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42. CHAPTER FORTY-SECOND.
A Struggle of Generosity.--The Last Sacrifice.--The Dilating Apparatus. --Joe's Adroitness.--Midnight.--The Doctor's Watch.--Kennedy's Watch. --The Latter falls asleep at his Post.--The Fire.--The Howlings of the Natives.--Out of Range.
Doctor Ferguson's first care was to take his bearings by stellar observation, and he discovered that he was scarcely twenty-five miles from Senegal.
"All that we can manage to do, my friends," said he, after having pointed his map, "is to cross the river; but, as there is neither bridge nor boat, we must, at all hazards, cross it with the balloon, and, in order to do that, we must still lighten up."
"But I don't exactly see how we can do that?" replied Kennedy, anxious about his fire-arms, "unless one of us makes up his mind to sacrifice himself for the rest,--that is, to stay behind, and, in my turn, I claim that honor."
"You, indeed!" remonstrated Joe; "ain't I used to--"
"The question now is, not to throw ourselves out of the car, but simply to reach the coast of Africa on foot. I am a first-rate walker, a good sportsman, and--"
"I'll never consent to it!" insisted Joe.
"Your generous rivalry is useless, my brave friends," said Ferguson; "I trust that we shall not come to any such extremity: besides, if we did, instead of separating, we should keep together, so as to make our way across the country in company."
"That's the talk," said Joe; "a little tramp won't do us any harm."
"But before we try that," resumed the doctor, "we must employ a last means of lightening the balloon."
"What will that be? I should like to see it," said Kennedy, incredulously.
"We must get rid of the cylinder-chests, the spiral, and the Buntzen battery. Nine hundred pounds make a rather heavy load to carry through the air."
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