A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
Preparations For Blasting A Passage To The Centre Of
Since the start upon this marvellous pilgrimage I had been through so many
astonishments that I might well be excused for thinking myself well hardened against any
further surprise. Yet at the sight of these two letters, engraved on this spot three hundred
years ago, I stood aghast in dumb amazement. Not only were the initials of the learned
alchemist visible upon the living rock, but there lay the iron point with which the letters
had been engraved. I could no longer doubt of the existence of that wonderful traveller
and of the fact of his unparalleled journey, without the most glaring incredulity.
Whilst these reflections were occupying me, Professor Liedenbrock had launched into a
somewhat rhapsodical eulogium, of which Arne Saknussemm was, of course, the hero.
"Thou marvellous genius!" he cried, "thou hast not forgotten one indication which might
serve to lay open to mortals the road through the terrestrial crust; and thy fellow-creatures
may even now, after the lapse of three centuries, again trace thy footsteps through these
deep and darksome ways. You reserved the contemplation of these wonders for other
eyes besides your own. Your name, graven from stage to stage, leads the bold follower of
your footsteps to the very centre of our planet's core, and there again we shall find your
own name written with your own hand. I too will inscribe my name upon this dark
granite page. But for ever henceforth let this cape that advances into the sea discovered
by yourself be known by your own illustrious name--Cape Saknussemm."
Such were the glowing words of panegyric which fell upon my attentive ear, and I could
not resist the sentiment of enthusiasm with which I too was infected. The fire of zeal
kindled afresh in me. I forgot everything. I dismissed from my mind the past perils of the
journey, the future danger of our return. That which another had done I supposed we
might also do, and nothing that was not superhuman appeared impossible to me.
"Forward! forward!" I cried.
I was already darting down the gloomy tunnel when the Professor stopped me; he, the
man of impulse, counselled patience and coolness.
"Let us first return to Hans," he said, "and bring the raft to this spot."
I obeyed, not without dissatisfaction, and passed out rapidly among the rocks on the
I said: "Uncle, do you know it seems to me that circumstances have wonderfully
befriended us hitherto?"
"You think so, Axel?"