A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
Compassion Fuses The Professor's Heart
Next day we started early. We had to hasten forward. It was a three days' march to the
I will not speak of the sufferings we endured in our return. My uncle bore them with the
angry impatience of a man obliged to own his weakness; Hans with the resignation of his
passive nature; I, I confess, with complaints and expressions of despair. I had no spirit to
oppose this ill fortune.
As I had foretold, the water failed entirely by the end of the first day's retrograde march.
Our fluid aliment was now nothing but gin; but this infernal fluid burned my throat, and I
could not even endure the sight of it. I found the temperature and the air stifling. Fatigue
paralysed my limbs. More than once I dropped down motionless. Then there was a halt;
and my uncle and the Icelander did their best to restore me. But I saw that the former was
struggling painfully against excessive fatigue and the tortures of thirst.
At last, on Tuesday, July 8, we arrived on our hands and knees, and half dead, at the
junction of the two roads. There I dropped like a lifeless lump, extended on the lava soil.
It was ten in the morning.
Hans and my uncle, clinging to the wall, tried to nibble a few bits of biscuit. Long moans
escaped from my swollen lips.
After some time my uncle approached me and raised me in his arms.
"Poor boy!" said he, in genuine tones of compassion.
I was touched with these words, not being accustomed to see the excitable Professor in a
softened mood. I grasped his trembling hands in mine. He let me hold them and looked at
me. His eyes were moistened.
Then I saw him take the flask that was hanging at his side. To my amazement he placed it
on my lips.
"Drink!" said he.
Had I heard him? Was my uncle beside himself? I stared at, him stupidly, and felt as if I
could not understand him.
"Drink!" he said again.
And raising his flask he emptied it every drop between my lips.