WE learned that the males do not marry before they are from seventy-five to one hundred years old, and that the age at which women enter wedlock is only a little less, and that both men and women frequently live to be from six to eight hundred years old, and in some instances much older. 18
During the following year we visited many villages and towns, prominent among them being the cities of Nigi, Delfi, Hectea, and my father was called upon no less than a half-dozen times to go over the maps which had been made from the rough sketches he had originally given of the divisions of land and water on the "outside" surface of the earth.
I remember hearing my father remark that the giant race of people in the land of "The Smoky God" had almost as accurate an idea of the geography of the "outside" surface of the earth as had the average college professor in Stockholm.
In our travels we came to a forest of gigantic trees, near the city of Delfi. Had the Bible said there were trees towering over three hundred feet in height, and more than thirty feet in diameter, growing in the Garden of Eden, the Ingersolls, the Tom Paines and Voltaires would doubtless have pronounced the statement a myth. Yet this is the description of the California sequoia gigantea; but these California giants pale into insignificance when compared with the forest Goliaths found in the "within" continent, where abound mighty trees from eight hundred to one thousand feet in height, and from one hundred to one hundred and twenty feet in diameter; countless in numbers and forming forests extending hundreds of miles back from the sea.
The people are exceedingly musical, and learned to a remarkable degree in their arts and sciences, especially geometry and astronomy. Their cities are equipped with vast palaces of music, where not infrequently as many as twenty-five thousand lusty voices of this giant race swell forth in mighty choruses of the most sublime symphonies.
The children are not supposed to attend institutions of learning before they are twenty years old. Then their school life begins and continues for thirty years, ten of which are uniformly devoted by both sexes to the study of music.
Their principal vocations are architecture, agriculture, horticulture, the raising of vast herds of cattle, and the building of conveyances peculiar to that country, for travel on land and water. By some device which I cannot explain, they hold communion with one another between the most distant parts of their country, on air currents.
All buildings are erected with special regard to strength, durability, beauty and symmetry, and with a style of architecture vastly more attractive to the eye than any I have ever observed elsewhere.
About three-fourths of the "inner" surface of the earth is land and about one-fourth water. There are numerous rivers of tremendous size, some flowing in a northerly direction and others southerly. Some of these rivers are thirty miles in width, and it is out of these vast waterways, at the extreme northern and southern parts of the "inside" surface of the earth, in regions where low temperatures are experienced, that fresh-water icebergs are formed. They are then pushed out to sea like huge tongues of ice, by the abnormal freshets of turbulent waters that, twice every year, sweep everything before them.
We saw innumerable specimens of bird-life no larger than those encountered in the forests of Europe or America. It is well known that during the last few years whole species of birds have quit the earth. A writer in a recent article on this subject says: 19
"Almost every year sees the final extinction of one or more bird species. Out of fourteen varieties of birds found a century since on a single island — the West Indian island of St. Thomas — eight have now to be numbered among the missing."
Is it not possible that these disappearing bird species quit their habitation without, and find an asylum in the "within world"?
Whether inland among the mountains, or along the seashore, we found bird life prolific. When they spread their great wings some of the birds appeared to measure thirty feet from tip to tip. They are of great variety and many colors. We were permitted to climb up on the edge of a rock and examine a nest of eggs. There were five in the nest, each of which was at least two feet in length and fifteen inches in diameter.
After we had been in the city of Hectea about a week, Professor Galdea took us to an inlet, where we saw thousands of tortoises along the sandy shore. I hesitate to state the size of these great creatures. They were from twenty-five to thirty feet in length, from fifteen to twenty feet in width and fully seven feet in height. When one of them projected its head it had the appearance of some hideous sea monster.
The strange conditions "within" are favorable not only for vast meadows of luxuriant grasses, forests of giant trees, and all manner of vegetable life, but wonderful animal life as well.
One day we saw a great herd of elephants. There must have been five hundred of these thunder-throated monsters, with their restlessly waving trunks. They were tearing huge boughs from the trees and trampling smaller growth into dust like so much hazel-brush. They would average over 100 feet in length and from 75 to 85 in height.
It seemed, as I gazed upon this wonderful herd of giant elephants, that I was again living in the public library at Stockholm, where I had spent much time studying the wonders of the Miocene age. I was filled with mute astonishment, and my father was speechless with awe. He held my arm with a protecting grip, as if fearful harm would overtake us. We were two atoms in this great forest, and, fortunately, unobserved by this vast herd of elephants as they drifted on and away, following a leader as does a herd of sheep. They browsed from growing herbage which they encountered as they traveled, and now and again shook the firmament with their deep bellowing. 20
There is a hazy mist that goes up from the land each evening, and it invariably rains once every twenty-four hours. This great moisture and the invigorating electrical light and warmth account perhaps for the luxuriant vegetation, while the highly charged electrical air and the evenness of climatic conditions may have much to do with the giant growth and longevity of all animal life.
In places the level valleys stretched away for many miles in every direction. "The Smoky God," in its clear white light, looked calmly down. There was an intoxication in the electrically surcharged air that fanned the cheek as softly as a vanishing whisper. Nature chanted a lullaby in the faint murmur of winds whose breath was sweet with the fragrance of bud and blossom.
After having spent considerably more than a year in visiting several of the many cities of the "within" world and a great deal of intervening country, and more than two years had passed from the time we had been picked up by the great excursion ship on the river, we decided to cast our fortunes once more upon the sea, and endeavor to regain the "outside" surface of the earth.
We made known our wishes, and they were reluctantly but promptly followed. Our hosts gave my father, at his request, various maps showing the entire "inside" surface of the earth, its cities, oceans, seas, rivers, gulfs and bays. They also generously offered to give us all the bags of gold nuggets — some of them as large as a goose's egg — that we were willing to attempt to take with us in our little fishing-boat.
In due time we returned to Jehu, at which place we spent one month in fixing up and overhauling our little fishing sloop. After all was in readiness, the same ship "Naz" that originally discovered us, took us on board and sailed to the mouth of the river Hiddekel.
After our giant brothers had launched our little craft for us, they were most cordially regretful at parting, and evinced much solicitude for our safety. My father swore by the Gods Odin and Thor that he would surely return again within a year or two and pay them another visit. And thus we bade them adieu. We made ready and hoisted our sail, but there was little breeze. We were becalmed within an hour after our giant friends had left us and started on their return trip.
The winds were constantly blowing south, that is, they were blowing from the northern opening of the earth toward that which we knew to be south, but which, according to our compass's pointing finger, was directly north.
For three days we tried to sail, and to beat against the wind, but to no avail. Whereupon my father said: "My son, to return by the same route as we came in is impossible at this time of year. I wonder why we did not think of this before. We have been here almost two and a half years; therefore, this is the season when the sun is beginning to shine in at the southern opening of the earth. The long cold night is on in the Spitzbergen country."
"What shall we do?" I inquired.
"There is only one thing we can do," my father replied, "and that is to go south." Accordingly, he turned the craft about, gave it full reef, and started by the compass north but, in fact, directly south. The wind was strong, and we seemed to have struck a current that was running with remarkable swiftness in the same direction.
In just forty days we arrived at Delfi, a city we had visited in company with our guides Jules Galdea and his wife, near the mouth of the Gihon river. Here we stopped for two days, and were most hospitably entertained by the same people who had welcomed us on our former visit. We laid in some additional provisions and again set sail, following the needle due north.
On our outward trip we came through a narrow channel which appeared to be a separating body of water between two considerable bodies of land. There was a beautiful beach to our right, and we decided to reconnoiter. Casting anchor, we waded ashore to rest up for a day before continuing the outward hazardous undertaking. We built a fire and threw on some sticks of dry driftwood. While my father was walking along the shore, I prepared a tempting repast from supplies we had provided.
There was a mild, luminous light which my father said resulted from the sun shining in from the south aperture of the earth. That night we slept soundly, and awakened the next morning as refreshed as if we had been in our own beds at Stockholm.
After breakfast we started out on an inland tour of discovery, but had not gone far when we sighted some birds which we recognized at once as belonging to the penguin family.
They are flightless birds, but excellent swimmers and tremendous in size, with white breast, short wings, black head, and long peaked bills. They stand fully nine feet high. They looked at us with little surprise, and presently waddled, rather than walked, toward the water, and swam away in a northerly direction. 21
The events that occurred during the following hundred or more days beggar description. We were on an open and iceless sea. The month we reckoned to be November or December, and we knew the so-called South Pole was turned toward the sun. Therefore, when passing out and away from the internal electrical light of "The Smoky God" and its genial warmth, we would be met by the light and warmth of the sun, shining in through the south opening of the earth. We were not mistaken. 22
There were times when our little craft, driven by wind that was continuous and persistent, shot through the waters like an arrow. Indeed, had we encountered a hidden rock or obstacle, our little vessel would have been crushed into kindling-wood.
At last we were conscious that the atmosphere was growing decidedly colder, and, a few days later, icebergs were sighted far to the left. My father argued, and correctly, that the winds which filled our sails came from the warm climate "within." The time of the year was certainly most auspicious for us to make our dash for the "outside" world and attempt to scud our fishing sloop through open channels of the frozen zone which surrounds the polar regions.
We were soon amid the ice-packs, and how our little craft got through. the narrow channels and escaped being crushed I know not. The compass behaved in the same drunken and unreliable fashion in passing over the southern curve or edge of the earth's shell as it had done on our inbound trip at the northern entrance. It gyrated, dipped and seemed like a thing possessed. 23
One day as I was lazily looking over the sloop's side into the clear waters, my father shouted: "Breakers ahead!" Looking up, I saw through a lifting mist a white object that towered several hundred feet high, completely shutting off our advance. We lowered sail immediately, and none too soon. In a moment we found ourselves wedged between two monstrous icebergs. Each was crowding and grinding against its fellow mountain of ice. They were like two gods of war contending for supremacy. We were greatly alarmed. Indeed, we were between the lines of a battle royal; the sonorous thunder of the grinding ice was like the continued volleys of artillery. Blocks of ice larger than a house were frequently lifted up a hundred feet by the mighty force of lateral pressure; they would shudder and rock to and fro for a few seconds, then come crashing down with a deafening roar, and disappear in the foaming waters. Thus, for more than two hours, the contest of the icy giants continued.
It seemed as if the end had come. The ice pressure was terrific, and while we were not caught in the dangerous part of the jam, and were safe for the time being, yet the heaving and rending of tons of ice as it fell splashing here and there into the watery depths filled us with shaking fear.
Finally, to our great joy, the grinding of the ice ceased, and within a few hours the great mass slowly divided, and, as if an act of Providence had been performed, right before us lay an open channel. Should we venture with our little craft into this opening? If the pressure came on again, our little sloop as well as ourselves would be crushed into nothingness. We decided to take the chance, and, accordingly, hoisted our sail to a favoring breeze, and soon started out like a race-horse, running the gauntlet of this unknown narrow channel of open water.
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18 Josephus says: "God prolonged the life of the patriarchs that preceded the deluge, both on account of their virtues and to give them the opportunity of perfecting the sciences of geometry and astronomy, which they had discovered; which they could not have done if they had not lived 600 years, because it is only after the lapse of 600 years that the great year is accomplished." — Flammarion, Astronomical Myths, Paris p. 26.
19 "Almost every year sees the final extinction of one or more bird species. Out of fourteen varieties of birds found a century since on a single island — the West Indian island of St. Thomas — eight have now to be numbered among the missing."
20 "Moreover, there were a great number of elephants in the island: and there was provision for animals of every kind. Also whatever fragrant things there are in the earth, whether roots or herbage, or woods, or distilling drops of flowers or fruits, grew and thrived in that land." — The Cratylus of Plato.
21 "The nights are never so dark at the Poles as in other regions, for the moon and stars seem to possess twice as much light and effulgence. In addition, there is a continuous light, the varied shades and play of which are amongst the strangest phenomena of nature." — Rambrosson's Astronomy.
22 "The fact that gives the phenomenon of the polar aurora its greatest importance is that the earth becomes self-luminous; that, besides the light which as a planet is received from the central body, it shows a capability of sustaining a luminous process proper to itself." — Humboldt.
23 Captain Sabine, on page 105 in "Voyages in the Arctic Regions," says: "The geographical determination of the direction and intensity of the magnetic forces at different points of the earth's surface has been regarded as an object worthy of especial research. To examine in different parts of the globe, the declination, inclination and intensity of the magnetic force, and their periodical and secular variations, and mutual relations and dependencies could be duly investigated only in fixed magnetical observatories."