DOCTOR JONES' PICNIC
S.E. CHAPMAN, M.D.
THE WHITAKER & RAY CO.
Copyrighted 1898, by
S.E. CHAPMAN, M.D.
All Rights Reserved
I must confess that I offer this romance to the reading public with no little trepidation. I am fully aware of having transcended the ordinary rules and paths of legitimate romance, and that I have presumed to broach fearlessly the deep things of God. The scope of the work is infinitely beyond the remotest thought of the writer when he began this labor; but as it grew, deepened and broadened upon his hands from day to day, like Noah's dove he could find no rest for the sole of his foot, and found it impossible to stop short of the Millennium.
The author is ready to substantiate the marvelous cures performed by Dr. Jones, for they are cases from practice. One of the objects of this work is to stimulate scientific investigation of the law of cure which guided the worthy Doctor in his selection of the remedy in a given case.
As to whether Silver Cloud and her achievements be possible or not, I am not specially concerned. And whether there are air currents in the "upper deep," as described within these pages, is a matter of little or no consequence. We are desirous of being fair and magnanimous, and will let the burden of proof rest upon the "other fellow."
When we come to the consideration of the means by which the grand finale was brought about, then I stand by my colors, and claim to have delineated the only way "out of the woods" for the suffering world. And, further, the denouement is but the inevitable result of the adoption of Golden Ruleism by the world.
No thinking man can fail to see that there is something fearfully and radically wrong in this world of ours. The few are getting too much, and the millions are getting far too little. The cry of the poor fills the earth, and many are the plans that have been devised for the relief of the innumerable sufferers; but there is an essential defect in each of them, nor is there relief to be obtained short of the power of Almighty God. This is fully comprehended in what we have been pleased to call Golden Ruleism, in the 2nd and 3d volumes.
Many students and writers upon the signs of the times take an extremely pessimistic view of the situation, and believe that we shall witness "blood to the horses' bridles." No one can deny that things are desperately bad, and that something must be done soon to relieve the strain or the very worst may be apprehended; yet the author prefers to see things through optimistic eyes, and believes that God will raise up a Moses, (or Doctor Jones, if you please,) who will lead us to a higher and better state than this world has yet ever known. The old adage 'It is always darkest just before dawn,' is beautifully applicable to the present state of the world. So I take courage and launch my book out upon the tempestuous sea of humanity, trusting that it may be welcomed as the harbinger of a better and happier era. I am sure that it bears to the world the olive branch of peace.
As is usual with prefaces, this one is anticipatory and can only be appreciated after one has perused the book. So I make the request of the reader that he re-read it after having become acquainted with the scheme and scope of the work.
This volume is to be immediately followed by volumes two and three, which complete the set.
S.E. CHAPMAN, M.D.
Napa, Cal., Dec. 13th, 1897.
Chapter I. "Figures don't lie." 1
" II. Two men resolve to go picnicking. 7
" III. Mrs. Jones offers some objections. 10
" IV. Mrs. Jones dictates terms. 14
" V. The Government joins the picnickers. 18
" VI. Off on a shoreless sea. 22
" VII. A Gunpowder tea party. 25
" VIII. Relating how the beautiful picnic progressed. 32
" IX. In the heart of Labrador. 38
" X. A message from the skies. 49
" XI. Is the world growing better? 54
" XII. Greenland's Icy Mountains and the Russian Bear. 63
" XIII. Beauty and the Beast. 75
" XIV. Doctor Jones commits treason. 83
" XV. A model teacher and an ideal student. 94
" XVI. The Count steps over the line. 100
" XVII. Farewell to Beauty and the Beast. 108
" XVIII. Woman locates the North Pole. 118
" XIX. The planting of the Flagstaff. 125
" XX. Battle of Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. 135
" XXI. Things material and spiritual. 143
" XXII. Familiar scenes and faces. 151
" XXIII. The world at the feet of Doctor Jones. 164
" XXIV. Ho! for the SOUTH POLE! 175
DOCTOR JONES' PICNIC.
"Figures Don't Lie."
The North Pole! That spot upon earth so environed with trackless fields of unbroken snow and mountains of ice; with an atmosphere so cold that none but the bravest and hardiest of mankind can breathe it and live. And yet these apparently insuperable obstacles have but stimulated men to do and dare all things, so that they might but reach that ultima thule. In vain have our utilitarians cried, "Qui bono?" God has planted within man the spirit of lordship and domination; and, true to that spirit, he will never rest until Nature shall have yielded up to him her last secret, and his restless foot shall have trodden the wildest and farthest spot of earth. Then, and not till then, will he stand crowned "Lord of Creation."
In this faithful history of the discovery and exact location of the North Pole, it is not necessary to bring before the reader in historical review the many illustrious names and grand heroisms of former explorers of Arctic regions. They did marvelous deeds, beyond the comprehension of those who did not actually participate in them. They sacrificed thousands of noble lives, and undoubtedly did all that could be done with the means at their command. Ah! there we have struck the keynote. The means at their command were inadequate, and nothing but failure and disaster could result from their best laid plans and efforts.
Dr. Jonathan Jones sat in his office in the populous, thriving city of R——, situated in one of our western states. He occupied an easy chair, heels upon a low, flat-topped writing desk, newspaper in hand, reading an account of the failure of Dr. Nansen to reach the North Pole. That renowned and hardy explorer proposed reaching the spot by floating on an ice floe. We are all familiar with the fact that he did actually get to within about three hundred miles of the coveted spot, but was obliged to turn back for want of dogs and sledges.
Dr. Jones laid the paper down with a groan. "Will they never learn?" he apostrophizingly cried to a bust of Hahnemann that rested upon a bracket in a corner of the room. "They can never get there on any such lines. I believe it to be a perfectly feasible scheme, if worked out on simple scientific principles. If I had capital, I would try it."
He sat with the points of his extended fingers touching each its mate of the opposite hand, and mused for several moments. Suddenly he seized a pencil, and rapidly jotted down figures, lines, and characters that meant nothing to any mortal but himself.
"Figures don't lie!" he shouted to aforesaid bust. "That depends, Doctor, on whether they are legitimately used or not. Sometimes they are made to represent the vilest untruth," said a voice behind him. The Doctor wheeled about and encountered the genial countenance of Mr. A.L. Denison.
"Hullo! Denison. Just the man I wanted to see. Sit down."
"What's up now, Doctor? Anyone hurt or seriously sick?" inquired Denison, as he occupied a chair.
For answer the Doctor read aloud the account of Dr. Nansen's failure to reach the North Pole, and then said: "I do not wonder that he failed. No one will succeed upon any such lines or plans."
"Well, Doctor, you don't suppose that anyone will ever get there and back alive, do you?"
"Whether they will or not, I do not know; but that it is a perfectly feasible and rational undertaking, under proper conditions, I as firmly believe as I do that I am alive," and he brought his fist down upon the desk by way of emphasis with a whack that made the various loose articles in the little office rattle. Even the bust upon the bracket moved about uneasily, whether by way of approbation or not, this truthful chronicle ventures no opinion. Denison looked at the flushed face and glittering eyes of the Doctor, moved uneasily in his chair, and said: "What's up, Doctor? I never knew you to drink. Getting off?" tapping his os frontis with his forefinger significantly.
"Denison," replied the Doctor, unheeding the innuendoes of his friend, "I tell you that I have a plan for going to, and returning from, the North Pole with perfect safety, absolute certainty, and a degree of comfort that will reduce the whole expedition to the level of a glorious picnic." Denison indulged in a long, low whistle.
"Draw it a little milder, Doctor. Go to and return from the North Pole with perfect safety, certainty, comfort, and pleasure! What do you mean? I never heard of anything so preposterous in my life!"
"Hitch up to the desk here, and I will soon tell you what I mean," cried the Doctor. Denison complied, and the Doctor, seizing a pencil, drew upon a leaf of the scratch book, with a few vigorous strokes, a sketch of a globe, thus:
"There," said he, as he gave a few finishing touches. "There you have the idea."
"Well, go on."
"This sketch represents a mammoth globe of aluminum, two hundred feet in diameter, as you will notice.
"I see," assented Denison.
"We have, then, a great hollow globe, consisting, as I said before, of aluminum. I have chosen that material for two obvious reasons; lightness and strength. The globe is simply to be floated by heating the atmosphere within it."
"What will you heat it with, and how long do you suppose it will be before your globe returns to the earth?" asked Denison.
"Your questions are quite practical, and I am ready to answer them. There are to be three skins or coverings to our globe, with a foot of space (or air blanket, if you please) between them. This affords us two air chambers that materially prevent the radiation of heat. Once heated, a very little fuel will keep the interior of our great air-ship at the desired temperature. You see, at the inferior or lower part of the ship, a square apartment attached, plentifully supplied with windows. That represents the living and store rooms. The living rooms are to be comfortably furnished, and no reason can be alleged why we should not enjoy in them absolute comfort. In our store-rooms, we will carry one year's supply of food. And in tanks of sufficient size, petroleum (or whatever combustible we conclude to be most suitable) for heating and cooking purposes. See?"
"I see," said Denison.
"You will observe that so conservative of heat is this arrangement that every particle of caloric created in the living rooms, or cabin below, helps by that much to float the great globe. All the warmth from cooking and heating; the heat and smoke from our pipes and cigars; yea, even the animal heat which radiates from our bodies, all subserve the one great purpose and function—keeping up the temperature and buoyant effort of the globe. Do you begin to catch on?" fairly shouted the enthusiastic Doctor.
"Well, it looks very well so far," returned Denison slowly. "But, my dear sir, I foresee one difficulty that in your enthusiasm you seem to have overlooked. You can never guide or steer this immense ship. It must go with the wind, and you are just as likely to go to the South Pole as to the North, and very unlikely to go to either. You must excuse me, but this last is certainly an insuperable obstacle to your making anything practicable of your idea."
"I admit at once that this great body could not be steered, nor in any degree guided by any apparatus that we could devise," assented the Doctor. "But that we should be obliged to float aimlessly, hither and thither, altogether the creatures of chance, I do not for a moment admit. The equator, receiving as it does, the vertical rays of the sun, is by far the hottest portion of the earth. The atmosphere at that quarter, being constantly superheated and correspondingly rarified, ascends into the vault above. This creates a semi-vacuum below, and the cooler atmospheres north and south of the equator rush in and fill the aforesaid vacuum. Pouring in from opposite directions with an impetus that often amounts to hurricanes, they boil up as they meet, miles into the firmament above. They then set off in two strong currents toward either Pole. What is the natural inference? The navigators of our air-ship have the power to raise and lower at pleasure. Obviously, there is but one thing for sensible men to do: Let her rise until we strike a northerly current, if necessary, and remain in it so long as it is favorable; when it changes, rise or lower until another favorable current is found, etc. Do you happen to think of any more 'insuperable' obstacles, my dear sir?"
"Well, I must say that while I am not convinced of the practicability of your scheme, still you meet my objections in a way that is quite surprising, and which shows that you have given the matter much thought; yet I am not sure that you will not run upon difficulties that will make it altogether impossible. For instance, there is the cost of so vast an undertaking. It would cost hundreds of thousands, at the least calculation."
"Now, Denison, you have struck the only real difficulty that I can think of. I really have no idea of who will furnish the money. I had not thought even of asking anyone to do so."
Patients came in at this juncture, and Denison took his departure. A few days later, however, he returned, and when the Doctor was at leisure, opened the conversation by asking if anything had developed with regard to the air-ship building.
"O, ho!" cried Dr. Jones, "you are getting into my way of thinking on that subject, are you?"
"Well, to tell you the truth, I have thought of it considerably since I saw you. I would like, at least, to see it tried."
"There is but one way to do: If you get interested sufficiently to wish to take hold, we will see if we cannot stir up our friends and form a stock company. Or, failing in that, we might have a working model built, and I think we could induce the Government to take hold of the matter."
Denison called frequently during the following month, and it was evident that he was fast becoming imbued with the Doctor's ideas and enthusiasm.
Two Men Resolve to Go Picnicking.
One afternoon, the Doctor being at leisure, he and Denison talked long and earnestly of their never-failing theme, the aluminum globe. Denison finally said:
"You know, Doctor, that I never go into anything without due consideration. I have studied this matter over carefully, and am willing to chance it with you. We have been acquainted a great many years, and I never knew you to make any bad breaks. I have nothing else to do at present, and have a few thousands that I am willing to risk in this business. If I lose it I shall let it go for experience and blame no one but myself."
"Denison, you know very well that I would not lead you into anything that would do you an injury, financially or otherwise, for anything in the world. I had not thought, indeed, of asking you to take any part or stock in this scheme. I believe in it with all my soul, but had not allowed myself to seriously think of promoting or investing in it. You had better think of it for a while longer."
"As I told you," returned Denison, "I have given it very serious thought for several weeks. I have every confidence in the world in you, and my mind is thoroughly made up now that I wish to go with you into this enterprise. You know that since my wife died I have done little or nothing. I have no family to occupy my mind, and this is the first time since her death that I have felt any interest in anything. It took something extraordinary, like your scheme, to wake me up. So here I am, Doctor, yours for the North Pole!"
"Well, old friend, you are a man of the right spirit," said Dr. Jones, taking him by the hand, "and I am willing to do with you what we can to get the Government interested in this matter. What shall be our first move?"
"How can you leave your business or get any time to do anything in this undertaking?" asked Denison.
"I will tell you: I have been right here, at the old stand, for twenty-odd years. In all that time I have never taken a vacation of any sort. I have for years been intending to do so, but something always prevented. Now I have an opportunity to put a good man into my place, and I feel the necessity of taking a rest of a year or so. This looks like just the chance for me. So you may consider that question settled. Now, what shall be our first move?"
"Since we are each determined to take hold of this venture, Doctor, I suppose that the first thing will be to get an architect to figure on the thing, and give us necessary figures and data. And I have just the man—Will Marsh, office on Main Street. He is an extraordinary fellow, a real genius, and a gentleman in every sense of the word. Let's see him right away. I'm catching your spirit of enthusiasm, Doctor, and what does a man amount to without enthusiasm in this age of the world?"
"Well, of course, the enthusiast is numbered with the cranks," replied Dr. Jones. "But, Denison, the cranks are the only men who accomplish anything of note in this world. I have really great respect for cranks, if they only are honest and not too abusive. So we may as well anticipate the dear public, and enroll ourselves among the cranks."
"All right," returned Denison, "'Sail on!' as Joaquin Miller has Columbus say to the faint-hearted sailing master. 'The North Pole or bust!' is my motto now."
"That's right, that's right," grinned the Doctor, amused to see the enthusiasm he had aroused in his friend. "And now let's to business. I am ready to go with you and see the architect."
So together they walked to the office of that gentleman. They found him in and at leisure, and they immediately opened their business to him. The Doctor took the lead, Denison occasionally offering a suggestion. Mr. Marsh proved to be a good listener, jotting down the items as they were given him, and they made excellent progress. Evidently Dr. Jones had studied the subject very thoroughly, for he gave measurements and specifications with a readiness and accuracy that were surprising.
"And now, Mr. Marsh, there are doubtless some important points that have not occurred to me, and which you will discover. What we want at present is an approximate estimate of the cost, carrying and floating capacity of our globe. I think you have the idea as nearly as we can give it, and please let us know all about it as soon as possible," said Dr. Jones as they were about to depart.
"I will do so, sir," replied the architect, "but you understand that your project is so extraordinary—if I may be allowed to say so—that it will require several days before I can give you any definite information. I must go to the city and ascertain the prices of material, etc."
"We understand that, Mr. Marsh; only please do not neglect to attend to it immediately."
With this parting injunction they bade him good-day and departed, each to his home.
Mrs. Jones Offers Some Objections.
But Dr. Jones met great opposition in a quarter that was not so easily disposed of. He had a wife. Mrs. Jones was a very intelligent and lovely woman, younger by some fifteen years than the Doctor. She must be consulted. He broached the subject very cautiously, now and then expatiating upon the extreme ease and comfort with which the trip to the North Pole might be made. He bought histories of the many Arctic explorations, and read them aloud to her. At first she listened indifferently, not dreaming for a moment that the Doctor was burning with a desire to become an Arctic explorer. Day after day he enlarged and dilated upon his plan. Denison often dropped in of an evening, and the conversation invariably drifted into the old topic, the aluminum globe and the trip to the North Pole.
One evening the architect, Mr. Marsh, with a large paper roll in his hand, came with Denison to the Doctor's residence. After the usual greetings the Doctor said, "Mrs. Jones, I think we will take possession of the dining-room, as we wish to use the table. Come in with us, for I am sure that you are greatly interested in the business we have on hand to-night."
Mrs. Jones good-naturedly complied, and sat engaged with some knitting, while the roll brought by the architect was spread upon the table, and weights laid upon its corners. The two schemers gave a cry of delight as a truly magnificent sketch of the globe unfolded before their eyes. Floating in the firmament, thousands of feet above the earth, with a panoramic view of forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and hill elevations, fruitful valleys thickly dotted with towns, villages, farms, little specks that represented houses, green fields, etc., fading away into indistinctness in the far distances of the horizon, all done with such patient and faithful regard for detail and artistic appreciation of color and perspective, that Mrs. Jones joined in the chorus of expressions of unqualified admiration. It was done in water colors, and the enraptured Doctor seized one end of it and cried: "Take hold of one end, Denison, and help me hold it up against the wall. There, Maggie! Denison! Did you ever see anything so absolutely beautiful?"
They declared that they never had. The artist, meantime, stood with flushed cheek, his arms folded across his breast, modest and quiet.
"Get tacks and a hammer, Maggie, and we'll fasten it to the wall; then we can all sit and enjoy this glorious panorama."
The painting was quickly tacked up in a position for inspection, and all sat admiringly before it.
"By the way, Mr. Marsh, you must have done something in the line of aeronautism, or you never could have made that painting," observed the Doctor.
"No, Doctor, I have never made any balloon ascensions, but I have climbed many mountains, both in Europe and America, and have made numerous sketches from vast elevations. I have simply drawn upon these for my material, and in this painting you have a blending of several of them. Of course, I have taxed my imagination to some extent. The central object, the globe, air-ship, or whatever you may be pleased to call it, is your own conception, or my conception of your idea."
"Well, I am more than pleased with your work. Your execution has so far transcended my idea that I take no credit at all in this instance. But now we must never rest until we have materialized this splendid conception."
So they sat admiring and chatting over the painting some little time.
"Well, Marsh, have you anything more to show us to-night?" asked Denison.
"Yes," he replied, "I have some figures and data that I received from the city a day or two since."
Drawing their chairs about the table, Mr. Marsh read from a small memorandum-book estimate prices of materials, amount and weight of same, cost of labor, and finally what he deemed to be the approximate cost of the globe complete, furnished and equipped for a one year's voyage.
"I have some suggestions to offer, Doctor. You spoke of having three skins or envelopes of aluminum, with air chambers between them that would prevent the radiation of heat. Now, I think that we can do better than that, though without doubt your idea is practical and would answer the purpose; yet I have a plan to offer that will dispense with one envelope, and will more effectually conserve heat. Zinc is the best nonconductor of heat that I know of. One thin layer of this metal within a few inches of the external covering of aluminum will serve you a much better purpose and will greatly reduce the cost of construction."
This suggestion met with the immediate approval of the Doctor and Denison. They talked and planned until quite a late hour. After the departure of the two men Mrs. Jones said:
"Are you seriously thinking of going into this wild scheme, Doctor?"
"Well, Maggie, what do you think of it? Don't you see how perfectly feasible and beautiful it is?"
"Why, so far as I know, it may do well enough. But how can you do anything with it, and what good would it do you if you could?"
"My dear Maggie! How can you ask such a question! Think of the glory of accomplishing that which has defeated some of the best and bravest men that the world has ever produced. And think of the importance this accomplishment might be to science. Is the undying fame that would attach to such a deed to be lightly esteemed? Oh, my dear wife! you know how steadily and conscientiously I have labored all these years. More than a quarter of a century have I devoted to the care of the sick, with scarcely a moment's recreation. The time has come when I feel that I must take a vacation. Further than this, I feel that I can do the world greater service with my idea of reaching the North Pole, besides settling a question as to the possibility of aerial navigation for long distances. How can I better spend a year or so than in the promotion of this idea? Be a good, brave little wife, as you always have been, and don't oppose me in this thing upon which my heart is set."
"And who is to sail this great balloon, or air-ship?"
"Well, as the Dutch captain said when the harbor inspector asked 'Who is the captain of this ship?' 'I ish de feller!'"
With these words he assumed a melodramatic attitude. But Mrs. Jones was not to be won by any facetiae, and walked up to him, placing her hands upon his shoulders, said: "Do you think for one moment that I will ever consent to your going off on so fearfully perilous an expedition as this? How I should feel to see you sail off into the blue sky, with an almost absolute certainty of never seeing you again! I should go insane. What would my days and nights be, even though you went and returned in all the safety you anticipate? I should go insane in less than a week with anxiety. Do as you please so far as promoting the construction of the globe is concerned, but never will I consent to your going in it."
"Maggie, Maggie, don't be so foolish. I do not intend going until I have perfectly satisfied you that I am not more safe in our home than I should be in our great ship."
"All right!" she cried. "You are not to go, then, until I freely consent."
"O, hold on!" he answered. "Don't construe me so ungenerously. I only said that I would first convince you of my safety."
"That you can never do, and you may as well give it up. It cannot be a safe undertaking. It makes me faint to even think of it. Just imagine yourself in that cabin now," pointing to Marsh's painting that still hung upon the wall.
"I wish to heaven I was," growled the Doctor.
"I just won't hear another word of it!" and she flounced out of the room to bed.
Mrs. Jones Dictates Terms.
Several months have passed since the meeting recorded in our last chapter. The enthusiasm of the three men (for Marsh was now a member of the company) increased as the days went by. A considerable amount of canvassing had been done among the moneyed men of the community, but with no success. No one could be found who was willing to risk any considerable amount of wealth in an enterprise whose outcome was so problematical. Fame is all well enough, but there is very little sentiment about capital.
After many consultations by the three, it was agreed that nothing further could be done at home, and the next move would be a trip to Washington. The idea of building a model was abandoned, as the beautiful drawings and paintings of the architect completely obviated its necessity.
The Doctor had said but little to Mrs. Jones upon the subject that lay nearest his heart since the time recorded in our last chapter. Though he went about his professional duties as usual, yet that astute little lady thoroughly understood that he was far from laying aside this great ambition of his life. And she also realized that a crisis was approaching when quick, sharp work must be done, and she had determined what she should do.
The Doctor, meantime, furtively watched day by day the lovely face of his wife. But he might as well have spent the same time studying the face of the Sphynx. He could not decide whether she was acting a part most beautifully, or had dropped the matter as settled. It cost her a great struggle to keep from smiling as she looked into his troubled eyes, and at times would be obliged to put her handkerchief to her mouth to keep back the smiles that dimpled about its corners. She knew that the crisis was at hand, and so persevered in her part; and, better than all, she knew that she should come off victor.
All things were ripe for the assault upon the Government board of science.
"Meet at my house to-night, gentlemen," said the Doctor. "My arrangements are all made, and I could start to-morrow morning if my wife would consent. I feel more concerned about getting her acquiescence than I do about getting the Government interested. I really fear that she is like Sambo's mule: 'When he so quiet an' still like, yo' look out! He templatin' trouble den, shuah!' There's something up, and I must have it out with her to-night; and I want you to stand in and say all you can to help me out. We must convince her that there is not nearly so much danger in our globe as there is aboard a train of cars or a steamship."
So that evening in the dining-room, and upon the same table, Marsh spread the drawings and specifications that represented the smallest detail connected with the construction of the globe. Mrs. Jones entered into the conversation, made suggestions as to the furnishing of food, bedding, furniture, etc., until the three men winked and grinned slyly at one another, delighted to see the interest she displayed.
"Now, Maggie, I am sure that you cannot see any element of danger in this trip," said the Doctor, fixing his eyes upon her very anxiously. To his surprise and delight she unhesitatingly said:
"No, I do not see why it should be at all dangerous."
"That's my brave little wife!" shouted Dr. Jones, catching her in his arms and kissing her upon both cheeks. "What an old lunkhead I have been all this time! Why, Maggie, do you know that I have been terribly worried lest you should prove foolish and obstinate and would do all you could to prevent my going?"
"I knew it all the time," she replied.
"Just listen to the demure little sinner! Knew that I was worrying all this time and never let me see that she understood me at all! What a little hypocrite you are! But I forgive you, since you are so reasonable."
"But my dear hubby, do not jump at conclusions. There is a condition connected with my consent."
"And it is granted now, my dear. What is it?"
"Oh, it is a real easy one!"
"I am sure of that, dear Maggie, for you are the most reasonable woman alive. Isn't she, gentlemen?"
Of course the conspirators loudly assented.
"That is very nice of you, gentlemen," said she, bowing gracefully to them, "but I know about how much allowance to make for 'soft soap' in this case."
"But what is the condition, Maggie?" asked Dr. Jones.
"I go with you."
"To Washington? Certainly you shall, honey."
"I go with you in the globe, to the North Pole, or any other place the wind may blow us."
"I have said it."
The Doctor dropped into a chair with a groan. "I knew it! I knew she meant mischief all the time."
"But my dear woman," cried he, jumping from his chair again, "don't you see the utter impossibility of your going on so hard and perilous a voyage? You could never endure it in the world."
"Hardships and perils, indeed!" said she mischievously. "Haven't you said over and over in my presence that this was simply a beautiful picnic trip and perfectly safe?"
"Well—er—er," stammered the Doctor, "but, Maggie, it would be no place for a woman, you know."
"I beg your pardon, sir, but I do not know anything of the kind. Do you suppose that I have sat here all these months listening to you men talk of this scheme without becoming a convert to your theories? No, Doctor, I am as enthusiastic as any of you in this matter. The North Pole fever is like the measles, very contagious, and I have a severe attack of it. Now you have all agreed that I am the most reasonable woman living, and you cannot accuse me of being unreasonable simply because I wish to go with you on this safe, comfortable and perfectly beautiful picnic excursion."
This turn of affairs was so complete a surprise to the three men that they sat silent with consternation for a few moments.
"Come to think of it, gentlemen, I am pleased for one that Mrs. Jones wishes to accompany us. Why should she not?" said Marsh.
Mrs. Jones beamed upon him so warmly that he blushed to his ears.
"One vote for me," she gayly exclaimed. "Now, Mr. Denison, on the score of old friendship, I claim your franchise."
"And you have it, my dear madam," cried Denison. "Yours for the North Pole, Mrs. Jones."
She gave a hand to each of her coadjutors, and turning to Dr. Jones, said: "Don't you see what a splendid lobbyist I am, Doctor? You will need me when you get to Washington."
The Doctor's face was a study. At length he said: "Woman is the most unaccountable creature in the universe. I expected to-night to have made the plea of my life, and I declare for it, if she hasn't turned the tables completely upon me, and actually stands there imploring to go with us, instead of going into hysterics and making no end of opposition. Well, honey," putting his arm about her waist, "I took you for better or worse, but I did not expect to take you to the North Pole. I yield to the inevitable, gentlemen. Allow me to introduce you to No. 4, North Pole Aluminum Globe Co."
The Government Joins the Picnickers.
Not many days later found our friends comfortably located in a hotel in the national capital. The Doctor was quite well acquainted with the representative from his congressional district, and was supplied with letters of introduction from influential parties to members of both houses. By a judicious use of these, they managed to obtain a hearing before the scientific and geographical departments of the Smithsonian Institute. So thoroughly had Dr. Jones and Mr. Marsh mastered the details of the subject that they immediately made a favorable impression upon that learned body. After some weeks spent in investigation, they unanimously voted in favor of the project, and recommended that Congress grant appropriations for that purpose.
After a certain amount of lobbying (in which, I am glad to say, No. 4's services were not required), an amount in accordance with the architect's estimates was passed by both houses, and duly signed by the President. Nothing could exceed the joy and satisfaction of the four friends. They now hurried to their homes and made arrangements for permanently moving to Washington. A few weeks later, we find them settled in a pleasant home in the capital, "a busy lot of happy cranks," as Mrs. Jones expressed it.
The building contract was awarded a Washington company, whose foundries and shops are located upon the Potomac, adjacent to the city. The work is being done under the general supervision of Marsh and the three friends. It is not long before the vast scaffolding that is built up as the long, slender, silver-like ribs of the aluminum framework are put in place, begins to attract the attention of the surrounding populace. And well it might, for as the beautiful globe began to assume shape, certainly nothing so colossal of the kind had ever been seen before upon earth. And as one stepped inside the mighty ball and looked up through the vast network of aluminum rods and braces that ran in every conceivable direction, looking like silken threads in the great distances above, the feeling inspired was one of awe and unbounded admiration.
The work was pushed forward with all possible expedition. The summer passed rapidly away. As winter drew near, a vast roof was built over the globe, and all was securely shut in from the inclemencies of that inhospitable season. All winter the hundreds of hammers, busily riveted the sheets of aluminum and zinc into place, and by spring the globe, the splendid creation that had existed in the brain of Dr. Jones, was an actuality. Language is inadequate to describe the sensations of the little company of promoters. They said but little, but would often stand in a group, gaze upon it, then into each other's eyes, and smile and wag their delighted heads.
The newspapers were not slow, meantime, in keeping the public informed of all that could be learned of the unique enterprise. Reporters besieged the projectors, in season and out. Our friends freely gave them all possible information, and no little interest was excited all over our great land. People came from every quarter of the Union, many from Europe to see the mighty, glistening sphere. The crowds were so vast that work was impeded, and it became necessary to restrict admission. A nominal entrance fee was charged, but that only seemed to stimulate the eager sightseers. So the public were, of necessity, finally entirely excluded.
Then the roof of the building was removed, and the whole structure gradually, except so much of it as was absolutely necessary to maintain the globe in position.
The cabin was attached to the bottom of the globe, forty feet square, with ten feet between the floor and ceiling. It was divided off into several bedrooms, sitting and dining-rooms, kitchen, smoking-room, store-rooms, oil tanks, etc. In the center was a room, fifteen feet square, that was called the engine-room. Everything that could be thought of that could add to comfort had been supplied, always with reference to compactness and weight. Not an ounce of superfluous weight would the architect allow. He had calculated very carefully and knew to a pound, almost, just what his great ship would carry, and how much fuel would keep her afloat a certain number of hours. But the thing that aroused the admiration of the public was the aluminum shaft that passed from the floor of the cabin straight up through the center of the globe, and extended on above it full ninety feet. And from this dizzy height, floated "Old Glory," constructed of fine wire of that same beautiful, evershining metal, aluminum. Round and round this splendid shaft, up through the globe, wound a delicate stairway. From its top stair, one stepped out into a small observatory, well supplied with windows upon its four sides. The stairway was protected from the hot air of the interior of the globe by a zinc coating, so that the mast and stairway really passed up through the center of a zinc tube standing on end, and about six feet in diameter.
Already it is an inspiring sight to stand in the observatory, situated exactly upon the top of the sphere, and look away into the surrounding country, up and down the Potomac, and over the lovely capital city. But what will it be when suspended in the air, thousands of feet above terra firma?
"Do you feel no fear, Maggie?" asked the Doctor, as they stood with Marsh and Denison and looked from this great height.
"Not the slightest tremor," she replied, and she looked so brightly and bravely into their faces that Denison said: "I really believe, Doctor, that she will prove to be the best sailor of the lot."
"I wish we had a female companion for you, Maggie. I have a great mind to advertise for one," said Dr. Jones.
"I beg you to do no such thing. She will be sure to be finical, cowardly, or disagreeable in some way. And then such a host of all sorts of creatures as would reply to your advertisement. We shall do very well without her," replied Mrs. Jones.
"But I am sure it would be much pleasanter for you, Maggie. Don't you know of a female acquaintance that you would like to have accompany you?" persisted Dr. Jones.
"Well, let me think. If Mattie Bronson could go, it would afford me the greatest pleasure."
"The very thing!" declared the Doctor in his usual emphatic way. "Mattie is a lovely, brave, all-around nice girl. Let it be Mattie, by all means."
Denison and Marsh expressed their entire satisfaction with this arrangement.
"I will write her immediately to come and visit us, and then I am sure that we can prevail upon her to go with us," said Mrs. Jones.
They then descended the long, slender stairway, and returned to their home.
Off on a Shoreless Sea.
About the middle of April appeared the following in one of the leading papers:
"Last night our citizens, and a tremendous overflow of visitors were treated to the most magnificent sight their eyes ever beheld. The great aluminum globe, about which all the world has been agog for so long, arose and stood for three hours above the city, some two hundred and fifty feet. The whole mighty sphere was ablaze with myriads of electric lights, from the ball of the tapering flagstaff to the beautiful cabin below. As it hung suspended above the city, connected with the earth by but a slender aluminum chain that looked like a thread of silver piercing the skies, a great hush fell upon the hundreds of thousands of gazers below. All Nature seemed auspicious to the occasion. Scarcely a zephyr was stirring, and the stars shone brightly down upon the scene from cloudless skies. One hundred people, consisting of the President and cabinet, senators, congressmen, editors, scientific and literary men and women, were the favored party who occupied the gigantic ship.
"Suddenly there fell upon the ears of the waiting multitude the glorious soprano voice of Mrs. Jones. So far above, yet so thrillingly sweet and distinct, one could scarcely refrain from imagining that the Pearly Gates had opened, and we were listening to the voice of one of the Redeemed. But that illusion was soon dispelled, and we recognized the familiar strains of "Star Spangled Banner." And when the whole hundred voices swelled the splendid chorus, a great shout arose from the multitude like the sound of many waters, beginning directly beneath the globe, and spreading away in every direction like billows from a great rock, dropped into the center of a quiet lake.
"And so, under the direction of Professor Marsh, brother of the architect of the globe, a beautiful and appropriate musical program was rendered, lasting nearly an hour.
"We venture the assertion that no performance was ever rendered to so great an audience, and certainly not to one more appreciative. And we predict that there will be a great demand for liniments and plasters for some weeks to come. For standing two hours or more with the back of one's head resting upon the cervical portion of one's spinal column, and screaming at the top of one's lungs a good portion of the time, with eyes unblinkingly and unwinkingly set upon the inconceivably splendid globe, all this we assert to be highly conducive to stiff neck and sore throat. And it is a question whether many of that innumerable, entranced audience will be able to keep their hearts and minds upon things terrestrial for a considerable time to come. From the bottom of our hearts, we commiserate every member of the race who missed the sights and sounds of last evening.
"All arrangements are now completed, and day after to-morrow, weather favorable, Dr. Jones and party expect to sail at the hour of noon, away for the North Pole. Nothing has been omitted that could insure the success of the expedition, and we feel confident of all that could be hoped for, or desired by the enterprising Doctor and friends."
The hour set for sailing had arrived. The day was beautiful, and a moderate breeze was blowing toward northwest. With proud, happy hearts the party of navigators stood upon the balcony that ran about the four sides of the cabin. This balcony was one of the chief embellishments and conveniences of the cabin. It was five feet wide, and extended, as before said, about the four sides of the cabin. A balustrade four feet high was built along its outer edge. A more exhilarating promenade could not be conceived, and right well did our friends enjoy it during the notable voyage which we are about to record.
The party consisted of Professor J.Q. Gray, the scientific representative of the Smithsonian Institute; Miss Mattie Bronson; Professor Fred Marsh; our four friends with whom the reader is acquainted; and last, but not least, so far as bodily comforts were concerned, Ah Sing, the cook.
As the globe arose slowly to the length of its cable, five hundred feet, it seemed to the little company upon the balcony as if the universe had assembled to see them off. On the streets, public squares, housetops, decks of all ships upon the river, were crowds on crowds of people; people anywhere, everywhere; far as the eye could reach was one vast, countless host. What wonder that the heart of the Doctor swelled and quickened as he looked upon the ocean of upturned faces below, and realized that from his fertile brain had sprung the mighty object of all this attention. How it pulled and surged at its silver-like cable, as if it were a thing of life, and desired to be away toward its destination, the North Pole!
The hour of noon was announced by hundreds of bells and whistles. The Doctor waved a flag over the balustrade, the anchor was cut loose from its fastenings, and away bounded the colossal sphere toward the ethereal blue. Upward and still up it arose to the height of three thousand feet, trending slowly toward the northwest.
The voices of the multitude sounded like the roar of the sea, and as it grew fainter and fainter, the stout-hearted little party realized that they were effectually cut off from the world—off on a limitless sea, alone with God.
A Gunpowder Tea-party.
Nothing could be completer nor daintier than the cabin and its furnishings, divisions, and subdivisions. The rooms of necessity were small, but sufficiently large for convenience and comfort. A choice selection of best authors had been added by the Doctor. Mr. Will Marsh, the architect, had not forgotten a painting, sketching, and photographing outfit. Professor Fred Marsh had brought a good supply of vocal and instrumental music, and a small aluminum organ of exquisite tone and splendid volume. Professor Gray, as a matter of course, was abundantly supplied with books, charts, instruments, etc. The ladies did not forget to bring knitting, crochet, and sewing work with them. "For we cannot be continually craning our necks out of our little nest, sightseeing," said Mrs. Jones.
"And then I suppose that we shall be above the clouds a good share of the time, with nothing but a fog bank to look at," added Mattie.
Dr. Jones carried a plentiful supply of drugs and instruments. "I have not given up practice," said he. "There is no telling how many patients I may encounter outside of our little crowd, before we return."
But we cannot stop to enumerate all the conveniences and appurtenances of the wonderful sky-ship, now hastening toward its destination. More of that later on.
Washington and its crowds of excited people were fast disappearing in the distance. To say that no fear was experienced upon the part of any of the company would not be strictly true. The ladies were pale and silent, and stood with their arms about each other. Very little was said by any one, for the sensation of skimming through the air at the rate of more than twenty miles an hour at this elevation was too novel and thrilling to admit of conversation. All experienced more or less of vertigo and nausea, but the Doctor promptly controlled these disagreeable symptoms with medicines from his case. All stood at their post for something near an hour, Sing excepted. He was rattling about among his pots, pans, and kettles as unconcernedly as if in the best appointed kitchen in Washington. Finally a general conversation was entered into as the first qualms of fear and sickness began to wear off.
"I am delighted with the performance of our ship," said Will. (We shall take the liberty of using the given names of the two brothers hereafter, Will and Fred.)
"Yes," returned the Doctor, "how easily and smoothly we are going. When one looks inside, it is hard to realize that we are flying at the rate of nearly thirty miles an hour through the air, three thousand feet above the earth."
"And notice how steadily we are moving. Not a tremor nor movement of any sort appreciable. How decidedly superior to car or steamboat traveling. Here we have no jar, noise, nor dust," continued Will.
"Nor any kind of danger of shipwreck or collision," added Professor Gray.
"Well, I'm sure that we are a peculiarly favored lot of travelers," said Fred, turning to the organ and playing "Away with Melancholy," with great spirit.
"How does the temperature in the globe keep up?" asked the Professor of Will.
"I am astonished, Professor," he replied, "it has scarcely varied a degree since starting, now two hours, and we are burning no fuel at all at present."
"That is truly wonderful," answered the Professor. "At this rate we are not likely to run out of fuel."
"No," said Will, "we are safe on that score."
The Doctor and Will now ascended to the observatory. Professor Gray and Denison sat beside the ladies upon the balcony. Each was studying the topography of the country with the aid of their field glasses.
"See the people everywhere and all waving their handkerchiefs at us," exclaimed Mattie.
"How distinctly we can see their white upturned faces, and how they do shout," remarked Mrs. Jones.
"I can see photographers catching snap shots at us," said Denison.
"I dare say that the telegraph and telephone wires are being kept busy over us," said Fred, who had just joined the group.
"Not a doubt of it," answered the Professor, "not only in America, but all over Christendom."
Dr. Jones and Will now returned from their aerie, the observatory.
"Whew!" exclaimed the Doctor; "if that isn't exercise for you!"
"What is the temperature now?" asked the Professor.
"One hundred and thirty degrees," replied Will. "It has cooled off a few degrees."
"Yes, we have descended to the twenty-five hundred foot level," remarked the Professor, after consulting the barometer.
"She will skim along many hours before we need to fire up," returned Will.
"And how is the view from the observatory?" inquired Denison of the Doctor.
"That is the sight of a lifetime," cried Dr. Jones. "Language is utterly inadequate to describe it. With the vast, unobstructed view on all sides, far as the eye can reach, the great glistening rotund sides of the globe rolling away from beneath your feet, giving one a sensation as if about to slide off into the awful chasm below, I assure you that it is something fearful. But I cast my eye up the shining mast and saw the stars and stripes floating there so calmly and serenely, and I remembered our glorious mission, and instantly I felt the Everlasting Arms about me. I realized as never before in my life, the utter littleness of man, and the almightiness of God. Here, floating thousands of feet above the earth, we can rest just as implicitly on His promises as we ever did in our lives."
These words were said by the Doctor with so much earnestness and solemnity that a hush fell upon the company for a few moments. Then Mrs. Jones sat at the organ and began singing in a low, sweet voice, Kelso Carter's splendid hymn:
"Standing on the promises of Christ my King, Through eternal ages let his praises ring; Glory in the highest, I can shout and sing, Standing on the promises of God."
Every one of the seven were trained vocalists, and, very happily for the pleasure of the company, the four parts were so nicely balanced that their voices blended in sweetest harmony. The Doctor and Will and Denison sang bass; Fred and Professor Gray tenor, Mattie alto, and Mrs. Jones soprano. Mattie possessed an exceedingly rich contralto, while Mrs. Jones' soprano was strong, sweet, and clear as a bird's. They all joined in the chorus, and when the hymn was finished, Ah Sing, who stood in the doorway with his white cap and apron on, encored loudly.
"Velly good. Me heap likee," was his verdict.
"It takes the 'Children of the Skies' to sing that hymn!" cried Denison.
"Hear! Hear!" said Mrs. Jones, clapping her hands. "Isn't that poetic and appropriate? The Children of the Skies! That was an inspiration on your part, Mr. Denison."
Several more pieces were sung, and the newness of their position began to wear off toward evening. After this the rooms were assigned to each by the Doctor, who was by common consent, recognized as captain of the ship. Himself and wife occupied the largest of the sleeping apartments, a beautiful bedroom, twelve feet square. How pure, sweet, and clean they all were! The ceilings, walls, floors, and furniture, all of that marvelous metal, aluminum. Rugs laid about as required were the only covering upon the floors. At six o'clock, Sing announced dinner. As they repaired to the dining-room and sat in the dainty aluminum chairs about the aluminum table, set with a complete service of the same metal, they could not repress their expressions of delight. They sat with bowed heads while Dr. Jones invoked the Divine blessing upon the food of which they were about to partake, and asked His special protection and care during the unknown perils before them. As the meal progressed, they grew quite talkative and merry.
"This is high living in more senses than one," remarked Fred as he finished a plate of soup.
"Yes," returned Mrs. Jones, "we have picked up a jewel of a cook."
"How are you getting along, girls?" cried the genial Doctor, from the lower end of the table where he sat carving the meat.
"Just splendidly, Doctor," replied Mattie, gaily. "Your picnic is turning out to be a grander success than you ever could have dreamed of."
"I don't know," he returned as his eye swept about the room and out of the window. "I had my ideas up pretty high, but I must admit that this rather exceeds my highest flights of imagination."
"My ideal of pleasure, so far as eating goes, used to be that of sitting in a Pullman dining-car, flying at the rate of forty miles an hour or more. I have spent an hour at such a table more than once, looking out of the great windows as I ate, and thought I knew all about it. But ah! I had never dined with the 'Children of the Skies,'" said Will.
And so they pleasantly chatted through the meal. Mrs. Jones, who sat at the other end of the table, poured the tea.
"It may be imagination, but everything seems to taste better than common aboard this ship," said Professor Gray. "Now, this tea is remarkably fragrant and delicious. It is a beverage that I do not as a rule care much for. What particular variety of tea is it?"
"It is the very best quality of Ceylon. I have forbidden the use of any other kind by my patients. The Ceylon tea possesses little or no tannic acid, and is not nearly so deleterious to weak stomachs as other varieties. Speaking of teas, I suppose that you have all heard of one brand of tea called 'Gunpowder.' I could tell you a very good story about Gunpowder tea if you wish to hear it."
A general desire being expressed to hear it, the Doctor began:
"My maternal grandfather left New York state and moved to the vicinity of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1830. Cleveland at that time was a small, unimportant lakeport and my grandfather was offered his choice between a tract of land upon what is now the most beautiful residence street in the world, Euclid Avenue, and a piece at what was called Brighton, several miles farther from town. It speaks but little for the old gentleman's foresight, but he chose the latter, and so remained a comparatively poor man all his life, instead of becoming a millionaire. But, by dint of hard work, grandfather prospered as well as his neighbors, and was content. In course of time, a hired man became a necessary fixture upon the farm, and for many years Pete Wiggs, an honest, hardworking German, was grandfather's right-hand man. But Pete, jewel of a farmhand though he was, possessed one serious flaw: he would have a periodical spree. But, so considerate was he, that he always chose a time for his sprees when 'Dere really vos notting else to do, Uncle Ezra,' as he assured my grandfather by way of extenuation. So it became an understood arrangement that Pete was to be allowed, and expected to have, a 'blowout' every spring and fall. One spring day, the crops being all in, Pete began making arrangements for one of his semi-annuals. 'Now, Pete,' said my grandmother, 'before you get drunk, I want you to be sure and not forget to buy me a pound of the new tea I have heard of. They call it 'Gunpowder tea.' Now attend to this for me before you get to drinking.
'All right, Aunt Lois, so I vill,' replied Pete.
Four or five days later, Pete returned as usual, semi-intoxicated, and looking very much the worse for wear.
'Give me dish, Aunt Loish, and I gif you dot Gunpowder dee. Paper proke in mine bocket.'
So out of his coat pocket he began to fish great handfuls of tea leaves, and a fine, black, granular substance. Grandmother looked at the strange mixture critically, and concluded that the reason the tea was so called was because part of it so much resembled gunpowder. So she thanked the thoughtful Dutchman most kindly, and set it away carefully. A few evenings later she invited a number of her neighbors, old cronies, to drink Gunpowder tea with her. None of them had ever seen the new variety of tea, and all were there, expecting a very great treat indeed.
It was soon poured out and upon the table. Grandmother noticed that its color was black as ink, and she felt a thrill of anxiety run down her spinal column as she poured it into the cups. Aunt Joanna, my grandmother's sister, was the oracle of the settlement on social matters, and by tacit consent, all awaited until she had first tasted the new beverage. Each felt that a great event was at hand, and the fate of Gunpowder tea was about to be settled, once and forever, in that settlement. So Aunt Joanna, fully alive to a sense of her position and responsibility, with great deliberation took a generous sip of the candidate for social favor. Her eyes filled with tears; she coughed furiously behind her handkerchief, and a spasm of disgust and nausea went to her very toes. Then she sat straight, grim, and silent as death. Each of the other old ladies went through about the same motions. And now grandmother, who had been puttering about, waiting upon her guests, noticed that something was wrong.
'Well, Joan, how do you like Gunpowder tea?'
'Taste it, Lois,' was all Aunt Joan would condescend to reply. She complied, taking quite a generous swallow.
'Oh! my stars!' she fairly screamed, 'What horrible stuff is this? Waugh!'
'Why, that is Gunpowder tea, Lois,' said Aunt Joan with grim sarcasm. 'Beautiful, isn't it?'
'There is some awful mistake about this,' said grandmother. 'I'll see that drunken Pete about it.'
Pete was called in. Grandmother brought the box of tea out before him and said: 'Pete, what is the matter with this tea? It has nearly poisoned us all to death. What is this black stuff mixed up with the tea?'
The Dutchman looked at it stupidly for a moment, then his mouth expanded from ear to ear, and he roared with laughter. 'Dunder und blixen, Aunt Loish, but dot vos a goot choke on you. Dot vos Gunpowder dee mitout any mishtake,' and again he howled with laughter.
The long and short of the matter was, that Pete had bought a pound of tea and a pound of gunpowder, and had put the two packages into the same pocket before getting drunk. During his drunken brawling and fighting the papers had become broken, with the result related."
The evening was balmy and beautiful, and they promenaded about the balcony until the shades of night had set in. The twinkling lights of the towns and farmhouses began to appear. They were passing over the mountainous region of southeastern Pennsylvania, and the globe had ascended to the four thousand foot level. The wind had shifted to nearly due west.
"Where are we now, Doctor?" asked Mattie.
"We are crossing the southern portion of Pennsylvania. We are traveling nearly due west. I shall seek a more northerly current to-morrow morning if this wind does not become more favorable by that time."
They finally tired of walking and sat conversing until nearly ten o'clock, when, by general consent, they retired, except Will, who remained up to keep a lookout, and to watch the barometer and thermometer.
Relating how the Beautiful Picnic Progressed.
Shortly before six o'clock all arose. The Doctor and his wife, at her earnest solicitation, ascended to the observatory to witness the sunrise. Mattie had manifested symptoms of vertigo that morning on first looking out, and decided not to go up with them. The exertion of climbing that long flight of stairs flushed the lovely face of Mrs. Jones, and her cheeks were like twin roses when they reached the observatory. Once there, she was glad to sit and rest. The Doctor opened the windows and then sat beside her. Mrs. Jones sat quiet and dumb, hands clasped, looking out upon the most glorious scene her eyes had ever beheld. The sun was just peeping above the horizon. The painting of the clouds; the variegated face of the earth; the pure, balmy atmosphere; the great globe beneath their feet; the exquisitely graceful shaft that pierced the vault nearly one hundred feet above their heads, bearing our beautiful symbol of liberty; all these, combined with the inspiration that always attends looking out upon the works of God from great elevations, thrilled the souls of the two spectators as they had never been before in their lives. Thus they sat in silence drinking in the beauties of the morning for nearly a quarter of an hour. Approaching steps upon the stairway broke the spell, and the Professor and Fred stepped into the observatory. As they looked out upon the transcendent loveliness of the scene, the Professor raised his hands above his head and cried: "'What is man, that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him? Thou hast made him little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.' You told us yesterday that you never felt so little as when you looked out from this magnificent aerie; but I declare to you, Doctor, that I feel now that God has made man a wonderful being. As we go thus sailing through these roseate skies in this most splendid creation that ever came from the hands of man, I feel like crying with old Elisha, 'My father! My father! The chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.'"
They sat a few minutes and then descended to the cabin. Mattie, Will, and Denison were upon the balcony, speculating as to what city they were rapidly approaching. Dr. Jones looked at it through his glasses, and said: "That is Columbus, the capital city of Ohio. Those great stone buildings you see there, inclosed by high stone walls, constitute the state prison. It contains at present, I believe, nearly three thousand convicts."
"The poor things!" said Mattie. "Just think of the contrast between sailing so smoothly and easily as we are doing, away above the world with all its cares and sorrows, and being incarcerated within those gloomy walls, many of them for life. I am sure that if they could become 'Children of the Skies,' they would all reform in a short time."
"No, no, Mattie," replied the Doctor, "God did infinitely more than that for man. He placed him in the garden of Eden, and he transgressed the only restrictive law laid upon him. And he became so vile that the Lord was compelled to drown them like so many rats. Beautiful and inspiring though our present circumstances and surroundings are, yet they could never change the hearts of the majority of those miserable men."
Breakfast was now announced by Sing. The bracing atmosphere of this upper region seemed to be very appetizing, for they all ate heartily.
The ship was acting splendidly, continuing at nearly the same level of the day before, and but little fuel had been burned during the night. The wind had shifted to the south, and they were sailing twenty miles an hour, due north. The Doctor rubbed his hands gleefully. "We're getting there now, ladies and gentlemen, we're getting there finely. Nothing could be better."
The sweet, happy valleys of Ohio were so exceedingly beautiful; the little towns appeared so pure and lovely to the voyagers; and the people were out in such crowds, cheering them so lustily, that our friends could do little else than sit through the day and watch them through their glasses. And numerous were the dispatches they wrote and cast from the balcony. They could see the people rushing eagerly for them, as they reached the earth.
"I wish we had a morning paper," sighed Fred. "I do not doubt that we receive some mention in it."
"That is about the only thing I have missed so far," said the Professor. "But we can well afford to forego that luxury for what we are now enjoying."
"And I really do wish we could attend church Sunday mornings," said Mattie.
"Oh! we will have a church service," replied Denison. "I notice that the Doctor has brought with him a book of sermons and a Bible. Then we have an organ, and the best choir I ever heard. The Doctor or Professor can act as parson; and, to make the thing realistic and homelike, I will pass the contribution box."
"I will see that he uses a bell punch," cried Fred. This suggestion was immediately rejected as unworthy of one of the Children of the Skies.
The Professor sat consulting a map. "We are heading straight for Cleveland," he remarked.
"I am really glad of that," said Dr. Jones. "That is my old native town, and I have not seen it for many years. The population has doubled several times since I left it, immediately after the war."
An hour or so later, as he stood upon the balcony, the Doctor suddenly shouted, "There's Cleveland! And that town this side of it is Berea, the great stone quarry place. Do you see on the north side of the town those brick and stone buildings in a campus? That is Baldwin University, where I attended school several years. You didn't dream, dear old girl," said he, tenderly and apostrophizingly to said institution of learning, "that you would ever turn out such a sky traveler as I am, did you?"
All the glasses were turned upon the University. "We shall pass directly over it," said Fred.
"They have sighted us!" cried the Doctor excitedly. "See the students pouring out of the buildings! Let's give them some messages." This they did in a liberal shower.
They had lowered to the five hundred foot level, so that a good view might be taken of the beautiful metropolis of Ohio—Cleveland. They were just about passing over it.
"What a splendid city it has grown to be," said Professor Gray.
"Yes, indeed," replied Dr. Jones. "That portion of the city," continued he, pointing with his finger, "was formerly called Brooklyn Center. I was born a mile or so from there. Yes!" he cried, looking earnestly through his glass, "I am quite sure that I can see the old two-story farmhouse where I was born. It is, sure as shooting! There is grandfather's farm where the 'Gunpowder tea' party was held that I told you of. And off here are the Heights, or South Cleveland. In 1862, when I joined the army, that was Camp Cleveland. It was then covered with rough wooden barracks, but now you see that it is densely built up with houses. My regiment, the 124th O.V.I. was in camp there three months before we went south."
"You must have been a very small soldier at that time," said Mattie.
"Yes," he replied, "I was but fifteen years old at that time. I didn't do much good or harm, for I was but a snare drummer the first two years of my soldiering, and the last year I was detailed as mounted orderly at brigade headquarters. But just see the people! Give them some messages! We shall be out of 'Yankee Doodle' land very soon."
So the half million (more or less) of Clevelanders were treated to a shower of greetings.
"If I had thought sooner, I would have dropped anchor here and given my old townies a handshake," said the Doctor.
"Too late now, Doctor. We have passed the principal portion of the city, and will be above Lake Erie in two or three minutes."
"Yes, yes, I see," sighed the Doctor. "But we may see you again. Good-bye, Cleveland."
The blue water of Lake Erie was now rolling beneath them. Steamers and sail vessels thickly dotted the face of the beautiful lake; for the traffic and travel upon these great inland seas are exceedingly large. The Canadian shores were visible, and when Sing announced dinner, the splendid domain of Her Majesty Victoria, Ontario, lay widespread before them. It was hard to realize that they were not still in their own land, so much like it did the peaceful towns, villages, and farms appear.
After dinner, the five men, in the little smoking-room, lighted their pipes and cigars, and entered into a general chat.
"If this wind holds, we shall be in the Arctics in two or three days," said Will.
"I suppose that we shall then be obliged to get out our furs," replied Fred.
"No," returned the architect. "These walls are double as well as the floor, with air chambers between, and I can turn hot air into them at pleasure. The windows and doors are all double, also, and Jack Frost can never penetrate this cabin."
"What a contrast between this luxurious sail through the sky, and the buffetings upon sea and land, the hunger, cold, and oftentimes death, suffered by former Arctic explorers," said the Professor. "And, Doctor," he continued, "if we make a successful trip, the matter of aerial navigation will have been settled. What a power this ship would have been in the late war of the Rebellion."
"The war would have been very quickly terminated if our globe had been in existence at that time," returned Dr. Jones. "We could have sailed above the reach of their best guns and dropped bombs upon them that would have destroyed their forts, gunboats, and armies at will. But I am glad things were as they were. We fought a fair fight to the finish, and settled forever the question of human slavery in America. Had the first few battles of the war been won by the North, the South might have laid down their arms, and have been permitted to retain their institution of slavery. When Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, I remember that even we soldiers in the field received the news with a sort of shock, and thought our President over-bold. We had not thought of that extreme measure as a result of the war. We were simply out to preserve the Union."
"And right well you did it, Doctor," said Denison. "I have always noticed in reading the history of that war, that in the latter part of it you fought with much greater skill and judgment than you did in the first year or two."
"That is quite true, and nothing more than what might have been expected," replied Dr. Jones. "It is marvelous what we accomplished with an absolutely empty treasury, no credit, no standing army to speak of, and our little navy scattered to the four ends of the earth. The vast, splendidly drilled armies which we brought into existence as if by magic, were the wonder of the world. We had everything to learn, both North and South, in the matter of logistics. Long lines of communications had to be kept open, and such splendid raiders as John Morgan, Forest, Mosby, etc., were not slow to break them frequently, so that I remember going to bed supperless many times after a hard day's march, because our rations had been captured and burned. Our wagon trains were something immense, while the big Bell tents were in use; but after what were called by the boys 'pup tents,' or 'dog tents,' were introduced, the wagon trains were cut down at least three-fourths. For the pup tents we carried upon our backs, and so dispensed with the great Bell tents that were hauled in wagons. Our trains had been so large and cumbersome that military movements were inconceivably slow, and the war could never have been fought to a successful issue by the North on those lines."
"I suppose, Doctor, that you were in some of the great battles?" asked Fred.
"Yes, I was in the battles of Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, through the Atlantic campaign; then under General Geo. H. Thomas we marched back into Tennessee, fought a desperate battle at Franklin, and a few weeks later annihilated the army at Nashville. While we were doing this, Sherman was making his renowned march to the sea. But I'll spin you some of my experiences before we get back home. Let's join the ladies."
"I should never tire hearing your war stories," said Fred.
"Yes; and you would be the first one to go to sleep if I should tell you of the battle of Chickamauga or Missionary Ridge."
This Fred stoutly denied. "All right," said the Doctor. "I'll test you one of these evenings."
"The sooner the better," replied Fred. "And now let's have some music."
They sang several anthems and choruses, and all retired at an early hour, except Denison, who stood watch.
In the Heart of Labrador.
The central room of the cabin was called the 'engine room.' It was fifteen feet square, with a hole three feet in diameter in one corner, now securely covered. It was used for lowering or hoisting objects through while the globe was at anchor. An aluminum frame or cage, attached to a windlass by a chain of the same material, was used for this purpose. A powerful coil steel spring operated the windlass. In each of the other corners of the room were anchors of aluminum, also attached to windlasses and worked by steel springs. There was a dynamo that afforded abundance of light for the ship. This, too, was run by spring power. The rooms of the cabin were brilliantly lighted, and the spiral stairway, from the foot of the mast which stood upon the center of the floor of the engine-room, was illuminated by several lights, up to the observatory itself. At the top, or ball of the mast, was a light of thirty-two hundred candle power. Altogether, the ship must have been at night an object of terrific splendor to the observer below.
Will was the originator of the steel-springs motor idea, and he daily attended to winding them with great faithfulness and pride. And it was a most invaluable adjunct to the comfort and success of the expedition, as will be seen before the end of this history is reached.
At daylight, on the following morning, all were up and looking out upon wild Canadian forests. Here and there were small towns and settlements, but they realized that they were fast hastening beyond the pale of civilization. The wind had moved during the night into the southwest, and the Professor informed them that they were sailing at the rate of more than thirty miles an hour.
"If this wind will only continue, we shall not be long reaching our destination," said the Doctor. "While I am enjoying the trip splendidly, yet I am anxious to reach the Pole as soon as possible. After that we will start on a general sightseeing tour. But until I have planted our aluminum shaft exactly upon the north end of the earth's axis, sightseeing is but incidental and secondary."
All day they skimmed like a frigate bird across the face of Canada, at an altitude of about two thousand feet. All were delighted with the behavior of the ship. Her capacity for floating and retaining heat far exceeded their most sanguine expectations.
It was interesting to watch the fast changing appearance of the country, and they could note that the timber was rapidly growing smaller. Clearings and settlements became more and more rare, and as the day closed they were looking upon primitive, unbroken forests, known only to hunters, both white and red.
Another night passed without incident. The wind held all night in the same quarter. On the following morning the beautiful ship was enveloped in a dense fog. "We are in the midst of a great cloud," said Professor Gray.
"I think we will rise a few hundred feet and see if we can get out of it," replied Dr. Jones.
The temperature within the globe was raised a few degrees, and the ship rapidly rose to twenty-five hundred feet altitude. This carried them high above the clouds, and it was with new and strange sensations that our aerial navigators looked down upon the dense cloud that obscured the face of the earth from their view. The sun, meantime, was shining with what seemed to them greatly increased splendor in this super-cloud region.
"Well, girls," cried the Doctor, "I am for some exercise. Who will mount with me to the observatory?"
They each assented, and a few moments later were sitting in that elevated place, very warm and breathless from the unwonted exercise of the long climb. This was Mattie's first visit to the observatory, and her eyes dilated with terror as she looked over the rolling sides of the massive globe.
"O, Doctor, Doctor! isn't this perfectly awful! Think of what the very slightest mistake or mishap would do. We should go flying down through those clouds, and be dashed to pieces in those uninhabited Canadian forests. And I suppose that our friends would never hear of us again.
"Tut, tut, Mattie. Cheer up, little girl," said the doctor, very soothingly, and patting her head with his steady, strong hand. "No mishap is possible. We cannot explode, collapse, burn, collide, nor capsize. No enterprise ever entered upon by man possessed so much of interest and importance, and was attended by so little of the element of danger. You were never safer in your life than you are at this moment. Think of it! Here we are above the clouds, the world with all its care and heartaches shut out, basking in this glorious sunlight, sailing on in this clear, bracing, microbeless atmosphere. The clouds beneath our feet, the sun above our heads, and God's empyrean all about us. What can be more inspiring and grand? How does the chorus of that old hymn run?
'Let us look above the clouds, Above the clouds, above the clouds; Up above the stormy clouds To fairer worlds on high.'"
The Doctor sang this simple chorus in his great sonorous voice that rang out over the clouds like a bugle blast.
"Well, I declare Doctor, you will not let me get into a real good fright," cried Mattie, smiling through eyes filled with tears.
"No, indeed, I will not, Mattie. The only fear I have now is that we may keep breakfast waiting. Let's descend."
The forenoon passed away very uneventfully. About the middle of the afternoon they were treated to a splendid spectacle. A terrific thunder storm raged beneath them; and as they looked below into the inky depths of the thunder clouds, pierced and riven by jagged lightnings, followed by deafening bellowings and crashings of thunder, and then cast their eyes up to the sun shining in full-orbed splendor over all, they realized as never before the presence and majesty of Omnipotence.
At four o'clock, P.M. the storm clouds cleared away, and the bleak, uninviting face of Labrador was plainly visible. The ship had settled to an altitude of fifteen hundred feet, and was moving northeasterly at the rate of thirty miles an hour.
"Isn't that a settlement I see ahead a few miles?" asked Will.
The Doctor and Professor Gray decided that it must be a fort or trading post. The ship, meantime, was lowering quite rapidly, and was but eight hundred feet above the earth.
"I have a mind to drop anchor at that fort for the night," said Dr. Jones. "Some fresh meat, especially game and fish, would not be at all bad to take. What do you all say?"
A general desire was expressed to do so.
They could see that the inhabitants of the place were greatly excited, and were running to and fro. The globe was lowered to within three hundred feet of the earth. As they neared the spot, two of the anchors were dropped, and soon caught in the birch tree tops. The ship strained tremendously at the cables for a moment or two, and then rode easily at anchorage, three hundred feet above the buildings.
"Fort ahoy!" shouted the Doctor.
"Ahoy!" replied a hoarse voice.
"What fort is this?"
"This is not a fort, but Constance House."
"Well, we are a party bound for the North Pole, and we wish to buy some provisions."
"All right. Come down, and we will do the best we can for you. But I think you have scared everybody on the place about to death."
The spring power was turned on, and the windlasses drew the globe to within one hundred feet of the earth. Then the Doctor and Denison descended in the cage. They met a splendidly built, large man, dressed in a semi-arctic suit of woolens and furs. The two voyagers introduced themselves, explained their business, and they were received very cordially by this man, John Barton, the proprietor and owner of Constance House. He invited the whole company to descend and make themselves at home as long as they desired to remain. So two by two they descended, Sing also joining the group below. The anchors were lashed to the trunks of the trees to prevent accidents from sudden gusts of wind.
They found Constance House to be a large one-story stone building, which served for both residence and storeroom. One-half of it was devoted to the storage of provisions, clothing, and such other goods as are required by hunters and trappers. These Mr. Barton exchanged for furs with said hunters and trappers. Hunting, trapping, and fishing constituted the sole business of the simple-minded inhabitants. Here they are born, live, die contentedly, knowing little of and caring nothing about the great world which the most of us are so anxious to possess.