Robur the Conqueror
Chapter 5. Another Disappearance
This was not the first occasion on which, at the end of their stormy discussions,
the members of the Weldon Institute had filled Walnut Street and its
neighborhood with their tumult. Several times had the inhabitants complained of
the noisy way in which the proceedings ended, and more than once had the
policemen had to interfere to clear the thoroughfare for the passersby, who for
the most part were supremely indifferent on the question of aerial navigation. But
never before had the tumult attained such proportions, never had the complaints
been better founded, never had the intervention of the police been more
But there was some excuse for the members of the Weldon Institute. They had
been attacked in their own house. To these enthusiasts for "lighter than air" a no
less enthusiast for "heavier than air" had said things absolutely abhorrent. And at
the moment they were about to treat him as he deserved, he had disappeared.
So they cried aloud for vengeance. To leave such insults unpunished was
impossible to all with American blood in their veins. Had not the sons of Amerigo
been called the sons of Cabot? Was not that an insult as unpardonable as it
happened to be just--historically?
The members of the club in several groups rushed down Walnut Street, then into
the adjoining streets, and then all over the neighborhood. They woke up the
householders; they compelled them to search their houses, prepared to
indemnify them later on for the outrage on their privacy. Vain were all their
trouble and searching. Robur was nowhere to be found; there was no trace of
him. He might have gone off in the "Go-Ahead," the balloon of the Institute, for all
they could tell. After an hour's hunt the members had to give in and separate, not
before they had agreed to extend their search over the whole territory of the twin
Americas that form the new continent.
By eleven o'clock quiet had been restored in the neighborhood of Walnut Street.
Philadelphia was able to sink again into that sound sleep which is the privilege of
non-manufacturing towns. The different members of the club parted to seek their
respective houses. To mention the most distinguished amongst them, William T.
Forbes sought his large sugar establishment, where Miss Doll and Miss Mat had
prepared for him his evening tea, sweetened with his own glucose. Truck Milnor
took the road to his factory in the distant suburb, where the engines worked day
and night. Treasurer Jim Chip, publicly accused of possessing an alimentary
canal twelve, inches longer than that of other men, returned to the vegetable
soup that was waiting for him.
Two of the most important balloonists--two only--did not seem to think of
returning so soon to their domicile. They availed themselves of the opportunity to
discuss the question with more than usual acrimony. These were the
irreconcilables, Uncle Prudent and Phil Evans, the president and secretary of the