Through the Earth/Chapter XXXV
THE YESTERDAY THAT DAWNED AGAIN
"AKE haste," said the workman, shaking our hero somewhat roughly, to bring him back to the consciousness of the present danger. "Follow me, or the liquid fire will be upon us before we can reach a place of safety."
"But—" said William.
"No 'buts'; you will have plenty of time to talk after we are safely settled in the submarine boat."
The man was right; there was not a moment to lose; for before the boat had gone a couple of miles the expected catastrophe happened. The molten matter in the tube, launched forth by the enormous pressures in mid-earth, flew up to a great height, while the hissing of the mass of fire as it fell into the water warned our friends that their boat would do well to seek a greater depth.
"'MAKE HASTE,' SAID THE WORKMAN. 'FOLLOW ME.'"
"Excuse me," said he, "but I really don't know whether I am awake or dreaming. The events that have passed are so unnatural that I feel somewhat like Rip Van Winkle, and should not be surprised to learn that what have seemed to me to be minutes have really been years. Can you tell me, first, what time it is?"
"It is nearly midnight," replied the man.
"Midnight!" repeated our hero, astounded. "Why, it seems to me barely an hour since I started this morning." Then a new idea struck him. "What day is it, may I ask?"
"January the 5th," replied the man.
"January the 5th!" exclaimed William, aghast. "Why, then I have been gone a whole year! I started on January 6!"
But his fears were now thoroughly aroused.
"In what year are we?" he demanded eagerly.
"Why, 1993, of course," replied the man, gazing at him in astonishment. "It seems a strange question to ask."
"January 5, 1993!" repeated William. "Come, you are joking with me. At midnight on January 5, 1993, I was sleeping on one of the benches in an Australian park. I sha'n't forget the date in a hurry; it's marked in my memory with the blackest of black inks."
"You forget," said the man, "that, as you have come from Australia, you have gained twelve hours. You have traveled faster than the sun, and have consequently arrived here eleven hours before you started from the other side. You are now having yesterday over again."
"But how about that snow?" said William. "When I left Australia it was during a sweltering hot summer's day, and when I arrived here the ground was covered with snow. How do you explain that?"
"Simply enough. You must remember that, Australia being below the equator, there is a difference of six months between the seasons here and there. You have your summer while we have our winter, and vice versa. January 5, which comes during your hottest summer weather, is with us the period of snow and blizzards, and you might well have arrived in a regular northeaster."
It was exactly true. William had left the Australian side at eleven o'clock on the morning of January 6, and had arrived at the New York end of the tube at about twelve o'clock of the night before! He had left Australia on a sultry summer's day, and had reached the United States in the depths of winter! Of all the wonderful events of his most extraordinary trip, this was perhaps the most marvelous, and he could hardly recover from his surprise.
At this juncture the boat, which was now sailing on the surface of the ocean, was hailed by another, which soon came alongside, and a young man stepped on board:
"Is this Mr. William Swindon?" he asked.
"Yes, sir; that's my name," said William.
"Well, I am the representative of the Universal Press Association, central branch, New York city. I should like a full account of your trip for the morning papers, and will pay you a hundred thousand dollars cash for the exclusive right to use it in every country on the face of the globe. Will you consent?"
Would he consent! William felt that, though his trip was ended, his surprising adventures had only begun, and this last stroke of fortune completely unnerved him.
The rest of our story is soon told. Our hero, after sending the tale of his adventures to the papers, telephoned to his mother and friends to let them know he was safe, and then leisurely made his way home, stopping at all the interesting countries on his long journey.
Wherever William went he was hailed as a hero. Magnificent pageants of air-ships bearing wonderful electric lights were arranged in honor of the intrepid youth who had dared to make the first journey through the earth. In a word, he was everywhere received with ovations that might well have turned the head of a less sensible lad.
An hour had sufficed to make the trip going, but it took him over a month to return. He was rich now, and neither he nor his mother need ever fear want again. Dr. Giles received him with open arms, and Flora fairly beamed with delight as she listened to the tale of his curious adventures.
The account of our hero's trip was published far and wide, and the celebrity thus obtained brought him numerous demands for contributions from the various magazines of the day, and thus led him to take up writing as a vocation, a field in which he achieved a high degree of success.As for the transportation company Dr. Giles had organized, I regret to say that it was dissolved, as the dangers from the central heat of the earth
"MAGNIFICENT PAGEANTS OF AIR-SHIPS PEAKING WONDERFUL ELECTRIC LIGHTS WERE ARRANGED IN HONOR OF THE INTREPID YOUTH."
Mr. Curtis was jubilant, and repeated "I told you so" a dozen times a day, as though it were better for humanity that he should have been in the right than that a great improvement in the methods of transportation should have been effected. But Dr. Giles readily forgave him, for he could not help remembering that, had it not been for this gentleman's timely warning in regard to the centrifugal force of the earth, William would certainly have paid the penalty of the oversight with his life.
Dr. Giles regretted the failure of his enterprise deeply; but as for the stock-holders, it is pleasant to be able to say that they lost nothing, as the returns from the electrical power they had furnished to different cities during the five years in which the construction of the tube was in progress not only paid for all the capital sunk in the enterprise, but left a handsome margin of profit besides.