Topsy Turvy

Page 25

Then the electricity passed into other objects and disappeared through the floor. The stupefied Mr. Maston got up and touched the different parts of his body to assure himself that he was not hurt internally. This done, he resumed his cold, calculating way. He picked everything up in his room, put it in the same place where it had been before and put his blackboard on the easel, picked up the small pieces of chalk and began again his work, which had been so suddenly interrupted. He noticed that on account of the fall the number which he had made on the right side of the blackboard was partly erased, and he was just about to replace it when his telephone again rang with a loud noise. “Again,” said J.T, Maston, and going to the telephone he exclaimed, “who is there?” “Mistress Scorbitt.” “And what does Mrs. Scorbitt want?” “Did not this terrible thunderbolt strike Ballistic cottage? I have good reason to think so. Ah, great God, the thunderbolt!”

“Don’t be alarmed, Mrs. Scorbitt.”

“You have not been injured, Mr. Maston?”

“Not at all,” he replied.

“You are sure you have no injuries whatever,” said the lady.

“I am only touched by your kindness towards me,” replied Mr. Maston, thinking it the best way to answer.

“Good evening, dear Mr. Maston.”

“Good evening, dear Mrs. Scorbitt.”

Returning to his work Mr. Maston said, sotto voce, “To the devil with her. If she had not handled the telephone at such a time I would not have run the risk of being hurt by electricity.”

Mr. Maston did not wish to be interrupted in his work again and so took down his telephone and cut the wire. Then, taking again as basis the figure which he had written, he added different formulas of it, and finally a certain formula which he had written on his left side, and then he began to figure in all the language of algebra. A week later, on the 11th of October, this magnificent calculation was finished and the Secretary of the Gun Club brought his solution of the problem with great pride and satisfaction to the members of the Gun Club, who were awaiting it with very natural impatience. This then was the practical way to get to the North Pole mathematically discovered. Here was also a society, under the name of the N.P.P.A., to which the Government of Washington had accorded a clear title of the Arctic region in case they should buy it on auction, and we have told of the purchase made in favor of American buyers and of the appeal for a subscription of $15,000,000.



On the 22nd of December the subscribers to Barbicane & Co. were summoned to a general meeting. It is hardly necessary to say that the headquarters of the Gun Club were selected as the place of the meeting. In reality the whole block would not have been sufficient to give room to the large crowd of subscribers who assembled on that day. But a meeting in the fresh air on one of the public squares of Baltimore was not very agreeable in such cold weather. Usually the large hall of the Gun Club was decorated with models of all kinds lent by members of the Club. It was a real museum of artillery. Even the furniture, chairs and tables, sofas and divans, recalled by their strange shapes those murderous engines which had sent into a better world many brave people whose greatest wish was to die of old age.

On this meeting day all these things were taken down and out. This was not a meeting for the purpose of war, but a commercial and peaceful meeting over which Impey Barbicane was going to preside. All room possible had been made for the subscribers who arrived from all parts of the United States. In the hall as well as in the adjoining rooms the crowds were pushing and pressing each other without heeding the innumerable people who were standing on the adjoining streets. The members of the Gun Club, as first subscribers to the affair, had places reserved for them very near the desk. Among them could be found Col. Bloomsberry, more happy than ever; Tom Hunter, with his wooden legs, and the jolly Bilsby.

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