Open main menu

The Atlantic Monthly/Volume 24/Number 146/The Brick Moon

< The Atlantic Monthly‎ | Volume 24‎ | Number 146
 

THE BRICK MOON.

[From the Papers of Colonel Frederic Ingham.]


III. FULFILMENT.


LOOKING back upon it now, it seems inconceivable that we said as little to each other as we did, of this horrible catastrophe. That night we did not pretend to sleep. We sat in one of the deserted cabins, now talking fast, now sitting and brooding, without speaking, perhaps, for hours. Riding back the next day to meet the women and children, we still brooded, or we discussed this " if," that "if," and yet others. But after we had once opened it all to them,— and when we had once answered the children's horribly naïve questions as best we could,—we very seldom spoke to each other of it again. It was too hateful, all of it, to talk about. I went round to Tom Coram's office one day, and told him all I knew. He saw it was dreadful to me, and, with his eyes full, just squeezed my hand, and never said one word more. We -lay awake nights, pondering and wondering, but hardly ever did I to Haliburton or he to me explain our respective notions as they came and went. I believe my gen- eral impression was that of which I have spoken, that they were all burned to death on the instant, as the little aero- lite fused in its passage through our atmosphere. I believe Haliburton's thought more often was that they were conscious of what had happened, and gasped out their lives in one or two breathless minutes,—so horribly long ! —as they shot outside of our atmos- phere. But it was all too terrible for words. And that which we could not but think upon, in those dreadful wak- ing nights, we scarcely whispered even to our wives.

Of course I looked and he looked for the miserable thing. But we looked in vain. I returned to the few subscrib- ers the money which I had scraped together towards whitewashing the moon,—"shrouding its guilty face with innocent white " indeed ! But we agreed to spend the wretched trifle of the other money, left in the treasury after paying the last bills, for the largest Alvan Clark telescope that we could buy ; and we were fortunate in obtain- ing cheap a second-hand one which came to the hammer when the property of the Shubael Academy was sold by the mortgagees. But we had, of course^ scarce a hint whatever as to where the miserable object was to be found. AJ1 we could do was to carry the glass to No. 9, to train it there on the meridian of No. 9, and take turns every night in watching the field, in the hope that this child of sorrow might drift across it in its path of ruin. But, though every- thing else seemed to drift by, from east to west, nothing came from south to north, as we expected. For a whole month of spring, another of autumn, another of summer, and another of win- ter, did Haliburton and his wife and Polly and I glue our eyes to that eye- glass, from the twilight of evening to the twilight of morning, and the dead hulk never hove in sight. Wherever else it was, it seemed not to be on that meridian, which was where it ought to be and was made to be ! Had ever any dead mass of matter wrought such ruin to its makers, and, of its own stupid inertia, so falsified all the prophecies of its birth ! O, the total depravity of things !

It was more than a year after the fatal night,—if it all happened in the night, as I suppose, that, as I dream- ily read through the " Astronomical Record " in the new reading-room of the College Library at Cambridge, I lighted on this scrap:—

"Professor Karl Zitta of Breslau writes to the Astronomische Nachrichten to claim the discovery of a new asteroid observed by him on the night of March 31st.

(92)
App. A. R. App. Decl.
Bresl. M. T. h. m. s. h. m. s. ° Size.
March 31 12 53 51.9 15 39 52.32 —23 50 26.1 12.9
April 1 1 3 2.1 15 39 52.32 —23 9 1.9 12.9

He proposes for the asteroid the name of Phœbe. Dr. Zitta states that in the short period which he had for observing Phœbe, for an hour after midnight, her motion in R. A. seemed slight and her motion in declination very rapid."

After this, however, for months, nay even to this moment, nothing more was heard of Dr. Zitta of Breslau.

But, one morning, before I was up, Haliburton came banging at my door on D Street. The mood had taken him, as he returned from some private the- atricals at Cambridge, to take the com- fort of the new reading-room at night, and thus express in practice his grati- tude to the overseers of the college for keeping it open through all the twenty- four hours. Poor Haliburton, he did not sleep well in those times ! Well, as he read away on the Astronoinische Nachrichten itself, what should he find but this in German, which he copied for me, and then, all on foot in the rain and darkness, tramped over with, to South Boston :

" The most enlightened head pro- fessor Dr. Gmelin writes to the direc- tor of the Porpol Astronomik at St. Petersburg, to claim the discovery of an asteroid in a very high southern latitude, of a wider inclination of the orbit, as will be noticed, than any aste- roid yet observed.

"Planet's apparent a 2i h - 20"" 5i*'4o. Planet's apparent 8 39 31' n".g. Comparison star a.

" Dr. Gmelin publishes no separate second observation, but is confident that the declination is diminishing. Dr. Gmelin suggests for the name of this ex- tra-zodiacal planet" lo," as appropriate to its wanderings from the accustomed ways of planetary life, and trusts that the very distinguished Herr Peters, the godfather of so many planets, will re- linquish this name, already claimed for the asteroid (85) observed by him, September 15, 1865.

I had run down stairs almost as I was, slippers and dressing-gown being the only claims I had on society. But to me, as to Haliburton, this stuff about " extra-zodiacal wandering " blazed out upon the page, and though there was no evidence that the " most enlight- ened " Gmelin found anything the next night, yet, if his "diminishing" meant anything, there was, with Zitta's obser- vation whoever Zitta might be something to start upon. We rushed upon some old bound volumes of the Record and spotted the "enlightened Gmelin." He was chief of a college at Taganrog, where perhaps they had a spyglass. This gave us the parallax of his observation. Breslau, of course, we knew, and so we could place Zitta's, and with these poor data I went to work to construct, if I could, an orbit for this lo- Phoebe mass of brick and mortar. Haliburton, not strong in spherical trigonometry, looked out log- arithms for me till breakfast, and, as soon as it would do, went over to Mrs. Bowdoin, to borrow her telescope, ours being left at No. 9.

Mrs. Bowdoin was kind, as she al- ways was, and at noon Haliburton ap- peared in triumph with the boxes on P. Nolan's job-wagon. We always em- ploy P., in memory of dear old Phil. We got the telescope rigged, and waited for night, only, alas ! to be disappointed again. lo had wandered somewhere else, and, with all our sweeping back and forth on the tentative curve I had laid out, lo would not appear. We spent that night in vain.

But we were not going to give it up so. Phoebe might have gone round the world twice before she became lo ; might have gone three times, four, five, six, nay, six hundred, who knew? Nay, who knew how far off Phceb-Io was, or lo-Phoebe ? We sent over for Annie, and she and Polly and George and I went to work again. We calcu- lated in the next week sixty-seven orbits on the supposition of so many different distances from our surface. I laid out on a paper, which we stuck up on the wall opposite, the formula, and then one woman and one man attacked each set of elements, each having the Logarithmic Tables, and, so in a week's working- time, the sixty-seven orbits were com- pleted. Sixty-seven possible places for Jo-Phoebe to be in on .the forthcoming Friday evening. Of these sixty-seven, forty-one were observable above our horizon that night.

She was not in one of the forty-one, nor near it.

But Despair, if Giotto be correct, is the chief of sins. So has he depicted her in the fresco of the Arena in Padua. No sin, that, of ours ! After searching all that Friday night, we slept all Satur- day (sleeping after sweeping). We all came to the Chapel, Sunday, kept awake there, and taught our Sunday classes special lessons on Perseverance. On Monday we began again, and that week we calculated sixty-seven more orbits. I am sure I do not know why we stopped at sixty-seven. All of these were on the supposition that the revolu- tion of the Brick Moon, or lo-Phoebe, was so fast that it would require either fifteen days to complete its orbit, or six- teen days, or seventeen days, and so on up to eighty-one days. And, with these orbits, on the next Friday we waited for the darkness. As we sat at tea, I asked if I should begin observing at the smallest or at the largest orbit. And there was a great clamor of diverse opinions. But little Bertha said, " Begin in the middle."

" And what is the middle ? " said George, chaffing the little girl.

But she was not to be dismayed. She had been in and out all the week, and knew that the first orbit was of fifteen days and the last of eighty-one ; and, with true Lincoln School precision, she said : " The mean of the smallest orbit and the largest orbit is forty-eight days."

"Amen !" said I, as we all laughed. " On forty-eight days we will begin."

Alice ran to the sheets, turned up that number and read : " R. A. 27 u'. South declination 34 49'."

" Convenient place," said George ; "good omen, Bertha, my darling! If we find her there, Alice and Bertha and Clara shall all have new dolls."

It was the first word of pleasantry that had been spoken about the horrid thing since Spoonwood Hill !

Night came at last. We trained the glass on the fated spot. I bade Polly take the eye-glass. She did so, shook her head uneasily, screwed the tube northward herself a moment, and then screamed, " It is there ! it is there, a clear disk, gibbous shape, and very sharp on the upper edge. Look ! look ! as big again as Jupiter ! "

Polly was right ! The Brick Moon was found !


Now we had found it, we never lost it. Zitta and Gmelin, I suppose, had had foggy nights and stormy weather often. But we had some one at the eye - glass all that night, and before morning had very respectable elements, good measurements of angular distance when we got one, and another star in the field of our lowest power. For we could see her even with a good French opera-glass I had, and with a night- glass which I used to carry on the South Atlantic Station. It certainly was an extraordinary illustration of Orcutt's engineering ability, that, flying off as she did, without leave or license, she should have gained so. nearly the orbit of our original plan, nine thou- sand miles from the earth's centre, five thousand from the surface. He had al- ways stuck to the hope of this, and on his very last tests of the Flies he had said they were almost up to it. But for this accuracy of his, I can hardly sup- pose we should have found her to this hour, since she had failed, by what cause I then did not know, to take her intend- ed place on the meridian of No. 9. At five thousand miles the Moon appeared as large as the largest satellite of Jupiter appears. And Polly was right in that first observation, when she said she got a good disk with that admirable glass of Mrs. Bowdoin.

The orbit was not on the meridian of No. 9, nor did it remain on any me- ridian. But it was very nearly South and North, an enormous motion in declination with a very slight retrograde motion in Right Ascension. At five thousand miles the Moon showed as large as a circle two miles and a third in diameter would have shown on old Thornbush, as we always called her older sister. We longed for an eclipse of Thornbush by B. M., but no such lucky chance is on the cards in any place accessible to us for many years. Of course, with a Moon so near us the terrestrial parallax is enormous.

Now, you know, dear reader, that the gigantic, reflector of Lord Rosse, and the exquisite fifteen-inch refractors of the modern observatories, eliminate from the chaotic rubbish-heap of the sur- face of old Thornbush much smaller ob- jects than such a circle as I have named. Jf you have read Mr. Locke's amusing Moon Hoax as often as I have, you have those details fresh in your memo- ry. As John Farrar taught us when all this began, and as I have said al- ready, if there were a State-House in Thornbush two hundred feet long, the first Herschel would have seen it. His magnifying power was 6450 ; that would have brought this deaf-and-dumb State House within some forty miles. Go up on Mt. Washington and see white sails eighty miles away, beyond Portland, with your naked eye, and you will find how well he would have seen that State- House with his reflector. Lord Rosse's statement is, that with his reflector he can see objects on old Thornbush two hundred and fifty- two feet long. If he can do that, he can see on our B. M. objects which are five feet long ; and, of course, we were beside ourselves to get control of some instrument which had some approach to such power. Haliburton was for at once building a reflector at No. 9 ; and per- haps he will do it yet, for Haliburton has been successful in his paper-mak- ing and lumbering. But I went to work more promptly.

I remembered, not an apothecary, but an observatory, which had been dormant, as we say of volcanoes, now for ten or a dozen years, no matter why ! The trustees had quarrelled with the director, or the funds had given out, or the director had been shot at the head of his division, one of those accidents had happened which will happen even in observatories which have fifteen-inch equatorials ; and so the equatorial here had been left as useless as a cannon whose metal has been strained or its reputation stained in an experiment. The observatory at Tamworth, dedicated with such enthu- siasm, "another light-house in the skies," had been, so long as I have said, worthless to the world. To Tam- worth therefore I travelled. In the neighborhood of the observatory I took lodgings. To the church where wor- shipped the family which lived in the observatory buildings I repaired ; after two Sundays I established acquaintance with John Donald, the head of this family. On the evening of the third, I made acquaintance with his wife in a visit to them. Before three Sundays more, he had recommended me to the surviving trustees as his successor as janitor to the buildings. He himself had accepted promotion, and gone, with his household, to keep a store for Haliburton in North Ovid. I sent for Polly and the children, to establish them in the janitor's rooms ; and, after writing to her, with trembling eye I waited for the Brick Moon to pass over the field of the fifteen-inch equatorial.

Night came. I was " sole alone ! " B. M. came, more than filled the field of vision, of course ; but for that I was ready. Heavens ! how changed. Red no longer, but green as a meadow in the spring. Still I could see black on the green the large twenty-foot circles which I remembered so well, which broke the concave of the dome ; and, on the upper edge were these palm-trees? They were. No, they were hemlocks by their shape, and among them were moving to and fro flies? Of course, I cannot see flies ! But something is moving, coming, going. One, two, three, ten ; there are more than thirty in all ! They are men and women and their chil- dren !

Could it be possible ? It was possi- ble ! Orcutt and Brannan and the rest of them had survived that giddy flight through the ether, and were going and coming on the surface of their own lit- tle world, bound to it .by its own at- traction and living by its own laws !

As I watched, I saw one of them leap from that surface. He passed wholly out of my field of vision, but in a minute, more or less, returned. Why not ! Of course, the attraction of his world must be very small, while he retained the same power of muscle he had when he was here. They must be horribly crowded, I thought. No. They had three acres of surface, and there were but thirty-seven of them. Not so much crowded as people are in Rox- bury, not nearly so much as in Boston ; and besides, these people, are living underground, and have the whole of their surface for their exercise.


I watched their every movement as they approached the edge and as they left it. Often they passed beyond it, so that I could see them no more. Often they sheltered themselves from that tropical sun beneath the trees. Think of living on a world where from the -vertical heat of the hottest noon of the equator to the twilight of the poles is a -walk of only fifty paces ! What atmos- phere they had, to temper and diffuse those rays, I could not then conjec- ture.

I knew that at half past ten they would pass into the inevitable eclipse which struck them every night at this period of their orbit, and must, I thought, be a luxury to them, as recall- ing old memories of night when they were on this world. As they approached the line of shadow, some fifteen min- utes before it was due, I counted on the edge thirty-seven specks arranged evidently in order ; and, at one mo- ment, as by one signal, all thirty-seven jumped into the air, high jumps. Again they did it, and again. Then a low jump ; then a high one. I caught the idea in a moment. They were tele- graphing to our world, in the hope of an observer. Long leaps and short leaps, the long and short of Morse's Telegraph Alphabet, were communi- cating ideas. My paper and pencil had been of course before me. I jotted down the despatch, whose language I knew perfectly :

" Show ' I understand ' on the Saw- Mill Flat."

" Show ' I understand ' on the Saw- Mill Flat."

" Show ' I understand ' on the Saw- Mill Flat."

By " I understand " they meant the responsive signal given, in all telegra- phy, by an operator who has received and understood a message.

As soon as this exercise had been three times repeated, they proceeded in a solid body much the most ap- parent object I had had until now to Circle No. 3, and then evidently de- scended into the Moon.

The eclipse soon began, but I knew the Moon's path now, and followed the dusky, coppery spot without difficulty. At 1.33 it Demerged, and in a very few moments I saw the solid column pass from Circle No. 3, again, deploy on the edge again, and repeat three times the signal :

" Show ' I understand ' on the Saw- Mill Flat."

" Show ' I understand ' on the Saw- Mill Flat"

" Show ' I understand ' on the Saw- Mill Flat."

It was clear that Orcutt had known that the edge of his little world would be most easy of observation, and that he had guessed that the moments of ob- scuration and of emersion were the mo- ments when observers would be most careful. After this signal they broke up again, and I could not follow them. With daylight I sent off a despatch to Haliburton, and, grateful and happy in comparison, sank into the first sleep, not haunted by horrid dreams, which I had known for years.


Haliburton knew that George Orcutt had taken with him a good Dolland's refractor, which he had bought in Lon- don, of a two-inch glass. He knew that this would give Orcutt a very considera- ble power, if he could only adjust it ac- curately enough to find No. 9 in the 3d Range. Orcutt had chosen well in selecting the " Saw-Mill Flat," a large meadow, easily distinguished by the peculiar shape of the mill-pond which we had made. Eager though Haliburton was, to join me, he loyally took moneys, caught the first train to Skowhegan, and, travelling thence, in thirty-six hours more was again descend- ing Spoonwood Hill, for the first time since our futile observations. The snow lay white upon the Flat. With Rob. Shea's help, he rapidly unrolled a piece of black cambric twenty yards long, and pinned it to the crust upon the snow ; another by its side, and another. Much cambric had he left. They had carried clown with them enough for the funerals of two Presidents. Haliburton showed the symbols for " I understand," but he could not resist also displaying , which are the dots and lines to represent O. K., which, he says, is the shortest message of comfort. And, not having exhausted the space on the Flat, he and Robert, before night closed in, made a gigantic O. K.., fifteen yards from top to bottom, and in marks that were fifteen feet through.

I had telegraphed my great news to Haliburton on Monday night. Tues- day night he was at Skowhegan. Thurs- day night he was at No 9. Friday he and Rob. stretched their cambric. Mean- while, every day I slept. Every night I was glued to the eye-piece. Fifteen minutes before the eclipse every night this weird dance of leaps two hundred feet high, followed by hops of twenty feet high, mingled always in the steady order I have described, spelt out the ghastly message :

" Show ' I understand ' on the Saw- Mill Flat."

And every morning, as the eclipse ended, I saw the column creep along to the horizon, and again, as the duty of opening day, spell out the same :

" Show ' I understand ' on the Saw- Mill Flat."

They had done this twice in every twenty-four hours for nearly two years. For three nights steadily, I read these signals twice each night ; only these, and nothing more.

But Friday night all was changed. Af- ter "Attention," that dreadful "Show" did not come, but this cheerful sig- nal :

" Hurrah. All well. Air, food, and friends ! what more can man require ? Hurrah."

How like George ! How like Ben Brannan ! How like George's wife ! How like them all ! And they were all well ! Yet poor / could not answer. Nay, I could only guess what Halibur- ton had done. But I have never, I be- lieve, been so grateful since I was born !

After a pause, the united line of leap- ers resumed their jumps and hops. Long and short spelled out :

" Your O. K. is twice as large as it need be."

Of the meaning of this, lonely /had, of course, no idea.

" I have a power of seven hundred," continued George. How did he get that? He has never told us. But this I can see, that all our analogies deceive us, of views of the sea from Mt. Washington, or of -the Boston State- House from Wachusett. For in these views we look through forty or eighty miles of dense terrestrial atmosphere. But Orcutt was looking nearly vertical- ly through an atmosphere which was, most of it, rare indeed, and pure in- deed, compared with its lowest stra- tum.

In the record-book of my observa- tions these despatches are entered as 12 and 13. Of course it was impossi^ ble for me to reply. All I could do was to telegraph these in the morning to Skowhegan, sending them to the care of the Moores, that they might for- ward them. But the next night showed that this had not been necessary.

Friday night George and the oth- ers went on for a quarter of an hour. Then they would rest, saying, " two," "three," or whatever their next signal time would be. Before morning I had these despatches :

14. " Write to all hands that we are doing well. Langdon's baby is named lo, and Leonard's is named Phebe."

How queer that was ! What a co- incidence ! And they -had some hu- mor there.

15 was: "Our atmosphere stuck to us. It weighs three tenths of an inch our weight."

1 6. " Our rain-fall is regular as the clock. We have made a cistern of Kilpatrick."

This meant the spherical chamber of that name.

17. " Write to Darwin that he is all right. We began with lichens and have come as far as palms and hemlocks."

These were the first night's mes- sages. I had scarcely covered the eye- glasses, and adjusted the equatorial for the day, when the bell announced the carriage in which Polly and the children came from the station to relieve me in my solitary service as janitor. I had the joy of showing her the good news. This night's work seemed to fill our cup. For all the day before, when I was awake, I had been haunted by the fear of famine for them. True, I knew that they had stored away in chambers H, I, and J the pork and flour which we had sent up for the workmen through the summer, and the corn and oats for the horses. But this could not last forever.

Now, however, that it proved that in a tropical climate they were forming their own soil, developing their own palms, and eventually even their bread- fruit and bananas, planting their own oats and maize, and developing rice, wheat, and all other cereals, harvesting these six, eight, or ten times for aught I could see in one of our years, why then, there was no danger of famine for them. If, as I thought, they carried up with them heavy drifts of ice and snow in the two chambers which were not covered in when they started, why, they had waters in their firmament quite sufficient for all pur- poses of thirst and of ablution. And what I had seen of their exercise showed that they were in strength suf- cient for the proper development of their little world.

Polly had the messages by heart be- fore an hour was over, and the lit- tle girls, of course, knew them sooner than she.


Haliburton, meanwhile, had brought out the Shubael refractor (Alvan Clark), and by night of Friday was in readiness to see what he could see. Shubael of course gave him no such luxury of de- tail as did my fifteen-inch equatorial. But still he had no difficulty in making out groves of hemlock, and the circular openings. And although he could not make out my thirty-seven flies, still when 10.15 came, he saw distinctly the black square* crossing from hole Mary to the edge, and begin its Dervish dances. They were on his edge more precisely than on mine. For Orcutt knew nothing of Tamworth, and had thought his best chance was to display for No. 9. So was it that, at the same moment with me, Haliburton also was spelling out Orcutt & Co.'s joyous " Hurrah."

" Thtephen," lisps Celia, " promith that you will look at yon moon [old Thornbush] at the inthtant I do." So was it with me and Haliburton.

He was of course informed long be- fore the Moores' messenger came, that, in Orcutt's judgment, twenty feet of length were sufficient for his signals. Orcutt's atmosphere, of course, must be exquisitely clear.

So, on Saturday, Rob. and Haliburton pulled up all their cambric and arranged it on the Flat again, in letters of twenty feet, in this legend :

RAH. AL WEL.

Haliburton said he could not waste flat or cambric on spelling.

He had had all night since half past ten to consider what next was most im- portant for them to know ; and a very difficult question it was, you will observe. They had been gone nearly two years*, and much had happened. Which thing was, on the whole, the most interesting and important ? He had said we were all well. What then ?

Did you never find yourself in the same difficulty ? When your husband had come home from sea, and kissed you and the children, and wondered at their size, did you never sit silent, and have to think what you should say ? Were you never fairly relieved when little Phil said, blustering, " I got three eggs to-day." The truth is, that silence is very satisfactory intercourse if we only know all is well. When De Sauty got his original cable going, he had not much to tell after all ; only that consols were a quarter per cent higher than they were the clay before. " Send me news," lisped he poor lonely myth ! from Bull's Bay to Valentia, " send me news ; they are mad for news." But how if there be no news worth sending ? What do I read in my cable despatch to-day ? Only that the Harvard crew pulled at Putney yesterday, which I knew before I opened the paper, and that there had been a riot in Spain, which I also knew. Here is a letter just brought me by the mail from Moreau, Tazewell County, Iowa. It is written by Follansbee, in a good cheerful hand. How glad I am to hear from Follansbee ! Yes ; but do I care one straw whether Follansbee planted spring wheat or winter wheat ? Not I. All I care for is Follansbee's way of telling it. All these are the remarks by which Haliburton explains the character of the messages he sent in reply to George Orcutt's autographs, which were so thoroughly satisfactory.

Should he say Mr. Borie had left the Navy Department, and Mr. Robeson come in ? Should he say the Lords had backed down on the Disendow- ment Bill? Should he say the tele- graph had been landed at Duxbury ? Should he say Ingham had removed to Tamworth ? What did they care for this ? What does anybody ever caje for facts ? Should he say that the State Constable was enforcing the liquor law on whiskey, but was winking at lager ? All this would take him a week, in the most severe condensation, and for what good ? as Haliburton asked. Yet these were the things that the news- papers told, and they told nothing else. There was a nice little poem of Jean Ingelow's in a Transcript Haliburton had with him. He said he was really tempted to spell that out. It was better worth it than all the rest of the news- paper stuff, and would be remembered a thousand years after that was for- gotten. "What they wanted," says Haliburton, " was sentiment. That is all that survives and is eternal." So he and Rob. laid out their cambric thus :


BAH. AL, WEL. SO GLAD.


Haliburton hesitated whether he would not add, "Power 5000," to indicate the full power I was using at Tam- worth. But he determined not to, and, I think, wisely. The convenience was so great, of receiving the signal at the spot where it could be answered, that for the present he thought it best that they should go on as they did. That night, however, to his dismay, clouds gathered and a grim snow-storm began. He got no observations ; and the next day it stormed so heavily that he could not lay his signals out. For me at Tamworth, I had a heavy storm all day, but at midnight it was clear ; and as soon as the regular eclipse was past George began with what we saw was an account of the great anaclysm which sent them there. You observe that Or- cutt had far greater power of commufii- cating with us than we had with him. He knew this. And it was fortunate he had. For he had, on his little world, much more of interest to tell than we had, on our large one.

18. " It stormed hard. We were all asleep, and knew nothing till morning ; the hammocks turned so slowly."

Here was another revelation and re- lief. I had always supposed that, if they knew anything before they were roasted to death, they had had one wild moment of horror. Instead of this, the sentle slide of the Moon had not wakened them, the flight upward had been as easy as it was rapid, the change from one centre of gravity to another had of course been slow, and they had actually slept through the whole. After the dancers had rested once, Orcutt continued :

19. "We cleared E. A. in two sec- onds, I think. Our outer surface fused and cracked somewhat. -So much the better for us."

They moved so fast that the heat of their friction through the air could not propagate itself through the whole brick surface. Indeed there could have been but little friction after the first five or ten miles. By E. A. he means earth's atmosphere.

His 2oth despatch is : "I have no observations of ascent. But by theory our positive ascent ceased in two min- utes five seconds, when we fell into our proper orbit, which, as I calculate, is 5,109 miles from your mean surface."

In all this, observe, George dropped no word of regret through these five thousand miles.

His 2 ist despatch is : " Our rotation on our axis is made once in seven hours, our axis being exactly vertical to the plane of our own orbit. But in each of your daily rotations we get sunned all round."

Of course, they never had lost their identity with us, so far as our rota- tion and revolution went : our inertia was theirs ; all the fatal Fly-Wheels had given them was an additional mo- tion in space of their own.

This was the last despatch before daylight of Sunday morning ; and the terrible snow-storm of March, sweeping our hemisphere, cut off our communi- catien with them, both at Tamworth and No. 9, for several days.

But here was ample food for reflec- tion. Our friends were in a world of their own, all thirty-seven of them well, and it seemed they had two more lit- tle girls added to their number since they started. They had plenty of vegetables to eat, with prospect o* new tropical varieties according to Dr. Darwin. Rob. Shea was sure that they carried up hens ; he said he knew Mrs. Whitman had several Middlesexes and Mrs. Leonard two or three Black Span- ish fowls, which had been given her by some friends in Foxcroft. Even if they had not yet had time enough for these to develop into Alderneys and venison, they would not be without animal food.

When at last it cleared off, Halibut ton had to telegraph : " Repeat from 20 " ; and this took all his cambric, though he had doubled his stock. Or- cutt replied the next night :

21. "I can see your storms. We have none. When we want to'change climate we can walk in less than a minute from midsummer to the depth of winter. But in the inside we have eleven different temperatures, which do not change."

On the whole there is a certain convenience in such an arrangement. With No. 22 he went back to his story :

"It took us many days, one or two of our months, to adjust ourselves to our new condition. Our greatest grief is that we are not on the meridian. Do you know why ? "

Loyal George ! He was willing to exile himself and his race from the most of mankind, if only the great pur- pose of his life could be fulfilled. But his great regret was that it was not ful- filled. He was not on the meridian. I did not know why. But Haliburton, with infinite labor, spelt out on the Flat,


CYC. P3JOJECT. AB> FIN.,


by which he meant, " See article Pro- jectiles in the Cyclopaedia at the end " ; and there indeed is the only explana- tion to be given. When you fire a shot, why does it ever go to the right or left of the plane in which it is projected ? Dr. Hutton ascribes it to a whirling motion acquired by the bullet by fric- tion with the gun. Euler thinks it due chiefly to the irregularity of the shape of the ball. In our case the B. M. was regular enough. But on one side, being wholly unprepared for flight, she was heavily stored with pork and corn, while her other chambers had in some of them heavy drifts of snow, and some only a few men and women and hens.

Before Orcutt saw Haliburton's ad- vice, he had sent us 23 and 24.

23. " We have established a Sande- manian church, and ordained Brannan. My son Edward and Alice Whitman are to be married this evening."

This despatch unfortunately did not reach Haliburton, though I got it. So, all the happy pair received for our wed- ding-present was the advice to look in the Cyclopaedia at article Projectiles near the end.

24 was :

" We shall act 'As You Like It ' af- ter the wedding. Dead-head tickets for all of the old set who will come."

Actually, in one week's reunion we had come to joking.

The next night we got 25 :

" Alice says she will not read the Cyclopaedia in the honeymoon, but is much obliged to Mr. Haliburton for his advice."

" How did she ever know it was I ? " wrote the matter-of-fact Haliburton to me.

26. " Alice wants to know if Mr. Haliburton will not send here for some rags ; says we have plenty, with little need for clothes."

And then despatches began to be more serious again. Brannan and Or- cutt had failed in the great scheme for the longitude, to which they had sacri- ficed their lives, if, indeed, it were a sacrifice to retire with those they love best to a world of their own. But none the less did they devote them- selves, with the rare power of observa- tion they had, to the benefit of our world. Thus, in 27 :

" Your North Pole is an open ocean. It was black, which we think means water, from August ist to September 29th. Your South Pole is on an island bigger than New Holland. Your An- tarctic Continent is a great cluster of islands."

28. " Your Nyanzas are only two o?a large group of African lakes. The green of Africa, where there is no wa- ter, is wonderful at our distance."

29. " We have not the last numbers of ' Foul Play.' Tell us, in a word or two, how they got home. We can see what we suppose their island was."

30. " We should like to know who proved Right in 'He Knew He was Right.' "

This was a good night's work, as they were then telegraphing. As soon as it cleared, Haliburton displayed,


BEST HOPES. CARRIER DUCKS.


This was Haliburton's masterpiece. He had no room for more, however, and was obliged to reserve for the next day his answer to No. 30, which was simply,


SHE.


A real equinoctial now parted us for nearly a week, and at the end of that time they were so low in our northern horizon that we could not make out their signals ; we ad they were obliged to wait till they had passed through two thirds of their month before we could communicate again. I used the time in speeding to No. 9. We got a few carpenters together, and arranged on the Flat two long movable black platforms, which ran in and out on railroad-wheels on tracks, from under green platforms ; so that we could dis- play one or both as we chose, and then withdraw them. With this apparatus we could give forty-five signals in a minute, corresponding to the line and dot of the telegraph ; and thus could compass some twenty letters in that time, and make out perhaps two hun- dred and fifty words in an hour. Hali- burton thought that, with some im- provements, he could send one of Mr. Buchanan's messages up in thirty-sev- en working-nights.


[These observations bring the history of the Brick Moon to April, 1871, as the attentive reader will observe. In anoth- er paper Mr. Ingham will describe the more important of the observations afterwards made by himself and Mr. Haliburton.]

 

 

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.