Page:Germ Growers.djvu/258

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253
ESCAPE.

worse loss. The missile in question had been driven straight through the wall-bag which held our provisions, and nearly all of them had fallen through the hole which had been pierced through the floor of the car. It was surely no chance which had given the missile its precise direction. It was almost incredible skill and altogether diabolical malignity. We thought that our enemy had aimed at our bodies and had missed his aim: he knew better: the purpose of his missile was to cause our miserable death in the wilderness.

Jack put in action the machinery by which the balloons were filled, and endeavoured to trim them so as to act together. But it proved quite impossible to do so. The rent in the injured balloon was increasing slowly under the pressure of the gas, and it was evident that it would very soon be quite useless. Jack sang out to me to connect the batteries and to set the paddles in motion. I did so at once and I soon perceived why I was told to do so. The injured balloon was now collapsing so rapidly that we were in great danger of being upset by the one-sided buoyancy of the car. It was necessary to empty the other balloon as quickly as possible in order to keep the car in such a position that we could keep our seats. And the rapid emptying of the balloons would have dashed us to the ground but