A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
My uncle said it was time to go to sleep. We ate without talking, and went to sleep
Our arrangements for the night were very simple; a railway rug each, into which we
rolled ourselves, was our sole covering. We had neither cold nor intrusive visits to fear.
Travellers who penetrate into the wilds of central Africa, and into the pathless forests of
the New World, are obliged to watch over each other by night. But we enjoyed absolute
safety and utter seclusion; no savages or wild beasts infested these silent depths.
Next morning, we awoke fresh and in good spirits. The road was resumed. As the day
before, we followed the path of the lava. It was impossible to tell what rocks we were
passing: the tunnel, instead of tending lower, approached more and more nearly to a
horizontal direction, I even fancied a slight rise. But about ten this upward tendency
became so evident, and therefore so fatiguing, that I was obliged to slacken my pace.
"Well, Axel?" demanded the Professor impatiently.
"Well, I cannot stand it any longer," I replied.
"What! after three hours' walk over such easy ground."
"It may be easy, but it is tiring all the same."
"What, when we have nothing to do but keep going down!"
"Going up, if you please."
"Going up!" said my uncle, with a shrug.
"No doubt, for the last half-hour the inclines have gone the other way, and at this rate we
shall soon arrive upon the level soil of Iceland."
The Professor nodded slowly and uneasily like a man that declines to be convinced. I
tried to resume the conversation. He answered not a word, and gave the signal for a start.
I saw that his silence was nothing but ill-humour.
Still I had courageously shouldered my burden again, and was rapidly following Hans,
whom my uncle preceded. I was anxious not to be left behind. My greatest care was not
to lose sight of my companions. I shuddered at the thought of being lost in the mazes of
this vast subterranean labyrinth.
Besides, if the ascending road did become steeper, I was comforted with the thought that
it was bringing us nearer to the surface. There was hope in this. Every step confirmed me
in it, and I was rejoicing at the thought of meeting my little Grauben again.