Journey to the Centre of the Earth
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
"I haff here," said Doktor Professor von Schtinkerfussen, pulling
open the shedís door, "der machine I told you about. Like this, the vorlt has
Rupert and Eugenia stared at the strange object that took up the centre
of the shedís dirt floor. It was a sphere with thick round windows studding the
walls, and an armoured hatch set in the curved side. Though rather higher than
a large man, it still seemed small for the awe-inspiring mission for which it
"Is that...it?" Eugenia whispered.
"That is so, mein friends," the good Doktor Professor said, the light
overhead gleaming on his bald pate. "Vorking days and nights for these last two
years, I haff, with mein own two hands, this made. I wanted to keep it a
secret, understand you, from reporters und other troublesome people."
"I must congratulate you, Doktor Professor." Walking across the floor
to the wonderful machine, Rupert bent slightly to peer through the nearest of
the round windows. It was set in the metal somewhat below the equator of the
sphere, so that it pointed downwards. "It does look cosy inside."
"Ja, I haff it padded inside, so it will from too much cold und heat
insulated be." With simple pride, the little scientist patted the side of the
machine. The dull silvery metal shivered slightly at his touch. "Also," he
added, "if it happens something hard to strike, the padding the occupants from
injury will save, nicht wahr?"
"You think of everything, Professor," Eugenia exclaimed, clasping her
hands under her chin. Her ethereal and beautiful features were pink with
excitement. "Youíre wonderful!"
"Really, Ginny," Rupert said, "the Professor isnít looking for you to
gush all over him." Twisting the end of his moustache between his fingers, he
began walking slowly round the machine, peering up at it. "Are you sure it will
"It has in der tests," the Professor responded, cleaning his thick
spectacles on his coat. "Der models also vorked. Aber one must der final step
self take, is das not so?"
"I suppose," Rupert said, not sounding altogether convinced. "And you
want to go now?"
"Aber I will not leave alone." The Doktor Professorís eyes twinkled.
"You will with me come, mein young friends, will you not?"
"Us?" Rupert exclaimed. "But, Professor, I mean to say, itís not that
Iím scared, but donít you think that the honour of the first trip should be
yours alone? Youíre the inventor of this wonderful contraption, and so it will
be invidious of us to detract from your glory by sharing in the first manned
trip. Itís only right that you should have all the honour."
"Oh, Rupert," Eugenia snapped, "donít be such a ninny." Smiling, she
turned to the Professor. "Of course weíd love to come," she said. "Do we start
"Of course," Doktor Professor von Schtinkerfussen said, and, lifting a
panel in the side of the spherical hull, pressed down on a lever. With a hiss
and a soft thud, the armoured hatch swung open. "After you, mein friends.
Perhaps you first, dear young lady?" With a hand below her elbow, he helped
Eugenia inside. Rupert, who had gone a slight greenish colour, followed without
a word. The Professor clambered in last, and pressed a button. With another
hiss and thud, the hatch swung shut.
Inside, the machine was surprisingly roomy, so that even with the three
of them it did not feel particularly crowded. The padded walls were studded
with boxes and dials, with strange levers and knobs set here and there, and
amber lights set in the roof overhead glowed down warmly on them.
"Please sit you yourself down, und yourself comfortable make." The
Professor swung down three seats from recesses in the wall, beaming. "As you
see, mein friends, I arrangements for der three of us already haff made. Food
und drink for us there is, also."
"This is so exciting," Eugenia said. "What an adventure!"
Rupert, still silent, wiped his face with a handkerchief. His greenish
colour had deepened, and Eugenia fought down the urge to poke him with her
parasol. She retied the string of her bonnet, loosening it slightly, and wished
she could have removed her tall buttoned-down boots. The inside of the machine
was really rather warm.
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