A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
An Electric Storm
FRIDAY, AUGUST 21. On the morrow the magnificent geyser has disappeared. The
wind has risen, and has rapidly carried us away from Axel Island. The roarings become
lost in the distance.
The weather--if we may use that term--will change before long. The atmosphere is
charged with vapours, pervaded with the electricity generated by the evaporation of
saline waters. The clouds are sinking lower, and assume an olive hue. The electric light
can scarcely penetrate through the dense curtain which has dropped over the theatre on
which the battle of the elements is about to be waged.
I feel peculiar sensations, like many creatures on earth at the approach of violent
atmospheric changes. The heavily voluted cumulus clouds lower gloomily and
threateningly; they wear that implacable look which I have sometimes noticed at the
outbreak of a great storm. The air is heavy; the sea is calm.
In the distance the clouds resemble great bales of cotton, piled up in picturesque disorder.
By degrees they dilate, and gain in huge size what they lose in number. Such is their
ponderous weight that they cannot rise from the horizon; but, obeying an impulse from
higher currents, their dense consistency slowly yields. The gloom upon them deepens;
and they soon present to our view a ponderous mass of almost level surface. From time to
time a fleecy tuft of mist, with yet some gleaming light left upon it, drops down upon the
dense floor of grey, and loses itself in the opaque and impenetrable mass.
The atmosphere is evidently charged and surcharged with electricity. My whole body is
saturated; my hair bristles just as when you stand upon an insulated stool under the action
of an electrical machine. It seems to me as if my companions, the moment they touched
me, would receive a severe shock like that from an electric eel.
At ten in the morning the symptoms of storm become aggravated. The wind never lulls
but to acquire increased strength; the vast bank of heavy clouds is a huge reservoir of
fearful windy gusts and rushing storms.
I am loth to believe these atmospheric menaces, and yet I cannot help muttering:
"Here's some very bad weather coming on."
The Professor made no answer. His temper is awful, to judge from the working of his
features, as he sees this vast length of ocean unrolling before him to an indefinite extent.
He can only spare time to shrug his shoulders viciously.
"There's a heavy storm coming on," I cried, pointing towards the horizon. "Those clouds
seem as if they were going to crush the sea."