At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 2

Roughly, it is a steel cylinder a hundred feet
long, and jointed so that it may turn and twist through solid rock if
need be. At one end is a mighty revolving drill operated by an engine
which Perry said generated more power to the cubic inch than any other
engine did to the cubic foot. I remember that he used to claim that
that invention alone would make us fabulously wealthy--we were going to
make the whole thing public after the successful issue of our first
secret trial--but Perry never returned from that trial trip, and I only
after ten years.

I recall as it were but yesterday the night of that momentous occasion
upon which we were to test the practicality of that wondrous invention.
It was near midnight when we repaired to the lofty tower in which Perry
had constructed his "iron mole" as he was wont to call the thing. The
great nose rested upon the bare earth of the floor. We passed through
the doors into the outer jacket, secured them, and then passing on into
the cabin, which contained the controlling mechanism within the inner
tube, switched on the electric lights.

Perry looked to his generator; to the great tanks that held the
life-giving chemicals with which he was to manufacture fresh air to
replace that which we consumed in breathing; to his instruments for
recording temperatures, speed, distance, and for examining the
materials through which we were to pass.

He tested the steering device, and overlooked the mighty cogs which
transmitted its marvelous velocity to the giant drill at the nose of
his strange craft.

Our seats, into which we strapped ourselves, were so arranged upon
transverse bars that we would be upright whether the craft were
ploughing her way downward into the bowels of the earth, or running
horizontally along some great seam of coal, or rising vertically toward
the surface again.

At length all was ready. Perry bowed his head in prayer. For a moment
we were silent, and then the old man's hand grasped the starting lever.
There was a frightful roaring beneath us--the giant frame trembled and
vibrated--there was a rush of sound as the loose earth passed up
through the hollow space between the inner and outer jackets to be
deposited in our wake. We were off!

The noise was deafening. The sensation was frightful. For a full
minute neither of us could do aught but cling with the proverbial
desperation of the drowning man to the handrails of our swinging seats.
Then Perry glanced at the thermometer.


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