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Book I Jules Verne

The Residuum Of A Continent

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He pushed onwards along the rugged surface of the rock, but had not proceeded far before he came to a sudden pause. His foot had come in contact with something hard beneath the snow, and, stooping down, he picked up a little block of stony substance, which the first glance revealed to be of a geological character altogether alien to the universal rocks around. It proved to be a fragment of dis-colored marble, on which several letters were inscribed, of which the only part at all decipherable was the syllable "Vil."

"Vil--Villa!" he cried out, in his excitement dropping the marble, which was broken into atoms by the fall.

What else could this fragment be but the sole surviving remnant of some sumptuous mansion that once had stood on this unrivaled site? Was it not the residue of some edifice that had crowned the luxuriant headland of Antibes, overlooking Nice, and commanding the gorgeous panorama that embraced the Maritime Alps and reached beyond Monaco and Mentone to the Italian height of Bordighera? And did it not give in its sad and too convincing testimony that Antibes itself had been involved in the great destruction? Servadac gazed upon the shattered marble, pensive and disheartened.

Count Timascheff laid his hand kindly on the captain's shoulder, and said, "My friend, do you not remember the motto of the old Hope family?"

He shook his head mournfully.

"Orbe fracto, spes illoesa," continued the count--"Though the world be shattered, hope is unimpaired."

Servadac smiled faintly, and replied that he felt rather compelled to take up the despairing cry of Dante, "All hope abandon, ye who enter here."

"Nay, not so," answered the count; "for the present at least, let our maxim be Nil desperandum!"

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Off on a Comet
Jules Verne

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