Count Timascheff reflected for a minute, and said, "I think, lieutenant, I understand your project. The scheme seems tenable; and I shall be ready to co-operate with you, to the best of my power, in putting it into execution."
"Only, remember," continued Procope, "there are many chances to one against our success. One instant's obstruction and stoppage in our passage, and our balloon is burnt to ashes. Still, reluctant as I am to acknowledge it, I confess that I feel our sole hope of safety rests in our getting free from this comet."
"If the chances were ten thousand to one against us," said Servadac, "I think the attempt ought to be made."
"But have we hydrogen enough to inflate a balloon?" asked the count.
"Hot air will be all that we shall require," the lieutenant answered; "we are only contemplating about an hour's journey."
"Ah, a fire-balloon! A montgolfier!" cried Servadac. "But what are you going to do for a casing?"
"I have thought of that. We must cut it out of the sails of the _Dobryna_; they are both light and strong," rejoined the lieutenant. Count Timascheff complimented the lieutenant upon his ingenuity, and Ben Zoof could not resist bringing the meeting to a conclusion by a ringing cheer.
Truly daring was the plan of which Lieutenant Procope had thus become the originator; but the very existence of them all was at stake, and the design must be executed resolutely. For the success of the enterprise it was absolutely necessary to know, almost to a minute, the precise time at which the collision would occur, and Captain Servadac undertook the task, by gentle means or by stern, of extracting the secret from the professor.