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This story chronicles Maupassant’s ride in a balloon called ‘Le Horla’. They set off from Paris and reach the Belgian coast in a single night, seeing amazing sights from the sky. The adventure on the hot air balloon is very exciting and lets them see the earth from a different viewpoint.
The narrator– a man who is invited by Captain Jovis to take a trip on Le Horla
Captain Jovis– the captain of Le Horla
Lieutenant Mallet– the man who guided Le Horla’s journey from the aerial net between the basket and the balloon
M. Etierine Beer, M. Paul Bessand– the other passengers of Le Horla
M. Patrice Eyries– the passenger who had to get out of Le Horla’s basket because it was getting too heavy
Le Horla Departs from Paris
On the morning of July 8th, the narrator received a telegram saying that Jovis would wait for him at the works from five o’clock on. At five o’clock sharp, the narrator entered the gas works of La Villette. The balloon was lying in the courtyard. Many people were looking at it. It was called Le Horla.
Then the gas started entering the balloon and it began to rise and move. While Captain Jovis and his assistants got busy with the last details, the travellers went to dine in the canteen of the gas-works. When they came out again, the balloon was ready. Then, the basket was attached, and barometers and other things were brought.
Lieutenant Mallet climbed on the aerial net between the basket and the balloon to watch the movements of Le Horla across the skies. M. Etierine Beer, M. Paul Bessand, M. Patrice Eyries, and the narrator climbed in next. But the basket was too heavy for the balloon, so M. Eyries had to sadly get out.
Then the ropes were cut loose and Le Horla took off. It rapidly rose as people cheered from the ground. Paris spread out beneath the passengers like a coloured map. The sun, which could no longer be seen down below, reappeared.
They determined whether they were rising or sinking only by throwing a cigarette paper out of the basket. The barometer told them they were about five hundred meters above ground.
The passengers could hear all the sounds of the earth beneath them. The view was amazing; it was dark on the earth, but they were still in the light, although it was past ten o’clock. They then began to hear country noises. The dogs barked at the balloon.
At times, they rose and then descended. Whenever they descended, Lieutenant Mallet would inform them, and Captain Jovis would throw down some sand from a bag to make the balloon rise again.
Journeying with the Moon and the Stars
They encountered a current of warm air, and the balloon expanded, making them rise to almost two thousand feet. They could no longer see the earth, but there were stars above them. The moon rose from below, clear and round, looking like another balloon travelling opposite them. They wildly enjoyed this fantastic journey.
They went up to two thousand three hundred and fifty feet; then the balloon stopped. It started going down rapidly. It was past midnight, and they were crossing a broad, dry, well- cultivated country. To the right was a large city, and farther away to the left was another. The shadow of the balloon ran along the ground with great speed.
They were heading straight for Belgium. They soon realised that a storm was approaching behind them. Suddenly, the lights of a town appeared before them like some fairyland. The sky was growing lighter, because it was almost dawn. They began to see the earth in more detail.
Le Horla’s Descent
The early rising peasants were waving at the group and telling them to drop. But they went along steadily. Then they reached the sea and Captain Jovis told them to prepare for the descent. Behind them, thunder was rumbling. They rapidly passed over a large farm, shocking the animals.
Then they dropped the anchor in a field of beet. It took hold. At last, the basket settled on the ground, while the balloon struggled madly. Peasants ran toward them, and then suddenly all the cows that were grazing along the coast surrounded the balloon in a circle.
With the help of the nice Belgian peasants, the group was able to quickly pack up all their materials and carry it to the station at Heyst, where they took the train for Paris. The descent had occurred at three-fifteen in the morning.
Thanks to the brave Captain Jovis, they were able to see, in a single night, from far up in the sky, the setting of the sun, the rising of the moon and the dawn of day, and to go from Paris to the mouth of the Scheldt through the skies.
This story tells us about a great adventure aboard a hot air balloon. It also helps us know a lot about the way a hot air balloon works. The way in which this wonderful invention lets people see the world in a different way is extraordinary.