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Robur the Conqueror   By: (1828-1905)

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Jules Verne


I Mysterious sounds II Agreement Impossible III A Visitor is Announced IV In Which a New Character Appears V Another Disappearance VI The President and Secretary Suspend Hostilities VII On board the Albatross VIII The Balloonists Refuse to be Convinced IX Across the Prairie X Westward but Whither? XI The Wide Pacific XII Through the Himalayas XIII Over the Caspian XIV The Aeronef at Full Speed XV A Skirmish in Dahomey XVI Over the Atlantic XVII The Shipwrecked Crew XVIII Over the Volcano XIX Anchored at Last XX The Wreck of the Albatross XXI The Institute Again XXII The Go Ahead is Launched XXIII The Grand Collapse

Chapter I


BANG! Bang!

The pistol shots were almost simultaneous. A cow peacefully grazing fifty yards away received one of the bullets in her back. She had nothing to do with the quarrel all the same.

Neither of the adversaries was hit.

Who were these two gentlemen? We do not know, although this would be an excellent opportunity to hand down their names to posterity. All we can say is that the elder was an Englishman and the younger an American, and both of them were old enough to know better.

So far as recording in what locality the inoffensive ruminant had just tasted her last tuft of herbage, nothing can be easier. It was on the left bank of Niagara, not far from the suspension bridge which joins the American to the Canadian bank three miles from the falls.

The Englishman stepped up to the American.

"I contend, nevertheless, that it was 'Rule Britannia!'"

"And I say it was 'Yankee Doodle!'" replied the young American.

The dispute was about to begin again when one of the seconds doubtless in the interests of the milk trade interposed.

"Suppose we say it was 'Rule Doodle' and 'Yankee Britannia' and adjourn to breakfast?"

This compromise between the national airs of Great Britain and the United States was adopted to the general satisfaction. The Americans and Englishmen walked up the left bank of the Niagara on their way to Goat Island, the neutral ground between the falls. Let us leave them in the presence of the boiled eggs and traditional ham, and floods enough of tea to make the cataract jealous, and trouble ourselves no more about them. It is extremely unlikely that we shall again meet with them in this story.

Which was right; the Englishman or the American? It is not easy to say. Anyhow the duel shows how great was the excitement, not only in the new but also in the old world, with regard to an inexplicable phenomenon which for a month or more had driven everybody to distraction.

Never had the sky been so much looked at since the appearance of man on the terrestrial globe. The night before an aerial trumpet had blared its brazen notes through space immediately over that part of Canada between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Some people had heard those notes as "Yankee Doodle," others had heard them as "Rule Britannia," and hence the quarrel between the Anglo Saxons, which ended with the breakfast on Goat Island. Perhaps it was neither one nor the other of these patriotic tunes, but what was undoubted by all was that these extraordinary sounds had seemed to descend from the sky to the earth.

What could it be? Was it some exuberant aeronaut rejoicing on that sonorous instrument of which the Renommée makes such obstreperous use?

No! There was no balloon and there were no aeronauts. Some strange phenomenon had occurred in the higher zones of the atmosphere, a phenomenon of which neither the nature nor the cause could be explained. Today it appeared over America; forty eight hours afterwards it was over Europe; a week later it was in Asia over the Celestial Empire.

Hence in every country of the world empire, kingdom, or republic there was anxiety which it was important to allay... Continue reading book >>

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