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Travels and Adventures Through the Solar System.

Munro edition, 1877, Prepared and edited by Norman M. Wolcott, Choptank Press, St. Michaels, MD, October 2007
© 2007-2008


Author of "Mysterious Island;" "Twenty Thousand
Leagues Under the Sea;" "From the Earth to the
Moon;" "Trip Round the Moon;" "The English
at the North Pole" and "The Field of Ice;"




"No, captain, it does not suit me to give you my place!"

"I regret it, count, but your pretensions do not affect mine!"



"Meanwhile I will give you to understand that I am, undoubtedly, the first in point of time!"

"And I reply to you that in such matters priority can create no right."

"I well know how to force you to give me your place, captain."

"I do not believe it, count."

"I imagine a sword thrust—"

"Not more than a pistol shot—"

"Here is my card!"

"Here is mine!"

After these words, which were uttered like the parry and thrust in fencing, two cards were exchanged between the two adversaries.

On one was:

"Captain on the Staff,

On the other:

"On board the schooner 'Dobryna.'"

At the moment of separating:

"When will my seconds meet yours?" asked Count Timascheff.

"To-day, at two o'clock, if you are willing," replied Hector Servadac. "At headquarters."

"At Mostaganem?"

"At Mostaganem."

That said, Count Timascheff and Captain Servadac courteously saluted each other.

Just as they were going to depart a last observation was made by Count Timascheff.

"Captain," said he, "I think it necessary to keep the true cause of our meeting secret."

"I think so too," replied Servadac.

"No name will be mentioned?"


"And then the pretext—?"

"The pretext? A musical discussion, if you wish, count."

"Just so," replied Count Timascheff. "I have taken Wagner's side—that is my idea."

"And I, Rossini's—that is mine," replied Captain Servadac, smiling.

Then, Count Timascheff and the staff officer having saluted each other for the last time, finally separated. This scene of provocation happened toward noon, at the end of a little cape on that part of the Algerian coast between Tunis and Mostaganem, about three kilometres from the mouth of the Chéliff. This cape overlooked the sea at a height of twenty miles, and the blue waters of the Mediterranean came to die at its feet, in lashing the rocks of the strand, reddened by oxide of iron.

It was the thirty-first of December. The sun, whose oblique rays sowed ordinarily with glittering spangles all the projectures of the coast, was then vailed by a thick curtain of clouds. Besides, heavy fogs covered the sea and continent. These mists, which by an inexplicable circumstance enveloped the terrestrial globe for two months, constantly interrupted communication between the two continents. But with that we have nothing to do.

The Count Wassili Timascheff, after leaving the staff officer, walked toward a small boat, furnished with four oars, which was waiting for him in one of the little coves of the coast.

As soon as he was seated, the light boat put off so as to reach the pleasure schooner, which, its brigantine sail hauled aft, and the storm-jib laid athwart to the wind was waiting for him at a few cable lengths.

As to Captain Servadac, with a sign he called a soldier, standing twenty feet from him. This soldier, leading a magnificent Arab horse, approached without saying a word. Captain Servadac, having mounted the steed, took the road toward Mostaganem, followed by his orderly, who rode a horse not less swift than his own.

It was half-past twelve when the two horsemen passed the Chéliff, on the bridge which genius had recently constructed. Three-quarters past one sounded as their horses, white with foam, dashed through the gate of Mascara, one of the five passages contrived in the old battlements of the city.

In that year, Mostaganem numbered about fifteen thousand inhabitants, of which three thousand were French. It was always one of the chief places of the Arrondissement of the province of Oran, and also a chief place of military subdivision. There were still made alimentary pies, precious tissues, open "sparteries," and articles of morocco leather. Thence were exported to France, grain, cotton, wool, cattle, figs, and raisins. But at this period, one would seek in vain for a trace of the old anchorage on which, in former times, the ships could not hold on account of bad winds from the west and northwest. Mostaganem actually possessed a well-sheltered harbor, which enabled it to utilize all the rich products of the Mina and of the lower Chéliff.

It was owing to this secure refuge that the schooner "Dobryna" had been able to winter on this coast, whose steep shores offered no shelter. In fact, for two months the Russian flag had been floating from its gaff, and at the top of its mainmast was seen the broad pendant of the yacht club of France, with this distinctive sign, M. C. W. T.

Captain Servadac, when he had cleared the inclosure of the city, gained the military quarter of Matmore.  There he hastened to find a commander of the 2nd Marksmen, and a captain of the 8th Artillery—two comrades on whom he could rely. These officers listened gravely to Hector Servadac's request, that they would serve him as witnesses in the affair in question, but they could not help smiling slightly, when their friend gave as the true pretext of this meeting, a simple musical discussion between him and Count Timascheff.

"Perhaps we can settle that?" observed the commander of the 2nd Marksmen.

"It is not even necessary to try it," replied Hector Servadac.

"A few modest concessions!" said the captain of the 8th Artillery.

"No concession is possible between Wagner and Rossini," replied the staff officer seriously. "It is all the one or all the other. Besides, Rossini is the injured one in the affair. That fool of a Wagner has written some absurd things about him, and I wish to avenge Rossini."

"At the worst," then said the commander, "a sword cut is not always mortal."

"Above all, when one is quite decided, as I am, not to receive it," replied Captain Servadac.

After the reply, the two officers could only repair to headquarters, where at two o'clock precisely, they would meet Count Timascheff's witnesses.

It may be added that the commander of the 2nd Marksmen and the captain of the 8th Artillery were not duped by their comrade.

What was the true motive which made him resort to arms? Perhaps they guessed it, but they had nothing better to do than accept the pretext which Captain Servadac was pleased to give them.

Two hours later they were returning, after having seen the count's witnesses and arranged the conditions of the duel. Count Timascheff, Aide-de-camp of the Emperor of Russia, as are many Russians in foreign parts, had accepted the sword, the soldier's weapon. The two adversaries would meet on the following day, the first of January, at nine o'clock in the morning, on a portion of the cliff, situated three kilometres from the mouth of the Chéliff.

"To-morrow, then, military hour!" said the commander.

"And the most military of all hours," replied Hector Servadac.

Upon that, the two officers vigorously shook their friend's hand, and returned to the Zulma café to play a game of piquet with one hundred and fifty down.

As to Captain Servadac, he retraced his steps and immediately left the city.

For a fortnight past, Hector Servadac had not occupied his lodging in the Place d'Armes. Engaged in surveying, he lived in a hut on the coast of Mostaganem, eight kilometres from the Chéliff, and had no other companion than his orderly. This was not very lively, and any one but the staff captain would consider his exile in this disagreeable post as a penance.

He then followed the road to the hut, while throwing off some rhymes which he tried to arrange under the somewhat antiquated form of a rondeau. This pretended rondeau it is useless to conceal it was addressed to a young widow whom he hoped to marry, and he sought to prove that when one has an opportunity to love a person in every respect, it is necessary to love in the most devoted manner in the world.  Whether this aphorism was true or not was the least of the cares of Captain Servadac, who made rhymes for the sake of making them.

"Yes! yes!" murmured he, while his orderly trotted silently at his side, "a well-conceived rondeau always produces its effect! Rondeaux are rare on the Algerian coast, and I must hope that mine will be the better received on that account."

And the poet captain commenced thus:

"In truth, when we love,
It is simply now——-"

"Yes! simply, that is to say, honestly and in view of marriage, and I who speak to you—— The devil! That no longer rhymes! Those rhymes are not convenient! Singular idea that I had to lay out my rondeau with such words! Ha! Ben-Zouf?"

Ben-Zouf was the orderly of Captain Servadac.

"Captain," replied Ben-Zouf.

"Have you sometimes composed rhymes?"

"No, captain, but I have seen it done."

"And by whom?"

"By the trance-speaker in a clairvoyant's booth one evening at the foot of Montmartre."

"And you remember those verses?"

"Here they are, captain:

"Enter! It is happiness from above,
And you will go out charmed!
Here he sees her whom he may love,
And her by whom he is loved!"

"Horrible! Your verses are detestable!

"Because they are not rolled round from a reed-pipe, captain? Without that they are as good as others!"

"Silence, Ben-Zouf!" cried Hector Servadac. "Silence! At last I have my third and fourth rhyme!"

"In truth, when we love,
It is simply now——-
Oh! trust to love above
More than to a vow."

But all the poetical efforts of Captain Servadac could not lead him beyond that, and when, at six o'clock, he was returning to the hut, he had only his first four lines.————



In that year, and at that date, might be read on the service-list at the War-Office:

"Servadac (Hector), born July 19, 18—, at Saint-Trélody, Canton and
Arrondissement of Lesparre, Department of the Gironde.

"Fortune: Twelve hundred francs, yearly income.

"Length of service: Fourteen years, three months, five days.

"Details of service and countries: School of Saint-Cyr, two years;
School of Application, two years; in the 87th of the Line, two years;
in the 3d Chasseurs, two years; Algeria, seven years. Campaign of
Soudan, Campaign of Japan.

"Position: Staff-Captain at Mostaganem.

"Decorations: Chevalier of the Legion of Honor from the thirteenth of
March, 18—."

Hector Servadac was thirty. An orphan, without  family, almost without fortune, ambitious of glory rather than gold, a little hot-headed, full of native wit,  always as ready for the attack as in repartee, generous-hearted, of tried courage, visibly the protege of the  god of battles, to whom he did not spare his prayers  (a habit not usual with a child of the Entre-deux-Mers  who had been suckled for twenty months by a vigorous vine-dresser of Mèdoc), a true descendant of those heroes who flourished in the periods of warriors of prowess, such was, morally, Captain Servadac. He was one of those fine fellows whom nature seems to predestinate to extraordinary things, and who have had for godmother at their cradle the fairy of adventures, and the fairy of good luck.

Physically, Hector Servadac was a charming officer, five feet six inches, thin, graceful, black hair in natural curls, handsome hands, handsome feet, moustache gracefully turned up, blue eyes with a frank expression, in a word, made to please, and one might say, pleasing without having too much the air of suspecting it.

It must be admitted that Captain Servadac—he willingly avowed it was not wiser than was necessary.

"We do not whip tops ourselves," said the artillery officers, meaning by that that they never grumbled at work.

Hector Servadac "whipped top" willingly, being naturally as much an idler as a detestable poet; but, with his facility for learning everything and comparing all things, he had been able to leave school in a high rank and enter the staff. He drew well; besides, he mounted a horse admirably, and the untameable leaper of the Saint-Cyr riding-school, the successor of the famous "Uncle Tom," had found in him his master.  His records mentioned that he had several times carried the order of the day, and this was only justice.

They told of him this incident: One day he led a company of foot chasseurs into a trench, At a certain place the crest of the epaulment, riddled by howitzers, had given way, and no longer offered a height sufficient to cover the soldiers against the grapeshot which whistled thick. They hesitated. Captain Servadac then mounted on the epaulment, next lying across the gap, which his body entirely shut up.

"Pass now," said he.

And the company passed in the midst of a storm of bullets, not one of which reached the staff officer.  Since leaving the school of application, with the exception of two campaigns which he made (Soudan and Japan), Hector Servadac had always been detached in Algeria. At this epoch he fulfilled the functions of staff officer in the sub-division at Mostaganem specially charged with the topographical works on this portion of the coast comprised between Tenis and Chéliff. He lived in a hut which shielded him pretty well. But he was not a man to trouble himself about trifles. He liked to live in the open air, with the greatest amount of liberty an officer can have. Sometimes surveying on foot the sands of the shore, sometimes riding over the crest of the cliffs, he did not hasten by any additional measures the work which he had in charge.

This life, half-independent, suited him. Besides, his occupation did not absorb him to such a degree as to  prevent him taking the railroad two or three times a  week, and figuring either at the receptions of the general at Oran, or at the festivals of the Governor of Algiers.

It was on one of these occasions that there appeared to him Madame de L., to whom was dedicated the famous rondeau of which the first four verses alone had come to light. This was the widow of a colonel, a young woman, very handsome, very reserved, a little proud even, not seeing or wishing to see the devotion of which she was the object. Captain Servadac had not yet dared to declare himself. He knew of rivals, and among others, as we have just seen, Count Timascheff. It was this rivalry which was going to bring the two adversaries together with arms in their hands, and that without the young widow having the least suspicion of it. Besides, as we know, her name, respected by all, had not been pronounced.

With the captain, Hector Servadac, there lived at the hut his orderly, Ben-Zouf.

This Ben-Zouf was devoted, body and soul, to the officer whom he had the honor to brush. Between the functions of aid-de-camp to the Governor-General of Algiers, and those of orderly to Captain Servadac, Ben-Zouf had not hesitated even an instant. But if he had no personal ambition in that which concerned himself, it was another thing in regard to his officer, and every morning he looked if during the night some epaulets with large bullion had not sprung up on the left shoulder of the uniform of the staff officer. This name of Ben-Zouf might convey the idea that the brave soldier was indigenous to Algeria. Not the least in the world. The name was only a nickname. Now, why this brusher, was he named Zouf, because he called himself Laurent? Why Ben, because he was from Paris, and even from Montmartre? It was one of these anomalies which the wisest etymologists themselves would never be able to explain.

Now, not only was Ben-Zouf from Montmartre, but he was originally from the celebrated hill of that name, having first seen the light between the tower of Solferino and the mill of Galette. Now, when one has had the happiness to be born in these exceptional conditions, it is very natural that one should feel for his  native hill an admiration without reserve, and that  one should see nothing more magnificent in the world.  In the eyes of the brusher, Montmartre was the only real mountain in the universe, and the district of that name he regarded as being composed of all the marvels of the world. Ben-Zouf had traveled. To hear him, he had never seen, no matter in what country, but other Montmartres, greater, perhaps, but certainly less picturesque. In fact, had not Montmartre a church, which was worth the cathedral of Bruges, walks, which did not yield to those of Pontèlique, a dock of which the Mediterranean might be jealous, a mill which was not contented in producing common wheat, but renowned cakes; a tower, Solferino, which held itself straighter  than the tower of Pisa, the remains of those forests  which were perfectly virgin before the invasion of the  Celts; and finally the mountain a real mountain to which the envious alone dared give the humiliating  qualification of hill? Ben-Zouf would have been chopped in pieces rather than admit that this mountain, did not measure five thousand metres in height!

"Where could you meet in the entire world so many wonders connected with a single place?"

"Nowhere," replied Ben-Zouf, to any one who suggested that his opinion was slightly exaggerated.

Innocent mania after all. However that might be, Ben-Zouf had but a single ambition, to return to Montmartre on the hill, and finish his days there where   they had commenced with his captain, that is understood. Thus Hector Servadac's ears were unceasingly regaled with the incomparable beauties accumulated, in the eighteenth district of Paris, and he began to hear of it with horror.

Meanwhile Ben-Zouf did not despair of converting his captain—determined, besides, never to leave him.  His time was up. He had already taken his leave twice, and was going to abandon the service at the age of twenty-seven years, being a simple horse chasseur of the first class in the Eighth Regiment, where he was raised to the position of orderly to Captain Servadac.  He made a campaign with his officer. He fought at his side several times so courageously that he was reported for the cross, but he refused it so as to remain the orderly of his captain.

If Hector Servadac saved the life of Ben-Zouf in Japan, Ben-Zouf rendered him the same service in the campaign of Soudan.

In short, this is why Ben-Zouf put at the service of the staff captain two arms hardened to their fullest-  extent, an iron constitution forged in every climate,  a physical vigor which had given him the right to call  himself the rampart of Montmartre, and finally a heart to dare all and a devotion to do all.

It must be added that if Ben-Zouf was not a poet,   like his captain, he might at least pass for a living encyclopedia, an inexhaustible storehouse of all these; subterfuges and cock-and-bull stories of the trooper.  On this score he could prove equal to any one, and his imperturbable memory furnished him with nonsense to any extent.

Captain Servadac knew what the man was worth.  He appreciated him; he overlooked the follies which the unalterable good humor of the orderly rendered at least supportable, and, on occasions, he knew how to tell him things which attract a servant to his master.

On one occasion, when Ben-Zouf, having mounted  his hobby, figuratively caracoled in the eighteenth district—"Ben-Zouf," said the captain to him, "do  you know, after all, that if Montmartre hill had only  four thousand and seven hundred and five metres more added to it, it would be as high as Mont Blanc?"

At this observation Ben-Zouf's eyes had flashed like lightning, and from that day his hill and his captain were indistinctly confounded in his heart.



A gourbi is nothing but a sort of hut, built like a pigeon-house, and covered with a stubble which the natives call driss. It is a little more than the tent of wandering Arab, but much less than the dwelling made of stones and bricks.

The gourbi inhabited by Captain Servadac was then, in all respects, only a hovel; and it would not have sufficed for the needs of its occupants if it had not extended to an old station, built of stones, which served as a lodging for Ben-Zouf and the two horses. This post had been previously occupied by a detachment of engineers, and it still inclosed a certain quantity of tools, such as mattocks, pickaxes, shovels, and so forth.

Indeed, comfort had much to desire in this hut: but it was only a provisional encampment. Besides, neither the captain and his orderly were hard to please in the matter of food and lodgings.

"With a little philosophy and a good stomach, one is well off everywhere!" was often repeated by Hector Servadac.

Now, philosophy is like a Gascon's pocket-money, he always has some in his purse; and as to the stomach, all the waters of the Geronne might have passed through the captain's without troubling him for an instant.

As to Ben-Zouf, once admit metempsychosis, and he must have been an ostrich in a previous existence; he had preserved one of those phenomenal viscera, with powerful gastric juices, which digest pebbles as easily as the breasts of chickens.

It must be stated that the two occupants of the hut were furnished with provisions for a month, that a cistern gave them drinkable water in abundance, that forage filled the stable barns, and that, above all, this portion of the plain, lying between Tenez and Mostaganem, marvelously fertile, rivals the rich fields of Mitidja. Game was not very rare. Now a staff officer is not forbidden to carry a gun during his circuit, provided he does not forget either his measuring-chain or his plane-table.

Captain Servadac, having entered the hut, dined with an appetite which the ride had rendered ferocious. Ben-Zouf understood cooking remarkably well. With him no insipid preparations were to be feared. He salted, vinegared and peppered with military exactness. But some said he prepared for two stomachs which defied the most highly-seasoned condiments, and on which grastralgia had no hold.

After dinner, and while his orderly put away the remains of the repast in what he called my abdominal closet, Captain Servadac left the hut, and went to take the air and smoke on the crest of the Cliff.

Night commenced to fall. The sun had disappeared for more than an hour behind the thick cloud below that horizon, clearly cut by the plain, beyond the course of the Chéliff. The sky then presented a singular aspect, which every observer of cosmical phenomena would notice not without some surprise. In fact, toward the north, and even though the darkness was already sufficiently profound to limit the visual angle to a ray of half kilometer, a sort of reddish light impregnated the upper mists of the atmosphere. One saw neither regularly pinked fringes nor radiations of luminous jets proceeding from a fiery center. In consequence, nothing indicated the appearance of some aurora-borealis, whose magnificence only blossoms over the skies of places in higher latitude. A meteorologist, then, would have been greatly troubled to tell to which phenomena was due the superb illumination of this last night of the year.

But Captain Servadac was not precisely a meteorologist. Since leaving school, it may be believed, he had never opened his "Course of Cosmography." Besides, on this evening, he felt little inclined to observe the celestial sphere. He strolled, he smoked. Did he only dream of this encounter, which, on the morrow, would place him face to face with Count Timascheff? At all events, if this thought sometimes crossed his mind it was not to excite him improperly against the count. It may be asserted that the two adversaries were without hatred against each other, although they were rivals. The thing was simply to undo a situation where to be two is to be one too many. Thus, Hector Servadac considered Count Timascheff as a very brave man, and the count could not help esteeming the officer.

At eight o'clock in the evening, Captain Servadac entered the only room of the hut, which contained his bed, a little work-table mounted on a rack, and some trunks which served as closets. It was in the neighboring station, not in the hut, that the ordinary made his culinary preparations, and it was there that he slept, as he said, on a mattress from the good heart of an oak! That did not prevent him from sleeping twelve hours without moving, and, upon that, he would have given some points to a dormouse.

Captain Servadac, little disposed to sleep, seated himself at the table, on which were scattered his engineering instruments. Mechanically he took his red and blue crayon in one hand, and in the other his sector compass. Then, the tracing paper before his eyes, he began to zebra it with lines of different colors and unequal—lines which in no respect resembled the severe drawing of a topographical survey.

Meanwhile, Ben-Zouf, who had not yet received the order to retire stretched out in a corner, tried to sleep, but the singular agitation of his captain rendered it difficult.

In fact it was not the staff officer, but the Gascony poet, who had taken his place at the work-table. Yes! Hector Servadac dabbled in poetry after the most approved fashion! He became excited over this rondeau, evoking an inspiration, which made him pray very hard. Was he then handling his compass, in order to give a strictly mathematical measure to his verses? Was he employing the many-colored crayon the better to vary his rebellious rhymes? One would be tempted to believe it. Whatever it was the work was laborious.

"Zounds!" cried he, "why have I chosen this form of verse, which obliges me to bring back the same rhymes, like cowards during the battle? Fly all the devils! I will conquer! It will not be said that a French officer drew back before some rhymes."

A piece of poetry, it is like a battalion! The first company has already charged!—I should say the first verses—forward, the other.

The rhymes followed to the utmost, answered at last to the call, for a red line and a blue line were soon side by side on the paper:

"Of beautiful discourses, filled with emphasis,
What is the need?"

"What the devil is the captain muttering now?" Ben-Zouf asked himself as he turned over and back again. "See! for an hour he has been acting like a soldier returning from a six-month's furlough."

Hector Servadac surveyed the hut, a prey to all the fury of poetical inspiration:

"And how truly from long phrases,
The heart is freed!"

"Surely, he is composing verses!" Ben-Zouf said to himself, as he sat up in the corner. "What a noisy profession! It is impossible to sleep here."

And he uttered a dull groan.

"Ah! what's the matter, Ben-Zouf?" asked Hector Servadac.

"Nothing, captain. It is the nightmare."

"May the devil carry you away!"

"I wish he would, and right away," muttered Ben-Zouf, "above all if he does not make verses."

"That animal has cut off my train of thought," said Captain Servadac. "Ben-Zouf!"

"Present, captain!" replied the orderly, who rose, making a military salute?

"Don't stir, Ben-Zouf! Don't stir! I shall wait, at least, for the end of my rondeau!"

And, with an inspired voice, Hector Servadac added with many a poet's gesture:

"Believe me, my affection is pure,
    I promise you
That I love you—I am sure,
    And for—."

This last word was not pronounced when Captain Servadac and Ben-Zouf were thrown to the ground with terrible violence.



Why, at this very moment, was the horizon strangely and suddenly modified, that the experienced eye of a sailor could recognize the circle where the sky and water seemed to meet?

Why did the sea, then, raise her waves to a height, till that time, considered impossible by the savants?

Why, in the midst of the cracking of the soil which was rent apart, was there produced a tremendous crash, composed of divers noises, such as grinding, due to a violent dislocation of the frame-work of the globe, a roaring of the waters surging against the waters to an abnormal depth, whistling of the sheets of air sucked in as in a cyclone?

Why through space, this extraordinary brilliancy, more intense than the fulgurations of an aurora-borealis, a brilliancy which overspread the firmament and momentarily eclipsed the stars of all grandeur? Why the basin of the Mediterranean, which seemed for a moment to be empty, did it fall itself anew with its strangely furious waters?

Why, the disc of the moon, did it seem to grow immoderately larger, as if, in a few seconds, the star of the nights had drawn nearer from a distance of ninety-six thousand leagues to ten thousand?

Why, in fact, should a new spheroid, enormous, flaming, unknown to cosmographers, appear in the firmament, soon to lose itself behind thick layers of clouds?

Finally, what strange phenomenon had produced this cataclysme, which so completely overturned the earth, the sea, the sky, all space?

Who could tell? And was there even left a single inhabitant on the terrestrial globe, to reply to these questions?



Meanwhile no change seemed to be produced in that portion of the Algerian coast bounded on the west by the right bank of the Chéliff, and on the north by the Mediterranean.

Although the commotion had been very violent, neither on this fertile plain, perhaps a little dented here and there, nor on the capricious line of the cliff, nor on the sea, which was agitated beyond measure, nothing indicated that any modification had altered their physical aspect.

The guard-house, except in some places where the wall was deeply disjointed, had sufficiently resisted. As for the hut, it had flattened on the ground like a castle of cards at the breath of a child, and its two inhabitants lay insensible under the collapsed thatch.

It was two hours after the catastrophe that Captain Servadac regained consciousness. He had, at first some trouble in recalling his senses, but the first words that he pronounced—and no one will be surprised, were the last verses of the famous rondeau, which had been extraordinarily interrupted on his lips:

***I swear it ***
And for ***

Then in a minute:

"Ah, ha! what has happened?"

To this question which he asked it would have been very difficult to reply. Then raising an arm he began to throw aside the covering of straw, and his head appeared out of the thatch. Captain Servadac at first looked around him.

"The hut on the ground!" cried he. "It is some water-spout which has passed over the earth."

He examined himself. Not a dislocation—not even a scratch.

"Zounds! and my brusher."

He raised himself, then:

"Ben-Zouf!" cried he.

At the voice of Captain Servadac a second head made a hole through the thatch.

"Present!" replied Ben-Zouf.

One might say that the orderly only awaited this call to appear in a military manner.

"Have you any idea what has happened, Ben-Zouf?" asked Hector Servadac.

"I have an idea, captain, that we look as if we were drawing our last rations."

"Bah! A water-spout, Ben-Zouf, a simple waterspout!"

"That for a water-spout!" philosophically replied the orderly. "Nothing in particular broken, captain?"

"Nothing, Ben-Zouf."

A moment after both were on their feet; they cleared away the site of the hut; they found their instruments, their effects, their utensils, their arms, nearly intact, and the staff-officer said:

"Ah, ha! What time is it?"

"Eight o'clock, at least," replied Ben-Zouf, looking at the sun, which had very perceptibly risen above the horizon.

"Eight o'clock!"

"At least, captain."

"Is it possible?"

"Yes and we must start,"


"Certainly; for our meeting."

"What meeting?"

"Our meeting with the count—"

"Ah! zounds!" cried the captain. "I was going to forget it!"

And drawing out his watch:

"What are you saying, Ben-Zouf? It is scarcely two o'clock. You are a fool!"

"Two o'clock in the morning or two o'clock in the evening?" said Ben-Zouf, looking at the sun.

Hector Servadac put his watch to his ear.

"It goes," said he.

"So does the sun," replied the orderly.

"Certainly, by its height above the horizon—Ah! by all the vineyards of Mèdoc!"

"What is the matter, captain?"

"But it must be eight o'clock in the evening?"

"In the evening?"

"Yes! The sun is in the west, and is going to set."

"To set? Not so, captain," replied Ben-Zouf; "it is rising beautiful and well, like a conscript at reveille! And see; while we have talked it has mounted in the heavens."

"The sun rises now in the west!" murmured Captain Servadac.

"Nonsense! It is impossible!"

However, the fact was not to be discussed. The radiant star appearing above the waters of the Chéliff now traveled over the western horizon, on which it had traced until then the second half of its dismal arc.

Hector Servadac comprehended, without trouble, that an absolutely unheard of phenomenon, totally inexplicable, had modified not only the situation of the sun in the siderial system, but even the direction of the rotary movement of the earth on its axis.

It was amazing. Could the impossible then become true? If Captain Servadac had been near one of the members of the Bureau of Longitude, he would have tried to obtain from him some information. But, absolutely reduced to his own knowledge:

"Faith!" said he, "this concerns the astronomers. I shall see in eight days what they say in the papers."

Then, without waiting any longer to find the cause of this strange phenomenon.

"Forward!" said he to his orderly. "Whatever event has happened, and even if all the terrestrial and celestial mechanism should be topsy-turvy, I must arise first on the ground to do Count Timascheff the honor."

"To put him on a spit," replied Ben-Zouf. If Hector Servadac and his orderly had been inclined to observe the physical changes which were instantaneously accomplished in that night of the thirty-first of December to the first of January, after having verified the modification in the apparent movement of the sun, they would certainly have been very much struck by the incredible variation which had been effected in the condition of the atmosphere. In fact, to first speak of them, they felt out of breath, forced to breath more rapidly, as it happens to those who ascend mountains, as if the surrounding air had been less dense and consequently less charged with oxygen. Besides, their voices were weaker. Then, either of these two things was true; they had been struck by a half-deafness, or they must admit that the air had suddenly become less adapted to the transmission of sounds.

But these physical modifications made no impression at that moment on Captain Servadac or Ben-Zouf, and both took the direction toward Chéliff, following the abrupt path of the cliff.

The weather, which had been very foggy on the previous night, no longer presented the same appearance. A sky, singularly tinted, which was soon covered with light clouds, concealed the luminous arc which the sun traced from one horizon to the other. In the air were threatenings of a deluvian rain, or else a crashing storm. Nevertheless, these vapors, owing to an incomplete condensation, did not reach the dissolving point. The sea, for the first time on this coast, seemed to be completely deserted. Not a sail, not a sign of smoke disengaged itself on the grayish depths of the sky and the crater. As for the horizon—was it an optical illusion?—it seemed to be extremely brought nearer that of the sea as well as that which circumscribed the desert beyond the shore. Its infinite distance had disappeared, so to speak, as if the convexity of the globe had been increased.

Captain Servadac and Ben-Zouf, walking rapidly, without exchanging a word, should have soon overcome the five kilometres which separated the hut from the place of meeting. Both on this morning could observe that they were physiologically organized in an entirely different manner. Without being able to account for it, they felt particularly light of body, as if they had wings on their feet. If the orderly had wished to put his thoughts into words he would have said that he was "equal to everything."

"Without counting that we have forgotten to break bread," murmured he.

And, it must be allowed, this kind of forgetfulness was not among the habits of the brave soldier.

At this moment, a kind of disagreeable barking was heard on the left of the path. Almost immediately a jackal escaped from an enormous slit in a mastick tree. This animal belonged to a species peculiar to the African fauna, the skins of which are of a color regularly speckled with black streaks, and of which one line furrows the fore part of the legs.

The jackal can be dangerous during the night, when it hunts in large packs. Alone, it's no more formidable than a dog. Ben-Zouf was not a man to trouble himself about this, but Ben-Zouf did not like jackals perhaps because a particular species did not exist in the Fauna of Montmartre.

The animal, after having left the hole, ran to the foot of a high rock, which measured about ten meters in height. He regarded with visible anxiety the two chance guests. Ben-Zouf made a sign to shoot it, and at this menacing gesture, the animal, to the profound astonishment of the captain and his orderly, sprang and attained at a single bound, the summit of the rock.

"What a leaper!" cried Ben-Zouf. "He raised himself more than thirty feet from the bottom to the top."

"It is really true," replied the captain, in a dream, "I have never seen such a jump made!"

The jackal, resting on the top of the rock and settled on its back, remained to observe them with a cheerful air. Then, Ben-Zouf picked up a stone so as to force him to quit in a hurry.

The stone was very large, and yet, it weighed no more in the hand of the orderly than if it had been only a petrified sponge.

"Satanic jackal!" said Ben-Zouf. "This stone will do him no more harm than a cake. But why is it at the same time so light and so large?"

Meanwhile, having nothing else at hand, he vigorously threw the stone.

It missed the jackal. Nevertheless, the act of Ben-Zouf, indicating intentions not conciliatory, had sufficed to put to flight the prudent animal, who, bounding above the hedge and the screen of trees, disappeared, after a series of gigantic leaps, as might have done an india-rubber kangaroo.

As for the stone, instead of striking the place aimed at, it had described a trajectory, much inclined to the extreme surprise of Ben-Zouf, who saw it fall more than five hundred steps beyond the rock.

"In the name of a Bedouin!" cried he, "I can now give points to a four-pound howitzer."

Ben-Zouf was then a few metres in advance of the captain, near a ditch filled with water, and ten feet wide, which he was thinking of jumping over. He took a start, and leaped with the spirit of a gymnast.

"Well! Ben-Zouf, where are you going now? What has taken you? You are going to break your back, idiot!"

These words suddenly escaped Captain Servadac, and they were provoked by the situation of his orderly, who found himself forty feet in the air.

Hector Servadac, at the thought of the danger that Ben-Zouf would run in falling, started in turn to clear the ditch, but the muscular effort that he made carried him to a height that could not have been lees than thirty feet. He crossed in rising, Ben-Zouf who was descending. Then obeying, in his turn, the laws of gravitation, he returned to the ground with an increasing celerity, but without experiencing a more violent shock than if he had jumped to a height of four or five feet.

"Ah, ha!" cried Ben-Zouf, bursting into a laugh. "We are old clowns, captain!"

Hector Servadac, after several moments' reflection, walked toward his orderly, and put his hand on his shoulder.

"Don't fly away again, Ben-Zouf," said he to him, "and look at me well. I am not awake, Waken me! Pinch me until the blood comes, if necessary! We are fools, or else we dream!"

"The fact is, captain," replied Ben-Zouf, "that these things have never happened to me except in the land of dreams, when I dreamt that I was a swallow and passed over the hill at Montmartre, as I might have done with my cap! All this is not natural. Something has happened to us, but there, something which has never before happened to anybody! Is it peculiar to the coast of Algiers what is going on now?"

Hector Servadac was plunged into a sort of stupor.

"We shall go mad," cried he. "We do not sleep, we do not dream!"

But he was not a man to stop eternally before this problem, too difficult to solve under these circumstances.

"After all, let come what will!" cried he, determined hereafter that nothing should astonish him.

"Yes, captain," replied Ben-Zouf, "and above everything let us settle our affair with Count Timascheff."

Beyond the ditch extended a little field of about half a hectare covered with a soft herb, and in which the trees had been planted within fifty years, live-oaks palms, locusts, sycamores, mingled with the cactus and the aloe, above them two or three large eucalyptus trees made a charming framework. It was precisely the enclosed field where the encounter between the two adversaries should have taken place.

Hector Servadac threw a rapid glance over the field. Then, seeing no one:

"Zounds!" said he, "we are certainly the first to arrive on the ground!"

"Or the last," replied Ben-Zouf.

"How? The last? But it is not nine o'clock," replied Captain Servadac, taking out his watch, which he had partly regulated by the sun before leaving the hut.

"Captain," asked the orderly, "do you see that whitish ball through the clouds?"

"I see it," said the captain, looking at a disk covered by thick fogs, which at this moment appeared in the zenith.

"Well," said Ben-Zouf, "that ball there can only be the sun or his substitute!"

"The sun in the zenith in the month of January and on the thirty-ninth degree of north latitude!" cried Hector Servadac.

"Himself, captain, and it indicates noon, with all due deference to you. Perhaps he was in a hurry to-day. I will bet my hat against a soup tureen that it will set before three hours from now."

Hector Servadac, his arms crossed, remained some minutes immovable. Then, after having taken a turn which gave him a chance to examine the different points of the horizon:

"Three hours gravitation modified," murmured he, "the cardinal points changed, the length of the day reduced fifty per cent! Here is something which indefinitely postpone my meeting with Count Timascheff. Something is the matter, it is not my brain. The devil! nor that of Ben-Zouf, which is burned."

The indifferent Ben-Zouf, from the most extraordinary cosmical phenomena, could not have drawn the slightest exclamation, looked quietly at the officer.



"You see no one?"

"I see no one; our Russian has set off again."

"Admitting that he has gone away, my seconds would have remained for me, and not seeing me come they would not have failed to push on as far as the hut."

"That is so, captain."

"I conclude, then, that they have not come."

"And that if they have not come?"

"It is because they could not come. As for Count Timascheff—"

Instead of finishing his sentence Captain Servadac approached the edge of the rock which overlooked the coast and looked if the schooner "Dobryna" was not in sight a few cable lengths from the shore. It might be, after all, that Count Timascheff would come by sea to the meeting place as he had done the previous evening.

The sea was deserted, and for the first time Captain Servadac observed that although there was no wind it was extraordinarily agitated, like water which has been submitted to a prolonged boiling on a hot fire. Certainly the schooner could hardly have held out against this abnormal swell.

Besides and also for the first time, Hector Servadac remarked with stupefaction how much the line of the circumference on which the heaven and the earth meet had diminished.

In effect, to an observer placed on the crest of this high cliff, the line of the horizon should have been removed to a distance of forty kilometres. Now, ten kilometres at the most formed the actual extent of view, as if the volume of the terrestrial spheroid had been considerably diminished within a few hours.

"All this is over strange," said the staff officer.

During this time, Ben-Zouf, as nimble as the most nimble of quadrumans, had raised himself to the top of an eucalyptus. From this high point he observed the continent as well in the direction of Tenez and Mostaganem as toward the southern part. Then, once down again, he could declare to the captain that the plain appeared to be absolutely deserted.

"To Chéliff!" said Hector Servadac. "Let us gain the river. There, we shall know, perhaps, what we are in for."

"To Chéliff!" replied Ben-Zouf.

Three kilometres, at the most, separated the meadow from the river which Captain Servadac expected to cross, so as finally to push on toward Mostaganem. He had to hasten if he wished to reach the town before nightfall. Through the opaque bed of clouds, it was palpable that the sun rapidly declined, and—inexplicable singularity to join to so many others—instead of tracing the oblique curve, required by the latitude of Algeria at that time of year, it fell perpendicularly to the horizon.

While walking Captain Servadac reflected on the divers wonders. If by some absolutely unheard of phenomenon, the rotary movement of the globe seemed have been modified; if even, in considering the passage of the sun to the zenith, it should be admitted that the Algerian coast had been carried back beyond the equator into the southern hemisphere, it did not seem that the earth, except in which it concerned its convexity, had experienced any important modification—at least in that portion of Africa. The coast was what it had always been, a succession cliffs, strands, and arid rocks, red as if they had been ferruginous. As far as the eye could see, the coast had sustained no deformation. No modification appeared on the left, toward the south, at least toward what Captain Servadac persisted in calling the south, though the position of two cardinal points had evidently been changed, because, for the time, it was necessary to give way to evidence; they were inverted. About three leagues off appeared the first declivities of the Merjejah mountains, and their line of summits traced clearly against the sky their accustomed profile.

At this moment an opening was made in the clouds, and the oblique rays of the sun reached the soil. It was plain that the radiant star after rising in the west, was going to set in the east.

"Zounds!" cried Captain Servadac, "I am curious to know what they think of all that at Mostaganem? What will the minister of war say when he learns by telegram, that his African colony is out of its course in physical matters, as it has, in no time, been in moral matters?"

"The colony of Africa?" replied Ben-Zouf. "They will thrust it entirely into the police courts!"

"And that the cardinal points are in complete discord with military regulations!"

"The cardinal points to the disciplined companies."

"And that, in the month of January, the sun has just struck me perpendicularly with its rays."

"Strike an officer! Shoot the sun!"

Ah! Ben-Zouf knew what discipline was.

Meanwhile, Hector Servadac and he proceeded as fast as possible. Served by the extraordinary specific lightness, become their essence even, accustomed already to the decompression in the atmosphere which had made them pant for breath, they ran better than hares, they bounded like goats. They no longer followed the path which wound along the summit of the cliff, the turns in which would have lengthened their journey. They took the shortest way—.as the crow flies, as we say on the old continent—a bee-line, as we say on the new. No obstacle could stop them. A hedge, they sprang over it; a brook, they cleared it at a bound; a screen of trees, they leaped it close legged; a hill, they passed it on the wing. Montmartre, under these conditions, would have cost Ben-Zouf but a stride. Both had no longer but one fear, namely, that they might lengthen the way vertically, while trying to shorten it horizontally. Indeed, their feet hardly touched the ground which seemed to be but a spring-board of unlimited elasticity.

At length, the borders of the Chéliff appeared, and, in a few bounds, Captain Servadac and his orderly were on the right bank.

But there they were forced to stop. In fact, the bridge no longer existed, and for a good reason.

"No bridge!" cried Captain Servadac. "There has been, then, an inundation—a repetition of the deluge."

"Pshaw!" said Ben-Zouf.

And, meanwhile, there was cause for wonder.

In fact, the Chéliff had disappeared. There no longer existed any trace of its left bank. Its right bank which, on the previous evening, could be traced to the fertile plain, had become a sea-coast. In the vast tumultuous waters, roaring and no longer murmuring, blue and no longer yellow; replaced, as far as the eye could reach, its peaceful course. A sea had been substituted for a river. There ended the country, the extension of which had yesterday formed the territory of Mostaganem.

Hector Servadac would have liked to disburden his mind to some one. He approached the water, hidden under tufts of oleander; he took some in his hand and carried it to his mouth.

"Salt!" said he. "The sea in a few hours has engulfed all the western part o Algeria."

"There, captain," said Ben-Zouf "this will last longer, without doubt, than a simple inundation?"

"The world is changed," replied the staff officer, bowing his head, "and this cataclysm may have incalculable consequences! My friends, my comrades, what has become of them?"

Ben-Zouf had never seen Hector Servadac so deeply affected. He therefore suited his expression to his officer's, although he understood still less than the other that which might have happened. He could even for his part, have taken it philosophically had it no been his duty to partake in a "military sense" the sentiments of his captain.

The new coast traced by the old right bank of the Chéliff, ran north and south, following a line slightly rounded. It did not seem that the cataclysm of which this portion of Africa had just been the theater had at all touched it. It remained exactly as the marine surveying had described it, with its clumps of great trees, its steep banks irregularly broken, its green carpet of prairies. Only in place of a river bank it formed at present the shore of an unknown sea.

Captain Servadac, grown very serious, had hardly time to observe these changes which had so much altered the physical aspect of this region. The brilliant star, having reached the horizon at the east, fell suddenly like a cannon ball into the sea. Had they been under the tropics, on the 21st of December, or the 21st of March, at that period when the sun cuts the ecliptic, the change from day to night could not have taken place more rapidly.

This evening there had been no twilight, and on the morrow it was probable there would be no dawn. Earth, sea, sky—all were instantly shrouded in a profound darkness.



The adventurous character of Captain Servadac being known, one will readily believe that he did not show himself definitively dumbfounded by so many extraordinary events. Only, less indifferent than Ben-Zouf, he would like greatly to know the cause of the effects. The effect was of little importance to him, provided the cause was known. To hear him, to be killed by a cannon ball was nothing from the moment that he knew in obedience to what laws of ballistics and by what trajectory it would arrive in the middle of his breast. Such was his manner of regarding the facts of this world. Thus, after being pre-occupied, as much as his temperament would permit him to be with the consequences of the phenomena which had been produced, he only dreamt of discovering the cause of them.

"Zounds!" cried he at the moment when night fell suddenly "that should be seen in broad daylight—admitting that day, broad or narrow, will return, for may a wolf craunch me if I know where the sun has gone!"

"Captain," then said Ben-Zouf, "without intending to control you, what are we to do now?"

"We remain here, and to-morrow, if there be a to-morrow, we will return to the gourbi, after examining the coast to the west and to the south. The most important thing is to know where we are and where we are from, so as to be able to give an account of what has passed below there. Then, after having followed the coast to the west and to the south—"

"If there is a coast," observed the orderly.

"And if there is a south," replied Captain Servadac.

"Then I may sleep?"

"Yes, if you can."

And with this permission, Ben-Zouf, whom so many incidents could not move, lay down in an aufractuosity of the sea-coast, put his two fists over his eyes, and slept the sleep of the ignorant, which is sometimes more profound than that of the just.

Captain Servadac went wandering along the shore of the new sea, in the midst of a tingling of interrogation points, which crossed each other before his eyes.

First, what could be the extent of the catastrophe? Did it prevail over a restricted portion of Africa? Algiers, Oran, Mostaganem—these cities so near each other—had they been spared? Should Hector Servadac believe that his friends—his comrades of the subdivision—were just engulfed with the numerous inhabitants of this coast, or that the Mediterranean, by whatever commotion displaced, had only invaded this part of Algerian territory by the mouth of the Chéliff? That would well explain, to a certain extent, the disappearance of the river. But the other cosmical facts—that would not explain them at all?

Another hypothesis. Was it necessary to admit that the African sea-coast had been suddenly carried to the equatorial zone? That would at once explain the new diurnal arc described by the sun, and the total absence of twilight, but not why days of six hours should replace those of twelve, nor how it happened that the sun should rise in the west and set in the east!

"And meanwhile it is quite certain," Captain Servadac kept repeating, "that to-day we have had only six hours of light, and that the cardinal points are changed, point for point, as a sailor would say, at least as regards the rising and the setting of the sun! Finally, we will see to-morrow where the sun will return—if it does return!"

Captain Servadac had become very distrustful.

It was, indeed, unfortunate that the sky was covered and the firmament did not show its usual twinkling o stars. Though little learned in cosmography, Hector Servadac was not without a knowledge of the principal constellations. He would have seen if the pole star was still in its place, or if, on the contrary, some other star had not replaced it—which would irrefutably prove that the terrestial globe turned on a new axis, and perhaps in an inverse direction, which would already give the reason for many of the circumstances. But no opening was made in those clouds, which seemed dense enough to contain a deluge, and not a star presented itself to the eyes of the disappointed observer.

As to the moon, she was not to be looked for, because she was at the beginning of her first quarter, and consequently she disappeared with the sun below the horizon.

Then what was the surprise of Captain Servadac, when, after an hour and a half's walking, he perceived above the horizon, a strong light whose rays pierced through the curtain of clouds!

"The moon," cried he. "But no, it cannot be she!"

"Is it possible that by chance the chaste Diana should also play her pranks and should rise in the west? No! it is not the moon! She could not produce a light so intense, unless she had approached remarkably near the earth."

In fact, the light diffused by this star, whatever it was, was so considerable that it penetrated the screen of vapors, and a veritable semi-daylight spread over the country.

"Could it be the sun there?" the officer asked himself. "But it is not a hundred minutes since it set in the east! And meanwhile, if it is neither the sun nor the moon, what is it then? Some monstrous bolis? Thousand devils! Those Satanic clouds will not open!"

Then making a reflection on himself:

"I ask you," he said to himself, "could I not have better employed a part of the time I have so foolishly lost, in studying astronomy? Who knows? Perhaps this is all very simple, while I am puzzling my brains to understand it."

The mysteries of this new sky remained unpenetrable. The enormous light, evidently cast by a dazzling disk of gigantic dimensions, illuminated with its rays the upper dome of clouds for about an hour. Then—peculiarity not less surprising—the disk, instead of describing an arc, like every star faithful to the laws of celestial mechanism, instead of descending again below the opposite horizon, seemed to depart, following a line, perpendicular to the plane of the equator, drawing with it that semi-daylight, so refreshing to the eye which vaguely illuminated the atmosphere.

All was darkness again, and Captain Servadac's brain did not escape this general obscurity. The captain understood absolutely nothing.

The most elementary rules of science were violated. The celestial spheres resembled a clock whose mainspring had suddenly become defective. The planets failed to observe all the laws of gravitation, and there was no longer any reason to think that the sun would ever reappear above any horizon of this globe. Three hours after, however, the star of the day, without a dawn at its rising, returned in the west, the morning light whitened the mass of clouds, day succeeded night, and Captain Servadac noted that this night had lasted exactly six hours.

Six hours could not enter into the calculations of Ben-Zouf. It was necessary then to waken the intrepid sleeper.

Hector Servadac shook him without further ceremony.

"Let us go! Rise, and forward!" cried he.

"Ah! captain," replied Ben-Zouf, rubbing his eye "it seems to me that I have not had my allowance!  I have hardly commenced to sleep."

"You have slept all night."

"A night, indeed!—"

"A night of six hours; but you must make it do."

"It will do."

"Forward! No time to lose. Let us return to the hut as fast as possible and see what has become of our horses, and what they think of all this!"

"Doubtless they think," replied the orderly, "that I have groomed them very little since yesterday; so I am going to give them a complete toilet, captain!"

"That is good, that is good! but you will be quick, and, when they are saddled we will undertake an examination. We should at least know what is left of Algeria."

"And then?"

"And then if we cannot reach Mostaganem by the south, we will strike Tenez."

Captain Servadac and his orderly took the path over the cliffs to the hut. As they were very hungry they did not think it wrong to gather on the way figs, dates, and oranges hanging in reach of their hands. In this part of the territory absolutely desolate, of which new plantations had made a rich and vast fruit garden, they had no law proceedings to fear.

An hour and a half after leaving this shore which had been the right bank of the Chéliff they arrived at the hut. There they found all things in the state in which they had left them. No one, evidently, had come to this place during their absence, and the eastern part of the territory seemed to be as desolate as the western part which they had just traveled over.

The preparations for departure were soon made. A few biscuits, and some preserved game filled Ben-Zouf's "musette." As to drink, there was no lack of water. Numerous and limpid brooks rippled across the plain. These old affluents of a river, become rivers in their turn, were now tributaries of the Mediterranean.

Zephyr—that was Captain Servadac's horse—and Galette, (a souvenir of the mill at Montmartre)—that was Ben-Zouf's mare—were saddled in a moment. The two cavaliers mounted their steeds and galloped toward Chéliff.

But, if they had already felt the effects of the diminution of gravity, if their muscular force had appeared to them at least five times greater, the two horses underwent, in the same proportion, the same physical modifications. They were no longer mere quadrupeds. Veritable hippogriffs, their feet hardly touched the soil. Very happily, Hector Servadac and Ben-Zouf were good cavaliers, and with loose rein, they excited rather than restrained their horses.

In twenty minutes the eight kilometres which separated the hut from the mouth of the Chéliff were cleared, and, taking a more moderate rate, the two horses commenced to descend toward the southeast, following the old right bank of the river.

The coast had preserved the appearance which characterized it, when it formed only a simple bank of the Chéliff. But all the land along the other bank of the river, it will be remembered, had disappeared, and it was replaced by a horizon of sea. Thus, then, at least as far as the boundary traced by this horizon, all that portion of the province of Oran, before Mostaganem, must have been submerged during the night of the thirty-first of December and the first of January.

Captain Servadac was well acquainted with this territory which he had explored. He had formerly made the triangulation of it, and he could discover the east With perfect certainty. His object, after having explored it over the greatest extent possible, was to draw up a report which he would address—where, to whom, and when? He could not tell.

During the four hours that remained, the two cavaliers rode about thirty-five kilometers from the mouth of the Chéliff. Night came. They encamped near a slight bend of what had been the river, and opposite which, the evening before the last, the junction of an affluent of its left bank, the Mina, was now absorbed by the new sea.

During this excursion, they had not met a living soul, which did not cease to be surprising.

Ben-Zouf made arrangements for the night's lodgings as well as he could. The horses were secured, and would feed at liberty on the rich grass which carpeted the bank. The night was passed without incident.

The next day, the second of January, that is to say, at the moment when, according to the ancient terrestial calendar, the night of the first and second of January should commence, Captain Servadac and his orderly, mounting their horses, continued the exploration of the coast. Setting out at sunrise, they traveled during the six hours of day a distance of seventy kilometers. The limitation of the territory was always found by the right bank of the river. Only about twenty kilometers from the Mina, an important portion of the bank had disappeared, and with it were submerged the town of Surkelmitten, and the eight hundred inhabitants which it enclosed. And who knows that such was not the fate of the other larger towns of this part of Algeria, situated beyond the Chéliff, such as Mazagrau, Mostaganem and Orleansville?

After having made the circuit of the little bay, newly created by the breaking away of the bank, Captain Servadac again found the bank of the river exactly opposite the place formerly occupied by the mixed community of Ammi-Moussa, the ancient Khamis of the Beni-Ouragh. But there was not left a single vestige of this chief place of the district, not even the peak of Maukura, eleven hundred and twenty-six meters high, on which it was built.

That evening the two explorers camped at an angle which, on this side, abruptly terminated their new domain. It was almost the spot where the important market town of Memounturroy had stood.

There was no longer any trace of it.

"And I intended this evening to take supper and sleep at Orleansville!" said Captain Servadac, while looking at the sombre sea then extended before his view.

"Impossible, captain," replied Ben-Zouf, "unless you go there in a boat!"

"Do you know, Ben-Zouf, that we two—we have had a remarkable escape."

"Good, captain; it is our custom! And you will see that we shall find a way to cross this sea in order to saunter from the side of Mostaganem."

"Humph! If we are on a peninsula—which is to be hoped—it is rather to Tenez that we will go to seek for news."

"Or to give news," very wisely replied Ben-Zouf.

At the return of the sun, six hours later, Captain Servadac could examine the conformation of the territory.

From the point where he had camped during the night, the coast now ran north and south. It was no longer a natural bank as was that of the Chéliff. A break, newly made, ended the ancient plain, and at this angle disappeared, it has been said, the market-town of Memounturroy. Beyond, Ben-Zouf, having leaped on a hill situated behind them, could see nothing more than the horizon of sea. No land in sight. Consequently, nothing of Orleansville, which should be found in the southwest, at a distance of ten kilometers.

Captain Servadac and he then, leaving the camping place, followed the new verge over fallen trees, over fields abruptly cut off, over trees half uprooted and hanging over the waters—among others, some old olive trees, whose trunks, oddly distorted, seemed to have been cut by the hatchet.

The two cavaliers traveled more slowly for the coast, fringed with creeks and capes, obliged them to make incessant detours. It was well if at sunset, after a survey of thirty-five kilometers, they had only reached the foot of the Dj Merjejah mountains which before the catastrophe terminated on this side the chain of the Little Atlas.

At this place the chain was violently rent asunder, and rose in a peak on the sea coast.

The next morning, after clearing, on horseback, one of the gorges of the mountain, Captain Servadac and Ben-Zouf clambered on foot to one of the highest summits, and they finally made an exact examination of this part of Algerian territory, of which, at present, they seemed to be the only inhabitants.

A new coast extended from the base of the Merjejah as far as the utmost shores of the Mediterranean, over a length of about thirty kilometers. No isthmus connected this territory to that of Tenez, which had disappeared. This, then, was not a peninsula but an island that the two explorers had just explored. From the height he occupied, Captain Servadac was, to his great surprise, obliged to state that the sea surrounded it on all sides, and, as far as the eye could reach, he could not discover any appearance of land.

This island, newly cut off in Algerian soil, had the form of an irregular quadrilateral, almost a triangle, whose perimeter could be thus disposed of: One hundred and twenty kilometers on the old right bank of the Chéliff; thirty-five kilometers from the south to the north, in ascending toward the chain of the Little Atlas; thirty kilometers of an oblique line which ended at the sea; and one hundred kilometers of the old sea coast of the Mediterranean—in all, two hundred and eighty-five kilometers.

"Very good!" said the officer, "but why?"

"Bah! why not?" replied Ben-Zouf. "It is like that, because it is like that! If the eternal Father has willed it, captain, we must accommodate ourselves to it all the same!"

Both again descended the mountain, and took their horses, which were tranquilly browsing on the green grass. On this day they pushed forward to the coast of the Mediterranean, without finding any vestige of the town of Montenotte, gone like Tenez, of which not even a ruined house could be seen on the horizon.

The next day, the fifth of January they made a forced march along the Mediterranean shore. This coast had not been so completely respected as the staff-officer thought. Four villages were missing on this coast: Callaat-Chimah, Agmiss, Marabon, and Pointe-Basse. The cape could not resist the shock and were detached from the territory. In addition the explorers had been able to ascertain that their island was absolutely deprived of inhabitants, except themselves, but the Fauna was represented by some herds of ruminants which wandered across the plain.

Captain Servadac and his orderly, in surveying the perimeter of this island, spent five of the new days, in reality, equal to two and a half of the old. It was then sixty hours from the time they left the hut till they returned to it again.

"Ah! well, captain?" said Ben-Zouf.

"Ah! well, Ben-Zouf?"

"Behold yourself Governor-General of Algeria!"

"An Algeria without inhabitants!"

"That's good! Don't I count?"

"Then you would be—?"

"The population, captain, the population!"

"And my rondeau?" said Captain Servadac, as he lay down. "It was well worth the trouble I took with it!"



Ten minutes after, the Governor-General and the population were sound asleep in one of the rooms of the post, as the hut was not yet raised from its ruins. Meanwhile the officer's sleep was slightly troubled by this thought, namely, if he had ascertained so many new effects, the first causes were always unknown to him. Without being a cosmographer an effort of memory recalled to him certain general laws, which he thought he had forgotten. He now asked himself if a change in the inclination of the earth's axis to the ecliptic had not brought about these phenomena. But, if such a change would explain the displacing of the seas, and perhaps the inversion of the cardinal points, it could not produce the shortening of the days nor the diminution of the intensity of gravity on the surface of the globe. Hector Servadac would soon renounce this hypothesis, which continued to torment him considerably, for he was, as they say, at his wit's end. But, doubtless the series of singular events was not ended, and it was possible that some other novelty would put him on the right path. He hoped so at least.

The next day, Ben-Zouf's first care was to prepare a good breakfast. He must make himself as strong as possible! he was as the millions of Algerians.

That was the case or he could never have finished a dozen of eggs, which the cataclysme, that had broken the country, had respected. With a good plate of that "conscousson," which the orderly knew how to prepare remarkably well, they would make an excellent repast.

Now, the stove was there in the station, the saucepan as if it had just come from the hands of the scourer, fresh water was waiting in one of those large water-coolers, whose surface was beaded by evaporation. Alter three minutes' immersion in the boiling water, Ben-Zouf undertook to obtain excellent eggs in the shell.

The fire was lit in a moment, and according to his usual habit, the orderly sang the military refrain.

"Is there salt in the bowl? Is there veal for the stew?"

Captain Servadac, walking in and out, observed the culinary preparations with a curious eye. On the watch for new phenomena, which would put an end to his uncertainty, he was asking himself if some singular events would not yet take place. Would the stove perform its usual functions? Would the modified air still supply it with its contingent oxygen?

Yes, the stove was lit, and under the slightly panting breath of Ben-Zouf, a beautiful flame arose from the twigs, mingled with pieces of coal. Then, in this respect nothing extraordinary.

The saucepan was placed on the stove, water filled the saucepan, and Ben-Zouf waited until, the liquid boiled in order to plunge in his eggs, which seemed empty, they felt so light in his hand.

The saucepan was not more than two minutes on the stove when the water boiled.

"The devil! how the fire burns now," cried Ben-Zouf.

"It is not the fire that burns more," replied Captain Servadac, after reflecting; "it is the water which boils quicker."

And taking a centigrade thermometer which hung on the wail of the post, he plunged it into the boiling water.

The instrument only indicated sixty-six degrees.

"Good!" cried the officer, "behold water which boils at sixty-six degrees instead of a hundred."

"Well, captain?"

"Well, Ben-Zouf, I advise you to leave your eggs in the saucepan a good quarter of an hour, then they will be hardly cooked!"

"But they will be hard."

"No my friend, and it is not likely they will be cooked enough to color our slice of bread."

The cause of this phenomenon was evidently a diminution in height of the atmospheric layer, which agreed with the diminution of the density of the air already observed. Captain Servadac was not mistaken. The column of air above the surface of the globe had been diminished about a third, and that is the reason why the water submitted to less pressure, boiled at sixty-six degrees instead of a hundred. An identical phenomenon was produced on the summit of a mountain, whose altitude would be eleven thousand meters, and if Captain Servadac had possessed a barometer, he would have already ascertained this decrease of the atmospheric column. It was this same circumstance which had caused, with Ben-Zouf and himself, that weakening of the voice, that quicker breathing, and that expansion of the blood vessels, to which they had become accustomed.

"Meanwhile," said he, "it seems difficult to admit that our camp has been transported to such a height, because the sea is there, which bathes the cliffs."

But if, on this occasion, Hector Servadac had drawn just conclusions, he could not yet say what was the cause of them.

Meanwhile, thanks to a longer immersion the eggs were almost cooked. It was the same with the conscousson. Ben-Zouf justly remarked, that in the future he would commence his culinary operations an hour earlier, and he served his captain.

And while the latter was eating with great appetite, in spite of his pre-occupations:

"Well, captain?" said Ben-Zouf, who never introduced a subject without employing the interrogative formula.

"Well, Ben-Zouf?" replied the officer, following the invariable habit that he had of answering his orderly.

"What are we going to do?"

"We are going to wait."

"To wait?"

"Till they come to seek us."

"By sea?"

"By sea necessarily, because we are now camped on an island."

"Then, captain, you think that your comrades—"

"I think, or at least I hope that the catastrophe has limited its ravages to a few points of the Algerian coast, and, that consequently, our comrades are safe and sound."

"Yes, captain, we must hope so."

"Then, it is not doubtful, that the governor-general will wish to have a conversation about all that has passed. He should expedite the sending from Algiers, of some vessel to explore the coast, and I dare to believe we shall not be forgotten. Then, watch the sea, Ben-Zouf, and, as soon as a ship comes in sight, we will make signals to it."

"And if a ship does not come?"

"Then we will construct a boat, and we shall go to them who will not have come to us."

"Good, captain. You are a sailor, then?"

"One is always a sailor when it is necessary to be one," replied the imperturbable staff-officer.

And that is the reason why Ben-Zouf, a telescope to his eyes, did not cease to interrogate the horizon during the following days. But no sail appeared in the field of his lunette.

"In the name of a kabyle!" exclaimed he, "his excellency, the governor-general, is negligent about our condition!"

On the sixth of January, the situation of the two islanders was in no way modified. This sixth of January was the true date, that is, that of the calendar, before the old terrestrial days had lost twelve hours out of twenty-four. Captain Servadac, not without reason, and with the object of being better able to distinguish them, had preferred to hold to the old method. Thus, even though the sun had risen and set twelve times on the horizon of the island, he counted only six days since the first of January at midnight, the commencement of the first day of the civil year. His watch enabled him to note exactly the passing hours. Very evidently, a clock with a pendulum, in the circumstances in which he found himself would only give him false indications, on account o the diminution of weight; but a watch, moved by a spring, is not subject to the effects of attraction, and, if Captain Servadac's watch was good it ought to go on regularly, even after so much trouble brought to the physical order of things.

"Pshaw, captain," said Ben-Zouf, who was somewhat literary, "it seems to me that you are turning into Robinson Crusoe, and that I am turning into Friday! Am I black?"

"No, Ben-Zouf," replied Captain Servadac, "you are still of a pretty white, deep—"

"A white Friday," replied Ben-Zouf. "That is not complete, but I like It better!"

Now, on the sixth of January, having seen nothing coming, the captain judged it right to do what all Robinsons have done before him, that is, to make an inventory of the vegetable and animal resources of his domain.

Gourbi Island—he gave it this name—had a superficial area of about three hundred thousand hectares. Oxen, cows, goats, and sheep were found there in rather great numbers, but the number could not be fixed. Game abounded, and they could no longer fear that it had abandoned the territory. The cereals were not missing. Three months later, wheat, corn, rice, and others, would be ready to store in a barn. Then, the food of the governor, the "population," and the two horses was more than assured. If new inhabitants ever should land on the island, their existence would be quite secure.

From the sixth to the thirteenth of January, the rain fell in great abundance. The sky was constantly covered with thick clouds, which their condensation did not succeed in diminishing. Several great thunderstorms burst out, also meteors rare at that period of the year. But Hector Servadac had not been without observing that the temperature had an abnormal tendency to rise. This was a singularly precocious summer, for it commenced in the month of January! What was still more wonderful, this increase of temperature was not only constant but progressive, as if the terrestrial globe was approaching the sun in a regular and continuous manner. At the same time with the heat, the light became more intense, and but for a thick screen of vapors, which the clouds interposed between the heaven and the surface of the island, the solar irradiation would have lit up terrestrial objects with an entirely new brilliancy.

That it annoyed Hector Servadac not to be able to observe the sun, the moon, and the stars, or any point of the firmament which could have perhaps answered his questions if the fog had been dissipated, will be understood. Ben-Zouf tried once or twice to calm his captain, by preaching to him the resignation which he himself carried as far as indifference; but it was so badly received that he did not hazard any more remarks. He confined himself then to fulfilling properly his duties as a lookout. In spite of the rain, in spite of the wind, in spite of the storm, he mounted guard, day and night on the summit of, the cliff, giving but a few hours to sleep. But it was in vain that he surveyed the horizon, invariably deserted. Besides what ship could have withstood such bad weather, and such squalls of wind? The sea lifted its waves to an inconceivable height, and the hurricane broke loose with incomparable fury. Certainly, at the second period of formation, when the first waters, volatilized by the internal heat, rose in vapors into space, to fall again in torrents on the earth, the phenomena of the diluvian epoch could not have been accomplished with a more surprising violence.

But, on the eighteenth, this deluge ceased as if by enchantment. The last squalls of wind scattered the last clouds during the night of the thirteenth and fourteenth. Hector Servadac, confined for six days in the post, left it as soon as he saw the rain cease and the wind grow calm. He ran to station himself on the cliff. What was he going to read in the stars? That great disc, viewed for an instant on the night of the thirty-first of December and first of January, would it reappear to his eyes? Would the secret of his fate be revealed to him at last?

The sky was resplendent. No vapor vailed the constellations. The firmament was revealed like an immense celestial chart; and a few nebulæ were sketched where the eye of an astronomer, at other times, could not distinguish them without a telescope.

The officer's first care was to observe the pole star, for to observe the pole star, that was the strong point.

It was there, but much lowered toward the horizon and it was probable that it no longer served as central pivot for all the stellar system. In other terms, the axis of the earth, indefinitely prolonged, no longer passed through the fixed point that this star ordinarily occupied in space; and, in fact, one hour after, it had obviously changed its place, and was getting lower in the heavens, as if it belonged to some zodiacal constellation.

It then remained to be found which star took its place, that is to say, through what point of the heavens did the prolonged axis of the earth now pass. It was to this observation that Hector Servadac devoted himself solely for several hours. The new pole star should be immovable, as was the old, in the midst of the other stars, which, in their apparent movement, accomplish around it their diurnal revolution.

Captain Servadac soon discovered that one of these stars, very near the northern horizon, fulfilled these conditions of immobility, and seemed to be stationary among all. It was the star, Wega in the Lyre—the same, which following the procession of the equinoxes, should replace the pole star in twelve thousand years. Now, as twelve thousand years had not elapsed within forty hours, it was necessary to conclude that the axis of the earth had been suddenly changed.

"And then," observed the captain, "not only would the axis be changed, but, as it passes through a point so near the horizon, it must be admitted that the Mediterranean is carried back to the equator."

He fell into a deep reverie, during which his gaze wandered from the Great Bear, become a zodiacal constellation, the tale of which alone appeared above the waters, to those new stars of the southern hemisphere, which for the first time rose on his sight.

A cry from Ben-Zouf brought him back to earth.

"The moon!" cried the orderly.

"The moon?"

"Yes, the moon," replied Ben-Zouf, enchanted to see the "companion of earthly nights," as we say in poetry; and he pointed to a disc which rose opposite to the spot which the sun should occupy.

Was it the moon, or some other inferior planet enlarged by coming nearer? Captain Servadac would have been very much embarrassed by giving an opinion. He took a very powerful glass, which he habitually used in his geodetic operations, and he pointed it at the signalized star.

"If it is the moon," said he, "we must avow that she is considerably removed from us. It will no longer be by thousands; it will be by millions of leagues that its distance will now be calculated."

After a minute observation, he thought he could affirm that it was not the moon. He could not recognize on its pale disc those plays of lights and shadows which give it somewhat the appearance of a human face. He could not find any trace of plains or seas, nor of that aureola of groves which radiate around the splendid Mount Tycho.

"No, it is not the moon," said he.

"Why is it not the moon?" demanded Ben-Zouf, who held particularly to his discovery.

"Because that star there possesses, itself, a little moon, which serves him for a satellite."

In fact a luminous point, which looked like the satellites of Jupiter in the focus of instruments of medium power, showed itself clearly in the field of the telescope.

"But, if it is not the moon, what is it then?" cried Captain Servadac, stamping his foot. "It is not Venus, it is not Mercury, because these two planets have no satellites! And yet the question is that planet there, whose orbit is within that of the earth, since she accompanies the sun in his apparent movement. But, zounds! if it is neither Venus nor Mercury, it can only be the moon, and, if it is the moon, where the devil has she stolen that satellite there?"



The sun soon reappeared, and all the multitude of stars were eclipsed before its intense irradiations. No more observations were possible. They must be put off until the following night, if the condition of the sky would permit them.

In regard to the disc whose light had pierced through the bed of clouds, Captain Servadac had sought in vain for any trace of it. It had disappeared, whether from its remoteness or the wanderings of an eccentric orbit it had been drawn beyond the limits of sight.

The weather had become decidedly magnificent. The wind had become calm, having shifted to the old west. The sun rose always on its new horizon, and set in the opposite one with remarkable exactness. The days and the nights were mathematically six hours long consequently the sun did not deviate from the new equator, whose circle passed through the Island of Gourbi.

At the same time, the temperature increased in a continuous manner. Captain Servadac consulted several times a day the thermometer hung in his room, and on the fifteenth of January he verified that this instrument marked, in the shade, fifty degrees, centigrade.

It will be understood that if the hut had not yet risen from its ashes Captain Servadac and Ben-Zouf had comfortably appropriated the principal room in the post. Having sheltered them from the diluvian rains of the first days, these stone walls also preserved them during the warm days. The heat commenced to become insupportable, all the more so because no cloud tempered the ardor of the sun, and neither Senegal nor the equatorial portion of Africa, had ever received such showers of fire. If this temperature continued all vegetation would be inevitably burned on the island.

Faithful to his principles, Ben-Zouf did not wish to appear surprised at this abnormal temperature; but the perspiration which covered him protested for him. He would not have wished, besides, and in spite of the advice of his captain, to abandon his sentry duty on top of the cliff. There, while observing the Mediterranean, calm as a lake but always deserted, he conscientiously let himself roast. He must have had a double skin, or a skull with blinds to support, with impunity, the perpendicular rays of the sun at midday.

One day Captain Servadac, looking at him, made this remark:

"You must have been at Gabou."

"No, captain, at Montmartre, and it is all alike."

From the moment that the brave Ben-Zouf pretended that it was as warm on his favorite hill as in these intertropical regions, there was nothing more to be said.

This temperature, like ultra dog days, would necessarily affect the productions of the soil on the island of Gourbi. Nature herself felt the consequences of this climatic modification. In a few days the sap had carried life to the extreme branches of the trees. The buds burst, the leaves were developed, the flowers bloomed, the fruits appeared. It was the same with the cereals. Spears of wheat, of corn, sprang up at sight, one could swear to it, and the prairies were decked with a thick herb. It was at once the time of hay-making, harvest time, and the gathering of fruits. Summer and autumn were united in one unique season.

Why was not Captain Servadac better versed in cosmography? He might have said in effect:

"If the inclination of the earth's axis has been modified, and if, as all would seem to indicate, it forms a right angle with the ecliptic, things would pass here as they pass in Jupiter. There would be no more seasons on the globe, but unchangeable zones in which winter, spring, summer, and autumn would be eternal."

And he would not have failed to add:

"But by all the vineyards of Gascony! what can have brought us this change."

This forward season did not cease to embarrass the captain and his orderly. It was very evident that strength would fail for so much work at once. Even if a requisition had been made upon the "population" of the island, he would not have appeared. The extreme heat prevented him from doing his work continuously. However, as yet, there was nothing to be feared in the dwelling. The provisions of the hut were abundant, and besides they could now hope, the sea being calm and the weather magnificent, that a ship would soon pass in sight of the island. In fact, this part of the Mediterranean is much visited either by government vessels on coast service, or by the boats of all nations whose relations are frequent with the smallest points on the coast. This mode of reasoning was correct, but for one reason or another no vessel appeared on the waters of the sea, and Ben-Zouf would certainly have been burned to a cinder on the calcined rocks of the cliff, if he had not sheltered himself under a kind of umbrella.

During this time, Captain Servadac tried, but in vain, to recollect what he had learned at college and school. He gave himself up to furious calculations in order to bring to light this new situation of the terrestial spheroid, but without any success. And meanwhile he should have been led to think that, if the rotary movement of the earth on its axis had been modified, its annual motion round the sun had been equally changed, and that consequently the length of the year could not be the same, whether it was increased or whether it was shortened.

Manifestly the earth was approaching the radiant star. Its orbit was evidently displaced, and this displacement agreed not only with the progressive increase in the temperature, but new observations permitted Captain Servadac to verify this conjunction which brought the globe toward the center of attraction. In fact, the disc of the sun appeared then double in diameter to that which it presented to the naked eye before these extraordinary events.

Observers standing on the surface of Venus—that is to say, at a mean distance of twenty-five millions of leagues—would have seen it as it appeared under these increased dimensions. Then, as a consequence of this remark, the earth was no longer but twenty-five millions of leagues distant from the sun, instead of thirty-eight millions. It remained to be seen if this distance would not still diminish, in which case one might believe that, in consequence of a rupture of the equilibrium, the terrestrial globe would be drawn to the surface of the sun. This would be its complete annihilation.

If the days, then so beautiful, gave every facility for observing the heaven, the nights, no less lovely, put at Captain Servadac's disposal the magnificent whole f the stellar world. Stars and planets were there like the letters of an immense alphabet, which it maddened him not to be able to spell. No doubt the stars would have presented no change to his eyes, either in dimensions or their relative distances. We know, in fact, that the sun which advances toward the constellation of Hercules, with a rapidity of sixty millions of leagues a year, has not yet presented an appreciable change of position, so considerable are the distances of these stars. It is the same with Arcturus, which moves through the sidereal space with the rapidity of twenty-two leagues a second; that is, three times as rapidly as the earth.

But if the stars could teach him nothing, it was not so with the planets, at least with those whose orbits lie within the orbit of the earth.

Two planets are in these conditions: Venus and Mercury. The first revolves at a mean distance of twenty-seven millions of leagues from the sun, the second at a distance of fifteen millions. The orbit of Venus, then, envelopes that of Mercury, and the orbit of the earth envelopes both. Now, after long observations and profound reflections, Captain Servadac reached this conclusion: That the quantity of heat and light actually received by the earth nearly equalled what Venus receives from the sun; say, double what the sun sent it before the catastrophe. Now, if from that he drew this conclusion, that the earth must have drawn much nearer the radiant star, he was otherwise very certain of it when he observed anew this splendid Venus, which even the most indifferent admire, when in the evening or the morning it disengages itself from the rays of the sun.

Phosphorus or Lucifer, Hesperus or Vesper, as the ancients called it; the evening star, the morning star, the shepherd's star—never star received so many names, except perhaps, the star of the night—Venus, finally, presented itself to Captain Servadac under the form of a disc, relatively enormous. It was like a little moon, and its phases were perfectly distinguishable to the naked eye. Sometimes full, sometimes in quadrature; all its parts were clearly visible. The indentments in its crescent showed that the solar rays, refracted by its atmosphere, penetrated into the regions for which the sun must have already set. Proof, then, that Venus possessed an atmosphere, because the effects of refraction were produced on the surface of its disc. Certain luminous points detached from the crescent were so many high mountains, to which Schroeter has had reason to give an altitude ten times the height of Mount Blanc; say, the forty-fourth part of the radius of the planet.

The highest mountains of the earth are 1-740 of its radius.

Now Captain Servadac, about this time, believed himself right in affirming that Venus was not more than two millions of leagues from the earth, and he said so to Ben-Zouf.

"Well captain," replied the orderly, "that's quite good, to be separated by two millions of leagues!"

"That would be some distance for two armies in a country," replied Captain Servadac; "but for two planets, it is nothing."

"What can happen, then?"

"Zounds! we may be going to fall on Venus."

"Ha! ha! captain, is there air over there?"


"And water?"


"Gad! let us go and see Venus."

"But the shock will be frightful, for the two planets appear to move in a contrary direction now, and as their masses appear to be nearly equal, the collision will be terrible for both!"

"Two trains, what do you say? two trains meeting each other?" replied Ben-Zouf, in a calm tone, which threatened to put the captain out of his mind.

"Yes, two trains, animal!" exclaimed Hector Servadac; "but two trains moving a thousand times faster than express trains, which will certainly lead to the destruction of one of the planets—or both, perhaps—and we will see what will then be left of your clod of a hill of Montmartre!"

That was to touch Ben-Zouf to the quick. He ground his teeth together, he clenched his hands, but he controlled himself, and after some moments, during which he succeeded in digesting clod of a hill:

"Captain," said he, "I am there! Command! if there is any means of preventing this meeting."

"There is not, imbecile, and go to the devil!"

On this reply, the discomfited Ben-Zouf left the place, and did not utter another word.

During the following days the distance that separated the two stars grew still less, and it was evident that the earth, in following a new orbit, was going to cut that of Venus. At the same time it was also much nearer Mercury. This planet, seldom visible to the naked eye, unless it be near its greatest digressions eastward or westward, then showed itself in all its splendor. Its phases, analogous to those of the moon, its reverberation of the sun's rays, which poured on it a heat and a light seven times greater than on the terrestrial globe, its frigid and torrid zones, almost entirely blended owing to the great inclination of its axis of rotation, its equatorial belts, its mountains, nineteen kilometers high, all that rendered it worth while to make the most careful observation of this disc, to which the ancients gave the name of "Twinkler."

But the danger did not yet come from Mercury. It was Venus whose shock threatened the earth. Toward the eighteenth of January, the distance between the two stars was reduced to about one million of leagues. The luminous intensity of the planet caused terrestrial objects to cast long shadows. They saw it turn on itself in twenty-three hours and twenty one minutes, which demonstrated that the duration of its days had not changed. They could distinguish the clouds with which an atmosphere, continually loaded with vapors zebraed its disc. They perceived the seven spots which, according to Bian Chini, are true seas communicating with each other. Finally, the superb planet was visible in full daylight, a visibility which delighted Captain Servadac infinitely less than it had delighted General Bonaparte when, under the Directory, he perceived Venus in full mid-day, and willingly allowed it to be said that it was "his star."

On the twentieth of January, the regulated distance assigned to the two stars by celestial science had still decreased.

"In what fright must our comrades in Africa be, and our friends in France, and all the inhabitants of the two continents?" Captain Servadac asked himself from time to time. "What articles must be published by the papers of the two continents? What crowds in the churches? They must believe it is the end of the world I imagine, may God pardon me, that it has never been so near! And I, under these circumstances, am astonished that a ship does not appear in sight of the island to rescue us! Has the governor-general, has the minister of war, time to think of us? Before two days are over the earth will be broken into a thousand pieces, and its fragments will gravitate capriciously in space."

It would not be so.

On the contrary, after this day the two threatened stars seemed little by little, to draw away from each other. Very happily the planes of the orbits of Venus and the earth did not coincide, and in consequence, the terrible collision could not be produced.

Ben-Zouf might well give a sigh of relief, when his captain told him the good news.

On the twenty-fifth of January, the distance was already sufficiently increased, to put an end to all fear in that respect.

"Well," said Captain Servadac, "this approach will always serve to prove that Venus has no moon."

And, in fact, Dominick Cassini, Short, Montaigne de Limoges, Montbarron and some other astronomers have very seriously believed in the existence of this satellite.

"And that is unfortunate," added Hector Servadac, "for that moon, perhaps we should have captured it in passing, which would put two of them at our service. But zounds! I shall not succeed then in getting the explanation of all this derangement of celestial science!"

"Captain," said Ben-Zouf.

"What do you want?"

"Is there not in Paris, at the end of the Luxembourg, a house with a large cap on its head?"

"The observatory!"

"Exactly! Well, are there not gentlemen who live in that cap to explain all this?"


"Then let us wait patiently for their explanation, captain, and be philosophers."

"Ah, Ben-Zouf! do you really know what it is to be a philosopher?"

"Yes because I am a soldier."

"And what is it then?"

"It is to submit when we cannot do otherwise, and that is our case, captain."

Hector Servadac did not reply to his orderly, but it may be believed, that he gave up, for the time at least, wishing to explain what was then inexplicable to him. Besides, an unexpected event was going to take place, whose consequences would be very important.

The twenty-seventh of January, Ben-Zouf, toward nine o'clock in the morning, came quietly into the chamber of the post to seek the captain.

"Captain," said he, in the calmest manner.

"What do you want?" replied Captain Servadac.

"A ship!"

"Animal! you have just told me that as tranquilly as you would tell me the soup is served!"

"Forsooth, because we are philosophers!"



Hector Servadac had rushed out of the post, and, at full speed, he gained the top of the cliff.

A ship was in sight of the island, of that there could be no question, and it was then less than ten kilometers from the coast, but the actual convexity of the earth, abridging the radius of sight, allowed him to perceive only the top of a mast above the waves.

Meanwhile, although the hull of the vessel was not visible, what could be seen of the rigging enabled him to determine to what category of vessels it belonged. It was evidently a schooner, and besides, two hours after she had been signaled by Ben-Zouf, she was perfectly recognizable.

Captain Servadac, his glass at his eye, had not, for an instant, ceased to observe it.

"The 'Dobryna!'" cried he.

"The 'Dobryna!'" replied Ben-Zouf. "It cannot be she. You cannot see her smoke."

"She is under full sail," replied Captain Servadac, "but it is certainly Count Timascheff's schooner."

In fact, it was the "Dobryna," and if the count was on board the greatest of chances was going to bring him into the presence of his rival.

It need not be said that Captain Servadac only saw one of his fellow-creatures, not an adversary, in the man whom the schooner brought to the island, and that he did not dream, for an instant, of the projected meeting between the count and himself nor of the motives which had determined it. Circumstances had changed so much that he only felt the utmost desire to see Count Timascheff and to talk with him over all these extraordinary events. In fact, the "Dobryna", after an absence of twenty-seven days, could have reconnoitered the neighboring coasts of Algeria, sailed as far as Spain, Italy and France, over all the Mediterranean so strangely modified, and, consequently, she would bring news of all these countries from which the Island of Gourbi was now separated. Hector Servadac was then going to learn not only what the importance of the catastrophe had been, but also what might have been the cause which provoked it.

"But where is the schooner going to land," then said Ben-Zouf, "now that the mouth of the Chéliff no Longer exists?"

"She will not land," replied the captain. "The count will send his boat ashore, and we will embark in it."

The "Dobryna" approached, but very slowly, for she could only gain headway by sailing close to the wind. It was very singular that she did not use her engine, for they must have been in a hurry, on board, to examine this new island which rose on the horizon. It was possible, after all, that the fuel had given out, and that the "Dobryna" was reduced to use its sails, which she did very carefully. Happily, although the sky was again furrowed with some fringed clouds, the weather was beautiful, the breeze manageable, the sea lovely, and the schooner, which the swell did not affect, made a good run.

Hector Servadac did not doubt for an instant that the "Dobryna" was trying to land on this coast. Count Timascheff would be very much disconcerted. Where he expected to visit the African continent he would find only an island. Might he not fear, a the same time, that he would not be able to find any refuge on this new coast, and therefore not put in. Perhaps Captain Servadac would do well to look for an anchorage, in case the schooner should hesitate to approach, and, the place found, to indicate it by signals.

It was soon evident that the "Dobryna" was directing its course toward the old harbor of Chéliff.

Captain Servadac quickly made up his mind. Zephyr and Galette were saddled, and their cavaliers mounted and galloped toward the western part of the island. Twenty minutes afterward the staff officer and his orderly alighted and examined that portion of the coast. Hector Servadac soon remarked that in a turning of the point and sheltered by it, lay a little creek, in which a vessel of medium tonnage might usually find shelter.

This creek was covered for the most part by a bed of large stones, between which was a passage for a narrow canal. Even in bad weather the water here would remain calm. But then, while attentively examining the rocks on the shore, Captain Servadac was very much surprised to see traces of a very high water mark, clearly designated by long lands of seaweed.

"Ah, ah!" said he. "There are now real tides in the Mediterranean!" Evidently the flux and reflux of the waters were sensibly felt there, and rose to a considerable height, a new wonder, added to so many others, for until then tides had never been very perceptible in the Mediterranean basin.

At the same time it could be seen that since the highest of these tides, provoked no doubt by the nearness of the enormous disc during the night, of the thirty-first of December to the first of January, the phenomenon had been steadily decreasing, and that it was now reduced to the modest proportions which characterized it before the catastrophe.

But this observation made, Captain Servadac occupied himself with the "Dobryna".

The schooner was now only two or three kilometres from the coast. The signals made to it could not fail to be seen and understood. In fact, she slightly changed her direction and commenced to lower some of her sails. Soon she only carried her two topsails, her brigantine and her staysail, in a manner to be easily handled by the steersman. Finally she turned the point of the island, and working toward the canal, which the staff officer indicated by a gesture, she boldly entered it. A few minutes after, her anchor struck the sandy bottom of the creek, the boat was lowered and Count Timascheff landed on the shore.

Captain Servadac ran toward him:

"Count," cried the staff officer, "before any other explanation, what has happened?"

Count Timascheff, whose unalterable coolness contrasted singularly with the vivacity of the French officer, bowed slightly, and with the peculiar accent of the Russians.

"Captain," he replied, "before any other explanation, allow me to declare that I did not expect the honor of seeing you here. I left you on a continent, and I find you on an island."

"Without my quitting the place, count."

"I know it, captain; and I beg you to excuse me if I have failed at the meeting agreed upon, but—"

"Oh, count," quickly replied Captain Servadac, "we will speak of that later, if agreeable to you."

"I am always at your command."

"And I at yours; only let me repeat the question, what has happened?"

"I was going to ask you, captain."

"What! You know nothing?"


"And you cannot tell me by reason of what cataclysm this portion of the African continent is changed into an island?"

"I cannot."

"Nor how far the effects of the catastrophe have extended?"

"I know no more about it than you, captain."

"But at least, can you tell me if on the northern coast of the Mediterranean—"

"Is it really the Mediterranean?" asked Count Timascheff, interrupting Captain Servadac with this singular question.

"You ought to know better than I, count, for you have just sailed over it."

"I have not sailed over it."

"You have not put in at any point on the coast?"

"Not for a day or an hour; and I have not even seen any land whatever."

The staff officer looked at his interlocutor like a man absolutely stupefied.

"But at least, count," said he "you have observed that since the first of January the east has taken the place of the west?"


"That the length of the day is only six hours?"


"That the attraction of gravitation has diminished?"


"That we have lost our moon?"


"That we have just escaped a collision with Venus?"

"As you say."

"And that, consequently, the annual and rotary motions of the terrestrial globe are modified?"

"Nothing is more certain."

"Count," said Captain Servadac, "please excuse my astonishment. I knew that you could learn nothing from me, but I expected to hear a great deal from you."

"I know nothing more," replied Count Timascheff, "than this: During the night between the thirty-first of December and the first of, January, I was going by sea to our meeting-place, when my schooner was lifted by an immense billow to an inappreciable height. The elements appeared to us overturned by a cosmical phenomenon, the cause of which escapes me. From that moment we have wandered by chance, our engine disabled, having been damaged in several places, at the mercy of the terrible squall which has been let loose for several days. It is a miracle that the 'Dobryna' has resisted it, and I attribute it to this fact, that occupying the center of the vast cycle, her place has been very little changed by the action of the elements. Also we have seen no land, and your island is the first of which we have knowledge."

"Then, count," cried Captain Servadac, "we must put to sea we must explore the Mediterranean, we must see how far the cataclysm has carried its disasters."

"That is my advice."

"Do you offer me a passage on your ship, count?"

"Yes, captain, and to make the tour of the world, if that is necessary for our researches."

"Oh! the tour of the Mediterranean will suffice."

"Who can say?" replied Count Timascheff, bowing his head, "that the tour of the Mediterranean will not be the tour of the world."

Captain Servadac did not answer, but remained thoughtful.

Meanwhile there was nothing better to do than that which had just been decided upon, that is to say reconnoiter, or rather look for what had remained of the African coast, then take to Algiers news of the rest of the inhabited world; then if the southern coast of the Mediterranean had totally disappeared, return to the north, and put themselves in communication with the river population of Europe.

All this time it was necessary to wait till the damages done to the engine of the "Dobryna" were repaired. Several of the tubes leading to the interior of her boiler had opened, and the water leaked into the furnaces. They could not get up steam till these repairs were made. As to sailing, it was at once slow and difficult, if the sea became bad and the wind contrary. Now, as the "Dobryna", fitted out for rather a long cruise to the ports of the Levant, still had sufficient coal to last two months, it was better to utilize this combustible in a rapid transit, ready to take in a new supply at the first port entered.

Then no hesitation in this respect.

Very fortunately, the damage could be promptly repaired. Among the supplies of the schooner were found several spare tubes, which replaced the old ones, now useless.

Three days after its arrival at Gourbi Island, the boiler was ready for use.

During his sojourn on the island Hector Servadac had informed Count Timascheff all that he had observed on his narrow domain. Both surveyed on horseback the perimeter of the new coast, and this exploration made, they had no longer any idea except to seek outside the reason of all that had happened in this part of Africa.

The thirty-first of January the schooner was ready to start. No new change was produced in the solar system.

Only the thermometers commenced to indicate a slight decrease in temperature, which had been excessive for the past month. Was it, then necessary to conclude that the revolution of the globe around, the sun was performed on a new orbit? They could not decide for a few days. As to the weather, it kept imperturbably fine, although new vapors accumulated in the air, and had caused a lowering of the barometer.

But that was not a sufficient reason for delaying the departure of the "Dobryna."

The question now came up, whether Ben-Zouf should or should not accompany his captain. One reason, among many other important ones, caused him to remain on the island. They could not take the horses on the schooner, for it was not fitted to receive them and Ben-Zouf would never consent to be separated from Zephyr and Galette. Besides, the guardian of the new domain, the possibility that strangers might come and land there; the care of a part of the herds, which could not be entirely left to themselves, on the improbable supposition that they might become the only resource of the survivors of the island, etc.: these different motives induced the orderly to remain, and Captain Servadac consented, though with regret. There was not, however, for the brave fellow, any probable danger in not leaving the island. When the new state of things became known, they would return for Ben-Zouf and take him to his country.

On the thirty-first of January, Ben-Zouf, somewhat affected he acknowledged, and invested with all the powers of governor, bade farewell to Captain Servadac. He recommended him, in case that by chance he should strike against Montmartre, to see if the mountain had not been displaced by some phenomenon; and the "Dobryna," leaving the narrow creek under the action of its screw, soon floated in the open sea.



The "Dobryna," admirably and substantially constructed in the ship-builder's yards on the Isle of Wight, was an excellent craft of two hundred tons, which was entirely fitted for a voyage of circumnavigation. Columbus and Magellan never had, by a great deal, ships so large nor so safe when they ventured across the Atlantic and the Pacific. Besides, the "Dobryna" had several months' provisions in its steward's rooms, which, should the case occur, would permit her to make the tour of the Mediterranean without being obliged to re-victual on the way. It must be added that it had not been necessary to increase her ballast at Gourbi Island. In fact, if she weighed less, like all material objects since the catastrophe, the water which carried her also weighed less. The relation of the two weights was then exactly the same, and the Dobryna found itself in the same condition of navigableness.

Count Timascheff was not a sailor. Thus, the direction, if not the command of the schooner, devolved on Lieutenant Procope.

This lieutenant was a man of thirty years. Born on the count's estate, the son of a serf, freed long before the famous edict of the Czar Alexander, by gratitude as much as by friendship, he belonged body and soul to his old master. An excellent sailor, having learned his profession on board government vessels and on merchant ships, he was given a lieutenant's commission when he was transferred to the "Dobryna." It was on board this schooner that Count Timascheff sailed the greater part of the year; running over the Mediterranean during the winter, during the summer plowing the seas of the north.

Lieutenant Procope was a well-taught man, even in things outside of his calling. He reflected honor on Count Timascheff and on himself, having acquired an education worthy of him who had brought him up. The "Dobryna" could not be in better hands. Besides its crew was excellent. It was composed of the engineer Tiglew, of the four sailors Niegoch, Tolstoy, Etkef, Panofka, and of the cook Mochel, all sons o Count Timascheff's tenants, who, on sea, continued the traditions of the great Russian families. These sailors did not worry themselves about the trouble brought to physical science, while their old master shared their destiny.

As to Lieutenant Procope, he was very much disturbed, and he well knew that secretly Count Timascheff experienced the same anxiety.

"La Dobryna" now sailed eastward, moved by her sails and her steam, for the wind was favorable, and she would certainly have proceeded with a speed of eleven knots an hour, if at every moment the high waves had not broken this speed.

In fact, even though the wind, which blew from the west—now the new east—was only blowing a stiff breeze, the sea was, if not very heavy, at least subject to considerable risings, and that is easily understood. The liquid molecules, less heavy, owing to the slighter attraction of the terrestrial mass, rose, by a simple effect of oscillation, to enormous heights. In his time, Arago, who placed the possible elevation of the highest waves at the maximum figure of seven or eight meters, would be singularly surprised to see them carried to a height of fifty and sixty feet. And these were not foaming waves, which rebounds after surging together, but long undulations, and at times they gave the schooner twenty meters difference of level. The "Dobryna," less heavy also since the decrease of attraction, rose with more facility, and, frankly, if Captain Servadac had been subject to sea-sickness, he would have been very sick under such circumstances!

Meanwhile, these risings were not produced suddenly, for they were caused only by a sort of much lengthened swell. Thus, the schooner was no more strained, on the whole, than if she had been subjected to the action of the waves of the Mediterranean, ordinarily so short and so hard. The only inconvenience of the new state of things was, after all, a diminution of the usual speed of the craft.

The "Dobryna" followed, at about a distance of two or three kilometres, the line which the Algerian seacoast ought to occupy. There was no appearance of land in the south. Even though Lieutenant Procope was no longer able even to take the bearings of the schooner's situation, by the observation of the planets, whose respective positions were altered, and, although he could not make his reckoning, that is to say, obtain her longitude and latitude, by calculating the height of the sun above the horizon, because the result of his calculation could no longer be profitably traced on the charts established before the new cosmographic system, meanwhile, the course of the "Dobryna" could be marked out in a sufficiently approximate manner. For one part, the knowledge of the way passed over, obtained by means of the log, for the other, the exact direction indicated by the compass, were sufficient for this small navigation.

It must be said that, very fortunately, the compass had been neither disturbed, nor defective, even for a single moment. The cosmic phenomena had had no influence on the magnetic needle, which always marked the magnetic north in these parts, at about twenty-two degrees from the north of the world. If, then, the east and the west had been substituted the one for the other, in this sense, that the sun rose in the west and set in the east, the north and the south had immovably maintained their position in the order of the cardinal points. They could then be guided by the indications of the compass and of the log, in default of the sextant, whose use was impossible—at least provisionally.

During this first day of exploration, Lieutenant Procope, better instructed on these subjects than the staff officer, explained to him these different particulars in the presence of Count Timascheff. He spoke French perfectly, like most Russians. The conversation had naturally turned on these phenomena, whose cause still escaped Lieutenant Procope, just as it did Captain Servadac. Just now, and from the outset, the subject was the new orbit that the terrestrial globe was tracing through the solar system since the first of January.

"It is evident, captain," said Lieutenant Procope "that the earth no longer follows its usual path around the sun, to which an unknown cause has brought it very much nearer!"

"I am only too sure of it," replied Captain Servadac; "and now the question is, to know if, after cutting the orbit of Venus, we are not going to cut the orbit of Mercury!"

"In the end, to fall and be annihilated on the sun," added Count Timascheff.

"That would be a fall, and a terrible fall!" cried Captain Servadac.

"No," replied Lieutenant Procope; "I believe I can affirm that it is not a fall with which the earth is threatened at this moment! It is not being precipitated toward the sun, and it is incontestably a new trajectory which it is describing around him."

"Have you, then, a proof in support of this hypothesis?" asked Count Timascheff.

"Yes, father," replied Lieutenant Procope, "and a proof which will convince you. In fact, if it were a fall that the earth were sustaining, the final catastrophe would be produced with little delay, and we should be already drawn extremely near to our center of attraction. If it were a fall, it would be because the centrifugal velocity, which, combined with the solar action, causes the planets to revolve in elliptical orbits, has been suddenly destroyed, and, in that case, the earth would take only sixty-four and a half days to fall on the sun."

"And thence you conclude?" asked Captain Servadac.

"That there is no fall," replied Lieutenant Procope. "In fact here it is more than a month already since its orbit has been changed, and, meanwhile, the terrestrial globe has hardly passed beyond that of Venus. It has, then, in this lapse of time, only approached the sun by eleven millions of leagues out of thirty-eight millions, measured by the terrestrial distance. Then we have the right to affirm that it is not a fall which the earth is sustaining. It is a very happy circumstance. Besides, I have reason to believe that we are beginning to recede from the sun, for the temperature has gradually lowered; and the heat is not greater now on the surface of Gourbi Island than it would be in Algeria, if Algeria still were found situated on the thirty-sixth parallel."

"You must be right in your deductions, lieutenant," replied Captain Servadac. "No; the earth is not precipitated on the sun, and it still gravitates around him."

"But it is not less evident," replied Lieutenant Procope, "that, in consequence of the cataclysm, of which we are vainly seeking the cause, the Mediterranean, like the African coast, has been suddenly carried beneath the equatorial zone."

"If there is still an African coast," said Captain Servadac.

"And a Mediterranean," added Count Timascheff.

So many questions to answer! At all events, it appeared certain that, at this period, the earth was receding, little by little, from the sun, and that a fall to the surface of that attracting center was no longer to be feared.

But what was left of that African continent of which the schooner was seeking to find, at least, the remains?

Twenty-four hours after leaving the island, the "Dobryna" had evidently passed before the points which Tenez, Cherchell, Koleah, and Sidi-Ferruch, should occupy on the Algerian coast. Meanwhile, not one of these towns appeared in the field of the telescopes. The sea extended to infinity, there, where the continent should arrest its waves.

Lieutenant Procope could not be deceived, meanwhile, about the direction which he had given the "Dobryna" in taking account of the indications of the compass, of the pretty constant eastward direction of the winds, of the speed of the schooner, drawn from the log, as well as the line traveled over, that day, the date of the second of February, he could announce 36° 47' of latitude, and 0° 44' of longitude, that is to say, the place which the capital of Algeria ought to occupy.

And Algiers, as well as Tenez, Cherchell, Koleah, and Sidi-Ferruch, were engulfed in the depths of the globe.

Captain Servadac, with eyebrows knit, and teeth close together, regarded with a ferocious eye the immense sea, which extended beyond a horizon without limits. All the souvenirs of his life returned to him. His heart was bursting. In this city of Algiers, where he had lived for several years, he recalled his comrades, his friends who were no more. His thoughts traveled to his country—to France. He asked himself if the fearful cataclysm had extended its ravages as far as teat country. Then he tried to find, under these deep waters, some traces of the engulfed capital.

"No!" cried he. "Such a catastrophe is impossible! A city would not disappear altogether! We should find again some waifs from it! The high summits should emerge! From the Casbah, from the emperor's fort, built one hundred and fifty meters high there would remain at least some portions above the waves and unless all Africa has descended into the bowels of the globe, it is very necessary that we should find the vestiges of it!"

It was, in fact, a very extraordinary circumstance, that not a waif floated on the surface of the sea, not one of those broken trees, whose branches ought to drift, not a plank from those vessels anchored in the magnificent bay, twenty kilometres wide, which opened, one month before, between Cape Matifou and Point Pescade.

But, if vision was stopped at the surface of the waters, could they not interrogate them with the sounding-line, and attempt to bring up some waif from the city so strangely gone from view?

Count Timascheff, not wishing that a doubt should remain in Captain Servadac's mind, gave orders to sound. The sounding-lead was furnished with tallow and sent to the bottom.

To the extreme surprise of all, and more particularly to the extreme astonishment of Lieutenant Procope, the sounding-lead indicated a shore of almost the same level, four or five fathoms only below the surface of the sea. This sounding-lead was carried over a large space for two hours, and it never showed those differences of level, which should be presented by such a city as Algiers, built like an amphitheatre. Was it then necessary to admit that the catastrophy once produced, the waters had leveled all this site of the Algerian capital?

It was very improbable.

As to the bottom of the sea, it was composed neither of rocks, nor of mud, nor of sand, nor of shell. The lead only brought up a kind of metallic dust remarkable for its golden irisations, but of which it was impossible to determine the nature. It was not, however, what the sounding-line usually brought up from the Mediterranean bottom.

"You see, lieutenant!" said Hector Servadac, "we are farther from the Algerian coast then you supposed."

"If we were farther from it," replied Lieutenant Procope, shaking his head, "we should not have only five fathoms of depth, but two or three hundred!"

"Then?" demanded Count Timascheff. "I do not know what to think."

"Count," said Captain Servadac, "I ask you as a favor, let us make one point to the south, and see if we shall not find farther off what we are vainly seeking here!"

Count Timascheff consulted with Lieutenant Procope, and the weather being favorable, it was agreed that, for thirty-six hours, the "Dobryna" should descend toward the south.

Hector Servadac thanked his host, and the new route was given to the helmsman.

During thirty-six hours, that is to say, till the fourth of February, the exploration of this sea was made with the most scrupulous care. They were not content with sending under these suspicious waters the lead, which indicated everywhere a fiat bottom of four or five fathoms, but this bottom was scraped with dredging machines, and these dredging machines never encountered either a hewn stone, or the debris of metal, or a piece of broken branch, or even a single specimen of those hydrophytes, or of those zoophytes, with which the soil of the sea is ordinarily sown. Then what bottom was thus substituted for the old Mediterranean bottom?

The "Dobryna" descended as far as the thirty-sixth degree of latitude. In taking the bearings of the countries laid down on the charts of the coast it was certain that she was sailing where formerly extended the Sahel, a massive rock which separates from the sea the rich plain of the Mitidja, where, in other times, arose the culminating point of the Bouzareah, to a height of four hundred meters! And, meanwhile, even after the submerging of the surrounding lands, this summit ought still to appear like an islet above this ocean!

The "Dobryna" always descending, went farther than Douera, the principal town of Sahel; farther than Boufarick, the city with large streets, shaded with plane trees; farther than Blidah, of which they did not even perceive the fortress, which surpassed in height the Sued-el-Kebir by four hundred meters!

Lieutenant Procope, fearing to venture further over this absolutely unknown sea, then asked permission to return toward the north or the east; but, at the request of Captain Servadac, the "Dobryna" made her way farther and farther toward the south.

The exploration was then extended as far as the mountains of Mouzaia, to the legendary grottos, in other times frequented by the Kabyles, which were clothed by the locust trees, the nettle trees and oaks of all species, and which were inhabited by the lions, the hyenas, and the jackals. Their highest summit, which stood six weeks before between Bou-Roumi and Chiffa, ought to emerge to a considerable height above the waves, because its altitude exceeded sixteen hundred meters! They saw nothing, either at this place or on the horizon, on which blended the sky and the sea!

At last it was necessary to return to the north, and the "Dobryna," tacking about, found herself on the waters of the old Mediterranean, without having found any vestige of what had formerly constituted the Province of Algeria.



The sudden engulfment of an important portion of the Algerian colony could no longer be doubted. It was nothing more than a simple sinking of the land below the water. It seemed as if the bowels of the earth, yawning to swallow it, had closed on an entire territory. In fact, the rocky mass of the province was lost without having left a single trace, and a new soil, made of an unknown substance, had replaced the sandy bottom on which the sea had rested.

As to the cause which had brought on this terrible inundation, it always escaped the explorers of the "Dobryna." It was now a matter of interest to discover where these disasters ended.

After serious discussion, it was agreed that the schooner would continue its sail toward the east, along the line which the African continent formerly traced on this sea, the limits of which could no longer be' found.

Navigation presented few difficulties, and it was necessary to profit by the chances then offered by favorable weather and a propitious wind.

But no vestige was discovered by this survey of the coast, which extended from Cape Matifou as far as the frontier of Tunis, nor of the maritime town Dellys, built in an amphitheater, nor any sign on the horizon of that chaise of the Jujura, whose highest point rises to an altitude of two thousand three hundred meters, nor the town of Bugia, nor the abrupt slopes of the Couraya, nor Mount Adrar, nor Dijela, nor the mountains of Little Kabylie, nor the Triton of the ancients, that collection of seven peaks, the highest summit in which measures eleven hundred meters; nor Callo, the ancient port of Constantina; nor Stora, the modern port of Philippeville; nor Bon, situated on its gulf, with a head of forty kilometers. Nothing could be seen neither of Cape Garde, nor of Cape Rose, nor the ridges of the mountains of Edough, nor the sandy douses of the coast, nor Mafrag, nor Calle, celebrated for the important work of its coral fisheries, and even when the sounding line had been for the hundredth time sent to the bottom, it did not bring up even a specimen of beautiful gorphytes of the Mediterranean waters. Count Timascheff then resolved to follow the latitude which formerly crossed the coast of Tunis, as far an Cape Blanc, that is to say, as far as the most northerly point of Africa. At this place the sea, enclosed between the African Continent and Sicily, would perhaps present some peculiarity which would be useful to observe.

The "Dobryna" was held in the direction of the 37th parallel, and on the 7th of February she passed the 7th degree of longitude.

This is the reason which had induced Count Timascheff, with the consent of Captain Servadac and Lieutenant Procope, to persevere in this exploration toward the east.

At this point—although for a long time the enterprise had been given up—the new Saharian Sea had been created, thanks to French influence. This great work, the simple institution of that vast basin of the Tritons, on which was thrown the vessel of the Argonauts had changed to advantage the climatic condition o the country, and monopolized, to the profit of France, all the traffic between Soudan and Europe.

What influence had the resurrection of this ancient sea on the new state of things? It remains to be seen. On a level with the Gulf of Gabes, on the 34th degree of latitude, a large canal now gave access to the waters of the Mediterranean, in that vast depression of ground occupied by Kabir, Charra, and other places. The isthmus lying twenty-six kilometers to the north of Gabes, at the same place where the bay of the Tritons once flowed into the sea, had been cut, and the waters had retaken their old bed from which, for want of a permanent feeding, they had evaporated under the action of the Libyan sun.

Now, was it not at this very place, where the canal had been cut, that the fracture was produced to which they owed the disappearance of a considerable part of Africa. After having descended from there to the 34th parallel, would not the "Dobryna" reach the coast of Tripoli, which, in this case, would have put an irresistible obstacle to the extension of these disasters.

"If having reached that point," Lieutenant Procope very justly said, "we see the waters extend without limit toward the south, we can only return and ask in European countries for a solution of the problem which cannot be solved in these quarters."

The "Dobryna," not sparing its coal, then continued under full steam toward Cape Blanc without seeing Cape Negro or Cape Serrat.

Arrived at the level of Bizerte, that charming city entirely Oriental, they saw neither the lake which surrounded its narrow harbor, nor its mosques, shaded by magnificent palms. The lead, thrown on the bottom of these transparent waters, touched the flat and barren bottom, which invariably underlies the Mediterranean waves.

Cape Blanc, or, to speak more precisely, the spot where the cape projected five weeks before was doubled on the seventh of February. The schooner then cut with her stem the waters which should have been those of the Bay of Tunis. But, of that fine gulf, there remained not a trace, nor of the city, built like an amphitheater, nor of the fort of the arsenal, nor of Goulette, nor of the two peaks of Bou-Kournein. Cape Bon, the promontory which forms the point of Africa, had been, equally with the continent, drawn into the bowels of the earth.

Formerly, before all these strange events, the bed of the Mediterranean in this place, rose in a very steep slope, and formed an ass' back. The frame of earth stood up straight like a backbone, shutting in the Strait or Libya, in which there remained but seventeen meters of water. On each side of the crest, on the contrary, the depth was one hundred and seventy meters. Probably, in the periods of geological formation, Cape Bon had been united to Cape Furina, at the extremity of Sicily, as was Ceuta to Gibraltar.

Lieutenant Procope, a sailor, to whom the Mediterranean was perfectly known in all its details, could not be ignorant of this peculiarity. Here was an opportunity to verify if the bed of the ocean had been recently modified between Africa and Sicily, or if the submarine crest of the Libyan Strait still existed.

Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac and the lieutenant, all three assisted at this operation of sounding. At the word, the sailor standing on the chain-wall of the foresail sent down the sounding lead.

"How many fathoms?" asked Lieutenant Procope.

"Five," replied the sailor.

"And the bottom?"


It was necessary to find the depth on each side of the submarine crest. The "Dobryna" then sailed successively half a mile to the right and to the left, and the sounding of the two depths was made.

Five fathoms always, and everywhere! Bottom invariably flat! Coast immutable! The chain which had emerged between Cape Bon and Cape Furina no longer existed. It was evident that the cataclysm had caused a general leveling of the bed of the Mediterranean. As to the nature of this bed, it was metallic dust and an unknown composition. There were no longer any sponges, sea-anemones, comatules, cydippes, hyalines, hydrophytes, or shells, with which the submarine rocks were formerly covered.

The "Dobryna," putting about, headed for the south and continued its voyage of discovery.

Among the wonders of this voyage it must also be noted that the sea was always deserted. They did not perceive on its surface a single vessel toward which the schooner could have steered, so as to ask for news from Europe. The "Dobryna" seemed to be alone sailing on these abandoned waves, and each person, feeling the isolation around him, asked himself if the schooner was not now the only inhabited place on the terrestrial globe—a new Noah's ark—which held the only survivors of the cataclysm—the only living beings on the earth. On the ninth of February, the "Dobryna" sailed exactly over the city of Dido (ancient Brysa), more entirely destroyed now than Punic Carthage had ever been by Scipio Emilian, than Roman Carthage was by Hassan the Sassanides.

That evening at the moment when the sun disappeared below the eastern horizon, Captain Servadac stood leaning on the taffrail of the schooner, his look wandering vaguely from the heaven, in which a few stars shone through the light vapors, to that sea whose long waves commenced to go down with the wind.

Suddenly, while turned toward the southern horizon, near the bow of the schooner, his eyes received a sort of luminous impression.

He at first thought he was troubled with some optical illusion, and he gazed with still more attention.

A distant light then really appeared, and one of the sailors, whom he called distinctly saw it.

Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope were then warned of this incident.

"Is it land?" asked Captain Servadac.

"Is it not rather a ship with its lights?" replied Count Timascheff.

"Before an hour we shall know all about it," cried Captain Servadac.

"Captain, we shall not know about it before to-morrow," replied Lieutenant Procope.

"You will not then head off this light?" asked Count Timascheff, much surprised.

"No, count; I prefer to lie to under a little sail and wait until daylight. If a coast exists there, I should be afraid to venture during the night on unknown rocks."

The count made a sign of approval, and the "Dobryna," having trimmed her sails so as to make but little headway, let night overspread the sea. A night of six hours is not long and yet this seemed to last a century. Captain Servadac, who had not left the deck, feared every moment that the feeble light would go out, but it continued to shine in the dark just within sight.

"And always in the same place," observed Procope.

"We must then conclude with great probability that it is land we have in sight and not a ship."

-At sunrise, all the glasses on board were turned toward the point which had appeared luminous during the night. The light soon vanished under the first rays of the sun; but, in its place, appeared, six miles from the "Dobryna," a kind of rock singularly cut off. One might say a single island in the middle of this deserted sea.

"It is only a rock," said Count Timascheff, "or rather it is the summit of some engulfed mountain."

Meanwhile, it was necessary to look at this rock, whatever it was, for it formed a dangerous reef which vessels should distrust in the future. They headed for the island, and three-quarters of an hour later, the "Dobryna" was only two cable-lengths from it.

This little isle was a sort of hill, dry, naked, abrupt, which rose about forty feet above the level of the sea. No border of rocks defended the approaches, which made it probable that it had sunk little by little under the influence of the inexplicable phenomenon, until a new point of support preserved it definitely at this height above the waves.

"But there is a habitation on this island," cried Captain Servadac, who, with the glass at his eye, did not cease to seek for the slightest aufractuosities, "and perhaps some survivor—"

To this hypothesis of the captain's, Lieutenant Procope replied by a very significant toss of his head. The island appeared to be absolutely deserted, and in fact, a cannon shot fired by the schooner, brought no inhabitant to the bank.

It was true, meanwhile, that a kind of stone edifice stood on the highest part of the island. This monument in its entirety, resembled an Arab mosque.

The "Dobryna's" boat was soon lowered. Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Lieutenant Procope took their places in it, and four sailors carried them rapidly toward the shore.

A few minutes afterward the explorers jumped on land, and, without losing a moment, they climbed the steep slopes of the island which rose as far as the mosque. There, they were first stopped by a surrounding wall, incrusted with antique remains, such as vases, columns, statues, stelas, disposed without any order and without any reference to art.

Count Timascheff and his two companions, after having made a circuit of the surrounding wall, arrived before a narrow door, wide open, which they entered.

A second door, also open, allowed them to penetrate the interior of the mosque. The walls were sculptured in the Arab style, but these embellishments had no value.

In the middle of the only room in the mosque, rose a tomb of great simplicity. Above it glittered an enormous silver lamp, still containing several liters of oil, and in which was plunged a long lighted wick. It was the light of this lamp which, during the night, had struck Captain Servadac's eye.

The mosque was not inhabited. Its guardian—if it ever had one—had no doubt tied at the moment of the catastrophe. Several cormorants had since taken refuge there, and yet these savage birds had taken flight toward the south when the explorers entered.

An old prayer book was lying on an angle of the tomb. This book, written in French, was open at the special ritual for the anniversary of the twenty-fifth of August.

This was a revelation to Captain Servadac. The point in the Mediterranean that this island occupied, this tomb now isolated in the middle of the sea. The page at which the reader of the hook had stopped, all apprised him of the place in which he and his companions stood.

"The tomb of St. Louis, gentleman," said he.

It was there in fact that the King of France had died. It was there that for more than six centuries French hands had surrounded his tomb with pious devotion.

Captain Servadac knelt before the venerated tomb, and his companions imitated his example with reverence.

This lamp burning on the tomb of a saint, was, perhaps, the only beacon which now lit the Mediterranean, and it would soon be extinguished!

The three explorers then quitted the mosque; next, the deserted rock. The boat took them on board, and the "Dobryna," turning its bow to the south, soon lost sight of the tomb of King Louis IX.—the only spot in the province of Tunis that had been spared by the inexpressible catastrophe.



It was toward the south that the affrighted cormorants had taken their flight on flying from the mosque. This direction indicated perhaps, that there lay toward the south, some land but a short distance off. Thence, a hope to which the explorers of the "Dobryna" clung.

Some hours after leaving the islet, the schooner was sailing over these new waters, whose shallow beds actually covered all the peninsula of Dakhul, which formerly separated the Bay of Tunis from the Gulf of H'Amamat.

Two days later, after vainly seeking the coast of the Tunisian Sahel, she attained the thirty-fourth parallel, which at this place ought to cross the Gulf of Gabes.

No trace remained of the estuary and which opened, six weeks before, the canal of the Saharian Sea and the liquid surface extended toward the west as far as the eye could reach.

For all that, on this day, eleventh February, the cry of "Land!" at last echoed through the spars of the schooner, and a coast appeared where, geographically speaking, they ought not as yet to find it.

In fact, this coast could not be the Tripolitan seacoast, which is generally low, sandy, and difficult to distinguish from a great distance. Besides the coast should be situated two degrees further south.

Now, the new land, which was very hilly, extended principally from the west to the east, and shut off all the southerly horizon. On the left it cut the Gulf of Gabes into two parts, and concealed the isle of Djerba, which formed the termination of it.

This land was carefully traced on the charts of the coast, and they concluded that the Saharian Sea bad been partly filled up by the appearance of a new continent.

"Thus, then," observed Captain Servadac, "after having till now ploughed the Mediterranean where formerly lay the continent, behold how we encounter the continent where the Mediterranean should be."

"And in those latitudes," added Lieutenant Procope, "we do not see one of those Maltese vessels, not one of those Levantine zebecks, which ordinarily frequent them."

"The question now is," then said Count Timascheff, "to decide if we shall follow this coast toward the east or toward the west."

"Toward the west, if you will permit, count," quickly replied the French officer. "I would at least know, if beyond the Chéliff, there is nothing left of our Algerian Colony. In passing we can take off my companion whom I have left on Gourbi Island, and we shall push forward to Gibraltar, where, perhaps, we shall obtain news from Europe."

"Captain Servadac," replied Count Timascheff, with that reserved manner which was habitual to him, "the schooner is at your disposal. Procope, give your orders accordingly."

"Father, I have an observation to make to you," said the lieutenant, after reflecting a few moments.


"The wind blows from the west, and it tends to freshen," replied Procope. "With steam alone, no doubt we shall gain against it, but not without extreme difficulty. In sailing toward the east, on the contrary, with sails and machinery, the schooner will reach the Egyptian coast in a few days and there, at Alexandria or any other point, we shall find the information which could be furnished by Gibraltar."

"You hear, captain," said Count Timascheff, turning toward Hector Servadac.

The latter, whatever desire he might have to draw near the province of Oran and to see Ben-Zouf, found the observation of the lieutenant very true. The breeze from the west was freshening, and the "Dobryna" could not make a rapid voyage against it, while the breeze in her yards, she would soon make the Egyptian coast.

The head was then put to the east. The wind threatened to increase to a strong gale. Happily, the long swell ran in the same direction as the schooner, and the waves did not foam.

For fifteen days, they had been able to state that the temperature, which had greatly decreased, gave no more than an average of from fifteen to twenty degrees above the thermometrical zero. This decrease, which was progressive, was due to a natural cause, that is to say, to the increasing distance of the globe on its new trajectory. No doubt could exist in this respect. The earth, after having approached its attracting center till it passed beyond the orbit of Venus, was gradually receding, and was then more distant than it had ever formerly been in its aphelion positions. It seemed that on the first of February it had returned to thirty-eight millions of leagues from the sun, as it was on the first of January, and that, since then, its distance was increased about a third. That resulted not only from the decrease in the temperature, but also from the aspect of the solar disc, which then subtended an arc visibly reduced. Seen from Mars, it was precisely this same diameteral reduction which it would present to the eye of an observer. They could then draw the deduction that the earth was arriving at the orbit of that planet, whose physical constitution is almost similar to its own. Whence this conclusion, that the new orbit that it was called to traverse though the solar system, took the form of an ellipse of great eccentricity.

Meanwhile, these cosmic phenomena did not then pre-occupy the explorers of the "Dobryna." They no longer disquieted themselves with the disordered movements of the globe in space, but only with the changes accomplished on its surface, and whose importance still escaped them.

The schooner followed then, at a distance of two miles, the new coast line and, truly, any vessel driven near that coast, would be inevitably lost if it could not keep away from it.

In fact, the line of the new continent did not offer a single place of refuge. At its base, which the long waves, coming from a distance, beat with violence, it was absolutely rock-bound, and rose perpendicularly to a height which varied from two hundred to three hundred feet. This base, smooth as the wall of a curtain, did not present a projecture on which the foot could find support. Above was carved a forest of spires, of obelisks, of pyramids. One might say a sort of enormous concretion, of which the crystalizations measured more than a thousand feet in altitude.

But that was not the strangest aspect of this gigantic rock. That which would exceedingly astonish the explorers of the "Dobryna," was that it seemed to be "all new." Atmospheric action did not appear to have altered, as yet, either the purity of its edges, or the clearness of its lines, or the color of its substance. Its profile was sketched against the sky with an incomparable certainty of design. All the blocks which composed it, were polished and brilliant, as if they were at that moment brought out of the mold of a castor. Their metallic lustre, pricked with golden irisations, recalled that of pyrites. It was to be determined if a single metal, similar to that of which the sounding-lead had brought up the dust from under the sea, did not form this massive rock, which Plutonian forces had cast above the waters.

Another observation in support of the first. Ordinarily, and in whatever part of the globe they may be, the most arid masses of rocks are plowed by moist threads which the condensation of the vapors produce on their surface, and which flow away according to the caprice of the slopes. Besides there is no cliff so desolate that it does not bring forth some stone plants and does not shelter some tufts of bushes requiring little soil. But here, nothing, neither the finest thread of crystal, nor the most meagre verdure. Also, not a bird animated this hard territory. Nothing lived there, nothing moved there, neither in the vegetable kingdom nor in the animal kingdom.

The crew of the "Dobryna," then, were not astonished that the birds of the sea, albatrosses, gulls and waggels, as well as rock-doves, came to seek refuge on the schooner. No shot could keep away these flying creatures, which, night and day, remained perched on the yards.

Were some scraps of food thrown on the deck, they immediately threw themselves upon it, fighting with fury, eating with voracity. To see them so famished one might believe that there was not a single point of these coasts which could yield them any ailment. At all events, it was not this coast, because it appeared to be entirely devoid of plants and of water.

Such was the strange coast, which the "Dobryna" skirted for several days. Its profile was changed at times, and then presented for several kilometres, a single edge, clear and clean, as if it had been closely joined. Then the great prismatic lamels re-appeared in an inextricable entanglement. But never, at the foot of the cliff, extended either a beach of sand, or a shore of pebbles, or a shoal of these rocks which generally strew shallow waters. Rarely did narrow creeks open here and there. Not a watering-place was seen, in which a ship could take in its provision of water. Every where lay expanded those large strange roadsteads, which were perceived on three points of the compass.

The "Dobryna," after following the coast for about four hundred kilometres, was stopped at last by an abrupt turn of the coast. Lieutenant Procope who had, hour after hour, drawn on the chart the outline of this new continent, stated that the cliff then ran from the south to the north. The Mediterranean then was shut in at this place, almost on the twelfth meridian. Did this barrier extend as far as the lands of Italy and Sicily? They would know before long, and, if that was so, this vast basin, whose waters bathe Europe, Asia, and Africa, would find itself reduced one-half.

The schooner, persisting in exploring all the points of this new bank, turned its head to the north, and steered right toward the lands of Europe. Veering in that direction for some hundreds of kilometres, she would soon have some knowledge of Malta, if, all this time, the old isle, which was successively possessed by the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Sicilians the Romans, the Vandals, the Greeks, the Arabs, and the knights of Rhodes, had been spared by the cataclysm.

But there was nothing of it, and, the 14th of February, the sounding-lead, lowered on the site of Malta, only brought up the same metallic dust, covered by the Mediterranean waves, and of which the nature remained unknown.

"The ravages have extended beyond the African Continent," then observed Count Timascheff.

"Yes," replied Lieutenant Procope, "and we cannot even assign a limit to the fearful disaster!"

"Now, father, what are your projects? To what part of Europe should the 'Dobryna' be directed?"

"To Sicily, to Italy, to France!" cried Captain Servadac, "there where we may at last know—"

"If the 'Dobryna' does not carry on board of her the only survivors of the globe!" responded Count Timascheff, gravely.

Captain Servadac did not utter a word for his sad presentiments were the same as Count +Timascheff's. Meanwhile the head had been changed, and the schooner passed beyond the point where the parallel and the meridian of the lost island crossed each other.

The coast was projected always south and north, and prevented all communication with the Gulf of Sidra, the ancient great quicksands, which formerly extended as far as the land of Egypt. It was also certain that, even in northern parts, access by sea was no longer possible to the banks of Greece and the ports of the Ottoman Empire. Then, impossible to go, by the Archipelago, the Dardanelles the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, the Black Sea, to land on the southern confines of Russia.

The schooner, even if this project ought to be put in execution, had then only one route to follow, that of the west, so as to gain the northern portions of the Mediterranean.

She attempted it on the day of the 14th of February. But as if the elements wished to fight against her, the wind and the waves united their efforts to stop her voyage. A furious tempest arose, which made the sea very difficult for a vessel of only two hundred tons to withstand. The danger became very great, for the wind beat against the coast.

Lieutenant Procope was extremely uneasy. He had been obliged to furl all his sails, to haul down his top-masts; but then reduced to the action of the engine, he could not gain against the bad weather. The enormous billows raised the schooner one hundred feet in the air and plunged it as many into the midst of the gulf which opened between the waves. The screw, most frequently turning upon nothing, had no longer any effect on the liquid layers, and lost all its power. Although the steam was raised to its greatest tension, the "Dobryna" recoiled before the hurricane.

In what port could they seek refuge? The inaccessible coast offered none! Would Lieutenant Procope be reduced to this extremity of giving up the ship entirely? He asked himself the question. But then what would become of the shipwrecked ones if indeed they could find a footing on this steep cliff? What resources could they expect from this land of hopeless aridity? Their provisions exhausted, how should they renew them? Could they hope to find beyond this inaccessible frame some undestroyed portion of the old continent?

The "Dobryna" tried to resist the tempest, and her crew, brave and devoted, worked with the greatest coolness. Not one of these sailors, confiding in the skill of their chief, and the solidity of their ship, gave way for a moment. But the machinery was forced at times to the point where an explosion was imminent. Besides, the schooner no longer felt her screw, and, being without sails, for it had not been possible to put up even a storm-jib on account of the hurricane, she was driven toward the coast.

All the crew were on deck, comprehending the hopeless situation in which the tempest placed them. The land was then not more than four miles to leeward, and the "Dobryna" was drifting thither with a speed which no longer left any hope of keeping her off.

"Father," said Lieutenant Procope to Count Timascheff, "the power of man has its limits. I cannot resist this drift which is carrying us away!"

"Have you done all that a seaman could do?" asked Count Timascheff whose face betrayed no emotion.

"All," replied Lieutenant Procope. "But, in less than an hour, our schooner will be cast against the Coast!"

"In less than an hour," said Count Timascheff so as to be he heard by all, "God may have saved us!"

"He will not save us unless this continent open to give a passage to the 'Dobryna!'"

"We are in the hands of the One who can do all things!" replied Count Timascheff, taking off his hat.

Hector Servadac, the lieutenant, the sailors, without breaking the silence, imitated him reverently.

Procope, considering it impossible to keep away from the land, then took every measure to reach the coast under the best conditions. He determined that the shipwrecked ones, if a few should escape this furious sea, would not be without resources during the first days of their presence on the new continent. He had brought on deck cases of food and casks of fresh water, which, fastened to empty hogsheads, might float after the destruction of the vessel. In a word, he took every precaution which a sailor could take.

In truth, he had no longer any hope of saving the schooner! The immense wall did not present a creek, not an opening in which a damaged ship could take refuge. The "Dobryna" could only be relieved by a sudden veering of the wind, which would throw it back on the main; or, as Lieutenant Procope had said, if God would miraculously open the rocks to give it passage-way. But the wind did not change. It could not change.

Soon the schooner was but one mile from the coast. They saw the enormous cliff gradually increase, and by an optical illusion, it seemed as if the cliff would fall on the schooner, and crush it. In a few minutes the "Dobryna" was no more than three cable lengths away. There was not a person on board who did not think that his last hour was come!

"Farewell Count Timascheff," said Captain Servadac offering his hand to his companion.

"To God, captain," replied the count, pointing to heaven.

At this moment the "Dobryna," lifted by the monstrous waves, was about to be crushed against the cliff.

Suddenly a voice resounded:

"Come, be nimble boys! Hoist the standing-jib Hoist the storm-jib! Right the helm!"

It was Procope, who, standing forward on the "Dobryna," gave these orders. Unexpected as they were, the crew rapidly executed them, while the lieutenant, running aft, seized the steering-wheel.

What did Lieutenant Procope intend? No doubt to direct the schooner so that it would strike forward.

"Attention!" cried he, then. "Have an eye on the sheets!"

At this moment a cry resounded—but it was not a cry of terror which escaped every breast.

An opening in the cliff about forty feet wide, at the most, appeared between two perpendicular walls. It was  a refuge, if not a passage.

The "Dobryna," moving under the hand of Procope pushed by the wind and the sea, rushed in! Perhaps it would never come out!



"I will take your bishop, with your permission," said Brigadier Murphy, who after hesitating for two days, actually decided to make this play, long meditated.

"I will permit it because I cannot help you," replied Major Oliphant, absorbed in contemplating the chessboard.

This happened during the morning of the 17th of February—old calendar—and the whole day went over before Major Oliphant answered the move of Brigadier Murphy.

However, it is necessary to say this game of chess was commenced four months before, and that the two adversaries had as yet made but twenty moves. Both of these men belonged to the school of the illustrious Phillidore, who pretends that no one is skilled in this game unless he knows how to move the pawns, which he calls "the soul of chess." Thus far not a pawn had been thoughtlessly given up.

Brigadier Henage Finch Murphy and Major Sir John Temple Oliphant never risked anything, they acted under all circumstances with mature deliberation.

Brigadier Murphy and Major Oliphant were two honorable officers of the English army, whom fate had united at a distant station where they charmed away the leisure hours playing chess.

Both were about forty years old. Both were tall, both were red-haired their faces ornamented with the most beautiful whiskers in the world at an angle where their long mustaches ended, always in uniform, always phlegmatic very proud of being English, and owing to a natural pride, enemies of all that is not English they willingly admitted that the Anglo-Saxon is formed out of a special clay which has thus far escaped all chemical analysis.

These officers might have been two puppets, but puppets which the birds would have feared, and who wonderfully defended the field confided to their care. The English make themselves at home everywhere, even when fate sends them several thousand leagues from their country; and, much inclined to colonize, they will colonize the moon on whatever day they can raise the English flag there.

The cataclysm which bad so profoundly changed one portion of the terrestrial globe was accomplished, it must be said without having caused any immoderate astonishment either to Major Oliphant or Brigadier Murphy, two types of men really exceptional. They found themselves suddenly isolated with eleven men at a post which they occupied at the moment of the catastrophe; and of the enormous rock, where several hundred officers and soldiers were in barracks with them the night before, there remained now but a narrow island surrounded by an immense sea.

"Ah, ha!" the major was contented with saying, "this is what one might call a strange circumstance."

"Very strange, indeed!" simply replied the Brigadier.

"But England is there?"


"And her vessels will come and bring us home?"

"They will come."

"Then let us remain at our post."

"At our post."

The two officers and the eleven men would have had some difficulty in leaving their posts even if they had willed it, for they only owned a simple cutter. The continents of the night before had become islands, so the ten soldiers and their servant Kirke waited, the most patient in the world, for the moment when some vessel would come and give them news of their mother country.

However, the rations of these brave men were safe. In the vaults of the island there was enough to feed thirteen stomachs—even thirteen English stomachs—for at least ten years. Now, when the salt beef, the ale and the brandy were there—"All right," as they say.

As for the physical phenomenon which had been produced, such as the change in the cardinal points, east and west, diminution of the intensity of gravity on the surface of the globe, the shortening of the days and nights, the deviation of the rotary axis, the projection of a new orbit in the solar system, neither the two officers nor their men, after having proved them, gave themselves any more uneasiness about them. The brigadier and the major had replaced on the chess-board the pieces overturned by the shock, and they had phlegmatically continued their interminable game. Perhaps the bishops, the knights, and the pawns, lighter now were less steady than formerly on the surface of the chess-board—the kings, the queens, above all whose grandeur exposed them to more frequent falls; but with some precaution Oliphant and Murphy finished by solidly securing their little ivory army.

It has been said that the ten soldiers imprisoned on the island were not otherwise preoccupied with cosmical phenomena. To be more exact, it must be added, that one of these phenomena caused two complaints on their part.

Three days after the catastrophe, Corporal Pim being the interpreter for the men, had demanded an interview with the two officers.

The interview having been granted, Corporal Pim, followed by nine soldiers, entered the room of Brigadier Murphy. There, his hand to his orderly's cap encamped on his right ear and held below the lower lip by the strap, tightly laced in his red jacket and floating in his greenish pantaloons, the corporal awaited the good pleasure of his chief.

These stopped their game of chess.

"What does Corporal Pim want?" asked Brigadier Murphy, raising his head with dignity.

"To make an observation to my brigadier relation the payment of the men," replied Corporal Pim, "and to make a second to my major, relating to the provisions."

"Let the corporal make his first observation," replied Murphy, with an approving gesture.

"It is in reference to our pay, your honor," said Corporal Pim. "Now that the days have diminished a half, will the pay be diminished in the same proportion?"

Brigadier Murphy, taken unawares, reflected an instant, and several nods indicated that he found the observation of the corporal very opportune. Then he turned toward Major Oliphant, and after having exchanged a look with his colleague:

"Corporal Pim," said he, "the pay being calculated  on the time which elapses between sunrise and sunrise whatever the duration of that interval the pay will remain the same as usual. England is rich enough to pay her soldiers."

This was an amiable way of saying that the English army and her glory were united in a single thought.

"Hurrah! Replied the ten men," but without raising the voice any more than if they had said "thank you."

Then Corporal Pim turned toward Major Oliphant.

"The corporal may make his second complaint," said the major looking at his subordinate.

"It is in reference to our food, your honor," said Corporal Pim. "Now that the days are but six hours long have we a right to only two meals instead of four?".

The Major reflected an instant and made a sign of approbation to Brigadier Murphy, indicating that he found Corporal Pim truly full of sense and logic.

"Corporal," said he, "the physical phenomena have nothing to do with military regulations. You and your men will have your four meals at intervals of an hour and a half. England is rich enough to conform to the laws of the universe when the regulations exact it!" added the major, bending lightly toward Brigadier Murphy, delighted to appropriate to a new point in question the saying of his superior officer.

"Hurrah!" repeated the soldiers, accentuating a little more the second manifestation of their content.

Then turning on their heels, Corporal Pim at their head they left with regulation step the room of the two officers, who at once resumed their interrupted game.

The English are right in counting on England, for England never abandons her own; but no doubt she was at that moment very much occupied. Amazed at the success of the Saharian Sea, created by Captain Roudaire, and not wishing to be outdone by France, England had founded an Australian Sea in the middle of Australia. The succor so patiently awaited did not come. Perhaps, after all, they were ignorant in the north of Europe of what had taken place in the south.

Meanwhile, forty-nine of the old days of twenty-four hours had elapsed since that memorable night of the thirty-first of December to the first of January and no vessel, English or otherwise had appeared on the horizon.

That portion of the sea, overlooked by the island, although one of the most frequented on the globe, remained invariably deserted. But neither officers nor soldiers felt the least anxiety, nor the least surprise, nor, in consequence the slightest symptom of discouragement. All did their duty as usual, and regularly mounted guard. Regularly also, the brigadier and the major reviewed the garrison. All besides found themselves perfectly well, under a diet which visibly fattened them and if the two officers resisted these warnings of obesity it was because their rank interdicted any excess of flesh of a nature to compromise the uniform.

To sum up, these Englishmen passed their time properly on the island.

The two officers having the same character and the same tastes, agreed on all points. An Englishman, besides, is never bored, unless it be in his own country, and then, it is only so as to conform with the demands of what he calls "can't."

As for those of their companions who had disappeared, they regretted them, no doubt, but with a caution entirely British; given on the one side, that there were eighteen hundred and ninety-five men before the catastrophe, on the other side, that there were found but thirteen afterward, a simple subtraction had taught them, that eighteen hundred and eighty-two failed to answer the roll-call, and that had been mentioned in the report.

It has been said that the island, resting on an enormous rock, which rose to a height of two thousand four hundred metres above the level of the sea—now occupied by thirteen Englishmen—was the only solid point which appeared above the water in these quarters.

This is not exactly correct. In fact, a second island, almost similar to the first, emerged in the south, at a distance of about twenty kilometres. This was the upper part of a rock which was formerly the counterpart of that on which the English were. The same cataclysm had reduced both to the condition of two rocks hardly habitable.

The second island—was it deserted, or did it serve as refuge for some survivor of the catastrophe?

It was this that the English officers asked themselves, and, very probably between two moves of their game of chess, they fully discussed this question. It even seemed to them important enough to be completely elucidated, for one day; profiting by the fine weather, they embarked in the boat, crossed the arm of the sea which separated the two islands, and they did not return until thirty-six hours afterward.

Was it a sentiment of humanity which led them to explore that rock? Was it a feeling of an entirely different nature? They said nothing of the result of this excursion, not even to Corporal Pim.

Was the island inhabited? The corporal knew nothing about it. At all events the two officers departed alone and returned alone. However, Corporal Pim, in spite of their reserve, could understand that they were satisfied. A large enclosure was then prepared by Major Oliphant, signed by Brigadier Murphy, then sealed with the seal of the Thirty-third Regiment, in a manner to be immediately sent to the first ship which should appear in sight of the island. The paper bore this address;

"First Lord of the Admiralty,
"United Kingdom".

But no boat appeared. The eighteenth of February arrived, and no communications had been established between the island and the metropolitan administration. On that day Brigadier Murphy, as he wakened, had said to Major Oliphant:

"To-day, is a holiday for every truly English heart."

"A great holiday," replied the major.

"I do not know," said the brigadier, "that the peculiar circumstances in which we are at present should prevent two officers and ten soldiers of the United Kingdom from observing a royal anniversary."

"I do not think so," replied Major Oliphant. "If her majesty is not yet in communication with us, it is because she has not thought it proper to be so."


"A glass of port, Major Oliphant."

"Willingly, Brigadier Murphy."

This wine, which seems especially reserved for English consumption, was lost in the British mouth, which cockneys call "a potato trap," but what they might justly name "the place where the port disappears," by analogy with the place where the Rhone disappears.

"And now," said the brigadier, "let us proceed, according to regulations, with the usual salute."

"According to regulations," replied the major.

Corporal Pim was sent for, and appeared, his lips still wet with his morning brandy.

"Corporal Pim," said the Brigadier to him, "to-day is the eighteenth of February, if we count as all good Englishmen should, according to the old method of the British calendar."

"Yes, your honor," replied the corporal.

"To-day is the royal anniversary." The corporal made a military salute.

"Corporal Pim," continued the brigadier, "twenty-one cannon shot, according to the order."

"At your orders, your honor."

"Ah! corporal," added the brigadier, "be as careful as possible that those who serve do not have their arms taken off."

"As much as possible," replied the corporal, who did not wish to promise more than he could perform.

Of the numerous pieces which formerly adorned the fort, there remained but one large cannon charged at the mouth, of a calibre of twenty-seven centimetres. This was an enormous engine, and although the salutes were ordinarily made with ordnance of less dimensions, it was necessary to employ this gun because it formed, by itself, the whole artillery of the island.

Corporal Pim, after having named his men, went to the reduct, protected with blinds which allowed the discharge to pass through an oblique embrasure. They brought the cartridges necessary for the customary twenty-one shots. It will be understood that only powder was used.

Brigadier Murphy and Major Oliphant, in full uniform, and wearing their plumed hats, came to assist in the operations.

The cannon was charged according to the rules of the "Artillery Manual," and the joyful detonations commenced.

After each shot, following the advice which had been given him, the corporal watched that the light was carefully applied so as to prevent the discharge being premature, and thus changing the arms of the rammers into projectiles, a phenomenon frequently produced during public rejoicings.

At this time there was no accident.

It is proper to observe here, that on this occasion, the layers of air, less dense, shook with less noise under the force of the gases emitted by the cannon, and that, consequently, the detonations were not as loud as they would have been weeks before, a circumstance which caused the two officers much displeasure. No more of those loud reverberations which were echoed by the rocky cavities, and which transformed the sudden sound of the discharges into rolling thunder. No more of those grand rumblings which the elasticity of the air carried great distances. It will be understood that under these circumstances the self-respect of the two Englishmen, just in a humor to celebrate the royal anniversary, was compromised to a certain extent. Twenty shots had been fired.

At the moment of charging the piece for the twenty-first time, Brigadier Murphy stopped the soldier by a movement of his hand.

"Put in a ball," said he, "I shall not be sorry to learn the new range of this piece."

"It will be a new experience," replied the major. "Corporal, you have heard."

"At your orders, your honors," replied the Corporal Pim.

One of the soldiers brought, in a wagon, a solid ball which could not weigh less than two hundred pounds, a ball which the cannon usually sent to a distance of two leagues. Following the ball with a glass during its trajectory they could easily see the point where it would fall into the sea, and consequently estimate approximately the actual range of the enormous piece of ordnance.

The gun was charged, it was pointed at an angle of forty-two degrees, in a manner to increase the development of the trajectory, and at a word from the major it was fired.

"By Saint George!" cried the brigadier.

"By Saint George!" cried the major.

The two exclamations were uttered at the same time. The two officers stood opened-mouthed, and could not believe their eyes.

In fact, it had been impossible to follow the projectile, on which the attraction acted less than it would on the surface of the earth.

They could not, even with glasses, discover its fall into the sea. They could only conclude that it had lost itself beyond the horizon.

"More than three leagues!" said the brigadier.

"More—yes—certainly!" replied the major.

"And—was it an illusion?" To this detonation of the English piece, there seemed to reply a feeble detonation which came from the distance.

The two officers and the soldiers listened, holding their ears with the utmost attention.

Three more successive detonations were heard from the same direction.

"A ship!" cried the brigadier; "and, if it is a ship, it can only be an English ship!"

Half a hour later the two masts of a vessel appeared above the horizon.

"England comes to us!" cried Brigadier Murphy in the tone of a man in whose favor event had decided.

"She has recognized the sound of our gun," replied Major Oliphant.

"Provided our ball has not reached the vessel," murmured Corporal Pim to himself.

Half an hour later the hull of a vessel was perfectly visible upon the horizon. A long line of black smoke spreading on the sky indicated that it was a steamer. Soon they could recognize a steam schooner, which, above all, approached the island with the evident intention of landing there. A flag floated at its gaff but it was still difficult to distinguish the nationality.

Murphy and Oliphant their glasses to their eyes, had not lost sight of the schooner, and were in a hurry to salute its colors.

But, suddenly the two glasses were lowered as by an automatic and simultaneous movement of the two arms, and the officers looked at each other, stupefied, saying:

"The Russian Flag!"

And in fact the white bunting on which was carved the blue cross of Russia, floated at the gaff of the schooner.



The schooner rapidly came alongside of the island, and the Englishmen could read on its stern breast-work the name "Dobryna."

A turn of the rocks formed in the southern part a little creek, which could not have contained fishing vessels; but the schooner would find there a sufficient and even sure anchorage, on condition that the winds from the south and the west did not freshen. She then entered this creek. They let go the anchor, and a four-oared boat, carrying Count Timascheff and Captain Servadac, soon came alongside of the island.

Brigadier Murphy and Major Oliphant, inflexible and constrained, waited gravely.

It was Hector Servadac who, impetuous as a Frenchman, first addressed them.

"Ah! gentlemen," cried he, "God be praised! You have, like us, escaped the disaster, and we are happy to shake hands with two of our fellow-beings."

The English officers, who had not taken a single step, did not make even a single gesture.

"But," continued Hector Servadac, without remarking this superb stiffness, "have you news from France, from Russia, from England, from Europe? Where has this phenomenon stopped? Are you in communication with the mother country? Have you?"

"To whom have we the honor of speaking?" asked Brigadier Murphy, standing in such a manner as not to lose an inch of his height.

"That is right," said Captain Servadac, who made an imperceptible shoulder movement; "we have not yet been introduced to each other."

Then, turning toward his companion, whose Russian reserve equaled the British coldness of the two officers:

"Count Wassili Timascheff," said he.

"Major Sir John Temple Oliphant," replied the brigadier, presenting his colleague.

The Russian and the Englishman saluted each other. "The staff, Captain Hector Servadac," said Count Timascheff in his time.

"Brigadier Henage Finch Murphy," replied Major Oliphant in a grave tone.

A new salutation of the newly presented.

The laws of etiquette had been rigorously observed. They could talk without embarrassment.

It follows, of course, that all this was said in French, a language as familiar to the English as to the Russians—a result which Captain Servadac's countrymen have obtained by taking it into their heads to learn neither Russian nor English.

Brigadier Murphy, having made a gesture with his hand, preceded his guests, whom Major Oliphant followed, and he conducted them to the room which his colleague and he occupied. It was a sort of casemate, hollowed in the rock, but which did not lack a certain amount of comfort. Each took a seat, and conversation could follow a regular course.

Hector Servadac, whom so much ceremony had irritated, left Count Timascheff to speak. The latter understanding that the two Englishmen were annoyed because they had not heard what was said before the introduction, took up the subject from the beginning. (Ab novo.)

"Gentlemen," said he, "you know, of course, that a cataclysm, of which we have not yet been able to determine either the cause or the extent, took place during the night of the 31st of December to the 1st of January. To see what remains of the territory that you occupied before—that is to say, this islet—it is evident that you have felt the effects of it exceedingly."

The two English officers bowed, as a sign of approbation, and with the same movement of the body.

"My companion, Captain Servadac," continued the count, "has himself had a great deal of experience in this matter. He was occupying a station, in his position as staff officer, on the coast of Algeria."

"A French colony, I believe?" asked Major Oliphant, half closing his eyes.

"All that is left of it is French," replied Captain Servadac, in a dry tone.

"It was toward the mouth of the Chéliff," continued Count Timascheff, phlegmatically. "There, during that fatal night, a part of the African Continent was suddenly transformed into an island, and the rest seems to have completely disappeared from the surface of the globe."

"Ah!" from Brigadier Murphy, who received the news with a single interjection.

"But you, count," asked Major Oliphant, "may I know where you were during that fatal night?"

"At sea, sir, on board of my schooner, and I consider it a miracle that we have not been lost, bodies and goods."

"We can only congratulate you, count," replied Brigadier Murphy.

Count Timascheff continued in these terms:

"Chance having led me toward the Algerian coast, I was very glad to find on the new isle Captain Servadac, also his orderly, Ben-Zouf."

"Ben!" repeated Major Oliphant.

"Zouf!" cried Hector Servadac, as if he had uttered "ouf!" to relieve himself.

"Captain Servadac," continued Count Timascheff "being eager to gather some news, embarked on board the 'Dobryna,' and taking our course toward the old east, we sought to find out what remained of the Algerian Colony. * * * * Nothing was left of it."

Brigadier Murphy made a slight movement of the lips as if to indicate that a colony, as it was French, could not be very solid. On which, Hector Servadac half rose to reply, but he succeeded in controlling himself.

"Gentlemen," said Count Timascheff, "the disaster has been immense. On all this eastern portion of the Mediterranean, we have no longer found a single vestige of the old lands, nor of Algeria, nor of Tunis, save a point, a rock which emerged near Carthage and which contained the tomb of the King of France."

"Louis IX., I believe," said the brigadier.

"Better known by the name of Saint Louis, sir!" exclaimed Captain Servadac, to which Brigadier Murphy returned a half smile of acquiescence.

Then Count Timascheff told how the schooner had descended to the south as far as the latitude of the Gulf of Gabes; that the Saharian Sea no longer existed—which the two Englishmen seemed to think quite natural, because it was a French creation; that a new coast, of a strange material, had emerged near the Tripolitan seacoast, and that it extended to the north, following the twelfth meridian, nearly as far as the latitude of Malta.

"And this English isle," Captain Servadac hastened to add, "Malta with its city, its Gouletté, its forts, its soldiers, its officers, and its governor, is gone, it also to join Algeria in the abyss."

The faces of the two Englishmen darkened for a moment, but almost immediately their countenances expressed great doubt of what the French officer had just said.

"This entire engulfing is rather difficult to admit," observed Brigadier Murphy.

"Why?" asked Captain Servadac.

"Malta is an English island," replied Major Oliphant, "and, in this respect—"

"It has disappeared as well as if it had been Chinese!" replied Captain Servadac, sharply.

"Perhaps you have made an error in your bearings during the voyage of the schooner?"

"No, gentlemen," said Count Timascheff, "no error has been made, and we must admit the evidence."

"England has certainly a great share in the disaster. Not only the island of Malta no longer exists, but a new continent has completely closed the bed of the Mediterranean. Except for a narrow passage which at a single point breaks the line of its coast we could never have reached you. It is unhappily proven that if there no longer remains anything of Malta, there remains but very little of the Ionian Isles, which for several years have been under the English protection!"

"And I do not believe," added Captain Servadac, "that the Lord High Commissioner, your Chief, who resided there, has had reason to congratulate himself on the result of this cataclysm."

"The High Commissioner, our Chief!" replied Brigadier Murphy, who did not appear to understand what was said to him.

"Not more than you have had reason to congratulate yourselves," continued Captain Servadac, "on what is left to you of Corfu."

"Corfu?" replied Major Oliphant.

"The captain has indeed said Corfu."

"Yes! Cor-fu," repeated Hector Servadac.

The two Englishmen, truly astonished, remained a moment without answering, asking themselves what was the matter with the French officer; but the surprise was still much greater when Count Timascheff wished to know if they had recently received news from England, either by English vessels or by the submarine cable.

"No, count, for this cable is broken," replied Brigadier Murphy.

"Well gentlemen, are you no longer then in communication with the continent by the Italian telegraph?"

"Italian?" said Major Oliphant. "You intend to say doubtless the Spanish telegraph."

"Italian or Spanish," replied Captain Servadac, "never mind, gentlemen, if you have received news from the metropolis."

"No news," replied Brigadier Murphy.

"But we are without anxiety and that cannot delay—"

"Unless there is no more metropolis," said Captain Servadac seriously.

"No more metropolis!"

"Which must be if there is no longer an England."

"No longer an England!"

Brigadier Murphy and Major Oliphant had risen mechanically as if they had been forced up by a spring.

"It seems to me," said Brigadier Murphy, "that before England, France itself—"

"France ought to be more solid, because it belongs to the continent," replied Captain Servadac, who was growing angry.

"More solid than England?"

"England is only an island after all, and an island of a material already sufficiently broken to enable it to be entirely annihilated."

A scene was going to take place. The two Englishmen stood on their dignity and Captain Servadac was well decided not to give in.

Count Timascheff wished to calm these adversaries whom a simple question enraged, but he could not succeed.

"Gentlemen," said Captain Servadac coolly, "I believe this discussion would gain by being followed in the open air. You are at home here and if you will be pleased to come out—"

Hector Servadac left the room and was immediately followed by Count Timascheff and the two Englishmen. All met on a piece of level ground which formed the upper part of the island, which the captain, in his thoughts, considered quasi neutral ground.

"Gentlemen," then said Captain Servadac, addressing the two Englishmen, "impoverished as France may be since it has lost Algeria, it is in a condition to reply to all provocations, from whatever quarter they may come! Now, I, a French officer, I have the honor to represent it on this isle, with the same authority with which you represent England!"

"Very good," replied Brigadier Murphy.

"And I shall not suffer—"

"Nor I," said Major Oliphant.

"And as we are here on neutral ground—"

"Neutral?" cried Brigadier Murphy. "You are here on English soil, sir!"


"Yes, on a soil which the British flag covers." And the brigadier showed the flag of the United Kingdom, floating from the highest summit of the island.

"Bah!" uttered Captain Servadac, ironically. "Because you have been pleased to plant that flag since the catastrophe."

"It was there before. A flay of a protectorate, and not of possession, gentlemen."

"Of a protectorate!" cried the two officers.

"Gentlemen," said Hector Servadac, stamping on the ground, "this isle is all that now remains of the territory of a representative republic, over which England has never had any thing but a right of protection."

"A republic!" replied Brigadier Murphy, whose eyes opened wide.

"And still," continued Captain Servadac, "it is singularly open to discussion, this right, ten times lost, ten times recovered, that you have arrogated to yourselves over the Ionian Isles."

"The Ionian Isles?" cried Major Oliphant.

"And here, at Corfu!"


The amazement of the two Englishmen was such that Count Timascheff, till then very reserved, all ready to take part with the staff-officer, believed he ought to interfere in the discussion. He was then going to address himself to Brigadier Murphy, when the latter, addressing Captain Servadac in the calmest tone said:

I must not leave you longer in an error of which I cannot divine the cause. You are here on a soil which is English by right of conquest and possession since 1704, a right which has been confirmed by the Treaty of Utrecht. Several times, it is true, France and Spain have tried to contest it—in 1127, in 1779, in 1782—but without success. Then you are as much in England on this islet, small as it is, as if you were in Trafalgar Place in London."

"Then, we are not in Corfu; even in the capital of the Ionian Isles?" asked Count Timascheff, with an accent of the most profound suspense.

"No, gentlemen, no," replied Brigadier Murphy. "Here you are in Gibraltar."

"Gibraltar!" This word struck the ears of Count Timascheff and the staff-officer like a thunder-bolt. They thought they were in Corfu, at the eastern extremity of the Mediterranean, and they were at Gibraltar, at the western extremity, and that, though the "Dobryna" had never turned back during the voyage of exploration.

There was a new fact, then, of which it was necessary to deduce the consequences. Count Timascheff was going to do so, when cries attracted his attention. He turned round, and to his great surprise, he saw the men of the "Dobryna" quarreling with the English soldiers.

What was the cause of this altercation? Simply a discussion between the sailor Panofka and Corporal Pim. And why this discussion? Because the projectile thrown by the cannon, after having broken one of the spars of the schooner, had at the same time broken Panofka's pipe—not without slightly cutting his nose, which was perhaps somewhat long for a Russian nose.

Thus, while Count Timascheff and Captain Servadac had some trouble in coming to an understanding with the English officers, behold! The men of the "Dobryna" threatened to come to blows with the garrison of the islet.

Naturally, Hector Servadac took part with Panofka, and drew this reply from Major Oliphant, that England was not responsible for its projectiles, that it was the Russian sailor's fault, that that sailor was where he ought not to be during the passage of the ball, that besides, if he had been snub-nosed, that would not have happened, etc.

Upon that, in spite of all his reserve, Count Timascheff took offense, and after an exchange of haughty words with the two officers, he gave orders to his crew to re-embark immediately.

"We shall see each other again, gentlemen," said Captain Servadac to the two Englishmen.

"Whenever you please!" replied Major Oliphant.

In truth, before this new phenomenon, which placed Gibraltar there where, geographically, Corfu should be situated, Count Timascheff and Captain Servadac could have only one idea: to reach, the one Russia, the other France.

That is the reason the "Dobryna" set sail immediately, and, two hours after, they no longer saw anything of what remained of Gibraltar.



The first hours of the voyage were employed in discussing the consequences of the new and unexpected fact which had just been revealed. If they could not deduce from it the whole truth, at least the count, the captain and the lieutenant, Procope, were going to penetrate still farther into the mystery of this strange situation.

In fact, what did they know now, and in an incontestable manner? It was that the "Dobryna," leaving the Island of Gourbi, that is to say, starting from the first degree of western longitude, had not been stopped by the new coast until it reached the thirteenth degree of eastern longitude.

It was then to sum up a survey of fifteen degrees. Adding to this the length of the strait which had afforded them a passage through the unknown continent, perhaps about three and a half degrees, then the distance which separated the other end of the Strait from Gibraltar, say about four degrees, then finally that which separated Gibraltar from Gourbi Island, say seven degrees, it made in all twenty-nine degrees.

Then, starting from the Island of Gourbi, and returning to the point of departure, after having sensibly followed the same parallel, in other words, after having described an entire circumference, the "Dobryna" had by approximation traversed twenty-nine degrees.

Now, counting eighty kilometres to a degree, this was a total of two thousand three hundred and twenty kilometres.

From the moment when in the place of Corfu and the Ionian Isles the navigators of the "Dobryna" had found Gibraltar, they had concluded that all the rest of the terrestrial globe comprising three hundred and thirty-one degrees, had been absolutely lost. Before the catastrophy, in order to go from Malta to Gibraltar by an eastern direction, it would have been necessary to traverse the second eastern half of the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, Sunda, the Pacific and the Atlantic. Instead of this enormous distance, a narrow strait of sixty kilometers had been sufficient to bring the schooner eighty leagues from Gibraltar.

Such were the calculations established by Lieutenant Procope, and, in allowing for possible errors they were sufficient by approximation, to serve as a basis for a number of deductions.

"From the fact," said Captain Servadac, "that the 'Dobryna' has returned to her starting-point without having changed her head, we must conclude that the terrestrial spheroid has now a circumference of but two thousand three hundred and twenty kilometers."

"Yes," replied Lieutenant Procope, "which reduces its diameter to only seven hundred and forty kilometers, that is one sixteenth of its size before the catastrophy, because, then it measured, twelve thousand seven hundred and ninety-two kilometers. It is incontestable that we have just made the tour of what remains of the world!"

"Behold what explains several of the singular phenomena that we have observed thus far," said Count Timascheff. "Thus, on a spheroid reduced to these dimensions, the gravity could not but be decreased, and I comprehend even that the rotary movement on its axis may have been accelerated in such a manner that the interval of time between sunrise and sunrise would be no longer more than twelve hours. As to the new orbit which it describes around the sun—" Count Timascheff stopped not well knowing how to connect this phenomenon with his new system.

"Well, Count?" asked Captain Servadac, "as to this new orbit?"

"What is your opinion on this subject, Procope" replied the count, addressing the lieutenant.

"Father" replied Procope "there are not two ways of explaining the change of orbit; there is but one, one alone!"

"And that is?" cried Captain Servadac with singular vivacity, as if he had a presentiment of what the lieutenant was going to say.

"It is," replied Procope, "to admit that a fragment is detached from the earth, carrying a portion of the atmosphere with it, and that it goes through the solar system following an orbit that is no longer an orbit of the earth."

After this plausible explanation, Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac, and Lieutenant Procope remained silent for some minutes. Thoroughly startled, they reflected on the incalculable consequences of this new state of affairs. If, really, an enormous section had been detached from the terrestrial globe, where was it going? What importance could be attributed to the eccentricity of the elliptical orbit that it now followed? At what distance from the sun would it be impelled? What would be the duration of the revolution around the centre of attraction? Would it move like comets for hundreds of millions of leagues through space, or would it be soon drawn toward the source of all heat and of all light? Finally, would the plane of its orbit coincide with that of the ecliptic, and might they entertain a hope that a meeting would one day re-unite it to the globe from which it had been so violently separated?

It was Captain Servadac who first broke the silence, crying, as if in spite of himself:

"No, zounds! Your explanation, Lieutenant Procope, explains many things, but it is not admissible!"

"Why not, captain?" replied the lieutenant; "it appears to me, on the contrary, to answer every objection."

"No, indeed; there is one, at least, which is not explained by your hypothesis."

"Which one?" demanded Procope.

"Let us see," replied Captain Servadac, "let us understand each other. You persist in believing that a piece of the globe, now become the new asteroid which carries us, and comprising a part of the Mediterranean basin, from Gibraltar to Malta, travels through the solar system?"

"I persist in believing it."

"Very well, then, lieutenant, how do you explain the rising of the singular continent which encircles this sea at present, and the special contexture of its shores? If we were carried on a piece of the globe, the piece would certainly preserve its old granite or calcareous frame-work, and it would not offer, on its surface, this mineral concretion, whose composition even baffles us!"

This was a serious objection which Captain Servadac made to the lieutenant's theory. In fact, they might conceive, strictly, that a fragment was detached from the globe, drawing with it a part of the atmosphere and a portion of the Mediterranean waters; they could even admit that its translatory and rotary movements were no longer identical with those of the earth; but why, instead of the fertile shores which bordered the Mediterranean on the south, west and east, this abrupt wall, without sign of vegetation, and of which even the nature was unknown?

Lieutenant Procope was embarrassed by this objection, and he confined himself to saying that, the future, no doubt, held in reserve many solutions for the moment undiscoverable. In any case, he did not believe that he ought to deny the admission of a system which explained so many unaccountable things. As to the first cause, it still escaped him. Ought they to admit that an expansion of the central forces had been able to detach such a section from the terrestrial globe and hurl it into space? It was very uncertain. In this problem so complex, how many more unknown quantities to be found?

"After all," said Captain Servadac, in conclusion, "it does not matter about gravitating in the solar system on a new star, if France is with us!"

"France—and Russia!" added Count Timascheff.

"And Russia," replied the staff officer, who was anxious to admit the count's legitimate claim.

And now, if this were really but a piece of the globe which moved following a new orbit, and if this piece had the form of a spheroid—a fact which would allot it very limited dimensions—ought they not to believe that a part of France, and at least, the greater part of the Russian Empire, had remained on the old earth? The same with England: and besides, the failure of communications during six weeks between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, seemed to indicate that they were no longer possible, either by earth, by sea, by post, or by telegraph.

In effect, if the isle of Gourbi, as they must believe—considering the constant equality of the days and nights—occupied the equator of the asteroid, the two poles north and south should be removed from the isle a distance equal to half the circumference sailed over during the voyage of the "Dobryna," say about eleven hundred and sixty kilometers. That would carry the Arctic Pole five hundred and eighty kilometers to the north of Gourbi Island, and the Antarctic Pole the same distance to the south. Now, when these points had been fixed on the chart, it was certain that the north pole did not extend beyond the coast of Provence, and that the south pole fell in the African desert at the altitude of the twenty-ninth parallel.

Now, was Lieutenant Procope right in persisting in this new theory? Had a section really been torn from the terrestrial globe? Impossible to say. To the future belonged the solution of the problem; but perhaps it would not be rash to admit that, if he had not yet discovered the whole truth, Lieutenant Procope had made a step toward it.

The "Dobryna" had regained magnificent weather, beyond the narrow opening which united the two extremities of the Mediterranean in the ports near Gibraltar. The wind was favorable and, under the double action of the breeze and steam, she ran rapidly to the north.

We say the north, and not the east, because the Spanish coast had totally disappeared, at least the portion formerly comprised between Gibraltar and Alicant. Neither Malaga, nor Almeria, nor Cape Gata, nor Cape Palos, nor Carthagena occupied the place assigned to them by their arranged geographies. The sea had covered all that part of the Hispanic peninsula, and the schooner advanced to the altitude of Seville, to find, not the Andalusian shore, but a cliff, identical with the one of which she had already taken the bearings beyond Malta.

Starting from this point the sea cut deep into the new continent, forming an acute angle, of which Madrid should occupy the apex. Then, the coast descending to the south, encroached in turn on the old basin and stretched away like a threatening claw beyond the Baléares.

While deviating a little from their route, so as to find some traces of this important group of islands, the explorers made an unexpected discovery.

It was the twenty-first of February. It was eight o'clock in the morning, when one of the sailors, stand lug on the fore of the schooner, cried:

"A bottle in the sea!"

This bottle might contain a precious document which, perhaps, would refer to the new condition of things.

At the cry of the sailor, Count Timascheff, Hector Servadac, and the lieutenant, all ran toward the fore-castle. The schooner was worked in a manner to near the object signalled, which was soon taken up and hoisted on board.

It was not a bottle, but a leathern case, the kind which is used to enclose telescopes of medium size. The cover had been carefully adjusted with wax, and, if the immersion of this case was recent, the water had not been able to penetrate it.

Lieutenant Procope, in the presence of the count and the staff-officer, attentively examined this case.

It bore no manufacturer's stamp. The wax, which rendered the cover adherent, was intact, and it had preserved the impress of a seal, on which was read these two initials:

"P. R."

The seal was broken, the case was opened, and the lieutenant drew out a paper which the sea-water had respected. It was only a simple quadrilled page, taken from a memorandum-book, and bearing these words, followed by interrogation and exclamation points, the whole in a large back-hand:

"Gallia???  (Ab sole.)
"From the Sun, on the 15th of Feb., dist, 59,000,000l!
"Distance traveled over from Jan. to Feb., 82,000,000l.
"(All right.) Perfect!!! Vabene!"

"What does it mean?" asked Count Timascheff, after having turned the sheet of paper in every direction.

"I know nothing about it," replied Captain Servadac, "but, what is certain is, that the author of this document, whoever he is, was alive on the fifteenth of February, because the document mentions this date."

"Evidently," replied Count Timascheff.

As for the document, it was not signed. They found these words in Latin, Italian, English, and French, the last more numerous than the others.

"This cannot be a hoax," said Captain Servadac. "It is very evident that this document refers to the new cosmographical order of which we suffer the consequences! The case in which it is enclosed has belonged to some observer, sailing on board a ship."

"No, captain," replied Lieutenant Procope, "for that observer would certainly have put the document into a bottle, where it would have been much safer from the damp than in a leathern case. I think, rather that some savant, living alone on some safe point of the coast, and wishing to make known the result of his observations, has utilized this case, less precious to him, perhaps, than if it were a bottle."

"It matters little, after all!" said Count Timascheff. "At this moment, it is more useful to explain the meaning of this singular document than to seek to find out its author. Let us proceed, then, in order. And first, what is this Gallia?"

"I know no planet, large or small, which bears the name," replied Captain Servadac.

"Captain," then said Lieutenant Procope, "before going any farther, permit me to ask you a question."

"Ask it, lieutenant."

"Do you not think that this document seems to justify that last hypothesis, according to which, a fragment of the terrestrial globe must have been projected into space?"

"Yes—perhaps," replied Hector Servadac, "although the objection based on the matter composing our asteroid always exists!"

"And, in that case," added Count Timascheff, "the savant in question has given the name Gallia to the new star."

"It must be then a French savant," observed Lieutenant Procope.

"That is to be supposed," replied Captain Servadac. "Observe that, out of eighteen words which compose the document, there are eleven French words against three in Latin, two in Italian, and two in English. That would also prove that the said savant not knowing into whose hands the document would fall, has employed words from different languages to increase its chances of being understood."

"Let us admit that Gallia is the name of the new asteroid that gravitates in space," said Count Timascheff, "and let us go on. 'Ab Sole,' from the sun, distance on the fifteenth of February, fifty-nine millions of leagues."

"That was really the distance which separated Gallia from the sun at that period when she cut the orbit of Mars," replied Lieutenant Procope.

"Good," replied Count Timascheff. "Behold the first point of the document agrees with our observations."

"Exactly," said Lieutenant Procope.

"Distance traveled over from January to February," went on Count Timascheff, continuing to read, "eighty-two millions of leagues."

"He means by that, evidently," replied Hector Servadac, "the distance traveled over by Gallia on her new orbit."

"Yes," added Lieutenant Procope, "and in virtue of the Laws of Kepler, the velocity of Gallia, or what means the same thing, the area passed over in equal times, should diminish progressively. Now, the highest temperature we have suffered was felt precisely on the date of January fifteenth. It is then probable that at that date, Gallia was at her perihelion; that is to say, her nearest approach to the sun and that she traveled then with a velocity double of that of the earth, which is only twenty-eight thousand eight hundred leagues an hour."

"Very well," replied Captain Servadac, "but that does not indicate to us what distance Gallia will travel from the sun during her aphelion, or what we may hope or fear in the future."

"No, captain," replied Lieutenant Procope, "but, with good observations, made at various points from the trajectory of Gallia, we shall succeed certainly in determining its elements, in applying to it the laws of universal gravitation."

"And, consequently, the path that she should follow in the solar system," said Captain Servadac.

"In effect," replied Count Timascheff, "if Gallia is an asteroid, it is like all the wanderers, subject to this laws of motion, and the sun regulates its course as it regulates that of the planets. The moment that this section was separated from the earth, it was seized by the invisible chains of attraction, and its orbit is now immutably fixed."

"At least," replied Lieutenant Procope, "unless, perhaps, some troublesome star comes later to modify this orbit. Ah! Gallia is a very little wanderer compared with the other wanderers of the solar system, and the planets may have an irresistible influence on it."

"It is certain," added Captain Servadac "that Gallia can take false steps on the way and deviate from the right road. After that, gentlemen, please to remark, we reason as if it had been proved that we had become Galliens! Eh! who can say that this Gallia of which the document speaks, is not simply a little planet of the one hundred and seventieth order, lately discovered?"

"No," replied Lieutenant Procope, "that cannot be. In fact the telescopic planets move in a narrow zone comprised between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Consequently, they never approach the sun as near as Gallia has approached at her perihelion. And this fact need not be doubted, because the document agrees with our own hypothesis."

"Unhappily," said Count Timascheff, "instruments fail us to make observations, and we cannot calculate the elements of our asteroid."

"Who knows?" replied Captain Servadac.

"We end by knowing everything, sooner or later!"

"As for the last words of the document," replied Count Timascheff, "'Va bene!—all right! Perfect!!!' they signify nothing."

"If it be not," replied Hector Servadac, "that the author of the document is enchanted with the new state of things, and finds that all is for the better in the best of impossible worlds."



Meanwhile, the "Dobryna," after passing around the enormous promontory which blocked the northern route, steered toward the place where Cape Creux ought to project.

The explorers talked, one might say, day and night, of these strange things. The name of Gallia occurred frequently in their discussions, and imperceptibly, almost unconsciously it took for them the value of a geographical name; that is to say, that of the asteroid which was carrying them away in the solar system.

But these discussions could not make them forget that they were engaged in making an examination, rendered indispensable, of the Mediterranean coast. So the schooner always followed keeping as close to it as possible, the new outline of this basin, which, very likely, formed the only sea of Gallia.

The upper coast of the enormous promontory joined the very place which Barcelona ought to occupy on the Iberian sea-coast; but this coast, as well as the important city, had disappeared, and, without doubt, it was buried under those waters whose surf beat the new cliff a little in the rear. Then, this cliff, being inflected toward the northeast, came to bite the sea again precisely at Cape Creux.

Nothing was left of Cape Creux.

There commenced the French frontier, and one can understand what Captain Servadac's thoughts must have been when he saw that a new soil was substituted for the soil of his country. An insuperable barrier rose in front of the French coast, and it allowed nothing to be seen.

Erect as a perpendicular wall, more than a thousand feet high, as arid, as steep, as 'new' as it had been seen at the other end of the Mediterranean, it was developed on the same parallel where those charming shores of southern France should be traced.

Near as the schooner hugged this coast, nothing appeared of what had in other times formed the maritime boundary of the Department of the Eastern Pyrenees, nor Cape Beam, nor Port-Vendres, nor the mouth of the Tech nor the pool of Saint Nazaire, nor the mouth of the Tet, nor the pool of Salces. On the frontier of the Department of the Ande, formerly so picturesquely diversified with ponds and islands, she did not find even a single bit of the district of Narbonne. From Cape Agde, on the frontier of Herault, as far as the Gulf of Aigues-Mortes, nothing remained, either of Cette or of Frontignan, nothing of that arch which the district of Nimes formerly bathed in the Mediterranean, nothing of the plains of Crau and of Camargue nothing of that capricious estuary of the mouths of the Rhone. Martigues, disappeared! Marseilles, destroyed! It must be believed that one should never see again, even a single point of the European Continent which had borne the name of France.

Hector Servadac, well as he was prepared for any event, felt as if overwhelmed in presence of this reality. He no longer saw any vestige of those banks whose sites were all familiar to him. Sometimes when a curve of the coast rounded toward the north, he hoped to find portion of the French soil, which had escaped the disaster; but as far as the slope was prolonged nothing reappeared of what had been that marvelous coast of Provence. When the new outline did not limit the old boundary, the waters of this strange Mediterranean then covered it, and Captain Servadac came to ask himself if all that remained of his country was not reduced to that narrow shred of the Algerian Territory, to that Gourbi Island, to which he must return!

"And, meanwhile," repeated he to Count Timascheff, "the Continent of Gallia does not end at this inaccessible coast. Its northern pole is beyond! What is there behind this wall? We must discover! If, notwithstanding, in spite of the phenomena of which we are witnesses, it is still the terrestrial globe that we tread under our feet, if it is the same that is carrying us away, following a new direction in the planetary system, if finally France, if Russia are there with the whole of Europe, we must verify it! Shall we not find then a strand in order to debark on this coast? Is there no means of scaling this inaccessible cliff, and observing, if only once, the country which it hides from us? Let us land, for God's sake, let us land!"

But the "Dobryna," always hugging the high wall, perceived neither the smallest creek where she could take refuge, nor even a single rock on which it would be possible for her crew to set foot. The coast was always formed with a steep base, smooth, perpendicular, to a height of two or three hundred feet, which was all crowned by a strange entanglement of crystallized lamels. It was evident that this new border given to the Mediterranean, presented everywhere the same disposition of rocks and that this uniform outline was cast in a single mold.

The "Dobryna," under full steam, sailed rapidly toward the east. The weather continued tine. The atmosphere already singularly cooled, was less fitted to become saturated with vapors. Only a few clouds, streaking the azure of the sky, formed here and there almost diaphanous cirrous or tendrils. During the day, the smaller, disc of the sun cast pale rays, which gave to objects only an uncertain relief. During the night, the stars shone with extraordinary brilliancy, but certain planets grew faint in the distance.

It was so with Venus, with Mars, and with that unknown star, which, ranked in the order of inferior planets, preceded the sun, sometimes at its setting, sometimes at its rising. As to enormous Jupiter, to superb Saturn, their splendor, on the contrary, was increasing, for this reason, that Gallia was approaching them, and Lieutenant Procope showed, visible to the eye, that Uranus which, formerly, did not let itself be seen without the aid of a telescope. Gallia gravitated then, in receding from her center of attraction, through the planetary system.

The twenty-fourth of February. After following the sinuous line that formed, before the cataclysm, the boundary of the Department of Var, after vainly seeking traces of the Isles of Hyeres, of the Peninsula of Saint Tropez, of the Lerins Isles, of the Gulf of Cannes, of the Gulf of Jouan, the "Dobryna" arrived at the latitude of Cape Antibes.

At this place, to the extreme surprise, but also to the extreme satisfaction of the explorers, a narrow passage cleft the enormous cliff from top to bottom. At its base, on the level of the sea extended a little strand, on which a boat could easily land.

"At last we shall be able to land!" cried Captain Servadac, who could no longer control himself.

Besides, no persuasion was needed to induce Count Timascheff to venture on the new continent. Lieutenant Procope and he were as impatient to land as Captain Servadac. Perhaps in climbing up the slopes of this passage, which, from a distance, resembled a bed made by a torrent, they would succeed in reaching the crest of the cliff, where a large field of vision would, in default of the French Territory, enable them to observe this strange region.

At seven o'clock in the morning, the count, the captain, and the lieutenant went on shore.

For the first time they found some specimens of the old coast. They were those of glutenated limestone, of a yellowish color, with which the banks of Provence are most generally covered. But this narrow stand—evidently a piece of the old globe—measured hardly a few metres on the surface and, without stopping there, the explorers advanced toward the ravine which they wished to pass through. This ravine was dry, and it was even easy to see that no torrent had ever dashed there its tumultuous waters. The rocks of its bed, as well as those which formed its slopes on each side, presented that same animated appearance observed as far as this point, and they did not seem to have been as yet submitted to the effects of secular disintegration.

A geologist would probably determine their true place in the lithological table, but neither Count Timascheff, nor the staff-officer, nor Lieutenant Procope could place them.

Meanwhile, if the ravine offered no trace of moisture, ancient or recent, they could already predict, that climatic conditions being radically changed, it would one day serve as a rent for considerable masses of water.

In fact, already a few layers of snow glittered in several places on the tops of the slopes, and they became larger and thicker in carpeting the summits of the cliff. Very probably, the crests and perhaps all the country beyond the wall, would disappear under the white crust of the glaciers.

"Behold them," observed Count Timascheff, "the first traces of fresh water that we find on the surface of Gallia."

"Yes," replied Lieutenant Procope, "and, without doubt, at a greater elevation, not only snow but ice will be formed under the influence of the cold which is constantly increasing. Do not let us forget that if Gallia has the spheroidal form, we are here very near its Arctic regions, which receive very obliquely its solar rays. Certainly night ought never to be perfect there as at the terrestrial poles, because the sun does not leave the equator owing to the slight inclination of its axis, but the cold there will probably be excessive, above all, if Gallia recedes a great deal from the center of heat."

"Lieutenant," asked Captain Servadac, "may we not fear that the cold will become so intense on the surface of Gallia that no living being can endure it?"

"No, captain," replied Lieutenant Procope. "No matter what distance we reside from the sun, the cold will never pass beyond the limits assigned to the temperature of sidereal space, that is to say, those regions where air absolutely fails."

"And those limits are?"

"About sixty degrees centigrade, according to the theory of a Frenchman, the learned physician Fourier."

"Sixty degrees!" replied Count Timascheff, "sixty degrees below zero! But that is a temperature which would appear insupportable even to Russians."

"Such cold," replied Lieutenant Procope, "has been already endured by English navigators in the polar seas, and, if I am not mistaken, at Melville Island, Parry has seen the thermometer fall to sixty degrees centigrade below zero."

The explorers stopped for a moment to take breath, for as it happens to those who ascend, the air gradually becoming less dense made their ascension more painful. Besides, without having yet attained a great height, scarcely six or seven hundred feet, they felt a very perceptible decrease in the temperature. Then very fortunately the striæ of the mineral substance, of which the bed of the ravine was formed, facilitated this marsh, and, about an hour and a half after leaving the narrow strand, they reached the crest of the cliff.

This cliff overlooked not only the sea to the south, but to the north, all the new region, which sank suddenly. Captain Servadac could not restrain himself from crying out.

France was no longer there! Innumerable rocks succeeded each other to the last limits of the horizon. All these morains, carpeted with snow or clothed with ice, were blended in a strange uniformity. It was an enormous agglomeration of materials, which had crystalized under the form of regular hexagonal prisms. Gallia appeared to be only the result of a mineral formation unique and unknown. If the crest of the cliff, which served as an outline to the Mediterranean, did not offer this uniformity in its upper spires, it was because some phenomenon—perhaps that to which they owed the presence of the waters of the sea—had, at the moment of the cataclysm, modified the texture of this outline.

Whatever it was, in this southern part of Gallia there was no longer any vestige of a European country. Everywhere, the new substance had replaced the old soil. No longer anything of those undulating fields of Provence, nor of those gardens of orange trees, and lemon-trees of which the reddish soil lay on the stratum of dry rocks, nor of the woods of olive trees, with glaucous foliage, nor of great beds of pepper plants, of nettle trees, of mimosas, of palm trees and of eucalyptus, nor bushes of giant geraniums, diversified by popes-feel and surmounted by long shoots of aloes, nor of the oxidized rocks of the coast, nor of the mountains in the background with the sombre curtain of conifera.

There, nothing of the vegetable kingdom, even the hardiest of the polar plants, the lichen of the snows itself, could not vegetate on this stony soil! Nothing of the animal kingdom, because no bird, neither the puffins, nor the petrels, nor the guillemots of the Arctic regions could find enough to live on for a single day!

It was the vegetable kingdom in all its horrible aridity. Captain Servadac was a prey to an emotion from which his reckless character, it seemed to him, should have preserved him. Fixed on the summit of an icy rock, he contemplated with tears in his eyes, the new territory which lay before him. He refused to believe that France had ever been there!

"No!" cried he, "no! Our bearings have deceived us! We have not arrived at that parallel which crosses the maritime Alps! It is farther back where the territory extends for which we are seeking! A wall has arisen from the waves, maybe; but beyond we shall see again the European countries! Count Timascheff, come, come! Let us clear this territory of ice, and let us seek still—let us seek always!"

In speaking thus, Hector Servadac had taken about twenty steps forward trying to find some practicable path in the midst of the hexagonal laurels of the cliff. Suddenly he stopped.

His foot had just struck a piece of hewn stone under the snow. By its form, by its color, this piece did not seem to belong to the new soil.

Captain Servadac took it up. It was a fragment of yellow marble, on which they could still read a few letters engraved, among others, these:


"Villa!" cried Captain Servadac, letting fail the piece of marble, which broke into a thousand fragments.

Of this villa—doubtless some sumptuous habitation, built almost at the extremity of Cape Antibes, on the most beautiful site in the world—of this magnificent cape, thrown, like a green branch, between Gulf Jonan and the Gulf of Nice—of this splendid panorama, crowned by the maritime Alps, which spread out the picturesque mountains Esterelle, in passing before Eza, Monaco, Roquebrune, Menton and Vintimelle, as far as the Italian Cape of Bordighere—what remained now? Not even this piece of marble, which had just been reduced to dust! Captain Servadac could no longer doubt that Cape Antibes had disappeared in the interior of this new continent. He remained absorbed in his reflections.

Count Timascheff then approaching him, said to him gravely:

"Captain, do you know the motto of the Hope family?"

"No, count," replied Hector Servadac.

"Well, here it is:"

"'Orbe fracto, spes illoesa.'"
"'The World destroyed, Hope sustains.'"

"It says the contrary to the despairing words of Dante!"

"Yes, captain, and now it ought to be ours!"



Nothing now remained for the navigators of the "Dobryna," but to return to Gourbi Island. This narrow domain was, probably, the only portion of the old soil that could receive and nourish those whom the new star was carrying through the solar system.

"And, after all," said Captain Servadac to himself, "it is almost a piece of France."

This project of a return to Gourbi Island was then discussed, and it was going to be adopted, when Lieutenant Procope observed that the new perimeter of the Mediterranean was not yet entirely examined.

"We have to explore in the north," said he, "from this point where formerly projected Cape Antibes as far as the entrance of the strait which opens on the waters of Gibraltar, and, in the south from the Gulf of Gabes as far as this same strait. We have followed carefully on the south the limit marked by the old African coast, but not that which forms the new. Who knows if every outlet is closed in the south, and if some fertile oasis of the African desert has not escaped the catastrophe? Besides, Italy, Sicily, the Archipelago of Balearic Isles, the large islands of the Mediterranean, have perhaps resisted and it would be well to take the 'Dobryna' thither."

"Your observations are just, Procope," replied Count Timascheff; "and it seems to me indispensable, in fact, to complete the survey of this new basin."

"I agree with you," added Captain Servadac. "The only question is to know if we must actually complete our exploration before returning to Gourbi Island."

"I think," replied Lieutenant Procope, "that we ought to utilize the "Dobryna" while she can still serve."

"What do you mean, Procope?" asked Count Timascheff.

"I mean that the temperature is ever decreasing, that Gallia follows a curve which carries it farther and farther from the sun, and we will soon be subjected to excessive cold. The sea will then freeze, and navigation will be no longer possible. Now, you know the difficulties of a journey across fields of ice. Then, is it not worth while to continue this exploration while the waters are still free?"

"You are right, Procope," replied Timascheff. "Let us seek what remains of the old continent, and, if some portion of Europe has been spared, if some unhappy ones have survived to whom we may come with aid, it is important to know it before entering our winter quarters."

It was a generous sentiment which inspired Count Timascheff, because, in these circumstance she thought of his fellow-beings. And who knows? To dream of others was it not to dream of himself? No difference of race, no distinction of nationality, could any longer exist among those whom Gallia was drawing through infinite space. They were the representatives of the same people, or rather of the same family, for it might be feared that they were rare, the survivors of the old earth! But, finally, if any still existed, all ought to rally, and unite their efforts for the common safety, and, if all hope was lost of ever returning to the terrestrial globe, to endeavor to remake on this new star a new humanity.

The twenty-fifth of February, the schooner left this little creek, where she had momentarily found a refuge. In keeping the northern coast. She sailed toward the east under full steam. The cold commenced to be extreme, above all with a sharp breeze, the thermometer averaged two degrees below zero. Fortunately the sea only freezes at a lower temperature than fresh water, and it presented no obstacle to the navigation of the "Dobryna." But it was necessary to hasten.

The nights were beautiful.

The clouds already seemed to form with more difficulty in the progressively cooler strata of the atmosphere. The constellations sparkled in the firmament with an incomparable brightness. If Lieutenant Procope, as a sailor, ought to regret that the moon had forever disappeared from the horizon, an astronomer occupied in investigating the mysteries of the sidereal universe, would be made happy, on the contrary, by this propitious obscurity of the Gallian nights.

But, if the explorers of the "Dobryna" were deprived of the moon, they had at least an exchange. At this period a veritable shower of falling stars plowed the atmosphere—stars much more numerous than those which the terrestrial observers can prepare the classification in August and in November. And, if, according to Mr. Olmsted, an average of thirty-four thousand asteroids of this species appeared on the horizon of Boston, in 1833, he could here safely increase that number tenfold.

Gallia, in fact, was traversing that ring which is nearly concentric with the orbit of the earth and exterior to it.

These meteoric corpuscules seemed to take as a point of departure, Algol one of the stars of the constellation Perseus, and they shone with an intensity which their extraordinary velocity rendered marvelous, on coming in contact with the atmosphere of Gallia. A bouquet of fireworks, formed of millions of skyrockets, the chef-d'oeuvre of a Ruggieri, would not be even comparable to the magnificence of this meteor. The rocks of the coast, reflecting these corpuscules on their metallic surface, seemed dotted with light, and the sea dazzled the eyes, as if it had been struck with blazing hailstones.

But this spectacle only lasted about twenty-four hours, so great was the velocity of Gallia in receding from the sun.

The 26th, February, the "Dobryna" was stopped in her course toward the west by a long projection of the coast which obliged her to descend as far as the extremity of ancient Corsica, of which no trace was left. There the Strait of Bonifacio gave place to a vast sea entirely deserted. But, on the twenty-seventh, an islet was signaled in the east, some miles to the leeward of the schooner, and its situation warranted the belief, at least if its origin was not recent, that it belonged to the northerly point of Sardinia.

The "Dobryna" approached this isle. The boat was lowered. A few moments after Count Timascheff and Captain Servadac landed on a verdant plateau, which did not measure a hectare in superficies. A few thickets of myrtles and lentisks, overhung by three or four old olive-trees intersected it here and there. It seemed to be abandoned by every living creature. The explorers were then going to leave it when bleatings struck their ears, and, almost immediately, they saw a goat which was leaping over the rocks.

It was a single specimen of those domestic goats, so well named "cows of the poor;" a young female with blackish hair, with horns small and regularly arched—which, far from running away at the approach of visitors, ran toward them—and by its bounds—by its cries, seemed to invite them to accompany her.

"This goat is not alone on this island!" cried Hector Servadac. "Let us follow it!"

Which was done, and a few hundred steps further on, Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff arrived near a sort of hole, half covered by a clump of lentisks.

There, a child of seven or eight years, her face lit up by large black eyes, her head shadowed by long brown hair, beautiful as one of those charming beings of whom Murillo has made angels in his assumptions, and not much frightened, looked through the bushes.

When she had for a few moments looked at the two explorers, whose aspect was doubtless reassuring, the little girl rose, ran to them and, holding out her hands to them, with a gesture full of sudden confidence:

"You are not bad?" she said to them, with a voice sweet as that Italian language which she spoke. "You will not do me any harm? I need not be afraid?"

"No," replied the count, in Italian; "we are, and we wish to be, only friends to you."

Then, after watching the pretty little girl for a moment: "What is your name, my dear?" he asked her.


"Nina can you tell us where we are?"

"At Madalena," replied the little girl. "It was there that I was when all was changed, and all at once."

Madalena was an island situated near Caprera, to the north of Sardinia, now lost in the immense disaster.

A few questions, followed by a few replies, made very intelligently, informed Count Timascheff that little Nina was alone on the islet, that she was without parents, that she took care of a flock of goats for her living, that at the moment of the catastrophe, all was suddenly swallowed up around her except this end of land; that she and Marzy her favorite, had alone been saved; that she had been in great fear, but that soon reassured, after thanking the good God because the land no longer moved, she had managed to live with Marzy. Happily, she possessed some food, which had lasted till then, and she had always hoped that a boat would come to take her off. Now that the boat was there, she asked nothing better than to go, on condition that she might bring her goat with her, and that they would bring her back to the farm when they could.

"There is another pretty inhabitant on Gallia," said Captain Servadac, after embracing the little girl.

Half an hour later Nina and Marzy were installed on board the schooner where each one, it may be judged, welcomed them kindly. It was a happy augury, this meeting with this little child! The Russian sailors, religious men, considered her as a kind of good angel, and more than one looked if, indeed, she had not wings. They called her among themselves, from the first day, "the little Madonna". The "Dobryna," in a few hours, had lost sight of Madalena, and found again, on re-descending towards the south-east, the new coast which had been carried fifty leagues in front of the old Italian shore. Another continent was then substituted for the peninsula, of which no vestige remained. However, on the parallel of Rome extended a vast gulf, which penetrated far beyond the place which the Eternal City should have occupied. Then the new coast only returned to border the old sea at the latitude of the Calabes thence to extend to the extremity of the boot. But no straits of Messina, no Sicily, not even the summit of that enormous Etna, which rose to a height of three thousand three hundred and fifty metres above the level of the sea.

And sixty leagues further to the south, the "Dobryna" saw again the entrance of the strait which was so providentially offered to her during the tempest and of which the eastern end opened on the sea of Gibraltar.

From this point, as far as the Strait of Gabes, the new perimeter of the Mediterranean had been already examined by the explorers. Lieutenant Procope, truly careful of his time, then sailed in a straight line to the parallel, where he found the non-explored coasts of the continent.

It was the third of March.

From this point the coast, limiting the boundaries of Tunis, crossed the old Province of Constantine at the latitude of the oasis of the Ziban. Then, by a sharp angle, it re-descended as far as the thirty—second parallel and turned again, forming an irregular gulf, strangely outlined in the enormous mineral concretion. Then, with an extent of about one hundred and fifty leagues, it ran across the old Algerian Sahara, so as to converge, to the south of Gourbi Island, in a point which would have served as the natural frontier of Morocco, if Morocco had still existed.

It was then necessary to sail again to the north as far as the extremity of this point, so as to double it. But on doubling it the explorers were witnesses of a volcanic phenomenon whose appearance on the surface of Gallia they noticed for the first time.

A volcano terminated this point, and rose to a height of three thousand feet. It was not extinct, for its crater was still crowned with smoke, if not with flames.

"Gallia has then an interior fire!" cried Captain Servadac, when the volcano had been signaled by the look-out of the "Dobryna."

"Why not, captain," replied Count Timascheff. "Because Gallia is only a fragment of the terrestrial globe, may not our asteroid have carried away with it a part of the central fire, as it has carried away part of the atmosphere, of the seas and of the continents?"

"A very small part!" replied Captain Servadac, "but sufficient, after all, for its actual population!"

"By the way, captain," asked Count Timascheff, "as our voyage of circumnavigation should lead us to the neighborhood of Gibraltar, do you believe that it will be well to make known to the Englishmen the new state of things and the consequences which it entails?"

"What's the use?" replied Captain Servadac. "Those Englishmen know where Gourbi Island is situated, and, if they please, they can come there. They are not unfortunate ones abandoned without resources. On the contrary, they have all they want, and for a long time A hundred and twenty leagues at the most, separates their islet from our island and once the cold freezes the sea, they can join us whenever they wish. We have not been exactly flattered by their reception, and if they come here, we will revenge ourselves—"

"Without doubt, in receiving them better than they received us?" asked Count Timascheff.

"Yes, count," replied Captain Servadac, "for, in truth, there are no longer here either French, or English, or Russians—"

"Oh," said Count Timascheff, shaking his head, "an Englishman is an Englishman everywhere and always."

"Ah," replied Hector Servadac, "it is at once their strong point and their failing."

Thus was settled the course to be followed in regard to the little garrison of Gibraltar; besides, even if they had resolved to renew their relations with these Englishmen, that would not have been possible at this moment, for the "Dobryna" could not without risk return in view of their islet.

In fact, the temperature decreased continually. Lieutenant Procope stated not without uneasiness that the sea would soon freeze around the schooner. Besides, the coal-bins drawn on by a voyage under full steam were gradually becoming empty, and the coal would soon fail if not carefully used. These two reasons, both very serious, were explained by the lieutenant, and, after a discussion, it was agreed that the voyage of circumnavigation would be discontinued at the latitude of the volcanic cape. The coast beyond, re descended toward the earth, and was lost in a limitless sea. Almost out of coal, to lead the "Dobryna" across an ocean ready to freeze, would be an imprudence whose consequences might be extremely fatal. Besides it was probable that over all that portion of Gallia, formerly occupied by the African Desert, they would find another soil than that which had been already examined—a soil on which water and earth were absolutely lacking, and which no labor could ever fertilize. Then no loss in suspending the exploration, but ready to take it up again in more favorable weather.

Thus on this day, the fifth of March, it was decided that the "Dobryna" should not put her head toward the north, and that she should return to Gourbi Island, from which twenty leagues at the most, separated her.

"My poor Ben-Zouf!" said Captain Servadac, who had often thought of his companion during the voyage of five weeks. "I hope that nothing unfortunate has happened to him." This short voyage from the volcanic point to Gourbi Island must be signalized by an incident. It was the finding of a second notice from the mysterious savant, who having evidently been able to calculate the elements of the Gallia, followed it day by day on its new orbit.

A floating object was signalized at sunrise.

They took it up. This time it was a little preserve barrel, which replaced the traditional bottle, and this time again a thick stopper of sealing-wax, bearing the same initials as the case already picked up, kept the bung-hole hermetically closed.

"From the same to the same!" said Captain Servadac.

The barrel was opened with precaution, and they found in it the document, which read as follows:

"Gallia (?)

"Ab sole (from the sun) on March first, distance 78,000,000 l. Distance traveled from February to March, 59,000,000 l! Va bene! All right! Nil disperandum! Enchanted!"

"And no address no signature," said Captain Servadac. "One would be tempted to believe in a series of hoaxes."

"Then it would be a hoax drawn from a great number of examples!" replied Count Timascheff, "for, since we have twice received this singular document, it shows that its author has cast his barrels and cases on the sea!"

"But who is this hare-brained savant, who does not even dream of giving his address?"

"His address? It is the bottom of the astrologer well!" replied Count Timascheff, alluding to La Fontaine's fables.

"It is very possibly; but where is the well?"

This question of Captain Servadac must still remain without an answer. Did the author of this document reside on some island of which the "Dobryna "had no knowledge? Was he on board of a ship sailing round this new Mediterranean as the "Dobryna" had done? They could not tell.

"In any case," observed Lieutenant Procope, "if the document is serious—and the numbers which it bears tend to prove it—it gives rise to two important observations. The first, it is that the velocity of Gallia in its orbit has diminished twenty-three millions of leagues, because the path passed over by it from January to February, which was eighty-two millions of leagues, is no more from February to March than fifty-nine millions. The second is, that the distance of Gallia from the sun, which was only fifty-nine millions of leagues on the fifteenth February, is on the fist March seventy-eight millions, say an increase of nineteen millions of leagues. Then, in proportion as Gallia recedes from the sun, her velocity diminishes, which is in perfect conformity with the laws of astronomy."

"And from that you conclude, Procope?" asked Count Timascheff.

"That we follow, as I have already remarked, an elliptical orbit, but of which it is impossible for us to calculate the eccentricity."

"I observe, in addition," remarked Count Timascheff, "that the author of this document still uses this name of Gallia. I propose, then, to adopt it definitely for the new star which carries us, and to call this sea, 'The Gallian Sea!'"

"Yes," replied Lieutenant Procope, "and I shall inscribe it under this new name, when I prepare our new chart."

"As to me," added Captain Servadac, "I shall make a third remark: it is that this brave man of learning, is more and more enchanted with the situation, and whatever happens, I shall repeat with him every-where and at all times 'Nil desperandum!' 'Never despair.'"

A few hours later, the lookout of the "Dobryna" had, at last, distinguished Gourbi Island.



The schooner had left Gourbi Island on the thirty-first of January, and it returned there the fifth of March, after a passage of thirty-five days—the terrestrial year having been bissextile. To these thirty-five days corresponded seventy Gallien days, because the sun had passed seventy times to the meridian of the island.

Hector Servadac felt some emotion as he approached the only fragment of the Algerian soil which had escaped the disaster. Several times, during this long absence, he had asked himself if he would find it in the same place, and with it his faithful Ben-Zouf.

This doubt he could be justified in feeling in the midst of all the cosmical phenomena which had so profoundly modified the surface of Gallia.

But the fears of the staff-officer were not realized. The Isle of Gourbi was there, and even—rather strange detail—before reaching the port of Chéliff, Hector Servadac could perceive that a cloud of a very peculiar aspect was developed at the height of a hundred feet above the soil of his domain. When the schooner was no more than a few cable lengths from the coast this cloud appeared like a thick mass, which rose and fell automatically in the atmosphere. Captain Servadac then knew that it was not an agglomeration of vapors reduced to the vesicular conditions, but an agglomeration of birds, crowded in the air like schools of herrings in the water. From this enormous swarm escaped deafening cries, to which, besides, replied frequent detonations.

The "Dobryna" signaled its arrival by a cannon shot, and came to anchor in the port of Chéliff.

At that moment a man, gun in hand, ran, and at a bound he sprang on the nearest rock.

It was Ben-Zouf.

Ben-Zouf remained at first immovable, his eyes fixed at fifteen paces, "as much as the conformation of man allows" (as the sergeant instructors say), and with every exterior mark of respect. But the brave soldier could not stand it, and rushing to meet his captain, who had just landed, he kissed his hands with tenderness.

Yet, instead of these natural expressions: "What happiness to see you again! How long you have been away! How anxious I have been!" Ben-Zouf cried out:

"Ah! the beggars! the bandits! Oh! you did well to come, my captain! The robbers! the pirates! the miserable Bedouins."

"And whom had you, Ben-Zouf!" asked Hector Servadac, to whom these odd exclamations conveyed the idea that a band of Arab pilferers had invaded his domain.

"Eh! it is those Satanic birds that I mean!" cried Ben-Zouf. "For a month I have used my powder against them! But the more I kill, the more of them return! Oh, if they are let alone, those beaked and feathered Kabyles, we shall soon be without a grain of wheat on the island!"

Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope, who had joined Captain Servadac, could see with him that Ben-Zouf did not exaggerate. The crops, rapidly matured by the great heat in January, at the time that Gallia passed her perihelion, were now exposed to the depredation of several thousand birds. What remained of the harvest was threatened by these voracious flying animals. It is, in fact necessary to say "what remained of the harvest," for Ben-Zouf had not rested from work during the voyage of the "Dobryna," and they saw numerous stacks of grain which rose on the plain partly plundered.

As for these lands of birds, they were all that Gallia had carried with her, when separated from the terrestrial globe. It was natural that they should seek refuge in Gourbi Island, because there alone they found fields, prairies, and fresh water—a proof that no other part of the asteroid could assure their nourishment. But still, it was at the expense of the inhabitants of the isle that they pretended to live—a pretension which it was necessary to oppose by all possible means.

"We shall talk it over," said Hector Servadac.

"Ah, well! my captain," asked Ben-Zouf, "and our comrades in Africa, what has become of them?"

"Our comrades in Africa are still in Africa," replied Hector Servadac.

"Our brave comrades!"

"Only, Africa is no longer there!" added Captain Servadac.

"No Africa! But France?"

"France! She is very far from us, Ben-Zouf!"

"And Montmartre?"

It was a cry from his heart! In a few words, Captain Servadac explained to his orderly what had happened, and how that Montmartre, and with Montmartre Paris, and with Paris France, and with France Europe, and with Europe the terrestrial globe, were more than eighty millions of leagues from Gourbi Isle. Consequently the hope of ever returning there must be really abandoned.

"What!" cried the orderly; "never again! Laurent," called Ben-Zouf, of Montmartre—"never see Montmartre again! Nonsense my captain; with all respect to you, utter nonsense!"

And Ben-Zouf shook his head like a man whom it would be absolutely impossible to convince.

"Well, my brave fellow," replied Captain Servadac, "hope as much as you please. We must never despair; that is the advice of our anonymous correspondent. But let us commence to install ourselves on the Isle of Gourbi as if we always intended living here."

While speaking, Hector Servadac, preceding Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope, had reached the "Gourbi," now rebuilt by the efforts of Ben-Zouf. The post was also in good condition, and Zephyr and Galette were provided with good stalls; there, in that modest cabin, Hector Servadac tendered hospitality to his guests, also to little Nina, whom her goat had followed. During the walk, the orderly had been able to dispose, in favor of Nina and Marzy, of two big kisses, which these kind beings heartily returned.

Then, a council was held in the "Gourbi," as to what it was best to do first.

The most important question was accommodation for the future. How install themselves on the island, in a manner to brave the terrible cold that Gallia would suffer in those spaces between the planets, and for a period, the duration of which they could not calculate? That period, in fact, would depend on the eccentricity of the orbit passed over by the asteroid, and many years might elapse before its return toward the sun. Now, fuel was not abundant. No coal, few trees, and the prospect that nothing could grow during the entire period of these awful colds. What to do? How to parry these fearful contingencies. It was therefore necessary to imagine some expedient, and that in the shortest time.

The feeding of the colony offered no immediate difficulties. For drink, there was certainly nothing to fear. Several streams coursed through the meadows, and water filled the cisterns. Besides, before long, the cold would have determined the congealing of the Gallian Sea, and the ice would furnish in abundance a drinkable liquid, for soon, it would no longer contain a molecule of salt.

As for the nourishment properly so called, that is to say the azotic substance necessary to the subsistance of man, it was assured for a long time. For one part, the cereals, ready to be housed, for another, the flocks scattered over the island, would form a very abundant reserve. Evidently, during the period of the colds the soil would remain unproductive, and the crops of fodder, destined for the food of the domestic animals, could not be renewed. There were then some measures to be taken, and if they could calculate the duration of the translatory motion of Gallia around its centre of attraction, it would be proper to limit, in proportion to the winter period, the number of animals to preserve alive.

As for the actual population of Gallia, it comprised, without counting the thirteen English at Gibraltar, for whom they need feel no anxiety, eight Russians, two Frenchmen, and a little Italian girl. There were then eleven inhabitants whom the Isle of Gourbi should nourish.

But, after this figure had been decided by Hector Servadac, behold! Ben-Zouf cried out:

"Ah, no, my captain. Sorry to contradict you! That is not the number!"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that we are twenty-three inhabitants."

"On the island?"

"On the island."

"Explain yourself, Ben-Zouf?"

"I have not yet had the chance to tell you, my captain. During your absence, we have had company to dinner."

"Company to dinner?"

"Yes, yes. But, in fact, come," added Ben-Zouf; "you also, Russians. You see that the harvesting is well advanced, and my two arms would never have sufficed for so much work!"

"That is so," said Lieutenant Procope.

"Come then. It is not far. Only two kilometers, let us take our guns!"

"To defend ourselves?" asked Captain Servadac.

"Not against the men," replied Ben-Zouf, "but against those cursed birds!"

And, much puzzled, Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope, followed the orderly, leaving little Nina and the goat at the Gourbi.

While on the road Captain Servadac and his companions directed a sustained volley against the cloud of birds which rose above their heads. There were in it several thousand savage ducks, snipe, larks, crows, swallows, etc., with which were mingled sea birds, king-ducks, gulls and wagel gulls, and wild fowl, quails, partridges, woodcock, etc. Each shot told, anti the birds fell in dozens. It was not a hunt, but an extermination of the pillaging bands.

Instead of following the north bank of the island, Ben-Zouf cut obliquely across the plain. After a walk of ten minutes, thanks to their specific lightness, Captain Servadac and his companions had cleared the two kilometers mentioned by Ben-Zouf. They had then reached a vast thicket of sycamores and eucalyptus trees, picturesquely massed at the foot of a hillock. There all stopped.

"Ah! the beggars! the bandits! the bedouins!" cried Ben-Zouf, stamping on the ground.

"Are you still speaking of the birds?" asked Captain Servadac.

"Eh! no, my captain! I speak of these satanic idlers who have already left their work! Look!"

And Ben-Zouf showed several implements, such as sickles, rakes, and sythes, scattered on the ground.

"Ah well, Master Ben-Zouf, will you tell me now what this is all about?" asked Captain Servadac, growing impatient.

"Hush! my captain, listen, listen!" replied Ben-Zouf, "I was not wrong."

And lending an ear, Hector Servadac and his two companions could hear a voice which sang, a guitar that tinkled, and castanets that clicked in a perfect measure.

"Spaniards!" cried Captain Servadac.

"And who would you like it to be? those men there would castanet at the cannon's mouth," replied Ben-Zouf.

"But, how does this happen?"

"Listen still. It is now the old one's turn."

Another voice, which did not sing, uttered the most violent objurgations.

Captain Servadac, by right of being a Gascon, sufficiently comprehended the Spanish, and while the song went on, the other voice, adorned with a harsh accent, kept repeating:

"Thy favor and a cigar,
And a glass of Xérès,
My horse and a trombone,
What happier in the world!"

"My money, my money I pay me what you owe me, miserable major!"

And the song continuing:

"For the Alcarrazas, Chiclana; For wheat, Frebujena, And for pretty girls, San Luca de Barrameda."

"Yes, you will pay me my due, rascals!" went on the voice in the midst of the clicking of the castanets. "You will pay me in the name of the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob!"

"Eh! by the Devil, it is a Jew!" cried Captain Servadac.

"And, what is worse a German Jew!" replied Ben-Zouf.

But at the moment when the two Frenchmen and the two Russians were about to penetrate the thicket, a curious spectacle arrested them on the verge. The Spaniards had just commenced a really national fandango. Now, as they were diminished in weight, as were all objects placed on the surface of Gallia, they mounted in the air to a height of thirty or forty feet. In truth, nothing could be more comical than these dancers, appearing thus above the trees. There were there four muscular men, who lifted between them an old man, carried in spite of himself to these abnormal heights. They saw him appear and disappear, like Sancho Panca, when he was so merrily tossed in a blanket by the jolly woolen-drapers of Segovia.

Hector Servadac, Count Timascheff, Procope and Ben-Zouf then pushed their way through the thicket and reached a little clearing. There, a guitar-player and a castanet-player, lazily stretched out, were convulsed with laughter while exciting the dancers.

At the sight of the captain and his companions, the instrumentalists suddenly stopped, and the dancers leading their victim, fell gently to the ground. But, at once, the Jew, out of breath, beside himself, rushed toward the staff officer, and this time expressing himself in French, although with a strong Teutonic accent:

"Ah, the Governor-General!" cried he. "The rascals want to steal my goods! But, in the name of the Eternal, you will do me justice."

Meanwhile, Captain Servadac looked at Ben-Zouf as if to ask him the meaning of this honorary title they bestowed on him, and Ben-Zouf, by a movement of the head, seemed to say:

"Eh! yes, my captain, it is really you who are the Governor-General. I have arranged that!"

Captain Servadac then signed to the Jew to be silent, and the latter, humbly bending his head, crossed his arms on his breast.

They could then examine him at ease.

He was a man of fifty years, who looked seventy. Small, weakly, with eyes bright and false, a busked nose, a yellowish beard and unkempt hair, large feet, hands long and hooked, he offered the well-known type of the German Jew, recognizable among all. This was the usurer with supple back-bone, flat-hearted, a clipper of coins and a skin-flint. Silver should attract such a being as the magnet attracts iron, and if this Shylock was allowed to pay himself from his debtor, he would certainly sell the flesh at retail. Besides, although a Jew originally, he made himself a Mahometan in Mahometan provinces, when his profit demanded it, and he would have been a pagan to gain more.

Isaac Hakhabut, in fact, had no other domicile than his tartan the "Hansa." Possessing neither wife nor children, he lived on board. A master and a crew of three men were sufficient to work the light boat, which did the small coasting trade on the coasts of Algeria, Tunis, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and all the ports of the Levant. There, Isaac Hakhabut, always well supplied with coffee, sugar, rice, tobacco, stuffs, powder, etc., sold, exchanged, did a little brokerage, and, in a word, made plenty of money.

Isaac Hakhabut was from Cologne, that is to say, Prussian first, then German. Only, as he informed Captain Servadac, he traveled for his business during the greater part of the year. His true calling, that of merchant coaster of the Mediterranean. His store—a tartan of two hundred tons, truly a floating grocery, transported to the coast a thousand different articles, from chemical matches to colored engravings from Frankfort and Epinal.

The "Hansa" was exactly at Ceuta, at the extremity of Morocco, when the catastrophe occurred. The master and his three men, who were not on board during night of December 31st to January 1st, had disappeared at the same time as did nearly all their fellow creatures. But it will be remembered that the extreme rocks of Ceuta, facing Gibraltar, had been spared—if the word can be employed in this matter—and with them ten Spaniards who did not suspect in any manner what had taken place.

These Spaniards, Andalusian peasants, careless by nature, idlers from taste, as ready to play at sailor as on the guitar, cultivators by profession, had for chief a certain Negrete, who was the best instructed of the band, only because he had seen a little more of the world. When they saw themselves alone and abandoned on the rocks of Ceuta, their embarrassment was great. The "Hansa" was fortunately there, with its owner, and they were not the men to stand on any ceremony about taking possession of it in order to reach their homes, but there was not a sailor among them. Meanwhile, they could not dwell eternally on the rock, and, when their provisions were exhausted, they obliged Hakhabut to receive them on board.

About this time Negrete received the visit of the two English officers from Gibraltar—a visit of which mention has been made. Of what passed between the English and the Spaniards the Jew was ignorant. Whatever it was, it was after this visit that Negrete obliged Hakhabut to set sail, so as to transport him and his to the point nearest the Morocco coast. The Jew, forced to obey, but accustomed to make money out of everything, stipulated that the Spaniards should pay him for their passage, to which they consented, all the more willingly as they were determined not to disburse a real..

The "Hansa" started February 3d. With these winds prevailing from the west, the working of the tartan was easy. It consisted only in letting her scud. The improvised sailors had only to hoist the sails to make without knowing it the only point of the terrestrial globe which could offer a refuge.

So, one fine morning, Ben-Zouf saw, dawning on the horizon, a vessel which did not resemble the "Dobryna," and which the wind quietly carried into the port of Chéliff on the old right bank of the river.

It was Ben-Zouf who finished telling the Jew's history, and he added that the cargo of the "Hansa" very complete then, would be very useful to the inhabitants of the isle. No doubt they would find it difficult to arrange with Isaac Hakhabut, but the circumstances being given, there would evidently be no indelicacy in demanding his merchandise for the general good, because he could no longer dispose of it.

"As for the difficulties then existing between the proprietor of the 'Hansa' and his passengers," added Ben-Zouf, "he had been convinced that they would be amicably settled by his excellency the governor-general, then on a tour of inspection."

Hector Servadac could not help smiling at the explanations given by Ben-Zouf. Then he promised the Jew Hakhabut that justice should be done him, which put an end to the interminable emission of the "God of Israel, of Abraham, and of Jacob."

"But," said Count Timascheff, when the Jew had retired, "how can they pay those men here?"

"Oh! they have money," replied Ben-Zouf.

"The Spaniards?" said Count Timascheff. "It is not likely."

"They have some," replied Ben-Zouf. "I have seen it with my eyes, and it is English money."

"Ah" said Captain Servadac, who recalled the visit of the English officers to Ceuta. "Well, never mind. We will regulate that affair later. Do you know, Count Timascheff, that Gallia possesses now several samples of the populations of old Europe?"

"In fact, captain," replied Count Timascheff, "there are, on this fragment of our old globe, the nations of France, Russia, Italy. Spain, England, and Germany. As for the last, it must be allowed that she is very badly represented by this Jew."

"No, I do not think so," replied Captain Servadac.



The Spaniards arrived on board of the "Hansa," were ten in number, counting a young lad of twelve years, named Pablo, saved with them. They gave a respectful reception to him whom Ben-Zouf had announced to them as the governor general of the province, and after his departure from the glade, they returned to their work.

During this time, Captain Servadac and his companions, followed at a respectful distance by Isaac Hakhabut went toward the part of the coast where the "Hansa" had landed.

The situation was now well known. Of the old earth, there remained only Gourbi Island and four islets. Gibraltar occupied by the English, Ceuta abandoned by the Spaniards, Madelena, where the little Italian girl had been received, and the tomb of Saint Louis on the Tunisian coast. Around these respective points extended the Gallian Sea, comprising about the half of the old Mediterranean, and for which rocky cliffs of unknown substance and origin made an inaccessible boundary.

Only two of these points were inhabited: the rock of Gibraltar occupied by thirteen Englishmen, provisioned for long years to come, and Gourbi Island, counting twenty-two inhabitants, who must be sustained by its productions alone. Perhaps there existed, besides, on some ignored islet, a last survivor of the old earth, the mysterious author of the notices received during the voyage of the "Dobryna." The new asteroid then possessed a population of thirty-six souls.

Admitting that all this little world would be one day united on Gourbi Island, this island, with its three hundred and fifty hectares of good soil, actually cultivated, well managed, well sown, would amply suffice for it. The whole question was reduced to this: to know toward what epoch the new soil would become productive; in other terms, after what lapse of time Gallia, delivered from the cold of sidereal space, would recover, in approaching the sun, her vegetative power.

Two problems presented themselves then to the mind of the Gallians: 1st. Was their star following a path which would one day bring it back toward the center of light, that is to say, an elliptical orbit? 2d. If such was her orbit, what was its extent, that is to say in what time would Gallia, having passed her aphelion point return toward the sun?

Unhappily, in present circumstances, the Gallians, deprived of all means of observation, could not in any way solve these problems.

It was necessary, then, to count only on the resources now gathered, namely, the provisions of the "Dobryna," sugar, wine, brandy, conserves, etc., which would last two months, and which Count Timascheff gave up for the benefit of all; the important cargo of the "Hansa" that the Jew, Hakhabut, would be forced, sooner or later, be it with good or with bad grace, to deliver for general consumption, and, finally, the vegetable and animal productions of the island, which, well-managed, would assure to the population its food for many long years.

Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, Lieutenant Procope, and Ben-Zouf naturally talked of these important things while proceeding toward the sea. And first, Count Timascheff, addressing the staff officer, said:

"Captain, you have been presented to these brave men as governor of the island, and I think that you should maintain this situation. You are French; we are here on what remains of a French colony, and because in all assemblies of men there must be a head, I and mine will recognize you as such."

"Faith, count," replied Captain Servadac, without hesitating, "I accept the situation, and, with it, all the responsibility which it imposes. Let me believe, besides, that we shall understand each other perfectly, and that we shall do our best in the common interest. Zounds! It seems to me that the most difficult part is done, and I imagine that we shall know how to manage affairs, if we are forever separated from our fellow beings!"

So saying, Hector Servadac held out his hand to Count Timascheff. The latter took it and slightly inclined his head. It was the first grasp of the hand that these two men had exchanged since they had again found themselves face to face. Besides, no allusion whatever to their past rivalry had been made, and never would be made.

"Before all," said Captain Servadac, "there is a rather important question to settle. Should we make the situation, such as it is, known to the Spaniards?"

"Ah! but no, governor," replied Ben-Zouf quickly, who went off like a musket, "those men are already cowardly enough by nature! If they came to know the truth, they would despair, and we could do nothing with them."

"Besides," added Lieutenant Procope, "they are very ignorant, I imagine, and I think that they would understand absolutely nothing of all that we could tell them from a cosmographic point of view."

"Bah!" replied Captain Servadac; "if they did understand, that would not trouble them much! The Spaniards are beings as much or as little fatalists, as the Orientals, and those are not people to trouble themselves beyond measure! An air on the guitar, a little fandango and castanets, and they will dream of it no more. What do you think about it Count Timascheff?"

"I think," replied Count Timascheff "that it will be better to tell the truth, as I have told  to my companions of the 'Dobryna.'"

"That is also my advice," replied Captain Servadac, "and I do not believe that we should hide the situation from those who must share the dangers of it. Ignorant as these Spaniards probably are, they have necessarily observed certain modifications brought about in physical phenomena, such as the shortening of the days, the change of the sun's course, the decrease of weight. Then, let us teach them that they are now carried away in space, and far from the earth, of which nothing is left but this island."

"Well, here is what is agreed upon!" replied Ben-Zouf; "tell all! No trifles! But I want to have a view of the Jew when he will learn that he is some hundreds of millions of leagues from his old globe, where a usurer of his stamp must have left more than one debtor! Run after them, my good man."

Isaac Hakhabut was fifty steps behind, and, in consequence, he could hear nothing of what was said. He walked, half bent, moaning, imploring the God of Israel; but, now and then, his two little quick eyes cast lightning glances, and his lips closed so as to reduce his mouth to a narrow grin.

He also had well observed the new physical phenomena, and, more than once, he had taken up this subject with Ben-Zouf, whom he sought to coax. But Ben-Zouf professed a visible antipathy for this pitiful descendant of Abraham. He had therefore only responded by jests to the entreaties of Hakhabut. Thus, he repeated to him that a Jew such as he had all to gain by the present system; that instead of living one hundred years, as do all sons of Israel who take care of themselves, he would live two hundred years at least, but that, owing to the decrease of everything on the surface of the earth, the burden of his old age would not appear too heavy! He added that, if the moon was concealed, that should be indifferent to a miser of his stamp, considering, that it was not probable that he had lent on it! He affirmed that if the sun set on the side where it was in the habit of rising, it was probably only because some one had moved his bed. Finally, a thousand idle tales of this kind. And when Isaac Hakhabut urged him more:

"Wait till the governor-general comes old man," he replied invariably; "he is a sharp one! He will explain all that to you!"

"And he will protect my goods?"

"How now, Naphtali! He will confiscate them rather than let them be stolen."

And it was with the benefit of these slightly consoling replies that the Jew, on whom Ben-Zouf lavished successively all kinds of Israelitish names, watched each day for the arrival of the governor.

Meanwhile, Hector Servadac and his companions had arrived at the coast. There, toward the middle of the hypothenuse formed by this side of the island, was anchored the "Hansa."

Insufficiently protected by a few rocks, very much exposed in this situation, a stiff breeze from the west certainly threatened to drive this tartan on shore, where she would be destroyed in a few moments. Evidently she could not remain at this anchorage, and it would be necessary, sooner or later, to bring her to the mouth of the Chéliff, near the Russian schooner.

On seeing his tartan, the Jew recommenced his list of complaints, with so many cries and grimaces, that Captain Servadac was obliged to tell him to be silent. Then, leaving Count Timascheff and Ben-Zouf on the shore, Lieutenant Procope and he embarked in the boat of the "Hansa" and came alongside of the floating shop.

The tartan was in perfect order, and, in consequence, her cargo ought not to have suffered in any way. It was very easy to make a statement. There was in the hold of the "Hansa" loaves of sugar by hundreds, chests of tea, sacks of coffee, casks of tobacco, pipes it brandy, tuns of wine, barrels of dried herrings, rolls of stuffs, pieces of cotton, garments of linen, an assortment of boots for all feet, and bonnets for all heads; tools, household utensils, articles of faiencerie, and of pottery, reams of paper, bottles of ink, packages of matches, hundreds of kilos of salt, of pepper and other condiments, a stock of large Holland cheeses, even to a collection of almanacs of the Double-Liegeois—- the whole reached a value of one hundred thousand francs. The tartan, a few days before the catastrophe, had just renewed her cargo at Marseilles, with the object of trading from Ceuta as far as the Regency of Tripoli, that is everywhere Isaac Hakhabut, crafty and artful, would succeed in making golden sales.

"A rich mine for us, is this superb cargo!" said Captain Servadac.

"If the proprietor allows it to be worked," replied Lieutenant Procope, shaking his head.

"Ah! what do you wish the Jew to do with his riches? When he understands that there are no more Moors nor French nor Arabs to impose upon, it will be well for him to commit suicide!"

"I know nothing about that! But, at any rate, he will want to be paid for his goods—when we have it."

"Well, we will pay him, lieutenant; we will pay him in drafts on our old world."

"After all, captain," replied Lieutenant Procope, "you have indeed the right to make requisitions—"

"No, lieutenant. Just because this man is a German, I would like to deal with him in a less German manner. Besides, I repeat it, he will soon have more need of us than we will have need of him! When he knows that he is on a new globe, and probably without hope of returning to the old, he will sell his goods cheaper!"

"Whatever happens," replied Lieutenant Procope, "we cannot leave the tartan at this anchorage. She would be lost in the first bad weather, and she would not even resist the pressure of the ice, when the sea freezes, which will soon happen."

"Well, lieutenant. You and your crew, you will bring her to the port of Chéliff."

"To-morrow, captain," replied Lieutenant Procope, "for time presses."

The inventory of the "Hansa "being finished, Captain Servadac and the lieutenant went on shore. It was then agreed that all the little colony should reunite at Gourbi Station, and that in passing they should take the Spaniards. Isaac Hakhabut was invited to follow the governor and he obeyed, not without throwing a frightened look on his tartan.

One hour after, the twenty-two inhabitants of the island were gathered in the large room of the Post. There, for the first time, young Pablo became acquainted with little Nina, who seemed well pleased to find in him a companion of her own age. Captain Servadac spoke first, and said, so as to be understood by the Jew, and the Spaniards, that he was going to tell them the grave situation in which they were placed. He added, besides, that he counted on their self-devotion, on their courage, and that all should now labor for the common interest.

The Spaniards listened tranquilly and could not reply, still ignorant of what was expected of them. Meanwhile, Negrete thought he ought to make an observation, and addressing Captain Servadac:

"Governor," said he, "my companions and I, before entering into an engagement, should like to know at what period it will be possible for you to take us back to Spain?"

"Take them back to Spain, Governor General!" exclaimed the Jew in good French. "No, so long as they will not pay me their debts! These rascals have promised me twenty reals each for their passage on board the 'Hansa.' They are ten. Then they owe me two hundred reals and I take as a witness of it—"

"You hold your tongue, Mordecai!" cried Ben-Zouf.

"You shall be paid," said Captain Servadac.

"And that will only be justice," replied Isaac Hakhabut. "To each his due and, if the Russian lord will lend me two or three of his sailors to take my tartan to Algiers, in my turn I shall pay them—Yes—I shall ay them—provided they do not demand too much!"

"Algiers!" exclaimed anew Ben-Zouf, who could not contain himself, "but know then—"

"Let me tell these brave men, Ben-Zouf, what they are ignorant of!" said Captain Servadac.

Then, continuing in Spanish:

"Listen to me, my friends," said he. "A phenomenon that we have not as yet been able to explain, has separated us from Spain, from Italy, from France, in a word, from all Europe. Of the other continents, there remains nothing but this island where you have found a refuge. We are no longer on the earth, but very likely on a fragment of the globe, which carries us with it and it is impossible to predict if we shall ever see our old world!"

Had the Spaniards understood the explanation given by Captain Servadac? It was at least doubtful. Meanwhile Negrete begged him to repeat what he had just said.

Hector Servadac did his best, and employing images familiar to these ignorant Spaniards, he succeeded in making them understand the situation just as it was. Nevertheless, at the end of a short conversation which Negrete and his companions held among themselves they all seemed to take the thing with perfect indifference.

As to the Jew, Hakhabut, after hearing Captain Servadac, he did not say a word; but he bit his lips as if he wished to conceal a smile.

Hector Servadac, then turning round, asked him if after what he had just heard, he still thought of going to sea and taking his tartan to the port of Algiers, of which not a vestige remained.

This time Isaac Hakhabut smiled but so as not to be seen by the Spaniards. Then, speaking in Russian, so as not to be understood only by Count Timascheff and his men:

"All that, that is not true," said he, "and his excellency the governor general is making fun of us!"

On which, Count Timascheff turned his back on this horrible old man with but slightly concealed disgust.

Isaac Hakhabut, then turning to Captain Servadac, said to him in French:

"Those stories are good for the Spaniards! They will believe them; but for me it is another thing!"

Then, drawing near little Nina, he added in Italian:

"Don't you believe that all that is not true, little one?"

And he left the Post, shrugging his shoulders.

"Well now! Then he knows all languages, that animal?" said Ben-Zouf.

"Yes, Ben-Zouf" replied Captain Servadac "but whether he expresses himself in French, in Russian, in Spanish, in Italian, or in German, he always speaks Jew!"



The following day, the sixth of March, without any longer trying to know what Isaac Hakhabut belittled or did not believe, Captain Servadac gave orders to take the "Hansa" to the port of Chéliff. Besides, the Jew made no observation, for changing the place of the "Hansa" protected his interests. But he trusted to entice two or three sailors from the schooner, and thus gain Algiers, or some other port on the coast.

The works were immediately undertaken in view of an approaching winter-season. These works were besides facilitated by the much greater muscular force that the workmen could develop. They were used to these phenomena of decreased attraction, as also to the decompression of the air, which had quickened their respiration, and they no longer even perceived it.

The Spaniards, as well as the Russians, set to work with earnestness. They commenced by appropriating to the needs of the little colony the post, which would serve as a common lodging until a new order was established. The Spaniards came to dwell there, the Russians remaining on their schooner, and the Jew on board of his tartan.

But ships or stone-houses could only be temporary habitations. It was necessary, before winter came, to find better shelter against the colds of the interplanetary spaces—shelters which would be warm of themselves, because the temperature could not be raised, for lack of combustible material.

Pits, a kind of deep excavations hollowed in the soil, could alone offer a refuge sufficient for the inhabitants of the Isle of Gourbi. When the surface of Gallia would be covered with a thick bed of ice, a substance which is a bad conductor of heat, they could hope that the interior temperature of these caves would be fixed at a supportable degree. Captain Servadac and his companions would lead there a veritable troglodyte existence but they had not the choice of a lodging.

Very happily, they did not find themselves in the same circumstances as the explorers, or the fishermen of the polar ocean. In those winter seasons, the firm soil generally fails under the foot. They live on the surface of the frozen sea, and cannot seek in its depths a refuge from the cold. Or, they remain on their ships, where they build habitations of wood and snow, and, in all cases, they are badly protected from the great falls of the temperature.

Here, on the contrary, on Gallia, the soil was solid, and even if they had to hollow out a dudling, a few hundred feet below it, the Gallians could hope to brave there the most rigorous falls in the thermometrical column.

Work was then immediately commenced. Spades, mattocks, picks, implements of various kinds, we know, were not wanting at the Gourbi, and under the conduct of the overseer, Ben-Zouf, Spanish peasants and Russian sailors set briskly to work.

But a disaster awaited the laborers, and the engineer, Servadac, who directed them.

The spot chosen to hollow the cave was situated on the right of the post, in a place where the soil formed a light intumescence. During the first day the excavation went on without difficulty; but, having reached a depth of eight feet, the workmen struck a substance so hard that their implements could not break it.

Hector Servadac and Count Timascheff, informed by Ben-Zouf, recognized in this substance the unknown matter which composed the coast of the Gallian Sea as well as its marine sub-soil. It was evident that it also formed the framework of Gallia. Now, means failed to dig deep enough. Ordinary powder would not suffice to disintegrate this substructure, more resisting than granite, and no doubt it would be necessary to employ dynamite to make it fly in fragments.

"Zounds! what then is this mineral," cried Captain Servadac, "and how can a piece of our old globe be formed of this matter, to which we cannot give a name?"

"It is absolutely inexplicable," replied Count Timascheff; "but, if we do not succeed in digging our dwelling in the ground, it is death at short notice!"

In fact, if the figures furnished by the document were correct, and if the distance to Gallia from the sun was progressively increasing, following the laws of motion, Gallia should then be one hundred millions of leagues away, a distance almost equal to three times that which separates the earth from the radiant star, when she passes at her aphelion. It may be conceived, then, how much the heat, as well as the solar light, would be diminished. It is true that, in consequence of the inclination of the axis of Gallia, which made an angle of ninety degrees with the plane of its orbit, the sun never moved from its equator, and that the isle of Gourbi, traversed by the parallel Zero, benefited by this situation. Under the zone, summer was her permanent condition, but her removal from the sun could not be counteracted, and her temperature went on falling. Already the ice had formed between the rocks, to the great anxiety of the little girl, and the sea would soon be entirely frozen.

Now, with the colds, which later would exceed sixty degrees centigrade, it was, for the want of a proper dwelling, death at short notice. Meanwhile the thermometer kept at an average of six degrees below zero, and the stove set up in the post devoured all the disposable wood, while giving out a medium heat. They could not then count on this kind of fuel, and it was necessary to find another dwelling which was sheltered from these lowerings of temperature, for, before long, they would see the mercury, and perhaps the alcohol, freeze in the thermometer.

As for the "Dobryna" and the "Hansa," it has been said these two boats were insufficient against the colds, already intense. They could not then dream of inhabiting them. Who knew, besides, what would become of these vessels when the ice would accumulate around them in enormous masses.

Had Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope been men easily discouraged, the opportunity was a fine one. In fact, what could they imagine, when the strange hardness of the strata of soil opposed their success in hollowing a cave in it?

Meanwhile, circumstances became very urgent. The apparent dimension of the solar disc was reduced more and more by the removal. When it passed to the zenith, its perpendicular rays still shed a certain heat, but, during the night, the cold was already very intense.

Captain Servadac and the Count Timascheff, mounted on Zephyr and Galette, passed over the entire island seeking some habitable retreat. The two horses flew over obstacles as if they had had wings. Vain exploration! At various points soundings were made, which invariably encountered the hard frame-work only a few feet below the surface. They must give up the idea of lodging under ground.

It was then decided that the Gallians would inhabit the posts, and that they would defend it as much as possible against the exterior colds. An order was given to gather all the wood, dry or green, which the Isle produced, and to cut down the trees with which the plain was covered. There was no time to hesitate. The felling was commenced without delay.

And withal, Captain Servadac and his companions knew well—that could not suffice! This combustible would soon be exhausted. The staff-officer, intensely anxious without letting it be seen, rode over the island, repeating: "An idea! an idea!".

Then, addressing Ben-Zouf, one day:

"Zounds! Have you not an idea?"

"No my captain," replied the orderly.

And he added:

"Ah! If we were only at Montmartre. It is there they have lovely quarries, all day out!"

"Idiot!" replied Captain Servadac, "if we were at Montmartre, I would have no need of your quarries!"

Meanwhile nature was going to procure for the colonists precisely the indispensable shelter which they needed to fight the colds of space. These are the circumstances under which it was pointed out to them.

On the tenth of March, Lieutenant Procope and Captain Servadac had been exploring the southwestern point of the island. While walking, they talked of the terrible contingencies reserved for them in the future! They discussed them with a certain animation, not being of the opinion as to the manner of parrying these contingencies. One persisted in seeking in impossible places the undiscoverable dwelling, the other looked for means to imagine a new method of warming the dwelling already occupied. Lieutenant Procope argued for this last combination, and he was deducing his motives, when he stopped suddenly in the middle of his argument. He was, at this moment, turned toward the south, and Captain Servadac saw him pass his band over his eyes as if to clear them, and then look anew with extreme attention.

"No, I am not mistaken!" cried he. "It is indeed a light that I perceive down there!"

"A light?"

"Yes; in that direction!"

"Right," replied Captain Servadac, who had just perceived the spot meant by the lieutenant.

The fact could not be doubted. A light appeared above the horizon at the south, and showed itself in the form of a large, bright point, which became more luminous as the darkness increased.

"Could it be a ship?" asked the captain.

"It would have to be a ship in flames," replied Lieutenant Procope, "for no ship's light could be visible at such a distance, nor, in any case, at that height."

"Besides," added Captain Servadac, "this fire does not move, and it even seems that a kind of reflection begins to grow on the night fogs."

The two observers looked with extreme attention for several minutes longer. Then a revelation suddenly came to the staff officer.

"The volcano!" cried he. "It is the volcano that we doubled on the return of the 'Dobryna.'"

And as if inspired:

"Lieutenant Procope, there is the dwelling we seek! There is the habitation which saves nature all the expenses of fire-wood! Yes, that inexhaustible and warm lava which overspreads the mountain, we well know how to employ it for all our needs. Ah! Lieutenant, Heaven does not abandon us. Come, come! To-morrow we must be there on that coast, and if it is possible, we are going to find heat, that is to say life, even in the bowels of Gallia!"

While Captain Servadac spoke with this enthusiastic conviction, Lieutenant Procope was trying to recall his thoughts. All at once the existence of the volcano in that direction seemed to him certain. He remembered that on the return of the "Dobryna," while she sailed along the southern coast of the Gallien Sea, a long promontory had barred her passage and obliged her to run back to the old latitude of Oran. There, she had rounded a high rocky mountain, whose summit was lost in smoke. To this smoke, evidently had succeeded a projection of flames, or incandescent lava, and it was this projection which really illuminated the southern horizon and was reflected on the clouds.

"You are right, captain," said Lieutenant Procope. "Yes, it is a volcano, and we shall explore it tomorrow."

Hector Servadac and Lieutenant Procope rapidly returned to the "Gourbi," and there they at first only made their project known to Count Timascheff.

"I will accompany you," said the count, "and the 'Dobryna' is at your service."

"I think," then said the lieutenant "that the schooner can remain in the port of Chéliff. Her steam-launch will be sufficient, in this fine weather, for a voyage of not more than eight leagues."

"Do as you think best, Procope," said Count Timascheff.

Like most luxurious pleasure-schooners, the "Dobryna" owned a steam launch of great speed, whose screw was put in motion by a small, powerful boiler, on the Oriolle system. Lieutenant Procope, not knowing the nature of the landings he was about to make, was right in preferring this light boat to the schooner, for it would allow him to visit without danger the smallest creeks of the shore.

For this reason, on the next day March 11th, the steam launch was loaded with coal, of which there still remained ten tons on board the "Dobryna." Then boarded by the captain the count and the lieutenant, she left the port of Chéliff, to the great surprise of Ben-Zouf, who had not been taken into the secret. But then, the orderly dwelt on Gourbi Island with the full powers of Governor-General, of which he was not a little proud.

The thirty kilometers which separated the Isle from the point on which rose the volcano, were crossed by the quick boat in less than three hours. The top of the high mountain then appeared all on fire. The eruption seemed to be considerable. The oxygen of the atmosphere carried away by Gallia, had it then recently combined with the eruptive matters of its bowels as to produce this intense burning, or, what was more probable, did not this volcano, like those of the moon, feed itself from a supply of oxygen of its own? The steam-launch ran along the coast, seeking a proper spot for a landing. After a half-hour search, she finally found a kind of semi-circular bend in the rock, forming a little creek, which could offer later a safe anchorage for the tartan and the schooner, if circumstances would permit them to be brought there.

The launch was landed, and the passengers debarked at a part of the coast opposite to that down which the torrents of lava followed the slopes so as to reach the sea. But, in approaching, Captain Servadac and his companions recognized with extreme satisfaction how much the temperature of the atmosphere had risen. Perhaps the hopes of the officer would be realized! Perhaps if he would find in this enormous rock a habitable excavation, the Galliens would escape the greatest danger that threatened them.

See them, then, seeking, prying, rounding the angles of the mountain, climbing its steepest slopes, scaling its large stones, springing from rock to rock like those nimble animals whose extraordinary specific lightness they now possessed, but without ever touching foot on any matter but that substance of hexagonal prisms which seemed to form the only mineral of the asteroid. Their search was not to be in vain.

Behind a great front of rock, the summit of which projected like a pyramid toward heaven, a kind of narrow gallery, or rather a dark opening hollowed in the side of the mountain, opened before them. They at once entered the orifice, which was at about twenty meters above the level of the sea.

Captain Servadac and his companions advanced crawling in the midst of profound obscurity, tapping the walls of the dark tunnel, sounding the depressions in the soil. From the rumblings which increased, they knew that the central chimney could not be far distant. Their fear was of seeing themselves suddenly stopped by a terminal wall which it would be impossible to pass.

But Captain Servadac had a resolute confidence, which was communicated to Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope.

"Forward! forward!" cried he. "In such exceptional circumstances we must have recourse to exceptional means! The fire is lit, the chimney is not far off. Nature furnishes the fuel! Zounds! we will warm ourselves cheap!"

The temperature was there at least fifteen degrees above zero. When the explorers put their hands on the walls of the serpentine gallery, they felt them burning. It seemed that this rocky matter, of which the mountain was formed, had the power of conducting heat, as if it had been metallic.

"You see," repeated Hector Servadac, "there really is a hot-air stove in there!"

At last an enormous light illuminated the tunnel, and a vast cavern appeared which blazed with light. The temperature was very high, but supportable.

To what phenomenon did this excavation hollowed in the thick rock owe this light and this temperature? Simply to a torrent of lava which fell in front of its bay, largely opening on the sea. One might say the sheets of middle Niagara, reaching over the celebrated Cave of the Winds. Only, here it was not a liquid curtain—it was a curtain of flame which rolled before the vast bay of the cavern.

"Ah! Helpful Heaven!" cried Captain Servadac, "I cannot ask for more!"



This cavern, was, in fact, a marvelous habitation, all warmed, all lighted, where the little world of Gallia would easily find room. And not only Hector Servadac and "his subjects" as Ben-Zouf would say could lodge there comfortably; but the captain's two horses and a very considerable number of domestic animals, would there have a shelter against the cold, till the end of the Gallian winter—if this winter would ever have an end.

This enormous excavation—that was soon discovered—was, to say the truth, only the opening formed by about twenty long, narrow places, which having ramified the interior of the massive rock, ended there. The warm air here diffused itself at a remarkably high temperature. One might truly say that the heat transuded through the mineral pores of the mountain. Then, under these thick arches, sheltered from all the inclemencies of a polar climate, defying the cold of space, no matter how low it descended, all the living creatures of the new star would find a sure refuge, as long as the volcano was in a state of eruption. But, as Count Timascheff very justly observed, no other burning mountain had been seen during the voyage of the "Dobryna," on the perimeter of the new sea; and if this single mouth served as outlet to the interior fires of Gallia, the eruption would evidently continue for centuries. It was necessary then not to lose a day not even an hour. While the "Dobryna" could still sail, it was necessary to return to Gourbi Island, "moving briskly," and transport, without delay to their new dwelling men and animals, and to store up there, cereals and forage, and to install themselves definitely on Hot-Land—a very suitable name, which was given to this volcanic portion of the promontory.

The boat returned the same day to Gourbi Island, and on the next day the work was commenced.

It was a long winter's season which then prevailed, and from all the severities of which it was necessary to guard. Yes severe, long—interminable, perhaps—much more threatening than those six months of night and winter braved by the navigators of the Arctic seas! Who could predict, in fact, the time when Gallia would be delivered from her bonds of ice? Who could say if she followed in her revolution a re-entering orbit, and if an elliptical orbit would ever bring her back to the sun?

Captain Servadac told his companions the happy discovery which he had just made. The name of Hot-Land was received by the "bravos" of Nina, and especially of the Spaniards. Providence, which did things so well, was thanked as it deserved to be.

During the three days which followed the "Dobryna" made three trips. Filled to the height of the barricading, she first transported the crop of forage and cereals, which were deposited in the deep reducts intended to serve as storehouses. The fifteenth of March the rocky stables received those of the domestic animals bulls, cows, sheep, and hogs—about fifty—of which they wished to preserve their species. The others that the cold would soon destroy, would be killed as great quantities as possible, the indefinite preservation of meat being so easy in this, rigorous climate. The Gallians would then have an enormous reserve. A re-assuring future at least for the actual population of Gallia! As to the question of drink, it was very easy to answer. It would evidently be necessary to content themselves with fresh water; but this water would never fail, neither during the summer—thanks to the brooks and wells of Gourbi Island—nor during the winter, because the cold would produce it by the freezing of the sea water.

While they were working in this way at the Island. Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Lieutenant Procope, were occupied in arranging this residence of Hot-Land. They were obliged to hurry, for already the ice resisted even in the middle of the day, the perpendicular rays of the sun. Now, it was better on account of the transports, to use the sea while it was still open, rather than to cross it painfully on its solidified surface.

This arrangement of the different excavations opened in the massive rock of the volcano, was conducted with great ingenuity. New explorations had led to the discovery of new galleries. This mountain resembled a vast hive, full of cells. The bees, we would say, the colonists, would find it easy to dwell there, and under conditions of sufficient corn fort. This disposal, even caused to be given to this dwelling, and in honor of the little girl, the name of Nina's Hive.

The first care of Captain Servadac and his companions was to employ to the best advantage, for daily necessities, this volcanic heat which nature produced for them gratuitously. In opening to the streams of incandescent lava new slopes they led them to places where they could be used. So the kitchen of the "Dobryna" having been established in a suitable reduct, appropriate to this usage, was henceforth heated with lava, and Mochel, the head cook of the "Dobryna," was soon skillful in the use of this new kind of heat-fire.

"Hein!" said Ben-Zouf, "what progress, if in the old world each house had for a heater a little volcano which would not cost a centime to feed it."

The great cavern, this principal excavation, toward which converged the galleries of the massive rock, was intended to be the common sitting-room, and it was furnished with the principal furniture of the hut and of the "Dobryna." The sails of the schooner had been taken from the yards and carried to "Nina's Hive," where they could be put to various uses. The library from on board, well furnished with French and Russian books, naturally found its place in the large sitting-room. Table, lamps, chairs completed the furniture, and the walls were ornamented with the "Dobryna's" charts.

It has been said that the curtain of fire, which concealed the bay in front of the principal excavation, warmed it and illuminated it at the same time. This cataract of lava fell into a little basin surrounded by a border of reefs which seemed to have no communication with the sea. It was evidently the opening of a very deep precipice in which the waters would doubtless be contained in the liquid state by the eruptive materials, even when the cold would have frozen all the Gallian Sea. A second excavation, situated at the bottom, to the left of the common sitting-room, became the special apartment of Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff; Lieutenant Procope and Ben-Zouf occupied together a kind of retreat, hollowed in the rock, which opened to the right, and they even found a reduct behind which they fitted up a little room for Nina. As to the Russian sailors and the Spaniards, they put their beds in the galleries which ended in the large sitting-room, and which the heat from the central fireplace rendered perfectly habitable. The whole constituted "Nina's Hive."

The little colony, thus housed, could then wit without fear during the long and severe winter which was going to keep it in the massive rock of Hot-Land. Then the colony could support with impunity a temperature which, in case Gallia should be drawn as far as the orbit of Jupiter, would not be more than the twenty-fifth part of terrestrial temperature.

But, during the preparations of settling, and in the midst of this feverish activity, which even affected the Spaniards, what became of Isaac Hakhabut, left at the anchorage of Gourbi Island?

Isaac Hakhabut, always incredulous, deaf to all the proofs that for humanity's sake they had accumulated to overcome his distrust, had remained on board his tartan, watching over his merchandize like a miser over his treasure, grumbling, looking toward the horizon, but in vain, to see if some ship would not present itself in view of Gourbi Island. They were, besides, rid of his ugly figure at "Nina's Hive," and they were not sorry.

The Jew had formally declared that he would not give up his merchandize, except for current money. So, Captain Servadac had forbidden that they should take any thing from him, or that they should buy any thing whatsoever. They would soon see if this madman would yield to the necessity which would press him, and of the reality of which he would be convinced before long.

Very evident that Isaac Hakhabut did not admit in any way the fearful situation in which the little colony was placed. He always believed himself to be upon the terrestial spheroid of which a cataclysm had changed some portions only, and he counted that, sooner or later, the means would be given him to leave Gourbi Island and trade again on the Mediterranean coast.

With his distrust of every thing and every one, he imagined that some plot had been laid against him to despoil him of his goods. So, not wishing to be tricked, he rejected the hypothesis of this enormous block detached from the earth and carried through space, and not wishing to be robbed, he watched night and day, but, to sum up, although all concluded that a new star was peregrinating in the solar system—a star inhabited only by the English of Gibraltar and the colonists of Gourbi Islands—Isaac Hakhabut had carefully directed toward the line of the horizon his old telescope vamped like an old stove-pipe; he did not see any ship appear nor any trader come to exchange his gold for the riches of the "Hansa."

Meanwhile the Jew had not been in ignorance of the projects for winter quarters, which were going to be put in execution. First of all, following his invariable habit he refused to believe in them. But when he saw the "Dobryna" make frequent trips to the south, carrying the crops and the domestic animals, he was indeed obliged to admit that Captain Servadac and his companions were preparing to leave Gourbi Island.

What was going to become of him then, this unhappy Hakhabut, if, absurd as it was, all he refused to believe was true? How! He would be no longer on the Mediterranean, but on the Gallian Sea. He would never see again his good, German country! He would trade no more with his easy dupes in Tripoli and Tunis! But it was his ruin!

Then, he was seen to leave his tartan oftener and mingle with the different groups of Russians and Spaniards, who did not annoy him with jests. He then tried to coax Ben-Zouf by offering him some pinches of snuff which the orderly refused "by orders."

"No, old Zabulon!" he said to him. "Not a single pinch! Those are my orders! You shall eat your cargo, you shall drink it, you shall snuff it all, and all alone, Sardanapalus!"

Isaac Hakhabut, seeing that he could obtain nothing from the "Saints," "threw himself upon God," and one day he decided to ask Captain Servadac if all that was indeed true, believing that a French officer would not wish to deceive a poor man like him.

"Ah! yes, zounds! yes! all that is true," replied Hector Servadac, made impatient by so much obstinacy, "and you have only time to take refuge in 'Nina's Hive!'"

"May the Eternal and Mahomet help me!" murmured the Jew, making this double invocation like a true renegade, as he was.

"Do you want three or four men to bring the 'Han-pa' to the new anchorage of Hot-Land?" asked Captain Servadac.

"I want to go to Algiers," replied Isaac Hakhabut.

"I repeat to you that Algiers exists no longer!"

"God of Israel, is it possible!"

"For the last time, will you follow us with yon tartan to Hot-Land, where we are going to winter?"

"Mercy! I am undone!"

"You will not? Well, we shall bring the 'Hansa' in spite of you, and without you, to a safe place."

"In spite of me, governor?"

"Yes, for I do not wish that, by your stupid obstinacy, all this precious store should be destroyed without profit to any one."

"But it is my ruin!"

"It would be much more surely your ruin if we let you alone," replied Hector Servadac shrugging his shoulders. "And now go to the devil!"

Isaac Hakhabut turned toward his tartan, raising his arms to heaven, and protesting against the incredible rapacity of the men "of the bad race."

On the twentieth of March, the work on Gourbi Island was finished. It only remained to depart. The thermometer had fallen, on an average, to eight degrees below zero. The water of the well no longer offered a single liquid drop. It was then agreed that on the morrow all should embark on the "Dobryna," and leave the island to take refuge in "Nina's Hive." They were equally resolved to bring the tartan there in spite of all the protestations of her proprietor.

Lieutenant Procope had declared that if the "Hansa" had remained anchored at the Port of Chéliff, she could not resist the pressure of the ice, and would be inevitably broken up. In the creek of Hot-Land better protected, she would be more secure, and in any case, if she were lost there, her cargo, at least, could be saved. That is the reason that some moments after the schooner had weighed anchor, the "Hansa" set sail also, in spite of the cries and objurgations of Isaac Hakhabut. Four Russian sailors went on board of her by order of the lieutenant, and her great lateen-yard unfurled, the floating shop, as Ben-Zouf said, left Gourbi Island and sailed toward the south.

The invectives of the Jew during the passage, and with what persistance he repeated that they were acting against him, that he had need of no one, that he had not asked for aid, cannot be told.

He wept, he lamented, he groaned—at least with his lips—for he would not prevent his small gray eyes from sending certain lightning glances through his fatal tears.

Then, three hours after, when he was well moored in the creek of Hot-Land, when he saw his goods and himself in safety any one who approached him would have been struck with the perfect satisfaction of his expression, and listening, would have heard him murmur these words:

"For nothing this time! God of Israel! The idiots! They have brought me for nothing!"

The whole man was in these words. "For nothing!" They had rendered him this service "for nothing!"

Gourbi Island was now and definitely abandoned by men. There remained no longer on this last shred of a French colony but the feathered and haired animals which had escaped the huntsmen, and whom the cold would soon destroy. The birds, after trying to find, farther off, some more propitious continent, had returned to the island, incontestable proof that there existed elsewhere no land which could feed them.

That day Captain Servadac and his companions solemnly toot possession of their new dwelling. The interior arrangement of "Nina's Hive" pleased all, and each congratulated himself on being so comfortably and above all, so warmly lodged. Isaac Hakhabut alone did not partake of the common satisfaction. He would not even enter the galleries of the rock, and remained on hoard his tartan.

"Doubtless, he fears," said Ben-Zouf, "that we will make him pay for his lodging! But bah! before long he will be so hunted down in his house, that an old fox and the cold will chase him out of his hole."

In the evening, they gave a house-warming, and a good repast, of which the viands were cooked by the volcanic fire, gathered all this little world into the large room. Several toasts, of which the cellar of the "Dobryna" furnished the elements in French wines, were drunk to the governor-general, and to his "Council of Administration." Ben-Zouf naturally took a good part in it. It was very lively. The Spaniards distinguished themselves by their animation. One took his guitar, and the other his castanets, and all sang in chorus. In his turn, Ben-Zouf gave the celebrated "Zouave's Refrain" so well known in the French Army, but whose charm can only be appreciated by those who have heard it executed by an old soldier, such as Captain Servadac's orderly.

"Misti goth dar dar tire lyre!
Filc! floc! fiac! lirette, lira!
Far la rira,
Tour tala rire,
Tour la Riband,
Sans repos, répit, répit, repos, ris pot ripette!
Si vous attrapez mon refrain
Fameux vous êtes."

Then a ball was improvised—the first, no doubt, that had been given on Gallia. The Russian sailors attempted several dances of their country, which the audience much enjoyed; even after the marvelous fandangos of the Spanish. A step well known at the Elysée-Montmartre, was then executed by Ben-Zouf with as much elegance as vigor, and obtained for the amiable chorographer the sincere compliments of Negrete.

It was nine o'clock when the inauguration festival ended. They felt then the need of taking the air, for, the dancing and the temperature assisting, it was really warm in the great room.

Ben-Zouf, preceding his friends, entered the principal gallery which ended at the coast of Hot-Land. Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Lieutenant Procope followed them at a more moderate pace, when cries echoing without made them quicken their steps. Meanwhile, they were not exclamations caused by terror, but were "bravos!" "hurrahs!" that thundered like musket shots in this dry and pure atmosphere.

Captain Servadac and his companions, arrived at the opening of the gallery, saw all their world grouped on the rocks. Ben-Zouf, his head stretched toward the sky was in an attitude of ecstasy.

"Oh! governor-general! Ah! my Lord!" cried the orderly, with an accent of joy which cannot be described.

"Well? what is the matter?" demanded Captain Servadac.

"The moon!" replied Ben-Zouf. And, in fact, the moon came forth from the fogs of the night and appeared for the first time on the horizon of Gallia.



The moon! If it were the moon, why had she disappeared? And if she re-appeared, whence did she come? Until then, no satellite had accompanied Gallia in her motion of translation around the sun. Had the faithful Diana just abandoned the earth to pass into the service of the new star?

"No! it is impossible," said Lieutenant Procope. "The earth is several millions of leagues from us, and the moon has not ceased to gravitate around it!"

"Eh! we knew nothing about it," observed Hector Servadac. "Why may not the moon have recently fallen into Gallia's center of attraction and become its satellite?"

"She would have already shown herself on our horizon," said Count Timascheff, "and we would not have waited three months for her re-appearance."

"Faith!" replied Captain Servadac, "everything that happens to us is so strange—"

"Mr. Servadac" replied Lieutenant Procope, "the hypothesis that the attraction of Gallia has been strong enough to carry off from the earth her satellite is absolutely inadmissible!"

"Good, lieutenant!" replied Captain Servadac, "and who says that the same phenomenon which has snatched us from the terrestrial globe has not, with the same blow, misled the moon? Wandering, then in the solar system, she would come to attach herself to us—"

"No, captain, no," replied Lieutenant Procope, "and for an unanswerable reason?"

"And what is the reason."

"It is, that the mass of Gallia being evidently inferior to that of the terrestrial satellite, Gallia would become its moon, instead of it becoming hers."

"I grant you that, lieutenant," replied Hector Servadac. "But who can prove that we are not the moon of a moon, and that, the terrestrial satellite having been launched on a new orbit, we do not accompany it in the interplanetary world?"

"Are you very anxious to have me refute this new hypothesis?" asked Lieutenant Procope.

"No," replied Captain Servadac, smiling; "for, in truth, if our asteroid were only a sub-satellite, it would not employ three months in going half-way around the moon, and the latter would have already appeared to us several times since the catastrophe."

During this discussion the satellite of Gallia, whatever it was, rose rapidly on the horizon—thus justifying Captain Servadac's last argument. They could then observe it with attention. The glasses were brought, and soon it was certain that this was not the ancient Phoebe of earthly nights.

In fact, although this satellite appeared to be much nearer Gallia than the moon is to the earth, it seemed to be much smaller, and it presented a surface one-tenth the size of the earth's satellite. It was, then, a reduced moon, which but feebly reflected the light of the sun, and could not extinguish the stars of the eighth magnitude. It rose in the west, precisely in opposition with the radiant stars, and it must have been full at that moment. As for confounding it with the moon, it was not possible. Captain Servadac had to admit that they saw there neither seas, nor furrows, nor craters, nor mountains, nor any of those details which assume forms so clearly on the selenographical maps. It was no longer the sweet face of Apollo's sister, who, fresh and young, according to some, old and wrinkled, according to others, tranquilly contemplates, through the lapse of centuries, sublunary mortals.

So, then, this was a particular moon; and, as Count Timascheff had observed, very probably some asteroid which Gallia had captured in traversing the zone of the telescopic planets. Now came the question, was this one of the one hundred and sixty-nine little planets catalogued at this period, or some other of which astronomers as yet knew nothing? Perhaps they would know later. It was just like those asteroids, with extremely reduced dimensions, of which a good pedestrian could easily make the circuit in twenty-four hours. Their mass, in this case, was very inferior to the mass of Gallia, whose attractive power had been perfectly able to exercise itself on one of these microcosms in miniature.

The first night spent in Nina's Hive passed without any incident. The next day, the general life was definitely organized. "The governor," as Ben-Zouf emphatically said, did not intend that they should remain idle. Above all, in fact, Captain Servadac dreaded idleness—and its evil consequences. The daily occupation was then regulated with the greatest care, and work never failed. The care of the domestic animals constituted a very heavy task. The preparation of alimentary preserves, fishing, while the sea was still open, the management of the galleries which it was necessary to hollow out in certain places so as to render them more practicable, a thousand details which unceasingly renewed themselves, did not leave the arms idle for a moment.

We must add that the most complete agreement reigned in the little colony. Russians and Spaniards accorded perfectly, and commenced to use some words in French, which was the official language of Gallia. Pablo and Nina had become pupils of Captain Servadac who instructed them. As for amusing them, that was Ben-Zouf's affair. The orderly taught them not only his own tongue, but the Parisian, which is still more elegant. Then, he promised to take them some day to a town "built at the foot of a mountain," which had not its equal in the world, and of which he gave enchanting descriptions. Readers will divine of what town the enthusiastic professor spoke.

A question of etiquette was also regulated at this be remembered that Ben-Zouf had presented his captain as the Governor-General of the colony. But, not content with giving him this title, he qualified it with "Monseigneur" "My Lord" at every turn. This ended by particularly irritating Hector Servadac, who enjoined his orderly to no longer give him this honorary title.

"Meanwhile, my lord—" invariably replied Ben-Zouf.

"Hold your tongue, animal!"

"Yes, my lord."

Finally, Captain Servadac, not knowing how to make him obey said one day to Ben-Zouf:

"Will you give up calling me my lord?"

"If you please, my lord," replied Ben-Zouf.

"But, blockhead, do you know what you do by calling me thus?"

"No, my lord."

"Are you ignorant of the meaning of this word which you employ without even understanding it?"

"No, my lord!"

"Well, it means, 'my old one,' in Latin, and you fail in the respect due to your superior when you call him 'my old one!'"

And, in fact, after that little lesson, the honorary qualification disappeared from Ben-Zouf's vocabulary.

Meanwhile, the great cold did not come with the last fortnight of March, and, consequently, Hector Servadac and his companions did not yet sequester them selves. Several excursions were even organized along the coast and on the surface of the new continent. They explored it for a radius of five or six kilometres around Hot-Land. It was always the horrible rocky desert, without trace of vegetation. Some threads of frozen water, here and there plates of snow, arising from vapors condensed in the atmosphere, indicated the appearance of the liquid on the surface. But centuries, no doubt, would pass before a river could hollow its bed in this stony soil and roll its waters as far as the sea! As for the homogeneous concretion to which the Gallians had given the name of Hot-Land, was it a continent, was it an island, did it extend or not as far as the southern pole? They could not tell, and an expedition across these metallic crystalizations might be considered as impossible.

For the rest, Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff could form a general idea of this country by observing it one day from the summit of the volcano.

This mountain rose at the end of the promontory of Hot-Land, and it measured nine hundred or a thousand metres of altitude above the level of the sea. It was an enormous block, rather regularly constructed, which took the form of a truncated cone. At the top of the cone opened the narrow crater, by which were discharged the eruptive matters, which an immense plume of vapors incessantly crowned.

This volcano, transported to the old ground, was not to be climbed without difficulties, without fatigue. Its very steep slopes, its slippery declivities, offered no facilities to the most determined climbers, in most cases, this expedition would have required a great expense of strength, and its object would not have been attained without trouble. Here, on the contrary, thanks to the serious diminution of gravity and the in crease of muscular power which resulted from it Hector Servadac and Count Timascheff accomplished prodigies of suppleness and vigor. A goat could not have been more agile in springing from one rock to another, a bird could not have run more lightly on the narrow edges which bordered the abyss. They were hardly an hour springing up the three thousand feet which lay between the earth and the summit of the mountain. When they arrived at the edge of the crater they were no more fatigued than if they had walked a kilometre and a half, following a horizontal line. Decidedly, if the inhabitancy of Gallia presented certain inconveniences, it also offered some advantages.

From the summit of the mountain, the two explorers, their glasses to their eyes, could recognize that the appearance of the asteroid remained sensibly the same. To the north extended the immense Gallian Sea, smooth as a mirror, for there was no more wind than if the gases of the air had been satisfied by the cold of the high atmosphere. A little point, lightly stumped in the fog, marked the place occupied by Gourbi Island. To the east and to the west was spread the liquid plain as usual, deserted.

Toward the south, beyond the limits of the horizon, Hot-Land lost itself in the distance. This end of the continent seemed to form a vast triangle, of which the volcano was the apex, the base not being perceptible. Seen from this height, which should have leveled all the asperities, the soil of this unknown territory did not appear to be practicable. The millions of hexagonal lamels with which it bristled rendered it absolutely impossible for the steps of a pedestrian.

"A balloon or wings!" said Captain Servadac. "These are what we need to explore this new territory! Faith! We are carried on a really chemical product, as curious, certainly, as those which they expose under glass in the museums!"

"You remark, captain" said Count Timascheff, "how the convexity of Gallia is rapidly betrayed to our glances, and, in consequence, how relatively short is the distance which separates us from the horizon!"

"Yes, Count Timascheff," replied Hector Servadac. "It is the effect, only increased, that I had already observed from the top of the cliffs of the island. To an observer placed at a height of a thousand metres on our old earth, the horizon would close in at a more considerable distance."

"It is a very little globe, our Gallia, if we compare it with the terrestrial spheroid!" replied Count Timascheff.

"Without doubt, but it is more than sufficient for the population which inhabit it! Remark, besides, that its fertile portion is actually reduced to the three hundred and fifty cultivated hectares of Gourbi Island."

"Yes, captain, a fertile position during two or three months of summer, and sterile during thousands of years of winter, perhaps."

"What will you have?" replied Captain Servadac, smiling. "They did not consult us before embarking us on Gallia, and it is best to be philosophers!"

"Not only philosophical, captain, but grateful also to the Being whose hand has lighted the lava of this volcano! Without this discharge from the fires of Gallia, we were condemned to perish by cold."

"And I have a firm hope, Count Timascheff that these fires will not be extinguished before the end."

"What end, captain?"

"The end that God wills? He knows, and he alone?" Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff, after having thrown a last look on the continent and the sea, began to think of descending. But, first, they wished to examine the crater of the volcano. They remarked at once that the eruption was accomplished with singular calmness. It was not accompanied by those disorderly crashes by those deafening thunders, which usually signal the expulsion of volcanic matters. This relative calm could not escape the attention of explorers. There was not even a boiling up of the lava. These liquid substances, brought to the incandescent state, rose in the crater by a continuous movement, and they overflowed tranquilly, like the overplus of a peaceful lake which runs away through its weir.

If this comparison may be permitted: the crater did not resemble a boiler, subjected to a hot fire, from which the water escapes with violence; it was rather a basin, filled to the brim, which overflowed without effort, almost without noise. Besides, there was no eruptive matter but the lava; no sprinkling of igneous stones through the fuliginous volutes that crowded the top of the mountain; no cinders mingled with the smoke—which explained why the base of the mountain was not strewn with pumice-stones, with obsidians and other minerals of Plutonian origin, which cover the ground in the vicinity of the volcanoes. There was not to be seen even a stray block, since no glacier had as yet been formed.

This peculiarity, as Captain Servadac had observed, was a good augury, and permitted a belief in the endless continuation of the volcanic eruption. Violence, in the moral order as in the physical order, is exclusive of duration. The most terrible storms, as well as the most excessive passions, are never prolonged. Here, this water of fire ran with so much regularity, overflowed with such calmness, that the source which fed it seemed to be inexhaustible. In presence of Niagara Falls, whose upper waters glide so peacefully over the trap in their bed, the thought is never suggested that they may yet stop in their course.

At the summit of this mountain the effect was the same, and reason refused to admit that the lava might not eternally overflow the crater.

On that very day a change was produced in the physical condition of one of the elements of Gallia; but it must be allowed that it was the work of the colonists themselves.

In fact, the whole colony was installed in Hot-Land; after the entire removal from Gourbi Island, it seemed proper to provoke the solidification of the Gallian Sea. Communication with the island would then be possible over the frozen waters, and the hunters could even see how to enlarge their hunting-ground. So, on that day, Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Lieutenant Procope collected the whole population on a rock which overlooked the sea at the very extremity of the promontory.

In spite of the lowering of the temperature the sea was still liquid. This circumstance was due to its immobility, for not a breath of air troubled its surface. In these conditions, we know water can, without freezing, reach a temperature a certain number of degrees below zero. A simple shock, it is true, is sufficient to make it freeze suddenly.

Little Nina and her friend, Pablo were careful to be at the meeting-place.

"Mignon," said Captain Servadac, "do you know how to throw a piece of ice into the sea?"

"Oh, yes," replied the little girl; "but my friend, Pablo, can throw it much farther than I can."

"Try, all the same," replied Hector Servadac, putting a small piece of ice into Nina's hand. Then he added, "Look well, Pablo? You shall see what a little fairy our little Nina is!"

Nina swung her hand two or three times and flung the piece of ice, which fell into the calm waters.

Then a sort of immense shriveling was heard, which spread beyond the limits of the horizon.

The Gallian Sea had solidified over its entire surface?



On the twenty-third of March, three hours after sunset the moon rose in the opposite horizon, and the Gallians could see that she had already entered her last quarter.

Thus, in four days, the satellite of Gallia had passed from syzygy into quadrature, a fact which assigned it a period of visibility of about a week, and consequently, lunations of fifteen or sixteen days. Then for Gallia, the lunar months had diminished one-half, like the solar days.

Three days later, the twenty-sixth, the moon entered into conjunction with the sun, and disappeared in its irradiation.

"Will she return?" asked Ben-Zouf, who, having been the first to point out this satellite, was heartily interested in it.

And, truly, after so many cosmical phenomena, the cause of which still escaped the Gallians, the remark of the brave Ben-Zouf was not absolutely silly.

On the twenty-sixth, the weather being very pure, and the atmosphere very dry, the thermometer fell to twelve degrees centigrade.

What distance was Gallia, then, from the sun? What path had she followed on her orbit since the date indicated by the last document found in the sea? Not one of the inhabitants of Hot-Land could have said. The apparent diminution of the solar disc could no longer serve as a basis for a calculation, even approximative. It was to be regretted that the anonymous savant had not addressed new notices giving the result of his last observations. Captain Servadac particularly regretted that this singular correspondence with one of his countrymen—he obstinately regarded him as such—had been without consequence.

"After all," said he to his companions, "it is very possible that our astronomer did continue to write to us, by cases or by barrels, but that neither of them arrived at Gourbi Island or at Hot-Land. And now that the sea is frozen, good-bye to all hope of receiving the smallest letter from this original."

In fact, as we know, the sea was entirely congealed. This substitution of the solid condition for the liquid had taken place in magnificent weather, and at a moment when not a breath of air troubled the Gallian Sea. Thus, its surface solidified, it was absolutely smooth as that of a lake or of a basin of a skating club. Not a swelling, not a puff, not a crevice. It was a pure mirror, without a break, without a flaw, which stretched beyond the limits of the horizon.

How different from the aspect usually presented by the Polar seas when in view of the ice! There, are icebergs hummocks, blocks of ice piled on top of each other and exposed to the most capricious changes of equilibrium.

Ice-fields, to tell the truth, are but an agglomeration of pieces of ice irregularly adjusted, rubbish which the cold maintains in the most fantastical positions, mountains with fragile bases which overlook the highest masts of whaling ships.

Nothing is stable on these Arctic and Antarctic oceans, nothing is immutable; the iceberg is not cast in bronze, and a sudden wind, a modification in the temperature, produces in it alterations of a startling effect. It is then but a succession of fairy decorations. Here, on the contrary, the Gallian Sea was definitely fixed, and still more clearly than at the period when she offered a surface sensible to the wind. The immense white plain was smoother than the plateaux of the Sahara, or the steppes of Russia, and no doubt for a long time. On the imprisoned waters of the sea, this armor, growing thicker with the increase of the cold, would keep its hardness until the thaw—if the thaw would ever come!

The Russians were accustomed to the phenomena of freezing in the northern seas, which offered the appearance of a field irregularly crystalized. They looked with surprise at this Gallian sea, smooth as a lake—and with no less satisfaction, for this field of ice, perfectly polished, would marvelously assist the exercise of skating.

The "Dobryna" possessed an assortment of skates, which were put at the disposal of the amateurs. The amateurs flocked in. The Russians gave lessons to the Spaniards, and soon, during these beautiful days—the cold sharp, but supportable in the absence of any wind—there was not a Gallian who did not exercise by describing the most elegant curves. Little Nina and young Pablo performed wonders and received great applause. Captain Servadac, skillful in all gymnastic exercises, soon became the equal of his professor Count Timascheff. Ben-Zouf himself accomplished prodigies, having besides more than once skated on the immense basin of the Place Montmartre—"a sea in fact!"

This kind of exercise, very healthy in itself, became, at the same time, a useful distraction for the inhabitants of Hot-Land. In case of necessity it might also be a means of rapid locomotion. In fact, Lieutenant Procope, one of the best skaters in Gallia, more than once made the journey from Hot-Land to the Island of Gourbi—that is to say, ten leagues in the space of two hours.

"See what will replace on the surface of Gallia the railroads of the old world," said Captain Servadac. "For that matter, the skate is nothing more than a movable rail fixed on the foot of the traveler."

Meanwhile, the temperature lowered progressively, and the average of the thermometer was fifteen degrees or sixteen degrees centigrade below zero. With the heat, the light also diminished, as if the solar disc had been indefinitely concealed by the moon in a partial eclipse. A sort of half color spread over every object, and gave a sad impression to the thoughts. In this lie the causes of a moral obscurity against which a reaction is necessary. Besides, how could these exiles from the earthly globe forget the solitude which had been made around them, so closely mingled until then with the crowded world? How could they forget that the earth, gravitating millions of leagues from Gallia, was always going further away? Could they suppose that they would ever see it again, when this block, detached from it, plunged more and more into interplanetary spaces? Nothing proved even that it would not one day abandon these spaces, which are subjected to the power of the sun, to wander in the sidereal world, and move in the center of attraction of some new star.

Count Timascheff, Captain Servadac, and Lieutenant Procope were evidently the only ones in the Gallian colony who could think of these contingencies. Their companions, without penetrating so deeply the secrets and the threats of the future, suffered, and as if in ignorance, the effects of a situation without precedent in the annals of the world. It was necessary, then, to make an effort to distract them, whether in instructing them, in occupying them, or in amusing them and the exercise of skating made a happy diversion from the monotonous labors of each day.

When it is said that all the inhabitants of Hot-Land took more or less part in this healthy exercise, it will be understood always excepting Isaac Hakhabut.

In fact, in spite of the rigor of the temperature, the Jew had not reappeared since his arrival from Gourbi Island. Captain Servadac, having sternly forbidden communication with him nobody bad gone to see him on board the "Hansa." But a little smoke which escaped through the pipe from the cabin indicated that the proprietor of the tartan always lived on board. This obliged him, no doubt to burn his combustible material, no matter how little it was, when he might have enjoyed gratuitously the volcanic heat of Nina-Hive. But he preferred this increase of expense to the obligation of abandoning the "Hansa," so as to partake of the common life.

In his absence, who would have watched his precious cargo?

However, the tartan and the schooner had been disposed of so as to support the difficulties of a long winter's season. Lieutenant Procope had given them his best care. Firmly moored in the creek, frozen now in their icy carapase, they were both immovable. But they had taken the precaution, as do those who winter in the Arctic seas, to bevel the ice under their bulls. By this means, the hardened mass of water joined under the keel and no longer exercised its strong pressure against the sides of the two vessels at the risk of crushing them. If the level of the ice field were raised the schooner and the tartan would rise as much, but with the thaw, it was to be hoped that they would find the water line suitable to their proper element.

The Gallian Sea was there frozen over its whole extent, and in his last visit to Gourbi Island, Lieutenant Procope had discovered that the field of ice could be seen as far as the eye could reach in the north, the east, and the west.

A single spot in the vast basin had resisted this phenomenon of solidification. It was at the base of the central cavern, this kind of pool on which fell the curtain of incandescent lava. There the water remained absolutely liquid in its framework of rocks, and the icicles which were inclined to form under the action of the cold, were at once devoured by the heat.

The water hissed and volatilized at the contact of the lava, and a constant boiling held these molecules in a kind of permanent bubbling.

This little portion of the sea, always liquid, should have permitted fishermen to exercise their art with some success. But as Ben-Zouf said, "the fish there were boiled too much to bite!"

During the first days of April the weather changed, the sky was covered without causing any rise in the temperature. The thermometrical decline was not affected, by a particular condition of the atmosphere, nor any more or less by the vapors with which it was saturated.

In fact, it was no more so in Gallia than in the polar countries of the globe, necessarily subjected to atmospheric influence, whose winters experience certain cessations from the effect of the winds which shift from one point of the compass to another. The cold of the new spheroid could not cause important variations in the thermometer. It was due wholly to the distance from the source of all light and all heat, and it would go on increasing until it reached the limit assigned by Fourier to the temperatures of space.

This was a veritable tempest which took place at this period, a tempest without rain or snow, but during which the wind was unchained with incomparable violence. In rushing across the sheet of fire which shut the outside of the bay of the common room, it produced the strangest effects. It was necessary to get severely out of the way of the lava which it drove inward. But there was no fear of putting it out. On the contrary, in saturating it with oxygen, this hurricane increased the incandescence as an immense ventilator would. Sometimes, so violent was the force, that the liquid curtain would burst for an instant and a current of cold air would penetrate the great room, but the rent would close at once, and this renewing of the interior air was rather an advantage than a detriment.

On the fourth of April, the moon, lately acquired, had commenced to disengage itself from the solar irradiation in the form of a growing stroke. She reappeared then, after an absence of eight days, which might have been foreseen from the observations already made of its revolution. The fears, more or less justified, that they had had of not seeing it again, were not realized, to the extreme satisfaction of Ben-Zouf, and the new satellite seemed decided to regularly make her bi-monthly journey around Gallia.

It will be remembered that, owing to the disappearance of all other cultivated ground, the birds carried off in the Gallian atmosphere had taken refuge in Gourbi Island. There the cultivated ground had amply sufficed for their nourishment during the fine weather, and it was by thousands that, coming from all points of the asteroid, they saw them alight on the island. But, with the arrival of the great cold, the fields had not lingered in dressing themselves in snow and the snow, soon transformed into compact ice, prevented the possibility of any beak, however solidly handled, to penetrate to the ground. From there, a general emigration of the birds, which, by instinct, threw themselves in a mass upon Hot-Land.

This continent, it is true, had no nourishment to offer them, but it was inhabited. Instead of fleeing the presence of man, the birds were eager to find him.

All the refuse thrown daily outside the galleries disappeared instantly, but it fell far short of feeding the thousands of birds of all species. Soon, driven as much by cold as by hunger, several hundred of them ventured into the narrow tunnel, and chose a domicile in the interior of Nina's Hive.

It became necessary to hunt them again, for the position was no longer tenable. This was a change in the daily occupations, and the sportsmen of the little colony did not stand still. The number of the birds was so large that it was soon like an invasion. They were so hungry-, and consequently so rapacious, that they carried off scraps of meat or crumbs of bread even out of the hands of the companions in the large room. They pursued them with sticks, stones and even guns. But it was not until after a series of exciting fights that they succeeded in partly relieving themselves of these unwelcome visitors, after several pairs had been preserved so as to renew the species.

Ben-Zouf was the great orderer of these hunts. How he rushed around! How he cried out! With what soldierly invectives he overwhelmed the unhappy birds! How they eat them for several days, those which were distinguished for their eatable qualities, such as wild-ducks, partridges, woodcock, snipe, etc.! It is even to be supposed that the hunters killed them with a marked preference!

At length order commenced to be re-established in Nina's Hive. They no longer counted in all but a hundred intruders, who nestled in the holes of the rock, and were not easily dislodged. Then it happened that these intruders finished by considering themselves tenants of the place, and they let no other bird in there. It was then like a truce between parties who struggled for the independence of their domicile, and by tacit agreement, they let the stubborn birds act as police to the habitation. And how they did it! The unhappy bird wandering in the gallery, without right or privilege, was quickly chased or killed by these merciless congeners.

One day, the fifteenth of April, cries echoed near the opening of the principal gallery. It was Nina who called for help.

Pablo recognized her voice, and getting ahead of Ben-Zouf he ran in haste to the aid of his little friend.

"Come! Come!" cried Nina," they want to kill it. "Pablo, rushing forward, perceived half-a-dozen large gulls which were struggling with the little girl. Armed with a stick he threw himself into the melee and succeeded in chasing away the rapacious sea birds, not without receiving some good pecks.

"What is the matter, Nina?" he asked.

"See, Pablo!" replied the little girl, showing a bird which she pressed to her heart.

Ben-Zouf, arriving at this moment, took the bird from the little girl's hands, and cried:

"It is a pigeon!"

It was, in fact, a pigeon, and even a specimen of a kind of carrier-pigeon, for it had wings lightly hollowed out and clipped at the extremities.

"Ah!" suddenly cried Ben-Zouf. "By all the saints of Montmartre, it has a bag at its neck!"

A few minutes afterward, the pigeon was in Captain Servadac's hands, and his companions gathering around him in the great room, eagerly looked at it.

"Here is news from our savant just arrived!" cried Captain Servadac. "The sea no longer open, he employs birds to carry his letters! Ah! perhaps this time he has given his name, and, above all, his address!"

The little bag had been partially torn during the struggle between pigeon and the sea-gulls. It was opened, and in it they found a short notice, laconically worded, as follows:

"Path traversed from March 1st to April 1st, 39,700,000!!
"Distance from the sun, 110,000,000!!
"Captured Nerina in passing.
"Provisions are failing,  and——"

The remainder of the dispatch, torn by the pecks of the gulls, was no longer legible.

"Ah! cursed misfortune!" cried Captain Servadac. "The signature was evidently there, and the date, and the place of origin of the notice! It is all in French this time, and it is undoubtedly a Frenchman who wrote it! And not to be able to help the unfortunate one!"

Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope returned toward the scene of the battle, hoping to find on some torn shred a name a signature, an indication which might put them on the track! Their search was in vain.

"Shall we then never know where to find this last survivor of the earth?" cried Captain Servadac.

"Ah!" suddenly said little Nina. "My friend Zof, look here!"

And, while speaking, she showed to Ben-Zouf the pigeon, which she had carefully held in her hands.

On the left wing of the bird they distinguished very clearly the impression of a moist stamp, and this stamp bore in the exergue this one word, which told what was most important to know:




"Formentera!" exclaimed Count Timascheff and Captain Servadac, almost at the same time.

This name was that of a little island of the Balearic Group, situated in the Mediterranean. It indicated in a precise manner the point then occupied by the author of the documents. But what was this Frenchman doing there, and, if he was there, was he still living?

It was evidently from Formentera also, that this savant had sent forth the different notices, in which he indicated the successive positions of this fragment of the terrestrial globe which he named Gallia. At any rate, the document, brought by the pigeon, proved that at the date of April 1st, say fifteen days before, he was still at his post. But, between this dispatch and the previous documents, there was this important difference, it lacked all indication of satisfaction. No more. "Va bene", "all right", "Nil desperandum!" Besides, the dispatch written entirely in French, contained a supreme appeal, because provisions were failing in Formentera.

These observations were made in a few words by Captain Servadac. Then: "My friends," added he, "we are going at once to help this unfortunate—"

"Or these unfortunate ones," added Count Timascheff. "Captain, I am ready to set out with you."

"It is evident, then," said Lieutenant Procope, "that the 'Dobryna' has passed near Formentera, when we explored the site of the old Baleares. If, then we did not discover any land, it is because, as at Gibraltar and as at Ceuta, only a narrow islet remains of all that archipelago."

"No matter how small it may be, this islet, we shall find it again!" replied Captain Servadac. "Lieutenant Procope, what distance separates Hot-Land from Formentera?"

"About one hundred and twenty leagues, captain. Shall I ask you how you intend to make this journey?"

"On foot, evidently," replied Hector Servadac, "because the sea is no longer open; but on our skates! Will we not, Count Timascheff?"

"Let us start, captain," said the count, whom questions of humanity never found either indifferent or irresolute.

"Father," said Lieutenant Procope, quickly, "I wish to make an observation to you, not to prevent you from accomplishing a duty, but, on the contrary, to put you in the way of accomplishing it more surely."

"Speak, Procope."

"Captain Servadac and you, you are going to set out. Now the cold has become excessive; the thermometer is twenty-two degrees below zero, and there prevails a violent wind from the south which renders this temperature unbearable. Admitting that you could make twenty leagues a day, you will need six days to reach Formentera. Besides, provisions are necessary, not only for you, but for him or them whom you are going to rescue."

"We shall o with our knapsacks on our backs, like two soldiers," replied Captain Servadac, quickly. He only wished to see the difficulties, not the impossibilities, of such a voyage.

"Well," replied Lieutenant Procope, coldly; "but it will be necessary to rest several times on the way. Now the field or ice is smooth, and you will not have the resource of being able to cut out a hut in a piece of ice, as the Esquimaux do."

"We shall run day and night, Lieutenant Procope" replied Hector Servadac, "and, instead of sixty days we shall take only three, only two, to reach Formentera."

"Even so, Captain Servadac. Admit that you should arrive with this delay of two days—which is materially impossible. What will you do with those whom you will find on the island, dying from cold and hunger? If you carry them away dying, with you, they will be dead people whom you will bring back to Hot-Land!"

Lieutenant Procope's words produced a deep impression. The impossibilities of a journey made under such conditions appeared clear to the eyes of all. It was evident that Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff, without shelter on this immense ice-field, in the event of a driving snow-storm, which would envelope them in its drifts, would fall never to rise again.

Hector Servadac, affected by an ardent sentiment of generosity by the thought of the duty to accomplish, wished to resist the evidence. He was obstinate against the cool judgment of Lieutenant Procope. On the other hand, his faithful Ben-Zouf was not disinclined to sustain him, declaring himself ready to sign his way bill with that of his captain's, if Count Timascheff hesitated to set out.

"Well, count?" demanded Hector Servadac.

"I shall do whatever you will do, captain."

"We cannot leave our fellow-beings without food, perhaps without shelter!"

"We cannot do it," replied Count Timascheff.

Then turning towards Procope:

"If there is no other way of reaching Formentera than that which you reject," he said, "we shall take it, Procope, and God will come to our assistance!"

Absorbed in thought, the lieutenant did not reply to Count Timascheff.

"Ah! if we only had a sledge!" cried Ben-Zouf.

"A sledge would be easy to make," replied Count Timascheff "but where could we find dogs or reindeer to draw it?"

"Have we not our two horses, which we could rough-shoe!" cried Ben-Zouf.

"They could not support this excessive temperature, and they would fall on the way," replied the count.

"Never mind, then," said Captain Servadac. "We cannot hesitate. Let us make the sledge—"

"It is made," said Lieutenant Procope.

"Well, let us put the horses to—"

"No, captain. We have a motive power more sure and more rapid than your two horses which would not bear the fatigue of this journey."

"And it is—?" demanded Count Timascheff.

"The wind," replied Lieutenant Procope. "The wind, in fact! The Americans know how to utilize it marvelously for their wind-sledges. These sledges now rival the railroad express trains on the vast prairies of the Union, and have attained a speed of fifty metres a second, say one hundred and eighty kilometres an hour. Now the wind, at this moment, was blowing with violence from the south. It could then impart to this kind of vehicle a speed of from twelve to fifteen leagues an hour. It then was possible, between two risings of the sun on the horizon of Gallia, to reach the Balearic Isles, or, at least, the only islet of the archipelago which had been spared in the immense disaster."

The motive power was ready to act. Well. But Procope had added that the sledge was also ready to depart. In fact, the you-you of the "Dobryna," a dozen feet long, and capable of holding five or six persons, was it not a sledge already made? Was it not sufficient to add to it two false keels in iron, which, sustaining its sides, would form two skates on which it would glide? And what time would the engineer of the schooner require to adjust these two keels? A few hours at the most. Then, on this ice-field, so perfectly level, without an obstacle, without a protuberance, without even a fret, the light boat, propelled by its sail, and running with the wind behind, would it not glide along with incomparable swiftness? Moreover, this you-you could be covered with a sort of plank roof, covered with strong canvas. Thus it would shelter those who managed it in going and those whom it would bring back on the return. Provided with furs, with different kinds of provisions, with cordials, with a little portable stove, heated by spirits of wine, it would be in the most favorable condition to reach the isle and bring back the survivors of the "Formentera."

One could not imagine anything better or more practical. There was a single objection to be made.

The wind was right for steering to the north but when it should be necessary to return to the south—

"Never mind," cried Captain Servadac, "let us think only of arriving! Then we shall dream of returning!" Besides, this you-you, if it could not at the best run almost as a boat sustained against the drift by its helm, would succeed perhaps in doubling with the wind in a certain measure. Its iron keels, biting the frozen surface, ought at least to assure it the starboard tack. It was, then, possible, if the wind did not change on the return, for it to tack about, so to say, and make for the south. That, they would ascertain later.

The engineer of the "Dobryna," assisted by some sailors, went to work at once. Toward the end of the day, the you-you provided with a double tressing of iron, rounded in front, protected by a light roof in the form of a canopy, furnished with a kind of metallic scull which could sustain it ever so little against lurches, supplied with provisions, utensils and wraps, was ready to depart.

But, then, Lieutenant Procope asked to take Count Timascheff's place with Captain Servadac. For one reason, the you-you ought not to take more than two passengers, in case it should have to bring back several passengers; and, besides, the management of the sail, as well as the direction to follow, required the hand and the knowledge of a sailor.

Meanwhile, Count Timascheff insisted, but Captain Servadac having urgently begged him to take his place with his companions, he had to yield. The voyage was full of perils, in fact. The passengers of the you-you wore going to be exposed to a thousand dangers. The fragile vehicle could not resist a rather violent tempest, and if Captain Servadac should not return Count Timascheff alone could be the natural head of the little colony. So he consented to remain.

As to giving up his place, Captain Servadac would not be willing. It was, without doubt, a Frenchman who called for succor and assistance—it was then for him, a French officer, to assist him and to succor him.

April 16th, at sunrise, Captain Servadac and Lieutenant Procope embarked in the you-you. They said farewell to their companions, whose emotion was great at seeing them set forth on the immense white plain, in cold, which exceeded twenty-five degrees centigrade. Ben-Zouf's heart was full. The Russian sailors and the Spaniards all wished to shake hands with the captain and the lieutenant. Count Timascheff pressed the courageous officer against his breast, and embraced his faithful Procope. A hearty kiss from little Nina, whose large eyes were full of great tears, ended this touching farewell scene. Then with its sail set, the you-you, carried off as by an immense wing disappeared in a few minutes behind the horizon.

The sails of the you-you consisted of a brigantine-sail and a jib. The latter was laid across in such a manner as to draw wind behind. The speed of the light vehicle was thus excessive, and its passengers did not estimate it at less than twelve leagues an hour.

An opening arranged in the back of the roof permitted Lieutenant Procope to put out his well-cowled head, without exposing himself too much to the cold; and, by means of the compass, he could steer in a straight line to Formentera.

The movement of the you-you was extremely easy. It did not even experience that disagreeable shaking, from which trains are not exempt on the best laid railroads. Less heavy on the surface of Gallia than it would have been on the surface of the earth, it glided without feeling either rolling or pitching, and ten times faster than it had ever done in its natural element. Captain Servadac and Lieutenant Procope believed themselves at times carried in the air, as if an air-balloon had taken them above the ice-field. But they did not leave this field of ice, of which the upper layer was pulverized under the metallic tressing of the you-you, and they left behind them quite a cloud of snowy dust. It was then easy to discover that the appearance of this frozen sea was everywhere the same. Not a living creature animated the vast solitude. The effect was particularly sad. Meanwhile, it gave rise to a kind of poetry which impressed the two traveling companions, each according to his character. Lieutenant Procope observed as a savant, Captain Servadac as an artist, open to every new emotion. When the sun was setting, when its rays, obliquely striking the you-you, cast on its left the great shadow of its sails when, finally, night had suddenly replaced the day, they drew near each other, moved by an involuntary attraction, and their hands were silently clasped.

The night was quite dark, for the moon was new the night before, but the constellations glittered with an admirable brilliancy on the darkened sky. In default of the compass, Lieutenant Procope would certainly have been able to guide himself by the new pole-star which shone near the horizon. They well understood that, whatever was the distance which actually separated Gallia from the sun, this distance was absolutely insignificant in comparison with the incommensurable remoteness of the stars.

As to this distance of Gallia, it was already considerable. The last notice established it clearly. That is what Lieutenant Procope was thinking of while Captain Servadac, following another line of thought, only dreamed of the one or of the several of his countrymen to whom he was carrying aid.

The velocity of Gallia in its orbit had diminished twenty millions of leagues from March first to April first, according to the second law of Kepler. At the same time, its distance from the sun had increased thirty-two millions of leagues. It was then nearly in the middle of the zone traversed by the telescopic planets which revolve between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This is what proved, besides, the capture of this satellite which, according to the notice, was Nerina, one of the last asteroids recently discovered. Thus, then, Gallia was always receding from its center of attraction, following a perfectly regular law. Now could they not hope that the author of the documents would succeed in calculating this orbit and in finding mathematically the period in which Gallia would be at its aphelion, if all this time it was following an elliptical orbit. That point would then mark its greatest distance, and, counting from that instant, it would tend to approach the radiant star. They would then know exactly the length of the solar year, and the number of Gallian days.

Lieutenant Procope was reflecting on all these disturbing problems when the return of day overtook him suddenly. Captain Servadac and he then took counsel together. After a calculation, estimating at a hundred leagues, at least, the route they had traversed in a straight line since their departure, they resolved to diminish the speed of the you-you. The sails were then partly taken in, and in spite of the excessive cold, the two explorers examined the white plain with the most scrupulous attention.

It was absolutely a desert. Not even an elevation of rocks varied the superb uniformity of it.

"Are we not a little too far west of Formentera?" said Captain Servadac, after having consulted the chart.

"That is probable," replied Lieutenant Procope "for, as I would do at sea, I have held to the windward of the island. Now, we have only to bear off."

"Do so, then, lieutenant," replied Captain Servadac, "and let us not lose an instant!"

The you-you was turned so as to head toward the northeast. Hector Servadac, braving the sharp wind, stood in front. All the strength he had was concentrated in his look. He did not seek to perceive in the air a smoke which might betray the retreat of the savant, for which, very likely, combustible was lacking, like the provisions. No! It was the summit of some islet emerging from the ice-field which he endeavored to discover on the line of the horizon.

Suddenly Captain Servadac's eyes brightened, and his hand was stretched out toward a point of space.

"There! there!" cried he; and he pointed out a sort of timber-work construction which made a projecture on the circular line traced between the sky and the field of ice.

Lieutenant Procope had seized his telescope.

"Yes!" replied he, "there! there!—It us a pylone which served for some geodetic operation!"

Doubt was no longer possible! The sail was let out, and the you-you, which was not more than six kilometers from the point discovered, went off with prodigious speed.

Captain Servadac and Lieutenant Procope, overcome by emotion, could not utter a single word. The pylone grew rapidly larger before their eyes and soon they saw a pile of low rocks, over which this pylone towered, and the agglomeration of which made a spot on the white carpet of the ice-field.

As Captain Servadac had foreseen, no smoke arose from the islet. Now, in this intense cold, they could no longer delude themselves. It was, no doubt, a tomb toward which the you-you was running under full sail. Ten minutes after, about a kilometer before arriving, Lieutenant Procope took in his brigantine sails, for the impetus of the you-you ought to be sufficient to carry it as far as the rocks.

Then a still stronger emotion oppressed Captain Servadac.

At the top of the pylone, the wind was twisting a strip of blue bunting. It was all that was left of the flag of France!

The you-you struck against the first rocks. The islet was not a half a kilometer in circumference. Of Formentera, of the Balearic Archipelago, there remained no other vestiges.

At the foot of the pylone stood a miserable wooden cabin, of which the shutters were hermetically closed.

As quick as lightning Captain Servadac and Lieutenant Procope sprang upon the rocks, scaled the slippery stones, and reached the cabin.

Hector Servadac knocked at the door of the cabin, which was fastened inside.

He called. No reply.

"With me, lieutenant!" said Captain Servadac. And both, pressing forcibly with their shoulders, burst open the half worm-eaten door.

In the only room of the cabin there was total darkness, absolute silence.

Now the last inhabitant of this room had left it, or he was there, but dead.

The shutters were thrown open, and the daylight came in.

In the cold fire-place of the chimney there was nothing except the ashes of an extinguished fire.

In a corner, a bed. On this bed lay a body.

Captain Servadac drew near, and a cry escaped from his breast.

"Dead from cold! Dead from hunger!" Lieutenant Procope leaned over the unfortunate man's body.

"He lives!" cried he.

And opening a flask filled with a strong cordial, he poured a few drops between the lips of the dying man.

A faint sigh was heard, and it was almost immediately followed by these few words, uttered with a feeble voice:


"Yes! yes! Gallia!" replied Captain Servadac, "and it is—"

"It is my comet, mine, my comet!"

Then, having pronounced these words, the dying man relapsed into a deep torpor, while Captain Servadac said:

"But I know this savant. Where, then, have I met him before?"

To care for him, to save him from death, in this cabin, where every resource was wanting, could not be thought of. The decision of Hector Servadac and Lieutenant Procope was quickly made. In a few mo merits the dying man, his few philosophical and astronomical instruments, his clothes, his papers, his books, and an old door which served him as a blackboard for his calculations, had been transported to the you-you.

The wind, which had happily changed three points was almost favorable. They profited by it; they set sail, and the only rock which remained of the Balearic Isles was abandoned.

April 19th, thirty-six hours after, without the savant having opened his eyes or said a word, he was laid in the large room of Nina-Hive, and the colonists received with hurrahs the two brave companions for whose return they had waited so impatiently.

End of the First Part




The thirty-sixth inhabitant of Gallia had at last just appeared on Hot-Land. The only words almost incomprehensible, which he had yet uttered, were these:

"It is my comet, mine! It is my comet!"

What did this reply signify? Did he wish to say that this event, till now inexplicable, the projection into space of an enormous fragment detached from the earth was due to the shock of a comet? Had this collision taken place then in the terrestrial orbit? This name of Gallia, to which of the two asteroids had the recluse of Formentera given it? To tile hairy star, or to the block sent forth through the solar system? This question could only be decided by the savant who had just so energetically claimed "his comet!"

At all events, this dying man was unquestionably the author of the notices received during the "Dobryna's" voyage of exploration, the astronomer who had written the document brought to Hot-Land by the carrier pigeon. He alone had been able to cast cases and kegs on the sea, and to give liberty to this bird, whose instinct would direct it toward the only habitable and inhabited territory of the new star. This savant—he was such without doubt—knew then some of the elements of Gallia. He had been able to measure its progressive distance from the sun, to calculate the diminution of its tangential velocity. But—and it was the most important question—had he calculated the nature of its orbit, and discovered if it was a hyperbola, a parabola, or an ellipse, which Gallia was following? Had he determined this curve by the successive observations of three positions of Gallia? Finally, did he know if the new star was in the requisite condition to return to the earth, and in what lapse of time it would return?

These are the questions that Count Timascheff first addressed to himself, and afterwards put before Captain Servadac and Lieutenant Procope. These could not answer him. These different hypotheses; they had looked at them, had discussed them during their return voyage but without reaching a conclusion. And, unhappily, the only man who might probably possess the solution of this problem, it was to be feared that they had brought him back only as a corpse! If it was so, they must renounce all hope of ever knowing the future reserved for the Gallian world.

It was necessary then, in the first place, to revive this astronomer's body, which no longer gave any sign of life. The "Dobryna's" medicine-chest, well provided with drugs, could not be better utilized than in obtaining this important result. It is what was immediately done, after this encouraging observation from Ben-Zouf: "To work, my Captain! We do not calculate how these savants cling to life."

They then commenced to treat the dying man outwardly, with shampooings so vigorous that they might have injured the living and inwardly, with cordials so reviving that they would have resuscitated the dead.

It was Ben-Zouf, relieved by Negrete, who had charge of the exterior, and it may be believed that these two strong shampooers performed their task conscientiously.

During this time Hector Servadac vainly asked himself who was this Frenchman whom he had just picked up at the Islet of Formentera, and under what circumstances he had had intercourse with him.

Meanwhile, he had a good right to recognize him, but he had seen him only at that age which is called, not without reason, the ungrateful age, for it is so in the moral world as well as in the physical.

In fact, the savant who now reposed in the large room of Nina-Hive, was neither more nor less than Hector Servadac's old professor of physics in the Charlemagne College.

This professor was named Palmyrin Rosette. He was a true savant, very learned in all mathematical sciences. After his first year of elementary studies, Hector Servadac had left Charlemagne College to enter Saint-Cyr and since then his professor and he, never having met again, had forgotten each other, or rather had believed they had forgotten each other.

The pupil Servadac, as is known, had never shown much taste for academic studies. But, in return, how many bad tricks he had played on this unhappy Palmyrin Rosette, in company with some other wild ones of his stamp.

Who added a few grains of salt to the distilled water from the laboratory which caused chemical reactions the most unexpected? Who took a drop of mercury from the cistern of the barometer, in order to put it in flagrant contradiction with the state of the atmosphere? Who warmed the thermometer a few seconds before the professor came to consult it? Who introduced living insects between the eye-glass and the object glass of the telescope? Who destroyed the insulation of the electrical machine, so that it could not produce a single spark? Finally, who pierced with an invisible hole the plate which held the receiver of the pneumatic machine, so that Palmyrin Rosette exhausted himself in pumping out air which was always coming in?

These were the most ordinary misdeeds of the pupil Servadac and of his very mirthful band.

And these bad tricks had the more charm for the pupils, because the professor in question was a man of most violent temper. Hence, red heats and paroxysms of rage, which put the great people of Charlemagne in a good humor.

Two years after the period when Hector Servadac left the college, Palmyrin Rosette who felt himself more a cosmographer than a natural philosopher had abandoned the career of an instructor to devote himself specially to astronomical studies. He tried to enter the Observatory. But his impatient character, so well known in the learned world, caused its doors to be firmly closed against him. As he possessed some means, he devoted himself to astronomy for his own benefit without official title, and he took great delight in criticising the systems of other astronomers. Besides, it was to him that the world owes the discovery of three of the last telescopic planets, and the calculation of the elements of the three hundred and twenty-fifth comet of the catalogue. But, as has been said, Professor Rosette and pupil Servadac had never found themselves in each other's presence before this fortuitous meeting on the Islet of Formentera. Now, after a dozen years, it was nothing very astonishing that Captain Servadac would not recognize, especially in the state in which he was, his old professor, Palmyrin Rosette.

When Ben-Zouf and Negrete had stripped the savant of the furs which enveloped him from head to foot, they found a small man of five feet two inches, without doubt fallen away, but naturally thin, very bald, with one of those fine polished skulls which resemble the large end of an ostrich's egg, no beard, except hair which had not been shaved off for a week, a nose long, sharp, and hooked, serving as a support for a pair of those formidable glasses which, with some near sighted people, seem to make an integral part of their individuality.

This little man ought to be extraordinarily nervous. One might compare him to one of those Rhumkorff Coils, of which the rolled-up wire might be a nerve several hectometers long, and in which the nervous current had replaced the electric current with an intensity not less great. In a word, in the "Rosette Coil" the "nervosity "—if we may accept for a moment this barbarous word—was stored up at a very high tension, as electricity is in the Rhumkorff Coil.

Meanwhile, nervous as the professor was, it was no reason for letting him go from life to death. In a world which counted only thirty-five inhabitants the life of the thirty-sixth was not to be despised. When the dying man was partly undressed, they could state that his heart was still beating, feebly, but still it was beating. It was then possible that he might regain his consciousness, thanks to the vigorous cares that they lavished upon him. Ben-Zouf rubbed and re-rubbed this body, dry as an old vine branch, till there was a chance that it might take fire and as he might polish his broad sword for a parade, he murmured this so well known refrain:

"To Tripoli, son of glory, Thou owest the brightness of thy steel."

Finally, after twenty minutes' uninterrupted shampooing, a sigh escaped from the lips of the dying man then two, then three. His mouth, hermetically closed till then, opened. His eyes partly opened, closed again, and opened fully, but unconscious still of the place and of the circumstance where he saw himself. A few words were pronounced, which they could not understand. Palmyrin Rosette's right hand was stretched out, was raised and carried to his forehead as if it sought an object which was no longer there. Afterwards, then, his features were contracted, his face reddened as if he was restored to life by a paroxysm of anger, and he cried:

"My glasses! Where are my glasses?"

Ben-Zouf looked for the glasses called for. He found them. These monumental glasses were armed with veritable eye-glasses from telescopes by way of glasses.

During the shampooing they were detached from those temples to which they seemed screwed, as if a rod had crossed the professor's head from one ear to the other. They were readjusted on this nose like an eagle's beak, their natural stratum, and then a new sigh was heaved, which was ended by a "brum! brum!" of good augury.

Captain Servadac was leaning over Palmyrin Rosette, whom he was watching with extreme attention. At this moment the professor opened his eves, wide open this time. A sharp look pierced the thick lens of his glasses and in a voice full of irritation:

"Pupil Servadac," cried he, "five hundred lines for to-morrow!"

Such were the words with which Palmyrin Rosette saluted Captain Servadac.

But, by this odd entrance into conversation, evidently provoked by the sudden remembrance of old grudges, Hector Servadac, although he really believed he was dreaming, had, himself also, recognized his old professor of physics in Charlemagne College.

"Mr. Palmyrin Rosette!" exclaimed he. "My old professor here also! In flesh and in bone!"

"In bone only," replied Ben-Zouf.

"Zounds! the meeting is singular!" added Captain Servadac, stupefied.

Meanwhile, Palmyrin Rosette had relapsed into a kind of sleep which it seemed proper to respect.

"Be quiet, captain," said Ben-Zouf. "He will live, I warrant it. Those small men, they are all nerves. I have seen dryer than he, and who were brought from a great distance!"

"And whence were they brought, Ben-Zouf?"

"From Egypt, captain, in a beautiful painted box!"

"Those were mummies, idiot!"

"As you say, captain!"

However that may be, the professor being asleep, they carried him to a very warm bed, and they were forced to put off till his awakening the urgent questions relating to his comet.

During all this day Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, Lieutenant Procope, who represented the Academy of Sciences in the little colony, instead of waiting patiently till the morrow, could not restrain themselves from making a great display of this most improbable hypothesis. What was in reality this comet to which Palmyrin Rosette had given the name of Gallia? Did not this name apply then to the fragment detached from the globe? The calculations of distances and velocities, stated in the notices, did they refer to the comet Gallia, and not to the new spheroid which was carrying Captain Servadac and his thirty-five companions through space? They then were no longer Gallians, these survivors of terrestrial humanity.

There was room for all these questions. Now, if it were thus, it was the breaking down of all that collection of laborious deductions, which resulted in the projection of a spheroid, torn from the very bowels of the earth, and agreed with the new cosmical phenomena.

"Well," cried Hector Servadac, "Professor Rosette is there to tell us all about it, and he will tell us about it!"

Having occasion to speak of Palmyrin Rosette, Captain Servadac made him known to his companions, such as he was, a man difficult to live with, and with whom intercourse was generally stiff. He represented him to them as an original, absolutely incorrigible, very obstinate, very passionate, but a rather good man at the bottom. The best way would be to let his bad humor pass, as one lets a storm pass while putting himself under shelter.

When Captain Servadac had finished this little biographical digression, Count Timascheff took up the conversation, and said:

"Be assured, captain, that we will do all we can to live on good terms with Professor Palmyrin Rosette. I believe, besides, that he will render us a great service in communicating to us the result of his observations. But he can only do it on one condition."

"Which?" demanded Hector Servadac.

"It is," replied Count Timascheff, "that he is indeed the author of the documents which we have received."

"Do you doubt it?"

"No, captain. All the probabilities would be against me, and I have only spoken thus to exhaust the series of unfavorable hypotheses."

"Ah! who then would have written out these different notices, if not my old professor?" observed Captain Servadac.

"Perhaps some other astronomer, abandoned on another point of the old earth."

"That cannot be," replied Lieutenant Procope, "because the documents alone have made known to us this name of Gallia, and this name has been pronounced the first thing by Professor Rosette."

To this very just observation there was nothing to be said, and it was not to be doubted that the recluse of Formentera was the author of the notices. As to what he was doing on that island, they would learn it from his own mouth.

Moreover, not only his door, but also his papers had been brought with him, and there was nothing indiscreet in consulting them during his sleep. This is what was done.

The writing and figures were indeed from the hand who had drawn up the documents. The door was still covered with algebraic signs, drawn with chalk, of which they had taken great care. As to his papers, they consisted principally of loose leaves, striped with geometrical figures. There hyperbolas crossed each other, those open curves of which the two branches are infinite and deviate more and more one from the other—some parabolas, curves characterized by the re-entering form, but of which the branches also depart from each other to infinitude; finally ellipses curves always closed, no matter hew elongated they may be.

Lieutenant Procope then observed that these different curves referred precisely to the orbits of comets, which may be parabolic, hyperbolic, or elliptical—which signified, in the two first cases, that the comets, observed from the earth, could never reappear on the terrestrial horizon; in the third, that they would reappear periodically in lapses of time more or less considerable.

It was then certain, by the inspection alone of his papers and his door, that the professor had devoted himself to calculations of the elements of comets; but they could prejudge nothing from the different curves, successively studied by him, for, to commence their calculations, astronomers always assign to comets a parabolic orbit.

Finally, from all this, it was decided that Palmyrin Rosette, during his sojourn on Formentera, had calculated, wholly or in part, the elements of a new comet, of which the name did not figure in the catalogue.

This calculation, had he made it before or since the cataclysm of January 1st? They would only learn it from him.

"Let us wait," said Count Timascheff.

"I am waiting, but I am burning!" replied Captain Servadac, who could not keep quiet. "I would give a month of my life for each hour of Professor Rosette's sleep."

"Perhaps you would make a bad exchange, captain," then said Lieutenant Procope.

"What! so as to learn what is the future reserved for our asteroid?"

"I would not dispel any illusion, captain," replied Lieutenant Procope; "but, from what the professor knows so long about the comet Gallia, it does not follow that he can teach us about this fragment, which is carrying us away. Is there even any connection between the appearance of the comet on the terrestrial horizon and the projection into space of a piece of the globe?"

"Yes! zounds!" exclaimed Captain Servadac; "there evidently is a connection. It is clear as day that—"

"That—?" said Count Timascheff, as if he were waiting for the response his interlocutor was going to make.

"That the earth has been struck by a comet, and that it is to this collision that the projection of the block which carries us is due!"

On this hypothesis, affirmatively expressed by Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope looked at each other for a few moments. Improbable as was the collision between the earth and a comet, it was not impossible. A shock of this nature—it was the explanation given at last to the inexplicable phenomenon: it was that unfindable cause, of which the effects had been so extraordinary.

"You may be right, captain," replied Lieutenant Procope, after having considered the question under this new aspect. "It is not inadmissible that such a collision might take place, and that it might detach a considerable fragment of the earth. If this event has taken place, the enormous disc which we perceived in the night, after the catastrophe, would be no other than the comet, which was drawn, no doubt, from its normal orbit, but whose velocity was such that the earth could not retain it in her center of attraction."

"It is the only explanation that we have to give of the presence of this unknown star," replied Captain Servadac.

"That is a new hypothesis, which seems very plausible," then said Count Timascheff. "It makes our own observations agree with those of Professor Rosette. Thence it would be to that wandering star, with which we have sustained the collision, that he would have given the name of Gallia."

"Evidently Count Timascheff."

"Very good, captain, but there is still one thing which I do not understand."


"It is that this savant should be more occupied with the comet than with the block which was carrying him away into space!"

"Ah! Count Timascheff," replied Captain Servadac, "you know what originals these fanatics of science sometimes are, and I give you mine for a remarkable original!"

"Besides," observed Lieutenant Procope, "it is very possible that the calculation of the elements of Gallia might have been made anterior to the collision. The professor was able to see the comet coming, and to observe it before the catastrophe."

Lieutenant Procope's remark was wise. However that might be, the captain's hypothesis was adopted on principle. The conclusion reached was this: a comet, cutting the ecliptic, had struck the earth during the night of the thirty-first of December and the first of January, and the collision would separate from the terrestrial globe an enormous fragment, which, since then, was gravitating in the interplanetary spaces.

If the members of Gallia's Academy of Sciences did not yet grasp the entire truth, they ought to be very near it.

Palmyrin Rosette alone could quite elucidate the problem!



Thus ended the day of the nineteenth of April. While their chiefs discoursed on the absorbing topic, the colonists attended to their customary duties. The unexpected introduction of the professor on the Gallian scene did not at all interest them. The Spaniards, careless by nature, the Russians, confident in their master, troubled themselves but little with causes and effects. Whether Gallia would return some day to the earth, or whether they would live there, that is to say, die there, gave them little anxiety to ascertain! So, that night, they did not lose an hour's sleep, and they reposed like philosophers whom nothing can excite.

Ben-Zouf, metamorphosed into a hospital nurse, did not leave Professor Rosette's bedside. He made him his sole object. He had engaged to put him on his feet. His honor was at stake. So, how he nursed him! At the least opportunity, what powerful drops of cordial he administered to him! How he counted his gasps! How he waited for the words that escaped from his lips! Truth obliges us to• say that the name of Gallia was often repeated in Palmyrin Rosette's uneasy sleep, the intonations varying from anxiety to anger. Did the professor then dream that they wanted to rob him of his comet, that they contested with him the discovery of Gallia, that they tricked him as to the priority of his observations and his calculations? It was probable! Palmyrin Rosette was one of those men who rage even in sleep.

But attentive as was the nurse, he surprised nothing in these incoherent words of a nature to solve the great problem. On the other hand, the professor slept all night, and his breathing, light in the beginning, soon changed to loud snores, of the best augury.

When the sun rose on the western horizon of Gallia, Palmyrin Rosette still slept, and Ben-Zouf judged it best to respect his slumbers. Besides, at this moment, the orderly's attention was diverted by an incident.

Several knocks sounded on the large door which closed the principal gallery of Nina-Hive. This door served, not only to defend it against importunate visitors but also against the cold.

Ben-Zouf for a moment left the sick man; but, after reflecting, he said to himself that no doubt he had been mistaken. He was not the porter, after all, and besides there were others less occupied than he was to pull back the rope. So he did not move.

Everybody still slept profoundly in Nina-Hive. The sound was repeated. It was evidently produced by a living being, and by means of a blunt instrument.

"In the name of a Kabyle, it is too much noise!" said Ben-Zouf to himself. "There, what can it possibly be?"

And he went through the principal gallery.

Arrived near the door—

"Who is there?" asked he, with much emphasis, and in a voice not absolutely amiable.

"I," was the reply, in a sweet tone.

"Who are you?"

"Isaac Hakhabut."

"And what do you want, Astaroth?"

"That you open to me, Mr. Ben-Zouf."

"What do you want to do here? Sell your merchandise?"

"You know well that they do not want to pay me for it."

"Well go to the devil!"

"Mr. Ben-Zouf," replied Isaac, in an humble tone of supplication, "I want to speak to his excellency, the governor general."

"He is asleep."

"I will wait till he awakes."

"Well, wait where you are, Abinelech!"

Ben-Zouf was going away without further ceremony when there arrived Captain Servadac, whom the noise had awakened.

"Who is there, Ben-Zouf?"

"Nothing, or about that. It is that dog of a Hakhabut who wants to speak to you, my captain."

"Well, open," replied Hector Servadac. "We must know what brings him here to-day."

"His interest."

"Open, I tell you!"

Ben-Zouf obeyed. Isaac Hakhabut, enveloped in his old overcoat, rushed quickly into the gallery.

Captain Servadac returned to the central room, and Isaac followed him, going oil with the most honorable titles.

"What do you want'?" asked Captain Servadac, looking straight in Isaac Hakhabut's face.

"Ah, governor!" cried he, "have you not heard something new within a few hours?"

"It is news which you come to look for here?"

"Without doubt, governor; and I hope that you will tell me—"

"I will tell you nothing, Master Isaac, because I know nothing."

"Yet a new person arrived during yesterday at Hot-Land?"

"Ah! you know already."

"Yes, governor. From my poor tartan I saw the you-you depart on a great journey, then return! And it seemed to me that they landed with care—"


"Well, governor, is it not true that you have received a stranger?"

"Whom you are acquainted with?"

"Oh, I do not say that governor; but, only I should like—I should desire—"


"To speak to this stranger, for, perhaps, he comes from—?"


"From the northern shores of the Mediterranean And it is possible that he brings—"

"That he brings—"

"News from Europe!" said Isaac, throwing a searching glance at Captain Servadac.

So this obstinate man was on the same subject after a sojourn of three and a half months on Gallia! With his temperament it was certainly more difficult for him than for the others to morally disengage himself from the things of the earth, although he was so materially! If he had been forced to admit, to his great regret, the appearance of anomalous phenomena—the shortening of the days and the nights, the change of two cardinal points in regard to sunrise and sunset—all that, in his ideas, took place on the earth! This sea was always the Mediterranean. If a portion of Africa had certainly disappeared in some cataclysm, Europe still existed a few hundred leagues toward the north! Its inhabitants lived there as before, and he could still traffic, buy, sell—in a word, trade! The "Hansa" would coast along the European shore in default of the African shore, and, perhaps, would lose nothing by the change! For this reason Isaac Hakhabut had run at once to learn at Nina-Hive the news from Europe.

To try and disabuse Isaac, to confound his obstinacy, would be useless trouble. Captain Servadac did not even dream of attempting it; besides, he did not intend to renew relations with this renegade, who was repugnant to him, and at this request he contented himself with shrugging his shoulders.

A person who shrugged his still higher was Ben-Zouf. The orderly had heard the demand stated by Isaac, and he it was who replied to Isaac's entreaties, on whom Captain Servadac had turned his back.

"Then I am not mistaken?" went on the trader, whose eyes brightened. "A stranger has come here?"

"Yes," replied Ben-Zouf.


"We hope so."

"And may I know, Mr. Ben-Zouf, from what part of Europe this traveler comes?"

"From the Balearic Isles," replied Ben-Zouf who wished to see from where Isaac Hakhabut came.

"The Balearic Isles?" cried the latter. "A pretty spot in the Mediterranean for trading. What fine business transactions I have had there formerly! The 'Hansa' was well known in that archipelago."

"Too well known."

"But those islands are only twenty-five leagues from the coast of Spain, and it is impossible that this worthy traveler has not received and brought news from Europe."

"Yes, Manasseh, and he will give you what will please you."

"Truly, Mr. Ben-Zouf?"


"I would not mind," went on Isaac, hesitating—"no—certainly—although I am but a poor man—I would not mind a few reals to speak with him—"

"Yes; you would mind it."

"Yes; but I would give them all the same, on condition of speaking to him without delay."

"Look here!" replied Ben-Zouf; "unfortunately he's very tired, our traveler, and he sleeps."

"But when he wakes—"

"Hakhabut," said Captain Servadac, "if you think of awaking any one here, I will put you out of doors."

"Governor," replied he, in a very humble tone, supplicating, "I would like to know."

"And you shall know," replied Captain Servadac.

"I promise that you shall be present when our new Companion gives us news from Europe."

"And I also, Ezekiel," added Ben-Zouf, "for I want to see the jolly figure you will cut."

Isaac Hakhabut had not long to wait. At this moment Palmyrin Rosette called in an impatient voice. At this call all ran to the professor's bed; Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff Lieutenant Procope, and Ben-Zouf, whose strong hand had some trouble in holding back Hakhabut. The professor was but half awake, and, probably, under the influence of some dream. He cried out:

"Eh, Joseph! The devil carry away the animal! Are you coming, Joseph?"

Joseph had evidently been the servant of Palmyrin Rosette; but he could not come, for the reason, without doubt, that he still inhabited the old world. The collision with Gallia had resulted in separating suddenly and forever, without doubt, the master and the servant.

Meanwhile the professor gradually awoke, crying:

"Joseph! Satanic Joseph, where is my door?"

"Look," then said Ben-Zouf, "and your door is safe."

Palmyrin Rosette opened his eyes and looked fixedly at the orderly, wrinkling his brow.

"You are Joseph?" said he.

"At your service, Mr. Palmyrin," imperturbably replied Ben-Zouf.

"Well, Joseph," said the professor, "my coffee, and as quick as possible!"

"Coffee wanted," replied Ben-Zouf, running to the kitchen.

During this time Captain Servadac had helped Palmyrin Rosette to partly sit up.

"Dear professor, you have then recognized your old pupil at the Charlemagne," said he to him.

"Yes, Servadac, yes," replied Palmyrin Rosette. "I hope you have amended during these twelve years."

"Entirely amended," said Captain Servadac, laughing.

"That is right," said Palmyrin Rosette. "But my coffee! Without coffee no clear ideas, and clear ideas are necessary to-day."

Fortunately Ben-Zouf arrived, carrying the beverage in question—an enormous cup of black coffee, very hot.

The cup emptied, Palmyrin Rosette rose, left his bed, entered the common room, looked about him in an absent manner, and finally seated himself in an arm-chair—the best of those which had furnished the "Dobryna." Then, although his look was still stern, the professor, in a satisfied tone, which recalled the "all right," the "va bene", the "nil desperandum", of the notices, began the subject with these words:

"Well, gentlemen, what do you say of Gallia?"

Captain Servadac, above all things was going to ask what Gallia really was, when Isaac Hakhabut got before him.

At the sight of Isaac the professor frowned again, and in the voice of a man not properly respected:

"What is that?" cried he, pushing Hakhabut aside.

"Pay no attention to him," said Ben-Zouf.

But it was not easy to hold back Isaac, nor to prevent him from speaking. He returned obstinately to the charge, without the least regard for the persons present.

"Sir," said he, "in the name of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, give us some news from Europe."

Palmyrin Rosette bounded from his chair as if moved by a spring.

"News from Europe!" cried he. "He wants news from Europe!"

"Yes, yes," replied Isaac, laying hold of the professor's arm-chair, the better to resist Ben-Zouf's pushes.

"And what to do?" said Palmyrin Rosette.

"To return there!"

"Return there! What date is to-day?" asked the professor, turning toward his old pupil.

"The twentieth of April," said Captain Servadac.

"Well, to-day the twentieth of April," said Palmyrin Rosette, with a beaming countenance, "to-day, Europe is one hundred and twenty-three millions of leagues from us!"

Isaac Hakhabut let go like a man whose heart had been torn out.

"Ah! well!" said Palmyrin Rosette, "then they know nothing here."

"This is what we know," replied Captain Servadac.

And, in a few words, he put the professor in possession of the situation. He recounted all that had taken place since the night of December 31st: how the "Dobryna" had undertaken a voyage of exploration; how she had discovered what remained of the old continent, that is to say, several points of Tunis, Sardinia, Gibraltar, and Formentera; how at three different times, anonymous documents had fallen into the hands of the explorers; how, finally, the Gourbi Island had been abandoned for Hot-Land, and the old post for Niva-Hive.

Palmyrin Rosette had listened to this recital, but not without showing signs of impatience. When Captain Servadac had finished:

"Gentlemen," said he, "where do you think we are at this moment?"

"On a new asteroid which gravitates in the solar system," replied Captain Servadac.

"And, according to you, this new asteroid would be—"

"An enormous fragment, torn from the terrestrial globe."

"Torn! Ah! indeed, torn! A fragment of the terrestrial globe! And by whom, by what torn?"

"By a collision with a comet, to which you have given the name of Gallia, dear professor."

"Well, no, gentlemen," said Palmyrin Rosette, rising. "It is better than that!"

"Better than that!" quickly replied Lieutenant Procope.

"Yes!" said the professor, "yes! It is very true that an unknown comet struck the earth during the night of the thirty-first of December to the first of January, at forty-seven minutes and thirty-five seconds and six-tenths of a second past two o'clock in the morning but she only grazed the earth so to speak, and carried away these few particles that you have found during your voyage of exploration."

"So, then," cried Captain Servadac, "we are—"

"On the star that I have called Gallia," replied Palmyrin Rosette, in a triumphant voice. "You are on my comet!"



When Processor Palmyrin Rosette lectured on cometography, he thus, after the manner of the best astronomers, defined comets:

"Stars composed of a central point called a nucleus of a nebulosity which is called hair, of a luminous train which is called the tail; the said stars being visible to the inhabitants of the earth only in a part of their course, thanks to the very great eccentricity of the orbit which they describe around the sun."

Then, Palmyrin Rosette did not fail to add that his definition was strictly exact, always with this exception, that these stars could do without the nucleus the tail, or the hair, and be none the less comets.

Then he was careful to add, following Arago, that to deserve this fine name of comet, a star should:

1st. Be endowed with a proper movement; 2d. Describe a very long ellipse, and consequently would recede to such a distance that it would be invisible from the earth and the sun. The first condition fulfilled, the body could not be confounded with a fixed star, and the second would prevent it being mistaken for a planet. Now not belonging to the class of meteors, not being a planet, not being a fixed star, the body was necessarily a comet.

Professor Palmyrin Rosette, when he thus taught from his lecture-chair, little thought that one day he would be carried by a comet through the solar system. He had always had a particular predilection for these stars, hairy or not. Perhaps he had a presentiment of what the future held in store for him. Thus he was well versed in cometography. What he particularly regretted at Formentera, after the shock, was without doubt the lack of an audience, for he would have at once commenced to lecture on comets, and treated his subject in the following order:

1st. What is the number of comets in space?

2d. Which are the periodical comets—that is to say, those which return at regular intervals, and the comets not periodical?

3d. What are the probabilities of a collision between the earth and one of these comets?

4th. What would be the consequences of the collision, providing that the comet had a solid nucleus or not?

Palmyrin Rosette, after having replied to these four questions, would certainly have satisfied the most exacting of his auditors. This will be done for him in this chapter.

On the first question, What is the number of comets in space? Kepler has pretended that comets are as numerous in the heavens as fishes in the sea.

Arago, establishing his theory on the number of stars which gravitate between Mercury and the sun, has carried  to seventeen millions the amount of those which peregrinate within the limits of the solar system.

Lambert says that there are five hundred millions as far as Saturn alone—that is to say, in a radius of three hundred and sixty-four millions of leagues. Other calculations have given seventy-four million thousand, millions of comets.

The truth is, no one knows the number of these hairy stars, no one has counted them, no one ever will count, them, but they are very numerous. To carry out and enlarge the comparison imagined by Kepler, a fisherman placed on the surface of the sun could not throw his line into space without catching one of these comets.

And this is not all. Many others travel the universe which have escaped the influence of the sun. There are some so irregular, so wandering, that they capriciously leave one center of attraction to enter another. They alter the solar system with deplorable facility, some appearing on the earthly horizon which we have never before seen, others disappearing which we shall never see again.

But, to keep to the comets which really belong to the solar system, have they, at least, fixed orbits, which nothing can change, and which, in consequence render impossible any collision of these bodies, whether between themselves, or with the earth? Well, no. These orbits are not protected from strange influences. Elliptical, they can become parabolic or hyperbolic. And to speak only of Jupiter, this star is the greatest deranger of orbits possible. As astronomers have remarked it always seems to be on the principal road of the comets, and to exercise on these feeble asteroids an influence which may be fatal to them, but which explains its attractive power.

This is, finally, the cometary world, which counts by millions the stars which compose it.

As to the second question: Which are the periodical comets and the comets not periodical?

In looking over the annals of astronomy, we find about five or six hundred comets which have been the objects of serious observations at different epochs. But with this total, little more than forty have had their periodical revolutions exactly known. These forty stars are divided into comets periodical and comets not periodical. The first reappear on the terrestrial horizon, after an interval of time, more or less long, but always regular. The second, whose return cannot be assigned, recede from the sun to distances truly incommensurable.

Among the periodic comets, there are ten which are said to be of "short periods," whose movements are calculated with extreme precision. These are the comets of Hally, Encke, Gambart, Faye, Brörsen, Arrest, Tuttle, Winecke, Vico, and Temple.

It is well to say a few words of their history, for one of these is in the precise position in regard to the earth as was the comet Gallia.

Hally's comet is the longest known. It is supposed that it was seen in the years 134 B.C. and 52 B.C., then in the years 400, 855, 930, 1006, 1230, 1305, 1380, 1456, 1531, 1607 1682, 1759, 1835. It moves from the east to the west; that is to say, in a contrary direction to the movement of the planets around the sun. The intervals between these appearances are from seventy-five to seventy-six years, as it is more or less affected in its revolution by the vicinity of Jupiter and Saturn—delays which exceed six hundred days. The illustrious Herschel, installed at the Cape of Good Hope at the time of the appearance of this comet in 1835, and in better circumstances than the astronomers in the northern hemisphere, could follow it until the end of March, 1836, the epoch at which its very great distance from the earth rendered it invisible. At its perihelion, Hally's comet passes twenty-two millions of leagues from the sun; that is, at a distance less than that of Venus; this seemed to be the case with Gallia. At its aphelion, it receded thirteen hundred millions of leagues; that is to say, beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Encke's comet is the one which accomplishes its revolution in the shortest period, because this period has an average of twelve hundred and five days; that is less than three years and a half. It moves in a straight direction, from west to east. It was discovered November 26th, 1818, and, after calculating its elements, they discovered that it was identical with the comet observed in 1805. As astronomers had predicted, it was seen again in 1822, 1825, 1829, 1832, 1835, 1838, 1842, 1845, 1848, 1852, etc., and it has never ceased to show itself on the earthly horizon at regular intervals. Its orbit is contained in that of Jupiter. It never recedes from the sun more than one hundred and fifty-six millions of leagues, and it approaches it within thirteen millions; that is to say, nearer than Mercury. An important observation: It has been remarked that the major diameter of the elliptical orbit of this comet diminishes progressively and that, consequently, its average distance from the sun gradually decreases. It is then probable that Encke's comet will finish by falling on the radiant star, which will absorb it, unless it is volatilized beforehand by the great heat.

The comet called Gambart, or Biela, was perceived in 1772, 1789, 1795 1805, but it was only on the 28th of February, 1826, that its elements were determined. Its motion is direct. Its revolution lasts two thousand four hundred and ten days; about seven years. At its perihelion, it passes thirty-two millions seven hundred and ten thousand leagues from the sun; that is to say, a little nearer than the earth; at its aphelion, two hundred and thirty-five millions three hundred and seventy thousand leagues; that is, beyond the orbit of Jupiter. A curious phenomenon happened in 1846. Biela's comet reappeared in two pieces on the terrestrial horizon. It had been doubled on the way, without doubt owing to the action of an interior force. The two fragments then traveled in company at seventy thousand leagues apart; but in 1852 this distance had increased to five hundred thousand leagues.

Faye's comet was discovered, for the first time, November 22, 1843, accomplishing its revolution in a straight direction. The elements of its orbit were calculated, and it was predicted, that it would return in 1850 and 1851, after seven years and a half, or two thousand seven hundred and eighteen days. The prediction was realized. The star reappeared at the epoch indicated, and at ulterior epochs, after having passed sixty-four millions six hundred and fifty thousand leagues from the sun, say farther than Mars, and having receded two hundred and twenty-six millions five hundred and sixty thousand leagues, say farther than Jupiter.

Brörsen's comet, gifted with a direct motion, was discovered February 26, 1846. It accomplished its revolution in five years and a half, or two thousand and forty-two days. Its perihelion distance is twenty-four million six hundred and forty thousand leagues; its aphelion distance is two hundred and sixteen million leagues.

As to the other comets with short periods, that of Arrest accomplishes its revolution in a little more than six years arid a half, and has passed, in 1862 at only eleven millions of leagues from Jupiter; Tuttle's comet moves in thirteen and two-third years. Winecke's in five and a half years. Temple's in almost equal time and Vico's seems to lose its way in celestial space. Bu these stars have not been the object of such complete observations as the five comets previously named.

There now remains to be enumerated the principal comets, "with long periods," of which forty have been studied with more or less precision.

The comet of 1586, called "Charles the Fifth's," expected toward 1860, has not yet reappeared.

The comet of 1680, studied by Newton and which, according to Whiston, would have caused the deluge by approaching too near the earth, must have been seen in the year 619 B. C. and in 43 B.C., then in 531, and in 1106. Its revolution would be six hundred and seventy-five years, and at its perihelion, it passes so near the sun that it receives a heat twenty-eight thousand times greater than that received by the earth, say two thousand times the temperature of iron while melting.

The comet of 1586 would be comparable, for the brilliancy of its light to a star of the first magnitude.

The comet of 1744 drew several tails after it, like one of those pachas who gravitate around the Grand Turk.

The comet of 1811, which has given its name to the year of its appearance, possessed a ring measuring one hundred and twenty-one leagues in diameter, a nebulosity of four hundred and fifty thousand leagues, and a tail forty-five million leagues.

The comet of 1843, that they thought they could identify with that of 1668, of 1494, of 1317, was observed by Cassini, but astronomers do not agree as to the duration of its revolution. It passes twelve hundred leagues from the sun, with a rapidity of fifteen thousand leagues a second. The heat which it receives is equal to that which forty-seven thousand suns would send to the earth. Its tail was visible in the middle of the day, so much did this fearful temperature increase the density.

Donati's comet, which shone with so much splendor in the midst of the northern constellations, has a mass estimated to be the seven-hundredth part of that of the earth.

The comet of 1862, ornamented with luminous aigrets, resembled some fantastical shell-fish.

Finally, the comet of 1864, in its revolution, which is not accomplished in less than two thousand eight hundred centuries, went to lose itself, so t say, in infinite space.

As to the third question: What are the probabilities of a collision between the earth and one of these comets? If we trace on paper the planetary orbits and the cometary orbits, it will be seen that they cross each other in many places. But it is not thus in space. The planes which contain these orbits are inclined under different angles in regard to the ecliptic, which is the plane of the terrestrial orbit. In spite of this "precaution" of the Creator, may it not happen, so great is the number of these comets, that one of them may strike the earth?

This is the reply which can be made:

The earth, we know, never leaves the plane of the ecliptic, and the orbit which she describes around the sun is entirely contained within this plane.

Under what conditions, then, might the earth be struck by a comet?

1st. This comet should encounter it in the plane of the ecliptic.

2d. That the point which the comet passed at that precise moment should be the same as that touched by the earth in its revolution.

3d. That the distance which separates the centers of the two stars be less than their radius.

Now, could these three circumstances be simultaneously produced, and, in consequence, cause a collision?

When they asked Arago his opinion on this subject, he replied:

"The calculation of probabilities furnishes the means of estimating the chances of such a meeting, and he shows that, at the appearance of an unknown comet, there are two hundred and eighty million chances to one that it will not come in collision with our globe.".

Laplace does not reject the possibility of such an encounter, and he describes the consequences in his "Exposition of the System of the World".

Are these chances sufficiently reassuring? Each one will decide according to his temperament.

We must, besides, remark that the calculation of the illustrious astronomer rests on two elements, which can change to infinity. He exacts, in fact: 1st. That at its perihelion the comet be nearer the sun than the earth; 2d. That the diameter of this comet equals one-quarter that of the earth.

And again in this calculation, the question is, the meeting of the cometary nucleus with the terrestrial globe. If we would cipher the chances of a meeting with the nebulosity, we must increase them tenfold, say two hundred and eighty-one millions to ten, or eighty million one hundred thousand to one.

But to go no farther than the limits of the first problem Arago adds:

"Let us admit, for a moment, that the comet which would strike the earth would annihilate the entire human species; then the danger of death which would result for each individual, on the appearance of an unknown comet, would be exactly equal to the chance that he would run, if there were in an urn but a single white ball in a total of two hundred and eighty-one millions of balls, and his death sentence was to be the inevitable consequence of the appearance of this white ball at the first drawing!"

From all this it results, then, that there is a possibility of the earth being struck by a comet. Has it happened formerly? No, replied the astronomers, because, "from the fact that the earth turns around an invariable axis," says Arago, "we must conclude with certainty that it has not yet encountered a comet. In fact, following this old collision, an axis instantaneous in rotation would have replaced the principal axis, and the terrestrial latitudes would have been subjected to continual variations, which observations have not discovered. The constancy of the terrestrial latitudes proves, then, that since its origin, our globe has not been struck by a comet. Also, as some learned men have done, we cannot attribute to the collision of a comet the depression of one hundred meters below the level of the ocean, formed by the Caspian Sea."

There has been no collision in the past; that seems certain—but is it possible to produce one?

Here comes in the Gambart incident. In 1882, the reappearance of the Gambart comet caused in the world a certain amount of terror.

A strange cosmographical coincidence caused the orbit of this comet to nearly cut that of the earth. Now, the twenty-ninth of October, before midnight, the comet had to pass very near one of the points of the terrestrial orbit. Would the earth be there at the same moment? If it were, there would be a meeting, for, according to the observations of Olbers, the length of the radius of the comet being equal to five terrestrial radii, a portion of the terrestrial orbit was drowned in the nebulosity.

Very happily, the earth did not arrive at this point of the ecliptic until a month later, the thirtieth of November; and as she is animated by a rapidity of translation of six hundred and seventy-four thousand leagues a day, when she passed there, the comet was already twenty millions of leagues from her.

Very well, but if the earth had arrived at this point of its orbit one month sooner, or the comet one month later, the meeting would have taken place. Now, could this thing happen? Evidently, for if we cannot admit that some perturbation might modify the progress of the terrestrial spheroid, no one dare pretend that the progress of a comet might not be delayed—these stars being subjected to so many formidable influences on their road.

Then, if the collision has not happened in the past, it is certain that it may be forthcoming.

Besides, the same Gambart comet, in 1805, had already passed ten times nearer to the earth, but two millions of leagues away. But, as people were ignorant of it, this passage did not cause any panic. It was not quite the same with the comet of 1843, for they feared that the terrestrial globe would be, at least, engulfed in the tail, which would vitiate its atmosphere.

As to the fourth question: Given that a collision might happen between the earth and a comet, what would be the effects of that collision?

They would be different, according as the comet would or would not have a nucleus.

In fact, among these wandering stars, some have a kernel, like certain fruits; others are destitute of them.

When the comets have no nucleus, they are formed of a nebulosity so tenuous, that it is possible through their mass to perceive stars of the tenth magnitude. From thence, changes of form, which these stars frequently undergo, and the difficulty of recognizing them. The same subtle matter enters into the composition of their tail. It is like the evaporation of itself, which takes place under the influence of the solar heat. The proof, this tail does not commence to develop itself say like a long feather, say like a fan with several branches, until the comets are only thirty millions of leagues from the sun, a distance less than that which separates the latter from the earth. Besides, it often happens that certain comets, made evidently of a matter more dense, more resistant, more refractory to the action of high temperatures, present no appendages of this kind.

In case a meeting should take place between the terrestrial spheroid and a comet without a nucleus, there would be no collision in the true acceptation of the word. The astronomer Faye has said that a spider's web would oppose more of an obstacle to a gun shot than would a cometary nebulosity. If the matter which composes the tail or the hair is not unhealthy, there is nothing to fear. But what is to be feared would be whether the vapors of these appendages are incandescent—and in that case they would burn over the surface of the globe—or that they might introduce into the atmosphere gaseous elements injurious to life. Meanwhile it appears impossible that the last contingency can be realized. In fact according to Babinet, the terrestrial atmosphere, as tenuous as it is in its superior limits, possesses a very great density, when compared with that of the nebulosities or cometary appendages, and it would not be penetrated. Such is, in fact, the tenuity of these vapors, that Newton has affirmed that if a comet without a nucleus, with a radius of three hundred and sixty-five millions of leagues, were carried to the degree of condensation of the terrestrial atmosphere, it could be entirely held in a thimble of twenty-five millimeters in diameter. Then in the case of comets of simple nebulosity, there is little danger to fear in case of a meeting. But what would happen if the hairy star were formed of a hard nucleus?

And first, do these nuclei exist? The answer is that they must exist when the comet has attained a degree of concentration sufficient to pass from a gaseous to a solid condition. In that case, when it is interposed between a star and an observer placed on the earth, there is an occultation of the star.

Now it appears that 480 B.C., in the time of Xerxes, according to Anaxagoras, the sun was eclipsed by a comet. Also several days before the death of Augustus, Dion observed an eclipse of this kind, an eclipse which could not be due to the interposition of the moon, since the moon on that day was in opposition.

It must be said, however, that cometographers challenge this double testimony, and perhaps they are not wrong. But two more recent observations will not allow us to doubt the existence of these cometary nuclei. In fact, the comets of 1774 and 1828 caused the occultation of stars of the eighth magnitude. It is equally admitted, after direct observation, that the comets of 1402, 1522, 1744, had hard nuclei. As for the comet of 1843, the fact is perfectly certain that they could perceive the star in full daylight near the sun, and without the aid of any instrument.

Not only do hard nuclei exist in certain comets, but they have even been measured. It is by this that we know their real diameters from eleven and twelve leagues for the comets of 1798 and 1805 (Gambart) up to three thousand two hundred leagues for that of 1845. The last would then have a nucleus larger than the terrestrial globe, so that in case of a meeting, the advantage would remain perhaps with the comet. As for certain nebulosities, the most remarkable of which have been measured, we find that they vary between seven thousand two hundred and four hundred and fifty thousand leagues. To conclude we must say with Arago, there exists, or may exist:

1st Comets without a nucleus.

2d. Comets whose nucleus is perhaps transparent.

3d. Comets more brilliant than planets, having a nucleus probably solid and opaque.

And before searching into the consequences of a meeting between the earth and one of these stars, it is in order to remark that, even in case there were no direct collision, phenomena of the greatest kind might be produced.

In fact, the passage at a short distance of a comet, if its mass was sufficiently large, would not be without danger. With an inferior mass there would be nothing to fear. It was thus with the comet of 1770, which approached the earth within six hundred thousand leagues, but did not change for a second the length of the terrestrial year, while the action of the earth retarded for two days the revolution of the comet.

But in a case where the masses of the two bodies would be equal, if the comet passed fifty-five thousand leagues only from the earth, it would increase the length of the terrestrial year sixteen hours and five minutes, and it would change the obliquity of the ecliptic two degrees. Perhaps, also, it would capture the moon in passing.

Finally, what would be the consequences of a collision?

We are going to learn.

Whether the comet, only grazing the terrestrial globe would leave there a piece of itself; whether it would tear away several particles—this was the case with Gallia; or whether it would touch the earth in such a manner as to form on its surface a new continent.

In all these cases the tangential rapidity of the translation of the earth could be suddenly annihilated. Then people, trees, houses, would be projected with this rapidity of eight leagues a second by which they were animated before the collision. The seas rushing out of their natural basins would swallow all. The central parts of the globe which are still liquid, opening by the rebound, would tend to escape outside. The axis of the earth being changed, a new equator would be substituted for the old. Then the rapidity of the globe might be absolutely stopped, and, in consequence, the attractive power of the sun being no longer counter-balanced, the earth would fall toward it in a straight line, to be absorbed in it after a fall of sixty-four and a half days. And even by the application of Tyndall's theory—that heat is only a mode of motion—the rapidity of the globe, suddenly interrupted, would transform itself mechanically into heat. The earth, then under the action of a temperature carried to some millions of degrees, would be volatilized in a second.

But—and to finish this rapid summary—there are two hundred and eighty-one millions of chances against one that a collision between the earth and a comet will ever take place.

"No doubt," as Palmyrin Rosette said later "no doubt, but we have drawn the white ball!"



"My comet!" Such were the last words pronounced by the professor. Then he had looked at his auditors frowning, as if one of them had the idea of contesting his rights of ownership to Gallia. Perhaps, even, he asked himself by what authority these intruders ranged around him—were installed on his domain.

Meanwhile Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Lieutenant Procope had remained silent. They at last understood the truth, which they themselves had been able to approach so closely. They recalled the various hypotheses successively admitted after discussions; first, the change in the axis of rotation of the earth, and modification of two cardinal points; then a fragment detached from the terrestrial spheroid and carried in space; finally an unknown comet, which after having grazed the earth, lifted from it several particles, and hurried them away, perhaps into the siderial world.

The past, they knew it. The present they saw it. What would be the future? This original of a savant, had he a presentiment of it? Hector Servadac and his companions hesitated about asking him.

Palmyrin Rosette, having assumed his grand professor's air, seemed to expect that the strangers assembled in the common room would be presented to him.

Hector Servadac proceeded with the ceremony, so as not to annoy the susceptible and crabbed astronomer.

"Count Timascheff," said he, presenting his companion.

"You are welcome, count," replied Palmyrin Rosette, with all the condescension of a host who knows he is at home.

"Professor," said Count Timascheff, "it was not precisely of my free will that I came on your comet, but none the less I thank you for receiving me so hospitably."

Hector Servadac, feeling the sarcasm of the reply, smiled slightly and said:

"Lieutenant Procope, commanding the schooner 'Dobryna,' on which we have made the tour of the Gallian world."

"The tour?" quickly cried the professor.

"Exactly, the tour," replied Captain Servadac.

Then he continued:

"Ben-Zouf, my order—"

"Aid-de-camp to the Governor-General of Gallia" Ben-Zouf hastened to add, who did not wish this double title of his and his captain's to be contested.

There were successively presented the Russian sailors, the Spaniards young Pablo, and little Nina, whom the professor looked at from under his formidable glasses, like a surly person, who does not love children. As for Isaac Hakhabut, he advanced, saying:

"Mister Astronomer, one question, one only, but to which I attach great importance. When may we hope to return?"

"Eh!" replied the professor, "who talks of returning? We have scarcely left it!"

The presentations being made, Hector Servadac begged Palmyrin Rosette to tell his history.

This history can be summed up in a few lines:

The French Government having wished to verify the measure of the arc raised on the meridian of Paris, named for this purpose a scientific commission, which, owing to his unsociability, did not include Palmyrin Rosette. The professor, ousted and furious, then resolved to work on his own account.

Claiming that the first geodetic operations were sullied by inaccuracies, he resolved to examine anew the measures of the extreme chain which had joined Formentera to the Spanish coast by a triangle, of which one of the sides measured forty leagues. It was a work which Arago and Biot had done before him with remarkable perfection.

Palmyrin Rosette then left Paris. He went to the Balearic Isles, he placed his observatory on the highest point of the island, and installed himself there to live like a hermit, with his servant Joseph, while one of his old assistants, whom he had engaged for this purpose, was occupied in establishing, on one of the heights of the Spanish coast, a reflector which could be sighted by the glass of Formentera. Some books, some instruments for observing, food for two months, composed his whole materials, without counting an astronomical telescope from which Palmyrin Rosette never was separated and which seemed to be a part of himself. In fact the old professor of the Charlemagne had a passion for searching the depths of the heavens, and a hope of yet making some discovery which would immortalize his name. It was his hobby.

The labor of Palmyrin Rosette exacted, above everything, extreme patience. Every night he had to watch for the signal-light, which his assistant kept burning on the Spanish coast, so as to fix the apex of his triangle; and he had not forgotten that, with these conditions, sixty-one days elapsed before Arago and Biot could attain this purpose. Unhappily, as we have said, a thick fog, of extraordinary intensity, enveloped not only that part of Europe, but almost the entire globe.

Now, precisely, on these parts of the Balearic Isles, several times, openings were made in the mass of fogs. He was thus obliged to watch with the greatest care—a fact which did not prevent Palmyrin Rosette from throwing an interrogatory look over the firmament, for he also intended to revise the map of that portion of the heavens where is shown the constellation of Gemini.

This constellation, to the raked eye, presents at me most six stars; hut, with a telescope of twenty-seven centimeters of aperture, more than six thousand can be observed. Palmyrin Rosette did not possess a reflector of this power, and, for want of a better, he had only his astronomical telescope.

Meanwhile, on a certain day, seeking to gauge the celestial depths in the constellation of Gemini he thought he distinguished a brilliant point not drawn on any map. It was, undoubtedly, a star not catalogued. But observing it with attention for several nights, the professor saw that the star in question changed position very rapidly in regard to the other fixed ones. Was it a new little planet that the God of astronomers had sent him? Had he at last made a discovery? Palmyrin Rosette redoubled his attention, and the rapidity with which the star changed its position showed him that the point in question was a comet. Soon the nebulosity was visible; then the tail developed, when the comet was only thirty millions of leagues from the sun.

It must be admitted, from that moment the great triangle was absolutely neglected. Most certainly, every night, Palmyrin Rosette's assistant conscientiously lit his signal-light on the Spanish river, but most certainly also Palmyrin Rosette looked no longer in that direction. He had no longer any object-glass or eye-glass except for the new hairy star which he wished to study and name. He lived only in that corner of the heavens circumscribed by Gemini.

When it is wished to calculate the elements of a comet they always commence by supposing it to have a parabolic orbit. It is the best way to proceed. In fact, comets generally show themselves in the vicinity of their perihelion; that is to say, at their shortest distance from the sun, which occupies one of the foci of the orbit. Now, between the ellipse and the parabola, which have a common focus, the difference is not sensible in this portion of their curve, for a parabola is only an ellipse with an infinite axis.

Palmyrin Rosette based his calculations on the hypothesis of a parabolic curve, and in this case he was right.

In order to determine a circle it is necessary to know three points of its circumference; in order to determine the elements of a comet it is necessary to observe successively three different positions. They can then trace the road that the star will follow in space, and establish what is called its ephemerides.

Palmyrin Rosette was not content with these positions. Profiting by an exceptional chance, which opened the mist at its zenith, he took ten, twenty, thirty, in right ascension and in declination, and obtained with great precision the five elements of the new comet, which advanced with frightful rapidity.

He had thus:

1st. The inclination of the cometary orbit to the ecliptic—that is to say, on the plane which contains the curve of translation of the earth around the sun. Generally, the angle which these planes make between them is very considerable—this, as we know, diminishes the chances of a meeting. But, in this case, the two planes coincided.

2d. The fixing of the ascending node of the comet—that is to say, its longitude on the ecliptic, otherwise, say the point where the hairy star cuts the earth's orbit.

These first two elements obtained, the position of the plane of the cometary orbit in space was fixed.

3d. The direction of the major axis of the orbit. It was obtained by calculating the longitude of the comet's perihelion, and Palmyrin Rosette had thus the situation of the parabolic curve in the plane already determined.

4th. The perihelion distance of the comet—that is to say, the distance which separated it from the sun when it passed nearest to it—a calculation which, in the end, gave exactly the form of the parabolic orbit, because it necessarily had the sun in its focus.

5th. Finally, the direction of the comet's motion. This movement was retrograde in regard to that of the planets—that is to say, it moved from east to west. Of two hundred and fifty-two comets, they count one hundred and twenty-three having a direct movement, and one hundred and twenty-nine as having a retrograde movement.

These five elements being known, Palmyrin Rosette calculated the date at which the comet would pass its perihelion. Then, to his extreme joy, having verified that this was an unknown comet, he gave it the name of Gallia, not without hesitating between Palmyra and Rosetta, and he commenced to write up his report.

It will be asked if the professor had discovered if a collision was possible between the earth and Gallia.

Perfectly, a collision not only possible, but certain.

To say that he was enchanted, would be far from the truth. This was astronomical madness. Yes! The earth would be struck on the night of the thirty-first of December to the first of January, and the shock would be all the more terrible as the two stars were going in contrary directions!

Another, frightened, would have immediately left Formentera. He remained at his post. Not only he did not abandon his island, but he said nothing of his discovery. The days had taught him that thick fogs rendered all observations impossible on the two continents, and as no other observatory had signalized this new comet, he was authorized to believe that he alone had discovered it in space. This was so, in fact, and this circumstance spared to the rest of the world the immense panic with which the inhabitants would have been seized, had they known the danger which threatened them. Thus, Palmyrin Rosette was the only person who knew that a meeting would take place between the earth and this comet, which the sky of the Balearic Isles had let him see, while everywhere else it hid itself from astronomers' eyes.

The professor lived then at Formentera, and with all the more obstinacy, because, according to his calculations, the hairy star ought to strike the earth in the south of Algiers. Now, he wished to be there, for the comet being a comet with a hard nucleus, "that would be very curious!"

The collision took place with all the results we know; but this happened—Palmyrin Rosette was instantly separated from his servant, Joseph; and when he awoke from a very long swoon, he found himself alone upon an islet. It was all that remained of the Balearic Archipelago.

Such was the history told by the professor, with numerous interjections and many frowns, by no means justified by the complacent attitude of his listeners. He finished by saying:

"Some important modifications were produced—change of the cardinal points, diminution of the intensity of gravity. But I was not induced to believe, like you, gentlemen, that I was still on the terrestrial spheroid! No! the earth has continued to gravitate in space, accompanied by its moon, which has not abandoned it, and following its normal orbit which the collision has not changed. It has only been brazed, so to speak, by the comet, and has lost only these few insignificant portions which you have found. All, then, has happened for the best and we have nothing to complain of. In fact, either we might have been crushed by the blow of the comet or the latter might have remained fixed to the earth, and in those two cases we would not have the advantage of traveling through the solar system!"

Palmyrin Rosette said all these things with such satisfaction that no one attempted to contradict him. Only the clumsy Ben-Zouf hazarded this opinion, "That if, instead of striking a point of Africa, the comet had touched the Hill of Montmartre, most certainly, that hill would have resisted and then—"

"Montmartre!" cried Palmyrin Rosette. "The Hill of Montmartre would have been reduced to powder like the common sand-hill which it is."

"Sand hill!" cried Ben-Zouf, in his turn wounded to the heart. "My hill would have caught your scrap of a comet in the flight, and would have put it on like a mere military cap!"

Hector Servadac, to cut short this unpleasant discussion, imposed silence on Ben-Zouf, explaining to the professor what singular ideas his soldier had as to the solidity of the Hill of Montmartre.

The incident was then forgotten "by order," but the orderly would never forgive Palmyrin Rosette the contemptible manner with which the latter had spoken of his native hill!

Meanwhile if Palmyrin Rosette, after the collision, had been able to continue his astronomical observations, and what the results would be in regard to the future of the comet, this is what it was important to know.

Lieutenant Procope, with all the precaution required by the stern temperament of the profession, put this double question relative to the road that Gallia now followed in space, and the duration of its revolution around the sun.

"Yes sir," said Palmyrin Rosette, "I had determined the path of my comet before the collision, and I have also recommenced my calculations."

"And why, professor?" asked Lieutenant Procope much astonished by the answer.

"Because, if the terrestrial orbit has not been modified by the meeting, it is not so with the Gallian orbit."

"This orbit has been changed by the collision?"

"I dare absolutely affirm it," replied Palmyrin Rosette; "understand that my observations before the collision were made with extreme exactness."

"And you have obtained the elements of the new orbit?" quickly asked Lieutenant Procope.

"Yes," replied Palmyrin Rosette, without hesitating.

"But then you know—"

"What I know, sir, is this. Gallia has collided with the earth while passing its ascending node, at two o'clock, forty-seven minutes, thirty-five and six-tenths seconds in the morning, during the night of the 31st of December to the 1st of January; that on the 10th of January it cut the orbit of Venus; it passed its perihelion on the 15th of January, that it recut the orbit of Venus, traversing its descending node, on the 1st of February, crossed the orbit of Mars on the 13th of February, entered the zone of the telescopic planets the 10th of March, took Nerina for a satellite—"

"Circumstances that we all know, dear professor," said Hector Servadac, "since we had the chance of gathering your notices. Only they bore no signature, no place of origin."

"Eh! Could you doubt that they were mine!" cried the professor, proudly. "From me who had thrown them by hundreds into the sea, from me, Palmyrin Rosette!"

"We could not!" gravely replied Count Timascheff. Meanwhile no answer had been given touching the future of Gallia. It even seemed that Palmyrin Rosette wished to avoid a direct reply. Lieutenant Procope was then going to reiterate his demand, and more categorically; but Hector Servadac, thinking it better not to press this original, said to him:

"Ah, well! Dear professor, can you explain to us how it was that in such a formidable encounter we were not treated worse?"

"That is very easily explained."

"And do you think that, with the exception of a few leagues being lifted from it, the earth has not suffered, and, among other things, that its rotary axis was not suddenly changed?"

"I think so, Captain Servadac," replied Palmyrin Rosette; "and these are my reasons: The earth travels with a rapidity of twenty-eight thousand eight hundred leagues an hour, Gallia with a rapidity of fifty-seven thousand leagues an hour. It is as if a train, making about eighty-six thousand leagues an hour, were to rush on an obstacle. What the shock would be, gentlemen, you can judge. The comet, whose nucleus is of an extremely hard substance, has done exactly as a ball would, fired off close to and through a pane of glass. It has gone through the earth without breaking anything."

"In fact," replied Hector Servadac, "things might certainly have happened thus."

"Must have!" replied the professor, always affirmative; "and all the more so, as the terrestrial globe was very obliquely touched. But if Gallia had fallen upon it perpendicularly, it would have been deeply penetrated, causing the most serious disasters, and it would even have flattened the Hill of Montmartre if that hill had been found in its way."

"Sir!" cried Ben-Zouf, directly attacked, and this time without provocation.

"Silence, Ben-Zouf," said Captain Servadac.

At this moment Isaac Hakhabut, convinced, perhaps, of the reality of events, approached Palmyrin Rosette, and in a voice which denoted extreme anxiety:

"Professor," asked he, "shall we return to the earth, and when shall we return there?"

"You are, then, in a great hurry?" replied Palmyrin Rosette.

"What Isaac asks you, sir," then said Lieutenant Procope, "I would like to state more scientifically."

"Go on."

"You say that the old orbit of Gallia has been modified?"


"The new orbit, the new curve which the comet follows, is it hyperbolic; will it lead us off to infinite distances in the sidereal world without any hope of returning?"

"No!" replied Palmyrin Rosette.

"This orbit then, has become elliptical?"


"And its plane would coincide always with that of the terrestrial orbit?"


"Gallia will then be a periodical comet?"

"Yes and of a short period, since its revolution around the sun, taking into account the perturbations that it will be subjected to from Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, will be accomplished exactly in two years."

"But then," cried Lieutenant Procope, "all the chances would be that two years after the collision she would find the earth at the very point where she had already met it?"

"Indeed, sir, that is to be feared!"

"To be feared!" cried Captain Servadac.

"Yes, gentlemen," replied Palmyrin Rosette, stamping his foot; "we are very well where we are, and if it depended on me, Gallia should never return to the earth!"



Thus, then, for these seekers, for these inventors of hypotheses, all was clear at present, all was explained.

They found themselves carried away on a comet, gravitating in the solar system. After the shock it was the earth flying through space, which Captain Servadac had viewed behind the thick bed of cloud. It was the terrestrial globe which had provoked that important and singular tide, of which the Gallian Sea had felt the influence.

But finally this comet would return to the earth—at least the professor affirmed it. All the time, were his calculations so precise that this return was mathematically assured? It will be agreed that the Gallian might well have some doubts on this subject.

The following days were employed in the installation of the newly arrived. He was, happily, one of those men requiring few of the things of this life, who accommodate themselves to circumstances. Living, day and night, in the heavens, among the stars, running after the vagabond stars of space, questions of lodgings and food—his coffee excepted—gave him very little concern. He did not even seem to remark that ingenuity displayed by the colonists in the management of Nina-Hive.

Captain Servadac wished to offer the best room of all to his old professor. But the latter, little caring to share the common life, flatly refused. What he needed was a kind of observatory, well exposed, well isolated, and in which he could give himself up tranquilly to his astronomical observations.

Hector Servadac and Lieutenant Procope occupied themselves then in finding for him the lodging in question. They were very fortunate. In the side of the volcanic rock, about a hundred feet above the central grotto, they discovered a sort of narrow reduct, sufficient to contain the observer and his instruments. There was room for a bed, some furniture, table, armchair, cupboard, without counting the famous telescope, which was disposed so as to be easily maneuvered. A simple streamlet of lava, drawn from the large fall, sufficed to warm the said observatory.

It was there that the professor installed himself, eating the provisions which they brought him at certain hours, sleeping little, calculating by day, observing by night—in a word, mixing as little as possible in the common life. The best thing, after all, his originality being admitted, was to let him have his own way.

The cold had become very intense. The thermometrical column no longer reached an average of more than thirty degrees below zero. It did not oscillate in the glass tube as it would have done in capricious climates, but it sank slowly, progressively. This falling would continue thus till it would reach the extreme limit of the cold of space, and the temperature would only rise when Gallia should approach the sun in following her elliptical trajectory.

If the mercurial column did not oscillate in the tube of the thermometer, it was because no breath of air troubled the Gallian atmosphere. The colonists found themselves in very strange climatic conditions. Not a molecule of air changed its place. All that was liquid or fluid on the surface of the comet seemed to be frozen. Then, not a storm, not a shower, not a vapor, neither in the zenith, nor at the horizon. None of those damp mists, nor of those dry fogs, which invade the polar regions of the terrestrial spheroid. The sky preserved an invariable and unalterable serenity, all impregnated, by day, with the solar rays, by night, with the stellar rays, while the former did not appear any warmer than the latter.

What must be well understood is, that this excessive temperature was perfectly bearable in the open air. In fact, what the winterers in Arctic countries cannot experience with impunity, what wastes their lungs and makes them unfit for the vital functions, are the violently displaced air, the sharp breeze, the unhealthy fogs, the terrible snow-drifts—there is the cause of all the affections which kill the polar navigators. But, during the periods of calm, when the atmosphere is not disturbed, were they at Melville Island, like Parry; or beyond the eighty-first degree, like Kane; farther still, beyond the limits reached by the courageous Hall and the explorers of the "Polaris," they can brave the cold, no matter how intense it may be. Provided they are well clothed and well fed, they endure the most extreme temperatures in the absence of all wind, and they have done so, even when the alcohol of the thermometers fell to sixty degrees below zero.

The colonists of Hot-Land were then in the best conditions to support the cold of space. Furs from the schooner, prepared skins did not fail them. Provisions were abundant and wholesome. Finally, the calm of the atmosphere permitted them to go and come with impunity, in spite of the excessive lowering of the temperature.

Besides, the Governor-General of Gallia saw that all the colonists were warmly clothed and abundantly fed. Hygienic exercises were prescribed and executed daily. No one could withdraw from the programme of the common life. Neither young Pablo nor little Nina was exempt from the rule. Well wrapped in furs, these two charming beings had the air of graceful Esquimaux, when they skated together along the coast of Hot-Land. Pablo was very attentive to his companion. He aided her in her games, he sustained her when she felt very much fatigued. All that suited their age.

And what had become of Isaac Hakhabut?

After his rather awkward presentation to Palmyrin Rosette, Isaac Hakhabut had returned all abashed to his tartan. Isaac's ideas had just changed. After the precise details given by the professor, he could no longer doubt, he did no longer doubt. He knew he was carried away through space by a vagabond comet, millions of leagues from that terrestrial globe, on which he had made so many and such good bargains.

To see himself thus, he, the thirty-sixth on Gallia, it would seem that this situation, so much beyond human previsions, should have modified his ideas and his character, that he would have been able to make a change in himself, to return to better sentiments toward those few fellow-beings who, by the grace of God, were left near him, and that he would no longer consider them as material to be utilized for his profit alone.

It was not so. If Isaac Hakhabut could have changed, he would not have been the accomplished specimen of what the man may become who thinks only of himself. On the contrary, he hardened himself willingly, and no longer dreamed but of this—to work the situation to the end. He knew Captain Servadac well enough to be assured that no wrong would be done to him; he knew that his property was under the protection of a French officer, and, unless in a case of extreme necessity, nothing would be attempted against him. Now, this case of extreme necessity did not seem likely to take place, and this is the way Isaac Hakhabut intended to work the situation.

The chances of return to the earth, doubtful as they were, should be taken account of on one side. On the other, gold and silver, English and Russian, were not lacking in the little colony, but this metal had no value except it should circulate again on the old earth. Isaac Hakhabut determined to absorb little by little all the monetary riches of Gallia. His interest then was this: to sell his goods before the return, for, by their scarceness even, they would have more value on Gallia than they would have on the earth, but to wait till, by reason of the needs of the colony, the demand should be much greater than the supply. Thence a certain rise and a gain not less certain. Then, to sell, but to wait to sell better.

Behold on what Isaac Hakhabut was reflecting in his narrow cabin in the "Hansa." At all events, they were relieved of his malicious face, and that was not to be complained of.

During this month of April the path traversed by Gallia was thirty-nine millions of leagues, and, at the end of the month, it was a hundred and ten millions of leagues from the sun. The elliptical orbit of the comet, comprising these ephemerides, had been very exactly drawn by the professor. Twenty-four unequal divisions were shown on this curve and represented there the twenty-four months of the Gallian year. These divisions indicated the path passed over monthly. The first twelve segments, marked on the curve, diminished progressively in length as far as the aphelion point, according to one of the three laws of Kepler; then, this point passed, they continued increasing as they approached the perihelion.

One day—it was the 12th of May—the professor communicated his labor to Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope. These examined it with an interest easily understood. All the trajectory of Gallia was developed before their eyes, and they could see that it extended a little beyond the orbit of Jupiter. The paths traversed each month and the distances to the sun were expressed there in figures. Nothing was clearer, and if Palmyrin Rosette was not mistaken, if Gallia accomplished its revolution in exactly two years, it would find the earth again at the point where it had struck, because, in this same lapse of time two terrestrial revolutions would be mathematically accomplished. But, then, what would be the consequences of the new collision? They did not even wish to think of it.

At all events, if the accuracy of Palmyrin Rosette's work could be suspected, it was necessary to guard themselves from expressing any doubt.

"Thus, then," said Hector Servadac, "during the month of May, Gallia will only describe thirty millions four hundred thousand leagues, and will be carried to one hundred and thirty-nine millions of leagues from the sun."

"Exactly," replied the professor.

"We have left the zone of the telescopic planets?" added Count Timascheff.

"Judge of that yourself, sir," retorted Palmyrin Rosette; "because I have traced the zone of these planets."

"And the comet will be at its aphelion," asked Hector Servadac, "just one year after having passed its perihelion?"


"On the 15th of next January?"

"Evidently on the 15th of January. Ah! but no!" cried the professor. "Why do you say January 15th, Captain Servadac?"

"Because, from the 15th of January to the 15th of January, that makes a year, I suppose; otherwise say twelve months."

"Twelve terrestrial months, yes," replied the professor; "but not twelve Gallian months."

At this unexpected proposition, Lieutenant Procope could not prevent himself from smiling.

"You smile, sir," laid Palmyrin Rosette, quickly; "and why do you smile?"

"Oh, simply, professor, because I see that you wish to reform the terrestrial calendar."

"I wish nothing, sir, except to be logical."

"Let us be logical, dear professor," cried Captain Servadac, "let us be logical."

"Is it admitted," asked Palmyrin Rosette, in a rather dry tone, "that Gallia will return to its perihelion two years after having passed it?"

"That is admitted."

"This lapse of two years, which constitutes a complete revolution around the sun, does it constitute the Gallian year?"


"Should this year, like any other year, be divided into twelve months?"

"If you wish it, clear professor."

"It is not if I wish it—"

"Well, yes; into twelve months," replied Hector Servadac.

"And of how many days will these months be formed?"

"Of sixty days, because the days are diminished one half."

"Captain Servadac," said the professor, in a severe tone, "reflect on what you say."

"But it seems to me that I enter into your system," replied Hector Servadac.

"By no means."

"Explain to us, then—"

"But nothing is more simple!" returned Palmyrin Rosette, who elevated his shoulders disdainfully. "Should each Gallian month comprise two terrestrial months?"

"Without doubt, because the Gallian year would last two years."

"Do two months make all of sixty days on earth?"

"Yes, sixty days."

"And consequently?" asked Count Timascheff, addressing Palmyrin Rosette.

"Consequently, if two months comprise sixty terrestrial days, that makes one hundred and twenty Gallian days, because the length of the day on the surface of Gallia is no more than twelve hours. Is it understood?"

"Perfectly understood, sir," replied Count Timascheff. "But do you not fear that this new calendar may b a little troublesome?"

"Troublesome!" cried the professor. "Since the 1st January, I do not count otherwise."

"Thus," asked Captain Servadac, "our months will now have at least one hundred and twenty days?"

"What harm do you see in that?"

"None my dear professor. Then, to-day, instead of being in May, we are only in March?"

"In March, gentlemen, at the two hundred and sixty-sixth day of the Gallian year, which corresponds to the one hundred and thirty-third of the terrestrial year. To-day, then, is the 12th of the Gallian March and when sixty more Gallian days will have elapsed—"

"It will be the 72d of March!" cried Hector Servadac. "Bravo! let us be logical."

Palmyrin Rosette looked as if he thought his old pupil was mocking him a little; but, as it was late, the three visitors left the observatory.

The professor had then founded the Gallian calendar. Meanwhile, it must be admitted that he was the only one to use it, and that no one understood him, when he spoke of the 47th of April or the 118th of May.

Meanwhile, the month of June—old calendar—had come, during which Gallia ought to traverse twenty-seven millions five hundred thousand leagues only, and recede to one hundred and fifty-five millions of leagues from the sun. The temperature was always decreasing, but the atmosphere remained as pure, as calm as in the past. All the acts of existence were accomplished on Gallia with a perfect regularity, one might say with a perfect monotony. To disturb this monotony, nothing less was needed than this noisy, nervous, capricious, even cross-grained personality of Palmyrin Rosette. When he deigned to interrupt his observations and descend to the common room, his visit always provoked some new scene.

The discussion was almost invariably on this point, that, whatever might be the danger of a new collision with the earth, Captain Servadac and his companions were enchanted with the idea that it would take place. That exasperated the professor, who did not wish to hear of return, and continued his studies on Gallia as if he should always live there.

One day—27th June—Palmyrin Rosette arrived like a bomb in the common room. There were assembled, Captain Servadac, Lieutenant Procope, Count Timascheff and Ben-Zouf.

"Lieutenant Procope," cried he, "reply without ambiguity or subterfuges to the question which I am going to propound to you."

"But I am not in the habit—" replied Lieutenant Procope.

"That is all right!" replied Palmyrin Rosette, who seemed to treat the lieutenant as a professor would a pupil. "Answer this: Have you made, yes or no, the tour of Gallia with your schooner, and nearly on its equator, otherwise say on one of its great circles?"

"Yes, sir," replied the lieutenant, whom Count Timascheff had, by a sign, induced to satisfy the terrible Rosette.

"Well," replied the latter; "and during this voyage of exploration have you not taken the bearings of the 'Dobryna's' course?"

"Approximately," replied Procope, "that is to say, with the aid of the log and the compass, and not by the altitude of the nun or the stars, which it was impossible to calculate."

"And what did you find?"

"That the circumference of Gallia ought to measure about two thousand three hundred kilometers, which would give it seven hundred and forty kilometers for its diameter."

"Yes," said Palmyrin Rosette, as if to himself. "This diameter would be in fact sixteen times less than that of the earth, which is twelve thousand seven hundred and ninety-two kilometers."

Captain Servadac and his two companions looked at the professor, without understanding what he wished to arrive at.

"Well," replied Palmyrin Rosette, "to complete my studies on Gallia it remains for me to know what are its surface, its volume, its mass, its density, and the intensity of gravity."

"In what concerns the surface and the volume," replied Lieutenant Procope "as we know the diameter of Gallia, nothing is easier."

"Have I said that it was difficult?" replied the professor. "Those calculations I made them on coming into the world."

"Oh! oh!" said Ben-Zouf, who only sought an occasion to be disagreeable to the despiser of Montmartre.

"Pupil Servadac," said Palmyrin Rosette, after having looked at Ben-Zouf for an instant, "take your pen. As you know the circumference of a great circle of Gallia, tell me what is its surface?"

"Here it is, Mr. Rosette," replied Hector Servadac, determined to behave himself like a good pupil. "We say two thousand three hundred and twenty-three kilometers, circumference of Gallia, to be multiplied by the diameter, seven hundred and forty."

"Yes, and make haste," cried the professor. "That ought to be done already. Well?"

"Well," replied Hector Servadac, "I find in the product one million seven hundred and nineteen thousand square kilometers, which represents the surface of Gallia."

"Say a surface two hundred and ninety-seven times less than that of the earth, which is five hundred and ten million of square kilometers."

"Whew!" whistled Ben-Zouf, with an air of contempt for the professor's comet.

Palmyrin Rosette gave him a glance like a thunderbolt.

"Well," replied the professor, who was getting animated, "now what is the volume of Gallia?"

"The volume—" replied Hector Servadac, hesitating.

"Pupil Servadac, do you not know how to calculate the volume of a sphere of which you know the surface?"

"Yes Mr. Rosette. But you do not even give me time to breathe."

"One does not breathe in mathematics, sir; one does not breathe!"

The interlocutors of Palmyrin Rosette were obliged to exercise all their gravity to keep from bursting out.

"Shall we finish it?" asked the professor. "The volume of a sphere—"

"Is equal to the product of the surface," replied Hector Servadac, hesitatingly, "multiplied——"

"By the third of the radius, sir!" cried Palmyrin Rosette. "By the third of the radius! Is it finished?"

"Nearly! the third of the radius of Gallia being one hundred and twenty-three, three, three, three, three, three—"

"Three, three, three, three—" repeated Ben-Zouf, in going through the scale of sounds.

"Silence!" cried the professor, seriously irritated..

"Be satisfied with the first two decimals, and neglect the others."

"I neglect them," replied Hector Servadac.


"The product of one million seven hundred and nineteen thousand twenty by one hundred twenty-three thirty-three gives two hundred eleven millions four hundred thirty-nine thousand four hundred and sixty cubic kilometers."

"Behold, then, the volume of my comet!" cried the professor. "In truth, that is something."

"Doubtless," observed Lieutenant Procope "but this volume is still five thousand one hundred sixty-six times less than that of the earth, which contains in round numbers—"

"One trillion, two billions, eight hundred forty-one millions of cubic kilometers, I know it, sir," replied Palmyrin Rosette.

"And consequently," said Lieutenant Procope, "the volume of Gallia is still much less than that of the moon which is one forty-ninth of the volume of the earth."

"Ah! Who speaks to you about that?" answered the professor, considering himself wounded in his self-love.

"Then," continued Lieutenant Procope, mercilessly, "Gallia, seen from the earth, would not appear larger than a star of the seventh magnitude—that is to say, invisible to the naked eye!"

"In the name of a Bedouin!" cried Ben-Zouf; "that is a pretty comet; and it is on that that we are!"

"Silence!" said Palmyrin Rosette, beside himself with rage.

"A nut, a chick-pea, a grain of mustard!" Ben-Zouf continued to say, in revenge.

"Hold your tongue, Ben-Zouf," said Captain Servadac.

"A pin's head; what! A nothing of nothing at all!"

"Zounds! Will you be silent?"

Ben-Zouf understood that his captain was getting angry, and he left the room, but not without awakening, by his formidable bursts of laughter, all the echoes of the massive volcanic rock.

It was full time for him to go. Palmyrin Rosette was on the point of bursting out, and required some time to recover himself. It was because he no more wished any one to attack him about his comet than Ben-Zouf did about Montmartre. Each defended his property with the same obstinacy.

Finally, the professor recovered his speech, and, addressing himself to his pupils—that is to say, to his auditors:

"Gentlemen," said he, "we now know the diameter the circumference, the surface, and the volume of Gallia. That is something, but it is not all. I intend to obtain, by direct measure, its mass and its density, and to know what is the intensity of gravity at its surface."

"That will be difficult," said Count Timascheff.

"Never mind. I wish to know what my comet weighs, and I shall know it."

"What will render the solution of this problem less easy," observed Lieutenant Procope, "is that we are ignorant of what the substance is of which Gallia is formed."

"Ah! you do not know what this material is?" replied the professor.

"We do not know," said Count Timascheff; "and if you could instruct us in this respect—"

"Ah! gentlemen; what do I care!" said Palmyrin Rosette. "I shall solve my problem very well without that."

"Whenever you wish, dear professor, we shall be at your orders," then said Captain Servadac.

"I have still a month's observations and calculations to make," replied Palmyrin Rosette, in a sharp tone "and, doubtless, you would be very willing to wait till I finish."

"Now then, professor," replied Count Timascheff, "we will wait as long as you please."

"And even longer," added Captain Servadac, who could not keep back this pleasantry.

"Well, present yourselves in a month," replied Palmyrin Rosette, "on the 62d of April next!"

It was the 31st of July of the terrestrial year.



Meanwhile, Gallia continued to circulate in the interplanetary spaces under the attractive influence of the sun. Nothing, thus far, had hindered its movements. The planet Nerina, that she had taken into her service while traversing the zone of the asteroids, remained faithful to her, and conscientiously accomplished its little half-monthly revolution. It seemed as if everything would go without an impediment during the continuance of the Gallian year. But the great pre-occupation of the involuntary inhabitants of Gallia was always this: Would they ever again see the earth?

Was not the astronomer mistaken in his calculations? Had he really ascertained the new orbit of the comet and the duration of its revolution around the sun?

Palmyrin Rosette was so easily annoyed that they would not ask him to revise the results of his observations.

Then Hector Servadac, Count Timascheff and Procope did not cease to be uneasy on this account. As for the other colonists, it was the least of their cares. What resignation to their fate! What practical philosophy! The Spaniards above all, poor men in Europe, had never in their life been so happy! Negrete and his companions had never found themselves in such comfortable condition! What did it matter to them the path followed by Gallia? Why should they trouble themselves to know if the sun would hold it in its circle of attraction or if it should escape him to wander in other skies? They sang these lazy ones, and, as for the majos, what time is better employed than that which is past in singing?

The two happiest beings in the colony were, without doubt, young Pablo and little Nina. What nice parties they had together, running through the long galleries of Nina-Hive, in climbing the rocks of the sea shore. One day they skated farther than the eye could reach on the long, frozen surface of the sea. Another, they amused themselves fishing on the banks of the little lake, which the cascade of fire maintained in a liquid condition. This did not interfere with the lessons given them by Hector Servadac. They already made themselves perfectly understood, and, above all, they understood each other.

Why should this young boy and this little girl be occupied with the future? Why should they have regretted the past?

One day Pablo had said:

"Have you parents. Nina?"

"No, Pablo," replied Nina; "I am all alone. And you?"

"I am all alone also, Nina. And what did you do down there?"

"I took care of my goats, Pablo."

"I," replied the young boy, "I ran night and day before the teams of the diligences."

"But now we are no longer alone, Pablo."

"No, Nina, not at all alone; the governor is our papa, and the count and the lieutenant are our uncles."

"And Ben-Zouf is our comrade," went on Pablo.

"And all the others are very gentle," added Nina. "They spoil us, Pablo. Well, we must not let ourselves be spoiled. They must always be satisfied with us—always."

"You are so wise, Nina, that when with you one is obliged to be so also."

"I am your sister, and you are my brother," said Nina, gravely.

"Certainly," replied Pablo.

The grace and the gentleness of these two beings made them beloved by all. They were spared neither kind words nor sweet caresses, of which the goat, Marzy, had a little share, Captain Servadac and Count Timascheff felt for them a sincere and paternal affection. Why should they have regretted, Pablo, the burning plains of Andalusia, Nina, the sterile rocks of Sardinia? It seemed to them, in fact, that this world had always been theirs.

July arrived. At this epoch, and during this month, Gallia had but twenty-two millions of leagues to run over the length of its orbit, its distance from the sun being equal to one hundred and seventy-two millions of leagues. It was then a distance from the attractive star four and a half times that of the earth, whose velocity it almost equaled. In fact, the average velocity of the earth in passing over the ecliptic is about twenty-one millions of leagues a month, say twenty-eight thousand eight hundred leagues an hour.

On the 62d of the Gallian April a laconic note was addressed by the professor to Captain Servadac.

Palmyrin Rosette intended to commence on that day the operations which would enable him to calculate the mass, the density of his comet, and the intensity of its gravity at the surface.

Hector Servadac, Count Timascheff, and Procope were not inclined to fail at the meeting proposed to them. However, the experiments about to be made could not interest them to the same extent as the professor, and they would have much preferred learning what was the substance which seemed to alone compose the Gallian frame-work.

During the morning Palmyrin Rosette had joined them in the great room. He did not yet appear to be in a very bad humor; but the day had only commenced.

Every one knows what is meant by the intensity of gravity. It is the attractive force which the earth exerts on a body of a mass equal to the unity, and it will be remembered how this attraction had been lessened on Gallia—phenomenon which had naturally increased the muscular power of the Gallians; but in what proportion they did not know.

As for the mass, it is formed by the quantity of matter which constitutes a body, and this mass is represented by the gravity of the body. As for the density, it is the quantity a body contains within a given volume.

Then, the first question to resolve—What was the intensity of gravity on the surface of Gallia?

Second question—What was the quantity of matter contained in Gallia—that is to say what were its mass, and, consequently, its weight?

Third question—What was the quantity of matter comprehended in Gallia, its volume being known; in other words, what was its density?

"Gentlemen," said the professor, "to-day we are going to finish the study of the various elements which constitute my comet. When we learn the intensity, of gravity on the surface, its mass and its density by direct measure, she will no longer have any secrets from us. To sum up, we are going to weigh Gallia."

Ben-Zouf, who had just entered the room, heard the last words of Palmyrin Rosette.

He went out at once, without a word being said, and returned several minutes after, saying, in a bantering tone:

"I have ransacked the general store; I have found no scales, and besides, I do not really know where we could have hung them!"

While speaking thus, Ben-Zouf gazed outside, as if he was looking for a nail in the sky.

A look from the professor and a gesture from Hector Servadac silenced the jester.

"Gentlemen," continued Palmyrin Rosette, "I must know, to begin with, what a terrestrial kilogram weighs on Gallia. In consequence of the lesser mass of Gallia, its attraction is less, and the consequence of this fact is that any object weighs less on its surface than it would weigh on the surface of the earth. But what is the difference of the two weights? That is what we must learn."

"Nothing more correct," replied Lieutenant Procope "and ordinary scales—if we had them—would not do for this operation, because their two basins, being equally subjected to the attraction f Gallia, they could not give the relation between a Gallian weight and a terrestrial weight."

"In fact," added Count Timascheff, "the kilogram, for example, which you would use, would lose as much of its gravity as the object which it would serve to weigh, and—"

"Gentlemen," replied Palmyrin Rosette, "if you say that for my particular instruction, you lose your time, and I beg you to let me continue my course in physics."

The professor lectured more than ever ex cathedra.

"Have you a steelyard and the weight of a kilogram?" he asked. "All is in that. With a steelyard the weight is indicated by a steel wire or by a spring which, act on account of their flexibility or their tension. Attraction does not influence it in any manner. In effect, if I hang the weight of a terrestrial kilogram on my steelyard, the needle will mark exactly what his kilogram weighs on the surface of Gallia. I shall then know the digression which exists between the attraction of Gallia and the attraction of the earth, and I therefore reiterate my demand: Have you a steelyard?"

Palmyrin Rosette's listeners questioned each other with a glance. Then Hector Servadac turned to Ben-Zouf who knew exactly all the material of the colony.

"We have neither steelyard nor kilogram weight," said he.

The professor marked the discomfiture he felt by the vigorous kick with which he struck the ground.

"But," replied Ben-Zouf "but I think I know where there is a steelyard, as well as a weight."


"On Hakhabut's tartan."

"You should have said so at once, idiot," replied the professor, shrugging his shoulders.

"And, above all, we must go and get it!" added Captain Servadac.

"I will go there," said Ben-Zouf.

"I will accompany you," replied Hector Servadac, "for Hakhabut may make some trouble when the question is to lend, no matter what!"

"Let us all go together to the tartan," said Count Timascheff. "We shall see how Isaac is installed on board of the 'Hansa'."

This agreed upon, all were going out, when the professor said:

"Count Timascheff, could not one of your men cut from the rocky substance of the solid mass a block measuring exactly one decimeter cube?"

"My engineer can do it without trouble," replied Count Timascheff, "but on one condition: it is that he be furnished with a meter, so as to obtain exact measures."

"Have you no more meters than steelyards?" cried Palmyrin Rosette.

There was not a meter in the general store. Ben-Zouf had to make this painful confession.

"But," added he, "it is quite possible that one will be found on board the 'Hansa'."

"Let us set out then," replied Palmyrin Rosette, rushing with rapid steps into the principal gallery.

They followed him. A few minutes later, Hector Servadac, Count Timascheff, Procope and Ben-Zouf passed out on the high rocks that overlooked the seacoast. They descended to the bank, and directed their steps toward the narrow creek, where the "Dobryna" and the "Hansa" were imprisoned in their icy crust.

Although the temperature was extremely low—thirty-five degrees below zero—well-clothed, well-cowled, well-wrapped in their fur overcoats, Captain Servadac and his companions could face it without too much inconvenience. If their beard, their eye-brows, and eye-lashes were instantly covered with little crystals, it was because the vapor of their breath froze in the cold air. Their figures, their faces bristling with white needles, fine, sharp, like the quills of the porcupine, were comical to see. The face of the professor, which, in his little persone, resembled a bear's whelp, was still more crabbed.

It was eight o'clock in the morning. The sun traveled rapidly toward the zenith. His disc, considerably diminished by its remoteness, offered the appearance of the full moon in culmination. Its rays reached the soil without heat, and singularly weakened in their luminous properties. All the rocks of the seashore at the foot of the solid mass, and the volcanic mass itself, showed the immaculate whiteness of the last snows, fallen before the vapors had ceased to saturate the Gallian atmosphere. Behind, as far as the summit of the smoking cone which overlooked all this territory, was developed the immense carpet, unsoiled by any stain. On the northerly slope inclined the cascade of lava. There, the snows had given place to the torrents of fire which twined at the caprice of the descents as far as the bait of the central cavern; from there they fell perpendicularly to the sea.

Above the cavern, a hundred and fifty feet in the air, was hollowed a sort of black hole above, which still bifurcated the eruptive overflow. From this hole appeared the pipe of an astronomer's telescope. It was Palmyrin Rosette's observatory.

The strand was all white, and was confounded with the frozen sea. No line of demarkation separated them. Opposed to this immense whiteness, the heavens appeared to be of a pale blue. On this strand were graven the footsteps of the colonists, who walked there every day, whether they came to collect ice, the melting of which produced sweet water, or to exercise themselves in skating.

The curves of the skates crossed each other on the surface of the hard crust, like the circles which aquatic insects outline on the surface of the waters.

Imprints of steps also were directed from the coast to the "Hansa." They were the last left by Isaac Hakhabut before the fall of the snows. The pads which limited these impressions had acquired the hardness of bronze under the influence of excessive colds.

A half kilometer separated the first strata of the solid mass of this creek in which wintered the two vessels.

On arriving at the creek, Lieutenant Procope made thorn observe how the line between wind and water of the "Hansa" and the "Dobryna" had progressively risen. The tartan and the schooner now rose a twentieth of a foot above the surface of the sea.

"What a curious phenomenon!" said Captain Servadac.

"Curious and disquieting," replied Lieutenant Procope. "It is evident that it is going on under the hulls of the vessels; there, where the water is most shallow, an enormous work of freezing is taking place. Little by little the crust is thickening, and raising all that it supports with irresistible force."

"But this work will have a limit," observed Count Timascheff.

"I do not know," replied Lieutenant Procope, "for the cold has not yet attained its maximum."

"I hope not," cried the professor. "It is not worth the trouble to go two hundred millions of leagues from the sun only to find a temperature equal to that of the terrestrial poles."

"You are very good," replied Lieutenant Procope. "Very fortunately, the colds of space do not exceed sixty to seventy degrees, which is already very acceptable."

"Bah!" said Hector Servadac "cold without wind is cold without illness, and we shall not even sneeze during the winter."

Meanwhile Lieutenant Procope confided to Count Timascheff tile fears produced by the schooner's situation. Thanks to the superposition of the frozen layers, it was possible that the "Dobryna" would be raised to a considerable height. Under these conditions, in the thawing season, some catastrophe was to be feared, of the kind which often destroys whalers wintering in the Arctic seas. But what could be done?

They arrived near the "Hansa," enclosed in its carapace of ice. Steps, newly cut by Isaac Hakhabut allowed them to mount on board. What would he do if his tartan were raised a hundred feet in the air? That concerned him.

A light, bluish smoke escaped from the copper pipe which projected from the hard snow accumulated on the deck of the "Hansa." The miser burned his combustibles with extreme parsimony, that was evident; but he could suffer but little from cold. In fact, the layers of ice which enveloped the tartan, from the very circumstance that they were bad conductors of heat, would preserve a supportable temperature in the interior.

"Halloo, Nebuchadnezzar!" cried Ben-Zouf.



At the sound of Ben-Zouf's voice the door of the rear hood opened, and Isaac Hakhabut showed half his body.

"Who goes there?" cried he, at first. "What does any one want with me? There's nobody. I have nothing to lend nor to sell."

Such were the hospitable words which received the visitors.

"All right, Master Hakhabut," replied Captain Servadac, in an imperious voice. "Do you take us for robbers?"

"Ah! it is you, Mr. Governor-General," said Isaac without coming out of his cabin.

"Himself," replied Ben-Zouf, who had ascended to the deck of the tartan. "You ought to consider yourself honored by his visit. Let us go. Get out of that niche!"

Isaac Hakhabut had decided to show his whole person at the opening of the hood, of which he held the door half shut, in such a manner as to be able to push it rapidly in case of danger.

"What do you want?" demanded he.

"To talk a moment with you, Master Isaac," replied the captain; "but, the cold being somewhat severe, you will not refuse us a quarter of an hour's hospitality in your cabin?"

"What! you wish to enter?" cried Isaac, who did not seek to conceal how suspicious this visit seemed to him.

"We wish it," replied Hector Servadac, climbing up the steps, followed by his companions.

"I have nothing to offer you," said Isaac, in a pitiful voice. "I am only a poor man."

"Behold! the litanies commence again," replied Ben-Zouf. "Let us go, Elias; make way!"

And Ben-Zouf, seizing Hakhabut by the collar, put him aside without further ceremony. Then he opened the door of the hood.

At the moment of entering:

"Understand this, Hakhabut," said Captain Servadac, "we do not come to deprive you of your property in spite of you. I repeat it: on the day when the common interest will require us to dispose of the tartan's cargo, I shall not hesitate to do it—that is to say, to dispossess you for the cause of public utility—paying you the current prices of Europe for the merchandise."

"The current prices of Europe!" muttered Isaac Hakhabut, between his teeth. "No; but the current prices of Gallia—and it is I who will establish them!"

Meanwhile Hector Servadac and his companions had descended into the cabin of the "Hansa." It was only a narrow room, the largest space possible having been reserved for the cargo. A little cast-iron stove, where two pieces of charcoal tried not to burn, stood in a corner opposite a cot, which served as a bed. A cupboard, of which the door was carefully locked, occupied the back part of this lodging. A few stools, a pine table of doubtful cleanliness, and, in fact, kitchen utensils which were strictly necessary. The furniture, it may be seen, was not very comfortable, but worthy of the proprietor of the "Hansa."

Once in the cabin, Ben-Zouf's first care, after the door had been closed again, was to throw some pieces of charcoal into the stove—a precaution justified by the low temperature of the place. Whereupon recriminations and groans from Isaac Hakhabut, who, rather than waste his combustible, would have burned his own bones, if he had had any to put in their place. But no one listened to him. Ben-Zouf remained on guard, near the stove, in which he quickened the combustion by intelligent ventilation. Then the visitors, being seated as comfortably as possible, left to Captain Servadac the care of making known the object of their visit.

Isaac Hakhabut, standing in a corner, his hooked hands clasped together, resembled a culprit to whom one is reading his sentence.

"Master Isaac," then said Captain Servadac, "we have come here simply to ask a favor from you."

"A favor?"

"In our common interest."

"But I have no common interest!"

"Listen, then, and do not complain, Hakhabut. It is not a question of fleecing you!"

"To ask a favor of me—of me, a poor man!" cried the Jew, moaning.

"This is what is required," replied Hector Servadac, who pretended not to hear him.

By the solemnity of his preamble, he caused Isaac Hakhabut to believe that they were going to demand his whole fortune.

"In a word. Master Isaac," continued Captain Servadac, "we might have need of a steelyard! Can you lend us a steelyard?"

"A steelyard!" cried Isaac, as if they had asked to borrow several thousands of francs. "You say a steelyard?"

"Yes! A steelyard to weigh!" repeated Palmyrin Rosette, whom so many formalities commenced to make extremely impatient.

"Have you not a steelyard?" Lieutenant Procope asked again.

"He has one," said Ben-Zouf.

"In fact, yes—I believe," replied Isaac Hakhabut, who did not wish to advance.

"Well, Master Isaac, will you have the extreme obligingness to lend us your steelyard?"

"Lend!" cried Isaac. "Mr. Governor, you do not ask me to lend—"

"For a day!" replied the professor, "for a day, Isaac! We will return it to you, your steelyard!"

"But it is a very delicate instrument, my good sir," replied Isaac Hakhabut. "The spring may break with this great cold—"

"Ah, the animal!" cried Palmyrin Rosette.

"And, then, there may be an intention to weigh something very heavy?"

"Do you think, then, Ephraim," said Ben-Zouf, "that we wish to weigh a mountain?"

"More than a mountain!" replied Palmyrin Rosette. "We are going to weigh Gallia!"

"Mercy!" cried Isaac, whose false griefs tended toward a too visible end.

Captain Servadac interfered again.

"Master Hakhabut," said he, "we need a steelyard to weigh the weight of a kilogram at the most."

"A kilogram! God of Heaven!"

"And, besides, this weight will weigh considerably less, in consequence of the less attraction of Gallia. Thus, then, you have nothing to fear for your steelyard."

"Doubtless, Mr. Governor," replied Isaac. "But to lend—to lend—"

"As you do not wish to lend," then said Count Timascheff, "will you sell?"

"Sell!" cried Isaac Hakhabut, "sell my steelyard! But when I shall have sold it, how can I weigh my merchandise? I have no scales! I have only this poor little instrument—very delicate, very true—and you wish to deprive me of it!"

Ben-Zouf little understood why his captain did not at once strangle the frightful old man who withstood him. But Hector Servadac was amusing himself, it must be admitted, in exhausting with Isaac all possible forms of persuasion.

"Let us go, Master Isaac," said he, without getting at all angry. "I well see that you will not consent to lend this steelyard."

"Alas! how can I, Mr. Governor?"

"Nor sell it?"

"Sell it? Oh, never!"

"Well, will you hire it out?"

Isaac Hakhabut's eyes lit up like embers.

"You will answer for any accident?" he demanded, rather quickly.


"You will deposit in my hands a security, which will belong to me in case of misfortune?"


"How much?"

"A hundred francs for an instrument which is worth twenty. Is that sufficient?"

"Hardly—Mr. Governor—hardly; for, indeed, this steelyard is the only one there is in our new world! Finally," added he, "these hundred francs will be in gold?"

"In gold!"

"And you would wish to hire this steelyard, which is so necessary to me—you would wish to hire it for a day?"

"For a day."

"And the price of the renting?"

"Would be twenty francs," replied Count Timascheff. "Does that suit you?"

"Alas! I am not the strongest," murmured Isaac Hakhabut, clasping his hands. "I must be resigned." The bargain was concluded, and very evidently to the extreme satisfaction of Isaac. Twenty francs for the loan, a hundred francs for security, and the whole in French or Russian gold! Ah! it was not Isaac Hakhabut who would have sold his birth-right for a mess of pottage, or, indeed, the pottage would have been of pearls!

The trafficker, after throwing a suspicious look around him, left the cabin to get the steelyard.

"What a man!" said Count Timascheff.

"Yes," replied Hector Servadac; "in his way, he is too much of a success."

Almost immediately Isaac Hakhabut returned, carrying the instrument, fondly pressed under his arm.

It was a steelyard with a spring, furnished with a hook, to which would be suspended the object to be weighed. A needle, moving on a graduated circle, worked the weight. Thus, then, as Palmyrin Rosette had observed, the degrees indicated by this instrument were independent of gravity, whatever it might be. Made for terrestrial weighing, it would have marked on earth a kilogram for every object weighing a kilogram. For this same object, what would it indicate on Gallia? They would see that later.

One hundred and twenty francs in gold were counted out to Isaac, whose hands closed on the precious metal like the cover of a chest. The steelyard was committed to Ben-Zouf, and the visitors of the "Hansa" proposed to leave the cabin at once.

But, at this moment, the professor recollected that he still lacked an object indispensable to his operations. A steelyard was of no service to him if he could not suspend to it a block of this Gallian material, whose dimensions had been exactly measured; a block forming, for example, a cubic decimeter.

"Ah! that is not all," said Palmyrin Rosette, stopping. "It is also necessary to lend us—"

Isaac Hakhabut trembled.

"You must also lend us a meter and a weight of a kilogram."

"Ah! as to that, my good gentlemen," replied Isaac, "it is not possible, and I regret it very much. I should he so happy to oblige you."

And this time Isaac Hakhabut said the truth twice in affirming that he had not on board either meter or weight, and that he regretted not having them. He would have made an excellent bargain with them.

Palmyrin Rosette, extremely annoyed, regarded his companions as if he would wish to render them responsible for the fact. And he had cause for disappointment; for, without this measure, he did not see how he could obtain a satisfactory result.

"Then I must go away without that," murmured he, scratching his head. And he quickly ascended the ladder of the hood. His companions followed him. But they were not yet on the deck of the tartan when a silvery sound was heard in the cabin.

It was Isaac Hakhabut, who was carefully putting away his gold in one of the drawers of the cupboard.

At the noise, the professor turned quickly, and rushed toward the ladder, which all descended again not less precipitately, without at all understanding the movements of Palmyrin Rosette.

"You have some pieces of silver!" cried he seizing Isaac by the sleeve of his old fur overcoat.

"I!—silver," replied Isaac Hakhabut, as pale as if he found himself in the presence of a robber.

"Yes! some pieces of silver!" returned the professor, with extreme vivacity. "Those are French pieces! Five franc pieces!"

"Yes—no," replied Isaac, no longer knowing what he said.

But the professor was leaning over the drawer, which Isaac Hakhabut was trying in vain to shut. Captain Servadac, Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope, understanding nothing, but decided to sustain the professor, left the scene to develop itself without taking pan in it.

"Those French pieces, I must have them!" cried Palmyrin Rosette.

"Never!" cried the trafficker in his turn, to whom it seemed as if they wished to pluck out his entrails.

"It is necessary for me to have them, I tell you, and I shall have them!"

"You will kill me first!" shouted Isaac Hakhabut.

Then Captain Servadac thought it right to interfere. "My dear professor," said he, smiling, "let me settle this affair like the other."

"Ah! Mr. Governor," cried Isaac Hakhabut, quite undone, "protect me, protect my property!"

"Silence, Master Isaac," replied Captain Servadac.

Then, turning toward Palmyrin Rosette:

"You have need," he asked, "of a certain number of five-franc pieces for your operations?"

"Yes," replied the professor, "I need forty at first."

"Two hundred francs!" murmured the banker.

"And, besides," added the professor, "ten two-franc pieces and twenty pieces of fifty centimes."

"Thirty francs!" said a plaintive voice.

"In all, two hundred and thirty francs?" continued Hector Servadac.

"Yes, two hundred and thirty francs," replied Palmyrin Rosette.

"Well," said Captain Servadac. Then addressing Count Timascheff: "Count," said he, "would you still have the means to give Isaac a pledge to guarantee the forced loan which I am going to make?"

"My purse is at your disposal, captain," replied Count Timascheff; "but I have about me only paper roubles."

"Not paper! not paper!" cried Isaac Hakhabut. "Paper has no circulation on Gallia!"

"Has silver any more?" replied Count Timascheff, coolly.

"Master Isaac," then said Captain Servadac, "so far, your Jeremiads have found me in rather a good humor. But, believe me, do not abuse my patience any longer. With good grace or with bad, you are going to lend us those two hundred and thirty francs."

"Thieves!" cried Isaac.

But he could not continue, for Ben-Zouf's strong hand was already clutching his throat.

"Let him go, Ben-Zouf," said Captain Servadac "let him go. He is going to comply of his own accord."

"Never! never!"

"What interest do you demand Master Isaac, for lending us these two hundred and thirty francs?"

"A loan!—it is only a loan!" cried Isaac Hakhabut, whose whole face brightened in an instant.

"Yes, a simple loan. What interest do you exact?"

"Ah, Mr. Governor-General," replied the lender, mildly, "silver is very difficult to gain, and, above all, it is to-day very rare on Gallia."

"A truce with these absurd observations. What do you demand?" returned Hector Servadac.

"Well, Mr. Governor," replied Isaac Hakhabut, "it seems to me that ten francs as interest—"

"A day?"

"Certainly—a day."

He had scarcely finished his phrase when Count Timascheff threw on the table some roubles. Isaac seized them, and commenced to count the notes with remarkable quickness. Though it was only "paper," the security ought to satisfy the most rapacious of usurers.

The French pieces demanded by the professor were immediately given to him, and he pocketed them with evident satisfaction.

As to Isaac, he had just simply invested his funds for more than eighteen hundred per cent. Decidedly, if he continued to lend at this rate, he would make a fortune still more rapidly on Gallia than he would have done on the Earth.

A few moments after Captain Servadac and his companions had left the tartan, and Palmyrin Rosette exclaimed:

"Gentlemen, these are not two hundred and thirty francs that I am carrying; it is what makes precisely a kilogram and a meter.".



A quarter of an hour later, the "Hansa's" visitors were assembled in the common room, and the last words pronounced by the professor were going to be explained.

By order of the professor, Ben-Zouf had cleared the table of various objects which were laid upon it. The silver pieces borrowed from the Jew, Hakhabut, were placed on this table, according to their value, two piles of twenty five-franc pieces, one pile of ten two-franc pieces, and one pile of twenty pieces of fifty centimes.

"Gentlemen," said Palmyrin Rosette, very well satisfied with himself, "as you have not had the forethought, at the moment of the collision, to save a meter and a weight of one kilogram of the old terrestrial material, I have thought of the means of replacing those two objects which are indispensable to me in calculating the attraction, the mass, and the density of my comet."

This introduction was rather long, and such as every orator makes who is sure of himself and his auditors. Neither Captain Servadac, nor Count Timascheff, nor Lieutenant Procope, took up the singular reproach which Palmyrin Rosette addressed to them. They were used to his ways.

"Gentlemen," continued the professor, "I was sure, from the first, that these different pieces were almost new, and had been neither used nor clipped. They are, then, in the necessary conditions to assure to my operation all the exactitude desirable. And, at first, I am going to use them to obtain very precisely the length of the terrestrial meter."

Hector Servadac and his companions had comprehended the professor's thought even before lie had finished expressing it. As to Ben-Zouf, he regarded Palmyrin Rosette as he might have looked at a prestidigitator getting ready to perform his tricks in some stall at Montmartre.

Behold on what the professor based his first operation, the idea of which bad come to him suddenly, when he heard the pieces of money resound in Isaac Hakhabut's drawer.

It is known the French pieces are decimals, and form all the decimal money there can be between a centime and a hundred francs, that is to say: 1st, one, two, five, ten centimes in copper; 2d, twenty centimes, fifty centimes, one franc, two francs, five francs in silver; 3d five, ten, twenty, fifty and a hundred francs in gold.

Then above the franc there are all the decimal multiples of the franc• below, all the decimal parts of the franc. The franc is the standard.

Now—and it is on this point that Professor Palmyrin Rosette insisted at first—these different pieces of money have an exact caliber, and their diameter Is strictly determined by law, and made exact in the manufacture. Thus, to speak only of five-franc pieces, of two francs and of fifty centimes in silver, the first have a diameter of thirty-seven millimeters, the second a diameter of twenty-seven millimeters, and the third a diameter of eighteen millimeters. Then was it not possible, by placing together a certain number of the pieces of different values, to obtain an exact length, agreeing with the thousand millimeters that the terrestrial meter contains?

That could be done, the professor knew it, and that made him choose ten pieces of five francs from the twenty which he had brought, ten pieces of two francs, and twenty pieces of fifty centimes.

In fact, having rapidly made the following calculation on a bit of paper, he presented it to his auditors:

10 pieces of 5 francs at cm. 037 . . . cm. 370
10 pieces of 2 francs at cm. 027 . . . cm. 270
20 pieces of 50 centimes at cm. 018 . . cm. 360

Total 1 m. 000

"Very well, dear professor," said Hector Servadac, "it only remains for us to place together these forty pieces in such a manner that the same straight line may pass through their centers, and we shall have exactly the length of the terrestrial meter."

"In the name of a Kabyl!" cried Ben-Zouf; "it is a very fine thing to be learned!"

"He calls that being learned!" replied Palmyrin Rosette, shrugging his shoulders.

Then ten pieces of five francs were spread flat on the table, and placed close together, so that their centers were bound by the same straight line, then the ten pieces of two francs, then the twenty pieces of fifty centimes. A mark on the table indicated the two ends of the line thus formed.

"Gentlemen," then said the professor, "behold the exact length o the terrestrial meter."

The operation had just been made with extreme precision.

This meter, by means of a compass, was divided into ten equal parts, which gave decimeters. A rod having been cut of this length, they sent it to the engineer of the "Dobryna."

The latter, a very skillful man, having procured a block of that unknown material of which the volcanic rock was composed, had only to cut it, giving it a square decimeter for its six faces to obtain a perfect cube.

It was what Palmyrin Rosette had demanded.

The meter was obtained. It remained to obtain exactly a weight of a kilogram.

That was still easier.

In fact, the French pieces have not only a strictly exact caliber, but an exact weight.

And to speak only of the piece of five francs, it weighs exactly twenty-five grams, say the weight of five pieces of one franc each of which weighs five grams.

Weights of the different French pieces:

Gold—100 f. weigh 32 gr., 25.
50 f. weigh 16 gr., 12.
20 f. weigh 6 gr., 45.
10 f. weigh 3 gr., 22.
5 f. weigh 1 gr., 61.

Silver—5 f. weigh 25 gr.
2 f. weigh 10 gr.
1 f. weighs 5 gr.
0 f. 50 weighs 2 gr., 5.

Copper—0 f. 10 weigh 10 gr.
0 f. 05 weigh 5 gr.
0 f. 02 weigh 2 gr.
0 f. 01 weigh 1 gr.

It was then sufficient to group forty pieces of five francs in silver to have the weight of a kilogram.

Captain Servadac and his companions understood that at once.

"Let us go! let us go," said Ben-Zouf, "I see very well, for all that, it is not enough to be learned it is also necessary—"

"And what?" asked Hector Servadac.

"It is also necessary to be rich!"

And all laughed at brave Ben-Zouf's observation.

Finally, some hours later, the decimeter cube of stone was cut with quite sufficient precision, and the engineer put it into the professor's hands. Palmyrin Rosette, possessing a weight of a kilogram, a cubic decimeter block, and, lastly, a steelyard to weigh them successively, was ready to calculate the attraction, the mass, and the density of his comet.

"Gentlemen," said he, "in case you should not know it, or, at least, in case you no longer know it, I ought to remind you of Newton's celebrated law, that all bodies attract each other in direct proportion to their mass, and inversely as the square of their distance. I beg you will no longer forget this principle."

How the professor lectured! but with what well-trained pupils he was dealing.

"Here is," continued he, "a collection of forty five-franc pieces put together in this bag. This collection would weigh exactly a kilogram on the earth. Then, if being on the earth, I hung it to the hook of this steelyard, the needle would mark a kilogram. Is it clear?"

In speaking thus, Palmyrin Rosette kept his eyes fixed on Ben-Zouf. In this he imitated Arago, who during his demonstrations, always looked at the one of his auditors who appeared to be the least intelligent, and when this hearer seemed to comprehend, Arago was sure of the clearness of his demonstration.

Hence this adventure, pleasantly told by the illustrious astronomer:

One day, in a drawing-room where he had just told this fact, a young man entered, whom Arago did not know, and from whom he had to submit to the most ardent salutations.

"To whom have I the honor of speaking?" Arago asked him.

"Oh, Mr. Arago, you ought to know me well, for I attend your course assiduously, and you do not cease looking at me during the whole time of the lesson!"

Indeed Captain Servadac's orderly was not unintelligent in his sphere; but he was ignorant, and that amounted to the same thing.

Now, Ben-Zouf having appeared convinced, the professor continued his demonstration in these terms:

"Well, gentlemen, this collection of forty pieces I am going to hang to the hook of the steelyard, and, as I am working on Gallia, we are going to know what it weighs on Gallia."

The collection was attached to the hook, the needle oscillated, stopped, and marked on the graduated circle one hundred and thirty-three grams.

"Then," continued Palmyrin Rosette, "that which weighs a kilogram on the Earth only weighs one hundred and thirty-three grams on Gallia—that is about seven times less. Is it clear?"

Ben-Zouf having made a sign of assent, the professor gravely continued his demonstration.

"And now you understand that the results I am going to obtain with a steelyard would be null with ordinary balances. In fact, the two basins in which I would put, on one side the collection, on the other the kilogram weight, would rest in equilibrium, because each would be diminished by a quantity precisely equal. Is that understood?"

"Even by me," replied Ben-Zouf.

"If then," continued the professor, "the weight is seven times less here than on the terrestrial globe, we ought to conclude from that that the intensity of gravity on Gallia is only the seventh of what it is on the surface of the earth."

"Perfect," replied Captain Servadac; "and now consider us satisfied on that point. Then, dear professor, let us pass to the mass."

"No; to the density first," replied Palmyrin Rosette. "In fact," said Lieutenant Procope, "knowing already the volume of Gallia, when we shall learn the density of it, the mass will be deduced quite naturally."

The lieutenant's reasoning was true, and there was nothing more except the calculation of the density of Gallia.

This is what the professor did. He took the block cut from the massive rock of the volcano—a block which measured exactly a cubic decimeter.

"Gentlemen," said he, "this block is made of that unknown material which, dearth your voyage of circumnavigation, you encountered everywhere in the surface of Gallia. Truly, it seems that my comet is composed only of this substance. The coast, the volcanic mountain, the territory to the north, as to the south, seem constituted only of this mineral, to which your ignorance of geology did not enable you to give a name."

"Yes; and we would indeed like to know what this substance is," said Hector Servadac.

"I believe then," continued Palmyrin Rosette, "I am right in reasoning as if Gallia was entirely and uniformly composed of this material even in its extreme depths. Now, here is a cubic decimeter of this material. What would it weigh on the earth? It would weigh exactly the weight it has on Gallia multiplied by seven, because—I repeat it—the attraction is seven times less on the comet than on the terrestrial globe. Do you understand, you who are looking at me with your round eyes?"

This was addressed to Ben-Zouf.

"No," replied Ben-Zouf.

"Well. I will not lose my time in making you understand. These gentlemen have understood me, and that is sufficient."

"What a bear!" murmured Ben-Zouf.

"Let us then, weigh this block," said the professor. "It is as if I should put the comet on the hook of my steelyard."

The block was hung on the steelyard, and the needle indicated on the circle one kilogram, thirteen hundred and thirty grams.

"One kilogram, thirteen hundred and thirty grams, multiplied by seven," cried Palmyrin Rosette, "give nearly ten kilograms. Then, the density of the earth being about five, the density of Gallia is double that of the earth, because it is worth ten! Without this circumstance the gravity, instead of being one-seventh of the earth on my comet, would only have been a fifteenth!"

In pronouncing these words the professor thought he had a right to feel proud.

If the earth excelled in volume, his comet excelled in density, and, truly, he would not have bartered one for the other.

Thus, then, at this moment, the diameter, the circumference, the surface, the volume, the density of Gallia, and the intensity of gravity on its surface were known. There remained to be calculated its mass, otherwise its weight.

This calculation was rapidly made. In fact, because a decimeter cube of Gallian material would weigh ten kilograms in terrestrial weighing, Gallia weighed as many times ten kilograms as its volume contained cubic decimeters. Now, this volume, as they knew, being two hundred and eleven millions, four hundred and thirty-three thousand, four hundred and sixty cubic kilometers, contained a number of decimeters represented by twenty-one figures, say two hundred and eleven quintillions, four hundred and thirty-three quadrillions, four hundred and sixty trillions. This same number gave then in terrestrial kilograms, the mass and the weight of Gallia.

It was, then, inferior to that of the terrestrial globe by four quintillions, seven hundred and eighty-eight quadrillions, five hundred and sixty-six trillions, five hundred and forty billions of kilograms.

"But what then does the earth weigh?" asked Ben-Zouf, truly stunned by these thousand millions of millions.

"First, do you know what a thousand millions is?" Captain Servadac asked him.

"Vaguely, my captain."

"Well, know then, that since• the birth of Jesus Christ, there have not yet elapsed a thousand millions of minutes, and that, if you owed a thousand millions, by giving a franc every minute since that epoch, you would not yet have finished paying."

"A franc a minute!" cried Ben-Zouf "but I should be ruined before a quarter of an hour. Well then, what does the earth weigh?"

"Five thousand eight hundred and seventy-five sextillions of kilograms," said the lieutenant, "a number formed by twenty-five figures!"

"And the moon?"

"Seventy-two sextillions of kilograms."

"Only?" replied Ben-Zouf; "and the sun?"

"Two nonillions," replied the professor: "a number which comprises thirty-one figures."

"Two nonillions!" cried Ben-Zouf; "within a few grams, no doubt!"

Palmyrin Rosette began to look crookedly at Ben-Zouf.

"Thus, then," said Captain Servadac, in conclusion, "all objects weigh seven times less on the surface of Gallia than on the surface of the earth."

"Yes," replied the professor: "and in consequence our muscular powers are increased six fold. A market-porter, who carries a hundred kilograms on the earth, would carry seven hundred on Gallia."

"That is the reason why we jump seven times higher," said Ben-Zouf.

"No doubt," replied Lieutenant Procope; "and if the mass of Gallia had been less, Ben-Zouf you would have jumped still higher."

"Perhaps, even, over the hill of Montmartre," added the professor, winking at Ben-Zouf in a manner to put him almost out of his wits.

"And on the other stars," asked Hector Servadac, "what is then the intensity of gravity?"

"You have forgotten," cried the professor. "Indeed you never were anything but a very poor scholar."

"I admit it to my shame!" replied Hector Servadac. "Well, the earth being one, the attraction on the moon is from zero sixteen; on Jupiter, two forty-five; on Mars, zero fifty; on Mercury, one fifteen; on Venus, zero ninety-two, almost equal to that of the earth on the sun, two forty-five. There, a kilogram on the earth weighs twenty-eight!"

"Thus," added Lieutenant Procope, "on the sun, a man constituted as we are, would raise himself with difficulty if he should fall, and a cannon ball would not go more than a few half scores of meters."

"A good battlefield for cowards!" said Ben-Zouf.

"But, no," retorted Captain Servadac, "because they would be too heavy to save themselves!"

"Well," said Ben-Zouf, "because we would be stronger, because we could jump higher. I regret that Gallia is not smaller than it is! It is true that would be difficult!"

This proposition could not but wound Palmyrin Rosette's self-love, as proprietor of the said Gallia. Thus, admonishing Ben-Zouf:

"Do you see that?" cried he. "Is not the head of this ignoramus light enough already! Let him take care, or a gust of wind will carry it oft some day!"

"Good!" replied Ben-Zouf, "I shall hold it with two hands!"

Palmyrin Rosette seeing that he could not have the last word with the headstrong Ben-Zouf, was going to retire when Captain Servadac stopped him with a gesture.

"Dear professor, pardon a single question. Do you not know of what substance Gallia is made?"

"May be so!" replied Palmyrin Rosette. "The nature of this material—its density which is ten—I dare to affirm—Ah I if that is so, I have what will confound this Ben-Zouf. Then let him dare to compare his hill with my comet!"

"And what would you dare to affirm?" demanded Captain Servadac.

"That this substance," continued the professor, scanning each syllable of his phrase, "that this substance is nothing less than a tellurure."

"Phew! a tellurure"—cried Ben-Zouf. "A tellurure of gold, a composite substance which is frequently found on earth and in this, if there is seventy per cent of tellure, I estimate that there is thirty per cent, of gold!"

"Thirty per cent!" cried Hector Servadac.

"Which, adding the specific gravities of these two bodies, makes a total of ten—say, precisely the figure which represents the density of Gallia."

"A comet in gold!" repeated Captain Servadac.

"The celebrated Maupertius thought that was quite possible, and Gallia proves him right."

"But, then," said Count Timascheff, "if Gallia falls on the terrestrial globe, it is going to change all the monetary conditions, because there are actually only twenty-nine billions, four hundred millions of gold in circulation."

"In fact," replied Palmyrin Rosette, "because this block of tellurure of gold which carries us weighs, in terrestrial weighing, two hundred and eleven quintillions, four hundred and thirty-three quadrillions, four hundred and sixty trillions of kilograms, it will bring to the Earth about seventy-one quintillions of gold. Now, at three thousand five hundred francs per kilogram that makes, in round numbers, two hundred and forty-six sextillions of francs—a number composed of twenty-four figures."

"And on that," replied Hector Servadac, "the value of gold will fall to nothing, and it will merit more than ever the qualification of 'base metal'."

The professor had not heard this observation. On his last reply, he had gone out majestically to ascend to his observatory.

"But," Ben-Zouf then demanded, "what good are all these calculations which this crusty old savant has just made like sleight-of-hand tricks?"

"For nothing!" replied Captain Servadac; "and it is precisely in that that lies the charm."



In fact Palmyrin Rosette had only studied science for the sake of science. He knew the ephemerides of the comet, its course through interplanetary space, the length of its revolution around the sun. The rest, mass, density attraction, and even the metallic value of Gallia, could only interest him and not his companions, desirous above all to find the earth at the point of its orbit and at the date indicated.

They then left the professor to his labors in pure science.

The next day was the first of August, or, to borrow Palmyrin Rosette's language, the sixty-third of the Gallian April. During this month, the comet which was going to travel sixteen million five hundred thousand leagues, ought to recede one hundred and ninety-seven millions of leagues from the sun. It must still traverse eighty-one million leagues on its trajectory, to attain its aphelion point, on the 15th of January. Departing from this point, it would tend to approach the sun. But then Gallia was advancing toward a marvelous world, which no human eye had yet been able to contemplate so near!

Yes, the professor was right in no longer leaving his observatory. Never had astronomer—and an astronomer is more than a man, because he lives beyond the terrestrial world—found himself with such a feast for his eyes. How lovely were these Gallian nights! Not a breath of air; not a vapor disturbed their serenity. The book of the firmament was there, all open, and might be read with an incomparable clearness.

This splendid world which Gallia was approaching was the world of Jupiter, the most important of those which the sun holds under its attractive power. Since the collision of the earth and the comet seven months had elapsed, and the latter had journeyed rapidly to-ward the superb planet which was advancing before it. At this date of the 1st of August, the two stars were only separated by sixty-one millions of leagues, and till the 1st of November they would gradually approach each other. Was there not danger in this? In revolving so near Jupiter was not Gallia playing a desperate game? The attractive power of the planet, whose mass was so considerable in comparison with it, might it not exert a disastrous influence over it? Certainly, in calculating the duration of Gallia's revolution, the professor had taken exact account of the perturbation which not only Jupiter, but also Saturn and Mars would cause it. But, if he was mistaken in the extent of these perturbations, if his comet should experience more important delays than he expected? If even this terrible Jupiter, this eternal deluder of comets—

Finally, as Lieutenant Procope explained it, if the astronomer's calculations were erroneous, a quadruple danger menaced Gallia.

1st. Whether Gallia, irresistibly attracted by Jupiter would fall on its surface and he annihilated.

2d. Whether, only captured, it would pass to the state of a satellite, perhaps even of a secondary satellite.

3d. Whether, drawn from its trajectory it would follow a new orbit which would not bring it back to the ecliptic.

4th. Whether retarded ever so little by the disturbing star, it would arrive on the ecliptic too late to find the earth again.

It will be remarked that, of these four dangers, one would be sufficient to cause the Gallians to lose all chance of returning to their native globe.

It must now be observed that, of these four contingencies, in case they should happen, Palmyrin Rosette would only fear two of them. That Gallia should pass to the condition of a moon or sub-moon of the Jovian world, could not suit this adventurous astronomer; but, after having missed the meeting with the earth, to continue to gravitate around the sun, or even to traverse the starry spaces across that nebula of the milky way of which all the visible stars seem to form a part that would please him very much. It may be conceived that his companions were irresistibly taken with the desire to return to the terrestrial globe, where they had left families and friends; but Palmyrin Rosette had no longer any family; he had no friends, never having had the time to make them. With his peculiar character, how could behave succeeded in doing so? Then, because he had this exceptional chance of being carried through space on a new star, he would have given everything to remain on it forever.

A month passed in this way, between the fears of the Gallians and the hopes of Palmyrin Rosette. On the first of September the distance of Gallia from Jupiter was no more than thirty-eight millions of leagues—precisely that which separates the earth from its attracting center. On the 15th this distance was no more than twenty-six millions of leagues. The planet grew larger in the firmament, and Gallia seemed to be attracted toward it, as if its elliptical course might be changed into a rectilineal descent under the influence of Jupiter.

It is a considerable planet, in fact, this one which then threatened to disturb Gallia. A stumbling-block truly dangerous! We know, according to Newton, that the attraction between bodies is in proportion to their masses, and inversely as to the square of their distances. Now, the mass of Jupiter was very considerable, and the distance at which Gallia would pass it by would be relatively much reduced.

In fact, the diameter of this giant is thirty-five thousand seven hundred and ninety leagues, say eleven times the terrestrial diameter, and its circumference measures one hundred and twelve thousand four hundred and forty leagues. Its volume equals fourteen hundred and fourteen times that of the earth—that is to say, it would take fourteen hundred and fourteen terrestrial globes to equal its bulk. Its mass is three hundred and thirty-eight times greater than that of the terrestrial spheroid; otherwise, say it weighs one hundred and thirty-eight times more—say nearly two octillions of kilogrammes—a number composed of twenty-eight figures. If its average density, deducted from its mass and its volume, is not equivalent to the fourth of that of the earth, and only exceeds one-third the density of water, whence this hypothesis that the enormous planet is, perhaps, liquid, at least at its surface? Its mass was not less disturbing for Gallia.

It should be added, to finish the physical description of Jupiter, that it accomplishes its revolution around the sun in eleven years, ten months, seventeen days, eight hours and forty-two terrestrial minutes; that it moves with a velocity of thirteen kilometers per second through an orbit of twelve hundred and fourteen millions of leagues; that its rotation on its axis occupies only nine hours and fifty-five minutes, which singularly reduces the length of its days; that, consequently, each of its points at the equator changes its place twenty-seven times more rapidly than one of the equatorial points of the earth, which gives to each of its poles a depression of nine hundred and ninety-five leagues; that the axis of the planet is almost perpendicular to the plane of its orbit, whence this result:

That the days are equal to the nights, and but slight variations of the seasons, the sun remaining almost invariably in the plane of the equator; finally, that the intensity of the light and heat received by the planet is only the twenty-fifth of their intensity on the surface of the earth for Jupiter follows an elliptical trajectory which puts It, at the nearest point, one hundred and eighty-eight millions of leagues from the sun, and at the most distant point two hundred and seven millions. It remains to speak of the four moons, which, sometimes united on the same horizon, sometimes separated, illumine magnificently the Jovian nights.

Of these four satellites, one revolves around Jupiter at a distance almost equal to that which separates the moon from the earth. Another is a little smaller than the star of the night. But all accomplish their revolution with much greater rapidity than the moon; the first, in one day, eighteen hours, twenty-eight minutes; the second, in three days, thirteen hours, forty minutes; the third, in seven days, three hours, forty-three minutes; and the fourth in sixteen days, sixteen hours, and thirty-two minutes. The most distant revolves at a distance of four hundred and sixty-five thousand, one hundred and thirty leagues from the surface of the planet. It is known that it was by the observation of these satellites, whose movements are known with absolute precision, that the velocity of light was first determined. They may also serve in the calculation of terrestrial longitude.

"We may, then, represent Jupiter to ourselves," said Lieutenant Procope, one day, "as an enormous watch, of which the satellites form the hands, and which measures time with perfect exactness."

"A watch a little too large for my watch-pocket," replied Ben-Zouf.

"I will add," said the lieutenant, "that if our watches have at the most three hands, that one has four."

"Let us take care that it may not soon have a fifth," replied Captain Servadac, thinking of the danger which Gallia ran of being changed into a satellite of the Jovian System.

It may well be supposed that this world, which to their eyes grew larger each day, was the only object of conversation with Captain Servadac and his companions. They could not take their eyes off of it; they could not speak of anything else.

One day the conversation was on the age that these different planets must have, and Lieutenant Procope could not reply better than by reading this passage from the "Recitals of the Infinite," by Flammarion, of which he had the Russian translation:

"The most distant (of these stars) are the oldest and the most advanced in the way of progress. Neptune, situated at eleven hundred millions of leagues from the sun was sent forth first from the solar nebula billions of centuries ago. Uranus, which gravitates seven hundred million of leagues from the common center of planetary orbits, is several hundred million of centuries old. Jupiter, colossus, soaring at a hundred and ninety millions of leagues, is seventy millions of centuries old. Mars counts ten times a hundred million of years in its existence; its distance from the sun is fifty-six millions of leagues. The earth, at thirty-seven millions of leagues from the sun, was sent forth from its burning bosom a hundred million of years ago. It is, perhaps, only fifty millions of years since Venus was sent from the sun—it gravitates at a distance of twenty-six millions of leagues—and only ten millions of years since Mercury (distance, fourteen million) was born of the same origin, while the moon was brought forth by the earth."

Such was the new theory which brought this reflection from Captain Servadac: "That, taking everything into consideration, better be captured by Minerva than by Jupiter. We would then serve a master younger, and probably less difficult to please!"

During the last fortnight of the month of September, Gallia and Jupiter continued to approach each other. It was on the first of this month that the comet had crossed the orbit of the planet, and it was on the first day of the following month that the two stars would be at their shortest distance from each other. A direct collision was not to be feared, because the planes of the orbits of Jupiter and Gallia did not coincide; meanwhile they were slightly inclined to each other. In fact, the plane in which Jupiter moved only made an angle 1° 19' with the ecliptic; and we have not forgotten that the ecliptic and the orbit of the comet, since the collision, were projected in the same plane.

During these fifteen days, for an observer more disinterested than the Gallians, Jupiter would have been worthy of all admiration. Its disc, illumined by the solar rays reflected them on Gallia with a certain intensity. Objects more illumined on its surface took new tints. Narina, itself, when it was found in opposition with Jupiter, and consequently in conjunction with the sun, was faintly visible during the night. Palmyrin Rosette, immovably installed in his observatory, his telescope directed toward the marvelous star, seemed eager to penetrate the last mysteries of the Jovian world. This planet, which a terrestrial astronomer has never seen nearer than one hundred and fifty millions of leagues, was going to approach to a distance of only thirteen millions of leagues from the enthusiastic professor.

As to the sun from the distance at which Gallia was then revolving, it appeared only under the form of a disc, measuring five minutes and forty-six seconds in diameter. Some days before Jupiter and Gallia had arrived at their shortest distance, the satellites of the planet were visible to the naked eye. It is known that, without a telescope, it is impossible to perceive from the earth the moons of the Jovian world. Meanwhile a few privileged ones, gifted with exceptional power of vision, have seen the satellites of Jupiter without the help of instruments. Among others, the scientific annals cite Moestlin, the professor of Kepler, a Siberian hunter, according to Wrangel, and according to Bogulawski, director of the Observatory at Breslau, a master tailor of that city. In admitting this penetration of sight with which these mortals were gifted, they would have had numerous rivals if they had, at this epoch, inhabited Hot-Land and the cells of Nina-Hive. The satellites were visible to all eyes. They could even observe that the first was white, more or less clear; the second slightly bluish, the third of an immaculate whiteness the fourth sometimes orange, sometimes reddish. It must also be added that Jupiter at this distance seemed to be entirely destitute of scintillation.

If Palmyrin Rosette continued to observe the planet as an astronomer purely disinterested, his companions feared always a delay or an attraction that might be changed into a fall.

The days meanwhile glided by, without justifying these last apprehensions. Would, then, the disturbing star have no other effect than to produce on Gallia the perturbations indicated by the calculations? If a direct fall was not to be feared, on account of the initial impulse given to the comet, would this impulse suffice to maintain it within the limits of these perturbations, which, all calculations made, should allow it to accomplish its revolution around the sun in two years? This was, without doubt, what Palmyrin Rosette was observing, but it would have been difficult to draw from him the secret of his observations.

Sometimes Hector Servadac and his companions talked about it.

"Bah!" replied Captain Servadac; "if the duration of the Gallian revolution were modified, if Gallia experienced unforeseen delays, my professor could not conceal his satisfaction. He would be too happy to plague us, and, without directly questioning him, we know well what we are in for!"

"God grant, after all," said Count Timascheff, "that he has made no error in his first calculations!"

"He—Palmyrin Rosette—commit an error!" replied Hector Servadac: "that seems to me improbable. It cannot be denied that he is an observer of the greatest merit. I believe in the exactness of his first calculations touching the revolution of Gallia, as I shall believe in the exactness of his second ones, if he affirms that we must renounce all hope of returning to the earth."

"Well captain," then said Ben-Zouf, "do you wish me to tell you what puzzles me?"

"Tell us what puzzles you, Ben-Zouf."

"Your savant spends all his time in his observatory, does he not?" asked the orderly, in the tone of a man who has reflected profoundly.

"Yes, without doubt," replied Hector Servadac.

"And day and night," went on Ben-Zouf, "his infernal glass is pointed at this Mr. Jupiter who wishes to swallow us."

"Yes—what then?"

"Are you very sure, captain, that your old professor does not attract it, little by little, with his cursed telescope?"

"Ah, quite sure!" replied Captain Servadac, with a burst of laughter.

"Enough, captain, enough!" said Ben-Zouf, who bent his head with an air of not being convinced. "That does not seem as sure to me as to you, and I have to bind myself hand and foot, so as—"

"Well?" asked Hector Servadac.

"So as not to demolish his instrument of misfortune."

"Break his telescope, Ben-Zouf?"

"In a thousand pieces!"

"Well, try, and I will have you hung."

"Oh! hung?"

"Am I not Governor-General of Gallia"

"Yes, captain," replied Ben-Zouf.

And, in fact, had he been condemned, he would have put the rope around his own neck rather than deny for an instant the power of life and death to "his excellency."

On the first of October the distance between Jupiter and Gallia was no more than eighteen millions of leagues. The planet then found itself at a distance from the comet one hundred and eighty times greater than the moon is from the earth at its greatest deviation. Now, we know that, if Jupiter were brought to the distance which separates the moon from the terrestrial sphere, its disc would present a diameter thirty-four times as large as that of the moon—say, on the surface, twelve hundred times the lunar disc. To the eyes of the observer on Gallia, it showed, even at that time, a disc of immense area.

They distinctly saw the bands, of various shades, which striped it parallelly to the equator—bands grayish to the north and to the south, alternately dark or luminous at the poles, while leaving in a more intense light the extreme rim of the star. Some spots, easily recognizable, marred here and there the purity of these bands, transversal and varied in form and grandeur.

These bands and these spots—were they not the product of the atmospheric disturbances of Jupiter? Their presence, their nature, their displacement—could these be explained by the accumulation of vapors, by the formation of clouds carried on aerial currents, which, like the trade-winds, are spread in a direction inverse to the rotation of the planet on its axis? It was something that Palmyrin Rosette could no more affirm than his colleagues of earthly observatories. If he should return to the earth, he would not have had even the consolation of having surprised one of the most interesting secrets of the Jovian world.

During the second week of October the fears were greater than ever. Gallia would arrive at full speed at the dangerous point. Count Timascheff and Captain Servadac, generally a little reserved, if not cold, in regard to each other, felt themselves drawn nearer by this common danger. They kept up a constant interchange of ideas. When, at times they considered the party as lost, the return to earth as impossible, they then allowed themselves to explore this future which awaited them in the solar system—perhaps, even, in the sidereal system. They resigned themselves in advance to this fate. They saw themselves transported into a new humanity, and inspired with a large philosophy, which, refusing the narrow conception of a world made solely for man, embraces the whole extent of an inhabited universe.

But at the bottom, when they closely examined themselves, they felt that all hope could not abandon them, and that they could not renounce seeing the earth again, even though she might appear on the horizon of Gallia, in the midst of thousands of stars in the firmament. Besides, should they escape the dangers caused by the vicinity of Jupiter—Lieutenant Procope had often repeated it to them—Gallia would no longer have anything to fear, neither from Saturn too far away; nor from Mars, whose orbit she would recut in returning toward the sun. Therefore, what a hurry they were all in to have, like William Tell, "cleared the fatal passage!"

On the fifteenth of October, the two stars were at the shortest interval which should separate them, if it did not produce new perturbations. The distance was only thirteen millions of leagues. Then, would the attractive power of Jupiter carry it away, or would Gallia continue to follow its own orbit, without experiencing any delays but those that had been calculated?

Gallia passed.

And they saw it well the next day, to the fearful disappointment of Palmyrin Rosette. If he triumphed as a calculator, he was vanquished as a seeker of adventures. He who should have been the most satisfied of astronomers, he was the most unhappy of Gallians!

Gallia, following its immutable trajectory, continued to gravitate around the sun, and, consequently, to travel toward the earth.



"Hurrah! I think we have escaped beautifully!" cried Captain Servadac, when the disappointment of the professor had shown him that all perils had vanished. Then, addressing his companions, no less satisfied than he was:

"What shall we have done, on the whole? Made a simple voyage in the solar system—a voyage of two years? But they make them on the earth which last longer. Then, so far, we have nothing to complain about, and if all goes well henceforth before fifteen months we shall be reinstated in our habitual spheroid."

"And see Montmartre again?" added Ben-Zouf.

In truth, it was fortunate that the Gallians had "cleared this boarding," as a sailor would say. In effect, admitting even that, under the influence of Jupiter, the comet had suffered a delay of an hour only, the earth would have been nearly a hundred thousand leagues from the precise point where it ought to encounter her. In what lapse of time would these conditions be again produced? Centuries—millenniums!—might they not elapse before a second meeting could be possible? Yes, without doubt. Besides, if Jupiter had disturbed Gallia to the extent of changing either the plane or the shape of its orbit, it might be forever, perhaps, that it would continue to gravitate either in the solar system or in sidereal space.

On the first of November, the distance which separated Jupiter and Gallia measured seventeen millions of leagues. In two months and a half the comet would pass its aphelion—that is to say at its greatest distance from the sun—and on starting from this point it would tend to approach him.

The luminous and calorific properties of the radiant star seemed then singularly weakened. Twilight only lit up the objects on the surface of the comet. The light and the heat there were no more than a twenty-fifth of those that the sun sent to the earth. But the attractive, star was always there. Gallia had not ceased to be subjected to its power. They would soon approach it. They were going to renew life in returning toward this flaming center, whose temperature is estimated at not less than five millions of degrees. This near prospect would have reanimated the Gallians morally and physically, had they ever been men to give up.

And Isaac Hakhabut? Had the egotist known of the apprehensions felt by Captain Servadac and his companions during these last months?

No; in no manner. Isaac Hakhabut had not left the "Hansa" since the loan which had been made to his great profit. The very day after that on which the professor had finished his operations, Ben-Zouf had promptly brought back his silver money and his steelyard. The hire and the interest were already in his hands. He had only to return the paper roubles which served for security, and his relations with the inhabitants of Nina-Hive were thus ended.

But, at the same time, Ben-Zouf told him that the whole soil of Gallia was composed of good gold, with no value, it was true, and, which, seeing its abundance, would have no more when it should fall on the earth.

Isaac had, naturally, thought that Ben-Zouf was laughing at him. He had put no faith in these histories, and, more than ever, he dreamed of getting all the monetary substance of the Gallian Colony.

Thus Nina-Hive had not been once honored by a visit from the good Hakhabut. "And it is astonishing," Ben-Zouf would sometimes observe, "how easily we accustom ourselves to never seeing him!"

Now, at this period, Isaac Hakhabut thought of resuming his relations with the Gallians. It was because his interest required it. For one reason, certain stocks of his goods commenced to deteriorate. For another it was important for him that they should be changed for silver before the comet should rejoin the earth. In fact, these goods, brought back to the terrestrial globe, would only have an ordinary value. On the Gallian market, on the contrary, they ought to reach high prices, on account of their scarcity, and on account of the necessity—Isaac knew it well—that every one would be under, of applying to him.

Just at this time, different articles of the first necessity—oil, coffee, sugar, tobacco, etc.—were about exhausted in the general storehouse. Ben-Zouf had brought the subject to his captain's notice. The latter faithful to the rule of conduct which he had imposed on himself with Isaac Hakhabut, took the resolution of making a requisition on the merchandise of the "Hansa," by means of cash.

This concordance of ideas between the seller and the buyers ought then to lead Isaac to take up again, and even to establish, regular relations with the inhabitants of Hot-Land. Thanks to his sales, which would necessarily be high, Isaac Hakhabut might well hope to monopolize before long, all the gold and all the silver of the colony.

"Only," he said to himself, while meditating in his narrow cabin, "the value of my cargo is greater than that of the money which those men have to spend. Now, when I shall have all in my box, how will they be able to buy the rest of my goods from me?"

This contingency did not cease to disturb the worthy man. All the time he remembered, quite to the purpose, that he was not only a trader but also a lender, or, to use the right word, a usurer. Might he not then continue on Gallia this lucrative method, which succeeded so well with him on the earth? The last operation he had made of this kind had been very enticing.

Now, Isaac Hakhabut—logical mind—was led little by little to the following reasoning:

"When these men have no more money I shall still have merchandise, because it will always be held at high prices. Who will then hinder me from lending to them; I mean to those whose signature seems to me good? Ha! ha! for having been signed on Gallia, these notes will be none the less good on the earth. If they are not paid at maturity, I will have them protested, and the sheriff's officers will come forward. The Eternal does not forbid men to make the most of their own. On the contrary, there are there a Captain Servadac, and above all, a Count Timascheff who appears to me solvent and who will not regard time rate of interest. Ah! I shall not be sorry to lend those gentlemen some money, redeemable in the true world!"

Without knowing it, Isaac Hakhabut was about to imitate a proceeding which the Gauls formerly employed. They loaned on notes payable in the other life. For them, it is true, the other life was that of eternity. For Isaac, it was the terrestrial life to which, before fifteen months' luck, good for him, bad for his debtors, would probably return him.

In consequence of all which has just been said, even as the earth and Gallia traveled irresistibly one toward the other, so Isaac Hakhabut was about to take a step toward Captain Servadac, who was just then directing his steps toward the proprietor of the tartan.

The meeting took place during the day of the fifteenth of November, in the cabin of the "Hansa." The prudent merchant was very guarded in offering, because he knew well that they came to ask.

"Master Isaac," said Captain Servadac, who entered on a matter without preamble or artifice of any kind, "we need coffee, tobacco, oil, and other articles with which the 'Hansa' is supplied. To-morrow, Ben-Zouf and I will come to buy what we want."

"Mercy!" cried Isaac whom this exclamation always escaped, whether justified or not.

"I have said," went on Captain Servadac, "that we are coming to 'buy,' you understand? Buy I imagine that is to receive merchandise under a fixed price. Consequently, you have no cause to commence your Jeremiads."

"Ah! governor," replied Isaac, whose voice trembled like that of a poor devil who asks for alms; "I understand well! I know that you will not let them rob a poor merchant whose whole fortune is so compromised!"

"It is not at all compromised, Isaac; and I repeat to you that they will take nothing without paying for it."

"Without paying—cash?"


"You understand, governor," went on Isaac Hakhabut, "that it is impossible for me to give credit—"

Captain Servadac, following his custom, and in order to study this type under all circumstances, let him go on. Seeing this, the other continued in his best style:

"I believe—yes—I think—that there are in Hot-Land very honorable people. I mean very solvent—Count Timascheff—the governor himself."

Hector Servadac had, for an instant, a wish to pay him a part with a kick.

"But you understand," went on Isaac Hakhabut, sweetly, "if I gave credit to one it would embarrass me very much to refuse another. That would lead to unpleasant scenes; and I think it would be best to give credit to no one."

"That is my advice," replied Hector Servadac.

"Ah!" continued Isaac, "I am quite rejoiced at the thought that the governor sees matters as I do. That is understanding trade as it ought to be understood. Shall I dare to ask the governor in what kind of money the payments will be made?"

"In gold, in silver, in copper, and when this money is exhausted, in bank notes."

"In paper!" cried Isaac Hakhabut. "That is what I feared!"

"Then you have no confidence in the banks of France, of England, and of Russia?"

"Ah, governor, it is only a good metal, gold and silver, which has a real value."

"Therefore," replied Captain Servadac, who seemed quite amiable "therefore, I have told you, Master Isaac, that at first you would be paid in gold and silver current on the earth."

"In gold! in gold!" exclaimed Isaac, quickly. "It is still the money, above all other money."

"Yes, in gold, above all, Master Isaac, for it is exactly gold which is most abundant on Gallia—Russian gold, English gold, French gold."

"Oh! the good golds!" murmured Isaac, whose cupidity induced him to put "in the plural" this substantive so well appreciated through all the world.

Captain Servadac was going away.

"Then it is settled, Master Isaac," said he, "for tomorrow?"

Isaac Hakhabut went toward him.

"Governor," said he, "will you permit me to ask you a last question?"


"I shall be free shall I not, to assign to my goods any price I please?"

"Master Hakhabut," replied Captain Servadac, quietly, "it would be my right to fix a maximum; but I repudiate these revolutionary proceedings. You will assign to your goods the customary prices in European markets, and no others."

"Mercy, governor!" cried Isaac, touched to the quick; "but that is depriving me of a legitimate profit! It is contrary to all commercial rules! I have the right to rule the market, because I hold all the goods. In justice, you cannot oppose it, governor. It is really to rob me of my goods!"

"European prices" replied Captain Servadac, quietly.

"How! Here is a situation to profit by."

"It is exactly what I wish to prevent you from doing."

"Never will such an occasion present itself again."

"To fleece your fellow-beings, Master Isaac. Well, I am sorry for you; but do not forget that, in the common interest, I would have the right to dispose of your goods."

"Dispose of what legitimately belongs to me in the eyes of the Eternal!"

"Yes, Master Isaac," replied the captain; "but I should lose my time in trying to make you understand this very simple truth. Then play the part of obeying me, and be satisfied to sell at any price, when we could oblige you to give."

Isaac Hakhabut was going to recommence his lamentations; but Captain Servadac cut them short by retiring, with these last words:

"European prices, Master Isaac; European prices!" Isaac passed the rest of the day in uttering invectives on the governor and all the Gallian colony who pretended to fix "the maximum" as in the bad times of the revolutions; and he only seemed to console himself, in a certain measure, after making this reflection, to which he evidently attached a peculiar meaning.

"Go! go! men of a bad race. I shall submit to your European prices! But I shall gain much more than you think!"

The next day, November 16th, Captain Servadac, who wished to watch the execution of his orders, Ben-Zouf, and two Russian sailors, repaired to the tartan at the break of day.

"Well, Eleazer," called Ben-Zouf at once: "how does that go, old rascal?"

"You are very good, M. Ben-Zouf," replied Isaac.

"We come, then, to make a little friendly trade with you."

"Yes!—friendly trade!—but in payment—"

"European prices," Captain Servadac contented himself by adding.

"Good—good!" continued Ben-Zouf. "You will not wait long after your reckoning!"

"What do you want?" asked Isaac Hakhabut.

"For to-day," replied Ben-Zouf, "we want coffee, tobacco and sugar, a dozen kilos of each of these articles. But pay attention and serve us with a good quality, or look out for your old bones! I know about it being to-day corporal in ordinary!"

"I thought you were the aid-de-camp of the governor-general?" said Isaac.

"Yes, caiaphas, in grand ceremonies, but corporal when the question is going to market. Let us begin; let us not lose our time!"

"You say, Mr. Ben-Zouf, ten kilos of coffee, ten kilos of sugar and ten kilos of tobacco?"

And thereupon Isaac Hakhabut left his cabin descended into the hold of the "Hansa," and soon returned, carrying first ten packages of tobacco of the excise of France, perfectly enveloped in bands, stamped, and each weighing one kilogram.

"Here are ten kilograms," said he. "At twelve francs the kilogram, that makes one hundred and twenty francs."

Ben-Zouf was going to pay the regular price, when Captain Servadac, stopping him, said:

"A minute, Ben-Zouf. We must see if the weight is exact."

"You are right, captain."

"To what purpose?" replied Isaac Hakhabut. "You see that the envelope of these packages is intact and that the weight is indicated on the bands."

"Never mind Master Isaac!" replied Captain Servadac, in a tone which permitted no reply.

"Go on, old man, take your steelyard," said Ben-Zouf.

Isaac went for his steelyard, and he hung on the hook a package of tobacco of one kilogram.

"My God!" cried he all at once.

And, in truth, there was something to provoke this sudden exclamation on his part.

In virtue of the lightness of gravity on the surface of Gallia, the needle of the steelyard marked but one hundred and thirty-three grams for the package weighing a terrestrial kilogram.

"Well, Master Isaac," replied the captain, who preserved an imperturbable gravity, "you see very well that I was right in obliging you to weigh this package."

"But, governor—"

"Add what is needed to make up the kilogram."

"But, governor—"

"Go on; add—" said Ben-Zouf.

"But, Mr. Ben-Zouf—"

And the unhappy Isaac could not get out of it. He had understood very well the phenomenon of decreased attraction. He saw well that all "these miscreants" were going to get even with him, in the diminution of weight, for the price that he would oblige his buyers to pay him. Ah! if he had but had ordinary weights, this could not have happened: but he had none.

He tried to protest again, to soften Captain Servadac. The latter seemed determined to remain inflexible. It was not his fault, nor that of his companions; but he insisted that the needle of the steelyard should indicate a kilogram when he paid for a kilogram.

Isaac Hakhabut was obliged to execute it, not without mingling his groans with the shouts of laughter of Ben-Zouf and the Russian sailors. What jokes! what puns! In the end, for a kilogram of tobacco he had to give seven, and it was the same with the sugar and the coffee.

"Go then, Harpagon!" repeated Ben-Zouf, who him self held the steelyard. "Would you rather we took without paying?"

The operation was finally ended. Isaac Hakhabut had furnished seventy kilograms of tobacco, as much of coffee and of sugar, and he had not received for each article but the price of ten kilograms.

After all, as Ben-Zouf said, "it was Gallia's fault. Why had Master Isaac come to trade on Gallia?"

But then, Captain Servadac, who only wished to amuse himself with Isaac, and moved by a sentiment of justice which he had always observed in dealing with him, established an exact balance between the prices and the weights, in such a manner that for seventy kilograms Isaac Hakhabut received exactly the price of seventy kilograms.

It will be admitted, meanwhile, that the situation made for Captain Servadac and his companions might well excuse this manner, a little fantastic, of treating a commercial operation. Besides, as in other circumstances, Hector Servadac thought that Isaac made himself more unhappy than he really was. There was something ambiguous in his moans and recriminations. That they felt.

Whatever he was, all left the "Hansa," and Isaac Hakhabut could hear, echoing in the distance, this military refrain of the jolly Ben-Zouf:

"I love the sound
Of the clarion,
The drum, and the trumpet;
And my joy is complete
When I hear resound the cannon."



A month passed away. Gallia continued its course bearing its little population onward, so far removed from the ordinary influence of human passions that it might almost be said that its sole ostensible vice was represented by the greed and avarice of the miserable Jew.

After all, they were but making a voyage—a strange, yet a transient, excursion through solar regions hitherto untraversed; but if the professor's calculations were correct—and why should they be doubted?—their little vessel was destined, after a two years' absence, once more to return to port. The landing, indeed, might be a matter of difficulty; but with the good prospect before them of once again standing on terrestrial shores, they had nothing to do at present except to make themselves as comfortable as they could in their present quarters.

Thus confident in their anticipations, neither the captain, the count, nor the lieutenant felt under any serious obligation to make any extensive provisions for the future; they saw no necessity for expending the strength of the people, during the short summer that would intervene upon the long severity of winter, in the cultivation or the preservation of their agricultural resources. Nevertheless, they often found themselves talking over the measures they would have been driven to adopt, if they had found themselves permanently attached to their present home.

Even after the turning-point in their career, thee knew that at least nine months would have to elapse before the sea would be open to navigation; but at the very first arrival of summer they would be bound to arrange for the "Dobryna" and the "Hansa" to re-transport themselves and all their animals to the shores of Gourbi Island, where they would have to commence their agricultural labors to secure the crops that must form their winter store. During four months or thereabouts, they would lead the lives of farmers and of sportsmen; but no sooner would their hay-making and their corn harvest have been accomplished, than they would be compelled again, like a swarm of bees, to retire to their semi-troglodyte existence in the cells of Nina-Hive.

Now and then the captain and his friends found themselves speculating whether, in the event of their having to spend another winter upon Gallia, some means could not be devised by which the dreariness of a second residence in the recesses of the volcano might be escaped. Would not another exploring expedition possibly result in the discovery of a vein of coal or other combustible matter, which could be turned to account in warming some erection which they might hope to put up? A prolonged existence in their underground quarters was felt to be monotonous and depressing, and although it might be all very well for a man like Professor Rosette, absorbed in astronomical studies it was ill-suited to the temperaments of any of themselves for any longer period than was absolutely indispensable.

One contingency there was, almost too terrible to be taken into account. Was it not to be expected that the time might come when the internal fires of Gallia would lose their activity, and the stream of lava would consequently cease to flow? Why should Gallia be exempt from the destiny that seemed to await every other heavenly body? Why should it not roll onwards, like the moon, a dark cold mass in space?

In the event of such a cessation of the volcanic eruption, whilst the comet was still at so great a distance from the sun, they would indeed be at a loss to find a substitute for what alone had served to render life endurable at a temperature of 60° below zero. Happily, however, there was at present no symptom of the subsidence of the lava's stream; the volcano continued its regular and unchanged discharge, and Servadac, ever sanguine, declared that it was useless to give themselves any anxiety upon the matter.

On the 15th of December, Gallia was 276,000,000 leagues from the sun, and, as it was approximating to the extremity of its axis major, would travel only some 11,000,000 or 12,000,000 leagues during the month. Another world was now becoming a conspicuous object in the heavens, and Palmyrin Rosette, after rejoicing in an approach nearer to Jupiter than any other mortal man had ever attained, was now to be privileged to enjoy a similar opportunity of contemplating the planet Saturn. Not that the circumstances were altogether so favorable. Scarcely 31,000,000 miles had separated Gallia from Jupiter; the minimum distance of Saturn would not be less than 415,000,000 miles; but even this distance, although too great to affect the comet's progress more than had been duly reckoned on, was considerably shorter than what had ever separated Saturn from the earth.

To get any information about the planet from Rosette appeared quite impossible. Although equally by night and by day he never seemed to quit his telescope, he did not evince the slightest inclination to impart the result of his observations. It was only from the few astronomical works that happened to be included in the "Dobryna's" library that any details could be gathered, but these were sufficient to give a large amount of interesting information.

Ben-Zouf, when he was made aware that the earth would be invisible to the naked eye from the surface of Saturn, declared that he then for his part, did not care to learn any more about such a planet; to him it was in dispensable that the earth should remain in sight, and it was his great consolation that hitherto his native sphere had never vanished from his gaze.

At this date Saturn was revolving at a distance of 420,000,000 miles from Gallia, and consequently 874,440,000 miles from the sun, receiving only a hundredth part of the light and heat which that luminary bestows upon the earth. On consulting their books of reference, the colonists found that Saturn completes his revolution round the sun in a period of 29 years and 167 days, traveling at the rate of more than 21,000 miles an hour along an orbit measuring 5,490 millions of miles in length. His circumference is about 220,000 miles; his superficies, 144,000 millions of square miles; his volume 143,846 millions of cubic miles. Saturn is 735 times larger than the earth, consequently he is smaller than Jupiter; in mass he is only 90 times greater than the earth, which gives him a density less than that of water. He revolves on his axis in 10 hours 29 minutes, causing his own year to consist of 86,630 days; and his seasons, on account of the great inclination of his axis to the plane of his orbit, are each of the length of seven terrestrial years.

Although the light received from the sun is comparatively feeble, the nights upon Saturn must be splendid. Eight satellites—Mimas, Euceladus, Tethys. Dione, Rhea, Titan, Hyperion, and Japetus—accompany the planet; Mimas, the nearest to its primary, rotating on its axis in 22 1-2 hours, and revolving at a distance of only 120,800 miles, whilst Japetus, the most remote, occupies 79 days in its rotation, and revolves at a distance of 2,314,000 miles.

Another most important contribution to the magnificence of the nights upon Saturn is the triple ring with which, as a brilliant setting, the planet is encompassed. To an observer at the equator, this ring, which has been estimated by Sir William Herschel as scarcely 100 miles in thickness, must have the appearance of a narrow band of light passing through the zenith 12,000 miles above his head. As the observer, however, increases his latitude either north or south, the band will gradually widen out into three detached and concentric rings, of which the innermost, dark though transparent, is 9,625 miles in breadth; the intermediate one, which is brighter than the planet itself, being 17,605 miles broad; and the outer, of a dusky hue, being 8,660 mile broad.

Such, they read, is the general outline of this strange appendage, which revolves in its own plane in 10 hours 32 minutes. Of what matter it is composed, and how it resists disintegration, is still an unsettled question; but it might almost seem that the Designer of the universe, in permitting its existence, had been willing to impart to His intelligent creatures the manner in which celestial bodies are evolved, and that this remarkable ring-system is a remnant of the nebula from which Saturn was himself developed, and which, from some unknown cause, has become solidified. If at any time it should disperse, it would either fall into fragments upon the surface of Saturn, or the fragments, mutually coalescing would form additional satellites to circle round the planet in its path.

To any observer stationed on the planet, between the extremes of lat. 45° on either side of the equator, these wonderful rings would present various strange phenomena. Sometimes they would appear as an illuminated arch, with the shadow of Saturn passing over it like the hour-hand over a dial: at other times they would be like a semi-aureole of light. Very often, too, for periods of several years, daily eclipses of the sun must occur through the interposition of this triple ring.

Truly, with the constant rising and setting of the satellites, some with bright discs at their full, others like silver crescents, in quadrature, as well as by the encircling rings, the aspect of the heavens from the surface of Saturn must be as impressive as it is gorgeous.

Unable, indeed, the Gallians were to realize all the marvels of this strange world. After all, they were practically a thousand times further off than the great astronomers have been able to approach by means of their giant telescopes. But they did not complain; their little comet, they knew was far safer where it was; far better out of the reach of an attraction which, by affecting their path, might have annihilated their best hopes.

While thus they failed to attain to any great personal acquaintance with the glories of Saturn, still less did they penetrate into any of the mysteries of the more distant world of Uranus, although that planet, which from the earth appears only as a star of the sixth magnitude, did become visible to their naked eye. Yet as to the satellites which accompany him on his revolution of 84 years, at a distance of 1,753,851,000 miles from the sun, it must be owned that not one of them was ever to be discerned.

With regard to Neptune, the most distant planet of our system (until an Adams or Le Verrier of the future shall discover another still more remote), he was beyond the range of vision. Possibly he came within the focus of the professor's telescope, but if so, the professor admitted no one to the honor of his confidence. The general community, to inform themselves of any particulars as to the planet's elements, had once again to fall back upon their books. There they read that Neptune's mean distance from the sun is 2,746,271,000 miles: that the period of his revolution is 165 years; that, a spheroid 150 times greater than the earth, he travels along his gigantic orbit at the rate of 12,000 miles an hour; and that he is accompanied by one satellite, which performs its subsidiary orbit at a distance of about 20,000 miles.

The distance of 2,000,000,000 of miles at which Neptune revolves, represents, according to our present knowledge, the extreme limits of the solar system; yet, enormous as that number may sound, it is quite insignificant when compared with the number which represents the radius of the sidereal group to which our sun is attached.

The sun, in fact, appears to form part of the expansive nebula known as the Milky Way, in which he occupies the modest place of a star of about the fourth magnitude. Had Gallia been projected beyond the limits of the sun's attraction, it is within the province of imagination to conjecture that she would have taken for her new centre the nearest of the fixed stars. This star is Alpha in the constellation Centaur; its distance from the sun is more than 16 millions of millions of miles, a number the prodigiousness of which may be realized to a certain degree by the statement that light, which travels at the rate of 186,000 miles a second, would occupy no less than three years and a half in traversing the interval between the star and our sun.

The distances of several of the brightest of the fixed stars have been estimated. Amongst others Vega in the constellation Lyra is 100 millions of millions of miles away; Sirius in Canis Major, 123 millions of millions; the Pole-star 282 millions of millions; and Capella, 340 millions of millions of miles, a figure represented by no less than fifteen digits.

The hard numerical statement of these enormous figures, however, fails altogether in any adequate way to convey a due impression of the magnitude of these distances. Astronomers, in their ingenuity have endeavored to use some other basis, and have found the "velocity of light" to be convenient her their purpose. They have made their representations, something in this way:

"Suppose," they say, "an observer endowed with an infinite length of vision: suppose him stationed on the surface of Capella: looking thence towards the earth he would be a spectator of events that had happened seventy years previously: transport him to a star ten times distant, and he will be reviewing the terrestrial sphere of 720 years back: carry him way further still, to a star so remote that it requires something less than nineteen centuries for light to reach it, and he would be a witness of the birth and death of Christ: convey him further again, and he shall be looking upon the dread desolation of the Deluge: take him away further yet (for space is infinite), and he shall be a spectator of the Creation of the spheres. History is thus stereotyped in space; nothing once accomplished can ever be effaced."

Who can altogether be astonished that Palmyrin Rosette, with his burning thirst for astronomical research, should have been conscious of a longing for yet wider travel through the sidereal universe? With his comet now under the influence of one star, now of another, what various systems might he not have explored! what undreamt-of marvels might not have revealed themselves before his gaze! The stars, fixed and immovable in name, are all of them in motion, and Gallia might have followed them in their untracked way.

This motion of the fixed stars is really very rapid. Arcturus is travelling at the rate of at least fifty-four miles a second; our sun is approaching Hercules at the rate of 240 miles a minute; and yet so great is the distance that observers on the earth have hitherto been unable to discern any appreciable difference.

Still, eventually, because the stars are thus moving at unequal rates of velocity, there must ensue a change in their relative positions: and astronomers have produced diagrams representing the appearance they will present some 50,000 years hence. In these diagrams the irregular quadrilateral of Ursa Major takes the form of a long cross, and the pentagon of Orion has resolved itself into a quadrilateral.

But even if Gallia had been transported to other systems, it would not have been competent to Palmyrin Rosette to view these "secular inequalities" of the spheres; the contemplation, however, of other marvels, exceeding what the solar system has to offer, would more than sufficiently have ravished his view. He would have seen for himself that other planetary groups are not always governed by a single sun, but that occasionally two, three, four, or even six suns will revolve about each other with reciprocal influence. He would have found, too in these compound systems, suns of various hue—red, yellow, green, orange, purple and white—lighting up their planets with rays of glorious coloring; one sun perhaps setting in clearest green, another rising in resplendent crimson, or in dazzling yellow; at times two suns together mingling the tints of their varied beams; and perpetually, day after day, the whole horizon decked with all the colors of the rainbow.

But Gallia had a narrow destiny. She was not to be allowed to wander away into the range of attraction of another centre: nor to mingle with the star clusters, some of which have been entirely, others partially resolved; nor was she to lose herself amongst the 5,000 nebulæ which have resisted hitherto the grasp of the most powerful reflectors. No; Gallia was neither to pass beyond the limits of the solar system, nor to travel out of sight of the terrestrial sphere. Her orbit was circumscribed to little over 1,500 millions of miles; and, in comparison with the infinite space beyond, this was a mere nothing.



The temperature continued to increase; the mercurial thermometer, which freezes at 42° below zero, was no longer of service, and the spirit thermometer of the "Dobryna" had been brought into use. This now registered 53° below freezing-point.

In the creek, where the two vessels had been moored for the winter the elevation of the ice, in anticipation of which Lieutenant Procope had taken the precautionary measure of bevelling, was going on slowly but irresistibly, and the tartan was upheaved fifty feet above the level of the Gallian Sea, while the schooner, as being lighter, had been raised to a still greater altitude.

So irresistible was this gradual process of elevation, so utterly defying all human power to arrest that the lieutenant began to feel very anxious as to the safety of his yacht. With the exception of the engine and the masts, everything had been cleared out and conveyed to the shore, but in the event of a thaw it appeared that nothing short of a miracle could prevent the hull from being dashed to pieces, and then all means of leaving the promontory would be gone. The "Hansa," of course, would share a similar fate; in fact it had already heeled over to such an extent as to render it quite dangerous for its obstinate owner, who, at the peril of his life, resolved that he would stay where he could watch over his all precious cargo, though continually invoking curses on the ill-fate of which he deemed himself the victim.

There was, however, a stronger will than Isaac Hakhabut's. Although no one of all the community cared at all for the safety of the Jew, they cared very much for the security of his cargo, and when Servadac found that nothing would induce the old man to abandon his present quarters voluntarily, he very soon adopted measures of coercion that were far more effectual than any representations of personal danger.

"Stop where you like, Hakhabut," said the captain to him; "but understand that I consider it my duty to make sure that your cargo is taken care of. I am going to have it carried across to land at once."

Neither groans, nor tears, nor protestations on the part of the Jew, were of the slightest avail. Forthwith, on the 20th of December, the removal of the goods commenced.

Both Spaniards and Russians were all occupied for several days in the work of unlading the tartan. Well muffled up as they were in furs, they were able to endure the cold with impunity, making it their special care to avoid actual contact with any article made of metal, which, in the low state of the temperature, would inevitably have taken all the skin off their hands, as much as if it had been red-hot. The task, however, was brought to an end without accident of any kind; and when the stores of the "Hansa" were safely deposited in the galleries of the Hive, Lieutenant Procope avowed that he really felt that his mind had been unburdened from a great anxiety.

Captain Servadac gave old Isaac full permission to take up his residence among the rest of the community, promised him the entire control over his own property, and altogether showed him so much consideration that, but for his unbounded respect for his master, Ben-Zouf would have liked to reprimand him for his courtesy to a man whom he so cordially despised.

Although Hakhabut clamored most vehemently about his goods being carried off "against his will," in his heart he was more than satisfied to see his property transferred to a place of safety, and delighted moreover, to know that the transport had been effected without a farthing of expense to himself. As soon, then, as he found the tartan empty, he was only too glad to accept the offer that had been made him, and very soon made his way over to the quarters in the gallery where his merchandise had been stored. Here he lived day and night. He supplied himself with what little food he required from his own stock of provisions, a small spirit-lamp sufficing to perform all the operations of his meagre cookery. Consequently all intercourse between himself and the rest of the inhabitants was entirely confined to business transactions, when occasion required that some purchase should be made from his stock of commodities. Meanwhile, all the silver and gold of the colony was gradually finding its way to a double-locked drawer, of which the Jew most carefully guarded the key.

The 1st of January was drawing near, the anniversary of the shock which had resulted in the severance of thirty-six human beings from the society of their fellow men. Hitherto, not one of them was missing.

The unvarying calmness of the climate, notwithstanding the cold, had tended to maintain them in good health, and there seemed no reason to doubt that, when Gallia returned to the earth, the total of its little population would still be complete.

The 1st of January, it is true, was not properly "New Year's Day" in Gallia, but Captain Servadac, nevertheless, was very anxious to have it observed as a holiday.

"I do not think," he said to Count Timascheff and Lieutenant Procope, "that we ought to allow our people to lose their interest in the world to which we are all hoping to return; and how can we cement the bond that ought to unite us, better than by celebrating, in common with our fellow-creatures upon earth, a day that awakens afresh the kindliest sentiments of all? Besides," he added, smiling, "I expect that Gallia, although invisible just at present to the naked eye, is being closely watched by the telescopes of our terrestrial friends, and I have no doubt that the newspapers and scientific journals of both hemispheres are full of accounts detailing the movements of the new comet."

"True," assented the count. "I can quite imagine that we are occasioning no small excitement in all the chief observatories."

"Ay, more than that," said the lieutenant; "our Gallia is certain to be far more than a mere object of scientific interest or curiosity. Why should we doubt that the elements of a comet which has once come into collision with the earth have by this time been accurately calculated? What our friend the professor has done here, has been done likewise on the earth, where, beyond a question, all manner of expedients are being discussed as to the best way of mitigating the violence of a concussion that must occur."

The lieutenant's conjectures were so reasonable that they commanded assent. Gallia could scarcely be otherwise than an object of terror to the inhabitants of the earth, who could by no means be certain that a second collision would be comparatively so harmless as the first. Even to the Gallians themselves, much as they looked forward to the event, the prospect was not unmixed with alarm, and they would rejoice in the invention of any device by which it was likely the impetus of the shock might be deadened.

It was premature, however, for concern of this sort. Come what might, the 1st of January should be celebrated as a fête day, the Russians professing themselves quite willing to accept the date as observed by the Frenchmen and Spaniards. [1]

Christmas arrived, and was marked by appropriate religious observance by every one in the community, with the exception of the Jew, who made a point of secluding himself more obstinately than ever in the gloomy recesses of his retreat.

To Ben-Zouf the last week of the year was full of bustle. The arrangements for the fête were entrusted to him, and he was anxious, in spite of the resources of Gallia being so limited, to make the programme for the great day as attractive as possible.

It was settled that the proceedings should open with a grand dejeûner , after which there should be a promenade upon the ice in the direction of Gourbi island, to conclude with a torchlight procession in the evening. The torches, without much difficulty, could be manufactured from materials included in the stores of the "Hansa."

The composition of the bill of fare was an elaborate business. The orderly and the cook of the "Dobryna" were frequently to be seen in deep confabulation, so that it was to be expected that the repast would be a masterpiece of the combined arts of French and Russian cookery.

"Only let the déjeûner be a success," said Ben-Zouf, "and I will answer for it the promenade on the ice is sure to be a success too."

On the evening of the 31st of December the table in the common hall was laid for the great collation. The hot dishes would not be prepared until the following morning, but all the cold viands—game-pies, galantines, potted meats, and other things, many of which had been obtained from Isaac Hakhabut at most exorbitant prices—were spread upon the table.

It was a matter of debate that night whether the professor should be invited to join the party; it was scarcely likely that he would care to come, but, on the whole, it was felt to be advisable to ask him. At first Captain Servadac thought of going in person with the invitation; but remembering Rosette's dislike to visitors, he altered his mind, and sent young Pablo up to the observatory with a formal note, requesting the pleasure of Professor Rosette's company at the New Year's fête.

Pablo was soon back, bringing no answer, except that the professor had told him that "to-day was the 125th of June, and that to-morrow would be the 1st of July."

Consequently, Servadac and the count took it for granted that Palmyrin Rosette declined their invitation.

An hour after sunrise on New Year's Day, Frenchmen, Russians, Spaniards, and little Nina, as the representative of Italy, sat down to a feast such as never before had been seen in Gallia. Ben-Zouf and the Russian cook had quite surpassed themselves. A huge dish of stewed partridges, in which, in default of vegetables, enough curry-powder had been used to blister the tongue, if not to damage the coats of the stomach was the pièce de résistance. The wines, part of the "Dobryna's" stores, were of excellent quality. Those of the vintages of France and Spain were drunk in toasting their respective countries, and even Russia was honored in a similar way by means of a few bottles of kummel. The company was more than contented—it was as jovial as Ben-Zouf could desire; and the ringing cheers that followed the great toast of the day—"A happy return to our Mother Earth," must fairly have startled the professor in the silence of his observatory.

The déjeûner over, there still remained three hours of daylight. The sun was approaching the zenith, but so dim and enfeeble were his rays that they were very unlike what had produced the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy which they had just been enjoying, and it was necessary for all, before starting upon an excursion that would last over nightfall, to envelope themselves in the thickest of clothing.

Full of spirits, the party left the Hive, and chattering and singing as they went, made their way down to the frozen shore, where they fastened on their skates.

Once upon the ice, everyone followed his own fancy, and some singly, some in groups, scattered themselves in all directions. Captain Servadac, the count, and the lieutenant were generally seen together. Negrete and the Spaniards, now masters of their novel exercise, wandered fleetly and gracefully hither and thither, occasionally being out of sight completely. The Russian sailors, following a northern custom, skated in file, maintaining their rank by means of a long pole passed under their right arms, and in this way they described a trackway of singular regularity. The two children, blithe as birds, flitted about, now singly, now arm-in-arm, now joining the captain's party, now making a short peregrination by themselves, but always full of life and spirit. As for Ben-Zouf, he was here, there, and everywhere, his imperturbable good temper ensuring him a smile of welcome whenever he appeared.

Thus coursing rapidly over the icy plain, the whole party had soon exceeded the line that made the horizon from the shore. First, the rocks of the coast were lost to view; then the white crests of the cliffs were no longer to be seen; and, at last, the summit of the volcano, with its corona of vapor, was entirely out of sight. Occasionally the skaters were obliged to stop to recover their breath, but, fearful of frost-bite, they almost instantly resumed their exercise, and proceeded nearly as far as Gourbi Island before they thought about retracing their course.

But night was coming on, and the sun was already sinking in the east with the rapidity to which the residents on Gallia were by this time well accustomed. The sunset upon this contracted horizon was very remarkable. There was not a cloud nor a vapor to catch the tints of the declining beams; the surface of the ice did not, as a liquid sea would, reflect the last green ray of light but the radiant orb, enlarged by the effect of refraction, its circumference sharply defined against the sky sank abruptly, as though a trap had been opened in the ice for its reception.

Before the daylight ended, Captain Servadac had cautioned the party to collect themselves betimes into one group.

"Unless you are sure of your whereabouts before dark," he said, "you will not find it after. We have come out like a party of skirmishers; let us go back in full force."

The night would be dark; their moon was in conjunction, and would not be seen; the stars would only give something of that "pale radiance" which the poet Corneille has described.

Immediately after sunset the torches were lighted, and the long series of flames, fanned by the rapid motion of their bearers, had much the appearance of an enormous fiery banner. An hour later, and the volcano appeared like a dim shadow on the horizon, the light from the crater shedding a lurid glare upon the surrounding gloom. In time the glow of the burning lava, reflected in the icy mirror, fell upon the troop of skaters, and cast their lengthened shadows grotesquely on the surface of the frozen sea.

Later still, half an hour or more afterward, the torches were all but dying out. The shore was close at hand. An at once Ben-Zouf uttered a startled cry, and pointed with bewildered excitement toward the mountain. Involuntarily, one and all, they ploughed their heels into the ice and came to a halt. Exclamations of surprise and horror burst from every lip. The volcano was extinguished! The stream of burning lava had suddenly ceased to flow.

Speechless with amazement, they stood still for some moments. There was not one of them that did not realize, more or less, how critical was their position. The sole source of the heat that had enabled them to brave the rigor of the cold had failed them! death, in the cruelest of all shapes, seemed staring them in the face—death from cold.

Meanwhile, the last torch had flickered out

It was quite dark.

"Forward" cried Servadac, firmly.

At the word of command they advanced to the shore; clambered with no little difficulty up the slippery rocks; gained the mouth of the gallery; groped their way into the common hall.

How dreary, how chill it seemed

The fierce cataract no longer spread its glowing covering over the mouth of the grotto. Lieutenant Procope leaned through the aperture. The pool, hitherto kept fluid by its proximity to the lava, was already encrusted with a layer of ice.

Such was the end of the New Year's Day so happily begun.


[1] There is a difference of eleven days between the French and Rusian calendars.



The whole night was spent in speculating, with gloomy forebodings, upon the chances of the future. The temperature of the hall, now entirely exposed to the outer air, was rapidly falling, and would quickly become unendurable. Far too intense was the cold to allow any one to remain at the opening, and the moisture on the walls soon resolved itself into icicles. But the mountain was like the body of a dying man, that retains awhile a certain amount of heat at the heart after the extremities have become cold and dead. In the more interior galleries there was still a certain degree of warmth, and hither Servadac and his companions were glad enough to retreat.

Here they found the professor, who, startled by the sudden cold, had been fain to make a precipitate retreat from his observatory. Now would have been the opportunity to demand of the enthusiast whether he would like to prolong his residence indefinitely upon his little comet. It is very likely that he would have declared himself ready to put up with any amount of discomfort to be able to gratify his love of investigation; but all were far too disheartened and distressed to care to banter him upon the subject on which he was so sensitive.

Next morning Servadac thus addressed his people;

"My friends, except from cold, we have nothing o fear. Our provisions are ample—more than enough for the remaining period of our sojourn in this lone world of ours; our preserved meat is already cooked: we shall be able to dispense with all fuel for cooking purposes. All that we require is warmth—warmth for ourselves; let us secure that and all may be well. Now, I do not entertain a doubt but that the warmth we require is resident in the bowels of this mountain on which we are living: to the depth of those bowels we must penetrate; there we shall obtain the warmth which is indispensable to our very existence."

His tone, quite as much as his words, restored confidence to many of his people, who were already yielding to a feeling or despair. The count and lieutenant fervently, but silently, grasped his hand.

"Nina," said the captain, "you will not be afraid to go down to the lower depths of the mountain, will you?"

"Not if Pablo goes," replied the child.

"Oh yes, of course, Pablo will go. You are not  afraid to go, are you, Pablo?" he said, addressing the boy.

"Anywhere with you, your excellency," was the boy's prompt reply.

And certain it was that no time must be lost in penetrating below the heart of the volcano; already the most protected of the many ramifications of Nina-Hive were being pervaded by a cold that was insufferable.

The Conviction became more and more settled that is heat was existent in the deep recesses of the volcano; the question became more and more urgent, how that heat could be reached, and how it could be utilized.

It was an acknowledged impossibility to get access to the crater by the exterior declivities of the mountain-side; they were far too steep and too slippery to afford a foothold. It must of necessity be entered from the interior.

Lieutenant Procope accordingly undertook the task of exploring all the galleries, and was soon able to report that he had discovered one which he had every reason to believe abutted upon the central funnel. His reason for coming to this conclusion was that the caloric emitted by the rising vapors of the hot lava seemed to be oozing, as it were, out of the tellurium which had been demonstrated already as a conductor of heat. Only succeed in piercing through this rock for seven or eight yards, and the lieutenant did not doubt that his way would be opened into the old lava-course, by following which he hoped descent would be easy.

Under the lieutenant's direction the Russian sailors were immediately set to work. Their former experience had convinced them that spades and pick-axes were of no avail, and their sole resource was to proceed by blasting with gun powder. However skilfully the operation might be carried on it must necessarily occupy several days, and during that time the sufferings from cold must be very severe.

"If we fail in our object, and cannot get to the depths of the mountain, our little colony is doomed," said Count Timascheff.

"That speech is not like yourself," answered Servadac, smiling. "What has become of the faith which has hitherto carried you so bravely through all our difficulties?"

The count shook his head, as if in despair, and said, sadly:

"The Hand that has hitherto been outstretched to help seems now to be withdrawn."

"But only to test our powers of endurance," rejoined the captain, earnestly. "Courage, my friend, courage! Something tells me that this cessation of the eruption is only partial; the internal fire is not all extinct. All is not over yet. It is too soon to give up; never despair!"

Lieutenant Procope quite concurred with the captain. Many causes, he knew, besides the interruption of the influence of the oxygen upon the mineral substances in Gallia's interior, might account for the stoppage of the lava-flow in this one particular spot and he considered it more than probable that a fresh outlet had been opened in some other part of the surface, and that the eruptive matter had been diverted into a new channel. But at present his business was to prosecute his labors so that a retreat might be immediately effected from their now untenable position.

Restless and agitated, Professor Rosette if he took any interest in these discussions, certainly took no share in them. He had brought his telescope down from the observatory into the common hall, and there at frequent intervals, by night and by day, he would endeavor to continue his observations; but the intense cold perpetually compelled him to desist, or he would literally have been frozen to death. No sooner, however, did he find himself obliged to retreat from his study of the heavens, than he would begin overwhelming everybody about him with bitter complaints, pouring out his regrets that he had ever quitted his quarters at Formentera.

On the 4th of January, by persevering industry, the process of boring was completed, and the lieutenant could hear that fragments of the blasted rock, as the sailors cleared them away with their spades, were rolling into the tunnel of the crater. He noticed, too, that they did not fall perpendicular, but seemed to slide along, from which he inferred that the sides of the crater were sloping; he had therefore reason to hope that a descent would be found practicable.

Larger and larger grew the orifice; at length it would admit a man's body, and Ben-Zouf, carrying a torch, pushed himself through it, followed by the lieutenant and Servadac. Procope's conjecture proved correct. On entering the crater, they found that the sides slanted at an angle of about 45°: moreover, the eruption had evidently been of recent origin, dating probably only from the shock which had invested Gallia with a proportion of the atmosphere of the earth, and beneath the coating of ashes with which they were covered, there were various irregularities in the rock, not yet worn away by the action of the lava, and these afforded a tolerably safe footing.

"Rather a bad staircase!" said Ben-Zouf, as they began to make their way down.

In about half an hour, proceeding in a southerly direction, they had descended nearly five hundred feet. From time to time they came upon large excavations that at first eight had all the appearance of galleries, but by waving his torch Ben-Zouf could always see their extreme limits, and it was evident that the lower strata of the mountain did not present the same system of ramifications that rendered the Hive above so commodious a residence.

It was not a time to be fastidious; they must be satisfied with such accommodation as they could get, provided it was warm. Captain Servadac was only too glad to find that his hopes about the temperature were to a certain extent realized. The lower they went, the greater was the diminution in the cold, a diminution that was far more rapid than that which is experienced in making the descent of terrestrial mines. In this case it was a volcano, not a colliery, that was the object of exploration, and thankful enough they were to find that it had not become extinct. Although the lava, from some unknown cause, had ceased to rise and overflow the crater, yet plainly it existed somewhere in an incandescent state, and was still transmitting considerable heat to inferior strata.

Lieutenant Procope had brought in his hand a mercurial thermometer, and Servadac carried an aneroid barometer, by means of which he could estimate the depth of their descent below the level of the Gallian Sea. When they were six hundred feet below the orifice the mercury registered a temperature of 6° below zero.

"Six degrees!" said Servadac; "that will not suit us. At this low temperature we could not survive the winter. We must try deeper down. I only hope the ventilation will hold out."

There was, however, nothing to fear on the score of ventilation. The great current of air that rushed into the aperture penetrated everywhere, and made respiration perfectly easy.

The descent was continued for about another three hundred feet, which brought the explorers to a total depth of nine hundred feet from their old quarters. Here the thermometer registered 12° above zero—a temperature which, if only it were permanent, was all they wanted. There was no advantage in proceeding any further along the lava-course; they could already hear dull rumblings that indicated that they were at no great distance from the central focus.

"Quite near enough for me!" exclaimed Ben-Zouf.. "Those who are chilly are welcome to go as much lower as they like. For my part, I shall be quite warm enough here."

After throwing the gleams of torch-light in all directions, the explorers seated themselves on a jutting rock and began to debate whether it was practicable for the colony to make an abode in these lower depths of the mountain. The prospect, it must be owned, was not inviting. The crater, it is true, widened out into a cavern sufficiently large, but here its accommodation ended. Above and below were a few ledges in the rock that would serve as receptacles for provisions; but, with the exception of a small recess that must be reserved for Nina, it was clear that henceforth they must all renounce the idea of having separate apartments. The single cave must be their dining-room, drawing-room and dormitory, all in one. From living the life of rabbits in a warren, they were reduced to the existence of moles, with the difference that they could not, like them, forget their troubles in a long winter's sleep.

The cavern, however, was quite capable of being lighted by means of lamps and lanterns. Among the stores were several barrels of oil and a considerable quantity of spirits of wine, which might be burnt when required for cooking purposes. Moreover, it would be unnecessary for them to confine themselves entirely to the seclusion of their gloomy residence; well wrapped up, there would be nothing to prevent them making occasional excursions both to the Hive and to the seashore. A supply of fresh water would be constantly required; ice for this purpose must be perpetually carried in from the coast, and it would be necessary to arrange that every one in turn should perform this office, as it would be no sinecure to clamber up the sides of the crater for 900 feet, and descend the same distance with a heavy burden.

But the emergency was great, and it was accordingly soon decided that the little colony should forthwith take up its quarters in the cave. After all, they said, they should hardly be much worse off than thousands who annually winter in Arctic regions. On board the whaling-vessels, and in the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company, such luxuries as separate cabins or sleeping-chambers are never thought of; one large apartment, well heated and ventilated, with as few corners as possible, is considered far more healthy; and on board ship the entire hold, and in forts a single floor, is appropriated to this purpose. The recollection of this fact served to reconcile them, in a great degree, to the change to which they felt it requisite to submit.

Having remounted the ascent, they made the result of their exploration known to the mass of the community, who received the tidings with a sense of relief and cordially accepted the scheme of the migration.

The first step was to clear the cavern of its accumulation of ashes, and then the labor of removal commenced in earnest. Never was a task undertaken with greater zest. The fear of being to a certainty frozen to death it they remained where they were, was a stimulus, that made every one put forth all his energies. Beds, furniture, cooking utensils—first the stores of the "Dobryna," the cargo of the tartan—all were carried down with the greatest alacrity, and the diminished weight combined with the down-hill route to make the labor proceed with incredible briskness.

Although Professor Rosette yielded to the pressure of circumstances, and allowed himself to be conducted to the lower regions, nothing would induce him to allow his telescope to be carried underground; and as it was, undeniable that it would certainly be of no service deep down in the bowels of the mountain, it was allowed to remain undisturbed upon its tripod in the great hall of Nina-Hive.

As for Isaac Hakhabut his outcry was beyond description lamentable. Never in the whole universe, had a merchant met with such reverses; never had such a pitiable series of losses befallen an unfortunate man. Regardless of the ridicule which his abject wretchedness excited, he howled on still, and kept up an unending wail but meanwhile he kept a keen eye upon every article of his property, and amidst universal laughter insisted on having every item registered in an inventory as it was transferred to its appointed place of safety. Servadac considerately allowed the whole of the cargo to be deposited in a hollow apart by itself, over which the Jew was permitted to keep a watch as vigilant a he pleased.

By the 10th the removal was accomplished. Rescued, at all events, from the exposure to a perilous temperature of 60° below zero, the community was installed in its new home. The large cave was lighted by the "Dobryna's" lamps, while several lanterns, suspended at intervals along the acclivity that led to their deserted quarters above, gave a weird picturesqueness to the scene, that might vie with any of the graphic descriptions of the "Arabian Nights Entertainments."

"How do you like this, Nina?" said Ben-Zouf.

"Va bene!", replied the child, "We are only living in the cellars instead of upon the ground floor."

"We will try and make ourselves comfortable," said the orderly.

"Oh, yes, we will be happy here," rejoined the child; "it is nice and warm."

Although they were as careful as they could to conceal their misgivings from the rest, Servadac and his two friends could not regard their present situation without distrust. When alone, they would frequently ask each other what would become of them all, if the volcanic heat should really be subsiding, or if some unexpected perturbation should retard the course of the comet, and compel them to an indefinitely prolonged residence in their grim abode. It was scarcely likely that the comet could supply the fuel of which ere long they would be in urgent need. Who could expect to find coal in the bowels of Gallia—coal, which is the residuum of ancient forests mineralized by the lapse of ages? Would not the lava-cinders exhumed from the extinct volcano be their last poor resource?

"Keep up your spirits, my friends," said Servadac. "We have plenty of time before us at present. Let us hope that as fresh difficulties arise, fresh ways of escape will open. Never despair!"

"True," said the count; "it is an old saying that 'Necessity is the mother of invention.' Besides, I should think it very unlikely that the internal heat will fail us now before the summer."

The lieutenant declared that he entertained the same hope. As the reason of his opinion he alleged that the combustion of the eruptive matter was most probably of quite recent origin, because the comet, before its collision with the earth, had possessed no atmosphere, and that consequently no oxygen could have penetrated to its interior.

"Most likely you are right," replied the count; "and so far from dreading a failure of the internal heat, I am not quite sure that we may not be exposed to a more terrible calamity still."

"What?" asked Servadac.

"The calamity of the eruption breaking out suddenly again, and taking us by surprise."

"Heavens!" cried the captain, "we will not think of that."

"The outbreak may happen again," said the lieutenant, calmly; "but it will be our fault, our own lack of vigilance, if we are taken by surprise."

And so the conversation dropped.

The 15th of January dawned; and the comet was 220,000,000 leagues from the sun.

Gallia had reached its aphelion.



Henceforth, then, with a velocity ever increasing, Gallia would re-approach the sun.

Except the thirteen Englishmen who had been left at Gibraltar, every living creature had taken refuge in the dark abyss of the volcano's crater.

And with those Englishmen, how had it fared?

"Far better than with ourselves," was the sentiment that would have been universally accepted in Nina-Hive.

And there was every reason to conjecture that so it was. The party at Gibraltar, they all agreed, would not, like themselves, have been compelled to have recourse to a stream of lava for their supply of heat; they, no doubt, had had abundance of fuel as well as food; and in their solid casemate, with its substantial walls, they would find ample shelter from the rigor of the cold. The time would have been passed at least in comfort, and perhaps in contentment; and Colonel Murphy and Major Oliphant would have had leisure more than sufficient for solving the most abstruse problems of the chess-board. All of them, too, would be happy in the confidence that when the time should come, England would have full meed of praise to award to the gallant soldiers who had adhered so well and so manfully to their post.

It did, indeed, more than once occur to the minds both of Servadac and his friends that, if their condition should become one of extreme emergency, they might as a last resource, betake themselves to Gibraltar, and there seek a refuge; but their former reception had not been of the kindest, and they were little disposed to renew an acquaintanceship that was marked by so little cordiality. Not in the least that they would expect to meet with any inhospitable rebuff. Far from that, they knew well enough that Englishmen, whatever their faults, would be the last to abandon their fellow-creatures in the hour of distress. Nevertheless, except the necessity became far more urgent than it bad hitherto proved, they resolved to endeavor to remain in their present quarters. Up to this time no causalities had diminished their original number, but to undertake so long a journey across that unsheltered expanse of ice could scarcely fail to result in the loss of some of their party.

However great was the desire to find a retreat for every living thing in the deep hollow of the crater, it was found necessary to slaughter almost all the domestic animals before the removal of the community from Nina-Hive. To have stabled them all in the cavern below would have been quite impossible, whilst to have left them in the upper galleries would only have been to abandon them to a cruel death; and since meat could be preserved for an indefinite time in the original store-places, now colder than ever, the expedient of killing off the animals seemed to recommend itself as being equally prudent and humane.

Naturally the captain and Ben-Zouf were most anxious that their favorite horses should be saved, and accordingly, by dint of the greatest care, all difficulties in the way were overcome, and Zephyr and Gallete were conducted down the crater, where they were installed in a large hole and provided with forage, which was still abundant.

Birds, subsisting only on scraps thrown out to them, did not cease to follow the population in its migration, and so numerous did they become that multitudes of them had repeatedly to be destroyed.

The general re-arrangement of the new residence was no easy business, and occupied so much time that the end of January arrived before they could be said to be fairly settled. And then began a life of dreary monotony. Then seemed to creep over every one a kind of moral torpor as well as physical lassitude, which Servadac, the count, and the lieutenant did their best not only to combat in themselves, but to counteract in the general community. They provided a variety of intellectual pursuits; they instituted debates in which everybody was encouraged to take part; they read aloud, and explained extracts from the elementary manuals of science or from the books of adventure or travel which their library supplied; and Russians and Spaniards, day after day, might be seen gathered round the large table, giving their best attention to instruction which should send them back to Mother Earth less ignorant than they had left her.

Selfish and morose, Hakhabut could never be induced to be present at these social gatherings. He was far too much occupied in his own appropriated corner, either in conning his accounts, or in counting his money. Altogether, with what he had before, he now possessed the round sum of 150,000 francs, half of which was in sterling gold; but nothing could give him any satisfaction while he knew that the days were passing, and that he was denied the opportunity of putting out his capital in advantageous investments, or securing a proper interest.

Neither did Palmyrin Rosette find leisure to take any share in the mutual intercourse. His occupation was far too absorbing for him to suffer it to be interrupted, and to him, living as he did perpetually in a world of figures, the winter days seemed neither long nor wearisome. Having ascertained every possible particular about his comet, he was now devoting himself with equal ardor to the analysis of all the properties of the satellite Nerina, to which he appeared to assert the same claim of proprietorship.

In order to investigate the new elements which belonged to Nerina, in consequence of its removal from the zone of the telescopic planets, it was indispensable that he should make several actual observations at various points of the orbit; and for this purpose he repeatedly made his way up to the grotto above, where, in spite of the extreme severity of the cold, he would persevere in the use of his telescope till he was all but paralyzed. But what he felt more than anything was the want of some retired apartment, where he could pursue his studies without hindrance or intrusion.

It was about the beginning of February, when the professor brought his complaint to Captain Servadac, and begged him to assign him a chamber, no matter how small, in which he should be free to carry on his task in silence and without molestation. So readily did Servadac promise to do everything in his power to provide him with the accommodation for which he asked, that the professor was put into such manifest good temper that the captain ventured to speak upon the matter that was ever uppermost in his mind.

"I do not mean," he began, timidly, "to cast the least imputation of inaccuracy upon any of your calculations, but would you allow me, my dear professor, to suggest that you should revise your estimate of the duration of Gallia's period of revolution. It is so important, you know—so all important; the difference of one half minute, you know, would certainly mar the expectation of reunion with the earth—"

And, seeing a cloud gathering on Rosette's face, he added:

"I am sure Lieutenant Procope would be only too happy to render you any assistance in the revision."

"Sir," said the professor, bridling up, "I want no assistant; my calculations want no revision. I never make an error. I have made my reckoning as far as Gallia is concerned. I am now making a like estimate of the elements of Nerina."

Conscious how impolitic it would be to press this matter further, the captain casually remarked that he should have supposed that all the elements of Nerina had been calculated long since by astronomers on the earth. It was about as unlucky a speech as he could possibly have made. The professor glared at him fiercely.

"Astounding, sir!" he exclaimed. "Yes! Nerina was a planet then; everything that appertained to the planet was determined; but Nerina is a moon now. And do you not think, sir, that we have a right to know as much about our moon as those terrestrials "—and he curled his lip as he spoke with a contemptuous emphasis—"know of theirs?"

"I beg pardon," said the corrected captain.

"Well, then, never mind," replied the professor, quickly appeased; "only will you have the goodness to get me a proper place for study?"

"I will, as I promised, do all I can," answered Servadac.

"Very good," said the professor. "No immediate hurry; an hour hence will do."

But in spite of this condescension on the part of the man of science, some hours had to elapse before any place of retreat could be discovered likely to suit his requirements; but at length a little nook was found in the side of the cavern just large enough to hold an arm-chair and a table, and in this the astronomer was soon ensconced to his entire satisfaction.

Buried thus, nearly 900 feet below ground, the Gallians ought to have had unbounded mental energy to furnish an adequate reaction to the depressing monotony of their existence; but many days would often elapse without any one of them ascending to the surface of the soil, and had it not been for the necessity of obtaining fresh water, it seemed almost probable that there would never have been an effort made to leave the cavern at all.

A few excursions, it is true, were made in the downward direction. The three leaders, with Ben-Zouf, made their way to the lower depths of the crater, not with the design of making any further examination as to the nature of the rock—for although it might be true enough that it contained thirty per cent. of gold, it was as valueless to them as granite—but with the intention of ascertaining whether the subterranean fire still retained its activity. Satisfied upon this point, they came to the conclusion that the eruption which had so suddenly ceased in one spot had certainly broken out in another.

February, March, April, May, passed wearily by; but day succeeded to day with such gloomy sameness that it was little wonder that no notice was taken of the lapse of time. The people seemed rather to vegetate than to lives and their want of vigor became at times almost alarming. The readings around the long table ceased to be attractive, and the debates, sustained by few, became utterly wanting in animation. The Spaniards could hardly be roused to quit their beds and seemed to have scarcely energy enough to eat. The Russians, constitutionally of more enduring temperament, did not give way to the same extent, but the long and drear confinement was beginning to tell upon them all.

Servadac, the count, and the lieutenant all knew well enough that it was the want of air and exercise that was the cause of much of this mental depression; but what could they do? The most serious remonstrances on their part were entirely in vain. In fact, they themselves occasionally fell a prey to the same lassitude both of body and mind. Long fits of drowsiness, combined with an utter aversion to food, would come over them. It almost seemed as if their entire nature had become degenerate, and that, like tortoises, they could sleep and fast till the return of summer.

Strange to say, little Nina bore her hardships more bravely than any of them. Flitting about, coaxing one to eat, another to drink, rousing Pablo as often as he seemed yielding to the common languor, the child became the life of the party. Her merry prattle enlivened the gloom of the grim cavern like the sweet notes of a bird; her gay Italian songs broke the monotony of the depressing silence; and almost unconscious as the half-dormant population of Gallia were of her influence, they still would have missed her bright presence sorely.

The months still glided on; how, it seemed impossible to the inhabitants of the living tomb to say. There was a dead level of dullness.

At the beginning of June, the general torpor appeared slightly to relax its hold upon its victims. This partial revival was probably due to the somewhat increased influence of the sun, still far, far away.

During the first half of the Gallian year, Lieutenant Procope had taken careful note of Rosette's monthly announcements of the comet's progress, and he was able now, without reference to the professor, to calculate the rate of advance on its way back toward the sun. He found that Gallia had recrossed the orbit of Jupiter, but was still at the enormous distance of 197,000,000 leagues from the sun, and he reckoned that in about four months it would have entered the zone of the telescopic planets.

Gradually, but uninterruptedly, life and spirits-continued to revive, and by the end of the month Servadac and his little colony had regained most of their ordinary physical and mental energies. Ben-Zouf, an particular, roused himself with redoubled vigor, like, a giant refreshed from his slumbers. The visits, consequently, to the long-neglected galleries of Nina's Hive became more and more frequent.

One day an excursion was made to the shore. It was still bitterly cold, but the atmosphere had lost nothing of its former stillness, and not a cloud was visible from horizon to zenith. The old footmarks were all as distinct as on the day in which they had been imprinted, and the only portion of the shore where any change was apparent was in the little creek. Here the elevation of the ice had gone on increasing until the schooner and the tartan had been uplifted to a height of 150 feet, not only rendering them quite inaccessible, but exposing them to all but certain destruction in the event of a thaw.

Isaac Hakhabut, immovable from the personal oversight of his property in the cavern, had not accompanied the party, and consequently was in blissful ignorance of the fate that threatened his vessel.

"A good thing the old fellow wasn't there to see," observed Ben-Zouf; "he would have screamed like a peacock. What a misfortune it is," he added, speaking to himself, "to have a peacock's voice without its plumage!"

During the months of July and August, Gallia advanced 164,000,000 leagues along her orbit. At night the cold was still intense, but in the daytime the sun, here full upon the equator, caused an appreciable difference of 20° in the temperature. Like birds, the population spent whole days exposed to its grateful warmth, rarely returning till nightfall to the shade of their gloomy home.

This spring-time, if such it may be called, had a most enlivening influence upon all. Hope and courage revived as day by day the sun's disk expanded in the heavens, and every evening the earth assumed a greater magnitude among the fixed stars. It was distant yet, but the goal was cheeringly in view.

"I can't believe that yonder little speck of light contains any mountain of Montmartre," said Ben-Zouf, one night, after he had been gazing long and steadily at the far-off world.

"You will, I hope, some day find out that it does," answered his master.

"I hope so," said the orderly, without moving his eye from the distant sphere.

After meditating a while he spoke again:

"I suppose Professor Rosette couldn't make his comet go straight back, could he?"

"Hush!" cried Servadac.

Ben-Zouf understood the correction.

"No," continued the captain; "it is not for man to disturb the order of the universe. That belongs to a Higher Power than ours!"



Another month passed away, and it was now September, but it was still impossible to leave the warmth of the subterranean retreat for the more airy and commodious quarters of the Hive, where "the bees" would certainly have been frozen to death in their cells. It was altogether quite as much a matter of congratulation as of regret that the volcano showed no symptoms of resuming its activity; for although a return of the eruption might have rendered their former resort again habitable, any sudden outbreak would have been disastrous to them where they were, the crater being the sole outlet by which the burning lava could escape.

"A wretched time we have had for the last seven months," said the orderly one day to his master; "but what a comfort little Nina has been to us all!"

"Yes, indeed," replied Servadac; "she is a charming little creature. I hardly know how we should have got on without her."

"What is to become of her when we arrive back at the earth?"

"Not much fear, Ben-Zouf, but that she will be well taken care of. Perhaps you and I had better adopt her."

"Ay, yes," assented the orderly. "You can be her father, and I can be her mother."

Servadac laughed.

"Then you and I shall be man and wife."

"We have been as good as that for a long time," observed Ben-Zouf, gravely.

By the beginning of October, the temperature had so far moderated that it could scarcely be said to be intolerable. The comet's distance was scarcely three times as great from the sun as the earth from the sun, so that the thermometer rarely sunk beyond 35° below zero. The whole party began to make almost daily visits to the Hive, and frequently proceeded to the shore, where they resumed their skating exercise, rejoicing in their recovered freedom like prisoners liberated from a dungeon. Whilst the rest were enjoying their recreation, Servadac and the count would hold long conversations with Lieutenant Procope about their present position and future prospects, discussing all manner of speculations as to the results of the anticipated collision with the earth, and wondering whether any measures could be devised for mitigating the violence of a shock which might be terrible in its consequences, even if it did not entail a total annihilation of themselves.

There was no visitor to the Hive more regular than Rosette. He had already directed his telescope to be moved back to his former observatory, where as much as the cold would permit him, he persisted in making his all-absorbing studies of the heavens.

The result of these studies no one ventured to inquire; but it became generally noticed that something was very seriously disturbing the professor's equanimity. Not only would he be seen toiling more frequently up the arduous way that lay between his nook below and his telescope above, but he would be heard muttering in an angry tone that indicated considerable agitation.

One day as he was hurrying down to his study, he met Ben-Zouf, who, secretly entertaining a feeling of delight at the professor's manifest discomfiture, made some casual remark about things not being very straight. The way in which his advance was received the good orderly never divulged, but henceforward he maintained the firm conviction that there was something very much amiss up in the sky.

To Servadac and his friends this continual disquietude and ill-humor on the part of the professor occasioned no little anxiety. From what, they asked, could his dissatisfaction arise? They could only conjecture that he had discovered some flaw in his reckonings; and if this were so, might there not be reason to apprehend that their anticipations of coming into contact with the earth, at the settled time, might all be falsified?

Day followed day, and still there was no cessation of the professor's discomposure. He was the most miserable of mortals. If really his calculations and his observations were at variance, this, in a man of his irritable temperament, would account for his perpetual perturbation. But he entered into no explanation; he only climbed up to his telescope, looking haggard and distressed, and when compelled by the frost to retire he would make his way back to his study more furious than ever.

At times he was heard giving vent to his vexation:

"Confound it! what does it mean? what is she doing? All behind! Is Newton a fool? The laws of gravity seem topsy-turvy! Observations! Calculations! Not agree? Plague! Confound it! Curses!"

And the little man would seize his head in both his hands, and tear away at the scanty locks which he could ill-afford to lose.

Enough was overheard to confirm the suspicion that there was some irreconcilable discrepancy between the results of his computation and what he had actually observed; and yet, if he had been called upon to say, he would have sooner insisted that there was derangement in the laws of celestial mechanism, than have owned there was the least probability of error in any of his own calculations.

Assuredly, if the poor professor had had any flesh to lose he would have withered away to a shadow.

But this state of things was before long to come to an end.

On the 12th, Ben-Zouf, who was hanging about outside the great hall of the cavern, heard the professor inside utter a loud cry. Hurrying in to ascertain the cause, he found Rosette in a state of perfect frenzy, in which ecstacy and rage seemed to be struggling for the predominance.

"Eureka! Eureka!" yelled the excited astronomer.

"What in the name of peace, do you mean?" bawled Ben-Zouf, in open-mouthed amazement.

"Eureka!" again shrieked the little man.

"How? What? Where?" roared the bewildered orderly.

"Eureka! I say, "repeated Rosette; "and if you don't understand me, you may go to the devil!"

Without availing himself of this polite invitation, Ben-Zouf betook himself to his master.

"Something has happened to the professor," he said; "he is rushing about like a madman, screeching and yelling, 'Eureka!'"

"Eureka?" exclaimed Servadac. "That means he has made a discovery;" and, full of anxiety, he hurried off to meet the professor.

But, however great was his desire to ascertain what this discovery implied, his curiosity was not yet destined to be gratified. The professor kept muttering in incoherent phrases: "Rascal! he shall pay for it. I will be even with him! Cheat! Thrown me out!" But he did not vouchsafe any reply to Servadac's inquiries, and withdrew to his study.

But from that day forward Rosette, for some reason, at present incomprehensible, quite altered his behavior to Isaac Hakhabut, a man for whom he had always hitherto evinced the greatest repugnance and contempt. All at once he began to show a remarkable interest in the Jew and his affairs, paying several visits to the dark little storehouse, making inquiries as to the state of business and expressing some solicitude about the state of the exchequer.

The wily Jew was taken somewhat by surprise, but came to an immediate conclusion that the professor was contemplating borrowing some money; he was consequently very cautious in all his replies.

It was not Hakhabut's habit ever to advance a loan except at an extravagant rate of interest, or without demanding far more than an adequate security. Count Timascheff, a Russian nobleman, was evidently rich: to him, perhaps, for a proper consideration, a loan might be made: Captain Servadac was a Gascon, and Gascons are proverbially poor; it would never do to lend any money to him: but here was a professor, a mere man of science, with circumscribed means; did he expect to borrow? Certainly Isaac would as soon think of flying, as of lending money to him.

Such were the thoughts that made him receive all Rosette's approaches with a careful reservation.

It was not long, however, before Hakhabut was to be called upon to apply his money to a purpose for which he had not reckoned.

It his eagerness to effect sales, he had parted with all the alimentary articles in his cargo without having the precautionary prudence to reserve enough for his own consumption. Amongst other things that failed him was his stock of coffee, and as coffee was a beverage without which he deemed it impossible to exist, he found himself in considerable perplexity.

He pondered the matter over for a long time, and ultimately persuaded himself that, after all, the stores were the common property of all, and that he had as much right to a share as any one else. Accordingly, he made his way to Ben-Zouf, and, in the most amiable tone he could assume, begged as a favor that he would let him have a pound of coffee.

The orderly shook his head dubiously.

"A pound of coffee, old Nathan? I can't say."

"Why not? You have some?" said Isaac.

"Oh yes! plenty—a hundred kilograms."

"Then let me have one, pound. I shall be grateful."

"Hang your gratitude!"

"Only one pound! You would not refuse anybody else."

"That's just the very point, old Samuel; if you were anybody else, I should know very well what to do. I must refer the matter to his excellency."

"Oh, his excellency will do me justice."

"Perhaps you will find his justice rather too much for you."

And with this consoling remark, the orderly went to seek his master.

Rosette meanwhile had been listening to the conversation, and was secretly rejoicing that an opportunity for which he had been watching had now arrived.

"What's the matter, Master Isaac? Have you parted with all your coffee?" he asked, in a sympathizing voice, when Ben-Zouf was gone.

"Ah! yes, indeed," groaned Hakhabut; "and now I require some for my own use. In my little black hole I cannot live without my coffee."

"Of course, you cannot," agreed the professor.

"And don't you think the governor ought to let me have it?"

"No doubt."

"Oh, I must have coffee" said the Jew again. "Certainly, certainly," the professor assented. "Coffee is nutritious; it warms the blood. How much do you want?"

"A pound. A pound will last me a long time."

"And who will weigh it for you?" asked Rosette, scarcely able to conceal the eagerness that prompted the question.

"Why, they will weigh it with my steelyard, of course. There is no other balance here."

And as the Jew spoke, the professor fancied he could detect the faintest of sighs.

"Good, Master Isaac; all the better for you! You will get your seven pounds instead of one!"

"Yes; well, seven, or thereabouts—thereabouts," stammered the Jew with considerable hesitation.

Rosette scanned his countenance narrowly, and was about to probe him with further questions, when Ben-Zouf returned.

"And what does his excellency say?" inquired Hakhabut.

"Why, Nehemiah, he says he shan't give you any."

"Merciful heavens!" began the Jew.

"He says he doesn't mind selling you a little."

"But, by the holy city why does he make me pay for what anybody else could have for nothing?"

"As I told you before, you are not anybody else; so, come along. You can afford to buy what you want. We should like to see the color of your money."

"Merciful heavens!" the old man whined once more. "Now, none of that! Yes or no! If you are going to buy, say so at once; if not, I shall shut up shop."

Hakhabut knew well enough that the orderly was not a man to be trifled with, and said, in a tremulous voice:

"Yes, I will buy."

The professor, who had been looking on with much interest, betrayed manifest symptoms of satisfaction.

"How much do you want? What will you charge for it?" asked Isaac, mournfully, putting his hand into his pocket and chinking his money.

"Oh, we will deal gently with you. We will not make any profit. You shall have it for the same price that we paid for it. Ten francs a pound, you know."

The Jew hesitated.

"Come, now, what is the use of your hesitating? Your gold will have no value when you go back to the world."

"What do you mean?" asked Hakhabut, startled. "You will find out some day," answered Ben-Zouf, significantly.

Hakhabut drew out a small piece of gold from his pocket, took it close under the lamp, rolled it over in his hand, and pressed it to his lips.

"Shall you weigh me the coffee with my steelyard?" he asked, in a quavering voice that confirmed the professor's suspicions.

"There is nothing else to weigh it with; you know that well enough, old Shechem," said Ben-Zouf.

The steelyard was then produced; a tray was suspended to the hook, and upon this coffee was thrown until the needle registered the weight of one pound. Of course it took seven pounds of coffee to do this.

"There you are! There's your coffee, man!" Ben-Zouf said.

"Are you sure?" inquired Hakhabut, peering down close to the dial. "Are you quite sure that the needle touches the point?"

"Yes; look and see."

"Give it a little push, please."



"Well, because of what?" cried the orderly, impatiently.

"Because I think, perhaps—I am not suite sure—perhaps the steelyard is not quite correct."

The words were not uttered before the professor, fierce as a tiger, had rushed at the Jew, had seized him by the throat, and was shaking him till he was black in the face.

"Help! help!" screamed Hakhabut. "I shall be strangled."

"Rascal! consummate rascal! thief! villain!" the professor reiterated, and continued to shake the Jew furiously.

Ben-Zouf looked on and laughed, making no attempt to interfere; he had no sympathy with either of the two.

The sound of the scuffling, however drew the attention of Servadac, who, followed by his companions, hastened to the scene. The combatants were soon parted.

"What is the meaning of all this?" demanded the captain.

As soon as the professor had recovered his breath, exhausted by his exertions, he said:

"The reprobate, the rascal has cheated us! His steelyard is wrong! He is a thief!"

Captain Servadac looked sternly at Hakhabut.

"How is this, Hakhabut? Is this a fact?"

"No, no—yes—no, your excellency, only—"

"He is a cheat, a thief!" roared the excited astronomer. "His weights deceive!"

"Stop, stop!" interposed Servadac: "let us hear. Tell me, Hakhabut—"

"The steelyard lies! It cheats! it lies" roared the irrepressible Rosette.

"Tell me, Hakhabut, I say," repeated Servadac.

The Jew only kept on stammering, "Yes—- no—I don't know."

But heedless of any interruption, the professor continued:

"False weights! That confounded steelyard! It gave a false result! The mass was wrong. The observations contradicted the calculations; they were wrong! She was out of place! Yes, out of place entirely."

"What!" cried Servadac and Procope in a breath, "out of place?"

"Yes, completely," said the professor.

"Gallia out of place?" repeated Servadac, agitated with alarm.

"I did not say Gallia," replied Rosette, stamping his foot impetuously; "I said Nerina."

"Oh, Nerina," answered Servadac. "But what of Gallia?" he inquired, still nervously.

"Gallia, of course, is on her way to the earth. I told you so. But that Jew is a rascal!"

It will be easily imagined that Isaac Hakhabut, thus caught in his own trap was jeered most unmercifully by those whom he had attempted to make his dupes. Ben-Zouf, in particular, was never wearied of telling him how on his return to the world he would be prosecuted for using false weights, and would certainly become acquainted with the inside of a prison. Thus badgered, he secluded himself more than ever in his dismal hole, never venturing, except when absolutely obliged, to face the other members of the community.

On the 7th of October the comet re-entered the zone of the telescopic planets, one of which had been captured as a satellite, and the origin of the whole of which is most probably correctly attributed to the disintegration of some planet that formerly revolved between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

By the beginning of the following month half of this zone had been traversed, and only two months remained before the collision with the earth was to be expected. During the month Gallia would travel 40,000,000 leagues along her orbit, and would approach to within 78,000,000 leagues of the sun.

The temperature was now rarely below 12° below zero, but that was far too cold to permit the slightest symptoms of a thaw. The surface of the sea remained as frozen as ever, and the two vessels, high up on their icy pedestals, remained unaltered in their critical position.



It was as the professor had said. From the day that Isaac Hakhabut had entered upon his mercantile career his dealings had all been carried on by a system of false weight. That deceitful steelyard had been the mainspring of his fortune. But when it had become his lot to be the purchaser instead of the vendor, his spirit had groaned within him at being compelled to reap the fruits of his own dishonesty. No one who had studied his character could be much surprised at the confession that was extorted from him, that for every supposed kilogram that he had ever sold the true weight was only 750 grams, or just five and twenty per cent, less than it ought to have been.

The professor, however, had ascertained all that he wanted to know. By estimating his comet at a third as much again as its proper weight, he had found that his calculations were always at variance with the observed situation of the satellite, which was immediately influenced by the mass of its primary.

But now, besides enjoying the satisfaction of having punished old Hakhabut, Rosette was able to recommence his calculations with reference to the elements of Nerina upon a correct basis, a task to which he devoted himself with redoubled energy.

It was about this time that the question began to be mooted whether it would not be right to re-open some communication with the Englishmen at Gibraltar. Not that any doubt was entertained as to their having been able successfully to cope with the rigors of the winter; but Captain Servadac, in a way that did honor to his generosity, represented that, however uncourteous might have been their former behavior, it was at least due to them that they should be informed of the true condition of things, which they had had no opportunity of learning: and, moreover, that they should be invited to co-operate with the population of Nina-Hive, in the event of any measures being suggested by which the shock of the approaching collision could be mitigated.

The count and the lieutenant both heartily concurred in Servadac's sentiments of humanity and prudence, and all agreed that if the intercourse were to be opened at all, no time could be so suitable as the present while the surface of the sea presented a smooth and solid footing. After a thaw should set in, neither the yacht nor the tartan could be reckoned on for service, and it would be inexpedient to make use of the steam launch, for which only a few tons of coal had been reserved, just sufficient to convey them to Gourbi Island when the occasion should arise; whilst as to the yawl, which, transformed into a sledge, had performed so successful a trip to Formentera, the absence of wind would make that quite unavailable. It was true that with the return of summer temperature, there would be certain to be a derangement in the atmosphere at Gallia, which would result in wind, but for the present the air was altogether too still for the yawl to have any prospect of making its way to Gibraltar.

The only question remaining was as to the possibility of going on foot. The distance was somewhere about 240 miles. Captain Servadac declared himself quite equal to the undertaking. To skate sixty or seventy miles a day would be nothing, he said, to a practical skater like himself. The whole journey there and back might be performed in eight days. Provided with a compass, a sufficient supply of cold meat, and a spirit-lamp, by which he might boil his coffee, he was perfectly sure he should, without the least difficulty, accomplish an enterprise that chimed in so exactly with his adventurous spirit.

Equally urgent were both the count and the lieutenant to be allowed to accompany him; nay, they even offered to go instead; but Servadac expressing himself as most grateful for their consideration, declined their offer, and avowed his resolution of taking no other companion than his own orderly.

Highly delighted at his master's decision Ben-Zouf expressed his satisfaction at the prospect of "stretching his legs a bit," declaring that nothing could induce him to permit the captain to go alone.

There was no delay. The departure was fixed for the following morning, the 2nd of November.

Although it is not to be questioned that a genuine desire of doing an act of kindness to his fellow creatures was a leading motive of Servadac's proposed visit to Gibraltar, it must be owned that another idea, confided to nobody, least of all to Count Timascheff, had been conceived in the brain of the worthy Gascon. Ben-Zouf had an inkling that his master was "up to some other little game," when, just before starting, he asked him privately whether there was a French tricolor among the stores.

"I believe so," said the orderly.

"Then don't say a word to any one, but fasten it up tight in your knapsack."

Ben-Zouf found the flag, and folded it up as he was directed.

Before proceeding to explain this somewhat enigmatical conduct of Servadac, it is necessary to refer to a certain physiological fact, coincident but unconnected with celestial phenomena, originating entirely in the frailty of human nature. The nearer that Gallia approached the earth, the more a sort of reserve began to spring up between the captain and Count Timascheff. Though they could not be said to be conscious of it, the remembrance of their former rivalry, so completely buried in oblivion for the last year and ten months, was insensibly recovering its hold upon their minds, and the question was all but coming to the surface as to what would happen if, on their return to earth, the handsome Madame de L—should still be free. From companions in peril, would they not again be avowed rivals? Conceal it as they would, a coolness was undeniably stealing over an intimacy which, though it could never be called affectionate, had been uniformly friendly and courteous.

Under these circumstances, it was not surprising that Hector Servadac should not have confided to the count a project which, wild as it was, could scarcely have failed to widen the unacknowledged breach that was opening in their friendship.

The project was this: it was the annexation of Ceuta to the French dominion. The Englishmen, rightly enough, had continued to occupy the fragment of Gibraltar, and their claim was indisputable. But the island of Ceuta, which before the shock had commanded the Opposite side of the strait, and had been occupied by Spaniards, had since been abandoned, and was therefore free to the first occupant who should lay claim to it. To plant the tri-color upon it, in the name of France, was now the cherished wish of Servadac's heart.

"Who knows," he said to himself, "whether Ceuta on its return to earth, may not occupy a grand and commanding situation? What a proud thing it would be to have secured its possession to France."

Next morning, as soon as they had taken their brief farewell of their friends, and were fairly out of sight of the shore, Servadac imparted his design to Ben-Zouf, who entered into the project with the greatest zest, and expressed himself delighted, not only at the prospect of adding to the dominions of his beloved country, but of stealing a march upon England. Then, as though he was marching on to conquest, he gave vent to his enthusiasm by chanting one of his old military refrains: [2]

"Onward, Zephyrs, at daylight's bloom,
Tramp, tramp, tramp
Forward, Zephyrs, in evening gloom,
Tramp, tramp, tramp!"

Both travellers were warmly clad, the orderly's knapsack containing all the necessary provisions. The journey was accomplished without special incident; halts were made at regular intervals, for the purpose of taking food and rest. The temperature by night as well as by day was quite endurable, and on the fourth afternoon after starting, thanks to the straight course which their compass enabled them to maintain, the adventurers found themselves within a few miles of Ceuta.

As soon as Ben-Zouf caught sight of the rock on the western horizon, he was all excitement. Just as if he were in a regiment going into action, he talked wildly about "columns" and "squares" and "charges." The captain, although less demonstrative, was hardly less eager to reach the rock. They both pushed forward with all possible speed till they were within a mile and a half of the shore, when Ben-Zouf, who had a very keen vision, stopped suddenly, and said that he was sure he could see something moving on the top of the island.

"Never mind, let us hasten on," said Servadac.

A few minutes carried them over another mile, when Ben-Zouf stopped again.

"What it, Ben-Zouf?" asked the captain.

"It looks to me like a man on the rock, waving his arms in the air," said the orderly.

"Plague on it!" muttered Servadac; "I hope we are not too late."

Again they went on; but soon Ben-Zouf stopped for the third time.

"It is a semaphore, sir; I see it quite distinctly."

And he was not mistaken; it had been a telegraph in motion that had caught his eye.

"Plague on it!" repeated the captain.

"Too late, sir, do you think?" said Ben-Zouf.

"Yes, Ben-Zouf; if that's a telegraph—and there is no doubt of it—somebody has been before us and erected it; and, moreover, if it is moving, there must be somebody working it now."

He was keenly disappointed.

Looking toward the north, he could distinguish Gibraltar faintly visible in the extreme distance, and upon the summit of the rock both Ben-Zouf and himself fancied they could make out another semaphore, giving signals, no doubt, in response to the one here.

"Yes, it is only too clear; they have already occupied it, and established their communications," said Servadac, with a sigh.

"And what are, we to do, then?" asked Ben-Zouf.

"We must pocket our chagrin, and put as good a face on the matter as we can," replied the captain.

"But perhaps there are only four or five Englishmen to protect the place," said Ben-Zouf, as if meditating an assault.

"No, no, Ben-Zouf," answered Servadac; "we must do nothing rash. We have had our warning, and, unless our representations can induce them to yield their position, we must resign our hope."

Thus discomfited, they had reached the foot of the rock, when all at once, like a "jack-in-the-box," a sentinel started up before them with the challenge:

"Who goes there?"

"Friends. Vive la France!" cried the captain.

"Hurrah for England" replied the soldier.

By this time four other men had made their appearance from the upper part of the rock.

"What do you want?" asked one of them, whom Servadac remembered to have seen before at Gibraltar.

"Can I speak to your commanding officer?" Servadac inquired.

"Which?" said the man. "The officer in command of Ceuta?"

"Yes, if there is one."

"I will acquaint him with your arrival," answered the Englishman, and disappeared.

In a few minutes the commanding officer, attired in full uniform, was seen descending to the shore. It was Major Oliphant himself.

Servadac could no longer entertain a doubt that the Englishmen had forestalled him in the occupation of Ceuta. Provisions and fuel had evidently been conveyed thither in the boat from Gibraltar before the sea had frozen, and a solid casemate, hollowed in the rock had afforded Major Oliphant and his contingent ample protection from the rigor of the winter. The ascending smoke that rose above the rock was sufficient evidence that good fires were still kept up; the soldiers appeared to have thriven well on what, no doubt, had been a generous diet, and the major himself, although he would scarcely have been willing to allow it, was slightly stouter than before.

Being only about twelve miles distant from Gibraltar, the little garrison at Ceuta had felt itself by no means isolated in its position; but by frequent excursions across the frozen strait, and by the constant use of the telegraph, had kept up their communication with their fellow-countrymen on the other island. Colonel Murphy and the major had not even been forced to forego the pleasures of the chess-board. The game that had been interrupted by Captain Servadac's former visit was not yet concluded; but, like the two American clubs that played their celebrated game in 1846 between Washington and Baltimore, the two gallant officers made use of the semaphore to communicate their well-digested moves.

The major stood waiting for his visitor to speak.

"Major Oliphant, I believe?" said Servadac, with a courteous bow.

"Yes, sir, Major Oliphant, officer in command of the garrison at Ceuta," was the Englishman's reply. "And to whom," he added, "may I have the honor of speaking?"

"To Captain Servadac, the governor-general of Gallia."

"Indeed!" said the major, with a supercilious look. "Allow me to express my surprise," resumed the captain, "at seeing you installed as commanding officer upon what I have always understood to be Spanish soil. May I demand your claim to your position?"

"My claim is that of first occupant."

"But do you not think that the party of Spaniards now resident with me may at some future time assert a prior right to the proprietorship?"

"I think not, Captain Servadac."

"But why not?" persisted the captain.

"Because these very Spaniards have, by formal contract, made over Ceuta, in its integrity, to the British Government."

Servadac uttered an exclamation of surprise.

"And as the price of that important cession," continued Major Oliphant, "they have received a fair equivalent in British gold."

"Ah!" cried Ben-Zouf, "that accounts for that fellow Negrete and his people having such a lot of money."

Servadac was silent. It had become clear to his mind what had been the object of that secret visit to Ceuta which he had heard of as being made by the two English officers. The arguments that he had intended to use had completely fallen through; all that he had now to do was carefully to prevent any suspicion of his disappointed project.

"May I be allowed to ask, Captain Servadac, to what I am indebted for the honor of this visit?" asked Major Oliphant, presently.

"I have come, Major Oliphant, in the hope of doing you and your companions a service," replied Servadac, rousing himself from his reverie.

"Ah, indeed!" replied the major, as though he felt himself quite independent of all services from exterior sources.

"I thought, major, that it was not unlikely you were in ignorance of the fact that both Ceuta and Gibraltar have been traversing the solar regions on the surface of a comet."

The major smiled incredulously; but Servadac nothing daunted, went on to detail the results of the collision between the comet and the earth, adding that, as there was the almost immediate prospect of another concussion, it had occurred to him that it might be advisable for the whole population of Gallia to unite in taking precautionary measures for the common welfare.

"In fact Major Oliphant," he said, in conclusion, "I am here to inquire whether you and your friends would be disposed to join us in our present quarters."

"I am obliged to you, Captain Servadac," answered the major, stiffly "but we have not the slightest intention of abandoning our post. We have received no government orders to that effect; indeed, we have received no orders at all Our own dispatch to the first lord of the admiralty still awaits the mail."

"But allow me to repeat," insisted Servadac, "that we are no longer on the earth, although we expect to come in contact with it again in about eight weeks."

"I have no doubt," the major answered, "that England will make every effort to reclaim us."

Servadac felt perplexed. It was quite evident that Major Oliphant had not been convinced of the truth of one syllable of what he had been saying..

"Then, I am to understand that you are determined to retain your two garrisons here and at Gibraltar?" asked Servadac with one last effort at persuasion.

"Certainly; these two posts command the entrance of the Mediterranean."

"But supposing there is no longer any Mediterranean?" retorted the captain, growing impatient.

"Oh, England will always take care of that," was Major Oliphant's cool reply. "But excuse me," he added presently; "I see that Colonel Murphy has just telegraphed his next move. Allow me to wish you good afternoon."

And without further parley, followed by his soldiers, he retired into the casemate, leaving Captain Servadac gnawing his moustache with mingled rage and mortification.

"A fine piece of business we have made of this!" said Ben-Zouf, when he found himself alone with his master.

"We will make our way back at once," replied Servadac.

"Yes, the sooner the better, with our tails between our legs," rejoined the orderly, who this time felt no inclination to start o to the march of the Algerian zephyrs.

And so the French tricolor returned as it had set out—in Ben-Zouf's knapsack.

On the eighth evening after starting, the travelers again set foot on the volcanic promontory just in time to witness a great commotion.

Palmyrin Rosette was in a furious rage.

He had completed all his calculations about Nerina, but that perfidious satellite had totally disappeared.

The astronomer was frantic at the loss of his moon.

Captured probably by some larger body, it was revolving in its proper zone of the minor planets.


[2] Zephyr: An Algerian soldier.



On his return Servadac communicated to the count the result of his expedition, and, though perfectly silent on the subject of his personal project, did not conceal the fact that the Spaniards without the smallest right, had sold Ceuta to the English.

Having refused to quit their post, the Englishmen had virtually excluded themselves from any further consideration; they had had their warning, and must now take the consequences of their own incredulity.

Although it had proved that not a single creature either at Gourbi Island, Gibraltar, Ceuta, Madalena, or Formentera had received any injury whatever at the time of the first concussion, there was nothing in the least to make it certain that a like immunity from harm would attend the second. The previous escape was doubtless owing to some slight, though unaccountable modification in the rate of motion; but whether the inhabitants of the earth had fared so fortunately, was a question that had still to be determined.

The day following Servadac's return, he and the count and Lieutenant Procope met by agreement in the cave, formally to discuss what would be the most advisable method of proceeding under their present prospects. Ben-Zouf was, as a matter of course, allowed to be present, and Professor Rosette had been asked to attend; but he declined on the plea of taking no interest in the matter. Indeed, the disappearance of his moon had utterly disconcerted him, and the probability that he should soon lose his comet also, plunged him into an excess of grief which he preferred to bear in solitude.

Although the barrier of cool reserve was secretly increasing between the captain and the count, they scrupulously concealed any outward token of their inner feelings, and without any personal bias applied their best energies to the discussion of the question which was of such mutual, nay, of such universal interest.

Servadac was the first to speak.

"In fifty-one days, if Professor Rosette has made no error in his calculations, there is to be a recurrence of collision between this comet and the earth. The inquiry that we have now to make is whether we are prepared for the coming shock. I ask myself, and I ask you, whether it is in our power, by any means, to avert the evil consequences that are only too likely to follow."

Count Timascheff, in a voice that seemed to thrill with solemnity, said:

"In such events we are at the disposal of an overruling Providence; human precautions cannot sway the Divine will."

"But with the most profound reverence for the will of Providence," replied the captain, "I beg to submit that it is our duty to devise whatever means we can to escape the threatening mischief. Heaven helps them that help themselves."

"And what means have you to suggest, may I ask?" said the count, with a faint accent of satire.

Servadac was forced to acknowledge that nothing tangible had hitherto presented itself to his mind.

"I don't want to intrude," observed Ben-Zouf, "but I don't understand why such learned gentlemen as you cannot make the comet go where you want it to go."

"You are mistaken, Ben-Zouf, about our learning," said the captain; "even Professor Rosette, with all his learning, has not a shadow of power to prevent the comet and the earth from knocking against each other."

"Then I cannot see what is the use of all this learning," the orderly replied

"One great use of learning," said Count Timascheff, with a smile, "is to make us know our own ignorance."

While this conversation had been going on, Lieutenant Procope had been sitting in thoughtful silence. Looking up, he now said:

"Incident to this expected shock, there may be a variety of dangers. If, gentlemen, you will allow me, I will enumerate them; and we shall, perhaps, by taking them seriatim, be in a better position to judge whether we can successfully grapple with them, or in any way mitigate their consequences."

There was a general attitude of attention. It was surprising how calmly they proceeded to discuss the circumstances that looked so threatening and ominous.

"First of all," resumed the lieutenant, "we will specify the different ways in which the shock may happen."

"And the prime fact to be remembered," interposed Servadac, "is that the combined velocity of the two bodies will be about 21,000 miles an hour."

"Express speed, and no mistake!" muttered Ben-Zouf.

"Just so," assented Procope. "Now, the two bodies may impinge either directly or obliquely. If the impact is sufficiently oblique, Gallia may do precisely what she did before: she may graze the earth; she may, or she may not, carry off a portion of the earth's atmosphere and substance, and so she may float away again into space; but her orbit would undoubtedly be deranged, and if we survive the shock, we shall have small chance of ever returning to the world of our fellow creatures."

"Professor Rosette, I suppose," Ben-Zouf remarked, "would pretty soon find out all about that."

"But we will leave this hypothesis," said the lieutenant; "our own experience has sufficiently shown us its advantages and its disadvantages. We will proceed to consider the infinitely more serious alternative of direct impact; of a shock that would hurl the comet straight on to the earth, to which it would become attached."

"A great wart upon her face!" said Ben-Zouf, laughing.

The captain held up has finger to his orderly, making him understand that he should hold his tongue.

"It is, I presume, to be taken for granted," continued Lieutenant Procope, "that the mass of the earth is comparatively so large that, in the event of a direct collision, her own motion would not be sensibly retarded, and that she would carry the comet along with her, as part of herself."

"Very little question of that, I should think," said Servadac.

"Well, then," the lieutenant went on, "what part of this comet of ours will be the part to come into collision with the earth? It may be the equator, where we are• it may be at the exactly opposite point, at our antipodes; or it may be at either pole. In any case, it seems hard to foresee whence there is to come the faintest chance of deliverance."

"Is the case so desperate?" asked Servadac.

"I will tell you why it seems so. If the side of the comet on which we are resident impinges on the earth, it stands to reason that we must be crushed to atoms by the violence of the concussion."

"Regular mince-meat!" said Ben-Zouf, whom no admonitions could quite reduce to silence.

"And if," said the lieutenant, after a moment's pause, and the slightest possible frown at the interruption—"and if the collision should occur at our antipodes, the sudden check to the velocity of the comet would be quite equivalent to a shock  in situ and, another thing, we should run the risk of being suffocated, for all our comet's atmosphere would be assimilated with the terrestrial atmosphere, and we, supposing we were not dashed to atoms, should be left as it were upon the summit of an enormous mountain (for such to all intents and purposes Gallia would be), 450 miles above the level of the surface of the globe, without a particle of air to breathe."

"But would not our chances of escape be considerably better," asked Count Timascheff, "in the event of the comet's poles being the point of contact?"

"Taking the combined velocity into account," answered the lieutenant, "I confess that I fear the violence of the shock will be too great to permit our destruction to be averted."

A general silence ensued, which was broken by the lieutenant himself.

"Even if none of these contingencies occur in the way we have contemplated, I am driven to the suspicion that we shall be burnt alive."

"Burnt alive!" they all exclaimed in a chorus of horror.

"Yes. If the deductions of modern science be true the speed of the comet, when suddenly checked, will be transmuted into heat, and that heat will be so intense that the temperature of the comet will be raised to some millions of degrees."

No one having anything definite to allege in reply to Lieutenant Procope's forebodings, they all relapsed into silence.

Presently Ben-Zouf asked whether it was not possible for the cornet to fall into the middle of the Atlantic.

Procope shook his head.

"Even so, we should only be adding the fate of drowning to the list of our other perils."

"Then, as I understand," said Captain Servadac, "in whatever way or in whatever place the concussion occurs, we must be either crushed, suffocated, roasted, or drowned. Is that your conclusion, lieutenant?"

"I confess I see no other alternative," answered Procope, calmly.

"But isn't there another thing to be done?" said Ben-Zouf.

"What do you mean?" his master asked.

"Why, to get off the comet before the shock comes."

"How could you get off Gallia?"

"That I can't say," replied the orderly.

"I am not sure that that could not be accomplished," said the lieutenant.

All eyes in a moment were riveted upon him, as, with his head resting on his hands, he was manifestly cogitating a new idea.

"Yes, I think it could be accomplished," he repeated.

"The project may appear extravagant, but I do not know why it should be impossible. Ben-Zouf has hit the right nail on the head; we must try and leave Gallia before the shock."

"Leave Gallia! How?" said Count Timascheff.

The lieutenant did not at once reply. He continued pondering for a time, and at last said, slowly and distinctly:

"By making a balloon!"

Servadac's heart sank.

"A balloon!" he exclaimed. "Out of the question. Balloons are exploded things. You hardly find them in novels. Balloon, indeed!"

"Listen to me," replied Procope. "Perhaps I can convince you that my idea is not so chimerical as you imagine."

And, knitting his brow, he proceeded to establish the feasibility of his plan.

"If we can ascertain the precise moment when the shock is to happen, and can succeed in launching ourselves a sufficient time beforehand into Gallia's atmosphere, I believe it will transpire that this atmosphere will amalgamate with that of the earth, and that a balloon whirled along by the combined velocity would glide into the mingled atmosphere and remain suspended in mid-air until the shock of the collision is overpast."

Count Timascheff reflected for a minute, and said:

"I think, lieutenant, I understand your project. The scheme seems tenable; and I shall be ready to co-operate with you, to the best of my power, in putting it into execution."

"Only, remember," continued Procope, "there are many chances to one against our success. One instant's obstruction and stoppage in our passage, and our balloon is burnt to ashes. Still reluctant as I am to acknowledge it, I confess that I feel our sole hope of safety rests in our getting free from this comet."

"If the chances were ten thousand to one against us," said Servadac, "I think the attempt ought to be made."

"But have we hydrogen enough to inflate a balloon?" asked the count.

"Hot air will be all that we shall require," the lieutenant answered; "we are only contemplating about an hour's journey."

"Ah, a fire-balloon! A Montgolfier!" cried Servadac. "But what are you going to do for a casing?"

"I have thought of that. We must cut it out of the sails of the 'Dobryna;' they are both light and strong," rejoined the lieutenant.

Count Timascheff complimented the lieutenant upon his ingenuity, and Ben-Zouf could not resist bringing the meeting to a conclusion by a ringing cheer.

Truly daring was the plan of which Lieutenant Procope had thus become the originator but the very existence of them all was at stake, and the design must be executed resolutely.

For the success of the enterprise it was absolutely necessary to know, almost to a minute, the precise time at which the collision would occur, and Captain Servadac undertook the task, by gentle means or by stern, of extracting the secret from the professor.

To Lieutenant Procope himself was intrusted the superintendence of the construction of the Montgolfier, and the work was begun at once. It was to be large enough to carry the whole of the twenty-three residents in the volcano, and, in order to provide the means of floating aloft long enough to give time for selecting a proper place for descent, the lieutenant was anxious to make it carry enough hay or straw to maintain combustion for awhile, and keep up the necessary supply of heated air.

The sails of the "Dobryna," which had all been carefully stowed away in the Hive, were of a texture unusually close, and quite capable of being made airtight by means of a varnish, the ingredients of which were rummaged out of the promiscuous stores of the tartan. The lieutenant himself traced out the pattern and cut out the strips, and all hands were employed in seaming them together. It was hardly the work for little fingers, but Nina persisted in accomplishing her own share of it. The Russians were quite at home at occupation of this sort, and having initiated the Spaniards into its mysteries, the task of joining together the casing was soon complete. Isaac Hakhabut and the professor were the only two members of the community who took no part in this somewhat tedious proceeding.

A month passed away, but Servadac found no opportunity of getting at the information he had pledged himself to gain. On the sole occasion when he had ventured to broach the subject with the astronomer, he had received for answer that as there was no hurry to get back to the earth, there need be no concern about any dangers of transit.

Indeed, as time passed on, the professor seemed to become more and more inaccessible. A pleasant temperature enabled him to live entirely in his observatory, from which intruders were rigidly shut out. But Servadac bided his time. He grew more and more impressed with the importance of finding out the exact moment at which the impact would take place, but was content to wait for a promising opportunity to put any fresh questions on the subject to the too reticent astronomer.

Meanwhile, the earth's disc was daily increasing in magnitude; the comet traveled 50,000,000 leagues during the mouth, at the close of which it was not more than 78,000,000 leagues from the sun.

A thaw had now fairly set in. The breaking up of the frozen ocean was a magnificent spectacle, and "the great voice of the sea," as the whalers graphically describe it, was heard in all its solemnity. Little streams of water began to trickle down the declivities of the mountain and along the shelving shore, only to be transformed, as the melting of the snow continued, into torrents or cascades. Light vapors gathered on the horizon, and clouds were formed and carried rapidly along by breezes to which the Gallian atmosphere had long been unaccustomed. All these were doubtless but the prelude to atmospheric disturbances of a more startling character but as indications of returning spring, they were greeted with a welcome which no apprehensions for the future could prevent being glad and hearty.

A double disaster was the inevitable consequence of the thaw. Both the schooner and the tartan were entirely destroyed. The basement of the icy pedestal on which the ships had been upheaved was gradually undermined, like the icebergs of the Arctic Ocean, by warm currents of water, and on the night of the 12th the huge block collapsed en masse, so that on the following morning nothing remained of the "Dobryna" and the "Hansa" except the fragments scattered on the shore.

Although certainly expected, the catastrophe could not fail to cause a sense of general depression. Well-nigh one of their last ties to Mother Earth had been broken: the ships were gone, and they had only a balloon to replace them:

To describe Isaac Hakhabut's rage at the destruction of the tartan would be impossible. His oaths were simply dreadful; his imprecations on the accursed race were full of wrath. He swore that Servadac and his people were responsible for his loss; he vowed that they should be sued and made to pay him damages; he asserted that he had been brought from Gourbi Island only to be plundered; in fact, he became so intolerably abusive, that Servadac threatened to put him into irons unless he conducted himself properly; whereupon the Jew, finding that the captain was in earnest, and would not hesitate to carry the threat into effect, was fain to hold his tongue, and slunk back into his dim hole.

By the 14th the balloon was finished, and, carefully sewn and well varnished as it had been it was really a very substantial structure. It was covered with a network that had been made from the light rigging of the yacht, and the car, composed of wicker-work that had formed partitions in the hold of the "Hansa," was quite commodious enough to hold the twenty-three passengers it was intended to convey. No thought had been bestowed upon comfort or convenience, as the ascent was to last for so short a time, merely long enough for making the transit from atmosphere to atmosphere.

The necessity was becoming more and more urgent to get at the true hour of the approaching contact, but the professor seemed to grow more obstinate than ever in his resolution to keep his secret.

On the 15th the comet crossed the orbit of Mars, at the safe distance of 56,000,000 leagues; but during that night the community thought that their last hour had taken them unawares. The volcano rocked and trembled with the convulsions of internal disturbance, and Servadac and his companions, convinced that the mountain was doomed to some sudden disruption, rushed into the open air.

The first object that caught their attention as they emerged upon the open rocks was the unfortunate professor, who was scrambling down the mountain-side, piteously displaying a fragment of his shattered telescope.

It was no time for condolence.

A new marvel arrested every eye. A fresh satellite, in the gloom of night, was shining conspicuously before them.

The satellite was a part of Gallia itself!

By the expansive action of the inner heat, Gallia, like Gambart's comet, had been severed in twain; an enormous fragment had been detached and launched into space!

The fragment included Ceuta and Gibraltar, with the two English garrisons!



What would be the consequences of this sudden and complete disruption, Servadac and his people hardly dared to think.

The first change that came under their observation was the rapidity of the sun's appearances and disappearances, forcing them to the conviction that although the comet still rotated on its axis from east to west yet the period of its rotation had been diminished by about one-half. Only six hours instead of twelve elapsed between sunrise and sunrise; three hours after rising in the west the sun was sinking again in the east.

"We are coming to something" exclaimed Servadac. "We have got a year of something like 2,880 days."

"I shouldn't think it would be an easy matter to find saints enough for such a calendar as that!" said Ben-Zouf.

Servadac laughed, and remarked that they should have the professor talking about the 238th of June, and the 325th of December.

It soon became evident that the detached portion was not revolving round the comet, but was gradually retreating into space. Whether it had carried with it any portion of atmosphere, whether it possessed any other condition for supporting life, and whether it was likely ever again to approach to the earth, were all questions that there were no means of determining. For themselves the all-important problem was—what effect would the rending asunder of the comet have upon its rate of progress? and as they were already conscious of a further increase of muscular power, and a fresh diminution of specific gravity, Servadac and his associates could not but wonder whether the alteration in the mass of the comet would not result in its missing the expected coincidence with the earth altogether.

Although he professed himself incompetent to pronounce a decided opinion, Lieutenant Procope manifestly inclined to the belief that no alteration would ensue in the rate of Gallia's velocity; but Rosette, no doubt, could answer the question directly, and the time had now arrived in which he must be compelled to divulge the precise moment of collision.

But the professor was in the worst of tempers. Generally taciturn and morose, he was more than usually uncivil whenever any one ventured to speak to him. The loss of his telescope had doubtless a great deal to do with his ill-humor; but the captain drew the most favorable conclusions from Rosette's continued irritation. Had the comet been in any way projected from its course, so as to be likely to fail in coming into contact with the earth, the professor would have been quite unable to conceal his satisfaction. But they required to know more than the general truth, and felt that they had no time to lose in getting at the exact details.

The opportunity that was wanted soon came.

On the 18th, Rosette was overheard in serious altercation with Ben-Zouf. The orderly had been taunting the astronomer with the mutilation of his little comet. A fine thing, he said, to split in two like a child's toy. It had cracked like a dry nut and mightn't one as well live upon an exploding bomb?—with much more to the same effect. The professor, by way of retaliation, had commenced sneering at the "prodigious" mountain of Montmartre, and the dispute was beginning to look serious when Servadac entered.

Thinking he could turn the wrangling to some good account so as to arrive at the information he was so anxiously seeking, the captain pretended to espouse the views of his orderly; he consequently brought upon himself the full force of the professor's wrath.

Rosette's language became more and more violent, till Servadac, feigning to be provoked beyond endurance, cried:

"You forget, sir, that you are addressing the governor-general of Gallia."

"Governor-general! Humbug!" roared Rosette. "Gallia is my comet"

"I deny it," said Servadac, "Gallia has lost its chance of getting back to the earth. Gallia has nothing to do with you. Gallia is mine; and you must submit to the government which I please to ordain."

"And who told you that Gallia is not going back to the earth?" asked the professor, with a look of withering scorn.

"Why, isn't her mass diminished? Isn't she split in half? Isn't her velocity all altered?" demanded the captain.

"And pray who told you this?" again said the professor, with a sneer.

"Everybody. Everybody knows it, of course," replied Servadac.

"Everybody is very clever. And you always were a very clever scholar, too. We remember that of old, don't we?"


"You nearly mastered the first elements of science, didn't you?"


"A credit to your class!"

"Hold your tongue, sir!" bellowed the captain again, as if his anger was uncontrollable.

"Not I," said the professor.

"Hold your tongue!" repeated Servadac.

"Just because the mass is altered, you think the velocity is altered?"

"Hold your tongue!" cried the captain, louder than ever.

"What has mass to do with the orbit? Of how many comets do you know the mass, and yet you know their movements? Ignorance!" shouted Rosette.

"Insolence!" retorted Servadac.

Ben-Zouf, really thinking that his master was angry, made a threatening movement towards the professor.

"Touch me if you dare!" screamed Rosette, drawing himself up to the fullest height his diminutive figure would allow. "You shall answer for your conduct before a court of justice!"

"Where? On Gallia?" asked the captain.

"No; on the earth."

"The earth! Pshaw! You know we shall never get there; our velocity is changed."

"On the earth," repeated the professor, with decision.

"Trash!" cried Ben-Zouf. "The earth will be too far off!"

"Not too far off for us to come across her orbit at 42 minutes and 35.6 seconds past two o'clock on the morning of this coming 1st of January."

"Thanks, my dear professor—many thanks. You have given me all the information I required;" and, with a low bow and a gracious smile, the captain withdrew. The orderly made an equally polite bow, and followed his master. The professor, completely nonplussed was left alone.

Thirteen days, then—twenty-six of the original Gallian days fifty-two of the present—was all the time for preparation that now remained. Every preliminary arrangement was hurried on with the greatest earnestness.

There was a general eagerness to be quit of Gallia. Indifferent to the dangers that must necessarily attend a balloon ascent under such unparalleled circumstances, and heedless of Lieutenant Procope's warning that the slightest check in their progress would result in instantaneous combustion, they all seemed to conclude that it must be the simplest thing possible to glide from one atmosphere to another so that they were quite sanguine as to the successful issue of their enterprise. Captain Servadac made a point of showing himself quite enthusiastic in his anticipations, and to Ben-Zouf the going up in a balloon was the supreme height of his ambition. The count and the lieutenant of colder and less demonstrative temperament, alike seemed to realize the possible perils of the undertaking, but even they were determined to put a bold face upon every difficulty.

The sea had now become navigable, and three voyages were made to Gourbi Island in the steam launch, consuming the last of their little reserve of coal.

The first voyage had been made by Servadac with several of the sailors. They found the gourbi and the adjacent building quite uninjured by the severity of the winter: numbers of little rivulets intersected the pasture-land; new plants were springing up under the influence of the equatorial sun, and the luxuriant foliage was tenanted by the birds which had flown back from the volcano. Summer had almost abruptly succeeded to winter, and the days, though only three hours long, were intensely hot.

Another of the voyages to the island had been to collect the dry grass and straw which was necessary for inflating the balloon. Had the balloon been less cumbersome it would have been conveyed to the island, whence the start would have been effected: but as it was, it was more convenient to bring the combustible material to the balloon.

The last of the coal having been consumed, the fragments of the shipwrecked vessels had to be used day by day for fuel. Hakhabut began making a great hubbub when he found that they were burning some of the spars of the "Hansa" but he was effectually silenced by Ben-Zouf, who told him that if he made any more fuss, he should be compelled to pay 50,000 francs for a balloon-ticket, or else he should be left behind.

By Christmas Day everything was in readiness for immediate departure. The festival was observed with a solemnity still more marked than the anniversary of the preceding year. Every one looked forward to spending New Year's Day in another sphere altogether and Ben-Zouf had already promised Pablo and Nina all sorts of New Year's gifts.

It may seem strange, but the nearer the critical moment approached, the less Hector Servadac and Count Timascheff had to say to each other on the subject. Their mutual reserve became more apparent; the experiences of the last two years were fading from their minds like a dream; and the fair image that had been the cause of their original rivalry was ever rising, as a vision, between them.

The captain's thoughts began to turn to his unfinished rondo; in his leisure moments, rhymes suitable and unsuitable, possible and impossible, were perpetually jingling in his imagination. He labored under the conviction that he had a work of genius to complete. A poet he had left the earth, and a poet he must return.

Count Timascheff's desire to return to the world was quite equaled by Lieutenant Procope's. The Russian sailors only thought was to follow their master, wherever he went. The Spaniards, though they would have been unconcerned to know that they were to remain upon Gallia, were nevertheless looking forward with some degree of pleasure to revisiting the plains of Andalusia; and Nina and Pablo were only too delighted at the prospect of accompanying their kind protectors on any fresh excursion whatever.

The only malcontent was Palmyrin Rosette. Day and night he persevered in his astronomical pursuits, declared his intention of never abandoning his comet, and swore positively that nothing should induce him to set foot in the car of the balloon.

The misfortune that had befallen his telescope was a never-ending theme of complaint; and just now, when Gallia was entering the narrow zone of shooting-stars, and new discoveries might have been within his reach, his loss made him more inconsolable than ever. In sheer desperation, he endeavored to increase the intensity of his vision by applying to his eyes some belladonna which he found the "Dobryna's" medicine chest; with heroic fortitude endured the tortures of the experiment, and gazed up into the sky until he was nearly blind. But all in vain: not a single fresh discovery rewarded his sufferings.

No one was quite exempt from the feverish excitement which prevailed during the last days of December. Lieutenant Procope superintended his final arrangements. The two low masts of the schooner had been erected firmly on the shore, and formed supports for the Montgolfier which had been duly covered with the netting, and was ready at any moment to be inflated. The car was close at hand. Some inflated skins had been attached to its sides, so that the balloon might float for a time, in the event of its descending in the sea at a short distance from the shore. If unfortunately, it should come down in mid-ocean, nothing but the happy chance of some passing vessel could save them all from the certain fate of being drowned.

The 31st came. Twenty-hours hence and the balloon, with its large living freight, would be high in the air. The atmosphere was less buoyant than that of the earth, but no difficulty in ascending was to be apprehended.

Gallia was now within 96,000,000 miles of the sun, consequently not much more than 4,000,000 miles from the earth; and this interval was being diminished at the rate of nearly 208,000 miles an hour, the speed of the earth being about 70,000 miles, that of the comet being little less than 138,000 miles an hour.

It was determined to make the start at two o'clock three-quarters of an hour, or, to speak correctly, 42 minutes 35.6 seconds, before the time predicted by the professor as the instant of collision. The modified rotation of the comet caused it to be daylight at the time; it would also necessarily be daylight on that side of the earth upon which the contact must take place.

An hour previously the balloon was inflated with perfect success, and the car was securely attached to the network. It only awaited the stowage of the passengers.

Isaac Hakhabut was the first to take his place in the car. But scarcely had he done so, when Servadac noticed that his waist was encompassed by an enormous girdle, that bulged out to a very extraordinary extent.

"What's all this, Hakhabut?" he asked.

"It's only my little bit of money, your excellency; my modest little fortune—a mere bagatelle," said the Jew.

"And what may your little fortune weigh?" inquired the captain.

"Only about sixty-six pounds!" said Isaac.

"Sixty-six pounds!" cried Servadac. "We haven't reckoned for this."

"Merciful heavens!" began the Jew.

"Sixty-six pounds!" repeated Servadac. "We can hardly carry ourselves; we can't have any dead weight here. Pitch it out, man, pitch it out!"

"God of Israel!" whined Hakhabut.

"Out with it, I say!" cried Servadac.

"What, all my money, which I have saved so long, and toiled for so hard?"

"It can't be helped," said the captain, unmoved.

"Oh, your excellency!" cried the Jew.

"Now, old Nicodemus, listen to me," interposed Ben-Zouf; "you just get rid of that pouch of yours, or we will get rid of you. Take your choice. Quick, quick or out you go!"

The avaricious old man was found to value his life above his money: he made a lamentable outcry about it, but he unfastened his girdle at last, and put it out of the car.

Very different was the case with Palmyrin Rosette. He avowed over and over again his intention of never quitting the nucleus of his comet. Why should he trust himself to a balloon that would blaze up like a piece of paper? Why should he leave his comet? Why should he not go once again upon its surface into the far-off realms of space?

His volubility was brought to a sudden check by Servadac's bidding two of the sailors, without more ado to take him in their arms and put him quietly down at the bottom of the car.

To the great regret of their owners, the two horses and Nina's pet goat were obliged to be left behind. The only creature for which there was found a place was the carrier pigeon that had brought the professor's message to the Hive. Servadac thought it might probably be of service in carrying some communication to the earth.

When every one, except the captain and his orderly, had taken their places, Servadac said:

"Get in, Ben-Zouf."

"After you, sir," said Ben-Zouf respectfully.

"No, no!" insisted Servadac; "the captain must be the last to leave the ship!"

A moment's hesitation, and the orderly clambered over the side of the car. Servadac followed. The cords were cut. The balloon rose with stately calmness into the air.



When the balloon had reached an elevation of about 2,500 yards, Lieutenant Procope determined to maintain it at that level. A wire-work stove, suspended below the casing, and filled with lighted hay, served to keep the air in the interior at a proper temperature.

After a while, the aeronauts began to survey everything above them around them, and below them.

Beneath their feet was extended the basin of the Gallian Sea. An inconsiderable speck to the north marked the site of Gourbi Island. Ceuta and Gibraltar, which might have been expected in the west, had utterly disappeared. On the south rose the volcano, the extremity of the promontory that jutted out from the continent that formed the framework of the sea; while in every direction the strange soil, with its mixture of tellurium and gold, gleamed under the sun's rays with a perpetual iridescence.

Apparently rising with them in their ascent, the horizon was well-defined. The sky above them was perfectly clear; but away in the north-west, in opposition to the sun, floated a new sphere, so small that it could not be an asteroid, but like a dim meteor. It was the fragment that the internal convulsion had rent from the surface of the comet, and which was now many thousands of leagues away, pursuing the new orbit into which it had been projected. During the hours of daylight it was far from distinct, but after nightfall it would assume a definite lustre.

The object, however, of supreme interest was the great expanse of the terrestrial disc, which was rapidly drawing down obliquely toward them. It totally eclipsed an enormous portion of the firmament above, and approaching with an ever-increasing velocity, was now within half its average distance from the moon. So close was it that the two poles could not be embraced in one focus. Irregular patches of greater or less brilliancy alternated on its surface, the brighter betokening the continents, the more sombre indicating the oceans that absorbed the solar rays. Above there were broad white bands, darkened on the side averted from the sun, exhibiting a slow but unintermittent movement; these were the vapors that pervaded the terrestrial atmosphere.

But as the aeronauts were being hurried on at a speed of 70 miles a second, this vague aspect of the earth soon developed itself into definite outlines. Mountains and plains were no longer confused, the distinction between sea and shore was more plainly identified, and instead of being, as it were, depicted on a map, the surface of the earth appeared as though modelled in relief.

Twenty-seven minutes past two, and Gallia is only 72,000 miles from the terrestrial sphere; quicker and quicker is the velocity; ten minutes later, and they are only 36,000 miles apart!

The whole configuration of the earth is clear.

"Europe! Russia! France!" shouted Procope, the count and Servadac, almost in a breath.

And they are not mistaken. The eastern hemisphere lies before them in the full blaze of light, and there is no possibility of error in distinguishing continent from continent.

The surprise only kindled their emotion to yet keener intensity and it would be hard to describe the excitement with which they gazed at the panorama that was before them. The crisis of peril was close at hand, but imagination overleaped all consideration of danger; and everything was absorbed in the one idea that they were again within reach of that circle of humanity from which they had supposed themselves severed forever.

And, truly, if they could have paused to study it that panorama of the states of Europe which was outstretched before their eyes, was conspicuous for the fantastic resemblances with which Nature on the one hand, and international relations on the other, have associated them. There was England, marching like some stately dame toward the east, trailing her ample skirts and coroneted with the cluster of her little Islets Sweden and Norway, with their bristling spine of mountains, seemed like a splendid lion eager to spring down from the bosom of the ice-bound north; Russia, a gigantic polar bear, stood with its head toward Asia, its left paw resting upon Turkey, its right upon Mount Caucasus; Austria resembled a huge cat curled up and sleeping a watchful sleep; Spain with Portugal as a pennant like an unfurled banner, floated from the extremity of the continent; Turkey, like an insolent cock, appeared to clutch the shores of Asia with the one claw, and the land of Greece with the other; Italy, as it were a foot and leg encased in a tight-fitting boot, was juggling deftly with the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica; Prussia, a formidable hatchet, imbedded in the heart of Germany, its edge dust grazing the frontiers of France; while France itself suggested a vigorous torso with Paris at its breast.

All at once Ben-Zouf breaks the silence.

"Montmartre! I see Montmartre!"

And, smile at the absurdity as others might, nothing could induce the worthy orderly to surrender his belief that he could actually make out the features of his beloved home.

The only individual whose soul seemed unstirred by the approaching earth was Palmyrin Rosette. Leaning over the side of the car, he kept his eye fixed upon the abandoned comet, now floating about a mile and a half below him, bright in the general irradiation which was flooding the surrounding space.

Chronometer in hand, Lieutenant Procope stood marking the minutes and seconds as they fled; and the stillness which had once again fallen upon them all was only broken by his order to replenish the stove, that the Montgolfier might retain its necessary level. Servadac and the count continued to gaze upon the earth with an eagerness that almost amounted to awe. The balloon was slightly in the rear of Gallia, a circumstance that augured somewhat favorably, because it might be presumed that if the comet preceded the balloon in its contact with the earth, there would be a break in the suddenness of transfer from one atmosphere to the other.

The next question of anxiety was, where would the balloon alight? If upon terra firma, would it be in a place where adequate resources for safety would be at hand? If upon the ocean, would any passing vessel be within hail to rescue them from their critical position? Truly, as the count observed to his comrades, none but a Divine Pilot could steer them now.

"Forty-two minutes past!" said the lieutenant, and his voice seemed to thrill through the silence of expectation.

There were not 20,000 miles between the comet and the earth!

The calculated time of impact was 2 hours, 47 minutes, 36.6 seconds.

Five minutes more and collision must ensue!

But was it so? Just at this moment, Lieutenant Procope observed that the comet deviated sensibly in an oblique course.

Was it possible that after all collision would not occur?

The deviation, however, was not great; it did not justify any anticipation that Gallia would merely graze the earth, as it had done before; it left it certain that the two bodies would inevitable impinge.

"No doubt," said Ben-Zouf, "this time we shall stick together."

Another thought occurred. Was it not only too likely that, in the fusion of the two atmospheres, the balloon itself, in which they were being conveyed, would be rent into ribbons and every one of its passengers hurled into destruction, so that not a Gallian should survive to tell the tale of their strange peregrinations?

Moments were precious; but Hector Servadac resolved that he would adopt a device to secure that at least some record of their excursion in solar distances should survive themselves.

Tearing a leaf from his note-book, he wrote down the name of the comet, the list of the fragments of the earth it had carried oft, the names of his companions, and the date of the comet's aphelion; and, having subscribed it with his signature, turned to Nina and told her he must have the carrier-pigeon which was nestling in her bosom.

The child's eyes filled with tears; she did not say a word, but, imprinting a kiss upon its soft plumage, she surrendered it at once, and the message was hurriedly fastened to its neck. The bird wheeled round and round in a few circles that widened in their diameter, and quickly sunk to an altitude in the comet's atmosphere much inferior to the balloon.

Some minutes more were thus consumed, and the interval of distance was reduced to less than 8,000 miles.

The velocity became inconceivably great, but the increased rate of motion was in no way perceptible; there was nothing to disturb the equilibrium of the car in which they were making their aerial adventure.

"Forty-six minutes!" announced the lieutenant.

The glowing expanse of the earth's disc seemed like a vast funnel yawning to receive the comet and its atmosphere, balloon and all, into its open mouth.

"Forty-seven!" cried Procope.

There was a half-minute yet. A thrill ran through every vein. A vibration quivered through the atmosphere. The Montgolfier, elongated to its utmost stretch, was manifestly being sucked into a vortex. Every passenger in the quivering car involuntarily clung spasmodically to its sides, and, as the two atmospheres amalgamated, clouds accumulated in heavy masses, involving all around in dense obscurity, while flashes of lurid flame threw a weird glimmer on the scene.

In a mystery every one found himself upon the earth again. They could not explain it, but here they were once more upon terrestrial soil; in a swoon they had left the earth, and in a similar swoon they had come back?

Of the balloon not a vestige remained, and contrary to previous computation, the comet had merely grazed the earth, and was traversing the regions of space, again far away!



"In Algeria, captain?"

"Yes Ben-Zouf, in Algeria; and not far from Mostaganem."

Such were the first words which, after their return to consciousness, were exchanged between Servadac and his orderly.

They had resided so long in the province that they could not for a moment be mistaken as to their whereabouts, and although they were incapable of clearing up the mysteries that shrouded the miracle, yet they were convinced at the first glance that they had been returned to the earth at the very identical spot where they had quitted it.

In fact, they were scarcely more than a mile from Mostaganem, and in the course of an hour, when they had all recovered from the bewilderment occasioned by the shock, they started off in a body and made their way to the town.

It was a matter of extreme surprise to find no symptom of the least excitement anywhere as they went along. The population was perfectly calm; every one was pursuing his ordinary avocation; the cattle were browsing quietly upon the pastures that were moist with the dew of an ordinary January morning. It was about eight o'clock; the sun was rising in the east; nothing could be noticed to indicate that any abnormal incident had either transpired or been expected by the inhabitants. As to a collision with a comet, there was not the faintest trace of any such phenomenon crossing men's minds, and awakening, as it surely would, a panic little short of the certified approach of the millennium.

"Nobody expects us," said Servadac; "that is very certain."

"No, indeed," answered Ben-Zouf, with a sigh; he was manifestly disappointed that his return to Mostaganem was not welcomed with a triumphal reception.

They reached the Mascara gate. The first persons that Servadac recognized were the two friends that he had invited to be his seconds in the duel two years ago, the colonel of the 2nd Fusiliers and the captain of the 8th Artillery.

In return to his somewhat hesitating salutation, the colonel greeted him heartily:

"Ah! Servadac old fellow? Is it you?"

"I, myself," said the captain.

"Where on earth have you been all this time? In the name of peace, what have you been doing with yourself?"

"You would never believe me, colonel," answered Servadac, "if I were to tell you; so on that point I had better hold my tongue."

"Hang your mysteries!" said the colonel; "tell me, where have you been?"

"No, my friend, excuse me," replied Servadac; "but shake hands with me in earnest, that I may be sure I am not dreaming."

Hector Servadac had made up his mind, and no amount of persuasion could induce him to divulge his incredible experiences.

Anxious to turn the subject, Servadac took the earliest opportunity of asking:

"And what about Madame de L-.——?"

"Madame de L——!" exclaimed the colonel, taking the words out of his mouth; "the lady is married long ago; you did not suppose that she was going to wait for you. 'Out of sight, out of mind,' you know."

"True," replied Servadac; and turning to the count, he said:

"Do you hear that? We shall not have to fight our duel after all."

"Most happy to be excused," rejoined the count.

The rivals took each other by the hand, and were united henceforth in the bonds of a sincere and confiding friendship.

"An immense relief," said Servadac to himself "that I have no occasion to finish that confounded rondo?"

It was agreed between the captain and the count that it would be desirable in every way to maintain the most rigid silence upon the subject of the inexplicable phenomena which had come within their experience. It was to them both a subject of the greatest perplexity to find that the shores of the Mediterranean had undergone no change, but they coincided in the opinion that it was prudent to keep their bewilderment entirely to themselves. Nothing induced them to break their reserve. The very next day the small community was broken up.

The "Dobryna's" crew, with the count and the lieutenant, started for Russia, and the Spaniards, provided, by the count's liberality, with a competency that ensured them from want, were despatched to their native shores. The leave-taking was accompanied by genuine tokens of regard and goodwill.

For Isaac Hakhabut alone there was no feeling of regret. Doubly ruined by the loss of his tartan, and by the abandonment of his fortune, he disappeared entirely from the scene. It is needless to say that no one troubled himself to institute a search after him, and as Ben-Zouf sententiously remarked:

"Perhaps old Jehoram is making money in America by exhibiting himself as the latest arrival from a comet!"

But however great was the reserve which Captain Servadac might make on his part, nothing could induce Professor Rosette to conceal his experiences. In spite of the denial which astronomer after astronomer gave to the appearance of such a comet as Gallia at all, and of its being refused admission to the catalogue, he published a voluminous treatise, not only detailing his own adventures, but setting forth, with the most elaborate precision, all the elements which settled its period and its orbit. Discussions arose in scientific circles; an overwhelming majority decided against the representations of the professor; an unimportant minority declared themselves in his favor, and a pamphlet obtained some degree of notice, ridiculing the whole debate under the title of "The History of an Hypothesis." In reply to this impertinent criticism of his labors, Rosette issued a rejoinder full of the most vehement expressions of indignation, and reiterating his asseveration that a fragment of Gibraltar was still traversing the regions of space, carrying thirteen Englishmen upon its surface, and concluding by saying that it was the great disappointment of his life that he had not been taken with them.

Pablo and little Nina were stopped, the one by Servadac the other by the Count, and under the supervision of their guardians were well educated and cared for. Some years later, Colonel, no longer Captain Servadac, his hair slightly streaked with gray, had the pleasure of seeing the handsome young Spaniard united in marriage to the Italian, now grown into a charming girl, upon whom the count bestowed an ample dowry; the young people's happiness in no way marred by the fact that they had not been destined, as once seemed likely, to be the Adam and Eve of a new world.

The career of the comet was ever a mystery which neither Servadac nor his orderly could eliminate from the regions of doubt. Anyhow, they were firmer and more confiding friends than ever.

One day, in the environs of Montmartre, where they were secure from eavesdroppers, Ben-Zouf incidentally referred to the experiences in the depths of Nina-Hive but stopped short and said:

"However, those things never happened, sir, did they?" His master could only reply:

"Confound it, Ben-Zouf! What is a man to believe?"