A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
Boldly Down The Crater
Supper was rapidly devoured, and the little company housed themselves as best they
could. The bed was hard, the shelter not very substantial, and our position an anxious
one, at five thousand feet above the sea level. Yet I slept particularly well; it was one of
the best nights I had ever had, and I did not even dream.
Next morning we awoke half frozen by the sharp keen air, but with the light of a splendid
sun. I rose from my granite bed and went out to enjoy the magnificent spectacle that lay
unrolled before me.
I stood on the very summit of the southernmost of Snaefell's peaks. The range of the eye
extended over the whole island. By an optical law which obtains at all great heights, the
shores seemed raised and the centre depressed. It seemed as if one of Helbesmer's raised
maps lay at my feet. I could see deep valleys intersecting each other in every direction,
precipices like low walls, lakes reduced to ponds, rivers abbreviated into streams. On my
right were numberless glaciers and innumerable peaks, some plumed with feathery clouds
of smoke. The undulating surface of these endless mountains, crested with sheets of
snow, reminded one of a stormy sea. If I looked westward, there the ocean lay spread out
in all its magnificence, like a mere continuation of those flock-like summits. The eye
could hardly tell where the snowy ridges ended and the foaming waves began.
I was thus steeped in the marvellous ecstasy which all high summits develop in the mind;
and now without giddiness, for I was beginning to be accustomed to these sublime
aspects of nature. My dazzled eyes were bathed in the bright flood of the solar rays. I was
forgetting where and who I was, to live the life of elves and sylphs, the fanciful creation
of Scandinavian superstitions. I felt intoxicated with the sublime pleasure of lofty
elevations without thinking of the profound abysses into which I was shortly to be
plunged. But I was brought back to the realities of things by the arrival of Hans and the
Professor, who joined me on the summit.
My uncle pointed out to me in the far west a light steam or mist, a semblance of land,
which bounded the distant horizon of waters.
"Greenland!" said he.
"Greenland?" I cried.
"Yes; we are only thirty-five leagues from it; and during thaws the white bears, borne by
the ice fields from the north, are carried even into Iceland. But never mind that. Here we
are at the top of Snaefell and here are two peaks, one north and one south. Hans will tell
us the name of that on which we are now standing."
The question being put, Hans replied: