A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
Iceland! But What Next?
The day for our departure arrived. The day before it our kind friend M. Thomsen brought
us letters of introduction to Count Trampe, the Governor of Iceland, M. Picturssen, the
bishop's suffragan, and M. Finsen, mayor of Rejkiavik. My uncle expressed his gratitude
by tremendous compressions of both his hands.
On the 2nd, at six in the evening, all our precious baggage being safely on board the
VALKYRIA, the captain took us into a very narrow cabin.
"Is the wind favourable?" my uncle asked.
"Excellent," replied Captain Bjarne; "a sou'-easter. We shall pass down the Sound full
speed, with all sails set."
In a few minutes the schooner, under her mizen, brigantine, topsail, and topgallant sail,
loosed from her moorings and made full sail through the straits. In an hour the capital of
Denmark seemed to sink below the distant waves, and the VALKYRIA was skirting the
coast by Elsinore. In my nervous frame of mind I expected to see the ghost of Hamlet
wandering on the legendary castle terrace.
"Sublime madman!" I said, "no doubt you would approve of our expedition. Perhaps you
would keep us company to the centre of the globe, to find the solution of your eternal
But there was no ghostly shape upon the ancient walls. Indeed, the castle is much
younger than the heroic prince of Denmark. It now answers the purpose of a sumptuous
lodge for the doorkeeper of the straits of the Sound, before which every year there pass
fifteen thousand ships of all nations.
The castle of Kronsberg soon disappeared in the mist, as well as the tower of
Helsingborg, built on the Swedish coast, and the schooner passed lightly on her way
urged by the breezes of the Cattegat.
The VALKYRIA was a splendid sailer, but on a sailing vessel you can place no
dependence. She was taking to Rejkiavik coal, household goods, earthenware, woollen
clothing, and a cargo of wheat. The crew consisted of five men, all Danes.
"How long will the passage take?" my uncle asked.
"Ten days," the captain replied, "if we don't meet a nor'-wester in passing the Faroes."
"But are you not subject to considerable delays?"
"No, M. Liedenbrock, don't be uneasy, we shall get there in very good time."