Dropped from the Clouds

Chapter 1

“Arewerisingagain?”“No.Onthecontrary.”“Arewedescending?”“Worsethanthat,captain!wearefalling!”“ForHeaven’ssakeheaveouttheballast!”“There!thelastsackisempty!”“Doestheballoonrise?”“No!”“Ihearanoiselikethedashingofwaves.Theseaisbelowthecar!Itcannotbemorethan500feetfromus!”“Overboardwitheveryweight!...everything!”

Suchweretheloudandstartlingwordswhichresoundedthroughtheair,abovethevastwaterydesertofthePacific,aboutfouro’clockintheeveningofthe23rdofMarch,1865.

Fewcanpossiblyhaveforgottentheterriblestormfromthenortheast,inthemiddleoftheequinoxofthatyear.Thetempestragedwithoutintermissionfromthe18thtothe26thofMarch.ItsravageswereterribleinAmerica,Europe,andAsia,coveringadistanceofeighteenhundredmiles,andextendingobliquelytotheequatorfromthethirty-fifthnorthparalleltothefortiethsouthparallel.Townswereoverthrown,forestsuprooted,coastsdevastatedbythemountainsofwaterwhichwereprecipitatedonthem,vesselscastontheshore,whichthepublishedaccountsnumberedbyhundreds,wholedistrictsleveledbywaterspoutswhichdestroyedeverythingtheypassedover,severalthousandpeoplecrushedonlandordrownedatsea;suchwerethetracesofitsfury,leftbythisdevastatingtempest.ItsurpassedindisastersthosewhichsofrightfullyravagedHavanaandGuadalupe,oneonthe25thofOctober,1810,theotheronthe26thofJuly,1825.

Butwhilesomanycatastrophesweretakingplaceonlandandatsea,adramanotlessexcitingwasbeingenactedintheagitatedair.

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