Hardly had “Meteor” made the leap from the Earth’s atmosphere into the infinite Space before the Professor hurried down to his Desk in the Observation Room. Here he sat down and listened to the high hook in the taut steel plates, which gave way in the strong cold.
For a moment he was almost afraid that the joints would burst; but it was useless anxiety. The steel held, and the Bragene grew weaker and weaker, until at last they ceased altogether. But then something new began. A monotonous sound was heard, almost as if one could imagine millions and millions of infinitely tiny little bodies striking the ship from outside with immense force.
It was a strange, ringing Citrine, which neither took off nor on, but remained unchanged.
The professor sat for a long time with his head propped up Hands and listened to it. This rhythmic song brought him a message about the presence of the force that was to lead them all to the distant globe. It proved the accuracy of his theories and calculations and sounded in his ear like a fine, melodic voice that foretold him the events he was to experience and the things he was to see.
His lips narrowed to a faint smile.
At once the door opened, and the Doctor entered.
“Well, here you sit, Professor, in the loneliness and your own thoughts,” he said, “have you completely forgotten our beautiful Passage?”
The professor did not answer his question; his soul was still so far into the labyrinth of his thoughts.
“Can you hear it?” He asked, slowly turning his head towards the doctor.
“Well, the singing sound,” replied Burd, “it is probably the steel that gives way in the cold!”
Stone was instantly himself again.
“The steel which gives way in the cold!” For it out of him, “it is the impact of the ether parts against the metal plates of the ship. A more beautiful proof of the correctness of my theory is inconceivable! ”
“You live and breathe only for your science,” laughed the doctor, “while you have been sitting here, we others have heard of Miss Gray’s story. She have even told us it all. It sincerely hurts me for that poor girl. The skin is completely against her. I am convinced, and so are the others, that she can never have committed the crime for which she has been accused and convicted. ”
“Yes, committed and committed,” said Stone, “she must have done something. One does not then convict a completely innocent person of murder. That would be too – – – «
“They see that she has been convicted,” the Doctor interrupted sharply, “although everything was against her. The uncle she used to get almost well again; then he suddenly has a relapse and dies. She had been in his room all night; The cause of death was an overdose of Morphine. Morphine is found in the almost empty drinking glass, and in her closet you will find two morphine powders, each of which is enough to get rid of three people. Then there is this half-cousin, who sees a powder coming into the glass from the window. ”
Stone attentively followed the Doctor’s Speech. Then there was a moment of silence, and again the monotonous sound of the etheric parts was heard.
“Is she perfectly normal?” Stone asked suddenly.
“Normal,” Burd replied in astonishment, “she is as sane as you and I are.”
“Then this is the strangest case I have ever heard of,” said Stone, “I can hardly believe her guilt. A completely normal human being cannot act so illogically. Imagine: you want a thing, in this case an inheritance, you devise a means by which you can come into possession of what you want. But this means is also of such a nature that by using it one not only loses all hope, but even plunges himself into misfortune. Do you know what? It is a mystery to me that a judge and a jury can not reason sensibly. ”
“Yes, were the judiciary,” said Burd, “then I think – – -”
“But, of course, there must be a reason,” Stone continued, “it is not entirely out of the blue that she has been accused as the culprit; there must be someone who is interested in her being taken off the road. And there you see exactly the logical. This person wants to get his fingers in the legacy. She stands in the way of him, and by clearing her away – – -! “Yes, that’s how it must be,” he interrupted himself, “there is another who should inherit, if she were not worthy, and this other has so – – -”
“Kill two flies with one blow,” continued the doctor, »Got the uncle killed and her out of the way. Stone, you’re a whole Sherlock Holmes! ‘
Here he paused for a moment.
“But it’s all just guesses,” he said with a sigh, “she has been convicted, and although we may be able to get the case back when we return, she must still go to prison. Mac Carty is not the man who lets go of his prey once he has laid his hand on it, and hidden is not forgotten! ”
Stone wanted to answer when the door opened and the much talked about young lady entered, accompanied by Dillingham and Hyde.
“Here you see the observation room,” said Hyde, “and I must imagine Professor Stone, in whose ingenious brain the whole plan has arisen.”
Stone got up and bowed, looking sharply at her.
Nor did her beauty fail to make a certain impression on him, and soon after he was in full swing showing and explaining to her the various instruments which he had standing around him on the table.
He was just in the process of using the spectroscope when the clock inside the salon sounded three beats. They had hardly died before there was a loud and heartfelt sound well-meaning Gaben from Handerson, who was sitting in a chair in there.
This was a most welcome occasion for Dillingham to stop the Stones’ Lecture by offering the young Girl her Lukaf. He himself wanted to thank the sofa in the Doctor’s Lukaf.
She thanked him with a smile, and soon after they had all prepared for the “night,” while the ship sailed through infinite space like the meteor it was named after.
When the clock struck what on the ground corresponded to 10 the next morning, Dillingham awoke.
The first thing he did, as usual, was stick his hand out after the bell string to ring his morning drink. For a long time he lay half-awake and blessed the bewildered servant, until it suddenly dawned on him that it was really his harnesses that he was lying and pulling on; they hung on a chair near the sofa.
With a leap he was out on the floor.
“I had completely forgotten that,” he exclaimed, “I am going through space. – I must be ashamed! So for Søren, I do not have any hot shaving water. It is then also purely impossible the whole thing. ‘Here his voice sank down to a hum, as he came up with some more private utterances which cannot be so well reproduced. Then he hurried to get dressed, despite the lack of shaving water to fill his toilet.
In the Salon he found the others sitting around the Lunch Table.
“Good morning,” said the Doctor, “it is very early, you have come up today.”
Dillingham greeted and sat down.
When they were at the Coffee, the Professor got up. “They probably apologize for me retiring,” he said; “But I have to go to my instruments.” Then he disappeared into his observatory.
“How learned is he,” said the young girl, “I wish I could understand a little more of everything he explained to me.”
“Aah, do not care,” said Dillingham, “one can still live a happy life without being in the higher Astronomy or knowing what (a + b) ⁶ is.”
“When do you think we can be on this planet — is it not Mars?” Ethel asked, turning to the doctor.
“According to the Professor’s Calculations in 10 Days,” he replied, “it is …” Here he was interrupted of Stone, who came rushing out of his Observatory like a Troll of a Box.
“The man is mad!” He shouted, “he is destroying us all.”
With these strange words he ran like a rocket out of the door, so that he had almost knocked over the whole lunch table. The others sat as petrified. Finally, the Doctor took the floor.
“Since it can not be himself that he mentions so aptly, there must surely be something wrong going on.”
Everyone got up and hurried out the door and up into the tower, from where the professor’s angry voice could be heard.
A most strange sight appeared to them.
Leslie stood with her back to the wall, and in front of him the professor danced a genuine unadulterated dance of war, which would have made the wildest Zulu coffee pale with envy.
“Are you mad?” He shouted, “do you know that you have ruined it all? We are helpless … «
“But Professor,” cried Burd, “what in the world has happened?”
“Yes, imagine,” gasped Stone, “I am sitting down in my Observatory; then I suddenly catch sight of a glimmer of light through the pane; and then it is the man there who has lit one of the headlights, and the Light has struck a Meteorite. And now you know that when a meteorite is struck by the rays of light, “- here he involuntarily fell into his lecture tone -” then it will change direction and go perpendicular to its original path. Which means that in a moment it will meet with the Ship, and we are hopelessly lost! ”
The others stood utterly appalled. The professor had never been wrong in anything concerning calculations, so everything was over. –
It was at this crucial moment that Dillingham was given the opportunity to show what he was capable of.
He had been rather incomprehensible to all the scientific theories; but here was then a practical case. It reminded him of a collision with an iceberg some years ago, when he was on an expedition in the South Seas, and where his presence of mind had saved him and all his comrades from certain doom.
Now he was the only one who was the position adult. In the general confusion no one had thought of turning off the light. Calmly he stretched out his hand and pulled the cord over. Immediately the great Bow Lamp went out. One or two seconds later there was a bang, and the whole ship shook and creaked.
“All the gods stand by us!” Cried Burd involuntarily.
For the next few minutes there was deep silence. To everyone’s astonishment, nothing happened.
“It must have been the rudder that took a turn,” said Leslie.
The engineer went to the Voice Tube.
“Start the machine!” He shouted.
Shortly afterwards, the noise from the engine was heard.
“It is well! Stop it again! – Thank God! The screws have not been damaged, “he exclaimed with relief.
“If only none of the Professor’s Screws had been damaged,” Dillingham remarked.
It almost looked like that, because when the bang sounded, Stone had gotten up and had staggered out the door.
“Let’s go down and look for him,” said the doctor.
To their astonishment, they found Stone, who was sitting healthy and well-kept down in the salon, in deep conversation with the young girl. When the others entered, he immediately broke off and began to talk about something else, and a moment later he got up and went into the Observation Room.
The doctor hurried after him and found him sitting at the desk with his face hidden in his hands.
As the door opened, he straightened up and turned toward the intruder.
“I do not understand,” he said, sliding his hand over his forehead, “I talked to her about this inheritance case.”
“Well,” Burd asked excitedly, “did you find out anything of interest?”
‘I asked about this Cousin, you know. I asked her to tell me if it was he who was to inherit Uncle? ”
“And she answered?”
“She certainly said no,” Stone said.
The doctor shook his head.
“It’s a very complicated matter,” he said, “but, Professor! Shall we promise each other to do what we can for that poor Girl and to fight to prove her Innocence if we return to Earth. ”
Stone held out his hand. Burd grabbed it, and the two men looked each other in the eyes.
Then the doctor turned and went back to the others.
A moment later the professor also appeared.
“I did not think you were so good at calculations, Sir. “Dillingham,” he said, sitting comfortably in a chair, “I could never at that speed have calculated the formula for the meteor which escapes the light.”
“The formula,” Dillingham exclaimed in astonishment, “I did not calculate any formula. I heard you talk about the Light that attracted the Meteor. Then everyone can switch off. ”
“Wrong! Quite wrong, “Stone said. ‘Their Theory is completely mad, though the Result happened to be true. The … «
“Let it be better now,” Hyde interrupted, “the main thing is that we escaped unscathed.”
Stone mumbled something, and it was clear to see that he was anything but obvious to give up the Controversy. It was only through the young girl’s involvement that the dispute was resolved.
In the following days they gradually became accustomed to the new conditions, and everything went its regular course. The young girl’s rather sudden appearance at such a critical time had played its part in making the transition from the known to the unknown less abrupt.
They had all been so preoccupied with her – and it was still so in part – that they almost forgot to feel the oppressive horror that was brooding around them to all sides, and from which they were separated only by the thin metal wall.
The loneliness, the cold and the darkness out there lay before them as if hidden behind a dense veil; they knew there was something, but did not think about it. If nothing happened and everything went well, there was nothing to fear. And should anything happen, then all hope of salvation would be irrevocable, absolutely in vain. –
On the 11th day, everyone was on their feet. Hyde himself stood in the Boardroom and held on to the Regulation turn. The others stood beside. The professor had the chronometer in his hand, and his eye followed the second hand’s gait attentively.
“Now!” He shouted suddenly.
“Full force!” Hyde shouted down to the machine.
“Bake!” Stone shouted.
The engineer turned the Wheel. It gave a shock to the whole ship, so that they all tumbled over. Stone was immediately on his feet.
“Forward!” He shouted.
The wheel was turned again. For barely a second there was a dead silence, then all of a sudden the deep hum and hiss of the screws could be heard floating in the air.
Stone sighed a sigh of relief.
“Finally!” He exclaimed, ” now we are on Mars!”