ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Such is the conclusion of a history which I cannot expect everybody
to believe, for some people will believe nothing against the
testimony of their own experience. However, I am indifferent to their
incredulity, and they may believe as much or as little as they please.
The Stromboliotes received us kindly as shipwrecked mariners. They
gave us food and clothing. After waiting forty-eight hours, on the 31
st of August, a small craft took us to Messina, where a few days'
rest completely removed the effect of our fatigues.
On Friday, September the 4th, we embarked on the steamer Volturno,
employed by the French Messageries Imperiales, and in three days more
we were at Marseilles, having no care on our minds except that
abominable deceitful compass, which we had mislaid somewhere and
could not now examine; but its inexplicable behaviour exercised my
mind fearfully. On the 9th of September, in the evening, we arrived
I cannot describe to you the astonishment of Martha or the joy of
"Now you are a hero, Axel," said to me my blushing FIANCEE, my
betrothed, "you will not leave me again!"
I looked tenderly upon her, and she smiled through her tears.
How can I describe the extraordinary sensation produced by the return
of Professor Liedenbrock? Thanks to Martha's ineradicable tattling,
the news that the Professor had gone to discover a way to the centre
of the earth had spread over the whole civilised world. People
refused to believe it, and when they saw him they would not believe
him any the more. Still, the appearance of Hans, and sundry pieces of
intelligence derived from Iceland, tended to shake the confidence of
Then my uncle became a great man, and I was now the nephew of a great
man--which is not a privilege to be despised.
Hamburg gave a grand fete in our honour. A public audience was given
to the Professor at the Johannaeum, at which he told all about our
expedition, with only one omission, the unexplained and inexplicable
behaviour of our compass. On the same day, with much state, he
deposited in the archives of the city the now famous document of
Saknussemm, and expressed his regret that circumstances over which he
had no control had prevented him from following to the very centre of
the earth the track of the learned Icelander. He was modest
notwithstanding his glory, and he was all the more famous for his
So much honour could not but excite envy. There were those who envied
him his fame; and as his theories, resting upon known facts, were in
opposition to the systems of science upon the question of the central
fire, he sustained with his pen and by his voice remarkable
discussions with the learned of every country.
For my part I cannot agree with his theory of gradual cooling: in
spite of what I have seen and felt, I believe, and always shall
believe, in the central heat. But I admit that certain circumstances
not yet sufficiently understood may tend to modify in places the
action of natural phenomena.
While these questions were being debated with great animation, my
uncle met with a real sorrow. Our faithful Hans, in spite of our
entreaties, had left Hamburg; the man to whom we owed all our success
and our lives too would not suffer us to reward him as we could have
wished. He was seized with the mal de pays, a complaint for which we
have not even a name in English.
"FARVAL," said he one day; and with that simple word he left us and
sailed for Rejkiavik, which he reached in safety.
We were strongly attached to our brave eider-down hunter; though far
away in the remotest north, he will never be forgotten by those whose
lives he protected, and certainly I shall not fail to endeavour to
see him once more before I die.
To conclude, I have to add that this 'Journey into the Interior of
the Earth' created a wonderful sensation in the world. It was
translated into all civilised languages. The leading newspapers
extracted the most interesting passages, which were commented upon,
picked to pieces, discussed, attacked, and defended with equal
enthusiasm and determination, both by believers and sceptics. Rare
privilege! my uncle enjoyed during his lifetime the glory he had
deservedly won; and he may even boast the distinguished honour of an
offer from Mr. Barnum, to exhibit him on most advantageous terms in
all the principal cities in the United States!
But there was one 'dead fly' amidst all this glory and honour; one
fact, one incident, of the journey remained a mystery. Now to a man
eminent for his learning, an unexplained phenomenon is an unbearable
hardship. Well! it was yet reserved for my uncle to be completely
One day, while arranging a collection of minerals in his cabinet, I
noticed in a corner this unhappy compass, which we had long lost
sight of; I opened it, and began to watch it.
It had been in that corner for six months, little mindful of the
trouble it was giving.
Suddenly, to my intense astonishment, I noticed a strange fact, and I
uttered a cry of surprise.
"What is the matter?" my uncle asked.
"See, its poles are reversed!"
"Yes, they point the wrong way."
My uncle looked, he compared, and the house shook with his triumphant
leap of exultation.
A light broke in upon his spirit and mine.
"See there," he cried, as soon as he was able to speak. "After our
arrival at Cape Saknussemm the north pole of the needle of this
confounded compass began to point south instead of north."
"Here, then, is the explanation of our mistake. But what phenomenon
could have caused this reversal of the poles?"
"The reason is evident, uncle."
"Tell me, then, Axel."
"During the electric storm on the Liedenbrock sea, that ball of fire,
which magnetised all the iron on board, reversed the poles of our
"Aha! aha!" shouted the Professor with a loud laugh. "So it was just
an electric joke!"
From that day forth the Professor was the most glorious of savants,
and I was the happiest of men; for my pretty Virlandaise, resigning
her place as ward, took her position in the old house on the
Konigstrasse in the double capacity of niece to my uncle and wife to
a certain happy youth. What is the need of adding that the
illustrious Otto Liedenbrock, corresponding member of all the
scientific, geographical, and mineralogical societies of all the
civilised world, was now her uncle and mine?