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Looking back to all that has occurred to me since that eventful day, I am scarcely able to believe in the reality of my adventures. They were truly so wonderful that even now I am bewildered when I think of them. My uncle was a German, having married my mother’s sister, an Englishwoman. Being very much attached to his fatherless nephew, he invited me to study under him in his home in the fatherland.
Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book by Jules Verne
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This home was in a large town, and my uncle a professor of philosophy, chemistry, geology, mineralogy, and many other ologies. One day, after passing some hours in the laboratory—my uncle being absent at the time —I suddenly felt the necessity of renovating the tissues—i.e., I was hungry, and was about to rouse up our old French cook.
When my uncle, Professor Von Hardwigg, suddenly opened the street door, and came rushing upstairs. Now Professor Hardwigg, my worthy uncle, is by no means a bad sort of man; he is, however, choleric and original. To bear with him means to obey; and scarcely had his heavy feet resounded within our joint domicile than he shouted for me to attend upon him.
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“Harry—Harry—Harry—” I hastened to obey, but before I could reach his room, jumping three steps at a time, he was stamping his right foot upon the landing. “Harry!” he cried, in a frantic tone, “are you coming up?” Now to tell the truth, at that moment I was far more interested in the question as to what was to constitute our dinner than in any problem of science.
To me soup was more interesting than soda, an omelette more tempting than arithmetic, and an artichoke of ten times more value than any amount of asbestos. But my uncle was not a man to be kept waiting; so adjourning therefore all minor questions, I presented myself before him.
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He was a very learned man. Now most persons in this category supply themselves with information, as peddlers do with goods, for the benefit of others, and lay up stores in order to diffuse them abroad for the benefit of society in general. Not so my excellent uncle, Professor Hardwigg.
He studied, he consumed the midnight oil, he pored over heavy tomes, and digested huge quartos and folios in order to keep the knowledge acquired to himself. There was a reason, and it may be regarded as a good one, why my uncle objected to display his learning more than was absolutely necessary: he stammered.
And when intent upon explaining the phenomena of the heavens, was apt to find himself at fault, and allude in such a vague way to sun, moon, and stars that few were able to comprehend his meaning. To tell the honest truth, when the right word would not come, it was generally replaced by a very powerful adjective. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book
In connection with the sciences there are many almost unpronounceable names—names very much resembling those of Welsh villages; and my uncle being very fond of using them, his habit of stammering was not thereby improved. In fact, there were periods in his discourse when he would finally give up and swallow his discomfiture—in a glass of water.
As I said, my uncle, Professor Hardwigg, was a very learned man; and I now add a most kind relative. I was bound to him by the double ties of affection and interest. I took deep interest in all his doings, and hoped some day to be almost as learned myself. It was a rare thing for me to be absent from his lectures.
Like him, I preferred mineralogy to all the other sciences. My anxiety was to gain real knowledge of the earth. Geology and mineralogy were to us the sole objects of life, and in connection with these studies many a fair specimen of stone, chalk, or metal did we break with our hammers. Steel rods, loadstones, glass pipes, and bottles of various acids were oftener before us than our meals. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book
My uncle Hardwigg was once known to classify six hundred different geological specimens by their weight, hardness, fusibility, sound, taste, and smell. He corresponded with all the great, learned, and scientific men of the age. I was, therefore, in constant communication with, at all events the letters of, Sir Humphry Davy, Captain Franklin, and other great men.
It ought, one would have thought, to have been night, even in the sixty-fifth parallel of latitude; but still the nocturnal illumination did not surprise me. For in Iceland, during the months of June and July, the sun never sets. The temperature, however, was very much lower than I expected.
I was cold, but even that did not affect me so much as ravenous hunger. Welcome indeed, therefore, was the hut which hospitably opened its doors to us. It was merely the house of a peasant, but in the matter of hospitality, it was worthy of being the palace of a king. As we alighted at the door the master of the house came forward, held out his hand, and without any further ceremony, signaled to us to follow him. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book
We followed him, for to accompany him was impossible. A long, narrow, gloomy passage led into the interior of this habitation, made from beams roughly squared by the ax. This passage gave ingress to every room. The chambers were four in number—the kitchen, the workshop, where the weaving was carried on.
The general sleeping chamber of the family, and the best room, to which strangers were especially invited. My uncle, whose lofty stature had not been taken into consideration when the house was built, contrived to knock his head against the beams of the roof. We were introduced into our chamber, a kind of large room with a hard earthen floor, and lighted by a window.
The panes of which were made of a sort of parchment from the intestines of sheep—very far from transparent. The bedding was composed of dry hay thrown into two long red wooden boxes, ornamented with sentences painted in Icelandic. I really had no idea that we should be made so comfortable. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book
There was one objection to the house, and that was, the very powerful odor of dried fish, of macerated meat, and of sour milk, which three fragrances combined did not at all suit my olfactory nerves. As soon as we had freed ourselves from our heavy traveling costume, the voice of our host was heard calling to us to come into the kitchen, the only room in which the Icelanders ever make any fire.
No matter how cold it may be. My uncle, nothing loath, hastened to obey this hospitable and friendly invitation. I followed. The kitchen chimney was made on an antique model. A large stone standing in the middle of the room was the fireplace; above, in the roof, was a hole for the smoke to pass through.
This apartment was kitchen, parlor and dining room all in one. On our entrance, our worthy host, as if he had not seen us before, advanced ceremoniously, uttered a word which means “be happy,” and then kissed both of us on the cheek. His wife followed, pronounced the same word, with the same ceremonial, then the husband and wife, placing their right hands upon their hearts, bowed profoundly. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book
This excellent Icelandic woman was the mother of nineteen children, who, little and big, rolled, crawled, and walked about in the midst of volumes of smoke arising from the angular fireplace in the middle of the room. Every now and then I could see a fresh white head, and a slightly melancholy expression of countenance, peering at me through the vapor.
Both my uncle and myself, however, were very friendly with the whole party, and before we were aware of it, there were three or four of these little ones on our shoulders, as many on our boxes, and the rest hanging about our legs. Those who could speak kept crying out saellvertu in every possible and impossible key.
Those who did not speak only made all the more noise. This concert was interrupted by the announcement of supper. At this moment our worthy guide, the eider-duck hunter, came in after seeing to the feeding and stabling of the horses— which consisted in letting them loose to browse on the stunted green of the Icelandic prairies. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book Download
There was little for them to eat, but moss and some very dry and innutritious grass; next day they were ready before the door, some time before we were. “Welcome,” said Hans. Then tranquilly, with the air of an automaton, without any more expression in one kiss than another, he embraced the host and hostess and their nineteen children.
This ceremony concluded to the satisfaction of all parties, we all sat down to table, that is twenty-four of us, somewhat crowded. Those who were best off had only two juveniles on their knees. As soon, however, as the inevitable soup was placed on the table, the natural taciturnity, common even to Icelandic babies, prevailed over all else.
Our host filled our plates with a portion of lichen soup of Iceland moss, of by no means disagreeable flavor, an enormous lump of fish floating in sour butter. After that there came some skyr, a kind of curds and whey, served with biscuits and juniper-berry juice. To drink, we had blanda, skimmed milk with water. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book Download
I was hungry, so hungry, that by way of dessert I finished up with a basin of thick oaten porridge. As soon as the meal was over, the children disappeared, whilst the grown people sat around the fireplace, on which was placed turf, heather, cow dung and dried fish-bones. As soon as everybody was sufficiently warm, a general dispersion took place, all retiring to their respective couches.
Our hostess offered to pull off our stockings and trousers, according to the custom of the country, but as we graciously declined to be so honored, she left us to our bed of dry fodder. This being satisfactorily proved (Q.E.D.), what insensate folly to pretend to penetrate into the interior of the mighty earth! This mental lecture delivered to myself while proceeding on a journey, did me good.
I was quite reassured as to the fate of our enterprise; and therefore went, like a brave soldier mounting a bristling battery, to the assault of old Sneffels. As we advanced, the road became every moment more difficult. The soil was broken and dangerous. The rocks broke and gave way under our feet, and we had to be scrupulously careful in order to avoid dangerous and constant falls. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book Download
Hans advanced as calmly as if he had been walking over Salisbury Plain; sometimes he would disappear behind huge blocks of stone, and we momentarily lost sight of him. There was a little period of anxiety and then there was a shrill whistle, just to tell us where to look for him. Occasionally he would take it into his head to stop to pick up lumps of rock, and silently pile them up into small heaps.
In order that we might not lose our way on our return. He had no idea of the journey we were about to undertake. At all events, the precaution was a good one; though how utterly useless and unnecessary —but I must not anticipate. Three hours of terrible fatigue, walking incessantly, had only brought us to the foot of the great mountain.
This will give some notion of what we had still to undergo. Suddenly, however, Hans cried a halt—that is, he made signs to that effect—and a summary kind of breakfast was laid out on the lava before us. My uncle, who now was simply Professor Hardwigg, was so eager to advance, that he bolted his food like a greedy clown. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book Free
This halt for refreshment was also a halt for repose. The Professor was therefore compelled to wait the good pleasure of his imperturbable guide, who did not give the signal for departure for a good hour. The three Icelanders, who were as taciturn as their comrade, did not say a word; but went on eating and drinking very quietly and soberly.
From this, our first real stage, we began to ascend the slopes of the Sneffels volcano. Its magnificent snowy nightcap, as we began to call it, by an optical delusion very common in mountains, appeared to me to be close at hand; and yet how many long weary hours must elapse before we reached its summit. What unheard-of fatigue must we endure!
The stones on the mountain side, held together by no cement of soil, bound together by no roots or creeping herbs, gave way continually under our feet, and went rushing below into the plains, like a series of small avalanches. In certain places the sides of this stupendous mountain were at an angle so steep that it was impossible to climb upwards. Journey to the Center of the Earth PDF Book Free
And we were compelled to get round these obstacles as best we might. Those who understand Alpine climbing will comprehend our difficulties. Often we were obliged to help each other along by means of our climbing poles.