"Because, I tell you, the mass of Gallia is so inferior to that of the moon, that Gallia would become the moon's satellite; the moon could not possibly become hers."
"Assuming, however," continued Servadac, "such to be the case--"
"I am afraid," said the lieutenant, interrupting him, "that I cannot assume anything of the sort even for a moment."
Servadac smiled good-humoredly.
"I confess you seem to have the best of the argument, and if Gallia had become a satellite of the moon, it would not have taken three months to catch sight of her. I suppose you are right."
While this discussion had been going on, the satellite, or whatever it might be, had been rising steadily above the horizon, and had reached a position favorable for observation. Telescopes were brought, and it was very soon ascertained, beyond a question, that the new luminary was not the well-known Phoebe of terrestrial nights; it had no feature in common with the moon. Although it was apparently much nearer to Gallia than the moon to the earth, its superficies was hardly one-tenth as large, and so feebly did it reflect the light of the remote sun, that it scarcely emitted radiance enough to extinguish the dim luster of stars of the eighth magnitude. Like the sun, it had risen in the west, and was now at its full. To mistake its identity with the moon was absolutely impossible; not even Servadac could discover a trace of the seas, chasms, craters, and mountains which have been so minutely delineated in lunar charts, and it could not be denied that any transient hope that had been excited as to their once again being about to enjoy the peaceful smiles of "the queen of night" must all be resigned.
Count Timascheff finally suggested, though somewhat doubtfully, the question of the probability that Gallia, in her course across the zone of the minor planets, had carried off one of them; but whether it was one of the 169 asteroids already included in the astronomical catalogues, or one previously unknown, he did not presume to determine. The idea to a certain extent was plausible, inasmuch as it has been ascertained that several of the telescopic planets are of such small dimensions that a good walker might make a circuit of them in four and twenty hours; consequently Gallia, being of superior volume, might be supposed capable of exercising a power of attraction upon any of these miniature microcosms.
The first night in Nina's Hive passed without special incident; and next morning a regular scheme of life was definitely laid down. "My lord governor," as Ben Zoof until he was peremptorily forbidden delighted to call Servadac, had a wholesome dread of idleness and its consequences, and insisted upon each member of the party undertaking some special duty to fulfill. There was plenty to do. The domestic animals required a great deal of attention; a supply of food had to be secured and preserved; fishing had to be carried on while the condition of the sea would allow it; and in several places the galleries had to be further excavated to render them more available for use. Occupation, then, need never be wanting, and the daily round of labor could go on in orderly routine.