Topsy Turvy

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were operating. Should they doubt the authenticity of this cable? No, that was not reasonable. The Consul at Zanzibar was a very reliable person, and his information could be accepted without doubt. It was further corroborated by later telegrams. It was really in the center of the region of Kilimanjaro in the African Wamasai, a little under the equatorial line, where the engineers of the N.P.P.A. were going to accomplish their gigantic works.

How could they have secretly reached this lost country, at the foot of the celebrated mountain, discovered in 1849 by Drs. Rebviani and Krapf, ascended by the travellers Otto Ehlers and Abbot? How were they able to establish their workshops there, erect a foundry and bring a large number of help, or at least enough to succeed? How had they been able to establish friendly relations with the dangerous tribes of the country and their sover[e]igns, as cunning as they were cruel? This we do not know. And perhaps it would never be known, as there were only a few days left before the 22d of September would arrive. J.T. Maston heard from Mrs. Evangelina Scorbitt that the mystery of Kilimanjaro had been unveiled by a telegram sent from Zanzibar. “Great Scott!” he exclaimed, sawing the air with his iron hand. “Well, we do not travel by telegram yet, nor by the telephone, and in six days the matter will be finished.”

Those who saw and heard this remarkable man utter these words were astonished at the energy in the old gunner.

J.T. Maston was right. There was no time left to send agents to Wamasai with orders to arrest President Barbicane. They would even have been too late had they departed from Algiers or Egypt, even from Aden, Madagascar, or Zanzibar, as they would have met thousands of difficulties in this mountainous region, and perhaps they would have met with an army composed of followers of the Sultan, who was interested in the matter. Therefore all hope of preventing this operation had to be given up. But if prevention was impossible nothing seemed more easy than the figuring out of the terrible consequences, as the exact situation of “x” was now known.

This problem was difficult enough, but all algebraists and mathematicians of large reputation ought to be able to solve it. As the cable of the Consul of Zanzibar had been sent direct to the Minister of State at Washington, the Federal Government wanted to keep it secret at first. They wished as well that its contents were published all over the country, so that they could indicate what the results would be of this displacement of the axis and the uprising of the oceans, and thus the inhabitants of the world might learn which place of refuge was open to them according to the section of the globe in which they lived. And it is easy to understand how anxious the people were to learn their fate.

On the 14th of September the cable dispatch was sent to the office of the Observatory at Washington, with orders to figure out the final consequences upon geographical locations. Two days afterwards the problem was all worked out. The Old World was notified of the results by cable and the New World by telegram. After this calculation had been published by thousands of papers, it was the only thing talked of in the great cities and everywhere. What will happen?

This was the question which everybody was asking at every point of the globe.

The following was the notice made by the Observatory at Washington:


The operation which is being tried by President Barbicane and Capt. Nicholl is as follows:

The production of a recoil, on the 22d of September, at midnight, by means of a cannon a million times larger in volume than the cannon of twenty-seven centimetres, throwing a projectile of 180,000 tons, with a powder giving it a velocity of 2,800 kilometres.

Now, if this shooting takes place below the equatorial line, nearly on the thirty-fourth degree of latitude west of the meridian of Paris, at the foot of Kilimanjaro, and if it is directed towards the south, these are the mechanical effects which it will have on the earth’s sphere: Instantly, in consequence of the shock acting with the daily movement a new axis will be formed and, as the old axis will be displaced to the amount of twenty-three degrees and twenty-eight minutes, according to the figures obtained by J.T.

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