征服者罗比尔 主宰世界的人(中文导读英文版)(txt+pdf+epub+mobi电子书下载)

作者:王勋,纪飞,(法)儒勒·凡尔纳

出版社:清华大学出版社

格式: AZW3, DOCX, EPUB, MOBI, PDF, TXT

征服者罗比尔 主宰世界的人(中文导读英文版)

征服者罗比尔 主宰世界的人(中文导读英文版)试读:

前言

儒勒·凡尔纳(Jules Verne,1828—1905),法国著名作家,现代科幻小说的奠基人,被誉为“科幻小说之父”。凡尔纳一生共创作了六十多部充满神奇与浪漫的科幻小说,其代表作有《气球上的五星期》、《地心游记》、《从地球到月球》、《海底两万里》、《八十天周游世界》、《格兰特船长的儿女》和《神秘岛》等,这些小说被译成世界上几十种文字,并多次被搬上银幕,在世界上广为流传。

儒勒·凡尔纳于1828年2月8日出生在法国西部海港南特。自幼热爱海洋,向往远航探险。他的父亲是一位事业成功的律师,并希望凡尔纳日后也以律师作为职业。18岁时,他遵从父训到首都巴黎攻读法律。可是他对法律毫无兴趣,却爱上了文学和戏剧。1863年,他发表了第一部科幻小说《气球上的五星期》,之后又出版了使他获得巨大声誉的科幻三部曲:《格兰特船长的儿女》、《海底两万里》和《神秘岛》。凡尔纳的科幻小说是真实性与大胆幻想的结合:奇幻的故事情节、鲜明的人物形象、丰富而奇妙的想象、浓郁的浪漫主义风格和生活情趣,使之产生了巨大的艺术魅力,赢得了全世界各国读者,特别是青少年读者的喜爱。他的作品中所表现的自然科学方面的许多预言和假设,在他去世之后得以印证和实现,至今仍然启发着人们的想象力和创造力。

总的说来,凡尔纳的小说有两大特点。第一,他的作品是丰富的幻想和科学知识的结合。虽然凡尔纳笔下的幻想极为奇特、大胆,但其中有着坚实的科学基础,这些作品既是科学精神的幻想曲,也是富有幻想色彩的科学预言,他的许多科幻猜想最后变成了现实。例如,他不仅在小说《从地球到月球》中用大炮将探月飞行器送上太空,甚至还将发射场安排在了美国佛罗里达州,这正是“阿波罗登月计划”的发射场,他在小说《海底两万里》中虚构了“鹦鹉螺号”潜水艇,在该小说出版10年后,第一艘真正的潜水艇才下水;在《征服者罗比尔》中有一个类似直升机的飞行器,数十年后,人类才将这一设想变成了现实。此外,他的小说中还出现了电视、霓虹灯、导弹、坦克和太空飞船等科学技术应用概念,而这些后来都变成了现实。第二,他的作品中的主人公是一些性格鲜明、生动而富有进取心和正义感的人物,他们或是地理发现者、探险家、科学家、发明家,具有超人的智慧、坚强的毅力和执着不懈的精神;或是反对民族歧视、民族压迫的战士,反对社会不公的抗争者,追求自由的旅行家,在他们身上具有反压迫、反强权、反传统的战斗精神,他们热爱自由、热爱平等,维护人的尊严。凡尔纳所塑造的这些人物形象,他们远大的理想、坚强的性格、优秀的品质和高尚的情操已赢得了亿万读者的喜爱和尊敬,并一直成为人们向往的偶像和学习的榜样。

1900年,儒勒·凡尔纳的第一部中译本小说《八十天周游世界》(当时的中文译名是《八十日环游记》)被介绍给中国的读者,直至新中国成立之前,陆续又有梁启超、鲁迅等文化名人将凡尔纳的作品翻译出版。20世纪50年代后期,凡尔纳的科幻小说又开始为国内翻译界和出版界所关注,并在新中国读者面前重新显示了科幻小说旺盛的生命力。20世纪80年代,凡尔纳的作品再次受到读者的青睐,国内许多出版社相继翻译出版了凡尔纳的科幻小说,一时形成了“凡尔纳热”。

目前,国内已出版的凡尔纳小说的形式主要有两种:一种是中文翻译版,另一种是中英文对照版。其中的中英文对照读本比较受读者的欢迎,这主要是得益于中国人热衷于学习英文的大环境。从英文学习的角度来看,直接使用纯英文的学习资料更有利于英语学习。考虑到对英文内容背景的了解有助于英文阅读,使用中文导读应该是一种比较好的方式,也可以说是该类型书的第三种版本形式。采用中文导读而非中英文对照的方式进行编排,这样有利于国内读者摆脱对英文阅读依赖中文注释的习惯。基于以上原因,我们决定编译凡尔纳系列科幻小说中的经典,其中包括《气球上的五星期》、《地心游记》、《从地球到月球》、《环游月球》、《海底两万里》、《八十天周游世界》、《格兰特船长的儿女》、《神秘岛》、《沙皇的信使》、《隐身新娘》、《无名之家》、《征服者罗比尔》、《大臣号幸存者》、《亚马逊漂流记》、《太阳系历险记》、《两年假期》和《测量子午线》等,并采用中文导读英文版的形式出版。在中文导读中,我们尽力使其贴近原作的精髓,也尽可能保留原作的风格。我们希望能够编出为当代中国读者所喜爱的经典读本。读者在阅读英文故事之前,可以先阅读中文导读内容,这样有利于了解故事背景,从而加快阅读速度。我们相信,这些经典著作的引进对加强当代中国读者,特别是青少年读者的科学素养和人文修养是非常有帮助的。

本书主要内容由王勋、纪飞编译。参加本书故事素材搜集整理及编译工作的还有郑佳、刘乃亚、赵雪、左新杲、黄福成、冯洁、徐鑫、马启龙、王业伟、王旭敏、陈楠、王多多、邵舒丽、周丽萍、王晓旭、李永振、孟宪行、熊红华、胡国平、熊建国、徐平国、王小红等。限于我们的文学素养和英语水平,书中难免不当之处,衷心希望读者朋友批评指正。上篇 征服者罗比尔 PartⅠRobur the Conqueror第一章 神秘的声音 Chapter1 Mysterious Sounds导读

一天,一种奇怪的声音在美洲出现,随后也出现在了欧洲和亚洲上空。人们焦急不安,天文台却对此事保持沉默。五月五日夜间,一种持续大约二十秒的电光依次在南部峰多姆气象台、旺都峰及阿尔卑斯闪现。中国的天文台认为这可能是一种飞行器发出的。

美国的天文台却认为,人们不可能在那么大的范围内同时见到那么低的飞行物,后来又认为那是一颗小行星,可小行星怎么会吹奏铜号呢?五月十二日夜,谢菲尔德科技大学耶尔分校的观察者记录下的乐曲短句与法国歌曲《农征歌》完全一样。波士顿天文台认为,确实有运动物体在短时间内出现在空中的不同地点,但还无法断定它的性质、体积、速度和轨迹。

有人写信给《纽约先驱报》,提到数年前德籍工程师舒尔茨先生和法籍博士萨拉奈竞争,企图发射一枚炮弹炸毁法国城市,但当时没计算好,炮弹脱离地球引力成为小行星,现在发现的物体是否就是那颗炮弹呢?

在六月二日至九日的一周时间,在世界好多地方的高处都能看到空中的某处飘扬着一面黑色的、中间有一个金色的太阳、上面点缀有星星的旗帜。n Which Phileas Fogg and Passepartout Accept Each Other,TheOne As Master, the Other As ManI

Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872,at No.7,Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1814.He was one of the most noticeable members of the Reform Club, though he seemed always to avoid attracting at tention;an enigmatical personage, about whom little was known, except that he was a polished man of the world.People said that he resembled Byron-at least that his head was Byronic;but he was a bearded, tranquil Byron, who might live on a thousand years without growing old.

Certainly an Englishman, it was more doubtful whether Phileas Fogg was a Londoner. He was never seen on“Change, nor at the Bank, nor in the counting-rooms of the“City”;no ships ever came into London docks of which he was the owner;he had no public employment;he had never been entered at any of the Inns of Court, either at the Temple, or Lincoln's Inn, or Gray's Inn;nor had his voice ever resounded in the Court of Chancery, or in the Exchequer, or the Queen's Bench, or the Ecclesiastical Courts.He certainly was not a manufacturer;nor was he a merchant or a gentleman farmer.His name was strange to the scientific and learned societies, and he never was known to take part in the sage deliberations of the Royal Institution or the London Institution, the Artisan's Association, or the Institution of Arts and Sciences.He belonged, in fact, to none of the numerous societies which swarm in the lish capital, from the Harmonic to that of Entomologists, founded mainly for the purpose of abolishing pernicious insects.

Phileas Fogg was a member of the Reform, and that was all.

The way in which he got admission to this exclusive club was simple enough. He was recommended by the Barings, with whom he had an open credit.His cheques were regularly paid at sight from his account current, which was always flush.

Was Phileas Fogg rich?Undoubtedly. But those who knew him best could not imagine how he had made his fortune, and Mr.Fogg was the last person to whom to apply for the information.He was not lavish, nor, on the contrary, avaricious;for, whenever he knew that money was needed for a noble, useful, or benevolent purpose, he supplied it quietly and sometimes anonymously.He was, in short, the least communicative of men.He talked very little, andseemed all the more mysterious for his taciturn manner.His daily habits were quite open to observation;but whatever he did was so exactly the same thing that he had always done before, that the wits of the curious were fairly puzzled.

Had he travelled?It was likely, for no one seemed to know the world more faniliarly;there was no spot so secluded that he did not appear to have an intimate acquaintance with aeronauts. Some strange phenomenon had occurred in the higher zones of the atmosphere, a phenomenon of which neither the nature nor the cause could be explained.Today it appeared over America;forty-eight hours afterwards it was over Europe;a week later it was in Asia over the Celestial Empire.

Hence in every country of the world-empire, kingdom, or republic-there was anxiety which it was important to allay. If you hear in your house strange and inexplicable noises, do you not at once endeavor to discover the cause?And if your search is in vain, do you not leave your house and take up your quarters in another?But in this case the house was the terrestrial globe!There are no means of leaving that house for the moon or Mars, or Venus, or Jupiter, or any other planet of the solar sys tem.And so of necessity we have to find out what it is that takes place, not in the infinite void, but within the atmospherical zones.In fact, if there is no air there is no noise, and as there was a noise-that famous trumpet, to witthe phenomenon must occur in the air, the density of which invariably diminishes, and which does not extend for more than six miles round our spheroid.

Naturally the newspapers took up the question in their thousands, and treated it in every form, throwing on it both light and darkness, recording many things about it true or false, alarming and tranquillizing their readers-as the sale required-and almost driving ordinary people mad. At one blow party politics dropped unheeded-and the affairs of the world went no none the worse for it.

But what could this thing be?There was not an observatory that was not applied to. If an observatory could not give a satisfactory answer what was the use of observatories?If astronomers, who doubled and tripled the stars a hundred thousand million miles away, could not explain a phenomenon occurring only a few miles off, what was the use of astronomers?

The observatory at Paris was very guarded in what it said. In themathematical section they had not thought the statement worth noticing;in the meridional section they knew nothing about it;in the physical observatory they had not come across it;in the geodetic section they had had no observation;in the meteorological section there had been no record;in the calcu lating room they had had nothing to deal with.At any rate this confession was a frank one, and the samefrankness characterized the replies from the observatory of Montsouris and the magnetic station in the park of St.Maur.The same respect for the truth distinguished the Bureau des Longitudes.

The provinces were slightly more affirmative. Perhaps in the night of the fifth and the morning of the sixth of May there had appeared a flash of light of electrical origin which lasted about twenty seconds.At the Pic du Midi this light appeared between nine and ten in the evening.At the Meteorological Observatory on the Puy de Dome the light had been observed between one and two o'clock in the morning;at Mont Ventoux in Provence it had been seen between two and three o'clock;at Nice it had been noticed between three and four o'clock;while at the Semnoz Alps between Annecy, Le Bourget, and Le Leman, it had been detected just as the zenith was paling with the dawn.

Now it evidently would not do to disregard these observations altogether. There could be no doubt that a light had been observed at different places, in succession, at intervals, during some hours.Hence, whether it had been produced from many centers in the terrestrial atmosphere, or from one center, it was plain that the light must have traveled at a speed of over one hundred and twenty miles an hour.

There was a laugh at the asserted discoverg in all the observatories of south America, in Brazil, Peru, and La Plata, and in those of Australia at Sydncy, Adelaide, and Melbourne;and Australian laughter is very catching.

To sum up, only one chief of a meteorological station ventured on a decided answer to this question, notwithstanding the sarcasms that his solution provoked. This was a Chinaman, the director of the observatory at Zi-Ka-Wey which rises in the center of a vast plateau less than thirty miles from the sea, having an immense horizon and wonderfully pure atmosphere.“It is possible,”said he,“that the object was an aviform apparatus-a flying machine!”

What nonsense!

But if the controversy was keen in the old world, we can imagine what it was like in thatportion of the new of which the United States occupy so vast an area.

A Yankee, we know, does not waste time on the road. He takes the street that leads him straight to his end.And the observatories of the American Federation did not hesitate to do their best.If they did not hurl their objectives at each other's heads, it was because they would have had to put them back just when they most wanted to use them.In this muchdisputed question the observatories of Washington in the District of Columbia, and Cambridge in Massachusetts, found themselves opposed by those of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and Ann Arbor in Michigan.The subject of their dispute was not the nature of the body observed, but the precise moment of its observation.All of them claimed to have seen it the same night, the same hour, the same minute, the same second, although the trajectory of the mysterious voyager took it but a moderate height above the horizon.Now from Massachusetts to Michigan, from New Hampshire to Columbia, the distance is too great for this double observation, made at the same moment, to he considered possible.

Dudley at Albany, in the state of New York, and West Point, the military academy, showed that their colleagues were wrong by an elabo rate calculation of the right ascension and decli nation of the aforesaid body.

But later on it was discovered that the ob servers had been deceived in the body, and that what they had seen was an aerolite. This aero lite could not be the object in question, for how could an aerolite blow a trumpet?

It was in vain that they tried to get rid of this trumpet as an optical illusion. The ears were no more deceived than the eyes.Something had assuredly been seen, and something had assuredly been heard.In the night of the 12th and 13th of May-a very dark night-the observers at Yale College, in the Sheffield Science School, had been able to take down a few bars of a musical phrase in D major, common time, which gave note for note, rhythm for rhythm, the chorus of the Chant du Depart.

“Good,”said the Yankee wags.“There is a French band well up in the air.”

But to joke is not to answer. Thus said the observatory at Boston, foundedby the Atlantic Iron Works Society, whose opinions in matters of astronomy and meteorology began to have much weight in the world of science.

Then there intervened the observatory at Cincinnati, founded in 1870,on Mount Look out, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Kilgour, and known for its micrometrical measurements of double stars.Its director declared with the utmost good faith that there had certainly been something, that a traveling body had shown itself at very short periods at different points in the atmosphere, but what vcere the nature of this body, its dimensions, its speed, and its trajectory, it was impossible to say.

It was then a journal whose publicity is immense-the“New York Herald”-received the anonymous contribution hereunder.

“There will be in the recollection of most people the rivalry which existed a few years ago between the two heirs of the Begum of Raggi nahra, the French doctor Sarrasin, the city of Frankville, and the German engineer Schultze, in the city of Steeltown, both in the south of Oregon in the United States.

“It will not have been forgotten that, with the object of destroying Frankville, Herr Schultze launched a formidable engine, intend ed to beat down the town and annihilate it at a single blow.

“Still less will it be forgotten that this engine, whose initial velocity as it left the mouth of the monster cannon had been erroneously calculated, had flown off at a speed exceeding by sixteen times that of ordinary projectiles-or about four hundred and fifty miles an hour that it did not fall to the ground, and that it passed into an aerolitic stag, so as to circle for ever round our globe.

“Why should not this be the body in question?”

Very ingenious, Mr. Correspondent on the“New York Herald!”but how about the trumpet”There was no trumpet in Herr Schulze's projectile!

So all the explanations explained nothing, and all the observers had observed in vain. There remained only the suggestion offered by the director of Zi-Ka-Wey.But the opinion of a Chinaman!

The discussion continued, and there was no sign of agreement. Then came a short period of rest.Some days elapsed without any object, aerolite or otherwise, being described, and without any trumpet notes being heard in the atmosphere.The body then had fallen on some part of the globe where it hadbeen difficult to trace it;in the sea, perhaps.Had it sunk in the depths of theAtlantic, the Pacific, or the Indian Ocean?What was to be said in this matter?

But then, between the 2nd and 9th of June, there came a new series of facts which could not possibly be explained by the unaided existence of a cosmic phenomernon.

In a week the Hamburgers at the top of St. Michael's Tower, the Turks on the highest minaret of St.Sophia, the Rouennais at the end of the metal spire of their cathedral, the Strasburgers at the summit of their minister, the Americans on the head of the Liberty statue at the entrance of the Hudson and on the Bunker Hill monument at Boston, the Chinese at the spike of the temple, of the Four Hun dred Genii at Canton, the Hindus on the sixteenth terrace of the pyramid of the temple at Tanjore, the San Pietrini at the cross of St.Peter's at Rome, the English at the cross of St.Paul's in London, the Egyptians at the appex of the Great Pyramid of Ghizeh, the Parisians at the lighting conductor of the iron tower of the Exposition of 1889,a thousand feet high, all of them beheld a flag floating from some one of these inaccessible points.

And the flag was black, dotted with stars, and it bore a golden sun in its center.第二章 不可能达成一致 Chapter2 Agreement Impossible导读

在韦尔登学会的大礼堂里,人们正为要将螺旋桨装在气球的前部还是后部争论不休。韦尔登学会设有一名主席、一名秘书长和一名司库,领导着一百多位气球主义者。主席普鲁登特大叔拥有大量财富,但生活简朴,至今仍是单身,只有仆人弗莱科林照顾他。

学会的秘书菲尔埃文斯是他的反对者,两人都是四十五岁。菲尔是沃尔顿钟表公司的老板,和普鲁登特大叔的暴躁脾气相反,他非常冷静。他们两个在主席竞选进行的二十次投票中,谁也没有赢过谁,未决出胜负。

学会里有一个叫吉姆·西库的半婆罗门、半穆斯林的素食主义者提议:用投标的方法来确定学会的主席,但结果是两人成绩相同。最后,一个叫特鲁特米尔纳的会员提出:用金刚石碎片刻出的能将一毫米分成一千五百份的测微仪器来测量,结果普鲁登特大叔为一千五百分之六毫米。菲尔一千五百分之九毫米,所差的这一千五百分之三毫米让普鲁登特大叔当了主席,也让菲尔的心里埋下了怨恨。nd the first who says the contrary-”“Indeed!But we will say the contrary so long as there is a “Aplace to say it in!”

“And in spite of your threats-”

“Mind what you are saying, Bat Fynn!

“Mind what you are saying, Uncle Prudent!”

“I maintain that the screw ought to be behind!”

“And so do we!And so do we!”replied half a hundred voices confounded in one.

“No!It ought to be in front!”shouted Phil Evans.

“In front!”roared fifty other voices, with a vigor in no whit less remarkable.

“We shall never agree!”

“Never!Never!”

“Then what is the use of a dispute?”

“It is not a dispute!It is a discussion!”

One would not have thought so to listen to the taunts, objurgations, and vociferations which filled the lecture room for a good quarter of an hour.

The room was one of the largest in the Weldon Institute, the well-known club in Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U. S.A.Tne evening before there had been an election of a lamplighter, occasioning many public manifestations, noisy meetings, and even inter changes of blows, resulting in an effervescence which had not yet subsided, and which would account for some of the excitement just exhibited by the members of the Weldon Institute.For this was merely a meeting of balloonists, discussing the burning question of the direction of balloons.

In this great saloon there were struggling, pushing, gesticulating, shouting, arguing, dis puting, a hundred balloonists, all with their hats on, under the authority of a president, as sisted by a secretary and treasurer. They were not engineers by profession, but simply amateurs of all that appertained to aerostatics, and they were amateurs in a fury, and especially foes of those who would oppose to aerostats“apparatuses heavier than the air,”flying machines, aerial ships, or what not.That these people might one day discover the method of guiding balloons is possible.There could be no doubt that their president had considerable difficulty in guiding them.

This president, well known in Philadelphia was the famous Uncle Prudent, Prudent being his family name. There is nothing surprising in America in the qualiflcative uncle, for you can there be uncle without having either nephew or niece.There they speak of uncle as in other places they speak of father, though the father may have had no children.

Uncle Prudent was a personage of consideration, and in spite of his name was well known for his audacity. He was very rich, and that is no drawback even in the United States;and how could it be otherwise when he owned the greater part of the shares in Niagara Falls?A society of engineers had just been founded at Buffalo for working the cataract.It seemed to be an excellent speculation.The seven thousand five hundred cubic meters that pass over Niagara in a second would produce seven millions of horsepower.This enormous power, distributed amongst all the workshops within a radius of three hundred miles, would return an annual income of three hundred million dollars, of which the greater part would find its way into the pocket of Uncle Prudent.He was a bachelor, he lived quietly, and for his only servant had his valet Fryeollin, who was hardly worthy of being the servant to so audacious a master.

Uncle Prudent was rich, and therefore he had friends, as was natural;but he also had enemies, although he was president of the clubamong others all those who envied his position. Amongst his bitterest foes we may mention the secretary of the Weldon Institute.

This was Phil Evans, who was also very rich, being the manager of the Wheelton Watch Company, an important manufactory, which makes every day five hundred movements equal in every respect to the best Swiss workmanship. Phil Evans would have passed for one of the happiest men in the world, and even in the United States, if it had not been for Uncle Prudent.Like him he was in his forty-sixth year;like him of invariable health;like him of un doubted boldness.They were two men made to understand each other thoroughly, but they did not, for both were of extreme violence of character.Uncle Prudent was furiously hot;Phil Evans was abnormally cool.

And why had not Phil Evans been elected president of the club?The votes were exactly divided between Uncle Prudent and him. Twenty times there had been a scrutiny, and twenty times the majority had not declared for either oneor the other.The position was embarrassing, and it might have lasted for the lifetime of the candidates.

One of the members of the club then proposed a way out of the difficulty. This was Jem Chip, the treasurer of the Weldon Institute.Chip was a confirmed vegetarian, a proscriber of all animal nourishment, of all fermented liquors, half a Mussulman, half a Brahman.On this occasion Jem Chip was supported by another member of the club, William T.Forbes, the manager of a large factory where they made glucose by treating rags with sulphuric acid.A man of good standing was this William T.Forbes, the father of two charming girls Miss Dorothy, called Doll, and Miss Martha, called Mat, who gave the tone to the best society in Philadelphia.

It followed, then, on the proposition of Jem Chip, supported by William T. Forbes and others, that it was decided to elect the president“on the center point.”

This mode of election can be applied in all cases when it is desired to elect the most wor thy;and a number of Americans of high intelli gence are already thinking of employing it in the nomination of the President of the Republic of the United States.

On two boards of perfect whiteness a black line is traced. The length of each of these lines is mathematically the same, for they have been determined with as much accuracy as the base of the first triangle in a trigonometrical survey.That done, the two boards were erected on the same ray in the center of the conference room, and the two candidates, each armed with a fine needle, marched towards the board that had fallen to his lot.The man who planted his needle nearest the center of the line would be proclaimed President of the Weldon Institute.

The operation must be done at once-no guide marks or trial shots allowed;nothing but sureness of eye. The man must have a compass in his eye, as the saying goes;that was all.

Uncle Prudent stuck in his needle at the same moment as Phil Evans did his. Then there began the measurement to discover which of the two competitors had most nearly approached the center.

Wonderful!Such had been the precision of the shots that the measuresgave no appreciable difference. If they were not exactly in the mathematical center of the line, the distance between the needles was so small as to be invisible to the naked eye.

The meeting was much embarrassed.

Fortunately one of the members, Truck Milnor, insisted that the measurements should be remade by means of a rule graduated by the micrometrical machine of M. Perreaux, which can divide a millimeter into fifteen-hundredths of a millimeter with a diamond splinter, was brought to bear on the lines;and on reading the divisions through a microscope the following were the results:Uncle Prudent had approached the center within less than six fifteenth-hundredths of a millimeter.Phil Evans was within nine fifteen-hundredths.

And that is why Phil Evans was only secretary of the Weldon Institute, whereas Uncle Prudent was president. A difference of three fifteen-hundredths of a millimeter!And on ac count of it Phil Evans vowed against Uncle Prudent one of those hatreds which are none the less fierce for being latent.第三章 被告知有来访客 Chapter3 AVisitorIs Announced导读

此时的发动机试验取得了很大的成果,蒸汽机和人力发动机逐步被电动机代替。克雷布斯船长和雷纳德船长发明的电动机功率已达十二匹马力,使气球的平均速度达到了六米半每秒。电动机的马力越来越大,体积越来越小。波士顿的一位化学家设计的电动机可使气球的速度达到二十到二十二米每秒。

普鲁登特大叔将十万美元付给了发明家,著名的气球飞行家哈里·乌·汀德便指挥人们开始制造气球,他曾驾驶气球从一万二千码的高度摔下,但仅仅伤了右手腕。韦尔登的四万立方米的气球“前进号”已经造好,只等测试它的牢固度,发动机也造好了,六个星期内将进行首次试飞。

但学会内部就“螺旋桨安装在前面还是后面的问题”发生了争论。这时,看门人送给主席一张名片,普鲁登特大叔好不容易让大家安静下来,他向大家宣布:一个名叫罗比尔的陌生人想进来和大家讨论这个气球不能驾驶的问题。这使大家有了一个喘息的机会,双方一致同意让他进来。he many experiments made during this last quarter of the nineteenthcentury have given considerable impetus to the Tquestion of guidable balloons. The cars furnished with propellers attached in 1852 to the aerostats of the elongated form introduced by Henry Giffard, the machines of Dupuy de Lomein 1872,of the Tissandier brothers in 1883,and of Captain Krebs and Renard in 1884,yielded many important results.But if these machines, moving in a medium heavier than themselves, maneuvering under the propulsion of a screw, working at an angle to the direction of the wind, and even against the wind, to return to their point of departure, had been really“guidable,”they had only succeeded under very favorable conditions.In large, covered halls their success was perfeet.In a calm atmosphere they did very well.In a light wind of five or six yards a second they still moved.But nothing practical had been obtained.Against a miller's wind-nine yards a second-the machines had remained al most stationary.Against a fresh breeze-eleven yards a second-they would have advanced backwards.In a storm-twenty-seven to thirty three yards a second-they would have been blown about like a feather.In a hurricane sixty yards a second-they would have run the risk of being dashed to pieces.And in one of those cyclones which exceed a hundred yards a second not a fragment of them would have been left.It remained, then, even after the striking experiments of Captains Krebs and Renard, that though guidable aerostats had gained a little speed, they could not be kept going in a moderate breeze.Hence the impossibility of making practical use of this mode of aerial locomotion.

With regards to the means employed to give the aerostat its motion a great deal of progress had been made. For the steam engines of Henry Giffard, and the muscular force of Dupuy de Lome, electric motors had gradually been substituted.The batteries of bichromate of potassi um of the Tissandier brothers had given a speed of four yards a second.The dynamo-electric machines of Captain Krebs and Renard had developed a force of twelve horsepower and yielded a speed of six and a half yards per second.

With regard to this motor, engineers and electricians had been approaching more and more to that deside ratum which is known as a steam horse in a watch case. Gradually the re sults of the pile of which Captains Krebs and Renard had kept the secret had been surpassed, and aeronauts had become able to avail themselves of motors whose lightness increased at the same time as their power.In this there was much to encourage those who believed in the utilization of guidable balloons.But yet how many good people there are who refuse to admit the possibility of such a thing!If the aerostat finds support in the air itbelongs to the medium in which it moves;under such conditions, how can its mass, whichi offers so much resistance to the currents of the atmosphere, make its way against the wind?

In this struggle of the inventors after a light and powerful motor, the Americans had most nearly attained what they sought. A dynamoelectric apparatus, in which a new pile was employed the composition of which was still a mystery, had been bought from its inventor, a Boston chemist up to then unknown.Calculations made with the greatest care, diagrams drawn with the utmost exactitude, showed that by means of this apparatus driving a screw of given dimensions a displacement could be obtained of from twenty to twenty-two yards asecond.

Now this was magnificent!

“And it is not dear,”said Uncle Prudent, as he handed to the inventor in return for his formal receipt the last installment of the hundred thousand paper dollars he had paid for his invention.

Immediately the Weldon Institute set to work. When there comes along a project of practical utility the money leaps nimbly enough from American pockets.The funds flowed in even without its being necessary to form a syn dicate.Three hundred thousand dollars came into the club's account at the first appeal.The work began under the superintendence of the most celebrated aeronaut of the United States, Harry W.Tinder, immortalized by three of his ascents out of a thousand, one in which he rose to a height of twelve thousand yards, higher than Gay Lussac, Coxwell, Sivet, Croce Spinelli, Tissandier, Glaisher;another in which he had crossed America from New York to San Francisco, exceeding by many hundred leagues the journeys of Nadar, Godard, and others, to say nothing of that of John Wise, who accomplished eleven hundred and fifty miles from St.Louis to Jefferson county;the third, which ended in a frightful fall from fifteen hundred feet at the cost of a slight sprain in the right thumb, while the less fortunate Pilutre de Rozier fell only seven hundred feet, and yet killed himself on the spot!

At the time this story begins the Weldon institute had got their work well in hand. In the Turner yard at Philadelphia there reposed an enormous aerostat, whose strength had been tried by highly compressed air.It well merited thename of the monster balloon.

How large was Nadar's Giant?Six thousand cubic meters. How large was John Wise's balloon?Twenty thousand cubic meters.How large was'the Giffard balloon at the 1878 Exhibition?Twenty-five thousand cubic meters.Compare these three aerostats with the aerial machine of the Weldon Institute, whose volume amounted to forty thousand cubic meters, and you will understand why Uncle Prudent and his colleagues were so justifiably proud of it.

This balloon not being destined for the exploration of the higher strata of the atmosphere, was not called the Excelsior, a name which is rather too much held in honor among the citi zens of America. No!It was called, simply, the“Go-Ahead,”and all it had to do was to justify its name by going ahead obediently to the wishes of its commander.

The dynamo-electric machine, according to the patent purchased by the Weldon Institute, was nearly ready. In less than six weeks the“Go-Ahead”would start for its first cruise through space.

But, as we have seen, all the mechanical difficulties had not been overcome. Many evenings had been devoted to discussing, not the form of its screw nor its, dimensions, but whether it ought to be put behind, as the Tissandier brothers had done, or before as Captains Krebs and Renard had done.It is unnecessary to add that the partisans of the two systems had almost come to blows.The group of“Beforists”were equaled in number by the group of“Behindists.”Uncle Prudent, who ought to have given the casting vote-UnclePrudent, brought up doubtless in the school of Professor Buridan-could not bring himself to decide.

Hence the impossibility of getting the screw into place. The dispute might last for some time, unless the government interfeted.But in the United States the government meddles with private affairs as little as it possibly can.And it is right.

Things were in this state at this meeting on the 13th of June, which threatened to end in a riot-insults exchanged, fisticuffs succeeding the insuIts, cane thrashings succeeding the fisticuffs, revolver shots succeeding the cane thrashings-when at thirty-seven minutes past eight there occurred a diversion.

The porter of the Weldon Institute coolly and calmly, like a policeman amid the storm of the meeting, approached the presidential desk. On it he placed a card.He awaited the orders that Uncle Prudent found it convenient to give.

Uncle Prudent turned on the steam whistle, which did duty for the presidential bell, for even the Kremlin clock would have struck in vain!But the tumult slackened not.

Then the president removed his hat. Thanks to this extreme measure a semi-silence was obtained.

“A communication!”said Uncle Prudent, after taking a huge pinch from the snuff-box which never left him.

“Speak up!”answered ninety-nine voices, accidentally in agreement on this one point.

“A stranger, my dear colleagues, asks to be admitted to the meeting.”

“Never!”replied every voice.

“He desires to prove to us, it would appear,”continued Uncle Prudent,“that to believe in guiding balloons is to believe in the absurdest of Utopias!”

“Let him in!Let him in!”

“What is the name of this singular personage?”asked secretary Phil Evans.

“Robur,”replied Uncle Prudent.

“Robur!Robur!Robur!”yelled the assembly. And the welcome accorded so quickly to the curious name was chiefly due to the Weldon Institute hoping to vent its exasperation on the head of him who bore it!第四章 会场出现了一个新人物 Chapter4 In Whicha New Character Appears导读

罗比尔先向人们介绍说自己四十岁,有坚强的体格。人们被他的开场白震慑住了,会场安静下来。他又介绍自己是个出色的工程师,任何事情也不能使他屈服,谁也阻止不了他达到目的的决心。

他说一些人固执地认为能像驾驶船在海上航行一样,将电动机装在汽球上就可以驾驶;而一些发明者在无风的日子使气球在空中前进,就认为气球能飞上天,但这是不可能的事。韦尔登学会的人对他的讲话竟没有反应。

他又接着说道:要想得到两磅的浮力,就需要一立方米的气体。人们要想成为空间的主人,必定要使用比空气重的机器。他的话使台下的人有的反对,有的拥护,双方争执起来,主席挥手让人们安静下来。

罗比尔又接着说道:未来是属于飞行器的时代,如果一个人的鞋底面积是八分之一平方米,那么每秒四十五米向上喷射的速度就可以托住他;如果速度增大到九十米每秒,他就可以在上面走路;当螺旋桨以同样的速度推开气球时,可以得到同样的效果。

最后他又说:凭着他们现在的飞行器,什么也干不了。这是对韦尔登学会制造大气球的攻击,下面的人提出要把他赶下去。罗比尔继续说:人们在研究了飞行的动物后,觉得模仿它们就行了,而德吕西先生发现一种两克重的、叫“鹿角锹甲”的飞虫可以提起比自身重二百倍的物体;另外还证明了,动物重量与它们的翅膀的面积成反比,于是,就设计出了飞行器,并且已经制造出来了。

菲尔·埃文斯认为飞鸟没有螺旋桨!罗比尔告诉他们,飞鸟的飞行是螺旋运动,它本身就是螺旋桨。

罗比尔说,飞行器八天就可以绕地球一周,而乘气球需要十年。他的话引起了长时间的抗议。人们向讲台冲了过去,向他挥起了拳头,这时,罗比尔掏出手枪对准了前面疯狂的人们,混乱的人们向后退去,他朝空中放了几枪,然后趁着硝烟消失了。itizens of the United States!My name is Robur. I am worthy of thename!I am forty years old, although I look but thirty, and “Chave a constitution of iron, a healthy vigor that nothing can shake, a muscular strength that few can equal, and a digestion that would be thought first class even in an ostrich!”

They were listening!Yes!The riot was quelled at once by the totally unexpected fashion of the speech. Was this fellow a madman or a hoaxer?Whoever he was, he kept his audience in hand.There was not a whisper in the meeting in which but a few minutes ago thestorm was in full fury.

And Robur looked the man he said he was. Of middle height and geometric breadth, his figure was a regular trapezium with the greatest of its parallel sides formed by the line of his shoulders.On this line attached by a robust neck there rose an enormous spheroidal head.The head of what animal did it resemble from the point of view of passionai analogy?The head of a bull;but a bull with an intelligent face.Eyes which at the least opposition would glow like coals of fire;and above'them a permanent contraction of the superciliary muscle, an invariable sign of extreme energy.Short hair, slightly woolly, with metallic reflections;large chest rising and falling like a smith's bellows;arms, hands, legs, feet, all worthy of the trunk.No mustaches, no whiskers, but a large American goatee, revealing the attachments of the jaw whose masseter muscles were evidently of formidable strength.It has been calculated-what has not been calculated?-a kilogram of dog produces eight kilograms of masseteric force, a kilogram of crocodile could produce twelve.Now, a kilogram of, the aforesaid Robur would not produce less than ten, so that he came between the dog and the crocodile.

From what country did this remarkable specimen come?It was difficult to say. One thing was noticeable, and that was that he expressed himself fluently in English without a trace of the drawling twang that distinguishes the Yankees of New England.

He continued:“And now, honorable citizens, for my mental faculties. You see before you an engineer whose nerves are in no wayinferior to his muscles.I have no fear of anything or anybody.I have a strength of will that has never had to yield.When I have decided on a thing, all America, all the world, may strive in vain to keep me from it.When I have an idea, I allow no one to share it, and I do not permit any contradiction.I insist on these details, honorable citizens, because it is necessary you should quite understand me.Perhaps you think I am talking too much about myself?It does not matter if you do!And now consider a little before you interrupt me, as I have come to tell you something that you may not be particularly pleased to hear.”

A sound as of the surf on the beach began to rise along the first row of seats-a sign that the sea would not be long in getting stormy again.

“Speak, stranger!”said Uncle Prudent, who had some difficulty in restraining himself.

And Robur spoke as follows, without troubling himself any more about his audience.

“Yes!I know it well!After a century of experiments that have led to nothing, and trials giving no results, there still exist ill-balanced minds who believe in guiding balloons. They imagine that a motor of some sort, electric or otherwise, might be applied to their pretentious skin bags which are at the mercy of every current in the atmosphere.They persuade themselves that they can be masters of an aerostat as they can be masters of a ship on the surface of the sea.Because a few inventors in calm or nearly calm weather have succeeded in working an angle with the wind, or even beating to windward in a gentle breeze, they think that the steering of aerial apparatus lighter than the air is a practical matter.Well, now, look here;You hundred, who believe in the realization of your dreams, are throwing your thousands of dollars not intowater but into space!You are fighting the impossible!”

Strange as it was that at this affirmation the members of the Weldon Institute did not move. Had they become as deaf as they were patient?Or were they reserving themselves to see how far this audacious contradictor would dare to go?

Robur continued:“What?A balloon!When to obtain the raising of a couple of pounds you require a cubic yard of gas. A balloon pretending to resist the wind by aid of its mechanism, when the pressure of a light breeze on a vessel's sails is not less than that of four hundred horsepower;when in the accident at the Tay Bridge you saw the storm produce a pressure of eight and a half hundred weight on a square yard.A balloon, when on such a system nature has never constructed anything flying, whether fur nished with wings like birds, or membranes like certain fish, or certain mammalia—”

“Mammalia?”exclaimed one of the members.

“Yes!Mammalia!The bat, which flies, if I am not mistaken!Is the gentleman unaware that this flyer is a mammal?Did he ever see an omelette made of bat's eggs?”

The interrupter reserved himself for future interruption, and Robur resumed:“But does that mean that man is to give up the conquest of the air, and the transformation of the domestic and political manners of the old world, by the use of this admirable means of locomotion?By no means. As he has become master of the seas with the ship, by the oar, the sail, the wheel and the screw, so shall he become master of atmospherical space by apparatus heavier than the air-for it must be heavier to be stronger than the air!”

And then the assembly exploded. What a broadside of yells escaped from all these mouths, aimed at Robur like the muzzles of so many guns!Was not this hurling a declaration of war into the very camp of the balloonists?Was not this a stirring up of strife between“the lighter”and“the heavier”than air?

Robur did not even frown. With folded arms he waited bravely till silence was obtained.

By a gesture Uncle Prudent ordered the firing to cease.

“Yes,”continued Robur,“the future is for the flying machine. The air affords a solid fulcrum.If you will give a column of air an ascen sionalmovement of forty-five meters a second, a man can support himself on the top of it if the soles of his boots have a superficies of only the eighth of a square meter.And if the speed be increased to ninety meters, he can walk on it with naked feet.Or if, by means of a screw, you drive a mass of air at this speed, you get the same result.”

What Robur said had been said before by all the partisans of aviation, whose work slowly but surely is leading on to the solution of the problem. To Ponton d'Amecourt, La Landelle, Nadar, De Luzy, De Louvrie, Liais, Beleguir, Morean, the brothers Richard, Babinet, Jobert, Du Temple, Salives, Penaud, De Villeneuve, Gauchot and Tatin, Michael Loup, Edison, Planavergne, and so many others, belongs the honor of having brought forward ideas of such simplicity.Abandoned and resumed times without number, they are sure, some day to triumph.To the enemies of aviation, who urge that the bird only sustains himself by warming the air he strikes, their answer is ready.Have they not proved that an eagle weighing five kilograms would have to fill fifty cubic meters with his warm fluid merely to sustain himself in space?

This is what Robur had demonstrated with undeniable logic amid the uproar that arose on all sides. And in conclusion these are the words he hurled in the faces of the balloonists:“Withyour aerostats you can do nothing-you will arrive at nothing-you dare do nothing!The boldest of your aeronauts, John Wise, although he has made an aerial voyage of twelve hundred miles above the American continent, has had to give up his project of crossing the Atlantic!And you have not advanced one step-not one step-towards your end.”

“Sir,”said the president, who in vain endeavored to keep himself cool,“you forget what was said by our immortal Franklin at the first appearance of the fire balloon,‘It is but a child, but it will grow!'It was but a child, and it has grown.”

“No, Mr. President, it has not grown!It has got fatter-and this is not the same thing!”

This was a direct attack on the Weldon Institute, which had decreed, helped, and paid for the making of a monster balloon. And so propositions of the following kind began to fly about the room:“turn him out!”“throw him off the platform!”“Prove that he is heavier than the air!”

But these were only words, not means to an end.

Robur remained impassible, and continued:“There is no progress for your aerostats, my citizen balloonists;progress is for flying machines. The bird flies, and he is not a balloon, he is a piece of mechanism!”

“Yes, he flies!”exclaimed the fiery Bat T. Fynn,“but he flies against all the laws of mechanics.”

“Indeed!”said Robur, shrugging his shoulders, and resuming,“Since we have begun the study of the flight of large and small birds one simple idea has prevailed-to imitate nature, which never makes mistakes. Between the albatross, which gives hardy ten beats of the wing per minute, between the pelican, which gives seventy-”

“Seventy-one,”said the voice of a scoffer.

“And the bee, which gives one hundred and ninety-two per second-”

“One hundred and ninety-three!”said the facetious individual.

“And, the common house fly, which gives three hundred and thirty-”

“And a half!”

“And the mosquito, which gives millions-”

“No, milliards!”

But Robur, the interrupted, interrupted not his demonstration.“Between these different rates-”he continued.

“There is a difference,”said a voice.

“There is a possibility of finding a practical solution. When De Lucy showed that the stag beetle, an insect weighing only two grammes, could lift a weight of four hundred grammes, or two hundred times its own weight, the problem of aviation was solved.Besides, it has been shown that the wing surface decreases in proportion to the increase of the size and weight of the animal.Hence we can look forward to such contrivances-”

“Which would never fly!”said secretary Phil Evans.

“Which have flown, and which will fly,”said Robur, without being in the least disconcerted,“and which we can call streophores, helicopters, orthopters-or, in imitation of the word‘nef,'which comes from‘navis,'call them from‘avis,'‘efs,'-bymeans of which man will become the master of space. The helix

“Ah, the helix!”replied Phil Evans.“But the bird has no helix;that we know!”

“So,”said Robur,“but Penaud has shown that in reality the bird makes a helix, and its flight is helicopteral. And the motor of the future is the screw-”

“From such a maladee Saint Helix keep us free!”sung out one of the members, who had accidentally hit upon the air from Herold's“Zampa.”

And they all took up the chorus:“From such a maladee Saint Helix keep us free!”with such intonations and variations as would have made the French composer groan in his grave.

As the last notes died away in a frightful discord Uncle Prudent took advantage of the momentary calm to say,“Stranger, up to now, we let you speak without interruption.”It seemed that for the president of the Weldon Institute shouts, yells, and catcalls were not interruptions, but only an exchange of arguments.

“But I may remind you, all the same, that the theory of aviation is condemned beforehand, and rejected by the majority of American and foreign engineers. It is a system which was the cause of the death of the Flying Saracen at Constantinople, of the monk Volador at Lisban, of De Leturn in 1852,of De Groof in 1864,besides the victims I forget since the mythological Icarus-”

“A system,”replied Robur,“no more to be condemned than that whose martyrology contains the names of Pilutre de Rozier at Calais, of Blanchard at Paris, of Donaldson and Grimwood in Lake Michigan, of Sivel and of CroceSpinelli, and others whom it takes good care, to forget.”

This was a counter-thrust with a vengeance.“Besides,”continued Robur,“With your balloons as good as you can make them you will never obtain any speed worth mentioning. It would take you ten years to go round the world-and a flying machine could do it in a week!”

Here arose a new tempest of protests and denials which lasted for three long minutes. And then Phil Evans look up the word.

“Mr. Aviator,”he said“you who talk so much of the benefits of aviation, have you ever aviated?”

“I have.”

“And made the conquest of the air?”

“Not unlikely.”

“Hooray for Robur the Conqueror!”shouted an ironical voice.

“Well, yes!Robur the Conqueror!I accept the name and I will bear it, for I have a rightto it!”

“We beg to doubt it!”said Jem Chip.

“Gentlemen,”said Robur, and his brows knit,“when I have just seriously stated a serious thing I do not permit anyone to reply to me by a flat denial, and I shall be glad to know the name of the interrupter.”

“My name is Chip, and I am a vegetarian.”

“Citizen Chip,”said Robur,“I knew that vegetarians had longer alimentary canals than other men-a good foot longer at the least. That is quite long enough;and so do not compel me to make you any longer by beginning atyour ears and-”

“Throw him out!”

“Into the street with him!”

“Lynch him!”

“Helix him!”

The rage of the balloonists burst forth at last. They rushed at the platform.Robur disappeared amid a sheaf of hands that were thrown about as if caught in a storm.In vain the steam whistle screamed its fanfares on to the assembly.Philadelphia might well think that a fire was devouring one of its quarters and that all the waters of the Schuyllkill could not put it out.

Suddenly there was a recoil in the tumult. Robur had put his hands into his pockets and now held them out at the front ranks of the infuriated mob.

In each hand was one of those American institutions known as revolvers which the mere pressure of the fingers is enough to fire-pocket mitrailleuses in fact.

And tahing advantage not only of the recoil of his assailants but also of the silence which accompanied it.

“Decidedly,”said he,“it was not Amerigo that discovered the New World, it was Cabot!You are not Americans, citizen balloonists!You are only Cabo-”

Four or five shots cracked out, fired into space. They hurt nobody.Amid the smoke, the engineer vanished;and when it had thinned away there was no trace of him.Robur the Conqueror had flown, as if some apparatus of aviationhad borne him into the air.第五章 又一次消失 Chapter5 Another Disappearance导读

现在,韦尔登学会的“比空气轻派”的会员,让这个“比空气重派”给侮辱了一番,并将他们这些亚美利克的后裔称为卡博的子孙,这引起了大家的愤怒。于是,他们走向街区,可哪里也找不到罗比尔。一个钟头以后,人们只好作罢,街区又恢复了平静,人们都回家去了。

学会的主席和秘书还要进行一场尖锐的对话,他们从学会出来,主席的仆人弗莱科林跟在他们后面,听他们在前面争论,看到他们在深夜里走到荒凉的地方,又仿佛看到五六个大汉在跟踪他们,他靠近了主人,但不敢打断他们的谈话。

主席和秘书越过了舒依基尔河大桥,来到公园,弗莱科林看到那几个人也过了桥。这时,林中响起一声口哨,空地中央亮起了一束光,六个大汉扑向他们三个,每两人对付一个,一会儿便把他们捆了起来,眼睛被蒙上,嘴也被堵了起来。一分钟后,他们被放到地板上,门在他们的身后被锁上了,随后响起了嗡嗡声,这种声音持续了一晚上。

第二天,整个费城都知道头天晚上征服者罗比尔在学会中与他们斗争并神秘消失了,后来人们又知道学会主席和秘书也失踪了,人们找遍了城内外,但没一点儿消息。his was not the first occasion on which, at the end of their stormy discussions, the members of the Weldon Institute had filled Walnut TStreet and its neighborhood with their tumult. Several times had the inhabitants complained of the noisy way in which the proceedings ended, and more than once had the policemen had to interfere to clear the thoroughfare for the passersby, who for the most part were supremely indifferent on the question of aeriai navigation.But never before had the tumult attained such proportions, never had the complaints been better founded, never had the intervention of the police been more necessary.

But there was some excuse for the membersof the Weldon Institute. They had been attacked in their own house.To these enthusiasts for“lighter than aik”a no less enthusiast for“heavier than air”had said things absolutely abhorrent.And at the moment they were about to treat him as he deserved, he had disappeared.

So they cried aloud for vengeance. To leave such insults unpunished was impossible to all with American blood in their veins.Had not the sons of Amerigo been called the sons of Cabot?Was not that an insult as unpardonable as it happened to be just-historically?

The members of the club in several groups rushed down Walnut Street, then into the adjoining streets, and then all over the neighborhood. They woke up the householders;they compelled them to search their houses, prepared to indemnify them later on for the outrage on their privacy.Vain were all their trouble and searching.Robur was nowhere to be found;there was on trace of him.He might have gone off in the“Go-Ahead,”the balloon of the Institute, for all they could tell.After an hour's hunt the members had to give in and separate, not before they had agreed to extend their search over the whole territory of the twin Americas that form the new continent.

By eleven o'clock quiet had been restored in the neighborhood of Walnut Street. Philadelphia was able to sink again into that sound sleep which is the privilege of non-manufacturing towns.The different members of the club parted to seek their respective houses.To mention the most distinguished amongst them, William T.Forbes sought his large sugar establishment, where Miss Doll and Miss Mat had prepared for him his evening tea, sweetened with his own glucose.Truck Milnor took the road to his factory in the distant suburb, where the engines worked day and night.Treasurer Jim Chip, publicly accused of possessing an alimentary canal twelve, inches longer than that of other men, returned to the vegetable soup that was waiting for him.

Two of the most important balloonists-two only-did not seem to think of returning so soon to their domicile. They availed themselves of the opportunity to discuss the question with more than usual acrimony.These were the irreconcilables, Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans, the president and secretary of the Weldon Institute.

At the door of the club the valet Frycollin waited for Uncle Prudent, his master, and at last he went after him, though he cared but little for the subject which had set the two colleagues at loggerheads.

It is only an euphemism'that the verb“discuss”can be used to express the way in which the duet between the president and secretary was being performed. As a matter of fact they were in full wrangle with an energy born of their old rivalry.

“No, Sir, no,”said Phil Evans.“If I had had the honor of being president of the Weldon Institute, there never, no, never, would have been such a scandal.”

“And what would you have done, if you had had the honor?”demanded Uncle Prudent.

“I would have stopped the insulter before he had opened his mouth.”

“It seems to me it would have been impossible to stop him until he had opened his mouth,”replied Uncle Prudent.

“Not in America, Sir;not in America.”

And exchanging such observations, increasing in bitterness as they went, they walked on through the streets farther and farther from their homes, until they reached a part of the city whence they had to go a long way round to get back.

Frycollin followed, by no means at ease to see his master plunging into such deserted spots. He did not like deserted spots, particularly after midnight, in fact the darkness was profound, and the moon was only a thin crescent just beginning its monthly life.Frycollin kept a lookout to the left and right of him to see if he was followed.And he fancied he could see five or six hulkingfollows dogging his footsteps.Instinctively he drew nearer to his master, but not for the world would be have dared to break in on the conversation of which the fragments reached him.

In short it so chanced that the president and secretary of the Weldon Institute found them selves on the road to Fairmount Park. In the full heat of their dispute they crossed the SchuylIkill river by the famous iron bridge.They met only a few belated wayfarers, and pressed on across a wide open tract where the immense prairie was broken every now and then by the patches of thick woodland-which make the park different to any other in the world.

There Frycollin's terror became acute, particularly as he saw the five or six shadows gliding after him across the Schuyllkill bridge. The pupils of his eyes broadened out to the circumference of his iris, and his limbs seemed to diminish as if endowed with the contractility peculiar to the mollusca and certain of the articulate;for FrycoUin, the valet, was an egregious coward.

He was a pure South Carolina Negro, with the head of a fool and the carcass of an imbecille. Being only one and twenty, he had never been a slave, not even by birth, but that made no difference to him.Grinning and greedy and idle, and a magnificent poltroon, he had been the servant of Uncle Prudent for about three years.Over and over again had his master threatened to kick him out, but had kept him on for fear of doing worse.With a master ever ready to venture on the most audacious enterprises, Frycollin's cowardice had brought him many arduous trials.But he had some compensation.Very little had been said about his gluttony, aad still less about his laziness.

Ah, Valet Frycollin, if you could only have read the future!Why, oh why, Frycollin, did you not remain at Boston with the Sneffels, and not have given them up when they talked of going to Switzerland?Was not that a much more suitable place for you than this of Uncle Prudent's, where danger was daily welcomed?

But here he was, and his master had become used to his faults. He had one advantage, and that was a consideration.Although he was a Negro by birth he did not speak like a Negro, and nothing is so irritating as that hateful jar gon in which all the pronouns are possessive and all the verbs infinitive.Let it be understood, then, that Frycollin was a thorough coward.

And now it was midnight, and the pale crescent of the moon began to sink in the west be hind the trees in the park. The rays streaming fitfully through the branches made the shadows darker than ever.Frycollin looked around him anxiously.“Brrr!”he said,“There are those fellows there all the time.Positively they are getting nearer!Master Uncle!”he shouted.

It was thus he called the president of the Weldon Institute, and thus did the president desire to be called.

At the moment the dispute of the rivals had reached its maximum, and as they hurled their epithets at each other they walked faster and faster, and drew farther and farther away from the Schuyllkill bridge. They had reached the center of a wide clump of trees, whose summits were just tipped by the parting rays of the moon.Beyond the trees was a very large cleating-an oval field, a complete amphitheater.Not a hillock was there to hinder the gallop of the horses, not a bush to stop the view of the Spectators.

And if Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans had not been so deep in their dispute, and had used their eyes as they were accustomed to, they would have found the clearing was not in its usual state. Was it a flour will that had anchored on it during the night?It looked like it, with its wings and sails-motionless and mysterious in the gathering gloom.

But neither the president nor the secretary of the Weldon Institute noticed the strange modification in the landscape of Fairmount Park;and neither did Frycollin. It seemed to him that the thieves were approaching, and preparing for their atack;and he was seized with convulsive fear, paralyzed in his limbs, with every hair he could boast of on the bristle.His terror was extreme.His knees bent under him, but he had just strength enough to exclaim for.the last time,“Master Uncle!Master Uncle!”

“What is the matter with you?”asked Uncle Prudent.

Perhaps the disputants would not have been sorry to have relieved their fury at the expense of the unfortunate valet. But they had no time;and neither even had he time to answer.

A whistle was heard. A flash of electric light shot across the clearing.

A signal, doubtless?The moment had come for the deed of violence. In less time that it takes to tell, six men came leaping across from under the trees, two onto Uncle Prudent, two onto Phil Evans, two onto Frycollin-there was no need for the last two, for the Negro was incapable of defending himself.The president and secretary of the Weldon Institute, although taken by surprise, would have resisted.

They had neither time nor strength to do so. In a second they were rendered speechless by a gag, blind by a bandage, thrown down, pinioned and carried bodily off across the clearing.What could they think except that they had fallen into the hands of people who intended to rob them?The people did nothing of the sort, however.They did not even touch Uncle Prudent's pockets, although, according to his custom, they were full of paper dollars.

Within a minute of the attack, without a word being passed, Uncle Prudent, Phil Evans, and Frycollin felt themselves laid gently down, not on the grass, but on a sort of plank that creaked beneath them. They were laid down side by side.

A door was shut;and the grating of a bolt in a staple told them that they were prisoners.

Then there came a continuous buzzing, a quivering, a frrrr, with the rrr unending.

And that was the only sound that broke the quiet of the night.

Great was the excitement next morning in Philadelphia Very early was it known what had passed at the meeting of the Institute. Everyone knew of the appearance of the mysterious engineer named Robur-Robur the Conqueror-and the tumult among the balloonists, and his inexplicable disappearance.But it was quite another thing when all the town heard that the president and secretary of the club had also disappeared during the night.

Long and keen was the search in the city and neighborhood!Useless!The newspapers of Philadelphia, the newspapers of Pennsylvania, the newspapers of the United States reported the facts and explained them in a hundred ways, not one of which was the right one. Heavy rewards were offered, and placards were pasted up, but all to no purpose.The earth seemed to have opened and bodily swallowed the president and secretary of the Weldon Institute.第六章 主席和秘书暂时搁置敌视 Chapter6 The Presidentand Secretary Suspend Hostilities导读

主席和秘书及仆人的处境非常糟糕,一个小时里一直没人理他们。后来,菲尔埃文斯将手腕上的绳索弄松,使手解放出来,又去掉了蒙在眼上、堵在嘴里的东西;他看到漆黑的屋内六尺高处有一个小洞透着光,接着掏出小刀将捆在身上的绳子弄断,随后又将捆住普鲁登特大叔的绳子割断,二人此时已不是对头,他们要齐心协力给绑架他们的人以严厉的惩罚,这个人就是罗比尔。

他们两个感到,他们只是在两分钟内被放到了公园中的某间房子,并没有出公园。他们在门上寻找缝隙,但门封得很严,只有挖洞才能出去。菲尔埃文斯用刀子在墙上挖洞,可刀尖挖断,刀刃磨成了锯齿状也没一点儿进展。这墙好像既不是铁做的也不是木头做的,主席用刀试了试,这墙壁就像是用水晶制作的那样坚固。

这时,他们看到弗莱科林难受的样子,主席用刀割断了捆他的绳索,并告诉他,现在困在这里有可能饿死,警告他不要太引人注目,否则就把他吃了。吓得他也不敢吭声了。

普鲁登特大叔用脚去踢墙但辨别不出是什么材料,去踢地板,觉得下面是空的。菲尔·埃文斯感到他们在移动,因为现在闻不到公园里树脂的味道了。

这时,天色已亮,从窗子照进的阳光看,应该是早晨四点,可普鲁登特大叔的表只是两点三刻。于是他让弗莱科林背靠在窗下的墙上,让秘书站上去朝外看,但什么也没看到。他想用刀子把玻璃敲碎,可怎么敲这玻璃也不碎。

这时,房门打开了,罗比尔进来了,欢迎他们在“信天翁号”上自由参观,他们现在处在距地面四千英尺的上空。

bandage over the eyes, a gag in the mouth, a cord round the

wrists, a cord round the ankles, unable to see, to speak, or to A

move, Uncle Prudent, Phil Evans, and Frycollin were anything but pleased with their position. Knowing not who had seized them, nor in what they had been thrown like parcels in a goods wagon, nor where they were, nor what was reserved for them-it was enough to exasperate even the most patient of the ovine race, and we know that the members of the Weldon Institute were not precisely sheep as far as patience went.With his violence of character we can easily imagine how Uncle Prudent felt.One thing was evident, that Phil Evans and he would find it difficult to attend the club next evening.

As to Frycollin, with his eyes shut and his mouth closed, it was impossible for him to I think of anything. He was more dead than alive.

For an hour the position of the prisoners remained unchanged. No one came to visit, them, or to give them that liberty of movement and speech of which they lay in such need.They were reduced to stifled sighs, to grunts emitted over and under their gags, to everything that betrayed anger kept dumb and fury imprisoned, or rather bound down.Then after many fruitless efforts they remained for some time as though lifeless.Then as the sense of sight was denied them they tried by their sense of heating to obtain some indication of the nature of this disquieting state of things.But in vain did they seek for any other sound than an interminable and inexplicable f-r-r-r which seemed to envelop them in a quivering atmosphere.

At last something happened. Phil Evans, regaining his coolness, managed to slacken the cord which bound his wrists.Little by little the knot slipped, hisfingers slipped over each other, and his hands regained their usual freedom.

A vigorous rubbing restored the circulation. A moment after he had slipped off the bandage which bound his eyes, taken the gag out of his mouth, and cut the cords round his ankles with his knife.An American who has not a bowieknife in his pocket is no longer an American.

But if Phil Evans had regained the power of moving and speaking, that was all. His eyes were useless to him-at present at any rate.The prison was quite dark, though about six feet above him a feeble gleam of light came in through a kind of loophole.

As may be imagined, Phil Evans did not hesitate to at once set free his rival. A few cuts with the bowie settled the knots which bound him foot and hand.

Immediately Uncle Prudent rose to his knees and snatched away his bandage and gag.

“Thanks,”said he, in stifled voice.

“Phil Evans?”

“Uncle Prudent?”

“Here we are no longer the president and secretary of the Weldon Institute. We are adversaries no more.”

“You are right,”answered Evans.“We are now only two men agreed to avenge ourselves on a third whose attempt deserves severe reprisals. And this third is-”

“Robur!”

“It is Robur!”

On this point both were absolutely in accord On this subject there was no fear of dispute.

“And your servant?”said Phil Evans, pointing to Frycollin, who was puffing like a grampus.“We must set him free.”

“Not yet,”said Uncle Prudent.“He would overwhelm us with his jeremiads, and we have something else to do than abuse each other.”

“What is that, Uncle Prudent?”

“To save ourselves if possible.”

“You are right, even if it is impossible.”

“And even if it is impossible.”

There could be no doubt that this kidnapping was due to Robur, for an ordinary thief would have relieved them of their watches, jewelry, and purses, and thrown their bodies into the Schuyllkill with a good gash in their throats instead of throwing them to the bottom of-Of what?That was a serious question, which would have to be answered before attempting an escape with any chance of success.

“Phil Evans,”began Uncle Prudent,“if, when we came away from our meeting, instead of indulging in amenities to which we need not recur, we had kept our eyes more open, this would not have happened. Had we remained in the streets of Philadelphia there would have been none of this.Evidently Robur foresaw what would happen at the club, and had placed some of his bandits on guard at the door.When we left Walnut Street these fellows must have watched us and followed us, and when we imprudentiy ventured into Fairmount Park they went in for their little game.”

“Agreed,”said Evans.“We were wrong not to go straight home.”

“It is always wrong not to be right,”said Prudent.

Here a long-drawn sigh escaped from the darkest corner of the prison.

“What is that?”asked Evans.

“Nothing!Frycollin is dreaming.”

“Between the moment we were seized a few steps out into the clearing and the moment we were thrown in here only two minutes elapsed. It is thus evident that those people did not take us out of Fairmount Park.”

“And if they had done so we should have felt we were being moved.”

“Undoubtedly;and consequently we must be in some vehicle, perhaps somo of those long prairie wagons, or some show-caravan-”

“Evidently!For if we were in a boat moored on the Schuyllkill we should have noticed the movement due to the current-”

“That is so;and as we are still in the clearing, I think that now is the time to get away, and we can return later to settle with this Robur-”

“And make him pay for this attempt on the liberty of two citizens of the United States.”

“And he shall pay pretty dearly!”

“But who is this man?Where does he come from?Is he English, or German, or French-”

“He is a scoundrel, that is enough!”said Uncle Prudent.“Now to work.”And then the two men, with their hands stretched out and their fingers wide apart, began to feel round the walls to find a joint or crack.

Nothing. Nothing;not even at the door.It was closely shut and it was impossible to shoot back the lock.All that could be done was to make a hole, and escape through the hole.It remained to be seen if the knives could cut into the walls.

“But whence comes this never-ending rustling?”asked Evans, who was much impressed at the continuous f-r-r-r.

“The wind, doubtless,”said Uncle Prudent.

“The wind!But I thought the night was quite calm.”

“So it was. But if it isn't the wind, what can it be?”

Phil Evans got out the best blade of his knife and set to work on the wall near the door. Perhaps he might make a hole which would enable him to open it from the outside should it be only bolted or should the key have been left in the lock.He worked away for some minutes.The only result was to nip up his knife, to snip off its point, and transform what was left of the blade into a saw.

“Doesn't it cut?”asked Uncle Prudent.

“No.”

“Is the wall made of sheet iron?”

“No;it gives no metallic sound when you hit it.”

“Is it of ironwood?”

“No;it isn't iron and it isn't wood.”

“What is it then?”

“Impossible to say. But, anyhow, steel doesn't touch it.”Uncle Prudent, in a sudden outburst of fury, began to rave and stamp on the sonorous planks, while his hands sought to strangle an imaginary Robur.

“Be calm, Prudent, he calm!You have a try.”

Uncle Prudent had a try, but the bowie-knife could do nothing against a wall which its best blades could not even scratch. The wall seemed to be made of crystal.

So it became evident that all flight was impracticable except through the door, and for a time they must resign themselves to their fatenot a very pleasant thing for the Yankee temperament, and very much to the disgust of these eminently practical men. But this conclusion was not arrived at without many objurgations and loud-sounding phrases hurled at this Robur-who, from what had been seen of him at the Weldon Institute, was not the sort of man to trouble himself much about them.

Suddenly Frycollin began to give unequivocal signs of being unwell. He began to writhe in a most lamentable fashion, either with cramp in his stomach or in his limbs;and Uncle Prudent, thinking it his duty to put an end to these gymnastics, cut the cords that bound him.

He had cause to be sorry for it. Immediately there was poured forth an interminable litany, in which the terrors of fear were mingled with the tortures of hunger.Frycollin was no worse in his brain than in his stomach, and it would have been difficult to decide to which organ the chief cause of the trouble should be assigned.

“Frycollin!”said Uncle Prudent.

“Master Uncle!Master Uncle!”answered theNegro between two of his lugubrious howls.

“It is possible that we are doomed to die of hunger in this prison, but we have made up our minds not to succumb until we have availed ourselves of every means of alimentation to prolong our lives,”

“To eat me?”exclaimed Frycollin.

“As is always done with a Negro under such circumstances!So you had better not make yourself too obvious-”

“Or you'll have your bones picked!”said Evans.

And as Frycollin saw he might be used to prolong two existences more precious than his own, he contented himself thenceforth withi groaning in quiet.

The time went on and all attempts to force the door or get through the wall proved fruitless. What the wall was made of was impossible to say.It was not metal;it was not wood;it was not stone, And all the cell seemed to be made of the same stuff.When they stamped on the floor it gave a peculiar sound thatUncle Prudent found it difficult to describe;the floor seemed to sound hollow, as if it was not resting directly on the ground of the clearing.And the inexplicable f-r-r-r-r seemed to sweep along below it.All of which was rather alarming.

“Uncle Prudent,”said Phil Evans.

“Well?”

“Do you think our prison has been moved at all?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Because when we were first caught I dis tinctly remember the fresh fragrance of the grass and the resinous odor of the park trees. While now, when I take in a good sniff of the air, it seems as though all that had gone.”

“So it has.”

“Why?”

“We cannot say why unless we admit that the prison has moved;and I say again that if the prison had moved, either as a vehicle on the road or a boat on the stream, we should have felt it.”

Here Frycollin gave vent to a long groan, which might have been taken for his last had he not followed it up with several more.

“I expect Robur will soon have us brought before him,”said Phil Evans.

“I hope so,”said Uncle Prudent.“And I shail tell him-”

“What?”

“That he began by being rude and ended in being unbearable.”

Here Phil Evans noticed that day was beginning to break. A gleam, still faint, filtered through the narrow window opposite the door.It ought thus to be about four o'clock in the morning for it is at that hour in the month of June in this latitude that the horizon of Philadelphia is tinged by the first rays of the dawn.

But when Uncle Prudent sounded his repeater-which was a masterpiece from his coileague's factory-the tiny gong only gave a quarter to three, and the watch had not stopped.

“That is strange!”said Phil Evans.“At a quarter to three it ought still to be night”.

“Perhaps my watch has got slow,”answered Uncle Prudent.

“A watch of the Wheelton Watch Company!”exclaimed Phil Evans.

Whatever might be the reason, there was no doubt that the day was breaking. Gradually the window became white in the deep darkness of the cell.However, if the dawn appeared sooner than the fortieth parallel permitted, it did not advance with the rapidity peculiar to lower latitudes.This was another observation-of Uncle Prudent's-a new inexplicable phenomenon.

“Couldn't we get up to the window and see where we are?”

“We might,”said Uncle Prudent.“Frycollin, get up!”

The Negro arose.

“Put your back against the wall,”continued Prudent,“and you, Evans, get on his shoulders while I buttress him up.”

“Right!”said Evans.

An instant afterwards his knees were on Frycollin's shoulders, and his eyes were level with the window. The window was not of lenticular glass like those on shipboard, but was a simple flat pane.It was small, and Phil Evans found his range of view was much limited.

“Break the glass,”said Prudent,“and perhaps you will be able to see better.”

Phil Evans gave it a sharp knock with the handle of his bowie-knife. It gave back a silvery sound, but it did not break.

Another and more violent blow. The same result.

“It is unbreakable glass!”said Evans.

It appeared as though the pane was made of glass toughened on the Siemens system-as after several blows it remained intact.

The light had now increased, and Phil Evans could see for some distance within the radius allowed by the frame.

“What do you see?”asked Uncle Prudent.

“Nothing.”

“What?Not any trees?”

“No.”

“Not even the top branches?”

“No.”‘Then we are not in the clearing?”

“Neither in the clearing nor in the park.”

“Don't you see any roofs of houses or monuments?”said Prudent, whose disappointment and anger were increasing rapidly.

“No.”

“What!Not a flagstaff, nor a church tower, nor a chimney?”

“Nothing but space.”

As he uttered the words the door opened. A man appeared on the threshold.It was Robur.

“Honorable balloonists”he saad, in a serious voice,“you are now free to go and come as you like.”

“Free!”exclaimed Uncle Prudent.

“Yeswithin the limits of the‘Albatross!'”

Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans rushed out of their prison. And what did they see?

Four thousand feet below them the face of a coutry they sought in vain to recognize.第七章 在“信天翁号”飞行器上 Chapter7 On Board the Albatross导读

罗比尔非常尊重“比空气重”的主张,他改进了很多人的成果,最终使他的“信天翁号”飞上了蓝天。

罗比尔工程师的飞行装置由平台、升降推进装置、机器间组成,平台长三十米、宽四米,上面设有三个舱楼,用作休息室或当作机器房。储藏室、厨房和操作人员在平台前部的第一舱楼,工程师的房间、餐厅在尾部,下部装有软簧装置,着陆时起到缓冲作用。

提升装置和推进装置由三十七根垂直的轴和一对水平的螺旋桨组成,每根轴都是独立运动,螺旋桨的直径和螺距很短,但速度惊人。

飞行器的动力来源是电,它不用发电机而是用蓄电池,这是罗比尔的秘密。它能使飞行器在任何情况下都能为其提升或推进获得足够的能源。

飞行器所用的坚硬的材料是纸,它是将无胶纸用淀粉和糊精浸过再用水压机制成的,它不易燃烧,绝缘性能又好,因此被应用在“信天翁号”上。

飞行器上有罗比尔工程师、工头汤·姆特纳、一名机械师和两个助手,还有两个舵手和一名厨师,共八个人;上面配有武器、渔具、电灯和观测设备,还有一门三英寸口径的大炮,有电加热的灶具,贮藏了可供食用几个月的粮食,另外还有一支铜号。

飞行器上没有降落伞,他们相信“信天翁号”是不会出事故的,即使一部分螺旋桨停止工作,只要另外的继续转动,还可使“信天翁号”照常飞行。

有了这架飞行器,罗比尔自信自己就是世界第七大洲的主人。hen will man cease to crawl in the depths to live in the azure andquiet of the sky?”“W

To this question of Camille Flammarion's the answer is easy. It will be when the progress of mechanics has enabled us to solve the problem of aviation.And in a few years-as we can foresee-a more practical utilization of electricity will do much towards that solution.

In 1783,before the Montgolfier brothers had built their fire-balloon, and Charles, the physician, had devised his first aerostat, a few adventurous spirits had dreamt of the conquest of space by mechanical means. The first inventors did not think of apparatus lighter than air, for that the science of their time did not allow them to imagine.It was to contrivances heavier than air, to flying machines in imitation of the birds, that they trusted to realize aerial locomotion.

This was exactly what had been done by that madman lcarns, the son of Daedalus, whose wings, fixed together with wax, had melted as they approached the sun.

But without going back to mythological times, without dwelling on Archytas of Tarenturn, we find, in the works of Dante of Perugia, of Leonardo da Vinci and Guidotti, the idea of machines made to move through the air. Two centuries and a half afterwards inventors began to multiply.In 1742 the Marquis de Bacqueville designed a system of wings, tried it over the Seine, and fell and broke his arm.In 1768 Pancton conceived the idea of an apparatus with two screws, suspensive and propulsive.In 1781 Meerwein, the architect of the Prince of Baden, built an orthopteric machine, and protested against the tendency of the aerostats which had just been invented.In 1784 Lannoy and Bienvenu had maneuvered a helicopter worked by springs.In 1808 there were the attempts at flight by the Austrian Jacques Degen.In 1810 came the pamphlet by Denian of Nantes, in which the principles of“heavier than air”are laid down.From 1811 to 1840 came the inventions and researches ofDerblinger, Vigual, Sarti, Dubochet, and Cagniard de Latour.In 1842 we have the Englishman Henson, with his system of inclined planes and screws worked by steam.In 1845 came Cossus and his ascensional screws.In 1847 came Camille Vert and his helicopter made of birds'wings, in 1852 came Letur with his system of guidable parachutes, whose trial cost him his life;and in the same year came Michel Loup with his plan of gliding through the air on four revolving wings.In 1853 came Be21e2guic and his aeroplane with the traction screws, Vaussin-Chardannes with his guidable kite, and George Cauley with his flying machines driven by gas.

From 1854 to 1863 appeared Joseph Pline with several patents for aerial systems, Breant, Carlingford, Le Bris, Du Temple, Bright, whose aseensional screws were left-handed;Smythies, Panafieu, Crosnier,&c. At length, in 1863,thanks to the efforts of Nadar, a society of“heavier than air”was founded in Paris.There the inventors could experiment with the machines, of which many were patented.Ponton d'Amecourt and his steam helicopter, La Landelle and his system of combining screws with inclined planes and parachutes, Louvrie and his aeroscape, Esterno and his mechanical bird, Groof and his apparatus with wings worked by levers.The impetus was given, inventors invented, calculators calculated all that could render aerial locomotion practicable.Bourcart, Le Bris, Kaufmann, Smyth, Stringfellow, Prigent, Danjard, Pomes and De la Pauze, Moy, Penaud, Jobert, Haureau de Villeneuve, Achenbach, Garapon, Duchesne, Danduran, Pariesel, Dieuaide, Melkiseff, Forlanini, Bearey, Tatin, Dandrieux, Edison, some with wings or screws, others with inclined planes, imagined, created, constructed, perfected, their flying machines, ready to do their work, once there came to be applied to thereby some inventor a motor of adequate power and excessive lightness.

This list may be a little long, but that will be forgiven, for it is necessary to give the various steps in the ladder of aerial locomotion, on the top of which appeared Robur the Conqueror. Without these attempts, these experiments of his predecessors, how could the inquirer have conceived so perfect an apparatus?And though he had but contempt for those who obstinately worked away in the direction of balloons, he held in high esteem all those partisans of“heavier than air,”English, American, Italian, Austrian, French-and particularly French-whose work had been perfected by him, and led him to design and then to build this flying engine known as the“Albatross,”which he was guiding through the currents of the atmosphere.

“The pigeon flies!”had exclaimed one of the most persistent adepts at aviation.

“They will crowd the air as they crowd the earth!”said one of his most excited partisans.

“From the locomotive to the aeromotive!”shouted the noisiest of all, who had turned on the trumpet of publicity to awaken the Old and New Worlds.

Nothing, in fact, is better established, byi experiment and calculation, than that the air is highly resistant. A circumference of only a yard in diameter in the shape of a parachute can not only impede descent in air, but can render it isochronous, That is a fact.

It is equally well known that when the speed is great the work of the weight varies in almost inverse ratio to the square of the speed, and therefore becomes almost insignificant.

It is also known that as the weight of a flying animal increase, the less is the proportional increase in the surface beaten by the-wings in order to sustain it, although the motion of the wings becomes slower.

A flying machine must therefore be constructed to take advantage of these natural laws, to imitate the bird,“that admirable type of aerial locomotion,”according to Dr. Marcy, of the Institute of France.

In short the contrivances likely to solve the problem are of three kinds:—

1.Helicopters or spiralifers, which are simply screws with vertical axes.

2.Ornithopters, machines which endeavour to reproduce the natural flightof birds.

3.Aeroplanes, which are merely inclined planes like kites, but towed or driven by screws.

Each of these systems has had and still has it partisans obstinately resolved to give way in not the slightest particular. However, Robur, for many reasons, had rejected the two first.

The ornithopter, or mechanical bird, offers certain advantages, no doubt. That the work and experiments of M.Renard in 1884 have sufficiently proved.But, as has been said, it is not necessary to copy Nature servilely.Locomotives are not copied from the hare, nor are ships copied from the fish.To the first we have put wheels which are not legs;to the second we have put screws which are not fins.And they do not do so badly.Besides, what is this mechanical movement in the flight of birds, whose action is so complex?Has not Doctor Marcy suspected that the feathers open during the return of the wings so as to let the air through them?And is not that rather a difficult operation for an artificial machine?

On the other hand, aeroplanes have given many good results. Screws opposing a slanting plane to the bed of air will produce an ascensional movement, and the models experimented on have shown that the disposable weight, that is to say the weight it is possible to deal with as distinct from that of the apparatus, increases with the square of the speed.Herein the aeroplane has the advantage over the aerostat even when the aerostat is furnished with the means of locomotion.

Nevertheless Robur had thought that the simpler his contrivance the better. And the screws-the Saint Helices that had been thrown in his teeth at the Weldon Institute-had sufficed for all the needs of his flying machine.One series could hold it suspended in the air, the other could drive it along under conditions that were marvelously adapted for speed and safety.

If the ornithopter-striking like the wings of a bird-raised itself by beating the air, the helicopter raised itself by striking the air obliquely, with the fins of the screw as it mounted on an inclined plane. These fins, or arms, are inreality wings, but wings disposed as a helix instead of as a paddle wheel.The helix advances in the direction of its axis.Is the axis vertical?Then it moves vertically, ls the axis horizontal?Then it moves horizontally.

The whole of Robur's flying apparatus depended on these two movements, as will be seen from the following detailed description, which can be divided under three heads-the platform, the engines of suspension and propulsion, and the machinery.

Platform.-This was a framework a hundred feet long and twelve wide, a ship's deck in fact, with a projecting prow. Beneath was a hull solidly built, enclosing the engines, stores, and provisions of all sorts, including the watertanks. Round the deck a few light uprights supported a wire trellis that did duty for bulwarks.On the deck were three houses, whose compartments were used as cabins for the crew, or as machine rooms.In the center house was the machine which drove the suspensory helices, in that forward was the machine that drove the bow screw, in that aft was the machine that drove the stem screw.In the bow were the cook's galley and the crew's quarters;in the stem were several cabins, including that of the engineer, the saloon, and above them all a glass house in which stood the helmsman, who steered the vessel by means of a powerful redder.All these cabins were lighted by port-holes filled with toughened glass, which has ten times the resistance of ordinary glass.Beneath the hull was a system of flexible springs to ease off the concussion when it became advisable to land.

Engines of suspension and propulsion. Above the deck rose thirty-seven vertical axes, fifteen along each side, and seven, more elevated, in the centre.The“Albatross”might be called a clipper with thirty-seven masts.But these masts instead of sails bore each two horizontal screws, not very large in spread or diameter, but driven at prodigious speed.Each of these axes had its own movement independent of the rest, and each alternate one spun round in a different direction from the others, so as to avoid any tendency to gyration.Hence the screws as they rose on the vertical column of air retained their equilibrium by their horizontal resistance.Consequently the apparatus was furnished with seventy-four suspensory screws, whose three branches were connected by a metallic circle which economized their motive force.In front and behind, mounted on horizontal axes, were two propelling screws, each with four arms.These screws were of much larger diameter than the suspensory ones, but could be worked at quite their speed.In fact, the vessel combined the systems of Cossus, La Landelle, and Ponton d'Ame2court, as perfected by Robur.But it was in the choice and application of his motive force that he could claim to be an inventor.

Machinery.-Robur had not availed himseif of the vapor of water or other liquids, nor compressed air and other mechanical motion. He employed electricity, that agent which one day will be the soul of the industrial world.But he required no electro-motor to produce it.All he trusted to was piles and accu-mulators.What were the elements of these piles, and what were the acids he used, Robur only knew.And the construction of the accumulators was kept equally secret.Of what were their positive and negative plates?None can say.The engineer took good care-and not unreasonably-to keep his secret unpatented.One thing was unmistakable, and that was that the piles were of extraordinary strength;and the accumulators left those of Faure-Sellon-Volckmar very far behihd in yielding currents whose ampe4res ran into figures up to then unknown.Thus there was obtained a power to drive the screws and communicate a suspending and propelling force in excess of all his requirements under any circumstances.

But-it is as well to repeat it-this belonged entirely to Robur. He kept it a close secret.And, if the president and secretary of the Weldon Institute did not happen to discover it, it would probably be lost to humanity.

It need not be shown that the apparatus possessed sufficient stability. Its center of gravity proved that at once.There was no danger of its making alarming angles with the horizontal, still less of its capsizing.

And now for the metal used by Robur in the construction of his aeronef-a name which can be exactly applied to the“Albatross.”What was this material, so hard that the bowie-knife of Phil Evans could not scratch it, and Uncle Prudent could not explain its nature?Simply paper!

For some years this fabrication had been making considerable progress. Unsized paper, with the sheets impregnated with dextrin and starch and squeezed in hydraulic presses, will form a material as hard as steel.There are made of it pulleys, rails, and wagon-wheels, much more solid than metal wheels, and far lighter.And it was this lightness and solidity which Robur availed himself of in building his aerial locomotive.Every-thing-framework, huff, homes, cabins—were made of straw-paper turned hard as metal by compression, andwhat was not to be despised in an apparatus flying at great heights-incombustible.The different parts of the engines and the screws were made of gelatinized fiber, which combined in sufficient degree flexibility with resistance.This material could be used in every form.It was insoluble in most gases, and liquids, acids or essences, to say nothig of its insulating properties, and it proved most valuable in the electric machinery of the“Albatross.”

Robur, his mate Tom Turner, an engineer and two assistams, two steersman and a cookeight men all told-formed the crew of the aeronef, and proved ample for all the maneuvers required in aerial navigation. There were arms of the chase and of war;fishing appliances;electric lights;instruments of observation, compasses, and sextants for checking the course, thermometers for studying the temperature, different barometers, some for estimating the heights attained, others for indicating the variations of atmospheric pressure;a stormglass for forecasting tempests;a small library;a portable printing press;a field-piece mounted on a pivot;breech loading and throwing a three-inch shell;a supply of powder, bullets, dynamite cartridges;a cooking-stove, warmed by currents from the accumulators;a stock of preserves, meats and vegetables sufficient to last for months.Such were the outfit and stores of the aeronef-in addition to the famous trumpet.

There was besides a light india-robber boat, insubmersible, which could carry eight men on the surface of a river, a lake, or a calm sea.

But were there an parachutes in case of accident?No. Robur did not believe in accidents of that kind.The axes of the screws were independent.The stoppage of a few would not affect the motion of the others;and if only half were working, the“Albatross”could still keep afloat in her natural element.

“And with her,”said Robur to his guestsguests in spite of themselves-“I am master of the seventh part of the word, larger than Africa, Oceania, Asia, America, and Europe, this aerial Icarian sea, which millions of lcarians will one day people.”第八章 气球主义者拒绝臣服 Chapter8 The Balloonists Refuse to be Convinced导读

普鲁登特大叔和菲尔·埃文斯感到十分惊异,但这种心情没有流露出来,弗莱科林看到此情景,恐惧的心情无法掩饰。主席和秘书探身朝下面望去,很想知道现在在什么地方,罗比尔告诉他们现正在飞越大气层,而他们必须配合,他们可以随便参观飞行器的设备和构造。

菲尔·埃文斯看着下面的城市,告诉普鲁登特大叔,他们现在是处于加拿大中部的上空。这时,飞行器飞过了这座城市的上空,进入了云端。

罗比尔将他们带到餐厅,餐桌上摆满了各种罐头饭菜和糕点,还有火腿和茶水。弗莱科林在前甲板上用餐。一小时后,普鲁登特和菲尔来到甲板上的玻璃窗舱里,舵手正在按航线操作飞行,其余的人都在用餐,只有一位技师在巡视着。这时,菲尔发现到了蒙特利尔的上空,他计算着飞行速度,最少有每小时七十五英里,此后,他们又飞过了渥太华。

大概两点时,罗比尔在工头汤姆的陪同下,来到了他们的面前,罗比尔向工头说了三个字,工头传给了“信天翁号”上前后两个助手,飞行器便向东南方向飞去。普鲁登特和菲尔明显感到速度加快了,实际上飞行器的速度比地面上的任何交通工具都快,它的速度可达到每小时一百二十英里,八天就绕地球一圈。

原来,罗比尔不想让人认出来,所以一般在夜间航行,现在他不想保守秘密了。他来到韦尔登的学会,就是要展示自己的发明,但受到了攻击,所以他用这种方法来报复学会的主席和秘书,罗比尔告诉他们,他的飞行器能承受住更高的速度,飞行器使用的推进器就是螺旋桨,这是气球以及其他比空气轻的设备所做不到的,罗比尔还告诉他们,这个飞行器还有垂直向上的能力。

他们的“前进号”不能和“信天翁号”比,他们两位没有搭话,罗比尔做了个手势,飞行器在惯性作用下飞了一英里后,垂直升到了八千七百英尺的高度,随后又恢复到原来的高度,然后继续飞行。这时,普鲁登特和菲尔来问罗比尔,有什么权力绑架他们,并把他们带上飞行器。罗比尔告诉他们,这就是强者的权力,因为他受到了他们学会的侮辱和攻击,普鲁登特问罗比尔,想让他们在上面待多长时间,工程师没有回答他的问题,而是让他们欣赏下面的安大略湖。随后他们又到了尼亚加拉大瀑布,一分钟后,飞行器到了西部大陆上空。he President of the Weldon Institute was stupefied;his companionwas astonished. But neither of them would allow any of Ttheir very natural amazement to be visible.

The valet Frycollin did not conceal his terror at finding himself borne through space on such a machine, and he took no pains whatever to hide it.

The suspensory screws were rapidly spinning overhead. Fast as they were going, they would have to triple their speed if the“Albatross”was to ascend to higher zones.The two propellers were running very easily and driving the ship at about eleven knots an hour.

As they leaned over the rail the passengers of the“Albatross”could perceive a long sinuous liquid ribbon which meandered like a mere brook through a varied country amid the gleaming of many lagoons obliquely struck by the rays of the sun. The brook was a river, one of the most important in that district.Along its left bank was a chain of mountains extending out of sight.

“And will you tell us where we are?”asked Uncle Prudent, in a voice tremulous with anger.

“I have nothing to teach you,”answered Robur.

“And will you tell us where we are going?”asked Phil Evans.

“Through space.”

“And how long will that last?”

“Until it ends.”

“Are we going round the world?”asked Phil Evans irouically.

“Further than that,”said Robur.

“And if this voyage does not suit us?”asked Uncle Prudent.

“It will have to suit you.”

That is a foretaste of the nature of the relations that were to obtain between the master of the“Albatross”and his guests, not to say his prisoners. Manifestly he wished to give them time to cool down, to admire the marvelous apparatus which was bearing them through the air, and doubtless to compliment the inventor.And so he went off to the other end of the deck, leaving them to examine the arrangement of the machinery and the management of the ship or to give their whole attention to the landscape which was unrolling beneath them.

“Uncle Prudent,”said Evans,“unless I am mistaken we are flying over Central Canada. That river in the northwest is the St.Lawrence.That town we are leaving behind is Quebec.”

It was indeed the old city of Champlain, whose zinc roofs were shining like reflectors in the sun. The“Albatross”must thus have reached the forty-sixth degree of north latitude, and thus was explained the premature advance of the day with the abnormal prolongation of the dawn.

“Yes,”said Phil Evans,“There is the town in its amphitheater, the hill with its citadel, the Gibraltar of North America. There are the cathedrais.There is the Custom House with its dome surmounted by the British flag!”

Phil Evans had not finished before the Canadian city began to slip into the distance.

The clipper entered a zone of light clouds, which gradually shut off a view of the ground.

Robar, seeing that the president and secretary of the Weldon Institute had directed their attention to the external arrangements of the“Albatross,”walked up to them and said:“Well, gentlemen, do you believe in the possibility of aerial locomotion by machines heavier than air?”

It would have been difficult not to succumb to the evidence. But UnclePrudent and Phil Evans did not reply.

“You are silent,”continued the engineer.“Doubtless hunger makes you dumb!But if I undertook to carry you through the air, I did not think of feeding you on such a poorly nutritive fluid. Your first breakfast is waiting for you.”

As Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans were feeling the pangs of hunger somewhat keenly they did not care to stand upon ceremony, A meal would commit them to nothing;and when Robur put them back on the ground they could resume full liberty of action.

And so they followed into a small diningroom in the aftermost house. There they found a well-laid table at which they could take their meals during the voyage.There were different preserves;and, among other things, was a sort of bread made of equal parts of flour and meat reduced to powder and worked together with a little lard, which boiled in water made excellent soup;and there were rashers of fried ham, and for drink there was tea.

Neither had Frycollin been forgotten. He was taken forward and there found some strong soup made of this bread.In troth he had to be very hungry to eat at all, for his jaws shook with fear, and almost refused to work.“If it was to break!If it was to break!”said the unfortunate Negro.Hence continual faint-ings.Only think!A fall of over four thousand feet, which would smash him to a jelly!

An hour afterwards Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans appeared on the deck. Robur was no longer there.At the stem the man at the wheel in his glass cage, his eyes fixed on the compass, followed imperturbably without hesitation the route given by the engineer.

As for the rest of the crew, breakfast probably kept them from their posts. An assistant engineer, examining the machinery, went from one house to the other.

If the speed of the ship was great the two colleagues could only estimate it imperfectly, for the“Albatross”had passed through the cloud zone which the earth showed some four thousand feet below.

“I can hardly believe it,”said Phil Evans.

“Don't believe it!”said Uncle Prudent. And going to the bow they looked out towards the western horizon.

“Another town,”Said Phil Evans.

“Do you recognize it?”

“Yes!It seems to me to be Montreal.”

“Montreal?But we only left Quebec two hours ago!”

“That proves that we must be going at a speed of seventy-five miles an hour.”

Such was the speed of the aeronef;and if the passengers were not inconvenienced by it, it was because they were going with the wind. In a calm such speed would have been difficult and the rate would have sunk to that of an express.In a head-wind the speed would have been unbearable.

Phil Evans was not mistaken. Below the“Albatross”appeared Montreal, easily recognizable by the Victoria Bridge, a tubular bridge thrown over the St.Lawrence like the railway viaduct over the Venice lagoon.Soon they could distinguish the town's wide streets, its huge shops, its palatial bunks, its cathedral, recently built on the model of St.Peter's at Rome, and then Mount Royal, which commands the city and forms a magnificent park.

Luckily Phil Evans had visited the chief towns of Canada, and could recognize them without asking Robur. After Montreal they passed Ottawa, whose falls, seen from above, looked like a vast cauldron in ebullition, throwing off masses of steam with grand effect.

“There is the Parliament House.”

And he pointed out a sort of Nuremburg toy planted on a hill top. This toy with its polychrome architecture resembled the House of Parliament in London much as the Montreal cathedral resembles St.Peter's at Rome.But that was of no consequence;there could be no doubt it was Ottawa.

Soon the city faded off towards the horizon, and formed but a luminous spot on the ground.

It was almost two hours before Robur appeared. His mate, Tom Turner, accompanied him.He said only three words.These were transmitted to the two assistant engineers in the fore and aft engine-houses.At a sign the helmsman changed the-direction of the“Albatross”a couple of points to the southwest;at the same time Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans fet that a greater speed had been given to the propellers.

In fact, the speed had been doubled, and now surpassed anything that had ever been attained by terrestrial Engines. Torpedo-boats do their twenty-two knots an hour;railway trains do their sixty miles an hour;the ice-boats on the frozen Hudson do their sixty-five miles an hour;a machine built by the Pat-terson company, with a cogged wheel, has done its eighty miles;and another locomotive between Trenton and Jersey City has done its eighty-four.

But the“Albatross,”at full speed, could do her hundred and twenty miles an hour, or 176 feet per second. This speed is that of the storm which tears up trees by the roots.It is the mean speed of the carrier pigeon, and is only surpassed by the flight of the swallow(220 feet per second)and that of the swift(274 feet per second).

In a word, as Robur had said, the“Albatross,”by using the whole force of her screws, could make the tour of the globe in two hundred hours, or less than eight days.

Is it necessary to say so?The phenomenon whose appearance had so much puzzled the people of both worlds was the aeronef of the engineer. The trumpet which blared its startling fanfares through the air was that of the mate, Tom Turner.The flag planted on the chief monuments of Europe, Asia, America, was the flag of Robur the Conqueror and his“Albatross.”

And if up to then the engineer had taken many precautions against being recognized, if by preference he traveled at night, clearing the way with his electric lights, and during the day vanishing into the zones above the clouds, he seemed now to have no wish to keep his secret hidden. And if he had come to Philadelphia and presented himself at the meeting of the Weldon Institute, was it not that they might share in his prodigious discovery, and convince“ipso facto”the most incredulous?We know how he had been received, and we see what reprisals he had taken on the president and secretary of the club.

Again did Robur approach his prisoners, who affected to be in no way surprised at what they saw, of what had succeeded in spite of them. Evidently beneath the cranium of these two Anglo-Saxon heads there was a thick crust of obstinacy, which would not be easy to remove.

On his part, Robur did not seem to notice anything particular. and coolly continued the conversation which he had begun two hours before.

“Gentlemen,”said he,“you ask yourselves doubtless if this apparatus, so marvelously adapted for aerial locomotion, is susceptible of receiving greater speed. It is not worth while to conquer space if we cannot devour it.I wanted the air to be a solid support to me, and it is.I saw that to struggle against the wind I must be stronger than the wind, and I am.I had no need of sails to drive me, nor oars nor wheels to push me, nor rails to give me a faster road.Air is what I wanted, that was all.Air surrounds me as it surrounds the submarine boat, and in it my propellers act like the screws of a steamer.That is how I solved the problem of aviation.That is what a balloon will never do, nor will any machine that is lighter than air.”

Silence, absolute, on the part of the colleagues, which did not for a moment disconcert the engineer. He contented himself with a halfsmile, and continued in his interrogative style,“Perhaps you ask if to this power of the”Albatross”to move horizontally there is added an equal power of vertical movement-in a word, if, when, we visit the higher zones of the atmosphere, we can compete with an aerostat?Well, I should not advise you to enter the“GoAhead”against her!”

The two colleagues shrugged their shoulders. That was probably what the engineer was waiting for.

Robur made a sign. The propelling screws immediately stopped, and after running for a mile the“Albatross”pulled up motionless.

At a second gesture from Robur the suspen-sory helices revolved at a speed that can only be compared to that of a siren in acoustical experiments. Their f-r-r-r-r rose nearly an octave in the scale of sound, diminishing gradually in intensity as the air became more ratified, and the machine rose vertically, like a lark singing his song in space.

“Master!Master!”shouted Frycollin.“See that it doesn't break!”

A smile of disdain was Robur's only reply. In a few minutes the“Albatross”had attained the height of 8,700 feet, and extended the range of vision by seventy miles, the barometer having fallen 480 millimeters.

Then the“Albatross”descended. The diminution of the pressure in high altitudes leads to the diminution of oxygen in the air, and consequently in the blood.This has been the cause of several serious accidents which havehappened to aeronauts, and Robur saw no reason to run any risk.

The“Albatross”thus returned to the height she seemed to prefer, and her propellers beginning again, drove her off to the southwest.

“Now, sirs, if that is what you wanted you can reply.”Then, leaning over the rail, he remained absorbed in contemplation.

When he raised his head the president and secretary of the Weldon Institute stood by his side.

“Engineer Robur,”said Uncle Prudent, in vain endeavoring to control himself,“we have nothing to ask about what you seem to believe, but we wish to ask you a question which we think you would do well to answer.”

“Speak.”

“By what right did you attack us in Philadelphia in Fairmount Park?By what right did you shut us up in that prison?By what right have you brought us against our will on board this flying machine?”

“And by what right, Messieurs Balloonists, did you insult and threaten me in your club in such a way that I am astonishea I came out of it alive?”

“To ask is not to answer,”said Phil Evans,“and I repeat, by what right?”

“Do you wish to know?”

“If you please.”

“Well, by the right of the strongest!”

“That is cynical.”

“But it is true.”

“And for how long, citizen engineer,”asked Uncle Prudent, who was nearly exploding,“for how long do you intend to exercise that right?”

“How can you?”said Robur, ironically,“how can you ask me such a question when you have only to cast down your eyes to enjoy a spectacle unparalleled in the world?”

The“Albatross”was then sweeping across the immense expanse of Lake Ontario. She had just crossed the country so poetically described by Cooper.Then she followed the southern shore and headed for the celebrated river which pours into it the waters of Lake Erie, breaking them to powder in its cataracts.

In an instant a majestic sound, a roar as of the tempest, mounted towards them and, as if a humid fog had been projected into the air, the atmospheresensibly freshened. Below were the liquid masses.They seemed like an enormous flowing sheet of crystal amid a thousand rainbows due to refraction as it decomposed the solar rays.The sight was sublime.

Before the falls a foot-bridge, stretching like a thread, united one bank to the other. Three miles below was a suspension-bridge, across which a train was crawling from the Canadian to the American bank.

“The falls of Niagara!”exclaimed Phil Evans. And as the exclamation escaped him, Uncle Prudent was doing all could do to admire nothing of these wonders.

A minute afterwards the“Albatross”had crossed the river which separates the United States from Canada, and was flying over the vast territories of the West.第九章 穿越普拉特河 Chapter9 Across the Prairie导读

普鲁登特和菲尔发现了两个舒服的床位,并有干净的衣服,但他们睡不着,因为在担心工程师怎么处置他们。弗莱科林在飞船的前部和厨师成了邻居,这使他十分高兴。到了夜晚,四处一点声音都没有,只有螺旋桨发出的声音和地面火车的汽笛声。他们上飞船的第二天——六月十五日五点普鲁登特和菲尔在平台上散步,飞船的前部观察哨在观察,主要是防止撞到山峰上。普鲁登特和菲尔发现已经飞到一个大湖南岸了。普鲁登特在房里找到一副望远镜,清楚地看到了这座城市的主要建筑及公共设施。

晚上,飞行器继续飞行,不到两个小时,就越过了伊斯州北部的边缘,飞过了密西西比河。上午十一点,已经能隐约看到依阿华州了;“信天翁号”从密西西比河的支流及两岸稀疏的城市和村庄上空飞了过去;两小时后,又飞越了奥马哈市;一小时后,他们越过了普拉特河,看到了铁路沿着河谷向大草原延伸。普鲁登特和菲尔以为飞行器要把他们带到地球另一端,感到很愤怒,菲尔劝普鲁登特冷静一些,等待时机。五点钟时,飞行器越过了黑山;傍晚,越过了整个普拉特河流域;夜晚,他们不断听到野牛的叫声,也不时地听到狼、山猫及狐狸的叫声,最后他们还听到了红皮肤人的吼叫声。n one, of the cabins of the after-house Uncle Prudent and Phil Evanshad found two excellent berths, with clean linen, change of Iclothes, and traveling-cloaks and rugs. No Atlantic liner could have offered them more comfort.If they did not Sleep soundly it was that they did not wish to do so, or rather that their very real anxiety prevented them.In what adventure had they embarked?To what series of experiments had they been invited?How would the business end?And above all, what was Robur going to do with them?

Frycollin, the valet, was quartered forward in a cabin adjoining that of the cook. The neighborhood did not displease him;he liked to rub shoulders with the great in this world.But if he finally went to sleep it was to dream of fall after fall, of projections through space, which made his sleep a horrible nightmare.

However, nothing could be quieter than this journey through the atmosphere, whose currents had grown weaker with the evening. Beyond the rustling of the blades of the screws there was not a sound, except now and then the whistle from some terrestrial locomotive, or the calling of some animal.Strange instinct!These terrestrial beings felt the aeronef glide over them, and uttered cries of terror as it passed.On the morrow, the 14th of June, at five o'clock, Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans were walking on the deck of the“Albatross.”

Nothing had changed since the evening;there was a lookout forward, and the helmsman was in his glass cage. Why was there a look-out?Was there any chance of collision with an other such machine?Certainly not.Robur had not yet found imitators.The chance of encountering an aerostat gliding through the air was too remote to be regarded.In any case it would be all the worse for the aerostat-the earthen pot and the'iron pot.The“Albatross”had nothing to fear from the collision.

But what could happen?The aeronef might find herself like a ship on a lee shore if a mountain that could not be outflanked or passed barred the way. These are the reefs of the air, band they have to be avoided as a ship avoids the reefs of the sea.The engineer, it is true, had given the course, and in doing so had taken into account the altitude necessary to clear the summits of the high lands in the district.But as the aeronef was rapidly nearing a mountainouscountry, it was only prudent to keep a good lookout, in case some slight deviation from the course became necessary.

Looking at the country beneath them, Uncle Prudent and phil Evans noticed a large lake, whose lower southern end the“Albatross”had just reached. They concluded, therefore, that during the night the whole length of Lake Erie had been traversed, and that, as they were going due west, they would soon be over Lake Michigan.“There can be no doubt of it,”said Phil Evans,“and that group of roofs on the horizon is Chicago.”

He was right. It was indeed the city from which the seventeen railways diverge, the Queen of the West, the vast reservoir into which flow the products of Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, and all the States which form the western half of the Union.

Uncle Prudent, through an excellent telescope he had found in his cabin, easily recognized the principal buildings. His colleague pointed out to him the churches and public edifices, the numerous“elevators”or mechanicai, granaries, and the huge Sherman Hotel, whose windows seemed like a hundred glittering points on each of its faces.

“If that is Chicago,”said Uncle Prudent,“it is obvious that we are going farther west than is convenient for us if we are to return to our starting-place.”

And, in fact, the“Albatross”was traveling in a straight line from the Pennsylvania capital.

But if Uncle Prudent wished to ask Robur to take him east-wards he could not then do so. That morning the engineer did not leave his cabin.Either he was occupied in some work, or else he was asleep, and the two colleagues sat down to breakfast without seeing him.

The speed was the same as that during last evening. The wind being easterly the rate was not interfered with at all, and as the thermometer only falls a degree centigrade for every seventy meters of elevation the temperature was not insupportable.And so, in chatting and thinking and waiting for the engineer, Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans walked about beneath the forest of screws, whose gyratory movement gave their arms the appearance of semi-diaphanous disks.

The State of Illinois was left by its northern frontier in less than two hoursand a half;and they crossed the Father of Waters, the Mississippi, whose double-decked steam-boats seemed no bigger than canoes. Then the“Albatross”flew over Iowa after having sighted Iowa City about eleven o'clock in the morning.

A few chains of hills,“bluffs”as they are called, curved across the face of the country trending from the south to the northwest, whose moderate height necessitated no rise in the course of the aeronef. Soon the bluffs gave place to the large plains of western Iowa and Nebraska-immense prairies extending all the way to the foot of the Rocky Mountains.Here and there were many rios, affluents or minor affluents of the Missouri.On their banks were towns and villages, growing more scattered as the“Albatross”sped farther west.

Nothing particular happened during this day. Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans were left entirely to themselves.They hardly noticed Frycollin sprawling at full length in the bow, keeping his eyes shut so that he could see nothing.And they were not attacked by vertigo, as might have been expected.There was no guiding mark, and there was nothing to cause the vertigo, as there would have been on the top of a lofty building.The abyss has no attractive power when it is gazed at from the car of a balloon or deck of an aeronef.It is not an abyss that opens beneath the aeronaut, but an horizon that rises round him on all sides like a cup.

In a couple of hours the“Albatross”was over Omaha, on the Nebraskan frontier Omaha City, the real head of the Pacific Railway, that long line of rails, four thousand five hundred miles in length, stretching from New York to San Francisco. For a moment they could see the yellow waters of the Missouri, then the town, with its houses of wood and brick in the center of a rich basin, like a buckle in the iron belt which clasps North America round the waist.Doubtless, also, as the passengers in the aeronef could observe all these details, the inhabitants of Omaha noticed the strange machine.Their astonishment at seeing it gliding overhead could be no greater than that of the president and secretary of the Weldon Institute at finding themselves on board.

Anyhow, the journals of the Union would be certain to notice the fact. It would be the explanation of the astonishing phenomenon which the whole world had been wondering over for some time.

In an hour the“Albatross”had left Omaha and crossed the Platte River, whose valley is followed by the Pacific Railway in its route across the prairie. Things looked serious for Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans.

“It is serious, then, this absurd project of taking us to the Antipodes.”

“And whether we like it or not!”exclaimed the other.

“Robur had better take care!I am not the man to stand that sort of thing.”

“Nor am I!”replied Phil Evans.“But be calm, Uncle Prudent, be calm.”

“Be calm!”

“And keep your temper until it is wanted.”

By five o'clock they had crossed the Black Mountains covered with pines and cedars, and the“Albatross”Was over the appropriately named Bad Lands of Nebraska-a chaos of ochre-colored hills, of mountainous fragments, fallen on the soil and broken in their fall. At a distance these blocks take the most fantastic shapes.Here and there amid this enormous game of knucklebones there could be traced the imaginary ruins of medieval cities with forts and dungeons, pepper-box turrets, and machicolated towers.And in truth these Bad Lands are an immense ossuary where lie bleaching in the sun myriads of fragments of pachyderms, chelonians, and even, some would have us believe, fossil men, overwhelmed by unknown cataclysms ages and ages ago.

When evening came the whole basin of the Platte River had been crossed, and the plain extended to the extreme limits of the horizon, which rose high owing to the altitude of the“Albatross.”

During the night there were no more shrill whistles of locomotives or deeper notes of the river steamers to trouble the quiet of the starry firmament. Long bellowing occasionally reached the aeronef from the herds of buffalo that roamed over the prairie in search of water and pasturage.And when they ceased, the trampling of the grass under their feet produced a dull roaring similar to the rushing of a flood, and

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