A Journey in Other Worlds
by
J. J. Astor

Part 6 out of 6



They drew up the ladder and turned on the current, and the
Callisto slowly began to rise, while the three friends crowded
the window.

"Good-bye!" called the spirit's pleasant voice, to which the men
replied in chorus.

The sun had set on the surface of the planet while they made
their preparations; but as the Callisto rose higher, it seemed to
rise again, making the sides of their car shine like silver, and,
carefully closing the two open windows, they watched the
fast-receding world, so many times larger and more magnificent
than their own.



CHAPTER XV.

MOTHER EARTH.

"There is something sad," said Cortlandt, "about the end of
everything, but I am more sorry to leave Saturn than I have ever
been in taking leave of any other place."

When beyond the limits of the atmosphere they applied the full
current, and were soon once more cleaving the ether at cometary
speed, their motion towards the sun being aided by that great
body itself.

They quickly passed beyond the outer edge of the vast silvery
rings, and then crossed one after another the orbits of the
moons, from the last of which, Iapetus, they obtained their final
course in the direction of the earth. They had an acute feeling
of homesickness for the mysterious planet on which, while yet
mortal, they had found paradise, and had communed with spirits as
no modern men ever did.

Without deviating from their almost straight line, they passed
within a million miles of Jupiter, which had gained in its
smaller orbit on Saturn, and a few days later crossed the track
of Mars.

As the earth had completed nearly half a revolution in its orbit
since their departure, they here turned somewhat to the right by
attracting the ruddy planet, in order to avoid passing too near
the sun.

"On some future expedition," said Ayrault, "and when we have a
supply of blue glasses, we can take a trip to Venus, if we can
find a possible season in her year. Compared with this journey,
it would be only like going round the block."

Two days later they had rounded the sun, and laid their course in
pursuit of the earth.

That the astronomers in the dark hemisphere were at their posts
and saw them, was evident; for a brilliant beam of light again
flashed forth, this time from a point a little south of the
arctic circle, and after shining one minute, telegraphed this
message: "Rejoiced to see you again. Hope all are well."

Since they were not sufficiently near the moon's shadow, they
directed their light-beam into their own, which trailed off on
one side, and answered: "All well, thank you. Have wonderful
things to relate."

The men at the telescopes then, as before, read the message, and
telephoned the light this next question: "When are you coming
down, that we may notify the newspapers?"

"We wish one more sight of the earth from this height, by
daylight. We are now swinging to get between it and the sun."

"We have erected a monument in Van Cortlandt Park, and engraved
upon it, 'At this place James Bearwarden, Henry Chelmsford
Cortlandt, and Richard Rokeby Ayrault left earth, December 21, A.
D. 2000, to visit Jupiter.'"

"Add to it, 'They returned on the 10th of the following June.'"

Soon the Callisto came nearly between the earth and the sun, when
the astronomers could see it only through darkened glasses, and
it appeared almost as a crescent. The sight the travellers then
beheld was superb. It was about 11 A. M. in London, and Europe
was spread before them like a map. All its peninsulas and
islands, enclosed blue seas, and bays came out in clear relief.
Gradually Russia, Germany, France, the British Isles, and Spain
moved towards the horizon, as in grand procession, and at the
same time the Western hemisphere appeared. The hour of day at
the longitude above which they hung was about the same as when
they set out, but the sun shone far more directly upon the
Northern hemisphere than then, and instead of bleak December,
this was the leafy month of June.

They were loath to end the lovely scene, and would fain have
remained where they were while the earth revolved again; but,
remembering that their friends must by this time be waiting, they
shut off the repulsion from the earth.

"We need not apply the apergy to the earth until quite near,"
said Ayrault, "since a great part of the top speed will be taken
off by the resistance of the atmosphere, especially as we go in
base first. We have only to keep a sufficiently strong repulsion
on the dome to prevent our turning over, and to see that our
speed is not great enough to heat the car."

When about fifty miles from the surface they felt the expected
check, and concluded they had reached the upper limits of the
atmosphere. And this increased, notwithstanding the decrease in
their speed, showing how quickly the air became dense.

When about a mile from the earth they had the Callisto well in
hand, and allowed it to descend slowly. The ground was already
black with people, who, having learned where the Callisto was to
touch, had hastened to Van Cortlandt Park.

"I am overjoyed to see you," said Sylvia, when she and Ayrault
met. "I had the most dreadful presentiment that something had
gone wrong with you. One afternoon and evening I was so
perplexed, and during the night had a series of nightmares that I
shall never forget. I really believed you were near me, but your
nature seemed to have changed, for, instead of its making me
happy, I was frightfully distressed. The next day I was very
ill, and unable to get up; but during the morning I fell asleep
and had another dream, which was intensely realistic and made me
believe--yes, convinced me--that you were well. After that dream
I soon recovered; but oh, the anguish of the first!"

Ayrault did not tell her then that he had been near her, and of
his unspeakable suffering, of which hers had been but the echo.

Three weeks later a clergyman tied the knot that was to unite
them forever.

While Sylvia and Ayrault were standing up to receive the
congratulations of their friends, Bearwarden, in shaking his
hand, said:

"Remember, we have been to neither Uranus, nor Neptune, nor
Cassandra, which may be as interesting as anything we have seen.
Should you want to take another trip, count me as your humble
servant." And Cortlandt, following behind him, said the same
thing.

Shortly after this, Sylvia went up-stairs to change her dress,
and when she came down she and Ayrault set out on their journey
together through life, amid a chorus of cheers and a shower of
rice.

Cortlandt then returned to his department at Washington, and
Bearwarden resumed his duties with the Terrestrial Axis
Straightening Company, in the presidential chair.







 


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