A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH - 19 in English Adventure Stories by Jules Verne books and stories PDF | A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH - 19

A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH - 19

A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH

By Jules Verne

CHAPTER 19

THE WESTERN GALLERY--A NEW ROUTE

Our descent was now resumed by means of the second gallery. Hans took up

his post in front as usual. We had not gone more than a hundred yards

when the Professor carefully examined the walls.

"This is the primitive formation--we are on the right road--onwards is

our hope!"

When the whole earth got cool in the first hours of the world's morning,

the diminution of the volume of the earth produced a state of

dislocation in its upper crust, followed by ruptures, crevasses and

fissures. The passage was a fissure of this kind, through which, ages

ago, had flowed the eruptive granite. The thousand windings and turnings

formed an inextricable labyrinth through the ancient soil.

As we descended, successions of layers composing the primitive soil

appeared with the utmost fidelity of detail. Geological science

considers this primitive soil as the base of the mineral crust, and it

has recognized that it is composed of three different strata or layers,

all resting on the immovable rock known as granite.

No mineralogists had even found themselves placed in such a marvelous

position to study nature in all her real and naked beauty. The sounding

rod, a mere machine, could not bring to the surface of the earth the

objects of value for the study of its internal structure, which we were

about to see with our own eyes, to touch with our own hands.

Remember that I am writing this after the journey.

Across the streak of the rocks, colored by beautiful green tints, wound

metallic threads of copper, of manganese, with traces of platinum and

gold. I could not help gazing at these riches buried in the entrails of

Mother Earth, and of which no man would have the enjoyment to the end of

time! These treasures--mighty and inexhaustible, were buried in the

morning of the earth's history, at such awful depths, that no crowbar or

pickax will ever drag them from their tomb!

The light of our Ruhmkorff's coil, increased tenfold by the myriad of

prismatic masses of rock, sent its jets of fire in every direction, and

I could fancy myself traveling through a huge hollow diamond, the rays

of which produced myriads of extraordinary effects.

Towards six o'clock, this festival of light began sensibly and visibly

to decrease, and soon almost ceased. The sides of the gallery assumed a

crystallized tint, with a somber hue; white mica began to commingle more

freely with feldspar and quartz, to form what may be called the true

rock--the stone which is hard above all, that supports, without being

crushed, the four stories of the earth's soil.

We were walled by an immense prison of granite!

It was now eight o'clock, and still there was no sign of water. The

sufferings I endured were horrible. My uncle now kept at the head of our

little column. Nothing could induce him to stop. I, meanwhile, had but

one real thought. My ear was keenly on the watch to catch the sound of a

spring. But no pleasant sound of falling water fell upon my listening

ear.

But at last the time came when my limbs refused to carry me longer. I

contended heroically against the terrible tortures I endured, because I

did not wish to compel my uncle to halt. To him I knew this would be the

last fatal stroke.

Suddenly I felt a deadly faintness come over me. My eyes could no longer

see; my knees shook. I gave one despairing cry--and fell!

"Help, help, I am dying!"

My uncle turned and slowly retraced his steps. He looked at me with

folded arms, and then allowed one sentence to escape, in hollow accents,

from his lips:

"All is over."

The last thing I saw was a face fearfully distorted with pain and

sorrow; and then my eyes closed.

When I again opened them, I saw my companions lying near me, motionless,

wrapped in their huge traveling rugs. Were they asleep or dead? For

myself, sleep was wholly out of the question. My fainting fit over, I

was wakeful as the lark. I suffered too much for sleep to visit my

eyelids--the more, that I thought myself sick unto death--dying. The

last words spoken by my uncle seemed to be buzzing in my ears--all is

over! And it was probable that he was right. In the state of prostration

to which I was reduced, it was madness to think of ever again seeing the

light of day.

Above were miles upon miles of the earth's crust. As I thought of it, I

could fancy the whole weight resting on my shoulders. I was crushed,

annihilated! and exhausted myself in vain attempts to turn in my granite

bed.

Hours upon hours passed away. A profound and terrible silence reigned

around us--a silence of the tomb. Nothing could make itself heard

through these gigantic walls of granite. The very thought was

stupendous.

Presently, despite my apathy, despite the kind of deadly calm into which

I was cast, something aroused me. It was a slight but peculiar noise.

While I was watching intently, I observed that the tunnel was becoming

dark. Then gazing through the dim light that remained, I thought I saw

the Icelander taking his departure, lamp in hand.

Why had he acted thus? Did Hans the guide mean to abandon us? My uncle

lay fast asleep--or dead. I tried to cry out, and arouse him. My voice,

feebly issuing from my parched and fevered lips, found no echo in that

fearful place. My throat was dry, my tongue stuck to the roof of my

mouth. The obscurity had by this time become intense, and at last even

the faint sound of the guide's footsteps was lost in the blank distance.

My soul seemed filled with anguish, and death appeared welcome, only let

it come quickly.

"Hans is leaving us," I cried. "Hans--Hans, if you are a man, come

back."

These words were spoken to myself. They could not be heard aloud.

Nevertheless, after the first few moments of terror were over, I was

ashamed of my suspicions against a man who hitherto had behaved so

admirably. Nothing in his conduct or character justified suspicion.

Moreover, a moment's reflection reassured me. His departure could not be

a flight. Instead of ascending the gallery, he was going deeper down

into the gulf. Had he had any bad design, his way would have been

upwards.

This reasoning calmed me a little and I began to hope!

The good, and peaceful, and imperturbable Hans would certainly not have

arisen from his sleep without some serious and grave motive. Was he bent

on a voyage of discovery? During the deep, still silence of the night

had he at last heard that sweet murmur about which we were all so

anxious?

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