A Journey to the Interior of the Earth HTML version
Serious Preparations For Vertical Descent
Altona, which is but a suburb of Hamburg, is the terminus of the Kiel railway, which was
to carry us to the Belts. In twenty minutes we were in Holstein.
At half-past six the carriage stopped at the station; my uncle's numerous packages, his
voluminous IMPEDIMENTA, were unloaded, removed, labelled, weighed, put into the
luggage vans, and at seven we were seated face to face in our compartment. The whistle
sounded, the engine started, we were off.
Was I resigned? No, not yet. Yet the cool morning air and the scenes on the road, rapidly
changed by the swiftness of the train, drew me away somewhat from my sad reflections.
As for the Professor's reflections, they went far in advance of the swiftest express. We
were alone in the carriage, but we sat in silence. My uncle examined all his pockets and
his travelling bag with the minutest care. I saw that he had not forgotten the smallest
matter of detail.
Amongst other documents, a sheet of paper, carefully folded, bore the heading of the
Danish consulate with the signature of W. Christiensen, consul at Hamburg and the
Professor's friend. With this we possessed the proper introductions to the Governor of
I also observed the famous document most carefully laid up in a secret pocket in his
portfolio. I bestowed a malediction upon it, and then proceeded to examine the country.
It was a very long succession of uninteresting loamy and fertile flats, a very easy country
for the construction of railways, and propitious for the laying-down of these direct level
lines so dear to railway companies.
I had no time to get tired of the monotony; for in three hours we stopped at Kiel, close to
The luggage being labelled for Copenhagen, we had no occasion to look after it. Yet the
Professor watched every article with jealous vigilance, until all were safe on board. There
they disappeared in the hold.
My uncle, notwithstanding his hurry, had so well calculated the relations between the
train and the steamer that we had a whole day to spare. The steamer ELLENORA, did not
start until night. Thence sprang a feverish state of excitement in which the impatient
irascible traveller devoted to perdition the railway directors and the steamboat companies
and the governments which allowed such intolerable slowness. I was obliged to act
chorus to him when he attacked the captain of the ELLENORA upon this subject. The
captain disposed of us summarily.