Marco Polo will doubtless shift uneasily in his grave at the strange story I am called upon to chronicle; a story as strange as a Munchausen tale. It is also incongruous that I, a disbeliever, should be the one to edit the story of Olaf Jansen, whose name is now for the first time given to the world, yet who must hereafter rank as one of the notables of earth.
I freely confess his statements admit of no rational analysis, but have to do with the profound mystery concerning the frozen North that for centuries has claimed the attention of scientists and laymen alike.
However much they are at variance with the cosmographical manuscripts of the past, these plain statements may be relied upon as a record of the things Olaf Jansen claims to have seen with his own eyes.
A hundred times I have asked myself whether it is possible that the world's geography is incomplete, and that the startling narrative of Olaf Jansen is predicated upon demonstrable facts. The reader may be able to answer these queries to his own satisfaction, however far the chronicler of this narrative may be from having reached a conviction. Yet sometimes even I am at a loss to know whether I have been led away from an abstract truth by the ignes fatui of a clever superstition, or whether heretofore accepted facts are, after all, founded upon falsity.
It may be that the true home of Apollo was not at Delphi, but in that older earth-center of which Plato speaks, where he says: "Apollo's real home is among the Hyperboreans, in a land of perpetual life, where mythology tells us two doves flying from the two opposite ends of the world met in this fair region, the home of Apollo. Indeed, according to Hecataeus, Leto, the mother of Apollo, was born on an island in the Arctic Ocean far beyond the North Wind."
It is not my intention to attempt a discussion of the theogony of the deities nor the cosmogony of the world. My simple duty is to enlighten the world concerning a heretofore unknown portion of the universe, as it was seen and described by the old Norseman, Olaf Jansen.
Interest in northern research is international. Eleven nations are engaged in, or have contributed to, the perilous work of trying to solve Earth's one remaining cosmological mystery.
There is a saying, ancient as the hills, that "truth is stranger than fiction," and in a most startling manner has this axiom been brought home to me within the last fortnight.
It was just two o'clock in the morning when I was aroused from a restful sleep by the vigorous ringing of my door-bell. The untimely disturber proved to be a messenger bearing a note, scrawled almost to the point of illegibility, from an old Norseman by the name of Olaf Jansen. After much deciphering, I made out the writing, which simply said: "Am ill unto death. Come." The call was imperative, and I lost no time in making ready to comply.
Perhaps I may as well explain here that Olaf Jansen, a man who quite recently celebrated his ninety-fifth birthday, has for the last half-dozen years been living alone in an unpretentious bungalow out Glendale way, a short distance from the business district of Los Angeles, California.
It was less than two years ago, while out walking one afternoon that I was attracted by Olaf Jansen's house and its homelike surroundings, toward its owner and occupant, whom I afterward came to know as a believer in the ancient worship of Odin and Thor.
There was a gentleness in his face, and a kindly expression in the keenly alert gray eyes of this man who had lived more than four-score years and ten; and, withal, a sense of loneliness that appealed to my sympathy. Slightly stooped, and with his hands clasped behind him, he walked back and forth with slow and measured tread, that day when first we met. I can hardly say what particular motive impelled me to pause in my walk and engage him in conversation. He seemed pleased when I complimented him on the attractiveness of his bungalow, and on the well-tended vines and flowers clustering in profusion over its windows, roof and wide piazza.
I soon discovered that my new acquaintance was no ordinary person, but one profound and learned to a remarkable degree; a man who, in the later years of his long life, had dug deeply into books and become strong in the power of meditative silence.
I encouraged him to talk, and soon gathered that he had resided only six or seven years in Southern California, but had passed the dozen years prior in one of the middle Eastern states. Before that he had been a fisherman off the coast of Norway, in the region of the Lofoden Islands, from whence he had made trips still farther north to Spitzbergen and even to Franz Josef Land.
When I started to take my leave, he seemed reluctant to have me go, and asked me to come again. Although at the time I thought nothing of it, I remember now that he made a peculiar remark as I extended my hand in leave-taking. "You will come again?" he asked. "Yes, you will come again some day. I am sure you will; and I shall show you my library and tell you many things of which you have never dreamed, things so wonderful that it may be you will not believe me."
I laughingly assured him that I would not only come again, but would be ready to believe whatever he might choose to tell me of his travels and adventures.
In the days that followed I became well acquainted with Olaf Jansen, and, little by little, he told me his story, so marvelous, that its very daring challenges reason and belief. The old Norseman always expressed himself with so much earnestness and sincerity that I became enthralled by his strange narrations.
Then came the messenger's call that night, and within the hour I was at Olaf Jansen's bungalow.
He was very impatient at the long wait, although after being summoned I had come immediately to his bedside.
"I must hasten," he exclaimed, while yet he held my hand in greeting. "I have much to tell you that you know not, and I will trust no one but you. I fully realize," he went on hurriedly, "that I shall not survive the night. The time has come to join my fathers in the great sleep."
I adjusted the pillows to make him more comfortable, and assured him I was glad to be able to serve him in any way possible, for I was beginning to realize the seriousness of his condition.
The lateness of the hour, the stillness of the surroundings, the uncanny feeling of being alone with the dying man, together with his weird story, all combined to make my heart beat fast and loud with a feeling for which I have no name. Indeed, there were many times that night by the old Norseman's couch, and there have been many times since, when a sensation rather than a conviction took possession of my very soul, and I seemed not only to believe in, but actually see, the strange lands, the strange people and the strange world of which he told, and to hear the mighty orchestral chorus of a thousand lusty voices.
For over two hours he seemed endowed with almost superhuman strength, talking rapidly, and to all appearances, rationally. Finally he gave into my hands certain data, drawings and crude maps. "These," said he in conclusion, "I leave in your hands. If I can have your promise to give them to the world, I shall die happy, because I desire that people may know the truth, for then all mystery concerning the frozen Northland will be explained. There is no chance of your suffering the fate I suffered. They will not put you in irons, nor confine you in a mad-house, because you are not telling your own story, but mine, and I, thanks to the gods, Odin and Thor, will be in my grave, and so beyond the reach of disbelievers who would persecute."
Without a thought of the farreaching results the promise entailed, or foreseeing the many sleepless nights which the obligation has since brought me, I gave my hand and with it a pledge to discharge faithfully his dying wish.
As the sun rose over the peaks of the San Jacinto, far to the eastward, the spirit of Olaf Jansen, the navigator, the explorer and worshiper of Odin and Thor, the man whose experiences and travels, as related, are without a parallel in all the world's history, passed away, and I was left alone with the dead.
And now, after having paid the last sad rites to this strange man from the Lofoden Islands, and the still farther "Northward Ho!", the courageous explorer of frozen regions, who in his declining years (after he had passed the four-score mark) had sought an asylum of restful peace in sun-favored California, I will undertake to make public his story.
But, first of all, let me indulge in one or two reflections:
Generation follows generation, and the traditions from the misty past are handed down from sire to son, but for some strange reason interest in the ice-locked unknown does not abate with the receding years, either in the minds of the ignorant or the tutored.
With each new generation a restless impulse stirs the hearts of men to capture the veiled citadel of the Arctic, the circle of silence, the land of glaciers, cold wastes of waters and winds that are strangely warm. Increasing interest is manifested in the mountainous icebergs, and marvelous speculations are indulged in concerning the earth's center of gravity, the cradle of the tides, where the whales have their nurseries, where the magnetic needle goes mad, where the Aurora Borealis illumines the night, and where brave and courageous spirits of every generation dare to venture and explore, defying the dangers of the "Farthest North."
One of the ablest works of recent years is "Paradise Found, or the Cradle of The Human Race at the North Pole," by William F. Warren. In his carefully prepared volume, Mr. Warren almost stubbed his toe against the real truth, but missed it seemingly by only a hair's breadth, if the old Norseman's revelation be true.
Dr. Orville Livingston Leech, scientist, in a recent article, says:
"The possibilities of a land inside the earth were first brought to my attention when I picked up a geode on the shores of the Great Lakes. The geode is a spherical and apparently solid stone, but when broken is found to be hollow and coated with crystals. The earth is only a larger form of a geode, and the law that created the geode in its hollow form undoubtedly fashioned the earth in the same way."
In presenting the theme of this almost incredible story, as told by Olaf Jansen, and supplemented by manuscript, maps and crude drawings entrusted to me, a fitting introduction is found in the following quotation:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void." And also, "God created man in his own image." Therefore, even in things material, man must be God-like, because he is created in the likeness of the Father.
A man builds a house for himself and family. The porches or verandas are all without, and are secondary. The building is really constructed for the conveniences within.
Olaf Jansen makes the startling announcement through me, an humble instrument, that in like manner, God created the earth for the "within" -- that is to say, for its lands, seas, rivers, mountains, forests and valleys, and for its other internal conveniences, while the outside surface of the earth is merely the veranda, the porch, where things grow by comparison but sparsely, like the lichen on the mountain side, clinging determinedly for bare existence.
Take an egg-shell, and from each end break out a piece as large as the end of this pencil. Extract its contents, and then you will have a perfect representation of Olaf Jansen's earth. The distance from the inside surface to the outside surface, according to him, is about three hundred miles. The center of gravity is not in the center of the earth, but in the center of the shell or crust; therefore, if the thickness of the earth's crust or shell is three hundred miles, the center of gravity is one hundred and fifty miles below the surface.
In their log-books Arctic explorers tell us of the dipping of the needle as the vessel sails in regions of the farthest north known. In reality, they are at the curve; on the edge of the shell, where gravity is geometrically increased, and while the electric current seemingly dashes off into space toward the phantom idea of the North Pole, yet this same electric current drops again and continues its course southward along the inside surface of the earth's crust.
In the appendix to his work, Captain Sabine gives an account of experiments to determine the acceleration of the pendulum in different latitudes. This appears to have resulted from the joint labor of Peary and Sabine. He says: "The accidental discovery that a pendulum on being removed from Paris to the neighborhood of the equator increased its time of vibration, gave the first step to our present knowledge that the polar axis of the globe is less than the equatorial; that the force of gravity at the surface of the earth increases progressively from the equator toward the poles."
According to Olaf Jansen, in the beginning this old world of ours was created solely for the "within" world, where are located the four great rivers — the Euphrates, the Pison, the Gihon and the Hiddekel. These same names of rivers, when applied to streams on the "outside" surface of the earth, are purely traditional from an antiquity beyond the memory of man.
On the top of a high mountain, near the fountain-head of these four rivers, Olaf Jansen, the Norseman, claims to have discovered the long-lost "Garden of Eden," the veritable navel of the earth, and to have spent over two years studying and reconnoitering in this marvelous "within" land, exuberant with stupendous plant life and abounding in giant animals; a land where the people live to be centuries old, after the order of Methuselah and other Biblical characters; a region where one-quarter of the "inner" surface is water and three-quarters land; where there are large oceans and many rivers and lakes; where the cities are superlative in construction and magnificence; where modes of transportation are as far in advance of ours as we with our boasted achievements are in advance of the inhabitants of "darkest Africa."
The distance directly across the space from inner surface to inner surface is about six hundred miles less than the recognized diameter of the earth. In the identical center of this vast vacuum is the seat of electricity — a mammoth ball of dull red fire — not startlingly brilliant, but surrounded by a white, mild, luminous cloud, giving out uniform warmth, and held in its place in the center of this internal space by the immutable law of gravitation. This electrical cloud is known to the people "within" as the abode of "The Smoky God." They believe it to be the throne of "The Most High."
Olaf Jansen reminded me of how, in the old college days, we were all familiar with the laboratory demonstrations of centrifugal motion, which clearly proved that, if the earth were a solid, the rapidity of its revolution upon its axis would tear it into a thousand fragments.
The old Norseman also maintained that from the farthest points of land on the islands of Spitzbergen and Franz Josef Land, flocks of geese may be seen annually flying still farther northward, just as the sailors and explorers record in their log-books. No scientist has yet been audacious enough to attempt to explain, even to his own satisfaction, toward what lands these winged fowls are guided by their subtle instinct. However, Olaf Jansen has given us a most reasonable explanation.
The presence of the open sea in the Northland is also explained. Olaf Jansen claims that the northern aperture, intake or hole, so to speak, is about fourteen hundred miles across. In connection with this, let us read what Explorer Nansen writes, on page 288 of his book: "I have never had such a splendid sail. On to the north, steadily north, with a good wind, as fast as steam and sail can take us, an open sea mile after mile, watch after watch, through these unknown regions, always clearer and clearer of ice, one might almost say: 'How long will it last?' The eye always turns to the northward as one paces the bridge. It is gazing into the future. But there is always the same dark sky ahead which means open sea." Again, the Norwood Review of England, in its issue of May 10, 1884, says: "We do not admit that there is ice up to the Pole — once inside the great ice barrier, a new world breaks upon the explorer, the climate is mild like that of England, and, afterward, balmy as the Greek Isles."
Some of the rivers "within," Olaf Jansen claims, are larger than our Mississippi and Amazon rivers combined, in point of volume of water carried; indeed their greatness is occasioned by their width and depth rather than their length, and it is at the mouths of these mighty rivers, as they flow northward and southward along the inside surface of the earth, that mammoth icebergs are found, some of them fifteen and twenty miles wide and from forty to one hundred miles in length.
Is it not strange that there has never been an iceberg encountered either in the Arctic or Antarctic Ocean that is not composed of fresh water? Modern scientists claim that freezing eliminates the salt, but Olaf Jansen claims differently.
Ancient Hindoo, Japanese and Chinese writings, as well as the hieroglyphics of the extinct races of the North American continent, all speak of the custom of sun-worshiping, and it is possible, in the startling light of Olaf Jansen's revelations, that the people of the inner world, lured away by glimpses of the sun as it shone upon the inner surface of the earth, either from the northern or the southern opening, became dissatisfied with "The Smoky God," the great pillar or mother cloud of electricity, and, weary of their continuously mild and pleasant atmosphere, followed the brighter light, and were finally led beyond the ice belt and scattered over the "outer" surface of the earth, through Asia, Europe, North America and, later, Africa, Australia and South America. 1
It is a notable fact that, as we approach the Equator, the stature of the human race grows less. But the Patagonians of South America are probably the only aborigines from the center of the earth who came out through the aperture usually designated as the South Pole, and they are called the giant race.
Olaf Jansen avers that, in the beginning, the world was created by the Great Architect of the Universe, so that man might dwell upon its "inside" surface, which has ever since been the habitation of the "chosen."
They who were driven out of the "Garden of Eden" brought their traditional history with them.
The history of the people living "within" contains a narrative suggesting the story of Noah and the ark with which we are familiar. He sailed away, as did Columbus, from a certain port, to a strange land he had heard of far to the northward, carrying with him all manner of beasts of the fields and fowls of the air, but was never heard of afterward.
On the northern boundaries of Alaska, and still more frequently on the Siberian coast, are found boneyards containing tusks of ivory in quantities so great as to suggest the burying-places of antiquity. From Olaf Jansen's account, they have come from the great prolific animal life that abounds in the fields and forests and on the banks of numerous rivers of the Inner World. The materials were caught in the ocean currents, or were carried on ice-floes, and have accumulated like driftwood on the Siberian coast. This has been going on for ages, and hence these mysterious bone-yards.
On this subject William F. Warren, in his book already cited, pages 297 and 298, says: "The Arctic rocks tell of a lost Atlantis more wonderful than Plato's. The fossil ivory beds of Siberia excel everything of the kind in the world. From the days of Pliny, at least, they have constantly been undergoing exploitation, and still they are the chief headquarters of supply. The remains of mammoths are so abundant that, as Gratacap says, 'the northern islands of Siberia seem built up of crowded bones.' Another scientific writer, speaking of the islands of New Siberia, northward of the mouth of the River Lena, uses this language: 'Large quantities of ivory are dug out of the ground every year. Indeed, some of the islands are believed to be nothing but an accumulation of drift-timber and the bodies of mammoths and other antediluvian animals frozen together.' From this we may infer that, during the years that have elapsed since the Russian conquest of Siberia, useful tusks from more than twenty thousand mammoths have been collected."
But now for the story of Olaf Jansen. I give it in detail, as set down by himself in manuscript, and woven into the tale, just as he placed them, are certain quotations from recent works on Arctic exploration, showing how carefully the old Norseman compared with his own experiences those of other voyagers to the frozen North. Thus wrote the disciple of Odin and Thor:
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1 The following quotation is significant; "It follows that man issuing from a mother-region still undetermined but which a number of considerations indicate to have been in the North, has radiated in several directions; that his migrations have been constantly from North to South." — M. le Marquis G. de Saporta, in Popular Science Monthly, October, 1883, page 753.