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قراءة كتاب Five Thousand Miles Underground; Or, the Mystery of the Centre of the Earth

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‏اللغة: English
Five Thousand Miles Underground; Or, the Mystery of the Centre of the Earth

Five Thousand Miles Underground; Or, the Mystery of the Centre of the Earth

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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other help than that which the boys, Washington and Bill and Tom could give, since the two latter accepted an offer of the professor to remain and work for him. The boys, of course, would not leave their friend.

The professor realized that he had a more difficult task in his new venture than he had set himself on other occasions. For a ship to be light enough to rise in the air, and, at another time, and with no change, to be strong enough to navigate the ocean, was indeed something to tax Mr. Henderson’s ingenuity.

However, in the course of a little over a year the larger part of the work was done. Inside the big shed was the huge affair which, it was hoped, would enable its owner to be master of both air and water.

“Did the professor say anything special?” asked Mark of Washington.

“Nope. I reckon he were too busy problamatin’ the exact altitude projected in an inverse direction by th’ square root of th’ new engine when operated at a million times inside of a few seconds, but he didn’t say nothin’ t’ me. I were busy underneath th’ ship, fixin’ bolts when he tole me t’ find yo’. I wouldn’t be s’prised if he had th’ thing goin’ soon.”

“Do you think he’ll be generating the new gas to-day?” asked Jack eagerly. “That’s the most troublesome part; to get that gas right.”

“He didn’t say nothin’ t’ me 'bout it,” Washington stated, as he walked along beside the two boys. “He jest seemed anxious like.”

“We’d better hurry,” advised Mark. “He may be at an important part in his experiments and probably needs us. I hope it will work. He has spent many days on it, and we all have worked hard. It ought to be a success.”

“Perfesser allers makes things work,” declared Washington stoutly.

“That’s a good way to feel about it, anyway,” observed Mark. “Well, we’ll soon know.”

The three hurried to the shed which they could see as they rounded a turn of the path through the wood. They noticed an elderly man approaching with a gun on his shoulder. On one arm he carried a game bag.

“Guess Andy got something for dinner,” remarked Jack.

“I hopes so, honey,” put in Washington. “I’se got a sort of gone feelin’ in my stomach!”

“Any luck, Andy?” called Mark, when he came within hailing distance.

“Fine,” replied Andy Sudds. “Rabbits and quail. We’ll have a good dinner to-morrow.”

While Andy entered the living part of the big shed to put away his gun and game, the boys and Washington kept on to the engine room. They found the professor, with Bill and Tom, busy fitting pipes to the small engine which was set up at one side of the structure.

“Come, boys, I need your aid,” remarked Mr. Henderson as they entered. “Take off your coats and pitch in. Tighten up these bolts, Jack. Mark, you mix up those chemicals the way I taught you, and see that the dynamo is in working order for Washington to attend to.”

In a little while the shop was a veritable hive of industry, and it resounded to the sound of hammers, wrenches and machinery. In the background was the big ship, which seemed like two immense cigars, one above the other, the lower one the larger.

“Where was you calalatin’ t’ take this here ship when it gits done, Perfesser?” asked Washington, during a lull in the operations.

“Do you remember that big hole in the island we visited on our trip to the south pole?”

“I suah does,” answered the colored man.

“We are going to explore that,” went on the scientist. “We are going to make a voyage to the interior of the earth in our Flying Mermaid.”

“Go down into th’ earth!” exclaimed Washington, his eyes big with fright.

“Certainly; why not?”

“Not for mine!” cried the colored man, dropping the wrench he was holding. “No sir! I’m not goin’ t’ project myself int’ a grave while I’se alive. Time enough when I kicks th’ bucket. No sir! If yo’ an’ the boys wants t’ risk yo’ se’ves goin’ down int’ th’ interior of th’ earth, where th’ Bible says there’s fiery furnaces, yo’ kin go, but Washington White stays on terra cotta! That’s where he stays; He ain’t ready t’ be buried, not jest yet!” and the frightened colored man started to leave the shed.

CHAPTER II

THE FLYING MERMAID

“Here! Stop him!” cried Professor Henderson. “Don’t let him get away. We still need his help to get the ship in shape. He needn’t be frightened. We’re not going to start at once.”

Mark and Jack ran after Washington, whose progress was somewhat impeded because he kept looking back as if he feared the new ship was chasing him.

“Come on back!” said Mark. “There’s no danger, and if there was we’re not going to start to-day.”

“Ain’t yo’ foolin’ me?” asked Washington, pausing and looking doubtfully at the boys.

“Of course not,” answered Mark. “You know Professor Henderson would not make you do anything you didn’t want to do, Wash. He wishes you to stay and help him get ready, that’s all.”

“Well, Washington,” observed the aged scientist. “I didn’t think you’d go back on me.”

“I’d do mos’ anything fer yo’, Perfesser,” said the colored man, “but I got t’ beg off this time,” and he looked at the Flying Mermaid as if he thought the metal sides would open and devour him.

“Then help me get things in shape to generate the gas,” the scientist said. “I want to give the new vapor the first real test in lifting power to-day. On the success of it depends the future of the ship.”

Seeing there was no immediate danger of being carried to the centre of the earth, Washington resumed his labors. The professor, the boys, Bill and Tom were also hurrying matters to enable a test to be made before night.

As will readily be seen, even by those not familiar with the construction of airships and submarines, the chief problem was to find some agent strong enough to lift from the earth a weight heavier than had ever before been put into an apparatus that was destined to traverse the clouds. For the Flying Mermaid was not only an airship but an ocean voyager as well. It had to be made light enough to be lifted far above the earth, yet the very nature of it, necessitating it being made heavy enough to stand the buffeting of the waves and the pressure of water, was against its flying abilities.

Professor Henderson realized this and knew that the chief concern would be to discover a gas or vapor with five times the lifting power of hydrogen, one of the lightest gases known, and one sometimes used to inflate balloons.

After long study he had been partially successful, but he knew from experiments made that the gas he had so far been able to manufacture would not answer. What he wanted was some element that could be mixed with the gas, to neutralize the attraction of gravitation, or downward pull of the earth.

While he was seeking this, and experimenting on many lines, the construction of the air-water ship went on. In general the outward construction was two cigar shaped hulls, one above the other. Aluminum, being the lightest and strongest metal that could be used for the purpose, formed the main part of both bodies.

The upper hull was one hundred feet long and twenty feet in diameter at the widest part. It tapered to points at either end. It was attached to the lower hull by strong braces, at either end, while from the center there extended a pipe which connected with the lower section. This pipe was intended to convey the lifting gas to the part which corresponded to the bag of the balloon, save that it was of metal instead of silk, or rubber as is usual.

There were two reasons for this. One was that it would not be liable to puncture, particularly in the proposed underground trip, and the other was that it did not

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