A Journey to the Interior of the Earth HTML version
A Mystery To Be Solved At Any Price
That study of his was a museum, and nothing else. Specimens of everything known in
mineralogy lay there in their places in perfect order, and correctly named, divided into
inflammable, metallic, and lithoid minerals.
How well I knew all these bits of science! Many a time, instead of enjoying the company
of lads of my own age, I had preferred dusting these graphites, anthracites, coals, lignites,
and peats! And there were bitumens, resins, organic salts, to be protected from the least
grain of dust; and metals, from iron to gold, metals whose current value altogether
disappeared in the presence of the republican equality of scientific specimens; and stones
too, enough to rebuild entirely the house in Konigstrasse, even with a handsome
additional room, which would have suited me admirably.
But on entering this study now I thought of none of all these wonders; my uncle alone
filled my thoughts. He had thrown himself into a velvet easy-chair, and was grasping
between his hands a book over which he bent, pondering with intense admiration.
"Here's a remarkable book! What a wonderful book!" he was exclaiming.
These ejaculations brought to my mind the fact that my uncle was liable to occasional fits
of bibliomania; but no old book had any value in his eyes unless it had the virtue of being
nowhere else to be found, or, at any rate, of being illegible.
"Well, now; don't you see it yet? Why I have got a priceless treasure, that I found his
morning, in rummaging in old Hevelius's shop, the Jew."
"Magnificent!" I replied, with a good imitation of enthusiasm.
What was the good of all this fuss about an old quarto, bound in rough calf, a yellow,
faded volume, with a ragged seal depending from it?
But for all that there was no lull yet in the admiring exclamations of the Professor.
"See," he went on, both asking the questions and supplying the answers. "Isn't it a
beauty? Yes; splendid! Did you ever see such a binding? Doesn't the book open easily?
Yes; it stops open anywhere. But does it shut equally well? Yes; for the binding and the
leaves are flush, all in a straight line, and no gaps or openings anywhere. And look at its
back, after seven hundred years. Why, Bozerian, Closs, or Purgold might have been
proud of such a binding!"
While rapidly making these comments my uncle kept opening and shutting the old tome.
I really could do no less than ask a question about its contents, although I did not feel the