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|Round the Moon||Jules Verne|
A MOMENT OF INTOXICATION
|Page 3 of 6||
"That would have been sad," said Nicholl.
"Ah!" continued Michel, "what I regret is not being able to take a walk outside. What voluptuousness to float amid this radiant ether, to bathe oneself in it, to wrap oneself in the sun's pure rays. If Barbicane had only thought of furnishing us with a diving apparatus and an air-pump, I could have ventured out and assumed fanciful attitudes of feigned monsters on the top of the projectile."
"Well, old Michel," replied Barbicane, "you would not have made a feigned monster long, for in spite of your diver's dress, swollen by the expansion of air within you, you would have burst like a shell, or rather like a balloon which has risen too high. So do not regret it, and do not forget this-- as long as we float in space, all sentimental walks beyond the projectile are forbidden."
Michel Ardan allowed himself to be convinced to a certain extent. He admitted that the thing was difficult but not impossible, a word which he never uttered.
The conversation passed from this subject to another, not failing him for an instant. It seemed to the three friends as though, under present conditions, ideas shot up in their brains as leaves shoot at the first warmth of spring. They felt bewildered. In the middle of the questions and answers which crossed each other, Nicholl put one question which did not find an immediate solution.
"Ah, indeed!" said he; "it is all very well to go to the moon, but how to get back again?"
His two interlocutors looked surprised. One would have thought that this possibility now occurred to them for the first time.
"What do you mean by that, Nicholl?" asked Barbicane gravely.
"To ask for means to leave a country," added Michel, "When we have not yet arrived there, seems to me rather inopportune."
"I do not say that, wishing to draw back," replied Nicholl; "but I repeat my question, and I ask, `How shall we return?'"
"I know nothing about it," answered Barbicane.
"And I," said Michel, "if I had known how to return, I would never have started."
"There's an answer!" cried Nicholl.
"I quite approve of Michel's words," said Barbicane; "and add, that the question has no real interest. Later, when we think it is advisable to return, we will take counsel together. If the Columbiad is not there, the projectile will be."
"That is a step certainly. A ball without a gun!"
"The gun," replied Barbicane, "can be manufactured. The powder can be made. Neither metals, saltpeter, nor coal can fail in the depths of the moon, and we need only go 8,000 leagues in order to fall upon the terrestrial globe by virtue of the mere laws of weight."
"Enough," said Michel with animation. "Let it be no longer a question of returning: we have already entertained it too long. As to communicating with our former earthly colleagues, that will not be difficult."
"By means of meteors launched by lunar volcanoes."
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