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Book II Jules Verne

The Professor's Experiences

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Table Of Contents: Off on a Comet

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"And may I ask," said Procope, deferentially, "whether you have got the elements of the fresh orbit?"


"Then perhaps you know--"

" I know this, sir, that at 47 minutes 35.6 seconds after two o'clock on the morning of the 1st of January last, Gallia, in passing its ascending node, came in contact with the earth; that on the 10th of January it crossed the orbit of Venus; that it reached its perihelion on the 15th; that it re-crossed the orbit of Venus; that on the 1st of February it passed its descending node; on the 13th crossed the orbit of Mars; entered the zone of the telescopic planets on the 10th of March, and, attracting Nerina, carried it off as a satellite."

Servadac interposed:

"We are already acquainted with well-nigh all these extraordinary facts; many of them, moreover, we have learned from documents which we have picked up, and which, although unsigned, we cannot entertain a doubt have originated with you."

Professor Rosette drew himself up proudly and said: "Of course, they originated with me. I sent them off by hundreds. From whom else could they come?"

"From no one but yourself, certainly," rejoined the count, with grave politeness.

Hitherto the conversation had thrown no light upon the future movements of Gallia, and Rosette was disposed apparently to evade, or at least to postpone, the subject. When, therefore, Lieutenant Procope was about to press his inquiries in a more categorical form, Servadac, thinking it advisable not prematurely to press the little savant too far, interrupted him by asking the professor how he accounted for the earth having suffered so little from such a formidable concussion.

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"I account for it in this way," answered Rosette: "the earth was traveling at the rate of 28,000 leagues an hour, and Gallia at the rate of 57,000 leagues an hour, therefore the result was the same as though a train rushing along at a speed of about 86,000 leagues an hour had suddenly encountered some obstacle. The nucleus of the comet, being excessively hard, has done exactly what a ball would do fired with that velocity close to a pane of glass. It has crossed the earth without cracking it."

"It is possible you may be right," said Servadac, thoughtfully.

"Right! of course I am right!" replied the snappish professor. Soon, however, recovering his equanimity, he continued: "It is fortunate that the earth was only touched obliquely; if the comet had impinged perpendicularly, it must have plowed its way deep below the surface, and the disasters it might have caused are beyond reckoning. Perhaps," he added, with a smile, "even Montmartre might not have survived the calamity."

"Sir!" shouted Ben Zoof, quite unable to bear the unprovoked attack.

"Quiet, Ben Zoof!" said Servadac sternly.

Fortunately for the sake of peace, Isaac Hakkabut, who at length was beginning to realize something of the true condition of things, came forward at this moment, and in a voice trembling with eagerness, implored the professor to tell him when they would all be back again upon the earth.

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Off on a Comet
Jules Verne

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