A Journey to the Interior of the Earth HTML version
Forest Scenery Illuminated By Eletricity
For another half hour we trod upon a pavement of bones. We pushed on, impelled by our
burning curiosity. What other marvels did this cavern contain? What new treasures lay
here for science to unfold? I was prepared for any surprise, my imagination was ready for
any astonishment however astounding.
We had long lost sight of the sea shore behind the hills of bones. The rash Professor,
careless of losing his way, hurried me forward. We advanced in silence, bathed in
luminous electric fluid. By some phenomenon which I am unable to explain, it lighted up
all sides of every object equally. Such was its diffusiveness, there being no central point
from which the light emanated, that shadows no longer existed. You might have thought
yourself under the rays of a vertical sun in a tropical region at noonday and the height of
summer. No vapour was visible. The rocks, the distant mountains, a few isolated clumps
of forest trees in the distance, presented a weird and wonderful aspect under these totally
new conditions of a universal diffusion of light. We were like Hoffmann's shadowless
After walking a mile we reached the outskirts of a vast forest, but not one of those forests
of fungi which bordered Port Grauben.
Here was the vegetation of the tertiary period in its fullest blaze of magnificence. Tall
palms, belonging to species no longer living, splendid palmacites, firs, yews, cypress
trees, thujas, representatives of the conifers. were linked together by a tangled network of
long climbing plants. A soft carpet of moss and hepaticas luxuriously clothed the soil. A
few sparkling streams ran almost in silence under what would have been the shade of the
trees, but that there was no shadow. On their banks grew tree-ferns similar to those we
grow in hothouses. But a remarkable feature was the total absence of colour in all those
trees, shrubs, and plants, growing without the life-giving heat and light of the sun.
Everything seemed mixed-up and confounded in one uniform silver grey or light brown
tint like that of fading and faded leaves. Not a green leaf anywhere, and the flowers--
which were abundant enough in the tertiary period, which first gave birth to flowers--
looked like brown-paper flowers, without colour or scent.
My uncle Liedenbrock ventured to penetrate under this colossal grove. I followed him,
not without fear. Since nature had here provided vegetable nourishment, why should not
the terrible mammals be there too? I perceived in the broad clearings left by fallen trees,
decayed with age, leguminose plants, acerineae, rubiceae and many other eatable shrubs,
dear to ruminant animals at every period. Then I observed, mingled together in confusion,
trees of countries far apart on the surface of the globe. The oak and the palm were
growing side by side, the Australian eucalyptus leaned against the Norwegian pine, the
birch-tree of the north mingled its foliage with New Zealand kauris. It was enough to
distract the most ingenious classifier of terrestrial botany.
Suddenly I halted. I drew back my uncle.