Five Weeks in a Balloon
Kennedy's Dreams.--Articles and Pronouns in the Plural.--Dick's Insinuations. --A
Promenade over the Map of Africa.--What is contained between two Points of the
Compass.--Expeditions now on foot.--Speke and Grant.--Krapf, De Decken, and De
Dr. Ferguson energetically pushed the preparations for his departure, and in person
superintended the construction of his balloon, with certain modifications; in regard to
which he observed the most absolute silence. For a long time past he had been applying
himself to the study of the Arab language and the various Mandingoe idioms, and, thanks
to his talents as a polyglot, he had made rapid progress.
In the mean while his friend, the sportsman, never let him out of his sight--afraid, no
doubt, that the doctor might take his departure, without saying a word to anybody. On
this subject, he regaled him with the most persuasive arguments, which, however, did
NOT persuade Samuel Ferguson, and wasted his breath in pathetic entreaties, by which
the latter seemed to be but slightly moved. In fine, Dick felt that the doctor was slipping
through his fingers.
The poor Scot was really to be pitied. He could not look upon the azure vault without a
sombre terror: when asleep, he felt oscillations that made his head reel; and every night
he had visions of being swung aloft at immeasurable heights.
We must add that, during these fearful nightmares, he once or twice fell out of bed. His
first care then was to show Ferguson a severe contusion that he had received on the
cranium. "And yet," he would add, with warmth, "that was at the height of only three
feet--not an inch more--and such a bump as this! Only think, then!"
This insinuation, full of sad meaning as it was, did not seem to touch the doctor's heart.
"We'll not fall," was his invariable reply.
"But, still, suppose that we WERE to fall!"
"We will NOT fall!"
This was decisive, and Kennedy had nothing more to say.
What particularly exasperated Dick was, that the doctor seemed completely to lose sight
of his personality-- of his--Kennedy's--and to look upon him as irrevocably destined to
become his aerial companion. Not even the shadow of a doubt was ever suggested; and
Samuel made an intolerable misuse of the first person plural:
"'We' are getting along; 'we' shall be ready on the ----; 'we' shall start on the ----," etc., etc.