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From Zone to Zone
Or, The Wonderful Trip of Frank Reade, Jr., with His Latest Air-Ship
CHAPTER I. A SCIENTIFIC MEETING—THE NEW AIRSHIP.
CHAPTER II. THE ICE-BOUND SHIP.
CHAPTER III. THE AIRSHIP TO THE RESCUE.
CHAPTER IV. THE HOLLOW MOUNTAIN.
CHAPTER V. THE ALBATROSS RELEASED.
CHAPTER VI. IN THE MIDST OF A STORM.
CHAPTER VII. THE LION HUNT.
CHAPTER VIII. THE ESCAPED EXILE.
CHAPTER IX. OUT OF EXILE—BARNEY’S JOKE.
CHAPTER X. BARNEY’S DISAPPEARANCE—FIGHT WITH BEARS.
CHAPTER XI. AT THE NORTH POLE.
CHAPTER XII. THE PROFESSOR’S ADVENTURE.
CHAPTER XIII. THE END.
A very important meeting of the American Scientific Society had been held in their Hall in the city of New York.
All the learned savants and geographers of the day were present, for the subject to be discussed was one of great interest.
For centuries countless efforts had been made to reach either the North or South Poles. The country contiguous to these points had ever remained an unexplored tract.
For many scientific reasons it had been deemed necessary to reach these points. Moreover, man’s curiosity seemed to demand it.
But all attempts by land or sea had proved futile.
This was accepted as a fact. But the learned savants were disposed to believe the feat not impossible.
And this was why the meeting had been called.
The most feasible way to reach the Poles and the organization of a party to attempt it was the topic of discussion.
One man proposed the route through Greenland. Another favored the Behring Sea route. A third, was in favor of approaching it from Siberia.
But none of these projectors could substantiate their plans with any logical method of procedure.
“Admit that the Greenland route is feasible,” said the chairman, “how will you provide means of travel?”
“With dogs and sledges,” said one man.
“And the supplies?”
Ah, here was the stumbling block. No sledge team could hope to carry the supplies for so large a party.
So that plan found chary support.
Thus the meeting was in a state of perplexity and much uncertainty, when an incident happened which put a new face upon matters.
Suddenly a short, broad-shouldered man, with glasses, pushed forward.
“Mr. Chairman!” he said.
“Professor Gaston!” replied the chair.
“I would like to submit a plan for reaching the Poles, which I confidently claim will be successful.”
Instantly a great stir was created.
The savants all pushed forward. All knew Gaston well and favorably.
“Hear, hear!” was the cry.
At once the chairman rapped to order, and then addressed Gaston:
“How do you propose to reach the Poles?” he asked.
The professor looked around as if challenging denial, and said:
For a moment a pin could have been heard to drop in the hall. Then there was a murmur, and the members began to laugh.
“Did you hear that?”
“Proposes to go to the Poles by airship!”
“The man is crazy!”
“Where is his airship?”
The chairman rapped for order.
“I trust you will be courteous enough to give the gentleman a hearing,” he said.
“Oh, certainly!” said a mocking voice.
Professor Gaston looked angry and made a hot reply:
“I was not aware that there was anything so extremely farcical in my remarks,” he said. “If I can substantiate them with the truth and actual demonstration, you can ask no more.”
“We will ask for no more,” said one of the crowd. “But can you do it?”
“Where is your airship?”
“It is in existence, though not my property. When I have rendered this mighty aid to science, perhaps some of you revilers will be inclined to apologize.”
With this Professor Gaston led the way to the speakers’ platform, and was followed by a young man of remarkable appearance.
He, was tall, slender and handsome. His features were clear cut, refined and remarkable for their stamp of intelligence. Every eye was upon him.
“Mr. Chairman,” said Professor Gaston, courteously, “allow me to introduce to you Frank Reade, Jr., the most famous inventor on earth to-day.”
The young inventor blushed with this glowing eulogy.
But he bowed to the chairman and exchanged a few pleasant words with him; then Professor Gaston addressed the society:
“Mr. Reade is the foremost inventor of the day. He is the creator of the Submarine Boat and many other wonderful things. He has now come to the front with a new airship with which he offers to travel from zone to zone in the efforts to locate the Poles.
“From one frigid zone to the other he will proceed with his airship and accomplish with the greatest ease that which has been since the creation of the world an utter impossibility for man to do.
“Now, brother scientists, what sort of a reception ought we to give to a man who agrees to do such a wonderful thing as this? I appeal to your fairness!”
There was a moment of silence. Then one man said:
“Let him prove his ability to do what he proposes, and: not only the society but the world will bow down before him.”
“I think I can prove that to you very quickly!” said Frank Reade, Jr. “I have solved the problem of aerial navigation long since, and you have only to come to Readestown to see my airship to believe it.”
“Then your airship is a reality?” asked one of the professors.
“And you have taken an aerial ride in it?”
“We would like to see it.”
“If you will come to Readestown in two days from now you will see it fly, and also see me off on my trip from zone to zone!
“That there may be no misunderstanding, let me say that I am here to-night solely to please my friend, Professor Gaston, and only at his very urgent request.
“I have no axe to grind in coming here. I am seeking no emolument or pecuniary reward. I have simply offered to this society the privilege of allowing one of their members to accompany me and make valuable scientific data. It remains for the society now to act.”
With firmness and with dignity Frank Reade, Jr., spoke. His speech and manner impressed the learned body of men deeply.
They saw at once that it was no ordinary man that addressed them in this manner. The tide of popular opinion in Frank’s favor became almost overwhelming.
One man leaped upon a chair and cried:
“I move that the society send a representative and that Gaston be the man!”
Cheers filled the hall.
The learned professor looked gratified and pleased. He at once replied:
“I fear there are many much better qualified. Yet, of course, I would not refuse so important a trust if I am deemed capable.”
The result was that a ballot was taken. The result was overwhelming. Gaston was unanimously chosen.
The great undertaking was begun.
That night the press of the country resounded with exciting reports of the meeting, and the proposed attempt of Frank Reade, Jr., to travel from zone to zone in his airship.
A committee of the Scientific Society went up to Readestown to take a look at the new airship.
Frank Reade, Jr., was always pleased to show his inventions. He led the company into a vast high-trussed building.
There, upon the stocks, was the wonderful airship.
She was just undergoing proper fitting out for the long trip. Two men of rather peculiar appearance were working upon her.
One was an Irishman with a shock of red hair and a broad mug. The other was a darky, black as ebony, and jolly as a genial Dutchman.
One was known as Barney O’Shea and the other as Pomp.
They had been in the employ of Frank Reade, Jr., for many years and were much devoted to him.
The airship as revealed to the visitors was indeed a wonderful machine.
In shape it was long and narrow, and built after the lines of a mackerel. The hull was of thinly rolled platinum, coated with bullet proof steel.
The shell thus formed could easily be lifted by four men, despite its huge proportions.
Along the sides of the shell were slides and a coarse network which could be let up or down so as to inclose the hull or make it open at will.
In these slides were round portholes for observation or to fire at an enemy through. The bow of the airship was sharp and carried a ram. The stern carried a pair of strong propellers.
In the stern also was the after cabin and galley, the quarters of the crew, Barney and Pomp.
Midway in the hull was the cabin and engine-room. The cabin was small, but fitted up exquisitely in leather and plush.
The engine-room held the powerful electric engines which formed the motive power of the airship.
These were Frank Reade, Jr.’s special invention, and the secret of their construction he would not betray to anybody.
Upon the prow of the airship was the wheel-house, and also a mighty powerful searchlight, capable of penetrating the darkest night for a distance of two miles.
Now let us turn to the elevating power of the famous invention.
Gas was not employed in any shape. A much stronger and safer medium was used, as the reader will agree.
There were three tall masts rising from the upper deck of the airship.
The mainmast carried a powerful rotascope, which was alone capable of supporting the airship.
The other masts carried four powerful wings of oiled silk and huge proportions. The shape and mechanism of these wings Frank had derived from the model of the butterfly, an insect noted for its airy and swift flight.
By means of various pulleys and sockets these wings were made to act as lightly and gracefully as the model.
This is a meager and incomplete description of the Dart.
The Scientific Society’s committee were overwhelmed with the wonderful mechanism and the simple practicability of the Dart.
“Mr. Reade, we are delighted,” said the spokesman, “and we feel sure of your success. If you do not fail you will surely put your name upon the topmost scroll of fame.”
“I shall hope to succeed,” replied Frank, modestly. “That is my aim.”
The committee took its departure.
Only two days more remained of preparation for the wonderful voyage from zone to zone.
The whole scientific world was agog. After the sailing of the Dart with their representative, Professor Gaston, aboard, they waited with deepest interest for news from the party. They were destined to wait many weeks.
Far down in the Antarctic Ocean a good ship was battling with heavy seas and a head wind.
For weeks the whaler Albatross had been trying to make headway against the vigorous norther which constantly headed them off.
But a few weeks more remained for them to get into northern seas before the winter would set in.
Captain Hardy had spent one winter among the ice and snow of the Antarctic and had no desire to spend another.
The ship was loaded down with whale oil, and pecuniarily the cruise bid fair to be a tremendous success.
But provisions were getting low, and to be nipped in the ice again meant a horrible fate, nothing short of starvation.
Realizing this, it was little wonder that Captain Hardy paced the deck of his ship anxiously and studied the northern sky.
“Well, Jack Wallis!” he cried, in his bluff way, “it still blows, and, by Neptune, it looks likely to keep on. We can’t make seaway in such a wind. What are we going to do?”
Jack Wallis, the mate, was a tall, handsome fellow, with resolute blue eyes and Saxon complexion.
He was a favorite with the crew and brave as a lion.
But his face now was a trifle pale. He realized the danger of their position quite as well as did Captain Hardy.
He was not thinking of his own safety, but of those aboard the ship and their prospective fate as well as the peril of a certain very charming young lady on board. No other than Lucille Hardy, the captain’s daughter.
The captain had yielded against his will to Lucille’s pleadings to be allowed to come on the voyage.
He knew better than she did the mighty risk involved.