第7章 An Astounding Discovery(3)

"Nothing if you read from left to right,but mark,if from right to left-""Backwards!"cried my uncle,in wild amazement."Oh most cunning Saknussemm;and I to be such a blockhead!"He snatched up the document,gazed at it with haggard eye,and read it out as I had done.

It read as follows:

In Sneffels Yoculis craterem kem delibat umbra Scartaris Julii intra calendas descende,audas viator,et terrestre centrum attinges.

Kod feci.Arne Saknussemm Which dog Latin being translated,reads as follows:

Descend into the crater of Yocul of Sneffels,which the shade of Scartaris caresses,before the kalends of July,audacious traveler,and you will reach the center of the earth.I did it.


My uncle leaped three feet from the ground with joy.He looked radiant and handsome.He rushed about the room wild with delight and satisfaction.He knocked over tables and chairs.He threw his books about until at last,utterly exhausted,he fell into his armchair.

"What's o'clock?"he asked.

"About three."

"My dinner does not seem to have done me much good,"he observed.

"Let me have something to eat.We can then start at once.Get my portmanteau ready.""What for?"

"And your own,"he continued."We start at once."My horror may be conceived.I resolved however to show no fear.

Scientific reasons were the only ones likely to influence my uncle.

Now,there were many against this terrible journey.The very idea of going down to the center of the earth was simply absurd.Idetermined therefore to argue the point after dinner.

My uncle's rage was now directed against the cook for having no dinner ready.My explanation however satisfied him,and having gotten the key,she soon contrived to get sufficient to satisfy our voracious appetites.

During the repast my uncle was rather gay than otherwise.He made some of those peculiar jokes which belong exclusively to the learned.As soon,however,as dessert was over,he called me to his study.We each took a chair on opposite sides of the table.

"Henry,"he said,in a soft and winning voice;"I have always believed you ingenious,and you have rendered me a service never to be forgotten.Without you,this great,this wondrous discovery would never have been made.It is my duty,therefore,to insist on your sharing the glory.""He is in a good humor,"thought I;"I'll soon let him know my opinion of glory.""In the first place,"he continued,"you must keep the whole affair a profound secret.There is no more envious race of men than scientific discoverers.Many would start on the same journey.At all events,we will be the first in the field.""I doubt your having many competitors,"was my reply.

"A man of real scientific acquirements would be delighted at the chance.We should find a perfect stream of pilgrims on the traces of Arne Saknussemm,if this document were once made public.""But,my dear sir,is not this paper very likely to be a hoax?"Iurged.

"The book in which we find it is sufficient proof of its authenticity,"he replied.

"I thoroughly allow that the celebrated Professor wrote the lines,but only,I believe,as a kind of mystification,"was my answer.

Scarcely were the words out of my mouth,when I was sorry I had uttered them.My uncle looked at me with a dark and gloomy scowl,and I began to be alarmed for the results of our conversation.His mood soon changed,however,and a smile took the place of a frown.

"We shall see,"he remarked,with decisive emphasis.

"But see,what is all this about Yocul,and Sneffels,and this Scartaris?I have never heard anything about them.""The very point to which I am coming.I lately received from my friend Augustus Peterman,of Leipzig,a map.Take down the third atlas from the second shelf,series Z,plate 4."I rose,went to the shelf,and presently returned with the volume indicated.

"This,"said my uncle,"is one of the best maps of Iceland.Ibelieve it will settle all your doubts,difficulties and objections."With a grim hope to the contrary,I stooped over the map.

Jules Verne