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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 100, February 21, 1891   By:

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PUNCH,

OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 100.

February 21, 1891.

MR. PUNCH'S PRIZE NOVELS.

NO. XIII. THROUGH SPACE ON A FORMULA.

( BY RULES SPURN, AUTHOR OF "GOWNED AND CURLED IN EIGHTY STAYS," "TWENTY THOUSAND TWEAKS SUNDERED THE FLEA," "A TEA WITH ICE," "A DOCTOR ON ROCKS AND PEPPERMINT," "A CAB FARE FROM 'THE SUN,'" "THE CONFIDENCE OF THE CONTINENT," "ATTORNEY TO DISSENTERS UP AT PERTH," "LIEUTENANT SCATTERCASH," &C. )

["This," writes the Author, "is one of my best and freshest, although on a moderate computation it must be my thousand and first, or so. But I have really lost count. Still it's grand to talk in large numbers of leagues, miles, vastnesses, secrets, mysteries, and impossible sciences. Some pedants imagine that I write in French. That's absurd, for every schoolboy knows (and lots of them have told me) that I write only in English or in American. I have some highly dried samples of vivid adventure ready for immediate consumption. Twopence more and up goes the donkey, up, up, up to be a satellite to an undiscovered star. Brave Donkey! I follow." R.S.]

CHAPTER I.

The iceberg was moving. There was no doubt of it. Moving with a terrible sinuous motion. Occasionally an incautious ironclad approached like a foolish hen, and pecked at the moving mass. Then there was a slight crash, followed by a mild convulsion of masts, and spars, and iron plates, and 100 ton guns, then two or three gurgles and all was still. The iceberg passed on smiling in triumph, and British Admirals wrote to the Times to declare that they had known from the first that H.M.S. Thunderbomb had been so faultily constructed, as to make a contest with a hen coop a certainty for the hen coop.

[Illustration]

And still the iceberg was moving. Within its central chamber sat a venerable man, lightly clad in nankeen breeches, a cap of liberty, and a Liberty silk shirt. He was writing cabalistically. He did not know why, nor did he know what "cabalistically" meant. This was his punishment. Why was he to be punished? Those who read shall hear. The walls of the chamber were fitted with tubes, and electric wires, and knobs and buttons. A bright fire burned on the hearth. The thick Brussels carpet was littered with pot boilers, all fizzing, and sputtering, and steaming, like so many young Curates at a Penny Reading. Suddenly the Philosopher looked up. He spoke to himself. "Everything is ready," he said, and pressed a button by his side. There was a sound as of a Continent expectorating, a distant nose seemed to twang, the door opened, and a tall lantern jawed gentleman, wearing a goat beard and an expression of dauntless cunning, stepped into the room.

"I guess you were waiting round for me," said Colonel ZEDEKIAH D. GOBANG (for it was indeed he), and sat down in an empty armchair, as if nothing had happened.

The Philosopher appeared not to notice. "Next character, please," he said, pulling out a long stop, and placing his square leg on the wicket which gave admission to his laboratory, while he waited for the entrance of the Third Man. There came a murmur like the buzz of a ton of blasting powder, in a state of excitement. A choir of angels seemed to whisper "Beefsteak and Pale Ale," as Lord JOHN BULLPUP dashed, without a trace of emotion, into the room, and sneezed three times without stopping to wipe his boots on the mat.

"One more," said the Philosopher. He hurled himself, feet first, at the ceiling, knocked his head against the floor, and called down the tube. " J'y suis! " came the answer, and the typical, light hearted Frenchman, M. le Docteur REVERSI, with his thousand thunders, and his blue lower chest, tripped jauntily up to the other three. "And now," remarked the Philosopher, "we have got the lot complete. The story can start. Hurry up! Hark forrard! En avant! "

CHAPTER II.

"Lend me your ears," said the Philosopher. They lent them, but without interest. Yet they were all keen business men... Continue reading book >>


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