A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
When I removed my hand it was black. I looked nearer, and found we were in a coal
"A coal mine!" I cried.
"A mine without miners," my uncle replied.
"Who knows?" I asked.
"I know," the Professor pronounced decidedly, "I am certain that this gallery driven
through beds of coal was never pierced by the hand of man. But whether it be the hand of
nature or not does not matter. Supper time is come; let us sup."
Hans prepared some food. I scarcely ate, and I swallowed down the few drops of water
rationed out to me. One flask half full was all we had left to slake the thirst of three men.
After their meal my two companions laid themselves down upon their rugs, and found in
sleep a solace for their fatigue. But I could not sleep, and I counted every hour until
On Saturday, at six, we started afresh. In twenty minutes we reached a vast open space; I
then knew that the hand of man had not hollowed out this mine; the vaults would have
been shored up, and, as it was, they seemed to be held up by a miracle of equilibrium.
This cavern was about a hundred feet wide and a hundred and fifty in height. A large
mass had been rent asunder by a subterranean disturbance. Yielding to some vast power
from below it had broken asunder, leaving this great hollow into which human beings
were now penetrating for the first time.
The whole history of the carboniferous period was written upon these gloomy walls, and
a geologist might with ease trace all its diverse phases. The beds of coal were separated
by strata of sandstone or compact clays, and appeared crushed under the weight of
At the age of the world which preceded the secondary period, the earth was clothed with
immense vegetable forms, the product of the double influence of tropical heat and
constant moisture; a vapoury atmosphere surrounded the earth, still veiling the direct rays
of the sun.
Thence arises the conclusion that the high temperature then existing was due to some
other source than the heat of the sun. Perhaps even the orb of day may not have been
ready yet to play the splendid part he now acts.
There were no 'climates' as yet, and a torrid heat, equal from pole to equator, was spread
over the whole surface of the globe. Whence this heat? Was it from the interior of the