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CHAPTER XII THE BIG HOLE
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 “Something has gone wrong!” exclaimed the professor as he jumped up. He reached the engine room ahead of any one else, and when the two boys got there they found him busy twisting wheels and shifting levers.
 
“Anything serious?” asked Jack1.
 
“It’s the gas machine again,” Mr. Henderson replied. “It broke where we fixed2 it. However it doesn’t matter. I was going to lower the ship anyhow, as I want to approach the island from the water. We will go down a little sooner than I counted on.”
 
The disabling of the gas machine caused the vapor3 to escape slowly from the tank, and this made the ship sink gradually. By means of the emergency stop-cock the descent could be controlled almost as well as though the machinery4 was in working order. Half an hour later the Mermaid5 rested on the water.
 
It was a little rough, as there was quite a swell6 on, and not so pleasant as floating in the air on an even keel, but they made the best of it.
 
On account of the little accident, and not being certain of its extent, it was deemed best not to send the ship ahead. So they laid to until morning.
 
For the better part of two days all those on board the Mermaid had their hands full mending the break and making other repairs found necessary. In that time they lay to, floating idly with the currents, or blown by the wind, for the professor would not start any of the engines or apparatus7 until the ship was in good condition.
 
In this time Mark had several times recalled the curious happenings in regard to the disappearing food, and the mystery of the storeroom. But there were no further manifestations8, and no other signs that there might be a strange visitor aboard.
 
“I couldn’t have imagined it all,” said Mark, “but I guess what did happen may have been caused by natural means, only I can’t discover them.”
 
It was about two days after this, the ship having sailed scores of miles on the surface of the water, that Mark, who was in the conning9 tower exclaimed:
 
“That looks like a waterspout ahead of us.”
 
“That’s what it is!” Jack agreed. “What shall we do?”
 
“Call the professor!” said Mark. “He’ll know.”
 
When Mr. Henderson came, he looked for a long time at a cloud of black vapor which hung low in the east.
 
“It may be a waterspout,” he said. “We’ll rise in the air and see if we can avoid it.”
 
The ship was sent up into the air. As it rose higher and higher, the professor, making frequent observations from his conning tower, cried out:
 
“That is no waterspout!”
 
“What is it?” asked Mark.
 
“It is the steam and vapor rising from the big hole in the earth! Boys, we are almost there!”
 
“Are you sure that’s it?” asked Mark.
 
“Almost positive,” Mr. Henderson replied. “You can see how much warmer it has become of late, as we approached the equator. We are almost due at the island, and I have no doubt we have reached it.”
 
As the ship flew forward the mass of dark vapor became more pronounced. Through the glasses it could be noticed to consist of rolling masses of clouds. What lay beneath them no one knew. The adventurers were going to try to find out.
 
Now that they had arrived at the beginning of the main part of their journey, the travelers felt their spirits sink a little. It was one thing to plan to go down into the depths of the earth, but it was quite another to make the actual attempt. Still, they were not going to give up the project. The professor had confidence in his ship and believed it could safely make the trip. Still it was with no little apprehension10 that Mr. Henderson watched the nearer approach of the craft to that strange island.
 
“Perfesser, are yo’ really an’ truly goin’ t’ depress this elongated11 spheroid an’ its human consignment12 int’ that conglomerous convoluted13 mass of gaseous14 vapor regardless of th’ consequences?” asked Washington, as he gazed with wide opened eyes at the sight before him.
 
“If you mean am I going to let the Mermaid go down into that hole you are perfectly15 correct,” the scientist answered, “though you could have said it in fewer words, Washington.”
 
“I—I guess I’ll get out an’ walk,” the colored man made reply.
 
“This isn’t any trolley16 car,” observed Mark. “Don’t lose your nerve, Wash. Stay with us, and we’ll discover a gold or diamond mine, maybe.”
 
“Is there diamonds down there?” asked the colored man, his fright seeming to leave him.
 
“There are all sorts of things inside the earth,” the professor answered.
 
“Then I’m goin’ along!” Washington declared. “I always did want a diamond ring, an’ I knows a little colored gal17 that wants one, too. I’m goin’ all right! This suttenly am th’ most kloslosterous conjunctivity of combativeness18 that I ever sagaciated!” and he began to do a sort of impromptu19 cake-walk.

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1 jack 53Hxp     
n.插座,千斤顶,男人;v.抬起,提醒,扛举;n.(Jake)杰克
参考例句:
  • I am looking for the headphone jack.我正在找寻头戴式耳机插孔。
  • He lifted the car with a jack to change the flat tyre.他用千斤顶把车顶起来换下瘪轮胎。
2 fixed JsKzzj     
adj.固定的,不变的,准备好的;(计算机)固定的
参考例句:
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
3 vapor DHJy2     
n.蒸汽,雾气
参考例句:
  • The cold wind condenses vapor into rain.冷风使水蒸气凝结成雨。
  • This new machine sometimes transpires a lot of hot vapor.这部机器有时排出大量的热气。
4 machinery CAdxb     
n.(总称)机械,机器;机构
参考例句:
  • Has the machinery been put up ready for the broadcast?广播器材安装完毕了吗?
  • Machinery ought to be well maintained all the time.机器应该随时注意维护。
5 mermaid pCbxH     
n.美人鱼
参考例句:
  • How popular would that girl be with the only mermaid mom!和人鱼妈妈在一起,那个女孩会有多受欢迎!
  • The little mermaid wasn't happy because she didn't want to wait.小美人鱼不太高兴,因为她等不及了。
6 swell IHnzB     
vi.膨胀,肿胀;增长,增强
参考例句:
  • The waves had taken on a deep swell.海浪汹涌。
  • His injured wrist began to swell.他那受伤的手腕开始肿了。
7 apparatus ivTzx     
n.装置,器械;器具,设备
参考例句:
  • The school's audio apparatus includes films and records.学校的视听设备包括放映机和录音机。
  • They had a very refined apparatus.他们有一套非常精良的设备。
8 manifestations 630b7ac2a729f8638c572ec034f8688f     
n.表示,显示(manifestation的复数形式)
参考例句:
  • These were manifestations of the darker side of his character. 这些是他性格阴暗面的表现。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • To be wordly-wise and play safe is one of the manifestations of liberalism. 明哲保身是自由主义的表现之一。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
9 conning b97e62086a8bfeb6de9139effa481f58     
v.诈骗,哄骗( con的现在分词 );指挥操舵( conn的现在分词 )
参考例句:
  • He climbed into the conning tower, his eyes haunted and sickly bright. 他爬上司令塔,两眼象见鬼似的亮得近乎病态。 来自辞典例句
  • As for Mady, she enriched her record by conning you. 对马德琳来说,这次骗了你,又可在她的光荣历史上多了一笔。 来自辞典例句
10 apprehension bNayw     
n.理解,领悟;逮捕,拘捕;忧虑
参考例句:
  • There were still areas of doubt and her apprehension grew.有些地方仍然存疑,于是她越来越担心。
  • She is a girl of weak apprehension.她是一个理解力很差的女孩。
11 elongated 6a3aeff7c3bf903f4176b42850937718     
v.延长,加长( elongate的过去式和过去分词 )
参考例句:
  • Modigliani's women have strangely elongated faces. 莫迪里阿尼画中的妇女都长着奇长无比的脸。
  • A piece of rubber can be elongated by streching. 一块橡皮可以拉长。 来自《用法词典》
12 consignment 9aDyo     
n.寄售;发货;委托;交运货物
参考例句:
  • This last consignment of hosiery is quite up to standard.这批新到的针织品完全符合规格。
  • We have to ask you to dispatch the consignment immediately.我们得要求你立即发送该批货物。
13 convoluted NvnzlG     
adj.旋绕的;复杂的
参考例句:
  • The snake slithered through a convoluted path.蛇在羊肠小道上爬行。
  • The policy is so convoluted even college presidents are confused.这项政策太令人费解,甚至连大学校长们也是一头雾水。
14 gaseous Hlvy2     
adj.气体的,气态的
参考例句:
  • Air whether in the gaseous or liquid state is a fluid.空气,无论是气态的或是液态的,都是一种流体。
  • Freon exists both in liquid and gaseous states.氟利昂有液态和气态两种形态。
15 perfectly 8Mzxb     
adv.完美地,无可非议地,彻底地
参考例句:
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。
16 trolley YUjzG     
n.手推车,台车;无轨电车;有轨电车
参考例句:
  • The waiter had brought the sweet trolley.侍者已经推来了甜食推车。
  • In a library,books are moved on a trolley.在图书馆,书籍是放在台车上搬动的。
17 gal 56Zy9     
n.姑娘,少女
参考例句:
  • We decided to go with the gal from Merrill.我们决定和那个从梅里尔来的女孩合作。
  • What's the name of the gal? 这个妞叫什么?
18 combativeness 975431b814464f31b3d8dbc0651f0a62     
n.好战
参考例句:
  • While they were with Jesus, any slight shown to Him aroused their indignation and combativeness. 他们与耶稣同在时,只要有人对耶稣表示轻视,就会激起他们的愤恨和抨击。 来自互联网
19 impromptu j4Myg     
adj.即席的,即兴的;adv.即兴的(地),无准备的(地)
参考例句:
  • The announcement was made in an impromptu press conference at the airport.这一宣布是在机场举行的临时新闻发布会上作出的。
  • The children put on an impromptu concert for the visitors.孩子们为来访者即兴献上了一场音乐会。


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