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|Book II||Jules Verne|
The Venture Made
|Page 5 of 5||
"It's only my little bit of money, your Excellency; my modest little fortune-- a mere bagatelle," said the Jew.
"And what may your little fortune weigh?" inquired the captain.
"Only about sixty-six pounds!" said Isaac.
"Sixty-six pounds!" cried Servadac. "We haven't reckoned for this."
"Merciful heavens!" began the Jew.
"Sixty-six pounds!" repeated Servadac. "We can hardly carry ourselves; we can't have any dead weight here. Pitch it out, man, pitch it out!"
"God of Israel!" whined Hakkabut.
"Out with it, I say!" cried Servadac.
"What, all my money, which I have saved so long, and toiled for so hard?"
"It can't be helped," said the captain, unmoved.
"Oh, your Excellency!" cried the Jew.
"Now, old Nicodemus, listen to me," interposed Ben Zoof; "you just get rid of that pouch of yours, or we will get rid of you. Take your choice. Quick, or out you go!"
The avaricious old man was found to value his life above his money; he made a lamentable outcry about it, but he unfastened his girdle at last, and put it out of the car.
Very different was the case with Palmyrin Rosette. He avowed over and over again his intention of never quitting the nucleus of his comet. Why should he trust himself to a balloon, that would blaze up like a piece of paper? Why should he leave the comet? Why should he not go once again upon its surface into the far-off realms of space?
His volubility was brought to a sudden check by Servadac's bidding two of the sailors, without more ado, to take him in their arms and put him quietly down at the bottom of the car.
To the great regret of their owners, the two horses and Nina's pet goat were obliged to be left behind. The only creature for which there was found a place was the carrier-pigeon that had brought the professor's message to the Hive. Servadac thought it might probably be of service in carrying some communication to the earth.
When every one, except the captain and his orderly, had taken their places, Servadac said, "Get in, Ben Zoof."
"After you, sir," said Ben Zoof, respectfully.
"No, no!" insisted Servadac; "the captain must be the last to leave the ship!"
A moment's hesitation and the orderly clambered over the side of the car. Servadac followed. The cords were cut. The balloon rose with stately calmness into the air.
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