Topsy Turvy

Page 16

A cannon 900 feet long, nine feet broad at the bore, had been especially made at Moon City and had then been charged with 400,000 pounds of gun-cotton.

From this cannon a small cylindro-conical bomb had been flung towards the stars with a pressure of six millards pounds per square inch. After having made a grand curve it fell back to the earth only to be swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean at 27° 7’ of latitude and 41° 37’ of longitude, west. It was in this region that the frigate, Susquehanna, of the American Navy, had fished it up to the surface of the ocean, to the great comfort of its occupants. Occupants? Yes, occupants; for two members of the Gun Club—its President, Impey Barbicane, and Capt. Nicholl—accompanied by a Frenchman well known for his boldness in such cases, had been in this flying-machine. All three of them came back well and healthy from this dangerous trip. But if the two Americans were here ready to risk any similar thing, the French Michel Ardan was not. On his return to Europe he brought a fortune with him, although it astonished a good many people, and now he is planting his own cabbage in his own garden, eating them and even digesting them, if one can believe the best-informed reporters.

After this discharge of the cannon, Impey Barbicane and Capt. Nicholl had lived on their reputation in comparative quietness. As they were always anxious to do another thing like it, they dreamt and tried to find out something else. Money they had in plenty. Out of five millions and a half which had been raised for them by subscription they had nearly $200,000 left. This money was raised in the Old and New Worlds alike. Besides, all they had to do was to exhibit themselves in their projectile in America and they could always realize large amounts of money. They had earned all the glory which the most ambitious mortal would look for. Impey Barbicane and Capt. Nicholl would have been well able to keep quiet and idle if this very idleness did not torment them. And it was simply no doubt to do something that they had gone to work and bought this part of the Arctic region.

But it must not be forgotten that if the purchase cost $800,000 and more, that it was Mrs. Evangelina Scorbitt who had put the necessary amount into this affair. Thanks to this generous woman Europe had been conquered by America. Since their return President Barbicane and Capt. Nicholl had enjoyed a supreme celebrity. But there was another man who deserved credit in the matter. It is easy to guess that J.T. Maston was the man of whom we speak, the temporary Secretary of the Gun Club. Did we not owe to this brilliant calculator all the mathematical formulae which enabled us to tell the story of the voyage to the moon? If he did not accompany his two associates on their terrible journey it was not fear which kept him back. No, indeed, it was only the injuries he had received during the war. For really it would have made a bad impression on the inhabitants on the moon to see him in his disabled condition as a representative of our people, and the moon only our humble satellite. To his extreme regret, Mr. Maston was compelled to stay at home. Nevertheless he had not been idle. After having constructed an immense telescope, which was put on the mountain of Long’s Peak, one of the highest mountains of the Rocky range, he went up there personally, and after he had received the signal that the cannon-ball had been fired he did not once leave his post. From his place of observation he essayed the task of following his friends firing across the vast space. One might readily believe that his friends would be lost to the world; that it was very easily possible that this projectile could be compelled by the attraction of the moon to become a sub-satellite. A deviation which one might call providential had changed the direction of the projectile, and after having made one trip around the moon, in place of touching it, it was carried away in a terrible fall and returned to us with a speed of 576,000 miles a minute to the moment when it was swallowed up by the ocean.

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