The chapter begins by telling readers that the Western American Explorers' Club in San Francisco is buzzing with excitement because Professor Sherman has chosen to tell them his amazing story first. Readers are given a bit of detail about why the story might be intriguing.
Earlier in the year, Sherman flew off in a balloon and hoped to cross the Pacific. A few months later, he was found in the Atlantic ocean with twenty balloons. He was near dead when a ship rescued him and nursed him back to health. The captain wanted to know the details of Sherman's adventure, but Sherman stated that he would tell his tale first to his club. In a rather humorous piece of the story, the captain and ship's crew try all kinds of ways to get Sherman to tell them first. They even resort to getting Sherman drunk:
They tried all sorts of ways to get him to tell his story. They tried arguing with, persuading, tricking, and agitating him. They tried to entice him with spirits. They gave him medicine which made...
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