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HOME > Science Fiction > Five Thousand Miles Underground29 > CHAPTER I WASHINGTON BACKS OUT
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 “Washington! I say Washington!”  
Throughout a big shed, filled for the most part with huge pieces of machinery1, echoed the voice of Professor Amos Henderson. He did not look up from a small engine over which he was bending.
“Washington! Where are you? Why don’t you answer me?”
From somewhere underneath2 an immense pile of iron, steel and aluminum3 came the voice of a colored man.
“Yas sir, Perfesser, I’se goin’ t’ saggasiate my bodily presence in yo’ contiguous proximity4 an’ attend t’ yo’ immediate5 conglomerated prescriptions6 at th’ predistined period. Yas, sir!”
“Well, Washington, if you had started when you began that long speech you would have been at least half way here by this time. Hurry up! Never mind tightning those bolts now. Find the boys. I need them to help me with this engine. They must be around somewhere.”
“I seen ’em goin’ fishin’ down by th’ brook7 a little while ago,” answered the negro, crawling out from under what seemed to be a combined airship and watercraft. “Jack8 says as how yo’ gived him permission t’ occupy his indisputatious period of levity9 in endeavorin’ t’ extract from th’ liquid element some specimens10 of swimmin’ creatures.”
“If you mean I said he and Mark could go fishing in the brook, you’re right, Washington,” replied the professor with a smile. “But you waste a lot of time and breath trying to say it. Why don’t you give up using big words?”
“I reckon I was brought up t’ it,” replied the colored man grinning from ear to ear. He did not always use big words but when he did they were generally the wrong ones. Sometimes, he spoke11 quite correctly.
“Well, I suppose you can’t help it,” resumed Mr. Henderson. “However, never mind that. Find the boys and send them to me.”
“With th’ least appreciatableness amount of postponement,” answered the messenger, and he went out.
Washington White, who in color was just the opposite to his name, a general helper and companion to Professor Henderson, found Mark Sampson and Jack Darrow about a quarter of a mile from the big shed, which was in the center of a wooded island off the coast of Maine. The lads were seated on the bank of a small brook, fishing.
“Perfesser wants yo’ immediate,” said Washington.
“But we haven’t caught a single fish,” objected Mark.
“Them’s the orders from headquarters,” replied the colored man. “Yo’ both got t’ project yo’selves in th’ vicinity of th’ machine shop. I reckon th’ new fangled contraption that th’ perfesser is goin’ t’ navigate13 th’ air an’ sail th’ angry seas in, am about done. He want’s t’ try th’ engine.”
“Come on then,” said Jack. “We probably would not catch any fish, anyhow, Mark.”
Accompanied by Washington, the youths, each of whom was about eighteen years old, started toward the big shed.
While they are on their way opportunity may be taken to tell a little about them, as well as about Washington and the professor, and the curious craft on which the scientist was working.
A few years before this story opens Mr. Henderson had invented a wonderful electric airship. He had it about completed when, one day, he and the two boys became unexpectedly acquainted, and, as it developed, friends.
Mark and Jack were orphans15. After having rather a hard time knocking about the world trying to make a living, they chanced to meet, and resolved to cast their lots together. They boarded a freight train, and, as told in the first volume of this series, entitled, “Through the Air to the North Pole; or the Wonderful Cruise of the Electric Monarch16,” the cars were wrecked17 near where Professor Henderson was building his strange craft.
The boys were cared for by the scientist, and, after their recovery from hurts received in the collision, they accepted his invitation to make the trip through the upper regions in the airship, to search for the north pole. With them went Andy Sudds, an old hunter, and Tom Smith and Bill Jones, two farmers, but who were hired as helpers on the voyage. The party had many adventures on the trip, having battles with savage18 animals and more savage Esquimaux, and were tossed about in terrible storms. After making some scientific observations, which the professor was much interested in, they started back home.
Having found he could successfully sail in the air, Mr. Henderson resolved to try what it might be like under water.
He moved his machine shop to a lonely spot on the Maine coast, and there, with the help of the boys, Washington, Andy and two machinists constructed a submarine boat, called the Porpoise19.
In this the professor resolved to seek the south pole, he having a theory that it was surrounded by an open sea. After much hard work the Porpoise was made ready for the voyage.
What occurred on this great trip is described in the second book of this series, called “Under the Ocean to the South Pole, or the Strange Cruise of the Submarine Wonder.” In that is told how once more Tom and Bill, with Andy, the boys and Washington, accompanying Professor Henderson, had many thrilling experiences.
They were caught in the grip of the grass of the terrible Sargasso Sea. Monstrous20 suckers grasped the boat in their powerful arms, and had to be fought off. They were caught in a sea of boiling water and imprisoned21 between big fields of ice.
By means of strong diving suits they were able to leave the ship and walk about on the bottom of the sea. They visited a graveyard22 of sunken ships, saw many strange monsters as well as many beautiful fish in the great depths to which they sunk. Many times they were in dire23
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