Five Weeks in a Balloon
Strange Sounds.--A Night Attack.--Kennedy and Joe in the Tree.--Two Shots.--"Help!
help!"--Reply in French.--The Morning.--The Missionary. --The Plan of Rescue.
The night came on very dark. The doctor had not been able to reconnoitre the country. He
had made fast to a very tall tree, from which he could distinguish only a confused mass
through the gloom.
As usual, he took the nine-o'clock watch, and at midnight Dick relieved him.
"Keep a sharp lookout, Dick!" was the doctor's good-night injunction.
"Is there any thing new on the carpet?"
"No; but I thought that I heard vague sounds below us, and, as I don't exactly know where
the wind has carried us to, even an excess of caution would do no harm."
"You've probably heard the cries of wild beasts."
"No! the sounds seemed to me something altogether different from that; at all events, on
the least alarm don't fail to waken us."
"I'll do so, doctor; rest easy."
After listening attentively for a moment or two longer, the doctor, hearing nothing more,
threw himself on his blankets and went asleep.
The sky was covered with dense clouds, but not a breath of air was stirring; and the
balloon, kept in its place by only a single anchor, experienced not the slightest oscillation.
Kennedy, leaning his elbow on the edge of the car, so as to keep an eye on the cylinder,
which was actively at work, gazed out upon the calm obscurity; he eagerly scanned the
horizon, and, as often happens to minds that are uneasy or possessed with preconceived
notions, he fancied that he sometimes detected vague gleams of light in the distance.
At one moment he even thought that he saw them only two hundred paces away, quite
distinctly, but it was a mere flash that was gone as quickly as it came, and he noticed
nothing more. It was, no doubt, one of those luminous illusions that sometimes impress
the eye in the midst of very profound darkness.
Kennedy was getting over his nervousness and falling into his wandering meditations
again, when a sharp whistle pierced his ear.
Was that the cry of an animal or of a night-bird, or did it come from human lips?