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The Underground City Jules Verne

On The Revolving Ladder

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"No indeed, Jack; I am perfectly able myself to educate the person who is to be my wife."

"Sure that will be a great deal better, Harry!"

"But, first of all," resumed Harry, "I wish that Nell should gain a real knowledge of the upper world. To illustrate my meaning, Jack, suppose you were in love with a blind girl, and someone said to you, 'In a month's time her sight will be restored,' would you not wait till after she was cured, to marry her?"

"Faith, to be sure I would!" exclaimed Jack.

"Well, Jack, Nell is at present blind; and before she marries me, I wish her to see what I am, and what the life really is to which she would bind herself. In short, she must have daylight let in upon the subject!"

"Well said, Harry! Very well said indeed!" cried Jack. "Now I see what you are driving at. And when may we expect the operation to come off?"

"In a month, Jack," replied Harry. "Nell is getting used to the light of our reflectors. That is some preparation. In a month she will, I hope, have seen the earth and its wonders-- the sky and its splendors. She will perceive that the limits of the universe are boundless."

But while Harry was thus giving the rein to his imagination, Jack Ryan, quitting the platform, had leaped on the step of the moving machinery.

"Hullo, Jack! Where are you?"

"Far beneath you," laughed the merry fellow. "While you soar to the heights, I plunge into the depths."

"Fare ye well. Jack!" returned Harry, himself laying hold of the rising ladder; "mind you say nothing about what I have been telling you."

"Not a word," shouted Jack, "but I make one condition."

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"What is that?"

"That I may be one of the party when Nell's first excursion to the face of the earth comes off!"

"So you shall, Jack, I promise you!"

A fresh throb of the machinery placed a yet more considerable distance between the friends. Their voices sounded faintly to each other. Harry, however, could still hear Jack shouting:

"I say! do you know what Nell will like better than either sun, moon, or stars, after she's seen the whole of them?"

"No, Jack!"

"Why, you yourself, old fellow! still you! always you!" And Jack's voice died away in a prolonged "Hurrah!"

Harry, after this, applied himself diligently, during all his spare time, to the work of Nell's education. He taught her to read and to write, and such rapid progress did she make, it might have been said that she learnt by instinct. Never did keen intelligence more quickly triumph over utter ignorance. It was the wonder of all beholders.

Simon and Madge became every day more and more attached to their adopted child, whose former history continued to puzzle them a good deal. They plainly saw the nature of Harry's feelings towards her, and were far from displeased thereat. They recollected that Simon had said to the engineer on his first visit to the old cottage, "How can our son ever think of marrying? Where could a wife possibly be found suitable for a lad whose whole life must be passed in the depths of a coal mine?"

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The Underground City
Jules Verne

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