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Book II Jules Verne

A Revised Calendar

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Table Of Contents: Off on a Comet

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"Just about 5,000 times less than the earth," observed the lieutenant.

"Nice little comet! pretty little comet!" said Ben Zoof.

The professor scowled at him, and was manifestly annoyed at having the insignificant dimensions of his comet pointed out in so disparaging a manner. Lieutenant Procope further remarked that from the earth he supposed it to be about as conspicuous as a star of the seventh magnitude, and would require a good telescope to see it.

"Ha, ha!" laughed the orderly, aloud; "charming little comet! so pretty; and so modest!"

"You rascal!" roared the professor, and clenched his hand in passion, as if about to strike him. Ben Zoof laughed the more, and was on the point of repeating his satirical comments, when a stern order from the captain made him hold his tongue. The truth was that the professor was just as sensitive about his comet as the orderly was about Montmartre, and if the contention between the two had been allowed to go on unchecked, it is impossible to say what serious quarrel might not have arisen.

When Professor Rosette's equanimity had been restored, he said, "Thus, then, gentlemen, the diameter, the surface, the volume of my comet are settled; but there is more to be done. I shall not be satisfied until, by actual measurement, I have determined its mass, its density, and the force of gravity at its surface."

"A laborious problem," remarked Count Timascheff.

"Laborious or not, it has to be accomplished. I am resolved to find out what my comet weighs."

"Would it not be of some assistance, if we knew of what substance it is composed?" asked the lieutenant.

"That is of no moment at all," replied the professor; "the problem is independent of it."

"Then we await your orders," was the captain's reply.

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"You must understand, however," said Rosette, "that there are various preliminary calculations to be made; you will have to wait till they are finished."

"As long as you please," said the count.

"No hurry at all," observed the captain, who was not in the least impatient to continue his mathematical exercises.

"Then, gentlemen," said the astronomer, "with your leave we will for this purpose make an appointment a few weeks hence. What do you say to the 62d of April?"

Without noticing the general smile which the novel date provoked, the astronomer left the hall, and retired to his observatory.

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Off on a Comet
Jules Verne

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