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22. CHAPTER TWENTY-SECOND. (continued)
"I have no regrets," he said, "for the life that is passing away from me; my life belongs to God!"
"Hope still!" said the doctor; "we are near you, and we will save you now, as we saved you from the tortures of the stake."
"I do not ask so much of Heaven," said the priest, with resignation. "Blessed be God for having vouchsafed to me the joy before I die of having pressed your friendly hands, and having heard, once more, the language of my country!"
The missionary here grew weak again, and the whole day went by between hope and fear, Kennedy deeply moved, and Joe drawing his hand over his eyes more than once when he thought that no one saw him.
The balloon made little progress, and the wind seemed as though unwilling to jostle its precious burden.
Toward evening, Joe discovered a great light in the west. Under more elevated latitudes, it might have been mistaken for an immense aurora borealis, for the sky appeared on fire. The doctor very attentively examined the phenomenon.
"It is, perhaps, only a volcano in full activity," said he.
"But the wind is carrying us directly over it," replied Kennedy.
"Very well, we shall cross it then at a safe height!" said the doctor.
Three hours later, the Victoria was right among the mountains. Her exact position was twenty-four degrees fifteen minutes east longitude, and four degrees forty-two minutes north latitude, and four degrees forty-two minutes north latitude. In front of her a volcanic crater was pouring forth torrents of melted lava, and hurling masses of rock to an enormous height. There were jets, too, of liquid fire that fell back in dazzling cascades--a superb but dangerous spectacle, for the wind with unswerving certainty was carrying the balloon directly toward this blazing atmosphere.
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