A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version
North Atlantic squadron, and the ships on the home station, which they knew were
watching them through their glasses.
"I see," said Cortlandt, "that Deepwaters has been as good as his word, and has his ships
on the watch to rescue us in case we fail."
"Yes," replied Bearwarden, "he is the right sort. When he gave that promise I knew his
men would be there."
They soon perceived that they had reached the void of space, for, though the sun blazed
with a splendour they had never before seen, the firmament was intensely black, and the
stars shone as at midnight. Here they began to change their course to a curve beginning
with a spiral, by charging the Callisto apergetically, and directing the current towards the
moon, to act as an aid to the lunar attraction, while still allowing the earth to repel, and
their motion gradually became the resultant of the two forces, the change from a straight
line being so gradual, however, that for some minutes they scarcely perceived it. The
coronal streamers about the sun, such as are visible on earth during a total eclipse, shone
with a halo against the ultra-Cimmerian background, bursting forth to a height of twenty
or thirty thousand miles above the surface in vast cyclonic storms, producing so rapid a
motion that a column of incandescent gas may move ten thousand miles in less than ten
minutes. Whether these great streaks were in part electrical phenomena similar to the
aurora borealis, or entirely of intensely heated material thrown up by explosions within
the sun's mass, they could not tell even from their point of vantage.
"I believe," said Cortlandt, pointing to the streamers, "that they are masses of gas thrown
beyond the sun's atmosphere, which expand enormously when the pressure to which they
are subjected in the sun is removed--for only in space freed from resistance could they
move at such velocities, and that their brilliancy is increased by great electrical
disturbance. If they were entirely the play of electrical forces, their change of place would
be practically instantaneous, which, however rapid their movement, is not the case."