The twelve hundred miles of the Behring Sea between the first of the Aleutians and the extreme end of Kamtschatka were traversed during the twenty-four hours of this day and the following night. Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans found that here was no present chance of putting their project of escape into execution. Flight was not to be thought of among the deserts of Eastern Asia, nor on the coast of the sea of Okhotsk. Evidently the "Albatross" was bound for Japan or China, and there, although it was not perhaps quite safe to trust themselves to the, mercies of the Chinese or Japanese, the two friends had made up their minds to run if the aeronef stopped.
But would she stop? She was not like a bird which grows fatigued by too long a flight, or like a balloon which has to descend for want of gas. She still had food for many weeks and her organs were of marvelous strength, defying all weakness and weariness.
During the 18th of June she swept over the peninsula of Kamtschatka, and during the day there was a glimpse of Petropaulovski and the volcano of Kloutschew. Then she rose again to cross the Sea of Okhotsk, running down by the Kurile Isles, which seemed to be a breakwater pierced by hundreds of channels. On the 19th, in the morning, the "Albatross" was over the strait of La Perouse between Saghalien and Northern Japan, and had reached the mouth of the great Siberian river, the Amoor.
Then there came a fog so dense that the aeronef had to rise above it. At the altitude she was there was no obstacle to be feared, no elevated monuments to hinder her passage, no mountains against which there was risk of being shattered in her flight. The country was only slightly varied. But the fog was very disagreeable, and made everything on board very damp.
All that was necessary was to get above this bed of mist, which was nearly thirteen hundred feet thick, and the ascensional screws being increased in speed, the "Albatross" was soon clear of the fog and in the sunny regions of the sky. Under these circumstances, Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans would have found some difficulty in carrying out their plan of escape, even admitting that they could leave the aeronef.
During the day, as Robur passed them he stopped for a moment, and without seeming to attach any importance to what he said, addressed them carelessly as follows: "Gentlemen, a sailing-ship or a steamship caught in a fog from which it cannot escape is always much delayed. It must not move unless it keeps its whistle or its horn going. It must reduce its speed, and any instant a collision may be expected. The "Albatross" has none of these things to fear. What does fog matter to her? She can leave it when she chooses. The whole of space is hers." And Robur continued his stroll without waiting for an answer, and the puffs of his pipe were lost in the sky.
"Uncle Prudent," said Phil Evans, "it seems that this astonishing "Albatross" never has anything to fear."
"That we shall see!" answered the president of the Weldon Institute.
"The fog lasted three days, the 19th, 20th, and 21st of June, with regrettable persistence. An ascent had to be made to clear the Japanese mountain of Fujiyama. When the curtain of mist was drawn aside there lay below them an immense city, with palaces, villas, gardens, and parks. Even without seeing it Robur had recognized it by the barking of the innumerable dogs, the cries of the birds of prey, and above all, by the cadaverous odor which the bodies of its executed criminals gave off into space.
The two colleagues were out on the deck while the engineer was taking his observations in case. he thought it best to continue his course through the fog.
"Gentlemen," said he, "I have no reason for concealing from you that this town is Tokyo, the capital of Japan."
Uncle Prudent did not reply. In the presence of the engineer he was almost choked, as if his lungs were short of air.
"This view of Tokyo," continued Robur, "is very curious."
"Curious as it may be --" replied Phil Evans.