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The Moon-Voyage by Jules Verne

Part 4 out of 7

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skittles, and cards were left in their wrappings, and testified that the
great event of the day absorbed all attention.

Until nightfall a dull, noiseless agitation like that which precedes
great catastrophes ran through the anxious crowd. An indescribable
uneasiness oppressed all minds, and stopped the beating of all hearts.
Every one wished it over.

However, about seven o'clock this heavy silence was suddenly broken. The
moon rose above the horizon. Several millions of hurrahs saluted her
apparition. She was punctual to the appointment. Shouts of welcome broke
from all parts, whilst the blonde Phoebe shone peacefully in a clear
sky, and caressed the enraptured crowd with her most affectionate rays.

At that moment the three intrepid travellers appeared. When they
appeared the cries redoubled in intensity. Unanimously, instantaneously,
the national song of the United States escaped from all the spectators,
and "Yankee Doodle," sung by 5,000,000 of hearty throats, rose like a
roaring tempest to the farthest limits of the atmosphere.

Then, after this irresistible outburst, the hymn was ended, the last
harmonies died away by degrees, and a silent murmur floated over the
profoundly-excited crowd.

In the meantime the Frenchman and the two Americans had stepped into the
inclosure round which the crowd was pressing. They were accompanied by
the members of the Gun Club, and deputations sent by the European
observatories. Barbicane was coolly and calmly giving his last orders.
Nicholl, with compressed lips and hands crossed behind his back, walked
with a firm and measured step. Michel Ardan, always at his ease, clothed
in a perfect travelling suit, with leather gaiters on his legs, pouch at
his side, in vast garment of maroon velvet, a cigar in his mouth,
distributed shakes of the hand with princely prodigality. He was full of
inexhaustible gaiety, laughing, joking, playing pranks upon the worthy
J.T. Maston, and was, in a word, "French," and, what is worse,
"Parisian," till the last second.

Ten o'clock struck. The moment had come to take their places in the
projectile; the necessary mechanism for the descent the door-plate to
screw down, the removal of the cranes and scaffolding hung over the
mouth of the Columbiad, took some time.

Barbicane had set his chronometer to the tenth of a second by that of
the engineer Murchison, who was entrusted with setting fire to the
powder by means of the electric spark; the travellers shut up in the
projectile could thus watch the impassive needle which was going to mark
the precise instant of their departure.

The moment for saying farewell had come. The scene was touching; in
spite of his gaiety Michel Ardan felt touched. J.T. Maston had found
under his dry eyelids an ancient tear that he had, doubtless, kept for
the occasion. He shed it upon the forehead of his dear president.

"Suppose I go too?" said he. "There is still time!"

"Impossible, old fellow," answered Barbicane.

A few moments later the three travelling companions were installed in
the projectile, and had screwed down the door-plate, and the mouth of
the Columbiad, entirely liberated, rose freely towards the sky.

Nicholl, Barbicane, and Michel Ardan were definitively walled up in
their metal vehicle.

Who could predict the universal emotion then at its paroxysm?

The moon was rising in a firmament of limpid purity, outshining on her
passage the twinkling fire of the stars; she passed over the
constellation of the Twins, and was now nearly halfway between the
horizon and the zenith.

A frightful silence hung over all that scene. There was not a breath of
wind on the earth! Not a sound of breathing from the crowd! Hearts dared
not beat. Every eye was fixed on the gaping mouth of the Columbiad.

Murchison watched the needle of his chronometer. Hardly forty seconds
had to elapse before the moment of departure struck, and each one lasted
a century!

At the twentieth there was a universal shudder, and the thought occurred
to all the crowd that the audacious travellers shut up in the vehicle
were likewise counting these terrible seconds! Some isolated cries were

--forty! Fire!!!"

Murchison immediately pressed his finger upon the electric knob and
hurled the electric spark into the depths of the Columbiad.

A fearful, unheard-of, superhuman report, of which nothing could give
an idea, not even thunder or the eruption of volcanoes, was immediately
produced. An immense spout of fire sprang up from the bowels of the
earth as if from a crater. The soil heaved and very few persons caught a
glimpse of the projectile victoriously cleaving the air amidst the
flaming smoke.



At the moment when the pyramid of flame rose to a prodigious height in
the air it lighted up the whole of Florida, and for an incalculable
moment day was substituted for night over a considerable extent of
country. This immense column of fire was perceived for a hundred miles
out at sea, from the Gulf and from the Atlantic, and more than one
ship's captain noted the apparition of this gigantic meteor in his

The discharge of the Columbiad was accompanied by a veritable
earthquake. Florida was shaken to its very depths. The gases of the
powder, expanded by heat, forced back the atmospheric strata with
tremendous violence, passing like a waterspout through the air.

Not one spectator remained on his legs; men, women, and children were
thrown down like ears of wheat in a storm; there was a terrible tumult,
and a large number of people were seriously injured. J.T. Maston, who
had very imprudently kept to the fore, was thrown twenty yards backwards
like a bullet over the heads of his fellow-citizens. Three hundred
thousand people were temporarily deafened and as though thunderstruck.

The atmospheric current, after throwing over huts and cabins, uprooting
trees within a radius of twenty miles, throwing the trains off the
railway as far as Tampa, burst upon the town like an avalanche and
destroyed a hundred houses, amongst others the church of St. Mary and
the new edifice of the Exchange. Some of the vessels in the port were
run against each other and sunk, and ten of them were stranded high and
dry after breaking their chains like threads of cotton.

But the circle of these devastations extended farther still, and beyond
the limits of the United States. The recoil, aided by the westerly
winds, was felt on the Atlantic at more than 300 miles from the American
shores. An unexpected tempest, which even Admiral Fitzroy could not have
foreseen, broke upon the ships with unheard-of violence. Several
vessels, seized by a sort of whirlwind before they had time to furl
their sails, were sunk, amongst others the _Childe Harold_, of
Liverpool, a regrettable catastrophe which was the object of lively

Lastly--although the fact is not warranted except by the affirmation of
a few natives--half-an-hour after the departure of the projectile the
inhabitants of Sierra-Leone pretended that they heard a dull noise, the
last displacement of the sonorous waves, which, after crossing the
Atlantic, died away on the African coast.

But to return to Florida. The tumult once lessened, the wounded and
deaf--in short, all the crowd--rose and shouted in a sort of frenzy,
"Hurrah for Ardan! Hurrah for Barbicane! Hurrah for Nicholl!" Several
millions of men, nose in air, armed with telescopes and every species of
field-glass, looked into space, forgetting contusions and feelings, in
order to look at the projectile. But they sought in vain; it was not to
be seen, and they resolved to await the telegrams from Long's Peak. The
director of the Cambridge Observatory, M. Belfast, was at his post in
the Rocky Mountains, and it was to this skilful and persevering
astronomer that the observations had been entrusted.

But an unforeseen phenomenon, against which nothing could be done, soon
came to put public impatience to a rude test.

The weather, so fine before, suddenly changed; the sky became covered
with clouds. It could not be otherwise after so great a displacement of
the atmospheric strata and the dispersion of the enormous quantity of
gases from the combustion of 200,000 lbs. of pyroxyle. All natural order
had been disturbed. There is nothing astonishing in that, for in
sea-fights it has been noticed that the state of the atmosphere has been
suddenly changed by the artillery discharge.

The next day the sun rose upon an horizon covered with thick clouds, a
heavy and an impenetrable curtain hung between earth and sky, and which
unfortunately extended as far as the regions of the Rocky Mountains. It
was a fatality. A concert of complaints rose from all parts of the
globe. But Nature took no notice, and as men had chosen to disturb the
atmosphere with their gun, they must submit to the consequences.

During this first day every one tried to pierce the thick veil of
clouds, but no one was rewarded for the trouble; besides, they were all
mistaken in supposing they could see it by looking up at the sky, for on
account of the diurnal movement of the globe the projectile was then, of
course, shooting past the line of the antipodes.

However that might be, when night again enveloped the earth--a dark,
impenetrable night--it was impossible to see the moon above the horizon;
it might have been thought that she was hiding on purpose from the bold
beings who had shot at her. No observation was, therefore, possible, and
the despatches from Long's Peak confirmed the disastrous intelligence.

However, if the experiment had succeeded, the travellers, who had
started on the 1st of December, at 10h. 46m. 40s. p.m., were due at
their destination on the 4th at midnight; so that as up to that time it
would, after all, have been difficult to observe a body so small, people
waited with all the patience they could muster.

On the 4th of December, from 8 p.m. till midnight, it would have been
possible to follow the trace of the projectile, which would have
appeared like a black speck on the shining disc of the moon. But the
weather remained imperturbably cloudy, and exasperated the public, who
swore at the moon for not showing herself. _Sic transit gloria mundi_!

J.T. Maston, in despair, set out for Long's Peak. He wished to make an
observation himself. He did not doubt that his friends had arrived at
the goal of their journey. No one had heard that the projectile had
fallen upon any continent or island upon earth, and J.T. Maston did not
admit for a moment that it could have fallen into any of the oceans with
which the earth is three parts covered.

On the 5th the same weather. The large telescopes of the old
world--those of Herschel, Rosse, and Foucault--were invariably fixed
upon the Queen of Night, for the weather was magnificent in Europe, but
the relative weakness of these instruments prevented any useful

On the 6th the same weather reigned. Impatience devoured three parts of
the globe. The most insane means were proposed for dissipating the
clouds accumulated in the air.

On the 7th the sky seemed to clear a little. Hopes revived but did not
last long, and in the evening thick clouds defended the starry vault
against all eyes.

Things now became grave. In fact, on the 11th, at 9.11 a.m., the moon
would enter her last quarter. After this delay she would decline every
day, and even if the sky should clear the chances of observation would
be considerably lessened--in fact, the moon would then show only a
constantly-decreasing portion of her disc, and would end by becoming
new--that is to say, she would rise and set with the sun, whose rays
would make her quite invisible. They would, therefore, be obliged to
wait till the 3rd of January, at 12.43 p.m., till she would be full
again and ready for observation.

The newspapers published these reflections with a thousand commentaries,
and did not fail to tell the public that it must arm itself with angelic

On the 8th no change. On the 9th the sun appeared for a moment, as if to
jeer at the Americans. It was received with hisses, and wounded,
doubtless, by such a reception, it was very miserly of its rays.

On the 10th no change. J.T. Maston nearly went mad, and fears were
entertained for his brain until then so well preserved in its
gutta-percha cranium.

But on the 11th one of those frightful tempests peculiar to tropical
regions was let loose in the atmosphere. Terrific east winds swept away
the clouds which had been so long there, and in the evening the
half-disc of the moon rode majestically amidst the limpid constellations
of the sky.



That same night the news so impatiently expected burst like a
thunderbolt over the United States of the Union, and thence darting
across the Atlantic it ran along all the telegraphic wires of the globe.
The projectile had been perceived, thanks to the gigantic reflector of
Long's Peak.

The following is the notice drawn up by the director of the Cambridge
Observatory. It resumes the scientific conclusion of the great
experiment made by the Gun Club:--

"Long's Peak, December 12th.

"To the Staff of the Cambridge Observatory.

"The projectile hurled by the Columbiad of Stony Hill was perceived by
Messrs. Belfast and J.T. Maston on the 12th of December at 8.47 p.m.,
the moon having entered her last quarter.

"The projectile has not reached its goal. It has deviated to the side,
but near enough to be detained by lunar attraction.

"There its rectilinear movement changed to a circular one of extreme
velocity, and it has been drawn round the moon in an elliptical orbit,
and has become her satellite.

"We have not yet been able to determine the elements of this new star.
Neither its speed of translation or rotation is known. The distance
which separates it from the surface of the moon may be estimated at
about 2,833 miles.

"Now two hypotheses may be taken into consideration as to a modification
in this state of things:--

"Either the attraction of the moon will end by drawing it towards her,
and the travellers will reach the goal of their journey,

"Or the projectile, maintained in an immutable orbit, will gravitate
round the lunar disc till the end of time.

"Observation will settle this point some day, but until now the
experiment of the Gun Club has had no other result than that of
providing our solar system with a new star.


What discussions this unexpected _denouement_ gave rise to! What a
situation full of mystery the future reserved for the investigations of
science! Thanks to the courage and devotion of three men, this
enterprise of sending a bullet to the moon, futile enough in appearance,
had just had an immense result, the consequences of which are
incalculable. The travellers imprisoned in a new satellite, if they have
not attained their end, form at least part of the lunar world; they
gravitate around the Queen of Night, and for the first time human eyes
can penetrate all her mysteries. The names of Nicholl, Barbicane, and
Michel Ardan would be for ever celebrated in astronomical annals, for
these bold explorers, desirous of widening the circle of human
knowledge, had audaciously rushed into space, and had risked their lives
in the strangest experiment of modern times.

The notice from Long's Peak once made known, there spread throughout the
universe a feeling of surprise and horror. Was it possible to go to the
aid of these bold inhabitants of the earth? Certainly not, for they had
put themselves outside of the pale of humanity by crossing the limits
imposed by the Creator on His terrestrial creatures. They could procure
themselves air for two months; they had provisions for one year; but
after? The hardest hearts palpitated at this terrible question.

One man alone would not admit that the situation was desperate. One
alone had confidence, and it was their friend--devoted, audacious, and
resolute as they--the brave J.T. Maston.

He resolved not to lose sight of them. His domicile was henceforth the
post of Long's Peak--his horizon the immense reflector. As soon as the
moon rose above the horizon he immediately framed her in the field of
his telescope; he did not lose sight of her for an instant, and
assiduously followed her across the stellar spaces; he watched with
eternal patience the passage of the projectile over her disc of silver,
and in reality the worthy man remained in perpetual communication with
his three friends, whom he did not despair of seeing again one day.

"We will correspond with them," said he to any one who would listen, "as
soon as circumstances will allow. We shall have news from them, and they
will have news from us. Besides, I know them--they are ingenious men.
Those three carry with them into space all the resources of art,
science, and industry. With those everything can be accomplished, and
you will see that they will get out of the difficulty."


[Illustration: "They watched thus through the lateral windows."]

* * * * *


* * * * *




During the course of the year 186---- the entire world was singularly
excited by a scientific experiment without precedent in the annals of
science. The members of the Gun Club, a circle of artillerymen
established at Baltimore after the American war, had the idea of putting
themselves in communication with the moon--yes, with the moon--by
sending a bullet to her. Their president, Barbicane, the promoter of the
enterprise, having consulted the astronomers of the Cambridge
Observatory on this subject, took all the precautions necessary for the
success of the extraordinary enterprise, declared practicable by the
majority of competent people. After having solicited a public
subscription which produced nearly 30,000,000 of francs, it began its
gigantic labours.

According to the plan drawn up by the members of the observatory, the
cannon destined to hurl the projectile was to be set up in some country
situated between the 0 deg. and 28 deg. of north or south latitude in order to
aim at the moon at the zenith. The bullet was to be endowed with an
initial velocity of 12,000 yards a second. Hurled on the 1st of December
at thirteen minutes and twenty seconds to eleven in the evening, it was
to get to the moon four days after its departure on the 5th of December
at midnight precisely, at the very instant she would be at her
perigee--that is to say, nearest to the earth, or at exactly 86,410
leagues' distance.

The principal members of the Gun Club, the president, Barbicane, Major
Elphinstone, the secretary, J.T. Maston, and other _savants_, held
several meetings, in which the form and composition of the bullet were
discussed, as well as the disposition and nature of the cannon, and the
quality and quantity of the powder to be employed. It was decided--1,
that the projectile should be an obus of aluminium, with a diameter of
800 inches; its sides were to be 12 inches thick, and it was to weigh
19,250 lbs.; 2, that the cannon should be a cast-iron Columbiad 900 feet
long, and should be cast at once in the ground; 3, that the charge
should consist of 400,000 lbs. of gun-cotton, which, by developing
6,000,000,000 litres of gas under the projectile, would carry it easily
towards the Queen of Night.

These questions settled, President Barbicane, aided by the engineer,
Murchison, chose a site in Florida in 27 deg. 7' north lat. and 5 deg. 7' west
long. It was there that after marvels of labour the Columbiad was cast
quite successfully.

Things were at that pass when an incident occurred which Increased the
interest attached to this great enterprise.

A Frenchman, a regular Parisian, an artist as witty as audacious, asked
leave to shut himself up in the bullet in order to reach the moon and
make a survey of the terrestrial satellite. This intrepid adventurer's
name was Michel Ardan. He arrived in America, was received with
enthusiasm, held meetings, was carried in triumph, reconciled President
Barbicane to his mortal enemy, Captain Nicholl, and in pledge of the
reconciliation he persuaded them to embark with him in the projectile.

The proposition was accepted. The form of the bullet was changed. It
became cylindro-conical. They furnished this species of aerial
compartment with powerful springs and breakable partitions to break the
departing shock. It was filled with provisions for one year, water for
some months, and gas for some days. An automatic apparatus made and gave
out the air necessary for the respiration of the three travellers. At
the same time the Gun Club had a gigantic telescope set up on one of the
highest summits of the Rocky Mountains, through which the projectile
could be followed during its journey through space. Everything was then

On the 30th of November, at the time fixed, amidst an extraordinary
concourse of spectators, the departure took place, and for the first
time three human beings left the terrestrial globe for the
interplanetary regions with almost the certainty of reaching their goal.

These audacious travellers, Michel Ardan, President Barbicane, and
Captain Nicholl were to accomplish their journey in ninety-seven hours
thirteen minutes and twenty seconds; consequently they could not reach
the lunar disc until the 5th of December, at midnight, at the precise
moment that the moon would be full, and not on the 4th, as some
wrongly-informed newspapers had given out.

But an unexpected circumstance occurred; the detonation produced by the
Columbiad had the immediate effect of disturbing the terrestrial
atmosphere, where an enormous quantity of vapour accumulated. This
phenomenon excited general indignation, for the moon was hidden during
several nights from the eyes of her contemplators.

The worthy J.T. Maston, the greatest friend of the three travellers, set
out for the Rocky Mountains in the company of the Honourable J. Belfast,
director of the Cambridge Observatory, and reached the station of Long's
Peak, where the telescope was set up which brought the moon, apparently,
to within two leagues. The honourable secretary of the Gun Club wished
to observe for himself the vehicle that contained his audacious friends.

The accumulation of clouds in the atmosphere prevented all observation
during the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th of December. It was even
thought that no observation could take place before the 3rd of January
in the following year, for the moon, entering her last quarter on the
11th, would after that not show enough of her surface to allow the trace
of the projectile to be followed.

But at last, to the general satisfaction, a strong tempest during the
night between the 11th and 12th of December cleared the atmosphere, and
the half-moon was distinctly visible on the dark background of the sky.

That same night a telegram was sent from Long's Peak Station by J.T.
Maston and Belfast to the staff of the Cambridge Observatory.

This telegram announced that on the 11th of December, at 8.47 p.m., the
projectile hurled by the Columbiad of Stony Hill had been perceived by
Messrs. Belfast and J.T. Maston, that the bullet had deviated from its
course through some unknown cause, and had not reached its goal, but had
gone near enough to be retained by lunar attraction; that its
rectilinear movement had been changed to a circular one, and that it was
describing an elliptical orbit round the moon, and had become her

The telegram added that the elements of this new star had not yet been
calculated--in fact, three observations, taking a star in three
different positions, are necessary to determine them. Then it stated
that the distance separating the projectile from the lunar surface
"might be" estimated at about 2,833 leagues, or 4,500 miles.

It ended with the following double hypothesis:--Either the attraction of
the moon would end by carrying the day, and the travellers would reach
their goal; or the projectile, fixed in an immutable orbit, would
gravitate around the lunar disc to the end of time.

In either of these alternatives what would be the travellers' fate? It
is true they had provisions enough for some time. But even supposing
that their bold enterprise were crowned with success, how would they
return? Could they ever return? Would news of them ever reach the earth?
These questions, debated upon by the most learned writers of the time,
intensely interested the public.

A remark may here be made which ought to be meditated upon by too
impatient observers. When a _savant_ announces a purely speculative
discovery to the public he cannot act with too much prudence. No one is
obliged to discover either a comet or a satellite, and those who make a
mistake in such a case expose themselves justly to public ridicule.
Therefore it is better to wait; and that is what impatient J.T. Maston
ought to have done before sending to the world the telegram which,
according to him, contained the last communication about this

In fact, the telegram contained errors of two sorts, verified later:--1.
Errors of observation concerning the distance of the projectile from the
surface of the moon, for upon the date of the 11th of December it was
impossible to perceive it, and that which J.T. Maston had seen, or
thought he saw, could not be the bullet from the Columbiad. 2. A
theoretic error as to the fate of the said projectile, for making it a
satellite of the moon was an absolute contradiction of the laws of
rational mechanics.

One hypothesis only made by the astronomers of Long's Peak might be
realised, the one that foresaw the case when the travellers--if any yet
existed--should unite their efforts with the lunar attraction so as to
reach the surface of the disc.

Now these men, as intelligent as they were bold, had survived the
terrible shock at departure, and their journey in their bullet-carriage
will be related in its most dramatic as well as in its most singular
details. This account will put an end to many illusions and previsions,
but it will give a just idea of the various circumstances incidental to
such an enterprise, and will set in relief Barbicane's scientific
instincts, Nicholl's industrial resources, and the humorous audacity of
Michel Ardan.

Besides, it will prove that their worthy friend J.T. Maston was losing
his time when, bending over the gigantic telescope, he watched the
course of the moon across the planetary regions.


FROM 10.20 P.M. TO 10.47 P.M.

When ten o'clock struck, Michel Ardan, Barbicane, and Nicholl said
good-bye to the numerous friends they left upon the earth. The two dogs,
destined to acclimatise the canine race upon the lunar continents, were
already imprisoned in the projectile. The three travellers approached
the orifice of the enormous iron tube, and a crane lowered them to the
conical covering of the bullet.

There an opening made on purpose let them down into the aluminium
vehicle. The crane's tackling was drawn up outside, and the mouth of the
Columbiad instantly cleared of its last scaffolding.

As soon as Nicholl and his companions were in the projectile he closed
the opening by means of a strong plate screwed down inside. Other
closely-fitting plates covered the lenticular glasses of the skylights.
The travellers, hermetically inclosed in their metal prison, were in
profound darkness.

"And now, my dear companions," said Michel Ardan, "let us make ourselves
at home. I am a domestic man myself, and know how to make the best of
any lodgings. First let us have a light; gas was not invented for

Saying which the light-hearted fellow struck a match on the sole of his
boot and then applied it to the burner of the receptacle, in which there
was enough carbonised hydrogen, stored under strong pressure, for
lighting and heating the bullet for 144 hours, or six days and six

Once the gas lighted, the projectile presented the aspect of a
comfortable room with padded walls, furnished with circular divans, the
roof of which was in the shape of a dome.

The objects in it, weapons, instruments, and utensils, were solidly
fastened to the sides in order to bear the parting shock with impunity.
Every possible precaution had been taken to insure the success of so
bold an experiment.

Michel Ardan examined everything, and declared himself quite satisfied
with his quarters.

"It is a prison," said he, "but a travelling prison, and if I had the
right to put my nose to the window I would take it on a hundred years'
lease! You are smiling, Barbicane. You are thinking of something you do
not communicate. Do you say to yourself that this prison may be our
coffin? Our coffin let it be; I would not change it for Mahomet's, which
only hangs in space, and does not move!"

Whilst Michel Ardan was talking thus, Barbicane and Nicholl were making
their last preparations.

It was 10.20 p.m. by Nicholl's chronometer when the three travellers
were definitely walled up in their bullet. This chronometer was
regulated to the tenth of a second by that of the engineer, Murchison.
Barbicane looked at it.

"My friends," said he, "it is twenty minutes past ten; at thirteen
minutes to eleven Murchison will set fire to the Columbiad; at that
minute precisely we shall leave our spheroid. We have, therefore, still
seven-and-twenty minutes to remain upon earth."

"Twenty-six minutes and thirteen seconds," answered the methodical

"Very well!" cried Michel Ardan good-humouredly; "in twenty-six minutes
lots of things can be done. We can discuss grave moral or political
questions, and even solve them. Twenty-six minutes well employed are
worth more than twenty-six years of doing nothing. A few seconds of a
Pascal or a Newton are more precious than the whole existence of a crowd
of imbeciles."

"And what do you conclude from that, talker eternal?" asked President

"I conclude that we have twenty-six minutes," answered Ardan.

"Twenty-four only," said Nicholl.

"Twenty-four, then, if you like, brave captain," answered Ardan;
"twenty-four minutes, during which we might investigate--"

"Michel," said Barbicane, "during our journey we shall have plenty of
time to investigate the deepest questions. Now we must think of

"Are we not ready?"

"Certainly. But there are still some precautions to be taken to deaden
the first shock as much as possible!"

"Have we not water-cushions placed between movable partitions elastic
enough to protect us sufficiently?"

"I hope so, Michel," answered Barbicane gently; "but I am not quite

"Ah, the joker!" exclaimed Michel Ardan. "He hopes! He is not quite
sure! And he waits till we are encased to make this deplorable
acknowledgment! I ask to get out."

"By what means?" asked Barbicane.

"Well!" said Michel Ardan, "it would be difficult. We are in the train,
and the guard's whistle will be heard in twenty-four minutes."

"Twenty!" ejaculated Nicholl.

The three travellers looked at one another for a few seconds. Then they
examined all the objects imprisoned with them.

"Everything is in its place," said Barbicane. "The question now is where
we can place ourselves so as best to support the departing shock. The
position we assume must be important too--we must prevent the blood
rushing too violently to our heads."

"That is true," said Nicholl.

"Then," answered Michel Ardan, always ready to suit the action to the
word, "we will stand on our heads like the clowns at the circus."

"No," said Barbicane; "but let us lie on our sides; we shall thus resist
the shock better. When the bullet starts it will not much matter whether
we are inside or in front."

"If it comes to 'not much matter' I am more reassured," answered Michel

"Do you approve of my idea, Nicholl?" asked Barbicane.

"Entirely," answered the captain. "Still thirteen minutes and a-half."

"Nicholl is not a man," exclaimed Michel; "he is a chronometer marking
the seconds, and with eight holes in--"

But his companions were no longer listening to him, and they were making
their last preparations with all the coolness imaginable. They looked
like two methodical travellers taking their places in the train and
making themselves as comfortable as possible. One wonders, indeed, of
what materials these American hearts are made, to which the approach of
the most frightful danger does not add a single pulsation.

Three beds, thick and solidly made, had been placed in the projectile.
Nicholl and Barbicane placed them in the centre of the disc that formed
the movable flooring. There the three travellers were to lie down a few
minutes before their departure.

In the meanwhile Ardan, who could not remain quiet, turned round his
narrow prison like a wild animal in a cage, talking to his friends and
his dogs, Diana and Satellite, to whom it will be noticed he had some
time before given these significant names.

"Up, Diana! up, Satellite!" cried he, exciting them. "You are going to
show to the Selenite dogs how well-behaved the dogs of the earth can be!
That will do honour to the canine race. If we ever come back here I will
bring back a cross-breed of 'moon-dogs' that will become all the rage."

"If there are any dogs in the moon," said Barbicane.

"There are some," affirmed Michel Ardan, "the same as there are horses,
cows, asses, and hens. I wager anything we shall find some hens."

"I bet a hundred dollars we find none," said Nicholl.

"Done, captain," answered Ardan, shaking hands with Nicholl. "But,
by-the-bye, you have lost three bets with the president, for the funds
necessary for the enterprise were provided, the casting succeeded, and
lastly, the Columbiad was loaded without accident--that makes six
thousand dollars."

"Yes," answered Nicholl. "Twenty-three minutes and six seconds to

"I hear, captain. Well, before another quarter of an hour is over you
will have to make over another nine thousand dollars to the president,
four thousand because the Columbiad will not burst, and five thousand
because the bullet will rise higher than six miles into the air."

"I have the dollars," answered Nicholl, striking his coat pocket, "and I
only want to pay."

"Come, Nicholl, I see you are a man of order, what I never could be; but
allow me to tell you that your series of bets cannot be very
advantageous to you."

"Why?" asked Barbicane.

"Because if you win the first the Columbiad will have burst, and the
bullet with it, and Barbicane will not be there to pay you your

"My wager is deposited in the Baltimore Bank," answered Barbicane
simply; "and in default of Nicholl it will go to his heirs."

"What practical men you are!" cried Michel Ardan. "I admire you as much
as I do not understand you."

"Eighteen minutes to eleven," said Nicholl.

"Only five minutes more," answered Barbicane.

"Yes, five short minutes!" replied Michel Ardan. "And we are shut up in
a bullet at the bottom of a cannon 900 feet long! and under this bullet
there are 400,000 lbs. of gun-cotton, worth more than 1,600,000 lbs. of
ordinary powder! And friend Murchison, with his chronometer in hand and
his eye fixed on the hand and his finger on the electric knob, is
counting the seconds to hurl us into the planetary regions."

"Enough, Michel, enough!" said Barbicane in a grave tone. "Let us
prepare ourselves. A few seconds only separate us from a supreme moment.
Your hands, my friends."

"Yes," cried Michel Ardan, more moved than he wished to appear.

The three bold companions shook hands.

"God help us!" said the religious president.

Michel Ardan and Nicholl lay down on their beds in the centre of the

"Thirteen minutes to eleven," murmured the captain.

Twenty seconds more! Barbicane rapidly put out the gas, and lay down
beside his companions.

The profound silence was only broken by the chronometer beating the

Suddenly a frightful shock was felt, and the projectile, under the
impulsion of 6,000,000,000 litres of gas developed by the deflagration
of the pyroxyle, rose into space.



What had happened? What was the effect of the frightful shock? Had the
ingenuity of the constructors of the projectile been attended by a happy
result? Was the effect of the shock deadened, thanks to the springs, the
four buffers, the water-cushions, and the movable partitions? Had they
triumphed over the frightful impulsion of the initial velocity of 11,000
metres a second? This was evidently the question the thousands of
witnesses of the exciting scene asked themselves. They forgot the object
of the journey, and only thought of the travellers! Suppose one of
them--J.T. Maston, for instance--had been able to get a glimpse of the
interior of the projectile, what would he have seen?

Nothing then. The obscurity was profound in the bullet. Its
cylindro-conical sides had resisted perfectly. There was not a break, a
crack, or a dint in them. The admirable projectile was not hurt by the
intense deflagration of the powders, instead of being liquefied, as it
was feared, into a shower of aluminium.

In the interior there was very little disorder on the whole. A few
objects had been violently hurled up to the roof, but the most important
did not seem to have suffered from the shock. Their fastenings were

On the movable disc, crushed down to the bottom by the smashing of the
partitions and the escape of the water, three bodies lay motionless. Did
Barbicane, Nicholl, and Michel Ardan still breathe? Was the projectile
nothing but a metal coffin carrying three corpses into space?

A few minutes after the departure of the bullet one of these bodies
moved, stretched out its arms, lifted up its head, and succeeded in
getting upon its knees. It was Michel Ardan. He felt himself, uttered a
sonorous "Hum," then said--

"Michel Ardan, complete. Now for the others!"

The courageous Frenchman wanted to get up, but he could not stand. His
head vacillated; his blood, violently sent up to his head, blinded him.
He felt like a drunken man.

"Brrr!" said he. "I feel as though I had been drinking two bottles of
Corton, only that was not so agreeable to swallow!"

Then passing his hand across his forehead several times, and rubbing his
temples, he called out in a firm voice--

"Nicholl! Barbicane!"

He waited anxiously. No answer. Not even a sigh to indicate that the
hearts of his companions still beat. He reiterated his call. Same

"The devil!" said he. "They seem as though they had fallen from the
fifth story upon their heads! Bah!" he added with the imperturbable
confidence that nothing could shake, "if a Frenchman can get upon his
knees, two Americans will have no difficulty in getting upon their feet.
But, first of all, let us have a light on the subject."

Ardan felt life come back to him in streams. His blood became calm, and
resumed its ordinary circulation. Fresh efforts restored his
equilibrium. He succeeded in getting up, took a match out of his pocket,
and struck it; then putting it to the burner he lighted the gas. The
meter was not in the least damaged. The gas had not escaped. Besides,
the smell would have betrayed it, and had this been the case, Michel
Ardan could not with impunity have lighted a match in a medium filled
with hydrogen. The gas, mixed in the air, would have produced a
detonating mixture, and an explosion would have finished what a shock
had perhaps begun.

As soon as the gas was lighted Ardan bent down over his two companions.
Their bodies were thrown one upon the other, Nicholl on the top,
Barbicane underneath.

Ardan raised the captain, propped him up against a divan, and rubbed him
vigorously. This friction, administered skilfully, reanimated Nicholl,
who opened his eyes, instantly recovered his presence of mind, seized
Ardan's hand, and then looking round him--

"And Barbicane?" he asked.

"Each in turn," answered Michel Ardan tranquilly. "I began with you,
Nicholl, because you were on the top. Now I'll go to Barbicane."

That said, Ardan and Nicholl raised the president of the Gun Club and
put him on a divan. Barbicane seemed to have suffered more than his
companions. He was bleeding, but Nicholl was glad to find that the
hemorrhage only came from a slight wound in his shoulder. It was a
simple scratch, which he carefully closed.

Nevertheless, Barbicane was some time before he came to himself, which
frightened his two friends, who did not spare their friction.

"He is breathing, however," said Nicholl, putting his ear to the breast
of the wounded man.

"Yes," answered Ardan, "he is breathing like a man who is in the habit
of doing it daily. Rub, Nicholl, rub with all your might."

And the two improvised practitioners set to work with such a will and
managed so well that Barbicane at last came to his senses. He opened his
eyes, sat up, took the hands of his two friends, and his first words

"Nicholl, are we going on?"

Nicholl and Ardan looked at one another. They had not yet thought about
the projectile. Their first anxiety had been for the travellers, not for
the vehicle.

"Well, really, are we going on?" repeated Michel Ardan.

"Or are we tranquilly resting on the soil of Florida?" asked Nicholl.

"Or at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico?" added Michel Ardan.

"Impossible!" cried President Barbicane.

This double hypothesis suggested by his two friends immediately recalled
him to life and energy.

They could not yet decide the question. The apparent immovability of the
bullet and the want of communication with the exterior prevented them
finding it out. Perhaps the projectile was falling through space.
Perhaps after rising a short distance it had fallen upon the earth, or
even into the Gulf of Mexico, a fall which the narrowness of the
Floridian peninsula rendered possible.

The case was grave, the problem interesting. It was necessary to solve
it as soon as possible. Barbicane, excited, and by his moral energy
triumphing over his physical weakness, stood up and listened. A profound
silence reigned outside. But the thick padding was sufficient to shut
out all the noises on earth; However, one circumstance struck
Barbicane. The temperature in the interior of the projectile was
singularly high. The president drew out a thermometer from the envelope
that protected it and consulted it. The instrument showed 81 deg. Fahr.

"Yes!" he then exclaimed--"yes, we are moving! This stifling heat oozes
through the sides of our projectile. It is produced by friction against
the atmosphere. It will soon diminish; because we are already moving in
space, and after being almost suffocated we shall endure intense cold."

"What!" asked Michel Ardan, "do you mean to say that we are already
beyond the terrestrial atmosphere?"

"Without the slightest doubt, Michel. Listen to me. It now wants but
five minutes to eleven. It is already eight minutes since we started.
Now, if our initial velocity has not been diminished by friction, six
seconds would be enough for us to pass the sixteen leagues of atmosphere
which surround our spheroid."

"Just so," answered Nicholl; "but in what proportion do you reckon the
diminution of speed by friction?"

"In the proportion of one-third," answered Barbicane. "This diminution
is considerable, but it is so much according to my calculations. If,
therefore, we have had an initial velocity of 11,000 metres, when we get
past the atmosphere it will be reduced to 7,332 metres. However that may
be, we have already cleared that space, and--"

"And then," said Michel Ardan, "friend Nicholl has lost his two
bets--four thousand dollars because the Columbiad has not burst, five
thousand dollars because the projectile has risen to a greater height
than six miles; therefore, Nicholl, shell out."

"We must prove it first," answered the captain, "and pay afterwards. It
is quite possible that Barbicane's calculations are exact, and that I
have lost my nine thousand dollars. But another hypothesis has come into
my mind, and it may cancel the wager."

"What is that?" asked Barbicane quickly.

"The supposition that for some reason or other the powder did not catch
fire, and we have not started."

"Good heavens! captain," cried Michel Ardan, "that is a supposition
worthy of me! It is not serious! Have we not been half stunned by the
shock? Did I not bring you back to life? Does not the president's
shoulder still bleed from the blow?"

"Agreed, Michel," replied Nicholl, "but allow me to ask one question."

"Ask it, captain."

"Did you hear the detonation, which must certainly have been

"No," answered Ardan, much surprised, "I certainly did not hear it."

"And you, Barbicane?"

"I did not either."

"What do you make of that?" asked Nicholl.

"What indeed!" murmured the president; "why did we not hear the

The three friends looked at one another rather disconcertedly. Here was
an inexplicable phenomenon. The projectile had been fired, however, and
there must have been a detonation.

"We must know first where we are," said Barbicane, "so let us open the

This simple operation was immediately accomplished. The screws that
fastened the bolts on the outer plates of the right-hand skylight
yielded to the coach-wrench. These bolts were driven outside, and
obturators wadded with indiarubber corked up the hole that let them
through. The exterior plate immediately fell back upon its hinges like a
port-hole, and the lenticular glass that covered the hole appeared. An
identical light-port had been made in the other side of the projectile,
another in the dome, and a fourth in the bottom. The firmament could
therefore be observed in four opposite directions--the firmament through
the lateral windows, and the earth or the moon more directly through the
upper or lower opening of the bullet.

Barbicane and his companions immediately rushed to the uncovered
port-hole. No ray of light illuminated it. Profound darkness surrounded
the projectile. This darkness did not prevent Barbicane exclaiming--

"No, my friends, we have not fallen on the earth again! No, we are not
immersed at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico! Yes, we are going up
through space! Look at those stars that are shining in the darkness, and
the impenetrable darkness that lies between the earth and us!"

"Hurrah! hurrah!" cried Michel Ardan and Nicholl with one voice.

In fact, the thick darkness proved that the projectile had left the
earth, for the ground, then brilliantly lighted by the moon, would have
appeared before the eyes of the travellers if they had been resting upon
it. This darkness proved also that the projectile had passed beyond the
atmosphere, for the diffused light in the air would have been reflected
on the metallic sides of the projectile, which reflection was also
wanting. This light would have shone upon the glass of the light-port,
and that glass was in darkness. Doubt was no longer possible. The
travellers had quitted the earth.

"I have lost." said Nicholl.

"I congratulate you upon it," answered Ardan.

"Here are nine thousand dollars," said the captain, taking a bundle of
notes out of his pocket.

"Will you have a receipt?" asked Barbicane as he took the money.

"If you do not mind," answered Nicholl; "it is more regular."

And as seriously and phlegmatically as if he had been in his
counting-house, President Barbicane drew out his memorandum-book and
tore out a clear page, wrote a receipt in pencil, dated it, signed it,
and gave it to the captain, who put it carefully into his pocket-book.

Michel Ardan took off his hat and bowed to his two companions without
speaking a word. Such formality under such circumstances took away his
power of speech. He had never seen anything so American.

Once their business over, Barbicane and Nicholl went back to the
light-port and looked at the constellations. The stars stood out clearly
upon the dark background of the sky. But from this side the moon could
not be seen, as she moves from east to west, rising gradually to the
zenith. Her absence made Ardan say--

"And the moon? Is she going to fail us?"

"Do not frighten yourself," answered Barbicane, "Our spheroid is at her
post, but we cannot see her from this side. We must open the opposite

At the very moment when Barbicane was going to abandon one window to set
clear the opposite one, his attention was attracted by the approach of a
shining object. It was an enormous disc the colossal dimensions of which
could not be estimated. Its face turned towards the earth was
brilliantly lighted. It looked like a small moon reflecting the light of
the large one. It advanced at prodigious speed, and seemed to describe
round the earth an orbit right across the passage of the projectile. To
the movement of translation of this object was added a movement of
rotation upon itself. It was therefore behaving like all celestial
bodies abandoned in space.

"Eh!" cried Michel Ardan. "Whatever is that? Another projectile?"

Barbicane did not answer. The apparition of this enormous body surprised
him and made him uneasy. A collision was possible which would have had
deplorable results, either by making the projectile deviate from its
route and fall back upon the earth, or be caught up by the attractive
power of the asteroid.

President Barbicane had rapidly seized the consequences of these three
hypotheses, which in one way or other would fatally prevent the success
of his attempt. His companions were silently watching the object, which
grew prodigiously larger as it approached, and through a certain optical
illusion it seemed as if the projectile were rushing upon it.

"Ye gods!" cried Michel Ardan; "there will be a collision on the line!"

The three travellers instinctively drew back. Their terror was extreme,
but it did not last long, hardly a few seconds. The asteroid passed at a
distance of a few hundred yards from the projectile and disappeared, not
so much on account of the rapidity of its course, but because its side
opposite to the moon was suddenly confounded with the absolute darkness
of space.

"A good journey to you!" cried Michel Ardan, uttering a sigh of
satisfaction. "Is not infinitude large enough to allow a poor little
bullet to go about without fear? What was that pretentious globe which
nearly knocked against us?"

"I know!" answered Barbicane.

"Of course! you know everything."

"It is a simple asteroid," said Barbicane; "but so large that the
attraction of the earth has kept it in the state of a satellite."

"Is it possible!" exclaimed Michel Ardan. "Then the earth has two moons
like Neptune?"

"Yes, my friend, two moons, though she is generally supposed to have but
one. But this second moon is so small and her speed so great that the
inhabitants of the earth cannot perceive her. It was by taking into
account certain perturbations that a French astronomer, M. Petit, was
able to determine the existence of this second satellite and calculate
its elements. According to his observations, this asteroid accomplishes
its revolution round the earth in three hours and twenty minutes only.
That implies prodigious speed."

"Do all astronomers admit the existence of this satellite?" asked

"No," answered Barbicane; "but if they had met it like we have they
could not doubt any longer. By-the-bye, this asteroid, which would have
much embarrassed us had it knocked against us, allows us to determine
our position in space."

"How?" said Ardan.

"Because its distance is known, and where we met it we were exactly at
8,140 kilometres from the surface of the terrestrial globe."

"More than 2,000 leagues!" cried Michel Ardan. "That beats the express
trains of the pitiable globe called the earth!"

"I should think it did," answered Nicholl, consulting his
chronometer; "it is eleven o'clock, only thirteen minutes since we
left the American continent."

"Only thirteen minutes?" said Barbicane.

"That is all," answered Nicholl; "and if our initial velocity were
constant we should make nearly 10,000 leagues an hour."

"That is all very well, my friends," said the president; "but one
insoluble question still remains--why did we not hear the detonation of
the Columbiad?"

For want of an answer the conversation stopped, and Barbicane, still
reflecting, occupied himself with lowering the covering of the second
lateral light-port. His operation succeeded, and through the glass the
moon filled the interior of the projectile with brilliant light.
Nicholl, like an economical man, put out the gas that was thus rendered
useless, and the brilliance of which obstructed the observation of
planetary space.

The lunar disc then shone with incomparable purity. Her rays, no longer
filtered by the vapoury atmosphere of the terrestrial globe, shone
clearly through the glass and saturated the interior air of the
projectile with silvery reflections. The black curtain of the firmament
really doubled the brilliancy of the moon, which in this void of ether
unfavourable to diffusion did not eclipse the neighbouring stars. The
sky, thus seen, presented quite a different aspect--one that no human
eye could imagine.

It will be readily understood with what interest these audacious men
contemplated the moon, the supreme goal of their journey. The earth's
satellite, in her movement of translation, insensibly neared the zenith,
a mathematical point which she was to reach about ninety-six hours
later. Her mountains and plains, or any object in relief, were not seen
more plainly than from the earth; but her light across the void was
developed with incomparable intensity. The disc shone like a platinum
mirror. The travellers had already forgotten all about the earth which
was flying beneath their feet.

It was Captain Nicholl who first drew attention to the vanished globe.

"Yes!" answered Michel Ardan. "We must not be ungrateful to it. As we
are leaving our country let our last looks reach it. I want to see the
earth before it disappears completely from our eyes!"

Barbicane, to satisfy the desires of his companion, occupied himself
with clearing the window at the bottom of the projectile, the one
through which they could observe the earth directly. The movable floor
which the force of projection had sent to the bottom was taken to
pieces, not without difficulty; its pieces, carefully placed against the
sides, might still be of use. Then appeared a circular bay window, half
a yard wide, cut in the lower part of the bullet. It was filled with
glass five inches thick, strengthened with brass settings. Under it was
an aluminium plate, held down by bolts. The screws taken out and the
bolts withdrawn, the plate fell back, and visual communication was
established between interior and exterior.

Michel Ardan knelt upon the glass. It was dark, and seemed opaque.

"Well," cried he, "but where's the earth?"

"There it is," said Barbicane.

"What!" cried Ardan, "that thin streak, that silvery crescent?"

"Certainly, Michel. In four days' time, when the moon is full, at the
very minute we shall reach her, the earth will be new. She will only
appear to us under the form of a slender crescent, which will soon
disappear, and then she will be buried for some days in impenetrable

"That the earth!" repeated Michel Ardan, staring at the thin slice of
his natal planet.

The explanation given by President Barbicane was correct. The earth,
looked at from the projectile, was entering her last quarter. She was in
her octant, and her crescent was clearly outlined on the dark background
of the sky. Her light, made bluish by the thickness of her atmosphere,
was less intense than that of the lunar crescent. This crescent then
showed itself under considerable dimensions. It looked like an enormous
arch stretched across the firmament. Some points, more vividly lighted,
especially in its concave part, announced the presence of high
mountains; but they disappeared sometimes under black spots, which are
never seen on the surface of the lunar disc. They were rings of clouds
placed concentrically round the terrestrial spheroid.

However, by dint of a natural phenomenon, identical with that produced
on the moon when she is in her octants, the contour of the terrestrial
globe could be traced. Its entire disc appeared slightly visible through
an effect of pale light, less appreciable than that of the moon. The
reason of this lessened intensity is easy to understand. When this
reflection is produced on the moon it is caused by the solar rays which
the earth reflects upon her satellite. Here it was caused by the solar
rays reflected from the moon upon the earth. Now terrestrial light is
thirteen times more intense than lunar light on account of the
difference of volume in the two bodies. Hence it follows that in the
phenomenon of the pale light the dark part of the earth's disc is less
clearly outlined than that of the moon's disc, because the intensity of
the phenomenon is in proportion to the lighting power of the two stars.
It must be added that the terrestrial crescent seems to form a more
elongated curve than that of the disc--a pure effect of irradiation.

Whilst the travellers were trying to pierce the profound darkness of
space, a brilliant shower of falling stars shone before their eyes.
Hundreds of meteors, inflamed by contact with the atmosphere, streaked
the darkness with luminous trails, and lined the cloudy part of the disc
with their fire. At that epoch the earth was in her perihelion, and the
month of December is so propitious to these shooting stars that
astronomers have counted as many as 24,000 an hour. But Michel Ardan,
disdaining scientific reasoning, preferred to believe that the earth was
saluting with her finest fireworks the departure of her three children.

This was all they saw of the globe lost in the darkness, an inferior
star of the solar world, which for the grand planets rises or sets as a
simple morning or evening star! Imperceptible point in space, it was now
only a fugitive crescent, this globe where they had left all their

For a long time the three friends, not speaking, yet united in heart,
watched while the projectile went on with uniformly decreasing velocity.
Then irresistible sleep took possession of them. Was it fatigue of body
and mind? Doubtless, for after the excitement of the last hours passed
upon earth, reaction must inevitably set in.

"Well," said Michel, "as we must sleep, let us go to sleep."

Stretched upon their beds, all three were soon buried in profound

But they had not been unconscious for more than a quarter of an hour
when Barbicane suddenly rose, and, waking his companions, in a loud
voice cried--

"I've found it!"

"What have you found?" asked Michel Ardan, jumping out of bed.

"The reason we did not hear the detonation of the Columbiad!"

"Well?" said Nicholl.

"It was because our projectile went quicker than sound."



This curious but certainly correct explanation once given, the three
friends fell again into a profound sleep. Where would they have found a
calmer or more peaceful place to sleep in? Upon earth, houses in the
town or cottages in the country feel every shock upon the surface of the
globe. At sea, ships, rocked by the waves, are in perpetual movement. In
the air, balloons incessantly oscillate upon the fluid strata of
different densities. This projectile alone, travelling in absolute void
amidst absolute silence, offered absolute repose to its inhabitants.

The sleep of the three adventurers would have, perhaps, been
indefinitely prolonged if an unexpected noise had not awakened them
about 7 a.m. on the 2nd of December, eight hours after their departure.

This noise was a very distinct bark.

"The dogs! It is the dogs!" cried Michel Ardan, getting up immediately.

"They are hungry," said Nicholl.

"I should think so," answered Michel; "we have forgotten them."

"Where are they?" asked Barbicane.

One of the animals was found cowering under the divan. Terrified and
stunned by the first shock, it had remained in a corner until the moment
it had recovered its voice along with the feeling of hunger.

It was Diana, still rather sheepish, that came from the retreat, not
without urging. Michel Ardan encouraged her with his most gracious

"Come, Diana," he said--"come, my child; your destiny will be noted in
cynegetic annals! Pagans would have made you companion to the god
Anubis, and Christians friend to St. Roch! You are worthy of being
carved in bronze for the king of hell, like the puppy that Jupiter gave
beautiful Europa as the price of a kiss! Your celebrity will efface that
of the Montargis and St. Bernard heroes. You are rushing through
interplanetary space, and will, perhaps, be the Eve of Selenite dogs!
You will justify up there Toussenel's saying, 'In the beginning God
created man, and seeing how weak he was, gave him the dog!' Come, Diana,
come here!"

Diana, whether flattered or not, came out slowly, uttering plaintive

"Good!" said Barbicane. "I see Eve, but where is Adam?"

"Adam," answered Michel Ardan, "can't be far off. He is here somewhere.
He must be called! Satellite! here, Satellite!"

But Satellite did not appear. Diana continued moaning. It was decided,
however, that she was not wounded, and an appetising dish was set before
her to stop her complaining.

As to Satellite, he seemed lost. They were obliged to search a long time
before discovering him in one of the upper compartments of the
projectile, where a rather inexplicable rebound had hurled him
violently. The poor animal was in a pitiable condition.

"The devil!" said Michel. "Our acclimatisation is in danger!"

The unfortunate dog was carefully lowered. His head had been fractured
against the roof, and it seemed difficult for him to survive such a
shock. Nevertheless, he was comfortably stretched on a cushion, where he
sighed once.

"We will take care of you," said Michel; "we are responsible for your
existence. I would rather lose an arm than a paw of my poor Satellite."

So saying he offered some water to the wounded animal, who drank it

These attentions bestowed, the travellers attentively watched the earth
and the moon. The earth only appeared like a pale disc terminated by a
crescent smaller than that of the previous evening, but its volume
compared with that of the moon, which was gradually forming a perfect
circle, remained enormous.

"_Parbleu_!" then said Michel Ardan; "I am really sorry we did not start
when the earth was at her full--that is to say, when our globe was in
opposition to the sun!"

"Why?" asked Nicholl.

"Because we should have seen our continents and seas under a new
aspect--the continents shining under the solar rays, the seas darker,
like they figure upon certain maps of the world! I should like to have
seen those poles of the earth upon which the eye of man has never yet

"I daresay," answered Barbicane, "but if the earth had been full the
moon would have been new--that is to say, invisible amidst the
irradiation of the sun. It is better for us to see the goal we want to
reach than the place we started from."

"You are right, Barbicane," answered Captain Nicholl; "and besides, when
we have reached the moon we shall have plenty of time during the long
lunar nights to consider at leisure the globe that harbours men like

"Men like us!" cried Michel Ardan. "But now they are not more like us
than the Selenites. We are inhabitants of a new world peopled by us
alone--the projectile! I am a man like Barbicane, and Barbicane is a man
like Nicholl. Beyond us and outside of us humanity ends, and we are the
only population of this microcosm until the moment we become simple

"In about eighty-eight hours," replied the captain.

"Which means?" asked Michel Ardan.

"That it is half-past eight," answered Nicholl.

"Very well," answered Michel, "I fail to find the shadow of a reason why
we should not breakfast _illico_."

In fact, the inhabitants of the new star could not live in it without
eating, and their stomachs then submitted to the imperious laws of
hunger. Michel Ardan, in his quality of Frenchman, declared himself
chief cook, an important function that no one disputed with him. The gas
gave the necessary degrees of heat for cooking purposes, and the
provision-locker furnished the elements of this first banquet.

The breakfast began with three cups of excellent broth, due to the
liquefaction in hot water of three precious Liebig tablets, prepared
from the choicest morsels of the Pampas ruminants. Some slices of
beefsteak succeeded them, compressed by the hydraulic press, as tender
and succulent as if they had just come from the butchers of the Paris
Cafe Anglais. Michel, an imaginative man, would have it they were even

Preserved vegetables, "fresher than the natural ones," as the amiable
Michel observed, succeeded the meat, and were followed by some cups of
tea and slices of bread and butter, American fashion. This beverage,
pronounced excellent, was made from tea of the first quality, of which
the Emperor of Russia had put some cases at the disposition of the

Lastly, as a worthy ending to the meal, Ardan ferreted out a fine bottle
of "Nuits" burgundy that "happened" to be in the provision compartment.
The three friends drank it to the union of the earth and her satellite.

And as if the generous wine it had distilled upon the hill-sides of
Burgundy were not enough, the sun was determined to help in the feast.
The projectile at that moment emerged from the cone of shadow cast by
the terrestrial globe, and the sun's rays fell directly upon the lower
disc of the bullet, on account of the angle which the orbit of the moon
makes with that of the earth.

"The sun!" exclaimed Michel Ardan.

"Of course," answered Barbicane; "I expected it."

"But," said Michel, "the cone of shadow thrown by the earth into space
extends beyond the moon."

"Much beyond if you do not take the atmospheric refraction into
account," said Barbicane. "But when the moon is enveloped in that shadow
the centres of the three heavenly bodies--the sun, the earth, and the
moon--are in a straight line. Then the nodes coincide with the full moon
and there is an eclipse. If, therefore, we had started during an eclipse
of the moon all our journey would have been accomplished in the dark,
which would have been a pity."


"Because, although we are journeying in the void, our projectile, bathed
in the solar rays, will gather their light and heat; therefore there
will be economy of gas, a precious economy in every way."

In fact, under these rays, the temperature and brilliancy of which there
was no atmosphere to soften, the projectile was lighted and warmed as if
it had suddenly passed from winter to summer. The moon above and the sun
below inundated it with their rays.

"It is pleasant here now," said Nicholl.

"I believe you!" cried Michel Ardan. "With a little vegetable soil
spread over our aluminium planet we could grow green peas in twenty-four
hours. I have only one fear, that is that the walls of our bullet will

"You need not alarm yourself, my worthy friend," answered Barbicane.
"The projectile supported a much higher temperature while it was
travelling through the atmosphere. I should not even wonder if it looked
to the eyes of the spectators like a fiery meteor."

"Then J.T. Maston must think we are roasted!"

"What I am astonished at," answered Barbicane, "is that we are not. It
was a danger we did not foresee."

"I feared it," answered Nicholl simply.

"And you did not say anything about it, sublime captain!" cried Michel
Ardan, shaking his companion's hand.

In the meantime Barbicane was making his arrangements in the projectile
as though he was never going to leave it. It will be remembered that the
base of the aerial vehicle was fifty-four feet square. It was twelve
feet high, and admirably fitted up in the interior. It was not much
encumbered by the instruments and travelling utensils, which were all in
special places, and it left some liberty of movement to its three
inhabitants. The thick glass let into a part of the floor could bear
considerable weight with impunity. Barbicane and his companions walked
upon it as well as upon a solid floor; but the sun, which struck it
directly with its rays, lighting the interior of the projectile from
below, produced singular effects of light.

They began by examining the state of the water and provision
receptacles. They were not in the least damaged, thanks to the
precautions taken to deaden the shock. The provisions were abundant, and
sufficient for one year's food. Barbicane took this precaution in case
the projectile should arrive upon an absolutely barren part of the moon.
There was only enough water and brandy for two months. But according to
the latest observations of astronomers, the moon had a dense low and
thick atmosphere, at least in its deepest valleys, and there streams and
watercourses could not fail. Therefore the adventurous explorers would
not suffer from hunger or thirst during the journey, and the first year
of their installation upon the lunar continent.

The question of air in the interior of the projectile also offered all
security. The Reiset and Regnault apparatus, destined to produce oxygen,
was furnished with enough chlorate of potash for two months. It
necessarily consumed a large quantity of gas, for it was obliged to keep
the productive matter up to 100 deg.. But there was abundance of that also.
The apparatus wanted little looking after. It worked automatically. At
that high temperature the chlorate of potash changed into chlorine of
potassium, and gave out all the oxygen it contained. The eighteen pounds
of chlorate of potash gave out the seven pounds of oxygen necessary for
the daily consumption of the three travellers.

But it was not enough to renew the oxygen consumed; the carbonic acid
gas produced by expiration must also be absorbed. Now for the last
twelve hours the atmosphere of the bullet had become loaded with this
deleterious gas, the product of the combustion of the elements of blood
by the oxygen taken into the lungs. Nicholl perceived this state of the
air by seeing Diana palpitate painfully. In fact, carbonic acid
gas--through a phenomenon identical with the one to be noticed in the
famous Dog's Grotto--accumulated at the bottom of the projectile by
reason of its weight. Poor Diana, whose head was low down, therefore
necessarily suffered from it before her masters. But Captain Nicholl
made haste to remedy this state of things. He placed on the floor of the
projectile several receptacles containing caustic potash which he shook
about for some time, and this matter, which is very greedy of carbonic
acid, completely absorbed it, and thus purified the interior air.

An inventory of the instruments was then begun. The thermometers and
barometers were undamaged, with the exception of a minimum thermometer
the glass of which was broken. An excellent aneroid was taken out of
its padded box and hung upon the wall. Of course it was only acted upon
by and indicated the pressure of the air inside the projectile; but it
also indicated the quantity of moisture it contained. At that moment its
needle oscillated between 25.24 and 25.08. It was at "set fair."

Barbicane had brought several compasses, which were found intact. It
will be easily understood that under those circumstances their needles
were acting at random, without any constant direction. In fact, at the
distance the projectile was from the earth the magnetic pole could not
exercise any sensible action upon the apparatus. But these compasses,
taken upon the lunar disc, might show particular phenomena. In any case
it would be interesting to verify whether the earth's satellite, like
the earth herself, submitted to magnetical influence.

A hypsometer to measure the altitude of the lunar mountains, a sextant
to take the height of the sun, a theodolite, an instrument for
surveying, telescopes to be used as the moon approached--all these
instruments were carefully inspected and found in good condition,
notwithstanding the violence of the initial shock.

As to the utensils--pickaxes, spades, and different tools--of which
Nicholl had made a special collection, the sacks of various kinds of
grain, and the shrubs which Michel Ardan counted upon transplanting into
Selenite soil, they were in their places in the upper corners of the
projectile. There was made a sort of granary, which the prodigal
Frenchman had filled. What was in it was very little known, and the
merry fellow did not enlighten anybody. From time to time he climbed up
the cramp-irons riveted in the walls to this store-room, the inspection
of which he had reserved to himself. He arranged and re-arranged,
plunged his hand rapidly into certain mysterious boxes, singing all the
time in a voice very out of tune some old French song to enliven the

Barbicane noticed with interest that his rockets and other fireworks
were not damaged. These were important, for, powerfully loaded, they
were meant to slacken the speed with which the projectile would, when
attracted by the moon after passing the point of neutral attraction,
fall upon her surface. This fall besides would be six times less rapid
than it would have been upon the surface of the earth, thanks to the
difference of volume in the two bodies.

The inspection ended, therefore, in general satisfaction. Then they all
returned to their posts of observation at the lateral and lower

The same spectacle was spread before them. All the extent of the
celestial sphere swarmed with stars and constellations of marvellous
brilliancy, enough to make an astronomer wild! On one side the sun, like
the mouth of a fiery furnace, shone upon the dark background of the
heavens. On the other side the moon, reflecting back his fires, seemed
motionless amidst the starry world. Then a large spot, like a hole in
the firmament, bordered still by a slight thread of silver--it was the
earth. Here and there nebulous masses like large snow-flakes, and from
zenith to nadir an immense ring, formed of an impalpable dust of
stars--that milky way amidst which the sun only counts as a star of the
fourth magnitude!

The spectators could not take their eyes off a spectacle so new, of
which no description could give any idea. What reflections it suggested!
What unknown emotions it aroused in the soul! Barbicane wished to begin
the recital of his journey under the empire of these impressions, and he
noted down hourly all the events that signalised the beginning of his
enterprise. He wrote tranquilly in his large and rather
commercial-looking handwriting.

During that time the calculating Nicholl looked over the formulae of
trajectories, and worked away at figures with unparalleled dexterity.
Michel Ardan talked sometimes to Barbicane, who did not answer much, to
Nicholl, who did not hear, and to Diana, who did not understand his
theories, and lastly to himself, making questions and answers, going and
coming, occupying himself with a thousand details, sometimes leaning
over the lower port-light, sometimes roosting in the heights of the
projectile, singing all the time. In this microcosm he represented the
French agitation and loquacity, and it was worthily represented.

The day, or rather--for the expression is not correct--the lapse of
twelve hours which makes a day upon earth--was ended by a copious supper
carefully prepared. No incident of a nature to shake the confidence of
the travellers had happened, so, full of hope and already sure of
success, they went to sleep peacefully, whilst the projectile, at a
uniformly increasing speed, made its way in the heavens.



The night passed without incident. Correctly speaking, the word "night"
is an improper one. The position of the projectile in regard to the sun
did not change. Astronomically it was day on the bottom of the bullet,
and night on the top. When, therefore, in this recital these two words
are used they express the lapse of time between the rising and setting
of the sun upon earth.

The travellers' sleep was so much the more peaceful because,
notwithstanding its excessive speed, the projectile seemed absolutely
motionless. No movement indicated its journey through space. However
rapidly change of place may be effected, it cannot produce any sensible
effect upon the organism when it takes place in the void, or when the
mass of air circulates along with the travelling body. What inhabitant
of the earth perceives the speed which carries him along at the rate of
68,000 miles an hour? Movement under such circumstances is not felt more
than repose. Every object is indifferent to it. When a body is in repose
it remains so until some foreign force puts it in movement. When in
movement it would never stop if some obstacle were not in its road. This
indifference to movement or repose is inertia.

Barbicane and his companions could, therefore, imagine themselves
absolutely motionless, shut up in the interior of the projectile. The
effect would have been the same if they had placed themselves on the
outside. Without the moon, which grew larger above them, and the earth
that grew smaller below, they would have sworn they were suspended in a
complete stagnation.

That morning, the 3rd of December, they were awakened by a joyful but
unexpected noise. It was the crowing of a cock in the interior of their

Michel Ardan was the first to get up; he climbed to the top of the
projectile and closed a partly-open case.

"Be quiet," said he in a whisper. "That animal will spoil my plan!"

In the meantime Nicholl and Barbicane awoke.

"Was that a cock?" said Nicholl.

"No, my friends," answered Michel quickly. "I wished to awake you with
that rural sound."

So saying he gave vent to a cock-a-doodle-do which would have done
honour to the proudest of gallinaceans.

The two Americans could not help laughing.

"A fine accomplishment that," said Nicholl, looking suspiciously at his

"Yes," answered Michel, "a joke common in my country. It is very Gallic.
We perpetrate it in the best society."

Then turning the conversation--

"Barbicane, do you know what I have been thinking about all night?"

"No," answered the president.

"About our friends at Cambridge. You have already remarked how
admirably ignorant I am of mathematics. I find it, therefore, impossible
to guess how our _savants_ of the observatory could calculate what
initial velocity the projectile ought to be endowed with on leaving the
Columbiad in order to reach the moon."

"You mean," replied Barbicane, "in order to reach that neutral point
where the terrestrial and lunar attractions are equal; for beyond this
point, situated at about 0.9 of the distance, the projectile will fall
upon the moon by virtue of its own weight merely."

"Very well," answered Michel; "but once more; how did they calculate the
initial velocity?"

"Nothing is easier," said Barbicane.

"And could you have made the calculation yourself?" asked Michel Ardan.

"Certainly; Nicholl and I could have determined it if the notice from
the observatory had not saved us the trouble."

"Well, old fellow," answered Michel, "they might sooner cut off my head,
beginning with my feet, than have made me solve that problem!"

"Because you do not know algebra," replied Barbicane tranquilly.

"Ah, that's just like you dealers in _x_! You think you have explained
everything when you have said 'algebra.'"

"Michel," replied Barbicane, "do you think it possible to forge without
a hammer, or to plough without a ploughshare?"

"It would be difficult."

"Well, then, algebra is a tool like a plough or a hammer, and a good
tool for any one who knows how to use it."



"Could you use that tool before me?"

"If it would interest you."

"And could you show me how they calculated the initial speed of our

"Yes, my worthy friend. By taking into account all the elements of the
problem, the distance from the centre of the earth to the centre of the
moon, of the radius of the earth, the volume of the earth and the volume
of the moon, I can determine exactly what the initial speed of the
projectile ought to be, and that by a very simple formula."

"Show me the formula."

"You shall see it. Only I will not give you the curve really traced by
the bullet between the earth and the moon, by taking into account their
movement of translation round the sun. No. I will consider both bodies
to be motionless, and that will be sufficient for us."


"Because that would be seeking to solve the problem called 'the problem
of the three bodies,' for which the integral calculus is not yet far
enough advanced."

"Indeed," said Michel Ardan in a bantering tone; "then mathematics have
not said their last word."

"Certainly not," answered Barbicane.

"Good! Perhaps the Selenites have pushed the integral calculus further
than you! By-the-bye, what is the integral calculus?"

"It is the inverse of the differential calculus," answered Barbicane

"Much obliged."

"To speak otherwise, it is a calculus by which you seek finished
quantities of what you know the differential quantities."

"That is clear at least," answered Barbicane with a quite satisfied air.

"And now," continued Barbicane, "for a piece of paper and a pencil, and
in half-an-hour I will have found the required formula."

That said, Barbicane became absorbed in his work, whilst Nicholl looked
into space, leaving the care of preparing breakfast to his companion.

Half-an-hour had not elapsed before Barbicane, raising his head, showed
Michel Ardan a page covered with algebraical signs, amidst which the
following general formula was discernible:--

1 2 2 r m' r r
- (v - v ) = gr { --- - 1 + --- ( --- - ---) }
2 0 x m d-x d-r

"And what does that mean?" asked Michel.

"That means," answered Nicholl, "that the half of _v_ minus _v_ zero
square equals _gr_ multiplied by _r_ upon _x_ minus 1 plus _m_ prime
upon _m_ multiplied by _r_ upon _d_ minus _x_, minus _r_ upon _d_ minus
_x_ minus _r_--"

"_X_ upon _y_ galloping upon _z_ and rearing upon _p_" cried Michel
Ardan, bursting out laughing. "Do you mean to say you understand that,

"Nothing is clearer."

"Then," said Michel Ardan, "it is as plain as a pikestaff, and I want
nothing more."

"Everlasting laugher," said Barbicane, "you wanted algebra, and now you
shall have it over head and ears."

"I would rather be hung!"

"That appears a good solution, Barbicane," said Nicholl, who was
examining the formula like a _connaisseur_. "It is the integral of the
equation of 'vis viva,' and I do not doubt that it will give us the
desired result."

"But I should like to understand!" exclaimed Michel. "I would give ten
years of Nicholl's life to understand!"

"Then listen," resumed Barbicane. "The half of _v_ minus _v_ zero square
is the formula that gives us the demi-variation of the 'vis viva.'"

"Good; and does Nicholl understand what that means?"

"Certainly, Michel," answered the captain. "All those signs that look so
cabalistic to you form the clearest and most logical language for those
who know how to read it."

"And do you pretend, Nicholl," asked Michel, "that by means of these
hieroglyphics, more incomprehensible than the Egyptian ibis, you can
find the initial speed necessary to give to the projectile?"

"Incontestably," answered Nicholl; "and even by that formula I could
always tell you what speed it is going at on any point of the journey."

"Upon your word of honour?"


"Then you are as clever as our president."

"No, Michel, all the difficulty consists in what Barbicane has done. It
is to establish an equation which takes into account all the conditions
of the problem. The rest is only a question of arithmetic, and requires
nothing but a knowledge of the four rules."

"That's something," answered Michel Ardan, who had never been able to
make a correct addition in his life, and who thus defined the rule: "A
Chinese puzzle, by which you can obtain infinitely various results."

Still Barbicane answered that Nicholl would certainly have found the
formula had he thought about it.

"I do not know if I should," said Nicholl, "for the more I study it the
more marvellously correct I find it."

"Now listen," said Barbicane to his ignorant comrade, "and you will see
that all these letters have a signification."

"I am listening," said Michel, looking resigned.

"_d_," said Barbicane, "is the distance from the centre of the earth to
the centre of the moon, for we must take the centres to calculate the

"That I understand."

"_r_ is the radius of the earth."

"_r_, radius; admitted."

"_m_ is the volume of the earth; _m prime_ that of the moon. We are
obliged to take into account the volume of the two attracting bodies, as
the attraction is in proportion to the volume."

"I understand that."

"_g_ represents gravity, the speed acquired at the end of a second by a
body falling on the surface of the earth. Is that clear?"

"A mountain stream!" answered Michel.

"Now I represent by _x_ the variable distance that separates the
projectile from the centre of the earth, and by _v_ the velocity the
projectile has at that distance."


"Lastly, the expression _v_ zero which figures in the equation is the
speed the bullet possesses when it emerges from the atmosphere."

"Yes," said Nicholl, "you were obliged to calculate the velocity from
that point, because we knew before that the velocity at departure is
exactly equal to 3/2 of the velocity upon emerging from the atmosphere."

"Don't understand any more!" said Michel.

"Yet it is very simple," said Barbicane.

"I do not find it very simple," replied Michel.

"It means that when our projectile reached the limit of the terrestrial
atmosphere it had already lost one-third of its initial velocity."

"As much as that?"

"Yes, my friend, simply by friction against the atmosphere. You will
easily understand that the greater its speed the more resistance it
would meet with from the air."

"That I admit," answered Michel, "and I understand it, although your _v_
zero two and your _v_ zero square shake about in my head like nails in a

"First effect of algebra," continued Barbicane. "And now to finish we
are going to find the numerical known quantity of these different
expressions--that is to say, find out their value."

"You will finish me first!" answered Michel.

"Some of these expressions," said Barbicane, "are known; the others have
to be calculated."

"I will calculate those," said Nicholl.

"And _r_," resumed Barbicane, "_r_ is the radius of the earth under the
latitude of Florida, our point of departure, _d_--that is to say, the
distance from the centre of the earth to the centre of the moon equals
fifty-six terrestrial radii--"

Nicholl rapidly calculated.

"That makes 356,720,000 metres when the moon is at her perigee--that is
to say, when she is nearest to the earth."

"Very well," said Barbicane, "now _m_ prime upon _m_--that is to say,
the proportion of the moon's volume to that of the earth equals 1/81."

"Perfect," said Michel.

"And _g_, the gravity, is to Florida 9-1/81 metres. From whence it
results that _gr_ equals--"

"Sixty-two million four hundred and twenty-six thousand square metres,"
answered Nicholl.

"What next?" asked Michel Ardan.

"Now that the expressions are reduced to figures, I am going to find the
velocity _v zero_--that is to say, the velocity that the projectile
ought to have on leaving the atmosphere to reach the point of equal
attraction with no velocity. The velocity at that point I make equal
_zero_, and _x_, the distance where the neutral point is, will be
represented by the nine-tenths of _d_--that is to say, the distance that
separates the two centres."

"I have some vague idea that it ought to be so," said Michel.

"I shall then have, _x_ equals nine-tenths of _d_, and _v_ equals
_zero_, and my formula will become--"

Barbicane wrote rapidly on the paper--

2 10r 1 10r r
v = 2 gr { 1 - --- --- ( --- - ---) }
0 9d 81 d d-r

Nicholl read it quickly.

"That's it! that is it!" he cried.

"Is it clear?" asked Barbicane.

"It is written in letters of fire!" answered Nicholl.

"Clever fellows!" murmured Michel.

"Do you understand now?" asked Barbicane.

"If I understand!" cried Michel Ardan. "My head is bursting with it."

"Thus," resumed Barbicane, "_v zero_ square equals 2 _gr_ multiplied by
1 minus 10 _r_ upon 9 _d_ minus 1/81 multiplied by 10 _r_ upon _d_ minus
_r_ upon _d_ minus _r_."

"And now," said Nicholl, "in order to obtain the velocity of the bullet
as it emerges from the atmosphere I have only to calculate."

The captain, like a man used to overcome all difficulties, began to
calculate with frightful rapidity. Divisions and multiplications grew
under his fingers. Figures dotted the page. Barbicane followed him with
his eyes, whilst Michel Ardan compressed a coming headache with his two

"Well, what do you make it?" asked Barbicane after several minutes'

"I make it 11,051 metres in the first second."

"What do you say?" said Barbicane, starting.

"Eleven thousand and fifty-one metres."

"Malediction!" cried the president with a gesture of despair.

"What's the matter with you?" asked Michel Ardan, much surprised.

"The matter! why if at this moment the velocity was already diminished
one-third by friction, the initial speed ought to have been--"

"Sixteen thousand five hundred and seventy-six metres!" answered

"But the Cambridge Observatory declared that 11,000 metres were enough

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