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A Journey to the Interior of the Earth

"Where to?"
I pointed with my finger downward.
"Down into the cellar?" cried the old servant.
"No," I said. "Lower down than that."
Night came. But I knew nothing about the lapse of time.
"Tomorrow morning at six precisely," my uncle decreed "we start."
At ten o'clock I fell upon my bed, a dead lump of inert matter. All through the night terror
had hold of me. I spent it dreaming of abysses. I was a prey to delirium. I felt myself
grasped by the Professor's sinewy hand, dragged along, hurled down, shattered into little
bits. I dropped down unfathomable precipices with the accelerating velocity of bodies
falling through space. My life had become an endless fall. I awoke at five with shattered
nerves, trembling and weary. I came downstairs. My uncle was at table, devouring his
breakfast. I stared at him with horror and disgust. But dear Grauben was there; so I said
nothing, and could eat nothing.
At half-past five there was a rattle of wheels outside. A large carriage was there to take us
to the Altona railway station. It was soon piled up with my uncle's multifarious
preparations.
"Where's your box?" he cried.
"It is ready," I replied, with faltering voice.
"Then make haste down, or we shall lose the train."
It was now manifestly impossible to maintain the struggle against destiny. I went up
again to my room, and rolling my portmanteaus downstairs I darted after him. At that
moment my uncle was solemnly investing Grauben with the reins of government. My
pretty Virlandaise was as calm and collected as was her wont. She kissed her guardian;
but could not restrain a tear in touching my cheek with her gentle lips.
"Grauben!" I murmured.
"Go, my dear Axel, go! I am now your betrothed; and when you come back I will be your
wife."
I pressed her in my arms and took my place in the carriage. Martha and the young girl,
standing at the door, waved their last farewell. Then the horses, roused by the driver's
whistling, darted off at a gallop on the road to Altona.
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