The Trip of Le Horla by Guy De Maupassant

Introduction: Guy de Maupassant was a French writer who lived in the nineteenth century. His short stories are well-known. ‘The Trip of Le Horla’ is a travel essay. In the essay, he recalls his balloon ride experiences. The first name of this travel essay was From Paris to Heyst. The balloon journey took place between La Villette in Paris and Heyst in Belgium. The balloon’s name was ‘Le Horla.’ It translates as ‘the outsider.’

Preparations and Take-off: Mr Jovis sent a telegram to Maupassant on July 8th. It was a balloon trip invitation to the Belgian border. The ride would begin at 3 p.m. with preparations. At La Villette, Jovis would wait for Maupassant. In the courtyard of a gas factory in La Villette, the balloon was prepared for the voyage.

At 5:00 p.m., Maupassant arrived. Under a rope, a huge yellow cloth balloon lay flat in the courtyard. It resembled a yellow cake in appearance. Ropes bound it to the ground. There was a gathering of two or three hundred persons. They were looking forward to seeing the balloon take off. For carrying the passengers, there was a large square basket. The word ‘Le Horla’ was inscribed in gold characters on a Mahagony plate on the side of the basket. The balloon elicited a variety of reactions. Some predicted that the journey would be cut short.

Everyone took a step back. Gas began to enter the balloon via a long yellow fabric tube. When gas passed through the tube, it resembled a huge worm in motion. The balloon was gradually filled with gas and lifted into the air. The balloon was hit by the fading sun’s beams. It appeared to be a colossal golden pear.

The balloon was outfitted with a passenger basket. Captain Jovis and his helpers finished up the last-minute details. Two barometers, a siren, two trumpets, overcoats, raincoats, food, cigarette paper, and a ballast bag were carried to the basket. Captain Jovis, Lieutenant Mallet, M. Etierine Beer, M. Paul Bessand, and the author were among those on the journey. Lieutenant Mallet ascended the aerial net that connected the basket with the balloon. He could keep an eye on Le Horla’s movements at night from there. Everyone else was able to go into the hoop. Captain Jovis was the captain in command.

The cords were then severed. Le Horla rocketed skyward in a split second. The audience applauded and yelled.
The Ride-Beginning: 

It was an unusual experience. The balloon soared 500 metres into the sky. Underneath them, Paris spread out. They saw the streets, the buildings, the green fields, the broad countryside, the woods, and the setting sun. The overhead view of Paris was breathtaking. The earth appeared to be a coloured map. The earth’s noises were audible to them. They were able to identify each noise. They could sense the earth’s aromas.

It was now around 10:00 p.m. On Earth, it was dark. However, Le Horla was in the light. The balloon was heading towards the Belgian border. The passengers could hear country sounds such as dogs barking, cats meowing, and cows lowing. They would take to the sky above Paris.

To determine whether the balloon was soaring or sinking, they threw out cigarette papers. If the papers fell, the balloon would rise. The balloon was dropping as the papers rose.

Captain Jovis threw a handful of sand from the ballast bag whenever the balloon began to sink. It lightened the balloon’s weight slightly, and it began to rise again. The balloon is the wind’s slave. Controlling it requires a great deal of skill and attention.

The Journey’s Beauty and Joy:

Le Horla reached a height of 2000 metres. It was still ascending. The pilgrims sounded their trumpets, but there was no response from the ground. They could not see the ground. It was drenched in milky mist. They could see the stars twinkle above them. The moon appeared in the sky. It appeared to be another balloon in the sky.

Le Horla has become a roaming small universe of five men. The travellers were having a good time on their journey. All of their sorrows, troubles, and memories had vanished. They were floating about in space like planets.

It was a delightful kind of inertia. There is no requirement for any movement or activity. Simply remain in the basket and float. It was a pleasant and simple experience. They flew like birds without flapping their wings.

Return to Earth: 

It was well after midnight. Le Horla climbed to 2350 metres and then began to descend. Half of the ballast was thrown away by Jovis. However, the balloon continued to sink. They were soon very close to the ground.

They knew they were getting close to the Belgian border when they noticed the polar star. In front of them, they noticed a dog-like figure bouncing on the ground. It was the shadow of the balloon, according to Captain Jovis.

Le Horla was soaring above a farm pasture. The passengers noticed enormous cities to their right and left. They were surprised to see the lights of a town ahead of them. It seemed like a fantastic rush of fire beneath them.

Clouds gathered behind them. The wind was howling. Maupassant listened to the wind howling. He could see the approaching ignore. Captain Jovis, however, ignored it in order to keep the passengers calm. ‘Those are most likely waterfalls,’ he remarked. The moon was setting, and it was early morning in the east. The earth’s details became clear. The peasants waved their arms to the travellers as they awoke. They requested that the travellers land. The balloon, on the other hand, was still moving.

The Touch-down: 

Captain Jovis instructed everyone to prepare for the landing. They were near the sea. As a result, it was imperative to land right away. Lieutenant Mallet walked down to the basket from the net. Captain Jovis searched about for a decent landing place. They passed through a canal. They were now en route to a farm. The terrified animals and birds flew to the farmhouse. Jovis threw the rest of the ballast away. The balloon climbed slightly and flew near to the farmhouse’s roof. The balloon’s escape valve was deactivated. The balloon quickly deflated due to the release of gas. The anchor was lowered. It seized hold, and the balloon came to a halt with a tremendous shake. The basket made contact with the ground. It swung up and down. It eventually landed on the ground. The passengers disembarked. The peasants gathered around them in surprise. It was 3:15 a.m. With the assistance of Belgian peasants, the passengers arrived at Heyst railway station and boarded a train to Paris at 8.20 a.m. Thus, the extraordinary voyage began the previous evening and finished the following morning.

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Short Summary of The Trip of Le Horla

The narrator receives a telegram from Captain Jovis informing him that the air balloon expedition would begin at five o’clock. As a result, he arrives at La Villette around five o’clock. The balloon is in the courtyard, and its yellow material is dangling from a rope. People who have come to see the narrator’s hot air balloon voyage and others begin to investigate the hot air balloon’s basket. “Le Horla” is written on a mahogany plate in the basket.

The gas is being pumped into the yellow cloth via a long tube. As a result, “Le Horla” begins to grow exponentially. Captain Jovis and his crew are doing the rest of the work, such as widening the net to keep the pressure up. Some argue that the air balloon will be destroyed before reaching the walls. The passengers dine as is customary before boarding the hot air balloon’s basket.

Captain Jovis and his crew attach the basket to the balloon. Barometers have been used to predict the weather. They store a siren, two trumpets, food, overcoats, raincoats, and other items before the passengers begin their journey. Captain Jovis, Lieutenant Mallet, M. Etierine Beer, M. Paul Bessand, and Guy de Maupassant are the last to board the basket.

Le Horla is flying through the skies. “We float, we rise, we fly, we glide!” says the narrator of its motions. The passengers observe wonderful sights such as an overhead view of Paris, dommes, towers, steeples, “the plane,” “the country,” long, thin, white highways, green fields, and black woods. The air balloon is ascending and dropping at different moments. They may hear noises such as “the sound of the wheels rolling in the streets,” “the snap of a whip,” driver voices, “the rolling and whistling of the train,” and the lads laughing as they travel.

The clock is ticking. It is now after ten o’clock. Passengers can hear “country noises,” “quail cry,” “mewing of cats,” “barking of dogs,” and “lowing” of the cow. They can also detect “soil odours,” “hay smells,” flowers, and moisture. The passengers throw sand from the ballast wherever the air balloon drops. They even throw a pinch of sand, half a sheet of paper, one or two droplets of water, and chicken bones. They can also detect the “odour of gas.”

The air balloon is now rising. The passengers ascend to a height of two thousand feet. They can not see the barometers to check the weather because it is dark. They realised, however, that they are rising due to the fall of the rice paper, which is comparable to “dead butterflies.” They can not see the earth since it is obscured by mist. The stars are glittering above them. They have the impression that the moon is rising from below. They even see the earth to be immersed in “milky vapours” that appear to be a sea. They think of the moon as “another balloon,” and the balloon is compared to the “larger moon.” The passengers are compared to “birds who do not even have to flap their wings,” according to the announcer.

Passengers forget their problems, memories, regrets, plans, and hopes throughout their air balloon ride. They are on the rise once more. It is now 12:01 a.m. They travel across “cultivated country” and “a large city.” They observe the shadow of the air balloon, which the passengers initially misinterpret. Then they hear the “foundries'” noise. With the help of the polar star, they realise they are on their way to Belgium. The shadow of the air balloon grows larger as it moves, resembling “a child’s ball.”

Captain Jovis is aware that a storm is brewing. The light is slowly rising now, and the passengers can clearly see the trains, brooks, cows, and goats. They can also hear the cock’s crowing and the ducks’ voices. They even see peasants waving at them. They even see a motorway that is akin to a river with several islands.

The air balloon is about to descend. The passengers are aware that they are close to the water. So it will be dangerous if they do not land now. Captain Jovis is hunting for a landing spot. They have to cross a canal. The arrival of the hens, pigeons, ducks, dogs, cows, and cats frightens them. They aimed the arrow downwards in order to land securely. They pass through a beet farm.

The passengers land on a tree-lined region with the help of the guy-rope. At 3:15 a.m., they touch down on the ground. The landing is so terrible that the basket bounces numerous times before ultimately coming to rest on the ground. When they see them land, the Belgian villagers rush to their aid. Even the grazing cows rush towards them. The travellers are able to pack their belongings and travel to Heyst station to catch the train to Paris with the assistance of Belgian peasants. As the trip essay concludes, Guy de Maupassant expresses gratitude to Captain Jovis for inviting him on the hot air balloon flight, which provided him with a spectacular aerial view of Paris.

Trip of Le Horla – Question and Answers

Textual Questions and Answers

Question 1. What is special about the sentences in the telegram?
Answer: The sentences are grammatically incorrect. The message is communicated in short phrases.

Question 2. What does the author compare the balloon to?
Answer: The balloon is compared to a cake made of yellow cloth.

Question 3. What is the other thought that occurs to every mind?
Answer: The other thought that comes to mind is that of a baby in the womb being fed via the umbilical cord until it is born.

Question 4. Express the attitude of the spectators and passengers towards the sport of ballooning.
Answer: Some spectators believe the balloon will deflate before reaching its destination. Additionally, they criticise various other aspects of the balloon. However, the passengers are upbeat and enthusiastic about their mission, and they are optimistic about their success.

Question 5. What is the established custom mentioned here?
Answer: The established custom of passengers mentioned here is the dining in the gas-works canteen.

Question 6. When the travellers come out, what do they see?
Answer: When the travellers come out, they notice the balloon moving from side to side, large and translucent, like a big golden fruit, a magnificent pear that is still ripening with the last rays of the setting sun. The basket is affixed. The barometers and siren have been brought. There were also two trumpets, eatables, overcoats, and raincoats.

Question 7. Name the passengers in the balloon.
Answer: Jovis is the Captain. Then there are Lieutenant Mallet, M. Etierine Beer, M. Paul Bessand and the narrator, Guy de Maupassant.

Question 8. Who is posted as the officer on watch?
Answer: Lieutenant Mallet is posted as the officer on watch.

Question 9. Why does M. Eyries get out of the balloon? Is he regretful? Why?
Answer: M. Eyries exits the balloon since the basket carrying the passengers has become too heavy for the balloon. He is sorry. He had planned for this flight, and he was disappointed that he had to cancel it at the last minute. He would miss all the excitement and joy.

Question 10. What do M. Joliet’s deeds and words tell us about him?
Answer: M. Joliet is a gallant gentleman, as seen by his words and actions. He gallantly requests that the ladies step back a little since the inflating balloon may splatter sand on their hats. It demonstrates how respectful he is to the ladies.

Question 11. Comment on the use of the word ‘liberty’.
Answer: This word, ‘liberty,’ has been used by Maupassant in a most fitting way. By severing the rope that binds Le Horla to the earth, Le Horla is given liberty to fly through the boundless skies like a bird.

Question 12. Describe the aerial view of Paris.
Answer: Paris is a dark bluish patch divided by its streets. The domes, turrets, and steeples of Paris can be seen from the sky. The plain surrounds it, which is traversed by lengthy highways through green farms and woodlands.

Question 13. Have you ever had an aerial view of a place?
Answer: Yes, I had. Once I flew from Cochin to Mumbai and I had an aerial view of Mumbai.

Question 14. Can a view from an aeroplane be as picturesque as this balloon view? Why?
Answer: No, it can’t be. Because an aeroplane flies at a much greater height and at a greater speed and so your view can’t be as picturesque as from a balloon which flies at a lower height and with less speed.

Question 15. How do the travellers know whether they are rising or sinking?
Answer: By throwing cigarette paper out of the basket, travellers may know whether they are rising or sinking. If the paper falls like a stone, it indicates that the balloon is rising. The balloon is sinking if it looks to soar upward.

Question 16. All the noises are easily recognisable. Mention the diverse sounds that reach the travellers’ ears.
Answer: The sound of wheels rolling on the streets, the crack of a whip, the yells of drivers, the rolling and whistling of trains, and the laughing of lads racing after one another reach the travellers’ ears. When they fly over a village, the noise of children’s voices can be heard clearly above the others.

Question 17. How do the animals receive the balloon? How does the balloon appear before them?
Answer: The dogs bark. The cows low. To all the animals the balloon appears as a monster moving through the air. They are scared of it.

Question 18. The delicious odours of the soil rise toward us, the smell of hay, of flowers, of the moist, verdant earth, perfuming the air … Identify the type of imagery used here.
Answer: The imagery is that of a wedding – the bride eagerly and happily welcoming the groom.

Question 19. What do you think would be the fate of the balloon?
Answer: I think the balloon would get out of control.

Question 20. Why does Mallet ask the Captain to throw down half a handful of sand?
Answer: Mallet asks the Captain to throw down half a handful of sand because by doing that the weight of the balloon would be reduced helping it to rise.

Question 21. The balloon is both a free toy and a slave of the wind. Express your views on this statement.
Answer: The balloon is simultaneously a free toy and a wind slave. The travellers can raise and lower the balloon as desired, utilising the ballast bag (sand, stones, etc.) that they have brought along. It becomes a toy for them in this manner. However, they are powerless to intervene if the balloon gets trapped in a storm, at which point it becomes a slave and the travellers lose control.

Question 22. Can you observe odour? Why does the author say so?
Answer: Normally, we are unable to detect odour. We can only detect it by smell. According to the author, this could be witnessed because he can see the balloon inflating due to the warm air current and the gas escaping through the escape-valve.

Question 23. Comment on the expression: ‘losing its invisible blood by the escape-valve.’
Answer: Blood keeps the body alive. In the case of the balloon, it is the gas that keeps it ‘alive’ – flying in the air. Gas is thus the invisible blood.

Question 24. What do the mist-covered earth and star-studded sky indicate?
Answer: The mist-covered earth and star-studded sky indicate that it is night and the balloon and its passengers are at a great height.

Question 25. How is the rising of the moon described?
Answer: A silvery light appears and makes the sky turn pale. It is rising from unknown depths, behind the horizon, on the edge of a cloud.

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Question 26. Look at the expression ‘delicious inertia. ’ Can you identify the figure of speech used here?
Answer: The figure of speech used here is Metaphor.

Question 27. Why is space travel considered as ‘delicious inertia’ by the narrator?
Answer: Inertia is synonymous with passivity, the inability to move or act. The narrator expresses delight at the prospect of space flight, comparing it to eating delicious food. While travelling through space in a condition of inertia, there is a profound sense of fulfilment and enjoyment. They have the sensation of birds that do not require their wings to flap.

Question 28. Coin expressions describe the balloon just like the author who calls the balloon’ a world wandering in the sky’ and ‘a wandering, travelling world.’
Answer: ‘Soaring, fleeting world’ and ‘a fleeting world in the sky’.

Question 29. When does the balloon stop? Why?
Answer: The balloon stops when it reaches a height of two thousand three hundred and fifty metres. The air pressure must have come down so the balloon stops rising and then it starts to descend.

Question 30. How does the author describe the rapid descent of the balloon?
Answer: According to the author, they are going down fastly. M. Mallet requests that more ballast be thrown out. They are throwing sand and stones to lighten the balloon so it can fly higher, but their descent is so fast that the sand they are flinging flies back into their eyes.

The author says that they are going down very rapidly. M. Mallet asks the passengers to throw out more ballast. They are throwing out sand and stones to lighten the balloon so that it can fly upwards but their descent is so fast that the sand they throw flies back into their eyes.

Question 31. How does the shadow of the balloon appear to the travellers?
Answer: The travellers look down and see something running on the ground with great speed, jumping over ditches, roads and trees so easily but they cannot guess what it is until the captain tells them that it is the shadow of the balloon.

Question 32. How far does the polar star guide the travellers?

Answer: The polar star guides the travellers to Belgium which borders France on the south.

Question 33. Do you think it is a scientific way to travel?
Answer: Yes. The polar star is also called the North Star. It has been used by travellers for centuries to help them to know the direction as it remains constant in its position.

Question 34. Who is the bewildered man? Why is he bewildered?

Answer: Lieutenant Mallet, who was observing the balloon’s trajectory, is the bewildered man. He is bewildered or perplexed since the balloon is travelling at such a quick rate that he has no idea where they are.

Question 35. Can you justify the Captain’s behaviour?
Answer: The Captain recognises the sound they are hearing as the sound of a storm approaching. He does not want to worry his passengers, so he claims it is the sound of waterfalls and nudges the narrator to remain silent. It can explain the Captain’s behaviour. If the passengers are scared, they may act foolishly, which is extremely dangerous given that they are in a small basket on a soaring balloon.

36. identify the sounds and sights that welcome the dawn


Sky is blue, tinged with red
The train
The cows
The goat
Crowing of cocks
Quacking of the ducks
Lowing of the cows
Bleating of the goats.

Question 37. ‘The world fleeing under our feet’ —what experience does the author try to convey?
Answer: ‘The world fleeing under our feet’. The author used personification to portray his impression of the earth’s rapid movement while travelling in the balloon.

38. If you were in such a situation how would you react?
Answer: If I were in a flying balloon and there was a storm approaching and we needed to descend quickly, I would do what the people in the balloon did. I would be terrified, but I would pitch in to make sure we landed as safely as possible.

Question 39. ‘Religiously enclosed’- what ¡s your opinion about the adverb used here? How is the adverb connected with the verb ‘enclosed’?
Answer: It demonstrates how seriously and meticulously everything must be handled while travelling in a balloon. ‘Religiously enclosed’ is a personification. The adverb’religiously’ conveys a sense of seriousness and concern and is used to describe the verb ‘enclosed’. The narrator is implying that the escape valve was meticulously sealed in a white bag in order for all passengers to be cautious and treat it with respect, refraining from touching it.

Question 40. Why do you think the birds are hesitant to follow the balloon?
Answer: Thunder rumbles and the birds are wary of following the balloon, which appears to be a monster. They do not wish to be ensnared by the storm or the monster.

Question 41. List out the words and expressions that indicate the mad flight of the balloon.
Answer: The mad flight of the balloon is described:

The basket trembles and tips over.
The guy-rope touches the tall trees.
The balloon passes with frightful rapidity.
Bewildered chickens, pigeons, and ducks fly away
Cows, cats and dogs run, terrified, toward the house.

Question 42. What action does Mallet perform?
Answer: Mallet grasps the rope leading to the escape valve and clings to it. The cord connecting the anchor is then cut with a knife.

Question 43. Comment on the visual effect of ‘the balloon landing’.
Answer: The balloon landing is compared to the fall of a wounded beast during a hunt. It is extremely cleverly depicted as a wounded beast attempting to flee. But then it collapses and struggles, finally taking its last breath.

Question 44. Describe the reception of the balloon by the peasants.
Answer: The peasants hurried towards the landing balloon, and while they waited for it to deflate, a couple of them were jumping and gesticulating like savages. The peasants were kind and hospitable, assisting the travellers in packing all of their belongings and transporting them to the nearest station.

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