Dobryna, they were excellent. French and Spanish wines were drunk in honor of their countries of origin, and Russia was in no way forgotten, thanks to a few bottles of kummel.

It was, as Ben-Zouf had hoped—, all very good and very merry.

At dessert, a toast, raised to a common homeland, to the old spheroid, to the "return to the Earth" joined with such hurrahs, as Palmyrin Rosette must have heard in the heights of his observatory.

The luncheon finished, there were still three major daylight hours remaining. The sun then passed at the zenith—a sun that could never have distilled the vintages of Bordeaux or Burgundy that they had come to drink, because its disk only dimly lit and did not warm up the space at all.

All guests clothed themselves warmly from head to toe for a trip that was to last until the night. They were braving harsh weather, but with impunity in the air so calm.

They left Nina-Hive, some chatting, others singing. On the icy strand, each put on his skates and left at will, some by themselves, some in groups. Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac, and Lieutenant Procope stayed together very readily. Negrete and the Spaniards wandered erratically on the vast plain and took off with an unrivaled speed up to the last limits of the horizon. Having become very strong in this exercise of skating, they deployed with extreme zeal the grace which is natural to them.

The sailors of the Dobryna, following a custom from the North, were all placed in queue. A long pole attached under their right arms, maintained them in single file, until they were out of view, like a train whose rails describe curves of large radius..

As for Pablo and Nina, arm in arm, ejecting small cries of joy—two birds which one has given the gift of flight—they skated with an ineffable grace, sometimes returning to the group of Captain Servadac, sometimes fleeing again. These young beings summarized in themselves all the joy and perhaps all the hope of the Gallien world.

We must not forget Ben-Zouf, fluttering from one to the other with an inexhaustible good humor, always present, and heedless of the future.

The troupe of skaters, carried by momentum united on this smooth surface, quickly went fast and far—far beyond the circular line which enclosed the horizon of Hot-Land. At the rear the layer of rocks disappeared, and then the white peaks of the cliffs, and then the summit of the volcano, plumed with ash-forming vapors. Sometimes they would stop to recover their breath,—only for a moment—because they feared freezing. Then they resumed, reaching the coast of Gourbi Island, without essaying to venture onto it, because with dark arriving, they needed to consider their return.

The sun already was sinking to the east, or rather—an effect to which the Galliens had already become accustomed—it seemed to fall rapidly. These sunsets of the radiant star were made under peculiar conditions on the contracted horizon. No cloud was colored by the wonderful nuances that the last rays give. The eye itself, looking out over this frozen sea, could not perceive the green flash of light which is projected when the sun traverses the liquid surface. Here, the sun, widened under refraction, clearly showed a disc sharply defined at its circumference. It disappeared briskly as if a hatch had suddenly opened in the ice field, and the night came on immediately.

Before the fall of the day, Captain Servadac gathered all his world and recommended to his companions to cluster around him. They went as "riflemen", it was necessary to return in a tight platoon, so as not to get lost in the darkness and return together to Hot-Land. The darkness had to be profound, because the moon, in conjunction with the sun, was lost in its vague irradiation.

The night had come. The stars did not provide to the Gallien soil more than that "pale clarity" spoken of by Corneille.[3] The torches were then lit, and while the porters glided rapidly, their flames, as a pennant deployed in the breeze, diminished at length at the rear, were brightened by the speed.

An hour later, the top of the coastline of Hot-Land appeared confused like a huge black cloud on the horizon. There was no mistake. The volcano dominated the heights and projected in the shadows an intense gleam. The reflection of the incandescent lava, made in the mirror of ice, struck the group of skaters and left lying behind them limitless shadows.

It was like this for about half an hour. They quickly approached the coastline, when suddenly a scream was heard.

It was Ben-Zouf that fostered this cry. Each one altered course, biting the ice with skates of steel.

So, by light of the torches, which were nearly out, they saw that Ben-Zouf had extended his arm toward the coast.

A scream from all lips, then replied to that Ben-Zouf had made!...

The volcano had suddenly extinguished. The lava which previously fell outside of the upper cone had ceased to spread. It seemed that a powerful blast must have passed over the crater.

All understood that the source of fire had dried up. Had the eruptive matter thus become missing? Would the heat forever be lacking on Hot-Land, and would there no longer be any opportunity to combat the rigors of the Gallien winter? Was it therefore death, and death from the cold?

"Forward!" Shouted Captain Servadac with a loud voice.

The torches were extinguished. Everyone ran in profound darkness. They arrived quickly at the shoreline. They climbed with some difficulty the icy rocks. They rushed into the open gallery, then into the great hall ...

Darkness thickening, already a low temperature. The sheet of fire no longer closed over the vast opening, and, looking outside, Lieutenant Procope could see that the lagoon, previously made liquid by the lava cataract, was solidified by the cold.

Thus ended on Gallia the first day of the terrestrial year, a day so joyously commenced!



The Galliens spent the rest of the night, that is the few hours that preceded the day, in inexpressible apprehension. Palmyrin Rosette, driven out by the cold, had to leave his observatory and take refuge in the deepest galleries of Nina-Hive. It was perhaps this occasion or never to ask of him if he still would persevere in this idea of coursing through the solar world on his uninhabitable comet; but he would have responded positively no doubt. If encouraged, and at what point, that could not be said.

Together with him, Hector Servadac and his companions had to seek asylum in the deepest galleries of the mountain. The great hall, so widely open to the outside air, was no longer bearable. The moisture of its walls had already changed to crystals, and, even had they succeeded in covering the vast opening that the curtain of lava once closed, the temperature there would have been insufferable.

At the bottom of the dark galleries, a little warmth still propagated. The equilibrium had not been established between the inside and the outside, but that could not be long in coming. There was a sense that the heat was being withdrawn little by little. The mountain was like a corpse whose extremities are cooled while the heart is resistant to the cold of death.

"Eh well," cried Captain Servadac, "it is at the very heart that we will remain!"

The next day he met his companions and spoke to them in these terms:

"My friends, what is it that is threatening us? The cold, but the cold only. We have food which will last more than our passage on Gallia, and our preserves are rather abundant so that we can do without fuel. But what do we need to go through these few winter months? A little of this heat that Nature has provided gratis! Well, this heat, it is more than likely that it exists in the bowels of Gallia, and it is there where we will seek it!"

The confident words revived these good people, some of whom were weakened already. Count Timascheff, Lieutenant Procope, and Ben-Zouf squeezed the hand the Captain extended; they were not close to allowing themselves to perish.

"Mordioux!" said Hector Servadac watching the little girl, "you will not be afraid to go down into the volcano?"[4] "No, my Captain," replied Nina resolutely, "especially if Pablo accompanies us!"

"Pablo will accompany us! He is a brave one! He is afraid of nothing!—Is it not so, Pablo?"

"I will follow you wherever you go, Mr. Governor," replied the boy.

That said, it was only a matter of getting down to work.

One should not think of entering the volcano along the top of the crater. With such a lowering of temperature, the slopes of the mountain would not have been feasible. Feet would not have found any support on the slippery declivities. Therefore, there was a need to reach the central chimney by traversing through the solid massif itself, but promptly, as a terrible cold began to invade the most remote parts of Nina-Hive.

Lieutenant Procope, after having closely examined the available interior galleries and their orientation within the massif, recognized that one of the narrow corridors would lead close to the central chimney. There, in fact, when the lava was rising under the pressure of the vapors, he felt the caloric "ooze" so to speak through its walls. Obviously, the mineral substance, this telluride, of which the mountain consisted, was a good conductor of heat. So by piercing this gallery for a length which was not to exceed seven to eight meters, one ought to encounter the old path of the lava, and perhaps it would be easy to descend from there.

They began immediately with the task. On this occasion, the Russian sailors, led by their lieutenant, showed much skill. The pick or the pickaxe still did not begin to cut into this hard substance. It was necessary to drill blast holes, and, by means of powder, to blow up the rock. The work proceeded thus much faster, and, in two days, it was successfully completed.

During that short time, the colonists had to suffer cruelly from the cold.

"If all access is prohibited in the depths of the massif," said Count Timascheff, "none of us will be able to resist, and it will probably be the end of the Gallien colony!"

"Count Timascheff," replied Captain Servadac, "you trust in the One who can do all?"

"Yes, Captain, but he may want today what he did not want yesterday. It is not for us to judge his decrees. His hand was open ... It seems now to be closed ..."

"At only half", answered Captain Servadac. "This is only one test to which he subjects our courage! Something tells me that it is not probable that the eruption of the volcano ceased in consequence of a complete extinction of interior fires of Gallia. Most likely, that stoppage in the external effusion will only be temporary."

Lieutenant Procope supported the view of Captain Servadac. Another eruption may have opened a mouth on some other point of the comet, and it was possible that the lavic substances would have followed this new path. Many causes could have modified the circumstances to which this eruption was due, without the mineral substances ceasing to combine chemically with oxygen in the entrails of Gallia. But it was impossible to know if one could reach this environment where the temperature would allow braving the cold of space.

During these two days, Palmyrin Rosette took no part in the discussions nor with the work. He came and went like a soul in pain, a soul not at all resigned. He had, no matter what one said, installed his telescope in the great hall. There, several times, at night and during the day, he remained observing the sky until he was literally frozen. He then returned, muttering, cursing the Hot-Land, repeating that his rock of Formentera would have offered him more resources!

The last blow of the pick was delivered during the day of January 4. One could hear the rolling stones inside the central chimney. Lieutenant Procope observed that they did not fall perpendicularly, but that they seemed rather to slide along the walls, clashing with the rock ledges. The central chimney should therefore be inclined, and thus more feasible to descend.

This observation was correct.

As soon as the opening had been increased enough to give passage to a man, Lieutenant Procope and Captain Servadac, preceded by Ben-Zouf, who carried a torch, engaged the central chimney. This chimney followed an oblique direction, with a slope of forty-five degrees at the maximum. One could thus go down without risking a fall. Moreover, the walls were striated by multiple erosions, excavations, edges of rocks, and, under the ash which papered them, the foot felt a solid support. This indicated that the eruption was recent. Indeed, it had been able to occur only when the collision had given to Gallia a part of the Earth's atmosphere, and the walls were not worn by the lava.

"Good!" said Ben-Zouf, "a staircase now! Nothing more, nothing less!"

Captain Servadac and his companions began to descend prudently. Many steps, to speak like Ben-Zouf, were missing with the staircase. They took about half an hour to reach a depth of 500 feet, following a southerly direction. In the walls of the central chimney here and there large excavations were evident, of which none formed a gallery. Ben-Zouf, shaking his torch, filled them with a sharp clarity. The bottom of these holes appeared, but no ramification was found inside, as that which existed on the top floor of Nina-Hive.

However, the Galliens had no choice. They must accept the means of salvation, whatever they were.

However, the hopes of Captain Servadac seemed likely to be realized. As they penetrated further into the substructures of the massif, the temperature increased gradually. It was not a simple rise in degrees, as it is in terrestrial mines. A local cause made this increase more rapid. The source of the heat was felt in the depths of the ground. It was not a colliery, it was indeed a real volcano, which was the object of this exploration. At the bottom of this volcano, not extinct, as one had feared, the lava still bubbled. If, for some unknown reason, the lavas did not rise up to the crater to erupt outside, at least they transmitted their heat in all the lower levels of the massif. A mercury thermometer carried by Lieutenant Procope and an aneroid barometer in the hands of Captain Servadac, indicated at the same time the lowering of the Gallien layers below sea level, and the progressive increase in temperature. At 600 feet below ground level, the mercury column marked six degrees above zero.

"Six degrees," said Captain Servadac, "it is not enough for people that must sequester in the winter for several months. Let us go deeper still, since the ventilation is done properly."

Indeed, by the vast crater of the mountain, and the large bay open to its side, the outside air entered in floods. It was almost as though it was attracted to these depths, and one found there even better conditions for the act of breathing. It was possible therefore to descend with impunity down to the point where one met with a suitable temperature.

Some Four hundred feet more were reached below the level of Nina-Hive. That gave a depth of 250 meters compared to the surface of the Gallien sea. In this location, the thermometer marked 12 degrees centigrade above zero. This temperature was sufficient, provided that nothing came to modify it.[5] Obviously, the three explorers could settle deeper into this oblique lava pathway. But why bother? Already, by ear, they heard some rumblings emerge—proof they were not far from the central foyer.

"Let us stay here," said Ben-Zouf. "The sensitive ones of the settlement can go lower, if it suits them! But in the name of a Kabyle! For my part, I think it is already rather hot."[6] The question now was whether they could be comfortable, more or less, in that part of the mountain?

Hector Servadac and his companions had sat on a rock jutting out, and from there, in light of the torch, which had been re-lit, they examined the vicinity where they were stopping.

Truth obliges to say that nothing was less comfortable. There the central chimney, while widening, formed only a kind of rather major excavation. This hole admittedly could contain all of the Gallien colony. As for arranging it in an fashion a little more suitable, that was rather difficult. Above, below, there existed small crevices which would be enough to store provisions, but as for separate rooms for Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff, one could not count on it. A small tiny room, intended for Nina, could still be found. It would thus be a communal life all of the time. The principal excavation would be used at the same time for dining room, living room, and dormitory. After having lived a little bit like rabbits in their burrows, the colonists were going to hide under ground, like moles, and to live like them,—except without their long winter's sleep.

However, it would be easy to brighten this dim excavation by means of lamps and lanterns. Oil was not lacking, because the general store still had several barrels of it, as well as a certain quantity of spirits-of-wine, which could be used for cooking some food.

As for the confinement during the entire Gallien winter, it would obviously not be absolute. The settlers, dressed as warmly as possible, could make frequent appearances, either on Nina-Hive or on the rocks off the shore. It would be necessary, moreover, to be provisioned with ice which by melting would give the water necessary for all the needs of life. Each, in turn, would be responsible for this rather painful service, since it would be a question of going up to a height of nine hundred feet and of going down as far again with a heavy burden.

Finally, after careful inspection, it was decided that the small colony would be transported to this dark cave, and that it would settle with the least possible discomfort. The single excavation would be used as residence for all. But, in sum, Captain Servadac and his companions would not be worse off than in shared winter quarters in the arctic regions. There, in fact, on board whaling ships, or on the North American trading posts, rooms and cabins are not numerous. There is simply a vast chamber in which moisture penetrates less easily. One gets rid of the corners, which are nests for condensing vapors. Finally, a large high room is easier to ventilate, to heat too, and consequently healthier. In forts, a whole floor is housed in this way; in ships, the whole between decks.

That is what the Lieutenant Procope, familiar with the customs of the polar seas, explained in a few words, and his companions resigned themselves to act as "winter beings" act since they were forced to over winter.

All three went up to Nina-Hive. The colonists were informed of the resolutions taken, and they approved of them. They put themselves to work at once, starting by removing from the excavation the still warm ashes which lined the walls. The relocation of the equipment from Nina-Hive was then undertaken without delay.

There was not an hour to lose. They froze literally, even in the deepest galleries of the old residence. The zeal of the workers was thus quite naturally stimulated, and no removal, including some essential pieces of furniture, various berths, utensils, reserves from the schooner, goods of the tartan, was made more nimbly. It should be noticed, moreover, that it was only necessary to descend, and that, in addition, the lesser gravity of the various parcels made them more easily transportable.

Palmyrin Rosette, little as he wished it, had also to take refuge in the depths of Gallia, but he did not permit the descent of his telescope. It is true that it was not made for this dark abyss, and it remained on its tripod in the large room of Nina-Hive.

It is useless to repeat the interminable lamentations of Isac Hakhabut. All his usual phraseology came out. There was not, in the entire universe, a trader more suffering than he. Amidst the jeers, which never spared him, he carefully guarded the movement of his goods. On the command of Captain Servadac, everything that belonged to him was separated and stored in the same compartment where [he]{the Jew} was going to live. That way, he could monitor his goods and continue his business.

Within a few days, the new facility was completed. Some lanterns illuminated at intervals the oblique chimney leading back up to Nina-Hive. There was no lack of a colorful display, and, in a tale of "Thousand and One Nights", it would have been charming. The large excavation which was used for the housing of all was lit by the lamps of the Dobryna. On the 10th of January, everyone was quashed in this basement, and well-housed, more or less, compared to the outside temperature, which exceeded 60 degrees below zero.

"Va bene! as says our little Nina!" Ben-Zouf then cried, always happy. "Rather than stay on the first floor, we remain in the cellar, that is all!"

And however, although avoiding any expression of their concerns, Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac, and Procope were not without some anxiety for the future. If the volcanic heat had suddenly stopped one day, if some unexpected disturbance delayed Gallia in its solar revolution, if it were necessary to start again new winterings under such conditions, would one find in the core of the comet the fuel which had been missing hitherto? The coal, residue of antiques forests, hidden at geological times, and mineralized under the action of time, could not exist in the entrails of Gallia! In this case would they be thus reduced to use these eruptive materials which the depths of the volcano were to conceal, when it would be completely extinct?

"My friends," said Captain Servadac, "we'll see, we'll wait! We have many months ahead of us to reflect, to dispute, to discuss! Mordioux! It would well be the devil if we were not able to think of an idea!"[7]

"Yes," replied the Count Timascheff, the brain is excited in the presence of difficulties, and these we will find. Moreover, it is not likely that this internal heat would depart from us before the return of the Gallien summer.

"I also do not think it," answered Lieutenant Procope. "One hears constantly the noise of the interior boilings. This ignition of the volcanic substances is probably recent. When the comet circulated in space, before its meeting with the Earth, it did not have any atmosphere, and, consequently, oxygen was probably introduced into its depths only since this collision. From there, a chemical combination whose result was the eruption. This is what one can think, accordingly, taking for certain that the Plutonian work is only at its beginning in the core of Gallia."

"I am in agreement with your opinion, Procope," answered Count Timascheff, "so much so that, far from fearing an extinction of central heat, I would fear another possibility rather, not the less terrible for us."

"And which one is that?" asked Captain Servadac.

"It would be, Captain, that the eruption should restart suddenly and surprise us, camped on the roadway of the lava!"

"Mordioux!" cried Captain Servadac, "this could well happen!"

"We will take care," answered Lieutenant Procope, "and with sufficient vigilance that we will not let ourselves be surprised."

Five days later, the 15th of January, Gallia passed its aphelion, at the end of the major axis of its orbit, and it then orbited at 220 million leagues from the sun.



Gallia would therefore, from this day, return little by little on its elliptical curve and with an increasing speed. Any being living on its surface from now on was hidden in the solid volcanic massif, except for the thirteen English of Gibraltar.

How had those, who voluntarily remained on their small island, survived the first half of the Gallien winter? Better, undoubtedly—it was the general opinion—, than the inhabitants of Hot-Land. Indeed, they had not been forced to borrow the heat of its lava from a volcano and adapt it to the needs of life. Their reserve of coal and food was abundant. They did not lack either for food or fuel. The place they occupied, a solid casemate, with its thick stone walls, had obviously protected them from the steepest declines in temperature. Heated well, they had not been cold; nourished well, they had not been hungry, and their clothing could only have become too tight. Brigadier Murphy and Major Oliphant had had to carry out the most erudite blows on the confined field of the chess-board. Thus no one could doubt that things had happened on Gibraltar suitably and comfortably. In any case, Britain would have nothing but praise for these two officers and those eleven soldiers who remained faithfully at their post.

Captain Servadac and his companions, had they been in danger of perishing from the cold, would have certainly been able to take refuge in the island of Gibraltar. The thought of doing so had already come to them. They would have undoubtedly been received hospitably on this island, even though their first reception had left something to be desired. The English were not men to abandon their fellow creatures without lending their assistance. So, in the event of absolute necessity, the colonists of Hot-Land would not have hesitated to emigrate to Gibraltar. But that would be a long trip on the immense field of ice, without shelter, without fire, and of those who would have undertaken the enterprise, all might not have arrived at the goal! So, this project could only be put in execution in a desperate case, and, as long as the volcano would produce a sufficient heat, it was clearly understood that no one would abandon the Hot-Land.

It was said earlier that all living things in the Gallien colony had found refuge in the excavation of the central chimney. [Indeed, a number of animals had to leave the galleries of Nina-Hive, where they would have frozen to death.] It was not without difficulty that the two horses of Captain Servadac and Ben-Zouf had been lowered down to that depth; but the captain and his orderly particularly made a point of preserving Zephyr and Galette, to bring them back alive on Earth. They loved these two poor animals, little made to live in these new climactic conditions. A large anfractuosity,[8] converted into stables, was designed for them, and, very fortunately, there was enough fodder to feed them.

As for the other domestic animals, some had to be sacrificed.. To place them in the substructions of the solid massif was an impossible task. To leave them up in the higher galleries was to condemn them to a cruel death. They had to be slaughtered. But as the flesh of these animals could be preserved indefinitely in the old magazine, which was subjected to an excessive cold, it was an invaluable increase in the food reserve.

To complete the classification of living beings who sought refuge inside the massif, we must also mention the birds, whose food consisted only of scraps they left to them each day. The cold made them leave the heights of Nina-Hive for dark cavities of the mountain. But their number was still so huge, their presence so intrusive, it was necessary to hunt them actively and kill them in large part.

All this occupied the end of January, and the installation was complete only at that time. But then an existence of a despairing monotony began for the members of the Gallien colony. Could they resist this species of moral numbness, which would result from their physical numbness? Their leaders tried to achieve this by a closer community of everyday life, by conversations to which all were invited to take part, by readings made out loud, drawn from the books of voyages and sciences of the library. Everyone, seated around the large table, Russians or Spaniards, listened and were instructed, and, if they were to return to the earth, they would return there less ignorant than had they been living in their countries of origin.

Meanwhile, what was Isac Hakhabut doing? Was he interested in these conversations, these readings? In no way. What profit could be withdrawn? He spent long hours making and repeating his calculations, and counting and recounting the money that flowed into his hands. What he had gained, coupled with what he had already, amounted to the sum of one hundred fifty thousand francs at least, half in the good gold of Europe. This metal, hard cash, he could make it worth back on Earth, and, if he calculated the number of days [elapsed]{elapsed on Gallia and which would elapse until his return to Earth}, it was from the point of view of lost interest. He had not yet found an opportunity to lend, as he hoped, with good promissory notes and a good warranty, of course.

Of all the colonists, it was again Palmyrin Rosette who created for himself a most quickly absorbing occupation. With his figures, he was never alone, and it was with calculation that he asked to shorten his long days of the winter.

Concerning Gallia, he knew all that one could about it, but it was not thus with Nérina, its satellite. However, the rights of ownership which he claimed on the comet ought to extend as well to its moon. At the least he should determine the new elements after the time it had been snatched away from the zone of telescopic planets[9]. He decided to undertake this calculation. Some bearings of the positions of Nérina at various points of its orbit were still needed. Those made, since he knew the mass of Gallia, obtained by direct measurement, i.e. by means of the balance, he would be able to weigh Nérina from the bottom of his tiny dim room.

Only, he did not have this obscure tiny room, to which he claimed well to give the name of "cabinet", since, in good truth, he could not call it an observatory. So, on the first days of February, he spoke with Captain Servadac about it.

"You need a cabinet, dear professor?" he answered.[10] "Yes, Captain, but I need a cabinet where I can work without fearing the importunate ones."

"We will find you that," answered Hector Servadac. "Only, if this cabinet is not as comfortable as I would like it, it will certainly be isolated and quiet."

"I do not ask for more."


Then, the captain, seeing Palmyrin Rosette's mood quite passable, hazarded to submit a question on his earlier calculations, an issue on which he rightly attached real importance.

"Dear Professor," he said when Palmyrin Rosette was retiring, "I have something to ask of you."


"The calculations, which you concluded concerning the period of revolution of Gallia around the sun, are obviously correct," replied Captain Servadac. "But in the end, if I am not mistaken, half a minute of delay or advance, and your comet would no longer encounter the earth on the ecliptic!..."

["Well?"]{"So what?," cut in the professor, with growing impatience.}

"Well, dear professor, would it not be appropriate to check the accuracy of these calculations ..."

"It is useless."

"Lieutenant Procope would be willing to help you in this important work."

"I do not need anyone," replied Palmyrin Rosette, who was touched in a sensitive nerve.

"However ..."

"I am never mistaken, Captain Servadac, and your insistence is misplaced."

"Mordioux![11] dear Professor," responded Hector Servadac, "you are not kind to your companions, and then ..."

But he kept what he had to his heart, being Palmyrin Rosette is a man to whom he must be considerate.

"Captain Servadac," answered the professor curtly, "I will not start my calculations again, because my calculations are absolutely right. But I want to inform you that what I did for Gallia, I will do it for Nérina, its satellite."

"This is a very timely question," retorted Captain Servadac seriously. "However, I believed that Nérina, being a telescopic planet, its components were known to terrestrial astronomers."

The professor looked at Captain Servadac with a savage eye, as if the value of his work had been challenged. Then, becoming animated:

"Captain Servadac," he said, "if the terrestrial astronomers observed Nérina, if they know already its average diurnal movement, the duration of its sidereal revolution, its average distance to the sun, its eccentricity, the longitude of its perihelion, the average longitude of the epoch, the longitude of the ascending node, the inclination of its orbit, all that needs to be started again, because Nérina is no longer a planet of the telescopic zone, but a satellite of Gallia. However, being a moon, I want to study it like a moon, and I do not see why Galliens should not know of the Gallien moon what the 'terrestriens' know of the terrestrial moon!"

It was necessary to hear Palmyrin Rosette pronounce this word "terrestriens"!

In what a contemptuous tone he now spoke of earthly things!

"Captain Servadac," said he, "I finish this conversation as I began, while asking you to lay out a cabinet for me...."

"We will take care, dear professor ..."

"Oh! I am not hurried," replied Palmyrin Rosette, "and provided that it is ready in an hour ..."

It took three, but finally Palmyrin Rosette could be installed in a sort of hole, where his table and his chair found space to be placed. Then, during the following days and despite the extreme cold, he climbed into the old room to take the bearings of several positions of Nérina. This done he confined himself to his cabinet, and no one could see him again.

In truth, for these Galliens, buried eight hundred feet below the surface, one needed a great moral energy to react against this situation, which was marked by no incidents. Many days flowed by without any of them remounting to the surface, and had there not been the need for getting fresh water by bringing back loads of ice, they would have ended up not leaving the depths of the volcano at all.

However, some visits were made into the lower parts of the central chimney. Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, Procope, and Ben-Zouf wanted as far as possible to probe this abyss dug in the core of Gallia. The exploration of this solid mass, composed of thirty per cent gold, left them indifferent, it is necessary to say. Moreover, this substance, without value on Gallia, would not have any more value if it fell on Earth,[12] [and they did not pay more attention to this telluride than of a granite rock].

But what this exploration made known to them, it is that the central fire preserved its activity, and they concluded from this that if the eruption by the volcano had ceased, other ignivomous mouths had opened on the surface of Gallia.

Thus passed February, March, April, May, one can say in a kind of moral numbness of which those sequestered could not realize. The majority vegetated under the influence of a torpor which became worrisome. The readings, listened to initially with interest, no longer drew an audience around the large table. The conversations were limited to two or three people and were in a low voice. The Spaniards were especially overpowered and hardly left their berths. They hardly got out in order to take some food. The Russians resisted better and performed their tasks with greater zeal. The lack of exercise was thus the serious danger of this long sequestration. Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Procope saw the progression of this numbness, but what could they do? Exhortations were insufficient. Themselves, they felt invaded by this particular overwhelming pressure and did not always resist it. Sometimes it was an uncommon prolongation of sleep, sometimes an invincible loathing for food, whatever it was. One could really say that these prisoners, hidden in the ground like tortoises during the winter, were going to sleep and fast like them until the return of warm weather!

Of all the Gallien colony, it was the small Nina who could resist best. She went, came, lavished her encouragements on Pablo, whom the general torpor affected too. She spoke with the one, with the other, and her fresh voice charmed these gloomy depths like the song of a bird. She obliged this one to eat, that one to drink. She was the heart of this small world, she animated it by her coming and going. She sang merry songs of Italy, in this dismal region, where there was unbearable silence. She buzzed like a pretty fly, but more useful, more beneficial than the fly of the fabulist[13]. There was as well such superabundant life in this small being, which was communicated to all who spoke with her. Perhaps this reaction was accomplished almost without the knowledge of those who were affected, but it was no less real, and the presence of Nina was undoubtedly beneficial to Galliens, half asleep in this tomb.

However, months passed. How? Captain Servadac and his companions could not say.

Towards the beginning of June, the general torpor seemed to relax gradually. Was it the influence of the radiant star, which was approaching the comet? Perhaps, but the sun was still far away! Lieutenant Procope, in the first half of the Galllien revolution, had carefully noted the positions and figures given by the professor. He was able to obtain the ephemeris graphically, and on an orbit drawn by him, follow with more or less precision the march of the comet.

The point of aphelion, once passed, it was easy for him to mark the successive positions of the return of Gallia. He could thus inform his companions without being obliged to consult Palmyrin Rosette.

But he saw that, around the beginning of June, Gallia, having intersected the orbit of Jupiter, was still at a huge distance from the sun, or one hundred ninety seven million leagues. But its speed would increase gradually, in accordance with one of the laws of Kepler and, four months later, it would return into the zone of telescopic planets, at only one hundred and twenty-five million leagues.

About this time—the second fortnight of June—, Captain Servadac and his companions had entirely recovered their physical and moral faculties. Ben-Zouf was like a man who slept too much, and he stretched out a great deal.

The visits to the deserted rooms of Nina-Hive became more frequent. Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Procope descended onto the shore. It was still too cold, but the atmosphere had not lost its normal tranquility. No vapor on the horizon, nor the zenith, not a breath of air. The last footprints left on the beach were there as clear as on the first day.

Only one aspect of the coast had changed. It was the rock headland which overlooked the cove. In this place, the upward movement of the layers of ice had continued. It rose then to more than one hundred fifty feet. Here, at this height, the schooner and the tartan appeared, completely inaccessible. Their fall with the thaw was certain, their breaking up, inevitable. No means existed to save them.

Fortunately, Isac Hakhabut, never abandoning his shop in the depths of the mountain, did not accompany Captain Servadac during this walk on the beach.

"If he had been there," said Ben-Zouf, "what cries of a peacock the old rascal had issued! However, to possess the cries of peacock and not to have the plumage of it, is beyond comprehension!"

Two months moreover, July and August, brought Gallia closer to within one hundred sixty-four million leagues of the sun. During the short nights, the cold was still extraordinarily sharp; but, during the day, sun, by traversing the equator of Gallia which crossed the Hot-Land, emitted a rather appreciable heat and raised the temperature a score of degrees. The Galliens thus came daily to be reinvigorated with these vivifying rays, and, in that, they did nothing but imitate the few birds, which played about in the air not to return until the set of sun.

This kind of spring,—is it possible to use this word?—had a very happy influence on the inhabitants of Gallia. Hope and confidence returned to them. During the day, the disc of the sun appeared more enlarged on the horizon. During the night, the Earth appeared to grow bigger in the midst of the immutable stars. One saw the goal—it was far away still—, but it was seen. It was however only a single point in space.

That led one day Ben-Zouf to this discussion before Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff:

"Truly, they will never make me believe that the Montmartre hillock can be contained in it!"

"It is due to it. She (the Earth) contains it, however," answered Captain Servadac, "and I am well assured that we will find it there!"

"And I, too, my Captain! But, tell me, without ordering you, if the comet of Mr. Rosette had not had to return to the Earth, was there was no way to compel it?"

"No, my friend," replied Count Timascheff. "No human power can disturb the geometrical arrangement of the universe. What disorder, if everyone could alter the course of his planet! But God did not want it, and I believe He has done wisely."



The month of September arrived. It was still impossible to abandon the dark but warm retreat of the Gallien subsoil to return to the residence of Nina-Hive. The bees certainly would have been frozen in their old cells.

Fortunately and unfortunately at the same time, the volcano did not threaten to resume its activity.

Fortunately, because a sudden eruption could have surprised the Galliens in the central chimney, the only conduit reserved for the passage of lava.

Unfortunately, because the existence, relatively easy and comfortable in the heights of Nina-Hive, would have been resumed immediately, to the general satisfaction.

"Seven villainous months we passed there, my Captain!" said Ben-Zouf one day. "Did you observe our Nina during all this time?"

"Yes, Ben-Zouf, said Captain Servadac. She is a small, quite exceptional being! One might say that all the life of Gallia was focused in her heart!"

"Well, my Captain, and then afterwards?..."


"Yes, when we shall have returned to the earth, we can not abandon this dear child!"

"Mordioux! Ben-Zouf we will adopt her!"

"Bravo, Captain! You will be his father, and if you want, I will be his mother!"

"So we are married, Ben-Zouf."

"Ah! My Captain," replied the honest soldier, "for a long time we are!"

From the first days of October, the cold was almost bearable, even during the night, in the absence of any atmospheric disturbance. The distance from Gallia to the sun was triple the distance which separates the earth from its gravitational center. The temperature stood at an average of thirty to thirty-five degrees below zero. More frequent ascents were made to Nina-Hive, and even outside. The colonists ventured with impunity onto the shore. The skating was resumed on this wonderful ice that the sea gave to the skaters. It was a joy for the prisoners to leave their jail. Every day also, Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac, and Lieutenant Procope came together to recognize the state of things and discuss the "great question of the earth-landing." It was not only to approach the terrestrial sphere, it was, if possible, to avert any of the eventualities of the impact.

One of the most assiduous visitors to the former home of Nina-Hive was Palmyrin Rosette. He had lifted his telescope up again into his observatory, and there, as long as the cold weather permitted, he returned to his astronomical observations.

What was the result of these new calculations, no one asked him. He certainly would not have responded. But after a few days, his companions noticed that he appeared to be somewhat dissatisfied. He mounted, descended, remounted, re-descended the oblique tunnel of the central chimney. He kept muttering, grumbling. He was more inaccessible than ever. One or twice, Ben-Zouf—a brave man, as one knows—, deeply bewitched by these symptoms of disappointment, accosted the terrible professor. As to how he was received, that can not be told.

"It appears," he thought, "that things are not going on up there as he would like. But, triple name of a Bedouin, provided that he does not disturb the celestial mechanics, and us with it!"

However, Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Lieutenant Procope were quite entitled to wonder what could be annoying Palmyrin Rosette at this point. Had the professor thus re-examined his calculations, and were they in dissension with the new observations? In a word, did the comet not occupy in its orbit the place assigned by the previously established ephemerides, and, consequently, was it not to meet the Earth at the point and the second indicated?

That was always their greatest apprehension, and, having only the assertions Palmyrin Rosette on which to base their expectations, they had reason to be afraid at the sight of him being so upset.

In fact, the professor became gradually the most unhappy of astronomers. Obviously, his calculations were not agreeing with his observations, and a man such as he could not suffer a sharper disappointment. In sum, every time that he re-descended to his cabinet, three-quarters frozen by a too long a stay at the end of his telescope, he experienced a true attack of fury.

If it would have been possible for a fellow being to approach him at this moment, here is what he would have heard him repeating to himself:

"Malediction! What does this mean? What is it doing up there? It is not in the place that my calculations give it! The miserable thing! It is too slow! Or Newton is a mad, or it is crazy! All of this is contrary to the law of universal gravitation! Que diable! I could not deceive myself! My observations are correct, my calculations too! Ah! rascal of Satan!"

And Palmyrin Rosette held his head with both hands, and tore at his hair, which did not abound on his occiput[14]. And always, always the same result: a constant and unexplainable disagreement between calculation and observation.

"Let's see," he said, "is there a disruption in celestial mechanics? No, it is not possible! It is I who am wrong! And yet ... however ..."

Really, Palmyrin Rosette would have lost weight with the pain, if it would have been possible for him to lose weight.

Finally, if he was disappointed, everyone around him was anxious, but that did not bother him in the least.

However, this state of affairs was to have an end.

One day, October 12, Ben-Zouf, who was prowling around the great hall of Nina-Hive in which the professor was at this moment, heard a resounding cry.

Ben-Zouf ran to him.

"You have hurt yourself, perhaps?" He asked in a tone that he would have said:

"How do you do?"

"Eureka! I say you, eureka!" Palmyrin Rosette answered, tripping like a fool.

There was in his outburst at the same time both joy and rage.

"Eureka?" repeated Ben-Zouf.

"Yes, eureka! You know what that means?"


"Well then, go to the devil!"

"Fortunately," the orderly thought, "that when he does not want to answer, Mr. Rosette is very polite!"

And he left, not for the devil, but to find Hector Servadac.

"My Captain," he said, "there is some news."

"What is it?"

"The savant, well! He has 'eureka-ed'."

"He has found!..." cried Captain Servadac. "But what has he found?"

"That I do not know."

"Eh! that is what it would precisely be necessary to know!"

And Captain Servadac was more anxious than he had ever been.

Meanwhile, Palmyrin Rosette went down again towards his study and repeated to himself:

"Yes, this is it ... it can not be otherwise!... Ah! the miserable wretch!... If he is, he will pay dearly!... But will he want to confess? Never!... He should disgorge the truth!... Eh well! I will trick him ... and we will see!"

There was nothing to understand, but one thing that was clear: since that day, Palmyrin Rosette changed his way of acting towards [master]{the Jew} Isac Hakhabut. Previously, he had always avoided or abused him. Henceforth he acted very differently towards him.

Who ought to be surprised? It was certainly [master Isac]{Isac Hakhabut}, little accustomed to such advances. He saw the professor frequently descend to his dark shop. Palmyrin Rosette was interested in him, in his person, in his business. He asked him if he had sold his goods profitably, what benefit resulted from it for his chest, if he had been able to benefit from a circumstance which would perhaps never be repeated, etc, etc, and all that with the intention, which he dissimulated with great difficulty, to strangle him completely off.

Isac Hakhabut, suspicious as an old fox, only answered extremely evasively. This sudden modification in the manners of the professor in his respect did make him amazed. He was wondering whether Palmyrin Rosette did not think of borrowing money from him.

However, it is known, Isac Hakhabut, on principle, did not refuse to lend money, at a perfectly usurious rate besides. He even counted on this kind of operation to increase his wealth. But he wanted to lend only on solid signature, and—it should well be acknowledged—he saw only Count Timascheff, a rich Russian lord, with whom he could risk his goods. Captain Servadac was to be a beggar like a Gascon! As for the professor, who would ever have the idea of lending money to a professor! Therefore, master Isac held it tightly.

In addition, [the Jew]{he} was going to be required to make an employment of his money as restricted as possible, but one on which he had not counted.

In fact, at that time, he had sold to the Galliens almost all the food items that made up his cargo. He had not had the wisdom of reserving certain products for his particular consumption. Among other things, he had run short of coffee. And coffee, however sparingly used, "when there is no more, there is no more," as Ben-Zouf said.

Therefore it happened that master Isac was deprived of a drink which he could not do without, and he was forced to resort to the reserves of the general store.

Therefore, after long hesitation, he said to himself that, after all, the reserve was a communal one for all Galliens without distinction, that he had the same rights as any other, and he went to find Ben-Zouf.

"Mr. Ben-Zouf, he said in his most amiable tone, I would have a small request to make of you."

"Speak, Gobseck[15]," replied Ben-Zouf.

"I need to take a pound of coffee from the reserve for my personal use."

"One pound of coffee! Replied Ben-Zouf. How! You ask a pound of coffee?"

"Yes, Mr. Ben-Zouf."

"Oh! Oh! Now that is serious!"

"Is there no more?"

"Yes, a hundred kilos left."


"Well, old man," replied Ben-Zouf, shaking his head in a troubling way, "I do not know if I can give you that!"

"Give, Mr. Ben-Zouf," said Isac Hakhabut "give, and my heart will be delighted!"

"The celebration of your heart is totally indifferent to me!"

"But then, you would not refuse, if it were another than me ..."

"Ah! Enough is enough! It is that you are not another, you!"

"Well, Mr. Ben-Zouf?"

"Well, I will refer the matter to His Excellency the Governor-General."

"Oh! Mr. Ben-Zouf, I have no doubt that in his justice ..."

"On the contrary, old man, it is his justice which makes me fear for you!"

And the orderly left Isac Hakhabut with this really disconsolate thought.

Just then, Palmyrin Rosette, always on the watch, had arrived while these words were being exchanged between Ben-Zouf and [Isac]{the Jew}. The occasion appeared good for him to try an experiment, and therefore he broached the subject.

"Oh, master Isac," he said, "you need coffee?"

"Yes ... professor," said Isac Hakhabut.

"So you sold it all?"

"Alas! I made this mistake!"

"Diable! Coffee is necessary for you! Yes!... yes!... It warms the blood!"

"No doubt ... and in this black hole, I can not do without it!..."

"Well, master Isac, we will give you a quantity sufficient for your consumption."

"Isn't it so?, sir Professor ... although I have sold this coffee, I have a right just as any other to take some for my own use!"

"Certainly ... master Isac certainly!... And will you be needing a great quantity?"

"A pound only!... I use it so sparingly ... That will last me a long time!"

"And how will you weigh this coffee?" asked Palmyrin Rosette, who, in spite of himself, slightly accentuated this sentence.

"With my spring-balance!..." murmured the Jew.

And Palmyrin Rosette believed he heard a surprising sigh venting from the chest of [master Isac]{the Jew}.

"Yes ..." he replied, "with the spring-balance! There is no other balance here?..."

"No!.." [Isac]{the Jew} answered, perhaps regretting his sigh.

"Eh! Eh! [Master Isac]!... This will be an advantage! For a pound of coffee, we will be giving you seven!"

"Yes ... seven! That is good!"

The professor looked at [his man]{the Jew}, he stared at him. He wanted to ask him a question ... He did not dare, thinking, with reason, that [Isac]{the Jew} would not tell him the truth, which he wanted to know at all costs. However, not being able to contain his impatience, he was going to speak, when Ben-Zouf returned.

"Eh well?" asked Isac Hakhabut emphatically.

"Eh well, the Governor does not want ..." answered Ben-Zouf.

"He does not want to give me that coffee!" [Isac]{the Jew} cried.

"No, but he would like to sell you some."

"To sell some to me, [mein Gott]{God of Israel}!"

"Yes, and that's fair, since you have acquired all the money in the colony. Come, let us see the color of your pistoles!"

"To force me to buy when another ..."

"I already said you that you were not another! Do you buy, yes or no?"


"Answer, or I close the shop!"

[Isac]{the Jew} knew well that he should not joke with Ben-Zouf.

"Let us go ... I will buy," he said.


"But at what price?"

"The price at which you sold. You will not be skinned! Your skin is not worth the trouble!"

Isac Hakhabut had put his hand in his pocket and fumbled with a few pieces of silver. The professor was increasingly attentive and seemed to watch for the words from the mouth of [Isac]{the Jew}.

"How much," he said, "will you make me pay for a pound of coffee?"

"Ten francs," answered Ben-Zouf. "It is the current price in Hot-Land. But what can this matter to you, since after our return to the earth, gold will no longer have value."

"Gold no longer have value!" [Isac]{the Jew} said. "Can this happen, Mr. Ben-Zouf?"

"You will see."

"The Eternal should help me! Ten francs, a pound of coffee."

"Ten francs. Finished?"

Isac Hakhabut drew a gold coin then, looking at it in the light of the lamp, he kissed it almost to the end of his lips.

"And you will weigh with my spring-balance?" he asked in a tone so plaintive that it was suspicious.

"And with what do you want me to weigh?" replied Ben-Zouf.

Then, taking the spring-balance, he suspended a plate from its hook and poured what was necessary of the coffee so that the needle marked a pound,—[it would be seven in reality].

Isac Hakhabut followed the operation with his eyes.

"Voila!" said Ben-Zouf.

"The needle has gone right to the point?" the [merchant]{Jew} asked, bending over the circle graduated on the instrument.

"Yes, there, old Jonas!"

"Push it a little with your finger, Mr. Ben-Zouf!"

"And why is that?"

"Because ... because ..." whispered Isac Hakhabut, "because my spring-balance may not ... quite ... accurate!..."

These words were barely completed, when Palmyrin Rosette jumped at the throat of Isac. He shook him, he strangled him.

"Scoundrel!" he cried.

"Help! Me!" responded Isac Hakhabut.

The fight continued. It is true that Ben-Zouf took care not to intervene. On the contrary, he excited the combatants, he burst of laughing. For him, in truth, one was not better than other.

But at the noise of the battle, Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Lieutenant Procope came to see what was happening.

[Isac]{The Jew} and the professor were separated.

"But what is happening?" asked Hector Servadac.

"What happened," answered Palmyrin Rosette, "is that this rogue gave us a false spring-balance, a spring-balance which shows a weight higher than the actual weight!"

"Is this true, Isac?"

"Mr. governor ... yes ... no!" [he]{the Jew} answered ... " ... yes!..."

"This robber sold with false weights," repeated the professor with increasing fury, "and when I have weighed my comet with his instrument, I have obtained a weight higher with that which it really has."

"Is that true?"

"Really ... I do not know!..." mumbled Isac Hakhabut.

"Finally when I have taken this false mass for the basis for my new calculations, they have been at odds with my observations, and I had to believe that it was no longer in its place!"

"But which ... it? Gallia?"

"No! Nérina, pardieu! Our moon!"

"But Gallia?..."

"Eh! Gallia is always where it ought to be!" replied Palmyrin Rosette. "It is going straight to the earth, and us with it!... And also this accursed [Isac]{Jew}!... May God confound him!"



That was true. Since he had undertaken his honest trade of coastal traffic, Isac Hakhabut had sold with false weights. Knowing [the man]{his miserable condition}, that will not astonish anybody. But the day when the seller had become a buyer, his improbity had been turned against him {like he who spits at the sky}. The principal instrument of his fortune was this balance, a quarter false, as was recognized, thus allowing the professor to resume his calculations, and re-establish them on a correct basis.

When, on the earth, this balance marked a weight of one kilogram, the object actually weighed only seven hundred and fifty grams. Therefore, for the weight which it had indicated for Gallia, it was necessary to subtract a quarter. It is thus understood that the calculations of the professor, being based on a mass of the comet too high by a quarter, could not agree with the true positions of Nérina, since it was the mass of Gallia which influenced it.

Palmyrin Rosette, satisfied to have thrashed Isac Hakhabut conscientiously, immediately went back to finish the work with Nérina.

How much, after this scene, Isac Hakhabut was ridiculed, that is understood! Ben-Zouf did not cease repeating to him that he would be charged of selling with false weight, that he would be prosecuted, and that he would be summoned to court.

"But where and when?" [he]{the Jew} asked.

"On the earth, with our return, old rascal!" Ben-Zouf replied gracefully.

[The frightful fellow]{The Jew} had to confine himself in his dark hole, and not let himself be seen any more than the least bit possible.

Two months and half still separated the Galliens from the day when they hoped to meet the earth. Since October 7, the comet had returned to the zone of the telescopic planets, the same place where it had captured Nérina.

By November 1, half of this zone in which these asteroids revolve, whose origin is due probably due to the bursting of some planet which revolved between Mars and Jupiter, had fortunately been crossed. During this month, Gallia was going to traverse an arc of forty million leagues on its orbit, while moving closer to seventy-eight million leagues from the sun.

The temperature again became bearable,—approximately ten to twelve degrees below zero. [However, no symptom of a thaw yet appeared.] The surface of the sea remained immutably frozen, and the two ships, perched on their pedestal of ice, overhung the abyss.

It was then that the question of the English, relegated to the small island of Gibraltar, was put up for discussion. There was never any doubt that that they had survived the extreme cold of the Gallien winter with impunity.

Captain Servadac treated this question with a point of view which lived up to his generosity. He said that, despite their bad reception at the time of the visit of the Dobryna, it was advisable to resume communication with them, to bring them up to date with everything of which they were undoubtedly unaware. The return to the earth, which after all would result in a new collision, offered several extreme dangers. It was thus necessary to warn these Englishmen and to urge them to face these dangers together.

Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope shared the opinion of Captain Servadac absolutely. This therefore was a question of humanity which could not leave them indifferent.

But how to arrive, at that time, at the small island of Gibraltar?

By sea obviously, that is, taking advantage of the solid support that its frozen surface still provided.

It was, moreover, the only manner of travelling from one island to the other, because, after the thaw arrived, no other kind of communication would be possible. Indeed, one could not now count on either the schooner or the tartan. As for the steam-launch, using it for this purpose would have meant consuming the few tons of the coal that had been carefully placed in reserve in the event that the settlers should return to the island of Gourbi.

There was as well the dinghy, which had been already transformed into sledge with a sail. They knew already the conditions of speed and safety with which it had accomplished the journey from Hot-Land to Formentera.

But it needed wind to move, and the wind was felt no more on the surface of Gallia. Perhaps after the thaw, with the vapors which would develop in the summer temperature, might not new disturbances occur in the Gallien atmosphere? One might even fear this. But then the calm was absolute, and the dinghy could not get to the small island of Gibraltar.

There remained the possibility of making the trip on foot, or rather by skating. The distance was considerable,—approximately [a hundred leagues]{400 kilometres}. Could one try to cross it under these conditions?

Captain Servadac volunteered for this task. [Twenty-five to thirty leagues]{100 to 200 kilometres} per day, that is approximately [two leagues]{8 kilometres} per hour, that was nothing to embarrass a man trained in the exercise of ice-skating. In eight days, he could thus have returned to the Hot-Land after having visited Gibraltar. He did not require any more than a compass to guide him, a certain quantity of cold meat, and a small stove with spirits-of-wine to make coffee. This enterprise then, a little hazardous, appealed to his adventurous spirit.

Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope insisted on taking his place, or else to accompany him. But Captain Servadac thanked them. In the event of misfortune, it was necessary that the Count and the Lieutenant were with the Hot-Land. Without them, what would become their companions at the time of the return?

Count Timascheff had to yield. Captain Servadac would accept only one companion, his faithful Ben-Zouf. He thus asked if the thing suited him.

"If that suits me, name of a hillock for Pete's sake!" Ben-Zouf exclaimed. "If that suits me, my captain! Such an opportunity to revive the legs! And then, do you think that I would have let you go alone!"

The departure was decided for the following day November 2. Certainly, the desire to be helpful to the English, the need to fulfill a duty of humanity was the first motive which Captain Servadac obeyed. But perhaps another thought had germinated in the brain of the Gascon. He had not yet communicated it to anyone, and, undoubtedly, he wanted to say nothing to Count Timascheff.

At all events, Ben-Zouf understood that there was "some other mischief involved", when, the day before of the departure, his captain said to him:

"Ben-Zouf, would it be possible for you to find something in the general store to make a Tricolor?"

"Yes, my captain," answered Ben-Zouf.

"Well, make this flag without your being seen, put it in your bag and carry it."

Ben-Zouf did not ask anything further, and obeyed. Now, what was this project of Captain Servadac, and why did he not wish to share it with his companions?

Before saying it, it is advisable to note here a certain psychological phenomenon, which, if not belonging to the category of the celestial phenomena, was none the less very natural,—being given the weaknesses of humanity.

Since Gallia approached the earth, perhaps Count Timascheff and Captain Servadac, by an opposing movement, tended to separate one from the other. It was possible that it happened almost without their knowledge. The memory of their ancient rivalry, so completely forgotten during these twenty-two months of a common existence, returned little by little to their spirit, and from their spirit to their heart. When finding themselves on the terrestrial sphere, would not these companions of adventure become again the rivals of the past? To have been a Gallien, one is not less a man. Mme. ____ was perhaps still free,—and, indeed, it would have been insulting for her to doubt that!...

Lastly, in any case, voluntarily or not, a certain coldness had resumed between the count and the captain. One could notice, moreover, that there never had been a real intimacy between them, but only that friendship which resulted from the circumstances in which they were found.

This said, here was the project of Captain Servadac,—which perhaps would have created a new rivalry between Count Timascheff and himself. This is why he had wanted to keep it secret.

This project—it is necessary to agree—was quite worthy of the whimsical brain in which it had been born.

One knew that the English, riveted to their rock, had continued to occupy the island of Gibraltar on behalf of England. They had been right, if this station returned to the earth in good condition. At least, their occupation of it could not be disputed.

However, opposite Gibraltar stood the islet of Ceuta. Before the collision, Ceuta belonged to the Spanish and commanded one side of the strait. But Ceuta, abandoned, would return to its first occupant. Therefore, to go to the rock of Ceuta, to take possession of it in the name of France, to plant the French flag there, is what seemed ideally suited to Captain Servadac.

"Who knows," he said, "what will happen if Ceuta does not arrive properly at its destination on the earth and does not command any significant part of the Mediterranean? Well, the French flag, planted on this rock, will justify the claims of France!"

And this is why, without saying anything, Captain Servadac and his orderly Ben-Zouf left for the conquest.

It will be agreed, moreover, that Ben-Zouf was well made to understand his captain. To conquer a piece of rock for France! To play a prank on the English! It was his business!

It was after the departure, at the foot of cliff, when, farewells ended, and the two conquerors found themselves alone, that Ben-Zouf was informed of the projects of his captain.

And then it seemed that the old refrains of regiment returned to him to the memory, because, with a superb voice, he started to sing:

The sun, rising,
Throws to us its oblique rays!
Bang! Battalion Africa,
Bang! The Zéphyrs forward!

Captain Servadac and Ben-Zouf, warmly dressed, the orderly wearing his back pack and carrying the small equipment of the voyage, both with skates on their feet, launched out on the immense white surface and soon lost sight of the heights of Hot-Land.

The trip was made without incident. The time of the route was divided by a few stops, during which rest and food were taken together. The temperature had again become bearable, even during the night, and just three days after their departure, November 5, the two heroes arrived a few kilometers from the island of Ceuta.

Ben-Zouf was ebullient. If an attack had had to be given, the honest soldier only asked to be formed in column, and "even in square" to repel the enemy cavalry.

It was morning. The rectilinear direction had been accurately held by the compass and had been followed exactly from the start. The rock of Ceuta appeared at five or six kilometers, in the midst of the solar irradiation, over the western horizon.

The two adventure seekers were anxious to set foot on the rock.

Suddenly, at a distance of approximately three kilometers, Ben-Zouf, [who had a very piercing sight], stopped and said:

"My Captain, look there!"

"What is there, Ben-Zouf?"

"Something which stirs up on the rock."

"Let us advance ", answered Captain Servadac.

Two kilometers were crossed in a few minutes. Captain Servadac and Ben-Zouf, moderating their speed, stopped again.

"My Captain."

"Well, Ben-Zouf?"

"There is positively a man on Ceuta, and who is making great gestures at us. He seems to be stretching his arms like a man who awakes after having slept too long."

"Mordioux!" exclaimed Captain Servadac, "Could we have arrived too late?"

Both still advanced, and soon Ben-Zouf exclaimed:

"Ah! my Captain, it is a telegraph!"

It was, indeed, a telegraph, similar to those of semaphores, which functioned on the rock of Ceuta.

"Mordioux! the captain exclaimed, but if there is a telegraph, someone has put it there!"

"Unless," said Ben-Zouf, "on Gallia telegraphs grow as trees!"

"And if it is moving, then there is somebody making it move!"


Hector Servadac, very disappointed, looked to the north. Here, at the edge of the horizon, was the Rock of Gibraltar, and it seemed to Ben-Zouf, like him, that a second telegraph, installed at the top of the small island, answered the interpellations of the first.

"They occupied Ceuta, exclaimed Captain Servadac, and our arrival is now announced to Gibraltar!"

"Then, my Captain?..."

"Then, Ben-Zouf, we need to swallow our project of conquest and put on a brave face!"

"However, my Captain, if they are only five or six English to defend Ceuta?..."

"No, Ben-Zouf," answered Captain Servadac, "we were anticipated, and, unless my arguments persuade them to yield the place to us, there is nothing to do."

The discomfited Hector Servadac and Ben-Zouf had arrived at the foot of the rock. At this moment, a sentinel sprang out, as if he had been pushed by a spring.

"Who goes there?"

"Friends! France!"


These words were exchanged first. Then four men appeared on the upper part of the island.

"What do you want?" asked one of the men, who belonged to the garrison of Gibraltar.

"I wish to speak with your superior," answered Captain Servadac.

"The commander of Ceuta?"

"The commander of Ceuta, since Ceuta has already a commander."

"I will inform him,", answered the English soldier. A few moments after, the commander of Ceuta, in full dress, advanced to the top of the rocks of his small island.

It was Major Oliphant in person.

There was no more possible doubt. This idea that Captain Servadac had to occupy Ceuta, the English had also had, but they had carried it out before them. The rock occupied, they dug there a station which was made into a solid casemate. Food and fuel were transported there, in the boat of the commander of Gibraltar, before the sea had been solidified by the cold.

Thick smoke coming from the same rock proved that one could make a good fire during the Gallien winter and that the garrison had not suffered from its rigors. And, indeed, these English soldiers presented a reassuring plumpness, and, although he perhaps he did not want to acknowledge it, Major Oliphant had slightly fattened.

Moreover, the English of Ceuta were not too isolated, as at most four leagues or more separated them from Gibraltar. Either while crossing the old strait, or while using the telegraph, they remained in constant communication.

It even should be added that Brigadier Murphy and Major Oliphant had not needed to interrupt their game of chess. Their moves, extensively prepared, were transmitted by the telegraph.

In this, the two honorable officers imitated the two American clubs which, in 1846 [sic-1844], in spite of rain and storm, played "telegraphically" a famous game of chess between Washington and Baltimore.

It is needless to add that Brigadier Murphy and Major Oliphant were still playing the same game begun at the time of the first visit of Captain Servadac to Gibraltar.

However, the major frostily awaited what the two foreigners wanted of him.

"Major Oliphant, I believe?" said Captain Servadac by way of greeting.

"Major Oliphant, Governor of Ceuta ", answered the officer, who added:

"With whom have I the honor to speak?"

"With Captain Servadac, Governor General of Hot-Land."

"Ah! very well," the major answered.

"Sir," then replied Hector Servadac again, "would you permit me to be slightly surprised to see you installed in the capacity of commander of what remains of an ancient property of Spain?"

"I allow it to you, Captain."

"Would I dare to ask you of which right?..."

"The right of first occupier."

"It may as well be possible, major Oliphant. But do you not think that the Spaniards, who have become the guests of Hot-Land, might reclaim it in the future with some reason?..."

"I think not, Captain Servadac."

"And why, please?"

"Because they are the Spaniards who sold this rock of Ceuta freehold to England."

"By contract, Major Oliphant?"

"By contract in good and due form."

"Ah! really?"

"And they have even received in English gold, Captain Servadac, the price of this important transfer."

"So!" cried Ben-Zouf, "that is why Negrete and his companions had so much money in their pockets!"

Indeed, things had passed just as Major Oliphant said. The two officers, one recalls, had secretly made a visit to Ceuta, when the Spaniards were still there. From there this transfer of the island was easy to obtain for the benefit of England.

Therefore, the argument on which Captain Servadac counted a little fell from its own weight. There was complete disappointment of the conqueror and his chief of staff. Therefore he avoided insisting and allowing any suspicion of his projects.

"Can I know", replied Major Oliphant then, "to what I owe the honor of your visit?"

"Major Oliphant," answered Captain Servadac, "I came to render service to your companions and to you."

"Ah!" said the major in the tone of a man who does not need the services of anyone.

"Perhaps, Major Oliphant, you [are not aware of what has happened, and] are ignorant of the fact that the rocks of Ceuta and Gibraltar are coursing through the solar world on the surface of a comet?"

"A comet?" the major repeated with a smile of perfect incredulity

In a few words, Captain Servadac made known the results of the encounter of the Earth with Gallia—to which the English officer did not even raise an eyebrow. Then he added that almost certainly there were prospects for a return to earth, and that it might be advisable that the people of Gallia put their efforts together to avoid the dangers of the new collision.

"Thus, Major Oliphant, does your small garrison and that of Gibraltar want to emigrate to the Hot-Land?..."

"I could not thank you too much, Captain Servadac," answered Major Oliphant coldly, "but we cannot abandon our post."

"And why?"

"We do not have an order of our government, and the message which we intended for Admiral Fairfax still awaits the passage of the mail."

"But I repeat you that we are no longer on the earth, and that before two months the comet will again have met with the earth!"

"That does not astonish me, Captain Servadac, because England had to do everything to recover it!"

It was obvious that the major did not believe a word of what the captain told him.

"As you wish!" he resumed. "You obstinately want to keep these two stations of Ceuta and Gibraltar?"

"Obviously, Captain Servadac, since they control the entrance to the Mediterranean."

"Oh! Perhaps there will not be a Mediterranean any more, Major Oliphant!"

"There will always be the Mediterranean, if it suits England!—But forgive me, Captain Servadac. Brigadier Murphy is just sending me by telegraph his formidable move. You will allow ..."

Captain Servadac, twisting his moustache as though to tear it off, returned to Major Oliphant the salute he had received. The English soldiers returned to their casemate, and the two conquerors found themselves alone at the foot of the rocks.

"Eh well, Ben-Zouf?"

"Eh well, my Captain! With your permission, a beautiful rotten campaign we made there!"

"Let us go, Ben-Zouf."

"Let us go, my Captain ", answered Ben-Zouf, who did not think any more of singing [the refrain of the Zéphyrs of Africa].

And they returned, as they had come, without having had the opportunity to deploy their flag.

No incident announced their return, and, November 9, they stepped on onto the shore of Hot-Land.

It should be added that they arrived to meet with the furious rage of Palmyrin Rosette! And, frankly, it is necessary to acknowledge that he had some reason!

It will be recalled that the professor had taken a series of observations and calculations of Nérina. However, he had just finished them and finally had all the elements of his satellite!...

But Nérina, which should have reappeared the day before, had not returned over the horizon of Gallia. Undoubtedly captured by some more powerful asteroid, it had escaped while crossing the zone of the telescopic planets!



On his return, Hector Servadac made known to Count Timascheff the result of his visit to the English. He did not hide from him that Ceuta had been sold by the Spaniards, who, moreover, did not have any right to sell it, and he concealed only his personal projects.

It was thus agreed that, since the English did not want to come to the Hot-Land, one would do without their assistance. They were warned. Let them manage as they wish.

It thus remained to treat this serious question of the repeat encounter which was to take place between the comet and the terrestrial spheroid.

On principle, it was necessary to consider it a true miracle that, at the time of the first shock, Captain Servadac, his companions, the animals, in a word all the beings removed from the earth, had survived. That undoubtedly was due to the fact that the movement had slowly changed in consequence of unknown circumstances. If the earth had counted some victims already, that would be known later. In any case it was an unquestionable fact, that none of those who had been carried away had personally suffered from the collision,—those on Gourbi Island as well as on Gibraltar, Ceuta, Madalena and Formentera.

Would it be the same on the return? Most probably one could not count on it.

It was during the day of November 10th that this important question was discussed. Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac and Lieutenant Procope met in the excavation which served them as a communal hall. Ben-Zouf was naturally admitted to the meeting. As for Palmyrin Rosette, formally invited, he had refused to come, this question not interesting him in any manner. Since the disappearance of his dear Nérina, he could not console himself. Threatened with the loss of his comet, as he had lost his satellite, he desired nothing but to be left alone. That is what was done.

Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff, showing increasing coldness one for the other, did not let anything appear of their secret thoughts and discussed the question in the interest of all.

Captain Servadac spoke initially in these terms:

"Messieurs," he said, "today we are at the 10th of November. If the calculations of my ex-professor are right—and they must be—, it is thus in exactly fifty one days that a new meeting will take place between the comet and the earth. In preparation for this possibility, do we have some precautions to take?"

"Obviously, Captain," answered Count Timascheff; "but is it in our capacity to take them, and are we not absolutely at the mercy of Providence?"

"It is not forbidden to help ourselves, Count," responded Captain Servadac. "On the contrary."

"Do you have some idea of what one can do, Captain Servadac?"

"No, in truth."

"How is it, messieurs," said Ben-Zouf then, "that scientists like you, with all the respect that I owe you, are not able to direct this satanic comet where you want and how you want?"

"Now, we are not scientists, Ben-Zouf," answered Captain Servadac, "and, were we (scientists), we could do nothing there. See whether Palmyrin Rosette, who really is a scientist ..."

"Foul mouthed," said Ben-Zouf.

"Very well, but a scientist, whether he can prevent his Gallia from returning to the earth!"

"But for what use is science then?"

"To know, most of the time, that we still do not know all!" Count Timascheff answered.

"Messieurs," said Lieutenant Procope, "it is certain that, in this new shock, various dangers threaten us. If you would like it, well, I will enumerate them, and we shall see whether it is possible to combat them, or, at least, to mitigate their effects."

"Speak, Procope", answered Count Timascheff.

Everyone chatted so calmly about those things that really one could say that they did not care.

"Messieurs," responded Lieutenant Procope, "it is initially necessary to ask in what way this new meeting between the comet and the terrestrial sphere will occur. We will see then what there is to fear or to hope for in each possible case."

"Nothing more logical," answered Captain Servadac; "but let us not forget that the two stars are moving one towards the other, and that their speed, at the time of the shock, will be ninety thousand leagues per hour!"

"Two jolly trains!" Ben-Zouf allowed himself to add.

"Thus let us see how the shock will be carried out," Lieutenant Procope began again. The two stars will meet or obliquely or normally. In the first case, it can happen that Gallia makes only a glancing contact with the earth, like the first time, after having torn off again a few pieces of it, and then return to revolve in space. But its orbit would undoubtedly be disturbed, and we would have few chances, if we had survived, of ever seeing again our fellow human beings.

"That would suit the interests of Mr. Palmyrin Rosette, but not ours," observed the judicious Ben-Zouf..

"Then let us leave aside these assumptions," answered Count Timascheff. "We know sufficiently their advantages and disadvantages. Let us arrive at the direct shock, that is to say if, after having collided with the earth, Gallia would remain there attached to it."

"Like a wart on a face," said Ben-Zouf.

"Silence, Ben-Zouf," responded Hector Servadac..

"Yes, my Captain."

"Thus let us see," replied Lieutenant Procope, what the assumptions are that a direct shock presents. Above all, it should be admitted that the mass of the earth being much higher than that of Gallia, its speed will not be delayed in this meeting and that it will carry the comet with it.

"That is admitted," answered Captain Servadac.

"Very well, Messieurs, on the assumption of a direct shock, Gallia will approach the earth either by the part of its surface which we occupy at the equator, or by the part located at our antipodes, or, finally, by one or the other of its poles. However, in these various cases, the chances are so that not one of the living beings that it carries would be able to survive."

"Explain yourself, Lieutenant," said Captain Servadac.

"If we are, at the time of the meeting, at the colliding part of the equator, we will be crushed."

"That goes without saying," answered Ben-Zouf.

"If we are at the antipodes of this place, in addition to the certainty still to be crushed, since the speed which will animate us will be suddenly destroyed—which will be equivalent to a shock—, we have still the certainty to be asphyxiated. Indeed, the Gallien atmosphere will mix with the Earth's atmosphere, and there will be no more respirable air on the top of this mountain, one hundred leagues high, which Gallia will form on the earth."

"And if Gallia collides with the earth at one or the other of its poles?..." asked Count Timascheff.

"In this case," Lieutenant Procope answered, "we will be inevitably ejected and broken in a dreadful fall."

"Very well," said Ben-Zouf.

"I add, in the impossible case where none of these assumptions would occur, that we will be infallibly burned up."

"Burned?" said Hector Servadac.

"Yes, because, when the speed of Gallia, suddenly destroyed by the obstacle, is transformed into heat, the comet will be all or partially burnt under the influence of a temperature which will rise to several [ thousand]{million} degrees!"

All that Lieutenant Procope said was rigorously exact. His audience watched and listened to the development of these various assumptions without being otherwise astonished.

"But, Mr. Procope," said Ben-Zouf, "one question. If Gallia falls into the sea?..."

"However deep the Atlantic or the Pacific may be," answered Lieutenant Procope "—and their depth does not exceed a few leagues—, the water cushion will always be insufficient to deaden the shock. Therefore, all the effects which I indicated a few moments ago would reproduce ..."

"And even more with the addition of drowning!..." answered Ben-Zouf.

"Thus, messieurs," said Captain Servadac, "broken, drowned, crushed, asphyxiated or roasted, such is the fate which awaits us, whatever the way in which the encounter will be accomplished!"

"Yes, Captain Servadac," answered Lieutenant Procope without hesitating.

"Eh well," said Ben-Zouf, "since it is thus, I see absolutely only one thing to be done!"

"Which is?" asked Hector Servadac.

"It is to leave Gallia before the shock."

"And the means?"

"Oh! the means are quite simple!" Ben-Zouf answered quietly. "There is not!"

"Perhaps!" said Lieutenant Procope.

All the glances went on the Lieutenant, who, the head in the hands, reflected on some audacious project.

"Perhaps," he repeated, "and, as extravagant as my plan might appear to you, I believe that it will have to be carried out."

"Speak, Procope", answered Count Timascheff.

The Lieutenant remained for a few moments in a mode of deep reflection. Then:

"Ben-Zouf," he replied, "has indicated the only path that there is to take: to leave Gallia before the shock."

"Then it is possible?" asked Count Timascheff..

"Yes ... perhaps ... yes!"

"And how?"

"By means of a balloon!..."

"A balloon!" exclaimed Captain Servadac. "But it is quite worn, your balloon! Even in the novels, one does not dare any more to make use of it!"

"Please listen to me, Messieurs," replied Lieutenant Procope, wrinkling his eyebrow slightly. "On condition of knowing exactly the moment when the shock will be carried out, we can, one hour before, lift ourselves up into the atmosphere of Gallia. This atmosphere will necessarily carry us with its acquired speed; but, before the meeting, it will be able to merge with the Earth's atmosphere, and it is possible that, by a kind of slipping, the balloon might pass from the one to the other, by avoiding the direct shock, and that it will be maintained in the air, during the time of the collision."

"Well, Procope," answered Count Timascheff, "we understand you ... and what you have just said, we will do it!"

"Of a hundred chances," began again Lieutenant Procope, "we have ninety nine of them against us!"

"Ninety nine!"

"At least, because it is certain that at the time when its translatory movement will stop, the balloon will be on fire."

"It as well?" Ben-Zouf exclaimed.

"It as well as the comet," answered Procope ... "unless in this fusion between the two atmospheres ... I do not know too much ... it would be difficult for me to say ... but it would be better, it seems to me, at the moment of the shock, to have left the ground of Gallia."

"Yes! yes!" said Captain Servadac, "if there is but one good chance in a hundred thousand, we will take it! {trusting in the divine Goodness!}"

"But we do not have hydrogen to inflate a balloon ..." said Count Timascheff.

"The hot air will be enough for us," answered Procope, "because it will not be necessary to remain more than one hour in the air."

"Well," said Captain Servadac " ... a montgolfier ... it is primitive and easier to manufacture ... But the envelope?..."

"We will cut it from the sails of the Dobryna, which are a light and resistant fabric ..."

"Well spoken, Procope," answered Count Timascheff. "You really have a response to everything."

"Hurrah! Bravo!" Ben-Zouf shouted, to conclude.

It was, in truth, a bold plan which Lieutenant Procope had just proposed. However, the loss of the colonists being ensured on any other assumption, it was necessary to attempt the adventure and resolutely too. For that, it was important to know exactly, not only the hour, but the minute, and, if it were possible, the second at which the collision would occur.

Captain Servadac undertook to request this from Palmyrin Rosette, by taking all kinds of cares. Therefore, at this time, under the direction of the Lieutenant, they began the construction of the montgolfier. It was to be of rather large dimension to lift all the inhabitants of the Hot-Land, who numbered twenty-three,—because, after their refusal, there was no need to be concerned any more with the English of Gibraltar and Ceuta.

Moreover, Lieutenant Procope resolved to increase his chances by giving himself the possibility of hovering longer in the atmosphere, if after the shock, the balloon should have survived. It could happen that they had to seek a suitable place to land, and it was necessary that his vehicle did not fail. Hence, this resolution which he took to carry a certain quantity of fuel, grass or dry straw, to heat the interior air of the montgolfier. This way the first balloon pilots proceeded in earlier times.

The sails of the Dobryna had been stored at Nina-Hive. They were made of a very tight fabric, which it would be easy to make even tighter by means of a varnish. All these ingredients were in the cargo of the tartan, and consequently at the disposal of the Lieutenant. He traced carefully the template of the sections to cut out. This work was done under good conditions, and everyone got busy with the sewing of these sections,—all, including the little Nina. The Russian sailors, very used to this kind of work, showed the Spaniards how they ought to go about it, and the new workshop was not unemployed.

One says all,—but excepting the Jew, whose absence nobody regretted, and Palmyrin Rosette, who did not even want to know that they were building a montgolfier!

One month transpired in this work. Captain Servadac had not found the occasion yet to put to his ex-professor the question relative to the new meeting of the two stellar objects. Palmyrin Rosette was inaccessible. Days went by without him being seen. As the temperature during the day had become again almost bearable, he shut himself in his observatory, of which he had again taken possession, and he did not allow anyone to penetrate there. To a first overture of Captain Servadac, he had responded extremely badly. More than ever despaired of returning to earth, he did not want to be concerned with the dangers of the return, nor do anything for the common safety.

And, however, it was an essential thing to know with an extreme exactitude, this moment when the two stars would meet one with the other with a speed of twenty-seven leagues at the [second]{minute}.

Captain Servadac thus must have patience, and he had patience.

Meanwhile, Gallia continued to approach the sun gradually. The terrestrial disc grew visibly bigger to the eyes of Galliens. The comet, during November, had crossed fifty-nine million leagues, and, on the 1st of December, it had been not more than seventy-eight million leagues from of the sun.

The temperature rose considerably and caused the debacle with the thaw. It was a splendid spectacle, that of this sea which was dislocating and dissolving. One heard this "great voice of the ices", as the whalers say. On the slopes of the volcano and littoral, the first filaments of water curved capriciously. Torrents, then cascades were improvised in a few days. High snow banks melted everywhere.

At the same time, the vapors started to rise on the horizon. Little by little clouds were formed and moved quickly under the action of the winds, which had been quiet during the long Gallien winter. One could expect forthcoming atmospheric disorders, but, all things considered, it was life which returned with heat and light on the surface of the comet.

However, the two predicted accidents occurred then and caused the destruction of the Gallien navy.

At the time of the thaw of the sea, the schooner and the tartan were still one hundred feet high above the sea level. Their enormous pedestal had slightly bent and was inclined with the thaw. Its base, undermined by hotter water, as it happens with the icebergs of the Arctic sea, threatened to disappear. It was impossible to save both ships, and it was up to the montgolfier to replace them.

It was during the night from the 12th to the 13th of December that the collapse occurred. In consequence of a rupture of balance, the solid mass of ice collapsed in a solid block. It was the end of the Hansa and Dobryna, which broke up on the reefs of the littoral.

This misfortune, which they were waiting for and they could not prevent, did not impress the colonists painfully. One could say something from the Earth had just gotten lost.

To say what the lamentations were of Isaac Hakhabut facing this instantaneous destruction of his tartan, the curses which he launched against the bad race, that is impossible. He accused Captain Servadac and his lot. If they had not compelled him to take the Hansa to this cove of the Hot-Land, if they had left it at the port of Gourbi Island, all this would not have happened! They had acted against his will, they were responsible, and, on return to the earth, he could take legal action against those who had caused him such damage!

"Mordioux!" exclaimed Captain Servadac, "stop that, [Master Isaac], or I will put you in irons!"

Isaac Hakhabut kept silent and returned to his hole.

On the 14th of December the montgolfier was completed. Carefully sewn and varnished, it was of a remarkable solidity. The net had been manufactured with the light ropes of the Dobryna. The balloon car, made from trays of wicker which formed the compartments of the hold on board the Hansa, was sufficient to contain twenty-three people. It was, after all, but one short ascension,—time to slide with the atmosphere of Gallia into the Earth's atmosphere. They needed not look for comforts.

There remained always this question of the hour, minute and of second, concerning which the off-putting, stubborn Palmyrin Rosette had not yet pronounced.

At that time, Gallia re-cut the orbit of Mars, which was at a distance of fifty-six million leagues, approximately. There was thus nothing to fear.

However, this day, December 15, during the night, Galliens could believe that their last hour had arrived. A kind of "earth" tremor occurred. The volcano was agitated as if it had been shaken by some subterranean convulsion. Captain Servadac and his companions believed that the comet was dislocating, and they left the shaking massif in all haste.

At the same time, cries were heard in the observatory, and the unfortunate professor was seen appearing on the rocks, a piece of his broken telescope in his hand.

But they did not occupy themselves with comforting him. On this dark night, a second satellite appeared revolving around Gallia.

It was a piece of their own comet!

Under the action of an interior expansion, it had split in two, as the comet Gambart had done formerly. An enormous fragment, detached from itself, had been launched into space, and it carried with it the English of Ceuta and the English of Gibraltar!



What could be the consequences of this serious event from the point of view of Gallia? Captain Servadac and his companions did not yet dare to answer this question.

The sun returned promptly on the horizon, and all the more quickly as the splitting had initially produced this result: if the sense of the rotational movement of Gallia had not been modified, if the comet was still moving on its axis from east to west, the duration of this diurnal rotation had decreased by half. The interval between two risings of the sun was no more than six hours instead of twelve. [Six]{Three} hours after having appeared on the horizon, the radiant star was setting on the opposite horizon.

"Mordioux!" Captain Servadac had said, "that makes a year of two thousand eight hundred days for us!"

"There will never be enough saints for this calendar there!" Ben-Zouf had replied.

And in fact, if Palmyrin Rosette wanted to reapportion his calendar according to the new duration of the Gallien days, he would come to speak about the 238th of June or the 325th of December!

As for this piece of Gallia which carried the English and Gibraltar, it was manifestly visible that it did not revolve around the comet any more. It receded from it, on the contrary. But had it swept along with it an unspecified portion of the sea and atmosphere of Gallia? Were there sufficient conditions of habitability? And, in finally, would it ever return to the earth?

On would know eventually.

What were to be the consequences of the splitting on the course of Gallia? That is what the Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac and Lieutenant Procope had wondered first of all. They had initially sensed an increase in their muscular forces and confirmed a new reduction of gravity. The mass of Gallia having decreased in a notable proportion, would not its speed be modified, and could one not fear that a retard or an advance in its revolution might make it miss the earth?

That would have been an irreparable misfortune!

But had the speed of Gallia varied, even a little? Lieutenant Procope did not think so. However he did not dare to express an opinion, not having sufficient knowledge in these matters.

Only Palmyrin Rosette could answer this question. It was thus necessary, in one way or another, by persuasion or by force, to oblige him to speak, and to say at the same time what was the precise hour at which the meeting would take place.

Initially, during the following days, one could note that the professor was of an unbearable mood. Was it because of the loss of his famous telescope, or could not one rather conclude this from it: that the splitting had not reduced the speed of Gallia, and that, consequently, it would meet the earth at the same precise time as originally computed. Indeed, if, in consequence of the separation, the comet had advanced or had retarded, if the return had been compromised, the satisfaction of Palmyrin Rosette would have been such that he would not have been able to contain it. Since his joy did not overflow, it must have been because he did not have any reason to be merry,—at least on this count.

Captain Servadac and his companions thus counted on this remark, but that was not enough. It was necessary to tear out his secret from this hedgehog.

Finally, Captain Servadac succeeded. Here then are the circumstances:

It was on the 18th of December. Palmyrin Rosette, exasperated, had just sustained a violent discussion with Ben-Zouf. The latter had insulted the professor in the person of his comet! What a star, my faith, which was dislocated like a child's toy, which burst like a wineskin, and which was split like a dry nut! Much like living on a shell, on a bomb, whose fuse is lit! And so on. In short, [one easily imagines the things which Ben-Zouf had been able to embroider on this topic]{Hector Servadac's orderly went as far as to say so much and such things about Gallia that Palmyrin Rosette did not burst out raging mad, like a firecracker, because of, one would say, a miracle of the divine Providence}. The two interlocutors had thrown one Gallia, the other Montmartre, to the opponent's head.

It was by chance it happened that Captain Servadac intervened at the most heated point of the discussion. Was this an inspiration from above? but he said that since sweetness did not succeed with Palmyrin Rosette, perhaps violence would act more effectively, and he took the part of Ben-Zouf.

Great anger from the professor, which resulted instantly in the most sour words.

Anger, but pretended anger, from Captain Servadac, who finished by saying:

"M. Professor, you have a freedom of language which is not agreeable to me and which I am determined not to suffer any more! You do not remember enough that you are speaking to the governor general of Gallia!"

"And you," counteracted the irascible astronomer, "you forget too much that you are responding to its owner!"

"It does not matter, M. Professor! Your rights of ownership are, after all, very questionable!"


"And since it is impossible for us, right now, to return to the earth, you will conform from now on to the laws which govern Gallia!"

"Ah! really!" answered Palmyrin Rosette, "I will have to subject myself in the future."


"Now especially that Gallia will never be able to return to the earth?..."

"And that, consequently, are we are destined to live there eternally," answered Captain Servadac.

"And why should Gallia not return again to the earth?" asked the professor with an accent of utter contempt.

"Because since it has separated," answered Captain Servadac, "its mass decreased, and that, consequently, a change may have occurred in its speed."

"And who said that?"

"Me, everyone!"

"Well, Captain Servadac, you and everyone, you are ..."

"M. Rosette!"

"Ignoramuses, stupid asses, who do not know anything about celestial mechanics!"


"Nor with the most elementary physics ..."

"Mister Rosette!..."

"Ah! bad pupil!" the professor began again, whose anger reached a fever pitch. "I have not forgotten that you formerly dishonored my class!..."

"It is too much!..."

"That you were the shame of Charlemagne!..."

"You will keep silent, or else ..."

"No, I will not keep myself silent, and you will listen to me, whatever kind of captain you are! Really! What physicists! Because the mass of Gallia had decreased, they reasoned that that could modify its tangential velocity! As if this speed did not depend solely on its original speed combined with the solar attraction! As if the disturbances were not obtained without taking account of the masses of the disturbed stars! Are the masses of comets known? No! Are their disturbances calculated? Yes! Ah! you make me take pity!"

The professor flew into a rage. Ben-Zouf, taking the anger of Captain Servadac seriously, told him:

"Do you want me to break him in two, my Captain, that I split him like his rotten comet?"

"Well, you only touch me!" Palmyrin Rosette exclaimed while straightening up to his small height.

"Sir," retorted Captain Servadac vividly, "I will be able to make you see reason!"

"And me, to prosecute you for threats and assaults before the courts of competent jurisdiction!"

"Courts of Gallia?"

"No, sir Captain, but those of the earth!"

"Nonsense! The earth is far!" replied Captain Servadac.

"However far it is," Palmyrin Rosette exclaimed, carried beyond any measurement, "we anyway will cut the edge of its orbit in the ascending node, on the night of 31st December to 1st of January, and we will arrive there at two hours forty-seven minutes thirty-five and six tenths seconds of the morning!..."

"My dear professor," answered Captain Servadac with a gracious salute, "I could not ask any more of you!"

And he left Palmyrin Rosette, absolutely taken aback, to which Ben-Zouf duteously addressed a salute none the less gracious than that of his captain.

Hector Servadac and his companions knew finally what they had so much interest to know. At two hours forty-seven minutes thirty-five and six tenths of a seconds in the morning the return would transpire.

So, still [fifteen]{thirteen} days terrestrial, that is [thirty-two]{twenty-six} Gallien days of the old calendar, or [sixty-four]{fifty-two} of the new!

Meanwhile, the preparations for the departure were achieved with unparalleled zeal. Everyone was in a rush to leave Gallia. The montgolfier of Lieutenant Procope seemed to be a certain means of rejoining the terrestrial sphere. To glide with the Gallien atmosphere into the Earth's atmosphere; that appeared to be the easiest thing in the world. One forgot the thousand dangers of this situation without precedent in aerostatic voyages! Nothing was more natural! And, however, Lieutenant Procope repeated with reason that the montgolfier, abruptly stopped in its translatory movement, would be burned with all those which it carried,—lacking a miracle. Captain Servadac showed himself, intentionally, filled with enthusiasm. As for Ben-Zouf, he had always wanted to go for a walk in a balloon. He was thus at the height of his wishes.

Only they, Count Timascheff, colder, and Lieutenant Procope, more reserved, considered all the dangers that this attempt offered. But they were ready for everything.

At this time, the sea, delivered from its ice floes, was become again navigable. The steam-launch was put in commission, and, with what remained of the coal, they made several voyages to Gourbi island.

Captain Servadac, Procope and some Russians took the first voyage. They found the island, the gourbi, the station, respected by this long winter. Some streams ran on the surface of the ground. The birds, having left the Hot-Land quickly, had returned to this fertile piece of land, where they saw again the greenery of the meadows and the trees. New plants appeared under the influence of this equatorial heat of the three hour days. The sun poured onto them its perpendicular rays with an extraordinary intensity. It was the extreme summer, succeeding almost suddenly the winter.

It was on Gourbi island they harvested the grass and the straw which were to be used for inflating the montgolfier. If this enormous aircraft had not been so cumbersome, perhaps they would have transported it by sea to Gourbi Island. But it appeared preferable to leave from Hot-Land and to bring the fuel there intended to operate the rarefaction of the air.

Already, for their daily needs, they burned wood coming from the debris of the two vessels. When it was a question of thus using the boards of the tartan, Isac Hakhabut wanted to be opposed. But Ben-Zouf told him that they would make him pay fifty thousand francs for his place in the car, if he so much as opened his mouth.

[Isac Hakhabut]{The avaricious Jew} sighed and was silent.

The 25th of December arrived. All preparations for departure were completed. [Christmas]{The anniversary of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ} was celebrated as they had celebrated one year before, but with a stronger religious feeling. As for the next New Year's Day, it was on earth that all these good people hoped to celebrate it, and Ben-Zouf went so far as promising beautiful New Year's gifts to the young Pablo and to the little girl.

"Look," he said to them "it, it is as if you held them!"

Although this is perhaps difficult to accept, as the supreme moment approached, Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff thought about anything else but the dangers of the landing. The coldness that they showed was not feigned. These two years they had just passed together far from the earth, it was for them like a forgotten dream, and they were going to be found on the ground of reality, opposite one another. A charming image was placed between them and prevented them from seeing themselves as before.

And, at this point in time the thought came to Captain Servadac to complete this famous rondo, whose last quatrain had remained unfinished. Some verses more, and this delicious small poem would be complete. It was a poet which Gallia had removed from the earth, it would be a poet that Gallia would return to it!

And, meanwhile, Captain Servadac reviewed again all his unfortunate rhymes in his head.

As for the other inhabitants of the colony, Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope were anxious to re-visit the earth, and the Russians had only one thought: to follow their Master everywhere where he would like to lead.

The Spanish had done so well on Gallia, they would have readily passed the remainder of their days there. But in the end Negrete and his compatriots would not see again the plains of Andalusia without some pleasure.

For Pablo and Nina, they were delighted to return with all their friends, but on the condition that they will never have to break up.

There remained only one dissatisfied person, the furious Palmyrin Rosette. He did not improve his temper. He swore that he would not embark in the car. No! he claimed never to give up his comet. He continued day and night his astronomical observations. Ah! how much his regrettable telescope was missing for him! Here is where Gallia was going to penetrate this narrow zone of shooting stars! Were not phenomena to be observed there, was not some discovery to be made?

Palmyrin Rosette, desperate, then employed a heroic means by increasing the pupil of his eyes, in order to replace somewhat the optical power of his telescope. He subjected himself to the action of the belladonna, an ingredient which he borrowed from the pharmacy of Nina-Hive, and then he observed, he observed until he was going blind! But, although he had thus increased the intensity of the light which painted his retina, he did not see anything, he did not discover anything!

The last days passed in a feverish excitement of which nobody was free. Lieutenant Procope supervised the last details. The two lower masts of the schooner had been planted on the beach and were used as a support for the enormous montgolfier, not yet inflated, but covered with the network of its net. The car was there, sufficient to contain its passengers. Some goatskin bottles, attached to its sides, were to enable it to float a certain time, in case the montgolfier would land at sea, close to a littoral. Obviously, if it fell on the open ocean, it would sink soon with all those which it carried, unless some ship was at that point for the rescue.

The 26, 27, 28, 29 and December 30 passed. There were no more than [forty-eight]{twenty-seven} terrestrial hours to pass on Gallia.

The 31st of December arrived. Still twenty-four hours, and the montgolfier, supported by the hot air rarefied in its sides, would glide into the Gallien atmosphere. It is true that this atmosphere was less dense than that of the earth; but it should be also considered that attraction being less, the apparatus would be less heavy to lift.

Gallia was then located at forty million leagues from the sun, a distance a little greater than that which separates the sun from the earth. It advanced with an excessive speed towards the terrestrial orbit which it was going to cut at its ascending node, precisely at the point of the ecliptic which the spheroid would be occupying.

As for the distance which separated comet from the earth, it was not more than two million leagues. However, the two stars going one towards the other, this distance would be crossed at a rate of eighty-seven thousand leagues per hour. Gallia by making fifty-seven thousand, and the earth twenty-nine thousand, approximately.

Finally, at two o'clock in the morning, the Galliens prepared to leave. The meeting would take place within forty-seven minutes and thirty-five seconds.

As a result of the modification of the rotational movement of Gallia on its axis, it was day then,—day also on the side of the terrestrial globe where the comet would collide.

Since one hour ago, the inflation of the montgolfier was complete. It had succeeded perfectly. The enormous apparatus, being balanced between the masts, was ready to leave. The car, attached to the net, awaited its passengers.

Gallia was seventy-five thousand leagues from the earth.

Isac Hakhabut, the first, took his seat in the car.

But, at this time, Captain Servadac noticed that a belt, enormously inflated, girded the waist of the Jew.

"What is that?" asked he.

"That, Master governor," answered Isac Hakhabut, "it is my modest fortune which I carry with me!"

"And how much does it weigh, your modest fortune?"

"Oh! about thirty kilos only."

"Thirty kilos, and our montgolfier has only the sufficient ascensional force to lift us! Disencumber yourself, Master Isac, of this useless burden."

"But, Mister governor ..."

"Useless, I say to you, since we cannot thus overload the car!"

"God of [the universe]{Israel}!" exclaimed [Isac]{the Jew}, "all my fortune, all my good, so painfully amassed!"

"Eh! Master Isac, you know well that your gold will no longer have any value on the earth, since Gallia is worth two hundred forty-six sextillions!..."

"But, his lordship, by pity!..."

"Let us go, Mathathias," said Ben-Zouf then, "deliver us from your presence or from your gold—you choose!"

And {the} unhappy [Isac]{Jew} had to be lightened of his enormous belt, in the midst of the lamentations and abjurations of which one cannot even try to give an idea.

As to Palmyrin Rosette, it was a very different matter. The raging scientist claimed he would never leave the core of his comet. It was to tear him off from his domain! Moreover, this montgolfier, it was an absurdly imagined apparatus! The passage from one atmosphere to another could not take place without the balloon flaming like a simple sheet of paper! There was less danger to remain on Gallia, and in the case where, just in case, Gallia would only graze the earth, at least Palmyrin Rosette would continue to revolve with it! Lastly, a thousand reasons accompanied by imprecations furious or grotesque,—such as threats to condemn the student Servadac with punitive assignments.

At any event, the professor was introduced the second into the car, but was bound up and restrained by two robust sailors. Captain Servadac, well determined not to leave him on Gallia, had embarked him this way, a little lively.

It had been necessary to give up the two horses and the goat of Nina! It was a heartbreak for the captain, Ben-Zouf and the small girl, but one could not take them. Of all the animals, only the pigeon of Nina had a reserved place. Who knows, moreover, if this pigeon would not be used as messenger between the passengers of the car and some point on the terrestrial surface?

Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope embarked on an invitation of the captain.

He still trod the Gallien ground with his faithful Ben-Zouf.

"Go, Ben-Zouf, in your turn," he said.

"After you, my Captain!"

"No. I must remain the last on board, as a commander who is forced to give up his ship!"

"However ..."

"Do it, I say to you."

"By obedience, then!" Ben-Zouf.

Ben-Zouf stepped across the edge of the car. Captain Servadac took his seat there after him.

The last bonds were then cut, and the montgolfier rose majestically into the atmosphere.



The montgolfier reached an altitude of two thousand five hundred meters. Lieutenant Procope resolved to maintain it in this zone. A stove made of wire of iron, suspended on the lower appendix of the apparatus and charged with dry grass, could be lit easily and to preserve the interior air at the degree of desired rarefaction so that the montgolfier did not suddenly fall.

The passengers of the car looked under them, around them, above them.

Below extended a large portion of the Gallien Sea, which seemed to form a concave basin. In the north, an isolated point, was the island of Gourbi.

In vain one had sought, in the west, the small islands of Gibraltar and Ceuta. They had disappeared.

To the south stood the volcano, overlooking the coast and the vast territory of the Hot-Land. This peninsula was connected to the continent, which framed the Gallien Sea. Everywhere this strange aspect, this lamellate texture, then iridescent under the solar rays. Everywhere this mineral matter of gold telluride, which only seemed to constitute the frame of the comet, the hard core of Gallia.

Above the car, above the horizon, which seemed to have been raised with the upward movement of the montgolfier, the sky appeared with an extreme purity. But towards the North-West, in opposition with the sun, revolved a new star, less than a star, less than an asteroid,—which would be a kind of bolide. It was the fragment which an interior force had ejected from the sides of Gallia. This enormous block moved away according to a new trajectory, and its distance was measured then by several thousand leagues. It was not very visible, moreover; but, come the night, it would have appeared like a luminous point in space.

Finally, above the car, a little obliquely, appeared the terrestrial disc in all its splendor. It seemed to be rushing toward Gallia and covered a considerable portion of the sky.

This disc, splendidly lit, dazzled the eye. Its distance was already too short relatively for it to be possible to distinguish the two poles. Gallia was approaching it from a distance less than half that of the moon at its average distance, which was decreasing with each minute in an enormous proportion. Various spots shone on its surface, the ones with a glare, they were the continents; the others, darker, indicating they absorbed the solar rays, they were the oceans. Above, large white bands moved slowly, which one noticed to be dark on their opposite face: they were the clouds spread out in the terrestrial atmosphere.

But soon, with such a speed of twenty-nine leagues a second, the somewhat vague aspect of the terrestrial disc took shape more clearly. The vast coastal strips were detached, the reliefs were accentuated. Mountains and plains were no longer confused. The flat map became rugged, and it seemed to the observers in the car that they were leaning on a chart in relief.

At two hours twenty-seven minutes in the morning, the comet was not but thirty thousand leagues from the terrestrial spheroid. The two stars were flying one towards the other. At two hours thirty-seven minutes, there still remained fifteen thousand leagues to cross.

The broad outlines of the disc were distinguished definitely then, and three cries escaped from Lieutenant Procope, from Count Timascheff and from Captain Servadac:




And they were not mistaken. The earth turned towards Gallia this face where the European continent was spread out, in full midday. The configuration of each country was easily recognizable.

The passengers of the car looked with a deep emotion at this earth ready to absorb them. They dreamed only of landing and no more with the dangers of the landing. They were finally going to return to this humanity which they had believed never to see again.

Yes, it was indeed Europe which was spread out plainly under their eyes! They saw its various States with the odd configuration that nature or the International Conventions had given them.

England, a lady who walks towards the east, in her dress with the tormented folds and her head covered with islets and islands.

Sweden and Norway, a splendid lion, showing its spine of mountains and springing on Europe from its hyperboreal regions.

Russia, an enormous polar bear, the head turned towards the Asian continent, the left leg pressed on Turkey, the right leg on the Caucasus.

Austria, a large cat wound into a ball and sleeping a restless sleep.

Spain, deployed like a flag at the end of Europe and where Portugal seems to form the yacht.

Turkey, a cock not submitting, grasping one claw on the Asian coast, the other clenching Greece.

Italy, an elegant and fine boot which seems to juggle with Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica.

Prussia, a formidable axe deeply inserted into the German empire and whose sharp edge brushed against France.

France finally, a vigorous chest, with Paris at its heart.

Yes, all that was seen, was felt. Emotion was in the body of all. But however a comic note burst out in the midst of this general impression.

"Montmartre!" cried Ben-Zouf.

And it would have been unnecessary to tell the orderly of Captain Servadac that he could not see from so far his favorite hillock!

As for Palmyrin Rosette, his head leaning out of the car, he had glances only for this abandoned Gallia, which floated at two thousand five hundred meters below him. He did not want to even see this earth which recalled him to it, and he observed only his comet, vividly illuminated in the general irradiation of space.

Lieutenant Procope, stop watch in his hand, counted the minutes and the seconds. The fire, revived from time to time by his order, maintained the montgolfier in the desirable zone.

However, few people spoke in the car. Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff observed the earth avidly. The montgolfier, in relation to it, was a little on the side, but behind Gallia, that is to say the comet was to precede the aerostatic apparatus in its fall,—favorable circumstance, since this one, while slipping into the Earth's atmosphere, would not have to carry out an end to end reversal.

But where would it fall? Would this be on a continent? And, in this case, would this continent offer some resources? Would the communications be easy with an inhabited portion of the sphere?

Would it be on an ocean? And, in this case, could one count on the miracle of a ship, coming to save the shipwrecked men at sea?

{Yes, the passengers, who, except the German Isac Hakhabut, were all Christians, trusted the mercy of God.}

So many dangers on all sides, and Count Timascheff, had he not been right to say that his companions and himself were absolutely in the hand of God?

"Two hours forty-two minutes," said Lieutenant Procope in the midst of the general silence.

Five minutes thirty-five and six tenths seconds still, and the two stars would collide!... They were at less than eight thousand leagues from each other. Lieutenant Procope observed that the comet followed a direction a little oblique to the earth. The two moving objects did not travel on the same line. However, one was to believe that there would be sudden and complete stop of the comet, and not a simple touch, as had been carried out two years before. If Gallia did not collide with the terrestrial sphere normally, nevertheless, "it would be stick to it tightly", said Ben-Zouf.

Finally, if none the passengers of the car were to survive this meeting, if the montgolfier, captured in the atmospheric swirls at the time when the two atmospheres would be amalgamated, were to be torn and precipitated onto the ground, if none of these Galliens were to return among their fellow men, were the memories of themselves, their passage on the comet, their pilgrimage in the solar world destined to be forever destroyed?

No! Captain Servadac had an idea. He tore a sheet of his notebook. On this sheet, he registered the name of comet, that of the pieces removed from the terrestrial sphere, the names of his companions, and finally, then he signed his name.

Then he required of Nina the carrier pigeon that she held pressed to her chest.

After having kissed it tenderly, the little girl gave up her pigeon, without hesitation.

Captain Servadac took the bird, attached his note to its neck, and launched it into space.

The pigeon descended while circling in the Gallien atmosphere, and stayed in a zone less elevated than the montgolfier.

Another two minutes, and approximately three thousand two hundred leagues! The two stars were going to collide with a speed three times higher than that which propels the earth along the ecliptic.

Needless to add that the passengers of the car did not feel anything of this appalling speed, and their apparatus seemed to remain absolutely motionless in the medium of the atmosphere which swept it along.

"Two hours forty-six minutes," said Lieutenant Procope.

The distance was reduced to seventeen hundred leagues. The earth seemed to grow hollow like a vast funnel below the comet. One could have said that it opened to receive it!

"Two hours forty-seven minutes ", said Lieutenant Procope once again.

Only thirty-five and six tenth seconds, and a speed of two hundred and seventy leagues a second!

Finally, a kind of quivering was heard. It was the Gallien air which the earth decanted, and with it the montgolfier, stretched to make one believe that it was going to break!

All were holding on to the sides of the car, terrified, frightened ...

Then the two atmospheres merged. An enormous cluster of clouds was formed. Vapors accumulated. The passengers of the car saw nothing either above or below them. It seemed to them that an immense flame enveloped them, that the point of support was missing under their feet, and without knowing how, without being able to explain it, they found themselves on the terrestrial ground. It was in a faint that they had left the sphere, it was in a faint that they returned there!

As to the balloon, no trace!

At the same time, Gallia fled obliquely along the tangent, and, against all predictions, after having only just brushed against the terrestrial sphere, it disappeared into the eastern part of the world.



"Ah! my Captain, Algeria!"

"And Mostaganem, Ben-Zouf!"

Such were the two exclamations which escaped at the same time from the mouth of Captain Servadac and that of his orderly, as soon as their companions and they had regained consciousness. By a miracle, impossible to explain like all miracles, they were healthy and safe.

"Mostaganem! Algeria!" Captain Servadac and his orderly had said. And they could not be mistaken, having been during several years in garrison in this part of the province.

They thus returned almost to the place from which they had left, after a voyage of two years throughout the solar world!

An astonishing coincidence—well is it a coincidence, since Gallia and the earth met at the same second on the same point of the ecliptic?—restored them almost to their starting point. They were not more than two kilometers from Mostaganem! Half an hour later, Captain Servadac and all his companions made their entry into the town.

That which had to appear surprising to them, it is that all appeared to be calm on the surface of the earth. The Algerian population was attending quietly to its ordinary occupations. The animals, by no means disturbed, grazed on some grass a little damp from the dew of January. It should be approximately eight o'clock in the morning. The sun arose on its accustomed horizon. Not only it did not seem that nothing abnormal had transpired on the terrestrial sphere, but also that nothing abnormal had been expected by its habitants.

"Well!" said Captain Servadac, "thus they were not warned of the arrival of the comet?"

"It is necessary to think that, my Captain," answered Ben-Zouf. "And I had counted on such a triumphal entry!"

Very obviously, the shock of a comet had not been awaited. Otherwise, the panic would have been extraordinary in all the parts of the globe, and its inhabitants would have believed themselves closer to the end of the world that in the year 1000!

At the gate of Mascara, Captain Servadac precisely met his two comrades, the commandant of the 2nd riflemen and the Captain of 8th artillery. He fell literally into their arms.

"You, Servadac!" the commandant exclaimed.


"And where are you coming from, my poor friend, after this inexplicable absence?"

"I would like to tell you, my commandant, but if I did so, you would not believe me!"

"However ..."

"Bah! my friends! Grasp the hand of a comrade who did not forget you, and put it that I have had only a dream!"

And Hector Servadac, no matter what they would do, did not want to say more. However, a question was still addressed by him to the two officers:

"And of Mme de ___ ...?"

The commandant of the riflemen, who understood, did not let him finish.

"Married, married again, my dear!" he said. "What do you expect? The absent ones are always wrong ..."

"Yes!" answered Captain Servadac, "wrong to travel for two years in the land of chimeras!"

Then, turning towards Count Timascheff:

"Mordioux! Count," said he, "you heard! In truth, I am delighted not to have to fight a duel with you."

"And me, Captain, I am happy to able, without ulterior motive, to cordially shake your hand!"

"What also suits me," murmured Hector Servadac, "is not to have to finish my horrible rondo!"

And the two rivals, who did not have any more a reason to be rivals, sealed, by giving each other their hand, a friendship that nothing should ever break.

Count Timascheff, in agreement with his companion, was as reserved as he on the extraordinary events which they had witnessed, and of which most unexplainable were their departure and their arrival. What appeared absolutely inexplicable to them is that all was in its place on the Mediterranean coast.

Definitely, it would be preferable to remain silent.

The following day, the small colony separated. The Russians returned to Russia with Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope, the Spaniards to Spain, where the generosity of the Count was to never to put them in need of shelter. All these good people did not leave without lavishing the marks of the most sincere friendship.

In what relates to Isac Hakhabut, ruined by the loss of the Hansa, ruined by the abandonment which he had had to make of his gold and his money, he disappeared. The truth obliges one to acknowledge that nobody asked for him.

"The old rascal," said Ben-Zouf one day, "he is probably exhibiting himself in America as a ghost returning from the solar world!"

It remains to speak about Palmyrin Rosette.

That one, no consideration, one will believe it easily, had been able to make him silent! Therefore, he had spoken!... His comet was denied to him, no astronomer had ever seen it on the earth's horizon. It was not registered with the catalogue of the Annual Directory. Up to which point the rage overcame the irascible professor it can hardly be imagined. Two years after its return, he published a voluminous memoir which contained, along with the elements of Gallia, the account of the personal adventures of Palmyrin Rosette.

Thus, opinions were divided among the savants of Europe. Some, in great number, were against it. Others, in small number, were for.

A response to this memoir—and it was probably the best than one could make of it—reduced all the work of Palmyrin Rosette to its just deserts, while entitling it:

Story of an hypothesis.

This impertinence carried the anger of the professor to a peak, who then claimed to have reviewed, orbiting in space, not only Gallia, but the fragment of the comet which had carried the thirteen English persons into the infinity of the sidereal universe! Never was he to be consoled that he was not to be their travelling companion!

Finally, whether or not they had really achieved this incredible exploration of the solar world, Hector Servadac and Ben-Zouf remained more than ever, one the captain, the other the orderly, whom nothing could ever separate.

One day, they were walking on the hill of Montmartre, and, sure that no-one heard them, they discussed their adventures.

"It is perhaps not true, all the same!" said Ben-Zouf.

"Mordioux! [I will end up believing it!]{Will you make me think I have dreamed?}" [answered]{smiled} Captain Servadac.

As for Pablo and Nina, adopted, one by Count Timascheff, the other by Captain Servadac, they were raised and educated under their direction.

One fine day, Colonel Servadac, whose hair was beginning to gray, married the young Spaniard, now become a fine young man, to the little Italian, now become beautiful girl. Count Timascheff himself had wanted to provide the dowry for Nina {which did not amuse anyone given his love to his adopted daughter, his proverbial generosity and his immense fortune}.

And that done, the young married couple was not the less happy, for not having been the Adam and Eve of a new world.

{Pablo and Nino lived happily, as should live those who, loving each other with all their heart, see love sanctified by marriage.}

End of the second and final part.


[1] Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier (March 11, 1811—September 23, 1877), French astronomer and mathematician who, along with Adam, predicted the location of the new planet Neptune in 1846—NMW.

[2] There is a difference of eleven days between the French and Russian calendars.

[3] Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) French dramatist, author of Le Cid.—NMW

[4] Mordioux! Literally "By the death of the Lord!"; Gosh! Literally "God's death!" for an English equivalent—NMW

[5] This temperature of 54° F. would seem almost balmy in many winter states of the US.—NMW

[6] Kabyle—a person from the territory of Kabylie; also the language spoken in that territory; Kabylie—a part of Algeria, east of Algiers, in the Department of Algiers and Constantine, divided into Grands Kabylie and Petite Kabylie. The Djura-djura (Council of Notables) is located in Grand Kabylie. The Kabyles are sedentary and agricultural refugees from the time of the invasions, and have a remarkable social organization. Petit Larousse, Paris: 1953—NMW

[7] Mordioux! Literally "By the death of the Lord!"—NMW

[8] anfractuosity—winding passage—OED

[9] asteroids—NMW

[10] cabinet—a small private room or study—OED

[11] Nearest equivalent "Gosh!" "God's death!"

[12] See The Hunt for the Meteor; (a sequel?) In which a comet of gold again strikes the Earth—NMW

[13] fabulist—Composer of fables or apologues; a liar—OED

[14] occiput: back of the head—OED

[15] Gobseck: main character, an usurer, in a book of the same name by Balzac—NMW