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Topsy-Turvy By Jules Verne Characters: 7001

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04

After this public notice there was nothing left but to wait for the coming danger or to run away to the neutral lines, where there would be no danger. The threatened people were, in general, divided into two classes-"the people who would be suffocated and those who would be drowned." This communication roused many different suggestions, which, however, all turned into the strongest and most violent protestations against the schemer and schemers. Among those who would suffocate were the Americans in the United States, the Europeans of France, England, Spain, etc. Even the prospect of annexing territories now at the bottom of the ocean was not sufficient to make them quietly accept these changes. Paris, carried towards the new pole a distance about equal to that which separates it now from the old one, would gain nothing by it. It would have a continued Spring, it is true, but it would lose considerable air. And this was not satisfactory to the Parisians, who like to have as much air as possible, and boulevard property and cafés went begging. Among those who would be drowned were the inhabitants of South America, of Australia, Canada, India, Zealand, etc. Great Britain would suffer the loss of her richest colonies, which Barbicane & Co. would take away from her through their operation. Evidently the Gulf of Mexico would constitute a vast kingdom of the Antilles, of which the Yankees and Mexicans could claim possession by the principles of the Monroe doctrine. The islands of the Philippines, Celebes and the water around them would leave vast territories of which the English and Spanish people could take possession. It is a vain compensation. It did not at all balance the loss due to the terrible flood.

If under the new oceans only Samoyedens, Lapons of Siberia, Feugans, Patogonians-even Tartars, Chinese, Japanese, or a few Argentines-would suffer and be lost, perhaps the civilized powers would have accepted this sacrifice complacently. But too many powers took part in the great catastrophe not to raise a torrent of protest.

And what especially concerned Europe was, that although the central part of it would be nearly intact, it would be raised in the west and lowered in the east, half suffocated on one side and half drowned on the other. This was not very acceptable. The Mediterranean Sea would be almost emptied, and this would not be very agreeable to the Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards, Greeks, Turks, and Egyptians, who by their situation on the coast, had indisputable rights in ocean travel. And then, what good would be the Suez Canal, which would be saved by its position on the neutral line? But what use could be made of this immense work of Lesseps when there was no longer the Mediterranean on one side of the isthmus and the Red Sea on the other, at least, within any reasonable distance of it?

No, never, never would England consent to see Gibralter, Malta, and Cyprus transformed into mountain-tops, lost in the clouds, so that its men-of-war could no longer approach them. No, she would not be satisfied with the possession of some of the territory which would be gained from the Atlantic Ocean. Major Donellan had, however, prepared already to return to Europe to secure his rights on this new territory in case the operation of Barbicane & Co. should succeed. It is seen how protests came from all parts of the world, even from States where the changes would be imperceptible, because their people were interested in some other directi

on more or less.

These protestations became more and more violent after the arrival of the cablegram from Zanzibar which indicated the point of shooting, and which it was found necessary to publish the above report to explain. President Barbicane and Captain Nicholl as well as J.T. Maston, were put under the ban of humanity and declared outlaws. But what a business all this created for the newspapers. What sales they had, and how the circulations ran up; how on many occasions they were forced to print extra editions. It is perhaps the first time in journalistic history that they were all united with each other, as they generally quarrel incessantly. This was not a European or an American affair; it was an affair which concerned the whole world. It was like a bomb falling into a powder magazine.

In regard to Maston, it looked as if his last hour had come. A rabid crowd rushed into his prison on the evening of Sept. 17, with the intention of lynching him, and the jailer did not put any obstacles in their way. They rushed along the corridor but the cell of J.T. Maston was empty. Mrs. Evangelina Scorbitt had come to his help with a heavy purse of gold, and he had made his escape. The jailer had been bribed by an amount of money on which he could live the rest of his life without working. He remembered that Baltimore, Washington, New York, and many of the principal cities of America were on the line of those parts which would be raised, and which would still have enough air for the daily consumption of their inhabitants.

J.T. Maston had gained a quiet resting spot and a safe place from the enraged crowd of people, and so this great man owed his life to the devotion of a loving woman. There were only four days to wait, four days only before the gigantic operation of Barbicane & Co. would be accomplished. The public notice had been read far and wide and had created as much public excitement as such a momentous document only could. If there were at the beginning a few sceptics on the subject, there were none at present. The various governments had notified in haste those of their provinces which would be raised into the air and those, a much larger number, the territory of which would be overrun with water. In consequence of this advice sent by telegraph over the five continents of the world an emigration began such as had never been seen before. Every race was represented, white, black, brown, yellow, etc., in one chromatic procession. Unhappily, time was wanting for all to secure safety. The hours were now counted. A few months notice would be required for the Chinese to leave China, the Australians, Australia, the Siberians, Siberia. In some instances the danger was a local one as soon as the place of the shooting was known, so the fright became less general. Some provinces and even some States began to feel easy again. In a word, except in the regions directly threatened, there was only felt an apprehension of the terrible shock. And during all this time Alcide Pierdeux was saying to himself, "How in the wide world can President Barbicane make a cannon a million times larger than that of twenty-seven centimetre? This Maston, I would like very much to meet him-to have with him a talk upon this subject. This does not agree with anything sensible, it is too enormous and too improbable."

Be this as it may, the failure of the operation was the only hope which was left for certain parts of the world to escape more terrible destruction.

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