OCR Interpretation

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, September 01, 1907, Sunday star, Image 42

Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1907-09-01/ed-1/seq-42/

What is OCR?

Thumbnail for 8

and he advanced a little, still all of a grin.
"If ye could craek a joke as they cracked your
crown," he says, "it wouldna' be a bad joke."
"See you here, man," I said in a confidential
tone, " I know whence this springs, and I blame you
not All is fair in the courts of love," I says, "and
1 have been a lover myself, and 1 know. But ye
make a mistake, a grievous one."
"Aye?" says he. listening.
"1 want not your wench," I says. "I am here
to-day and gone to-morrow. Moreover, 1 have a
wife. But, damme!" I says, "you cannot blame
me it 1 aatrure your sweetneart s preny iace.
"Aye, she's braw," he said shortly, and appeared
to be considering me.
" 'Tis a compliment, I take it. to have your wife
the butt of admiring eyes," I said, "so long as they
remain at a respectful distance. And, damme! if
I was not wed myself I should envy you your favor."
"Favor?" says he, staring.
"Why, yes," I said. " 'Twr.s but last night Mrs.
Battle told me you were to wed. Is't not so? Anyway
I made her my compliments, and 1 would ha
bussed her if she would ha let me. But, rip me! she
fetched me a clout of the head that stung."
I laughed. He stared; and then in a cautious
voice said he:
"I will be thinking I have been wronging yen,
my lad."
"Wronging!" I said bitterly. "Aye, you may
say that. You have been a Judas to me that
NO one need be reminded that W
the mere ascent of Mont Blanc __
is a serious physical feat for a strong ?
man in prime condition, with steady
head, and provided with trustworthy
ropes and first class guides and
porters. The tremendous crest is
swept by tierce blizzards even in
midsummer; and no man has yet
fathomed the eternal ice and snowon
that bald dome. More over, the
mountain has cost hundreds of
climbers their lives. I mention these
points to emphasize the astonishing
feat of carrying up all the necessary
building material for a fully equipped
sictroTinmi^nl anrl metporolot'iml ob- IP
servatory, and then erecting this
on the summit, nearly sixteen thousand
feet above sea level. Surely
here is a romance of enthusiastic
The idea was due to Dr. J.
Janssen of Paris, director of the
observatory at Meudon and president
of the French Academy of
Sciences. He made many ascents to
carry on spectroscopic observations,
tioorltr 1r\ct VllC It f<i
diiu 11 id 11 y tuiivo nvtiily jvol ma i"v I
on the way. On one occasion an I
immense ice mass fell from a towering
serac, missed the old scientist
hy a foot, and then went crashing into a fathomless
crevasse in the glacier.
Crawling over steep ice slopes, suffering severely
from mountain sickness, Janssen and his guides
would climb painfully to the summit of the dome.
Here the doctor, half frozen in mid August, and
barely able to stand erect in the furious icy gale,
looked down on a panorama that enchanted him
and made him resolve at all costs to establish an
observatory on so novel a point. He seemed above
and bevond the world altogether. Below him were
dotted the snowy summits of immense mountains,
far stretching glaciers of blue and green ice, with
the torn and splintered aiguilles of Chamonix; and
in the distance the immense plains of France, the
Italian Alps, and even the far off range of the Apennine.
I)r Janssen was much struck with the advantages
to science that might be expected from astronomical
and meteorological work in so pure an
atmosphere. On his return to Paris he communicated
his views to the Academy of Sciences.
"1 think," he said, "it will be of the first importance
for astronomy, physics, and meteorology
that an observatory should be erected on the sumtint
i if \fi int Rl'inp 1 L*nr iU' it K n Hiffiniilt iinrl?>r.
taking, but I think our engineers can solve the problem
whenever we wish."
Financiers Were Willing
pUNDS were soon forthcoming. Prince Roland
Bonaparte, Baron Adolphe de Rothschild, and
the President of France himself supported Janssen.
A preliminary survey, however, showed no visible
rock on the storm swept dome; whereupon it was
calmly proposed to build upon the snow. This
idea was received with almost universal incredulity.
Those best acquainted with the glaciers of the
mighty peak thought it altogether impossible to
establish a building on the summit, since the im
mense thickness of the snowy crust would prevent
foundations from ever being obtained on solid
But soon the great engifleer Eiffel, of Tower fame,
came on the scene and said he was ready to construct
an observatory on the very apex of Mont
Blanc, provided a rock foundation could be found
wished you only well. And there was a little matter
of a wedding gift," I went on. " 'Tis not much I
can afford; but I had destined a jewel worth ten
guineas for the lady's finger in happier circum
His face changed, and he came nearer. "Man, I
was mistaken," he said earnestly. "But ye'll
admit 'twas suspicious. Ten guineas! Aye, it
takes a deal of earning." He looked towards the
advancing villagers. "Maybe I could alter it yet,"
he said meditatively.
"Come, say you were mistook," I urged hini,
and 1 played with the jeweled ring on my finger.
"Maybe," he said, and then without a word more
he strode off slowly in the direction of the crowd.
I watched him eagerly, as you may think, and saw
ne ncia parley wnn mem; ana alter tnat tney DroKe
up, and I spied the justice and the constable in
talk with him; and next they disappeared, and
left me to the gaze of some women and children
and a laborer or two that had more curiosity than
vice in them.
T urnr r% lit In 'i ftot* nn/1 4 lin Pim T\nm
it w tir> a 111 i iv. in iv i , ami tut .tuii vv ao i'i 111111
to shine with a good grace and warmth, that the
constable made an appearance with two of his
watchmen, who set about unlocking the stocks
"Well, Master Duck," says I, quizzing him, "it
seems 'tis you have trespassed on the King's peace."
He opened his mouth, and gaped like a fish out
of water. "It has been proven to us," said he solT
* t i ij
not more than fifty feet below the snow's surface.
Eiffel further said that he would pay for all the
preliminary operations. Now it happens that
rocks do outcrop on three different sides of the
summit, no great distance Vtlow it. Eiffel in
. ?i f ri j ... 11 i.._. o.. ...
sirucieu ivi. w. uiiietu, a wen Known awisb surveyor;
and the latter soon had a horizontal gallery
driven into the snow forty-nine feet below the
summit, and on the French side. Imfeld also employed
as director of the workmen Frederic Payot,
one of the ablest and most experienced of all the
Chamonix guides (he had then made over a hundred
A wooden hut that could be taken to pieces
and transported easily was made below in the
famous Hiinhina villaee and this was to form the
entrance to the tunnel, as well as a protection for
the men. It was erected, all its sections numbered,
then taken down again, weighed, and divided into
loads. These were distributed among the most
skilful and robust of all the mountain porters?men
not likely to suffer from giddiness or mountain
An Interesting Diary
TMFELD kept an interesting diary of the strange
* ascent of that house. On August 15 the last section
reached the summit. A position for the tunnel's
mouth was determined, and the workmen
began to clear away the snow and blast the ice to
erect the hut. All had a pretty bad time, however.
The men struck for thirty francs a day, chiefly be
cause they sunered badly from frost bite. Ihe
tunnel advanced only five or six yards a day.
Sometimes the furious winds blew the workmen
over ice precipices, and they would have been
dashed to pieces had they not been carefully roped
together. Five days later while they were resting
on the Petit Plateau, an ice avalanche fell from the
Dome du Gouter and killed three men. The rest
gradually deserted through mountain sickness, or
because no resident doctor was maintained. Later
on Dr. Jacottet of Chamonix volunteered his
services gratuitously. This unfortunate man suddenly
became ill and died in delirium at the summit.
The transport of his body down into the valley is
emnly, "that ye are not the villain that ye are,
and so we bid you go free."
"Softly, man," said I, seeing how matters stood,
and willing to be even with the party <>1 addlepates.
"You cannot thus lightly affront the law without
any rebound upon you. Who is it that gives orders
for mv releaser"
" 'Tis Squire Pearce," savs he, "custos rot alarum?
"Oh, stay that gab!" said I "If he be L<>nl
Chancellor, 'tis all one to me. 'Tis how he holds
himself and what his behavior is, that is in question.
What hath become of the charge against me?"
He looked sheepish for the first time. " 'Twas
an error," he said. " 'Twas the size of your nose
misled 'un "
"Size of my nose!" I roared. "Damme! I'll
teach you to thrust at my nose! And what is
more, I'll have the law of you all. My Lord's
nephew, that has influence at court, will not easily
sit down under this affront, sin'.: me! no. Let 'em
come on their knees to me," 1 says, "or, damme!
I'll stay here all day and all night too."
A 4- 4 lint \f ncfot* 1 1.-/->? *
a *. \j tiiuk. i' uv. rv ji;v/i\v,u v 1 y niuv 11 nrvv <111
owl, and whispered to his watchmen, and they
argued together, while I watched them with amusement,
but a stern face. And then one of the youths
that was looking on ventured an egg at me, the
which, being misdirected, took old Duck in the
lace and broke all over him in a stream, so that
Continued on page 19
J) as dramatic a tale as one may find,
___ even in all the annals of Mont Blanc.
Finally, after the gallery had been
driven ninety six feet without find
ing anything more rocky than a
prune stone, Eiffel retired from the
undertaking. Dr. Janssen, however,
had the gallery carried on by Payot
another seventy-five feet, and then
he too abandoned the quest, and
decided after all to build on snow.
But the question was, Would the
observatory in such case sink or
Jki swim? An interesting experiment
rto answer this was carried out at
Meudon. A column of lead weighing
seven hundred and ninety-two
pounds, but only one foot in diameter,
was placed on piled up snow
brought to the density of that on
Mont Blanc's crest. The lead sank
less than one inch, and thereupon
Dr. Janssen decided to go ahead.
tm, ? 1?:i.J : . * 1 * *. ~
1 lie 111, L1C UUUUlIlg IIIUL ULU U dd
a pioneer was six feet high, and to
the doctor's bewilderment it showed
signs of subsidence after two seasons.
He was not dismayed, however, and
the construction of the observatory
proper, partly of iron and partly
of wood, went forward at Meudon,
near Paris. The following year it
was constructed, and then taken to pieces and
forwarded to Chamonix. Here a big caravan was
fitted out under the trusty Fr<5d?ric Payot, and
by the end of the season one-quarter of the ma
terial had been advanced to a little patch ot rock,
the Petits Rochers Rouges, seven hundred and
fifty feet below the summit. The early part of the
following season was occupied in digging out the
most advanced camp, then buried under thirty-five
feet of snow. At last, however, the material was
hauled to the summit dome by little windlasses,
and was swiftly erected by men who had thoroughly
rehearsed the work down in the valley.
A couple of days of hard work inside rendered
the little building habitable, and then Doctor
Janssen himself ascended with an energy, courage,
and tenacity altogether amazing considering he
was a man of seventy and so badly lame that he
could walk only with difficulty even on level ground.
On three separate occasions the dauntless scientist
was hauled to the summit in a sledge. And in
olaces he was out carefullv in a slinir and hauled
up terrific rock walls and ice pinnacles by means
of the windlasses.
A Peculiar Instrument
PPHE principal instrument used in the Janssen
observatory is called a meteorograph, which was
constructed by Richard of Paris at a cost of thirtyseven
hundred and fifty dollars. It registers barometric
pressure, maximum and minimum temperatures,
the direction and force of the wind, and so on.
It is most ingeniously put in movement by a weight
of two hundred pounds, which descends about
twenty feet and is calculated to keep everything
going for eight months?the length of time which
4- I.? < 4- ninir irM/ic
it id LUiiicuijMaicu 11 iiiay auiiiciiuica iciw iw uotu.
Until this establishment was completed, the lowest
winter temperature of Mont Blanc was unknown.
It was found, however, that the mercury descended
to forty-five degrees below zero at least. A big
telescope was sent up a few seasons ago; and now
very valuable work is being done for France, Switzerland,
and Italy, all of which nations are directly
interested in the maintenance of the world's highest

xml | txt