From the Earth to the Moon HTML version
Chapter 13. Stones Hill
When the decision was arrived at by the Gun Club, to the disparagement of Texas, every
one in America, where reading is a universal acquirement, set to work to study the
geography of Florida. Never before had there been such a sale for works like "Bertram's
Travels in Florida," "Roman's Natural History of East and West Florida," "William's
Territory of Florida," and "Cleland on the Cultivation of the Sugar-Cane in Florida." It
became necessary to issue fresh editions of these works.
Barbicane had something better to do than to read. He desired to see things with his own
eyes, and to mark the exact position of the proposed gun. So, without a moment's loss of
time, he placed at the disposal of the Cambridge Observatory the funds necessary for the
construction of a telescope, and entered into negotiations with the house of Breadwill and
Co., of Albany, for the construction of an aluminum projectile of the required size. He
then quitted Baltimore, accompanied by J. T. Maston, Major Elphinstone, and the
manager of the Coldspring factory.
On the following day, the four fellow-travelers arrived at New Orleans. There they
immediately embarked on board the Tampico, a despatch-boat belonging to the Federal
navy, which the government had placed at their disposal; and, getting up steam, the banks
of Louisiana speedily disappeared from sight.
The passage was not long. Two days after starting, the Tampico, having made four
hundred and eighty miles, came in sight of the coast of Florida. On a nearer approach
Barbicane found himself in view of a low, flat country of somewhat barren aspect. After
coasting along a series of creeks abounding in lobsters and oysters, the Tampico entered
the bay of Espiritu Santo, where she finally anchored in a small natural harbor, formed by
the embouchure of the River Hillisborough, at seven P.M., on the 22d of October.
Our four passengers disembarked at once. "Gentlemen," said Barbicane, "we have no
time to lose; tomorrow we must obtain horses, and proceed to reconnoiter the country."
Barbicane had scarcely set his foot on shore when three thousand of the inhabitants of
Tampa Town came forth to meet him, an honor due to the president who had signalized
their country by his choice.
Declining, however, every kind of ovation, Barbicane ensconced himself in a room of the
On the morrow some of the small horses of the Spanish breed, full of vigor and of fire,
stood snorting under his windows; but instead of four steeds, here were fifty, together
with their riders. Barbicane descended with his three fellow- travelers; and much
astonished were they all to find themselves in the midst of such a cavalcade. He remarked
that every horseman carried a carbine slung across his shoulders and pistols in his