A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
(and we shall meet with many) you will see him plunge in at once, just as if he were
amphibious, and gain the opposite bank. But we must not hurry him; we must let him
have his way, and we shall get on at the rate of thirty miles a day."
"We may; but how about our guide?"
"Oh, never mind him. People like him get over the ground without a thought. There is so
little action in this man that he will never get tired; and besides, if he wants it, he shall
have my horse. I shall get cramped if I don't have a little action. The arms are all right,
but the legs want exercise."
We were advancing at a rapid pace. The country was already almost a desert. Here and
there was a lonely farm, called a boer built either of wood, or of sods, or of pieces of
lava, looking like a poor beggar by the wayside. These ruinous huts seemed to solicit
charity from passers-by; and on very small provocation we should have given alms for
the relief of the poor inmates. In this country there were no roads and paths, and the poor
vegetation, however slow, would soon efface the rare travellers' footsteps.
Yet this part of the province, at a very small distance from the capital, is reckoned among
the inhabited and cultivated portions of Iceland. What, then, must other tracts be, more
desert than this desert? In the first half mile we had not seen one farmer standing before
his cabin door, nor one shepherd tending a flock less wild than himself, nothing but a few
cows and sheep left to themselves. What then would be those convulsed regions upon
which we were advancing, regions subject to the dire phenomena of eruptions, the
offspring of volcanic explosions and subterranean convulsions?
We were to know them before long, but on consulting Olsen's map, I saw that they would
be avoided by winding along the seashore. In fact, the great plutonic action is confined to
the central portion of the island; there, rocks of the trappean and volcanic class, including
trachyte, basalt, and tuffs and agglomerates associated with streams of lava, have made
this a land of supernatural horrors. I had no idea of the spectacle which was awaiting us
in the peninsula of Snaefell, where these ruins of a fiery nature have formed a frightful
In two hours from Rejkiavik we arrived at the burgh of Gufunes, called Aolkirkja, or
principal church. There was nothing remarkable here but a few houses, scarcely enough
for a German hamlet.
Hans stopped here half an hour. He shared with us our frugal breakfast; answering my
uncle's questions about the road and our resting place that night with merely yes or no,
except when he said "Gardar."
I consulted the map to see where Gardar was. I saw there was a small town of that name
on the banks of the Hvalfiord, four miles from Rejkiavik. I showed it to my uncle.