A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
To tell the plain truth, I pitied him. In spite of the reproaches which I considered I had a
right to lay upon him, a certain feeling of compassion was beginning to gain upon me.
The poor man was so entirely taken up with his one idea that he had even forgotten how
to get angry. All the strength of his feelings was concentrated upon one point alone; and
as their usual vent was closed, it was to be feared lest extreme tension should give rise to
an explosion sooner or later.
I might with a word have loosened the screw of the steel vice that was crushing his brain;
but that word I would not speak.
Yet I was not an ill-natured fellow. Why was I dumb at such a crisis? Why so insensible
to my uncle's interests?
"No, no," I repeated, "I shall not speak. He would insist upon going; nothing on earth
could stop him. His imagination is a volcano, and to do that which other geologists have
never done he would risk his life. I will preserve silence. I will keep the secret which
mere chance has revealed to me. To discover it, would be to kill Professor Liedenbrock!
Let him find it out himself if he can. I will never have it laid to my door that I led him to
Having formed this resolution, I folded my arms and waited. But I had not reckoned upon
one little incident which turned up a few hours after.
When our good Martha wanted to go to Market, she found the door locked. The big key
was gone. Who could have taken it out? Assuredly, it was my uncle, when he returned
the night before from his hurried walk.
Was this done on purpose? Or was it a mistake? Did he want to reduce us by famine?
This seemed like going rather too far! What! should Martha and I be victims of a position
of things in which we had not the smallest interest? It was a fact that a few years before
this, whilst my uncle was working at his great classification of minerals, he was forty-
eight hours without eating, and all his household were obliged to share in this scientific
fast. As for me, what I remember is, that I got severe cramps in my stomach, which
hardly suited the constitution of a hungry, growing lad.
Now it appeared to me as if breakfast was going to be wanting, just as supper had been
the night before. Yet I resolved to be a hero, and not to be conquered by the pangs of
hunger. Martha took it very seriously, and, poor woman, was very much distressed. As
for me, the impossibility of leaving the house distressed me a good deal more, and for a
very good reason. A caged lover's feelings may easily be imagined.
My uncle went on working, his imagination went off rambling into the ideal world of
combinations; he was far away from earth, and really far away from earthly wants.