Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Five Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne

Part 7 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download Five Weeks in a Balloon pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

queried Kennedy.

"Yes, on this expedition, at least; but in 1833 Richard
undertook a third trip to the Niger, and perished by a
bullet, near the mouth of the river. You see, then, my
friends, that the country over which we are now passing
has witnessed some noble instances of self-sacrifice which,
unfortunately, have only too often had death for their reward."


The Country in the Elbow of the Niger.--A Fantastic View of the
Hombori Mountains.--Kabra.--Timbuctoo.--The Chart of Dr. Barth.
--A Decaying City.--Whither Heaven wills.

During this dull Monday, Dr. Ferguson diverted his
thoughts by giving his companions a thousand details
concerning the country they were crossing. The surface,
which was quite flat, offered no impediment to their progress.
The doctor's sole anxiety arose from the obstinate
northeast wind which continued to blow furiously, and bore
them away from the latitude of Timbuctoo.

The Niger, after running northward as far as that city,
sweeps around, like an immense water-jet from some fountain,
and falls into the Atlantic in a broad sheaf. In the
elbow thus formed the country is of varied character,
sometimes luxuriantly fertile, and sometimes extremely
bare; fields of maize succeeded by wide spaces covered
with broom-corn and uncultivated plains. All kinds of
aquatic birds--pelicans, wild-duck, kingfishers, and the
rest--were seen in numerous flocks hovering about the
borders of the pools and torrents.

From time to time there appeared an encampment of
Touaregs, the men sheltered under their leather tents,
while their women were busied with the domestic toil
outside, milking their camels and smoking their
huge-bowled pipes.

By eight o'clock in the evening the Victoria had advanced
more than two hundred miles to the westward,
and our aeronauts became the spectators of a magnificent

A mass of moonbeams forcing their way through an
opening in the clouds, and gliding between the long lines
of falling rain, descended in a golden shower on the ridges
of the Hombori Mountains. Nothing could be more
weird than the appearance of these seemingly basaltic
summits; they stood out in fantastic profile against the
sombre sky, and the beholder might have fancied them to
be the legendary ruins of some vast city of the middle
ages, such as the icebergs of the polar seas sometimes
mimic them in nights of gloom.

"An admirable landscape for the 'Mysteries of Udolpho'!"
exclaimed the doctor. "Ann Radcliffe could not
have depicted yon mountains in a more appalling aspect."

"Faith!" said Joe, "I wouldn't like to be strolling
alone in the evening through this country of ghosts. Do
you see now, master, if it wasn't so heavy, I'd like to carry
that whole landscape home to Scotland! It would do for
the borders of Loch Lomond, and tourists would rush there
in crowds."

"Our balloon is hardly large enough to admit of that
little experiment--but I think our direction is changing.
Bravo!--the elves and fairies of the place are quite obliging.
See, they've sent us a nice little southeast breeze,
that will put us on the right track again."

In fact, the Victoria was resuming a more northerly
route, and on the morning of the 20th she was passing
over an inextricable network of channels, torrents, and
streams, in fine, the whole complicated tangle of the Niger's
tributaries. Many of these channels, covered with a thick
growth of herbage, resembled luxuriant meadow-lands.
There the doctor recognized the route followed by the
explorer Barth when he launched upon the river to descend
to Timbuctoo. Eight hundred fathoms broad at this point,
the Niger flowed between banks richly grown with cruciferous
plants and tamarind-trees. Herds of agile gazelles were seen
skipping about, their curling horns mingling with the tall
herbage, within which the alligator, half concealed, lay
silently in wait for them with watchful eyes.

Long files of camels and asses laden with merchandise
from Jenne were winding in under the noble trees. Ere
long, an amphitheatre of low-built houses was discovered
at a turn of the river, their roofs and terraces heaped up
with hay and straw gathered from the neighboring districts.

"There's Kabra!" exclaimed the doctor, joyously;
"there is the harbor of Timbuctoo, and the city is not
five miles from here!"

"Then, sir, you are satisfied?" half queried Joe.

"Delighted, my boy!"

"Very good; then every thing's for the best!"

In fact, about two o'clock, the Queen of the Desert,
mysterious Timbuctoo, which once, like Athens and Rome,
had her schools of learned men, and her professorships
of philosophy, stretched away before the gaze of our

Ferguson followed the most minute details upon the
chart traced by Barth himself, and was enabled to
recognize its perfect accuracy.

The city forms an immense triangle marked out upon
a vast plain of white sand, its acute angle directed toward
the north and piercing a corner of the desert. In the environs
there was almost nothing, hardly even a few grasses,
with some dwarf mimosas and stunted bushes.

As for the appearance of Timbuctoo, the reader has but
to imagine a collection of billiard-balls and thimbles--such
is the bird's-eye view! The streets, which are quite narrow,
are lined with houses only one story in height, built
of bricks dried in the sun, and huts of straw and reeds, the
former square, the latter conical. Upon the terraces were
seen some of the male inhabitants, carelessly lounging at
full length in flowing apparel of bright colors, and lance
or musket in hand; but no women were visible at that
hour of the day.

"Yet they are said to be handsome," remarked the
doctor. "You see the three towers of the three mosques
that are the only ones left standing of a great number--
the city has indeed fallen from its ancient splendor! At
the top of the triangle rises the Mosque of Sankore, with its
ranges of galleries resting on arcades of sufficiently pure
design. Farther on, and near to the Sane-Gungu quarter,
is the Mosque of Sidi-Yahia and some two-story houses.
But do not look for either palaces or monuments: the
sheik is a mere son of traffic, and his royal palace is a

"It seems to me that I can see half-ruined ramparts,"
said Kennedy.

"They were destroyed by the Fouillanes in 1826; the
city was one-third larger then, for Timbuctoo, an object
generally coveted by all the tribes, since the eleventh
century, has belonged in succession to the Touaregs, the
Sonrayans, the Morocco men, and the Fouillanes; and this
great centre of civilization, where a sage like Ahmed-Baba
owned, in the sixteenth century, a library of sixteen hundred
manuscripts, is now nothing but a mere half-way house for
the trade of Central Africa."

The city, indeed, seemed abandoned to supreme neglect;
it betrayed that indifference which seems epidemic
to cities that are passing away. Huge heaps of rubbish
encumbered the suburbs, and, with the hill on which the
market-place stood, formed the only inequalities of the

When the Victoria passed, there was some slight show
of movement; drums were beaten; but the last learned
man still lingering in the place had hardly time to notice
the new phenomenon, for our travellers, driven onward
by the wind of the desert, resumed the winding course of
the river, and, ere long, Timbuctoo was nothing more than
one of the fleeting reminiscences of their journey.

"And now," said the doctor, "Heaven may waft us
whither it pleases!"

"Provided only that we go westward," added Kennedy.

"Bah!" said Joe; "I wouldn't be afraid if it was to
go back to Zanzibar by the same road, or to cross the
ocean to America."

"We would first have to be able to do that, Joe!"

"And what's wanting, doctor?"

"Gas, my boy; the ascending force of the balloon is
evidently growing weaker, and we shall need all our
management to make it carry us to the sea-coast. I shall
even have to throw over some ballast. We are too heavy."

"That's what comes of doing nothing, doctor; when a
man lies stretched out all day long in his hammock, he
gets fat and heavy. It's a lazybones trip, this of ours,
master, and when we get back every body will find us big
and stout."

"Just like Joe," said Kennedy; "just the ideas for
him: but wait a bit! Can you tell what we may have to
go through yet? We are still far from the end of our trip.
Where do you expect to strike the African coast, doctor?"

"I should find it hard to answer you, Kennedy. We
are at the mercy of very variable winds; but I should
think myself fortunate were we to strike it between Sierra
Leone and Portendick. There is a stretch of country in
that quarter where we should meet with friends."

"And it would be a pleasure to press their hands; but,
are we going in the desirable direction?"

"Not any too well, Dick; not any too well! Look at
the needle of the compass; we are bearing southward, and
ascending the Niger toward its sources."

"A fine chance to discover them," said Joe, "if they
were not known already. Now, couldn't we just find
others for it, on a pinch?"

"Not exactly, Joe; but don't be alarmed: I hardly
expect to go so far as that."

At nightfall the doctor threw out the last bags of sand.
The Victoria rose higher, and the blow-pipe, although working
at full blast, could scarcely keep her up. At that time
she was sixty miles to the southward of Timbuctoo, and in
the morning the aeronauts awoke over the banks of the
Niger, not far from Lake Debo.


Dr. Ferguson's Anxieties.--Persistent Movement southward.--A Cloud of
Grasshoppers.--A View of Jenne.--A View of Sego.--Change of the
Wind.--Joe's Regrets.

The flow of the river was, at that point, divided by
large islands into narrow branches, with a very rapid current.
Upon one among them stood some shepherds' huts,
but it had become impossible to take an exact observation
of them, because the speed of the balloon was constantly
increasing. Unfortunately, it turned still more toward
the south, and in a few moments crossed Lake Debo.

Dr. Ferguson, forcing the dilation of his aerial craft
to the utmost, sought for other currents of air at different
heights, but in vain; and he soon gave up the attempt,
which was only augmenting the waste of gas by pressing
it against the well-worn tissue of the balloon.

He made no remark, but he began to feel very anxious.
This persistence of the wind to head him off toward the
southern part of Africa was defeating his calculations, and
he no longer knew upon whom or upon what to depend.
Should he not reach the English or French territories,
what was to become of him in the midst of the barbarous
tribes that infest the coasts of Guinea? How should he
there get to a ship to take him back to England? And
the actual direction of the wind was driving him along to
the kingdom of Dahomey, among the most savage races,
and into the power of a ruler who was in the habit of
sacrificing thousands of human victims at his public orgies.
There he would be lost!

On the other hand, the balloon was visibly wearing out,
and the doctor felt it failing him. However, as the weather
was clearing up a little, he hoped that the cessation of the
rain would bring about a change in the atmospheric currents.

It was therefore a disagreeable reminder of the actual
situation when Joe said aloud:

"There! the rain's going to pour down harder than ever;
and this time it will be the deluge itself, if we're to
judge by yon cloud that's coming up!"

"What! another cloud?" asked Ferguson.

"Yes, and a famous one," replied Kennedy.

"I never saw the like of it," added Joe.

"I breathe freely again!" said the doctor, laying down
his spy-glass. "That's not a cloud!"

"Not a cloud?" queried Joe, with surprise.

"No; it is a swarm."


"A swarm of grasshoppers!"

"That? Grasshoppers!"

"Myriads of grasshoppers, that are going to sweep over
this country like a water-spout; and woe to it! for, should
these insects alight, it will be laid waste."

"That would be a sight worth beholding!"

"Wait a little, Joe. In ten minutes that cloud will
have arrived where we are, and you can then judge by the
aid of your own eyes."

The doctor was right. The cloud, thick, opaque, and
several miles in extent, came on with a deafening noise,
casting its immense shadow over the fields. It was composed
of numberless legions of that species of grasshopper
called crickets. About a hundred paces from the
balloon, they settled down upon a tract full of foliage and
verdure. Fifteen minutes later, the mass resumed its
flight, and our travellers could, even at a distance, see the
trees and the bushes entirely stripped, and the fields as
bare as though they had been swept with the scythe.
One would have thought that a sudden winter had just
descended upon the earth and struck the region with the
most complete sterility.

"Well, Joe, what do you think of that?"

"Well, doctor, it's very curious, but quite natural.
What one grasshopper does on a small scale, thousands
do on a grand scale."

"It's a terrible shower," said the hunter; "more so
than hail itself in the devastation it causes."

"It is impossible to prevent it," replied Ferguson.
"Sometimes the inhabitants have had the idea to burn
the forests, and even the standing crops, in order to arrest
the progress of these insects; but the first ranks plunging
into the flames would extinguish them beneath their mass,
and the rest of the swarm would then pass irresistibly
onward. Fortunately, in these regions, there is some sort
of compensation for their ravages, since the natives gather
these insects in great numbers and greedily eat them."

"They are the prawns of the air," said Joe, who added
that he was sorry that he had never had the chance to
taste them--just for information's sake!

The country became more marshy toward evening;
the forests dwindled to isolated clumps of trees; and on
the borders of the river could be seen plantations of
tobacco, and swampy meadow-lands fat with forage. At
last the city of Jenne, on a large island, came in sight,
with the two towers of its clay-built mosque, and the
putrid odor of the millions of swallows' nests accumulated
in its walls. The tops of some baobabs, mimosas, and
date-trees peeped up between the houses; and, even at
night, the activity of the place seemed very great. Jenne
is, in fact, quite a commercial city: it supplies all the
wants of Timbuctoo. Its boats on the river, and its caravans
along the shaded roads, bear thither the various
products of its industry.

"Were it not that to do so would prolong our journey,"
said the doctor, "I should like to alight at this place.
There must be more than one Arab there who has travelled
in England and France, and to whom our style of locomotion
is not altogether new. But it would not be prudent."

"Let us put off the visit until our next trip," said Joe,

"Besides, my friends, unless I am mistaken, the wind
has a slight tendency to veer a little more to the eastward,
and we must not lose such an opportunity."

The doctor threw overboard some articles that were
no longer of use--some empty bottles, and a case that had
contained preserved-meat--and thereby managed to keep
the balloon in a belt of the atmosphere more favorable to
his plans. At four o'clock in the morning the first rays
of the sun lighted up Sego, the capital of Bambarra, which
could be recognized at once by the four towns that compose
it, by its Saracenic mosques, and by the incessant
going and coming of the flat-bottomed boats that convey
its inhabitants from one quarter to the other. But
the travellers were not more seen than they saw. They
sped rapidly and directly to the northwest, and the doctor's
anxiety gradually subsided.

"Two more days in this direction, and at this rate of
speed, and we'll reach the Senegal River."

"And we'll be in a friendly country?" asked the hunter.

"Not altogether; but, if the worst came to the worst,
and the balloon were to fail us, we might make our way
to the French settlements. But, let it hold out only for a
few hundred miles, and we shall arrive without fatigue,
alarm, or danger, at the western coast."

"And the thing will be over!" added Joe. "Heigh-ho!
so much the worse. If it wasn't for the pleasure of telling
about it, I would never want to set foot on the ground
again! Do you think anybody will believe our story, doctor?"

"Who can tell, Joe? One thing, however, will be
undeniable: a thousand witnesses saw us start on one
side of the African Continent, and a thousand more will
see us arrive on the other."

"And, in that case, it seems to me that it would be
hard to say that we had not crossed it," added Kennedy.

"Ah, doctor!" said Joe again, with a deep sigh, "I'll
think more than once of my lumps of solid gold-ore!
There was something that would have given WEIGHT to our
narrative! At a grain of gold per head, I could have got
together a nice crowd to listen to me, and even to admire me!"


The Approaches to Senegal.--The Balloon sinks lower and lower.--They
keep throwing out, throwing out.--The Marabout Al-Hadji.--Messrs.
Pascal, Vincent, and Lambert.--A Rival of Mohammed.--The Difficult
Mountains.--Kennedy's Weapons.--One of Joe's Manoeuvres.--A Halt
over a Forest.

On the 27th of May, at nine o'clock in the morning,
the country presented an entirely different aspect. The
slopes, extending far away, changed to hills that gave
evidence of mountains soon to follow. They would have to
cross the chain which separates the basin of the Niger
from the basin of the Senegal, and determines the course
of the water-shed, whether to the Gulf of Guinea on the
one hand, or to the bay of Cape Verde on the other.

As far as Senegal, this part of Africa is marked down
as dangerous. Dr. Ferguson knew it through the recitals
of his predecessors. They had suffered a thousand privations
and been exposed to a thousand dangers in the midst
of these barbarous negro tribes. It was this fatal climate
that had devoured most of the companions of Mungo Park.
Ferguson, therefore, was more than ever decided not to
set foot in this inhospitable region.

But he had not enjoyed one moment of repose. The
Victoria was descending very perceptibly, so much so
that he had to throw overboard a number more of useless
articles, especially when there was a mountain-top to pass.
Things went on thus for more than one hundred and
twenty miles; they were worn out with ascending and
falling again; the balloon, like another rock of Sisyphus,
kept continually sinking back toward the ground. The
rotundity of the covering, which was now but little inflated,
was collapsing already. It assumed an elongated shape,
and the wind hollowed large cavities in the silken surface.

Kennedy could not help observing this.

"Is there a crack or a tear in the balloon?" he asked.

"No, but the gutta percha has evidently softened or
melted in the heat, and the hydrogen is escaping through
the silk."

"How can we prevent that?"

"It is impossible. Let us lighten her. That is the
only help. So let us throw out every thing we can spare."

"But what shall it be?" said the hunter, looking at
the car, which was already quite bare.

"Well, let us get rid of the awning, for its weight is
quite considerable."

Joe, who was interested in this order, climbed up on
the circle which kept together the cordage of the network,
and from that place easily managed to detach the heavy
curtains of the awning and throw them overboard.

"There's something that will gladden the hearts of a
whole tribe of blacks," said he; "there's enough to dress
a thousand of them, for they're not very extravagant with

The balloon had risen a little, but it soon became evident
that it was again approaching the ground.

"Let us alight," suggested Kennedy, "and see what
can be done with the covering of the balloon."

"I tell you, again, Dick, that we have no means of repairing it."

"Then what shall we do?"

"We'll have to sacrifice every thing not absolutely indispensable;
I am anxious, at all hazards, to avoid a detention in these
regions. The forests over the tops of which we are skimming are
any thing but safe."

"What! are there lions in them, or hyenas?" asked
Joe, with an expression of sovereign contempt.

"Worse than that, my boy! There are men, and some
of the most cruel, too, in all Africa."

"How is that known?"

"By the statements of travellers who have been here
before us. Then the French settlers, who occupy the
colony of Senegal, necessarily have relations with the
surrounding tribes. Under the administration of Colonel
Faidherbe, reconnoissances have been pushed far up into
the country. Officers such as Messrs. Pascal, Vincent, and
Lambert, have brought back precious documents from their
expeditions. They have explored these countries formed by
the elbow of the Senegal in places where war and pillage
have left nothing but ruins."

"What, then, took place?"

"I will tell you. In 1854 a Marabout of the Senegalese
Fouta, Al-Hadji by name, declaring himself to be inspired
like Mohammed, stirred up all the tribes to war
against the infidels--that is to say, against the
Europeans. He carried destruction and desolation over the
regions between the Senegal River and its tributary,
the Fateme. Three hordes of fanatics led on by him
scoured the country, sparing neither a village nor a hut
in their pillaging, massacring career. He advanced in
person on the town of Sego, which was a long time
threatened. In 1857 he worked up farther to the northward,
and invested the fortification of Medina, built by the
French on the bank of the river. This stronghold was
defended by Paul Holl, who, for several months, without
provisions or ammunition, held out until Colonel Faidherbe
came to his relief. Al-Hadji and his bands then
repassed the Senegal, and reappeared in the Kaarta,
continuing their rapine and murder.--Well, here below us
is the very country in which he has found refuge with his
hordes of banditti; and I assure you that it would not be
a good thing to fall into his hands."

"We shall not," said Joe, "even if we have to throw
overboard our clothes to save the Victoria."

"We are not far from the river," said the doctor, "but
I foresee that our balloon will not be able to carry
us beyond it."

"Let us reach its banks, at all events," said the Scot,
"and that will be so much gained."

"That is what we are trying to do," rejoined Ferguson,
"only that one thing makes me feel anxious."

"What is that?"

"We shall have mountains to pass, and that will be
difficult to do, since I cannot augment the ascensional force
of the balloon, even with the greatest possible heat that I
can produce."

"Well, wait a bit," said Kennedy, "and we shall see!"

"The poor Victoria!" sighed Joe; "I had got fond
of her as the sailor does of his ship, and I'll not give her
up so easily. She may not be what she was at the start--
granted; but we shouldn't say a word against her. She
has done us good service, and it would break my heart to
desert her."

"Be at your ease, Joe; if we leave her, it will be in
spite of ourselves. She'll serve us until she's completely
worn out, and I ask of her only twenty-four hours more!"

"Ah, she's getting used up! She grows thinner and
thinner," said Joe, dolefully, while he eyed her. "Poor

"Unless I am deceived," said Kennedy, "there on the
horizon are the mountains of which you were speaking,

"Yes, there they are, indeed!" exclaimed the doctor,
after having examined them through his spy-glass, "and
they look very high. We shall have some trouble in
crossing them."

"Can we not avoid them?"

"I am afraid not, Dick. See what an immense space
they occupy--nearly one-half of the horizon!"

"They even seem to shut us in," added Joe. "They
are gaining on both our right and our left."

"We must then pass over them."

These obstacles, which threatened such imminent peril,
seemed to approach with extreme rapidity, or, to speak
more accurately, the wind, which was very fresh, was
hurrying the balloon toward the sharp peaks. So rise it
must, or be dashed to pieces.

"Let us empty our tank of water," said the doctor,
"and keep only enough for one day."

"There it goes," shouted Joe.

"Does the balloon rise at all?" asked Kennedy.

"A little--some fifty feet," replied the doctor, who
kept his eyes fixed on the barometer. "But that is not

In truth the lofty peaks were starting up so swiftly before
the travellers that they seemed to be rushing down upon them.
The balloon was far from rising above them. She lacked an
elevation of more than five hundred feet more.

The stock of water for the cylinder was also thrown
overboard and only a few pints were retained, but still all
this was not enough.

"We must pass them though!" urged the doctor.

"Let us throw out the tanks--we have emptied them."
said Kennedy.

"Over with them!"

"There they go!" panted Joe. "But it's hard to see
ourselves dropping off this way by piecemeal."

"Now, for your part, Joe, make no attempt to sacrifice
yourself as you did the other day! Whatever happens,
swear to me that you will not leave us!"

"Have no fears, my master, we shall not be separated."

The Victoria had ascended some hundred and twenty
feet, but the crest of the mountain still towered above it.
It was an almost perpendicular ridge that ended in a regular
wall rising abruptly in a straight line. It still rose
more than two hundred feet over the aeronauts.

"In ten minutes," said the doctor to himself, "our car
will be dashed against those rocks unless we succeed in
passing them!"

"Well, doctor?" queried Joe.

"Keep nothing but our pemmican, and throw out all
the heavy meat."

Thereupon the balloon was again lightened by some
fifty pounds, and it rose very perceptibly, but that was of
little consequence, unless it got above the line of the
mountain-tops. The situation was terrifying. The Victoria
was rushing on with great rapidity. They could
feel that she would be dashed to pieces--that the shock
would be fearful.

The doctor glanced around him in the car. It was
nearly empty.

"If needs be, Dick, hold yourself in readiness to throw
over your fire-arms!"

"Sacrifice my fire-arms?" repeated the sportsman,
with intense feeling.

"My friend, I ask it; it will be absolutely necessary!"

"Samuel! Doctor!"

"Your guns, and your stock of powder and ball might
cost us our lives."

"We are close to it!" cried Joe.

Sixty feet! The mountain still overtopped the balloon
by sixty feet.

Joe took the blankets and other coverings and tossed
them out; then, without a word to Kennedy, he threw
over several bags of bullets and lead.

The balloon went up still higher; it surmounted the
dangerous ridge, and the rays of the sun shone upon its
uppermost extremity; but the car was still below the level
of certain broken masses of rock, against which it would
inevitably be dashed.

"Kennedy! Kennedy! throw out your fire-arms, or
we are lost!" shouted the doctor.

"Wait, sir; wait one moment!" they heard Joe exclaim,
and, looking around, they saw Joe disappear over
the edge of the balloon.

"Joe! Joe!" cried Kennedy.

"Wretched man!" was the doctor's agonized expression.

The flat top of the mountain may have had about
twenty feet in breadth at this point, and, on the other
side, the slope presented a less declivity. The car just
touched the level of this plane, which happened to be quite
even, and it glided over a soil composed of sharp pebbles
that grated as it passed.

"We're over it! we're over it! we're clear!" cried out
an exulting voice that made Ferguson's heart leap to his

The daring fellow was there, grasping the lower rim of
the car, and running afoot over the top of the mountain,
thus lightening the balloon of his whole weight. He had
to hold on with all his strength, too, for it was likely to
escape his grasp at any moment.

When he had reached the opposite declivity, and the
abyss was before him, Joe, by a vigorous effort, hoisted
himself from the ground, and, clambering up by the cordage,
rejoined his friends.

"That was all!" he coolly ejaculated.

"My brave Joe! my friend!" said the doctor, with
deep emotion.

"Oh! what I did," laughed the other, "was not for
you; it was to save Mr. Kennedy's rifle. I owed him
that good turn for the affair with the Arab! I like to
pay my debts, and now we are even," added he, handing
to the sportsman his favorite weapon. "I'd feel very
badly to see you deprived of it."

Kennedy heartily shook the brave fellow's hand, without
being able to utter a word.

The Victoria had nothing to do now but to descend.
That was easy enough, so that she was soon at a height
of only two hundred feet from the ground, and was then
in equilibrium. The surface seemed very much broken
as though by a convulsion of nature. It presented numerous
inequalities, which would have been very difficult to
avoid during the night with a balloon that could no longer
be controlled. Evening was coming on rapidly, and,
notwithstanding his repugnance, the doctor had to make
up his mind to halt until morning.

"We'll now look for a favorable stopping-place," said he.

"Ah!" replied Kennedy, "you have made up your
mind, then, at last?"

"Yes, I have for a long time been thinking over a plan
which we'll try to put into execution; it is only six o'clock
in the evening, and we shall have time enough. Throw
out your anchors, Joe!"

Joe immediately obeyed, and the two anchors dangled
below the balloon.

"I see large forests ahead of us," said the doctor; "we
are going to sweep along their tops, and we shall grapple
to some tree, for nothing would make me think of passing
the night below, on the ground."

"But can we not descend?" asked Kennedy.

"To what purpose? I repeat that it would be dangerous
for us to separate, and, besides, I claim your help
for a difficult piece of work."

The Victoria, which was skimming along the tops of
immense forests, soon came to a sharp halt. Her anchors
had caught, and, the wind falling as dusk came on, she
remained motionlessly suspended above a vast field of
verdure, formed by the tops of a forest of sycamores.


A Struggle of Generosity.--The Last Sacrifice.--The Dilating Apparatus.
--Joe's Adroitness.--Midnight.--The Doctor's Watch.--Kennedy's Watch.
--The Latter falls asleep at his Post.--The Fire.--The Howlings of the
Natives.--Out of Range.

Doctor Ferguson's first care was to take his bearings
by stellar observation, and he discovered that he was
scarcely twenty-five miles from Senegal.

"All that we can manage to do, my friends," said he,
after having pointed his map, "is to cross the river; but,
as there is neither bridge nor boat, we must, at all hazards,
cross it with the balloon, and, in order to do that, we must
still lighten up."

"But I don't exactly see how we can do that?" replied
Kennedy, anxious about his fire-arms, "unless one of us
makes up his mind to sacrifice himself for the rest,--that
is, to stay behind, and, in my turn, I claim that honor."

"You, indeed!" remonstrated Joe; "ain't I used to--"

"The question now is, not to throw ourselves out of
the car, but simply to reach the coast of Africa on foot. I
am a first-rate walker, a good sportsman, and--"

"I'll never consent to it!" insisted Joe.

"Your generous rivalry is useless, my brave friends,"
said Ferguson; "I trust that we shall not come to any
such extremity: besides, if we did, instead of separating,
we should keep together, so as to make our way across the
country in company."

"That's the talk," said Joe; "a little tramp won't do
us any harm."

"But before we try that," resumed the doctor, "we
must employ a last means of lightening the balloon."

"What will that be? I should like to see it," said
Kennedy, incredulously.

"We must get rid of the cylinder-chests, the spiral,
and the Buntzen battery. Nine hundred pounds make a
rather heavy load to carry through the air."

"But then, Samuel, how will you dilate your gas?"

"I shall not do so at all. We'll have to get along
without it."


"Listen, my friends: I have calculated very exactly
the amount of ascensional force left to us, and it is
sufficient to carry us every one with the few objects that
remain. We shall make in all a weight of hardly five
hundred pounds, including the two anchors which I desire
to keep."

"Dear doctor, you know more about the matter than
we do; you are the sole judge of the situation. Tell us
what we ought to do, and we will do it."

"I am at your orders, master," added Joe.

"I repeat, my friends, that however serious the decision
may appear, we must sacrifice our apparatus."

"Let it go, then!" said Kennedy, promptly.

"To work!" said Joe.

It was no easy job. The apparatus had to be taken
down piece by piece. First, they took out the mixing
reservoir, then the one belonging to the cylinder, and
lastly the tank in which the decomposition of the water
was effected. The united strength of all three travellers
was required to detach these reservoirs from the bottom
of the car in which they had been so firmly secured; but
Kennedy was so strong, Joe so adroit, and the doctor so
ingenious, that they finally succeeded. The different
pieces were thrown out, one after the other, and they
disappeared below, making huge gaps in the foliage of
the sycamores.

"The black fellows will be mightily astonished," said
Joe, "at finding things like those in the woods; they'll
make idols of them!"

The next thing to be looked after was the displacement
of the pipes that were fastened in the balloon and
connected with the spiral. Joe succeeded in cutting the
caoutchouc jointings above the car, but when he came to
the pipes he found it more difficult to disengage them,
because they were held by their upper extremity and fastened
by wires to the very circlet of the valve.

Then it was that Joe showed wonderful adroitness.
In his naked feet, so as not to scratch the covering, he
succeeded by the aid of the network, and in spite of the
oscillations of the balloon, in climbing to the upper
extremity, and after a thousand difficulties, in holding on
with one hand to that slippery surface, while he detached
the outside screws that secured the pipes in their place.
These were then easily taken out, and drawn away by the
lower end, which was hermetically sealed by means of a
strong ligature.

The Victoria, relieved of this considerable weight, rose
upright in the air and tugged strongly at the anchor-rope.

About midnight this work ended without accident, but
at the cost of most severe exertion, and the trio partook
of a luncheon of pemmican and cold punch, as the doctor
had no more fire to place at Joe's disposal.

Besides, the latter and Kennedy were dropping off
their feet with fatigue.

"Lie down, my friends, and get some rest," said the
doctor. "I'll take the first watch; at two o'clock I'll
waken Kennedy; at four, Kennedy will waken Joe, and
at six we'll start; and may Heaven have us in its keeping
for this last day of the trip!"

Without waiting to be coaxed, the doctor's two companions
stretched themselves at the bottom of the car and
dropped into profound slumber on the instant.

The night was calm. A few clouds broke against the
last quarter of the moon, whose uncertain rays scarcely
pierced the darkness. Ferguson, resting his elbows on the
rim of the car, gazed attentively around him. He watched
with close attention the dark screen of foliage that spread
beneath him, hiding the ground from his view. The least
noise aroused his suspicions, and he questioned even the
slightest rustling of the leaves.

He was in that mood which solitude makes more keenly
felt, and during which vague terrors mount to the brain.
At the close of such a journey, after having surmounted
so many obstacles, and at the moment of touching the
goal, one's fears are more vivid, one's emotions keener.
The point of arrival seems to fly farther from our gaze.

Moreover, the present situation had nothing very consolatory
about it. They were in the midst of a barbarous
country, and dependent upon a vehicle that might fail
them at any moment. The doctor no longer counted implicitly
on his balloon; the time had gone by when he
manoevred it boldly because he felt sure of it.

Under the influence of these impressions, the doctor,
from time to time, thought that he heard vague sounds in
the vast forests around him; he even fancied that he saw
a swift gleam of fire shining between the trees. He looked
sharply and turned his night-glass toward the spot; but
there was nothing to be seen, and the profoundest silence
appeared to return.

He had, no doubt, been under the dominion of a mere
hallucination. He continued to listen, but without hearing
the slightest noise. When his watch had expired, he
woke Kennedy, and, enjoining upon him to observe the
extremest vigilance, took his place beside Joe, and fell
sound asleep.

Kennedy, while still rubbing his eyes, which he could
scarcely keep open, calmly lit his pipe. He then ensconced
himself in a corner, and began to smoke vigorously by way
of keeping awake.

The most absolute silence reigned around him; a light
wind shook the tree-tops and gently rocked the car, inviting
the hunter to taste the sleep that stole over him in
spite of himself. He strove hard to resist it, and repeatedly
opened his eyes to plunge into the outer darkness one
of those looks that see nothing; but at last, yielding to
fatigue, he sank back and slumbered.

How long he had been buried in this stupor he knew
not, but he was suddenly aroused from it by a strange,
unexpected crackling sound.

He rubbed his eyes and sprang to his feet. An intense
glare half-blinded him and heated his cheek--the forest
was in flames!

"Fire! fire!" he shouted, scarcely comprehending
what had happened.

His two companions started up in alarm.

"What's the matter?" was the doctor's immediate

"Fire!" said Joe. "But who could--"

At this moment loud yells were heard under the foliage,
which was now illuminated as brightly as the day.

"Ah! the savages!" cried Joe again; "they have set
fire to the forest so as to be the more certain of burning
us up."

"The Talabas! Al-Hadji's marabouts, no doubt," said
the doctor.

A circle of fire hemmed the Victoria in; the crackling
of the dry wood mingled with the hissing and sputtering
of the green branches; the clambering vines, the foliage,
all the living part of this vegetation, writhed in the
destructive element. The eye took in nothing but one vast
ocean of flame; the large trees stood forth in black relief
in this huge furnace, their branches covered with glowing
coals, while the whole blazing mass, the entire conflagration,
was reflected on the clouds, and the travellers could
fancy themselves enveloped in a hollow globe of fire.

"Let us escape to the ground!" shouted Kennedy,
"it is our only chance of safety!"

But Ferguson checked him with a firm grasp, and,
dashing at the anchor-rope, severed it with one well-directed
blow of his hatchet. Meanwhile, the flames, leaping up at
the balloon, already quivered on its illuminated sides; but
the Victoria, released from her fastenings, spun
upward a thousand feet into the air.

Frightful yells resounded through the forest, along
with the report of fire-arms, while the balloon, caught in a
current of air that rose with the dawn of day, was borne to
the westward.

It was now four o'clock in the morning.


The Talabas.--The Pursuit.--A Devastated Country.--The Wind begins to
fall.--The Victoria sinks.--The last of the Provisions.--The Leaps of
the Balloon.--A Defence with Fire-arms.--The Wind freshens.--The Senegal
River.--The Cataracts of Gouina.--The Hot Air.--The Passage of the River.

"Had we not taken the precaution to lighten the balloon
yesterday evening, we should have been lost beyond
redemption," said the doctor, after a long silence.

"See what's gained by doing things at the right
time!" replied Joe. "One gets out of scrapes then, and
nothing is more natural."

"We are not out of danger yet," said the doctor.

"What do you still apprehend?" queried Kennedy.
"The balloon can't descend without your permission, and
even were it to do so--"

"Were it to do so, Dick? Look!"

They had just passed the borders of the forest, and
the three friends could see some thirty mounted men clad
in broad pantaloons and the floating bournouses. They were
armed, some with lances, and others with long muskets,
and they were following, on their quick, fiery little steeds,
the direction of the balloon, which was moving at only
moderate speed.

When they caught sight of the aeronauts, they uttered
savage cries, and brandished their weapons. Anger and
menace could be read upon their swarthy faces, made
more ferocious by thin but bristling beards. Meanwhile
they galloped along without difficulty over the low levels
and gentle declivities that lead down to the Senegal.

"It is, indeed, they!" said the doctor; "the cruel
Talabas! the ferocious marabouts of Al-Hadji! I would
rather find myself in the middle of the forest encircled by
wild beasts than fall into the hands of these banditti."

"They haven't a very obliging look!" assented Kennedy;
"and they are rough, stalwart fellows."

"Happily those brutes can't fly," remarked Joe; "and
that's something."

"See," said Ferguson, "those villages in ruins, those
huts burned down--that is their work! Where vast
stretches of cultivated land were once seen, they have
brought barrenness and devastation."

"At all events, however," interposed Kennedy, "they
can't overtake us; and, if we succeed in putting the river
between us and them, we are safe."

"Perfectly, Dick," replied Ferguson; "but we must
not fall to the ground!" and, as he said this, he glanced
at the barometer.

"In any case, Joe," added Kennedy, "it would do us
no harm to look to our fire-arms."

"No harm in the world, Mr. Dick! We are lucky
that we didn't scatter them along the road."

"My rifle!" said the sportsman. "I hope that I shall
never be separated from it!"

And so saying, Kennedy loaded the pet piece with the
greatest care, for he had plenty of powder and ball remaining.

"At what height are we?" he asked the doctor.

"About seven hundred and fifty feet; but we no longer
have the power of seeking favorable currents, either going
up or coming down. We are at the mercy of the balloon!"

"That is vexatious!" rejoined Kennedy. "The wind
is poor; but if we had come across a hurricane like some
of those we met before, these vile brigands would have
been out of sight long ago."

"The rascals follow us at their leisure," said Joe.
"They're only at a short gallop. Quite a nice little

"If we were within range," sighed the sportsman, "I
should amuse myself with dismounting a few of them."

"Exactly," said the doctor; "but then they would
have you within range also, and our balloon would offer
only too plain a target to the bullets from their long guns;
and, if they were to make a hole in it, I leave you to judge
what our situation would be!"

The pursuit of the Talabas continued all morning;
and by eleven o'clock the aeronauts had made scarcely
fifteen miles to the westward.

The doctor was anxiously watching for the least cloud
on the horizon. He feared, above all things, a change in
the atmosphere. Should he be thrown back toward the
Niger, what would become of him? Besides, he remarked
that the balloon tended to fall considerably. Since the
start, he had already lost more than three hundred feet,
and the Senegal must be about a dozen miles distant.
At his present rate of speed, he could count upon
travelling only three hours longer.

At this moment his attention was attracted by fresh
cries. The Talabas appeared to be much excited, and
were spurring their horses.

The doctor consulted his barometer, and at once discovered
the cause of these symptoms.

"Are we descending?" asked Kennedy.

"Yes!" replied the doctor.

"The mischief!" thought Joe

In the lapse of fifteen minutes the Victoria was only
one hundred and fifty feet above the ground; but the
wind was much stronger than before.

The Talabas checked their horses, and soon a volley
of musketry pealed out on the air.

"Too far, you fools!" bawled Joe. "I think it would
be well to keep those scamps at a distance."

And, as he spoke, he aimed at one of the horsemen
who was farthest to the front, and fired. The Talaba fell
headlong, and, his companions halting for a moment, the
balloon gained upon them.

"They are prudent!" said Kennedy.

"Because they think that they are certain to take us,"
replied the doctor; "and, they will succeed if we descend
much farther. We must, absolutely, get higher into the air."

"What can we throw out?" asked Joe.

"All that remains of our stock of pemmican; that will
be thirty pounds less weight to carry."

"Out it goes, sir!" said Joe, obeying orders.

The car, which was now almost touching the ground,
rose again, amid the cries of the Talabas; but, half an
hour later, the balloon was again falling rapidly, because
the gas was escaping through the pores of the covering.

Ere long the car was once more grazing the soil, and
Al-Hadji's black riders rushed toward it; but, as frequently
happens in like cases, the balloon had scarcely
touched the surface ere it rebounded, and only came down
again a mile away.

"So we shall not escape!" said Kennedy, between his teeth.

"Throw out our reserved store of brandy, Joe," cried
the doctor; "our instruments, and every thing that has
any weight, even to our last anchor, because go they must!"

Joe flung out the barometers and thermometers, but
all that amounted to little; and the balloon, which had
risen for an instant, fell again toward the ground.

The Talabas flew toward it, and at length were not
more than two hundred paces away.

"Throw out the two fowling-pieces!" shouted Ferguson.

"Not without discharging them, at least," responded
the sportsman; and four shots in quick succession struck
the thick of the advancing group of horsemen. Four
Talabas fell, amid the frantic howls and imprecations of
their comrades.

The Victoria ascended once more, and made some
enormous leaps, like a huge gum-elastic ball, bounding
and rebounding through the air. A strange sight it was
to see these unfortunate men endeavoring to escape by
those huge aerial strides, and seeming, like the giant
Antaeus, to receive fresh strength every time they touched
the earth. But this situation had to terminate. It was
now nearly noon; the Victoria was getting empty and
exhausted, and assuming a more and more elongated form
every instant. Its outer covering was becoming flaccid,
and floated loosely in the air, and the folds of the silk
rustled and grated on each other.

"Heaven abandons us!" said Kennedy; "we have to fall!"

Joe made no answer. He kept looking intently at his master.

"No!" said the latter; "we have more than one hundred
and fifty pounds yet to throw out."

"What can it be, then?" said Kennedy, thinking that
the doctor must be going mad.

"The car!" was his reply; "we can cling to the
network. There we can hang on in the meshes until we
reach the river. Quick! quick!"

And these daring men did not hesitate a moment to
avail themselves of this last desperate means of escape.
They clutched the network, as the doctor directed, and
Joe, holding on by one hand, with the other cut the cords
that suspended the car; and the latter dropped to the
ground just as the balloon was sinking for the last time.

"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted the brave fellow exultingly,
as the Victoria, once more relieved, shot up again to a
height of three hundred feet.

The Talabas spurred their horses, which now came
tearing on at a furious gallop; but the balloon, falling in
with a much more favorable wind, shot ahead of them,
and was rapidly carried toward a hill that stretched across
the horizon to the westward. This was a circumstance
favorable to the aeronauts, because they could rise over
the hill, while Al-Hadji's horde had to diverge to the
northward in order to pass this obstacle.

The three friends still clung to the network. They
had been able to fasten it under their feet, where it had
formed a sort of swinging pocket.

Suddenly, after they had crossed the hill, the doctor
exclaimed: "The river! the river! the Senegal, my friends!"

And about two miles ahead of them, there was indeed
the river rolling along its broad mass of water, while the
farther bank, which was low and fertile, offered a sure
refuge, and a place favorable for a descent.

"Another quarter of an hour," said Ferguson, "and
we are saved!"

But it was not to happen thus; the empty balloon descended
slowly upon a tract almost entirely bare of vegetation. It
was made up of long slopes and stony plains, a
few bushes and some coarse grass, scorched by the sun.

The Victoria touched the ground several times, and
rose again, but her rebound was diminishing in height and
length. At the last one, it caught by the upper part of
the network in the lofty branches of a baobab, the only
tree that stood there, solitary and alone, in the midst of
the waste.

"It's all over," said Kennedy.

"And at a hundred paces only from the river!"
groaned Joe.

The three hapless aeronauts descended to the ground,
and the doctor drew his companions toward the Senegal.

At this point the river sent forth a prolonged roaring;
and when Ferguson reached its bank, he recognized the
falls of Gouina. But not a boat, not a living creature was
to be seen. With a breadth of two thousand feet, the
Senegal precipitates itself for a height of one hundred and
fifty, with a thundering reverberation. It ran, where they
saw it, from east to west, and the line of rocks that barred
its course extended from north to south. In the midst of
the falls, rocks of strange forms started up like huge
ante-diluvian animals, petrified there amid the waters.

The impossibility of crossing this gulf was self-evident,
and Kennedy could not restrain a gesture of despair.

But Dr. Ferguson, with an energetic accent of undaunted
daring, exclaimed--

"All is not over!"

"I knew it," said Joe, with that confidence in his master
which nothing could ever shake.

The sight of the dried-up grass had inspired the doctor
with a bold idea. It was the last chance of escape. He
led his friends quickly back to where they had left the
covering of the balloon.

"We have at least an hour's start of those banditti,"
said he; "let us lose no time, my friends; gather a quantity
of this dried grass; I want a hundred pounds of it, at least."

"For what purpose?" asked Kennedy, surprised.

"I have no more gas; well, I'll cross the river with hot air!"

"Ah, doctor," exclaimed Kennedy, "you are, indeed,
a great man!"

Joe and Kennedy at once went to work, and soon had
an immense pile of dried grass heaped up near the baobab.

In the mean time, the doctor had enlarged the orifice
of the balloon by cutting it open at the lower end. He
then was very careful to expel the last remnant of hydrogen
through the valve, after which he heaped up a quantity of
grass under the balloon, and set fire to it.

It takes but a little while to inflate a balloon with hot
air. A head of one hundred and eighty degrees is sufficient
to diminish the weight of the air it contains to the
extent of one-half, by rarefying it. Thus, the Victoria
quickly began to assume a more rounded form. There
was no lack of grass; the fire was kept in full blast by the
doctor's assiduous efforts, and the balloon grew fuller every

It was then a quarter to four o'clock.

At this moment the band of Talabas reappeared about
two miles to the northward, and the three friends could
hear their cries, and the clatter of their horses galloping
at full speed.

"In twenty minutes they will be here!" said Kennedy.

"More grass! more grass, Joe! In ten minutes we
shall have her full of hot air."

"Here it is, doctor!"

The Victoria was now two-thirds inflated.

"Come, my friends, let us take hold of the network, as
we did before."

"All right!" they answered together.

In about ten minutes a few jerking motions by the balloon
indicated that it was disposed to start again. The
Talabas were approaching. They were hardly five hundred
paces away.

"Hold on fast!" cried Ferguson.

"Have no fear, master--have no fear!"

And the doctor, with his foot pushed another heap of
grass upon the fire.

With this the balloon, now completely inflated by the
increased temperature, moved away, sweeping the branches
of the baobab in her flight.

"We're off!" shouted Joe.

A volley of musketry responded to his exclamation. A
bullet even ploughed his shoulder; but Kennedy, leaning
over, and discharging his rifle with one hand, brought
another of the enemy to the ground.

Cries of fury exceeding all description hailed the departure
of the balloon, which had at once ascended nearly
eight hundred feet. A swift current caught and swept it
along with the most alarming oscillations, while the
intrepid doctor and his friends saw the gulf of the
cataracts yawning below them.

Ten minutes later, and without having exchanged a
word, they descended gradually toward the other bank of
the river.

There, astonished, speechless, terrified, stood a group
of men clad in the French uniform. Judge of their amazement
when they saw the balloon rise from the right bank
of the river. They had well-nigh taken it for some celestial
phenomenon, but their officers, a lieutenant of marines
and a naval ensign, having seen mention made of Dr. Ferguson's
daring expedition, in the European papers, quickly
explained the real state of the case.

The balloon, losing its inflation little by little, settled
with the daring travellers still clinging to its network;
but it was doubtful whether it would reach the land. At
once some of the brave Frenchmen rushed into the water
and caught the three aeronauts in their arms just as the
Victoria fell at the distance of a few fathoms from the left
bank of the Senegal.

"Dr. Ferguson!" exclaimed the lieutenant.

"The same, sir," replied the doctor, quietly, "and his
two friends."

The Frenchmen escorted our travellers from the river,
while the balloon, half-empty, and borne away by a swift
current, sped on, to plunge, like a huge bubble, headlong
with the waters of the Senegal, into the cataracts of Gouina.

"The poor Victoria!" was Joe's farewell remark.

The doctor could not restrain a tear, and extending his
hands his two friends wrung them silently with that deep
emotion which requires no spoken words.


Conclusion.--The Certificate.--The French Settlements.--The Post
of Medina.--The Basilic.--Saint Louis.--The English Frigate.--The
Return to London.

The expedition upon the bank of the river had been
sent by the governor of Senegal. It consisted of two officers,
Messrs. Dufraisse, lieutenant of marines, and Rodamel,
naval ensign, and with these were a sergeant and
seven soldiers. For two days they had been engaged in
reconnoitring the most favorable situation for a post at
Gouina, when they became witnesses of Dr. Ferguson's

The warm greetings and felicitations of which our travellers
were the recipients may be imagined. The Frenchmen, and
they alone, having had ocular proof of the accomplishment
of the daring project, naturally became Dr. Ferguson's
witnesses. Hence the doctor at once asked them to give
their official testimony of his arrival at the cataracts of Gouina.

"You would have no objection to signing a certificate
of the fact, would you?" he inquired of Lieutenant Dufraisse.

"At your orders!" the latter instantly replied.

The Englishmen were escorted to a provisional post
established on the bank of the river, where they found the
most assiduous attention, and every thing to supply their
wants. And there the following certificate was drawn up
in the terms in which it appears to-day, in the archives of
the Royal Geographical Society of London:

"We, the undersigned, do hereby declare that, on the
day herein mentioned, we witnessed the arrival of Dr.
Ferguson and his two companions, Richard Kennedy and
Joseph Wilson, clinging to the cordage and network of a
balloon, and that the said balloon fell at a distance of a few
paces from us into the river, and being swept away by the
current was lost in the cataracts of Gouina. In testimony
whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and seals beside
those of the persons hereinabove named, for the information
of all whom it may concern.

"Done at the Cataracts of Gouina, on the 24th of May,
"DUFRAISSE, Lieutenant of Marines,
"RODAMEL, Naval Ensign,
"DUFAYS, Sergeant,
"PELISSIER, LOROIS, } Privates."

Here ended the astonishing journey of Dr. Ferguson
and his brave companions, as vouched for by undeniable
testimony; and they found themselves among friends in
the midst of most hospitable tribes, whose relations with
the French settlements are frequent and amicable.

They had arrived at Senegal on Saturday, the 24th of
May, and on the 27th of the same month they reached the
post of Medina, situated a little farther to the north, but
on the river.

There the French officers received them with open
arms, and lavished upon them all the resources of their
hospitality. Thus aided, the doctor and his friends were
enabled to embark almost immediately on the small steamer
called the Basilic, which ran down to the mouth of the

Two weeks later, on the 10th of June, they arrived at
Saint Louis, where the governor gave them a magnificent
reception, and they recovered completely from their
excitement and fatigue.

Besides, Joe said to every one who chose to listen:

That was a stupid trip of ours, after all, and I
wouldn't advise any body who is greedy for excitement to
undertake it. It gets very tiresome at the last, and if it
hadn't been for the adventures on Lake Tchad and at the
Senegal River, I do believe that we'd have died of yawning."

An English frigate was just about to sail, and the three
travellers procured passage on board of her. On the 25th
of June they arrived at Portsmouth, and on the next day
at London.

We will not describe the reception they got from the
Royal Geographical Society, nor the intense curiosity and
consideration of which they became the objects. Kennedy
set off, at once, for Edinburgh, with his famous rifle,
for he was in haste to relieve the anxiety of his faithful
old housekeeper.

The doctor and his devoted Joe remained the same
men that we have known them, excepting that one change
took place at their own suggestion.

They ceased to be master and servant, in order to
become bosom friends.

The journals of all Europe were untiring in their
praises of the bold explorers, and the Daily Telegraph
struck off an edition of three hundred and seventy-seven
thousand copies on the day when it published a sketch of
the trip.

Doctor Ferguson, at a public meeting of the Royal
Geographical Society, gave a recital of his journey through
the air, and obtained for himself and his companions the
golden medal set apart to reward the most remarkable
exploring expedition of the year 1862.


The first result of Dr. Ferguson's expedition was to
establish, in the most precise manner, the facts and
geographical surveys reported by Messrs. Barth, Burton,
Speke, and others. Thanks to the still more recent expeditions
of Messrs. Speke and Grant, De Heuglin and Muntzinger,
who have been ascending to the sources of the
Nile, and penetrating to the centre of Africa, we shall be
enabled ere long to verify, in turn, the discoveries of Dr.
Ferguson in that vast region comprised between the fourteenth
and thirty-third degrees of east longitude.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest