A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
The First Signs Of Distress
In fact, we had to ration ourselves. Our provision of water could not last more than three
days. I found that out for certain when supper-time came. And, to our sorrow, we had
little reason to expect to find a spring in these transition beds.
The whole of the next day the gallery opened before us its endless arcades. We moved on
almost without a word. Hans' silence seemed to be infecting us.
The road was now not ascending, at least not perceptibly. Sometimes, even, it seemed to
have a slight fall. But this tendency, which was very trifling, could not do anything to
reassure the Professor; for there was no change in the beds, and the transitional
characteristics became more and more decided.
The electric light was reflected in sparkling splendour from the schist, limestone, and old
red sandstone of the walls. It might have been thought that we were passing through a
section of Wales, of which an ancient people gave its name to this system. Specimens of
magnificent marbles clothed the walls, some of a greyish agate fantastically veined with
white, others of rich crimson or yellow dashed with splotches of red; then came dark
cherry-coloured marbles relieved by the lighter tints of limestone.
The greater part of these bore impressions of primitive organisms. Creation had evidently
advanced since the day before. Instead of rudimentary trilobites, I noticed remains of a
more perfect order of beings, amongst others ganoid fishes and some of those sauroids in
which palaeontologists have discovered the earliest reptile forms. The Devonian seas
were peopled by animals of these species, and deposited them by thousands in the rocks
of the newer formation.
It was evident that we were ascending that scale of animal life in which man fills the
highest place. But Professor Liedenbrock seemed not to notice it.
He was awaiting one of two events, either the appearance of a vertical well opening
before his feet, down which our descent might be resumed, or that of some obstacle
which should effectually turn us back on our own footsteps. But evening came and
neither wish was gratified.
On Friday, after a night during which I felt pangs of thirst, our little troop again plunged
into the winding passages of the gallery.
After ten hours' walking I observed a singular deadening of the reflection of our lamps
from the side walls. The marble, the schist, the limestone, and the sandstone were giving
way to a dark and lustreless lining. At one moment, the tunnel becoming very narrow, I
leaned against the wall.