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In Chapter 4 of The Twenty One Balloons, Professor Sherman sets off on his journey. He admires his final view of San Francisco and notices the excitement generated by his takeoff. He immediately begins to enjoy his little house, reading on his porch in the sunshine, washing his laundry and dishes in the ocean at the end of a fishing line. He exercises by walking around on his porch. Life is good, with the exception of some smelly garbage, which he throws over the side. He notices some sea gulls, which worry him a bit, but he knows that his balloon has been made to withstand the claws of birds.
On the fifth day, he sees a small boat and signals it in Morse Code, but it turns out that the boat is manned by Japanese people, who signal back that they cannot understand English. Professor Sherman is not unhappy about this, because he is enjoying his solitude a great deal. On the sixth day, all is calm and pleasant, with the exception of the garbage, which is beginning to smell a bit.
On the seventh day, though, everything falls apart. First Professor Sherman spots a volcanic island, which tells him something is wrong with his calculations, since he had anticipated not seeing any land mass for at least a month. Then a horde of sea gulls appear. Professor Sherman makes the mistake of throwing his garbage overboard, believing the gulls would follow it and leave him and balloon alone. However, while the gulls do chase the garbage as it lands in the sea, one gull retrieves a turkey carcass and takes it to the top of the balloon to enjoy. The other gulls follow him, they fight over the carcass, and suddenly, the skin of the balloon is penetrated and Professor Sherman is descending rapidly.
He knows he cannot land in the sea, where there is little or no hope of his survival. So he determines that he will throw as many unnecessary things as he can overboard, allowing him to maintain sufficient altitude to land on the island. He proceeds to do this, but the balloon is still descending, and worse, what he has thrown overboard is attracting sharks, who are following his path from the water below. In desperation, he cuts away his little house, hooks himself to the strings on the balloon, and managing to be dipped only briefly in the water, he lands on the island, dragged there by the balloon. And there, he promptly falls to sleep and the chapter ends.
And his adventures are only beginning. Keep reading. It gets even more interesting!
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