At the Earth's Core
Chapter 1. Toward The Eternal Fires
I was born in Connecticut about thirty years ago. My name is David Innes. My father was
a wealthy mine owner. When I was nineteen he died. All his property was to be mine
when I had attained my majority--provided that I had devoted the two years intervening
in close application to the great business I was to inherit.
I did my best to fulfil the last wishes of my parent-- not because of the inheritance, but
because I loved and honored my father. For six months I toiled in the mines and in the
counting-rooms, for I wished to know every minute detail of the business.
Then Perry interested me in his invention. He was an old fellow who had devoted the
better part of a long life to the perfection of a mechanical subterranean prospector. As
relaxation he studied paleontology. I looked over his plans, listened to his arguments,
inspected his working model--and then, convinced, I advanced the funds necessary to
construct a full-sized, practical prospector.
I shall not go into the details of its construction--it lies out there in the desert now--about
two miles from here. Tomorrow you may care to ride out and see it. Roughly, it is a steel
cylinder a hundred feet long, and jointed so that it may turn and twist through solid rock
if need be. At one end is a mighty revolving drill operated by an engine which Perry said
generated more power to the cubic inch than any other engine did to the cubic foot. I
remember that he used to claim that that invention alone would make us fabulously
wealthy--we were going to make the whole thing public after the successful issue of our
first secret trial--but Perry never returned from that trial trip, and I only after ten years.
I recall as it were but yesterday the night of that momentous occasion upon which we
were to test the practicality of that wondrous invention. It was near midnight when we
repaired to the lofty tower in which Perry had constructed his "iron mole" as he was wont
to call the thing. The great nose rested upon the bare earth of the floor. We passed
through the doors into the outer jacket, secured them, and then passing on into the cabin,
which contained the controlling mechanism within the inner tube, switched on the
Perry looked to his generator; to the great tanks that held the life-giving chemicals with
which he was to manufacture fresh air to replace that which we consumed in breathing; to
his instruments for recording temperatures, speed, distance, and for examining the
materials through which we were to pass.
He tested the steering device, and overlooked the mighty cogs which transmitted its
marvelous velocity to the giant drill at the nose of his strange craft.
Our seats, into which we strapped ourselves, were so arranged upon transverse bars that
we would be upright whether the craft were ploughing her way downward into the