I answered; "but what difference will it
make when our air supply is exhausted whether the temperature is 153
degrees or 153,000? We'll be just as dead, and no one will know the
difference, anyhow." But I must admit that for some unaccountable
reason the stationary temperature did renew my waning hope. What I
hoped for I could not have explained, nor did I try. The very fact, as
Perry took pains to explain, of the blasting of several very exact and
learned scientific hypotheses made it apparent that we could not know
what lay before us within the bowels of the earth, and so we might
continue to hope for the best, at least until we were dead--when hope
would no longer be essential to our happiness. It was very good, and
logical reasoning, and so I embraced it.
At one hundred miles the temperature had DROPPED TO 152 1/2 DEGREES!
When I announced it Perry reached over and hugged me.
From then on until noon of the second day, it continued to drop until
it became as uncomfortably cold as it had been unbearably hot before.
At the depth of two hundred and forty miles our nostrils were assailed
by almost overpowering ammonia fumes, and the temperature had dropped
to TEN BELOW ZERO! We suffered nearly two hours of this intense and
bitter cold, until at about two hundred and forty-five miles from the
surface of the earth we entered a stratum of solid ice, when the
mercury quickly rose to 32 degrees. During the next three hours we
passed through ten miles of ice, eventually emerging into another
series of ammonia-impregnated strata, where the mercury again fell to
ten degrees below zero.
Slowly it rose once more until we were convinced that at last we were
nearing the molten interior of the earth. At four hundred miles the
temperature had reached 153 degrees. Feverishly I watched the
thermometer. Slowly it rose. Perry had ceased singing and was at last
Our hopes had received such a deathblow that the gradually increasing
heat seemed to our distorted imaginations much greater than it really
was. For another hour I saw that pitiless column of mercury rise and
rise until at four hundred and ten miles it stood at 153 degrees. Now
it was that we began to hang upon those readings in almost breathless
One hundred and fifty-three degrees had been the maximum temperature
above the ice stratum. Would it stop at this point again, or would it
continue its merciless climb?
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