Five Weeks in a Balloon
The Mountains of the Moon.--An Ocean of Verdure.--They cast Anchor.--The Towing
Elephant.--A Running Fire.--Death of the Monster.--The Field-Oven.--A Meal on the
Grass.--A Night on the Ground.
About four in the morning, Monday, the sun reappeared in the horizon; the clouds had
dispersed, and a cheery breeze refreshed the morning dawn.
The earth, all redolent with fragrant exhalations, reappeared to the gaze of our travellers.
The balloon, whirled about by opposing currents, had hardly budged from its place, and
the doctor, letting the gas contract, descended so as to get a more northerly direction. For
a long while his quest was fruitless; the wind carried him toward the west until he came
in sight of the famous Mountains of the Moon, which grouped themselves in a semicircle
around the extremity of Lake Tanganayika; their ridges, but slightly indented, stood out
against the bluish horizon, so that they might have been mistaken for a natural
fortification, not to be passed by the explorers of the centre of Africa. Among them were
a few isolated cones, revealing the mark of the eternal snows.
"Here we are at last," said the doctor, "in an unexplored country! Captain Burton pushed
very far to the westward, but he could not reach those celebrated mountains; he even
denied their existence, strongly as it was affirmed by Speke, his companion. He
pretended that they were born in the latter's fancy; but for us, my friends, there is no
further doubt possible."
"Shall we cross them?" asked Kennedy.
"Not, if it please God. I am looking for a wind that will take me back toward the equator.
I will even wait for one, if necessary, and will make the balloon like a ship that casts
anchor, until favorable breezes come up."
But the foresight of the doctor was not long in bringing its reward; for, after having tried
different heights, the Victoria at length began to sail off to the northeastward with
"We are in the right track," said the doctor, consulting his compass, "and scarcely two
hundred feet from the surface; lucky circumstances for us, enabling us, as they do, to
reconnoitre these new regions. When Captain Speke set out to discover Lake Ukereoue,
he ascended more to the eastward in a straight line above Kazeh."
"Shall we keep on long in this way?" inquired the Scot.
"Perhaps. Our object is to push a point in the direction of the sources of the Nile; and we
have more than six hundred miles to make before we get to the extreme limit reached by
the explorers who came from the north."