A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version

At last the preparations were completed, and it was arranged that the Callisto should
begin its journey at eleven o'clock A. M., December 21st--the northern hemisphere's
shortest day.
Though six months' operations could hardly be expected to have produced much change
in the inclination of the earth's axis, the autumn held on wonderfully, and December was
pronounced very mild. Fully a million people were in and about Van Cortlandt Park
hours before the time announced for the start, and those near looked inquiringly at the
trim little air-ship, that, having done well on the trial trip, rested on her longitudinal and
transverse keels, with a battery of chemicals alongside, to make sure of a full power
The President and his Cabinet--including, of course, the shining lights of the State and
Navy Departments--came from Washington. These, together with Mr. and Mrs. Preston,
and a number of people with passes, occupied seats arranged at the sides of the platform;
while sightseers and scientists assembled from every part of the world.
"There's a ship for you!" said Secretary Stillman to the Secretary of the Navy. "She'll not
have to be dry-docked for barnacles, neither will the least breeze make the passengers
"That's all you landlubbers think of," replied Deepwaters. "I remember one of the kings
over in Europe said to me, as he introduced me to the queen: 'Your Secretary of State is a
great man, but why does he always part his hair in the middle?'
"'So that it shall not turn his head,' I replied.
"'But with so gallant and handsome an officer as you to lean upon,' he answered, 'I should
think he could look down on all the world.' Whereupon I asked him what he'd take to
"Your apology is accepted," replied Secretary Stillman.
Cortlandt also came from Washington, where, as chief of the Government's Expert
Examiners Board, he had temporary quarters. Bearwarden sailed over the spectators'
heads in one of the Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company's flying machines, while
Ayrault, to avoid the crowd, had come to the Callisto early, and was showing the interior
arrangements to Sylvia, who had accompanied him. She was somewhat piqued because at
the last moment he had not absolutely insisted on carrying her off, or offered, if
necessary, to displace his presidential and Doctor-of-Laws friends in order to make room.