An extraordinary event occurred in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Namely: gathered in the square, the citizens could observe the following picture: a balloon dropped from the sky. Glued from old newspapers, the balloon was generally of a strange shape, resembling a hood topped down by the top. Moreover, a huge hat with the widest fields was substituted for a fantastic car instead of a gondola, and many were ready to argue that they had seen it before. It undoubtedly belonged to the modest artisan Hans Pfaal, who mysteriously disappeared with his three companions five years ago.
The passenger was also unusual. The thickness of the little man did not correspond to growth at all and gave his whole figure an extremely ridiculous spherical appearance. Hands were huge in size; wrinkled and at the same time puffy cheeks stood out on the face, on which there were no the slightest signs of ears.
When there were some hundred feet to the ground, the little man started to fuss, hurriedly pulled out of his side pocket a large notebook in morocco-bound binding and threw it directly at the feet of the mayor, who was watching what was happening. Considering the matter done, the aeronaut threw over half a dozen bags overboard, and soon the ball, disappearing behind the clouds, disappeared forever from the bewildered gazes of the Rotterdamites.
Attention of all turned to the notebook, which told the amazing story of Hans Pfaal.
Five years ago Hans Pfaal, in debt and
With the help of his wife and three creditors, who managed to get enough of him, Pfal prepares everything for departure. And he does not talk to creditors about where he is going to fly, assuring only that it will serve as a return of duty, and from his wife he takes an oath to keep everything secret. When the ball is finally ready for flight, Pfaal and the three creditors at night in a dull place fill it with gas, hitherto unprofessed. A sly maneuver, he distracts the attention of creditors, cuts the ropes connecting the balloon with the earth’s surface, and, jumping into the basket, forever says goodbye to the Earth.
It should be noted that the beginning of the road Pfaal was not in the most suitable for a long trip pose. When the balloon rose into the air, there was a deafening explosion, and Pfaal, unable to restrain himself in the basket, fell outside. The good of his legs got tangled in the nets, and he just hung his head down, otherwise his initial desire to end his life would certainly have been crowned with success. By the morning Pfaal finally climbed into the basket and, having examined the ball, he was sure that he was in perfect order. The ball continued to rise with sufficient speed and soon the traveler found himself behind the clouds.
Constantly experiencing fits of suffocation, Pfaal was forced to begin setting up a condenser. By this time he had reached a sufficient height – from here was opened a magnificent view. To the west, to the north and to the south, as far as the eye could see, an endless smooth surface of the ocean stretched, acquiring with every minute an ever brighter blue shade. In the east loomed the Great Britain, the entire Atlantic coast of France and Spain, and part of the northern edge of the African continent.
At first Pfaal was surprised by the apparent concavity of the earth’s surface, but after thinking, he realized that he had not yet reached that height when the visual illusion would disappear.
The first night spent by Pfaal in the air undoubtedly left much to be desired. In order not to suffocate, he had to fill his chamber with rarefied air once a hour, which, being pulled through the condenser tube, condensed and became suitable for breathing. To wake up exactly every hour, the wise Pfaal built a cunning device that at the right time spilled a few drops of cold water on his head.
So day after day he approached the moon. The Earth became ever farther, and it was clearer and more clearly that he distinguished the contours of the night satellite of his native planet. No signs of water or land were visible, only dull, volatile spots and a tropical equatorial belt.
On the nineteenth day of the flight, Hans Pfaal safely completed the journey – without a doubt, the most unusual and most remarkable of all the journeys ever committed, undertaken or conceived by the inhabitants of the Earth.
At the end of his message, Pfaal reports that he can inform the Astronomical Society about a lot of interesting information – about the climate of the moon, about the strange temperature fluctuations, about the constant movement of moisture, about the population, its customs, manners, political institutions; about the special physical organization of local inhabitants, their ugliness, lack of ears; about their mode of communication, replacing the gift of the word, which the lunar inhabitants lack. For these and other information about which he is silent, Hans Pfaal requires remuneration, as well as forgiveness for the murder of three creditors.
Completing the message, Pfahal informs the public that a letter to them will be delivered by a resident of the Moon.
In the note, the publisher warns gullible readers: they should not take on faith the fictions of Pfaal, who demonstrates in his letter a rich fantasy and undoubted wit.