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Home -> Jules Verne -> A Journey to the Center of the Earth -> Chapter 27

A Journey to the Center of the Earth - Chapter 27

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



To describe my despair would be impossible. No words could tell it. I
was buried alive, with the prospect before me of dying of hunger and

Mechanically I swept the ground with my hands. How dry and hard the
rock seemed to me!

But how had I left the course of the stream? For it was a terrible
fact that it no longer ran at my side. Then I understood the reason
of that fearful, silence, when for the last time I listened to hear
if any sound from my companions could reach my ears. At the moment
when I left the right road I had not noticed the absence of the
stream. It is evident that at that moment a deviation had presented
itself before me, whilst the Hansbach, following the caprice of
another incline, had gone with my companions away into unknown depths.

How was I to return? There was not a trace of their footsteps or of
my own, for the foot left no mark upon the granite floor. I racked my
brain for a solution of this impracticable problem. One word
described my position. Lost!

Lost at an immeasurable depth! Thirty leagues of rock seemed to weigh
upon my shoulders with a dreadful pressure. I felt crushed.

I tried to carry back my ideas to things on the surface of the earth.
I could scarcely succeed. Hamburg, the house in the Konigstrasse, my
poor Grauben, all that busy world underneath which I was wandering
about, was passing in rapid confusion before my terrified memory. I
could revive with vivid reality all the incidents of our voyage,
Iceland, M. Fridrikssen, Snaefell. I said to myself that if, in such a
position as I was now in, I was fool enough to cling to one glimpse
of hope, it would be madness, and that the best thing I could do was
to despair.

What human power could restore me to the light of the sun by rending
asunder the huge arches of rock which united over my head,
buttressing each other with impregnable strength? Who could place my
feet on the right path, and bring me back to my company?

"Oh, my uncle!" burst from my lips in the tone of despair.

It was my only word of reproach, for I knew how much he must be
suffering in seeking me, wherever he might be.

When I saw myself thus far removed from all earthly help I had
recourse to heavenly succour. The remembrance of my childhood, the
recollection of my mother, whom I had only known in my tender early
years, came back to me, and I knelt in prayer imploring for the
Divine help of which I was so little worthy.

This return of trust in God's providence allayed the turbulence of my
fears, and I was enabled to concentrate upon my situation all the
force of my intelligence.

I had three days' provisions with me and my flask was full. But I
could not remain alone for long. Should I go up or down?

Up, of course; up continually.

I must thus arrive at the point where I had left the stream, that
fatal turn in the road. With the stream at my feet, I might hope to
regain the summit of Snaefell.

Why had I not thought of that sooner? Here was evidently a chance of
safety. The most pressing duty was to find out again the course of
the Hansbach. I rose, and leaning upon my iron-pointed stick I
ascended the gallery. The slope was rather steep. I walked on without
hope but without indecision, like a man who has made up his mind.

For half an hour I met with no obstacle. I tried to recognise my way
by the form of the tunnel, by the projections of certain rocks, by
the disposition of the fractures. But no particular sign appeared,
and I soon saw that this gallery could not bring me back to the
turning point. It came to an abrupt end. I struck against an
impenetrable wall, and fell down upon the rock.

Unspeakable despair then seized upon me. I lay overwhelmed, aghast!
My last hope was shattered against this granite wall.

Lost in this labyrinth, whose windings crossed each other in all
directions, it was no use to think of flight any longer. Here I must
die the most dreadful of deaths. And, strange to say, the thought
came across me that when some day my petrified remains should be
found thirty leagues below the surface in the bowels of the earth,
the discovery might lead to grave scientific discussions.

I tried to speak aloud, but hoarse sounds alone passed my dry lips. I
panted for breath.

In the midst of my agony a new terror laid hold of me. In falling my
lamp had got wrong. I could not set it right, and its light was
paling and would soon disappear altogether.

I gazed painfully upon the luminous current growing weaker and weaker
in the wire coil. A dim procession of moving shadows seemed slowly
unfolding down the darkening walls. I scarcely dared to shut my eyes
for one moment, for fear of losing the least glimmer of this precious
light. Every instant it seemed about to vanish and the dense
blackness to come rolling in palpably upon me.

One last trembling glimmer shot feebly up. I watched it in trembling
and anxiety; I drank it in as if I could preserve it, concentrating
upon it the full power of my eyes, as upon the very last sensation of
light which they were ever to experience, and the next moment I lay
in the heavy gloom of deep, thick, unfathomable darkness.

A terrible cry of anguish burst from me. Upon earth, in the midst of
the darkest night, light never abdicates its functions altogether. It
is still subtle and diffusive, but whatever little there may be, the
eye still catches that little. Here there was not an atom; the total
darkness made me totally blind.

Then I began to lose my head. I arose with my arms stretched out
before me, attempting painfully to feel my way. I began to run
wildly, hurrying through the inextricable maze, still descending,
still running through the substance of the earth's thick crust, a
struggling denizen of geological 'faults,' crying, shouting, yelling,
soon bruised by contact with the jagged rock, falling and rising
again bleeding, trying to drink the blood which covered my face, and
even waiting for some rock to shatter my skull against.

I shall never know whither my mad career took me. After the lapse of
some hours, no doubt exhausted, I fell like a lifeless lump at the
foot of the wall, and lost all consciousness.

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