His volubility was brought to a sudden check by Servadac's bidding two of the sailors, without more ado, to take him in their arms and put him quietly down at the bottom of the car.
To the great regret of their owners, the two horses and Nina's pet goat were obliged to be left behind. The only creature for which there was found a place was the carrier-pigeon that had brought the professor's message to the Hive. Servadac thought it might probably be of service in carrying some communication to the earth.
When every one, except the captain and his orderly, had taken their places, Servadac said, "Get in, Ben Zoof."
"After you, sir," said Ben Zoof, respectfully.
"No, no!" insisted Servadac; "the captain must be the last to leave the ship!"
A moment's hesitation and the orderly clambered over the side of the car. Servadac followed. The cords were cut. The balloon rose with stately calmness into the air.
When the balloon had reached an elevation of about 2,500 yards, Lieutenant Procope determined to maintain it at that level. A wire-work stove, suspended below the casing, and filled with lighted hay, served to keep the air in the interior at a proper temperature.
Beneath their feet was extended the basin of the Gallian Sea. An inconsiderable speck to the north marked the site of Gourbi Island. Ceuta and Gibraltar, which might have been expected in the west, had utterly disappeared. On the south rose the volcano, the extremity of the promontory that jutted out from the continent that formed the framework of the sea; whilst in every direction the strange soil, with its commixture of tellurium and gold, gleamed under the sun's rays with a perpetual iridescence.