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The Unique Experiences of a Visit to a Hitherto Undiscovered
By EUGENE S, BISBEE
Historian of the Exploring Expedition
than half a complet by nature and is a stu
AST fall, I participated in an this that brought to the ranch here a experience that for its wonder- party of scientists from my old uniful phases has never been du versity. I am not at liberty to name plicated.”
them, for they are coming again to try John Bennett reached for his pipe, another experiment, and until that has filled and lighted it, and then glanced to been made, the whole thing is a secret ward me as if to ask if I wished to hear of theirs. It will not do any harm to tell what he had to divulge. He is a very as much as I intend to, however. remarkable man, of that rare type fast “They brought with them a dirigible disappearing. Like the "poet of the balloon, and confided that they were goSierras," he wears a flowing, patriarchal ing to make an ascent and study the tobeard, and hair to match, and is a stu- pography of the Sierras, so as to be able dent and a poet by nature. For more to make an accurate map of the entire than half a century he has made his home range. It didn't turn out that way, howin the heart of California's majestic ever, as you will see. mountains, where he is surrounded by “In a sort of superficial way I have alall the comforts and none of the harsh ways been interested in aërostatics and ness of civilization. His wife and six kindred sciences; and when they asked stalwart sons, four of whom are married me to accompany them as guide and and have offspring, and a daughter — companion, I accepted the invitation with May, named for her natal month, and as alacrity. We went farther up into the charming as her namesake-form the lit- range, and made camp. They took their tle colony in the hills; and there is never machine out, and began the work of asa moment when ennui crimes to them. sembling the parts; and I want to say There is a splendid library, a veritable right here that it was as complete a thing arsenal, and everything calculated to in- as ever man made. There was everyduce visitors to dally; but I may as well thing calculated to make the trip a sucadmit, parenthetically, that May was the cess, and every appliance to prevent acprimal object of my visit, although the cident. It's pretty cold up on top of the companionship of her father often took range above timber line, and arrangeme away from her side when strict dutyments had been made to prevent this conas an engaged lover may have demanded dition from retarding the experiments. my attention elsewhere. But that is not The car of the balloon was made of isinthe story. I glanced at John Bennett in glass over a frame of aluminum. It was such a way that he saw he had in me the entirely enclosed, and was heated from same good listener I had always shown an electric motor, which also propelled myself to be, so he entered upon his tale. the machine. Hydrogen gas was used
"I am the oldest graduate of Yale in as the lifting power, supplemented by anCalifornia,” he said ; "and I think it was other motor; and oxygen was manufact
ured and supplied to the occupants of the again tested the outer atmosphere, and car when the atmosphere became too found that it had dropped to more than rarefied for comfortable breathing. Pro- one hundred below zero. By this time visions were stored for the party the earth had become a dim haze, and enough to last six men a week—and calculations showed that we were more when the ascension was made, it seemed than sixty miles above its surface. The that not a thing had been overlooked. All thought staggered me; but on we kept, sorts of anemometers, barometers, and the scientists exulting at such wonderful thermometers were taken along, and progress. Constant observations were everything necessary for the proper being made of every condition, and all study of the conditions that might con- were jotted down for future reference; front the party after leaving the earth. and still onward and upward we soared
"It was a sparkling morning when the for another hour. signal was given ; and we arose with a “At the end of the third hour, I nobound and were soon soaring over the ticed a remarkable thing, and called the tops of the snowy peaks. Never shall I attention of one of my companions to it. forget that sight as I gazed through the Hitherto the earth had, as I have said, sides and bottom of the transparent car. been a blue-gray blot beneath us. It now So bright was the sunshine that we were appeared part blue and part pale gray, forced to draw the green silk curtains at the latter color being toward the west; some of the windows. Within five min- and, as I interested my other fellow travutes we were looking down on toyelers in the sight, the western portion of mountains that were dropping away the colored map was seen to grow larger from us as a stone drops from the top as the eastern portion diminished in size. of a tall building; and the atmosphere None of my companions could account had become so rarefied that the oxygen for the phenomenon. The entire field of tank was opened into the car, and the our vision was changing, until now it heating motor was started. Far off to seemed that only a portion of the old the west, we could see the tiny valleys, familiar blue remained, the pale gray and, still farther, an endless blue expanse having absorbed it. Then, as suddenly that marked the Pacific Ocean. Many as had come the other change, there crept men have exulted in the view from a bal- in from the east a dark blue shadow that loon; but few have ever had the experi- rapidly swept across the plain beneath, ence of making an ascension from a changing the color again to its own, height above the sea of more than two while the former colors moved away. miles. Straight upward we soared; and There were no definite objects in sight, within an hour, during which we felt not only the monotonous dark blue that soon the least discomfort, we had risen so covered the entire field below us. high that the earth was now a broad ex- "Not understanding the cause of the panse beneath us, blue in color and show- change, and becoming somewhat exering no convolutions whatever. It seemed cised by it, the professor in charge of the perfectly flat at such a distance, and the expedition concluded to descend, and acocean had become the same color as the cordingly operated the machinery for land.
that purpose. Rapidly the motor did its One of the gentlemen of the party work, and the plain below began to aslowered a thermometer through the floor, sume a definite form. It changed its and drew it back within ten seconds, its color from blue to blue and green, with bulb showing that the outside air was too here and there a dazzling spot that indicold for it to record the temperature. A cated water; yet even then the territory special instrument was then sent down, was wholly unfamiliar to any of us, even and came back with the information that to me who know these mountains as you the rarefied atmosphere we were in was do your own home. The balloon, under eighty degrees below zero. Within the the guidance of the practiced hand of the car, the thermometers registered sixty- operator, descended rapidly toward a two degrees, which was quite warm plain ; but of course you are familiar enough for comfort. In another hour we enough with aërostatics to know that the
Well, within an houan entirely strange
sensation is of being stationary while the I did, they were as amazed as I, for diearth does the moving. In the air, all rectly above us floated a tremendous seems moving except the balloon itself. globe which we instantly recognized as Well, within an hour, we had fallen to- a map of the continent of North Amerward the earth in an entirely strange ica. It covered almost the entire sky, region. Not a thing was familiar, and and seemed but a few miles distant, while we had evidently passed beyond the beneath us was what certainly was anmountains and were above a broad plain. other earth.
"We arose with a bound and were soon soaring over the tops of the snowy peaks.”
Immediately beneath us now was a “ 'Good gracious!' exclaimed our perfectly circular disc of variegated col- leader ; 'we have made the greatest disors, surrounded by an ocean of bright covery of all the ages. We have discovblue, with here and there a featheryered another world, and are falling onto cloud. The disc seemed very small in it. That globe off there is the earth, and comparison with the surrounding blue we have lost it and are about to land on ocean, and we could none of us under- · another planet ! stand it. The balloon now fell less “I confess that his explanation did not rapidly than previously, and I happened explain; but he soon made himself to glance upward through the sides of plainer by recalling to us that there are the car. I almost fell over with astonish- supposed to be many nebulous bodies ment, and could scarcely get my voice to afloat outside the atmosphere of the call to the others to see what I saw. When earth, a fact that all scientists accept. Some of these bodies are as small as pin- of verdure with the small size of the tiny heads, while others may be larger. That world, for such a little thing could not be this last was correct, was evident; yet expected to obstruct enough of the heat how it had never been discovered by the of the sun to produce such a condition. earth's astronomers was a puzzle to me. Puzzled, I myself dropped a thermometer
“ 'That is a simple matter of explana- through the trapdoor and noted its regtion,' said our leader ; 'this asteroid has ister. It was eighty degrees—a fact that never been discovered, for the same rea- further surprised me—and I said so. son that many small but important things “ 'I dare say we shall find that there have been for years overlooked by scien- are other sources of heat besides the sun,' tists in search of greater fields to con- said one of my companions; and no quer. It is within less than one hundred sooner had we opened the car door and miles of the earth, while the very nearest begun to climb down the anchor rope, object that has ever attracted the tele- which had been cast out, than we disscopes of our astronomers is the moon, covered the correctness of his prophecy. distant a quarter of a million miles. Can There were boiling springs everywhere, you not understand that no astronomer and the verdure was magnificent. would ever train his instrument so as to "Tying the anchor rope about a bowlfocus an object less than a hundred miles der, we began a survey of our world. distant ?'
But first of all, I took a good look at the “That sounded reasonable, yet I asked earth we had left a few hours before. him how it was that it had never been It was a more magnificent sight than seen with the naked eye.
words can ever tell. It filled almost the en“ 'Simpler still,' he answered, “because tire dome of the sky, and the continent this little planet is less than ten miles in of North America looked exactly as it diameter. So small an object, with a does on a raised globe such as we have color nearly identical with that of the in school-rooms. I could locate San earth's atmosphere, would never be no- Francisco as well as if I had had a map ticed, and, having no light of its own, and pointer; and from that Western mecould not be seen at any time. It is a tropolis could trace the outline of the mere speck in the sky, and no man can United States to the city of Chicago, and tell how long it has floated around our so on to the gateway of Europe-New earth. There may be many more of York. It was wonderful! The air was them; but for the present we will confine not so rare as to be hard on lungs used ourselves to this one, and soon shall land to mountain conditions ; but some of the and see what there is to see.'
party complained, and one suffered nose“An aneroid barometer was then let bleed. There was a rippling brook near through the trap in the floor, in order to at hand, its banks lined with plant life, ascertain the pressure of the atmosphere and I went toward it to get a drink. I before we dared to open the car and step felt wonderfully elated in mind and body, onto the little world we had discovered. and ran lightly toward it, falling on my The planet was growing larger every chest, and quenching my thirst with the moment, and we were now within less most refreshing water I had ever drunk. than a mile of its surface. The instru- The stream was not more than ten feet ment showed that the pressure was eight wide, and, as far as we could see from pounds to the square inch, which about where we stood, there was no narrower equaled that on high mountains on the place. We wanted to cross it, and I earth; so we were safe to land. The fancied I could make the leap, old man anemometer attached to the car at this though I am. I took a few steps backtime showed an entire lack of breeze, and ward, and then ran toward the bank and we gently dropped to the surface of the sprang into the air. Nebula,' as I had volunteered to call the “I soared through that air like a bird, discovery. As we looked upon the land- and landed at least twenty yards beyond scape, it seemed as if we had suddenly the farther bank! My companions, as I dropped into Southern California, and I alighted with the ease of a feather, first could not possibly justify this condition looked bewildered, and then broke into