Five Weeks in a Balloon
The Celestial Bottle.--The Fig-Palms.--The Mammoth Trees.--The Tree of War.--The
Winged Team.--Two Native Tribes in Battle.--A Massacre.--An Intervention from above.
The wind had become violent and irregular; the balloon was running the gantlet through
the air. Tossed at one moment toward the north, at another toward the south, it could not
find one steady current.
"We are moving very swiftly without advancing much," said Kennedy, remarking the
frequent oscillations of the needle of the compass.
"The balloon is rushing at the rate of at least thirty miles an hour. Lean over, and see how
the country is gliding away beneath us!" said the doctor.
"See! that forest looks as though it were precipitating itself upon us!"
"The forest has become a clearing!" added the other.
"And the clearing a village!" continued Joe, a moment or two later. "Look at the faces of
those astonished darkys!"
"Oh! it's natural enough that they should be astonished," said the doctor. "The French
peasants, when they first saw a balloon, fired at it, thinking that it was an aerial monster.
A Soudan negro may be excused, then, for opening his eyes VERY wide!"
"Faith!" said Joe, as the Victoria skimmed closely along the ground, at scarcely the
elevation of one hundred feet, and immediately over a village, "I'll throw them an empty
bottle, with your leave, doctor, and if it reaches them safe and sound, they'll worship it; if
it breaks, they'll make talismans of the pieces."
So saying, he flung out a bottle, which, of course, was broken into a thousand fragments,
while the negroes scampered into their round huts, uttering shrill cries.
A little farther on, Kennedy called out: "Look at that strange tree! The upper part is of
one kind and the lower part of another!"
"Well!" said Joe, "here's a country where the trees grow on top of each other."
"It's simply the trunk of a fig-tree," replied the doctor, "on which there is a little
vegetating earth. Some fine day, the wind left the seed of a palm on it, and the seed has
taken root and grown as though it were on the plain ground."
"A fine new style of gardening," said Joe, "and I'll import the idea to England. It would
be just the thing in the London parks; without counting that it would be another way to