A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
For a whole hour I was trying to work out in my delirious brain the reasons which might
have influenced this seemingly tranquil huntsman. The absurdest notions ran in utter
confusion through my mind. I thought madness was coming on!
But at last a noise of footsteps was heard in the dark abyss. Hans was approaching. A
flickering light was beginning to glimmer on the wall of our darksome prison; then it
came out full at the mouth of the gallery. Hans appeared.
He drew close to my uncle, laid his hand upon his shoulder, and gently woke him. My
uncle rose up.
"What is the matter?" he asked.
"WATTEN!" replied the huntsman.
No doubt under the inspiration of intense pain everybody becomes endowed with the gift
of divers tongues. I did not know a word of Danish, yet instinctively I understood the
word he had uttered.
"Water! water!" I cried, clapping my hands and gesticulating like a madman.
"Water!" repeated my uncle. "Hvar?" he asked, in Icelandic.
"NEDAT," replied Hans.
"Where? Down below!" I understood it all. I seized the hunter's hands, and pressed them
while he looked on me without moving a muscle of his countenance.
The preparations for our departure were not long in making, and we were soon on our
way down a passage inclining two feet in seven. In an hour we had gone a mile and a
quarter, and descended two thousand feet.
Then I began to hear distinctly quite a new sound of something running within the
thickness of the granite wall, a kind of dull, dead rumbling, like distant thunder. During
the first part of our walk, not meeting with the promised spring, I felt my agony
returning; but then my uncle acquainted me with the cause of the strange noise.
"Hans was not mistaken," he said. "What you hear is the rushing of a torrent."
"A torrent?" I exclaimed.
"There can be no doubt; a subterranean river is flowing around us."