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Home -> Jules Verne -> A Journey to the Center of the Earth -> Chapter 25

A Journey to the Center of the Earth - Chapter 25

1. Preface

2. Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 9

11. Chapter 10

12. Chapter 11

13. Chapter 12

14. Chapter 13

15. Chapter 14

16. Chapter 15

17. Chapter 16

18. Chapter 17

19. Chapter 18

20. Chapter 19

21. Chapter 20

22. Chapter 21

23. Chapter 22

24. Chapter 23

25. Chapter 24

26. Chapter 25

27. Chapter 26

28. Chapter 27

29. Chapter 28

30. Chapter 29

31. Chapter 30

32. Chapter 31

33. Chapter 32

34. Chapter 33

35. Chapter 34

36. Chapter 35

37. Chapter 36

38. Chapter 37

39. Chapter 38

40. Chapter 39

41. Chapter 40

42. Chapter 41

43. Chapter 42

44. Chapter 43

45. Chapter 44

46. Chapter 45



I therefore awoke next day relieved from the preoccupation of an
immediate start. Although we were in the very deepest of known
depths, there was something not unpleasant about it. And, besides, we
were beginning to get accustomed to this troglodyte [l] life. I no
longer thought of sun, moon, and stars, trees, houses, and towns, nor
of any of those terrestrial superfluities which are necessaries of
men who live upon the earth's surface. Being fossils, we looked upon
all those things as mere jokes.

The grotto was an immense apartment. Along its granite floor ran our
faithful stream. At this distance from its spring the water was
scarcely tepid, and we drank of it with pleasure.

After breakfast the Professor gave a few hours to the arrangement of
his daily notes.

"First," said he, "I will make a calculation to ascertain our exact
position. I hope, after our return, to draw a map of our journey,
which will be in reality a vertical section of the globe, containing
the track of our expedition."

"That will be curious, uncle; but are your observations sufficiently
accurate to enable you to do this correctly?"

"Yes; I have everywhere observed the angles and the inclines. I am
sure there is no error. Let us see where we are now. Take your
compass, and note the direction."

I looked, and replied carefully:

[1] tpwgln, a hole; dnw, to creep into. The name of an Ethiopian
tribe who lived in caves and holes. ??????, a hole, and ???, to creep

"South-east by east."

"Well," answered the Professor, after a rapid calculation, "I infer
that we have gone eighty-five leagues since we started.!

"Therefore we are under mid-Atlantic?"

"To be sure we are."

"And perhaps at this very moment there is a storm above, and ships
over our heads are being rudely tossed by the tempest."

"Quite probable."

"And whales are lashing the roof of our prison with their tails?"

"It may be, Axel, but they won't shake us here. But let us go back to
our calculation. Here we are eighty-five leagues south-east of
Snaefell, and I reckon that we are at a depth of sixteen leagues."

"Sixteen leagues?" I cried.

"No doubt."

"Why, this is the very limit assigned by science to the thickness of
the crust of the earth."

"I don't deny it."

"And here, according to the law of increasing temperature, there
ought to be a heat of 2,732 deg. Fahr.!"

"So there should, my lad."

"And all this solid granite ought to be running in fusion."

"You see that it is not so, and that, as so often happens, facts come
to overthrow theories."

"I am obliged to agree; but, after all, it is surprising."

"What does the thermometer say?"

"Twenty-seven, six tenths (82 deg. Fahr.)."

"Therefore the savants are wrong by 2,705 deg., and the proportional
increase is a mistake. Therefore Humphry Davy was right, and I am not
wrong in following him. What do you say now?"


In truth, I had a good deal to say. I gave way in no respect to
Davy's theory. I still held to the central heat, although I did not
feel its effects. I preferred to admit in truth, that this chimney of
an extinct volcano, lined with lavas, which are non-conductors of
heat, did not suffer the heat to pass through its walls.

But without stopping to look up new arguments I simply took up our
situation such as it was.

"Well, admitting all your calculations to be quite correct, you must
allow me to draw one rigid result therefrom."

"What is it. Speak freely.!

"At the latitude of Iceland, where we now are, the radius of the
earth, the distance from the centre to the surface is about 1,583
leagues; let us say in round numbers 1,600 leagues, or 4,800 miles.
Out of 1,600 leagues we have gone twelve!"

"So you say."

"And these twelve at a cost of 85 leagues diagonally?"

"Exactly so."

"In twenty days?"


"Now, sixteen leagues are the hundredth part of the earth's radius.
At this rate we shall be two thousand days, or nearly five years and
a half, in getting to the centre."

No answer was vouchsafed to this rational conclusion. "Without
reckoning, too, that if a vertical depth of sixteen leagues can be
attained only by a diagonal descent of eighty-four, it follows that
we must go eight thousand miles in a south-easterly direction; so
that we shall emerge from some point in the earth's circumference
instead of getting to the centre!"

"Confusion to all your figures, and all your hypotheses besides,"
shouted my uncle in a sudden rage. "What is the basis of them all?
How do you know that this passage does not run straight to our
destination? Besides, there is a precedent. What one man has done,
another may do."

"I hope so; but, still, I may be permitted--"

"You shall have my leave to hold your tongue, Axel, but not to talk
in that irrational way."

I could see the awful Professor bursting through my uncle's skin, and
I took timely warning.

"Now look at your aneroid. What does that say?"

"It says we are under considerable pressure."

"Very good; so you see that by going gradually down, and getting
accustomed to the density of the atmosphere, we don't suffer at all."

"Nothing, except a little pain in the ears."

"That's nothing, and you may get rid of even that by quick breathing
whenever you feel the pain."

"Exactly so," I said, determined not to say a word that might cross
my uncle's prejudices. "There is even positive pleasure in living in
this dense atmosphere. Have you observed how intense sound is down

"No doubt it is. A deaf man would soon learn to hear perfectly."

"But won't this density augment?"

"Yes; according to a rather obscure law. It is well known that the
weight of bodies diminishes as fast as we descend. You know that it
is at the surface of the globe that weight is most sensibly felt, and
that at the centre there is no weight at all."

"I am aware of that; but, tell me, will not air at last acquire the
density of water?"

"Of course, under a pressure of seven hundred and ten atmospheres."

"And how, lower down still?"

"Lower down the density will still increase."

"But how shall we go down then."

"Why, we must fill our pockets with stones."

"Well, indeed, my worthy uncle, you are never at a loss for an

I dared venture no farther into the region of probabilities, for I
might presently have stumbled upon an impossibility, which would have
brought the Professor on the scene when he was not wanted.

Still, it was evident that the air, under a pressure which might
reach that of thousands of atmospheres, would at last reach the solid
state, and then, even if our bodies could resist the strain, we
should be stopped, and no reasonings would be able to get us on any

But I did not advance this argument. My uncle would have met it with
his inevitable Saknussemm, a precedent which possessed no weight with
me; for even if the journey of the learned Icelander were really
attested, there was one very simple answer, that in the sixteenth
century there was neither barometer or aneroid and therefore
Saknussemm could not tell how far he had gone.

But I kept this objection to myself, and waited the course of events.

The rest of the day was passed in calculations and in conversations.
I remained a steadfast adherent of the opinions of Professor
Liedenbrock, and I envied the stolid indifference of Hans, who,
without going into causes and effects, went on with his eyes shut
wherever his destiny guided him.

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