Five Weeks in a Balloon
The Jet of Light.--The Missionary.--The Rescue in a Ray of Electricity.--A Lazarist
Priest.--But little Hope.--The Doctor's Care.--A Life of Self-Denial. --Passing a Volcano.
Dr. Ferguson darted his powerful electric jet toward various points of space, and caused it
to rest on a spot from which shouts of terror were heard. His companions fixed their gaze
eagerly on the place.
The baobab, over which the balloon was hanging almost motionless, stood in the centre
of a clearing, where, between fields of Indian-corn and sugar-cane, were seen some fifty
low, conical huts, around which swarmed a numerous tribe.
A hundred feet below the balloon stood a large post, or stake, and at its foot lay a human
being--a young man of thirty years or more, with long black hair, half naked, wasted and
wan, bleeding, covered with wounds, his head bowed over upon his breast, as Christ's
was, when He hung upon the cross.
The hair, cut shorter on the top of his skull, still indicated the place of a half-effaced
"A missionary! a priest!" exclaimed Joe.
"Poor, unfortunate man!" said Kennedy.
"We must save him, Dick!" responded the doctor; "we must save him!"
The crowd of blacks, when they saw the balloon over their heads, like a huge comet with
a train of dazzling light, were seized with a terror that may be readily imagined. Upon
hearing their cries, the prisoner raised his head. His eyes gleamed with sudden hope, and,
without too thoroughly comprehending what was taking place, he stretched out his hands
to his unexpected deliverers.
"He is alive!" exclaimed Ferguson. "God be praised! The savages have got a fine scare,
and we shall save him! Are you ready, friends?"
"Ready, doctor, at the word."
"Joe, shut off the cylinder!"
The doctor's order was executed. An almost imperceptible breath of air impelled the
balloon directly over the prisoner, at the same time that it gently lowered with the
contraction of the gas. For about ten minutes it remained floating in the midst of
luminous waves, for Ferguson continued to flash right down upon the throng his glowing
sheaf of rays, which, here and there, marked out swift and vivid sheets of light. The tribe,