had traversed a couple of miles on level ground. Gallia had its drawbacks, but it had some compensating advantages.
Telescopes in hand, the explorers from the summit scanned the surrounding view. Their anticipations had already realized what they saw. Just as they expected, on the north, east, and west lay the Gallian Sea, smoothed and motionless as a sheet of glass, the cold having, as it were, congealed the atmosphere so that there was not a breath of wind. Towards the south there seemed no limit to the land, and the volcano formed the apex of a triangle, ofthe base was beyond the reach of vision. Viewed even from this height, whence distance would do much to soften the general asperity, the surface nevertheless seemed to be bristling with its myriads of hexagonal lamellæ, and to present difficulties which, to an ordinary pedestrian, would be insurmountable.
"Oh for some wings, or else a balloon!" cried Servadac, as he gazed around him; and then, looking down to the rock upon which they were standing, he added, "We seem to have been transplanted to a soil strange enough in its chemical character to bewilder the savants of a museum."
"And do you observe, captain," asked the count, "how the convexity of our little world curtails our view? See, how circumscribed is the horizon!"
Servadac replied that he had noticed the same circumstance from the top of the cliffs of Gourbi Island.
"Yes," said the count; "it becomes more and more obvious that ours is a very tiny world, and that Gourbi Island is the sole productive spot upon its surface. We have had a short summer, and who knows whether we are not entering upon a winter that may last for years, perhaps for centuries?"
"But we must not mind, count," said Servadac, smiling. "We have agreed, you know, that, come what may, we are to be philosophers."
"Ay, true, my friend," rejoined the count; "we must be philosophers and something more; we must be grateful to the good Protector who has hitherto befriended us, and we must trust His mercy to the end."
For a few moments they both stood in silence, and contemplated land and sea; then, having given a last glance over the dreary panorama, they prepared to wend their way down the mountain. Before they commenced their descent, however, they resolved to make a closer examination of the crater. They were particularly struck by what seemed to them almost the mysterious calmness with which the eruption was effected. There was none of the wild disorder and deafening tumult that usually accompany the discharge of volcanic matter, but the heated lava, rising with a uniform gentleness, quietly overran the limits of the crater, like the flow of water from the bosom of a peaceful lake. Instead of a boiler exposed to the action of an angry fire, the crater rather resembled a brimming basin, of which the contents were noiselessly escaping. Nor were there any igneous stones or red-hot cinders mingled with the smoke that crowned the summit; a circumstance that quite accorded with the absence of the pumice-stones, obsidians, and other minerals of volcanic origin with which the base of a burning mountain is generally strewn.
Captain Servadac was of opinion that this peculiarity augured favorably for the continuance of the eruption. Extreme violence in physical, as well as in moral nature, is never of long duration. The most terrible storms, like the most violent fits of passion, are not lasting; but here the calm flow of the liquid fire appeared to be supplied from a source that was inexhaustible, in the same way as the waters of Niagara, gliding on steadily to their final plunge, would defy all effort to arrest their course.
Before the evening of this day closed in, a most important change was effected in the condition of the Gallian Sea by the intervention of human agency. Notwithstanding the increasing cold, the sea, unruffled as it was by a breath of wind, still retained its liquid state. It is an established fact that water, under this condition of absolute stillness, will remain uncongealed at a temperature several degrees below zero, whilst experiment, at the same time, shows that a very slight shock will often be sufficient to convert it into solid ice.
It had occurred to Servadac that if some communication could be opened with Gourbi Island, there would be a fine scope for hunting expeditions. Having this ultimate object in view, he assembled his little colony upon a projecting rock at the extremity of the promontory, and having called Nina and Pablo out to him in front, he said: "Now, Nina, do you think you could throw something into the sea?"
"I think I could," replied the child, "but I am sure that Pablo would throw it a greatfurther than I can."
"Never mind, you shall try first."
Putting a fragment of ice into Nina's hand, he addressed himself to Pablo:
"Look out, Pablo ; you shall see what a nice little fairy Nina is! Throw, Nina, throw, as hard as you can."
Nina balanced the piece of ice two or three times in her hand, and threw it forward with all her strength.
A sudden thrill seemed to vibrate across the motionless waters to the distant horizon, and the Gallian Sea had become a solid sheet of ice!
When, three hours after sunset, on the 23rd of March, the Gallian moon rose upon the western horizon, it was observed that she had entered upon her last quarter. She had taken only four days to pass from syzygy to quadrature, and it was consequently evident that she would be visible for little more than a week at a time, and that her lunation would be accomplished within sixteen days. The lunar months, like the solar days, had been diminished by one-half. Three days later the moon was in conjunction with the sun, and was consequently lost to view; Ben Zoof, as the first observer of the satellite, was extremely interested in its movements, and wondered whether it would ever reappear.On the 26th, under an atmosphere perfectly clear and dry, the thermometer fell to 12° C. below zero. Of the present distance of Gallia from the sun, and the number of leagues she had traversed since the receipt of the last mysterious document, there were